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Showing posts from November 27, 2016

Review: The Son of Kong

Set a week after the events of the first film, promoter Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is given much grief (and legal action against him) for the calamitous, ill-advised attempt at making a star attraction out of a giant frigging ape. He decides to get the hell outta Dodge, and eventually catches up with Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher). They are soon joined by a Norwegian skipper named Helstrom (John Marston), and a young woman (Helen Mack) who has a monkey stage act. Helstrom tells Englehorn and Denham of a treasure map he has for unclaimed riches on Skull Island. So off they go, with Mack turning up as a stowaway for…reasons, I guess. Also on the island, though, is the son of Kong, the beast who Denham wronged and now has somewhat of a guilty conscience about. Lee Kohlmar appears briefly as a debt collector named Mickey.

How did essentially the same damn people get it so damn wrong? Disappointingly lame, clearly rushed sequel to 1933’s “King Kong”, released the same year, but with…

Review: Backdraft

William Baldwin is Brian McCaffrey, the wayward son of a fire-fighter who after trying out other employment, decides to follow the footsteps of his late father and veteran fire-fighter brother Stephen (Kurt Russell). Dad, of course died on the job when they were just kids. As we meet Brian as an adult, he has found himself sent to Stephen’s station. Neither brother gets along terribly well with the other, with Stephen thinking Brian’s a flake and Brian thinking his brother’s a bit of an arsehole (which he quite clearly is). Due to the inherent danger of the gig, alongside of the memory of what happened to his dad (and with older brother Stephen’s constant criticism not helping) Brian quickly finds the job a little tough on his nerves and quits. He eventually moves to a position working for a literally scarred arson investigator nicknamed ‘Shadow’ (Robert De Niro). And that’s where the plot thickens, as a recent string of fires appear to have the touch of someone intimately familiar wi…

Review: Capote

The story of flamboyantly gay (and flamboyantly flamboyant) writer Truman Capote (The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, very impressive, despite being too big) and his quest to investigate a murder spree in Kansas as the basis of (initially) a non-fiction article for the New Yorker. He ventures to Kansas, with author pal Harper Lee (Catherine Keener), slowly manages to schmooze the local police chief (Chris Cooper) and meets the killers; Richard Hickcock (Mark Pellegrino) and Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr.). Capote manipulates the men into telling their stories for what eventually becomes the true crime novel In Cold Blood, but soon develops a bond with the more articulate Perry, with whom he sees perhaps a kindred spirit who simply took another route in life to his own (Hoffman as Capote puts it better himself when stating; ‘It's as if Perry and I grew up in the same house. Except, one day, I went out the front door and he went out the back’). Bruce Greenwood plays Capote’s lover ba…

Review: Hell is a City

Stanley Baker plays a tough Manchester copper out to nab escaped crook John Crawford, who intends on robbing bookmaker Donald Pleasence, with the help of a small crew (including Joby Blanshard). Vanda Godsell is Crawford’s former squeeze, a barmaid who would very much like to be Baker’s squeeze. Billie Whitelaw plays Pleasence’s floozy of a wife, who also knows Crawford in the biblical sense.

Typically tough, gritty 1960 British cops-and-crims flick from writer-director Val Guest (“The Quatermass Xperiment”) and Hammer Studios, with particularly excellent B&W cinematography from Hammer regular Arthur Grant (“Dracula Has Risen From the Grave”, “Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb”) and square-jawed toughness from underrated lead actor Stanley Baker. It’s the type of thing the Yanks did so well in the 40s and 50s, and the Brits in the late 50s through to the 60s and 70s. This one’s certainly pretty good, even if the idea of criminals walking around with green-inked hands that they’ve someho…

Review: Knight of Cups

Hollywood screenwriter Christian Bale wanders around Hollywood and Vegas despondently, as we see fragments of his present and past circumstances. Wes Bentley and Brian Dennehy play Bale’s brother and father, Teresa Palmer plays Bale’s stripper squeeze, whilst we also see him with other girlfriends throughout his life (played by Natalie Portman, Imogen Poots, Cate Blanchett, and Frieda Pinto). Occasionally someone like Armin Mueller-Stahl, Michael Wincott, or Antonio Banderas will stop by. For reasons. Or something.

There may be two types of people in this world: Terrence Malick (“Badlands”, “The Thin Red Line”) fans, and those who would rather hurl themselves out of a window than watch one of his ‘epics’. My bedroom window is currently (and firmly) closed and I did previously like “Badlands” somewhat, but boy did I ever have a hard time getting through this 2015 piece of experimental cinema from the writer-director. It’s a giant wank-fest made for wankers who like wanky films made by …

Review: Drunken Master

Jackie Chan stars as the ne’er do well son of a martial arts teacher, who thinks his son doesn’t have the discipline necessary. So he sends him to see Beggar So (Yuen Siu-tien), to properly teach him kung-fu. Although outwardly appearing to be an old beggar (as the name would suggest), Beggar So is in fact a skilled hard taskmaster. Through Beggar So, he will learn to master the ‘Drunken Style’ of kung-fu necessary to defeat the villainous Thunder Leg (a moustachioed Hwang Jang-Lee). Dean Shek is a constant scene-stealer as the tormenting, slimy Professor Kai-Hsien.

I figured if I kept watching enough Jackie Chan movies I’d eventually come across one I really liked. So it is that this 1978 flick from director/co-fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping (who also directed another fine Jackie Chan effort, “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”) is by far the best Jackie Chan flick I’ve seen so far. It’s not only the most amusing I’ve found a Chan film to be, but it’s also the only Chan movie I’ve seen s…

Review: Slayground

Peter Coyote plays Stone, a crim involved in a plot to rob an armoured truck. Things go awry when the initial getaway driver picks up the wrong gal, and the nervy replacement getaway driver they find at the last minute (a young Ned Eisenberg) accidentally hits another car after the job, killing a young female passenger of said vehicle. The victim’s distraught, rich father (Michael Ryan) is a vengeful sort and hires a shadowy hitman (Philip Sayer) to take the crew out one by one. Obviously not wanting to be next on the kill list, Stone decides to bugger off to England, looking up his old pal Terry (Mel Smith). However, Terry’s seaside amusement park isn’t doing so well financially, and he’s in serious trouble of his own. Meanwhile, it would appear that the shadowy hitman has travelled across the pond to stalk and take Stone out. Billie Whitelaw plays Smith’s live-in lover Madge, who doesn’t like the trouble that seems to follow Stone, fearing for poor Terry. Moustachioed character acto…

Review: Creed

Michael B. Jordan is Adonis Johnson, the illegitimate son of former world heavyweight boxing champion, the late Apollo Creed. Initially raised in foster care, the troubled youngster is soon picked up by his father’s widow (Phyllicia Rashad), who selflessly raises the boy herself. The now grown-up Adonis decides to abandon his day job and turn to his late father’s career of choice, boxing. Starting out in underground fights in Mexico, Adonis (whose father died before he was born, and his birth mother not too long after) eventually moves to Philly to enter a more legitimate arena. Here he seeks out his late father’s former rival and occasional friend, Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone). He wants the man who was the first to defeat his father to be the one to train him, but Rocky has left the boxing world to run his Italian restaurant, Adrian’s. But the kid is insistent and persistent, and before long Rocky’s making like ‘ol Mickey and teaching Adonis how to eat lightning and crap thunder. Or s…

Review: Rocky V

After getting a win over robotic Russian Ivan Drago, Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone) is in rough shape, even suffering a bit of brain damage. His doctors and wife Adrian (Talia Shire) pretty much force Rocky into retirement, otherwise risking further damage to his brain. However, loudmouth promoter George Washington Duke (Richard Gant) tries to goad him into taking on his fighter Union Cane (Michael Williams). Since some dodgy accountant activity has left Rocky bankrupt (Burt Young’s Uncle Paulie is at fault, of course), he really could use the money, but nonetheless Rocky holds true to his promise to stay retired and focus on family. Enter Oklahoma good ‘ol boy Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), who hounds Rocky to get him to train him, with Rocky not feeling like the well-meaning hot-head is worth the trouble. However, the kid is persistent, and pretty soon Rocky is making like his departed mentor Mickey (Burgess Meredith, in ghostly flashbacks) training the dumb pug. Rocky is also neglecting…