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Showing posts from November 29, 2015

Review: Frantic

Harrison Ford stars as a doctor staying in Paris with his wife (Betty Buckley) whilst attending a convention. They soon realise that they have the wrong suitcase, and quickly alert the airport. He goes to have a shower, the phone rings and his wife answers it, but he can’t hear anything because of the running water. When he gets out, his wife is nowhere to be found. Ford speaks no French, the local authorities don’t seem to be of any use, nor the local embassy (represented by John Mahoney), and so he is left to himself to search. Emmanuelle Seigner plays the owner of the suitcase Ford’s wife picked up, David Huddleston plays a colleague of Ford’s, and Dominique Pinon plays a barfly who tries to help Ford at one point.

A lot of people seemed to regard the 2011 Liam Neeson film “Unknown” as an update (or perhaps rip-off) of this 1988 Roman Polanski (“Repulsion”, “Rosemary’s Baby”, “Chinatown”) thriller, but the truth is, both that film and this one owe a lot to ‘The Master’, Sir Alfred …

Review: A Day at the Races

Maureen O’Sullivan owns a sanitarium for rich patients, and when one of her wealthiest patients (played by Margaret Dumont) seems about ready to walk out, O’Sullivan resorts to hiring the old lady’s favourite doctor, Dr. Hackenbush (Groucho Marx), unawares that the good doctor is actually a horse doctor. Throw in a nefarious scheme by a racetrack owner (Douglass Dumbrille) to try and buy the sanitarium to turn it into a casino, plus roles for Harpo and Chico Marx as a jockey and tipster, respectively, and you’ve kinda sorta got a movie. I guess. Allan Jones plays the romantic lead, a nightclub singer who is also racehorse owner.

Directed by Sam Wood, this 1937 Marx Brothers comedy impressed me even less than the frankly irritating “A Night at the Opera” (Ironically enough, I much prefer Queen’s “A Night of the Opera” to the just-OK follow-up “A Day at the Races” as well), also directed by the aptly named Wood. Way too long, this once again barely has a plot that The Marx Brothers bare…

Review: Under the Skin

Scarlett Johansson plays an alien visitor who takes on the skin of a random human female and sets about picking up Scottish men and luring them to their death. Adam Pearson turns up as a facially-disfigured and lonely young man who looks set to be another of Johansson’s victims.

Based on a novel by Michel Faber, this 2014 film from “Sexy Beast” director Jonathan Glazer is the kind of arty-farty, long-take bullshit that normally drives me up the wall or sends me to sleep. This time, though…I really kinda dug it. Kind of an arthouse “Man Who Fell to Earth” with a touch of “Invasion of the Bee Girls”, to say that nothing happens in this film is a bit unfair if you ask me. It’s simple, but not completely uneventful. However, it’s definitely very much a film about visuals, sounds, and mood rather than plot and character.

It’s visually and aurally arresting from the opener (a scene of striking metamorphosis), which suggests Mr. Glazer likes his early 70s sci-fi and time-lapse documentaries …

Review: Shrew’s Nest

Seamstress Montse (Macarena Gomez) is an agoraphobic so badly afflicted that a neighbour supplies her morphine on the hush-hush, to calm her down. Montse has been left to raise pretty younger sister Hermana (Nadia De Santiago) all on her own for most of Hermana’s life, as their parents are long gone (Mum died giving birth to Hermana, dad apparently went off to war sometime later and never came back). Hermana has just turned 18, and the very conservative (and seriously jealous) Montse is having a hard time dealing with the fact that her sister is now becoming a woman, and particularly that men are starting to take notice of her. This rather claustrophobic situation is further intensified when a drunk upstairs neighbour (Hugo Silva) takes a tipsy stumble down the stairs and lands at the sisters’ doorstep. Montse is hesitant, but takes the handsome man in and nurses him back to health (he is unconscious and has a broken leg), but is careful not to divulge that she has a younger, hotter s…

Review: Monsters, Inc.

Set in Monstropolis, at an energy facility where monsters work as ‘scarers’ to source the energy of the screams of the children whose closets the monsters emerge from. Our protagonists are big, furry, blue (with a bit of purple) lug ‘Sully’ Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman) who is a top ‘scarer’, and his little, one-eyed, green pal Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal), who works at the same company as a technician. One night, Sully stumbles upon some shenanigans involving jerk rival ‘scarer’ Randall (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who seems to have allowed a ‘contamination’ to occur by accident and is trying to cover it up. That is, a cute little girl (voiced by Mary Gibbs, a real toddler pretty much doing ‘baby-talk’, apparently) has wandered through the portal/doorway between the plant and her bedroom whilst Randall was trying to beat Sully’s scare score, well after clocking-off time. Somehow, poor Sully ends up stuck with the kid, and since it is believed that children are extremely …

Review: The Infinite Man

Josh McConville stars as a guy who takes his love Hannah Marshall to the same motel they were at a year ago, to celebrate their anniversary and maybe put the spark back into things. Unfortunately, McConville didn’t do any research or book in advance, and they find the place is now abandoned. Whoops. This puts a dampener on his plans to recreate the exact experience of a year ago. Also complicating matters is Marshall’s former Olympian ex-boyfriend (Alex Dimitriades) who has followed them out there. And that’s when things all go to hell. A year later and McConville has apparently stayed at the motel the entire year perfecting a crude time machine so that he can travel back one year and have another crack at it, with a hopefully happier ending. Unfortunately, McConville just ends up complicating things and before long, he’s in a very weird situation where various versions of himself, Marshall, and even Dimitriades are running around the same space. Who knew relationships were so complic…

Review: Into the Night

Insomniac aerospace engineer Jeff Goldblum goes home early from work one day and finds out his wife is having an affair. That night, he drives off to LAX airport (don’t ask why, but co-worker Dan Aykroyd suggests it to him) and is surprised when Michelle Pfeiffer randomly gets into his car and tells him to drive, as four bearded Middle Eastern men are in hot pursuit. He instinctively does as she demands (besides, what else is he gonna do tonight?), and quickly learns that Pfeiffer is an occasional jewel smuggler, and as Goldblum finds out throughout the course of the night, lots of assorted crims and dangerous types are after her, including a British-accented assassin (David Bowie!). Richard Farnsworth plays Pfeiffer’s ex-lover who is married to the cold Vera Miles. The previously bored Goldblum is about to get some excitement in his life for once, if perhaps not the kind he was craving. Other famous cameos include Jim Henson on the phone at a casino, Jonathan Lynn as an English tailo…

Review: These Final Hours

The world is set to end after a meteor hit the North Atlantic, but this film focusses solely on Western Australia. We follow James (Nathan Phillips), whose current bed-mate (Jessica De Gouw) is pregnant with a child that will never be brought to term (‘coz, y’know…it’s the End of Days). With 12 hours to go James, being a bit of a dick decides to head off to a rave party to see his girlfriend (Kathryn Beck) and her brother (Daniel Henshall, from “Snowtown”). Basically, he just wants to spend his final hours getting fucked up like a bogan and forget that any of this is going to go down. Along the way, though, he comes across a young girl (Angourie Rice) seemingly being abducted. He rescues the girl, who wants James to reunite her with her father, saying that if they were to ever be separated she was to head for her Aunt’s place. It’s a reasonably long trip, but he decides to oblige, thinking they’ll come across someone else he can hand her off to. Along the way, though, a bond forms. Ly…

Review: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Whilst warrior Bard (Luke Evans) takes on the dragon Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch), dwarf leader Thorin (Richard Armitage) appears to be losing his mind all of a sudden, becoming deeply suspicious of everyone around him and accusing them of taking something called the Arkenstone, found amongst Smaug’s collection of riches. He has himself and the other dwarves (as well as hobbit Bilbo, played by Martin Freeman) holed up inside a mountain. This decision and a refusal to speak with the people of Lake Town and the Elves led by King Thranduil (Lee Pace), causes tensions to boil over into possible military conflict. Meanwhile, an army of orcs is headed in their direction too. Billy Connolly turns up as Dain, Thorin’s not terribly even-tempered cousin.

Ultimate proof that this series really ought to have just been turned into one long-ish film, this 2014 third and final film in the trilogy of films based on JRR Tolkien’s book has practically no plot at all. Director Peter Jackson (“…

Review: A Night at the Opera

Plot? Um…I’ll give it a go. Groucho Marx plays Otis B. Driftwood, a supposed promoter, who conspires with Chico Marx’s Fiorello to help a pair of young opera singers and lovers (Allan Jones and Kitty Carlisle), at the expense of a pompous opera star Lassparri (Walter Woolf King). Margaret Dumont plays a wealthy old widow and Driftwood’s patroness, who also figures into the plot. Harpo Marx plays Tomasso, the brow-beaten dresser for Lassparri, whilst Sig Rumann plays Gottlieb, owner of the opera company.

Buster Keaton, I think was kind of a genius filmmaker and innovator. I’ve enjoyed several of Charlie Chaplin’s films. I’m a fan of Monty Python, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, author Douglas Adams, “Seinfeld”, Billy Connolly, you name it. My sense of humour is varied. The Marx Brothers, however…I just don’t appreciate one little bit. Oh I can certainly see their influence on subsequent comedians, for sure. Just look at the pantomiming Harpo, who surely must’ve influenced Teller from the po…

Review: The Onion Field

Beginning in 1963, this is the real-life story of two cops (John Savage and Ted Danson) who make the decision to pull over a couple of suspicious-looking types (cunning James Woods and naïve Franklyn Seales). A gun is pulled by one of the two men, and Savage is ordered to disarm, which he does. They are driven away to a remote onion field where Danson is executed, whilst Savage is able to make his escape. Whilst the two hoodlums (quickly apprehended) drive the legal system insane with their stalling tactics, Savage goes through emotional hell, plagued with guilt over the very obvious mistake he made in dropping his weapon (albeit with Danson’s approval). Ronny Cox shows he was playing authority figures even in 1979, as a police sergeant, whilst Pat Corley is a shonky lawyer representing Seales, Priscilla Pointer is Danson’s mother, and Richard Herd (AKA Wilhelm from “Seinfeld”) plays an angry beat cop who doesn’t take kindly to instructor John De Lancie suggesting the cops made mistak…