Man With The Screaming Brain
Bruce Campbell writes, directs and stars, as an American businessman in Bulgaria (cheap to film there, apparently) who is killed by a treacherous Gypsy woman, before being brought back to life by loony doctor Stacy Keach, who bulks up Campbell’s broken brain with bits cut out of the ex-KGB taxi driver who is also the former boyfriend of our Romani assailant. Could have been better, but points for effort, though possibly not for services to settled/traveller relations.
The Punisher (1989)
Very silly adaptation of the dark Marvel comic about Nam vet Frank Castle who turns vigilante after his family is executed by the Mafia. Here Castle is changed to a cop, and he is played by Dolphin Lundgren. It is silly. Very violent, with some rubbish and occasionally dull action scenes, but at least it doesn’t take itself seriously.
Punisher: War Zone
Charmless reboot of the 2004 reboot of the 1989 flick. Ray Stephenson is now Frank Castle, and yet despite not being a stranger to acting, ends up with little to do other than brutally execute anyone who steps in his way, with a moody expression on his fizzog. Directed by that Lexi Alexander, with the same skill and delicacy she applied to Green Street.
Hamfisted (LOL) Michael Moore black comedy (shamelessly stealing from Dr Strangelove) about a lameduck US President who conjures up an imaginary threat from Canada. John Candy is great though. Prefigures the superior Wag The Dog, though the premise is wittier.
One Crazy Summer
Minor 80s teen comedy with John Cusack the wannabe animator on vacation before college. Harmless fun, pleasant performances.
The Whole Nine Yards
Him from Friends as a neurotic dentist, him from Die Hard as a mob hitman who moves next door. Fun, but inconsequential. Director Jonathan Lynn definitely has a thing about women smoking cigarettes – Rosanna Arquette, Natasha Henstridge.
The Whole Ten Yards
Somewhat pointless sequel, whose principal purpose appears to be to give Kevin Pollak – the Hungarian crime boss who didn’t survive the first film – the chance to work out as his character’s own father. Howard Deutch fumbles the direction.
The Deal (2008)
William H Macy as a past-his-prime Hollywood producer who sees one last chance when his talented but naîve nephew turns up on his doorstep with Bill And Ben, a sensitive script about Benjamin D’Israeli’s relationship with WIlliam Gladstone. Naturally this one last chance involves tweaking it into Ben Disraeli: Freedom Fighter, a guns ‘n’ girls blockbuster with recently converted action star Bobby Mason (LL Cool J) in the starring role. Silly and derivative (and the whole WHM/Meg Ryan romance is a bit meh), but warm and cosy.
Michael Mann does supernatural war movie – Jürgen Prochnow is an honourable Wehrmacht officer, Gabriel Byrne is a comedy BOO! HISS! black uniformed SS rotter, Ian McKellen is a wheelchair-bound Jewish academic, Alberta Watson is his daughter, Scott Glenn is a shiny-eyed mysterious stranger, and they’re all stuck in a magic castle in WW2 Romania with a scary Golem-type monster. Tangerine Dream supplies the music, and it’s all a bit silly.
The Bourne Identity
Robert Ludlum holiday bricks rarely entertain once adapted for the screen (The Osterman Weekend, The Holcroft Covenant), but Doug Go Liman’s reboot (after the 80s version which had Dr Kildare in the lead) makes a meaty fist of challenging yer Bond as preeminent movie spook.
Matt Damon is an excellent against-type casting choice, and he develops an excellent rapport with the flaky German wanderer he latches onto, played by Franke Potente.
The fight-in-a-room (or park, or field) sequences – notably the Swiss ones, and one in the Paris apartment – are for the most part exemplary, though Liman has more trouble with the car chase. In terms of action and tension it is very effective.
Casting is a little more mixed: Brian Cox is superb as a creepy CIA chieftain, but Julia Stiles? How did she end up in a frontline role in the Company? And you can’t help but chuckle at Adebisi from Oz hamming it up, or the shitkicker from The Shield being all whitecollar and shit. But mostly it’s a breezy, exciting ride.
A few queries though: do all Italian trawlers have as well packed a medical kit as here? And how did Bourne make it from France into Switzerland – Switzerland, FFS, Switzerland!! – without papers?