Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan

Composer: Hans Zimmer

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D'Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy

More info: IMDb

Tagline: At the point of crisis, at the point of annihilation, survival is victory.

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

DUNKIRK forgoes any character development to concentrate on the gravity of the situation.  We don't need to feel a connection to any of these people because we should care about all of them as they're all in the same boat so to speak.  We want all of these men to make it home alive.  That means the film can stay focused the bravery of these people and get a glimpse of what it must've been like.  We get the perspective from those who contributed from the land, air and sea and there's an interesting device used to convey a sense of time.  As each of the three is introduced, there's a title card that tells us the time frame.  The land operation takes place over a week, the sea a day and by air an hour.  Writer/director Nolan doesn't waste time.  The film opens with nearly 400,000 soldiers waiting on the beach to be rescued and an effort to enlist civilian boats has begun.  What follows are men dying and others struggling to survive.  Zimmer does a fine job with the score.  He doesn't provide melodic themes so much as augmented, droning, atmospheric sound.  It worked nicely.  While it's only an hour and forty-six minutes long (including several minutes of end credits) nearly the entire picture is that struggle meaning it's constant tension.  It's not the grand slam the internet tells me it is but I like it very much.  I don't know what could've been different for me to like it even more but it might have something to do with being emotionally invested in the main characters.  As it is, the only reason why I cared about them is because I don't want to see the good guys lose.  Besides, they all needed to get home quick so they can rest up and get back to giving the Jerrys what fer!

You Can't Win 'Em All (1970)

Director: Peter Collinson

Writer: Leo Gordon

Composer: Bert Kaempfert

Starring: Tony Curtis, Charles Bronson, Michele Mercier, Patrick Magoo, Fikret Hakan, Gregoire Aslan, Leo Gordon, John Alderson, Tony Bonner, Horst Janson, John Acheson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Two soldiers of fortune matching wits and guns against the armies of two nations!

Plot: During the 1922 Turkish Civil War, two Americans and a group of foreign mercenaries offer their services to a local Turkish governor who hires them as guards for a secret transport.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

#49 on Project: Badass Charles Bronson

LEVEL OF BADASSICITY (10 being the highest): 9

Charles Bronson in his prime at 49 in 1970.  'Nuff said.  I'm surprised I hadn't seen this one before but that's OK because, as one of my favorite action heroes, I welcome every opportunity to see a Bronson picture for the first time (well, almost).  This one is fun.  Bronson smiles a lot and looks to be enjoying himself.  I like that rarely seen side of him.  Tony Curtis plays his usual happy go lucky, always on the make with the ladies character that he played so often during this period which is fine as he's very good at it.  Bronson grins and kicks a lot of ass but it's Curtis that provides the occasional laughs and some of his reactions are very, very funny.  There's plenty of outdoor war action going on and the location shooting in Turkey makes this even more special and different.   Patrick Magee is fourth billed but he doesn't show up until the last 6 minutes.  He probably put in one day's work for a nice little paycheck.  The Turkish landscape is beautiful and I can't say enough about how refreshing it was to see such a different type of landscape and period this film was set.

As you can see by the above video, Bronson logs in 41 kills.  He would've had more.  In fact, not many people know this but it was in his contract that he would get all of the kills in every movie because he felt, and rightfully so, that no one would ever believe that any of his co-stars would be able to get a kill in while Bronson was on the job.  It's still hard for me to accept that his kill count isn't in the hundreds.  It turns out that behind that super masculinity and solid testosterone lies a compassionate man so, at least for this picture, he was generous enough to allow Curtis to get a couple of lethal shot in and some of the other cast members.  I guess he felt bad for some of his crew that didn't get any speaking lines so he told the director, producers and studio that some of the other fellas can shoot some mofos dead.  It's a little known story but I swear it's true because I just made it up.  Another top Hollywood secret is that the studios would allow scenes in his romantic comedies where he would off a bunch of lowlifes only to have the footage end up on the cutting room floor.  Bronson never knew this as he wouldn't watch his own movies and it was only after his death that that little piece of skulduggery was leaked out.  They even waited 8 years to release it for fear that a freshly deceased Bronson was still a lethal Bronson. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Traveling Executioner (1970)

Director: Jack Smight

Writer: Garrie Bateson

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Starring: Stacy Keach, Marianna Hill, Bud Cort, Graham Jarvis, James Slyan, M. Emmet Walsh, John Bottoms, Ford Rainey, James Greene, Sam Reese, Stefan Gierasch, Logan Ramsey, Charles Tyner, William Mims, Val Avery, Walter Barnes, Charlie Briggs, Paul Gauntt

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  1918. The year this man traveled the South with a portable electric chair.

Plot:  Stacy Keach is an ex-con who in 1918 travels around the bayou with a portable electric chair. At $100 a head, he renders his services with loving care. But then he falls for a female "client".

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

What an unusual film this is.  Stacy Keach is fantastic.  He knocks it out of the park.  He's got two tender, passionate monologues, one at the beginning and one at the end.  It's good stuff.  I dig the setting of 1918 Louisiana, although it was filmed in Alabama and it could've just as well have taken place there.  It's a quirky film that gets even more odd when Jonas (Keach) cooks up a scheme to free Gundred (Hill) and he has to come up with a lot of dough to grease a few palms at the prison.  In his desperation he makes a big mistake and his predicament goes south and fast.  The final twenty minutes is some of the best work in the picture and it's worth sitting through everything else (even if you don't dig it as much as I did) just for the final act.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Murder Clinic (1966)

Original title: La Lama nel Corpo

Director: Elio Scardamaglia

Writers: Ernesto Gastaldi, Luciano Martino, Robert Williams

Composer: Francesco De Masi

Starring: William Berger, Francoise Prevost, Mary Young, Barbara Wilson, Philippe Hersent, Harriet Medin, Germano Longo, Massimo Righi, Delfi Mauro, Anna Maria Polani, Rossella Bergamonti, William Gold

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Bloodletter! Bone-chilling! The thing is subhuman and it has a knife!

Plot: Patients and staff of an isolated mental hospital are being killed off by a hooded maniac who stalks the halls.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I don't think the Giallo genre is for me.  I've liked so few of them and the rest often have pacing issues.  This picture looks fantastic.  The period look rivals that of Hammer.  De Masi's score has some really nice moments.  The acting (I watched an English dub) gets a tad too dramatic at times but it was fine for what it was but I just couldn't stay engaged.  It took a few attempts to get through it.  On paper and considering that it looks like a high quality picture, I expected more...and that's while I'm watching it, thinking this is going to be good as it unfolds.  I'll say this much, they kept me guessing who the killer was and I reckon I wasn't disappointed by the ending so much.  Geez, this was slow.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Homicidal (1961)

Director: William Castle

Writer: Robb White

Composer: Hugo Friedhofer

Starring: Glenn Corbett, Patricia Breslin, Eugenie Leontovich, Alan Bunce, Richard Rust, James Westerfield, Gilbert Green, Joan Marshall, Wolfe Barzell, Teri Brooks, William Castle, Joseph Forte, Ralph Moody, 'Snub' Pollard, Hope Summers

More info: IMDb

Tagline: SPECIAL "FRIGHT BREAK" * There will be a special FRIGHT BREAK during the showing of "Homicidal." Can your heart stand the challenge when the clock starts the COUNTDOWN?

Plot: The brutal stabbing murder of a justice-of-the-peace sparks an investigation of dark family secrets in a sleepy small town in Southern California.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This is William Castle's answer to Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1960) and it's not a bad one at that.  I'm not going to spoil anything and I recommend that if you're ever going to watch this to not allow yourself to be spoiled.  The ending is a great mind fuck and I was pleasantly surprised that it caught me off guard.  I LOVED the ending.  For most of the picture I was wondering if they'd have a good conclusion to all of this because it was a mixed bag for most of it.  The acting is good enough except for one actor and that one person bugged the shit out of me.  You get a great kill in the first twenty minutes that was harsh considering it was coming from Castle.  The mystery is a good one but it's the ending that makes it great.  I can't help but go apeshit for the ending.  Anyway, Castle just has to have a gimmick so he puts a clock on the screen near the end and warns the viewer.  That was awful.  Any tension he'd built up to then was ruined with that one move.  For me it boils down to some really great scenes and ideas marred by that gimmick of the warning clock and the general lower budget and filmmaking.  Had this material been handled with great seriousness to maximize the horror and suspense, it would be a classic.  I'm sure a European filmmaker could've done justice with this material.  As it is though, it's still a fun ride with one hell of a climax.

The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011)

Director: Mark Cousins

Writer: Mark Cousins

Starring: Mark Cousins, Juan Diego Botto

More info:  IMDb

Tagline: Made over six years, on four continents, covering 11 decades and a thousand films.

Plot: A comprehensive history of the medium and art of motion pictures.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

This 15-hour documentary on the history of film is staggering in its comprehension alone.  It's told from a lover of quality art film so most people will find it pretentious as I did at times.  The sheer amount of films discussed will have movie fans struggling to keep up writing the titles down to watch later.  I gave up minutes into the first episode and gave myself to the program.  It was a wonderful ride but there is one hangup - the narration (by Cousins, I think).  He has a manner of speaking that leaves most sentences leaning upward as if it were a question.  It's annoying and it took at least the first couple of hours before I was used to it and grew to like it.  I guess you could say I had no choice for if I wanted to continue the next 13 hours I'd have to accept it.  There are times where he's pretentious on his own merit, strange question speak not withstanding.  And there was one point where he came off as a complete asshole when he bluntly said that anyone who doesn't like this film (I forget which picture he was talking about) is wrong (both critics and laypeople).  I'm sorry, but any medium is subjective.  Something might generally accepted as beautiful, brilliant or well made but not everyone is going to see it that way.  That angered me even if I felt he could be right.  It's a lot to absorb and it's easy to feel small (I've probably seen over 10,000 movies in my lifetime and I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable and I felt inadequately prepared for this, discovering more movies that I didn't even know about), but get over it quickly and get through this.  For me, it's hearing others discuss movies.  At the very least, this is worth watching for the extraordinary amount of beautiful imagery that is burned on film forever (hopefully).

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Enemies of Reason (2007)

Director: Russell Barnes

Writer: Richard Dawkins

Composer:  Glenn Keiles

Starring: Richard Dawkins, Derren Brown, Deepak Chopra, Chris French, Craig Hamilton-Parker, Nicholas Humphrey, Satish Kumar

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Professor and well-known skeptic spends 90 minutes exploring many beliefs people have that go against proven science.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Richard Dawkins: "We should be open minded but not so open minded that our brains fall out."

The first half of this British TV documentary tackles such wacky shit as astrology, water dowsing, psychics and so on.  These are low hanging fruit and make easy targets but there's an extraordinary amount of people who believe in them and waste billions of dollars on them.  But they also offer the easiest and most accessible subjects to introduce to those unaware of how easily they can be explained as bogus.  That's just what Dawkins does.  His voice is pleasing, his questions are just and his explanations are sound.  This is the fun half of the program.  The second half gets serious and deals strictly with health and medicine tackling homeothapy among others.  This is much more dry and less entertaining but it's just as informative and important.  You don't have to be a skeptic to enjoy this.  It's fun and you'll learn something coming from the very real world of science and reality which is far more fascinating than superstition and the supernatural.  I've seen this twice in the past yen years so I think that's enough.

The Great McGinty (1940)

Director: Preston Sturges

Writer: Preston Sturges

Composers: Friedrich Hollaender, John Leipold

Starring: Brian Donlevy, Muriel Angelus, Akim Tamiroff, Allyn Joslyn, William Demarest, Louis Jean Heydt, Harry Rosenthal, Arthur Hoyt, Libby Taylor, Thurston Hall

More info: IMDb

Tagline: WHATTA GUY! He loved a fight or a frolic...and he usually found one!

Plot: Depression-era bum Dan McGinty is recruited by the city's political machine to help with vote fraud. His great aptitude for this brings rapid promotion from "the boss," who finally decides he'd be ideal as a new, nominally "reform" mayor; but this candidacy requires marriage. His in-name-only marriage to honest Catherine proves the beginning of the end for dishonest Dan...

My rating:  7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Preston Sturges, in his directorial debut, has a lot to say about politics and humanity.  It's often funny but the political horseshit is right on target.  It would be funnier if it weren't so spot on true.  The performances are very good.  I think I like Donlevy before he slid past his prime.  He's perfect for this role.  And the same goes for Tamiroff, an actor that it seems every movie I've seen him in he plays so over the top that it's annoying as hell.  Not here.  He's A-OK.  The first two thirds of the picture straddle the funny well but it's the last act where barely a joke is had and it's here where it gets serious and very real, a stark contrast to what came before.  I really enjoyed that part the most because if felt sincere and it packs some punch.  It's a great first time effort and it was only the next year when Sturges would make what many consider his masterpiece, SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (1941), a picture I haven't seen in thirty years.  I should correct that.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Ghosts That Still Walk (1977) movie poster

Director: James T. Flocker

Writer: James T. Flocker

Composers: Ronald Stein, Hod David Schudson, The Edgar Kelly Band, Richard Thompson, Michael Tshudin

Starring: Ann Nelson, Matthew Boston, Jerry Jensen, Caroline Howe, Rita Crafts, Janice Renney, Lee James, Phil Catalli, David Kane

More info: IMDb


Plot: A young boy is possessed by the spirit of an Indian medicine man and begins to terrorize the local population.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Geez.  This movie is sloooooow.  It's essentially a horror anthology but the kicker is each of the three stories involves the three main characters, Grandma (Nelson in her film debut), her grandson Mark (Boston) and Dr. Sills (Crafts).  Once we breakaway to the first story after the set-up it's all about Grandma and Grampa from a few years earlier when they're driving their RV across the California desert.  Their RV has a mind of its own, swerves all over the lonely highway and eventually offroad when it just stops.  Minutes later small to large rocks and boulders roll across the landscape toward them like tumbleweeds.  Gramps gets the rig started and they're chased by big rocks!  It's a wonderful idea and Flocker is sometimes effective at showing us but the scenes go on too long which takes the wind out of any horror or suspense he's going for.  It really lasts much too long.  The next two stories involve the kid and the doctor, both of which suffer from even worse pacing than the tumblerocks.  How's the payoff?  I had zero shits left by the end.  It was OK and you could tell there were some kernels of good ideas but they're lost in the bad pacing and execution. 

Man with the Gun (1955)

Director: Richard Wilson

Writers: N.B. Stone Jr., Richard Wilson

Composer: Alex North

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Jan Sterling, Karen Sharpe, Henry Hull, Emile Meyer, John Lupton, Barbara Lawrence, Ted de Corsia, Leo Gordon, James Westerfield, Claude Akins, Angie Dickenson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: His Gun Was For Sale...And His Life With It!

Plot: When a notorious tough 'town tamer' is hired by the citizenry to rid of the gunmen driving them off their land, he finds the local saloon madam to be an old friend.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.'s OK.  I was hoping for more and there was a moment when the film promised it but then it just kind of ended without much of a sizzle.  Mitchum does fine as the stoic gunfighter who agrees to clean up the town.  He sticks to his rules and shit gets done...until he gets pissed his ex-gal so he kills the owner of the saloon where she works and burns it to the ground.  It would've been nice if the film kept going with that anger and changed the tone of the last act but it doesn't.  The last fifteen minutes builds to the showdown between the bad guy and his right hand man but it's so weak of a buildup and finale that I couldn't help but wonder why they went that way instead of any number of more exciting routes.  I must have blinked during the opening credits because I didn't see who the composer was.  During the saloon fire I knew instantly as the cue sounded far to similar to his fight cue from SPARTACUS (1960), way too similar.  Ultimately the movie is a missed opportunity but it does offer enough entertainment value that it's worth a look for fans of Bob.

Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs (1974)

Original title: Zeroka no Onna: Akai Wappa

Director: Yukio Noda

Writers: Fumio Konami, Hiro Matsuda, Tooru Shinohara

Composer: Shunsuke Kikuchi

Starring: Miki Sugimoto, Eiji Go, Tesuro Tanha, Hideo Murota, Yoko Mihara, Ichiro Araki, Seiji Endo, Hiromi Kishi, Rokko Toura

More info: IMDb

Plot: After a politician's daughter is kidnapped by a ruthless gang, a brutal policewoman is released from jail and sent after them.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

It's been at least ten years since I saw this and I didn't remember anything about it (thanks, fucked up memory).  At least I had some fun seeing it again for the first time.  Where the lead in this Pinky Violence flick is lacking in charisma (I'll give her the benefit of the doubt that the character is so jaded and burnt out that she's so drab), it makes up in hard violence and lots of nudity (I love the Japanese people so, so much.  Thanks, ya'll!).  The violence is really fucking harsh and in your face.  Like all of the PVs I've seen so far, the cinematography is fantastic with eye popping colors and camera angles that give these films the style they're known for.  The nudity isn't the sexy kind.  When you get it the girls are being raped or tortured.  While it's not a slow film, the finale feels like it's a long time coming.  I could've used a couple of minutes trimmed from that last fifteen minutes but you do get your money's worth with the brutality and action.  The ending delivers a great payoff that leaves enough for the viewer to piece together without having to hold your had to explain it.  It's a good entry into the PV genre but so far, nothing tops GIRL BOSS GUERILLA (1972) which is so good that I don't think there's a better film in the wonderful, crazy world of Pinky Violence.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

10 Rillington Place (1971)

Director: Richard Fleischer

Writers: Clive Exton, Ludovic Kennedy

Composer: John Dankworth

Starring: Richard Attenborough, Judy Geeson, John Hurt, Pat Heywood, Isobel Black, Miss Riley, Phyllis MacMahon, Andre Morell, Robert Hardy

More info: IMDb

Tagline: What happened to Ena and Geraldine and Beryl and Muriel and Rita and Ethel at 10 Rillington Place?

Plot: Based on the real-life case of the British serial killer John Christie, and what happened to his neighbours Tim and Beryl Evans.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Sure.

The movie starts of innocently enough and then BAM!  The first kill within a few short minutes!  Nice!!!  Something else happens early on and that's the appearance of John Hurt looking like I've never seen him before...young.  He's always looked old to me ever since I first time I saw him in anything.  It was ALIEN (1979).  I thought he was born middle-aged.  Jokes aside, it was odd seeing him look like he just got out of high school even though he was 29 when he made this.  The plot builds as you know Tim's (Hurt) young bride, Beryl (Geeson), is going to probably snuff it at some point as Christie (Attenborough) is very sweet on her.  See, this is based on the true account of this guy who strangled and then had sex with his victims.  Nearing the halfway mark I was very settled into the film and thinking it was OK but nothing all that great.  Then a certain something happens and there's no friggin' way Christie's getting out of this one.  From that point on I was hooked and taking up a good chunk of the edge of my seat.  The second half is even better than the first.  It's a good film with very good performances.  Some my find it a little slow but do stick with it because it gets interesting really fast just when you think it can't.  It's worth the wait.  An odd aside, this just happened to be the second Richard Fleischer movie I saw within three days.  The other was THE NEW CENTURIONS (1972), another very good picture.

Deadly Trackers (1972)

Original title: La Lunga Cavalcata della Vendetta

Director: Tanio Boccia

Writer: Tanio Boccia

Composer: Carlo Esposito

Starring: Richard Harrison, Anita Ekberg, Rik Battaglia, Furio Meniconi, George Want, Emilio Vale, Dada Gallotti, Omero Gargano

More info: IMDb

Plot: Jeff sets out to murder each one of the five outlaws who robbed, raped and killed his poor sister.

My rating: 4.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Yawn.  Example.  In the first half hour there's a chase (of sorts) of the bad guys chasing a woman on horseback in the desert.  It lasts far too long and the music, which does nothing to build any attention or excitement, is dull and repetitive.  I wouldn't say that that scene represents the problem with the film but it's certainly a real drag on it.  The only thing I thought was interesting was having Jeff (Harrison) makes himself sheriff in the town the bad guys have taken over so he can wait for them to return and kill them.  Even the finale was ho-hum and it didn't help that the time before that was spent in a lull while he and Jane (Ekberg) have tender talking time.  Hell, she's barely in it until at least the last half hour.  It's middle of the road at best but the slow (unintentional, I'm sure) pacing pulls it down.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Night of the Hell Hamsters (2006)

Director: Paul Campion

Writers: Paul Campion, Hadyn Green, Mike Roseingrave

Composer: Andrea Possee

Starring: Ailsa Baker, Beth Charlesworth, Paul Campion, Pete Connell, Ryan Lloyd, Paul O'Neill, Elisabeth Pinto, Stephanie Ratcliff

More info: IMDb

Tagline: From the very pits of hell, furry death on four tiny stumpy feet!

Plot: A young couple unwittingly bring about the apocalypse - by possessed hamsters.

My rating:  7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

OK, I think I've seen this a half dozen times over the past few years (it's something fun to toss on during a party).  It's one of those things that sound like it began with the title and the filmmakers worked their way backwards.  It is a great title and a fun idea that works well at sixteen minutes. The first half is fast paced and fun but once the hamsters dispose of the first victim that's where things slow down a bit and stays there.  I think since the hell hamsters have been released into the real world they wouldn't muck around, playing with their victim.  Shit would move a lot faster than it does here (thus making it that much more fun for us).  The ending is neat.  Overall it's a cute little film with a surprising amount of gore.  Plus, it's amazing what you can do with editing and sound effects.  It wasn't until I was writing this up that I noticed the writer/director also did THE DEVIL'S ROCK (2011), his only feature film.  That's a very good film and horror fans should seek it out.  Seriously, though, Paul, make some more movies, man!  You've got talent. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Manson Family (1997)

Director: Jim Van Bebber

Writer: Jim Van Bebber

Composers: Phil Anselmo, Ross Karpelman

Starring: Marcelo Games, Marc Pitman, Leslie Orr, Maureen Allisse, Amy Yates, Jim Van Bebber, Tom Burns, Michelle Briggs, Sherri Rickman, Nate Pennington, M.M. Jones, Carl Day, Jim Sayer, Mark Gillespie, Paul Harper, Norris Hellwig

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most notorious mass murderers in American history

Plot: A dramatization of the horrific and notorious Manson Family Murders, in the form of super 8 home movies.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Oh, yeah!

What a powerful film.  Writer/director/actor/producer/editor/special effects guy Van Bebber so much into this that it had to be a labor of love and it shows.  It's a brilliant picture incorporating interviews, drama, documentary style scenes, re-creations and all kinds of techniques to form a great narrative that goes where all other films and documentaries I've seen don't dare go.  It's the underground, not-afraid-to-show-it story of what happened before, during and after their infamous murders and it doesn't pull any punches.  It's loaded with nudity and gore.  Much of the picture looks authentic as if it were shot nearly fifty years ago.  The sound is fantastic and it's at times almost a collage of words, music and effects that don't fit the typical narrative but it works beautifully here.  It's trippy, ballsy and simply down & dirty fantastic.  Highly recommended.  I've got the Blu-ray set now for the next time I'm ready for a re-vist.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Director: Jon Watts

Writers: Jonathan Goldstein, John Francis Daley, Jon Watts, Christopher Ford, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly, Abraham Attah, Hannibal Buress, Kenneth Choi, Jennifer Connelly, Stan Lee, Chris Evans

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Homework can wait. The city can't.

Plot: Peter Parker, with the help of his mentor Tony Stark, tries to balance his life as an ordinary high school student in New York City while fighting crime as his superhero alter ego Spider-Man when a new threat emerges.

My rating: 9/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes!

I LOVED IT!  This is the funniest of the Disney Marvel movies so far.  The action is great, the cast is top drawer, the music, story, the works.  I loved the emotional beats between Peter Parker and Tony Stark.  They felt earned.  When it comes down to it, despite the 133 minute run time, I could've used a lot more - partly because it was that damn good and I wanted to spend more time with the characters and partly because I would've liked to have spent more time character building. Tom Holland is fabulous as Parker/Spider-Man.  He's a lovable spaz.  I really dug how Tony Stark is branching out as a pseudo-father figure.  Captain America's bits are hilarious and what he brings after the credits had me howling.  And speaking of laughing, I lost my shit with laughter with Aunt May's line just before the end credits began.  My only head-scratching moment is the ferry scene.  How could that boat stay afloat when sliced in half?  I'll pay more attention the next time I see it.  Oh, and one more thing, I love what they did with Toomes, giving him a lot of humanity and a very justifiable motive for being the bad guy.  He's charming, funny and very dangerous and menacing.  Keaton is outstanding in the role and I wanted so much more time with him.  I guess that's the biggest compliment I can give is that I had so much fun I didn't want it to end.  I hope this movie makes all the monies.

The Cry of the Black Wolves (1972)

Original title: Der Schrei der Schwarzen Wolfe

Director: Harald Reinl

Writers: Jack London, Kurt Nachmann, Rolf Olsen

Composer: Gerhard Heinz

Starring: Ron Ely, Raimund Harmstorf, Gila von Weitershausen, Arthur Brauss, Angelica Ott, Jean-Claude Hoffmann, Hans Terofal, Catharina Conti, Carl Lange, Alexander Grill, Dan van Husen

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The power and savagery of the Northern wilderness leaps from the screen as only Jack London could describe.

Plot: Mountain man Bill Robin (Ely) battles nature and the bounty hunter hired to kill him for killing another man, only he's innocent.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

I've had a boy/man crush on Ron Ely since I was a little kid in 70s watching him in TV's TARZAN and DOC SAVAGE: MAN OF BRONZE (1975).  He's got that cool, calm badassery about him that few actors possess.  Plus he's about 6'5" so he makes for an imposing dude.  There's a lot to like in this picture besides Ely (even though his voice is dubbed by another actor).  The story, while somewhat simple, has enough going for it that I wasn't bored for a moment and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous (it was filmed in Austria but it sure looks great standing in for Alaska).  The buildings look and feel authentic, inside and out and there's a little gunplay and action spread throughout the film, from beginning to end.  And the ending?  Not bad.  I liked it.  One bonehead reviewer on IMDb said it was the worst movie he'd ever seen.  He must not've seen many movies.  This is definitely worth watching.  I watched a great looking widescreen print.  I'd steer away from anything fullscreen.  The scenery alone deserves better.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Witch (1966)

Original title: La Strega in Amore

AKA: Strange Obsession

Director: Damiano Damiani

Writers: Damiano Damiani, Carlos Fuentes, Ugo Liberatore

Composer: Luis Bacalov

Starring: Richard Johnson, Rosanna Schiaffino, Gian Maria Volonte, Sarah Ferrati, Margherita Guzzinati, Vittorio Venturoli, Ivan Rassimov, Ester Carloni, Giovanni Ivan Scratuglia, Elisabetta Wilding

More info: IMDb

Plot: A historian goes to a castle library to translate some ancient erotic literature. While there he discovers what he believes to be supernatural forces at work.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

It held my interest until the last half hour which is weird because that's when shit really gets crazy for Sergio (Johnson).  Until that point they do a pretty good job of weaving strange goings on with a nice atmosphere, camerawork, performances and pacing but after a while it started fatiguing me and that's when the crazy shit ramps up.  I was kind of done at that point and by the time it was over, so was I.  That's not to say it's not a good movie, it is to a point, but it does meander longer than it should.   The last scene is good but it's after an hour and 40 minutes of only so-so compelling storytelling. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Son of Cleopatra (1964)

Original title: Il Figlio di Cleopatra

Director: Ferdinando Baldi

Writers: Anacleto Fontini, Ferdinando Baldi, Franco Airaldi

Composer: Carlo Rustichelli

Starring: Mark Damon, Scilla Gabel, Arnoldo Foa, Livio Lorenzon, Samira Ahmed, Shukry Sarhan, Leila Fawzi, Paolo Gozlino

More info: IMDb

Plot: In Roman-dominated Egypt, the corrupt administration of a governor named Petronius has sparked a revolt headed by El Kabir, a young man who learns that he's actually the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. When Petronius' daughter, Livia, newly-arrived from Rome, falls into his hands, El Kabir uses this opportunity to win her over to his side before releasing her to her father. Livia's efforts to promote peace, however, are thwarted, and only the arrival of Octavian Caesar can bring about a resolution to the troubled situation.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I'm a sucker for any movie or show set in ancient Rome.  This is one of the better Italian Sword & Sandal pictures.  It's got wonderful production values, filmed in Egypt, there's a huge cast, plenty of actions and outdoor desert scenery.  On top of that Rustichellis provides a large score (bigger and better than the usual S&S fare) and you can hear some of the best of it in the opening action sequence.  The picture starts of with a bang and rarely lets go.  I can't imagine this being in anyone's top 20 S&S flicks but it is quite better than the average stuff this genre cranked out.  The performances, though all dubbed, are pretty good and the story is good enough but man, oh man, this is a great looking picture.  Another thing that struck me was the large cast of extras used in the battle scenes.  It makes the movie look much larger than you'd expect and it's better for it.  I watched a great looking anamorphic widescreen print and I'm better for it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Stunt Squad (1977)

Original title: La Polizia e Sconfitta

Director: Domenico Paolella

Writers: Dardano Sacchetti, Domenico Paolella

Composer: Stelvio Cipriani

Starring: Marcel Bozzuffi, Vittorio Mezzogiorno, Riccardo Salvino, Nello Pazzafini, Claudia Giannotti, Francesco Ferracini, Simona Ogier

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Hand picked to stamp out crime and violence in the city's streets

Plot: After criminal gangs wreak havoc in the streets of Italy, a take-no-guff police commissioner forms a highly trained band of motorcycle riding cops to stop them.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This better than average Italian crime film from the 70s (a sub genre called Poliziotteschi) features a good deal of action and it is spread throughout to pepper the excitement value.  It's a pretty fast paced film that delivers the crime goods.  There's even a sweet breather at a bar...

Man, where the hell is this joint?  Road trip!  This picture has all of the ingredients to making a good Poliziotteschi like a groovy action score and even a little nudity which is something you don't see often enough in this genre but it's almost always welcome.  I like a little sleaze in my 70s crime pictures.  Hell I like a little sleaze in just about everything (come on, Disney, step it up a little, will ya?).  Like every genre there are turkeys, gems and a whole lot in between.  If you're into the genre or you want to try something different in the crime/action genre, give this one a shot.  Chances are you'll dig it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Alcatraz: Surviving the Rock (2010)

Director: ???

Writer: Shirley Tatum, Dan Bree

Composer: ???

Starring: David McAlister, Alan Bruce, Matt Farrell, James Ferguson, Michael Gallagher, James Geranios, James Going, Michael Goode, Ted Machado, Galen Murphy-Hofman, James Rufini, Michael Saldate, Barry Walton

Plot:  A brief history of the prison years of Alcatraz Island.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yeah.

I think I've seen this twice already.  A few years ago I was visiting San Francisco and I visited Alcatraz.  It's an AMAZING place.  You know, it's a nice place to visit but you wouldn't want to live there.  Ahahahahahaha.  But seriously, it's a fantastic National Park with top notch exhibits, self guided tours (the audio presentation is outstanding), wonderful park rangers and then there's the site itself.  OK, back to the show.  Made for the National Geographic Channel, this 45 minute documentary gives an excellent overview of what life was like there.  99% of the film deals with the years it was in operation as a prison.  They cover the notable escape attempts and uprisings and the most famous inmates.  What's neat is there are interviews with inmates and guards alive at the time they made this.  That was one of the biggest treats for me.  If there's one prison that most people can name, it's Alcatraz and this documentary should be at the top of your list of films that tackle the subject. 

Kung Fury (2015)

Director: David Sandberg

Writer: David Sandberg

Composers: Johan Bengtsson, Lost Years, Patrik Oberg

Starring: David Sandberg, Jorma Taccone, Steven Chew, Leopold Nilsson, Andreas Cahling, Per-Henrik Arvidius, Erik Hornqvist, Frank Sanderson, Eleni Young, Helene Ahlson, Yasmina Suhonen, Magnus Betner, Bjorn Gustafsson, Eos Karlsson, David Hasselhoff

More info: IMDb

Tagline: It takes a cop from the future to fight an enemy from the past.

Plot: In 1985, Kung Fury, the toughest martial artist cop in Miami, goes back in time to kill the worst criminal of all time - kung fuhrer Hitler.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Fucking hilarious, creative and fun as hell!  Director/writer/star Sadnberg nails the 80s vibe while throwing in funny all over the place and filling it with entertaining action and comedy.  The character names are brilliant and practically write the jokes themselves.  For example: Kung Fury (Sandberg), Kung Fuhrer and Triceracop.  This shit is a blast and it's simply an insanely fun genre mix of action and laughs.  Oh, and the special effects are great and cheesy bad in all the right ways at all the appropriate times.  Those of us who were around for the awesome 1980s should really dig this newer blast from the past.  I'm not so sure those who were around for Hitler's 1930s and 40s would appreciate it nearly as much.  It's only a half hour long which feels like a big teaser for something more to come.  There has been a sequel announced for 2018 and I really hope that happens.  In the meantime enjoy the bonkers music video below.  Not only is the song a great representation of the kinds of songs we got for action movies in the 80s but it's also a damn great tune that easily stands alongside the best of them.  I love this song and the video to boot.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baby Driver (2017)

Director: Edgar Wright

Writer: Edgar Wright

Composer: Steven Price

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Jon Bernthal, CJ Jones, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonzalez, Micah Howard, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Flea, Jamie Foxx, Paul Williams, Walter Hill

More info: IMDb

Tagline: All you need is one killer track.

Plot: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes!!!

Boy, was this movie fun!  It's a thrill ride that rarely lets up.  I can see how someone might think this is style over substance but the characters are fun, the actors do a fine job, the action is a blast and at times intense, it's got a good story, some great stunts and a soundtrack that kicks all kinds of butt.  Edgar Wright seems to have put as much time into the music and integrating it into the picture than he did on everything else.  Just in the opening credits alone you can see how intricate and clever he gets with the visuals playing along with the music and later he adds another character to interact with the audio and visual with the editing and then it's really fun. The only thing I that bugged me was the big car fight in the parking garage at the end and that it went on too long.  I felt fatigued.  Maybe it was because I'd already sat through an awful lot of movie that's loaded with action or maybe it's because I felt that the movie could've ended just before that character shows up to do battle.  By the time that scene was over I was exhausted...and then there was still more movie to come.  I still really enjoyed all of what followed, though.  And how awesome is it seeing Paul Williams back in action?  Loved it!

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

Director: Denis Sanders

Writer: Nicholas Meyer

Composer: Charles Bernstein

Starring: William Smith, Anitra Ford, Victoria Vetri, Cliff Osmond, Wright King, Ben Hammer, Anna Aries, Andre Philippe, Sid Kaiser, Katie Saylor, Bevery Powers, Jack Perkins, Rene Bond

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They'll Love The Very Life Out Of Your Body!

Plot: A powerful cosmic force is turning Earth women into queen bees who kill men by wearing them out sexually.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

OK, this has all the makings for a great B-picture.  You've got the amazing William Smith, a wacky, goofy story...and boobs!  The filmmakers took the material seriously although there are a few intentional, subtle laughs.  Smith gets little chance to show off his physical prowess (but when he does he kicks major ass).  The story gives him enough detective work to keep him (and us) busy plus there's the boobs.

The problem is that there isn't enough of Smith being a badass (there's very little) and there isn't enough nudity to hold up nearly 90 minutes.  Cut it down to about an hour and you might have a tight little piece of entertainment but it would still need to be punched up with the good stuff.  At the end of it all I was disappointed by the lack of entertainment value I got out of something that promised so, so much.  It's still worth watching but lower your expectations.  I'm just glad it wasn't called INVASION OF THE B CUPS.