Magnum Force (1973 USA)

Just in case the viewer gets carried away, or the protagonists on the screen, Harry earnestly repeats throughout Magnum Force that “a man’s got to know his limitations” and “there’s nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot.” So bullets in bare breasts are acceptable, because the topless ladies in a swimming pool or nudes stoned at “$900 an ounce,” reinforce the morality: people who take off their clothes may have been asking for it. There’s also a gratuitous murder of a prostitute, climaxed with a shot of her killer’s face grinning through her spread legs. If that’s not offensive enough, in a dvd extra from the copy I have, shady-looking script writer, John Milius, suggests that Italians are not real Americans. [Read more…]

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The Jungle Book (2016 USA)

Too much CGI can go stale very fast if the story cannot keep up. The seams will start to show and the minutes will turn to hours. Looking at all the frames of The Jungle Book, other than Neel Sethi as Mowgli, everything is wall-to-wall CGI. But the sense of story is so compelling I lost myself totally in this world. I was awestruck by the level of visual details of each creature that occupies the screen. The facial expressions mirroring its running gamut of emotions, the physical movements of each animal, the pitch-perfect voicing – who wouldn’t believe they possess a human soul? Jon Favreau really cemented his directing skills with this film.
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Lock Up (1989 USA)

(Living the dream. Sly’s got a new boyfriend and some cat food. Talk about Mr Hollywood!) Frank Leone (Sylvester Stallone) is a saint. Literally. He has to do time in the big house for avenging the brutal beating of an elderly man. And he’ll only break out of prison if there’s a funeral for a loved one, or the old man that he avenged. Then back to his cell he will go like a good ‘un. Heck, when he has any free time he even spends it with his kids. And not even his blonde girlfriend, looking on approvingly, can stop him. Not a racist bone in his body either, but as an Italian stallion, he can see through those racist Anglo-Saxon types. Like warden Drumgoole and his guards, Manly and Wylie. These are the bad dudes. Lock Up isn’t subtle. [Read more…]

Mad Max (1979 Australia)

Heavily drawn from his observations of the 1973 oil crisis’ effects on Australian motorists and the 1975 film, ‘A Boy with his Dog’, director George Miller, with first-time screenwriter James McCausland, created one of Australia’s best known films: Mad Max. The first of several in the series, this movie tells the story of a dystopian future, where the scarcity of oil has begun to cause the collapse of civilization. Law and order are barely holding on within the towns while the highways are controlled by the outlaw gangs.  Despite popular belief, the film wasn’t a hit in the USA until later. It wasn’t until 1982’s Mad Max 2 (retitled The Road Warrior in America), that Americans started to love the original film. In the meantime, 1981, horror author Stephen King dismissed Mad Max as a “turkey” in his book, Danse Macabre. [Read more…]

Spectre (2015 United Artists)

The Sam Smith theme tune is s**t, obviously, but the rest of Spectre is quite superior to most other 007 entries in the long and tortuous franchise going back to before most of us were even born. Heck, this may even be my favourite. If you’ve wanted a Bond film that successfully merges Craig’s gritty Casino Royale, with all the old school touches, look no further. Director Sam Mendes tries to create massive story-arcs that span 4 films! Adding to that he attempts to weigh in on Bond’s steely personality, giving him a back-story that almost turns him into Bruce Wayne. (Don’t laugh) In modern parlance, this is some deep s**t. [Read more…]

The Forbidden Territory (Dennis Wheatley)

This was a smash hit in 1933 for its first time author. And he never looked back. By the 1960s he was selling a million books a year. He was never ‘big’ in America though, and with his elitist views and prudish characters, Wheatley’s name has faded into near obscurity now. As well as being well written from a technical perspective—plot, story, dialogue, exposition, The Forbidden Territory is also an interesting window on the late British Empire. For this reason, if no other, the books of Dennis Wheatley are worth reading. If you have a warm fire and a comfortable reading chair, this slim novel should provide a top-hole evening of very British entertainment: wealthy debonair characters (resolutely heterosexual) tanning the hide of uppity foreigners. It almost makes one wish for the return of the British Empire. [Read more…]

The Lord of the Rings: The Twin Towers (2002 New Zealand/USA)

So the journey continued with ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.’ This review will assume you have seen the first film, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Which is fine because Peter Jackson, at the helm of this massive production, assumes you have seen it as well. Intelligently, Jackson does not begin with a redundant and unnecessary prologue. He dives right into what the filmmakers considered the hardest segment of the trilogy to make.  [Read more…]

Assault On Precinct 13 (1976 USA)

Labelled an “auteur” by the French and a “bum” by his compatriots, John Carpenter will never get the acclaim of a Spielberg or a Hitchcock. I’m siding with the Americans…The best thing about “Assault” is its bare-bones construction. There’s precious little backstory, no real explanation for the heinous actions of the gang members, no extraneous “character development” for the protagonists, no scenes where they talk about how they have a wife and kids at home or are retiring tomorrow, and very few cutaways from the main action once it gets going (the lone exception being a few sequences with a couple of clueless cops patrolling the neighbourhood who keep missing the siege on the supposedly abandoned precinct). [Read more…]

Live And Let Die (1973 United Artists)

LALDYou’ll have a rucking good time watching a clown in a tuxedo, I mean Britain’s most famous spy, in his 8th adventure. Buttocks will be kicked and maybe even some names taken in vain. Mix in some racial tension and viola! An above average Bond flick. This time it feels smaller scale and slightly less over the top although it has the action comedy tone which would define the Roger Moore era. Ludicrous yet rooted in the real world and centred on a very real issue rather than the usual world domination or diamond lasers. Director Guy Hamilton manages to get the tone just right. This was a stark change to the usual proceedings: Roger Moore’s debut is about voodoo, the supernatural and the majority of the cast are black people.  [Read more…]

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974 United Artists)

 

This is another 007 adventure which gets trashed by many critics. Perhaps because it’s subdued in tone, possibly abnormally so for a Bond movie. As if the film itself is depressed. Well, in 1974 the world was in a depressed state–because of the energy crisis, which M and Bond remind us of in one of their dialogue exchanges. The vibe surrounding here is the most peculiar of them all: it’s very Asiatic/kung-fu in tone, and very downbeat. It’s definitely no extravaganza like, say, The Living Daylights, but an attentive viewing of the Man With The Golden Gun should prove very rewarding. This is the last of the ‘old-fashioned’ Bond films. [Read more…]

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