Renaldo Matlin

IMDb member since May 1999
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Derrick: Toter Goldfisch
Episode 4, Season 12

Sensationally well written and directed "Derrick"-episode!
Just saw this episode on DVD and was blown away. I'm a lifelong fan of "Derrick" living in Norway, and I enjoy even the most boring and lifeless episodes of the show, but "Toter Goldfisch" is one of the most incredible pieces of TV drama I have ever seen! Herbert Reinecker who wrote every single episode of the show (281 episodes!) really outdid himself with this one. No spoilers but it starts with the suicide of a wealthy woman who was exploited by a swindler and fortune hunter, but since it technically wasn't "murder", Derrick and Klein can't investigate. What follows is the story of the young con artist, his partner in crime (who is also his lover), their next victim - a woman 25 years his senior - and finally: MURDER. I won't get into details, but the story creeps under your skin with an ensemble of believable and tragic characters, which eventually leads to an incredibly emotional and gut-wrenching finale. There are no winners in this realistically sad story, not even Stephan Derrick and Harry Klein, there can be only losers.

Out of the 281 Derrick-episodes made between 1974 and 1998, I would rank this in the all time top 10. It's one of the most well-written pieces of human drama and crime stories I have EVER seen on the small screen.

And here I thought Herbert Reinecker could only write stories about drug addicts and strippers. Boy was I wrong!

Death Line

Too lingering, but still good on atmosphere
Don't get me wrong. I love British horror movies, I'm a huge fan of Donald Pleasance and Christopher Lee (although the latter has nothing but a glorified cameo), but I don't feel this one lived up to its brilliant premise.

It starts off very promising, with a great title sequence, the first attack happens quickly and the mood is set within the first ten minutes. Then sadly the movie just sort of lingers, with several overlong sequences leading up to a finale that is merely okay. It could easily have been edited down with at least 10 minutes, and although I still found the end product mildly entertaining I can't help but think about the amazing potential it had. Pleasance as a police inspector facing cannibals living in the London underground? That alone sounds like the coolest British film ever made. Well sadly it's not.

A key factor when you want to create an effective horror film is to keep the threat constant, to have it sort of luring in the background in every scene. Well for me the monster(s) didn't seem threatening enough, as a matter of fact it came off more sympathetic than monstrous. So when the villain in a horror movie doesn't frighten you, what are we left with to scare us? The empty underground tunnels? Christopher Lee as an arrogant MI-5 operative? Not likely. It has some good effective gore though, I'll give it that.

There is some fun acting from Pleasance and the supporting cast (like Clive Swift of later "Keeping Up Appearances"-fame), but too many of the characters also seem a bit wasted as most of them have little if any effect on the main plot itself. After all the American student is the guy who actually makes an impact on the plot, the police itself is too busy drinking tea and harassing bartenders.

But I'm guessing the filmmakers were aware of what was missing when they released the film with false advertising and a poster that LIES.


The original vintage poster showed a whole group of cannibals, giving off the impression that we're in for some "living dead"-type horror action, where the threat is VERY real and dangerous. Instead we're treated to ONE single cannibal grieving his mate. Where the Heck is the scary HORROR? More than anything else I felt sorry for the poor cannibal, the last of his kind.

The film wins on atmosphere and that wonderful British quirkiness, but that's about it.


A nice little film about an industry of the past
It's a bit sad to think of all the great and unique industries of the past that just went the way of the dinosaurs and became extinct. This short documentary deals with one of those, the old-fashioned production of something we now take for granted; ICE! I saw the film here in Oslo a few weeks ago, and it was a beautifully shot and poignant presentation of a small pond with a cool (!) history.

Thanks to the film, this story of the past will now live on. Personally I think it's important to know your local history, so I'm hoping this is only the beginning in a long series of documentaries about the weird and fascinating stuff that has happened here in Oslo. The city is over a thousand years old, so there should be plenty to document! Did you hear me - you bureaucrats running the city - more movies like this!

Last of the Living

Unimaginative so-so zombie film, but a piece of warning to its filmmakers...
I'll admit it; the fun looking DVD cover fooled me into thinking I would love this. Well that and the fact that I normally worship anything with zombies and count George Romero as my God. Add on top of that the fact that "Last of the Living" was made in New Zealand, the country that brought us cult-classics "Braindead" and "Black Sheep" and I was soon hoping this could be one of those rare low budget zombie flicks with originality, real heart and soul.

Sadly I was mistaken.

Don't get me wrong. As far as low budget zombie romps go this is an OK time filler, but with a few major complaints: the characters are just plain uninteresting. With the exception of nerdy Ash the characters come off as paper-thin and downright boring. The film opens with scenes of 'Morgan' and for a while seem to focus on him as a type of "main" hero, which I couldn't get, since he seemed like a first-rate selfish prick, not to mention a bully to his friend Ash. Then there is the annoying soundtrack, a mix between public domain Apple software sound bytes and tripe rock music probably made by some friends of the director who he is doing his darnedest to promote here. The plot is so weak that not even a pimped up old Ford Cortina helps, although I'm sure the idea of such a car seemed awesome on paper.

However, for some reason the shoddy directing, cinematography and overall production quality seem to greatly improve in the last 20 minutes. The film suddenly goes from slow-moving to fast-paced, even including some charming scene transitions! What happened there? Was it the sudden increase of an extra 40,000 dollars in the budget that the IMDb trivia talks about???

One piece of warning to the people behind "Last of the Living": It's impossible not to notice a tag line on the DVD comparing it to "Shaun of the Dead". Woha, big mistake! By doing so you are automatically setting yourself up for one hell of a beating, and some helpful advice to the filmmakers: you won't gain any fans when you start off by insulting the greatest zombie comedy ever made! Where "Shaun" was laced with originality, first-rate acting, inspired directing and classic comedy moments, "Last of the Living" is dominated by an unoriginal plot (if you can call it a plot), so-so acting, average-at-best directing and only a couple laugh-out-loud moments (which both include fart jokes).

But again, meh... being a sucker for zombie movies in general I'll give it 4 out of 10 stars thanks to the last 20 minutes and at least one credible performance from Ashleigh Southam as 'Ash' (but Bruce Campbell he ain't).

Max Manus

A candidate for the title "best Norwegian film ever made"?
I'm not sure where to start but my anticipations for this film were sky-high, and boy were my prayers answered! I have difficulty seeing how the story of Norwegian resistance fighter Max Manus could be told in any other way. The friendship in the tight-knit group of saboteurs and resistance fighters in Nazi-occupied Oslo is portrayed with great warmth, comedy and boyish charm (most of these guys were basically just kids!), and the original and very special relationship between Max and his future wife Tikken is both credible and beautiful. Together with some intense action-scenes this all makes for a great WW2-film that takes you through every emotion.

Almost refreshingly it's told in a straightforward manner, none of those new fashionable gimmicks where a storyline is suddenly turned on its head just for cheap effect. The fact that this film is very close to reality - according to both Manus' widow Tikken and Gunnar Sønsteby, one of the legendary resistance fighters portrayed in the film - makes this even more fascinating.

An honest sweeping war drama deeply rooted in reality and history, that should interest any fan of WW2-stories, anywhere in the world.

And why watch fictional heroes like gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius when you can enjoy real life ones like Maximo Guillermo Manus? :)

Who the Hell Is Bobby Roos?

Ten stars to Kabler's fantastic performance!
This is a true gem of a film. A *very* low budget comedy/drama with real life comedian Roger Kabler portraying a character much like himself, a somewhat successful stand-up comedian and impersonator who came close to the big breakthrough but just barely fell short (he was on Leno, Arsenio etc back in the day). When you're aware of this fact, Kabler's performance becomes even more poignant and touching, and when watching his talent unfold in this one-man-show of a movie, it really seems extremely unfair he hasn't found the same success like so many lesser talented colleagues.

In all seriousness, Kabler's performance is worthy of an Oscar nomination. The story is gripping all the way, but again mainly thanks to Kabler's hypnotic performance that quickly absorbs the viewer.

The only downsides are John Feldman's direction, which could have been better, the same goes for the editing.

This isn't enough to ruin the experience though, far from it, because again: at the center stands Roger Kabler as Bobby Roos, delivering one of the finest acting performances I have seen in a long time. I can only begin to imagine what a breakthrough he would have gotten if the film had greater production value, which would have helped give this a serious run in theaters.

At times funny, at times sad, it offers some truly great scenes. One of my favorites is the one where his De Niro-worshipping girlfriend wakes up in bed, only to find Bobby right next to her revealing for the first time an impersonation she has never seen before. What follows is laugh-out-loud funny but at the same time gut-wrenching.

Highly recommended if you're a fan of comic impersonators or some of the actors Kabler mimics in this film (especially Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Richard Dreyfuss and Peter Falk). Also a must if you want to experience something you don't see very often: a low budget film carried by a first-rate acting performance.

St. Ives

Nice change of pace, great fun for any true Bronson-fan!
I've been a big Bronson-fan for as long as I can remember, and I saw "St. Ives" on TV some years back and was always left with the impression that it was sorta dull, all though offering a nice change of pace for old Charlie. Now out on DVD I still had to order it though, as I pride myself on having *every* Bronson-film available in my collection. I am really happy to say that watching it again was a really wonderful surprise! I'll blame my stupid youth for not appreciating this movie as much back in my late teens because "St. Ives" isn't dull. Sure, it doesn't include all the normal action scenes one has come to expect from a Bronson picture, but it includes just about everything else lacking in his later action movies: great wit, humor, style and unexpected plot-twists and turns right up until the very end! To top it all off it is one of the best scored Bronson-films, with a wonderful soundtrack by Lalo Schifrin. Oh and just so you know; despite the low amount of action scenes, the body count DOES get alarmingly high before the end credits.

It also has a truly excellent cast supporting Bronson. To mention a few: Academy Award winning veteran John Houseman, one of the sexiest stars of the 1970's Jacqueline Bisset, Dana Elcar (Pete Thornton in "MacGyver"), Academy Award winner Maximilian Schell, the lovable Elisha Cook Jr, Michael Lerner, Dick O'Neill (Sharon Gless' memorable dad Charlie in "Cagney & Lacey"), Daniel J. Travanti (the star of "Hill St. Blues") and my favorite supports, the wonderful character actors Harry Guardino and Harris Yulin as police detectives. On top of this you get young versions of Robert Englund and Jeff Goldblum as hoods fighting it out with Charlie!

I also found myself laughing more than I normally do watching Bronson-movies, as "St. Ives" has several funny moments. My favorite one probably being the dinner/confrontation scene with Val Bisoglio.

If you are a *true* Bronson-fan you'll really enjoy old Charlie in this one!

The Interpreter

It lived up to my expectations
First of all, it would seem impossible to go wrong with this: you have Sydney Pollack at the helm, the blessings from the United Nations to actually shoot INSIDE the UN building itself (with several key scenes taking place in the general assembly room), all shot on location in the Big Apple, and to top it all off you have the best actress and actor of their generation in the lead! The result is a solid thriller, well sewn together, and veteran director Pollack wraps it all up weary neatly, with no loose ends. Just like he did with other thrillers like the masterful "Three Days of the Condor" and the entertaining "The Firm." I'm not saying "The Interpreter" is on level with those two, but it *is* an entertaining and thrilling two hours (especially a scene involving a bus is quite tense).

In the end I was really left with just one quibble: as things developed the ending really came as no big surprise. Still, that said: it's a political thriller directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn. What more could one really wish for?

Columbo: Murder with Too Many Notes
Episode 4, Season 13

Michael Kamen - The Killer!
It's always nice to see old heroes still up to par catching the bad-guys, and Peter Falk's lovable Columbo-character surely is one of the biggest heroes from the annals of television history. Here, well into his 70's, Falk is still in good form donning his trench-coat 32 years (!) after his character made his debut.

This time he is called in to investigate the apparent suicide of a young man who worked as an apprentice for an Academy Award winning film-composer. And so, enter Billy Connolly as the star-composer and murderer (naturally this isn't a spoiler as the whole successful premise of Columbo is showing the killer commit his crime, before rejoicing in the police lieutenant closing in on his unsuspecting adversary). Popular Scottish comedian Connelly is the spitting image of star composer Michael Kamen, with his trademark goatee beard and long hair, so much that I wondered whether he was cast for this part as some sick business in-joke. Still, it works great, and Connelly's gleeful reaction when being caught has to go down in history as one of the funniest ones in Columbo-history.

Sadly Michael Kamen himself never won an Oscar before his untimely death in 2003, but I hope he caught this episode of Columbo, as he probably would get a kick out it.


Dismembered plot
The Korean film-industry is without a doubt one of the most interesting and fun to watch in the world today. Titles like the haunting and oddly fascinating "Salinui chueok" (Memories of Murder) and the half-cool/half-turkey "Tube" spring to mind. You never really know what you'll get when you sit down to watch a South Korean film today, but "Tell Me Something" is an example of a movie that has a lot of things going for it but in the end leaves you more confused than satisfied.

Now I rarely have a hard time following the plot of a serial-killer movie (of recent ones I found the US thriller "Taking Lives" an insult to my intelligence as I could figure out it's every move a mile away), but "Tell Me Something" demands a lot from it's viewer. I suspect the language barrier is partly to blame, as I got the feeling some clues must have been left out in the subtitles, but the director obviously could have done a better job. I give him an A+ for it's grisly, stylish look but an F for his lack of explaining several loose ends in the plot.

The main problem is that he loads the film with tons of information but doesn't know how to treat it all. The viewer is almost drowned in clues handed out seemingly at random, leaving it an impossible task for us to try and figure out the killer, which is half the fun in movies like these.

It's really ironic how a movie about dismembered victims, it-self is told in such a dismembered fashion.

I give "Tell Me Something" a 6.5 out of 10 for it's gory, stylish execution. A fun, but not too original, soundtrack also adds to the entertainment value.

D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear

The shocking case of the so-called "Beltway sniper" is dramatized in such a manner that you never really feel too connected to any of the main characters, but you do get a sense of the urgency for the investigators and the indescribable horror it must have been for the people in the area.

In the case of 'Charles Moose' (Charles S. Dutton) I wish we could have gotten more under the skin of this very complex and fascinating chief of police. In real life, I remember watching him deliver all those press-conferences when it all happened, and how he gave an impression of being a very dedicated law-officer who truly lived up to the line "to protect and serve". Naturally I therefore hoped this film would give a better understanding of what makes this man tick, but it didn't really. This is no fault on Charles S. Dutton, a very fine actor, but more on the writers.

On the other hand, the fact that we never get to know what makes the main characters act as they do, makes the portrayal of the two snipers even scarier. It's like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", the movie ends without us knowing what triggered all the bird attacks, and the fact that we don't get the answers we so desperately seek, add to the horror. Especially when the crimes in question are so horrific as they are here. Here we have two human-beings who really act like the world was their personal playground and the taking of human lives nothing worse than the actions in a video game. We will probably never get any real answer from the "lead" sniper John Allen Muhammad, as he was sentenced to death earlier this year, and considering the horror he bestowed upon America, it is not likely he will spend time on death row long enough to help give us an answer to the mystery.

This movie dramatizes these perverse killings and it's grand-scale investigation in a straight-forward-manner that works, mostly thanks to the fact that this case is so dramatic to begin with that the film-makers really couldn't mess it up in the first place. As a matter of fact it is so harrowing that the movie itself leaves the viewer more disturbed than "entertained".

Nice world we live in, huh?

The Whole Ten Yards

From Franchise Pictures, the modern day Cannon Group
I feel like quoting Matthew Perry from this very movie: "I've never been more confused in my entire life!"

Is there really a story in here? Not a story, I mean a STORY, you know, the kind that makes people go "wow, I never saw that one coming," or "haha, how original!" How they decided to make a sequel to a movie that never did that well in the first place I will never know, at least not with these stars! The original made only like 60 million in the US, and felt more like a made-for-TV-comedy than anything else. Is this anywhere near a Bruce Willis-vehicle? It sure as heck feels and plays more like a Chevy Chase-comedy, and I don't mean early Chase (which I love) but more of what he did in his fifties, "Cops and Robbersons" and stuff like that. THIS IS NOT BIG BOX OFFICE MATERIAL FOR THE YEAR 2004! Like "Best Defense" with Dudley Moore and Eddie Murphy was not box office material in 1984!

Is it totally bereft of entertainment value? Of course not, it has it's funny moments, but it is just so... ordinary, so darn average, like "Full House" on a Monday night line-up of "Seinfeld" and "Frasier", like a meat ball when you should be having steak, oh I don't know how else to explain it. Matthew Perry is a wonderful comic actor, in my opinion he's closing in on the great ones, like Danny Kaye and Jerry Lewis, but he can run into doors and fall flat on his back only so many times before it looses it's effect. He had one of the greatest running-into-doors-scenes in the history of actors-running-into-things in "The Whole Nine Yards" (when he hits that glass door, hilarious!), but here it is done so many times it just ends up as a cheap reminder of what thin material they were working with.

There is however two memorable moments of "The Whole TEN Yards": one hysterically funny scene between Willis and Perry getting dead drunk in a bar (followed by the waking-up-scene next morning), and Frank Collison as 'Strabo', one of the villains who ironically I found both funnier and more likable than the heroes! Kevin Pollak, who can be one of the funniest men in the business when given the right material tries to do a Peter Sellers-thing here, under heavy make-up as an old mob boss who has trouble with the English language and slaps whoever tries to point this out. This time around Pollak tries so hard it basically falls flat, like Perry when he crashes into his surroundings (but Pollak will always have a special place in my heart for his brilliant Peter Falk-impersonation, maybe he should have done that here, it could have saved the entire movie).

To add insult to injury the movie is riddled with continuity errors and most of them so painfully obvious they are impossible to hide in post-production. It makes you wonder if they even had a script-girl on the set!

Who is to blame for all these short-comings? That's easy to answer: the combination of a scriptwriter who doesn't own an original bone in his body, has no talent for true comedy, and a director who hasn't done a good comedy-picture since the 1980's. Part is to blame also on the production company Franchise Pictures, who are sailing up like a modern-day Cannon Group (everybody who remembers the 80's sure remember that Cannon-logo). Take a look at Franchise Pictures' list of films, it's like 1 good film for every 3 mediocre ones (and yes, they were the ones who produced "Battlefield Earth"). But I'm also a little ambivalent when it comes to Franchise, as one if it's producers is Andrew Stevens, a likable guy and a former actor. I wish him all the success in the world, but please, find better production-talent.

Back to "The Whole Ten Yards": the worst thing about it, what also annoyed me to the point of screaming in the first movie, is that you just don't care! These characters have almost no re-deeming qualities what-so-ever. Sure, you can disguise Bruce Willis as a pampering housewife, crying over his dead chicken, or show Amanda Peet caring and wanting to save Natasha Henstridge from her captors, but what does all this matter when the same people run around threatening to kill each other every five minutes? Willis pulls a gun on his wife so many times I lost count (on his wife!!!), and Matthew Perry - who has one of the most likable personas in Hollywood - plays a dentist who, when one of his patients stop breathing, reacts by running off to lunch! It's like they are evil to the core and when this is supposed to be a "comedy" I'm tempted to ask: where is all the REAL fun???

Please, no more, no "The Whole Eleven Yards".


The Guns of Navarone

The Mother of all guys-on-a-mission-movie?
At least so it is considered by many, and has been for the last 40+ years. It sure has a well-constructed story and director J. Lee Thompson never looses sight of the characters amidst all the first-rate action-scenes. Personally however, I still rank it behind another Alistair MacLean-based film: "Where Eagles Dare".

That said, "The Guns of Navarone" is and will always remain one of the greatest examples of it's genre. Surprisingly enough; when I saw it as a kid I thought of it "only" as an adventure movie, but when I see it as an adult it comes of more as a serious war-picture, because despite the light comedy of David Niven (in one of his most memorable roles) this is a brutal picture, at times almost hard to swallow.

(MILD SPOILER, not regarding the ending)

The Germans come of quite sympathetic, especially compared to the "heroes" after they assassinate the films true victim-of-war because the person (with a background as a school-teacher) buckled under torture. When you have seen the scene you might say there was no other way, I say they could have used the same way on this person as they did to some Germans they tied up and gagged earlier in the film. When the people we are supposed to root for executes this person in cold blood it puts a damper on the rest of the movie. Sure, war IS Hell, and tough choices like this works in a number of movies, but here it is almost too much, and hits you straight in the face like a wet towel, at least in the manner it is told.

On top of this scene, Gregory Peck - the most sympathetic guy in Hollywood - even comes off as almost unsympathetic at times! At one key moment in the film Niven has had it and yells "to hell with the job! I've been on a hundred jobs and not one of them has altered the course of the war! I don't care about the war anymore, I care about Roy!" These feelings should hit close to home with most audience-members, as they have rarely been put in a life-or-death situation where you have to put all human emotions aside like Peck demands of his men. So when Niven later in the film actually apologizes to Peck for not being the cold-blooded killer he apparently wants him to be, it just feels entirely wrong! You should have told him to shove it where the sun don't shine, David.


These points adds somewhat of a damper on an otherwise solid picture I really loved as a kid, but find harder to truly enjoy as I grow older. Go figure.

This was supposed to be a user comment filled with praise, but given that this is one of the most praised-about and popular films from the 1960's I think it would have no problems withstanding my remarks, as it has stood the test of time and still is one of the greatest World War 2-movies ever made.

...tick... tick... tick...

Surprisingly good
Film-critic Leonard Maltin called this "a poor man's In the Heat of the Night", which sounds like an easy way to dismiss a movie that is actually quite good on it's own terms, and not really anywhere close "In the Heat of the Night" story-wise (except for the part of white southerners learning to respect a black man).

In my opinion, Jim Brown is one of the coolest athletes-turned-actors of his generation. Sure, he's no Sidney Poitier, but who is? Here he's given one of the best parts of his career, and he even gets great support from a number of wonderful actors, notably the legendary Fredric March, who chews the scenery as a quarrelsome old mayor and George Kennedy as the former sheriff (and I guess this movie's equivalent to Rod Steiger if Leonard Maltin had a say in it). Don Stroud (whatever happened to his career?) is creepy as a racist ex-deputy and any fan of Clifton James should get a kick out of his part, as a leading klan-member who in the end turns out to be one of the main characters in the plot, and not such a bad guy after all.

A surprisingly engaging movie, at times quite gripping, with inspired direction by Ralph Nelson and a show of force from a first-rate cast.


Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead

You watch it for the actors
This is one of those movies that came in the wake of "Reservoir Dogs" and "Pulp Fiction", with cool-looking people dressed in suits going around killing each other. Like many of these movies it has a beautiful cast but story-wise lacks just that little extra that would lift it from the Valley of Average Movies. Andy Garcia is a fine hero, Chris Walken is a wonderful villain and Gabrielle Anwar is a beautiful love-interest (even sporting a Norwegian name, Dagney!). But the only time there is any real zing and panache is when Walken does his thing, and whenever Treat Williams and Steve Buscemi are on-screen.

Williams gives a refreshing turn as 'Critical Bill', a man who thinks with his fists (you should see what he does at the mortuary where he works) and delivers such over-the-top lines like "I am Godzilla, you are Japaaan!" with great gusto. Buscemi is a cold-blooded hit-man who's willing to shoot you up the ass just so you can take an extra twenty minutes to die a most painful death. Yes, there is something rotten in the state of Colorado.

But director Gary Fleder doesn't manage to build any real tension, maybe because the story doesn't ring true. It goes off to a great start, with a dirty job that goes terribly wrong, but as the rest of the plot plays out it becomes evident that the only true climax of the movie was the above mentioned scene. The remaining hour is sadly predictable, and there are too many easy solutions plot-wise. "How did you find me?" asks one character who's gone underground to escape the wrath of 'The Man with the Plan' (Walken). Good question, I was wondering that very same thing! Of course the movie jump-cuts to the characters talking on another subject, thus by-passing tricky questions like that. Maybe the film-makers would argue that it isn't about these "small" things, but I disagree. This is all sand in the machinery and in the end it bogs down a cinematic journey that should have been great. But again you find yourself watching because of that classy cast.

Director Fleder of course, would go on to do greater things, such as "Kiss the Girls" and "Runaway Jury". Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg would go on and write "Con Air", "High Fidelity" and uhm... eh... "Kangaroo Jack", but that's besides the point.

In the end, "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" is all about style, great actors, and very little else. Oh, and I guess it's worth the price alone just to witness the scene where Treat Williams describes what it's like to eat s***.

I kid you not, he really does.


Raising Cain

Highly underrated fun for Hitchcock and De Palma-fans
You gotta' love Brian De Palma. Some of the most playful moments in modern American cinema has come from his cunning mind. Sure, half his movies are all about paying homage to Hitchcock, but he tributes the great master of suspense better than any other film-maker out there and more importantly; he manages to make these Hitchcockesque moments his own.

I don't know about the rest of the movie-geeks out there, but personally I would take a Hitchcock-wannabe any day over a, say, Spielberg or Leone-wannabe (two directors I worship by the way).

RAISING CAIN has fun referencing Hitchcock's PSYCHO as well as early De Palma-classics like SISTERS and DRESSED TO KILL. Though not on their level, RAISING CAIN *is* a neat little thriller with some pretty chilling moments (the love scene over the dying wife in the hospital, the nightmare, the finale, etc). Here he even copies a scene directly from PSYCHO (the car in the water) but then adding that little extra detail that makes the moment even more shocking.

This was a welcomed return back to horror-territory after the directors disappointing BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES and CASUALTIES OF WAR. Horror is Brian De Palma's genre, and messing with the audience's mind is his thing. He is the kind of guy who would take a scene between a psychiatrist and his patient talking over a table, and screw with your head just by placing a syringe in the same scene. The syringe, laying innocently on the table between them will keep you on your toes through the entire conversation, out of fear that the psycho any moment will go for the instrument and shove it into the doctors eye or something, or he just might not. Either way you can't loose. De Palma has the audience by the balls, so to speak.

Being from Norway myself there is added value knowing that the main bad-guy is a Norwegian. There haven't been lots of Norwegian creeps in American movies, but the few there are sure manage to make an impression, such as 'Gaear Grimsrud' (Peter Stormare) in FARGO or 'Lars Thorwald' (Raymond Burr) in Hitchcock's REAR WINDOW. Maybe it's the midnight sun or eating too much reindeer that is driving us loco, I don't know.

To sum it all up, RAISING CAIN is good, chilling fun, and the critics who dissed it all deserve to be kidnapped and taken to "a clinic outside Oslo".

'Allo 'Allo!

Childhood AND adult memories...
This show was a staple in Saturday night entertainment here in Norway from the mid 1980's and up into the late 1990's, and considering most of them were re-runs, I in the end felt almost persecuted by this show (would they EVER stop sending that show on Saturday??). It was funny but never THAT funny, or at least so I thought, because when I got into my twenties and the show vanished from Norwegian television - low and behold - I went and ordered the 3 first seasons of the internet! So I guess I was more addicted to it than I cared to admit at first :)

The basic idea of making fun of Nazis never seem to grow old, or in the case of this show: making fun of the Gestapo. The rest of the Germans come off as almost sympathetic and lovable at times, but I mean: how can anyone hate the closet-gay officer Lt. Gruber and his "little tank"? The show is really classic comedy, especially in the way that much of the laughs rely heavily on the fun of repeated catchphrases ("It is I, Leclerc!" - "Good moaning!" "Listen carefully, I shall say this only once" etc) and some truly crazy antics. It IS at times *very* funny and some of the goings-on in this German occupied French village really has to be seen to be believed!

One of my favorite characters is Officer Crabtree, a British undercover-agent posing as a French police-officer, which is quite impressive considering his French makes Inspector Closeau sound like a professor in linguistics. One of his lines that has followed me since I was about 14 was "The French pissants are hiding in the German shiteu" (you figure it out).

So there you have it, if you like the subject of WWII and British comedy "Allo Allo" should be your 'cap of toe' (as Officer Crabtree probably would call it).

The Desperate Hours

"Get out of my house!"
One is left to wonder whether Harrison Ford's line in "Air Force One" was inspired by the line Fredric March gives Humphrey Bogart in their first and only pairing on the big-screen. All-though "house" is not nearly the same setting as Ford's "plane" and three escaped convicts wouldn't be a match for Gary Oldman and a dozen terrorists, that is, unless the three are headed by Bogey himself. "The Desperate Hours" was the screen icon's second to last film, his last as a tough-guy, and he still could pack quite a wallop.

"The Desperate Hours" (re-made in a disappointing 1990-version that was all style and no substance) is a taut and brutal thriller that still manages to leave you on the edge of your seat, half a century later. Bogart plays the bad-guy who thinks he is on top of things, until he takes the perfect middle-class suburban family for hostage and finds his plans going haywire and his world slowly unraveling. Fredric March is terrific as his nemesis, the mild-mannered father of the house who is about to get in touch with his darker sides. In the end you can't help feeling sorry for Bogey's character, yet at the same time cheering on justice. Veteran director William Wyler (Dodsworth, Mrs. Miniver, Ben-Hur) deserves all the credit in the world for his work, as does the powerhouse cast that includes the wonderful Arthur Kennedy and the talented likes of Gig Young and Martha Scott. Lesser known Robert Middleton also turns in a performance you will love to hate, as the big brutal oaf 'Kobish'. To top it all of, despite it's age, "The Desperate Hours" is surprisingly cunning and daring when it comes to it's display of violence.

A definitive must-see for any film-buff and, in these CGI times, a great reminder of the fantastic experience it can be to re-discover the classics.

The Intruder

Had it made any money, Roger Corman would have joined the big league!
Roger Corman's "The Intruder" is both fascinating and frustrating to watch. Fascinating because you suddenly realize what a great and promising "serious" film-maker that was living in the young Corman, and frustrating because the movie was so provocative it scared Corman's investors and was such a financial failure that it discouraged the producer/director from ever trying to make a real serious piece of fiction again.

"The Intruder" is so harrowing, frightfully realistic and effective that had it gained the success and attention it deserved Corman today would be up there with names like Norman Jewison, Sidney Lumet, Milos Forman, John Schlesinger and other great film-makers of his generation!

The atmospheric use of real southern locations just adds to the drama, and the racism portrayed by many of the actors feels almost to close to comfort. One final note: Anyone who still considers William Shatner a grade-b actor should also try and get a hold of this film to witness a fine actor in good form.

Watch this if you can, one of the greatest unsung movies of the 1960's!


What you see is what you get...
It's the type of thriller that delivers just about what you should expect from uhm... this type of thriller and it isn't half bad.

What makes it fun is some effective death scenes and at least one good surprise early in the movie (when the first of the team is killed off on the island). A lot of the plot film-buffs will see coming a mile away but it makes for a fun 90 minutes none the less.

The cast is nice, the thrills are what you'd expect but still fun and that final duel is surprisingly brilliant. That's one time where I actually wouldn't mind keeping my head underwater.

I would rate it 7 stars out of 10.

Law & Order

What do you call 5000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?
There is no hiding the fact that if you work for the police or as attorneys you will sooner or later turn into a world class cynic. So I guess "Law & Order" deserves credit for delivering characters who lives up to this sad but true fact. But in my opinion they have done such a "great" job at it that I actually end up *HATING* most of these characters, *especially* the prosecutors before the end of yet another episode. These people really put the 'C' in cynical!

Take Sam Waterston for instance. For years he was one of my favorite actors, until I saw him on "Law & Order" where he at times seems more ruthless and cold-hearted then some of the criminals he is prosecuting! The other night I watched an episode where a homeless guy pleaded insanity to escape the death penalty for murdering a woman in a park. Waterston's character however was obsessed with doing everything in his power to prove his sanity so he could go for the death penalty (I guess ordering people to death is some sort of Viagra to him). For a European living in a part of the world that does not stoop to the level of killers by executing people as a punishment the Waterston characters mentality is sickening to me. To make matters even worse: by the end of this episode in question it turned out that the death was the tragic story of two mentally ill people where *he* had assisted in her suicide out of his love for her, so Waterston's character dramatically changed his view and let the guy of with 6 years in a mental institution. What makes this even worse is because you know that by the next episode the Waterston-character hasn't learned one bit from this affair and again he is as malicious as ever seeking out yet another person he can execute! Talk about lessons in life, not! And sadly, this goes for most characters, not only Waterston, I was a fan of Michael Moriarty too until I witnessed his character on this show and the list goes on and on.

Someone should tell this justice system that *compassion* is one of the most important traits of humanity. It is what separates us from the animals.

One of the few characters that seem to have room for compassion is S. Epatha Merkerson's detective-character. Come to think of it the cops all seem to have room for compassion, it's the lawyers that disgust me. Hm, this show really lets one appreciate that old joke: What do you call 5000 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? A good start!

"Law & Order" deserves credit for being the show that seemed to turn the tides in TV drama, putting the realism back into TV entertainment, a turn for the better that would eventually result in great productions like "Homicide", "The Third Watch" and "The Shield", but as far as "Law & Order" is concerned: it has outstayed it's welcome.

The Night of the Generals

Nice mix of genres
"What is admirable on the large scale is monstrous on the small."

It's Agatha Christie meets "The Battle of the Bulge" meets... oh you get the picture. Great cast lead by the always fabulous Peter O'Toole who delivers a memorable performance as General Tanz. Also nice to see French veteran actor Philippe Noiret in an ensemble that includes Omar Sharif, Tom Courtenay, Donald Pleasence and Christopher Plummer.

It is tense all the way mostly thanks to the great use of – first Warsaw (and the atrocities performed there) as a backdrop for the story and then we move to Paris where the plot to kill Hitler is nicely interwoven.

"The Night of the Generals" is at parts predictable, yes, (with the great exception of Omar Sharif's final scene) but I guess that's also what makes it kinda' enjoyable at times - at least in the very last scene - when you know what's coming (and boy does it feel good).

Some may find it a bit tedious and yes it is long, but when it was over I knew I would definitely see it again sometime in the future so in short: it works! If you think this movie is your cup of tea, based on the IMDb-information, you're probably right.


Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

At times wonderful and really great, at times downright annoying to the point of physical pain
I loved the first "Metal Gear Solid"-game for the PSX. The character of Solid Snake really was one of the coolest bad-asses I had ever played in a game (if not THE coolest of them all), and the gameplay was fantastic, all-though the story was sometimes incoherent and the dialogue over-the-top cheesy (but then again it was written by Japanese people, the master race of entertainment but when it comes to original plots... hm.. let's just say they have seen better days).

Now I looked so much forward to "Metal Gear Solid 2" that it was the main reason I bought myself a PS2! The gameplay was even better, and so were the graphics and so on (not surprisingly since the year was 2001). But there was also a couple of points that had it been even more dominant would have sunk the game completely:

1. The dialogue is even more cheesy, so much it actually puts the C in both cheesy and clichéd!

2. A couple of main-characters are so annoying that in the end I wanted them to turn up so I could use my silenced Socom on them. Especially Jack's girlfriend, Rose. I lost count of the times when I needed to save, and after doing so she would follow up with five minutes of "Oh Jack I miss you," "Why won't you tell me more about yourself?", "Oh Jack, talk to me, why are you so quiet?" etc. Here I am trying to save western civilization as we know it (on a deadline!) and she rambles on as though we were seated over a candlelight dinner!!! I get angry just thinking about it. In the end I found myself frantically pressing the controls whenever she turned up just because I had enough of the broad and this is supposed to be my girlfriend, which I am supposed to care for! The character is an insult to every female out there, my grandmother would be more suited for participating in this mission than her!

3. It starts to feel repetitive: you meet another character and you know what follows: he hands you a security card with a higher lever of clearance so you can get in through all those doors you couldn't earlier, to help you one more step closer to the next showdown with a super-boss. Now this latter point belongs back in the days of Donkey Kong. In the end I just went "sigh... not another confrontation!!!" It is the sneaking part that makes these kind of games really fun, not firing stinger missiles at a vampire who can walk on water! (Phil LaMarr does however deserve credit for his nice voicing of 'Vamp').

4. All the movie-sequences. They dominate so much of the game you feel you are spending 30% of the time playing and the other 70% just watching the screen as a bystander. This would be fine if it weren't for what I mentioned above: the silly storyline and embarrassing dialogue.

5. The character of Jack - who I at first really liked - turns more and more into a dummy. He delivers about one million "huh?" through the game when speaking to other characters, and when confronted with a hard decision he can start to whine and whimper like a little child reluctant to do the job. I thought this was some sort of super-trained nerves-of-steel-soldier they sent in here, in stead it feels like the brain of Gomer Pyle on the body of Markus Schenkenberg.

To sum it all up: great gameplay, wonderful graphics and locations, hampered too often by silly dialogue, a couple of annoying characters (which I hope I get to assassinate in the sequel), predictable storyline, movie-sequences that are way overlong and a whimpering baby for a hero.

Wow, this sounds like below average, but no, it is still Metal Gear Solid so I give it a 7/10.

Anya's Bell

Formulaic to the nth degree but it works!
"Anya's Bell" was somewhat disappointing in how the story was quite predictable, from beginning to end, but thankfully I was very happy (or sad if you will) to discover that it still managed to do what it's supposed to: jerk around the tear canals, and it does so very well.

But then again it's hard to go wrong when you got Della Reese, one of the best African American actresses of her generation and Mason Gamble, one of the best Caucasian child actors of his generation. They make such a wonderful and touching pair I would have liked to see them in an entire mini-series exploring their unique relationship even more so, and following them through several years (all though it would probably be physically impossible with a 13 year old in one of the leads).

Very formulaic but still very beautiful, touching and heartwarming, and a TV-movie not easily forgotten.

And what a touching last scene, when Scott makes sure Anya will always be with him, flying like the wind...

I slik en natt

Deserves more acclaim
"I slik en natt" (roughly meaning "On a night like this") starts of on that gloomy night in 1942 when the Germans occupying Norway started to round up every Norwegian Jew for deportation to Germany (many of whom died a grim death at Auschwitz-Birkenau).

It is based on the true story of a group of Jewish children at an orphanage in Oslo and several "good Norwegians" (a term used during the war to describe Norwegians who didn't support the nazis) who risked their lives to help them escape to neutral Sweden. Oddly enough, despite receiving good reviews on its release in 1958 "I slik en natt" has largely fallen in the shadows of more popular Norwegian WW2-movies, despite the very engaging theme of innocent children literally running for their lives.

The 1950's was a decade filled with dramatizations of true or fictitious stories from Nazi occupied Norway. It began in the late 40's with the intense and realistic "Kampen om tungtvannet" (1948, the same story covered with Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris in 1965's "The Heroes of Telemark") and continued through the 50's with movies like "Nødlanding" (1952), "Shetlandsgjengen" (1954), "Blodveien" (1955) and the granddaddy of all Norwegian WW2-movies: Academy Award nominated "Ni liv" (1957). Impressively enough every Norwegian WW2-movie seemed to represent the best in Norwegian film production. I don't know whether it was the theme that helped the different filmmakers strike gold or what but they were all considered above-average as far as Norwegian movies are concerned.

Then we come to 1958 and the movie "I slik en natt". Maybe it drowned in the publicity and the international success of "Ni liv", I don't know, but to regular audiences it seems somewhat forgotten, which is highly regrettable. Ok, this is no "Diary of Anne Frank" or "Stalag 17" but when the story concerns helping 10 innocent children aged 4 to 14 escape the incomprehensible Nazi act of deportation to almost certain death, the movie all-ready has a lot going for it. At the time Norwegian Jews and non-Jews had trouble comprehending the fact that the Germans actually were arresting people solely based on their heritage. Everyone knew about the treatment of Jews in Germany and Poland but in Norway the Germans had actually treated them about the same as non-Jews. They weren't made to wear the star of David, they weren't forced to live in ghettoes, they were given the same rations of food as any other Norwegian, there were no laws stopping them from using non-Jewish shops and so on. In fact until 1942 Norwegian Jews could even immigrate to neutral Sweden legally! Yet they stayed behind, fearing no more from the Germans than a non-Jewish Norwegian would (Norway was occupied on April 9th 1940).

The movie touches faintly on this problem, and the reactions from the so-called "good Norwegians" when they realize that holocaust has come to Norway. Even the film's high-ranking German officer remarks several times how crazy the war has become, now that they are going after children. It would however serve the movie better had they taken a deeper look at the trauma of the Jew-deportation.

The movie has a wonderful middle-part when the children are hiding out at the mansion of an old composer and his not-so-much-younger maid, both wonderfully portrayed by veterans Joachim Holst-Jensen and Lalla Carlsen (the Queen of Norwegian revue theatre). It is here where the movie comes up with some of it's more memorable set-pieces, such as the scene when, during an air-raid, they hide out in the basement except for the old man who is tired of sitting in the cold cellar, so he sits at the piano in the living-room playing a nursery rhyme for the kids who are singing in the basement, while the bombs are falling a few miles away. A very young Anne-Lise Tangstad also deserves mention in the lead, for her solid portrayal of the doctor who turns her life around to help the children (believe it or not she was only 22 at the time). One could wish that the children delivered better acting, but it was 1958 and Norwegian film directors weren't exactly famous for churning out memorable acting performances from kids (unless the director was Arne Skouen).

As a whole "I slik en natt" deserves praise, especially for painting an eerie picture of Nazi-occupied Oslo like no other Norwegian film has ever done.

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