Trailer Thursday 8/27

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on August 27, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

Sunday was Gene Kelly’s birthday, so this week’s trailer will be one of the first of his movies that I saw, Brigadoon.

No reason to set this up. Just watch and enjoy!

The Young Girls of Rochefort

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , on August 26, 2015 by Mystery Man

The Young Girls of Rochefort

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Young Girls of Rochefort takes place over the course of one weekend in the seaside town of Rochefort, where a fair is coming to the town square. The story centers on twin sisters Delphine (Deneuve) and Solange (Dorléac) — Delphine teaches ballet classes and Solange gives music lessons for a living, but each longs to find her ideal love and a life outside of Rochefort. When the fair comes to town, Delphine and Solange meet two smooth-talking but kind-hearted carnies, Étienne (George Chakiris) and Bill (Grover Dale).

The twins’ mother Yvonne (Danielle Darrieux) owns a café in the center of town, and pines for a fiancé she left impulsively ten years before due to his embarrassing last name of “Dame.” Yvonne’s café becomes a central hub for Étienne and Bill as well as most of the other characters in the film. In the café, Yvonne meets a sailor about to be demobbed from the navy, Maxence (Jacques Perrin). Maxence is a poet and painter, and is searching for his true feminine ideal. Little does Yvonne know, her former fiancé, Simon Dame (Michel Piccoli), has recently opened a music store in Rochefort. He knows his fiancée had twins from a previous relationship, but he never met them. Solange, an aspiring songwriter, enlists the help of Simon Dame (she is unaware of his relationship with her mother), who promises to introduce her to his successful American colleague Andy Miller (Gene Kelly). As Solange is on her way to pick up her younger brother BouBou from school, she happens to bump into a charming foreigner, who turns out to be Andy. However, the two do not exchange names.

Meanwhile, Delphine is unhappy in her relationship with the egotistical gallery owner Guillaume (Jacques Riberolles), so she ends the relationship. In the gallery, as she is about to leave, Delphine notices a painting that looks remarkably like her. The image was in fact painted by Maxence. Back in the square, the two female dancers in Étienne and Bill’s show run off with sailors, so they ask Delphine and Solange to perform, offering them a free ride to Paris in return. On the day of the fair, the paths of all of the characters cross again at the town square and in Yvonne’s café.

REVIEW:

A few days ago, it was Gene Kelly’s birthday. I was a little busy and didn’t realize what day it was, but made a vow to get one of his films in this week, which is how we have arrived at The Young Girls of Rochefort. Now, this is a lesser known foreign film, but I’m hoping it is still entertaining, nonetheless.

What is this about?

Living in the small town of Rochefort, France, twin sisters Delphine and Solange Garnier (Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac) yearn for the romance of Paris. But when a charming pair of song-and-dance men (George Chakiris and Grover Dale) comes to town, the sisters get more than they ever dreamed.

What did I like?

Charming. Women love to be charmed off their feet, or at least they did back in the day. These days if you look at a female wrong they are likely to have you arrested for sexual harassment or worse. The charm in the film comes from two dashing leads, Grover Dale and George Chakiris (Bernardo from West Side Story). These two carnies lay down their “game” not only on the titular twins, but also their mother and some other suspect females around Rochefort, but their eyes are firmly fixed on one prize. Two, technically.

Dance. I don’t think Gene Kelly was a choreographer on this picture but, given the fact that he’s in the film, one has to know that there is sure to be some impressive dancing. As it turns out the film is more of less bookended with dance scenes that are nothing short of impressive. There isn’t a huge ballet scene in this one, but that is more than ok. Too much of a good thing. What we are privy to is great dancing by some younger dancers who have no doubt grown up watching Kelly and now they get to do a dance scene with the master dancer and entertainer.

Sisters. Sometimes in casting, we’ll get characters that are meant to be related and look nothing alike. Other times, the casting is spot on. Catherine Deneuve and Françoise Dorléac were perfectly cast as sisters. Upon a quick research glance, it turns out they really are sisters. You can’t get much better casting than that, now can you? On top of the familial connection, these women carve out characters that are separate from each other and when on their own, provide an interesting story in their own right.

What didn’t I like?

Language. When I chose to watch this, I thought it was going to be along the lines of An American in Paris, where there are some people speaking French in passing, but the default language was English. That isn’t what I got, though, as this turned out to be a French film. As with most films in a different language, had I just known that I’d have been reading subtitles the whole time, it wouldn’t have felt like an unexpected chore. I hear that there is an English version of this lost somewhere, though. Clips are on YouTube. Maybe one day someone will restore it.

Give up your students. Late in the film, the twins are set to leave Rochefort, even though they have their own school/studio. When one of their students shows up, they just dismiss they saying classes are cancelled indefinitely. How is it that you can just give up you school like that? Do the students not matter? At least find someone to take over!

False advertising. Most anything you find for this film will feature Gene Kelly, which is great, except for the fact that this isn’t his movie. He’s in maybe 15 minutes of it. Granted, you can’t take your eyes off of him during those 15 minutes, because it is Gene Kelly and you know he’s going to blow you away with a dance move or a song featuring his warm vocals. I hate it when films use the star power of bit parts to bring in audiences. There are some old films getting re-released now that feature big names in early roles, so they may have a line or two and the studios will make sure they are front and center on the packaging. It is quite misleading to audiences!

Final verdict on The Girls of Rochefort? Aside from some misunderstandings about who was the star and what language this was in, I didn’t find this to be a half bad flick. The language barrier kept me from getting into the songs, but some of the tunes seemed to be catchy. I do have to bring up some weird aging involving Kelly and Chakiris. They seem to be younger than they are in bigger films years before this was released, especially Chakiris. That’s just an observation, though, and not something to bring the whole film down. So, do I recommend this? That is hard to say. I think it all depends on how you feel about reading subtitles the whole time, because that is the only way you’ll really know what is going on. If that doesn’t bother you, then check it out!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Bay of Blood

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on August 23, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At night in her bayside mansion, wheelchair-bound Countess Federica (Isa Miranda) is attacked and strangled to death by her husband Filippo Donati (Giovanni Nuvoletti). In turn, an assailant suddenly stabs him to death. Donati’s corpse is then dragged to the bay. The police find what they believe to be a suicide note written by the Countess. Donati’s murder goes undiscovered.

Real estate agent Frank Ventura (Chris Avram) and his lover Laura (Anna Maria Rosati) plot to take possession of the bay. They had arranged with Donati to murder his wife after she had refused to sell her house and property to them. To finalize their scheme, Ventura needs Donati’s signature on a set of legal documents. They have no idea that Donati has been killed.

Four teenagers break into Ventura’s cottage. Shy Bobby (Robert Bonnani) stays behind in the house while his date Brunhilda (Brigitte Skay) skinny-dips in the bay. Donati’s rotting corpse rises from the water and collides with the nude girl. Terrified, she rushes out of the water — but an unseen assailant hacks into her throat with a billhook, killing her. The killer then goes to the house and slams the billhook deep into Bobby’s face. Bobby and Brunhilda’s two companions, Duke (Guido Boccaccini) and Denise (Paola Rubens), find a bed upstairs and are in the throes of sexual passion when the murderer finds them; a long spear is thrust through them, bloodily killing both at the same time.

Simon (Claudio Volonté), the Countess’ illegitimate son, is the killer. He had earlier killed Donati and is now conspiring with Ventura. Offered a large amount of cash, Simon agrees to sign all the legal documents and turn the land over to Ventura. However, it turns out that the Countess had a daughter, Renata (Claudine Auger), who is resolute about the property becoming hers. A search for the Countess’ will proves unsuccessful, and Ventura, who believes Renata may be the rightful beneficiary, suggests that Simon finish her off.

Renata and her husband, Albert (Luigi Pistilli), arrive and go directly to the house of Paolo Fassati (Leopoldo Trieste), an entomologist who lives on Donati’s grounds. Anna (Laura Betti), Fassati’s wife, tells them that the Countess’ death was due to Donati, and says that Simon will probably end up with the property. Renata, who until that moment had no idea she had a half-brother, immediately makes plans with her husband to murder Simon, who at the same time is planning her demise.

Renata and Albert find Donati’s gruesomely mangled corpse on Simon’s boat, then go to Ventura’s house. Ventura suddenly attacks Renata and tries to kill her, but Renata manages to stab him instead with a butterfly knife. Fassati has witnessed everything, and when he starts to telephone the police, Albert strangles him to death. In order to ensure that there are no additional witnesses, Renata murders Anna by decapitating her with an hudson axe.

Laura arrives, hoping to meet up with Ventura. When Simon discovers that it was she and Ventura who had plotted with Donati to kill his mother, he slowly strangles Laura to death. Seconds later, Simon is murdered by Albert. The wounded Frank suddenly reappears but Albert kills him in a short struggle.

Albert and Renata know that since there are no other living heirs, the property is guaranteed to be theirs, and they go home to wait for the announcement of their inheritance. Their own children are at the front door waiting for them with a shotgun, and they shoot their parents to death (thinking they are playing dead). The young boy and girl gleefully jump over the corpses and rush outside to play.

REVIEW:

This afternoon, we venture into obscure horror territory with Bay of Blood. I wonder who out there has actually heard of this because, before a couple of weeks ago when I heard someone talking about it, I had no clue it even existed. Now that I’ve watched it, do I wish I could forget about its existence? Only one way to find out!

What is this about?

When a man murders his heiress wife, her relatives set out to narrow the field of inheritors by going on a killing spree.

What did I like?

Short and sweet. I’m no horror fan by any stretch of the imagination, so I wasn’t really that invested in this film from the onset. That being said, I am glad that it was short, sweet, and to the point, rather than dragging on for days a story that no one cares about. The fact is that this is a slasher flick and all people want to see is the death toll.

Violent murder. Speaking of the death toll, for a film made in the early 70s, the level of violence is astounding. I dare say that the deaths rival those of today’s so-called “torture porn” franchises like Saw, Hostel, and the like. Does that mean I felt this was too much? Hardly, when the murders happened, I was ever so glad! It was a shot in the arm that this film needed. These murders are one of the highlights of the picture, rest assured of that, dear readers.

What didn’t I like?

Cohesiveness. Perhaps one of the most common complaints I have in my reviews is how they lose me. Part of that is just my ADHD, but the majority is on these films that don’t do or say anything that is worthwhile. A story that captures the audience and keeps them glues to their seat is all I ask, especially with horror. It makes the scares much more effective. As you can guess, this film did not heed this warning and just flounders around with some kind of plot that I couldn’t tell you what happened if my life depended on it and the aforementioned murders. As bad as this is to say, the one time I really sat up was when Brigitte Skay’s character went skinny dipping.

Gun control. Allow me a minute to get on my soapbox. One of the hot button topics of the last year or two has been gun control, what with all the shootings and whatnot. Hell, on Friday at one of the area high schools, some kid took a gun to school because “he didn’t like the teacher’s face!” We’ve seen what happens when these guns don’t get detected. This brings me to the end of the film. Thinking they’re playing an innocent game, the kids shoot their parents with a shotgun and think they are playing dead. Do I really need to say what I think of this? The film makes it seem as if this was meant to end on a comic relief moment and at this point in history it may have worked as such. Looking at it through today’s eyes, though, it doesn’t work that way.

Slasher flick. It is my understanding that this is a precursor to the slasher flick that were such a big thing in the 80s and early 90s. Rumor has it that some footage was used in the original Friday the 13th. If this is all true, then more power to this film. For me, though, I didn’t really feel the same sense of fear that I do when I watch Jason stalk his prey or the sheer terror knowing that Freddy Kreuger is out there and could kill you in your dreams. These are just two reactions that I wasn’t expecting to have, but I was thinking there would be something that could be akin to it. Given that there isn’t a specific murderer behind the killings, it makes sense. I still would have liked to have had that sense of fear and dread that comes with watching a good slasher flick.

Final verdict on Bay of Blood? Well, it does live up to the title. That bay is sure to run red with the blood of everyone that dies in the film. Is that enough to warrant recommending this to someone? No, not by a longshot. As a matter of fact, I will say that this is a film that you are better off doing something.

2 out of 5 stars

 

John Wick

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 22, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

John Wick (Keanu Reeves), who has just lost his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan) to an undisclosed illness, receives a gift from her posthumously in the form of a Beagle puppy named Daisy, along with a letter from her saying she arranged for him to have Daisy to help him cope with her demise. Initially indifferent to Daisy, he eventually connects to the puppy as they spend the day driving around in his vintage ’69 Mustang. At a gas station, he encounters a trio of Russian gang members, whose leader Iosef (Alfie Allen) insists on buying his car. John refuses to sell and greets Iosef’s snide remark in Russian with a retort in the same language before leaving. The three follow John to his home, break in at night, and attack John, who is knocked unconscious just after seeing Daisy mortally wounded.

Iosef takes the Mustang to a chop shop run by Aurelio (John Leguizamo), a business associate, to have the VIN changed. However, when Iosef tells Aurelio how he acquired the car, Aurelio punches Iosef in the face and throws him out of his shop. John subsequently visits Aurelio, who tells him Iosef is the son of Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) – the head of the Russian crime syndicate in New York – and loans him a Chevelle SS to replace the Mustang. Viggo, after being advised by Aurelio what Iosef had done, beats and berates Iosef for his actions. He then explains to Iosef who John Wick is: his former best assassin, nicknamed Baba Yaga (“the Boogeyman”), who earned a release from Viggo’s employment (allowing John to get married) by killing all of Viggo’s competitors in a single day, giving Viggo control of his syndicate.

Viggo, wanting to protect his son, attempts to talk John out of seeking retribution; John silently refuses. Viggo then sends a twelve-man hit squad to John’s house to kill him; John kills all of them within minutes and pays an associate to dispose of the bodies. Viggo puts a $2 million bounty on John and personally offers the contract to Marcus (Willem Dafoe), a veteran assassin and John’s mentor, who accepts. John subsequently seeks refuge at the Continental, a hotel that exclusively caters to assassins, with a rule that no business can be conducted on premises. When Viggo learns of this, he doubles the bounty for those willing to break the rules to kill John there. John learns from Winston (Ian McShane), the owner of the Continental, that Viggo has Iosef protected at his nightclub, the Red Circle.

John enters the Red Circle, where he kills Iosef’s friend Victor and most of the security staff. Before he can kill Iosef, Viggo’s henchman Kirill waylays John. John escapes back to the Continental to have his wounds treated. Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki), an assassin and former acquaintance of John’s, attempts to sneak into John’s room at the Continental and kill him, but Marcus – who had been monitoring John’s room with a sniper rifle – awakens John by shooting the pillow next to his head. After a brutal hand-to-hand fight, John subdues Ms. Perkins and forces her to reveal the location of Viggo’s front. John leaves Ms. Perkins with Harry (Clarke Peters), a fellow assassin, to await her punishment for breaking the hotel rules. However, Ms. Perkins slips out of her restraints and kills Harry.

John travels to Little Russia, where he finds the church which serves as Viggo’s front, kills all the guards, and incinerates Viggo’s cache of money and blackmail material. When Viggo’s team arrives at the church, John ambushes them, but Kirill incapacitates John by striking him with a Chevrolet Tahoe. At a safe house, Viggo taunts John for thinking he could leave his old life behind. He leaves John to be tortured and killed by Kirill and another henchman, but Marcus kills the other henchman, allowing John to break free and kill Kirill. John intercepts Viggo’s car and forces him to reveal Iosef’s location and also pull the bounty, which Viggo reluctantly does. John travels to the safe house where Iosef is hiding and kills all of the guards before killing Iosef.

Ms. Perkins sees that John and Marcus have been in contact and tells Viggo, who has Marcus tortured and killed in his home over his betrayal. Viggo contacts John and informs him of Marcus’ death, hoping to lure John to Marcus’ home, where Ms. Perkins is waiting to ambush him. However, Ms. Perkins is called to a secret meeting with Winston, who revokes her membership to the Continental for breaking the rules and has her swiftly executed in a crossfire by four assassins. Winston calls John to inform him of a helicopter coming to the harbor to transport Viggo away.

John races to the harbor and executes Viggo’s remaining henchmen before engaging Viggo in a fistfight on the dock. Viggo pulls a knife on John and as they fight, John forces it into his already wounded abdomen, startling Viggo. John then breaks Viggo’s arm, takes Viggo’s knife, and stabs him on the side of the neck. John leaves Viggo to die. John, wounded but still able-bodied, stops at a waterfront animal clinic where he treats his wound. He then rescues a pitbull puppy from one of the cages and is last seen walking away on the boardwalk where he had his last date with Helen.

REVIEW:

I find it rather comical that on the weekend Hitman: Agent 47 is released, I opt to stay home and watch an assassin/hitman film that came out last year, John Wick. Time will tell on whether I made the right decision, but from what I’ve been hearing, it wouldn’t take much.

What is this about?

When a retired hit man is forced back into action by a sadistic young thug, he hunts down his adversaries with the skill and ruthlessness that made him an underworld legend.  A masterful tale of adrenaline-fueled revenge and redemption.

What did I like?

Whoa! Who would have thought Ted “Theodore” Logan would become such a hardened assassin? One advertisement for this flick said that it was “Keanu Reeves’ best performance since The Matrix.” I wish I could argue against that, but let’s face it, Reeves hasn’t exactly been hitting it out of the ballpark the last 15 or so years since we became accustomed to him as Neo. This is a role that allows him to kick ass, take names, show some emotional depth, and be the strong silent type. The kind of role he was made for!

Action. Once we get past the introduction of characters and the plot, the action starts and doesn’t let up! I was expecting this to be one of those films that is all talk and no bite, but it was just the opposite. Violent kills, beautiful choreography, exciting car chases, and even a good old-fashioned slugfest! Man, if you’re into action this will surely satisfy your craving.

Brotherhood. There is an old saying about there being honor amongst thieves. It would appear that there is a code, if you will, for assassins. One might even go so far as to say that it is a…creed (see what I did there?) For someone who is such a loner, as Wick appears to be, it was nice to see that he has friends in the profession that have his back. I wonder, though, how many of them would just as soon shoot him in said back as help him?

What didn’t I like?

Dog days. It is funny to me how people in this country get so worked up over dogs. Michael Vick lost years from his career because he was fighting dogs, yet murders, rapists, and serial women beaters are in the NFL with a slap on the wrist. Why do I bring this up? Well, in a way, the death of the dog is what sets Reeves off on this killing spree, coupled with the death of his wife, and he loses it, killing just about everything in sight on a quest for revenge. All this over a dog, a stupid, good for nothing dog! *SIGH* Now, had this been a cat, I could relate.

Alfie. Have you ever heard the name Alfie Allen? Well, he is the brother of British singer Lily Allen (her song “Alfie” is about him), but his claim to fame is as Theon Greyjoy on Game of Thrones. As sniveling and despicable as Greyjoy is, this character, Iosef Tarasov, is just as bad or worse. One must wonder if Allen is being typecast in these roles now, or if genuinely fell in love with this character. Either way, I feel this character could have hade more independent and not such a daddy’s boy.

Russians. I remember watching a review for this when it came out and someone mentioned the Russians and pondered what must they think when they see themselves as the villain in so many American movies. Back in the day and in period films such as the recent The Man from U.N.C.L.E. are one thing, but this is set in modern day. Last I checked, while things aren’t exactly the best between our two countries, they aren’t the enemy. Can we stop using Russians as villains, especially when they aren’t even convincingly Russian!

In conclusion, John Wick is one of the best action flicks I’ve seen in quite some time. Not only does it deliver a compelling story with some great action, but it is grounded in reality, something that today’s audiences seem to want, as opposed to the insane, anything can happen action that I prefer. There are very few complaints that I have about this film, which is rare, so I’m just going to end this by saying this is a must see before you die flick!

5 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 8/20

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on August 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

This week’s trailer is for a movie that used to be on television every chance they had to show it.

While not the best Rodney Dangerfield project, Ladybugs did provide audiences with a few laughs. Check out the trailer and see what you think.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Posted in Animation, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 15, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In 1963 East Berlin, Napoleon Solo tracks down Gabby Teller, a woman working in an auto shop. Solo tells her that he is with the American government and knows that Gabby’s father is a Nazi scientist who had worked for the U.S. government but went missing. He needs Gabby to set up a meeting with her uncle, Rudi, to find her father. They leave and are quickly chased by Illya Kuryakin, a top KGB agent who impresses Solo by his dogged pursuit and nearly stopping their car by hand. In the end, Solo manages to whisk Gabby over the Berlin Wall into West Berlin, with Illya left behind.

The following day, Solo meets his handler, Sanders, in a park’s men’s room where Kuryakin is waiting. The two fight it out before Sanders and his KGB counterpart Oleg stop them to announce the two are now partners. It appears that Rudi works for an Italian shipping company owned by Alexander and Victoria Vinciguerra, the latter the true brains of the operation, whose father was suspected of smuggling Nazi gold out of Europe to Argentina after WWII ended. The two are planning to use Gabby’s father to create their own private nuclear weapon. The KGB and CIA insist the two agents work together although each man is under private orders to steal the important computer data for their respective governments. In a private talk, the two men detail what they know of each other. Solo was a former U.S. soldier who turned to art theft, stealing and selling antiques and artwork across Europe. Finally captured, the CIA felt he was too valuable to waste in prison and offered him to work off his sentence for them. Kuryakin’s father was a former high-ranking aide for Stalin but convicted of embezzling funds and sent to Siberia, with Illya prone to streaks of violent behavior because of that.

Gabby is not happy to learn that her cover is to introduce Kuryakin as her architect fiancé but Solo insists they go on. In Rome, Kuryakin is tested by a pair of goons who steal his father’s watch and he forces himself not to fight them. Solo hooks up with the hotel desk clerk while Gabby tempts Kuryakin with drinking, dancing and some wrestling but passes out before they can go any further. The next morning, both men confront one other with how each had planted listening devices in the other’s room. At a race track party, Solo steals an invitation off of a man called Waverly and impresses Victoria with his skills as a thief by stealing her own jewelry. He offers her help in “filling the gaps” in her art collection. Kuryakin is offended by Rudi putting down Russians and takes out his anger by beating up a trio of men in a bathroom. Gabby flirts with Alexander before the group leaves. Checking secret photos he took, Kuryakin finds evidence Victoria and Alexander were by radiation and theorizes the bomb must be close.

That night, both men find each other breaking into the shipping yard and reluctantly work together. They discover a safe which Solo opens but the uranium is already gone. They are chased by guards into the nearby bay, Kuryakin leading the enemy boat while Solo ends up on shore to have a quiet dinner in a truck. He then drives the truck to crush the enemy boat and helps save Illya. Hearing of the break-in, Victoria goes to the hotel but Solo manages to return to his room before she does, and seduces her into sex. The next day, Solo meets with Victoria as Gabby meets with Rudi and Alexander at their mansion with Kuryakin following. He overhears Gabby tell the two men of the real mission and barely escapes. Alerted, Victoria drugs Solo and he wakes up in a private room with Rudi who turns out to be an infamous Nazi torturer. Rudi uses an electric chair to torture Solo but Kuryakin arrives to rescue him. Tied to the chair, Rudi tells them the bomb is being kept at an island fortress. The two men argue over what to do with Rudi but a short-circuit causes the chair to electrocute the Nazi so badly that he bursts into flames. At the island, Gabby meets her father and they attempt to sabotage the bomb but are caught by Victoria. Victoria forces Gabby’s father to complete the bomb, hand over both copies of the data, and then kills him.

Solo and Kuryakin meet with Waverly, who turns out to be a British agent, revealing that Gabby has been working for British intelligence for two years and the CIA and KGB nearly ruined the operation to find her father. The two men lead an attack on the island as Alexander drives the bomb and Gabby away on a jeep. Solo follows in a dune buggy while Kuryakin chases on a motorcycle, both men managing to crash the jeep. Alexander nearly kills Solo but is stabbed to death by Kuryakin. It turns out the missile is not the nuclear one and they worry Victoria will get away. However, Solo figures out she is using her father’s old fishing boat to smuggle the nuke to a sub where her Nazi allies are waiting. Solo tricks Victoria into issuing threats to him and uses the radio signal to have the missile they possess to be fired from an aircraft carrier and destroy the boat.

In Rome, Kuryakin reluctantly says goodbye to Gabby. He hears from Oleg on how Solo still has a copy of the data disc and, enraged, goes to kill Solo and get it. Solo responds by throwing back Kuryakin’s watch, which he took off a guard at the island. The two men decide to destroy the disc rather than let either of their countries get a major advantage. Waverly and Gabby find them as they were about to leave, informing them that they are now working for him and his new organization: U.N.C.L.E

REVIEW:

What better way to end the summer movie season than with an action filled spy comedy? Ok, there are other alternatives. One could go see that abomination that masquerades itself as the Fantastic Four, but I hear it isn’t that good. I chose to have fun at the movies and check out The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Having never seen the original TV show, I have nothing to compare it to, so no bias here.

What is this about?

Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s period of the Cold War, the film centers on U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin. The two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization led by Victoria Vinciguerra, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The duo’s only lead is Gaby Teller, the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time utilizing her connections and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

What did I like?

Swinging 60s. I’ve come to realize that I am a sucker for period pieces. Well, period pieces set in eras that I actually care about. When I heard they were making this, the first thing that popped in my head was the fear it would be set in modern times which, obviously, would have been a big mistake. The film takes joy in its 60s setting, capitalizing on the clothes, cars, and music available at the time, as well as the, shall we say, simplistic technology of the time. All of this comes together in glorious package that I doubt would have worked so well in today’s world.

Heroic team up. Superman and the Lone Ranger fighting crime together. Doesn’t that sound like it would be awesome? I’m sure someone somewhere has thought of it, especially since I think those shows were on around the same time. We may not get the epic team up on screen, but we do get the actors together and, surprisingly, they have some great chemistry. Henry Cavill’s Napoleon Solo is, for all intents and purposes, a poor man’s James Bond. I feel Cavill watched a lot of John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and maybe a bit of Adam West for this character. Why? Well, he has this way of speaking which is unnatural for modern ears, but if you listen to people talk from this era, it fits. Some may not like it, but they can get over it. Armie Hammer appears to have bulked up some since we last saw him on screen. Taking a Russian accent and basically being a super soldier he seems to be the emotional one of the team, whether it is his connection to his father’s watch, falling for the girl, or just controlling his temper. These are two guys that have that dapper 60s look naturally, which is probably why they were cast. The fact that they have such great chemistry is a bonus that we all can savor as we sit back and enjoy the ride.

No point. I think it was about half way through the film when I realized that there hadn’t been any references to anything in the 60s. What makes me bring that up? Well, usually in films based on TV shows, especially the ones set in a different era, they go out of their way to point out something that relates to that period. I don’t think that is done once in the picture and I, for one, am so glad for it. It is obvious this is the 60s, no need to bring everything to a halt just to bring up Woodstock, the Kennedy assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr., the Moon landing, etc.

What didn’t I like?

Plot. This is not a film that is meant to make you use your brain, let’s get that straight. It is, however, a film that could have used a couple of twists and turns. As it is the plot, two spies on opposites sides team up to stop a nuclear bomb, is very predictable. The one swerve turned out to be a non-swerve, and every time it seemed like something happened to spice things up, we would get a flashback that showed parts of the scene we didn’t see. Guy Ritchie is well-known for his stylistic vision, but once again, his writing flaws are the downfall.

Big dudes. Have you ever seen a big, athletic guy from the 60s? They really aren’t that big, honestly. Why do I bring this up? Well, looking at Hammer and Cavill, and spurred on by a comment in a review I listened to earlier this week, I noticed they are rather big for the time. Now, Cavill, obviously gets some slack because he’s Superman. I think this might have been right after or before filming for Batman vs. Superman, so his physique couldn’t change too much. Hammer, doesn’t have that luxury. I’m still trying to figure out why he suddenly looked so buff. He needed to look like the guys on Mad Men (probably the best example today of what the 60s were like), specifically Jon Hamm. He’s a somewhat bigger guy, but not huge.

Villainess. I wasn’t sold on Elizabeth Debicki as the villain. To me, she came off as a pissed off Paris Hilton. It wasn’t until Cavill told her that he had killed her husband that she seemed to be the villain this film deserves, but by then it was too late. Maybe if she would have had some motivation, the audience could buy into her. As it is, she’s just the token antagonist.

I feel like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is going to be forgotten quickly. Not because it is bad, but because it was released at a bad time. The theater I was in had maybe 10 people in it, and most of them straggled in late. Everyone seemed to be going to see Straight Outta Compton. The fact that this was only playing on 2 screens compared to the 8 for the other one is quite telling, as well. Still, this is a quality, enjoyable film that will probably (hopefully) go on to a long life on DVD/Blu-ray. Maybe it will become a cult classic. The music, action, style, look, everything makes this a film that cannot be missed. I highly recommend it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 8/13

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on August 13, 2015 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

More importantly, it’s my birthday!!!

The tradition around here was to watch an Amanda Bynes movie, but I quickly ran out of those.

Last week was Louis Armstrong’s birthday and I totally forgot to acknowledge it, as he is one of the biggest influences on me from the day I first heard him play a few notes.

This week, I’m going into the obscure files to share the trailer for Paris Blues with you. I’m not one for sappy romance and all that, but this looks to at least have some great music (by the great Duke Ellington!!!) and a cast that isn’t too shabby, either. If I can ever find it, I’ll review it!

Let me know what you think of the trailer!

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