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Wrong Turn (2003)
Not as original as I would have liked, but still a good slant
In many ways it was the same old, same old as we have seen several times before and seems just an updated version of TCM, but it had more shock and suspense to it somehow.
The bunch of unexpected victims were all played believably by the respective actors and they all managed to portray the "scared but determined to get away" attitude, that we expect from this kind of genre, admirably.
All in all a good movie to watch if you like this kind of genre and you want to be on the edge of your seat and wanting a few jumps and shocks. My only criticism is that because it's a well used subject line there were several scenes I found a little too predictable, although it didn't take way from the appreciation of them.
Cab to Canada (1998)
Wonderful acting by a true star
After a Katherine Eure (Maureen O'Hara) goes to the funeral of a friend she realizes that life is too short to let it slip away and decides to hire a cab to take her to places that hold special memories for her.
She is a woman of substance, elegance and flair but she also has a sense of adventure that people a third of her age will never know. This was initially obvious with the taxi Driver, Mike Donahue (Jason Beghe), who has no wish to know about this side of life and just does his job. The movie highlights the gap between the generations and how the social graces of yesteryear and modern society values have become worlds apart.
As the pair journey through America on her ultimate goal of Canada the initial differences in opinions and social standing dissipate and an understanding of each other and valuable lessons are learned by each one. A lecture by Mike on how dreams and memories are not of consequence when you live for the moment in the real world showed us how, in reality, these things are what are truly important and can give us an inner peace and ability to cope with what goes on around us. The value of true friendship is the most important lesson to be learned here and how, no matter what, they are always there for each other through thick and thin.
There is a story within a story here, and the life of Mike's son, Bobby, and the tug of love he feels between his non-attentive mother, his father and his girlfriend and the feelings of abandonment and being torn are very well acted out by a young but already accomplished Haley Joel Osment.
Maureen O'Hara still has the class she has always had and is one very amazing lady and it was wonderful to see her with Efram Zimbalist Jr, bringing back memories of the golden era of Hollywood. My only complaint I have is that the ending made it so obvious it was a TV Movie and suddenly became like any standard feel-good fare.
All in all though, great cast, good movie (especially since it was based on an amazing factual tale), and very enjoyable.
The Journey (1959)
Yul Brynner at his best.
Set in Hungary in November 1956, this is the story of a group of foreign nationals who were trying to leave the country at the time of the Uprising.
Once the airport is closed, the titular journey begins on a bus taking them to Austria. As would be obvious, they are stopped on their way which is where they come up against the almost faultless Yul Brynner whose military power as a Red Army Major was marked with loneliness, his internal struggle between right and wrong, his search for the truth and his need to feel emotions for other human beings. He was saddened by the fact that his job had alienated him from his friends and enemies alike and he yearned for social contact.
Robert Morley plays the quintessential stiff upper-lipped Englishman who, no matter how serious the role, manages to maintain an almost light-hearted logical outlook on life while Jason Robards has a stunning movie debut which enforces the reason why he had so many roles throughout his career. Deborah Kerr, as the leading lady, exhibits the grace and femininity we have come to associate with her yet manages to bring over the strength and resolve required for her character.
The film deals with a very tempestuous time in European history but it never ceases to remind us that there is good in all of us and you can never completely judge a book by the cover. Fabulous scriptwriting ensures that for all the seriousness of the subject there can still be great one-liners and comedic instances that add to, rather than detract from the movie. The chemistry in the cat and mouse game between Kerr and Brynner makes you understand why they appeared in more than the one film together.
All in all, a thoroughly engrossing movie which I would definitely watch again. 8/10
The Transporter (2002)
Good start......but then what?
After the first 10 minutes I was thinking to myself this is going to be excellent. After the 11th minute I realized I was sadly mistaken and it was just the same old, same old action thing.
The title character played by Jason Statham was just so sharp when he first appeared and he was one I thought I could really take an interest in as he seemed so different. Wrong again!! That illusion lasted the same length as it did for me to come to my first conclusion.
Qi Shu was actually quite able in her role as Lai, the hard done to female who get's associated with our hero, but the other characters were just the usual types that you would expect to inhabit this kind of movie.
The Transporter had such promise if the character had been fully utilized instead of being turned into a Michael Dudikoff wannabe and the storyline actually been given some substance, but instead I would consign it to the shelf along with the likes of Missing in Action, Bloodsport and Under Siege. 3/10
Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
Anyone going into this movie looking for a blood curdling shocker is barking up the wrong tree here. The title of the movie should tell you that. On the other hand, if you want to feel the tears run down your cheeks from incredulous laughter and your throat get sore with the groaning at the awful sight that's facing you, then maybe you will be able to suffer it.
Rock star wannabes who maybe should have found out what music is first, a dwarf Nazi zombie, a re-incarnated Adolf Hitler, a few dim bimbos, terrible audio and visual and you have everything you could possibly want!
Great lines, including a girl picking up her boyfriend's head and asking if he's OK are priceless. I take my hat off to the scriptwriter for having the front to write this stuff down.
Anyway people, it's one you have to take as you find and enjoy for the rubbish that it is. It is bad horror at it's finest.
Young Warriors (1983)
It was just pants with holes in them!
Where do I begin as I really don't know. I came out of this film as blindly as I went into it.
First we have comedy (I think that's what it was meant to be), then we have heinous crimes, then we have love and then vigilanteism. As I haven't a clue as to what genre this is really meant to be I've had to refer to the film page here to tell me. It says it's a crime/action. OK, crime I can go with as it was a crime to release it but where is the action? I've seen more action in a documentary about pot plants!
The fact that this sorry tale enlisted the help of Ernest Borgnine and Richard Roundtree made it even more painful to watch and knowing they were in it was the only reason I looked at it to start with. I came out of it almost bereft and spent the whole time looking for some decent acting.
Someone ought to tell the scriptwriter that you cannot put horrendous crime, no matter how badly acted, into what can only be classed as a farcical romp into the world of crime-fighting by young guys who fancy themselves as Charles Bronson wannabes.
My lasting impression on this will be my own disbelief at how I managed to sit through this. (1/10)
Calendar Girls (2003)
Sisters are Doing It For Themselves!
The beauty of this masterpiece is that it's not only the simple, delightful and true story of middle aged women showing that they have the courage to step out and do something remarkable and ground-breaking, but also they could make it into a huge success.
This tale of dedication to a cause illustrates the need by these women to achieve a charitable goal and prove to themselves that they are not `past it'. Brought to us by some of the most seasoned British actors and actresses, under the polished direction of Nigel Cole, it covers every emotion from grief to the joy of success and all are performed with such conviction by the amazing cast. Although Helen Mirren has the largest part, I do not believe that there were any `leads' within the female characters as such and that the support came from the male characters who had to stand by and watch their wives/mothers go from strength to strength in their battle to achieve their aim of producing a calendar for the W.I.
A few memorable one-liners, a remarkable cast, a beautiful back-drop and many memorable moments make this film one to watch again and again and again.
Dark, sinister but nonetheless gripping
Under the direction of Joel Schumacher this is a powerful insight into the extreme actions sometimes used in the porn industry and the illegal snuff movie legends.
Nicholas Cage plays the private detective and family man who gets caught up in trying to find out the source of an 8mm film found by an old woman after her husband's death. After feeling the effects of the horror that has just faced him whilst watching it, he takes on the quest to find out the awful truth. His journey through Cleveland and New York to undercover the awful truth brings him face to face with the mother of the victim played powerfully and emotionally by Jenny Powell and he struggles to confront the pain and the anguish involved.
He hooks up with a sleazy musician who works in a sex shop (Joaquin Phoenix) and relies on his inside knowledge to guide him to the people involved in the industry. His naivete on these issues is apparent but he is very rapidly educated as he moves through the scenes going deeper and deeper into the mire. There are several Phoenix quotes that are powerful in their exchanges but the one that remains is `There's things that you see but you cannot see, and they get in your head and they stay there.' and that is such a fact of life.
James Gandolfini is the scumbag who exploits girls who want to be in movies and abuses them for his own financial and sick gain. He's teamed up with `Double Velvet' and together they are the lowest of the low, neither showing any conscience or remorse about their actions. Their association with a masked abuser who appears in the films is something they are proud of, to the disgust of those who come into contact with them.
I found the performances very powerful in a film that doesn't revolve so much around the seediness of what goes on in this scene, but more the depraved personalities of the people involved. The dark and sinister atmosphere coupled with a very intriguing Indian musical score adds much to the tension.. The film is essentially a crime drama/thriller and I think the way that it has been depicted was an effort to give the story an original slant and one that would be talked about. Yes it could be said that it is a way to expose what is deemed by many to be totally unacceptable, ie S&M, but in the end there is a far more simple moral to the tale and that is a crime is there to be paid for one way or another.
The Rare Breed (1966)
What I watched of this film I watched with dismay. I don't think Jimmy Stewart really did himself any favours and we all know he was capable of so much more, but it wasn't his part that I found so painful but Brian Keith as Bowen the supposed Scotsman. His accent was amazing but definitely not Scots, his wig and moustache (not forgetting the eyebrows) were so obviously false and as for the full highland dress - well!. I thought Bowen was a Welsh name too? The storyline about incorporating a new line of cattle was OK and so was everything else but I just felt it could all have been done so much better.
So This Is Romance? (1997)
A Very British Movie!!!
I loved this film. It tells the story of a single 36 year old, Mike (Reece Dinsdale) and his constant efforts to find that elusive thing called romance. He tries too hard each time as he doesn't really have a clue about the opposite sex, or feelings, or have any grasp of the downside of jumping in at the deep end. His best mate (John Hannah) is a lot more laid back, and surprise, surprise, he gets through without too many hiccups which must be pretty sickening from Mike's point of view.
The other story that is intertwined is the story of Mike's dad and long lost mum. Now that is true romance and everything that it is - the parts were brilliantly played by seasoned actors Frank Finlay and Susannah York.
Every role was played well and the thoughts and dialogue were well scripted and funny. I doubt if there is anyone who can truly say they have never been in one of these romantic predicaments.
I must just add another observation though about the previous comment. How is this film too English? I think all concerned would far prefer it to be too British (there is a difference) which I don't see as a problem and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. We have a different way of life and different attitudes but as long as people appreciate that then enjoyment of the film shouldn't be hampered. I haven't seen Swingers yet but I will look out for it to do a British comparison!
Pushing Tin (1999)
Nice film, shame about the ending!
I lived in hope as it started so well with ATC workers at their best in and out of the workplace when the arrival of Russell (Billie Bob Thornton) put a spanner in the works between him and hotshot Nick (John Cusack). Competition ensued and the one-upmanship rivalry hotted up due to personal differences during and outwith working time.
Billie Bob Thornton and John Cusack acted their socks off to make their characters credible and entertaining, but thumbs down to Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett as the respective wives - their talents were wasted.
The main portion of the film was very entertaining and you could follow the ups and downs easily and enjoyably but then what happened? Did the writer get bored or what as it suddenly became a completely different kind of film and what was a drama (although I wouldn't describe it as a comedy drama)became what seemed like a daytime TV movie romance.
Hav Plenty (1997)
I was very pleasantly surprised by this low budget comedy. The story centres around a homeless writer, Lee Plenty (Christopher Scott Cherot - who did everything on this movie to prove his up-coming talent) who joins a friend and her family for New Year, and the trials and tribulations which befall him during his stay. These trials mainly involve getting into various unwanted and unplanned situations with several women. The movie tells a story of love through modern day class barriers and the will Lee Plenty had to achieve his aim (publishing a book). As it turned out everything that happened to him gave him all the material he needed.
I found the film light and easy to watch, although not so much the romantic comedy which it was advertised as. The entertainment was in wondering what was going to happen to Lee next to prevent him leaving as he was constantly planning. I must admit though that the ending was pretty predictable. I'm looking forward to what Cherot will treat us to next.
Freedom Strike (1998)
I'm sorry, I thought it was an actioner!
As a bit of a Michael Dudikoff fan I sat down to watch one of his good old-fashioned actioners - I'm still waiting.
The film is based around a group of US commandos trying to get rid of a bunch of Syrian terrorists who have taken over a nuclear reactor. Maddie Reese (Felicity Waterman) was an English member of the commando unit and of course she became romantically involved with Tom Dickson (Dudikoff). I must ask since when have the Brits had female SAS members - as far as I know if they are ever needed they are got from other sources. Even if they did I can pretty much guarantee they wouldn't be as wet as Maddie Reese. I would also think that Tom Dickson would be a little more responsible in his position - or have I lost the plot?! I know there is always the romantic angle in these films as it helps provide the feelgood factor, but does it have to be throughout, especially when there's more important things to be taken into consideration - like nuclear warfare!
The signing of the treaty on the US aircraft carrier intrigued me. The "sacred pen" as carried by one of the supposed TV news crew - are there were no security checks to find out who or what goes on board one of these ships, especially with the calibre of people that was on it. Mind you if there was, I suppose there would be no story.
I could go on, but when it got to "inner body bomb defusion" in order to safely remove a bullet I gave up on the action drama movie bit and enjoyed it for the comedy it actually was.
By the way, would a news reporter really say "Downtown Damascus"??
This Is My Father (1998)
It could be true!
I watched in awe at the knowledge and understanding that was portrayed by the Quinns in such a tragic love story. Aidian Quinn was exceptional in an extremely difficult role but so were every member of the cast. It is a tale of love that could never be recognised by an overbearing mother, church and community and the fact that their painful circumstances were hushed up from then until the present day. The father's son (James Caan) stirring up the 'put to rest' memories by his arrival from the US along with his nephew. What made me most sad about this marvellous film was that it is, in essence' a true story, not just from Ireland, but Scotland as well. I, myself, had a relative in the islands discommunicated from the church and the family because she made the error of falling pregnant in the 50s.
Hats off to everyone involved in this film. It certainly made me think.