Archive for michael gambon

The Beast Must Die

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this little horror film, a wealthy sportsman (Calvin Lockhart) invites a house full of guests to a big-game hunt that he’s devised. He’s sure that one of the guests is a werewolf, and he intends to stalk it, find it, and kill it. As a film viewer, you are alerted at the outset that a mystery awaits and that clues will be unveiled that can point to the identity of the werewolf. In fact, near the conclusion, the film has inserted a 30-second interlude during which you must decide, once and for all, who the hunted beast is. This film is based upon a story by James Blish titled There Shall Be No Darkness.

What people are saying:

“The non-anthology output of Amicus Productions tended to be hit-and-miss, but The Beast Must Die is an interesting if lightweight horror-mystery hybrid from the studio.” 3 stars

“The Beast Must Die is worth a look, as long as you enjoy unintentionally campy kitsch from the swinging 70s and werewolf myths.” 3 stars

“Unbelievably nonsensical, this film has two things (only two) going for it: a cast that’s game, and the “Werewolf Break,” an absurd concept that is, somehow, kind of cool.” 2 stars

“this film is just fantastic. it’s about five genres within one – a blaxploitation, an exploitation, a lowbudget, made for television-looking, british, mystery, werewolf movie. that itself is quite the feat. and on top of it all, it has a werewolf break. perhaps the most genius idea in the history of cinema, they tell you at the beginning that, right before the end of the film, they will pause everything so that you, the audience, can spend thirty seconds finalizing your guess as to who the werewolf is. this is pure camp fun. watch this with friends and you are guaranteed a great time.” 4 1/2 stars

“Undemanding and completely silly fun where the audience is asked towards the end to guess the identity of the werewolf. A hopeless lead with an equally hopeless gun aim is determined to find out which of his guests are a furry killer. Dig that score too, no atmospheric chills here, the emphasis is on funky percussion! Big dumb fun.” 2 1/2 stars

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The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

English gangster Albert Spica has taken over the high-class Le Hollandais Restaurant, run by French chef Richard Boarst. Spica makes nightly appearances at the restaurant with his retinue of thugs. His oafish behavior causes frequent confrontations with the staff and his own customers, whose patronage he loses, but whose money he seems not to miss.

Forced to accompany Spica is his reluctant, well-bred wife, Georgina, who soon catches the eye of a quiet regular at the restaurant, bookshop owner Michael. Under her husband’s nose, Georgina carries on an affair with Michael with the help of the restaurant staff. Ultimately Spica learns of the affair, forcing Georgina to hide out at Michael’s book depository. Boarst sends food to Georgina through his young employee Pup, a boy soprano who sings while working. Spica tortures the boy before finding the bookstore’s location written in a book the boy is carrying. Spica’s men storm Michael’s bookshop while Georgina is visiting the boy in hospital. They torture Michael to death by force-feeding him pages from his books. Georgina discovers his body when she returns.

Overcome with rage and grief, she begs Boarst to cook Michael’s body, and he eventually complies. Together with all the people that Spica wronged throughout the film, Georgina confronts her husband finally at the restaurant and forces him to eat a mouthful of Michael’s cooked body. Spica obeys, gagging, before Georgina shoots him in the head.

REVIEW:

Young Helen Mirren is a goddess, and there wasn’t much of a drop off as she has aged like a fine wine. The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover is one of the showcases of what she was capable of at a young age, not to mention giving us a film that we just don’t these days in this politically correct society.

What is this about?

Tired of her barbaric husband, the wife of a crime boss engages in a secret romance with a bookish patron between meals at her husband’s restaurant.

What did I like?

Barbaric. In today’s world, when a film comes out that has anything remotely violent, there is always some sort of group just ready to pounce. I can only imagine the field day they would have with this one where Michael Gambon’s character physically and verbally abuses everyone he comes into contact with, especially Helen Mirren’s character, whom he makes sure everyone knows she is his property. Hard to believe that some 40 or so years later he’ll become kindly old wizard, Dumbledore.

Helen. Dame Helen Mirren is not only a vision of loveliness, as always, but she strips down, showing her natural (and quite impressive) curves a few times as she has some fun with “her lover”. More importantly, though, is the fact that for most of the film she says little to nothing, but when it is time for her to speak, well, she isn’t one of the greats for no reason, I’ll put it that way. Her final soliloquy, for lack of a better term, is quite moving and sets up what she has to do quite nicely.

Beautiful. While the lighting is quite dark, I couldn’t help but notice how beautifully shot this film was. Everything from the costumes, to the food, dishes, etc. Obviously, this is more of an “artsy-fartsy” type of film, and the setting and scenery reflect that, but man alive is it beautiful.

What didn’t I like?

Sadist. Maybe I’m just so used to Gambon playing nice, “grandfather” type characters, but this thief guy he played was a real piece of work. Not only did he boss everyone around without remorse, but he took pleasure in torturing and killing his victims, as well as slapping around Helen Mirren’s character. For film purposes, he worked, but on a personal level, I despise and detest him.

Food. It would appear that this is a formal restaurant which serves haute-cuisine. Thing about that, though, is that for all we know they could have been serving gruel or dirty bath water. I’m not saying this needed to have the same kind of food budget or cinematography as Chef, but it would have been nice to see some of the actual food, even if was being messed up by certain acts going on in the back of the kitchen by Mirren and “her lover.”

Full frontal. This is going to sound very hypocritical of me, especially after praising Helen Mirren’s nude form, but I was not a fan of full frontal scenes that involved Alan Howard’s character. Kudos to the guy for having the bravery to film those scenes, of course, but I just wasn’t a fan. Maybe it is just me not wanting to see a naked guy, as opposed to a naked woman, though.

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, & Her Lover is one of those films that feels like it should be something more than it is. What I mean by that is this could very well have been done as a play on a stage for much less money, so why not do it that way, rather than subject us to 2 hours that cannot be recovered. I did not receive any enjoyment from this film. As a matter of fact, there were times when I was downright uncomfortable. As such, I do not recommend this, but I will say that this isn’t a bad picture. It just wasn’t for me.

3 out of 5 stars

Paddington

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the deep jungles of darkest Peru, an explorer named Montgomery Clyde locates a family of semi intelligent bears, who he realises can learn English and have a deep appetite for marmalade. He tells them they are always welcome should they wish to go to Britain. The bears, Lucy and Pastuzo, live in harmony with their nephew. One day, an earthquake strikes their home, forcing them to seek shelter underground. Pastuzo is unable to reach the shelter and disappears (Paddington retrieves his hat), and Lucy encourages her nephew to go and find solace in London while she moves into a retirement home for old bears.

The young bear reaches London but fails to find a home, until he is taken in briefly by the Brown family, who name him Paddington. Henry Brown is adamant that Paddington stay only one night while they find a place for him to live permanently. Paddington causes a series of accidents across the house which lead the family to further ostracise him. Paddington believes he can find a home with the explorer who found them, Montgomery Clyde. The Browns find out that Paddington’s hat, given to him by Pastuzo, is in fact Clyde’s hat and valuable artifact, and thus they take it to an antique store to locate Clyde.

Meanwhile, a sadistic museum taxidermist Millicent captures and stuffs exotic animals to house in the Natural History Museum. When she becomes aware of Paddington, she immediately tries to hunt him down. With the help of Mr. Brown, Paddington locates archives that reveal a series of names that match “M Clyde”, and they use phone books to track the addresses of each one. While Paddington remains home alone, Millicent, scheming with the Browns’ neighbour Reginald Curry, sneaks in and tries to capture Paddington; he inadvertently repels her, but also sets part of the house on fire. The Browns disbelieve his story of Millicent’s attempt to capture him and assume that he must move into a new home as soon as possible.

Paddington, feeling unwanted at the Browns, leaves and tries to locate Montgomery Clyde himself. When he finally locates the house, he finds out Clyde died many years ago, and that Millicent is actually his daughter – who was bitter towards her father for failing to capture a specimen of the bears he claimed to have found, an act which also granted him disdain from the museum itself. She manages to tranquillise Paddington and prepare him for stuffing, but Mr. Curry betrays her when discovering her true intentions and informs the Brown family of the events. They immediately rush to save Paddington, who is detained in the museum. They manage to rescue him, and Paddington subdues Millicent by throwing a marmalade sandwich at her, which attracts a huge flock of pigeons.

In the end, the Browns adopt Paddington into their family and Millicent is sentenced to community service at an animal shelter. Paddington writes to Aunt Lucy saying he is happy and has found a home at last.

REVIEW:

I believe it was the summer before 5th, 6th, or 7th grade that I happened across Paddington on PBS (episodes are on YouTube, if you’re curious) during my random flipping amongst the 3 or 4 channels we had. After a couple of episodes I was hooked but wouldn’t you know it that right when I got into the groove of watching it every day, it suddenly disappeared and that was the last I heard of Paddington until I saw the first trailer for Paddington. Initially, I was furious that they had made this film, considering what studios have done with other beloved characters from yesteryear, but something tells me this one is going to be different.

What is this about?

This family tale chronicles the adventures of Paddington Bear, who’s rescued at a train station and taken home by a young boy. Paddington adapts quickly to city life, but there’s an evil taxidermist in town with her eye on the lovable bruin.

What did I like?

He’s a bear. For those that haven’t figured it out yet, Paddington is a bear. What this film does with that bit of information is something that others in this sub-genre, I guess you would call it, have failed to do, and that it they made him an animal, just one that talks. What I mean by that is he has all his bear instincts and such, having been raised in the wilds of darkest Peru, but he can talk, quite well for that matter. So, when you bring a well-mannered, talking bear from the wild into your home, some things are going to be odd to him, as it will be his first time seeing them. Kudos to the film for showing that sense of first time wonder, as opposed to something like Alvin & the Chipmunks which has us belive that they have been listening to the radio their whole lives and can automatically sing, are just accepted into high school, despite their stature, and doesn’t even bother to explain how they can talk!

Sweet ‘n low. You know how in many family films these days there is a mean, sarcastic tone that seems to be a reflection of how kids today act towards everyone? Well, this picture thankfully did not fall into that trap. As a matter of fact, this morning I watched a couple of episodes of Leave it to Beaver and the tones are very similar in that the main characters just want to be liked and do the right thing, as well as show respect to others. There are other factors that make this a very sweet film, but that is what stuck out to me.

True. As I said earlier, my knowledge of Paddington stems from little 5 minute segment that would air on PBS. I think we may have read a story or two in elementary somewhere, but there were so many characters that we read about a bear that lives on marmalade sounded a bit too much like one that lives off of honey. At any rate, as far as I can tell, this film keeps to the source material very closely, making changes when needed to fit modern-day. At least I think its modern-day. It never really is said, but the computers look to be a bit outdated, so maybe this is in the 90s somewhere? Why can’t more films take this hint and keep things close to the source material, rather than go off on some random tangent that ruins things for the audience and, in turn, the studios.

What didn’t I like?

Over to the dark side. The fun and bright nature of this is brought down by a villain who, at first reminds us of Cruella de Ville, in some respects. Nicole Kidman shows she can do comedy and not just dramatic roles. However, when the film reveals her backstory, it takes a dark turn that I don’t think was really necessary. Perhaps it is just the whole taxidermy thing that wasn’t sitting right with me. Why couldn’t she have been a zookeeper, scientist, or bear skin rug enthusiast?

Strict. Are all British fathers such stern taskmasters? I mean, the father in this film, played by Hugh Bonneville, is nothing more than someone who plays by the strictest of rules, doesn’t take any chances, but was at one time a free spirit. Kids change a man, I suppose. I seem to recall the father in the book/TV show being a bit more lenient when it came to these things, though. Perhaps I am mistaken, though, or perhaps they changed the characterization of Mr. Brown for “entertainment purposes”.

British actors. When the Harry Potter films started, I remember J.K. Rowling specifically making a point that she wanted “only Bristish actors”. That was her preference, and I think it actually worked out for the better. Can’t you just imagine if us Americans were thrown in the mix? Well, ever since those films have ended, you may have noticed that whenever you run across something British, it has the same few actors (Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Rupert Grint, etc.). Starring roles are reserved for the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, and ironically, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. This isn’t really a complaint, but Michael Gambon and Imelda Staunton are reunited as the voices of Paddington’s aunt and uncle and when you see their names in the credits, you think there is some curse on the Potter cast or these two have amazing chemistry.

Paddington was originally supposed to have been released around the holidays, but there had to be some re-shoots and Colin Firth’s voice was found unsuitable for Paddington, so they replaced him with Ben Whishaw. Personally, I think Firth’s voice would have worked just fine, but he could also have worked as Mr. Brown. I’m not a fan of changing voices like that, especially after the trailer has been released, but what can you do. Remember on Thursday when I said nothing good is released in the month of January? Well, this film is one of the exceptions to that rule. With its comedy, heart, great use of CG, and faithfulness and respect to the source material, it is sure to be a tasty marmalade treat for years to come. Gather up the family and go check this out ASAP! I very highly recommend it!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Quartet

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The plot takes place in Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musicians, patterned after the real-life Casa di Riposo per Musicisti founded by Giuseppe Verdi.

Reg, Wilf and Cissy are retired former opera singers who often worked together in the past; among other guests in the house are Cedric Livingstone, a former director, and Diva Anne Langley. All the guests in the retirement home continue to be engaged in their former profession in one way or the other, which gives place to lots of amusing times in the home, but also some rivalries amongst the musicians.

Finances threaten closure of the home but proceeds from a yearly gala concert on Verdi’s birthday hold hope for a continuation of the place. However Cedric has been rather desperate due to the fact that some of the most prominent singers have either died or decided not to participate at all. Amongst the former collaborations between Reg, Wilf and Cissy, there is a particularly popular recording of Rigoletto, which is very prominent amongst opera buffs as THE Rigoletto of the after-war era.

Most of the guests in the home also teach young visitors in their different fields, by giving violin, piano or clarinet lessons, in Reg’s case it is lessons about opera. At the suggestion of Wilf, Reg compares opera to rap music, in order to make it more accessible to his students to amazing results, since whereas in opera the performers sing about their impending death, rappers talk about it in rhyme.

News buzzes around that a new guest will be arriving that very day. The new guest turns out to be none other than Jean Horton, the missing soprano of the Rigoletto recording and Reg’s former wife, who ended their relationship on very sour terms. Reg is furious at the arrival of Jean, because he had specifically requested that all new guests should be sanctioned by him, particularly Jean, whom he would have never admitted into the home.

Jean tries at first unfruitfully to mend things with Reg and in the ensuing conversations her infidelity arises as well as her past marriages but Reg comes to understand that all that is past. In the meantime, Wilf and Cissy convince Cedric that reuniting the Rigoletto quartet for the Verdi Gala shall bring all the necessary income to save the home. Enchanted with the idea they convince Reg first to yield his objections to perform with Jean again, however she is a different case, she has given up singing a long time ago and has decided never to utter a note again, because her career ended in rather uneasy terms because of the critiques.

Cissy takes the CD of their old recording to Jean to hear and inspire her to sing again, but Jean becomes violent and attacks Cissy, which only aggravates her already delicate senile condition. After recovery, Jean apologises and is finally convinced to sing in the quartet from Rigoletto, “Bella figlia dell’amore”, after learning that Anne Langley shall be singing “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca, to which she answers “over my dead body”. The group prepares for their performance and moments before their curtain call, Cissy is about to walk out the door, saying that she has to go back to her family (who are all already dead), but Jean manages to salvage the situation. During her conversation with Cissy, Jean comes to regret all the misdeeds she did to Reg and admits that she is still in love with him, which is overheard by Reg.

Just as the recital is about to start, the director of the home is amazed at the energy displayed by the guests of the home, for whom the idea to rehearse and play before an audience, brings life back to them, leading her to the conclusion that old age and art go together. As they are about to enter the stage, Reg asks Jean to marry him again.

REVIEW:

Man, when I get old and senile and need to be put into a retirement home, please let it be like the one in Quartet, instead of the ones we see and hear horror stories about. Hmmm…I wonder why no one has made a horror movies based on a retirement home, yet? Anyway, let me warn you now, if you’re not a fan of opera, or at least can stand it, you’d probably be best avoiding this film.

What is this about? A trio of retired opera singers’ annual celebration of Verdi’s birthday sours when their estranged fourth member shows up but refuses to sing. Tensions rise and diva drama erupts — will personal problems prevent the show from going on?

What did I like?

Dirty old man. Let me guess, you were expecting to see a bunch of old fogeys sitting around playing canasta and listening to some ancient radio playing a USO show from when they were young, right? Well, that isn’t the case…sort of. There are some sitting around listening to the radio, but remember this is apparently a retirement home for musicians, so they’re listening to themselves or practicing. Still, all that could end up being rather boring. Enter Billy Connolly as a dirty old man. His character brings in some much-needed comic relief and brightens up what could very well be a rather dull film. Is it wrong that every time I see this guy, I get him confused with John Cleese, even though they don’t really look alike?

Friendship. Even after years apart, it warmed my heart to see these performers reunite and rekindle their friendships, even after some time and harsh words. Good friends are hard to find, especially the kind that would be willing to still perform with you some 30 or so years later. I wonder if anyone I’ve played will want to do a gig in about 30 yrs.

Discussion. Fairly early on, there is a discussion about opera and rap. Now, as we all know, no one listens to opera, anymore. That is also touched on. Apparently, the rich people got their hands on it and made it into something it isn’t, which is something that I never studied in my music history classes, but will look into at some future point. As far as the rap and opera discussion, it is best left to be seen. Let’s just say it makes total sense and no way in a million years would anyone have though to compare the two, and yet this film does so. I’m sure there’s a clip on Youtube somewhere.

What didn’t I like?

Hybrid. I love Maggie Smith. I think she is a great talent, but I felt she could have done something more with this character, rather than just have been an amalgamation of her roles on Downton Abbey and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, just without the blatant racist overtones. I’m not saying this was a bad character, but there comes a point where and actor starts to be typecast based on the roles they play, and it looks like Maggie Smith is nearing that time, but hey, at least we got to hear Professor McGonagall say “fuck”!

Senile. I commend this film for not going overboard with any kind of age-related “humor”, however, I think they held it back just a wee bit more than they should have. I could totally have seen Billy Connolly’s character having a field day with insults, jabs, and other lewd comments regarding the age and condition of some of is fellow housemates. I felt gipped that we didn’t get that, though.

Music. The final scene has the big build up and the audience is expecting an epic operatic quartet to be sung. It is the title, after all. We don’t get that, though. The credits start rolling first. Before you go crazy about that, remember that none of these leads are singers. Would you really want them to sing butcher this music? I know that I wouldn’t. If they weren’t going to have them sing, they should have come up with something more than just going to the credits.

On the surface, Quartet, a film about aging opera singers in a retirement home, would be a run-of-the mill boring drama. Instead, it turns out to be a fairly light-hearted dramedy that is quite the cute little picture. As I stated in the opening, if you’re not an opera fan, you’re probably not going to fully appreciate this, but I still highly recommend it, so check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

Ali G Indahouse

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ali G is the leader of Da West Staines Massiv, a fictional gang composed of a group of wannabe gangsters from Staines (a suburban town in north Surrey, to the west of London); their chief rivals are Da East Staines Massiv. Ali and Da West Staines Massiv are heartbroken to learn that their beloved local leisure centre (where they like to chill out and also where Ali teaches his “Keep it Real” classes) will be demolished by the local council. Ali and his friends decide to protest this injustice. After he goes on a hunger strike and is spotted chained to some railings by the nefarious Chancellor of the Exchequer/Deputy Prime Minister David Carlton (Charles Dance), he is drawn into a world of seedy political intrigue, as the Deputy Prime Minister tries to use Ali as a tool to destroy the Prime Minister’s credibility. Ali is put forward as a candidate to be the next MP for Staines in a crucial by-election and manages to alienate most who cross his path, including feminists and the elderly. During a debate with his rival candidate, Ali tries to insult his rival by claiming that he “sucked off a horse”. Unknown to Ali and the public, it turns out that the rival did indeed do such a thing, and trying to explain it away, he claims when he was out hunting with a friend he slipped, and his mouth landed on a horse’s penis, which due to the mating season was erect. Ali then wins.

Although originally seeming out of his depth as a Member of Parliament, Ali’s bizarre behaviour and solutions seem to actually work. He visits a Customs checkpoint in Dover, as a delegate compiling a report (though all he does is steal confiscated pornography and drugs). Through ideas such as making more “relatable” education and selectively ensuring the immigration of attractive (or “fit”) women into the UK, Ali becomes incredibly popular, meeting the Prime Minister’s intentions and bringing his percentage lead in the polls up twenty two percent. With this the Prime Minister offers to save Ali’s leisure centre. First though, Ali accompanies the Prime Minister to a United Nations peace conference to avert war between the central African states of Chad and Burkina Faso. The USA and Russia back opposite countries and both threaten nuclear attacks. It gets to the point where World War III is almost declared when Ali sneaks into the catering area and puts an entire bag of marijuana, which he had stolen from Customs earlier, into the delegates’ tea and orders that they be served it right away. He throws the empty bag into a nearby rubbish bin. A side-effect is that the two opposing African presidents become allies (in fact they begin to kiss lovingly). The Prime Minister says that Ali has saved the world. However, Carlton’s secretary Kate Hedges figures out what Ali has done and retrieves the empty marijuana bag (which has “Ali’s stash. DO NOT NICK” written on the back), which she mails to the press. Upon his return to the UK, Ali is forced to leave parliament.

Before the Leisure Centre can be saved, a video emerges of Ali and his girlfriend having sex in the Prime Minister’s bedroom at Chequers. As Ali was wearing items of the Prime Minister’s clothing at the time, the media believe the video details the Prime Minister with a prostitute, forcing his resignation. This results in Deputy Prime Minister David Carlton being made Prime Minister. Carlton, who despises Ali, orders the destruction of the aforementioned leisure centre. He has also bought all available real estate in Staines in the knowledge that the town is to be destroyed to make way for a new terminal for Heathrow Airport, which will make him super wealthy. After turning down an offer to have sex with Kate Hedges, in exchange for “keeping his mouth shut” about the videotape, Ali and the West Staines Massiv must race against time to find the master copy of the CCTV tape proving the former Prime Minister’s innocence, extending the olive branch to all the gangs all over Staines and neighbouring Berkshire (even to the East Staines Massiv) to help them break into the vaults and retrieve the said tape. They do this successfully and manage to reinstate the original Prime Minister, save the Leisure Centre, and all live happily ever after when Ali is posted as the British ambassador to Jamaica. Staines is saved from destruction, with the reinstated Prime Minister declaring that Slough is to be destroyed instead.

REVIEW:

I toyed around with the idea of going to see The Dictator this past weekend, but opted to save my money and see Men in Black III this coming weekend. Hopefully, I won’t regret that decision. In the meantime, a friend of mine recommended I watch The Ali G Show, as it showcases Sacha Boren Cohen at his finest. I couldn’t find it on-line, though Netflix does have it, just not streaming, and I’m just not into renting entire series from them. As a consolation, for lack of a better term, I did find Ali G Indahouse. The question is, should I have just watched the show instead?

So, what worked?

Comedy, as advertised. Some people may find this flick offensive, but I actually thought it was pretty funny. Of course, if you’ve ever seen any of Cohen’s films, then you know this is how he works.

Committment. One thing that can be said about this flick is that it commits to the gag of Ali G “wannabe gangsta” persona, even when he becomes part of the political landscape. Other films would have probably made him change to fit the “norm”. I think the non-change is what made this film so enjoyable. It is such a shame that we don’t have anyone like that in today’s politics.

What you wouldn’t expect. Character actors such as Michael Gambon and Martin Freeman star alongside Cohen and in roles that are a bit out of their comfort zone, well maybe not.

What didn’t I like?

Hot, but wasted. Kate Beckinsale’s look-alike, Rhona Mitra, plays a fairly major role as some kind of secretary/assistant, but for some reason, they don’t really use her to full potential (although getting her to nearly strip down was nice).

Forgotten plot device. It takes about 30 minutes for this film to finally get to the plot, which I can somewhat live with. However, there is this secondary plot involving the youth center that is merely touched on and used more as a blackmail device than anything else. I don’t know, for me, it felt as if they could have done something more with it, especially at the end.

Large members. There are a few scenes where we see Ali G’s large member. Maybe it is just me, but I just don’t think there was a reason to show this, especially more than once!

Ali G Indahouse is not one of those films that one will be watching over and over again, but it is one of those flicks that is entertaining every now and then. To quote a friend of mine, this is “a good time…if you’re drunk”. I don’t highly recommend it, but I won’t lose any respect for you if you decide to give it a shot. Don;t forget to look for a certain cameo about halfway through. I won’t say who it is, but when you see him, you’ll know.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The King’s Speech

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens with Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), known to his wife and family as “Bertie” (played by Colin Firth), the second son of King George V, speaking at the close of the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium, with his wife Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter) by his side. His stammering speech visibly unsettles the thousands of listeners in the audience. The duke tries several unsuccessful treatments and gives up, until his wife persuades him to see Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian speech therapist in London. In their first session, Logue requests that they address each other by their Christian names, a breach of royal etiquette – and Logue tells the duke that he will be calling him by his family name, Bertie, from here on. At first, Bertie is reluctant to receive treatment. Logue bets Bertie a shilling that he can read perfectly at that very moment, and gives him Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy to read aloud, which he does while listening to loud music on headphones. Logue records Bertie’s reading on a gramophone record, but convinced that he has stammered throughout, Bertie leaves in a huff, declaring his condition “hopeless.” Logue offers him the recording as a keepsake.

After King George V (Michael Gambon) makes his 1934 Christmas address, he explains to Bertie the importance of broadcasting for the modern monarchy in a perilous international situation, declares that “David” (Edward, the Prince of Wales, played by Guy Pearce), Bertie’s older brother, will bring ruin to the family and the country when he is king, and demands that Bertie train himself to fill in – starting with himself practising reading his father’s speech. After an agonising attempt to do so, Bertie plays Logue’s recording and hears himself making an unbroken recitation of Shakespeare. He returns to Logue, and they work together on muscle relaxation and breath control, while Logue gently probes the psychological roots of the stammer, much to Bertie’s embarrassment. Bertie soon reveals some of the pressures of his childhood: his strict father; the repression of his natural left-handedness; a painful treatment with metal splints for his knock-knees; a nanny who favoured his elder brother, pinched him to make him cry, and did not feed him adequately (“It took my parents three years to notice,” says Bertie); and the early death in 1919 of his little brother Prince John. As the treatment progresses, Lionel and Bertie become friends and confidants.

On 20 January 1936, George V dies, and David accedes to the throne as King Edward VIII, still wanting to marry Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), a divorced American socialite. At a party in Balmoral Castle, Bertie points out that Edward cannot marry a divorced woman and retain the throne; Edward accuses his brother of a medieval-style plot to usurp his throne, citing Bertie’s speech lessons as an attempt to ready himself and resurrecting his childhood taunt of “B-B-B-Bertie”.

At his next session, Bertie has not forgotten the incident. He is most aggravated by being able to more or less speak without stammering to everyone except his own brother. Logue, noticing that when he curses he does not stammer, has him say every swear word he can think of. After doing so, Bertie briefs him on the extent of David’s folly with Wallis Simpson, Logue insists that Bertie could be king. Outraged, Bertie accuses Logue of treason and mocks Logue’s failed acting career and humble origins, causing a rift in their friendship. When King Edward VIII does in fact abdicate to marry, Bertie becomes King George VI. The new king realises that he needs Logue’s help; he and the queen visit the Logues’ residence to apologise. When the king insists that Logue be seated in the king’s box during his coronation in Westminster Abbey, Dr Cosmo Gordon Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury (Derek Jacobi), questions Logue’s qualifications. This prompts another confrontation between the king and Logue, who explains he had begun by treating shell-shocked soldiers in the last war. When the king still isn’t convinced about his own strengths, Logue sits in King Edward’s Chair and dismisses the Stone of Scone as a trifle. The king remonstrates with Logue for his disrespect, surprising himself at his own sudden eloquence, which Logue had provoked.

Upon the September 1939 declaration of war with Germany, Bertie summons Logue to Buckingham Palace to help him prepare for his radio speech to Britain and the Empire. As the king and Logue move through the palace to a tiny studio, Winston Churchill (Timothy Spall) reveals to the king that he, too, had once had a speech impediment but had found a way to use it to his advantage. As millions of people listen to their radios, the king delivers his speech as if to Logue, who coaches him throughout. As Logue watches, the king steps onto the balcony of the palace with his family, where thousands of Londoners, who had gathered in the streets to hear the speech over loudspeakers, cheer and applaud him.

A final title card explains that, during the many speeches King George VI gave during World War II, Logue was always present. It also notes that in 1944 the king made Logue a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in recognition of Logue’s personal service to the Monarch. The final card states that Bertie and Logue remained friends for the rest of their lives

REVIEW:

When awards season rolled around, all the buzz was about how The King’s Speech was going to sweep everything, and sure enough it did. Now, if you’re familiar with m views on pictures that win these awards, you know that I believe there is a disconnect between the voters and the viewers, however, in a manner similar to recent best picture films such as American Beauty and Slumdog Millionaire, this film actually is worthy of its awards and accolades.

The plot of this biopic follows the struggle of King George VI and his stammering problem, culminating in his speech on the radio that ushered Great Britain into World War II. Along the way we watch as the king (duke in the first half of the picture) also deals with this emotional issues, such as deep seeded family issues and his uncomfortableness with this stammer. Not to mention the fact that he seems to not really be comfortable having a friend, let alone one that is not only beneath him, but also an Australian.

The story is magnificently represented on the screen and the audience really feels for Bertie and at times for Logue. I, for one, did not think they could take a story about someone with a stammer, even if they are part of the royal family, and turn it into a watchable, let alone award-winning picture.

Anytime you have a biopic, it is always fun to point out notable figures in history. In this film, aside from King George, we have the Queen Mother, before she became the Queen Mother, of course, played by a shockingly normal looking Helena Bonham Carter. Winston Churchill is also in here played by Timothy Spall, who either was wearing a fat suit (not like he’s exactly skin and bones), or packed on a stone or two. Lastly, the queen herself is in here…just as a child. Sadly, no Helen Mirren to be found, but this little girl did give the character as much grace as her in The Queenwell, as best she could with the handful of lines she had.

The performances speak for themselves. I don’t think there was a weak link in the cast, but if there was one that was exceptionally strong, it would have to be Colin Firth as Bertie. to be able to convey the speech impediment and those emotion as well as he did was truly remarkable.

I’m not really a fan of heavy dramas like this, but I did find myself riveted by The King’s Speech, especially when it came down to the end of the film and he was giving the titular speech as the entire country, and world listened. That has to be one of the more touching scenes in today’s cinema, especially if you get the emotion tied into it by viewing the entire picture. This film winning Best Picture and all those other awards was definitely no fluke. Sure, there are no giant robots or CG cars or aliens, but it just goes to show you that sometimes the best film are those that focus strictly on the acting. I highly recommend this to you all!

5 out of 5 stars

Clean Slate

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Maurice Pogue (Carvey) has Anterograde amnesia, a form of amnesia that prevents him from remembering anything that happened to him the day before. He realizes from a recording he made for himself the previous night (Sunday) – to keep himself in the know – that he’s a private investigator in Los Angeles, and acquired the condition after being injured during a case. Pogue tells himself not to reveal his condition to anyone, as he’s the key witness in the case against the man responsible for his amnesia. Appearing on the recording is a strange woman, Sarah Novak (Golino), who informs him she has been living under the alias Beth Holly in San Francisco, and she has come to L.A. because she is being blackmailed. The police then come to Pogue’s office, and take him to what turns out to be his birthday party. He tells his friend Dolby (Jones) that he’s seen Sarah, and learns from Dolby that Sarah is dead. While at the party, Pogue also meets Anthony Doover (Michael Murphy), his doctor – the only person who knows of Pogue’s condition.

Two henchmen take him from the party to meet Philip Cornell (Gambon), the man Pogue is to testify against. Cornell offers Pogue a large sum of money to deny witnessing Cornell’s involvement in the crime. On re-examining his files at the office, Pogue learns that Sarah was once Cornell’s lover, who decided to testify against Cornell lest he killed her because of her knowledge of his illegal activities. Sarah hired Pogue to protect her but was killed by a car bomb, the same bomb that caused his amnesia. That night, Pogue meets Sarah at a fashion show she’s modeling in. She tells him the girl that was killed in the explosion was a double, and that someone’s threatening to tell Cornell she’s still alive. Sarah also tells Pogue about a valuable coin Cornell stole from the L.A. County Museum, which she in turn stole from him. Sarah tells Pogue that she gave him the coin the morning before the explosion; Pogue cannot remember. The only clue the two have about the coin’s location is one word Pogue said when Sarah gave it to him, “Baby.”

The next morning, Pogue has forgotten everything again. Cornell shows up to his office to get Pogue’s sworn statement but Pogue, mistaking Cornell for his landlord, gives him a check for rent. Pogue tries throughout the day to figure out where the coin is but doesn’t find any answers. Later on he meets with Sarah; she stays at his place for the night and they make love. Pogue wakes up the following day remembering everything from the day before. Through learning his dog is Baby, he recalls that he hid the coin in its collar. He takes Sarah to a payphone to call the people who are blackmailing her, Pogue notices that her handwriting is not the same as on the note the coin was wrapped in. Thus realizing she cannot really be Sarah Novak, he switches the coin without her knowledge. He then follows her and finds that Doover and she set up the scam to get the coin. When Doover says they’ll have to start all over again after they failed to get the coin, the woman posing as Sarah refused to go through with it again. That night, while sitting in Pogue’s car outside his office, the woman reveals into one of Pogue’s recorders that she’s really Beth Holly, whom Doover had hired because of her resemblance to Novak. Cornell’s men then kidnap Beth when they see her in the car.

Thursday morning, Cornell, who’s figured out that Pogue has the coin, abducts Pogue and takes hum to his home, where he attempts to torture him to give up the coin. Pogue and Holly escape, and rush to Cornell’s trial. During the trial, Pogue falls back in his chair and hits his head, then suddenly regains his memory. He tells Beth that he put the coin in a parking meter and she speeds off to get it. Pogue then gives his testimony against Cornell, which prompts Cornell to change his plea in the case. Pogue finds Sarah back at his apartment and the story ends when the two kiss and go inside.

REVIEW:

Apparently, Dana Carvey movies are they key to special memories/moments in my life. If you will recall, a few months back, when I reviewed Master of Disguise, I mentioned that it held a special place in my heart as I saw it in one of the last drive-in theaters. Well, Clean Slate has a similar link to my past, as this was the first film I took a date to see.

With that thought, let me just say that when I first saw this film, I didn’t pay too much attention to it. Seriously, I was a high school junior on a date with a hot majorette. Do you honestly think I was paying attention to what was happening on the screen?

Years later, though, I finally have decided to check this film out and actually watch it this time. To be perfectly honest with you, I’m glad I didn’t watch it the first time and sort of wish I didn’t watch it this time.

I have to mention this about the plot. The whole amnesia thing where everyday he wakes up and forgets everything from the day before sounds a bit too much like 50 First Dates (or vice-versa), if you ask me. I think that is one of the reasons that I couldn’t get invested in the film. I was thinking too much of Drew Barrymore’s character from that film.

Having said that, the amnesia angle is the best part of the plot. Everything else just seems like it was written to showcase Carvey and everyone else just has to smile and nod. Even while doing that, it does him no justice.

Don’t get me wrong, the story itself could have worked. Perhaps if they would have set it in the 30s or 40s and made this a film noir comedy akin to Johnny Dangerously (speaking generally as having a comedy set in that era, of course).

The romance angle could have gone somewhere interesting, especially with her supposedly being dead, and the other woman with the handcuffs and whatnot, but the filmmakers chose not to see where that would have led. On one hand, I’m glad, but on the other, I have to say I am intrigued to know where this all would have led.

Judging by the cast of this flick, you’d think it would have worked, but it just doesn’t. Dana Carvey was supposed to be a huge star after leaving Saturday Night Live, but that just didn’t happen. If ever he questions why not, then he need look no further than this film. Carvey is best known for his impression and quirky demeanor. Neither of which are on display here. At least in Master of Disguise, he did what he was known for.

Valeria Golino is not a leading lady. She would have worked much better as the other woman, played by Olivia d’Abo, and vice-versa. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Golino, but she just didn’t sell me on this role.

Michael Gambon, who is currently best known as Dumbledore, really surprised me with this turn as a villain. Of course, the whole no thumbs thing makes me go back to my suggestion that this film should have been set in the 30s or 40s. That would have been perfectly explained as some gangster cut them off, rather than that lame story about his father.

Kevin Pollack and James Earl Jones make interesting additions to the cast, but both seem to be a bit out-of-place, especially Jones, who does nothing more than ride around in a wheelchair with a neck brace on for the few scenes he is in.

The verdict on Clean Slate is this…if you have a clean slate about this picture before watching it, then leave it that way. There really is no reason to waste your time, unless you’re just a die-hard Dana Carvey fan, and even for that group I would find it hard to recommend this. While not totally horrible, Clean Slate fails to deliver where it matters most, the department of being an entertaining, enjoyable comedy. For that reason, and the reason alone, I have to say stay away.

2 out of 5 stars