Monday, December 11, 2017

The X from Outer Space (1967)

Original title: Uchu Daikaiju Girara

Director: Kazui Nihonmatsu

Writers: Moriyoshi Ishida, Eibi Motomochi, Kazui Nihonmatsu

Composer: Taku Izumi

Starring: Eiji Okada, Shun'ya Wazaki, Itoko Harada, Peggy Neal, Franz Gruber, Mike Daneen, Shin'ichi Yanagisawa, Keisuke Soni

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What Is This Monstrous THING?

Plot: The spaceship AAB-Gamma is dispatched from FAFC headquarters in Japan to make a landing on the planet Mars and investigate reports of UFOs in the area. As they near the red planet, they encounter a mysterious UFO that coats the ship's hull with unusual spores. Taking one of the specimens back to earth, it soon develops and grows into a giant chicken-lizard-alien monster that tramples Japan.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Giant monster movies from Japan with a man in a rubber suit usually sound like fun until you force yourself to watch them from start to finish.  The monster action destroying cities, tanks, planes et al is the best part.  The human crap is just filler, killing time to get to the monster action.  This one's not much different except it benefits from have a lot of outer space stuff at the beginning.  The model work is cool. Most people would find it corny but I've got a soft spot for that stuff.  The music for this picture is uncharacteristically groovy.  It's so different than the usual fare you'd think it wouldn't work but I liked it because of that.  The English dub was good so there's that.  These types of movies were such a part of my childhood growing up in the 70s when they were only shown on TV with an English dub that I prefer seeing these goofy movies with that.  Nostalgia is a helluva thing.

Paul Williams Still Alive (2011)

Director: Stephen Kessler

Writer: Stephen Kessler

Starring: Paul Williams, Colin Reboy, Stephen Kessler

More info: IMDb

Plot: A documentary about legendary songwriter and 70's icon Paul Williams.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Am I the only one who thinks the title is kind of insulting?  Well, being a lifelong fan of Williams from his music, his funny appearances with Johnny Carson and his hilarious role in SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT (1977) I enjoyed the walk down memory lane and catching up with Williams and seeing the guy doing what he wants.  The problem is that this is more about the director's fondness for Williams and wanting to befriend him than the other stuff.  It's borderline obsessive.  Williams was annoyed by it ans so was I.  Kessler was persistent and after a few years Williams let him get closer.  It's a weird film but there's some entertainment value if you stick with it. 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Homefront (2013)

Director: Gary Fleder

Writers: Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Logan

Composer: Mark Isham

Starring: Jason Statham, James Franco, Izabela Vidovic, Kate Bosworth, Marcus Hester, Clancy Brown, Winona Ryder

More info: IMDb

Tagline: How far would you go to protect your home?

Plot: Phil Broker has had enough of the demanding duties of a DEA agent. He brings his young daughter to a small town, looking for a quiet life. But people in this town, as he learns, don't easily forgive any past transgressions-- such as when his daughter fights off a bully at school. This attracts the wrath of the bully's uncle, a meth cooker and dealer, and his gang. Things become dicier when people involved in the last major bust he participated in, track him to the small town.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It looks good I guess.  I've never disliked a Statham performance.  He tends to play the same type of tough guy role but I really dig what he brings to it.  He kicks a lot of ass and that's satisfying.  James Franco seems too cleaned up in his role.  I'd rather have someone more menacing and outright dangerous as Gator.  It's a decent action revenge flick but don't go out of your way to see it unless you're a Statham completist like me.

The Thin Blue Line (1988)

Director: Errol Morris

Writer: Errol Morris

Composer: Philip Morris

Starring: Randall Adams, David Harris, Gus Rose, Jackie Johnson, Marshall Touchton, Dale Holt, Sam Kittrell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A softcore movie, Dr. Death, a chocolate milkshake, a nosey blonde and "The Carol Burnett Show." Solving this mystery is going to be murder.

Plot: A film that successfully argued that a man was wrongly convicted for murder by a corrupt justice system in Dallas County, Texas.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Randall Adams was convicted of murdering a police officer in Dallas, TX in 1976, a murder he did not commit.  This is Texas, dealing with a corrupt police force, a faulty system and a District Attorney prosecuting Adams who is notoriously known for wanting the death penalty.  I can't believe it's been nearly thirty years since its release that I finally get around to this.  It made a big splash when it came it.  It's very good.  It grabs you by the short and curlies from the start and doesn't let go.  Philip Glass's score underlies the gravity of the story to make it almost soothing.  It's a must for true crime fans but you've probably already seen it. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Snowpiercer (2013)

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Writers: Bong Joon Ho, Kelly Masterson, Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, Jean-Marc Rochette

Composer: Marco Beltrami

Starring: Chris Evans, Song Kang Ho, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Tilda Swinton, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner, Ko Ah-Sung

More info: IMDb

Tagline: AD 2031: the passengers in the train are the only survivors on Earth.

Plot: Set in a future where a failed climate-change experiment kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, where a class system emerges.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah.

It's a weird, if not completely ridiculous and silly, premise but it's a fun action flick with some neat set pieces.  I liked it enough but not like it the rest of the planet who's gone gaga over it.  The performances were good and there's some great, violent action in close quarters but there were so many cars go pass through to get to the end, like a linear video game, that I was ready for the big bad boss at the end.  Maybe I was down in the dumps or something when I saw it because everyone else I know went apeshit over it.  I'll watch it again someday.  It didn't help that by the time I saw this the years of hype was off the charts.

Desperado (1995)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Writer: Robert Rodriguez

Composer: Los Lobos

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Cheech Marin, Steve Buscemi, Carlos Gomez, Quentin Tarantino, Tito Larriva, Angel Aviles, Danny Trejo

More info: IMDb

Tagline: He came back to settle the score with someone. Anyone. EVERYONE.

Plot: A gunslinger is embroiled in a war with a local drug runner.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This is Robert Rodriguez's big screen follow-up to his breakout smash, EL MARIACHI (1992).  It's part remake and part sequel but with a budget and some familiar names and faces in the cast.  Like his other work, it's fun.  It suffers from a little drag here and there around the 2/3 mark but it's not going to get in the way of a very fun ride with Mexico's newest action hero, El Mariachi!  The characters are fun, the acting is right where it needs to be and the humor is a hoot.  It also appears that everyone involved with this picture had a blast making it.  It's that kind of action movie. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Forensic Firsts (2012) TV series

Starring: Erik Thompson

More info: IMDb

Plot: DNA Profiling. Toxicology. Ballistics. Today's criminal investigators employ powerful scientific tools to catch bad guys. But where did they come from and how do they really work?

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This is similar to the excellent show, THE FORENSIC FILES, but it focuses on crimes that had a significant impact in future investigations.  It's good like FF but it's not as compelling.  It doesn't try to be.  It spends less time on the crimes and more time on the forensic process and the challenges that were faced.  And this show didn't only tackle serial killers or crimes of murder.  It touched on other types of crimes that forensics played a major role in solving.  For forensic nuts like me this is pure candy.  It only ran for two seasons with a total of thirteen one hour episodes.