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Showing posts from December 11, 2016

Review: Apache

Burt Lancaster is the blue-eyed Apache Indian warrior Massai (!), who is destined to be a loner, at war with the oppressive white man, but also not fitting in with other Indian tribes. After capture and thrown on a train with other captured apaches, Massai escapes, with determined (but not brutal) John McIntire on his tail, along with his Indian tracker Charles Bronson. Jean Peters is Massai’s squaw, daughter of duplicitous chief Paul Guilfoyle. Morris Ankrum excels briefly, as a Cherokee Massai meets on the run, who has settled rather nicely into white society and informs Massai that the Apache can do it too.

Watchable, typically muscular, but minor league Robert Aldrich (“The Dirty Dozen”, “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte”) film from 1954 offers up fine work by an admittedly miscast Lancaster (blue-eyed and constantly baring those big pearly whites, but as robust-and also deadly serious- as ever) and the always professional McIntire. A young Charles Bronson makes for a surprisingly convi…

Review: Love & Mercy

The story of Brian Wilson, chief songwriter for iconic American band, The Beach Boys. The film gives us both Wilson as a young musical genius in the 1960s (played by Paul Dano), and also in his mentally declining ‘lost’ years in the 1980s (now played by John Cusack). We see Brian’s struggle to win the approval of his critical and unfeeling father (Bill Camp), the heated internal dynamics between Brian and chiefly Mike Love (Jake Abel), his mental breakdown, and the serious manipulations by Brian’s doctor Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti, as the nuttiest therapist in the history of cinema, possibly real-life), an uber-intense control freak who seems to be doing more harm than good for Brian. He’s also Brian’s legal guardian. Yep. Brian’s car saleswoman wife Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) is the one seen to attempt to cut the umbilical cord between Brian and his doctor/wannabe music producer.

Most of this 2015 biopic from director Bill Pohlad (a notable film producer in only his second directoria…

Review: Louis Theroux: My Scientology Movie

Full disclosure: I’m far from a Louis Theroux fan. I’ve watched some of his docos on TV, especially enjoyed his ones on “The Most Hated Family in America”, but I generally find him creepy, impossibly smug, condescending, and irritatingly insincere. With this 2016 doco on The Church of Scientology he has, for me reached his nadir. 2015 gave us a really terrific documentary on Scientology with “Going Clear”, 2016 gives us Louis and this useless piece crap directed by John Dower. You see, “Going Clear” was an interesting and informative documentary, despite the seemingly secretive nature of the Church of Scientology. There’s plenty of meat to chew on, and quite a number of talking heads to offer their insight. Our chap Louis, having met resistance and restriction in his pursuit of making a documentary about Scientology, got pretty much bugger all, and decides to press on making the movie anyway. It’s idiotic, Louis and Dower should’ve cut their losses and made a different film, because w…

Review: When Time Ran Out…

Set on a resort island in the Pacific, oil-driller Paul Newman concerned that a nearby volcano (Huh? What kind of shoddy bastard would build a resort near a freakin’ volcano?) is about to erupt, but James Franciscus, the philandering son-in-law of resort owner William Holden stupidly refuses to listen. Jacqueline Bisset is Holden’s girl who is having an on-off affair with Newman, Edward Albert Jr. is a native and resort employee who is pining after Barbara Carrera, who in turn is sleeping with Franciscus, whilst Veronica Hamel, as Franciscus’ wife (who is the Boss’s daughter, no less) is unaware. Alex Karras is one of Newman’s co-workers, who is into cock-fighting, with love interest Sheila Allen (Nepotism alert!) and bartender Arnold…er…Mr. Miyagi…er…Pat Morita. Are you getting all this? Also at the resort are elderly ex-circus trapeze artists Valentina Cortese and Burgess Meredith, an alleged thief (Red Buttons) and the hard-nosed cop on his trail (Ernest Borgnine).

Dopey, unconvinc…

Review: Venus in Fur (2013)

Playwright/director Mathieu Almaric is ready to pack it in, after failing to find the right star for his adaptation of Venus in Furs, an 19th century tale of domination and submission. However, at the very last minute, vulgar and trashy Emmanuelle Seigner walks in demanding to read for the part. Almaric takes one look at her and decides she’s not only unsuitable for the part (the role requires someone initially rather ‘proper’), and probably not a very capable actress anyway. Seigner, however is insistent, and has even brought her own costume to read for the part. Almaric quickly learns to not judge a book by its cover, because Seigner indeed appears to be perfect for the part after all. Meanwhile, it also becomes obvious that Almaric is also rather similar to the other major character in the play, a man who likes to be dominated by a woman. And so it begins.

I’ll admit that this film adaptation of a play inspired by a novel from 1869 is seriously not my thing. However, even with that…

Review: Legend (2015)

The story of The Kray twins, cockney gangsters in Swinging 60s London. Enterprising Reggie Kray (Tom Hardy) is the outwardly respectable, but brutal and utterly ruthless operator, whilst Ronnie (also played by Hardy) is a troubled homosexual and frankly an unhinged psychopath, who had a stay in an insane asylum, and probably ought to have stayed there permanently. Emily Browning plays Frances, the innocent young woman whom Reggie romances, but who he also attempts to keep in the dark about his lawless pursuits. It’s her narration we hear throughout the film. David Thewlis plays a business associate of Reggie’s (whom Ronnie is deeply suspicious/paranoid of), Taron Egerton plays Ronnie’s lover (and chief thug), Paul Bettany plays a rival gangster, Colin Morgan plays Frances’ brother, Tara Fitzgerald is Frances’ unimpressed mother, whilst Chazz Palminteri plays a visiting Vegas mobster, Sam Spruell plays dumb criminal ‘Jack the Hat’ (who forever seems to cop a beating from at least one o…

Review: Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow

The clans of Eagle Claw and Snake Fist fighting styles have been at war. Simon Yuen plays the last living Grandmaster of Snake Fist Kung-Fu, and disguises himself as a lowly old beggar to avoid detection by an Eagle Claw counterpart who is tracking him down. Jackie Chan plays janitor for a martial arts school who comes across the old man. Yuen teaches Chan his style of Kung-Fu, which will come in handy when the Eagle Claw fighter (and some outside mercenaries) finally track Yuen down.

I’m not a fan of Jackie Chan as a martial arts star, as you probably know by now. He’s an acrobat and a lover of silent comedy (Buster Keaton in particular). A comedic stuntman, if you will. That’s just not the kind of guy I want to see starring in a martial arts movie (though I have a lot of respect for Buster Keaton myself). However, I’ve gotta say that this 1978 early Jackie Chan offering from debut director Yuen Woo-Ping (yes, the guy behind the martial arts scenes in “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tige…

Review: Delirious (1991)

John Candy stars as writer Jack Gable, who is pissed off with producers The Sherwoods (Jerry Orbach and Renee Taylor) for recent changes they’ve made to his soap opera behind his back. He’s especially miffed that they intend on killing off the show’s rich bitch Rachel Hedison, played by an equally bitch actress Laura Claybourne (Emma Samms) whom Jack has a crush on. When Laura breaks it off with her boyfriend, Jack sees this as his opportunity to woo her. Unfortunately, Jack suffers an unfortunate calamity that deprives him of this opportunity and has him instead waking up in the very same hospital that is a part of his show! He’s stuck in the world of the soap opera he created. It’s not just that, though, as Jack is mistaken for a mysterious and dashing tycoon and philanthropist, Jack Gates: The Wolf of Wall Street. Mariel Hemingway plays an aspiring actress, who in the world of the soap opera is Janet, a sweet girl who wants to live with ants in Africa and study them. Raymond Burr p…

Review: The Exorcism of Molly Hartley

20ish Molly Hartley (Sarah Lind) gets wild and crazy at the club on her birthday, has some ‘e’, and takes two people home with her for a threesome. The next morning she wakes up and sees her two overnight guests have been brutally murdered and the cops are banging on her door. She’s also hearing demonic voices. Needless to say, the cops have her hauled off to an insane asylum where her shrink (Gina Holden) believes she has a psychosomatic disorder of some kind and looks into the girl’s family history of mental illness for answers. A fallen priest (Devon Sawa) who is currently an inmate of the hospital, however, sees it as something very different. Molly is possessed by a demon, something Sawa knows a little bit about. You see, he had performed an exorcism on a heavily pregnant woman before, and given his current place of residence, it clearly didn’t end up well. Can Sawa summon up the nerve to battle both his nerves and the demon inside Molly to save her soul?

I missed “The Haunting o…