Showing posts from November 6, 2011

Review: The Philadelphia Story

Snooty society gal Katharine Hepburn is about to marry stuffy John Howard (no, not the former Australian PM, nor the same named Aussie actor), but the wedding is to be crashed by unwanted reporters Jimmy Stewart and Ruth Hussey who are chaperoned by suave Cary Grant, Hepburn’s ex, who intends to break the wedding up. Anyway, Stewart also appears to be falling for Hepburn and possibly vice versa, whilst Hussey clearly hangs on Stewart’s every word, too. The great, underrated Henry Daniell is the ruthless publisher Sidney Kidd, John Halliday is Hepburn’s unscrupulous father, Roland Young her amusingly lecherous uncle, Virginia Weidler her insufferably precocious kid sister, and Mary Nash her mother. Frankly overrated, dated, and flabby 1940 George Cukor ( “My Fair Lady” , “Gone With the Wind” - neither a favourite of mine) film is a classic to many, but didn’t do much for me, though the initial premise isn’t without promise. Hepburn is grating (if you normally find her insufferab

Review: The Incredible Shrinking Man

Grant Williams, after coming into contact with a mist-like radioactive substance on holiday with wife Randy Stuart, wakes up the next day to find his clothes no longer fit him. Doctors are baffled and helpless to stop the shrinking process, though Stuart tries to be supportive, even as Williams’ mood swings wildly. Before long he has shrunk to such a small stature that even the family cat can pose a major threat to him, let alone a giant-looking spider. He becomes fatalistic, feeling helpless and alone in the world, fighting for survival but with an uncertain long-term future. William Schallert plays a doctor, and in an unfortunate bit of casting, ‘regular’-sized April Kent plays a little person who has learned to adjust better than Williams (it’s less egregious that Kent be a ‘regular’-sized person given the extraordinary circumstances of his shrinkage. And my humble apologies to little people across the world for the unfortunate- but necessary- use of the term ‘regular’, I can’t th

Review: Dinner for Schmucks

Tim (Paul Rudd) works for a financial company where the executives hold exclusive parties that the guests invite some unsuspecting eccentric losers so they can ridicule them. The biggest idiot even earns a prize (not that it’s one to enjoy, though they’re unaware of the joke being played on them, I guess). Tim, essentially a nice guy, wants to move up in the corporate world, and suggests to his boss (a thankless Bruce Greenwood) he can get a wealthy Swiss tycoon (David Walliams) on board as a client. As a result, Tim is invited to the next dinner party. But where will he find a suitable guest? He literally hits one with his car, accidentally. He’s Barry (Steve Carell), an IRS worker who jumped in front of Tim’s car to save a dead mouse. You see, he collects them. And fixes them up to fit into a diorama where they appear in all sorts of human settings. Yes, he’s a tax man and a taxidermist. Oh, the hilarity. Unfortunately, Barry’s also an extremely overbearing, irritating human


Review: The Wild Bunch In the early 1900s, aging outlaws dressed in Confederate uniforms (led by craggy William Holden, and also featuring Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, and Jaime Sanchez) are staging one last bank robbery before calling it quits. The robbery seems to go fairly smoothly, though they do lose dumb-arse Bo Hopkins (perfect casting) along the way. Unfortunately, the robbery was a set-up, loot they steal is just a bunch of washers, and one of their own (Robert Ryan) is now in league with bounty hunters (along with scummy, bottom-feeding Strother Martin and L.Q. Jones) on their trail. Ryan used to be Holden’s best friend, until a past screw-up saw Ryan feeling betrayed by Holden, though he starts to hate his current job as bounty hunter as well, especially considering the company he now keeps. Edmond O’Brien hams it up to eleven as a grizzled, cantankerous associate of the Bunch (and Hopkins’ father). Albert Dekker plays the railroad boss behind th

Review: Jedda

Story of the title Aboriginal girl whose mother dies at childbirth and white woman Betty Suttor’s own baby dies the same die. What’s an archaic white Australian woman to do? Why raise the Aboriginal baby herself and attempt to make her ‘fit in’ to white society, that’s what! But Jedda grows up (now played by Ngarla Kunoth, real name Rosalie Kunoth-Monks) caught between two cultures, never fully a part of either. And then that oh-so fetching, wild aboriginal stud (Robert Tudawali) turns up, and all hell breaks loose, leading to a soap-opera, cliff-hanger-style finale supposedly filmed in the Northern Territory, but really the Blue Mountains in NSW. Paul Reynall plays Joe, a trusted half-caste head stockman who also fancies Jedda. 1955 Charles Chauvel (a genuine Aussie cinema pioneer, it must be said) film, the first colour film made in Australia, is a cinematic landmark in this country, and is undeniably gorgeous to look at just from a colour standpoint. But thematically I have a v

Review: The Complete History of My Sexual Failures

No, this is not The Ryan McDonald story. Hey, don’t be mean! This gobsmacking 2009 documentary from director-star Chris Waitt is a little similar to Myles Berkowitz’s “20 Dates” in that it centres around a truly self-absorbed individual’s romantic failings, and indeed it is probably no less dubious in its supposed ‘realism’. But there is still one major difference between the two. Chris Waitt may be as pathetic and obnoxious as neurotic yank Berkowitz, and is certainly oblivious to his failings, but he is far more entertainingly pathetic and obnoxious (and Waitt’s scenes with his displeased producer are far more plausible than Berkowitz’s ones with the obnoxious Elie Samaha). It makes for a sometimes extremely funny (something “20 Dates” never came close to), if perhaps equally sad experience. Chris is a thirtysomething loser in life and love, a failed London musician who seemingly has barely worked a day in his life and can’t hang on to a chick. His mates and younger brother are

Review: Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus

Jaleel ‘Did I Do That?’ White stars as a Naval underwater acoustics geek whose girlfriend is killed when the title Mega Shark crashes into the battleship he’s stationed on. Meanwhile, Gary Stretch stars as croc expert Nigel who is somewhere in Africa when he’s approached by a mining company exec (Hannah Cowley) wanting his services in capturing the ginormous crocodile that has already killed 34 miners (Talk about ‘blood diamonds’!). Back to shark boy, though, as White is recruited by a Special Agent (Sarah Lieving) in assisting with the capture of the giant shark that killed his boo. Before long, both story strands are interwoven as the two giant problems need solving. Oh, and did I mention that both Shark Boy and Crocodile Dundas already have a mutual distrust of one another? Well, they do. Robert Picardo turns up as a Naval Commander. Another monster movie from The Asylum and the SyFy Channel, this flick from director Christopher Ray (yes, the son of crap cult filmmaker

Review: Book of Revelations

Anna Torv asks her dancer boyfriend Tom Long to buy her a pack of cigarettes, and he doesn’t come back. For two weeks. When he finally comes back, he seems a shattered, broken and frighteningly quiet man. His dance mentor Greta Scacchi (dying of some form of cancer that has worsened since Long disappeared) had sent her cop ex-husband Colin Friels in search of Long, and when Long does return, the compassionate copper tries to get the clearly troubled fella to open up (he barely speaks to either Torv or Scacchi on his return) and hopefully eventually heal. But it is through flashback that the audience is made aware of the young man’s ordeal, captured, raped and tortured over several days by several masked women (one of whom is played distractingly by Torv, for no plot-related reason whatsoever), for reasons not clearly defined. Deborah Mailman is the sweet and bubbly girl Long leaves his girlfriend for, but the young man’s scars aren’t even close to being healed. Look for many familiar

Review: State of Grace

In a story inspired by the real-life Westies (a term that means something altogether different in Australia, by the way) Sean Penn stars as Terry Noonan, returning to his old NY neighbourhood of Hell’s Kitchen after ten years of unexplained absence (The area is now known as Clinton, for starters). He hooks up with old acquaintances like Jackie Flannery (Gary Oldman), his volatile, impulsive childhood best buddy, and Jackie’s older brother Frankie (Ed Harris), an Irish mobster whom Jackie works for. He also runs into his old flame, Kathleen (Robin Wright), who happens to be sister to both Frankie and Jackie, and whom he starts up with again. Apparently Frankie is trying to smooth things over with imposing Mafioso Borelli (Joe Viterelli), but the volatile screw-up Jackie mucks that up after a drunken, violent outburst in a bar. All of this leads to Frankie (who likes to call the shots from arms length) for once having to actually get his hands dirty, and in a way most unexpected and he

Review: Dreamship Surprise- Period 1

When the evil Jens Maul (Rick Kavanian) threatens the Earth, the only saviour comes in the form of a penis-shaped ship full of mincing, colour-coded, Miss Waikiki wannabes (don’t ask, just watch), headed by the not quite stoic Kapt ‘n Kork (Christian Tramitz). Michael ‘Bully’ Herbig is the flamingly gay Mr. Spuck, who seems to be prone to more histrionic hissy fits than Elton John searching for his tiara (Mr Spuck’s reaction to being beamed is hilarious; ‘Beaming gets me in the balls!’). A blend of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” you say? That oughtta send the fan geeks into apoplexy, if not, the limp-wristed, mincy Wiggles-schtick just might piss a few people off. Til Schweiger plays Rock, a macho space traveller with a fast ship/taxi cab (and yes, he does get a big Millennium Falcon-esque speech at one point), who reluctantly helps out our limp-wristed heroes, whilst rolling his eyes at their camp, mincy antics. Hilarious, bizarre German spoof of several Hollywood blockbuster