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Showing posts from November 15, 2015

Review: Mad Dog Morgan

As the title suggests, the story of legendary Irish-Australian bushranger ‘Mad Dog’ Dan Morgan (a game Dennis Hopper, Irish brogue and all), a failed prospector in Victoria in the mid-1800s, who turns to opium and a life of crime. This eventually lands him a stint in prison under the brutal watch of Bill Hunter’s nasty guard/sergeant. After this, Morgan becomes an infamous outlaw romping and hell-raising the countryside from NSW back to rural Victoria. This brings him to the attention of Superintendents Winch (Michael Pate) and the cold-blooded Cobham (the inimitable Frank Thring), who strategise to bring Morgan to justice. Hunter’s Sgt. Smith is dispatched to take care of the outlaw, with Jack Thompson’s Detective Mainwaring also figuring into things, as it is Mainwaring’s account that the story is based on. David Gulpilil play’s Morgan’s aboriginal companion, Graeme Blundell plays a meek Italian, and a who’s who of 70s Aussie actors turn up throughout (Bruce Spence, John Hargreaves,…

Review: Meet Dave

Eddie Murphy plays a spaceship (!) that looks like a human being, and is manned by a miniature crew, captained by Eddie Murphy. Yep. They’re on some kind of retrieval mission and apparently the thing they are looking for somehow got lost and landed in the bedroom of a young boy (Austin Lynd Myers). Before they can get the special item back, the boy’s mother (Elizabeth Banks) accidentally hits the vessel with her car. Assuming she has just hit a person, she tries to make nice and invites the ‘man’ to her apartment, noticing only slightly how weird it is that, y’know…he’s not killed the fuck dead or anything. The spaceship (thanks to the quick-googling crew) uses the terribly common name of Dave Ming Chang, and quickly builds a rapport with both child and single mother, especially the former. Meanwhile, the crew learn about Earth/human culture. Gabrielle Union, Ed Helms, and Kevin Hart play members of the crew, Scott Caan is an idiot conspiracy theorist cop, and Marc Blucas plays the EX…

Review: Tequila Sunrise

Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell who play old high school buddies whose friendship is being increasingly tested due to one fact: Gibson is an ex-drug dealer who may not be quite so ‘ex’, and Russell is a narcotics cop assigned to proving that Gibson is indeed still a dealer. A major drug deal with Gibson and a mystery man named Carlos is supposedly about to go down. Caught in the middle is restauranteur Michelle Pfeiffer, whom Russell has the hots for and whose restaurant Gibson frequents. She develops feelings for both men, but what are their feelings for her? J.T. Walsh plays Russell’s a-hole DEA colleague who is the head of the operation to bust Gibson. Arliss Howard plays Gibson’s loser brother, whilst Raul Julia plays a Mexican cop helping out the Americans, Ann Magnuson plays Gibson’s ex, Ayre Gross plays Gibson’s wannabe drug-dealing lawyer, and veteran B-western director Budd Boetticher of all people (“Ride Lonesome”) plays a judge who frequents Pfeiffer’s restaurant.

Terrific 80s …

Review: Big Hero 6

Set in the fictional hybrid city of San Fransokyo, Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a 14 year-old robotics genius but also a young tearaway constantly getting into mischief by entering illegal robot fights with battle bots of his own making. His concerned older brother Tadashi (voiced by Daniel Henney) manages to steer him away from a probable lot of legal trouble by showing him around the lab he works at under the avuncular Prof. Callaghan (voiced by James Cromwell). It is here that Hiro first meets Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit), a medical assistant robot of seemingly inflatable exterior. He also meets Tadashi’s co-workers (voiced by T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung, Damon Wayans Jr., and Genesis Rodriguez), and is eager to join them and work under the brilliant Prof. Callaghan. The rest of the plot you will have to watch the film to discover. Maya Rudolph voices Hiro’s Aunt, whilst Alan Tudyk voices Prof. Callaghan’s more glory-seeking technological rival, a mega-rich CEO.

Although popular …

Review: The Apartment

Jack Lemmon is C.C. Baxter, working for a big insurance firm trying to ascend the corporate ladder. Part of this involves lending out a key to his apartment to some of the company execs to use for their extra-marital affairs in the hopes of a good word leading to a promotion. Meanwhile, Baxter is working up the courage to ask out the pretty elevator attendant at his building, Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), unawares that she herself is the mistress of Baxter’s married boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Ray Walston plays one of the schmuck company execs, and Jack Kruschen is Baxter’s Jewish doctor neighbour who thinks Baxter is a gigolo.

Although there’s a few wannabe-cute lines in the otherwise excellent Oscar-winning script by I.A.L. Diamond (“Some Like it Hot”, “Cactus Flower”), this 1960 Billy Wilder (“Double Indemnity”, “The Lost Weekend”, “Some Like it Hot”) film is easily one of the best romantic comedies ever made. True, it’s not often referred to as a romantic comedy, the …

Review: The November Man

As we open, Pierce Brosnan is CIA man whose attempt at mentoring Luke Bracey hits a snag when Bracey’s firing of a gun during an assassination attempt on an Ambassador results in the death of a kid. Brosnan admonishes the young upstart for refusing to listen to an order. Several years later and Brosnan is out of the CIA, but his former boss Bill Smitrovich calls in a favour, asking him to see to the protection of a Russian spy set to defect to the US with saucy information on the guy next expected to become the Russian President. The female Russian spy, by the way, is Brosnan’s ex-lover. Unfortunately, the spy gets taken out by Bracey on orders by the new CIA head, played by Will Patton. Olga Kurylenko plays a Belgrade social worker who knows the identity of a key person (a Chechen refugee) who can put the Putin-wannabe in the shitter. Eliza Taylor has a small role as Bracey’s neighbour, who clearly wants to get into his pants. Both women get caught in the middle of the penis-measurin…

Review: They Drive By Night

George Raft and Humphrey Bogart play brothers and truckers, who endure long hauls hoping to earn enough money to pay off their truck and go into business for themselves. Bogey’s a family man, whilst Raft has just met cynical waitress Ann Sheridan. Plans go up in smoke after a bad accident leaves Bogart without an arm. Raft decides to take up an offer from boozy acquaintance Alan Hale to work for him in an office gig. Lupino plays Hale’s no-good wife, whom Raft is known to, and Lupino would like him to get to know her even better. When Raft rejects her advances…well, bitches be cray cray, as the kids today say. Joyce Compton plays a bimbo whom trucker Irish (Roscoe Karns) meets, whilst Gale Page is Bogey’s wife.

Although I have a personal preference for the rugged 1958 British trucker movie “Hell Drivers”, this 1940 flick from Raoul Walsh (“White Heat”, “Dark Command”, “The Lawless Breed”) is rock-solid, too. Seedy-looking George Raft is an interesting choice for the lead and perfectly…

Review: Popeye

Robin Williams stars as the title forearm-heavy sailor who comes to the town of Sweethaven, renting a room with the Oyls. Popeye is searching for his long-lost pappy, but in the meantime strikes up a relationship with the ungainly Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall, in the role everyone agrees she was born to play), after they find an abandoned baby whom Popeye names Swee’pea. Olive, however is engaged to the hulking and frankly mean-spirited Brutus. Paul Dooley plays hamburger-loving Wimpy, Ray Walston plays the very familiar-looking (and sounding) Poopdeck Pappy, whilst (a debuting) Linda Hunt and (an almost unrecognisable) Dennis Franz can be seen in small roles.

Notorious 1980 misfire from director Robert Altman (“Nashville”, “The Player”, “Short Cuts”) could’ve potentially killed Robin Williams’ career in just his first starring vehicle. All these years later, one has to admit that it’s not a terrible film (nor was it a box-office flop like everyone seems to mistakenly recall), just a fai…

Review: Rachel, Rachel

Joanne Woodward plays a shy schoolteacher nearing middle age who still lives with her rather demanding mother above the funeral parlour her late father (Donald Moffat, in flashbacks) used to run. She’s always on hand to make sandwiches for the old biddies her mother brings to the house. Woodward is the textbook definition of a spinster. However, incidents involving a couple of hippie-meets-evangelical preachers (one played by redheaded Geraldine Fitzgerald) her lonely yet outwardly cheerful best friend (Estelle Parsons, as a woman just as trapped as Woodward has been) who takes her to her church, and an attentive but lothario former acquaintance come back to town (James Olson), see Woodward come out of her shell, to potentially finally start living her own life.

Having recently read an autobiography on Paul Newman, I knew that this directorial debut was first and foremost something that his long-time wife Joanne Woodward wanted to do, and Newman just somehow ended up getting so caught…

Review: A Most Wanted Man

When a suspected militant jihadist Half-Russian Half-Chechen man comes to Hamburg, German anti-terrorist expert Philip Seymour Hoffman suggests waiting and watching, rather than immediately nabbing him. Unlike the head of German Intelligence (not to mention visiting CIA woman Robin Wright), Hoffman wants to see where this young man possibly will lead them. Rachel McAdams plays a German human rights lawyer, Willem Dafoe plays a German banker helping the man with an inheritance from the man’s dodgy father, Homayoun Ershadi plays a Muslim philanthropist who may be more than he appears, whilst Nina Hoss and Daniel Bruhl play members of Hoffman’s super-secret team.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s second last film, this 2014 John Le Carre (“The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”, “The Deadly Affair”) adaptation from director Anton Corbijn (the solid Ian Curtis biopic “Control”) and screenwriter Andrew Bovell (who co-wrote the pathetic Aussie film “Book of Revelations” and the overrated “Lantana”) won’…

Review: Equilibrium

Set in a cold-hearted, gloomy 21st century (2072 to be exact) where people are drugged daily to suppress emotion, and a law enforcement agency of ‘Clerics’ has been formed to ban and destroy all works of art and books that might inspire feelings or emotion. The ‘Clerics’ are also trained in a highly-specialised combat style called ‘Gun Kata’, which through highly-attuned statistical analysis, ‘Clerics’ can maximise the effectiveness of their attack, whilst also dodging return fire with amazing aversion precision. One such top ‘Cleric’ is played by Christian Bale, who discovers that his partner (Sean Bean, in everything that inevitably entails) has been reading poetry on the sly. After this traumatic event (or at least, it would be if he were allowed to feel), Bale accidentally misses a daily dose and this causes him to feel for the first time. It changes his entire outlook on things, even developing feelings for a woman he arrests (Emily Watson). It also causes him to seek out an unde…