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Monthly Archives: April 2019

Remember Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in Cocktail? Yeah it was an awful movie but leave it to the Japanese to produce a miniseries about bartenders and make it work! Bartender (2011).

Hello JPFmovies fans and welcome to another review of something a little different.  The JPFmovies staff remembers watching Tom Cruise and Michael Caine in the 1988 film Cocktail and wondering just how low Michael Caine could go after his stellar performance in Blame it on Rio (1984) and rolling our eyes at the thin plot, predictable ending and an overall shitty film—but of course earned a ton of money.  After that fiasco, members of the JPFmovies staff were certain that we had seen the last of media glorifying bartenders who, according to Michael Caine were “the aristocrats of the working class.”  However, in our relentless efforts to review the good, the bad and the ugly the JPFmovies staff was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon Bartender (2011) a Japanese mini-series based on a manga of the same name.

Ryu Sasakura (Masaki Aiba) is a bar tending prodigy who won a European cocktail contest. He got into an argument with his instructor and was fired. In a state of dejection he came back to his native country of Japan.  He finds work again in Tokyo and also meets Miwa Kurushima. Meanwhike, Ryu Sasakura is able to listen to his customer’s problems and help alleviate their worries with his special cocktail mixes including work and love and family troubles, one drink at a time.  Our bar tending prodigy even takes on a disciple and enters him into a contest—only to have his lose magnificently!

Why is the Japanese series tolerable?  Because it does not portray the bartender as some flamboyant circus performer out to land a babe, some cash or another material recompense but a person who takes his craft seriously and listens to his patrons without judgment while providing honest, simple advice.  He even goes so far as to track the water used in a customer’s hometown to make the drink authentic.  What more could you want in a bartender?  No Ryu was not flinging glasses three feet in the air while dancing to some 80’s rock, he made his drinks with precision, attention to detail and an eye to match the booze with its drinker.  A consummate professional.  This is not a heavy and gritty film that makes you sweat, but a nice lite series that provides a decent respite from the world today, much like going to your favorite watering hole.  Take a few hours and watch it, you will be glad you did.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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Payback (1999) and Payback the Director’s Cut (2006)—the same movie but not even close. A study in how the editing of a film can completely change it.

Payback is a 1999 American neo-noir crime film written and directed by Brian Helgeland in his directorial debut, and stars Mel Gibson, Gregg Henry, Maria Bello, and David Paymer.  But in 2006, Helgeland released his director’s cut that hardly resembles the 1999 theatrical version.  The “original” Payback starts off with Mel Gibson (Porter—we don’t know if it is his first or last name) narrating his current predicament; that is, being operated on by some back alley surgeon who takes two bullets out of his back and uses a bottle of booze to sterilize the wound.   Porter’s narration begins to tell a story of crime and betrayal showing that there is truly no honor among thieves.

 

Porter and another criminal named Val Resnik hit a Triad gang for $140,000.00.  They made a clean get away and while they were dividing up the money, Porter’s wife shoots him in the back allowing Resnik to take the entire heist so he can buy his way back into an all-powerful organized crime outfit—for some unknown reason Resnick owed this group $130,000.00 and once paid he was allowed back in.  While Porter is writhing in agony after his wife shot him, Resnick walks up to him and produces a picture of Porter with another woman which was enough to convince his wife to betray and try to kill him.  Both Resnik and the wife leave him for dead.

Somehow Porter makes it to the back-alley surgeon and spends 5 months recovering from his wounds. When he is able Porter sets out to collect his ½ of the heist that was originally agreed upon by the partners in crime.  The rest of the film is Porter tracking down Resnik, dealing with corrupt cops and a well-organized criminal enterprise in order to get his $70,000.00.  Porter is very clever and outwits anyone that stands in his way. Including putting away two very corrupt cops, killing numerous foot soldiers of the “outfit” as well as the enterprises’ underboss and of course Resnick.  Naturally after some grueling fighting and torture Porter recovers his money and gets away with Rosie, a hooker he used to drive for and who helped him in his quest for the cash.

The 1999 theatrical version did well at the box office and world wide grossed approximately $160,000,000.00.   Helgeland went on to make a name for himself, writing and directing such films as LA Confidential, Man on Fire and Robin Hood.  His one big mistake is a film previously reviewed by the JPFmovies staff The Postman—winner of a Golden Raspberry award because it just sucked.

Then in 2006, Helgeland releases Payback Straight Up The Directors Cut.  The new release is materially different than the theatrical version and in the eyes of the JPFmovies staff much better.  The Directors Cut is much darker involving an unappealing hero, little humor, some graphic scenes including one where he beats the shit out of his wife and no neat, happy ending but instead a dead dog (named Porter).  It is a totally different film, gritty edgy and no one in the story is a “good guy.”  But when you think about it, Helgeland was right from an economic point of view to release the 1999 version to the public.  The theatrical version is funnier, easier accessible and more spectacular most of the shots show Porter with a light facial expression, almost smirking, and of course the dog survives.  Unfortunately, much more appealing to a wider audience which translated into $160,000,000.00.

The Director’s Cut is a much better film, but for narrower, hardcore audience and would not have made nearly as much money.  Payback is yet another example of how Hollywood has turned the art of film into nothing more than dollars and cents. JPFmovies recommends that you watch both versions of the film if for no other reason than to see just how powerful editing can be.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in Movie Reviews

 

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