Showing posts from June 10, 2018

Review: King Ralph

A mass electrocution during a group photo opportunity, sees almost the entire Royal family wiped out. The sole living heir turns out to be gauche American club singer Ralph Jones (John Goodman), and needless to say it’s quite an adjustment for not only him, but the Royal staff, too. Peter O’Toole plays Cedric Willingham, Ralph’s tutor in the ways of being a Royal. Camille Coduri plays the working class ‘exotic dancer’ Ralph falls in love with, something scheming Lord Percival Graves (John Hurt) has no hesitation in using to discredit him. James Villiers is the British PM, Leslie Phillips is a Royal butler, Richard Griffiths plays Duncan, who is the one to locate Ralph. Julian Glover and Joely Richardson (made up to look like Princess Diana) turn up briefly towards the end as King Gustav and Princess Anna of Finland. One of John Goodman’s rare lead roles, and whilst not a hit with critics, this 1991 fish-out-of-water comedy from writer-director David S. Ward (director of the m

Review: The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968)

Astonishing bungling of the British involvement in the Crimean War circa the 1850s, with all of the commanding officers seemingly barmy. Loony Lord Cardigan (Trevor Howard) and petty and blustery Lord Lucan (Harry Andrews) are bickering brothers always trying to one-up each other, whilst elderly Lord Raglan (Sir John Gielgud) is a senile old fool who doesn’t even seem to know who the enemy is! David Hemmings and Peter Bowles are two of the poor unfortunates having to serve under these nutbags, with Hemmings having a particularly bad time under the foolish and stuffy Cardigan. Vanessa Redgrave is Hemmings’ love interest. Insufferable, maddening, gobsmackingly dull 1968 Crimean war saga from director Tony Richardson ( “The Entertainer” , “Tom Jones” , “The Hotel New Hampshire” ), is not so much absurdist as entirely absurd . It’s like a Monty Python sketch (The line ‘A tiger?...In Africa?’ from “Meaning of Life” comes immediately to mind) stretched to over two hours and with a

Review: Gangs of New York

A tale set in New York in the 19 th century where there is much gang warfare (or turf war) particularly between the Nativists and the immigrants. Leading the Nativists is Bill ‘The Butcher’ Cutting (Daniel Day-Lewis), a brutal man, as his moniker suggests. Liam Neeson plays Priest Vallon, the Irish leader of the ‘Dead Rabbits’, who we see in the opening scene heading off to war against Bill and his Nativists. They are fighting for control of Manhattan’s Five Points area. After much clubbing, axing, knifing, and bloodshed, Bill’s Nativists win the war and the turf, leaving the young Amsterdam Vallon without a father, but a desire for revenge. Years later and Bill is now ruling the streets through brutality and intimidation, and Happy Jack (John C. Reilly), a coward who was once a member of the ‘Dead Rabbits’ (which no longer exist, thanks to Bill), is now a corrupt copper. Amsterdam Vallon (now played by Leonardo DiCaprio) comes back after spending much time away, and is looking to

Review: Godzilla: Final Wars

Monsters are on the warpath all over planet Earth, so an elite force of mutant soldiers (humans with martial arts skills and super-human strength) has been created to counter the attack. Earth is seemingly saved when an alien race known as Xillians make all the monsters disappear. They also kidnap Secretary-General Akira Takarada, and upon return, he suggests that the aliens are peaceful and want to form an alliance with Earth. But their true motives are anything but peaceful, and it is up to soldier Masahiro Matsuoka, a couple of hot chicks (Rei Kikukawa and Maki Mizuno), and gruff Captain Gordon (former NJPW pro-wrestler/MMA fighter Don Frye) to save the day by freeing Godzilla and have him engage in a Kaiju Smackdown with the other monsters the Xillians are unleashing on Earth (apparently Godzilla’s DNA is unable to be controlled by the Xillians). I was rather mild on this 2004 Godzilla flick, the final in the ‘Millennium Series’ when I first saw it. In fact, it was the fi

Review: Death of a President

This controversial 2006 Gabriel Range mockumentary certainly has a doozy for a central conceit: The assassination of US President George Dubya Bush (I know, but isn’t it more fun to spell it like that?) and the shocking consequences of this heinous act for all Americans. Unfortunately, the film’s one fascinating idea (a morbid ‘what if?’ scenario) is played out in the film in perhaps the least interesting and least convincing fashion. The film uses a fake ‘talking heads’ interview style as we listen to White House staff, law enforcement and potential assassins (Or their family members. Of course, one suspect is African-American, one is Middle-Eastern, one of the two also being a soldier) talking about the events leading up to and the aftermath of the incident as President Cheney (AKA The Penguin. Seriously, the guy talks out the side of his mouth) takes over and seems hell-bent on starting WWIII (by targeting Middle Easterners on little hard data and introducing the Patriot A

Review: The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) is hired by Brigid O’Shaughnessy (Mary Astor), a woman who changes stories like a parent changes dirty nappies, to find a priceless medieval bird statue. The physically imposing Sidney Greenstreet is Kasper ‘The Fat Man’ Gutman and Peter Lorre is gardenia-scented slimeball Joel Cairo, who also want to get their hands on the bird. The statue, that is. Gladys George plays the wife of Bogart’s partner (Jerome Cowan, whose character was investigating a lead on the case and is subsequently murdered), whom Bogey’s been bonking. Lee Patrick is solid in her scenes as Bogey’s loyal secretary and a young Elisha Cook Jr. plays the wannabe tough Gunsel who is forever being scolded by ‘real man’ Spade. 1941 John Huston ( “The Misfits” , “The Asphalt Jungle” , “The African Queen” ) adaptation of the classic Dashiell Hammett detective novel is a benchmark in the genre, and also marked the sometimes great (and admittedly sometimes... not ) director’s deb