The Descendants (2011)

Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Matthew Lillard, Robert Forster, Patricia Hastie, Mary Birdsong, Rob Huebel, Milt Kogan, Laird Hamilton, Michael Ontkean, Matt Corboy, Celia Kenney

Directed by Alexander Payne

Expectations: High, but guarded. Trailer looked boring.


The Descendants is the type of movie I would never actively go out to see in theaters. Not only were the trailers uninteresting, from what I heard of the story it didn’t sound like it would resonate with me. Within this thought lies my wrongdoing, because not only did The Descendants resonate, the issues it deals with transcend the plot specifics of the film and work on a deep, human level. The Descendants also trades in witty, off-beat comedy and by bringing these two disparate elements together, it creates an excellent window into real life. It’s still a Hollywood-produced film so it’s not truly realistic, but the emotions expressed are real and palpable throughout the film.

The Descendants tells the story of Matt King (George Clooney) and his family’s struggle to deal with his wife Elizabeth’s boating accident. It has left her in a coma, with limited chance of survival, and Matt is having a hard time coming to terms with what that means for his life. Caring for their two daughters has always fallen on Elizabeth, so the thought of having to raise his daughters alone frightens him.

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Scanner Cop II: The Showdown (1995)

Scanner Cop II: The Showdown (1995)
AKA Scanner Cop II: Volkin’s Revenge, Scanners IV: Scanner Cop, Scanners: The Showdown

Starring Daniel Quinn, Patrick Kilpatrick, Khrystyne Haje, Stephen Mendel, Robert Forster, Brenda Swanson, Jerry Potter, Jewel Shepard, Tony Fasce

Directed by Steve Barnett

Expectations: Hmm, kinda high. Scanner Cop was dope.

On the general scale:

On the B-Movie scale:


Following up the incredibly entertaining Scanner Cop is a hard task for any filmmaker, but the team behind Scanner Cop II did their best and came away with a pretty fun movie. It’s not nearly as intriguing or well-written, but it makes up for those faults with sheer numbers, as there has to be more scanning going on in this movie than in all four previous Scanners films combined. Every time someone is scanning, they play haunting choral music that seeps into your pores and unsettles your very being… and it’s playing almost constantly during Scanner Cop II because they hardly ever take a break from scanning! They’re scanning people, they’re scanning scanners, they even scan a bomb at one point; simply put, there’s a whole lotta scannin’ goin’ on.

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Vigilante (1983)

Vigilante (1983)
AKA Street Gang, Street Fighters

Starring Robert Forster, Fred Williamson, Richard Bright, Rutanya Alda, Don Blakely, Joseph Carberry, Willie Colón, Joe Spinell, Carol Lynley, Woody Strode

Directed by William Lustig

Expectations: Moderate. I was hoping that I’d enjoy this as much as Walking the Edge.


Vigilante opens with Fred Williamson walking out of complete darkness. He has a cigar in his mouth and ominous, droning electronic music builds in the background. Then he speaks…

“Hey. I don’t know about you guys, but me, I’ve had it up to here. There are some 40-odd homicides a day on our streets. There are over two million illegal guns in this city. Man, that’s enough guns to invade a whole damn country with. They shoot a cop in our city without even thinking twice about it. Ah, come on. I mean, you guys ride the subway. How much more of this grief we gonna stand for, huh? How many more locks we gotta put on our goddamn doors? Now we ain’t got the police, the prosecutors, the courts or the prisons. I mean, it’s over. The books don’t balance. We are a statistic. Now I’m telling you… when you can’t go to the corner and buy a pack of cigarettes after dark because you know the punks and the scum own the street when the sun goes down and our own government can’t protect its own people then I say this pal, you got a moral obligation. The right of self-preservation. Now you can run, you can hide, or you can start to live like human beings again. This is our Waterloo, baby! If you want your city back… you gotta take it. Dig it? Take it!”

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Walking the Edge (1983)

Walking the Edge (1983)
AKA The Hard Way

Starring Robert Forster, Nancy Kwan, Joe Spinell, A Martinez, James McIntire, Wayne Woodson, Luis Contreras, Russ Courtney

Directed by Norbert Meisel

Expectations: Moderate. It could have gone both ways, but I love a good revenge film.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I watched this movie for a couple of reasons. First, when I pulled the filmography of Empire International this was at the top of the list. From what I understand they distributed the film at some level, but seem to have played no part in the actual production. Charles Band is listed as an uncredited executive producer on IMDB as well. I’m not posting this in my Tuesday series, though, as it’s not a true Charles Band picture and it will appeal to a completely different set of viewers. The other reason I watched it was Robert Forster. I must admit that I didn’t know who he was until Tarantino’s Jackie Brown came out, but I was immediately a fan. His subtle nature in that film was so charming and real that I’ve wanted to check out some of his older films ever since. Well, it took 13 years but I’ve finally come around and done just that. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Walking the Edge is the type of movie that you’d see in the video store and would always walk past. It might catch your eye for a moment, but you never took it home despite thinking about it several times. There’s nothing terribly special about it upon first glance, but it reveals itself to be a very competent and enjoyable revenge film. The setup is incredibly simple. The film opens in a house where a group of thugs, led by the great Joe Spinell, hold a woman (Nancy Kwan) and her son hostage. The thugs tell her that her husband is actually a drug dealer and that they’re gonna kill him. When he arrives home, they do just that, but they also end up killing the son. Kwan runs out an open door in the confusion and escapes to take revenge on these insidious motherfuckers later on in the film.

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