Author Topic: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar  (Read 107948 times)

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #510 on: February 09, 2015, 11:24:55 PM »
Have you seen (and not just heard) Jeff Wayne's musical version? I loved that one.

Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #511 on: February 10, 2015, 05:13:29 PM »
Yes .. I love that also.  Also the video of the stage performance is great.  Brilliant musical adaptation of the original story and great performances all around.
Of course it is hard to go wrong with Richard Burton, Justin Hayward, David Essex, Chris Thompson, Phil Lynott.

And when Thunder Child heads out .. YEOW!!
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #512 on: February 17, 2015, 03:33:30 PM »
The Black Scorpion (888574-100049)
United States 1957 | Released 2014-12-09 on DVD from Warner Home Video
88 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 1.85:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
Directed by Edward Ludwig and starring Richard Denning, Mara Corday, Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro, Carlos Muzquiz

They're big. They're bad. They scuttle along in caverns miles beneath the Earth – until an earthquake opens paths to the surface. Now, these monsters of genus Arachnida are invading our world with deadly force!

With top special effects co-designed by King Kong's Willis O'Brien, The Black Scorpion is horror with a sting more lethal than the king-sized ants that overran Los Angles' sewers in the classic Them! Can humankind survive thses invincible juggernauts? That fate rests on the shoulders of Hank Scott (1950's monster-movie stalwart Richard Denning) as the creatures rip a train from its track, snatch a helicopter from the sky and, in the film's most gripping sequence, battle each other in their subterranean lair. Watch out!

My thoughts about The Black Scorpion:
I recently double-dipped on The Black Scorpion because it was finally released in its proper widescreen format. Unlike what many seem to think, the animation in this film was not done by Willis O'Brien. It was done by Pete Peterson. And it's a quite remarkable achievement since Peterson suffered from multiple sclerosis. O'Brien is credited as Supervisor of Special Effects. You can read more about Pete Peterson here.

The Black Scorpion may not be a cinematic masterpiece, but it certainly didn't deserve being ridiculed in MST3K. It's a fine example of fifties monster bug movies. Yes, it starts out slow, but that's the way most of these films did it. They built up to the reveal of the monster(s). The worst aspect of the movie is the silly close-ups of the drooling scorpion head. They don't match the animation model, and they're used way too long and too often.

Another problem is that they apparently ran out of money before they could finish all the effects, so a few of the animation scenes just have the black matte of the scorpion, presenting it as a silhouette. But it kind of works anyway.

Finally, the little Mexican boy, Juanito, is really both annoying and unnecessary. But all this doesn't stop me from liking this movie. I guess it helps that I'm a huge fan of fifties monster movies in general, and stop motion movies in particular. On first viewing I rated this movie three stars. Now, after seeing it in widescreen, I add half a star to that rating.
I rate this title

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #513 on: February 20, 2015, 10:47:46 AM »
Anaconda (Disc ID: 123E-EAED-891E-3350)
United States 1997 | Released 2009-12-09 on DVD from Columbia TriStar Home Video
86 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 2.35:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital Dolby Surround, English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital Dolby Surround, German Dolby Digital 5.1
Directed by Luis Llosa and starring Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, Jon Voight, Eric Stoltz, Jonathan Hyde

Anaconda stars JENNIFER LOPEZ (The Wedding Planner), rap superstar ICE CUBE (XXX: State of the Union), Academy Award®-winner JON VOIGHT (1978 Best Actor, Coming Home) and ERIC STOLZ (Almost Famous). A documentary film crew heads into the Amazon where they meet a man who is searching for a legendary snake. When they find the snake a wild, thrill ride begins. ANACONDA will grab you and take your breath away.

My thoughts about Anaconda:
I am a glutton for punishment, right? Well, I must be. I was browsing one of my favorite DVD retailers' website, and I noticed a box set sale. One of the box sets was the Anacondas set. I had never seen any of them, but I knew about Anaconda. Not a good film, but with some good actors, especially Jon Voight. So how could a crappy film like that spawn three (count'em three) sequels? I was intrigued. Now, I'm sure lots of people were intrigued by that fact, but that wouldn't make them want to buy that box. Well, guess what ...

So I started at the beginning, and my hunch was correct. Anaconda isn't a good film. It does have some moments, but it's also silly as hell. Let's admit it, though — Jon Voight owns this movie. He is so over-the-top that he overshadows everyone else. Except possibly the snake. Or snakes, actually. Because there must have been (at least) two different giant anacondas. Either that, or the snake has some incredible regenerating powers.

What else can you say about Anaconda? Well, let's just say that it wasn't nominated for an Academy Award® for best script. But then again, few movies in this category are nominated for anything, except possibly the Razzie® awards. And I don't know who we have to thank for that WTF moment near the end, when the boat backs away and the waterfall runs oh so visibly backwards, the editor or the director?

Okay, I have to admit that I had some fun watching this movie, because I knew what I was in for, and I was in the right mood. Will watching the sequels be as smooth sailing? I kind of doubt it. As I said, glutton for punishment ...
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Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #514 on: February 21, 2015, 10:22:06 AM »
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (Disc ID: 7B45-8677-3645-979F)
United States 2004 | Released 2009-12-09 on DVD from Columbia TriStar Home Video
93 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 2.40:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Czech Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
Directed by Dwight Little and starring Johnny Messner, Kadee Strickland, Matthew Marsden, Nicholas Gonzalez, Eugene Byrd

The blood orchid is a rare flower that holds the secret of eternal life. A scientific expedition is sent deep into the jungles of Borneo to locate the legendary plant. Battling their way upriver, the explorers are unaware they're being stalked by a nest of giant anacondas, fifty-foot-long flesh-eaters who'll stop at nothing to protect their breeding ground.

My thoughts about Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid:
I came to this movie with very low expectations. After watching Anaconda, I expected the sequel to be even worse. To my surprise I liked it about as much as I liked the first one. I really don't know why. One thing that I liked about it was that it actually had an explanation for why the anacondas had grown so big. Unfortunately it was a totally bogus explanation.

As before, the quest is one for money. But the target is not the anacondas, they are just an obstacle on the route. The target is the Blood Orchid, which is said to have properties that prolong life. So obviously they would be of immense worth in medicinal applications. And the reason why the anacondas grow so big is that they keep growing throughout their whole life, and they live where the orchids grow, they eat the orchids and thus get very old (and big). Farfetched much? Never mind that anacondas aren't even herbivores.

The movie also has a couple of really annoying characters. The worst is Burris (Eugene Byrd). He is so damned whiny that you wish one of the anacondas would come and finish him off. But no.

The whole thing is a jungle (mis)adventure, where one thing after another goes wrong, mostly not due to the snakes. And for the most part the snakes actually look pretty good. Until the end, that is, when they become just too much.

Still, not entirely unenjoyable if your in the right mood.
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Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #515 on: February 25, 2015, 10:23:57 AM »
Bullitt (Disc ID: 2A7D-4211-AF07-FD9C)
United States 1968 | Released 2012-05-01 on Bluray from Warner Home Video
114 minutes | Aspect ratio 1.78:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono, French Dolby Digital Mono, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo
Directed by Peter Yates and starring Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Jacqueline Bisset, Don Gordon, Robert Duvall

His new assignment seems routine: protect a star witness for an important trial.  But before the night is out, the witness lies dying, and cool, no-nonsense Detective Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) won’t rest until the killers are nailed.  Bullitt crackles with crisp dialogue and iconic scenery of San Francisco.  This Oscar® winner for Best Film Editing (1968) features one of film’s most memorable car chases.

My thoughts about Bullitt:
Well, I noticed that Piffi just got Bullit on blu, and I watched it a few days ago, so I thought I'd share my views on it. And hopefully we'll hear Piffi's reactions some time later.

There had been many car chases on film, but Bullit set a new standard back in 1968. I remember seeing it on the big screen back then, and what a roller coaster ride it was! If you haven't seen Bullitt in a cinema, you haven't really seen it. You can re-live it at home on DVD or (preferably) on blu-ray, but you can never really get the full experience unless you watch it on a big cinema screen.

That said, it's still a whopping good time watching it on blu, and don't let what I just said stop you if you haven't had the chance to watch it "properly" before. Steve McQueen is in top form here. And to be fair, the film is much more than just the car chase.

Many people describe Bullitt as a rogue cop movie, and a precursor to Dirty Harry. I don't see it like that. Frank Bullitt refuses to be bullied by the politician Chalmers, and does some things that aren't in the book in order to pursue the truth. But he is nowhere near the indifference to the individual's rights that Harry Callahan displays.

Bullitt may be a bit slow compared to today's slam-bang movie making, but how anyone can describe it as boring is beyond me. I truly feel sorry for anyone who is so jaded as to think that.
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Offline Piffi

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #516 on: February 25, 2015, 05:26:49 PM »
Thanks for the review Gunnar! ;) I've been so busy the last two months, so i havent been able to watch any movies at all lately. But i think i might have some time off tomorrow, and then hopefully i will be able to watch Bullitt. Havent seen it before, just heard great things about it. And after your review i'm looking forward to checking it out! :)
We'll Always Have Paris.


Thomas

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #517 on: March 21, 2015, 10:37:54 AM »
Love me tender (7-340112-705220)
United States 1956 | Released 2013-10-23 on Bluray from Fox-Paramount Home Entertainment
90 minutes | Aspect ratio 2.35:1 | Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Spanish Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, German DTS 5.1, Italian DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, Polish Dolby Digital Mono, Commentary Dolby Digital Mono
Directed by Robert Webb and starring Elvis Presley, Richard Egan, Debra Paget, Robert Middleton, William Campbell

Moviegoers were introduced to Elvis Presley in this film set during the dying hours of the Civil War. Elvis sings four songs, including the title song. The year is 1865, and the three Confederate Reno brothers don't know the war has ended. They manage to steal a Union Army payroll, and head for home with the money. While Vance (Richard Egan) can think only of the love of his life, Cathy (Debra Paget), it turns out that the brothers have been reported dead, and Cathy has married their youngest brother Clint (Elvis Presley). Vance accepts this until he learns that Cathy still loves him. To complicate things, the U.S. Army knows of the brothers' theft and is hunting them down.

My thoughts about Love me tender:
Love Me Tender was a blind buy for me. I did not know what to expect, but I did not expect this. Love Me Tender feels a bit like it's suffering from split personality. On the one hand it's a fairly good B-movie western. On the other hand it is an Elvis movie. Or perhaps I should say "an Elvis movie wannabe". Anyway, the two does not mix very well. Elvis' routines seem very anachronistic in an 1865 setting.

Love Me Tender is the one and only Elvis movie where Elvis does not receive top billing. And it is probably also the only Elvis movie where Elvis was an afterthought. And that explains the duality of the movie.

There are no real big names in the cast, but many competent actors like Richard Egan, Debra Paget and Neville Brand. And in uncredited small roles actors like L. Q. Jones and Dick Sargent.

If you're expecting a "regular" Elvis movie, then you probably will be disappointed. If you watch it as just another B-movie western, you'll be OK if you can disregard the rather uncalled for musical numbers. I had no problems with that, so I thought it was fine enough.
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Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #518 on: March 21, 2015, 06:24:42 PM »
Well at least you gave it 3 stars <G>.  I remember seeing this back in the early 60's and enjoyed it very much.  Then saw it again (well several times) in later 60's and 70's.  I did enjoy it more then than now but I still think it is a great document (first role I believe) of the beginning of the world really finding out about Elvis.  But like most all of Elvis's outings .. you kind of need to be a liker of Elvis for this to resonate.  This is the reason that he went to more musical roles (no real dramatics most of the time).  Yeah .. i think 3 stars is a good number.
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #519 on: March 23, 2015, 09:57:15 PM »
Love Me Tender was indeed Elvis' first movie. The only other really serious role that I remember seeing Elvis in was in Flaming Star. I have a feeling that Elvis would have liked a serious acting career, but Colonel Parker kept him away from that. Parker probably wanted to make Elvis a mega-star (which he succeeded brilliantly in doing) rather than letting Elvis do his own thing.

I think quite a few of Elvis' films are very entertaining, but they don't call for any great acting. I thought Flaming Star showed that Elvis had good potential as a serious actor. It would have been fun if he had been allowed to do both kinds of films.

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #520 on: March 23, 2015, 10:28:03 PM »
Diary of a Madman (883904-237914)
United States 1963 | Released 2011-01-28 on DVD from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
97 minutes | Aspect ratio Anamorphic 1.66:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono
Directed by Reginald Le Borg and starring Vincent Price, Nancy Kovack, Chris Warfield, Elaine Devry, Ian Wolfe

Vincent Price turns in a classic performance as a sculptor, possessed by an evil spirit, who hires a model (Nancy Kovack) to pose for him – then learns she has been brutally murdered.

My thoughts about Diary of a Madman:
A so-so horror movie that is saved largely by Vincent Price. I can't remember seeing Price give a bad performance, and he's good in this one, too. Based very loosely on "The Horla" by Guy de Maupassant, this seems to be an attempt to cash in on the Poe films by Roger Corman.

I liked Nancy Kovack, too. I remember her from Jason and the Argonauts, and I have seen her in a few other minor film roles, and in some TV show episodes. I'm surprised she didn't have a better career.

An OK movie, but Price's performance can't quite make up for the rather pedestrian direction. Still, if you're a Price fan (and shame on you if you're not) you should see it.
I rate this title

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #521 on: March 26, 2015, 02:58:04 PM »
The Long Goodbye (5-027035-010717)
United States 1973 | Released 2013-12-16 on Bluray from Arrow Academy, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
112 minutes | Aspect ratio Non-anamorphic 2.35:1 | Audio: English PCM Mono, Special Effects PCM Mono
Directed by Robert Altman and starring Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson

When private eye Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) is visited by an old friend, this sets in train a series of events in which he’s hired to search for a missing novelist (Sterling Hayden) and finds himself on the wrong side of vicious gangsters.

So far so faithful to Raymond Chandler, but Robert Altman’s inspired adaptation of the writer’s most personal novel takes his legendary detective and relocates him to the selfish, hedonistic culture of 1970s Hollywood, where he finds that his old-fashioned notions of honour and loyalty carry little weight, and even his smoking (universal in film noir) is now frowned upon.

Widely misunderstood at the time, The Long Goodbye is now regarded as one of Altman’s best films and one of the outstanding American films of its era, with Gould’s shambling, cat-obsessed Marlowe ranking alongside more outwardly faithful interpretations by Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum.

My thoughts about The Long Goodbye:
I feel a bit guilty for not loving The Long Goodbye. Perhaps I just had the wrong expectations. I knew that many people rated this film so very highly. I'm not sure what it was about it that didn't click with me. I really liked Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe, though. The story seemed a bit convoluted, but then again so do many film noir stories. Well, maybe it was just the wrong film at the wrong time for me.
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Offline DSig

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #522 on: March 28, 2015, 11:47:49 PM »
Funny .. i have always enjoyed Altman's work but didn't really enjoy this one either.  But Elliot Gould seemed 'uneasy' or just not in sync to me as Marlow.  Maybe it was the transition to the 70's that was off for me.  Either way .. something just doesn't sync right
Thank you
David

Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #523 on: March 30, 2015, 10:00:46 AM »
Night and the City (5-035673-006153)
United Kingdom 1950 | Released 2007-10-15 on DVD from BFI (British Film Institute), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
92 minutes | Aspect ratio 1.37:1 | Audio: English Dolby Digital Mono, Commentary Dolby Digital 2-Channel Stereo
Directed by Jules Dassin and starring Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers, Hugh Marlowe, Francis L. Sullivan

Richard Widmark delivers an indelible performance as Harry Fabian, a small-time American nightclub tout and desperate dreamer who tries to worm his way into the wrestling rackets of post-war London. In his path lie the formidable obstacles posed by a vengeful club owner Phil Nosseross (Francis Sullivan) and the racketeer Kristo (Herbert Lom). The club owner's sultry wife (Googie Withers) schemes with him, and a long-suffering girlfriend (Gene Tierney) does her best to save Harry from himself. Like many a noir hero before him, Harry thinks he can outrun his fate. He's wrong.

Jules Dassin, under suspicion in Hollywood for his political beliefs, made the film at great speed, shooting night scenes in a London still shattered and skeletal from wartime bombings. Adapted from the lowlife novel by Gerald Kersh, Night and the City is a baroque masterpiece of corruption, paranoia and doom.

My thoughts about Night and the City:
It's always fun to see films shot on location in London. Although there is not a lot of it that I recognize in this film. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The film itself is very good. It's an interesting story, and I always liked Richard Widmark. Hugh Marlowe seems a bit wasted. Not sure why they would cast such a well known actor in such a nothing role. But other than that, the casting is really good. One would never guess that wrestler Stanislaus Zbyszko had no previous acting experience. Herbert Lom looks really menacing, a far cry from his later Chief Inspector Dreyfus character. But there are also a lot of great characters in smaller roles. I really liked the uncredited Maureen Delaney as Anna O'Leary late in the film, for example.

Apart from some old Hammer films, I haven't seen a lot of British film noir. But this is an excellent example of the genre, directed by the great Jules Dassin. I always thought that Dassin was a Frenchman. His name sounds French, and his best known film - Rififi - is French. It wasn't until I started reading about this film that I realized that Dassin was in fact a US citizen, born in Connecticut.

But this is really Widmark's film. He was a great actor, and he really shines here. I wish Dassin would have had the opportunity to use him in other films, too. They make a great combination. And they make a very good film. Highly recommended.
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Offline GSyren

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Re: Reviews and ramblings by Gunnar
« Reply #524 on: April 05, 2015, 01:53:59 PM »
Streets of Fire (5-028836-040279)
United States 1984 | Released 2013-11-18 on Bluray from Second Sight, Universal City Studios
94 minutes | Aspect ratio 1.85:1 | Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English PCM 2-Channel Stereo
Directed by Walter Hill and starring Michael Paré, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan, Willem Dafoe

WALTER HILL'S classic, highly stylized 'rock & roll fable' has gained a huge cult following since its original 1984 release and with its backdrop of rain-drenched, neon-lit streets is one of the most visually iconic films of the decade.

Big time rock singer Ellen Aim is playing her hometown when she is grabbed from the stage by local bike gang The Bombers, led by the menacing Raven. Tom Cody, a tough ex-soldier and Ellen's ex-boyfriend returns home to get her back and he's ready to take on the whole gang.

My thoughts about Streets of Fire:
Maybe I should have bought Walter Hill's The Warriors and have watched it before I watched Streets of Fire, because many people say that Streets of Fire is basically a musical version of The Warriors. Well, I can't comment on that, but I can say that I'm a bit ambivalent about Streets of Fire. The best thing about this movie is definitely its visual style. The second best is the rock songs. But I'm not especially impressed by the story itself.

When it comes to performances, I liked Diane Lane and Willem Dafoe. Michael Paré seemed kind of stiff, but maybe that was Hill's intention. I had a hard time accepting Rick Moranis in a straight role. I kept seeing him as Wayne Szalinski (Honey I shrunk the Kids and its sequels). Possibly intentional by Hill, but that just didn't work for me.

All in all, not quite my thing, but still a good enough film experience.
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