Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jesse Stone 6: No Remorse (2010)

Director: Robert Harmon

Writers: Tom Selleck, Michael Brandman

Composer: Jeff Beal

Starring: Tom Selleck, Kathy Baker, Kohl Sudduth, Stephen McHattie, Krista Allen, William Sadler, Mae Whitman, Todd Hofley, Saul Rubinek, William Devane

More info: IMDb

Plot: Police Chief Jesse Stone, who was suspended by the Paradise, Mass. Town Council, begins moonlighting for his friend, State Homicide Commander Healy, by investigating a series of murders in Boston, leaving Rose and Suitcase to handle a crime spree in Paradise on their own. Jesse pours his energy into his work in an effort to push away his twin demons: booze and women. When his investigation leads to notorious mob boss Gino Fish, Jesse's pursuit becomes hazardous.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

It's a safe bet that every scene with both Selleck and Devane will make each of these TV movies worth watching regardless.  Then add Jeff Beal's low-key score and you get a likeable thriller with good performances even if the story isn't as strong as it could be.  They mostly are though.  Saul Rubinek is back and he's always a welcome addition.  Having said all of that, Jesse's 'guessing' when it comes to solving crimes gets a little out of hand.  He figures everything out sooner than he should've.  He has a dream about who done it and off he goes.  The killer's motive works and his subsequent actions are pretty neat which makes it it a little tougher to bitch about.  This series has its ups and downs but it's the quality of the acting and production that keep the downs from being bad.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Don't Breathe (2016)

Director: Fede Alvarez

Writers: Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues

Composer: Roque Banos

Starring: Stephen Lang, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, Daniel Zovatto, Emma Bercovici, Franciska Torocsik, Christian Zagia

More info: IMDb

Tagline: This house looked like an easy target. Until they found what was inside.

Plot: A group of friends break into the house of a wealthy blind man, thinking they'll get away with the perfect heist. They're very wrong.

My rating: 7/10 (it would've been a 9 if it weren't for the stupid last 15 minutes)

Will I watch it again?  Absolutely not.

I'm saving the spoilers to the end here.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVED this flick until that something is discovered in the basement 2/3rds in and then it's a shitstorm of plot holes.  There are several moments of total silence or near-total silence and it's brilliant.  Silence isn't used much these days in movies which is a damn shame.  The Blind Man says next to nothing until the final act which is also awesome.  He's a guy you do not want to fuck with.  There are a couple of jump scares but they're without music and because there was no music they were more effective than most jump scares in movies.  The three burglars are largely unlikable.  Alex is the exception but he's ultimately a shit because he goes along with his friends' robberies.  The last twenty minutes is fucking bullshit.  Now let's talk about that.


I've been thinking about this for the past hour since I left the theater.   Once Cindy is discovered, the plot holes open up (except for perhaps every window in the Blind Man's house has burglar bars except for one - how convenient - and it's clear that because of the bars and a security system that this is important to him).  Rocky and Alex never remove the tape from her mouth, Cindy has a stack of newspaper clippings she's saved about her being missing (how did she get these?), how the hell did the Blind Man kidnap her in the first place, he's holding her captive so she can bear him a child (THE FUCK?  He said he was going to let her go after she has the baby which is a lie) so who's going to take care of the baby?  He certainly can't. and on and on.  This plot thread is ridiculous.  Then there's the shit when Alex escapes and she's dragged back.  There's a wide swath of blood left behind in the road as he drags her back to his house.  You'd have to be losing A LOT of blood for that to happen.  Plus, wouldn't the cops notice a path of blood leading right to his house?  If she lost all that blood then how can she function as well as she did once she was back and still run out of the house with barely a limp?  Ugh.  How is she going to get away with this.  I'm tired of typing and I've got lots more to say but I'm going to let it go.  She should've died.  I would've been happy if the Blind Man died too as long as she did.  And how about how hours later, when she's at the bus station, and there's barely a mark on her face.  I realize that it's just a movie and I probably shouldn't over think this too much but for fuck's sake, Alvarez did one hell of a great fucking job on everything leading up to that one reveal where the film nose-dived into stupidity where it languished in typical Hollywood fashion.  It's bullshit and insulting.


I also understand that if you took out the bullshit at the end, the movie would be shorter.  It's already 88 minutes (with several minutes of end credits) but trimming the crap would reduce it by ten minutes (or more) which Hollywood is apparently afraid of having a movie that's too short.  It would've worked a lot better if it were.  Damn this movie was amazing until it went to shit and that's a fucking shame.  They would've had my money again in a few months with the Blu-ray but not now.  And by the way, AVOID seeing this movie if people are going to talk.  I'm getting sick and damn tired of getting the theater manager to shut talkin' mother fuckers up and it happened again tonight.  This is a thriller and it plays on your hearing.  You need to be in an optimum position to give this your total concentration without distractions in order to maximize its effect.  It's getting to the point where I'm only going to see the big action blockbusters in the theater 'cause it's hard to enjoy something when you've got rude sum bitches disrespecting the audience.  Also, apparently me and Mrs. Scorethefilm are the only ones who are willing to say something to these degenerates.  I've yet to hear anyone else try and stop it.  For fuck's sake!  AHHHHHH!

The Do-It-Yourself Film Animation Show (1974)

Director: Anna Jackson

Starring: Bob Godfrey, Bruce Lacey, Terry Gilliam

More info: IMDb

Plot: Terry Gilliam demonstrates how to make animated films using cut-outs.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This is super neat.  Fans of animation or Monty Python should check this out.  It's on YouTube and it's fifteen minutes so there's no excuse.  This is one episode from a short-lived British TV series about the different aspects of animation.  Terry Gilliam is the guest on this episode about table-top and cut-outs.  He takes you through each step, in detail, on how he made those classic animation for MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS (1969).  Fans of Python will recognize a lot of what he shows.  It's super-fun and informative.  I dig hearing Gilliam talk about stuff because he's so passionate, smart and knowledgeable.  Someday I'm going to check out the rest of the episodes.  I hope there as interesting and fun as this one.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Code Name Emerald (1985)

Director: Jonathan Sanger

Writer: Ronald Bass

Composer: John Addison

Starring: Ed Harris, Max von Sydow, Horst Buchholz, Helmut Berger, Cyrielle Clair, Eric Stoltz, Patrick Stewart, Graham Crowden, George Mikell, Gabriel Barylli, Peger Bonke, Tony Rohr

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Double agent.  Double cross.  Trained by the Americans.  Trusted by the Nazis.  One man holds the secret to the invasion of Normandy.

Plot: In April 1944, an allied agent is sent to France in order to rescue an "overlord" captured by the Germans. (An "overlord" is one of the few men who know the date and place of the "D" day). To achieve this goal, he will be supported by a secret friend of the Allies, a very important German officer and the French resistance. But the SS is not resting...

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Here's a somewhat interesting and effective thriller about a subject I was not aware of (Overlords of WWII).  The performances are solid and hold up as the best part of the film.  I could completely do without the romance sub-plot for a couple of reasons, the first of which is that there's plenty of far more interesting things going on that could have been utilized instead of Gus (a professional) letting something like that get in the way as much as it did.  It felt like their relationship was played up much more than needed, especially when you consider how much of a pro he was to get so distracted.  Anyway, it's worth noting that this is the first theatrical film produced by NBC.  So what?  Well, it often feels like a big budget TV miniseries more than it does a theatrical film.  That also means it's got a stageyness to some of the interiors.  It's still a good thriller with a lot of nice moments (particularly for Harris and Stoltz).  It's worth a look but keep your expectations low enough to be pleasantly surprised by it.  With a cast like this you're going to want to see it.

Red Planet Mars (1952)

Director: Harry Horner

Writers: John L. Balderston, Anthony Veiller, John Hoare

Composer: Mahlon Merrick

Starring: Peter Graves, Andrea King, Herbert Berghof, Walter Sande, Marvin Miller, Willis Bouchey, Morris Ankrum, Orley Lindgren, Bayard Veiller

More info: IMDb

Tagline: SEE! The first contact between Earth and Mars!

Plot: An American scientist is able to contact and communicate with Mars with shattering political, economic, and spiritual repercussions.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The 'red' in the title doubles as the Red Scare/Russian threat at the time this picture was made, complete with relating the USA with Christianity early on.  There's also the battle between science (wanting to advance civilization 1,000 years) and the government (wanting to keep the Ruskies from getting a leg up on us).  If you're looking for outer space picture with martians and groovy models then you're going to be very disappointed.  Nobody leaves Earth.  But if sci-fi loaded with talky-talky, you just might dig it.  On the latter level it almost works.  There are some interesting ideas bandied about but it's HEAVY on Christianity.  It's the God-loving Americans versus the heathen Russians.  If it weren't for that last bit I'd be more inclined to like it a little more but it's such an obvious piece of propaganda that the film is hurt by it.  I REALLY liked the last few minutes where Calder (well-played by Berghof, the evil nasty man) confronts Chis and Linda (Graves and King).  There's some neat and dire shit talked about...until they hit you over the head with the God stuff.  But then shit gets real and people die.  I LOVED that part.  Then it's back to God with the President of the US addressing the world.  The film seems to play to the sheep or children which is curious as it's only adults who might get all the way through it without falling asleep.  For kids, it's got to be a snoozefest.  So I guess if you like your sci-fi heavy on the Jesus, then you might dig this picture, and if you do, you'll probably stand and salute with a tear in your eye when it's all over.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Black 6 (1973)

AKA: The Black Six

Director: Matt Cimber

Writers: Matt Cimber, Mikel Angel

Composer: David Moscoe

Starring: Robert Howard, Cindy Daly, Mikel Angel, John Isenbarger, Gene Washington, Carl Eller, Lem Barney, Mercury Morris, Willie Lanier, Joe Greene, Garnett Higgens, Bill King, Marilyn McArthurs

More info: IMDb

Tagline: See the 6 biggest, baddest and best waste 150 motorcycle dudes!

Plot:  A gang of six black Vietnam veterans fight white racists in a Southern town to avenge their dead friend.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

On paper, this sounds like a great revenge, action-filled, Blaxploitation picture that would be awesome to see as a drive-in double feature.  While it does have those elements, there's a lot more attention paid to the social race aspect than anything else.  It's half exploitation and half social issues and, to a large degree, it works.  The Black 6 are made up of real life NFL players, many of whom made their acting debut here.  I like them and I dig that they're not seasoned actors because they bring something authentic to the role that you wouldn't get otherwise.  That also means it gets a little amateurish but it's in a good way.  If I had to single out my favorite performance it would be Hannah Dean who plays the lead's mother.  She's about as genuine as it gets and this is only her first of four films she made.  The low budget nature suits this film just fine.  I wasn't once bored, even if there's very little action (which most of it was saved for the big fight at the end).  The plot moves nicely even if it doesn't fit a conventional mold.  For instance, we're a long ways into the picture when Bubba (Washington) investigates his brother's unsolved murder which doesn't take as long as you'd think before the big fight at the end.  There's not much time spent with the bad guys.  But then we don't have to hang with them long.  We know from the opening of the picture that these guys are bad and they need to be dealt with.  This isn't Shakespeare.  I've seen this twice now and it's one of the better low budget Blaxploitation pictures to come out of the 70s.  It's a fun ride that has be benefit of inexperience from different aspects to the cast and crew.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (1989)

Director: H.B. Halicki

Writer: H.B. Halicki

Starring: H.B. Halicki

More info: H.B. Halicki Wiki

Plot:  A man hijacks a semi and leads hundreds of cops on a destructive chase.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe (I've already seen it twice).

Since this is footage put together from a movie that was never finished, you just have to watch this as one long 30-minute car chase.  It's a good one.  There are times when you have to kick in your suspension of disbelief (like when the semi plows into 20 or more parked cars and doesn't slow down one bit) but that's not too much to ask I guess.  Halicki was a stunt master like no other when it came to cars.  His GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974) is a masterpiece in car chases (don't watch the widescreen version where his widow replaced the songs and score with crap and also changed the original car sounds - you're better off with the original fullscreen VHS version).  He was in the middle of shooting this film when an unexpected accident took his life.  The chase is fun and Halecki and pals crash a shitload of cars and motorcycles.  That goes on for about twenty minutes when he switches vehicles and takes The Slicer out for a spin.  At first it's ridiculous and goofy looking but that only lasts a few seconds until you get to see what it's capable of.  Then it's pure badass.  Fans of car stunts shouldn't pass this one up.  It's not polished but don't let the low budget get you down.  Halecki tears some shit up and there are lots of get stunts that shouldn't go un-noticed.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Highwaymen (2004)

Director: Robert Harmon

Writers: Craig Mitchell, Hans Bauer

Composer: Mark Isham

Starring: Jim Caviezel, Rhona Mitra, Frankie Faison, Colm Feore, Gordon Currie, Andrea Roth, Noam Jenkins

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Terror hits the road

Plot: Rennie Cray (Caviezel) embarks on a bloodthirsty rampage to avenge the death of his wife who was struck down by a serial killer - a man who hunts and kills women using his '72 El Dorado.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Gee whiz.  What a letdown.  There's a good movie to be made from this really neat and simple premise but the one I just watched is rather dull.  A lot of the car stunts are really great.  That's the best part.  Caviezel is bland and a tad too dramatic.  Mitra is fine I suppose.  It's always great to see Frankie (Barney from the Hannibal Lector films) Faison in anything.  It's been ages since he showed up in anything I've watched.  The story has a great idea of having a serial killer using his car as his weapon but some of the wind gets knocked out of it when you see that the killer is all cyborg'd out like he's still in the hospital.

What's worse is that he's in a wheelchair.  Rennie (Caviezel) gives us all of the details, by way of telling Molly (Mitra), halfway into the picture.  When he starts talking of how he put Fargo (Feore) in the hospital and Fargo is released months later but covered in metal traction shit and gets back on the road to kill, I was laughing.  But you're not supposed to be laughing and his description wasn't enough to prepare me for when I saw Fargo all done up for the first time minutes before the movie ends.  This could have been and should have been so much better.  Chalk it up to another missed opportunity.  This came three years before Tarantino's much better DEATH PROOF (2007).  The New Line DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print with the only extras being the trailer for this film (also anamorphic widescreen) and anamorphic widescreen trailers for THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (remake) and FREQUENCY.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

True Lies (1994)

Director: James Cameron

Writers: Claude Zidi, Simon Michael, Didier Kaminka, James Cameron

Composer: Brad Fiedel

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Tia Carrere, Art Malik, Eliza Dushku, Grant Heslov, Charton Heston, Marshall Manesh

More info: IMDb

Tagline: When he said I do, he never said what he did.

Plot: A fearless, globe-trotting, terrorist-battling secret agent has his life turned upside down when he discovers his wife might be having an affair with a used car salesman.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

It's been ages since I last saw this and I'd forgotten how brilliantly awesome and fun this picture is.  I think you'll find in Writing a Screenplay 101 that you only include scenes that further the story.  If it doesn't move the plot then it needs to go.  The first half hour has our heroes going after the bad guys.  Suddenly all of that takes a backseat to focusing on Harry's (Schwarzenegger) suspicion that his wife, Helen (Curtis), is cheating on him and that's where we spend the next third of the movie without hardly a word spoken about the big terrorist threat.  Then it's back to the business at hand as we finish the picture.  Technically it sounds all wrong but Cameron & Co. make it one hell of a fun ride which makes that diversion insignificant.  The action is fantastic (blowing up the bridge was amazing), the humor is hilarious (Tom Arnold deserves a lot of credit for what he brought to the film) and the actors are having a blast.  Curtis is as sexy as she is funny and everybody wins.  One thing I noticed this time was how nice it was not to get the usual Schwarzenegger quips after he offs somebody.  The silence was sweet.  This really is a super fun ride.  Unfortunately there's no friggin' Blu-ray.  The 20th Century Fox DVD has the film in non-anamorphic widescreen which is unacceptable.  Oh, and the only extra is the trailer.  Very weak considering how good and popular this movie is.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Siren of Bagdad (1953)

Director: Richard Quine

Writer: Robert E. Kent

Composer: John Leipold

Starring: Paul Henreid, Patricia Medina, Hans Conried, Charles Lung, Laurette Luez, Anne Dore, George Keymas, Michael Fox, Karl 'Killer' Davis, Carl Milletaire

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Very, Very Gay! When the Sultan's Away, and the Royal Magician Starts to the Harem!

Plot:  Kazah the Great (Henreid), a magician heads a troupe of girls and acrobats traveling in Arabia. The girls are stolen by Sultan El Malid (Lung), and Kazak joins forces with Zendi (Medina), the daughter of the rightful sultan that was deposed by Malidi to get the girls back and rid Bagdad of the evil Malid.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Well this was a lot more fun that I expected.  I've never seen Paul Henreid in a comedy and boy is he having fun in this one!  The film works partly because the actors are having a blast.  What's more is you've got a lot of jokes that land.  I laughed more than I thought I would, as in laughed out loud.  As is standard for even a big studio B picture, the costumes and set design are colorful and fun.  After seeing this flick I can see why there has been civil unrest in the Middle East for thousands of years...the chicks are smokin'!!!

The gal in the red in the last picture isn't even credited.  Kazah (Henreid) puts Ben Ali (Conried) into the magic box and transforms him into this hottie but she still has Ben Ali's voice.  The IMDb trivia says her name is Vivian Mason.  She's fucking hilarious.  She jumps into the middle of the dancers and tries her best to fit in but she's as clumsy as Ben Ali would be if he were still in male form.  She's brilliant in the few minutes she's on screen.  A short 73 minutes is all you get with this one and that's all you need.  I wish more movies knew when to quit when they should.  I recorded this off of TCM many years ago and finally got around to it.  This is one of those pictures that would be great on a rainy, quiet afternoon or back in '53 with a double feature, Warner Bros. cartoon, a Three Stooges short and a chapter from the latest serial (even though serials were a dying breed at this point).

Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

Director: Sam Liu

Writers: Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Brian Azzarello

Composers: Kristopher Carter, Michael McCuistion, Lolita Ritmanis

Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Tara Strong, Ray Wise, John DiMaggio, Robin Atkin Downes, Brian George, JP Karliak

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The madness begins.

Plot:  As Batman hunts for the escaped Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime attacks the Gordon family to prove a diabolical point mirroring his own fall into madness.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

Talk about a disappointment.  While I never read the graphic novel from (I think) the 80s, I'd heard a lot about it.  It sounded like a really dark and gritty tale.  So when I heard months ago that this was being brought to the screen with Conroy and Hamill back in their iconic roles AND that it was going to be rated R, I was properly excited.  Then I saw it.  It's OK.  When it came to delivering the grisly goods they only kind of went there.  For an R-rated picture there's no bad language, the violence is minimal and there's no nudity.  I guess it's only R for the adult themes...and to boost sales by slyly implying that it's going to earn it's adult rating.  Bullshit, I says.  I'd have to read the graphic novel to know where the film makers departed and expanded but the film they made feels like an extended episode for a late-night Batman animated series.  As it is, Batgirl has sex with Batman for the first, and presumably, the only time (which is fine but I'm not savvy on their history leading up to this point so I just have to assume that she's been hot for him for a long time and that he's totally OK nailin' a child or a very, very young woman) and then she spends the rest of the picture (until she's taken out of it) going through teen romance issues.  The Joker is the best part.  Hamill is outstanding in the role (as if he wouldn't be, right?) and he's the best part.  There was some great imagery but the overall film animation isn't nearly as smooth as you would expect for a movie, even though it was a direct-to-DVD film.  It looked like a rushed job you'd get from a TV series.  Maybe that's what they were going for.  I would have like more time spent on this project before making it this far and that's how the film felt, unfinished and needing more time and care to make into something ballsy, worthwhile and iconic.  The ONLY extra on the Warner Bros. DVD is a sneak preview of a new Batman video game!  Really, that's it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Big Country (1958)

Director: William Wyler

Writers: James R. Webb, Sy Bartlett, Robert Wilder, Jessamyn West, Donald Hamilton

Composer: Jerome Moross

Starring: Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, Carroll Baker, Charlton Heston, Burl Ives, Charles Bickford, Alfonso Bedoya, Chuck Connors, Chuck Hayward, Buff Brady

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Big they fought! Big they loved! Big their story!

Plot: A New Englander arrives in the Old West, where he becomes embroiled in a feud between two families over a valuable patch of land.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

I just watched this for the very first time.  I didn't know anything about it.  It looked like it might have a sugary love story mixed in with some pretty scenery.  The gorgeous location shooting is abundant but the lovey stuff is very minimal, VERY minimal.  It's like the genre grew up a little and took the male/female relationship (within a Western) to the next level.  So often a romance in a film hurts it or at least too much of one can bring a film down.  Not this picture.  The performances are very good (Burl Ives OWNS it in every scene he's in.  His entrance at the big party is top drawer stuff.  In every scene he tells more about himself that reveals a multi-layered character and not some pissed off rancher who wants revenge.  He's fantastic.  Jerome Moross's score is big, lush and a perfect compliment to the great outdoors on display.  Jim (Peck) does some unexpected things that got me to giving up what I think he's going to do next and just roll with it.  Early on you might have a good idea how the rest of the near-3-hour picture is going to play out but you'd only be partially correct.  The ending is outstanding and the absence of dialogue adds to its effectiveness.  Speaking of absence, the fist fight between Jim and Steve (Heston) goes on for a couple of minutes with no music and when the music does come in, it's just a quiet instrument or two.  It was very effective and I was impressed the film makers played it out like that.  Usually you'd get a busy, violent music cue.  As for being two hours and forty-five minutes long, it doesn't feel like it.  Looking back, there isn't a wasted scene in the film.  Everything that's there needs to be there.  Great flick.  The MGM DVD features the film in anamorphic widescreen with only the theatrical trailer (non-anamorphic widescreen) for an extra.  

Monday, August 15, 2016

Bombardier (1943)

Director: Richard Wallace

Writers: John Twist, Martin Rackin

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Pat O'Brien, Randolph Scott, Anne Shirley, Eddie Albert, Robert Ryan, Barton MacLane, Leonard Strong, Richard Martin

More info: IMDb

Tagline: See the bombing of Tokyo before your very eyes!

Plot:  Training of bombardiers in semi-documentary style, with personal stories and a battle climax.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I imagine that war propaganda pictures play a lot better during wartime (especially during the current war that's depicted on the screen).  This is one of those 'fire the boys up to take on the Japs and Jerrys' pictures that doesn't hide its patriotism.  I'm all about a gung-ho flick when it's good but they're usually too over the top for my taste.  Despite the thick and cheesy morale boosting, this one goes places I didn't expect.  Tom (played by Eddie Albert) goes through quite the character arc that has a shocking ending (REALLY cool and horrifying).  The ending is actually pretty damn awesome and heroic.  That was neat, too.  The love interests do serve a valuable purpose (for a change) in the film with one of them paying off in spades in the final moment of the picture.   Am I the only one who thinks Pat O'Brien's acting is rather wooden?  He certainly isn't an actor that moves much but he does better in roles like the priest in ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES (1938).  In everything else I've seen him in he's just kind of there, adequate but with low energy and low charisma.  This flick is no different.  He does OK but he's not exactly knocking it out of the park.  A lot of this movie is by the numbers and it does hit the beats needed to get the flags waving and while it's got some neat diversions, it's not going to make you yearn to be a bombardier. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Name Is Nobody (1973)

Original title: Il Mio Nome e Nessuno

Director: Tonino Valerii

Writers: Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella, Ernesto Gastaldi

Composer: Ennio Morricone

Starring: Terence Hill, Henry Fonda, Jean Martin, R.G. Armstron, Karl Braun, Leo Gordon, Steve Kanaly, Geoffrey Lewis, Mario Brega

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Nobody, but "Nobody," knows the trouble he's in!

Plot: A young, easygoing gunman (Hill) worships and competes with an old gunfighter (Fonda) who only wants to retire.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Great flick.  I haven't seen it in probably twenty years.  The 70s saw the decline in the Western genre and the Spaghetti Western went along with it, puttering out by the end of the decade.  This is one of the better films of the Euro Westerns of that period.  It's funny (the slap scene in the bar is classic), genuine and smart.  The ending is just great.  The cast is fun and you couldn't ask for a better pairing of the jovial Hill and the 'ready to retire' Fonda.  Nobody (Hill) knows every move to make and Jack (Fonda) stands back and lets him with wonderment.  The location shooting is great, with most of the film shot in the USA, which was unusual for an Italian Western (they usually filmed in and around Almeria, Spain).  Ennio Morricone's score is fantastic but I cringe with his hokey orchestration when the Wagner theme plays.  It's just a super fun film all the way around.  With some familiar faces like R.G. Armstrong and Geoffrey Lewis in it, it's a shame they didn't dub their own voices.  Fonda is the only actor to do so in English.  The RLJ Blu-ray looks good but it shows enough wear to think that hopefully there'll be a restoration somewhere down the road.  It still looks great but you can tell the print isn't what it could be.  Unfortunately there isn't a single extra on the disc.  You'd think a Blu touting the "40th Anniversary Edition" would have some bonus features.  You can get it for ten bucks.  Extras or not, it's worth it.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Shoot, Gringo... Shoot! (1968)

Original title: Spara, Gringo, Spara

Director: Bruno Corbucci

Writers: Mario Amendola, Bruno Corbucci

Composer: Sante Maria Romitelli

Starring: Brian Kelly, Fabrizio Moroni, Keenan Wynn, Erika Blanc, Folco Lulli, Linda Sini, Rik Battaglia

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Mexican land-owner Gutierrez offers to save Chad Stark from hanging if Stark will agree to find and return Gutierrez' runaway son, Fidel.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

This Spaghetti Western's not too bad.   At times it feels like a weaker re-telling of the excellent THE BIG GUNDOWN (1966)...too much so.   There's plenty of action and there's lots of role-reversals between Chad (Kelly) and his target, Fidel (Moroni).  I was really excited to watch this because of Keenan Wynn but his voice was dubbed by a familiar dubbing actor.  The guy's voice works but if you know what Wynn sounds like then you can't help but be disappointed.  The story is pretty good with lots of different situation encountered by our two leads.  The ending was probably the best part.  Much of the movie has a light-hearted tone brought on by Fidel but the last 15 or so minutes get deadly serious and film plays out nicely.  I wouldn't have minded an even darker ending but I'm satisfied as it is.  The Timeless DVD presents this film in anamorphic widescreen with a dirty, but good looking print.  It probably would've looked a little better if it weren't for this film sharing a single-sided disc with three other Spaghetti Westerns.  It's better than nothing and I am grateful for having more Spags on my shelf.  You can pick up the DVD pretty cheap, making it worth the while for fans of the genre.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Jackie Chan's First Strike (1996)

Original title: Ging Chaat Goo si 4: Ji Gaan Daan Yam Mo

Director: Stanley Tong

Writers: Greg Mellott, Elliot Tong, Stnaley Tong, Nick Tramontane

Composers: J. Peter Robinson (US version), Nathan Wang

Starring:  Jackie Chan, Jackson Liu, Annie Wu, Bill Tung, Yuriy Petrov, Nonna Grishaeva, John Eaves, Terry Woo, Krostopher Kazmarek

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Jackie Chan fights for America in his biggest action film ever.

Plot: Jackie, a cop, participates in a sting operation on an international spy-ring. But when one of them (Tsui) gets away, Jackie is ordered to apprehend him. This leads Jackie all over the globe starting with Tsui's sister in Australia. The story follows him as he tries to stay alive and capture the villain.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

How could you say 'no' to that face on the poster?  You can't.  Well, at least I can't.  I love this guy and no matter how goofy one of his movies might be, I cut him some slack because his movies are generally lots of fun.  The showpiece in this one is the ladder fight.  I'm always amazed at how creative Jackie is.  With a physical talent like that the story doesn't matter that much.  This flick, like a lot of his bigger budget action spectaculars has him all over the place from a big snowboard chase, to jumping around the edge of a high-rise building to an underwater fight that ultimately gets a shark involved to jumping a car onto a moving boat.  And how about those end credits bloopers?  I love that shit.  The only extra on the New Line snapcase DVD  is the theatrical trailer.  That and the print are anamorphic widescreen.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Suicide Squad (2016)

Director: David Ayer

Writer: David Ayer

Composer: Steven Price

Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jared Leto, Jai Courtney, Ezra Miller, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Cara Delevingne, Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara, Ben Affleck

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Justice has a bad side.

Plot: A secret government agency recruits a group of imprisoned supervillains to execute dangerous black ops missions in exchange for clemency, which inevitably leads to chaos.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

Up until now the newly created, re-vamped cinematic DC universe has been weak and polluted with problems, mostly stemming from folks not knowing who these characters are so that they can create movies that respect them and make them fun.  They gave Supes and Bats their shot and now it's the bad guys' turn and it's definitely an improvement but not a home run.  There's a lot to like in this picture.  Robbie is great as Harley Quinn and should've been in it more.  It's Will Smith's Deadshot that gets the bulk of the spotlight and I liked him more than usual because he was more reserved and grounded.  Robbie's all over the picture but she shines the brightest.  The rest of the cast does fine.  Leto's Joker is pretty darn good.  He's not in it much so you get little moments here and there.  I think that worked fine for what he was bringing to the iconic role.  You'd have to have a REALLY GOOD story to support a Joker-centric film with Leto.  I'm not convinced that the current talent behind the camera (mostly the studio and suits that are helping to ruin these films) could make it work.  I'd still love to see a Joker/Harely/Batman movie.  There are some nice moments between Joker and Harley.  Really nice.

The biggest problem the film has is the rushed pacing of introducing all of the characters AND giving most of them their back stories.  For the most part we don't need to know their origins.  The result is an almost clunky presentation of introductions.  Sometimes it works.  THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967) is a primo example of how you introduce a lot of characters in a short enough amount of time that you get a real good sense of who they are.  Their traits are stripped down to the bone so that you know who they are without necessarily knowing why they are.  The pacing in SS is a mixed bag.  It's quick and there's a point where the action is almost non-stop and that's a problem.  The only real moment we as an audience get to breathe is when the squad takes a break and hangs out alone in a bar.  It's a great scene and it goes a long way in humanizing these villains.  Then it's back tot he action until the credits roll.  I know this is comic book movie and Ayer had one hell of a task of introducing all of these characters and then throwing them into combat (a-hem, THE DIRTY DOZEN) but there's something missing.  Expecting these villains (all strangers to one another) to not only fight for the good guys' cause but to do it efficiently and effectively as a team (which they surprisingly do on their own) is a tall order.  If you saw any of the trailers you probably thought that this was going to be one fun as hell movie that would hopefully make up for the poor Supes and Bats movies that came before it.  You'd be wrong.  It sort of does.  The trailers made promises that this finished film couldn't deliver.  It's entertaining but it's not nearly as fun as it could have been, should have been and what the trailers promised.  You should still see it.  There's a lot to like and you'll find it in between all of the jumbled scenes that are thrown at the wall in the first half.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Control (2004)

Director: Tim Hunter

Writers: Todd Slavkin, Darren Swimmer

Composer: Louis Febre

Starring: Ray Liotta, Willem Dafoe, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Rea, Polly Walker, Kathleen Robertson, Tim DeKay, Mark Pickard, Stewart Alexander, Glenn Wrage

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Old habits die hard...

Plot: A sociopath on death row is given a chance to live if he agrees to take part in a chemical behavioral modification program.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Good flick.  I digs me some Liotta and Defoe and they both put in some good performances. The story is somewhat predictable but the ending is satisfying as is the neat little piece of business you find out near the end.  I really dug that.  It's a well-told story with likable characters that matter.  Liotta is particularly on top of it bringing his horrible character around to where you like the guy and you're rooting for him.  This is definitely worth checking out if it sounds remotely interesting.  The Sony DVD has a nice anamorphic widescreen print with a 16-minute making of featurette and 7 trailers (including one for this picture).  A commentary would be nice but I'll take what I can get.