Volume 41 Number 50

September 12 – September 18, 2007

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Tough turf


CULT FILM "WAAAR-ee-erzzz — come out to PLAAY-ee-ay!" This catchphrase, first spoken in an annoyingly unforgettable singsong (and supposedly improvised) by actor David Patrick Kelly, has infiltrated pop culture to the extent that it’s been sampled or mimicked by musicians from Twisted Sister to the Wu-Tang Clan to the Offspring. If you don’t know — how could you not? — it’s from The Warriors, Walter Hill’s 1979 urban action joyride. Revived this weekend at the Red Vic Movie House (hardly for the first time), The Warriors barely rippled across the radar of most respectable critics at the time (though the New Yorker and the New York Times liked it). Yet it’s grown more beloved and influential than all the prestige releases of 1979 combined (Apocalypse Now possibly aside). I mean, who quotes lines now from Kramer vs. Kramer or Norma Rae?

Based on a 1965 novel by Sol Yurick (very loosely, which he did not appreciate), the film finds nine representatives of Coney Island’s Warriors gang journeying in their scruffy-sexy little leather vests all the way to the Bronx. There, messianic Cyrus (Roger Hill) of the Black Panthers–like, paramilitaristic Gramercy Riffs has called a summit for all 100 New York City gangs. Saying their combined 60,000 soldiers could take over the city against a measly 20,000 cops if they united forces, he bellows, "We got the streets, suckers! Caaaan youuuu diiiiig iiiiitttt?"

Just cuz he can, weasly li’l psycho Luther (Kelly) of the Rogues chooses this moment to assassinate Cyrus. Amid the subsequent pandemonium, Luther pins the blame on the Warriors, whose black leader, Cleon (Dorsey Wright), is promptly lynched. This conveniently leaves the cutest white boy — Andy Gibb–coiffed, clench-jawed Michael Beck as Swan — in charge. He has to get the remaining Warriors, now pursued by every gang and cop around, safely home from "27 miles behind enemy lines." Their breathless all-night journey includes altercations with myriad rival units, all outlandishly outfitted in matching costumes: the Baseball Furies wear pinstripe uniforms and KISS-style makeup; the Punks look more like pop rockers, with overalls and a shaggy-haired boss on roller skates. Other groups look like mimes (now that’s tough), disco funksters, ninjas, and so on. Luther’s guys resemble extras from Scorpio Rising. The Lizzies are, uh, lezzies, though they pretend otherwise to entrap some easily dick-led Warriors.

Movies from the ’70s often seem idly paced now, yet The Warriors moves like greased lightning. There’s nonstop action yet surprisingly not all that much serious violence, save at the beginning and the end. But it didn’t seem that way to most observers in early ’79, when word quickly spread of gang beatdowns and three alleged murders taking place in or outside screenings. (Easy to see why actual gang members flocked to the movie — it flatters them with a fantasy of gang life as unflappable, thrill-a-minute, dark-superhero coolness.)

Naturally, there were also rumors that these reports were fake — drummed up by either the studio or procensorship types to create controversy. In the unlikely case that Paramount was behind it, its strategy certainly backfired, since the studio ended up having to pull ads and some prints and bankroll security at certain theaters. (Nonetheless, the film did pretty well nationwide.)

There were regrettable consequences for other movies too. Their suddenly skittish distributors didn’t do jack to promote two terrific movies now tainted by the gang label: Philip Kaufman’s wonderful The Wanderers, which was more an American Graffiti–style nostalgic flashback than anything else, and Jonathan Kaplan’s Over the Edge, a brilliant suburban-teen-revolt study. Both found their audiences in subsequent nonstop cable airings.

Most Warriors fanatics were dismayed when a director’s cut DVD came out earlier this year that inserted comic book–style freeze-frame graphics and a pretentious prologue. There may be worse indignities to come: Tony Scott, who’s never made a realistic movie in his life, is slated to direct a "more real, less camp" remake using Los Angeles gang members. Can you dig it? Er, no. (Dennis Harvey)


Fri/14–Sat/15, 7:15 and 9:20 p.m. (also Sat/15, 2 and 4 p.m.), $5–$8.50

Red Vic Movie House

1727 Haight, SF

(415) 668-3994


Northern Frights


FESTIVAL REPORT Leave it to me to pack as much violence as possible into my first days at the Toronto International Film Festival. (And that’s with only having seen one entry in the horror-heavy Midnight Madness series.) In Spanish spookfest The Orphanage — featuring a Poltergeist shout-out for Zelda Rubenstein fans — fingers are slammed in doors, limbs are snapped, and a few unfortunate, uh, accidents occur. Jodie Foster goes aggro with a cause in The Brave One, poppin’ pricks with a pistol (and other handy tools). But the standout gross-outs so far are the Coen brothers’ Cormac McCarthy adaptation No Country for Old Men and Dario Argento’s long-awaited final entry in his Three Mothers trilogy, Mother of Tears.

"If this ain’t the mess," reckons No Country‘s Texas sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones), "it’ll do till the mess gets here." The mess, later dubbed a "colossal goatfuck," is indeed a doozy of a rural crime scene, involving gun-shot bodies both fresh and long bloated, a dead dog, a truckload of drugs, much spent ammo, and a missing satchel containing $2 million. Clutching that dough is Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), a ne’er-do-well who soon realizes his windfall will also be his downfall — in the form of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, exquisitely coiffed), a ruthless killer hired to hunt down the cash. No Country for Old Men is certainly the greatest Coen film in a good while — no Tom Hanks joking about waffles here. It’s beautifully shot and edited (aside from a maybe too-extended ending), and while there’s not much dialogue when Ed Tom’s not onscreen, every nugget’s worth waiting for. Bardem is particularly golden, but the whole cast is on point.

And yeah, since I know you wanna know, Mother of Tears is likewise certainly the greatest Argento film in a good while. I’m not saying it’s a perfect film, but it has all the gnarly stuff you expect from the director of Suspiria, Inferno, Phenomena, and Tenebre: over-the-top occult themes, shrill acting (Asia Argento’s the lead, and she turns it out), goth punk gangs of giggling witches, a plot that makes only sporadic sense, Udo Kier (as an exorcist!), a pounding electronic score, and, of course, eye gougings like they’re going out of style. Thank goodness they never will. (Cheryl Eddy)

For more reports from the Toronto International Film festival, go to Pixel Vision at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.

The Guardian Iraq War casualty report (9/10/07)


The Guardian Iraq War casualty report (9/10/07): Gen. David H. Petraeus says the U.S. can reduce troop strength to pre-surge numbers. 9 U.S. soldiers killed today.

Compiled by Paula Connelly

Casualties in Iraq

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American military commander in Iraq told Congress this afternoon that the United States should be able to reduce its troop strength to what it was before the recent increase and that it could be done without jeopardizing the hard-won progress made in Iraq, according to the New York Times.

U.S. military:

9 U.S. soldiers were killed today in and around Baghdad, all but one were killed in vehicle accidents, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. This wave of U.S. military fatalities occurred on the same day that U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and top commander Gen. David Petraeus began a series of appearances before Congress to report on the situation in Iraq since President Bush ordered nearly 30,000 extra troops to Iraq this year.

4,037: Killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq 3/20/03

Source: http://www.icasualties.org/

122 : Died of self-inflicted wounds, according to http://www.icasualties.org/.

For the Department of Defense statistics go to: http://www.defenselink.mil/

For a more detailed list of U.S. Military killed in the War in Iraq go to: www.cnn.com

Iraqi civilians:

654,965 more Iraqis may have died since hostilities began in Iraq in March 2003 than would have been expected under pre-war conditions, according to a Johns Hopkins University study.

: Killed since 3/03

Source: www.thelancet.com

71,510– 78,081: Killed since 1/03

Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.net

For a list of recent events that have resulted in Iraqi casualties, visit :

For first hand accounts of the grave situation in Iraq, visit some of these blogs:

Iraq Military:

30,000?: Killed since 2003

Source: http://www.infoshout.com


200 journalists have been killed since the start of the war in March 2003, according to Reporters Without Borders.


Read a first hand account of how Iraqis are being treated when attempting to enter Jordan on vacation. http://last-of-iraqis.blogspot.com/

Border policies are tightening because one million Iraqi refugees have already fled to Jordan and another one million to Syria. Iraqi refugees who manage to make it out of Iraq still can’t work, have difficulty attending school and are not eligible for health care. Many still need to return to Iraq to escape poverty, according to BBC news.

2.2 million: Iraqis displaced internally

2 million: Iraqis displaced to neighboring states

Incessant violence across much of Iraq’s central and southern regions has forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes every month, presenting the international community with a humanitarian crisis even larger than the upheaval aid agencies had planned for during the 2003 war, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ estimates.

U.S. Military Wounded:

122,000: Wounded since 3/19/03 to 1/6/07

Source: http://www.icasualties.org/

The Guardian cost of Iraq war report (9/10/07): So far, $450 billion for the U.S., $57 billion for California and $1 billion for San Francisco.

Compiled by Paula Connelly

Here is a running total of the cost of the Iraq War to the U.S. taxpayer, provided by the National Priorities Project located in Northampton, Massachusetts. The number is based on Congressional appropriations. Niko Matsakis of Boston, MA and Elias Vlanton of Takoma Park, MD originally created the count in 2003 on costofwar.com. After maintaining it on their own for the first year, they gave it to the National Priorities Project to contribute to their ongoing educational efforts.

To bring the cost of the war home, please note that California has already lost $46 billion and San Francisco has lost $1 billion to the Bush war and his mistakes. In San Francisco alone, the funds used for the war in Iraq could have hired 21,264 additional public school teachers for one year, we could have built 11,048 additional housing units or we could have provided 59,482 students four-year scholarships at public universities. For a further breakdown of the cost of the war to your community, see the NPP website aptly titled “turning data into action.”