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Showing posts from August 28, 2016

Review: Eat, Pray, Love

Unhappy, middle-aged, upper middle-class Manhattanite (and apparent writer of some sort) Julia Roberts wakes up to the fact that she no longer wants to be a part of her marriage to loving, if slightly oblivious husband Billy Crudup. After slightly messy divorce proceedings, she shacks up with a young and dopey actor (James Franco). That leaves her similarly unfulfilled after trying for an even lesser amount of time to make it work. So she does what any completely selfish, thoughtless person would do, heads overseas to ‘find herself’. Oh, she jots down a few things here and there to pass the trip off as ‘work’ of course, but really it’s just a big, one-person orgy across the globe. In Rome she indulges in much food and drink (Eat), in India she learns meditation and inner peace (Pray), before ending up in Bali to seek further spiritual enlightenment, and becomes involved with a Brazilian importer-exporter (Javier Bardem) who loves to make mixed tapes. Viola Davis plays Roberts’ married…

Review: 100 Girls

College kid Jonathan Tucker meets a girl (but never sees her- a bit contrived, admittedly) in an elevator during a blackout, and after a little chitchat, they make whoopee. Next morning, he wakes up, and she’s gone. He spends the rest of the film trying to find out who she was, even getting a job as a maintenance man to enter the girls dormitory. The suspects include supposed bad girl Emmanuelle Chriqui, militant tomboy Katherine Heigl, impossibly pretty girl Jaime Pressly, the smart (but ‘ugly duckling’) Marissa Ribisi, and feminist teacher (and possible S&M freak) Aimee Graham. The unbelievably adorable Larisa Oleynik, plays a girl who used to go to school with Tucker, and agrees to help him in his search. James DeBello plays his grotesque roommate, who has attached a set of weights to his…well, you don’t want to know. Johnny Green plays Chriqui’s gum-chewing, abusive boyfriend.

This 2000 teen comedy from writer-director Michael Davis is far from the worst of the lot, thanks mos…

Review: The Man From Hong Kong

When a Hong Kong drug smuggler (Sammo Hung) gets arrested in the Northern Territory in Australia, Hong Kong cop Fang Sing Leng (Jimmy Wang Yu) is sent to bring him back home. He ends up teaming with two mismatched Sydney cops (Hugh Keays-Byrne and Roger Ward) to take down local drug baron Jack Wilton (George Lazenby!). However, they’re a bit bemused by the HK cop’s extremely violent (but pretty damn effective) methods. Also in the mix is reporter Ros Speirs who bonks our hero and shows him how to hang-glide. I guess hang-gliding was all the rage in Australia in ’75. Rebecca Gilling plays the daughter of a doctor, whilst stuntman Grant Page plays a motorbike-riding assassin, and the inimitable Frank Thring plays an associate of Wilton’s. Bill Hunter has a tiny role as a plain-clothes cop named Peterson.

I’m not sure if he quite ranks as one of the world’s worst-ever filmmakers, but English-born Aussie filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith sure has made some crap in his time (“Turkey Shoot”, …

Review: Revolutionary Road

A young 1950s All-American couple (Ambitious salesman Leonardo DiCaprio, dreamer/homemaker Kate Winslet) seek achievement of The American Dream, so that one day DiCaprio can leave his job, they can sell their house, and move to Paris to be happy. Instead, they endure disappointment, boredom, denial, ferocious arguments, disillusionment, and a feeling of being trapped in a soulless suburban existence. You see, he hates his job, while she’s a wannabe actress who rarely gets to live her dream once the duties of housewife and mother take precedence, neither are destined to be happy whilst they remain together. Kathy Bates plays their real estate agent who (in a major contrivance) introduces the couple to her recently released ‘mentally disturbed’ son Michael Shannon (who endured electroshock therapy), who sees right through their phony ‘Apple Pie’ exterior and calls a spade an effing shovel, whilst his mother is in total, cheery denial. Since when have real-estate agents befriended their …

Review: Kaw

Ravens that have fed on the flesh of dead cattle infected with mad cow disease start to feast on the local townsfolk of your typical sleepy small town. Sean Patrick Flanery is the local sheriff trying to contain the situation (good thing given just about everyone else is as useful in a crisis as Ralph Wiggum), with the help of ol’ Doc (Rod Taylor). Stephen McHattie is the local reformed drunk, who for some reason is still hired as a school bus driver. Then again, when he tells them about the birds from the get-go, they just think he’s on the sauce again, so maybe these twits deserve to have a drunk driving their kids to and from school. There’s also some pious Mennonites whose diseased cattle were the catalyst for the whole thing. Megan Park plays the naive daughter of one of these farmers, who is going on a school excursion with that aforementioned reformed drunk bus driver. Uh-oh. Kristin Booth plays Flanery’s wife who is getting ready for their move to the big city...yeah, those pl…

Review: The Ballad of Cable Hogue

After being left for dead in the desert and robbed of water by two shifty comrades (Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones, natch), the title character (played by Jason Robards) manages to stumble across some water and wants to stake a claim for the land and charge people for access to the water. Calling the area Cable Springs, he’s soon in league with a lustful displaced English preacher (David Warner) and a bosomy hooker named Hildy (Stella Stevens). Slim Pickens turns up as a stagecoach driver, and R.G. Armstrong is a disinterested banker.

Imperfect, but surprisingly likeable 1970 western/comedy from director Sam Peckinpah (“The Wild Bunch”, “Convoy”) and screenwriters John Crawford (a veteran character actor whose only writing credit this was) and Edmund Penney (also an actor, who only wrote one other screenplay) is a good showcase for veteran character actor Jason Robards in a rare lead role. Playing the title character, Robards (who I have no doubt spent a lot of time drinking with the …

Review: Undertow (1996)

Lou Diamond Phillips’ car breaks down in a storm and he awakens in a secluded cabin inhabited by uber-macho backwards hick/survivalist nut Charles Dance and his essentially captive and seriously timid wife Mia Sara (whom he ‘claimed’ at age 13!). A game of macho one-upmanship ensues as Phillips and Sara also start making goo-goo eyes at one another, and the storm outside keeps getting worse and worse. If the storm doesn’t kill them, they might just kill each other.
Stripped-down 1996 thriller (premiering on cable in the US, and I caught it on cable here in Oz) has a terrific pedigree, and not just confined to its cast. It is directed by Eric Red, and written by Kathryn Bigelow and Red (both of whom worked on “Near Dark”, whilst Bigelow also directed “Point Break” and Red scripted “The Hitcher”, all classic genre films). Unfortunately, it is a horribly familiar, and generally uninteresting genre entry that we’ve seen a thousand times before (Think a macho blend of “Misery” and “Dead Ca…

Review: Lifeboat

Fictional, but then-topical story of the survivors of a passenger ship torpedoed by a German U-boat in WWII. Getting aboard a lifeboat, the characters are; Acerbic journalist Constance Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), class-conscious crew member Kovak (John Hodiak), wealthy industrialist Rittenhouse (Henry Hull), nurse Alice (Mary Anderson), shaken young mother Mrs. Higley (Heather Angel), ‘regular guy’ and injured crew member Gus (William Bendix), meek cockney radio operator ‘Sparks’ (Hume Cronyn), and steward Joe AKA ‘Charcoal’ (Canade Lee). Soon they are joined by a barrel-chested German named Willy (played by Walter Slezak). Being German (and at this time, therefore a Nazi) and having been displaced from a U-boat responsible for sinking their own ship, the other survivors are deeply suspicious of their new companion, with tough Kovak in particular extremely agitated by the German’s presence. However, he’s stronger, seemingly better prepared, and says he’s a navigator. It’s agreed (begr…