August 2016 in Review.
While I’m still keeping up with movies and trying to see both old and more recent titles, holidays crept in so I took a more leisurely pace at posting “takes” on films but still managed to somehow squeeze in a fair number of flicks in between an East Coast trip and projects around the house.
The roll call goes as follows.
Missing In Action Trilogy ….. I guess I needed an overdose of Chuck Norris drop kicks.
Merrill’s Marauders – Likable Jeff Chandler’s final film.
Killer Shark & Kidnapped – Two early Roddy McDowall efforts.
Guns of the Timberland – Alan Ladd and Gilbert Roland constitutes a western I had to see.
The Trap – Anytime spent watching Richard Widmark on screen is never wasted.
The Professionals (1966) – Deserved of a dedicated feature post, I watched this one while visiting with my family out east. It’s a great western tale from Richard Brooks featuring Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode as the title group. They’re hired by Ralph Bellamy to retrieve his kidnapped wife Claudia Cardinale from Mexican bandit Jack Palance. First rate entertainment with an amazing cast. Simply put, it’s a must see!
Stir Crazy (1982) – Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder star in this winning comedy of a duo wrongly convicted of bank robbery and sentenced to life in prison. This one squarely hits the funny bone with Wilder discovering that he’s a natural at riding bulls and bucking broncs at the prison rodeo. I saw this at the theater years ago and it made for a great rewatch with my parents eliciting plenty of laughter from us all reunited in front of the TV. A special thanks to the recently passed Gene Wilder for lending his talents to this reunion with Mom and Dad. I knew it was a great DVD to throw in the car for my return home.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004) – Picking up where both Matt Damon and myself left off after seeing the first entry for the first time last month, it’s more of the same and proves conclusively that the best way to turn a killing machine loose is to take away the woman that he loves. Brian Cox returns and Joan Allen steps in as someone at the head office who just might be a friend to Damon who is looking for answers after being targeted by ….. I know you’ve probably seen this long before I had but I’m still not about to name the film’s baddie. Karl Urban is in here and makes for a satisfying hitman on Damon’s trail. More answers to follow in the next chapter…..
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – Matt Damon is back on the grid when reporter and not long for this world, Paddy Considine spells Damon’s name out in a newspaper article. The powers at the head office of U.S. Intelligence take notice. Powerful men on the inside like Scott Glenn and David Strathairn. Thankfully Damon still has Joan Allen on the inside looking out for him though neither is quite sure of the other’s motives. Once again there’s plenty of action to be found but this time I thought the formula was just a bit tired and proved to be more of the same for the first hour or so. Albert Finney awaits Mr. Damon as the film winds down. Wraps up nicely but having said that, it appears that 2016 would see the return of Mr. Damon leading me to the movie theater to jump ahead of many of you and see what Jason Bourne is up to now……
Jason Bourne (2016) – A “friend” from the past re-enters Matt Damon’s life and thankfully he’s kept in shape playing like he’s Jean Claude Van Damme in the world of underground streetfighting. How is it possible after all the fighting and beatings this guy has taken that he still has a perfect set of teeth? That friend from the past happens to be a woman and when she is taken from him, Damon turns into our modern day vigilante and begins to dig into the goings on of just who is behind the evil doings in the world of espionage. Naturally someone wants Damon dead for past histories. Did I mention Tommy Lee Jones is in here? Alicia Vikander stars as well and might be Damon’s new “friend” on the inside. If she is I worry about her safety in the next big screen adaptation of Damon’s take on Jason Bourne. Fun, action packed and more of the same.
Two Mules For Sister Sara – Clint Eastwood rides the west with Shirley MacLaine.
Crest of the Wave – Gene Kelly joins the British Navy.
Psychic Killer – A fun seventies low budget effort where you get to play spot the star.
Stranger Than Fiction (2006) – A leisurely paced comedy with an ingenious catch. Will Ferrell hears his life being narrated by an unseen voice. Meanwhile Emma Thompson is a writer struggling to complete her novel where her leading character must die. What if Ferrell is her leading character? Quirky, dry and it draws you in. Dustin Hoffman joins in the fun and Maggie Gyllenhaal makes for a sexy leading lady who captures Ferrell’s straight laced heart.
Home Sweet Homicide – Randolph Scott joins in on a fun search for a killer.
Chato’s Land – Why watch this? The cast. Bronson, Palance, Basehart, Whitmore etc.
Return of the Living Dead (1984) – Hilarious zombie spoof that picks up the Romero plot and twists it on it’s ear. Predating the zombie craze we have all experienced today, this one is a gem with laughs mixed in with gross out F/X. Clu Gulager, James Karen and Don Calfa bring their A game to the silly proceedings. A laugh out loud festival of zombies to be found here in this flick that was a huge hit during the early days of the VHS craze.
White Sands – Dafoe + Rourke adds up to a fun Noir like tale.
Hustler Squad – Exploitation fun with women stepping into this Dirty Dozen wannabe.
Forget About It (2006) – The title represents what one could say about this geriatric tale of three old timers living in a trailer park all lusting after Raquel Welch and finding themselves in possession of mob money. Could have worked with a budget, a surer hand directing and a couple plot fixes. So forgettable it may be but it’s hard not to notice that the three old geezers are played by Burt Reynolds, Charles Durning and Robert Loggia. I’m a fan of all three so I had to check it out.
The Devil’s In Love – Loretta Young and leading man Victor Jory? A fun early talkie.
Frozen Ground (2013) – Thankfully this serial killer flick didn’t pander to the torture porn genre that I find such a turn off. Based on a true story, Nicolas Cage gets a good role here as the tracker looking to prove and take down John Cusack for numerous killings of prostitutes over a long period of time. Kevin Dunn, Curtis Jackson and a very good Vanessa Hudgens as a young woman living in fear make this one worth checking out proving that both Cage and Cusack can still turn up in a well made thriller.
Get Carter and Get Carter – two versions featuring Michael Caine first and Sylvester Stallone second featuring Michael Caine in support.
Boss of Bosses (2001) – Mafia done cable TV style. Chazz Palminteri plays the title role. He’s real life don, Paul Castellano who struggles to lead the families into more legit businesses. Clancy Brown and Jay O’Sanders are the FBI agents constantly looking to take Chazz down. It has that gangland flavor thanks to Chazz and though watchable, is far from worthy of being discussed in the same breath as the films of Coppola and Scorsese. Chazz as usual is engaging and has a screen presence that works. A decent effort though we’ll probably see another attempt at bringing Castellano’s story to the screen.
Road Trip (2000) – My hands in the air. I admit it. This gross out teen comedy gets me laughing up a storm. A foursome of college kids hit the road to retrieve a home made porn tape before it reaches the wrong girl. Seann William Scott, not surprisingly is one of the gang in another variation on his American Pie Stifler role. Tom Green narrates the tale that sees one of my favorite character players, Fred Ward turn up as well as a father looking for his supposedly kidnapped son. It’s bawdy, foul and funny bone funny.
The Four Feathers – My monthly assignment is a classic from the year of “39. Recommended.
Good Night and Good Luck (2005) – A wonderfully shot in black and white ensemble piece from director George Clooney. At the center is David Strathairn as newsman Edward R. Murrow during the Communist witch hunts led by Senator McCarthy. The shame of the unjust finger pointing that was carried out leading many to talk in whispers and always looking over their shoulders allows actors like Frank Langella, Clooney, Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey Jr. and Jeff Daniels an opportunity to lend solid support to Strathairn’s leading role in this pressure cooker. Plenty of Oscar nominations for this one upon it’s release.
For a recommendation on the classic front, I’ll have to suggest what was assigned to me. And for good reason, The Four Feathers. For a post 2000 title, let’s go with Good Night and Good Luck. Oddly both of these titles were the final films I watched this month.