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Showing posts from November 6, 2016

Review: Lethal Weapon

Middle-aged family man cop Sgt. Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) has just celebrated his 50th birthday, and is not really thrilled about his advancing age. He’s even less thrilled to be paired up with a new partner, former special ops turned LAPD detective Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Riggs is burned-out, and after the recent death of his wife, pretty much suicidal. Possibly crazy, definitely on-the-edge. The two are initially like oil and water, as they investigate the murder of the daughter of Murtaugh’s old war buddy from ‘nam, Michael Hunsaker (Tom Atkins). Allegedly involved in the porn industry, the investigation soon turns towards a drug-smuggling ring headed by retired General McAllister (Mitchell Ryan) and his cold-blooded associate Mr. Joshua (Gary Freaking Busey). Darlene Love and Traci Wolfe play Murtaugh’s wife and eldest daughter, respectively, whilst Ed O’Ross plays a drug dealer, and Steve Kahan plays Riggs and Murtagh’s Captain and superior.

Time and a lot of sequels and i…

Review: 8 Million Ways to Die

More like ‘100 Ways to Suck’. LA detective Jeff Bridges’ alcoholism stemming from a bad on-the-job incident, costs him his job and his family. Now attending AA classes, he runs into call girl Alexandra Paul, who invites him to a swanky party. It turns out that the party is at the home of Randy Brooks, a pimp whom Bridges once busted. Also attending the party are drug dealer Andy Garcia and another hooker, played by Rosanna Arquette, who is Garcia’s main squeeze. When Paul ends up murdered, Bridges sees it as his duty to find out who killed her and why. Look for hulking ‘Tiny’ Lister as Brooks’ muscle-bound bodyguard, in a small role.

Based on a Lawrence Block novel (in a series that includes “A Walk Among the Tombstones”, turned into a solid Liam Neeson film fairly recently), this 1986 cop/crime flick was the last theatrically released film from director Hal Ashby (“The Last Detail”, “Coming Home”) and has a screenplay co-written by Oliver Stone (who the same year directed his masterp…

Review: Villa Rides!

Yul Brynner stars as Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa who somewhat violently fights for his peoples’ rights, whilst his chief rival Huerta (Herbert Lom, in fine scoundrel form) is plotting his downfall. Stuck in the middle are the naive president Madero (Alexander Knox), whom Villa trusts more than anyone else, and a gringo, washed-up bombardier & pilot Robert Mitchum. The latter becomes Villa’s personal bombardier, despite grumblings from his trigger-happy chief lieutenant Charles Bronson, and Mitchum’s own initial misgivings about Villa’s honour and morals. Frank Wolff plays a chief nasty Federale (who rapes a woman and executes several men pretty early on, so he’s one royal bastard right off the bat), Fernando Rey a well-meaning firing squad leader, and there are inexplicable cameos at the end by John Ireland and Mrs. Bronson, Jill Ireland, which appear to have come from another film entirely.

Uneven, but very watchable 1968 Buzz Kulik (“Riot”, “The Hunter”, “Brian’s Song”) f…

Review: The Purple Rose of Cairo

Set in 1930s New Jersey, Mia Farrow plays a depressed waitress with a loutish loser for a husband (Danny Aiello). She finds her escape at the local movie theatre, particularly fond of “The Purple Rose of Cairo”, which she has already seen several times. This latest time she goes to see it, though, something is…different. The film’s romantic adventurer character Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), seemingly talks to her! In fact, he ends up walking right out of the picture and into the real world. This causes all kinds of troubles for Hollywood, as screenings of the film throughout the country experience similar issues, not to mention that it leaves the other characters in the film (played by the likes of John Wood, Deborah Rush, Edward Herrmann, Milo O’Shea, and Van Johnson!) standing around unsure of what to do or say, since the picture has now changed. Meanwhile, Farrow also bumps into Gil Shepherd (also Daniels), the actor who portrays Baxter, who is not at all happy with the situation. Bot…

Review: Stevie

In 1995, filmmaker Steve James decides to revisit the troubled 11 year-old boy he used to be a Big Brother to back in 1985. Stevie was born out of wedlock, never knew his father, was abused by his mother and then ended up in the care of his crotchety, embittered step-grandmother. Unfortunately, she was eventually too old and frail to care for such a troublesome youngster and thus began a trip through the foster home system where he was frequently raped and abused. Somewhat guilt-ridden about having left the boy to move on with his own life and career as a filmmaker, and disturbed by reports that Stevie is not doing so good these days, James ventures to Stevie’s rural hometown of Pomona, Illinois for a reunion. The 23 year-old Stevie is indeed in bad shape. Unkempt, unshaven, tattooed and with seriously bad teeth, he is full of resentment for his mother, a teeny bit racist, and frequently in trouble with the law.

Two years later when James visits once more, Stevie’s in even more troubl…

Review: Surviving Christmas

Self-absorbed ad exec Ben Affleck is dumped by his yuppie girlfriend at Christmas. Not wanting to suffer through Christmas on his own, he returns to the house of his childhood and rents out the family that actually live there so he can have the perfect family Christmas he believes only money can buy! The guy even writes scripts for family discussion at the dinner table, hires a local theatre actor to ‘play’ grandpa, and when it appears Mom (Catherine O’Hara) and Dad (James Gandolfini- who hates the idea but wants the money Affleck offers them) aren’t getting along so well these days, even that will not prevent Affleck from having his delusional perfect Christmas. Christina Applegate is the cynical, hardened daughter who takes an instant disliking to Affleck (and you know what that means, folks…)

2004 Mike Mitchell (whose “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo” is actually a preferable film... Did I just say that out loud?) Christmas comedy starts out pretty badly, with one of the worst premises I…

Review: Black or White

Lawyer Kevin Costner loses his wife (Jennifer Ehle, in flashbacks) in a tragic car accident, after having already lost their daughter seven years ago, while the latter was giving birth to Costner’s only grandchild. Now that his wife is gone too, that makes Costner sole guardian of his biracial granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell). A barely functioning alcoholic, Costner means well but it becomes clear fairly quickly that he’s doing it tough raising Eloise on his own. Then Eloise’s mouthy paternal grandmother (Octavia Spencer) decides to fight Costner for custody of the child. She had a pretty good arrangement with Costner’s wife, but she’s much less pleased with Costner and thinks the girl would be better off in her household. Spencer’s brother Anthony Mackie just so happens to be a top lawyer, and agrees to represent her. It gets ugly, particularly when Mackie’s strategy involves using the race card. Then young Eloise’s crack-addicted, ne’er-do-well father (AndrĂ© Holland) slinks his…

Review: Falling Down

Tightly-wound, perspiring, wannabe everyman Michael Douglas (with uber-nerd glasses and the rest of Dilbert’s wardrobe) abandons his car in busy morning traffic on an insufferably hot L.A. day, and decides to head home on foot. Unfortunately, the setbacks he encounters in his quest to see his daughter, result in him boiling over. Armed with a cache of weaponry, he dispenses violent retribution upon anyone who happens to vaguely piss him off: Korean convenience store owner Michael Paul Chan, neo-Nazi gun nut Frederic Forrest (in a completely grotesque performance), gangsta thugs (whom he gets most of the weapons off), and anyone unlucky enough to be in the fast food restaurant that won’t serve him breakfast because it’s two minutes too late to serve breakfast. D-FENS (his license plate signature) is mad as hell, and he’s not gonna take it anymore.

Meanwhile, cop Robert Duvall is on his last day, much to the happiness of uber-nagging wife Tuesday Weld, but when he gets wind of what’s go…

Review: Orphan

Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard have two kids (Jimmy Bennett and deaf Aryana Engineer) but a tragic stillborn birth deprives the couple of a third, and this seems to have driven Farmiga to alcoholism while Sarsgaard (fond of a drink himself) has admitted to failings of his own of the wandering eye kind. Farmiga’s alcoholism and parental neglect saw a near fatal injury to one of the kids, resulting in Farmiga seeking counselling. Still not healed from the tragedy of a child that was not meant to be, the couple decide to adopt, settling on 9 year-old Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a Russian immigrant with an old-fashioned dress sense, an aptitude for the piano, and a startlingly mature demeanour. But Esther isn’t your average little girl, something that wimpy but hostile Bennett immediately picks up on, and soon Farmiga is alarmed too. Meanwhile, alarmingly passive Sarsgaard and gullible Engineer are sucked in to Esther’s manipulations, with Sarsgaard being your typical Doubting Thomas (wi…