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jbraun1984

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7 reviews in total 
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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
But...it's not Bond, James Bond, 12 July 2007
5/10

This is NOT a bad movie…not by any means. Then why the relatively low rating? Because, it's just NOT Bond, James Bond any more. The production values in this movie are quite high…the storyline is decent…and even Daniel Craig, blond hair and all, is respectable as 007 if you like the very dry no-nonsense sort (and, I'm not talking about his shaken or stirred – because he apparently doesn't give a damn this time around). However, this movie didn't even have the decency to rip-off its predecessors. Instead, it's a complete rip-off of the Ludlum "Bourne" series (of movies anyway). And, I love the Bourne series by the way…because it's Bourne and not 007. Now I can't even like 007 because it's unique unto itself and I refuse to like it because it's like Bourne.

So I guess we've (they've) finally come to the end of the road as far as James Bond movies go. They've started to remake the old movies which I guess was bound to happen sooner or later (amazing how idea-less Hollywood can be at times). The stories will be much darker and without much in the way of humor…just what the new generation needs. As for Casino Royale (2006), I will not watch it again as there is no joy in doing so and I already know what's going to happen. Once was definitely enough. Give me Casino Royale (1967) any day…at least it is unique unto itself (even though it's not even close to being one of the better Bonds'…but as a satire, it's damn entertaining). Give me the Connery, Brosnan, Dalton, and Lazenby versions of Bond (you can keep Moore's version…what a 'dweeb!'). And please, give me the cold war and the old James back...it was a far more interesting time!!

Tremors (1990)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
or, 'The Misadventures of Val and Earl.', 15 May 2007
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have been watching this movie a few of times a year for over 15 years now (I watched it again last night…that's what has sparked me into writing this now). You may have noticed that I gave it a '10' rating. This high rating is in part due to the over 15 years of longevity I have been able to cull from this film…all without tiring of it. Had I rated this film after having just seen it for the first time, I would most likely have given it a 7 or 8…still pretty high for what it is (pure FUN!). What can I say…it's grown on me.

The cast…perfect. Normally, had I seen the cast list with the top five stars recorded as Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Reba McEntire, Michael Gross, and Finn Carter I would have been somewhat skeptical, however this is not the case. Taken separately, I have liked them all before and after Tremors: Kevin Bacon (Valentine 'Val' McKee) – "Quicksilver", "A few Good Men", and "Apollo 13" (and many more). Fred Ward (Earl Bassett) – "The Right Stuff", "Remo Williams" and "The Player." Reba McEntire (Heather Gummer) I have respected as a musician for quite some time, although I'm not a big country fan. As it turns out, she is also quite adept as a comic actress, as we saw for the first time in "Tremors," as well as on her own TV sitcom, "Reba." Michael Gross (Burt Gummer), of course, was one of our 'favorite TV dads' during the 80s while staring as Michael J. Fox's father Steven Keaton in "Family Ties." I also believe that Gross is the only one of the original cast of "Tremors" to star in all three of the subsequent sequels as well as "Tremors, the Series." As for Finn Carter (Rhonda LeBeck), I didn't really know who she was before "Tremors," however I have recognized her a number of times since - mainly on television.

The picture, set it the fictional town of Perfection (see the 'complete' description of Perfection on Wikipedia…who knew?), lying in the middle of the Perfection valley (a desert) in Nevada and bounded on three sides by mountains is a perfect (no pun intended) spot for this kind of horror fun. It's sort of a haunted house without the house. The residents of the area (those that are left anyway) have been trapped 'inside' due to a rock-slide that closed the only way out of the valley.

And then you have the monsters who are trying to reign terror on the trapped few left in town. Why they started the attacks is never really addressed…but who cares, because the terrible fun is just beginning. The monsters (Earl thinks could be aliens – duh) are essentially big worms (a la "Dune" – 1984) that can out run a human or a horse…underground! They are big, smelly and disgusting (but in a good way) and apparently quite smart…at least for a worm. However, just as sound is their primary means of sense (no eyes and underground and all), it is also their bane as loud noises will cause them to run…for a short while anyway. Without giving too much away, let's just say that noise turns out to be their final downfall (again, no pun if you have seen the film).

Much of the fun with this film comes from the verbal potshots that nearly everyone takes at each other. Val and Earl are working buddies and very brother-like and are therefore compelled to rib one another at the other's expense…although they are always there for each other too. The opening of the film sets the mood for the rest of what follows…take my word for it or watch it yourself.

Burt and Heather Gummer (married, without children) are survivalists that have chosen the isolation of the Perfection area as their personal 'Eden." Burt is by far the more zealous of the two and does not have the greatest sense of humor concerning his lifestyle choice, but in the end it's his obsession with weapons, and in this case home made ones ("Just a few household chemicals in the proper proportions.") that help save the day.

Rhonda is the pretty and smart graduate student and the one with most of the common sense. She is also the 'straight man." There are, however, some quite funny scenes with her delivering lines that normally would have been something that only Val or Earl would have said. Very out of character and very funny! The language is quite colorful and not short on words of the four letter variety…therefore, the 'R' rating. Otherwise, the movie would be fine fare for kids (there are many TV versions that obviously take care of the F-bombs, etc…but these are truthfully not nearly as much fun.). As a matter of fact, aside from a casual remark from Earl, directed to Val, basically telling him what part of his anatomy he thinks with, there is really not much sexual innuendo at all…so, pretty safe stuff here.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the 'gore' factor. Well, it is a horror/monster movie and so there is some. That being said, I will tell you that the blood and guts are mostly from the giant worms – aka 'graboids' – the enemy (bad guys in this flick) and are not really all that realistic. Messy, yes…real, no. Also, it's all being done in good humor and under the good guy/bad worm theme…so (virtually) everyone will catch on. In the end, the good guys do win and the guy gets the girl…what more could you want? (Free beer? Resist the temptation or you'll never get out of Perfection.)

12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
For all the Eternal Twelve Year Olds, 22 May 2006
10/10

More than a couple of times every year I have to watch "On Any Sunday." I can't tell you why exactly except that it makes me feel good. It's kind of like smelling something that you haven't in a long time and all those feelings that you had the first time you experienced "it" come flooding back.

For me, I was twelve years old when I first saw this movie. It was on a rainy summer Saturday afternoon with my best friend Dean (we had nothing better to do...). The film was both funny and seriously awe-inspiring at the same time. As we walked out of the theater, Dean and I looked at each other and exclaimed at the same time, "I can do that!" When I got home from the movie, I immediately went to work lobbying my brothers and pestering my parents to get us (me) a "bike." Between all of us, we finally came to an agreement with us boys finding a way to finance most of it (our dad flitting the bill for the rest) and mom consenting to let us anywhere near "the thing" in the first place (lots of promises were made that day I can tell you).

That first bike was a Bultaco Sherpa some 3 or four years old. It was set up as a trails bike and all of us boys, our friends (until they talked their parents into one), and even a sister or two took many turns over the next few trying to figure out how to negotiate a 30 inch diameter log that lay across the creek...without putting our feet down (a la Malcolm Smith in the movie of course)! Many of us, some 35 years later, still wear faded scars that mark these great, but dangerous, days.

This movie got me started loving something that I didn't even really think about existing until then. We had mainly bicycles and horses where I grew up. A friend down the rode apiece did have a mini-bike with a 5 hp Briggs and Stratton powering it, but it was touchy and didn't always start when you wanted it too (although, I can also say this about the Sherpa at times).

This was really the first time that I started to learn about motors...what it was like to get greasy-dirty...the smell of gasoline and oil...and what it took to get both yourself and the bike clean again (to Mom's satisfaction).

My love of motorcycles began on that wet summer day and has continued to the present. Indirectly (through me), and just within my own circle of friends and relatives, "On Any Sunday" is probably responsible for some 100 to 200 new motorcycle riders - who otherwise may never have known what it's like to fly on two wheels or pick prickly pear cactus needles out of your ...well you know.

Although the film is somewhat dated (both the motorcycles as well as the background music)...it wears well and the spirit remains the same...just ask my twelve year old...,"Pretty cool Dad. I can do that!"

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
No nothing, nada, zip, zilch here, 29 December 2005
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

No point (or joy) in this one. And, next time a movie begins with those cold-bluish print overtones on the film, I'm turning it off right away (had enough of that in "Minority Report."). There aren't really any spoilers in this review, but because this movie IS such a spoiler, I checked the box anyway.

To begin with, the only reasons I'm even giving "War of the Worlds" two stars: 1. Excellent musical score. 2. Great special effects. Both or these, however, were inherently wasted on the movie itself. There are just too many "but, why(s) or why not(s)", "but how(s)"… but, but, but… AND NO ONE to answer any of the questions except for Harlan, an apparent Ed Gein wannabe character played quite creepily by Tim Robbins, who somehow knew in his infinite psychotic wisdom that "they" (the aliens) had been planning this (attack) for a million years. But, why? Hey blockbuster-making-movie guy (yes, I'm talking to you SS), you really should care somewhat about the main characters as you're telling the story. I didn't. Tom Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a hotshot heavy equipment operator who is extremely selfish, full of himself, and a (goes without saying) lousy dad. Robbie Ferrier, played by Justin Chatwin, is the whining-chip (on the shoulder) –off-the-old-block teenage-mutant-ninja-son who chooses this time of Armageddon to tell dad just how lousy he really is (natch). And then there is Rachel (Ferrier), played by the much heralded Dakota Fanning, the wise-old ten-something kid who is much more annoying (remember Lloyd's "most annoying sound in the world" from Dumb and Dumber) than she is likable. And what happened to Ms. Fanning's little girl looks? I mean she looks like someone took a twenty year old head and stuck it on a ten-year- old's body. It must be those awkward years.

Not much else to say. So there you have it, three characters, with which you really don't care what happens to any of them, yet whom all somehow triumph in a few days time over aliens vampires, dysfunctional family relations, hordes of armed and dangerous zealot survivalists, and one psycho. (Now that I've seen the film, I kind of wish the aliens…or Harlan… would have won)

P.S. Is it PC now not to call a Martian a Martian? I mean, really!

j.braun

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
I Lost 2 Hours That I Can Never Get Back, 8 November 2005
1/10

It's my own fault I know, but I was just curious just how bad a science (fiction) disaster movie could get. And no, there is absolutely no way I will watch part two and brain damage myself even further. I'm guessing that the powers at be at CBS are hoping that many will forget just how bad part 1 was after a week and join back in. If those are the kind of people that they are targeting for their (advertising) clients, may mercy set in upon their souls (the advertisers...although, they should have known better, so I guess I really don't feel too sorry for them after all). And by the way, ANY advertiser that IS associated with the making of or supporting of this junk...if I can actually remember any...will definitely be on my don't shop list based mainly on STUPIDITY! Yes, I was stupid for watching, but at least I didn't spend millions on supporting this drivel...I just lost a few thousand brain cells. Something else to keep in mind, when your movie is not entertaining (and come on people...producers, directors...you know when it is or isn't) do not go all preachy and/or politically active on us too, as neither side of this (these) issue(s) would want to claim you. And it just adds another level of boredom, exacerbating an already HUGELY boring flick to begin with. The only remotely entertaining few moments revolved around Tornado Tommy (Randy Quaid) - a returning character from the first movie who apparently was supposed to be killed off at the end of it (no, I didn't watch that one), but somehow got dropped into Lake Michigan instead of impaled on top of the Sears Tower. Lucky us.

For those of you with enough sense (or luck) that you missed the first part of Category 7 - do yourself a favor and save some brain cells by staying away! If you are reading this after the fact (and you happened to watch it)...I'm sorry, brain cells do not grow back. But take comfort in fact that at least you did not spend millions to produce it or even more millions to advertise with it, for they are the one's with the big L stamped on their foreheads.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A Fond Farewell, 27 October 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Walk, Don't Run" stands out in many respects and is as enjoyable the hundredth time as it was the first. No, it's not a great film but it is significant and one that is immensely pleasurable and entertaining.

Its significance is threefold: 1. that this film is the last motion picture that Mr. (Cary) Grant performed in. 2. that it brought an innocent portion of the turbulent 60s to light and in doing so, introduced us to (what was then) modern day Tokyo, and 3. that it once again showed us the wonderful comedic timing of Mr. Grant.

That this is the last film appearance by Mr. Grant is fairly well known and is a classy comedic classic ending to a film career that spanned nearly 35 years and has since provided us all with untold hours of humor, drama and most of all…joy. This last great performance of Cary Grant was that of a well to do English businessman Sir William Rutland who, while in Tokyo for business during the "famous" housing shortage of the 1964 Olympics, humorously influences a young English woman Christine (Samantha Eggar) into letting him rent a couch and the use of her apartment. Cary Grant's character then, by way of being extremely kind and nosy, brings home an American stray named "Steve" (played by Jim Hutton) who also happens to be stranded and without a place to stay. Jim Hutton's character also happens to be an Olympic athlete (whose secret Olympic event is a running gag) who is waiting for a bed to open up in the Olympic Village but who arrived early in order to see Tokyo and study it's architecture. Although Mr. Grant remains solidly within his trade mark sophisticated persona, he does take on a bit of a Jewish matchmaker demeanor and thus sets out to make a match between Steve and Christine. The results are expectedly hilarious at times and, in true screwball fashion (another Cary Grant trademark), catch Cary Grant at his best as he is either distracting Christine's stogy (so to be 'ex') fiancée so that Steve can better make time with her; getting caught up in a crazy 'spy' subplot that involves Steve, a Russian friend of Steve's and himself; or, near the end of the film as Mr. Grant, again trying to nose his way into Steve's and Christine's business, ends up pseudo-participating in the Olympic games in the "walking race"…but in his boxer shorts.

"Walk, Don't Run," based on a story by Robert Russell and Frank Ross, is known as a remake of an earlier Robert Russell story entitled "The More the Merrier." In "Walk, Don't Run" however (scripted by Sol Saks), the location of the story was moved from Washington, D.C (Merrier) to Japan (Don't Run). All three or the principals (Grant, Hutton, Eggar) work very well together, with Grant, however, stealing a few scenes here and there with those patented "takes" or "looks" and delivering every line with perfect comedic timing. Funny bits: Trying to make the morning coffee a couple of times…and in a rather helpless fashion…whistling titles tunes from "Charade" and "An Affair to Remember." Getting locked out of the apartment while trying to use the bathroom and then get the milk outside the front door, while being watched by two cute kids…twice…priceless. Mr. Grant trying to understand the morning routine as described by Samantha Eggar's character the first time…and then having to go through the whole thing again when Jim Hutton's character is thrown into the mix. Even the beginning montage where Mr. Grant is trying to get a room in the hotel and is caught in a "bowing" match with some of the hotel managers, all the while finding out that he was not going to get a room for a few days. Not to take anything away from the supporting players either, Jim Hutton shows his comedic ability as he stayed on foot, head to head, with Mr. Grant in many different scenes (the "bath house" and "pants" scenes come quickly to mind). Samantha Eggar is quite good as the "landlord" of the apartment, "manipulate" of Cary Grant as well as the potential love of Jim Hutton…she walked the line well. John Standing is also excellent as the annoying, stuffy, embassy bureaucrat with the wonderfully laughable last name "Haversack" who also just happens to be engaged to Christine (Samantha Eggar) and is also well manipulated by Mr. Grant's character. Star Trek fans will find George Takei as the rather polished cop who is forced to untangle the comedic truth (to a point). There are also a host of other characters who come and go during this screwball comedy, without whom the picture would not have as good as it is. In other words, great casting!

A final nod must be given to Mr. Charles Walters' whose direction is solid throughout. This, together with Harry Stradling's excellent camera work, paint a comedic work of art while the music of Quincy Jones fits perfectly the undertones and flow of the picture. While maybe considered a fluff piece by some, "Walk, Don't Run" is certainly a suitable last film for one of the great screwball comedy kings of all time (if not THE king)and whose significance lay in its entertainment value along with that intangible feeling you get watching a master at work (for the final time). If you don't like this film then you just don't get it…you aren't looking hard enough…or are looking too hard, because its intrinsic value is that it exists in the first place and that it showcases one of the "last of the best." It doesn't get any better than that. J. Braun

Charade (1963)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Who's Who, 21 October 2005
10/10

As dark comedies go, Charade is about as entertaining as you can get and a must see. All the elements of a great thriller pass before your eyes in a little less than two hours, but you also leave (or get off the couch) with a smile and perhaps even a chuckle, instead of just the usual stretch and yawn. I mean really, how can you get better than this? Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn were perfectly cast in the elegant lead roles of "Peter Joshua" and "Reggie Lambert." Whether or not those characters were written to be particularly chic, they attained that status by association (or perhaps osmosis) as a result of being played by those two great stylish actors. Yes, there is an age difference between the two (which both Mr. Joshua and Ms. Lambert allude to several times during the movie), however, we seem to accept the building romance between them rather easily, largely due to Mr. Grant's aging, but still well received, charisma. Here, two of the most glamorous stars of the middle portion of the twentieth century...albeit from different halves...work some mild form of sexual magic on film without ever literally going to bed with one another. It works because the 'sex' in this case is the alluring mix of murder, romance, marriage all rolled together in one chaotic screenplay. The real mystery of this multi-mystery thriller lay in the question(s) (which are really presented at the very beginning of the movie...and continue to its very end) "How, where, and when will Peter Joshua (is that his real name?) and Reggie get together?"

Now for the rest of the fantastic acting/directing ensemble. George Kennedy, James Coburn and Ned Glass nailed the "less than loyal mean natured old Army partners of the deceased (murdered) husband of the pretty widow who is thought to be hiding a small fortune which is really 'theirs' parts." The CIA/mystery villain of the story was played to a comic, confusing, and at times terrifying tee by Walter Matthau. And then finally you have a great, a-one, first class director in Stanley Donen (also the producer of the film), who is probably best known for making the greatest musical of them all, "Singing in the Rain." Mr. Donen's musical background can be felt throughout the picture as the laughs, surprises, editing (with Jim Clark at the editing reel) and overall pace are well choreographed in the way that a musical would have been told/shown…had this been a musical. Of course, much of this great pacing (and dialog) is due to the terrific writing skills of Peter Stone (and Marc Behm). The addition of some great musical scoring by the legendary master of '60s cocktail music himself Henry Mancini, helped to further support this heavy weight film (which garnished an Academy Award nomination for the title song -the only one for the movie by the way).

So what do you get when you put all of this together?...you get a finely orchestrated thilledy or comeder (depending if you are a glass half full or empty person). Often times the movie feels like a Hitchcock film (which I am using as a complement) in the sense that it…looks like Hitchcock, feels like Hitchcock, smells like Hitchcock, tastes like Hitchcock…must be Hitchcock…or not. Perhaps it's its own thing…a musical mystery…without the music (which I know is just a mystery…but it's really too lyrical to be JUST a mystery). However you look at it, you get one hell of a fun (killer) ride.

What you've missed if you haven't watched: Regina Lambert (Audrey Hepburn) is pursued by four ex (or could be 3 or 5) WW2 Army cohorts of Charles Lambert (is that HIS real name? – her freshly murdered, but was going to divorce anyway, husband). She soon learns that Charles, her husband, stole $250,000 of the US government's money during the war and double-crossed his Army war "buddies" in the process. Everyone wants the money, but no one knows just where it is (or that is what we are led to believe). The only real clue(s) left behind by her husband are stored in a Lufthansa bag…and seem of little consequence. The story is chock full of deception, with nobody knowing just who is who. Reggie, through all of the new found truths and lies, becomes more and more vulnerable…seeking occasional comfort under the multifaceted guises of Peter (whatever his name is). All this fun and action takes place in Paris, which was adeptly filmed by master cinematographer Charles Lang and is one of those films that really makes you feel as if you are in France…not on a set made to look like France. Around every twist there is a turn…what's up is probably down…and nothing is what it appears. There's some great banter, exciting chase scenes, and a most excellent fight sequence that takes place on the roof of the American Express building between Herman Scobie (George Kennedy's nasty artificial armed character) and Peter (Joshua). Humor and intelligent action pervade until the end though as the tale continues to provide for more murders and deceit…culminating in a great game of "Who do you (really) trust?" Even the very last few minutes of the movie, after the climax, keep you (or at least Reggie) guessing.

This is first rate entertainment…a combination of several genres all rolled into one. It certainly showcases the talents of all the actors, with of course the comic and dramatic timing of Mr. Grant held as a standout. But, it is much more than that. It is also a movie that you can enjoy time and time again for all of its virtues…for it is not one dimensional. So go ahead and be tricked, thrilled, and tickled for a couple of hours and come away from it … a different person? (Is that really your name?)

J. Braun