Oct 28, 2010

Shaw Brothers Appetizers

Howdy everyone, Hunter here!

For all those out there that aren't fans of us on Facebook, I posted a bunch of trailers to the movies we would be discussing on Episode 2.  For those of you coming here and just now checking the site and the new show, here they are.  If you've already heard the show, they'll give you a further taste of what you're in for, given you're unfamiliar with these films, as well as further viewing suggestions.  Enjoy!

Also, Stu and I will be recording Episode 3 next week, along with a special guest. Remember you can follow us on Twitter (@MMCowboys), send us an e-mail at midnightmoviecowboys@gmail.com, if you drop us an MP3 voicemail, we'll play it on the show!

-H

1. The One-Armed Swordsman (dir. Chang Cheh)

Chang Cheh's masterpiece that set the world of martial arts films on fire, breaking $1 million US as the Hong Kong box office.  Drawing it's influence from the films of Akira Kurosawa and Sam Peckinpah, Chang's film spawned a plethora of sequels, remakes, and knock-offs, and launched Jimmy Wang Yu into stardom.

Further viewing: The Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, The New One-Armed Swordsman, The Master of the Flying Guillotine, The Blade

2. The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (dir. Lau Kar Leung)

Lau Kar Leung's most famous and influential film, it defined the training sequence and made an icon out of Gordon Liu, who was Lau's go-to leading man and went on to play two roles in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill films.  It's influence can also be seen in the world of hip-hop, as the Wu-Tang Clan named their debut record 36 Chambers, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard named his first solo venture after the sequel, Return to the 36th Chamber.

Further viewing: Return to the 36th Chamber, Disciples of the 36th Chamber, Heroes of the East, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter

3. The Magic Blade (dir. Chu Yuan)

A fast-moving fantasy film that seems to take place in a universe that overlaps our own. Starring genre heroes Ti Lung and Lo Lieh, director Chu Yuan fills this wuxia romp with crazy villains and wacky action set-pieces that make it one-of-a-kind.

Further viewing: Holy Flame of the Martial World

4. The Boxer's Omen (dir. Chih-Hung Kuei)

This film is a crazy gross-out journey of the spiritual variety you have to see for yourself.

I couldn't find a trailer for this one, so enjoy one of the delightfully strange battles between a Shaolin monk and an evil Taoist wizard.

Further viewing: Corpse Mania, El Topo, The Holy Mountain

Oct 26, 2010

Episode 2: The Shaw-lin Temple

The doors have been flung open and we welcome you to The Shaw-lin Temple! This episode is centered around the Kung-Fu and Wuxia films from the Shaw Brothers studio, specifically an in-depth look at the films The One-Armed Swordsman, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, The Magic Blade and The Boxer's Omen.  These 4 films cover a good spectrum of the movies produced at the Shaw Brothers studio during their heyday. You don't have to have seen these films to enjoy this show, so dive in.

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Oct 25, 2010

Take It from Us…

Howdy everyone, Hunter here!

Stu and I have started a new series of short podcasts called "Take it from us" that are more review-based.  They're not appearing on the main page, as we plan to have a tab for them that will be more prominent once the site gets more organized (it's on a link to the right under the PAGES tab).  So for now, here's a post on the main page pointing you to it, this show won't go out on the feed, so the only place you can get it is here on the site.  Now go listen to it! Enjoy!

-H

Oct 20, 2010

Episode 2 Update/Another Film Thugs appearance

Howdy everyone, Hunter here!

Stu and I recorded Episode 2 last night and it's in the can, look for it here or on your iTunes feed early next week.  It's gonna be nice and Shaw-spiced!

In the meantime, Stu and I both appeared (albeit separately) on the latest episode of The Film Thugs Movie Show.  Their "listener break-up" show has been gestating for awhile now and it finally burst out this week, Stu and I both submitted our break-up lists in pre-recorded audio, it's a hilarious show so go check it out here.  Thanks everyone, see ya when Episode 2 drops!

-H

Oct 7, 2010

Episode 1 - The Overlook(ed) Hotel: Profiles in Obscurity

Well, here it is everybody, Episode 1!  It's a little thing we like to call 'The Overlook(ed) Hotel: Profiles in Obscurity'.  For this episode, as you may know, we decided to be a bit more loose and not so diligent with audio grabs and music, mainly due to time constraints.  We will, however, be returning back to our normal format as of Episode 2 onwards.  For now, this episode is a bit more free-form, but we had fun making it, and we hope you have fun listening to it.  Who knows, there may be a title or two in there that you'll wanna track down and it'll become something you will start shouting about to your friends.

Remember to subscribe to us in iTunes, visit our Facebook and Twitter pages, all of which are located here on the site, be sure to drop us an email, or, even better, send us a voicemail and we will incorporate it into a future show.

Stu

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Oct 4, 2010

Hunter reviews: Catfish (2010)

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Releasing Catfish the same weekend as David Fincher's Facebook creation myth, The Social Network, is probably no coincidence, as I'm sure these two films would make a stellar double feature.  Catfish is a documentary that begins examining a relationship a man has with a family of people he meets on Facebook, and the peeling away of the personas they project as he digs deeper into who they really are once the cracks are exposed.  It's about how sites like Facebook (and the internet in general) have changed the politics of personal relationships, and the way we can get lost in the identities we create for ourselves online.  Catfish is a movie that is best enjoyed going in knowing as little as possible, I'm going to keep the plot description as thin as possible, however if you plan to see this, stop right here and see the film (which you should do anyway), then come back and read this.  If you don't care, read on.

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The documentary focuses on a guy named Yaniv Schulman, a photographer living in New York with two filmmakers, Henry Joost, and Yaniv's brother, Ariel (both of whom made this film).  Yaniv begins receiving paintings interpreting his work as a photographer from a child prodigy in Michigan named Abby.  Yaniv becomes connected with Abby's family through Facebook, getting to know Abby's mother Angela, her brother Alex, her father Vince, and most of all, her lovely older sister Megan, who is also a singer-songwriter.  Megan and  Yaniv quickly form a long-distance internet relationship via Faceboook and phone calls.  Yaniv sends her photographs and Photoshop creations, while Megan sends him recordings of her covering songs, as well as original ones she puts together, just for him.  But as you might have guessed, this isn't a documentary that's about the formation of a lasting relationship online, it's about what happens when the validity of Megan's online identity gets called into question, causing the filmmakers to investigate who Yaniv has really been speaking to this whole time.

Catfish probably takes some liberties with the true story all for the sake of drama and suspense, but it is nonetheless a compelling tale of identity and relationships as filtered through the internet.  I've always been interested in the subject of the internet and how it's changed our relationships with each other, yet most movies that tackle that subject only touch on the more interesting elements, or ignore them altogether.  Facebook and MySpace (which seems to be going the way of Friendster in recent years) are places where we can project ideas of ourselves, often we try to represent some idea of how we perceive ourselves, or how we would like to perceive ourselves.  We pick pictures that make us look as cool and attractive as possible to represent us on our profiles, sometimes we don't even use pictures of ourselves at all, sometimes we intentionally misrepresent who we are, and some people take that further than others.  The YouTube aesthetic the filmmakers bring make this movie seem like it takes place entirely online, like something best experienced on the internet itself.  The changes the internet has brought to culture as a whole are rarely addressed in cinema, so seeing these filmmakers address it directly, and in a seemingly non-fiction setting makes this one of the most engaging and interesting films to tackle the subject so far.

-H

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Oct 3, 2010

The Film Thugs Movie Show

Howdy everyone, Hunter here!

First things first, Stu and I are recording Episode 1 tomorrow, given some time constraints that have fallen upon Stu and I this week, the show's not gonna be as snazzed up in post-production as Episode 0, so this show might be a bit rough around the edges by comparison, but future shows will have the bells and whistles in terms of music and clips.  Since our podcast is still in its infancy, we want to get something out for you guys in a timely manner, and the topic we have cooking is a fun one, so it'll be a great show, we just don't want you all thinking we're shirking our post-production duties from now on.

So I joined Jim Dirkes from The Film Thugs Movie Show on Friday to fill in for Clarkson Campbell, and the show is now up for your listening pleasure.  Head on over to their site to check it out, or you could do the right thing and subscribe to their show on iTunes if you haven't already!  The topic is IMDb.com's list of the top 20 festival break-out films of the last 20 years, and the topics discussed include Ed Burns, transvestites, the amount of rape in the oeuvre of Todd Solondz, and the color scheme in Little Miss Sunshine.  Go now and enjoy it!

-H

Oct 1, 2010

Announcements + Lone Wolf McQuade

Howdy friends, Hunter here!

First off I want to announce a few things, Stu and I will be recording Episode 1 at the beginning of the week so we should have a new show up for you all soon.  Also, I will be filling in for Clarkson Campbell over at The Film Thugs Movie Show for this week's show, so be sure to check that one out, it should be available Sunday night if all things go as planned.  If you're unfamiliar with The Film Thugs, it's a great movie podcast (what else would it be?) hosted by a couple of rowdy Texans (my kind of people), check them out over at their web site at TheFilmThugs.com!

Okay, so in Episode 0, Stu picked the Chuck Norris flick Lone Wolf McQuade as one of his palette-defining movies, and at the time of recording, I hadn't seen it.  Well, shortly thereafter I watched the copy sitting on my coffee table, and I cooked up a review for it, so check out my thoughts below!

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If one wishes to gain an understanding of the oeuvre of Chuck Norris in one go, one need look no further than Lone Wolf McQuade. Everything that Chuck would come to be known for begins here, it’s ground zero for Chuck’s invincible and cartoonishly messianic Texas Ranger archetype. The film opens with an Ennio Morricone knock-off score that whistles behind Chuck as we see him spy on a group of criminals before confronting them with the sun framing him like a Texas-fried Jesus as he steps in to literally kick their teeth in once things get ugly.  Here, as you might have surmised, Chuck plays the titular McQuade, and as the title suggests, he doesn’t like teamwork, so when his stereotypically bureaucratic boss assigns him a partner, he isn’t too happy.  McQuade likes the simple things in life, like keeping a wolf at his trashed-out house, shooting dummies in his yard, and drinking insane amounts of Pearl beer in the middle of the day.  Pearl beer seems to be to McQuade what spinach is to Popeye; in one scene the bad guys bury McQuade in his trashed out Bronco, but after busting out a can of Pearl, he pours it all over his being and manages to rev his way out of the hole once his baptism of booze gives him a second wind.  As you might have guessed, McQuade makes Martin Riggs (and, somehow, Mel Gibson by proxy) look positively sane by comparison.  He brandishes a gun when his partner comes to visit him, he drives his Bronco into crime scenes as though the concept of traffic laws never occurred to him, and yet he seems to be a picture perfect father despite his loony eccentricities.  Granted, he never cries in his trailer with a gun in his mouth the way Riggs does, but he does live like someone you would see on an episode of Hoarders, so I guess it evens out.

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The villain in Lone Wolf McQuade is played by none other than David Carradine, and seeing Chuck Norris confront and kill him seems to be something like poetic justice (c’mon, that ain’t spoilin’ nuthin’).  You see, Chuck Norris has a very close cinematic relation to Bruce Lee, as Chuck’s debut on film features him as a badass American karate expert sent to take out Lee’s kung-fu genius on a violent Roman holiday in Way of the Dragon, which Lee also wrote and directed.  The two meet in the Roman coliseum and have a duel in which Lee rips out Chuck’s chest hair before killing him.  However Lee showed a respect to Chuck’s killer karate dude that most action stars lack after killing their primary opponent, and therefore seemed to be paying Chuck respect as his contemporary as a martial artist. Bruce Lee also happened to be the creator for the concept for the TV series Kung Fu, with the intention of he himself starring in it, before the producers decided that Lee was “too Chinese” to play a “Chinese person,” instead opting for a much whiter David Carradine (who also happened to know fuck-all about the show’s namesake), keeping Lee’s Hollywood star potential at bay until the release of the Hollywood/Hong Kong co-production of Enter the Dragon, which came too late, as it was released shortly after Lee’s untimely death.  So seeing Chuck whip the shit out David Carradine (who looks as though he accidentally wandered into Bill Cosby’s wardrobe trailer prior to shooting every scene) seems somehow satisfying, as though Chuck is shoving a grenade up his ass for complying in the act of transforming Lee’s creation from something legitimately interesting, into something incredibly mediocre, safe, and ultimately forgettable.

I’m not going to say Lone Wolf McQuade is the most fun I’ve had watching a Chuck Norris movie (Breaker! Breaker!, so far in my ongoing Norris-a-thon, is hard to beat in terms of cheapie entertainment value), but it’s damn close.  It’s cliché right down to its DNA, but it also wrote the book on Chuck Norris clichés.  McQuade defines the formula for the Chuck Norris hero, the wise Texan karate cowboy that we’re all familiar with, so if I’d say if you’re unfamiliar with this Chuck Norris guy, this would be the one movie you’d have to see to get what people are talking about. Then you can decide if you want to continue, or just walk away, but if you say yes to this movie, chances are you’re already interested in seeing schlock like Hellbound and The Hitman anyway, so you might as well stick it out.

-H

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Oct 1, 2010

Itunes

Hi all just to let everybody know, we are now officially on Itunes. On the right hand side of this page you will see a 'subscribe with itunes' button. Hit that and you will automatically subscribe to our show, or if you wanna look us up in Itunes, just type in the shows name Midnight Movie Cowboys and check us out there. Also if you wanna become a fan of the show, on the left hand side of this page you will see a link to our Facebook page, or if you wanna hook up as friends with either myself or Hunter on Facebook, again, the links are on the left hand side of this page also. We're on Twitter also, follow us there too if you feel so inclined

Thanks for listening, episode 1 will be out very soon.

Stu