Sunday, February 26, 2017

Nomads (John McTiernan, 1986)

Let's see. How should I describe the gang of L.A. street toughs who manage to repeatedly bewilder the living bejesus out of Pierce Bronsan's bearded, French-accented anthropologist character in Nomads, John "Die Hard" McTiernan's lone stab at making an Andrzej Żuławski-style urban thriller? Middle-aged troublemakers? Mature mutants? Cretins of a certain age? Or how 'bout this: Nomadic punks... who aren't exactly youthful? What I think I'm trying to say is, I loved how the punks at the centre of this bizarre tale were all over thirty, or, in some cases, forty. Technically, I should be able to dress anyway I want. However, society has made-up a bunch of rules that dictate what people should wear. And one of these rules involves people over thirty not being allowed to dress like punks and goths. Or, in some rare cases, goth punks. Well, not only did this film make it seem okay, it somehow was able to temporarily soothe my anxiety in a way that no other film that features Remington Steele beating the lead singer from Adam and the Ants with a tire iron has ever done. You see, I feel like my time is running out when it comes to becoming the goth princess of my dreams. Yet, seeing a thirty-ish Josie Cotton and a forty-something Mary Woronov strutting around L.A. in sleazy, goth-friendly punk rock threads managed to placate a modicum of my fear. Of course, it's going to take a lot more than a non-ageist movie from the mid-1980s to fix what's wrong with the universe. But I have to say, seeing Mary Woronov dance erotically in a black slip was like receiving shot of uncut estrogen directly into my bloodstream. In other words, it made me feel good and junk.

What's weird about the gang Mary Woronov belongs to is that none of them speak. (Not even their leader?) No, their leader, played by Adam Ant, doesn't say a word. This muted display on their part gave the film a surreal, almost European quality to it. While it's obvious the film takes place in Los Angeles, no one in the film behaves like your typical L.A. resident. In fact, I'd say no film, other than maybe Into the Night or Miracle Mile, has ever made L.A. seem this odd before. But then again, a character does call L.A. the world's largest beach parking lot at one point. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that L.A. is rife with free-roaming punks and freaks...

Let's recap, shall we? Adam Ant, Mary Woronov, Josie Cotton, Frank Doubleday and Héctor Mercado play the mute members of a nomadic gang of street punks who mystify an anthropologist who is studying nomadic peoples...

How a leggy E.R. doctor, Dr. Eileen Flax (Lesley-Anne Down), ends up being a part of the story is a tad convoluted, but she... ("A tad convoluted?) Okay, fine. It doesn't really make a lot of sense.

Nevertheless, watching Pierce Brosnan and Lesley-Anne Down struggle to come to grips with their unique dilemma was pretty entertaining.

Should I take another shot at explaining the plot? Um, I don't know. Personally, I would much rather focus my attention on Mary Woronov, as this film is an outstanding showcase for the lithe actress. Of course, it does seem strange that she doesn't have any dialogue (her voice is one of her best features). But you gotta love any film that gives Mary Woronov four distinct close-ups.

The first MW close-up comes when Pierce Brosnan's Jean Charles Pommier tracks down the street punks that keep spray painting graffiti on walls of the house he and his wife, Niki (Anna Maria Monticelli), recently moved in to, to the beach. While secretly taking pictures of them, we get a great shot Miss Woronov sitting on a beach-adjacent bench.

Wearing a beige sweater over a black slip, torn black stockings, black fingerless gloves and studded bracelets, Mary looks like a middle-aged punk goddess. It's clear that she doesn't give a fuck. And why should she?

The second MW close-up comes when Pierce, who is still stalking the street punks, tracks them down in an alleyway later that night. Still wearing what she had on at the beach, Mary takes off the beige sweater and does a sexy dance for Pierce on the hood of a parked car.

It should go without saying, but Mary looks amazing during this sequence. Oh, if only my legs looked as good as Mary's legs do in this movie. Oh, if only... Wait a minute... my legs not only look as good as Mary's legs look in this movie, they look, dare I say, better. Who would thought I would turn out to be a leggy milf. Crazy world.

The third MW close-up comes when Lesley-Anne Down's friend/potty-mouthed co-worker, Cassie (Jeannie Elias), is confronted by Mary in her car. Approaching Cassie's car, Mary pretends to be selling flowers. But we all know that's merely a ruse. No, something sinister is going on. Sinister or not, this scene gives us our best view of the multitude of silver rings that adorn Mary's fingers.

The forth and final MW close-up comes when Lesley-Anne Down and Anna Maria Monticelli are hiding in the attic. Thinking they're safe from the punk onslaught that has befallen them, Mary Woronov suddenly comes crashing through the ceiling... or is it the floor? Whatever. The sly grin she gives them is classic Mary Woronov. Not allowing her character to speak is not going to prevent her innate charisma to shine through.

What's that? Why were Lesley-Anne Down and Anna Maria Monticelli cowering in the attic? How the hell should I know? I told you, the movie isn't your typical slab of 1980s era punksploitation.

Are you ready for this... the punks may or may not be related to an Inuit demon who wants to possess Pierce Brosnan's soul.

I know, what are Inuit demons doing in Los Angeles? I mean, shouldn't they be hanging out in Arctic or something. Hey, I'm just the messenger. In other words, I didn't write this flick. That being said, the film, while confusing at times, does manage to maintain an effectively creepy atmosphere for most of its running time.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Emanuelle Around the World (Joe D'Amato, 1977)

The plucky intrepid photojournalist from Emanuelle In America is back, and this time it's, um... I wouldn't say it's personal, as being forced to watch a dog rape a woman or a shapely milf show mild discomfort over the fact that her garter belt clip is digging into her thigh aren't exactly things I'd call "personal." Think about it, she is not an active participant, she is merely a spectator. No, I'd say it's more unsettling than anything else. I mean, imagine a world where stockings caused pain. Exactly, it's not a world I would want to live in, either. Now, granted, dogs raping women in Macau is pretty heinous. But I think most sane or close to sane people will agree that the sight of a milfy blonde experiencing garter-based distress is much more disturbing. To make things even more disturbing, her step-son and Emanuelle are hiding in a nearby closet.  Luckily for the milfy blonde, she has her girlfriend by her side to alleviate her hosiery troubles. And what happens after this nylon dilemma has been solved? Duh, cunnilingus. It's true, I'm trying to focus on one of the few scenes in Joe D'Amato's Emanuelle Around the World that doesn't end in an orgy of degrading sexual violence in order to maintain my mental health. But how long can I continue to talk about a five minute scene that revolves around stockings and cunnilingus?

I don't know, but I think I just gave myself a challenge. Let's see, where does the stocking scene fit in the overall scheme of this odious slab of Italian trash?

As most of you already know, Laura Gemser's Emanuelle is a reporter who travels the world in order to expose corruption and criminality of the unsavory variety. While in Rome, she convinces two women to join a sting operation to bring down a sex slave operation run by a deformed man with pus-laden right eye.

Never one to go into a sticky situation without a solid plan B, Emanuelle enlists the help of a mildly hunky motorcyclist. When the mildly hunky motorcyclist comes through in the clutch, Emanuelle decides to repay him the only way she knows how. That's right, she uses the soft confines of her buttery vagina to thank the mildly hunky motorcyclist for his services.

Well, she would like to do so. But she can't at the moment, as the mildly hunky motorcyclist's step-mom just came abroad the boat, with her girlfriend in tow, just as they were about have European-style sexual intercourse.

It's this exact moment when the mildly hunky motorcyclist's milfy step-mom begins complain to her girlfriend that the clips on her garter belt have begun to dig into her legs. While removing the stockings is the only logical way to alleviate her discomfort, the sight of her stockings being removed caused me to become quite enraged.

Actually, is it, though? (Is it what?) Is removing the stockings the only logical way to alleviate her discomfort? I mean, I'm sure two reasonably intelligent Italian women can figure out a way to solve this garter quandary without having to resort to drastic measures.

Nevertheless, the mildly hunky motorcyclist's milfy step-mom is rewarded with guilt-free cunnilingus. And at the end of the day, that's all that really matters. Though, I have to say, the cunnilingus, from my point of view, anyway, would have been a million times sweeter had the mildly hunky motorcyclist's step-mom's girlfriend's head, no doubt, bobby and weaving in the throes of performing hearty cunnilingus, been framed by the mildly hunky motorcyclist's step-mom's creamy, stocking-encased thighs as the mildly hunky motorcyclist's girlfriend dined heartily on her throbbing Italo-clit. I'm just... yeah.

It should go without saying, but all the women who appear in this film are gorgeous. As for the men, they are a disgusting bouquet of creeps and low-lifes. In fact, I would go as far to say that's there's not an attractive one in the lot.

I mean, it's pretty much one dysphoria-causing bearded face after another.

Seriously. Don't these scumbags know how to shave?

Oh, hello. Who are you? Now that's a sexy man. (Who are you talking about?) While Emanuelle is hiding in the closet with the mildly hunky motorcyclist, her partner, Cora Norman (Karin Schubert), visited by some shady characters. Anyway, I didn't feel dysphoric at all while their leader was on-screen. Sure, his bearded henchmen made me want to chop up my disgusting body and toss the pieces into the nearest active volcano, but still... I dug this guy. Of course, I disagree with what he and his henchmen do in this film (as you might expect, it's monstrous), but... yeah.

Have I mentioned that this film is refreshingly pornographic? No? Damn, I must be slipping or something. At any rate, I wish more films had a sprinkling of porn in them. Though, if you're going to use a body double for the lead actress when it comes time for a hardcore close-up, the least you could do is get someone who has the same skin colour. The woman they got to portray Laura Gemser's vagina as it plowed into a cock during an orgy wasn't close to being Gemser brown.  I don't why they couldn't have just painted her crotch and butt brown. I'm sure they had some brown paint leftover from the can they used on George Eastman, who plays an Indian guru.

Moving on. Whether you like it or not, the film's main theme by Nico Fidenco, which plays close to six times over the course of the film, will not leave your brain willingly. Neither will the dog rape scene, the wooden dildo party, the New York bum rape scene (a group of derelicts rape Miss Ohio for the amusement of a bunch of rich fucks) or the banana penetration scene.

It's not all beastly and foul, the lesbian scene between Laura Gemser and Brigitte Petronio (The House on the Edge of the Park) is kind of tender, as is the well-documented scene that takes place on the boat (ahoy! cunnilingus!). So, yeah. It's beautiful and unpleasant at the same time. Win-win.

Oh, and keep an eye for the cameo by adult film legend Paul Thomas (The Devil in Miss Jones 3: A New Beginning), he plays a truck driver (it occurs during the first few minutes).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fallen Angels (Kar-Wai Wong, 1995)

The freaks come out at night / The freaks come out at night / The freaks come out at night / (the freaks come out!) I know, everyone and their Uncle Gary's third left nut like to start off their reviews of Wong Kar-Wai's Fallen Angels by quoting Whodini's "Freaks Come Out At Night," from their 1984 album, Escape. But I'll be damned, it sure is apt as a motherfucker. You see, the whole movie takes place at night, and I couldn't have been more pleased. Oh, sure, daytime probably still exists in this film's neon-adorned universe. But Wong Kar-Wai has no interest in what goes on during the day. And why should he? His characters are, no doubt, all asleep during the day. And like I said, I couldn't be more pleased. Think about it. Who wants to watch Michelle Reis do stuff during the day? I know I sure don't. In fact, just the mere thought of Michelle Reis doing anything during the day makes my skin crawl. (Are you sure that isn't your seborrheic dermatitis acting up again?) No, it's definitely the prospect of watching Michelle Reis, oh, I don't know, mail a letter at ten in the morning. Ugh. (So, what you're saying is, Michelle Reis looks good while doing stuff at night?) Duh. Haven't you been paying attention? Yes, Michelle... Hell, the whole cast look good while doing stuff at night. And since legendary Hong Kong cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, is filming them, they look extra good.

However, none of the cast can hold a candle... (Yeah, yeah, Michelle Reis looks amazing. We get it.) You don't seem to understand. I want her body, I want her hair, I want her wardrobe... I even want her swaggering insolence. (Wow, "swaggering insolence," eh? I think just popped a lady-boner.) Tell me about it. I'm curious. Is your lady-boner currently pressing oh-so tightly against your panties? Wait, don't answer that. I'm just going to go ahead and assume that it is and move on.

Of course, I don't know if I want her overgrown bangs and disgusting smoking habit. But then again, taking away Michelle Reis's overgrown bangs and nicotine addiction would be a little like asking Eugene Levy to trim his eyebrows or telling Beyoncé to stop being so fierce.

While I'm not a big fan of smoking, there's no denying that cigarettes make movies more... well, cinematic. Okay, imagine this. What if someone, like, oh, how 'bout those pricks George Lucas or Stephen Spielberg, decided to go back and digitally remove every cigarette from every movie in existence? Exactly. It would render all those movies unwatchable. Well, if you took away Michelle Reis's cigarettes, you would not only ruin the movie, you would radically change the temperament of her character.

As for her overgrown bangs... Actually, I shouldn't talk, as my bangs are technically overgrown as well. You know what? Forget I said anything disparaging about Michelle Reis's bangs. What's that? You already have? That's terrific.

Since I recently decided to radically change my life for, hopefully, the better, I've noticed the need to do stuff outside in full view of other people has increased. What I mean is, I can't expect things to change if I continue to avoid other people. While I've made some progress on-line and in the so-called "real world," being social is extremely difficult for me. Well, as I watched the lonely characters that populate this film's nocturnal universe, I couldn't help but relate to their struggles to connect with... other people.

The film essentially follows three characters. An assassin (Leon Lai), his partner/agent (Michelle Reis) and He Zhiwu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), a mute doofus who pretends he works at businesses that are closed.

It would seem that Michelle Reis sets up Leon Lai's "jobs" for him, so, that when he pulls out his guns and goes all Chow Yun-Fat on his targets, things go smoothly. Though, I don't think cleaning his apartment and masturbating in his bed while wearing fishnet and fully-fashioned stockings are really necessary. Or maybe they are. What do I know?

Either way, the shots of them setting up jobs, using public transit, navigating the gleaming rain-soaked streets with a noirish elan, hanging out in bars and doing other gangster shit are gorgeous beyond belief.

The film gets a dose of romantic comedy-style whimsy when Karen Mok, sporting reddish-blonde hair, shows up and forces Leon Lai to be his girlfriend. Okay, it doesn't exactly go down like that. But there's no denying it, Karen Mok does charm the pants off Leon Lai. And it's no wonder, she's a one-woman adorable symposium. Which is what I need to start doing. (You mean be more adorable? That's impossible... you're adorable as fuck.) Yes, I mean, no, I need to start putting myself out there more. In other words, I need to start acting more like Karen Mok in Fallen Angels, and less like... (The little kid from Room?) Sure.

Things go from being romantic to downright goofy when Takeshi Kaneshiro's subplot kicks in. Playing an aimless individual, who, like I said, pretends to work at closed businesses (he forces a man with a ponytail to eat ice cream at an ice cream stand... he doesn't work at), Takeshi, like the other characters, struggles with loneliness, and tries to alleviate it by being obnoxious. I know, being obnoxious sounds like an awful plan. But is it? See all those happy people doing stuff outside. Do you really think they got where they are by not being obnoxious? Of course they didn't.

Now, I'm not saying you should take it to the level that Takeshi does. Nevertheless, a little obnoxiousness doesn't hurt. After all, Takeshi does manage to sort of woo Charlie Yeung, an attractive yet easily agitated woman.

Stylish and brimming with vitality, Fallen Angels is... (Wait, are you done?) Yeah. I'm wrapping this sucker up. (What about Michelle Reis's outfits?) Like I said, I want to wear them all. But if I could only choose one, it would definitely be the shiny black dress with the massive slit she wears when we see her cleaning Leon Lai's apartment for the very first time. I also loved her black fishnets and black rubber gloves.  Anyway, this flick is pretty fucking great.