Reviews written by registered user
Mr White Keys

5 reviews in total 
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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A flesh-filled romp through the Wild, Wild West., 14 October 2000

In movie terms, "bad" isn't necessarily an indictment on a film. Indeed, "bad films" has really grown into a genre unto itself. My friends and I will gladly sit down, crack open a few beers, and chuckle at "bad" d-grade films until we're either blue in the face or out of beer. I'm glad to report that "Takin' it Off Out West" is a supremely enjoyable d-grade movie, and I would recommend it to any fan of the bad movie genre.

Ostensibly, the number one requirement to guarantee the success of a movie such as this, is to show as much flesh as can be squeezed into the paper-thin plot. In "Takin' it Off Out West", this criteria is satisfied early and often. Surprisingly however, the stereotypical characters actually shoot off some funny one-liners, which make the film actually enjoyable to watch.

To write much more in this comment would be to over-intellectualise what is intended to be a simple and corny movie. Watch it with a few mates and you'll have a good time. For its modest purpose, it's a pretty good movie.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The blues might be back, but the humour and plot aren't!, 26 December 1998

The Blues Brothers, original version, was an unsurpassed cult classic. It made the quantum leap from the screen to peoples' everyday lives - you could safely go to any party and at least one person would know every line of dialogue by heart. I am one of such people, and I have subjected my friends, on every possible occasion, to hours of unmitigated Blues trivia.

Sadly, like almost every other sequel, the Blues Brothers 2000 falls by the wayside. For a start, what Blues Brothers movie could be complete without John Belushi? It's like trying to start a car without an engine. Although John Goodman does an admirable job, and although he doesn't play the part of Elwood, the devotee can sense a vacuum throughout the whole film, as if to say, "This isn't right - something is missing." One also asks the question, "what would John Belushi make of this?"

To be fair, the first Blues Brothers didn't have much in terms of plot. It did not have important subtextual significance, nor was it rich in character development. What it did have though, and what made it so popular, was its combination of genuine humour, wonderful music and ground-breaking car chases. When it was made, it was one of the most expensive films produced, and it cemented Dan Ackroyd's career. Blues Brothers 2000 though, will appeal only to the most diehard Blues fans.

The movie's chase plot is simplistic and almost identical to its predecessor, only more idiotic in parts. The comedy is not as sharp nor as abundant as in the original movie. The one main redeeming feature about the Blues Brothers 2000 though - the one thing that saved it from being a sheer failure - was the music.

Never before in a feature film have I witnessed a more impressive, talented and prominent group of musicians. From Aretha Franklin to B. B. King; James Brown to Dr John, and not to mention the sensational (albeit ageing) Blues Brothers Band. This film is a wonderful celebration of song, and only the most stubborn, unspirited human being could fail to enjoy the soundtrack. This is blues at its best, with dashes of many other forms of music. Indeed, it is the music that holds The Blues Brothers together.

Fans of the original film may feel cheated and upset, and I know a good many people who have refused to see the Blues Brothers 2000 on ethical grounds - "It can't be as good as the original," they say, "so I want to keep my Blues Brothers faith pure". To these people I would give the following advice - see the film for the music, dancing and car chases, and keep your finger ready on the fast forward button for the sections in between.

6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
An abysmal excuse for entertainment., 30 October 1998

"South Beach Academy" is one of the few movies that I am embarrassed to admit having seen. I write these comments not to provide any intellectual critique of the film (for there was literally very little to comment on), but to serve as a warning for any fool just about to go and spend a couple of bucks renting it on video.

Only diehard Corey Feldman fans would ever go near this stinker, and even they are bound to be disappointed. Feldman is a genuinely talented actor with a sharp wit, and one can sense throughout this film that even he is taking it all with a grain of salt. He delivered sensational performances in "Stand By Me" and "The Goonies" (among others), and in a way it is sad to see him in this woeful exploitation movie.

The plot is too simple and idiotic for words, so I will not deal with it here. Indeed, there simply isn't much plot to comment on. Something about a beach and a volleyball game - I couldn't elaborate, because it seemed that I was dropping in and out of a coma while watching the film. The acting from everyone apart from Feldman is wooden (and Feldman is brought down a couple of notches as a result), and the only laughs I got from this show were at the expense of the actors themselves, (if such a term is allowable).

I'm an admirer of the 'bad film' genre, and "South Beach Academy" is certainly a bad film, but its problem is that it tries a little too hard to be a good film. The characters are confused - they don't know whether to act or to ham, and they end up doing a curiously amusing combination of the two.

But let's get one thing straight - the film contains scene after scene of gratuitous nudity, which seems to be its main selling point. The question here is - why bother? Dozens of this type of film have already been produced, and if you're really into that sort of thing, just find a movie on late-night television - there's bound to be one showing soon.

I am angry and frustrated that I lost a couple of valuable hours of my life watching this rubbish. If this review dissuades any potential viewer from renting the video, I shall be a happy man.

Oliver! (1968)
24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
A truly wonderful musical for the whole family., 25 October 1998

"Oliver!" brings to the screen a worthy adaption of Lionel Bart's Broadway musical of the sixties. The combination of a superb cast, wonderful music and breathtaking choreography mean that the film loses nothing in its translation from the stage. To this day it remains one of the stand-out musical adaptions in a dwindling field.

Although the conservative Dickens fanatics may thumb their noses at various liberties taken on the original plot of "Oliver Twist", they should observe that "Oliver!" has recreated most of the spirit intended by Dickens. While primarily a musical comedy, "Oliver!" certainly has a dark undercurrent, thanks to the skillful direction of Carol Reed and the sinister acting of Oliver Reed (playing Bill Sikes). Dickens was essentially a talented satirist, who constructed his characters to convey a moralistic view on Victorian society. "Oliver!" conveys much of the sadness and desperation of the original novel.

For anyone not acquainted with the famous storyline, the film treats of a young orphan, Oliver Twist, and follows his journey from a paupers' workhouse to the rough-and-tumble city life of London. He is spotted and introduced into a gang of thieves, led by the crafty and cunning Fagin. What follows for Oliver is an introduction to the art of picking pockets; the methods of justice dispened by Mr Fang the magistrate; the cruelty of Bill Sikes the notorious thief, and the compassion of Nancy, Bill's mate; the kindness of Mr and Mrs Brownlow. Such an adventure for such a small boy!

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why this Oscar-winning film is such a success. On one hand there is the incredible performances of a gifted cast - Ron Moody being nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Fagin, and young Jack Wild's mature performance as the Artful Dodger. Mark Lester plays Oliver, and depicts all the elements of innocence and vulnerability as could be imagined in the young boy. Harry Secombe backs up the cast as the beadle, Mr Bumble.

Perhaps the best aspect of the film though is the music itself. Lionel Bart has done a masterful job in writing the original score, and you may expect to find yourself singing the songs for weeks after watching "Oliver!". Here are the evergreens, "Reviewing the Situation", "You've Got to Pick a Pocket Or Two", "Who Will Buy", and the beautiful and touching "Where is Love?". The list of classic tunes goes on and on, and if nothing else, young people today should watch the film purely for its educational value - to be introduced to the sweet music of yesteryear, and to see that a film's qualities extend beyond the realms of special effects.

"Oliver!" will rightfully go down as a classic film of its time, and with any luck will keep its place as a family favourite, for years to come. Its warmth and familiar music make it a must-see.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A unique look at the question of identity., 25 October 1998

Don Juan DeMarco is in many ways an under-rated film. Its strengths lie not in the plot or narrative per se, but rather in the way it treats the question of personal identity, against the backdrop of mental illness.

The film begins with a caped Don Juan (Depp) threatening to throw himself of an advertising billboard, but is eventually talked out of it by Dr Jack Mickler (Brando), a psychiatrist about to go into retirement. Mickler is intrigued by this person, and takes him under professional supervision. The psychiatrist is intrigued with this caped character, and wants to find out exactly who he is. And that is the central question of the whole movie - who exactly is this person who claims to be Don Juan DeMarco, the greatest lover in the world?

In fact, this Don Juan seems to be so like his fictitious counterpart that Mickler becomes absorbed in his patient's story. During therapy, amazing tales emerge of a debonair, charming individual with an exotic and colourful past. Don Juan is depressed because although he has wooed hundreds of women all over the world, he has been rejected by the only one he has ever truly loved. Complete with an accent and dark good looks, Don Juan could easily be right out of the pages of fiction.

While his patient's story is unfolding at work, we also follow an interesting parallel regarding Mickler's domestic life. We can see an interesting effect observed by very few Hollywood films, and that is not the effect of therapist on patient, but the effect of patient on therapist.

Depp and Brando are talented actors who take their parts admirably, and are backed up by a strong supporting cast. This combination is dynamic in advancing the central theme of the whole film - that of identity. Throughout the film, the characters develop a rich understanding, and the end of the film is both touching and memorable.

Blended with genuine humor, very human emotions and a subtle but unmistakable poke at the established Western tradition of psychiatry, "Don Juan DeMarco" is a splendid and compelling film. Any film fan will find what they are looking for here, from the lover of romance to the comedy connoisseur, or those who are just looking for something a little different from the norm. To anyone who has ever loved or been loved, I would heartily recommend this film.