Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Enemy (2001)

Director: Tom Kinninmont

Writers: Desmond Bagley, John Penney

Composer: Gast Waltzing

Starring: Luke Perry, Olivia d'Abo, Roger Moore, Horst Buchholz, Tom Conti, Hendrick Haese, Louisa Milwood-Haigh, James Carroll Jordan, Bruce MacEwen, Guido Molinaro

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  A family secret. A government cover-up.

Plot: A CIA agent and a geneticist battle to keep a deadly biological weapon from falling into the wrong hands when the weapon's inventor is kidnapped.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I was in the mood for some Roger Moore.  Netflix is piss poor in carrying his films but this is one of the two or so non-Bond pictures on Netflix Moore made and it's just awful.  He's good but the rest of the cast has moments of over-acting or just plain bad performances.  The thing is they're all capable of doing better but here it's as if they were told to cartoon it up for the folks who don't know what the word 'subtle' means.  I can't blame them too much as the dialogue and situations are often silly and hokey.  It's amateurish all the way around from in front of the camera to behind it and beyond to the point that some of it will make you laugh unintentionally.  There's nothing thrilling or interesting about it and everything smacks of 'we've got $100 k to make a picture with and if we don't spend it within 30 days we'll lose it'.  Put this in the category of things that shouldn't exist.  Don't waste your time.  I only finished it because I always hope that something will ultimately redeem it and because it's got Roger Moore.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Inside the American Mob (2013)

Director: Ryan Miller (unkown episodes)

Writer: ???

Composer: ???

Starring: good guys and bad guys

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Documentary film about the Italian Mafia and their organised crime activities in USA, mainly New York, between the '60's to mid '90's. Well documented with plenty of interviews and original footage. Story told by ex-members of Mafia, FBI agents and prosecutors at that time, cops and journalists. It explains how they functioned, the rule of omerta, which five families ruled New York and how; and also how the FBI and US government managed to dismantle them after 30 years of the crime syndicate being untouchable. Listen to what Rudy Giuliani, Joseph D. Pistone aka 'Donnie Brasko' and many others had to say about it.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

WOW!!!  I caught this on Netflix streaming and I couldn't stop watching, going through all six episodes (around 270 minutes total) in twelve hours.  It's fascinating.  What you get is a great overview of the height of the NYC Mafia's control from the 1970s through the monumental trail in the 80s that saw a multitude of convictions including the heads of the five families to the continued decimation into the early 90s.  There are countless personal stories of the crime life from those who committed it as well as fantastic tales of how the good guys used their brains to bring them down.  If you're into this sort of thing then this is a must watch, no doubt about it.  Hearing about the 6 years of deep undercover work by Joe Pistone (AKA Donnie Brasco) is more fascinating than the Johnny Depp picture they made.  And what's better is you get to hear it from the man who made one of the biggest contributions to bringing the mob to their knees.  I can't recommend this series enough.   And honestly, I was saddened when I realized there weren't more than 6 episodes.  I just wanted it to keep going.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


I know, I know...I've fallen off the blog wagon.  I'll be back soon to tackle this incredible stack of movies that have been piling up, waiting to be reviewed.  Soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Silver Streak (1976)

Director: Arthur Hiller

Writer: Colin Higgins

Composer: Henry Mancini

Starring: Gene Wilder, Jill Clayburgh, Richard Pryor, Patrick McGoohan, Ned Beatty, Clifton James, Ray Walston, Stefan Gierasch, Len Birman, Valerie Curtin, Lucille Benson, Scatman Crothers, Richard Kiel, Fred Willard

More info: IMDb

Tagline: By plane, by train, by the edge of your seat, it's the most hilarious suspense ride of your life!

Plot: On a long-distance train trip, a man finds romance but also finds himself in danger of being killed, or at least pushed off the train.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

I've known of this movie ever since it's theatrical release (granted, I was really young) and I finally watched it.  It's good.  Wilder makes a great lead in what's less comedy and more crime and thriller.  The dinner conversation between George (Wilder) and Hilly (Clayburgh) is wonderfully playful and sweet.  It's even better that the courtship takes its time and Hiller allows these two characters to relax and breathe.  The cast is wonderful.  There are all kinds of great character actors tossed into this picture.  It's playful but not all that funny until an hour in when Richard Pryor shows up.  The chemistry between Wilder and Pryor is magical.  These two guys together are great.  Just before they meet George (Wilder) has a run in with Sheriff Chauncey (Clifton James).  You'll remember James as the oafish Southern sheriff in LIVE AND LET DIE (1973) and THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974).  Unfortunately he's playing essentially the same character and it gets old and fast.  Then Pryor shows up and the funny really starts.  There's lots of action which culminates in a big gunfight escape by the bad guys. Henry Mancini's main theme is fun.  Overall I enjoyed it and I'm really surprised that it's taken nearly 40 years to see it.  The 20th Century Fox DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print but the only extras are anamorphic widescreen trailers for 7 flicks. 

The Missing (2003)

Director: Ron Howard

Writers: Thomas Eidson, Ken Kaufman

Composer: James Horner

Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Aaron Eckhart, Val Kilmer, Sergio Calderon, Eric Schweig, Steve Reevis, Jay Tavare, Simon Baker, Ray McKinnon

More info: IMDb

Tagline: How far would you go, how much would you sacrifice to get back what you have lost?

Plot: In 1885 New Mexico, a frontier medicine woman forms an uneasy alliance with her estranged father when her daughter is kidnapped by an Apache brujo.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I can't quite put my finger on why I'm not diggin' on this film.  The performances are fine I suppose.  Horner's score is mediocre (and I'm getting so tired of the pan flute showing up in every movie with Indians or Irish).  It could be the abundance of drama or that it feels like it's a half hour too long.  There's something about it that kept it from being compelling and enjoyable.  It's an OK picture but it was fatiguing to watch.  The scene near the end when Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett have their extended moment was nice.  You know, I think having a non-traditional sweeping Western score would have served the film better.  Ah.  I'm moving on.  The two-disc Columbia special edition DVD comes with a bunch of extras but I didn't bother to see what they are.  Maybe I'll get my two bucks back at a yard sale.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977)

Director: George Barry

Writer: George Barry

Composers: Ossian Brown, Mike McCoy, Stephen Thrower

Starring: Demene Hall, William Russ, Julie Ritter, Linda Bond, Patrick Spence-Thomas, Rosa Luxemburg, Dave Marsh, Ed Oldani, Dessa Stone, Marshall Tate, samir Eid, Fred Abdenour, Jock Brandis, Demene E. Hall

More info: IMDb

Plot: A bed possessed by a demon spirit consumes its users alive.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Oddly enough, yeah.

This picture has an interesting history.  Writer/director George Barry made this in 1973 and unsuccessfully shopped it around for distribution for years.  It gained a cult status from countless bootleg VHS tapes and it finally received an official DVD in 2004.  It's the only film Barry's ever made and that's a shame because it's pretty fun.  Yeah, it's campy but it's also got a great gimmick in the titular character.  There's some interesting and fun special effects for the bed devouring its victims.  The plot is pretty simple.  The spirit of a man lives in a painting on the wall.  He's our narrator who also talks to the bed.  He talks about how he designed the bed before he died and how it came to be. That's not even told at the beginning.  You have to watch it all to get the full story but that's the gist of it.  In between all of that is a series of people throughout the decades that come to the mansion and who subsequently get eaten.

There's nudity, gore and humor.  It's not a comedy, per se, but it's got elements of fun and the film makers are fully aware that this is for fun and not even they are taking it too seriously.  The effects, as I said earlier, are very good and I thought the story and everything wasn't all that bad.  I'm not going to take off the future menu just yet because I think I just might like it more the second time...after a few years.  You can watch the whole thing on YouTube above. 

Skidoo (1968)

Director: Otto Preminger

Writer: Doran William Cannon

Composer: Harry Nilsson

Starring: Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Fred Clark, Michael Constantine, Frank Gorshin, John Phillip Law, Peter Lawford, Burgess Meredith, George Raft, Cesar Romero, Mickey Rooney, Groucho Marx, Arnold Stang, Doro Merande, Phil Arnold, Slim Pickens, Richard Kiel, Harry Nilsson, Austin Pendleton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It takes two to skidoo.

Plot: Ex-gangster Tony Banks is called out of retirement by mob kingpin God to carry out a hit on fellow mobster "Blue Chips" Packard. When Banks demurs, God kidnaps his daughter Darlene on his luxury yacht.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Have you seen this?  It's awful and it's a bigger crime considering who's in front of and behind the camera.  I'd seen the trailer many times and I'd heard how bad it was for the past twenty plus years.  I always wondered, considering who made this, how could it be so bad.  Well, the short story is that it's wildly unfunny.  It's supposed to be a comedy but there's barely a laugh to be had.  The best parts for me were with Groucho Marx (his last film appearance).  It's a big clusterfuck of "how did this end up such a mess?"  There's plenty to read about the troubled production.  With a cast like this there's no talking me out of seeing it.  It's gonna happen.  Even though the movie doesn't work, I'm glad I saw it.  I'd love to check out a special edition DVD tricked out with loads of special features but I'll never need to see it again.  Woof.  It's a real head-scratcher.