Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Here's a quick rundown of films I've slacked on reviewing as of late:

Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang (1981) - Badass Shaw Bros flick about competing martial arts styles. Highly Recommended for Wuxia kung-fu fans.

Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1983) - Spellbinding video art project about the faceless nature of technology and society; extremely provocative and moody. Highly Recommended.

Electra Glide in Blue (1974) - Really daring, really '70s (in the best possible way) cop movie about Robert Blake fighting for police procedure in Texas; Hot Fuzz influence is tangible. Highly Recommended.

Amos and Andrew (1993) - Tepid, shallow comedy that pretends to involve Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson in racially charged, and not retardedly contrived, comedic antics. Skip it, save for those who really NEED to see Jackson approximate Spike Lee/Cornell West.

Free Money (1998) - Odd, but diverting DTV comedy effort that rests on its star power (not hard; it includes Charlie AND Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Thomas Haden Church, Mira Sorvino, David Arquette, and Donald Sutherland). Slightly Recommended for fans of quirky, southern crime flicks and that cast.

District B13: Ultimatum (2009) - Very strong, fast-paced, well-directed action sequel; taking time to reunite two leads is inspired choice that makes this only ever-so-slightly inferior. Highly Recommended for fans of the original and/or fast moving, kinetic action flicks.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) - Boring sequel that rests, like other boring sequels, on the strengths of their kills; thankfully, here, Renny Harlin makes them pretty spectacular and worthwhile. Skip It, save for Freddy (and by that I mean goofy, wisecracking Freddy) aficionados.

Cheech & Chong's Hey Watch This! (2010) - Concert film chronicling the reunion of legendary stoner duo, with both great new material and hilarious renditions of classic bits. Recommended for fans of stoner humor.

The V.I.P.'s (1963) - Strong, airport-set chamber drama with excellent turns by Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Maggie Smith, and Orson Welles. Recommended for fans of Taylor-Burton, or similarly relationship-themed films of the era.

Ice Station Zebra (1968) - Apparently Howard Hughes' favorite film late in life, Rock Hudson and Patrick McGoohan are capable action leads opposite hammy Ernest Borgnine and Jim Brown in this large-scaled, well-devised Arctic set action flick. Recommended for fans of somewhat cheesy '60s action/sci-fi, or the thoroughly badass McGoohan.

Detour (1945) - Badass little noir that gets squirelly protaganist to try and convince the audience that he is not guilty of the crimes that he is wanted for; brilliant spin is that we don't necessarily believe the story he is telling, while he insists that, despite it's unbelievability, it really is the truth. Highly recommended for fans of classic noir.

High Risk (1995) - Cool, if somewhat campy, Jet Li flick about a bodyguard/stunt man who covers for a huge, but goofy kung-fu star, obviously a rip on Jackie Chan; Die Hard-esque plot is a fail, but is a good excuse for the duo's comic chemistry. Recommended for Jet fans.

Inferno (1980) - Moody, supernatural horror from Dario Argento, similar, but superior to, his classic Suspiria, involving a different witch-like creature who terrorizes a New York apartment building. Recommended for fans of Argento or Giallo pictures.

Past Midnight (1992) - Lame sauce "sexually-charged" thriller, where chemistry-less Natasha Richardson and Rutger Hauer find love, despite Hauer's murderous criminal record; Quentin Tarantino's alleged rewrite of this one is not readily apparant AT ALL. Skip it.

Wild Bill (1995) - Well-staged, if unremarkable western about the last days of Wild Bill Hickock, as played by Jeff Bridges; cast is spectacular, script (save for a subplot involving Diane Lane as a broken-hearted sophisticate) is not. Slightly Recommended for Jeff Bridges and/or true-life western fans.

The Dark Half (1993) - Well-conceived, but imperfect George Romero suspense flick about a horror writer (Timothy Hutton) whose dark side externalizes into a living, breathing serial killer. Slightly recommended for fans of Romero or Hutton.

The Russians are Coming, The Russians are Coming!! (1966) - Funny, but slight Cold War-era comedy about Alan Arkin as a Russian nuclear sub commander who crashes on Nantucket, and must escape before the U.S. believes war has been declared. Slightly Recommended for fans of farces of the era such as It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Homeboy (1988) - Similar to The Wrestler, with Mickey Rourke (who also wrote) as a fallen fighter who must choose between risking death in the ring or risking everything to help pal Christopher Walken on a heist. Highly Recommended for fans of the two actors, taking shit dead seriously here at the top of their game.

Legendary Weapons of China (1982) - Exciting, but sprawling Shaw Bros. flick about a renegade monk and three assassins (including Gordon Liu) of different martial arts backgrounds who pursue him; scenes with titular weapons are obvious highlights. Recommended for Shaw Bros. fans.

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1965) - Intense, anti-Bond spy thriller with Richard Burton as a confused, aimless retired spy who is forced to take "one last job" to protect the girl he loves. Recommended for fans of tougher, more grounded spy movies (a la the Ipcress File or The Conversation).

Armed and Dangerous (1986) - Funny, but lighter-than-air action-comedy about John Candy and Eugene Levy as newly minted security guards who end up getting involved with the mob. Slightly Recommended for fans of the SCTV duo.

Precilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) - Brave, surprisingly subtle comedy about Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce, and Hugo Weaving as drag queens traversing the Australian outback. Recommended for those tolerant of seeing macho actors prance around in drag for 2 hours (well-worth it, particularly for witnessing Pearce's untapped comedy potential).

Cash On Demand (1961) - Extremely well-written chamber suspense film about Peter Cushing as a bank manager who is forced to assist a dapper elderly bank robber without cluing in any of his staff. Highly Recommended for fans of intense, claustrophobic, plot-driven heist movies.

Bird (1988) - Boring, shallow biopic of Charlie Parker, notable only for Forest Whitaker's capable lead performance and the dynamite, if overly-prevalent soundtrack. Skip it, save for those who live and die at the hand of Mr. Whitaker.

The January Man (1989) - Stupid serial killer movie about Kevin Kline as a crack sleuth that is an excuse for strong, self contained, un-plot related scenes, including its best, a shouting match between Danny Aiello, Harvey Keitel, and Rod Steiger; love triangle with Kline, Susan Sarandon and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is not as enticing. Slightly Recommended for fans of that cast (which also includes Alan Rickman).


Iron Man 2 (2010) - Slightly inferior sequel, with a dozen or so concurrent plot-lines sucking tension out of the film, while allowing Downey, Gwenyth, Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, Don Cheadle, Sam Jackson, and Clark fucking Gregg room to play, with entertaining results. Recommended for fans of the original or the cast, especially the scene-stealing Rockwell and the silently charismatic Rourke.

Magruber (2010) - Surprisingly hilarious, if ramshackle comedy spoof of 80's action cliches with Will Forte becoming the funniest new comedy star in the titular role; he has a wonderful, eclectic career ahead of him if he plays his cards right (unlike similarly looking Will Arnett). Recommended for fans of 80's action flicks and really random, scatological humor.

Get Him To The Greek (2010) - Overly ambitious, but entertaining Hangover wannabe about Jonah Hill following around Russell Brand, trying to keep him in line for his next concert. Recommended for fans of Forgetting Sarah Marshall or the two leads.

Splice (2010) - Incredibly rich, provocative original horror film, the best of its kind since Chan Wook Park's Thirst; Vincenzo Natali has yet to fail producing movies centered around strong, powerful ideas. Highly Recommended for horror fans.

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