Quote(s) of the Day: Erroll Flynn

Besides acting in too many great films to mention—only one of which, 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood, would be enough for any actor to achieve immortality—the ever-enthusiastic Erroll Flynn was also an author of sorts.

Just a few months after his death in 1959, Flynn’s “autobiography” My Wicked, Wicked Ways was published, instantly scandalizing Hollywood for its brazen cynicism and warts-and-all attitude. Of course, it’s never been out of print since. 

Crafted mostly by Earl Conrad and a team of stenographers and allegedly cribbed in parts from other sources (including even Thoreau’s Walden), the book is full of pithy declamations about the good life lived hard. Among them:

I have been in rebellion against God and Government ever since I can remember … But I had my vodka—and had faith in that. It came in cases. I got up in the morning and reached. I hawked, coughed around a while, took another drink, started the day.

And also this:

Living I have done, enormously, like a gourmand eating the world, and I don’t suppose it is egotism, but only fact, to suggest that few others alive in the present century have taken into their maw more of the world than have I.

Well, it works for some.

DVD Tuesday: ‘A Separation’

The metaphor doesn’t get any clearer than this. As battling spouses shout at an invisible judge sitting where the camera is, the message is undeniable: they’re not just fighting over a relationship, but over a country, one that has both abandoned and entrapped them. The wife doesn’t want to stay with her husband, but it’s more their circumstances that she’s fighting to escape from with their daughter. Not that she, or Ashgar Farhadi’s film, comes out and says this. Iranian writer-director Farhadi’s subtle but explosive domestic crime story, dancing nimbly around censorship rules, makes a ringing statement as clear as the injustice witnessed in each of the main characters’ eyes…

A Separation comes out today on DVD; it was one of the most potent, unforgettable films to hit screens in 2011—foreign or domestic. My full review is at AMC Movie Database.

You can see the trailer here:

Trailer Park: ‘Red Dawn’

Now, there were many things to dislike about the 1984 Red Dawn, that hopped-up NRA-ad of a John Milius Cold War teen empowerment fantasy. The generally atrocious sub-Brat Pack acting (looking at you, C. Thomas Howell). The idea that Soviet armored divisions could pour into the country across the Bering Strait to hook up with Nicaraguan paratroopers who took the Rocky Mountains(!). Thinking that entire units of Spetsnaz could be taken out with ease by some high school kids with AK-47s and Wolverine letter jackets.

Of course, there were also many things to love about that movie. The opening scene with paratroopers drifting down  outside a classroom’s windows. Harry Dean Stanton bellowing, “Avenge me!” from behind the prison camp wire. That strangely touching subplot about the war-weary Cuban colonel (played with some gravitas by Super Fly himself, Ron O’Neal). Thinking that entire units of Spetsnaz could be taken out with ease by some high school kids with AK-47s and Wolverine letter jackets.

But now, since Hollywood is apparently bereft of all new ideas and must recycle, recycle, recycle, they’ve decided to take a film best left in the dustbin of beloved adolescent classics and dust it off in an entirely irrelevant way for a new generation. To make things even more preposterous, in a time when the United States isn’t locked in pseudo-conflict with a country that has a massive conventional army, in the remake the Commie invaders hail from … North Korea.

Max Fischer at The Atlantic points out the many, many, many absurdities of this premise, going well beyond North Korea’s staggering “poverty and military weakness,” here.

Trailer for the apparently entirely humorless remake is below, showing only that Chris Hemsworth is no Patrick Swayze:

Trailer for the original is here:

New in Theaters: ‘The Anderson Monarchs’

In the Philadelphia neighborhood where the Anderson Monarchs girls’ soccer team plays, the bright wall murals exhorting a positive outlook (“Dare to Dream”) exist in stark relief to the limited opportunities available to those who grow up there. The practice field itself is a patchy thing, something of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree compared to the verdant greens where they play games against teams from wealthier suburban neighborhoods. During one practice, police cars and ambulances race past, lights flashing; the camera zooms in but the girls, likely used to it all, pay almost no heed. But Eugene Martin’s film about the Monarchs isn’t much interested in delivering another tale of urban woe, preferring instead to accentuate the positive…

The Anderson Monarchs is playing now as part of the Docuweeks festival in New York, but should expand to more cities later. My full review is at Film Journal International.

The trailer is here:

New in Theaters: ‘Chicken with Plums’


Anybody seeking a well-rounded love story featuring emotionally secure individuals should stay far, far away from Chicken with Plums. Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s adaptation of Satrapi’s graphic novel focuses on Nasser-Ali (Mathieu Amalric), a violinist living in late 1950s Iran. He plays like an angel, but suffers from an overwhelming moodiness. In the film’s first few scenes, he buys a violin and returns it almost immediately, screaming at the shop owner that he’s been cheated. In fact, life has cheated him…

Chicken with Plums is playing now, and makes for a certain kind of fantastic date movie. My full review is at PopMatters.

The trailer is here:


New in Theaters: ‘Cosmopolis’

Adapted by David Cronenberg from Don DeLillo’s prescient 2003 novel, Cosmopolis is set in a fantastical New York of the present or near-future, a nebulous universe that feels like a recent William Gibson novel—this might be the future, but it’s barely five minutes hence. Robert Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a 28-year-old wizard of some species of speculative, quantitative finance who has made his billions and now can’t seem to wait to set his entire universe on fire. He drifts through the city in a white limo that looks outside like all the others, but inside is a fully wired and soundproof command center that keeps him wired to his empire while sitting in traffic on the way to get a haircut…

The deadpan, crazed Cosmpolis opens tomorrow in limited release; seek it out when it comes to your town, there’s nothing else like it.

My full review is at Film Journal International.

The trailer is here: