Showing posts from January 22, 2017

Review: The Sundowners

The story of the Carmody family, drovers in 1920s Australia. Robert Mitchum is Irish-Australian Paddy, the patriarch who may be too restless in nature to settle down like his wife Ida (Deborah Kerr) and son Sean (Michael Anderson Jr.) want him to. They have ideas about getting enough money to put a down payment on a farm, and Paddy agrees to take on a job as a shearer to work towards that. Sir Peter Ustinov turns up as a displaced English bachelor who joins them. Glynis Johns earned an Oscar nomination playing a bubbly barmaid/hotel owner who has her eye on Ustinov, Dina Merrill plays the sheep shearing station owner’s wife, Chips Rafferty plays the shearing foreman, Wylie Watson plays a veteran shearer, while John Meillon and Ronald Fraser play a couple of the other knockabout shearers.   Even though we lay claim to the first feature-length film ever made (1906’s “The Story of the Kelly Gang” ), Australia didn’t really have the film industry we have now, when this 1960 Austr

Review: Dead Ringers

Jeremy Irons plays the Mantle twins (who in the real-life story were actually the Marcus twins) two respected gynaecologists. Smart and gregarious cad Elliott and his more reserved, bookworm brother Beverly. Yes, Beverly. They are extremely close and share a clinic, an apartment, and even share the same women. The film is mostly focussed on the latter, as they both engage in a sexual relationship with patient and actress Claire Niveau (played by Genevieve Bujold) without her being any the wiser to the impersonation act. At least at first. Eventually she works it out and is angry, but by this time Beverly has developed romantic feelings for her, and her swift exit to film a movie sends him into a depression.   If you love your David Cronenberg, you’ll love this very David Cronenberg movie from 1988. It’s got ‘body horror’, gynaecology, cold blood in its veins, chilly atmosphere, performances, and characters. If that’s your thing, just go ahead and watch the film already. For m

Review: Cake

Jennifer Aniston plays a woman who after a car accident is left with facial scarring, agonising chronic pain, and a dependency on pain pills and alcohol. She also suffered a personal loss that is gradually revealed. Rarely leaving her bed and having a hard time getting over the suicide of friend and fellow chronic pain sufferer Anna Kendrick. Adriana Barraza plays Aniston’s maid, who treats her far better than Aniston frankly deserves. Sam Worthington turns up as Kendrick’s widowed husband, forced to look after their child pretty much on his own. In smaller roles, Chris Messina plays Aniston’s ex, Lucy Punch is a reckless doctor, Felicity Huffman is a support group administrator who is somewhat afraid of Aniston, William H. Macy plays a man from Aniston’s dark past, and Britt Robertson a young thief.   I’ve made it pretty clear by now that I don’t think much of Jennifer Aniston’s ability as an actress. In fact, like a lot of TV ‘personalities’ who try to branch out (especiall

Review: Bridge to Nowhere

Bunch of neighbourhood buddies going nowhere in the mean streets of Pittsburgh are talked into getting into the pimping business by the wannabe criminal entrepreneur of the group, Ben Crowley. Thomas Ian Nicholas, the smart one of the group opts out in favour of getting an education (What a moron! What a crazy notion!), but the others (including the seemingly intelligent Danny Masterson, but also Daniel London and Sean Derry) go along with it. They manage to get themselves a couple of willing ho’s (Bijou Phillips and Alexandra Breckenridge), but as they are junkies, the guys need to keep them on the junk. This leads them to the intimidating Ving Rhames, as their drug supplier. Things go pretty well at first, and Crowley is spending up big, living the high life. But then it all starts to bottom out, beginning with one dead hooker, and one of the young men in jail.   This 2009 Gen-Y indie crime pic is a strange choice for African-American actor Blair Underwood to be making his

Review: L.A. Story

The up until now superficial life of wacky L.A. weatherman Harris Telemacher (Steve Martin) is about to change. He gets canned from his job, his snobby girlfriend (Marilu Henner) leaves him for his agent (Kevin Pollak), and an animated billboard sign on the freeway speaks to him. Yep, you read that correctly. It gives him a cryptic message about his life that he can’t seem to make heads or tails of. He’s also worried that he’s losing his mind because a freeway sign is speaking to him. Meanwhile, he strikes up a relationship with the much younger sales girl SanDeE* (Sarah Jessica Parker), whilst becoming infatuated with English journalist Sara (Victoria Tennant), who is kinda sorta seeing her snooty ex (Richard E. Grant). Susan Forristal plays Harris’ artsy best friend.   One of my favourite films from writer-star Steve Martin ( “Bowfinger” ), it’d been about 15 years since I last saw this 1991 romantic comedy from Mick Jackson ( “The Bodyguard” ). Despite being a very 90

Review: The Hucksters

Clark Gable plays an ad man, what he calls a ‘huckster’ who goes to work for a top advertising agency headed by Adolphe Menjou. Given the task of promoting Beauty Soap, Gable goes to rich English widow Deborah Kerr to convince her to endorse the product. Being a movie, they fall for one another. Also being a movie, there are obstacles in the way of true love. Sydney Greenstreet plays the intimidating head of Beauty Soap, who very much likes the intimidation he instils in others. Ava Gardner plays a nightclub singer and acquaintance of Gable’s, whilst Keenan Wynn plays an appalling vaudeville comedian Gable is stuck with finding a use for. Pretty enjoyable, well-acted 1947 Jack Conway ( “A Tale of Two Cities” , “Dragon Seed” , “Julia Misbehaves” ) romantic comedy boasts a really solid star cast as well as some top character actors in support. Apparently this was Deborah Kerr’s first American film and she’s terrific. She manages to be classy, maternal, and sexy all at the same ti

Review: Bright Lights Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

I don’t know if any or everyone involved with this 2016 documentary knew that Debbie Reynolds was perhaps not in the best of health or not. However, watching this film from Fisher Stevens and Alexis Bloom, not too long after her and daughter Carrie Fisher’s tragic deaths just days apart is a rather unusual and emotional experience. The film now obviously takes on a new meaning and resonance. These two ladies were really something. I have more of a connection to Carrie, being a fan of “Star Wars” , “The Blues Brothers” , and “When Harry Met Sally” , but boy did this film give me a new appreciation for her mother. I’ve always had respect for her, especially in her dedication to preserving Hollywood memorabilia (The ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz” and a set of Rat Pack suits, for instance), but she was undeniably a true star. In the early stages of the film, she appears elderly but still walking around and as talkative as ever. It’s amazing that she was still doing shows at

Review: Tall in the Saddle

John Wayne stars as Rocklin, who receives a letter from a ranch owner named Red Cardell to come work for him. When he arrives in town, Rocklin finds out that Cardell was murdered. He sets about finding out who and why. Audrey Long plays the newly appointed owner of the ranch, and grand-niece of the deceased, arriving in town with her hateful Aunt (Elisabeth Risdon), who takes a dislike to Rocklin just as Long takes a liking to him. Emory Parnell and Paul Fix play the corrupt local sheriff and deputy, whilst Ward Bond is a local lawyer inexplicably named Judge Garvey. George ‘Gabby’ Hayes plays the resident drunk stagecoach driver and Rocklin’s only friend in town, whilst Ella Raines plays the tough, gun-toting sister to nervy gunslinger and card cheat Russell Wade.   Watchable 1944 vehicle for The Duke from director Edwin L. Marin ( “Johnny Angel” , “Colt .45” ) that perhaps takes just a bit too long to get going anywhere for my liking. It contains one of the better roles for

Review: The Stalking Moon

Gregory Peck plays a veteran cavalry scout in the Old West who reluctantly agrees to escort Eva Marie Saint to a railroad station. Saint had just recently been rescued by Peck and his comrades from the clutches of some Apaches she’d been with for quite a long spell. It has clearly taken a toll on her emotionally and mentally, and she just wants to go back to the home she hasn’t seen in years. Also going along for the ride is Saint’s half-breed son, whose father is none too happy for this to happen. That’s why she’s especially eager to get as far away as possible as soon as possible. Trouble follows them anyway. Robert Forster plays the most Italian-sounding half-breed you’ve ever heard, as Peck’s youthful sidekick/protégé scout. Frank Silvera plays an Army Major, whilst Lonny Chapman plays an intimidating type who clearly doesn’t much like Saint or her little boy.   Although you could argue that it’s a little surprising to see the liberal Gregory Peck starring in a western th