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Showing posts from July 21, 2013

Review: How About You

Widowed Orla Brady runs an Irish countryside home for the elderly, and is forever fearful that the struggling home is due for foreclosure. When one of her parents takes gravely sick, straight-laced Brady must leave the home in the care of her younger and more rebellious sister Hayley Atwell (much more effective than in the later “Captain America”), over the Christmas break. A lot of the residents are at home with their families, and it’s not hard to see why the remaining four are left behind. They’re a strong-willed, fussy, and cantankerous foursome who prove to be awfully resistant of Atwell (who was initially hired by Brady as a maid) at first, and she doesn’t much like taking their demanding crap, either. There’s long-retired former actress Vanessa Redgrave (who acts the Diva and demands martinis), bickering spinster sisters Brenda Fricker (older and more domineering) and the perfectly cast Imelda Staunton (fussy and deeply insecure), and cranky old bastard former judge (and former…

Review: The Evil Dead II

Ash (Bruce Campbell) goes up to that creepy cabin in the woods from the first film, with his girlfriend (Denise Bixler), and it’s not long before crazy undead shit starts up once more. He even loses his hand. Meanwhile, the daughter (Sarah Berry) of the professor whose taped voice is responsible for the unleashing of demons, is on her way to the cabin too (the cabin is owned by dear old departed dad).

I have no idea why it took me 26 years to get around to seeing this much-loved horror classic from 1987 (I only saw “Re-Animator” for the first time maybe ten years ago), but I’m pleased to report that I’ve rectified that situation. Directed and co-written by Sam Raimi (“The Evil Dead”, “Darkman”, “Drag Me to Hell”) it is at once the same as its predecessor and different. When Ash gets put down in the cellar here, you really get the feeling that this is his insane nightmare re-imagining of the events of the first film rather than a true sequel. I’ve heard that the opening was just a way …

Review: Hollywood Ending

Woody Allen (probably a bit too old at this point) stars as Val Waxman, a once great filmmaker whose ‘difficult’ reputation and a myriad of neuroses and eccentricities, has seen him slide in stature and struggle for decent work. He is thrown a bone by his ex-wife Ellie (Tea Leoni), a producer who tells her douchebag executive boyfriend Hal (Treat Williams), that Val is the perfect person to handle the script for ‘The City That Never Sleeps’. Hal isn’t sure, but Ellie is ultimately able to persuade him. Unfortunately, somewhere in between hearing this news and the first day of shooting, Val develops a form of blindness...a psychosomatic one. He doesn’t want to blow his opportunity, though, and turns up to direct the picture nonetheless, only telling his perfectly named agent, Al Hack (Mark Rydell) of his imaginary illness. When cast and crew get nervous over Al’s presence on set, Al and Val decide to let someone else in on the secret, someone whose presence on set every day is crucial;…

Review: J. Edgar

A biopic of the first FBI director, a man who traded in exposing enemies’ secrets, whilst secretly struggling with his own sexuality (which seems somewhere in between repressed homosexuality and asexuality). He was a man obsessed with bringing down enemies both within and outside of America, seemingly by any means necessary. Armie Hammer plays Clyde Tolson, Hoover’s second in command, and most treasured companion, whilst Naomi Watts plays Hoover’s trusted and long-serving secretary (the only one who has access to his ‘secret files’). Dame Judi Dench plays Hoover’s beloved mother, who warns him against being a ‘daffodil’, something that haunts and torments Hoover throughout his life (despite her being an otherwise loving mother). Smaller roles are filled out by Josh Lucas (as Charles Lindbergh), Jeffrey Donovan (as RFK), Dermot Mulroney (who scoffs at the FBI’s early adoption of forensics in criminal investigations), Ed Westwick (as a Hoover biographer), Geoff Pierson (as an Attorney-G…

Review: The Eagle

Set in 140AD, the film concerns Roman centurion Channing Tatum, whose father was the commander of the infamously ill-fated Ninth Legion of 5,000 men still MIA. Tatum attempts to restore prestige and honour to his family by tracking down the title gold eagle, which was a proud emblem of the Roman army, but is currently lost. Jamie Bell plays a British slave named Esca, who accompanies Tatum on his mission beyond Hadrian’s Wall. But can Esca be trusted? (His people were Tatum’s father’s sworn enemy, after all) Donald Sutherland plays Tatum’s uncle, Tahir Rahim plays a villainous tribal leader, and Mark Strong turns up as one of the lost legionnaire.

This 2011 film from director Kevin Macdonald (“Touching the Void”, “The Last King of Scotland”, “State of Play”) and screenwriter Jeremy Brock has some fine elements in it, but there’s a whole lot of wrong here too. The cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (whose handheld work on “Antichrist”, “Slumdog Millionaire”, and “127 Hours” hardly ma…

Review: Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen

Donnie Yen stars as Chen Zhen, who kicked German arse during WWI, before faking his own death and assuming the identity of a fallen comrade (something to do with having killed a man who wronged him). Now in 1920s China, he’s a dashing, ivory-tinkling playboy and co-owner of the Casablanca nightclub with Anthony Wong’s Liu Yutian. Now called Qi, he learns that a nasty Japanese General (Ryu Kohata) plans on taking advantage of the fractured nature of 1920s China and turn Chinese Generals Zeng and Zhuo against each other. Inspired by the ‘Masked Avenger’ character on cinema screens (kinda a lot like The Green Hornet), Chen Zhen (who is already impersonating the dead Qi, mind you) dons the cinema icon’s disguise to stand up for China and defeat the enemy. However, it would appear that the Japanese have a mole inside Chinese ranks. Qi Shu plays a songstress at the club whom Chen Zhen takes a fancy to.

Although Donnie Yen doesn’t much seem like a gregarious playboy-type to me, this Wai-keun…