Rudy Wurlitzer

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Walker Review


Excellent
Following his one-two punch of cultic cinema, Repo Man and Sid & Nancy, director Alex Cox went on to make two more films that consecrated his reputation as, well, a malcontent. It was 1987 and Cox's latest film, Straight to Hell, was universally panned, not completely unfairly. But just five months later, Cox returned with Walker, an equally-batty spectacle built on the last years of the late-19th-century soldier-of-fortune William Walker and his conquest of Nicaragua. Given only a paltry release in December '87, Cox's film maudit was banished to the realm of VHS for two decades before Criterion took an interest and decked it out with all the trimmings.

Far too crazy to be fatalist, Walker strangely begins on a moment of near-defeat for the titular batshit commando (the phenomenal Ed Harris) and his madcap battalion. Saved by a sandstorm and his lawyer, Walker finds himself back in the arms of his love Ellen Martin (Marlee Matlin). The fact that Ephraim Squier (Richard Masur) holds the keys to Walker's future in politics doesn't stop Ellen from asking Squier to fornicate with swine. Soon enough, Walker is trading away his future with Ellen for a mission to Nicaragua at the behest of Squier and Cornelius Vanderbilt (Peter Boyle).

Continue reading: Walker Review

Pat Garrett And Billy The Kid Review


Bad
Sam Peckinpah's virtually unseen Western turns out to be unseen for a reason. Interminably boring and filled with red paint-for-blood splattering, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid ought to turn you off, but if that doesn't do the job, I've got one phrase that will: "Also starring Bob Dylan." Nuff said, I hope.

Two-Lane Blacktop Review


Excellent
Two-Lane Blacktop came out the year I was born, so I can only imagine the duel it must have fought with Vanishing Point, a nearly identical -- though ultimately less satisfying -- romp across American in a fast car. This time we're given two nameless drag racers (James Taylor and Warren Oates) kicking each other's butts as they jet from small town to small town en route to the finish line in Washington D.C.4, with a couple of side characters in tow. The ending is an infamous classic "what the!?" moment in film history. Check out the DVD for commentary from Monte Hellman that attempts to explain it.
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