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Reviews

Wild Hogs
(2007)

Mild Hogs
Who actually thinks this is funny?

Did 25 million people each pay 10 bucks to see this once? Because I can't imagine word-of-mouth creating a stampede to see it.

It's four Hollywood ''stars" cashing paycheques in formulaic dreck.

I guarantee I could have written this movie over a weekend bender of rye & coke.

And then there's John McGinley's ghey cop shtick. I hope that was the low point of this movie because I couldn't take much more.

$
(1971)

Golden $hower$
This movie is a lot of fun.

Warren Beatty not taking himself too seriously, for a change. Goldie Hawn having a blast. A dour German bad guy that makes The Jackal look chatty by comparison. 1970s grit and location shooting.

But whoa, what have we here? Goldie Hawn spraying seltzer on Robert Webber in a role-playing firefighting scene. As Webber is laying prone on the ground, Hawn straddling him, he's getting a stream and I'm thinking, is this what I think it is? And then we get a 2-second cut to a camera view behind Hawn and between her legs showing the stream. Kudos to whoever came up with this and got it by the censors.

Then there's the heist, which is suspenseful. Lots of other unsavory characters. A chase.

Good way to spend a couple of hours....

Shampoo
(1975)

Straight up P00
Don't get me wrong. I'd pay a billion dollars to have Warren Beatty's hair and women. Heck, I'd pay that just for the hair and Julie Christie in the platinum wig.

So I get how, in 1975, this would have been a super s3xy night out at the cinema.

But let's be honest here, there is no substance to this movie. Warren in a puffy shirt. A bunch of clingy women. No story that I can see.

Jack Warden - as usual - is the best thing in the movie. Warden might be the most under-rated character actor in the past 75 years.

And there is a killer soundtrack if you are Boomer sc0m.

That's it.

You Only Live Once
(1937)

Hard to believe this was made in 1937
This movie is so hopelessly stale - by at least a half-decade - that I'd bet 10 bucks it was filmed in 1933 and held in the can for a few years until some studio bigwig decided to slap Fritz Lang's name on it after his success with Fury.

Here are the Early 30s checkoffs:

Sylvia Sidney expected to carry a picture. Henry Fonda looking like he's 25.

Typical early 30s supporting cast too numerous to mention.

Jack Carson with a one-line cameo as a gas jockey.

Melodramatic Saturday afternoon prison picture involving a sympathetically painted con.

No soundtrack other than some music 3/4 of the way through the movie.

References to newspaper headlines to move the story along.

Stiff camera work, including most scenes shot from a single angle.

Lots of shouted lines in lieu of good writing.

The lesson I learned from this movie is that you shouldn't commit crimes and definitely shouldn't shoot people.

Two Rode Together
(1961)

More sentimental cr@p from third-rate sentimental hack
Before there was Martin Scorcese there was John Ford, chronicler of people and things nobody actually cares about, done in ways that romanticize the banal, for the most part.

Richard Widmark rises well above the material here. Every time I discover another of his movies I like the guy more and more. As for Jimmy Stewart's character, I kinda liked the rough-edged sumbitz. And who doesn't love Shirley Jones, although she's basically window dressing here.

But this story goes nowhere. I tried to stay with it 3 or 4 times but I grew bored each time. I mean, just mix in a good old-fashoined cowboys and indians battle.

I just don't get the hooplah over Ford. His films are full of cheap sentimentality, terrible comic relief, thinly veiled white supremacism, and full-throated white American jingoism. Easily one of the most over-rated Hollywood directors.

Arsenic and Old Lace
(1944)

I was ready to drink the wine
Hammy hambones can do well on stage where you gotta keep the people in the back rows entertained.

But the same gesticulating and yelling can be too much in a movie.

It doesn't take long before everybody in this movie got on my nerves, especially Cary Grant. Were all those antics Grant's idea or Capra's?

Before it was halfway over I just wanted it to end.

Big Wednesday
(1978)

Soft core drive-in fare for the ladies
I miss drive-ins. Where you went to kill a Friday night with your friends or your girlfriend, and didn't want to spend too much time thinking about what movies were playing.

In that respect, Big Wednesday is perfect. It's an undemanding look back at California surfer boys and their ''grinders," as one rival surfer dude puts it.

There's not much story but there are a couple of Pier 6 brawls in the first third of the movie to keep the guys happy. And as far as I can tell there's a shirtless surfer dude in every scene, which I'm sure pleased the ladies.

However, like all nostalgia movies - and particularly the 70s version of the genre - this is mostly a pointless, aimless waste of time. Little more than a middle-aged, balding, fat man telling stories of his glorious youth to his high school daughter's friends.

Insignificance
(1985)

Another mess from a third-rate hack
Who, exactly, went to see Nic Roeg movies? People who didn't arrive at the theatre early enough to get into the Ken Russell film?

This is a Roeg fever dream starring a badly miscast Hollywood legend being dragged down by Gary Busey as Joe DiMaggio (strike one), a rando as Einstein (strike two), and Athena as Marilyn Monroe in what surely must have been the runaway Worst Actress Golden Raspberry winner from that year.

The usual Roeg p0rn impulses are here. Throw in some gratuitous and disturbing apocalyptic sequences and you get a film that is 97 per cent talky and dull, and three per cent exploitation.

Roeg's not saying anything with that final sequence, either, fanboys. He's just showing off.

The Party
(1968)

Regardless of the brown face this is just not funny
I give this movie four stars for the soothing piano soundtrack. I couldlisten to the movie in the background and Zen out for 90 minutes. Watching it is a nice time capsule to 60s Palm Springs chic.

But this is supposed to be a comedy, yes? So what is funny about this movie? Sellers acting like an East Indian bumbler? The waiter who keeps sneaking drinks off the tray?

Are we supposed to relate to the guests or their astonished reactions to Sellers?

I would like to live in this house. But I don't want to sit through this un-funny movie ever again.

The Stranger
(1946)

Hollywood's all-time hack churns out a cheap potboiler
Has anyone who has reviewed this film actually paid attention to the continuity problems in this mess of a film?

The collaborator shows up at Welles' house. Young invites him in like she's just doing laundry. Collaborator throws some gyn equipment at Robinson's head and knocks him cold. Welles murders the collaborator. AND THEN GETS MARRIED IN A CHURCH !!!! All while Robinson lies knocked out in the school gym.

Come on.

Welles was somehow put on a pedestal for a boring, over-long, dull movie about a bloviating publisher. Film weirdos also like to laud the unfinished, boring, someone still over-long, dull movie about a fantastically dull American family, The (Not So) Magnificent Ambersons.

Welles was a gas-bag. Check out his ridiculous monologue at the dinner. And, by the way, how did Robinson get invited to that dinner anyway? Oh, and his simpleton wife just casually drops a reference to "Carthiginian peace."

Good gawd, Welles was a joke. A failure. A guy who managed to burn studio money at an alarming rate. Who very shortly couldn't finance a home movie. The guy is a joke. And his films are terrible.

The Night Holds Terror
(1955)

The Night Shoulda Held A Nap
I'm way too young but I've seen enough re-runs on cable to know that even 1950s American TV was better than this low-rent movie.

Bad acting. Uninspired direction. Insipid dialogue.

There is about as much menace in this movie as a badly made ice cream sundae.

What is their plan, anyway? How do the tough guys profit from terrorizing the family? The guy had 10 bucks, the guy had 10 bucks. Rob him and move on.

And if you're going through all that trouble, why would you let the man and wife have a secret conversation in their bedroom?

So lame.

From Beyond
(1986)

Beyond the Tax Breaks
Within the first two minutes this movie rips off Frankenstein (the tuning fork flip switch and the glowing ball) and Alien (the creature).

It gets much much worse in a hurry. A couple of really bad actors/scientists. A nosy neighbour. Some cheap lighting effects. And probably a bunch of Canadian dentists with generous tax writeoffs for backing a bomberooski.

Allegedly filmed in Italy but low-rent enough to look like it was filmed in Montreal and dubbed into English with a generous grant from the Canadian Film Board.

This might have been fun at a drive-in when I was a teenager and we either had a trunk full of Molson Golden or the third film on the bill featured nudity. But on its own this is as bad as a hackneyed high school drama.

Larceny, Inc
(1942)

Good clean fun
Never been a fan of screwball comedies, mainly because they're too often filled to the brim with over-stuffed hams. I can't even begin to describe how much I hate Bringing Up Baby.

But this movie manages to remain fun despite the madcap hijinks. The scene where Robinson ''gift wraps" a piece of luggage for a customer is very funny.

Jane Wyman and Jack Carson are a pleasant romantic sub-plot, although they seem to disappear in the Third Act, giving way to the emergence of menacing convict Anthony Quinn. I wonder if that's how the play was originally written or whether that was a change made for the film. I could have used more Wyman/Carson and less Quinn, frankly.

In any event, a harmless way to pass 90 minutes.

Inception
(2010)

Incr@ption
If this movie is actually an 8.8 (as of tonight) I'm Akira Kurosawa.

The idea is interesting, yet simple: guy who usually steals ideas from others' minds gets hired to instead plant an idea in someone's mind. You could make a compelling movie out of that.

What do we get instead? A tedious action movie with Bond-level stunts (not a compliment) with two other major problems:

1. A Matryoshka Dolls narrative that gets irritating after about the third iteration, never mind the 13th.

2. Dialogue that is such pseudo-science gibberish it's hard to believe anybody over the age of 14 is falling for it.

A few other points. The Juno chick can't act. Ken Watanabe can't speak understandable English. The soundtrack is a by-the-numbers Feel This Emotion Now tone cliche.

In sum, this movie tired me out within 45 minutes and I've sat spellbound through the 5-hour French version of Les Miserables from 1934.

King Ralph
(1991)

A family comedy with class and heart
I don't think John Goodman has ever been in a bad movie. He can do comedy, drama, you name it. The guy brings his likeable charm to every role.

As for Peter O'Toole, that guy oozes charm. My goodness that man had it in spades.

So you put the two together in a movie, how can you not enjoy it.

It doesn't have any big message. So what. It has laughs. That's what comedies do. They make us laugh.

Heroes
(1977)

Modest, yet effective
It's a testament to the enormous popularity of Henry 'The Fonz' Winkler that this post-Vietnam movie hauled in more than $33 million in 1977 money. That's an impressive haul for what is essentially a very good TV movie starring a wide collection of TV actors, plus Francis Ford Coppola's deck builder.

There's no nudity. No swearing. Some graphic violence. And the very adult theme of PTSD. Talk about a 180-degree turn from leaning on a bike, whipping out his comb and grunting, ''ehhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Despite being about 5 feet tall, Winkler was completely believable as a former vet with big dreams. His range in this movie is impressive, from his rage-outs to his tender scene in the motel room with Sally Field. Speaking of whom, Gidget was before my time and just about anybody could have sat in the passenger seat with Burt Reynolds for Smokey and the Bandit. But watch Field when she makes the phone call to her fiance from the house. I don't know if that's natural or Method but that might be the most realistic long-distance breakup phone call in the history of cinema. I was crushed.

Now to the ending credits song. Too many reviewers must be Boomers with a penchant for horrible 70s shlock performed by guys with feathered hair and bell-bottom slacks. Because Kansas is a terrible band. And Carry On Wayward Son is a horrible, bloated, everything-that-was-wrong-with-70s-rock song that you're glad to know in retrospect that the Ramones were just around the corner. If anything, I'd take a point off my rating off this movie because I saw the version with that cr@ppy song still in it.

It's kinda too bad Fonzie was such a cultural phenomenon that Winkler probably wasn't often considered for roles that required this kind of depth. If this was the only thing Winkler did besides Happy Days, he could be proud.

Across 110th Street
(1972)

I'd gladly walk into Harlem to see this movie again
Just when I figured there couldn't be another post- Bonnie&Clyde gem hiding in the weeds, along comes Across 110th Street, complete with shaky cams, dolly shots and on-location shooting that would be at home on The Shield 30 years later.

This is Harlem at its darkest and grimiest, and without the usual affectations of so-called bl@xploitation movies. Sure, there are bl@ck gangsters but they have legitimate dignity.

The ''hero" of the movie is surely Yapphet Kotto's Lt. Pope character, an uncorruptible college graduate who doesn't have to resort to throwing punches or winking at the ladies like, say, Sh@ft. He's future police chief material in a sane and just world. Kotto's quiet, seething rage is a potent counterpoint to Anthony Quinn's volatile, aging Capt. Mattelli. I'd argue Mattelli is conservative in the mold of, ''civil rights, shmivel rights," 50s film noir cops, without being the cartoon f@scist cop Dirty Harry Callahan. But he's not a racist any more than any white cop of his day on the NYPD. If anything he shows compassion for the innocent bl@cks he encounters, while not being afraid to throw a passing elbow shot at a known hood. The character is a real beauty.

So many other standout performances, almost too many to mention. Lots of gritty violence. No goofy comic relief. Super-cool soundtrack. And a total lack of expl!cit moralizing that you usually get from Hollywood, even during the relatively scuzzier 70s. I mean, nowhere in this movie will you see a superior officer scream out in frustration, ''I oughta take away your badge!" And unless you count the final few frames, no rainbow-filled resolution to the film's underlying racial, ethnic and economic tensions.

The Hangover Part II
(2011)

Leftovers
What is Ed Helms' skill, anyway? The grimace? That grew tired after about the third episode of The Office. The father-in-law character nailed it when he called Helms' character a wet sack of white rice.

Zack Galafawhatshisname is not, was not and has never been remotely funny. He's just a semi-autistic weirdo.

Bradley Cooper is, um, extremely good looking and a likeable actor. It's probably not his fault his character is so hateable here.

Then there is the bland 4th guy. An even whiter sack of wet rice, I suppose. And the Asian brother-in-law.

Pretty uninspiring bunch in a terrible, tasteless movie. I felt dizzy, b@rfed and ended up with a wicked headache

Fallen Angel
(1945)

Fallen Asleep
This movie is terrible. Every character is unlikable. The plot is a wandering mess. The cinematrography is uninspiring. The relationships are contrived. There is simply nothing to grab hold of here. No reason to keep watching after 5 minutes, after 10 minutes, after 15 minutes, good gawd, is anything going to ever happen...after 45 minutes...nope...shut 'er down.

TCM should fire this movie into the Pacific Ocean off the Santa Monica pier.

In Like Flint
(1967)

Very badly dated
I could imagine this movie selling a lot of tickets in 1967. After all, there probably weren't too many other movies at the time with so many bikini-clad women in so many scenes. Even as the warm-up movie before the main attraction at the drive-in it would have sold a ton of tickets.

But this is 2020. There is no longer a shortage of places to see young ladies in various stages of undress. So what else is there? Some very limp action scenes, lame attempts at humor, and sleepy pacing. Reminds me a lot of the Batman TV series, which was OK in 22-minute bursts. It takes about that long for this movie to wear out its welcome while burying itself in its own cheese.

James Coburn was a total stud, a tightly wound coil when he was at his best. But this movie managed to turn him into a soggy strand of spaghetti. Lee J. Cobb fares better, but that's hardly a surprise since Cobb was always good whether he was in an all-time great movie like 12 Angry Men or a boring stiff like this mess.

Black Caesar
(1973)

Cr@p Caesar
Good lawd this is a terrible movie. Amateur writing. Amateur acting. Amateur directing. Amateur editing.

Characters with dubious motivations change allegiances on a dime. Lots of spilled fake blood. Disturbingly r@pey scenes.

Even though it's supposed to be the black re-make of Little Caesar/Public Enemy/Scarface it's barely more credible than an SCTV parody of those films. I suppose if you saw it after the main feature at the drive-in circa 1975 you wouldn't care because by that time you were either completely drunk, making out with your girlfriend or asleep in the back seat.

Fred Williamson sure was a charismatic actor, though. He deserved better.

The Beloved Brat
(1938)

Beloved, My @ss
It was fun, at first, to see the lead character acting like a complete brat. Refreshing to see black kids treated like normal kids, instead of racist stereotypes. Though I have to point out their mom doesn't get off so lightly. Nevertheless, Stymie Beard steals those early scenes. That kid had amazing comedic chops.

I didn't lose my mind when the Brat was responsible for vehicular manslaughter because, well, this is make-believe.

But she is such a relentless brat that it got tiresome. The only thing that kept me watching in the second half was Dolores Costello.

Wouldn't watch again.

Targets
(1968)

Turdlets
This is film-school dropout, low-budget cr@pola. Except with a talented director for a change, instead of schlocky hack Roger Corman helming things.

It's got the production values of Johnny LaRue's Street Beef on SCTV: one camera, one microphone, no crane shots.

The Karloff'/Orlock story and the mass shooter's story don't intersect at all. Well, barely. And weakly.

That said, simply being able to hear Karloff's voice was a treat. He is, after all, the voice of The Grinch. And when he quoth, ''Who is that tapping at my chamber door," I melted.

Bogdonavich had much better films in him.

300
(2006)

Ghey p0rn
Half-clothed dudes with computer-generated six-packs swing their weapons at other dudes, while occasionally spouting go-get-em gibberish. Meanwhile, back at camp, half-nude women cavort around a hunchback. Also, some fighting. Some yelling. Lots of macho posturing. So boring. I could see this movie being extremely popular with 15-year-old boys.

Address Unknown
(1944)

Didactic film takes zero chances
A film released in 1944 that talks about evil Natsies in the 1930s isn't exactly cutting edge, now is it?

The vaunted art direction is certainly interesting but if this movie is based on a best-selling book, the screenplay didn't do it justice,

Most of the story gets told by having the lead male actors read letters from each other. Weak.

The acting is try-hard Hollywood propaganda that treats the viewers like low-IQ dupes.

The letter-reading and the scenes that actually move the plot along are accompanied with obvious musical accompaniment that grates the nerves before long.

It's all such tiresome juvenelia. At 75 minutes it would make for a good film day during the WWII section of Grade 9 social studies.

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