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 What I've Just Watched: Part 2

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:45 am

Amelie (2nd view) - A delightful, charmingly oddball piece of whimsy that also happens to be one of the most life-affirming films ever made. Yann Tiersen's score is one of the very best of all time and should've been Oscar nominated, and the film should have won Best Foreign Film as well - 5/5*




The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (3rd view) - Another film with a masterpiece soundtrack. Morricone always write great music but he rarely bettered this. There is simply no way a man running three a cemetery would have been anyway near as engrossing without the score. The film itself is excessively bloated, a good half hour could be done away with and it really wouldn't matter in the slightest. The three leads are all in fine form but Eli Wallach is the standout and Leone's eye for visuals and extreme close-ups never worked better than during the final standoff - 4/5




Tower Heist (1st view) - Enjoyable - 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   Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:13 am

Pan's Labyrinth (2nd view) - It's very good but I find it a hard film to love. With one exception, the fantasy sequences fall flat and I wish they'd been done away with altogether - 4/5





La Dolce Vita (2nd view) - I'd forgotten just how much I disliked this film. 3 hours feel like an eternity - 2/5*





Brave (1st view) - There was never any doubt that I'd like this. Better than the trailers suggested but also one of the least Pixar-ish films they've done. At least now I know what the original title of The Bear and The Bow meant. As gorgeous a film as we've come to expect it is certainly in the bottom half of the list the list when it comes to Pixar features but I'm already beginning to think it's at least better than TS2 and The Incredibles and I give them 5* each. I expect this'll get that extra star on a rewatch.





Bad Teacher (1st view) - I really wanted to give this one star. I think that fact I maybe smiled at one bit made me be generous, but that that one bit was I now can't remember. Diaz is as awful as ever.


_________________
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   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:29 pm

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012), written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, who did the screenplay for Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008), this is a sweet yet quite black comedy-drama, which has a small road-trip and a nice romance at it's centre. It's a different kind of apocalyptic film, which keeps global panic and mayhem to an absolute minimum, keeping it tight and focused, and it works, but it's probabily a bit quirky for it's own good. When it's announced that a 70 mile wide asteroid known as Matilda is going to hit Earth and a last ditch attempt to destroy it has failed and humanity will be wiped out, Dodge Petersen (Steve Carell) finds his wife has ran away, and he is alone, but he finds solace in young English woman neighbour Penny Lockhart (Keira Knightley), who fell out with her boyfriend Owen (Adam Brody) because Owen made Penny miss her flight back to England to be reunited with her family one last time. However, Dodge has a plan, and intends to help Penny, and they set off on a road trip, spurred on when a riot forces them out of their apartment block, but they meet plenty of colourful people along the way. It's difficult to describe the tone of this film, but it's almost like Don McKellar's Last Night (1998), but filtered through the whimsical pathos of Alexander Payne. Carell manages to do a good sad-sack performance, almost like what he did in Dan in Real Life, and Knightley is a funny free-spirit as well. It won't be for everyone, but it has a quirky charm about it. 3.5/5



Three Colours: Red (1994), the third and final part in Krzysztof Kieślowski's Three Colours trilogy, and this would ultimately be Kieślowski's final film before his untimely death in 1996. After the pathos and black comedy of White, this was a return to the tone of Blue, this is a moving drama about fate and chance, and how it shapes our lives and makes who we are. University student and part time model Valentine Dusot (Irene Jacob), accidentally runs over a dog while driving back from a photo shoot, she tracks down the dog's owner to Judge Joseph Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant), who lives a sort of solitary existance, and he doesn't seem bothered about what's happened to the dog, or the fact that it's pregnant either. Valentine finds out Joseph has been eavesdropping on his neighbours' private telephone conversations. She threatens to expose Joseph, but then finds one conversation between her neighbour Auguste Bruner (Jean-Pierre Lorit). But Joseph seems to be obsessed with Auguste's girlfriend Karin (Frederique Feder), with whom, he's involved in a case with. It's a moving and ultimately tragic tale of coincidence and connections, and that it's a small world indeed. Kieślowski keeps the film going nicely and it's the best shot of the 3, and it has one moment that connects all 3 films together. But, it's a fine end to Kieślowski's French trilogy, moving and deep. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:30 pm

The Specialist (1994), from Peruvian director Luis Llosa, (Sniper (1993) and Anaconda (1997)), this is a by-the-numbers action film with a good cast for it's day, but little more. It was slagged off by the critics, but it was still lucky enough to find an audience. It's all been done before, even though the script did the rounds of Hollywood for years before it was finally made, but it could have been a different film. Back in 1984, Captain Ray Quick (Sylvester Stallone) and Colonel Ned Trent (James Woods) are partners for the CIA specialising in explosives, but after the daughter of a South American drug dealer is killed, Quick and Trent's partnership ends. 10 years later in Miami, working as a freelance hitman, and he answers to requests put to him by May Munro (Sharon Stone), whose parents were killed years ago by crime kingpin Joe Leon (Rod Steiger) and his son Tomas (Eric Roberts). She infiltrates herself into Leon's inner circle under an alias, but it's revealed that Ned Trent is part of Leon's gang, and he's going to join the police's bomb squad, but all of this is a ruse to coax Quick out of hiding so that Trent can extract a slow and fiendish revenge on him. It's a silly thriller, but it gives Sly a chance to do action again, and even show a softer side too, even with Stone as a love interest. Before Llosa was signed to direct it, Mario Van Peebles and David Fincher were also considered, (imagine how it would have been with the latter??) But, despite the misgivings from the critics, it proved to be a big hit in late 1994. 3/5



Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (2009), the film's title does what it says, directed by Lee Daniels (The Paperboy (2012) and The Butler (2013)), this is quite a gritty and harrowing drama about life on the breadline in Harlem in the 1980's. It won 2 Oscars a couple of years ago, and despite such a gritty plot, it manages to be quite compelling and moving, but with a hint of hope about it. In Harlem in 1987, 16-year-old Claireece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey Sidibe) is obese and illiterate, and she lives with her abusive and mentally defective mother Mary (Mo'Nique). Precious was raped by her father Carl (Rodney "Bear" Jackson), resulting in two pregnancies. The older child is known as Mongo, because she has Down's Syndrome. Mary depends on benefits, but when Precious is taken out of school because of her second pregnancy, she's placed in a special school under teacher Blu Rain (Paula Patton), and Precious reports to social worker Ms. Weiss (Mariah Carey), who learns about the abuse Precious has suffered at the hands of her mother and her father, but Precious hopes to make a clean break when she gives birth to Abdul. It's a gritty film, but Precious is a girl with an unbreakable spirit. Sidibe is brilliant as Precious, believable and engaging while Mo'Nique is a force of nature as the mother. It's not the sort of film that you watch to be entertained by, it's one which shows a real way of life that's still going on now. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:31 pm

The Three Stooges (2012), a passion project for the Farrelly Brothers for well over a decade, but it could never get funded, it jumped from studio to studio and after much turmoil in development hell, it's finally here. It's not perfect, but it's actually a good companion piece to Brain Donors (1992), and the slapstick is quite funny actually, and it succeeds in capturing the anarchic spirit of the original shorts. Years ago, Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos) were left at an orphanage, ran by Mother Superior (Jane Lynch). Despite their constant bumbling and wrecking havoc, with Sister Mary-Mengele (Larry David) at the receiving end of their bumbling, they're loved by the rest of the orphans. But, when the orphanage is set to be closed due to lack of funding. So, Larry, Curly and Moe head off out into the big wide world to find the money, but they end up in a murder plot involving Lydia (Sofía Vergara), who wants her 'husband' bunked off, but not even they can do that right, and it ends up with Moe becoming a celebrity on Jersey Shore, and Larry and Curly going off to find ways to raise the cash on their own. It does depend on gross-out gags involving wee and farts, (which a lot of the Farrelly's films do), but the film has heart about it, even if it has no brains. Razz Hayes, Sasso and Diamantopoulos capture the spirit of the original Larry, Curly and Moe brilliantly, and it has some good laughs, even if the puns are groaners. It's amazing how funny a film can be if you lower your expectations. 3/5



The Watch (2012), directed by Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod (2007)), produced by Shawn Levy and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this is a very silly sci-fi comedy that has varying success, but it does have good chemistry between the leads. Not all of it works, and you do get the nagging feeling that they left the best stuff on the cutting room floor, but it has it's moments. In Glenview, Ohio. Evan Trautwig (Ben Stiller) is a pillar of the community, as well as being manager of the local Costco store. But things go awry when Costco night watchman Antonio (Joe Nunez) is murdered in a gruesome and bizarre manner. Evan puts up flyers, initiating a neighbourhood watch scheme in Glenview, and the only people interested are construction worker Bob (Vince Vaughn), high-school dropout Franklin (Jonah Hill) and English divorcee Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade). They patrol the neighbourhood, and nothing much happens, and they spend a lot of time getting drunk in Bob's homemade bar. But, when they find a strange orb that causes things to explode, things get weird, then they find the cause of what killed Antonio, and other strange things happening in the neighbourhood. It's a hit and miss comedy, but it does have it's moment, only just. It's a 2 star films with the odd 4 star moments to drag it out of mediocrity. Stiller, Vaughn, Hill and Ayoade make a good team, and even Ayoade holds his own in his first Hollywood film. But, there are some amusing cameos from R. Lee Emery and Billy Crudup. It's all been seen before, but this is fun. 3/5



The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), and so it came to this, this proved to be Peter Sellers' final film, straight off the critical success of Being There (1979). This followed on from The Prisoner of Zenda (1979), and gave Sellers a chance to play more than one character with this spoof of Sax Rohmer's books. But it ends up being quite embarrassing and tragic, with a lacklustre script with jokes that have been done before and much better too. In the 1930's, Dr. Fu Manchu (Sellers) is celebrating his 168th birthday, but his age-regressing elixir vitae is spilt, Fu has to come up with a plan to make a new batch of the elixir. He sends his minions across the world, to Washinton to steal the Star of Leningrad diamond, and then to London to steal the George V diamond. FBI agents Joe Capone (Sid Caesar) and Peter Williams (Steve Franken) go to London to coax Dennis Nayland Smith (Sellers again) out to retirement to stop Fu Manchu's plan. Fearing the Royal Family might be in danger, Smith and Scotland Yard send in Alice Rage (Helen Mirren) to impersonate Queen Mary, but she ends up becoming enamoured with Fu Manchu, and ends up aiding in his plan. Some of it looks good, but it's sad that Sellers ended his career on this one, seeing him as Elvis is just embarrassing, and not even support from David Tomlinson, John Le Mesurier, Burt Kwouk and Clive Dunn can save it. Piers Haggard (Blood on Satan's Claw) started directing the film, but Sellers fired him and took over. Says it all really. 2/5



The Hit (1984), directed by Stephen Frears and produced by Jeremy Thomas from an original screenplay by Peter Prince (BBC's Oppenheimer). This is a gangster film with a twist, it's like a play on film, even though most of it takes place within the confines of a car. But, it has 3 stellar performances by 3 of the best British actors working at that time. It's powerful and suspenseful, and gangster films made today could learn something. London gangster Willie Parker (Terence Stamp) turns grass, and sends some of his fellow gangsters down in return for money from the police. 10 years later, and Parker is living a comfortable retirement in the south of Spain, but he finds himself being kidnapped by 4 Spanish youths, who hand him over to hitman Braddock (John Hurt) and his apprentice Myron (Tim Roth). They've been hired by one of the crime kingpins Parker sent down to bring him to Paris so the kingpin can kill him. On the way, they stop off in Madrid, where Braddock has a safe house. But, it's occupied by Australian gangster Harry (Bill Hunter) and his Spanish wife girlfriend Maggie (Laura del Sol). Parker tells Harry who he is, Braddock kills Harry and they kidnap Maggie and she goes along with them. It's a dark film but it's also a masterclass in acting. There's some brilliant cinematography by Mike Malloy, the film has a simple plot but it's the way Frears tells the story that makes it compelling, and there's something hypnotic and sparse about the scenes in rural Spain as they make their way for the Spanish/French border. 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:33 pm

Never Say Never Again (1983), because of a lawsuit by Kevin McClory, who had come up with some of the story for Thunderball, it granted him the right to do a James Bond film of his own. He wanted to have it open up against Octopussy (1983), but production problems both within and beyond his control put a stop to that. Even though he brought back the original Bond, a lot of the film feels like it's being played solely for laughs, more than the Roger Moore Bond's were doing. After failing a training exercise, James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to a health spa to get back in shape, but he stumbles on a plot which see's a nearby American military base being broken into, and two nuclear warheads stolen by Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Max Von Sydow). It takes Bond to the Bahamas, where he meets Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger) and her wealthy lover, Maximillian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer), who is a member of Blofeld's society, SPECTRE. Bond follows Largo to Nice, where he learns of what's going to happen with the bombs, and he confronts Largo's deadly but beautiful assistant Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera), who he saw at the health spa. It does have it's moments, like a fight with Pat Roach, but even Connery looks bored, even more so than he did in Diamonds Are Forever. Despite seasoned pro Irvin Kershner (then hot off The Empire Strikes Back (1980)), directing it. Some of it feels like a pantomime, but Brandauer is brilliant as the baddie, adding an eccentric, complex side. But it needs more than that, it could have been a lot worse mind. 3/5



Flashdance (1983), directed by Adrian Lyne (9½ Weeks (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987) and Indecent Proposal (1993)), produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (Alarm bell #1) and written by Joe Eszterhas (Alarm bell #2). This low budget romantic drama somehow became the third highest grossing film of 1983. It's definitely a product of it's time, but time hasn't been kind to it, and it's very camp and it's kinda like Rocky with dancing. Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it has 18 year old Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) working in a steel mill during the day, and by night, she earns extra money by working as a dancer in Mawby's bar. She lives in a converted warehouse with her pet dog Grunt, and despite professional training, Alex aspires to be a professional dancer. During one of her performances at Mawby's, she attracts the attention of Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri), who is the boss of the steel mill where Alex works, but he doesn't realise who it is. Alex has no chance of getting into the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance and Repertory because of her lack of professional training, but she has encouragement from retired ballet dancer Hanna Long (Lilia Skala), who tells her to go for it anyways. It's a very silly film, and there are parts that beggar belief, (why would an 18 year old girl get a job in a steel mill??) But, it's a bit like Saturday Night Fever all over again, or rather, it's closer in tone to it's sequel Staying Alive. The cinematography is dusky, but it adds to the mood, and the soundtrack is good though, but that's it. 2/5



Piranha (1978), the directorial debut of Joe Dante, who up until then had been editing films produced by Roger Corman. Here, Corman gave Dante the opportunity to direct his own film, and this was intended as a tongue-in-cheek parody of Jaws. Dante was able to add scares and thrills alongside the corny humour, but it got his career off to a great start, it's just a shame with the 2010 remake, people will forget this one existed. When two teenagers disappear from Lost River Lake, insurance investigator Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies) is sent to find out what really happened. She is aided by drunkard Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman), who knows the area well. They find a local fish hatchery, with a pool filled with salt water. They drain the pool and find the skeletal remains of a dog at the bottom. But they've made a big mistake, and they learn from the hatchery's owner Doctor Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy), that they've just released a school of ravenous piranha into the nearby river, to make matters worse, further down river there's a summer camp led by Mr. Dumont (Paul Bartel) holding a swimming marathon and a camp site as well. It is a very silly film, but it's quite effective in the right places. Dante manages to keep the mood up, and despite Universal threatening a lawsuit for plagiarism, Spielberg loved it and would work with Dante on Gremlins and Innerspace. It's the sort of film you'd expect from this period, and thank god for that. 4/5



St. Elmo's Fire (1985), directed by Joel Schumacher who at the time had gone from costume designer to directing films like The Incredible Shrinking Woman (1981) and D.C. Cab (1983). Here, he did a film with the Brat Pack, from a short story written by Carl Kurlander, who did the screenplay with Schumacher. It's a film about the teenage angst we all go through, especially after school and coming to terms with growing up. At Georgetown University in Washington D.C., the film focuses on the exploits of seven friends. Kirby Keager (Emilio Estevez), Kevin Dolenz (Andrew McCarthy), Billy Hicks (Rob Lowe), Alec Newbury (Judd Nelson), Leslie Hunter (Ally Sheedy), Julianna Van Patten (Demi Moore) and Wendy Beamish (Mare Winningham). Kirby is a waiter at St. Elmo's bar, where his friends all hang out. Alec wants to marry Leslie, but he's upset her because of his political standings. Kirby has aspirations of becoming a lawyer, and is using his time as a waiter to fund his schooling, and he's become obsessed with nurse Dale Biberman (Andie MacDowell), whereas Billy has troubles of his own, because he's become a father, and he can't commit to fatherhood. It's one of the quintessential Brat Pack films, but non of the studios at the time had any faith in making it. Schumacher and the cast persevered, and it became a hit when it opened. The cast all give good performances, and there's something quite compelling about it all. The soundtrack, overseen by David Foster is brilliant. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Sep 06, 2012 6:34 pm

The Abominable Snowman (1957), produced by Hammer, adapted from a BBC TV play from 1955 called The Creature. Hammer turned to veteran director Val Guest, who had brought The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) and Quatermass 2 (1957) to the big screen for them. It's an effective film, which is more of an adventure/survival film than an out and out horror film, but there's some good actors in it. In the mountains of the Himalayas, Dr. John Rollason (Peter Cushing), his wife Helen (Maureen Connell), and assistant Peter Fox (Richard Wattis) are on a botanical expedition, staying at Rong-ruk monastery ran by Lama (Arnold Marlé). A second expedition party, led by Dr. Tom Friend (Forrest Tucker) with trapper Ed Shelley (Robert Brown), photographer Andrew McNee (Michael Brill) and Sherpa guide Kusang (Wolfe Morris) arrives hunting for a legendary Yeti. Rollason decides to go along on the expedition and help in the hunt, despite his wife and the Lama suggesting he stays. No sooner than they're on their way, tensions begin to rise between Friend and Rollason, and accidents mount when they try to find the Yeti and it results in madness and death. It's a slow-burner, with most of the snowy mountains recreated on the backlot at Pinewood Studios. It's effective in places, and the cinematography is nice, but it's slow pace works against it in places. If it had been made 10 years later, it would have been more gory and in colour, but some moments do work and they stick in the head. 3/5



Innerspace (1987), directed by Joe Dante and produced by Steven Spielberg, this is a comedic retelling of Fantastic Voyage (1966), with some action and brilliant special effects thrown in for good measure. It's a joy to watch with some good comedic performances and a lot of imaginative details on display. Even 25 years on, it hasn't aged a day, and it's still great fun. Naval aviator Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is down on his luck, and looking for a new job, his girlfriend Lydia Maxwell (Meg Ryan) has left him as well, so he volunteers to take part in a secret miniaturization experiment, in which he'll be put in a pod, shrunk and injected into a rabbit. The shrinking goes well, but the lab is attacked by evil scientist Dr. Margaret Canker (Fiona Lewis), but supervisor Ozzie Wexler (John Hora) escapes with the syringe holding Tuck in the pod. Ozzie is murdered, but he injects it into hypochondriac Jack Putter (Martin Short), and when Tuck begins communicating with Jack, Jack goes insane, but he soon finds himself on the run from Canker and evil mastermind Victor Scrimshaw (Kevin McCarthy). Jack ends up with Lydia, trying to stay ahead of the baddies. The body effects are brilliant, and no CGI was used, this was done back in the good old days when effects were done properly. Martin Short is hilarious, and it's probably his best role as well, with Quaid having fun as the cocky Tuck. Dante should be making more films on the strength of this one, as he is able to do wonders with special effects and get good performances from his actors. 4.5/5



Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur (Cat People (1942) and The Comedy of Terrors (1963)), and based on the 1911 short story Casting the Runes by M.R. James, this is a very creepy horror film with some quite nasty scares. It touches upon the themes of the occult like The Devil Rides Out (1968) would later do, and this has become a cult favourite on both sides of the Atlantic. Professor Harrington (Maurice Denham) is killed in a freak accident outside his home, and he was about to expose some damning information about Dr. Julian Karswell (Niall MacGinnis). American Dr. John Holden (Dana Andrews) has just arrived in London to attend a seminar Harrington was to have attended, but when he's informed of Harrington's death, he teams up with Harrington's niece Joanna (Peggy Cummins), using Harrington's notes as clues as to how he might have died. It leads them to Karswell, who they discover is the leader of a satanic cult. But, things get darker when Holden comes into possession of a piece of paper with runic inscriptions on it, which Karswell tells him will lead to his eventually death, and the only way to lift the curse is to pass the piece of paper on. It's a very effective horror film for it's day with some good scares and Tourneur keeps the mood up and it has a brilliant finale on the London to Southampton line. It's one of the best British horror films of the 1950's, and it makes good use of it's locations too. 4/5



One Million Years B.C. (1966), produced by Hammer, who at the time were trying to branch out into other branches of entertainment other than horror. They settled on this remake of Hal Roach's One Million B.C. (1940), and they got Don Chaffey (Greyfriars Bobby (1961) and Pete's Dragon (1977)) to direct it, with special effects by the inimitable Ray Harryhausen. It might not be historically accurate, but who cares?? Set in prehistoric times, caveman Tumak (John Richardson), is banished to the barren desert after falling out with his father Akoba (Robert Brown), who is leader of the Rock Tribe. He comes across many dangers such as a giant lizard, ape men, a brontosaurus and a giant spider, Tumak meets the beautiful and tough cave woman Loana (Raquel Welch), who is part of the Shell Tribe, which looks to be more civilised than the Rock Tribe, and they've developed a culture of cave painting, making jewelry from shells and developing a language. The Shell Tribe are attacked by creatures like the Ceratosaurus and the Allosaurus, but Tumak is able to be a good asset to the Shell Tribe, defending them. It's impossible to take this film seriously, but that's the point, it's meant to be taken lightly, it's just a piece of silly entertainment. Even if some of the stop-motion and rear-projection is crude by todays standards, it's still quite effective, even if Raquel Welch can't act for toffee. 3/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Mon Sep 10, 2012 3:55 am

Wings Of Desire (1st view) - 3/5*






À bout de souffle/Breathless (2nd view) - I'd forgotten how much I hate this. Worst film I've seen all year - 1/5


_________________
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 Sep 12, 2012 11:44 pm

Memphis Belle (1990), produced by David Puttnam, who had just had a bad time running Columbia Pictures, he returned for England to produce this inspired-by-true-events war tale, he got Michael Caton-Jones (Doc Hollywood (1991) and Rob Roy (1995)) to direct it. Although it does take liberties with the truth in places, and the characters are fictional. It is, at the end of the day, like a Boy's Own adventure. Set during World War 2 in May 1943, it focuses on the 25th and final mission of the Memphis Belle, a B-17 bomber based at a US Army base in the English countryside. The base is ran by Colonel Craig Harriman (David Strathairn), and the Memphis Belle's crew are Captain Dennis Dearborn (Matthew Modine), Lt. Luke Sinclair (Tate Donovan), Lt. Phil Lowenthal (D. B. Sweeney), Lt. Val Kozlowski (Billy Zane), Sgt. Danny Daly (Eric Stoltz), Sgt. Virgil Hoogesteger (Reed Diamond), Sgt. Richard Moore (Sean Astin), Sgt. Eugene McVey (Courtney Gains), Sgt. Jack Bocci (Neil Giuntoli) and Sgt. Clay Busby (Harry Connick, Jr.). From America, publicist Lt. Colonel Bruce Derringer (John Lithgow) has come to interview the crew of the Memphis Belle, that's if they survive their final mission, which is near impossible. It's a good war drama, even if most of it is set on a plane, but there's good chemistry between all those on the Memphis Belle, they look out for each other, and they are, indeed, a band of brothers. Even though Caton-Jones and Puttnam had to take liberties for Hollywood entertainment reasons, it's still a good film. Not a classic, but when it comes to Hollywood rewriting history, not as bad as Pearl Harbor. 3.5/5



2 Days in the Valley (1996), written and directed by John Herzfeld (Two of a Kind (1983), 15 Minutes (2001)), this is a multi-strand character drama cut from similar cloth to Short Cuts (1993), Magnolia (1999) and Crash (2004). Not all of it works, and it is a bit over the top in places, but it does have a good cast giving good performances, but it is hard to follow in places, even though it's not that long at all. Set in Los Angeles, it has hitmen Lee Woods (James Spader) and Dosmo Pizzo (Danny Aiello) killing Ray Foxx (Peter Horton). But, Woods turns on Pizzo, shooting him and blowing him up in his car. But, Pizzo survives and escapes, ending up in the house of Allan Hopper (Greg Cruttwell), an obnoxious art dealer who is nasty to his assistant Susan Parish (Glenn Headly) and his sister Audrey (Marsha Mason), who has picked up suicidal TV producer Teddy Peppers (Paul Mazursky). Meanwhile, Becky Foxx (Teri Hatcher) has found her husband dead, and vice cop Alvin Strayer (Jeff Daniels) and rookie Wes Taylor (Eric Stoltz) investigate, but nothing is what it seems with this murder, and Woods' Norwegian girlfriend Helga Svelgen (Charlize Theron) is involved as well. It is well made, and it's suspenseful, and there is a black streak of humour running throughout. It has a good cast, and one or two stand outs, including Cruttwell (best known from Naked (1993)), as the nasty Hopper, but it's well done, but it does tend to end just a little too abruptly, and it's a film that could have done with a little more padding to clarify one or two bits. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:45 pm

Crank: High Voltage (2009), after Crank (2006) proved to be a surprise success, writer/directors Neveldine/Taylor, (who had quickly shot Gamer (2009) between both films.) This is an insane sequel with stuff that beggars belief and laugh out loud moments throughout as well. It's impossible to take seriously, but that's the point. It's a video game film that's not actually based on a video game, it's fast and furious and a lot of fun as well. It picks up from the moment Crank ended. Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) died after falling from a helicopter. Except he didn't, he survived and he's been taken away by a Chinese gang, who have taken his heart out and replaced it with an artificial one. 3 months later, Chev wakes up, and manages to escape, and he rings up Doc Miles (Dwight Yoakam). Doc tells Chev that he has to keep the artificial heart charged with electricity, otherwise he will die. So, Chev tries to stay charged by any means necessary. He has to find gangster Johnny Vang (Art Hsu), who is in possession of his heart, and he gets help from his girlfriend Eve (Amy Smart) and prostitute Ria (Bai Ling), but he has to keep it charged frequently. It's a great action film, and it's also the funniest action film to date, like seeing Statham trying to get charged by rubbing himself against an old lady's nylon clothing. It's absolutely insane, but it's great entertainment, even it loses it's way towards the end, and it's not as good as the first one. But, it would be good to see them do another one. 3.5/5



X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), after the X-Men films proved to be a massive success, it was decided Wolverine would have his own spin-off film, intended to be the first in a series of films focusing on the origins of certain X-Men characters. However, it proved to be a troubled production, with reshoots taking place and Fox trying to make it less dark and more audience friendly. That works against it. It begins in Northern Canada in 1845, where young James Howlett (Troye Sivan) witnesses his father murdered by groundskeeper Thomas Logan (Aaron Jeffery), James discovers he's a mutant, and he stops aging as does his half brother Victor (Liev Schrieber), and James takes on the name of Logan (Hugh Jackman). After serving in Vietnam, they're recruited by Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) for a project, which Logan refuses, but 6 years later, he's recaptured, and is given a metal skeleton, he becomes Wolverine. On the run, he plans to put a stop to Stryker's plan, so he teams up with mutants John Wraith (will.i.am), Fred Dukes (Kevin Durand) and Remy LeBeau (Taylor Kitsch) to find Stryker's facility and put a stop to his mutant plan. There's far too much going on in the film, and it would have benefitted from a longer cut, and the critical failure forced Fox and Marvel to reboot X-Men, (sort of), with X-Men: First Class (2011), but Jackman is still going another sequel, just called The Wolverine (2013), which promises to be a darker affair. Plus, it's a crime to waste poor Ryan Reynolds with his extended cameo. 2.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:45 pm

Lawless (2012), directed by John Hillcoat and written by Nick Cave (The Proposition (2005)), this is based on the 2008 book The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant. This is a suspensful and exciting tale set back when alcohol was outlawed in America. It's well made and has an amazing cast all giving good performances, and it's well made too, kinda like Boardwalk Empire but set in the countryside, and more down and dirty. Set in Franklin County, Virginia in 1931, it focuses on the exploits and dealings of the Bondurant Brothers, Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf), who run an illegal liquor bootlegging racket, taking jars of moonshine over the county line to local businesses. However, things are complicated when Special Agent Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) comes to Franklin County to put a stop to the bootlegging. But, the Bondurant's make a deal with mobster Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) who buys their moonshine. Meanwhile, Jack falls for preacher's daughter Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska), and Forrest falls for bar girl/dancer Maggie Beauford (Jessica Chastain), who runs his bar. It's a great film, and LaBeouf puts in a brilliant performance, shedding his image of Transformers, and Hardy is great too. But, Pearce steals the film as the evil Rakes, who is a nasty, vicious piece of work. It's all been seen loads of times before, but it's beautifully made and brilliantly acted, and the music is worth the price of a ticket alone. 4/5



The Aristocats (1970), after Walt Disney died in 1966, the future of his company was in doubt, but they were thrown a lifeline when The Jungle Book (1967) was a huge world success. For their next animated film, this had started life as a 2 part episode on the TV series Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, but it grew from there. It's beautifully made, and it has a hip late-60's/early 70's feel to it in places, but it's not perfect, and it has it's imperfections. In Paris in 1910, former opera singer Madame Adelaide Bonfamille (Hermione Baddeley) lives in a grand house with butler Edgar (Roddy Maude-Roxby ), and her cat Duchess (Eve Gabor) and her 3 kittens Toulouse (Gary Dubin), Marie (Liz English) and Berlioz (Dean Clark). After Madame Adelaide announces her plans to leave her fortune to her cats, Edgar is distraught and jealous, and hatches a plan to kidnap them and dump them in the country so he can inherit the fortune, which he does. Lost in the country, Duchess and the kittens find help from streetwise alley cat Thomas O'Malley (Phil Harris), who helps them get back to Paris and stop Edgar from inheriting the money. It's beautifully made, and there's some good songs along the way. But, the production was troubled, and it shows. It went through 7 screenwriters before the script was deemed satisfactory, but it ends up that too many cooks spoiled the broth. Something's missing, the heart that The Jungle Book had is absent, but the animation is beautiful. It looks sketchy, and rough round the edges, but that's the point. It could have benefited from a better script though. 3/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:46 pm

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), after a 5 year break, Indiana Jones returned, Spielberg had had a quick break making more serious films, while Lucas was licking his wounds over the failure of Howard the Duck (1986) and Labyrinth (1986). They needed a hit, and they got it with this, the best film in the series by far, with a great double act at it's core. It is 1938, and Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is given the news by wealthy collector Walter Donovan (Julian Glover), that Indy's father Henry Jones (Sean Connery) has gone missing. The only clue they have is with Henry Sr's diary. In Venice, Indy and Marcus Brody (Denholm Elliot) meet Henry Sr's colleage Dr. Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) where they find more clues regarding what Henry Sr was after, The Holy Grail. Henry Sr. is found in a castle on the Austrian-German border, and it's discovered Donovan and Schneider are both working for the Nazi's and they make off with Henry Sr's diary, which he'd sent to Indy to keep safe. Now it's a race against time to find the location of the Holy Grail. It's not so much about the quest for the Holy Grail, but it's about the father and son relationship, with Connery clearly having the time of his life as Ford's father. It's got brilliant action, adventure and imagination and a great prologue with River Phoenix as the young Indy. Very memorable and quite emotional too, with good humour. Spielberg can always to great popcorn entertainment with the right material. 5/5



Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), based on Truman Capote's 1958 novella, which became a bestseller, it was adapted as a film by Blake Edwards, who had just done Operation Petticoat (1959), which had been a bit hit. It's brilliantly made, and there are some lovely performances in the film, but it does feel a bit dated in places, and it is a product of it's time, but it mixes the comedy, romance and emotions right. Set in New York City, young socialite Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) lives in an apartment block owned by Mr. Yunioshi (Mickey Rooney). Holly notices that she's going to have a new neighbour in the form of Paul Varjak (George Peppard), who is handsome, even if he does hang around with his "decorator" Emily Eustace Failenson (Patricia Neal), who Holly see's kissing Paul. Holly makes weekly visits to Sing Sing jail to help mobster Sally Tomato (Alan Reed) with his drug ring. Meanwhile, Paul becomes infatuated with Holly, she is able to go from party to party with ease socialising, but when she's alone, she's vunerable and neurotic. Paul ends up meeting Doc Golightly (Buddy Ebsen), who married Holly as a child bride. It's a sweet story, but not all of it works, (Rooney done up as the Japanese landlord is uncomfortable). But, Hepburn does well as Holly Golightly, and the cinematography by Franz F. Planer is lovely as is Henry Mancini's score with Moon River. The success of the film enabled Edwards to make The Pink Panther (1963), and the rest, as they say, is history. 3.5/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:47 pm

Murder at 1600 (1997), directed by Dwight H. Little (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988) and Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995)), this is a suspenseful if predictable potboiler, set within the wall of the White House, based on the book Murder in the White House by Margaret Truman, (daughter of President Harry S. Truman). It has it's moments, but not many. When White House secretary Carla Town (Mary Moore) is found dead in a toilet cubicle in a White House restroom, Homicide Detective Harlan Regis (Wesley Snipes) is put on the case, while Regis carries out his investigations in and around the White House, Secret Service agent Nina Chance (Diane Lane) is assigned to keep an eye on him. However, the investigation has come at a bad time, as there's an impending international crisis occurring involving American hostages being held in North Korea, and U.S. President Jack Neil (Ronny Cox) is trying to find a diplomatic solution, but National Security adviser Alvin Jordan (Alan Alda) and General Clark Tully (Harris Yulin) don't think Neil is handling the situation correctly, leading to a clash of personalities. But, everyone at the top has something to hide. It's a good film, but it's all been done before with corrupt politicians, Snipes handles the action well, but Alda steals the show, as always, as the slippery adviser. It's to the point and no nonsense and that's good, but it's all a bit predictable, and a bit of complexity to the plot could have helped it. 3/5



Dredd (2012), based on John Wagner's comic strip for 2000 AD, previously adapted in 1995 starring Sylvester Stallone, which was a critical and commercial flop. This new version is directed by Pete Travis (Vantage Point (2008)), and adapted by Alex Garland (28 Days Later (2002)). This is a down and dirty and gritty action film which successful washes away all memories of Sly's version by keeping it focused, to the point and back to basics, just about. After an apocalyptic war laid waste to most of the world, on the East coast of what was America lies Mega-City One, a vast city which stretches from Washington DC to Boston and has 800 million inhabitants. Because crime is so rife, Judges are appointed to keep crime down, and execute anyone on the spot if needs be. Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) is assigned rookie clairvoyant Judge Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), and they go on a case to Peach Trees tower block to investigate a murder. They find local drug baron Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) is behind it, and she's been the source of a new drug called SLO-MO. But, she locks the entire block down, which prevents Dredd and Anderson from leaving or calling for help, meaning they have to go and take down Ma-Ma, even though she lives 200 floors up. It's a dirty and violent film, but it's amazingly made, with brilliant camerawork by Anthony Dod Mantle and Urban is a good action hero. the action is kept high and there's a lot of WTF!? moments, and it's good to have a nice, violent action film in times like these, but it also manages to be fun as well. This is how you do it, never mind PG-13 action films, they need to be violent and bloody like this!! 4/5

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PostSubject: Re: What I've Just Watched: Part 2   Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:38 am

The Saragossa Manuscript (1st view) - A tiresome Polish films that starts off well but loses it's well long before its three hours are up - 2/5*






Dredd (1st view) - Loved it! Also the best 3D I've seen yet, and the first that didn't leave me with a headache. Maybe extreme slo-mo action is the only way 3D actually works.


_________________
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We cleave to the darkness.
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   Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:54 am

Donald McKinney wrote:
This is how you do it, never mind PG-13 action films, they need to be violent and bloody like this!! 4/5



Yep yep and yep!

_________________
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 Sep 14, 2012 12:46 am

Posse (1993), directed by Mario Van Peebles, whose directorial debut New Jack City (1991) had proved to be a surprise hit upon release. For his next film, Van Peebles settled for a story which shows a side to the Old West that has seldom been shown on film, but it really happened. It has a good ensemble cast, but it does depend on a lot of 90's attitudes including rap music in places, which does work against it. Told by an old man (Woody Strode), he tells the story of a group of black soldiers led by Jesse Lee (Van Peebles), who in 1898, had been fighting with the 10th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers in the Spanish-American War against Cuba under the lead of the racist Colonel Graham (Billy Zane). While on a mission to steal a cache of Spanish Gold, Graham double crosses them and plans to kill them, but Jesse Lee, along with Little J (Stephen Baldwin), Father Time (Big Daddy Kane), Weezie (Charles Lane), Angel (Tone Loc) and Charles Lane Obobo (Tom Lister, Jr.) escape to New Orleans and into the Western Fronteer. But Colonel Graham follows them, and he's never far behind them, but Jesse Lee wants revenge on Graham, as he killed his father Papa Joe (Melvin Van Peebles). It's a good western with some good camerawork, and Van Peebles assembles a good supporting cast including Pam Grier, Isaac Hayes and Paul Bartel. But, it does seem a bit formulaic, and I can imagine Django Unchained will be owing a debt of gratitude towards the film. 3.5/5



Together (2000), directed by Lukas Moodysson (Lilya 4-ever (2002), A Hole in My Heart (2004) and Mammoth (2009)), this is an offbeat comedy/drama set in 1970's Sweden, and it focuses on one way of life that occurred during that time. It's amusing and it captures the era well too, plus it has a good soundtrack of hits that were popular at that time. Set in 1975, and housewife Elisabeth (Lisa Lindgren) is sick and tired of her husband Rolf (Michael Nyqvist) being drunk and abusive most of the time. So, she takes her teenager daughter Eva (Emma Samuelsson) and young son Stefan (Sam Kessel) to a hippie commune called Together, based in the suburbs of Stockholm, where Elisabeth's brother young son Stefan (Sam Kessel) lives with his partner Lena (Anja Lundqvist). Elisabeth and the kids settle in OK, and they become friends with lesbian Anna (Jessica Liedberg), her ex-husband Lasse (Ola Rapace) and their communist son Tet (Axel Zuber), as well as neighbour Fredrik (Henrik Lundström). Meanwhile, Rolf is determined to clean up his act, so he stops drinking and comes up with a plan to win Elisabeth and the kids back, but they're settled in now. It's a very offbeat film, but it's well made and captures the garishness of the 1970's, complete with ABBA and Nazareth, and how hippies were still trying to hang on to ideals that had all but died out a few years before. But, it's interesting to see Michael Nyqvist before he became well known with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009), and it's a satire on socialist values, with General Franco and General Pinochet getting mentioned a lot. 3.5/5



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