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Showing posts from April 30, 2017

Review: Vice

Set in the future where tech bigwig Julian (allegedly ‘played’ by Bruce Willis) owns a resort of-sorts called Vice, where humans can indulge in their basest, sickest urges on special humanoid androids. The androids have their memories wiped periodically, but Kelly (Ambyr Childers) seems to become self-aware after a violent incident triggers memories. This causes her to go on the run, before coming into contact with Evan (Bryan Greenberg) a morose widow with a past history with androids like Kelly. Meanwhile, a greasy-haired cop (played by Thomas Jane) has some serious issues with Vice, thinking that allowing people to indulge in their sickest fantasies on non-humans will only lead to other urges in ‘reality’. Don Patrick Harvey plays Jane’s boss, whilst Jonathon Schaech plays Julian’s chief henchman.

I’m not sure how we ended up with Thomas Jane and Bruce Willis taking supporting roles in a C-grade rip off of the 70s sci-fi sequel “Futureworld”, but here we are with this 2015 direct-t…

Review: Shaft

NY private dick John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) finds himself hired by local black mobster Bumpy Jonas (Moses Gunn, playing a character loosely based on the real-life Bumpy Johnson) to find his missing daughter. Meanwhile, police lieutenant Vic Androzzi (Charles Cioffi) is trying to pump Shaft for information as to why he’s being called upon by gangsters. Drew Bundini Brown plays Bumpy’s not-so bright bodyguard Willy, who might be a legit threat to Shaft if he only had (half) a brain.

Probably less of an outright blaxploitation film and more of a detective story that helped (along with Melvin Van Peebles’ “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”) usher in the blaxploitation movement, this 1971 Gordon Parks Sr. (who has a cameo in both this and the remake) film is must-see no matter how you categorise it.

It contains one of cinema’s most memorable openings ever. Visually, aurally, and culturally it sets the scene (and title character) perfectly. John Shaft (played by Richard Roundtree) doesn…

Review: Postcards From the Edge

Meryl Streep plays actress Suzanne Vale, who after a cocaine binge and one-night stand with handsome Dennis Quaid, is unresponsive the following morning. Doctor Richard Dreyfuss has Suzanne’s stomach pumped, and when she wakes up she’s in rehab where she’s visited by her showbiz veteran mother Doris (played by the inimitable Shirley MacLaine). The bulk of the film is Vale having to start from pretty much the bottom all over again, career-wise, whilst trying to remain sober and deal with being forced to move in with her mother for the duration of Vale’s latest movie shoot. Given that Doris throws Suzanne a post-rehab party that she actually pushes Suzanne to perform a song at, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Gene Hackman plays a tough but potentially career-saving director, CCH Pounder works at the rehab clinic, Mary Wickes and Conrad Bain are Suzanne’s grandparents, Simon Callow and Rob Reiner play (respectively) a director and producer, and Oliver Platt turns up as a somewhat sympathe…

Review: A Midnight Clear

A WWII film centred on a platoon of supposed high IQ soldiers, primarily one played by Ethan Hawke (looking quite young, actually, though he’d been acting a long time by this point), who narrates the film. He and his dwindling number of comrades are somewhere in the snowy French countryside when they exhibit some very strange behaviour from the enemy. It appears a small band of German soldiers are trying to communicate with them through peaceful means. They even sing Christmas carols. Hawke and his men are at a loss to what this all means. Interestingly enough, their token interpreter is the Jewish Shutzer (Ayre Gross), who finds out that this group of Germans is tired and are looking for a way out, suggesting a mock skirmish and surrender, so that they can be captured, but making it seem like they at least put up a fight. Are they for real? Gary Sinise plays ‘Mother’, a fastidious soldier who seems to be cracking up, Frank Whaley is the religious ‘Father’ (he’s a seminary dropout), w…

Review: The Hateful Eight

Set some time after the Civil War, brutish bounty hunter John ‘The Hangman’ Ruth (Kurt Russell) reluctantly shares a stagecoach with rival bounty hunter Maj. Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson). Ruth is travelling with his latest bounty, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Soon they and their stagecoach driver (James Parks) are joined by dopey Southerner Mannix (Walton Goggins) who claims he’s the new sheriff. The coach eventually has to stop at a place called Minnie's Haberdashery, due to a huge blizzard. Inside our travellers find a Mexican (temporary) caretaker named Senor Bob (Demian Bichir), grouchy old racist Confederate Gen. Smithers (Bruce Dern), a British hangman named Mobray (Tim Roth), and a laconic, brooding cattle hand named Joe Gage (Michael Madsen) who just wants to be left alone. Death, paranoia, confrontation, and lots of talk ensues, the details of which are best left discovered by the viewer.

I wouldn’t say I’m quite a Quentin Tarantino fan, but lately I’ve fo…

Review: Andron

Ten people (Leo Howard, Michelle Ryan and Skin among them) wake up in a place they don’t know, and they can’t even remember who they are themselves, let alone recognise each other. The year is 2154, the world is run by several corporations and the masses are largely enslaved. The populace are viewers of a televised bloodsport event called ‘The Redemption Games’, and these ten people who have just woken up, are soon to realise that they are unwitting participants in this bloodsport. They must fight for survival in an unfamiliar underground maze-like structure, whilst outside the viewers are betting on who will survive. Overseeing the games is puppet master Adam (Alec Baldwin), working und the Chancellor (Danny Glover), whoisn’t terribly pleased with Adam when things don’t seem to be going quite according to plan.

Danny Glover seemed to up and lose his mind several years back, so his presence in this cheapo 2016 sci-fi flick from writer-director Francesco Cinquemani (whose background is…

Review: A Walk in the Woods

Travel writer Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) isn’t handling retirement terribly well. Looking for something challenging, he decides upon hiking the Appalachian Trail, though his loving wife (Emma Thompson) is rather fearful that it might be too much for him and gently tries to dissuade him. He’s adamant, though, and eventually finds a hiking companion to help better sell the idea to his wife. This companion would be completely out-of-shape old friend Katz (Nick Nolte), who he hasn’t seen or heard from in years, and who may be kind of an alcoholic. Needless to say, Bryson’s wife’s fears aren’t entirely assuaged. A perfectly cast Nick Offerman plays a hiking goods store employee, Kristen Schaal plays a friendly but irritating hiker, and Mary Steenburgen plays a sweet innkeeper who takes to Redford, a character that just doesn’t seem necessary here.

Initially promising and surprisingly amusing, but ultimately extremely minor 2015 film from director Ken Kwapis (That cinematic masterpiece ad…

Review: Point Break (2015)

Years after a buddy (Max Thieriot) fell victim to a fatal motocross accident, causing him to lose his nerve and retire, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) has joined the FBI. Utah has a wild theory on a series of robberies across several countries, believing that the robbers are actually spiritually-inclined thrill-seekers who are attempting to a hippy-dippy extreme sports ‘spiritual quest’ labelled the Ozaki 8. Basically, they’re not just thieves, they’re eco-terrorists. Utah attempts to infiltrate the group, led by Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez), and before long he is accepted into the brotherhood of Robin Hood-esque adrenaline junkies and their philosophy. He also takes a liking to hanger-on Samsara (Teresa Palmer). Meanwhile, his boss (Delroy Lindo) and FBI handler Pappas (Ray Winstone) are concerned that he’s getting a little too close to his mark. Original “Point Break” cast members Bojesse Christopher and James LeGros have brief cameos as FBI bigwigs.

Directed by Ericson Core (a cinematographer …