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Funny, dark little gem
I watched this again recently when it was re-released at Carnival time in a 20 year anniversary edition.
Once I'd got past (or have I got past it, really, and will I ever?) coming to terms that it had been 20 years since this was made, I was impressed at how well it still stood up.
Apparently a favourite with The League of Gentlemen, it's a properly eccentric and dark sideways take on the botched crime caper/ revenge drama. The cast are real characters and it's all played with a kind of sinister charm.
It's very British, very independent, completely individual and we need films like this more than ever as mainstream vanilla pap floods the theatres.
Joe Tucker needs to make another movie, and I hope we don't have to wait another 20 years.
How horribly disappointing
I just finished watching this, and I'm terribly disappointed. It looked so magical and twinkly- great cast- I was really looking forward to it. And a great opening! Then.
What were they thinking? It's mostly really depressing, that's the worst thing. Mr Magoo is dying- everyone is upset. They attend his funeral. The store goes grey. Everyone is unhappy. Right until the end- then whee! she makes it come to life again- The End.
There's supposed to be a beginning, a middle, and an end, people. It has a beginning, some misery, then the end. The characters are wacky for no reason. No backstory. The various plot strands- the characters stories- just fizzle out. It just doesn't seem well thought out at all.
And GOD. If I hear someone say "You just have to believe in yourself". ONE MORE TIME!!!!!!
They say it like 4 times in this film. You can IMPLY it- you don't have to SAY it. Plus, nobody talks like that.
I was really looking forward to this film, and now I am sad. Partly because it's a miserable film filled with misery. Partly because I am frustrated at this missed opportunity to make a kind of retelling of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - which there is totally room for! Even after Tim Burton's remake. And you can't tell me this wasn't inspired by that. Instead, you're left with a film which I can't imagine appealing to adults or children. It seems like a big waste of the talents of the people involved.
Jaws 3-D (1983)
Don't believe the hype
If you mention this movie to people, they will usually respond with negative comments. This is a terrible shame, as it absolutely rocks.
The whole thing is set in Sea World, and is a great advertisement for it, although it's been re-jigged to fit the plot- Sea World is in fact landlocked, so, sadly, there is no chance of any monster sharks getting in and mingling with the public.
Mike Brody- the elder son of the Brody family- is visited by his younger brother Sean as he works at the park with his marine biologist girlfriend. Mike seems strangely unaffected by his bad experiences with sharks in Jaws 1 & 2, and is played by Dennis Quaid. Honestly, I think they could at least have given the guys dark hair to match them a little closer to the previous actors, but hey hey. Dennis was probably all like "Don't mess with my highlights, man!" There are shark attacks, and they catch a convenient scapegoat (scapeshark?) shark with the help of Simon MacCorkindale's arrogant wildlife photographer. This shark dies in captivity, and its mum comes to wreak revenge on the park- which it does in spectacular fashion. Does Mr MacCorkindale survive until the end of the movie? Well, he speaks of the shark with disrespect. Underestimates it. What do you think?
Sean Brody is lucky enough to meet slutty waterski dolly Lea Thompson, but unlucky enough to be attacked by the water monster the minute he is persuaded to get into a boat.
The whole film looks great, and moves fast- and the shark effects are terrific- they use a lot of real shark footage, and realistic models. In fact, this film out of the 4 probably has the best-looking sharks.
The 3-D effects would probably be great if you got to see them properly, but unless you're lucky enough to catch a special viewing of the 3-D version, you're left wondering why so many things seem to point suggestively into the camera, and marvelling at the strange baroque effect of non-3-D 3-D, if you see what I mean. Things float around looking weird and disembodied- totally disconnected from the rest of the scene. But it's not altogether a bad thing.
For me, this is a beautiful and exciting film- it's like a 70's disaster movie made in the 80's.
Jaws: The Revenge (1987)
Roaring sharks and family angst
Whether you like this film or not depends why you're watching it. If you're going to compare it to Jaws 1, fergeddabout it. It doesn't have the suspense or grit or great cast of that movie. But if you like big sharks, then this is pretty good- the shark is a better one than the models in 1 & 2, and they use a lot of real shark footage. There are some great moments- really great- where the shark comes up out of the water just like in the old Universal Studios ride, and munches folk down. There's even a part where it rears out of the water and ROARS.
Apart from that, it's a fairly weak film- Lorraine Gary returns from the first 2 movies as Ellen Brody, and we have yet another two actors playing her sons. There's a lot of backchat and wrangling going on between the characters, which neither informs or entertains. And yes, of course the plot is completely silly, but it'd be churlish to hold that against it.
I was moved to shout "More shark, less talk!" at a couple of points, but it's far from being the terrible fiasco I thought it would be after reading other reviews.
It starts with quite a solid bit of action on Amity Island, where younger Brody son Sean is devoured by a vengeful Jaws- Ellen Brody then goes out to the Bahamas to recover with older son Michael who seems to have changed, not just physical appearance since 1, 2, and 3, but has also swopped his marine expert girlfriend of 3 for a drippy artist chick who whines throughout the whole flick. The shark duly turns up, and chases them around until they finally spear it with the broken-off prow of their boat- which seems to make it explode. Cool.
Michael Caine is solid as the love interest, and English accents always sound so funny in American films, don't they?
Many Happy Returns (1986)
Comedy, social commentary or what?
George Segal plays an everyman type here, who is targeted by the IRS as a warning to other everyman types who might be considering cheating on their taxes. They take everything from him- but they cannot break him! He, like, fights back! This isn't an entirely unfunny movie, but it comes close. The central theme is corrupted somewhat by George's character acting like a hot-tempered nutter in all his dealings with the authorities, which lowers your sympathy levels for him. By the time he takes the taxman hostage (A guy who looks a lot like a fat John Cusack), you're beginning to think that it might not be the worst thing if a police sniper took him out, providing an unexpected and shockingly brutal change of pace.
That doesn't happen, naturally. There is an absolutely ridiculous court scene at the end, where George takes over from his incompetent lawyers, and not only proves that he's been unfairly picked on, but that the IRS are forcing girls to work as hookers and seduce men into admitting they cheat on their taxes. After this, he is forgiven all his hostage-taking, axe-wielding, and bank-manager-strangling, and everybody cheers.
It is a silly film.
No Way to Treat a Lady (1968)
No way to treat a source novel?
If you've read the William Goldman novel, and expect this to be a faithful adaptation, fergit about it. But if you don't care about that and take your pleasure where you can, this is great! The big, lumpen, horribly scarred detective of the novel is played by a young, sassy George Segal (Bagsy Vincent D'Onofrio with prosthetics if they remake it),and Lee Remick has never looked more beautiful as the love interest who is so tragically slain in the book, and remains very alive and barely bruised at the end of the flick. Guys, check out the transparent yellow dress she wears in her first scene.....
It's got a kind of Theatre of Blood thing going on, as Rod Steiger (looking weirdly like Richard Burton)hams it up outrageously in a variety of cunning disguises- limply taunting Mr Segal with rubbish clues to solving the murders and getting in the way of his romancing Miss Remick in a variety of photogenic New York locations.
It's an amusing, colourful film with a starry cast, and I have no idea why it isn't regarded as a classic. Oooh, and check out David Doyle- Bosley from "Charlie's Angels"- as a hard ass police chief. Seriously.
Born to Win (1971)
Cautionary junkie tale
This comes off as if it could have been made to screen to American teens at schools in the 70's to show them that DRUGS ARE BAD- they turn people against each other, friends die, and it's all just awful. There's a great cast- Segal, Prentiss, and Black are all excellent- and Robert De Niro is young and clean cut in a supporting role. I guess George Segal wanted to show that he could play gritty after getting typecast as a light comedian- and he is terrific- but there's a completely flat non-ending ending, and it's all pretty depressing. I question the casting of charmers like Paula Prentiss and Karen Black- who both look fab- as the point of the film seems to be to deglamourise this lifestyle. Nice jazzy funky soundtrack fer sure, and George gets his kit off, but I can't in all honesty recommend this movie, unless you're very fond of seeing a lot of grungy types in 70's fashion disasters doing each other down and jive-assing about.