Showing posts from February 4, 2018

Review: Back to the Future

Typical teen Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) pays a visit to his crazy inventor friend and mentor ‘Doc’ Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd), who claims to have invented a time travel device from a DeLorean car. While they’re testing the device out, tragedy strikes and Marty is forced to get inside the time machine to escape grave danger. In doing so he ends up going back through time and landing in 1955. With not enough plutonium fuel to get back to 1985, Marty needs to seek out the 1955 ‘Doc’ to come up with another plan to get back home safely. In the meantime he needs to ward off the amorous advances of his own then-teenage mother Lorraine (Lea Thompson), and try to get her to fall in love with his father George McFly (Crispin Glover) or else he and his siblings will be erased! Thomas F. Wilson plays George’s tormenting bully Biff Tannen, James Tolkan plays the hard-arse high school principal, and Billy Zane plays one of Biff’s sycophants.

People seem to love this movie. Love it. Certain…

Review: Strength and Honour

Michael Madsen plays an Irish-American boxer who is asked by his wife on her deathbed to put away the gloves after a fatal sparring session with his brother-in-law. He soon learns that his young son is afflicted with the same heart illness that killed his mother. Grief-stricken and looking for atonement, Madsen moves to Cork, Ireland and in order to finance the very expensive operation for his son, tries to get into a bare-knuckle fighting tournament financed by a local community of gypsies (or ‘travellers’). The chief antagonist is a rowdy, sadistic fighter known as ‘Smasher’ (Vinnie Jones), whilst Patrick Bergin is a ‘traveller’ elder, and Richard Chamberlain is Madsen’s Irish boxing trainer. Perhaps happy that he wasn’t torturing people for a change,

Michael Madsen apparently considers this the best work he’s ever done. Aside from that and a couple of minor film festival awards, this has a horrible Rotten Tomatoes rating, with the late Roger Ebert’s 2 ½ stars about the best recepti…

Review: After the Sunset

Jewel thieves (and lovers) Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek dupe FBI agent Woody Harrelson, ridiculing him on their latest venture before escaping to an island paradise retirement. Things seem to be going fine until Harrelson shows up, pretty much goading Brosnan into doing one last job (a jewel located on a cruise ship) so he can finally nail him. Hayek, who has adapted quite easily to retirement, disapproves. Teaming up with Harrelson is local cop Naomie Harris. Don Cheadle is surprisingly effective as an eccentric local kingpin (originally from Detroit) who wants Brosnan to steal the priceless stone for him (His hilarious speech concerning the Mamas & Papas enters Christopher Walken territory).

Likeable 2005 Brett Ratner (“Red Dragon”, “Rush Hour”, “Tower Heist”) caper flick is essentially a modern version of Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief”, one of his more underrated, stylish and breezy films. Though it takes a long while to get anywhere, with cool-as-ice 007 Brosnan and sexy Hay…

Review: Major Dundee

The stubborn, somewhat egotistical cavalry officer of the title (Charlton Heston) must lead a ragtag bunch of criminals, African-American soldiers, and drunkards (hello Slim Pickens and Dub Taylor!) into battle with nasty apaches. James Coburn is Dundee’s trusted one-armed Indian scout, Richard Harris (having a helluva time, in one of his best-ever parts) is Heston’s antagonist; an Irish confederate prisoner who has served under Heston before and is doing so again, but much more bitterly. Michael Anderson Jr. is the token green soldier, and the film’s narrator, with Jim Hutton’s bumbling Lieutenant, also a little useless in battle. Warren Oates (well-cast) plays a weaselly deserter, R.G. Armstrong excellent as a gun-totin’ preacher who gets on the nerves of Sgt. Chillum (Ben Johnson) for intervening in a tense standoff with the African-American soldiers (led by stoic Brock Peters).

Somewhat unwieldy but entertaining 1965 Sam Peckinpah (“The Wild Bunch”, “Straw Dogs”) film is considere…

Review: The Little Mermaid

Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson) is the mermaid daughter of underwater ruler King Triton (voiced by Kenneth Mars). When the King hears that his daughter has finally caught herself a mate, he’s overjoyed. However, his joy turns to…well, the opposite of joy when he learns his daughter has become infatuated with a human prince named Eric, whom she met whilst on an unsanctioned visit to the water’s surface. Meanwhile, nefarious witch Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll) uses the rather na├»ve Ariel in her own plotting and scheming against King Triton. Rene Auberjonois, Buddy Hackett, Jason Marin, and Samuel E. Wright voice French chef Louis, seagull Scuttle, tropical fish Flounder, and Sebastian the Calypso-singing crab, respectively.

I think I first saw this 1989 Disney animated film in the 4th or 5th grade, but I had such little memory of it that seeing it in 2018, I was pretty much starting fresh. Co-directed and co-written by John Musker & Ron Clements (“Aladdin”, the rather lesser “Hercule…

Review: The Bad Sleep Well

A sprawling Japanese epic of corruption and revenge, as Nishi (Toshiro Mifune, in a slow-burning performance of concealed rage) marries into the wealthy family of crooked businessman Iwabuchi (Masayuki Mori) and becomes the man’s secretary, with the itent of bringing down Vice President Iwabuchi and the other executives (Takashi Shimura among them) he feels responsible for a past misdeed against his own family years ago (Nishi isn’t his real name, obviously).

Hardly among the best films from director/co-writer Akira Kurosawa (“The Seven Samurai”, “Rashomon”, “Sanjuro”, “Yojimbo”, “Throne of Blood”), this crime/revenge-drama from 1960 has tried to apply an epic scope to something frankly a little small fry. It results in a film with compelling moments stretched out amongst a whole lot of…not very much of interest at all. Perhaps Kurosawa shouldn’t have been an editor of his own work here. He seems too much in love with it all.

Early on we get a genuinely funny wedding speech by the bri…