Film

Some of the Most Unbelievable Films of Arnold Schwarzenneger, In Order of Implausibility

Ted Pillow
Arnold Schwarzenegger (or rather, Douglas Quaid) in an unbelievably improbable situation in Total Recall (1990)

These films open some serious theological and existential cans of worms regarding mortality, morality, reincarnation, middle-age crises, ethics, and other such stuff.

What qualifies me as an Arnold Schwarzenegger expert? I can spell his last name, correctly, on command. Try me.

This list sticks to Arnold’s starring vehicles and action films (or, films that at least have some action in them, like Twins and Kindergarten Cop). The latter is mostly because I wanted to avoid re-watching Junior and Jingle All the Way, but please feel free to debate the plausibility of male pregnancies and intense rivalries with lackluster '90s comedians in the comments section. It also eliminates some of his earlier movies.

 
17. Red Heat (1988)

Arnold plays a Russian cop here, which, unlike many of his films, explains why he sounds like he’s speaking English with ball bearings in his mouth. The rest of this blasé pairing with Jim Belushi is pretty believable too, as long you buy into the standard conventions of generic buddy-cop actioners: widespread destruction of the city, excessive compliance with gender stereotypes, and startlingly poor marksmanship on the part of the bad guys.

 
16. Kindergarten Cop (1990)

Although Arnold becoming a relatively successful and beloved teacher without any formal training is pretty insulting to a perpetually undervalued profession, Kindergarten Cop at least shows that he’s completely overwhelmed, at first. A realistic, modernized retelling of the story would probably have the kindergarten class failing to meet demanding No Child Left Behind standards, forcing the school to shut down, and thus ruining Arnold’s operation before it could even get started. The students would all enroll in charter schools and Arnold would lose his job and apply to grad school. Still, the lack of robots, aliens, or machine-gun duels makes for a disappointingly plausible flick.

 
15. Twins (1988)

This film was devised entirely on the inherent ridiculousness that an obscenely bulging Arnold could possibly be a fraternal twin to the diminutive, seemingly half-formed Danny DeVito. However, they do a relatively believable job of justifying the scenario, as their twindom is the result of a secretive genetic experiment to create a perfect child. Also, even though they aren’t twins, the mere fact that Dennis and Randy Quaid are even brothers vouches pretty well for this movie’s credibility.

 
14. The Running Man (1987)

A TV show that drops convicts into a dangerous battle zone where they’re chased by professional killers to the delight of audiences worldwide? Isn’t this already on Fox’s slate for next fall?

 
13. Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall is the oddest (and, in my opinion, best) film in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s oeuvre, a potent hybrid of grisly action and mind-probing science fiction. The film is very loosely based on a Philip K. Dick story, and very strongly based on the concept of “Let’s put Arnold Schwarzenegger on fucking Mars.” Director Paul Verhoeven (Robocop, Starship Troopers) wisely had the foresight to set the film in the distant future of 2084, because he included a lot of bat-shit crazy elements that (unfortunately) have yet to surface in modern society: vacations that exist only in the mind, slum colonies on Mars, affordable hologram technology, three-breasted hookers, and telepathic stomach mutants.

However, there is the distinct possibility that the entire film is a dream conjured up by Arnold as part of his Rekall vacation – and, by that logic, it could be argued that the film is completely plausible. So, is Arnold really an inter-planetary spy or merely a bored construction worker going through a mid-life crisis? If the answer is the latter, and everything that happens in the film is part of the overly elaborate fantasy that Schwarzenegger has paid for, then you could argue that it is one of the more believable entries in his filmography. Well, except for the part where Mars develops a working atmosphere in, like, 90 seconds – I don’t care if it’s part of his fantasy or not, it’s just freaking ridiculous.

Figures I’ve worked myself into such a tizzy over the film in which Arnold memorably asks, “If I’m not me, who the hell am I?”

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From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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