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Showing posts from 2019

Review: Mum and Dad

A bizarre epidemic has parents across America suddenly and violently attacking their children. Nic Cage and Selma Blair play a pair of somewhat stressed out parents who suddenly have an urge to stalk and kill their kids, with Lance Henriksen appearing late as the grandfather.


Based on the cast and trailer for this 2018 piece of schlock, I knew it wasn’t going to be a good film. In fact, it looked like a deliberate attempt at making a bad film like “Plan 9 From Outer Space” or “The Room” (Which never works on purpose, so stop trying!). Having watched the film…yeah, it’s somehow even worse than I expected. If you’ve ever seen the Randy Quaid cannibal nuclear family movie “Parents” (it’s actually not bad), you might be ahead of the game with this wannabe cult flick’s plot. It’s basically “Parents” crossed with “The Crazies” or something. Writer-director Brian Taylor of Neveldine/Taylor infamy (“Crank”, “Crank: High Voltage”) ought to stick to making hyper-action movies with his buddy, be…

Review: The Penalty

Although I’m personally not terribly interested in the subject of lethal injection itself, this 2015 documentary from Will Francome and Mark Pizzey does at least focus on a few different points of view on the topic of capitol punishment. However, the downside in that is that the film ends up just a tad unfocussed at times. For the most part it focuses on lethal injection, but it also tries to cram in some other stuff, albeit stuff that was more interesting to me, personally. It’s ultimately not as strong as it could’ve been. It’s still worth a look if you’re interested in the subject matter, or if you want to see Florida State’s Attorney Angela Corey make herself look absolutely horrid for accusing a victim’s mother of being more concerned with publicity than in the proper punishment for her child’s murderer. You don’t get to do that to a person who has gone through such a tragedy.


The film is on its surest ground when dealing with wrongful convictions and the agonising wait involved …

Review: Into the Forest

Set in near-future Canada where two sisters (Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood) are left to fend for themselves on their property in the woods, while there appears to be a massive electricity outage. An outage that lasts months, with their supplies running out, and two sisters with different ideas on how to use said supplies. Oh look, Michael Eklund has just turned up on their property. He sure looks friendly. Callum Keith Rennie is the girls’ father, Wendy Crewson plays their mother in flashbacks, and Max Minghella plays a nice guy Page is dating who wants her to go away with him to Boston.


Good performances and nice photography don’t quite get this 2015 adaptation of the Jean Hegland near-future sci-fi/drama from writer-director Patricia Rozema (“When Night is Falling”, “Mansfield Park”) over the line. A lot of oestrogen in front of and behind the camera doesn’t add enough of a difference to counter the fact that this has been done to death. The main conflict meanwhile, is completely …

Review: The Amityville Murders

The story of the DeFeo family murders in a house later purchased by the Lutz family of hucksters who supposedly experienced some spooky stuff that inspired a book that was turned into the film “The Amityville Horror”. Diane Franklin and bullying Paul Ben-Victor are the volatile parents, John Robinson (looking completely different from his debut performance in “Elephant”) is their troubled son, whilst Burt Young and Lainie Kazan are the superfluous grandparents.


Although the Lutz family are shameless bullshit artists whom no one hopefully believes anymore (original author Jay Anson deserves some of the scorn too, admittedly), the 1979 film “The Amityville Horror” can at least claim to be a decent and iconic haunted/evil house movie. I’d go so far as to say that it’s a bit underrated, if entirely stupid. The house was scary as fuck, and the film worked OK for what it was. The sequels were almost entirely dreadful (I seem to recall the 3D one being tolerable at least), the remake not muc…

Review: First Man

The story of astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling), who is about to go down in history being the first man to walk on the moon, circa 1969. Among the famous characters, Corey Stoll plays Buzz Aldrin, Shea Whigham is Gus Grissom, Pablo Schreiber plays the infamous Jim Lovell, whilst Jason Clarke is Armstrong’s friend and neighbour, Ed White. Ciaran Hinds and Kyle Chandler play the NASA men on the ground, whilst Claire Foy plays Armstrong’s nervy wife.


Real-life Astronaut movies aren’t particularly my bag, the most popular ones like “The Right Stuff” and “Apollo 13” left me particularly cold. I won’t count “Hidden Figures” since it’s entirely about figures on the ground, but I liked that film nonetheless. I’ve gotta say I entered into this 2018 flick from director Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”, “La La Land”) and screenwriter Josh Singer (“The Fifth Estate”, “Spotlight”, “The Post”) rather trepidatiously, as the film didn’t especially set the box-office alight nor were critics that raptu…

Review: Tightrope

Clint Eastwood is macho detective Wes Block, a divorced father of two (Alison Eastwood and Jenny Beck) investigating some kinky serial homicides of hookers. He becomes involved with a feminist self-defence instructor named Beryl (Genevieve Bujold), but also has connections to several of the hookers. Intimate and rather lurid connections with them, in fact. Seems he and the killer have a thing or two in kinky common. Dan Hedaya plays a fellow cop, and Rebecca Perle plays an ice block-sucking hooker.


This 1984 kinky crime-thriller from writer-director Richard Tuggle (whose only other film credits were writing the terrific “Escape From Alcatraz”, and directing the Anthony Michael Hall flick “Out of Bounds”) is a sleazy bore with an uncomfortably cast Clint Eastwood at his most wooden in one of his worst films. Less “Dirty Harry” and more Z-grade 80s Charles Bronson thriller Cannon fodder, Eastwood is either unwilling or incapable of delivering the kind of 3-D performance required to sell…

Review: Creed II

Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) wins the title, and finds himself immediately targeted by a familiar and hated name: Drago. This time it’s up-and-coming Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of hardened Russian boxer Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Ivan of course being the terrible (shut up) killer of Adonis’ father Apollo Creed in “Rocky IV”. Adonis’ mentor (and Ivan Drago’s conqueror) Rocky Balboa (Sly Stallone), thinks it would be a grave (literally) mistake for Adonis to take the fight. Meanwhile, Adonis’ squeeze Bianca is pregnant with their first child.


I rather enjoyed the first “Creed”, it was easily the best “Rocky” film since “Rocky III”. However, that’s obviously faint praise at the end there. I don’t think it entirely managed to fit both the Rocky and Creed characters’ stories into a fully comfortable whole to where it was a really good film. Part of that is due to the almost complete lack of threat/conflict in the form of an opponent for Jordan’s Adonis Creed. The other figh…

Review: Who Took Johnny

Although it seems to be largely an American phenomenon, you’ve probably heard about how missing kids’ photos have adorned milk cartons over the years (A brilliant idea, whoever came up with it, by the way). This 2014 documentary by David Beilinson is about the first such missing kid, 12 year-old newspaper boy Johnny Gosch. Actually, it’s predominantly concerned with his loving, tirelessly crusading mother Noreen. I must admit I did not immediately warm to Noreen in this film. An early piece of news footage showing Noreen addressing the media in the hopes of getting information about the whereabouts of her son seemed forced and fake to me. It seemed like Noreen was something out of a corny made-for-TV movie. She was saying words that I just didn’t think a worried mother would ever really say. I was suspicious. Based on every other moment in the film with Noreen, I feel ashamed for questioning her for even a second. I don’t know what was going on in that press conference footage, but ot…

Review: Zapped!

Smart high school student Scott Baio gets involved in an explosion at the school science lab, which leaves him with newfound special powers: Telekinesis. Enter opportunistic best friend Willie Aames who sees dollar signs in his bud’s special powers. Felice Schachter plays a geeky girl clearly crushing on Baio, Heather Thomas is the school hottie, Scatman Crothers the alcoholic sports coach.


A pre-“Charles in Charge” team-up of Scott Baio and Willie ‘Bibleman’ Aames, idols for teen girls of the 80s, this 1982 film from Robert J. Rosenthal (whose only other directing effort was a previous comedy called “Malibu Beach”) and his co-writer Bruce Rubin (who wrote “Blood Rage” after this and…that’s about it) has a bit of a cult following. One of the few 80s sex comedies I’d yet to see, it proved to be a massive disappointment. It’s stupid, boring, and aside from some clearly post-production nudity, closer to one of those goofy Disney comedies Kurt Russell made early in his career (“The Comput…

Review: Beyond the Mat

Filmmaker and wrestling fan Barry Blaustein may have annoyed those in the industry by focussing on a lot of the negative aspects to wrestling with this 1999 documentary. However, as someone who watched WWF/E from 1986-1993 and 2006 to the present, I’ve gotta say, negative aspects or not, this is fascinating, sad, and pretty damn accurate. This review will mostly be from the POV of a wrestling fan, but hopefully it won’t be entirely useless to those non-fans strangely curious enough to click on a review of the film as well. I obviously wasn’t watching wrestling when this film was shot and released but I knew enough of the then-current talent to get by and certainly knew about the older wrestlers it focuses on. I had also seen “Wrestling With Shadows” and the awful “Wrestlemania IX”, as Bret Hart was my favourite wrestler at the time I’d stopped watching – and still is my all-time favourite today. Seriously, I’m still pissed about the ending to “WM IX” (I also disagree with the Screwjob…

Review: A Star is Born

A professionally successful but personally destructive country-rock musician (Bradley Cooper) hooks up with a star on the rise (Lady Gaga). They become romantically and creatively involved, but eventually Cooper’s demons get a hold of him. Sam Elliott plays Cooper’s no BS (much) older brother, Andrew Dice Clay is Gaga’s salt-of-the-earth dad, and Rafi Gavron plays a slick British manager who attaches himself to Gaga.


Bradley Cooper made his directorial debut and assumes lead actor and co-writer duties with this 2019 version of the classic story of a doomed relationship between two musicians. Despite much critical and commercial success, I think Cooper does a pretty terrible job both behind and in front of the camera and not much else goes right, either. Yeah, let the hate mail flow. It’s me against the world again, I guess.


Co-scripted by Will Fetters (“Remember Me”, “The Lucky One”) and Eric Roth (writer of the much better films “Forrest Gump” and “The Insider”), this is a horribly c…

Review: Willie Dynamite

Roscoe Orman is the title braggadocios pimp looking to outmuscle all other competition. Unfortunately, opposition from a fellow pimp (Roger Robinson) whose request of forming a syndicate of pimps is rejected by Willie, and the meddling of a former hooker turned ambitious social worker (Diana Sands) manage to make things tough for Willie. Also making it difficult for Willie? His loud and boastful overconfidence and cold-blooded nature towards the girls he makes money off. Willie’s kind of an idiot, at the end of the day. A somewhat violent and dangerous one sure, but an idiot all the same. Thalmus Rasulala plays the square Assistant DA who is the main squeeze of Sands, whilst Joyce Walker (as the poorly treated Pashen), Juanita Brown and Marcia McBroom are among the increasingly discontent working girls. Alan Weeks (“Truck Turner”) has a cameo as a photographer.


Having a more moralistic, dramatic side to it than a lot of other Blaxploitation films, this 1974 film tends to do better wit…

Review: Three the Hard Way

Racist evil bastard Jay Robinson and his mad scientist cohort Richard Angarola plot to rid the world of non-whites by poisoning the water supply in three major US states with a drug that only affects non-white citizens. When big ‘ol Jim Brown loses a friend, he calls in favours to his buddies Fred Williamson and Jim Kelly as they attempt to put a stop to the evil scheme before it’s too late.


There were quite a few blaxploitation team-ups over the years, during and after the era itself, but none of them managed to get all of the titans in one film: Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Richard Roundtree, Ron O’Neal, Isaac Hayes, Jim Brown, and Jim Kelly. “Original Gangstas” probably got closest, but even that one left a couple out. The other thing about these team-ups is that they rarely resulted in an overall good film. This 1974 action-drama from director Gordon Parks Jr. (“Superfly”) is a near-miss as most tended to be.


Although the music score by Richard Tufo (something called “Demented”, co…