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Showing posts from September 14, 2014

Review: The Devil’s Playground

Set in Australia in the 50s at a Catholic boarding school for youngsters interested in becoming part of the Brotherhood, Simon Burke stars as young teen Tom, who although dedicated, has issues with masturbation and sinful thoughts, and also wets the bed. Meanwhile, the authority figures are having their own struggles, with somewhat laidback, beer-loving Brother Victor (Nick Tate), and borderline psychotically repressed Brother Francine (Arthur Dignam) both tempted by pleasures of the flesh. Thomas Keneally (!) turns up as a visiting priest, Charles McCallum and Jonathan Hardy play two of the Brothers, Anne Phelan tries to pick up Tate in a pub, and her “Prisoner” alum Sheila Florence plays an Irish cook (Oh no, don’t put Lizzie in charge of the tucker!) at the school.

I don’t know if it’s because the TV miniseries sequel deals with darker subject matter or if it’s my own bias rearing its head, but this 1976 directorial debut from writer-director Fred Schepisi (“Roxanne”, “Evil Angels”

Review: Toy Story 2

A sneaky toy collector (voiced by Wayne Knight) nabs Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), and the toy cowboy is lumped with prospector Stinky Pete (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) and cowgirl Jessie (voiced by Joan Cusack), as Woody learns that in another life he was the star of a 50s TV series called ‘Woody’s Roundup’. But can Woody’s new/old family be trusted? Back at Andy’s home, Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) rounds up the troops for the rescue mission. Along the way we find Barbie (voiced by Jodi Benson), Mrs. Potato Head (voiced by Estelle Harris), plus an imposter Buzz Lightyear doll (with a pretty small ‘enhancement’ four years after the first one hit the shelves…bit dubious, but OK) that causes havoc at one point.

I enjoyed all three “Toy Story” films, and there’s not all that much difference in quality amongst them. However, I’d put this 1999 sequel from directors John Lasseter (“Toy Story”, “Cars”), Ash Brannon (who helped with the animation for the other two films), and Lee Unkric…

Review: Toy Story

The adventures of a group of toys owned by young Andy (voiced by John Morris), who come to life when he’s not around. The main plot centres around the arrival of a new toy, egotistical ‘space ranger’ Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen), a pompous arse who thinks he’s a real space ranger. The fact that Andy is playing with this new toy especially hits cowboy doll Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) really hard, as he was previously Andy’s favourite. However, the other toys start to believe in Buzz’s hype, making things even worse for Woody. Even worse than that? The fact that Woody accidentally causes Buzz to end up in the neighbouring backyard, home to a toy-destroying little bully of a kid. Now it’s the space hero who needs rescuing, whilst the other toys accuse Woody of jealousy-motivated attempted murder. Don Rickles voices Mr. Potato Head, R. Lee Ermey voices the leader of a group of toy soldiers, and John Ratzenberger is the voice of Hamm, a piggy bank (which is a pretty shitty excuse f…

Review: The Great Gatsby (2013)

Set in the hippin’ and the hoppin’ 1920s New York, with Midwesterner Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) having moved there to work in the world of bond trading. It’s here that he finds himself immersed in and intoxicated by the glitz and glamorous high society world of his cousin Daisy (Carey Mulligan) and the elusive but charming millionaire Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a man fond of throwing parties and the phrase ‘old sport’. Gatsby is in love with Daisy, who is married to racist and philandering crook named Tom Buchanan, who is carrying on an affair with Myrtle (Isla Fisher, looking like a redheaded Betty Boop), in turn married to auto shop owner George (Jason Clarke).

Baz Luhrmann (“Australia”, “Moulin Rouge!”, “Romeo + Juliet”) and I simply don’t see eye to eye. His vision doesn’t interest me all that much, and he has yet to make a film that I’ve liked. That trend continues in this hyperreal 2013 adaptation of the celebrated F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. I’ll say one thing, though, B…

Review: Man of Steel

We begin on Krypton, with the birth of Kal-El, son of Jor-El (Russell Crowe). Knowing his planet is about to be kaput (insert global warming message here), Jor-El sends his newborn child (the first natural birth on Krypton in ages, by the way) to Earth, so that he can continue living. This angers General Zod (Michael Shannon) who tells Jor-El that he will go to Earth, find his son and end him. Kal-El lands somewhere in Kansas, and is soon adopted by Kansas farm owners the Kents (Kevin Costner and Diane Lane), who know the infant is special and different but raise him as best they can. Years later, the adult Kal-El (played by Henry Cavill) is a brooding 33 year-old (A 33 year-old destined for greatness? That sounds like a certain carpenter I know) who hasn’t quite been able to deal with being so different and super-powered, coming off as somewhat of a loner. However, his occasional forays into miraculous derring-do attract the attention of intrepid reporter Lois Lane (Amy Adams), who i…

Review: Dead in Tombstone

Danny Trejo plays a dead rock musician…er…outlaw who strikes a deal with the Devil himself (Mickey Rourke himself) to be resurrected for 24 hours in order to kill the bastard turncoat bandits who bumped him off in the first place, led by Anthony Michael Hall. If he brings the Devil these six souls (who, along with Trejo were planning on taking over a gold-mining town), he’ll save his own soul from an eternally Hellish fate. Or so Beelzebub says. I mean, he’s the Devil and he’s played by Mickey Rourke, after all. Dina Meyer plays a local widow whose husband was killed, leaving her vengeful towards Hall’s gang too.

Direct-to-DVD specialist Roel Reine has made a name for himself making films that are a damn sight better than they have any right to be but never quite good enough to recommend. “Death Race 2”, “The Marine 2”, and Steven Seagal’s “Pistol Whipped” all had their desirable elements, but were just shy of being worthwhile. Well, you can add this Satanically-tinged western from 20…

Review: Journey to the West

When a local village appears to be terrorised by a bloodthirsty monster, Chen Xuan Zang (Wen Zhang) arrives on the scene, claiming to be a successful demon hunter (He’s also a Buddhist monk). His attempts at slaying this watery demon don’t go so well, because Chen Xuan Zang is a teeny bit crap, and possibly a charlatan. Thankfully, a much more accomplished demon hunter Miss Duan (Shu Qi) turns up and quickly brings the demon to an end. She laughs at her male counterparts tactics, which may or may not come from a nursery rhyme book. Later the two meet when set upon by a pig demon, who eventually escapes. Somewhere in all of this, Miss Duan bizarrely finds herself attracted to Chen Xuang Zang, who appears frightened by her advances. Instead, he flees to his Master, ashamed at his inadequate demon-hunting skills. The Master, however thinks that all he needs is to find the imprisoned The Monkey King (Huang Bo) and seek his help. The Monkey King, however, isn’t always a team player, and is…