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Showing posts from 2015

Review: The Left-Handed Gun

A re-telling of the story of William H. Bonney, AKA Billy the Kid (Paul Newman) who becomes embittered and violent when his mentor, genteel rancher Tunstall (Colin Keith-Johnston) is gunned down by a sheriff’s posse (one being corrupt Sheriff Brady himself), working for an intimidating rancher named Morton. Billy makes it his mission to hunt down Tunstall’s killers and get revenge, aided by two of Tunstall’s men, Charlie Bowdre (James Congdon) and Tom O’Foliard (James Best). The latter two are somewhat in over their heads however, as Billy is much more violently motivated than they are, shocking even hero-worshipping writer Moultrie (Hurd Hatfield). Complications arise when Billy’s new ally Pat Garrett (John Dehner) tires of his friend’s gun-happy ways and (after Billy breaks an amnesty) finally decides to give in to the demand that he become sheriff, setting up a showdown between the two pals. John Dierkes plays Tunstall’s loyal business partner McSween.

Although 30+ year old Paul Ne…

Review: Automata

Filmed in Bulgaria and set in 2044 where most of humanity has been erased due to huge solar flares. Antonio Banderas plays an insurance agent for a big robotics company, but the dire living circumstances have seen robots built with a certain cost-effective, low-tech in mind. Robots have been configured to help humanity in their day-to-day lives, but also making sure that they can’t repair themselves (or each other), as well as the standard Asimovian condition that they never harm human beings. However, one such robot is indeed believed to have broken the ‘Thou shalt not repair thyself’ commandment and it’s up to Banderas (whose wife Birgitte Hjort Sorensen is about to pop out a baby) to investigate. See, if a robot can repair itself, chances are it’s capable of improving its intellectual capacity. When that happens, it’s plausible (if not probable) that they might just want to say ‘nah, fuck that’ to not harming humans. Banderas visits a ‘clockmaker’ (played by that great player of ci…

Review: Hellraiser

Larry (Andrew Robinson) and new wife Julia (Claire Higgins) have just moved to the family home in England. Larry is unawares that his brother Frank (Sean Chapman) is hiding out there, after opening a strange puzzle box that unleashed demonic creatures known as Cenobites. He’s not quite the same, though. In fact, Frank is pretty much dead. You see, the Cenobites are kinky sadists who derive pleasure from pain and have torn Frank apart. When a drop of blood inadvertently finds its way to Frank’s body, however, it partially revives him (but now played by Oliver Smith for some odd reason) and that’s when Higgins discovers his skinless existence. Julia, who was previously Frank’s lover unbeknownst to Larry, is persuaded by Frank to lure men to their deaths so that Frank can feed off their blood and regain his former self. A fly in the ointment comes when the dreaded Cenobites (led by Doug Bradley’s formidable-looking Lead Cenobite, AKA ‘Pinhead’) come for Frank, unhappy that he has escaped…

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) finds himself tenuously aligned with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and her group of young women (Zoe Kravitz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton), who are the five designated wives of tyrannical cult leader Immortan Joe (the eccentric Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toecutter in “Mad Max”), whose employ Furiosa was previously under. One of the girls is even pregnant with Immortan Joe’s child. Needless to say, Immortan Joe (who has a spectacular breathing apparatus attached to his face) isn’t a happy camper and he unleashes his gangs of savages (including the ‘War Boys’) who pursue Max and Furiosa across the desert wasteland. Nicholas Hoult plays Nux, one of the ‘War Boys’, who despite trying to use poor Max as a blood donor (Immortan Joe likes to keep his ‘army’ replenished after all) is actually a pitiable character, as he is essentially chained to Max for much of the duration with no one really concerned for his safe…

Review: The Sting

Set in the mid-1930s, Robert Redford is Hooker, a small-time con man in league with the elder Luther (Robert Earl Jones), who has hopes of getting out of the game soon. Sadly, he’s out permanently when they unknowingly con an associate of big-time racketeer and (cheating) gambler Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw), a no-nonsense gangster who has Luther killed. Hooker gets the hell outta Dodge and heads for Chicago to look up an old associate of Luther’s named Henry Gondorff, apparently Luther’s mentor in the con game. Gondorff seems a grumpy drunken bum, but when he sobers up, he and Hooker devise a big-time con to take Lonnegan for all his worth (setting up a completely fake horse-betting joint!), with a little help from friends such as J.J. Singleton (Ray Walston) and Kid Twist (Harold Gould). Representing the law are Charles Durning as a crooked cop, and Dana Elcar as an FBI man. Jack Kehoe plays an associate of Hooker’s, Eileen Brennan plays a friend of Gondorff’s, Dimitra Arliss plays …

Review: Last Dragon Master (The Last Tycoon)

Spanning the early 1900s to the late 1930s China, Cheng Daqi (Huang Xiaoming) is in love with Ye Zhiqiu, who left him and their home town to become an opera star in Beijing. Cheng Daqi is framed for murder and imprisoned, where he meets Mao Zai (Francis Ng) a somewhat mysterious figure who helps Cheng Daqi bust out of prison…and teaches him how to kill. He starts a new life in Shanghai, takes up with Bao (Monika Mok), a singer, and becomes aligned with mob boss Hong Shouting (Sammo Hung). Some years later, Cheng Daqi (now played by Chow Yun-Fat, and having become a somewhat ‘honourable’ gangster himself) is shocked to catch a fleeting glance of his former love Ye Zhiqiu (now married to someone safe and boring, and played by Quan Yuan), and vice versa, having not seen one another in all this time.

As the Second Sino-Japanese War during WWII breaks out in 1937, Mao (now high up in the National Revolutionary Army) arranges for three plane seats out of danger, with Cheng Daqi, Ye Zhiqiu a…

Review: Scenes of the Crime

Soon-to-be-married Jon Abrahams is a mechanic and occasional driver for gangster Peter Greene. On one occasion, Greene kidnaps rival gangster Jeff Bridges, and puts him in the back of Abrahams’ van. Greene’s boss wants them to sit tight while he makes a financial deal with Bridges’ business partner (Bob Gunton) Abrahams is a bit nervous about all of this, but his boss is a dangerous (if low-level) gangster so he just does his damn job. Unfortunately, the whole thing goes to hell and Bridges’ team of enforcers (led by Noah Wyle) are itching to take Abrahams out. Abrahams has a gun, though, which is also handy in case Bridges decides to do a runner on him. He tries to call Greene’s boss (Brian Goodman), whilst Bridges tells him he can’t trust the guy, and that he needs to listen to him if he wants to get out of this situation alive. Part of the action takes place in and around local deli, attended to by Madchen Amick and Morris Chestnut, whilst R. Lee Ermey plays a lonely elderly man of…

Review: We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story

A dinosaur named Rex (voiced by John Goodman) is living in modern day America, when he notices a bluebird named Buster getting picked on. He decides to relate a tale to the bird, of how he managed to turn up where he has. It’s all because of a scientist (fairy? God?) named Captain Neweyes (voiced by Walter Cronkite!), inventor of a contraption that reads kids dreams and makes them come true. The kids apparently want dinosaurs roaming the streets of New York, singing and dancing in parades, and joining the circus. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Neweyes’ evil brother Prof. Screweyes (voiced by Kenneth Mars), inventor of a nightmare-capturing contraption that can turn dinosaurs into monsters. ‘Coz apparently the default setting of a dinosaur is cute and placid. Learning is fun. Screweyes operates a circus and his scheme is to house the scarified dinosaurs under his Big Top. Wouldn’t the cute and cuddly versions be less of a financial risk on his part? Just a thought.

I’m not a fan…

Review: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Set in Hollywood in the late 1940s, Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is a PI hired by an animation studio to work a case of possible marital infidelity. You see, Roger Rabbit (voiced by Charles Fleischer) is the top star in Toon Town, and he’s worried that his bodacious wife Jessica (voiced by Kathleen Turner) is having an affair. Eddie takes some snaps of Jessica indeed seemingly playing footsie with gag creator Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye). The next day, Acme is found dead and Roger is the numero uno suspect. He swears his innocence, and pleads with toon-hating Eddie to help prove his case before the hideous Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) gets to him. Joanna Cassidy plays Valiant’s loyal but increasingly fed-up waitress girlfriend. Countless cartoon characters across several studios turn up throughout the film in cameos/guest spots.

It had been a helluva long time since I last saw this 1988 Robert Zemeckis (“Romancing the Stone”, “Back to the Future”, “Forrest Gump”) blend of live-action de…

Review: Road House

Patrick Swayze plays Dalton, a top bouncer recruited by Kevin Tighe (cast against type) to clean up his rowdy bar in Jasper, Kansas City (A fictional town, as Jasper is really in Missouri). Unfortunately, the town is ruled with an iron fist by gangster Brad Wesley (Ben Gazzara), who has a habit of sending his goons around to mess with establishments who won’t play ball when he tries to extort from them. Dalton (who is into philosophy and Tai-Chi!) doesn’t take kindly to Wesley’s corruption, and further pisses the crime boss off by taking with the pretty doctor (Kelly Lynch) Wesley happens to be sweet on. With Wesley continuing to put the pressure on Dalton, he decides to call in a ringer, his good buddy and fellow bouncer Wade Garrett (Sam Elliott) so they can take Wesley and his gang of goons down and clean up the town. Kathleen Wilhoite plays a bartender, Red West plays a defiant local store owner, Marshall Teague plays Wesley’s karate-kicking chief henchman, Keith David plays a bar…

Review: Se7en

Morgan Freeman is NYC police detective Somerset, one week from retirement and extremely jaded. For this last week he is partnered with brash, younger detective Mills (Brad Pitt), whose career is on the rise. They investigate the murder of an obese man force-fed until his stomach exploded. After another body is soon found, Det. Somerset realises the crimes are connected, as the words ‘Greed’ and ‘Gluttony’ are found at both scenes. It would appear a serial killer is at work, using the Seven Deadly Sins as inspiration, and there are obviously five more morally-inspired crimes set to be committed. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Det. Mills’ sweet-natured wife Tracy, R. Lee Ermey plays the police captain, Richard Roundtree plays the city mayor, John C. McGinley plays SWAT team leader ‘California’, Richard Schiff plays a slimeball lawyer, and both a frightened Leland Orser and slimy Michael Massee turn up at the scene of one of the ‘Lust’ murder.

Brilliant, gloomy modern day killer-thriller/detectiv…