Archives for posts with tag: Phase 4 Films

Assault-On-Wall-Street-Dominic-Purcell

Prolific writer-producer-director Uwe Boll, best known for notoriously reviled horror films like House of the Dead (2003) and Alone in the Dark (2005), now taps into understandable populist rage at the crony capitalist establishment with the depressing Assault on Wall Street. Powerfully built Dominic Purcell, something of a poor man’s Clive Owen, stars as down-on-his-luck security guard Jim Baxford, who, after losing his job and his wife (Erin Karpluk) following her protracted illness and financial anxiety suicide, decides to diversify his portfolio with a little vigilante vengeance directed at the seemingly untouchable high-rollers and bankster exploiters he holds collectively responsible for his personal tragedy.

Purcell is adequately tough and earnest, if not particularly interesting, in the lead; but it is in two key supporting roles that Assault on Wall Street shows true inspiration in casting. An aging John Heard is the perfect choice to play number one on Baxford’s hit list: selfish, nihilistic toxic investment CEO Jeremy Stancroft. Even greasier, however, in a role one wishes had been expanded, is uber-oily Eric Roberts as money-grubbing attorney Patterson. Roberts has aged, if not quite gracefully, then fascinatingly, with a uniquely silverfish-like screen presence that ideally lends itself to high villainy. Other familiar faces in the cast include Keith David, Edward Furlong, and Michael Pare as Baxford’s buddies Freddy, Sean, and Frank.

Assault on Wall Street is a decent rental, but may disappoint vigilante fans by spending too much time (nearly an hour) on the humiliating build-up and not enough on the retribution so temptingly advertised in the title. Consequently, it earns a modest 3.5 of 5 possible stars.

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Assault on Wall Street is:

11. Pro-police. Cops are depicted as human types who share in the general plight and sympathize with Baxford’s mission.

10. Anti-slut. “I’m gonna get an STD from this sandwich,” Frank teases a waitress. Corporate bigwigs consort with whores.

9. Christ-ambivalent. While a preacher attempts consolation, mouthing, “God visits us with many mysteries in life,” Baxford rather takes to heart more militant Biblical passages such as, “He trains my hands for war” (cf. nos. 1 and 7)

8. Marriage-ambivalent. Baxford’s marriage is a devoted one and would, if not for her illness and his financial worries, be happy. Friend Frank’s wife, however, is a cheater.

7. Antiwar. Baxford is a veteran forgotten in his time of need by the country that used him. In reply to the idea that violence is not a solution, a caller to a radio program asks, “Isn’t violence the official solution in Iraq and Afghanistan?” (cf. nos. 1 and 9)

6. Postracial, with blacks and whites interacting as friends irrespective of racial differences. And to demonstrate that his is an equal opportunity beef, Baxford even liquidates a few blacks along with the many white guys in suits and ties.

5. Drug-ambivalent. Baxford smokes philosophically and his friends are enthusiastic drinkers. “Let’s go get some alcohol, make the pain go away.” Baxford, in the wake of his personal ruin, is invited to “watch the game and do some serious drinkin'” for therapeutic purposes. But a man is claimed in a news report to have died in a “drunken accident”.

4. Anti-state. The cronyist statist quo, or the “plutocratic capturing of American politics”, transcends Republican vs. Democrat squabbles, with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Chris Dodd, and Alan Greenspan getting name-dropped as culpable players. At a lower level of weaselliness, Assistant D.A. Marwood (Barclay Hope) insensitively brushes off Baxford’s concerns. That Baxford is able to purchase military wares from a black market gun dealer (Clint Howard) militates against the notion that government-mandated gun control is effective or enforceable. Betraying the movie’s mixed messages about the place of government, however, is the fact that deregulation is also blamed for the ’08 collapse.

3. Anti-corporate. “The real fuckin’ criminals –  they’re downtown [i.e., on Wall Street].” Goldman Sachs, MF Global, Cerberus Capital, JP Morgan, and Lehman Brothers are among the outfits that receive negative product placement.

2. Anti-capitalistic. “System’s rigged, motherfucker.” Told “Fuck you,” a banker calmly replies, “That’s a fair response, I suppose.” Free market talk conceals an “anything goes mentality”. “The rich still get richer and the poor get poorer.” Stancroft justifies his misdeeds with a social Darwinist outlook. “That’s the free trade system, my friend,” he says. “That’s capitalism.” “There’s not a person on this earth who’s worth over a hundred million dollars that came by that money honestly.” The film also evinces a naive sympathy for the homeless, juxtaposing their plight with the ease of the leisure class.

1. Pro-vigilante. Baxford is his own law, but also a people’s fury, and wears an Anonymous-reminiscent white mask for the final killing spree.

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barrio tales

Nothing short of an incitation to racial hatred and genocide, the horror anthology Barrio Tales is a useful specimen of the burgeoning Mexploitation genre. The frame story has two foulmouthed but naive American punks venturing south of the border to buy some inexpensive drugs, where they meet a scary, scarred, and crooked-nosed lowlife (Alexander Aguila) who proceeds to tell them a trio of sordid and spicy campfire tales comprising the bulk of the film.

In the first story, newly arrived Mexican domestic servant Maria (Ana Corbi) is humiliated and victimized by a rich American college brat and his spoiled, decadent cronies. The second segment has David Fernandez playing a Hispanic variation on Clint Howard’s character in Ice Cream Man, with mobile taco chef Uncle Tio kicking it up a notch with his secret ingredients. Finally, a gaggle of wetbacks valiantly attempting to smuggle themselves into a better life in the United States are captured and tortured by rednecks until nationalistic Mexican gangsters ride to their aid like the ghetto version of the cavalry.

Imbued with genuine race-baiting venom, Barrio Tales is certain to entertain what would appear to be a target audience of alienated, Raza-minded Hispanics and America-loathing white liberal self-immolators. Fast-paced, passably humorous, and packed with gratuitous grossness, the film may also appeal to a broader horror audience willing to forgive or to take in stride the mean-spirited tone, taking the guano with the good.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Barrio Tales is:

12. Relativistic. “But who’s to say what a monster is? Maybe a monster to me is not a monster to you.”

11. Family-ambivalent. Mexicans come to family members’ aid, while whites, as exemplified by the rich absentee parents in the first story, would appear to be less motivated by family ties.

10. Feminist. A young girl (Elizabeth Small) bests the murderous Uncle Tio despite his telling her, “You can’t beat me. You’re just a stupid-ass little girl.”

9. Christ-ambivalent. Insane hicks pick out “Amazing Grace” on the banjo (and where banjos play there must be inbreeding!) between torture sessions, which would seem to cast their religion in an absurd light; but one of the heroic gangsters (Fabian Lopez) who stops them is, as a counterbalance, named Christian, the implication being that Mexicans are more authentically devout than whites.

8. Pro-miscegenation. Redneck bitch Didi (Jamie Wozny), like all white women, naturally lusts after men with brown skin and delights in tying up, straddling, and torturing a Mexican. “This is kinky,” she giggles when he resists. A black boy (Christopher Meyer) and a white girl (Elizabeth Small) are companions. There is also more than a hint of lust when Uncle Tio seizes and sniffs the latter in anticipation of doing her harm.

7. Drug-ambivalent. Hard drugs are depicted as harmful to the user, but a good way for Mexicans to make money off of stupid white people. Heroic gangsters Christian and P (Isait De La Fuente) are seen drinking from sneaky Petes.

6. Diversity-skeptical. The first and third stories in Barrio Tales are rabidly anti-white, peddling trite victimologies and Chicano moral superiority, while the second, at least at first glance, is something of an odd man out with its tale of a murderous Mexican taco cook. Even this entry, however, presents opportunities to make whites look dumb. Drug dealer Javi (Carlos Ramirez) boasts of duping white kids into paying exorbitant prices for his substandard product. The characterization of pothead Les (Hunter Cope, in the film’s most engaging performance) presents a surprisingly candid parody of the dumb white liberal. Even after it becomes obvious that Uncle Tio is a psychopath and a serial killer, Les clings tightly to his illusions, insisting, “He’s a kindhearted Mexican man who’s been serving this community for many years.” “I’m fuckin’ sick of people prejudging Uncle Tio before they give him a shot,” he says before himself being murdered by this “kindhearted” pillar of the “community”.

5. Anti-American. At the rednecks’ ranch, the American flag flies over a “No Trespassing” sign, representing the country in microcosm as a distrustful, ignorant, selfish, isolated backwater. More than one unlikable Caucasian character wears red, white, and blue (cf. no. 1).

4. Class-conscious. “They never had to work for anything their whole life. Everything is handed to them on a plate.” The raconteur of the wraparound story foretells that his guests will be chopped into tiny pieces and fed to homeless Mexicans. See also nos. 1 and 2, as all of the class conflict in the film is framed as poor, hardworking, innocent Mexicans vs. lazy, wealthy, and evil whites.

3. Alien-delugist. The film presents a sympathetic portrait of wetbacks and characterizes those who would secure the American border as uneducated sadists and bigots.

2. Anti-white. Whites, as depicted, are arrogant, stupid, rude, foulmouthed, murderous, and generally inhuman. Learning that there is a Mexican maid in the house, they are prone to call “dibs” on her, request “el blowjobo”, and say condescending things like, “Smokey el weedo?” “You sound like an idiot,” Jack (Glen Powell) says when he hears Spanish being spoken. Barrio Tales more than once suggests that whites quite literally desire to make Mexicans their slaves. In the first story, spoiled rich twit Trevor (Matt Shively) says of his servant, Maria, “I want to thank my parents for purchasing me this fuckin’ amazingly hot maid that I’m pretty sure I can do whatever I want with.” “I’m gone make you ma slave,” says Didi to her captive in the third story. The most exaggeratedly outrageous portraits of whites, however, are animalistic, growling El Monstruo (Scott Pollard) and his retarded son Reggie, whose one-strap overalls costume mimics archetypal caveman garb. “There’s no punishment that can do to you, you piece of white trash, that would even compare to what you’ve done to my people.”

1. Razist. “Don’t you know brown is the new red, white, and blue, puto?”

DoggieB

Pat Buchanan has said, “If you want to see what the future of America is going to look like, I think you ought to look at California.”  San Francisco – or, as Michael Savage would have it, San Fransicko – is one of the most progressive cities in the Golden State; and if the cinematic acid trip Doggie B, aka Doggie Boogie: Get Your Grrr On!, serves as any kind of mental health forecast for the country as a whole, then these Disunited States are definitely nightmare-bound.

Doggie B introduces children to Peter Wolfe (Scott Cox), a gay San Francisco man who, apparently having despaired of finding love in the AIDS capital of California, has devoted his life to dancing with dogs, even going so far as to make it his life’s calling and dancing with his dog professionally in competitions with other dog dance teams.  His dream of interspecies Astaire-and-Rogers-dom is cruelly dashed to pieces when evil competitor Gertrude Spinner (Bettina Devin) causes him to have an accident with his dog, which drives Peter into a downward spiral of junk food obsession and gloom.  Fortunately for everyone (excepting the viewer, that is), his niece Cassie Barbizon (Jesse Draper) has a more optimistic outlook and hopes to pick up where her uncle left off, with puppy Pijo as her partner.  Complicating her blueprint for self-actualization is Cassie’s mother, ambulance-chasing attorney Karen Barbizon (Barbara Tintori), who expects her daughter to follow in her footsteps by studying law.

Doggie B plays a bit like a Rick Sloane film sans the nasty humor (minus the good parts, in other words), with Gertrude recalling cartoonish villainesses Queen Bee and Malathion from auteur Sloane’s Vice Academy series. That a film about dog dancing proves to be less than spectacular can hardly come as any surprise, but the autistic canines in Doggie B have little to do and evince an unusually low level of animal charisma.

Doggie B does, however, have two major strengths in its favor. The first is its amazing visual flair, with no inch of footage escaping without generous splashes of color and zaniness, whether in the art direction or the actresses’ coifs and costumes that at times make the film appear to be peopled entirely by auxiliary members of the B-52s.  The second thing this film has going for it is its cast of colorful, perky character actresses.  Men hoodwinked into renting Doggie B for their children can be consoled at least that, while they are certainly in for a long and grueling haul, there are several attractive actresses in the film, with tall, shapely Jesse Draper quite the knockout, other kooky San Francisco ditzes looking very edible, and scary Bettina Devin perhaps appealing to fetishists of the mature.

A star and a half.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Doggie B is:

9. Anti-Christian.  This film’s good book is the “Dog Dance Bible”.

8. Anti-drug.  Gertrude has secretly been injecting her dance partner with “doggeroids” from a glowing green Re-Animator syringe.  Though there appear to be no adverse effects for the dog, the doggeroids, it turns out, are extremely damaging to a woman’s complexion.

7. Multiculturalist/pro-immigration.  A nice Caribbean (?) doctor introduces Cassie to holistic dog therapy after an old white doctor proves ineffective at treating Pijo’s malaise.

6. Pro-gay.  Though his orientation is never made explicit, Peter’s choice of costumes (beginning with the sweater tied around his shoulders and ending with his climactic John Travolta leisure suit) and make-up for his performances leave little room for doubt.  He wipes his mouth in disgust after a cute fag hag plants a big juicy one on him.  The whole film is a fabulous high camp fever dream.

5. Racist!  Doggie B perpetuates the Magical Negro stereotype with a kinky-afroed black yogi-priestess who can communicate with dogs.  Jews are mercenary, neurotic, and cynical, with personal injury chiseler Karen getting excited at hearing about a terrible car pile-up.  Her practice’s slogan is, “Get hit, get rich quick.”

4. Pro-miscegenation, breaking down prejudiced species barriers.  Doggie B blazes trails by proving that canines are suitable dance partners for Jews.

3. Individualist.  “Mom, this is not about you,” Cassie tells her mother prefatory to her intention of going for the gold with Pijo.  “Believe it or not, I’m growing up.  I’ve changed.  I’m creating my perfect life.”

2. Pro-family.  Despite disagreements, relatives maintain ties, share affection, and help each other.  Parents concerned about adult content are, however, alerted to the off-color inclusion of a sexual slap on the butt.  Also, Cassie’s love interest Roman (Patrick Alan Davis) says to her at one point, “You look hot – I mean, it’ll stand out on the dance floor” [italics added].

1. New Age.  “This stuff really works!” Cassie exults after taking Pijo to Shangrrrla, a clinic for dogs where their spirituality finds alignment.  At Shangrrrla, too, the viewer learns that, “In rare cases, when our souls are wounded, certain quite special dogs become spiritual healers.”  Peter wears an ankh during his climactic routine, which begins with his emergence from a giant disco ball in the shape of a dog’s head, the lowering of which occasions a kind of religious experience in the crowd.  San Francisco’s hippie drum beaters also put in a cameo.

With a reach that far exceeds its grasp, this science fiction cheapie from Andrew Bellware suffers from grandiose ambitions notwithstanding its frequent mocking self-aware campiness.  Android Insurrection opens with an informational spiel about the wonders of robotic labor-saving devices which have supposedly ended war and other human struggles, but then follows this with a matter-of-fact but ominous litany of caveats about robotics safety that sound like the scary side effects at the end of a prescription drug commercial.  Set in the twenty-third century, after North America has been reduced to desert and artificial intelligence has turned against humanity, the plot concerns a mission to retrieve a set of pretty, pink-haired androids from an underground research facility guarded by spider-like killer robots.

Based on an “original” story by Nat Cassidy, Android Insurrection bears obvious resemblances at various moments to such films as The Terminator, Alien, Hardware, Crash and Burn, and even Star Wars with the inclusion of light-sabers.  These comparisons, alas, do Android Insurrection no favors and only serve to highlight its pitiful poverty by contrast.  The effects, while often better than amateurish, seldom interact convincingly with the living performers and thus minimize the intended impact of the action sequences.

Momentary suspense is accomplished with the suggestion that one character on the team of robot-fighters may be a robot herself; no serious attempt is made to capitalize on this potential interest-hook, however, and the remainder of the story meanders with little sense of purpose or worthwhile stakes for the viewer.  The acting, too, is inconsistent, and occasionally detracts from what might have been a more seriously committed and convincing film instead of a video document of paradoxically over-ambitious Generation X underachievement.

2 of 5 possible stars.  ICA’s advice: see Cherry 2000 again instead.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Android Insurrection is:

5. Antiwar.  Nuclear weapons appear to have lain waste to the planet.

4. Feminist/pro-slut.  Approximating slasher “final girl” structure, Android Insurrection provides one noteworthy survivor in Foxwell (Virginia Logan), a tough, nosering-sporting, midriff-bearing Generation-X chick who wields a phallic EMP grenade with panache.

3. Racist!  Fulfilling wacko survivalist and paintballer fantasies of a vanilla dawn, Android Insurrection, contrary to evident demographic trends of today, depicts a future America populated almost entirely by young, attractive, gun-toting white people, with only one light-skinned Hispanic cutie (Juanita Arias) to complement the otherwise pure, creamy uniformity of the gene pool.  A Hitler-mustached, German-accented nerd named Bellware (after the director, but played by David Ian Lee) gives the combat team its orders.  Undesirables, we can only assume, have been eradicated through a perfection of the AIDS virus or some other nefarious eugenics coup.  Android fifth-columnist agents among the city-dwelling humans (see no. 2), meanwhile, are to be granted “special protections” – clearly an insensitive reference to the necessary progress of affirmative action in the present “post-racial” age.

2. NWO-alarmist.  The most interesting portion of the film may be the epilogue in which an artificial intelligence informs citizens that it is now in control and that, moving among them, undetected, are sleeper agents, secret robots, who could even be their friends and family members, and who at the proper time will move to implement the policies of the new order.  Among the robot commandments are that humans of “subnormal” and “supernormal” capacity are, Procrustes-wise, to be sent to a state facility “for modification”.

1. Neo-Luddite.  Technology is evil.  Your toaster hates you and will destroy you if you allow it.

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