Monday, August 31, 2015

Every Which Way But Loose (1978)

Synopsis: Bare-knuckle brawler matches wits with orangutan, trades punches with world’s least-threatening motorcycle gang. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Clint meets Clyde in an all-time comedy smash.” 

What Did I Learn?: It’s not a good idea to address a trucker as “lard ass.” 2) Back in 1978, cantaloupes sold for 29 cents a pound. 


Really?: 1) See: “Synopsis”. Wouldn’t the Black Widows seem a little more dangerous near the end if they hadn’t already been brutally beaten by a bunch of truckers and chased away by Philo’s mom? 2) So wait, an evil cop (Putnam) tracks down Philo in the middle of quiet lake, points a shotgun at him, and casually throws it away to help Philo reel in a big bass? Come on, is he really that stupid? 

Rating: I have to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of the Any/Every Which Way films; while I firmly believe Clint Eastwood has a knack for comedy, these films are a little too crude, and far too dopey for my taste. (I also don’t have any plans to review the sequel, Any Which Way You Can.) I cannot recommend this movie.4.5/10 stars.

Would It Work For a Bad Movie Night?: Sure – take a drink any time Clint throws a punch. You'll be on the floor in minutes.

Two Mules For Sister Sarah (1970)

This would have been perfect for my salute to Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti westerns – Clint more-or-less plays the Man With No Name, even though he goes by “Hogan.” 

Synopsis: Mysterious mercenary murders Maximilian's Mexicans, meets monkish miss, manages mutinous military maneuvers. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Get set for plenty of action as the deadliest man alive takes on a whole army with two guns and a fistful of dynamite.” 

What Did I Learn?: 1) Whisky can make a man hear anything. 2) Rattlesnakes are good eatin’. 3) In Mexico, a nun can travel safely among murderers and thieves. 4) Apparently, discipline within the French army improved tremendously within a single calendar year. 

Really?: 1) See: “What Did I Learn?” So, the entire plan of attack depends upon the garrison troops getting piss-drunk on Bastille Day, and when our heroes discover the fort’s defenders aren’t hammered, they decide to attack, anyway? That seems a little reckless. 2) I realize Sarah needs to pretend to be a nun, but I had a hard time believing she would show as much concern for the remains of her would-be-rapists as she does. Considering she’s a smart cookie, I’m sure she could have found a convenient excuse for leaving them for the vultures. 

Rating: Directed by Don Siegel of Dirty Harry fame, Two Mules For Sister Sarah is a fun action-packed adventure. Interestingly, while MacLaine tried to get out of making this film, she shares some great chemistry with Eastwood, and provides both a love interest for the protagonist, as well as nearly all of the comedic relief. 8/10 stars.

Pink Cadillac (1989)

This would have been perfect for my salute to Clint Eastwood

Synopsis: It’s Clint Eastwood’s greatest cinematic triumph since, um... City Heat and Any Which Way You Can! 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Jump bail and skip-tracer Tommy Nowak (Clint Eastwood) will track you down before the ink on your fake ID is dry. Like a Canadian Mountie, he always gets his man. But will he get his woman – especially one who’s got an infant in her arms, a cool quarter-million or so in the trunk of a stolen ’59 Caddy and an army of machine-gunning goons on her trail?” 

What Did I Learn?: Guys, if you’re ever wanted by the law, and you somehow receive a phone call from a radio show host who claims you’ve won dinner and a concert with Dolly Parton, START RUNNING. 

Really?: Hold on, the white supremacists have no reason (beyond simple paranoia) to suspect that Ricky Z has spoken to Nowak, so why would they take the risk of trashing his studio, and nearly killing him? What if they need his services at some point in the future?  

Rating: Pink Cadillac offers a few laughs (mostly from Eastwood poking fun at his tough-guy image), but it’s not one of his better films; clocking in at 121 minutes, Pink Cadillac is a bit too long, the subject matter is a little disturbing (gun-crazy white supremacists terrorizing a family in their home, and firing indiscriminately at a mother and newborn baby), and the ending seems to have been lifted from an episode of the Dukes of Hazard. 6/10 stars.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Blood Work (2002)

Synopsis: Retired fed decides to risk his fragile health by playing private investigator without a license, and somehow winds up working on exactly the same case that caused his problem in the first place.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “FBI profiler Terry McCaleb almost always gets to the heart of a case. This time, that heart beats inside him.” 

What Did I Learn?: 1) If you can’t protect the integrity of the system, there is no system. 2) You can always con the local constabulary with a box of donuts. 

Really?: 1) See: “Synopsis.” Leaving aside the incredible coincidences involved, it’s funny how the local cops warn McCaleb against sleuthing without a PI license, and they never act upon it – even though one detective clearly hates his guts. 2) So wait, McCaleb sees a parked car,and then decides to blast it in broad daylight – right in front of a cop – in broad daylight? WTF? 3) Did anyone find the romance between McCaleb and Graciella (Wanda DeJesus) just a little creepy? Eastwood is almost 30 years older, for crying out loud! Wouldn’t Anjelica Houston, who plays his doctor, have been a much more suitable partner? 4) Hold on – the killer goes through all of that trouble to save McCaleb’s life, and all he really wants is to resume the cat-and-mouse dynamic between them, and he suddenly decides to ice his worthy adversary, Graciella and the little boy? That’s not a well-conceived ending. 

Rating: Blood Work is an incredibly contrived, and progressively implausible crime drama that’s enjoyable only if you put your brain on “pause.” Eastwood does his best with the material, and Houston is wasted in a nothing role, but Jeff Daniels does a nice job as McCaleb’s mysterious neighbour. 6.5/10 stars.