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Showing posts from January 1, 2017

Review: You Don’t Mess With the Zohan

Adam Sandler plays an Israeli Mossad agent (with a deliberately anachronistic 80s Europop band hairdo and surprisingly non-sucky accent) who has tired of the anti-terrorism game. I mean, what’s the use in continually tracking down arch enemy Phantom (John Turturro) when the Israeli authorities just keep setting him free? He has lost his passion for the job. Instead he longs of becoming a hairdresser (!), and so he fakes his own death at the hands of arch-enemy Phantom, goes to the US and tries to live out his dream, posing as an Australian (!!) named Scrappy Coco. The hedonistic Zohan has this thing about ‘satisfying’ his (predominantly middle-aged bordering on geriatric) clients every desire, which greatly improves the salon’s cash flow (Is Sandler a fan of the Aussie cultural icon and noted ‘pants man’ “Alvin Purple”, or something?). He also meets and falls for the cute salon owner Emmanuelle Chriqui (accent less convincing), but just as things seem to be going well for the 70s-styl…

Review: Taken 3

In the third film about ex-CIA guy Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), he finds himself on the run from cops (led by Forest Whitaker) after being framed for the murder of someone close to him. Now it’s up to Mills to evade capture, figure out who the real killer is, and bring them to justice, possibly his own ‘specially skilled’ brand. Maggie Grace and Famke Janssen reprise their roles as Kim and Lenore, while Dougray Scott steps into the role of Lenore’s spouse Stuart, previously played by Xander Berkeley. Sam Spruell plays a Russian mobster, whilst Don Harvey and Dylan Bruno play idiot cops. Leland Orser, Jon Gries, and a returning David Warshofsky are back as Mills’ CIA buddies.

Director Olivier Megaton (“Taken 2”) and screenwriters Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen (the writers of the previous two “Taken” films) correct the course of the ship somewhat after the disastrous “Taken 2” with this 2015 outing. The third, longest, and hopefully last film in the series, this one benefits from more …

Review: Haven

Bill Paxton plays a rich yank who has been caught up in some kind of money laundering stuff, and with the Feds closing in, he grabs his 18 year-old daughter Agnes Bruckner and headsfor the Cayman Islands. Meanwhile, natives Orlando Bloom (a shy, poor fisherman, nicknamed Shy because he saw his dad killed years ago and has become introspective or something) and Zoe Saldana are in love, but must hide their relationship from her proud father (Robert Wisdom) and her hot-headed brother (Anthony Mackie). The two stories intersect at a local party which Bruckner, Bloom, Saldana, and Mackie attend, and at which tragedy strikes which will change them all forever. Stephen Dillane is Paxton’s repugnant, sleazy British acquaintance.

Multi-story 2007 flick in the “Crash” (it’s from the same producers) or “Magnolia” tradition from writer-director Frank E. Flowers (apparently a Cayman Islands native, not that he seems to want to tell us a lot about the local culture) never really comes off, thanks to…

Review: Notorious

Set in Post-WWII era, Ingrid Bergman is the troubled daughter of a Nazi, who gets involved with American agent Cary Grant. Grant is tasked with working with Bergman, who in turn is to seduce and spy on Nazi Claude Rains (whom she was previously acquainted with). She even has to pretend to be in love with him. Problem is, she’s already fallen in love with Grant, and vice versa. Mme. Leopoldine Konstantin plays Rains’ domineering mother, Louis Calhern is Grant’s boss.

Popular 1946 Alfred Hitchcock (“Strangers on a Train”, “Shadow of a Doubt”, “Psycho”, “Rope”) romantic spy thriller has Bergman at the top of her game, Rains stealing his every scene, and the always terrific Calhern and unforgettable Konstantin are excellent support. Cary Grant overdoes the character’s guardedness/bitterness a tad so as to come off a bit stiff sometimes, but he undeniably has romantic chemistry with Bergman in the early and latter scenes. And even some of his curt/bitter exchanges with Bergman in the midse…

Review: The Ghost Goes West

Blustery American Eugene Pallette purchases a Scottish castle from Robert Donat, unawares that it is haunted by the current owner’s mischievous ancestor (also played by Donat). Jean Parker is Pallette’s daughter who first suggests the purchase and they have the castle shipped back to the US! Look for Elsa Lanchester as an intrigued dinner party guest.

Once popular (it was a box-office hit in the UK), but antiquated and poorly made 1936 fantasy/comedy features enthusiastic performances by the always likeable Donat and hammy Pallette, but it’s all pretty tedious. Things are made worse by the incompetent direction by Rene Clair (“It Happened Tomorrow”, “And Then There Were None”), in his English-language debut, and who uses barely any close-ups, seemingly trying his best to provide viewers with the least amount of entertainment possible.

“The Canterville Ghost” this most certainly is not. It’s not even “Scrooged”, and I wouldn’t even recommend it to Robert Donat completists. It’s just no…

Review: Sisters (2015)

When they find out that their long-suffering parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) are selling the family home, two sisters (Tina Fey and Amy Poehler) decide to throw the wildest party ever, like they’re teenagers all over again. They’re in their 40s. Maya Rudolph plays a former high school rival, Ike Barinholtz plays a nice neighbour Poehler wants to hook up with, Madison Davenport is Fey’s fed-up daughter, Bobby Moynihan plays the grown-up version of the worst class clown ever, and Greta Lee plays a Korean manicurist the sisters befriend.

No, not the Brian De Palma thriller from the 70s, but a 2015 teaming up of former “SNL” “Weekend Update” co-anchors Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who obviously have a nice chemistry together (as do Fey and Jimmy Fallon whenever they appear together). That chemistry, however, isn’t enough to make this lousy comedy scripted by “SNL” writer Paula Pell, worthwhile. The two leads are miscast in the role the other should’ve played, and when current “SNL” C…

Review: Sealed Cargo

Set during WWII, a fishing boat off the coast of Nova Scotia captained by Dana Andrews and headed for Newfoundland, comes across a Danish ship that has clearly been under fire. Andrews and his crew (which includes two newly hired Danes played by Philip Dorn and Eric Feldary who are immediately suspicious of each other) find the only person alive, the ship’s captain played by Claude Rains. Rains tells them of the tale of what befell his ship and the crew. Apparently the ship was set upon by German U-boats. However, something just isn’t right about Rains, including his barely accented English. Already having the possibility that at least one of his Danish crew members may not be who or what they say they are (i.e. They may turn out to be a Nazi spy), Andrews is deeply suspicious of the Captain. Carla Balenda plays the woman who hires Andrews in the first place to take her to her father (Onslow Stevens) in Newfoundland. Whit Bissell can be seen early on playing cards in a cameo.
Well-act…

Review: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The first “Hellboy” was an absurdist, tongue-in-cheek, visually imaginative and entertaining comic book action/fantasy film, but could director Guillermo Del Toro (“Blade II”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Pacific Rim”) keep it up in this 2008 sequel? Could he even buck the trend and improve upon the original, which certainly wasn’t perfect? What, you think I’m gonna give you the answers right off the bat? You need to read the whole thing, cheapskate! Don’t make me get the big, red, man-child demon with the overgrown fist onto you!

This outing sees our favourite big, red, cigar-chomping misfit (the perfectly-cast Ron Perlman) and his fellow government-funded freaks (members of a secret Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence) once again being called upon to save humanity from all manner of nasty beasties. In addition to the brawny (but not overly brainy) hornless demon Hellboy, there’s aquatic brain Abe Sapien (Doug Jones), and Hellboy’s sorta girlfriend Liz (Selma Blair), a pyrokinetic with…