If I remember (and it's been quite some time) the film was reminiscent of a Cheech and Chong movie without the raunch and maybe Help with the Beatles. Just goofy bits and slapstick comedy with the three leads getting involved in different shenanigans. No, it was not exactly the Marx Brothers but harmless fun!
Anyway, everyone enjoy this little film and I promise you won't forget Miss Harmon's unforgettable presence.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Perry Smith (Clifton James Jr.) and Richard Hickock (Mark Pellegrino) eventually confess to the murders and it's at this point when Truman decides that he will write his next book on the events. The local officials allow Truman to visit both of these men but it's Perry that he becomes friendliest with and eventually it grows to be an attraction. Truman does use his charm to get vital information for his book but eventually it dawns on him that after 6 years of appeals the only way he will be able to finish it is when they both are finally executed by the state.
This is directed by Bennett Miller who's only other film was the documentary "The Cruise" and one can't help but be impressed with his direction but of course it helps to have a special actor like Hoffman in the starring role. This film does belong to Hoffman and his performance can easily be described as riveting especially during the scenes when he talks about himself growing up as different and one gets a good sense of why he became such a charmer. One of the more interesting things that the film lets on is that Harper Lee actually helped Truman gain information for his book "In Cold Blood" while still working on "To Kill a Mockingbird" and in fact, her book was published and made into a film while he still waited for the appeals to end. The 6 years that Truman worked on "In Cold Blood" was the time that changed him forever to the point that he never wrote another novel again and this film does a splendid job of making sure that audiences understand that this man was so disturbed by his own behavior that he never forgave himself. This isn't really a biography but the film does a remarkable job of capturing the time and events that led to Truman questioning his own humanity. Miller is certainly a director to watch but it's Hoffman who once again demonstrates that he's one of our finest actors working today as he provides one of the year's best performances.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Maggie drinks and steals and sleeps around endlessly while Rose who's a few pounds heavier attempts to be the responsible big sister and watch over her but one day Maggie finally crosses the line and is thrown out. Rose finds out that her sister not only has been stealing again but finds her in bed with a potential boyfriend and orders her to get out of her life completely. With nowhere to go Maggie heads to Florida after discovering that she has a long lost grandmother named Ella (Shirley MacLaine) and is allowed to stay with her in her retirement home. Meanwhile, Rose leaves her job and gets engaged to a former co-worker but she has incredible difficulty in telling him about the details of her relationship with her sister. Maggie finds Ella unflappable but supportive and is urged to get a job at the assisted living center and eventually it's here that Maggie starts to find herself and mature.
First off, I am recommending this film for others to see and it's primarily because of the good performances that take place despite a script that's aimed strictly for viewers of the Lifetime channel. One can't help but wonder what exactly Curtis Hanson saw in this story that would attract him to the project because the film is about as revolutionary as an episode of "The Gilmore Girls". The best moments (for me anyway) come during the first part of the film where we come to understand Rose's frustration with her immature sister and Collette in her role gives the film it's best performance. In fact, all the actors are fine with MacLaine playing her usual crusty but experienced older woman and even Diaz (whom I'm an admitted non-fan of) plays her character well but the script by Erin Brockovich's Susannah Grant dives head on into sappy predictable material like the scenes where Maggie learns how to read. I guess the reason I'm still recommending this film is because I just don't think it would be fair to all of the actors involved who really do a good job despite the lack of depth with the story. Call me a softy if you have to but I think I would be lying if I didn't say that this still offers enough scenes of emotional turmoil for it's characters to shine and to also give the film whatever heart it has.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Brandon is so good at this that eventually he gets a phone call from Walter Abrams (Pacino) who runs a sports betting service in New York City where clients spend thousands and even millions of dollars. Walter is very successful and married to Toni (Rene Russo) and together they raise their young daughter but he's also a recovering gambling addict with a serious heart condition. Walter brings Brandon to the East Coast and shows him how to be a ruthless prognosticator and when Brandon proves to be a complete success with his football picks he actually gets a co-anchor position on Walter's cable access show. Things eventually start to go downhill when Brandon's picks start going sour and clients start losing all of their money but things really get bad when Walter starts gambling again and also suspects that Brandon and his wife are having an affair.
This is directed by D.J. Caruso (Taking Lives) who has shown to be a competent filmmaker and here he's made a pretty good looking film that makes good use of it's New York City locations. The film's story doesn't offer anything revolutionary in terms of surprises but the main theme of people betting large amounts of cash is something that I have always found intriguing. McConaughey is a capable actor and here he's well cast as an ex-jock who is easily drawn into the gambling circles and from the perspective of the audience it's believable to watch his character get so taken in. Pacino is the key to this film not only because of his star power but for the simple fact that he's the real life force that makes this effort so entertaining to watch. His character has been described by many as reminiscent of his role in "The Devil's Advocate" and it would be hard to argue it but being one of the best actors in the world he still gives this character enough unique tics to make sure it is clearly different. Sure, Pacino is over the top but can anyone really imagine this film without him? Dan Gilroy's script doesn't offer anything that hasn't been done better before (1974's The Gambler is a good example) but the cast is good and Pacino once again shows audiences that he's still a force to be reckoned with.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** One night Anne is throwing a party but James is unable to attend because of work but when he returns home he finds out that the husband of their housekeeper was hit by a car and eventually dies and this leads James to thinking that Bule is responsible after noticing a nick on his vehicle. James questions Anne about the accident and she admits to him that not only were they together romantically but that it was she that was driving and is the one at fault. The three of them decide to cover everything up with alibi's but this proves to be difficult when a police inspector comes snooping about and while he thinks he's knows what has happened he still can't get any of them to admit to anything. Eventually James and Anne separate and she spends her time with Bule even after it's discovered that he has terminal cancer and while James is obviously heartbroken he still maintains a sense of decency and stays friendly with his wife.
This is directed by actor/writer Julian Fellowes who won an Oscar for his screenplay for "Gosford Park" and here he's making his debut as a director. Fellowes is obviously fond of stories dealing with British manners and class as his "Gosford Park" script proves and he does a credible job of showing how the English can still be polite and proper even during the most extreme of times. I thought it was humorous when James was all set to call the police and turn Bule in until he found out that it was his wife that was involved and then decides that lying is the best course of action to take. While I thought the film hit a bullseye in dealing with the issues of moral responsibility and ethics I still had too many problems with other areas especially regarding how we're supposed to feel about Bule after he becomes sick. The film spends the majority of it's time making it clear that he's an incredibly shallow and selfish cad but after he gets one of those movie illness's the characters still feel sorry about him! We all know that there is nothing logical about a woman's taste in men so I won't carp too much about Anne staying with him but James reaction to the news just doesn't seem believable. I kept waiting for him to open a bottle of champagne and kick up his heels and scream "YAHOO" but instead James appears to be honestly sorry about the man who took his wife. There is also a totally unnecessary narration that takes place during certain intervals and I have always maintained that if filmmakers feel the need for a narrator than it's a sure sign that they don't have confidence in the way they're telling a story. The acting is top notch with Wilkinson enjoying one of his best roles to date and Everett is so good that you can't help but think that the film should have been more about him. Some are raving about this as being one of the best films of the year and while I'm the first to say that this is pretty well made and acted I still found enough things to make me think otherwise.
Kyle is an airline propulsion engineer and knows very well about the very same double decker aircraft that she's flying on but she's also under a lot of stress in dealing with the death of her husband and decides to get some sleep while on her flight. She awakens three hours later to find out that Julia is missing and when she asks the flight attendants if they have seen her they not only say no but can't even confirm that she brought a child on board with her. There is nothing on the flight manifest and when Kyle starts demanding that a search takes place and to see the Captain (Sean Bean) the air marshal Gene Carson (Peter Sarsgaard) steps in to try and calm her. Kyle starts to shout at everyone and points her fingers at some Arab passengers but things get even more chaotic when the truth is revealed and her knowledge of the inner structure of the plane comes into great use.
German director Robert Schwentke is relatively unknown (even in Europe) and here he's tackling his first big project with a good cast and while I'll give him credit for creating some good moments it's the last half hour of the film that (I think) ultimately asks too much from audiences. Okay, we understand the main plot line of Foster's daughter disappearing on an airplane which is pretty hard to swallow to begin with but in terms of being an audience member we'll go along with it and see where it goes and where it does go is a direction that I personally can't believe. I can overlook some of the holes in the plot like Julia being able to survive hours in the freezing cargo area of the plane without becoming a human Popsicle and the shabby (and sometimes insulting) treatment that Kyle receives from the flight attendants but what I can't comprehend is how incredibly elaborate the whole plot of getting 50 million dollars wired into an account! Too many, and I mean TOO MANY things had to fall into place for something that criminally immense to take place. I never did figure out who sent Captain Rich (Bean) that wire stating that Julia was killed with her father and I know that most will say it was the bad guys on the ground but how realistic is that? Are they that capable? Foster is fine as one would expect and there are some genuine tense moments that take place but let's face it, this is just another overblown big budget effort that's aimed at an already established unsophisticated and gullible crowd.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Robert has left over 100 notebooks filled with his scribblings and a young math student named Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal) spends his time pouring over them one by one (with Catherine's permission) with the hope of finding something important. Catherine's controlling sister Claire (Hope Davis) comes in from New York for the funeral but she also wants her sister to come back to the East Coast with her because of the fear that their father's illness is hereditary. While Catherine and Claire argue about what should be done Hal suddenly emerges with one of Robert's notebooks and tells them that it contains a mathematical proof that will change the way scholars think but the real surprise comes when Catherine announces that the proof came from her and not her father!
This is directed by John Madden who worked with Paltrow before in "Shakespeare in Love" and with this effort I came away thinking that these two should team up again because Madden has shown the ability to bring out her best performances. This is adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Auburn and Paltrow reprises her role as Catherine from the London stage and I think viewers will get a good sense that she knows the inner workings of her character because her performance is the best thing about this film. The story wisely doesn't dwell on what exactly the proof is because I don't know anyone who really cared about what they were talking about in terms of mathematics because the core of the story is Catherine and whether or not she's suffering from mental illness like her father. Paltrow's performance is vital to the film because without it's strength this could have been an incredibly dull viewing experience but (for the most part) it does work and for me it's the only reason to give this a recommendation. The film is stagy and scenes are set up for characters to have long vocal confrontations with each other but at the root of the story is Catherine's frustration and paranoia and Paltrow once again demonstrates that she's an underrated actress.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** One day three mysterious strangers show up at the diner headed by a badly scarred Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris) and they waste no time in stating that Tom is actually a gangster from Philadelphia named Joey Cusack who disappeared almost 20 years ago. Tom denies the allegations but Fogarty and his men won't go away and when his family is threatened he ends up killing them at his home in a bloody confrontation. Tom finally comes clean about his past with his family and they don't know how to react to this shocking news but when his gangster brother Richie (William Hurt) calls it becomes obvious that things won't be getting any better until he finally puts an end to things.
Love him or hate him I have always been a big David Cronenberg admirer and even his most avant-garde efforts (Crash, eXistenZ) were interesting affairs and I think this is easily one of his better films. Cronenberg has shown that he's attracted to stories about characters who dwell in the shadows of reality and time and one of his gifts as a director comes from the fact that he never pulls any punches with his characters which allows for plenty of interpretation in terms of their actions. The sex scene on the stairwell for example has been called by many as gratuitous and unnecessary but I disagree because I had a feeling that it's shown for two reasons and the first has to do with the correlation between sex and violence and the adrenalin rush that both Tom and Edie were feeling at that time while the second reason has to do with Edie having sex for the first time with Joey after his real identity has been admitted. The script asks so many pertinent questions about violence such as it's importance in settling issues and disputes and one of the answers might be that it's acceptable (and unavoidable) during certain instances. One of the other interesting aspects of the story has to do with Tom's teenage son Jack (Ashton Holmes) who after discovering the truth about his father finds something in himself to justify his reaction to the school bullies and this leads to more questions about whether violence is either hereditary in some manner or just part of nature that we all have inside of us. Cronenberg doesn't use violence as a metaphor but instead uses it as the central piece for the actions of the characters and if you have to simplify what exactly the point is I think it has to do with the fact that violence is at times unavoidable but is also something that everyone has to learn to live with on some level. Okay, so many people hate this film but I came away thinking that it accomplished exactly what it set out to do and in this day and age of unimaginative and predictable Hollywood tripe I get on my knees and thank God that there are filmmakers like Cronenberg who still challenge audiences.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Once Caterina enters school she discovers that her class is divided into two main cliques with one side being the radical left intellectual socialists while the other side is the spoiled reactionary industrialist fascists. Caterina first becomes friends with Margherita (Carolina Iaquaniello) who usually buries herself in her bedroom and lights incense but when she shows herself to be too passionate about affairs it forces Caterina to keep her distance. She then becomes friendly with the incredibly rich and spoiled Daniela (Federica Sbrenna) who's father is an important politician but she proves to be shallow and inconsiderate and it leaves Caterina out of both loops. Meanwhile, Giancarlo tries to use all of his daughters friends in an attempt to get their parents to read his unpublished novel but while he's busy embarrassing himself his wife Agata (Margherita Buy) is having an affair with an old friend.
This is directed by Paolo Virzi and the general premise of his film is pretty interesting with young Caterina discovering the cultural schisms of Italian society but I felt that what Virzi wanted to say was said about halfway through with the remainder of his film becoming labored. The performances are solid with Teghil showing enough wide eyed innocence to make her character believable but the film also gives Castellitto another opportunity to prove that's he's one of Europe's finest character actors. Along with the script dragging towards the end I also had a sense that the film has a strong disdain for Rome itself and wanted to show that true happiness is found only in small communities which isn't a bad perspective but I had a feeling that this was used just as an excuse for the characters actions. I certainly didn't dislike this film and it does take an admirable stab at something that's culturally significant (are you listening Hollywood?) but the film as a whole makes it's point early enough and than ultimately becomes tiresome going down the stretch.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** As it turns out Jackson has been watching Lisa for quite some time and has purposely bought a ticket to sit next to her because he's part of a terrorist group that wants to assassinate William Keefe (Jack Scalia) who's the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security. Jackson needs Lisa to call the hotel where she works and have Keefe and his family moved to the appropriate room and if she doesn't cooperate her father will be killed by a gunman who's parked outside his home.
The story for this film is admittedly lightweight but I found the simplicity of it all refreshing in that one isn't bombarded with ridiculous situations and plot twists where the audience ends up rolling their eyes. You have to give a lot of the credit to old pro Wes Craven who lends his experience as a director to a so-so script and manages to uplift the material and make this film better than it deserves. The other thing that this has going for it is McAdams who has continued to show that she's one of the better up and coming actresses working today and even when this film starts to border on silliness McAdams screen presence saves it. I'm not going to tell anyone that they should see this because it is a film that (for the most part) is totally lacking in surprises but in terms of a suspense thriller it's not too bad mainly because of all the talent involved.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Einar Gilkyson (Robert Redford) lives on his ranch and tends daily to his friend Mitch Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who was badly mauled by a grizzly bear and needs shots of morphine for his constant pain but their lives are interrupted when Jean shows up on his doorstep asking for help. Einar blames her for the death of his son but when he finds out that Griff is the granddaughter he never knew he reluctantly agrees to let them stay. Jean gets a job in town at the local diner and even manages to start a romance with Sheriff Crane Curtis (Josh Lucas) while back at the ranch Griff helps out with Mitch's meals and morphine shots and even starts to get on Einar's good side. Things get rocky when Einar and Jean vent their guilt at each other but eventually things subside and look for the better until Gary shows up and starts more trouble.
This is directed by Lasse Hallstrom who has shown in past efforts a penchant for stories about characters who are trying to find themselves but while this isn't quite as gooey and icky as "Chocolat" it's still nowhere near as pertinent as " The Cider House Rules". This film is utterly predictable and sappy and has loads of symbolism involving the grizzly bear being locked up and while I'm the first to admit that this plays like a cheesy television movie of the week I still found this to be watchable. The script is totally devoid of surprises and everything you think is going to happen does but you have to give the cast all the credit in the world because it's their talent and star power that gets the audience through this without rolling their eyes too many times. It's hard to describe what charm this film has but I think it goes mainly to Redford and Freeman who together bring a comfort to this story and bring their characters to life. One would naturally expect a better film given the cast and director but I do have to be honest and say that this still doesn't come off as bad as I originally thought and I think that certain portions of the audience will discover this. Sure, it's a cheesy film and offers nothing new but I think (somewhere) buried in this script there's a heart and the cast gives whatever life there is to the story.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** The 4 teens are Reg (Don Sullivan AKA Scotty Beckett), Skip (Paul Pepper), Julie (Mitzie Albertson), and Pam (Brianne Murphy) and they end up being captured by a female mad scientist named Dr. Myra (Katherine Victor) and her deformed man slave Ivan (Chuck Niles) and thrown into some cages in the basement. Dr. Myra is in cahoots with some foreign agents to make a nerve gas that causes people to become zombie-like but before she tests it on the kids she uses a gorilla(!) first and discovers that her research has worked. Meanwhile, Morrie (Jay Hawk) and Dotty (Nan Green) are worried about their missing pals and go to the local sheriff's office but when they all go to the island it turns out that the Sheriff (Mike Concannon) is in business with Dr. Myra!
This is directed by the infamous Jerry Warren who along with Ed Wood was one of those filmmakers whom you could count on for low budget silliness and let's face it...this has plenty! First off, when actress Victor makes her appearance she looks like a cross between Lily Munster and Vampira (and Elvira!) and she wears these fancy evening gowns even though she's supposed to be alone on an island and even keeps them on under her lab coat. I had to scratch my head when she conveniently had cold soda pop in her cupboard for the teens and unless she and Ivan like to sit around and have a cold one you have to wonder why someone so diabolical would have soda pop. And speaking of Ivan, with that long sleeve coat he wears he looks like a combination of Quasimodo and some gangland vato but I especially couldn't help but notice that when he brought some food for the two hot looking chicks he took an extra long time leering at them. Some of the other innocuous things that made an impression on me are things like the sheriff's office which actually looks like a diner or a roadside gift shop. The raft that Reg and Skip put together has got to be the worse thing I ever saw and did they really think that a few pieces of lumber would keep the four of them afloat? Gilligan could have done a better job! Did I hear right when Morrie said that the island was 30 or 40 miles away by boat? It would take forever for anyone to get to that island and speaking of Morrie he seems like an Anthony Perkins type of person who's always rubbing his clammy little hands together and when he's talking at the sheriff's office he has this nervous look on his face like he's ready to empty his bowels. The fight that takes place in the lab towards the end of the film has got to be the worst choreographed thing I ever saw and they all look like drunks at an Easter egg hunt but I was really surprised that some dumb teenager could beat a (supposed) highly trained foreign agent in a fight. For anyone interested in some trivia you might want to know that actress Murphy who plays Pam was actually Warrens wife and she would go on to an incredibly successful career behind the scenes in both television and film. The actor who plays the vato...er...Ivan was Los Angeles disc jockey Chuck Niles and he was very popular for a number of years and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If your into low budget horror films or a connoisseur of bad cinema in general than this is definitely for you but to be honest I just have a soft spot for small films and an effort like this is quite simply a lot of fun to view.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** The story of Treadwell starts with his upbringing in New York State where he eventually went to college on a diving scholarship but after an injury he started to hang out with the wrong crowd and became a gun carrying alcoholic. After a failed career as an actor he meets Jewel Palovak and together they start an organization called Grizzly People and this is when he started heading to Alaska to spend his summers at the Katmai National Park and Reservation. Treadwell shot over 100 hours of some truly astonishing footage of the grizzlies in that area and during these tapes he talks of willing to die for these animals but not to die from them. Treadwell wrote a book and ended up on the David Letterman Show to talk about his exploits but there are some real questions to be asked such as what purpose did his being out there really accomplish?
It would be easy to say that Treadwell was merely an eccentric but the truth of the manner is that he was an extremely angry man who had become totally disillusioned by life itself and the people that he had come into contact with. Herzog is no fool and he easily see's through Treadwell and correctly makes sure that the audience doesn't make the wrong assumption that he's portraying a sympathetic view of this man, because he's not. In a startling scene Treadwell rants and raves and drops F-bombs in the direction of the Park Service whom he blames as being against him but what the shot proves is that the reason he's out there to begin with is because of his perception of not fitting into the real world. Palovak has in her possession the audio tape that recorded the screaming deaths of Treadwell and Huguenard but Herzog correctly does not allow the audience to listen to what he hears for a few seconds and tells Palovak that she should burn it not only out of respect for the friends and family of the victims but more importantly because a persons death is a private matter. Herzog's approach to this film is what really works for me and at times during his narration I felt some real anger coming from his voice and his fair reaction helps diminish the perception that Treadwell was just a goofy guy trying to do good because his actions not only resulted in his death but the even more tragic death of Huguenard who was afraid of bears and didn't even want to be there! Herzog is a master at deciphering someone like this and his film is riveting from start to finish and I'm definitely hoping that I hear the title of this film when the Academy Award nominations are announced.
Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is a mild mannered and timid British government official who married Tessa (Rachel Weisz) who's a very outspoken activist and when she travels with her husband to Africa she unravels the secret of what the drug companies are up to. After Tessa's death Justin starts asking questions and checking her e-mails that include intricate details involving fellow government officials Sandy Woodrow (Danny Huston) and Sir Bernard Pellegrin (Bill Nighy) but when he arrives at medical station in a remote part of the country he meets Marcus Lorbeer (Pete Postlethwaite) who ends up giving him the final pieces as to why Tessa was killed.
Fernando Meirelles gave everyone warning to his talents a few years ago when he made the exciting "City of God" and he seems easily destined to become one of the more interesting directors working today but I do have to admit that I think he stumbles somewhat in this his latest effort. First off, I think the good outweigh the bad and I am recommending this film because of the performances of both Fiennes and Weisz but also because of the whole scope of the story where one man seemingly dwarfed by both the politics of a third world country and the involvement of the drug companies still finds the resources in himself to get to the bottom of things. But, I'm definitely not giving this as high a praise as so many others have and I certainly don't think this is one of the years best films and a good part of the reason has to do with the overall look of the film. Meirelles has once again hired cinematographer Cesar Charlone and while their collaboration on "City of God" ended up with a film that was visually exciting to watch the same cannot be said here. The hand held camera work didn't bother me as much as it did many others but what I did notice was that the entire film lacked a crispness and clearness that is evident in very low budget films. I'm not sure if Meirelles and Charlone purposely used a low grade camera to shoot this film (hopefully the DVD will be more clear) because it's either lighter to carry in crowd scenes or maybe they were going for some artistic statement but the end result is a film that looks cheaply shot. Secondly, the story about the evil drug companies is something that we have all seen before (how many does it make now?) and if the script expect the audience to be shocked by these events than it fails on that level because most (if not all) viewers already know this long before they step into the theater. What does work is watching Fiennes character learn more about his wife than he did before her death and seemingly fall in love with her all over again. This is the base of the script and in conveying this Fiennes once again shows that he's one of the best actor's in the world. Like I said earlier, I am giving this a recommendation and I do hope people check out this film because it does have a lot to offer and instead of throwing away your money on some inane Hollywood nonsense one might want to view something a little more challenging.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Mark Kinner (Fred McCarren) and Roger Lowrie (Jeff Harlan) work for Syndicated Mines, Inc. and they have invited Trish Michaels (Rebecca Balding) and Jessica Ford (Anne-Marie Martin) to stay with them but when they use dynamite and open up an old mine it releases some mutant creatures that are able to make their way up into the basement and start to kill the unsuspecting occupants. Lurking around the mine is an old man named Greenwalt (Jon Lormer) who knows the horrible history of the mine but by the time he tries to warn everyone it's too late!
This film is directed by James L. Conway who has become a pretty good television director and he does a better than adequate job with this because if anything else it's a nicely shot film capturing the scenic locations of beautiful Utah. The film is very careful not to allow the audience to see the actual Boogens until probably the last 15 minutes and let's face it...they don't look that intimidating at all. They look like the baby dragons from the film "Dragonslayer" but these little darlings have long tentacles that help them drag their victims down into their tunnels. I do have two questions about the actual Boogens and the first has to do with why they're called Boogens. The only time we hear the name used is when the old guy is in the underground cavern and when they start attacking he mutters "Boogens". Secondly, how did the Boogens survive all those years underground with nothing to eat? Also, the Boogens don't seem to eat their victims because when they find Roger's body all that seemed to happen was his face being chewed on a bit. When do they eat? The script runs the usual gamut of young people in a cabin being attacked like the one obnoxious guy who's a sex fiend and shouts "you dare to question the virility of Hormone Man?". Balding has a nice wholesome screen presence and provides the film's only two nude scenes (which I would like to thank her for) but her (blossoming) boyfriend Mark who while sincere still comes off as slow to react. Besides Balding, the only other familiar faces in the cast are character actors Lormer and Med Flory and the film is surprisingly small in terms of the amount of actors used. The script doesn't offer any surprises and the story is pretty basic offering some monsters and a little nudity and gore but it comes across as nothing more than a by the numbers horror flick. It's not badly made and the dialog is believable but it just doesn't have that something special to get anyone excited.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Lurking around the house is Russ Thorn (Michael Villella) who's an escaped mental patient and armed with a two foot power drill that he uses to kill everyone that he comes in contact with. From horny boyfriends to oddball neighbors Thorn kills them all and starts to pile them into the trunk of a car but it's the pretty teenage girls at the party that seem to be where his real interest lies.
This is directed by Amy Holden Jones and written by Rita Mae Brown and just goes to show that even female movie makers want to make money because this is one of those films that has become a cult favorite. You know your about to see an exploitation classic when during the opening credits actress Michaels has already started getting naked for the camera! We have all seen our share of shower scenes but the one that takes place at school in the girls gym makes you re-check who made this film because you would swear that a man was involved. The camera pans from one girls tight butt up to their perky boobs and then moves on to the next girl where we see the same thing! While the camera pans from one naked girl to the next it's absolutely impossible to concentrate on what exactly they are chatting about but the scene is there for one point and it's to show nudity and nothing more! There were a few things that I couldn't help but notice and the first is the goofy (and seemingly sexually indifferent) neighbor David who spends his Friday nights by the woodpile killing snails with a cleaver. He didn't seem to care that there are some hot chicks parading around and instead mutters "that makes 53 tonight"! Stille who plays Valerie is the spittin' image of Virginia Madsen and as big a compliment as that is it was Jennifer Meyers (as Courtney) who stayed in my mind because she's one of the few girls I have seen sporting a mullet for a hairdo. The cast is basically unknowns but the one familiar face (and body!) that is recognizable is Brinke Stevens who plays Linda and she's the first nude body that we see in the shower scene. What makes this film work is how basic it's premise is as it has the usual gratuitous nudity and gore and show's you early on who the killer is without having the audience think who might be the one responsible. It's simplicity makes this a film that's hard to dislike as it delivers exactly what it advertises and offers none of the ridiculous plot twists that usually has viewers rolling their eyes. This has become quite the cult sensation and it's fairly easy to see why and while it's certainly no cinema classic it is a piece of exploitation that works perfectly on it's own.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** The uncle is Gustav Weil (Peter Cushing) who is ultra religious and part of a puritan group called the Brotherhood who grab young girls and burn them at the stake if their moral convictions are in question. Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas) is into evil doings like sacrificing virgins but when the blood of one of his victims drips into a tomb the body of Countess Mircalla (Katya Wyeth) is resurrected. Mircalla bites Karnstein on the neck and now he's a vampire and has his eyes on Weil's twin nieces. Maria is kind and docile but Freida definitely has a wild side and sneaks out at night to visit the Count which ends in her becoming a vampire as well.
This film is directed by John Hough (Legend of Hell House, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry) who was a pretty competent director in his day and while this was his third film it was his first high profile project. Originally the producers wanted Ingrid Pitt to reprise her role as Mircalla in a glorified cameo but it never happened and led to the casting of Wyeth who strangely completely disappears after her one and only scene. Where did she go? Cushing has a very showy performance and plays against what he usually does in these types of films and it's definitely not a "good guy" role. Cushing and his cohorts would simply snag up any woman they could get their hands on and burn them at the stake and utter "the young must be chastised" as his explanation. Between Cushing's burning at the stake and Thomas's sacrificing virgins one has to wonder how there were any females left in the village under the age of 25! The script in this third entry is definitely different than the first two as it has no lesbian storyline at all but still boasts a few scenes of nudity. The film is promoted by the fact that the two lead roles are of the Collinson twins who were Playboy magazine's first twin sister playmates but if your expecting explicit and gratuitous nudity than you'll probably be disappointed. Madeleine Collinson has a nice nude scene towards the end but other than that (and the sacrifice of a topless virgin) the film is nearly void of the sensuality that was prevalent in the first two films. The film's funniest scene comes when Karnstein's black mute slave enters the room and starts waving his arms like he's trying to signal a rescue plane or something and the Count (in true charade mode) says,"...they have torches...and crosses..." and while it's easy to laugh it's still a scene that proves that this is the weaker of the trilogy. Still, it's a Hammer film with blood and nudity and has Cushing giving one of the liveliest performances of his career which is more than enough to give this a hearty recommendation.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Dr. Fales is in charge of a weekly therapy group and he's sexually involved with two members including Julie (Marianna Hill) who has an advice column in the local paper and has been receiving strange letters from someone who contemplates murder. When members of Dr. Fales group start popping up dead the police (Richard Herd & Joe Regalbuto) start to wonder who might be responsible like Julie's ex-husband Doug (Craig Wasson), Gilbert (Christopher Lloyd) the horny maintenance man, Dr. Fales himself or the uncontrollable Alison.
This is directed by David Paulsen who was a television writer but had also made another slasher-like flick earlier in his career but never seemed to make the best of his film efforts. Let's just come right out and say that Paulsen seems totally unable to deliver anything resembling suspense and the murders that we do see are shot in an incredibly clumsy manner and the music that accompanies these scenes (what happened Craig Hundley?) has got to be the worst I've ever heard. Talk about annoying! Two things that I noticed while watching this stand in my memory like the fact that Kinski smokes through the entire film. Besides the fight sequence at the end I can't remember one scene where he doesn't have a cigarette either in his hand or his mouth. In one scene Hill finally takes one away from him and puts it out! The second thing is the size of Dr. Fales house...it's the biggest thing I've ever seen! Scarlett O'Hara would be envious! I know psychiatrists make a pretty good living but...HOLY COW! This wouldn't be your typical 80's slasher flick without nudity and Kinski himself has two sex scenes with a stripper and Hill but it's the shots of a nude Wilkes (TV's Hello, Larry and B-film favorite Angel) that is primarily the highlight. The familiar faces in the cast help the viewer get through this (admittingly) sub par effort including Kinski (one of my personal favorites) but also Hill who was always a good actress. Sure it's bad, but I think it's a watchable bad film.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** When Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) think they have found Le Tenia (Jo Prestia) in the bowels of that nightmarish club Marcus ends up with a broken arm while Pierre saves him (from rape) by bludgeoning the man with a fire extinguisher. While all this goes on the real Le Tenia is off to the side laughing at the events that have taken place! The story continues in reverse where we see how everything ended up so horribly from getting information from a she-male hooker to a couple of vigilante thugs who help in their search. Alex (Monica Bellucci) is the girlfriend of Marcus and the ex-wife of Pierre but the three of them get along and are at a party when she leaves suddenly and is attacked and anally raped. Before the party Marcus and Alex were in their apartment in bed but when he leaves to pick something up at the store Alex finds out that she is indeed pregnant.
This is only the second film for director Gaspar Noe but even if your part of the demographic that hated this effort I think Noe makes it clear that he's a young filmmaker to watch. His first film was "I stand Alone" and if you look at both of his choices in directing than one might say that Noe's attracted to characters that have a difficult time controlling themselves. The graphic nature in which this story is told is easily going to put off certain portions of the audience but for those with stronger stomaches the skill in which this was made is clearly evident. I was one who at first wasn't sure if the wrong man was killed at the beginning of the film and I had to look on this website to be sure but for those of you who are still confused the wrong guy was killed. This is arguably the most important part of the story in which it shows the futility of revenge and a second rape was only seconds away from occurring! Still, I'm with most of the critics who are tired of the "Memento" style of storytelling and it's become passé in the world of cinema and you have to wonder just how effective this film would have been otherwise. I'm not saying that this is a terrific film because I really don't think it is but I did find it visually and audibly interesting and gives notice that Noe is a talent to watch in the future.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** The story follows these two as Alfredo Berlinghieri (Robert DeNiro) inherits his fathers land after his death while Olmo Dalco (Gerard Depardieu) continues to live among the peasants and while they try and remain friends it becomes difficult with the separation between landowners and workers. Fascism is on the rise and Alfredo's foreman Attila (Donald Sutherland) becomes a blackshirt and he and his cohorts start to threaten the rest of the residents in the area. Over the years Alfredo marries Ada Fiastri Paulhan (Dominique Sanda) but she becomes disillusioned with her husbands cowardice and apathetic attitude to the point where she not only sympathizes with the workers but she becomes an alcoholic and leaves Alfredo. With the end of WWII and Mussolini the peasants kill Attila and decide to hold a mock trial for Alfredo in which they will decide his fate but it's Olmo who convinces everyone that what he symbolizes is already dead.
Director Bernardo Bertolucci has always been one of my favorite filmmakers and God knows I would never miss one of his films but I'm the first to admit that viewing 1900 is indeed a chore. The film's style can definitely be compared to the great Sergio Leone (in length as well) but Bertolucci's personal stamp is readily evident in several scenes such as the graphic nudity and the beautiful Italian countryside. Many viewers and critics have pointed out several of the (so-called) flaws in the story such as the portrayal of the peasants who come across as unsympathetic and I'm in agreement with this because the scene in which a worker cuts his own ear off serves no purpose at all and what exactly did Alfredo do that was so horrible that the people put him on trial? Being born into wealth? Apathy? These are not crimes! For me, one scene stands out that seems to belong in another film and it's where Alfredo and Ada snort some cocaine which makes one wonder how prevalent that drug was in the early parts of the 20th century. There are some glaring events in this attempted epic that might have viewers scratching their heads but for me this ambitious film represents the type of project that other directors should want to tackle (at least once) in their careers. Okay, the script goes all over the place but not once can I say I was bored watching this (I've seen it twice so far) and that's a tribute to Bertolucci who has consistently given audiences films to be talked about.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Elena meets 21 year old Fernando (Libero De Rienzo) who's a law student and he ends up sneaking into the two sisters bedroom at night for some fun but Elena tells him that she's saving her virginity although he still manages to talk her into two other forms of intimacy. Eventually Fernando does have intercourse with Elena but her mother (Arsinee Khanjian) finds out and gets very upset to the point that she cancels the rest of the vacation and pours her two daughters into the car so that they can drive back home. During the long drive Elena's mother is still fuming and tells her that they might have her inspected which would add to her humiliation but things unexpectedly turn tragic when the three of them are attacked while at a rest stop.
Director Catherine Breillat has not only dealt before with the theme of exploring ones sexuality she's pretty much made her whole career out of it and she's always been a filmmaker that's been deemed controversial so I wasn't entirely shocked by the sudden ending. If one can (somewhat) try and forget the last 10 minutes they might remember that everything that came before it is actually pretty interesting starting with the fact that Breillat makes the younger sister the wisest of the two. Being a woman Breillat offers no sympathy to young female characters in her films since she understands their motives like the pretty Elena who want's love before sex but forces herself to believe Fernando's words and allows him to have his way. Breillat once again doesn't shy away from nudity in her films and here there is an extended sequence with Fernando and Elena in bed that lasts probably well over 15 minutes with the two of them naked as he seduces her and in case you were wondering...yes, that's a prosthetic penis he's wearing which explains his brief but horse hung appearance. Those who are confused by the ending might want to remember that Anais wanted to lose herself to a stranger not to mention that the assailant killed her pretty sister and chose to have sex with her instead but my question is did Breillat need that type of ending to make her point? I don't think so and you can't argue with those who hated it but I do think this is a thought provoking film that deserves not only a viewing but a tough discussion afterward. That's more than enough reason to recommend this and you have to respect any director who offers a challenge to it's audience which is what Breillat has been doing for some time.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Meanwhile, one Dr. Krallman (Jose Elias Moreno) needs a heart for his dying son Julio (Agustin Martinez Solares) so with the help from his gimp assistant Goyo (Carlos Lopez Moctezuma) they steal a gorilla from the local zoo and use it's organ. Not long after the operation Julio transforms into a half beast half human monster that breaks free and starts a murderous rampage of killing men and tearing the clothes off of women. Krallman and Goyo use a tranquilizer gun to stop him and bring him back but they also go to the hospital and abducts the female wrestler that was injured and they use her heart. They think everything will be fine after removing the gorilla heart and replacing it with one that's human but that darn monkey blood has still remained in Julio's system and he once again turns into the beast!
This low budget Mexican horror flick was directed by Rene Cardona who is part of the infamous Cardona family and along with his son they together have made several entertaining exploitation films such as this. Where do I begin with my observances? First off, this film is very bloody and boasts scenes involving decapitations, eye gouging, throat ripping, and stock footage of a real heart transplant that gives this some sort of weird credence for fans of gore. But let's face it, this is one of those "it's so bad it's good" efforts that even got the title wrong considering there is only one ape and I couldn't help but notice the shot of a real orangutan before the phony shot of the guy in the worst ape costume I have ever seen. This film is also horribly dubbed with mouths moving in one direction and words obviously muttering something else but they also had the English voices incorrectly pronouncing the letter "J" with Julio being pronounced with the American "J" and not like an "H". It's also hard not to notice that the half beast half human monster wouldn't hesitate for one second to kill every man it came into contact with but with the women his priority was to get their clothes off! It's hard to hate a monster for that reason and I guess even half beast half human creatures get horny too! Obviously that's the human side of him but it also makes me think that if you take a beast that's 99% ape and 1% human that would be enough of a human side to make it horny for naked women. There's two other things that I couldn't help but notice like the police car that almost hits the crowd of people at a murder scene and the fake grass that moves from a woman fighting with the monster revealing the floor of the soundstage! If your looking for a cheap exploitation film than you don't have to look any further because this effort delivers the goods and has plenty of gratuitous nudity and cheap gore to entertain those who enjoy this genre.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** During Rublyov's journey he witnesses first hand many of the atrocities that are taking place in his country including a pagan orgy (in which he is tempted) and the Tartar raids that has Rublyov himself killing another man. All of this leads to Rublyov making a vow of silence, "I have nothing more to say to men" but over the next year he witnesses the casting and raising of a bell by a bell-maker's son (Nikolai Burlyayev) who knows that he will killed by the Grand Prince if it is not successfully completed. Rublyov is so moved by this that it restores his faith (spiritually and artistically) and tells the boy that they should go together, "You'll cast bells. I'll paint icons".
With this one film director Andrei Tarkovsky has achieved something that most (if not all) other filmmakers could only dream of but he still had to deal with the Russian censors who forced Tarkovsky to edit certain scenes of brutality. The question of what is art and what inspires it has been a debate with Tarkovsky throughout his career but with Andrei Rublyov he seems to use him as a metaphor for where artistic motivation comes from. Without poverty and inhumanity would there be art? Tarkovsky asks these questions but this film is more than just thought provoking because it's also one of the most visually stunning cinematic efforts I have ever seen. Cinematographer Vadim Yusov's haunting black and white imagery makes the bleak Russian countryside look absolutely breathtaking and this is one the finest films ever shot. At 205 minutes this fragmented and episodic film covers events from 1400 to 1423 and while other films are lucky to have at least one memorable scene in it this seems to be one incredible shot after another and the casting of the bell stands as one the most indelible celluloid microcosms ever captured. From the opening scene to the end shots where the viewer can see Rublyov's actual paintings Tarkovsky's epic film is indeed a masterpiece and it's the perfect example of cinema as art.