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Showing posts from May 7, 2017

Review: This Film is Not Yet Rated

Completely fascinating 2006 Kirby Dick documentary about the often foolish, somewhat mysterious, and ultimately uber-powerful MPAA ratings board in the United States. It’s promoted as being for the benefit of everyone, but also as a tool for concerned movie-going parents, in reality the latter benefit often works against the former. An absolute must for film buffs, it has a lot of important points to make, particularly shocking is the part where we see a split screen of a male masturbation scene in the R-rated “American Beauty” (R-rated in the American system at least) versus a similar scene from a female perspective in an indie flick which hypocritically, received harsher treatment. The film in question (“But I’m a Cheerleader”, with Natasha Lyonne) was also a lesbian film, and gays receive harsher treatment from the MPAA, so when you’ve got a film featuring a homosexual woman pleasuring herself, you’re, um...screwed. A montage of gay vs. straight sex scenes follows, and proves reall…

Review: The Late Shift

A serio-comic look at the succession of “Tonight Show” host Johnny Carson, with affable Jay Leno (Daniel Roebuck) and David Letterman (John Michael Higgins) who has been covering NBC’s late show shift. When Leno’s pushy and frankly unstable manager Helen Kushnik (Kathy Bates) pushes her client’s case extremely heavily to NBC execs (played by the likes of Bob Balaban, Reni Santoni, and Lawrence Pressman), they decide to go with Leno. Deeply hurt, Letterman decides to defect to rival CBS, meanwhile Kushnik proves to be more trouble than she’s worth, potentially damaging Leno’s credibility in the process with her aggressive, bullying attitude towards one and all. Steve Gilborn, Ed Begley Jr., and Peter Jurasik (as Howard Stringer) are among the CBS execs, Treat Williams plays Letterman’s agent Michael Ovitz, John Getz is a poor likeness for former NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff, and Rich Little turns up briefly as Johnny Carson.

Watching this 1996 HBO flick from director Betty Thomas (“Priv…

Review: RoboCop 3

RoboCop (Robert John Burke) joins the cause of a bunch of homeless revolutionaries (CCH Pounder, Stephen Root, Daniel von Bargen, Stanley Anderson) fighting the OCP corporation’s plans to flatten local slums to make way for the new Delta City. Yep, a greedy land development plot in a “RoboCop” film. Aiding OCP is a militant force led by McDaggett (John Castle), though eventually the now Japanese-owned OCP (run in the States by Rip Torn but really owned by Mako) sends their own indestructible force (Bruce Locke) to put a stop to RoboCop and the revolutionaries. Nancy Allen briefly reprises her role as tough cop Anne Lewis, Bradley Whitford and a returning Felton Perry are OCP suits, Jill Hennessy plays the chief technician for RoboCop, Robert Do’Qui is back as the police captain, and comedian Jeff Garlin for some reason has a cameo as a cook.

The remake of “RoboCop” wasn’t the first time someone tried to take things in a tame direction. In addition to two TV series (one being animated!…

Review: Aliens

A salvage team uncovers Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in hypersleep having been gone for a whopping 57 years. Awakening, she attempts to relay her story of the events of the first film to representatives of the Weyland-Yutani corporation that employed her services in the first place. They have serious doubts about her wild story of an alien species that boarded her ship and ran amok, and aren’t happy that she blew up company property (i.e. the ship). In fact, in the years Ripley was adrift, the planet she supposedly encountered the nasty bugger has been colonised by the corporation and no problems have been reported. And then the company suddenly loses contact with the settlement. Company rep Carter Burke (Paul Reiser, who unsuccessfully tries to convinces as that he’s ‘really not that bad of a guy’) relays to Ripley that the company need her expertise in a new planned investigation, acting as an advisor on board with a bunch of gung-ho Marines (with Burke also accompanying them). O…

Review: Lincoln

The story of how American President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) fought to abolish slavery and also see an end to the Civil War. Tommy Lee Jones plays congressman and abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens, a more radical Republican than Lincoln, who is nonetheless needed to help the 13th Amendment pass. Sally Field plays Lincoln’s loving but emotionally unbalanced wife Mary Todd, who worries that their eldest son Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) might fight and die in the war. David Strathairn plays Lincoln’s faithful Secretary of State William Seward, whilst Hal Holbrook plays Republican founder Preston Blair who supports Lincoln but is wary of radicals like Stevens (Notably he was also a former slave-owner who came to support the 13th Amendment). James Spader and John Hawkes turn up as a couple of Republican lobbyists, while Jared Harris turns up briefly as Ulysses S. Grant.

Although far from his best film, this 2012 biopic benefits from the solid filmmaking of Steven Spielberg (“Jaws”,

Review: Bye Bye Love

Three divorced dads (Paul Reiser, Randy Quaid, Matthew Modine) and the varying ways they manage their own lives as well as adjusting to being a divorced parent to their kids. Paul Reiser is Donny, who frankly isn’t over his ex (Jayne Brook), and has a rebellious teenage daughter (Eliza Dushku) he’s struggling to communicate with. Matthew Modine is Dave, who is frankly an irresponsible skirt chaser who has a revolving door of girlfriends (Maria Pitillo is his latest, Kim) but he can’t help but flirt with the mothers at his son Ross Malinger’s sports games. Then there’s Vic (Randy Quaid), who is frankly pissed off. About everything. Especially the mother (Lindsay Crouse) of his kids (Amber Benson and a young Mae Whitman). He also has it in for a lousy radio shrink played by Rob Reiner. Janeane Garofalo plays Vic’s blind date, who is the exact wrong match for him. Amy Brenneman plays Dave’s ex, who lends an ear to Donny and vice versa. Ed Flanders plays an elderly fast-food employee who …

Review: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Every critic’s favourite “Elm Street” movie just about, but also one of the least financially successful. A meta-movie continuation “A Nightmare on Elm Street” saga with real-life cast and crew from the series being haunted in their dreams by visions of fictional boogeyman Freddy Krueger (Robert Englund). Meanwhile, series creator Wes Craven (as himself) is writing a new Freddy script, and original star Heather Langenkamp is having trouble with her young son Miko Hughes who is having catatonic episodes, whilst her FX man husband dies in a most nightmarish (or should that be Nightmarish?) car accident. What in the Sam hell is goin’ on here? Is a Freddy for real boogeyman, after all? Tracy Middendorf plays Langenkamp’s best friend, Fran Bennett plays an extremely concerned doctor who sees something very wrong with the influence of Langenkamp’s profession on her impressionable young son. Actor John Saxon plays himself, as does New Line Cinema head Robert Shaye, whilst his sister Lin Shay…

Review: Minority Report

The year is 2054, the place Washington where no murders have been committed in six years. This is attributed to the invention and implementation of the Pre-Crime unit, which involves three psychics known as ‘Pre-cogs’ who as their name suggests have great pre-cognitive skills in predicting when a murder is going to happen, so that the Pre-Crime cops can swoop in and arrest the future suspect before the deed is actually carried out. The system, created by Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) and scientist Dr. Stineman (Lois Smith) has so far been infallible. John Anderton (Tom Cruise) is a police officer in the Pre-Crime unit who is about to have an ‘oh shit’ moment: Whilst investigating the latest Pre-Crime he comes to realise that the culprit is set to be…himself. Knowing that this simply can’t be true, Anderton (who is still grieving for the loss of his daughter in a moment of distraction at a public pool years ago) has 36 hours before this supposed event is meant to occur and goes on the …