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Showing posts from November 25, 2018

Review: Escape From Alcatraz

Based on true events, Clint Eastwood plays Frank Morris, a hardened con sent to the supposedly inescapable Alcatraz prison. Having already escaped several other prisons, Morris immediately sets about doing the same at The Rock. Patrick McGoohan plays the humourless, vindictive prison warden, Fred Ward plays one of Morris’ fellow would-be escapees, Roberts Blossom and Paul Benjamin play prisoners (the former an avid painter, the latter the prison librarian), and Bruce M. Fischer is the resident prison bully/rapist.


Before Stephen King wrote Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption let alone a film was made of it, director Don Siegel (“Invasion of the Body Snatchers”, “Dirty Harry”) and screenwriter Richard Tuggle (writer-director of one of Clint Eastwood’s worst, “Tightrope”) gave us this quite similar 1979 prison movie. In my view, it’s the far superior film. This film is also based on a book (by J. Campbell Bruce), but also a real-life incident of a prison escape at the supposedly …

Review: Berlin Syndrome

Teresa Palmer stars as an Australian photojournalist in Berlin who makes fast company with Max Riemelt, and well, one thing leads to another leading to the next morning. So what of the next morning? Well, funny thing…Palmer has a little trouble…sort of kinda maybe leaving Riemelt’s apartment. He has left for his day job as a teacher, and left the door locked. When he returns he acts like it’s no big deal, but the same thing keeps happening and it’s not long before Palmer realises she’s been held prisoner by a disturbed young man. And yet…she still seems somewhat drawn to the guy (hence the clever title).


Although decently performed, Aussie director Cate Shortland (“Somersault”, one of those films that received a lot of critical love during a dreary period in Aussie cinema) gives us much ado about nothing with this kidnap thriller from 2017. It’s like a more sexual “Captivity”, and although I’m the only person who didn’t hate that ‘torture porn’ film, I think this is the lesser of the …

Review: Undertow (2004)

Southern-Gothic drama/thriller involves well-meaning Dad Dermot Mulroney struggling to raise his two kids, with eldest Jamie Bell a trouble-maker, and youngest Devon Alan a weird little kid who is constantly getting sick from ingesting all manner of unsavoury things. Estranged uncle Josh Lucas turns up one day, an ex-con whose intentions may not be entirely honourable, as he appears to be searching for something in the house. Tragedy strikes, and the two boys find themselves fleeing danger, as they attempt to head for their grandparents’ place. Eddie Rouse and Patrice Johnson are affecting as members of a slightly quirky, struggling African-American family the boys meet, and Shiri Appleby plays a street urchin-type.


Generally well-made, well-acted, and entirely watchable David Gordon Green (“All the Real Girls”, “Pineapple Express”) Southern Gothic flick unfortunately lost me once I realised I was watching little more than a mixture of “Night of the Hunter” and the underrated “Frailty…

Review: One-Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine

Oddball martial arts outing set in China in 1730, with Kam Kang playing a somewhat elderly, blind assassin for the Manchus, who wields the title decapitating device, and is in search for the one-armed boxer, a sympathiser of the dethroned Ching dynasty, who apparently killed two of the blind man’s disciples. After dispatching every one-armed boxer he comes across (A geriatric blind man fighting a one-armed man? Sounds like a bad joke, doesn’t it?), the blind assassin’s mission brings him to a martial arts tournament fronted by the Eagle Claw Clan, and featuring an array of bizarre contestants, as well as a one-armed boxer named Master Yu (Jimmy Wang Yu), who is indeed the man being sought.


Without question the most bizarre martial arts movie I’ve ever seen (and boy, have I seen some weird ones), this wild, violent, absolutely marvellously barmy 1975 Jimmy Wang Yu (also the screenwriter and star) film is unforgettable stuff. Not for everyone, and I found Wang’s One-Armed Boxer far less…

Review: Taking Lives

A serial killer in Montreal appears to be stealing victims’ identities, and for some oddball reason the local cops are ill-equipped to handle the case on their own, so Tcheky Karyo calls in his friend Angelina Jolie, an FBI agent who specialises in these kinds of cases (her methods are a little eccentric even for this kind of character- lying in an empty grave etc.) Olivier Martinez and Jean-Hughes Anglade play the other investigating cops, the former a cranky chauvinist pig, the latter less so. Ethan Hawke is the frightened witness to one of the crimes (now fearing his own demise), who uses his skills as an artist (he owns a gallery) to draw the killer’s face, and whom Jolie is attracted to. Kiefer Sutherland turns up intermittently as numero uno suspect (apparently a client of Hawke’s), and Gena Rowlands is terrific as an elderly woman who thinks her estranged son, supposedly one of the victims, is in fact not dead and is believed to be a dangerous person. Oh, did I mention he was o…