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The "Police Squad" of horror films
This is a comedy in the tradition of Airport (Flying High) and Police Squad (or The Naked Gun), where a group of scientists are gathered to investigate the goings on at a haunted house in the country woods of Britain. Kenny Everett is the star of this film, pulling from characters developed from his various video shows to create his main character, with a good backup of other actors making up the rest of the group. The slapstick comedy (played seriously) comes frequently right from the start of the film but then tends to fall a little flat in the second half, but is still very enjoyable if you're a fan of Everett. Vincent Price's name might be a surprise for such a film, but he plays his role with the usual strength he carries. Pamela Stephenson has a memorable scene which re-energises the film, while subtle humour in other scenes carry it to the end. Check it out if you enjoy British humour.
A serious but often entertaining discussion panel about current affairs
Q&A is one of Australia's live television institutions for people who care about what's happening in the country. Every Monday night on ABC a panel of carefully-picked members from various organisations and communities are put together on a panel to discuss and debate current affairs relating to Australia and the world. Quite often, two politicians from opposing parties are put on the panel, leading to fireworks in the studio as one puts down the efforts or policies of the other party. The panel members are given questions from the public and politicians squirm as they try their best to choose their words carefully and answer the question without committing to introducing any policies to fix any problems in society or give any estimates on when something might be fixed. With Twitter feeds constantly popping up on the screen, we get to see what other members of the audience are feeling about what is happening, and quite often we end up wishing that a particular politician, who is willing to come on the live debate show and connect with us, should be our new leader. Tony Jones does a commendable job at controlling the members of the panel when they get out of hand, especially when opposing politicians start verbally fighting. This is always entertaining for the viewer but unfortunately its one-hour duration sometimes leaves some topics without a proper conclusion.
Äkta människor (2012)
Underrated sci-fi soapie
The Swedes have achieved something unique with this show. Real Humans is about a reality where human-like robots are commonplace in today's world and perform such roles as home assistants, companions to lonely souls, workers of all types and, of course, sex toys. The show follows a selection of different people as they live in this world, from the family with the curious teenage boy, to an old man needing home assistance, and a lonely man who's job is threatened by them, and a woman in love with one. It also follows a group of obsolete and disowned "hubots" who are a quest to avoid being scrapped and recycled. The day-to-day coexistence between humans and hubots provides often amusing situations but there's also a darker side in each episode which makes you feel for them. I'm not ashamed to admit it's a soap, but a very intelligent one, and a very open one. Strictly for older kids and adults.
The January Man (1989)
A bit of an odd crime-comedy-thriller
First things first, this film has a few problems with trying to work out what it wants to be. Some of the scenes are a bit ridiculous and unrealistic, and sometimes it gets a bit slow. But that could be said about some hugely successful blockbuster films as well.
Underneath this is a good little crime thriller with some likable characters who are trying to work out the clues to catch a killer with a taste for strangling women in their city apartments.
Kevin Kline is enjoyable, Susan Sarandon and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio are classy, Harvey Keitel doesn't really do much and Alan Rickman kind of floats around to help loosen up the mood of the film. Some of the dialog sounds like it was lifted from an adapted play or is better for an older, more mature generation.
But, the stand out star of this film is Danny Aiello, who plays Captain Vincent Alcoa. He has a filthy mouth, loves yelling and putting people down all the time and has to deal with a Kline as a difficult police detective who returns to the job.
The film alone is worth seeing for his performance.
8 Million Ways to Die (1986)
8 Millions Ways to Kill 2 Hours
A cop, played by Jeff Bridges, shoots an unarmed assailant and is taken off the force. From there, his subsequent alcoholism contributes to the failure of his marriage, and he tries to fix things by going to AA. He meets a woman who leads him into a dark world of a drug dealer.
This is one of those films I had always wondered about since I first remember seeing video tapes as a child. My father had a VHS copy that sat in the lounge under the VCR. On the cover was a hero with a gun, two women and a cool sports car, and the palm tree suggesting a Miami Vice-style environment.
I remember seeing the video case so many times and making a note to watch it. Fast forward 25 years later and I've finally seen it. It was a really cool opening with a helicopter flight over city skyscrapers which, in a single shot, catches up to a police car moving along a freeway. The music is cool and pure 1980s action.
The rest of the film, however, is a bit odd. There was just something not right about it. It turns out that the whole script dialog was improvised, which may explain a big, over-the-top swearing and shouting match that has to be seen to be believed.
There's a cool but brief car chase and Jeff Bridges moves through the film with a casualness and ease that seems at odds with what's going on around him.
Andy Garcia's character is strange, hard to understand. Sometimes he does weird things. But he's the villain and out to get Jeff Bridges.
The Foot Fist Way (2006)
If you love tae kwon do and awkward comedy, watch this film.
The Foot Fist Way, a literal English translation of tae kwon do, is a film about a passionate martial arts school instructor who takes his job very seriously.
When he encounters some personal problems, he starts to lose the self control and discipline that he is such an important aspect of his training. He puts himself in some awkward situations and tries to deal with the outcomes.
The humour is a bit strange at times but it is generally an amusing film with some bad language and adult themes at times. So not a film to watch with the family.
Often compared to Napolean Dynamite, it is perhaps a little lacking in the same impact but still along the same themes of entertainment.
Coffin Rock (2009)
A drama about simple people with a big problem
After a visit to a city clinic to find out why they cannot conceive a child, a middle-aged couple from the country become caught up in a young man's obsession when he takes advantage of the woman through manipulation and confidential knowledge. A drunken, vulnerable moment with the young man leads to a terrible secret and tragic events in the town as the young man takes his obsession further.
It seems that a lot of people didn't like this film but maybe they were expecting too much from it. I enjoyed the personal drama and the chance to observe a group of simple towns folk go about dealing with the events in this film.
It has a common theme of an obsessed individual who wants to be intimate with someone who is already married. What makes it different is the setting in an outback coastal country town where everyone knows each other and the limited resources available to them. Not too much effort goes into character development, just that there is a general bleak outlook and a false happiness when the truth is hidden.
A good example of light Aussie drama.
Parking Wars (2008)
Parking officers have feelings, too.
The first thing that's clear about Parking Wars is that the often-hated parking officers are individuals with wonderful sense of humours and personalities who are just doing their job. They deal with so many angry citizens who didn't follow the rules that they agreed to by obtaining a driver's licence and owning a motor vehicle.
It's a fair system designed to maintain order, but many citizens don't see it that way, they make up their own rules. This is where the television show gets interesting and we see many "victims" who try to talk their way out of a fine and usually end up personally insulting the parking officer or wasting hours of their important lives arguing about small details at the vehicle impound center.
People yell obscenities from the sidewalk as the clamping van slowly drives by, checking each car's plate for outstanding tickets, as if it's a game. The officers inside the van seem to love it and are never surprised when someone will come running out of a house with some ridiculous story about why the tickets haven't been paid. They've heard it all.
A very entertaining show and highly recommended.
Never disappointing, always entertaining, for 22 seasons!
Cops is an enduring piece of modern television, sticking with the exact same formula right from the start of its debut season. We ride shotgun with the men and women of the law enforcement community as they respond to calls for help, chase down suspects and detect dodgy dealings.
The highlight of any episode is the high-speed car chase that inevitably ends with the offender crashing or abandoning their vehicle as they realise running is pointless. Before we know it, the police car with the camera is just one of ten cars on the same job and the suspects are always found.
Then comes the moment when four guys will capture and slam the mindless offender violently to the ground and keep the situation safe, while other officers gather evidence from the scene.
The cops of the show's title go into each job not knowing what to expect and the show illustrates the courage and difficulty the officers face each day of their job.
No matter what episode it is, or if it's a repeat episode, you'll never be disappointed by the excitement and dedication of the individuals doing their job.
Meteor Apocalypse (2010)
Only for those who must see all films in the disaster sci-fi genre
From looking at the DVD box, I decided not to watch Meteor Apocalypse as a film, but as a simple story about a man trying to find his family in difficult times. I put the cheap special effects, bad acting and script aside, and just waited to see what would happen next.
It reminded me a lot of the recent BBC series Survivors, except every 20 minutes there are meteors raining down on everyone.
The main character of David is played to good effect by Joe Lando, giving us a surprisingly good portrayal as the courageous man does his best to find his family and help people along the way. I was pleasantly surprised to see Claudia Christian appear as David's wife and mother to their child. I had not seen her in anything since the end of the Babylon 5 series.
Some things don't quite make sense, but when we are regularly shown conflict within the disaster management center, it may explain why some things occurred.
Not to be taken too seriously, but as a light contribution to the disaster science fiction genre.