Sunday, 30 January 2011

Joysticks (1983)

Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this kind of movie, or maybe it's because I never watched it back in the early 80's but I couldn't get into it at all.

This film is absolute garbage and looks like it was made in about a week to try and capitalise on the success of the other more successful teen sex comedies of the early 80's, Screwballs, Porky's, The Last American Virgin and alike. In fact, I blame the Lemon Popsicle franchise for all this. Having said that, this is a teen sex comedy. What was I expecting to find?

I fully understand that the makers of the film knew it was going to be a piece of trash and that was the intention from the outset, but it did not do a thing for me. I love bad cinema and some of my favourite rewatchable films are crap like Street Trash, Aerobicide, The Pit, The Demons of Ludlow etc. so trust me, I know how to enjoy bad, bad films with a huge smile on my face.

I'm going to give this film a fair crack again in the future and not watch it when i'm expecting a laugh out loud comedy. I'll make sure to screen it with friends with lots of alcohol flowing.

The Longest Yard (1974)

One of my absolute favourites from the 70's. My wife and I have the UK quad poster on the wall in our house but she'd ever actually seen the film so I thought it was a great time to revisit it, seeing as though i've been nailing that decade lately.

It hadn't aged a bit, in fact it only gets better with each viewing. Unlike the awful remakes where they cast wrestlers and big name Hollywood stars as the guards and inmates, this one casts real tough looking men and it just works. Obviously the film needs a few main stars to carry it's weight but I thought the casting choices were spot on. Reynolds is fantastic as the quarterback Paul Crewe, and the guards are all mean as hell.

I love this film and if you haven't seen it, please correct that.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Blue Valentine (2010)

This film just knocked me right off my feet. I'm not sure what I was expecting going into it. I hadn't seen the trailer and I knew very little about the plot, all I knew was that Ryan Gosling was in it whom I absolutely love, he's such an underrated actor.

This film is so brutal and very emotional. I can't say that i'm going to revisit it very often as it's a difficult watch, but it's also one that had a very emotional impact on me. It's basically a love story, I don't want to spoil anything more than that.

It's weird that in the film there is a scene where they mourn the loss of their pet dog, and after the film that's the same feeling I got back from this experience. Weird I know but it's true.

There are some parts of this movie that remind me of Once, another great love story. None more so than the scene in which Ryan Gosling's character is playing the Ukulele to Michelle Williams while singing "You Always Hurt the Ones You Love". Damn, that scene hit me harder than any other.

Go see this film! It's fantastic. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

Horton Hears A Who! (2008)

I was in the mood for a harmless family fun animated film and this seemed to tick all the boxes. It does exactly what it says on the tin really, it's nothing special but for what I was expecting and hoping for it was perfect. Don't get me wrong it's no Ice Age and definitely no Pixar masterpiece but I don't think it tries to be. One thing that bothered me was the look of the Whos of Whoville appear to have been based on The Cat in the Hat, and I didn't care too much for that.

Pretty funny in parts and on the whole a pretty good family film that kept me entertained throughout.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Phantasm (1979)

"You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die."

As a kid the horror genre was by far my favourite genre, so my refusal to screen this one is a complete mystery to me. I've had it for years on VHS and people have always told me how creepy it is but it's just never appealed to me. Well all I can say is that my childhood was never complete having skipped it.

As the lead character I doubt you could find a much worser actor than Michael Baldwin, he was dreadful. I tried so hard to like him but he's just got one of those annoying faces that it became unbearable to watch him in the end. I think Sammy Snyders could have done a much better job here. To be honest the acting in general is pretty average at best but I guess that's part of it's charm. I feel the same way about this film as I do with something like House (1986), except this one is much more creepier.
I have to admit it, The Tall Man did give me a few minor jumps as did the little ewok/troll monsters that kept popping up. "Booooooyyy!"

The score for this film is nothing short of spectacular too. From the opening credits (there weren't any) to the end scene, the music was spot on for setting the mood and tempo of the film, very eerie.

Overall this film was pretty great and i'm glad I finally had a chance to check it out. It's just a shame that I waited this long because I reckon if i'd have screened it at the age of 11 when I had my horror phase, i'd have loved it even more.

Straight Time (1978)

"Please God, don't let him get caught."

Straight Time is the story of Max Dembo (Dustin Hoffman), a former burglar who has just served 6 years in prison and now released on parole. All he wants to do is go straight, get a real job and earn some dignity but his parole officer Earl (M. Emmet Walsh) has other ideas. After becoming increasingly frustrated Max soon gets caught up in all sorts of trouble and it's not too long before he returns to a life of crime.

This film has an unbleievable cast. You have Dustin Hoffman as the lead with Gary Busey and Harry Dean Stanton as his friends. You then have Kathy Bates as a (very slim) wife of Gary Busey's character Willy and Jake Busey playing the on screen (as well as off) son as well. As if that wasn't enough you even get M. Emmet Walsh playing the psychotic parole officer. It's just a fantastic line-up of top draw hollywood actors.

My favourite scene from the entire movie involves Max and his parole officer in the car.
Earl cracks down on him at every opportunity and it's not long before he's packed Max back off to jail after suspecting him of using heroine. When Max's urine tests negative for any drugs he is released yet again and takes his frustration out on the power-hungry parole officer. Beating him at the wheel of his car before chaining him to a fence butt naked, and then leaving him for the whole city to see by the side of the road. It's the major turning point in the film and the scene where Max is finally broken.

I loved the film and thought it was a great character study of a man looking to make it in the world and change his ways. For all his efforts in his attempts to do so, you still always got the feeling that he could have his head turned by the lure of money. If nobody gives him a fair shot after prison and he can't make a single buck, it's only a matter of time before he understands that money is made easiest and quickest when stolen.

This is a very slow burning story but one which requires and ultimately deserves your full attention.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Framed (1975)

"He was taken by everyone, for everything he had. All he had left was one obsession. To get even. To pay them back two for one."

Ron Lewis (Don Baker) is a high stakes gambler, and after winning the jackpot in Dallas against some Turkey's he gets ambushed on his way home. Shots are fired at him from an unknown hitman but he nevertheless manages to make it home. Upon arriving home he is met by the pushy sheriff Haskins, who is hell bent on intimidating him into a fight. Ron accidentally kills Haskins in self defence but is sentenced to 2-10 years in prison for his murder anyway. The jackpot money which he won was also taken from his car just after the attack by the police commissioner Morello. And after meeting a mob boss named Sal in prison, Ron vows to get revenge on the mayor and police commissioner that took away everything he had.

I really enjoyed this one, and after watching Charley Varrick, which will no doubt become an all time favourite of mine after a rewatch I fell in love with one Joe Don Baker, and as the lead actor in this film he didn't disappoint me. He's a man mountain, fearless and shines throughout in this pretty obscure flick about one man's revenge for the truth.

It also features some pretty disturbing scenes which caught me right off guard. One was a desk scene where a blade is stabbed through the top of a guy's hand and it's done with great care, that was not a rushed job. Another scene is where Ron is beating some information out of a detective and puts something like an air or gas pump into the guy's ear, his good one too as his other ear is hanging by a thread from an earlier punishment. The same poor guy is also dragged through his car window by his nostrils.

His girlfriend (as dippy as she is), plays a rather sweet part too. Her singing got on my nerves a little after a while but I couldn't help but forgive her as she was so innocent.
Most of my favourite parts about the film were all based in the prison. I thought Ron looked at home there and certainly felt comfortable. If he can command a comment from Sal (whose practically the mafia boss around those parts), about how he's never met anyone as cold as him, then i'm sure he would have coped just fine had he have stayed the whole ten years behind bars. He's also a mean-ass poker player too, shuffles like a young Phil Laak.

While it's nothing spectacular, this film kept me entertained throughout and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'll definitely be checking out more of Joe Don Baker's other 70's work, like Walking Tall and The Outfit for starters.

"How could I forget? First time I ever seen a tub of shit in a suit."

The King's Speech (2010)

For some strange reason I kept avoiding this film, it just didn't appeal to me at all. Let me correct that statement though by saying that I absolutely adored it.

It's a wonderful story and character study and one that it is expertly told by Tom Hooper and the brilliant cast. When I watch the Oscars and see Colin Firth walk away with the best actor gong, at least I can now look upon that decision with great appreciation. He was magnificent as King George VI and so to was Geoffrey Rush who played his speech therapist. In fact i'd be hard pushed to find a single blemish on anyone's performance in this film, it's almost flawless.

Coming from a film snob who hates period dramas and alike, I was blown away by this film and recommend it to everyone and anyone.

Monday, 24 January 2011

The Dion Brothers (1974)

This film may be familiar to some of you as The Gravy Train but I think audiences at early screenings indicated that the title sounded too much like dog food. It was therefore altered and re-submitted as The Dion Brothers, which to be fair is more fitting to the film anyway.

"I got the makings of a Kirk Douglas man! Look at me. Kirk-fucking-Douglas!"

Calvin (Keach) is a factory worker who decides one day that he's had enough, so he just ups and leaves his busy, busy, busy, busy job and aims to make it rich as an armed robber. So he joins Tony (played by Barry Primus) and the rest of his gang in Washington D.C. as they plan to steal an armoured car and share the money. Calvin convinces Tony that in order to pull this off he's going to need a dynamite expert, and that the best person for the job would be his brother Rut (Forrest). Rut also joins the gang with no hesitations and they set off to steal the car. Everything goes exactly to plan and they pull off the robbery without any major setbacks. But it's only when they return home to find their place surrounded by cops that they realise Tony has set them up. The brothers must then spend the rest of the film trying to track down Tony to get their share of the robbery, with the help of Margie (the gorgeous but strange Margot Kidder).

The film moves from one scene to the next without any real fluidity, it jumps from comedy to drama to action so fast and your never really sure what's coming next, but it's the relationship of the brothers that make the film and holds everything else in place. All they want to do is earn (steal) enough money so that they can open up their own seafood restaurant. You can't help but want exactly that for them even though they're criminals. Those scenes reminded me of Of Mice and Men, because I remember those characters wanting to to open up their own Jazz bar or something like that. The film shares a few other similarities with that story I guess as the brother Rut could almost be mistaken for Lenny. Dumb, strong but very caring. There is also a scene where Carlos is playing the horseshoe game, again taken from the Steinbeck novel and film adaptations.

Stacy Keach is amazing, from the opening shirtless scene in the canning factory you know your going to be in for a treat and he doesn't disappoint. Praise must also go to Frederic Forrest who plays Rut, the much dumber and carefree brother, he's pretty damn special in this. You may also notice Richard Romanus who plays Carlos, he's the older brother of Robert Romanus of Fast Times at Ridgemont High fame.

I really enjoyed the film even though I watched it on a pretty grainy VHS rip. It's unavailable on DVD right now and has been largely obscure for many years. I can't recall ever seeing a tape of either title in the video stores or markets when I was younger. I would really love to see it again some time fully restored but it still didn't take any of the heart away from it. It's a very solid film and one which needs to be seen by a much wider audience as it's fairly obscure. I'd heard of it a while back but it was brought back to my attention lately by the guys over at the ggtmc podcast.

The only thing seperating this film from it's 5th star for me is the fact that it's something of a mess structurally.

"Name a fish plate after me..."

The Dark Knight (2008)

The third #mysterymoviemonday film of the year. I absolutely love this film, I think it's a masterpiece. I do however prefer the first instalment Batman Begins as I think it's a much better film but as sequels go this one is pretty hard to beat.

My problem isn't with the film and there are far better reviews out there than mine so this won't be a review of the film itself, just the experience. My problem starts with the lazy-ass projectionist at the local cinema who keeps persisting in playing movies released post 2000.
Not only does the guy (and i'm taking a wild stab in the dark here saying that it is a guy) play modern day movies, but he plays obvious and crowd pleasing choices. You can't tell me that there is one person left in the UK who hasn't seen The Dark Knight? I mean come on! Play something a little more obscure than that.
Last week we had Memento too which means it's been a Nolan double header.

I'm just starting to lose patience with the whole mystery thing now. If you want to play something crowd pleasing then fine, I understand that you need to draw a certain crowd in and generate a weekly audience but at least make it a little obscure. Go mad and play something from the 90's even.

To make matters worse, we had to sit through the entire run time (which is a lot) next to a guy who smelt like he had shit his pants. Last week sometime. We were six rows across from this guy in a pretty packed out cinema and the smell was pretty intense. He had also brought along a packed lunch in a carrier bag which he decided to munch on and rustle every sweet wrapper to the maximum volume. After consuming his 12th bag of crisps and third bottle of coke he drifted off into a nice warm sleep. We know this because we could hear him snoring for a good 15-20 minutes. He then awoke again to find his body craving more snacks, and so the saga continued...

Very disappointed with this weeks choice, and not for the first time with #mysterymoviemonday either. If things don't improve soon they could well lose 4 regulars.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

The Hot Rock (1972)

The Hot Rock (aka How to Steal a Diamond in Four Uneasy Lessons) is about 4 con men who are obsessed with stealing a large diamond from a museum, jail, police station and bank. That's probably the best way to describe it.

This film is fantastic, I absolutely dug it from the moment go. The opening scene is such a great moment where Redford's character Dortmunder is walking through the prison after just getting released. The credits are rolling as he's making his way through all of the release procedures, it's just great.

The cast is perfect and the execution is amazing, you just never know which way it's going to turn or how it's going to turn out. George Segal is great as Kelp the keymaster but special praise must go to Zero Mostel who plays a ballsy lawyer, his role was perfect. I can't fault any of the actors or cast choices as they were all great, my personal favourite was Ron Leibman as Murch, the ex-racing car driver turned getaway man who can literally drive anything and loves nothing more than sitting back and listening to the loud sound of motor cars on the track. I even noticed a young Christopher Guest as a guard in the police station heist scene.

There are too many great scenes to list here and I really wouldn't want to spoil anything for those who haven't seen it either, but the one I would like to mention is the prison break out where Murch is waiting outside the prison in the car and they all jump in and he drives them to safety in the back of a truck, it's pretty damn special that one. Don't get me wrong that scene has been done to death in most movies but I loved the way it was executed here.

"Afghanistan Bananastand."

One line that stuck in my head the most was when Dortmunder goes into his old local bar and the bartender already knows what drink he's having, even after all the time that he has spent in prison. He just utters the line; "Once I got your drink, your mine for life." I loved it and I loved that guy behind the bar too. Why aren't places like that anymore?

I can't praise this film highly enough as it's a work of art. You can't look away from the screen for a second because you know you're gonna miss a key plot scene.
If you love this as much as I did then I suggest you check out another similar classic called How To Steal A Million (1966). It stars Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn and it's fantastic.

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

I have never seen the original movie, which is odd seeing as though i'm a huge VHS enthusiast and Video Nasties collector. When I was a kid it was THE movie to see, but the trouble was getting your hands on it as it was so rare. Along with Last House on the Left, The House on the Edge of the Park and all of the other 70's revenge movies, the '78 version of this one was the one that people always talked about but the only one I hadn't seen.

I quite enjoyed the remake of The Last House on the Left but that probably comes from my liking of the original. I also expect a few more of these films to be remade over the next few years as they're a bit of a box office attraction based on the sleezy premise and reputation of the genre.

Jennifer (Sarah Butler) is a writer who has decided to drive deep into the woods to a cabin where she can take a few months to relax and finish her latest novel. She stumbles across some typical deep south Deliverance type guys along the way and even manages to embarrass one accidentally (a move i'm sure which will come back to haunt her later on in the film). After only a few days out in the woods she is attacked in the cabin by the gang of men from the gas station. They proceed to taunt and abuse her before each taking it in turn to rape her and then deciding to leave her for dead. The only catch is that they can't find the body after she jumped into the river. Has she escaped? Will she come back? We shall see...

I don't think i''m spoiling anything there as everyone who knows anything about the original will know the basic plot synopsis of the film. It's pretty well known.

In the opening scenes of the film it was nice to see a brief nod to the '78 film here in the form of the gas pump price. I'm not too sure how close this film is to the original but from the poster I could tell it was almost identical. Some of the rape scenes are quite brutal as to are the torturing scenes but it's not like we haven't seen this kind of thing before, it's nothing new.
This isn't a great film by any stretch of the imagination and the acting is poor at best, but it's also not as bad as some of the other remakes that have been coming out over the past 5 or 6 years. The deaths were good, the lead woman was hot and the British born Andrew Howard who played the Sheriff was fantastic.

It's worth checking out if you have or like me haven't seen the 1978 version.

Curfew (1989)

The film centres around two brothers Ray and Bob Perkins who after breaking out from prison, seek out revenge on the judge and D.A. who sentenced them to death row for raping a 16 year old girl.

This one has been on my to watch pile for about the last 5 or 6 years so I was looking forward to it somewhat. Unfortunately it's a huge pile of dog shit with only a few redeeming qualities.

The major draw and win for this film is the fact that it stars the iron jawed and Kelly Osbourne lookalike Kyle Richards, formerly little Lindsey Wallace from Halloween. The only other plus point in this turd is the bad-ass 80's synth score which rocked my world every time it was unleashed, again though it was badly used.

All in all this is a terrible movie and one which I believe was also banned at some point, or at least put forward for cuts by the BBFC. I have no idea why or how this was possible as there is nothing to suggest even the slightest bit of terror. The gore is fairly low and the acting was abysmal.

If you've been drinkling heavily and want to laugh at something pointless, and you have nothing else to watch i'd say check it out. Other than that i'd steer well clear of this one.
The star rating is based purely on the synth score, nothing else.

Black Swan (2010)

Probably my most anticipated movie of the year. Having been released in the States towards the end of 2010, I was hearing great review after great review, so my expectation level was going through the roof. This film lived up to the hype in every sense. I never thought I would love a film about ballet so much!

Let's get one thing out of the way first, the perfomances of both Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis are exceptional, as to is Vincent Cassel as the demanding dance instructor who needs to see 'The Black Swan'. The highlight for me was seeing Barbara Hershey as the pushy mother, a little too pushy though and rather creepy in fact.

There are no extra stars awarded here either for 'that' scene with Kunis and Portman in the bedroom, this is all down to story and execution. I'm a huge admirer of Aronofsky and this is another piece of magic from him, it's just hit after hit with this guy.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The In-Laws (1979)

"While the Father of the Bride was extracting a molar from Mrs. Cohen, the Father of the Groom was extracting $20 Million from the U.S. Mint. And this was only the beginning."

I had absolutely no idea that this film was remade in 2003 with Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks in the lead roles, I just knew that it had a great fun plot and a great cast and as i'm on sort of an Arkin high at the moment, it seemed highly appropriate.

Sheldon's (Alan Arkin) daughter is about to get married, but first he must meet the groom's father Vincent, played by Falk (Columbo). Vincent somehow manages to get Sheldon tangled up in his crazy lifestyle, apparently something to do with the CIA and so they both get dragged across Central America in a manic and fast paced film full of mishaps and bad guys.

While I absolutely love Alan Arkin and the majority of his work, I have to say that I was somewhat let down by this one, and the same goes for Arthur Hiller too.
I couldn't get behind the characters at all and although i'm not a massive fan of Meet the Parents, a film which was adapted from this one, it's still much funnier than The In-Laws. I never thought i'd come across an Arkin movie from the 70's that left me feeling a bit flat. Maybe that's a little harsh to say but it's just my opinion.

It was however nice to see David Paymer make a brief cameo as a taxi driver who also gets caught up in the action. I think it was his first appearance in any film.

How many gun shots are there in this movie too? I think it could be a contender for the most misfired shots in the history of cinema. It wasn't even funny in the end (if at all), it was just annoying hearing them going off every few seconds. Fitting though as the film is a bit of a misfire too.

"Are you interested in joining? The benefits are terrific. The trick is not to get killed. That's really the key to the benefit program."

Monday, 17 January 2011

Memento (2000)

"My wife deserves revenge, whether I know about it or not."

The second #mysterymoviemonday of the year was Memento. This was only the second time that I have ever seen the film, and my first time on the big screen. My first viewing was on DVD way back in about 2001/2002.

I enjoyed it back then and I still enjoyed it this time around. I'm quite glad that it was shown really because it's one of those films that although I like alot, I could never see myself revisiting it at any stage. I mean i've gone 10 years already.
The cast is perfect and the perfomances are spot on, I can't fault the film one bit. It's up there with Mulholland Drive for me, a very similar film in style and plot. Although at least Nolan lets us know what the hell is going on in the end.

I like the film so much that I even have my very own memento;

"You know, I've had more rewarding friendships than this one. Although I do get to keep telling the same jokes."

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The Last Detail (1973)

This is a classic example of why you should never judge a book, or in this case film by it's cover. I'll admit that I committed the cardinal sin of avoiding this movie based on the poster above. While most people would think it looks pretty bad-ass (fitting for the film really), I was of the opinion that it was going to be a slow paced sailor movie starring a very young Jack Nicholson. How wrong could I have been, eh?

The film is about two naval officers, Buddusky (Jack Nicholson) and Mulhall (Otis Young) who are ordered to escort petty thief Meadows to a prison base in Portsmouth. Meadows (Randy Quaid), is a friendly giant who was caught trying to steal fourty dollars from the general's wife's charity fund box. For this crime he was sentenced to eight years in prison. Buddusky and Mulhall decide to give the carefree Meadows the best last few days that he could imagine, something to treasure before he gets locked up.

Let me start by saying Jack Nicholson is on top, top form here. He's absolutely magnificent in a father figure kind of way to Meadows. He desperately wants to succeed in showing the kid the wonders of the world if he can just let go of himself and show a bit of toughness, but all the time knowing that he's sending this poor kid to a prison, where they'll most likely beat the shit out of him every day he's there. Quaid is also brilliant and it's just a shame that his career never took off in a more serious way, now resigned to more comedic roles. His character here reminded me of his performance as Lenny in Of Mice and Men alongside Robert Blake. When he took ice cream cone chested Carol Kane in the bedroom I genuinely feared for her safety, I kept thinking 'Rabbits'!

"I hate this detail. I hate this fucking chickenshit detail!"

The scene in the bar when Buddusky is trying to get a drink for Meadows is pretty great, as to is the scene in the hotel room where he's trying to get a reaction out of him but he just won't rise to it. Instead Buddusky releases his frustration on a lamp by the bedside and the wardrobe doors.
There are so many great scenes in this movie but my favourite would have to be where Buddusky follows the marines into the toilets at the station and starts a fight for no other reason than he hates Marines.
Marine: "I call Karate."
Mulhall: "And I call you a motherfucker!"

The film is another great example of a prisoner transportation scenario. It's a truly great film but it doesn't share the same feeling with me as something like Midnight Run. That's probably because that film is high up into my top 100 of all time list. Having said that, I absolutely loved this film and if like me you love Hal Ashby's other work like Harold and Maude and Being There, then you should definitely check this one out too. I haven't found an Ashby movie that i've disliked yet.

"I would never shit you. You're my favorite turd!"

Friday, 14 January 2011

F (2010)

This film was shown at Frightfest last year and I was so jealous of every one that got to see it. I'm a huge fan of these types of films and I really loved Eden Lake, Cherry Tree Lane and The Strangers, as well as the foreign films like Inside, Them and Funny Bones. There's just something about home invasion movies that strike a chord with me. This one is absolutely no different from those I have mentioned (in terms of plot) except for one factor, this one is set in a school.

The plot is very simple, Robert Anderson played by David Schofield is a teacher who is struggling to keep his job. He was attacked by a pupil in front of his students almost a year ago and is now a shadow of his former self. He has lost his wife and his daughter wants nothing to do with him, drink is his only friend and the school is also starting to lose it's patience. He's in the middle of detention, of which his daughter is the only one in attendance, when a gang of faceless hoodies break into the school and start murdering people.

This one sounds great and by right it probably should have been but it turned out to be quite messy if i'm honest. The acting is good, I can't fault it there but it's problems lie with the attackers. They sport grey hoodies which are completely dark so that you never see their faces. I think they must have been gymnasts because they can't seem to stay on the ground, they're all over the place. On the top of cupboards, tables you name it moving like snakes, it's not creepy it's just a bit ridiculous. Also whenever they appear on the screen we get this eerie whispering sound, reminiscent of the music in Profondo Rosso, except here it's overplayed so it just becomes an irritant after a while.


Now, down to the most annoying part. The ending to Eden Lake divided a lot of people but I was on board with it and quite liked it, as to with the ending of Funny Bones, The Strangers, Them etc. Except with 'F' the film just ends abruptly, no resolution, a lot of missing links and no point really. Who are the kids? Why are they attacking the school? Did the mother get out? Did the police turn up? Of course that must be the whole point, but I didn't find that interesting, I just found it very frustrating.

What saves this film in my opinion from a score of 2, is that it is genuinely tense and eerie, it just doesn't go through with all of it's intent and stick to it's guns until the very end. Bit of a shame really.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Roller Boogie (1979)

"It's love on wheels!"

As soon as the opening credits started up I knew I was in for a treat. Not since Aerobicide (aka Killer Workout) have my shoulders and feet danced in sync with each other to such a funky-ass beat. I felt like Steve Martin's character in The Jerk, it was uncontrollable.

This little gem is about a spoilt little rich girl and her desire to have a youth. It stars Linda Blair as Terry and Jim Bray as Bobby James, the best skater in town. Bobby meets Terry while down at Venice beach and instantly falls for her, the one girl who appears uninterested in him. After stalking her at the local disco Terry decides to take dancing lessons from Bobby and the pair hit it off right away. But after the disco is threatened with closure, the pair, armed with a posse of skater friends decide to pull together in an effort to save the Roller Boogie.

It's incredibly cheesy and so poorly acted in places it's untrue, but that's exactly how I expected it to be and it did not let me down. You won't find any oscar nominated performances here, but then again who's looking? This has made me want to check out more roller skating movies like Xanadu, or even just movies with the same feel to them like Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.

"You're heading for the Olympics; I'm heading for broken bones."

One of the more ridiculous scenes in the film shows Bobby sitting on the window ledge of his 1st floor apartment, when a guy at a pay phone in the street shouts up at him to tell him that he has a call for him. He comes down to answer the call and soon finds out that it's Terry (I know), better still, she's only across the street roughly 15 feet away in a huge bright green car. He's standing at the pay phone looking all around as she's describing his clothes but he just can't see her. I'm shouting "She's behing you!" like in panto but he can't hear me, it was over 30 years ago! That scene had me in bits.

There is so much to like here and if you're in the mood for some harmless fun with a killer soundtrack and fun plot, then this takes some beating.

Charley Varrick (1973)

"When he runs out of dumb luck he always has genius to fall back on!"
Wow! Charley Varrick is a work of pure magic (no rhyme intended).
The film is basically about Charley Varrick (Matthau) and his friends who decide to rob a two-bit bank and split the small sum of money up between themselves. But after they get back and count the haul, they are shocked to discover $750,000 bagged up inside. So shocked in fact that Charley soon realises that this amount of money could not possibly have come from such a small bank and community and that it must belong to the mafia. How right he is too as the mafia involved hire a hitman to set out and retrieve the stolen cash. That man is Molly (Don Baker), a terrifying and menacing brick wall of a man.
All I kept thinking while watching this movie was how similar in style and mood it was to the Coen brothers film No Country For Old Men. The basic story is the same but the Coen's must have been so inspired that they felt they needed to bring something new to the table. I'd have a hard time splitting those two movies up though, I mean I absolutely adore No Country but this film was just so raw and unxpected.
"I allow very few men to speak to me in that tone. Few caucasians. And no nigras at all."
Matthau does what Matthau does best, and that is own the screen but whenever Joe Don Baker gets his say, it's all the Baker. He's absolutely frightening as the hitman, and it's surprising how little information he needs too to try and track down his man. He never needs to write any notes down and never needs to be told twice, he's just a trained killer, like a machine.
I believe it was my first 70's experience with the great Don Baker too, and a very pleasant (if not scary) one at that.
My favourite scene was where Molly visits Tom's Gun-Shop to accept some information. Molly starts asking a few questions and the old man (Tom) demands to be paid for his information. Molly doesn't like what he hears so he places one hand on the man's chest and pushes him and his wheelchair about 10 feet backwards into a pile of boxes. The old man drops his whiskey and falls to the floor and Molly stares at him and says "Now sit there, and start talking, with good will". It's out of this world, such a memorable and classic scene.
I might come back and change this film to a 5 star one. I'll definitely be looking forward to revisiting it anyway, it's a bona fide classic.
"You just keep throwing your feathers, mister, before I put you in the hospital."

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Silent Partner (1978)

"It's not about the money. It's about revenge."

I didn't know anything about this film before tonight, only the fact that it starred Elliott Gould. That was all I needed to convince myself that it needed to be dragged to the top of the #missedmoviesofthe70s pile.

It's the story of Miles Cullen (Gould), a bank teller with a steady life who decides to obstruct Reikle (Plummer), a bank robber dressed as Santa of the cash. Instead, Miles pockets the money himself and makes out as if the bank was robbed of the whole amount. Things start to turn ugly though when a brief TV appearance by Miles is spotted by Reikle and he doesn't like finding out the total amount of money that was taken. Knowing he was outsmarted, Reikle decides to go after Miles in a tense and unsettling film that had me gripped from the opening scene.

I don't want to give away anymore of the plot than I have done already, as I want others to enjoy the same experience that I have just had. It's a silent masterpiece that I don't hear many people talking about. For me it should be placed into the same class as The Taking of Pelham 123. Having said that, this film is very dark and disturbing in places. The scene with the fish tank being particularly quite violent.

Gould is amazing as always but it's the performance of Christopher Plummer that makes the film what it is. Forget the mascara and eyeliner, forget even the rather camp gold necklace/chain that he wears throughout. Because yes, he does like to sport some nice silk shirts and dress up a little from time to time, but he's also absolutely terrifying in this and none more so than when he pops open the letterbox at Miles's place. I almost crapped!

It was also nice to see John Candy turn up in a small part as Simonsen who works alongside Miles at the bank. He manages to bag himself a very fine blonde with a wicked t-shirt collection. I kept saying 'want' every time I saw her.

It's an amazing film and highly underrated in my opinion. Check it out if you haven't done so already.

"I'm just going to give you a little time... to try to be reasonable. If you decide you're not going to be reasonable, then one night when you come home, you'll find me *inside*, waiting for you. And that will be the night you'll wish you'd never been born."

Monday, 10 January 2011

North Dallas Forty (1979)

Apparently this film is loosely based on the Dallas Cowboys team of the early 70's. It mainly focuses on one man Phiilip Elliott played by Nick Nolte, but it's basically about life as a professional football star at that time.

"They pay you and they pay you well. On one condition. You play the game their way, even if you're forced to break every bone in your body."

I'm a huge fan of American football and football films in general. Some of my favourite and most watched films happen to be classics like; The Mean Machine, Friday Night Lights, Best of Times and All the Right Moves, and this is no different to any of those movies except it shares a little more in common with the film Slapshot than anything else.
As this movie is more of a character study centred around Nick Nolte's character Elliott, and as the plot above suggests, this film is more about the experience and life of a pro football player and less about the game itself. We really get an insight into the lame ass repetitive post match parties that these guys attend each week, and also the training methods of the ungrateful and thankless coaches.

I thought it was a brilliant film and i'll definitely add it to my list of favourite sports movies when suggesting to friends and fellow movie lovers. Nolte plays a great part and the ending was terrific, and I do mean that moment before the credits too.

Makes me wish I could grow a moustache too.

"You had better learn how to play the game, and I don't mean just the game of football."

Conviction (2010)

This is the first film as part of the 'Mystery Movie Monday' screenings that I try to make it to each week. I have a plan to try and get to at least 30 of these this year.

Don't get me wrong this film is a real slow burner, but given the true story content it's entirely forgivable.
If you were a fan of Winter's Bone I think you will like what's on offer here. That received a lot of praise and rightly so, but I was never that blown away by it as others were.

For those of you who are not familiar with the story, I won't spoil anything that isn't already mentioned in the plot and trailer. The film is about Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell) who has been wrongfully imprisoned of murder, and his sister Betty Anne (Hilary Swank) who will stop at nothing to prove her brother's innocence, even if it means occasionally neglecting her own life.

Hilary Swank puts in one of her finest performances and Sam Rockwell is his ever impressive self. Empire gave this film 3 stars and says that it works but only in a TV movie kind of way. If it wasn't for the two major stars at the centre of the film, I could agree with that but I honestly think that they take this wonderful tale to a new level.

It's a very powerful and moving film, and one that I hope people will appreciate if you can invest in the story and running time. I hope i'm right in saying that fans of Winter's Bone will also take to this this.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Freebie and the Bean (1974)

Say hello to my top 100 of all time, boys.

Freebie is played by James Caan, and the Bean by Alan Arkin. It's the story of two police detectives who armed with one piece of evidence decide to bring down a local hijacking boss (Red Meyers). But before they can do so, they here news of a hitman who is out to kill Meyers.

As soon as the film started I knew I was in for a treat. That opening scene where they are rummaging through the garbage that they have collected in the boot of their car is priceless, as is the opening title sequence and music.

There are so many great scenes in this movie that it would be criminal of me to single one out, so it's only right that I pick up on a few of the more stellar ones (they all are).
Armed with their only shred of evidence, Freebie and Bean set off to interrogate the local scum in an effort to track down Motley. They visit a bum named Whitey at a construction site, and at the top of a crane they ask him a few questions. It's a hilarious scene and one where we first see Arkin lose it. "You got insurance up here?" "I'm getting crazy, i'm getting crazy up here!"
Then, a little while later they decide to interrogate Whitey further, but this time at his home. After slapping him around a bit, Bean reaches for his notebook anticipating the information and Whitey starts to spill. Then Freebie throws a dummy shot before punching him in the stomach. It sounds like a serious scene and it is to some degree, but it's played out with such great comedy like timing that it needs to be seen to be believed.
The on screen connection between Caan and Arkin is just fantastic, it's such a shame that they haven't done anything else together (that I know of). I was cracking up at the constant Mexican pop shots that Freebie kept throwing at Bean too.

Another scene shows them both in the D.A's office where they keep interrupting each other and annoying the D.A. "I want you both to sit down. Just sit down."

I could go all day just mentioning lines from this movie and scene after scene, like beating up the Cadillac salesman from Detroit. The fight with the Cowboy at the hotel, and then again after he wouldn't shut up in the car en route to the station. Every scene is a classic and most had me in stitches too.

"Dirty bastard. Dirty Bastard. Dirty, dirty bastard."

I hope I wasn't the only one to notice James Caan's stunt double on the bike, he looked like a cross between Bruce Dern and Tom Waits.

One of my favourite and funniest scenes from the movie is when Freebie makes a call and says "I do a terrific Texas accent. Watch this." Freebie's Texan accent is absolutely atrocious, and after putting the phone down he says; "I can do it better." it's flawless.

The 10 minute scene between Arkin and his wife are also some of the finest minutes in cinema that i've ever seen. They're hilarious. He's accusing her of all this stuff and she literally has an answer for everything.

The film is beyond brilliant and I could talk about it for hours, I know i'll certainly be quoting it.
It has such a wonderful ending too which I don't want to spoil, but I will say that it ties in perfectly with the feel of the rest of the film.
This is one that I would recommend to anyone and everyone, it's one i'm going to revisit time and time again. Like I said at the start, I don't like to rush decisions when it comes to favourite films but this is the exception, it has easily bulldozed it's way into my top 100.

Watch it!!!!!!! It's amazing and totally deserving of the 5 stars that I have given it.

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)

My wife has been bugging me to see this film for years now. When we were on our road trip across the States early last year, you could not stop her and her Sister singing "Texas, has a whorehouse in it! Lord have mercy on our souls.". There was nothing on TV so I cut her a deal, stop singing and i'll watch it.

Town Sheriff and regular patron, fights to keep a historical whorehouse open when a TV preacher targets it as the Devils playhouse.

I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but this one was reasonably fun. It helps that I quite like Dolly and love a bit of Burt. Don't get me wrong though, I don't ever want to see Charles Durning (Governor) singing about doing the side step. It's just wrong, so wrong.
I also quite liked the Sheriff's (Reynolds) one liners throughout. Stuff like; "Boys, I got myself a pretty good bullshit detector, and I can tell when somebody's peeing on my boots and telling me it's a rainstorm." Or "I'm gonna knock you so flat, you'll have to roll down your socks to shit!"

The musical numbers don't outstay there welcome and are few and far between so that it doesn't become too overpowering, unlike something like White Christmas which I cannot stand.

If you like to see scantily clad women (and lots of them), a good old warm hearted story, and a few musical numbers thrown in for good measure? Then you could do a lot worse than this.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Kick-Ass (2010)

Last year was a fantastic year for movies and this was one of my favourites. The revisitablity factor on this film is untrue, I could sit down and watch this at any given time. Right up there with the likes of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, loved it.

Matthew Vaughn is a director that really excites me. While work on X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass 2 finishes, we shouldn't forget his previous efforts. I absolutely adored Layer Cake, and Stardust is too damn sweet to dislike, that film holds a special place in my heart.

The concept of the film really appealed to me with it's comic book theme and each character was cast to perfection. Aaron Johnson is brilliant as the title character, Chloe Moretz is of course the highlight as the foul mouthed but hard as nails Hit-Girl, and Nic Cage is also great as the quirky parent fo the year Big Daddy.

I came out of the pictures screaming the priases of this film and my opinion has not changed one bit. There have been other efforts since like Defendor and alike, but this one is the real deal. I also think it could make for a fantastic double bill with Mystery Men.

"Okay you cunts... Let's see what you can do now!"

Friday, 7 January 2011

Megamind (2010)

After loving Despicable Me so much, I finally decided to give Megamind a shot. While it's no The Incredibles or Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, it's certainly a decent film with a few silly laughs and fun plot.

I'm still not a huge fan of the actual Megamind character and animation, but Will Ferrell brings a lot of humour and charm to the film. I also had a slight problem with Brad Pitt's Metro Man voice. I loved the character, I mean he's practically Mr. Incredible but without the heart and soul. The lines seemed to be uttered half arsed like and I felt like he didn't really put his all into it. Craig T. Nelson on the other hand was brilliant in The Incredibles. Having said that, Metro Man wasn't a central figure in the film so I can forgive it, I guess. I also loved David (Tobias Funke) Cross's Minion character, a really funny addition to the plot.

All in all it's not a bad film. If it came on the TV on a saturday or Sunday morning i'd happily sit through it again but i'd much rather watch one of the other similar and earlier films mentioned above.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Rollercoaster (1977)

The film is about a nameless, faceless young terrorist who places home-made radio controlled explosives on rollercoasters across the States. Even after agreeing a pay-off with the police he still plants yet another bomb, this time it's on The Magic Mountain rollercoaster (one of the longest rollercoasters i've ever seen) at it's grand opening.

Timothy Bottoms (great name) is menacing as the Young Man who's terrorising these rides. He could have starred in The Driver as he's got that straight face look practically nailed. George Segal is also excellent as Hary Calder, the technical supervisor who has been ordered to pursue him.

My favourite part of the movie is where he's got Harry (Segal) riding every fairground attraction possible in an effort to wear him down, before pulling off the big steal when he least expects it.
I also liked how it avoided a usual cliche. At the grand opening of the Magic Mountain ride, Harry sees his wife and daughter (played by a young Helen Hunt) in the queue waiting to go on. I immediately see where this is all going, but no, he orders them to leave the amusement park and the film continues. Most films play those scenes out where the wife and daughter get caught up in the plot, and the chase for the bomb and terrorist becomes personal. This sticks to it's original guns and leaves the film all about the chase for the man. Loved it!

The rides were great too, especially the Rocket ride. It must be the reason why height restrictions are now in place at all major theme parks. Jeez, that thing was a death trap before the explosion. Something tells me the budget was running low because it looked like it was made out of bacon foil.

The whole movie was brilliantly filmed and looks absolutely stunning. I'm VHS through and through but I call for a Blu release, unless it's already out there? I have a credit card in hand.

I'd also like to pay a very special mention to the Sparks appearance near the very end of the film. It was a solid 7 to 7.5 film until then, but they show up and give this little gem an extra half a point. They really gave it their all and I was left open mouthed for some considerable time. Loves me some Sparks, and now loves me some Rollercoaster.

I feel ridiculous for having put this film off for so long, it has the same feel to it as something like The Poseidon Adventure. It's one i'll definitely be revisiting over and over again.

"You are in a race against time...and terror. You are pursuing a nameless, faceless man through America's greatest amusement parks...and, for the first time, you are experiencing the most sensational rides of our time, IN SENSURROUND"

127 Hours (2010)

High score indeed!

Let me start by saying I was looking forward to this film quite a bit, but only in the sense that it was a true story and directed by Danny Boyle. I was expecting another Gerry type film if i'm being totally honest.

Thank JVC that it wasn't, because this film literally took me through every single emotion, and it takes a very powerful film to do that to a VHS collecting geek.

I won't bore anyone with the plot as we all know the story here, but what I will say is that I absolutely adored it from beginning to end. I'm not even afraid to admit that I got rather emotional and teary eyed towards the very end. This was probably helped by the fact that my favourite band's track 'Festival' was accompanying that very scene. Every Tom, Dick and Harry uses there music to beef up an emotional moment or event these days, but none done more effectively in my opinion than right here.

James Franco puts in a really strong performance and Mr. Boyle does a fantastic job of story telling. I loved the flashbacks and dream sequences, they gave me a great insight into his mind and the things that really matter in life. I can't praise it enough.

It gets released nationwide tomorrow in the UK and I urge everyone to go and see it. It's a very moving film and one that i'm not going to forget in a very long time. Not everyone will share my opinion on this i'm sure, but each movie affects us all in a different way and this definitely got to me.

It's definitely laid down the marker for my film of the year already, and it's January. What a start to the year!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Breakout (1975)

"Sentenced to 28 years in prison for a crime he never committed. Only two things can get him out - A lot of money and Charles Bronson!"

With a cast that includes the likes of Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall, John Huston, Randy Quaid, Jill Ireland and Sheree North to name but a few, you can forgive me when I say that I went into this film half expecting an original Expendables type movie (of which I am not a fan) but I was wrong, and by some distance too. Although Bronson does speak like an aging Stallone, the movie lacks a little speed and action. Something which The Expendables does not lack, however poorly executed it was. That really is a crying shame as i'm sure it could have been great. As it turns out, it's just a very decent watch.
Bronson plays Nick Colton, a bush pilot who gets hired by Ann Wagner (Ireland) to help bust out her husband Jay (Duvall), who was wrongly imprisoned for 28 years for a crime he never committed.
Nick accepts a rather strange amount of money to help free Jay, 1200 to be precise. And 39 Dollars. And 52 Cents. Cash!
It then plays out with Nick making various attempts at rescuing Jay from his prison in Mexico, with the help of various people and the money supply from the mega rich Ann. The film also sees a young Randy Quaid play a drag queen in one failed breakout attempt. And look out for the sweatiest of sweat patches by Bronson too, that guy can perspire with the very best.
It's a good solid 70's flick which I liked, I just didn't love it.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

California Split (1974)

This is a wonderful story about gambling, friendship and the lengths some people go to just to earn a quick buck. It's not just a bet, it's a way of life for most people.

Segal plays a heavy gambler who's down on his look, when he runs into the smooth, fast talking Elliott Gould. They have some drinks at the bar and start talking about the Seven Dwarves and Dumbo, and how the singing Black Crow is too Taboo (it's pure genius). Clearly impressed by what he sees, Segal's character is drawn into his seedy little world and they soon become friends. The next thing he knows, he's waking up
to Froot Loops at a prostitutes house and rubbing shaving cream over his bruised ribs after getting mugged the night before.
There are some fantastic comedic moments here, most notably the 'Helen Brown' scene where Gould and Segal burst in impersonating cops. Or the fight in the toilets near the end where they disturb a guy taking a dump.
My favourite scene however is when the pair make it to Reno and Gould is at the bar describing each player around the table to Segal. He only needs to take one look at them and he's got them all sussed out. It's such a fantastic scene and one which i'm very familiar with being a Poker player myself.
I don't want to say too much about it, just seek it out whenever you can and you won't be disappointed. Like most 70's films i'm watching lately, I loved the hell out of it.

Goddamnit, lady, you don't throw oranges on an escalator!

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Fighter (2010)

I did like the film, I just feel it's been over praised by a lot of critics. Christian Bale is again the star of the show here but there is also a wonderful turn by Amy Adams as Micky's girlfriend, I almost didn't recognise her. Good film but not one i'll be revisiting anytime soon.

The Driver (1978)

It's films like this that make me realise why we were all given eyes.
Walter Hill has made some great cast choices in his time, like Murphy and Nolte in 48HRS and Candy and Pryor in Brewster's Millions, but by placing Ryan O'Neal and Bruce Dern on screen he created a monster. I freakin' loved this movie so much! It's completely deadpan and mentions no character names whatsoever. It also boasts some of the greatest car chases/crashes ever comitted to celluloid. Isabelle Adjani is a fox in it too, although she never smiles either.
I used to think I was an 80's kid but i'm fast becoming a lover of all things 70's.
I'd also like to add that Ryan O'Neal would have made a great Swan in The Warriors, his performance in this is very similar to that of Michael Beck.
If you haven't seen it or haven't even heard of it, correct that fact immediately.

The Ghost (2010)

Another movie that came out to a huge praise. I however, completely missed it due to it's unappealing look. I did find the story very interesting and the performances were stellar, I just felt a bit let down by the ending. It all seemed a little pointless really. That may seem very harsh to say but it's just how I felt when the credits rolled. I still liked it enough to give it a reasonable score, just not enough to love it. I am pleased that Polanski is back though and look forward to more films, if and when his personal life is sorted out.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Fired Up! (2009)

Hmm... I avoided this film like the plague due to the reviews it received upon release. I've only given it the time of day after loving Will Gluck's latest effort Easy A so much. Whether my expectations were so low that I expected to see a Date Movie type film, I don't know. What I do know is that it wasn't too bad. I rarely laughed which is a major flaw to a comedy but it was harmless enough not to hate. If you have a spare hour and a half on a Sunday, you could do a lot worse than this.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Treasure of the Four Crowns (1983)

Well, I really don't know where to start. The opening 10-15 minutes of this film are completely bat shit insane. No dialogue, just pure action in a house of horrors. Look out for the pterodactyl on strings too, wow! It does exactly what i'm sure it was intended to do, have fun. Tony Anthony (great name) is great and I can only recommend really if you are looking for a fun movie to watch with some friends.