Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

The cover to the Australian release on Blu of Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

Film: Here at the To Watch Pile, we love ourselves some Nicolas Cage; heck, last October we dedicated a whole month to his manic acting and freaky-deakiness! What a guy!

Add to this is my secret affection for car movies, which I guess is less secret now, which is weird considering I don’t like driving and don’t own a car. I’ve always been interested in car culture, not so much racing and that sort of thing, but car-related art, documentaries, even pinstriping and TV shows like Pimp My Ride. This of course means that movies that have cars as a part of their aesthetic appeal to me, then add Mr. Cage into the mix… I’m excited!

Gone in Sixty Seconds is the remake of the 1974 film, Gone in 60 Seconds, written and directed (and starring) H. B. Halicki, modernised by scriptwriter Scott Rosenberg, and directed by Dominic Sena, who directed the Hugh Jackman/ John Travolta thriller, Swordfish, and the comic adaptation of Whiteout, starring Kate Beckinsale.

Gone in Sixty Seconds tells the story of Kip Raines (Giovanni Ribisi) who has gone foul of the crime boss Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston) and is going to kill him unless his brother, retired car booster Memphis (Nicolas Cage) can steal 50 cars, of Calitri’s choosing, in a single night, and have them delivered to the docks for export.

The Crew

Memphis gets in touch with his old crew, featuring Sway (Angelina Jolie), Sphinx (Vinnie Jones), Donny (Chi McBride), Otto (Robert Duvall), Tumbler (Scott Caan) and Kip’s new younger crew, Mirror Man (T. J. Cross), Freb (James Duval) and Toby (William Lee Scott) and they come up with an elaborate plan to execute the mission, but there is two things standing in their way.

The first is the interest they have sparked in their reuniting from the police, particularly Detectives Castlebeck (Delroy Lindo) and Drycoff (Timothy Olyphant), and the second is Eleanor (an exquisite Shelby Mustang GT500), a car that Memphis has never been able to successfully steal!

Eleanor

Will they get all the cars to the docks or will Calitri have Kip killed? Who cares, just show us more and more sexy cars!

This is a weird movie for what’s essentially car porn. Sena’s direction is more about the micro looks at the cars, and even though you do get to see most of the cars, it’s prominently at night, so they are shown with a lot of reflection and instead the director has gone with close up of the interiors and the drivers. I guess in a movie that is quite heavily character driven and with so many personalities, that is just as important.

The story is actually a lot of fun and holds up, and I was so surprised to find that it was over 20 years old, well, until I saw how young everyone in it looks! There’s some clunky dialogue but it really adds to the cartoony feel of the whole thing. Even as a movie about crime, this doesn’t have the weight of a serious crime movie that shows that crime doesn’t always pay, but tries to give a warning about crime with an unexpected serious moral quote towards the end, which is like those awful pieces of moralising found at the end of a Masters of the Universe cartoon.

The performances are uneven, which is to be expected when three generations of actors ply their trade together, and it makes for some really silly moments, especially when you combine it with the already clunky dialogue, and I guess that’s where the charm of this lies.

One thing that does really irritate me about this film is the whole film builds up to this one amazing car stunt, that for some reason isn’t wholly a real stunt but instead appears to be a pretty average act of CGI shenanigans. When you consider car porn films lead up to ‘The Big Stunt’, this was a bit of a slap in the face.

Over and above that, cars and Cage: what a double! For me, even though I know it’s pretty bad, but it’s the most guiltiest of pleasures.

Score: **

There’s no menu screen on this disc, except for this pop-up menu.

Extras: All that car porn and so few extras! This is a fairly early disc in the Bluray format that was released for the film, so it weirdly goes straight to the movie and you have to access the extras via your pop-up menu. Even then, all that effort doesn’t result in a very interesting watch.

First we have some film highlights which are just a few of the more unbelievable scenes from the film, and the other is titled The Big Jump, which is a three minute making-of but about the really epic car stunt that occurs towards the end of the film.

Lame.

Score: *

WISIA: This film weirdly has a special place in my heart. It’s so stupid that I can just watch it again and again.

Christopher Eccleston as Raymond Calitri

Drive Angry (2011)

One from the re watch pile…

Drive Angry (2011)

Film: Straight off the bat I need to say one thing: I do not like the 3D gimmick in films. I do not see 3D films at the cinemas, and have no desire to watch it at home. Sure I wouldn’t have minded seeing this in 3D to be able to review its 3D aspect, but whilst my TV and BD equipment is pretty damned good, I am not 3D capable. Quite simply, if I wanted to see something in 3D, I’d go outside instead of sitting in my lounge room eating popcorn and drinking Coke.

Drive Angry is directed/co-written by Patrick Lussier and written by Todd Farmer, who, between them are have a fairly prolific horror breeding having worked either together or apart on My Bloody Valentine 3D, Prophecy 3, Jason X, Dracula 2000 and a whole lot more. I will however point out that ‘prolific’ doesn’t always equal ‘quality’. This time though, with Drive Angry 3D, they are on a winner.

This film tells the tale of John Milton (Nicolas Cage) who has escaped Hell… yes, Hell… with the sole purpose of saving his grandchild from evil cult leader, Jonah King (Billy Burke), whose symbol seems to be a cross between a traditional pentagram, with the crown from the New York Kings gang mounted on top of it. Along the way, Milton meets Piper (Amber Heard), an ass-kicking truck stop waitress with a heart of gold and an absolute rip-snorter of a car who joins him, somewhat involuntarily.

Whilst they are in hot pursuit of the cult though, they have their own pursuers. First there is a charmer known as The Accountant (William Fichtner), an agent of him downstairs who is seeking to reclaim Milton, and Cap (genre stalwart Tom Atkins), a very angry cop who wants to see Milton and Piper dead, at any cost.

Of course, all their paths inevitably collide at a crossroad of sex, violence and automotive fun.

The character of John Milton (get it?) bares more than a little resemblance to the comic character Blaze, who along with Ghost Rider, in the early Nineties was the star of the Marvel comic Spirits of Vengeance, and I can’t help but wonder if Nicolas Cage didn’t notice it too when taking this role, being the huge comic fan he is. Funny thing is, a few years later Marvel re-invented Ghost Rider to drive a super hot car… I wonder if they put these two together?

While on Cage, this role was simply made for him, and I couldn’t imagine another person on the planet that could have played it. Somewhere along the line he plays it as a mix of (again) Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider and Memphis from Gone in Sixty Seconds, which I guess means he is yet again playing an aspect of himself.

Special mentions need to go out to Billy Burke, Amber Heard and William Fichtner. Billy Burke, who I only had ever seen in the Twilight films, proves himself to be much more than the flaccid wet blanket he plays in that series and seems to relish the role of Jonah King. Amber Heard is at her most beautiful, but is also firmly in ass-kicking potty-mouth mode and even I admit that I was shocked by the capacity this lovely young lass has for foul mouthedness. The winner of the entire cast, though was William Fichtner: his role as the Accountant was played so damned cool that he has set a new benchmark that the Fonz could never even aspire.

I have to also say something about the music soundtrack of this film as well: it is an amusing and eclectic bunch of songs that fit perfectly. No doubt you will chuckle along to all the music cues, from Fuck the Pain Away by Peaches to That’s the Way (I Like It) by KC and the Sunshine Band.

Actually, the only thing about watching this film that annoyed me was the lame 3D stuff that was thrown at the screen: not all of it was fake or invasive, but just enough of it was slightly annoying. The rest of the film was a brainless blast!

This film is a bloody and sexy example of supernatural car porn that kicked my arse all over my lounge room. A ton of dumb fun.

Score: ****

Format: Spectacular picture, as you would expect from a new film on Bluray, presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Sexy as Hell soundtrack presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Between shotguns firing and engines rumbling, your neighbours are going to think you’re a having a Texan brouhaha in your living room.

Score: *****

Extras: Drive Angry: Cast and Crew Insight is like a half a commentary, with just pop up screens featuring cast and crew discussing various aspects of the film. Personally I think I would have liked a full commentary instead of this seemingly half-assed effort. Some of the comments were occasionally interesting though.

How to Drive Angry is a traditional making of, but disappointingly featured a lot of the stuff that was used in the Cast and Crew insight pop up video stuff. Still it is a better way to see this stuff as it felt much more complete.

There are a couple of deleted scenes that aren’t missed from the film, and wouldn’t have added anything really anyway.

Score: ***

WISIA: Probably not. It’s a fun watch with some funny stuff but I could think of better things to watch again than this.

Fair Game (1986)

One from the re watch pile…

Fair Game (1986)

Film: After I saw Mark Hartley’s amazing documentary Not Quite Hollywood, I became obsessed with the period of Australian cinema it covered. Not only because it showed me some films I’d never seen before, but it also reminded me of a whole lot of stuff I’d seen on VHS and forgotten.

… and so the copious amount of shopping, both local and tragically international… I mean what a shame one can’t get all the Australian movies here in Australia!!!

To date, of the ones I want to own, the only one that continues to elude me is Lady Stay Dead!

Of all these film that I hadn’t seen before the one I absolutely fell in love with was this film, Fair Game, so back then I searched out the DVD release and thankfully, Australian company Umbrella Entertainment have now released a pretty amazing Bluray of the film.

Fair Game tells the story of Jessica (Cassandra Delaney), the caretaker of a remote wildlife reserve who comes into contact with some pretty dodgy out back versions of good old boys: Sunny (Peter Ford), Ringo (David Sanford) and Sparks (Garry Who). Whilst the boys think they are merely playing with Jessica, Jessica doesn’t see the funny side of their taunts (which include breaking into her house a photographing her whilst she is asleep… definitely crossing a line) and very soon things escalate out of control.

Unfortunately for Jessica, she is very much alone: her phone has stopped working and her car has broken down… could these three miscreants eventually resort to murder… or even worse?

It really doesn’t get more Australian than this film. The red glow of the Australian outback is just as much of a star of this film as the actors involved. Those very actors are pretty amazing at the jobs too. In no way is this a serious film, it is a caricature of a serious rape/ revenge film like I Spit On Your Grave and the actors all play their parts like the cartoonish archetypes that they represent: helpless woman, smarmy badguy, rat-faced henchman and tunny, dumbo second henchman.

The real star of the film though is the car. It’s a cross between a Ford F100, a vehicle from Mad Max and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. It’s a beast and plus a big part in the threatening nature of the film.

It’s a cracker of an Australian film, and everyone should really give it a fair suck of the sav !

Score: ***

Format: This film was reviewed with the Umbrella Entertainment multi-region Bluray which is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a matching 2.0 DTS-HD audio track.

Score: ****

Extras: Heaps of awesome extras on this disc:

Audio Commentary with Director Mario Andreacchio and Writer Rob George

Extended Interview with Cassandra Delaney from Not Quite Hollywood is, what the title would suggest, a 15 minute interview taken from Mark Hartley’s amazing doco about the Australian Ozploitation films called Not Quite Hollywood.

On Location with Fair Game is about three minutes of behind the scenes footage of the scenes surrounding the destruction of the house with The Beast.

Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from NWS9, Action News and Behind the Scenes – 1985 TV Report from ADS-7, State Affair are two news reports of the making of the film. By the looks of the channels it was for regional stations for some colour inbetween ‘real’ news.

Behind the Scenes with Dean Bennett is about an hour of behind the scenes material.

There is a bunch of promotional stuff like a theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

Storyboards shows a pretty cool series of storyboards for the film, shown as a slideshow with the score over the top.

Mario Andreacchio Short Films is obviously a series of short films by Andreacchio which honestly, I could make it all the way through. They do definitely explore the Australian youth experience though.

Score: *****

WISIA: It’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s so over the top you’ll definitely watch it more than once.