FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

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Redline

By BrianOrndorf

April 14th, 2007

"Redline" is based on a fantasy of filthy rich producer Daniel Sadek. His wildest dream? To see his entire luxury automobile collection used in a racing film. He even paid for the making of "Redline" out of his own pocket. So what does 26 million dollars buy you in today's film market? Apparently a smorgasbord of awful.

Redline

For kicks, a group of millionaires (Eddie Griffin, Angus Macfayden, and Tim Matheson) gather together to bet on illegal races using their collection of exotic cars. Natasha (Nadia Bjorlin) is a singer with a racing past who unexpectedly gets caught up in this pastime and she wants out. With the help of Iraq vet Carlos (Nathan Phillips, “Wolf Creek”), Natasha attempts to tamper with the race results to best exact revenge on one of the tycoons who has threatened her family.

“Redline” is perhaps the most obvious vanity film of the last decade. Even the worst projects from Hollywood’s A-list couldn’t compare with the ballooned ego of this movie. It’s a motion picture literally built around the display of fancy cars, with minimal attention to plot or performance. Sure, the same could be said of its forefather, 2001’s “Fast and the Furious,” but even that piece of junk had some production value. “Redline” is a direct-to-knucklehead release that refuses to bow out gracefully.

Clearly, the target demo for the film is teenage boys and Sadek wouldn’t dare leave his bread and butter hanging for long. “Redline” is “directed” by an Asian stuntman named Andy Cheng, but I wouldn’t call flash editing, an endless parade of down-blouse shots, and a music score comprised of outtakes from the “Three Dollar Bill Y’all” sessions to be direction. Cheng is clueless here, uproariously trying to goose the adrenaline with everything he’s got, and when that fails, he throws more depressing cleavage than a Playboy Bunny funeral on the screen to try and zero in on the primal motivation one has for seeing a film like this.

As an action film, “Redline” is as goofy as they come, staging hand-to-hand combat with Seagal-like indifference and lukewarm timing. The races themselves are lost in a whirlwind assault of visuals; Cheng more closely involved with the editing than trying to at least come up with one single “wow” shot to make the pain worthwhile. Many punches are thrown, cars flip through the air, and it adds up to nothing. “Redline” is actually worse and far more melodramatic than nothing, making one wish for the magic of Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo to swoop in and properly deal with a film this tacky.

If the stunts fail to catch fire, you can imagine how a cast lead by Eddie Griffin fares. The big “names” of the film, including Griffin, Tim Matheson, and the always dreadful Angus Macfayden (who, at one point, performs a shirtless tribal dance while throwing counterfeit money into a fire) were obviously sucked into “Redline” by the lure of a summer vacation on a millionaire’s dime. The younger part of the troupe, led by the impossibly crafted Bjorlin and dense Phillips, look stunned by the whole ordeal, with the leading lady more interested in pimping her singing career and maintaining her dynamite tan than giving an authentic reaction to the stupidity surrounding her.

“Redline” is garbage, but I refuse to accept it had to be this bad. Especially coming from a producer without any obligations to please a studio, “Redline” should’ve been far more than just rusted spare parts from the action film junkyard. It squanders a rich opportunity to do something memorable. Instead, it just reeks like all its nitro-fueled siblings.

My rating: F