“Ho! Ho! Ho! Now I have a machine gun!” Merry Christmas indeed!
[Uncle Buck title screen]
Got to love a decent slice of uplifting John Hughes/John Candy goodness.
The LLF had never seen it – unbelievable. Nice, zippy 80s John McTeirnan-directed actioner, with Arnie, Carl Weathers, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Shane Black and Richard Chaves on a secret jungle mission and becoming prey – along with captured Marxist guerilla Elpidia Carrillo – for an alien big game hunter.
I’m game for giving most things a spin; for cutting everyone a little slack; for making allowances for unpolished charm. But this – a football hooligan/gangster yarn – was shit. Good bits: Ricci Harnett was actually very good as a mid-league gangster of unspecified type, and the female parts (Lorraine Stanley, Nicole Faraday, Susan Penhaligon) are at least more substantial than most in these types of films. Bad bits: terrible script that just sort of stops (that would be Dougie Brimson’s fault), and director that does nothing to engage the audience (Martin Kemp’s fault). Leo Gregory shows flashes of acting chops in the lead, but is mostly just a bit vacant looking.
Somewhat unexciting ‘thriller’, in which cop Dean Cain gets himself sent to prison to avenge his pregnant wife murdered by a gang boss. The first time I’ve heard of the Soska Sisters, and hopefully the last.
I first saw this late night on BBC2 introduced by Alex Cox as part of the Moviedrome strand. I remember him flagging up the cameos by directors John Waters (used car salesman) and John Sayles (motorcycle cop). Anyway, an enjoyable twist on the eighties cycle of ‘yuppie in jeopardy’ movies, with white-collar management goon Jeff Daniels hooking up with meta-manic pixie dream girl Melanie Griffiths and going off on a road movie journey into self-discovery. En route: recently paroled psycho con Ray Liotta, the Feelies as a band at a high school reunion, and lots of great music (and some great shots of New York). Definitely one of Jonathan Demme’s best.
Peak McTiernan, with Bruce Willis never better than here as world weary New York cop John McClane, in LA to try and win back his estranged wife Bonnie Bedelia at just the moment a bunch of Eurotrash terrorists-cum-robbers led by Alan Rickman. AND THE QUARTERBACK IS TOAST!
Post-moving comfort food. Noted this time: Paul Gleason’s impeccable timing; wondering why Hart Bochner never made it big; still confused by the angles involved when they take out the LAPD’s RV with the rockets.
Sometimes you end up watching a film and have no idea why. This is one of them – absolutely awful. Icing on the cake? I actually bought it. Paid cash moneys and everything. I think I mistook it for a Michael Biehn film, DeadFall, which is on my MyMovies: Must See list (though that only shaves a .8 improvement on TripFall‘s IMDb score).
Here we have John Ritter and Rachel Hunter as husband-and-wife on vacation in California with their kids who become targets for a crew of white trash kidnappers. Led by Eric Roberts. In baby dreads. With a terrible Southern accent. MBunge’s review somewhat nails it.
Fancied some light entertainment, and this action-comedy creature feature fits the bill admirably. Silly subterranean ‘graboids’ threaten a tiny Nevada township, and only redneck day labourers Fred Ward and Kevin Bacon can save us! A perfect pick-me-up, pretty much fat-free.
The French Connection
The wee man picked this classic off the shelf – good taste, that boy has. Noted this viewing: great score (Don Ellis – see also French Connection II and The Seven-Ups); interesting handwriting by Scheider, Hackman or perhaps some lowly props department shmo; some superb on-location shooting in three of the Five Boroughs.
Can’t beat a bit of John McClane versus Hans Gruber action. John McTiernan ramps up the action and keep the pace going even more frenetically than he did on Predator, Willis rocks the sweaty vest look, and Rickman masters big screen performance first attempt, no run up.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Of course, if you want to nearly ruin a franchise, and Joel Schumacher isn’t available, you call in Renny Harlin. Despite swiping all the best tropes and twists from the first film, D2 just never hits the same stride, and drags like a mofo.
Not John Hughes’ best, but fun (though you do have to turn off the gender politics part of your brain if you’re going to enjoy it).
Anthony Michael Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are really good as friendless-but-for-each-other high school geeks who decide to get Doctor Frankenstein on Barbie’s arse (with the help of some 1337 WarGames-style h4x0r skillz) and create their own perfect woman. Why they ended up with Kelly LeBrock is anyone’s guess, but hey ho. Bill Paxton is lolworthy as dickhead older brother Chet, there’s Robert Downey Jnr and the guy from Vamp as more popular, hip boys from school, plus the biker gang invasion bit, complete with Mad Max 2 dude and the lumpy-headed fellow from The Hills Have Eyes.
Snakes On A Plane
An internet meme in search of a plot. Slightly more enjoyable in the airborne Die Hard stakes than Air Force One, but less so than Passenger 57.
A quite fun late-80s oddity, with John Cusack and Tim Robbins as a pair of slackers who set up their own video production business. It mostly pokes fun at music television (it was produced by ex-Monkee Mike ‘MTV’ Nesmith), but there’s also crooked politicians and a pair of long-forgotten sixties soul stars and sweary English punks (“Don’t be a cunt, Dick!”) and Doug McClure as an uptight dad and Jello Biafra playing an FBI agent who arrests our heroes whilst warning “Remember what happened to Jello Biafra” and a big concert at the end.
Another Frat Pack/Judd Apatow comedy, with Will Ferrell as a redneck NASCAR driver. There’s John C Reilly, Gary Cole and Sacha Baron Cohen in there too. It’s quite fun, just too familiar – all the tropes of struggle-against-adversity sports star biopic are there, with lashings of Top Gun homoeroticism, and underwritten parts for any women on the set.
Burn After Reading
The Coen Brothers do spy intrigue. I had no expectations, and was very pleasantly surprised. Lots of WTF?! moments out of nowhere. George Clooney, Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt riff on stupidity, John Malkovich bursts blood vessels all over the shop as a CIA analyst sacked for having a drink problem (“You’re a Mormon! We’re all alcoholics to you!”), Tilda Swinton does alabaster-skinned, redheaded ice queen with a potent line in withering contempt, JK Simmons has a brief turn as a bewildered spook chief.
Blades Of Glory
Cf Talladega Nights. Same deal, this time in the world of figure skating. Replace John C Reilly with Jon Heder, Gary Cole with Craig T Nelson.
Mike Judge posits the notion that evolution, fast food, dumb TV and blind patriotism all help to create a nation of imbeciles. Heh.
The Manson Family
Odd low budget treatment of Mad Charlie and his hippie kids, bookending a mostly straightforward version of what happened back then with a retrospective by a (fictional) journalist, who is being stalked by modern day Charlie-lovers. Like an episode of The Night Stalker spliced with The Snoop Sisters and directed by Gregg Araki.
John McTiernan’s top-of-its-game hijacked building actioner. Taut, well put together, witty, imaginatively shot, two thumbs all the way through.
Die Hard With A Vengeance
Not as good as the first, but definitely better than the second. Suffers from not being confined to a small space. Samuel L Jackson is good fun as Zeus, and Sam Phillips is knee wibble-inducing as mute killer Katya, but Jeremy Irons’ English-thesp-does-Euro-terrorist is not great.
How To Lose Friends And Alienate People
Simon Pegg as the English hack in New York in amusing but by no means great adaptation of Toby Young’s book.
Ghosts Of Mars
John Carpenter’s career-stopping SF actioner with Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier and Natasha Henstridge kicking ass on the Red Planet. I actually rather like it, for all its pace-destroying wipes and odd editing choices.