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Showing posts from April 29, 2012

Review: Go to Blazes

A trio of none-too-bright crooks (Dave King, Norman Rossington, and spiv Daniel Massey) buy a used fire engine as a means of making a clean getaway in their criminal exploits. A pretty smart idea except that they end up spending more time putting out real fires than doing ‘jobs’. They hire a disgraced former fire chief (Dennis Price) and a fire-loving scientist (Robert Morley) to help them stage a fire in a swanky boutique next door to the bank. Dame Maggie Smith is the girl Massey charms, who works at the boutique. Long-serving character actor Finlay Currie turns up fleetingly as a condemning judge.

Amusing 1962 Michael Truman (Not surprisingly a former editor for Ealing Studios) British comedy-caper gets a lot of mileage out of a top cast, aside from dud lead King, who just doesn’t cut it in my opinion. Robert Morley (as a firebug scientist), Miles Malleson (as a fire truck salesman), and Daniel Massey (as the ‘pants man’ of the group) are especially funny, and for once the caper si…

Review: Raging Bull

The story of boxer Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro), who was as raging in the ring as out, with a violent temper, massive insecurities, and insane jealousy that continually got the better of him and alienated those whom loved him best. Cathy Moriarty is his pretty young wife, whom he is viciously protective of, Joe Pesci is his long-suffering brother, and Frank Vincent gets the crap kicked out of him by Pesci for the first of their motion picture rivalries (continued in “Goodfellas” and “Casino”). Character actor Mario Gallo essentially gets the Mickey role from “Rocky”, and plays it well.

Unpleasant, but masterfully made and engrossing 1980 Martin Scorsese (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, “Goodfellas”, “Mean Streets”) biopic of boxer Jake LaMotta, an utterly repugnant character one is surprised to endure the company of for around two hours. We never like Jake, but thanks to Scorsese (whose choice of B&W photography was a masterstroke, giving the non-boxing scenes a sort of beauti…

Review: Newsfront

The tale of several Aussie newsreel makers from the late 40s through to the 60s, especially focusing on hardworking and fiercely loyal, veteran cameraman Bill Hunter. Gerard Kennedy is his brother, who works for a rival company, after ‘selling out’ and heading for the United States, owners of the rival company. Angela Punch-McGregor is awful as the caricatured, conservative Catholic girl Hunter unhappily weds. Wendy Hughes is the co-worker he becomes involved with. Chris Haywood plays the relatively green, likeable camera assistant (who becomes Hunter’s sidekick/protégé of sorts), and Bryan Brown is also memorable as a left-leaning editor. Look out for former pop idol, one-hit wonder and former reality TV irritant Mark Holden late in the film, as a much less enthusiastic protégé/assistant.

Lauded 1978 Aussie drama from Phillip Noyce (“Rabbit-Proof Fence”, “Dead Calm”, “Blind Fury”) offers a pretty interesting, authentic tale of our newsreel filmmakers around the time television came t…

Review: True Grit

Set in the Old West, Hailee Steinfeld stars as the determined teenager Mattie, looking for revenge on the man who killed her father. The guilty man, Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) has fled and is currently concealed within the posse of Lucky Ned Pepper (played by another Pepper, Barry). When the law seem reluctant to help, Mattie turns to hard drinkin’, hard livin’, one-eyed Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges- looking like Bad Blake just kept on drinkin’). Asking him to act as a bounty hunter, Rooster ain’t having any of it. Money soon changes his mind, however, and off they set (though Rooster tries to dissuade the girl from tagging along- to no avail), soon joined by determined Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon). The latter is looking for Chaney over a political assassination and isn’t much keen on Rooster cutting in, let alone having to put up with a young girl! He’s a well-meaning (if cocky) and dedicated man, but you better not besmirch the good name of the Texas Rangers, or else! Da…