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Showing posts from 2016

Review: Interiors

It’s about three adult sisters (Mary Beth Hurt, Diane Keaton, and Kristin Griffith), and their mentally unstable interior decorator mother (Geraldine Page), who hasn’t come to terms with the end of her marriage. Part of the reason for this is because their non-confrontational rich lawyer father (E.G. Marshall) has been trying to soften the blow, but now that he has moved on to the somewhat crass Maureen Stapleton (nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her work here), they need to find a way to let Page know about the impending wedding without sending her towardsanother breakdown. Easier said than done. Meanwhile, the three sisters clearly don’t approve of Stapleton. Uptight Hurt is in a relationship with activist filmmaker Waterston, and resents that she’s the only one who tries to keep it real with Page. Keaton (who doesn’t wear a pants suit and tie for a very welcome change) is married to a failed and moody writer (a well-cast, but glum Richard Jordan). Kristin Griffith,…

Review: Chinese Zodiac

Jackie Chan stars as JC, a treasure hunter tasked by a rich American (Oliver Platt!) to find 12 bronze statues pertaining to the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. He and his team (which includes long-limbed debutant Zhang Lanxin as Bonnie and Liao Fan as David) are eventually joined by preservationist Coco (Xingtong Yao) and French aristocrat Catherine (Laura Weissbecker) who want the statue busts for either personal or more altruistic reasons. American stuntwoman Caitlin Dechelle turns up towards the end as a formidable henchwoman.

Also known as “CZ12”, this 2013 action/adventure not only stars Jackie Chan, but he also directed, co-wrote, produced, composed, and performed the duties of art direction and fight choreography on the film, among other tasks (He’s even one of the DOPs!). So its success or failure definitely doesn’t have anyone else’s shoulders to rest on, really. Basically a reboot of “Armour of God”, it’s probably slightly better than that film, but hampered by overlength (…

Review: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Call it “Star Wars: Episode 3.5”. Basically, this is the story of the mission to retrieve the plans to destroy the Death Star. The Death Star is the big planet-destroying uber-weapon of the Galactic Empire, and thanks to its reluctant creator Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen), it is now fully operational. Galen works under the pompous Director Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), who is eager to show his superiors Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing…ish) and Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) that he’s wearing his big boy pants. Meanwhile, the Rebel Alliance have a plan to find Galen Erso and learn everything they can about the Death Star in order to destroy it. This plan involves his daughter Jyn (Felicity Jones) joining up with a ragtag crew to meet with radical extremist Rebel fighter Saw Gerrera, who raised Jyn after taking her in when her mother was killed by Krennic’s Storm Troopers and Galen reluctantly going back to finish his job. The ragtag crew are: Roguish soldier Cassian Andor (Diego L…

Review: The Vanishing

Young lovers Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock stop at a gas station whilst on vacation near Mount St. Helens. Bullock goes to buy cigarettes, and never returns. For the next three years, Sutherland refuses to give up his tireless search for her, but nothing pans out. He does, however, find companionship in waitress Nancy Travis, but he’s still secretly searching for his lost true love. Then one day, unkempt chemistry teacher and family man Jeff Bridges turns up, telling Sutherland that he can show him what happened to Bullock. The audience already has somewhat of an idea, having earlier seen Bridges experimenting with chloroform as a way of subduing women for abduction.

This 1993 remake of a 1988 Swedish film is a completely ineffectual film experience. It had a reputation as such back in 1993, and there have been few defenders since. I’m certainly not going to be championing the film myself. It’s terrible. However, where I differ from most detractors is in the reason for its fail…

Review: The Driftless Area

Anton Yelchin plays Pierre, who accepts a lift from Shane (John Hawkes), who robs Pierre of the rose bush he had been carrying, intending to give it to a girl. However, an accident turns the tables and Pierre walks off with a bag of cash Shane had presumably wrangled himself through criminal means. Pierre, who has come back to his hometown after his parents death falls for a mysterious girl (Zooey Deschanel), who owes some kind of debt to the equally mysterious Tim (Frank Langella), and who may or may not be a ghost. Meanwhile, Shane has come looking for Pierre, and he’s not happy. Aubrey Plaza plays one of Shane’s deadbeat associates, Alia Shawkat is Pierre’s childhood best friend, and Ciaran Hinds is another criminal figure.

The acting world lost a really promising talent when Anton Yelchin ascended to Club 27, and although this 2015 film isn’t the best evidence of his talent, it’s worth a look anyway. An adaptation of the Tom Drury novel from Drury himself and debut director/co-wri…

Review: About Alex

Former college pals reunite for the weekend when one of their own has attempted suicide. Coming to the home of Alex (Jason Ritter), who has just gotten out of the hospital, failed writer Ben (Nate Parker) even notices that the ‘mess’ in the bathroom hasn’t been cleaned up yet. Ben is still with college sweetheart Siri (Maggie Grace- Fuck You, Shannon. I’m still pissed!), though neither have seen Alex in years. In fact, none of the gang have really kept in touch, despite some not living terribly far away. Max Greenfield plays Josh, a confrontational douchebag who has a knack for saying all of the wrong things, and refuses to show sympathy over his old friend’s near-death experience. Aubrey Plaza is Sarah, Josh’s former ‘fuck buddy’, who takes the opposite tact towards Alex and, well-meaning as she is, won’t leave the poor guy alone as she pretty much plays mother to him. She also starts fucking Josh again, against her better judgement, despite harbouring long-held romantic feelings for…

Review: Radio Days

As the title suggests, this is Woody Allen’s nostalgic look back at the golden age of radio, as he (in the form of a young Seth Green) grew up in 40s New York. Mia Farrow plays a wannabe radio actress who just doesn’t have the right voice (or accent) for it, Julie Kavner and Michael Tucker play Green’s Jewish parents, Kenneth Mars plays a stern rabbi, and Danny Aiello a not-so mean mob hitman. Gina DeAngelis is amusing as Aiello’s tough mother.

Although not one of his more well-known films, I get the feeling that this 1987 film from writer-director Woody Allen (whose best films include “Annie Hall”, “Deconstructing Harry”, and “The Purple Rose of Cairo”) was probably very personal to him. That’s great, but I was looking for a movie, and Woody’s barely given us one. There’s something here, and if Woody (who narrates the film himself) had made a more straightforward single narrative coming-of-age/nostalgia story, he might’ve really come up with something here. Instead he gives us lots o…

Review: The Visit

Ed Oxenbould and his verbose wannabe filmmaker older sister Olivia DeJonge go to spend a few days with their maternal grandparents while mum (Kathryn Hahn) has a little ‘Me (get wild and crazy) Time’. They’ve never met their grandparents, whom their mother estranged herself from a long time ago for reasons she won’t talk about. Picked up at the train station by elderly Deanna Dunagan and Peter McRobbie quickly get settled in with their Nana and ‘Pop Pop’. However, after a while, Oxenbould starts to have suspicions about the old folks. Something just doesn’t seem right about them. Nana runs around naked late at night, and completely freaks out when wannabe documentarian DeJonge questions them on why their mother left. People also come around from the local mental hospital where the elderly couple used to volunteer. It seems they haven’t been around lately. Eventually the kids decide to set up a camera at night to see what it records. Things get weird. Really, really weird. All I’ll say…

Review: Deadpool

Smart arse mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) thinks he’s got it all now that he’s with the beautiful Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), but he is dealt a devastating blow in the form of terminal cancer. The mysterious Ajax (Ed Skrein) approaches Wilson with a supposed cure, but eventually learns that it’s all a bit dodgy. A lot dodgy, actually. Pissed off and with an uncontrollable habit of mouthing off to the wrong people, Wilson grinds Ajax’s gears to the point where he is subjected to torturous mutation experiments. He is given the power of tremendously effective healing of his own body, but is physically scarred for life. Wilson eventually escapes the mad scientist, goes into hiding, and dons a mask and suit to become a smart arse masked mercenary named Deadpool. Now he plots his revenge against Ajax, but this has the unwanted effect of putting Vanessa (who has no idea of Wilson’s whereabouts since going into treatment) into mortal danger. T.J. Miller plays Wilson’s bartender pal, Les…

Review: Rosewood

Based on true events in Florida in the 1920s, where in the town of Sumner, a white woman (Catherine Kellner) is beaten up by the man (Robert Patrick) she’s been having an affair with. To avoid catching hell for her indiscretion she tells her husband (Loren Dean) that she was beaten (but not raped) by an unknown black man. Her African-American maid (Esther Rolle of TV’s “Good Times”) witnesses the event but remains silent, choosing to stay out of others’ affairs, probably out of fear. Near Sumner is the small town of the film’s title, a place mostly populated by African-Americans. The locals of Sumner are mostly ignorant rednecks who resent the relative prosperity of the blacks in Rosewood, and this lie just gives nasty crackers like Bruce McGill’s bushy-bearded dad the ammunition to start a lynch mob. Word of a chain-gang escapee on the loose doesn’t help matters, either. This in turn would lead to a massacre of anywhere between 70 and 250 African-Americans, depending on which source …

Review: Man on Fire (2004)

Burnt-out, alcoholic ex-Special Ops guy Frank Creasy (Denzel Washington) gets thrown a bone by his old buddy Rayburn (Christopher Walken). The assignment is to act as a driver/bodyguard for 9 year-old Pita (the very un-Pita Dakota Fanning). You see, this is Mexico where criminal organisations kidnap rich kids, who more often than not end up dead. Daughter of a local businessman (Marc Anthony) and his American wife (Radha Mitchell), Pita is cute as a button, talkative, inquisitive and everything Creasy didn’t want in a client. He just wants to do his job with the least amount of interaction possible. Naturally, the kid starts to get under Creasy’s skin and eventually a bond is formed. When the inevitable happens, it enrages Creasy and that’s when he sets about utilising his special set of skills and some scumbags are about to get messed up. Mickey Rourke plays Anthony’s attorney, Rachel Ticotin plays a passionate local journalist, Giancarlo Giannini is the cop she’s banging.

No one’s g…

Review: Undercurrent

Katharine Hepburn plays an intelligent, but dowdy and somewhat insecure unmarried daughter of professor Edmund Gwenn. It’s not long before she meets wealthy industrialist Robert Taylor, though and after a seemingly short romance they are married. Here she must deal with her own insecurities in mixing with high society-types with their judging looks, but more importantly she finds herself having to deal with her husband’s mood swings and refusal to talk about his past, especially as it pertains to his brother (Robert Mitchum). Things get exceedingly heated when the couple visit Taylor’s family home, and the past just refuses to stay in its place.

One poorly miscast actor and another not given much to work with are just two of the issues with this thoroughly underwhelming 1946 star pic from director Vincente Minnelli (“The Bad and the Beautiful”, “Lust for Life”). I’m far from a Robert Taylor fan, but he shows here and in the later “The Last Hunt” that the darker the role, the better fi…