Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Sylvester Stallone in the 1980s - Escape to Victory

Sylvester Stallone ticks a box in Escape to Victory. A proven box-office draw, his presence guarantees a certain amount of interest from the otherwise cool-on-football American market. Like Steve McQueen before him, the star also lifts his allied internment film out of the staid, and faintly comedic, situations of The Wooden Horse into a realm of bombast seen in something like The Great Escape. Regardless of whether or not the idea rings true historically, British prisoner of war films tend to revolve around bait-and-switches that have more in common with knockabout boarding school capers than a life and death struggle. 

Accordingly, Stallone's interloping brings a sense of desperation to Victory. While everyone else concerns themselves with training for the upcoming, all-consuming, football game, Sly's character Hatch takes time to run angles on the guards, looking for a chance to slip out of the camp. Stallone's is an outsider perspective, to the point of mostly existing within his own sectioned-off, VIP story. While Michael Caine and Max Von Sydow wrap themselves up in romantic notions like sportsmanship and post-war European brotherhood, Stallone has leveraged himself a subplot that takes him to Paris and gets him romancing Carole Laure's resistance contact. Since Director John Huston and screenwriters Evan Jones and Yabo Yablonsky are more interested in the big game as an opportunity for escape rather than an event unto itself, Stallone's contractually mandated holiday does a lot of the dramatic lifting.

RetroAhoy: Doom

After a bit of radio silence Stuart Brown is back with an absolutely fantastic 50 minute documentary focused entirely around everybody's favourite murder simulator, Doom.

Kull #9 by Barry Windsor-Smith

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Sylvester Stallone in the 1980s - Nighthawks

Sylvester Stallone kicks off the 1980s with Nighthawks, a slack and improbable potboiler that reaches for William Friedkin style verisimilitude but instead ends up a Neanderthal example of the star's scowling bruise 'em ups. Stallone and buddy Billy Dee Williams play a pair of insufferable New York cops drafted onto a terrorist extermination squad seemingly because everybody else on the force hates their guts. The duo spend weeks being screamed at by a self-impressed British spook while Rutger Hauer's eurotrash assassin prowls around the city, murdering women and planning a series of topical explosions.

Ghost-directed - at least in part - by Stallone, Nighthawks offers long, rambling, takes that land like conceited acting exercises. There's none of that marching powder pep the director would later bring to Rocky IV on display in either the framing or the editing. Nighthawks works best as a document, the pivotal moment that Stallone stopped trying to establish himself as the next Pacino and embraced his more violent, guttural, instincts. The immediate benefits of this transformative thinking are apparent within Nighthawks. Hamstrung by a meandering screenplay, Stallone eventually finds he is better able to hold his audience's attention with close-up grimaces or macho declarations rather than by pretending to be a real human being.

BluntOne - Rhodes to Nowhere / Simple Cuts

The Duel Begins! by Frank Miller