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Showing posts from July 2, 2017

Review: The Shallows

Texan Blake Lively ventures to Mexico to find a beach her dead mother had always talked about. Eventually finding the beach and going out into the water, Lively soon finds herself in danger. There’s no human being within earshot and instead she has a hungry shark for company. The shark soon takes a chomp at her leg, so now she’s bleeding too. It’s not going to be a good day, especially since night is quickly and ominously approaching.

A strong enough genre film from 2016 to overcome a few minor quibbles and disappointingly silly final few minutes, this shark movie from director Jaume Collet-Serra and screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski (something called “Satanic” with Sarah Hyland) proved a lot better than expected.

I don’t find Blake Lively a remotely sympathetic presence on screen, but that ultimately doesn’t end up mattering as much as I thought it would, once the situation is set up. Sure she and the character annoyed the hell out of me within two minutes here, where she spends the ent…

Review: Missing in Action II: The Beginning

Chuck Norris is Col. Braddock, one of several American POWs in the camp of nasty Vietnamese Col. Yin (Soon-Tek Oh). Col. Yin wants the Americans and particularly Braddock to sign a confession to war crimes in exchange for his freedom. Col. Braddock, being a tough bastard and rigid OK-USA patriot says ‘fuck that’. The film follows their battle of wills, with Braddock’s fellow POWs experiencing all kind of torture from the brutal Col. Yin. Steven Williams is Nester, who takes to brown-nosing towards the ‘enemy’ like a duck to water, much to Braddock’s disgust. Prof. Toru Tanaka plays a guard, while Christopher Cary pops up as a brief source of hope to the prisoners.

You know you’re not in for a good time when the sequel was actually made first but released second because Golan/Globus realised it was the weaker film. Indeed this 1985 Lance Hool (director of the not-awful Patrick Swayze action flick “Steel Dawn”) POW flick scripted by the trio of Arthur Silver (who wrote for “Married…With…

Review: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

Bette Davis plays former child star ‘Baby’ Jane Hudson, a spoiled brat who hit it big in vaudeville in the early 1900s, and made life miserable for everyone else, especially her sister Blanche. Moving to the 1930s Blanche (Joan Crawford) has by now become the bigger star, and Jane a bit of a has-been struggling to get work. However, after an incident with a car one night, Blanche ends up paralysed and fully in the care of sister Jane. Thirty years later we pick things up again, with the relationship between the two sisters so tense and bubbling with jealousy, spite, and suspicion that it’s not long before things completely boil over into insanity. Meanwhile, Jane attempts to revive her dormant career. A debuting Victor Buono turns up as an unemployed piano player who lives with his mother, who answers an ad Jane has placed for an accompaniment to her new act. Look for Davis’ own daughter (with Gary Merrill) Barbara Merrill as a young neighbour of the aging sisters.

Although I’m much m…

Review: Purple Rain

Prince plays The Kid, a rising singer-songwriter with the band The Revolution (including Prince’s then real-life bandmates Lisa Coleman, Wendy Melvoin, and the unfortunately named Brown Mark). His arch-rival is posturing twit Morris (Morris Day), lead singer of The Time, whose music seems more in tune (no pun intended) with what the audience at the club they perform, wants. In the middle of all this comes Apollonia, an aspiring singer who becomes romantically involved with The Kid, but theirs is a rocky relationship, especially when she agrees to be managed by the slimy Morris. The Kid meanwhile, also has to contend with a volatile former musician father (Clarence Williams III) always abusing The Kid’s mother. Somewhere in all of this an actual story allegedly exists.

Given Prince’s rather premature passing in 2016, I feel kind of bad not seeing this 1984 film until just recently. Directed by Albert Magnoli (who also edited the film) and written by Magnoli and William Blinn (Creator o…

Review: Pride & Prejudice…and Zombies

Dainty 19th century England is plagued with disgusting zombie hordes. Strong-willed Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James), like her four sisters, studied martial-arts in China to defend herself against the undead. She finds herself aligned with a man she thoroughly detests, Col. Darcy (Sam Riley), though she concedes he is very adept at dispatching zombies. Jack Huston plays George Wickham, a charmer with none too much fondness for Mr. Darcy. Bella Heathcoate and Charles Dance play sister Jane and Mr. Bennet, respectively. Matt Smith plays prissy sycophant Parson Collins, while Lena Headey appears briefly as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a warrior woman of a sort.

The key audience for this high-concept 2016 flick from writer/director Burr Steers (“Igby Goes Down”, “17 Again”) would seemingly be Jane Austen fans who think the original text needed to be laced with zombies. Considering how small an audience that likely is, I’m not sure the endeavour was worthwhile. Actually based on a novel by Seth …

Review: Bone Tomahawk

Kurt Russell stars as a typical small town western sheriff who leads a small posse on a mission to track down a supernatural breed of Indian savages and rescue town doctor (Lili Simmons) and the sheriff’s deputy (Evan Jonigkeit) from god knows what fate. The rest of the posse comprises of the doctor’s injured husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson), slick Injun-killer Brooder (Matthew Fox) who enjoys killing Indians as much as he enjoys pissing Arthur of, and aging back-up deputy Chicory (a white-bearded, wheezy Richard Jenkins). The journey is arduous, especially for the injured Arthur but that’s nothing compared to what they find when they eventually happen upon enemy territory. David Arquette plays a cowardly man whom the sheriff throws in jail only to find him missing along with the doctor and deputy. Sid Haig appears briefly as Arquette’s scummy companion, whilst Sean Young (as the mayor’s wife), Jamison Newlander (as the mayor), Michael Paré (in a useless walk-on), and a fleetingly glan…

Review: Mr. Holmes

It’s the late 1940’s and 93 year-old Sherlock Holmes (Sir Ian McKellen) is living his last years in a remote house in the English countryside. After all these years of having his exploits inexactly portrayed in books by Dr. Watson, Holmes attempts to put pen to paper to correct the record before his mental faculties completely leave him. He particularly wants to set straight the account of his last case, which led to his retirement. Meanwhile, he strikes up a friendship of sorts with the young child (Milo Parker) of his dour, widowed housekeeper (Laura Linney).

Sir Ian McKellen reunites with “Gods and Monsters” director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”, “Kinsey”) for this pleasant 2015 mystery/drama based on a book by Mitch Cullin. Giving us a 90 odd year-old Sherlock Holmes, McKellen is pretty much the whole show here and doesn’t remotely disappoint. I’m not a Holmes aficionado, but McKellen’s aged interpretation of the classic literary detective reminds me of what Christopher Lee’s Holmes …

Review: Demolition

Investment banker Jake Gyllenhaal loses his whole world when his wife dies in a tragic car accident. He doesn’t take to the grieving process in the way most people would. In fact, while in front of other people he’s mostly showing a complete lack of recognition of the tragedy, he’s actually on a very destructive path. Destructive as in he’s developed an unhealthy habit of physically damaging property, sometimes not his own personal property. It starts with breaking apart small appliances. It does not end with breaking apart small appliances. His father-in-law and boss Chris Cooper is half concerned for and half embarrassed by his change in attitude. In the middle of all of this, Gyllenhaal starts up an odd relationship with single mother Naomi Watts and her wayward teen son (Judah Lewis) after writing to Watts’ vending machine company about a poor experience he had with one of their vending machines at the hospital where his wife was pronounced dead.

A slight step back for director Je…