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Lady Street Fighter (1981)
Amazingly Incompetant Movie!
Really, really, really, really, really funny movie but man is it badly made. On the other hand its hard to make any movie good or bad so just the fact that anything gets onscreen is a downright miracle really...but seriously its not well made.
The lead actress is very Tommy Wisseau-esque tho--her accent, but also her outsize over-reaction to anything and everything that's also in the scene with her. She's a wee bit over the top you might say.
There's a grown woman playing a 5 year old girl here as well, as in she's actually supposed to be 5 and not a grown woman with the brain of a 5 year old...it doesn't make any sense, but i'm hoping it wasn't supposed to.
There's a sequence that's set at a party that turns into a drug laced freakout/orgy that seems to serve no purpose other than to give the people in the movie who aren't the main actress something to do.
Honestly nothing that happens in this movie makes any sense--it starts out trying to be a straight up revenge movie (this woman's sister gets killed and she comes to California to find the guys that did it) but somewhere around the lets say 20 minute mark, the movie turns into a woman on the run movie, and then it inexplicably becomes a love story--that part was actually the most believable because the actor who's playing against the lead actress is about as much an actor as she is--except where she goes completely and totally over the top, he's like underplaying every line--their love scene needs to be seen to be believed quite honestly.
How this hasn't been rediscovered as an object of cult fandom yet is a good question--its definitely every bit as nuts as The Room, but somehow The Room is still unquestionably the better movie! (At least The Room has some resolution at the end of its plot!)
This was surprisingly good!!!!! Needs to be on DVD post haste!
Really tightly made biopic of Dillinger and his immediate rise to fame, and Melvin Purvis (here played by Will Patton) subsequent pursuit of the man. Its very well shot, its very well acted--Mark Harmon is quite good as Dillinger--he's again a surprisingly effective Dillinger. He's nice and laid back for the most part, but there's a definite edge to him that slips out when stressed or pushed. Its very well done....You see why he was well liked (He wanted to enjoy his life as much as he could) and you see why he was also so hated by the men pursuing him. I actually think this is a better biopic than Michael Mann's 2009 film "Public Enemies" which covers much the same terrain plot-wise. If anything, this is much tighter, and much more fast paced, and even more surprisingly--the big FBI raid on the compound where they find out Dillinger and his men are staying is actually even better shot--for one thing its actually shot in daylight and you can see what's happening unlike in Public Enemies where its shot in almost total darkness. Anyways this is a really worthy biopic even if made for commercial tv (meaning there are obvious spots where the commercials would go when this was running on tv) its well worthy of being better known, and frankly fans of Mark Harmon on NCIS will love seeing him here. (I know I did!)
so-so but nothing special, although Barbra Hershey holds the film together well enough
Lawyer with a client she's defending whom she's having an affair with ends up at the scene of his bloody murder. (The two of them fought right before his death, and she hits him over the head, but storms off with him still alive--only to come back to find him murdered.)
There's a complication in that the bloody weapon is in the front seat of her car (under the seat of course) because she was using it to defend herself after he attacked her, but she knows she didn't kill him cause he was very much still alive when she ran out of the building...so who did???
Soon things get complicated because she ends up taking the case of the woman who ends up accused of the guy's murder---the guy's wife!!!! (Dun dun dun)
There's also the detective played by Sam Shepard who's hunting around trying to put the pieces together. Would it make more sense for lawyer Barbra Hershey to just tell him that she had a fight with him and attacked him right before his death? Undoubtedly. Will she? Of course not, because then there'd be no suspense regarding if he's gonna figure out that she was there with the victim around the time of his death.
Movie is engaging enough, decently hooking you into the story as it moves along, but the resolution isn't very good at all. It probably doesn't matter that the resolution isn't good because what really matters is if the movie keeps you watching and if you feel sympathetic towards the lead character despite some of the choices she makes out of fear. On that end the movie works largely because Barbra Hershey does make the character feel like someone you can understand the actions of, and the way the story moves and unfolds makes a certain kind of logical sense while you're watching it.
I wasn't again crazy about the direction the story took, especially in the last ten to twenty minutes. I feel like characters who were previously sane abruptly go insane only to heighten the suspense and to give the movie a big dramatic push for the finish...and it just didn't work for me. Did not feel that that fit with what we had seen of that character throughout prior to the end. I was very much enjoying how nice and quietly suspenseful the movie was proceeding before that big dramatic outburst and feel like the movie really didn't need to "go big" for its ending.
Close call but its a near miss for me.
Love Kills (1991)
starts out fairly engaging, gets bad pretty quickly after a bad plot turn about a half hour or so in
The movie starts out promising with Virginia Madsen as a photographer who's upset about her rich husband cheating on her (even tho she keeps claiming that she's not) She soon becomes infatuated with a seemingly charming man whom she's been hired to take modeling photos of. This man is played by Madsen's one time co-star of the movie "Electric Dreams" and the two of them definitely still have chemistry. The two of them engage in an affair and then well unfortunately the movie takes a very sharp left turn involving the male model character that throws everything in the movie completely out of whack.
Normally when a movie takes a rather unpredictable left turn, I'm usually pretty thrilled by that, but in this case, I thought it very nearly ruined what could've been a nifty noir with these two actors and their very believable chemistry as lovers. The movie keeps on going with this left turn taken, and soon comes back to Madsen back together with her husband and scared by her encounter with her one time lover, and wondering if she can trust anybody. Soon enough Madsen finds herself being stalked by yet a third guy, and just as she's freaking out to the point that she's getting scared to go anywhere, the male model re-enters her life to try and explain why she's being stalked. (There's a backstory here involving the male model, her ex husband, and a story that the model tells that Madsen doesn't know whether to believe or not, which ends up being the main crux of the movie.)
OK so as a story, the sharp turns the narrative take are jarring to watch, but as a movie watcher you go with them kinda hoping they'll take you somewhere, and while they do, I wasn't all that crazy about where they ended up taking me. The ending while definitely surprising, (and pretty ballsy of the filmmakers to try and pull off) did not satisfy--if only because as a fan of Viginia Madsen, and as someone who spent the running time of the movie watching her and rooting for her to pull out of this increasing tail spin the narrative had her in, I feel like she was quite short changed by the abrupt ending the film gave her.
I do not recommend, but Virginia Madsen does try her best to make the film watchable, and its to her credit that it is even if the storyline kinda ends up sinking it.
Innocent Lies (1995)
Terrible movie....but its shot very nicely at least...some very nice visuals...but terrible script!!!!
Truly lousy screenplay sinks this one. Gabrielle Anwar, Adrian Dunbar, and Stephen Dorff all try hard to make this work (Dorff even attempts an English accent!) but the plot as it unfolds doesn't quite work. There seems like there was some scenes left out that might have made some of the explanation of why the characters do the things they do (or why they feel as attached to one another as they do)
The murder of an old friend brings a detective played by Dunbar into contact with this posh well to do aristocratic family including a pair of siblings played by Dorff and Anwar...and they're both engaged to other people, and havn't seen one another in five or so years, but they both harbor a dangerous attachment to one another.
There's a backstory here that includes a third sibling (A twin for Dorff) who died under mysterious circumstances---it seems like it was an accidental death (or was it???) at the hands of an errant crossbow shot by Dorff as a child and in their grief he and his sister apparently clung to each other cementing a you know primal relationship that can't be surpassed no matter how apart they grow or something? I'm not entirely sure--but i think that's it.
Trivia Alert BTW---A very young Kiera Knightly plays the younger version of Anwar in the flashback scenes of her as a girl.
Anyways the movie makes a hash out of all of this while also trying to bring in a bunch of other suspects who could plausibly have killed the detective's old friend--but we all know its gonna come down to either Dorff or Anwar because otherwise there'd be no movie!!!!
There's a plotline involving the detective getting overly involved with Anwar, much to the horror of the woman he shares custody of a child with although i'm never sure if they're married or divorced or just around each other an awful lot. (The detective's relaionship with his daughter is also touched upon, but again its all tangential to the mystery he's trying to unravel.)
Anyways this could've been first rate--but its a mess. Its a complete hash of a muder mystery and the ending is bad....really, really, really bad. But its well filmed!!!! The movie looks really, really good---visually its a good looking movie, but its all for nothing because you will not care one way or the other about what's actually happening onscreen.
The Cool Surface (1993)
Watchable enough but leads to a real huh of an ending at which i can only guess the meaning of
Starts out with Robert Patrick as a struggling writer trying to crank out a novel his agent can sell--ends up becoming overly concerned with the woman living across the way from him whom he can hear getting beat up at night....but this just turns out to be the first of many mistaken impressions on Patrick's part. It turns out that this woman who's played by Teri Hatcher is an actress who like Patrick is also struggling to get her career up and running...as the two characters pursue success (and each other) they kind of become increasingly odd in their behavior.
Patrick starts the movie seemingly meek and mild mannered and Hatcher seems to be rather commandeering when they first start interacting with one another....eventually this dynamic reverses, and it does so kind of abruptly---the idea i think was that in success, Patrick's character ends up becoming more and more dominant--there's a couple of references during the course of the movie directed at Patrick's character to "uncage the animal inside" which he seems to take to heart.
Anyways in the blink of an eye--Patrick's novel after some adjusting is eventually released and successful enough that a studio wants to buy the movie rights and his agent negotiates it so that he writes the screenplay himself. Hatcher decides that she wants to be the leading actress in the screenplay based on the book (the book was inspired by her, so in essence she'd be playing herself or at least Patrick's lightly fictionalized version of her)
This is where the movie falls off the tracks as Patrick almost immediately gets incredibly angry at this idea, and well things escalate from there to the point where things stop making sense.
The ending kind of teases us with the idea that Patrick had been down this road before, there's a character who appears at the very beginning who appears again at the very end, and his reappearance made me wonder if he was real or imaginary, but it really doesn't matter because nothing that happens in those last 15-20 minutes fits with the stuff that happened in the first hour or so...except that that that reappearance of the character at the end does kind of suggest that this had all happened before (and presumably will happen again...so maybe it fits too well?)
i'm not sure i can recommend this...there's a lot of overheated dialog, and a couple of sex scenes between Patrick and Hatcher that features plenty of nudity and that's all well and good--- I was with the movie the whole way, but it kind of lost me once Patrick started getting irrational and angry and while that may have been the point (The Cool Surface maybe referring to what we show people on the outside versus what's actually happening underneath???) I'm not sure it was one that was well made by the movie.
True Blood (1989)
ok but ehhh
Fahey is good. The story moves along all right. I wasn't crazy about Chad Lowe as Fahey's younger brother or Billy Draggo who goes reeeaaallly over the top as the bad guy here. Its the kind of performance that's very love it or hate it, and i didn't love it to be sure. I did like James Tolkan as the perennially grudge holding cop tho. The story is that Fahey as a young guy is in a gang, he ends up killing a cop (accidently) Tolkan as that cop's partner carries a grudge that lasts ten whole years as Fahey runs away, joins the army leaving his younger brother behind to grow up in the company of the gang bangers he ran away from....Fahey comes back to town basically to try and reclaim his brother whom he deserted, and well understandably his brother isn't full of warm and fuzzy feelings at seeing his big brother again. Can Fahey convince him to quit gang life and come with him away from the city? Does it really matter? Also Billy Draggo is the gang leader whom supposedly raised younger brother Chad Lowe while Fahey was away, but you know Draggo is crazy so that probably wasn't the best idea there Fahey. Anyways, its watchable enough as you see Fahey try to reconnect with his brother, and try to atone to James Tolkan for causing the death of his long ago partner (which Tolkan is not having!) but its not a good movie....its all mawkish, except for the scenes where Draggo is chewing scenery and venting his rage at Fahey for daring to step back into the town that he now owns! Again i didn't really care for Draggo's over the top performance here but whatever your mileage may vary.
Jericho Mansions (2003)
so-so suspense movie
Artfully filmed (almost overly artfully filmed with lots of flashy camera movements swooping in and out of various apartment buildings like a fly on the wall--its very show-off-ish but it does draw your attention) movie starting off about a seemingly agoraphobic apartment manager played by a very wary (and uncharacteristically passive) James Caan who's trying to deal with his everyday life being annoyed by his various tenants. Apparently the only one of them who actually seems to like him is a masseuse played by Jennifer Tilly, every other tenant either loathes him or is actively trying to harm him--Genevive Bujold plays a woman who is apparently making a habit of asking the cops to investigate his apt insisting that he stole something or other from her. (The cops themselves are like "yeah unfortunately we gotta question you again here") Anyways Tilly's husband is found dead in the garbage shoot, and before too long another body pops up, and then a third body, and we just might have a serial killer stalking the tenants of the building here. Caan who is increasingly feeling useless as a man (it doesn't help that he can't bring himself to exit the building--he has serious tremors just bringing the dumpster where the garbage bags lands from the garbage shoot around for the garbage truck to pick up.) takes it upon himself to try and solve the murders. This all leads to a somewhat unexpected twist at the end that i have to admit i wasn't at all expecting. The movie holds your attention well enough, but I didn't think it was especially good, although Caan it has to be said is trying really hard, and i actually think manages to pull off the role decently enough (but it is hard to buy him as a weakling who can't even defend himself against the ravings of a crazy woman as opposed to well the usual alpha James Caan persona) Anyways it was all right, but not all that good really.
Street Hunter (1990)
Why isn't Steve James better known?!?!?!?
Entertaining enough movie about a cop turned vigilante. (Drummed off the force as a fall guy in a scandal--Detective Blade--yes that his name--roams the streets taking out the gangs and keeping the peace in the neighborhood his own personal way) (Literally he drives around the town in a giant van which the local street kids recognize--at one point these two guys get the none too bright idea to try and break into it, and the other guy goes "Hold It--That's Blade's Car!!!!")
A ridiculously young John Leguizamo is here as a wannabe shot caller/kingpin who hooks up with a group of out of work militia types to try and waste his various enemies so he can control the gangs and criminal activity of the area, but of course he's not very well aware that the leader of the militia he's working with is going to cede any actual power to him. (It doesn't help that he looks like he's about 12, that's how young Leguizamo looks here!)
Anyways the plot is ehh--the plot doesn't really matter....you mostly watch a movie like this for the strength of the persona of the lead--and Steve James is awesome as Blade here. I actually feel bad that the man didn't get more (or any) recognition during his life (James died at the tail end of '93 according to imdb--weirdly one of his last movies was Weekend at Bernie's 2 where he played one of the two Jamaican guys tasked with resurrecting Bernie from the dead which is--I genuinely love Weekend at Bernie's 2 but that might not have been the best role to go out on for the man) Anyways he is just awesomely charismatic here, and you can't help but wish he had been given more chances to play the leading man in a whole bunch of B movies. He could've had an awesome career as a B movie hero, (I mean outside of his various sidekick roles in the American Ninja series of course) and well just based on his work here he would've 100% deserved it as he totally makes the movie watchable.
Ruby Cairo (1992)
Weak, weak, weak last half hour nearly kills any suspense or momentum this movie had going for it
This movie has a pretty decent first half hour or so as Andie McDowell learns her pilot husband has been killed in Mexico and she needs to go there to identify the body. She then discovers that he had stashes of cash hidden at various banks around the world, and because of how well she knew him is able to transcribe his very elaborate decoding system (each bank falls under a different alias, and the way McDowell figures out which alias goes with which bank in which country actually got me pretty good while watching it) Unfortunately the movie pretty much falls apart once she gets to the last bank and is told that that account was closed out by the account holder himself. (which of course is impossible since she just identified his body earlier in the movie) No spoilers here, but McDowell then spends the rest of the movie trying to track down how that could be, eventually hooking up with Liam Neeson along the way. Neeson by the way has almost nothing to do in this movie...given his above the title billing, you'd think he'd have more to do, but no, his entire role is to look adoringly at McDowell, they have a nice little montage of walking around together and they climb a hill at one point, but Neeson is literally given nothing to do with the actual plot of the movie that we're watching. I'm not saying that that's a bad thing, but you know he's known these days as a man of action, so to see him standing idly by while McDowell does all the sleuthing is kind of funny to me. The last half hour is a real let down btw. Again after that first half hour, I was thinking we're in for a semi decent suspense film (and we're getting a decent-ish travelogue here as well as McDowell is hopscotching from one country to another) but that last half hour loses so much steam that the ending came as a real disappointment to me.
Delta Heat (1992)
Pretty solid mismatched buddy cop movie overall even if you've seen it all before
Anthony Edwards comes to New Orleans from LA to investigate his partner's gruesome death down there. The killing matches the m.o. of a serial killer who seems to have died in an explosion years earlier but no body was ever found--dun dun dun.... Edwards is referred to the retired (and hook handed) detective who was chasing down said killer played by Lance Henriksen--does Lance want another chance to nail down that killer (who took his hand in the explosion that was supposed to have killed him???) What do you think???
A little humor here goes a long way towards making this one watchable. There's the usual cultures clashing stuff (Edwards being a slick LA cop complete with flashy clothes and coiffed hairstyle vs. Henriksen's swamp rat complete with a rat tail hair style to match--he lives on an abandoned property surrounded by swamp and alligators--he's very content being left alone til Edwards comes sniffing around) But Henriksen gets in some very choice one liners, and even the fisticuffs that break out between the two partners is well staged (because what's a good mismatched buddy cop movie if the two partners don't get into a giant fistfight at one point?) Its overall a very solid watch, with a somewhat decent-ish twist ending that the movie does a pretty good job of trying to trick you with (i had suspicions, but i was fine with it) Its too bad it didn't spawn a sequel because i absolutely would've watched another movie with these two teaming up for another crime.
The Hit List (1993)
watchable but fairly tedious.
Fahey is good here actually...the story's ok enough, its got all the classic ingredients of a solid film noir--its got a potential femme fatale, its got a decent enough boss character played by a great veteran actor (in this case James Coburn), its got a hero who is talked into murdering a guy who's giving a woman a lot of trouble....I just 100% described "Double Indemnity" which this movie is nowhere near the quality of...but for once its not the screenplay's fault so much as it is the pacing of the film...it is sloooow moving from plot point to plot point. Slow and rather somber too. A movie like this, i'm not asking for it to be funny but a couple of wry tossed off one liners here or there would've been very effective. Instead we get a lot of Fahey grimacing over him violating his own code. (Hmmm an assassin with his own moral code...where have i seen that before???) That said, its not terrible, if you stumble across it as I did, its worth a look if only for Fahey's very solid performance. (Coburn is good in his handful of scenes too, but unfortunately he's not really given much to do beyond look concerned and issue some ominous warnings about Fahey getting too close) Again its not a terrible movie, but its just too slowly paced for its own good. (I did like the jazz score to it tho, those opening credits are very engaging and seem to promise a better movie largely due to that score)
I really enjoyed it but....
Its every single cop movie cliche in existence...but Dennis Hopper is pure entertainment here. The plot is Hopper's trying to get the guys who kill his partner in the first five minutes of the movie. There's apparently a hundred plus bad guys that Hopper has to go thru in order to find the responsible party. Along the way, you get to see Hopper do thinks like: he puts a bad guy's head into a big huge bowl of shrimp that he's gobbling down, at another point he runs to catch a bad guy who's climbed onto the back of an escaping truck and of course Hopper catches him and pulls him off the truck and beats the crap out of him. Oh and there's the scene where attacked by drive by gunfire while in the bathtub with his dog Hopper grabs his gun and runs out of his house after the bad guy while stark raving nude. (shrugs) I had fun watching it. Its a very enjoyable hour and a half if you like Hopper. (and who doesn't like Hopper come on now!!!) Also Keith David is in it and the end credits song is by Eddie Money! How can you go wrong??? You can't--He's Nails!!!!
The Naked Man (1998)
I like it but its more of a mixed bag than i had remembered it being.
Good but not great movie bears a lot of the hallmarks of a Coen Bros movie, particularly in the movie's tone which is semi comedic, semi serious. I can't really explain it, but the film really moves and feels like a Coen Bros film...but without the luster or shiny glossy veneer that the Coen Bros usually put on their films--No Country For Old Men aside. Michael Rappaport's character even seems to be right on the same wavelength as other leading characters in several of the brothers other films such as Tim Robbins in The Hudsucker Proxy or Brad Pitt's in Burn After Reading. All three kind of share this kind of dimly, upbeat world view that can't be shaken despite all the crap that keeps getting thrown at them by everyone around them....that is until they're completely shaken and their spirits completely crushed only to be reborn anew, which also happened to be the character arcs of the main characters in both The Hudsucker Proxy and Burn After Reading so this all tracks. In re-watching this movie tonight for the first time in a good decade plus, the real chief flaw in it is how underwritten, or i guess underwhelming Michael Jeter's villain is here. My memory of the movie had a more flamboyant villain and Jeter's character doesn't seem to be quite present enough to make as big an impression as he should in order to be the big bad guy that Rappaport must defeat. John Caroll Lynch fares a bit better as the Elvis like henchman, but his character also doesn't get much definition--but at least he gets some sequences in which he gets to properly snarl and be villainous, but without much by way of character definition, its hard to really care about either of the two bad guys here which kind of takes some of the sting out of the movie. I did really enjoy Rappaport's performance tho. He's not always so well regarded as an actor by people I know despite having been quite good in a fair number of films over the years, and between this and his excellent lead role in the film "Special" he's someone who honestly may be overlooked as an actor. The movie would not work at all if you didn't buy his shifts from happy go lucky to despondent to vindictive but he nails the role...and frankly his speech in the ring on "the evils of a crooked spine" should be better known in general. All that said, there are some serious flaws in here, but its worth a look especially if you're a fan of either wrestling gimmicks or Rappaport or just want a look at what a Coen Brothers movie would look and sound like without either brother at the helm.
Interesting but i think the plot gets away from it.
This movie starts out interesting enough. While its not really a plot or story driven film, there is at least a single story line that you can follow throughout the film. This woman who runs a media empire is looking for a new person that she can turn into a superstar through her various newspapers and TV channels...so she can of course boost circulation worldwide (!!!) for her empire. She finds what she thinks she's looking for in this seemingly carefree playboy played by a woman who is playing a man. (Not much is really made of the fact that the playboy is actually a woman because in the film the character is clearly supposed to be a man, with the normal appetites of a man, To me personally I thought the playboy looked a little bit like David Bowie, which i think had to be intentional right?) The playboy at first delights in the attention lavished upon him but predictably soon chafes at it and tries to come up with a plan to ditch the ever present media attention.
Along the way the playboy falls in love with an opera singer, oh and also the media baron tries to tutor the playboy to be more cultured, she tries to show him all the things in various cultures the world over, including deviant culture! (I think the media baron is trying to get photos of the playboy doing some sordid things so she can run those photos in her newspapers and well sell more newspapers) So that's the basic story of this two and a half hour film in a nutshell. There's a lot of interludes along the way of this story being told--there's a good half hour where its nothing but an opera being performed on the beach complete with the waves rushing behind the opera singers onto the stage where everyone is performing. (I should note here that the stage is a beach here) And there's a good long-ish half hour where the media baron is taking our playboy on a tour of what was supposed to be high culture but ends up being a decadent descent into various scandalous deviant cultures--but and this is where the film gets away from me, apparently this is where the playboy starts to reveal that he's unhappy with the way things have been going for him, that he's suddenly not happy with the constant attention, and there's a bit of existentialist ennui happening here among a backdrop that reminds me a bit of something out of a Samuel Beckett play (specifically the play "Endgame") (Who am I if i'm not the constant object of the photographers' cameras?) Again its OK enough.
I think whether or not the film manages to hold your attention will depend on how long you're willing to ride with the imagery...since the imagery is really the chief selling point of the film. Its interesting to speculate that this film was made in 1984, before the ever present eye of the media really went into hyper speed in today's 24/7 culture, but its not necessarily interesting enough to warrant two and a half hours of your time or attention. So really your mileage for all of this will vary greatly. I thought it was OK, the time actually went by quickly enough, but i also didn't feel like i had just seen a particularly great movie at the end of it. I suppose its worth seeing overall if you're a fan of oddball German cinema.
The Dark Tower (2017)
Very average/generic on the whole, but not the train-wreck people are making it out to be
Caught an advanced screening of this earlier tonight (it opens tomorrow night officially) and while it wasn't particularly good, i thought it was OK enough in that it was watchable (the pacing of the film is all right enough) and that Idris Elba was good as The Gunslinger and while he's very, very dry and laconic which he's of course supposed to be, he give what I thought was an effective performance on the whole. (and honestly even the actor who played the kid who is in fact the narrative focal point of the movie is fine enough, he's not terrible) (McCounaghey is effectively evil with his constant deadpan, but its not really much of a role for him, he's kind of just there but he's OK in the part.)
There are to be sure a lot of flaws in the film. Just a lot of things in the film could have been better on the whole...BUT it should be said that while a lot of people will probably hate this film or try and make it out to be one of the worst of the year, it was not nearly that bad, its not Battlefield Earth level quality here. It just wasn't all that good either. Quality wise on the whole i would say the film is like right in that middle ground area there where you can shrug your shoulders and say it was all right i guess and then you go right ahead and pick it apart with your friend afterwards (which is more or less what I did)
But again I thought it was watchable enough despite its drawbacks as a whole but if you really need to know, the effects fall more than a little on the chintzy side (my friend said the effects budget seemed like it was rather limited) and that the grand epic fight scene that the film should have been building up to falls a good ways short of being epic. (same friend said that this actually falls in line with the ending of the first novel saying as how that first novel's ending was also pretty anti climactic) But end fight scene aside, i can imagine this film airing on a regular basis on basic cable either on Syfy or TNT and people watching it again and again in that way will probably be right in line with the quality level of the film. Bottom line--its all right enough for a night out with friends, but its also really not worth the effort of going out too as well if going out requires much of an effort. Its not all that great, but it wasn't terrible either...it was average...quite average.
I say this as someone who never read the books, however if you have read the books, I really, really hope you don't go in with sky high expectations. Since I haven't read the books can i state here that i thought the film played like a greatest hits collection of Stephen King's past works? You got a little bit of The Shining here, you got a little bit of The Stand there, mix and stir and serve! again i'm not saying it was bad, but the books had to be better than that right? I got a friend who is obsessed with the books and is dreading seeing this, so I'm kind of nervous what his reaction will end up being although I think I can predict it'll be on the negative side. But even with that i hope he'll at least think that Idris Elba was decent enough...at least i'll try and argue that.
Sueño en otro idioma (2017)
Very interesting first half leads to so-so second half, but i still thought it was a good idea.
Saw this film at the very last minute without knowing a thing about it beyond the one or two line description that the cashier gave me at the theater showing it. I was standing there and it was about to start, and I asked what's it about--and her response was enough to make me hand money over to see it at literally a moment's notice, so you know you got an interesting idea if your brief synopsis is interesting enough to hook someone like that. (Basically two people who hate each other are the last two people on Earth to speak this one language and this linguist who's interested in preserving the language has to somehow convince these two men to start speaking to one another again which of course isn't easy)
The film follows this guy who is very interested in trying to preserve this rapidly dying language in the very photogenic San Isidro area of Mexico. There are at the film's beginning only three people in the world who speak this particular dialect, and so the guy who is a linguist tries his best to record what he can of it, and possibly try and learn a handful of words himself to try and keep the language alive as it was, and these two other people who make up the last people on Earth who speak this language are former best friends who have not spoken to one another in over 50 years, and bear a huge grudge against one another for reasons that will eventually be made clear during the course of the movie. Meanwhile our leading man ends up starting a relationship with the granddaughter/caretaker of one of these two men, and the two of them plot together to try and unite these two former friends so as to try and preserve what they can of the dying out language. Its a cute enough premise, and as a backdrop to a love story for the linguist and the granddaughter its not a half bad love story as well.
The imagery of this movie is very good, and the way the material is presented at first made me think we might be getting some sort of off beat comedy along the lines of Aki Kurismaki or Jim Jarmusch, but the film's tone quickly veers more towards the melodramatic than humorous as the film's main story-line gets going. Its an OK film on the whole, and I think if people can embrace the metaphysical aspects of the film's big climactic sequence, they might end up enjoying the film's last half hour a bit more than I did. I wasn't prepared for the film to veer into the metaphysical the way it did, although I appreciated it, it reminded me a little bit of the TV series "Northern Exposure" in that sense, in fact the whole premise itself was very "Northern Expsoure" like which may in fact be what made me decide to see it just on a sheer moment's notice. (about that shift into metaphysical--without giving anything away i'll just say that the film's depiction of what happens to the dying as they um lay dying was interesting to contemplate afterwards, it'd be nice to think that that's what happens! I thought it was neat, but it doesn't quite track with the literal way the story was presenting itself in that first hour or so...but still i give the film credit for at least changing itself up in a unique way.)
I do look forward to seeing what the writer/director of this does in the future tho, there are some sequences here that are very beautifully shot, and i think the scenery is just very, very well captured. Its worth checking out if you get the chance to see it, but well like I said, after a great first half or so, i think the film veers into melodrama terrain, and i think the film kind of writes itself into a corner at one point, like after the big reveal is revealed, I wasn't entirely sure where the film was left to go to, but its still more than interesting enough to hold your attention or fancy (as in flight of) on the whole.
No Place to Hide (1992)
Kristofferson tries to give it some feeling, but the script is awful
Watched this because a friend of mine is a huge Kristofferson fan and had never even heard of this one so I thought i'd give it a shot. Yeah, there's a good reason neither of us had heard of it before, as it is so very not worth watching. Everything about this movie you have seen before, most likely on TV in an episode of some crime show. The only thing even remotely interesting here is unfortunately seeing O.J. Simpson in a wheelchair. He gets one very brief scene where he gets to convey his feelings about being confined to a wheelchair after being a football star, (he literally shrugs off his grief immediately after his dramatic monologue by saying "hey its no big deal") and then he gets to save Drew Barrymore from two guys with guns who are trying to break into the safe house where he's guarding her. (he dispatches one guy with a mallet!) I'm making this sound a lot more entertaining than it is, its really dreary. Its not even so bad its fun, its just dull and plodding. Kristofferson has lost his wife and daughter in a car accident years before the present and he gets a flashback scene where he gets to act out his rage that may be the one effective scene he has in the film. The rest of the time he's just barely holding himself awake enough to get through his scenes. Its not good.
Poodle Springs (1998)
Really good up to a point, Caan is surprisingly excellent tho.
This is a very engaging detective movie, very well filmed, almost beautiful looking at times. The story did a good job grabbing my interest right away, and before too long I was happily engaged in the story being told, and wanting to see where it was going to go. There are a couple of good twists in the story, and you really have to be on your toes to remember which character is which person. The only real disappointment is the way the case wraps up. The wrap up of the case is not very well thought out, but you know that's kind of a minor complaint given that it happens an hour and twenty something minutes into the film, and honestly its not like the ending of the story takes away from the enjoyment I had following James Caan around as he investigates various leads.
Its a somewhat old fashioned, downbeat, detective film too. This could've very easily been made in the 70's alongside Chinatown and The Long Goodbye and I think it can stand proudly alongside them (even if its not as amazing as those two films) in terms of looks, style, and tone Also in its lead actor. James Caan is not someone whom I don't think was ever actually cast as a detective/noir character before, and its a wonder why because he actually fits the role beautifully. Its surprisingly good work from him because i would've never thought of him as being someone who could make a good old school shamus, and yet he's very effective. He's also excellently downbeat in the part too.
Its well worth watching should you catch it somewhere. Oh yes and Dina Myer is excellent as Caan's/Marlowe's new bride who's a society dame trying to see where she fits into his world.
77 Sunset Strip: The Fanatics (1960)
this wasn't a very good episode. (No Kookie at all!) but i feel like i should write a review just to offer a corrective to the one other user comment here, because that user comment seems to be describing a completely different episode. This one has Bailey going to the Middle East to play security guard to a person that he somehow knows. Unfortunately the guy ends up getting killed/blown up in a sneak attack that took even Bailey by surprise. Bailey then spends the rest of the episode trying to find the culprit, and subsequently end up defusing another bomb set to explode at another specific time and location. (I don't think i'm giving anything away to say that he finds a suspect who is at first unwilling to talk, but is then shown by Bailey how expendable the person he's trying to protect the identity of really sees him to be which gets him to give the location of the other bomb. BTW this suspect is played by Bert Convy!) I've been really digging getting to see the run of this show on METV every weeknight at 4 in the morning, but this was one of a handful of episodes that i would put in the blah category, meaning there was no real mystery to it, the suspense wasn't that suspenseful because there's no real question as to whether or not Bailey is going to get his man/defuse the bomb. And there's no interplay like at all with any of the show's usual cast of characters. The whole thing is Bailey, with a brief appearance by Roscoe at the very beginning. Ehh. "Attic" the previous episode was much, much, much better! (That was actually suspenseful!)
Solidly engaging film may leave you with a couple of questions after its over, but Hathaway and Sudekis do terrific work
Attended a preview screening of this courtesy of a friend the other night with zero idea of what the movie was about so imagine to my surprise that it was a wry take on a Godzilla movie but with a seriously intriguing and rather perplexing narrative hook. If you're reading this right now, you're either deciding whether to see this, or you've already seen this and are looking for opinions on what other people thought.
Without spoiling anything I'll just say that i thought the director (who also wrote the script) does an impressive job of keeping you into the story being told, and just slightly off track as to what's around the bend story wise. There were a couple times watching this where I thought i knew where the story was going to go, but ended up being somewhat off the mark. As the movie kept going I also started to wonder how the heck the director was going to bring this thing to a satisfying ending, and the answer to that question was with a fantastic climactic sequence that i very much liked watching unfold but didn't quite hit the mark in terms of satisfying to me, but somehow still felt quite right in keeping in tone with what we had been watching the whole time.
So basically i'm just saying--its worth checking out but with some slight reservations about the story as it unfolded. (I personally thought the big reveal about the origins of the monster's appearance was a little too symbolic and mystical and out of the blue, but other people might like how its explained)
All that said, the main concept of the movie i thought was pretty superb, and I thought Anne Hathaway in a kind of role we rarely if ever see her play was excellent and does a tremendous job in a very difficult role. If you don't like her, you'll end up hating the movie because she is a very large component of the movie. I thought even tho her character is aimless, she did a terrific job of keeping her likable throughout, even when you're kind of cringing at some of the decisions she makes on screen. Similarly, i thought the performance of Jason Sudekis was also surprisingly good. He starts out the film the way you normally see him in films, as the seemingly good hart-ed, wry, slightly bumbling slob, but as the story unfolds and he gradually starts to change those very qualities ever so subtly, it may not be til very late in the film or possibly thinking about it on the way home that you realize how strong a job he did as well playing opposite Hathaway. (Dan Stevens for the record has a very smallish part so if you're going to see this specifically for him, you might be disappointed)
In closing i'll just say that if you already know the premise to the film and are wondering whether or not its for you, I'll just say that if you like slightly out there premises, you should check this out because overall despite again some narrative choices I might not have been too crazy about, i thought it was a very solidly engaging movie, and for what its worth, I didn't think it was too strange to appeal to people who think that this may be too far out there for their comfort zones/slightly more mainstream tastes.
Le cavaleur (1979)
Very entertaining tho fluffy and somewhat familiar tale
Movie is about a very successful concert pianist, very well respected in his field, who is also an unabashed woman chaser. He cannot help but chase after any beautiful young co-ed who happens to capture his attention. Yet the man is not a cad by any means. He loves his wife, he loves his kids, he even has a great deal of affection for his ex-wife, and yet he cannot keep himself from constantly chasing after, and I mean completely throwing himself into his pursuit of whatever young woman happens to catch his eye. I should add that women are far from the only things he throws himself into the pursuit of, The man seems to be in a constant state of motion, forever making plans, and then pulling out of them at the drop of a hat because something more exciting came along. There's a running joke that the movie opens on and keeps coming back to where the man has just seemingly forgotten or abandoned plans to take his current mistress out to a ski vacation, the movie opens with her coming off of a train and asking the conductor if he's seen this man and when she gets a no lugs her skis off the train and around with her for at least half of the movie while she tries to track him down. Its a pretty good visual reminder of how frequently this man changes his mind and his plans often at the expense of those immediately around him.
Clearly the man is heading for a reckoning of sorts, and in the back half of the film, he certainly ends up getting it as he heedlessly falls head over heels in love with a much younger woman yet again and is disheartened to find out how badly out of shape he is (she's an avid jogger and he tries desperately to take it up just to be able to chat with her) and how he's almost zero competition for the more strapping in shape men the younger woman's age. He also gradually comes to realize that his wife with whom he is absolute in love with to be sure, has been thinking of carrying on her own string of affairs similar to him, and he has to gradually realize that his actions while almost consistently done without any malice or conscious thought really do affect the people in his life whom he actually does care about. Its his ex-wife who has to point that out to him a couple of times, before it finally sinks in coming back to his own home and seeing his current wife about to go out with a lawyer and having to shake the guy's hand before they go out.
I might not be selling this movie well, but its all done in a rather light-heart-ed style. The key to all of this aside from the constant motion is that Jean Rochefort never comes across as slimy or hateful or as a heartless bastard, but rather he comes across as more of an overgrown puppy who has to learn to slow down and appreciate what he has lest he lost it for good. Its a tricky tone to pull off, because you're supposed to feel sympathy for the guy after all and there are plenty of people out there who won't just because of how mindless he is of the people in his life, but I thought the movie worked very well specifically because of the light heart-ed and largely comedic tone. Its more of a screwball comedy than something meant to be taken seriously, but his change of heart in the last half hour is no less dramatic because of the lightness that came before. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Not very good, but interesting enough to be worth a look if you like any of Cox's previous movies
Peter Boyle stars as a cop dressed in a very bright blue suit who is convinced that this murder he is assigned to investigate is the work of this elaborate conspiracy. The murder is of an older Torah scholar rabbinical student who is convinced he found the 9th name of God (or was it the 10th?) and while Boyle's partner (dressed in a very Dick Tracey like bright yellow suit) whom while also serving as the film's narrator is quite happy to write off the murder as a random break-in/wrong time-wrong place type of case.
Boyle becomes more and more determined to prove that this murder is the work of this cabal of murderers desperate to keep the name secret and hidden. Boyle basically goes off the deep end here becoming increasingly stubborn in his urgent cries of conspiracy here. (At one point looking at a map of three seemingly unrelated murders--he draws a triangle connecting all three points, and then proceeds to draw another point and declares it a rhomboid, which the sheer force of him declaring that statement made me laugh quite a bit--"Its Not A Traingle, Its A Rhomboid!")
He's aided by an article writer played by Christopher Eccleson (for the Hebrew press no less! some kind of newsletter specifically for the Orthodox) who is very interested in seeing where Boyle goes with his investigation, but also doesn't seem to think that there's anything here realistically, but he's not gonna let his own skepticism stand in the way of a potentially good story. If anything, he can at least write a news article about Boyle's determination to see this investigation thru despite the thinnest of leads beyond his own gut. This movie is not good by a long shot. (The case really never does actually amount to anything more than Peter Boyle being very fervent in his belief that it will lead to something, and even then its kind of hard to decipher his thought process so that it makes logical sense.)
The movie to the director's credit is also never boring, and it never lags. To me the film sustained its interest level throughout, but its also the kind of movie you watch late at night on TV and the next day wonder if you had possibly fallen asleep watching it because some of the details of it are so bizarre, they couldn't have possibly been in the movie itself right? Surely, you must have fallen asleep at some point and are remembering bits of a dream you had while this was on in the back round. I having seen this in a theater can assure you that it was in fact the movie and not you.
That said, for everything that was interesting about the movie (including a very unusual set design) the ending of it is fairly lousy, and I have no idea if that's a fault of the short story its based on, or if that's because writer/director Alex Cox didn't do enough to set it up beforehand. Oh well. Everything up to then was still engaging enough that i'd say if you like purposefully oddball detective movies, you could do worse than this. (It might make an interesting double bill with 1992's "The Plague" which based on an Albert Camus novel was similarly interesting an adaptation set in a third world nation but also somewhat disappointing as a whole)
Driving Me Crazy (1991)
Pleasant enough but nowhere near as great as i remember it being when i was a kid
This was a movie that I used to get a kick out of checking out of the video store when I was a kid because I remember finding it so very, very oddball. Its about an East German scientist that invents a car that can run on vegetables (and can run up to 200 miles per hour doing so!) He comes to L.A. to try and sell the invention to a businessman and try and make some money to save his hometown which is about to be bought out by a rich industrialist and turned into a factory town or something like that. Almost as soon as he comes to L.A. the car gets stolen by none other than the mean detention giving vice principal from the Back To The Future films. (the rest of the movie is mostly made up of his and Billy Dee's attempts to get the car back)
Re-watching it again tonight for the first time in what had to be like at least 17 or 18 years (I bought the VHS of this from a CVS pharmacy sometime in either 97, or 98 from what I remember and hadn't played it since and was eager to see it again with a friend of mine who wanted me to try and find some of the more obscure movies in my VHS collection--why? because obscure movies are awesome!) I realized that the movie wasn't nearly as oddball or as inventive as I had originally thought. Its basically kind of a German take on "Young Einstein" where a wacky outsider stumbles or invents something astounding and then spends the movie trying to get the other people around him to comprehend the value of his invention. (and along the way he finds love and friendship and some hearty adventure as well)Seeing as how I very much loved Young Einstein when I was a kid, its not that big a leap to see why I liked this one as well, since the two movies seem to have quite a bit in common humor wise at least in the first 20 minutes before the scientist comes to America.
It was interesting watching it again, I honestly quite enjoyed the set up of the film in the small East German town, and I enjoyed seeing Dom Deluise looking like he was having fun hamming it up in his villainous role when he turns up, which he doesn't until the last half of the movie. Meanwhile, Billy Dee Williams while commanding a screen presence as always does not appear to be enjoying himself as much, but i'm not sure if that's him or if that's the role he was playing--which was more of a straight man to the wacky German. There was one scene tho where he takes over as auctioneer at the auction that has people bidding on the vegetable car--and he's trying to describe how fast the car can run--and well its hard sometimes to not wanna make a Star Wars reference when it would seem to really fit the scene.
Anyways I was surprised that the movie wasn't nearly as much fun as I thought it was when I was 10 or 11, but there were moments where I was really happy to be seeing it again for the first time in a long time. Moments such as the random Super Mario Bros. 3 references, or the Bart Simpson T-Shirt the German sports in an effort to look more American..or of course his attempt at a street name "M.C. Schmidt" (rolls eyes) No if you can allow yourself to enjoy silliness, you might enjoy it, but its also no Collision Course if oddball humor that happens while cultures clashing is what you seek. (Collision Course--aka Pat Morita and Jay Leno's version of Rush Hour from the mid 80's) I'd also like to say for the record that the friend I watched the movie with tonight kept asking throughout the entire movie why the scientist doesn't just try to rebuild the car himself rather than chase all around L.A trying to get it back. The ending while I won't spoil it here basically came down to that very question ironically enough meaning my friend even while more than half asleep was able to accurately predict what was the one thing in the movie that needed to be answered before the movie could successfully end. I gotta give him credit here, he was dozing off pretty soundly in the last half hour but he got the main flaw of the movie right off the bat without missing a beat!
Also what the heck was Milton Berle doing in this movie? Did he owe someone a favor or something? His part is so thankless too--he plays a hotel manager who refuses to budge from his spot at the front desk while an earthquake is going on. That's the former king of TV ("MR. TV" himself in this movie, and what is he even doing here?!?!?!?)
Free State of Jones (2016)
Solid and engaging enough movie, but also a bit overlong.
Interesting film, starts out really, really well, nicely setting up why main character Newton Knight felt the way he did about fighting in the Civil War and why he felt like he had no choice but to run away. Those early battle scenes followed by the scenes of him back at home and seeing how terrible life is for the women at home were very effective at setting a mood for the rebellion that he's going to lead...and it did a really good job I think drawing you into the movie itself.
Indeed the scenes that immediately follow of Knight on the run, hiding out in the swamp land with runaway slaves while being joined by fellow former Confederate soldiers who also felt like they had no choice but to run from the War and resist fighting in the name of the South were very interesting in setting up the contrast between Knight's position that all men are equal including escaped slaves and various other white soldiers who even hiding out from the Confederacy still nursed hatred and prejudice for the slaves that were alongside them hiding out in the swamp lands (and eventually in the town that became the Free State of Jones)
It was an interesting dynamic, and the first half of the film I thought really did a good job of playing up that idea both dramatically and cinematically. Unfortunately the second half of the film was less effective at dramatizing the ideas they wanted to get across. It was still an interesting movie I thought, certainly different enough than the usual Civil War set stories that we usually see on film, but once The Civil War ends and we spend a half hour (if not more) seeing how the various citizens who made up the Free State of Jones essentially disassemble, the movie kind of starts to lose focus a bit.
Now that last half hour or so was still interesting to me, but it didn't seem to be as tightly focused as the half that the move spent following Knight and his men during the Civil War itself and how they managed to defy the Confederacy and the various regiments and troops sent to roust them. There are various things happening as Knight seeks to keep the movement that he started during the war going but the movie's point that the white folk who were on Knight's side during the war wanted to move on with their lives and didn't want to bother themselves by standing up alongside Knight (despite Knight's best efforts) for the rights for former slaves to vote freely while well made, didn't seem to resonate as strongly as the movie's other points.
All in all it was still a more interesting movie than I honestly thought it would be going in--I kind of thought from the ads for it that it was going to be yet another dull historical film, but there were honestly some very interesting ideas in here that got me into the story of the film, and kept me interested in where the story of the film was going to go after the war itself ended.
On the other hand, its no "Glory" or "Gettysburg" or "Little Big Man" in terms of civil war set films that are gripping and incredibly well told but its still a fairly solidly put together enough film on its own and worth checking out if you're even slightly interested in the subject matter--uneven last half hour included.