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Showing posts from December 11, 2011

Review

Review: The Virgin Queen

Sir Walter Raleigh (Richard Todd) enters the court of cantankerous, aging Queen Elizabeth I (Bette Davis), and quickly becomes a trusted aide (and perhaps the object of her desire) until Raleigh becomes smitten with one of her (younger) ladies-in-waiting (Joan Collins). Dan O’Herlihy plays Raleigh’s trusted Irish pal Lord Derry, Herbert Marshall is Lord Leicester, and Robert Douglas is the film’s (somewhat) heavy Sir Christopher Hatton.

This 1955 Henry Koster (“Desiree”, “The Bishop’s Wife”) costumer was Davis’ second go-round as Queen Elizabeth I, and is a fine movie in which Davis’ terrific performance is further aided by a sturdy Todd, and smaller turns by Marshall (who should’ve been in the film more), and yes, even Collins proves up to the task. All that’s missing are the top-tier baddies like a Vincent Price or Henry Daniell (both of whom co-starred with Bette in the other QE I film “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex”), or maybe a flashy cameo by a…

Review

Review: Bowfinger

Super low-budget filmmaker Bobby Bowfinger (Steve Martin, with a clip-on ponytail!) is about to lose his small but ever-faithful filmmaking troupe, when he comes across the script he hopes will make him famous. Written by his accountant (Adam Alexi-Malle), the script is called ‘Chubby Rain’ and involves aliens that come to Earth inside raindrops. High-brow stuff. In order to get a big studio exec (like the one played by Robert Downey Jr.) backing the project, though, he needs a star, and he decides upon top action star Kit Ramsey (Eddie Murphy). And when Ramsey turns Bowfinger down, what does he do? He makes the movie around him, filming him without his knowledge, and just having the actors walk up and say their lines to him. His role is mostly just a lot of running around anyway, Bowfinger reasons. Unfortunately, Ramsey is one seriously messed-up individual, who likes to flash LA Lakers cheerleaders and is involved with a cult-like quasi-religious organisation named …

Review

Review:Macbeth (2006)

Set in Melbourne’s gangland territory, this modernised version of the familiar tale of murder, ambition and revenge, stars Sam Worthington in the title role, and Victoria Hill as his Lady, who plot the murder of drug kingpin Gary Sweet (looking entirely embarrassed), to move Macbeth further up the criminal ladder (as three seductive schoolgirl witches predict for him). But things start to go awry as MacBoofhead becomes a tortured soul, Lady Macbeth goes completely bonkers, and Sweet’s sons (Steve Bastoni and Lachy Hulme, as Banquo and MacDuff- who along with younger cohort Matt Doran, are all pretty interchangeable, despite the actors looking nothing alike) wise up, resulting in one overextended bloodbath between a bunch of boring, posturing gangsters.

Completely botched, modern-set (and irritatingly stylised) 2006 Aussie version of the Bard’s play (never a favourite of mine in the first place) is revolting, ham-fisted, turgid, incoherent (even to those who are fa…

Review

Review: Tell Tale
Josh Lucas is a widower who has just had a heart transplant, whilst his young daughter (Beatrice Miller) has a rare bone disease. He’s also just started dating his daughter’s doctor, played by Lena Headey. All of a sudden, Lucas starts having strange visions that don’t appear to be his own. Meanwhile, his heart seems to be overly agitated around people Lucas doesn’t even know. Could it be that his new heart is trying to tell him something? Brian Cox plays a police detective who becomes interested in Lucas’ actions and movements, whilst Dallas Roberts turns up as a sinister surgeon.
A good cast is wasted in this Michael Cuesta (something called “L.I.E.”) flick that tries for a modern version of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. The fact that the story presented here mostly resembles ‘The Hands of Orlac’ (not by Poe, but a 1926 German silent film) is but one of this messy film’s problems. It’s a good place to start, though, because there is absolutely nothing of …

Review

Review: Paranormal Activity 2

Set slightly before the events of “Paranormal Activity”, Sprague Grayden is Kristi, sister of Katie (played by Katie Featherston) from the first film. She and her hubby (Brian Boland, playing the biggest douche on the planet) have a baby boy. From time to time, Katie and her lover Micah (once again, Micah Sloat) drop by. Then all of a sudden, events in the house start to spook the family, which includes teen daughter Molly Ephraim (who is merely Grayden’s stepdaughter), and even their superstitious ‘ethnic stereotype’ maid (whom Boland mocks at every given opportunity, sensitive fella he is).

I rather liked the first “Paranormal Activity”, it was one of the better films of its type, and despite watching it in broad daylight, I still found it unsettling. This 2010 semi-prequel from director Tod Williams (“The Door in the Floor”) and writer Michael R. Perry is...unnecessary. Despite original cast members Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat being left on the pe…

Review

Review: Assassination

Secret Service guy Charles Bronson is put in charge of looking after the new First Lady (Jill Ireland, always a mediocre talent), who is arrogant, selfish thoroughly unimpressed by her new security man, and also targeted for assassination. Jan Gan Boyd and Randy Brooks are Bronson’s team, Michael Ansara is a senator, and William Prince is Ireland’s father.

Hilariously bad 1987 Cannon release from the usually reliable journeyman Peter R. Hunt (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, and editor of many more 007 outings) is like a low (real low) rent precursor to “In the Line of Fire”. Ireland is never for a second credible (dude, she’s British for a start!) and flat out bad most of the time as the First Lady. She and real-life hubby Bronson have surprisingly forced chemistry. The wonderfully named Jan Gan Boyd is spunky and kinda hot, but pretty awful too as Bronson’s horny, smart-mouthed partner. The talented Prince (yup, a genuine actor is in the film!), is wasted.

The…

Review

Review: The Killing Machine

Dolph Lundgren stars as a divorced investment broker who just happens to be a former Soviet assassin for the mob, as well as a KGB agent. Yeah, you read that one correctly. Unfortunately his old life is going to resurface, as people start targeting his family- ex-wife Stefanie von Pfetten, his young daughter Katelyn Mager, and his hot new girlfriend Lindsay Maxwell. One of these people happens to be a former ally, Samantha Ferris, who has seemingly sold out. Bo Svenson turns up as an acquaintance from the old days, who is now a Russian mobster.

This 2010 actioner is another directorial effort from star Dolph Lundgren, whose previous “Command Performance” was formulaic, but not bad. This one more drama-oriented than that film, but also pretty dull. I can admire Dolph for aiming a bit higher than just a simple shoot ‘em up actioner, but a slow and dull action-drama isn’t a good alternative, especially since it only runs about 90 minutes. In fact, it plays like…

Review: Dogs in Space

Set in Richmond, Victoria in the late 70s, this film follows the shambled, unkempt lives of a bunch of young druggies, amateur punk rockers, and general losers sharing a house that looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in about twenty years. Michael Hutchence plays the quiet-spoken, sleepy-looking Sam, whilst Saskia Post is his junkie girlfriend Anna. Other characters include University student Luchio (Tony Helou- whose character stands out like a sore thumb), and the lazily named ‘The Girl’ (Deanna Bond), a teenager who finds herself living at the house for a time. Lots of drugging, partying, and semi-coherent behaviour ensues. Oh, and for some reason, we get lots of news reports about the crash of Skylab, which was happening at the time, and even the Aussie MTV-like show “Countdown” gets played on TV at one point. Chris Haywood turns up as a weird, chainsaw-wielding uncle of one of the characters.

This 1986 film from writer-director Richard Lowenstein (“Strikebound”, “He Died with a Fel…