Wednesday, October 29, 2008

From Hell

Many seem to take great pleasure in bashing this Hughes Brothers adaptation of the Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell graphic novel and on some levels they have good reason too. The casting is buggered, the overall feel inconsistant and the accents wretched but none of this means it isn't an enjoyable piece of work. Sure, the great Victorian conspiracy theory surrounding the mystery of Jack the Ripper has been pretty much put to rest but it still makes for a great bit of fiction and here is where FROM HELL succeeds. Most are content to watch Johnny Depp in anything but oddly enough this is one of his weaker performances wheras it happens to be one of Heather Graham's best even if she sticks out like a china tea cup in a McDonald's! Who really makes this work is Ian Holm and at the risk of a spoiler here I have to say his final scene in FROM HELL is one for the ages. For him to appear in such a naked and debased form is a testament to his skill in the craft and speaking of craft, you will find the most authentic depiction of Masonic ritual here ever put to film. It is because of this aspect many have called this a blatant rip-off of MURDER BY DECREE and this is totally unfair. Yes, the elements explored are the same and yes, MURDER BY DECREE by far the better film but FROM HELL takes it in a different direct and thus must be judged on it's own accord. A special mention must be made of Robbie Coltrane who turns in a wicked little performance and is always a pleasure to see.

Mad Max

By the time many of us in North America saw MAD MAX it had already begun to look dated which it is why it is surprising to see how well this film holds up as it comes up to the 30 year mark. Not only would this be the film to pretty much introduce Mel Gibson to the world it marks the first feature of director George Miller and if somebody back in 1979 had told me he would go on to makes the likes of LORENZO'S OIL, BABE or HAPPY FEET and would have though they were bloody insane. Though Miller says he was influenced by A BOY AND HIS DOG for this picture it is alarming to note just how similar in feel it is to DIRTY HARRY. Solid from start to finish and even the odd spots of overacting work here making this truly deserving of the status as a modern classic.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Def-Con 4

I've always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with this film. The hate part is pretty simple....damn near all of my teenage friends were in the bloody thing and I wasn't! That aside, it's a smart piece of work considering the budget restrictions. Filmed back home in Nova Scotia DEF-CON 4 is another entry to the "end of the world" series and while offering nothing truly original it is an honest take on the subject and has a genuine feel to it overall. Maury Chaykin by far steals the film as a cranky old survivor and the late Tim Choate of BABYLON 5 fame brings some power to the film. Director Paul Donovan, still a heavy hitter with Salter Street Films (where the foam pick-axe from MY BLOODY VALENTINE is rumored to still hang and which Richard C. Slaughter and I have still not broken in to steal!), carried on from here to be a major part of the LEXX series and fans of this may wish to look up DEF-CON 4 for this reason alone. One last thing I should mention about this film.....the Harrington brothers weren't acting!

Leaving Las Vegas

Here is another great little "feel good" film for the weekend, so much so in fact the poor guy who wrote the novel it was based on killed himself two weeks into shooting! Not that I begrudge Nicolas Cage anything but I still have no idea why he garnered an Oscar for his work here as I tend to feel he didn't really pull off the chronic alcoholic part at all. Elisabeth Shue on the other hand, who was nominated but didn't win, was utterly perfect in her part as the prostitute with a heart of gold and if you watch carefully you will see this is HER story and not Cage's at all. I will give him credit for the scene when he suffers the DT's after the casino incident and subsequent black out but truth be told as dark as many felt this film to be it came NOWHERE even close to the reality of the alcoholics life. All of that said, I will not dispute the fact it is a good piece of film making and Mike Figgis has much to be proud of with this one. Look for some great cameos throughout from the likes of Carey Lowell, Valeria Golino and CSI: Miami's Emily Procter in her big screen debut. I will also say it was a nice touch having Richard Lewis in a scene at the start and if one wanted something more authentic they would do well to hunt down his DRUNKS.


Looking for a nice little "feel good" film for the weekend? This ain't it! Darren Aronofsky has a penchant for making extremely dark films. He followed PI up with REQUIEM FOR A DREAM which could very well be the most depressing film ever made. He is now receiving critical praise for THE WRESTLER which is poised to put Mickey Rourke back on the A-list and is currently working on the remake of ROBOCOP. With PI, we are introduced to a mathematician played by Sean Gullette who is working with chaos theory to predict the stock market. Of course, the govenment comes looking for him as do a group of secular Jewish folks obsessed with the kabbalah and all the while the poor man is going insane under the weight of his own genius. Starkly shot in balck and white and edited in a truly neurotic style PI will disturb you on many levels. I would be tempted to say double feature it with A BEAUTIFUL MIND but this is not a feel good film at is however one excellent piece of work....just make sure you are in the right frame of spirit to watch it.

The Night Stalker

This 1972 made for television movie arguably changed this course of horror history. This pilot would spin into a short lived series, twenty episodes, starring Darren McGavin as the down-on-his-luck reporter Carl Kolchak who has a knack for running up against the darker elements of the night. Here, we have a well crafted Richard Matheson script which follows Kolchak as he hunts down a modern day vampire in Las Vegas. Though the character of said vampire is lacking the hard boiled detective like demeanor of McGavin more than makes up for it. It was always obvious this series influenced X-FILES creator Chris Carter, so much in fact McGavin was used in two episodes in a great fashion which with a bit of imagination would have you think Kolchak had changed his name and become am FBI agent, if he wasn't all along that is. It's a nice sidebar in the X-FILES mythos. THE NIGHT STALKER is easy enough to track down, just make sure you do yourself the service of watching the movie before exploring the series.

Stir of Echoes

Let's get one thing straight right from the get go.......STIR OF ECHOES is NOT some SIXTH SENSE rip off! It was an absolute crime this film happened to be released right on the heels of Shamma-lamma-ding-dong's blockbuster and thus was overlooked and written off by most. Alas, said Shamma-lamma stole, and still does, most of his good ideas from the greart Richard Matheson who was writing the stuff before Shamma was even born. David Koepp, who scripted the latest Indiana Jones film, adaped this 1958 Matheson novel with stunning results. Kevin Bacon is simply perfect as the working class man who after being hypnotized finds himself as a receiver of messages from the got it...he sees dead people! As a side note, the producers decided to add a wake-up call at the end of the hypno scenes in the film as memebers of the test audience actually fell asleep! No doubt a bit of urban legend or a good marketing ploy but the story still persists. The great Illena Douglas almost steals the show with her characters zingers and LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT star Kathryn Erbe is fantastic as the long suffering wife and mother......that would be mother of Zachary David Cope, the spooky kid who, yes, again, sees friggin' dead people. What makes STIR OF ECHEOS so special, other than the fact it packs some serious "BOO" action is the's a solid story from start to finish. A little skimpy on the gore for my tastes but it stilll has enough atmosphere to make this an absolute must see.

Star Trek TOS: The Corbomite Maneuver

Aside from the two initial pilots this was the first episode filmed even though it was the tenth to be aired and thus it is also the first appearance of DeForest Kelley as Dr. McCoy. A tightly written story has the Enterprise encountering an alien creature by the name of Balok who is about to destroy them for ignoring a warning beacon. The story is an important one as it explores and sets up the deeper character of Captain Kirk and likewise McCoy. As simple as the special effects are this is one instance when they work like a charm and the ending makes this one of the best episodes in the series. Ted Cassidy of Lurch famein THE ADDAMS FAMILY fame voices the menacing Balok and Clint Howard gives one of his most memorable performances here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Buxom Blonde Bimbettes Volume 7

Not sure how this ended up in my collection but it wasn't bad. Certainly some great displays of talent though I felt the score was lacking and the lighting needed a bit of work.

Halloween with the Addams Family

John Astin, Carolyn Jones and the rest of the cast were brough back for what was meant to be the pilot for a new ADDAMS FAMILY series hence why this is sometimes known as HALLOWEEN WITH THE NEW ADDAMS FAMILY. It was not picked up and this remains as the only episode in colour and truth be told it was much better in black and white. While it's great to see the old gang back together along with two new kids the jokes come off as being as old as some of the actors appear. There are still a few laughs to be had but this really is one for the kiddies or old fans of the show.


Though this looks like a two boxes of Kleenex, straight forward chick flick there is enough of a story in ANGIE to make it stand out from the normal run of the mill. For starters, Geena Davis is just bloody great as the title character. Oddly enough Madonna was supposed to play the role and I can't see that as being a good thing. The second thing would be the exploration of adoption issues and how it is handled here. Stephen Rea shows up to play a downright bastard of a prick and a young a thin James Gandolfini shows off the talents he would put to such good use in THE SOPRANOS. Also on hand is fellow SOPRANO Aida Turturro who has some great one-liners here. Strong enough piece of work to please both the men and women.


I certainly feel no need to ramble on about this classic dark comedy from Tim Burton. It is probably Michael Keaton's best role, Gena Davis and Alec Baldwin are simply great as are Winona Ryder and Catherine O'Hara. The late Michael McDowell, who also scripted THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, gave Burton a truly wonderful story to work with and though some of the effects, never mind that it took the Oscar for Best Makeup, appear substandard the film as a whole is still pure magic.

Ma and Pa Kettle at Home

Even though MA AND PA KETTLE AT WAIKIKI was the last to be released this would be the final in the comedy franchise to be filmed and would also be the last acting gig for Percy Kilbride. This one finds them on the farm with a big city magazine judge coming to determine who will win a scholarship. Of course Charles Lamont, who directed most of the MA AND PA films as well as the Abbott and Costello features, delivers a picture chock full of one liners and prat fall gags all of it good wholesome fun though I must say his portrayal of Native Americans would not go over too well in this P.C. enviroment. Though certainly dated these are still well crafted enough to entertain even the most jaded of modern video weened kiddies and Majorie Main as Ma will win over even the coldest of hearts.

A Beautiful Mind

Ron Howard well deserved the Oscars he won for Best Picture and Best Director for A BEAUTIFUL MIND and despite the fine body of work he has produced to date this may well stand out as his greatest accomplishment. The story of the brilliant mathematician John Nash's descent into a schizophrenic nightmare and recovery is both heart wrenching and warming at the same time, it's just a shame it isn't entirely true. Then again, if Akiva Goldsman had stuck to the truth as laid out in Sylvia Nasar's biography of Nash we would have had lots of nice European footage and Ed Harris would have been playing an alien instead of a government spook! As it is, Goldsman works true magic with the way he adapts the elements of Nash's life into just over two hours and under the watchful eye of Howard we see a genuis of film making comparable to that of Nash's work with numbers. Russell Crowe simply delivers the performance of a life time and I'm still shocked he didn't take the Oscar for it especially as in my opinion Jennifer Connelly, as fine as her work here was, didn't quite deserve hers. An all around stellar piece of work and it will no doubt hold up fifty years from now. A special mention must be made of James Horner's haunting score and also to the fact this is to my knowledge the only film of Ron's not to have a cameo from brother Clint.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

Easily the best and certainly the most famous of Don Knotts' films, THE GHOST AND MR. CHICKEN may look and feel like it was released in 1966 but it still packs some fine laughs and even a few good chills. It is surprisingly complex in it's construction and execution and in my mind, as much as it is loved it is still underrated. While Don Knotts is at his very best it certainly doesn't hurt to have the talents of Dick Sargent, Robert Cornthwaite, Charles Lane and Miss November 1958, Joan Staley to work around. Alan Rafkin brought his years of television directing experience to good purpose here though it does at times come across as a made-for-TV production. Vic Mizzy provides a very recognizable score here and it works to perfection with the subject material at hand. Well worth digging up this Halloween season.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Rospo Pallenberg did one heck of a job taking the classic Thomas Malory interpretation of the Authurian legend allowing director John Borman to bring this one in at just under two and a half hours which was no small task. This then and future all-star cast present this classic story in a true visual fairy tale style and while it may look dated, which is odd when you consider it is supposed to be set in the dark ages, it only does so when compared to the likes of THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and such. Nigel Terry almost seems outclassed along the likes of Nicol Williamson and Helen Miren and when you have Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne in the mix it's easy to see why. Still, EXCALIBUR is the most true to soul adaptation we have of King Arthur and his knights of round and unless somebody is prepared to do a proper four of five hour high budget version it will remain so for some time.

The Naked Country

I've not read the Morris L. West novel this picture was adapted from and if it is anywhere near as boring as the film was I strongly doubt I ever will. THE NAKED COUNTRY has it's moments as it tells the tale of a rancher in Australia who ends up having some serious problems with the natives. One might think of it as a ZULU for one. John Stanton is engaging enough but the pacing is such that one will have a bloody hard time keeping their eyes open to see it through.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Deadly Friend

Where have we seen this idea before..... loved one is lost and mad scientist brings them back to life with dire consequences. In the case of DEADLY FRIEND we have Matthew Laborteaux bringing back his beloved creation BB, a robot voiced by the great Charles Fleischer, AND Kristy Swanson long before she would bring BUFFY to the world. It is by no means one of the better offerings from Wes Craven but it does have moments and to the best of my knowledge is the only film to have a "death by basketball" scene. Silly stuff but will keep the stoned gore hounds happy.

A Room with A View

Though recently adapted for a televised mini-series, this Merchant/Ivory production of E. M. Forster's romantic novel will no dount remain the standard. Perhaps the best know and loved of their films this was also the one which would introduce Helena Bonham Carter to the world and what an introduction it was. Surrounded by an amazing cast of professionals there was simply no way she could fail here. Julian Sands is actually effective in the role of the young truth seeker, Daniel Day-Lewis gives his very best as well but it is the likes of Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Denholm Elliott who raise this to an entirely different level. To say the visuals a re stunning would be an understatement. A gifted film for the romantic at heart and not to missed.

The Reflecting Skin

I suppose the highest compliment I can pay this one would be this is the time of horror film I would have made. With THE REFLECTING SKIN Philip Ridley combines his many skills as a painter, writer, director into what is truly a moving picture and let me tell you it is no pretty sight. Mind you, it is in fact a very pretty sight having been shot in Alberta it seems at times a cross between a David Lynch film and a Van Gogh. There are several stories going on, none of which I care to discuss here as it will ruin the effect but I will say it is an early work of Viggo Mortensen and is certainly a showcase piece for Lindsay Duncan recently ROME fame and Robert Koons damn near steals the film as Sheriff Ticker. While I call this a horror film this is not one of the things jumping out of the dark and going boo! No, with this the darkness is everywhere, right there out in the light and it seeps through everything. There are images and events in THE REFLECTING SKIN you may never forget and they are put together in such a way this film could very well haunt you for the rest of your life.

An American Werewolf in London

For all of the work John Landis has done he will no doubt remembered for this, the darkest of dark comedies. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON quite literally blew our collective minds when it hit the screens in 1981 mixing gut splitting laughs with amazing gut spilling visuals. The work of Rick Baker here was in fact so fine it earned him the Oscar, the first time the Academy had presented the award for this category. The werewolf, by the way, was based on his dog Bosco! The team of David Naughton and Griffin Dunne are top notch and Jenny Agutter was even sexier here than she was in LOGAN'S RUN. There are also some fantastic cameos, always the case in a Landis film, so keep an eye out for Frank Oz (two cameos actually), and Brian Glover and Rik Mayall playing a game of chess. Landis not only crafted an outstanding story here, he manages to present it in an amazingly lush visual style, no small feat when you consider most of it is in near darkness. Certainly one for this season but I certainly wouldn't show it to the rug rats and make sure you rent or buy a copy as to see a cut version on television would be downright criminal, punished by...oh say...a little bite to the neck?

Friday, October 17, 2008


This 1984 Milos Forman film dominated the Academy Awards and while on many levels I can understand there is one that I do not and it is the portrayal of Mozart himself. Truth be told, if had that stupid laugh Tom Hulce gave to him I imagine somebody would have cut his head off. Yes, Mozart did have a crass side and certainly liked his wine, women and song but I simply can't wrap muy head around him being the idiot he is portrayed as in AMADEUS. That aside, it is one mighty fine piece of film work and F. Murray Abraham more than deserved his Oscar for his portrayal of Salieri and though I mock the laugh Hulce uses there are moments of acting gemology he brings to the table here making this a damn fine viewing experience.

Tomorrow Never Dies

Despite all of the hyper action, the gadgets, stunts, what have you,this Bond offering ultimately left me flat. Jonathan Pryce should have been able to pull off the Ted Turner turned world bad guy character but the script was so poor it just didn't come together which would explain why Anthony Hopkins walked away from the part on supposedly the third day of shooting. Of course, it is entertaining and Pierce Brosnan finally had settled into his role. Michelle Yeoh is also fantastic to watch simply for her stunt work alone but the real eye opener is a small cameo from Gerard Butler who, up to the release of CASINO ROYALE, many felt was destined to be the new Bond...myself included. Of course we now know that Craig ain't goin' nowhere and nor should he but you can't help but wonder what a Butler Bond would have been like. Perhaps we won't have to wonder much longer because if Craig insists on continuing to bash himself up in the follow up to the upcoming QUANTUM OF SOLACE he may not live to make another!

Jennifer Eight

For sure this is a theme we've seen done and done again. Blind girl being stalked by crazy assed mo-fo in need of help from some handsome Prince Charming she can't even see. In the case of JENNIFER EIGHT that would be Uma Thurman and Andy Garcia. While no means a great film, it does manage to entertain and has at least one "jump right the fuck out of your seat" moment and we have Lance Henriksen playing a cranky old homicide detective and John Malkovich as an IA investigator which is worth the price of admission alone. Not worth going out of your way to rent but worth the while should you come across it on late night television.

Trick of the Eye (Primal Secrets)

This mess of a chick flick with a big ass "C" might engage you if you happen to be a female painter in need of a wealthy patron, which is what we get here, Meg Tilly as said painter and Ellen Burstyn, who takes over-the-top camp and drama to a level beyond even that which she displayed in THE EXORCIST, as the mentioned wealthy patron. By the time we actually get a bit of action in this story the film is coming to a literal close. Some nice visuals but ultimately like watching proverbial paint dry!

Star Trek TOS-The Man Trap

September 8th, 1966 and NBC would air Star Trek for the first time and the world would be changed forever. Yes, we all know there was a pilot before this but THE MAN TRAP would still be the one to introduce the world to Captain Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew. Mind you, not the best episode to kick things off with though we all enjoyed the shape-shifting creature involved as kids, so much so we all used to call girls "salt suckers" back in the day, innocently of course with no idea what that expression would later morph into!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Hustler

Easily one of Paul Newman's top five best films and this 1961 hard boiled tale of the "born loser" who finds is way is one that will still rivet you to this very day. George C. Scott also gives a performance to rival any of his other work and Jackie Gleason is perfectly cast as Minnesota Fats, the catalyst and nemesis in this story if you will. Aside from this massive star power we have Piper Laurie who is utterly amazing as what I'm reserved to say "the female lead" as her character is far more. She easily earned her Oscar nomination along with it would seem everybody else involved, 9 nominations with two wins out of that, amazingly none for the principal cast who were all nominated and even more shocking is the loss for best director. Robert Rossen displays and understanding of film here which should make THE HUSTLER mandatory viewing for any and all film students and his style mixed with one of the finest scripts you will ever find, performed by Hollywood legends in top form with their craft makes this one of the greatest films of all times. Look for former heavyweight champion Jake LaMotta as a bartender and be aware all pool shots by Gleason and Newman, with the exception of one (used twice-different angle) are their own!

R.I.P. Frankie Venom

Brother, if the big C can take you down then we're all in trouble. Raise some hell at that big pogo in the sky!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bad Company

This debut feature from Robert Benton certainly was a harbinger of works to come. A gut wrenching look at being young in the old West, BAD COMPANY will more than certainly shock you at times and has some interesting twists for a film of this genre. Jeff Bridges is simply stunning here but the heart of the film comes from Barry Brown who would six years after the release of this film would commit suicide. It is his troubled soul which shines through here and this mixed with strong acting all around, perfect direction and a solid story base make this one film worth going out of your way to track down. Do not, I repeat, do not read any spoilers on this one as it will ruin the overall effect this piece of work manages to achieve.

The Shawshank Redemption

I s there any sense arguing as to if this is or isn't the best adapted Stephen King story....who cares, the story is great, the film is great, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman are excellent and even if the "rain scene" has since been used to death by others...who cares. All around a fantastic message of hope and perseverance.

Girl Power

This unauthorized biography of the recently reunited and resplit SPICE GIRLS is interesting as time capsule look at the mayhem they caused back in the late 90's and as a cautionary tale of just how sordidly effective the British are at digging up old footage one would never have see the light of day.

Carlito's Way

For some reason this great character drama from Brian De Palma is for the most part overlooked these days...perhaps because it is lumped in as yet another Al Pacinio gangster related film and this is a shame. CARLITO'S WAY is a sharp look at an ex con trying to go straight and being roped back in, yet again, to a life he wants no part of. While Pacino is in total top form here it is Sean Penn who delivers a show stealing, jaw dropping performance as the crooked lawyer David Kleinfeld, so much so I'm rather surprised he didn't get an Oscar nod for it. John Leguizamo, who we recently saw with Pacino in RIGHTEOUS KILL knocks his role as Benny Blanco right the hell out of old Yankee Stadium and Viggo Mortensen turns in with a nice bit role. However, the strength here rests with Pacino and De Palma and don't be fooled into thinking this is just another SCARFACE, no, this is a whole different kettle of fish and the finale will amaze you. Well worth a first or second look.

Romeo and Juliet

One could easily argue this is the most famous and perhaps the most hated of all the works of William Shakespeare being that it was forced down the throats of more kids of Generation X than any other thing he may or may not have penned so much so it took years before many of us recovered from the trauma! Back in the day you either grabbed the Cole's notes or went on a "study date" to watch this Franco Zefferilli adaptation of the great romantic tragedy and chances are you were far more interested in trying to cop a feel than anything he or the star crossed lovers were up to on the screen! That being said, this 1968 version is and more than likely will be for some time the definitive version. The use of two relative unknowns in the lead countered by many stage veterans of the material make for an organic and honest portrayal of the story and it is this and not the DiCaprio/Danes version you should push your children to if need be. I say need be as a true live stage version, even if by a high school or amateur troupe, would be a far better way to experience the magic of Shakespeare. Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey are damn close to perfection here though I must confess the way Zeffirelli decides to present Juliet had me wanting to strangle the winey bitch thorughout a majority of the film and I'm under the impression this is not what old Billy S. had in mind. A young Michael York as Tybalt is an utter stroke of casting genius. Most important of all is how well this picture from a trechnical point of view holds up. It looks and feels so vibrant you swear you are watching a modern day motion picture which is a testament to Franco and his cinematic crew. Said it before and I'll say it again, this IS and WILL remain the definitive version.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Body of Lies

We can all be forgiven for expecting top notch work from Ridley Scott hence we can all be forgiven for feeling a tad let down by his latest offering BODY OF LIES. Many critics have been hyping it as the thinking man's action film of the year which I think is taking it a tad bit to the extreme. Yes, there are some interesting espionage points to be had here but honestly nothing we haven't seen before. Leonardo DiCaprio gives it his best here but somehow just seems wrong for the role. His strongest work, not surprisingly, comes in the form of his interaction with the "love interest" nicely played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani who they could have built a stronger character with. Russell Crowe is hardly in the film, major character, yes, but with little screen time and seems to have been casted for star power only though I will say he does one mean Beau Bridges impersonation and is a treat to watch here. All of this being said, the man who steals the flick is Mark Strong as Hani who brings a believabilty to his role just not quite seen with the others. There are small things Scott throws for credibility which is what sets him aside from many directors and I especially enjoyed his use of wild dogs throughout this picture and yes there is just enough in the way of action sequences to keep the die-hards somewhat happy. By no means a bad piece of work but sadly yet another in the long list of "wait for the DVD" offerings we've seen this year.

Friday, October 03, 2008


This one started out promising enough. Beyond low budget, this James Felix McKenney feature gives one the impression of being a cross between an early 50's Sci-Fi thriller and a video project of The Residents. It quickly turns into a mind numbing mess of poor scripting, bad acting and simply put empty calories. The whole thing would have worked as a fifteen minute short, instead it is dragged out to an hour and a half of pablum which might be entertaining if you were stoned on barbs. Though it is great to see Angus Scrimm and there are a few moments of interest, AUTOMATONS looks as feels as if it were created by just that!

Open Range

Kevin Costner does this sort of fare with great talent and it certainly doesn't hurt to add Robert Duvall to the mix. A western which leans on story rather than violence, OPEN RANGE takes it sweet time getting to the point of action and it works to it's advantage. The chemistry between Costner and Duvall is as natural as a sunset and Michael Gambon provides a wonderful nemesis here. Annette Bening is superb in the female lead as are the entire supporting cast, another for early morning or eve as the pacing will put most to sleep later at night.

Spy Game

As many are aware I've managed to fall behind in my updates here in blog-world. SPY GAME, which looks like me to just be an excuse to have Brad Pitt and Robert Redford work together, is not nearly as bad as some would have you think. Yes, it can be slow but to me this gives it the feel of those classic espionage films of the early Seventies. Tony Scott can always be counted on for a good thriller and there is a bit of fine action to be seen here but SPY GAME remains a character driven piece of work and Redford and Pitt manage to pull this off in a fashion which may leave some thinking they could have done this one in their collective sleep. Catherine McCormack fills in nicely as both the eye candy and a pivotal plot device making this one for early morning or evening but certainly not for late night as it could very well nudge you off into La-La Land.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Mr. Yink R.I.P.

These are the last photographs taken of Mr. Yink, less than 24 hours before he passed to the great field in the sky. Many of you have emailed me in private with condolence's and asking for details. Yinko died in his sleep on the morning of September the 28th. He had been declining health due to pain in his joints for a few years now but we gather his little heart simply gave out from loving too much. He was buried with his buddy and blanket under a fine oak tree at Ivanna's place in Brighton which is where he shuffled off of this mortal coil.
To say he will be missed would be a gross understatement but in my heart of hearts I know his spirit will still be there in front of the big screen where we watch all of these films and no doubt his little howl will still be heard at the real stinkers.
To all who sent thoughts and kind wishes, we thank you all from the bottom of our souls.

Vanilla Sky

It would be a mistake to simply write this one off as a remake of ABRE LOS OJOS (OPEN YOUR EYES), no, this one is even more of a mind-fuck than the original. Loaded with more pop culture references and in jokes than you could ever wrap your skull around, even AFTER multiple viewings, VANILLA SKY is one mighty complex and textured piece of work and if there is any complaint I have about it the title alone would be it. It was a buzz pharase in director Cameron Crowe's head and he was bloody determined to use it somewhere and here we have it and it has nothing at all to do with the film......and if it does I've yet to figure it out. Simply put, this is one to own and even if you are of the "I HATE TOM CRUISE" camp you will be stunned by his work here. IF FOR NO OTHER REASON, this one needs to be seen for the Time's Square sequence alone! It also doesn't hurt to have Penelope Cruz, also in the original, back in action and Cameron Diaz delivering some of her dirtiest lines ever and taking the whole "bunny boiler" concept to a completely new level. Great action, perfectly paced and guaranteed to leave you scratching your head, then again, if you're reading this blog you already know that...don't you? Just like you already know I still prefer the original!

Blood Feast

How would you like to buy insurance from a man who 45 years earlier made a living from giggle-flicks and the likes of this classic of splatter cinema. They don't call Herschell Gordon Lewis the Godfather of Gore for nothing and BLOOD FEAST was the film that earned him that title. As a piece of work it's quite easy to laugh at the use of a cow's tongue in one classic scene or such classic lines as "hey baby, I'm here, I'm not gonna let anybody hurt you" which was the first in many such "famous last words" in the realm of horror. Still, this 1963 gem, the oldest on the famous video nasties list of 80's Britain is important as a landmark in the history of splatter cinema not to mention Playboy's Miss June of 1963, Connie Mason is a riot to watch here and you'd never know from this she would continue to act right up to the early 90's and I wouldn;t be the least bit surprised if Rob Zombie doesn't manage to talk her out of retirement sometime soon. As must-see for many reasons...even if you are not a fan of the genre you will have a howl at how bad some bits truly are
now...about that life insurance.