Reviews written by registered user
|17 reviews in total|
Illtown's a startling 180 from the documentaryish "Laws of Gravity", from the same director and much of the same supporting cast...this is a dreamlike, strangely structured film about drug dealers that sets up an expectation of a typical revenge flick, but by the end we don't quite know who's the "good" guys or the "bad" guys, and despite the narrative setting up one set of characters as the protagonists, the antagonist ends up in many ways as sympathetic, if not more, for this is a film that doesn't fill us in on the backstory for some time...watch it for Corrigan's great monologue about his wife three quarters of the way in, just one of many great moments in this truly weird, violent, unsettling film...
This is definitely a case of people running around saying a film is terrible they've probably never seen. Upon release, the film was trashed, probably partially because of its type of cinema being out of favor (this was Scorsese/Altman time) and because of people's annoyance with Bogdanovich and Shepard on talk shows and such. But with time as a distancer, watch this film and dare to tell me it isn't superiour to "Everyone Says I Love You" in every way! I LIKE "Everyone says..." but this film, with its cinematography, and its use of Cole Porter tunes to advance the plot, while uneven, is much more ambitious than the charming Allen film. If you didn't like the Allen film, you may well not like this -- but Reynolds, Shepard, Eileen Brennan singing, which got trashed upon release, is just as good as Roberts, Norton et al warbling in "Everyone." This is a funny, unique work that does occasionally suffer from the cutes -- but so what? Polly Platt, Bogdanovich's ex-wife, always talks about this as one of his "he's no good after he left me" examples, but at least his musical retains its music (she's one of the creators of James L. Brooks' "I'll Do Anything"). This film is a target from so many for no good reason. I recommend this and "Nickelodeon", another overlooked Bogdanovich picture, to be rediscovered as the just plain good films they are!
An intense, dark action drama with unusually rich support from Casey, Keith, et. al, many of whom get the best roles of their careers and run with it. The film is oddly shaped -- often the action slows down just to let the characters get caught up in odd but well-done seemingly improved dialogues -- during the stakeouts, almost all of the "Machine" get caught up in perfectly delivered humorous monologues -- and Reynolds the director deserves mucho credit for having Reynolds the star step back and give them room. And unlike most action films, you really get to like the characters, which makes the 2nd half, when their various destinies good and bad unfold, unusually affecting. The combination of character development, brutal violence, a jazzy soundtrack (Tarantino must be a fan -- watch this & then "Jackie Brown" and you'll see what I'm talking about)make this occasionally flawed film (The bad guys are a bit melodramatic) one of the better modern cop films, and in my mind superior to many of the overrated modern noirs such as "Body Heat" & such.
Sure, it's highly derivative of "Assault On Precinct 13", but that was pretty derivative of "Rio Bravo..." Not to say this is as good as that, but it's aim is a little lower -- it wants to give you 85 minutes or so of fast-paced mayhem populated with beatiful women, and it works! The lead detective, Stacey Randall, is well-directed and really cute, and her give-and-take with partner Leo Rossi (a talented character actor) works well, adding weight to key plot developments. Don't get me wrong, it's completely silly -- but you can watch the whole thing with a smile on your face, especially when the women go in the basement of the house they're trapped in and it looks twice as large as the house itself -- but the assault sequences, while unrealistic, are well-edited and involving. For genre fans, worth a look, and another reminder that when Wynorski's on his game he makes flicks right up there with the best of the 70's Cormans made by Dante, etc.
I'm just throwing in this review to show that I'm not crazy -- I like a lot of Wynorski's work -- Deathstalker 2, Chopping Mall, Against the Law are fast-paced and highly enjoyable -- just to prove I'm not blind, I have to mention this, along with some Shannon Tweed "Body Chemistry 3 or 4 or something", are the lousy ones -- I've got nothing against drawn-out sex sequences, but Julie Strain's breasts are so unnatural looking you can't help but stare at them - which may be the desired effect but I didn't enjoy staring at them -- and several members of this cast seem depressed or disinterested -- The "erotic thriller" was the worst thing to happen to low-budget flicks ever, and thank God that their day has more-or-less done.
An unusually straight-faced actioner played by a cast and filmed by a director who obviously took the material seriously. Imperfect, as is to be expected from a film clearly shot on a tight budget, but the drama is involving-- it's one of those films that when it gets repeated ad nauseum on Cinemax 2 or More Max or whatever they call it, you end up watching 40 minute blocks when you're supposed to be going to work. Along W/ "Deathstalker 2", "Chopping Mall", and "The Assault", a reminder that Wynorski is a much more talented director than many of his fellow low-budget brethern, who has a real ability to pace a genre film, when he actually's interested in the material (i.e., don't bother watching any of his Shannon Tweed flicks with a 3 or a 4 after the title!) Actors who've had too little to do recently (Mancuso, Ford, even Gary Sandy for chrissakes) really put their all into some of their best roles in years -- as for Grieco, he has the right look, although his acting is a bit one-note -- it's clear his character is supposed to be self-destructing throughout the film, but Grieco doesn't quite convey it. I checked IMDB and I see the writer also wrote "Sorority House Massacre 2" & "Dinosaur Island" for the director -- both minor classics in their own rights, but obviously "silly" Roger Cormon-like Cinema -- this one's more like some of the better Jonathan Demme and Jonathan Kaplan B-pictures of the 70's -- giving you the exploitation element but offering involving drama at the same time -- a real step forward. Not "Citizen Kane," and the comic final moments are a bit disruptive, but a well-written, character-driven above-average straight-to-video actioner. Small achievements like this should not be overlooked when they come along, which is rare enough (as I was reminded as I tried to sit through an Albert Pyun monstrosity called "Heatseeker" the other night -- this low-budget stuff isn't as easy as it looks -- but that's another story!)
Clearly a film shot on a weekend, this girls-in-peril flick clearly has an element of self-parody involved -- every cliche is present, and the pains the filmmakers go to to keep the women from just leaving the damned house is inspired! What makes it a schlock masterpiece is the straight-faced performance of Zoran Hochstetter as the Detective on the case who likes to sit in strip bars and ruminate -- I checked the database -- the guy's a cinematographer (!!!!) -- he should get an Oscar! Well, maybe not, because the true inspiration of this film is the character of Orville Ketchum (great name), the strange next-door neighbor who might be a homicidal maniac or a misunderstood anti-hero -- the actor Pete Spellos has a great straight face and pulls off this insane character. I also rented "Hard to Die," which is a sequel to this and is almost as fun....makes a good double-feature with "Hollywood Boulevard" or "The Great Texas Dynamite Chase" or one of those Claudia Jennings flicks of the 70's...
This is one cool flick! Sure, lots of stock-footage -- sure, Deathstalker 1, 3, 4, are all terrible -- but, I promise you, this is a square deal! A funny, knowing, fast-paced comedy that's a hell of a lot better than "Krull" or whatever that friggin' Kevin Sorbo flick that was rightfully ignored in '98 -- Terlesky is the perfect anti-hero, and his fight with LaZar (from "Beneath the Valley of the Dolls" 'enuff said!) is actually taken seriously and is really well done. Oh, and they make Gabrielle look great (which is easy) and give a funny performance (which perhaps wasn't quite so easy). Genre fans give it a look -- makes a perfect double feature w/ "Conan The Barbarian!"
Nicely mounted flick, with near-astonishing performances from the 2 girls playing Winslett's daughters...a film that may seem to wander from time to time. But by the end you realize it's hit all its targets and made a memorable impression.
"Legionnaire", which did not receive theatrical release in the U.S., is good bit more ambitious than typical Van-Damme fair, following his good-in-theory but spotty-in-execution utilization of top Hong Kong action directors. The film turns out to be a fairly typical, predictable war flick, but in relation to the typical action film of the last 20 years it is quite refreshing, and to people none too familiar with classic war films, it could be even more compelling. The film has a good action finale, avoids gratuitous martial arts, has solid production values....a cliched script is a disappointment, but this is a genuine 3 steps up from "Cyborg" and such, and V.D. should be proud of the film, regardless of box office, which the common film goer is far too interested in these days......
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