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Showing posts from February 7, 2016

Review: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

The virtuous and beautiful Snow White (voiced by Adriana Caselotti) is targeted for death by the jealous Queen (voiced by Lucille La Verne) who orders a huntsman to kill her. Unfortunately, the huntsman has a conscience and Snow White flees into the woods. There she stops by a small house that is home to seven dwarves. They welcome her into their home (begrudgingly in Grumpy’s case), but when the Queen finds out that Snow White has escaped death, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Oh and there’s a handsome prince in here somewhere, too.

Time has obviously aged this 1937 film, the first Walt Disney animated feature length film, but not nearly as much as it probably ought to. It’s still an amazing achievement for its time and a really, really lovely film even today. It may not be as great as “Pinocchio”, but I’d still place it a healthy third in Disney animated stakes behind “Peter Pan”, and just ahead of the underrated “Robin Hood”.

The film really only has one thing holdi…

Review: Jim Thorpe: All-American

Biopic of Native American athlete Jim Thorpe (Burt Lancaster) who went from the Indian reservation to Olympic success (Pentathlon and Decathlon- seriously, the guy was amazing!), as well as stints playing gridiron and baseball. However, Thorpe’s life was filled with sadness including the death of a child, an unsuccessful marriage, Olympic controversy, and the decline of his sporting career. Phyllis Thaxter plays the white girl who would become Thorpe’s first wife, Charles Bickford plays coach and mentor ‘Pop’ Warner, and Steve Cochran plays a rival collegiate athlete at the school for Native American students Thorpe attends as a young man.

Underrated biopic of what surely must rank as one of the greatest (and multi-skilled) American athletes of all-time, this 1951 Michael Curtiz (“Captain Blood”, “Casablanca”, “We’re No Angels”) film is really enjoyable both from a cultural perspective and as entertainment. Blue-eyed Burt Lancaster may at first seem flagrantly miscast as a Native Amer…

Review: Infini

Mining operations in the future involve teleporting/slipstreaming between planets. It’s not a safe gig, as deaths can occur, and there are checks on re-entry to make sure you don’t bring anything contagious back home. Expectant father Whit Carmichael (Dan MacPherson) is one such teleporter embarking on his latest mission. However, things don’t go well, and Carmichael finds himself stranded on the alien planet. Another team (played by the likes of Luke Ford, Grace Huang, Dwaine Stevenson, Luke Hemsworth, and Kevin Copeland) is sent to Infini to stop an impending threat to Earth, with the search and rescue of Carmichael a secondary concern.

Imperfect but not-bad 2015 sci-fi ‘mind fuck’ flick from Aussie writer-director Shane Abbess is at least preferable to another dreary film about Western Sydney heroin addicts or dinky-di soldiers and jolly jumbucks. It’s also a giant leap forward from Abbess’ previous dreary, cheapo sci-fi/fantasy “Gabriel”. Unfortunately, it’s another Aussie film st…

Review: Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Set in the early 1900’s, Milo (voiced by Michael J. Fox) is a linguistics expert obsessed with the lost underwater city of Atlantis, but who works as a humble boiler room attendant at a local museum where everyone dismisses his theories about where Atlantis is to be found. One day, however, he is summoned to a meeting with a millionaire (voiced by the inimitable John Mahoney from TV’s “Frasier”), who knew Milo’s deceased grandfather (who was similarly obsessed with Atlantis) and is more than willing to fund an expedition to find Atlantis, using a custom-made submarine. Milo (the only person who knows how to speak the supposedly dead Atlantean language) goes along on the mission headed by gruff Commander Rourke (voiced by James Garner), and his group of roughneck military-types (voiced by the likes of Don Novello, Phil Morris, Claudia Christian, and the late Jim Varney, who died just prior to the film’s completion). What they discover is best left to the viewer to find out for themselv…

Review: Sweet Smell of Success

Slimy, desperate press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) is threatened with being shut out of all-powerful news columnist J.J. Hunsecker’s (Burt Lancaster) all-important gossip column if he can’t manage to break up the relationship between Hunsecker’s beloved sister (Susan Harrison) and her jazz musician nice guy boyfriend (Martin Milner), whom J.J. feels isn’t worthy of his sister. Sidney is desperate, willing to do anything and use anyone to get back in J.J.’s good graces- and column. Enter ditsy cigarette girl Barbara Nichols (who for my money was the best of the Marilyn Monroe knock-offs by far), for whom Sidney has an important (and frankly degrading) use. Emile Meyer plays the thuggish cop on J.J.’s payroll, who doesn’t take kindly to Falco’s constant verbal jabs.

Easily the sleaziest film about the press and agents you’ll ever see, amazingly this 1957 flick was directed by Alexander Mackendrick, best known for Ealing comedies from England (Including the brilliant “The Ladykiller…

Review: The Octagon

Chuck Norris plays a former competitive martial artist who goes up against a terrorist organisation of deadly ninja (!) which just so happens to be headed by Norris’ disgraced Japanese stepbrother Tadashi Yamashita. Long ago they studied under their master (John Fujioka, in crimson-filtered flashbacks) before the latter (played in flashbacks by Brian Tochi) was banished for dishonourable behaviour. Yuki Shimoda and Gerald Okamura are overseeing the ninja recruits, whilst Aussie martial artist Richard Norton debuts in dual roles as the recruiter of the newbies and Yamashita’s masked enforcer, respectively. Into the mix we also get Lee Van Cleef turning up as Norris’ slightly antagonistic anti-terrorist group leader old acquaintance (at least I think, his character is a tad murky), Art Hindle plays Norris’ feather-haired martial arts buddy A.J., Karen Carlson as an heiress and mystery woman with a grudge against Yamashita, and Carol Bagdasarian as a fiery trainee ninja. Look fast for Er…

Review: Pay or Die

Based on a true story, Ernest Borgnine plays a humble Italian-American NYPD lieutenant in the early 1900s who tries to prove the existence of the Sicilian Mafia (i.e. The Black Hand) in New York (especially ‘Little Italy’), whilst also trying to get the cooperation and support of the local immigrant community who don’t inherently trust the cops. The Police Commissioner eventually appoints him head of his own squad of Italian-American cops. Meanwhile, Borgnine is encouraged by his superior to educate himself, whilst he also romances Zohra Lampert.

Ernest Borgnine takes the lead in this rather obscure, not very well-known crime pic from 1960. Directed by Richard Wilson (“Al Capone”, “Invitation to a Gunfighter”), it’s a B-movie with an A- lead actor, and that’s no complaint. It actually reminded me of a 30s crime flick, right down to the montage of newspaper headlines as Borgnine and his Italian Untouchables make arrests. Borgnine, one of the all-time great character actors, is perfectl…

Review: Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story

The life and death of legendary martial arts icon Bruce Lee (Jason Scott Lee), who after a fight with some racist British wankers in Hong Kong makes him notorious for the wrong reasons, is sent by his father (Ric Young) to live in America. Trained as a boy in Wing Chun by the legendary Ip Man, Bruce was actually born in San Francisco whilst his dad was assigned there temporarily, so he has an American birth certificate despite growing up in Hong Kong. In the US, Bruce endures humble beginnings as a lowly dish washer at a Chinese restaurant, until the owner (Nancy Kwan, of all people) fires him for getting into a fight with some of the staff. She does, however, suggest Bruce get himself an education. He does indeed go to University, even teaching martial arts, which is where he meets blonde American girl Linda (Lauren Holly), the woman who will eventually become his wife and mother of his children. Bruce’s life goes through the ups of international movie stardom and creating his own fo…

Review: Eyewitness

William Hurt plays a janitor whose immigrant boss is murdered one night whilst Hurt is in the bowels of the building on night duty. He discovers the body, but not what led up to it. However, he tells TV news reporter Sigourney Weaver that he has vital information about the case. This is because Hurt has a giant, slightly creepy crush on the woman and wants to get to know her. Weaver works this out pretty quickly, but is oddly attracted to Hurt, and a romance begins, despite her current engagement to Jewish Intelligence agent Christopher Plummer. Plummer is currently involved in a program to help Russian Jews find their way to safety and happiness in America. Weaver’s rich parents (including mother Irene Worth) are also involved in the program. Meanwhile, two investigating cops (Steven Hill and Morgan Freeman) turn up looking for the culprit, and Hurt starts to suspect that his shifty co-worker James Woods might be the guilty party (He was recently fired for being kind of a dick). Pame…