December 2015 Round-Up
As per my usual viewing habits, I tried to catch something a bit different from various genres and eras. Did a pretty good job and even managed to mix in some more recent titles during the holiday season.
I started the month wrapping up my Burt Lancaster fest.
Twilight’s Last Gleaming – Burt in the 70’s
Barnum – Burt tackles the famed showman.
Black Mama, White Mama – A little Pam Grier to brighten up the season.
The 27th Day – 50’s sci-fi.
Star Trek : The Motion Picture – A look back after acquiring an original one sheet.
Casa di mi Padre – Will Ferrell makes me laugh. Seeing him star in a Spanish speaking modern day western was a hoot. It’s a tale of drug lords and brothers who vie for the love of the same woman. No scene of Will in his fruit of the looms but how about the trap door long johns instead. Part of the novelty is the fact that Will speaks Spanish through the entire film and a tip of the hat for trying something totally out of the ordinary.
Burton and Taylor – Well made look at the late in life reunion that took place between one of the world’s most famous couples.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Loved this Wes Anderson flick with the star studded cast. It’s a quirky tale with Ralph Fiennes as the concierge at the hotel of the film’s title. It goes in direction’s I didn’t expect and brings along folks like Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, a Nosferatu like Willem Dafoe and F. Murray Abraham among the usual stock company that Anderson employs in his visions turned into movies. It’s like every frame of film could be a print or painting all by itself. No spoilers from me but highly recommended.
Horizon’s West – Hudson vs. Ryan
Wag the Dog – Politics mixed with Hoffman and DeNiro
Von Ryan’s Express – Joining into the Frank Sinatra blogathon with a favorite.
The Magus – Michael Caine and Anthony Quinn
Crossing Over – Harrison Ford leads the cast in this timely tale of immigration and those trying to stay in the United States. Ray Liotta, Cliff Curtis and Ashley Judd pitch in for this look at multiple story lines converging on each other towards the fade out. Better then I expected with some stand out performances.
The Neanderthal Man – More 50’s monsters created in the lab.
The Code – Antonio Banderas and Morgan Freeman were my main interest here and other then a young Tom Hardy joining in with Robert Forster and Rade Serbedzija ( who will forever be known as Boris the Blade in my universe) there isn’t much to recommend in this heist tale with far too many twists and turns along the way.
Holiday Affair – Mitchum and Leigh try their hand at a Christmas tale.
Face of Fire – needs to find an audience
Home to Danger – Terry Fisher Noir
Gunman – Action packed Sean Penn tale that’s been done before and will be again before another year is out. Still it was a fun ride even if the plot is far too silly at times. And how about Javier Bardem and the always welcome Ray Winstone showing up for added support. Grab the popcorn.
Miracle of the White Stallions – Robert Taylor joins the Disney family
Red Scorpion – Dolph Lundgren takes on the Russian army
Do Not Disturb – Doris Day joins up for a second outing with Rod Taylor
Trading Places – love this one and it’s many quotes that I still use in everyday life
Stonehearst Asylum – A bit of a throwback to the days of Hammer Films with this 19th century tale of a young doctor arriving at an asylum run by Ben Kinglsey. All is not as it seems with Kate Beckinsale and Michael Caine joining in the fun and a rather nasty David Thewlis patrolling the hospital halls. Brendan Gleeson also turns up making it a cast worth checking out.
Shenandoah – Love this Jimmy Stewart classic
Hostage – Here’s another one that I am not sure why it took me so long to catch as I generally like Bruce Willis. A fine flick with a solid twist. Bruce as a negotiator who gets more then he bargained for when Kevin Pollack’s family is taken under siege by a scary Ben Foster. I’d recommend this one.
The Premature Burial – Ray Milland + Roger Corman + Edgar Allan Poe = FUN
Survival of the Dead – The most recent zombie flick to date from George A. Romero. It’s the Hatfields and the McCoys as a backdrop and a wonderful Kenneth Welsh performance mixed into the proceedings of the customary ripping and tearing of the flesh with a few head shots along the way.
Mr. Moto’s Gamble – Peter Lorre takes over for Warner Oland
Gravity – I should have listened to those that told me this was a sensational film. Really grabbed me in it’s basic premise against the backdrop of isolation in space. Wish I had seen Sandra Bullock’s struggle on the big screen. George Clooney always seems to find a way of impressing me with his on screen presence as well.
The Devil Bat – catch this Bela Lugosi flick with a friend to double the fun.
Collateral – Michael Mann directs Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx in this solid underworld tale of a hitman and a cabby he employs on a one night spree of killings. Another title it took me forever to finally catch up with. Glad I made the effort.
The Forger – A low key John Travolta joins with Canadian Christopher Plummer for this tale of a newly released forger (Travolta) who has a debt to pay the local hoods for springing him. He turns to his father (Plummer) who cusses like a sailor in helping him look after his own son and embark on a heist that should even the score and then some. More to this then just a heist plot and I liked it. Had a heart.
How to Make Love Like An Englishmen – Plenty of reasons to check this one out. I enjoy many of Pierce Brosnan’s efforts since he gave up his license to kill. It’s got a crusty Malcolm McDowell. Eye candy, yup you bet. Jessica Alba. And for me the stunning Salma Hayek. Plot? Yes there’s one of those too. It’s kind of a modern day screwball comedy and tries it’s best. Any excuse to see Miss Hayek look ravishing is plenty reason for me to overlook any shortfalls this one has.
The Hateful Eight – Honestly I’m having a hard time with this title as I post this less then 24 hours after seeing it for the first time. I’ve seen every Tarantino film at the theater and this is the first that left me unsure if I liked it. Beautifully shot and the opening credits with Morricone music is stunning. Just thought it was overlong and can it be possible the violence has been increased in a Tarantino film. I think so. To the point of turning me off. For a second it looked like I’d wound up in a Zombie flick. Still there are plenty of memorable scenes but as a collective piece I’m just having a hard time with it. Perhaps upon a rewatch it’ll grow on me. I did like the fact that it was a snowbound western. Boils down to an Agatha Christie flick crossed with the violence and dialogue from Quentin.
Final score …… 20 new to me films and 15 rewatches.