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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   Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:50 am

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973), based on the 1972 novel by Marilyn Durham, and directed by Richard C. Sarafian (Vanishing Point (1971)), this is a romantic western that's also tough and downright dirty. It was meant to showcase a softer side to it's star, who had been in some tough films up until then, but production problems marred it's reputation, despite all good intentions. Set in the old west, around the turn of the century, Jay Wesley Grobard (Burt Reynolds), is a train robber who is in the process of holding up one train, when he ends up with excess baggage in the form of Catherine Crocker (Sarah Miles), who is on the run from her cruel husband (George Hamilton), who has teamed up with lawman Lapchance (Lee J. Cobb), who is hot on Grobard's tail. It turns out Grobard isn't a bad person, he's a father with two children, that live with an Indian tribe, their mother was an Indian called Cat Dancing. Even though Catherine is repulsed by Grobard's behaviour, she soons warms to him, seeing him as the man her husband can never be, and they end up staying one step ahead of Lapchance and his men. It's a good western, but it had one hell of a troubled production, Miles' boyfriend/manager committed suicide during filming, Reynolds suffered a herniated disc and John Williams only had a week to compose a new score after Michel Legrand's score was rejected. Despite all this, it holds together, Reynolds and Miles have chemistry, and it's quite a sweet love store as well. 3.5/5



The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), after Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire were unceremoniously dumped during pre-production of Spiderman 4, Columbia Pictures decided to reboot the entire franchise, with a new star and a new director in Marc Webb, who did (500) Days of Summer (2009). Despite misgivings, the reboot works, even though there is the odd niggle here and there, it's great fun to watch. Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is a geeky high school student who lives with his Aunt May (Sally Field) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), and at school, he's caught the attention of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who is also the Chief Intern at Oscorp, whose's Peter's father Richard (Campbell Scott) worked for. When Peter finds an old file belonging to his father, he goes along to Oscorp to meet his fathers old colleague, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), to find out more. But, Peter ends up being bitten by a genetically modified spider, and Peter starts developing spider like abilities. Meanwhile, Connors is trying out a serum based on lizard DNA for regenerating limbs, as he only has one arm, but he ends up turning into a giant lizard. Guess who has to stop him?? Razz It is a good film, and Garfield is a likeable Peter Parker, a bit of a cheeky, cocky devil in places, but it's a good film and it makes up for the lacklustre Raimi sequels. Ifans hams it up to high heaven, but he has fun as the baddie, yet the film does have some good action sequences and it's well made, and it does set the scene for a sequel or two. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:44 am

Awesome reviews as ever, Don!

_________________
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We take unto ourselves the power and glory.
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   Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:51 am

Just getting through as many DVD's as I can now. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:05 am

Awake (1st view) - Hayden "I was Crap in Star Wars" Christensen does little to salvage his reputation in this silly thriller - 2/5*





Ironclad (1st view) - More gore and violence than I expected. Not the greatest of scripts but plenty of well-staged action scenes and some fine ham acting, especially from a bearded, shouty Paul Giamatti, who makes his King John tye most enjoyable to watch since Peter Ustinov - 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   Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:40 am

Kika (1993), by the early 1990's, Pedro Almodóvar had become a favourite in world cinema, making diverse yet beautifully looking and critically acclaimed films. As his follow up to High Heels (1991), he made a sort of retreat into the campy outrageousness of his early films, a satire on the intrusive nature of the media. Some of it works, some of it doesn't, but it has some good performances and some other-worldly costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier. Kika (Veronica Forqué) is a make-up artist who aspires to be an actress, who ends up involved with American writer Nicholas Pierce (Peter Coyote), and his stepson Ramón (Alex Casanovas). Ramón went into a state of catatonia after his mother died, but Kika seems to have brought him out of it, and they both move in together, however Kika also ends up having an affair with Nicholas as well. This captures the attention of trashy tabloid TV presenter Andrea Caracortada (Victoria Abril), who goes around with a video camera on her head filming grieving people and aftermaths of violent encounters. After Kika has a traumatic incident, Andrea Caracortada won't leave her alone. This film has a rape scene played for laughs, it shouldn't work, but it does, sort of. But, the film on a whole if kind of like someone you found funny when you were younger, but they're trying to be funny and wacky years later, and it looks embarrassing. It does look good mind, but even Almodóvar later said the film was a let down. 3/5



The Flower of my Secret (1995), after the controversy Kika (1993) caused, Pedro Almodóvar returned to making more serious films, and he turned out this melodrama which focuses on denial and identity. The film showed Almodóvar diving into more serious material, even if it did leave some critics a bit cold, it has some good performances and has Almodóvar's usual visual touches. Leocadia "Leo" Macias (Marisa Paredes) is a writer of romance novels, which she's written under the pseudonym of Amanda Gris. Her relationship to husband Paco (Imanol Arias), is distant and loveless, as he's stationed in Brussels and later Bosnia. Leocadia starts changing the direction of her writing, and starts writing darker and blacker novels, which alarm her publishers, who want more "Amanda Gris" books, which Leocadia is contractually obliged to do. Also, her family life isn't harmonious either, her sister Rosa (Rossy de Palma) and her mother (Chus Lampreave) are always bickering about something, but things change when Leocadia meets Angel (Juan Echanove), a newspaper editor who falls for Leocadia and her writing. It's a melodrama cut from similar cloth to Douglas Sirk's films, who was a big influence on Almodóvar, but the film has a few plot pointers that would be reused in his later films, Leocadia's new, darker book has the same plot that Almodóvar would use in Volver (2006). It's a pleasant way to pass the time, but it's all been seen before. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:41 am

Stiff Upper Lips (1998), written and directed by Gary Sinyor (Leon The Pig Farmer (1993)), this is a very funny spoof of Merchant-Ivory costume dramas, as well as a dig at their early work in India. It captures the absurd nature that the ZAZ spoofs have and Sinyor clearly has great affection for the films he's spoofing and it's never nasty, unlike what passes for film spoofs today. England 1908, and upper-class Edward Ivory (Samuel West) and his posh friend Cedric Trilling (Robert Portal) have come home from university to the family home of Ivory's End to spend the summer with Edward's sister Emily (Georgina Cates) and their Aunt Agnes (Prunella Scales). But, the family end up involved with poor peasant George (Sean Pertwee), who ends up as their new manservant, when they go away on holiday to Italy. It's while they're here, that Cedric tries to declare his love for Emily, but she's a bit of a novice when it comes to men, but she ends up falling for George, who has brought the lawn from Ivory's End over to Italy, then they go to India, where Aunt Agnes ends up being on the receiving end up randy old tea plantation owner Horace (Peter Ustinov), then Emily announces she's pregnant. It is a very silly film but it has some very good jokes, and it's proof that the UK could do a film spoof and it has some funny cameos from Frank Finlay and Brian Glover, and it manages to do a lot on a low budget and some good looking locations too. It's a little seen little gem and one of British cinema's best kept secrets. 4/5



Traffic (2000), Steven Soderbergh returned from indie film oblivion with Out of Sight (1998) and Erin Brockovich (2000), but he had been nurturing this project, based on the Channel 4 series Traffik (1989), it took Soderbergh ages to get funded, but he got there in the end, and he was rewarded with a Best Director Oscar too. It's a very good character piece, and unflinching with it's depiction of the drug trade. The film is divided into 3 stories, in Mexico, police officer Javier Rodriguez (Benicio Del Toro) is trying to prevent drugs from getting out of Mexico and into America, but he finds out through dubious sources that there's no stopping the drugs trade, and that the Mexican Army and police force are in on it. In Columbus, Ohio. Judge Robert Wakefield (Michael Douglas), is offered the top job in the President's Office of National Drug Control in Washington D.C. But, Wakefield discovers his daughter Caroline (Erika Christensen) is a drug addict. In San Diego, drugs officers Montel Gordon (Don Cheadle) and Ray Castro (Luis Guzmán) bust drug lord Carlos Ayala (Steven Bauer), and his wife Helena (Catherine Zeta-Jones) has to pick up the pieces, and then her family is threatened. This is a complex, multi-layered story, and non of the stories really come together, (they're close at one point), but Soderbergh has a distinct look for each segment, Mexico is washed out, San Diego is glossy, and Columbus and Washington is blue. It's a good ensemble cast as well, also including Dennis Quaid, James Brolin, Peter Riegert, Amy Irving, Topher Grace and Albert Finney. It's a sad, bleak indictment of the way the drugs trade is going in the world, and it's not going to get any better either. It's still relevant a decade later. 4.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:10 am

He Who Gets Slapped (1st view) - Great silent drama starring Lon Chaney as scientist turned circus clown. Chaney is fantastic and it;s one of the best dramas I've seen from that period - 4/5*





Hell Comes To Frogtown (1st view) - Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which repopulation is the government's main order of business, Sam Hell is recruited to have sex with a group of woman in order to make them pregnant. Unfortunately the woman have been captured and turned into sex slaves by giant mutant frogs, so Sam, a nurse and a female soldier go off to rescue them. It sounds mad and it is. Great stuff - 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 25, 2012 8:03 am

Hope and Glory (1st view) - Not the first film I've seen that shows WWII from a child's perspective but certainly one of the best. Wayward barrage balloons, possibly poisoned German jam and the constant fear of nighttime attacks, Boorman manages to wring humour and drama from all situations. It has a slightly detached emotional feel to it which in some ways helps make it even more involving, if that makes sense, reminding me in a way of Terence Davies' films. Acting honours go to Ian Bannen as the crotchety grandad - 5/5*





Goon (1st view) - Liked this more than I expected. Good, surprisingly sympathetic, turns from all (especially Seann William Scott and Alison Pill) but every time Jay Baruchel was on screen I was just praying for a piano to drop on his head. As someone who's only ever seen about 14 seconds of ice hockey the entire idea of the film completely threw me - 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   Fri Jul 27, 2012 9:33 am

The Cremator (1st view) - Set in Prague during the late 30s, this film follows a crematorium owner who believes he is freeing the souls of the dead. Some excellent performances and brilliantly memorable scenes - 4/5*






The Innkeepers (1st view) - Horror film set in a haunted hotel during it's last few days of business, in which the two employees set about trying record evidence of spirits - 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   Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:09 pm

Run Lola Run (3rd view) - Greatly entertaining - 4/5





The Secret Of Kells (2nd view) - Stunningly gorgeous animation - 4/5





Hancock (2nd view) - Feels like three films in one sop the tone's all over the place, but there's a lot to like - 4/5*





Alien vs. Predator (2nd view) - I know this is crap but I still love it, and it;'s better than any Predator film - 4/5





Willard (1st view) - Not as much as fun as a killer rat film probably should be but Crispon Glover is perfect as the manic rodent lover - 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   Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:02 am

Boogeyman (1st view) - Pretty useless horror - 2/5*






Angel Of Mine (1st view) - Decent French film about a woman who's convinced her supposedly dead daughter is being raised by another couple - 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   Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:26 am

Bad Timing (1980), after making Don't Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), Nicolas Roeg was quiet for a few years, he nearly did Flash Gordon and an unmade adaptation of J.G. Ballard's High-Rise, but he settled on this project brought to him by producer Jeremy Thomas and writer Yale Udoff, this is one of Roeg's most upsetting and shocking films, but also one of his very best films. Set in Vienna, this is a story told in flashback and then some, focusing on a relationship between psychiatrist Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) and Milena Flaherty (Theresa Russell). Milena was an army brat growing up on U.S. Army bases around the world, but she was married to Czech man Stefan Vognic (Denholm Elliot), and she comes over to Austria to start a new life, but she still goes back every now and again to see Stefan. When she meets Alex at a party, and it's love at first sight. Alex loves her care-free spirit to life and they have a relationship, but it's not long before Alex becomes bored, and notices her infidelities, but even after they split, he spies on her and can't get over Milena, and after a tragic incident, Inspector Netusil (Harvey Keitel) tries to make sense over what happened. It's hardly the stuff of mainstream cinema, (distributor Rank HATED it), but Roeg brings the best out of his cast, and it has a good soundtrack from Tom Waits, The Who and Keith Jarrett. But, it does have some sickening moments, tastefully done though, including Garfunkel raping Russell overdosed and near comatose on drugs, before calling for an ambulance. Roeg knows how to provoke a reaction, non more so than Bad Timing. 4/5



The Dark Knight Rises (2012), the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, which successfully washed away all traces of what Joel Schumacher did to Batman. But, for the third and final part of Nolan's take on the Caped Crusader, he goes all out, it's nihilistic, brutal, violent and also moving, emotional and brilliantly made. While it might not beat The Dark Knight (2008), it comes very close indeed, and it has some jaw-dropping moments. It has been 8 years since the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has been all but exiled from Gotham City after the death of Harvey Dent, who the people believe was murdered by Batman. But, Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) has used a law to stop all violent and organized crime in Gotham, and it is now a peaceful city. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) has been a recluse for years, with butler Alfred (Michael Caine) looking after him, and Wayne Enterprises being ran by Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). However, after a warning from cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), Gotham is attacked by masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), and Wayne has to don the mask once more to save Gotham, but Bane is real match for Batman. This is an emotionally shattering film, and there is quite a lot to take in, even though it's slow for the first hour, it bursts into life when Batman is back. But, some of the set pieces when Bane attacks is unbelievable, and all the cast are great, even Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. But, Nolan has brought his take on Batman to a great end, and it's been a pleasure watching his take on this comic book classic. 4.5/5



The Third Man (1949), directed by Carol Reed (Trapeze (1956), Our Man In Havana (1959) and Oliver! (1968)), and written by Graham Greene, The Third Man is an atmospheric British film-noir that makes the most of it's locations and has some good performances, clever camerawork and an amazing score, but it is a hard film to watch and it requires patience, but it pays off. In Vienna, American writer Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) has come to see his childhood friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), who has offered Holly a job in Vienna. However, when Holly gets there, he discovers Harry was killed in a traffic accident, after attending Harry's funeral, Holly hears alternating versions of events of how Harry died, one from Harry's friend Baron Kurtz (Ernst Deutsch), and another from Harry's girlfriend Anna (Alida Valli). But, it soon transpires that Harry has faked his own death, but there are people after him, as Harry was running a racket was stealing penicillin and selling it on the black market. Holly ends up with British Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) trying to find and capture Harry while he's still in Vienna. It's very atmospheric, and Anton Karras' zither music is almost like a character in itself within the film, when Welles appears, he adds his own inimitable suave charm to the proceedings, but Cotten, (an underrated actor) carries the film well as the bewildered Holly Martins. This is a film that could only have worked in black and white. 4/5



Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), after Gremlins (1984) came out, Warner Bros. wanted director Joe Dante to do a sequel, he refused, but he eventually accepted on condition he had complete creative control and could do it his way. It paid off and the result is perhaps one of the most original and hilarious sequels ever made, making fun of the whole concept of sequels and it is an anarchic, naughty film which is such great fun. After the death of Mr. Wing (Keye Luke), the mogwai Gizmo ends up in a laboratory in Clamp Enterprises, a huge conglomerate skyscraper in downtown Manhattan, which is where Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) and his fiancee Katie (Phoebe Cates) now work. Billy is soon reunited with Gizmo, and tries to keep him safe until the end of the day, however Gizmo ends up getting wet and eating after midnight, and it's not long before Gremlins take over Clamp Enterprises, much to the horror of billionaire Daniel Clamp (John Glover), and even more to the horror of lab owner Doctor Catheter (Christopher Lee) when the Gremlins start drinking his potions, and transform into more horrible creatures, so it's up to Billy and Gizmo to save the day. It's a hilarious film with some brilliant creature effects by Rick Baker, it makes fun of films and TV shows and even sends up the original film as well. Dante has the time of his life with this, moving away from the dark comedic horror of the original, and making a great live-action cartoon with this one. With cameos from Henry Gibson, Hulk Hogan, Dick Miller, John Astin, Paul Bartel, Kathleen Freeman and Tony Randall as the Brainy Gremlin, it's the best sequel ever!! 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:27 am

The Wind and the Lion (1975), written and directed by John Milius, then hot off Dillinger (1973), he'd bagged himself a deal at MGM, and Milius wanted to do an adventure film in the vein of Rudyard Kipling and the Boy's Own adventures, and he took inspiration from a real kidnapping that happened in Morocco. It's a good grand adventure, quite gung-ho as well, but it's the sort of film that doesn't get made now. In Morocco in 1904, American aristocrat Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her children, William (Simon Harrison) and Jennifer (Polly Gottesman) are kidnapped by Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli (Sean Connery), the leader of a band of insurrectionists, looking to overthrow and humiliate Sultan Abdelaziz (Marc Zuber) and his uncle, the Bashaw of Tangier (Vladek Sheyba), in response to Morocco being divided up between England, France and Germany. In America, President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) uses the kidnap story to ensure a re-election, despite protests from his Secretary of State, John Hay (John Huston). Meanwhile, it turns out that Eden Pedecaris is quite a match for Raisuli, who didn't expect a woman with tenacity. It's a good adventure, with some good acting and good action, with lovely cinematography by Billy Williams, a sweeping score by Jerry Goldsmith and good locations in Spain, (which also doubles for Washington). Connery might not be a first choice for a Moroccan bandit, but he has a charm which makes it pay off, despite having a Scottish accent. Razz But, it would be good to see Milius make more films, as he has a good eye for visuals and spectacle. 4/5



Buffalo Soldiers (2001), directed by Gregor Jordan (Two Hands (1999) and Ned Kelly (2003)), this is based on a book by 1993 novel by Robert O'Connor. This is an amusing black comedy which is cut from similar cloth to M*A*S*H (1970) and Catch-22 (1970), which shows what U.S. Soldiers do when there's no war to fight. It was delayed for two years, but it's a good satire showing a confused time in the world's history. It's 1989, and soldier Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) is station at an army barracks in West Germany, and he's bored. The Cold War with East Germany and the Soviets is nearly at an end, and there's no war to fight. So, he sells drugs on the black market, cooking heroin for the German Military Police. But, Elwood is posing as a model soldier, right under the nose of Colonel Berman (Ed Harris), whose wife (Elizabeth McGovern) is sleeping with Elwood. However, things take a change when Sergeant Robert E. Lee (Scott Glenn), takes command of Elwood's team, and punishes him. Things get worse when Elwood starts dating Lee's daughter Robyn (Anna Paquin), and a cache of weapons go missing. It's a good satire on war, best known for a tank going through a small German town, but it came perilously close to not being seen at all when 9/11 happened, and then producer FilmFour briefly went under. But, Phoenix has fun in the role of Elwood, and is able to keep his cool when shit happens in this barracks. Jordan should be making more films, he showed promise with this. 4/5



The Music Lovers (1970), the great Ken Russell was at the time of this film hot of Women In Love, and he got a 3 picture deal at United Artists as well. Here, he serves up another biopic of one of the great composers, but he's done it with his own, inimitable flair, and it's a shade of the excessive nature and over the top visuals that were soon to come in all of his films, but it's beautiful to look at. It's about Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain), who once had a homosexual relationship with Count Anton Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), and he struggled to get his music recognised and appreciated. Despite the relationship he had with Anton, Tchaikovsky ended up marrying Antonina Milyukova (Glenda Jackson), who is a nebbish, neurotic woman who likes to have a good time in the bedroom. The marriage becomes the cause of a creative block for Tchaikovsky, and it drives him and his wife to madness, Tchaikovsky has been tormented for years by the death of his mother because of cholera, but it soon leads to one of his greatest compositions, the 1812 Overture, and how it soon made him one of the best composers of his time.. Described by Ken as "The story of the marriage between a homosexual and a nymphomaniac", he delivers style, visual beauty and good performances in an abundance. With a good script by Melvyn Bragg and beautiful cinematography by the great Douglas Slocombe. It's got imagery typical of Russell, (such as Jackson getting felt up by asylum inmates through a grate), but it brings out the best in Tchaikovsky's music. 4/5



Mahler (1974), Ken Russell rides again, this time he's in familiar territory with another film about one the great classical composers. It was originally going to be made in Germany by MGM, the funding fell through after Savage Messiah (1972) was a massive flop, leaving poor Ken to do it on a shoestring budget, but it does lead to some inventive moments. Although on the surface this might look quite straight faced, it does have Ken decending into over the top fantastical moments. This one is about Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell), the Austrian composer who, now a sick, old man on a train journey with his wife Alma (Georgina Hale), looks back upon his life, and all the struggles he faced in it, whether it be his troubled childhood with abuse from father Bernhard (Lee Montague), his quest for musical perfection, and conversion from Judaism to Catholicism, done before Nazi Pope Cosima Wagner (Antonia Ellis), and because of anti-semitism, his troubled childhood and his brother Otto (Peter Eyre) killing himself, the death of his daughter from scarlet fever, but how his love to Alma conquers all tragedy. It is beautifully shot and Ken gets the best out of his locations, Cumbria's Lake District doubles for Bavaria, which would be used again for Russell's next film, Tommy (1975), which Powell also appeared in. Oh, and Oliver Reed makes an uncredited cameo as a station conductor, the film brings out the best in Mahler's music, and Ken brings out the best in everything. 4/5



Pumpkinhead (1988), the directorial debut of effects man Stan Winston, (The Terminator, Aliens, Predator), he also did the story for this with Richard C. Weinman, Gary Gerani and Mark Patrick Carduccihis is a creepy and schlocky horror film that works to a point. It does get a little tiresome after about an hour, and we've seen it all before, but it does have it's moments. Ed Harley (Lance Henriksen) runs a small store in a rural part of America, with his young son Billy (Matthew Hurley). Ed leaves Billy alone while he goes out to run an errand, but while he's out, a group of teenagers with some motorbikes. They stop for a break, and they go to ride their bikes in the nearby hills and sand dunes, but they end up accidentally killing Billy. The teens flee apart from Steve (Joel Hoffman), who tends to Billy. Joel, who ran him down, is scared as he's been convicted once before for a similar offense. Inconsolable with rage, Ed goes to witch Haggis (Florence Schauffler) who unleashes the vengeance demon called Pumpkinhead. Ed soon realises he's made a terrible mistake and goes out of his way to stop Pumpkinhead from causing carnage and murder. It's a very silly horror film which led to straight to video sequels, Winston only directed one other film, A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), which sank without trace. Pumpkin head had potential to be a good film, but bad cliches and the same old kids in danger attitude let it down. Pity really. 2/5



Miller's Crossing (1990), for their third film, Joel and Ethan Coen followed up the mad comedy of Raising Arizona (1987), with this very violent and powerful gangster drama, a better one than The Godfather (1972), and more memorable. Although the Coen's get better press for their 'serious' films, this is compelling and has a lot of their usual offbeat touches. Set in a nameless Prohibition-era city, (filmed in New Orleans), it has Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne), longtime associate with gangland boss Leo O'Bannon (Albert Finney), getting caught in the middle of a potential gang war with rival Italian gangster Johnny Caspar (the always brilliant Jon Polito), who plans to kill crooked bookie Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro). But, Leo has given protection to Bernie, as Leo is in a relationship with his sister Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), who is also having a secret affair with Tom. However, after Leo is nearly killed in an assassination attempt, Tom tells Leo the truth. Leo kicks him out, and Tom goes to join Johnny Caspar's gang where he ends up having to kill Bernie Bernbaum. It's a very complex state of affairs, but we've come to expect it from the Coen Brothers, this is a beautifully shot film, and it captures the era and the dialect perfectly, ("What's The Rumpus??"), plus it also contains the best scene the Coen's have EVER directed, the shootout done to Danny Boy. 5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:28 am

The Saint Strikes Back (1939), in the late 1930's/early 1940's, RKO Radio Pictures produced a series of films based on Leslie Charteris' character Simon Templar, AKA The Saint. The first film, The Saint In New York (1938), starred Louis Hayward as Templar, in this one, George Sanders played Templar, and would do for another 4 films. It's a good film, mixing mystery with light humour and suspense. In San Francisco, Simon Templar (Sanders) is there and he becomes involved with Valerie Travers (Wendy Barrie), who is trying to set herself up as a crime boss. But, when Valerie is nearly killed in a shooting, Templar helps her get away but he ends up being suspected of the shooting. The police call in Inspector Henry Fernack (Jonathan Hale) from New York, to help investigate the shooting and to bring Templar in. However, things aren't as simple as they look, and Templar gets on the wrong side of Travers, who is trying to get vengeance for her father being framed. Templar ends up in a plot involving police corruption, but he's also trying to stay one step ahead of the police and Fernack, while also trying to clear his own name from his affair. For a B-Movie, this is very well filmed with some good cinematography and some good performances. Sanders makes a good, caddish Templar, and these were normally shown on double bills with other Saint films made simultaneously. 3.5/5



The Saint's Double Trouble (1940), the 4th film in RKO's series of Simon Templar films, and the third one to star George Sanders. This one is a bit of a silly adventure compared with what had gone and what was to come, but it doesn't last long, (The Saint films rarely last over 70 minutes), but it manages to be fun while it lasts. Simon Templar (Sanders) is believed to be in Cairo, but when he turns up in Philadelphia at the house of his friend Professor Horatio T. Bitts (Thomas W. Ross), and Bitts believes that Templar is in trouble. Bitt has just received a coffin containing the mummified remains of a pharaoh. However, the police have been looking for a man who is identical to Templar, and has been committing jewel thefts, diamond smuggling and other misdemeanors. Templar's double turns out to be Boss Duke Bates (Sanders again), and Templar soon finds himself being chased by the police, including New York Inspector Fernack (Jonathan Hale) is on his tail again. But, matters are further complicated when Professor Bitts turns up dead and Templar ends up being chased down for that. It's a very confusing film, but Sanders is as good as ever. There's an amusing cameo from Bela Lugosi as a gangster just known as The Partner, who has something to do with the diamond smuggling. For B-Movies, these were quite well filmed, and look quite lavish even if they were done on the cheap. 3/5



The Saint Takes Over (1940), the 5th film in the series of The Saint films produced by RKO Radio Pictures and the 4th one with George Sanders as Simon Templar. This one has a good plot and it seems to have come out best, and has some funny dialogue and some good moments of suspense as well. Simon Templar (Sanders) comes over from London to help Inspector Fernack (Jonathan Hale),who has hunted Templar down over the years but has also become a friend to Templar too. Fernack has been framed in a corruption scandal and subsequently disgraced. Templar comes over to help Fernack clear his name, but Templar ends up with Ruth Summers (Wendy Barrie), who he met on the cruise ship over from England, she's wanting to find out what happened to her murdered brother, and they end up with gangsters Albert 'Rocky' Weldon (Roland Drew) and Clarence 'Pearly' Gates (Paul Guilfoyle), who stole $90,000, and they were the ones who framed Fernack. So, Simon Templar hatches a plan to bring the gangsters to justice, and clear Fernack of any wrong-doing, but he ends up falling in love along the way. There's a light touch about this one, and it's a good film too, maybe the best one so far. Sanders is very comfortable in the role too. This has the benefit of a good plot and again, good camerawork. 4/5



The Saint's Vacation (1941), the seventh Saint film produced by RKO Radio Pictures, and it was all change with this one. The production of the series was moved to wartime England to take advantage of money the government had held onto from American films, and because George Sanders was living in America, the role of Simon Templar was passed onto Hugh Sinclair, who is very suave in the role. Simon Templar (Sinclair) is on a holiday by train through Europe, (even though it makes no real reference to the war), he's with his friend Monty Hayward (Arthur Macrae) who is flustered because the press know Hayward is friends with Templar, and they want to know his whereabouts. On the train, Templar gets involved with reporter Mary Langdon (Sally Gray) and a music box, which Crown Prince Rudolph (Cecil Parker) wants to get his hands on, but the music it plays is a tuneless, incoherent sound. But, with the musical cylinder removed and rubbed across paper, it's a secret code. When train passenger Valerie (Leueen MacGrath) is bundled off into a car by Gregory (John Warwick), the plot thickens. It's quite a confused plot, and the train sequences reuses footage from Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes. It has some good moments, including some good action, but it does come across as a bit bland. Maybe the move to the UK wasn't such as good idea, but it's short. 3/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:29 am

Gideon of Scotland Yard (1958), after making tons of westerns with John Wayne and even a trip to Ireland with The Quiet Man. John Ford made a film completely against type, based on John Creasey's novel. On first view, it looks quite heavy going, but there is some very light hearted moments in the film, and Ford is able to get the best out of his British cast and crew, and it's a good time piece of London back in the 1950's. The film follows a day in the life of Detective Chief Inspector George Gideon (Jack Hawkins) of the Metropolitan Police, he's in charge of the Flying Squad. It doesn't get off to the most best start when he's booked for jumping a red light by P.C. Farnaby Green (Andrew Ray), despite his position in the Met. But, his day involves investigating a series of robberies on a company that delivers payroll money to other companies, Gideon discovers that one of his own detectives has been accepting bribes. Then murder Arthur Sayer (Laurence Naismith) from Manchester murders in London, Gideon is on the case again, while informant Birdie Sparrow (Cyril Cusack) gets into trouble with the wrong people. It's a good film, light hearted but it has tenacity too. Hawkins is very good as Gideon, and it's a good look of how the police operated then, and it was a refreshing change for Ford, who is comfortable working in the UK, and it has lovely colour cinematography by Freddie Young. 4/5



Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), directed by John Sturges, (The Magnificent Seven (1960), The Great Escape (1963) and McQ (1974), this is an atmospheric modern day western with a good cast. It's a bit of a slow burner, but it pays off in spades towards the end. It was quite subversive for it's time, and even now, it's a rough and down n dirty film. Set in 1945, just after the end of World War 2, John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy), a one armed man, steps off a train in the rural town of Black Rock. What makes this even more weird is that this is the first train that's stopped at Black Rock in 4 years. Macreedy is given a bit of a cold reception by the locals, who view him with suspicion. The hotel clerk Pete Wirth (John Ericson) claims to have no rooms, and Black Rock's Sheriff Tim Horn (Dean Jagger) is afraid of the towns self appointed leader Reno Smith (Robert Ryan). Macreedy has come to the town looking for a man called Komoko. The towns people tell Macreedy that Komoko was interned in the Pacific during the war, but the more Macreedy digs for the truth, the more defensive the townspeople get, and Macreedy has to take action. It's almost like a less violent version of Straw Dogs, where a man looking for no trouble has to take action. Tracy gives a good performance as the mild mannered Macreedy for whom the worm turns, and there's support from Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine too, and there's a good score by Andre Previn as well. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Aug 03, 2012 12:07 pm

So many films!

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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 Aug 03, 2012 2:49 pm

It's a wonder I have time to watch them these days!! Shocked
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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sat Aug 04, 2012 11:12 am

Olympics taking up all your viewing?

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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   Wed Aug 08, 2012 3:00 am

The Anderson Tapes (1st view) - Is Sean Connery these days remembered as a great star rather than a great actor? He could certainly pull off some excellent performances. This sees him in one of his best roles. John Anderson is released from prison after 10 years and sets about immediately planning the robbery of an entire apartment block unaware that's he's being surveilled. It's a tension packed film and Connery is on top form. Reuniting with Director Lumet, who coaxed Connery to his greatest performance The Hill, was obviously a good idea - 4/5*




A Cat In Paris (1st view) - Excellent animation - 4/5*




Killer Elite (1st view) - Perhaps the closest De Niro has come to acting in about 15 years - 3/5*





Ted (1st view) - My viewing was ruined by the absolute worst cinema audience I've ever encountered but the film's good fun - 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   Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:27 am

Very Important Person (1961), directed by Ken Annakin (Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) and Monte Carlo or Bust (1969)), this is a very entertaining Prisoner of War comedy, with a cast which reads like a who's who of British comedy of stage, screen and TV. It also has a brilliant lead from a bombastic British actor who was brilliant at these kinds of roles. During World War II, scientist Sir Ernest Pease (James Robertson Justice) is sent on an RAF mission to see how on of his inventions works, however for security reasons, no-one has to know who he is, so he goes in as Lieutenant Farrow. But, when the plane is attacked over Germany, Pease manages to bail out, but is captured by the German's. He is sent to a POW camp, mostly occupied by RAF officers, led by Senior British Officer Travers (Norman Bird), who susses out that Pease isn't really Farrow. Pease comes clean, and confides in Travers, who along with fellow prisoners Jimmy Cooper (Leslie Phillips), Everett (Stanley Baxter) and "Bonzo" Baines (Jeremy Lloyd) hatch a plan to help get Pease out of there and back home to Blighty before anyone releases he's gone. It is a witty and amusing comedy, James Robertson Justice was a true force of nature, and he was great at playing grumpy old men, and here is no exception, with a witty script and good support by John Le Mesurier, Richard Wattis and Eric Sykes. 4/5



The Lorax (2012), based on Dr. Seuss' 1972 children books, from the makers of Despicable Me (2010) and Hop (2011), this is another film with a message, and it also suffers from the same pitfalls that have other Dr. Seuss adaptations have faced, where it's expanded and padded beyond it's comfort point. But, this has some good, colourful designs on display and good voices too. Ted Wiggins (Zac Efron) lives in the artificial walled city of Thneed-Ville, where air is sold in bottles and everything is plastic, the girl of his dreams Audrey (Taylor Swift) wants to see a real tree, Ted's grandmother Norma (Betty White) tells him he needs to see The Once-ler (Ed Helms), who can help him. The Once-ler is very reluctant to help him, but he tells Ted the story of when he was younger, The Once-Ler had invented an all-purpose product called the Thneed. It required him to cut down a tree, which summoned the The Lorax (Danny DeVito), who is the guardian of the land the live in. But, when The Once-ler's family arrive, they exploit his invention and ruin the forest. Meanwhile, Ted going outside the city has caught the attention of the greedy businessman Aloysius O'Hare (Rob Riggle), who doesn't want people to leave. It's a good film, and there are some laughs to be had, but it does have a strong message about environmentalism, but it manages to stay on the right side of preachy, but only just. DeVito is fun as The Lorax, adding his inimitable, unique voice to the proceedings. But, as stated, Dr. Seuss stories are short, something is lost in expanding them. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:28 am

Beyond The Poseidon Adventure (1979), after The Poseidon Adventure (1972) was a big success, producer Irwin Allen wanted to do a sequel, and he had an idea on how to follow up the success of the original, after one idea for a sequel had fallen through in 1973. Allen took the helm as director too, it does repeat a lot of the suspense from the original. It's not as good, but it has it's moments, but not many. Tugboat captain Mike Turner (Michael Caine), with his first mate Wilbur (Karl Malden) and passenger Celeste Whitman (Sally Field) come across the wreckage of the Poseidon, in which the survivors have been rescued. Mike wants to go aboard and claim salvage rights. However, as they approach, they're met by Dr. Stefan Svevo (Telly Savalas) and his crew, who claim to have received an SOS from the ship. They go aboard, and they end up trapped on the ship, and they find more passengers. The ship's nurse, Gina Rowe (Shirley Jones) and war veteran Frank Mezzetti (Peter Boyle) who is searching for his missing daughter Theresa (Angela Cartwright), but it turns out Dr. Svevo has a hidden agenda all of his own, and he doesn't care who survives. The effects range from good to ropey, and it came at the tail end of the disaster film craze of the 1970's. The cast are OK, and the film is just that. OK, average, reasonable, adequate. Nothing more, we've seen it all before. Pity really. 2.5/5



Chimes At Midnight (1965), by the mid 1960's, Orson Welles was now in exile from Hollywood and living in Europe. As far as Hollywood was concerned, he was a washed-up hack who blew his chance, but in Europe, he did The Trail (1962) and here he did an adaptation of a 1939 play he did on Broadway called Five Kings. It's an epic production, done on the cheap, but Welles is quite imaginative in his direction and writing. It begins in 1400, when King Richard II has been assassinated by King Henry IV (John Gielgud), yet the cousins to the rightful heir to the throne, Northumberland (Jose Nieto), Worcester (Fernando Rey) and Hotspur (Norman Rodway) plot to overthrow the king. Meanwhile, Henry IV's son Prince Hal (Keith Baxter) spends a lot of time with Sir John Falstaff (Welles), drinking at the Boar's Head Tavern, ran by Mistress Quickly (Margaret Rutherford). Falstaff becomes involved with prostitute Doll Tearsheet (Jeanne Moreau) and gets into trouble with men wishing to banish him, but Falstaff finds a way in which he can redeem himself, and he goes to take part in the Battle of Shrewsbury, even though he's out of out shape and drunk. There's something tragi-comic about the whole enterprise, but despite being done on the cheap in quite shabby sets, it works. It has a rawness which makes it watchable, and Welles was always watchable. The cast of old thesps make it good, with a good, dry narration by Ralph Richardson. It's a little seen gem, but it's now starting to be reclaimed as a great Welles film, and although it's slow-burning, it pays off. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:28 am

Ted (2012), the directorial debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, who also co-wrote the film with Family Guy staff writers Wellesley Wild and Alec Sulkin, this is a very rude and hilarious film that has moments in it that you really shouldn't laugh at, but unlike a lot of other bad taste comedies, it has heart and a good sense of nostalgia about it. MacFarlane has successfully proven himself as a director too, and has a good eye for detail too. When John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) was a boy in 1985, he wished his teddy bear would come to life, and the bear Ted (MacFarlane) does indeed come to life, and he instantly becomes a national celebrity, people can't believe it. However, 27 years later, Ted is still around, the celebrity buzz off him has gone, but he's still living with John, getting drunk and smoking from bongs. John meanwhile is seeing office girl Lori Collins (Mila Kunis), who is hard working and very mature. She wants to marry John, but she cannot go ahead with their life because of Ted's antics and John's refusal to let Ted leave, but ultimately, John has to make a difficult decision, and Ted has to make a living for himself, with varying consequences. It's a hilarious film, with some great gags, and the biggest celebrity comeback of 2012!! Very Happy MacFarlane is able to have fun as director and even acting via mo-cap as Ted, and despite it's rudeness, this one comes out as one of the best films of 2012, and it has a gag rate like Airplane! (spoofed in the film). If one joke doesn't work, don't worry, there'll be one along in a few seconds that will!! 4.5/5



The Hill (1965), directed by Sidney Lumet, (12 Angry Men (1957), Dog Day Afternoon (1975) and Network (1976)), this was a British produced war drama, done in a stark black and white, it showed a more brutal side to army life that doesn't exist anymore, but it does make you question how on earth they got away with it then. It has a brilliant British cast, with it's lead playing dead against what he was best known for at the time. North Africa during World War 2, and a few British soldiers convicted individually for crimes and misdemeanors, have been sentenced to hard labour at a military detention camp in the middle of Libya. The new inmates are Joe Roberts (Sean Connery), Monty Bartlett (Roy Kinnear), Jacko King (Ossie Davis), Jock McGrath (Jack Watson) and George Stevens (Alfred Lynch). All are placed at the mercy of the brutal Staff Sergeant Williams (Ian Hendry) and Regimental Sergeant Major Wilson (Harry Andrews). As punishment, they're made to go up and down a man made sand hill over and over again. The group find solace in the kindly Staff Sergeant Harris (Ian Bannen), who does not approve of Wilson and Williams' methods. It's a very harrowing and powerful drama, with brilliant cinematography by Oswald Morris, and it's a good time piece as well of how life was back then, and it shows not all war films have to be set on the battlefield, a lot of conflict took place elsewhere. Connery is brilliant, and puts in a very powerful, human role, showing then there was more to him than Bond. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Aug 08, 2012 10:28 am

The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), based upon Norton Juster's 1961 children's book, and brought to the screen by the great Chuck Jones, this is a lively and colourful animated odyssey. It shows how imaginative and original Jones was as an animator with his usual humourous touches throughout, but it was a nightmare getting it released, but it paid off, and it manages to be entertaining and educational at the same time, (this must be the only film that manages to do that.) Milo (Butch Patrick) is a lonely boy living in San Francisco, who is bored with life, even when he's not in school. Back home, a large box appears in his room, which opens up to be a giant tollbooth complete with a little car. The car takes him into the magical land of the Kingdom of Wisdom and the cities of Digitopolis and Dictionopolis, by way of Mountains of Ignorance and the Doldrums. Along the way, Milo meets Tock, a dog with a clock in his body, the Whether Man, Dr. Dischord and the Mathemagician. Milo finds himself trying to save Princesses Rhyme and Reason, who are being held captive in Castle in the Air. It's a lovely film, definitely a product of it's time, with trippy animation to rival Yellow Submarine, and some humourous characters and songs. It was filmed in 1967, completed the following year but not released until 1970 after MGM closed their animation department. But, it's still a rarity, even for then, and no-one would touch this with a bargepole even now, so it's one to cherish all the more. 4/5



...tick...tick...tick... (1970), directed by Ralph Nelson (Lilies of the Field (1963), Charly (1968) and Soldier Blue (1970)), this is a hard hitting police drama that has a touch of In the Heat of the Night about it, although this had a counter-narrative to that film. It's tougher and grittier, and for a film that was rated G in America, (A here), at the time, you cannot believe they got away with so much racial hatred and racist slander like the characters use, but it adds to the power. In a small town in the Deep South, Sheriff John Little (George Kennedy) is the outgoing Sheriff, the newly elected Sheriff is Jimmy Price (Jim Brown), whose appearance causes discomfort and anger within the town, all because he's black. Even when Price does simple arrests, he faces anger and hatred from the townspeople, and even Mayor Jeff Parks (Fredric March) is reluctant to help Price, so Price has to rely on ex-Sheriff Little to help keep law and order in the town. However, tensions reach an all time high when Price arrests John Braddock (Bob Random) for the charge of manslaughter caused by drink driving, Braddock's father (Karl Swenson) threatens to invade Price's jurisdiction and bring him down. It's a film which shows the truth about the ugliness of prejudice and corruption of power, but it had it's fingers on the pulse of the mood of America at the time it was made. Brown and Kennedy make a good double act, and neither of them don't take any nonsense. It's a film as powerful now as it was then, and it's one of the best kept secrets of American cinema of the late 1960's/early 1970's 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:37 am

Belle Époque (1st view) - 4/5*





Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (1st view) - A few decent jokes but pretty bad overall - 2/5*





John Carter (2nd view) - So much better than its reputation suggests,. I dearly hope for a sequel but I fear it won't happen Sad - 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   Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:46 am

The Wicker Tree (1st view) - Written and directed by Robin Hardy this is described as a spiritual successor to his 1973 classic The Wicker Man. The original is one of the best horror films ever to come from Britain, a genuinely chilling tale. This one's just plain bad with terrible acting and dialogue and it all comes across as being very amateurish - 2/5*




Jurassic Shark (1st view) - There is a very great chance that this is the worst film I've ever seen. Words don't exists to describe how bad it is. It's helped slightly by unintentional comedy value and as such doesn't quite take the top spot of my all time most hated films (nothing will ever beat Gummo to that) but it truly is terrible. It makes The Room look like Citizen Kane - 1/5*



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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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What I've Just Watched: Part 2
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