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Showing posts from May 17, 2015

Review: The Oklahoma Kid

Set in 1893, with Jimmy Cagney as the good guy title character, who is actually not really a good guy, but a bad guy on a redemptive mission. Bad guy Humphrey Bogart and his gang have wronged The Kid (the black sheep of his family) in the past, something only slowly revealed. Donald Crisp plays the local judge, one of the few willing to stand up to Bogart and his men, who are otherwise pretty much running the town. Rosemary Lane turns up as Crisp’s daughter, whilst Ward Bond is one of Bogart’s gang.

Although Jimmy Cagney is somewhat goofy casting as the title character and it peters out after about an hour, this 1939 western from director Lloyd Bacon (“42nd Street”, “Larceny Inc.”) isn’t bad and picks up the pace again towards the end. It’d be even better if veteran gangster actors Cagney and Bogey were in more city slicker surrounds. Having said that, Cagney and Bogey (who apparently didn’t much like one another off-screen, either) still make for interesting forces on opposing sides …

Review: Darling

Julie Christie stars as a dissatisfied model in an unhappy marriage, who embarks on an affair with TV journo Dirk Bogarde. However, that doesn’t stop her from also bonking her supposedly charming (bastard) professional acquaintance (a well-cast Laurence Harvey), upsetting Bogarde. And when the relationship with Harvey doesn’t satisfy her either, she leaves him for an Italian prince. Does she ever stop and think maybe it’s her and not them? No, of course not, darling. Zakes Mokae can be briefly scene at the most bizarre and abstract party in cinematic history, whilst James Cossins makes his film debut in a small part.

Some films are timeless and are as effective now as they ever were. Other films have dated, but can still be appreciated for the time in which they were made. And then there are films like this 1965 British flick from director John Schlesinger (“Midnight Cowboy”, “Marathon Man”, “Pacific Heights”) and screenwriter Frederic Raphael (“Daisy Miller”, “Two for the Road”), whe…

Review: Alice in Wonderland

The story of young Alice (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont), who follows the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole and ends up in Wonderland, a most curious place indeed.

Although I prefer “Pinocchio”, “Peter Pan”, “Robin Hood”, and “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”, this 1951 Disney animated version of the infamous and enduring Lewis Carroll classic is highly enjoyable stuff. This is what Disney animation does best, not crap like “Fantasia” or “Treasure Planet”. Classic stories well told. I liked the Tim Burton version from 2010, but if you’re gonna skip the book and watch the film (Don’t, though! Reading is important), make it this one.

This version hits all the main beats of the story, and all of the scenes with an oversized Alice are particularly fun, and probably a challenge at the time from an animation standpoint. I actually think the story works better than the animation here, though the latter is fine. It’s a very pretty and colourful film. It’s a cracker of a story to begin with, and …

Review: Control

The last years in the life of Ian Curtis (Sam Riley), lead singer of British band Joy Division. Curtis’ life in Manchester was an unhappy and painful one dealing with not only epilepsy, but the numerous drugs he was prescribed to combat it. He also married young to Debbie (Samantha Morton), has a baby with her, and carries on an affair with a Belgian rock journo (played by Alexandra Maria Lara). Unfortunately, Curtis’ internal struggles would prove to be the end of his short life just as Joy Division were really making a name for themselves. Craig Parkinson turns up as the infamous Tony Wilson, former broadcaster and Factory Records entrepreneur, who famously signed contracts in blood (Leading to one of the film’s few moments of levity where Wilson unfortunately makes a spelling mistake).

Joy Division and their troubled front man Ian Curtis figured into Michael Winterbottom’s irreverent “24 Hour Party People”, but Curtis takes centre stage here in this 2007 biopic from debut feature f…

Review: Lilo & Stitch

Set in Hawaii, Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) is a frankly weird little girl whose mischievous behaviour is causing child services to send a hulking social worker (voiced by Ving Rhames!) around on Lilo’s guardian, her older sister Nani (voiced by Tia Carrere, overworking her already Hawaiian accent). Then one day Lilo adopts what she thinks is an unusual dog from the local pound (even though it quite clearly looks like a differently coloured koala). Calling it Stitch, it turns out to be an alien, and Stitch’s comrades come to Earth looking for it. In the meantime, Stitch is a chaotic little shit who causes all manner of problems for Lilo, who in turn causes problems for her genuinely loving and hard-working sister.

Gee, aren’t kids movies fun, folks? One of the lowest of the lows in Disney animated features, this ugly, unlikeable film from 2002 is directed/scripted by Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders (who later teamed up for DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon”), the latter of whom i…

Review: Knights of Badassdom

Wannabe ‘doom metal’ god Ryan Kwanten is struggling with a bad relationship breakup. His stoner pals Peter Dinklage (!) and Steve Zahn get him high, and before he knows it he is joining them in a LARP event (‘The Battle of Evermore’, of course). He’s never engaged in the activity before, but as a former top D&D player, his friends assure him he’ll be fine. Unfortunately, even the best of players will find it hard to survive when Zahn reads from a strange old spell book and inadvertently conjures up a Succubus-like demon that runs havoc amongst the gaming grounds. Summer Glau plays a ‘badass’ female LARP enthusiast, Jimmi Simpson plays Sheldon Cooper…I mean he plays the uber-serious games master who refuses to break character (i.e. Refuses to stop talking in fake old-timey speak), and W. Earl Brown plays an a-hole paintball redneck who tries to spoil their fun.

A 2013 horror-comedy about LARPing (Live-Action Role Playing) and heavy metal music that unfortunately seems to look down …

Review: Silent Hill

Radha Mitchell’s daughter Jodelle Ferland is sleepwalking and keep mentioning the title town in her sleep. Her husband (Sean Bean) isn’t keen on the idea, but Mitchell decides to take her daughter to the town, which appears to be something of a ghost town. Shrouded in fog and with a distinct burning smell in the air, apparently the town experienced some trouble back in the 70s involving a mining fire, and it hasn’t recovered since. They find themselves pursued by a butch motorcycle cop (Laurie Holden) and after nearly hitting a young pedestrian (resulting in a minor accident), Mitchell somehow loses Ferland. And so her search for her daughter begins, as she also learns more about the town and its troubled backstory. Meanwhile, husband Bean is on his way to the town, but having trouble getting in. Kim Coates plays a cop, whilst Alice Krige plays a local cult leader.

Probably one of the better adaptations of a computer game, this 2006 film from director Christophe Gans (the highly under…