Archive for March, 2015

Western Watchins #122



I once was going to marry this other girl until I met my wife one day and everything changed. I realized I never simply want to exist, I want to live! I once figured I’d die in Orlando. Maybe in a Costo parking lot. Then I visited the Old Reno outside of Tucson one day and everything changed as I realized I’d die in Arizona…after a shootout…maybe in a Costco parking lot…on the streets of Tombstone. I once felt that thousands of friends was a necessity, then, so many people revealed themselves to be wishy-washy, back stabbing “it’s best for business” types and everything changed. I realized the few who would take any bullet for you meant more than the multitude just waiting to put one in you. These are some ponderous ponderings, illustrating the point that one moment, one minute, one millisecond can flip-fuck every calm and metered expectation you think you have all figured out for yourself. Last week, had you told me I would soon be watching Tomas Milian in a film and enjoying myself as I did so, I would have asked how much it cost you. “Cost me for what?” you’d question. “Cost you to fill up full of bullshit everyday because son, that’s some bullshit right there” I casually reply as I back away from the conversation and your fountain like spewing of that shit most particular to a bull. If you read last week’s Watchins you’ll know exactly how I felt about Life is Tough, eh Providence? and its main star. I have to believe that even a bumblebee orgy held at the world’s premier bumblebee swingers’ club would feature less bumble-fuckery than that spectacularly awful film. Ergo, I sat stunned when who should appear on my screen acting competently but this desert drunk specter of rugged, pathos fueled intensity?



I liked The Bounty Killer (The Ugly Ones when first released) probably as a result of watching it all completely sytmied and put so off guard by Mr. Milian’s performance as José Gómez. Last week’s utter ass-clown was now this week’s Big Bad bad-ass, a multileveled and malevolent Mexican now stood where mere days ago had been only a slapstick sonofabitch from Whothefuckcaresville. His steadily shifting eyes, his smooth on the edge of a gravel road voice and that trademark, high pitched, out of control giggling at the most inappropriate times was all there but now all of that had a script, a setting and numerous side characters allowing for Bounty Killer to completely eschew the ridiculous in lieu of mostly riveting. José was outstanding. Having a great foil to clash against didn’t hurt either:



That’s Richard Wyler, a live action Sterling Archer as Luke Chilson, the tough-as-nails yet smart-as-college-educated-nails bounty hunter who’s on the hunt for José’s bounty. He may end up killing him as is possibly given away by the poorly transposed title of the latter American release. Milian’s guy-who-was-wronged-using-that-as-an-excuse-to-go-bad was a peculiar mix of sympathetic and scumbag while Wyler remained constant avoiding the prevalent trope of the day to feature a morally ambiguous protagonist. Luke Chilson was, like Boba Fett and many other famous real world bounty hunters, just doing his deadly job while still preferring to bring in his quarry alive. He had Gómez and the Goméz gang to constantly contend with plus, as an added bonus, a small village full of dumbshits hell bent on defending their former friend (Gómez) turned right now murdering bastard (still Gómez!) Said villagers including all your standards like “retired sheriff guy” and “Guy who looks like Mario Brega because he is Mario Brega guy.” You also had a kindly older couple who were kind of bigger pacif-idiots than all the rest. I didn’t recognize either of them unless you count the fact that the wife looked a lot like this:



It was creepy. She looked like a terrible cosplay of Mother and was terribly distracting in her obviously fake grey hair. Now matter how they had styled her though, it wouldn’t have mattered. Halina Zalewska also lived in town.



Gorgeous! And tragic too from what I’ve found. She only appeared in a few more films after this one before dying in a fire at the age of 36. Knowing that, her performance adds a somberness to an already haunting production. The Bounty Killer feels like it takes place on Mars. I’ve seen desolate locales in the past of course but this sparse landscape populated by only a few forlorn phantoms makes this seem like a story set in an aimless purgatory where sinners are left to sulk in the aftermath of poor choices and missed opportunities. No one lived out there whether good or evil, everyone simply existed. When you lack direction decisions become meaningless, just more distractions that won’t ever fill up all the hollow you’ve got inside of you.



A weight hung upon all these characters turning them tangible in a way I haven’t often felt wading through any film. There’s several inexplicably perfect shots taken and Death was many times outmaneuvered as is the case with most silver screen shootouts but there were also a number of outstandingly normal reactions and behaviors on display. The comforting mundane. As actions of cruelty went unchecked all that normalcy stared at you accusingly. We’ve all been on the edge of right and wrong with nothing but our nuts to see us through. I’ve not always acted courageously and Bounty Killer reflected that imperfect humanity in all of us. It was bitter to recognize but beautiful too. Bad guys on film are so bad right? They’re not at all like you an me and easy to despise because of it. The villains this week weren’t so plain as for you to avoid noticing that their flavor was a mite similar to yours. Maybe not always, but at some point we’ve all made excuses, we’ve all been cruel. While you might not endorse Jóse Goméz, you sure as hell understood him even if that understanding stuck sideways in your gut. 

Conversely, the “good” folks in the film struggled to act accordingly as well. There was occasional bravery and it stood out like bleached driftwood floating on a darkened sea. People brought their cowardice to the boiling point and finally realized that heads down and mouths shut wasn’t any kind of way to got through life even if it meant riskin’ livin’. Scumbags, cretins and cocksuckers we’ll have always with us. The villagers living in this story, and you living in yours, have a decision to make. You gonna’ take a knee or take up the fight? It’s a substantial question that’ll take the volumes of your days to properly answer and a fine film here for asking it.

4 rounds in the cylinder for The Bounty Killer. A standout among the many throwaways from its era, surreptitiously strong and worth a watchin’. I’m now even looking forward to the next time Tomas Milian’s path crosses with mine, counting this turn as the folk hero turned fuck a personal favorite. He was a spectacularly mad dog and enjoyable to the last. After my initial assumptions of the man last week I can now stand before you pleasantly corrected. You ride long enough and you’ll find that a willingness to offer second chances smooths out the road ahead considerably. Forgiveness is always an option.

Unless someone’s still being a dick.

Then it’s probably best you just shoot them or unfriend them or something.  

Western Watchins #121



What I first suspected after last watching ¡Three Amigos! I have now painfully confirmed by taking in Life is Tough, eh Providence? It’s a spaghetti western comedy released as La vita, a volte, è molto dura, vero Provvidenza? in its place of origin which was surprisingly Italy and not three shits deep in Satan’s second colon as I would have guessed. It was a huge success though, spawning an immediate sequel.

And I can’t give you one adequate reason why.

I’m a comedian. It’s easy for me to make people laugh and I enjoy all kinds of comedy from way up on high right down to “suck my dirty balls you dirty ball sucking bastard.” Falling down can be funny, getting up can be too. Thoughtful paragraphs of words, or just one word or no words at all can be used to generate a great deal of giggles and guffaws but Life is Tough lived up to its title and will be remembered as one of my toughest challenges to date. From 1972, it seems to have once been a fresh and hilarious product that has by now certainly spoiled. Yum. Ready to dig in? Great. Meet Providence:



If you took the Three Stooges and made them terrible, you’d get this guy. If you took Buster Keaton and made him irritating, you’d get this guy. If you took Hitler and made him worse, you’d get this goddamn guy. This movie didn’t make me laugh once unless you count the time I started pissing all over myself because my central nervous system was shutting down in a desperate attempt to save me from this film. Now that was funny. Tomas Milian portrayed this eponymous asshole with asshole like aplomb. He’s a part time bounty hunter with the rest of his time filled up being a fucktard, which is all the fucktarding time.

Traveling to and fro he’s got a scheme to capture, collect upon and then free before capturing all over again, one unlucky lawbreaker nicknamed “The Hurricane Kid.”



Greg Palmer brought him to life and would soon reprise the role for the sequel because he hates you. His character wasn’t as grating as Providence but the material both he and Milian had to work with was so awful from the get-go right up through the final go-fuck-yourself that in the end there was little difference between the two. Palmer would go on to star in a movie late in his career called Early Warning which is something I would have appreciated before starting this one. I was more comfortable and found more humor watching these two interact on screen than at any point Providence and The Kid were forced upon me.

Later in the same decade as this release, Mel Brooks would reach his apex with a series of classic productions. A similar style of humor to those films, and even to this one, would carry pop-culture comedy by itself for another twenty years. So what went wrong whilst Providence was looking down in a failed attempt to grace us all? Admittedly, the script’s translation went a long way towards building the handbasket that Life is Tough reveled in riding all over my sanity. Several joking references and puns were included to appeal to American audiences, many of them anachronistic and none of them funny. The story itself had merit but was so inundated with idiocy that is was all I could do to pay attention to the overall narrative. So, the dialog lacked that age old x-factor of “being good” but words were not entirely to blame here. Every pratfall and physical gag was overdone, stretched out and utterly painful to observe much like an old porn star’s dick. Except in this movie you got two dicks. And they were always getting into wacky situations:



LOOK! The Hurricane Kid fell down and made an absurdly hollowed hole! Because he’s a fat, clumsy hole making motherfucker!    



WITNESS! Providence is going to school some local tools with an old fashioned hustle. But ordinary hustling is for strippers and Paul Newman, oh no, he’ll win a wad of cash acting like a wad of fuck! 



BEHOLD! Milian and Palmer apparently reviewing the script:

“Hmmm, hee-hee, ahem! It says here we’re supposed to be funny in this scene!”

“Huh-hah-a-golly! Why start now!”

In this scene they were actually discussing the breakup of their partnership which the movie had never even established. This confusion would matter not. In short order the film flung us into the abyss of an ending I can only describe as “indescribably fucking horrible on all levels.”

The goofy, jack-assinine and even mildly incoherent…I used to love this kind of stupid shit but this shit was so stupid I must now be a stupider shit for having seen it all. I just watched the rhino birthing scene from Ace Ventura 2 and still found it highly amusing and recently re-watched Johnny Dangerously finding that it has similarly weathered time’s tempestuous tossings rather well. Sadly, I have noticed that some of what used to crack me up only disappoints me these days. Even master Mel can’t avoid it as Spaceballs simply isn’t as great as it used to be and History of the World: Part I is outright unwatchable. The aforementioned ¡Three Amigos! is another casualty of my changing tastes. Perhaps I would have laughed my ass off at Life is Tough, eh Providence? back in the day but as I saw it now, over four laborious viewing sessions, the only thing it gave my ass was interminable pain. Not one chortle, snigger or hee-haw in sight for either me or my buttocks.

1 round in the cylinder for Life is Tough, eh Providence? There is a time for everything. The time for laughing along with this movie has long since passed. It was off-putting the way modern convention culture is. This movie is the dude who pairs goggles with any costume and declares himself “steampunk” (a fuck), this movie is the cosplayer who never breaks character (a bigger fuck), this movie is that person attending a convention who looks down, often past his neckbeard, on all others as if he’s not a nerd like the rest of us (the biggest fuck of them all!)

The only redeeming thing to come out of this movie will be next week’s surprising review. Can’t spoil it right now amigos so y’all have to come on back then ya hear? Just keep your distance from Providence in the meantime. 

I guarantee it’ll be a happier ride for you if you do.

Western Watchins #120



If you ever watched Jaws 4: The Revenge and wondered if it could have been a better movie had a buffalo been chasing Ellen Brody around the Bahamas instead of a tired rubber shark, then 1977’s highest grossing film about a white buffalo (entitled The White Buffalo) might be just the kind of film about which you were wondering. This time around, the tortured soul tormented by an animatronic asshole animal is none other than Charles Bronson. Death Wish minus one architect vigilante and plus one inexplicably demonic bison is basically this movie. 

There will be a reckoning, but Charles arrives out west in need of redemption moreso than revenge. He has some Native American issues and some buffalo nightmare issues neither of which are fully fleshed out, moderately explained or even intensely alluded too. A few throw away lines and a few dream sequences, to ensure the producers were getting their robot buffalo money’s worth, is all as an audience we’re going to get from this movie. The White Buffalo is by far one of the hodgiest and podgiest creations I’ve ever come across during my walks through the Western genre. It’s a frontier Frankenstein’s monster featuring many historically authentic pieces that never congeal into anything at all resembling actual history. If you’re looking for a great example of this, look at this great example: 



Framing our protagonist is an iconic mound of buffalo bones, symbolic of the gross disrespect we as humans are capable of, the pile grim down to its last alabaster piece. Scenes like this were commonplace back in the outrageously over-hunted 19th century. In front of that sickly stack, wearing the goggles, fedora and not even one Colt 1851 Navy, is Wild Bill Hickok. Scenes like this never happened because history isn’t fucking stupid. The real Wild Bill would surely admit that the co-opting of his namesake for purely, I guess, narrative validity purposes was a bigger blindside than anything he ever encountered inside of Nuttall and Mann’s. Nothing at all against Bronson’s acting but his character had nothing at all to do with James Butler Hickok. Call him “Feral Frank Fuckit” and this would have instantly been a better production. Even “Santa Claus and Doctor Octopus Save Cheyenne” makes more sense than most of the mismatched material here. And at least the look was there for that one:



The ham-fisted fist-fucking of facts didn’t stop with Bill either. Tom Custer shows up but is never distinguished from his more famous brother George Armstrong Custer. He has a hard-on for Bill and his cavalry troops are gonna be the ones to give him his Happy Ending. Why does he hate Bill so much? Why does the white buffalo? Why do the writers of The White Buffalo? None of this gets answered, but it is true that the real Wild Bill took on at least two drunken 7th Cavalry douchebags one night in Kansas so see kids, Bronson really is the not real Wild Bill after all. And his hunting partner is none other that Charlie Zane. The real Charles Zane had a white beard, probably didn’t personally know Wild Bill Hickok, was a territorial judge in Utah and hated polygamists. Movie Zane had a white beard. The only quarry real Zane ever hunted was Mormons and that was only in courtrooms as far as I can tell. I gather that the only thing Jack Warden hunted down while portraying movie Zane was the craft services table. And don’t forget everything you know about Crazy Horse. Or do. It’s not going to matter.



Will Sampson of course kicks ass in the role. Few people can pull off sensitive masculinity, shading vim with vulnerability, as he always did. He was amazing as Ten Bears in Josey Wales, a character loosely based on an actual Comanche Chief and he’s amazing here as Crazy Horse, a character loosely based on words pulled out of a bag at random. Like cast mates Bill, Tom and Charlie, “Crazy Horse” is mildly recognizable and was thus included to lend his street cred to this gutter trash of a yarn. It’s as if the writing staff needed you to know a great deal about American history and then also be fucking retarded.

What wasn’t suffering from diminished capacity was this tale’s true star. The White Buffalo:



Here he is with Charles Bronson at the film’s premier and although he may look fake and plastic I can assure you, that is the real Charles Bronson. Creature effect duties fell to one Carlo Rambaldi. Does that name sound familiar? It did to me too, so I searched the internet and found this picture of him with a maquette of Hilary Clinton:



Rambaldi, an Oscar winning special effects maestro, was most well for his work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, various versions of King Kong, something called E.T. and…wha…DUNE and ALIEN!?!?! That Rambaldi? Jesus Christ, how retarded am I? Maybe I wrote The White Buffalo? Proper historical placement was lacking in this movie but the same can never be said of proper prop buffalo placement. He did drool a bit too much, like a Krispy Kreme icing waterfall or whatever you call that thing at a Krispy Kreme that glazes the “hot-fresh-now” doughnuts that I want to lay under or put my wife’s ass through, but yes, Rambaldi’s buffalo is a bit ambitious on the salivatory side still performing well however in all other aspects.



Here’s the beastie running full tilt. Many critics, who are assholes, argue that you can often see the mechanisms propelling him down the buried tracks upon which he trounced. Today this critter wouldn’t fare any better than a “B” movie but we weren’t all jaded, critical assholes back in the 70s. You could argue that modern technology has rendered practical effects obsolete but look at this CGI buffalo flying along from The Last Airbender:



Who’s the asshole now? It’s you asshole! CGI is slick and has its place but it should be a tool used in modern live-action cinema, never the whole tool box. White Buffalo‘s action sequences were edited in a way as to cover up most of the shortcomings. If they were there I didn’t notice or didn’t care. The bottom line is that robotic buffalo always look cool. If you don’t feel the same way, feel free to take your concerns up with:


These robotic buffalo from EPCOT’s “The Land” ride/attraction!



Or Terrashock the Buffaloid from the new Transformers: Robots in Disguise!



Or this amazing metal statue of a buffalo that just hasn’t realized he’s a robot yet!



Or this awesome buffalo-a-coaster that is also not a robot yet still speaks to me! For bonus confirmation ask the Indian between passenger cars four and five. That fucker knows himself some buffalo!



Or “Whitey B”, as I call him, the white buffalo who has more movies under his belt than most of us do!



He wasn’t just cool, he was cool as fuck. When he came charging at the camera it really did look a whole lot like someone was about to get fucked by one gigantic, drool dripping, fur covered, fuck machine.

WARNING: Do not Google “gigantic, drool dripping, fur covered, fuck machine.”

3 rounds in the cylinder for The White Buffalo. It’s not a masterpiece of the Western genre, it’s not even a masterpiece of the Sunday morning when I watched it instead of dusting, but I was enamored enough. Some sensible performances and immersive, period-accurate-to-the-point-of-confusion dialogue both had trouble making the meandering script do much except bring you from the title card to the credits. Lots and lots of famous figures in this one too but, like a bucket of big, dry dicks, putting them all in just because you can doesn’t mean it’s going to feel that great. I will never know why the buffalo was so mad, his I’m-going-to-mow-you-down motivation to remain forever a mystery. In the end though it wasn’t about the buffalo’s journey, or even Wild Bill’s. This movie was really only a complete and reasonable chapter in Crazy Horse’s life. In that way, this movie that made no sense makes a lot of it. 

We all play parts in each others’ lives, at times never fully grasping the good, bad or ugly we may have brought to our sisters and brothers. It can be obvious but more often the moments slip by without seeming important to us. We have to remember that those moments might have been entirely for someone else.

You ride true and it has a way of making more than just your own life better amigos. So, whether you’re facing down the storm or just a saccharine sunset, I think you know what to do.

Western Watchins #119


We all knew this was coming. Vivo o, Preferibilmente, Morti AKA Alive or Preferably Dead AKA Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid came up just last week and thus, like a perilously full colon, I figured it best to handle the likely mess sooner rather than “oops, I shit my pants.” This was my third attempt at a Giuliano Gemma led film with Wanted being a mixed bag of “good” and “bad” preceded by The Price of Power being a mixed bag of “fuck” and “this movie”, so my hopes were not set particularly high. I was not to be disappointed in my presumed disappointment which is a shame because I like old Giuliano, God rest his soul. It’s probably because he’s an actor who did most of his own stunts just like my close friend Kyle. And also because he somewhat looks like my friend Kyle, again just like my close friend Kyle. In fact, I found this picture on the internet and couldn’t remember if it was from a Giuliano Gemma movie or from that summer when Kyle and I were paperboys at the turn of the century and Kyle accidentally sat on a whole pile of thumbtacks early one morning:



Man, what a day that was if it ever happened right? Kyle might still have tacks in his taint to this day. Not fun. But Gemma always seems to be having a good time, taint tacks or not, and paying the audience back in kind. Sadly though, all I’ve seen of his work has been him making the best out of some of the absolute worst (plotting, scripting, other actor-ing) but his performances are a strikingly solid mass floating amongst the diuretic detritus of most everything else around him. His co-stars Nino Benvenuti and Sydney Rome looked their parts, as Gemma’s estranged relative and a kidnapped babe who overstays her welcome respectively, but their characters were flatter than week old road kill standing around as empty shells for unremarkable dialogue despite feasting on all the scenery in sight. Rome is way too into the kidnapping scenario so her mannerisms and ear drum debilitating chatter is to be expected. This is a comedy and oh my how wacky it was when she turned the tables on her would be ransomers.



Her every utterance was an auditory terror. In the above scene with Nino she’s talking about breakfast or how great her hair looks or how much she’s enjoying life on the lam maybe. I wasn’t sure because it all sounded like this:



On the other side of the sonic spectrum was Benvenuti. I can’t imagine that he dubbed his own dialogue due to the fact he’s a native Italian and his voice on screen was so brazenly bo-hick that had he only spoken in creative conjugations of “consarnit” I would not have batted an eye. Andy Devine and Slim Pickens would come off as euphonious Shakespearean regulars by comparison. Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane would watch him thinking “geezus man, take it down a notch.” His word delivery was suspect but his fist delivery was spot on, probably due to the fact that Nino Benvenuti is unquestionably the greatest Italian boxer in history. I mean that he boxed well and was from Italy, as previously stated, and not that he specifically targeted Italians for beat downs. He was not a racist athlete choosing to pummel anyone from everywhere ending his professional career with 82 wins, 7 losses and 1 draw. Amazing. And one of those losses was against a dude named Dick Tiger which, if you have to lose at some point, losing to Dick Tiger is the way to do it.

Losing is a part of life and with foreign films something is always lost in translation. I’ll bet Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid wasn’t spectacular to begin with. Its anglicisation, including the meaningless titular Butch and Sundance reference, did it no favors. Where this movie can be of interest to fans of the genre, or fans of ax fights on runaway trains, is once the ax fight starts on the runaway train.



This is slightly pre ax/runaway but you can still sense the excitement in the air. And if you squint hard enough it sure looks like (left to right) an old Nathan Fillion is ready to fend off assailants along with Kyle and three of the Time Bandits! Mal and some midgets aside…wait, my bad…gotta be sensitive…it’s Captain Mal and some midgets aside, the stunt work on this final action sequence was innovative and superb. Giuliano was diving car to car, in and out and up in so much shit that for the first time in the film I was ready to give some of my own. These were real moments of intensity, the camera right on his face capturing his carefree calisthenics as he leapt like a gunslinging gibbon to and fro. His hesitant partner Nino was preoccupied for a bit but once the caboose broke loose so too did all hell and at its head stood one fine steel swingin’, former boxing ringin’, protagonist:



Should he be holding it all ax-backwards? This guy won 91% of the fights he ever contested (96% if you include his amateur bouts) so he can wield how ever he goddamn feels. The final showdown twixt him and the movie’s big bad was so delightfully destructive and slice-your-head-off serious, it was hard to imagine that moments like this one below had occurred earlier in the film:



Oh those wacky makers of Spaghetti Westerns, with their amazing ability to blend bumfuckery with badassery. I salute every fucking bum and every ass that’s oh so bad.

3 rounds in the cylinder for Sundance Cassidy and Butch the Kid. A little Brewster’s Millions meets Monty Python all out somewhere in old time cactus country. Minus the cacti of course, not many of those to be found on the Italian peninsula. Not too much to be found in the way of a good movie here either but a few things that could have made a really great one.  The action was blue-ribbon, but the comedy was often bottom drawer and the character development was so painfully one dimensional that a few even appeared to be de-evolving over the course of the film culminating in a final scene featuring such a hard 180° the original audiences could have collected, class-action style, due to whiplash. Imagine Bruce Willis being dead the whole movie but really he was alive. Or if the Rebel Alliance had fired another torpedo to put the Death Star back together. Of if E.T. was busting his wrinkly ass for two hours just to remain on Earth. Or…and…uuuhhhhhh…



Exactly. If you come across this one in your journeys and have nothing truly better to do then enjoy it for the passable patchwork it is. Just know it’s more shitty-shitty than bang-bang and you won’t be too mightily upset come the credits. 

Hasta luego folks. Honk, honk, awooogaaah.


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