Friday, 30 October 2015

No.255 : Which Way Is Up?

Which Way is Up? at the IMDb

Richard Pryor takes on three roles in this 1977 comedy which is about as un-PC as you can imagine. Not only would it never be made today, being caught with a copy would probably see you get time in jail!

Still we are a broad church here at the ‘W’ Movie Quest so let’s see we if we can be offended.

The film opens in the run down shack that Pryor shares with his wife and extended family. He wakes up all horny but his wife isn’t in the mood. No problem as he tries to pry her legs apart in a scene that could be used in a ‘rape within marriage is still rape’ information film. The wife is saved when a young boy wanders in looking for his breakfast. Meanwhile elsewhere in the house Pryor’s father is getting some noisy sex in - luckily for Pryor he plays both roles!

Pryor plays Leroy Jones, a hapless everyman who works in the fields of California picking oranges. Their work is interrupted when a union march passes and when they ask for someone to volunteer to lead the orange pickers - Pryor lands the role when he falls off his ladder into the union leader’s arms. This doesn’t go well with the white farmers who run Pryor off for trying to unionise the workers - some of the language they use is just plain racist!

Our hero heads to the city and his brief foray into workers’ rights holds him in good stead with the local co-operative who give him a job as a painter. Pryor dispels any racial stereotypes by immediately slacking off the job and chasing a leggy lady who is impressed with his union credentials. After some downright stalking she gives in and lets Pryor into her bed - on one condition; he never sleeps with another woman, even his wife. This lady has class!

He sets up home with the lady and gets a couple of promotions when he interrupts an assassination attempt. Is ‘The Man’ seeing something in Pryor and will the man with the shiny ring be as menacing as is being implied?

Despite a couple of laughs this film fell flat after an hour and totally lost it’s way. It follows the same path as ‘The Jerk’ which followed it two years later, with an idiot rising up the ranks due to happenstance. I thought it was going to have Pryor make a difference and have some say in workers’ rights but the last section was nothing but him trying to have sex with the wife of the man who had sex with his long abandoned wife. Again the rival lover was played by Pryor in a thinner moustache - the man has range! - so the message seemed to be that all the woman, even the pastor’s wife, can't get enough of our man!

The language and slurs - both racial and sexual - certainly dated the film and while no one took offense it would cause ‘Points of View’ to explode if it were shown today - and rightly so. The good people at Blogger would shut me down if I repeated even half what was yelled throughout the film and although I did laugh, it was only in an ironic and uncomfortable way.

The film ends with a sort of lesson with Richard’s rise up the career ranks costing him on a personal and emotional level so much so he didn’t know which way up was any more. That said if he kept his dick in his shorts he’d be a lot happier regardless of what ‘The Man’ had planned.

I did laugh without reservation or justification at the thin coffin laid on for the man who was run over by a steamroller. Everything else is condemned outright!

Best Bit : Piano lessons at church
‘W’ Rating 14/23

Saturday, 24 October 2015

No.254 : Walter

Walter at the IMDb

No it isn’t a repeat - we’re not the BBC here at the W movie quest you know! This film is a totally different proposition from the ‘Walter’ we reviewed back in Blog 177 Blog 177  - there are no bum wiping for one, so that’s a good start.

This film was released in 2015 and opens with a familiar feeling voice over giving us a bit of insight and back-story to hurry things along. Walter, or Wally to his friends, is a bit of a misfit who has multiple wake up alarms and a job as a ticket ripper at the local multi-plex. We witness his fastidious rituals as he gets ready for the day and meet his over attentive mother who is constantly nagging him to eat more scrambled egg.

As Walter walks to his bus we learn that he thinks he is the son of God and it is his role to judge people to determine if they are going to heaven or hell. He wisely keeps this talent to himself especially with his colleagues who include the lovely Kendall who Walter fancies and Vince, a by-the-numbers asshole.

Walter seems happy in his ordered life but things take a turn when he is confronted by Greg, a ghost whom only Walter can see. Greg is in limbo and demands to be judged so that he can move on. Walter is disturbed as he can’t sense Greg and this causes him to delve into his own past to try and rationalise his life. He seeks therapy from William H. Macy, in a throwaway ‘one day on set’ performance and gets involved in the impending marriage of Neve Campbell who has some role in Walter past. Can he find peace and salvation and stop being so annoying?

This was an OK film but one that borrows heavily from others and won’t last long in the memory. The interactions with the ‘ghost’, especially the long shots showing there was no one there, were very reminiscent of the superior ‘Ghost Town’ and none of the characters had anything close to the personalities of Gervais and Kinnear. To be fair the ghost aspect was almost a subplot as the main focus was on the relationship of Walter and Jim.

Jim was a fireman whom may have been Walter’s father but was certainly there for his formative years. As the film progresses we learn that Jim died in hospital and may have known nurse Neve a bit more that is ethical. His death and possible infidelity left Walter and his mother emotionally scarred so that both developed extreme personalities. Walter took on a ‘Son of ‘God’ fixation whilst Mom cooked a lot of eggs. As you’d expect a bit of redemption is on the menu but I wasn’t convinced of the journey that supposedly shook the pair of them from their long term ruts.

The film’s main issue is that Walter, played by Andrew J. West isn’t likable and as the film nears its conclusion you don’t feel like you are rooting for him. You could argue that his difficult character was the main point and focus of the film, but similarly is a O.C.D. ridden socially awkward misfit your idea of a night’s entertainment? Mine neither.

The film was well put together with a lot of nice directorial touches but the predictable indie soundtrack and good looking people inevitably finding happiness seemed a bit flat and negating.

If I had to judge, and I do, I’d say ‘Send it to hell!’.

Best Bit : American Beauty homage/rip off
‘W’ Rating 14/23

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

No.253 : Waterfront

Waterfront at the IMDb

Here’s a bit of an oddity - a 1944 American film that barely scrapes past an hour and is essentially a propaganda film. Still, we’re a broad church at the ‘W’ Movie Blog so let’s have a look.

The film opens as a man is being wrestled down at the docks after dark. No, not like that. Some passing drunks alert the cops but the man denies he’s been molested despite the drunks’ protestations. It turns out he’s the local optician and after getting in a predictable ‘they should get their eyes tested’ line he’s sent on his way.

It quickly transpires however that he was indeed robbed and the reason he couldn’t tell the policeman is that he’s a Nazi spy and all that was taken was his code book. Soon he’s joined by Marlow (John Carradine) who is also a Nazi agent keen to get his orders deciphered - a task rendered impossible by the loss of the code book. The two plan to shake down some local suspects but not before Carradine has scored himself some lodgings a guest house, having threatened the landlady’s family with a concentration camp back in the homeland.

The landlady’s daughter is stepping out with a young insurance agent who is near a life changing deal and he works for a German American who runs the insurance company - keeping up? Carradine doesn’t believe that the code book theft was a random robbery and he’s proven correct when the thief makes contact seeking $5000 for its return. The remainder of the film is taken up with cross and double cross as the code book remains elusive. Will it be recovered and will the nest of spies be rounded up?

As an oddity this film was OK but it lacked any credibility or tension. There was never any doubt that the spies were going to get caught and the method to make it so was somewhat drawn out and convoluted. There was plenty to aid the war effort not least the German American writing a confession to the FBI so that others wouldn’t make the same mistakes he did.

Carradine was always watchable but as a spy he was rubbish - no one notice the foreign chap with the large floppy hat down the docks then? Did his excessive tips not draw attention or his subtle plan of buying editions of every newspaper before throwing them away in frustration in front of the news vendor seem unusual?

He was quite brutal with three enemies dispatched in the same way - his Mauser raised (note : don’t use a German gun for your murders!) and fired while the victim died off camera - ‘Reservoir Dogs’ this was not.

Despite being just over an hour the film managed to tack on an unnecessary romantic subplot which added nothing apart from some wholesome values for the folks back home.

I wouldn’t go and seek this one out but if it shows up on TCM or somewhere, it will pass an hour without too many demands being made of you.

Best Bit : Why are you hanging about the docks?
‘W’ Rating 12/23

Sunday, 18 October 2015

No.252 : Wendigo

Wendigo at the IMDb

A strange horror/monster/ghost story mash up now in this 2001 chiller. Patricia Clarkson stars along with the youngest out of ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ as well as an English actor I didn’t recognise but he was in the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake.

The film opens with the three family members heading for a weekend in the mountains. Gawd knows why as it’s freezing and the area is populated by hillbillies but maybe the Paisley Glynhill was fully booked. They don’t get far in their Volvo before a stag appears in the road and comes worst off in the collision. The deer was being stalked by some hunters and they aren’t happy that the antlers were damaged in the collision. The Dad manages to talk them off but we see that arch hillbilly,Otis, remains unimpressed.

At the lodge they find a window broken and a bullet embedded in the wall. Rather than run for the hills they settle down for the night where the Boy is troubled by visions of a hillbilly home invasion. The couple also get it on on the sofa unaware that they are being watched by Otis. So far so predictable but the titular Wendigo has yet to show up.

The next day in town they are buying curry ingredients so that Dad can continue with his racist impressions. The boy is confronted in the thrift store by a supposedly enigmatic Native American who gives him a small statue of a Wendigo and spouts off some mystical gubbins. When he shows it to his Mum the man is gone and the assistant makes them pay $4 for the model - the oldest scam in the book! As they set off the mysterious Indian appears again - no doubt off to spend his share of the four bucks.

Next day the father and son go sledging and Dad falls from the sled mid run. The boy heads back to him but is scared off by some snow flurries and what looks like a monster made out of twigs. After passing out he’s revived by Mum who is worried for the husband whom they eventually find in their driveway having crawled home. It turns out he’s been shot - possibly accidentally by stumbling into a rifle range but more likely deliberately by Otis who thinks their house is rightfully his.

The family make a desperate dash to the hospital while the police seek Otis - will the Wendigo show up again to save the day?

I quite enjoyed this film despite it’s thin plot and far fetched premise. There’s not a lot going on apart from the standard strangers vs. locals squabble with a tree/deer monster thrown in to add a bit of value.

From the off the boy character is a bit strange and I think they are trying for a bit a ‘The Shining’ vibe from him. He’s meant to be a bit complex and introverted, and perhaps more in tune with nature than most but he just comes across as a bit dull and slow. Clarkson does better as the Mum although a lot of her scenes involve her running about a bit upset.

The hillbillies were more fun but a bit stereotypical as was the Sheriff who failed to convince - he deserves a hammering for that performance!

The Wendigo itself was ill-defined despite the wise old Indian in the thrift shop banging on about its powers. It was funny to see its P.O.V. shot when chasing the boy as it consisted of only a few twigs stuck around the camera lens. Towards the end it turned into a two legged ferocious deer which was confirmed by the Indian saying it could shape shift - my guess was that the costume shop was late in its delivery.

There wasn’t a lot or horror or scares here but it was a decent effort with some nice snow covered locations and a scenario that stayed just the right side of outrageously silly.

Best Bit : Twig man’s gonna get you!
‘W’ Rating 17/23

Friday, 16 October 2015

No.251 : Wer

Wer at the IMDb

I went into this film knowing nothing about it which turned out to be a good choice as there were plenty of surprises and wrong foots to keep me entertained. In retrospect the title is a bit of a clue but if you want to avoid spoilers read this after you’ve seen the film and we can compare notes.

The opening of the film isn’t too promising as it looks like it’s going to be another of those crappy found footage offerings. We see a young family of three enjoying a camp out in the French countryside. Happily two of them are grabbed by an unseen menace meaning we get to the film proper with the shaky camcorder consigned to the bin.

The narrative is driven along by the usual cavalcade of rolling news clips and we learn that a French local has been arrested for the crime. This hairy brute of a man seems a fair choice as he’s most hirsute  and doesn’t say much. The case however attracts the attention of an American lady lawyer who looks to defend the suspect and get to the bottom of the killings which now number three as Mom didn’t make it.

She butts heads with the French detective in charge of the case and conducts her own investigations which suggest that the authorities may have a vested interest in chasing the suspect off his land which is a prime location for a proposed nuclear waste dump, that the locals seem strangely keen on.

Things look good for the suspect when tests show he may have a crippling disease that would preclude him from any late night murdering and dismembering frenzies. He also looks to be off the hook when a fragging great grizzly bear is found in the countryside despite them being extinct in Europe for a century. The strobe test goes ahead however to determine if our man has the rare disease - huge mistake. He breaks his bounds and kills a load of people before escaping.

The lady lawyer, who is now starting to doubt her early protestations of our man’s innocence, resolves to try and track him down. Meanwhile her assistant has a worrying wound that’s growing by the day…

I really liked this film and am surprised that it isn’t better known. It’s largely shot in a manner similar to ‘Rec’ with a lot a steady cam work and running about in an almost drama documentary style. The pace is relentless and I like how it flipped from a straightforward detective story to a full on monster picture about half way through.

The violence was extreme with jaws pulled off and body parts scattered with abandon throughout. Some of the dialogue was subtitled which was fine for me but I know some people dislike it. I think the French setting was appropriate however with legends and ‘the old ways’ seeming more believable - unlike the bear which seemed totally out of place and was left unexplained.

There were a few too many cheap scares or my liking with all sorts of stuff jumping out like birds, bats and even a pig to give you an unearned jump.

They danced about the werewolf legend for almost all the film with diseases and reactions to the moon being full used in place of calling a wolfman a wolfman. This was OK and added to the film’s modern take on an aged and clich├ęd genre.

If you like a lot of gruesome violence and dislike the French this could well be the film for you as the body count must be in the dozens. I liked its reinvention of the genre and its fast paced and inventive script. Definitely one to look out for.

Best Bit : Jaw Dropping!
‘W’ Rating 19/23

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

No.250 : We Still Kill the Old Way

We Still Kill the Old Way at the IMDb

 Here’s some fun in the shape of a British set ‘em up and knock ‘em down revenge thriller. It’s knowingly rubbish and peppered with a lot of ‘I thought they were dead?’ type stars, but it’s good fun and no doubt a bit of wish fulfillment for the Daily Mail set who long for the days when criminals looked after the community - Gawd bless ‘em!

The film opens with two drivers heading to different destinations. A beardy Ian ‘The Saint’ Ogilvy is in Spain while some yoofs are on their way to rob someone’s flat. Ogilvy is a retired East End criminal and living the good life in Spain. Meanwhile Aaron and his ‘E2’ crew are terrorizing Ogilvy’s old manor - noising up pensioners and single mums alike.

Aaron also shows his charms with the ladies by bedding a posh girl before taking photos of her and robbing her house. She’s not easily put off however and when Aaron suggests a second date down a dark alley she eagerly accepts. Huge mistake! - Aaaron’s plan is to ‘introduce’ her to his crew. What he doesn’t bank on however is that Steven Berkoff is dining nearby and takes on the feral rabble to save the girl. He gets killed for his trouble but we learn that he’s Ogilvy’s brother and soon the Saint is back in town and looking for revenge.

He gets together his old crew including James Cosmo off those bank adverts and DI Burnside off ‘The Bill’. What follows is a predictable hunting down of the bad guys by the slightly less bad guys until order is restored and the streets are safe for honest folk once again.

I quite liked this film but the pay off didn’t live up to the build up. Ogilvy was good as the O.C.D. Ritchie although I’m not sure he really caught the menace needed for a lethal old school gangster. He was likable and charismatic though, and it was hard not to take to his character. His henchmen weren’t as good, although they did have less to do. He was backed up by Lysette Anthony, who was almost unrecognisable, playing the woman from the neighbourhood who missed the good old days of knife fights and protection rackets. Her part was bolstered by her technology skills which enabled Ogilvy to track his quarry.

All the while the police investigation rumbled on with Alison Doody (off ‘Taffin’) playing the D.C. who respected the old school methods, especially those employed by Ogilvy, when her daughter turns out to be the one being abused by the baddies. The feral yoof were a bit too shouty to be menacing and did that side on gun grip that is so annoying. I guess they were painted this way to show their ineptitude against our ‘heroes’.

I was hoping for more once the battle lines were drawn but there were too few killings and the muddled shoot out at the hospital was somewhat disappointing. The final scene suggested a sequel could be in the offing and I certainly would be up for another slice of this ‘New Tricks’ for Bad Slags.

Best Bit : “Detective Constable? You should take out the ‘Detective’ and the ‘able’.
‘W’ Rating 15/23

Monday, 12 October 2015

No.249 : We Are Still Here

We Are Still Here at the IMDb

It’s winter 1979 and a middle age couple are heading towards their new Massachusetts home. We learn that they have recently lost their only son and the house, that they have bought cheaply, represents a new start. We know from the off that the house is a bit creepy and very beige, but the early signs of trouble are the usual false starts like a ball bouncing down the stairs and a broken photo frame.

They are soon greeted by a pair of neighbours with the man, Dave, strangely saying the house has not had fresh souls for 30 years while his wife presses a note into the woman’s hand telling her to get out of the house - she was unaware that her curtains were that bad.

They get around to unpacking and doing up the house but the sense of unease continues until an electrician, brought in to investigate a over hot basement, gets fried for his trouble. The suggested terror motif is quickly dispatched as he is confronted and Cajun cooked by some smoky figures with bright eyes. The couple aren’t put off - possibly because they got out of paying the electrician’s bill - but invite over a couple of relatives and their son and his girlfriend to visit.

The couple who are written off as ‘hippies’ have experience of the supernatural and the hope is that they can cleanse the house of the evil spirits and presumably the Kentucky fried electrician in the basement. The two couples head off to the local restaurant where they are made about as welcome as a turd in a swimming pool by the locals who know the secrets of the house, I'll be bound! Meanwhile the son and his girlfriend let themselves into the empty house and pay for pilfering the Scotch by being carved up by the evil house dwellers. This pair are effectively fodder as the monsters tidy up after themselves and these atrocities are left unknown to our heroes who assume they’ve just been stood up. Nice that the monsters were keen to keep their security deposit intact!

The hippy couple start their efforts to clear the house of the unwelcome visitors but they are about as effective as a fart against a tornado. Whilst the man hippy is eating his sock and poking himself in the eye the townsfolk decide to take matters into their own hands - if our heroes escape the evil in the house will descend on the town, so they head over to help the cinder people - huge mistake. Who will survive? And why didn’t they just burn the house down years ago rather than let it kill a bunch of folk every 30 years?

I liked this haunted house horror despite it’s threadbare plot and OTT violence. The 1970’s setting was well realised with the leads sporting no end of stylish turtle necks and double knits. The actors did a decent job as looking shocked a lot and no one was scared of getting their hands dirty, as more claret was spilled than in a winery explosion.

The premise was a bit weak with the burned bodies of a wronged family showing up every 30 years in need of a fresh family to feast on. There was no reason offered for this timescale or what they were after - nourishment? revenge? A straight to DVD horror? Who knows?

The twin baddies of the monsters and the compliant townsfolk were well done, although it was more for laughs at the end when the locals showed up to help and ended up as the main course themselves. The crackling and smoking family of basement dwellers were well done and exuded some real menace.

The ending was pretty satisfying and I liked the end credits sequence that featured a lot of local newspapers recounting the horrors that had occurred over the life of the house.

I don’t think this film was particularly scary but there were plenty of gruesome kills and a nice air of unease throughout. Definitely one to check out.

Best Bit : ‘We’ll help…aaarrrrghh!’
‘W’ rating 19/23

Friday, 9 October 2015

No.248 : We Are Monster

We Are Monster at the IMDb

Uplifting family fun now as we enjoy a knockabout British romp set in a young offenders institution. Actually, scratch that - this is one of the nastiest and most depressing films you’ll ever see. It could be claimed to be a drama documentary profiling a shocking case of murder and institutional ineptitude but it’s just a horrible watch that offers nothing in the way or answers or, God forbid, entertainment.

The film opens at its inevitable conclusion with a blood soaked youth being bundled out of his cell as he stands over his bloodied victim. There is no explanation but we are then shuttled back a few weeks so that we can understand how we got here. To be honest they could have covered the ground in two minutes - mental racist kills Asian cell mate. Still if they’d went that way we wouldn’t have had the full 90 minutes of nihilistic fun and racial slurs.

The subject of the film, which is ‘based on a true story’, is Robert a self tattooed racist who has been in the system for years. He is in for threatening a call centre worker and seems off balance from the start. Before long he starts talking with himself - literally as his nasty persona takes form as himself whom only he can see. This leads to lots of scene where he is egging himself on to greater and greater feats of nastiness whilst the P.O.V.s of other prisoners show him to be talking to an empty seat.

The prison officers, who include Clem Fandango, aren’t much use and aren’t shy of a bit of casual racism themselves. They put Robert in a cell with Asian youth Zahid who is in for stealing razor blades - before long he’s going to wish he went with a beard! Zahid tried to be friendly but backs off when Robert gets more aggressive and introverted. Zahid is due to be released in a few days so resolves to keep his head down.

Robert meanwhile starts to delve into his past and tries to rationalise his situation. The film does the same with an abusive childhood and faults in the system the reason for Robert’s mental state. Some of these scenes were well done with his brown underpants wearing father beating him up as a child for wetting the bed. The film isn’t too apologist for Robert’s ultimate act but you do get the sense that they are showing him to be a victim too.

As the film moves towards its inevitable climax we are left to wonder what could have been done differently and what have we learned. Should we have watched that Adam Sandler comedy instead? Maybe!

This is an impossible film to like with its endless racist rants and unsubtle swipes at authority and society. They was an effort to explain Robert’s actions but that veered away from his own responsibility and while he was broken by the system he’s still a murdering scumbag with no redeeming features.

The film was hung on the central performance of Leeshon Alexander as Robert and he did OK with a difficult dual role. As ‘normal’ Robert he was too starey and manic and as his alter ego he was annoying and shouty. He did have difficult material to work with though, as he was spouting a lot of garbage that even the KKK would see as a tad extreme.

The closing captions of the film lay all the blame at the authorities’ door, and of course there were shortcomings, but to make apologies for the central scumbag didn’t sit right and you have to wonder about the point of the whole enterprise. The film’s vibe was hateful throughout and all I came away with was a grubby feeling for having watched the whole grim spectacle.

Best Bit - No I can’t hear you Clem Fandango
‘W’ Rating - 8/23

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

No.247 : War Pigs

War Pigs at the IMDb

It’s very easy to slag off a straight to DVD film starring a bunch of Z-list actors…so let’s do that then!

The film is a bit of an ‘Inglorious Basterds’ rip off with a rag tag group of WW2 soldiers sent on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines. Here the similarities end however as instead of Brad Pitt and Chrisoph Waltz you get a blink and you’ll miss him appearance from Mickey Rourke and Luke Goss out of ‘Bros’ in the lead. What they didn’t spend on acting talent they also didn’t spend on sets or locations with sunny America standing in for what should be a mud splattered and freezing Europe.

The film opens with Captain Luke leading his troops on a patrol. Bad judgement or intelligence leads him into a nest of Germans and everyone gets killed apart from our hero. He is carpeted by his C/O, a ridiculous looking Mickey Rourke, whose ‘eccentric Major’ doesn’t disguise the fact that he must be the only officer on the Western Front with extensive plastic surgery and a cowboy hat. He delivers his lines in his celebrated slurry fashion and tells Luke that he’s up for a court martial unless he can lead a mission into enemy territory.

Luke may be torn up at the loss of his men, or because he’s read the rest of the script, but he agrees to the mission with the promise that his court martial will go away if he makes it back. We get the idea that Mickey may have another agenda and is being all enigmatic so imagine the disappointment at the end when we learn he totally doesn’t and is just (badly) acting that way.

Luke heads off to meet his new unit the notorious ‘War Pigs’. These are the toughest troops in the army and earned their name by, er, getting down in the dirt. Again I thought this was going to be a big reveal near the end but that’s really how they came by their name. The troops are meant to be your usual bunch of misfits but they all came across as really dull. Except maybe for Dolph Lundgren who shows up as a French Foreign Legion solider who is assigned to the unit for reasons unknown.

After a long padding sequence where the guys are put through extensive training (don’t they know there’s a war on?!) they get their orders - to investigate reports of a giant German artillery gun 10 miles behind enemy lines. That doesn’t seem very far especially at this stage of the war and given they have pissed away weeks in training, but never mind, this climax will be great!

The War Pigs show their greatness by mostly getting captured right away and it’s down to Luke to save the captured troops, find the gun and squeeze out a tear before the all too welcome end credits.

I quite enjoyed this terrible film, as a guilty pleasure you understand. It failed on almost every level with no characters to speak of, very little peril and dialogue that will make you cringe. Luke is a horrible actor and didn’t convince one iota as the troubled captain. He seems a nice enough bloke but saying ‘Soldier’ in every sentence doesn’t convey authority nor did he seem believable as an action hero taking down three Jerries in a fist fight.

He was better than Rourke however, who gets a laughable front and centre slot on the poster for his five minute’s work. His Frankenstein face and white cowboy hat made him look ridiculous and he conveyed all the menace of Sylvester Stallone’s mother.

The baddies were very poor too, with the one who was charged with the predictable old Gestapo torturer role as scary as a My Little Pony. The big threat of the super gun (it’s only a model) was nothing of the kind and dispatched with such ease you wonder why they didn’t issue our guys with pea-shooters instead.

The climax, which included a seemingly heroic death for Lundgren reversed, suggested a sequel could be possible - dear God no! I’d rather fight the Germans myself!

Best Bit - Luke goes Mano-a-mano-a-mano-a-mano.
‘W’ Rating 6/23

Sunday, 4 October 2015

No.246 : W.M.D

W.M.D. at the IMDb

You won’t of heard of this film, and I bet it doesn’t grace the C.V.s of its principals, but it’s out there and I sat through the whole 80 crappy minutes of it.

The film opens with a trio of soldiers walking is a desert which is supposed to be Iraq but looks suspiciously like California. One of them steps on a mine and after five minutes of chat they engineer a way to free him without the device going off. This scene has nothing to do with the rest of the film so it must have been shot to bump up the film’s run time or to show why our men may be damaged having served in a war zone. Or maybe they found an extra $5 in the budget and fancied a day out?

Anyway the film proper opens at a Baghdad military base on Thanksgiving, where the President is coming to visit. He isn’t named but he is dressed up like George W. Bush and references are made to his father also being President so if it’s not him it’s a pretty unoriginal new character!

The President makes a few glib jokes before a soldier pulls a gun and takes the President hostage. Unfortunately the fat and bomber jacket wearing ‘Secret Service Agents’ aren’t really on the ball and soon the President and four soldiers are holed up in the kitchen where the majority of the film takes place. The five are soon joined by a lady reporter and a cameraman and so begins a drawn out conversation where the rights and wrongs of the Gulf War are explored. If that sounds a bit dry, then that’s because it is.

The leader of the kidnappers, Garrison, is large and overbearing. As well as a loud, annoying and devoid of acting skills. He also has a semi-reluctant lady soldier with him as well as a dull one and a shouty random one. Like ‘The Rock’, from where much of the film is lifted, a rescue operation goes on whilst the President is interrogated and tortured by the soldiers who want answers for the motivations behind going to war and why their friends have been killed.

Will the President be saved and what sin will the media put on the events?

I really disliked this film and it was hard to see it through. It’s agenda was clear from the start and it was almost like liberal wish fulfillment with a Bush clone being made to atone for his sins. He gets his face fried, shoes thrown at him and is water boarded and you could almost hear the long haired liberals high fiving each other off camera. Take that Republicans!

The film closed with the tired old staple of various news outlets spinning the story as a Muslim atrocity while the stock ticker on screen shows share prices rising. It wasn’t subtle and definitely not objective. It was also very low budget, poorly acted and had no redeeming features whatsoever. One to avoid!

Best Bit : ‘How do you like your face cooked?’
‘W’ Rating - 2/23

Friday, 2 October 2015

No.245 : What Richard Did

What Richard Did at the IMDb

 If you regard knowing ‘What Richard Did’ as a spoiler, walk away now as it would be hard to discuss the film without mentioning the pivotal event. You’d probably guess anyway - it’s hardly going be that he cheated at Scrabble or something.

This is an Irish film from 2012 with an unknown cast and an almost drama-documentary approach to the storytelling. The characters all chat over each other and there is very little in the way of music, something that draws you in and makes you feel like an onlooker to actual events.

The titular Richard is a young Irish rugby player. He has rich parents who own a beach house and he is the leader of his group of pals. They all look up to him and we see him carrying out good deeds such as taking a youngster under his wing and helping a girl on the verge of being date raped. These philanthropic traits are however seen in a different light later on when his skills at lying as used for less worthy goals and he is also seen to have weaknesses of his own.

The first half hour of the film is taken up with Richard and his friends heading to the beach house having bought a cargo of beer. You wonder what the point of it all is, as it trundles along with meandering scenes and largely pointless dialogue. It does well at setting the tension levels however as you are keen to know what it is that he did and when he’s going to do it - it’s Itchy and Scratchy heading to the fireworks  factory all over again!

Although handsome, fit and a friend to all we gradually get the idea that Richard maybe isn’t all he’s cracked up to with throwaway comments about people’s accents and bulimics suggesting he may be more of a dick than we initially thought. Things come to a head when he jealously sits at a party watching his new girlfriend chat to friends including a former boyfriend, and team mate of Richard, Conor.

After brooding outside the party for a while Richard confronts Conor and the two fight. After Conor gets a beating from Richard with the aid of his rugby mates, Richard gives him a final kick to the head before heading home. The next morning they learn that Conor has died of his injuries and the remainder of the film deals with the fallout. Will Richard come clean to the police or will he try to escape the consequences of his actions?

I enjoyed this moral drama and, although slightly ambiguous in its ending, I’m sure that the seeds peppered throughout the film pointed towards Richard’s character flaws dictating his final response. Although hanging on one event and decision the 85 minute film didn’t seem padded with a lot of effort put into the character development that ensured the subsequent revelations were well earned.

There were lots of scenes that ended abruptly or seemed to have little relevance but the compound effect of these was to make you feel like a voyeur peeping into the lives of others. The acting was top notch and Jack Reynor did a good job as Richard, making him likable but objectionable all at once.

At the end I don’t think there was much in the way of ambiguity and you could level accusations against the film of not having much to say. It is however an intense character piece and a great example of someone being built up and then slowly dismantled by his flaws.

‘W’ Rating 17/23
Best bit : Going for the 3 points!