With the calendar year coming to an end, it worked out that I saw not one but two of the best films I sat in on this year. Even better is the fact that one is from the classic era of film history while the other is from a more recent vintage.
Pony Soldier – Tyrone Power decked out in the red uniform of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
The Wackiest Ship In The Army – Jack Lemmon in another service comedy.
When Eight Bells Toll – Sir Anthony Hopkins goes the James Bond routine.
The Love Punch (2013) – Trying to hard to come up with laughs is Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson in this throwback to the screwball comedy. They are a divorced couple nearing retirement when Brosnan’s employer is bought out cheating him out of the pension that will keep both him and Emma comfortable in their later years. They won’t stand for it and turn the tables on the young hot shot who has put them in this predicament. Nice scenery and it looks pretty but comes up short though Brosnan disguised as a Texan in a cowboy hat is worth a look.
The Defiant Ones – Made for TV remake with Carl Weathers and Robert Urich
Day of the Evil Gun – Love the title of this latter day Glenn Ford western.
Man In The Vault – 50’s heist flick from director Andrew V. McLaglen
The Replacements (2000) – A long time in coming, I finally caught up to this film that starred Gene Hackman as Keanu Reeves football coach. Nice to see Jack Warden in here as well. The film is so so that casts Reeves as a wanna be big league football player who is enlisted when a players strike hits the supposed NFL league featured in the film. It’s just not that funny when it’s supposed to be. Jon Favreau is in here as well and another character that just isn’t that funny.
California Straight Ahead – Rare John Wayne title from 1937 with Duke in the trucking industry.
Desert Sands – Ralph Meeker in the French Foreign Legion takes action.
Trainwreck (2015) – While this has it’s gross out comedy moments that cause one to laugh out loud, it’s much more dramatic than I had anticipated and star Amy Schumer delivers a fine performance that carefully rides the line between comedy and drama at various points of the story. She’s a woman who loves to party. The female version of a man who beds every member of the opposite sex he can until he gets caught up in the game of love. Who knew LeBron James could make me laugh this much either? Tilda Swinton once again proves to be a wonderful chameleon when it comes to enacting roles. There’s also a fun gag that runs throughout with Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei.
The Breaking Point – A John Garfield classic that I wrote a piece on for future publication in the Noir magazine The Dark pages.
Malone – Fun action flick from the later days of Burt Reynolds.
Rules of Engagement (2000) – Violence and hatred of the middle east spills over in William Friedkins account of a U.S. military legend played by Samuel L. Jackson on trial for opening fire on a crowd killing countless unarmed civilians. He calls in his long time pal, Tommy Lee Jones to defend him in the court room presided over by military officials. Guy Pearce is the prosecutor and Ben Kingsley sneaks into the proceedings though I wish his role was more meatier. A bit self serving and years from now it’ll be called a fine example of propaganda filmmaking, just as many films of the forties war time era are.
The Killer Is Loose – Wendell Corey impresses here in the lead role. Recommended.
Two Bits (1996) – An odd film in the career of Al Pacino. He’s the dying grandfather of a teenage boy who longs to acquire the two bits of the title in order to gain entry into a movie house’s premiere during the depression. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio plays the boys Mother and Al’s widowed daughter struggling to support her household. I’m not sure I really liked this one though it has a nice feel for the era of the great depression. The opening credits caught my attention with scenes of classic movie stars and the promise of what the boy would see in the movie house but the film went in a different direction losing my overall interest.
The Cyclops and Daughter of Dr. Jekyll – A Gloria Talbot Double Feature
Ip Man (2008) – Impressive starring role for Donnie Yen in an equally impressive film. While this may be advertised as a martial arts film and features some stunning fight sequences, it’s really a drama about the hardships that the Chinese characters of the film will experience at the hands of their Japanese invaders during the years of WW2. The martial arts take a backseat to the heart of the film and are used to flesh out the story of both Yen’s inner strengths and struggles, his family and the people of his village that look to him for answers. Highly recommended.
Suspect – Cher teams with Dennis Quaid in the courtroom to free Liam Neeson
Bank Shot – I’m never one to turn down a George C. Scott film…… even the sub par ones.
I Am Wrath (2016) – John Travolta treads Death Wish territory this time out when his wife Rebecca De Mornay is murdered in what at first appears to be a vicious mugging. It’ll take you about two minutes to really figure out what’s going on but for some mindless action, it’ll work. Plenty of bodies are lying about before the end. Or rather the first of two or three endings that I thought were the end. Then it continued on and on. Travolta handles plenty of firearms here, sports a flashy tattoo and an even flashier false hairdo.
Ride Vaquero! – Robert Taylor vs. Anthony Quinn. The prize? Possibly Ava Gardner.
Man of the World – William Powell meets Carole Lombard
Class of 1984 – Totally watchable updating of Blackboard Jungle with Perry King and personal fave, Roddy McDowall.
Legalese (1998) – Made For Cable film that stars Gena Gershon as an actress on trial for murder. She’s guilty as sin and needs a winning team to represent her in the courtroom. She’ll turn to an old pro played by James Garner who knows how to manipulate the system and all those around him including Kathleen Turner, Mary Louise Parker and Edward Kerr as a young lawyer who looks up to him. Passable entertainment thanks to the star player, Mr. Garner.
Hobson’s Choice – A fine way to end the month thanks to the Mad Movie Challenge. Easily the must see film of this month if I were to suggest a classic while Ip Man would be the more modern film I’d push you to have a look at.