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Monthly Archives: September 2010

Ridley Scott’s: Robin Hood (2010) Not Blackhawk Down but not bad either.

I must confess I did not have high expectations for this film at all. Perhaps it is because I was still polluted from Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)—the rigidly formulaic tale of this tired story.

Be that as it may, once again Ridley Scott hit me for a six with his version of the Hood legend by providing a back-story to the traditional tale with the movie ending just as Robin begins his career as an outlaw.

The movie starts on the battlefield where Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is an archer in King Richard the Lionheart’s army. Following a successful day of battle, Robin unwinds with his compatriots Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), Allan A’Dayle (Alan Doyle) and Little John (Kevin Durand) but they manage to land in the stocks and are forced to sit out the next day’s battle. A battle where the King catches an arrow in the throat with his last request to return his crown to England. Robin and his men are freed from the stocks by a young boy to return home. All the while, the King Phillip of France plans to conquer England by enlisting the help of Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong). Godfrey, a traitorous Englishman with a French connection ambushes the Royal Guard. Robin and his men happen upon the ambush as it occurs and fight back, killing many while Godfrey escapes. Robin goes to Sir Robert Loxley whose last wish is for his sword to be returned to his father. The film then follows Robin as he returns to Loxley’s home of Nottingham with the impending French attack looking over England’s shoulder.

Robin then takes over the role of the dead Sir Robert Loxley in order to prevent land and other estates being turned over to the crown for lack of an heir. He also has the bonus of a ready-made wife Maid Marion—who needs some lessons on how to curtsy a lost art. As Robin begins with the charade he ends up filling the role of the real nobility quite well oozing Noblesse Oblige as the story progresses. Eventually there is a showdown between England and France and the mortal enemies made along the way. The movie also provides a bit of Girl Power in that Maid Marion dresses in full armor and fights in the last battle.

While a tired story, this film solidifies my perception of Ridley Scott as one of the premier period piece film makers of all time. Scott having already made Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and of course Blackhawk Down, he continues to show us his cinematic eye. Each shot has such an authenticity that the audience can nearly smell the grimy earthiness of old England. Then Scott stages action scenes amongst this terrain. This may not be your mom’s Robin Hood, but it is the most exciting.

Naturally the film suffers from a lackluster story and nearly non-existent character development but is not a waste. Shot in such a way that suggests a true understanding of the period, the film keeps your eyes interested.

Also it was good to see William Hurt on the silver screen again.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Dr. H Calls in Wall Street–Money Never Sleeps

Dr. H called in his thoughts on Wall Street–Money Never Sleeps. Here is his take:

Finally Oliver Stone’s magnum opus hits the theater (so far) with mixed reviews from the critics.

It is, in the final analysis, worth seeing for all the attention to detail Stone has put in. But like most of Oliver Stone’s movies, the movie for all of its visual and narrative brilliance has one flaw–it does not have a soul.

Shia LaBeouf is a wrong choice for the younger lead role–too green behind the ears. DiCaprio would have been a better choice.

Ditto for the female. Amy Adams would have been a better choice.

To understand the movie’s sub plots — and there are many — nothing less than an MBA or preferably a PHD in economics would suffice. There is just too much talk about hedge funds for my liking.

There is just so much of the frantic New York pace you can take then you start feeling dizzy. My recommendation is wait for the DVD — the editor’s cut, not the director’s.

For what it’s worth. Dr. H.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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Passenger 57—Get passage out of the theater for this one.

Oh my, it’s been too long since I reviewed a real piece of #^$@ movie, so I dug deep into my bag of tricks to find a really smelly film: Passenger 57. This one is agonizing to watch since it hurts on so many levels. The movie’s signature tag-ling/sound byte was Wesley Snipes saying “always bet on black.” How clever. That is what is put forth as the highlight of the movie—and even that is reaching. Even if the only thing you’re interested in when you watch an action movie is guns blazing and fight scenes, then this one still falls short because the movie repeatedly insists on descending into silliness, with a story that makes very little sense, even as action movies go.

Snipes plays John Cutter, a security expert who’s just been hired to be chief of security for Atlantic International Airlines. He boards a flight for Los Angeles not knowing that the FBI is transporting a vicious terrorist on the same flight. The opening scenes involving terrorist Charles Rane (Bruce Payne) and his attempt to escape the FBI by fleeing a plastic surgeon’s office, where he was apparently going to have his appearance changed, was so cliché and over acted it had established the nature of movie early on.

Naturally the rest of the movie is a back and forth Die Hard wannabe duel between snipes and the terrorist. So poor I can’t even recount on the site as it could be viral and affect the other reviews.

This film has one redeeming quality. It’s very short. So short, in fact, that you’re actually pleasantly surprised when it ends. Surely that can’t be it, you muse for a moment, after Snipes has dispatched the chief bad guy. But yes, in an act of euthanasia for which the producers should be highly commended, its life support system is switched off and this turkey is given the quick death it so richly deserves.

In 2006 Wesley Snipes was indicted for tax fraud and he was found guilty of willfully failing to file his tax returns. Well the charge is a bit wrong – it’s the audience who’ve been defrauded by foolish excuse for an action movie. I apologize for having put you through this but I felt I owed it to you.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

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That is right, another Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor Classic: Stir Crazy (1980)

After taking a look at Silver Streak, it seemed only natural to watch Stir Crazy the second of four comedies Wilder and Pryor made together. Skip Donahue (Gene Wilder) and Harry Monroe (Richard Pryor) are best friends living in New York City. Donahue is a bad amateur playwright, working a day job in department store its plain clothes security guard. Monroe is working as a catering waiter wannabe actor who has made $35.00 acting. Both fired on the same day, Wilder is canned for harassing a starlet in the department store and Pryor is fired because his marijuana “from the mother land” ends up in the food at a high table dinner, Wilder uses the occasion as the perfect opportunity to finally leave New York and go west. Neither adapt well to life outside of New York, and they end up framed for a Bank Robbery and are sentenced to 125 years in prison.

Neither one of them is handling prison very well. Then one day the warden discovers that Wilder is a natural rodeo star and wants him to participate in the prison’s event. Wilder is told that if he refuses long enough, the warden will become so desperate that he will strike a deal with Wilder and his crew creating the possibility of a jail break while at the event. Wilder is subjected to different forms of coercion but makes it look like he enjoys the torture. Eventually the warden and Wilder strike a deal and its off to the rodeo they go.

The rodeo scenes comprise about the last 30 minutes or so. Pryor leads the convict team out of the stadium just as their lawyer is en route to tell the duo that they are free legitimately. Naturally things are tied up nicely in the end.

Yes the script is thin and yes it is a corny film, but Pryor and Wilder pull it out again and manage to make another gentle comedy suitable for most viewers. Also, a couple of facts many people overlook about Stir Crazy is that it was directed by none other than Sidney Poitier and that Gene Wilder sung the opening lyrics.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

Ah the 1970’s When the Ladies Still Drank Hard Liquor—Silver Streak (1976)

Starring: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Ned Beatty, Jill Clayburg, Ray Walston and others.

If you like movies that are set on trains then this one will be up your alley. In a day when train films are few and far between, Silver Streak is one of the better ones around. If you are a Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor fan then it’s a real treat. Wilder and his particular brand of humor are in spades in this film. In my opinion Wilder was at his best in the 70’s and early 80’s. Let’s not forget that Richard Prior joins in about a third of the way through the film and Patrick McGoohan (TV series Danger Man) is in his idiom when playing mysterious or devious characters and in Silver Streak plays the smooth but cold and ruthless Roger Devereau who’ll go to any length to get what he wants. “Jaws” (Clifton James) for all of you James Bond fans plays a small role like his characters played in the Bond movies. Also as supporting characters are Scatman Crowthers, Ray Walston and Ned Beatty with Jill Clayburgh playing the heroine.

Wilder plays George Caldwell, a boring average everyday man who decides to take Amtrak’s “Silver Streak” from LA to Chicago to do some reading. As is often portrayed in 1970s movies, within his first 15 minutes into a bar scene Wilder finds himself a woman that he gets “romantically involved” with — fellow passenger Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburg). While in Hilly’s cabin (next to his naturally) he sees a corpse thrown from the train, that turns out to be Hilly’s boss. Wilder starts to investigate this but soon finds himself way in over his head and is unceremoniously thrown off the train several times because of his meddling.

Enter Richard Pryor, who appears as a thief in a police car stolen by Wilder to get back on the Silver Streak. Prior steals the show from here on out. At the time (1976) Pryor was in the midst of a very hot career, and although this film seems to restrain some of the imagination and language of his stage presence and TV specials, (this is a PG-rated movie, after all), he still creates an indelible extended ‘cameo’ that fuses film with a hip, perfectly cool counterbalance to Wilder’s mania and confusion. When Pryor is on screen he not only steals the film, but also elevates this old-fashioned adventure-comedy concept to something otherwise original.

As you can probably guess, everything turns out just fine in the end. But that is not the true value of Silver Streak. “Silver Streak” is the first of four Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor match-ups and certainly in retrospect, one of the best. The other three being Stir Crazy (also a classic), See No Evil and Another You. The Wilder-Pryor pairing was able to take relatively formulaic movies and make them interesting.

In short Silver Streak is a very gentle but funny comedy that plays with the conventions of one of Hitch’s favorite themes, the mistaken identity of everyday man in extraordinary circumstances.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 

Congradulations Dangerous You have won the DVD of your choice.

Nice work Dangerous, the number of comments you left has paid off. You have won the DVD of your choice (including Blue Ray) shipped to you anywhere in the world–I think it’s Australia for you isn’t it.

Just send me your contact information and where you want it shipped & its yours. One condition, you have to review it for the site!

Look forward to your choice and review.

JPF

 
8 Comments

Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Movie Reviews

 
 
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