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Showing posts from December 18, 2016

Review: Rosewood

Based on true events in Florida in the 1920s, where in the town of Sumner, a white woman (Catherine Kellner) is beaten up by the man (Robert Patrick) she’s been having an affair with. To avoid catching hell for her indiscretion she tells her husband (Loren Dean) that she was beaten (but not raped) by an unknown black man. Her African-American maid (Esther Rolle of TV’s “Good Times”) witnesses the event but remains silent, choosing to stay out of others’ affairs, probably out of fear. Near Sumner is the small town of the film’s title, a place mostly populated by African-Americans. The locals of Sumner are mostly ignorant rednecks who resent the relative prosperity of the blacks in Rosewood, and this lie just gives nasty crackers like Bruce McGill’s bushy-bearded dad the ammunition to start a lynch mob. Word of a chain-gang escapee on the loose doesn’t help matters, either. This in turn would lead to a massacre of anywhere between 70 and 250 African-Americans, depending on which source …

Review: Man on Fire (2004)

Burnt-out, alcoholic ex-Special Ops guy Frank Creasy (Denzel Washington) gets thrown a bone by his old buddy Rayburn (Christopher Walken). The assignment is to act as a driver/bodyguard for 9 year-old Pita (the very un-Pita Dakota Fanning). You see, this is Mexico where criminal organisations kidnap rich kids, who more often than not end up dead. Daughter of a local businessman (Marc Anthony) and his American wife (Radha Mitchell), Pita is cute as a button, talkative, inquisitive and everything Creasy didn’t want in a client. He just wants to do his job with the least amount of interaction possible. Naturally, the kid starts to get under Creasy’s skin and eventually a bond is formed. When the inevitable happens, it enrages Creasy and that’s when he sets about utilising his special set of skills and some scumbags are about to get messed up. Mickey Rourke plays Anthony’s attorney, Rachel Ticotin plays a passionate local journalist, Giancarlo Giannini is the cop she’s banging.

No one’s g…

Review: Undercurrent

Katharine Hepburn plays an intelligent, but dowdy and somewhat insecure unmarried daughter of professor Edmund Gwenn. It’s not long before she meets wealthy industrialist Robert Taylor, though and after a seemingly short romance they are married. Here she must deal with her own insecurities in mixing with high society-types with their judging looks, but more importantly she finds herself having to deal with her husband’s mood swings and refusal to talk about his past, especially as it pertains to his brother (Robert Mitchum). Things get exceedingly heated when the couple visit Taylor’s family home, and the past just refuses to stay in its place.

One poorly miscast actor and another not given much to work with are just two of the issues with this thoroughly underwhelming 1946 star pic from director Vincente Minnelli (“The Bad and the Beautiful”, “Lust for Life”). I’m far from a Robert Taylor fan, but he shows here and in the later “The Last Hunt” that the darker the role, the better fi…

Review: Sicario

Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent with experience in tactical methods, who is requested to help out a special-op task force headed by supposed Defence Department contractor Josh Brolin that is trying to help win the battle against Mexican drug cartels on the US/Mexican border. Also helping out in an advisory capacity is the mysterious and clearly bad arse Alejandro (Benicio Del Toro). It’s not long before the very by-the-book Blunt notices that her new associates are perfectly happy to throw the book out when dealing with extremely dangerous criminals. Victor Garber plays Blunt’s boss, whilst Jon Bernthal plays a cop who picks Blunt up in a bar.

Director Denis Villeneuve (“Prisoners”) gives us a pretty dark and brutal 2015 war-on-drugs movie, scripted by actor Taylor Sheridan. There’s some pretty brutal images here and there (the opening discovery in particular is hard to forget), and two rather ruthless characterisations by Josh Brolin and a particularly impressive Benicio Del Toro. Thi…

Review: Big Sky

Bella Thorne plays the seriously agoraphobic daughter of slightly trashy but loving mother Kyra Sedgwick. She and her mother are about to head off to a treatment facility, in a van with a special cage (!) for Thorne in the boot, to help with her fears of open spaces. There’s a couple of other patients being transported as well, including klepto Jodi Lynn Thomas. Unfortunately, on the way there, the van is set-upon by two masked men (half-brothers, played by Frank Grillo and Aaron Tveit) who kill pretty much all of the passengers, and leaving Sedgwick severely wounded. The crims were unaware of Thorne’s location, and eventually she emerges to witness the aftermath, and see that her mother is likely very close to dying unless she can go and get help. Being afraid of wide open spaces and being that they’re in the middle of the American desert, this is a bit of a pickle for Thorne to be put in.

The kind of film that initially intrigues you because you’re not sure where it’s going, but you…

Review: Saratoga Trunk

Ingrid Bergman plays a headstrong (read: Selfish) Creole woman in 1870s New Orleans after time away in Paris. Born to a wealthy father, but an illegitimate child, she comes back to New Orleans with her Haitian maid (Flora Robson!) and dwarf manservant (Jerry Austin) in tow, hoping to escape the scandalous nature of her conception. She hooks up with polite Texan gambler Gary Cooper, who is perfectly aware of what she is (a gold-digger) and what she’s attempting to do (catch a rich fella). And still falls for her anyway, as they both end up in Saratoga Springs. There Bergman masquerades as a rich French woman, whilst cluey seasonal resident Florence Bates pegs her for the imposter she is straight away. Cooper, meanwhile finds himself some competition in dullard railroad company heir John Warburton, whom he’s doing a business dealing with, despite obvious mutual disrespect. Ethel Griffies plays Warburton’s snooty mother who has zero time for Bergman whatsoever.

Some good actors are put t…

Review: Our Idiot Brother

Paul Rudd is a laidback, hippie-ish guy who naively tries to sell marijuana to a uniformed police officer. It’s not that he’s really stupid, it’s just that he likes to believe in the good in people, which means he gets a genuine surprise when the initially reassuring police officer turns around and arrests him anyway, throwing him in jail. OK, so clearly he’s not a genius, but is it really his fault that everyone else fails to be as nice and genuine as him? Released from jail, he finds that his pacifist girlfriend (Kathryn Hahn) has moved on with another dope (T.J. Miller) and wants custody of his dog (named Willie Nelson, of course). So now with no home, no girl, and no dog, Rudd visits his three sisters to find a place to stay, as he doesn’t want to be a burden to their mother (Shirley Knight) and live at home. Unfortunately, as well-meaning as he may be, Rudd’s lack of social awareness and inability to lie or keep a secret, drive his sisters nuts because he exposes their flaws, foi…