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Cole Justice (1989)
"A man without dreams is nothing"
Carl Bartholomew obviously had a dream to star in his own movie, and as it was pointed out in "Fitzcarraldo", "A man without dreams is nothing". "Cole Justice" is one man's dream brought to reality, and it is an entertaining journey into the realm of "spaghetti westerns" transposed into modern day small town Oaklahoma. It should be mentioned that the blending of genre's, western and vigilante justice is totally acceptable. The film is not dull, because it is a fresh idea that maintains interest. Sure it's low budget gets in the way, and the actors are amateurish, but Bartholomew's passion shows in every scene, and for that reason alone I liked it very much. - MERK
Maneaters Are Loose! (1978)
Loose women and loose tigers ......
"Maneaters Are Loose" might actually be a pretty good TV movie from 1978, however I cannot recommend seeking out the overpriced "Wild Eye" DVD. The colors have been degraded to a sepia tone throughout, with badly blurred images. The sound is far better than the picture. As for the movie itself, it is a blending of community characters, a pornographic peddling preacher played by Harry Morgan, local laid back sheriff, Tom Skerrit, pompous ass official, G.D. Spradlin, and big game hunter, Steve Forrest. The tiger attacks really don't get going until well after the film's half way point, and the ending is unexpected. - MERK
The Lost Tribe (1983)
New Zealand thriller with a twist .......
"Lost Tribe" is one of those films that for most of it's running time seems adrift, with the audience having no clue as to where things are heading. This actually works to the movie's advantage since curiosity keeps you watching. The screenplay could have used some tightening, and the clairvoyant little girl could have been been written out entirely. Her narration is not only distracting, but unnecessary. Strengths are the fine location photography, spooky atmosphere, and an ending that is somewhat of a mind bender. Overall, I can't say I was thrilled by "The Lost Tribe", but it is different enough to warrant a watch........ - MERK
Unbelievable acting by a terrific cast .....
"Boardwalk" is what I would call a blessed movie. It is blessed with a cast that simply excels. Ruth Gordon and Lee Strasberg as David and Becky Rosen work together like they have been married fifty years, even though it's just in the movie. This is Lee Strasberg's opportunity to make an acting statement and he does so with a huge exclamation point. I also must mention that "Boardwalk" is one of the most effectively edited films I have ever seen. What may seem abrupt to some is in reality moving things along, otherwise you would have a story that might be too long. The Coney Island locations are another plus, remembering in this wonderful film a bygone era. All I can say is see this movie, and don't forget to bring plenty of tissues. - MERK
Odd mix of ethnic and toilet humor .....
The initial idea is terrific. A Jew teaching a Gentile how to act Jewish in order to date a 'Jewish Princess". The execution however is a real mixed bag of ethnic jokes and toilet humor. Ethnic stereotypes are purposely on parade, and the cast gives it their all. John Lovitz as the "Embroidary King" and Peter Stormare as the beer drinking, moose hunting redneck are funny. However the sexual jokes mostly fall flat, except for the circumcision scenes. While most of the funnier lines are in the trailer, there are still enough outrageous situations to make viewing worthwhile. Fans of reluctant groom type comedies should find enough here to like. - MERK
The only movie I ever watched that made me tired .......
For sure I have watched countless movies that made me sleepy, but "Raw Courage" is the first one that made me feel tired. Three long distance runners running and running and running through the New Mexico desert. Their flight was initiated by M. Emmet Walsh and his ruthless brigade of weekend mercenaries playing war games. After one of the runners is killed, it's a battle of wits (the runners) vs. the nitwits (the brigade). While I enjoy these variants on "The Most dangerous Game", I would have preferred more character development and less running. This is certainly watchable, but expect nothing more than a relentless desert chase. - MERK
Cas & Dylan (2013)
Looking to bury a dead frozen animal kept in a cooler I prefer "Rubin & Ed "..
I mean as bizarre as "Rubin & Ed" starring Crispin Glover and Howard Hesseman is, at least it is not boring. "Cas & Dylan" on the other hand is a road trip that goes nowhere. The acting is strong by Richard Dreyfuss, but the screenplay meanders and quite frankly is sleep inducing. The subject matter borders on depressing, and suicide never has been dealt with very successfully, except perhaps in "The End", which is a hilarious "black comedy" starring Burt Reynolds and Dom DeLuise. "Cas & Dylan" has neither the outrageousness of "Rubin & Ed", or the "dark comedy" of "The End". So the movie really just sort of drifts along to the end. - MERK
Take a Hard Ride (1975)
"Spaghetti western" light ....
What immediately separates "Take a Hard Ride" from the multitude of post Sergio Leone "spaghetti westerns" is the preponderance of American actors in this film. Very little dubbing is the first thing you notice. The actors mouths are actually speaking. Second, for Lee Van Cleef admirers this is a real treat. He has lots of screen time, with plenty of his patented menacing closeups. Jim Brown and Fred Williamson play off each other quite well, and the entire cast seems to be enjoying their work. Though cartoon-like at times, this is easily overlooked in favor of the humorous touches. Though not exactly a parody of the fast fading "spaghetti western", "Take a Hard Ride" approaches the western in a light and fast moving manor. This is without a doubt one of the better "spaghetti westerns". - MERK
Fear Is the Key (1972)
Rarely seen twister of a film .......
This is one of those movies with a mammoth "I did not see that coming" moment. The set up for this startling revelation is quite convincing, and Barry Newman's motivation for revenge is overwhelmingly strong. Unheralded character actor, Dolph Sweet, steals every scene he is part of. Ben Kingsley with hair takes some adjusting to, but his acting is solid. Unfortunately John Vernon was not convincing as the head bad guy, perhaps because I can't get by thinking of him as Dean Wormer in "Animal House". The movie itself is extremely uneven, with a grabber opening, followed by a prolonged car chase that seems like it was yanked right out of a "Smokey and the Bandit" movie. The actual plot is murky and difficult to follow, but is pulled together quite well in the showdown conclusion. Recommended for the unusual twisted plot and some solid performances. - MERK
Into the Grizzly Maze (2015)
"Bearly" watchable .......
Despite the presence of talented actors Billy Bob Thornton and Scott Glenn, this hunted by a bear in the woods scenario, is so familiar there is little here of interest. If you have seen "The Edge" then you will know you are on well trodden territory, only difference being that "The Edge" is a great film, while "Into the Grizzly Maze" is not. Billy Bob Thornton easily has the best line in the movie " Makes no difference to a hungry bear if it's a logger or a "tree hugger", they all taste the same." The writing is weak, the editing poor, and all of the characters underdeveloped. Not recommended and "bearly" watchable. - MERK