Tag Archives: Fred Ward

Michael Apted’s Enough

I’ve always liked Michael Apted’s Enough, a slick, scary girl-power flick that’s given heart and personality by Jennifer Lopez, who brightens and classes up anything she headlines. It’s also got a subtly eclectic supporting cast of ice cool character actors/actresses and uses them to great potential too. Despite being predictable (a story like this usually will be in Big Hollywood), the motions it goes through somehow just feel fresh and engaging in ways that not all films like this might be able to whip up. J-Lo plays Slim here, a battered housewife who has the misfortune of being married to Billy Campbell’s Mitch, a terrifying sociopath who beats her senseless. Worse still, he’s a rich and powerful dude with a lot of high profile connections, which makes escaping his tyrannical dominance a tad tricky. She’s got a young daughter (Tessa Allen) who’s caught in the crossfire, and for Slim, enough has become enough. On the run, changing her name and decking herself out with some gnarly hand to hand combat skills are all part of a journey to both freedom and empowerment, an arc that Jennifer makes us believe with her soulful conviction and bruised spirit. Juliette Lewis is a low key scene stealer as her good friend who aids in the escape. Fred Ward does a quietly anarchic turn as her somewhat neglectful father Jupiter, who is clearly not the most compassionate fellow but does his best to right the wrongs of yesteryear with his considerable wealth and resources too. Noah Wyle does a charming scumbag shtick as a dirty cop in Campbell’s pocket who hunts her like a wolf, Jeff Kober is cheerfully menacing as one of his gung ho faux FBI Agent lieutenants, and watch for work from Dan Futterman, Brent Sexton, Michael P. Byrne, Bruce A. Young and Bill Cobbs too. The training J-Lo uses is Krav Maga, a viscerally intense martial art that’s taught to Israeli special forces, and it’s a rush to see her beat the absolute fucking shit out of her shitty asshole husband with it in some close quarters, emotionally charged bone breaking and appliance slamming beatdowns. Her and Campbell have some warped, freaky chemistry too, he’s like some demon who’s been imprisoning her and her the dark angel who strikes back fiercely. Great flick.

-Nate Hill

Michael Apted’s Thunderheart

Thunderheart is a terrific effort that coasted by to fine reviews back in the 90’s and has since not only aged well but earned just a smidge of cult status. It’s a politically charged, racially themed, hard boiled mystery thriller set in and around a troubled Sioux Native Reservation in the badlands of South Dakota. Val Kilmer is the rookie FBI agent assigned to the case, and here’s the kicker: he’s a halfbreed, part American, part Native, and as such the stakes couldn’t be higher or the moral ground more complex for an investigation that’s anything but routine. Politically charged and full of dead ends, red herrings and setups, it’s a knockout of a flick that genuinely keeps you guessing. Kilmer’s character has two mentors, which I saw as the conflict that exists within him from being both a white American lawman and and having Native blood. His senior partner Sam Shepherd is the cynical, jaded hard edge of the bureau, a persona he himself is starting to cultivate, while motorbike riding, salt of the earth Native reservation cop Graham Greene calls attention to his past, the land he’s now on and the people that came before. There’s a lot of ancestral memory tied into the story too, as we see him have visions from hundreds of years ago that guide him through the dangerous and unpredictable mystery he’s trying to solve. Fred Dalton Thompson has a bit as the senator who sends the two agents out there to see what’s up, and character actor Fred Ward is nasty business as a local mercenary who’s perpetually up to no good and almost seems to be based on a real life individual, uncanny that. It’s pulp that makes you think, and has a beating heart behind every bit of intrigue, a film that’s long been underestimated but has a lot more to say than the lurid action movie cover art might suggest. Highly recommended.

-Nate Hill

Cult Rewind: Remo Williams the Adventure Begins

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Frank and Kyle are back with their Cult Rewind series, this time joined by Ben Cahlemer to discuss Guy Hamilton’s REMO WILLIAMS THE ADVENTURE BEGINS. The conversation does take a veer where the three of them discuss the 4K and Ultra High Definition formats, as well as Arrow Video.

One Composer against the Armada: An Interview with Craig Safan by Kent Hill

The film scores that permeated my youth seemed for the longest time to be written mostly by two guys – John Williams and James Horner. Though, while this pair were both loud and prolific – they weren’t the only composers in town.

I come from a time of cinema obsession where the score and the images were indeed one. I cannot imagine the films of that period without their score nor can I hear the scores and not see the images.

Other dominant composers of the period were Bill Conti, Basil Poledouris, Trevor Jones and a man named Craig Safan. To talk about Craig is to talk about The Last Starfighter, for The Last Starfighter was one of the most important films of my formative years, and its score continues to echo through the speakers of my car stereo as I drive off to face the grind daily (or to battle evil in another dimension).

As much as I could have gushed about all the nuances in the Starfighter score for the duration of our chat, it is proper to acknowledge to he (Craig) has written many a great score for both film and television alike. With scores for Remo Williams, The Legend of Billie Jean, Stand and Deliver as well as the small screen’s Amazing Stories and his long run on Cheers. Craig has even scored a video game, and it was cool to hear how the gig for Leisure Suit Larry came is way.

At the end of our chat I told Craig I constantly listen to his Starfighter score in the car. He asked if at anytime did the car convert to a spacecraft and fly me off to join the Star League? There have been days where I wish that had been the case. Though whenever that music is playing there always seems to be a chance that I may yet get my recruitment papers at last, take flight, and go get me a Gun-Star. But till then, have a listen to the extraordinary gentlemen whose music continues to live on in the glorious films of our last golden age.

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . I give you . . . Craig Safan.

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Miami Blues 


Miami Blues is a crime film full of loose ends, incompetence, wanton violence and meandering characters who seem lost within their own story, and I mean all that in the best way possible. Some pulp affairs are sharp, succinctly plotted creatures, every cog in the machine placed to serve the momentum of plot and character, while other efforts have messily dropped the cogs all over the floor for an untethered, ‘wing it’ type approach in which story and character are like aimless leaves blowing about in a restless pond. Isn’t life like that though? There’s no narrative structure to a lot of what we do, and as such there’s little to be found in the tale of highly self destructive, psychotic criminal Alec Baldwin, who has barely left the airport upon arriving in Miami before he’s already got a serious warrant out for his arrest. He’s a violent sociopath who takes what he wants when he wants and, most aggressively, how he wants. He’s also very smart, which is a dangerous mix in anyone whose moral compass has flatlined. His anarchic crime spree gains the attention of an aloof older detective (Fred Ward) whose badge he steals for some good old law enforcement impersonation, leading the poor weary cop on a darkly comical mad goose chase all over town. He also picks up an endearing dumb blonde (Jennifer Jason Leigh, excellent) who’s infatuated with him and blatantly tunes out any and all red flags, of which there are…many. That’s pretty much all there is to it, but with these three actors it’s pure gold. The knowingly audacious arch criminal, the Betty Boop wannabe wifey sidekick and the exasperated, constantly outsmarted copper, a trio of archetypes augmented slightly in favour of each performer’s stellar work. Never takes itself too seriously, knows full well how heinous the turn of events within it’s frames are, yet firmly refuses to not have fun, a cheeky, sexy, sweaty and altogether terrific little venture. 

-Nate Hill

The Crow: Salvation 


Now let’s be real, there’s only one good Crow film. They were just never able to catch that midnight magic again, though they tried, with four more films and a dud of a tv series. Each of the sequels is nearly the exact same as the first, in terms of plot: a man is killed by feral urban thugs, only to be resurrected one year later by a mysterious crow, blessed with invincibility and begins to work his way through the merry band of scumbags in brutal acts of revenge, arriving at the crime lord sitting atop the food chain, usually a freak with vague ties to the supernatural or occult. All the films in the series are structured that way, but only one deviated and tried something slightly different with the formula. City of Angels, the second, is a boring, almost identical retread of the first, it’s only energy coming from a coked up Iggy Pop. Wicked Prayer, the fourth, had a premise with potential aplenty, and turned out so maddeningly awful I’m still dabbing the blood from my eye sockets. Salvation, however, is the third entry and almost finds new air to breathe by altering the premise slightly. Instead of lowlife criminals, it’s a posse of corrupt police detectives who frame an innocent dude (Resident Evil’s Eric Mabius) for crimes they themselves committed, fry him to a crisp in the electric chair and get off scott free. His girlfriend (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) is also killed in the process. Now, not only is it cops instead of criminals, but the arch baddie at the top of the pile is the police commissioner, who has occult written all over him. *Not only* that, but he’s played by Fred Ward, who is brilliant in anything. While nowhere near an iota of the atmosphere or quality of the first film, this one works better than any of the other sequels, thanks to that spark of an idea that changes the game ever so much. The detectives are a nice and skeevy bunch too, played by the reptilian likes of William Atherton, Walton Goggins and others. Ward wears the starched, proper uniform of an authoritative figure, but his eyes gleam with the same secrets and dark magic we saw in the two other previous underworld kingpins, Top Dollar (Michael Wincott) and Judah Earl (Richard Brooks), but it’s that contrast that takes you off guard and makes things more intriguing. And as for Eric, does he hold his own with the others who’ve played the role? Mabius he does, Mabius he doesn’t, you’ll just have to watch and see. He definitely knocks Vincent Perez out of the park, that silly Frenchman. Real talk though, no one will ever dethrone Brandon Lee, not even whatever piss-ant they get for the remake that’s been hovering on the fringes of preproduction for the last half decade. On top of it all we also get Kirsten Dunst, of all people, as a sympathetic attorney who works alongside Mabius to clear his name, as he clears the streets of no-good crooked cops. So there you have it. If you ever find yourself meandering around the kiosks in blockbuster, and see the Crow films lined up on the shelves like emo ducks in a row, the first film will naturally already be rented out. Where then to turn? You can certainly do worse than this one. 

-Nate Hill

Best Men: A Review by Nate Hill 

  

Best Men is the most charming, dainty and innocuous movie about bank robbing that you’ll ever see. It’s premise revolves around a wedding party that unwittingly gets roped into a heist, but they’re all solid folks, including the perpetrator, and all just want the best for the happy couple they are celebrating for. Therein lies both the comedic and the touching moments, of which there are many, supplied by a diverse and very capable cast. A troupe of best men accompany a groom (Luke Wilson) on the way to his matrimonial bliss. One among them is a hotheaded adrenaline junkie named Billy (Sean Patrick Flanery, never more adorable). Billy has knack for robbing banks whilst reciting Shakespeare. Demands, commands, profanities. All in the Bard’s tongue. He brazenly holds up a rural branch and drags his friends in, including two others, an ex military stud (Dean Cain) and a squirrelly, pussy whipped Andy Dick. They soon find themselves trapped in the bank with law enforcement prepping a siege outside their front door and Wilson’s determined Bridezilla (a feisty Drew Barrymore) marching straight into the crime scene to furiously give her fiancé what for. Billy also has severe daddy issues, which probably led to him lashing out in such a theatrical fashion in the first place. Coincidentally, the local sheriff (Fred Ward) happens to be his Poppa, and the two face off in scenes which undermine the lighter tone and dig for pathos that’s worth pausing for. They’re threatened by a gung ho FBI agent (Raymond J. Barry) who wants to blow them to kingdom come so he can go to lunch. They also find themselves sequestered in the bank with a sketchy Viet nam vet played by a wicked funny Brad Dourif in quite the commanding little supporting turn. Amid the screwball roughhousing, him and Cain find a few aching moments of truth relating to Cain’s sexual orientation, and his shame regarding it. I love a light, harebrained comedy, but I love em even more when they take deep breaths between fits of lunacy to gift their characters with some gravity that makes you feel something besides your sides splitting. This ones sadly forgotten, and you should all give it a go, it’s a gem.