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Doc says I'm better now, I'm free to roam in society again :-)
Me? Middle aged British punker who is heavily in love with anything punk related circa 1976 - 1982. Film fanatic who indulges in any genre of film but specialises in film-noir, westerns, war and big - bold - historical epics.
I like writing reviews, even having some published in British newspapers and I have received nice emails from people associated with films that I have reviewed. While my mantra here is quite simply lets be here to learn and share.
The Director Titans
Alfred Hitchcock Robert Aldrich Anthony Mann Sam Peckinpah Jacques Tourneur
The Director Gods
John Ford Budd Boetticher Robert Siodmak Billy Wilder Joseph Losey
The Director Royalty
Edward Dmytryk Nicholas Ray Fritz Lang John Sturges John Carpenter
The Director Gurus
Preston Sturges Frank Capra Howard Hawks Marcel Varnel Carol Reed
Modern Director Legends In Waiting
David Fincher Michael Mann
Stay Cool Peeps, See You On The Boards.
Réquiem para el gringo (1968)
Once sheared of twenty minutes, "Requiem for a Gringo" is now available to be seen in a full uncut version. Not that it's outrageously violent or sexually repugnant, it would appear some stiff backed suits back in the late 1960's had a bug where the sun doesn't shine.
This is a little treat for fans of Euro-Westerns of the 60's. Plot holds familiar traits, where a ruthless gang of scumbags terrorise locals and kill indiscriminately. Enter a lone stranger, Ross Logan/Django (Lang Jeffries), who after having been dealt a family mortal blow, sets about revenge - good job he is one seriously hard and smart dude!
Logan is a wonderful creation, he rides a mule, he wears a leopard skin poncho, and crucially he is a lover of astrology and uses it to define his life outcome (the best weather man in the history of Western genre cinema). There's a nice bit of splintered narrative used by directors Eugenio Martín and José Luis Merino here, while they also give the pic a supernatural vibe (Martin had his roots in horror).
Pic is full of macho brooding, murder death kills (splendid stunt work), scuzzy close ups, intense fights, beautiful girls (seriously, some of the prettiest girls ever in a Pasta/Paella Western), stunning Almeria location cinematography (Mario Pacheco) and some inventive camera work.
Very underseen, this may not be a high point in the genre, but it's certainly one that fans of such should be seeking out. One question though - how the hell did Lang Jeffries get to marry Rhonda Fleming? Must have been the gringo look that did it... 7/10
The Five Pennies (1959)
Mr. Paradise, I play New Orleans style. You know, it's the newest thing. As a matter of fact I got an arrangement right here of the very number that you're doing.
The Five Pennies is a musical biopic of jazz great Red Nichols, who is here played by Danny Kaye. As the famed Dixieland cornetist, he runs into opposition to his sound, but breaks through barriers to achieve success. Upon marrying an understanding patient woman (Barbara Bel Geddes) he begins to raise a family. But when tragedy strikes the family, "Red" puts down his horn to focus on matters of the heart.
Out of Paramount, The Five Pennies was released at a time when musical biopics were popular. Amazingly, as schmaltzy as the whole thing is on narrative terms, it's amazingly true to fact and and it pays to remember that when you think things are too sugary.
The music positively booms with joy, none more so than when the great Louis Armstrong is involved in duets with Red (the real Nichols playing). Tuesday Weld plays the teenage Nichols daughter and she is an utter delight, where she hits all the right emotional beats as the character progresses. Kaye is in his element, a perfect piece of casting, and Geddes is the embodiment of Americana wives of stoic firm and loyal beliefs.
It's a musical biopic that isn't afraid to show the main protag as a flawed individual, and that should be applauded. But as it happens, it's also a fine film all told, full of Dixieland verve and family values, and of course, the triumph of the will born about by pure love - both at home or through your art. 8/10
Gojira vs. Desutoroiâ (1995)
I've a feeling this is going to be Godzilla's last fight.
Godzilla is on the verge of nuclear meltdown, which spells doom for mankind. At the same time horrifying new organisms are discovered in Japan. These crustacean like beings are seemingly born of the Oxygen Destroyer, which was the weapon that killed the original Godzilla. From such things the mighty Destoroyah is born - the toughest enemy Godzilla has ever faced...
It's not only the last of the "Heisei" era of Godzilla, it's also one of the best in the whole franchise. It was meant to be the swansong for the big atomic lizard, which would have been fitting as it happens, but when Centropolis took up the rights and produced the must chastised 1998 blockbusting Matthew Broderick pic, things changed...
G-Force is on the case here trying to find out what the hell is going on (armed with the new awesome Super-X III), which brings in the human facor coupled with some wonderful sci-fi babble. Godzuki is in here, but he's not the cute goggle eyed cuddly thing we have seen before, he looks like the big parent only in smaller form - and here having junior in the piece works.
The effects work isn't the best of the series, and some of Destoroyah's abilities are strangely not explained - which is annoying. Fans of all things "Zilla" will rejoice at the nods and homages to the past "Zilla" entries, which is credit to Toho Studio for showing respect to their baby (and the fans).
The great Akira Ifukube came out of retirement to musically score this one, and he doesn't disappoint, blending the traditional Tokyo stomp thunders with emotional swirls. Ah yes, emotion, this be the one that has it in utter abundance. There is wonderful colour, carnage, laser shows and beast smack downs, but ultimately the emotional heart of the pic is what rises it up towards the top end of the Godzilla franchise. 8/10
Cattle Town (1952)
Mike McGann is The Man.
Directed by Noel M. Smith and starring Dennis Morgan, there's not a lot to write home about here for Western fans. Yet there's just enough of good old fashioned yee-haw to keep it from stinker status. Plot is set in post-civil-war Texas and finds crafty Notherners buying up the land for nefarious gains. In comes the government envoy to investigate, at the front is tough guy Mike McGann (Morgan).
It's a curious mix of gunfights and singing - including a barber quintet - but the action is well staged and not in short supply, while the finale is rather rousing as cattle go berserk. It never sits still so there's no boredom factor - as it runs at just a little over 70 minutes - and Morgan (in his last WB role) is a likable leading man for this type of material. 5/10
Monte Walsh (2003)
Rudy, you can't have no idea how little I care.
Already made in 1970 with Lee Marvin in the title role (directed by William Fraker), here for the TV remake we have Tom Selleck as Walsh and it's directed by Simon Wincer. Based on the novel written by Jack Schaefer (writer of Shane no less), story is a lament for the passing of the Old West and the dying out of the cowboy as a viable living.
There's nothing romantic on show here as regards life on the range, the romance is set aside for the beautiful landscapes (the magnificence of Alberta captured by David Eggby) and the tender relationships between Walsh and Countess Martine (Isabella Rossellini) and his sidekick Chet Rollins (Keith Carradine) - with both actors deft and affecting in perfs.
Pic perfectly portrays just how tough it was on the range, and how dangerous the towns were as the cowpokes moved on through them looking for solid work. Selleck is surrounded by fine character actors, William Devane , Rex Linn, James Gammon, Robert Carradine, William Sanderson and Wallace Shawn. But as any Western fan who has followed Selleck in these genre ventures will tell you, he doesn't need propping up by anybody, he's at home in these films. All manly and pathos to burn, he's excellent in this.
If you are a Western fan there is so much to like here, if you liked the Marvin film it's nailed on you will like this one as well, maybe even a bit more! 8/10
On the Waterfront (1954)
You think you're God Almighty, but you know what you are? You're a cheap, lousy, dirty, stinkin' mug! And I'm glad what I done to you, ya hear that? I'm glad what I done!
On the Waterfront is directed by Elia Kazan and adapted to screenplay by Budd Schulberg from a series of Malcolm Johnson articles. It stars Marlon Brando, Lee J. Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Karl Malden, Rod Steiger and Pat Henning. Music is by Leonard Bernstein and cinematography by Boris Kaufman.
Terry Malloy (Brando) was once a boxer with potential and big dreams. Now working as a longshoreman on the docks for mob boss Johnny Friendly (Cobb), Terry witnesses the murder of a fellow dock worker and finds himself conflicted about if he should inform to the crime commission about what he knows, more so as he gets in tight with the dead man's sister.
As good as anything Kazan, Brando and Kaufman ever did, On the Waterfront strips it down to a stench filled corrupt part of New York as honest hard working men battle to make ends meet under the rule of corrupt mob led union bosses. The dialogue is almost lyrical in its simplicity, deftly at odds with the dull pallor of the environment involving barely livable housing and misty docks holding awful secrets.
Although a defence for squealing, with the finger pointed at those in the high chairs here, it's a seminal classic that deserved every Oscar win and nomination that it got. From the electric "contender" speech (watch Steiger's facial acting here), to Brando's heart aching discovery of his beloved birds being killed, and onto the unforgettable punch the air finale, this is as good as classic cinema gets. 10/10
The Mark of Zorro (1940)
Pleasant scorpions! Agreeable rattlesnakes!
The Mark of Zorro is directed by Rouben Mamoulian and is adapted to screenplay by John Taintor Foote, Garrett Fort and Bess Meredyth from Johnston McCulley's story "The Curse of Capistrano". It stars Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone, Linda Darnell, Gail Sondergarrd, Eugene Pallette and J. Edward Bromberg. Music is by Alfred Newman and cinematography by Arthur C. Miller.
The 1820's and the son of a California nobleman comes home from Spain to find his native land under a villainous dictatorship. So on one front he plays a dandy cowardly fop, while on the other he is the masked avenger of the people, Zorro.
A reimaging of the Douglas Fairbanks 1920 silent version, this cut is the definitive classic version. Matinee idol Power slips into the dual role of Don Diego Vega with ease, giving the Latin Robin Hood/Scarlet Pimpernel the requisite swashbuckling verve and glint in the eye comedic bravado. This in essence is 20th Century Fox's answer to WB's The Adventures of Robin Hood, and this does have similarities (no bad thing) with some players from "Hood" carried over into this production.
Rathbone is on his prime villain duty, and his swordplay with Power is a pure joy. Rathbone, a fully fledged trained swordsman gave Power the highest compliment about how well he took to fencing, and it shows as we get epees to the death (and a battle for best moustache). The romance sparkles, Sondergaard straight away wants to get into Power's pants, Power wants to get into Darnell's pants, while Rathbone will just take what he can while he fondles his sword.
It's a pure joy, for kids and adults of all ages, supremely directed by Mamoulian (the control of the 100's of extras at pic's finale is dynamite), and acted with style and knowing skill by the cast. You will believe that this Zorro does in fact change the course of history. A thrilling, fun, beautiful swashbuckler from a truly golden age. 9/10
Next of Kin (1989)
Appalachian Clan vS. The Chicago Mob
Patrick Swayze stars in an action revenge thriller in the same year that he also made Road House, the following year he made Ghost, these were two years after he had made a sensual splash with Dirty Dancing. Thus it's safe to say that Patrick did not pigeon hole himself. Next of Kin holds no great hidden gem rewards, but it's a rock solid thriller boasting a splendid cast list featuring Liam Neeson, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Adam Baldwin, Andreas Katsulas, Ben Stiller (in a serious role), Michael J. Pollard, Ted Levine and Paul Greco.
Plot finds Swayze as a Chicago cop who after the murder his younger brother desperately tries to uphold the law while one of his brothers from the "sticks" would rather enact all out revenge on the mobsters that killed the younger sibling. Suffice to say things go pear shaped and blood, loyalty and life altering decisions do follow.
The trajectory is simple , honest cop tries to do the right thing by the law in spite of the hurt in his heart, hillbilly brother (Neeson getting the best role in the film) would rather deliver some "deliverance" type justice - all while the rest of the "Gates" family clan await the call to come wading down from the hills to aid the retribution flow. The action scenes are well enough staged by director John Irvin, there's a whole bunch of fun in the characterisations - even if they are standard 101 scripted - while if you can get past Swayze's ponytail you will find a very restrained and cool performance.
Hardly a must see, but definitely no stinker and worth your time as a time filler, if only to see such a fresh faced young cast of well knowns turning tricks before bigger things awaited. 6/10
Blood and Wine (1996)
There's no such thing as honour among thieves. It's a myth.
Blood and Wine is directed by Bob Rafelson and Rafelson co-writes the screenplay with Nick Villiers and Alison Cross. It stars Jack Nicholson, Stephen Dorff, Jennifer Lopez, Judy Davis and Michael Caine. Music is by Michal Lorenc and cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel.
A failed father and husband enlists an oily accomplice to enact the theft of a precious necklace. But when his wife and son get involved in the shady dealings, things quickly spiral out of control.
Bob Rafelson once again turns to his muse, Nicholson, to bring about another venture down the neo-noir lane. Unfortunately, just like the "The Postman Always Rings Twice" remake and "Black Widow", this also flatters to deceive.
Nothing wrong with the acting or story as such, Nicholson and Caine bounce off each other with scummy character glee, while Lopez and Dorff offer up some sexy sizzle in the supporting slots. In true noir fashion the pic is ripe with unlikable characters, while the vagaries of noirville fate comes into play. Yet as it plays out more as a character study than anything edgy or thrilling, it ends up being like a fine wine that has been corked.
Some nifty complexities in the narrative and the fine perfs ensure it's above average, but really it's not a must see for the noir faithful. 6/10
Enemy of the State (1998)
The government's been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the forties. They've infected everything.
Enemy of the State is directed by Tony Scott and written by David Marconi. It stars Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Regina King and Lisa Bonet. Music is by Harry Gregson-Williams and Trevor Rabin, and cinematography by Dan Mindel.
A lawyer becomes targeted by a corrupt politician and his N.S.A. goons when he accidentally receives key evidence to a politically motivated murder.
Superb action thriller, we find Tony Scott on fine story telling form, backed up by Smith (how great to see the actor and not the star) and the always awesome Hackman adding his character driven gravitas to the stew. We are frighteningly drawn into a very real hi-tech world, which in turns becomes thought provoking and intriguing.
Scott knows how to work an action scene and edge of the seat sequences, and he doesn't disappoint here. The running time of 2 hours 10 minutes is arguably a touch too much, but there is never any moments of extraneous sequences or pointless filler, the screenplay ensures that all conversations and character activities mean something, and therefore should be noted.
A hot buck roll call of rising actors are in on the fun, namely Barry Pepper, Scott Caan, Jake Busey, Jamie Kennedy and Jack Black, which leaves us with a smart and thrilling pic that's served at a breakneck pace. Enemy of the State delivers wholesome genre entertainment. 9/10
Gojira vs. Supesugojira (1994)
Godzilla! I still have something to settle with you!
Gojira vs. Supesugojira (Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla) is directed by Kenshô Yamashita and written by Kanji Kashiwa, Hiroshi Kashiwabara and Shinichirô Kobayashi. It stars Megumi Odaka, Jun Hashizume, Zenkichi Yoneyama and Akira Emoto. Music is by Takayuki Hattori and cinematography by Masahiro Kishimoto.
Godzilla faces two new foes, Mogera - a UN built giant robotic machine, and Space Godzilla - a beast spawned from Godzilla's particles in space...
Oh how nutty it is, here we have part of what is known as the Heisei period of "Zilla" movies, and it's utterly bonkers. Is it meant to be a comedy, serious, thrown together quickly to make some money? Who knows? Who cares? Very divisive in Godzilla fan circles (totally understandable), pic throws a number of action series staples at the piece, slots in Godzilla's kid (a goofy looking Godzuki monstrosity), and pitches the moody big lizard against two foes that creates ultimate fire and destruction mayhem.
Godzilla stomps the city of course, all while trying to keep out the telekinetic skills of the yummy Miki Saegusa (Odaka). There's some truly great matte shots in the mix, mad science, a nifty score that the likes of Williams and Barry wouldn't be ashamed of, and a traditional laser show of a finale smackdown. It's not great, in fact it's pretty dumb and maybe even lazy, but there is merit here for entertainment purpose. So strap yourself in, leave the brain at the door and enjoy the colourful carnage, it's trippy man! 6/10
The only thing we can do is be there for each other when we do fall down to pick each other up.
Trust is directed by David Schwimmer and written by Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger. It stars Clive Owen, Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Jason Clarke, Viola Davis, Gail Friedman, Chris Henry Coffey and Tristan Peach. Music is by Nathan Larson and cinematography by
A teenage girl is targeted by an online sexual predator, causing the family untold trauma...
For his second fully fledged studio feature film as a director, former "Friends" star Schwimmer showed courage in bringing a very real and touchy subject onto the big screen. He has crafted a sensitive piece about a hot topic, there's no titillation or firm answers to the problem to hand, and in young Liberato (Annie) and trusty pro Owen (Will), he has actors turning superbly heart aching performances.
Pic follows the trajectory of girl meeting what she thinks is a teenage boy on line, and as she falls for him, the predator slowly begins to unfurl his deception to the point where she's lost, confused and jelly in his hands. Once the "relationship" comes to light, the parents are shredded, the strain unbearable, with father Will reacting how any father would.
The narrative deals with parental upheaval and that of young Annie, the latter of which is thrust into a world of confusion and hateful attention from her peers. Screenplay dangles other sexual predator strands, without force feeding us, while the denouement is refreshingly sour and not afraid to ask the pertinent question of who do you trust? More so given that these predators are in our midst and often living a false facade of a life.
A family under duress mingles with the invasion of a monster into their lives, for what is not a comfortable watch, but certainly one well worth digesting. 7/10
Prime Cut (1972)
Beefy Burgers and Meat Market Malarkey.
Prime Cut is directed by Michael Ritchie and written by Robert Dillon. It stars Lee Marvin, Gene Hackman, Sissy Spacek, Angel Tompkins, Gregory Walcott and Janit Baldwin. Music is by Lalo Schifrin and cinematography by Gene Polito.
A vicious Kansas City slaughterhouse owner (Hackman) and his hick family are having a bloody war with a Chicago crime syndicate over profits from their joint illegal operations. Chicago heads decide to send top enforcer Nick Devlin (Marvin) to straighten things out.
1972 was something of a tricky year for Lee Marvin, he had made "Pocket Money" with Paul Newman, which was a mess of a film and subsequently failed across the board. He then made "Prime Cut", a film so offbeat and tonally all over the place it still today divides fans of Marvin's work. Yet time has been much kinder to it, not like it's a hidden gem type of thing, but a real culter that if one can embrace the nature of the beast, and forgive it the stench of misogyny, then there's some rewards awaiting.
It wasn't an easy shoot, Marvin absolutely hated director Ritchie, and he even refused to take the character arc between himself and Spacek's (in her debut film and superb) young waif that step too far. The resulting film, of what was passed via the censors, is an uneasy blend of sleaze and irreverence. The juxtaposition between the bustle of Chicago and the hick country file of Kansas brings about a sort of battle for America's soul. So who better than Marvin and Hackman to serve up the polar opposites of Americana?.
The violence hits hard, as does the sex slave trading kink in the narrative, all set to the wonderfully airy backdrop of homespun countryside life. Marvin is superb, all machismo and gives us a protag one can easily get on board with. Pic is difficult to recommend with complete confidence, but I for one am happy to join the cult that thinks it's great. 8/10
Now You See Me (2013)
The closer you think you are, the less you'll actually see.
Now You See Me is directed by Louis Leterrier and collectively written by Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt. It stars Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Michael Kelly. Music is by Brian Tyler and cinematography by Mitchell Amundsen and Larry Fong.
An F.B.I. Agent and an Interpol Detective are tracking a team of illusionists who appear to be pulling off bank heists during their performances. Real magic? Or elaborate criminology?.
We are in the realm of the fantastical, where illusions and impossible tricks reside. It's a nifty backdrop to this splendidly flashy slice of misdirection hokum. Our four magicians, each with their own personal skills - and calling themselves "The Four Horsemen" - enact a number of elaborate stage shows that has all members of the law baffled.
Their rich benefactor played by Caine, is smug about his charges, Freeman is the myth buster trying to unearth the secrets of the "four", while the cops are constantly pulling their hair out. What does it all mean? How will it pan out at the end?. Well it's great fun, the tricks are expertly staged, the cast give gravitas to their respective characters, if only the big reveal at the end wasn't a bit too far out there...
There's a bit of a steal and a nod to another heist caper film, while that finale can make or break your overall opinion of the piece. Yet the journey is so enjoyable and intriguing, it's kind of forgivable anyway... 8/10
The Lusty Men (1952)
There never was a bronc that couldn't be rode, there never a cowboy that couldn't be throwed. Guys like me last forever.
The Lusty Men is directed by Nicholas Ray and co-written by Horace McCoy and David Dortort from a suggested story by Claude Stanush. It stars Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward, Arthur Kennedy, Arthur Hunnicutt, Frank Faylen and Carol Nugent. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Lee Garmes.
Retired rodeo champion Jeff McCloud (Mitchum) agrees to mentor novice rodeo contestant Wes Merritt (Kennedy) against the wishes of Merritt's wife, Louise (Hayward), who fears the dangers of this rough sport. All that and affairs of the heart start to become just as rough.
Nicholas Ray picks up a love triangle core and sets it to the backdrop of the ferocious world of Rodeo. Pic is in turn touching and realistic, bringing strong human drama and splicing it with real life rodeo action - with the bull sequences quite something to behold. Ace cinematographer Garmes ("Shanghai Express/Nightmare Alley") photographs the rodeo sequences with a beauty that still manages to exude the harsh hum-drum life of the main protagonists out on the circuit.
In reality we are following three characters on the road to destiny, actually lyrically so, this is no soap opera tale infused with action sequences. In fact location filming went out on the road to film real Rodeos (with genuine Rodeo stars strutting their stuff). This is three characters in search of an exit, a meaning in life, but naturally harsh lessons are to be learned before the day of reckoning can come.
Super perfs, direction and photography, if it wasn't for the irritatingly repetitious use of the same music each time a "contestant" leapt out the stalls, then it would be a point higher. 8/10
Gemini Man (2019)
You made a person out of another person, then you sent me to kill him. You made a choice to do this to me.
Gemini Man is directed by Ang Lee and co-written by David Benioff and Darren Lemke. It stars Will Smith, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen and Benedict Wong. Music is by Lorne Balfe and cinematography by Dione Beebe.
Henry Brogan (Will Smith) is an aging but elite assassin who's ready to call it quits. However, his plans are put on hold when he suddenly becomes the target of a mysterious operative who can seemingly predict his every move. The assassin who stalks him has a very familiar feel to him...
Lets not beat around the bush, Smith and Winstead deserve a better screenplay than this. The writing is weak and lazy, Lee is clearly the wrong director for such a high concept action film, while the action scenes are shoddy in effects. In fact the storyline, as trite as it is, is unfairly in a constant battle against the CGI on show.
However, film never sits still and refuses to let boredom take a hold. The lead actors are engaging enough to hold attention throughout, and even as the sugary coatings fill out the final throes, we at least can acknowledge there were earnest intentions to make an existential clone thriller here. But with Jerry Bruckheimer on production you can see there's a popcorn action film trying to break free of the literary treacle.
Hardly the worst clone sci-fier that some have called it, but it's not memorable either. Think of it more as a time filler for the curious about the subject to hand. 6/10
This is where the law stops and I start, sucker!
Cobra is directed by George P. Cosmatos and written by Paula Gosling (novel Fair game) and Sylvester Stallone. It stars Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen, Brian Thompson, Reni Santoni, Andrew Robinson, John Herzfeld and Lee Garlington. Music is by Sylvester Levay and cinematography by Ric Waite.
A tough-on-crime street cop must protect the only surviving witness to a strange murderous cult with far-reaching plans.
Cobra is a tantalising peek as to just what Stallone's "Beverley Hills Cop" would have looked like. He had turned in a gritty and ballsy action screenplay but the studio balked at the cost and thus went with the comedic Eddie Murphy route (which worked great as it happens).
This truncated 1hour and 20 minute Cobra just hints at what a dark edgy action film we should have had before the scissor suits at the studio got panicky and cut out a third of the pic.
What we have left though is still good fun, Stallone is on cocky and cool bad dude mode, the villain is OTT (Brian Thompson actually looks like Arnie in some facial shots), Nielsen is in her natural bodily state... while the action we do get is high octane. It's hardly a stinker, if a little frustrating with a "what might have been hanging" over it, and of course the editing is shoddy. 6.5/10
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935)
When you're back in England with the fleet again, you'll hear the hue and cry against me. From now on they'll spell mutiny with my name.
A tyrannical ships captain takes his reluctant crew on a two-year voyage that will change British maritime law forever...
Directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Charles Laughton, Clark Gable and Franchot Tone, this 1935 version of the often filmed tale of the "Mutiny on the Bounty" (book by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall) is the template by which other adaptations would come to be judged.
We are in safe hands from the off due to the casting of Laughton as the strutting evil peacock that is Captain Bligh, and Gable as Fletcher Christian, the handsome hero who decides enough of tyranny and raises a sailor army to usurp the tyrannical Bligh. The pic positively thrives on the characterisations, instead of giving over to fanciful sea faring shenanigans, it's more concerned with the principal players and the conflicts that said characters partake in.
Based upon an actual real life instance, there's a realism factor on show as the sailors of The Bounty deal with the harsh realities of sea voyage in the 1700's, this before their captain thinks nothing of flogging an already dead shipmate!. We witness the best and worst of men at sea, this be a time where loyalty and harsh discipline were in turn expected and meted out as a course of nature.
It's a tragic tale, though it's a little let down in the mid-section when the ship gets to Tahiti and it's all jolification and frivolity, which belies the harsh nature of the core beast. Yet once Laughton and Gable square up against each other, we are in the presence of greatness, mortal enemies are born and they take us to a finale that asks us the audience if it is indeed justified? 9/10
Sister Act (1992)
Mary Clarence? Like Clarence Williams III from The Mod Squad?
When a worldly singer witnesses a mob crime, the police hide her as a nun in a traditional convent where she has trouble fitting in.
Whoopi Goldberg is the sister act of the title, and boy does she have a great time with the characterisation. It's hardly pulling up any trees, and it holds few surprises, yet it's so warm and gentle with its humour it's near impossible to dislike.
The laughs obviously come from Goldberg's street wise gal trying to adapt to life in a convent. The big message that unfolds, as she gets more at ease with her surroundings, is that not only can earthy girls come to be honourable by learning new fortitudes, but also that they can positively affect those around them in a perceived stuffy environment.
The trajectory of the nunnery choir under Goldberg's tutorship - from wailing cats to cherubic angels - is the film's highlights, while Maggie Smith as the prim and proper Mother Superior is class unbound. Harvey Keitel as the gangster who is after our sister's blood is wasted, and the ending is never really in doubt, yet this is a good pick me up movie, undemanding fun for those after a quick smiley fix. 7/10
Tin Cup (1996)
Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you're not good at them.
Directed by Ron Shelton and starring Kevin Costner, Rene Russo and Don Johnson, Tin Cup is the golf rom-com sports movie that even none golf fans (me) can enjoy. Costner is a washed up ex pro golfer who upon happening upon Russo's - eager to please her golfer boyfriend (Johnson) - psychiatrist, finds a new lease of life for the sport and for potential romance. But first he has to deal with the cocky nemesis that is Johnson's star laden showy golfer.
The sports based movie is a tough nut to crack, the margins for narrative worth are thin, there's only so much one can take such a genre to. Here we have one of the staples of said genre, that of a washed up sportsman getting a second shot at glory. It really should have been a bore to rival that of the sport in reality (sorry golfers, I just don't get it), yet Shelton, backed by superb lead actors, creates a thoroughly charming, exciting and thoughtful sports rom-com.
The characterisations are white hot, people you can easily root for, or in the case of Johnson's David Simms, boo and hiss at. It is testament to the director and writers (Shelton and John Norville) that these characters manage to rise above stereotype status, and crucially they are given sharp dialogue to spout. The sport of golf isn't the crux of the matter here, it really is the characters and how they adapt to the changing of basic human emotions that drives this pic forward.
Some famous golfers of the time make appearances, rewardingly so, while the always ace Cheech Marin gets a part he can nail with aplomb. You haven't got to love golf or sports movies in general for this one, it really is just a crowd pleasing delight. 8/10
The Brave One (2007)
There is no going back, to that other person, that other place. This thing, this stranger, she is all you are now.
Erica Bain (Jodie Foster) survives a vicious subway attack that saw her intended husband killed. Unsatisfied with the police efforts to catch the killers, and submerged by grief, she decides to take matters into her own hands and clear the streets of criminal vermin...
Well there's no getting away from it, this is basically a feminist version of Death Wish. Director Neil Jordan pitches the always great Foster right into the moral quagmire of vigilante justice. This is a smart and provocative vigilante thriller at the core, yet the preposterous machinations on show render it somewhat annoying - none more so than with the finale which is just ridiculous.
Erica takes up a gun, it becomes her comfort blanket, and as she battles with self loathing of what she is doing, she amazingly starts ridding the streets of scumbags. We are also asked to swallow that she becomes very tight to the lead detective investigating the vigilante crimes, played by Terence Howard (superb).
Unfortunately, Jordan seems to run out of guts to follow through in creating something worth saying. Instead pitching Erica in increasingly daft situations, with dialogue to match, for a film with a lady lead kicking butt, the whole thing actually lacks balls. The lead actors ensure it's no stinker, and who doesn't feel a punch the air moment in them as scumbag criminals gets what's due? But really it's an above average vigilante film at best. 6/10
Crawl is not small!
The latest in what is proving to be a long line of Croc/Gator horror films, this one holds its head above water (hrr hrr hrr). The premise and setting puts a new slant on things, which is nice to see. It's a two hander, where as a father and daughter pairing, Barry Pepper and Kaya Scodelario make up the bulk of the narrative - they are also under or in water for 98% of the film! The effects work is nifty, the blood letting attention grabbing and thrills are never ever far away. 7/10
Enchanted - indeed!
Disney blends live action and animation for a tale that subverts all their own big fairytale hits of old for heart warming results. Basically it's a fish out of water tale as a princess (the heart achingly yummy Amy Adams) is thrust into modern day New York and proceeds to change the life of everyone she comes into contact with. While of course nefarious baddies have followed her from "animation fairytale land" to attempt assassination for crown grabbing purpose. The ending is a joy, as is the big theatrical musical number in Central Park. 8/10
life's what you make it!
Looking forward to my next viewing of this. Martin Lawrence once again proves that given a co-star to work off he can deliver, and here he does as he gets Eddie Murphy on prime form to work with. It's a very funny and bittersweet picture, a tale of friendship under duress. A great supporting cast fills out the other convict characters. 8/10
Bad Boys (1995)
What you gonna do when they come for you?
Just great high octane action entertainment. You could argue it's a shallow exercise, but with outstanding action set pieces and a couple of leads hitting chemistry gold, it's an action junkies dream. 8/10