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Showing posts from May 13, 2018

Review: Journey to the West: The Demons Strike Back

Monk Tang (Kris Wu) is back with companions Pigsy (Yang Yiwei), Sandy (Mengke Bateer), and the increasingly unrestrained Monkey King (Lin Gengxin, aka Kenny Lin). Fighting demons and occasionally performing for necessities they end up at a kingdom presided over by a tempestuous and frankly juvenile King (Bao Beier). After the Monkey King screws up their latest performance before the tantrum-throwing ruler, they are banished from the Kingdom. However, all is not as it seems with the child-like King. Despite meeting her end in the first film, Shu Qi appears briefly to reprise her role as Monk Tang’s lady love in fantasy/dream sequences.


Based on the same tale that gave us the cult Japanese TV series “Monkey”, the Jackie Chan-Jet Li flick “The Forbidden Kingdom”, and of course the big-screen “Monkey Magic”, the 2013 “Journey to the West” was certainly nothing new. However, despite not being a fan of the slapstick-y “Monkey” TV series, “Journey to the West” actually worked for me, largely…

Review: The Rainmaker

Matt Damon is Rudy, a young Tennessee lawyer just recently out of Law School and currently financially struggling and sleeping in his car. He gets hired by a shonky, small Law practice run by the extremely dubious ‘Bruiser’ (Mickey Rourke, beginning his slow and sadly rather brief comeback), and where most of the work is done by Deck (Danny DeVito- ingratiatingly unscrupulous), a paralegal who hasn’t even passed the bar exam, despite multiple attempts (Rudy is currently studying for it himself). What the crafty Deck lacks in say, a licence, he makes up for in knowing all the tricks of the (slimy) trade. Whilst ‘Bruiser’ (whose last name isn’t Shyster, but might as well be) quickly flies to some kind of escape island from the feds, Deck and Rudy decide it’s probably best if they open their own little office. Whilst Deck is content to make the rounds at hospitals to pick up clients, Rudy has a few clients to start on; There’s Miss Birdie (Teresa Wright), the sweet but stubborn old lady …

Review: Una

As a 13 year-old, the title character had her innocence taken away by a much older man named Ray (Ben Mendelsohn). They planned to run away together, but when Ray walked out one night, Una worried that she’d been abandoned and was eventually found by the police and returned home. An arrest and court proceeding followed, with Ray sentenced to four years prison. Years later, the adult Una (now played by Rooney Mara) has never gotten over the experience, still lives with her mother (Tara Fitzgerald) and still harbours very confused and conflicted feelings towards her abuser. Ray has served jail time, moved on, changed his name, and remarried. He now works at a big manufacturing plant. Una sees his name and photograph in a newspaper, and decides to show up at the warehouse he works at. Needless to say, Ray is most definitely not pleased to see his dirty little secret from the past resurface.


You’d think stories about paedophilia wouldn’t lend themselves much to nuance, yet this 2017 big-s…

Review: 88 Minutes

Al Pacino is Dr. Jack Gramm, and being called Doctor apparently means he can be a forensic psychiatrist, college professor, and FBI profiler all at the same time. Gramm’s testimony was largely responsible for the conviction of possible killer Neal McDonough, who claims he’s innocent, but is about to be executed. And then the killings start up, strangely familiar killings. The work of a copycat? Or did Jack really get it wrong? Either way, McDonough gets a stay of execution, and Gramm gets 88 minutes to live, thanks to some creepy threatening phone calls, and he must race to find out what the hell is going on before the voice on the phone makes good on those threats. Furthermore, given that the first victim was a student of Jack’s, he’s wanted for questioning by the coppers, too! Alicia Witt is Gramm’s smitten teacher’s assistant (with a jealous and violent ex), Amy Brenneman his lesbian (woo-hoo!) assistant/receptionist, and William Forsythe his cop buddy, who tries to give him as muc…

Review: That’s What I Am

Nostalgic coming-of-age drama set in the sixties with Chase Ellison playing a 12 year-old high school student just half a rung ahead of the nerds and misfits in the school social standings. Ellison is preoccupied with trying to win the affections of the pretty and popular Mary Clear (Mia Rose Frampton, yes she’s Peter’s kid), who isn’t nearly as unattainable as she first appears (i.e. Ellison’s just about the only kid she hasn’t taken for a pre-teen twirl). His favourite teacher is English teacher Mr. Simon (Ed Harris), a widowed, bowtie sporting man who assigns Ellison the task of teaming up with the school’s biggest leper on a writing assignment. That leper would be hulking, big-eared, red-haired Stanley, AKA ‘Big G’ (Alexander Walters). Ellison, kind of an average kid at best, is unhappy with this potentially humiliating pairing, but Mr. Simon says he believes Ellison has what it takes to be a good writer, and so he reluctantly approaches the social pariah, who turns out to be a su…

Review: Someone to Watch Over Me

Married, newly appointed police detective Tom Berenger is assigned to protect sophisticated socialite Mimi Rogers, eyewitness to a murder committed by hulking Andreas Katsulas, until she can testify against him in court. That is, when they actually catch and arrest the guy. It’s an initially frosty relationship given Rogers’ wilfulness, but before long obvious sparks start to fly. Daniel Hugh Kelly and Jerry Orbach play fellow cops, Mark Moses plays ‘guy who gets murdered in the opening sequence’, Lorraine Bracco is Berenger’s loving wife, and John Rubenstein plays Rogers’ rich associate who seems rather protective of her and jealous of Berenger.


Before “The Bodyguard”, there was…the movie it ripped off. I’m being a bit harsh, as both that film and this 1987 glossy romance/thriller from Ridley Scott (“Alien”, “Legend”, “Gladiator”, “The Martian”) are highly watchable genre efforts. The former has by far the better soundtrack and a better mystery, this one’s got by far the better direc…