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Showing posts from December 13, 2015

Review: The Big Store

Tony Martin plays a singer who wants to sell his half of a department store inheritance to pursue his musical dream and marry store employee Virginia Grey. His rich aunt, played by Margaret Dumont has the other half of the inheritance, and figures into the scheme of store manager Douglass Dumbrille. When thugs attack Martin, Dumont hires a private detective, played by Groucho Marx. Chico plays Martin’s good buddy, with Harpo playing Chico’s brother (how imaginative!), but more importantly, Groucho’s assistant.

Directed by Charles Reisner (Buster Keaton’s “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”), this 1941 Marx Brothers flick is truly the pits. Even fans surely can’t defend this complete waste of time. As per their other films, Chico talks-a with-a the funny accent-a, Margaret Dumont plays Margaret Dumont, Harpo plays the harp (twice!), and Groucho refuses to act like he’s genuinely part of the film’s plot. In fact, sometimes Groucho is so defiantly smart-arsey here that he doesn’t even bother to make s…

Review: The Judge

Robert Downey Jr. stars as a slick big city lawyer who comes home to Carlinville, Indiana for his mother’s funeral. He reunites with his somewhat estranged brothers Vincent D’Onofrio (a former baseball hopeful until an incident involving he and Downey saw an end to that) and the slightly intellectually disabled Jeremy Strong, as well as his cranky, emotionally distant father Robert Duvall, a local judge of great experience but precious time for Downey. If mother dying isn’t bad enough, things get even worse when Duvall turns murder suspect, accused of deliberately running over a long-time foe with his car. The old man swears he remembers nothing of the incident, and forbids Downey from representing him (The old man is honest, Downey is sneaky, thus he doesn’t want that kind of help). These two seriously don’t get on, and no they don’t want to talk about it, OK? Downey sticks around anyway, as a hopelessly hapless local furniture store owner and attorney (a priceless Dax Shepard) takes…

Review: Sugar Hill (1974)

The title character (played by Marki Bey) is incensed when her club owner fiancé Langston (Larry B. Johnson) is beaten to death by thugs in the employ of white drug lord Morgan (Robert Quarry). For some reason, Sugar’s solution to all of this is to visit the ‘old voodoo priestess (Zara Cully), who gets Sugar in touch with top hat-sporting, maniacally laughing Baron Samedi (Don Pedro Colley), lord of the undead. He unleashes a horde of previously dead African-American slaves conveniently buried in the swamp land, to help Sugar do her bidding. His help, of course, comes with a price, and apparently that price is tang. Anyhoo, on Sugar and her zombie army march to seek revenge against Morgan and his cronies. Richard Lawson plays Valentine, a cop and old acquaintance of Sugar’s, who is worried for her. Betty Ann Rees plays Morgan’s bitchy, racist moll who loathes Sugar (I guess she doesn’t have a sweet tooth).

No, not the 1994 urban drama, but a 1974 blend of “Coffy”, “Foxy Brown” and voo…

Review: The Emperor’s New Groove

Kuzko (voiced by David Spade) is an insincere, egotistical Aztec emperor who is targeted for assassination by his scheming underling Yzma (voiced by the legendary Eartha Kitt), after he fires her. She tries to poison him, but in some kind of toxicological mix-up, she ends up turning him into a llama! Now he needs the help of a humble peasant farmer (voiced by John Goodman), who unfortunately doesn’t trust the emperor given he was all set to callously demolish the man’s village to build himself a swimming pool. This is a tenuous partnership to say the least. Meanwhile, Yzma and her idiot bodyguard Kronk (too dopey to be truly villainous, as voiced by the great Patrick Warburton) are still trying to kill Kuzko. Wendie Malick voices the farmer’s wife.

It’s a bit of a shame that I waited so long to watch this Disney animated film from 2000, because it’s actually pretty good. I normally loathe angular animation, it’s something that helped ruin “Pocahontas” and “Hercules”, but here’s one fi…

Review: Blacula

18th Century African prince Mamuwalde (William Marshall) pleads with Count Dracula (Charles Macaulay) to end the slavery of his people. He gets it in the neck for his troubles, causing him to become the title blood-sucker. Cut to the 1970s and two gay American interior decorators transport and unwittingly release Blacula/Mamuwalde from his coffin. Taking in the hip nightclub scene in between the occasional midnight snack, he becomes obsessed with Tina (Vonetta McGee), who he thinks is the reincarnation of his late, beloved wife Loova. Thalmus Rasulala plays police forensic pathologist Dr. Gordon Thomas, investigating a series of strange killings involving suspicious bite marks. Denise Nicholas plays Michelle, Tina’s best friend and Dr. Gordon’s co-worker. Elisha Cook Jr. turns up as a hook-handed hospital orderly, Ji-Tu Cumbuka plays a mutual friend named Skillett, and Gordon Pinsent plays a police lieutenant.

Of all the blaxploitation flicks that turned out pretty good, this 1972 Wil…

Review: Go West

Chico and Harpo venture west and hook up with con man Groucho, despite the latter previously having been duped at the train station by the former two (even though he initially set out to con them- confused?). Together they get caught up in a land claim struggle over a place called Dead Man’s Gulch. Chico and Harpo acquire the land deed fair and square, but scheming John Beecher (Walter Woolf King) and Red Baxter (Robert Barrat) have nefarious plans to grab it for themselves. John Carroll plays the grandson of the old prospector who gave the land deed to Harpo and Chico, with Diana Lewis playing his intended.

Even Marx Brothers fans usually concede that this 1940 film from director Edward Buzzell (the previous “At the Circus”, which was at least not awful) is a dud, and boy is it ever. The second worst of the five Marx Brothers films I’ve seen by far, it’s boring, unfunny, and as has been consistently the case, the humour is counter-productive to getting into the story. Once again, Gro…

Review: The Road to El Dorado

Miguel (voiced by Sir Kenneth Branagh) and Tulio (voiced by Kevin Kline) are likeable con artists who win a treasure map in a dice game that points to the legendary El Dorado, AKA The Lost City of Gold (Anyone else have the theme from “The Mysterious Cities of Gold” in their heads now? Awesome song!). On the run from a con that went awry, they somehow stumble/luck their way into El Dorado. Once there, they are proclaimed Gods by a local High Priest (voiced by Armand Assante), and hey, who are they to disagree? All the better to disguise their plans to run off with a whole lotta loot. However, this High Priest isn’t all that he appears, and it’s not long before our charming rogues find themselves in all sorts of trouble as unwitting pawns in a power struggle between two tribal elders of very differing morals/temperament. Helping them out is Aztec girl Chel (voiced by Rosie Perez), who knows what the two men really are, and wants to escape with them and a cut of their pilfered riches.

A…

Review: Pink Cadillac

Clint Eastwood stars as a skip tracer and all-round master of disguise. After her dipshit husband (Timothy Carhart- who else?) runs off with some neo Nazi morons (led by Michael Des Barres!), Bernadette Peters makes off with their large stash of counterfeit cash and their 8 month old baby, and attempts to drive off in her hubby’s prized pink Cadillac, before getting busted by the cops, looking for Carhart and co. After posting bail she once again sets off in the car, and this is when Eastwood is sent after her. He manages to track her down in a casino in Reno, and so starts a love-hate relationship as Eastwood attempts to bring her in to the authorities, whilst the baddies pop up from time to time looking to get their money back. John Dennis Johnston, Michael Champion, Sven-Ole Thorsen, and Bill Moseley play Des Barres’ associates, whilst Geoffrey Lewis turns up as a hippie phony passport maker. Frances Fisher (soon to be Mrs. Eastwood for a brief while) plays Peters’ sister, Gerry Ba…

Review: So, I Married an Axe Murderer

Charlie Mackenzie (Mike Myers) is a commitment-phobic San Francisco beat poet (no idea what he actually does to make money, though) who begins dating a local butcher named Harriet (Nancy Travis). However, despite things going quite well, Charlie once again finds a ridiculous reason to want to break things off: Having been told by his tabloid-reading Scottish mother (Brenda Fricker) of a supposed ‘Honeymoon Murderer’, Charlie is convinced that all of the tell-tale signs point to Harriet! Is Charlie just being a paranoid commitment-phobe or is Harriet really a serial killer? Myers also plays the role of Charlie’s insult-hurling, Col. Sanders-hating Scottish father Stuart, forever deriding Charlie’s younger brother, whom he only refers to as ‘Heed’ and constantly makes comment of the size of his, well…heed. Anthony LaPaglia plays Charlie’s cop friend who wants his sensitive boss (Alan Arkin) to be more like the angry police bosses in movies. Amanda Plummer plays Harriet’s sister Rose, wh…

Review: Run All Night

Liam Neeson plays a drunken, largely retired hitman forced to protect his estranged limo driver son (Joel Kinnaman) from his former boss and long-time friend Ed Harris, when Kinnaman witnesses Harris’ douchebag son Hoyt Holbrook commit a double homicide. Harris (now considered a legitimate businessman) gives Neeson a call to see if he can diffuse the situation, but when Holbrook ends up dead, he is forced to take Kinnaman on the run as Harris promptly puts an end to their long-standing friendship/employ and targets both Neeson and Kinnaman for assassination. Holbrook may be a sack of shit (he was trying to organise a drug-smuggling deal without daddy’s consent), but he’s family. Meanwhile, Vincent D’Onofrio plays an honest but disgruntled police detective with a long-standing hatred for both Neeson and Harris. Common plays an assassin for Harris, Bruce McGill is Harris’ right-hand man, Lois Smith is Neeson’s ill mother, and Genesis Rodriguez is Kinnaman’s wife, pregnant with their thi…

Review: An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

After being forced out of their New York home by cats, the Mousekewitz family head west to Green River at the suggestion of one Cat R. Waul (voiced by John Cleese), who makes bold promises of a better way of life for all mice. Mr. Waul, however, is a nasty scheming cat who has nefarious plans for the mice. Also following the mouse family out west is scaredy cat Tiger (voiced by Dom DeLuise), the one cat who seems to be a friend to all mice, especially his good buddy Fievel (voiced by Phillip Glasser). Amy Irving voices the object of Tiger’s affections, Miss Kitty, whilst Nehemiah Persoff is the voice of the Mousekewitz family patriarch, Jimmy Stewart (in his last feature film) voices the tired old dog sheriff of Green River, named Wylie Burp, and Jon Lovitz voices a spider.

For some reason, the original “An American Tail” has always eluded me, but I decided to press on anyway with the 1991 sequel directed by Phil Nibbelink (“We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story”) and Simon Wells (The grands…

Review: The Corpse of Anna Fritz

Three frankly creepy young men (Cristian Valencia, Bernat Saumell, and shy morgue employee Albert Carbo) interfere with the corpse of the title celebrity (played by Alba Ribas) at the local morgue. It’s like they’re all named Buck, and they like to…well, you’ve seen “Kill Bill vol. 1”. At least I hope so. ***** POSSIBLE SPOILERS FROM HERE ON ***** Things go on a downward spiral when it appears that the corpse of Anna Fritz isn’t quite as frigid as first thought, and she knows what they have done to her. Uh-oh, they done fucked with the wrong marine. Or the wrong dead celebrity’s corpse.

There’s a market for this 2015 horror-thriller from debut Spanish director Hèctor Hernández Vicens and co-writer Isaac P. Creus. If you enjoyed “Very Bad Things” or “Donkey Punch”, but wished they were Spanish, involved necrophilia and only running 71 minutes, perhaps this is the film for you. I found those films distasteful, boring, and populated by not a single interesting or likeable character, and …