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Showing posts from September 20, 2015

Review: The Train

Set during the tail-end of WWII, Paul Scofield plays German Colonel Von Waldheim, who has orders to seize all art in the Jeu de Paume Museum in Paris, so they can be taken to Germany for the Fuhrer. Suzanne Flon plays the museum curator who works with the Resistance to stop this from happening. Their plan is to convince French station manager Labiche (Burt Lancaster!) to delay the train transporting the artwork. Labiche (given the task of driving the train by the Nazis) is part of the Resistance but actually wants to destroy the train, not really seeing the importance in saving art during a war. Michel Simon plays the cranky, hulking train engineer Papa Boule, who tries to help the Resistance before Labiche is given the train driving gig. Jeanne Moreau plays a sour-looking hotel owner whom Labiche encounters during the course of the mission.

Popular with critics and train enthusiasts, this 1964 John Frankenheimer (“The Birdman of Alcatraz”, “The Manchurian Candidate”, “Seven Days in M…

Review: Project Almanac

Teen Jonny Weston wants to get into MIT, and indeed gets his wish…but hasn’t got the funds to support his scholastic pursuits. Messing around with an old video camera of his late scientist father’s, Weston temporarily forgets his troubles when he views something startling on a recording of his 7th birthday. He sees a figure in the background of a frame or two that looks very familiar: Himself. No, not his 7 year-old self but himself as he is now. How in the hell can this be possible? He shows this to his two best friends (Allen Evangelista and Sam Lerner) and sister (Virginia Gardner), but they aren’t as convinced as he is. However, when they stumble upon his father’s blueprints for a ‘temporal relocation device’ (A time machine, to the dummies out there- I kid, sit down!), they realise that Weston’s dad (who died on Weston’s 7th birthday in a car accident) had been working on a time machine for the US military under the code name ‘Project Almanac’. So, what are three science nerds an…

Review: Second Chance

Robert Mitchum stars as a talented boxer facing the dregs and minor leaguers somewhere in South America. He has lost his nerve, too scared to really give it 110% with his fists because of an unfortunate incident a while back when he accidentally killed an opponent with a deadly punch. Linda Darnell plays a former gangster’s moll targeted for a hit by her ex because she’s agreed to testify against him. Bodyguard Jack Palance has been sent to rub her out, but he’s actually smitten with her himself. Darnell, however, develops romantic feelings for Mitchum and vice versa. This does not sit well with creepy Palance.

Alarmingly shoddy given its talented cast and competent director in Rudolph Mate (“The Far Horizons”, “The Violent Men”, “Miracle in the Rain”), this 1953 crime/romance is a surprising dud. The quality of the print I saw was so poor that one suspects this one has been long forgotten, and frankly it deserves to be. Appallingly cheap, right down to the music score by the usually …

Review: Mozart and the Whale

Josh Hartnett plays a taxi driver with a bit of a numbers fixation and who has Asperger’s Syndrome. This hasn’t stopped him from doing his job, nor from starting up a support group for people who have issues with fitting into ‘mainstream’ society, and are thus somewhat lonely. That’s not to say that Hartnett is free of his own social awkwardness, especially when he meets a pretty young woman who turns up to one of his meetings. Played by Radha Mitchell, she’s abrasive, sometimes flat-out rude, and Hartnett (who has a problem with making eye contact) clearly has a thing for her. It’s the most socially awkward ‘meet cute’ in cinematic history. The film follows their attempt at having a romantic relationship, just like any other couple. Other members of the group are played by John Carroll Lynch, Erica Leehrsen, Rusty Schwimmer, Allen Evangelista, and (a truly terrible) Sheila Kelley. Gary Cole turns up briefly as a potential employer for Hartnett.

Anyone who has any experience with or h…

Review: Calvary

Brendan Gleeson stars as a priest in a small Irish community, who has just heard the confession of an unseen man who claims to have been the victim of sexual abuse by a priest long ago. The man now sees it as his mission to carry out revenge by killing a priest. However, killing a bad priest would merely rob the world of a bad priest whom no one will miss. Instead he wants to make more of an impact by killing Gleeson, who has done no real harm to anyone. With apparently only one week to live, we follow Gleeson in his interactions with locals, as well as reconnecting with his recently suicidal daughter Kelly Reilly. Meanwhile, he’s also looking out for whoever might be his maker yet-to-meet. Chris O’Dowd plays a loutish husband and local butcher, Aidan Gillen is an antagonistic, cynical atheist doctor, Dylan Moran is a rich man with seemingly no joy left in his life after his family left him, and M. Emmet Walsh plays a cranky old writer.

Not to be confused with the similarly spelled ‘c…

Review: Circus World

John Wayne plays a rootin’, tootin’ three-ring circus owner who takes his struggling wild west-themed show all over Europe. Claudia Cardinale is the 18 year-old young woman he has raised as her foster father (but who is her real father?), and she’s also a part of the circus troupe. Her former highwire artist mother (Rita Hayworth) left years ago after a stunt gone wrong that resulted in her husband dying. Unfortunately, a huge disaster sees most of the circus equipment destroyed. Wayne is undeterred, he tries to get things rebuilt and have the show go on ahead. Meanwhile, he knows Hayworth (whom he has unresolved feelings for) is supposed to be somewhere in Germany. Lloyd Nolan plays Wayne’s veteran right-hand businessman, with John Smith the young up-start who might just be Wayne’s successor one day. Richard Conte plays the highwire clown brother of the deceased, who is still tortured by the memories and the pain, but decides to join Wayne’s circus anyway, with his young niece (Katha…

Review: The Cassandra Crossing

Lou Castel is one of several terrorists who bust into the WHO building in Geneva. After a beaker is shattered during all the gunfire, Castel becomes exposed to a deadly virus as he makes his escape. He boards a train headed to Stockholm, putting all of the passengers at risk of exposure. Further complicating matters for the passengers is U.S. Colonel Burt Lancaster, who reveals to WHO doctor Ingrid Thulin, that the U.S. are responsible for the virus due to a top secret and illegal experiment. The people on board the train start getting sick, but Lancaster tries to avoid panic and at the same time keep things hush-hush, whilst Thulin is more concerned for the passengers on board. Chief among those passengers, however, is an experienced neurosurgeon played by an assured Richard Harris who may be the key to everyone’s survival. The title refers to a crossing (or bridge) the train is headed for, a crossing that may not be in good enough condition for the train to safely cross. Not that La…

Review: The Raid 2

After the events of the first film, cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is tackling the big-time gangsters in this outing. Working with IA, Rama is assigned the task of serving a contrived prison sentence to get close to Uco (Arifin Putra, smooth but volatile), hoping to get a gig as hired muscle for Uco’s powerful kingpin father Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). The idea is to ferret out the bad eggs in the police department in cahoots with the crims. Thrown into the mix are a rival gangster named Bejo (Alex Abbad, as quirky as his rival is stoic), and a Japanese mob. Yayan Ruhian turns up as an expert killer who longs to patch things up with his estranged kids. In between hacking limbs and kicking arse, that is.

I guess you can’t blame Welsh writer/director/editor Gareth Edwards too much for getting overly ambitious in this sequel to the top-notch martial arts/action-thriller “The Raid”. For this 2014 film, he’s basically inspired by more epic-scale cops-and-crims pics, particularly from Hong Kong, as well…