Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Desk Set (1957)

Director: Walter Lang

Writers: Phoebe Ephron, Henry Ephron, William Marchant

Composer: Cyril J. Mockridge

Starring: Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill, sue Randall, Neva Patterson, Harry Ellerbe, Nicholas Joy, Diane Jergens, Merry Anders, Ida Moore, Rachel Stephens

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Make the office a wonderful place to love in!

Plot: The mysterious man hanging about at the research department of a big TV network proves to be engineer Richard Sumner, who's been ordered to keep his real purpose secret: computerizing the office. Department head Bunny Watson, who knows everything, needs no computer to unmask Richard. The resulting battle of wits and witty dialogue pits Bunny's fear of losing her job against her dawning attraction to Richard.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Cute movie.  Tracy and Hepburn are just magical together.  She's amazing with fast and witty dialogue and he's effortlessly smart and charming.  Now it's not a gut buster like some of their other comedies but there enough laughs to satisfy and it really is a cute movie.  The film has a naive, goofy look at computers but then again this was sixty years ago.  Newsflash!  Joan Blondell needs to have my babies.  You can tell this is based on a play.  It's almost entirely filmed on an office set.  Maybe some variety would spruce it up some but it doesn't matter.  It's the entire cast and dialogue that make this a fun little picture.  The 20th Century Fox DVD presents the film in anamorphic widescreen and it comes with a few extras with a commentary track with Dina Merrill and John Lee, a one minute portion of a vintage short "Designers Inspired for New Creations By Film Desk Set" and trailers for this film and THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH (both anamorphic widescreen), AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (non-anamorphic widescreen), ALL ABOUT EVE and THE GHOST AND MRS. MUIR (both in their original fullscreen).

The Punisher (1989)

Director: Mark Goldblatt

Composer: Dennis Dreith

Writer: Boaz Yakin

Starring: Dolph Lundgren, Louis Gossett Jr., Jeroen Krabbe, Kim Miyori, Bryan Marshall, Nancy Everhard, Barry Otto, Brian Rooney

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Punisher will be coming for you, if you break the law!

Plot:  When Frank Castle's family is murdered by criminals, he wages war on crime as a vigilante assassin known only as the Punisher.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

OK, so here's how you have to approach this movie.  I didn't realize it until I was well into it.  The dialogue is ridiculous and the acting is all over the place but it's mostly over the top.  So if you watch this knowing that you're watching a comic book movie then you're ahead of the game.  If you do that then you might have a lot more fun.  When I realized this, that's when I just let go and enjoy it.  On that level it's kind of fun.  If you take it seriously then you're in for a major disappointment.  I've seen the other two films and I like them better but it's nice to finally get around to this one and put it behind me.  The Artisan DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print with the only extra being the fullscreen trailer.

Monday, May 30, 2016

There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)

Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Writers: David Newman, Robert Benton

Composer: Charles Strouse

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith, John Randolph, Lee Grant, Arthur O'Connell, Martin Gabel, Michael Blodgett, C.K. Yank, Alan Hale Jr.

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Once upon a time, there was a crooked man. When he was good, he was very, very good. And when he was bad, it was murder...

Plot: A charming but totally ruthless criminal is sent to a remote Arizona prison. He enlists the help of his cellmates in an escape attempt with the promise of sharing his hidden loot.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


What the hell was this?   First of all the tone is fucked up.  Charles Strouse's score is inappropriately silly.  He hit the film scoring scene with BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967) so he's essentially known for more of a pop music score guy at this point.  It worked beautifully for B&C but not for this one.  My biggest issue with the picture is the odd tone.  If the filmmakers took it more seriously this could be a pretty damn good flick.  Hell, it's got a great friggin' cast.  Douglas is fun but he's also an asshole who's only out for himself.  The movie's just over two hours and a half hour from the end his escape plan is enacted.  During this several minute sequence the shit hits the fan and people die...to silly music.  And they die horrible.  It's pretty harsh and for some of them it's not cool how they snuff it.  Normally this wouldn't be an issue with me but the music contradicts the visual making me wonder if Strouse knew what the hell he was doing.  This is an instance where the score severely hurts the film.  I'm willing to bet that the right composer would've been able to make something much better out of this.  I can't blame the composer entirely.  There were other people involved that should've stepped in and done something about it.  Or it's possible that this is exactly what the director, producers and studio wanted.  The Warner Bros. DVD delivers a nice anamorphic widescreen print with 3 extras - a ten minute vintage making of featurette and the trailer for this film and one for THE DUKES OF HAZZARD: THE BEGINNING (both non-anamorphic widescreen).  Really?  The Dukes of fucking Hazzard straight to video movie?  I'm flummoxed.

Popeye (1980)

Director: Robert Altman

Writer:  Jules Feiffer

Composer: Harry Nilsson

Starring: Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley, Paul L. Smith, Richard Libertini, Donald Moffat, MacIntyre Dixon, Roberta Maxwell, Donovan Scott, Bill Irwin, Linda Hunt, Dennis Franz

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Haves a happy holiday wit me an' Olive!

Plot:  Popeye arrives in the seaside town Sweethaven in search of his long-lost father. Popeye finds that the town is governed by the pirate and big bully Bluto.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Nope.

Wow.  I haven't seen this since the theater 35 years ago.  I still remember some of the songs, the finale with the octopus fight and Pappy saying "haul ass" a lot.  And that's what I enjoyed on this viewing.  It's cute for kids.  The casting is spot on and the sets are amazing.  They did a fantastic job in recreating the world of Popeye but there's something missing that keeps this from being so much better than it is and I can't figure it out.  Maybe it needed to be more quickly paced or shorter.  Beats me.  One of the best bits for my money is the under the breath dialogue from Popeye.  It's just like it was in the old cartoons from the 40s.  I loved that about the original shorts.  It's a cute film but it's also somewhat of a misfire even if it's not all that bad.  The Paramount DVD sports a great looking anamorphic widescreen print with no extras. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Battlestar Galactica (1978)

Director: Richard A. Colla

Writer: Glen A. Larson

Composer: Stu Phillips

Starring: Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict, Lorne Greene, Herbert Jefferson Jr., Maren Jensen, Tony Swartz, Noah Hathaway, Terry Carter, Lew Ayres, Wilfrid Hyde-White, John Colicos, Laurette Spang, Jane Seymour, John Fink, Ray Milland, Ed Begley Jr., Rick Springfield, Patrick Mcnee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The super-reality of SENSURROUND takes you into an intergalactic war...Experience the sensation of laser beams, space explosions and battlestar attacks...all in Academy Award winning SENSURROUND.

Plot: After the destruction of the Twelve Colonies of Mankind, the last major fighter carrier leads a makeshift fugitive fleet in a desperate search for the legendary planet Earth.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I watched the show religiously when it first aired.  It was my weekly outer space fix until I could see another STAR WARS movie in the theaters.  It satisfied me then but I could see the difference in quality.  But these were the days before home video and that's how you took it.  The Ronald Moore reboot is utterly amazing.  It's one of the best shows front to back that's ever been.  Now I'm starting to go back to the original to see how it holds up.  As a show, it's still fun and I can appreciate it as an adult.  As a movie, it's obvious that this is a compilation of the first few episodes as there's a complete story shift halfway through.  It's because of this that it doesn't work as well as one that would've been written to last two hours long with one sustained plot.  This would work a lot better divided.  The Universal DVD presents the film in non-anamorphic widescreen.  It's a flipper disc so the extras are on the other side.  All you get is a behind the scenes look at the making of the video game, a sneak preview into the reboot mini series and three trailers for stuff you won't care about.  Really?  They put that crap on one side and omitted anything that has anything to do with the movie you bought?  Boneheads.

Harsh Times (2005)

Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Composer: Graeme Revell

Starring: Christian Bale, Freddy Rodriguez, Eva Longoria, Chaka Forman, Tammy Trull, J.K. Simmons, Michael Monks, Samantha Esteban, Tania Verafield, Noel Gugliemi, Adriana Millan, Geo Corvera, Cesar Garcia, Terry Crews

More info: IMDb

Plot:  A tough-minded drama about two friends in South Central Los Angeles and the violence that comes between them.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good flick.  The performances are good but it's hard to like Jim (Bale) as he's not a good person and he's very fucked up time bomb waiting to go off.  When he does, it's a tense ride until the end.  Freddy Rodriguez was great.  It's a difficult film to watch in that you want these characters to succeed but they're so screwed up in the way they haven't really grown up.  These two cats aren't good for each other.  They've got inflated dreams that will never come true and it's their fault and no one else's.  It's frustrating seeing people like that on or off the big screen. The Mirimax DVD has a few extras with 7 deleted scenes, a commentary with Ayers and 6 trailers in English and 4 in Spanish (nice touch).

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)

Director: Barry Levinson

Writer: Chris Columbus

Composer: Bruce Broughton

Starring: Nicholas Rowe, Alan Cox, Sophie Ward, Anthony Higgins, Susan Fleetwood, Freddie Jones, Nigel Stock, Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Earl Rhodes, Brian Oulton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Before a lifetime of adventure, they had the adventure of a lifetime.

Plot: When assorted people start having inexplicable delusions that lead to their deaths, a teenage Sherlock Holmes decides to investigate.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

I've been wanting to see this for thirty years and I only just got around to it.  Good flick.  The acting is wonderful, the story is compelling, the special effects (including the first CGI character) are great and Bruce Broughton's score is delightful and weighty.  I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish.  The production values and art design are fantastic.  It really gives you a sense of time and place and it puts you right in there with Holmes and Watson.  This is a high recommend.  I'm really surprised this film isn't better represented considering the quality and the talent in front of and behind (produced by Steven Spielberg et al) the camera.  The Paramount DVD has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print with not a single extra.

Two of a Kind (1951)

Director: Henry Levin

Writers: Lawrence Kimble, James Gunn, James Edward Grant

Composer: George Dunning

Starring: Edmond O'Brien, Lizabeth Scott, Terry Moore, Alexander Knox, Griff Barnett, Robert Anderson, Virginia Brissac

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They tried to draw the line .............. just this side of MURDER!

Plot:  A lawyer for a rich elderly industrialist works out a complex inheritance scam to pass off a con as the industrialist's long-lost son and claim the huge inheritance.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I like popping in pre-1960 crime/noir pictures without knowing anything about them beforehand.  They're rarely ever terrible and I generally dig them more often than not.  This one's on the short side (about 75 minutes) and it flies by seemingly faster than that.  Brandy (Scott) gets down to business once she starts working the man she's been tracking all over the U.S., Michael (O'Brien).  It starts to get serious and dark when she tells him he has to get the tip of his finger amputated before she'll give him the details of the caper.  That's a tall order.  Once you find out why it makes total sense and it seems like a good play.  Like a lot of good plans in these pictures, it doesn't go as expected.  I like the tone of the film until Kathy (Moore) enters and brings teenage optimism in to offset the darkness.  I could've done with less of her and more of the nastiness in the scheme but it's not something that ruins the film by any stretch.  Some might find the ending too optimistic as well.  I'm OK with it but it would be neat to see an alternate version that took the plan closer to completion and some folks ending up dead.  This is one of four films on the Bad Girls of Film Noir set from Columbia. The extras you get are a 7 minute interview with star Terry Moore (and she doesn't even mention this film until literally halfway in) and trailers for this film and the other film that shares this disc, THE KILLER THAT STALKED NEW YORK (1950).

Friday, May 27, 2016

Kull the Conqueror (1997)

Director: John Nicolella

Writer: Charles Edward Pogue

Composer: Joel Goldsmith

Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Tia Carrere, Thomas Ian Griffith, Litefoot, Roy Brocksmith, Harvey Fierstein, Karina Lombard, Edward Tudor-Pole, Douglas Henshall, Joe Shaw, Sven-Ole Thorsen, Terry O'Neill, Pat Roach

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Son of Conan

Plot: A barbarian warrior becomes a king when he defeats a king in armed combat and the king's heir conspire to overthrow him and reclaim the throne by resurrecting an evil sorceress.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

This picture shares a lot with the 80s CONAN & RED SONJA movies.  It was produced by the De Laurentis family and they're all based on characters created by Robert E. Howard.  This one feels at home in that world and it's got some reasonable fun.  The cast is fine but there's some cheesy acting sometimes.  Joel Goldsmith's score is fun and I really liked the rock guitar moments.  It's corny but it works.  The special effects run the spectrum from good to worse but the pacing is good and the filmmakers knew they weren't making art.  It really helps to watch this on the biggest screen possible and with a room full of people not afraid to goof on it.  It would've helped if this were rated R with more violence and throw in some nudity.  Sorbo looks great topless but so would some of the gals.  The Universal DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print but the only extra is the theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic widescreen).

Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980)

Director: Tommy Chong

Writers: Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin

Composer: Mark Davis

Starring: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Evelyn Guerrero, Betty Kennedy, Sy Kramer, Rikki Marin, Peter Bromilow, Paul 'Mousie' Garner, Shelby Chong, Michael Winslow, Rita Wilson, Paul Reubens, Edie McClurg

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Just what we all need! A really good hit!

Plot: The two stoners and their friends go through another series of crazy, drug-influenced misadventures.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I didn't laugh once but the funniest part of the film isn't in the film but on the movie poster that I just noticed.  "Read the JOVE Book".  There was a book?  HA!  I wanted to like this movie.  Hell, I like C&C.  Some of the shit on their comedy records is fucking hilarious.  Granted, I wasn't even a teenager when I first heard them but having heard some of it 30+ years later, it still holds up.  Fortunately this was one of those flicks I threw in the player to watch while I worked.  I still gave it my attention but I was astonished at how unfunny it was.  It's very disjointed as if it's a day in the wacky life of these guys. Let's face it, these two characters don't need a traditionally structured picture.  Stream of conscious style storytelling would work with these two but their attempt with this film falls heavy and flat.  I loved seeing Paul Reubens (looking very much like Pee Wee Herman) and Edie McClurg.  Hell, it was kind of cool seeing Michael Winslow do his thing but his scene seemed like it belonged inside of a talent show movie because that long scene was only there to show him off.  I couldn't believe how long this film went without getting so much as a smirk out of me.  If it was made with the intention of only being funny if you're stoned, then you could get the same result by bustin' out the reefers and watching Burger King training videos. The Paramount DVD comes with an anamorphic widescreen print (looking like a great 70s drive-in print) and devoid of any extras.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Red Sonja (1985)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Writers: Clive Exton, George MacDonald Fraser

Composer: Ennio Morricone

Starring: Brigitte Nielsen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, Paul L. Smith, Ernie Reyes Jr., Ronald Lacey, Pat Roach, Terry Richards, Janet Agren, Donna Osterbuhr, Sven-Ole Thorsen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Heroes of their time. For all time.

Plot: A vengeful woman sets out to retrieve a magic orb from an evil queen whom she vows vengeance upon after the evil queen slain her family and her loyal warriors raped her.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I watched this a dozen years ago for the first time and I hated it.  Last night I gave it another chance and it's not as bad as I remembered.  It's made by the same team behind the other Conan movies so the production values are pretty good.  The matte paintings and sets are great. Schwarzenegger isn't as fun as he was previously but he's not given much in the way of a speaking role.  His fight with Nielsen is fun and it gets better as it goes and they both tire and eventually give up to exhaustion.  Bergman (who played Valeria in the first CONAN picture) does a great job as the villain.  Her costume is neat.  There are a lot of familiar faces in this one and that adds to the fun.  Morricone's music is pretty good but there's a theme that's a little action-hokey and it gets played a few too many times.  So what's the problem?  Well, you can't completely blame Nielsen in the lead role.  Her look and acting aren't what they should be.  She's 6'1 but she looks too thin and lacks the build you'd expect for an expert warrior.  That aside, she's putting her all into the sword fights.  She really slings that sword like it's heavy and she aims to kill.  The swordplay in general is very good.  Even the women in the temple fight near the beginning are all hacking and slashing like they were made for it.  That was impressive. The story doesn't move as fast and it's not as fun as (I'm sure this had a much lower budget than) the two previous Conan pictures.  Don't pass it up because of the bad reviews but don't go in with raised expectations. 

The Love Bug (1968)

Director: Robert Stevenson

Writers: Bill Walsh, Don DaGradi, Gordon Buford

Composer: George Bruns

Starring: Dean Jones, Michele Lee, David Tomlinson, Buddy Hackett, Joe FLynn, Benson Fong, Joe E. Ross, Gary Owens, Bill Hickman, Jock Mahoney

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Herbie Will Honk His Way Into Your Heart.

Plot:  A race car driver becomes a champion with a Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah, in another thirty years.

I haven't seen this since the 70s and even then I'd seen it a few times either at the theater in a re-release or on TV.  There's a good deal of nostalgia with this one but even still, it's a fun kids movie.  The car is great.  The scene where Herbie is bashing the crap out of the Jaguar is hilarious.  The cast is great all across the board.  Dean Jones is so charismatic it's criminal.  Michelle Lee, Buddy Hackett - fun.  Tomlinson and Flynn are great bad guys.  The music from Disney staple George Bruns is fun.  The Disney DVD special edition has a great looking anamorphic widescreen print.  It's a 2-disc set.  The extras on the first disc are a commentary track and a cartoon short SUSIE THE LITTLE BLUE COUPE.  Disc two has a 7 minute featurette on the differences in Herbie between the four original films, galleries, a vintage 5-minute featurette on the film narrated by Dean Jones, Love Bug Day at Disneyland (12 minutes),

a 9 minute piece about the sound design (this is great, fascinating and fun!), 2 deleted scenes reconstructed from stills, script and storyboards, the theatrical trailer (fullscreen), 3 radio spots, galleries,  a featurette called That Lovable Bug with interviews with the surviving cast among others (43 minutes, great fun seeing the three leads reminisce), The Many Lives of Herbie featurette (13 minutes, covers the three sequels, shows, etc. and Don Knotts is interviewed) and finally, Herbie Mania (6 minutes all about the fans).  It's nice that Disney went the extra mile to make this release worthy of the film.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Khartoum (1966)

Directors: Basil Dearden, Eliot Elisofon

Writer: Robert Ardrey

Composer: Frank Cordell

Starring: Charlton Heston, Laurence Olivier, Richard Johnson, Ralph Richardson, Alexander Knox, Johnny Sekka, Michael Hordern, Zia Mohyeddin, Marne Maitland, Nigel Green, Hugh Williams, Ralph Michael, Douglas Wilmer, Edward Underdown, Peter Arne, Alan Tilvern

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They say the Nile still runs red from the Battle of Khartoum!

Plot: In the Sudan, in 1884-85, Egyptian forces led by a British general defend Khartoum against an invading Muslim army led by a religious fanatic, the Mahdi.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

For a true story of two men on opposite ends who respect each other but they must also stay true to themselves and the people they represent, it's not nearly as exciting as it could've been.  Heston takes a little while to get used to with a British accent.  It's hard to take at first but I settled into it soon enough and forgot about it.  There's not a lot of action and nearly all of it is in the final few minutes (and I do mean few).  The battle isn't nearly as grand as you'd expect considering there's an incredible amount of build up preparing you for it.  I don't want to imply that's a bad thing.  Battles like this don't have to be huge to succeed.  Considering the odds, it wasn't going to last long anyway but there is a lot of talk and preparation for it before it happens.  If you find the movie slow, be sure to stick around because it's worth watching even if it's about 40 minutes before Heston gets to the desert and the fun begins.  Olivier does it up blackface as The Mahdi.  He does a fine job as well.  It's a great cast and it's well acted.  The music is sometimes bigger than it needs to be like when Heston and Olivier meet but it's an adventurous score in search of an adventure.  The MGM DVD sports a great looking anamorphic widescreen print with only a trailer (also anamorphic widescreen) for an extra. 

American History X (1998)

Director: Tony Kaye

Writer: David McKenna

Composer: Anne Dudley

Starring: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Jennifer Lien, Ethan Suplee, Fairuza Balk, Avery Brooks, Elliott Gould, Stacy Keach, William Russ, Guy Torry, Paul Le Mat

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  His father taught him to hate. His friends taught him rage. His enemies gave him hope.

Plot:  A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

I haven't seen this in ages and I'd forgotten how good it was.  The performances are very good.  This might be the only picture I've seen Furlong in where I didn't have any issues with his acting.  I'm shocked.  The story is well handled and I especially like the interspersing of the back story along with what's happening currently.  That curb stomp still makes me cringe.  Good score from Anne Dudley.  The ending surprised me again (thanks, memory).  It's a powerful film.  I've never understood why people hate.  The New Line DVD sports a nice anamorphic widescreen print with the only extras being 3 deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction (2012)

Director: Sophie Huber

Starring: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson, Wim Wenders, Debbie Harry, Jamie James, Logan Sparks

More info: IMDb

Plot: An impressionistic portrait of the iconic actor comprised of intimate moments, film clips from some of his 250 films and his own heart-breaking renditions of American folk songs. Stunningly lensed in color and b/w by Seamus McGarvey, the film explores the actor's enigmatic outlook on his life, his unexploited talents as a musician, and includes candid scenes with David Lynch, Wim Wenders, Sam Shepard, Kris Kristofferson and Debbie Harry. The fragile soul of an actor emerges from the poignant collage.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

What you get out of this is going to depend on what you're looking for.  You'll be disappointed if you want a retrospective on the actor's career.  If you want to hang out with the (90 years old in July) actor and hear his thoughts on this and that but never getting too far into them or providing much detail, then you'll enjoy it.  He sings a lot and it's great.  A few people stop by and reminisce with him but you don't really get much information out of it.  There are very few clips from films but a lot of photographs from his film work and his life.  You're not going to learn much but you can play fly on the wall at his house for an hour.  I'd still like to see a film retrospective of his work and hear the countless stories from the time that he lived with Jack Nicholson in the late 60s and all the wild adventures he got into.  This film gives you a few drops in the bottle of aged whiskey that is HDS. 

Frogs (1972)

Director: George McCowan

Writers: Robert Hutchinson, Robert Blees

Composer: Les Baxter

Starring: Ray Milland, Sam Elliott, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke, Judy Pace, Lynn Borden, Mae Mercer, David Gilliam, Nicholas Cortland, George Skaff, Lance Taylor Sr., Hollis Irving, Dale Willingham, Hal Hodges, Carolyn Fitzsimmons, Robert Sanders

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  If YOU Are Squeamish Stay Home!!!

Plot:  Jason Crockett is an aging, grumpy, physically disabled millionaire who invites his family to his island estate for his birthday celebration. Pickett Smith is a free-lance photographer who is doing a pollution layout for an ecology magazine. Jason Crockett hates nature, poisoning anything that crawls on his property. On the night of his birthday the frogs and other members of nature begin to pay Crockett back.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Just looking at the poster tells you a little something even though it's A) not funny and B) not about giant frogs that eat people (I would LOVE to see that movie).  It's a standard nature-turning-against-man picture but the appeal is seeing a young (almost 30) Sam Elliott in his first feature starring role and Ray Milland easily playing a right dickheaded grumpy old man.  I've never seen anything less than solid from Milland.  I have so much respect for that guy for winning an Oscar in '45 and still putting in great work in low budget horror movies.  What a class act!  The score is neat.  It's more of an electronic manipulation of insect and animal sounds.  Often it's just an ambiance and it works beautifully.  It was filmed about 90 minutes from my town and it feels so inviting.  I love the soundscape and the location.  This picture certainly has the atmosphere.   The kills are a mixed bag and I'm not sure if it was due to the budget or personnel but it's not like it hurts the picture.  Budget restrictions don't bother me when there's talent in front of and/or behind the camera.  I can't fault anyone for making a movie if their heart's in it.  Yeah, it would've been cooler if the wildlife really cut loose on these people and not just the mean people died.  I was hoping for a higher body count of innocents.  Milland's final moment is pretty weak but it's still a pretty fun flick.  This would have been great to experience at a late night drive-in theater.  The MGM DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print with the sole extra in the theatrical trailer in fullscreen.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Director: Michael A. Simpson

Writers: Fritz Gordon, Robert Hiltzik

Composer: James Oliverio

Starring: Pamela Springsteen, Tracy Griffith, Michael J. Pollard, Haynes Brooke, Sandra Dorsey, Daryl Wilcher, Kim Wall, Kyle Holman, Cliff Brand, Kashina Kessler, Randi Layne, Chung Yen Tsay, Jarrett Beal, Sonya Maddox, Jill Terashita, Stacie Lambert, Charles Lawlor, Jerry Griffin, Mike Nagel, Richard Crabbe

More info: IMDb

Tagline: She's back to Slash last year's record.

Plot: After murdering a young girl, Angela Baker assumes her identity and travels to Camp New Horizons, built on the grounds of the camp she terrorized the year before, and starts killing again.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

The SLEEPAWAY CAMP films are fun enough but are never as great as they could've been or I would like.  The second one of the trilogy is the best but not by an awful lot.  There are some laughs, lots of nudity (and Michael J. Pollard gets him some!) and bloody kills.  If you've seen the second film then you know who the killer is at the beginning of this one.  That doesn't spoil anything.  It doesn't take long before she's hacking and slashing.  Did I mention the funny?  They really put the camp in Sleepaway Camp.  The first film takes itself more seriously than the second and third.  The acting isn't all that good (I'm looking at you Pamela "sister of Bruce" Springsteen) but that doesn't matter.  She's just bad enough to make it funny.  There are some cute gags like fishing a hockey mask out of the lake.  Some land and some don't but it doesn't really matter.  They made the movie they set out to and it's kind of fun but never boring.  The Anchor bay DVD has a commentary track, behind the scenes footage & outtakes (8 minutes), 19 minutes of deleted scenes from the director's cut and the fullscreen trailer.  I wouldn't mind getting a box set of these but there isn't one currently available.  They're all on Blu-ray individually but they're still about twenty bucks each and that's just too much.  They're not THAT good.  

The Longshot (1986)

Director: Paul Bartel

Writer: Tim Conway

Composer: Charles Fox

Starring:  Tim Conway, Jack Weston, Harvey Korman, Ted Wass, Anne Meara, Frank Bonner, Stella Stevens, George DiCenzo, Edie McClurg, Eddie Deezen, Jonathan Winters

More info: IMDb

Tagline: You'll laugh from start to finish.

Plot: Four losers borrow money from gangsters to bet on a "sure thing" at the horse track. 

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

After just watching Tim Conway's pretty bad, THEY WENT THAT-A-WAY & THAT-A-WAY (1978), I didn't have much hope for this one.  It's definitely better and the cast is fun with lots of cameos from some really funny people.  That's the good part.  The funny isn't consistent but there are more than a few laughs.  The best scene is when Conway goes to Stella Stevens' room.  That shit with the dog was killing me.  There's also some funny lines and it's not a boring film but the silliness sometimes gets in the way from enjoying it.  It's not that bad and there's enough funny to get some enjoyment out of it.  One big oddity is the opening rap song sung by Tim Conway (!) and Ice T.  The MGM DVD comes with  THEY WENT THAT-A-WAY & THAT-A-WAY.  Both films are fullscreen and the only extra is the theatrical trailer (also fullscreen). 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Dead & Buried (1981)

Director: Gary Sherman

Writers: Jeff Millar, Alex Stern, Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon

Composer: Joe Renzetti

Starring: James Farentino, Melody Anderson, Jack Albertson, Dennis Redfield, Nancy Locke, Lisa Blount, Robert Englund, Bill Quinn, Michael Currie, Christopher Allport, Joseph G. Medalis, Macon McCalman, Lisa Marie, Estelle Omens, Barry Corbin

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The writers of alien... ...bring a new terror to earth.

Plot: A suspense horror film set in a small coastal town where, after a series of gory murders commited by mobs of townspeople against visiting tourists, the corpses begin to come back to life.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

It surprises me constantly how long I go missing movies I should've seen in my youth.  This is a prime example.  I remember seeing the VHS cover in the video stores all throughout the 80s and not once did I even pick it up.  It was a badass cover but I was always sure that the movie couldn't possibly live up to it.  Well, it does.  It's a great horror/thriller.  Good performaces (great cast) and the mystery stays that way until the filmmakers want you to know.  I'm cool with that.  Good score, too and I love the late 70s/early 80s horror look.  It's a really well made horror flick.  I just wish I'd seen it sooner.  Someday I'll pick up the Blue Underground Blu-ray. 

Heavens Above! (1963)

Directors: John Boulting, Roy Boulting

Writers: Frank Harvey, John Boulting, Malcolm Muggeridge

Composer: Richard Rodney Bennett

Starring:  Pete Sellers, Cecil Parker, Isabel Jeans, Ian Carmichael, Bernard Miles, Brock Peters, Eric Sykes, Irene Handl, Miriam Karlin, Joan Miller, William Hartnell, Roy Kinnear

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Where 'I'm All Right Jack" left off... this takes off!

Plot:  Peter Sellers stars as a young vicar whose tendencies to interpret Christian doctrines in his own individualistic way, rather than conform to church traditions, leads to all kinds of chaos. He really believes, for example, in taking from the rich to give the poor.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Fine performances are given by the entire cast.  No surprise there, they're British.  It's a mildly amusing film that gets milder as it goes until it the solution to everyone's problem (Reverend Smallwood (Sellers)) is found.  Then it gets ridiculous as if the ending belonged in a different film altogether.  The ending isn't horrible but it's almost out of left field.  When things are at their very worst for Smallwood and his community, and they get REALLY bad, the church big wigs get with the government big cheeses to fix the problem which means, in part, getting rid of Smallwood.  What happens next feels better suited to a different film.  I was really involved in the picture until then.  It was getting quite serious but still within the confines of a light comedy.  Anyway, I'm beating a dead horse.  Sellers is quite good and plays the character with a little wink but it's some of his supporting cast that get more of the funny.   The Anchor Bay DVD has a great anamorphic widescreen print with no extras. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Molly and Lawless John (1972)

Director: Gary Nelson

Writer: Terry Kingsley-Smith

Composer: Johnny Mandel

Starring: Vera Miles, Sam Elliott, Clu Gulager, John Anderson, Cynthia Myers, Charles Pinney, Bob Westmoreland, Melinda Chavaria, Pasqualita Baca, George Le Bow, Dave Burleson, Grady Hill, Dick Bullock, Terry Kingsley-Smith

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A Wanted Man ... A Willing Woman ... too willing.

Plot: Molly, the shy, romance-starved wife of an arrogant frontier sheriff, finds herself drawn to a prisoner in her husband's jail. This prisoner, a handsome young man named Johnny, plays on Molly's sympathy and convinces her to help him escape. Molly then accompanies Johnny on his cross-country flight but soon learns he's simply been using her. Molly makes the best of the situation, however, and by the time the sheriff's posse catches up with them, Molly shows that she's learned how to assert herself.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Right off the bat you know Johnny (Elliott) is a real bastard so it's no surprise that he continues to do really shitty things until the credits roll.  He's hot and cold with Molly (Miles) alternating between being nice to her and treating her like shit.  He's just awful but she puts up with it.  Johnny has no character arc.  He doesn't need one.  This is Molly's story and it's a well-written story focusing on her.  The problem is it's often dull and lifeless.  There's very little music.  To make it worse I saw it on a crappy fullscreen DVD from Mill Creek.  The colors were bad and the darks were atrocious.  At least the sound was OK.  A better presentation would've helped but only a little.  This is Nelson's first feature as a director but he had an impressive amount of TV gigs for ten years prior.  Maybe tightening the movie up with some editing would help.  It's a shame it didn't fare better as it's a good story with some good performances.  I loved the ending.  Go Molly!

They Went That-A-Way & That-A-Way (1978)

Directors: Stuart E. McGowan, Edward Montagne

Writer: Tim Conway

Composer: Michael Leonard

Starring: Tim Conway, Chuck McCann, Joe Dorsey, Fred Covington, Dub Taylor, Reni Santoni, Sonny Shroyer, Charles Franzen, Ben Jones, Lenny Montana, Timothy Blake, Hank Worden, Richard Kiel

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The laffs are breaking out in all directors!

Plot:  Two small-town deputies are ordered by the governor go undercover, posing as criminals, in a maximum security prison. Shortly after their mission begins, the governor dies, leaving them stranded in jail.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I love Tim Conway but this flick starves on laughs.  It's slapstick and very silly.  I wouldn't expect anything different from Conway (who also wrote it).  Tim peeling potatoes was funny and the dentist bit was friggin hilarious.  It's a bit that would fit right into THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW.  That scene alone is worth watching the movie for.  His performance in that was pure genius.  There are A LOT of funny folks in this.  Hank Worden, Chuck McCann, Dub Taylor to name a few.  Dub should've have been in everything.  I LOVE that guy.  Richard Kiel has a substantial part which is nice.  Those are the positives.  Ultimately there are few laughs and it drags on for much too long.  After about the halfway point the biggest laughs (for me at least) are out of the way and anything else is mildly amusing at best and that's being very lenient and polite.  The MGM double feature DVD has this paired with THE LONGSHOT.  Both are fullscreen (boo).  The extra for this picture is the fullscreen trailer. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

The X Files (1998)

Director: Rob Bowman

Writers: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz

Composer: Mark Snow

Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, John Neville, William B. Davis, Martin Landau, Mitch Pileggi, Jeffrey DeMunn, Blythe Danner, Terry O'Quinn, Armin Muellyer-Stahl, Lucas Black, Dean Haglund, Bruce Harwood, Tom Braidwood

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Fight the Future

Plot: Mulder and Scully must fight the government in a conspiracy and find the truth about an alien colonization of Earth.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah.

This is so much better than the THE X FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (2008).  That one felt like an average TV episode.  This one is much more cinematic and it's got a bigger sense of scale.  It feels like a movie and one that takes the best of the show and elevates it for this medium, making it something that you'd want to go to the theater to see.  I really enjoyed it.  This is the first time I've seen it since the theater in '98 and it holds up very nicely.  It's got humor, tension , a good story and special effects...swearing!  Plus the picture ends with the ongoing mystery that the show constantly delivered.  It's fun.  The 20th Century Fox DVD looks good in anamorphic widescreen but the next time I watch it it'll be on Blu-ray.  The extras included are a commentary from Carter and Bowman, a 27 minute behind the scenes featurette (fullscreen) and 3 theatrical trailers (all non-anamorphic widescreen).  Hopefully there are more extras on the Blu-ray edition. 

Fatal Attraction (1987)

Director: Adrian Lyne

Writer: James Dearden

Composer: Maurice Jarre

Starring: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer, Ellen Hamilton Latzen, Stuart Pankin, Ellen Foley, Fred Gwynne, Meg Mundy, Tom Brennan, Lois Smith, Mike Nussbaum

More info: IMDb

Tagline: On the other side of drinks, dinner and a one night stand, lies a terrifying love story.

Plot: A married man's one night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

Good movie poster, good film.  It's been more than 25 years since I saw this (possibly in the theater in '87) and it still holds up as an effective thriller.  Lynne doesn't take long in setting things up.  Dan (Douglas) has a beautiful wife and family.  His flirting with Alex (Close) is innocent enough at first but it quickly escillates into a hot and heavy one night stand.  What's great about it is the pacing and performances, especially from Close and Douglas.  The little things they add make all the difference.  It's not glaringly obvious that these two characters are lying to each other except that Dan is an asshole for cheating on his wife (and so easily, too, without knowing if this is a normal thing for him) and Alex for completely misreading Dan into thinking he loves her after a poke in the whiskers.  It becomes clear that she's mental the next morning and she keeps adding layer upon layer of of obsession as the film progresses.  Both characters behave logically considering their predicament...until the climax where Alex has become so obsessed she's a knife-wielding psycho kitty.  That's when it becomes too much and steps over the line into ridiculous territory.  I don't know what the fix would be except to scale back the homicidal movie monster bit.  Composer Maurice Jarre is hit and miss but his moody score well plays the atmosphere required.  I was shocked to see that he won a Grammy for the soundtrack.  It's certainly no that good. The film was also nominated for an Oscar which blows me away.  It's good but...come on.  Close was rightfully nominated for Best Actress.  The Paramount DVD has a nice widescreen print with extras including 3 featurettes (about an hour in total), rehearsal footage (9 minutes), an alternate (the original) ending (9 minutes), commentary by Lynne and the anamorphic widescreen trailer. 

SPOILER ALERT....YARRRRR!!!  The alternate ending omits the crazy killer Alex and goes into deeper territory with Alex setting Dan up as her murderer.  In the scene where Dan confronts Alex, he takes the large kitchen knife from her and sets it down.  His prints are on the knife.  Later she slits her throat with that knife. The alternate ending starts with the cops showing up at Dan's house to arrest him for murdering Alex.  Naturally he's confused because he's innocent.  He tells his wife, Beth (Archer), to look in his desk for his attorney's phone number.  This is where the original ending fails me.  She finds the audio cassette Dan listened to earlier and listens to a part of it we haven't heard where Alex says the next time she tries to commit suicide she'll cut deeper.  Then we get a flashback to Alex slitting her neck (it's cringe-inducing) to the finale aria from Madame Butterfly.  I like dark endings and I would have loved to see Alex win with Dan going to jail for her murder.  It's wrong but it would be so fucked up.  We don't need Beth to find the tape.  Her finding hit means everything is going to be OK and I'm not convinced it should be. That ending would have required balls.  I can see why the people involved with the film who wanted to make as much money as possible scrapped it for the typical Hollywood ending. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

100 Bloody Acres (2012)

Directors: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

Writers: Cameron Cairnes, Colin Cairnes

Composer: ???

Starring: Damon Herriman, Angus Sampson, Anna McGahan, Oliver Ackland, Jamie Kristian, John Jarratt, Chrissie Page, Paul Blackwell, Ward Everaardt, Iain Herridge, Shane Darcy

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They're not psycho killers...they're just small business operators.

Plot: Reg and Lindsay run an organic fertiliser business. They need a fresh supply of their "secret ingredient" to process through the meat grinder. Reg comes across two guys and a girl with a broken-down vehicle on their way to a music festival.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

Huh.  I ended up watching two Australian serial killer movies back to back without knowing anything about them.  What are the odds.  THE SNOWTOWN MURDERS (2011) is a bleak drama based on true events and this one is a fun picture with some gore and lots of laughs.  The funny isn't always there which makes room for plenty of great horror moments that beat what you'd see in most mainstream slasher/horror movies these days.  Really.  But it is very funny.  The opening and closing bits offer plenty to smile at.  This is a horror comedy that gets the mix right.  The gags are often sick (but funny) and there's tension and unease.  Check this one out.

Lethal Weapon 4 (1998)

Director: Richard Donner

Writers: Channing Gibson, Jonathan Lemkin, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar

Composers: Michael Kamen, Eric Clapton, David Sanborn

Starring: Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, Joe Pesci, Rene Russo, Chris Rock, Jet Li, Steve Kahan, Kim Chan, Darlene Love, Traci Wolf

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The Gang's All Here.

Plot:  With personal crises and age weighing in on them, LAPD officers Riggs and Murtaugh must contend with a deadly Chinese crime lord trying to get his brother out of prison.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

I probably haven't seen this since the theater.  Gibson has shorter hair.  That's an improvement.  They had to leave the 80s behind at some point.  The main story looks like it's supposed to be the Chinese crime stuff but it's not.  That's just the thin-ish reason to get these characters back in another film.  What's really going on is bringing the relationships to a nice stopping point.  Riggs & Murtaugh, Riggs & Cole, Murtaugh and his daughter, etc.  The saxophone riffs are laughably annoying.  Also annoying was the several minute stand-up routine that Butters (Rock) does in the office.  Yeah, it was funny but it had no business being in the film.  The picture's already over two hours as it is.  The fight scene in the moving house was fantastic.  It's actually a step up from LW3.  The hospital scene at the end was cute and I REALLY liked seeing photos of the film crew during the closing credits.  Nice touch and thank you for the folks that made this, and the others, so much fun.  The Warner Bros. snapcase DVD (part of a box set which was nothing more than a slipcase for the existing DVDs to house and sold together) has the film in anamorphic widescreen.  The only extra you get is a commentary from Donner and co-producers J. Mills Goodloe & Geoff Johns.  Seriously, that's it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Snowtown Murders (2011)

Original title: Snowtown

Director: Justin Kurzel

Writers: Shaun Grant, Justin Kurzel, Debi Marshall, Andrew McGarry

Composer: Jed Kurzel

Starring: Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Bob Adriaens, Louise Harris, Frank Cwiertniak, Matthew Howard, Marcus Howard, Anthony Groves, Richard Green, Aaron Viergever, David Walker, Craig Coyne

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Based on the shocking true story

Plot: Based on true events, 16 year-old Jamie falls in with his mother's new boyfriend and his crowd of self-appointed neighborhood watchmen, a relationship that leads to a spree of torture and murder.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This is fucked up.  Jamie's (Pittaway) childhood was fucked up and it gets worse when his mom starts dating John (Henshall) who becomes a big part of Jamie's life, teaching him hate, violence and murder.  The slow descent into darkness is wonderfully crafted.  The droning tones of the score go a long way in preparing the viewer for everything that unfolds.  You'd almost think it would be numbing but it's just the opposite.  It's shocking.  The dog scene was hard to take.  The sound is what did it for me.  This is a harsh movie and it's  great to see a serial killer of a different kind than we're used to.  He's got a moral code and doesn't kill for sport but with purpose, to rid the world of evil people, kind of like DEXTER but without the laughs and charm.  That and you're not on his side at all.  He's a despicable person.  This isn't an easy watch but it's powerful and lasting.  I'll definitely revisit this one someday.  It was on Netflix at the time I saw it.

George Lopez: Tall, Dark & Chicano (2009)

Director: Marty Callner

Writer: George Lopez

Starring: George Lopez

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  He's all over the hood.

Plot:  George's HBO stand-up comedy special.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I laughed once and that was the gag using a vibrator as a tortilla roller.   The rest of it was mildly amusing.  I don't dislike Lopez but I just didn't find this funny.  I can see why others would love it but it's not for me.  He's very energetic, constantly roaming the stage, he makes sound effects and funny faces.  The guy sold out a 14k seat auditorium for this.  He's doing something right.  The HBO DVD has no extras but the concert is longer than usual at about 90 minutes so there's a lot more of George to love...or not.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Director: David Lean

Writers: Pierre Boulle, Carl Foreman, Michael Wilson

Composer: Malcolm Arnold

Starring: William Holden, Alec Guinness, Jack Hawkins, Sessue Hayakawa, James Donald, Geoffrey Horne, Andre Morell, Peter Williams, John Boxer, Percy Herbert, Harold Goodwin, Ann Sears, Heihachiro Okawa, Keiichiro Katsumoto, M.R.B. Chakrabandhu, Vilaiwan Seeboonreaung, Ngamta Suphaphongs, Javanart Punynchoti, Kannikar Dowklee

More info: IMDb

Plot: After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

My rating: 9.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Duh!

I've seen this many times over the past forty years and it never ceases to amaze me.  This time I watched the stunningly gorgeous Blu-ray for the first time and on a much larger screen (projected at about 11 ft wide) and it was the best presentation I've ever seen it.  WOW!  I fucking love this move.  You really must see movies on the biggest screen possible if you can.  It only makes movies better.  It's almost as if I were watching it for the first time.  This time I was drawn to the cinematography like never before.  Take the extended amount of time we spend with Shears (Holden) & the demolition team going through the jungle; for as long as the film is, it's not dull or unimportant.  The movie's 19 minutes shy of three hours and not once does the film drag nor does it have a frame that's lacking in beauty.  It's a masterfully shot and made picture. The performances are top drawer, especially Guinness who, up until then, had become famous for playing multiple characters in comedies.  He just knocks this one out of the park.  His Oscar was deserved, Malcolm Arnold's was not.  There's not much music in the picture and it's not all that memorable (and, yeah, I know memorable themes does not automatically equate quality).  Plus he used existing marches in many scenes.  That's my one complaint and it's got nothing to do with what you see on screen.  The music works very well but there's so little of it that it hardly merits an award as big as that.  The only thing left more me with this one is to catch it in a theater. 

Nurse Betty (2000)

Director: Neil LaBute

Writers: John C. Richards, James Flamberg

Composer: Rolfe Kent

Starring: Morgan Freeman, Renee Zellweger, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Aaron Eckhart, Tia Texada, Crispin Glover, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Allison Janney, Kathleen Wihoite, Elizabeth Mitchell

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  She's chasing a dream... they're chasing her.

Plot:  A Kansas City waitress with dreams of becoming a nurse becomes delusional after seeing her no-good car salesman husband murdered. Becoming delusional from shock, she becomes convinced that she is the former fiancĂ©e of her soap opera idol. What she also believes is that the soap opera is real and goes to LA to find the hospital where he works as a cardiologist. Meanwhile, her husband's murderers are searching for the drugs stolen by her husband and, as luck would have it, they are stored in the trunk of the car she drove off in. Freeman, an aging hit man planning his retirement after this job, also becomes delusional about the woman he is tracking.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.


I first watched this at least a dozen years ago and when I popped it in again tonight, I honestly thought I would be seeing it for the last time.  I remember it being really good but it's even better than I remember and I can't let this one go just yet.  The performances are great.  Really great.   I love the relationship between Charlie (Freeman) and Wesley (Rock). And I love how you don't know they're father and son until Wesley gets shot and cries "daddy".  It still chokes me up.  The mix of comedy and hard drama is outstanding.  LaBute does a fantastic job of bringing those two elements together seamlessly.  Betty's delusional behavior is both funny and sad simultaneously and it gets darker as the story moves on.  The story is tops and it creates a beautiful balance in tone with some very colorful characters.  I love it.  It's as simple as that.  If I haven't said it before then I'm sayin' it now...Allison Janney needs to have my babies.  There.  The Universal DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print with a few extras in a commentary from LaBute, 9 three minute episodes of the fake soap opera A Reason to Love (these look fun but I haven't watched them yet), 5 deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic widescreen) and 6 TV spots.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Enemy Below (1957)

Director: Dick Powell

Writers: Wendell Mayes, D.A. Rayner

Composer: Leigh Harline

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Curd Jurgens, David Hedison, Theodore Bikel, Russell Collins, Kurt Kreuger, Frank Albertson, Dough McClure, Gordon Mitchell

More info: IMDb

Tagline:In the most amazing saga in the fighting annals of the U.S. Navy!

Plot: During World War II, the USS Haynes, an American destroyer escort discovers a German U-boat in the South Atlantic. A deadly duel between the two ships ensues, and Captain Murrell must draw upon all his experience to defeat the equally experienced German commander.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

Man, I loves me some good submarine movies.  Add to that ones from WWII, made pre-1980 AND in color with a great cast!  Mitchum & Jurgens made great adversaries.  They respected each other from a distance and we get to see them both in action...and they're both major badasses.  I loved how the Germans weren't portrayed as fanatics, clowns or monsters.  That was so refreshing to see the intelligent, human side of an enemy.  I was surprised (and pleased) that the entire picture, save the first few minutes, is the cat and mouse game between these two.  They get a lot of mileage out of it and a lot of tense moments.  It's maturely handled.  I'm so used to Dick Powell doing comedies that I was taken aback that he delivered such a great action picture.  And Leigh Harline's score was great and all I remember him from were his scores for early Disney animated features like SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937) and PINOCCHIO (1940).  The Netflix bastards cropped the 2:35 image to 1:85.  Asshats.  Show it like it was intended for fuck's sake.  I reckon I'll have to get my hands on the DVD if I want it proper.   

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)

Director: Wes Anderson

Writers: Wes Anderson, Noah Baumbach

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh

Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Bud Cort, Seu Jorge, Robyn Cohen, Waris Ahluwalia, Pawel Wdowczak, Matthew Gray Gubler, Seymour Cassel

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The deeper you go, the weirder life gets

Plot: With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Geez, I can't believe it's taken me more than a decade to get around to this.  Bill Murray is awesome.  I can't imagine anyone else playing this part.  He's hilarious.  The story has quite a few turns that you don't see coming, and it's hilarious!  The special effects are purposefully corny but they're fun as hell.  As usual with a Wes Anderson the cast is stellar.  Willem Dafoe cracked me up.  The only one I had issue with is Owen Wilson but only with his horrible Southern accent.  It was awful.  I don't know why he didn't speak normally.  Bill Murray brings it (no surprise), though, and in spades.  It's going to be a sad, sad day when he kicks the bucket.  But until then, we've got at least 40 more years of new Billy movies.  The Criterion DVD looks great.  It's loaded with extras. I'd love to get the Blu-ray but fuck is it expensive (still, after all these years)!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Black Death (2010)

Director: Christopher Smith

Writer: Dario Poloni

Composer: Christian Henson

Starring: Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, John Lynch, Tim McInnerny, Kimberley Nixon, Andy Nyman, David Warner, Johnny Harris, Emun Elliott, Tygo Gernandt, Jamie Ballard, Carice van Houten

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In an age of darkness one man will face the ultimate battle against evil.

Plot: Set during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England, a young monk is given the task of learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life in a small village.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Shaky cam be damned!  Oh, and The Plague.  I digs me some Medieval Sean Bean and, once again, he delivers the knightly goods.  The film's OK until they boys get to the small village for an overnight stay.  Then it gets really good and a lot of shit starts hitting the oxen-powered fan.  So if you watch this and you're just not feeling it, wait until about midway into the picture and stick around for another half hour and watch how crazy good it gets.  Any fans of David Warner?  He's barely in this.  Don't get too excited, but any David Warner is better than no David Warner.  That's what my Grandma used to say after a hot shower.  Like every movie Ray Charles ever watched, this movie is dark; it's dark in tone and visually.  And it's got one hell of a dark and cynical ending.  I'll tell ya, until they got to the village, it felt like it was going to be a middle of the road, bland-ish Medieval costumer and then it started getting better and better until it ended up a real peach.  I watched it on Netflix even though I have the DVD.  At some point the Blu-ray will fall into my lap and I'll give it another spin and dig into the extras.