Showing posts from February 11, 2018

Review: The Yakuza

The title comes from the Japanese mafia organisation with a strict, unbending code of honour, and into this murky and violent world comes weary American PI Robert Mitchum, whose old buddy Brian Keith (both were part of the occupied forces after WWII) asks him to rescue his daughter, kidnapped by the Yakuza (after a foolish, botched gun-running deal that doesn’t convince) Mitchum in turn seeks the help of a retired Yakuza, Tanaka Ken (Ken Takakura), who owes Mitchum a debt after he saved two members of the man’s family, one of whom (Kishi Keiko) Mitchum even had a dalliance with. But Ken (or Tanaka if you will) is a tad reluctant, despite owing Mitchum a great debt. You see, he is a proud man, and the fact that his family put him (as he sees it) in a position whereby he owes someone a debt, is a hit to his pride. Herb Edelman has a terrific supporting role as another old war buddy who stayed behind, has led a peaceful life as a teacher, and has definitely become accustomed to the su

Review: Sinister 2

Shannyn Sossamon and her two boys (Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan) flee from her abusive husband and end up in an old farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere. They’re soon visited by former sheriff’s deputy James Ransone, still affected by the events of the first film. Now a lowly P.I., he warns Sossamon that the property needs to be burned down as it is afflicted with the same boogeyman/mass murder curse as the house from the previous film. Meanwhile, one of Sossamon’s boys has been interacting with a small band of child ghosts who want him to watch their little home movie collection. Yeah, that’s not a good idea, kid. The original “Sinister” for me was one of the better horror films of the last decade or so, but this 2015 follow-up from director Ciaran Foy is a cheap, lousy knock-off. I knew I was in trouble from the lame opening scene where the deputy from the first film (played by James Ransone) seeks confession with a priest (played by John Beasley) to set up th

Review: With Honours

Well-meaning, but singularly-focused Harvard Law student Brendan Fraser has a First World problem when his computer crashes right after having finally completed his thesis that the majority of his grade will depend upon. Worse, his one and only hard copy somehow ends up in the possession of a cantankerous homeless man (played by Joe Pesci) currently occupying the basement to one of the University buildings. Fraser catches the man, named Simon just as he’s starting to use the paper in the furnace to keep himself warm at night. Ever the opportunist, Simon agrees to give the kid one piece of paper for every favour he does him. And boy is Simon gonna milk this for all it’s worth. Moira Kelly, Patrick Dempsey, and a surly Josh Hamilton play Fraser’s roommates, whilst Gore Vidal turns up as a condescending, arrogant professor, in a couple of cornball scenes. I remember seeing this 1994 Alek Keshishian (one of his few feature film gigs, he’s best-known as a music video guy and direc

Review: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

1991, and a plague has ridden the Earth of cats and dogs, so man has decided to domesticate the ape instead. This domestication has resulted in apes merely becoming slaves to humans. Circus owner Armando (Ricardo Montalban) and the talking ape son of Dr. Cornelius and Dr. Zira whom he has kept hidden for years are eventually exposed, leading to tragedy. The now grown ape calls himself Caesar (Roddy McDowall), and he becomes enraged at the brutality, cruelty, and hatred on display by humans towards his kind. So, quietly seething…Caesar plots. Don Murray plays the evil, hateful Governor, with Severn Darden and Hari Rhodes his underlings of wildly different dispositions. Natalie Trundy (previously a mutant in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” , and a well-meaning human in “Escape From the Planet of the Apes” ) plays a female chimp here. Just as with re-visiting the James Bond series recently, I have found myself changing my view on at least one of the films in the “Apes” cycle.

Review: The Ladykillers

A gang of crooks led by a Southern sophisticate fond of purple prose (Tom Hanks), masquerade as musicians and rent a room in the basement of crotchety old church lady Mrs. Munson (Irma P. Hall). Here they will pretend to be playing music whilst they are actually digging their way to a riverboat casino full of cash. Marlon Wayans plays Gawain, the ‘hippity-hop’ (as Mrs. Munson calls it- yes, this is the film I stole the phrase from) bane of cranky old Mrs. Munson’s existence. J.K. Simmons is the dopey explosives expert named Garth Pancake. Ryan Hurst and Tzi Ma round out the gang of crooks as lunk-head failed jock Lump, and a deadpan chain-smoker called The General. 2004 misfire from the Coen Brothers (the overrated “Fargo” and underrated “Big Lebowski” ) dares to remake the much-loved (myself included) Ealing comedy from 1955. By re-imagining it in the U.S. South, including far too many four-letter words (almost entirely delivered by Wayans, who admittedly made me chuckle mo