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 What I've Just Watched: Part 2

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Donald McKinney
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:10 pm

The Black Dahlia (2006), directed by Brian De Palma and adaptated from James Ellroy's 1987 novel, this is a dark, modern film noir that was hyped before release to be another L.A. Confidential. Critics expected a masterpiece, but were left cold and confused by De Palma's take on the source material, which was based on a real-life murder case. It's not a bad film, but it is quite muddled, despite De Palma triumphing technically and visually. It begins in 1947, and LAPD Officers Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert (Josh Hartnett) and Lee Blanchard (Aaron Eckhart) are great partners and they box as well, but on January 17th, while on a stake out, a block away, the body of actress Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner) is found on a plot of land, her body is grotesquely mutilated and her mouth has been brutally slashed, but there's no sign of a rape. Bleichert and Blanchard are assigned to investigate the case, during investigations, Bleichert meets heiress Madeline Linscott (Hilary Swank), who looks like Short, and begins a relationship. However, Blanchard becomes obsessed with the case, and it affects his relationship with girlfriend Kay Lake (Scarlett Johansson), who finds solace in Bleichert. It's not a disaster, but it should have been a longer film, it would have given it room to breathe, but it has touches of De Palma's other films about it like Obsession (1976) and The Untouchables (1987), the cast are good too, as is the cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and sets by Dante Ferretti. But, it's missing something, maybe it should have been in black and white or something like that. 3.5/5



The Game (1997), David Fincher's most underrated film, (never mind Alien³), he chose this as his follow-up to Se7en (1995), and he effectively saved the project from a lifetime of development hell. If Fincher calls Panic Room his Hitchcock film, then this was his dry run for what was to come, this is a suspensful and mysterious thriller with many twists and turns and nothing is what it seems. In San Francisco, rich but emotionally cold financier Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), has just turned 48, and he receives a visit out of the blue from his estranged brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who has a peculiar present for him. It's a game set up by a company called Consumer Recreation Services, with the promise that it'll change Nicholas' life. The game begins, and it soon takes over Nicholas' life, bad and weird things start happening to him, and he becomes determined to get to the bottom of who's behind all of it, it leads to Nicholas teaming up with waitress Christine (Deborah Kara Unger), who has something to hide, and Nicholas becomes a determined man to find out. It's got imagery and moments that are typical of Fincher, he gets the best out of his actors, and keeps on piling on the twists and turns throughout the film. It's just as good as Fincher's other films and it's well worth another look if you have seen it, as it seems different on repeat viewing. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:10 pm

The Last Picture Show (1971), based upon Larry McMurtry's 1966 autobiographical novel, and directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who had done 4 films until that point, one dubbed from a Soviet film and one was a documentary about John Ford. This is a sparse, bleak and stark drama set in a part of America that has long since disappeared, but it does make for a fascinating character piece, and it helped launch one or two film careers along the way. Set in Anarene, Texas in late 1951/early 1952, this tells the story of two high school seniors, Sonny Crawford (Timothy Bottoms) and Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges), who are best friends, co-captains of the local high school football team and share a small house and a pick-up truck together. Duane is going out with Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepherd), who is attractive and comes from a wealthy family, whereas Sonny is in a loveless relationship with Charlene Duggs (Sharon Taggart), and they later split. Sonny meets Ruth Popper (Cloris Leachman), the wife of Coach Popper (Bill Thurman), she's in a rut with her life, and finds solace in Sonny, and begins an affair with him, but then Duane meets Ruth, and too has an affair. It's a sad look at a part of America which died out, but filming it in a stark, grainy black and white, Bogdanovich adds a sense of old school about it, but keeping in with what New Hollywood was all about. Leachman won an Oscar for this, as did Ben Johnson as local proprietor Sam The Lion. It spawned a sequel in 1990 called Texasville, Bogdanovich and much of the cast returned. 4/5



Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), based upon the horror spoof book by Seth Grahame-Smith, who did the screenplay here, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, (Night Watch (2004) and Wanted (2008)), and produced by Tim Burton. This is a silly but fun take on the "secret life" of a great president, the fact that everyone tends to play it straight does work against it at times, but it has some good moments worth seeing. The film tells the story of Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker), who before he became the 16th President of the United States, was a vampire hunter. He became one after seeing his mother Nancy (Robin McLeavy) slain at the hands of vampire Jack Barts (Marton Csokas). As an adult trying to seek vengeance, he is unsuccessful at first, but he meets another vampire, Henry Sturgess (Dominic Cooper), who agrees to train Lincoln in the art of killing vampires. In Springfield, Lincoln works in a shop for Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson), and falls for Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but he kills vampires at night. However, there's an uprising from New Orleans, led by plantation owner/vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell), and only Lincoln, now in politics, can stop him. It does capture the period brilliantly, and it's technically brilliant with some good action pieces, even if the CGI horses are a bit dodgy, but the train sequence is worth the price of admission. It could have done with a tad more humour, as it's played a bit seriously, but it manages somehow to have a cheesy, hokey sense of enjoyment about it. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:11 pm

Bottle Rocket (1996), this is where it all began for director Wes Anderson. In 1992, he'd done a 14 minute black and white short called Bottle Rocket, the short caught the attention of noted producer James L. Brooks (Terms of Endearment, The Simpsons). He wanted Anderson and all involved with the original short to remake it for the big screen. So they did, and it's a charming little film, and gives a clear indication of what was to come from it's director. It focuses on 3 friends, Anthony (Luke Wilson), who has just been released from a mental hospital following a nervous breakdown, teaming up with his friend Dignan (Owen Wilson), who has a plan to commit the perfect crime, which involves robbing his former boss, Mr. Henry (James Caan). Anthony and Dignan team up with their weedy pal Bob Mapplethorpe (Robert Musgrave), they do commit one robbery at a book store, but they spend most of their time holed up in a motel, where Anthony begins a relationship with maid Inez (Lumi Cavazos). It's a small scale little film, with enough quirky humour to keep it's viewer hooked for it's running time. It's a gentle sort of humour, but it has real heart. Even though it got the worst test screenings in the history of Columbia Pictures, Anderson stood his ground and won. It marked the debuts of the Wilson brothers, (Owen co-wrote it with Anderson), and Anderson went on to greater things indeed!! 4/5



Rushmore (1998), the second film by Wes Anderson, made soon after the critical acclaim his debut Bottle Rocket (1996) received, this helped cement Anderson as one of the most promising independent filmmakers of recent times. This is one about trying to fit in, and it's got all of Anderson's offbeat flourishes that we've come to expect from him. Set somewhere in Texas, at the prestigous Rushmore academy. The film focuses on eccentric 15 year old student Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman, his film debut and a very good one too), who has been at the academy for 4 years, and has taken part in alot of extracurricular activities, which takes up nearly all of his time at the school, which is affecting his grades badly. The headmaster Dr. Guggenheim (Brian Cox), theatens to expel Fischer unless he improves his grades, as he does alot of big scale projects without the approval of the school. However, Fischer ends up falling for widowed teacher Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), who in turn falls for Herman Blume (Bill Murray), an unhappy industrialist who has a slight friendship with Max. It's very offbeat and quirky, but that's what we've come to expect from Anderson, and the script by Anderson and Owen Wilson has some brilliant dialogue and good moments of detail. Schwartzman shows such confidence in his debut, you'd swear he had years of experience, and Murray has worked with Anderson ever since. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:11 pm

Conspiracy Theory (1997), directed by Richard Donner (Superman, Lethal Weapon), and written by Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Payback), this is a paranoid thriller where it's male lead is all over the place, you'd swear this was a comedy the way he's frolicking around, but it isn't, it's a dark, taut film with some good action set pieces, but it's over the top and silly like most action films made then were. New York cab driver Jerry Fletcher (Mel Gibson) is an obsessive compulsive who tells his passengers insanely improbabily conspiracy theories involving government cover-ups and publishes them in a newsletter. He tells them to his friend Alice Sutton (Julia Roberts), who works for the U.S. Attorney, and goes along listening to him. But, one day, Jerry is kidnapped, drugged and tortured by Doctor Jonas (Patrick Stewart), who informs him that one of his many conspiracy theories are true, but Jerry manages to escape and goes on the run with Alice in tow, but Jerry has to find out which of the conspiracy theories he came up with has landed him in all this trouble, and stay one step ahead of the government agents after him for what he knows. It's a silly action film, and a tad overlong at that, but with Mad Mel mugging around at one point with his eyes sellotaped opened, it makes you wish this had a modicum of comedy about it, as it starts out quite jazzy and light, before going dark. Donner keeps the mood up and it's manages to be enjoyable while it lasts. 3.5/5



Potiche (2010), directed by François Ozon, (8 Women (2002) and Swimming Pool (2003), adapted from the play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, this is an amusing and silly French farce that got popularity in the UK when Orange subtitled it their way in some cinema adverts. Now that you can see what they're saying, it's an OK film, it does stuggle to hold your attention, but it captures the period it's set in quite well. In 1977, in a rural part of France, Suzanne Pujol (Catherine Deneuve) is the housewife, (or Potiche, as they call it in France) of local businessman Robert Pujol (Fabrice Luchini), who owns an umbrella factory in town. But, there's trouble when the local work force go on strike, and won't compromise with Robert, much to the concern of the local mayor Maurice Babin (Gérard Depardieu), who tells Robert how bad the strike will be for the town. Then, Robert is taken ill, and is unable to negotiate anything with the workers, not that he would. So, Suzanne ends up becoming the boss and she sorts out the union dispute and breathes new life into the factory along the way, much to Robert's ire, and Maurice takes a liking to her, as they used to go out years ago. It's a silly comedy but it's firmly grounded in theatrical roots, with long takes in a single setting, but despite capturing the kitschness and gaudiness of the 1970's, and the cast giving wonderfully silly performances, there's something missing, it's lacking a certain something.

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 03, 2012 3:12 pm

Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), after Peter Sellers died in 1980, it seemed the Pink Panther films were over, but while making Victor/Victoria (1982), Blake Edwards was asked to do more by MGM/UA. He was reluctant at first, but he soon found a way for Sellers to appear as Inspector Clouseau one last time, using deleted scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976), while the deleted footage is good, it soon becomes a clip show, which undermines it. When the Pink Panther diamond is stolen from the kingdom of Lugash yet again, Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Sellers) is once again asked to go and find it, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is being driven insane by Clouseau, and is pleased to have him out of the way. Clouseau is on his way to London as he believes Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) has stolen it, while on his way to Lugash afterwards, his plane crashes en route, everyone is believed killed. French TV reporter Marie Jouvet (Joanna Lumley), begins interviewing people who knew him, including Lytton, Dreyfus, gangster Bruno Langlois (Robert Loggia) and Clouseau's father (Richard Mulligan), to find out what happened. After half an hour or so, they've run out of cut footage, so they resort to film clips from previous Pink Panther films to tell the rest of the story. It was intended to be a warm and heartfelt tribute to Sellers, but despite best intentions, you begin to wonder why did they bother, but there was more to come, as Edwards was making another one while doing this. 2.5/5



Curse of the Pink Panther (1983), while making Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Blake Edwards made another Pink Panther film, in the hope of continuing the series with another detective. Some of the gags have been seen before in previous Pink Panther films, but it does feel tired and lacking, and it ended in a $180 million lawsuit between Edwards and MGM/UA, so there was more excitement off the screen than on-screen. With Clouseau missing, Interpol utilize the Huxley 600 computer to find a detective to find Clouseau, but Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), doesn't want Clouseau back, so he rigs the computer to find the worst detective in the world, and he's found in New York City Police Sergeant Clifton Sleigh (Ted Wass). Dreyfus believes Sleigh will never solve the case, but he ends up being more clumsier than Clouseau, and but his luck helps him move forwards with the case. Leading him to Sir Charles Lytton (David Niven) and his nephew George (Robert Wagner), but while Sleigh progresses with the case, mob boss Bruno Langlois (Robert Loggia) and Dreyfus try to kill him in an attempt to stop him finding Clouseau. It's not as bad as what critics say, especially when compared to comedies made now. But, Sellers as Clouseau was still fresh in people's minds, and while Wass of Soap does well with the physical comedy, he lacks Sellers' wordplay. Edwards originally wanted Rowan Atkinson to play Sleigh, who was originally written as an English constable. Oh, what could have been(!!) Plus, Roger Moore cameos. Razz 2/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:31 am

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Clint Eastwood optioned a book by Forrest Carter for his 5th film as director. He had finished at Universal, and signed up a big deal at Warner Bros. where he would stay for nearly all his career. This one was a dark, violent western which was gave Clint one of his best performances, with a colourful cast and a good, gripping story. It has Missouri farmer Josey Wales (Clint) seeking revenge after his wife and son are murdered by a group of Union Warriors. He is taken in by Confederate guerrillas, led by Captain Fletcher (John Vernon), but refuses to surrender and guns down a band of Redlegs with a Gatling gun. Wales goes on the run, with a $5,000 bounty on his head. Wales is a man who would rather travel alone, but on his travels heading for freedom in Mexico, he ends up with wise old Cherokee Lone Watie (Chief Dan George, who nearly steals the film), Navajo woman Little Moonlight (Geraldine Keams), an old woman from Kansas called Grandma Sarah (Paula Trueman), and her granddaughter Laura Lee (Sondra Locke), and they encounter Comancheros too. It's another revisionist western, but Clint was in his element with this, Josey Wales is a prime example of an anti-hero, a sad casualty of the American Civil War, but this proved to be a successful western in a time when westerns were dying out. 4/5



Videodrome (1983), after David Cronenberg had a big international hit with Scanners (1981), Hollywood came calling, and he answered to Universal Pictures with this thought-provoking, gory but highly original sci-fi/horror. Cronenberg had his finger on the pulse of the media concerns of videos at the time, and pornography appearing on TV, with this, he asks "What if the censors are right??" It's terrifying and brilliant, and it has some brilliant effects. Max Renn (James Woods) runs a seedy cable TV station in Toronto called CIVIC-TV, that shows softcore pornography and gratuitous violence. Renn is bored with the current line up they have, but technical assistant Harlan (Peter Dvorsky), comes across a grainy TV show called Videodrome, which women are raped, tortured and killed. Renn is excited by the show, and see's it as the future of TV, and he becomes obsessed by it, as does his new girlfriend Nicki Brand (Deborah Harry). Max investigates further, and learns that it's not faked, leading him to media analyst Professor Brian O'Blivion (Jack Creley) and glasses maker Barry Convex (Leslie Carlson), meanwhile Max is having severe hallucinations, some real, some not. This film is an indictment on people's TV viewing habits, and about how far some people will go to get their kicks. Cronenberg gets the best out of the cast and crew, plus the effects Rick Baker come up with top what he did in American Werewolf, turning television sets and Betamax cassettes into living organisms. It's provocative and hypnotic, and it's also Cronenberg's masterpiece, it's as relevant back in the 80's as it is now. 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:31 am

Schizopolis (1996), Steven Soderbergh had got his career off to a good start with the award winning Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989). But, his career went jittery with King of the Hill (1993) and The Underneath (1995), but with what money he could, he made this experimental comedy for $250,000, it's inspired by the early films of Richard Lester, and you won't see another one like this for a while. Fletcher Munson (Soderbergh) is an office worker who works for a company owned by Theodore Azimuth Schwitters (Mike Malone), the leader of a religious group known as Eventualism. Life at home for Fletcher is very mundane, he communicates with his wife Mrs. Munson (Betsy Brantley) by describing what they're saying. He ends up taking a job in the company as a speech writer, which has various success. Meanwhile, there's a dentist called Dr. Jeffrey Korchek (Soderbergh again), who is identical to Munson, and has been having an affair with Mrs. Munson, who has been able to speak normally with Korchek, and it's before long before Korchek is having an affair with another woman, Attractive Woman #2 (Brantley again), and that gets him into trouble. You don't get many like these along, and you can see why no-one will fund them. But, you can see the influence of Richard Lester everywhere, particularly The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1960). Some parts of it are funny, some work, some don't, some are just baffling, and some are off the wall insane. It's a mixed bag, but a entertaining one. 3.5/5



A Dangerous Method (2011), after Eastern Promises (2007), David Cronenberg struggled to find his next project, in two minds over making an adaptation of Robert Ludlum's The Matarese Circle or Martin Amis' London Fields. But, producer Jeremy Thomas came to him with this adaptation of Christopher Hampton's 2002 play The Taking Cure. Some parts of it work better than other parts, but it's very classy and beautifully made. It begins in 1904, when Russian Jew Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) is admitted into the Burghölzli clinic near Zurich in Switzerland, she is in a state of hysteria and begins treatment with Carl Jung (Michael Fassbender), who is using the psychoanalyst methods of Sigmund Freud (Viggo Mortensen). Spielrein shows energy and intelligence, and wants to study and assist Jung in his experiments. He accepts, and Jung is even able to discover what's causing Spielrein's hysteria, and they even have an affair, even though Jung is married to Emma (Sarah Gadon). Jung and Spielrein even get to meet Freud, who see's Jung as a successor to his business, but a rift between Freud and Jung develops, when Jung deviates from Freud's method's. It's a very complex film, and a big departure for Cronenberg, it's body horror of a much more intellectual kind. Despite the good performances on display, and the brilliant production design, it's a bit too clever for it's own good, and it lacks a certain something, it's a bit too restrained and repressed in places. It'll go down in Cronenberg's canon with films like Fast Company, M. Butterfly and Spider, sadly. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:32 am

Chernobyl Diaries (2012), produced and written by Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity (2007)), adapted from a story he wrote entitled The Diary of Lawson Oxford, this is a creepy horror film that uses a tragic, real-life location for it's scares. It's the abandoned locations that provide the scary parts of this film, or the fact that we don't clearly see what's out there in the dark in this unforgiving place. It begins with Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), and their mutual friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) on a holiday across Europe, and have stopped off in Kiev to meet Chris' brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski). Before moving on to Moscow, Paul has a crazy suggestion for a detour, the abandoned town of Prypiat, which was next to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which was abandoned after the nuclear disaster in 1986. Paul has got in touch with Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), who along with Norwegian Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and Australian Michael (Nathan Phillips), takes them into Prypiat, which is haunting and nature has reclaimed it. But, when they try to leave, their van has been tampered with, and there's something out there in the dark... It's a film which doesn't attempt to rewrite the horror genre, it's a film which manages to do quite a lot in this location, on a very low budget as well. It's an original location too, but they manage to find some quite effective scares here, but it'll be a matter of time before there's more like this. 3/5



The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Martin Scorsese had wanted to do an adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis' 1953 book since the early 1970's, but he could never get the funding for it, and he nearly had it in 1983, but it fell through, but he tried again, and got it made. It's not as controversial as the protesters made it out to be, but it shows a human side to Jesus Christ, showing a human side to him, and even exploring a "what if?" scenario. Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe) is a humble carpenter in Roman-occupied Judea, and he even helps the Roman's crucify revolutionaries. Jesus is having a relationship with Jewish prostitute Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey), while Judas Iscariot (Harvey Keitel), who was assigned to kill Jesus, comes to believe Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus gets deciples and followers, and brings hope to people oppressed by the Roman's. But, Judas betrays him, and has Jesus arrested and put before Pontius Pilate (David Bowie), who sentences him to be crucified, while up on the cross, Jesus is offered a glimpse of an alternate life by his guardian angel (Juliette Caton), who shows him what life would be like if he lived it until he was old. It's a very epic, but naturalistic film with some good performances throughout. Despite the shitstorm of controversy it got upon release, it treats Jesus with dignity and respect, unlike what The Passion of the Christ (2004) did, which had him suffer in pain. It might look like a departure for Scorsese, but it's a very personal film for him, close to his heart and a passion project. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:22 am

A Dangerous Method (1st view) - Possibly Cronenberg's best films that isn't A History Of Violence, Eastern Promises, Dead Ringers or Rabid - 4/5*




The Woman In Black (1st view) - Never read the novel, seen the Beeb adaptation or heard any radio versions so had no idea really what to expect. There was certainly a good atmosphere to this and a sense of tension in the old house, but lacked any major chills - 3/5*


_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sun Jul 08, 2012 9:33 am

Hot Tub Time Machine (1st view) - I was surprised by how much I liked this. One of thr best live-action comedies in recent years - 4/5*




Dream House (1st view) - Good cast, decent film, silly plot - 3/5*




Texas Killing Fields (1st view) - Not bad. Had potential to be a great crime drama but ends up being just ok - 3/5*



_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:06 am

Passenger 57 (1992), directed by Kevin Hooks, (Fled (1996) and Black Dog (1998)), this is a very silly action film done on a low budget, but it made a bankable action star from it's lead, and it had a very silly comedy English baddie as well. It should fail on every conceivable level, but heaven knows, it does and it's got some good action along the way. After his wife was killed in a hold up, former police officer John Cutter (Wesley Snipes) has taken a job training flight crew on how to handle hostage situations, his boss Sly Delvecchio (Tom Sizemore) offers him a top job at Atlantic International Airlines, so John catches the next available flight to Los Angeles from Miami, but also on the same flight is international terrorist Charles Rane (Bruce Payne), who has been captured and is being sent to Los Angeles by the FBI for trial. However, there's some passengers on the plane, including flight attendant Sabrina Ritchie (Elizabeth Hurley), who kill the FBI agents and hijack the plane, and that means John has to take action and put a stop to Rane's activities, meaning a premature landing in a rural airport as well. It is a very silly film, but it's actually quite enjoyable and it has it's moments, it was done for quite a low budget, and this was one of Hurley's earliest film roles as well. Snipes manages to handle the wisecracks ("Always bet on black!") and the action well too. 3/5



Taxi Driver (1976), after Mean Streets (1973) and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), Martin Scorsese pitched this project to Oscar-winning producers Michael and Julia Phillips (The Sting (1973)), it was a dark and brooding script by Paul Schrader, but it would be one of Scorsese's most iconic and darkest films. He was fueled by cocaine at the time of making it, the angst of post-Vietnam America was at boiling point, it was the right film, in the right place, at the right time. Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is an ex-Marine, not long back from Vietnam, who is lonely and trawls Manhattan, riddled with insomnia. He gets a job as a taxi driver, and drives the streets at night picking up all kinds of seedy customers. He becomes romantically involved with campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd), who works for Senator Charles Palantine (Leonard Harris), but the relationship doesn't last after Travis takes her to see a sex film. When he see's 12-year-old child prostitute Iris (Jodie Foster) trying to escape the clutches of her abusive pimp Matthew (Harvey Keitel), Travis wants to help her, and it becomes an obsession. It's a dark and dirty film, but it caught the attention and imagination of the film-going public at the time, and De Niro gives an icon performance as the sad loner, who isn't a bad person, but is screwed up by Vietnam. Scorsese shows a dangerous, exotic side to the mean streets of New York, and it's filmed brilliantly, and is terrifying as well. There are people like Travis Bickle everywhere. 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:06 am

Witness (1985), directed by Peter Weir, his first film in America, and from a tight, suspenseful script by Earl W. Wallace and William Kelley, this is an atmospheric and powerful thriller, maybe one of the best of the 1980's. It hasn't even aged a day either, because it's main setting is in a place that's has had a way of life that's been untouched and unchanged for 2 centuries. It's well made and has some brilliant performances throughout. Widowed Amish woman Rachel Lapp (Kelly McGillis) and her 8 year old son Samuel (Lukas Haas), are traveling to Baltimore to see Rachel's sister, while at Philadelphia train station, Samuel is witness to a brutal murder in the toilets, and Captain John Book (Harrison Ford) is assigned to investigate, and at the police station, Samuel identifies one of the killers as narcotics officer James McFee (Danny Glover). Book soon discovers corruption at the police station which goes to Chief Paul Schaeffer (Josef Sommer), who orders a hit on Book, who ends up hiding in Amish county with Rachel and Samuel's family, and he has to adapt to this old way of life and blend in while Schaeffer and McFee look for him. It's a beautifully made film, with Weir showing a naturalistic side to the Amish community, and Weir gets the best out of Ford, who gives his best acting performance outside of Indiana Jones, and it's a different kind of thriller, one that manages to be gripping and atmospheric at the same time. Only Weir could manage that. 5/5



From Paris With Love (2010), produced and written by Luc Besson and directed by Taken's Pierre Morel, From Paris With Love is a cheesy by the numbers action film that has it's moments, and some good moments of action to it's name, but it's plot is all over the place, and it's lost all sense of direction and for most of the film it's quite schitzophrenic, and it does have one twist that pulls the rug out from under your feet. Set in Paris, this has James Reese (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who is a personal aide to the U.S. Ambassador of France, Reese is also engaged to costume designer Caroline, (Kasia Smutniak), but Reese has higher ambitions, and wants more. So, he's given a chance to work with American Special Agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta), who is a bit of a loose cannon. Wax is over in France to help uncover a drugs ring, it leads them to uncovering a plot by Pakistani terrorists to blow up the U.S. Embassy, during a gala, and they discover that Reese has been under surveilance, but why?? Nothing is what it seems in Reese's life, and Wax is on hand to help him out along the way. It's pretty much what you'd expect, and it does feel a tad dated by todays standards, and while some of it could have been alot better, it does have a few surprises along the way, and it does one or two things that American action films wouldn't do. But, it gives Travolta one of his best parts in recent years, and it's got an offbeat sense of humour too. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:07 am

Valley of the Dolls (1967), directed by Mark Robson, (Von Ryan's Express (1965), Earthquake (1974)), this is the film version of Jacqueline Susann's controversial 1966 bestseller, which turned heads and was an instant success. The film version of the book is less successful, taking liberties here and there despite some good songs in it, maybe they had got it out a bit too quickly. It begins when Anne Welles (Barbara Parkins), comes to New York from her small New England hometown, and gets a job in a theatrical agency that represents legendary actress Helen Lawson (Susan Hayward), Anne becomes friends with singer Neely O'Hara (Patty Duke) and chorus girl Jennifer North (Sharon Tate), and they stick with each other through thick and thin over the years. Neely becomes a big star, but the pressures of fame show on her and she turns to drink and drugs which nearly destroys her career, Jennifer marries nightclub singer Tony Polar (Tony Scotti), but ends up in Paris making dirty films while Anne ends up with attorney Lyon Burke (Paul Burke), who ends up sleeping with Neely, who eventually ends up in rehab due to her drug use. The book takes place over 20 years, the film version seems to consolidate it into the space of a few years, plus it was made as the old studio system was dying out and New Hollywood was taking over, they should have waited another few years if they had wanted to make it, as they would have been able to depict the book's more graphic scenes better, but it's a bit half-arsed, despite a good score by John Williams. Russ Meyer's pastiche was better. 2/5



U Turn (1997), an underrated film from Oliver Stone, and for a change, one that doesn't tackle Vietnam, politics or the media. this one was based on a book by John Ridley, who also did the screenplay. Done with a hazy, offbeat tone, like Natural Born Killers (1994), this is a modern film-noir, filtered through Stone's hyperkinetic style of direction, and it's one of a kind if anything. Bobby Cooper (Sean Penn) is a drifter with a bag full of money which is is transporting to California, after his radiator hose blows out, he finds himself stuck in the town of Superior, Arizona, and it's offbeat residents, including sultry beauty Grace (Jennifer Lopez) and her unhinged husband Jake (Nick Nolte). Bobby soons finds luck is not in his favour in this town. he loses the money, he's ripped off when he tries to get the car repaired and he gets on the bad side of the towns people., and then Jake asks Bobby to do to kill his wife, Grace, but matters are further complicated when Grace asks Bobby to kill Jake, now he's stuck between the two of them, and he has to make a decision real soon. The supporting players shine, with Powers Boothe as a drunken sheriff, Clare Danes as a local beauty, Joaquin Phoenix as her psychopathic boyfriend, Billy Bob Thornton as a hick mechanic and Jon Voight as a blind war veteran, Stone's latest film Savages (2012), has been compared to U Turn's visual energy, but it's very atmospheric, very offbeat and off the wall, but it has a great score by Ennio Morricone too. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:07 am

Zelig (1983), originally made as the first film of a new deal with Orion Pictures, this one of Woody Allen's most brilliant and technically astonishing films, he got the idea from seeing talk show host Dick Cavett, inserted into old film footage. He had a brilliant idea, and it's one of the most original films he's ever made, and the special effects are brilliant. It's a mockumentary set in the 1920's and 1930's, and charts the phenomenon of Leonard Zelig (Woody), a man who happens to be a "human chameleon", meaning he is able to change to be like any party of people he is in the presence of, it gets him into trouble, when he mingles with Chicago gangsters and the New York Yankees. When his medical malady is discovered, Dr. Eudora Fletcher (Mia Farrow) is determined to cure him of this strange syptom, but it's not going to be easy, especially when Zelig is exploited because of his symptoms and put in freak shows and put on a world tour, but after a tragedy, he's discovered at the Vatican and put in Fletcher's care, and she finds a way to cure him, and doctor and patient find themselves falling for each other. This brilliant piece of cinema, it took nearly 3 years to make, but it was worth it. This is not a million miles away from Citizen Kane, or even when Forrest Gump did, but with Allen's usual wit and characterisations, this is a real treat, which could actually fool people who didn't know any better. 5/5



The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Wes Anderson goes to India. Even with a change of continent, he's lost non of his quirkiness, or even alot of his regulars. What follows is what we've come to expect from Anderson, yes, it's another quirky comedy drama, but it is also one of his most visually stunning films to date, bringing out the best in his cast and the local colour of rural India. The film follows the Whitman Brothers, Peter (Adrien Brody), Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman), a dysfunctional American family who haven't seen one another in a year since the death of their father, who was knocked over by a cab in New York. They meet up on a train in India, and they all suffer from some kind of depression or other. Peter has a pregnant wife back in America and is afraid of the commitment of becoming a father, Francis tried to kill himself in a motorbike crash and Jack is away from his girlfriend (Natalie Portman) and is trying to fill the void. Then they try and find their equally estranged mother Patricia (Anjelica Huston), who has become a nun in the Himalayas. It's a very whimsical film, and although it has a dark undertone running throughout, it is quite uplifting in a strange way, it's humour isn't laugh out loud, but it's funny in a weird way, and it suits the film, the soundtrack from old Merchant Ivory films makes the film great. Brody, Wilson and Schwarzman make excellent brothers, and Anderson keeps the mood up, despite quick dives into the melancholy. The soundtrack is wonderful, and look out for director Barbet Schroeder along with Kumar Pallana and Bill Murray. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 11, 2012 8:10 am

Iron Sky (1st view) - I think the concept alone was enough for me to like this. It really isn't a great film and it falls flat a lot of the time (the two obvious most film parodies within are woeful) but I loved it really - 4/5*





The Amazing Spiderman (1st view) - I still maintain that a truly classic Spiderman won't exist until one utilises the "Spider man, Spiderman, does whatever a spider can" song properly but until then this'll do. I like the Raimi films quite a bit, especially the awesome third film, but they could be almost as great as LOTR and I still wouldn't really love them because they contain Kirsten Dunst. This one doesn't so it's automatically better even if it does feel very, very familiar and contains some mind-boggling plotholes - 4/5*





This Means War (1st view) - Good chemistry from the leads, funnier than I expected. But can anybody hear the title and not think of Bugs Bunny? - 4/5*


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Behold! We are the Nine,
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Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:11 am

Snow White & the Huntsman (2012), the directorial debut of advert director Rupert Sanders, produced by Joe Roth (Alice in Wonderland) and written by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock and Hossein Amini. This is a dark but imaginative fantasy made from similar cloth to something like The Brothers Grimm (2005), but it makes a darker variation than this years other Snow White film, Mirror Mirror (2012), but it has a good, inspired cast. Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is the daughter of King Magnus (Noah Huntley) and Queen Eleanor (Liberty Ross), but when Eleanor dies, Magnus marries Ravenna (Charlize Theron), who kills the king and claims the kingdom and holds Snow White prisoner. But, Snow White manages to escape and disappears into the Dark Forest, so Revenna gets Eric the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find Snow White, but he's double-crossed and he ends up in league with Snow White, and a band of dwarves, Muir (Bob Hoskins), Beith (Ian McShane), Gort (Ray Winstone), Coll (Toby Jones), Duir (Eddie Marsan), Quert (Johnny Harris), Nion (Nick Frost), and Gus (Brian Gleeson). They get together an army to fight Ravenna. It's well made, but it has it's plot-holes and boring moments, which something like this shouldn't, and some of the evil characters behave like they're doing pantomime, even the dwarves are like something out of Time Bandits. But, it's a fun film, with some good action and good, imaginative scenes on display. 3.5/5



44 Inch Chest (2009), written by Louis Mellis and David Scinto (Sexy Beast (2000)), this is a script they'd had stockpiled with it's star in mind for years, but it took forever to get it funded. Despite it having a very theatrical look and feel, it is after all at the end of the day, just another British gangster film, and it doesn't really add anything new to the well worn and now tired genre, it tries to be clever, but it ends up being another Revolver (2005), if only partially better. Colin Diamond (Ray Winstone) discovers that his wife Liz (Joanne Whalley) is having an affair, and she feels the spark has gone out of their marriage, Colin gets his friends homosexual gambler Meredith (Ian McShane), racist Old Man Peanut (John Hurt), down to earth Archie (Tom Wilkinson) and destructive Mal (Stephen Dillane) to find Liz's new lover and kidnap him. They find 'Loverboy' (Melvil Poupaud), and lock him up in a cupboard in a derelict house, while they wait for Colin to come round and sort him out, but it's not as simple as it seems, and Colin seems to be losing his mind as he tries to sort 'Loverboy' out. It's a well made film, but that's not enough, it's like a chamber piece for most of the film, used to show off the talents of the actors on display, but it doesn't really go anywhere, despite good intentions. It's a lot less clever than it thinks it really is, and it ends up being more dull than provocative. 2.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:48 pm

I think that version of Snow White is the best yet!

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We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:21 pm

Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance (1st view) - The first Ghost Rider is no comic book classic but it's a hell of a lot better than this. Possibly has the most infuriating camerawork of any film ever. Cage just about makes it worthwhile - 3/5





The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2nd view) - Excellent - 4/5




The Wolfman (2nd view) - The extended cut and it does improve upon the theatrical release. Still has some big problems though. When did Anthony Hopkins forget how to act? Why can't Benicio Del Toro hide his accent? What's the point of bringing in Abberline from the Jack the Ripper case to investigate a wolfman? Why does every werewolf film from the last 30 years try to copy the transformations from An American Werewolf in London? Despite all this, good fun - 4/5




Come And See (1st view) - It's possible that this film could not live up to my expectations, having been told time and time again that not only is it one of the best WWII (my favourite genre) films ever made, but one of the best in any genre. I also don't think it helped having one pivotal scene revealed in The Story Of Film last year. Still, a harrowing yet excellent film - 4/5*





_________________
We renounce our Maker.
We cleave to the darkness.
We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
Behold! We are the Nine,
The Lords of Unending Life.


Frakkin toasters!

So, what, the murder weapon was a top sirloin?

He's a klutz, Mrs. Landingham. Your president's a geek!
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:48 am

Red Tails (2012), the first film to be produced by George Lucas that isn't Star Wars or Indiana Jones related since Radioland Murders (1994), it's something Lucas has wanted to do since the late 1980's, and by the sounds of things, it'll be Lucas' last big production. Shame really, as it's not as bad as what some people make out. True, it does rely a lot on old film cliches, but the action in the sky makes the film. Italy in 1944, and it focuses on the Tuskegee training program, the 332d Fighter Group, which consists of African-Americans, who fly old worn out airplanes that are in bad shape. Under the leadership of Major Emanuel Stance (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and Col. A.J. Bullard (Terrence Howard), they face prejudice and scorn from the white soldiers, but they are good at what they do and show determination. The main characters are a tight knit group of pilots, Joe "Lightning" Little (David Oyelowo), Martin "Easy" Julian (Nate Parker), Ray "Ray Gun" Gannon (Tristan Wilds), and Samuel "Joker" George (Elijah Kelley), and how their talents make them stand out from the rest, and how they prove they can do their bit, and they are given bigger operations and are able to see action. It's well made, despite the odd shade of racism here and there, it doesn't quite explode as it should do, it makes up for Lucas ruining Star Wars and nuking the fridge in Indy, but it does feel a little inconsistent in places, and you kinda wish they had a better script, (Lucas did uncredited reshoots, what does that tell you??) 3/5



Radio Days (1987), still in a nostalgic mood after The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985), Woody Allen did this loving and warm homage to the radio shows he grew up with back in the 1940's. It's got an all star ensemble, and it's probabily the most autobiographical film Woody has ever made, but it shows a more innocent time in the 20th Century, with colourful characters and amusing situations. Woody narrates the film, telling us of what life was like before television, and the radio shows he grew up with, the younger Woody is Joe (Seth Green), a 10 year old boy growing up in the Queens suburb of Rockaway Beach. He listens to the radio constantly, much to the ire of his long-suffering mother (Julie Kavner) and his unsuccessful father (Michael Tucker). Joe is like any other 10 year old boy, getting into scrapes and trouble, and his addiction to radio shows causes concern. He even tries to steal money from a rabbi (Kenneth Mars) so he can get a "Masked Avenger' ring. There's also little stories and vignettes about stories about radio celebrities from that time and the scrapes they got into, and how it related to Joe's family. It's a heartwarming and uplifting film, and it was Woody's last happy film before he went all miserable with the likes of September (1987) and Another Woman (1988). Green is amazing, and who'd have guessed he would create Robot Chicken, and the supporting cast includes Dianne Weist, Mia Farrow, Diane Keaton, Jeff Daniels, William H. Macy, Larry David, Danny Aiello and Wallace Shawn. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:48 am

Play It Again, Sam (1972), Woody Allen had written the play version of this film in 1969, and it was optioned by Paramount Pictures immediately, and the film version was directed by Herbert Ross (Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), Pennies From Heaven (1981)), but Woody stuck around to do the screenplay and even star in it. The film is very funny, with some good dialogue, and it's a look at the frustrations people go through with relationships. Set in San Francisco, Allan Felix (Woody) has just gone through a rather sudden divorce from his wife Nancy (Susan Anspach), but Allan is supported by his friends Linda (Diane Keaton) and Dick (Tony Roberts), who try to link him up with other women, and a couple of them turn out to be complete disasters. Allan's favourite film is Casablanca (1942), even though he knows he'll never be like Humphrey Bogart in the film, it's not long before the ghost of Bogart (Jerry Lacy) appears to Allan, and gives him advice on his relationship. Meanwhile, Linda's relationship to Tony is going through a rocky patch, and she finds solace in Allan, and it's not long before they have an affair, but Dick is a good friend to Allan, and it leaves Allan in a jam. It's a funny film, and a good timepiece of San Francisco in the early 1970's. It's well filmed with some good moments of witty humour, Woody handling the one-liners and even physical comedy well. It's a mystery as to why he didn't direct it, but he was about to do Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972) at the time, so maybe that's why. 4/5



Hollywood Ending (2002), this was Woody Allen's 3rd film in his deal with DreamWorks Pictures, and here he takes a stab at Hollywood in this little-seen but likeable comedy. It does have it's short comings, but on the whole, it is very funny and it is a good satire of the politics and dealmakings that go on in Hollywood, and you do get the nagging feeling whether Woody feels this way about business in Hollywood. Val Waxman (Woody), is a director who has fallen from grace after big success in the 1970's and 80's, and he's given one last shot with a film called The City That Never Sleeps, put forwards to him by Hal Yeager (Treat Williams), who just so happens to be dating Waxman's ex-wife Ellie (Téa Leoni), but just before filming starts, Waxman goes psychosomatically blind, Val is distraught, but his agent Al (Mark Rydell) convinces him to go and and direct the film regardless, and it literally becomes a "shot in the dark". The actors are confused by his behaviour, but they have to try and keep it a secret from the studio executives, who are already keen to fire him, but Al confesses all to Ellie, who reluctantly agrees to help. This is a very amusing comedy, with some laugh out loud moments, and Woody making pop shots at Hollywood, including people like Steven Spielberg and Harvey Weinstein. It's a good comedy, but it does have the odd plothole due to the Woody's blindness, but as expected, Woody get's to deliver some good dialogue. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:48 am

Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005), George Clooney's 2nd film as a director, and like his directorial debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002), this one is also set in the world of TV, but this one is serious compared to the quirky off-kilter tone of his debut. Shot in a stark black and white, it's a compelling character piece, with a good cast and one underrated actor giving a powerhouse lead performance. The film begins in 1953, where America is gripped with paranoia over the Communist Witchhunts by Senator Joseph McCarthy, but in New York, at CBS TV, renowned broadcaster Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his producer Fred W. Friendly (Clooney) and reporter Joseph Wershba (Robert Downey, Jr.), plan to use their topical news show, See It Now, to expose Senator McCarthy for what he is. It starts when they hear a news report regarding Milo Radulovich, who was dismissed from the U.S. Air Force, all because his father subscribed to a Serbian newspaper. A very public feud develops between Murrow and McCarthy, and despite McCarthy trying to use dirty tricks to bring Murrow down, it doesn't work, and Murrow keeps his cool under pressure. This is a thoughtful character drama, capturing the 50's perfectly, the film's message is simple, never underestimate the power of television. Strathairn has always been an overlooked actor, and here Clooney gave him a leading role, and Strathairn got an Oscar nomination for his role, and the film is topped off with a good cast including Jeff Daniels, Patricia Clarkson and Frank Langella. 4/5



Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007), the final film by Sidney Lumet, whose career included 12 Angry Men (1957), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976)), this is a taut, tight thriller and this is the film Cassandra's Dream (2007) should have been. It has some very good performances in it, and it's got an original way of telling this complex story, as nothing is what it seems. Andy Hanson (Philip Seymour Hoffman), works for a successful real estate firm in New York married to Gina (Marisa Tomei), but he's been embezzling money from the firm, and an upcoming audit will expose him. He comes up with a plan to make a run for it to Rio, as he's spent all the money he stole on drugs, and his brother Hank (Ethan Hawke), is 3 months behind on child support. So, they come up with a plan to rob their parents jewelry store. Hank hires Bobby Lasorda (Brian F. O'Byrne) to commit the crime, but Andy and Hank's mother Nanette (Rosemary Harris) is working at the store, a shootout occurs and both Bobby and Nanette end up dead. Their widowed father Charles (Albert Finney) wants answers, and does his own investigation into what really happened. It's a very clever thriller, using flashbacks of each of the characters to show their motives and how it lead to this, and what happens to each of the characters afterwards. Hoffman, Hawke and Finney give excellent performances, and it's a modern Greek tragedy, and there's added poignancy as it was Lumet's final film, but it's a great film to end his long and excellent career with. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:49 am

State of Play (2009), based upon the BBC series created by Paul Abbott, it was picked up for an American version, directed by Kevin Macdonald, then hot off The Last King of Scotland (2006). It's a good character piece with some good performances, but something seems to have got lost in translation, despite a good taut plot and all good intentions. In Washington, Sonia Baker (Maria Thayer) is killed by a train, it looks like suicide. Sonia worked for Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) of Pennsylvania, who is distraught by her death. Collins has been leading an investigation into PointCorp, a private defense contractor who have come under fire for controversial missions. Collins asks his old friend Cal McAffrey (Russell Crowe), an investigative journalist, to investigate her death, as Collins was having an affair with her. Cal, with help from Della Frye (Rachel McAdams) and doubting newspaper editor Cameron Lynne (Helen Mirren) investigate what happened, and it all ties in to Collins' investigation into PointCorp, leading to shady PR man Dominic Foy (Jason Bateman), who claims Sonia worked for PointCorp. It starts off well, but compared to the TV series, it does try to squeeze a lot into a 2 hour film, it was also a sad victim of the stupid WGA strike, with an unfinished screenplay when they started filming. Crowe turns in a good performance, and even Affleck does well too. But, Macdonald and Co. had bitten off a bit more than they'd chewed with this one. 3/5



Live and Let Die (1973), after Sean Connery walked from James Bond for what seemed like the last time, the producers cast long-time Bond candidate Roger Moore in the role. And thus began a 12 year, 7 film relation with one of the best ever Bonds, and Moore got off to a great start with this one, an up-to-date Bond with a cool, exciting attitude. This has James Bond (Moore) investigating the murders of 3 British agents, with one man connecting them, Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), the president of San Monique, an island in the Carribean. This mission takes Bond from the mean streets of Harlem in New York, to the voodoo of San Monique, then to New Orleans, Louisiana, and the surrounding swamps and bayous. He becomes involved with Kananga's personal Tarot card reader Solitaire (Jane Seymour) and the mysterious Harlem gangster, Mr. Big, whose business turns out to be a cover for heroin smuggling. The tone of this one is like a blaxploitation film with pimpmobiles and black gangsters, but that was the only way at the time to bring Ian Fleming's rather racist novel to the big screen, and it works. Moore's lighter touch suits the mood of the time, a reluctant killer. It's a brilliant piece of entertainment, also featuring the boat-chase, Bond using crocodiles as stepping stones and Paul and Linda McCartney's epic theme song. One of the best Bonds of them all. 4.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:49 am

Brewster McCloud (1970), After the success of M*A*S*H (1970), Robert Altman quickly moved on, and went one better with this little seen and HUGELY underrated black comedy, it was hated by critics and it's own studio at the time, who were keen to bury the film and move on, but it's become a cult classic. It's absolutely insane and a true one-of-a-kind, the result could arguably even be Altman's best film. Set in Houston, Texas. It tells the story of an oddball, young recluse called Brewster McCloud (Bud Cort), who lives in an air-raid shelter in the Houston Astrodome, he dreams of flying, and is inventing a winged contraption so he can fly within the Astrodome. Meanwhile, there's a serial killer stalking Houston, and Lt. Frank Shaft (Michael Murphy) is brought in from San Francisco to investigate these murders, the victims all seem to be splattered with bird droppings, and Brewster ends up as a suspect in this case, is it him?? Or does his mysterious guardian angel Louise (Sally Kellerman) have something to do with them. This is probabily one of the best film of the 1970's, just such an odd little film, and it is very, very funny too. It's quirky and dark, but it's beautifully made. Bud Cort protrays Brewster with an eccentric innocence, and he's trying to realise his dream. It's also got some very quirky cameos in it, like Stacy Keach in make-up as a corrupt and racist old man, Rene Auberjonois as a lecturer turning into a bird, Margaret ('Wicked Witch of the West') Hamilton singing the Star Spangled Banner and Shelley Duvall, in her film debut, getting into a fast and hilarious car chase with Brewster. A sheer pleasure to watch, and you'll never forget the film in a hurry!! Very Happy 5/5



In Bruges (2008), a black comedy from writer/director Martin McDonagh, who won an Oscar for his short film Six Shooter (2004). He returned with this pitch black comedy-thriller, which focuses on tourist mannerisms and the nature of soul-searching, in a foreign, otherworldly town. It's a comedy of no-manners and very strong language, but there's something oddly touching and uplifting about this film. This has hitmen Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson) who after a hit gone wrong, being told by their foul-mouthed boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), to stay in the historical Belgian city of Bruges and await further instructions, Ken is very hopeful about the city, but Ray couldn't give a toss about the picturesque, fairytale-style beauty of Bruges, he didn't even know where it was originally. Soon, they become used to the local customs and sights of the city, even making friends with local drug dealer Chloë (Clémence Poésy) and American dwarf actor Jimmy (Jordan Prentice). But it's not very quiet for long, especially when Harry calls Ken, and demands he puts a hit out on Ray after what happened, Ken has a very tough decision to make. This is a very good film, it balances it's dark moments out with some very funny moments. It's got some funny dialogue and good performances, plus Bruges looks lovely, it almost feels a tad Coenesque in places, but McDonagh is most certainly a director to keep an eye on. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:49 am

Magic Mike (2012), directed by Steven Soderbergh, maybe the most versatile, unpredictable director working in cinema, comes this amusing and moving comedy-drama, partially based what it's star and producer, Channing Tatum used to do before he hit it big. It might look like a film for the ladies, but on closer inspection, it's a film which shares themes with Alfie and Saturday Night Fever, it's fun but also has a dark undercurrent. But it's still a good film. In Tampa Bay, Florida, Adam (Alex Pettyfer) is a slacker whose moved to Tampa to live with his sister Brooke (Cody Horn), after being sacked from a roofing job, he meets Mike Lane (Tatum), who introduces Adam to what he does for a living, Mike is a male stripper known as "Magic Mike", who works at a club called Xquisite, where Adam meets manager, Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and the other dancers, and Adam becomes one of them. Brooke is scornful of Adam falling in with such a crowd, but she soon warms to Mike's charms, and they get close. When Dallas announces he plans to move the act down to Miami, Mike begins to wonder whether the business he's in is all it's cracked up to be. It's a good film with some good performances, but it has heart and soul about it. Soderbergh films the dancing brilliantly, and the routines are eyeopeners. Tatum and Pettyfer are a good pairing, but McConaughey nearly steals the film. 4/5



Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl (1982), after Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) came out to protests and critical acclaim, it made the Monty Python team global superstars. To capitalise on their fame, their new manager Denis O'Brien booked them to play 4 nights at the Hollywood Bowl in September 1980. It would be the last time all 6 Python's would perform live together, and the film is a good laugh as well. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, along with Carol Cleveland and Neil Innes, perform before 18,000 fans some of the best sketches from their TV series, including The Ministry of Silly Walks, The Argument Sketch, Travel Agent, Crunchy Frog and Nudge Nudge. They also perform songs like Never Be Rude To An Arab, Sit On My Face, Bruces' Philosophers Song and The Lumberjack Song. Innes sings I'm The Urban Spaceman and How Sweet to Be an Idiot. As well as featuring filmed bits from the German Specials they did in 1971 and 1972, there's one or two new sketches, like The Last Supper and Colin 'Bomber' Harris. It's a good live show, filmed over 4 nights, and subsequently released in cinemas. They were at their best creatively and as a team when they did this, and it shows. The only thing missing is The Parrot Sketch, but they were sick of it by that point, you can't have everything, but it's a good time piece of how, for a moment, America went Python mad. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:50 am

Dark Habits (1983), the third film by Pedro Almodóvar, and this one is a surreal black comedy which took it's inspiration from the films of Josef von Sternberg and Douglas Sirk, and even taking a cue or two from Powell and Pressburger's Black Narcissus (1947), and also predating the antics of Sister Act (1992). It's not a film for everyone, but Almodóvar gives the film an air of cool detachment, and has something to say about the state of religion in the world at that time. Yolanda (Cristina Sánchez Pascual) is a cabaret singer whose boyfriend Jorge (Will More) overdoses and dies after taking heroin. Knowing the trouble she'll get into with the police, Yolanda finds refuge in a convent, but this is no ordinary convent, this is the Mission of the Humbled Redeemers, which once provided refuge to drug-users and prostitutes, but the convent is in trouble, with their Mother General dying, the Mother Superior (Julieta Serrano) gives the sisters names like Sister Manure, Sister Damned, Sister Snake and Sister Rat of the Sewers, they even have a tiger in the building with them, and even though Yolanda manages to settle in, the Mother Superior falls in love with Yolanda. This causes a lot of controversy upon release, the Cannes Film Festival wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, it was a success, and saw Almodóvar's star rise quickly. It's well filmed, and has some amusing little moments in it, but Almodóvar still had a bit of a way to go before he started to mature into more adult, serious filmmaking, but this was a glimpse of what was to come. 3.5/5



Law of Desire (1987), between Matador (1986) and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Pedro Almodóvar made this darkly funny romantic drama, which was quite groundbreaking, as it was Almodóvar's first gay film, and despite the subject matter, it is quite touching and moving, and it showed where Almodóvar was heading, as he now starting to show a more serious side. It has some good performances, and is well made too. Homosexual film director Pablo Quintero (Eusebio Poncela), has just released a new film, at the premiere party, Pablo meets Antonio (Antonio Banderas), who is a big fan of Pablo's work, and they go back to Pablo's place and have sex, and it's Antonio's first homosexual experience. However, Pablo intends for it to be a one night stand, as he already has a partner in Juan (Miguel Molina), but Antonio gets jealous and abducts Juan, tries to rape him and ends up having him thrown off a cliff. Pablo's sister Tina (Carmen Maura), who had a sex change years previously because she hates men, is chief suspect for Juan's murder, and then Tina later falls for Antonio, much to Pablo's horror. It is a film of sexual disorientation and then some, but even though it's quite frank and serious in it's depiction of gay sex, it does have a darkly comic undercurrent going through, but it's a good film and it this helped bring Almodóvar and even Banderas international recognition. 4/5

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