Sunday, February 23, 2020

What's Next On My List? Rambo: Last Blood

Welcome to the sixth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! Thankfully that time has not come yet, so here comes year six!

The freedom of working on his old family farm and raising his niece awards Rambo with the peace he has been looking for all those years after the war. On the conquest of finding out more about the father who abandoned her, his niece Gabrielle goes over the border where she is then sold by her friend onto a ring of human traffickers selling young girls for sex. Rambo manages to save her, but runs out of time just the same. The traffickers set out for revenge, but they are not ready to meet this soldier face to face.

I had no expectations going into this movie, I just wanted to enjoy myself, and why, did I do just that! First of all, my biggest problem is something that I blame Hungarian movie theaters (and I blame them for everything, and rightfully so): this movie's 50% is in Spanish, as the human traffickers that Rambo faces speak their mother tongue. Now, I loved this, because most movies would make that foreign language sound English, and we had instances of showcasing the real language in movies, more and more, but now I feel like that took it to a whole other level, and I appreciate that genuine touch from the filmmakers. That said... we watched it in English, with Hungarian subtitles... and my partner understood because she speaks Portuguese, but this was ridiculous. To anyone else 50% of the movie would have been completely incomprehensible. I felt extra sorry for all those at the theater who had to guess what is happening. The reason I am complaining is because I want to make it clear: this could have been avoided. The producers and the distributors could have emphasized in selling the movie that it needs embedded English subtitles for an audience that wishes to see the movie in its original dubbing. 
That said, about the movie: it was simply insane. But in a good way. I do not know how they did it, but I felt Rambo's every thought and fear, and how his inability to let go of his traumas kept appearing to him in nightmares and in his actions towards the ones he loved. He wanted to stay close to family, but also feared how he would act if he was triggered again, and then, indeed he was. The movie took turns that I did not expect at all, and finally Rambo took out a whole squadron of mercenaries in the most insane way possible, with all kinds of booby traps like a Home Alone movie on drugs and even if disgusted at times I just felt that it was incredibly entertaining. I am very happy to have seen this on the big screen.

Watch it? Honestly I was so happy that I got up with the franchise to be able to see the next - possibly - final chapter. Of course, at the very end, you see Rambo getting onto his horse and quite literally ride away into the sunset. That can either signal that there is more to come, if the movie does well enough at the box office. But really... the cowboy theme was something the movie had several references to and I do not believe that we would have been content with seeing Rambo sit in a chair and die because... that is not who he is. If there is more, count me, if this was it, then, he truly did go out with a bang!

This is it for this year's #StalloneMonth and wow, honestly this really is my favorite time of the year. As long as I have movies to review from this incredibly talented fellow to look forward to I will keep on writing about them!

Until the next item on my list!
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Paz Vega - Carmen Delgado
Sergio Peris-Mencheta - Hugo Martínez
Adriana Barraza - Maria Beltran
Yvette Monreal - Gabrielle
Óscar Jaenada - Victor Martinez

Sunday, February 16, 2020

What's Next On My List? Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

Welcome to the sixth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! Thankfully that time has not come yet, so here comes year six!

A sergeant at the police force is visited by his mother, who is not very happy with the way he has been living his life. In an attempt to take down a bad guy, Joe cannot do without his mom, as she refuses to stay home while her son is in danger.

While watching this I was just thinking about this culture of parents humiliating their children in movies and I wonder if people really are like that in the U.S. Is this just an overused character trait because in real life I never had the pleasure of parents who actually embarrassed me or any of the people I know... you know, unless they were actual assholes. And I just wonder if this is a cultural thing or the biggest fear people might have when it comes to their parents? Because exaggerations of a stereotype are fine when it comes to story telling, but I personally am never able to laugh at the expense of others. If anything, I am the one reaching for childhood photos and stories of me being a stupid kid, because I grew up thinking that that is a natural progression in life and that my partner has to see me embarrassed (and then tell me I am cute and stuff). But in this movie, in more than anything in life, I felt the need to slap the mother across the face... it is one thing to be overbearing, it is another to completely disregard the actual needs of someone. Although, technically, when it came to his relationship Joe did need help, and well, a woman's touch can never hurt. But, aside from that, the mother's expertise was truly more of a nuisance.

Watch it? This is not the comedy of the century... it has wonderful actors, don't get me wrong, but the whole thing just feels like the crazy adventure from the point of view of the mom, who probably portrays herself as this great superhero. This story is incredible, I know, that is how comedy works; I do not think there could have been a way to make it seem more believable, but actually, if there would have been an ending that shows how this story was told by the mom to her friends or something like that, I do think it would have been far better. It is a harmless family comedy altogether.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ 

Sylvester Stallone - Joe Bomowski
Estelle Getty - Tutti
JoBeth Williams - Gwen Harper
Roger Rees - Parnell
Martin Ferrero - Paulie
Gailard Sartain - Munroe
John Wesley - Tony

Monday, February 10, 2020

What's Next On My List? Staying Alive

Welcome to the sixth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! Thankfully that time has not come yet, so here comes year six!

Tony Manero is trying hard to find work as a professional dancer on Broadway, but as he is about to give up, finally his luck seems to turn. He works hard and ends up getting the leading part in a show, that will forever change his life.

This was the fourth movie that my beloved Sylvester Stallone directed, and it was the best one in my opinion. Over the past six years I have mostly talked about movies that he starred in, and of course some of them were also directed by him (Rocky II, Rambo, The Expendables), but this is one of those movies where he has no real role on the other side of the camera. And when it comes to directing, I have to say, he has a really good eye. I fell in love with this movie far before I started to read title cards and notice directors (before that I always thought that actors are either good or bad, no in between, but nope, clearly the director IS the most important part of a movie. But we learn these things only when we get older). So in light of #StalloneMonth I wanted to focus on not only the acting of this great artist, but also the directing. So that is why we are here!

I saw this movie before I saw the original Saturday Night Fever, and well, it is supposed to be a sequel and people did not want a sequel. But here is the thing... this is a REALLY good movie. I had to see the first one several times before I learned to appreciate it. But here is the thing, Tony is the same person. The original movie focuses very much on how this person learns one mistake at a time how to be a good person, but overall, his morals are in the right place. And I find that screenwriters Norman Wexler and Sylvester Stallone did a great job at presenting us this grown up Tony, who is still not quite there, but he is definitely working on it. I have written a whole thesis on the achievement of the American Dream from the point of view of Manero and well, and one of the important things that I noted was the environment that surrounds our protagonist. Once he breaks out of it, like he did at the end of the movie, he is faced with new challenges, and the mistakes he makes in this film are similar to those of boy still learning to outgrow his old ways.
Of every possible interpretation, this movie to me is about learning to appreciate what we have. Tony learns this lesson when he indeed loses the best person in his life: Jackie, who he was completely unable to appreciate. Having watched both movies now back to back, I have to say there are some simple people out there who, even if struggle, believe that they have hundreds of chances, and they have to learn their lesson: Tony is one of those people. Let alone the fact that I love this movie, for the soundtrack, the casting, the story, the directing... everything is a 10/10 for me, but I also think it is a great sequel. Of course, the first one handled a series of difficult topics, from unwanted pregnancies, to family disgraces to suicide, and it comparison this movie is very lighthearted. It focuses more on the magic of dance, of how we speak with our bodies and how we have to be the hero of our own life, no matter what. Many will put you down and make you feel like you are not enough, but you shouldn't walk away from that, no, you should stay and fight to live another day.

Watch it? Please do. It stars one of the best actresses of the 80's, Cynthia Rhodes: not only is she a wonderful dancer but a great singer as well and this movie made sure to highlight that. She is a literal triple threat and well, she did not have a lot of movies (I for one have seen them all already several times), and she is one of the greatest things in this movie. Her performance, her love for Tony, her understanding of the hardships of this industry, not to mention never doubting her own abilities... she was one of the strongest and most relatable characters I have ever seen on the big screen. If not for Stallone, if not for the wonderful performance by Travolta, or the adventures of Tony Manero, then definitely watch this movie for Rhodes: you will not be disappointed.

Until the next item on my list.
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John Travolta - Tony Manero
Cynthia Rhodes - Jackie
Finola Hughes - Laura
Steve Inwood - Jesse
Julie Bovasso - Mrs. Manero

Monday, February 3, 2020

What's Next On My List? Rambo

Welcome to the sixth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! Thankfully that time has not come yet, so here comes year six!

"In Thailand, John Rambo joins a group of mercenaries to venture into war-torn Burma, and rescue a group of Christian aid workers who were kidnapped by the ruthless local infantry unit." (imdb)

The first ten minutes of the movie featured a lot of snakes, and I hate snakes so I was not a fan of that. But I do, however, appreciate it, because I find that the story focused on geographical accuracy and making sure that they stay true to the culture they are portraying. It might just be that I have the same idea of what this country might be like, but it could just be portrayed by Hollywood. Either way, the movie focused, for me, on something very important: the horror of civil wars. The people of the 21st century like to forget that many are also victims of their governments and their self-proclaimed soldiers. Many are raped, mutilated, killed and used as pawns in a war that benefits very few. It was very painful to watch this movie, but mostly because I felt that I was there. I felt bad for the women, the children, the dogs, the innocent... I felt bad for the men and women all around the world who actually do want to help. I felt bad for the world we live in... Johnny Rambo is an incredible character, to me at least, because he really isn't just another action hero. The reason that all movies decide to take actual historical moments to drop in this American hero is quite smart, when you think about teaching people for the better. It is not easy to draw conclusions of what really is overseas, but damn, these movies take you with them...

If you prefer the PG18 kind of story telling, with graphic blood and breathtaking filmography, then you are in for a treat. I do not think you really need the first couple of movies in this series to watch and understand this one, if you want to, have at it, I have reviewed all of them so far. But this one I think was by far the best, simply because it felt more down to Earth, believe it or not. Rambo showed skill, and not so much sheer luck. The first will always be a classic, but other than that, I think people need to see the world as it is right now, and let me tell you: it's ugly.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Sylvester Stallone - John Rambo
Julie Benz - Sarah
Tim Kang - En-Joo
Paul Schulze - Michael Burnett