Saturday, June 23, 2007
Michael Radford does a stunning job adapting this classic tale from George Orwell and this is about all I need to say here. As always with the classics there are pages and pages written on them and one should remember what it is I'm doing here....namely...watching all of my videos and DVD's in random order and getting rid of the bloody things so the apartment floors don't cave in! I will say John Hurt turns in perhaps his greatest performance ever, Richard Burton performs his last, Suzanna Hamilton is fantastic and Annie Lennox is hidden in there somewhere.
Circle of Friends
Pat O'Connor does a fantastic job of bring this Maeve Binchy novel to life on the big screen, intorudcing us to Minnie Driver in the process. Straight forward chick flick as one would expect from Binchy source material follows the early life of three childhood friends in to early adult hood and their problems and concerns as such. Circle of Friends manages to raise above the standard fare simply from the strong performances of Drive, Chris O'Donnell, Alan Cumming (who manages slime ball better than anybody!) and Colin Firth. My largest complaint is with the character Saffron Burrows plays. As one of the main protagonists her role as Nan is nowhere explored properly and while in Binchy's novel you can be sypathetic to her motivations no such clemency is given in the film and you end up despising her. Still, Burrows works well with the role she has and is great to watch as always. I feel I should also point out should you have the chance to see Minnie Driver perform her music in your town under no circumstances miss it. She has a spledid voice and some quickly growing song writing skills making her a fine cut above the standard celebrity touring acts.....check out her CD...you won't regret it!
Saturday, June 16, 2007
The Brotherhood of Satan
What happens when you take a bunch of veteran Western actors and writers, get hoocjed and spooked up and let them loose to make a horror movie? Well, that is what we get here with THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN....a group of gun happy hicks tracking down the evil senior citizens who are turning the youth in to devil worshipers. L.Q. Jones (who also does scripting duty here just as he did with A BOY AND HIS DOG) and Strother Martin are the two faces you will recognize the most no doubt but the cast is seriously wild wild West heavy. Not much to be expected from the 1971 though you may find it useful when trying to cure insomnia.
Assault of the Killer Bimbos
Well, I gots to say the are more jiggles here than in a Jell-O commercial though nowhere as much intelligence. Then again...who shelled out the 20 bucks for the DVD now.....hmmmmmmmmmmm...well, truth is I'll shell out 20 bucks for anything featuring my beloved SCREAM QUEENS and this is where the joy in this film rests. Imagine a bunch of SC's sitting around thinking up ways to make a better version of THELMA & LOUISE....heck...I didn't say they managed to pull it off but they sure as Hell put their best assetts forward and gave it the old Girl Scout try. Most certainly not for all but if a nice throw back to the drive-in jiggle flicks is your bag then have at 'er! No need to ask why Nick Cassavetes and Eddie Deezen are here in minor roles...the big question is where the Hell is Charlie Sheen?
Friday, June 15, 2007
Up for one tight little action film possessing an actual plot and some real characters? Face/Off fills this order in spades! Director John Woo delivers a complex though somewhat unbelievable story with his signature flair and style and as a result gets tow of the finest performances you will ever see out of John Travolta and Nicolas Cage. I say unbelievable because of the whole face switching elelement of the plot and this is understandable as it was meant to be shot in a future setting but for budget reasons was left in present day. There are far more subleties present here than one may be used to in a Hollywood blockbuster and this is solely the result of Woo overseeing the project. Supreme credos also have to be given to the stunt performers here as some serious bumps are had by many. If you are like me and remember this as lessthan satisfying back when it came out, I would strongly urge you to look again....it's far better than anything currently in the theatre!
Godzilla Raids Again
To this day we're still not sure why they changed Godzilla to Gigantis and truth be told it doesn't really matter. In this, the first of many sequels Godzilla returns to wreak even more havok on Japan this time doing battle with the fire monster who we know as Angilis. There is lot's of stock footage, bad dubbing and men in rubber shits destroying the shit out of miniture sets, all in glorious black and white. Simple, ifyou're in to it you're in to it....if not...go watch a Lindsay Lohan flick.
Here we have one of director David Lynch's many masterpieces and like so many classic films I see no point in adding much to the many pages already written about it. It doesn't matter if it offends you or not...it was an important event in American cinema and we'll just leave it at that. What I would like to point out is all of the fuss over this film when TWIN PEAKS finally hit the small screen. Many a folk thought the character of Jeffrey Beaumont actually morphed into Agent Dale Cooper and though Lynch has never commented on let alone confirmed the topic I suspect those thinking this may be right. I suppose it doesn't really matter but there is certainly no denying the similarities between the two. Look for a nice cameo from long time Lynch composer Angelo Badalamenti as the piano player in the night club and pray Frank doesn't send you a love letter or decide to take you for a joy ride.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Scary Movie 4
What the hell can you really write about a SCARY MOVIE film? We all know they are as stupid as can be and that is the bloody point and this one is no exception. Though nowhere on the same level as the first two, this one still delivers the crude over the top content you've come to expect from the franchise. To see Dr. Phil McGraw take the piss out of himself is well worth the price of rental and Carmen Electra is freaking hilarious here. Bill Pulman and Charlie Sheen help out a bit and as always Leslie Nielsen is good for a chuckle. Michael Madsen has a brief cameo and once again you have to wonder if he is in fact acting at all. There you have it....
Although an extremely uneven film this is one well worth keeping your eyes open for. Currently in rotation on BET, with BONES director Ernest R. Dickerson attempts to mesh the elements of the Seventies blackploitation and urban crime films with the rad Eighties slasher horror films and damned if he almost doesn't pull it off. I say almost because he falls just short of the mark with acting that is all over the board, technical flaws which simply should not be there and an overwhelming general sense of the studio or somebody else simply having managed to fuck with the damn thing during editing. All of this aside, BONES is one of those films where, because people have brought their A game, the two hours goes quickly and you walk away surprisingly entertained and satisfied. Snoop Dogg in the lead as Jimmy Bones is fantastic here and Pam Grier as always turns in a fine performance. Bianca Lawson has an orgasmic blood drenched scene I'm quite sure will put the much talked about one in SAW 2 to shame and Canada's own sweetheart Katharine Isabelle turns up though is sadly underused and look for copatriot Erin Wright in a minor role.
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Here is another film where they should have left the original idea alone and let sleeping dogs be. As it is this dog is well awake and bow wow wowing away. in the hands of Luc Besson is half worked.....in the hands of others with Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon in the leads it fails in drastic fashion. There you have it...I watched it for you so you won't have to! How they managed to drag Ann-Margret out for this is still a head scratcher for me though it is neat to see Jeff Gordon in a cameo.
The Upside of Anger
As I have friends who manage cinemas I often kill time between engagements by dropping in a randomly checking out whatever film happens to be starting. Such was the case with THE UPSIDE OF ANGER and though not my cup of tea I must say the women in the audience sure seemed to have a howl with it. So there we have it...Kevin Costner playing yet another baseball based character in a chick flick......take it or leave it.
Ok, on the surface casting Colin Farrell as one of the greatest figures in history may seem a bit tad of a stretch. Oliver Stone has the stones (no pun intended..ok..maybe) to pull this sort of thing off. You'll love it or you'll hate it but if nothing else seeing Chistopher Plummer as Aristotle and Anthony Hopkins as an aged Ptolemy is well worth the price of admission. Then again, the "love scene" between Farrell and Rosario Dawson is a money grabber for sure. Oh, and Angelina Jolie is there so there is some more dollars in the kitty and Vangelis produces some signature scoring work here making it well worth an evening date!
The Manchurian Candidate
Man oh man should they have left this John Frankenheimer classic alone. Denzel Washington does his very best to try and save this mess from Jonathan Demme but shit hell...I don't think even old Frank Sinatra himself could have helped this one. Mind you, if Frank were still alive this film never would have been made but that is another story. It is great to see a film cameo from musician Robyn Hitchcock and brief turn ups from the likes of Roger Corman, Sidney Lumet and Roy Blount Jr......hell....there are shit loads of cameos here and this is the problem with the film...it nabs the paranoid elements just fine but collapses under it's own weight. Granted it had a hell of a lot to do with trying to live up to the original but it does not excuse just how boring this film truly is. The Rachel Portman score is certainly worth picking up but leave this DVD on the shelf.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Wes Anderson is one of those directors who I feel fall under the you either love 'em or hate 'em category. For me, he falls under the "damn this guy is good but for the life of me I can't watch his stuff" category. This would be because the nature of his work makes me squirm in my skin. It's a brand of dark comedy I just can't take as it hits far too close to home for me. I finally forced myself to sit through RUSHMORE...much like I had to do with THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and it was a very unpleasant experience. Is RUSHMORE a good film> Damn straight it is! Wonderful performances from the great Bill Murray and Olivia Williams and an amazing debut for Jason Schwartzman in an all around fabulous production........problem is just what I mentioned...it made me squirm in my skin...even with the happy ending....soooooooooo..I think you should read somebody elses blurb on this one. Look for a cameo from Owen Wilson who also cowrote the screenplay!
The Cat and the Bird
I love lounging about on my bed and staring at the dumpsters out back. While certainly not the most appealing of a view, over time I've discovered "dumpster TV" as I call it to be quite entertaining. Recently, I watched an old tabby cat skulk in predator style hoping to nab one of the feasting sparrows on the ground. Slowly, slowly slowly as a cat will do whilst stalking when out of nowhere a giant ass crow swoops down scaring the living shit out of said tabby. Fur raised and with a straight verticle leap in the air the cat was gone! Very entertaining indeed.
Steve Boyum has directed motocross related work in the past so I imagine this is a contunation on a personal love theme for him hence I'm not going to trash this number. It wasn't made for me...it was made for youngsters who live for this extreme sport and should be treated as such. If you're a fan you will find some outstanding race footage here as Boyum knows what he's doing behind the camera. Cameron Richardson and Sophia Bush are present which might explain how this DVD ended up in my house in the first place but it sure as hell doesn't explain how Robert Patrick ended up in this film....I'm thinking he may be in need of a new agent but hey...that's just my opinion. Oh, and for the chickies there is one of the Carter boys here as well, which one I couldn;t begin to tell you but one of them just the same.
"Let's talk about sex" is the tagline for this baby and this is what they do...talk and talk and talk and talk..it's like...get a fucking hotel room and get on with it already. Oh, there is plenty of this as well in the biopic of sex research pioneer Alfred Kinsey but it's about as stimulating as some sexual education film you might have seen back in grade school. Liam Neeson is fine working with the lovely Laura Linney but the truth is this film is just simply boring. Sure, it delves in to Kinseys justifications of his carnal appetite by means of science but so fucking what...boring is boring. If you are one of those folks who rub there hands in glee when the new PBS schedule arrives then by all means fill your boots...on the other hand I honestly have to say you might find yourself having a hell of a lot more fun with an Amber Lynn film than this stodgy old clunker.
The Filth and the Fury
Having taken a bogus crack at documenting the rise and fall of THE SEX PISTOLS with 1980's THE GREAT ROCK 'N' ROLL SWINDLE, director Julien Temple returns with a far more accurate account in THE FILTH AND THE FURY. For some stupid reason the critics and press trashed this number when it was released and if you've avoided it on their accord then allow me to suggest you run out and buy it right away. Point blank this is not only the best documentary you will find on the Pistols it is a fantastic overview of the late Seventies movement in England and the way he links the rise of the punks to the social economical discord in the U.K. at the time makes this good viewing for those not even interested in the music. I've met on hell of a lot of people in my life and I can say I've NEVER met anybody quite like John Lydon...the old saying what you see is what you get could never be more apt when applied to him. Also, if the big PUNK tour rumoured to hit the road this fall takes place be bloody sure not to miss is as the Pistols are fucking better now than they ever were! Said rumour had them with THE DAMNED and THE STRANGLERS doing a select few dates and let us pray it happens as it would be a freakin' gas! Back to THE FILTH AND THE FURY....plain and simply required viewing.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
lebereen beroemd (Everybody's Famous)
This Dutch film copped an Oscar nom for best foreign picture and this is the problem with EVERYBODY'S FAMOUS....if you don't like foreign films you will absolutely hate this one. Slow and plodding in it's pacing I'm still not sure why it received the Oscar nomination let alone win a bloody slew of other awards. This being said it's not entirely without it's charms. A father kidnaps a famous pop singer to get his own daughter a break in the business....this about sums up thestory with a fairy tale ending. Of note is the performance Thekla Reuten who we will soon see (or has it already gone straight to DVD?!?!?!?!) in HIGHLANDER: THE SOURCE. As I said, not for those who dislike foreign films but a fair enough time waster for those who are.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Not counting his "lost" student film, RESERVOIR DOGS marks the directorial debut of Quentin Tarantino and one hell of a fucking debut it is. To this day I still think it is his best work and to see him direct and star side by side with some of the days best talent is truly amazing. Like many of my blurbs here in blog land regarding classic films I shan't bore you with going on and on with my masturbatory opinions when you can go elsewhere to find similar rantings and ravings. Where I will add my two cents in is on the casting of Edward Bunker as Mr. Blue. A bona fide criminal in the real world he carved himself out a nice little living doing bit work in Hollywood when he was released from prison and good work it is....but where he amazingly comes through is with his novels and if you've never read DOG EAT DOG you must do so quick. He delivers hard boiled action unlike anybody before in the genre and trust me it is not for the squeamish! Sadly we lost him in 2005 which is a drag because I sure as Hell would have liked to have met him. Also of note is Tarantino's choice to use the dry comic Steven Wright as the radio DJ, something about this small bit of casting really helps set the overall tone in this baby. When you hear the dickwads taking a poke at Quentin's work listen if you will but if you are one of the few people to have not yet viewed RESERVOIR DOGS you owe it to yourself to do so!
Some Like It Hot
Billy Wilder had some serious blockbusters under his belt when he decided to trot this 1959 classic on to the silver screen. Often thought of as simply a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe it is in fact a showcase of the Lemmon/Curtis duo and nowhere will you find them in better form. There is little I can add to all that has been written on this film but I will comment on the perceived homosexual elements many still fuss over to this day. I suppose it should be considered inevitable when you have Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag throughout the majority of the picture but this is really only a small part of the whole. The point is this is one seriously sexually charged piece of work and I would have loved to have been around when it was first released to better guage the public response to it. Monroe just oozes here and her scenes with Curtis on the yacht are as steamy as you will ever see in a comedy and her scene with Lemmon in the train bunk is black sexual humor as it's terse best. What it boils down to is who cares if there are homsexual undertones OR overtones, this is a work of comedic genius and should be viewed as such. Note the drunk wanting more "coffee" at the beginning of the film, he is famed character actor Fred Sherman in yet another uncredited role and don;t forget to enjoy George Raft as Spats Colombo, a wonderful bit of casting brilliance for sure!
Sir Ian McKellen Alert
Channel surfing late last night I came across the Much Music Retro segment where they were playing an old Pet Shop Boys video, HEARTBEAT which features Sir Ian playing Nosferatu. Never caught this back in the day and figured I should point it out to all and sunder here as seeing Sir Ian do a little fairy dance in vampire garb is most certainly a sight to behold~!
Tales from the Crypt Presents:Bordello of Blood
Well, let's get this out of the way right now....anything John Kassir is involved with is gonna get both severed thumbs up from me and when it comes to BORDELLO OF BLOOD there will be no exception. Is is a good film? Hell no, downright dreadful in fact, but does it have lots of gratuitous nudity and buckets o' gore? Darn tootin' it does kiddies and when those two are accompanied with Erika Eleniak and Angie Everhart backing a ham boned Dennis Miller at his one line zinger best you know I'll be full throttle on board! Simply put, if this type of silly fare is your bag of bones then you'll have a great time and chances are if you're a fan of John Kassir's Crypt Keeper you've already seen it....so be it....if you're one of those GREAT EXPECTATIONS assholes who want to sit around and pfaw away....well.....we have a machete with your name written all over it.
Those wishing to hear the special message Kassir did for me are welcome to call 416-403-2000.
Those wishing to hear the special message Kassir did for me are welcome to call 416-403-2000.
From director Marc Forster, the man who gave us MONSTER'S BALL and FINDING NEVERLAND comes this taut psychological thriller destined to put some serious shivers up and down your spine. It follows a psychologist played by Ewan McGregor who attempts to help a troubled art student (Ryan Gosling) from taking his own life. While dealing with this, McGregor also has to cope with his future wife's (Naomi Watts who is great as always) previous ventures along the same vein. Making wonderful use of light, glass and architecture, Forster sets one dark, all be it well lit, table for hius characters to eat from all leading to one super heavy ending. The great Bob Hoskins has a small role as does LAW AND ORDER:SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT's B.D. Wong and Janeane Garofalo has one hell of a creepy little cameo as well. Not for all palates for sure, still, a fine meal will be had here by some.
Friday, June 01, 2007
North by Northwest
Often refered to as Hitchcock's greatest hits package NORTH BY NORTHWEST still delivers one hell of a punch almost half a century later. Starring the great Cary Grant as an advertising executive who is mistaken for a secret agent this is still one of the most taut action thrillers you can lay your eyes on. The crop duster plane scene and the Mount Rushmore incident still stand out as benchmarks in the history of American cinema. As always Bernard Herrmann delivers an amazing score to compliment. Fine, fine, fine support from Eva Marie Saint and James Mason, look for young Martin Landau in just his second big screen appearance.
Hell of the Living Dead
Yet another rip off of George A. Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD this 1980 Italian offering sure delivers the gore but is mighty brothy in the other departments. Famed horror director Bruno Mattei who sadly passed away just a little over a week ago due to a brain tumor, throws everything but the kitchen sink in to this baby. I'd go in to the plot details but their honestly don;t seem to be any though there is a lot of nice National Geographic stock footage of dancing natives though for the life of me I've yet to figure out why. Does it matter? Hell friggin' no it don't! This is a zombie film and as we all know it's all about the finger chompin' and there be plenty o' that action here. I must say it's a good damn thing the zombies are in make-up as you'd never be able to tell them apart from the main cast who give performances so wooden they could build a new ark! Credos as always go to GOBLIN who provide yet another fine score for this bit of splatter mayhem.
I have no idea where this neat little piece of trash came from. Interesting little movie within a movie as a small town television reporter stumbles across the work of a serial killer who videotapes his victims as he stalks and kills them. This catches the attention of the host of a syndicated show called AMERICAN CRIME who comes on board to follow the story real time. Whn the small town reporter is herself abducted the plot really kicks in, or should I say is SUPPOSED to kick in as this is where the whole film falls right of the fucking rails. When you put Cary Elwes, Annabella Sciorra, Kip Pardue and Rachel Leigh Cook together you would tend to think something great just might happen but under the inept direction of Dan Mintz what we end up with here is a supreme waste of talent. Not wasted however is the lovely playmate Julie Cialini as one of the stripper victims here. I honestly think she turned in the best performance of all of them. So, while this is a junker for sure, there are some moments which could make this a fair viewing for the die-hards...for the other.....change the channel...fast!
Because of Winn-Dixie
Based on the best selling tweenie novel by Kate DeCamillo this is one fine heart warming film suitable for the entire family. About the daughter of a Baptist minister, convincingly portrayed by AnnaSophia Robb, BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE is a tale about love and discovery and ultimately forgiveness and healing. Whne she find a stray dog tearing apart the local grocery store, a Winn-Dixie where the name of the dog and the title come from, her life undergoes a rapid transformation and this is all I really want to tell you about the story as you will want to see it unfold for yourself. With a fine performance from Jeff Daniels and superb support offered from the likes of Cicely Tyson and Eva Marie Saint this is a bit of a departure from the style of work we've come to expect from director Wayne Wang but this is in no way a bad thing as it is rare to come across a work like this aimed at the young market and still having the guts to deal with the hard issues of life. I guarantee it will prompt some mighty fine kitchen table discussions when finished!
God of Vampires
Just had a quick peek at the advances for this upcoming Rob Fitz film. Keep your eyes open for it later this year because it looks to have some mighty fine splat in it for the gore-hounds out there.
Without a Paddle
When you see a film starring Seth Green and Matthew Lillard you expect to in for a couple of hours of good laughs. Where these laughs are in the supposed comedy is beyond me. Three childhood friends go off in search of a boyhood treasure after the death of a friend and a bunch of mishaps take place. This is all you ever need to know about WITHOUT A PADDLE in this lifetime. Even the great Burt Reynolds can't help surprising clunker for usually dependable director Steven Brill. Avoid as you would a cloud of black flies!
You still have a couple of days to catch this fine updated version of "the Scotish play" being performed by The Upper Canada Repertory Company. Set in the sewers and subway tunnels of a ruined Scotland MACBETH:RELOADED isperformed to a backdrop of music from DEPECHE MODE, NINE INCH NAILS and others. It only runs to tomorrow night at the BERKELEY UPSTAIRS THEATRE, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto, and I highly recommend it to you all.