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Showing posts from October 26, 2014

Review: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Scarlett Johansson and her less flighty best friend Rebecca Hall are Americans on holidays in Barcelona, Spain. Hall (who is also doing her Masters on something called Catalan identity) is about to wed the rather dull Chris Messina, but one night local artist Javier Bardem approaches the girls with a proposition; He will take them away on his own plane for a weekend of fun, and presumably a ménage-a-trois. Sensible Hall is immediately resistant to the idea, but Johannson considerably less so and somehow this charmer manages to whisk them away and although it doesn’t quite go smoothly, both women appear to have feelings for the romantic painter. But then Messina makes a surprise visit to see Hall, and she tries to forget about Bardem. As for Johansson, however, it’s not long before she has moved in with Bardem and they have become a couple. All seems to be going well for the two of them, and that’s when Bardem’s tempestuous, suicidal ex-wife Penelope Cruz shows up, and moves in with Ba…

Review: Lust for a Vampire

Set in Austria, Count and Countess Karnstein (Mike Raven and Barbara Jefford) have managed to resurrect Mircalla, previously seen in “The Vampire Lovers”, but this time with Danish-born Yutte Stensgaard replacing Polish-born Ingrid Pitt. The Countess, who normally goes by the name Countess Herritzen enrols the beautiful Mircalla at a posh girls’ school as her niece. Here she seduces and feeds off the blood of nubile young students, whilst occult/horror writer-turned-teacher Michael Johnson and nerdy history teacher Ralph Bates find themselves besotted with the new arrival. Christopher Neame can be seen amongst the torch-brandishing villagers towards the end, whilst Pippa Steele (last seen in “The Vampire Lovers”) once again plays a sapphically-inclined and ill-fated young woman.

Although it contains a healthy dose of nudity, this 1971 Hammer film from directorJimmy Sangster (director of “The Horror of Frankenstein” and writer of “The Horror of Dracula”) and writer/producer Tudor Gates…

Review: Outside Providence

Set in Rhode Island in the mid-70s, Shawn Hatosy stars as a stoner no-hoper whose boorish widowed father (Alec Baldwin) gets tired of his delinquency and decides to send him to an exclusive prep school focussed on academic excellence and upstanding behaviour. No drugs, no alcohol, no sex. Hatosy manages to get around these three rules and even falls for a female student (Amy Smart) who is as beautiful as she is smart, and despite this she somehow falls for Hatosy too. It’s through this girl that Hatosy starts to…well, learn something for the first time in his life. Jon Abrahams plays Hatosy’s best bud named Drugs Delaney, Jonathan Brandis plays one of his other stoner pals, whilst Richard Jenkins and George Wendt prove that Alec Baldwin has better friends than Shawn Hatosy does.

I didn’t know going in that this 1999 film from director/co-writer Michael Corrente (“American Buffalo”) was co-written by the Farrelly Brothers (“Dumb & Dumber”, the overrated “There’s Something About Mar…

Review: Lovelace

The story of Linda Boreman (Amanda Seyfried), a somewhat naïve young woman still living with her strict parents (Robert Patrick and Sharon Stone), and who becomes involved with Chuck Traynor (Peter Sarsgaard), who she quickly marries. This turns out to be a mistake, as the slimy charmer Traynor pressures her into starring in a hardcore porn movie called “Deep Throat”, after discovering Linda (now called ‘Linda Lovelace’) has a special ‘talent’ for fellatio. The film becomes an enormous success and a talking point/punchline for TV comedians…but Linda sees practically nothing of that success, with opportunistic Traynor controlling her finances, as well as being physically abusive towards her. Meanwhile, her conservative parents feel ashamed/embarrassed of her, and her mother will no longer allow her in her home. Hank Azaria plays “Deep Throat” director Gerry Damiano, Bobby Cannavale plays Damiano’s cohort Butchy Peraino, whilst Chris Noth plays the principal backer of “Deep Throat” (<…

Review: Cold Sweat

A fit-looking Charles Bronson stars as an American in France, who makes a living taking tourists on boating trips, and is married to Liv Ullman, and they have a young daughter together. What Ullman doesn’t initially know is that Bronson has a criminal past, and that past is about to catch up with him. Actually, he’s a former military man who served under Captain James Mason. He was imprisoned for striking an officer, and the prison stint saw him re-unite with Mason, who was serving time for multiple crimes. But when Mason led Bronson and several others (including Jean Topart and Luigi Pistilli) on a prison break that saw a policeman killed, Bronson (the getaway driver) drove off, leaving the others for dead (or more accurately, re-capture). Now Mason and the gang have managed to find Bronson, and kidnap his family in order to blackmail him into transporting illegal drugs. Instead, Bronson tracks down Mason’s idiot hippie girlfriend Jill Ireland and holds her captive in an isolated cab…

Review: Only God Forgives

Ryan Gosling stars as a Thai-based drug dealer and owner of a kickboxing club, the latter of which is really a front for the former. His wayward brother Tom Burke has raped and killed a 16 year-old prostitute. The girl’s father is distraught and turns to ex-cop Vithaya Pansringarm for guidance. The ex-cop tells the father he must kill Burke, which he promptly does. This brings about the arrival of the brothers’ mother, Kristin Scott Thomas, who wants bloody revenge for the murder of her favourite son. This ugly, bloody situation is surely going to get even worse as Gosling and Pansringarm are clearly set on a collision course.

This is my third Nicolas Winding Refn film after the cool “Drive” and the pretentious but memorable and violent “Valhalla Rising”, and this 2013 revenge drama/thriller isn’t quite on the level of those films. In fact, it is a little emptier than those films on the whole. However, none of the three films is remotely boring, and the writer-director certainly has a…