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Showing posts from October 25, 2015

Review: The Defiant Ones

Two convicts escape a chain gang whilst still chained together. One is a racist, angry white southerner (Tony Curtis), the other an African-American (Sidney Poitier). They may not like each other, but they’re gonna need to work together if they are to evade the law, let alone a nasty lynch mob (headed by Claude Akins). Unfortunately, they don’t just dislike one another, they hate each other. Theodore Bikel is the sheriff under pressure from not only the governer, but hawkish State police captain Charles McGraw who wants to deploy dogs to track the men down before they get too much of a headstart. Lon Chaney Jr. plays a man who helps the duo out of a tight spot, whilst Cara Williams plays a lonely widow who sets her sights on Curtis.

Superb 1958 Stanley Kramer (“Not as a Stranger”, “Inherit the Wind”, “Judgement at Nuremberg”) racial drama/escape flick that although highly entertaining, is also a really powerful look at some of humanity’s worst and most pathetic traits. Even in the ten…

Review: Anzio

As the title suggests, a film about the fight in Anzio, Italy during WWII. It was a battle that resulted in a whole mess of Allied casualties due to incompetence higher up. Robert Mitchum plays a war correspondent following the Allied forces who ends up having to join in the fight. The Allied soldiers include a seemingly bloodthirsty Peter Falk, Earl Holliman, and Reni Santoni, whilst Arthur Kennedy, Patrick Magee, and Robert Ryan play the short-sighted Allied brass (the latter a glory/publicity-hound). Wolfgang Priess plays a Nazi Field Marshall.

Director Edward Dmytryk (“The Caine Mutiny”, “Warlock”, “Mirage”) seems to be trying to keep up with John Sturges (“Hell is for Heroes”, “The Great Escape”) and Robert Aldrich (“Attack”, “The Dirty Dozen”) in this 1968 all-star (well, all-character actor, perhaps) war movie. The results are pretty disappointing, though any film with tanks armed with flame throwers can’t be a complete turd. There’s a good war movie in here, but the problem is…

Review: Game of Death

Bruce Lee (kinda) plays a martial arts movie star named Billy Lo who needs to fake his own death after a crime syndicate sends an assassin (Mel Novak) after him, for refusing to go in cahoots with them. The syndicate also target his singer-girlfriend (Colleen Camp), continually trying to recruit her as part of their ‘clientele’. After extensive facial reconstruction surgery, Billy is able to go after the syndicate without them knowing his identity. By this time, however, they’ve gone so far as kidnapping the singer. Dean Jagger plays the head of the syndicate, Hugh O’Brian plays Jagger’s second-in-command, Robert Wall plays a kickboxer, Gig Young plays Billy’s journalist friend Jim Marshall, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (a student of Lee’s) is the fearsome-looking Hakim, whilst Sammo Hung (as Hung Kim Po) plays another fighter. Look out for Roy Chiao from “Bloodsport” as Billy’s uncle.

A really lousy film from director Robert Clouse (the awesome blaxploitation kung-fu flick “Black Belt Jones”)…

Review: The Monuments Men

Set in 1944, as WWII seems to be headed in the wrong direction for Hitler and Germany, US President Roosevelt (unseen) assigns a bunch of art experts with the task of locating artwork stolen by the Nazis (for Hitler’s own private collection), and returning the pieces to their rightful owners. They have to go through basic training first, of course. Matt Damon plays Clooney’s right-hand man (an art restorer) who is given the job of trying to enlist the help of frankly disagreeable French museum curator Cate Blanchett, who helped catalogue the art for the Nazis but isn’t remotely sympathetic to the Nazi cause whatsoever. She’s a tough nut to crack, though, claiming to not know where any of the stolen art is. The rest of the team are played by Jean Dujardin (an art teacher), Bill Murray (an architect), Bob Balaban (an art critic), Hugh Bonneville (a Brit art historian), and John Goodman (a sculptor).

I think a lot of people unfairly had a bug up their arse with this 2014 war movie from d…

Review: Lady and the Tramp

Lady (voiced by Barbara Luddy) is the pampered pooch of a well-to-do couple whom she refers to as ‘Jim Dear’ and ‘Darling’. However, after a while, her human owners decide to have a baby, and Lady feels ignored and fears she will be cast out of the household altogether. Once the baby is born things get even worse with the arrival of Aunt Sarah (voiced by Verna Felton) a woman with no fondness for dogs whatsoever. Aunt Sarah’s Siamese cats are even more horrid. On the friendlier side of things are Scotty the Scottish Terrier (voiced by Bill Thompson), and of course The Tramp (voiced by Larry Roberts). It is the latter mongrel, as free as Lady has been sheltered, whom Lady will eventually fall for (and vice versa). Peggy Lee (who voices more than one character) provides some sass as Peg, a stray dog well known to The Tramp.

Unless some TV station lose their minds and show “Song of the South” at some point (and that film’s only partially animated), I think this 1955 animated flick is the…

Review: Blended

Adam Sandler plays a widower with three kids, Drew Barrymore is raising two sons on her own because her ex is Joel McHale. The two go on a super-awkward blind date at Hooters and it’s hate at first sight. However, they keep bumping into one another, and eventually contrivances not worth writing about end up with them both in South Africa at a resort for ‘blended families’. Subplots include Sandler’s eldest daughter (Bella Thorne) who is treated like a boy, and Barrymore’s youngest son who is prone to exhaustive temper tantrums. Wendi McLendon-Covey plays Barrymore’s friend, Terry Crews plays a bizarro African singer, Lauren Lapkus a babysitter, Allen Covert is Tom, Shaq turns up as Sandler’s co-worker, and Kevin Nealon plays an annoying resort guest.

After making his best film to date “Funny People” in 2009, Adam Sandler has seemingly defiantly eschewed any critical credibility by going back to his stock and trade of juvenile comedies of middling to (predominantly) abysmal results. Bas…

Review: Come Back, Little Sheba

Shirley Booth stars as a middle-aged housewife with an inability to shut the hell up, even boring the piss out of the mailman whenever she gets the chance. Her sour but patient husband (Burt Lancaster) is a man struggling valiantly with alcoholism. Terry Moore plays the perky young boarder, a college art student set to marry one young man, but seemingly flirting with another (Richard Jaeckel, looking about 19!). She seems to arouse things in the older couple (and not necessarily the thing you’re thinking of), which will only lead to trouble. Philip Ober appears briefly as an AA colleague of Lancaster’s.

One of those films that just hasn’t held up over the years, this 1952 drama from director Daniel Mann (“Our Man Flint”, “Willard”, “The Revengers”) is stagy and ten minutes with Oscar and Tony-winning Shirley Booth (in her film debut after essaying the role on stage) and I honestly didn’t blame Burt Lancaster for taking to the drink. This woman seriously never shuts the hell up, and wh…

Review: Happy Birthday, Wanda June

Rod Steiger is a pompous, chauvinistic adventurer who returns home after being lost in the jungle for several years, and presumed dead by wife Susannah York. Hoping to once again claim masculine superiority over the household he previously abandoned, he finds York has become liberated and is currently dating a dopey, peacenik liberal doctor (George Grizzard), to his horror. Steven Paul plays Steiger and York’s opinionated son, who is just as mortified with the hippie doctor as Steiger is. Don Murray is another interested suitor, who like Steiger is a macho idiot (and a vacuum salesman to boot), but much more of the ‘idiot’ than the ‘macho’, though he certainly tries. William Hickey turns up as Steiger’s acid-brained test pilot buddy, who has to explain to his own wife where he’s been all these years.

More accessible than the film version of “Slaughterhouse-Five”, but also stagey and far less interesting, this awkward 1971 comedy is loud, shouty, pretentious, and uneven. Directed by th…

Review: Pret-a-Porter (Ready to Wear)

A (pseudo) fly-on-the-wall look at the goings on at an annual international fashion show in Paris. Someone gets murdered, people act bitchy, and lots of dog shit gets stepped in. The most prominent characters are ditzy Southern-accented reporter Kim Basinger, Sophia Loren as the wife of the murdered fashion bigwig (Jean-Pierre Cassel), Marcello Mastroianni as Loren’s pickpocket first hubby skulking about, Anouk Aimee is a designer with Rupert Everett improbable as her son. Other major characters include Julia Roberts and Tim Robbins as bickering American reporters who are forced to share a hotel room together, and Stephen Rea as an in-demand Irish fashion photographer who delights in humiliating a trio of friendly rival fashion mag editors (played by Sally Kellerman, Linda Hunt, and Tracey Ullman). Lauren Bacall plays a respected fashionista, Forest Whitaker is a gay designer, Lili Taylor is a reporter for the NY Times, Richard E. Grant plays Whitaker’s bitchy snob rival designer, and…

Review: The Killing of Angel Street

Liz Alexander returns to her father Alexander Archdale’s urban abode (mostly filmed in the suburban area of Balmain in Sydney) on the title street to find the old man and his leftie associates (the late Arkie Whiteley among them) are involved in protests against a current plan by a top developer to get rid of homes on Angel Street to make way for flash new high-rise apartments. They really, really want the residents out and aren’t above using strong-arm tactics, as thugs like Tony Martin (Yes, Father Bob from “E Street”) are always lurking about intimidatingly. However, when the old man dies under fishy circumstances, Alexander suspects that things have escalated to new, criminal heights. Along with a commie local union guy (John Hargreaves), she starts to do some digging and uncovers something very sinister indeed, something that appears to involve both government and police. “Prisoner” co-star David Waters appears as a TV host, and David Downer is Alexander’s brother.

Although the t…

Review: Cinderella (1950)

The story of poor young Cinderella (voiced by Ilene Woods), treated as a servant by her nasty stepmother (voiced by Eleanor Audley), and dismissed by her thoroughly rotten, ugly stepsisters. Her only friends are a group of mice, who are forever being menaced by a cat named Lucifer (or as I call him, Grumpy Cheshire Cat). The King (hoping to find a wife for his charming son) is throwing a ball and every available young woman is invited to attend, and Cinderella is most excited to go. However, her stepmother and stepsisters do all they can to prevent this from happening. But with help from the mice and one fairy godmother (voiced by Verna Felton) later, and Cinderella looks set to attend the ball. You know the rest, folks.

Lovely 1950 Disney animated movie from directors Clyde Geronimi (“Peter Pan”, “Lady and the Tramp”), Wilfred Jackson (“Fantasia”, “Alice in Wonderland”, “Peter Pan”) & Hamilton Luske (“Pinocchio”, “Fantasia”, “Peter Pan”), that is a bit too slight to be considered…