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Showing posts from October 30, 2016

Review: Vantage Point

The assassination of the U.S. President (William Hurt) at a public event in Spain (something about signing a counterterrorism treaty), seen from the POV of several witnesses to the event (a bomb blast), the most prominent character being veteran secret service agent Dennis Quaid, who once took a bullet for the President years ago (sound familiar?). Other POV’s that each offer different bits of information include TV producer Sigourney Weaver who is covering the event, police officer Eduardo Noriega (whom is either the assassin or being set up), and ‘Average Joe’ American tourist Forest Whitaker, filming the event on his camcorder. Zoe Saldana plays Weaver’s on-site reporter, in one particularly affecting scene.

Clever 2008 gimmick thriller (think Kurosawa’s “Rashomon” meets TV’s “24”, but with Quaid instead of Donald Sutherland’s Brat Packer son) from first-time director Pete Travis and similarly inexperienced screenwriter Barry L. Levy is very well-acted and fun, but one ludicrous tw…

Review: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

A vicious, constantly bickering middle-aged couple (Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor) invite a younger couple (George Segal and alcoholic young wife Sandy Dennis) over one night, and for the rest of the film we are witness to some of the most vindictive, sick mind games and unpleasant revelations you are likely to hear.

Extremely effective, claustrophobic 1966 directorial debut from Mike Nichols (“The Graduate”, “Carnal Knowledge”) is clearly derived from the stage, but you won’t care. You’ll have hardly enough time to breathe, let alone process thought. It might be over-the-top, it may be full of ghastly characters, but it sure ain’t boring, and no one holds back here. Even the language is saltier than most films up to this point.

Burton is pitch-perfect and Taylor seems to be doing a latter day Shelley Winters doing Bette Davis (and that’s a compliment), although one could argue that she’s also playing herself. Segal is underrated in a poor part, and Dennis is appropriately pathe…

Review: Things We Lost in the Fire

David Duchovny, an affluent family man, devoted to his wife Halle Berry and their kids, is killed whilst attempting to be a Good Samaritan to a woman being beaten. Berry is paralysed by grief, unable to move on. Hell, she even almost forgets to invite Duchovny’s life-long best friend Benicio Del Toro to the funeral. There’s a story there. You see, Del Toro is a former lawyer and current heroin addict, though he tries to clean himself up for the funeral. Berry has always been jealous and frustrated at Duchovny’s devotion to this seemingly selfish, self-destructive man (she basically thinks he’s a leech). But knowing that her husband would want it, Berry later seeks out Del Toro in his current squalor and asks him to move into the family’s garage (The title refers to a fire in the garage. Berry asks Del Toro if he can help fix it up and move in). It’s what her husband would’ve wanted her to do, and well, she needs company too, and this troubled man is one of the few links to her husband…

Review: Survivor

Milla Jovovich is a security director for the US State Department stationed in London, who is overseeing Visa applications for potential terrorist suspects, going by new, more stringent guidelines. These applicants include Dr. Emil Balan, played by Roger Rees in one of his last roles. In staying back to finish her work, she’s late for an after work birthday celebration for her superior Robert Forster. That turns out to be a good thing, because most of her colleagues die in a terrorist bomb blast at the restaurant, the handiwork of The Watchmaker (Pierce Brosnan). She subsequently is framed for murder and forced to go on the run as The Watchmaker is on orders to rub her out. Dylan McDermott plays another of Jovovich’s superiors, who is seemingly the one person she can trust, whilst Angela Bassett plays McDermott’s boss, who doesn’t believe in Jovovich’s innocence. Frances De La Tour is one of Jovovich’s co-workers (who doesn’t attend the party).

Not-bad spy thriller from 2015 directed …

Review: Bloodsucking Bastards

Fran Kranz plays wimpy sales worker Evan, who is forced to encounter ex-girlfriend Amanda (Emma Fitzpatrick) every day at work after having embarrassed himself by his idiotic reaction to Amanda using the ‘L’ word. The job is slowly sucking the life out of him, and it only gets worse when his callous boss (Joel Murray) renegs on a promise to Evan for a promotion, instead giving it to his long-time nemesis Max (Pedro Pascal). However, things take an even more horrible turn when Evan discovers a dead body. Turns out, a vampire is on the loose in their office and Evan and his seriously slack co-workers (including Joey Kern) will need to stop playing video games or surfing for porn on the net long enough to fight for their lives against an increasing number of thirsty bloodsuckers.

Directed by Brian James O’Connell, this “Office Space” with vampires has an amiable cast, but almost zero laughs. In fact, it’s pretty desperate and dull actually. Scripted by Ryan Mitts and the idiotic-sounding…

Review: The Grandmaster

Beginning in the 1930s, this is the story of Ip Man (Tony Leung), a martial arts teacher from Foshan, China. Ip Man would go on to (be one of the people to) mentor Bruce Lee in martial arts. However, that’s many years from this film’s interest, which is more to do with the Wing Chun master testing his school’s teachings against that of other schools. Aging grandmaster from the North, Gong Yutian (Wang Qingxiang) wants to find a worthy successor and allows competitors from both North and South, with Ip Man ultimately coming out on top, despite the protestations of Gong Yutian’s daughter Gong Er (Ziyi Zhang). A strange love/hate relationship develops between Ip Man (who is married with kids) and Gong Er, but the latter’s dedication to avenge the death of her father, and the outbreak of second Sino-Japanese War keeps them separated for a while. Cung Le turns up (pretty much out of the sky) to have a memorable fight in the rain with Ip Man, playing a thug. Look out for the seemingly agele…

Review: Tombs of the Blind Dead

Set in Portugal, Virginia (Maria Elena Arpon) runs into former school friend Betty (Lone Fleming) at the pool one day. Virginia’s male companion and all-round sleaze Roger (Cesar Burner) clearly likes the look of Betty and invites her to join them for the weekend on a train voyage. Virginia, who previously had a romantic dalliance with Betty, is unenthused, especially seeing the way Roger looks at Betty, but Betty is quick to accept the offer and away they go. An increasingly irritated Virginia has had enough of the obvious flirting of Roger as well as Betty’s insistence on bringing up their romantic past, so she jumps the train while it’s still rolling. It’s an area that locals seem to speak of in hushed tones, if they speak of it at all. Basically, it’s seen as a no go zone, as Virginia is about to discover for herself. Virginia finds refuge in an old monastery that is now in ruins. At night she is set upon by zombie Knights Templar, who rise from their graves on horseback looking f…

Review: Blazing Saddles

Greedy Attorney-General Hedley Lamarr (a perfectly dastardly and pompous Harvey Korman) wants the town of Rock Ridge for himself, and so he schemes to drive the populace out by convincing the easily distracted Gov. William J. LePetomaine (Mel Brooks) into hiring a black sheriff named Bart (an iconic Cleavon Little) to oversee Rock Ridge. The townsfolk, being fearful racists, not surprisingly don’t take kindly to the new sheriff (They have another name for him I cannot type). Meanwhile, Bart strikes up a friendship with the town drunk Jim (Gene Wilder, a last minute replacement for Gig Young who had to leave because basically he really was an alcoholic), who used to be a famed gunslinger named the Waco Kid, before an embarrassing incident led to him losing his nerve and taking to drink. Eventually, the sheriff wins over the community, which forces Hedley to come up with new plans, including hiring burlesque performer burlesque performer Lily von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn) to seduce Bart. S…