Sunday, 30 September 2012

Looper (2012)

Looper is an intellectually clever take on the paradox's of time travel. I was not alone in being confused briefly that the travel was from 2044 to our present.  Nearly all the movie takes place in 2044, but the time travelers are arriving from 2074. A couple of these trips I have yet to figure out.(Spoiler alert an explanation, and a better one) The Looper universe is perfectly formed. The Kid from 3rd rock from the Sun has developed into a great actor. A story about killing your future self is totally captivating. I would call it a low level action movie, that does not quite live up to the hype. That said I really enjoyed it and it was worth the trip  to experience it on the big screen.

Three point nine Stars.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Machete (2010)

Action ExploitationFilms are typically B movies lacking production values. Robert Rodriguez has proven you can make a great movie for $10 million.
His campy movies attract great audiences and great stars. No action movie character actor has a better resume than Danny Tejo. In Machete he plays Machete. Also in the lineup, Jessica Alba, Robert De Niro, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez and Steven Seagal. Machete sees his wife slaughtered before his eyes, and as fate would have it years later he is caught up in a chain of events leading to a death match with his nemesis. If you’re not a fan of senseless violence, blood gore and simple plotting do not watch this. I thought it was for this genre a masterpiece.

Four Stars

Hitman (2007)

A movie based upon a video game. Overall I like this genre. Following the formula 47 is a member of a secret society; raised from childhood to be hit men.  An unrecognizable Timothy Olyphant (Justified, Deadwood) is the only name you will recognize in this movie. He is betrayed, turns against the organization and of course befriends an exotic prostitute. It grossed $100 million worldwide and was a critical bomb. Rotten Tomatoes gave it 14%. I disagree, its as good as most betrayed member of omnipotent organization movie.

Three Stars

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A brilliant book made into a brilliant movie. Near perfection, aged impeccably, as fresh today as it was 40 years ago. The synthesized Beethoven IMHO is the best soundtrack ever. Stanley Kubrick is arguably the greatest director ever, 2001 was his second best movie, Clockwork Orange was number one. 

Ten Stars

True Romance (1993)

A movie overstuffed  from every angle with talent. Script by Quinton Tarantino, directed by Tony Scott, starring Christian Slater at a time he was the new Jack Nicolson and Patricia Arquette. The villain Christopher Walken, the father Dennis Hopper, the roommate Brad Pitt. Other characters of note; Val Kilmer, Samuel Jackson, Gary Oldman and playing a mob foot soldier  James Gandolfini. Essentially it’s a road movie. It bombed at the box office but is now a solid 91% fresh.
Certainly one of my favorite movies of the 90’s and easily in my top twenty of all time.

Five Stars

Deathrace (2008)

A movie whose premise does not seem promising. In the near future privatized prisons raise money by having prisoners race armed cars on a closed course. Win 6 races and you go free. However Jason Statham carries this movie brilliantly. Bottom line if you like Jason Statham movies, you will like this one.
Three Stars

Saturday, 22 September 2012


Crank (R for every reason)
5       The star of Transporter tries to make a Layer Cake. It falls flat.
R could stand for ridiculous

The Illusionist

The illusionist  (Pg-13)
Well made tale of late gothic magic. Taut storytelling that sustains interest long after the conclusion is forgone.


Dune (PG-13)
6       David Lynch directs this Frank Hebert existential SF-story. Lynch falls into the trap of trying to explain the Dune world. The mistake was trying to fit such a perfect creation into two hours. Nevertheless, a movie one must see. As usual, better if you have read the book.


Unleashed ( R) Violence, language
A bit silly really. Jet Li fights great and acts well. Bo Hoskins is always a realistic mobster. However, the premise is a kick to high.

Time Bandits

Time Bandits (G)
7        Not Monty Python but almost. A film made for pre teens but solid entertainment for all.

The Devils Rejects (2005)

Inspired by The Texas Chain Saw Massacure this story of a sadistically dysfunctional family is a nihilistic masterpiece. Rotten Tomatoes was split at 53%. I would put it in the 80's. If you like the genre you will squirm with delight.

Four stars


Sahara (PG 13)
7        A treasure hunt movie with a social conscience.  If you allow yourself to pretend its full of possibilities, it is a good flick.

Ong Bak

Ong –Bak (PG) violence
8  You do not notice the subtitles. This un-Hollywood film is an enthralling Thai version of the stolen talisman story. This fantastic and completely realistic martial arts story deserves patronage. It is also a sweet glimpse at Thai culture

The Prince and Me

The Prince and Me (PG)
7 Better than average real life fairy tale aimed at young teens. Adults also will enjoy this solid comedy romance.


Bookies ( R ) for drug use.
7  A convincing tale of young entrepreneurs on campus. You do not have to take a gamble, you will like this movie.

Layer Cake

Layer Cake (R) 
7 Fans of Snatch will like it. A complex web of English mob machinations. Not great but good.


Matador (PG-14)
6 Pierce Brosnan creates a delightfully troubled hit man. All the essentials of a great movie but its no killer.


Anchorman ( R  for sex jokes)
6 A SNL extension that comes dangerously close to bombing. Solid cast and minor gut busters makes it worthwhile but hardly a classic

Man on Fire

Man on Fire (PG-14)
7 Not as good as Training Day, few movies are. A clich├ęd but solid bodyguard redemption flick.  Denzel Washington adds to his legend.

Out of Time (2003)

Really a terrific spin on a genre I will not identify for obvious reasons. Aside from Denzel Washington and Eva Mendes no names here. But the stars shine in this movie. Surprisingly the director Carl Franklin has not created a superstar track record and has moved on to TV miniseries (The Pacific) and network TV (Falling Skies).Both hardly outstanding. Out of Time is an extremely well directed movie spinning a web of circumstance so artfully you can feel the pressure. A very simple movie that moves, one of my favorites.

Five Stars

Perfect Score

Perfect Score (PG 14)
6  A nice little teen flick with universal appeal. Group of losers bonds while trying to beat the SAT system.

I love Huckabees

I Y Huckabees (R)
3  A failed attempt to communicate some philosophy. An ambitious movie, but un-watchable.

Sin City

Sin City (R)
8 Surrealistic gangster movie with Bruce Willis. Filmed to look like a black and white comic book. Weird but nearly wonderful.

Blade Trilogy

Blade 1,2 and 3 ( R for violence)
7,7and 8   Arguably the best comic book trilogy. X-men and Spiderman have a less plausible premise, but a bigger spectacle. With Blade it is easy to suspend your incredulity.

True Romance (1993)

A great movie starts with a great story. Quentin Tarintino wrote the sizzling script, and Tony Scott masterfully directed.
Extreme cast with more stars than are in the sky, including a Tony Soprano cameo. Star-crossed lovers wrapped up in a double-dealing drug run. Story moves effortlessly and absolutely believably. Perhaps the purest anti-hero movie ever made. Rotten Tomatoes loved it, but it was a box office bust taking in only $13 million, just under its cost. An absolutely awesome movie.

Ten stars (out of five)

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights (PG 15 for sexual themes)
9 Based on a true story of a west Texas high school run at the 1988 state championships. Of this oft-told story, this is by far the best movie. Even if you don’t like sports you will still enjoy this movie.

Di Vinci Code

Di Vinci Code (PG12)
7 Both leads seem miscast. Movie is faithful to the book. I expect it to have a greater theological impact than The Passion. It would have been a better movie had more secrets been kept till later

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Mans Chest (PG 11)
7 To long, Captain Sparrow began to wear a bit thin. Too much swashbuckling. Still better than most of the class of 2006. The CGI was incredible. Fortunately, the director chose not to make technology the star. Expect like LOTR, the 3rd segment will be terrific.

American Beauty (1999)

A movie that raises the question of what would Willie Loman be like if he were a stoner? Laser cutting dark depiction of late 20th century suburban America. A skin crawling examination of life as we know it. Star Studded winner of Best Picture,Actor,Screenplay,Director and Cinematography Oscar. Before there was True Blood or Six Feet under Allan Ball wrote this brilliant screenplay. A movie that cemented Sam Mendes in the A list. Other than Skyfall none of his later movies can hold a candle to American Beauty.

The Rundown

Rundown (PG 14 violence)
9 The Rock is thoroughly believable, and the story is grand. Superb execution brings action, wit and charm to the quest movie genre. It is absurd this movie is not already a classic. If you liked Romancing the Stone, you will love this movie.

High Fidelity

High Fidelity (PG 14)
7 John Cusack at his offbeat best. Jack Black before he was Jack Black. Slice of life and search for true love 90’s retro style

How to lose a Guy in ten dates

How to lose a Guy in 10 dates (PG)
7 Good early 21st century version of classic 60’s screwball comedy.
Enjoyable chemistry between two leads whom individually lack a full table of elements.2

Starship Troopers (1997)

 Robert Heinlein's vision realized in a what was once mocking but now increasingly realistic style.  It is chilling how Philip K Dick and Heinlein foresaw our future so accurately.“ If you want to know more” watch this movie.

Four Stars

Yes Starship Trooper

Dusk till Dawn

Dusk till Dawn (R for gore and some nudity)
7 George Cloney surrounded by dimmer stars in tale of brotherly love on the lam in a Mexican strip bar that most only visit once. It works!


Kalifornia  (R)
8 David Duchovny of X-files fame in a classic road movie filled with senseless death. The beauty is it is an examination of senseless death in an era where that was still a subject to be examined

Fright Night

Fright Night (PG with some bare breasts)
7 Chris Sarandon and Roddy McDowell in a semi spoof of the vampire genre. It has aged well and deserves continued viewing.

Life of Brian

Life of Brian (R for themes)
8 Interesting note, George Harrison mortgaged his house to fund the $4 million needed for this project. The Python crew set their sights on organized religions role in society and score. Some mistake this movie as a satire on Christianity, its thrusts are far more wide ranging. Bottom line, you will laugh.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (PG 13)
10 the quintessential Python. This spot on satire lampooning the power of the myth is a masterpiece. Expect to choke with laughter. It is simply a timeless comic rant. Made for $400,000 in the 80’s. They used coconuts because they could not afford horses.

Cat Balou (1965)

 A young Jane Fonda breaking into superstar ranks. A terrific spoof of westerns with a legendary cast. A tale of redemption and rebellion. It oozes goodness, a reflection of the time (60’s) in which it was made. It can be considered a musical that people who hate musicals will love. Rated as the 10th best Western of all time. I would not be that kind, but its a timeless classic in any list.

Four Stars


Syriana (PG for PG)
6 George Cloney’s deep thinker. A Costa Graves thriller without Costa. Great story, great acting, perhaps the editing lacked the same. Perhaps the story has become unfortunately pedestrian.

Resident Evil

Resident Evil (R for Gore)1 & 2 
7&8 Milla Jovovick’s Great Zombie movies, Milla is Milla, although she seems to lose some hotness between movies. These movies try to warn everyone. How the surrender to superior security inevitably follows the law of unintended consequences, unleashing blowback that obviates safety exponentially. Are these movies portents of the future? I hope not, but you really cannot rule it out.

The New World

The New World (PG).
5 Colin Farrell as John Smith .A well done cinematic historical with absolutely no fizzle or drama. PBS could have made this better. Interesting, but not truly entertaining.

Total Recall

Total Recall (PG 16 for Adult)
9 Best rendition of the now ubiquitous Philip K Dick. Arnolds best movie, Sharon Stones breakthrough flick. Action packed sci-fi full of twists and humour.

The Sting (1973)

Once again George Roy Hills pairing of Redford and Newman turn vividness into cinematic magic. A must see tale of greed and grifting. Universally aclaimed as one of, if not the greatest movies of all time.

Ten Stars

The Outlaw Josey Wales

The Outlaw Josey Wales (PG 13)
10 Clint Eastwood at the end of his spaggttic western days. If you only watch one Clint western classic, pick this one.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. (PG 12)
10+  A true story about the end of the old West. Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, re-define the buddy movie. A must see for the whole family.

Blade Runner

Blade Runner (PG 13 for minor nudity)
6 Harrison Ford is first-rate as a future detective. A visually stunning adaptation of Philip K. Dicks gloomy future vision. Unfortunately, the story did not age well. It is good as a time waster or for deep thinking activation.

Silence of the Lambs

Silence of the Lambs (R for gore)
10 Jodi Foster tour d force. Plot turns and suspense combine with an epic serial tale to create a hypnotic thriller.


Seven (R for sick)
8 Brad Pitt breakthrough movie, excellent cast including Morgan Freeman, very compelling view of the dark side. A trendsetter built upon the success of Silence of the Lambs. Plot takes 7 deadly sins and makes a bloody statement about each.

Saw 2

Saw II
6 more of the same but less original. More information does not necessarily lead to more enjoyment


Saw  (R for sick)
7 Gristly psychopath movie full of imaginative mayhem. A flick that is often discomforting but ultimately riveting.  For those who enjoyed 7 they will love this.

Lawrence of Arabia

Lawrence of Arabia ( PG 12 for violence)
10 True early 20th century Middle East history delivered by David Lean as an iconic epic. It is a timeless movie beautifully filmed and extraordinary in every sense. A must see for everyone. As I write this in 2006, we can only hope Lawrence rises from the dead.

Shawn of the Dead

Shawn of the Dead (PG 16 for Blood)
9 Witty deadpan comedy Zombie movie, a gut busting slice of life depiction of a horrific event.  Boomers will especially enjoy this genre transcending bloody screwball comedy romance. For others reactions will be hot or cold. 


Undead (R for Gore)
6+  A well-intentioned Australian half spoof of the Zombie phenomenon.  Worth watching once for the clever wrinkle added to the genre.  

The Firm

The Firm- (PG14 for adult themes)
 8+ Tom Cruise, Gene Hackmen and a super strong cast in a typically excellent John Grisham story.  Intricately plotted, ending with a cascade of intelligent intersections that weaves a satisfying cinematic mosaic.

Skeleton Key

Skeleton Key (PG 14 for intensity)
8 Supernatural Hoodoo thriller hooks and holds you. Clever story, better crafted but reminiscent of 6th sense. Watch this great 14 plus family movie.

Dawn of the Dead

Dawn of the Dead George Romero(R for blood)
7 + Appropriate and realistic gore, story driven, happy- ending, biting social commentary. This strong effort depicting life in the post Zombie era, succeeds in suspending disbelief.

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Fifth Element (1997)

It’s a masterpiece of action and science fiction full of comedic relief. There are no pretentions here and while they are very similar that’s the reason Fifth Element continues to entertain me while I find re-watching Blade Runner painful. It’s a French production written and directed by Luc Besson who later married the movies stunning star, Milla Jovoivch in her breakthrough role. She is now well known as Eve in the Resident Evil Franchise. Who is the greatest action hero of all time, debatably its Bruce Willis, and he plays a wisecracking ex-cop who saves the galaxy. I should note I am not a Bruce Wills fanboy.  Borrowing heavily from the blade runner universe the plot revolves around a quest to save the galaxy from an ancient evil. Science Fiction is my favorite genre, and while the Fifth Element is not outstanding or original in an epoch way, it hits all the right notes and is a sincere crafted celebration of Science Fiction. The clip of the opera(sound by Sarah Brightman) is a unique moment in film.

Its one of those movies you will love or hate. Rotten Tomato’s gives it 73% and Rodger Ebert hated it. The domestic box office and critical acclaim was meh, but it did over $200 million worldwide. So far it has not been critical redeemed and you will not find it on many best of lists.
 Five Stars.

The Trailer

The Culture

The Movie (may have been taken down if not enjoy)

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Surprisingly this movie is based upon a short story written by Stephen King. What makes it surprising is there are no elements of the supernatural present, and it may be King’s finest bit of storytelling.  Frank Darabont the director is now well known as the director of the first season of The Walking Dead, and other Stephen King movies. This was his first movie and although it was critically acclaimed it was a box office dud. What the heck was wrong with people in 1994? Today it’s a universally loved movie by all who have seen it. It’s a prison movie. Tim Robbins is the fish out of water lead and Morgan Freeman his prison mentor. The conclusion is brilliant, uplifting and soul satisfying, a religious experience. Best prison movie and best drama without stooping to maudlin.

Five Stars

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

A laugh out loud to the point of choking movie, and there are so few of those, and fewer still that can elicit the same response after repeated viewings. The last movie I can remember that even looked at this bar was The Hangover. Steve Martin has never made a bad movie; the same cannot be said of John Candy. PTA creates a chemistry neither could bottle. The director John Hughes was most famous for his Home Alone movies. This film has that same corny but endearing quality that became his trademark. As the title indicates it’s a road movie about the struggle to navigate home for Christmas.

Five Stars; do not consume liquids while watching this movie, they will come out of your nose.

Apocalypse Now (1979/1986)

Apocalypse Now is my hands down pick for not only the greatest war movie, not only the movie which most accurately captures the zeitgeist of its time, but is the greatest achievement in filmmaking to date. I do not think it’s possible for it to be topped. First Francis Ford Coppla, is one of the most talented and unorthodox directors ever. Next the story was based upon the Iconic study of conflict Heart of Darkness. Marlon Brando and his ilk will never be seen again. Filmed on location in the Philippines it captures the chaos, horror and joy of war like no other movie. I came of age during this time, and this is how the 70’s were. This movie seething with anti-war sentiment came out 4 years before the Vietnam War ended. In the 21st century the only comparable and totally impossible event would be a 911 movie portraying 911 as a false flag coming out in 2002.  All the main character are legends now.  Watch this movie on the biggest screen you can find, with the best sound system available.
It was a star amongst stars at the time, and it holds up like no other movie of my youth I have ever revisited.

Colonel Kurtz sums it up best when he says “Charging someone with murder during a war is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500”

Ten Stars
The soundtrack featured The Doors and a Wagner Classic

28 Days Later (2002)

If you liked Trainspotting,  The Beach or Slumdog Millionaire this movie will thrill you.  All were directed by Danny Boyle. Twenty eight days later follows the Zombie movie handbook,  Jim wakes up in a London hospital  unaware he is one a handful of live humans.  If like me you don’t recognize any of the actors do not let this deter you. 28 DL is IMHO the best Zombie movie ever (and it has a sequel).  The soundtrack is sublime,  the song In a house-In a Heartbeat is most effective.  Jim meets up with other survivors and they flee London.

Sanctuary is not what it seems, when you watch on DVD there is an alternative ending.  Its just a terrific movie. Critically and commercially the movie was a success.

Five Stars.