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Showing posts from 2017

Review: Daylight

A variety of commuters fall afoul of the dreaded Murphy and his cruel law when a series of calamities (an explosion for instance) see a tunnel blocked at both ends, leaving the survivors trapped…and pretty much underwater. Fortuitously, one of the commuters to survive is an ex-Emergency Services guy, Kit Latura (Sly Stallone). Sure, he left the job after a botched rescue resulting in him now driving a cab…but when you’re in dire straits, any help is surely welcome. Not that Latura’s former colleague (Dan Hedaya) wants him to help out mind you. Then there’s the dicey situation of a prison bus inside the tunnel, leaving citizens potentially at the mercy of not only disaster but potential prey for several cons played by the likes of Renoly Santiago and Sage Stallone. Amy Brenneman (a struggling playwright), Jay O. Sanders (a jerky dad), Danielle Harris (jerky dad’s scared daughter), Claire Bloom (token elderly woman with her husband…and dog), and Viggo Mortensen (a cocky and rich extreme…

Review: The Aviator

Biopic of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), going from the 20s to the early 40s, charting his ambitious early exploits in his inherited aviation business and his visions to enter the film industry, and eventually his long battles with mental illness. In between we also see his relationships with movie stars Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett), Faith Domergue (Kelli Garner) and Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale). Alan Alda plays a Senator in league with Howard’s aviation rival Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin). Willem Dafoe plays a member of the press, and Jude Law plays randy movie star Errol Flynn.


The maturation of Leonardo DiCaprio can really be seen in this enjoyable, great-looking 2004 Martin Scorsese (“Raging Bull”, “Goodfellas”, “Hugo”) biopic of famed aviation tycoon and occasional filmmaker Howard Hughes. Hell, once he dons the moustache in the later portion of the film he even looks quite like the man, and one has no problems accepting him as the younger, ambitious, and energetic Hughes…

Review: Firewalker

Adventurers Chuck Norris and Lou Gossett Jr. are hired by Melody Anderson to help her track down missing Aztec gold. Bad people also want it, including the granite-like Indian warrior/supernatural entity El Coyote (Sonny Landham). Will Sampson plays a benevolent but possibly commercially-driven Native American shaman, John Rhys-Davies plays a roguish acquaintance of Norris’ named Corky, Ian Abercrombie is a displaced cockney, and the dated Fu Manchu stylings of Richard Lee-Sung stink up a few scenes as The General.


Equal parts shit Indiana Jones rip-off and failed buddy movie, this 1986 Cannon offering from director J. Lee Thompson (whose career went from “Cape Fear” to…working for Cannon) tried and failed to give us something different from Chuck Norris. “Romancing the Stone” it ain’t, this adventure misfire is in closer keeping with the Cannon-released “Allan Quatermain” duds. From the cheap and stereotypical music score by Gary Chang (“Death Warrant”, “Under Siege”, “Double Team”) …

Review: The Spy Who Loved Me

When American, British, and Russian nuclear subs go walkabout, British Secret Service head M (Bernard Lee) and KGB’s Gen. Gogol (Walter Gotell) send their top agents 007 James Bond (Roger Moore) and Agent XXX Maj. Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) to investigate. Eventually they are forced into a reluctant partnership when madman Sigmund Stromberg (Curd Jurgens) who has taken the subs, plans on using the missiles as part of a dastardly plan that proves if nothing else that Stromberg is as mad as a cut snake. Caroline Munro is Stromberg’s pilot Naomi, George Baker plays a British submarine captain, Edward de Souza plays Bond ally Sheik Hosein, Vernon Dobtcheff plays a corrupt club owner, Richard Kiel and Milton Reid (who previously turned up in a similar role in “Dr. No”) play Stromberg’s henchmen Jaws and Sandor, Valerie Leon has the first of her two Bond film appearances here playing a hotel receptionist, and future ‘M’ Robert Brown plays Adm. Hargreaves (who may or may not also be the ‘M’…

Review: Force of Execution

Steven Seagal plays a former black ops guy turned benevolent crime boss named Mr. Alexander. Yep. When a rival gangster (Ving Rhames) screws over Mr. Alexander’s right-hand man Roman (Bren Foster) causing him to botch a kill job, Mr. Alexander is forced to retire him. Thankfully, being benevolent, when I say retire it doesn’t mean taken out the back and killed. It means cast out and having both hands broken. Now a drunk, he is thoroughly miserable and mostly hanging outside a diner run by Jenny Gabrielle, who just so happens to be an acquaintance of his former boss Mr. Alexander and watches out for him a bit. So does Mr. Alexander, who needs his help once again after Rhames starts to get a bit too big for his britches and wanting to rub Seagal out. Danny Trejo plays the diner’s cook, who also dabbles in a bit of witch doctoring, which somehow manages to help heal Roman’s hands so he can go back into action.


Although his post-cinematic release career has been far below in quality than …

Review: Telefon

Russian agents who were hypnotised, programmed to kill and then planted as US citizens who have laid dormant for years (the plan was apparently scrapped, but the agents never deprogrammed) are suddenly awakened/activated by the reading of a certain Robert Frost passage by nutty Stalinist Donald Pleasence who gets them to carry out kamikaze sabotage missions across the US. Charles Bronson is the dour Russian agent sent to stop all the mayhem, with Lee Remick as his contact in the States. Tyne Daly is a plucky computer expert working for the American Feds, Patrick Magee is a Soviet intelligence chief.


Drab-looking but enjoyable little espionage thriller from 1977 directed by Don Siegel (“Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Hell is For Heroes”, “Dirty Harry”) boasts fine performances from well-cast Bronson and Pleasence, a sturdy cameo by Magee, and lively work by Daly in an ultimately superfluous role. It all sounds very silly, but Siegel and Bronson handle it all with grim-faced seriousn…

Review: You Only Live Twice

SPECTRE and its chief megalomaniac Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) have hijacked American and Soviet space shuttles in order to pit the two superpowers against one another. James Bond (Sean Connery) ventures to Japan to meet with Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba) and attempt to find out the location of Blofeld’s evil lair. Akiko Wakabayashi plays Aki, who will aide Bond in his investigations, whilst Karin Dor is SPECTRE agent Helga Brandt.


“Dr. No” is my overall favourite Bond. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” has the best screenplay of any Bond film. The most fun Bond film? This 1967 Lewis Gilbert (“Alfie”, “Damn the Defiant”, “The Spy Who Loved Me”, the subpar “Moonraker”) film. An obvious inspiration for the “Austin Powers” films, this is for the most part the most ‘typically’ Bondian film to my mind (along with the lesser- yet more popular- “Goldfinger”), and although far from perfect is chock-full of entertainment. I don’t normally love gadget-heavy Bond films, and I generall…

Review: The Neon Demon

Sweet teenager Elle Fanning has moved to LA in hopes of making it as a fashion model. Her quick ascendance rubs some of the other beauty-obsessed young models (particularly Bella Heathcoate and Abby Lee) the wrong way, but make-up artist Jena Malone takes her under her wing. Keanu Reeves plays a surly motel manager, Desmond Harrington is a photographer, Alessandro Nivola a fashion designer, and Christina Hendricks is the head of the modelling agency hiring Fanning.


Although nowhere near as bad as I had heard, this 2016 flick is definitely the weakest film I’ve seen from writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (“Valhalla Rising” and “Drive” being his best). It really doesn’t go anywhere for the first hour and although it sets up quite the sleazy Jess Franco-esque look, sound, and mood it ultimately completely cops out on the sex. Given the age of the protagonist I understand why, but if you’re going to set the film up a certain way you can’t really end up wimping out, either. There were w…

Review: Melinda and Melinda

A group are having dinner and discussing whether life is a tragedy or comedy. The film follows the interpretation of two of the diners of differing sensibilities (Wallace Shawn and Larry Pine) using a similar set of circumstances. Both stories centre on a woman named Melinda (Radha Mitchell) crashing a dinner party. The comedic one (though both have elements of comedy and drama) has Melinda living downstairs from pretentious filmmaker Amanda Peet and her domesticated former actor husband Will Ferrell, who quickly becomes smitten with Melinda. In the ‘tragic’ story, Melinda is the old friend of Chloe Sevigny, and an unstable young woman who recently lost custody of her kids. Sevigny, meanwhile is unhappily married to the decidedly unfaithful Jonny Lee Miller. Chiwetel Ejiofor appears in the tragic version as a Harlem musician Melinda is interested in, whereas Josh Brolin plays the potential suitor in the comedy version. Brooke Smith plays a mutual friend of the women in the tragic vers…

Review: Session 9

A group of asbestos cleaners are given an assignment to clean up an abandoned former psychiatric institution. The leader of the group Peter Mullan tells his employer that they can be in and out in a week, something co-worker David Caruso feels is way too much for them to handle. It’s not long before the guys all start to crumble under stress, with Mullan plagued with guilt over his strained marriage, Stephen Gevedon becoming obsessed with audio tapes of the psychiatric sessions that explain the film’s title, etc. Meanwhile, resident a-hole of the bunch Josh Lucas (who has shacked up with Caruso’s ex and likes to taunt him over it) appears, disappears, and then re-appears…but isn’t quite the same. A fantastic mullet-sporting Brendan Sexton III plays the youngest of the cleaners who is also afraid of the dark, whilst Paul Guilfoyle is the guy who hires them for the gig.


This 2001 genre flick from director Brad Anderson (the romance “Next Stop Wonderland”, the Halle Berry crime/thriller

Review: City by the Sea

Homicide cop Robert De Niro, whose father was a convicted child killer, investigates the death of a low-level drug dealer, revisiting his home turf of Long Beach in the process. But before he has time to wax nostalgic, De Niro realises he has greater problems; His estranged, drug-addicted son (James Franco) is the main suspect! Now De Niro finds himself weighing his responsibilities of upholding the law with the responsibilities of being a father, the latter is something he has so far been terrible at. Patti LuPone is De Niro’s embittered ex who doesn’t want his help, Frances McDormand is his patient new love interest, George Dzundza is his buddy on the force, and Eliza Dushku is Franco’s junkie girlfriend (trying to go straight, of course) and mother of his child.


Well-intentioned, but entirely flat and strangely uninvolving 2002 Michael Caton-Jones (the overrated “Rob Roy”, and the much better “This Boy’s Life”) film scores somewhat, whenever it focuses on Franco (in a thoroughly co…

Review: Doctor Strange

Cocky but brilliant neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange gets into an horrific car accident that shatters the bones in his much-needed hands. After trying just about everything in the book, a tip-off from a man he once turned away (Benjamin Bratt) leads Strange to Kamar-Taj in Nepal, a temple presided over by The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton). It is here that Strange will (after freeing himself of ego) learn to expand his mind, twist reality, master the various dimensional planes, learn to control time, and conjure magic energy. Oh, and dabble in martial-arts on occasion. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays The Ancient One’s disciple Karl Mordo, Benedict Wong plays Wong who is basically the no-nonsense temple librarian, Rachel McAdams is Strange’s girlfriend and fellow surgeon, and Mads Mikkelson plays Kaecilius, who will be your villain today.


Perhaps a bit plagiaristic at times, this 2016 Marvel comics adaptation from director Scott Derrickson (whose films range from the fun “Sinister” and “Poltergeis…

Review: Unforgiven

A couple of thugs cut up the face of a whore (Anna Levine), and the rest of the working gals (led by Frances Fisher) send for someone to take out the two men responsible for a financial reward. Eager to take up the challenge but too inexperienced to do it on his own, ‘The Schofield Kid’ (Jaimz Woolvett) enlists the partnership of long-domesticated gunslinger William Munny (Clint Eastwood). Munny’s wife made him quit the killing business and although she has since passed on, they have two young kids. Needing the cash, Munny reluctantly picks up his old trade, rather unconvincingly leaves the kids on their own and rides off with ‘The Kid’. They soon pick up a third man, Munny’s old gun-slinging pal Ned (Morgan Freeman), though ‘The Kid’ refuses to cut the reward into thirds, so Munny agrees to split his half with Ned. They’re on their way to Big Whiskey, a town ruled over by intimidating sheriff Little Bill (Gene Hackman), who isn’t corrupt, but will brutally fight to keep trouble out o…

Review: Thunderball

James Bond (Sean Connery) squares off against the criminal organisation SPECTRE after one of their agents hijacks a British bomber and acquires a couple of nukes as well with a big arse ransom demand or else they’ll bomb a city in both the UK and US. Bond’s vacation…er…investigation leads to the Bahamas and eye-patch sporting criminal bigwig Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi). Largo sends femme fatale assassin Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) to take care of 007. Bond, for his part takes to getting involved with Largo’s mistress Domino (Claudine Auger). Molly Peters (who died early in 2017) plays a nurse who attempts to resist Bond’s chauvinistic charms, Martine Beswicke plays Bond’s assistant Paula, and Guy Doleman plays SPECTRE employee Count Lippe.


Proof that not all things Connery and Bond are worthwhile, this 1965 Terence Young (“Dr. No”, “From Russia With Love”) 007 spy-adventure is a middling Bond film only slightly above the flabby and fatuous “Diamonds are Forever” and the awkward outli…