This month as we cross the video streams we got monsters, cowboys, NBA hopefuls, a robot called Gort, and of course Bruce Willis.
Hostage- I always considered this 2005 thriller a spiritual sequel to “Die Hard with a Vengeance”. It’s a bit on the hardcore side with a pretty horrific opening, but the film is plenty tense and Willis is just shy of being in full John McLane mode. He is a hostage negotiator who gets caught-up in a plot involving the mob. With a wild performance by a young Ben Foster it puts this at the top of the underrated Bruce Willis action film list.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid- This 1969 classic as the age of the western outlaws are at an end. Robert Redford and Paul Newman play the title characters who make a living robbing banks and trains. With one memorable set piece after another from the famous cliff-side standoff, to one of my favorite stunts involving real men standing in front of an explosion. This is still by far one of the best westerns of all time, with an ending like no other.
The Day the Earth Stood Still- No, not the Keanu Reeves and Jaden Smith one, though it did have it’s moments, I’m talking about 1951’s Robert Wise ahead of it’s time sci-fi tale about aliens who come to earth with a warning. Filled with typical allegories about the human race and the paths that could lead us to ruin. While it’s not particular thrilling, even when it’s trying to be, there are still some great moments with Klaatu as he attempts to learn about humans. And it still does a better job at a time when alien invasion movies were all the same.
The Mist- The third paring of director Frank Darabont and a story written by Stephen King did not reach as many people as “Shawshank” or “The Green Mile” but it knows exactly what it is. An old-fashioned monster movie. Darabont even tried to release the film in black and white to capture the tone he was going for. Still without it, the story of a group of people trapped in a supermarket as unknown beasts surround them is plenty terrifying. Especially when *spoilers* the people begin to turn more primal themselves. What made this one memorable for me was the great build-up to a mind blowing ending that shows echoes of what Darabont would eventually tackle head on in the 1st season of the “Walking Dead”.
Hoop Dreams- The desire, and even need to be a pro-athlete was never more personified as it was in this 1994 documentary about two high-school ballers with dreams of making it into the NBA. This one covers it all, class, race, youth, education, talent, and stays with you long after it’s over. It’s got a pretty lengthy running time, but it’s worth devoting the time to see what director Steve James was doing before those great “30 for 30” stories.
That’s all for now, be sure to come back next time when we “Cross the Streams!”
–Robert L. Castillo