POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Once again, film goers have spent a ridiculous amount of money this summer on crappy high budget, low return films on the so-called blockbuster season. We’ve just passed the midway point of 2012, and with a few exceptions, most movie have been severely disappointing. People go to the movies to have a story told to them. Don’t get me wrong, visuals are great, but a well told story is what sets a movie into us, and this season’s crop seems to be lacking in that category.
So, with Tinseltown being a massive disappointment for yet another season, and I haven’t even gotten to how tragically unimpressed I already am with the pictures of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, I’m turning to rentals to save the day. Now, I’ve seen lots of movies, but as our pal here on The ThrowDown Johnny Rants likes to say, “the 1970’s were the golden age of movies”. Originality was something studios put at the forefront of the movie process. There wasn’t any of this “hey, lesbians are hot now, let’s rewrite Citizen Kane, but only using lesbians!” Screenwriters came up with pretty original stuff, or at least, retold a few old stories with a fresh set of eyes.
So, if you’re heading into this weekend, not knowing what you’ll kill a couple of hours with, or really want to impress your significant other with some mad rental skills, try my no fail, no frills 1970’s rental selection, and save yourself a few bucks. Here goes:
The Warriors (1979)
What happens when one of the biggest gang lords in New York gets assassinated at the mother of all gang summits, and it gets pinned on a small group of guys from Coney Island? About and hour and a half of sheer run for your life action. Swan, Ajax, Cowboy and the rest of the Warriors have an entire city of gangs looking for blood, and the foot race to Coney Island has the group facing off against bat wielding maniacs, aka Baseball Furies, and the largest gang in the town, the Gramercy Riffs. Trust me, you won’t let your guard down until you hear Joe Walsh’s infectious tune “In the City”, plays over the credits.
People have been dreaming of the perfect vacation long before Total Recall was ever released. Westworld is another movie that deals with pursuit of a different nature. When two best pals head to an amusement park for adults, which among Westworld also offers Roman World and Medieval World, they venture out for an adult game of cowboy fantasy play. The residents are all robots, which allows the visitors to get in staged gunfights, and even interact with the bots in a *ahem* close manner. The dialogue is a bit cheesy, the visuals a bit off, but when Yul Brenner in one of his most iconic roles freaks out as the lead gunslinger robot, the movie hits another gear. Things become freakishly real, and the plodding image of Brenner in his black hat and holding his belt buckle is one that will keep you glued to the story for a measly couple of bucks.
Heaven Can Wait (1978)
I loathe Warren Beatty. His usual cardboard portrayals often parody himself, making most of his work unwatchable. The role of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Joe Pendleton has long been touted as one of the few times film fans actually like Beatty. While on a morning workout, young QB Pendleton is almost struck by a vehicle. Almost. That’s when his newly assigned guardian angel pulls Pendleton’s spirit out prematurely, and Pendleton learns the afterlife is a bit complex. The film deals entirely with Pendleton’s angels working to find him a new body, in which Pendleton acquires one belonging to the rich and evil Leo Farnsworth. Pendleton cares nothing of the money, or Farnsworth’s previous life, and he actually spends all of his time trying to resettle in his former life as a quarterback. Then, he buys the Los Angeles Rams. It’s a funny, romantic comedy that is guaranteed to impress a date. It’s a great bridge movie for men and women, so you don’t have to feel guilty for seeing it. Plenty of sports, plenty of romance. Based on 1941’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan, the plot is great, the writing is impeccable and the all-star cast is phenomenal.
Logan’s Run (1976)
I find nothing creepier than a 1970’s filmmaker that paints a picture of the future. The seventies were strange enough, without weaving tales of what real wackos the human race will evolve into in a few hundred years. Logan’s Run tells a tale of the last survivors of humanity, living under a controlled environment dome. A large city provides inhabitants with everything they desire. There is no hunger, need for money, one is allowed to use drugs or interact sexually in public. Basically, just think of ancient Rome, but without the ruling class. There’s one small catch: at age 30, it’s all over. Check out time. And if one doesn’t comply, well that’s were people like Logan 5 (Michael York) come in. Known as “sandmen”, they have clever guns that shoot electric bolts and fry people who want to be age 31. All that changes when Logan is robbed of his remaining two years and becomes a “runner” himself. He turns against his former companions and tries to escape the domed city to a place known as “sanctuary”. The journey shows where the human race may be headed, and paints a grim picture of how they got there. A must see for any true sci-fi fan.
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Back before Michael Crichton directed Westworld, and waaay before he wrote Jurassic Park, Crichton actually had a pretty messed up imagination that using his background in science, got off on freaking people out. The Andromeda Strain deals with alien invasion, but not the walking, talking or communicating through a laser light show variety. A mere speck from space comes in contact with the town of Piedmont, New Mexico, killing almost all the residents. In typical Crichton fashion, a team of scientists is assembled and is locked away in a control center to study, examine and counter the disease. The scenery doesn’t change much, the acting is forgettable, but the story is one of those late night show you can’t seem to shut off until it ends at 2 a.m. And then, the ending keeps you awake. A real family film! Joking, just see it, you won’t be sorry.
So there you go. Whether you find these flicks at a store or a service like the evil bastards over at Netflix provide, just see ’em. Cheap entertainment, and a look back at when movies had some harrumph to ’em. You can thank your old pal Maddawg later.