Showing posts from September 23, 2018

Review: Emperor of the North Pole

Set in the Depression Era, with hoboes trying to hitch rides on trains. Sicko conductor named ‘Shack’ (Ernest Borgnine) doesn’t take kindly to free-loaders, and in fact, isn’t adverse to killing the mooching bastards. No one’s ever survived hitching a ride on his train, but veteran tramp Lee Marvin decides to take up the challenge, alongside green Keith Carradine, who isn’t really your usual hobo material. A familiar face, Charles Tyner, who next starred in Aldrich’s “The Longest Yard” , has a good role as one of Borgnine’s men, whilst amongst the hoboes are such legendary faces and names as Elisha Cook Jr. (from “The Maltese Falcon” to “Carny” ), Sid Haig ( “Coffy” , “House of 1,000 Corpses” ), stage veteran Liam Dunn, and Vic Tayback ( “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” ). Rough, tough, and thoroughly enjoyable 1973 Robert Aldrich ( “The Dirty Dozen” ) flick, made in his inimitable, masculine style (and yet, this is the same guy who made “Baby Jane” and “Hush…Hush, Sweet C

Review: Birth of the Dragon

Set in 1964, martial artist Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) hopes to teach Wing Chun Kung-Fu to westerners through his own school but also the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, reserved Shaolin monk and martial arts Master Wong Jack Man (Xia Yu) is also in San Francisco, supposedly trying to atone for nearly killing a man in a fight. The cocky and charismatic Mr. Lee, however believes Wong Jack Man is in town as a representative of those who believe he is committing a great sin by teaching Kung-Fu to westerners. Billy Magnussen plays Steve McKee, a student of Lee’s who becomes friendly with the quieter, milder Wong Jack Man and wants to see them fight. One of the lousiest biopics to come along in quite a while, this 2017 film from director George Nolfi (the excellent Matt Damon film “The Adjustment Bureau” ) is unlikely to satisfy anyone. Curiously released by WWE Studios and a subsidiary of Blumhouse, apparently the film went through significant changes in post-production due to poor

Review: The Cheshire Murders

A documentary detailing the 2007 home invasion and triple murder at a Cheshire, Connecticut home. Although family patriarch William Petit survives, wife Jennifer and their two daughters (11 and 17) were sexually assaulted and eventually murdered by career crim Steven Hayes and all-round creep Joshua Komisarjevsky. The film also points fingers at the police’s seemingly very late reaction to the escalating situation inside the family home. If there’s a true crime doco on TV, I’ll generally watch it, as was the case with this 2013 film from filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner about a home invasion that somehow turned into a triple homicide. This is a truly tragic, horrific crime committed against a seemingly wonderful, All-American family. “In Cold Blood” is referenced in the film and it’s certainly an apt comparison, even if you’re constantly changing your mind on who the Robert Blake guy is and who is playing the Scott Wilson character. Like that infamous film (based o

Review: Saved!

Jena Malone is a member of a Christian singing group at her Christian school who is unfortunately outcast when she falls pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, who is gay and whom she was trying to ‘convert’. Now she is able to view the clique headed by uncaring, unkind and seriously judgemental Mandy Moore for what they really are. She rallies with fellow outcasts Eva Amurri and Macaulay Culkin (as Moore’s handicapped brother, whom she treats like a leper) to dethrone Moore and open up everyone else’s eyes. Mary-Louise Parker is Malone’s clueless, somewhat spacey mother who is having a tentative affair with the school’s Pastor Skip (Martin Donovan, his best work in my view). Heather Matarazzo is one of the other girls (and is exactly the same as she always is), whilst Patrick Fugit is the Pastor’s kid, who likes Malone and doesn’t seem to be judgemental or sanctimonious at all. Somewhat watchable 2004 Brian Dannelly satire on religious fanaticism has an important message but relies o

Review: Mama’s Boy

Jon Heder is a selfish, high maintenance 29 year-old who still lives with his widowed mother (Diane Keaton- not my favourite actress) who is far more loving, giving, and self-sacrificing than the pretentious, purposely developmentally-challenged turd deserves. When mum starts dating motivational speaker Jeff Daniels (the kind of guy who won’t allow the word ‘can’t’ to be in his vocabulary), Heder is jealous, suspicious, grossly possessive, and downright petty, going about trying to split them up. This despite warnings by pretty aspiring singer Anna Faris (who writes anti-corporation songs) to grow up, and start living his own life. Naturally, he ignores this good advice (not to mention her obvious, if perplexing, interest in him), and sets about ruining his mother’s happiness. But then he actually digs up some real dirt on Daniels...Could Heder actually be right about him? Just what is this guy hiding? And who trusts motivational speakers, anyway? Old pro Eli Wallach (in his 90s an