One of the great things about writing for a site like CHUD is that you suddenly find yourself with the opportunity to speak to lots of people who share your love of movies and who probably have a similar mindset. And that means you have the chance to pimp out a movie that you think is great, and that you suspect a lot of people reading the site will think is pretty great, too. We’ve never been shy about doing this – hell, it’s almost part of our basic mission statement.
For the rest of the week we’re going to bring you ten films that CHUD has championed. These are the films that we pimped, and we pimped hard, and we’re proud to have put our name and our reputation on the line for them.
Equilibrium (Buy the DVD)
Why it’s Essential: Of all of the CHUD-endorsed films, this is the arguably the most famous, in terms of how prominently the site associated itself with it, and without a doubt, the most infamous. It all started in a small screening room on an access road in Northeast Atlanta, when Nick, myself, and a few other Atlanta chewers got together for some obscure Dimension film of some sort. I’d seen a few stills and thought the premise sounded interesting, but was otherwise not particularly anxious. But once the lights went down, we spent the next 90 minutes or so getting our shit punched through the back wall of the theater as we geeked out at Christian Bale blossoming into a badass hero in front of our very own eyes. And under Kurt Wimmer’s direction and fight choreography, we finally saw somebody adding a few new entries to the cinematic action dictionary, something that hadn’t really been done since The Matrix’s asteroid-eqsue impact in 1999. Thus, the word went out from that screening forward, and even AICN’s Moriarty got fully behind the pic as we all tried to build a buzz that would help Dimension figure out what they had on their hands. And as much as we were overjoyed after that first intoxicating screening, we watched with just as much horror as Dimension essentially gave the film the finger by barely releasing it in late 2002 to a predictably disastrous theatrical run. And that’s not even counting the online peeps who gave the film a chance and were disappointed for a variety of reasons.
Years later, it’s tempting to look at the film in a vacuum and wonder what all of the fuss is about. After all, Kurt Wimmer put a pretty big stake in both his legacy and the continuing appeal of Gun Kata with his dreadful follow-up Ultraviolet. And Bale is now best known as the latest chap to carry the torch as Batman. CHUD’s gone on to pimp many other films, a good few of which were infinitely more successful. But this is where it all began. Bale’s showing here was part of what helped the WB brass see the guy best known for quirky indies as a viable leading man. And regardless of what Kurt Wimmer did since, he made a firecracker of a movie here that works well beyond just the handful of onscreen minutes devoted to insane Gun Kata battles. But what makes this essential isn’t just the film, but the fact that the battle to get it seen remains one of the most definitive chapters of CHUD lore. To know it is to understand what the site’s about.
The Movie: After knocking over a NYC toy store, Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.) stumbles into an audition while trying to lose the cops. Taken for a method actor, he’s flown to LA where he meets Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) , a real life detective who offers his consultation services to the movie biz. While on a stakeout to prepare Harry for a role he’s never going to get, he and Perry witness a murder, which leads to several other twisted acts and an unlikely run-in with Harry’s childhood crush. Goddamn, LA is an absurd place!
Why it’s Essential: Shane Black’s take on hard boiled LA detective fiction is quite simply the best thing he’s ever written. By default it’s the best thing he’s ever directed, too. Not that you’d ever guess he’s a first-timer behind the camera. Kiss Kiss has an unflappable confidence and incredible work from Downey and Kilmer, neither of whom have been more entertaining than they are here, at least in the last decade. The movie feels like a second coming for Val Kilmer, who, while developing his skills as a character actor, hasn’t commanded the screen in this fashion for far too long.
Best of all, this feels like the sort of movie no one makes any more. Where there were once fun, vaguely smart action flicks like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard, we now have Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Actually, scratch that — this isn’t just a throwback to the action movies of the late ’80s. It’s a film out of time. The blend of character, comedy, action and pure bravado (why not shatter the fourth wall in the last scene?) is totally unique, and as great a reason to go the movies as I know.