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Showing posts from August 13, 2017

Review: 13 Minutes

Christian Friedel stars as Georg Elser, a musician and womaniser who plans to blow up Adolf Hitler. The title refers to the minutes by which his attempted bombing missed the Nazi leader and dictator. Instead, he killed several unintended people. The film begins with his arrest and interrogation/torture by the Gestapo and SS, who refuse to believe that Elser could’ve acted alone in his failed attempt. The bulk of the film flashes back to tell Elser’s story in the lead-up to his assassination attempt on Hitler.

Reading the plot synopsis of this 2015 Oliver Hirschbiegel film beforehand, I was really interested, because I generally like films about Nazi Germany and/or WWII. I thought it might be another tense thriller like “Valkyrie”, as the subject matter was very similar, or the even better “Downfall”, probably the best film of the director’s that I’ve seen. Instead, it’s a fairly flat real-life drama that focuses on pretty much the least interesting elements of its story. Scripted by F…

Review: Death Proof

Beginning in Austin, Texas, a bunch of sassy chicks (Vanessa Ferlito and Sydney Poitier among them) are at a bar chatting and drinking, when they are set upon by scarred former stuntman Kurt Russell, who has dangerous intentions and a really, really, indestructible car. Quentin Tarantino turns up in a camera-hogging cameo as an ultra-cool bar owner. Rose McGowan is better than usual, in a cameo as another sassy blonde-haired barfly.

After this scenario, we are given a new set of girls several months after the events previous, all of the girls are working on a new film (including stunt woman Zoe Bell, and straight-laced actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead in addition to the always cool Rosario Dawson as a make-up artist). They are on their way to buying a certain Dodge Challenger in order to re-enact a pivotal scene from the cult chase pic “Vanishing Point” when guess who shows up...but these girls ain’t the kind you want to mess with, believe me. Michael Parks and son play the lawmen they…

Review: Roxanne

Modernised version of “Cyrano de Bergerac” has Steve Martin cast as a small town fire chief who has the hots for a recently arrived astronomer of the film’s title (played by Daryl Hannah). Martin was gifted/cursed with an abnormally large nose that he’s extremely self-conscious about, and Hannah seems to have a thing for Martin’s well-meaning but dopey new employee, a shy jock played by Rick Rossovich. Afraid that Roxanne will never see past his big schnozz and that he’ll be passed over for the hunk, Martin seems resigned to a fate in the friend zone. Rossovich, for his part comes to Martin seeking romantic advice, as Roxanne is so much smarter than he (which isn’t difficult, because the guy is basically an idiot). What to do? Well, Martin reluctantly and uncomfortably ends up feeding Rossovich the flowery words to woo his intended. Shelley Duvall plays Martin’s confidante and best friend, whilst his fellow firemen include Damon Wayans, John Kapelos, and Michael J. Pollard. Brian Geor…

Review: Superman Returns

Five years ago, Superman (Brandon Routh) left Earth to venture to his birth home of Krypton. He found that it was in ruins though, so he comes back to an Earth that seems to have moved on from him. Even Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on, writing a dismissive article for the Daily Planet about Superman, and recently getting engaged to Richard (James Marsden), the nephew of editor Perry White (Frank Langella). She also has a five year-old son. Five years? Hmmmm. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor is up to old tricks with a new insane plan that involves the crystals from The Fortress of Solitude and creating his own mass of land with disastrous effects for everyone and everything else if allowed to happen. Sam Huntington plays Daily Planet employee Jimmy Olsen, Eva Marie Saint is Ma Kent, former Aussie rugby league star Ian Roberts plays one of Luthor’s henchmen (The film having been shot in Sydney), Parker Posey is Luthor’s companion Kitty Kowalski, and Kal Penn basically plays a less idiotic v…

Review: War Dogs

Struggling to make more than a couple of bucks as a massage therapist and bed sheet salesman, Miles Teller now also must contend with a newly pregnant girlfriend (Ana de Armas). He eventually hooks up with a recently returned childhood friend turned arms dealer (played by Jonah Hill), picking up low-level government/military weapon contracts. Eventually the two stoners find themselves in Iraq selling guns to American soldiers, while also doing business with middle-man Bradley Cooper, who may or may not be an actual terrorist. Kevin Pollak plays a Jewish dry cleaner associate of the twenty-something stoners.

Here we have a perfect case where a subject has been dealt with in two darkly comedic films loosely based on (different) true stories, to wildly different results. One film, “Lord of War” was helmed by a legit (if erratic) filmmaker in Andrew Niccol and pretty much got it right. It was entertaining, but also didn’t entirely glorify the putrid arms dealing industry and genuinely had…

Review: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Robert Downey Jr. plays a small-time thief who escapes from the police after his latest job by inadvertently walking into an acting audition. Amazingly this lands him into contention for a new gig playing a private detective in a movie. Now in L.A., Downey is teamed with no-nonsense P.I. Val Kilmer, to get a feel for the part in preparation. So he gets to tag along with Kilmer (whose character happens to be gay) on his job. Downey also reunites with a childhood sweetheart (Michelle Monaghan) currently in L.A. to try and make it as an actress. The trio end up involved in a complex plot involving two dead bodies. Corbin Bernsen plays a philanthropist, producer, and former actor.

Before they teamed up for the wonderfully dopey “The Nice Guys”, writer-director Shane Black (previously the screenwriter of “Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout”) and uber-action movie producer Joel Silver gave us this amusing 2005 detective/buddy comedy which marked Black’s directorial debut. The two films …