Friday, July 31, 2009

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Well, those who felt this was RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK meets THE X-FILES were bang on and yes, I did see this when it came out last year I'm just that bloody far behind in catching up here. Like anything you can go two ways here, you either get it or you don't but I've yet to encounter anybody who when asked about this picture went " so" was one end of the spectrum or the other. For my money I thought Spielberg did an excellent job of providing an action yarn and Ford was more than well up to the task making me wish he will give one more kick at the role perhaps even finding a way to bring Connery back on board. Nice to see Karen Allen back and Shia LeBeouf was nowhere as annoying as I expected but as is usually the case the standout here is Cate Blanchett morphing once again, this time into the sexy but ridiculous characture of an Eastern Block femme fatale. She alone makes this worth a look!

Che: Part One and Part Two

I simply cannot bother with the politics around this Steven Soderbergh pair of biopics concerning the revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara other than to say such politics must have been behind the omission of Benicio Del Toro from the Oscars. His work here, often low key, is beyond amazing as are the films themselves often resembling home movies rather than a big production. While released in two parts one is best to catch or rent them together. A bit of a long haul at over four hours but well worth the effort as it allows you to submerge in what can honestly be called a thinking person's war film.

Demoni 2: L'incubo ritorna (Demons 2)

Lamberto Bava brings the dmons from the old theatre into an apartment building in what is pretty much the same film as before except this time you are wondering if the pregnant lady will get it and more importantly will we get a "demon bambino" out of the deal. Bobby Rhodes returns in a different role, same character pretty much but a different role and Asia Argento makes her big screen debut. Better cinematography than the first but still only for hard core splat heads.

U.S. Marshals

Odd to see Stuart Baird of film editing acclaim at the helm of the semi-sequel to THE FUGITIVE. Tommy Lee Jones returns as the cranky Sam Gerard, a role he perfected long before every playing such and this time is hunting down Wesley Snipes. The chemistry between the cast and the action are pretty much the same as we saw in the first film and fans of it will not be let down.

Is it just me or

is Chris Jericho quickly becoming the Gordon Ramsay of the WWE?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


While the idea behind FACE/OFF is rather silly John Woo does bring the action in style and it gives John Travolta and Nicolas Cage (sans bad hair) a chance to "play" with their dynamic range. Way above average in the genre as long as you don't examine the plot devices too closely.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


There are cases where sometimes a still from a movie is more famous than the actual film and GORGO is one of them. The classic image of the giant claw coming out of the water alongside some fishermen in a boat is one monster lovers grew up with in Ackerman's famous magazine and we howled to stay up the odd time it would appear on late night television. GORGO is unique in this genre as being set in London so we get to see the famous Big Ben taken out. Oddly enough the "monster" was found off the coast of Ireland but I think the joke may well have been lost on the production crew. Great line has the fair barker at the Gorgo exibit saying "what's that Mam, looks like your husband? Go in and find out". SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER Also unique is the fact Gorgo is just a baby and the real fun doesn't start until Momma Gorgo hits the scene. Yes, you could call it an English Godzilla and oddly enough a variation on the mother theme was used in the recent American GODZILLA but the bottom line is GORGO is good clean fun.

Good Morning, Vietnam

I hardly feel any need to expound on this Robin Williams blockbuster. Sure, the reality of it is pretty thin, there was a DJ named Adrian Cronauer but by his own admission he is nothing like the Williams portrayed character and would have had his ass subject to a court-martial if he were. So what. Why let the truth get in the way of a good story and it is a good story, well directed and paced with a great cast. Because of marketing few were aware of just how serious it is and there a scenes here which will still shock. Hard to imagine but had it not been for GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM an entire generation wouldn't know who Louis Armstrong was and the soundtrack still sells well. Always worth another look if you haven't seen it in some time even if the twist is ruined.

Flowers in the Attic

Well, the V.C. Andrews novel wasn't bad but the film sure bloody well was!

Poetry in Motion

I'll say one thing, this Ron Mann documentary is singlle handedly responsible for more bad poetry than anything else in history. I'm serious, the second it came out EVERYBODY was a poet and wanted top hop up in some cafe corner bleeping and farting and spouting nonsensical rhymes. I of course found this both annoying and funny as I'm predominantly from the GENE SIMMONS SCHOOL OF POETICS which clearly states you do it to get laid and this lot of maladjusted freakazoids certainly weren't about to be gittin' any with this epilectic display of pathetic pathos. I kind of felt the same way watching POETRY IN MOTION for the first time back in the day. While we have the big names in Ginsberg, Burroughs, Bukowski and such we are treated to a myriad of other novelties which left most scratching their heads, holding the ears and thinking back to their elders from the sixties who tended to behave in such fashions after one too many cocktails at the dinner party.
Let me be clear, I'm not knocking ANYBODY here, the point I wish to make is what Mann showcase here is not "mainstream" and in some ways is a continuation of his jazz doc from a year earlier IMAGINE THE SOUND. Being a Toronto boy, Mann at least was careful enough to include some Canadian talent, the early footage of Ondaatje being of special interest though I've always wonder why Gwendolyn MacEwan didn't make the roster. Overall, an important piece of work which displays the talents of a generation and will be useful in the years to come.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rude Awakening

The third episode from the British Hammer House of Horror was packaged and sold as a feature by Thriller Video with Elvira hosting and though short in length it does deliver on goods. Very similar in feel to a NIGHT GALLERY offering, RUDE AWAKENING stars Denholm Elliott as a man lusting after his secretary, wanting to leave his wife and stuck in an ever changing dream from which he is unable to wake. While the concept is not unique the funny way in which it unfolds is. Not top drawer material but fans on '70s creepers will enjoy it.


About the only good thing I can think of to say on DEATHSTALKER is Barbi Benton is in it though I bet she wishes she wasn't. There is some naked mud wrestling but even that can't save this poor excuse of a "fantasy" film.

Bangkok Dangerous

There seems to be a serious hate on for this Americanized version of the Pang Brothers own film. Not a remake so much as a reworking of a theme I can for the most part understand why people disliked it so though it's not quite as bad as some would have you think. Perhaps a little too slow for North American audiences despite having having a some killer chase scenes and a wicked shoot-out finale. Nicolas Cage joins the bad hair club taking his place alongside Kevin Costner and Tom Hanks with a doo that looks one hell of a lot like Gene Simmons' supposed "real" hair. No need to put this one at the top of your "to see" list but certainly worth a look.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Kansas Pacific

Not heavy on the historical accuracy side this run-of-the mill little Western does at least look at an interesting part of the American Civil War. A railway is trying to be built, people keep blowing up and Sterling Hayden goes in undercover to fix the problem. Ray Nazarro made his living off of films like this so it is presented well but nothing special. Look closely for Clayton Moore.

Donnie Darko

This Richard Kelly film certainly has earned it's stripes as a cult classic and remains a work of great import even if it doesn't hold up as well over time as it should. It's odd, not even ten years old and it already looks dated and I've yet to put my finger on why. This aside DONNIE DARKO is a dark and twisted offering sure to resonate with those in their late teens. Jake Gyllenhaal is perfectly cast as our young victim/protagonist and the support cast around him is nothing to sneeze at with Drew Barrymore and Patrick Swayze doing some impressive work and this marks the big screen debut of another now ubder-star Seth Rogen. The oft quoted line "Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit? Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?" pretty much delivers the message of the film which seems to get lost and boggled down by the whole time travel issue. Either way, it deserves at least one look and many will want it in their collection.

Tropic Thunder

OK, Robert Downey Jr. gets an Oscar nod here for a highly overrated yet funny role. Oh, I get the joke, it's "clever" but I do think the hype over TROPIC THUNDER was much ado about nothing and I kept thinking to myself this is ZOOLANDER DOES WAR or something like it. While Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller are to be our main stars they are upstaged at every corner. Hell, Tobey Maguire damn nears steals the film in the first five minutes in a cameo no less. Jack Black had some great moments with Nick Nolte and Matthew McConaughey following suit special mention must be made of Tom Cruise who was friggin' brilliant here and by far the most appealing aspect of the project for me. Entertaining, funny in parts but just a tad bit too smug for my liking.

The Vanishing

This is an intriguing situation where director George Sluizer had an international hit with SPOORLOOS in 1988 and came to North American to remake his own film in 1993 with some interesting results. I of course though the original was the better of the two but I found myself asking the question of was this due to it merely being a foreign film, hence more alien, or is the better made of the two. This is open to debate as the casting in the orginal seemed better suited than the Americanized version. While Jeff Bridges presents us with a truly creepy lead, I'm not even sure we can call him "bad" but certainly disturbed, there was something less convincing about Keifer Sutherland. Not a bad performance as such but somehow not right for the role. Sandra Bullock is surprisingly effective and Nancy Travis has moments but they are not consitent. I guess it's a case of Bridges acting above the cast surrounding him and it for this reason I think THE VANISHING is one to see. He more than carries it and the character is unique in the horror/mystery realm.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We Were Soldiers

One could go on about the politics behind this film concerning the first major battle in the American/Vietnam conflict but I will not bother. I took this as pretty much as one man's account of said events, this man being Hal Moore portrayed here by Mel Gibson. While realistic in every aspect I had some trouble with Gibson in this role. I think it was a case of his acting style not quite fitting the part though can easily understand to cast him for the box office draw. Where Gibson fails, Sam Elliott excels and a big surprise for me was Greg Kinnear who was amazingly effective. Aside from the politics, the flag waving bent of the film bothered many and I can't see why as it was handled in a tasteful fashion. If watching the DVD version be sure to check out the included documentary with extensive interviews with Moore which in some ways I enjoyed more than the actual picture and if war is of interest to you his book is a must read.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Kevin Smith certainly knows how to push buttons, he's been doing it for years, and ZACK AN MIRI MAKE A PORNO continues his tradition but with an interesting twist. He's managed to make a love story for a generation of social misfits and outcasts but he does in a conventional/unconventional fashion. Of course the crude nature of the humor here will not appeal to all and some have problems with the free form pacing Smith sometimes uses but I thought it was fantastic, both funny and endearing, a hard feat to pull off in earnest. Another aspect of this picture which I noticed is how Smith is advancing in his craft as a film maker. There is one scene in particular, and this might be a spoiler for some be feel warned, when Zack is heading to the bedroom with Stacey. The way Smith sets the shots up to cut between Miri and the hall, the lighting, the music, you would be honestly hard pressed to find anything better executed in Smith's work. This excites me of course as it leads me to beleive he may take on a more serious natured project and, more importantly, have the technical chops to smack the sucker right out of the park. Can you imagine he and Jason Mewes, who is looking to do more dramatic roles, accepting an Oscar?
There are so many other great things here, the fact it was shot in Monroeville, Pa., where DAWN OF THE DEAD was made and all of the jokes about the film and concerning Geroge A. Romero. They went so far as to bring Tom Savini in a super cameo and you just know I need a Monroeville Zombies jersey at some point. Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks are perfection is you like there style and once again Justin Long of JEEPRS CREEPERS and DRAG ME TO HELL fame damn near steals the show. Katie Morgan was damn impressive in this "straight" role and if I had one major complaint it would be with Traci Lords. She could have been used more and it's a shame here best bits were relegated to the extras section of the disc. To close, some will love it, others will be offended but any way you take the money shot here it is damn well funny.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Birth of a Nation

Never mind LIVE AND LET DIE, if you really want to piss of a room full of black people, which is never a great idea I might add, show them the second half of THE BIRTH OF A NATION. Don't bother with the first part as it will pretty much put you asleep unless you happen to be a film student. Granted, the film is over a hundred years old it can be slightly forgiven for having what are now considered some rather skewered and offensive notions on how the good ol' U.S. of A. was formed. The fact the Klu Klux Klan actually used this as a recruitment tools pretty much sums it up. While this D.W. Griffith opus, which clocks in at just over three hours (two is more common on video) is credited for showcasing many groundbreaking film techniques, most notably the split-screen process, modern scholars are eager to point out where Griffith was lifting such styling from. As with any blurb I write about the blockbusters or classics there isn't a hell of a lot I can add other than perhaps it would have been neat to see what would have happened if James Bond had walked into that club in Harlem and slapped this sucked on the big screen! Also, THE BIRTH OF A NATION is certainly worth a look to see the late, great Lillian Gish at work but truth be told this one will bore the living shit out of most people.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Live and Let Die

This marks the beginning of the Roger Moore/James Bond era and one can easily argue his first was his best. This was not his fault and I'm still of the mind Moore was underrated in the role mostly due to the Connery bias and the increasingly silly scripts. Though LIVE AND LET DIE is serious and rather violent (for the time!) the funnny business starts in earnest here, especially with the introduction of the Sheriff Pepper character portrayed by Clifton James. There has been a persitant rumor the last few months the Sheriff and Pepper will be brought back in some form in the next Craig/Bond film and I will be more than interested (possibly happy) to see how they pull it off. As for Jane Seymour's Solitaire, she not have been the most striking of Bond women (she is STUNNING here) but she hands down had the best outfits in the ENTIRE series. David Hedison clocks in as Leiter, a roll he would reprise in LICENCE TO KILL (which uses aspects of Ian Fleming's LIVE AND LET DIE not used in this film) and like Pepper there is also buzz he to will be in the next Craig/Bond project. As for the depiction and stereotyping of African Americans here....well...I can see how some might be a little steamed under the collar as it's pretty extreme at points though I hardly feel it was meant to be mean spirited. When Moore walks into the bar in Harlem is one of those priceless Bond scenes one never forgets. Yaphet Kotto was fine, Julias Harris as Tee Hee great but nobody ever forgets Geoffrey Holder as baron Samedi. Of course the 7-UP commercials running back in the '70s might have had something to do with this be we don't want to go there. Also important in the Bond cinema canon as having possibly the coolest theme song (do I have to tell you it was WINGS?) though many of of the mind Shirley Bassey's GOLDFINGER is better. Kind of a moot point but at least we didn't have to listen to GUNS & ROSES destroy GOLDFINGER.

Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith

Do I even have to bother? By the time Lucas and the "prequel" crew were finally getting things right the damn thing was over with. I was getting used to Ewan McGregor with the silly braid thing, Hayden Christensen was finding his legs and I started to believe Samuel L. Jackson wasn't going to blurt something like "get this droid off my motherfucking ship". An excellent film,properly paced and full of fun, especially the early Anakin "dive" scene, it's just a shame it had to end where it did.


More and more I'm beginning to think of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and the Jean-Luc Godard of Mexico. In BABEL he once again uses his style of taking seemingly unconnected stories and stringing them together, a skill he has mastered and it shows here. The film was nominated out the ying-yang for Oscars yet only snagged the one for best score, deserved, but how it lost out to THE DEPARTED for best picture still has my head shaking. As most have seen BABEL and much has been written about it I feel no need to ramble on other than it is amazing, Brad Pitt didn't need to be here (oddly enough, turned down THE DEPARTED to do BABEL), Cate Blanchett (gawd, does this woman EVER sleep) skips the chameleon routine and plays it straight and despited being Oscar nominated here Rinko Kikuchi is still one of the best "unknown" actresses out there. I had hoped THE BROTHERS BLOOM might have fixed that problem but it looks like it tanked and I've yet to meet anybody who has actually seen it. A dark and beautiful piece of work not to be missed.

King's Ransom

The few times back in Toronto when I would hit the Caribana celebrations I would constantly see these t-shirts with "it's a black thing, you wouldn't understand" splashed across them. Mind you, I was at a FEAR concert once and saw a young skinhead with a shirt stating "it's a white thing and I'll MAKE you understand" but that is a different story. Thing I'm getting at here is I don't understand why people continue to make afrocentric (right word?) pictures with such dreaded stereotypes. KING'S RANSOM is horrid this way not to mention it's poorly made and the script is wretched. I did however greatly enjoy it. I love Anthony Anderson and Regina Hall from the SCARY MOVIE and other spoof films and will watch them in anything no matter how stupid. Like David Cross, I can't stand Jay Mohr, not a personal thing, it's the roles he takes.....I'm not supposed to like him...but here he has a character I rather took to. Still, it's a below average offering, will be of no use on television when it's edited though it could be funny in the way watching THE SOPRANOS on A&E is (hey mothermilker, didn't I flippin' tell youse to blow his fishin' head from his flubberin' shoulders?!?!??!?!) but it is worth a quick scan just to see the great Jackie Burroughs attack Anderson when he tries to steal her hooch.

I'm Not There

Here is another example of me being too snobby for my own damn good. I'M NOT THERE was an art house hipster darling hence I avoided as I would daylight or Perrier which considering the number of times I've seen Dylan was rather stupid of me but while I've been trying to figure out how to blurb this film for several months now let me start by saying I don't think the picture is about Bob Dylan at all. Yes, it uses his music, authorized at that, and it does splice together bit and pieces of his mythos but as a whole it's something quite unique and different. Todd Haynes explored something similar with VELVET GOLDMINE but here he seems to have perfected the concept and while much was made of the Oscar nominated Cate Blanchett (who once again chameleons herself into another amazing role) the entire cast is stunning. Richard Gere does stick out like bum note but this has more to do with his part and the contrast of how it is shot and presented than his acting. Special mention must be made of David Cross and his depiction of Allen Ginsberg. The resemblance is downright spooky, so much I though for a second they has upgraded and spliced in archival footage. If he had the time to work with a diction coach for this part he would have bang on nailed it and anybody thinking of doing a biopic on Allen should have Cross at the very top of their list to star.
Let me try and sum all of this up, the film is a must see, it is not so much about the historical Dylan as perhaps an exploration of us all and the many people we are in a lifetime and I'M NOT THERE is one to buy, not rent. You will want to watch it many times as it is truly an amazing piece of work.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mirror, Mirror III: The Voyeur

Not even the lovely Monique Parent can save this brokne mess and when you try to sell Billy Drago as a young love interest things are...well....just wrong. How David Naughton ended up here is beyond me and one might think Mark Ruffalo would have learned his lesson in MIRROR, MIRROR II! Avoid this mirror like you one whilst on acid or mushrooms.

National Treasure

Nicolas Cage gets himself an Indiana Jones type franchise in this fun natured, if generic, action thriller. About as believable as the news we're coming out of this current recession but still a boat load of fun. Sean Bean always makes a great bad guy and while I would have rather seen Christopher Plummer play Cage's dad rather than Jon Voight it was great to see him just the same. Also great to see Jon Turtletaub direct something worth watching. He was recently involved in that dreadful HARPER'S ISLAND experiment and gave us such gems as THE KID, 3 NINJAS, PHENOMENON and that abomination INSTINCT. With NATIONAL TREASURE it's just straight forward action with a good Masonic yarn thrown in and while I've not seen the second one as of yet I do hope Cage will continue to explore this character.

The Center of the World

Wayne Wang is one of those directors who love to try different things as his resume depicts. With such films as BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, THE JOY LUCK CLUB and LIFE IS CHEAP...BUT TOILET PAPER IS EXPENSIVE to his credit many will find THE CENTER OF THE WORLD a very dark departure. The grainy quality of the digital camera work can't hide the flaws in this depressing look at spiritual emptiness and the use of random sex to try and fill the void. Some will love the film, most will hate it as I noted when I saw it in the theatre back in the day. By films end, there were three people left in what had started as a full auditorium. This is not due to the work of Molly Parker or Peter Sarsgaard but rather the lack of cohesive narrative or paced continuity. Much like life it just meanders about and it's no wonder the film is mostly known for Alisha Klass' now famous lollipop scene. As stated, some will love it but for the less adventurous, beware.

Hotel Rwanda

While Terry George is best known for his script work he did open the eyes of many with this harrowing look at the conflict in Rwanda. The film has been attacked as being propagandic and misleading in it's political leanings but this is highly unfair. HOTEL RWANDA rightly focuses on one mans attempt to deal with a situation beyond rational thought. By now, many know the story told here even if they've yet to see the film as some tend to avoid it due to the subject matter. I understand this as I've met three people who survived these events and they are adament on one point, HOTEL RWANDA doesn't come close to depicting the true horrors which took place there. George uses a light hand directing here and it works well with Don Cheadle's work in the lead. Many people wanted this role, reportedly Denzel Washington and Will Smith were hot to take it and it's a good thing George held out for Cheadle as the film simply wouldn't have the same impact had he not been there. I cannot emphasise enough how amazing Cheadle's work is here and it still stuns me he lost the Oscar to Jamie Foxx that year. As great as Cheadle is he almost has the film stolen from him by Sophie Okonedo, another supremely casted character. Nick Nolte as the only fictitious though reality based character seems a little too American to be playing a Canadian peace keeper but even he blends into the grim picture. Like many great films, HOTEL RWANDA has scenes which will burn into your memory and these images are not pleasant but perhaps they are even more important now in these harsh economic times when many countries are trying to close their doors to immigrants and refugees. As conflicts of the nature seen in Rwanda continue to escalate around the globe it's essential we remember why these doors must remain open.

Valley Girl

Not counting a TV movie and a "don't blink or you'll miss it appearance in FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH this marks Cage's first big role and damn does he ever look young. I point this out only due to the fact by the time we see him in RUMBLE FISH and BIRDY, while still down there in years he certainly seems much older. VALLEY GIRLS is pretty much what you would expect from a film scripted in ten days as a response to Frank Zappa's hit of the same name. He actually did sue the studio but it was a waste of time as he lost his case. It's prett straight forward guy from wrong side of town has trouble hooking up with the girl on the other side and blah blah blah and while it is interesting to see THE PLIMSOULS on the big screen and Prescot Niles from THE KNACK is supposed to be in here but for the life of me I couldn't spot him, the real attraction is Cage. Even way back then he was using tricks which are now considered trademarks of his and it's a pleasure to see in this early incarnation. Certainly will be more enjoyable to those who lived through the era but should keep the attention of the young ones.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Is it just me or

do those Coke Zero commercials with the walking tongues and eyeball somehow manage to give you the willies?

Friday, July 10, 2009


Well, let me start by saying need for you to run out and catch this one on the big screen, you'll be happier no doubt to wait for the DVD as it's sure to have some great extras.


How can there be spoilers on this one?

Sacha Baron Cohen expands on his hit and run, hold-a-mirror to society antics in what is not so much a sequel to BORAT but an expansion of this theme only touching the homophobic nerve rather than the xenophobic one. For this very reason BRUNO will no doubt be a hit with the gay community, at least those with a sense of humor, but other than that after opening weekend I do not think this will have box office power, at least not in rural America.

Oh sure, there are funny bits guaranteed and I'm pretty sure Cohen counted his lucky stars he wasn't shot! That is IF, and it's one mighty big IF, certain key scenes weren't staged. This is only relevant as it's one of Cohen's selling points but there is no way you can tell me the scenes involving U.S. military weren't set up.
The most poignant part of the film comes with the octagon fight scene near the end and as a bit of social commentary it nears genius. However, I still find myself looking back to BORAT which had far better pacing and construction and point blank was funnier. It's kind of sad when Harrison Ford steals the entire picture in what amounts to less than a second of screen time!
As for the celebrity music video at the end......other than a few looks from Bono who is obviously in on the joke it was a waste of time though it was cool to see the Pillsbury Homosexual (Elton John) using a Mexican as a piano stool!
Well worth a boo but doesn't live up to the promos or the hype but hey, look at the bright side, at least we wont have to spend the next year listening to boring, ugly people doing vocal impersonations of Bruno like we did with Borat.

At the Midnight Hour

Charles Jarrott did television since the '50s so he knows how to put things together but while this Halequin sponsored bit of fluff has a script it sure could have used a bit more drama and tension. Always nice to see Cynthia Dale working but the only thing of interest here for me was Patsy Kensit who frankly I could watch on an informercial for cat litter for hours on end.

The Night of the Hunter

Take your pick, Mitchum as Max Cady in the original CAPE FEAR, or here in THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER as Harry Powell. Doesn't matter, either way he's portrayed two of the most demented villians ever to splash across the silver screen.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I'm not quite sure is music video directors receive broadcast roayalties or not but if they do Steve Barron is about to once again be rolling in some serious green as he was at the helm of Michael Jackson's BILLIE JEAN vid which has been in some serious rotation of late. In 1990 he was rolling in a different and similar type of green as this independantly produced feature concerning the pubescent group of mutated amphibians broke box office records and made serious boat loads of cash. As a film it's not much to write home about unless looked at through eyes of nostalgia and one could debate it's value to the current age market which this grabbed back in the day. Elias Koteas as always pretty much steals the show and it may prove to have been the best work of Corey Feldman, who voices Donatello, for the entire '90s.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Apt Pupil

The Stephen King novela on which this is based has long been one of my favorites of his works. This is due to the fact I can totally relate to the motivation of our young protagonist. This of course has greatly disturned many of my Jewish friends but I can understand how one would pump a Nazi war criminal for historical information rather than turn him over to the authoirites. In this Bryan Singer adaptation we are given a flawed represenatation of King's vision. The film is well enough made even with the variated ending but the problem is with the great Ian McKellen......he is simply TOO good in the lead as said Nazi and because of this everything around him pales in comparison. While Brad Renfro does his best to hang in there he falls short as does everybody else with perhaps the exception of Elias Koteas. Poor Joshua Jackson is all but wasted and what the hell David Schwimmer was doing here is beyond me but he looked like a fish out of water. Despite is short-comings APT PUPIL is one to be seen solely on the strength of McKellen's work which is superb.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Kirk and Spock and the Enterprise crew go back in time to save the whales and in the process save Earth. Sounds bloody ridiculous and I certainly thought so when this was released back in the day but it remains to many the favorite of the Trek films with the original crew and I must confess I now find it quite enjoyable. James Doohan has some of his best moments here as does Walter Koenig and Leonard Nimoy once again did a fine job of keeping all of the egos in check as director. He also has some of the best lines in the film which certainly has some great humorous moments and may even appeal to non-Trekker audiences.


Yes, we are actually talking about the 1942 Walt Disney classic and not the 1969 also classic Marv Newland short BAMBI MEETS GODZILLA. I recently had a discussion with a 9 year old who was adament the animation in VOLTRON was superior to that of BAMBI which prompted me to school him in the concept of the days when people hand drew or painted each individual frame of a cartoon or animated feature which boggled the poor little guys skull. In fact, watching BAMBI will pretty much boggle anybody's skull from that standpoint as the work is absolutely amazing. On watching it again I was surprised how the elements used here were revisited and expanded on in THE LION KING and I swear I was expecting Phil Collins to pop up any second and start singing The Circle of Life. As dark as BAMBI is what with the forest fire and Mama-Bambi buying the farm it was originally supposed to be even heavier with us seeing the charred remains of the hunter whose camp fire set off the big blaze and Bambi himself was to have been shot! Honestly! Many years later this one still holds up even if it wont interest most children over the age of five and you just have to love Peter Behn's vocal work as Thumper and Will Wright as Friend Owl's speech on "love" is a true great!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Queen Kong

Imagine if Benny Hill had done a remake of the 1933 version of KING KONG and you would be thinking in the right direction as to how QUEEN KONG comes off. Watching it many years after it was prevented from theatrical release due to legal issues one has to wonder why they bothered to make this. Funny yes but it came of as an extended episode of THE GOODIES who oddly enough did a great skit once called KITTEN KONG which they should have somehow included on this DVD. As it is, most of the women in QUEEN KONG showed up on said GOODIES and Benny Hill at one time or another and our lead man Ray Fay was played by Robin Askwith who recently showed up on that obscure British soap CORONATION STREET which don't forget airs almost a couple years late here across the pond. Worth a glance for fans of English humor or Kong lovers but otherwise missable.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Had Tim Curry not showed up to play Pennywise I would flat out say IT sucked!

The Education of Charlie Banks

OK. I'll admit it....I was more than prepared to get a serious hate on for this film. Other than their odd bit of wrestling rated work I've never been a big fan of LIMP BIZKIT and Fred Durst's arrogant and ongoing feud with my man Trent Reznor certainly doesn't help. So when I hear Durst is going to direct a film all I can think is "fuck me, not every rocker can pull a Rob Zombie and make a decent picture" so I was ready for a vanity project to burn my eyes and the mass media reviews pretty much confimed my feelings.
Damn, was I ever wrong and when will I stop listening to mass media critics.
For starters, rather than go for a horror or rock film he chose to execute a rather complex coming of age tale and either through good people around him, skill or simple luck out together a superb cast to pull it off. By no stretch Oscar material but a hell of a lot better than much of the shit being pumped out of Hollywood these days. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Ritter are excellent in their respective roles and easily carry this project to a satisfying conclusion. I greatly look forward to seeing more of them in the future and if Durst continues to deliver films of this calibre you can count me in.

Scream 2

Wes Craven adds a second piece to his spoof like horror series with somewhat mixed results. The red herring factor is almost replaced with nonsensical plot diversion at times but who cares, it's a chance to put some former A-listers and up-and-comers on the screen and hack 'em up. The opening moments are worth a look just to see Omar Epps die real good. Not that I don't like Epps, hell, watch him regular on HOUSE but it's great to see a fave get a good screen death. Likewise for Jada Pinkett Smith who buys the farm in a scene straight from DEMONI and is no doubt a fave of the Fresh Prince's when the two are not experiencing marital bliss. Sarah Michelle Gellar looks to be practicing for THE GRUDGE 2 and Heather Graham...well....I never can figure why Graham EVER dies in a film but that's just me. Let's put it this way, if you don't know what you're supposed to be getting with SCREAM 2 then it probably isn't meant for you. Look hard for Matthew Lillard, not so hard for Luke Wilson and ol' Craven himself pops in for a cameo.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A Dangerous Woman

This chicker where Debra Winger stars as a mentally challenged girl who is framed for a small theft at her work and has some sexual thingamajiggies going on put my ass to bloody sleep but upon discussing it with others I've discovered it has quite the following. I suppose Winger had to take such a role sooner or later as every "serious thespian" seems required to these days and while the cast is well rounded out with the likes of Gabriel Byrne, David Straithairn and director Dady Gyllenhaal's kids Maggie and Jake making their second big screen appearances, this one just didn't do much for me. Great to see Chloe Webb getting some screen time and of course Winger makes it watchable even if it couldn't keep me awake.

Color Me Blood Red

It's a shame the final part of Herschell Gordon Lewis' Blood Trilogy would have to be the weakest. The title says it all about this story concerning a struggling artist who shall we say...a new "way" to paint. Gordon Uas-Heim has a few moments here and the "art" is interesting to look at and linguists may enjoy the "teen" speak but even by Herschell's low budget standards this sticks out as a bad egg.

Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story

You would think a guy with a twisted sense of humor like myself would enjoy THE FAMILY GUY but much like THE SIMPSONS the show never did much for me. I enjoy Stewie and the dog and if they got rid of the other characters perhaps it would have tickled my it's a take it or leave it type of thing with myself more often than not leaving it. So, this feature length one had a few laughs but when the funniest thing I could find was Britney Spears falling and catching on fire, Bugs Bunny getting shot and Michael Clarke Duncan voicing a stork then perhaps one should look for information on this elsewhere.

R.I.P. Karl Malden

Bells of San Angelo

Though I'm not a fan of musicals or formula Westerns I do confess to having a soft spot for Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. BELLS OF SAN ANGELO is a clever little yarn having Dale Evans as a writer whom everybody thinks is a man viisitng the wild West to help solve a nasty little bit of crime. As a story this is the only unique aspect but the chemistry between Rogers and Evans is I gather just as it was in real life. One scene looks like an accident where Rogers turns around and elbows poor Dale in the boob and you can see her trying not to wince. One of the cooler tunes would have to be Hot Lead and of course we get to see the legenday Trigger and Fritz Lieber Sr. as the local padre.