Korean filmmaker Kim played with the Western genre before in his wacky 2008 pastiche The Good the Bad the Weird, and this film is just as chaotically uneven, mixing cartoon-style silliness with grisly violence. But the high-energy approach holds our interest, as does Schwarzenegger's immense screen presence in his first starring role since his political career. The film is far too jumbled to hold together, but its sardonic sense of humour makes it a decent guilty pleasure.
Arnie plays Sheriff Owens, who has a quiet routine in his sleepy Arizona-Mexico border town. So when a stranger (Stormare) appears, he sends his deputies (Alexander and Gilford) to investigate. Things get violent quickly, so he deputises a drunken veteran (Santoro) and a moronic gun-nut (Knoxville) to work alongside another deputy (Guzman). What he doesn't yet know is that the baddies are part of an elaborate plan to help a drug kingpin (Noriega) escape from a Law Vegas FBI Agent (Whitaker) and cross the border to freedom in Mexico.
The whizzy plot actually has promise as a straightforward action movie, but Kim throws so much nuttiness at the screen that we can't take anything seriously. The story zings from set-piece to set-piece without much concern for credibility or coherence. It's all very cool, especially the baddie's glimmering, super-fast prototype Corvette, which travels "faster than a chopper" on isolated country roads that are improbably smooth. And his climactic plan to get over the border is astonishingly silly, but played dead straight.
Continue reading: The Last Stand Review
Cheyenne is a soft-spoken, retired rockstar still wearing make-up and hairspray whilst living in Dublin and has been estranged from his Jewish father for 30 years. When he discovers that his father is dying in New York, he is determined to set out to put things right with him, but his journey is delayed by Cheyenne's aversion to flying; when he finally makes his way over, he is too late to see his father alive for the final time. He learns that his father was a victim of persecution in Auschwitz during the Holocaust of World War II and that he was once made to suffer public humiliation by the Nazi officer Aloise Muller. In a last bid to make peace with his father, Cheyenne sets out to kill Muller (who is currently hiding out in the States) whilst meeting several people along the way, including members of Muller's family. When he is finally led to Muller, he finds himself confronted with a difficult decision as he listens to his story and, eventually, he manages to mark out a new chapter in his retired life.
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Ray Owens is a police sheriff whose major crime fighting days are all but over when he swaps his job in the LAPD combating drug crimes for the much less strenuous post in the quite town of Sommerton Junction on the Mexican border, after a botched drugs operation left him feeling defeated when his friend and colleague ended up crippled. His comfort in his new post is challenged all too soon when the most formidable drug tycoon in the western world, Gabriel Cortez, slips from the clutches of the FBI. Cortez and his ruthless army head towards the Mexican border in Sommerton Junction at 250 miles per hour in a deadly modified Corvette ZR1 with a hostage, mercilessly shooting at the police officers attempting to arrest them and easily sweeping police cars out of their way. They are pursued by the entire law enforcement of America led by Agent John Bannister, though Owens is unwilling to bring his team into the fight at first, feeling not the officer he used to be. His reluctance becomes irrelevant anyway when he is told to take a backseat due to the lack of experience of his team; however Owens soon changes his mind and bands his modest taskforce together to forcibly take on the fierce drug gang themselves.
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Rango is a chameleon who isn't particularly content living the life of the general chameleon, he sees himself as more of a hero figure, striving to protect those who need him; but when he finds himself in a western town called Dirt, Rango must start playing the role he's always dreamt of fulfilling, but once he's faced by bandits will he be able to keep up the charade?
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The pugilistic script is based on one of those fascinatingly ugly crime stories that come rocketing out of Southern California every now and again, to much clucking of tongues over wayward and rudderless youth. Following the sad state of events that leads a drug dealer to kidnap the younger brother of a client who owes him money, as a means of extracting said payment, the film traces how the kidnapped teenager (a momma's boy who yearns for rebellion) develops a horribly overwrought case of Stockholm Syndrome, earnestly believing he's just having a good time with the dealer's hard-partying friends. In fact, while the kids party like it's 1999 (the year the kidnapping actually took place), imbibing copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, the dealer, Johnny (Emile Hirsch, like an evil version of Turtle from Entourage) is panicking, having realized what he's gotten himself into.
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The notorious David Lynch has always held a rather slippery grip on narrative construction and a rather absent grasp on convention. At last we left him, his surreal dreamscape was the city of L.A. and a pair of lesbian lovers who may or may not have broken up because of a brash film director, and that's just the peripheral story. Mulholland Drive was Lynch at his very best, using Los Angeles as a canvas to purge all his hallucinatory digressions and woozy dreams into a noir-tinged love story. Lynch now returns to L.A. once again for Inland Empire, a 180-minute, digitally-shot nightmare that culls together the absolute worst attributes of Lynch and his personal style.
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For a movie about a wild man, Born into This is awfully tame. Director John Dullaghan does a commendable job of chronicling his subject's life, using Bukowski's various novels and poems as portals into his life experiences, but Dullaghan never challenges the audience to determine exactly what to make of Bukowski, either as a human or as a writer. Was he a misogynist or a sage? Is it possible to be both? What is his literary legacy? Why don't universities typically teach Bukowski? Do English professors know something the rest of us don't?
Continue reading: Bukowski: Born Into This Review
Wild at Heart was puzzling, because it was screwed up and it was hard to figure out why. Time - and, 14 years later, the DVD release - helps to clear up that central enigma. Based very loosely on Barry Gifford's novel, this manic, Southern Gothic road movie now seems too deliberately weird. And in retrospect the cause seems to be that its creator, a strange man if the available evidence of his films is to be believed, and one who then was only recently revered as a certain type of genius, was trying so hard just to be himself.
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The film is largely a platform for odd soliloquies from its odd cast members, and even the strangest among them seem to have trouble spouting off their improbable lines. Suzy Amis is particularly awful in one of her first starring roles. You might amuse yourself instead by watching for appearances from Tim Robbins, William S. Burroughs, and a few other notables. Director Michael Almereyda is clearly working on a budget of pennies here, and though he makes the most of it, the movie can't help but look pretty cheap. Characters come and go willy-nilly, the camera doesn't seem to move much, and the film's lame synth-driven music feels more like 1980 instead of 1990.
Continue reading: Twister (1990) Review
"The Green Mile" begins with a little deja vu. Like Tom Hanks' last mid-Century, Oscar-baiting drama, "Saving Private Ryan," it's bookended by a modern framework that finds an old man reluctantly reminiscing about a difficult year of his life, more than half a century ago.
Because of the familiar faces and the similar prestige posturing, this platitudinous structure invites a little eye-rolling as Dabbs Greer (Reverend Alden on "Little House On the Prairie"), playing the aged Hanks, begins to spin what becomes an engrossing three-hour yarn about a year of extraordinary horrors and miracles on death row in a Louisiana state penitentiary.
Hanks plays prison guard Paul Edgecomb, an unjaded joe in charge of death row who treats people on both sides of the bars with humanity and civility. Set in 1935, the central story opens with the arrival of a kindly colossus of a condemned killer named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan).
Continue reading: The Green Mile Review
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