Wednesday, December 23, 2009
You just have to love a story which John Ford liked enough to direct three times, twice during the silent era and in this 1938 talkie version as a dedication to his late friend Harry Carey Sr. Carey Jr. is listed as making his introduction here even though he had done work prior but the real interest here in this odd Western adaptation of the Nativity story is John Wayne. The film actually ended the poor Duke's ass in the hospital from severe sun burn but this didn't stop him from giving one of the most unique performances in his life. The idea of juxtaposing three bank robbers on the run in to the three wise men is fantastic and this will certainly provide a wonderful break for those sick of Holiday sentiment even though they do manage to tack on a sappy and happy but truly satisfying ending. Look for Ben Johnson in his first credited role.
A Christmas Carol
Call me the old Scrooge if you must but I am not fond of this Edwin L. Marin film and I'll be the first to admit it probably has to do with the fact I saw and was raised on the Alastair Sim version of the Dickens tale which as coincidence would have it was released the year Marin died. It's my blog, my opinion but in fairness many take this adaptation over SCROOGE and it is a powerhouse of talent. Reginald Owen certainly does a fine job as Ebenezer and this is the only time the Lockart family appear together on film marking June's debut and we can't forget Gene was one of London, Ontario's own nor can we forget the thought Owen's appearance is said to have influenced Carl Barks creation of SCROOGE McDUCK a character perhaps better known than Ebenzer. Marin's no nonsense style of construction works here and this one is certainly worth a look though you must be warned of Terry Kilburn. God bless him but his portrayal of Tiny Tim is so annoying you'll want to grab a crutch and smack him upside the head with it!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Exit to Eden
I can't even remember reading the Anne Rice novel this was based on and while I'm positive I did and am quite sure I was rather happy to be free of broody complaining vampires for a minute or two I think it is safe to say anything good about Rice's book was "lost in translation" as they say. Simply put EXIT TO EDEN sucks. Poorly acted, poorly constructed and all around just poor which may be why I like it. The S&M fashionings of course were to my liking but the story drags and the plot is right up there with TRAILER PARK 'HOS STEAL SANTA'S HOSE TO SIPHON GAS PART VXI. If it weren't for her voice over I'd say Rosie O'Donnell is suprisingly good but the mentioned voice over is so annoying I can't. Poor David Aykroyd looks like he would rather be home though he has a great moment with his "real life" wife Donna Dixon and it is little things like this which make EXIT TO EDEN enjoyable when it shouldn't. Dana Delany? Love her but she too looks like she'd rather be fishing. If there is any true bright light here it would be Mrs. Bowie, Iman (make sure you hear David and the Bingster at least once this season!) who looks to be having a fab time and if you do manage to suffer this out to the end be sure to watch right to the final end of the credits where Iman has, by far, the funniest moment of the entire picture.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
I've only caught a couple of episodes of THE TUDORS but despite the big budget and pretty new stars I doubt it will ever hold a candle to the 1970 BBC mini series. There is just something about those British actors...when they get going they knock the blocks off the rest of the world and here we find a stellar array of character actors to bring this classic tale of England alive. While there isn't a weak link in the lot special mention must be Keith Michell in the lead and the make up department who transform him into Jenry through the different stages of his life. All around great stuff and a must see for those currently addicted to said TUDORS.
I don't care if this has Molly Ringwald and the great Kenneth Mars in it, it marks the film debut of Pauly Shore and thus all prints should be destroyed.
The Vampire Lovers
Roy Ward Baker pretty much started the whole vampire lesbo genre when he unleashed this now classic on the world back in 1970 and bloodsucker films have never been the same since. While slightly dated it still has some fantastic imagery not to mention the buxom stable of Ingrid Pitt, Madeline Smith, Kirsten Lindholm, Janet Key and Pippa Steel running about in various states of hysteria and one should be warned there is enough screaming in this film to easily wake up the dead. Peter Cushing is on board to do a bit of slaying and the marks the film debut of Jon Finch who we last saw in KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. This also stands out as being a proper adaptation of Le Fanu's CARMILLA and though a fair argument can be made for Roger Vadim's BLOOD AND ROSES doing it first so much of the film was cut for North American audiences we will give Baker his due as jump starting this ever so important part of the horror film universe.
In the Line of Fire
Here is one of those films I didn't like back in the day and now find myself rather fond of. This marks the last film to date Clint Eastwood would star in and not direct though he did hand pick Wolfgang Petersen for the job. As a story it's fair, the acting is standard with slight elevation on John Malkovich's end and Rene Russo being her pretty self but in the end IN THE LINE OF FIRE is one of those Saturday afternoon hangover films you grow to love much like the LETHAL WEAPON or DIE HARD series. One scene in particular always strikes me here at it is when Eastwood and Russo are eating ice cream at the Lincoln Memorial. Something about seeing Clint do so with the little wooden stick thingy (what the hell are they called anyway?!?!?!) stands out as a genius bit of character building technique, subtle but in many ways more effective than more blatant tactics such as when Malkovich visits the bank teller. Another great score provided by Ennio Morricone and look for Tobin "Jigsaw" Bell in a minor role.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Fantastic collaboration between director Richard Lowenstein and Pete Townshend expands on the themes Pete explored on the WHITE CITY album. Dealing with aspects of life in an ever surviving tenament project the stark cinematography works well with the musical content and this does come off as more of an actual motion picture rather than a long music video. Early role for now famous character actress Frances Barber and also includes Gwyneth Strong and Ewan Stewart. Will not be to the liking of all but required viewing for new Townshend enthusiasts.
The Final Conflict
Third part in THE OMEN series and it pretty much should have stopped there. While Sam Neill does a great job as Damien Thorn, now a business big wig manipulating famines and such across the planet, the rest of the film leaves much to be desired. Jerry Goldsmith yet again provides a fabulous score and this marks the final screen credit for Hazel Court, other than this, for serious fans of the series only.
The Kidnapping of Baby John Doe
The late Peter Gerretsen only made three movies, this television one being his first and while not a great piece of work it is not without merit. I am also reluctant to slam this one as I get the feeling he scripted it from a personal level and the subject is a rather serious one. Baby is born with down syndrome and an intestinal problem. Father does not want a retarded child and conives to have nature take it's course by not permitting corrective surgery for the gut to be performed and that is all I will tell you of the plot. While it runs slow there are moments and the moral aspects are of interest. The great character actress Jayne Eastwood takes the lead as the mother and she is well known to us here at Ink Casualty as the voice of the caller to the Nicki Brand Show (as Debbie Harry says "you need help lover, you need it bad") in VIDEODROME and while not credited Kenneth Welsh or a damn good look alike seems to appear as an extra in the court scene at the end.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Fair rendition of the harrowing tale concerning the members of the Uruguayan rugby team who survived a plane crash in the Andes. Ethan Hawke and Vince Spano do their utmost to try and make this one fly (no pun intended) but either the script or direction give it a made for television feel which takes away from the intensity of the story. Could be lumped in with our Christmas theme as they are all singing Silent Night (I think?) at one point which is strange as the crash took place on Friday the 13th OCTOBER 1972. What makes the story interesting other than the incredible odds of anybody surviving is how they did it, namely consuming some of their fellow passengers. Any kid growing up in the mid-'70s no doubt discussed the morality of such an action in school and what I find unique with ALIVE is the actors ate turkey jerky (after a two day fast to identify with the real survivors) and given the choice I think I'd take human flesh hands down. Illeana Douglas has a small role and John Malkovich does uncredited duty introducing and closing the picture from the perspective of the survivor who wrote the book.
The Exotic Time Machine
I don't know much about Felicia Sinclair. She has one writing credit and this as director in her IMDB profile and while this late night soft core bit of fluff is nothing special the lady at least seems able to make a flick. Some hotties in a space ship go romping through time to have some fun with the likes of Al Capone and Aladdin (did he exist?!?!?!) and Nikki Fritz as Marie Antoinette. Well known adult actress Gabriella Hall takes the lead if you want to call it that in what proves to be a rather funny film, intentional or not, with a bit of a story and a bit more going for it than, say, the RED SHOE DIARIES crap and such. Look for Taylor St. Clair and Franklin A. Vallette has a neat cameo.
Another big man's heart gives out, you will be missed Eddie Fatu, thanks for all the great matches and our thoughts here are with your family during this troubled time.
Friday, December 04, 2009
It's hard for me to give a proper blurb on this 1926 adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham's novel as the copy I had was a bootleg of a bootleg....maybe 8th or 9th generation. I gather it came from a broadcast in France or Belgium and who knows how many times it was copied before being converted from PAL format only to have the same thing happen here in North America. It seems I'm missing 10 minutes or so but at least enough is there to show how it may very well have had a serious influence on James Whale when he made Frankenstein and why the "possible" journey to Hell scene is so famous in serious film circles. The dance with pan, be it real or a dream is a wonderful example of early fantasy in the cinema and Rex Ingram does some great pioneer work here. Still not sure about the claim he converted Maugham's hypnotist with Alastair Crowley as the template and this may be of import as being an early example of the whole "based on a true story" gaff. Hard for me to comment on the lighting and use of shadows as the quality of my copy was too poor but many have praised it over the years. Paul Wegener, perhaps most famous for his title role in THE GOLEM (1915) does a great job of conveying the menace of our would be Crowley but this would unfortunately be one of director Ingram's last films.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Is it just me or.......
is India quickly taking over Blogspot? When I use the NEXT BLOG option up top I find I enter blog after blog either concerning Bollywood and it's icons or bored wives/techs going on about the mundane in the most fascinating and colourful fashion. This should not surprise me as the population of India is pushing one and a quarter billion and any time I need tech help of any form it seems my call happens to be forwarded there but much like techheads were scratching their collective noggins at the success of Facehook in Canada I find myself wondering why blogging has all of a sudden become so popular in this part of Asia. By no means a bad thing yet it still strikes me as a cultural oddity.
I Like It Like That
Writer/director Darnell Martin may indeed like it like this but I found myself wanting to poke my eyeballs out and pop them in the bloody toaster. Granted, I'm truly found of her work, especially on the LAW & ORDER series and OZ and it was great to see her working on HAPPY TOWN which I think will be a sleeper hit down the road and perhaps this is my difficulty with I LIKE IT LIKE THAT, it comes off as a long episode of FAME. Oh wait...THAT was a film, the only one in fact from Alan Parker I can't stand. May be to the taste of some readers here but it honestly struck me as a racier ABC AFTERNOON SPECIAL....may not be a bad thing but not for my lunch bag.
The Planet of the Apes
Because of the sequels and the rather poor television series many of the younger generation write this off as campy fluff when in fact this classic is anything but. Classic. I said it and I mean it. Michael Wilson and the late great Rod Serling did a stunning job adapting Pierre Boulle's novel and the direction of Franklin J. Schaffner is absolutely top drawer. Add stellar performances from the likes of Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall and a score by Jerry Goldsmith ans the result is one of the greatest science-fiction films of the '60s. Aside from the well known and often quoted "lines" POTA supplied it's ending still packs one serious hell of a punch and stands out as one of the all-time greatest shockers. If I were to make one complaint about PLANET OF THE APES it would be not staying faithful to the novel and having all of the humans naked. Sure, it marks the first time Charlton Heston did a nude scen but I certainly wouldn't have minded Linda Harrison running around au' natural for the duration of the picture. The well loved here at Ink Casualty Felix Silla has a cameo as one of the gorilla children as does fellow BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY performer Harry Monty. All of the bells and whistles aside this is a strong piece of sociological import and should be overlooked by none, sci-fan fan or not. This is film making at it's finest.
Joe Gould's Secret
That Joe Tucci would choose to do a project based on the work of Joseph Mitchell comes as no surprise to me. Mind you, any thinking actor could have done it but Tucci has that New York grit and curiousity as a performer which make him a natural for the material. It also should be said he's damn fine film maker and I wish he'd get behind the camera more often. This deals with a journalist for The New Yorker (Mitchell/Tucci) who has a gift for writing about the average man on the street. When he comes across Joe Gould his life changes forever in a rather shocking fashion. The great Ian Holm is once again spectacular as the possible genius Gould but it is how Tucci handles the transformation of Mitchell that struck me as most important. We've seen many films of this ilk from THE CAVEMAN'S VALENTINE to THE SOLOIST but somehow JOE GOULD'S SECRET struck me as more authentic than most. Marks the last film to date so far for Little Nell Campbell and fine support work from Hope Davis and Halle Hirsh with cameos from Steve Martin and Susan Sarandon.