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Showing posts from July 16, 2017

Review: First Knight

Set to be married to King Arthur of Camelot (Sean Connery), Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond) has her carriage attacked in a plot by Prince Malagant (Ben Cross), a former Knight of Arthur’s Round Table who is attempting to oust Arthur from the throne and take his place. Guinevere is rescued by a roving mercenary named Lancelot (Richard Gere). Although she is fond of Arthur, Guinevere is mostly marrying him out of loyalty and security, and there’s an immediate romantic spark between Guinevere and this rootless wanderer Lancelot. Accompanying Guinevere to Camelot, he meets Arthur who in gratitude shows him around Camelot, and eventually asks him to join the Knights of the Round Table. Meanwhile, the attraction between Lancelot and Guinevere only grows stronger which can only lead to trouble, whilst Malagant is plotting and scheming for an attack.

This Jerry Zucker (one third of the team behind the comedic classics “Flying High! [Airplane!]” and “The Naked Gun!”) flick from 1995 has some obv…

Review: Next

Nic Cage, a Vegas magician who can apparently see two minutes into the future, is recruited by hardened federal agent Julianne Moore to thwart a terrorist plot (headed by an underwhelming Thomas Kretschmann) before the nuclear bomb they’ve stolen, goes off. Jessica Biel (never looking prettier, in my view) plays the pretty young woman whom Cage keeps seeing in visions that appear to be in contradiction to the two minute rule the rest of his visions come with. He doesn’t know exactly why she is important or when she will actually walk into his life, but he knows where (a local coffee shop), and he’s absolutely infatuated with her. Peter Falk has an inexplicable cameo as a buddy of Cage’s, before disappearing from the film altogether.

Somewhat similar but ultimately inferior to “Déjà vu” (Similar to a film called “Déjà vu”? There’s irony for ‘ya!), this 2007 Lee Tamahori (“Once Were Warriors”, the unfairly maligned Bond flick “Die Another Day”) yarn from a Philip K. Dick (“Minority Repo…

Review: Dying of the Light

Grey-haired, mangled-eared CIA agent Nic Cage has long been benched to desk work, which he’s getting incredibly fed up with. He’s also just been diagnosed with a form of dementia that sees him unable to control his emotional outbursts, something he’d like to keep a secret for as long as possible. However, when he hears an old terrorist foe from 20 years ago is no longer thought to be dead, Cage and younger partner Anton Yelchin defy orders for Cage to retire and instead decide to track the elusive terrorist down to settle scores once and for all.

Apparently producers took this 2014 CIA thriller away from writer-director Paul Schrader (“Blue Collar”, “Hardcore”, screenwriter of “Taxi Driver”) and butchered it in post-production. Stars Nicolas Cage and the late Anton Yelchin appear to have stood in solidarity with Schrader on this as well. However, on the evidence of what we do see on screen, I’m not so sure there would’ve been any way to salvage this mess. This is mainly because the ch…

Review: The Reader

Set in Germany and beginning in the 1950s with David Kross as a teenager who has a brief affair with a lonely, middle-aged woman (Kate Winslet), whom he reads to. Years later he encounters her again on a field trip to a courtroom, where she is on trial for a most unspeakable crime, and he might have crucial evidence to help her. Ralph Fiennes plays the adult Kross in modern day scenes where his past has poorly affected his relationship with his daughter. Lena Olin plays dual roles as a mother and daughter affected by the Holocaust, and Bruno Ganz plays Kross’ law professor.

Warning: This is a pretty in-depth analysis of the film, and its nature is such, that important details must be divulged in order to adequately assess the film’s strengths and weaknesses (of which there are more of the latter than former). If you have yet to see the film, you know the drill. All others, read on.

Aside from a miscast Kross as a supposedly desirable teen, there’s nothing especially wrong with this ge…

Review: Pretty in Pink

Molly Ringwald plays Andie, a poor-ish high school senior being raised by her ne’er-do-well single father (Harry Dean Stanton). Andie’s best friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) would clearly love to get out of the Friend Zone, but Andie gets swooped up by rich kid Blaine (Andrew McCarthy). Blaine’s snooty friends don’t approve, but he doesn’t care…or so he says. James Spader (too old for high school, but who the hell cares?) plays slimy rich prick Steff, an acquaintance of Blaine’s who is also fond of making crude advances towards Andie on the sly. Annie Potts plays Andie’s unofficial female role model, her boss/mentor Iona.

I like this 1986 Howard Deutch-directed, John Hughes-scripted movie just fine, but being male I probably identify more with “Some Kind of Wonderful”, which is the same concept from the same director-writer team, but with a male protagonist instead of female. Truth be told I’m more partial to Lea Thompson, Mary Stuart Masterson and Eric Stoltz, than I am Andrew McCarthy, Jon…

Review: Midnight Special

Michael Shannon enlists childhood friend Joel Edgerton in kidnapping Shannon’s 8 year-old son Jaeden Lieberher from a Texan cult compound run by Sam Shepard. When the FBI turn up at the compound to ask Shepard some questions, it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary boy. The cult are of the belief that the boy is somewhat of a prophet who spouts random utterances that the cult have taken to forming a special meaning behind. Also helping out the Feds is NSA analyst Adam Driver, who thinks that the boy is in possession of classified government information. Kirsten Dunst turns up as a woman with a personal connection to Shannon and the boy, David Jensen is a former cult member, and Bill Camp (in an interesting casting choice) plays Shepard’s chief fixer/goon.

All throughout this 2016 genre flick from Jeff Nichols I had a slight feeling of if not déjà vu, then certainly a level of comfortable familiarity. Have you ever heard John Carpenter talk about the reception his remake of “The T…

Review: The Dark Knight

Continuing the “Batman” saga as the title masked crime-fighter AKA Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is getting a handle on Gotham City’s criminal underworld with help from Commissioner Gordon (a glum Gary Oldman) and crusading DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), who is dating Bruce Wayne’s ex, Rachel Dawes (the immensely likeable Maggie Gyllenhaal). Throwing a great big bloody spanner in the works is a demented young bank robber in a bad grease paint makeup job called The Joker (a lip-smacking, tongue-lashing Heath Ledger), whose stock and trade appears to be chaos, and sick little mind games. Eric Roberts plays a Mafioso, Tiny Lister is a prisoner, Cillian Murphy turns up briefly again as The Scarecrow (I actually thought it was an imposter, the scene was so badly handled), and character actor Ron Dean plays a cop (a profession he was seemingly already too old for back in the early 80s when he would play one in Chuck Norris films). Meanwhile, Wayne Enterprises gadget man Lucius Fox (Morgan F…