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Showing posts from August 18, 2013

Review: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

James Coburn (whose eyes say a lot here) is Pat Garrett, a former gunslinger turned lawman by Gov. Wallace (Jason Robards Jr.) and corrupt cattle baron John Chisum (Barry Sullivan, in a role Coburn himself played later in “Young Guns II”) and hired to track down his one-time partner in crime, William H. Bonney, AKA Billy the Kid, and played by Kris Kristofferson. Has Garrett sold out or simply moved with the times, realising his old life was somewhat incompatible with long-living? (The film indeed seems to be the death knell for the Western outlaw way of life) Billy, for his part, stubbornly refuses to budge, and the two are obviously headed for a showdown that frankly neither really wants. Aiding Garrett are the likes of Sheriffs Baker (Slim Pickens) and McKinney (Richard Jaeckel), God-fearing deputised prison guard Bob Ollinger (a volatile R.G. Armstrong), another deputised prison guard named J.W. Bell (Matt Clark), and Alamosa Bill (Jack Elam). Billy’s cronies include Black Harris …

Review: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot

Sly Stallone stars as tough cop Sgt. Joe Bomowski, whose uber-macho slob world is turned upside down when his strangulating, interfering mother (Estelle Getty) comes to stay. She embarrasses him at work (baby photos and such- ZZZzzzz), interferes in his love life with Lt. Gwen Harper (JoBeth Williams), and manages to witness a murder. Thinking she’s helping her son’s career, she lies to the other police officers about what she really witnessed, as Stallone finds himself investigating the death of a gunrunner, flanked by his whiny mother. Roger Rees plays the smarmy villain, with Martin Ferrero and Gailard Sartain his boob henchmen. Richard Schiff is a gun shop owner, with Dennis Burkley doing illegal business outside out of a van.

I decided to give this notorious 1992 bomb from competent director Roger Spottiswoode (“Terror Train”, “Under Fire”, “Turner & Hooch”) a second chance. The verdict? It’s still one of the worst films ever made, featuring an embarrassed Sly Stallone, a tho…

Review: The Grey

An emotionally broken Liam Neeson is one of a group of fuel plant workers in Alaska whose plane crashes in the harsh wilderness, killing some of the men on impact. Neeson, going through some kind of personal grief (we see him acting suicidally early on, thankfully not going through with it), nonetheless acts as leader, as he was employed by the company as a sharpshooter to take out any threat from wild beasts. Yes, not only are the men having to battle the weather and possible starvation, but there are hungry, nasty wolves out there ready to pounce. Frank Grillo plays the most antagonistic of the workers, whilst others are played by Dermot Mulroney (“Young Guns”), Nonso Anozie (“Brighton Rock”), and Dallas Roberts (a million miles from the chilling surgeon he played in “Tell-Tale”).

Director Joe Carnahan (“Narc”, the underrated “Smokin’ Aces”) and star Liam Neeson atone for “The A-Team” with this harsh (really harsh), macho 2011 man vs. nature flick. Aside from a rather monotonous voi…

Review: The War Wagon

Ex-con John Wayne seeks revenge on rich bastard Bruce Cabot by gathering some men to help rob his title stagecoach. Kirk Douglas is his old acquaintance who has actually been hired by Cabot to kill Wayne, but decides to join his old buddy instead and go after the big money. Howard Keel is Wayne’s somewhat hapless Indian friend, Robert Walker Jr (son of the great Robert Walker from Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train”) is the young explosives expert who drinks too much. Character veteran Keenan Wynn, meanwhile, is the inside man. Nice bit part by Bruce Dern as one of Cabot’s men near the beginning (Dern, of course is the man who infamously killed The Duke in “The Cowboys” and received many a death threat for his troubles).

Not-bad 1967 Duke vehicle has the virtue of having comedy-western veteran Burt Kennedy (“Support Your Local Sheriff!”, “Hannie Caulder”) at the helm, but the comedy here is often dated (cue Keel as a supposedly smart-arse Indian. I didn’t laugh once!), and the title ve…

Review: Rock of Ages

Based on the Tony Award-nominated musical of the same name and set in 1987, Julianne Hough plays small town girl Sherri Christian (And no, Shandi, Rosanna, and Janie are not here. Missed opportunity!), who comes to LA on a hope and a dream. She wants to be a singer. Or maybe she just wants to get on that midnight train that leads anywhere (Or does it just go on and on and on?- Get used to it folks, semi-obscure musical in-jokes aplenty in this review). Diego Boneta is Drew, a bartender at rock club The Bourbon Room, on Sunset Strip, and he too dreams of being a singer. Meanwhile, the Bourbon’s owners Dennis and Lonny (Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand!) lament a Conservative campaign to shut the joint down by Mayor Whitmore’s (Bryan Cranston) wife Tipper...er...Patricia (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Tom Cruise plays zonked-out rock star Stacee Jaxx, who got famous from playing the Bourbon a while back, and has agreed to come back for a show (He also has a monkey companion that may or may not b…

Review: Traveller

A film about a close-knit ‘family’ of Irish-American grifters, headed by stern Luke Askew. Along comes young Mark Wahlberg, whose father was exiled from the family (for marrying an ‘outsider’), and thus Wahlberg is treated coldly as an outsider by all except Bokky (Bill Paxton), one of the senior-ranked grifters. Bokky stands up for the young man and decides to take him under his wing and teach him the Traveller lifestyle. Basically, ripping people off. Julianna Margulies plays a barkeep and single mum who the duo target, but Bokky starts to fancy her. Hmmm, wonder what Askew is gonna think of that. Nikki DeLoach plays the pretty young Traveller Wahlberg fancies, who just so happens to be Askew’s daughter. James Gammon plays a grizzled old con man the duo meet on the road (and who helps set up a big counterfeit scam in Vegas with a dangerous mobster as the target), and Rance Howard plays one of their intended victims.

For a slightly odd film that doesn’t quite come off, this 1997 flic…