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Showing posts from April 26, 2015

Review: Vehicle 19

Paul Walker plays a ne’er do well ex-con meant to be on his best behaviour. He ventures to South Africa in order to be with his estranged diplomat lover (Leyla Haidarian). Unfortunately, as he steps into his mini-van rental car, the worst day of his life begins. The car is the wrong one, but the rental car company tells him to suck it up. And that’s when he finds an assortment of oddities in the car; a gun, a cell phone that keeps receiving odd text messages, and a woman (Naima McLean) bound and gagged hidden behind the backseat. Yep, you read that correctly. Oh, and a voice on the phone tells him to return the car to a certain location and no harm will come to him. What in the Wide World of Sports is a-goin’ on here?

Even if I had seen this 2013 film from writer-director Mukunda Michael Dewil before the slightly similar “Getaway”, it’d still end up being the far weaker of the two films. Where that film was constantly on the go and featured very strong car chase action, this one is dr…

Review: The Bad and the Beautiful

The story of a manipulative, ruthless, and selfish Hollywood film producer (played by Kirk Douglas), and the people he used and abused along the way. Making up the latter are director Barry Sullivan, troubled star Lana Turner, and author/screenwriter Dick Powell. Walter Pidgeon plays the schlock producer Douglas and Sullivan start out working for, Gilbert Roland plays a Latin lover star, Leo G. Carroll plays a fussy British director, and Gloria Grahame plays Powell’s wife.

One of the best films of its type, this look at Hollywood from 1952 was directed by Vincente Minnelli (“Brigadoon”, “Lust for Life”) and written by an Oscar-winning Charles Schnee (“Red River”, “Butterfield 8”), who must’ve had some real-life figures in mind when writing this script. It’s certainly a commendable look at movie-making from a time that was still very much a part of the Golden Years of Hollywood. One is immediately impressed with the music score by David Raksin (“Laura”, “Kind Lady”, “Jubal”, “Separate …

Review: The Mountain Men

Set in pre-Civil War Wyoming, the film is about two aging trappers, played by a humourless Charlton Heston and a grizzled and loud Brian Keith. The plot mixes ‘grumpy old man’ buddy movie relations (they bicker and argue over which Indian tribe has been following them) and tense relationships between the trappers and local Indian tribes as the fur trappers start to see the end of the road for their way of life. Along the way Heston rescues Native American woman Victoria Racimo from a fearsome Indian warrior (Stephen Macht). Needless to say, said fearsome Indian warrior ain’t too happy about losing his woman, and sets out to scalp the two rowdy old fellas. John Glover turns up early as a dandy businessman who hooks up with our protagonists, whilst Victor Jory plays an elderly Native American, and Seymour Cassel plays a Cajun associate of Heston and Keith.

Pretty much the only feature film effort (and the first) from TV director Richard Lang (who directed many episodes of “Kung Fu” amon…

Review: Mr. Morgan’s Last Love

Sir Michael Caine plays the title character, a retired professor living in Paris who nonetheless doesn’t speak any French. His beloved wife (Jane Alexander, seen in flashbacks) has just died, and he has no idea what to do with himself. He’s despondent without her, even as we flash-forward a few years. But then he meets pretty, young Parisian cha-cha teacher Clémence Poésy and she seems to bring him back from the brink and give him a new lease on life. His kids visiting from the States (played by Justin Kirk and Gillian Anderson), however, have no idea what to make of this new development and question the much younger woman’s motives.

Although far from the biggest turd Sir Michael Caine has dropped in his lengthy and uneven career, this 2013 film is insubstantial, clichéd, and unworthy of his enormous (if uneven) talent. Unlikeable supporting performances by Justin Kirk and Gillian Anderson certainly don’t help, but the main issue here is that writer-director Sandra Nettelbeck (“Mostly…

Review: Equus

I have to confess to personally loathing horses (anything bigger than me tends to scare me, which I guess covers a lot of things), but this flick about a boy who seems to love horsies just a little too much, I particularly loathe and likely still would even without the horses. But the horses definitely are part of the problem.

A screen adaptation of a play that was probably a little more sane, it stars Richard Burton as a troubled shrink going through a rough patch in life, with a childless, loveless marriage. A friend (Eileen Atkins, very good) asks him to look into the case of young Peter Firth, as a young man who has apparently been compelled to blind six horses with a metal spike.

Initially reticent to talk at all (he sings ad jingles whenever Burton gets too close), Burton slowly discovers that this young man has some seriously warped views concerning religion and sexuality. This, it seems, stems from the conflicting views on these two subjects by his religious nutcase mother (a …

Review: The Amazing Spider Man 2

We begin with Peter Parker struggling with his obvious feelings for Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), but also the promise he made at the end of the first film to her policeman father (Denis Leary), to stay away from her for her safety. Gwen, by the way, works for OsCorp, but is considering a scholarship at Oxford. Meanwhile, a lonely nerd engineer has an accident at OsCorp, turning him into the all-powerful Electro, who demands everyone notice him. Dane DeHaan plays Harry Osborn, an old acquaintance of Peter’s who takes over the family business from rich, dead daddy (Chris Cooper). Unfortunately, not only does Harry get drunk on power, he also inherits a family illness and needs Peter to ask his good buddy Spider Man to hand over some of his blood to save him. When Spidey says ‘Nah, fuck that shit’, Harry goes a bit evil and a whole lotta green, leaving Spider Man with two villains to take down. Also causing a bit of havoc, is Russian-accented Aleksei Sytsevich (Paul Giamatti), a looney mobst…

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a human soldier of fortune raised by opportunistic aliens known as Ravagers (One of whom is played by a very blue Michael Rooker). He thinks he’s a much bigger deal than he is, often annoyed that people have never heard of him by his other title, Star Lord. Basically, Quill is a flippant douchebag. Quill’s prized possession is the Walkman his mother gave to him with her favourite songs before she tragically died (In the saddest opening scene to a comic book film in cinematic history). His latest mission has him retrieving a mysterious orb, that others are seeking, including the villainous Ronan (Lee Pace). Quill is eventually arrested and imprisoned, with the orb taken away from him. This is where he meets the strange, disparate characters who will eventually become a band of misfits hell-bent on escaping prison and retrieving the orb before Ronan can get his evil hands on it. These characters are; Rocket (voice by Bradley Cooper), a diminutive and genetic…

Review: Mistaken for Strangers

A documentary centred around two brothers, filmmaker Tom Berninger and his musician older brother Matt Berninger. Taking place in 2010, Matt has invited his estranged, shambolic brother Tom on tour with his indie rock band The National, as a roadie. Tom (who lives with his lovely parents), unfortunately is an idiot, is socially inept, and has seemingly no concept of what a roadie actually does. His innately irritating personality and his ever-constant camera (not to mention the annoyingly inane questions he asks) quickly grate on the various members of the band, but older brother Matt tries his best to accommodate Tom and act as peacemaker in the situation. Not an easy thing when…did I mention that Tom’s an idiot? Well, he is, and becomes quite a boorish alcoholic in record timing. He’s also a heavy metal fan (and amateur horror film director), not being into his brother’s more folk rock indie stylings.

2013 has delivered some pretty good documentaries, but this useless ‘rockumentary’…