Showing posts from January 1, 2012

Review: The Chapman Report

Somewhat based on the real-life Kinsey reports, Andrew Duggan plays the title doctor conducting research on the sexual behaviour of several mostly upper middle-class women. Efrem Zimbalist Jr plays one of his researchers, who despite strict guidelines that are meant to enforce anonymity, manages to get involved with one of the subjects. This would be Jane Fonda, a frigid young widow. Claire Bloom plays a nymphomaniac whose alcoholic tendencies seem to give her more than she bargained for when sleazebag musician Corey Allen turns up at her doorstep. Shelley Winters plays a bored housewife to loving but somewhat clueless Harold J. Stone, and is having an affair with married playboy theatre director Ray Danton. Then there’s the bubbly Glynis Johns, a wannabe artist of somewhat middle age, who becomes infatuated with beach bum and footballer Ty Hardin, and wants to sketch him. Meanwhile, her husband (John Dehner) never seems to notice her and at best patronises her. Henry Daniell turns up…


Review: Rocky IV

After a supposed USA vs. Soviet Union exhibition match sees former champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers, in fine swaggering form) become a human punching bag (partly due to his own ill-preparation and ego), Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone) agrees to come out of retirement and fight cyborg-like Russian fighter Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). For revenge. In Russia, no less. Talia Shire and Burt Young reprise their roles as Rocky’s wife Adrian and irascible, curmudgeonly Uncle Paulie. Brigitte Nielsen (the Danish model who was Stallone’s wife for a few years) plays Drago’s wife and spokeswoman. The Godfather of Soul himself turns up in a scene that you simply have to see to believe.

I’ve always liked “Rocky III” best of the sequels by far, as it seemed to reflect where boxing was at and pointing towards where boxing was headed, with the glitziness, the thuggish Mike Tyson’s, and all the media stuff, etc. Even the boxing vs. wrestling match was a sign of things to come in a sense (a…


Review:Red Hill

Ryan Kwanten is a city cop who relocates to the small country town of the title, with his pregnant wife (Claire van der Bloom). Unfortunately, any plans of easing his way into his new life are immediately cast aside when local top cop Steve Bisley (all gruff and steely-eyed gravitas) requires all hands on deck to locate an escaped murderer (a facially-scarred aboriginal played by Tom E. Lewis) apparently on his way to Red Hill. With the man armed, dangerous, and an expert tracker to boot, the orders are ‘shoot to kill’. That isn’t mild-mannered and somewhat naive Kwanten’s usual way of dealing with things (much to the annoyance of man’s man Bisley). A close personal encounter with the escaped convict sees Kwanten take a slightly more forceful approach, but aboriginal Lewis leaves him largely unharmed. It seems he’s more focused on the other cops for reasons only gradually revealed. It would appear that this town and its lawmen have a dark secret that is about to come ba…


Review: Valentine’s Day

As the title suggests, a film following several characters, and their differing romance-related goings on largely in LA, on February 14th. There’s florist Ashton Kutcher who has just proposed to girlfriend Jessica Alba. His best friend Jennifer Garner is an elementary school teacher in a relationship with doctor Patrick Dempsey, whom Kutcher learns something dubious about when he comes to his flower shop. Jamie Foxx is a not-so top TV sports reporter who is unhappy with the romantic puff piece his boss (Kathy Bates) has sent him out for. He strikes up a relationship with dateless PR gal Jessica Biel, whose biggest client (Eric Dane) is a quarterback off contract and set to make a significant announcement about his career and his life, much to the chagrin of his agent Queen Latifah. Anne Hathaway works for the intimidating Latifah and is dating Topher Grace, but is hiding a salacious second job from him. Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper play strangers who start t…


Review:Our Man in Havana

Sir Alec Guinness is superb as a mild-mannered vacuum cleaner salesman living in Cuba, recruited by the Brits (chiefly the immaculately- but inappropriately- dressed Noel Coward) to spy for them as their operative in Havana. He’s completely clueless as to what this involves (and clearly in over his head), and decides to make up all of his supposed reports. His fantasies however end up having a life of their own and dangerous consequences, when people begin to take his lies seriously...deadly so. Burl Ives is Guinness’ German doctor friend who first gives Guinness the idea of inventing spy info and recruits. Sir Ralph Richardson is frightening as the gullible Secret Service boss, Maureen O’Hara is the fellow spy sent by headquarters, further complicating things for Guinness. Ernie Kovacs and Jo Morrow are somewhat unimpressive as a nasty Cuban copper and Guinness’ typically vacuous and bored daughter respectively. Look out for a terrific small turn by Paul Roger…


Review: And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Amber Heard (AKA, The World’s Hottest Lesbian/Bisexual) and Odette Yustman play two American tourists cycling through Argentina, stopping in a small rural town. Party girl Yustman gets into boy trouble, resulting in the two friends having a bit of a spat and going their separate ways. Heard soon regrets the tiff, but when she returns, she finds that Yustman is no longer there. The locals are a fairly unfriendly lot, and even the police seem somewhat apathetic (and patronising) to the situation. Another visiting American, played by Karl Urban, seems to be the only one willing to offer Heard any assistance whatsoever. But can he be trusted?

The original 1970 film “And Soon the Darkness” (one of my favourite movie titles of all-time, by the way), whilst not great, was an underrated little B movie that I hold rather dear to my heart. It wasn’t as overt as some of the horror films that were to follow, but it was the kind of simplistic, quietly creepy fil…


Review: Jamaica Inn

Maureen O’Hara, newly arrived to visit her aunt and uncle saves Robert Newton from a vicious band of cutthroats, led by Charles Laughton, an outwardly upstanding citizen of society, but totally evil and gleefully corrupt. Emlyn Williams and Leslie Banks are terrific as the despicable Harry, and Joss, the leader of the cutthroats when Laughton isn’t around. Look out for character veteran Mervyn Johns (father of character actress Glynis Johns) in a brief bit, in one of his first films, and Basil Radford as one of Laughton’s guests (You might remember him as one of the cricket-loving twits who stole several scenes in Hitchcock’s superior “The Lady Vanishes”).

Heavily maligned (or at best, largely forgotten) 1939 Alfred Hitchcock (“Strangers on a Train”, “The 39 Steps”, “The Lady Vanishes”, “Vertigo”, “Lifeboat”) swashbuckling costumer actually isn’t all that bad, at the end of the day. The one major problem is that ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ and ‘swashbuckling pirate movie’ do…


Review: Mad Max

Elite cop Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) and his partner Goose (Steve Bisley) have the dangerous task of patrolling the streets and clashing with feral, punkish gangs featuring psychos like Nightrider (Vince Gil, in a ridiculous performance, though with corny lines stolen from AC/DC’s “Rocker”, it’s somewhat compellingly silly), who is killed during a chase with Max. His friends, led by the oh-so mildly eccentric Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who makes Andy Dick seem restrained), are none too happy and set about revenge, first by getting rid of Goose, and then terrorising Max and his family (including wife Joanne Samuel). Roger Ward is the burly, bald, leather-loving police chief with the ever-so masculine name Fifi Macafee (seriously, what gives with that name?), and Jonathan Hardy is the police commissioner. Look out for several alumni of Aussie TV show “Prisoner” (who in addition to Gil who had a guest role on the show, include series regulars Sheila Florence and Amanda…

Review: The Big Country

Ex-sea captain Gregory Peck comes to the West to marry Carroll Baker and quickly angers her and her bitter, rich father Charles Bickford by refusing to be dragged into a long-time feud between family patriarchs (of differing socio-economic standings) Bickford and tempestuous Burl Ives (in a role one could also have seen Orson Welles or Charles Laughton in) over the use of water for their respective cattle. Peck intends to buy land (called Big Muddy) from local school marm Jean Simmons (Baker’s loyal best friend) so that he and Baker can make a life together, but she baulks when told that he intends to let anyone, including Ives’ clan, take the water they need from the neutral Big Muddy (she also thinks he’s a little bit of a dandy, too) that separates the warring clans’ respective homesteads. True, if Ives and his clan got control of Big Muddy, they’d deny Bickford’s mob access, but Peck isn’t having any of this petty squabbling. This dandified fish-out-of-water (he’s a genteel from b…