Tag Archives: Action

CAPSULE: SUCKER PUNCH (2011)

DIRECTED BY: Zach Snyder

FEATURING: , Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, , Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, ,

PLOT: After accidentally killing her sister in an attempt to save her from their evil step-father, Baby Doll is locked away in a horrific mental institution and condemned to a lobotomy. She invents two separate fantasy worlds in which she and her fellow inmates can attain freedom through a video-game-like epic quest.
Still from Sucker Punch (2011)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: While some of Snyder’s visual tactics and musical cues are interesting, most of Sucker Punch is a highly referential, poorly written adventure whose stranger elements only recall better, weirder movies.

COMMENTS: Set in a dark, tall-tale version of the 1950’s, Sucker Punch’s plot is just a mess. The dank mental asylum is shown for no more than 5-10 minutes, with Baby Doll’s cohorts popping up briefly in the beginning.  Her first mental escape—a glitzy brothel in which she and the other inmates are imprisoned sex workers—provides another set of challenges for our boring protagonist to meet.  This leads to a second imaginary escape, prompted by the madame (Carla Gugino) forcing Baby Doll to dance for everyone.  She slips into a trance involving an epic journey to secure five mystical items that will set her free, and her dance is apparently so sultry she practically hypnotizes everyone in the room.  The script flits between these two fantasies for most of the film, mixing the made-up quests into one metaphorical goal: freedom.

The trailers for this film made me think Sucker Punch could go either way: it could be an imaginative, high-flying action flick with strong women characters at the center, or it could be a teenage boy’s sexual fantasy thinly disguising itself as a feminist steampunk adventure.  To very little surprise, it turned out to be more of the latter.  The story is almost offensively dumbed-down while somehow remaining unnecessarily convoluted thanks to the pointless fantasy-within-a-fantasy conceit.  The barely-written characters are flat as can be, with most of the actors putting in dull-faced performances.  The battle scenes, while large in scale and generally exciting, feature so many familiar set pieces and villains that it’s hard to be genuinely swept up in Snyder’s world.  Oversize metal samurai?  Mother dragon fighting to protect her baby?  Nazi zombies?  It’s been done.

The fact that almost the entire proceedings—all of which are meant to be the conscious projection of an independent 20-year-old woman, mind you—involve scantily-clad twentysomething hotties with heavy fake eyelashes fighting evil in egregiously high heels while their male tormenters ogle them, well… that just gives Mr Snyder a chance to incorporate as much exploitation and fetishization as he can.  The overabundance of slow-motion is the cherry on top of this very indulgent and overloaded psycho-sexy sundae.

Admittedly, there are some positive aspects to the film.  Jena Malone, Abbie Cornish, and Carla Gugino—arguably the most talented actors present—do their best with the shoddy material, adding just a dash of emotional weight to the proceedings amidst the clunky dialogue and overblown electronica soundtrack.  Malone especially stands out: with her adorable spiky haircut and acute expressiveness she is a welcome relief from Emily Browning’s infantalizing pigtails and ever-present look of worried, victimized Barbie doll.  Many of the visuals, too, are quite intriguing, with Snyder utilizing his usual dulled color palette and sped-up/slowed-down battle sequences. Several of the action scenes feel like an anime in real life (Baby Doll’s ridiculous schoolgirl outfit and katana and Amber’s giant mech certainly help), which is a nice thought.

It’s always nice to see confident, independent women kicking butt onscreen, and it’s a thing that doesn’t happen as often as it should, but Sucker Punch is not a good example of this genre.  While on the surface it features some memorable fantasy images, sexy babes in killer costumes, and exciting gunplay, it’s neither fun nor smart enough to make up for the uninspired script, bad acting, and wanton exploitation.  In the end, the weirdest thing about it is that it seems to take itself seriously.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Spastic, bombastic, and incoherent, Zach Snyder’s Sucker Punch is a baroque, highly polished chunk of pop culture vomit. A nonsensical mash-up of Shutter Island, The Lord of the Rings, I, Robot and Kill Bill, it doesn’t even have the decency to have fun with its cartoonish obsessions, instead delivering a somber, moody, metafictional melodrama that that thinks it’s about female empowerment but instead has all the philosophical heft of Maxim Magazine.”–Jeff Meyers, Detroit Metro Times (contemporaneous)

CAPSULE: FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID (2010)

DIRECTED BY: Zachary Oberzan

FEATURING: Zachary Oberzan

PLOT:  Small town Kentucky Sheriff Teasle picks up a shaggy vagrant, but finds that the kid is not as harmless as he initially appears; violent events lead the cop to stalk the resourceful fugitive through the forests toward a deadly showdown.

Still from Flooding with Love for the Kid (2010)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LISTFlooding With Love for the Kid actually breaks the Weirdometer.  A one-man retelling of David Morell’s pulp novel “First Blood,” made for $96, with toy snakes, teddy bears, and pine branches for props, shot entirely inside one Manhattan apartment, Flooding exists in its own universe: beyond weird or normal.

COMMENTS: In the category of “best feature film shot for under $100,” the winner, by a wide margin, is Flooding With Love for the Kid.  The end credits explain that the film was “adapted, produced, directed, designed, filmed, performed, edited, special effects and makeup by Zachary Oberzan”: an entire career résumé in one movie.  Primarily, the film’s an advertisement for Oberzan’s acting abilities.  Playing all the characters, his ingenuity is tested to its limits.  He generates significant empathy in the primary role of Teasle, the cop who looks like a man completely in command of his tiny police fiefdom, but who’s hiding personal pain and insecurity underneath the assured facade.  The kid, Rambo, is a more mysterious figure—almost Christlike in his passive resistance to authority at the film’s beginning, though he turns into a survivalist psychopath cypher by the end of the first act.  This portrayal focuses on the character’s mystical, symbolic side rather than on Rambo as a killing machine; Oberzan’s no Sylvester Stallone, and that’s meant as a compliment.  When clean-shaven Teasle acts in split screen beside the bearded kid, you realize that these seamless-looking scenes where Oberzan reacts to himself had to be shot months apart.  The auteur also plays the dozens of supporting characters, including an entire police squad, greasy spoon waitresses, Viet Cong torturers and, in his oddest role, a team of bloodhounds on Rambo’s trail.  Playing all these parts tax Oberzan’s art to its limit, but he manages at the very least to distinguish each character so we can always tell them apart.  Humorously, one of the deputies has slightly gay mannerisms (though we’re told he’s married).  Other minor characters don’t fare as well: Colonel Troutman is little more than a pair of mirrored shades Continue reading CAPSULE: FLOODING WITH LOVE FOR THE KID (2010)

CAPSULE: BATTLE ROYALE [BATORU ROWAIARU] (2000)

 

Recommended

DIRECTED BY:  Kinji Fukasaku

FEATURINGTakeshi “Beat” Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama

PLOT:  Intergenerational relations in Japan have broken down to such an extent that

Still from Battle Royale [Batoru Rotaiaru] (2000)

youngsters are rebelling by committing acts of violence and mass truancy.  The situation has deteriorated so badly that the government reacts by passing the “Battle Royale Act”: each year a randomly selected high school class is sent to an isolated, uninhabited island, fitted with remotely detonated explosive collars, given meager supplies and told to fight to the death.  One must emerge a victor or three days later everyone will die.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  Although I consider Battle Royale to be a “must see” film, it really can’t go on the list.  It’s just not weird.  It’s funny, violent, overblown, disturbing, both operatic and banal, but not weird.

COMMENTS:  My first review of the film was a little flippant and then, quite randomly, I overheard a man say it was the “sickest” film he had ever seen.  He appeared to be quite sincere and I was driven to go back and watch it again, and again, to try and see what he had seen, what had disturbed him so much.

I don’t think that there’s anything in Battle Royale which will upset “366-ers.”  Yes, it is a film filled with images of youngsters killing each other and it would not be unnatural to find that disturbing.  The violence is so over the top, however, that it’s difficult not to be amused at times.  Who would have thought that a saucepan lid could prove to be such an effective weapon in the right hands?  It’s not even a very good saucepan lid.

The controversy surrounding Battle Royale on its release centered on the graphic violence and the age of the participants, but there is no connection between the violence in the film and real life violence involving teenagers.  The high school class that we follow are being forced against their will to participate in a life or death game, and they have been forced to do so by adults: adults who have stooped so far as to rig the game.  Despite having their backs against the wall, some of teenagers behave quite nobly; pleading for peace, setting up Continue reading CAPSULE: BATTLE ROYALE [BATORU ROWAIARU] (2000)

CAPSULE: MEGA PIRANHA (2010)

DIRECTED BY: Eric Forsberg

FEATURING: Paul Logan, , Barry Williams

PLOT: After genetic experiments get out of hand, the US government must battle giant, flying,

Still from Mega Piranha (2010)

exploding, cannibalistic, hermaphroditic, mutant piranhas.

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LISTMega Piranha is absurd and ridiculous enough for a few giggles over a beer or two (or six), but nothing more.

COMMENTS: Juts a small sampling of things I learned from watching Mega Piranha:

  • The State Department doesn’t consider knowledge of Spanish to be a prerequisite for a investigative mission to Venezuela.
  • Knowledge of kickboxing is a prerequisite.
  • People remember who Tiffany was.
  • There are coral reefs along the bottom of South American rivers.
  • Piranhas explode when they contact building materials.
  • Genetic mutations are always favorable.
  • In the navy, you can wear whatever hairstyle you like.
  • Steering a helicopter makes the veins in your neck stand out.
  • Nuclear weapons have no effect on large fish.
  • Piranhas will attack boats, submarines and helicopters because they know there’s meat inside.
  • There’s nothing to eat in the ocean, so sea predators need to attack settlements on the coast.
  • Fat girls can be love interests, but not until the very last scene.

This list could go on indefinitely (feel free to add more observations in the comments).  The point is, Mega Piranha is a self-esteem movie.  No matter your age, intelligence, social status, or education, you can feel superior to the folks involved in this production.  Not that, for a moment, I believe the filmmakers could possibly be as dumb as the script makes them seem.  It’s just that they would obviously rather spend their limited funds on bargain bin piranha CGI and washed-up stars with names that might ring a bell with someone, somewhere, than to waste it on meaningless extras like second drafts and continuity.  Writer/director Eric Forsberg has no illusions (I hope) that he’s creating great art here; he understands it’s not plot but mega piranhas that are the draw, and keeps things moving quickly so he can get to scenes like Special Agent Fitch lying on his back booting away the fish that fly directly into his feet, while in the South American riverside village other (much larger) piranhas are jumping into buildings, either exploding or simply sitting there halfway through the roof, with their dorsal fins wagging in the breeze.  Forsberg does at least one thing smartly: he keeps the camp tone correctly deadpan, resisting the urge to have the players break character and laugh at their own shenanigans.  The lack of winks makes it a much more effective parody: this seriously looks like a script that Michael Bay might have considered, with a few minor script rewrites and a lot more explosions.  So, it’s dumb, but is it dumb fun?  I’ll put it this way: if you’d ever entertain the idea of watching a movie titled Mega Piranha, you’ll probably be satisfied with this offering.  This is the most entertaining movie about mega piranhas, and quite possibly about mega aquatic creatures as a genus, it would be possible to make.

Mega Piranha was a co-production of sorts between The Asylum (makers of microbudget “mockbusters” like Transmorphers intended to rip off box office successes like Transformers) and the SyFy channel (which airs so many made-for-TV losers like Mansquito and Dinsoshark that they probably should rebrand themselves “the Sigh-fi Channel”).  The version that aired on television (also the version available on Netflix streaming as of this date) is PG-rated, at worst.  The “special edition” DVD adds some gratuitous topless shots and naughty words for an R-rated product.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…wilfully preposterous cod B-movie… initially amusing but swiftly outstays its welcome as the piranhas develop the ability to fly like fanged double decker buses and the whole caboodle tries just a bit too hard to be knowing.”–Tim Evans, Sky Movies (contemporaneous)

SATURDAY SHORT: UNCLE JACK (2010)

Jamin Winans, director of the Certified Weird film Ink, was commissioned by Pentax to shoot a short film using only the K-7 HD DSLR camera.  They couldn’t have picked a better person for the job.  Winans thrives on making quality cinema with a minuscule budget. Most everyone agrees, though, that Winans and his team would benefit from better funding for their future projects; they definitely deserve it.

CAPSULE: SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (2010)

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has been promoted onto the List of the 366 Best Weird Movies of All Time.  Comments on this initial review are closed. Please leave any comments about the movie on the official Certified Weird entry.

Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Edgar Wright

FEATURING: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Jason Schwartzman

PLOT: Slacker bassist Scott Pilgrim must defeat seven evil exes in order to win the girl of his dreams.

Still from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:  An alternate reality comedy that at times feels like something Monty Python would have come up with if they’d been raised on video games and graphic novels instead of “The Goon Show” and Oscar Wilde, Scott Pilgrim has substantial cult movie potential.  The movie dispenses with logic scene by fractured scene, but probably its weirdest joke is casting Michael Cera as an action hero.  It’s shiny surface sheen is fascinating, but at heart it’s a conventional coming-of-age tale for the PlayStation set; despite it’s comic leaps of illogic, it’s weird-ish, at best.

COMMENTS:  With its role-playing game quest to defeat seven escalating opponents (right up to the final “boss” battle) and it’s onscreen scoring system (defeated enemies turn into piles of coins as a digital score rises from their corpses), Scott Pilgrim becomes the first film in history to use the video game as a metaphor for growing up.  The movie milks maximum mileage from this conceit: when Scott goes to the bathroom, we watch a pop-up pee meter go from full to empty so we can stay informed on the condition of his bladder.  The viewer is stuffed inside a video game console, treated to constant text updates on the characters’ status.  But even beyond that basic technique, director Edgar Wright piles on the artificiality and stylization whenever an idea crosses his mind: multicolored valentines bloom from young lovers locked lips at first kiss, 1960s Batman-style “KAPOWS!” accompany fight scenes, and when a character’s profanity is bleeped out on the soundtrack a black bar also appears over her mouth.  The bent humor sports a pop-absurdist tone; this is the only movies where a villain sets up a duel to the death by email, then brings his own Bollywood backup singers to the fight.  Sometimes Wright’s choices become overly referential and fall flat, as when one expository scene is announced by the “Seinfeld” theme song, but you have to admire his willingness to try absolutely anything, and there are more hits than misses in the mix.  The film moves almost too fast at times, with dream scenes emerging back into reality with no warning (there’s little difference between the two states anyway), and jarring leaps forward in time.  But Wright embraces the short-attention span aesthetic and makes one of the cornerstones of the film; it’s neither a satirical jab at youth culture nor an unconscious adoption of its rhythms, but a stylistic choice that works in the context of the zeitgeist he’s trying to evoke.  The fast-cut style is also necessary to fit in all the film’s teeming ideas:  Scott Pilgrim is delightfully overstuffed, a real bargain for your matinee dollar.  There are six big, comic fight scenes, multiple romantic subplots and back stories,  a Battle of the Bands, and so many quirky supporting characters you almost need a scorecard to keep up.  Besides everyboy Pilgrim, there’s cool love interest Ramona Flowers (whose shifting dye jobs call to mind Kate Winslett’s Clementine in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), jailbait romantic rival Knives Chow, wisecracking gay roommate Wallace Wells, Scott’s band-mates in the awkwardly named “Sex Bob-omb,” evil exes who’ve become Hollywood action stars or Vegan bass players… and even with that list I’ve still omitted somebody‘s favorite of the dozens of significant characters.  The film is anarchic and ramshackle in spirit, but it’s actually tightly controlled and easy to follow and connect with.  With it’s ADD edits, it’s geeky embrace of everything pop culture and willful ignorance of any other type of culture, and its amiable twenty-somethings who act like John Hughes’ teenagers of an earlier era, Scott Pilgrim suggests either that the onset of adulthood is slipping ever closer to 30, or that the film is aimed at a demographic aged much younger than its protagonists.  I prefer to believe the latter; and, like the aforementioned Mr. Hughes’ film, the movie’s innocence about love and the easy answers about life’s big lessons creates a nostalgic crossover appeal for adults, even if they don’t get every NES video game system reference.

Edgar Wright’s previous two films were cultish genre spoofs: the zombie film parody Shaun of the Dead and the cop burlesque Hot FuzzScott Pilgrim sees Wright stretching his talents with a far more baroque, but equally hilarious, approach.  With Scott Pilgrim Wright’s no longer exaggerating the conventions of an existing genres to ridiculous lengths; he’s inventing an entirely new genre.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“The style is Sega surrealism, the narrative strategy 30% Bunuel and 70% Bally.”–Andy Klein, Brand X Daily (contemporaneous)

RECOMMENDED AS WEIRD: EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE (1973)

AKA Emperor Of The North

DIRECTED BY: Robert Aldrich

FEATURING: Ernest Borgnine, ,

PLOT: A maniac conductor sadistically stalks hobos along his Depression era freight, smashing their skulls with a club hammer when they try to ride the rails.  NO ONE rides his Number 19 train for free.  Evil incarnate, he exists only to hunt men.

Still from Emperor of the North Pole (1973)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: Emperor Of The North Pole may not have the requisite look, feel, or scary music, but it is very much a horror movie.  Instead of the supernatural, the monsters are men.  The killer is no cloaked slasher striking by night, but a crazy-eyed, obsessed railroad man, insane with twisted rage, filled with frothing blood lust, armed with cruel and unusual instruments of punishment.  He gets his kicks by smashing in skulls and he strikes in broad daylight unrestrained, with complete impunity.  This incongruency—a horrifying film that masquerades as a suspense drama by telling an unconventional, real-world story—makes for an unusual viewing experience.  Add larger-than-life archetypal characters; bizarre, colorful monologues; and a deceptively simple plot about a symbolic evil vs. slightly-less-evil struggle, and the result is a riveting, weird movie.

COMMENTS:  Pastoral Oregon locations set an illusory bucolic tone in the opening shots of Emperor Of The North Pole as a steam locomotive winds its way through rural woodlands.  This is Union Pacific’s Number 19 freight, and it has a madman on board.

It is 1933, the depths of the Great Depression, and 1/4 of Americans are unemployed.  Many of them are literally starving to death.  A mobile army of homeless men roams the country looking for temporary work, stealing rides on the rails.  They are nomads who live by no law but their own, and the Railroad Man is dedicated to their destruction.  On the Portland route, that man is Shack (Borgnine), a ruthless conductor who enforces the “paying passengers only” rule with deadly reverence.

Railroads don’t like it when you stow away on board or trespass on their tracks.  Today they employ a battalion of federally licensed, armed railroad detectives to catch you, and these men behave like real bastards when they do.  But in 1933 even the railroads were hard up.  His actions condoned by underfunded, undermanned, corrupt law enforcement, Shack takes the job of controller, making sure that no one rides for free.  Drawing from his own sadistic black book of dirty tricks he patrols his train like a monstrous gargoyle, perpetually on the lookout for bums.

Relentless and Argus-eyed, Shack is a real-life Terminator: he can’t be reasoned with, he can’t be bargained with, he has no mercy to appeal to, he is hard to kill, and he will never, ever stop.  Shack has a savage arsenal of bizarre, creepy weapons at his disposal, but his favorite is the engineer’s heavy, double-headed club mallet.

When Shack, creeping along the speeding 19’s boxcar catwalk, finds a tramp riding on the frame of a hopper car, he sneaks up on the hapless man.  The bum, enjoying a sandwich, is blissfully unaware of the danger.  With a fell swoop of the club hammer, Shack smashes the man’s skull.  His head laid open, dangling between cars, the hobo begs for his life before being sucked under.  In a spectacular, graphic sequence the rail cars’ sharp under-hangs ensnare the tramp and violently wad him up before the heavy wheels slice him in half like a biscuit.

For the Railroad Man, his pension and gold watch are at stake.  For the hobo, it is a matter of survival.  But for both, there is also pride.  Shack is determined the hobos not see him as a free ride.  He is humiliated and taunted when the hobo community marginalizes him by defying his rules.

The hobos hate Shack, but they also want to prove themselves to each other.  To be a master hobo, a skilled man of the road who can survive in style and avoid arrest, is to become “Emperor of the North Pole,” king of the tracks.  The term is cynically self-deprecating.  Penniless, desperate, with no past, no future, no clout and nobody to vouch for them, the hobos perceive that they lead a futile, near meaningless, existence.  Anybody presiding over the North Pole would be emperor of a worthless desert.

In this context, the alpha male tramp of the West Coast hobo “jungle” camps is the admired A-Number One (Marvin).  A#1 is determined to prove himself Emperor Of The North Pole by successfully riding notorious Shack’s Number 19 all the way to Portland.  He is dogged by a swaggering, inept, tag-along, upstart named “Cigaret” (Carradine).  Using numerous tactics to sneak aboard and avoid detection on the 19, A#1 is caught between Shack’s criminal tactics and Cigraret’s malicious recklessness. Despite A#1’s paternal attempts to mentor him, Cigaret continuously betrays A#1 out of a sense of misguided competition.

In trying to derail Shack, A#1 and Cigaret nearly derail the entire train.  To distract and misdirect Shack, A#1 and Cigaret do their best to compromise and professionally ruin him with a series of sidetracking stunts.  But the stunts are not mere jokes.  They are heavy, malicious felonies which endanger the hobos, other trains, and entire crews with imminent bloody death.

While the ‘bo’s believe Shack deserves killin’, their actions justify Shack’s murderous rampage as well.  Like a runaway train, the perverse feud escalates beyond the boundaries of any sensible limits.  The locomotive steams and roars.  The whistle shrieks.  The pistons churn.  The black smoke streams into the sky.  The trio of enraged men highball over the steel rails.  Their murderous plots against each other descend into a maelstrom of frothy, blood-soaked madness.  As they barrel along among the swaying cars of the speeding train, the inflamed trio hurtles toward an ultimate gladiatorial showdown to determine who will be Emperor Of The North Pole.

Writer Christopher Knopf’s deceptively minimalist script was tailor made for Robert Aldrich’s now familiar themes: men in their primal state squaring off against each other, the ultimate confrontation, man against environment, life as arena, life as a game, men and machines.  The characters are simplistic and archetypal, and the space they occupy, like a gladiatorial ring, is very small: the area enclosed by two rails.  The universality of these simple building blocks enabled Knopf to forge an engrossing adventure to which audiences can easily relate.

Knopf considered the political tempo of the times, the populist social attitudes of the downtrodden, the quest for survival, the attitudes of the elites; i.e. the fabric of society and its rules.  He rendered these factors down into a raw story about a conductor who won’t have hobos on his train and the two hobos bent on defying him.  The result is powerful and directly accessible without being dumbed down.

Every shot is carefully assembled as if it will be a still photo submitted for exhibit.  Each frame showing a character is an artistic portrait.  The selection of shots and the way they are edited is expressive and precise.  Additionally, Aldrich used a fine grain film stock which reveals very sharp detail.  The resulting visual impact dramatically emphasizes the action.  This gives everything about the film a larger than life feel, and reinforces the conceit of archetypal characters in an archetypal situation.

Emperor Of The North Pole was re-released on DVD in 2006.  The DVD reflects that the original film print was carefully preserved.  The re-release has dazzling sharp picture quality.

Emperor Of The North Pole was inspired by Jack London’s On The Road and From Coast To Coast. It was shot along the Oregon Pacific and Eastern short line railroad near Cottage Grove, where Stand By Me (1986) was filmed in 1985.  Viewers who see both will recognize the distinctive countryside.  Stand By Me was the last of several motion pictures to be filmed on these tracks.  The first, in 1926, the was The General, Buster Keaton’s famous period piece about a Civil War locomotive chase.

Surviving for over 90 years, the Oregon Pacific and Eastern was constructed in 1901 to bridge Cottage Grove southeast to the Bohemia mining district.  The last train ran the line in the mid 1990s.

The steam locomotive and trains used in the filming of Emperor Of The North Pole were part of the actual working stock of the railroad, still in use in the the 1970’s.  Shack’s Number 19 locomotive featured in the movie is a 1915 Baldwin 2-8-2.  It pulled excursion trains well into the ’70’s along the Oregon Pacific and Eastern (pictured below).


Old #19, Oregon Pacific and Eastern – photograph by John Goldie

Number 19 still runs today, pulling the “Blue Goose” excursion train on the Yreka Western Railroad between Yreka and Montague, California.

The terms “hobos,” “tramps,” and “bums” have been used interchangeably in this recommendation for purposes of convenience.  This is actually not correct usage, as the names have distinctly different meanings.  Here is the rule for remembering them: a bum sits and loafs, a tramp loafs and keeps moving, but a hobo works and moves, and he is clean.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…an unusual, uncompromising and much underrated film.”–Film 4