Saturday, September 29, 2007
Terry Jones directed this, the most cerebral of all the Monty Python films. Like THE HOLY GRAIL, I'm afraid this will go right over the heads of most younger viewers, that is if they don't have a good solid grounding in religion, history and semi-modern United Kingdom politics. I shan't waste much time writing on this one other than to say it is my favorite, it's great to see the late George Harrison do a cameo and Sue Jones-Davies really should have been a full fledge member of the Python troupe......much like Carol Cleveland should have been...and hey...don't forget to always look on the bright side of life.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Seventh Sign
Cheese anybody? Here is another one of those religion based end of the world creep fests that seem to be a plague all of their own and it just happens to star a very pregnant Demi Moore. I'm not going to blame her nor am I going to blame Jurgen Prochnow...both he and Demi came to work and they did their job. I will blame the damn scripter though.....I've seen better dialogue in the Saturday morning cartoons. Still, THE SEVENTH SIGN does have an interesting premise dealing with the biblical signals to the end of everything and there are a few spooky moments...just not enough to waste your time looking for them.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Inkcasualty does eBay!
I've spent years and thousands of dollars on eBay and the time has arrived for me to stop buying and start selling. Please wander over and check out my items under seller listing "inkcasualty" and hey...if any of the videos I've blurbed here interest you by all means let me know!
Kingdom of Heaven
My old friend C.J. down in Jacksonville, Florida was howling away at me about how much I needed to see this film...so much so she sent a copy of it up to me in a stop smoking care package. I've not yet stopped smoking ( I will!!!!!) but I have watched this film....three times in the last couple of days in fact. As I'm a big fan of Ridley Scott's work (how can you not be) I think the reason I avoided KINGDOM OF HEAVEN was because of the glut of Hollywood ancient epics abounding at the time. Starting with Scott's own GLADIATOR and followed by everything from TROY to ALEXANDER it just seemed to be too much. However, this look at the second crusades and the seige of Jerusalem in my mind is a far cry above the pack. Yes, Orlando Bloom is perhaps too cute for the lead but he does carry himself with an air of strength needed for the role and overall his work is great. Liam Neeson comes and goes far too quickly for my liking but it was the nature of the character. No, the real surprises here are Alexander Siddig and Brendon Gleeson who both turn in some excellent work. Jeremy Irons is, as usual, a sight to behold and believe it or not that is Edward Norton as the leper King Baldwin. Eva Green is also a sight to behold as the romantic lead even if that wasn't the way it went down in the history books. Speaking of which, should you decide to rent or buy this one be sure to grab the double disc set as the second disc has two excellent A&E shows, one on the actual history on which the film is based and another one about how Hollywood alters history for the sake of a good story. Ridley Scott, as always, delivers one mighty battle packed wollop with this one but here, moreso than his other work, is far more mettle as he examines the heart and motivation of man under the banner of religion and ideals. In closing here I must mention Ghassan Massoud, This is his first film and his work as the great Islamic hero Saladin is heart stopping. One of the best bits of casting ever.
Russell Mulcahy made one of my all-time favorite films which was HIGHLANDER. He also made one of the worst films I've ever seen which was HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING. So no doubt you can understand the concerns I had when it was announced he would be in the director's chair for the long awaited big screen debut of this pulp and radio legend. I'm happy to say my fears were unfounded as this was one film that blew my socks off. The idea of Alec Baldwin also concerned me and once again my fears were unfounded as he was perfectly cast in the role. It doesn't hurt that THE SHADOW is a character dear to his own heart and it shows as he looks to be having the time of his life in this film. The plot here is of no import...this is a film of visual stylings and the acting is nowhere as bad as you might expect. Aside from Baldwin we are presented with the talents of the lovely Penelope Ann Miller as Margo Lane and Jone Lone as Shiwan Khan, last descendant of Genghis Khan. Good silly fun stuff taken right from the original Walter B. Gibson written magazines. Sir Ian McKellen and Tim Curry ham it up to the max while Jonathan Winters plays it straight for a change. Just plain wonderful fun and in a sidebar here, the pooch Yinko A.K.A. Mr. Yink was named after Lamont Cranston's former Tibetan handle which was Ying Ko which supposedly means THE SHADOW in Tibetan. For those new here who are not familiar with Mr. Yink, you can use the search on the side to find out more about him. All in all, I can't see how Mulcahy could have done any better here and it's a shame the film going public didn't take to this wonderful little film.
A Life Less Ordinary
Here is what may very well be the first romantic comedy for the thinking man. Danny Boyle and John Hodge did amazing things with SHALLOW GRAVE and TRAINSPOTTING and they continue to do so with A LIFE LESS ORDINARY. Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz literally set the screen on fire with their chemistry here in what is truly a unique twist on the love/hate relationship. I'm not giving any of this plot away just in case you've not bothered to see it, just as I had until some lady forced me to watch it. I was absolutely slack jawed at how wonderful the premise was. The great Ian Holm is here as is Holly Hunter, Delroy Lindo, Ian McNeice, Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub and local man of wonder Mauray Chaykin in a simply magnificent role. Sharply scripted with superb acting make this one not to be missed...and yes...I know I've said that before and perhaps I should get a life instead of sitting around watching films all day but hey...somebody has to do it...and yes...I know there are lots of other people doing it and getting paid to boot but hey...it's my life...far less ordinary...and I'll do with it what I please.
I honestly think this is one of the best horror films ever made. Stephen Kings throws everything into this sucker and with great success I might add. A simple plot with complex undertones, genuine suspense and creep-outs with some great gross-outs thrown in to boot. Mary Lambert, who had great success in the music video business having worked with the likes of Janet Jackson and Madonna has the perfect style for this project and her use of colours and scenic back drops is amazing. The opening scene is one of the best paced I've ever viewed and it set's the tone for the action to follow. Dale Midkiff could have been a touch stronger in my mind but Denise Crosby more than ballances this off. Fred Gwynne would have walked away with the whole show were it not for the amazing performance of Miko Hughes who in his film debut is utterly amazing. King adapted his own novel for this one and it shows...I seriously think this is the best film made of his work...even better than Kubrick's take on THE SHINING.....and hey....with THE RAMONES adding to the soundtrack you just can't lose!
My Cousin Vinny
It always amazes me just how funny Joe Pesci really is. I mean, part of the great success of HOME ALONE (love it or hate it) has to do with Pesci's comedic skills and here in MY COUSIN VINNY he is at his very best. As Vinny Gambini, the lawyer who's never tried a case, Pesci has to go and get his cousin out of one serious legal jam and this is all I want to tell you about the story because it is a half decent one making it more than just a bunch of skits strung together. Marisa Tomei actually won an Oscar for her work here and deservedly so as she it truly fantastic and even Ralph Macchio manages not to suck. Yes, I still have issues with that whole KARATE KID business but that aside...this is one that, if you haven't already, you must see. Sadly, this was Fred Gwynne's last film but if you want to leave a legacy, as he most certainly did, you couldn't leave a better one than the work he did with the Judge Haller character. Homeboy Maury Chaykin has a supporting role as well. Good fast clean fun which we all could use more of.
It was aid Richard Fleischer was sick during the production of RED SONJA, hell, he was almost 70 at the time and for this reason we will forgive him for this smelly stinker.....and yes...it is bad. Fleischer directed some true classics such as SOYLENT GREEN, FANTASTIC VOYAGE, 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, THE JAZZ SINGER, ....the list goes on....so it's sad that RED SONJA was one of his last films. It is not without it's charms mind you..that is if the whole sword fantasy thing is your gig. Schwarzenegger is fine for what he was brough ti n for and Brigitte Nielsen in her screen debut is actually more than able to pull her role off and was a damn good choice for the lead. It's interesting to think of how differently the two ended up. Arnie a respected politician and Brigitte a SURREAL LIFE train wreck. The late Paul Smith is a lot of fun to watch here but sadly they had to have one of those annoying kids along for the ride which makes the whole thing even more grating than it should have been. Let's put it this way....you have X amount of hours in your life...you don't need to waste a couple on this one!
George Stevens walked away with an Oscar for his work on this epic tale of wealth in the good old heart of Texas. I was mentioning in my blurb on STAND BY ME what a waste it was to have lost River Phoenix at such an early age. You can see that here in the case of James Dean who is at his very best here, even better than REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. With Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in the leads you just damn know there will be some fine acting to be had. It's really a shame both have become nothing but fodder for the tabloids of late, hell...they're still writing about Rock annd who he supposedly slept with, because here in GIANT you can see full well why they were considered Hollywood royalty. Besides the big three we also get to see the likes of Sal Mineo, Carroll Baker, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Earl Holliman and the great Rod Taylor. Don't be put off by the fact GIANT is 40 years old.....it still holds up well and is well worth your time.
Stand by Me
Every time I watch this film I can't help but think what a waste is was to have lost River Phoenix at such an early age. He was simply captivating in this adaptation of Stephen King's novella THE BODY and though the main characteris to be Wil Wheaton and Richard Dreyfuss as an adult it is Phoenix who steals the show. Simply put, director Rob Reiner works magic with this tale of the loss of childhood innocence, a theme King works with frequently, and the work he teases from these ten and eleven year old actors is truly amazing. Granted, with the exception of Jerry O'Connell, who makes he debut here, the young cast could already be considered veterans. I've heard a couple of people complain about the authenticity of the characters and their actions for the time period. Being one of those "kids" that King is writing about here I can attest that we were in fact as bad as he makes us out. There is little difference between Maine and Nova Scotia, yes, there is a border between us and the Americans have more guns but we are pretty much the same which is why I can identify so easily with the world King works in. John Cusack has a little cameo here and Kiefer Sutherland, who I'm sure was wrongly arrested for that DUI as I've never seen him, or any other Sutherland for that matter take a drink, is an absolute treat here as a shit ass reprobate. STAND BY ME remains one of those truly special films and let us pray they don't fuck up it's legacy by remaking it as has been recently rumored.
Many of my Irish friends, and there are a lot of them, have some serious problems with this film, one of the biggest being director Jim Sheridan using another city to depict Belfast. I've never been there so I don't have this issue, nor do I profess to understand the problems in Belfast...I'm not so sure anybody really understands them. That aside, THE BOXER is one hell of a depressing drama...so bloody depressing and I had to check twice to make sure Alan Parker didn't direct it. Both Daniel Day-Lewis (who seems to have been in every damn film I've watched in the last while) and Emily Watson (who also seems to have been in every damn film I've watched in the last while) are excellent but the real performance surprise here is Brian Cox. I've always liked him but he usually get's roles that require little of him, here in THE BOXER he has a character he can sink his teeth into and the rewards are great. Again, a good little drama even if on the dark side....by the way...it has very little to do with boxing.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I often wonder if Kevin Smith wakes up in the morning, rolls a spliff and has his coffee and muses on who he will piss off today. In the case of DOGMA he takes one serious whack at religion and I do mean serious. The undertones of the riotous comedy are anything but funny and this is where Smith's genius is in full view. All around great performances here with top drawer writing...you can't go wrong!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Lola rennt (Run Lola Run)
Two words baby.......Franka Potente! Franka....running here and there and looking hotter than the proverbial cat on the hot tin roof! Mind you...it takes a hell of a lot more than that to make a good film and trust me...for those who've not yet experienced this high paced rush of a flick, there is a hell of a lot more. Problem is...I'm not gonna tell you about it. Nope, RUN LOLA RUN is a film you simply have to see for yourself...by far one of the most unique I've ever seen and if the premise is pilfered from somewhere else I've yet to find the origin source. Serious...this is a must see!
I will always have fond memories of this film and you'll be hard pressed to ever see me write something bad about David Cronenberg...well...maybe about M BUTTERFLY but we'll forget about that one. Still..upon recent viewing I was shocked at just how dated SCANNERS is. Sure, it still has one of the best head explosions you'll ever see and the creep out factor is still over the top but there is something about this film that doesn't quite stand the test of time. It may rest in the fact that the future has caught up with his past vision of it...it could be that Stephen Lack is still horrible in the lead or it could be that we've seen this flick ripped off so many times now that we've forgotten where the rip-off begins and the imitation ends. Once again there is the amazing score from Howard Shore and there are no complaints to be had with Cronenberg's directing style...perhaps it is simply the fact SCANNERS is a product of it's time and hence must be viewed as such.
I've laways been surprised Brian Helgeland doesn't get more directorial work in L.A. these days. He followed this gem of a flick up with the highly popular A KNIGHT'S TALE but seems to be stuck in the scripting department. Perhaps he didn't enjoy the headaches of the director's chair. .....who knows....point is..he does great work here as does Mel Gibson. Every little quirk and foible Gibson has is put to perfect use here so much so you actually think he IS Porter. If it wasn't for CONSPIRACY THEORY I'd be tempted to say this is his best work. The support here is nothing to stick your tongue out at either and when you get a boo at Lucy Liu's character you'll flip your lid! I don't wish to say anything more on this one as it's one to be discovered on your own...I will say they all but wasted Deborah Karen Unger's talents here but alas such is the nature of bit roles. Trust me...this one delivers...and hard!
Eight Men Out
John Sayles has had an ecclectic career thus far to say the least. Actor, writer, or director on everything from BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET to PIRANHA to BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN videos...you get the idea...so to see him pull this baseball gem out of his bag of tricks should come as no real surprise. EIGHT MEN OUT looks at the circumstances leading up to the fixing of the 1919 World Series when the Chicago White Sox, fed up with playing for a skin flint owner who nickle and dimed them to distraction, decided to throw key games. It's what one may consider today an all-star cast with the likes of John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, John Mahoney, Charlie Sheen and an amazing spectacle provided by David Strathairn. Though it does provide some interesting character examinations this is predominantly a film for baseball fans, still, the novice may find it entertaining.
Friday, September 21, 2007
OK.....hands up...who here hasn't seen this Ridley Scott sci-fi horror classic at least a dozen times. I thought so. So...what the hell can I write about ALIEN that somebody else hasn't.....not bloody much I imagine other than the alien is fucking cool, the chest buster scene will still blow your mind and shit damn did Sigourney Weaver ever look smokin' hot in that little white top and panty ensemble!!!!!!!! Other than that....a lot of people don't know Eddie Powell, who was an uncredited actor in the alien suit is a stunt vet who has been in the likes of THE PRISONER and a shit load of JAMES BOND films and Helen Horton who provided the voice work for "Mother" has worked on tons of stuff from THE BENNY HILL SHOW to THE BILL. Almost thirty years later and this film looks as though it was released today.
You might come across the little number starring Robert De Niro under the title THE SWAP and if you do I strongly suggest you leave it where you find it. To give you san idea just how bad this film is, De Niro acted from the script from one film and the producers took the footage and turned it into a completely different film. So, as this is only De Niro's third film (1969) and that he had no idea what flick he was acting in there is no sense blaming him and as this is Sybil Danning's second and Lisa Blount and Jennifer Warren's debut there is no sense blaming them either. As a matter of fact...you only have yourself to blame if you bother to sit through this stinker!
Time hase been very kind to this Franc Roddam film. I wasn't all that thrilled with it when it first came out.....other than Jennifer Beals (or a good body double!) running around naked for a while there wasn't much there for me. However, upon recent reviewing I actually found THE BRIDE to be an endearing and touching piece of work. Clancy Brown, as Viktor (the monster) brings a depth to the character not seen in other ventures and the late David Rappaport delivers a mighty fine performance. Sting is take it or leave it and I imagine is really only there for star power or because he had worked with Roddam before on QUADROPHENIA. The reworking of the FRANKENSTEIN theme is an interesting one for sure making THE BRIDE one to check out again.
You know....I honestly think Kevin Costner is the king of sports related movies. I mean, he was perfect in Bull Durham as he was in FOR LOVE OF THE GAME and here he once again manages to catch the proverbial lightning in a bottle. It sure doesn`t hurt to have Cheech Marin, Don Johnson (where have we seen these two?) and Rene Russo along for the ride. Anyway, TIN CUP is just one of those great feel good films and like any film of this nature it shows it's wealth in that you don't have to be a golf fan to enjoy it....it has everything, romance, laughter, tenderness and damn if you might not cry at the ending.
I have no friggin`idea why this Arthur Miller play works so well on the stage and then drags like bloody cooking molasses on the big screen. Everything ``should`` work here as all of the elements are in place, the Academy sure thought it worked as it garnered a couple of Oscar nods but for the life of me this baby puts me right to sleep...not to mention pisses me right the hell off! If I were Daniel Day-Lewis` character I would have thrown Winona Ryder right off of a fucking cliff! Mind you...I think that`s the point of here character and we`ll just leave it at that. In any case, some will enjoy this one and to this day the copy of the play Miller signed for me is one of my prized possessions........on a side note...it was during the filming of THE CRUCIBLE that Day-Lewis met Miller`s daughter who he would later wed......so how can I write truly bad things about it.
When watching this one gets the strong impression PARTNERS FOR A DRUG FREE AMERICA bankrolled the whole project and I strongly warn anybody looking for a comedy here to think twice. WIRED is a very interesting and unique film that takes a long dark look at the tragic life of John Belushi. Larry Peerce presents this as he would one of his television episodes and this is no surprise as he's a TV vet having directing everything from episodes of the original BATMAN series to THE GREEN HORNET. The genius here actually rests in the script Earl Mac Rauch (BUCKAROO BANZAI) provides. WIRED opens with Belushi waking up in the morgue and we are then taken through a history of his life as Bob Woodward researches it for his biography. The premise is unique to say the least and is extremely effective here. Also effective is Michael Chiklis in his big screen debut. I'd actually managed to forget he was the lead and it's amazing to see him deliver such a performance when you consider his work on THE SHIELD and as THE THING in THE FANTASTIC FOUR films .....of which I'm pretty damn sure there won't be another of after the drastic failure of RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER. He nails Belushi bang on, as does the late J. T. Walsh as Woodward. Also right on the mark is Patti D`Arbanville`s portrayal of Cathy Smith. I use to serve Smith when I worked in the pawn shop while I was earning my gemology degree and I gotta tell ya the simularities here a downright fucking spooky. WIRED is by no means a feel good film but it`s well worth hunting down.
Above average wicca craft film with a gaggle of nubiles running about evoking the spirit. Much better than it sounds because of solid directing....mind you...anything with gothy nubiles running about is fine in my books and when said nubiles happen to be Robin Tunnney, Fairuza Balk, Rachel True and Neve Campbell you just know I'm going to be on board. Considering the budget restraints Andrew Fleming was under he does a bang up job delivering a fine little spooky thriller. Well worth a look see!
The Big Lebowski
This is one of those type of films you use as a measuring bar.....in my case..if somebody says they don't like THE BIG LEBOWSKI I don't like them. For all of the great work Jeff Bridges has done I doubt he'll ever top his portrayal of "THE DUDE" and working with John Goodman and Steve Buscemi here is abolutely wonder stuff. Julianne Moore and Tara Reid, more than just being great to look at here bring some serious talent to this already loaded beffet table. But hey...you've seen the film and if you haven't ......well...I don't want to know you. Aside from the supperior scripting and acting look carefully at the brilliant cinematography and hell...who other than the Coen Brothers could get away with throwing a musical number into the mix. Look for FLEA of the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS as a nihilist and Asia Carrera in the porn film clip.....and remember...the Dude abides!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Ready to Rumble
There is nothing funnier than seeing a guy get kicked in the nuts....or so Steven Brill and Brian Robbins would have you believe. This being said, READY TO RUMBLE manages to be a funny film if you happen to enjoy toilet humor...and I do mean toilet humor.....wrestling and people getting kicked in the nuts. The plot, and yes...there is one, revolves around two slackers as portrayed by David Arquette and Scott Caan who set out on a quest to help Jimmy King (Oliver Platt) get his "stolen" title back. Beleive it or not, this story plays out well and the entire crew involved manage to weave in lessons of redemption and morality all in a myriad of people getting kicked in the nuts! Martin Landau all but walks away with the flick via his presentation of Sal Bandini, a retired wrestling who is to train Jimmy King for his upcoming "death match". Joe Pantoliano does an excellent job as the crooked promoter and Rose McGowan manages to grab a few laughs herself. Yet, the real talent on display here is the WCW roster of wrestlers. The whole project was a cross promotion and many great wrestlers are to be found here from Goldberg to Sting to Diamond Dallas Page. Also featured are the sadly departed Bam Bam Bigelow and Curt Hennig who back in his Mr. Perfect days wiped me out in a poker game costing me a few hundred bucks! All in all, good nonsensical fun for those inclined to such things....like people getting kicked in the nuts. Be sure to watch the end credits to see Platt flub a move a punch Macho Man Randy Savage in the face....oh....and more nut kicking.
Well, from the sounds of what I've been writing today my regular readers may be inclined to think I'm in a bad mood. I'm not...what I am doing is sitting here with my balls in a puddle of sweat as some genius turned on the fucking boilers in the middle of our Indian Summer and the apartment is like one of those boxes rich fat people like to spend good money to sit in ...that being said...if any rich people are reading this and want to come over here and spend good money to sit here and sweat and watch bad films I would be more than happy to accomodate you. TRACK 29....what the hell can I say about this film. I hate to trash a Nicolas Roeg project as I enjoy his work.....I think of him as David Lynch for the Seventies. Gary Oldman, Theresa Russell, Christopher Lloyd, Sandra Bernhard.....I love them all.....but in this film?!?!?!?!? Let me put it this way...I've watched this sucker a half a dozen times and if there is a theme here other than midlife crisis and suburban boredom I've yet to find it.....and I ain't gonna waste another couple of hours looking for it. Let me know if you do!
Werewolf of London
Not one of the better offerings from Universal's horror factory. It is notable for having Henry Hull portraying said lycanthrope in some mighty fine Jack Pierce designed make-up and there are some interesting plants to look at and Valerie Hobson is a reserved treat but when a film only and hour and fifteen minutes long manages to bore you, even a die-hard monster buff like myself, you know something is wrong.
Gangs of New York
Martin Scorsese and 10 Oscar nominations for GANGS OF NEW YORK.......what can I say about this film. Well, if it hadn't been for Daniel Day-Lewis it would have sucked! I'm serious and if you look closely you'll see what I'm on about. Leonardo DiCaprio and Cameron Diaz, God love them both, simply don't have the sand to carry a film of this weight and if Bill "The Butcher" Cutting had been played by anybody other than Day-Lewis this baby would have fallen flat on it's face.....so much so it should have been called "DANIEL DAY-LEWIS PLAYS A GUY WHO MIGHT BE A REALLY BAD BASTARD BUT HE LOVES HIS COUNTRY". Don't agree...watch it again...closely.....and you'll see what I mean.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Everybody has one of those favorite films that nobody else seems to have heard of an DUTCH is mine. A fine comedy with a moral message written by John Hughes of SIXTEEN CANDLES and HOME ALONE fame and directed by Peter Faiman who had great success with CROCODILE DUNDEE, DUTCH tells a simple story. A working class man has to go and collect the spoiled rich son of the lady he's seeing. It's a simple premise and one can be forgiven for not expecting much from it. Thing is, DUTCH is played by Ed O'Neill who is by far one of those most underated comedians in Hollywood today. Sure, he gained great fame with MARRIED WITH CHILDREN but he still doesn't seem to get the work and roles he deserves. Here he is simply brilliant and with a top notch script to work with the results are bloody wonderful. Keep your eyes out for this one!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
This is the second film from director James Mangold who is currently receiving a fair amount of praise for his remake of 3:10 TO YUMA. He of course has already had a great deal of success with such films as GIRL INTERUPTED, IDENTITY and WALK THE LINE. Here in COP LAND we get a peek of a style in progress and what a peek it is. For starters, this is a Sylvester Stallone vehicle despite having a stellar cast of heavyweights. When I say heavyweights I'm talking about the likes of Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta and Robert Patrick and this is just the scratching the surface! However, what is of interest here is just how effective Stallone is in the lead...he is perfectly suited for the character he portrays and I might go as far as to say this is his finest work. I won`t give any plot details away as many have not seen this little gem and I`m sure it`s in regular late night rotation. The scripting is fair but it really comes down to the acting and direction. Now if somebody would only release the bits with Debbie Harry in it that were edited out at the last minute!
The Russians Are Coming The Russians Are Coming
Welcome to post #500! Today we will briefly look at this 1966 Norman Jewison classic. The cold war was still in full effect and a Russian sub goes off course and ends up docking off the coast of New England. What folllows is some very dated comedic sketches and some not so dated examples of paranoia and misinformation. I say dated because the humor is of a style that if you were to try and make such a film in North America today it would end up straight on DVD at best. It is simply too slow and far too cerebral for the modern audiences. This being said, Jewison does wonderful work with what could now be considered an all-star cast. Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner, Jonathan Winters, Theodore Bikel, Eva Marie Saint and John Phillip Law who looks so good here he could match any current Hollywood hunk pound for pound. Jewison even brings in Michael J. Pollard for what looks to me to be nothing more than an excuse to film his unique facial expressions. To give you an idea of the subtleness of the humor...one ongoing gag has a drunkard chasing his horse through a field trying to mount to warn others of the Russian invasion. I found it amusing but I'm not so sure others will. Worth a look if you are old enough to get this sort of thing.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Good clean fun from Disney adapted from the Dave Stevens graphic novel. Fair respresentation too except they removed Betti Page based character and replaced her with a sexed down Jennifer Connelly. Still, Bill Campbell does a good job as the Rocketeer with Timothy Dalton playing the evil Hollywood Errol Flynn type Nazi spy. Terry O'Quinn is intersting as Howard Hughes and the overall visuals and pacing are top drawer. Fine Sunday matinee material.
Alan Parker has a knack for turning controversy and misery into high art and once again he does just that with MISSISSIPPI BURNING. Dealing with the issue of racial segragation in the South during the sixties this is one of those films you won't forget easily. Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe bring their talents to full fruition here and the scene where Hackman puts a shit kicking on Brad Dourif should be considered a classic in modern cinema. Strong acting all around including a surprisingly sexy performace from Francis McDormand, under the superb direction of Parker make this mandatory viewing.
Howling II:...Your Sister Is a Werewolf
I wonder if Christopher Lee fired his agent after ending up in this clunker. I mean, the title should tip you off right from the get go but believe me...it in no way shape or form prepares you for just how bad HOWLING II really is. One scene has Lee looking distinguished in he suit and tie in a punk club wearing fucking new wave shades...like something A FLOCK OF SEAGULLS might have wore or what have you. The director, and I use the term slowly, seems to be trying to rip off THE HUNGER rather than the original HOWLING or any other werewolf film for that matter and the special effects are just fucking horrid! Even the lovely Sybil Danning running around naked can't save this howling stinker and believe me, if you ever thought the idea of a lycanthropic orgy might turn you on,,,,after seeing this stink fest you'll never think it again. Just bloody awful!
I won't bother saying much about this modern classic. We all know and love Tim Burton's work but I highly doubt he'll ever make a film as complete and utterly stunning as this one. It's almost as if he threw Sherlock Holmes into Washington Irving's world of SLEEPY HOLLLOW. Johnny Depp once again delivers a world class performance as Ichabod Crane and Christina Ricci is an absolute gem. Fine direction, excellent splat and even though he has no lines to speak of, a stellar performance from Christopher Walken as the headless horseman. Simply put, a fucking brilliant piece of work!
The only complaint I have about PRIMAL FEAR is the title. It really has nothing to do with anything this courtroom murder thriller is all about but that is neither here nor there. What is here is PRIMAL FEAR is one hell of a tight little gripping story, provided by William Diehl who also gave us SHARKY'S MACHINE. Richard Gere excels as the arrogant glory seeking lawyer Martin Vail and Laura Linney matches him pace for pace. Wicked support is given from John Mahoney, Frances McDormand, Alfre Woodward, Andre Braugher and Terry O'Quinn but the real stand-out is Edward Norton. This was his debut on the big screen and his work earned him an Oscar nomination, deservedly so! Gregory Hoblit wields his directing skills to perfection here making PRIMAL FEAR, wrongly titled or not, a must see!
Here is one of those art films you'll either love or hate...in my case...I'm undecided. As a film about 10 people whose lives intersect in the week leading up to a total lunar eclipse I couldn't help but think if Quentin Tarantino was gay and lived in Toronto in the early Nineties this is the type of film he might have made. I've discussed ECLIPSE with the few people I know who have actually seen it and their reactions reflect my own.....mixed. Is the acting bad or just genuine? IS the lack of plot poor writing or challenging art? Is the director just a pervert who likes to hang out in men's clubs or does he actually have a handle on the deeper human element of sexuality. To me, it really doesn't matter. I found using the aspect of the solar eclipse a nice one as within the film is also a documentary of the buzz here leading up to it. I remeber it well and Jeremy Podeswa, who would go on to direct episodes of THE L WORD, NIP/TUCK, SIX FEET UNDER, QUEER AS FOLK and CARNIVALE, captures the feeling well, especially of the gay scen ein Toronto in 1992. It is worth noting the parade footage he used had nothing to do with the eclipse but was from the celebrations of the Toronto Blue Jays winning the world series. In closing, ECLIPSE is well worth a look if you have the time, I'm just not sure what you will take away from it.
This 1989 version of the Marvel Comics character was deemed so bad by the studio as to warrant a direct to video release and this is a cruel injustice. Yes, THE PUNISHER is one hell of a bad film but this rest more in the budget department than anywhere else. For once, Dolph Lundgren is perfectly cast as Frank Castle, the cop who had his family wiped out by the mob and turned to vigilantism for justice. His face, even with black GREASE PAINT applied five o'clock shadow, is perfect, so much so it's as if THE PUNISHER jumped right off of the comic book page and landed on the big screen and there is where THE PUNISHER succeeds despite itself as a film. It is a real live action comic book from start to finsh and should be viewed as such. As director Mark Goldblatt can usually be found in the editing room rather than the helm this film ends up being a lean mean killing machine. With support from Lou Gossett Jr. and the great Jeroen Krabbe and Kim Miyori supplying the baddies THE PUNISHER manages to be good clean violent fun suitable for all ages.
ONLY YOU is about the only film I've ever been happy to have eaten by my VCR. This is not to say it's a bad film. Norman Jewison does a fine job directing Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei but truth be told romantic comedies of this nature are not my thing and if I had been Downey Jr.'s character I would have thrown Tomei's neurotic ass off of a bridge. As it is, may entertain those who are fans of this sort of pap but I say avoid it like genital warts.
I'm a big fan of John McTiernan's film work, as I am of Sean Connery and Lorraine Bracco. Sadly, as visually stunning as MEDICINE MAN is I find it falls flat as a birthday cake baked in Iraq! Connery was reportedly paid ten million for this preachy clunker and though he is as charming as ever his performance is of the mail in variety. Bracco gives it her all here but the script simply does not provide her much to work with. The idea of finding a cure for cancer in the Amazon rain forest is a good one but it comes off as something David Suzuki would have scripted. Worth a look for the camera work for sure but don't expect much from the plot....you do get to see Sean alunch some nice golf balls though.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Here is a work of sheer genius which has to been seen with one's own eyes. It is no doubt a highly autobiographical piece of work from acclaimed Hungarian director Istvan Szabo dealing with several generations of one family during the conflicts in his home region at the turn of the century. For as much praise as Ralph Fiennes has received for other works I doubt you will ever see him as strong as he is here. The mother/daughter tandem of Jennifer Ehle and Rosemary Harris is just one of many great touches Szabo brings to this motion picture and it is interesting to see Fiennes and Rachel Weisz work together here pre THE CONSTANT GARDENER. Deborah Kara Unger delivers both a passionate and cold performance as her character dictates and William Hurt adds an interesting flavor. Still, SUNSHINE comes down to writing and direction and the combination of excellence here makes this a film you will never forget.
OK, never mind the lesbian sex scenes between Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon...sure...they're hot enough to melt your television set but we don't want to dwell on that. No, I wish to dwell on the fact that if somebody told me the Wachowski brothers would shortly after this become the hottest thing in science fiction film making I would have said you were fucking crazy. They of course would follow BOUND up with THE MATRIX trilogy and I would have been wrong and might have even lost a bet involving a gay love scene with Joe Pantoliano...or something along those lines. You get my point....the other point you have to get is BOUND is one seriously smart action thriller. Top notch writing with superb direction and extremely well acted..especially for Tilly! How she portrays Violet is nothing short of stellar and even though the character comes off as dumb as a sack of hammers Tilly's work here is not to be underestimated. Christopher Meloni also truns in a fine performance and I wish we would see him on the big screen more often. The Wachowski boys would carry a lot of the crew on the THE MATRIX films, even using Pantoliano again, and if for no other reason BOUND is required viewing just to see how they were developing their style.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
You have to remember what I'm doing here and that is making space, hence the videos get one last viewing and out the door they go. In the case of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL there is nothing really to be said. Most people reading here will more than likely know this film line for line and we hold it in high and dear esteem. What I can add if my fear it's popularity may not survive. I showed this to a group of teenagers a few years back and they literally sat there yawning, scratching their heads and wondering what the fuss was all about. Sure, the killer bunny and "I fart in your general direction" managed to get a few chuckles but I honestly think the subtleness of the humour was completely lost on them. Is this the nature of Python or is it simply lack of brains. Funny film....not a funny thought.
Here is one of those love/hate type of flicks. I myself completely enjoyed JERRY MAGUIRE...smart, sexy and full of energy and a perfect compromise for a date/chick flick. Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger have wonderful chemistry here and Cuba Gooding Jr. all but steals the film. Cameron Crowe makes all the difference here and had this vehicle been scripted and directed by anybody else it more than likely would have fell flat on it's face. Hat's off to Mrs. Travolta, Kelly Preston for some seriously fine support here. About the only thing I can add to all that has been written on this one is to look closely at the video shown at the bachelor party...it has cameos from Lucy Liu, Ivana Milicevic, Stacey Williams and CSI:MIAMI's Emily Procter. Also, EAGLES front man Glenn Frey has a bit part and credit heavy vocal artist Lynnanne Zager ears her props with an answering machine message! All in all one of the best feel good fillms to be found...now if only one of Maguire's exes would come over and complete me.
Storm of the Century
Well, we could go two ways with this one. When I first watched in on television I thought it was utter crap. When I again watched it on video, I thought it was utter crap with promise. On a third viewing I'm of the mind it is crap that ain't all that bad. As one of the glut of Stephen King made for television mini-series this one at least has an ending that won't make you cringe and want to check the TV out the window. I suppose the hardest part of watching this one for me is A-King has done this character ensemble time and time again and God it's getting boring, and B-the accents are fucking horrible. I mean, worse than BRAVEHEART or ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES. This actors can't figure out if they're in Scotland, Ireland or friggin' London and seeing as I'm from the East Coast it annoyed the bloody hell out of me! Still, what keeps this one moving is two strong performances in particular, one from Colm Feore and the other from Tim Daly. The four hours it takes for the story to unwind is carried fully on their backs and it is because of them that STORM OF THE CENTURY actually does succeed as a compelling drama. Not for all to be sure but certainly better than the majority of the King TV films.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
This directorial debut of Gary Ross is truly an absolute gem. Don Knotts (in his last big screen appearance) is a TV repair man with a twist. With a special remote he sends Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon into the black and white idealistic world of Pleasantville, a TV show based on the classics of the Fifties such as LEAVE IT TO BEAVER and FATHER KNOWS BEST. From there things begin to change as colour is introduced to their black and white world. Maguire is perfectly suited for this type of work and Witherspoon is top notchh here as well. Stunning supporting cast boasts the likes of William H. Macy, J.T. Walsh, Jeff Daniels and Joan Allen. As great as the acting is this really comes down to directing and Ross, who is scripting/producing THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON remake, pulls this one off with flying colours. Look for small parts from BECK's wife Marissa Ribisi, Danny Strong and Jeanine Jackson. Absolutely not to be missed. Sit back and be prepared to be amazed.
A fair enough follow in the popular series regarding the police cyborg. I always find it a hoot to watch Peter Weller dead pan and considering the work he did in NAKED LUNCH it's interesting to see him do an anti-drug spot at the beginning of this video. ROBOCOP 2 is straight ahead sci-fi action all of the way and so far may remain the last feature film to be directed by Irvin Kershner. The great Frank Miller provided some script help here and has a cameo as a chemist. Nancy Allen returns as Murphy/RoboCop's partner with Tom Noonan providing one of the bad guys. As I said, straight ahead standard stuff.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Ink Casualty Museum
For those interested Candy Minx (link to the right) has posted some photos she shot a while back. It will give you a little, and I do mean little, look at my film viewing pad.
Yeah, what am I going to say about one of the greatest films of all time. Charlton Heston was excellent...it deserved the eleven Oscars it received and no...nobody was killed during the famous chariot racing scene and despite the rumors Tommy Lee Jones was not an extra in the crucifixion scene.
It always susrpises me just how many people have never heard of MIAMI BLUES. George Armitage adapted this Charles Willeford novel into one tight and gripping mixture of comedy and crime giving a feeling akin to the work of Elmore Leonard. In fact, any fan of Leonard's work will flip for this flick. Alec Baldwin is perfect as a sociopathic criminal who poses as a cop to pull off his capers. With Fred Ward being the cop he assumes the identity of you just know some wonderful sparks are going to fly. Jennifer Jason Leigh is a standout as the hooker with a heart of gold and does some superior work here. Charles Napier turn in some great support but really this one is carried on Ward and Baldwin`s shoulders. Smart and sexy and most definately not to be missed.
Profondo rosso (Deep Red)
Italian horror master Dario Argento unleashed this nasty bit of business on the world in 1975 and followed it up with what many consider to be his signature work SUSPERIA in 1977. DEEP RED itself is a flawed film but it is important because it is here you can see the trademark stylings of Argento's developing. He does manage to create an chockingly oppressive atmosphere here and is interesting to see David Hemmings work in this genre. He would go on to be in monumental works such as GLADIATOR and GANGS OF NEW YORK. I mentioned DEEP RED was a flawed film, this would be chalked up to the use of GOBLIN for the score. I'm a big fan of their work but it distracts from the scenery on hand and is just simply out of place. DEEP RED is really for die-hard fans of the genre only.
John Badham directs this interesting variation on the buddy cop theme pairing Emilio Estevez and Richard Dreyfuss with mixed results. Like LETHAL WEAPON and BEVERLY HILLS COP, STAKEOUT can't decide if it's a comedy or an action film and it's a shame as it would have worked far better as a straight comedy. Forest Whitaker actually shows he has a sense of humor here as does Dreyfuss who raises the level here in what would have been an otherwise average vehicle. Madeleine Stowe is fine as the romantic interest and Aidin Quinn turns in some nice work as well. Look for Don S. Davis and Elizabeth Bracco in minor roles.
Standard tittie comedy in the vein of PORKY'S or POLICE ACADEMY notable only for having Lolita Davidovich and Penthouse Pet Dominique St. Croix in it.
No Way Out
You know, I'm always on about Kevin Costner's hair in THE BODYGUARD.....oddly enough Coster has the same style in NO WAY OUT and for some reason it doesn't look as bad. Roger Donaldson did a fine job directing this thriller but sadly it looks dated. You need not worry though because NO WAY OUT is scripted to perfection and this baby will keep you on the edge of seat and then blow you away with one hell of a killer ending. The limo scene between Coster and Sean Young will still steam up your television set and as always Gene Hackman and Will Patton are excellent. Look for Iman, better known as Mrs. Bowie, and Joan McMurtrey in minor roles.
Nowhere to Hide
This was Mario Azzopardi's second feature film after leaving THE LITTLEST HOBO and it is here we begin to see his style develop, a style he would later take to shape some of televisions finer sci-fi/horror shows with. NOWHERE TO HIDE is a straight action thriller and is nothing special to write home about toher than it has a woman as the hero. That woman happens to be Amy Madigan who is still doing fine work. Notable Canadian actors Michael Ironside, Maury Chaykin and the late John Colicos are here and a fine score is provided by Brad Fieldel.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
The fan boys let loose in this non-stop assault of toilet humor at it's finest. There is in fact a story here, one I won't bother to go into, but JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK really is just a patchwork of sketches and in-jokes and the results are truly riotous. Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes have no doubt made their millions with these characters and though their brand of funny may not be to the liking of all you have to give them credit. Once again Smith gathers together a who's who of Hollywood to the effect you sometimes feel like you are watching an awards show rather than a movie. The cameos are simply too numerous to list though I must mention Carrie Fisher as a nun and comic book artist Joe Quesda as a pizza delivery guy. All in all good crude fun and you know damn well anything with Eliza Dushku running around in black leather is goonna get my thumbs, and other things, up!
Tommy Lee Jones is one hell of an actor....we all know that...so when I say here he gives the performance of his life...well...you know that's saying something. As biopics go you would be hard pressed to find any better than COBB. Based on the time sports writer Al Stump spent with Cobb leading up to his death this film deal with some extremely complex issues and I shan't ruin the haunting effect this examination of a life will have on you by divulging the plot details. Robert Wuhl, who portays Stump, is perfect for the role and amazingly more than holds his own alongside Jones. Sadly, the real life Stump passed away just shortly after the film's release. Jones craggly faced style is perfectly suited for the lead, he literally IS Ty Cobb. Also of note is the fine directing style of Ron Shelton,. In the Cooperstown hall of fame induction scene, Shelton manages to capture the dementia which was quickly erroding Cobbs grip on reality and the effect is truly brilliant. His beautiful wife Lolita Davidovich does som fine work here as well. As this is in part a baseball film it sure doesn't hurt to have a director who actually played the game, having spent four years in the Baltimore Orioles farm system. I had the pleasure of meeting him briefly when he was here in Toronto shooting WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP and must say he was quite likeable. I say this is a baseball film in part because this is really an examination of a conflicted man's life....a man who just happened to be a ball player, one of the best to ever play the game. Look for cameos from Roger Clemens, Ernie Harwell and Jimmy Buffett as an armless dude and you might even wish to grab the soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal on disc.
Jack Hill is not Late
In my blurb ob DEMENTIA 13 I referred to Jack Hill as "the late". I was happily informed by Mr. Hill that he is indeed not late at all and in fact always on time. I applogise for any problems this may have caused.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
Strange to see director Roger Donaldson venture off into the sci-fi genre considering he usually sticks to straight dramas. Still, SPECIES is a fun little romp and I do mean romp! With Natasha Henstridge, in her screen debut, portraying an alien -human hybrid in search of a mate this film givers her a perfect vehicle to show off her ample talents. A now considerable all-star cast has Ben Kingsley, Michael Madsen, Alfred Molina and Forrest Whitaker on the hunt for Natasha and though some may find they take themselves far to seriously I felt the effect worked quite well. Marg Helgenberger does a great job here in a role not unlike hers on CSI and I often wonder if the film wasnt responsible for her getting that gig. Speaking of gig, H.R. Giger provides the creature design here which only adds to the feelings at times that your are watching a bad ALIEN rip-off. Rip-off or not, it's a fun ride to be enjoyed by all into the genre and be sure to look for Jellybean Benitez of Madonna fame in a DJ cameo.
This is one oddly confusing film...I say oddly because it is based on a Sam Shepard play and his work is usually pretty concise. In a nut shell, this is about a scam involving horse races and blackmail and the guilt felt by threee people later in life. Jeff Bridges and Nick Nolte are quite fine looking alternately respectable and drunken bums. In fact, Nolte looks like he just walked out of the cop shop where that now famous mug shot was taken and straight on to the set. You can barely recognize Sharon Stone here which only helps her lend credence to her character. Albert Finney delivers some of the best lines in the film but looks like he's mailing in his performance. I'm not sure if this was the directors intention or not but everybody looks like they are mailing it in......drunk, tired and uninterested. Everybody except Catherine Keener who brings a unique flavor to the table here. Not to all tastes for sure but will be a feast for some.
Bashing this John Travolta film almost seems to be a national passtime and I'm not entirely sure why. Is the acting as bad as people say? Yes and no. I suppose it would depend on how truly serious Travolta was with the whole project. Granted, he was serious enough about his dream to put this L. Ron Hubbard novel to screen, so much so most of the funding came out of his own pocket and for this alone I think he should be applauded. As for the acting...well..I've seen better work in early DR. WHO. That being said, if one goes into this baby as they would an old sci-fi B flick matinee then there are rewards to be had. Watching Forrest Whitaker as an alien war lord was worth it alone for me and seeing Barry Pepper trying to do a Charlton Heston sure was a hoot. Travolta's wife Kelly Preston is there to look at as is Sabine Karsenti and the special effects are nowhere as bad as people would have you believe. Overall, the film really isn't as bad either, I suppose it comes down to what you're expecting from it.
The first offering from acclaimed director Francis Ford Coppola is interesting to say the least. While working in Ireland with Roger Corman, Coppola was given the go-ahead to shoot his first film, piggy-backing on the set and production Corman already had in place. The great Jack Hill (he of Spider Baby fame!) helped Coppola round out the script and no doubt had a hand in guiding the direction as well. The result was a fine, although not greatly original) little horror mystery well worth taking a look at. No surprises for sure but there is some good work from William Campbell and Patrick Magee and the beautiful Luana Anders. You can certainly see the influence Hitchcock had on the young Coppola and if nothing else entertains you here it is interesting to see Francis cutting his chops.
3000 Miles to Graceland
What is it about the The King that to continues to drive people to dress like Las Vegas rejects? Here we have Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell and a few others dressed like Elvis and robbing a Vegas casino and damn shit does it ever make for some fine entertainment. Strong acting from Courteney Cox sure doesn't hurt the cause either. Fierce action and wonderful dialogue make this an excellent bit of Americana entertainment and the soundtrack is a diverse gem. David Kaye as Jesse is hands down excellent here and the scene with the duel between Costner and the State Trooper, played by Governor Arnie's personal stuntman Peter Kent, is destined to be a classic. Look for Kelly Carlson of NIP/TUCK fame in her screen debut, Jon Lovitz as a sleazy money launderer and be sure not to miss the rolling credits as they are a howl...and can anybody tell me why everytime Christian Slater ends up around Costner he gets shot?!?!?!?!?
Mazes and Monsters
Every great actor has at least one clunker in their past they would just as soon have never had happen and even though Tom Hank;s has had a few I`m pretty sure this damn one is on the top of his list. This made for TV movie deals with the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS fad and scare of the late Seventies/early Eighties. You know the one, "this game is turning our children into monsters" hysteria similar to the dope fiend issues of the Fifties. Directed by the "made for television" movie master Steven Hilliard Stern, who I'm pretty sure is the only known director to have hailed from Timmins, Ontario, the movie itself is standard fare and casting Hanks in the lead as a rolll playing geek is not a stretch. This flick does have a fine cast mind you, providing work for the likes of Peter Donat, Wendy Crewson and Susan Strasberg. The real question is how in hell`s name did Vera Miles and Anne Francis. Much like the KING KONG remake (the 1976 one!) there is an interesting aspect involving the former Twin Towers in New York which in our post 9/11 world will hold some fascination. I suppose Hanks has nothing too bad to be ashamed about with this one....but what about THE MAN WITH ONE RED SHOE?
How to Make an American Quilt
Here is one of those chick flicks with a capital "C" and most red blooded males would do well to avoid it like they would a swift kick to the nuts! Alas, I`m fond of Whitney Otto`s written work so I had to see what the managed to do to her novel. It`s uneven to say the least and oddly enough Winona Ryder looks like a fish out of water here. Of course, she has to hold her own alongside Hollywood heavyweights such as Ellen Burstyn, Anne Bancroft, Jean Simmons, Melinda Dillon and even a true legend in Maya Angelou. Let`s just say there is enough estrogen here to give a five year old boy hot flashes. Still, it is what it is and would most certainly suit a mother daughter night....don`t forget the box of Kleenex.
As much as I enjoy this film I can't help but think of it as nothing more than LETHAL WEAPON set in old Scotland. Mel Gibson certainly delivers the goods both as star and director and Patrick McGoohan is an absolute treasure in the role of King Edward I. The fact Catherine McCormack and Sophie Marceau are here certainly doesn't help. I can well remember back in the day people complaining about the perfect teeth and how clean they were, a valid enough issue I suppose, but it's a fucking film meant to entertain not to be a precise reenactment of the battle for Scotland's freedom. Mind you, I've never bothered to find out if William Wallace had blue eyes or not. Still, if you approach it as you would one of the "cast of thousands" oldies but goodies you will not be disappointed. If nothing else, the scene where Longshanks Sr. pushes junior "war council" out of the tower window makes this a must see!
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Like many I was not looking forward to this film. Paul Thomas Anderson lost me after that MAGNOLIA fiasco and I never look forward to an Adam Sandler film. Thing is, I pretty much end up enjoying everything Sandler does and Anderson goes an entirely different direction with PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE. Sharp writing, wonderful camera work and top notch acting make this one amazingly unique film Sandler is truly amazing in the lead and Emily Watson is phenomenal. Philip Seymour Hoffman has yet another memorable role and Anderson regular Luis Guzman is simply brilliant in his understated part. Not a film for all for sure but one that bears a close look for fans of modern abstract film.
Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II
I must say I like Bruce Pittman's work and under the direction of anybody else HELLO MARY LOU would more than likely have been utter junk. Sure, this is a genre piece and if hooror splat isn't your cup of tea then this won't do a damn thing for you. However, if you're like me and love gratuitous nudity and buckets of blood then this is the film for you. Far above average story has a young girl being possessed by the spirit of the famous Mary Lou which is about all you really need to know about the plot. What you do need to know is this Canadian made film has the feel of the Italian horror flicks making it one hell of a trippy ride. Hell, death by neon is a great thing! Michael Ironside has a small role here but the weight is pretty much carried by the lovely Wendy Lyon who is pretty damn far away from her SAILOR MOON voice work gig! Also, for the true Canadiana geeks out there, look for Glen Gretzky who happens to be the brother of some famous hockey player.....or so I'm told.
The Perfect Furlough
I expected a hell of a lot more from this Tony Curtis/Janet Leigh vehicle. Billed as a comedy it really is just a love drama set on an army base in the Arctic. I didn't laugh once and considering Blake Edwards directed this one that's saying something. There is certainly chemistry between Curtis and Leigh but nothing that make this worth watching. Troy Donahue is here for the snoozefest as well and I think that's about all you'll ever need to know about this one.
Wes Craven really hit the mark with this one. A spoof on the very films he makes his living off of was a stroke of genius from him and with tight writing and fine acting SCREAM delivers both the laughs and, no pun intended, the screams. Drew Barrymore opens the mayhem and has a wonderful death scene here. Courtney Cox, Rose McGowan, Neve Campbell, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard.....it's just a smorgasborg of young Hollywoodians to get slashed up. Craven himslef does a cameo as does Linda Blair and Henry Winkler. Amazingly enough, Craven uses more splat here than he had in years! SCREAM is not to be taken lightly, it's a smart and interesting piece of nastiness.
Don't even bother with the new versions, stick to the tried and true 1956 classic. John Huston , working with a Ray Bradbury adaptation of Herman Melville's legendary novel, directs Gregory Peck to absolute perfection here. I mean, he IS Captain Ahab, much like he IS Atticus Finch. It is always special to watch him work. Orson Welles as Father Mapple is stunning and in an odd twist of fate Peck and Welles would switch roles in a later version of MOBY DICK. Richard Baseheart and Leo Genn more than hold their own along side two giants of the screen and Huston shows his genius in the casting of Friedrich von Ledeber as Queequeg. On a trivial note Agent Scully of the X-FILES would name her dog after this character, yes THAT dog the fans hated so much the producers decided to have it eaten by a giant aligator. The special effects, by today's standards, may make you cringe but for acting and direction you'd be hard pressed to find better.
Certainly not the funniest film I've ever seen but it is important to film history as an early work of many current comedic greats. Starring Bill Murray and Harold Ramis, this spoof on army life features a virtual who's who of the comedy world. John Candy, John Larroquette, Judge Reinhold, Joe Flaherty, Dave Thomas and even bit parts for Dennis Quaid and Bill Paxton. It's standard stuff but above average in the writing department and well worth keeping an eye out for on late night TV....and hey, don;t forget it has Sean Young and P.J. Soles there to look at!
I've always had a problem with non comicbook fan critics reviewing films based on such. This poor film was torn to shreds by the press and wrongfully so. Ben Affleck is bloody perfect in the lead as the blind crime fighter and with Jennifer Garner as Elektra, Colin Farrell as Bullseye you just can't go wrong. Of course, anything with Jennifer Garner running around in tight leather is Acadamy Award material as far as I'm concerned. The only real problem I had with this when it was first released was the casting of Michael Clarke Duncan as the Kingpin. On subsequent viewings though I think the director made the right choice and Duncan excels in the role. Mark Steven Johnson directs this one by the book and even brings in his long time buddy Kevin Smith, perhaps better known as Silent Bob, for a great cameo. Speaking of cameos, Stan Lee of course has one and if you look hard enough you'll see Kane Hodder A.K.A. Jason as a bodyguard. Good clean action fun here and if you've been avoiding it...don't!
The Devil at 4 O'Clock
Here is one odd little film to say the least. A love romance, a redemption and a full out volcanic disaster flick all rolled into one. Director Mervyn LeRoy, who made THE BAD SEED which is one of my great faves, seems like he was out of focus here....perhaps the ol' chairman of the board was meddling in his work. Frank Sinatra is......well...Frank Sinatra though he has some great scenes with Spencer Tracy and the scene where he unknowlingly tries to seduce a blind island girl is amazing to watch. Kerwin Matthews, who we know and love as SINBAD in the 7th voyage is here as is the lovely Barbara Luna and a really cheesy volcano, looking like something from a junior high science fair, blows up real good.
The Shocking Faces of Death 2
Some of us remember the fuss and hooplah when FACES OF DEATH hit the video shelves back in the Eighties. You know, was the electric chair scene real or not etc. etc. etc. ....kind of like what we saw with the alien autopsy film. This is one of the rip-offs, compiling news footage of war casualties, animal maulings, and some South American autopsies and do you really need to know anything more about this one?
Another true story about the mob with lots of what we like the most, sex and drugs and rock and roll and lots of violence. Martin Scorsese sure knows how to deliver these goods and they are in no short supply here. As much has been written and no doubt everybody has seen it I shan't ramble on. I will say Lorraine Bracco is excellent here and it's odd to see her in this role when you think about what she would go on to do in THE SOPRANOS and speaking of The Sopranos, Michael Imperioli's bit part here is a classic! Ray Liotta, who is the star here despite Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci being on board, deliver the performance of a life time here and once again Scorsese shows his brilliant taste in music. Top drawer all of the way!
The Caveman's Valentine
Well, my jury is still out on this one. I wasn't very moved by when it first came out but good friend C.J. listed it as an all-time fave so I thought a closer look might be in order. Let's run this down, it is an interesting premise with a former piano genius going mad and living in a cave in a park. He then, in his madness, has to solve a complex murder case. As I said, the premise is good even if the actual execution is standard. As far as the visual aspects, actress turned director, Kasi Lemmons does an excellent job and the scenery here a wonder to behold, alas we get to the acting and here is where my problems begin. As much of a fan as I am of Samuel L. Jackson I don;t think he should have been cast in the lead. See, even though we have notables such as Colm Feore (who is excellent here by the way!), Ann Magnuson and even Anthony Michael Hall, they blend into the woodwork, they are their characters. In the case of Jackson, you are not watching Romulus Ledbetter, you are watching fucking Samuel L. Jackson and this destroys the film. Don't get me wrong, his acting is great but it's his schtick, the one he's famous for, cursing and swearing and looking all bug eyed and spooking people out. If they had cast somebody else, somebody not as well known, this film would have been a thousand times better in my books. Another pet peeve with Jackson is he's just too damn clean to be a homeless person, a small thing which should have been fixed. All of this being said, if you approach THE CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE as you would a stage play you may find it more enjoyable. As I said, my jury is still out on this one but I will say it is certainly worth a look.
Monday, September 03, 2007
The Running Man
Schwazenegger is at his all time best/worst with the one-liners here in this "adaptation" of Stephen King's novel. It should hardly be called an adaptation as other than the main story concept it is a totally different animal. Directed by Paul Michael Glaser, better know to us as Starsky from STARSKY AND HUTCH, THE RUNNING MAN comes off as a rather high budget TV pilot and in this case works quite well as the movie is about a television show. Maria Conchita Alonso is kind of wasted here as is Yaphet Koto but Glaser sure made damn good use of Jesse "the body" Ventura. Speaking of good use, Richard Dawson does some brilliant work here as an evil "game show" host and his work alone makes this worth a look as does the scene with a game being played with explosive hockey pucks, something sure to appeal to any red blooded Canadian. Overall, good nonsensical fun....what else would you expect from Arnie. Look for cameos from Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa.
Kurt & Courtney
There is something very wrong with this uneven look at the death of Kurt Cobain and I can't quite put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it is the sense the director has an agenda which seems to be taking the piss out of Courtney Love or even worse, simply cashing in on Cobain's tragic end. Either way, this documentary seems to have a mean spirit running through it. While supposedly an objective investigation into the murder conspiracy surrounding Cobain's death it quickly devolves into a full on attack against Love which in my books negates it's purpose. There are some interesting moments here and the footage of cult hero El Duce is worth a look for sure but I still can't get past the fact I kept thinking "why don't you cunts just leave Courtney the fuck alone". If anything, KURT & COURTNEY manages to be yet another cautionary tale of the price for rock & roll stardom.
Sunday, September 02, 2007
The Truth About Charlie
You can usually count on Jonathan Demme to put something good up on the screen and heaven knows he no doubt tried but this remake of CHARADE ends up a bloody mess. I have nothing against Mark Wahlberg but he simply seems like a fish out of water here. There is an interesting plot but when it has to be wrapped up with a speech from Tim Robbins...well..I think you get the picture. Thandie Newton is superb and in truth is the star of the film. Ted Levine plays a psycho, yet again....I'm thinking he needs a new agent....then again...I've been thinking that for a long time now. Move along folks...nothing to see here.
Here is an odd little offering from that period when Hollywood was obsessed with psycho-sexual soft core thrillers...oh wait...it's been like that for years. In any case, what we have here is Drew Barrymore doing the nasty with Tom frikin' Skeritt which for my money puts this in the horror film section. Still, POISON IVY does have a few fine moments and a surprisingly effective performance from Sara Gilbert and a bit role for Leonardo DiCaprio. Worth a look if you have nothing else on your plate.
I growing to love Lee Tamahori`s work more and more every day. Here he`s working with a David Mamet story and what a story it is. No real twists to speak of here, just some interesting character examinations. Anthony Hopkins is his usually brilliant self and amazingly enough Alec Baldwin keeps up with him. Harold Perrineau of recent LOST fame and who I just watched in that ROMEO + JULIET delivers and mighty strong performance as well but the real treat here is Bart the Bear. One of the most famous bears in Hollywood, Bart gives an Oscar worthy show here. Elle Macpherson and LQ Jones provide fine support and look carefully to catch Kelsa Kinsly towards the end. Overall one of the most satisfying films around with truly gorgeous visuals and some mighty fine action, all with a plot to back it up!
Romeo + Juliet
Oh...why bother.......I hated this film and I'm not quite sure why but it might have had something to do with my daughter and her friends watching it over and over and over and over to ooohhhh and aaaahhhhh at Leonardo DiCaprio. To his credit, DiCaprio actually pulls Romeo off just fine and Claire Danes is quite effective as Juliet....but when you have John Leguizamo prancing about as Tybalt...well...you begin to lose me. For the money, director Baz Luhrmann, who would go on to direct MOULIN ROUGE!, does infuse some wonderful visuals here and I'm happy to see kids getting their Shakespeare anyway they can but...well..this one just didn't do it for me.
Friday the 13th Part 5: A New Beginning
I was damn sure I blurbed this one a while back but closer inspection proves me wrong. I probably have four or five copies of this booger and I'm not sure why as it's a bonafide stinker. There are a few good splat scenes and the odd jumper but this is really just one of the more tired in the series with horrid writing and acting to match..though Corey Feldman is good in his cameo at the beginning. As for a new beginning.....nah...same old stuff.
As many football movies there are out there, I guarantee none will move you in the fashion RUDY will. Based on the true story of Rudy Ruettiger, a man supposedly to small to play the game, and his quest to become a member of the Notre Dame squad. Yes, the movie is filled with an assortment of what should be old and tired cliches but here they work like a charm. Sean Astin is perfectly cast here and his work is totally top drawer. Ned Beatty, Charles S. Dutton and the late Jason Miller provide fine support and if you look closely you'll see Vince Vaughn as well as wrestlers Al Snow and Dan Severn. Good heart warming fun for the family.
Well, what do you expect from a movie that has Anne Heche as an expert on anything related to science?!?!??!?!?! Hey, Tommy Lee Jones is his usual grumpy old self, think THE FUGITIVE in the middle of a volcanic holocaust and Don Cheadle is here for some reason and the special effects are mighty perty.....but hey...the science is fucking bad! So is Anne Heche.
Clint Eastwood sure waltzed away from the Oscars with a fistfull of gold for this gnarly number. An uncliched a "western" as you will ever find, Eastwood just shines here as the "retired" killer forced back into action by neccesity. As great as Clint is, he is easily matched by Gene Hackman, and UNFORGIVEN also features some fine work from Morgan Freeman and the late Richard Harris. Even non-western fans will enjoy this one.
No film has managed to capture the narcissistic nature of the Eighties quite like WALL STREET. Michael Douglas walked away with an Oscar for his portrayal of the truly ruthless Gordon Gekko, a man who would no doubt sell his mother's ashes to make a buck. Charlie Sheen is also stunning as the young protege of Gekko and it's great to see him work with his dad Martin. The cast is flushed out with an amazing list of who's who from James Spader to Hal Holbrook and even if the film ain;t your cup of tea there is always Daryl Hannah in a body suit to look at and even BABYLON 5's Andrea Thompson as a hooker. Oliver Stone directs this baby to perfection and if it's been off your radar you'd do well to put it on there soon....before the market crashes.
I won't bother tearing this "avant garde" piece of supposed good film art a new asshole....I'll let somebody else do that. Truth is I've tried to watch this modern black and white psychodrama four bloody times and I fell asleep every friggin' time. So in reality I've never seen the movie and I ain't gonna try and sit through it again and you'd do well to be damn fucking leery before trying to do so yourself.
The Time Machine
Here is one where I fell victim to the critics and bad word of mouth thus avoiding THE TIME MACHINE like the plague. Of course the original is one of my all-time faves and I had no desire to see another high budget total crap remake of a childhood classic. In the case I couldn't have been more wrong. Directed by the great grandson of H.G. Wells this is one hell of a great ride. There are some visual effects here that will truly make your draw drop. The time machine itself is a wonderful update of the one old Rod Taylor used to zip around in and Guy Pierce is simply superb in the lead. With Jeremy Irons as the lead Morlock you just know there will be some good psycho action. Yes, they have toyed with the story somewhat but all in all I believe you will find this one to be a hell of a lot better than you were expecting.