Thursday, March 31, 2011

L is for... [part 2]

When Mac MacIntyre (played with deadpan perfection by Peter Riegert) is sent by his star-gazing, slightly insane Knox Oil and Gas boss (Burt Lancaster) to Scotland's West Coast to buy the rights to a seaside town slated to be the site of an oil refinery, Mac embarks on his journey reluctantly. "Why do I have to go to all the way to Scotland?" Mac complains to a coworker. "I'm really more of a Telex man." But on the way to closing the deal, a funny thing happens: the place takes root in Mac. The town's eccentric inhabitants, eventful night sky, and stunning scenery soak into his psyche and combine to bring a very different Mac to the surface, a Mac who collects seashells, walks on the beach in his jeans instead of his suit, and throws his calendar watch, beeping "meeting time in Houston," into the sea.

Mac eventually vies to switch places with Gordon Urquhart--accountant, bartender, innkeeper, and community representative in the land deal. After an evening spent drinking 42-year-old scotch ("old enough to be out on its own," Mac chirps, and then laughs smugly at his own joke) and negotiating the real estate deal, Mac tries to negotiate a deal for himself--to trade his high-rise Houston apartment, Porsche, and oil-company job for Urquhart's less traditional, but more fulfilling, life.

The plot runs along almost as if behind the scenes, and the characters are intriguing, but the real appeal here is the incisive yet gentle humor. During a visit to a Knox Oil lab, Mac is shown into a room that contains a miniature of the town he has been sent to purchase. The head of the lab says, "Welcome to our little world," and then gives Mac the plastic replica of the town as a souvenir. "Dream large," he intones. The irony's easy to miss and is just one example of the intelligent presence--in the form of writer and director Bill Forsyth--working behind the scenes here.

Mark Knopfler's delicate, haunting soundtrack complements the sometimes melancholy, sometimes hilarious currents of Local Hero to perfection. (synopsis provided by

directed by Bill Forsyth

released 1983

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Faster [2010]

[This review is rated R for salty language]

The Rock gets out of jail – and starts going after the fuckers who killed his brother and put him in jail.

This film doesn’t fuck around. I LOVE THAT! We don’t need comedy – we don’t need romance – we need to see this character do what he sets out to do. He needs to be an unmovable/unstoppable object of destruction of anything in his path. Give him a gun – a muscle car – point him in a direction and let him go!

The film was pitch perfect – The Rock was a hulking beast of a revenge machine – no real acting needed – just a monster of a man going forth. Billy Bob Thornton is always interesting when given quirky strange characters to play – and his wily drug addled detective on the case was pretty good. They play a sort of cat & mouse game – unbeknownst to The Rock – which I really liked.

This wouldn’t be much of a review if I just heap praise on a no-brainer of a film like this – so let me get to what always seems to derail these kind of films; the secondary characters - namely the assassin that’s hired to stop The Rock. Ultimately – there’s nothing wrong with the character – he’s a finesse killer and respects that The Rock is a pure killing machine – but he’s just unnecessary as a character especially once you consider the film after viewing it completely. He detracts more than he adds and takes the focus off the two far more interesting characters who are playing their cat & mouse game – which is just annoying. He can be viewed as the outside set of eyes – but if that was his purpose – then they should’ve dropped his plot points which were all one way dead end streets.

The last part of the film did seem to slow down a bit as it got to the film’s ultimate conclusion – but it built up a lot of good faith in me by delivering so much in the parts proceeding that I for one could care less about the slowdown.

This film is a revenge based exploitation film that makes me miss pure action films – and not films based on franchises, comic books and children toys. This is an action film for adults who love action films – it doesn’t fuck around with the whole “let’s try and pull in a wider audience by making it PG-13 – then release the Unrated DVD/Blu-Ray” – it’s a hard R from start to finish – the way real action films should be.

I really respect DeWayne “The Rock” Johnson for taking on a film like this – I know he wants to put more of himself out there with family friendly stuff and more complex roles where he has dialogue and character development – but what’s the point of being built like a mountain and NOT play a motherfucking badass?!?!?

The film wasn’t perfect – it was great – and it tickled all the right parts of my mind that just loves watching a kick ass action film. It makes me want to eat a raw steak while drinking out of a creek and carry around my giant stick for hitting things – 5 out of 5 (really more of a 4 out of 5 – but why not the extra bump?)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

L is for...

The third stop in Chan-wook Park's breathless revenge trilogy, Lady Vengeance comes down slightly--just slightly--from the astonishing highs of middle segment Oldboy. Elegant and ultraviolent in equal measures, Lady Vengeance requires rapt attention from the opening moments, as Park unloads his set-up in a jumble of characters and flashbacks. At the center is a doll-faced ex-con named Geum-ja (Yeong-ae Lee), who just spent 13 years in the slammer for killing a little boy. There's much more to her case than the public knows, and Geum-ja has been carefully, quietly preparing for revenge against the man who put her in this situation. We watch those gears turning throughout the movie, but as Lady Vengeancenears its completion it broadens into an even bigger event than Geum-ja expected. Funny and horrifying, Lady Vengeance is as measured as Geum-ja's own preparations, and has a gorgeous sort of logic about it. As impressive as those machinations are to watch, the movie doesn't make as forceful an argument as Oldboy on just how revenge might be as punishing to the revenge-taker as for his target. Lee is a cool heroine, and Min-sik Choi, who did such heroically exhausting service in Oldboy, is here employed as the monster. (The film's title in the U.S., Lady Vengeance, is different from international title Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, a closer tie to the first part of the trilogy, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.) (synopsis provided by

directed by Park Chanwook

released 2005

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Never Let Me Go [2010]

It may not be subtle - but it doesn't mean that it doesn't make for great science fiction. No guns were shot, no explosions rocked the screen, no villains were stopped, no aliens, no futuristic machines... Just a heartbreaking story captured in the context of a science fiction film that makes for a good film. I quite liked this film - and wanted to put up something in regards to it right after ejecting it. When I get my Netflix - I try to watch the film that I think has the least potential for me really liking first - so that I have something to look forward to once I pop in the second and third discs - but now the other two films have something to live up to.

[directed by Mark Romanek, 2010]

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ewan McGregor's Penis

I love looking at my stats on Blogger and seeing that I've got nearly 6,000 hits on my blog - but if you take a look at the most frequently looked at entry is - it cracks me up. After I put up that Ewan McGregor entry - I thought - what a waste of a posting but at least I got something up on my blog - so isn't it most likely that low-and-behold it's somehow my most popular entry... Everyday people are accessing that entry from all over the world - seriously every continent is checking out that entry. If one of you people who is checking out that Ewan McGregor entry is reading this - could you please tell me why?
Then my little stupid Devil entry - where I felt the need to mock the amount of commercials that were being played - is the #4 most viewed entry? I'm glad people found it humorous - but what?
None of the entries that have been linked to from The Mad Hatter's blog are in the top 5 - which is pretty funny too. So, linkage don't beat people's love of the weird ass shit that I've already posted.
I'm happy that my Worst Movie Roommate entry is in the top 5 - that was one that I had on the side for a long time - and wanted to try and get back into my blogging groove with it. Though that didn't happen - I was happy that I finally got it up.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Director Roulette

I’m leaning toward doing Director Roulette for my next big movie blogging project – the only problem is; me.

I can random up a bunch of director’s names all I want – but ultimately they will be the same ones that I’m comfortable with and have in my collection - the same ones that fill my blog presently. I really do need to branch out a bit to make this interesting – not only for you but for me! So, I’ve been sneaking around some of your blogs and picking up names – and fixating on directors that I may be familiar with but haven’t seen a few of their films so I can make it a bit more interesting.

I’ve got a while to iron this out – considering my journey through my DVD collection is only just finished the K’s – but much like that project – I want to work on it early and get so far ahead of myself that I can have content for several weeks without missing time. Also, considering I’m going to force myself to write “original content” – not just copied and pasted synopsis – I need to get started while I have free time.

So, here’s where I ask you to give me the names of a few directors that you really like – that’s possible that I haven’t been as hip to.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

K is for... [part 2]

Let's face it: No one is usually checking a Jet Li movie for the verbal sparring. In Kiss of the Dragon, Chinese undercover agent Li chops his way through Paris after he's framed in some sketchily defined drug sting operation. The fight sequences are tough and quite brutal, and the over-the-top finale is arguably worth the price of admission, wherein an implacable Li takes on the entire Paris Police Bureau, working his way up toward police chief Tchéky Karyo's office through cops, a pair of peroxide-blond twin henchmen, and a whole class of kung fu cadets. Co-screenwriter Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) should know by now what makes for a nifty genre piece, but the woeful dialogue is a shame, and there aren't nearly enough action sequences to get your blood boiling. Poor Bridget Fonda gives it the old school try in a thankless role as an ex-junkie prostitute from the Midwest whose young daughter is being held captive by duplicitous police chief/drug lord/pimp Karyo (who fairly inhales the scenery). Director Chris Nolan might have pushed further the strangers-in-a-strange-land camaraderie between Li and Fonda, but the script still would've sunk him. (synopsis provided by

directed by Chris Nahon

released 2001

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor [1932-2011]

Good morning - sad news to greet you on such a dreary day around my part of the world. Elizabeth Taylor has passed away. I cannot say that I've ever seen a movie that she has been in - or really have cared to - but I do know she's a legend - and was my grandmother's favorite actress. I remember going over to my grandparent's house - which now sits vacant - and looking at her VHS tapes and seeing the stunning beauty of Ms. Taylor starring back at me. She has always been associated with my grandmother because of that - and my movie watching habits had always been influenced by my grandmother. She took us out to see Forrest Gump, E.T., Return of the Jedi, Wayne's World and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey - as odd and random as that is - but spending time with my grandmother is something that I really miss. Thus, even though I can't claim to be a fan of Elizabeth Taylor - I am a fan of movies - due to my grandmother's love of her.

Thanks for everything, Liz.

Unstoppable [2010]

A train carrying some hazardous chemical becomes a runaway – and it’s up to Rosario Dawson, Chris Pine and Denzel Washington to stop it!

I have to start my review by saying this is one of the most action packed but downright boring films I have ever seen. I was impressed with how much was going on – but I was also equally amazed how little I felt any tension or concern. Though the train is a runaway and can’t seem to be stopped – it is in fact on a track. So, it’s not like it can make a sudden turn and trick everyone – and cause further tension – we know it’s headed toward the town of Stanton – and once there the bend in the track will probably make it derail – though this information seems like it should’ve been introduced sooner – it felt tacked on to further the “scare”.

Speaking of which – there were characters along the tracks who could’ve been included to naturally raise the tension level of the audience. Some town cops decided to take shots at the brakes or something – only for us to find out later that they were shooting right next to the gas tank! Wouldn’t that have been a nice scare! BUT they showed the train moving up the tracks – then suddenly cops start shooting at it – then we are told later what they were doing. Build that shit up! That’s your job as s director!

The bulk of the film was watching the train go up the track – and watching people reactions to it and talking on the radio or on the phone – as well as “news footage”. I wish I was kidding – but I’m not – the film was b-o-r-i-n-g because of these elements... This film felt tantamount to cheap sci-fi films of the 50’s & 60’s where the film was padded with stock footage of military action, planes flying and atomic bombs blowing up – but in the case of this film a train going up the track.

There was nothing wrong with the acting by anybody in the film – the acting was just what you needed – but the vehicle that this acting was brought to us in was dull. The direction was dull – it reminded me of the action in Iron Man 2 where you saw a whole mess of close-up face reaction of the men in the suits. Watching people’s eyes widen and drop their jaws – isn’t compelling as watching stuff blow up and near misses – and in a runaway train film that’s what you are looking for.

The film being based on a true story – should not stop you from playing Hollywood all over this film! You need a plane landing on the tracks - the train being taken over by a ghost of a Russian spy – or some kid putting a penny on the track which makes the train wobble and looks like it will fall over. SOMETHING PLEASE!! A little conflict twist would’ve improved this film a great deal!

They introduce the concept that there was a school on a field trip on another train – but just as you started to think – the main conflict will be these little kiddies and the runaway train – but then they decided to get those kids off the tracks almost immediately – which is responsible – but not Hollywood enough!

The film was just okay – but after it was done – I could’ve been just as complete of a person not having seen it and spending that time on YouTube. It was just boring – not stupid – not insulting – and action packed with trains moving – FAST. I tried showing some fake concern and getting into it by rooting on the train – to see if it was my attitude – but I ended up laughing at myself. I truly like Tony Scott and Denzel Washington working together – but this film just didn’t do for me at all.

I’m giving this film an average rating for being boring – 3/5.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

K is for...

The Killer Shrews: A camp classic from the golden age of the drive-in theater! The Killer Shrews is a fast paced tale of Captain Thorne Sherman (James Best of Dukes of Hazzard fame) and his beautiful Swedish passenger Ingrid (Ann Craigis) stranded on a small island with snarling genetically mutated rodents (which look suspiciously like dogs wearing costumes). A much-loved B-movie favorite, The Killer Shrews has been beautifully restored and is in color for the very first time. (synopsis provided by

directed by Ray Kellogg

released 1959

Monday, March 21, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011

J is for... [part 2]

Nine years after his so-called Final Friday, hockey-masked slasher Jason Voorhees returns in Jason X, and fans of the long-running Friday the 13th series won't be disappointed. Veteran stuntman Kane Hodder returns to the titular role that made him infamous, and rookie director James Isaac gets off to a fine start by killing off his mentor, director David Cronenberg, in a deliciously ill-fated cameo. Soon Jason is cryogenically suspended along with the comely scientist (Lexa Doig, from TV's Andromeda) who warned of his invincibility; by the time a sexy spaceship crew revives them in the year 2455, "Earth 2" has replaced the now-uninhabitable Earth, and Jason proceeds to do hack victims with his trusty machete. Eventually he battles a sexy android, gets a cybernetic facelift, and meets his fate back at Crystal Lake, where the whole thing started. With knowing nods to the original, Jason X is just fun enough to keep the franchise alive. (synopsis provided by

directed by Jim Isaac

released 2002

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

J is for...

The curiosity of Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown is Robert Forster's worldly wise bail bondsman Max Cherry, the most alive character in this adaptation of Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch. The Academy Awards saw it the same way, giving Forster the film's only nomination. The film is more "rum" than "punch" and will certainly disappoint those who are looking for Tarantino's trademark style. This movie is a slow, decaffeinated story of six characters glued to a half million dollars brought illegally into the country. The money belongs to Ordell (Samuel L. Jackson), a gunrunner just bright enough to control his universe and do his own dirty work. His just-paroled friend--a loose term with Ordell--Louis (Robert De Niro) is just taking up space and could be interested in the money. However, his loyalties are in question between his old partner and Ordell's doped-up girl (Bridget Fonda). Certainly Fed Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) wants to arrest Ordell with the illegal money. The key is the title character, a late-40s-ish flight attendant (Pam Grier) who can pull her own weight and soon has both sides believing she's working for them. The end result is rarely in doubt, and what is left is two hours of Tarantino's expert dialogue as he moves his characters around town.

Tarantino changed the race of Jackie and Ordell, a move that means little except that it allows Tarantino to heap on black culture and language, something he has a gift and passion for. He said this film is for an older audience although the language and drug use may put them off. The film is not a salute to Grier's blaxploitation films beyond the musical score. Unexpectedly the most fascinating scenes are between Grier and Forster: two neo-stars glowing in the limelight of their first major Hollywood film after decades of work. (synopsis provided by

directed by Quentin Tarantino

released 1997

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I is for... [part 2]

Something's wrong in the town of Santa Mira, California. At first, Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is unconcerned when the townsfolk accuse their loved ones of acting like emotionless imposters. But soon the evidence is overwhelming--Santa Mira has been invaded by alien "pods" that are capable of replicating humans and taking possession of their identities. It's up to McCarthy to spread the word of warning, battling the alien invasion at the risk of his own life. Considered one of the best science fiction films of the 1950s and '60s, this classic paranoid thriller was widely interpreted as a criticism of the McCarthy era (that's Senator Joseph, not actor Kevin), which was characterized by anticommunist witch-hunts and fear of the dreaded blacklist. Some hailed it as an attack on the oppressive power of government as Big Brother. However viewers interpret it, this original 1956 version ofInvaders of the Body Snatchers (based on Jack Finney's serialized novel The Body Snatchers) remains a milestone movie in its genre, directed by Don Siegel with an inventive intensity that continues to pack an entertaining wallop. Look closely and you'll find future director Sam Peckinpah (an uncredited cowriter of this film) making a cameo appearance as a meter reader!

directed by Don Siegel

released 1956

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I is for...

The considerable pleasures of In Bruges begin with its title, which suggests a glumly self-important art film but actually fits a rattling-good tale of two Irish gangsters "keepin' a low profile" after a murder gone messily wrong. Bruges, the best-preserved medieval town in Belgium, is where the bearlike veteran Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and newbie triggerman Ray (Colin Farrell) have been ordered by their London boss to hole up for two weeks. As the sly narrative unfolds like a paper flower in water, "in Bruges" also becomes a state of mind, a suspended moment amid centuries-old towers and bridges and canals when even thuggish lives might experience a change in direction. And throughout, the viewer has ample opportunity to consider whose pronunciation of "Bruges" is more endearing, Gleeson's or Farrell's. The movie marks the feature writing-directing debut of playwright Martin McDonagh, whose droll meditation on sudden mortality, Six Shooter, copped the 2005 Oscar for best live-action short. Although McDonagh clearly relishes the musicality of his boyos' brogue and has written them plenty of entertaining dialogue, In Bruges is no stageplay disguised as a film. The script is deceptively casual, allowing for digressions on the newly united and briskly thriving Europe, and annexing passers-by as characters who have a way of circling back into the story with unanticipatable consequences. That includes a film crew--shooting a movie featuring, to Ray's fascination, "a midget" (Jordan Prentice)--and a fetching blond production assistant (Clémence Poésy) whose job description keeps evolving. There's one other key figure: Harry, the Cockney gang boss whose omnipotence remains unquestioned as long as he remains offscreen, back in England, as if floating in an early Harold Pinter play. Harry has reasons inextricably tender and perverse for selecting Bruges as his hirelings' destination, and eventually he emerges from the aether to express them--first as a garrulous telephone voice and then in the volatile form of Ralph Fiennes. By that point the charmed moment of suspension, already shaken by several irruptions of violence, is pretty well doomed. But In Bruges continues to surprise and satisfy right up to the end. (synopsis provided by

directed by Martin McDonagh

released 2008

Thursday, March 3, 2011

H is for... [part 2]

In Shaun of the Dead, it was the zombie movie and the anomie of modern life. In Hot Fuzz, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg set their sights on the buddy cop blockbuster and the eccentric English village. The two worlds collide when overachieving London officer Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is promoted to sergeant. The catch is that he's being transferred to Agatha Christie country. His superiors (the comic trifecta of Martin Campbell, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy) explain that he's making the rest of the force look bad. On the surface, Sandford is a sleepy little burg where the most egregious crimes, like loitering, are committed by hoody-sporting schoolboys. In truth, it's a hotbed of Willow Man-style evil. Upon his arrival, Chief Butterman (Jim Broadbent) partners Angel with his daft son, Danny (Nick Frost, Pegg's Shaun co-star), who aspires to kick criminal "arse" like the slick duo in Bad Boys II. When random citizens start turning up dead, he gets his chance. With the worshipful Danny at his side, Angel shows his cake-eating colleagues how things are done in the big city. As in Shaun, their previous picture, Wright and Pegg hit their targets more often than not. With the success of that debut comes a bigger budget for car chases, shoot-outs, and fiery explosions. Though Hot Fuzz earns its R-rating with salty language and grisly deaths, the tone is more good-natured than mean-spirited. A wall-to-wall soundtrack of boisterous British favorites, like the Kinks, T-Rex, and Sweet, contributes to the fast-paced fun. (synopsis provided by

directed by Edgar Wright

released 2007

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

H is for...

Sometimes people are attracted to each other because of their differences. When there's a nebulous attraction between a teacher and a young teenage child--as in the superb Half Nelson--the relationship has all the makings of confused disaster. Though there are a few uncomfortable moments when it's not obvious whether Dan (Ryan Gosling) and Drey (Shareeka Epps) might cross the line, the attraction between the pair is culled less from sexual tension than desperation. Dan is an idealistic history teacher in an inner-city school. Drey is one of his brightest students. For both, drugs represent something that may help them escape their worlds. He takes drugs to dull his dissatisfaction with himself. She views drugs as a possible way to better her life, even though she knows her brother's foray into that trade landed him in jail. Bleakly filmed and well told, Half Nelson soars because of the immaculate acting by Gosling and Epps. With his impish smile, Gosling provides a character that is at once disarming, alluring, and pitiful. As the young girl who's already seen too much hardship in her life, Epps plays her part with just the right amount of hardened raw emotion. While the ambiguous ending may not please fans weaned on happy Hollywood finales, it's a fitting and believable close to a thought-provoking film. (synopsis provided by

directed by Ryan Fleck

released 2006