Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Rodan (Sora no daikaiju Radon)

I still find it hard to wrap my head my head around this one being over fifty years old now as it was a childhood fave, then again, I'm not too far from fifty myself and there may be the problem. Rodan is an interesting entry to the Japanese monster collection in that it has a neat twist to it in the writing department, other than that it's a traditional offering with boat loads of Japanese cities being laid to waste and such. One bit of important trivia is that George Takei does most of the English voice-over work, this being years before he would garner fame as Sulu on Star Trek.


Ah yes, Mark Lester.....the director who brought us ROLLER BOOGIE and CLASS OF 1984. Well, in this case it was 1984 and he proceeded to make a right royal stink-bomb out of one of Stephen King's great early works. How a film with Martin Sheen and George C. Scott could be this bad still amazes me and it says something when a nine year old Drew Barrymore acts circles around the entire cast. On her strength alone FIRESTARTER is worth watching...maybe for the cheesy pyro effects at the end otherwise avoid unless for nostalgic reasons only.

Monday, June 16, 2008

R.I.P. Stan Winston

A horrid loss to the world of special effects and the cinema overall. A pioneer, an innovator and a true modern legend, may he be happy and content in the big theme park in the sky.

Eye of the Beholder

Stephan Elliott had already carved an eccentric little niche out for himself with WELCOME TO WOOP WOOP and THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT by the time he got to releasing this brain twister in 1999. So, it was no surprise to me when it drew every little prententious film school twit, director wannabe art fuck snob out of the woodwork and I swear I was tempted to bitch-slap more idiots who droned on and on and on for hours about just what the hell EYE OF THE BEHOLDER is all about. I shan't make the same mistake with you here. All you need to know is Ewan McGregor is the star here despite equal billing going to Ashley Judd. Maybe she deserved it though I thought (here I go, sounding just like those morons I despise so) Kaitlin and Anne-Marie Brown were the real marque players here. Many felt the use of K.D. Lang was wrong....she worked for me but I will say Genevieve Bujold was pretty much wasted. A mention also has to go out to 90210'er Jason Priestley who sure does a bang-up job of shedding his teenie bopper image in this one. As a said before, a brain twister, damn serious one at that!

The Rookie

One can't forget that great line delivered by Tom Hanks in A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, "there is no crying in baseball". It may be true for the game itself but when it comes to baseball films I can't think of any genre more apt to make the eyes misty. Sure, I cry when King Kong dies and when Spock buys the big Vulcan dust bowl in the sky in WRATH OF KHAN I blubber like a baby but everything else...nothing doing....except for baseball films and here I find THE ROOKIE to be the worst of them. Perhaps this is because I remember when this dream of Jimmy Morris was realized and I have to say it`s starting to make me feel old when they`re making films about sports history and it just so happens to have occured within my recent memory! I could go on and on about this film but I won`t. Dennis Quaid is in his best form here and I must say after sitting through all five season of SIX FEET UNDER it`s weird to see Rachel Griffiths playing a regular old "sane" mom. Well paced, superbly scripted with oodles and oodles of that good old baseball "never give up" gusto we all need to boost us up from time to time, don't be the least bit surprised when you notice a tear or two after seeing this one!

Monster House

Another from the animation glut of 2006 this at least has an interesting premise and some genuine spooks and laughs to go with it. Hell, it was good enough to get first time director Gil Kenan the Oscar nomination for best animated feature and in a year with so many other films of this ilk out there that's saying something. All kinds of great voice work cameos but by far the best is Steve Buscemi as Nebbercracker! So odd sexual innuendos has some parent groups up in arms so if you planned this as one for the rugrats you may wish to screen it first.

The Thirteenth Floor

There was quite the advance buzz about this one back in the day as it is based on the Daniel F. Galouye novel SIMULACRON-3 which was published in 1964 and is one of the first to deal with the concept of virtual reality. No doubt Galouye had read the work of Philip K. Dick and I'm pretty sure William Gibson has been slightly influenced by both of these gentlemen. Sadly, when the film was released it wnt straight into the shitter with the result being poor director Josef Rusnak wouldn't direct again until the last couple of years and the fact so many of his projects seem to be in perpetual "post production" has me concerned. It's sad too as I like his styling and THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR is a great buffet of styles jumping back and forth between dimension and timescapes as presented in the computer world. Strong on the science-fiction but just as much a good old fashioned detective story do your best to try this one on for size whilst wide awake. If you pay attention there are some very neat side observations and issues which make this a fun ride. Craig Bierko and Gretchen Mol are fine in their respective leads but the real fun is in the hands of Vincent Donofrio and Armin Mueller-Stahl. A good mind-bender with some great sexy heat, THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR will surprise you despite the fact it really has nothing to do with a thirteenth floor at all unless you consider the floor is there even if they say it isn't.


It is a testament to the many talents of David Mamet when he can take basic material and turn it into something fresh and enjoyable. On the surface there is nothing special about HEIST. Sure, it has a star studded cast of Gen Hackman, Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo (who, by the way, is bloody excellent here!) and we expect them to entertain, however, it is the little things which make this film so satisfying. Subtle use on camera angles, off kilter facial expressions and understated support from Rebecca Pidgeon and magician Ricky Jay, they all add up to take a premise we've all seen before and make it smell as enticing as the interior of a brand new car. Overlooked for sure but well worth the time of day if the bandit genre is to your liking.

Beverly Hills Ninja

This was one of the late Chris Farley's final films and it's a shame it doesn't do him better justice. The title tells you all needed to figure out what this haphazzard strung together collection of skits is all about. Oddly enough the funniest bits come from "straight-man" Robin Shou who not only provides some fine martial-arts scenes but some great laughs as well. Chris Rock brings a few chuckles to the mix but it is my man Billy Connolly who steals the film in a sadly brief but super funny cameo. Not the best work from director Dennis Dugan who is kicking the box-offoce right now with YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN but you may find it useful for the kiddies.

Wild Bill

Legends of the wild West seem to always have a neverending shelf-life in Hollywood and here in this Walter Hill directed take Jeff Bridges does the honors of the larger than life Wild Bill Hickok and it's a dman good thing too because if Bridges wasn't here the film isn't really worth watching. There is something about his style and presentation which makes him an actor who can carry anything. Sure, Ellen Barkin is great as Calamity Jane and the narration provided by John Hurt's Charley Prince character is a nice touch but I have to say I take issues with David Arquette as Jack McCall and I'm not entirely sure why. He brings his A-game to the project and is more than capable of expressing the back-shooting worm-like nature of McCall but I can't help but think this would have been a thousand times better has they given the role to somebody else. Still, enough grit and gun play to satiate the die-hards with just the right blend of sensitivity in motives to make WILD BILL an above average offering.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back to School

I find the older I get the more I enjoy Rodney Dangerfield flicks and this one is certainly one of the better. On the surface it seems to suffer from the same formula treatment many of the mid-Eighties comedies did and most still do to this day. Bad acting, poor premise and a bunch of skit gags pieced together. BACK TO SCHOOL works on a different level if you take the time to look and it worth it just for the Kurt Vonnegut Jr. cameo which is truly priceless. Early work for Robert Downey Jr., who is a riot, and Terry Farrell and it's great to see Star Trek veteran Sally Kellerman in a feature role and we even get a performance from film score juggernaut Danny Elfman and OINGO BOINGO and this is just scratching the surface...your eyes will just pop going...look at him...look at her....truly an eclectic cast to say the least. Still, it all comes down to Dangerfield and without him the thing would have been utter crap. I guess it's true...he didn't get any respect until it was pretty much too late.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Star Trek TOS-The Ultimate Computer

Not one of my favorite episodes from the second season though it does involve many of the "behind-the-scenes" heavies of that period. John Meredyth Lucas, who also wrote and produced throughout the original run does a fine job directing this ode of a computer genius doing a trial run of a computer capable of running a starship on it's own. This is all well and good until it decides to damn near wipe out some other ships in a simulation run. William Marshall of BLACULA fame stands duty as the computer genius Dr. Richard Daystrom who is given the nod in later series as the namesake of a University but it's an expectedly dry performance. Standard fare here, good, but standard.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Scared to Death

this 1947 film was one of Christy Cabanne's last films. Amazingly enough he started directing them in 1912 so back it was considered one hell of a career! Sadly, this film is often looked at as nothing but a low budget numkber for Bela Lugosi to do his thing in and while I won't go as far as to say it's a good film it sure as hellis an interesting one. As the story is rather unimportant I will say it is narrated by a dead woman, it has what could be a Keystone cop, a nosey reporter, a mad Doctor and then we have Lugosi...who is....well...Lugosi running around with a "little person" for no particular reason. Said "little person" would just so happen to be Angelo Rositto who was prominently featured in FREAKS, would be better known to most as MASTER of MASTERBLASTER in the MAD MAX BEYOND THE THUNDERDOME film and made films right up to his death in 1991. As I said, the story is of no import and makes no sense whatsoever but it is entertaining and is the only film to STAR Lugosi in colour (he has a bit part in an earlier colour feature) and that alone makes it worth a look.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


A thousand somehow seems like a small number but it has taken me almost two years to reach it! It was the idea of Candy Minx to start this and when she set it up I honestly had no idea exactly what I wanted to do with it. As little thoughts and blurbs regarding concerts and films started to appear so did people wanting to read. When faced with a jammed apartment full of videos and DVD's it became clear it was time to do some serious pruning yet I had spent all of this money and time on what now appears to be a useless asset....what could one do to get a last bang for the buck as it were and the answer was to view them one last time, write a little blurb for the sake of history and for my own memory as I grow old and senile and then out the door with the damn things.
So......here we are......what you find are not reviews as such as much as thoughts, observations, old triva and a short opinion. If you want a thesis or some shit like that....buy a book or go tgo fucking IMDB!
Yes, you will find typos and spelling mistakes as their is, for the life of me I don't know why, an edit-spellcheck function within the BLOGGER system. People say I can write, check and import to which the Ludite in me says bugger right the frig off....it's enough damn work keeping up with this bloody thing as it is without making it more complicated.
Here's to the next thousand and a heart felt thank you to you regulars out there in cyber land...you know who you are and I luvs ya!

Dr. K.

The Hobbit

This 1977 made for television adaptation of the Tolkein novel stands out as a work of love by those involved but sadly does not stand the test of time. The animation is above average for a TV feature but the pacing is off and the songs are a many. Granted, we have some serious vocal talent on display including John Huston and Otto Preminger but the real treat is the great Thurl Ravenscroft who sadly was wasted. Interesting as a curio but don't make the mistake of trying to entertain the kiddies with it because when it doesn't scare the shit out of them it will bore them to death.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

Joseph Sargent seem to have been directing forever. He worked on the original LASSIE and STAR TREK series and he just recently did the television remake of SYBIL. This 1974 offering has garnered quite a cult following over the years and this may be on the strength of the all-star cast. We're talking Robert Shaw and Martin Balsam and Walter Matthau who looks to be having one hell of a time keeping a straight face throughout. A simple story of a group hijacking a subway train and holding it's passengers hostage for one million dollars. Tightly scripted, this makes for one tense, though funny, bit of Seventies cinema and should be seen at least once if for nothing more than Matthau. Not so odd but upon release the film only did well in cities with subways...go figure!

Scream and Scream Again

I've always enjoyed the work of director Gordon Hessler regardless of the opinion of those who think he was just another AIP hack. His films are just so off the wall you can't help but get sucked in by them and SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN is the worst of them involiving a swinging psycho who likes to chop up nubile bar patrons, mad scientists, government plots and body snatching and, well, hell, anything else you'd care to throw into the mix. One word of warning, don't be fooled by the "stars' here. Vincent Price and Christopher Lee are only on screen together for a brief time and Peter Cushing does not appear with them which seems a horrid waste to me and as it is they maybe have fifteen minutes combined of total screen time and I most certainly could have done with seeing more of Yutte Stensgaard. Alas, it is a curiosity to say the least and worth a look should the opportunity arise.

Big Night

Despite what some feel to be a bummer of an ending (I didn't find that) BIG NIGHT is one of the most heart warming films you will find. A simple story of two Italian brothers, Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub, who are at odds over how to run their restaurant. This is about all I wish to tell you you about the story as it's best left to be disocvered for youself but allow me to say it's as rich as the food these two prepare. As marvelous as Shalhoub and Tucci are it is Ian Holm who steals the film in a performance which will surprise you on many levels. Also offering some fine support are Isabella Rossellini and Minnie Driver who delivers some of her finest work here and the ladies will enjoy seeing latin heartthrob Marc Anthony in an amazingly reserved role. BIG NIGHT was also partly written and directed by Tucci leading one to believe he may very well have a grand future in this respect when he decides to put acting aside which has me excited about seeing his BLIND DATE released this year. BIG NIGHT indeed and big fun for sure.