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Richard Thorncroft is a has-been British TV actor who used to be famous in the late 1980's for playing the titular and charismatic lead role in the Isle of Man detective show Mindhorn, a character with a Robotic eye that could literally see the truth.
Richard has an unexpected opportunity to reignite his career though when a delusional criminal calling himself The Kestrel starts terrorising the Isle of Man and, having an extremely unhealthy obsession with the show, demands to talk only to Mindhorn.
Relishing a chance for publicity, Richard dons his robotic eye, aggravates the police with his method acting, and tries to rekindle an old romance.........
I think to appreciate the film just that little bit more, you really have to be of a certain age when these awfully cheesy police shows were rife on the T.V. back in the eighties. Granted, the U.K. never had anything as over the top as Mindhorn, but shows like Dempsey and Makepeace, C.A.T.S eyes, and Lovejoy were very tongue in cheek.
You could really imagine Mindhorn being a staple of Saturday night T.V right after the football results were read out at five in the afternoon, while all the family were sitting having their tea.
But I wonder just how many celebrities who made it big very quickly and then tried to make it big in Hollywood and failing miserably does Barratt reference? The obvious ones are Coronation Street's own Chris Quentin who famously played 'reporter 2' in Robocop 2, or Ali Osman from Eastenders who went there, came back, and co-starred in Carry On Columbus.
And then there's Robert Lindsay, but he came back and made My family.
It's a truly wonderful concept, and there are times when the film is laugh out loud funny, especially when Simon Callow makes an appearance. But Thorncroft doesn't really feel like an original character, as at times he reminded me of David Brent, and even Alan Partridge.
But the film never outstays it's welcome, and Barratt is self deprecating enough to make Thorncroft funnier than he should be.
But if you find the first ten minutes utterly hilarious, especially the Mindhorn opening credits, you'll find lots to love about this.
Has a career been snatched?...
When her boyfriend dumps her, Emily persuades her ultra-cautious mother to accompany her on a holiday to Ecuador.
At Emily's insistence, the pair seek out adventure, but suddenly find themselves kidnapped.
When these two very different women are trapped on this wild journey, their bond as mother and daughter is tested and strengthened while they attempt to navigate the jungle and escape......
I was really surprised when I saw the score on IMDb for this film. I'm no fan of Schumer, I thought that Trainwreck was just that, but is was really curious as to what coaxed Hawn into appearing in a film for the first time in fifteen years. After all, Kurt has a couple of films that are doing reasonably well at the moment.
And surprisingly, it isn't as terrible as you'd think. It's pretty short, and it gets right to the point of the story.
Yes, Schumer plays the abhorrent American yet again, but she is just about bearable in this, but that's probably thanks to the utter nonsensical supporting cast that pepper the film with some rather redundant characteristics.
We have Wanda Sykes and Joan Allen as some ex Special Ops, and they do nothing to the film but provide foresight when they first meet the two leads. They are in it for a little more than three scenes, and they are an ordeal.
Then we have the stay at home son, who has some mental health disorder that we are supposed to find funny, again, providing nothing to the narrative apart from a little disdain.
And then there's Hawn.
I don't know what she has been doing for the last fifteen years, but she's lost her mojo and then some. I was expecting some neurotic type performance ala Bird On A Wire, but she oddly seems redundant, even when danger is lurking.
I didn't laugh once, but there are a couple of lines that made me slightly smile.
So it's by no means a bad film, but it looks good, and there are a few moments that just about salvage the rubbish.
I'm Mary Poppins Y'all......
There's always a problem with that difficult second album, when the first was such a fresh take on the powerhouse/sometimes trying super/comic book hero genre that has literally taken over Hollywood since 2008.
The first GOTG was original, genuinely funny, and had a lot of heart. Plus it finally gave Howard The Duck the box office hit he'd been waiting for for nearly thirty years.
So Gunn was going to have to do something special to usurp his original.
And has he?..........no he hasn't.
GOTG VOL.2 is still a vibrant, colourful piece of cinema, but it loses its way in the second act,thanks to Gunn trying to emulate James Cameron's trope of making the nuclear family a pivotal point of his narrative.
Yes, it's great that we finally discover Quills origins, and Russell is truly wonderful as Ego, looking like a cross between Michael McDonald and Barry Gibb, but during this pivotal part of the plot, the rest of the guardians are given very little to do.
Gamora feels like a spare part in this film, she is either a thorn in Quills side, or an angel on his shoulder, and does very little else. Drax has become more of a silly comic relief this time, rather than unintentional as he was in the first film, spending much of the second act being detrimental to Mantis. Rocket Raccoon does a little better, he is one of the funniest things in the film, but again, apart from his acid tongue and finding Yondu, he's also sidelined.
So thank heavens for Yondu and Groot. Yondu plays such an important role to the whole story, that he could almost be a primary character, and he shares some wonderful scenes with Groot, especially the hilarious scene where he is trying to get Groot to find something from a draw.
Stallone pops up in an extended cameo, and when we first meet him, you are thinking to yourself 'what's the point of him being in it?' But it all makes sense in the end.
There are some wonderful set pieces, the escape through the asteroid field is a highlight, and the film is book ended by some really standout action scenes, even though the finale reminded one of The Mummy.
So all in all, it's not a bad film by any means, the scene shared by Quill and Yondu is very touching, but you can't help but think that this could have been so much more.
And to those moaning about five stingers in the credits, it made the credits go faster for me, even though I kept asking myself 'Why is Goldblum's character from Thor: Ragnarok featured in a picture?'
And it was good to see Howard again.....
Less is more......
Commercial spaceship Nostromo intercepts a distress SOS from a distant moon. The seven-member crew are woken up from hyper sleep and the ship subsequently descends on the moon.
While exploring the moon, a three-member team discover a derelict spaceship and chamber inside it containing eggs.
When a team member goes too near the egg the parasite inside the egg attacks him, rendering him unconscious.
After a little while the parasite dies and his host wakes up seemingly unharmed.
Everything returns back to normal - but not for long.......
Alien deserves all the plaudits it's received in almost its forty years of release, it's a relentless ride, Scott has made something that changed the Sci-Fi genre in a way that nobody could have expected, and it paved the way for so many copycats, but none have even came close to the taut, claustrophobic feel we get through it's running time.
Having such a small cast helps the film, and the characters, we learn so much about them, and begin to actually care for them, that it becomes more than a 'who dies next' horror film, you really begin to feel empathy for them, even though it's clear that many are imminently meeting their demise.
And this is where the film excels, it doesn't show the Xenomorph fully right until the final act, and this makes the tension even more unbearable. Even though camera angles are predictably placed so you expect something to appear behind a character, you only see brief glimpses, and this is used to wonderful effect, especially when Kotto meets his maker.
The practical effects are wonderful, and makes one wonder why they had to use CGI in the later films, Gigers creation is one of the most fantastical beings ever created for cinema.
The cast are wonderful, and as always, that scene in the mess where Hurt decides to 'spill the beans' is still one of the greatest pieces of cinema, even though the phallic metaphors are rife throughout.
This film will always stand the test of time, and even though it's spin offs and sequels never quite make the impact of this, it's legacy is wonderful.
She's the monster, I'm the robot.....,
Gloria is out-of-work who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown.
When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, Gloria gradually comes to the realisation that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon.
As events begin to spiral out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world......
It's the age old tale of a hometown girl who moves back to her humbling beginnings and her metaphorical demons become literal. The only thing is, they only come to fruition when she is in a certain place at a certain time.
The trailers were very deceptive in advertising this as an all out comedy. In fact, the film is nothing more than a 'Mumblecore' film with some cut scenes of monsters fighting.
Take away the monsters and this would be the same film, but the film would focus more on alcoholism and the effects of withdrawal when your intake goes far beyond that of the recommended daily units advised.
So the majority of the film is the cast sitting in a closed bar, drinking and saying a lot of improvised dialogue. Hathaway and Sudiekis are good, but their past and the rationale for there behaviour is never fully explained, only hinted at.
Dan Stevens pops up as the Ex-boyfriend, who throws her out and then starts calling her to make sure she is okay, another pointless sub-plot that never gets fully explained.
I'm sure somewhere in the boring narrative, there is a warning about the dangers of excess, as there are a few times that Hathaway does suffer from short term memory, but that is explained rather flimsily as the times when she is elsewhere occupied.
Maybe the monsters are a metaphor for Korsakoff dementia, but either way, it's very boring.
Maybe a few beers would help it to be more entertaining?
Rules Don't Apply (2016)
Room service applies.......
Small-town beauty queen and Baptist Marla Mabrey, under contract to Howard Hughes , arrives in Los Angeles with her mother.
At the airport, she meets her driver, Frank Forbes, only two weeks on the job and also from a religiously conservative background.
Their attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test but also defies Hughes' number one rule...........
No employee is allowed to have an intimate relationship with a contract actress.
The plot and narrative may be scattershot and not the most cohesive, but Beatty has crafted a beautiful film about the self realisation of coming to terms with age, and not having one important person in your life who you can be intimate with.
The romance part of the film is pretty interesting, with an outstanding performance from Collins, but whenever Beatty is on screen, you know just why the man is iconic as he is.
It's very humbling to know that because of his out put in the last twenty years, this may be the last film we ever see him in, after all, it's been a pet project for him for over thirty years, and ironically, the time-frame of the film is almost the same as when Beatty first made it in Hollywood.
The supporting cast are phenomenal, and it's a veritable who's who of Hollywood, new and old.
For a $25 million picture, it looks very grand, and I'm really surprised that the film had no academy recognition, and I'm even more baffled to its devastating box office.
Hopefully this will find a second home on home media, because it's a fascinating insight to tortured souls in Hollywood, and how the machine can make you the loneliest person on the planet, no matter how much money you have, or how many staff you have.
Walker, Texas Exorcist......
Shatter and Jackson are two Chicago police officers, investigating the brutal murder of a rabbi whom are summoned to Israel for questioning.
While they are in Israel they continue their investigation on some leads they have. After a while they begin to understand that they are trying to catch a supernatural being.
And if they don't do it fast something terrible will happen, like really bad special effects........
Cannon and Norris were always the perfect collaboration in the eighties, like the pound shop version of De Niro and Scorcese. So when this was announced as the last film that they would work together on, they wanted to make the last one just that little bit special.
So it's basically Chuck Norris versus Satan, and if that sounds like your cup of tea, wait until you meet Shatters partner, and Shatter's wardrobe.
This is Norris in the mid-nineties, and it's obvious he's trying to get down with the kids with his style. He has a really wonderful mullet, and his clothes are straight from the 'Don Johnson in Miami Vice' section of JC Penny's.
However, the are some major flaws in the film, and it's all down to the comic relief of his partner Calvin, played by someone called.........Calvin.
His portrayal is totally un-PC, and looking back on it, this chap must feel dreadful for really bringing down his ethnic culture. But it was the nineties, and everybody liked to laugh at self deprecating supporting actors.
Norris kicks and punches his way around Isreal, until his fight with the end of game bad guy whom looks like a cross between Nosferatu and Stephen Lang.
If the supernatural element wasn't there, this would be a very boring sub-standard action film, but seeing as it's Norris versus The Dark Lord, it has to be seen.
And the Arnie made End Of Days....
Street Knight (1993)
No one benefits from war, 8-ball......
Jeff Speakman returns as the chicken in a basket Van Damme after having a minor success with The Perfect Weapon.
Street Knight sees him as an ex-cop who quit the force following a botched hostage situation where he failed to rescue a young girl from the clutches of a token madman.
Ultimately, he's convinced to get back into the game when a damsel in distress asks for his help when a gangland attack finds a member of her family killed.
It's an atypical plot and narrative, but it's worth watching because it was Cannon films final production, and Speakmans last real chance at a cinematic career.
Let's just say that Speakman hasn't really been heard of in a very long time, and it's plain to see with this film, he cannot act for a toffee, and although he's a master of Ken-Po, he fights like a constipated water rat.
The Perfect Weapon worked because it had familiar faces from eighties action movies, and had a decent production value. This, is really cheap looking and feels rushed, the editing is pretty shocking in some scenes, and even though this comes from Cannon, the masters of eighties cheese and making Chuck Norris a household name, it's bad, even for them.
So the film consists of Speakman waking up with the sweats every other scene following night terrors of his incident, flash forward to a lethargic action scene, and him wafting his perfect mullet every couple of minutes.
It's pretty mundane for a Cannon film, there are no over the top elements that make their productions stand out for all the wrong reasons, it just plods along until the predictable finale.
It's a must for a Cannon completest, but others should avoid it like the plague.
Ich seh ich seh (2014)
But I can't see him......
In a lonesome house in the countryside lives nine-year-old twin brothers who are waiting for their mother.
When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before.
The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother. It emerges a struggle for identity and trust.........
What could have been a really good psychological thriller, is ruined by camera angles and mise en scene, because as soon a mother gets home, the twist is spoiled by these two crucial elements.
This alleviates any potential mystery that surrounds the mother, and the narrative arc between her and her children. If the makers had have been more careful with the script and position of the three main characters, this could have been a lot more tense for the audience, rather than them waiting for the predictable reveal.
Other than that, it's pretty solid stuff, the first two acts are creepy enough, with mother acting mysterious her gait and characteristics coming straight from Les Yeux Sans Visage, and the house being shadowed like The Others.
The final act goes down the torture porn route, and whilst it's not as visceral as an Eli Roth film, the fact that the act is being committed by a minor, makes the whole sequence highly unsettling.
So aside from the fact that the film literally gives the twist away as soon as mother gets home, the film has a good story and some wonderful cinematography, and the final third is pretty heartbreaking.
Sandy Wexler (2017)
His best in years.......
After his first two Netflix films were the most unfunny pieces of trash Sandler has made, I had no expectations for this release.
In all honesty, I am one of the few Sandler defenders who actually like the majority of his output, even films like Jack and Jill, That's My Boy, and Blended, while not the best films out there, have some redeeming factors to them.
Basically I'm not ashamed to say that I like Sandler, his films entertain me, even though they can be beyond silly, they offer me escapism.
But it's so easy to jump on the bandwagon and rejoice when his films flop.
Wexler is a totally different beast to his other movies. Channeling Dustin Hoffman, Wexler is one of the most sympathetic characters he has ever played, once you get over that awful voice he puts on.
Yes, he has all his friends in the film, and aside from the sub plot involving Nick Swardson's stunt artist, there is barely any slapstick
The film begins with vox pops from a load of famous faces, reminiscing about the first time they met Wexler, and although they comment on his eccentricities, they all have a lot of love for the character, which in turn happens to the audience come the end of the film.
Sandler and Hudson have amazing chemistry together, and there are some heartbreaking scenes, especially when he finally has the self realisation that he is stalling her career, rather than boasting it.
It's a sweet film, with some wonderful jokes regarding the nineties, and attention to detail is pretty awesome, for instance, the billboards for The Shadow and Timecop are only seen for a split second, but it makes the film feel very authentic.
People may baulk at this review, but obviously the man has a plethora of haters, hating for Hastings sake, but if you give this film a chance, you'll find that Sandler has really made the effort with this film, and it's his best in years.