Review


In the totalitarian near future, ‘social deviants’ are sent to prison camps for re-education and behaviour modification. The new arrivals at Camp 47 are Chris Walters (Olivia Hussey), a shopkeeper accused of helping a rebel; Rita Daniels (Lynda Stoner), a suspected sex worker; and Paul Anders (Steve Railsback), a dissident who has escaped from several other camps. After suffering brutal treatment at the hands of Camp Master Charles Thatcher (Michael Craig) and his chief enforcer, Ritter (Roger Ward), the prisoners accept a deadly deal. They will be human prey in a ‘turkey shoot’, which Thatcher has organised for Secretary Mallory (Noel Ferrier), and VIPs Jennifer (Carmen Duncan) and Tito (Michael Petrovich). If they can evade the heavily armed guests in the surrounding jungle until sundown, Chris, Rita and Paul will be set free. As the ‘turkey shoot’ progresses, the tables are turned, and the prisoners become the hunters…

“Turkey Shoot”, also known as “Escape 2000” and “Blood Camp Thatcher”, is a 1982 Australian dystopian futurist exploitation film directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith. The entire cast is a mix of international actors and Australian soap opera stars and television personalities. The film is notable for its extreme violence and sadistic prison sequences, and it features plot elements of The Most Dangerous Game, but rather than having human targets hunted for sport by a madman on his own island, the story features a concentration camp known as “The Establishment”, which offers the opportunity to rich adventurers with legal immunity. AskMen labeled it “Easily the cheapest and nastiest piece of mainstream celluloid ever stitched together by our Australia’s mad cinematic scientists”. “Turkey Shoot” featured in a Focus on Ozploitation collection of 1970s and 1980s Australian exploitation films, including Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Dead End Drive-In and Razorback. These over-the-top B grade films were characterized by lashings of gratuitous sex, violence and fuel-injected muscle car mayhem which pushed the boundaries of audience taste to new limits. Olivia Hussey was miserable, upset and stressed throughout filming, believing Australia’s dangerous wildlife would be everywhere and hurt her, making it difficult to film her on location. Lynda Stoner had insisted on no nudity when accepted the role, but when she arrived on set she found out she was required to do some. She objected, pressure was put on her, so she compromised and did a back shot but says she always regretted it.The film lost about $700,000 of it’s $3,200,000 budget two weeks before production began when a major investor backed out at the last minute. Due to budget constraints the first 15 pages of the initial script were removed as well as a 4 page helicopter chase scene. The shooting schedule was reduced from 44 to 30 working days. “Turkey Shoot” is a classic campy action exploitation vehicle, with a social satiric backstory and can also be seen as a social political comment to a futuristic society. The lovely and beautiful Olivia Hussey does look scared and petrified in the movie, and apparently that was not acting. Steve Railsback is without no doubt a very unbalanced actor, but I always thought he did a good job in “The Stuntman”. Interesting to see Roger Ward doing a true villain as I have only seen him in “Mad Max” as far as I can remember. And the quite stunning Carmen Duncan is evil to the bone as Jennifer. Having been shot in North Queensland makes me feel a bit nostalgic as I used to live in Queensland myself. : ) And Brian May’s score adds to the atmosphere in the movie. Even if the material is pretty one-dimensional and the intent is to shock with its gore in one way or another with several sadistic scenes, I actually liked “Turkey Shoot”, being what it is within the Ozploitation genre. (3 out of 5)

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Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is a blind lawyer who lives in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen and runs a firm with his best friend Franklin “Foggy” Nelson (Jon Favreau), who only defends innocent people and does not require monetary payment. As a child, Matt (Scott Terra) was blinded after toxic waste was spilled over his eyes while he was taking a shortcut home from school after discovering that his father, former boxer Jack “The Devil” Murdock (David Keith), had become an enforcer for a local mobster. The accident, however, also enhanced his other senses and gave him a sonar that allowed him to “see” through sonic vibrations. Matt uses his sharpened senses to train himself in martial arts. His father, blaming himself for his disability, stopped being an enforcer and went back to boxing. However, his new career was short-lived and he was murdered after refusing to turn in a fixed fight by the same mobster that had employed him earlier. To avenge his father’s death, Matt used his abilities to become a crime-fighter known as “Daredevil”, who operates in Hell’s Kitchen, going after the criminals that escape the conventional means of justice. One day, Matt meets Elektra Natchios (Jennifer Garner). Elektra is the daughter of Nikolas Natchios (Erick Avari), a businessman that has dealings with Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan), a rich executive who is also the criminal leader of New York City’s Underworld, known and feared as the Kingpin. When Nikolas tries to bail on his dealings with Fisk, the mobster hires the Irish hitman Bullseye (Colin Farrell), who never misses a shot, to kill him. Matt tries to stop Bullseye, even causing him to miss a shot, but Bullseye ultimately succeeds in killing Nikolas and framing Matt in the process. As a result, Elektra swears to take revenge on him as reporter Ben Urich (Joe Pantoliano), who had been investigating Matt’s activities, discovers his secret identity. Believing Matt to have done good things for Hell’s Kitchen, he tells Matt that Bullseye will be going after Elektra next. Matt goes after Bullseye, but is attacked by Elektra, who plans to use her extensive training in martial arts to avenge her father’s death by killing Matt. After wounding him, she removes his mask, and discovers his secret identity and innocence. Forced to fight Bullseye alone, Elektra is overpowered and murdered by the hitman, who is forced to flee before he can kill Matt as the police arrive, having been tipped off by Urich. Matt, wounded, makes his way to a local church, where he is looked after by his confidant Father Everett (Derrick O’Connor), who knows his secret identity. Matt will need to battle Bullseye and take down The Kingpin in his wounded state…

I have always loved Daredevil as a superhero, and I reckon I haven´t red enough comics of this superhero. Nevertheless, this effort to put Daredevil on the screen fails in most areas as the “The Green Lantern” did. The New York Times?’ Elvis Mitchell, said the film was “second-rate and ordinary,” while Variety’s Todd McCarthy considered it “a pretender in the realm of bona fide superheroes.” Slate’s David Edelstein believed Johnson copied a lot of Batman, and concluded by saying “that’s not so bad: The movie looks best when it looks like other, better movies. The New York Post’s Lou Lumenick panned the film, describing it as a “mind-numbing, would-be comic-book franchise, which often seems as blind as its hero — not to mention deaf and dumb”. Ben Affleck is awful as Matt Murdock/Daredevil and so is Colin Farrell as Bullseye (his “costume” as Bullseye is awful as well). The stunning Jennifer Garner is ok as Elektra and that goes for Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin as well. The problem is that the production team and the director has created something that is still in the realms of a comic book with too much of a comic book feeling and they have tried to set it in a real up to date environment. So, it becomes neither, which makes everything look “dodgy” and unreal. The characters are too much stereotypical superheros/super villains and that create an unbalance as well. Plus the many too obvious green screen/ animated backgrounds and the really poorly animations of the characters in action adds to the overdriven comic book feeling. It´s a shame that this is simply not good, because Daredevil is a great comic book hero. However, there´s room for a reboot that can save Daredevils honour… (2 out of 5)

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After failing to qualify for the 1974 World Cup, England manager Alf Ramsey is replaced by Don Revie (Colm Meaney), the highly successful manager of Leeds United. Revie’s replacement is Brian Clough (Michael Sheen), the former manager of Derby County and a fierce critic of Leeds, because of their violent and physical style of play under Revie’s management. Furthermore, Clough’s longtime assistant, Peter Taylor (Timothy Spall), has not joined him. The roots of Clough’s conflict with Leeds are depicted as happening in a 1968 FA Cup match between Leeds, the leaders of the First Division and Derby, who were struggling near the bottom of the Second Division. Clough, assuming Revie to be a similar man to himself, as they grew up in the same part of Middlesbrough and both played for Sunderland, made many preparations for the match; come the day of the match however, Revie failed to even acknowledge Clough upon entering the Baseball Ground. Derby eventually lost 2-0.Although Clough initially blames the brutality of the Leeds players, he and Taylor recognise that their side are not good on a technical level. So they sign veteran Dave Mackay (Brian McCardie), along with several other young players. Chairman Sam Longson (Jim Broadbent) is extremely anxious about the investment, as well as the fact that Clough did not consult him before signing Mackay. However, in 1969 Derby are promoted. They once again face Leeds, only to lose 5-0. The club win their first ever League championship in 1972, meaning a European Cup campaign the following year. They go through to the semi-finals against Juventus. Unfortunately, against Longson’s advice, Clough uses his best squad in the last match before the semi-final, against Leeds, purely out of pride and determination to beat Revie. They suffer injuries and Billy Bremner (Stephen Graham) sarcastically wishes Clough well for the semi-final. Juventus defeat them 3-1, and Clough publicly lambasts Longson. Taylor then suffers a heart attack, and Clough tries to secure his position by offering his and Taylor’s resignations in a protest against the chairman’s unwilligness to fund further signings. To his horror, the club accepts their resignations and bans them from entering the Baseball Ground again (although Clough later sneaks in as a supporter). Derby fans’ outrage raises Clough’s hopes of being reinstated, and he is backed by the majority of his players as well, but former player Dave Mackay is appointed manager instead. Derby fans quickly lose interest and Clough loses all hope of getting his job back. He and Taylor are then offered jobs at Brighton & Hove Albion. They agree to take the jobs after taking an all-expenses-paid holiday in Majorca. During the holiday that summer, Clough agrees to take control of Leeds after being approached by their representatives. Taylor, however, argues the case for staying at Brighton, and after a bitter quarrel, the two go their separate ways. Clough alienates his Leeds players in their first training session, first by telling them that they can throw away any awards they have won because they “never won any of them fairly”, and then making them start with a 7-a-side game, which Bremner points out Don Revie never made them do. Clough reminds them that he is not Mr Revie and threatens a severe punishment for any player who mentions the former manager’s name or methods again. Clough´s determination to crush Don Revie overshadows everything and he is soon to be faced with what that means…

“The Damned United” is based on David Peace’s bestselling novel “The Damned Utd”, a largely fictional book based on the author’s interpretation of Brian Clough’s ill-fated tenure as football manager of Leeds United in 1974. The problem with this sort of film is that if you don´t know the main character (his way of talking, his manners, his persona etc) that is based on a real person, in this case Brian Clough, you have no idea how well Michael Sheen actually portrays Brian Clough, and then the movie lose a lot for you as a viewer. I do know of Brian Clough, but I have no real insight in his persona. Nevertheless, Michael Sheen does portray Clough´s rampant narcissism and hubris in a very believable way and he doesn´t come off as a very likeable person. Roger Ebert gave the film three and a half stars out of four, and praised Sheen for portraying “modern British icons so uncannily that he’s all but disappeared into them”. We get to see the roughness on the football pitch of the 70s, which is quite interesting and you realise that this would never fly today. There would be red cards in every struggle for the ball. “The Damned United” is well made with an interesting storyline, then again you can´t help to question the events that happens in the movie since you have no idea how much creative and dramatic freedom the director and producer has taken. Prior to its release, Clough’s widow Barbara, already a critic of Peace’s book, expressed disappointment that the film was being made at all. The Clough family declined an invitation to a preview of the film, affirming their opposition to the entire project. Clough’s son Nigel said he did not intend to watch the film and that those in football who had seen it had told him it bore “no resemblance” to what actually happened. Sony’s decision to release the film six days after what would have been Clough’s 74th birthday was also criticised. Producer Andy Harries responded to the Clough family’s criticisms by stating that “The filmmakers” goal is to tell a wonderful and extraordinary story with universal themes of success, jealousy and betrayal”. Harries added that without adding fictional elements the film would not have been as exciting to watch. He also reassured Clough’s family that the film would be a more sympathetic portrayal of Clough than in the book. Writer Peter Morgan claimed that he did not feel the film’s accuracy was of major importance. Dave Mackay sued Left Bank Pictures over his portrayal in the film, angered at the implication that he had betrayed Clough in taking the Derby manager’s job. In March 2010, Mackay won an apology and undisclosed damages from Left Bank Pictures. Roy McFarland agreed with Mackay’s decision to take legal action and said that he enjoyed Sheen’s performance, but otherwise “did not particularly like the film”. Martin O’Neill, who played for Clough at Nottingham Forest, questioned the portrayal of the relationship between Clough and Peter Taylor. He praised the performance of the actors, however, particularly that of Sheen. BBC Sport journalist Pat Murphy, a personal friend of Clough, noted 17 factual inaccuracies in the film, including various errors regarding the timing of events. He also dismissed as “absolute nonsense” a scene where Clough stays in the Derby dressing room during a match against Leeds, too nervous to watch. (3 and a half out of 5)

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Brought to a women’s prison in a tropical country which resembles the film’s Philippines-set location, Lee (Pam Grier) and Karen (Margaret Markov) encounter sadistic matron Densmore (Lynn Borden) who voyeuristically observes through a peephole as the inmates take a shower. Prone to emotional outbursts, she orders a guard to escort Lee to her private room, puts on a black glove and strikes Lee across the face, but is almost immediately restrained when the level-headed warden Logan (Laurie Burton), with whom she has a lesbian relationship, forcibly enters the room and orders Lee’s return to the prisoners’ area. Following a fight in the prisoners’ meal hall between Lee and Karen, which spreads into a free-for-all, the two are punished by lockup inside a metal box exposed to the broiling tropical sun, with only enough space to stand back-to-back and, shortly thereafter, scheduled for transfer to a maximum security prison. As the lightly escorted bus traverses a country road close to the jungle, the convoy is attacked by revolutionaries, led by Ernesto (Zaldy Zschornack), bent on rescuing his companion, Karen, a key member of the group. In the ensuing battle, Lee and Karen, who are chained to each other, strangle matron Densmore with their chain, while warden Logan is fatally shot by the rebels. At that point, army reinforcements led by Captain Cruz (Eddie Garcia) arrive on the scene, the rebels retreat and Lee and Karen run into the woods. They subsequently force a couple of nuns to give them their habits, then travel on a bus in this disguise and, later, after getting a ride from a truck driver (Bruno Punzalah), throw him out of the truck and drive off. Before being sentenced on a drug charge, Lee was a prostitute for the region’s most prominent pimp and drug dealer Vic Cheng (Vic Diaz), whose $40,000 of ill-gotten profits she managed to hide and, as a result, is now being hunted by him and his henchmen. Lee and Karen chained together needs to find their way across the wilderness and survive all the dangers they encounter on their way to freedom…

“Black Mama, White Mama” is a 1973 women in prison film with elements of blaxploitation and actually not that bad in that genre. Despite the fact that we get to see the usual lesbian guards, nudity, violence, exploitation of women etc this movie still has a production value (even if it´s a B-movie). Pam Grier and Margaret Markov are both will powered, independent, strong and beautiful women in their roles. What actually makes “Black Mama, White Mama” really work is that we have the side stories (beside the usual women in prison story), on one hand the revolutionaries that tries to find their member Karen and on the other hand Vic Cheng´s bandits that tries to find Lee and the $40,000. Meaning the storyline is quite vivid, dynamic and has many colourful characters based in good and truly evil. (3 out of 5)

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In the 1970s, successful graphic designer and ladies’ man Charles Swan III (Charlie Sheen) is dumped by his girlfriend Ivana (Katheryn Winnick), and it throws his life into a tailspin. He doesn´t know whether he loves her or hates her or wants her back or never wants to see her again. Along with his best friend, Kirby (Jason Schwartzman) and his manager, Saul (Bill Murray), Charles starts to suffer from nightmares, fever dreams of past relationships and hits rock bottom as he tries to recover from the recent breakup and tries to turn his life around…

I can only say wow, what an utterly and truly piece of garbage this is. The Dallas Observer said that the film “might generously be described as cut-and-paste – or more accurately as ‘throw stuff to the wall and see what sticks'”. TIME said that the film “does not lead to a deeper understanding of Charlie Sheen. It does, however, demonstrate his compulsion for poor judgment and bad choices. But weren’t we already convinced of that?” Roman Coppola has tried to do a Michel Gondry movie and fails miserably. Charlie Sheen was ok as an actor in the beginning of his career, but he has spiralled downwards since then for so many years and as Charles Swan III I can´t think he can get lower as an actor. His pathetic self obsession has sunk his career slowly and I can barely stand to see this worn and torn actor (looking worse than ever) anymore doing the same role with the same name over and bloody over again. What the hell was Schwartzman and Murray thinking when signing on to do this movie? The movie is barely coherent and things seems completely hap hazarded. The low point most be the spanish duet between Sheen and Winnick as Sheen is clearly on something during this scene. “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III” is a bizarre odyssey that seems to have been written, produced and filmed during the influence of all sorts of things and it misses the goal by miles of becoming an original black comedy and strange tale. The only positive parts were the lovely Katheryn Winnick and the music from Liam Hayes.
(1 and a half out of 5)

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The equally successful as arrogant TV producer Rainer (Moritz Bleibtreu) serves the tv audience with soap operas, talk shows and trashy game shows. He works for the tv channel TTS and he is constantly on the hunt for high ratings, but the social coldness in his working environment drives him to despair and to numb himself he use drugs and alcohol to make his life bearable. One day on the bender he gets into his car despite the fact that he barely can stand and drives towards his home. At a stoplight a young woman named Pegah (Elsa Sophie Gambard) drives intentionally into the side of his car in high speed. She seeks revenge on Rainer because her grandfather took his own life due to a tv show Rainer produced. Both Rainer and Pegah survives the crash with serious injuries. While doctors resuscitate him, he ends up in a zone between life and death and he truly realise what he contributes to the world with his productions at TTS. Eventually he and Pegah find themselves trying to understand the reasons why thrash tv has become such a success. During their research they learn about the background of the audience which they believe is overvalued and unjust because some social groups are simply not recognized. On a tour of the headquarters of the IMA, the Institute for Media Analysis, which is responsible for the tv ratings, Rainer steals a ratings box and kidnaps the security guard Phillip. The trio soon becomes accomplices and initiate a TV-revolution…

“Reclaim your Brain” (Free Rainer – Dein Fernseher lügt) puts trash tv on the stand and promotes a revolution in media and in our society to end the manipulation of our brains. I think the plot and a story is there, but “Reclaim your Brain” falls a bit due to it´s funnily enough poor tv production feeling and structure. It´s not a very well made production or acting wise for that matter. Moritz Bleibtreu is normally good and he does works as Rainer, but the true gem (and really the only part that does stand out) in this film is Elsa Sophie Gambard. I was mesmerised by her presence, beauty and portrait of Pegah. Her smile, how she moved, her manners, how she was dressed etc. She was the highlight of “Reclaim your Brain” for me. (2 and a half out of 5)

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Zeroville is a 2007 novel by Steve Erickson on film’s upheaval in the 1970s. It was named one of the best novels of the year by Newsweek, the Washington Post BookWorld and the Los Angeles Times Book Review among others, and in winter 2008 was one of the five favorite novels of 800 novelists and critics in a poll of the National Book Critics Circle. The novel was also shortlisted for the Believer Book Award.

Ike Jerome, a 24-year-old architecture student inspired by the few films he has seen, rides the bus into Hollywood. Jerome is initially portrayed as violent and short tempered, his social ineptitude is slowly revealed as borderline autistic. With a tattoo of Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor as they appear in The film A Place in the Sun on the back of his head which he keeps shaven. His appearance is anachronistic and jarring to most of the people he encounters in 1960’s LA. He gets his first job in the industry as a set builder during which time he meets an aging film editor, nicknamed Vikar, whom he befriends and begins a dreamlike journey into the world of films that eventually ends in tragedy and almost horrific discovery.

Zeroville discusses the supernatural power of films over people and how films become like gods in our worship of them. Vikar’s bizarre discovery of the frame found in every film ever made confirms this. Zeroville is partially a critique of the ways movies and Hollywood changed in the 1970s, as the old studios are taken by young renegade filmmakers (symbolized by the veteran editor Dotty Langer). Vikar laments on the disappearance of film from Hollywood: “‘I’m in the movie capital of the world,’ Vikar says, ‘and nobody knows anything about movies'”. Zeroville’s plot is woven with two older stories or myths, that is, Abraham’s sacrifice and the legend of Perceval. (via Wikipedia)

When I heard about Zeroville, the book I was intrigued and then I managed to see a trailer of the upcoming film version online as well, which became the trigger to get the book. Steve Erickson has written a novel that stands out for sure, but his film obsession via Vikar Jerome becomes almost a bit too much in the end and you are almost forced to know the many movie references to be able to extract the layers in the book. And the constant presence of something supernatural would be fine if Erickson had handled it a bit more intriguing in my opinion. What is Erickson´s main purpose with the book? I red another review were this question were also stated, is it only for the already initiated or does he want to invite the reader to become as much a cineaste as the antisocial antihero Vikar? Yes, it´s kind of cool to follow Vikar´s journey into the real Hollywood and the collapse of the studio system and the temporary marriage of the independent film spirit with big studio money, but at the same time you do feel that the story sort of fades out the longer you come into the book to sort of fizzle in the end. Zeroville wants to be smart and different, but at the same time it feels like Erickson is snickering in the background of his own smartness, that others might only feel a bit confused by. Zeroville is like the bastard child of David Lynch and Chuck Palahniuk, but the satirical metaphysical set up never really reaches those heights I was expecting at least.

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