June 2017 In Review
A wide variety of films continue to interest me and I never have the time to see as many as I set out to between working steady and trying to watch most every Blue Jays baseball game within reason. Still, I managed to catch some newer releases as well as an outstanding documentary series that I’m going to insist any and all classic film fans and WW2 buffs be sure to see.
Have a look and compare your viewing list with mine. Let me know what you liked and would have preferred to pass on.
Slumming with Cameron Mitchell – A trio of guilty pleasures starring the one time fifties leading man.
The Horrible Dr. Hichcock – Barbara Steel thriller a whole lot of fun.
The Gauntlet – Clint Eastwood drives a bus with fiery results.
Standoff (2016) …………. Almost like a stage play, this enjoyable thriller stars Thomas Jane and Laurence Fishburne as opposing forces of nature who seek to kill the other. Laurence is a take no prisoners assassin who in the opening scene is spotted by a young girl killing a mark. This condemns her to death. She flees the scene and takes refuge in an isolated countryside home occupied by military vet Jane. The pair will barricade themselves on the upper floor with a shotgun for defence while Laurence will be on the floor below telling Jane he wants the girl and since Jane hasn’t seen his face he’ll walk away when the girl is handed over to him. Mind games and inner demons ensue. I think this one could have been far better but in the end it is watchable in a Sleuth kind of way with good performances from all three characters.
Helen of Troy – Historical epic fifties style looking for star power
The Great Bank Robbery – Comical western with Clint Walker meeting Kim Novak.
The Kidnapping of Mr. Heineken (2015) ……… I for one had no recollection that the man who owns Heineken beer was once kidnapped in the 1980’s and held for millions of dollars in ransom money. So here is the story put to film with a suitably cast Anthony Hopkins in the title role though it’s rather thankless I felt as the majority of the movie focuses on the gang that take him captive and leave poor Hopkins chained up in a small living space for the majority of the film. I have a feeling the script kept attempting to give him a “big” acting scene opposite one of his captors but never quite found the right note. Passable fare for Hopkins fans and it should also be noted that another film on the subject exists with Rutger Hauer taking center stage.
Night of the Iguana – A John Huston pleasure with Burton and Gardner in fine form.
Biggles – Peter Cushing’s swan song
The Reluctant Heroes – TV wartime drama with Warren Oates and Jim Hutton leading the way.
Ashby (2015) …….. If Bill Murray had St. Vincent then with a bit of tweaking, Mickey Rourke can have Ashby and it kind of works though not on the same level as the Murray flick. Rourke is the neighbor of a young teen finding his way in life. With Sarah Silverman as his sexually liberated mother the youngster turns to Rourke looking for a father figure. Rourke is a retired government assassin with plenty of baggage and past sins that he’d like to right and men he’d like to pay off for their transgressions against him. Why not take the kid along on his daily travels and teach him some of life’s lessons. Yeah, it kind of works and Rourke is still a presence when the camera hits him.
Strange Bargain – RKO serves up this low budget Noir effort that makes for an afternoon delight
Fedora – A thrill to discover a Billy Wilder flick I had somehow missed and it even stars William Holden!
The Sons of Katie Elder – A Father’s Day pic and why not with John Wayne and Dean Martin riding the trail. Highly recommended.
The Trust (2016) ………. Initially I thought this was going to play like a comical heist film and why not, JERRY LEWIS makes an appearance as Nicolas Cage’s father. For all of about 60 seconds so I’m not sure what Jerry is really doing in here other than doing someone a favor. Quirky as usual, Cage is good initially opposite Elijah Wood and the film had me interested but it takes a turn towards violence and a meanness I hadn’t really been expecting. It’s not bad but just another payday in the endless stream of films that Cage continues to appear in. The man reminds me of guys like Donald Pleasence and John Carradine. By that I mean he’s never read a script he didn’t like.
Taras Bulba – Yul Brynner looks good in the title role but I can understand if you laugh the whole thing off.
Five Came Back (2017) ……….. A documentary series proved the highlight of the month for yours truly. Utilizing original footage shot by John Ford, John Huston, William Wyler, George Stevens and Frank Capra interspersed with interviews of the directing legends, this is their story of how they came to be an integral part in capturing the battles of WW2 on film from the front lines, the skies and the ocean battles. Many of todays filmmakers take part in the series including Coppola and Spielberg who also served as a producer on this must see story of 5 men who are hailed as some of the greatest directors Hollywood has ever known and their time on the front lines and how it changed their lives upon returning to tinsel town. The films they directed upon their return are directly influenced by their experiences overseas including Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives. The fact that light comedy director George Stevens never again directed a comedy is very telling of how it changed not only him but everyone involved. Film buffs, history buffs, WW2 buffs, set the time aside to see this one.