Showing posts from January 14, 2018

Review: The Hidden Fortress

In feudal Japan currently engaged in battle, two poor, dopey soldiers (played by Kamatari Fujiwara & Minoru Chiaki) escape imprisonment and slave labour with their sights set on going home. They encounter a gruff General (Toshiro Mifune) who bribes them with promises of gold in order to get their help in escorting a Princess (Misa Uehara) to safety. Currently hiding out in the location of the film’s title, the Princess, for her part must disguise her regal nature by pretending to be deaf and dumb. Susumu Fujita essentially plays the chief villain, a proud General who engages his rival Mifune in combat. Takashi Shimura plays an elderly General travelling with Mifune and the Princess. Although the extent to which this 1958 Akira Kurosawa ( “The Seven Samurai” , “Rashomon” , “The Bad Sleep Well” ) flick influenced George Lucas’ “Star Wars” films is slightly overstated in my opinion, it was nonetheless influential to a degree and a must-see for film buffs. You can certainly

Review: The Night Listener

Newly (and unhappily) single radio show host Robin Williams who becomes obsessed with the 14 year-old author (Rory Culkin) of a truly unsettling (unpublished) account of sexual abuse by his parents, who sold him to paedophiles, and subsequent suffering of both syphilis and AIDS. The lonely and depressed Williams (who is also gay, not that it should matter, but I’m not 100% sure the filmmakers agree with me on that) begins a telephone relationship with the boy, who lives in a remote part of Wisconsin, with his fiercely protective blind foster mother (Toni Collette) in fear that his birth mother, still at large, might find them. But some of Williams’ friends, including former lover Bobby Cannavale feel something is amiss with Culkin and Collette- like, why do their voices sound somewhat familiar? Fearing he has been made the butt of a seriously sick and unfunny joke, but not wanting to believe it, Williams travels to Wisconsin to find the boy and his mother. Sandra Oh and Joe Morton

Review: XXX: The Return of Xander Cage

CIA deputy director Marke (Toni Collette) holds a meeting to discuss a top-secret satellite hacking program dubbed ‘Pandora’s Box’. It basically has the capacity to turn satellites into weapons. Unfortunately, while the meeting is going on, a team of highly-skilled and well-prepared crims (led by Donnie Yen, and including Tony Jaa, Deepika Padukone, and Michael Bisping) break in and steal the program right from under everyone’s nose. The solution? Bring back Xander Cage (Vin Diesel), who is apparently not dead and enticed to help out the CIA after his NSA mentor Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L. Jackson) has an unfortunate close encounter with a falling satellite. Cage gathers together a team (Rory McCann and sniper Ruby Rose among them) and sets about tracking down Yen and his team. Nina Dobrev plays a nerdy, ‘fan girl’-ish NSA techie helping Cage and his crew. I’m not even sure if I had seen the previous “XXX” films at least not in their entirety, but the cast for this 2017 D.J.

Review: The Hunger

Vampire lovers Miriam and John Blaylock (Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie) are looking for a cure for John’s current predicament. You see, John, several hundred years old, is rapidly aging all of a sudden, yet he is unable to die. 6,000 year-old Miriam has seen this happen several times with previous lovers, whom she is able to transfer some of her vampire powers to, but not all. They've been in contact with doctor Sarah Roberts (Susan Sarandon), an expert in the subject of aging. Miriam decides to seduce the good doctor and turn her into a vampire, but hopefully with a more successful outcome this time than her previous lovers like John. Dan Hedaya and his hideous hairdo play a nosey detective, while Cliff De Young plays a concerned colleague of Sarah’s. I’ve never been able to embrace this glossy, 80s New Wave lesbian vampire movie from former TV commercial director Tony Scott (slick entertainments like “Top Gun” , “Enemy of the State” , and “Déjà vu” ) the way I’d lik

Review: Die Another Day

James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) gets busted undercover in North Korea by Col. Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee), who keeps him prisoner and tortures him. Over a year later, a political prisoner swap sees him released, albeit not something the hardened M (Dame Judi Dench) would like to have done. M, who isn’t entirely sure that Bond didn’t crack and divulge information to the North Koreans, takes him off active duty. Of course, Bond being Bond, he goes off and tries to find the traitor who leaked his identity to the North Koreans anyway. Somehow this leads him to Cuba where he meets a mysterious woman named Jinx (Halle Berry), who is no mere tourist. He also encounters the North Korean Colonel’s henchman Zao (Rick Yune), whose face is now imbedded with diamonds due to a previous encounter with Bond. A Cuban scientific lab of some kind eventually leads Bond back to England and a sneering, showboating billionaire named Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), who owns a swanky hotel in Iceland, and is cl

Review: Planet of the Apes

Cynical and jaded astronaut Col. Taylor (Charlton Heston) and his space shuttle crew crash land on an alien planet apparently in the year 3978, having left Earth in 1972! (Science-y stuff that went over my head was involved). They make a long trek across a desert before finally encountering first plant life, and then humans. Things turn topsy-turvy pretty quickly when our three spacemen (the lone female has died during hyper-sleep it would appear) are rounded up with several other humans by the planet’s dominant species…Talking, upright apes! In this society, apes are the planet’s rulers and humans are mute slaves. Taylor soon finds himself in the care of behavioural scientists Dr. Zira (Kim Hunter) and her husband Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), rather benevolent chimpanzees who are taken aback when they discover that Taylor, unlike any other human they’ve ever encountered, can talk! When the two chimps discuss this development with Orangutan Minister of Science Dr Zaius (Ma

Review: Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Ex-Army guy Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise) hopes to meet up with the MP officer he’s been flirting with over the phone for a while. However, when he gets to Washington DC, he finds out that Maj. Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) has been arrested for treason. Knowing this can’t be true, he uses his special set of skills to bust her out of military prison, and they attempt to figure out what on Earth is going on. Meanwhile, Reacher also finds out that he may be the father of a moody but artistically-inclined teen (Danika Yarosh), and he seeks the girl out. Aldis Hodge, Holt McCallany and Robert Knepper turns up as military men. I don’t know how the flat and uninteresting “Jack Reacher” managed to merit a sequel, but here we are with this 2016 Lee Child novel adaptation from director Edward Zwick ( “Glory” , “The Last Samurai” , “Blood Diamond” , “Love and Other Drugs” ) and his co-writers Richard Wenk (The remake of “The Mechanic” , as well as “The Expendables 2” and “The Equaliser”