Posts

Showing posts from 2014

Review: Ichi the Killer

Tadanobu Asano stars as Kakihara, who works for a Yakuza boss who has gone missing. A rumour is heard that the boss has been kidnapped by a rival gang. Kakihara, a violent and twisted sadomasochist tortures a rival gang member, which gets Kakihara kicked out of the gang. And that’s when he hears that his boss has been murdered by a mysterious killer known as Ichi (Nao Omori). Ichi is an odd character, docile and shy for the most part, and yet capable of great displays of gruesome violence. This is the handiwork of Jijii (Shinya Tsukamoto), a cruel manipulator who hates Kakihara’s gang, has turned Ichi into a killing machine by brainwashing him into thinking that everyone he kills was responsible for bullying him as a child. He also seems to get some kind of sexual charge out of killing, just so you know. Kakihara becomes obsessed with Ichi, perhaps sensing an ultra-violent kindred spirit, or perhaps because he’s a sadomasochistic perve. Yeah, let’s go with both of those.

Even if you’v…

Review: The Croods

The title refers to a prehistoric family, whose cautious patriarch Grug (voiced by Nic Cage) refuses to let the clan leave their cave aside from finding food, because…dinosaurs. And if not dinosaurs, then other beasties that like to eat smaller things that move. Grug’s motto is ‘Always be afraid’. The clan also includes a mother (voiced by Catherine Keener), a baby named Sandy, an aptly named son Thunk (voiced by Clark Duke), a grandmother (voiced by the amazing Cloris Leachman), and a rebellious teenage daughter Eep (voiced by Emma Stone). Eep wants more to life than the cave, she craves the outside world, and sneaks out one night, attracted by a bright light. The light turns out to be fire, something Eep knows nothing about. But hunky Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds) certainly does. But before the two have any chance to consider a teenage caveman romance, the ground beneath them starts to crack, destroying the Crood family home. Looks like they’re all gonna have to brave it in the wide…

Review: Plan 9 From Outer Space

Apparently our weapons-building and warmongering is pissing off inhabitants of other planets, worried that one day we might turn our war machines against them. In order to stop this from happening, these aliens (headed by The Ruler, played by the flamboyant ‘Bunny’ Breckinridge) enact Plan 9, resurrecting our dead to conquer the Earth. Gregory Walcott is our hero, pilot Jeff Trent, who teams up with army Colonel Tom Edwards (Tom Keene) and a police inspector (Duke Moore) to thwart the pompous aliens’ plans. Tor Johnson and Vampira turn up as the resurrected Inspector Clay and ‘Ghoul Woman’ respectively. Meanwhile, Bela Lugosi (who died during filming) stumbles about in his cape as another zombified corpse, credited as ‘Ghoul Man’. He was replaced in some scenes by Dr. Tom Mason, the chiropractor of Wood’s wife at the time!

Being that this 1959 Edward D. Wood Jr (“Glen or Glenda?”, “Bride of the Monster”) accidental classic is a one-of-a-kind film experience, rather than give you a trad…

Review: Empire State

Set in the 80s and based on true events, Liam Hemsworth stars as a Greek-American from a working class family, who wants to be a cop. A poor decision at a Black Sabbath concert with his reckless pal Michael Angarano years ago dashes those hopes. But Hemsworth feels bad that his hard-working father (Paul Ben-Victor) is stuck pretty much being a janitor disrespected by the local thugs, and he wants to help his parents out financially. For the time being he gets a job driving armoured cars and monitoring the depository. Things go awry on just his second day when veteran partner and family man Michael Rispoli is gunned down by robbers. After this, Hemsworth starts to become disillusioned. Rispoli’s family isn’t being taken care of by the company, the security cameras are dangerously easy to get around, and often he’s the only one there guarding all this money at the depository. The place is almost begging to be cleaned out. So Hemsworth starts to entertain the idea of robbing the joint. H…

Review: The Stone Killer

Charles Bronson plays a violence-prone but honest cop tackling the case of one arm of the Mob (represented by Martin Balsam) attempting to wipe out the other arm of the mob for a massacre committed against them in the 1930s! To do this, Balsam has hired mercenaries to carry out the hit, including war vet Stuart Margolin, and bisexual, jazz-loving weirdo Paul Koslo. Norman Fell plays a police chief, Ralph Waite plays Bronson’s shit weasel racist partner, Charles Tyner turns up as a doctor, Walter Burke plays a marijuana dealer, and John Ritter has a small role as a cop.

A great cast of character actors goes to waste in this boring 1973 attempt by hack director Michael Winner (“Death Wish”, “Chato’s Land”, “Lawman”, “The Mechanic”) and hack star Charles Bronson to give us another “Dirty Harry”. Hell, even composer Roy Budd (“Zeppelin”, “Get Carter”, “The Carey Treatment”) tries out his best Lalo Shifrin (“Coogan’s Bluff”, “Bullitt”, and “Dirty Harry”) impersonation here, with one of the…

Review: Chariots of Fire

A film concerning the performance of the British track team at the 1924 Olympic Games. The two primary characters are religious Scotsman Eric Liddell, and Jewish Cambridge student Harold Abrahams, who has to overcome prejudice from colleagues and educators (hello Sir John Gielgud and Lindsay Anderson). Sir Ian Holm plays Abrahams’ athletic coach Sam Mussabini, Cheryl Campbell and Alice Krige (who looks anaemic) are the two athletes’ respective spouses, Brad Davis and Dennis Christopher play a couple of American runners, Nigel Davenport turns up as a Lord, and Patrick Magee is a seriously cranky Lord.

There’s potential for great drama and interest in the story of Olympic runners, but this 1981 Best Picture Oscar winner from director Hugh Hudson (the subsequent “Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan”) and Oscar-winning screenwriter Colin Welland (who also scripted “A Dry White Season”) chooses the wrong real-life story, in my view. I just couldn’t get into the story of a bunch of snooty, toff…

Review: Blue Steel

Jamie Lee Curtis is a rookie cop who gets involved in a bit of a mess when forced to shoot a convenience store robber (Tom Sizemore), and then has to explain to her superiors (Kevin Dunn and Clancy Brown) where the robber’s supposed gun has vanished to. The audience knows that Wall Street trader Ron Silver (who was in the store at the time) picked up the gun and pocketed it himself. Curtis is suspended over the incident. Silver is, it turns out, a nutjob on a power trip who becomes obsessed with Curtis and starts murdering random people with Curtis’ name on the bullets. He also manufactures a ‘meet cute’ with Curtis, and charms his way into dating her. Eventually he reveals his true self to her, but Curtis can’t seem to make charges stick to him, so he is free to terrorise her. Phillip Bosco plays Curtis’ abusive bastard father, Louise Fletcher is strangely cast as her doormat mother, the late Elizabeth Pena is Curtis’ best friend, Richard Jenkins is Silver’s clueless lawyer, and Matt…

Review: After Earth

Set in the future, where humanity has left planet Earth due to a huge environmental disaster and relocated to another planet called Nova Prime. Will Smith stars as a decorated and fearless ‘Ranger’, who agrees to take his aspiring Ranger teenage son Jaden Smith on his next mission. Their spacecraft runs into trouble and crash lands on the nearest planet. The planet turns out to be Earth (but it looks rather alien and the atmosphere is toxic), and the only survivors of the crash are Jaden and his injured father. With his dad incapacitated and likely dying, Jaden must make the long and dangerous trek to locate and activate the emergency beacon. It looks like the son might just get his chance to prove his worth to his soldier father. Does he have what it takes to complete this mission, especially on an Earth that seems to have evolved/devolved into an evil, dangerous (yet aesthetically pleasing) planet? Sophie Okonedo plays the wife and mother of our respective protagonists.

Every new fi…

Review: Jack

When Diane Lane goes into labour well before her due date, the doctors are somewhat perplexed and alarmed. It only gets weirder as she gives birth to the title character, who is growing at a much faster rate than normal human beings. The film proper picks up with Robin Williams playing the character as a ten year-old in what looks like the body of a 40 year-old. A really, really hairy 40 year-old. For the past ten years, Jack has been home-schooled by tutor Bill Cosby, but Jack yearns to be with other kids, and his parents (which include dad Brian Kerwin) reluctantly allow him to attend school, to be taught by the enormously sweet Miss Marquez (Jennifer Lopez). Most of the kids are rude or simply weirded out by Jack, but he makes fast friends with one boy (Adam Zolotin), who invites him to play basketball, and eventually the others fall into line and embrace his eccentricities (Like all kids would, right?). But Jack’s experiences being a ‘normal’ kid, after having been sheltered by hi…

Review: A Passage to India

Based on the classic E.M. Forster novel and set in the 1920s, Judy Davis stars as young Miss Quested, who travels to British-governed India with the elderly Mrs. Moore (Dame Peggy Ashcroft), who is most excited to see something of the ‘real India’, not the British-tainted stuff. Nigel Havers plays Ashcroft’s magistrate son, and Miss Quested’s intended, who just doesn’t understand their curiosity with India. Much more helpful is the rather liberal, educated Dr. Fielding (James Fox), who introduces the women to his good friends, the cheerfully and eager to please Dr. Aziz (Victor Banerjee) and the elderly, somewhat daft Hindu teacher named Godbole (Sir Alec Guinness!). Dr. Aziz and Miss Quested get along famously, and in a moment of haste, Dr. Aziz suggests taking her on a trip to some local caves. Unfortunately, something happens to Miss Quested inside the caves, and she later emerges to accuse Dr. Aziz (who seems to have a sweet infatuation with her) of attempting to rape her, and the…

Review: The Counsellor

Um…I’ll do my best here, folks. Michael Fassbender plays the title character, who is never called anything else in the film. He’s a Texan lawyer with a lovely fiancĂ© (Penelope Cruz) and a stupid belief that it’s a good idea for him to make some money through a drug deal with his more experienced partner Reiner (Javier Bardem), and cowboy hat-sporting middle man called Westray (Brad Pitt). Things don’t go according to plan, including something involving the no-good son of The Counsellor’s imprisoned client (Rosie Perez) causing big problems for The Counsellor and anyone close to him. Cameron Diaz turns up as Bardem’s cynical, femme fatale girlfriend who ain’t no dummy, Bruno Ganz turns up as an Austrian diamond jeweller, Sam Spruell plays a nasty member of the drug cartel, and Ruben Blades is a kingpin called ‘El Jefe’.

Some people might like this 2013 crime flick from director Ridley Scott (“Alien”, “Blade Runner”, “American Gangster”) and author turned screenwriter Cormac McCarthy (w…