Friday, January 30, 2009

The Gate ll: Trespassers

Tibor Takacs brings back Louis Tripp to once again open that "gate" which lets some bad ass thingies into our dimension who chase scantily clad ample breasted women about so they can fall down, scream a whole bunch and what have you. One of the said women happens to be Pamela Adlon who I'm sure would like to forget this film as much as THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE (she was a PUSSYCAT!) now that she has become a big star with CALIFORNICATION not to mention BOSTON LEGAL. In fact, she's still bound to become an even bigger star as she simply does not stop working so we can all forgive her for collecting her pay in this clunker. Besides, with films like THE GATE the fan base knows what they're getting, so what if the mass populus don't enjoy them. Takacs still keeps making films so somebody must be watching them.

Vantage Point

I've spoken to many friends about this one and the thoughts are split. Some were of the mind it's a great action thriller other had the feeling it lacked substance. I mention this becaus while VANTAGE POINT about an event as seen thought different people's perspective it is two films. The first part is tight, well presented and interesting. The second goes off into the territory of an ARCHIE comic and will have anybody with an iota of grey matter in their skull pulling their hair out. I must admit though, having William Hurt play a President we can only presume was to be George W. was, to say the least, perfect casting.

Border Incident

This 1949 film offers some mighty fine grit for the time period depicting the goings on of corruption involving Mexican farm workers and how they cross or are smuggled across the U.S. border. Early work from Ricardo Montalban is interesting but the real attraction here is Howard Da Silva who plays one mighty fine hood. The same year he received raves for his work in THE GREAT GATSBY and a few years earlier THE BLUE DAHLIA now more famous for the murder case dubbed after it. There is a torture scene in BORDER INCIDENT which will still make you wince even by modern standards and though the picture comes off as yet another piece of American propaganda it is well worth a look.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Max Payne

Another of the adapted from a video game offerings Max Payne does stand out as being a bit better than average. Mark Wahlberg does as good job here as long as he sticks to the action though I do have to say MAX PAYNE has some of the worst fight scenes I've witnessed in a long time. It's like bad wrestling when you can see they aren't hitting each other which is certainly not what you want in a film of this nature. Fortunately the gun battles are much better though there are some slow motion scenes which drag on a tad. Beau Bridges provides good support as does Mila Kunis and recent Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is always a welcome add on. Shot partly in Toronto we once again get to see the old unused portion of the Bay/Bloor subway station and be sure to watch right to the end of the final credits to see the set up for the sequel.

Straightheads (Closure)

I'm not even sure this one saw theatrical release here in North America and I find that odd as it stars Gillian Anderson in a decidedly NON-Scully role. This Dan Reed directed film clocks in at 80 minutes and considering he works mainly for British television this is a good thing. A very odd and violent take on the revenge film this has aspects of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE and to see Anderson take on such a role is a bit of a shock. Be warned, this little number will get inside your head and I hope we see more work on this level from Gillian in the future.

Death Race


How can there be spoilers for a vehicle like DEATH RACE! Well, the trailers make no mention of the original DEATH RACE 2000 so I was worried they just lifted the concept from the DEATH RALLY video game. Turns out there are enough elements of the original here to satisfy the old fans and win a whole generation of new ones. Frankenstein is back in a new form and it was a nice touch for director Paul W.S. Anderson to have David Carradine in for a voice cameo but what this all boils down to is an avenue for Jason Stratham to raise all holy hell and fuck people's shit up. Of course, this is something he does extremely well. DEATH RACE is straight forward full throttle action and mayhem and though not as complex as CRANK this stands out as a mighty fine offering and is far better than the trailers would make you think which is rare. It also has one of the best beheadings in recent memory.

See Spot Run

It would me quite easy to overlook or take this piss out of this little family picture but that would be missing the point. John Whitesell has been working in television for years so has the feel of a sit-com but it does deliver some incredible laughs. Dog films always seem to do good with the kids and this is no exception. David Arquette who is just a big kid anyway makes a perfect sidekick for the bulldog, Leslie Bibb is great as the eye candy and Paul Sorvino is his usually great self getting in some true belly busters here. Constance Marie has a little cameo and this marks the only acting credit for foley artist great Dan O'Connell who provides the voice for Spot. Speaking of Spot, you can't have a dog film without a "poop" scene and this one provides one of the funniest ever.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saam gwok dzi gin lung se gap (Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon)

The advance hype on this Daniel Lee epic was such you swore you were in for the film of the decade. I must confess I've only seen one of his films HAK HAP (BLACK MASK) so I can't fairly judge his body of work. I'm aware there are some historical issues on the Japanese style of armour worn by the Chinese warriors, I can't comment on that. I know there was a fuss about casting Maggie Q which I can kind of get but don't fully understand. What I can say is this was one rather long and boring piece of work. Some interesting visuals but the whole thing came off as a yawn inducing video game. I'm sure some will think it's the cat's ass but I honestly can't recommend it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

It would be unfair of me to say this prequel in the series concerning the great war between the vampires and the werewolves sucks becuase it doesn't quite rate that bad. No, it would be more laong the lines of......oh...say history class. You remember high school? Of course you don't because you were too busy skipping class, smokin' pot and watching ghoulie films weren't you. Ok, history class, Sunday school, a wedding, work, any incident where you found yourself fighty to keep your head up and your eyes open, this is the problem with UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS. If we knew it was going to be this boring I'd say leave sleeping werewolves be. It's as if they were making a flick for the tween set or the emo heads or whathaveyou and you almost expect John Cusack to pop out at any second. I still like watching Bill Nighy's Viktor but even that gets tedious, I've never liked Michael Sheen in the role of Lucian and Rhona Mitra is bloody well wasted here. It's not like they brought her on board for Oscar level acting skills yet for the most part all we see of her is blurred action or washed out face shots. Perhaps if you did all three films in sequence it won't seem so bad but as it stands, save your money and wait for the DVD.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Golden Years

I hate to be hard on this one but it's probably the worst of all the Stephen King TV mini-series. It's great to see the hard working Keith Szarabajka get a feature role and I did enjoy watching Felicity Hufman do the whole government agent thing but this film goes nowhere for the four hours it runs. Oh, a little bit of introspective though on aging but trust me, by the third hour you'll be rooting for R.D. Call's character to off the whole lot of them, and if you do manage to make it to the end you will be scratching your head going what the fuck was that all about.


This is a hard one to pin down as a film because it is ten short films all having to do with a piece of opera, ten pieces, ten directors. For obvious reasons opera nuts will receive greater enjoyment form this than thhose who are not fans. It's interesting to say the least. Nothing a bit of acid wouldn't fix if you know what I mean.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


John Cusack runs around confused about his love life, looking all doe-eyed. Kate Beckinsale runs around, sans leather, confused about her love life, looking all doe-eyed. Where have we seen this before? Oh, and Jeremy Piven is there to be annoying and there is something to do with a book about cholera and Eugene Levy has a great bit part. From what I've just written you'd think I didn't like SERENDIPITY but this is not the case. I found it to be a bitter sweet little bit of fluff, cotton candy for the heart shall we say. Granted, you'd have to have one hell of a selfish, jaded heart to find this sweet but, alas, things are what they are and that's all I feel I need to write about SERENDIPITY.

Panama Hattie

"Boy, did I get tighter than a mouse's ear". So sings Virginia O'Brien with her rendition of AT THE SAVOY in PANAMA HATTIE, a song I wish I had written myself. This is one of those MGM musicals where the story is of no import and it's all about the music. Red Skelton is fun at times and Ann Sothern was at her very best but the real gem here is Lena Horne performing JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS. As I said, it's not so much a film as a long music video with Cole Porter behind it and if that's your thing, great. O'Brien, known as Miss Deadpan may very well have been the first rapper as you'll witness here.


Fans of Christopher Lambert in HIGHLANDER will love this off-beat adaptation of the epic poem. Hard to tell if it's meant to be set in post nuclear future or some alternate universe, who cares and this is the whole point of this take on the BEOWULF legend, who cares. We have Lambert grimacing and cracking one-liners all the while wielding a mean sword and that is more than enough. Need more? Try Rhona Mitra in her training leathers as it were. Don't know her? You will when UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS opens tomorrow. Still need more? Try Playmate Layla Roberts doing duty as the Grendel mom! Smoking hot, just like the great German industrial score the use during the fight scenes. Sure, Grendel looks like a bad PREDATOR rip-off and Mom morphs into something akin to what one might find in a hand held video game, as I said, who cares, we have boobies and blood and Christopher Lambert. What more could you ask for?

The Skulls

Rob Cohen can be hit and miss as far as the type of film he delivers and with THE SKULLS he falls somewhere in the middle. The story involves the Skull and Bones club of Yale (never actually mentioned in the film!) and the evil doings they may or may not be up to. It was shot here in Toronto and I remember gaggles of tweenies running rampant all over the city trying to hunt down Joshua Jackson then an uber-god because of DAWSON'S CREEK. He does a fair job here if you like his style. Craig T. Nelson makes a fine bad guy but is well upstaged by William Petersen and we get some fair mileage out of Leslie Bibb but the film just never lives up to it's potential. The concept is such a great one it becomes a shame to watch it wallow in the mud due to being aimed at the teen demographic. Still, it's not bad as a time waster with adequate suspense and enough action to keep it moving if you don't think on it too hard. Look for Malin Akerman, who we will see more of in THE WATCHMEN, in her big screen debut.

Rude Boy

I never was a big fan of The Clash, still ain't, so my thoughts on this rock docudrama are mixed at best. It is an interesting slice of history for sure being shot right at the time the whole British punk scene was doing the big crossover. The concert footage included in RUDE BOY is top notch and manages to capture the energy of the period but when it shifts into story mode things become rather forced and stunted. Clash fans swear by RUDE BOY, others feel it's so-so, pick your camp.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tales of Terror

In honor of the bicentenial of Edgar Allan Poe's birth let us examing this Roger Corman classic. The three tales here are not true adaptations as such but rather a reworking by my man Richard Matheson who certainly has more respect for the master's work than most are prepared to give him credit for. Alas, Corman yells for a script and you give it to him, usually right there and then I gather and while he too is an admirer of Poe deadlines and budgets are what they are. The first tale is the weakest, a rather poor rendition of Morella which allows Vincent Price to snarl and play the cranky old git. Moving on we encounter the true gem of this picture. Price and Peter Lorre square off in the humorous amalgamation of THE BLACK CAT and THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO and is simply fantastic even if slightly blasphemous to Poe puritans. The scene where Price and Joyce Jameson play catch with Lorre's head is a classic. The third segment, has Price under the spell of Basil Rathbone in THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR. Special effects slightly detract from the ending but this is still one of the better AIP offerings and fine viewing on any January 19th.


The idea of a then almost sixty year old be romanaced by the much younger and sultry Audrey Hepburn may not be as shocking now as it was when this was released in 1963 but it still comes off as a tad bit creepy. That aside, CHARADE, which most only know in the humorless remake THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE, is a fantasticly witty romp sometimes Hitchcock in style, other true Blake Edwards. Easy flick to track down as it is public domain due to a copyright snafu, be sure to look for familiar faces such as George Kennedy, James Coburn and an interesting cameo from Walter Matthau.

Waking Ned (Waking Ned Devine)

Not sure why they had to rename this one for North American release though it does have a better ring to it. This is as good a feel good story as you could ever want dealing with the antics of a small village in Ireland who try to "keep alive" a deceased lottery winner. It was actually shot on the Isle of Man but who cares, the scenery is gorgeous just like the myriad of characters the film presents us with. In these hard economic times we can all do with more of these well crafted modern fairy tales and I guarantee the ending will put a smile on your face. Also notable for making veteran actor David Kelly a known name in America.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Body of Evidence

Oh my Gaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwwwdddddddddddd......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For those who have yet to see is as bad as you've been led to believe
and then some!
The question is....why?
Let's start with the plot, I'm sure Mickey Spillane used most of the elements attempted here long before I was born and he probably lifted from some dude before his time. So, this courtroom drama ain't no TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. No, it's an excuse for Madonna to run around and have kinky ass sex on the big screen and here is the major, and I do mean MAJOR problem with BODY OF EVIDENCE. Most of that sex is with Willem Dafoe!
Now, I ain't a chick and I ain't gay but I've had neither male or female ever say to me "oh...I just got to be gittin' myself some of that Willem Dafoe's ass!"....hell...not even the goth babes fluttered when he did SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE, the same ones who go all ga-ga over Udo Kier,....not so much as a blip out of their blackened hearts. Now, I know the whol premise is Madonna is supposed to be fucking old dudes to death but damn, Frank Langela (another vampire it just so happens) and then Jurgen Prochnow as a bed-buddy partner in crime?!?!?!?!?!?!? Come on now, couled the casting department have found more abnormal faces to throw up on that screen? It almost makes you feel sad for Joe Mantegna, hell, we know he is supposed to be the good guy but why not give him a little bit of Madonna action as well, like, a mercy screw or something seeing as everybody else is getting a piece!
To her credit Madonna does seem to be trying here and her overt sexuality caused this turkey to make some serious dough for the producers as well as continue to expand her now vast empire but it would have greatly helped if Uli Edel had at least "tried" to direct her here as she can act when used in the right hands. Part of me suspects it was the Barbara Streisand syndrome, as in Madonna calling the shots to what WILL and WILL NOT be done in the film and I sure as shit don't envy Edel's job here. As for the sex, it wasn't that damn racy then and it sure as hell ain't now and am I the only one who feels like I'm looking at my mother when I see Madonna naked now, as if she has somehow de-sexed herself by being too damn sexual?!?!?!?!?! Oh, and let's not forget poor Anne Archer is here even if I bet she wishes you would.

As a POST SCRIPT here, all of you Madonna lovers out there...don't even bother to email me with your complaints! You know I love Madonna, we ALL love Madonna, this just was not her finest moment. Hey, we all have off days, even Her Madge.


Many like to knock Tony Scott for his video generation style of film editing but it works wonders here in the "kind of based on the real life" of model turned bounty hunter Domino Harvey. Perhaps using Keira Knightley was a bit of a stretch as she is just too damn skinny to be believable but she sure as hell looks fab kicking ass! Those who keep blathering on about the supposed resurrection of Mickey Rourke must have been too busy watching their stock portfolios rather than this film or they would well know he never went anywhere. In fact, he is the strongest actor of the lot here though the cameos will blow your mind. Very cool pic for those who actually get what cool is and nice touch having the real Domino make a showing at the very end.

Sexy Beast

This Jonathan Glazer film by far has one of the coolest opening scenes I have ever laid eyes on, absolutely one of those "out of bloody nowhere" type of things that can suck you right into the feel of a motion picture and this is what SEXY BEAST is all about, anything can happen, at any time and sure as hell when you least expect it. While Ray Winstone is the star the film in whole belongs to Ben Kingsley who shows up as Ghandi's cranked up evil alter ego and the performance is bloody magic. The ending may come off as a tad weak to some but I felt it did the job and great to see somebody make good use of THE STRANGLERS' music for a change.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Clown at Midnight

Not sure which scares me more, the fact this was shot in The 'Peg or that Christopher Plummer's agent allowed him to be in it. Margot Kidder too! It looked to me like somebody grabbed the cast of that stupid TV show FAME or hell, DEGRASSI or 21 JUMP STREET and threw some dude dressed up as a halequin and let him have at' em. Bad, just bad and you'd do better cleaning the cat litter box or something.

My Bloody Valentine 3-D

Finally somebody got it right! It would have been easy to just sell this one on the REALD ( 3-D process but thank the powers that be director Patrick Lussier has been in the horror business long enough to know what he's doing. Granted he's usually in the editing suite but he showed great promise with DRACULA 2000 and with his latest he really delivers the goods. Hardcore fans of the 80's slasher films will not walk away disappointed and for once I felt I received more than my money's worth with this one. Enough sex and nudity to meet the necessary requirements, doesn't let the story drag between the pops and more than provides the splat in glorious 3-D! Great splat I might add and those who read me often know this is a common complaint of mine....I mean...why make a fucking splatter film and then don't bloody well show it! For fans of the original two key scenes are kept, the famous dryer one being slightly retooled. Much has been made of Jamie King but I'd have to say Betsy Rue takes the cake in the hotness department and you have to tip your hat to Selene Luna for her work which is totally over the top. Nice to see veterans Kevin Tighe and Tom Atkins here, Atkins getting one of the best head scratching laughs here due to some either sloppy or very rushed editing. Trust me, you'll notice. Just a bloody fantastic time this is and well worth dragging your lazy ass out to the movie house for!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Layer Cake

Odd thing about LAYER CAKE, it's often compared to LOCK, STOCK and TWO SMOKING BARRELS which director Matthew Vaughn has a bit part in. This is his first stint in the director's chair and it shows, not in a bad way but this could have been a bit better in the hands of a veteran. Not much, just a bit. The main feature here is Daniel Craig and it's thought by many his role here as the bad ass drug dealing XXXX won him the role of Bond. Hard to say but fans of both Craig and his 007 will get their money's worth. A few familiar faces to be seen here such as Michael Gambon and Sienna Miller and always nice to see Colm Meaney in a feature. The ending stands out making this better than the standard fare but really nothing we haven't all seen before.

End of the Line

This is the first time I've seen Maurice Devereux's work and if this, his fourth feature, is any indication of what's to come I greatly look forward to what he can accomplish when he actually gets a budget and some decent actors. END OF THE LINE is a unique take on the zombie/end of the world genre and does have an interesting script with some greats twists and fantastic concepts. The splat ain't to shabby either but the project falls just short of the mark due to lack lustre performances. The cast appears to be able to act...they just seem to be all more suited to the stage rather than the big screen. The major exception here Ilona Elkin who almost carries this flick and with some tighter editing may just very well have pulled it off. I actually remember when they were shooting this at the old sub-subway station here at Bay and Bloor and I'm kicking myself for not having gone and poked about on set. Horror fans will definately get a kick out of END OF THE LINE despite it's few misgivings and let us hope Devereux has better tools to work with on the next one as I imagine he'll make on hell of a name in horror circles.

The Reader

This one is certainly up there for my picks of best film for 2008 and I'm a bit mad at myself for not having blogged it sooner so I could say "I told you so" about Kate Winslet taking a Golden Globe for her work here. Sadly I have a gut feeling the Academy will overlook this gem entirely, To say this is a daring role for Winslet is an understatement and I will not discuss the plot here in the off chance you've not seen it and still haven't had the story spoiled for you. I will say this, you are not supposed to like Winslet here and you wont. Ralph Fiennes is used sparingly here but to great effect which leave the weight on male lead to be carried by David Kross who is superb here and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him in the future. What makes THE READER truly special is the directing and when I first viewed it I kept thinking I have to see more of this man's work completely forgetting he had made THE HOURS and BILLY ELLIOT. Stephen Daldry is now in the process of making THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER & CLAY and if you've not read Michael Chabon's novel do so at once! Look for Lena Olin is an interesting dual role and play close attention to the score provided by Nico Muhly as it's one of the most haunting of 2008 and may garner the only Oscar nod.

The Long Good Friday

This one is a perfect example of good acting and direction can carry a film anytime and here we have both. The script is fine if somewhat run of the mill, dealing with a London gangster who ends up getting in over his head. This role would end up making Bob Hoskins a star in America as THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY was a surprise hit over here and it also served to remind folks Helen Mirren is an acting force to be reckoned with. The gritty style in which John Mackenzie directs this gives it an amazing air of authenticity and the last five minutes will leave a lasting impression. Speaking of the nd, look closely for Pierce Brosnan in one of his first big screen appearances.


Renny Harlin is one of those funny directors in which you never know what you'll get from one of his films. With CLEANER we are given Samuel L. Jackson NOT playing the angry black man for a change but a damaged ex cop with a past he laments and a job which entails cleaning up after people who have taken a bogus mortgage out on the proverbial farm. As a thriller it works well enough and I gather fans of DEXTER will enjoy it even if the ending seems a tad rushed and taked on. Certainly not one of the best showings from Ed Harris but Eva Mendes kind of makes up for that. Luis Guzman has a few moments and there are visual elements which boost this one up to slightly above average.

Hard Promises

As William Petersen is about to exit stage left on the CSI series it's amusing to look back at this 1991 feature where he plays a character polar opposite to that of the now famous Grissom. The premise is simple enough, a wandering soul discovers the wife he left behind is divorcing him, said wife being Sissy Spacek and this is all you need to know about HARD PROMISES. Some serious moments, some very funny ones but ultimately a character study carried by the talents of these two powerhouses.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vals Im Bashir (Waltz with Bashir)


Let me start by saying I had a lot of problems with this film the first being the needless comparison to PERSEPOLIS. True, they are both animated, they both are autobiographical and they both deal with way but to say they are the same is akin to saying ROMEO AND JULIET is the same as SID & NANCY, as in it's a love story, the two leads are young and stupid and they both end up quite dead. The point is WALTZ WITH BASHIR is a totally different beast and nothing at all like PERSEPOLIS.
The other problem I had with this, and it's a big one, was the animation style. While the backdrops and scenery were fantastic the human animation drove me nuts. It was presented in a literal style very similar to Jaime Hernandez but stagnant and very, very choppy, so much so it detracted from the very serious dialogue taking place throughout. Because of this I found myself wondering why they would choose to animate such a serious piece of work when they could have no doubt found the money to make this straight forward and real. Turns out my major complaint is in fact what makes WALTZ WITH BASHIR amazing and here we get to the spoiler aspect.
The film deals with an Israeli soldier with a memory block which prevents him to remember periods of the Lebanon war he was involved with. Because of recurring nightmares he goes back to talk to people who were there with him to find out what happened. This material is real, the animated style is directly based on the actual filmed interviews writer/director Ari Folman conducted and their tales are very powerful to say the least. As the picture unfolds out lead regains his memory leading to a visual end of harrowing effect.

The watcher is then smashed in the head with real life footage of the aftermath of the Sabra and Chatila Massacre, wailing mothers, bloated destroyed bodies everywhere, utter carnage.

This is when it became very clear to me what Folman was doing. It was all set up as the film progeressed, as out lead started to regain his memory little bits of nonanimated pieces begin to appear leading us to this moment of total recall. It's not pretty.

Sad thing is, this simple but effective artistic technique went clear over the heads of most of the audience, at least what was left of it. The theatre I saw it in was half empty by the end. With the events currently unfolding in the Gazza strip I gather many Israel supporters found the material offensive. Like Folman, I'll leave the politics alone here, WALTZ WITH BASHIR does not explore blame, it is the journey of one soldier and his attempt to understand his life, but I will comment on the inability of this supposedly "educated and articulate" audience to understand what the director was doing with the story. On the way out everybody was complaining of the reality footage of the end with not a soul seeming to realize our "hero" now has his memory back hence the world is "real" again.

To sum all of this up, WALTZ WITH BASHIR, nominated for best foreign language film at the Golden Globes tomorrow night (which I might add it should win) is a must see especially with the current events unfolding. You will more than likely have to see it on DVD or a rep house as there seems to be a behind scenes movement to keep this off the big screen right now it having been pulled after only one week after much hype and anticipation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Last Party

I gather from a recent viewing of Robert Downey Jr.'s documentary concerning the Democratic National Convention of 1992 he fancied himself a bit of a Hunter S. Thompson. He may have nailed the excess booze and drugs but he sure missed in the journalism department. It's interesting as a curio or time piece but not much else.

The Rage: Carrie 2

For what it is this sequel does the job, It inroduced the big screen to now well known character actress Emily Bergl, gave us some glimpses of Mena Suvari and Charlotte Ayanna as well as bringing Amy Irving back from the original and when things get going well delivers in the splat department. Also throws in a comparable to first "boo" ending shocker but the music video style editing and colour switch may give some a headache. You could do far worse.

Bunny Lake Is Missing

This psychological thriller will be a hit or miss proposition for most mainly due to the style in which director Otto Preminger presents it. The story is solid enough with fine acting from Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward, Keir Dullea and Carol Lynley but Preminger tends to get a bit artsy with the flow of things and this can rub certain viewers the wrong way. I've always loved the film and it's great to see a young Clive Revill who we all know and love as The Emperor from STAR WARS, in fact many film buffs will marvel at the number of now well known faces there are to be seen in this 1965 number. While younger enthusiasts may watch this and figure FLIGHTPLAN to be a rip-off one could just as easily look at BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING is see many similarities to THE TURN OF THE SCREW. John Mortimer of RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY note along with his then wife Penelope screenplayed this from the Evelyn Piper (Marryam Model) novel and Paul Glass of NIGHT GALLERY fame provides a stunning score.

Rich in Love

Bruce Beresford teams up with DRIVING MISS DAISY scripter Alfred Uhry and doesn't manage to recapture the magic. The look is fine enough and there are some adequate moments from Alfred Finney and Kathryn Erbe but this film seems to me to be like the South Carolina summer it depicts, long and drawn out.

House of Frankenstein

Long before Toho Studios did their monster mash thing or the WWE came up with the Royal Rumble, Universal had the great idea of "if two ghoulies do well....why not four" and thus we were given HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, which really should have been called THE RUINS OF THE HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN WHICH JUST SO HAPPENS TO ONCE AGAIN HAVE HIS FROZEN MONSTER KICKING ABOUT SOMEWHERE DOWN BELLOW IT as there is no member of the family as such here, just Boris Karloff as a crazy old doctor who thaws out (again) Glenn Strange as the monster who still seems to be hanging out with Lon Chaney Jr. as the wolf-man when for no real reason Joh Carradine shows up as Dracula with Oscar nominated Kevin J. Naish running around as a hunchback, also for no real reason and you have the makings for a good little fight! The late, great Curt Siodmak provided the amusing script for this 65 year old offering making this one good for laughs for the novices and great nostalgic fun for the spook heads.

Immortal Beloved

One has to wonder, is it a coincidence Gary Oldman played the poster boy for punk rock oblivion and then later portrayed a man who may very well have been the first musical rebel? His work with the legend of Beethoven here is arguably his finest and under the direction of Bernard Rose may stay that way for some time as I must say I'm skeptical at best of what THE UNBORN will give us this Friday. Isabella Rossellini and Jeroen Krabbè easily match Oldman; skills here and the premise of this being a half bipoic, half search for the subject of Ludwig's famous departing letter make this a must see for the truly romantic at heart.


Well, gotta love Hollywood for this one, take one of the most famous disasters of the 20th century and turn it into a bloody love story. This should be all I have to say on this matter, unfortunately it isn't.
One of the problems of raising a teenage daughter during this period was the DiCaprio factor. Leonardo this, Leonardo that and I don't how great the chemistry was between he and Winslet, when you have the damn thing on 24/7 constant video rotation with a gaggle of tweenies mooning over the damn thing you want to friggin' well round them and James Cameron up and drop them on some damn Hoth like ice planet!
In all fairness, TITANIC is a modern achievement in epic film making and deserved every Oscar it floated away with and I especially extol Cameron's choice to cast Gloria Stuart as the older Rose. An amazing woman off screen as well as on I gather she still makes her wood cut prints on an old Vandercook press at the age of 98!
Speaking of women, I must confess to even liking the Celine Dion (who does not invite me over to eat Kraft Dinner!) song tied into this film.
What I DID NOT like about TITANIC is two fold, the first being watching it in the middle of the IMAX theatre at Ontario Place after consuming a dozen or so beers, brilliant idea that! Yes, watch a film about water in a jam packed house and just try to get up and out of that enviroment without pissing yourself and don't forget it's loaded with crying, swooning teenage girls, forget it, your pants will be as soaked as Jack's at the end which brings me to my second problem with TITANIC.
Talk about a predictable ending.......unsinkable ship hits big ass piece of ice floating around in the ocean and sinks. Rumor has it Cameron shot an alternative ending where the lost were recovered by those water aliens from THE ABYSS and transported to modern day America where they become Republicans or something and instigate world peace. Sadly, Cameron has yet to release this version on DVD but no doubt our man from Kapuskasing, Ontario will get around to it when he's done looking for ship wrecks!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

They Saved Hitler's Brain

Ok, what we have here is part of a film called THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS which according to the history books was released in 1963, then director David Bradley, who believe it or not played Brutus alongside Charlton Heston in JULIUS CAESER back in 1950, had the great idea of filming some more footage which had nothing whatsoever to do with the original, splice it together and give it this great title and throw in on the TV. I swear, I don't make this shit up! We got some head which is supposed to be Hitler's which seems to keep getting toted about in a kit bag til the friggin' thing melts. Here's the kicker, wait for it, some brain trust is bloody well doing a remake of this clunker! I'll get on board, great title and if they can grab Tom Cruise or Keanu Reeves they might have a hit on their hands and speaking of hands, use yours to click the remote should you comes across this stinkeroo during late night viewing.

Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue

We've established here before that Zalman King is an aquired taste, yes, he does provide some luscious visuals and certainly has an eye for talent, sadly, I think somebody must have squirted the lime for his Corona into them for this one as the talent factor is sorely lacking. I don;t care how pretty it looks, I don't care if ther sex scenes are real or not, and I don't care how hot Nina Siemaszko looks in her romping escapades here....this is just simply a boring, bad, bad film, which is about all you will ever need to know about that. If it's sex you want at least grab BUXOM BLONDE NYMPHETS PART XXVII and get what you paid for!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Serpent and the Rainbow

I've not yet read the Wade Davis book this film is based on though I see him around town here enough. I guess I'm just waiting to get a copy signed before I do so but I can well imagine all the nonsense Wes Craven throws in at the end of this flick will not be there. This would stand out as one of Craven's best films were it not for the spook-house antics of the finale, well paced, superior acting for a Wes feature with Bill Pulman more than carrying the lead, superior story material and then whammo...right off the friggin' rails. Perhaps the studio stuck their noses into the pie or maybe even Craven himself felt something extra was needed for the teenage demographic, who knows, all I can say is it still worth a look, just be prepared for the hocus pocus at the end.

Cheech & Chong's Next Movie

It is important to take into account this film was made in 1980 and even then the whole stoner thing was wearing thin hence this film will move mighty slow in the eyes of modern viewers. With the success of THAT '70s SHOW some may wish to explore it but even as a trip down memory lane you had best be sure to have a bag of weed to truly enjoy it. Scott Thompson of KIDS IN THE HALL FAME makes his big screen debut here and you will see early work from Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson, Rita Wilson, Edie McClurg and Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens but sadly this film comes off a stale as a bag of year old shake.

Untamed Heart

If you can stop pissing yourself about Christian Slater being a supposed orphan with a frikkin' baboon heart this isn't a bad film.....and we can only hope the guys who wrote the script for SEVEN POUNDS didn't saddle poor Will Smith with such a ticker! This one runs the emotional gambit with Slater bring ing his tough guy brood, Marisa Tomei as the broken girl with the non-baboon heart of gold and Rosie Perez there to look all cute and snooty and crack one-liners. Well directed and some truly touching moments this will still leave the women crying at the end and the men crossing their legs and biting their tongues....if they know what's good for them.

Demon Seed

Back in 1977 this was considered to be a high brow horror/sci-fi hybrid and while I hate to knock anything my man Dean R. Koontz was involved with I have to say this is one serious ass clunker of a film. I gather Julie Christie which be just as happy if it didn't exist and it would almost be a decade before another Koontz novel was adapted for screen. The premise is interesting enough, a super sentient computer desires to think outside of the box, in a literal sense, and goes about impregnating Christie to achieve it's objective. Despite what many would have you think Christie is not raped by a robot though there are a couple of great "chase" scenes. Christie does her best here with the material she is given to work with but half way through the story goes from being fantastic to simply laughable. Even Fritz Weaver's dead pan can't help this one. If you manage to make it to the ending there is a neat payoff but this is one rare occasion I'd have to say wait for the remake as with some retooling this story will work on film in spades.

Eyes of an Angel

EYES OF AN ANGEL appears to be one of those films even rabid John Travolta fans have never seen. Think of it as a poor man's PAPER MOON with a doberman thrown into the mix. Travolta does well in the role bringing his street style and sensitivity to handle the role that of being a widower trying to figure out what to do with daughter Ellie Raab as well as his connections to the crime world. There are some truly disturbing moments in this one, especially the dog fight so don't be lulled into thinking this is one for the kiddies.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Murder By Numbers

Those who know their Hitchcock will watch this and start screaming about this being a rip-off of ROPE which is kind of true, it's main characters are loosely based on the murdering duo of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold back in the mid 1920's just like Hitchcock's were but that should be the end of the comparison. Barbet Schroeder gives us a standard money maker here, throw Sandra Bullock in as a hot ass detective with a haunted past, give her a boy toy partner in Ben Chaplin and let her go after a couple of rich kid psycho shits in Ryan Gosling and Michael Pit and pray to hell the tweenies put their little panties in the theatre seats! It is what is it right up to the literal cliffhanger ending and while you could do far worse for your viewing dollar you sure as hell can do much better.


Director Danny Boyle is raking in the dough with his recent SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE not like I'm implying he was idle since TRAINSPOTTING...I mention it only because this was nominated for an Oscar for the script and it looks like his latest might do it again.
What can I say about TRAINSPOTTING......fucking genius.........that's what. Brought Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle to the attention of the world as well as author Irvine Welsh. Odd to see an Englisman make what may very well be the best film about Scotland in modern day. Make no mistake, while this is a hip and funny piece of work it will slice you right in the jugular at times. The "baby" scene is right there as one of the most horrific you will ever see and the "kick to the nuts" scene will haunt male viewers for years. Just the same, it's must see just like the soundtrack is a must own and also just like we bloody well need to see Welsh's sequel PORNO put to!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Yes, this is the min-series but when you watch it on video or DVD the whole thing clocks in at just over three hours so we'll treat it as a film. Simply put, this is the version to see, never mind the big budget screw-up. All you need to know to properly compare the two is the "computer animated" sequences for this version were in fact all done by hand and they blow the pants off of the "real" computerized work in the new one. Peter Jones narration, can't be touched and Simon Jones owns the role of Arthur Dent. If you come across somebody who did not enjoy this whip them with your wet towel.

Count Yorga, Vampire

This would mark the first feature length film from Bob Kelljan who would go on to make another Yorga as well as the Blacula sequel and direct episodes for many of our childhood faves such as CHARLIE'S ANGELS or STARSKY AND HUTCH. This is important to note as when you watch COUNT YORGA, VAMPIRE it will come across as being made for television. This has more to do with his directing style than the actual budget. For some reason most people are under the impression this is a comedy, it isn't, sure, there are a few laughable moments principally due to Robert Quarry's witty dialogue but the film is played straight. Rather poor death scene for the Count at the end but such is life in thses sorts of films. For rapid vamp heads only.

The Pleasure Seekers

This loose remake of THREE COINS IN THE FOUNTAIN would have fallen flat on it's face if it weren't for the ample bosoms of Ann-Margret and company. oh, it's a pleasant enough of a picture with the girls bouncing about in Madrid and getting in trouble with the hot bloods. The music is fine, even earned an Oscar nod and I have no problem with Ann-Margret warbling and shaking her thing but THE PLEASURE SEEKERS just doesn't have the "umph" THREE COINS did.

Die Hard: With A Vengeance

The third in the series still manages to pack a bit of a punch but the concept starts to grow stale. Bringing Samuel L. Jackson's angry balck man schtick, which he does so well, on board manages to make this better than your average fare but Jeremy Irons looks like he mailed in his performance. Nice to see a Nova Scotia reference in a big Hollywood production and while this is by no means a bad film you won't walk away feeling you've seen anything particularly new.

Billion Dollar Brain

While Mike Myers is credited as saying he partially based his character Austin Powers of that of Michael Caine's in ALFIE one can't help but think he was far more influenced by that of Harry Palmer in the Len Deighton trilogy. This is the last of that series, at least for the Sixties as there would be two more a couple of decades later and it at times feels like an Austin Powers film, so much so that when Caine shows up in AUSTIN POWERS IN GOLDMEMBER you think he's just walked straight from the set of this film. It's a yarn for sure but it also happens to be one of the few Ken Russell pictures where he isn't attacking the church or doing screwy things to screaming naked women. Caine of course carries it though we do get a splendid over the top showing from Ed Begley Sr. and some menacing action fro Karl Malden. While BILLION DOLLAR BRAIN certainly shows it's age the story is strong enough to make it rather relevant in modern day and if watched with the proverbial grain of salt will provide a great viewing experience.

Stuck on You

By all rights this film should suck, I mean, the idea of Matt "The Speedster" Damon and Greg Kinnear playing conjoined twins just reeks of suckness, problem is the Farrelly brothers directed it and they don't suck. Neither does STUCK ON YOU. This is a comedy for people who know their Hollywood and if watched with that in mind this is one hell of a funny film. The fact Cher is willing to take the piss out of herself for the cause is all you really need to know and she is hillarious throughout. Her "bed" scene with Fankie Munoz is killer and there are plenty more cameos to satisfy the star gazers out there. Be sure to watch it right through the end credits to see the real life thank you speech from Ray "Rocket" Valliere which while certainly out of place in a comedy will greatly move you.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Mark Herman's adaptation of John Boyne's novel about the son of a German commandant who becomes friends with a prisoner at Auschwitz only continued the controversy and outrage of many Jewish groups and I have to admit I can see why. On the other hand, I have to defend Boyne for his choice of setting, the story simply would not have the same effect if you were to set in, say , in a science fiction enviroment or such. This is a morality play, nothing more, and it is for this reason you have to forgive some of the obvious faults in the story, the main being there is no was in hell this friendship could have ever happened. The other major complaint most have is with Herman's choice to allow the mainly British cast to use their natural accents. This too should be forgiven in the way you would a live local production and I think it was a wise choice NOT to have them try to work in German dialect. I f you love or hate the picture is in my opinion irrelevant, it must be seen, in a theatre for the last fifteen minutes alone. I will no doubt take heat for this but I rank it up there with the dinner scene from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE for intensity. In both screenings I saw (yes, I went twice) people actually got up and left the theatre, not out of disgust, they simply could not handle it! The first time I sat there worrying Herman would destroy the ending, he does not, and the second time the effect was just as powerful. On both occasions, when the house lights came up, those who had not left simply sat in their seats, slack jawed and eyes blank. As it said, like it or not, this is powerful film making which certainly makes this one of the most memorable films of 2008 for me.

The In-Laws

I'm mostly a fan of Andrew Flemings work but I kind of feel he dropped the ball with this remake of the 1979 film. Somehow the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks never lives up to that of Peter Falk and Alan Arkin in the original and this may be due to the fact Brooks is even more annoying here than he was in TAXI DRIVER. Still, there are some funny moments, most of them involving David Suchet whose moments at least make the film worth your time. Candice Bergen was sadly wasted and I could have done with a bit more screen time from Robin Tunney but if you are in need of a time killer this will do the trick.

Star Trek TOS: All Our Yesterdays

There is a major plot hole in this episode, mainly why does Spock regress from going back in time while Bones remains the same but this can easily beoverlooked as this is certainly one of the best episodes from the third season. Great lines, well acted and you just have to love Mariette Hartley in her tundra hunter gear! Surprised the ice cave didn't melt around her from the heat she was throwing off. The counter story involving Kirk is also interesting, in fact, there is so much going on here you wonder how they jammed it all into one hour.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

No need for me blurb much about this modern adventure classic though I will mention two things. First, it would be great to see them update the effects on the final sequence as it is very dated and with a bit of CGI could be brought up to modern day standards and as the film is not THAT old it wouldn't be sacrilege and the second thing would be RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK has what is probably my favorite scene of all time. This would be when Marion clocks Indiana on the jaw with the mirror and then Spielberg does a long pan of the boat and the scream wails through the air. Simple but extremely effective and makes me damn near piss myself every time I see it!

Spider Baby

You owe it to yourself to see this Jack Hill (who is NOT dead) film at least once in your life. It's a fave of mine and it lives up to it's full name SPIDER BABY, OR THE MADDEST STORY EVER TOLD. We have Lon Chaney Jr., who sings the theme song which makes this worth seeing all by itself, as the guardian of two girls who like to play "spider" and a man child named Ralph which is played by Sid Haig with some serious authority. This is about all you need to know about the plot, and yes, there is one. It is a choppy piece of work, no doubt due to budget restrictions and while a dark comedy it does pack a few genuine scares. Looks closely for a quick scene with Jill Banner towards the end which I believe to be a goof-up Hill decided to throw it at the last second. It will crack you up! I also guarantee you will never forget Ralph!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Pillow Talk

Rock Hudson and Doris Day sure turned up the heat with this bawdy little romantic comedy nobody wanted. Distributors at the time had the feeling the public no longer wanted this type of film and they couldn't have been more wrong. Banged an Oscar for the amazing screenplay and earned Day a well deserved nomination. For some reason we think of her as some innocent, the America's sweetheart syndrome as it were, but in PILLOW TALK she shows she can rock with the best of them. Speaking of Rock, it's easy to see from this one why so many women of that era were mortified to learn he was gay...the man just oozes sex appeal here, as does Day! Tony Randall does the pre-Woody neurotic thing to a tee and Thelma Ritter steals any scene she's in.