Ripping Yarns (1976–1979 Britain)

Ripping Yarns is Michael Palin at his best, delivering a one–man tour de force. This is even better than the Monty Python series, which has dated horribly and contains more misses than hits. But Ripping Yarns is still a spiffing good piece of television, even in this 21st century of ours. My personal favourite is Murder At Moorstones Manor, an Agatha Christie–like plot in an English country manor setting that gradually whittles down its cast at the point of a gun. The brilliant shambles of an ending denies the curious viewer the answer to whodunnit.
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Crooked House (2008 UK)

A BBC Christmas revival of the format that had lain dormant since 1980s US revivals “Creepshow” and “Tales from the Darkside”. Written by actor and writer Mark Gatiss – no slouch when it comes to knowledge of the macabre side of the silver screen as his “History of Horror” documentaries proved – here are 3 tales involving the history of foreboding Geap Manor, relayed by a sinister museum curator (Gatiss) to a schoolteacher (Lee Ingleby). [Read more…]

The Eiger Sanction (USA 1975)

A retired assassin, resigned to a life as an art professor and collector, one Jonathan Hemlock (Clint Eastwood) reluctantly agrees to take on the task of one last “sanction” when he learns that the targets are responsible for the death of an old friend. Discovering that one of the killers is among an expedition to climb the Eiger, he must discern the identity of the target and take him out, all whilst scaling the deadliest mountain in all of Europe. He must also show off his physique, know his wines and encounter some mean bitches along the way. In other words, Clint must try to be James Bond–but he doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi.
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The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)

This is for any reader who goes weak at the knees for a group of tragic boys with tragic pasts who are outwardly dangerous and feared, but are actually soft marshmallows underneath and love each other more than life–and would die for each other. Yes, its another book about sensitive teenage boys who alternately get into gang fights, hug one another and burst into tears. Then there’s the tight T shirts and lots of muscle admiring. Even though they’re always complimenting each other’s pretty hair and doing gymnastics, it’s not gay at all because it takes place in 1965, shortly after James Dean had made crying and homoerotic tension cool. [Read more…]

Die, Monster, Die! (1965 USA)

The original script for this adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out Of Space was so bad, written by Jerry Sohl, that the crew behind the camera could not stop giggling. At one point, actress Freida Jackson, wailed: “I can’t speak these lines. They’re unspeakable!” So director Daniel Haller had to rework the narrative mess. Despite his surgery, unintentional laughter remains. During an absurdly tense meal time scene, a servant collapses to the floor–taking the tablecloth and cutlery with him. Inspector Clouseau couldn’t have done it better.
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A View To A Kill (1985 United Artists)

All James Bond films are too long as the only segments that the public really wants to see are the women (who sometimes disappoint), the gadgets and the stunts/chases. Please don’t complain about the acting, script, plot development, music, etc… All of these elements are by-the-numbers in all Bond movies. The gist is how serious a particular 007 film takes itself, and if the pretentiousness this time around is overwhelming. In his goodbye performance, Roger Moore manages to remarkably combine all the best elements of his previous Bond movies, and comes up with a perfect way to leave behind Bond and Her Majesty’s Secret Service. [Read more…]

While The City Sleeps (1956 USA)

Fritz Lang’s second to last American feature is one of his most cynical pieces of work, consisting of two plot threads deftly coiled together to create an ironic whole. When media mogul, Amos Kyne, dies his playboy son takes over the seat of power. But, knowing he is unable to manage such an organization, he decides to create an executive directorship just below his role to do all the real work and manage the company day by day. Meanwhile, a maniac–‘The Lipstick Killer’– is stalking the city, strangling young women in their homes. [Read more…]

Dr Who – Planet Of Evil (1975 UK)

This adventure is the start of moving the series onward from the Earth based, UNIT adventures into new territory. UNIT had an excellent story Terror of the Zygons, prior to this, with the Brigadier and Benton on top form. But to expand the series scope back out to space was a good move even if it meant sadly phasing out UNIT. But Planet Of Evil is not regarded as a classic story by most Who fans. It rips off 1956’s Forbidden Planet along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. So it does get rather formulaic in places, but director David Maloney played up Louis Marks script to its main strength: atmosphere. Plus there’s a jungle to get lost in… [Read more…]

The Christmas Train (David Baldacci)

There is something enchanting about a train ride experience. And this is a pleasing Christmas read that takes place on a cross-country train trip from Washington DC to Los Angeles. It has fun settings, train facts and interesting characters. I am really impressed by this story. Reading like an old b& w film, our middle-aged hero wants to gain some peace and encounters romance, mystery, humour and adventure during his soul-searching journey. [Read more…]

The Venture Bros (USA 2003 – )

Some adult cartoons like modern Family Guy just try to disgust their audience to show how “edgy” they are. True, we get into some pretty dark territory with the Venture Bros every now and then, but it never really goes too far. It portrays the characters realistically and never has them try to gross out the viewers. We really do see character development and more of a story go on. Every character has their own quirks, and it’s too hard for me to pick a favourite one. [Read more…]

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