January 14, 2012

Guys Movie Night: 48 HRS and COMMANDO

My Birthday at the Movies
The David Patrick Kelly/James Horner Double Feature

What a great time! The Somerville Theater has a "microcinema" in their basement. It looks like a regular theater, but teeny: 35 seats, with a decent sized screen, Blu-Ray player, surround sound, and digital projector. For $200 it's yours all day. We had a great time eating pizza, drinking beer, and enjoying two manly movies for guys. What a treat it was to watch two movies I'd never seen on the big screen, and certainly never with the sound turned way up! Just the Paramount logo and the opening notes of James Horner's 48 HRS score gave me chills.
48 HRS is still terrific thirty years later. The action scenes are crackling good, Nolte is perfect as the tough detective out to avenge the cop killed with his gun, and Eddie Murphy blows up the screen in his debut, with a performance we'd all take for granted by the end of the decade. James Remar is riveting as the vicious cop killer Albert Ganz.
NOTE: grey sweater vest
It's a gritty detective movie with a funny side to it, but the humor is filtered through a grim layer of racism, sexism, and general meanness. The blend is remarkable. It's kind of amazing that it works. The humor is not fun, if that makes any sense. It's also kind of amazing that it was a commercial success, considering I can't recommend a guy take his girlfriend to see it.
Landlines & Payphones: Obviously no one has a mobile phone in this movie. It seems every 5 minutes someone is placing a call on a landline. It's hilarious. I can only imagine what my son's generation will think.

Don't stare at the lump on my forehead!
There's one scene where Nick Nolte's lieutenant chews him out "everybody's watching on this one", "your ass is on the line", etc, etc, which is such a cliche now that the same actor (Frank McRae) spoofed that speech in National Lampoon's Lethal Weapon 1 and The Last Action Hero (both 1993).

It's also hard to watch Nolte driving a sky blue 1960 Cadillac convertible with a straight face. It's such a cliche, and maybe the worst possible car to drive in hilly San Francisco. Speaking of San Francisco, you may notice the lack of romantic "postcard" views of the city- I appreciated that. Also, I think the city's historic cable car system was being rebuilt during the time of filming, which would explain why we don't see any cable cars.
The score: I really like James Horner's non-traditional score, full of steel drums. That same year he scored Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but perhaps he's best known for the score to Titanic. Other memorable films include: Avatar, A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Braveheart, The Pelican Brief, Glory, Field of Dreams, Aliens, and the second movie in our double feature, COMMANDO.
Try not to stare at the vein bulging in his biceps.
I watched COMMANDO many times as a teenager. Arnold Schwarzenegger is John Matrix, a retired elite Black Ops Commando, although you wouldn't know he's retired from the size of his muscles.
Saturday is tree-carrying day.
Matrix launches a one-man war against a group of South American criminals who have kidnapped his daughter.This one-man war consists of hand-to-hand combat (sometimes versus a dozen mall cops), brute force, explosions, automatic gunfire, scalping with a circular sawblade, dismemberment with a circular sawblade, impalement with pitchfork, and finally, barely disguised homoerotic knifefighting against a portly Australian in a mesh sweatervest.

Another grey knit sweater vest, and yes, it makes you look fat.
Brooklyn native (and Tufts University graduate) Dan Hedaya plays the villain, a deposed dictator from "South America". The 1980s were a golden age of movies with made-up Latin American banana republics!
Besides all the unintentional comedy in the action scenes, the movie hardly makes any sense. Unlike 48 HRS, which was too awesome to riff on, COMMANDO was a hot mess. We had a blast picking it apart.

Our double feature had two major players in common: James Horner is back with another steel drum-filled score, but not as effective this time around. And David Patrick Kelly is back, playing another douchebag, this time with more spine. He dies in both movies.

I made all my friends pledge to host movie parties for each of their birthdays this year. If booked for a weeknight, it's only $100, or $10 each if nine friends attend. THINK ABOUT IT Adam, Angus, Brian, Brian, Geoff, George, Ilan, Jeff, Jose, Kevin, Scott, Tom, and Vinnie.