Reviews written by registered user

Send an IMDb private message to this author or view their message board profile.

Page 1 of 27:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
261 reviews in total 
Index | Alphabetical | Chronological | Useful

Intelligent Desk-Set Near-Noir Thriller, 7 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Of the three motion pictures actor Dana Andrews starred in under the direction of Noir-Horror guru Jacques Tourneur, we'll cover two, CURSE OF THE DEMON and THE FEARMAKERS (sans the Western, CANYON PASSAGE)... So let's begin with the most obscure, and perhaps it is for a reason...

Very rare a film go after the "Peace at any price" groups even and especially the 1950's when not a (for example and unrelated to this particular movie) science- fiction flick played out without a hidden or not so subtle message against nuclear weapons – and FEARMAKERS is a reverse sermon in a vacuum, beginning with a low-budget, rushed version of patriotism about as obvious as Michael Rennie leaving Earth following his Martian State of the Union Address...

But enough of all that... FEAR is no space movie or a Film Noir despite one of that genre's signature leading men from LAURA, FALLEN ANGEL, BOOMERANG, DAISY KENYON, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS, and especially OUT OF THE PAST director Jacques Tourneur, who Andrews requested after the surprise success and worthy turnout of their first collaboration (reviewed below) the year before, CURSE OF THE DEMON...

Our heroic when tortured after being captured in Korea war-vet Andrews has a horrible fake-looking beard in the prologue – and thereafter flashbacks – and it's nice to see him all cleaned up and suited, back home, processed by the Army as sane (despite reoccurring dizzy spells), ready to dive back into work – his own business: A somewhat complicated operation that has a big surprise waiting, and it's no party...

At first viewing the plot runs in talky circles and depending on prior knowledge of the "Public Relations Business" of Public Opinion Polls, Consumer Analyses, Industrial Research, Census and Surveys, it really needs some paying attention to...

The movie does almost entirely through dialogue what Noir handles with guns and shadows, alleyways and romantic entanglements...

After finding out that, while imprisoned overseas, his business partner died in a car accident right after selling the company to a man so obviously crooked he'd need a spinal shoehorn to stand erect, Andrews spends the rest of the picture figuring things out... When he gets word at a restaurant that his new boss may have something to hide, it takes two conversations with two different men – both very similar except one really gets the ball rolling, involving a possible murder...

The pace picks up later as the plot clears, and it's not Andrews, looking much healthier and somewhat back to his 1940's dapper style than most of his other 50's B-Pictures, nor is it moon-faced beauty Marilee Earle as secretary/inside-gal Vivian that truly makes this flawed yet entertaining programmer shine...

Musician Mel Torme as office dweeb Barney Bond completely owns his scenes, which happen to be the most intriguing as they involve either Dick Foran as the gentleman heavy, or Vivian, or both – with Andrews playing a kind of parenthetical cat and mouse in-between, knowing the business better than anyone and realizing those otherwise kindhearted D.C. idealists are being used as pawns ("useful idiots"), selling their own in-pocket politician through the manipulation of public opinion: Thus, Mel Torme's Barney (foreshadowing Rick Moranis in GHOSTBUSTERS, only more mellow and subtle) knows almost as much as Andrews, and far more than Foran (aided by a big thug henchman), who uses the put-upon, spectacle-wearing underling to weasel back information – but what makes Torme's character stand-out also sets him over the edge, and in that, he eventually "chews up the scenery" yet in a wonderful b-movie fashion...

The dwarfish geek lusts for Dana's smitten Girl Friday, while feeling sorry for himself, with a shaky gun at one point, and don't expect a bombastic climax: FEARMAKERS, unlike most of Tourneur's more atmospheric, multi-layered ventures, is basically a Cold War Thriller's desk job. But how the papers are shuffled, as described smoothly by Andrews, is the key in this obscure vehicle that's much better the second or third time around.

Boomerang! (1947)
Contrived, Preachy & Manipulative... And That's The First Five Minutes, 25 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A Closeup on one of the witnesses coke bottle glasses. Another closeup on the feeble old obviously insane bum as one of the culprits in the ridiculously eclectic police lineup. The expressions of the shunned waitress that screams "I'm lying and just seeking revenge."

Scenes where townsfolk speak to each other which sound like a much too perfectly timed rehearsal. The politicians having a meeting while an idyllic putting green of a golf course sleeps in the background. Ed Begley pulling a gun, and thus making leading man Dana Andrews's role that much less mysterious and engrossing. Sam Levene, as usual, playing the perfectly wise "progressive" working man, who knows more than anyone with a wink, almost directed right at the audience. And a narrator that pours on the grim irony behind a pseudo-documentary template.

Boomerang is extremely disappointing, especially since it's a movie starring Cult Film Freak Cinema's favorite actor, Dana Andrews, and directed by one of my favorite directors, Elia Kazan, who hadn't yet met Marlon Brando i.e hit his stride, and became more subtle, and implied.

Idealistic is an understatement for this contrived Film Noir that's hardly a Film Noir. And that's the word to center on... The one connected to Under... Which is, Statement. This movie is not only making one, it's screaming like a wounded and abused banshee.

This is why Dana's usual director, Otto Preminger, hit it outta the ballpark with his masterpiece Anatomy of a Murder, by having all the characters ambiguous, and, unlike Boomerang, remaining realistic without having heroes and villains. Such characters should never be anywhere near a Courtroom Drama.

Anyhow: Dana Andrews did a good job and stayed tried and true despite starring in a movie that not only made up its mind from the start, but takes sides, one side... One-Sided, and beyond!

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Allen in the Family, 1 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"A fugitive is eating my chicken," sums up Woody Allen's entire streaming sit-com for Amazon Prime members, which, taking place in the "turbulent 1960's" and involving a renegade played by, of all people, Miley Cyrus, proves the Left Wing could very easily live their ultimate dream and finally rid the world of the Right altogether because, with the difference of your typical "Lazy Limousine Liberal" type or the registered Everyday Democrat verses the Underground Revolutionaries, changing the government through a voting booth or with a homemade bomb, they have enough to argue and debate on their very own without needing anyone to oppose them but themselves...

The only problem is, after a while, people who all believe in the exact same thing are just not that interesting (and the whole hippie culture thing is literally getting old)...

Not that Allen's character, a struggling has-been novelist trying to (ironically) pitch a TV series, doesn't have a few semi-funny lines, especially after rapid-firing quips like Edward G. Robinson handles a TommyGun. And his wife, played by SMALL TIME CROOKS scene-stealer Elaine May, is the more open-minded, polite, quirky moral-compass airhead Edith Bunker type to Woody's cynical Archie Bunker, and while ALL IN THE FAMILY is what CRISIS IN SIX SCENES is obviously influenced by, the main character doesn't have enough arguments to oppose this show's Meathead in Miley's political-ranting escaped-convict other than, "A fugitive is eating my chicken." Okay, folks, prepare to laugh your heads off: She eats his shrimp as well.

The perpetual bickering is just too forced, feeling like a reason for particular views and ideals to be discussed in the first place, and it's not all Miley's fault, despite the fact she's the easiest target to blame. Sure, the poor girl's not nearly a good enough actress to spout dialogue written by Woody Allen... But the other main side-character... a fat, lazy college boy friend-tenant, serving as a young-Woody type, falling hopelessly for the Far-Left babe and learning to worship Fidel Castro, liken to Allen and Louise Lasser in BANANAS... makes Hannah Montana seem like Annie Hall. And to spice things up, a fiancée is forced upon this guy's character from the very start to make a possible tryst with Cyrus more intriguing, but with these dullards as the subjects of possible romance, it just doesn't mesh... at all.

Meanwhile, in order to work as a binge-worthy serial, the only thing that's really "on the line," i.e. to keep the viewer interested, is the possibility of Woody and Elaine's characters getting caught for harboring a fugitive, and jailed. But at this point, they're both so old and frail, hardly able to move around comfortably, or spout their constant diatribes of neurosis, it's most likely the judge would let them off with sympathy. Proving that Risk is wasted on the young, and that Woody was much better when he had something to lose, and more than one limited actress to keep partially disagreeing with: and for three whole hours this time!

By the Sea (2015)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Let's Take A Closer Look... Have Patience..., 24 September 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Try to imagine if there was no murder in Alfred Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW – it would be a character-study of a handicapped voyeur, which couldn't go far without an eventual plot: a theme's conveyor belt that motion pictures cannot do without. Shocking, though, is the bizarre fact Jolie's monotone melodrama is somewhat painfully intriguing, thanks especially to a knee-high peephole in the spacious hotel room harboring bitter, lived-in marrieds Angelina and real life spouse Brad Pitt for a two-hour run-time that can often seem quite eternal. And yet, this kind of existential art-house purgatory could have been much longer – others of its kind, with far more experienced, celebrated directors behind the lens, have gone well over three hours, including another Pitt vehicle, Terrance Malick's self-indulgent saga TREE OF LIFE, which SEA is a fun and frolicking rodeo by comparison...

There's one highly effective quality right off the bat, which has been noted by every otherwise disparaging critic – the sea coast exterior landscape, strategically observed from the hotel room patio, glides out from a tree-dotted mountain into a heavenly oceanic milieu, as gorgeous as the disturbed leading lady who – as her husband makes like a writer's-blocked Hemingway in the downstairs bar, drinking – seems possessed with a lethargic combination of shame, guilt, doubt and hatred along with an obviously deep-felt and torturous problem she cannot speak of – in fact she doesn't say much at all save a few words here and there while hanging around, posing for a phantom camera, chain-smoking, popping pills and glancing into that convenient peephole where, on the other side, a slightly younger newlywed couple are making love or having bubbly conversations like... newlyweds...

It's all artistically shot, right down to the onlooker's P.O.V., showing the bottom half of the couple's busy bed as the top is revealed by a mirror. The earthy, skinny, stringy-long-blond-haired wife makes for an INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS mini- reunion in that film's genuine leading character, Mélanie Laurent, who wins first prize for visually representing SEA's era, the 1970's, which, set in a minimalist French locale with funky-smooth music highlighted by a rendition of Chopin's Piano 'Prelude' with lyrics, doesn't have to try very hard. But, most likely, what's not in the film provides a logical answer for having a contained story about two couples in two hotel rooms take place within another decade: No one's staring into hand-held phones or taking pictures with them. And when it comes down to it, these four eclectic human beings might as well be living on another planet...

Other than the downstairs barroom, any other location distracts from a strange and claustrophobic tether, locked onto the hotel room where, during one scene, wine pours extra-loudly into a glass – in this kind of narcissistic labor-of- love, it feels like every single moment has to mean something, which can be either thought-provoking or related to Friedrich Nietzsche's idiom about poets beating around the bush by "muddying the waters." In that case, BY THE SEA is a swamp...

And actually, there are five, not four, pivotal characters, counting sixty-something WAR HORSE French actor Niels Arestrup, resembling if Richard Harris looked more like son Jared with a touch of Rutger Hauer bringing the later-years Marlon Brando to mind – dogged by a "heavy" burden of tragedy, he provides more than wisdom to Pitt's perpetually buzzed, uninspired author. Actually, both the (relatively) young and old man give very natural, deadpan, world-weary performances: one was married to a woman he loved, who died a year earlier, and the other's wife, listless, hopeless and hanging about like a stunned giraffe on edgy, ineffective downers, refuses to touch him, or be touched...

At least during the first half that, after a slow buildup, subliminally begs the most important question: What exactly's ailing this sullen goddess (a theater actress has-been of some kind)? In a cinematic fashion liken to psychological suspense, horror or drama films from, ironically, the 1970's ala LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH and OPENING NIGHT... Jolie, unable to shake her proverbial demons, may go off at any given moment... or commit suicide or, sky's the limit...

But it's good news for Brad (and anyone half-asleep in the audience) when the couple start to actually get along, and the voyeur aspect becomes a shared hobby (which should, in the opinion of another peephole enthusiast, "Pass the time, not fill it"). The melancholy brooding is now replaced with a familiar theme that could eventually involve one of the two couples cheating. At this point, as jealousy mounts, things actually start to happen: But anyone who may have fallen into a morbid fascination during the arduous process of trudging through this enigmatic "foreign film" (where Pitt speaks entire scenes in French), the inevitable twist, as Jolie loudly reveals her "secret," is a giant letdown because, for better or worse, a vehicle like this works best in perfectly sullen, miserable silence.

17 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
They Don't Ruin It Like This Anymore, 15 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When word hit the streets Bill Murray would provide a cameo, the anticipated GHOSTBUSTERS reboot was rumored to be a sequel – nothing doing. Bill, the sarcastic cool dude who grounds the original, plays another version of "Dickless" here... True fans will get that reference and for newcomers, he's a complete jerk – but not the villain, by any means...

That title should go to the writers, Katie Dippold and Paul Feig. And yet as director, Feig provides some scary, suspenseful moments, almost as if he really, deep down, wanted to make a bonafide horror flick with a side-plate of comedy. And there are times when the four girl Ghostbusters geek-out with a genuine flow of scientific expository dialogue, especially Melissa McCarthy as Abby, a hybrid of Dan Aykroyd's soulful buried-lead and a cerebral Harold Ramis... Meanwhile, Kristin Wiig has the most to lose, at first, working at the same University where the original Ghostbusters were expelled. Uptight and anxious, she must adhere to the subtle goading of tomboy Kate McKinnon as Jillian, the token wild card who acts as if we know her character already. In fact, in many ways, Feig's GHOSTBUSTERS seems more like a dull sequel to a first (proverbial) venture that, like SPY and BRIDESMAIDS, actually worked...

But they really don't have much at risk (like Aykroyd's Ray, who took a Second Mortgage on his parent's house to get the ball rolling) and way too much time's spent with characters trying to be witty – who just aren't. This includes our main trio, so comfortable with each other they don't have to work in order to gel and/or smooth out any rough edges, and side-characters like THOR sex symbol Chris Hemsworth as the perfect looking yet vapid secretary along with Leslie Jones's Patty. While he reminds everyone "I'm great looking and don't act as such," she's a sassy expert on the history of New York City to aid the science-minded former- bullied Wiig and McCarthy, and yet their camaraderie leads to nowhere. And the foursome's rags to riches climb to be taken seriously – from finding a logo to perfecting weapons to landing their first gig hired by an uptight building manager – mirrors the Ivan Reitman directed comedy classic like THE FORCE AWAKENS did to STAR WARS: stalking the premise in an accidental yet intentionally contrived fashion (although not quite as much; and there's an evil ghost frying from an electric chair current, liken to the 1989 sequel).

The jokes, either in an overboard Judd Apatow style or your typical "polar opposite buddy banter," falls flat on top of a story that's almost intriguing, and hell, even somewhat original, leading to an overlong finale which, as you'd expect, seems downright blasphemous – then again, maybe it all is, or... was. Because it doesn't matter if bundles are made on the opening weekend; this reboot probably won't have legs – most of us remember the horribly flawed GHOSTBUSTERS II. In the case of the entire franchise, with an overall theme so outrageous and far-fetched, it's really something that needs to be perfected upon the first attempt, which 1984 was and 2016 ain't.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Did Hollywood Turn Their Punchlines into Heroes by Mistake?, 27 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Oh how much hope so many folks probably had for the potential of a political comedy/true life satire of epic proportions, but somehow, somewhere along the way, in a movie about a has-been legendary rocker, wanting to battle drug-taking hippies, planning and then having a secret meeting with one of the most hated Presidents ever, especially unforgotten in Hollywood, both Elvis Presley and Richard M. Nixon wind up looking... pretty damn cool, somehow...

Perhaps it's for the opposite reason that Eric Stoltz was fired from BACK TO THE FUTURE and replaced by Michael J. Fox...

The FUTURE makers needed a comic actor who could hit the right comic "marks." A mark is something not every actor can do in a comedic sense, and Michael Shannon, while speaking to Nixon about how the youths are really underground Communists; how television and drugs have made them hate the American flag; how he could actually disguise himself, like he did in a decade worth of films, to actually infiltrate the backstage touring with The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Grateful Dead and bust them right on the spot; and how he can use Kung Fu on lethal drug dealers...

Saying such crazy things and, especially moments where he delves into the loneliness of being a cardboard cutout that people use for their memories instead of the real person he truly is, opening up to the film's buried lead, Alex Pettyfer as Jerry Schilling, who Elvis feels is the only person who knows him...

Actually, it's during ANY scene of dialogue with Michael Shannon as Elvis that seems like NO JOKE at all, not even one of those subliminal nods or tongue in cheek jobs, poking fun at what does turn out quite funny in particular reactions by people around The King and his bizarre daydream. And Elvis Presley, despite yearning for an actual Federal Drug Enforcement Badge and going through a lot harder task in meeting with Nixon than what probably actually occurred, taking us through a groovy modern R&B style GET SHORTY scene-to-scene shuffling glide, seems about as real a person as he was before his fame... And that's the ticket...

Despite looking less like Elvis Presley than Kurt Russell or (for those with good memories) David Keith combined, Shannon, usually a dominating villainous type, wields that nefarious, intimidating mug that the real Presley... who was still handsome (and even "pretty") even in his later "mutton chop sideburn" years... had earned by his fame alone: in other words, Shannon, who takes some time believing... especially as young girls and random people go crazy at his very presence... winds up nailing the role during private moments so that his public persona means very little... And perhaps what the people see in Shannon's mesmerizing six-foot-plus, square-jawed menace is represented of what Elvis brought to any location he wound up in: Wouldn't a Universal Monster get the same reaction as a Music Legend?

And Hell, even times when he's saying absolutely nothing, the wheels are spinning inside a vulnerable man who could have been turned into pure cartoon without a great actor cast. Meanwhile, as Kevin Spacey seems the perfect fit being such a fantastically evil rags-to-riches President on HOUSE OF CARDS, he's terrific here, sure, especially his slow yield to Presley's chess-like movements within the Oval Office, turning what once was Dick's... from soda pop to candy... into his own. But like everyone else, the man simply follows Michael Shannon's lead, and what a lead it is.

29 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Short Road To A Long Nowhere, 31 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Will attempt not to spoil too much about this epic yet contained and intentionally claustrophobic Western by Quentin Tarantino, but that's after having to disclose it's only a Western in the Civil War time period, rural-rough location, dramatic score, and dusty, cut-throat characters. THE HATEFUL EIGHT is really a Mystery, and for the most part, could have been set in any century involving an eclectic roomful of people, and, as already known/shown in the Samuel L. Jackson-led expository trailers, somebody's not who they're supposed to be.

The first act overrides Tarantino's last venture simply by looking and feeling like we're really outdoors as opposed to a contrived exterior set, which DJANGO UNCHAINED, especially during the chain gang sequence following the opening credits, really seemed like. With gorgeous wide shots of snowy mountainous regions and a soundtrack by none other than Spaghetti Western guru Ennio Morricone, HATEFUL sounds like the real thing while you can genuinely feel the freezing cold as a stagecoach full of our central characters, including Kurt Russell's fitfully nicknamed bounty hunter The Hangman is bringing Jennifer Jason Leigh's grotesque white trash Wanted killer, with more bruises than brains, to the town of Red Rock... alive, not dead... while semi comic-relief Walt Goggins plays a supposedly future sheriff and last but not least, Sam Jackson, as Major Marquis Warren, explains what's up, both on the road and within our central location where 95% of the picture takes place: a barroom/way-station where no one can leave to Red Rock (a sort of geographical McGuffin) since there's a big bad blizzard raging outside.

Although Tarantino has publicly denounced John Ford as any kind of Western Genre influence, leaning more on Sam Peckinpah and of course, Sergio Leone, some of the best and most effective character-developing dialogue takes place inside the vehicle itself, and is reminiscent of what's arguably Ford's best film, STAGECOACH, that catapulted John Wayne's career. And if anyone on board takes the Alpha Male Wayne role it's Russell's no-nonsense John Ruth who, during this three-hour plus cinematic stage play, maintains the best verbal momentum throughout. His anti-chemistry/reluctant-partnership is strongest with Jackson while there should have been more palpable angst towards Leigh's Daisy Domergue – whom he's literally, annoyingly chained to. Yet both seem as if they're in completely different movies, and Russell's is much better... if only he captured anyone else but Leigh, an actress that, despite being otherwise talented, is downright embarrassingly campy here.

Meanwhile, putting the forgettable Ennio soundtrack aside, EIGHT isn't Leone- influenced but more an overlong hybrid of RESERVOIR DOGS, which co-starred two wasted HATEFUL characters Michael Madsen and Tim Roth (the latter doing a pallid Christoph Waltz imitation)... which was Tarantino's first film; set inside a warehouse with a group of crooks while one holds a secret that can change everything... and Agatha Christie since, like mentioned... and why it would be nearly impossible to sit through this a second time – EIGHT is a Mystery Feature, especially during the third and final act where the tables twist and turn so much, you'll wonder if all the previous dialogue and dialogue-driven, camera- wielding suspense was effectively good, bad or ugly since, like any Mystery-based vehicle, the end result makes everything else matter... and ultimately, in this case, nothing and no one matters much at all.

5 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Forced, Rushed, But Pretty Darn Good, 18 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well there are two roads that a low-rent blogging critic-in-quotes can take without the luck of an early screening when getting prepared to view and review what is one of the most anticipated movies ever made: either go into the thing fresh without knowing anything, or read the few Rotten green leaves of the otherwise endless red Tomatoes, and then venture into the IMDb message board galaxy, studying every negative post written about the film, including spoilers...

Cult Film Freak took the second road as a springboard to either agree or disagree with what many people already know and heard without having to repeat or spoil it, too much. And some of the negativity is true... THE FORCE AWAKENS is extremely similar to the original STAR WARS: from a cute robot with important plans to a desert-dwelling dreamer who wants to stay put for her "family" while having skills she's not aware of. And yet, taking the central Luke Skywalker mantle is a very talented actress, Daisy Ridley as Rey, who, after a bombastic attack scene following a refreshingly simple opening scrawl, eventually joins up with an ultimate idealist named Finn, not keen on remaining a death-mongering Stormtrooper during his first bloody mission. In-between this somewhat rushed duo is a heroic yet ultimately wasted character in Oscar Isaac as Poe, a cross between Wedge (the X-Wing pilot who miraculously survived all three original films), Robert Downey Jr.'s sarcastic Tony Stark and the person we'll get to next...

To really find out if THE FORCE AWAKENS works takes a particular perspective. And while Han Solo and Chewbacca appear at the beginning of the second act, caught in a good old fashion crooked smuggling trap while being reunited with their famously agile clunker of a space ship, the Millennium Falcon... The proof of how believable the youngsters are to carry the franchise, or if their own journey is worth investing our anticipated nostalgic time on, relies within Solo's reluctant- turned-helpful, genuinely positive reaction to their urgent plight, and is all that's needed to sell this particularly basic adventure...

So if the kids are worthy enough for Han, they can win over the audience... at least those not bothered by the flaws, including a young powerful villain, desperately poised with a black mask but not much of a backstory (or an explanation of his immense holographic leader), and heroes too comfortable and witty much too quickly, like watching an established AVENGERS sequel. Which doesn't really matter since director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Lawrence Kasden... the latter who scripted George Lucas's story for both RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK... keeps moss off a stone that rolls along from one action- packed scene to the next, remaining true to the antique, pulpy aesthetic of the original while sticking close enough on each character's individual plight so not to get lost in the overall computerized milieu, which is what George Lucas did in the horrendous prequels, and what Abrams, maybe not so creatively or originally, brought back to the STAR WARS universe: fun, reckless abandon that isn't quite the vehicle it used to be, but is character-driven nonetheless.

Trumbo (2015)
24 out of 47 people found the following review useful:
More Lecturing From Hollywood, 10 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

During the first thirty minutes, it seems like Bryan Cranston's Dalton Trumbo utters the same exact lines; not a broken record, but a scratched one. Moving ahead, the best scenes occur in the middle as the Blacklisted scriptwriter keeps working in secret, using fake names or other people to take the credit while he gets a cut of the action, and surreptitiously wins Academy Awards. A closer, more suspenseful and pointed glimpse into that brilliant scheme during the 1950's, and less attention on making John Wayne look like a complete jerk or Helen Mirren's caricature villain, and there would actually be a story about people rather than a forced agenda involving human clichés.

Cranston's acting is pretty good but seems like a performance. Playing a real life icon instead of creating your own character probably isn't as easy. Louis CK sleepwalks through his "doomed buddy" role and, while a good comedian, he's completely out of place with big leaguers while John Goodman's usual bombastic personality hinders his overall importance that could have been delved into further: a small-time producer who hired Trumbo to write bad b-movies, which are probably more beloved now than the overrated SPARTACUS, finally giving Trumbo actual credit and destroying the Blacklist.

The closing speech at the end, taking place in 1970 with his problems a decade behind, is heartfelt and well-delivered by the BREAKING BAD actor. But there's little difference in cadence and style than how Trumbo converses during the rest of the movie, which is, in itself, pretty much a collection of speeches and lectures: whether to colleagues, enemies, or family (the communist sandwich comparison to his daughter is downright embarrassing). And for a movie about a man who wrote such great dialogue, there should have been more interactive wordplay than just a lot of preaching to the choir: with the same old tune.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Disgruntled Employees Blasting Cannon, 8 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For the most part, there are two kinds of Cult Films: really bad cheap ones that get a following for being so fun and campy, or solid, classic blockbusters that simply won't go away, spawning sequel after sequel and endless conventions and, you know, all that jazz. In this, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS, instead of celebrating (ironic or otherwise) b-movies or motion pictures that tried for greatness and failed, there's an endless hammering of really irritated people talking down the two men who made up the surprisingly successful CANNON company, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, wheeler-dealer Israelis who loved spawning movies so much they just couldn't stop. It was like an addiction. A craze. One that, beyond anyone's opinion herein and simply fact, did eventually bring down an immense empire.

Between the lines, there's a feeling that the boys always wanted to create greatness on the big screen, so their cinematic turkeys probably did make them look pretty awful, at the time. In other words, if they set out to make money on junk, they succeeded (and were obviously extremely difficult to work with, or understand... verbally). But yearning to be the next, say, Orson Welles, and winding up, at times, digging themselves beneath Roger Corman or Troma... at least according to most of the interviews... does put some of the gripes into perspective. Wannabe Kings who turned out Jesters is an intriguing premise.

The main problem here is that some of the better "b" action pictures, like exciting vehicles starring Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris, are thrown into a trashy collage of film clips without differentiating the good from the bad from the ugly of the Cannon film legacy. After a while, every scene shown from any and every movie are horrendous and embarrassing. Martin DiBergi didn't even make SPINAL TAP look this awful, and he was trying! In truth, and told solidly by a few of the bona-fide interviews... mirroring Icarus, what killed Cannon was reaching too far beyond low-budget success. Enter their ultimate disaster, SUPERMAN IV, blasted for the awful special effects since the duo didn't want to spend the money to make it... you know... actually good. But in truth, that movie's script, a preposterously dated (even at the time), overly obvious political anti nukes message, is what made it stink to high heaven. If $100 million were put into QUEST FOR PEACE, there would be no difference. The ship would have sunk if Spielberg directed.

All in all, BOOGALOO is a "talking head" documentary, showcasing more ticked off, anti Cannon haters than movie fans being able to (without constant interruption) enjoy longer clips of the eclectic movies that, as bad as some might be... like Lou Ferrigno as HERCULES throwing a bear into outer space... are what make cult films so memorable and beloved. And that's not including the risk involved in making a movie at all, no matter what the turnout.

On the lighter side, Golan/Globus did back a few great "art appreciated" movies like BARFLY and RUNAWAY TRAIN, and in one nice moment, the latter film's director, Andrey Konchalovskiy, admits he couldn't have made his project without Cannon. But this compliment is quickly followed by someone else saying if, for example, an Orion produced the movie, it would have been a hit and not bombed. So even their successes are blasted: the Fairness Doctrine in reverse. For the subjects at hand (under heavy foot) just can't win with ELECTRIC BOOGALOO, which, by the way, is the name of an extremely bad sequel to an otherwise entertaining and successful film, BREAKIN', liken to calling the biography of Henry Ford THE EDSEL.

If BOOGALOO only got more in-depth with history and facts instead of forgotten actors like Alex Winter, who compared Bronson's acting to playing a lazy round of golf, or by far the most annoying and biased interviewee, tubby Cannon music supervisor Richard Kraft, whose closing line, which is the second to last sentence uttered in this overly bitter, monotonous documentary, goes like this:

"Cannon's legacy will be the insane stories about how that many movies got made during a very specific period of time by two guys who had no business doing any of it."

Well for starters, there weren't any insane stories at all. Not even a sane story. Not one single actual story with a beginning, middle and end! That would have been just fine, and interesting, in-depth, and what a documentary should be. Instead we have a rushed jigsaw jumble of angry, spiteful comments and particularly banal film clips to fit within whatever trash is being uttered. And as for Mr. Kraft... Your bosses did a lot of business, and at least you made money, and a chance to, for some strange reason, completely headline a documentary that featured Tobe Hooper, Robert Forster, Sybil Danning, John Frankenheimer and other genuinely talented folks who, like Cannon itself, are at least has-beens as opposed to a never-was (famous or remembered) grump like Mr Kraft: It's too bad the biggest nothing had to be pretty much everything here.

Page 1 of 27:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]