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Showing posts from July 17, 2016

Review: Caveman

Dopey 1981 Carl Gottlieb (screenwriter of “Jaws” and “The Jerk”) film is a pointless parody of the already cheesy caveman genre, with everyone’s least favourite Beatle (sorry Ringo, but it’s true!) in the lead. He’s an outcast looking to fit in somewhere, with hulking John Matuszak (Sloth from “The Goonies” himself) his brutal nemesis, busty Barbara Bach the object of his affections (and not just the character’s, Starr and Bach soon married after this, lucky bastard!), and a young and too modern-looking Dennis Quaid as Starr’s younger buddy. The always irritating Shelley Long turns up as a perky cavegirl with designs on Starr, and veteran comedian Jack Gilford seems to simply make up the numbers. Richard Moll makes for an hilarious Abominable Snowman, towards the end, though.

Nowhere near as funny (or short) as the caveman segment in Mel Brooks’ underrated “History of the World Part 1”, this stupid, one-joke film never gets off the ground. I’ve seen better episodes of “Captain Caveman…

Review: Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man

Mobster William Smith sends his man Roger E. Mosley to check on his rival, having him pose as a preacher. He soon becomes a pillar of the black community, and learns he can make a lot of money by double-crossing his boss. Michael Pataki (quite good) is a superficial white politician who initially shuns helping the African American community, Sam Laws plays a deacon (!).

Well-intentioned, but cheap, unconvincing 1973 Henning Schellerup (the supposedly awful religious film “In Search of Historic Jesus” and a TV movie version of “The Time Machine”) blaxploitation film with a frankly boring plot, and dull direction, though Mosley (yeah, the black guy from “Magnum P.I.”) has undeniable charisma in an unlikeable part. Unfortunately he isn’t given enough opportunity to give the big, righteous preacher moments one keeps expecting. Sam Laws is as hilarious as always, though. William Smith fans (and I believe there are some), won’t get much out of this, though, he’s not in it much, and it’s not…

Review: The Hand of Night

William Sylvester is still grieving for the deaths of his wife and child in a car accident. On an airplane voyage he makes friends with archaeologist Edward Underdown and is talked into catching up with him in Morocco. When an ancient tomb is discovered on one of Underdown’s excavations, it appears to release vampiress Aliza Gur. Sylvester becomes haunted by her, and Underdown’s pretty stepdaughter Diane Clare tries to rescue him from Gur’s otherworldly influence. Or something like that.
Cheap, uneventful supernatural horror flick from 1968 just goes to show that the Italians and Spaniards are much better at this kind of ghostly thing than the Brits tend to be. Directed by Frederic Goode (“Death is a Woman”, “The Syndicate”, “Avalanche”) and scripted by Bruce Stewart (a veteran TV writer), there’s no goddamn plot after about an hour. Nothing was going on, nothing worth a damn at least, unless you find rubber bats, muddy photography shot at 4PM (Or more likely, a badly failed attempt a…

Review: The Basketball Diaries

Based on the autobiography of Jim Carroll (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), and telling the story of his growing up in 60s New York. We see his beginnings as a writer and potentially gifted basketball player at a Catholic school and his predilection for juvenile thuggery with his buddies. Eventually, after the death of a good friend (played rather well by an almost unrecognisable Michael Imperioli) from a terminal illness, Carroll starts to go off the rails and into a period of heavy heroin addiction, as do some of his pals (Mark Wahlberg among them), and it seems to derail his potential completely. He even turns to gay prostitution for drug money. Ernie Hudson plays Carroll’s mentor of-sorts Reggie, who might just be able to save Carroll’s life before it’s too late. Lorraine Bracco is Carroll’s long-suffering mother, Bruno Kirby is a basketball coach, Patrick McGaw is the one buddy who wises up early on, Juliette Lewis plays a skanky junkie, whilst the Daniel twins (Brittany and the mor…

Review: Fantastic Four (2015)

Young inventor Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and his buddy Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell) earn the interest of Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg E. Cathey) and his adopted daughter Sue Storm (Kate Mara), when showing off Reed’s teleportation device at a school science fair. The judges disqualify Reed, thinking he’s created a fantasy toy, but Dr. Storm is suitably impressed enough to invite Reed to move into his research facility, where Sue also works. Along with Ben, Victor (Toby Kebbell), and Storm’s wayward son Johnny (Michael B. Jordan), they work on using Reed’s teleportation device, which despite what Richards had originally thought, actually transports objects not to another place on Earth, but another planet/dimension! When NASA (represented by jerky Tim Blake Nelson) want to send someone through the device, Reed, Johnny, Ben, and Victor take it upon themselves to sneak in late one night and use themselves as guinea pigs. However, tragedy befalls Victor, and the others come back with strange (sup…

Review: Ice Cold in Alex

A WWII story following burned out military man Sir John Mills as he leads a mission driving an ambulance through the land mine-rigged African desert from Tobruk to Alexandria (The film was shot in Libya, however). Joining him are right-hand man Harry Andrews, two nurses (Sylvia Syms and Diane Clare) and a barrel-chested, bull-headed South African Army Captain (Sir Anthony Quayle) they pick up along the way. Something about Quayle strikes everyone as suspicious and they start to wonder if they have a spy in their midst. Walter Gotell turns up as a German officer who pulls their vehicle over at one tense moment.

It’s a shame that I watched this 1958 J. Lee Thompson (“Cape Fear”, “The Guns of Navarone”, and a whole bunch of crap for The Cannon Group in the 80s) war film with ad breaks, because I reckon it’d play out even more tense if watched uninterrupted. It’s a testament to the film though, that even with the ad breaks, and even at over 2 hours without them, it still manages to be a v…

Review: Mississippi Grind

Divorced, financially struggling loser Gerry (Ben Mendelsohn), clearly a problem gambler, takes up with cocky poker player Curtis (Ryan Reynolds) to travel from Iowa to a poker tournament in New Orleans. Gerry hopes to hit a run of good luck with his new buddy and maybe win back his family, too. However, as their fortunes start to sour, Curtis begins to wonder if he chose the right guy to travel and gamble with. Sienna Miller and the adorable Analeigh Tipton play a couple of hookers, Marshall Chapman plays Ryan Reynolds’ musician mother, James Toback (writer of 1974’s “The Gambler”) has a cameo as a guy running a poker game, and Alfre Woodard has a cameo as Gerry’s cordial but serious bookie.

Co-writer/co-director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (who previously gave us the acclaimed “Half-Nelson”) don’t know whether they want this 2015 film to be about loser gamblers or successful gamblers, so they try to give us a bit of both. It doesn’t work and wastes two good performances by Ryan R…

Review: Paper Towns

Quentin (Nat Wolff) used to be friends with his neighbour Margo (Cara Delevingne) when they were kids. High school has seen them run in completely different circles and barely talk to one another, though it’s obvious Quentin harbours feelings for the impossibly cool, non-conformist Margo. However, one night in their final year of school Margo climbs through Quentin’s bedroom window needing to use his car in order to get back at her cheating ex. He agrees and they have a great night together, even though he’s almost as nerdy and reserved as she is rebellious and impulsive. However, the next morning at school, Margo is absent. In fact, days go by without a sign of her, though her parents don’t seem as concerned as Quentin, saying it’s what she always does. Even the cops don’t seem to care much. However, Quentin starts to uncover clues that he believes Margo has left pertaining to her whereabouts. He sees it as his mission to follow the clues and find her. Despite being a bit of a rule-f…