Archive for the ‘Flashback’ Category

Rear WindowImage found here.

L.B. Jeffries, known as “Jeff” to his friends, is an in-demand photographer.   He’s traipsed through jungles and battlefields, but is sidelined in his small New York apartment after suffering a broken leg.   The only company he has is an insurance company nurse named Stella and his sophisticated girlfriend Lisa.   With nothing to do and nowhere to go, Jeff begins to stare out his window.   It is a sweltering hot summer and everyone has their windows open.   Jeff’s idle curiousity turns into a daily habit of watching his neighbors’ humdrum affairs.


The neighbors are an odd mix that Jeff nicknames.   The Composer is a frustrated songwriter living across the way.   Miss Lonelyhearts is the sad lady who longs for affection, while Miss Torso, a pretty dancer, has no shortage of gentleman callers.   One couple sleeps on their fire escape and hauls their dog up in a basket at night, while a housewife tends to her child and cat.   The Thorwalds are an unhappily married couple and it is they who land Jeff in a mess of trouble.   Mrs. Thorwald is an invalid and she and her husband quarrel regularly.   Jeff wakes up one day to discover she has disappeared, ostensibly to visit family in the country, according to her husband.   Jeff is convinced that Mr. Thorwald has killed her.



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Paging Paul W.S. Anderson for a shellacking…


Gimme a break.   Look, I don’t expect any sort of greatness from Alien vs. Predator.   It’s popcorn entertainment and money grubbery at it’s finest, sure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a few minutes of cheap thrills from it.   Unless…of course, you’re assuming someone with an attention span longer than ten seconds made it.

We begin with a group being assembled by Charles Weyland (yes, that Weyland of The Company) for purposes of an exploration in the Antarctic.


Alexa is some sort of lady who likes to scale ice.   There’s an archaeologist in there too, somewhere.  The rest of them seem to be people who show up and do people-y things while looking grim.  Valuable assets, one and all.


I feel so sorry for Ewan Bremner being in this movie.   I feel oddly affectionate toward him and have ever since seeing Trainspotting for the first time, but the acting well must really be dry, Ewan, or I hope you’re using that money to put your children through private school or something.


Weyland assembles his crack team of the best and the brightest in the Antarctic because his satellite has found a mysterious pyramid where only the walls are hot.   He wants to explore this!   Most everyone else is totally on board with this plan, too!   A pyramid?  In the Antarctic!   Jeez, you just can’t make this stuff up.  I bet Paul W.S. Anderson slapped himself heartily on the back for that one.   How very clever, Paul.


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Flashback: May

So, guys, I’m not even going to lie.   This one may suck, for a variety of reasons:   1) The past two weeks have sucked and I feel pretty damn beat down; 2) I feel like someone pretty much beat me with a baseball bat, that’s how sore and weird I feel; 3) It looks like I’ll have to go in soon for some fun dental work!   Wow.   I hope you can feel the rays of joy bursting through your computer screen.    Can you?   I just kind of want to pull the covers over my head for a week or so and hide.  Now that I’m done moping and being vaguely whiny, let’s get on to the good stuff.

I used to go see bands play at a local club in Dallas that was about as hole in the wall as it got, and I used to get really freaked out.   I think this is the place I saw The Business play, but I can’t remember – it’s been a while.   Anyways, the club was seriously lacking in decorations aside from the usual graffiti and layers upon layers of flyers for shows that had long since passed except for one, lonely decoration above the bar:   A solitary movie poster for May.

It used to give me goosebumps the few times I walked in the place because this movie freaks the hell out of me.

(…And that’s my useless story, but I think it illustrates how damn creepy this movie is.)

We’ll start behind the cut; be forewarned of blood and nastiness ahead.


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Guys, I’m scared.

Gremlins scared the everloving hell out of me as a kid. I was terrified of them; I used to take long, flying leaps into my bed at night for fear that the gremlins I imagined under my bed would come out and eat me or something. I rarely dream, but when I was a kid I remember having Gremlins-related nightmares every so often.

Laugh all you want – this movie was scary as all get out to me. I know everyone else loves it, but it’s terrifying!

Come on, really. A guy named Billy gets a nice, sweet, innocent looking creature for Christmas from his semi-crazy daddy. Billy can’t even follow the stupid care rules correctly: no bright light/sunlight; no feeding them after midnight; no exposure to water.

This…thing…is not cute. That is horrifying. Horrifying and awful.

What happens when you get a gremlin wet?

IT SPAWNS MORE OF THEM. I shudder, y’all, I shudder.

And what the hell happens when you’re idiotic enough to feed a gremlin after midnight?

It’s like the CHRISTMAS PRESENT FROM HELL. You get something nice and fluffy and it mutates into something horribly, horribly wrong. Steven Spielberg, what the hell?! This was the part that really got me as a kid; seeing the disgusting egg sac things and watching the evil Gremlins hatch was too much for an eight year old Caitlin to bear.


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I was really mystified when this landed in my hands from Netflix. Then I realized why I’d received it – I hadn’t done my normal Netflix reshuffling and this had worked its way up to the top of the queue.

I had always meant to watch Michael Collins again. I saw it a few years ago and left it feeling that it was a decent film but not feeling like I wanted to watch it again any time soon, considering it made me cry buckets of tears (which is difficult to make me do, and I have only now remembered my lengthy, post-Michael Collins crying session).

Making a movie about Michael Collins would be difficult, one should think, given the gravity of the time and place in which Collins lived, and the kind of life Collins led. It certainly didn’t stop them from making one, though.

By all accounts, Collins was a pretty fearsome guy. From Wikipedia:

In retrospect, the sheer scale of Collins’ workload and his achievements are substantial. He created a special assassination squad called The Twelve Apostles designed to kill British agents; arranged the “National Loan”; organised the IRA; effectively led the government when [Eamon] de Valera travelled to and remained in the United States for an extended period of time; and managed an arms-smuggling operation.

Damn, dude.  All judgments aside, that’s a lot to do, especially when you take into consideration that Collins was shot and killed when he was 31. Of course, this movie benefits from having Liam Neeson in it, if we’re taking my pure shallowness into consideration. And believe me, Mr. Neeson is smoking hot in this one, but I had forgotten that my arch-nemesis was in this movie.


In a movie chock filled with every semi-known Irish actor you can think of for the time, including Neeson, Brendan Gleeson, Stephen Rea, Aidan Quinn and lots of other people, Julia Roberts was the best choice to play Kitty Kiernan, the love interest for both Harry Boland (Aidan Quinn) and Michael Collins?

No, really?

It’s not that I detest Julia Roberts; I just got really, sickeningly tired of her a long time ago and she doesn’t do much to hold anyone’s interest in this movie. She’s just sort of there, like a robot helping to move the film along bit by bit.

As far as sheer movie-making goes, it’s a very well-done film from the standpoint of ignoring the history bits. It starts out in 1916 during the Easter Rising and travels all the way to Collins’ assassination, thereby skipping the early life of Michael Collins and picking up pretty much where he starts doing all those big things he’s still remembered for. Neil Jordan, the director, pulls the right strings appropriately to get your emotions going in a very deft way. The acting doesn’t really need any comment as I’m sure you can assume everyone’s spot on, which they are. Besides Julia Roberts, the only sore spot is the way Alan Rickman speaks as Eamon de Valera, which is slow and stilting. You’re always anticipating the next syllable to come out of his mouth. It’s extremely irritating, and I think the film kind of portrays de Valera as a schemer and a slow, conservative man who’s not quite as righteous nor as forward thinking as Collins. In essence, the film plays up Collins but even more plays down de Valera. Whether or not this is historically accurate, I can’t honestly say – but it does feel like de Valera’s made a little awkwardly villainous to accentuate or highlight more positive elements of Collins’ character.

And, at the very least, Michael Collins did remind me of why I scowl a little when I initially see Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS KILLED LIAM NEESON, YOU GUYS. Nowadays, I just look at him and think, “Really? Joe from Bend It Like Beckham was the guy that took down Michael Collins? Runs like a girl? Wore makeup in Velvet Goldmine? He’s supposed to be hardcore enough to shoot Michael Collins?”


For what it’s worth, it’s a good movie in my opinion that is interesting. It does kind of canonize Collins and portrays him as so heroic in a way that makes you wonder if you’re getting the whole story (and surely not everyone finds Michael Collins to be how the film portrays him).  However, it is entertaining but extremely depressing. For God’s sakes, I may never be able to watch anything with Stephen Rea ever again without crying.

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Robert Mitchum is seriously one of my favorite actors of all time. I don’t know why Mitchum doesn’t get the acclaim he so rightly deserves. I often feel like Mitchum gets relegated to the second string behind guys like Jimmy Stewart and others of his generation and it’s always puzzled me. Mitchum played a variety of characters and he always a had a certain cinematic presence that I felt guys like Stewart didn’t have. Not to say Jimmy Stewart didn’t have screen presence, but Robert Mitchum always felt like he could come directly off the screen to kick your ass all while being perfectly pleasant about it.

So, it’s really no surprise that Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is one of my favorite movies of all time.

The basic story is that Cpl. Allison (Robert MItchum) washes ashore on what he believes is a deserted island, but discovers one inhabitant – the good-natured Sister Angela.   Sister Angela is thrilled to have another companion, but Allison is apprehensive at first.   It’s his luck, he claims, that he’d wash up on the one island that has a nun only on it – and a pretty one at that.

Then the Japanese decide to pay a visit to the island and Allison and Angela’s story becomes less about learning to cohabitate and more about survival.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison is a really sweet story.  The two main characters alternately must fight off attractions to one another, mainly centering around the fact that Angela is a nun, and therefore, unlikely to settle down with a guy anytime soon.  But mainly, Mitchum and Deborah Kerr flow through their scenes so effortlessly that it’s a joy to watch.   The entire movie hinges on them. They’re the sole inhabitants of the island (until the Japanese show up) so it’s necessary that they make it through the movie convincingly and they do.   Robert MItchum in particular is stellar as the rough Corporal Allison, and it’s one of his finest movie roles.

The movie’s touching without ever overdoing it and it’s got a strong story behind it with great direction.   What makes it really stand out is just the fact that you never get tired of Allison or Sister Angela when the entire movie rests on them.

This movie is primarily why I feel MItchum always gets screwed on the recognition he so rightly deserves; it’s a movie I’ve suggested to others many, many a time and I’m usually always met with a blank stare – at least until someone watches it and then returns to tell me, “Hey, that was awesome!”

Awesome, indeed.

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Barefoot in the Park tells the story of two people who get married who are vastly different – one is a free spirit while the other is straight-laced as can be – who try and make their marriage work as best they can while still coming to an understanding of what marriage involves as well as a better understanding of the other spouse.  Living in a fifth-floor apartment in Manhattan which has the world’s longest flights of stairs and that’s practically falling down around their ears with some very eccentric neighbors certainly doesn’t help the situation they find themselves in.

It’s by Neil Simon, who I’m not an enormous fan of, but I re-rented this because, well, I liked it the first time I saw it.   By now, I don’t think it should be an enormous surprise to anyone that I’m not an extreme fan of romantic comedies (I think the only “romantic” movie I own is probably Hope Floats, unless you woke up with a concussion this morning and view Predator as being “romantic”).   But I like this movie.

I still like it, even watching it ten or so years later.   The direction’s good; Robert Redford is (a) smoking hot and (b) fantastically fantastic in this.   All of the supporting cast are wonderful, especially one of the in-laws.   The film’s good.   It’s got a great ending.   I’d rewatch it…except…

Jane Fonda.

It’s like some sort of switch flipped in my brain somewhere along the way in between viewings and I didn’t notice.   What caused this?  Maybe I got sick of Jane Fonda.   Maybe I had a traumatic head injury.   Maybe I was abducted by aliens.    I’m going to go with the whole “abducted by aliens” thing, because maybe then I could at least get a book deal out of it.   But Jane Fonda makes me grit my teeth all the way through this movie.  As Corie, Redford’s wife, she plays her role in a very perky, overexcited fashion.   Not that the character of Corie’s not written to be flighty and a little neurotic, because she is.   Fonda, however, plays her as so exuberant and excitable that it makes me start developing that twitch in the corner of my eye that I can’t stop.

Really, the movie’s worth it to see just for Robert Redford.   He takes what could’ve been a very bland character and even in his humdrum normalcy gives it a lot of life and a lot more depth than I think somebody else would have.   And it’s good to see this one for the supporting cast.

Just make sure you bring your mouthguard for Fonda.   God.

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If you were a noted film and television actor in the 1970’s, please raise your hand if you were not in an Irwin Allen film.

Are those crickets I hear?

The Towering Inferno is one of those great ’70’s disaster films that’s jam packed with everyone and their dog that was remotely famous. The movie’s got Paul Newman, Fred Astaire (…the hell?), O.J. Simpson (!), Steve McQueen, Richard Chamberlain and seventy thousand other character actors shoved into it.

In San Francisco, the world’s largest ever skyscraper is being unveiled, and on the night of the dedication the architect of the building (Paul Newman) discovers the electrical wiring isn’t up to specification and could cause massive fires all over the building. The people running the show fail to heed Paul Newman’s words, however, and soon fires are raging all over the building while 300 people party up on the top floor of The Glass Tower.

The Towering Inferno is an awesome slice of ’70’s cheese. It was made by the same guy who did The Poseidon Adventure and it features a constant gravitas-off (TM The Colbert Report) between Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. Between featuring styrofoam staircases blowing up, highly improbable fires, bad dialogue and hilariously awful acting (oh, Richard Chamberlain!) it’s a movie that probably wasn’t even considered “good” at the time. Steve McQueen’s cranky, hard-as-nails police chief is a hoot and seeing O.J. Simpson as a security guard rescuing cats is so unintentionally comical years later…

This is a long, long movie. At well over two hours and thirty minutes, it can seriously try your patience at times. Did the editor step out for long, long coffee breaks? I don’t know, but there’s so many subplots in the movie, you really don’t care about a lot of the characters, and really, that’s not the point of the movie; the point is the INFERNO 100 billion stories above the ground. The heavy-handed theme of “man shouldn’t build stuff so damn high” hammers you over the head so much that it only adds to the hilarious cheese factor.

Steve McQueen and Paul Newman make this movie happen.

Period, end of story.

I hope they never, ever remake it.

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I should preface this by saying that I hate Uwe Boll’s movies. (This is probably not an unpopular opinion among movie buffs.) I’ve sat through at least four of his movies, trying desperately to find something redeeming in the hot messes he makes, but so far, I haven’t found much.

In the comments in an earlier post there was a small discussion between me and The Best Haiku Writer Ever, also known as andrew, about Uwe Boll’s movies wherein it occurred to me via another commenter that not everyone was aware of the horrific nature of this man’s movies.

Uwe Boll is a German filmmaker/producer who uses German tax shelters in order to make his movie. From The All-Knowing Wikipedia:

Boll is able to acquire funding thanks to German tax laws that reward investments in film. The law allows investors in German-owned films to write off 100% of their investment as a tax deduction; it also allows them to invest borrowed money and write off any fees associated with the loan. The investor is then only required to pay taxes on the profits made by the movie; if the movie loses money, the investor gets a tax writeoff.

Germany, your contributions to cinema have been duly noted.

Boll usually prefers to make adaptations of video games, like the movie I have just watched. In short, I’m not sure that Boll actually puts anything but half-assed effort into his movies. I’m not sure how in the world he keeps on doing what he’s doing, but he manages. His movies have terrible acting, horrific directions, plots and scripts so shoddy they just should have been reworked about eighty times before anyone decided to put them to celluloid; what disturbs me most is that the man takes something that could be theoretically decent and somehow screws it up. I never get the feeling Uwe Boll loves movies or even thinks he should have to work hard at making a decent film. In short, his movies piss me off because they’re mediocre pieces of crap that he is content to continue to unleash upon the public. None of his movies have improved; in fact, House of the Dead is probably one of the better movies I’ve seen that he’s done — sadly.


So here we go, through House of the Dead.


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Oh my god, this movie is a thousand kinds of bad.   There’s nothing good-bad about it, either.


Okay, first of all, I want to ask Gabriel Byrne one question and one question only:  “Why were you in this remarkable piece of crap?”     Oh, Gabriel.   You and those pretty blue eyes are capable of so much better.

Point of No Return is a remake of a much finer French film, La Femme Nikita.   The basic plot is that Bridget Fonda plays a Nina-Simone obsessed junkie who is in a robbery gone wrong and she manages to receive the death penalty for her role in it.   The execution is faked and instead the government trains her up as an assassin.   Needless to say, Bridget Fonda’s character is not entirely thrilled about this whole turn of events.

This film feature one of the most hilarious execution scenes ever put to film.  Not only is the execution chamber highly stylized, Bridget Fonda’s face is classic.  It’s like she’s having a lobotomy instead of lethal injection and afterwards promptly pees all over herself.

Bridget Fonda’s  acting is atrocious in this.  Not only is it hard to believe she’s a junkie, it’s hard to believe anything other than the fact that she’s a whiny little snot at every turn of the movie.    She rages with almost pre-teen angst through all of her training, where it’s pretty obvious Gabriel Byrne isn’t trying to down Jameson’s in between sessions and backhanding her alternately.    Watching her efforts at being “frustrated” is like watching a child try and paint Rembrandt.   It’s hard to conceive that her boyfriend, played by a very scruffy, hobo looking Dermot Mulroney, wants anything to do with her, but somehow, he does.

After she completes her training, Bridget Fonda’s character, who is now known as Claudia, is sent to Venice, California as a home base.   We know this because we get some cracktastic montages of people rollerblading and lifting weights in the most hideous spandex day-glo outfits imaginable.

Needless to say,  Hobo Dermot Mulroney begins to get very suspicious.   She doesn’t seem to work a lot for someone in “sales” and she gets all these whacked out phone calls where she has to just up and leave.   For someone who’s a super-stealthy assassin, Claudia’s not very convincing at making excuses to leave to go kill some people.

Claudia now has to juggle her “regular” life with her “assassin” life and figure out a way to make the two balance.   I could imagine how shooting people in the head with sniper rifles as your day job would conflict with being a nine-to-five sorta person and having a wretched looking hobo for a boyfriend.   So there’s lots of drama.

I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, I don’t think you should want to throw something large and heavy at a main character that is supposed to be sympathetic.   Or wonder why Gabriel Byrne took this role in the first place.   Or wondering if Mr. Byrne saw the final product and promptly drank himself into a years long stupor.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

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