Things We Like: “Deadbeat at Dawn” and Japander
This action-packed scuzzball revenge thriller, produced on a minuscule budget, is a brutal throwback to 1970s drive-in filmmaking at its most demented. Jim Van Bebber not only wrote, directed and produced this movie, but he also stars as Goose, a disenfranchised gang member who wants to quit the thug life and spend more time with his woman. Unfortunately his girlfriend is murdered with a couple of golf clubs and, after romantically dumping her body in a trash compactor, Goose is hell-bent for unmerciful vengeance.
There’s enough blood and gore in “Deadbeat” to rival “The Streetfighter” (throats ripped out, heads cut off, etc.) and the frequent stunt work is absolutely nerve-wracking, especially since Van Bebber performs them himself with ballsy abandon. He jumps on moving trains, scales buildings, and beats the crap out of lots of people. This impressive feature-length debut, shot on 16mm, ends with a lengthy showdown between the scruffy badass (who takes a lot of abuse) and his former gang, culminating in a tough, unflinching finale. – Spenser Hoyt
This website is as old as the world itself; I think I first wrote about Japander a little more than a decade ago. Remembering the site, I wondered if Hollywood’s biggest stars were still winging their way over to Japan to pull a “Lost in Translation.” I checked the page and yes, yes they are. Kiefer Sutherland is pimping an energy drink; Anne Hathaway is shilling for hair products; Brad Pitt is selling his body for bluejeans and online banking. These star-studded commercials aren’t as shocking as they once were, as Hollywood’s working elite seems to have less qualms about cashing in than it once did. (Yes, that’s the voice of Oscar winner Kevin Spacey you’re hearing in those travel website ads, mooning over a pouty masseur in a tank top: “Magnus is bliss.” Kevin, I am becoming wrath.) But the Japanese put these Western stars in such whimsical and flat-out bizarre situations that the ads still have the capacity to get a smile, even if they no longer raise an eyebrow. When you’re tired of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cute and terrifying Japanese ads, you’re tired of Tokyo … and maybe Hollywood, too. – Geoff Carter