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Showing posts from May 1, 2016

Review: Get Shorty

Cool mobster Chili Palmer (John Travolta), attempts to break into the movie biz (his childhood dream), getting involved with schlock producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman), ‘Scream Queen’ Karen Flores (Rene Russo), egotistical actor Martin Weir (Danny DeVito), and others. Out to get him are mobster Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo, charismatic and intimidating in equal measure), and an hysterically funny Dennis Farina as aggressive small-time mobster ‘Bones’. James Gandolfini, pre-“Sopranos”, plays Bo’s muscle, a former movie stuntman who isn’t really that bad a guy but will end up as Chili’s punching bag for most of the film. David Paymer gets the Elisha Cook Jr. role of the little idiot in a whole mess of trouble he hasn’t got the intestinal fortitude to deal with.

Likeable, amusing 1995 Barry Sonnenfeld (“The Addams Family”) film version of an Elmore Leonard (“Jackie Brown”, “3:10 to Yuma”) novel has many funny moments, interesting characters, and several terrific performances, especially DeVi…

Review: Son of a Gun

19 year-old Brenton Thwaites gets sent to the slammer for 6 months for an unstated minor crime, and learns to harden up ASAP. Observing him is veteran hard man prisoner (and murderer) Ewan McGregor, who agrees to bring Thwaites under his protection when the latter gets targeted by inmate thugs. They also have a common affinity for chess. Yes, chess. However, gaining McGregor’s protection will require Thwaites to do McGregor a solid in the future. When Thwaites’ 6 months are up, he is to organise for McGregor’s bust from prison (quite similar to a couple of real-life Aussie prison busts, actually) with some outside contacts. Once McGregor and his right-hand man Matt Nable are busted out, Thwaites ends up being taken under McGregor’s wing and joins them on a pretty big heist. Unfortunately, things start to go pear-shaped, and Thwaites learns that he’s pretty expendable to the increasingly paranoid McGregor, whom the orphan had previously seen as kind of a father figure to him. Alicia Vi…

Review: A Bug’s Life

Set in the world of insects, and focussing primarily on a society of ants who are constantly bullied by the bigger grasshoppers (who look and act more like locusts or wasps if you ask me), who make them give up food. When a well-meaning ant named Flik (voiced by Dave Foley) screws up and leaves them with not enough food to provide the grasshoppers, the rest of the ants pretty much make him a leper. He decides to head out on his own to find a way to rectify the situation. He comes across some ‘circus’ insects, who he mistakes for brave warriors whom he assumes will be able to help ward off the grasshoppers, who led by the intimidating Hopper (voiced by Kevin Spacey). Being circus folk, Flik is clearly in for a bit of a disappointment. Or is he? Julia Louis-Dreyfus voices neurotic ant Princess Atta, Denis Leary is a tough Ladybug named Francis, the legendary Jonathan Harris is a praying mantis named Manny, Phyllis Diller plays the Queen, and Roddy McDowell plays an elder statesman ant a…

Review: Twelve Monkeys

A deadly virus in 1997 killed billions. I guess I was too busy doing my Higher School Certificate at the time and didn’t realise. Hey, at least I survived, though, apparently. Anyway, all poor jokes aside, surviving humans were forced underground as the animals took their rightful place at the top of the kingdom (No, really! It’s very Orwellian). Bruce Willis plays James Cole, a prisoner in the year 2035 who hopes to get parole in exchange for taking part in an experiment to travel back to 1996 to uncover how the virus got started. Unfortunately, something is amiss and he ends up in 1990, mistaken for a rambling crazy person, arrested, and thrown into a psychiatric institution. There he meets psychiatrist Dr. Railly (Madeleine Stowe) who doesn’t for a second believe his wild tale of time-travel. She’s specifically interested in patients who claim doomsday beliefs that no one will believe. James also meets fellow patient Jeffrey (Brad Pitt), a manic, rambling and gesticulating troublem…

Review: Big Eyes

Beginning in the late 50s, this is the true story of Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) the naïve, sweet-natured painter who is swept off her feet by Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), an artist in his own right. They marry soon and Walter becomes a big success as the creator of artworks focussing on female figures with enlarged eyes. The problem? Walter is a fraud and is making money off of Margaret’s work. Eventually, Margaret uncovers that Walter’s own artistic talents are far lesser than he has claimed. But nonetheless Margaret/Walter’s ‘Big Eyes’ paintings cause a sensation. Serious art critics (including a snooty, humourless Terence Stamp) scoff, but the art sells like hot cakes and is able to be put on postcards, posters, etc. At first Margaret goes along with the charade, as she loves her husband and at that point in time, he reasons that a female artist simply wouldn’t sell. He’s also a natural self-promoter, something the more reticent Margaret isn’t nearly as proficient in. However, s…