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Showing posts from August 7, 2016

Review: Runaway Jury

Widow Joanna Going is suing a gun manufacturer after the shooting death of her husband (Dylan McDermott, in a tense opening scene). She is represented by lawyer Wendall Rohr (Dustin Hoffman). Rohr’s legal opponent is a lawyer played by Bruce Davison, however he is aided behind the scenes by the shark-like jury consultant Fitch (Gene Hackman) hired by the gun manufacturer (represented by Stanley Anderson). Fitch and his team (including Marguerite Moreau, Leland Orser, and goons played by Nick Searcy and Nestor Serrano) use any means necessary to acquaint themselves with the potential jurors for selection. Once that process is over, they hope to have found the right people to get the verdict they are looking for. Rohr, by comparison is only aided by the somewhat ineffectual Jeremy Piven, and is far less Machiavellian in technique.

The fly in the ointment comes in the form of Nicholas Easter (John Cusack), who winds up on the jury and appears to be playing his own influencing game amongs…

Review: Out for a Kill

Steven Seagal plays a former professional thief turned Archaeology professor (!) who gets into a mess with some Chinese smugglers/gangsters (who are smuggling drugs through ancient artefacts). After they kill his wife (Kata Dobo) and a cute work colleague, Seagal decides to get Medieval on their arses, with help from DEA agent Michelle Goh. A (c)rapper named MC Harvey turns up in flashbacks as Seagal’s prison ‘homey’ (in a Chinese prison!). Corey Johnson plays Goh’s DEA partner.

I’m guessing “Marked for Justice” and “Under Deadly Ground” were already taken as suitable titles. Of the two films Steven Seagal made for directorial hack-meister Michael Oblowitz (this and “The Foreigner”, the two worst films of Seagal’s career, which has its fair share of clunkers), it’s a genuine toss-up as to which is worse, but this 2003 stinker is certainly the least coherent of the two, if maybe a little livelier. Seriously, I bet just about anyone writing a review on this film is stealing their plot s…

Review: Find Me Guilty

Vin Diesel (with an admittedly unconvincing hairpiece) is real-life Jersey mobster Jackie DiNorscio, who defended himself in the longest mafia trial in U.S. history. During the 21 months, with each of Jackie’s 19 co-defendants having their own lawyer, Jackie’s goofball antics and unpolished/unqualified defence earns him the contempt of mob boss Alex Rocco (despite Jackie refusing to rat anyone out, I might add), but also endears him to the all-important jury (after all, this is a guy who forgives the lowlife junkie cousin who shot him four times!). The judge (Ron Silver), meanwhile, doesn’t know what the hell to make of it all. Peter Dinklage plays the head Defence counsel, who whispers advice to the untrained, barely schooled Jackie at certain points. Annabella Sciorra (who looks too old for the part) has an overrated, one-scene glorified cameo as Jackie’s wife.

Seriocomic 2006 Sidney Lumet (“12 Angry Men”, “The Verdict”, “Network”, “Serpico”, “Dog Day Afternoon”) courtroom flick bas…

Review: Carolina

Despite being named after a State (like her siblings), the title character (Julia Stiles) has turned out rather normal, all things considered. Her grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) is somewhat eccentric but has been good enough to raise all the kids of her wholly irresponsible, womanising drunk son (Randy Quaid, natch). Stiles, meanwhile, is having problems at work (she works for a TV dating game show hosted by seriously weird Alan Thicke), when she meets a Hugh Grant-ish type who was one of the show’s clients, until he realised he’d much rather date Stiles. This upsets Stiles’ best pal and neighbour Alessandro Nivola (quite charming). Nivola, a ghost writer for famed romance novelist Barbara Eden (yes, Barbara Eden playing a queen bitch!) has pined for Stiles a helluva long time now, and is jealous of the new competition. This all sounds totally original, doesn’t it? Not! Mika Boreem is irritating as Stiles’ horse-riding, phony-accent sporting younger sister Maine (yes, Maine. Oh, how f…

Review: Eureka

From Nicolas Roeg, the director of such confounding and pretentious works as “Bad Timing…A Sensual Obsession” (and admittedly good films like “Don’t Look Now” and “Walkabout”) comes yet another film in this vein, but for once he takes a fine cast down with him. 1981 flick starts as a “Citizen Kane” tale of gold miner Gene Hackman becoming extremely rich, but paranoid of his beloved daughter Theresa Russell’s handsome suitor (played by a pre-“Blade Runner” Rutger Hauer). Then it turns into a mob film, with scene-stealing Joe Pesci (commanding despite his small stature) and a young-looking Mickey Rourke turning up as a Capone-like mobster and his trusted accountant/henchman, respectively. Add to this a courtroom finale and touches of voodoo and kinky sex, and you’ve got a film heading in every which way, and never working at any point.

The acting is somewhat uneven as well; a soft-spoken Hauer is well-cast as the handsome but possibly opportunistic playboy, whilst Pesci, Ed Lauter (in a…

Review: The Masque of the Red Death

Vincent Price plays the sadistic Prospero, a Satanist and hedonist who burns down an entire village believed to contain one person afflicted with the Red Death. Jane Asher is Francesca, who begs Prospero to at least spare the lives of her father (Nigel Green) and beau (David Weston). He decides to keep all three of them prisoner in his castle instead, with plans to personally corrupt Christian follower Francesca. Meanwhile, Prince Prospero and his orgy-loving sycophants are preparing for an upcoming masque. Hazel Court plays Prospero’s Satanist mistress Julianna, whilst Patrick Magee and Skip Martin play Alfredo and Hop Toad, a couple of plotters in Prospero’s castle. Meanwhile, a mysterious Man in Red (John Westbrook) looks set to descend upon Prospero’s castle.

I wouldn’t say I was underwhelmed, but when I first saw this 1964 Edgar Allen Poe flick from director Roger Corman, I wasn’t as big on it as many others seem to be (It’s easily the most critically acclaimed film of Corman’s d…

Review: Supervixens

Mechanic Charles Pitts has a huge fight with his extremely jealous wife SuperAngel (Shari Eubank) and storms off. Meanwhile, a brutish redneck cop Sledge (character veteran Charles Napier) who helped break up the argument, comes back to fornicate with Eubank. Unfortunately, Sledge ain’t much of a red hot lover, and Eubank (foolishly) taunts him, sending him into a violent, homicidal rage. Being the prime suspect in the murder, Pitts gets the hell outta Dodge and encounters a string of oddly Amazonian, sexpot gals along the way (including milkmaid SuperSoul, SuperCherry, deaf-mute SuperEula, and finally SuperVixen, played again by Eubank, who may or may not be SuperAngel reborn to seek revenge on the vile Sledge. Still following me?). John LaZar, who was the uber-camp transsexual rock guru Z-Man in “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls”, appears here in a comparatively more ‘normal’ role as a guy who offers Pitts a lift at one point. The unique (and here very scantily clad) Haji turns up as …

Review: Mata Hari (1985)

Sylvia Kristel stars as real-life globe-trotting WWI spy Mata Hari, who spends an awful lot more time fucking than spying, really. Christopher Cazenove plays her German secret service lover Capt. Karl Von Byerling, with Oliver Tobias playing French secret service guy Ladoux, whom Mata Hari also sleeps with. Von Byerling and Ladoux, despite their differing nations and competing affections for Mata Hari, are actually friends. Gaye Brown plays Fraulein Doktor, an untrustworthy sort scheming away with assassin Herr Wolff (Gottfried John). Vernon Dobtcheff appears briefly as a prosecutor, whilst Anthony Newlands plays sleazy Baron Joubert.

I have no real way of knowing, but watching this 1985 Sylvia Kristel vehicle from director Curtis Harrington (“Night Tide”, “What’s the Matter With Helen?”), I felt like I was watching a seriously censored version. There was sex, but all of the sex scenes seem choppy and short, especially those of the Sapphic variety (The threesome/orgy in particular see…