Friday, May 30, 2008

Being There

By far one of the most misunderstood films in the history of cinema and if you look you can find reams and reams of written material on the subject. That Peter Sellers lost out to Dustin Hoffman in KRAMER VS. KRAMER is an absolute shame especially when you think Sellers was dead just a little over half a year later. Director Hal Ashby, who nailed the brilliant HAROLD AND MAUDE would also be dead a few years later and writer Jerzy Kozinksi surprisingly lasted a dozen years more before offing himself. I find that an odd twist of fate. Melvin Douglas, who took an Oscar for his work here....dead two years later. Jack Warden, Richard Basehart, Ruth Attaway, they too are dead! Happy to say Shirley MacLaine, who has a "self serving" scene here which can easily rival that of Meg Ryan in "WHEN HARRY MET SALLY" is still very much alive and still doing great work as is Emmy winner Richard Dysart though not so much so of late. Like so, so, soooooooo many of the films I blurb here I will leave the disovering of the story to you but I will leave you with this, if you've not seen it you is required viewing on many levels and SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS if you honestly don't get the ending then you need to go back to the drawing board. To toss the character of Chance Gardner into the lot of mere simpleton is to absolutely miss the point of the film. I'll leave you with that...and one more is the absolute best of Peter Sellers work and that my dear friends is nothing to shake a stick at!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Ring Two

Here's another film so fucking stupid it simply shouldn't exist and I'm surprised Naomi Watts was allowed to star in another one after making it. You know you're in trouble when the best an Americanized horror remake can come up with is a herd of CGI deers who looked like they just ran out of a Lexus commercial attacking out leads. For starters, what the hell do they have to do with any part of THE RING mythos....I've seen all the Asian versions and for the life of me I don't remember any psycho-fuckin'-Bambi's in the picture. Add insult to injury by having the car windows just reappear after they've been smashed out by said deers. Oh, just DVD box....bad, bad film....and please tell me how they managed to snag Sissy Spacek in a cameo and on a more important note why they are letting Hideo Nakata make a third part in North America?!?!?!?!?!?!?

The Sum of All Fears

Yes, the sum of all fears indeed.....Ben Affleck taking on the role of Jack Ryan. We've already seen the Tom Clancy character done by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford and maybe, just maybe Affleck could have lived up to him had he not been given the most idiotic of the series to work with. Odd thing is for an action film the best parts were dialogue driven by James Cromwell as the President and his advisors. Even the great Morgan Freeman looks like he doesn't want to be here. Worth a look if you've nothing else to do but honestly not worth a $2.00 rental at the corner store!

Phantom from Space

W. Lee Wilder made this 1953 release right before his other "space" film KILLERS FROM SPACE. In this case, there is no killer, just some poor alien sap who crashes and is trying to get the hell back home and not unlike our little friend E.T. has some serious shit problems with our air and is snuffin' it big time. Kind of like anybody with allergies in Toronto right now! It's an interesting twist on the prevelant alien invader theme of the period but mostly only of interest to veteran students of the genre.

I Heart Huckabees

I have a thing for Jason Schwatzman....I love him to death but damned if I can't stand most of the characters he plays......they simply make my skin crawl and cause to wish I could jump through the screen and strangle them. I gather this is the point and he's a master at this sort of thing. As for the director, David O. Russell, I first encountered his work with SPANKING THE MONKEY and this should have been a good indicator of things to come. With I HEART HUCKABEES is doesn't hurt to have a third year of philosophy under your belt as it certainly does live up to it's billing as an existential comedy. I imagine there is enough there to entertain your average viewer but if JOHN TUCKER MUST DIE was your idea of a funny film you would do well to steer clear of this mind-bender. Oddly enough it marks the first time Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin have worked together on screen, I say odd as they look like they've been doing it for year. Jude Law and Naomi Watts are a special treat but the big surprise is seeing Mark Wahlberg hold his own beside such a grouping of talent. I truly get the feeling he will make a serious character actor in his later years and it shows in his performace here. Great to see Tippi Hedren here and you just have to "heart" Shania Twain for having the stones to go along with the joke.

Lathe of Heaven

In most cases I figure it's a given one should read the book a film may be based on and in the case of Ursula K. Le Guin's THE LATHE OF HEAVEN it should be mandatory. I must confess I prefer the 1980 adaptation of this with Bruce Davison in the lead as opposed to this 2002 offering not that there is anything wrong with Lukas Haas in the role of Geroge Orr, in fact just the opposite. Were he not here LATHE OF HEAVEN would have been a wretched mess. Poor James Caan mails in his performance and Lisa Bonet looks like she's in a Prozac coma. Fine support work from David Strathairn and Sheila McCarthy but it is Haas who carries the feeling here, granted with some nice score work from Angelo Badalamenti to help things along. Science fiction the way it's supposed to be when an idea and story are just so strong you can't screw it up no matter how hard you try.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

U2: Rattle and Hum

I remember being quite pissed when this baby came out 20 years ago. It mainly had to do with the ever growing ego of Bono and seeminly the band as a whole. To have them hit America and insinuate themselves into the whole blues legend thingy seemed to be even more proof their heads had swollen enough to rival that of the other single named Sting who I still think should be put in a steel-cage with Bono and let 'em have it.
I am quite happy to report time has been very, VERY kind to RATTLE AND HUM and has been shown over the passed years Bono and the boys are more than willing to put their hearts and money where their mouths are. There is supposed to be well over 48 hours of footage director Phil Joanou shot and the buzz has been a serious ass director's cut will be released this year to celebrate the 20th but not confirmation as yet. As a rock doc it's an amazing piece of work and now it's aged some I think will be enjoyable to even non-fans if for no other reason than the gut wrenching version of SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY presented here.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Journey to the Center of Time

David L. Hewitt is one of those jack of all film trades, most often doing some form of special effect. With JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME the effects are pretty sparse, in fact, it looks like this dialogue driven piece of science fiction may have been piggy backed on the sets of some other shoot. Production limitations aside, and the acting honestly isn't much better, this one does have an interesting story one which will appeal to those interested in quantum pshysics and string theory. For those not, best to give this one a pass.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Dead Man

To end my Depp fest we must take a very close look at the film of his nobody seems to know about, this being Jim Jarmusch's DEAD MAN. This one can be viewed in two ways, you can take it as a straight, although mighty odd, little Western yarn or you can spend hours weeding through the metaphysical symbolism Jarmusch so loves to use. The fact he names Depp's leading character William Blake should be a strong indicator where he is going with things and with Gary Farmer as Nobody you are always left to wonder if Depp is actually already dead or soon about to be. Others have written on the allegorical aspects of this film so I shan't bore you by repeating what can be found elsewhere, what I can say is, though slow in spots, DEAD MAN is both a serious and fucking hillarious film. Depp may indeed be the lead but Famer almost srteals the film in several spots and this may in fact be Lance Henriksen's best film. With cameos from the likes of Iggy Pop, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Mitchum, Alfred Molina, John Hurt and Crispen Glover this is one that should have received a greater audience. Sure, all of the film heads know of it but I do wish the teenie boppers would get their collective heads out of Jack Sparrow's ass and have a look at Johnny doing some serious work.........and thus concludes the mini Depp fest.

Secret Window

If you rip your own work off is it called plagiarism? In the case of SECRET WINDOW this seems to be kind of what Stephen King has done and oddly the film is about just that. Depp is a successful author who is confronted by a man who feels he stole a story from him and the action progresses from there. Johnny is great mixing aspects of King's autobiographical story with parts of Hunter S. Thompson's persona to give us a lead very enjoyable to watch. You honestly don't care how stupid the films gets at points or the obvious plot devices, Depp is just a hoot making it well worth your time. Yes, SECRET WINDOW seems to be an extension on THE DARK HALF theme, especially the film version which might be why director David Koepp decided to bring Timothy Hutton on board, but so what, it entertains you fopr a couple of hours and along with Depp you get an amazingly campy performance out of John Tuturro. What more could you want?

The Astronaut's Wife

Continuing with my Depp fest we will now look at THE ASTRONAUT'S WIFE and not too closely either. This work mark the first and to date only feature film written and directed by Rand Ravich so we can forgive him for being overly ambitious. Problem is the film meanders all over the place, displays it's climax far too early and then just peters off into mediocrity. Depp barelt acts here opting to look rather like one of the sullen occupants of any goth club you might find while Charlize Theron looks like she still thought she was acting in THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE. It's not a horrid piece of work and it was nice to see Samantha Eggar in a bit part but this is more of a curiousity piece for the film junkie rather than for mass consumption.

Finding Neverland

Three times Depp has gone to the ball and three times he left empty handed but I gotta tell ya, after seeing FINDING NEVERLAND you just know he's gonna snag an Oscar one of these days. To say they took liberties with the real history of playwrite J.M. Barrie is being kind but it's of no import here, the elements are true enough and they make for a great motion picture. I won't waste more time writing on this one, Depp is bloody amazing, it's a must see and make sure to have a box of tissue on hand.

The Ninth Gate

He we begin a look at my recent little Johnny Depp fest. THE NINTH GATE is by no means a masterpiece, in fact if Emmanuelle Seigner were not in you might not know it's a Roman Polanski film. Johnny Depp stars as a book seller of low morals commissioned to authenticate a rare book which supposedly holds the key to summoning the devil. Silly idea but Depp plays it straight and it's only because of him the film works. Sure, Seigner is fun to look at and Lena Olin has a few fine moments but Frank Langela as our main protagonist is far too stiff. Also, the ending is bloody fucked, almost as if they had no idea how to conclude it so they taked this bugger on there just for the hell of it. Uneven, but a good ride just the same.

The Watcher

Despite being one serious mess of a film there are some moments in THE WATCHER to make it worth your while and pretty much all of them belong to James Spader. As the cop with a haunted past and a pill problem Spader is able to use his trademark intensity to the fullest. Keanu Reeves on the other hand claerly doesn't want to be here, in this case for real due to a business problem with the director. The director, I use this term with hesitation. Joe Charbanic has only made one film and here his stylings are that of a kid who just got her first video camera. The film might not have been so bad if there weren't so many slow motion shots. Marisa Tomei is totally wasted, much like your time should you sit through this one.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Escape from New York

Here is a cult classic if you ever had one. Kurt Russell kicks some serious ass as Snake (I thought you were dead) Plissken and I'm sure everybody has seen, and loves, this one so I shan't waste time telling you what it's about. I will mention a few things you may not know the first being that yes that is Jamie Lee Curtis who narrates the introduction and Nick Castle who coscripted this with Carpenter played Michael Myers A.K.A. the Shape in Halloween. Another thing worth noting is how disturbing I found it to watch Isaac Hayes as The Duke. I'm serious, I just kept expecting him to say "go fudge yourself" or break out into a riff from Salty Balls. Very disturbing. Also, great work from the late Ernest Borgnine and Donald Pleasence has some stellar moments in this one. A guaranteed great trip down memory lane this is!

Things to Come

THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME, published in 1933, more than any other of his works cememnted H.G. Wells as a true visionary. He all but predicted World War II and the devastation aerial bombing would cause. In his case, he saw the war lasting to the Sixties and it many ways it did and it still continues. Through this novel he also expounds on his thoughts of a Utopian society. While his ideas of a benevolent world dictator may not sit well with many there are some interesting aspects to the idea always worthy of discussion. Here, with a shortened title and a screenplay written by Wells himself, the tale of two families and their opposing views unfold. William Cameron Menzies, who took a second Oscar (honorary at that!) for his contributions to GONE WITH THE WIND, was without a doubt a serious Hollywood heavyweight in his day and THINGS TO COME is a departure from his normal style. Perhaps it was the complex set requirements that drew him to this project...who knows. What is known is this remains a true pioneering classic in science fiction cinematography and the great Toronto boy Raymond Massey is superb in it. This is one you need to take your time with, it doesn't bludgeon you with action and special effects, no, it's far more subtle than that but over seventy years later it's message of the plagues of war still rings true.

Knocked Up

Ok, this Judd Apatow film didn't do much for me but I will admit it is a clever piece of writing. I liked this Seth Rogen guy in SUPER BAD and some of the writing he did for DA ALI G SHOW was killer and by crackie he gives it his best boyscout try here to carry the film but it just goes off of the rails towards the end. It' s as if he was the only guy stoned at an AA convention. Many found this flick to be hillarious and maybe it is, I just didn't get it.

The Day of the Triffids

When you think of the number of novels of John Wyndham's adapted for the screen one must ask why has THE CHRYSALIDS not been put to film. I suppose that is neither here nor there, here we a thinking about his 1951 work THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS. Influenced by H.G. Wells' THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, this one deals with an obnoxious plant that, after most of humanity is pretty much blinded by some weird ass meteor shower, go about taking over Earth. It sounds like a pretty silly story and the way it is executed here in this 1962 Steve Sekely film doesn't help matters much. However, if you have the patience and a good imagination this one will work for you, mainly because Sekely has enough skill as a director and was quite used to teasing the best product he could out of a film regardless of the budget. Howard Keel, who most will know from the show DALLAS is an interesting, if stiff, lead and the overall atmosphere of this film works even if the special effects can't match it. There was a BBC mini-series production of this which worked much better and many will find it far more to their liking, still, this version has it's place and to some is considered a classic...
and nodoby can tell me the Genesis song ATTACK OF THE GIANT HOGWEED wasn't influenced by this!


This poor film was held in contempt as a blatant rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW. Sure, it borrows some elements but it's not like that hasn't happened before. Can anybody say BODY DOUBLE? In any case it doesn't matter here, the film was a giant smash with the Tweenie crowd and I say why not. It has enough of a story, all of the beautiful people, some nice twists and good scare and a great bad guy in David Morse. Never mind that Shia LaBeouf, who as soon as the new Indiana Jones film is released will no doubt be elevated to God status, stars, this one is well rounded out and will satify even the most jaded of viewers.

Carnal Knowledge

Mike Nichols is still making films that matter and in this day and age that is an accomplishment in and of itself. His recents hits with CLOSER and CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR certainly bring that point home even if he did make WOLF. CARNAL KNOWLEDGE was his follow up to CATCH 22 and is a somewhat autobiographical account of his and friend/script writer Jules Feiffer's sexual life. It's hard to tell who's who between Jack Nicholson and Art Garfunkle but either way you slice it it's a painful ride. This account captures a few decades of troubled relationships and while funny at times it is a desperate and despairing look at just how fucked up people's lives can get. This was pretty heavy stuff for 1971 and the scene where Nicholson gives his slideshow presentation of PARADE OF THE BALLBUSTERS will both make you cringe and piss yourself. Candice Bergen is fantastic here and Ann-Margaret has a fight scene with Nicholson unlike anything ever caught on film. They actually both lost their voices for almost a week after shooting this scene! This also marks the debut of Carol Kane and while slightly dated, only in visual style, the themes examined here are universal.

Bad Moon

This Eric Red film has quite the following in the lycanthrope crowd and it's easy to understand. Despite budget restrictions, he manages to assemble a competent cast and uses scripting rather than an onslaught of special effects to create his tension. Mariel Hemingway is fine in the lead but the big "actor" here is Primo as Thor. Yup, the dog is the hero! Michael Parè does well as the werewolf Uncle coming to visit and Mason Gamble who most know from DENNIS THE MENACE with Walter Matthau is great as the son who feels threatened by the arrival of said Uncle. A lot more going on here than meets the eyes and worthwhile for fans of the genre but won't offer much for those who aren't.

Indestructable Man

The late Jack Pollexfen wrote and produced a fair amount of B films in his life but he onlt directed two of them and while I hate to speak ill of the dead I must say it's a good thing! INDESTRUCTABLE MAN stars Lon Chaney Jr. as a gangster who gets fried in the electric chair but swears to return and have vengence on an accountant who screwed him. Haven't we all felt like that at one time or another! What comes of this is a film which can't decide if it want to be a horror or a crime drama or a sci-fi....what the hell, mix 'em all together and see what sticks. Sadly, not much. It will entertain the die-hards but is way, way too slow for general consumption. I will say they have a maniacal close-up of Chaney Jr.'s eyes where I don't think they needed make-up! God bless ol' Lon but I swear it looks like they filmed him right after he staggered in from a week long bender!

The Dukes of Hazzard

Oh man, I can just see the emails now but I just have to weigh in on this one. This is part of that 2005 glut of remakes and adapted television shows Hollywood just felt the need to force down the throats of a sheep like public. Amazingly enough I've actually read and heard people debating the merits of this Seventies show and how Hollywood damn near close verged on blasphemy by putting this on the big screen!?!?!?!??! It's the DUKES OF FUCKIN' HAZZARD people, go grab a deep fied chickin' samich and sit your ass in front of a NASCAR race and chill the fuck out!
Now, in my case I expected nothing from this film and I was floored when I discovered just how smart and entertaining it turned out to be. There are some in-jokes and subtleties that just had me floored! I am one of the few (at least that I know) who genuinely enjoy the work of Johnny Knoxville and while Seann William Scott can be hit and miss I felt the pairing of the two was perfect. As for the argument of Jessica Simpson taking the reigns from Catherine Bach as Daisy Duke....get over it folks. She was a natural for the role and works to a charm. Willie Nelson as Uncle can you not like that and Burt Reynolds as Boss Hogg....bloody perfect! Throw in some bit parts for Rip Taylor and Lynda Carter and you have a virtual time machine at your finger tips. You see, the show was based on the car movie craze which has never left us and if you take the film as a longer revisitation of this theme it is an absolute success. Not everybody will enjoy this sort of nonsense but for those of you old enough to remember the show ignore the general consensus and give this ride a try!


This one was nominated for best animated picture at the Oscars last year and lost to RATATOUILLE. This I understand as RATATOUILLE is an amazing piece of work. For my money, PERSEPOLIS should have been taken from the animated category and been placed up there with BEST MOTION PICTURE. I can not express what a fantastic film this is. Adapted from the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi this tell the coming of age story of a young girl in war torn Iran and her pursuit of life, love and liberty and is just so damn powerful you will want to see it again right away. Not only is an educational film it is also a warning and a beacon of hope. For years I had wondered why Art Spiegelman's MAUS was not adapted for the screen an din discussion with many friends the general opinion was it just wouldn't work. PERSEPOLIS proves us wrong though I'm glad this was made before MAUS as the need to compare the two would have robbed much of the well deserved thunder of this project. I cannot emphasise enough how great this film is and as an added bonus we have the great Catherine Deneuve doing the voice work of the mother. I know NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN took the Oscar but had PERSEPOLIS been nominated it would have given it a damn good run for it's money!

Monster from Green Hell

OK, space craft crashes into the deep, dark heart of Africa exposing a bunch of wasps (flying ones, not the kind you see at Starbucks) causing them to mutate into giant ass stinging beasties, send in some Americans to deal with the problems, throw in a bunch of safari stock footage and you have MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL. I think that is all any of us need to know about this one.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Just Visiting

Jean-Marie Poiré made this first in 1993 as LES VISITEURS and it was such a hit he decided to try his luck with an english version, his only one to date, and sadly it didn't do as well as he hoped. I've not seen the original so I can't compare the two but I do know Jean Reno and Christian Clavier return to reprise their roles, this time joined by Christina Applegate and Tara Reid. It's a time travel based comedy sending a Count and his servant from 12th century France to modern day Chicago. I t has a few funny moments and does entertain but I can't help but feel something was lost in translation.


This was THE film of 1981 and I'm sure you've all seen it at one point or another and I am sorry to report that upon a recent rewatch I was scratching me head wondering how the hell this managed to be such a hit. The character of Arthur played by Dudley Moore is really not that damn funny and don't even get me started on Liza Minnelli. In fact, were it not for the late great John Gielgud, who did take an Oscar for this one, the whole thing would have been a dreadful bore proving that some films are best left to memory and are not to be revisited.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

D.O.A.: Dead or Alive

Corey Yuen, a martial arts star in his own right, had a major hit with THE TRANSPORTER which might explain how he was able to bankroll this ludicrous bit of fluffy nonsense. Think CHARLIE'S ANGELS as a video game adapted into a film like MORTAL COMBAT only the stakes are money and bragging rights instead of the fate of humanity, the universe or what have you and then you'll have a good idea of what D.O.A. is all about. Grant it, it's a gas to see MY NAME IS EARLE's Jaime Pressly kick some ass and I certainly have no problem whatsoever watching Devon Akoi, Sarah Carter, Holly Valance and Natassia Malthe jump around and once more we have Eric Roberts playing a scum lord and Big Sexy Kevin Nash even shows up in the role of Pressly's dad and Matthew Marsden from that odd British show CORRONATION STREET is there to provide a bit of eye candy for the ladies as well. Pure nonsense indeed but it sure is fun!

Evan Almighty

I won't waste much time blurbing this one, it's the type of thing you either like or you don't. I myself quite like the work and style of director Tom Shadyac so I was a tad bit more interested in this than I normally would be, so much so that this was one of the first times I've seen, or noticed Steve Carell in a film. Yes, I know he was in the first, BRUCE ALMIGHTY, which I can't say I remember much of, I don't watch the American version of THE OFFICE and I would just as soon forget about the movie take on BEWITCHED. In the case of EVAN ALMIGHTY I was in for a pleasant surprise. It was a fun, good natured, light hearted film suitable for all ages and a great little family flick, that is unless you happen to be a bible-thumping lunatic like the many who were offended by this supposed blasphemous film. Would it be having a black man, in this case Morgan Freeman, playing God? Would it be them doing a modern take on the whole Noah and the ark thing? I seem to recall Bill Cosby doing a similar routine and I don't remember hearing about anybody protesting him. these are different times with a different mind set and perhaps this is why I enjoyed EVAN ALMIGHTY so much....I couldn't help but dream of building my own big ass boat, loading all of the creationists on to it and pushing it of the edge of the is flat afterall.....just like their heads! Yes, it was that...and John Goodman playing a crooked politician, yes, it was these things that made me enjoy this film so much!

The Giant Gila Monster

A mutated pituitary gland is at fault here from this "marvel" of a monster. In reality what we have is some poor drugged up gila who was no doubt minding his own frakkin' business on a rock somewhere, or whatever it is gilas do in their down time, when Ray Kellogg and his boys came along, scooped him up, tossed him through a couple of coardboard barn walls and then ran a toy car full of firecrackers into the poor thing's face which I'm sure the gila was none to happy about. That aside, THE GIANT GILA MONSTER would have been tolerable had they not opted to let Don Sullivan sing throughout the whole damn thing. Don't get me wrong, not a bad leading actor in this case but his "rock" songs no doubt had audiences across the country wishing the gila would hurry up and chomp the dude. Some neat moments from the town drunk but you need not run out and buy THE GIANT GILA MONSTER anytime soon.

The Weather Man

This film from Gore Verbinski is one mighty depressing little number. Nicolas Cage, who I usually love, plays, yes, a weather man whose life is falling to pieces. Michael Caine has a supporting role as his writer father and offers some emotional relief to the viewer if not the main character. The story is a complex one and I'll let you tackle it should you feel inclined but I will say this, as great as Cage is I think he was wrong for the role. Perhaps Bill Murray or Robin Williams or even William H. Macy if you needed a known name but I do feel it would have worked better with a cast of unknowns, if at all. Either way you slice it, the clouds are looming in this one and you just know they are calling for rain.

Citizen X

By far one of the all-time best detective films I have ever seen and amazingly enough it was made for television! Stephen Rea portrays the forensic expert turned inspector burdened with the task of tracking down a serial killer, in this case the notorious Andrei Chikatilo, while having to deal with the politics and red tape of a Communist Russia. It is this last aspect which makes CITIZEN X stand apart from so many other films here and I won't ruin the twists to be found. Donald Sutherland, despite some bad accent work, turns in a great performance here as does Max von Sydow, Joss Ackland and John Wood. All of this freat talent aside it is Stephen Rea who carries this tormented piece of work and his style is such you swear you are watching a documentary rather than a teledrama. His equal in this respect is Jeffrey DeMunn. He has a face you will recognize from many of the Stephen King based films such as THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, THE MIST, and STORM OF THE CENTURY. You will not make the connection here, without the aid of make-up he transforms himself into the most famous of the Soviet Union's non-political butchers and I'm sorry to say it was he and not Donald Sutherland who should have taken the Golden Globe award for best supporting actor that year. Powerful, haunting and disturbing as can be and it will make you ask if they can pull this off for television what the hell is wrong with the major studios these days.

Killers from Space

I often wonder how it is Peter Graves was never thrown in jail. I mean, if my agent had signed me on to star in KILLERS FROM SPACE I would have killed the motherfucker! Check this out, not only do we have giant spiders, snakes, lizards, crickets and damn near any other creepy crawly you'd find in a cave running around we have some alien dudes with halved ping pong balls for eyes! I'm not shitting looks like they cut a ping pong ball in half, grabbed a magic marker and scribbled a couple of black dots on them and stuck them on some poor sap's face along with some extra carpet looking like a lost caterpillar and what you have looks more like a friggin' Muppet than an alien and this is about all you'll ever need to know about KILLERS FROM SPACE.

Final Analysis

I read a blurb about this one written by a psychoanalyst, a long, long dissertation on how many professional codes Richard Gere's character breaks in this homage to Hitchcock. While this person may in fact be well and correct I am of the mind they are in need of a swift boot to the chops, I mean, come on, it's a Richard Gere film with Kim Bassinger and Uma Thurman and who honestly gives a fuck about the holes in the plot. This is a simple of mystery pot boiler with a good dose of sexuality for fine fact Bassinger actually does a nude scene or they found one awesome body double for her! Eric Roberts shows up and brings his best scum-bucket talent to the plate and Paul Guilfoyle is excellent as the heavy drinking, womanizing defense attorney. FINAL ANALYSIS will not be to the tastes of all and I'm sure it wasn't meant to be but for those who like their bourbon warm and their dames cool this will more than satisfy and should you run into that psychoanalyst please give them a boot for me!

Crash of Moons

Not a movie per se but a collection of television serials strung together to resemble a film. These 1954 shoe-string budget numbers are a hoot to watch and Richard Crane as Rocky Jones Space Ranger can make me piss my pants sometimes. The story lines are inept, the entire cast looks like they are drunk and the special effects....oh...the special effects. Look at it this way, this is the only place I've seen a pull-out couch from the basement in space! In CRASH OF MOONS look for John Banner of later Hogan's Heroes fame.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


Hey, I'm all for a stupid crude film as the next guy but there is something missing in BEERFEST and I think it's called humor. While watching it I couldn't help but think of Bob and Doug's STRANGE BREW for two reasons.....why isn't this working and like Max von Sydow in STRANGE BREW I couldn't help but wonder how they snagged Jurgen Prochnow for this one. Oh wait, it's called money! Be smart, avoid this one and save yours!

See No Evil

I'm happy to say the films we get these days starring wrestlers aren't the same type of fare we got back in the Hulk Hogan days. No, they actually do try and muster up a script, bring a real director and have their talent act for a change. In the case of SEE NO EVIL we have a script from former SMACKDOWN writer Dan Madigan being directed by former porn man Gregory Dark and the talent happens to be one Kane or, as he is known to his wife and kids, Glen Jacobs. Did I mention Glen stands at six feet ten inches? Did I mention the cast and crew claimed in many interviews to be petrified of him on set? Did I also mention he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet? This aside SEE NO EVIL is really an extended version of the KANE wrestling character and while not Oscar material is no worse than any of the other bad slasher films being churned out these days and Jacobs at least has the experience to pull this sort of thing off even if the cast of the young and beautiful, who you just soooooooooo want to see get chopped up, didn't! I must also say I was impressed with the directing style of Dark, he has a nice knack for setting up visual atmosphere and I do hope to see him continue in this genre. As for Glen Jacobs, perhaps he can bring his old demented wrestling dentist character Isaac Yankem back to life and take another run at the big screen!

Far and Away

Critics and the general publike alike took some mighty fine pot-shots at this strange little piece of work from Ron Howard and while I won't way it wasn't justified I will state the film is far better than most will have you think. For starters, let's get the accent business out of the way. Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman gave it their very best and at times it faltered, so bloody what. when you strip all of the politics about Ireland away and the rest of the hooplah FAR AND AWAY is a simple love story and in this case the two leads were in love and it filters through here. If you take this for what it was meant to be it works in spades, if you're looking for some starving angst ridden hyperbole then you should have watched an Alan Parker film. I found it reminded me of the style used in these sort of epics back in the 40's and 50's and hence a refreshing break from the glut of film which tend to take themselves far too seriously. Being a Ron Howard film, brother Clint has the best cameo ever and his scene alone is worth the price of rental!

The Lost Boys

This is about as good as it gets with the Eighties camp-goth genre and there a bucket loads of bloody fun to be had here. First, it's a film Joel Schumacher didn't fuck up, as in he still had a sense of humor back then and wasn't inclined to boring his viewers to the point of distraction. Second, we have Corey Haim and Corey Feldman at the pinnacle of their careers and third we have my man Kiefer Sutherland leading a pack of hoodlum vampires! Think of it as YOUNG GUNS for the cemetary crowd if you will. Not bad special effects, a bit of support work from Alex Winter who we would all come to know much better as Bill S. Preston Esq. in BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE and Schumacher left it up to two time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest to add an air of credibility to the whole thing. One of the best offerings of the time period and it's worth noting Kiefer wears those bike gloves throughout to cover the cast on his broken arm which I'm sure he didn't do while intoxicated as I've never seen Kiefer take a drink....he does look might rad with those fangs and contacts though hence why THE LOST BOYS was a hit with both genders,

The Best of Super Dave Osborne

These Bob Einstein skits taking the piss out of the daredevil craze of the Seventies are a bit of a stretch entertainment wise if you weren't there to watch them in the Eighties. I personally have a lot of fun with them in much the same way I enjoy Mr. Bill. This collection features a few classics such as the motorized bull fight and the slam-dunk machine. May amuse a few new comers but mainly for the old school.


Most prints of this 1931 Universal classic clock in at just over seventy minutes and when looking at it one will be amazed at just how much ground they manage to cover in such a short amount of time. This is another where books and books have been written and all I can really say is that having seen this one easily over a hundred times in my life it still is capable of entertaining and captivating my attention. The scene where the Monster drowns the little Maria girl, played by Marilyn Harris who would also be used in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, is still one of the most powerful from that era of horror and the Jack Pierce make-up concept for the Monster is still the standard by which all other versions are judged. Yes, it is hard to fathom how any of these films managed to scare anybody but like so many things they must be taken in their own context. FRANKENSTEIN is the film that made both Boris Karloff and James Whale stars and will always hold a dear spot in film lover's hearts forever.

The Queen

I suppose it would help to be from England to get the importance of this time in the recent Royal Family's life. I rememer many of my London mates at the pub just being mortified at the death of Lady Diana something rather lost on me. THE QUEEN deals with this period in time and I've no idea if it is truthful or not but as an examination of politics and family dynamics it is superb. Helen Mirren becomes Queen Elizabeth II in amazing fashion and well earned her Oscar. Perhaps a bit slow at times for some, THE QUEEN does stand out as an amazing docudrama and well deserves the patience required.

The Mist


I have many problems with this film and the first is with director Frank Darabont. After his work with THE GREEN MILE and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION one can expect him to know what he's doing and in THE MIST is sure seems at times he doesn't. One scene stands out in particualr and this is at the loading dock in the back of the supermarket. This is where we first see one of the beasties, in this case a bunch of tentacles, and I was gobsmacked at how this was directed. Slow, no proper use of stingers, no scare and just drawn out dull and I kept asking myself what the bloody hell is Darabont doing here?!?!?!?!? This is monster film 101 stuff and if he was trying to be clever by prolonging the sequence it didn't work, as a matter of fact the whole film doesn't work. CGI ghoulies galore a scary film do not make and by the time we get to the ending, which is by far one of the best in ages in a Stephen King adapted film, you simply don't care and truth be told is you only care when the religious nutbar lady gets the bullet between the eyes. I hate to say this but I would have loved to have seen James Cameron direct this in the ALIENS fashion, it would have been a super dust-up and I feel he would have made better use of that King trademark which is taking the everyday ordinary and turning it into a nightmare and THE MIST is a nightmare alright, just not the kind you want to spend money or time on. Shame on you know better!

Fritz the Cat

For sure this is a classic in the underground "comix" world and is by far the best and really the only proper film adaptation from that heady time of the late Sixties/early Seventies. Sadly creator Robert Crumb was causing troubles for the producers and he did not contribute to the script which is a shame as much of Fritz's character is lost in the Ralph Bakshi translation. Still, FRITZ THE CAT does capture the mood of the era and sure as hell manages to deal with the hot topics of the time, drugs, race relations, feminism, violence against women, more drugs, sex, police brutality, more drugs, rock & roll and more sex. I half figure it was the portrayal of cops as pigs and black people as crows that earned this animated feature the first X-rating in motion picture history though the violence, sex and drug use certainly helped. It was a box office smash earning another first as being an independant animated feature to break the hundred million mark. While slow at times and uneven in pacing, aside from his early SPIDER-MAN cartoons this is Bakshi's finest work. For those old enough to remember that is THE ELECTRIC COMPANY's Skip Hinnant doing the voice work for Fritz and keep the remote near by as you may want to rewatch what I feel to be one of the most artistic death scenes ever committed to celluloid.

Star Trek TOS-The Devil in the Dark

Joseph Pevney, who directed more television shows in his life than I can list here and even helmed an Oscar nominated film, MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES, worked on many of the now considered favorites of the STAR TREK series and this is one of them. William Shatner claims this is his all-time favorite episode which is odd as he also claims at times he's never ever seen a full show! Must be the Denny Crane character seeping though and speaking of characters, THE DEVIL IN THE DARK was important in establishing new depth to the main cast in the first season. Sadly, the budget restrictions were all too obvious when it came to the "devil" itself being the silicon based lifeform known as the Horta which looks like a giant pizza surrounded by shag carpet! It is interesting to note the Horta was actually played by Janos Prohaska who carved a carreer out for himself playing apes, monkeys and his specialty bears. This episode also provided a chance for DeForest Kelley to say what may be his most famous line in the entire series...."I'm a doctor, not a bricklayer". A fine achievement in the canon and next to THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES Pevney's best known episode.

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Accidental Tourist

Muriel Pritchett. This is the role Geena Davis took her well deserved Oscar for and it's easy to see why. Based on the Anne Tyler novel, one could argue THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST is (or was) the new zombie film. William Hurt is suited well for his role as a travel writer who lapses into an uncaring catatonic state after the loss of a child and the subsequent seperation from his wife. His acting style, which is pretty much the same no matter the role 99% of the time, works amazingly here and if I had one complaint about this film it would have to be with Kathleen Turner who for some reason seems out of place as the estranged wife. Where she fails, Davis succeeds and excels! It would be easy to pass this one off as just another chick flick with a capital C but it would be a mistake. Just because it deals with emotions doesn't mean it has to be boring and weepy. This is one trip you will most certainly want to take!

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

Everybody should see this 1978 now cult classic bit of nonsense at least once in their lifetimes. The acting is barely passable, the budget was mostly used by accident when they crashed a helicopter by mistake, the premise is ludicrous and all of this adds up to great campy fun....and no, the film does NOT take itself seriously as some folks mistakenly believe which, with a title like ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES leads me to believe such people under this impression need Prozac or shock therapy. Look for Dana Ashbrook in his first on-screan appearance as a little boy on a boat.....he would later come to be known as Bobby Briggs on TWIN PEAKS.

Guess Who

In most cases you can depend on Berni Mac to be entertaining and I don't mind Ashton Kutcher at all but this dreadful reworking of the 1967 GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER is just freakin' awful.


I supoose it seemed like a good idea to Gus Van Sant but for the life of me I can't figure out why and just for the record, Vince Vaughn ain't no Anthony Perkins and Anne Heche sure as hell ain't no Janet Leigh!

American Gangster

OK, while there was nothing wrong to speak of in this Ridley Scott look at the criminal side of Harlem and police corruption in the late Sixties/early Seventies I'm still unsure what the big fuss was about. Sure, it was good and Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe were entertaining as always but there was nothing really special about it and we've seen it all before in one form or another. There is a brutal drug lab raid scene worth noting but other than that it was your average gangster/cop film.....good...but average.

Smultronstallet (Wild Strawberries)

It was just over fifty years ago when Ingmar Bergman unleashed this masterpiece of a life reflected on the world and one can seriously argue cinema has never been the same since. To my knowledge there are two book out there on this one alone not to mention how many thesis papers have been written on it. As a work it is perhaps one of the most easily accessed of his films. The story is simple, a man in old age reflects back on his life through a series of dreams, visions and dreams within dreams. Though Bunuel used similar devices in his work it is Bergman who is acknowledged as perfecting them. Required viewing for all major film students this is suitable for all audiences though the Swedish language may throw you off at first and this is certainly one where you will want to unplug the phone, draw the curtains and lock the door.

Twelfth Night: Or What You Will

I've never been a fan of this play and despite the great cast here, including Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter, I can't say I'm a fan of this film either.


Come the fall it will be 30 years since this was released and while, like so, so, so many films I blurb here there has been much written and said concerning it. I will weigh in with these thoughts, the first being next to shower theme from PSYCHO, HALLOWEEN has the best known theme song, Jamie Lee Curtis took the scream queen to a whole new level in her feature debut and the film itself reinvented the slasher genre. Also, to this day I still find it a gas the mask Michael Myers wears was a modified Captain Kirk/William Shatner one. Ol' Billy manages to star in films he doesn't even show up for! Another great thing about HALLOWEEN is the major gaffe at the end where you can clearly see Myers walking backwards UP A RAMP to fall from the balcony. A very important piece of work to be sure!

Nikita (la femme Nikita)

Never mind the wretched American remake or the ill fated television series based on this classic of modern French cinema, stick with this baby and be prepared to be stunned. Razor sharp action thriller from Luc Besson about a female convict turned government assassin NIKITA will simply blow your socks off. Anne Parillaud it sheer perfection in the lead role bringing depth to her work most actresses would just kill to have. Great script with gut wrenching violence to top it off look for a small role with Jean Reno in what may have been the origin of his part as Leon in THE PROFESSIONAL.

The Forgotten Woman

The response Deepa Mehta received to WATER prompted the making of this documentary looking at the modern problems of the widows in India, of which there are millions, all livingt in poverty and without status. It`s a mind blowing figure and when you consider this is the 21st century and people are living in and under these conditions it`s stunning. Thus, it is interesting and a testament to Dilip Mehta (brother of Deepa) and his journalistic skills how he was able to let the politics stand to the side and allow the humanity of his subjects come to the front and allow their voices to be heard. This is what moved me the most, women of different ages and for the most part they all still had hope. There is a lesson for many in the West to learn from this. THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN is not only beautiful in visual style it will both warm and break your heart at the same time and is most certainly one of the most powerful documentaries you will ever see.


Those who are fans of James Spader's work on BOSTON LEGAL will be well served to hunt down this obscure gem of a raunchy film. Spader plays a lawyer with some sexual problems of a deviant nature who hires a new secretary, amazingly played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, who has more than her own share of problems. As a matter of fact, every character gracing the screen has a problem and this is where SECRETARY succeeds where so many films fail...character development. Gyllenhaal's treatment of Lee Holloway should have garnered her an Oscar nod and it's one of the most compelling characters I've seen on screen in a good while. Granted, it was a 2002 release and there was plenty of stiff competition not to mention most don't know this film even exists. Spader looks like he's auditioning for the role of Alan Shore in this one though I suspect even Shore would not be involved in the S&M antics that E. Edward Grey does. SECRETARY also gives Jeremy Davies a chance to do that weird quirky thing he does in all of his work and it compliments the rest of the cast perfectly. Smart, tense, warped and sexy as oh Hell this is a definate one for the strong of heart.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I have to say I'm a big fan of Ian McEwan's novels and I pretty much thought I could watch Keira Knightley in damn near anything but I sat through this sucker TWICE and it bored the living shit out of me both times so you might be best to look for an opinion on this one though I will say it DID deserve the Oscar it won for BEST SCORE.