Archive for April, 2008
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008
Charlie Wilson’s War (6/10): Tom Hanks and Philip Seymour Hoffman should be able to make anything cool, especially a cool story with a good director like this. This is quite funny, and quite smart, just not nearly deep enough.
Cloverfield (8/10): If you combined Blair Witch with Godzilla, it wouldn’t seem like a very good idea. But it is. Cloverfield kicks ass. Rent it.
The Savages: Could be the best movie released today. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney in a family comedy that got a little bit of Oscar love.
Resurrecting The Champ (6/10): Samuel L. Jackson’s best performance since Pulp Fiction is almost wasted in a decent, but forgettable movie about a down-and-out homeless former boxer.
Starting Out In The Evening: An aging novellist is slipping into obscurity, but when he meets a graduate student who wants to use his work as part of her grad thesis, he must confront his demons. Or something. Could be OK.
Wonder Pets Rescue The Beetles (3/10): A show for tiny kids where a duck, a hamster and a turtle rescue some baby animals. Including mop-topped beetles in a yellow submarine.
Shrooms: A horror movie where some kids take mushrooms, and then have to figure out what horrors are real and which ones are mushroom-induced. Whee!
PTU: Police Tactical Unit (4/10): Johnnie To has made many movies that were far better. This is a movie about cops with no regard for human rights plying their violent and unethical trade in China. They’re heroes!
Boot Camp (3/10): Mila Kunis (That 70s Show, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) is sent to a rehab house that appears to be an idyllic island paradise, but turns out to be a horrible prison where torture and brainwashing are de rigeur. At least she gets naked.
Laverne and Shirley Complete 4th Season (4/10): I guess the first three seasons were profitable enough for Paramount to release the fourth as well. God only knows why.
Punk Love: Like a Bonnie and Clyde, or a Badlands, on a much smaller scale. Two punks in love commit petty crimes to get by as they travel, then things go wrong, and they have only their love to keep them toge…whatever.
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Up over here, ———————–> in the “Interviews” section, is an interview I just did with Rob Stewart, the director of the brilliant (and very intense) film Sharkwater. It’s a ten minute interview, and he discusses filming techniques, conservation, gunboats and governments, and the recent controversy over the Canadian seal hunt surrounding the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Paul Watson (who figures prominently in Sharkwater). He’s a well-spoken young guy, and if you watch the movie, you’ll also know he has balls of steel. Because I can’t figure out how to move the “interviews” section to an easier place on this page, and you have to scroll down through all the “audio reviews” sections on the side, I will make it easy and include a link here:
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Juno (9/10): Looking forward to this one a LOT. The last best-picture nominee from this year to be released on DVD. Ellen Page is fantastic, and this is one of the few movies out there about which you don’t hear any bad things at all.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2/10): A sequel to a mashup that was at the same time a third installment and a fifth installment in two different series. Which makes this the fourth Predator movie and the sixth Alien movie. And it will likely make as much sense as what I just wrote here.
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (8/10): This might be the best movie released today. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke are awesome as brothers who plot to rip off their parents’ jewelry store. Sidney Lumet directs.
In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2/10): This might be the worst movie released today. As Sidney Lumet indicates excellence, so too does Uwe Boll indicate putrid lousiness. Somehow he raised enough money this time to get Jason Statham, Burt Reynolds and Ray Liotta to star.
Lars And The Real Girl (7/10): This one is cute and charming. It’s darn weird, but at least it is taking chances. Ryan Gosling plays a weirdo who has what he fancies to be a real, committed relationship with one of those super-expensive blowup dolls.
War/Dance (8/10): Documentary about three kids from war-torn Uganda who are invited to compete in a music and dance competition in the capital.
A Shot at Love With Tila Tequila Season One (0/10): Represents everything that is wrong with everyone everywhere in the world. The fact that this is “season one” indicates that “season two” is in the works, which is the only thing that could sink the world closer to oblivion.
The Backwoods: Gary Oldman and some others confront deformed girls and vengeful locals with pitchforks and shotguns in the Backwoods of 1978 Spain. Or so I’m told.
Dead Fish: Also stars Gary Oldman. Check it out – this is actually the description given by Rogers Video: “Comedy collides with action in this exciting thriller about cross-communication”. Also stars Robert Carlyle. So…there you go…
Spongebob: Pest of the West (8/10): Spongebob rocks. Another DVD with seven new Spongebob episodes. You don’t have to be a kid or a stoner to enjoy the Spongebob. I’m neither, and I love it.
Monday, April 14th, 2008
This is an actual media release that was sent to our office today. I guess it’s important enough to be sent to media outlets…take a look.
Advertisement for Horror Movie Can Be Broadcast before 9:00 pm, Says Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
Ottawa, April 10, 2008 – The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) today released its decision concerning an advertisement for the feature film SkinWalkers aired during the July 26, 2007 8:00 pm broadcast of Big Brother 8 on Global Television. A viewer complained that this horror movie commercial contained scenes of violence that should not have been shown at a time when children were watching television. The CBSC National Conventional Television Panel disagreed; it concluded that the scenes from the movie were not so violent as to necessitate a post-9:00 pm broadcast.
SkinWalkers was a feature film about werewolves that was theatrically released in August 2007. The 15-second advertisement contained a rapid series of very brief clips from the movie. These included four quick flashes of different werewolves, a close-up of an eyeball changing colour, a woman with fangs who roared at the camera, a cut to werewolf eyes, as well as shots of men and women holding semi-automatic weapons leaping away from an exploding gas station. The commercial was broadcast twice during Big Brother.
The National Conventional Television Panel examined the complaint under Article 3.3 of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Violence Code, which requires that advertisements containing scenes of violence intended for adults be broadcast only between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am. The Panel determined that the advertisement did not contain any scenes that could be considered “intended for adults only”. It noted that the feature film itself was not given that rating and that the reality program Big Brother was not targeted at children. It made the following comments:
“While certain of the images were somewhat startling, such as those of the werewolf eyes and fangs, they did not depict any scenes of actual violence. Moreover, given that the entire commercial lasted only 15 seconds, the images were too fleeting to become problematically violent. Had the commercial been longer and showed more graphic details of the werewolves’ activities, this Panel might have concluded otherwise. It should also be noted that the commercial aired during the program Big Brother, a program which not infrequently deals with mature themes and is not in any way targeted to children.”
- Given that the movie itself did not contain material deemed to be intended exclusively for adults, it is not likely that the commercial for the movie would fall into that category. The Panel concludes that Global did not violate Article 3.3 in this broadcast of the trailer for SkinWalkers.
Canada’s private broadcasters have themselves created industry standards in the form of Codes on ethics, equitable portrayal and television violence by which they expect the members of their profession will abide. They also created the CBSC, which is the self-regulatory body with the responsibility of administering those professional broadcast Codes, as well as the Code dealing with journalistic ethics created by the Radio Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) and the Journalistic Independence Code. More than 630 radio stations, satellite radio services, television stations and specialty services from across Canada are members of the Council.
I am wondering if this makes anyone else laugh as much as it made me laugh. First of all, I have seen Skinwalkers. It embodies just about everything that is wrong with horror movies. The entire film, in fact, is summarized in the above summary of the commercial for that film. The entire movie is four quick flashes of werewolves, an eyeball changing colour, automatic weapons and an explosion at a gas station. The fact that this film does not have an “adults only” rating is one of the reasons it’s a lousy film. Eyes changing colour and women with fangs roaring – yes, roaring – at the camera are not scary. They are stupid. But in a movie like this that insists on being labeled “horror” and yet is not willing to use nudity, coarse language, or true violent images to get it’s point across will be lousy. And Skinwalkers is one of the worst.
Second, the movie Skinwalkers (partly because it is so bad) could not possibly corrupt children nearly as much as watching Big Brother. I had the pleasure of seeing a few episodes of that steaming pile of crud while I was on vacation, and my girlfriend had her friends over. One of her friends was insistent that we flip over to Big Brother, to see who got voted out of the house, or who got to stay. Big Brother is one of the most painful experiences on television, and can teach your children only three things. That being on TV makes you a celebrity, no matter how stupid you are. That being a celebrity is the most important thing in the world, because it means you can live off it for the rest of your life, and because it is easy to do. And third, that the best way to become a celebrity is to get on TV, and the easiest way to get on TV is to have iner demons, and to be attractive, stupid, and a prostitute. So your kids, watching Big Brother, will be on a path to heroin addiction by the age of 14, rehab at 16, breast enhancement at 18, and live, televised prostitution at 20. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, right. They might watch an ad for Skinwalkers. (Which also, comes to think of it, sounds very hooker-ish, doesn’t it?)
But good news! The Broadcast Standards Council, in one of the longest and most unnecessary press releases in history, has informed us that we can now watch commercials of this nature before 9:00! This is great for two reasons. First of all, it lets us know that, with our kids on our laps, we can channel surf with impunity before that time, knowing for a fact that we will not be exposing them to potentially damaging commercials. (With the exception of election-time attack ads and that Mars Caramel commercial. No kids should have to sit through that.) Well, if you don’t have the playboy channel. Or the Hustler channel, the movie network, Spike TV, the Mixed-martial-arts channel, the action channel, or any channel above 107. Then you’re fine. Also, it gives lazy parents, or parents who just don’t know, an accurate bedtime for their children. Oh, 9:00! That must be bedtime. I saw a commercial for phone sex. That’s your cue to go to bed. Ah, the world is saved from itself once again.
Friday, April 11th, 2008
Because I need to find a way to “support” the Senators. And because this is the only way I can think fo doing it without being completely deluded. Other than saying things like “I hope they win…” hey – “supporting” your team is about as vague and ambiguous as “supporting” the troops. Put some baubles on your car, and wear the right shirt, and you’re done, I guess. Perhaps after this I will support the troops with a greatest war movie list. But it’s senators now, and that may well be a list of war movies also…OK. Here they are: The greatest Senator movies of all time:
#10: Good Night and Good Luck. David Strathairn is brilliant, playing Edward R. Murrow, the earliest and best voice on radio and television in America. This movie focuses on his epic battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy over the communist witch hunt that was going on in the senate at the time. While it is a historical film (by George Clooney) and it’s in black-and-white, and it deals with real events in the past, it still plays like a thriller in the big game of politics and media in the States. Bad news though – at the end of this movie, the Senator loses.
#9: Bulworth. Warren Beatty’s last great film (1998), Bulworth was an incredibly smart, brilliantly written satire of American politics and culture. Beatty plays a U.S. Senator who has a bit of a breakdown. The result of which is that he begins to tell the truth, in blatant and in many cases offensive, ways. Halle Berry is the woman who gives Senator Bulworth a safe haven as he is hiding from assassins. Assassins he himself hired to…kill himself. Very few films are as funny or as clever or as poignant as this one. Oh – more bad news. In the end the senator does not win. I will not tell you what happens, because I want you to watch this movie. But he does not, technically, win.
#8: Julius Caesar (2003). Maybe it’s just my love for Christopher Walken, but I truly enjoyed this made-for TV miniseries adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play. Walken plays Senator Cato, and the movie also stars Jeremy Sisto as Caesar, Chris Noth as General Pompey, and Richard Harris and Valeria Golino and Samuela Sardo. The battle scenes are very accurate and the performances are very good. In the end, however, the senators (and most everyone else) lose.
#7: Once Upon A Time In America. Sergio Leone’s greatest non-western film, and some might say his greatest film. Up there with The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West, this movie follows two men over the course of 50 years (James Woods and Robert DeNiro). This is an amazing gangster masterpiece, up there with The Godfather and Goodfellas. DeNiro is brilliant, but it’s James Woods who really shines as a flashy, small-time gangster who winds up being a senator. Some brutal, vivid scenes are shocking and might put some people off, but this movie is wonderful. Be sure, if you find it, to get the full three-hour plus director’s version, not the brutally edited two hour version that’s out there. Although the actual end to the Senator is ambiguous in the film, he certainly does not win in the end.
#6. Spartacus: Kirk Douglas as Spartacus, Laurence Olivier as corrupt Roman Senator Marcus Licinius Crassus…it doesn’t get much more powerful in the acting department. The ultimate roman-empire, sandals-and togas and swords and arenas epic, at least until the arrival of Gladiator. In the end, the Senators win.
#5. Gladiator. Russell Crowe’s best performance in one of the coolest movies of the new millenium. I think we all know this film, so I will skip the synopsis and go straight to the Senators. In this movie they love to scheme and plot and plan and work against each other and then with each other and then against each other again. Much like today. A magnificent movie, and in the end some Senators win and some lose. No clear victory for the senate.
#4. Point of Order: The best documentary about the McCarthy era in American politics – these film makers went through 188 hours of television coverage of the 1954 hearings in order to come up with 100 minutes worth of movie. It was released in 1964, only ten years after the McCarthy circus had left town, and it remains the most important film Emile De Antonio ever made. Oh, in the end the senator loses.
#3. Julius Caesar (1953): One of the greatest of all Shakespeare movie adaptations, Louis Calhern is Caesar and Marlon Brando is Marc Antony in Joseph Mankiewicz’s masterpiece. Also starring James Mason and the fantastic John Gielgud, this is the best screen adaptation of this classic play. In the end, I think we all know, that all the (Roman) Senators lose.
#2: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. This is really the story of a US Senator, before-he-was a Senator. Jimmy Stewart plays Ransom Stoddard, the Senator-to-be, a small-time lawyer who sets up shop in a lawless frontier town that is terrorized by the outlaw Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin). Stoddard rises to the ranks of the Senate on the stregth of his reputation as the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. John Wayne is the town’s resident bad-ass, the “only man tougher than Liberty Valance”. (I don’t know if it’s giving away too much, but Wayne’s Tom Doniphon is the title character of the film.) This film has some of the great scenes in Western movies (the scene where Wayne makes Marvin pick up his steak is inTENSE). It also has a great examination of truth – “when the legend becomes truth, print the legend”. It’s also the movie where John Wayne calls Jimmy Stewart “pilgrim”, which became one of his signature lines. An absolutely brilliant movie, and one of the top five westerns of all time. In the end, the Senator wins this one, and he’s also a really good guy! Way to go, pilgrim.
#1: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington: Jimmy Stewart again, this time as a wide-eyed Boy Scout leader who gets nominated to the senate as an interim Senator, because corrupt Senators think he will be easy to railroad as they push a bill through the senate. There are innumerable brilliant scenes, from the ones where Stewart starts to realize what’s going on around him to the ones where he breaks himself in half trying to fight it. Stewart’s greatest film role, and the greatest movie about Senators ever. At the end of this one, the main character Senator wins, and the other corrupt Senators lose. Well, some of them come to the realization that they have turned over to the dark side, and they repent for their sins. Which is sort of a moral victory for everybody. But Ottawa is not going for moral victories this year, they are going for real ones.
OK. So, ten movies about senators, and the final record – 3-6-1. Not good enough to win a playoff series, but if a bounce or two goes the right way…it could be close. Go team!
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
With the release of Sharkwater on Tuesday, I have decided to compile a list of awesome shark movies. Not great films, not even good ones, in some cases not even passable ones. But awesome ones. I realized, in watching Sharkwater, that shark conservationists have long had reason to take umbrage with Steven Spielberg, since it was Jaws that introduced the shark as the villain of the ocean. Of course, sharks are not maniac predators and man-eaters. They do not attack humans and they do not tip boats over. They are magnificent creatures who inspire awe and admiration, but try telling that to people who think they should all be wiped out. Conservation of sharks is not nearly as easy as say…conservation of dolphins would be. I think a lot of people know about the tuna nets that catch dolphins and kill them. Many people lament this fact. But few people, until now, have known about the vast, illegal shark-finning business. And now Sharkwater arrives to tell us about it. And I have compiled a list of ten movies that are awesome if not good, that help explain the reason shark conservation is a tough sell. Since Jaws, the shark has become the go-to animal kingdom villain for lazy hack B-screenwriters. And here are some of the best:
10. The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley: Shark Encounter. At the time, the Olsen twins were pre-pubescent, and still closer to the Full House cute-little-girl look than they were to the 16-year-old jailbait look. The twins are investigators in this episode, you see, and they are trying to solve the undersea mystery of three pirates who swear the sharks at the aquarium are actually singing! Sharks don’t sing. This sends the wrong message to kids at a young age.
9. Monster Shark. This is a 1984 movie that is absolutely gloriously moronic. The “monster shark” is not really a shark at all, but sort of a piranha-shark-starfish thing, is supposed to be a “prehistoric proto-shark”, genetically merged with an octopus. Every female cast member wears almost nothing, and for some bizarre reason they all get beaten up, also. And not by the shark, by the weirdo creepy mad-scientist-henchmen. Just a putrid attempt at moviemaking.
8. Deep Blue Sea. With the exception of the Samuel L. Jackson death scene, there are very few reasons to watch this garbage. Ladies love LL Cool J, and there are many reasons for him to take his shirt off. And there is even a reason found for Saffron Burrows to strip out of her wetsuit and get down to her underwear. So maybe that is why this dreck was filmed. The problem with this movie is that Jaws and dozens of other movies already took on Great Whites, this one makes villains out of Mako sharks. Mako sharks that are super-intelligent. Sharks are NOT super-intelligent. More misinformation.
7. Dark Waters. This time, it’s Lorenzo Lamas taking the role of tough-guy-in-a-shark-movie, and he is predictably awful. Great Whites again, because that’s the easiest shark to be scared by. The sharks get very little screen time here, much like in Raging Sharks, because there are evil scientists afoot…and Lamas is playing – get this – a “renegade fish expert”. That is no joke, although this turgid movie certainly is.
6. Hammerhead. This is one that has to be seen to be believed. Although hammerhead sharks have never killed a human being, that does not mean that the DNA of a hammerhead could possibly be fused with that of a human. Which basically means, according to this film, that a human being will have the head and mouth of a hammerhead shark. This person is then banished to an island. With sexy results.
5. Megalodon. Soooo terrible. But fantastically so. This movie has decided to stop making people afraid of the sharks in our oceans, content to make people afraid of the sharks who used to be in our oceans. They encounter (and do battle with) a Megalodon, which is a prehistoric shark several times the size of a great white of today. This one weighs twenty thousand pounds, apparently. What? Bonkers entertainment.
4. The Life Acquatic With Steve Zissou. Not really a shark movie, but it involves Bill Murray, as Steve Zissou, attempting to stalk and kill a brand-new breed of shark that murdered his partner. This movie is insane, but in a really, really good way. Also stars Owen Wilson and Cate Blanchett and Anjelica Huston, and it’s a terrific Wes Anderson comedy. Also, at the end, Murray lets the fictional jaguar-shark live. I LOVE this movie.
3. Open Water. Not nearly as good a movie as Life Aquatic, but far more shark-intensive. The sharks never really do anything, but so much tension is created as two people bob in the middle of the ocean, forgotten by everybody. Sharks, of course, would not really eat people in this situation, but the idea that they might take an exploratory bite, and that no one would be around to help, is terrifying.
2. Air Jaws 1 & 2. Magnificent documentary on the flying sharks of South Africa. These are great whites who, because of the shape of the ocean floor in this area, have an incredibly long distance with which to gain speed before hitting the surface of the water (and the seal they’re hunting). Which means they come out of the water at astonishing speed, and full-body fly up into the air out of the ocean. Has to be seen to be believed, and this is the coolest, most-likely-to-make-you-love-sharks documentary out there.
1. Sharkwater. A seriously intense and action-packed documentary about the illegal shark finning trade around the world. Involves real-life gunboats, boat chases, arrests and escapes from custody. Heartbreaking, informative, and hugely entertaining.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
The greatest overactor of all time, Charlton Heston, has finally had that rifle pried out of his cold, dead hands. I loved Charlton Heston, his flagrant over-acting and his overly pompous persona shone through in even his most innocuous movie roles (with the exception of Bowling For Columbine, where he showed that playing himself he was actually a fairly regular human being. It was nice to see.) So here is my personal Top Ten list (movie people love Top Whatever Lists) of the greatest Heston movies:
#10: El Cid. Once again, Heston is over-the-top as the Spanish hero El Cid. Jesus-like in his goodness, Heston rallies feuding tribes to a common cause and saves the empire. Imagine Lawrence of Arabia with Heston instead of Peter O’Toole, and you have El Cid. Which is one reason that Heston will be remembered as a great actor, but not as a screen legend alongside the Brandos and the Oliviers and the Nicholsons. His presence would have made Lawrence of Arabia into a pretty good movie, instead of an all-time classic. Although El Cid is meant to be a larger than life character, Heston still seems to make him even bigger than that, and in no way touches upon the inner turmoil that must have driven the real man. Also, Sophia Loren shows up and she is smoking hot. A solid reason to watch this epic.
#9: The Agony and the Ecstasy. Heston, yet again, fails to find anything close to an emotional centre while playing Michelangelo, yet this sweeping epic is still strangely moving. At the core of the story is the battle waged between Michelangelo and the Pope (played wonderfully here by Rex Harrison). This movie drips with history – quite literally, as watercolours drip into Heston’s eyes while he paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. And visually, it is one of the most impressive films of the era. It is a little too long, and the character development should be greater in a film of such length…or, there should BE some character development, but the sets and the costumes and the whole production design make up for it. Great historical drama.
#8: The Ten Commandments. Perhaps it’s the fact that I have seen it so very many times, every single Easter and occasionally in between, that prevents me from ranking this one higher. It is certainly a magnificent achievement by Cecil B. DeMille – some of the scenes are legendary, and I love the parting of the Red Sea. But it’s speeches like “oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, adorable, splendid fool” that keep me cringing. And again, Moses needs no character development – he’s Moses. You know Moses, right? Good. Let’s proceed. I love Edward G. Robinson in this movie too, but somehow I keep coming back to DeMille. This is actually a remake of his own, earlier movie version of The Ten Commandments, and while it’s bigger, and more expensive, and more technologically advanced than the early one, it’s not necessarily better. Still a classic though.
#7: True Lies. OK, not a Heston movie as such. But he’s in there, playing Spencer Trilby, and I just want to stick True Lies in here because I think it’s a movie that doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Anything involving Schwarzennegger will invariably be cut down at least a peg by most critics, simply because he is who he is. I mean, he did Commando. And Kindergarten Cop. However, I think in this movie he shows that he is the logical, (albeit Austrian and more muscular) follower of Heston’s. He does not emote well, he has little chance of creating a truly three-dimensional character, and yet he is always, whenever he is on the screen, larger than life. And True Lies remains a passed-over classic which deserves more recognition in the annals of action movies.
#6: Soylent Green. Spoiler alert – Soylent Green is people, and Heston is having none of it! One of his roles which required a little more acting and a little less speechifying, this is a very satisfying, bizarre-looking futuristic film. Part of a “trilogy” of future-sci-fi films Heston did that included The Omega Man (recently remade with Will Smith in I Am Legend) and of course, Planet of the Apes. The dark tone of the film and the great set design make this one well worth checking out.
#5: Planet Of The Apes. Some of the most hilarious over-acting of all time. “Get your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” This one is an all-time Great Film, if only because of that final shot of the Statue of Liberty, which is a great early example of revelatory endings in movies. The direction is superb, and the clues that pile up throughout the movie are deftly strung together as the mystery unfolds, leaving Heston to deliver the ultimate over-acting climax in movie history. “You maniacs!”
#4: Will Penny. A tragically overlooked Western classic, starring Heston in one of his finest acting roles. He is an aging and poor cowboy who seets out with Lee Majors and Anthony Zerbe to find a job, but the three soon run afoul of a crazy bible-thumping outlaw and his even-crazier sons. Donald Pleasance is terrific as the bad guy, and Joan Hackett is great with Heston as the love interest. One of the most under-rated movies out there, and one of Heston’s best performances.
#3: The Omega Man. Heston is the last man alive in a post-apocalyptic world. Based on the novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, and earlier filmed starring Vincent Price as “The Last Man on Earth”. This is the best of the Future sci-fi trilogy that also included Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green. Anthony Zerbe co-stars in this one as well, as the leader of the group of bloodthirsty half-human-half vampire weirdos who go after Heston. Rosalind Cash is sultry and magnificent as a woman who shows Heston that he may well NOT be the Last Man Alive.
#2: Ben-Hur. Heston’s only Oscar came for his performance in this epic, magnificent movie. This was the third screen version of the very-biblical novel by Lew Wallace, and it was easily the best. Stephen Boyd is terrific as Messala, Judah Ben-Hur’s boyhood friend and later nemesis. And Heston’s over-th-top, speechifying larger-than life acting has never been so a-propos as it is here. The chariot race is worth the price of the DVD alone – one of the greatest set pieces in motion picture history.
#1: Touch Of Evil. Not only Heston’s best acting job ever, this is also his greatest movie. Not only that, it is one of Orson Welles’ greatest movies, and that is saying a lot. Welles is both the director and a star in the film, playing a corrupt, obese, slovenly police chief in a Mexican border town. Heston is a Mexican policeman on his honeymoon who, along with his new bride (the fantastic Janet Leigh) run afoul of Welles’ Chief Hank Quinlan. Heston’s character, Mike Vargas, believes that Chief Quinlan has planted evidence to ensure a perfect conviction record in the past, and he believes that the current suspect in a bomb explosion case is being railroaded by Quinlan. A dark, brilliant, perfectly done film noir, this is a higly overlooked and truly magnificent movie that deserves a place in any list of the greatest film noir movies ever made.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
There Will Be Blood (9/10): A staggering, brilliant movie, made all the more incredible by the performance of Daniel Day Lewis, which is without a doubt in my mind, the greatest acting job in a movie since DeNiro in Raging Bull. I drink your milkshake!
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (6/10): John C. Reilly stars as Dewey Cox in the highly promoted film “mockumentary” that spoofs Walk The Line and Ray and all the musical biopics of the last few years. It helps if you have seen those movies.
Sharkwater (9/10): A documentary about illegal shark-finning that happens to involve boat chases, international intrigue, prison breaks and a ton of seriously pulse-pounding moments. All of which really add to the film and accentuate the message. Shark finning is heinous.
Water-Horse: Legend of the Deep: A movie for kids about this weird creature that kinda looks like a horse, but isn’t – a young boy befriends this creature, who ends up in the ocean. Or a lake. Or something. I know from the trailers that he outgrows the bathtub.
Alone in the Dark: The Director’s Cut (1/10): Uwe Boll, one of the least-competent directors working in movies today, actually makes this film WORSE with his director’s cut. And it was fairly putrid to begin with.
Lions For Lambs (7/10): An idealistic professor, a charismatic U.S. Senator and a probing TV journalist have opposing viewpoints about the actions of our nation and the attitudes of its citizens. But the human consequences of war become chillingly clear for two of the professor’s former students, who find themselves trapped behind enemy lines, fighting for freedom… and their very lives. It’s directed by Robert Redford, who is a very capable director and on occasion can be brilliant. Looking forward to this one.
Prom Night Collection (2/10): Prom Night is coming out in theatres this week, and so we get this box set of the first four installments in the series. The first has nothing to do with the second, the third is a sequel to the second, and the fourth is unrleated to any of the others. At least “Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night 2″ has full frontal nudity.
P2 (5/10): It’s Christmas Eve. Angela Bridges gets down to the parking garage, and she discovers that her car won’t start. If Angela wants to live to see Christmas morning, she must find a way to escape from level P2 of the parking garage. Yes…a Christmas horror movie about parking garages. How very timely.
Matlock Season One (4/10): One of the most bizarre releases of the past few years, everyone who was a Matlock fan upon the release of this series is either dead, hospitalized, or does not own a DVD player. There may well be less than 200 of these babies sold.
Reservation Road: Ethan and Dwight are two fathers whose lives become intertwined after a hit-and-run accident leaves one of their sons dead. Stars Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly and Mira Sorvino, so it could be very good.
Perry Mason 50th Anniversary Edition (6/10): A much better series than Matlock, but still feels dated. Great guest stars on this set – Robert Redford, Bette Davis, James Coburn.
The Eleventh Hour (7/10): The “11th Hour” is the last moment when change is possible. This film explores how we’ve arrived at this moment and how we live, how we impact the earth’s ecosystems, and what we can do to change our course. Features James Woolsey, in addition to over 50 leading scientists, thinkers and leaders who discuss the most important issues that face our planet and people. Produced and narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, and also stars Stephen Hawking!