Showing posts from December 17, 2017

Review: The Matrix

Thomas ‘Neo’ Anderson is a corporate drone and wanted computer hacker. One day he is contacted by the mysterious Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who urges Neo to ‘follow the white rabbit’. After creepy government agent led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) come looking for ‘Mr. Anderson’, Neo finds himself rescued by Morpheus, who is about to take the wool off Neo’s eyes to what is really going on around him. The world is not as it seems, it’s essentially a computer program used to enslave the masses, and Agent Smith and his fellow goons will do anything they can to keep the populace docile and ignorant of the truth. Morpheus has been told by the prophetic Oracle (Gloria Foster) that Neo is ‘The One’ that is the key to putting a stop to all of this. Carrie-Anne Moss plays Trinity, a follower of Morpheus, with Matt Doran’s Mouse and Joe Pantoliano’s Cyrus also among the gang. I know some people prefer Alex Proyas’ “Dark City” , but I liked this 1999 blend of action and ideas a bit

Review: Hack!

Bizarro couple (Sean Kanan and Juliet Landau) invite various students (including a gay, tokin’ Asian. No, not a token Asian, a tokin...ah, actually, he’s one of those too, come to think of it) on a field trip to their remote island home for wildlife study. Not surprisingly, the film-obsessed hosts have ulterior, bloody motives to just the usual sun, fun, and T&A. Cue the film-reference infused slicing and dicing. Danica McKellar is the resident over-eager film geek, with emphasis on the ‘geek’, Adrienne Frantz is the bad girl, Gabrielle Richens (Remember ‘The Pleasure Machine’?) is the hot foreign exchange student, Burt Young plays a Capt. Quint knock-off to Tony Burton’s Scatman Crothers in “The Shining” , and William Forsythe is a stringy-haired Scottish derelict (yeah, read that one again). Look at that cast and title, people. It’s called “Hack” , and it stars Winnie Cooper (the lovely and seriously brainy McKellar), Deacon and Amber from “Bold and the Beautiful” (Kan

Review: Allied

Set in 1942, Brad Pitt plays a French-Canadian spy who falls for a French Resistance agent (Marion Cotillard) while they’re working together on a mission in Casablanca. Sometime later they’re married, however his superiors (played by Jared Harris and Simon McBurney) give him a new assignment that rocks his world. Could his sweet, trusted wife be a dirty rotten Nazi spy? Lizzy Caplan plays Pitt’s lesbian sister. Director Robert Zemeckis ( “Romancing the Stone” , “Back to the Future” , “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” , “Forrest Gump” , “Cast Away” , “Flight” - all quality films, “Gump” especially) and screenwriter Steven Knight ( “Eastern Promises” , “Locke” ) obviously had classic films like “Casablanca” , “Now, Voyager” , “Notorious” , and many others in mind for this 2016 spy/romance flick. In fact, I think it would’ve looked much better in B&W where some of the FX work wouldn’t look quite so obvious. That’s a bit of a disappointment from a normally tech-savvy director like Zem

Review: Fences

Set in the 1950s, Denzel Washington plays a former Negro League baseball player who now laments that he was never able to reach the highest of highs. Now a garbage collector in his 50s and married for almost 20 years to long-suffering wife Viola Davis, he is hard-headed, arrogant, unwaveringly tough on his kids, and unfaithful in his marriage. Stephen Henderson plays Washington’s friend and co-worker, whilst Mykelti Williamson plays Washington’s brain-damaged brother, a gentle but erratic man who was wounded in war and has never recovered. Some plays have made for perfectly fine movies ( “12 Angry Men” in particular, is brilliant). Hell, on the odd occasion you won’t even be able to tell that the film you’re watching is a cinematic adaptation of a stage play. Then there’s a film like this 2016 directorial-starring effort from Denzel Washington that never for a moment ceases to be anything more than a filmed stage play shot occasionally out in the open. For theatre lovers out

Review: 1984

Set in a ‘future’ 1984 where what used to be called Britain is now called Oceania. Oceania has long been engaged in war with East Asia of vaguely reported details. In Oceania, the all-seeing, all-knowing figurehead ‘Big Brother (Bob Flag) keeps the citizens’ every thought and action in line with the totalitarian Government propaganda. Meals are rationed, and ‘thought crimes’ and ‘sex crimes’ are heavily punished by the State. Wilbur Smith (John Hurt) is a humble clerk at the Ministry for Truth, whose job is to rewrite historical documents to paint a favourable view of the Government. However, Wilbur’s acquiring of a diary and an ‘I love you’ note he receives from co-worker Julia (Suzanna Hamilton) lead him to dangerous, illicit, and rebellious behaviour that soon has them on the radar of the ‘Thought Police’. Richard Burton plays O’Brien, a Ministry officer, Gregor Fisher plays one of Wilbur’s co-workers, whilst Cyril Cusack plays a small but pivotal part of a nature I’ll leave mys

Review: Chato’s Land

Set just after the Civil War, Jack Palance leads a blood-thirsty posse going after half-breed Charles Bronson, who killed a popular lawman in self-defence. Naturally, this is easier said than done (It is Charles Bronson we’re talking about after all). Also among the posse is veteran James Whitmore as an Injun-hating old-timer, who nevertheless isn’t as blood-thirsty as some of the others in the posse. Roddy McMillan plays a British family man who also joins the posse, but seems to have a decent-enough head on his shoulders. Palance, meanwhile, looks as though he’s unsure as to how the hell he feels as the situation gets worse and worse, and the less scrupulous of the men (chiefly the usual suspects Richard Jordan and Ralph Waite) rape Bronson’s wife, setting Bronson right off, “Death Wish” -style. A surprisingly uninvolving (given cast and story), excruciatingly drawn-out 1972 film from filmmaker Michael Winner ( “Death Wish” , “Lawman” , “Scorpio” ). It’s supposedly a Weste

Review: Cleopatra Jones

6 foot 2 Tamara Dobson plays the title special government agent who is out to bust the drug business of lesbian drug lord Mommy (Shelley Winters) and her crew. Pissed, Mommy has her on-the-take cops raid the sober living establishment run by Cleo’s activist boyfriend Ruben (the recently departed Bernie Casey). Paul Koslo plays one of Mommy’s henchmen, Antonio Fargas plays idiotic drug pusher Doodlebug who tries to leave Mommy’s employ to work for himself, and Bill McKinney plays racist corrupt cop Purdy. “Soul Train” host Don Cornelius is in here too, I just have no idea why he’s here. Straddling the line between Blaxploitation entry and female James Bond variant, this 1973 effort from director Jack Starrett (best-known as an actor, playing the mean-spirited Galt in “First Blood” ) is certainly not short of colour or camp. Definitely one of the more ‘fun’ Blaxploitation movies, while also shying away from some of the harder edged elements of the subgenre. That’ll disappoint