April 2015


Three thrill-seeking go-go dancers, Billie (Lori Williams), Rosie (Haji), and their leader, Varla (Tura Satana) encounter a young couple in the desert while racing their sports cars. After killing the boyfriend (Ray Barlow) with her bare hands, Varla drugs, binds, gags and kidnaps his girlfriend, Linda (Susan Bernard). On a desolate highway, the four stop at a gas station, where they see a wheelchair-bound old man (Stuart Lancaster) and his muscular, dimwitted son, Vegetable (Dennis Busch). The gas station attendant (Mickey Foxx) tells the women that the old man and his two sons live on a decrepit ranch with a hidden cache of money. Intrigued, Varla hatches a scheme to rob the lecherous old man…

“Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” is a 1965 cult classic exploitation film directed by Russ Meyer, who also wrote the script with Jack Moran. The film features gratuitous violence, sexuality, provocative gender roles, and camp dialogue. It is one of Meyer’s more boldly titled and unflinchingly exploitative films; however, there is no full on nudity. This movie has been on my list for a long time, and I reckon this is an odd, but yet intriguing movie. The mix of hard edged women in sports cars committing crimes with a frown and yet living out some sort of female liberation from the strains of society concerning how a woman should act and behave is striking. It´s over the top with dodgy acting, and as said a dialogue straight from a 5 dime pulp noir story, but yet the direction, storyline and black/white format creates something unique. A cult classic without no doubt. (3 and a half out of 5)

432187569bb2e32161853d2acdfdac3a

A Spanish journalist, Roberto Torres (Dougray Scott), is trying to mend his relation with his dying father, Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley), who took part in the Spanish Civil War. Roberto discovers through his investigations that his father was a close childhood friend of Josemaría Escrivá (Charlie Cox), a candidate for sainthood, with whom he had a complicated relationship. Manolo became a soldier during the Spanish Civil War and became obsessed with a beautiful Hungarian revolutionary, Ildiko (Olga Kurylenko). She rejected him and gave herself to a brave militia leader named Oriol. Manolo became jealous and took a path of betrayal which he has suffered from his whole life. This event ultimately reveals the importance and timeless power of forgiveness for Manolo…

Roland Joffés “There Be Dragons” explores themes such as betrayal, forgiveness, friendship, and finding the meaning of life in everyday life during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. “Reconciliation matters” is the main take away message that Joffe expects from the viewers. Life, he said, is an opportunity to love: “It’s a choice, and in making that decision you become free. You do not become free when you hate. The weird thing is when you really love, you feel it like a breath of freedom, you think ‘Oh my God, I’ve chosen this, and it’s beautiful’.” He emphasized that Christianity is about love and the teaching of St. Josemaria “encourages a spiritual relationship with God in ‘very simple things’, in cooking a meal, being with one’s family, or even having a fight.” Joffé states that this is “a film about what it means to be a saint in this day and age.” The title refers to its theme exploring the unknown territories of hatred, guilt, and forgiveness, said the producer Ignacio G. Sancha. “There be dragons” is a shorter version of the phrase “here there be dragons” from the Latin hic sunt dracones, an ancient way of denoting in maps a place where there is danger, or an unknown place, a place to be explored. Roland Joffé has given us the fantastic “The Mission” and the equally great “The Killing Fields”, and therefore it pains me to see this overdramatised and theatrically overacted piece of film from the same man. With a great backdrop of the horrific Spanish Civil War, Joffé manages to transform “There Be Dragons” to an almost comiclike mish mash with sloppy direction and sloppy acting despite the fact that he obviously had a great budget. Sometimes you almost believe the movie has been dubbed as well… With an estimated budget of $36,000,000, during its opening weekend the film collected $705,537 at the US box office, compared to $1,251,124 in Spain, the film is considered a box office flop. Critics generally praised the film’s production values but panned Joffé’s screenplay and direction. I disliked this movie from scene one and nothing came to its rescue during the running time. I would love to see a proper historical movie in spanish focused on the Spanish Civil War. (2 out of 5)

there_be_dragons_xlg

Based on a true story, “Beyond The Law” or “Fixing The Shadow” centers on Daniel “Dan” Saxon (Charlie Sheen), a cop with a troubled childhood. He is enlisted by Conroy Price, an agent in Arizona’s State Attorney General’s office, to go undercover to bust the illegal drugs and arms trafficking. Saxon is unsuccessful until he meets and befriends Virgil, a mechanic who introduces him to the seedy world of outlaw bikers. Virgil tutors Saxon on bikes and customs of the outlaw motorcycle brotherhood. After many lessons and a major change in appearance Saxon develops an alter ego named Sid and ends up infiltrating the outlaw motorcycle brotherhood The Jackals and earning the trust of Blood (Michael Madsen), the president. At the same time, he begins a relationship with a photojournalist, Renee Jason (Linda Fiorentino), who is aware of his dual life. As Saxon falls deeper into this world of crime, he becomes more unbalanced and the question is just how far ‘beyond the law’ will Saxon go?

“Beyond the Law” or “Fixing The Shadow” is a 1992 TV film, and well it does look like a tv film from several angles. I saw it when it came out and you have kind of forgotten that back then Charlie Sheen was an actor you would see anything with of some reason. The fact when looking back at his career makes you really realise that he has done some really shitty movies. And this is one of them. The acting is hardly up to scratch, the dramatisation is hardly up to scratch and with a Charlie Sheen in a beard/mullet looking high and out of it doesn´t exactly help the movie to some sort of believable level. Madsen does Madsen, no surprise there. But, the actual gem of the movie is the always stunning and great Linda Fiorentino. Had a crush on her for years, and I still do. To conclude “Beyond the Law” is hardly a must see, rather a don´t see. (2 and a half out of 5)

beyond-the-law-movie-poster-1992-1020210813

Sgt. Nick Pulovski (Clint Eastwood) and his partner, Powell, are assigned to a case of taking down the criminal empire of a German felon, Strom (Raúl Juliá), who engages in grand theft auto and chop shop operations. During an encounter with Strom and his men, who are loading a semi-trailer truck with stolen cars, Powell is murdered. Nick, despite efforts to catch the criminals on the highway, ends up losing them. Consequently, Nick is removed from the case by his superior, Lt. Raymond Garcia, and given a new partner, David Ackerman (Charlei Sheen), a young officer recently promoted to rookie Detective, who has continual nightmares and is plagued by guilt over his brother’s death, believing it was his fault as a child. Against regulations, Nick and David start investigating the Strom case. Nick tracks down a man working for Strom, Morales, whom he forces to cooperate in return for immunity. Morales, under Nick’s instructions, manages to plant a two-way radio inside Strom’s house without getting caught, but is still murdered later on by Strom’s companion, Liesl (Sônia Braga). Feeling pressured by the authorities, Strom deduces that there is a connection between Morales and another one of his operatives, Little Felix, who has also been secretly working as an informant for Nick regarding the disclosure of his illegal activities at his wrecking yards. Through the radio, Nick and David learn that Strom is planning to leave the country after robbing a local casino of two million dollars. Strom’s men set off smoke bombs inside the casino and capture the general manager, Alphonse, forcing him to open the vault for them. Inside the vault however, are Nick and David, who had conspired with Alphonse to capture Strom. Yet Liesl, knowing of David’s naïveté, dares him and distracts Nick long enough for Strom to pin the detective down to the floor. Liesl shoots David in the back; although he is not killed due to his bulletproof vest. But moments later, one of Strom’s men, Cruz, discovers that the vault is empty. With police surrounding the building, Strom takes Nick hostage and demands the two million dollars as a ransom. Strom, however, has his hideout rigged with explosives, planning on destroying it with Nick inside while he escapes the country with the money…

“The Rookie” was a standard cop buddy action film when it came out, but back then a new Clint Eastwood movie was the “shit” and I reckon I thought it was pretty ok. When re-seeing it 24 years later that is not really the case. It´s such a formula A cop movie and Eastwood is almost on parody mode and Sheen looks lost and high. The person who came up with the bright idea of making Sonia Braga´s and Raul Julia´s characters germans when they both are/were from Puerto Rico makes no sense at all. And besides that they are hardly that convincing as bad guys. The movie was controversial for its depiction of a provocative woman-on-man rape sequence with it garnering much publicity and to be honest why oh why was that in the film? Clint Eastwood actually agreed to do this movie in exchange for the Warner Brothers studio letting him make his personal film project, “White Hunter Black Heart” (1990). And in a way that shines through in Eastwood´s performance. Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun Times wrote back then “The Rookie is jammed with material and the budget was obviously large, but somehow not much pays off. It’s all there on the screen, but lifeless.” So true. It´s all on autopilot. My treat was to see my Twin Peaks crush Lara Flynn Boyle in a supporting role. That´s pretty much it. (2 and a half out of 5)

Rookie1990

The handsome English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) are two highly skilled race car drivers who first develop a fierce rivalry in 1970 at a Formula Three race at the Crystal Palace circuit in England, when both their cars spin out and Hunt eventually wins the race. Hunt is a brash, young Englishman with a tendency to vomit before every race, while the Austrian Lauda is a cool, calculating technical genius who relies on precision. After a falling out with his father, Lauda takes a large bank loan and buys his way into the BRM Formula One team, meeting teammate Clay Regazzoni for the first time. Meanwhile, Hesketh Racing, the fledgling racing team Hunt drives for, enters Formula One as well. Lauda then joins Scuderia Ferrari with Regazzoni and wins his first championship in 1975. Hesketh closes shop after failing to secure a sponsor, but Hunt manages to land a driving position in McLaren after Emerson Fittipaldi leaves the team. During this time, Hunt marries supermodel Suzy Miller, while Lauda develops a relationship with socialite Marlene Knaus. The 1976 Formula One season starts with Lauda dominating the first two races while Hunt struggles to catch up. Hunt wins the Spanish Grand Prix, but is disqualified after a post-race inspection rules that his car is too wide. Struggling to comply with F1 rules, McLaren suffers a series of setbacks on the next few races, and Hunt’s situation is further exacerbated when Suzy is discovered to have a relationship with Richard Burton. Following his divorce, he regains his competitive spirit and his disqualification in Spain is overturned, which reinstates the points he lost and puts him back into championship contention. Meanwhile, Lauda marries Marlene in a private ceremony but begins to have concerns about the effects of his marriage on his racing career. At the German Grand Prix, Lauda urges the F1 committee to cancel the race due to heavy rain on the already notoriously dangerous Nürburgring; the request is vetoed by majority of the racers after Hunt convinces them that Lauda would benefit by having one less race in the season. Both Hunt and Lauda start the race with rain tires, which becomes a costly tactic due to most of the track quickly drying up. They both pit to change tires during the second lap, but halfway through the third lap, a suspension arm in Lauda’s Ferrari breaks, sending the car flying into an embankment before it bursts into flames and is further hit by other cars on the track. After being pulled out of the flaming wreckage, he is airlifted to the hospital with third-degree burns to his head and face and dangerous internal burns to his lungs. For the next six weeks, Lauda is treated for his injuries while he watches his rival dominate the races in his absence. Against his doctor’s orders, he returns behind the wheel of his Ferrari at the Italian Grand Prix to finish fourth while Hunt fails to finish the race. Their rivalry comes to a climax at the 1976 season Japanese Grand Prix…

Ron Howard is a competent director, but mostly he takes a cartoony/stereotypical sort of way in his direction and “Rush” is not an exception. The rivalry between Hunt and Lauda and their lives on the F1 circuit feels way too much over the top and almost made up in my book. Yes, Howard has taken creative liberties due to dramatic reasons, but that doesn´t mean a movie should feel so comic like the way “Rush” does. Hemsworth is ok, but Bruhl´s overacting doesn´t convince me at least. It´s an interesting story and I do know a little about the F1 circus back in the 70´s due to Sweden´s own F1 star Ronnie Petersson, who I vividly remember and who also sadly passed away during a race in 1978. “Rush” is well made, nicely shot and nicely edited. It´s a well crafted sports drama with great race sequences. But, Howard didn´t manage to convince me that I was actually looking at a story based from reality. The story simply got lost in a comic framing in high speed. (3 out of 5)

Rush-IMAGE-Poster

Boston Police Department Detectives Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) and Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) steal some gold they find during a drug-bust. Nick buries his share in his backyard, intending to use it to create a better life for himself and his wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak). He immediately regrets his decision, and informs Hayes he intends to return the gold. During a subsequent raid on a warehouse that day, Nick and Hayes get into a shootout with the criminals inside, and Hayes kills Nick to prevent him from returning the gold. After ascending to limbo in the afterlife, through a whirlpool and tunnel in the sky, Nick is taken into the office of Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) – director of the Boston division of the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). Proctor explains that R.I.P.D. is an agency that recruits deceased police officers to patrol the afterlife and capture “deados”; spirits that failed to cross over and instead stay on Earth as monsters. Nick agrees to join R.I.P.D. for a century, after Proctor explains that it would stave off a potentially negative final judgment, and meets his new partner Roycephus “Roy” Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) – a crusty ex United States Marshal from the Wild West and veteran R.I.P.D. officer. Nick and Roy return to Earth and attend Nick’s funeral, where Nick learns that R.I.P.D. officers are assigned avatars, which is how humans perceive them. Nick’s is an elderly Chinese man, Jerry Chen (James Hong), and Roy’s is an attractive Russian woman, Opal Pavlenko (Marisa Miller). After failing to communicate with Julia, Nick accompanies Roy to the apartment of suspect Stanley Nawlicki, who transforms from his avatar into his monster form via cumin powder. Nawlicki tries to escape, resulting in Roy pushing Nick out of a 20-story building, and is eventually killed by Roy using a soul-killer bullet that erases him from the cosmos. Pieces of gold identical to the ones Nick stole are found in Nawlicki’s possession, and logged into evidence. Nick and Roy then meet with Elliot, Roy’s informant and a Red Sox fan, who Nick dupes into leading them to his contact, revealed to be Hayes. Nick and Roy follow him to Nick’s old house, where Hayes retrieves Nick’s share of the gold, leading Julia to believe that Nick was corrupt. After a brief confrontation between Roy and Nick over the stolen gold, they tail Hayes to a bus depot where he gives the gold to a large ginger-sideburned “deado” named Pulaski. The duo corner Pulaski and try intimidating him by threatening to expose his true form, which he readily does, escapes, and causes enough destruction to make news headlines. Proctor is infuriated and they are suspended and taken off the case by The Eternals (who are in charge of limbo), while Proctor tells them they are likely to be erased. They decide to continue the investigation on their own after learning the pieces of golds are components of the Staff of Jericho, a mystical device that could reverse the tunnel that transports the dead into the afterlife, returning them to Earth…

“R.I.P.D.” was not screened in advance for critics. That normally means that the production company knows that they have a box office bomb on their hands. And that couldn´t be truer in this case. This is a MESS. It´s based on the comic book “Rest In Peace Department” by Peter M. Lenkov and there´s obvious connections to specifically “Men In Black” and as well “Ghostbusters”. This doesn´t help the movie as it feels way too formulaic to satisfy on any level. And it´s not even close to the mentioned movies. Then I haven´t even mentioned the CGI…. Mein gott.. It seems that Ryan Reynolds only ends up in movies that hires the worst CGI creators in the US. It´s terrible. Truly terrible. And Reynolds is as wooden as only he can be and Jeff Bridges has managed to become some sort of strange parody of Rooster Cogburn. Kyle Smith of the New York Post rated the film a half-star out of four, saying, “For a movie that so strenuously rips off Ghostbusters and Men in Black, R.I.P.D. manages to come up with fresh new ways of being absolutely terrible. The plot manages to be fully predictable and freakishly bonkers at the same time, seemingly born of the same kind of brainstorming-on-L.S.D. session that must have given us Howard the Duck.” I couldn´t say it better myself. My only enjoyment was the stunning Stephanie Szostak. I would love to see more of her.
(1 and a half out of 5)

r.i.p.d.-2013-06

Lovely.

, portrait, 2012, Credit: Johan Persson/

« Previous PageNext Page »