'Darkest Africa' is a curious and somewhat very creative effort of Republic Pictures. This serial - one of the first in this nostalgic and tongue-in cheek forgotten genre - mixtures a bit of jungle adventure bringing up to memory movies like 'Tarzan' and and others serials as 'The Phantom' and 'Captain Africa' and fantasy movies, with the themes of lost cities, flying bat men and others stuffs, in a time when fantasy genre was still still in its birth time was prod
For a serial realized in 1936 the special effects are really quite good especially concerning the well done conception of the bat-men. The city of Joba is a great scenario realization. But the story is a bit
repetitive, especially concerning the 'cliffhangers' proposed; more than half of the critical situation dividing chapters have some some relation with attack of lions and tigers. But Mr. Beatty is at home with that! Anyway, for serials fans as I am 'Darkest Africa' is a good example of what was going on in the Saturday matinée in the thirties and forties. It's like to wrap up a very old curtain and see another time pass by your nostalgic eyes.
This movie has an original title that resumes almost everything about its story: Los Quatro Salvajes ( or The Four Ruthless Men). You'll see why. Two miserable adventurers (Steffen and Fajardo, in his best performance) help a Mexican guy to escape an attack of fierce 'bandoleros' just to find out that this Mexican outcast has a great secret: he knows - or, better, partially knows - where a great gold treasure is hidden. Why just 'partially'? Well, because he has just a part of the map to the treasure site tattooed in his back! Because of this he must find the other guy who has the rest of the map equally tattooed in the back; this guy is now a sheriff and so the hunt begins. An interesting story that resembles me a bit the Houston's classic 'Treasure of Sierra Madre' is charmingly developed by veteran director Mario Caiano although a bit far fetched and meaningless in some scenes and situations. Fajardo is terrific and Alejandra Nilo is a gorgeous face along the way. A spaghetti western that will delight the addicts of the genre and will be a good surprise to a new public as well.
First of all, it's really necessary to point out that 'Reverendo Colt' is an Italian made western that came to the big screen when the top time of the genre was falling down. We must remember that almost all the classics had been made in 1971. Just as an example, the outstanding 'Django' directed by Sergio Corbucci was released in 1966 and the unforgettable 'Once Upon a Time in West' in 1968. In fact, the 'seventies' is not the best time to find out good spaghetti westerns. But 'Reverendo Colt' is not so bad. It's a simple but otherwise earnest little story of Miller Colt a gunfighter turned preacher that finds himself in the middle of a fight between two gangs for a would-be treasure. In this uncomfortable situation, Miller Cost is forced to return to his guns in order to defend a group of people ambushed by the outlaws in an abandoned military fort. Guy Madison, a veteran American actor, is Miller Colt; Mr. Madison gives a subdued performance but adequate to his character. Richard Harrison is a brawling and a bit dumb sheriff with almost nothing to do in the movie. Cris Huerta is the only one who gives a little touch of comedy to the story and German Cobos as Fred is the real sidekick of Miller Colt. Not a great movie but considering that 'Reverendo Colt' is a spaghetti western made in the declining years of the seventies, not so bad as it could have been.
'Prairie Fever' is one of these movies that no one would have done unless strictly based on a great disrespect for the audiences. In truth, it's really a sad experience to watch the torturing ninety minutes of this movie while thinking that 'western' was, a long time ago, the most important and well esteemed genre in American movie industry. 'Prairie Fever' is almost an insult, a disgusting whack in the western old trail. After the ending - thanks God! - I thought to myself what some great guys as John Ford, Howard Hawks or even the great Italian master Sergio Leone would say about this garbage. Kevin Sorbo - I think he must have felt ashamed as Sheriff Biggs, because he really seems so all the time - gives a wooden, disastrous performance as a ex-sheriff turned a drunkard after his wife's death in a shootout that he took part. He has a strange mission now: transport three deranged women to Carson City just to put them in a train to East. And that's it. That's the plot, the story of Prairie Fever. Don't expect a one good action scene or a funny situation. There's nothing here. Even the romantic scenes between Sorbo and his mate (played by Dominique Swain, a not bad actress) are contrived and unconvincing.
Extremely boring war movie that tries to establishes a link with terror/horror theme but fails miserably in all the points. So, the movie is a completely failures as a war movie and as a terror/horror flick. The 'Bunker' has a simple plot, in fact. A group of German soldiers enter a bunker to escape an attack of Allied soldiers. In the bunker, they find an old private and a young soldier. There's an atmosphere of mystery all around. The old man is a bit out of mind and very frightened and the young soldier is mesmerized by the tales and weird stories always repeated by the old man about strange facts concerning the bunker. But you'll never know what is the real problem. But you'll have many options: ghosts? zombies? witches? Although all the cards put on the table, the game never ended because here's no satisfactory and reasonable answer at the end. The cast is correct with Jason Flemyng - here the most recognizable actor in the bunch - and Eddie Marsan who did a good job as the old private.
Many times western movies are concerned with battles against Indians, duels between gunfighter or just pure adventure centered in heroes like Zorro or Durango Kid.
That's not the case with 'Death of a Gunfighter'. This little and forgotten movie tell a story based on the life - or, to be exact, the last days of a life - of a Marshall called Frank (Widmark) in a little town at the end of Nineteen century, a town where the 'new times' are coming faster and faster and the way of life of a man like Frank is not anymore well accepted.
Like some other western like 'The Shootist' (the last movie of John Wayne) and the more recent TV movie 'Monte Walsh', this one is a movie about loneliness, full of sadness and at the same time with violence, a harsh cruelty that falls upon the men and the women that are not prepared to live in another time and another way of life.
Richard Widmark gives a strong performance, all the time blending sadness, disappointment and angriness with a compassionate composition of the Marshall Frank Persh. Lena Horne is a bit dislocated but the support cast is very good, especially Carrol O'Connor and John Saxon.
'Death of a Gunfighter' is a movie that made all of us think about our lives and how we deal with the challenges put in front of us every day, especially in a world always changing. It's not a movie about heroes and courage - like almost other western movies are - but a movie about fragility.
"Mackenna's Gold' is an American western movie produced after some big success of movies made in Europe, especially great spaghetti westerns as 'Cera una volta il west', 'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly' and others like that.
That point is important to say that 'Mackeena' Gold' is intensely influenced by the style of the spaghetti western made in the sixties. But its success is not at all close to the movies enlisted here as a reference.
Directed by J. Lee Thompson, a veteran director, 'MacKeena's Gold' is strange, sometimes interesting and most of the time really boring. The movie has a great number of problems: first of all, the obnoxious Vicor Jory making a completely ridiculous narration, that compromise all the elements of surprise and involvement; second, the bad use of the geography as a background for the story (Sergio Leone was a master with this kind of resource, but Mr. Thompson is not) and some bad performances, especially by the lead man, Gregory Peck, a good actor (but not very good) that develops here a tiresome, restrained acting that compromise the final result.
The story has nothing new. In fact, it's just a gold hunting in which a great number of people get involved, under the ruthless command of a bandit named Colorado (Omar Shariff), in a performance fitted to the style of the westerns made in Italy. Sometimes, he remembered me of Fernando Sancho, a always present villain in Italian movies. There is a respectable list of great names in the cast, like Edward G. Robinson, Raymond Massey and even Eli Wallach, who worked some years before with Sergio Leone in 'The Good, the Bad and The Ugly' all of them in little roles.
It's very difficult to make a great movie about gold hunting, treasure hunting or whatever after the classic 'Treasure of Sierra Madre' by John Houston. But this is not a excuse for the failings of 'Mackeena's Gold'.
'Ballata per un Pistolero' is a so-so spaghetti western, with a trifle story, good scenes of shootings and a good photography background and competent music score.
This movie was released in DVD here in Brazil and it takes my special attention for two reasons: first of all, I'm a great addict of spaghetti western (in fact, I'm writing a book about movies, actors and directors of this genre) and second because 'Ballata per un Pistolero' has not in the cast none of the actors who were always around, like Giulianno Gemma, Franco Nero, George Hilton or Anthony Steffen.
The movie is a standard example of these kind of movies. In the main role we find an actor of old Yugoslavia (here under the name 'Anthony Guidra') who made a good work as an aging gunman in a hunt against two criminals. By his side goes a young bounty hunter (played by Angelo Infanti, in an infamous wooden performance) and the ending will bring the revelation of a secret between these two different men.
Not a great movie, to be sure. I give this a 5 (five) out of 10 (ten). But the movie is somewhat amusing and well done, especially if you are a spaghetti western enthusiastic.
'Land of the Dead' is a return to the many times repeated theme of the zombies who harassed the poor living, eating arms, legs, brains and so on. The director is George Romero, a cult filmmaker who is recognized as the man who created zombie movies. This is really true and Romero did his first zombie picture in the sixties, so you cam easily figure out that this kind of terror is a bit old and tired.
Romero know this fact too. Because of that, he tries to put in 'Land of the Dead' some new elements to the zombies scary stuff, like the gradual intelligence that the living dead is seem to be acquiring. The movie has some touches of science fiction, especially the city under the siege of the zombies (it's not hard to remember some 'Mad max' influence here) and even some political criticism, incorporated in a tag line of Mr De Mora (played by Dennis Hooper) when he said with pompous authority 'We don't negotiate with terrorists'. Poor Bin Laden!
All these new elements fail to make 'Land of the Dead' a good movie. Zombie movies was a good idea, twenty years ago or more. Now, it seems a bit boring and dull. In fact, one knows all the time where the movie is going; the bad guys is eaten by the zombies, some good guys are turned in zombies and the terrible plague is never defeated, maybe because another movie must be done. A horrible perspective, to be sure.
The cast made a reasonable work. Simon Baker, as the hero, is convincing and correct. Asia Argento, daughter of Italian master of suspense, Dario Argento, is discreet and John Leguizamo is electric as always.
Romero is a good director. Maybe it's time to see him doing another thing, another kind of movie. I think this is a good council, before Mr. Romero turns out in a zombie too.
Poor handled material about a real story concerning a young woman (Williams) who has all her data and her identity too stole by an ambitious and ill minded secretary (Sciorra). The movie goes on and on, never offering any climax moments or interesting facts, until the constrained ending when informations about the facts and the persons involved are given like a policial report.
The story of this movie has potential, indeed. Nowdays, one of the big problems in commerce activity is the real possibility of one has all his or hers personal information (name, number of social security, ID or credit card)used by stealers and modern pirates in a series of crimes.
Unfortunately, 'Identity Theft' never hits the bull eye. In my opinion, I think this movie was made almost with an amateur touch, like a second grade production. I give this one a 3 (three).
'Monte Walsh' is not just a western or a cowboy movie. It's a movie about cowboys and that point make all the difference.
In fact, 'Monte Walsh' tells a story that is universal in it's own theme; a story concerning the end of a time, the novelties of the beginning of the 20º century and the progressive death of a code of honor and a way of life.
The movie is beautifully directed by Australian director Simon Wincer. Tom Selleck is perfect in the title role and the support cast is good too, especially Keith Carradine and William Devane.
The only problem with the movie lies in some scenes, like the suicide of the veteran of the Civil War (in my opinion, a bit overacted) and the last scene, that brings a irony that sounds strange and dislocated with the rest.
But after all, this movie is a really standout among the most recent western movies.
'Soldier' is one of the worst movies of science fiction plus action made in the last years. This is a repetitive statement, to be sure. But here the surprise in doing this exact statement is that the movie could be very much better.
In the cast you'll find some good actors (Kurt Russel and Gary Busey), an interesting premise - although not original, just remember 'Universal Soldiers' with Van Damme, a movie that is bad too, but better than this one - and even a middle budget. With these points of start, 'Soldiers' fails to be a gripping movie and even the story is completely full of outrageous flaws; for example, the people who lived in the abandoned planet, who are they? why are they there?.
The movie is just a tiresome conflict between the old soldier (played by Russel) and the genetic crafted soldier (played by Jason Scott Lee). Maybe the movie wanted to tell a story about the eternal battle between the old values and new values, tradition and technology, and these are good issues to be told in a movie. But the result is a violent movie that loses completely its direction, a story without intensity and, most of all, intelligence.
Before all,'Dans l'oeil du chat' does not have an original premise to develop in it's almost one hundred minutes. It's a claustrophobic movie that goes round and round the sudden disappearance of a young woman named Pauline (LeBreton) who left behind her fianceé (Verrault) alone in her apartment trying desperately to find some clue of her whereabouts. Almost all the scenes are punctuated by the eyes of Pauline's cat. The poor animal seems to know something! In this point, we must remember that cats as dramatic background were used since two hundred years ago, especially by Edgar Allan Poe in some of his immortal short stories. No originality, as I said before. The movie goes on and on, with a intricate and weird line of investigation and reaches the end with an absolutely obvious finale. However, Barichelo is not a bad director. He has some sense of timing, he knows how to extract the better of his cast, and these points made the movie just a promise, maybe, to future entries more powerful and well resolved.
"Young Adam' is one of these movies that has a simple and thin story line to tell us but made the experience extremely rewarding. The principal character here is a young, detached and gloomy man (portrayed with a convincing low tone by Ewan McGregor) who lives an uncertain life. He gets a job in a barge conducted by Les (Mullan) and becomes involved with his wife Ella (Swinton) in a relationship marked by crude lust and an oppressive despair. The relationship between Joe and Ella is just the right background for director David McKenzie gives the message of the movie. A message that told us, in a gripping and moving way, that people are living lives without sense and dignity and that the modern world is a place where communication is almost impossible between human beings. 'Young Adam' is a movie about loneliness and because of that is a movie sparkled with a moody and unrelenting tone.
"Buffalo Soldiers' is an average western/adventure entry that tell a story about a troop in the U.S. Army after the Civil War exclusively for black soldiers. Based on this historical point, the movie is concerned with some crucial aspects of these arrangements: the bad treatment that was given to the black soldiers by some of the white officials, the evident absurdity of serve in the U.S Army, die for the country and not receive an equal treatment and some other minor stuffs. 'Buffalo Soldiers' tries to do that without lose the sense of adventure and action along the way. Here, the success is just mild. Sometimes, you feel that the dialogs are a bit too dialectical, too political, to be really natural. And the ending is a bit too unreal, maybe, especially when one considers the shape of conscience of the sergeant-major, played by Danny Golver. All considered, that is not a bad movie. But its commitment to discuss aspects like freedom, self-conscience, compassion and respect for the Apache culture, weighed the movie a bit too heavy. Good performances all around, especially Carl Lumbly as the scout named Horse.
First of all, it's hard to define in which genre (horror, sci-fi, thriller?) we could insert 'Deuces', because the movie worked all the time with some elements of all these kind of movies but with an absolute incompetence. The story of a woman who suddenly discover that she has a double, a twin 'persona', living by her side and doing odd things - including violent acts and even murder - is not a novelty. In fact, you must remember 'Doppelganger', with Drew Barrymore, another bad movie with the same theme. And that is all the story here, punctuated with some not gripping moments of shooting, cold blood murders and eerie scenes, especially the scenes taken at the Mansfield theater, the place where the doubles seems to appear after twenty years of interval. It's very difficult to be awaken during the movie, because you'll find that the problem here is not just a problem that affects the lady in distress, the journalist Karen Adams (played with a wood faced performance by Tiffany Paige. The movie tells us a story about an evil double creature with double boring style. A complete waste of time.
A weak attempt to make a movie about family relationship
'Casa de Areia', a Brazilian movie directed by Andrucha Waddington, a director who started his career in TV Mini Series, try to reach two distinct points: first, to tell a story about family relationship, its problems and the absence of communication between the generations. Second, to make a movie with a slow paced narrative in the celebrated style of some European directors as Antonioni and Bergman. The outcome is a disaster. 'Casa de Areia' has a good cast, especially Fernanda Torres (daughter of Fernanda Montenegro, the most respected actress in Brazil) but the two points enlisted above fails miserably. The audience just find a boring, pretentious and weak drama settled against a very beautiful landscape.
Love, friendship, humanity, are themes that always pops up on the screen here and there. Sometimes these special matters gives as a result not really good movies, just a shallow and unemotional examples. But that is not the case with 'Snow Walker, The'; a good, compassionate and even gripping story of an encounter of two different persons from two different cultures, a white man (Pepper) and an Arctic native young woman (Annabella Piugattuk). Charlie Halliday (played by Pepper) is a pilot who lives in North Canada and in one of his many travels along this deserted region, he is asked by a group of Arctic fishermen to help a young and sick woman (Piugattuk) to be attended by a doctor in the city where he lives. He accepted the task but during the flight a malfunction causes an accident and he and his passenger have to struggle for survive in the Arctic tundra. A simple story line with a very good development. All the time we follow the process that turns the simple minded, egoist Charlie Halliday in a man who finally discover within himself the importance of being generous, high spirited and all the virtues of companionship and human respect. The great point of this process is that the movie is never a boring and sentimental tale. On the contrary, there is many moments of suspense, and edge situations, that make the viewer bits his nails. Pepper is good at the lead role but newcomer Piugattuk is fantastic. Director Charles Martin Smith - a good actor, who made great works as an actor before, especially in 'Untouchables, The' by Brian de Palma - captured the essence of the story and his work as a director here is a success because he never loses the point and, finally, succeed to tell us a story that is about the shock of cultures and the stupidity of all prejudices concerning the difference between people, nations and cultures. In fact, we must remember that Charles Martin Smith was the lead actor in celebrated 'Never Cry Wolf' directed in 1983 by Carrol Ballard, a movie with almost the same background. He learned the lesson! So, 'Snow Walker, The' is one of these movies not made with blockbuster ideas. But a serious, well intended product, that shows to all the audiences that we can still find intelligence in the movie industry.
Inept, silly and shallow drama concerning the problems of a young man to fit among his family and his birthplace, after a long time of absence. Among many other problems 'Garden State' never decides along the way if the vision of the main theme would be a comic and sarcastic view or a serious, thoughtful way to tell the problems of the main character with his father, his deceased mother and his weird old friends. The overcome is a far fetched story that never hits the point and give to the audience - the intelligent audience, it must be said - the impression of a complete misfire. Maybe 'Garden State' could have been a solid story about personal discovery and at the same time a journey to find, at last, peace and self satisfaction. That would be nice; but with the bad dialogs, the weird situations, the ludicrous performances, 'Garden State' is a failed and extremely unsatisfactory experience. I think that 'Garden State' is a movie made for teenagers audience. No prejudice in this sentence. Just a fact of life: during our lives we have different moments of thought, considerations and needs. When we are teenagers we always think that the world is unbalanced and stupid (and maybe, in a sense, that's true). But we must grow up. And when it happens, our language, our senses of the world are changed, and we are not anymore fascinated by odd behaviors or hollow kind of protests. 'Garden State' is a movie made with this sense of spirit. So, if you're not a teenager anymore (or an adult with teenager's vision of life), this movie would be just a tiresome and forgettable entry.
'Man-Thing, The' is a movie produced by the Marvel Productions and according to its credits is based on a Marvel comic book character. After this piece of information, you'll believe that the movie is an adaptation - like some other as 'Spider Man' or 'Daredevil' - of the stories concerning the big, green and mute (he only thinks, not talk)good monster called 'Swamp Monster, The'. Sorry, but you'll be completely wrong. This ludicrous, stupid movie is a unbelievable and far fetched story about a monster - and a bad one, not a good guy like the Marvel character - who is a product - if one can say so - of the Indian legends and beliefs about a 'spirit of the swamp' who lives in the 'Dark Waters'. This monster seeks revenge against some business men who owned a factory installed inside the swamp and responsible for environment damages. The rest is just garbage, shabby situations and boring development all around. Maybe this movie is the worst work made with the Marvel label as advertisement. Please, don't lose your time. Get away from this horrible swamp!
'Hitch' is a silly romantic comedy in which a smart guy (Smith)give expert advise to some shy and naive men to find the better way to gain love affection of his beloved girls. The movie has a weary premise and its development is unfunny and with no bright moments all the way. In fact, this entry seems to be just a tiresome exercise for Will Smith to prove that he has the charisma to play a romantic cardboard character following the path of Meg Ryan. But the outcome is just a boring comedy and a completely dispensable movie. Above all, Will Smith and Eva Mendes has no chemistry between them and the movie is just saved - only sometimes, I must say - by the plot line concerning the love story between the rich Aletta Cole and the funny Albert Brenamann, one of the Hitch's clients.
'Woodsman, The' is a little movie with great ideas. In fact, you'll find here not a blockbuster success with the well known formula to win the public attention but instead a solid, engrossing and above all extremely real drama about a man who was convicted by pedophilia (Bacon) and at the beginning of the movie is put at conditional liberty to start his life again. That's the plot line of the story; that is also the main focus to be grabbed here. The right to start over. The right to be living among the other people, even after a serious misdemeanor. And the movie goes on with a down to earth treatment of a so delicate issue that the real impression after all is that the story told here is not a speculation, a fantasy or even just another routine work about ex-convicts. It's just pure life as life is and reality that surrounded us all the time. Maybe one that just want to find in a movie suspense, violence and edge situations could be a bit disappointed by 'Woodsman, The'. The movie is not made for a public not committed with thoughtfulness, serious reflection, social observation and a bit of compassionate and not prejudicial feelings. But if you really want to see reality, that's your movie.
First of all, 'Visitors, The' is not a common thriller. Far from that, the movie tells us a story about the rendezvous of a young yacht-woman (Mitchell)in a solitaire voyage around the world in a little boat with her own problems, griefs, fear and misunderstandings of a whole life. In this process, her mind derived away in a dangerous way, in which she is confronted with hallucinations involving her deceased parents, a strange lover and even her only companion in the trip - a cat named 'Taco' - starts to 'talk' to her. Good premise, even an intelligent one, but the movie lacks an indispensable deepness that the story must claim. Because of that, the result is a bit too contrived, not passionate or challenging. In fact, after some time in front of the TV, you'll feel a certain disappointment because a good idea was just mistreated. Radha Mitchell is good but her competence and her beauty are not strong enough to make this one a remarkable movie.
This is a very particular version of Jules Verne's classic story, in which the funny character Passepatour (lived before by actors as Cantinflas) is lived by Chinese actor Jackie Chan, maybe in his most shining performance until now. The general lines of the story are maintained, but with a special addiction: a well made mixture with Chinese martial arts. The movie is colorful, extremely tongue-in-cheek, with many inspired comic scenes (like, for instance, the arrival of Passepatour and Phileas Fogg in the little Chinese town). In fact is not easy to make a good adventure movie and Frank Coraci - the director of 'Waterboy' with Adam Sandler - really hits the point and made a work full of energy and timing. When a director made an adaptation of a classic book as '80 Days around the World'one can wonder if the result would be satisfactory because to make an adaptation is always a delicate matter. But Coraci and all his team made a great work. The movie is full of great cameos; Scwarzenegger as Prince Hapi, Sammo Hung as a kung-fu figther, Rob Schneider as a hooligan and John Clesse (from English comic group 'Monty Pithon) as a policeman. Steve Coogan, as Phileas Fogg, give a good performance. A good entertainment. And an intelligent one.
There is some movies that have a special and well designed message. 'Piú bel Giorno della mia vita, il' is one of them. Maybe someone would think that the movie is a bit obvious and redundant. But the point is that this movie wants to tells us a common story, a story of a family (an Italian family, but maybe all the families in the world have the same problems)in search of love, companionship, tolerance and hope. In this angle, the movie made a good work. Its dialog are natural, simple minded but realistic and the characters are compassionate and not just cardboard figures. Some themes are treated with dignity, although not with profoundity. The gay relationship between Claudio and Luca, the solitude and vague sadness of the mother (played by Virna Lisi), the innocence and sadness of the little girl named Chiara. The movies made in Italy have a special place in the history of cinema. Just remember Fellini ('Amarcord') or Ettore Scola ('Famiglia, La'). In the last ten years, Italia was almost absent of the international scene of movies. The world discovered movies made in Spain by Almodóvar, Argentina, with directors like Juan José Campanella (Hijo de la Novia, El) or Brazil ('Central Station', by Walter Salles). This movie is almost a comeback. A good one, to be sure.