Friday, September 23, 2011

Worth Mentioning - Sure as God Made Little Green Apples

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

This week, Cody checks out a surprising Richard Crenna film, takes in a Grizzly documentary, and continues watching Lauren Schneider movies.


Richard Crenna, best known and beloved as Colonel Trautman from the Rambo series, stars here as homicide detective Richard Beck, exactly the type of tough cop you'd expect him to play - one who's not afraid to "break a head now and then, bend the rules a little bit" - as his father (himself a retired police officer) puts it - to get things done.

There's no such thing as "off duty" to Beck. One of his favorite things to do when he's supposed to be going home is to go on what he refers to as "safaris", where he drives through the bad parts of the city looking for trouble to bust up.

He does allow for some levity on the job, but it's a twisted sort of humor, like the bet he makes that he can hold his breath longer than a rookie while checking out a crime scene around a woman's decomposing corpse, or the cracks he makes at the expense of what he considers the joke of the force, the Sex Crimes division. Beck does not take Sex Crimes seriously at all, and even lets an accused rapist go free in exchange for information on a murder suspect.

For this, Beck is punished by being assigned to the Sex Crimes division himself. He still doesn't take it seriously. After his first case, he jokes to his friends that he "got hot" while trying to help a nude rape victim. Clearly this is a man who needs to learn some life lessons. Perhaps this will be a buddy cop movie wherein Beck learns to take Sex Crimes seriously while working alongside the counselor played by Meredith Baxter-Birney.

No, Beck will learn empathy through a much more horrific personal experience, for this is the movie in which Richard Crenna Gets Raped.


During a late night safari, Beck chases a couple criminal types into a rundown restricted area. The criminals, Ray and Sonny, played by perennial movie baddie Nicholas Worth and an almost unrecognizably young and thin M.C. Gainey, get the drop on Beck and are all set to kill him, until they realize he's a cop. This immediately changes their plans to rape, while they attempt to refer to Beck as "pig" as many times as Brian Thompson calls Sylvester Stallone one in Cobra. They don't quite reach his number. "You ever hunted pig before? They squeal when you stab them." Besides, Sonny's old lady left him a month ago and he's lonely.

The rest of the film deals with the emotional aftermath, how this event affects Beck's relationships with the people in his life, and the realization that being "tough, cold, and indifferent" is not the way to approach police work.

I learned about this movie through Amanda by Night's article on Kindertrauma about the very odd rape of the character Monroe on the sitcom Too Close for Comfort. While it was disbelief over the idea that a movie existed in which Richard Crenna Gets Raped that made me have to check it out, it actually is a good dramatic movie that handles the material well. The Deadly Justice title really doesn't fit at all, though. It originally aired with a title that also wasn't so great, but was very honest about its subject matter: The Rape of Richard Beck.

Crenna is surrounded by a great supporting cast of familiar faces that features, in addition to the aforementioned bad guys and Baxter-Birney, Pat Hingle as Beck's father, Frances Lee McCain as his ex-wife, Joanna Kerns as his current lady friend (who he shares a very intense scene with), and Jason Bernard, George Dzunda and Troy Evans as fellow cops.


In the mid-'80s, Troy Hurtubise was on an expedition in the wilderness when he felt a presence, like something was watching him. On the third day, he had a dangerous encounter with his stalker - a grizzly bear that he came to refer to as Old Man due to its white beard.

Following this encounter, Hurtubise became obsessed with once again being able to interact up close with a grizzly in the wild. But to do so, he would need some kind of protection...

Spending seven years of his life and $150,000, Hurtubise perfects a "bear proof" suit and runs it through a countless number of tests meant to simulate the damage a bear might inflict. Some tests can be seen in this video, which is what led me to checking this movie out after being directed to it by Kevin Smith on a SModcast network show. Hurtubise is hit by 300 - 400 pound logs swung from a 40 foot elevation (the power of a grizzly swipe), hit by trucks, the suit withstands arrows and shotgun blasts.

The first half of this documentary lets us get to know who Hurtubise is as a person while he discusses the construction of the suit and the tests, the second half follows him as he takes the suit out into the Alberta wilderness in hopes of putting it through its ultimate test - going claw-to-titanium with a grizzly.

This is a very enjoyable documentary that, with a 72 minute running time, just breezes by. Hurtubise is a quirky, likeable guy to spend some time with, and there's a lot of fun in seeing the (RoboCop inspired) suit take a beating.


The third movie I watched on my viewing trip through the filmography of actress Lauren Schneider was this $10,000 indie. Like last week's Among Brothers, Wrestling was shot on mini-DV, in this case the camera used was a Canon XL-1. I've always been impressed with the look of the XL-1, in fact the first time I watched the XL-1-shot The Stink of Flesh, I was tricked into thinking it was 16mm.

Written and directed by Jeremy O'Keefe, Wrestling follows the lives of some teenagers in the summer following their high school graduation, in particular the relationship that develops between video store clerk Jake and the adorably awkward and shy Carrie. There is dramatic trouble in their Delaware paradise, as both have recently lost someone close to them - Carrie her previous boyfriend, Jake his mother. Both are still dealing with the emotional aftermath of these losses, and Jake is judged for hooking up with Carrie, as others feel that it's too soon after the boyfriend's death.

This is a good, true-to-life drama and Schneider gives an awesome performance in the lead role of Carrie. Jake is well-played by Mark Welling, the younger brother of Smallville's Tom Welling, and Jeff Conaway is great in a small role as Jake's father.


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