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Review: The Talented Mr. Ripley

Set in the 1950s, Matt Damon is Tom Ripley, a poor janitor standing in at a piano gig (which he loves, but isn’t great at) for a friend. When wearing his friends' Princeton jacket, Tom is approached by Herbert Greenleaf (James Rebhorn) who asks him if he knew his son, Dickie (Jude Law). Tom lies and says he does, and before long, Tom ends up being asked by Mr. Greenleaf to go to Italy and retrieve his wayward son. Tom is reluctant at first, but when Mr. Greenleaf says he'll pay him to do it as well as for his trip, Tom jumps at the chance. I mean, hey, it’s Italy! In Italy, Tom finds playboy Dickie and his cheerful girlfriend Marge (Gwyneth Paltrow) sunning around. He pretends to know Dickie even though Dickie doesn't remember him. But Tom also has studied jazz since Mr. Greenleaf (whom master impersonator Tom does an excellent vocal impersonation of) told him Dickie loved it, and so when Tom mentions his love for jazz, an immediate bond is formed. Besides, Marge immediate…

Review: Tarzan

A shipwrecked family end up in the African jungle, and after his parents are killed by a leopard, a young baby is orphaned. Found by a maternal ape named Kala (voiced by Glenn Close) the human baby is adopted and raised among the apes, though never quite accepted as one of them by most. Called Tarzan (and voiced as an adult by Tony Goldwyn), one day he comes across a young human lady about to be pounced on by wild baboons. Tarzan saves the woman, named Jane (voiced by Minnie Driver), who teaches Tarzan to speak English. She’s here on expedition with her professor father (voiced by the late Nigel Hawthorne), who has come to study the gorillas. However, also joining them is the pompous big game hunter Clayton (voiced by Brian Blessed), who dupes the all-too trusting Tarzan into revealing the whereabouts of his ape (adopted) brethren. Lance Henriksen voices Tarzan’s emotionally distant ape father Kerchak, whilst Rosie O’Donnell voices Tarzan’s best monkey pal Terk, and Wayne Knight is th…

Review: Aces: Iron Eagle III

Aging military man Col. ‘Chappy’ Sinclair (Lou Gossett Jr.) this time leads a band of geriatric WWII flyers who are part of an Air Show-type deal. His comrades include a Brit (Christopher Cazenove), and surprisingly a German (the late Horst Buchholz) and a Japanese dude (Sonny Chiba). Debutante Rachel McLish turns up as the sister of one of Chappy’s old buddies to tell him that he’s been killed in what appears to be some kind of drug operation coming out of their own air base! This little operation is headed by former Nazi nasty Paul Freeman and his Colombian (or is it Peruvian? I’m not sure) cohort Juan Fernandez, as well as some traitors in Chappy’s midst. Chappy decides to round up his aging buddies, and aided by McLish and a streetwise low-level gangbanger (Phill Lewis) they head out to save the day. Fred Dalton Thompson (he be dead, too now) turns up as the good ‘ol boy promoter of the air show, Mitch Ryan is the commanding officer on the American Air Force base, and Tom Bower is…

Review: American Made

Based on a true story, Tom Cruise stars as a former airline pilot named Barry, who is secretly recruited by CIA man Domhnall Gleeson to go on covert dangerous missions to mostly Central American countries with supplies or on intelligence-gathering missions in an effort to stop the Reds from making inroads. Things get sticky for Barry, however when drug cartels decide to recruit him as their cocaine shipper to the US. He’s paid handsomely for his efforts, and since Barry’s a family man with monetary needs to support wife Sarah Wright and the kids, who is he to say no? It goes well for a while, too. Then it doesn’t.


When I first saw the trailer for this 2017 flick from director Doug Liman (“Go”, “Fair Game”, “Edge of Tomorrow”), I thought Tom Cruise was repeating himself and giving us another “Knight and Day”. It turns out that this true story-inspired flick isn’t quite the rip-off I was anticipating. Scripted by Gary Spinelli, I wouldn’t quite call this a good film or even an especiall…

Review: Bad Moms

30ish mum Mila Kunis finds out her husband has been having an online affair. The mum of two (including young Oona Laurence) finds sympathy from other mums at her kids’ school like Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell. They’re all fed up with ‘adulting’ (to use the modern parlance, not quoting the film directly) and decide to let their hair down and get cray-cray (OK, I’ll stop now), or at least the male screenwriting duo’s imagination of what that would be like. Christina Applegate plays a super-ambitious mother and PTA president who has it out for the trio of mums and their kids. Jada Pinkett-Smith plays Applegate’s Yes-Woman. Jay Hernandez plays a hunk, Clark Duke is Kunis’ creepy boss, and Martha Stewart turns up as herself.


If ever there was a film made for me, this 2016 motherly version of “The Hangover” from co-directors/co-writers Jon Lucas & Scott Moore is…the opposite of that film. I loathe the “Hangover” films (Lucas and Moore wrote the first one) and adding oestrogen and mothe…

Review: Justice League

Following the death of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman/Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) starts forming a group of superheroes to ward off any potential villainous threat. That threat arrives in the form of the destructive Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), so it’s up to the Caped Crusader, as well as Amazonian warrior Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), nerdy but fast Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and the moody Cyborg (Ray Fish), son of scientist Silas Stone (Joe Morton).


***** POSSIBLE SPOILERS. YE BE WARNED FROM HERE ON ***** I’m not much of a Marvel fan, and the only films in the modern crop of DC Comics films I’ve enjoyed have been Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” and perhaps the unfairly maligned “Green Lantern”. I did however enjoy Snyder’s “Watchmen” quite a bit. However, I hated the universally fellated “Wonder Woman”, “Suicide Squad” was incoherent for the most part, and I thought Snyder’s “Batman vs. Superman” was a hollow, dour wankfest. I’m clearly not like the rest of y…

Review: The Foreigner (2017)

Jackie Chan plays- get this- a Chinese-born, U.S. trained special forces guy and British citizen, who has vengeance on his mind after his beloved daughter is killed in a bomb blast in London. The culprits are a group dubbing themselves ‘The Authentic IRA’, and Chan looks to former IRA/Sinn Fein guy turned British government figure Pierce Brosnan for names. Brosnan tries to dismiss the guy from his cushy little office. Wrong move, as the 60ish Chan nonetheless has zero problems overpowering Brosnan’s guards. This dude’s not going to give up. Meanwhile, Brosnan appears to know at least something of what has happened. Orla Brady plays Brosnan’s bitter wife who thinks he’s gone soft. Michael McElhatton is Brosnan’s right-hand man.


No, not the impenetrable and awful Steven Seagal globe-trotter, but a mixture of Jackie Chan vengeance drama and IRA movie from 2017. Directed by Martin Campbell (the slightly overrated “GoldenEye”) from a screenplay by David Marconi (the excellent, if hyper “En…

Review: My Cousin Rachel (2017)

Young Sam Claflin believes the beautiful Rachel (Rachel Weisz) killed his beloved cousin/guardian, and is filled to the brim with passionate rage and hatred for her. Then he meets her. You know what that means. But the question remains, did Rachel commit murder or is she completely innocent?


I’ve never read the Daphne du Maurier novel, but I’m a big fan of the 1951 film version with Olivia de Havilland and a debuting Richard Burton, so I was intrigued to see what writer-director Roger Michell (“Notting Hill”, “Venus”, “Morning Glory”) and the new cast would do here. Sadly, this 2017 remake is lousy and dull. A well-cast-against-type Rachel Weisz’s coldness as Rachel and the torture Sam Claflin’s Phillip is put through are decently conveyed on occasion. His early hatred of Rachel in particular is well-conveyed early on. However, Phillip is also a bit of a jerk (and a na├»ve idiot), Claflin has none of Richard Burton’s smouldering fire and brooding after that initial period, choosing to …

Review: The Scalphunters

Trapper Burt Lancaster and educated ex-slave Ossie Davis form an uneasy alliance in pursuit of some pelts that are currently in the hands of Scalphunters, led by Telly Savalas. Shelley Winters is Savalas’ shrill, complaining wife.


A moderately successful precursor to the wonderful “The Skin Game” (with James Garner as the white con artist and Lou Gossett Jr. as his none-too-dumb slave/accomplice), this 1968 Sydney Pollack (“Tootsie”, “The Firm”) film blends comedy, western, action movie, and social commentary relatively well. The cast is excellent, with Lancaster and especially Davis heading the way, and both Telly Savalas and old pro Shelley Winters yukking it up in support.


It’s a bit long, and save for the “Odds Against Tomorrow”-style ending, things do get a little too silly by the final stretch. Remember the extended street brawl in John Carpenter’s “They Live”? That’s what we’re talkin’ about here, only some twenty years earlier and not featuring Rowdy Roddy Piper, unfortunately…

Review: Marauders

There have been a string of bank robberies committed at banks owned by bigwig Bruce Willis, and the FBI (including Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista, and newbie Adrian Grenier) are pretty much stumped, making Meloni incredibly pissed off. Somehow tied into the plot of the film are Willis’ dead soldier brother, as well as a seemingly shady homicide detective (played by Jonathon Schaech), who may or may not be as bad as he initially seems, but is definitely a bit of an arsehole. Keen viewers and WWE fans may be able to spot former ‘Diva’ Torrie Wilson in a small part (I wasn’t watching wrestling during that era so I wouldn’t know her if I fell over her).


Director Steven C. Miller gets yet another pay check performance out of Bruce Willis in this direct-to-DVD “Heat” from 2017 (They’ve made at least three films together, including the sub-par “First Kill”). Willis is in typical non-committal mode here, save for one scene involving an Edgar Allen Poe reference where it appears he’s at lea…

Review: The Bride Wore Black

Morose-looking Jeanne Moreau is a mysterious woman tracking down and murdering a quintet of sexist pigs who have somehow wronged her in the past. Michel Lonsdale is the sexist politician, Michel Bouquet is a bachelor bank clerk, Charles Denner a womanising artist, and so on. It is only as the film progresses that the audience comes to understand just what is making Moreau tick.


1968 mystery/psycho thriller from Francois Truffaut (“The 400 Blows”, “Day for Night”, “Shoot the Pianist”) with a dark sense of humour, is Truffaut’s tribute to colleague Alfred Hitchcock (even hiring Bernard Herrmann to do the music), based on a Cornell Woolrich (“Phantom Lady”, Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”) novel. It mostly works and certainly entertains, but the back-story revealed gradually through flashbacks proves unsatisfying and rather silly. Furthermore, Moreau’s victims, aside from maybe a young Lonsdale are a pretty uninteresting lot, and mostly pretty revolting. Sad-faced Moreau is excellent, however,…

Review: Tango & Cash

Sly Stallone and Kurt Russell play the two title narcotics cops, both headline-seekers with wildly different methods and personalities. Stallone is well-dressed, looking like a stockbroker and acting somewhat of a square, whilst Russell is more of a reckless slob who thinks Stallone’s a prissy pencil-pusher and not a real cop. The competitive cops are forced to form an alliance when they are framed for murder by a trio of heavies (Jack Palance, Marc Alaimo, and James Hong) who have a vendetta against the crime-busters (who have never worked together before, by the way). Convicted of the crime they must break out of prison, which is no easy task when they’re faced with a lot of the criminals they personally helped put away, like hulking Robert Z’dar. They must work out who stiffed them, seek revenge, and restore their somewhat good names. Teri Hatcher plays Stallone’s exotic dancer sister, whom Russell has eyes on, Geoffrey Lewis plays a police chief, Clint Howard plays an inmate, whil…

Review: Killing Gunther

Taran Killam stars as one of a team of assassins (Hannah Simone and explosives expert Bobby Moynihan among them) being followed around by a documentary crew as they try to rub out the elusive title hitman (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Cobie Smulders plays Killam’s ex who hooked up with Gunther afterwards.


A potentially amusing idea and stunt casting are completely obliterated by a lazy and overly familiar structure in this 2017 mockumentary. Written, directed by, and starring former “SNL” non-entity Taran Killam, if ever there was a story/idea that deserved to be told in the fashion of TV’s “The Office” or a film like “This is Spinal Tap”…it’s not this film. The format is beyond played out, and having the subject be about the assassination profession this time isn’t enough originality. The choice of genre/structure seriously limits the project creatively. Killam could’ve potentially still gotten away with it though…if it were the slightest bit funny. Sadly, despite star cameo player Arnold…

Review: Napoleon Dynamite

Looking every bit the major dork (and then some!), newcomer Jon Heder stars as the title misfit, a lanky, somewhat surly teen with a somewhat crummy existence- He’s forever being slammed into lockers at school, his thrill-seeking grandma (don’t ask) is often absent, older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell- in a truly remarkable performance) is an internet chat room fanatic and one of the biggest losers I’ve ever seen, and his loser uncle Rico (“Real Genius” co-star Jon Gries) has come to stay, and try out his latest door-to-door scam in between reminiscing about his football-playing days. He’s a has-been who never quite was in the first place. So when his only friend, a sleepy-looking Hispanic named Pedro (Efren Ramirez) finds political ambitions, Napoleon decides to help him become class president. And yes, that really is just about all the plot this movie has. A loser with a losery (not a word, but sue me!) existence finally finds something slightly less losery than usual to be interested in…

Review: Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Set in 1585 and long-reigning Queen Elizabeth (Cate Blanchett), along with her chief counsel Lord Walsingham (Geoffrey Rush) has to contend with Roman Catholic Spanish ruler King Phillip II (Jordi Molla) preparing for war against her. But there’s also Elizabeth’s imprisoned, jealous, next-in-line-to-the-throne cousin Mary, Queen of Scots (Samantha Morton), who is set to dethrone the Protestant Elizabeth, with the aid of a Catholic-backed assassination plot (supported also by Phillip). And then there’s the love triangle of the aging Elizabeth, her chief lady-in-waiting Bess (Aussie Abbie Cornish- holding her own amidst a top-drawer cast), and Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen), the roguish, but handsome, swashbuckling man the somewhat insecure Queen secretly pines for, despite pushing young Bess into his arms. Eddie Redmayne plays Thomas Babington, the intended assassin, with Rhys Ifans as the conspiratorial (and fictitiously named) Catholic agent Robert Reston, whose character gets somew…

Review: Bringing Out the Dead

Nic Cage (looking like he hasn’t slept in two decades) plays a burned-out insomniac paramedic, roaming the scum-infested NY streets somewhat similarly to a certain psycho cab driver I could name. He’s haunted by the ghost of a girl he failed to save, and in fact, has had a particularly bad run lately. He needs to save someone, soon. In fact, he needs to get fired, and despite poor performance and absences, his boss (Arthur J. Nascarella) just won’t let him go, because he is apparently needed. And so he drives. He’s accompanied at varying points by John Goodman (who tries to get through the shift by thinking about his next meal), a sermonising Ving Rhames (who woos a female dispatcher and treats a resuscitation as a religious experience), and Tom Sizemore…who likes to beat people up for shits and giggles. Into Cage’s life comes Patricia Arquette, whose father Cage transports to hospital, but whose prognosis looks especially poor. Arquette, it seems has fallen in with creepy, insinuatin…

Review: The Ice Harvest

Spineless mob lawyer John Cusack (who nearly makes you like his crummy character) and his soulless partner Billy Bob Thornton steal from Cusack’s boss Randy Quaid on Christmas Eve. Sooo…what do they do now? They have to wait until an ice storm leaves Wichita before splitting the money and leaving for good. Thornton volunteers the money whilst Cusack tries his best not to tell anyone about what they’ve done. Easier said than done when you consider that Cusack is gaga over strip joint owner Connie Nielsen and will do anything to win her favour. Oliver Platt is Cusack’s drunk buddy who is unhappily married to Cusack’s bitter ex-wife. Mike Starr (forever typecast as goons and henchmen) plays a mob enforcer.


Mean-spirited, semi-comedic Harold Ramis (“Groundhog Day”, “National Lampoon’s Vacation”) noir misfire from 2005 contains a lot of good performances, but the screenplay and direction are faulty, which is strange considering the pedigree. Setting the film after the crime has been commit…

Review: Thor: Ragnarok

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and wayward brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) learn their father Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins) is dying. Unfortunately, this also allows their previously unheard of sister Hela (Cate Blanchett) to emerge from imprisonment and try to take charge of Asgard. Jeff Goldblum plays The Grandmaster, who imprisons Thor and Loki on his planet at one point, forcing the former to partake in gladiatorial combat with a familiar face. Tessa Thompson plays a character named Valkyrie, Idris Elba briefly returns as Heimdall, and Karl Urban plays an untrustworthy idiot Asgardian named Skurge.


I’m very, very much the wrong guy for this. I’ve not liked many of the MCU movies to date. Hell, I hated the first “Iron Man” movie. I didn’t like the first “Thor” much either. I did like “Thor: The Dark World”, but that makes me as much of an outcast as disliking the first film does. So now here we are with the seemingly very popular third instalment from 2017, directed by Kiwi filmmaker Taika Wait…