Rockie's Vulcan Video Staff Picks for July 2017
Rockie has been working at one of the last video stores standing, Vulcan Video in Austin, TX, for nearly a decade. The best part about working there is being able to share a recommendation with a customer. Sure, some of his recommendations have been shot down in flames, but the ones that hit always make it well worthwhile. For his Staff Picks, he has a few selections mined from the mighty Vulcan Video.
Straight Time (1978)
My favorite Dustin Hoffman performance. Rarely talked about, Straight Time is a pure convict film with a highly memorable score from David Shire that deserves to be in the ranks of the great crime films. Hoffman is tough as nails without projecting violence. His character has been dealing with the police since age twelve and he just seems to understand that this shall be his entire world and he’ll never escape it. His calm demeanour throughout only makes the crimes he commits way more shocking, really. Sad and so grounded, Straight Time will make you miss the ones that take their damn time unfolding and when they end, you’ll have so much to chew on.
Angel Heart (1987)
One of the best onscreen Lucifer's can be found in this film. With his long nails and his very peculiar way of peeling an egg and oh, it’s De Niro as Satan so there’s all that. Director Alan Parker loads this film with jaw-dropping imagery, rivaling his previous work on The Wall. Worth it for a younger more hungry Mickey Rourke performance that reminds you how fine his chops were back in the day. Controversial for its time, Angel Heart has several moments of satanic hallucinatory wonder, making it amazing to behold of course. This one is the stuff of memorable nightmares, a reliable old standard that still destroys today.
I’m no anime expert whatsoever, but I remember the ones that floor me and Redline was one of those films. Imagine someone playing way too damn much F-Zero on SNES while on (insert favorite poison here) for days straight then having that someone direct a racing cartoon. Nothing repeats nor looks the same in Redline. It is constantly shooting forward and morphing with some of the most amazing character design in an animated feature I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. This colorful ride is why I hang in there with a genre I am quite unfamiliar with. Every damn cut transfers you to something both fresh and new and it is appreciated. All of this crazy just jam-packed into a racing film that uses all the colors.
I saw this as a kid and had no clue that I was watching a Michael Mann film. For years I had thought The Last of the Mohicans was my intro to the filmmaker but nope. I, of course, revisited this beast and my return to this film as an adult was quite an amazing thing. Here we see Mann setting up that cold crime world he’d dance in several more times later. That gorgeous camera work and the lovely attention-to-hero-but-especially-to-villain combination that Mann excels at make Manhunter a highly memorable thriller. Tom Noonan is given quite a lot to chew on here and watching him pull it off is one of Manhunter’s greatest joys. Solid two-hour ride that is a must for Hannibal Lecktor/Lecter fans.
No Retreat, No Surrender 2 (1987)
Like any sane little boy, I thought Cynthia Rothrock was God or the monster you send to kill God. So, with that, of course, I stumble upon this gem of a martial arts film and completely flipped over it. Director Corey Yuen (The Transporter, The Legend) infuses so much hustle in each fight sequence making his actors and stunt team go the extra mile. Having done stunt work himself, Yuen infuses that knowledge perfectly, salvaging a completely generic action film turning it into an unforgettable showcase filled with highlight reels. Bias aside, Rothrock steals the show by pulling off her stunt work and martial arts in-camera, surpassing the men through the film’s runtime. How can you hate a film where characters drink snake blood?