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Showing posts from April 28, 2013

Review: The Squeeze

Michael Keaton stars as one of those quirky artists who work multimedia into their dopey sculptures. Rae Dawn Chong is the gumshoe who comes knocking on his door looking for him to pay a debt he owes a former lover, who turns out to have been murdered. The unlikely duo team up to investigate what turns out to be a conspiracy to rig the lottery with magnets in the little balls. Ronald Guttman plays a wealthy European industrialist, John Davidson is the cheesy lottery host, Meat Loaf is a sweaty thug named Titus, Leslie Bevis is a femme fatale, and Joe Pantoliano plays Keaton’s best bud.

Although he got off to a successful start in “Night Shift”, Michael Keaton’s career kinda floundered in mediocrity until 1988-89, wherein he hit the box-office big time in “Batman”, and also did great work in “Beetlejuice”, and an unforgettable dramatic turn in “Clean and Sober”. Hell, throw in the underrated comedy “The Dream Team” too. However, in order to get from “Night Shift” to “Beetlejuice”, it w…

Review: Lady in a Cage

Olivia De Havilland is a wealthy middle-aged woman with a broken hip, who travels up and down stairs in her house via a special lift, hence the film’s title. Her son (William Swan) has left for a weekend away with friends, having left behind a letter that seems to suggest her dependency on him has taken its toll on him severely. When the power lines outside accidentally get knocked out, De Havilland finds herself stuck in her lift between floors, with Swan not due back for days (if he comes back at all). A filthy wino (Jeff Corey) breaks in, takes possession of a few items and pawns them off, hoping to go back for more. Unbeknownst to him or De Havilland, Corey has attracted the attention of some young hoodlums (James Caan, Rafael Campos, and Jennifer Billingsley) who follow him to the house and set about running riot, frightening the bejesus out of a helpless and vulnerable De Havilland. Ann Sothern plays a plump hooker whose help Corey enlists to reappropriate De Havilland’s belongi…

Review: Street Smart

Magazine journo Christopher Reeve struggles to find a story to impress his snobby editor (Andre Gregory), but finally comes up with the idea of doing a story on a pimp. Unfortunately, his attempts at getting the likes of hooker Kathy Baker to talk to him go nowhere and girlfriend Mimi Rogers is worried about his safety in such seedy surroundings. Desperate for a story, he eventually decides to just make up the story about a fictional pimp named Tyrone.

Things become complicated when a crusading prosecutor (Jay Patterson) claims that the story is clearly based on a pimp named Fast Black (Morgan Freeman), who is currently on trial for the death of a ‘john’, a second degree murder charge. Reeve (who eventually moves into TV journalism) protests his innocence, but refuses to divulge his real source...because obviously there is none, and he’d get into even more hot poo if anyone found out. Needless to say, Patterson doesn’t believe a word he says and subpoenas him. And then he finally meet…

Review: Battle Royale II: Requiem

Three years after the first film and surviving teen Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is now seen as a dangerous terrorist who declares war on all adults. Meanwhile, a new class of over 40 students is about to be introduced to a slightly varied rendition of the brutal, dehumanising blood sport. Brought together by psycho teacher Riki (Riki Takeuchi), armed to the teeth and fitted with exploding collars (ala “Deadlock”) they are forced to take part in an assassination plot against Nanahara. But when they finally arrive at his island hideout, things aren’t what they seem, and Nanahara provides the students with an alternate scenario. One of the young combatants, played by Ai Maeda, is the daughter of Takeshi Kitano’s ‘Kitano’, the teacher from the first film (And yes, Ai Maeda is the younger sister to Aki Maeda from the first film who briefly turns up

here). The original “Battle Royale” was a wickedly funny, shocking twist on the old “Most Dangerous Game” plotline. This 2003 follow-up f…

10 Worst Appearances by Familiar Faces on "Prisoner"

With the debut of the re-imagined "Wentworth" to Aussie TV screens, I thought it might be fun to look back at some of the familiar faces from Aussie stage, TV (Future "Neighbours" and "Comedy Company" alumni in particular), and film who turned up on the original "Prisoner" (or "Prisoner Cell Block H" as it is known elsewhere) over the years of its run. However, whilst there havebeen some genuinely enjoyable performances and memorable characters played by well-known actors over the years (Sigrid Thornton, Rowena Wallace, Ray Meagher, Caroline Gilmer, Diane Craig, Anne Charleston, Anne Haddy, Tina Bursill, Tommy 'GoGo Mobile' Dysart, Maurie Fields, and Bill Hunter among the best), I instead wanted to focus on those now well-known names or faces whose appearances on the popular prison soap were less than memorable, except in retroactive 'Holy crap, did I just see John Blackman playing a mincing gay art buyer?' fashion. In …

Review: Kidnapped

Fernando Cayo, his wife Ana Wagener and daughter Manuela Velies have just moved into a new home. Unfortunately, there will be no house-warming, as three dudes in hoods barge in and hold the family captive, terrorising them. One of the men takes Cayo to an ATM to get all the money out of their bank accounts, whilst the women are left vulnerable at home. And these guys ain’t fuckin’ around, either.

This 2010 Spanish thriller from director and co-writer Miguel Angel Vivas isn’t for me. I don’t much like the home invasion/rape subgenre of thrillers, not even some of the better ones like “Straw Dogs”. The combination of simplistic plot (almost “Don’t Say A Word”, minus the disturbed girl) and unpleasant goings on rarely manages to keep me interested, let alone entertained. It’s not as slow or painfully uneventful as “The Strangers”, and is certainly more professional than any version of “Last House on the Left”. I just didn’t care.

The opening scene ends up not so much a red herring as com…

Review: Superman

We begin on Krypton, where Jor-El (Marlon Brando) is attempting in vain to convince his colleagues (Trevor Howard and Harry Andrews among them) that their planet is on the brink of extinction. Having failed to do so, he manages to help his baby boy escape before the planet explodes. The boy’s capsule lands on Earth, and the baby is found and soon adopted by Ma and Pa Kent (Phyllis Thaxter and Glenn Ford). The boy, renamed Clark, grows up trying to fit in with regular kids at school but it’s pretty obvious he has super powers- super strength and speed, imperviousness to pain...oh, and he can also fly. Eventually it becomes clear that there is a greater good to be served by Clark that stretches beyond his modest farm home in Smallville. Moving to the busy city of Metropolis, he assumes the identity of a mild-mannered Daily Planet reporter (now played by Christopher Reeve). But a quick phone booth change allows him to shed the dork glasses, don blue tights and a cape to become the city’s…