Monday, October 29, 2007
Like many of the films I blurb here this is one seen and respected by almost all. All I will add is I feel this is Spielberg's greatest film, even over SCHINDLER'S LIST, Tom Hanks once again manages to utdo himself which is why I often refer to him as the Jimmy Stewart of our age and the battle scenes are perhaps the most authentic you will ever find. Absolute required viewing despite the disturbing visuals and content matter.
Here is one of those "you either love it or hate it" numbers. I fall somewhere in the middle because this is one of the dark comedies that make me squirm. Top notch acting, clever writing and some excellent music and visuals make it mandatory viewing at least once.
It certainly helps to have been a hormone charged fifteen year old male when this baby came out. Sadly, 25 years later this film looks tired and dated. Oh sure, Nastassia Kinski still comes off as one seriously smokin' hot babe and let's face it, that's what CAT PEOPLE was all about. Hell, I think she made more off of that nude print of her with the boa constrictor that was released at the same time as this than she ever did off of the film! Still, this one has found a place in the history books and is still a hit in the fetish circles. Poor Malcolm McDowell was miscast here but Annette O'Toole and John Heard are more than adequate in their roles. Odd to see funny guys John Larroquette and Ed Begley Jr. here though both turn out to be quite useful. If you approach CAT PEOPLE like a long soft core music video the you'll be more than satisfied and the Giorgio Moroder score still remains strong.
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
Sadly this was the last of the Monty Python films though mind you I doubt they could have come up with anything more offensive than this modern classic. While not as cerebral as their other offerings this is just about one of the most shockingly funny films you will ever find. It's easy to be crude, to do it with brains is the hard part and here they pull it off in spades. Unlike their other films, THE MEANING OF LIFE is one the kids of today will get and trusgt me...it still packs one hell of a serious kick.
My love of THE WHO is no big secret so let me be clear about one thing...QUADROPHENIA is one hell of an amazing film despite being based on THE WHO album. You can take this tale about teen isolation and angst and plunk it smack dab in any post 1950 time frame and it will work. It's almost like Shakespeare for the modern age and the similarites between Jimmy and Hamlet are unmistakable. Phil Daniels, who many know and love from THE EASTENDERS these days is just fucking brilliant as the troubled Jimmy Cooper, a character many young rock & rollers have identified with since Pete Townshend brought him to life. Is the character autobiographical....you bet your sweet ass it is! That this film would be released just as the punk movement was gaining momentum in England is an amazing coincidence as the mod and punk movement were almost one in the same. Then up and coming punk/new wavers STING and TOYAH WILLCOX are here and though uncredited I swear that is Steve Diggle from THE BUZZCOCKS sitting behind Jimmy in the courtroom scene. Tightly directed with a stunning script QUADROPHENIA stands out as the greatest rock film to date, possibly of all time.
Fearless Tiger (Black Pearls)
Here is one that is hard for me to write about in any objective form. For starters, old Uncle Nash provided part of the score and it also employed a hell of a lot of my buddies when they were first starting out in the film business and I guess this is what must be kept in mind.......most here were just getting started including Jalal Mehri Mehri is known with affection as Beiruit's Steven Segal, to me he is known as one hell of a jeweler with a great eye for diamonds who always had time for me when I was working towards my gemology degree. Bad guy extrodinaire Lazar Rockwood.....a good drinking buddy and all around great guy. Monika Scnarre....uh...I don't have anything to do with her but's she's here looking fabulous as always. So is acclaimed wrestling manager Sonny Onoo in is his only film role to date. Sadly this is the last on screen appearance of the lovely Krista Bulmer and let's hope her hiatus ends soon. Back to beginnings, the film does have it's problems but for fans of the martial arts genre there is at least enough action here to keep you entertained and it was made by some mighty fine people.
My man George A. Romero was supposed to direct this back in the day but when the studio decided to turn it into a television product he backed out giving an opening for Tobe Hooper to come in and do his thing. As for a Romero version made for the big screen, it still may happen as talk pops up every couple of years or so. I could easily say skip the film and read the book but there are some moments in this dated little baby you just have to see.....one being when the boy vampire is floating and knocking against the bed room window....next to the devil doll from TRILOGY OF TERROR it is the scariest thing ever made for television. Also worth noting is the stand out performance from veteran character actor Geoffrey Lewis. He's one of those guys always in the background, trust me...you know his face, and it's nice to see him get some feature length time. James Mason all but steals the film from lead man David Soul and it's great to see tv and Star Trek vet Reggie Nalder as the vampire Barlow. Yes, it's dated and yes, it's made for TVand yes, it does stray far from the Stephen King novel but it is still worth a viewing if for nothing more than historical value.
The Witches of Eastwick
In need of a perfect chick flick you can actually watch this Halloween season? This George Miller gem will more than aptly fit the bill. A delightful combination of social commentary, sexuality, some great laughs and a few genuine scares sets THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK in a category all by itself. Not as serious in tone as the John Updike novel on which it is based it does manage to cover a lot of ground in it's two hour running time. Jack Nicholson has to work pretty damn hard to keep up with the power trio of Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon. These three ladies are in seriously top form here and are an absolute delight to behold. Also, one can't forget the knock-out performance given by Veronica Cartwright....she is downright diabolical here. Purists may find it a tad confusing at time...so be it...I think folks expect far too much from Hollywood sometimes...this is what you need it to be...serious, whimsy...you can take your pick...either way it's great fun!
Sunday, October 28, 2007
This is one off my favorite films from David Cronenberg and any fan of Phillip K. Dick's work will love it. Life as a jacked in video game, eXistenZ is yet another of David's explorations of the integration of technology and flesh. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jude Law are perfect for the roles, playing it straight and flat and with about as much emotion as you'd expect from a video world character. Ian Holm and Willem Dafoe offer wonderful support but the real treat here is the script and visuals. Because you are working in an imaginary world anything is possible and Cronenberg uses this to once again blow our minds. Let me put it this way, eXistenZ is not for a hung over Sunday morn......you're gonna need your brains for this baby!
Full Moon High
Larry Cohen has released some pretty bad films in his day but none reach the level of utter crap as FULL MOON HIGH does. Meant to be a comedy, it is about as funny as THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. Sure, it's nice to see Alan Arkin work with his son Adam but it's not enough. I'm pretty sure Alan would just as well forget this film was ever mad, as would Kenneth Mars. Do yourself the service and watch something else.
Friday the 13th Part VII-The New Blood
To say things by this point were getting pretty silly would be a waste of breath...hell...things were getting tired and silly at old Camp Crystal Lake back in part 3. Still, new blood is added here by bringing Kane Hodder on as Jason and this is a good thing. Hodder is by far the best of the Jasons and, if you can say such a thing about an undead homicidal in a hockey mask, he plays the role with great pride. Yet, the idea of a gorl with psychic powers doing battle with the fiend from the lake is just plain silly and even worse is the lack of blood...I mean...this is the point of a Friday the 13th film and THE NEW BLOOD simply does not deliver.
I find it hard to imagine the Paul Verhoeven film is only fifteen years old. I say this because it is already extremely dated. Putting this aside, it still has Sharon Stone in one of her more outstanding performances and her quote on the famous ``flashing the beaver`` scene is on of my all-time faves...."you can see all the way to Nebraska!". Michael Douglas is pretty straight forward here but very effective as the troubled cop on the trail of a murderer. Verhoeven for sure borrows heavily from Hitchcock, as many have, and with a tight little script to work with the results are more than satisfying. The sex scene will strike nobody today as being a big deal and truth be told I couldn't figure out what all of the fuss was about back in the day. George Dzundza is here in one of his very best support roles as is the X-FILES Mitch Pileggi. Jeanne Tripplehorn made her big screen debut with BASIC INSTINCT and adds some serious heat to this psycho sexual chili and if anybody can spot the great Anne Lockhart in the disco scene please let me know as I've never been able to find her.
The Plague Monkeys
This Elliott Halpern documentary is about the very best you will find on ebola and the Congo outbreak. With amazing interviews and stunning footage this one not only entertains, it informs as well as having the potential to scare the living shit out of you. Look for it on HISTORY or DISCOVERY.
The People Under the Stairs
When Cnady Minx first set this blogging thing up for me she warned there would be time where I wouldn't feel like writing on it. I guess the last week has been one of those times. No worries, I'm back with all kinds of bad films to fill you in on starting with this Wes Craven clunker. THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS reminds me of TWIN PEAKS in a Halloween fun house. Part of this has to do with Wendy Robie and Everett McGill being in the leads here in an off-shot and no doubt nod by Craven to their roles on TWIN PEAKS. The action revolves around and inbred family who own a funeral home and a house that has more hidden passage ways than a Taliban rat hole. Poor Ving Rhames and some obnoxious kid get stuck in said house and that is about all you need to know. By no means a good film it is still worth a look for the performances of Robie and McGill and it sure wouldn`t hurt to have a bottle of something strong to make this go down a little easier. No real scares to peak of but some OK splat and some serious laughs.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Return of the Living Dead III
Well, other than some seriously cool splat...and let's face it, this is all RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III is supposed to be about, this film has a wicked secret weapon....Melinda Clarke. In some ways you could almost pretend her character here in ROTLD III was somehow brought back to life and became Lady Heather in the CSI Vegas series. I mean, we have Clarke running around sticking pins and glass into her delicious body and chewing on peoples heads....add a bit of leather and I don't know about you but it sure as shit gets me worked up. Still, were it not for her work here this would have been utter crap....some people have tried to say the script eludes to the Gen X angst and our use of self mutilation as a form of release..which strikes me as utter bullshit...the script...what little there is...has these elements only to allow Melinda Clarke to stick pins and glass into her body and run around chewing on heads....oh...I already mentioned that...nevermind.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
You often don't expect a sequel to live up to it's original and this is the case with this follow up to ANALYZE THIS. Still, Billy Crystal has his moments here but the real tour de force is Robert De Niro. He looks like he's having a blast here and some of his singing scenes are truly side splitting. Not much in the story department but what do expect from an ensemble comedy. Lisa Kudrow is no surprise here as I always thought she was the most talented of the FRIENDS bunch and this sadly was Joe Viterelli's last film. All in all you could do worse than this one but it's still worth a late night viewing just for De Niro's antics.
Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Looking for a great little number to show the whole family this Halloween? Look no forward. I'm not sure how this ended up in my DVD pile but I'm sure glad it did. The whole WALLACE & GROMIT craze slipped completely under my radar but I can certainly now see what all the fuss is about. Good, clean clever imaginative fun this film, featuring the vocal talents of Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter, this one will delight both old and young. The claymation is top drawer and it's a sad statement when a claymated film comes up with one of the strongest scripts I've seen in a while. Even if you don't have kids in this house this one is well worth the rental fee.
Haute tension (High Tension)
Holy shit! Sometimes I have a great knack for sticking my head up my ass and such was the case here. I remeber when this hit one of our festivals as SWITCHBLADE ROMANCE and sadly I missed it. Then, without making the connection, I was given the DVD under the title of HIGH TENSION and watched it for about ten minutes before turning it off.......my bad. You looking for an old fashioned no appologies, no holds barred slice 'em and dice 'em splatter fest...then this baby is for you. After that mentioned ten minutes it doesn't take long for this sucker to get rolling and when it does prepare yourself for a throat grabbing intestine churning roller coaster the likes you haven't seen since the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE or LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. In fact, when Wes Craven saw this baby he hand picked director Alexandre Aja to direct the remake of THE HILLS HAVE EYES, a bloody wise move in my opinion! Run, don't walk to find this modern gem of terror.
Here is one of Mr. Yink's favorite films of late. I seriously cannot watch this without the poor little bugger having an absolute barking fit. Disney has had great success with their dog related movies but this in my mind is one of their best. Inspired by a true story, the Antarctic scenery here will absolutely blow your mind and the tale of the sled dogs left behind when their explorer owners are forced to abandon them is one guaranteed to bring a tear to even the most jaded of souls. One for the older kids though I caution parents thinking of showing this to the really young as it will disturb them greatly.
I'm not sure this Mark Lester film even made it to the theatre and nor should it have. Lester brought us the cult classic CLASS OF 1984 and he knows how to make a film. He must have had some money here because he managed to snatch rap star COOLIO for one of the lead roles as well as Alex McArthur. Daniel Baldwin takes the lead opposite Jenya Lano. When it comes to Baldwins I often wonder if the United States include them in their G.N.P. numbers. Anyway, the story is a neat one, three ex cons kidnap a famous B-movie actress and force her to do an on-line porn show which nets almost 14 million. There are all kinds of neat twists and turns and enough here to make this one owrth hunting down. Sadly, the direction is poor and the acting isn't much better but the script is unique enough to warrant at least one viewing.
Lik wong (Riki-Oh:The Story of Ricky)
I'm sure Ngai Kai Lam's mom must be really proud of her boy. Here is a film that simply must be seen to believed. Bad dubbed dialogue, bad martial arts and horrid special effects make this gore fest required viewing. I'm serious, this is one of the goriest films you will ever see, hell, there is one shot where a guy tries to strangle Ricky with his intestines. Great good clean fun!
OK...I'll admit it...at times I felt like I was watching a Whitney Houston video rather than a super hero movie but you know damn well anything with Halle Berry running around in a tight, skimpy leather suit with a whip is deserving of an Oscar in my opinion. Still, CATWOMAN was received at the box office about as well and an unattended box of kitty litter and it's easy to see why. It's a bona fide stinker! I still managed to have fun with it and watching Sharon Stone camp it up is always a hoot. For those of you wanting something serious, avoid this as you would a cat's tail under the rocking chair, for those light of heart CATWOMAN can be a blast!
A common complaint about comedies, hell...movies in general, is how they put all of the good bits in the trailer. I saw the previews for NACHO LIBRE and to me it looked like this Jack Black flick was going to be a riot. Well, maybe it`s just me, but I found NACHO LIBRE to be about as funny as brain cancer. I`m serious! Boring, boring, boring with maybe one funny bit. Just frigginè awful!
I've seen some pretty stupid films in my time but this one by far takes the cake. A monster lives in the closet, eats some dude's dad while a mother played by Lucy Lawless (the only good thing about this film) waxes psychotic, said boy grows up, goes back to deal with the thing in the closet and the ghost of mom. Turst me, you have better things to do with 90 minutes of your life.
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Come on down and watch the beautiful people try and kill each other. This is one of mindless little action comedies, heavy on the action damn near null and void on the comedy. Some women's rights activists have howled about this one...I can see their point...kind of..I rather think people should lighten up and take things in their proper context. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie present some serious sexual chemistry here and it in no way shapre of form surprises me they hooked up. I had a lot of fun with this one, if you approach it with no expectations you might too.
Tired and stale sports flick with kiddies. I really expected a bit more from Martin Lawrence in this one. It has a nice moral angle on the importance of staying humble and isn't a totally bad choice for the rug rats but really....you can do a lot better.
I Dismember Mama
Well.....about all you really need to know about this painfully boring thriller is is was directed by Paul Leder who is this father of acclaimed director Mimi Leder. It also has a young Geri Reischl who would go on to play Jan Brady in THE BRADY BUNCH HOUR for a few episodes.....other than these little notes this is one clunker best left alone.
I had to roll my eyes when I came across this one in my video pile. Ethan Hawke does HAMLET...riiiiiiiiiight! I'm sure this was one of my daughter's that somehow found it's way into my stash so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered this was one hell oof a great adaptation. Michael Almereyda, the man who brought us TWISTER and ALIENS actually does a stunning job in the modern day presentation and he could have renamed it SEX, LIES AND SHAKESPEARE. As many of you know, I'm not a big fan of this trend of modernizing the big W's plays but in this case it works like a charm. Hawke is perfect as the brooding HAMLET and with an all-star supporting cast including Kyle MacLachlan, Sam Shepard and Bill Murray, who looks likes he's about to crack a joke at any second, this is one well worth a look.....far better than the Mel Gibson version if nothing else.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
I'm not going to knock anything my man Elmore Leonard is involved with but when it comes to JACKIE BROWN I have to say I liked the book one hell of a lot better. RUM PUNCH was dark and gritty with that fun undertone Leonard has become so famous for. As great as this ensemble cast in Tarantino's film is there just seems to be something missing. Again, I'm not knocking it....it just didn't float my boat.....it might float yours.
Hellraiser III:Hell onEarth
I went to see an advance screening of this back in 1992 and man was I excited. I ended up walking out half way through. As far as having anything to do with the Clive Barker created universe...well...there are cenobites in it...that's where it ends. Now fifteen some odd years later I can't say I feel much different. The script is simply inept though ditector Anthony Hickox does the best he can in his first big budget project. Seems he spent a good chunk of that money rounding up as many cult status actresses and porn stars as he could find...which wasn't many mind you but it is worth noting Sharon Hill, Angela Thomas and Flame are here on display. As for the splat...there is more than enough of that to satisfy the die-hards which is about all HELLRAISER III is...a simple gore fest. You can take it or leave it...whatever your pleasure.
Is there any point trying to trash the script of this technologically mind blowing piece of cinematography? I thing not.....really...when it comes to TWISTER I have five words for you...."flying cows baby....flying cows". Does anything more really need to be said?
The Blair Witch Project
Where do I begin with this modern masterpiece of horror? Well, I make no appologies for being a fan...in fact, my signed poster which the writer/director's gave me hangs in the hall way beside me as I write this! The amount of Blair Witch swag I have is stunning, touques, back packs, flasks, jacket, tin cup, even Blair Witch elastic bands and balloons...about the only thing missing is B.W. boxers! This of course has nothing to do with the film itself. Some have said it's the most boring and nauseating (because of the hand held camera work) thing they've ever seen. Doesn;t bloody matter, they are in the minority who simply "didn't get it". This was a cultural phenomena, the likes I may never see again in my lifetime. The point is, this is experimental film making based on the psychology of fear 101. The actors are not acting..period...they had no idea what they were getting themselves into and the results are terrifying. I enjoy the effects laden shockers as much as anybody but what Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick creating here will scare your socks off if you let your mind run with it. Eight years alter it will still do this and I highly think you should have another look at this monster for Halloween, mind you, you may not thank me later.
Yes, I did get up off of the couch in the last week, many times in fact. Did you really think I`d let poor Mr. Yink do his business in the corner? So, I have quite a few film to bring you up to speed on. This Australian gem which features a young Toni Collette and the music of ABBA simply must be seen to be believed. I had her sign my video of this years ago and I must say it is amazing when you look at her here as Muriel and then look at her now as...well....anything she happens to grace! The story is a basic one of the ugly duckling making good only with a down under twist and why the hell they decided to try and market this as a comedy here is beyond me. Oh sure, there are some funny elements but truth be told this is one seriously dark and heavy film. Perhaps there is some form of Aussie humor I`m missing but I strongly doubt it. Muriel`s world is one of cruelty, oppresion, confusion and pain and in the context of this flick...none of these elements can be found funny. The use of ABBA as a back drop is a curious stroke of genius and if nothing else MURIEL`S WEDDING is a showcase of the budding talents of Collette. Well worth tracking down at your local DVD shop.
Another I caught from the couch and another I didn`t like all that much when it was first released. However this time around I found it rather entertaining but still had the sense I`d seen all of this before. Edward Norton does double duty here being both a gimp and a baddie ala Kevin Spacey in THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Robert De Niro is...well... De Niro...we`ve seen all of this before and Marlon Brando.....well....he looks like he still thought he was on the set of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU.....I`m serious...he does. Mind you, this is the only time he and De Niro would work together and no doubt Norton was in absolute awe (and righteously so!) to have been working alongside the two of them. There are some interestin technical aspects to the film but it really is a bit on the slow and stale side which surprised me as Frank Oz directed this baby, with some uncredited help from De Niro himself. Worth a look on a slow night, otherwise there are better things to spend your time on.
When this first came out I thought it sucked! I mean that...I didn't like the book and I thought the film was even worse. Now, one must be aware I was a great admirer of Carl Sagan's work...damn...I almost got arrested trying to see one of his lectures but that is a different story for another day. His work on COSMOS, BROCA'S BRAIN....this was the Sagan I knew and loved....so when he ventured into fiction it was a bit of a stratch for me. All of that being said, when I caught CONTACT again during my couch trip last week I was surprised to find out just how engaging the story really is and I must go and have another look at the book as a result of it. The story is simple on the surface, we discover a beacon from space that has the instructions to build a machine which will allow us to travel to the Vega system. The subplot is far more complex, so much so the film can barely touch upon all of the issues raised in Sagan's book. Here is where I will stop as far as the stroy goes.....as always I will let you discover it for yourself. What I will say is once again Robert Zemeckis delivers the good and I will also mention you should not let the fact Jodie Foster is in the lead scare you away. She more than carries her weight here, something I failed to notice the first time I watched. There is a serious support cast to back her up and like the story I'll let you have the fun of seeing them for yourself though a mention must be made of John Hurt who yet again brings a stunning character to the mix. This is one that if you give it the time needed will have you thinking far after the film has ended.
Field of Dreams
So, once again while being a bump on the couch preparing to meet my maker it was a case of give me the remote, a crate of Kleenex, my drugs and a pot of tea, Mr. Yink can do his business on my copy of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 for all I care and it doesn't matter if you're banging at the door to tell me the place is burning down ....I ain't gittin' up! This might explain why I've ended up watching FIELD OF DREAMS damn near a dozen times in the last week.....enjoying it every single time. It's a film I have already seen at least a dozen times over the years and oddly enough I've never read the book. I've read, again-at least a dozen, other book by W.P. Kinsella, I've met the man and as far as I know once almost had the chance to go fishing with him but I've never read SHOELESS JOE, something I must rectify someday soon. Anyway, those of you who know me or read my blog on a regular basis know my love of baseball, hence, baseball movies touch a soft spot in my heart and as they go FIELD OF DREAMS ranks right up there with the very best of them. For the one or two people on the planet who've never seen this film I won't go into the story though even you know what it's about. It's about middle age and unfullfilled expectations, once again, baseball is just the back drop. Once again, Kevin Costner is in top form but the true show stopper here is James Earl Jones as the retired and jaded writer Terence Mann. For all of the work Jone shas done I don't think you will find anything better than what he brings to the plate here. Ray Liotta is surprisingly reserved as Joe Jackson but a real treat is Burt Lancaster as the elder Moonlight Graham in what would be his final big screen role. There is just so much going on in this film. The subplot involving Mann is based on Kinsella's real life adventures with J.D. Salinger, the stories of the old time ball players are true and the pathos of midlife dreams even more so. Again, for those one or two of you on the planet yet to see it...you owe yourself to do so and in closing it is worth noting that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras in the Fenway Park scenes!
Bruce Springsteen Live in Toronto
Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It's been a week since my last posting and I've been bad.....bad as in on my friggin' death bed being ravished by this virus which was created by our Father above as were all things on this green earth...or something like that. In truth, the cold medicine and horse pills I've been taking to fight this sinus infection have knocked me on my ass far worse than any I've encountered in the past, which might explain why my thoughts on the Springsteen show Monday night are limited to, "damn, not much of a stage, why the hell is he an hour late getting started, what bloody song is this, who are all of these people screaming "Bruuuuuuuuce", what am I doing here, I think I'm going back to the Platinum Lounge to drink some more "cheap beer" and ummmmm...where the fuck am I?!?!?!?!".
In all fairness I've never been a big Springsteen fan. He's always struck me as an artist for those who are not music fans....but I'll give them credit..they came out for a party and party they did and if I hadn't been running around with the Goodyear blimp floating around in my head I'm sure I would have joined right on in.
In all fairness I've never been a big Springsteen fan. He's always struck me as an artist for those who are not music fans....but I'll give them credit..they came out for a party and party they did and if I hadn't been running around with the Goodyear blimp floating around in my head I'm sure I would have joined right on in.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
The Hunt for Red October
Another from the HISTORY station while in a cold drug induced haze. Of course I've seen it many times as I'm sure you have as well. It helps to have a head full of drugs because if you actually stop to think about the script they've managed to distill from Tom Clancy's far more intricate tome you'll realize it's about as believable as the Loch Ness monster. Still, I enjoy a John McTiernan film as I do the work of Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. Take this one for what it is, a good thriller about a sub and leave your brains to the cold drugs and you'll be just fine.
Monday, October 08, 2007
You know a cold has taken it's hold when you are too lazy to get up and change the video or the DVD and just sit there flicking the remote til you come across something to placate your misery with. Such was the scene last night when despite the copious amounts of Contact-C night time and CSI Vegas marathon so I suppose it was apt I should stumble across OUTBREAK. This Wolfgang Petersen flop was considered by many at the time to be a hasty cash in on Richard Preston's blockbuster docunovel THE HOT ZONE. Hard to say why it was recieved so poorly as it's not a bad little film, yes, slightly contrived but you can only do so much with a topic like a hanta virus crisis in two hours. The star power is certainly there with Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo being backed by the likes of Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Donald Sutherland. THe point about outbreak is it could happen and no doubt the military response to it would be quite similar to what is presented here. It looks as if it's running on HISTORY all month so you may wish to keep your eyes out for it.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Alexander Keith and Murphy's Law
Here it is, October 5th again already. This marks yet another birthday for R.W. Brother Alexander Keith, I've lost count of which one though I'm sure somebody will remind me, and a first birthday for Ink Casualty here on Blogspot! Tonight's festivities will, as per usual, be held at my local Irish pub Murphy's Law. What will not be usual is my good friend Tino is no longer head chef. As is the way of life, management decided to move his needed talents to another Toronto location, THE POUR HOUSE, so we will all be in the hands of Shayne who has been chomping at the bit to take over the helm. Standard down home fare is the menu tonight....a starter of snow crab & sweet corn chowder, followed by fresh boiled lobster with Peggy's Cove blueberry crumble and of course many pints of Alexander's finest. Sadly, my dear friend Christian will not be joining me this year as he had to go and get a "life" and find a "real" date or something. Silly boy!.........and Candy Minx doesn't pick up her damn phone so she will no doubt miss out on the festivites as well. There you have it folk, wherever you may be my fellow ex-pats, raise a glass of Keith's high and celebrate Nova Scotia's finest grand and brew master.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Would there be any point in taking this one to the trash? Nah...didn't think so. This early Roland Emmerich film is what it is.... blow 'em up real good, throw in some fine martial arts, blow some more shit up and add a few more fights, chuck a girl in there in need of saving and blow yet some more shit up real good but not before you throw in some more martial arts and something like plot if anybody remembers. For what it is UNIVERSAL SOLDIER is good fun. Jean-Claude Van Damme actually get's to act here as an automan soldier so we get that problem out of the way from the get go. The real treat here is Dolph Lundgren who looks nasty as stink even by his standards and gets ALL of the best lines in the flick. His "monologue" in the supermarket scene is an absolute gem and is well worth looking up UNIVERSAL SOLDIER for this bit of wisodom alone.
Like STATE OF GRACE this is another I`m constantly surprised by how few people seem to be aware of it. Another written and directed by JOHN SAYLES about the only complaint I have about LONE STAR is it should have been called something else.....like SINS OF OUR FATHERS or something. Like STATE OF GRACE is a film about being unable to escape your past, LONE STAR is about being unable to escape the legacy of your parents. This is a down and dirty film set in Texas but it is just as much a film about Mexico. Sayles actually got an Oscar nod for his script work here making it all that much more surprising to me that nobody seems to have seen it. I mean, with Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey and Elizabeth Pena on board one would think everybody would have gone. In any case, I`m not giving any plot details away as it`s a doosie and well worth discovering for yourself. Great music, some stunning cinematography and just all around great.
State of Grace
I`m always surprised when people not only say they`ve not seen STATE OF GRACE but have never even heard of it! The story is a simple one with complex undertones. Sean Penn is a Boston cop who returns to Hell`s Kitchen in New York as an undercover agent. While there he is reaquainted with his boyhood friends and this is where the conflict begins. One said boyhood friend is portrayed by Gary Oldman. As Jackie Flannery he gives one of the finest performances of his carreer which when you are talking about Oldman is saying something. Robin Wright provides the female lead and this is the project on which her and Penn met and I think you know the ``rest`` of that story! Ed Harris provides our ``bad guy`` here...hell, they are all bad guys, in a superbly reserved presentation. John C Reilly, John Tuturro and R.D. Call provide great support but it is the late Burgess Meredith who steals the show. It`s only one scene but it`s amazing how much power his little cameo brings to the table. I`m told this is not an easy film to find but it is certainly one well worth the hunt.
FECES II would have been more apt! What a fucking stinker of a film. It looks to me as if the runaway success of the first film garnered a boat load of cash in the pockets of some coked up producers who rounded up any B-List Hollywooder they get their drugged up mitts on and threw them into this shit stormed mess of a movie. The plot??????.........uhhhhh...sex ed 101....who does it?????....the birds and the bees and oh yes the species! I can forgive Natasha Henstridge for this one and to her credit she was featured on the coolest movie poster of all time which was a lenticular showing her turning into the creature.....this hung in my kitchen, much to the ex`s chagrin for years! Yes, I can forgive her and I might even let CSI uber-babe Marg Helgenberger off of the hook and is there any sense razzing Michael Madsen who is actually the best actor on screen here which should tell you something. What I want to know is what Peter Boyle (all but unused!) and James Cromwell were doing here. Unlike the first this is simply a hodge podge of bad science and aliens thingies ripping naked women apart during sex, which under normal circumstances would be my cup of coffee but here it comes off as a CHEECH AND CHONG film. One good thing is a cameo from Richard Belzer as the president of the United States...I at least HOPE that laugh was intentional.
FECES II indeed!
FECES II indeed!
This was the film that introduced Robert Rodriguez to the film going masses, setting the stage for him to unleash such wonders as FROM DUSK TO DAWN and SIN CITY. In DESPERADO you can certainly see the direction his work is heading. Down and dirty action way down Mexico way with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek looking all sweaty and nasty and all Latino heat and stuff. It's good straight forward action fun with some great lines, no doubt contributed by Quentin Tarantino who was involved in this project and has a great little acting role as well. Strong musical score with ultra-violence makes this a keeper and hey, even the chicks will like it for the Banderas factor.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Oh look...what have we here...yet another happy film from Alan Parker. Actually, in the midst of this tome about poverty stricken Ireland there is a great amount of happiness. ANGELA'S ASHES is very true to the Frank McCourt "biography"...I use the quotation marks as my mate Johnny, a bartender at my Irish local who sounds just like narrator Andrew Bennett, say any Irishman could have written a book like this. This may be true, but they didn't and McCourt did. Parker is sheer genius here in portraying the early life of McCourt and some of the scenes will simply blow you away. I've always been surprised that Emily Watson didn't receive an Oscar nod for her work here because she is stunning. Definately one not to be missed.
Like many of the films I've been blurbing here in blog-land, GLADIATOR really needs no introduction or write up. You know it took five hard earned Oscars, Ridley Scott once again directed a mind stunning epic and Russell Crowe kicked some serious ass even if he was sporting a doo like Kevin Costner's in THE BODYGUARD. What I can add is that GLADIATOR just gets better and better with each subsequent viewing. Not only from an acting point of view but from the amazing use of computer technology. A great drama of epic preportions....GLADIATOR always demands another viewing.
The Usual Suspects
I can't think of anything bad to say about this sharp little crime drama from Bryan Singer. Kevin Spacey walked away with a well deserved Oscar as did scripter Christopher McQuarrie for his tight work on this ultra cool flick. Just all around great and I think that is all that about needs to be said.
The Curse of the Werewolf
One of my all time faves with by far the best werewolf makeup there is. Oliver Reed looks great in this Roy ashton design. Ashton was to Hammer what Jack Pierce was to Universal having designed all of their modern monsters. A slow film by all accounts but high on atmosphere and well worth a look if you've never seen it. Desmond Llewelyn, better known to us as "Q" from the Bond films has an uncredited role as a servant here and you won't want to miss Yvonne Romain running around in a corset.
Seven Years in Tibet
Many people I know have a problem with this film, the biggest being Brad Pitt's accent. I too have had a problem with it over the years and I must say in this case he is to be forgiven. I can't honestly say I know what Heinrich Harrer's voice or accent sounds like. What I do know is Pitt does a wonderful job portraying the transformation of Harrer from an arrogant self serving dick to a sensitive and thoughtful man and that is what this film is really about....a man's transformation. Another complaint is how this Jean-Jacques Annaud film strayed away from Harrer's book. This complaint is a valid one but, much like the complaint of the film being in English, films are made to make money and we often forget this...compromises had to be made in order to release a successful product. I think Annaud did the best he could with his hands tied. This is a very special film with a special message and visuals to match, through these eyes one should find it easy to forgive it's minor shortcomings.
Well....I`m supposed to be working the eBay thing today but this damn cold that has wreaked total havok in the lives of damn near everybody I know has finally grabbed me by the throat....in a literal sense.....so I`m gonna do the Contact C, chicken noodle soup thingy and have myself a flu ladened film fest. What we have here is my favorite to date of the Adam Sandler stupid comedies and this one is a stupid as stupid can get. Hell, it`s meant to be. I have to give the premise away as this might be one many would take a pass on. Harvey Keitel is the devil and he has three sons. When two of them leave Hell, he starts to go to pieces, in a literal sense, and Little Nicky has to go topside to bring his brothers back and save the day. Steven Brill, who has written and directed many of the Sandler vehicles is in top form with this one and the results are a riot. There are simply too many cameos here to mention though I must point out Henry Winkler has one of the best. Well worth a grab from the local DVD shop for a slow, cold night.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Luca Bercovici is far more of an actor than a driector as we see here in this his debut in the chair. This is not to say he is without talent....far from it...I`m simply pointing out he`s one of those ``I know his face from somewhere`` than a ``wow..I know this directing style`` type of guy. GHOULIES is often pegged as a GREMLINS rip-off which is a shame as it has it`s own distinct charms along the line of THE PUPPET MASTER series. I won`t bother with the plot as it`s moot.....this is just a silly splat fest and should be taken as nothing more. The lovely scream queen Bobbie Bresee has some nice work here and LAW & ORDER: SVU`s Mariska Hargitay makes her acting debut....though she would probably rather you not knew that!
Murder by Numbers
Barbet Schroeder is one of those odd men out in the directing world....you never know where he'll be coming from with his work. Utter brilliance with films like BARFLY and REVERSAL OF FORTUNE and then you get the uneven offering of MURDER BY NUMBERS. By no means horrible it falls under the class of leave your brain on the table, look at the eye candy and enjoy the ride. You can't help but the the feeling the studios pissed around with this one. Sandra Bullock is more than adequate here but looks like she is one autopilot which leaves the weight to be held by up-and-comers Michael Pitt and Ryan Gosling. Gosling, a good London, Ontario boy is coming into this own so his fans will most certainly enjoy this....other than that....it`s a take it or leave it...by the numbers sort of thing.
There is a reasons they call films like this classics and directors like Frank Capra a genius. Far be it for me to go tramping around in territory like that so all I will add here is that I saw this baby for the first time when I was about eight years old and believe it or not the "zinger" towards the end gave me friggin' nightmares and probaly tainted the way I look at women ever since. If you have not seen this one, don't even bother considering yourself any sort of film expert......this is required movie viewing 101...period.
Straight forward romantic comedy, this raises aboves the crop from tight directing and the presence of an actual script. Donald Petrie, who gave us GRUMPY OLD MEN is an old hat at this sort of thing and when you have the likes of Elizabeth McGovern, Harley Jane Kozak, Bill PUlman and Brad Pitt to work with it doesn't take much to turn out a fine product. Worth a look on late night TV if you come across it.
This 1932 Universal gem, though not as popular as FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA or THE WOLFMAN at the time ranks up there with the very best of them. The late great Boris Karloff is truly a marvel to watch as he does double duty being both old Egyptian spooky dude and wrapped up old Egyptian spooky dude as well. Wha is of special import here is the driecting style of Karl Freund. Most are unaware he grw up in the German school of film making as worked as a cinematographer for both F.W. Murnau and Fritz Lang, he did in fact work on METROPLIS! THE MUMMY would be his directorial debut and sadly he would only make a few more films as his camera work was so highly valued he could only find placement in this position. Here in THE MUMMY his German roots are well on display making this a distinctly different Universal number in visual and tone. Sure, many of the elements of the original Universal DRACULA are lifted here but the overall feeling is enough to give it a fresh life. Freund would end up working on I LOVE LUCY where he would develop the three camera television shot. There are rumours he was on set and assisted on many of the original STAR TREK episodes though to my knowledge it's never been confirmed. THE MUMMY is one to sit back and enjoy and just try and remember how unique these films were back in the early dirty Thirties.
Madmen, Maniiacs & Lunatics
Not so much a film as a long collection of assorted wrestling matches ivloving those who belong in the category of said title. It is important however because it includes a particularly nasty match between host Jerry "The King" Lawler and Terry Funk back in their Memphis wrestling days as well as a lot of the Kaufman mythos with Lawler. One to keep "an eye out" for you wrestling geeks out there.
About all I can add to what has been said about PULP FICTION is I wasn't a fan of it at first. I think I felt Tarantino was over exposed and rated for simply paying homage to the sexploitation/viloence films of the Seventies and I had wished more movie goes had done their damn homework to see what he was paying homage to. Over the years and upon recent viewing I find myself liking this performance more and more and it was AT LEAST responsible for two things are those are bringing John Travolta and Dick Dale back into the eye of cool. The writing here is top notch with some of this best lines ever recorded on film, as always the soundtrack is killer and there is not a bad performance to be found from any of this all-star cast. Way better now than ever I think.
The Incredible Torture Show (Blood Sucking Freaks)
Better known to most of us by the second title, which is one of many this video nasty has gone under over the years, this is one cult film that has perhaps raised more eyebrows than any other. Straight off, this is an S&M soft core film supposedly disguised as a horror/splatter film. It delivers on both accounts, so much so it will offend most no matter how hardened they may be to this sort of offering. There is a great deal of comedic moments to be found here provided you share the same sense of humor with the Marquis de Sade. Director Joel L. Reed makes no appologies for what he presents here, using porn star Viju Krem and the late "little person" adult film actor Luis De Jesus to great ends. I could write more on this one but I think this will do as if this thing is your cup of tea, you've already seen it, and if you are just new to the works of Herschel Gordon Lewis and the likes you are sure to stumble across this one in time. Stumble with care....it's darker than you think!