Showing posts from August 14, 2016

Review: The Night Before

Three 30ish buddies (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie) go in search of a supposedly awesome party on Christmas Eve. Hijinks ensue. Well, actually tedium and drug/sex jokes ensue. As in, Rogen spends part of the film high on drugs and being sent dick pics by a guy named James. Lizzy Caplan plays Gordon-Levitt’s ‘one that got away’, Mindy Kaling plays her friend, Ilana Glazer plays their other friend, and Jillian Bell is Rogen’s pregnant wife. In smaller roles, Michael Shannon turns up as a drug dealer, Lorraine Toussaint is Mackie’s mother, Miley Cyrus plays herself, and Tracy Morgan narrates the film.   The wheels had started to fall off the “Harold and Kumar” franchise once “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas” came along, but there’s nothing in this 2015 Seth Rogen variant on similar themes that the aforementioned Yuletide stoner comedy didn’t do better. A lot better. Director Jonathan Levine (the dull “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane” , the not-bad “50/50”

Review: Barbarella

41 st Century ‘Astro-Navigatrix’ Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is given the assignment of locating missing scientist Durand-Durand, creator of the Positronic Ray weapon. Along her journey she will encounter a blind angel named Pygar (John Phillip Law), a macho trapper (Ugo Tognazzi), and a predatory bisexual leader known as The Great Tyrant (Anita Pallenberg), among others. Milo O’Shea plays the concierge to the Great Tyrant, Claude Dauphin is the President of the Earth, Marcel Marceau plays Prof. Ping, and David Hemmings turns up as Dildano, a frazzled rebellion leader.   This 1968 flick from director Roger Vadim ( “And God Created Woman” ) cops a lot of flak, and even a lot of critics damn it with faint praise by calling it a ‘cult item’ in what I believe is slightly begrudging tone. Even star Jane Fonda appears to be somewhat bemused and slightly embarrassed about the film. While I’m hardly going to try and convince you that this adaptation of a French comic book is a technical

Review: Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

When hideous gym conglomerate head White Goodman (Ben Stiller, with an inflatable crotch) threatens to take over his crummy little gym “Average Joe’s”, Vince Vaughn must come up with $50,000 dollars before the bank forecloses on it. The solution? Play in a Dodgeball tournament, with Stiller and his steroid-enhanced Cobras (Joes vs. Cobras, get it?) also competing…mostly just to humiliate Vaughn’s team of misfits. These misfits include two wieners (Joel David Moore and Justin Long), an idiot who thinks he’s a pirate (Alan Tudyk), myopic Stephen Root (who essentially does his meek-but-seething shtick from “Office Space” ), and ultimately the pretty Christine Taylor (AKA Mrs. Ben Stiller), a lawyer who works for Stiller’s company but frankly can’t stand the guy. Rip Torn plays legendary Dodgeball guru Patches O’Houlihan (played rather improbably as a younger man by Hank Azaria, basically doing his Moe the Bartender voice, which in no way resembles Torn’s ferocious growl) who turns up

Review: The Paradine Case

Barrister Gregory Peck (surprisingly stiff, and wrongly cast as a Brit) falls for his client (a charmless, boring beyond belief Alida Valli, nowhere near the Ingrid Bergman-type she was probably meant to be), despite having a loving and supportive (if overly suspicious) wife in Ann Todd. Valli is charged with having poisoned her husband, and family solicitor Charles Coburn assigns Peck the case. Recklessly smitten with his client almost immediately (or so we are meant to believe), Peck (potentially stuffing up his reputation as well as his marriage) tries to pin the murder on family valet Jourdan, something the accused is extremely reluctant to do, for reasons obvious to everyone except lunkhead Peck. Charles Laughton is the cynical, harsh judge, none too fond of bursts of emotion, something both Peck and Valli are frequently guilty of (Not that you’d get this from Peck’s hesitance, and Valli’s aloofness!).   A bad Hitchcock film (one of his worst), seemingly impossible, but

Review: Heckler

***** Originally posted on, slightly edited to make it seem a little less crap *****   Given its hot potato nature, this 2007 Michael Addis documentary co-produced and starring actor/comedian Jamie Kennedy, seems to have inspired two styles of film review; 1) The angry, juvenile, smart-alecky rebuttal that is pretty much playing into the filmmakers’ hands as an example of the very thing the film is arguing against, or 2) The measured, polite, straight-forward analytical review from a bunch of wuss-bag critics scared of being lumped into the first category. I’m a wuss-bag, but not today. Oh, no. Today I’m angry, and I’m gonna play right out of the playbook of the first style of review. There’s one difference, though. Unlike the nerdy, smart-alecky cream-puffs Kennedy childishly berates in the film, who fail to intelligently stick up for themselves, I’m pretty decent at mixing my juvenile and unashamedly derisive side with genuine, articulated reasoning (Humility i

Review: The Ice Storm

Set in affluent Connecticut in 1973, and centring on two families who are both perfect ‘Apple Pie’ American families on the outside, but beneath the surface, both parents and children are full of boredom, angst, rebelliousness, deceit, lust, and utter confusion. Kevin Kline and Joan Allen’s marriage has hit a dull patch, and so Kline is seeking sexual fulfilment from bitchy Sigourney Weaver, whose own husband Jamey Sheridan is barely around. Allen, for her part, is being wooed by a long-haired, unorthodox preacher. Christina Ricci and Tobey Maguire are Allen and Kline’s kids. The latter is away at boarding school and trying to get into the pants of cute Katie Holmes, whilst pal David Krumholtz is ready to add her to his many conquests. Ricci, meanwhile, is just 14, but is already politically-savvy, and is even in the early stages of sexual experimentation through Weaver’s kids; sensitive young Elijah Wood and his even younger, oddball brother Adam Hann-Byrd.   This powerful,

Review: Suspect Zero

Troubled, aspirin-chewing FBI agent Aaron Eckhart is receiving taunting faxes from an apparent serial killer (Sir Ben Kingsley) who doesn’t seem to have an modus operandi. Except…doesn’t that in fact create an M.O.? Oops, not supposed to think about that one, I guess. Carrie Anne Moss plays Eckhart’s partner and former…erm…partner in the romantic sense, too.   It’s an interesting idea, unfortunately this 2004 E. Elias Merhige (the much more successful “Shadow of the Vampire” ) killer-thriller is told in such a fashion that the ‘interesting idea’ is kept mostly from the audience…unless you’ve oh, I don’t know, read or seen anything about it at all, of course (Well, what else is there for critics to talk about or trailers to show?). Seriously, why focus the story on Eckhart’s troubled detective, who has little idea about anything, when Ben Kingsley (in a great performance sadly chopped up and often filmed in tight close-up) is right there pretty much holding all the cards? His