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 Posted:   Sep 20, 2023 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972) ... 4/10

I recall the title from my my cinema-going youth (I saw one or two films a week in those days) but this one ... I don't think I saw, despite liking both George Peppard and Michael Sarrazin.

Both leads, together with Christine Belford, are watchable and for addicts of spy films where you're not sure who is who or what they're doing is what you understand they're doing, etc., then this ticks the boxes. But it's let down by being cheaply made (I thought it was an episode of Man from U.N.C.L.E. on more than one occasion) and by the end I'm unclear just what the McGuffin factor is.

Some striking architecture, a few outdoor scenes ... a weak (poor!) score by Paul Hoffert (who?)

Perhaps a second viewing would help ...

 Posted:   Sep 20, 2023 - 2:26 PM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

Women of Devil's Island(1962)3/10
With Guy Madison, Michele Mercier and Paul Muller.
The trials and tribulations of a.load of women on the island of the title. All over seen by proper swine Muller( hiss, boo). The women spend their time panning for gold and being eaten by rubber alligators, getting whipped by what seems like cotton* ouch, ouch, no more, I'll talk). So.e clumsy editing and plot stupidity didn't help.
Pretty ropey and limp, just about watchable. The scenery was good( when it was real) sets and costumes were fine as was the photography. Not enough to liven it up. Even when Madison arrived it didn't have.much effect, he was wasted.

 Posted:   Sep 21, 2023 - 1:54 PM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

Duck Barton Special Agent(1948)2/10
With who cares.

Barton stumbles across a Nazi plot to plot to poison English water. But only after stumbling around for nearly an hour.
This was a light( i.e. stupid) effort, mildly entertaining. The plot was thin. Of the two main villains one sounded like a bad Lugosi impression, the other a bad Alasrltair Simm impression, with a German accent. The also had two of the softest looking faces I'd seen in a while. There were one, or two amusing moments but not many. The fights were crap. They looked like two people dtlrying their back with a towel, only the towel wasn't there. Softer thank turd in a heatwave.

 Posted:   Sep 21, 2023 - 6:19 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE EQUALIZER 3 (2023) – 7/10

Denzel Washington completes his “Equalizer” trilogy with this third outing, moved from the Boston locale of the first two films to Sicily and southern Italy. On an unspecified mission in Sicily, “Robert McCall” (Washington) stumbles upon a drug smuggling operation in which Middle Eastern terrorists supply drugs to the Mafia for distribution, and use the profits to finance terrorist acts. McCall is injured extricating himself, and is rescued by “Gio Bonucci” (Eugenio Mastrandrea), a local police official. Bonucci brings him to Altamonte, a remote coastal Italian town, where he is treated by small-town doctor “Enzo Arisio” (Remo Girone).

After he recovers, McCall makes an anonymous call to the CIA, tipping them off to the smuggling scheme. While the CIA, in the person of agent “Emma Collins” (Dakota Fanning), handles the terrorists, McCall deals with the Mafia, who are threatening the townspeople through a protection racket. Between dust-ups with the mob, McCall finds time to romance local waitress “Aminah” (Gaia Scodellaro).

Compared to THE EQUALIZER 2, which involved CIA in-fighting and turncoats, this film is a relatively straight-forward, low-key affair, with the good guys and bad guys clearly defined. Washington’s man-of-action is still somewhat superhuman, much more so than was the Robert McCall played by Edward Woodward in the 1980s television series. Even so, the Equalizer films were not designed to be over-the-top action films like the John Wick films (the first Equalizer had its U.S. premiere just a month before the first John Wick). Seeing Washington go through his paces one last time is like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes.

The $70 million production has grossed $133 million worldwide to date, a comedown from the $190 million of the first two installments. Marcelo Zarvos’s score is not distinctive.

 Posted:   Sep 24, 2023 - 7:34 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

THE BRAVEST (2019) – 7/10

This filmed-in-China action drama finds a company of Chinese firefighters battling a blazing oil refinery and chemical plant fire on the outskirts of a major city, as tens of thousands of threatened people try to flee the city before huge chemical tanks explode and spread lethal gas for miles. The film has the greatest fire special effects I’ve ever seen. Massive explosions and intense flames are everywhere. Most are CGI, I’m sure, but they are quite convincing.

The dramatics are less convincing, with the dubbed “rah-rah” dialog being somewhat stilted. Still, there are a few effective moments when some members of the fire company perish, and their colleagues have to fight through their grief if they are to save the city, and their own lives.

The film, directed by Tony Chan, is based on a real-life incident, the Xingang Port oil spill and fire. I don’t know who scored the film, but the music is suitably dramatic. The film was a smash hit in China, grossing $244 million, but it received only a perfunctory U.S. release in New York, Detroit, and a few other cities, and grossed under $300,000. A must-see for firebugs.

 Posted:   Sep 25, 2023 - 2:18 AM   
 By:   steffromuk   (Member)

The China Syndrome 5/10
It was quite fun but pretty forgettable.

The Boys from Brazil 6/10
I love the concept. Lawrence Olivier and Gregory Peck are pretty impressive.
As much as I love listening to Jerry's score for this movie. I found it quite heavy handed, on the nose and very distracting in the first half of the film.

Invasion of the saucer-men 0/10
I couldn't even finish it.

Little Forest 8/10
Very sweet and heart warming Korean movie adapted from Daisuke Igarashi's manga.
This movie will make you feel good and hungry.

 Posted:   Sep 25, 2023 - 5:20 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

The China Syndrome 5/10
It was quite fun but pretty forgettable.

The of the best dramas of its time! eek

 Posted:   Sep 25, 2023 - 6:03 AM   
 By:   steffromuk   (Member)

The China Syndrome 5/10
It was quite fun but pretty forgettable.

The of the best dramas of its time! eek

Of its time, I can imagine that, but for today's audience, not so much. I might think differently if I had seen it as a kid.

 Posted:   Sep 25, 2023 - 6:05 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

The China Syndrome 5/10
It was quite fun but pretty forgettable.

The of the best dramas of its time! eek

Of its time, I can imagine that, but for today's audience, not so much. I might think differently if I had seen it as a kid.

Maybe so, I haven't seen it in decades. Perhaps it hasn't aged well. But it was one of my favorite movies back then.

 Posted:   Sep 25, 2023 - 4:25 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)


Michael Jai White may be the hardest working man in show business. In the last three decades, the actor, director and martial artist has worked on 3 to 4 film projects per year, year in and year out, not even counting his work in music videos and web series. His latest big screen project, OUTLAW JOHNNY BLACK, sees him starring as the titular character as well as producing, directing, and co-writing the film.

For the past 10 years, Johnny Black has been on a hunt to track down and kill “Brett Clayton” (Chris Browning), who had mercilessly shot down Johnny’s preacher father. His father, “Bullseye Black” (Glynn Turman), was also a trick shot artist, who taught Johnny to handle guns at a young age. On the trail, Johnny runs across “Reverend Percy” (Byron Minns) who is on his way to a nearby town to replace the recently deceased minister and to marry “Bessie Lee” (Erica Ash), a woman he has only known through correspondence. When the Reverend is seemingly killed by Indians, Johnny decides to take his place. He arrives to find town boss “Tom Sheally” (Barry Bostwick) pressuring the congregation to sell him the former minister’s property.

With westerns being scarcer than hen’s teeth these days, it was nice to see one that doesn’t take itself seriously, doesn’t involve anything supernatural, isn’t drained of color, and is shot simply and cleanly. The film opens with a complete set of credits (rare for any film these days) that mimic those of many an Italian Western, with colored silhouettes riding and shooting, the sound of gunfire, and a Morricone-like theme.

With its considerable humor, the film is closest in tone to the “Trinity” westerns starring Terence Hill. Indeed, the film recreates the gun draw/slapping scene from TRINITY IS STILL MY NAME. In other scenes, it also pays homage to BLAZING SADDLES, and the “Kung Fu” television series, among other influences. The humor is bawdy but not vulgar, keeping the film at a [PG-13] level. The film runs a little long at 130 minutes, but I had a good time.

Michael Bearden is credited as composer, but the credits at the end of the film list about 20 cues from various Italian westerns (and I noticed some Elmer Berstein being interpolated in there as well), so I’m unsure how much of what I heard was from Bearden. So far, the film has earned just $269,000 in 10 days of limited release.

 Posted:   Sep 27, 2023 - 5:40 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

The Road (John Hillcoat, 2009) 7/10

I’m a sucker for (post-)apocalyptic movies of all kinds. There is just something interesting about putting the human condition under a magnifying glass, peeling away to ruthlessly take a look at what you get when the chips are down, all of civilization has fallen, and brute strength seems to be the only rule of law that’s left.

There are many types of setups and stories told within the framework of the breakdown of civilization as we know it, from Richard Matheson’s novel I AM LEGEND and its three movie adaptations, THE LAST MAN ON EARTH (1964), THE OMEGA MAN (1971) and I AM LEGEND (2007), to Romero’s various NIGHT/DAWN/DAY etc. OF THE DEAD movies, MAD MAX, WATERWORLD and POSTMAN, BOOK OF ELI and so on.

Now I finally watched THE ROAD, and this is set in by far the bleakest scenario of any of these movies I have ever seen, in fact, it makes the world of WALKING DEAD downright cheerful.

The premise of the movie is straightforward: the world as we know it has come to an end (there has been an unspecified catastrophe, of which we get hints and glimpses, perhaps a combination of biological and nuclear warfare… it doesn’t matter). The thing is: just about ALL plant life, just about ALL animal life, and just about ALL human life has been wiped out. It’s a grueling, desolate world, drained of color, of hope, of beauty of any kind.
The few remaining humans are scattered about, some roam the desolate landscape in search for food. In lack of alternatives, many groups have succumbed to cannibalism.

Through this dying world, a man and his young son (perhaps 12?) are headed south to the coast, hoping to find warmer weather and perhaps better conditions. The man tries to “keep the fire” burning in his son (who has grown up in this post-apocalypse and never knew the “old world”), to instill his son with a sense that it is still worth living, to not give up and remain on the side of “the good guys”. They are scavenging empty houses for remains of food (there is a wonderful scene where they find an intact can of coca-cola (talk about excellent product placement), obviously the first the son has ever tasted in his life). The wife and mother of the family had lost all hope already years earlier, saw no reason to go on living, and sought voluntary death.

The movie is a faithful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name, and while there is no shortage of grueling suspense scenes and violence, the movie strives for more. How do you remain a “good guy” in a world that is literally almost completely dead, and so is basically drained of all that’s worth living for. Does it even matter what you do?

As can be expected, the father and the son encounter various people and groups of people along “the road”, some extremely dangerous and hostile, others perhaps not, but how would you know? No spoilers (for those who have not seen the movie but may intend to do so), but the great (and nearly unrecognizable) Robert Duvall plays one such memorable encounter.

A good entry into the post-apocalyptic genre, even grittier than most, in a world without hope, but with characters trying to transcend it and find meaning nevertheless. Existentialist and thoughtful entry into the genre.

 Posted:   Sep 27, 2023 - 8:08 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Nice review, Nic. A book and film I enjoyed very much. And the first time I saw the boy in anything. He was a highlight later of the otherwise slightly anaemic remake of Let the Right One In.

It also struck me that you used more speech marks in your post than McCarthy used in all of his books put together.

 Posted:   Sep 27, 2023 - 9:26 AM   
 By:   joan hue   (Member)

Nice review, Nic. A book and film I enjoyed very much.

I agree with TG. Great review. I really liked the book and movie. I read a review where the author, Cormac, said he wrote it for his grandson and ended the novel with a slight "sliver" of hope at the end.

 Posted:   Sep 28, 2023 - 1:41 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Whilst staying away (dog-minding, awaiting our first grandchild smile), we watched, courtesy of Netflix, a few films. Now the screen is very good (larger than our Plasma) but sound is only okay, particularly as we had to beware of bothering neighbours ...

The Peacemaker (1997) ... 5/10

Seen before (I owned the DVD 20 years ago), it's fun with several great action scenes and leads George Clooney, Nicole Kidman and Marcel Iures keep everything moving nicely. We should have had sub-titles because I missed a lot of the dialogue, not helped by my lack of understanding of Eastern European dialects. It was good to see Armin Mueller-Stahl, albeit his role was limited.

Lots of good scenery, a typical Hans Zimmer score (I don't own this but it sounded much like others I do have).

The Little Things (2021) ... 4/10

I'd not heard of this film and knew nothing about it ... the name Denzel Washington told me to give it a try and for some time I was enjoying the typical oft-told story of the old-hand showing the young upstart that his experience is not to be scoffed at ...

... until it clicked that I was watching a clone of Se7en (1995) - another DVD I used to have but a film I didn't sufficiently like, despite acknowledging it was good - and my interest began to fade. Also I found Rami Malek totally miscast, he was so wrong for the (Brad Pitt) role that I couldn't accept anything he did.

Again, sub-titlles may have helped but at least, having the sound lower than I would have at home, I wasn't too annoyed by the boring score which added nothing to the on-screen antics. I had no idea of the composer but seeing Thomas Newman's name in the end credits didn't surprise me.

I tried not let Rami Malek's performance as the worst Bond villain of the franchise deflect from my enjoyment of the film and was pleased I hadn't known who the (worst two JB007 scores) composer was until the end.

Sorry Denzel, I'm afraid your presence/performance wasn't good enough to make this an enjoyable film.

Johnny English Strikes Again (2018) ... 5/10

A second viewing: a few laughs, with some great nods to the JB007 franchise but some sequences fall flat and the poor CGI dominated ending makes it looks cheap. Howard Goodall's score adds much to many scenes (borrowing extensively smile) ... minus the awful play-out song, of course.

 Posted:   Sep 28, 2023 - 4:43 AM   
 By:   Solium   (Member)

RE: The Peacemaker- Didn’t like the movie but love the score.
Unabashedly bombastic fun.

 Posted:   Sep 28, 2023 - 12:31 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

EXPEND4BLES (2023) – 8/10

Like the makers of many a trilogy these days, the producers of “The Expendables” series can’t resist a fourth bite at the apple. (Well, it seems to have worked for John Wick, which generated $428 million of box office for a $100 million investment). EXPEND4BLES, however, seems to be suffering the fate of Indiana Jones (admittedly on his fifth outing), with the first weekend scraping up only $14 million in box office receipts for their $100 million outlay.

Despite the difference in results compared to John Wick, EXPEND4BLES is a pretty good shoot ‘em up. This isn’t a film that wastes its time with chases when there’s mayhem to deliver in the form of gun battles, knife fights, and martial arts displays. There’s a reasonable quota of pyrotechnics as well.

The plot is spelled out for the audience in a sentence or two. Some international criminals have stolen some triggers for atomic devices and plan on delivering them to a terrorist determined to start World War III—with some idea that he can profit by turning the world into a cinder. It’s never explained how this profit is going to be made, and honestly, what difference would it make? The Expendables’ mission, should they choose to accept it, is to recover the triggers and bring down the terrorist.

All of the Expendables are pretty efficient killing machines, but none of them have the style of John Wick, so it’s just as well that they take a whole hour less than Wick in completing their deadly business. They get the world saved in well under two hours. Characterization is limited to semi-humorous banter between the team members, and other than Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, no one has more than a page of dialogue in the whole film.

But it’s the combat that we came for, and it’s just about nonstop. The major action takes place on a large cargo ship on the high seas, allowing plenty of opportunity for hide and seek. Director Scott Waugh is another former stunt man turned action director. He directs only sporadically, with 5 films in 15 years. EXPEND4BLES is his biggest project to date. His other 2023 action film, HIDDEN STRIKE starring Jackie Chan, went directly to Netflix. Composer Guillaume Roussel provides EXPEND4BLES with a standard action score.

 Posted:   Sep 28, 2023 - 2:04 PM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

Kiss the Devil in the Dark(2016)5/10
Some fella sells his soul to a demon to save his wife's life. He pulls a fast one , the demon pulls a fast one, then, er, um. That's about it.
The story is brief, as it is a 29 minute short. Still tou can't help wishing there was more to the tale. Still the demon make up was impressive and acting ok. The music by Gerrit Wonder, was well done, available from all good stockists

 Posted:   Sep 29, 2023 - 2:27 PM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

Creatures of Whitechapel- short(2016)4/10

London 1888 Jack the ripper's on the prowl. Only, here, ol' Jack is Igor, getting bits n pieces for the baron. Said baron is an English man and doing his stuff in Central London!? Music was good, it looked quite good. When it finished, it seemed a bit pointless.

 Posted:   Oct 1, 2023 - 1:42 AM   
 By:   Prince Damian   (Member)

Gangster Story(1959)3/10
With Walter Matheau and a load of 2"×2"

Bank robber Walt escapes custody. While on the lamb, decides to rob a bank. As result he comes to the attention of local gang boss, who decides to employ him. During this time Walt start dating a meek librarian. After a while he wants out, to settle down with the woman. The thugs think otherwise.
Pretty limp( putting it nicely). Apart from Walt the rest of the cast are more wooden than Delamere forest. So bad that they all sound like they've been dubbed! Not much happens, a little gun play, a little punch up or two. Anyway 2 points for Walt and one for the, fairly, clever, cheeky way he robs the bank.

 Posted:   Oct 1, 2023 - 2:46 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

Convicted (1950) ... 4++/10

As 'B-movies' go, this is pretty good with excellent performances from the ever dependable Glenn Ford and Broderick Crawford in an usual sympathetic role. Dorothy Malone plays her part well and credit to Millard Mitchell for a convincing performance as the long-term prisoner with a score to settle.

It's all basic stuff but perhaps in 1950 was a different take on the "innocent" convict story. To think a powerful DA would become a prison governor stretches this Brit's brain somewhat, as does his family living within the prison's compound. But then I know little about the UK prison service - happily!

I've never taken to Broderick Crawford in the few films of his I've seen - my favourite being The Fastest Gun Alive also starring Glenn Ford. But here is a commanding force and very watchable without being too abrasive. If nothing else, this film will make me consider him more favourably.

The story's roots as a play are evident, albeit the prisoner revolt scenes attempt to demonstrate a wider canvas.

A decent score, nothing special but far from obtrusive, by George Duning, at its best during the more sociable scenes.

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