Road House 1989 ***

Road House 1

Joel Silver could certainly package an action movie in the 80’s and 90’s. Whatever audience feelings might have been about Patrick Swayze’s believability as a super-tough bouncer, the diminutive star manages to cut the mustard as Dalton, a man who has a talent for ripping throats out with his bare hands. Dalton moves from NYC to Jasper, Mississippi to keep the locals in line at the Double Deuce, an odd rough-and-tumble drinking den that’s more brightly lit than an airport lounge, where the baby-faced Jeff Healey appears to permanently playing his guitar on-stage and Kathleen Wilhoite, Luke’s sister in Gilmore Girls, hangs out at the bar. Dalton’s presence annoys sleaze-ball local boss Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who has the locals contributing a good ten per cent of their income to his slush fund, which he seems to spend on idiotic henchmen and a lair of giant stuffed animals and polar bears. Such ostentatious living is alien to the humble Dalton, who prefers to live in a shack without electricity that he hires from a local Santa. Dalton and Wesley are on a collision course, and if that’s not enough to hang a redneck movie on, Sam Elliott turns up as bouncer’s bouncer Wade Garrett and there’s even a gratuitous ‘intimidation by monster truck’ set piece involving smashing up a car dealership. While no masterpiece, Road House just about gets the job done with hiss-able villains and knockabout camaraderie from the leads. The romantic subplot is a bit of a pain, but Road House has a far more accomplished cast than a Patrick Swayze punch-up flick requires, and it’s a guilty pleasure for when a serious film is just too much trouble. When you’re director is called Rowdy Herrington, you probably know what you’re getting.

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A Star is Born 2018 *****

A terrible idea on paper, no matter what the cast was, it’s perhaps understandable that only large fan-bases of the two established stars featured here would have been excited about this project. Director and star Bradley Cooper plays the famously flaming-out toxic-male musician here with a little less of the arrogance of Kris Kristofferson in the previous version. Lady Gaga’s pop-culture status makes her a perfect update for Barbara Streisand, playing someone believably real in a way that feels like a revelation after a career marked by elusive novelty. This is a straight re-thinking of the 1976 version, a film which was seen at the time as very modish, suggesting a genuine affection for the material. If a drunken act of public urination at an awards ceremony can be considered a flourish, A Star Is Born is crammed with such innovation, notably the revival of the  ‘…just wanted to look at you one more time.’ line which was originally featured in the 1936 version. A Star Is Born got overshadowed at the awards run-in by Bohemian Rhapsody, which was more of a pop-culture cartoon rather than a genuine depiction of fame and loss, but once the mist of comparison has cleared, Cooper and Gaga’s chemistry makes this version of A Star Is Born into a once-in a-generation stone-cold classic.