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January 2016 in Review

With The Revenant hitting screens everywhere I figured I may as well start the year off with the “original” version of the same story starring Richard Harris as the unlucky trapper tangling with a Grizzly and get the new year underway.

harris wilderness

The Man In The Wilderness – John Huston joins Harris in this frontier saga

Arizona – A pre-code John Wayne rarity.

San Andreas – Dwayne Johnson proves he’s a force of nature when he tackles an earthquake that levels the west coast. Great CGI and Bad CGI are mixed in with The Rock and it’s never dull. Paul Giamatti and Carla Gugino are along for the tremors. Popcorn movie at it’s finest.

san-andreas-couple

Count Dracula – Christopher Lee’s Spanish version of the Stoker novel by cult fave Jess Franco

Trouble In Texas and Renegade Ranger – Double Rita Hayworth western bill.

Destination Inner Space – Could this be the original version of Alien???

Chained – Gable Meets Crawford.

The Salvation – Mads Mikkelsen brought this western to life with a fine performance as a man who loses everything of value to a gang led by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It’s a harsh world in the new frontier and Mads summons the soul of Clint Eastwood and Clint’s westerns of the seventies as he goes about seeking justice. Eva Green turns up in a different styled role as that of a mute woman with demons of her own. I’d recommend this one to all and especially those of us who are looking for a good western of which very few are actually made nowadays.

salvation poster

The Outsider – Made for Cable western from 2002 caught my eye because it had David Carradine and brother Keith appearing. Their roles are actually secondary in this tale of a strong frontier woman played by Naomi Watts who is of Mormon heritage and deemed an outcast when she takes in a seriously injured gunfighter played by Tim Daly only to have a romance blossom. Likable film in that Little House on the Prairie style.

Chrome and Hot Leather – 70’s biker exploitation.

13 – Can’t say I liked this film all that much due to the nature of the material. A tournament of players gather around to play a warped take on Russian Roulette with gory results. But what a first rate cast! Jason Statham, Ray Winstone, Mickey Rourke, Sam Riley, Michael Shannon and Ben Gazzara do their best to make the final reel.

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Count the Hours – Early Siegel film featuring a nasty Jack Elam

Goke : Body Snatcher From Hell – Fun Japanese sci-fi flick from the sixties.

Pork Chop Hill – Great cast in this war drama featuring stoic Greg Peck

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Run All Night – Liam Neeson’s faded thug faces off against Ed Harris, his one time mob boss in what I thought was an above average action film that isn’t quite the typical Taken type of flick. It has a heart and both leading characters have sons that they want to protect in the film.  The action sequences come fast and hard. No classic but anytime I get to see Ed Harris look and act mean is usually time well spent. Overall this one doesn’t disappoint and having Vincent D’Onofrio in here is an added bonus.

Diamonds – Late great Robert Shaw flick.

Missing – Superb Jack Lemmon -Sissy Spacek film.

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Creed – Off to the theater for Number 2 Son, Kirk’s birthday. He chose Creed to catch up on the Rocky saga. Though Sly may not have wrote this one, he continues to turn this character’s life story into a winning formula. It’s a wonderful film and as someone who has basically grown up with Stallone film’s I’ll be pulling for him to bring home Oscar on the strength of the sentimental vote.

The Ward – At last I finally caught up with the most recent of films from John Carpenter. No doubting his style as it’s very distinct and he delivers a nice low key thriller featuring Amber Heard as a patient in a psychiatric ward. Long hallways and low camera angles harken back to his Halloween and Michael Myers classic. Give it a shot.

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The Violent Men – The Barbara Stanwyck blogathon.

Running Mates – Made For Cable effort with Tom Selleck making a run for the White House surrounded by a bevy of leading ladies. They’re all enlisted in his campaign and just happen to be ex-lovers. Faye Dunaway, Laura Linney, Teri Hatcher and Nancy Travis. Watchable effort as Tom struggles with his conscience to do the right thing on his way to the Presidency and avoid the money men who pull the strings.

Gold For the Caesars – Jeffrey Hunter goes Peplum.

An Eye For An Eye – 1966 western Slim Pickens style.

The Great McGinty – Brian Donlevy meets Preston Sturges

Lone Wolf McQuade – The legend that is Chuck Norris

Riff-Raff – Pat O’Brien goes Noir

Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy – I know this Gary Oldman spy thriller got some major kudos but honestly I found it rather dull. Sorry Gary. Let it be said I am a fan of Oldman’s chameleon like performances. One thing I do appreciate is a great ensemble cast and this one has just that featuring John Hurt, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy etc.

Dawn at Socorro – back to the western and Rory Calhoun

Shockproof – Monthly Mad Movie Challenge from Kristina

Nightmares – Lance Henriksen says it all.

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Lone Survivor – Intense! Easily the best film I’ve seen in a while. Great job by director Peter Berg at putting the viewer right in the middle of a mountain battle between four marines and the overwhelming forces of the Taliban. I was rooting aloud for the quartet of actors led by Mark Wahlberg and featuring Ben Foster. Hard hitting, emotionally draining and highly recommended. This is not a Die Hard popcorn adventure. Is it propaganda? Perhaps, but that’s not the way I viewed it. Based on a true story.

Appointment With Venus – The charm of David Niven shines.

Get Hard – Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart go for the funny bone in this R rated comedy that strikes a bullseye with many of the gags. Ferrell is headed to prison and is terrified he’s going to be more than manhandled so hires Hart who he believes is a hardened ex con to teach him how to survive in the big house. Hart is all talk. Perhaps they should figure out who framed Will instead. Co stars Craig T. Nelson. In other words, guess who did the framing.

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Total score = 34 films in total. 26 new to me titles and 8 re-watches. And seriously, Lone Survivor impressed the hell out of me!

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