Showing posts from June 10, 2012

Review: Stolen Lives

Jon Hamm plays a police detective who just can’t get over his son’s mysterious disappearance. A body is eventually found with a toy his son had on him when he disappeared, but the body is revealed to have been at least 50 years old, and thus cannot be his son. Whilst his marriage to Rhona Mitra starts to suffer, he becomes more and more obsessed with solving not only the murder case but also his own son’s disappearance. He starts to suspect that the two might be connected. In flashbacks we are taken back to 1958 where struggling dad Josh Lucas is finding it hard to keep his family together after his wife’s suicide. He eventually has to hand a couple of the kids over to a relative, but they refuse to take one of the kids, who has a developmental disability (despite appearing to be perfectly fine to me, I might add). From there he takes a construction job and meets a drifter he calls ‘Diploma’ (James Van Der Beek). Jessica Chastain plays a sweet-natured waitress whom Lucas meets, Joann

Review: Your Highness

Narrated by Charles Shaughnessy (of “The Nanny” and “Days of Our Lives” ), this is the story of two princes. No, not the catchy Spin Doctors song, two actual princes and brothers, one brave (James Franco), one horny and oafish (Danny McBride). Franco has just rescued a damsel (Who’s that girl? It’s Zooey Deschanel!) from an evil sorcerer (Justin Theroux), but as he has plans to marry her, the sorcerer kidnaps her again, and has his own evil plans for her. The two brothers must band together (why? I dunno, stop asking so many questions!) and rescue her. Along the way they are joined by a g-string sporting warrior woman (Natalie Portman). Toby Jones plays an oddball saboteur, Damian Lewis is a turncoat, and Charles Dance is the King. Some movies get referred to as ‘one-joke’ ideas. Directed by David Gordon Green (the eclectic director of films such as “Undertow” , “All the Real Girls” , and “Pineapple Express” ) and co-scripted by star Danny McBride, this 2011 stoner comedy vers

Review: The Thin Blue Line

In 1976, a Dallas cop was murdered during a routine traffic stop. Eventually, 16 year-old David Harris was picked up after having bragged about the murder to his friends. Harris led police to Randall Adams, fingering him as the culprit and essentially ensuring his death sentence. This documentary covers events via testimony from Adams, who claims to have been framed (Adams and Harris shared a car ride together, but Adams claims they parted ways well before the murder), as well as interviews with witnesses, attorneys, police, and of course Harris. It is argued that because Harris was a minor, police and the judicial system targeted Adams because he was 28 and thus could be sentenced to death for the crime, which he was indeed found guilty of. Nonetheless, Morris (a former private detective) argues that Adams (who had never been in trouble with the law before) was less likely to have committed the crime than Harris, who was later picked up for another, unrelated murder. He sets about

Review: Find a Place to Die

1968 spaghetti western directed by Guiliano Carnimeo (though supervised by Hugo Fregonese, apparently) starts with a geologist and his wife (Pascale Petit) chased by bandits (who are led by a guy named Chato, of course) who are after their gold. When a rockslide sees the old man incapacitated, his wife travels to the nearest town in search of help. There she meets disillusioned (i.e. drunk as a skunk), Confederate soldier-turned gunrunner Jeffrey Hunter, who reluctantly agrees to help, gathering up a posse of rather unseemly types (who can barely contain themselves at the sight of a bathing Petit, in a ‘memorable’ scene), only to find the husband was tortured and killed and their mission now more centred around bloody revenge! Or something like that. Daniela Giordano (a former Miss Italy) plays a hooker who sings the film’s godawful mopey title song, with Hunter mumbling appallingly in the background in a scene that stands out like a sore thumb. Alfredo Lastretti, as one of the posse

Review: Rango

A pet chameleon in an Hawaiian shirt (voiced by Johnny Depp) is accidentally knocked out of his aquarium whilst his human family are in the midst of a road trip. Stuck out in the middle of the Mojave desert, he encounters a philosophical, wounded armadillo (voiced by Alfred Molina) and a Greek chorus mariachi band of owls. He is directed towards the dusty, increasingly dry town of Dirt. Once there, he adopts the name Rango, and claims to be a storied gunslinger of sorts. This doesn’t much impress local iguana Beans (voiced by Isla Fisher), who is too busy trying to save her family’s ranch to care. However, the rest of the town seem desperate for a hero, and when Rango scurries a local outlaw (Bad Bill, a Gila monster voiced by Ray Winstone) out of town, and (accidentally) kills a menacing hawk, he’s swiftly appointed town sheriff by the Mayor (a tortoise, voiced by Ned Beatty). When it appears that some mole bandits (led by Harry Dean Stanton’s Balthazar) have stolen the town’s entir

Review: Monkey Grip

Sexually liberated, somewhat reckless single mum Noni Hazlehurst (whose character works in the music biz) falls head over heels for a flaky, drug-addicted struggling actor Colin Friels, and as the title suggests, he has quite the hold on her, despite knowing he’s no good for her. Chrissie Amphlett plays (what else?) a tempestuous rock singer named Angela, who is an associate of Hazlehurst’s and has serious man issues (insert lame ‘I Touch Myself’ gag here). Michael Caton plays some guy painting Hazlehurst’s house (no joke, that’s his role!), whilst Candy Raymond is perfectly cast as Friels’ bitchy ex. Sometimes well-acted, but miscast, dreary and rather pointless 1982 Aussie drama from director Ken Cameron (who hit it big here on TV with the miniseries “Brides of Christ” ) never escapes the complete stupidity and unlikeable nature of its central character. An AFI award-winning Hazlehurst is commendable (and often nude!) in the role, but neither she nor Friels ultimately convinc

Review: Affliction

  Set in snowy New Hampshire, Nick Nolte is a local put-upon sheriff cum handyman, estranged from his ex (Mary Beth Hurt), not on great terms with his daughter, and still dealing with his disturbing childhood. This is chiefly thanks to an abusive, thoroughly mean-spirited father (a towering, surprisingly charmless performance by James Coburn, mostly in flashback) who terrified him and his brother, who has since moved away and become a success, and is played by Willem Dafoe. When Nolte starts to investigate a supposed fatal hunting accident, Nolte starts to smell a murder conspiracy, but the investigation also starts to bring back the painful memories for troubled Nolte. Sissy Spacek is his new squeeze, who clearly doesn’t know what she’s in for. Dour, flawed 1998 Paul Schrader (director of “Blue Collar” , screenwriter of “Taxi Driver” ) film gets whatever mileage it has from a fine lead turn by Nolte and a powerhouse, Oscar-winning turn by Coburn (probably the most ambitious of