drama, fantasy, horror, movie, movie review

March 24th, 2018 Movie – Trollhunter


Years ago, while reading a horror movie blog, I came across a reference for today’s movie and it immediately caught my eye. I think the main thing about it was the fact that it was essentially a kaiju movie, only based in Norway. Now I for one thought that the change of scenery might be a nice change of pace while the subject matter itself could lead to a good movie. I ended up seeing it on Netflix shortly after the started streaming it and enjoyed it enough that I bought it on DVD when they stopped streaming it. So let’s enjoy today’s movie, Trollhunter.

The plot: On October 13th, 2008, a film studio received a package containing hard drives with 283 minutes of footage on them. The studio made a rough cut of the footage in chronological order and investigators spent a year trying to determine if the footage was real or not and ultimately declared it to be authentic.
Thomas, Johanna, and Kalle, three students from Volda University College, are doing a film project focused on a suspected poacher who was spotted near in the area of a bear sighting. After interviewing some licensed bear hunters, of which there are a select few, they learn the man’s name is Hans and he drives a Land Rover. Heading to the campground where Hans is staying, the manager shows them where his trailer is, saying that Hans goes out every night and never comes back before sunrise, while complaining about the stench coming from Hans’ trailer. When Hans returns the next morning, Thomas tries to interview him but Hans curtly tells him to get lost. Johanna, their sound engineer, places a microphone next to Han’s and they hear him on the phone with someone before he heads out. Thomas and the others attempt to follow him but they lose him so they head back to try and take a look in the trailer and Kalle, the cameraman, sees some furry things hanging from the ceiling and a shotgun inside. The next day, they head out to where a dead bear was spotted and interview some of the hunters, who believe the bear was planted there and the tracks were fake but Finn Haugen, head of the Norwegian Wildlife Board, says they are mistaken. When Hans leaves the campground, Thomas and the others follow after him, with Thomas attempting to question him when they are on a ferry. Hans pulls into another campground and Thomas and the others wait until he leaves that night, then follow after him. They lose sight of him in some woods but after exploring for a while, they soon find his Land Rover but no sign of Hans. Suddenly, they see some flashing lights in the distance and hear something roaring. Thomas comes running out of the woods, yelling “Troll”, and then leads them towards his Land Rover. During their running through the woods, something bit Thomas in the shoulder and Hans tends to his injury, as Kalle questions him about what he said. Hans gives them a ride back to their car only to find it has been overturned and destroyed so he drives them back to the campground. Thomas tries talking to Hans about what he said and then says he wants to film what he does and Hans agrees, provided that they do exactly what he says. The next night, Hans goes to pick them up and asks if any of them believe in God or Jesus, saying that Trolls can smell the blood of a Christian man, and Thomas, Johanna, and Kalle all say no. Returning to the woods, Hans tells them to head down to a nearby stream and scrub themselves and their clothes to remove the scent of body odor, then rub troll stench on them so that they smell like trolls. After the kids reluctantly do as he says, they head into the woods and Hans determines the type of troll he is hunting. He places a call, saying that it is a Ringlefinch and it has been chased from it’s territory, as it is marking it’s new territory, and the person on the other end asks him to try and collect a blood sample if possible. Leaving Thomas and the others in a clearing, Hans heads further into the woods to hunt the troll. As they wait for Hans to return, Thomas and the others hear something large approaching, knocking over trees as it moves. They soon see Hans running from the woods, telling them it is a Tosserlad, and they catch sight of a large 3-headed troll approaching them so they quickly run for it. They end up getting separated and Kalle uses the night vision function on his camera to see better and manages to spot Thomas and Hans, who motions them to be quiet as the Troll is close by. The troll starts sniffing and spots the three humans and gives chase and Hans yells at them to get behind his car, then Hans activates the UV lights on top of his car, turning the troll to stone. Johanna rejoins the others and they talk excitedly about what happened but Hans interrupts them, chastising them for lying and says that one of them is a Christian due to the way the troll was sniffing about. Thomas and the others insist that they aren’t and Hans gets to work on smashing the troll, then blowing it up into gravel so that no one will know trolls exist. In the morning, Thomas and the others are shocked to see Finn show up, who is not happy to see the kids filming him, followed by a van carrying a dead bear. Finn and the other men work on depositing the bear in the woods, leaving fake tracks to fool people, and after they leave, Hans shoots the bear and then they leave. As they eat breakfast, Hans explains what he knows about trolls and says that Finn wants to keep trolls a secret but Hans feels it is time for a change, especially as he is underpaid, and he agreed to let them film hoping it would get on TV and force some changes. When they ask how often trolls attack people, Hans tells them it rarely happens but something has been forcing trolls out of their normal habitats and into more populated areas recently. They return to Hans’ trailer for a minute and then head out to locate the Ringlefinch, hearing a news report about two tourists being killed by a bear as they drive along. They soon learn where the Ringlefinch might be hiding and come to a press conference Finn is having discussing a Russian bear being in the area, but when Thomas questions some of the facts he is stating, Finn looks evily at him as he leaves. That night, Hans leads some goats and sheep onto the bridge where the Ringlefinch had stored some food and then waits for it to show up. When the Ringlefinch grabs one of the goats, Hans, wearing a suit of armor, heads onto the bridge and retrieves the other goats, then pours some Christian blood onto the bridge. When the Ringlefinch goes onto the bridge to investigate, Hans attempts to use a giant syringe to take a blood sample but the troll ends up knocking him unconscious. After the troll goes back under the bridge, Thomas and the others go check on Hans, who recovers and then heads down after the troll, getting the blood sample before killing it. They then head to a vet to drop off the sample and Thomas interviews her while they are there. The vet says it will take a few days to get the results of the sample so they drive off, with Hans wanting to check out some of the nearby territories to see if any trolls have left the area. They eventually head to a farm where a supposed tornado occurred but Hans determines that 3 trolls had ran through the area, which explains the knocked over trees. Coming back at night to track the trolls, Hans heads out but as Thomas and Johanna go to follow, Kalle starts getting nervous and doesn’t want to go but Thomas convinces him to follow Hans. They soon come to an abandoned mine and Hans determines that this is where they sleep during the day and heads in for a closer look. As the others follow, Kalle asks for more troll stench to put on and they discover that the mine is the lair for several trolls but as they go to leave, they hear the trolls returning to the mine and quickly hide in a side passage. Trapped by the trolls, Kalle nervously puts on more stench but when he runs out, he admits to the others that he is Christian. As he starts sweating, the trolls start to wake up and catch wind of his scent and Hans tells them to run. They make a break for the exit, with Hans using his UV rifle to try and fend off the trolls but they manage to grab and kill Kalle. Later, Finn meets up with them and says the troll situation is getting out of hand and is upset that they are still filming what is going on, with Finn and Hans arguing when Finn tries to grab the camera from Johanna. Thomas and Johanna decide to keep riding with Hans and are joined by a new camerawoman, Malica. When Thomas asks if she is Christian, Malica says she is Muslim and Hans admits he doesn’t know how the trolls will react to that. Coming across a section of forest where all the trees have been knocked down, Hans says it looks like a Jotnar, the largest of the trolls, came through there, which is why the other trolls have all been moved from their normal territories. Explaining that power lines act as electrical fences surrounding troll territories, they head to the power station and learn that a section of power lines had been knocked down 3 weeks ago. Heading into the territory, they head to a TSS (Troll Security Service) cabin and sleep there as they make plans to try and locate the Jotnar. At the cabin, Thomas begins to feel ill and Johanna tries to take care of him in the cabin. Hearing roaring in the distance, Hans heads outside and unveils the massive UV spotlight he attached to the roof of his Land Rover. When the vet calls and tells them the blood sample he took tested positive for rabies, Hans believes that the Jotnar infected all of the other trolls, causing them to leave their territories, and that Thomas is infected as well. As the Jotnar appears in the distance, Hans rides out and attempts to kill it with the strobe light but the flash runs out of power. Driving back to the others, they head out, with the Jotnar giving chase, and Hans explains that he has to wear it out some before he will be able to kill it. When they see someone flagging them down, they stop to pick the stranger up and Hans uses the strobe to drive it off but as he tries to get in front of it to attack it again, the troll swipes the Land Rover and knocks it on it’s side. As they get out of the vehicle, they see the Jotnar roaring in pain and Hans grabs his gear, preparing to finish off the Jotnar. Hans tells Thomas that he hopes he has enough footage then points them towards the highway. Hans manages to kill the Jotnar but then disappears from view so Thomas, Johanna, Malica, and the hitchhiker (who was a seismologist) begin walking down the highway. When they spot some cars approaching them, Thomas and Johanna recognize them as Finn and his men and Thomas grabs the camera from Malica and he and Johanna try to run for it. Johanna falls and ends up being caught and Thomas is shown making it to the highway but as a truck approaches he is tackled and drops the camera.
The footage ends there and no sign of Thomas and the others was found, nor was Kalle’s body recovered. Though the government never fully acknowledged that trolls exist, the Prime Minister does mention that Norway has trolls and needed more power lines to contain them and though his aide does react to his statement, the press doesn’t seem to pay it any heed.

Trollhunter met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Trollhunter is a mockumentary with an appropriate level of creeping dread, but one that also benefits from generous helpings of dry wit.” The movie uses several references to Norwegian folklore and culture in regard to trolls, as well as some fairy tales, such as “Three Billy Goats Gruff”. The movie was a success in Norway, earning NOK 24 million ($4.159 million) off of a budget of NOK 19 million ($3.5 million).

This is one of the better “found footage” films out there. The acting was good, with Otto Jespersen (Hans), Glenn Erland Tosterud (Thomas), and Johanna Mørok (Johanna) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked Tomas Alf Larsen, who did a good job playing the skeptical Kalle, but really did a good job selling the panic and fear when they were trapped in the cave. The story was good, with the use of folklore doing a good job helping to sell the belief that trolls really did exist in modern day Norway. I also thought the footage of the scenery as they just traveled to the various locations was great and helped make this seem like a real documentary. The special effects regarding the trolls were a lit better than I thought they would be and I liked how they made sure to make the trolls look different to indicate all the different species that there are. I know subtitled movies are not everyone’s personal preference but this is one that is well worth giving a shot.

Rating: 4 out of 5

drama, movie, movie review

March 16th, 2018 Movie – Trapped By Television

trapped by television

I hate when they put movies into a collection that honestly have no business being in there. Case in point, today’s movie. I know that television was still a relatively new invention in 1936, as in seriously brand new, but I don’t see how a movie about someone inventing a new television belongs in a collection called Sci-Fi Invasion. The only way it would make sense is if the television somehow allowed an alien army to invade the Earth (which actually was kind of the plot of a B-movie about 50 years after this one came out). Well, only thing to do is watch today’s movie, Trapped By Television, and see what exactly I have on my hands.

The plot: At the Acme Collection agency, J.W. Gregg chastises one of his employees, Rocky O’Neil, for reading science magazines and sends him to see Fred Dennis and either collect the money he owes or the equipment he bought with it. Rocky arrives at Fred’s apartment and speaks with the landlord, who says that Fred owes her 3 months rent. When Rocky enters Fred’s apartment, Fred tries to say that he will pay them back in a few months when he finishes his invention but Rocky says he has already put off paying for 8 months. As Fred begins removing some of his own parts from the equipment, Rocky asks what he is working on and Fred explains that it is a new type of television receiver but he doesn’t have the parts to finish it or the camera. Rocky asks if the TV studios would want to buy it and Fred says probably if he can get it working so Rocky says he will forget the debt and help him get the money to finish his inventions. Rocky takes Fred to the collection agency and manages to get him a job, not letting Gregg know who Fred really is. Fred goes out on his first assignment to collect some money from Barbara “Bobby” Blake, a business manager that sponsors inventors, only none of them have panned out. When Fred tries to get the money from her, the end up talking about his invention and she asks to see it so Fred takes Bobby and her secretary Mae Collins, back to his apartment. While they are looking at the television, they are joined by Rocky, and Bobby says she can help promote Fred’s invention and wants to start right away. Meanwhile, a newspaper story is written about an inventor, Paul Turner, and his aide, Griffin, having gone missing, leaving the radio station they were employed by baffled. In truth, Griffin, is part of the mob and has kidnapped the inventor in order to cash in on a deal with the station. At the station, Mr. Standish is talking with station owner John Curtis about Turner’s disappearance and tells him that the only way the station can avoid bankruptcy is to go into television and Curtis reluctantly agrees. After leaving Paragon Broadcasting, Standish returns to the apartment where Griffin is keeping Turner hostage, warning him to keep Griffin quiet. He then tells them that Curtis is ready to sell and Griffin tells him to make sure their bid is at the top, then kills Turner, who is continuing to pound on the door and demand to be let go. The next day, Curtis holds a board meeting and discusses the offer a company has bid on upgrading their radio stations to television stations and Standish says that the company’s offer was the lowest out there. The board is hesitant to agree to the deal, as the station could be absorbed by the company if things didn’t pan out. After the board leaves, Curtis reluctantly takes a meeting with Bobby, who pitches Fred’s invention to him and he agrees to giver her $200 to the rights. Afterwards, Curtis tells Standish to file the paperwork on the money as a charity, thinking that it will never succeed. Bobby returns to the office with the money, then goes to see Fred, who tells her that he can finish the invention for $200, which Bobby reluctantly hands him. Fred finally finishes the machine and as he tests it with Rocky, he reveals that it works perfectly, Excited by his success, he calls Bobby in the middle of the night to tell her the good news and they start making plans on what to do next. Bobby arranges a demonstration for Paragon, which Curtis is happy to have as it could solve their financial problems. When Standish tells Griffin the news, Griffin decides to figure out a way to ruin the demonstration so that his plan con continue unabated. Rocky swipes a truck and they load the equipment into it, then Fred and Bobby drop off Rocky and Mae at a football game with the camera while they head to Paragon with the view screen. When they arrive their, they load the screen into the freight elevator but the operator tells them they can’t ride up in it and must take the passenger elevator. After Fred and Bobby walk away, Standish enters the room, congratulating his partner on deceiving them, then works to sabotage the device as they head up. In the board room, Curtis introduces Fred and Bobby and when Standish brings in the viewer, Fred turns it on and tries to show the game that Rocky is filming but nothing comes on the screen. Fred tries to examine the machine as it burst into smoke and the board walks away, with Curtis yelling at Bobby and Fred. Later, Fred works on trying to figure out what went wrong and discovers that someone deliberately sabotaged the device, causing the cathode ray tube to blow. He tries to tell Bobby about it but she is upset over the money that the lost and Fred, who has feelings for her, tells her he didn’t realize money was her only concern and vows to get the machine working so she can get her money back before he storms off. Some time later, Fred receives a delivery of a cathode ray tube and thinks Rocky had sent it but when Rocky says he knows nothing of it, Fred realizes that Bobby must have sent it. Fred and Rocky go to see Bobby and Mae, and Fred embraces Bobby and kisses her, as it is revealed that Bobby had sold her fur coat to buy the tube. With the machine fixed, Fred and Bobby try to see Curtis again but he refuses to see them. They ask Standish for help and he takes them into his office and says he will talk to Curtis, but while there he simply pushes the deal with Griffin, saying he shaved some money off the cost. Standish returns to his office and tells them Curtis won’t see them but asks for Fred’s address in case things change. Returning to Bobby’s office, Bobby has Mae and Rocky help them contact all of the board members, whose names she took from Standish’s office, and they tell them that there is a emergency board meeting that night at 9. When Curtis and the board members show up, they are confused as to what is going on until Rocky and Mae show up with the view screen. When he gets it set up, Rocky has Mae call Fred so they can start broadcasting. Meanwhile, Griffin, Standish, and their accomplice head over to Fred’s apartment and Griffin and his accomplice go upstairs to grab Fred. When they move to destroy the camera, Fred starts fighting with them, telling Bobby to turn on the camera. Back in the board room, the picture comes in and Curtis and the board members all marvel at the clear image but Rocky realizes that something is wrong and rushes off to help his friend. Griffin and his accomplice eventually get the upper hand on Fred and they take him and Bobby to the car but Rocky, who had grabbed a cab and sped back to the apartment, sees them and forces them off the road, then knocks them out just as the police arrive to arrest them. Some time later, Curtis and the board are watching a image of Fred and Bobby getting ready to go out and celebrating the new success of Paragon while elsewhere, Rocky and Mae watch the couple on their own television and embrace each other.

Since I went into this not really having any knowledge of the movie, I can honestly say that it isn’t that bad of a movie but is a little boring. The acting was good, with Lyle Talbot (Fred), Nat Pendleton (Rocky), and Mary Astor (Bobby) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked Marc Lawrence, who did a good job playing the villainous Griffin. The story was fairly straightforward but didn’t really have a whole lot of actual drama until the end. In fact, the majority of the movie seemed rather bland, with the only real drama being the scenes where Griffin and his associates were involved. It’s a good way to kill an hour but that is about the only thing to stand out about it.

Rating: 2 out of 5

dark comedy, drama, movie, movie review

March 4th, 2018 Movie – Trainspotting


When it comes to movies and books that center around drugs, they tend to be very realistic in their portrayals. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it; as some people will say that such media tends to glorify drug use. Now I am honestly indifferent on the drug use in the books or movies, as I focus more on the story itself and know that drug use can make the story more poignant. When it comes to today’s movie, none of those factors came into play. I was interested in seeing it simply because of the monologue tagline that Ewan McGregor’s character said during the trailer and the use of Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life”. Not the best reasons I know but I was still a teenager when this came out and shallowness is the hallmark of that age. Now let’s see how this movie stands up as I watch today’s movie, Trainspotting.

The plot: Mark “Rent Boy” Renton and his friend Daniel “Spud” Murphy are running from two men and as a car pulls out in front of them, Renton rolls over the hood while Spud keeps running, with one of the men still chasing him, while Renton stops and laughs at the driver of the car. Some time earlier, Renton and Spud are getting high on heroin with their friends Sick Boy, Allison (who brought her infant daughter Dawn with her) and their dealer “Mother Superior”. Renton decides to go clean and gets all the supplies that he thinks he will need while going through withdrawl, then calls a friend to get one last hit but the man gives him some methadone suppositories, saying they will be perfect for him as they will provide a more gradual release to help him get clean. As he is heading back to his flat, Renton gets a case of diarrhea and stops at a pub, which has the worst toilet in Scotland. Braving the filth encrusted stall, Renton goes to use the toilet but as he finishes, he accidentally drops the suppositories into the bowl and has to crawl into it to fish them out, then heads back home to start getting clean. Sick Boy decides to go clean at the same time, mostly just to annoy Renton by showing how easy it is for him to do so as the two hang out at a park shooting people with an air rifle. Renton also tries to help out Spud in getting a job but Spud completely blows the interview. Later, Renton, Spud, and Sick Boy go out drinking with their friends Begbie, a violent, psychotic friend man who loved to start fights, Tommy, the only drug free friend in the group, as well as Lizzy (Tommy’s girlfriend) and Gail (a girl Spud is dating). After Begbie causes a fight at the pub, the group head out to the Volcano Nightclub and Renton, who has been feeling horny from his withdrawal, sees a young woman named Diane and approaches her after she leaves. After talking for a few minutes, Diane invites Renton back to her flat and the two have sex but afterwards, she kicks him out, saying he can’t sleep there, so he ends up falling asleep on the couch in the hall. Meanwhile, Tommy and Lizzy go back to Tommy’s place to have sex but when Lizzy wants to watch a video of themselves while they have sex, they discover that the tape is actually a tape of soccer matches and Tommy thinks he might have returned the wrong tape by mistake, not knowing that Renton had actually switched tapes so he could watch it. Elsewhere, Spud follows Gail back to her place but ends up passing out on her bed. When he wakes up in the morning, he realized he had defecated in the bed and tries to leave with the dirty sheets but as Gail’s mom tries to grab them and wash them and as he struggles with her, the sheet opens up and feces go flying all over Gail and her family. When Renton wakes up, he learns that Diane is underage and is upset that she tricked him and when he tries to break things off with her, she blackmails him into continuing to see her or else she will go to the police. Renton, Sick Boy, and Spud decide to go back to doing heroin and Tommy starts joining them, as Lizzy broke up with him over the missing tape. As they continue to do drugs, Allison starts screaming one day and they discover that Dawn has died sometime during the night while they were all high and Sick Boy is upset about it while Allison asks Renton for a hit to numb her pain. Renton and the others result to stealing to support their habits, which brings us to the events at the beginning of the movie. Renton and Spud are taken to court for shoplifting and Spud is sentenced to 6 months in prison while Renton has checked into a rehab facility for treatment to avoid prison. As Renton is with his family and friends celebrating not going to prison, Spud’s mother shows up and Renton apologizes that spud went to prison instead of him but she just walks away. Renton goes to see Mother Superior to get a hit and ends up over dosing so Mother Superior calls a cab and has him dropped off at the emergency room. After being treated for his overdose, Renton is picked up by his parents, who take him back to their and lock him in his old room, weening him off heroin cold turkey. During his withdrawal period, Renton starts hallucinating about Spud, Tommy, and Baby Dawn, who crawls along his ceiling. As he gets clean, his parents have him tested for HIV and he despite his years of sharing needles, Renton is clean. Tommy, whose life has fallen apart after Lizzy left him, has contracted HIV and when Renton goes to pay him a visit, he asks Renton for some money so he can buy a hit. Diane pays Renton a visit and as they are talking, she tells him the world is changing and he isn’t getting any younger. Renton takes her words to heart and moves to London to start a new life, getting a job as a property letting agent. He stays in contact with Diane, who tells him that Sick Boy has become a pimp (and tried to recruit her), she ran into Spud, and nobody had seen Tommy for weeks. As he reads the part in the letter about Begbie being wanted for armed robbery, he hears someone ringing his doorbell and realizes who it is. Begbie, who is on the run from the police stays at Renton’s place and has him place a bet on a horse race, which he wins and they go out to celebrate. Some time later, Sick Boy shows up, looking to make a big score and after he sells Renton’s TV, Renton places his passport in a locker and moves them into an unrented loft so they won’t get him into trouble, hoping his boss will catch them and have them arrested for vagrancy. Before that happens, they head back to their hometown to attend Tommy’s funeral and afterwards, as they are having some beers in their old hangout, Sick Boy tells them of a large shipment of heroin that they can buy for £4,000 and sell in London for £16,000. Sick Boy convinces Renton to front the money and unfortunately, he is the one that has to test the product to make sure it is good. As they head back to London, Begbie gets more and more paranoid, as if he is busted for this he will be looking at a huge prison sentence when it is added to the armed robbery charge. After making the deal, the four go out to celebrate and as Sick Boy and Begbie leave the table, Renton talks with Spud about taking the money and leaving but Spud doesn’t want to, as he is too scared of Begbie. When a man bumps into Begbie and makes him spill some of the beers he is carrying, Begbie attacks the man and brutally beats him, accidentally slicing Spud with his knife when Spud tries to intervene. Renton sees this as the last straw and as they are all sleeping, he quietly gets dressed and steals the bag from Begbie, who was holding it as he slept. Spud sees him as he leaves and Renton waits to see if he will go with him or shout out but Spud shakes his head no so Renton walks out the door. He heads to the locker and grabs his passport, leaving £4,000 in there for Spud, as he felt sorry for him. When Begbie wakes up and discovers the money is missing, he begins trashing the hotel room and the cops end up being called and arresting him. Spud and Sick Boy leave, with Spud going to the locker and getting the money, while Renton takes the rest of the money and heads off to start a new life.

Trainspotting met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A brutal, often times funny, other times terrifying portrayal of drug addiction in Edinburgh. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth viewing as a realistic and entertaining reminder of the horrors of drug use.” The character Sick Boy is shown to be a huge James Bond fan in the film, which is ironic because Jonny Lee Miller, who played Sick Boy, is the grandson of Bernard Lee, who played “M” in the series until 1979. The movie was a box office hit, earning £48 million ($72 million) off of a £1.5 million budget, picking up several awards and an Academy Award nom and just over 20 years later, a sequel was released that picked up the story of the characters 20 years after the original movie.

This is a somewhat dark but very good movie. The acting was great, with Ewan McGregor (Renton), Jonny Lee Miller (Sick Boy), Ewen Bremner (Spud), and Robert Carlyle (Begbie) all doing great jobs in their roles. The story was very realistic and did a good job showcasing the ups and downs of people using heroin, and the withdrawals as well. The scenes were pretty graphic at times, with baby Dawn’s death, and the hallucination of her crawling on the ceiling being especially disturbing, even today. A lot of the imagery and music use during some of the scenes also helped with the realistic feel to this movie, even the scenes that you knew were hallucinations or very liberal use of artistic imagery (such as Renton actually crawling into the toilet to get the suppositories). I know it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and some might find it downright depressing, but I do think this is one of those movies that everyone should watch at least once.

Rating: 4 out of 5

action, drama, movie, movie review, western

February 27th, 2018 Movie – Tombstone


It’s been a while since I have watched a western. This is probably due to the fact that it is not a genre of movies that I particularly care for as a whole, but there are several standout movies that do catch my interest. I mean, there are a couple of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood movies that I have watched and enjoyed, while some more recent movies and remakes have also been entertaining. However, today’s movie is somewhat a first because it is the first western that I actually liked enough to buy on video/DVD, well maybe the second because I did buy Blazing Saddles first. Anyways, I remember going to see this movie in theaters and thinking it was a lot of fun and even though I own it on DVD, it has been a while since I have watched it. Now let’s see if the teenage memories do today’s movie justice as I watch Tombstone.

The plot: In 1879, a group of outlaws known as the Cochise County Cowboys ride into a Mexican town and interrupt a police officer’s wedding. Holding up two red sashes, which the Cowboys are known for wearing, their leader, William “Curly Bill” Brocius, tells the assembled officers that they killed two of his men, then he and his men proceed to kill all of the police officers there, including the newly married groom and his wife. When the priest starts saying that their acts will be avenged, quoting Revelations and it’s passage of Death riding on a pale horse, he is shot as well. Meanwhile, retired sheriff Wyatt Earp arrives in Tucson Arizona and is approached by two U.S. Marshals but he turns down their offer to work for them. He is then met by his brothers Morgan and Virgil and their wives Allie and Louisa. Wyatt introduces them to Mattie Blaylock, his common–law wife, and then starts putting his suitcases in the wagon for their trip, while Allie gives Mattie a bottle laudanum, which she says is for her headaches. Wyatt and his family eventually reach Tombstone, Arizona and are greeted by Johnny Behan, the town sheriff, who speaks with Wyatt and offers him the use of three cabins that just came up for rent. Later, Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil are talking with Marshall Fred White, who points out some Cowboys nearby and says they are really the “law” around there. He then talks about the various casinos in town and mentions one, the Oriental, that has fallen on hard times. Wyatt heads over to the Oriental and speaks with the bar tender, commenting on how nice it is and wondering why it is so dead. The bartender explains that a dealer had shown up and taken over one of the tables and essentially run everyone out so Wyatt confronts the man and gets rid of him, then offers his own services for 25% of the house. Wyatt rejoins his brothers to tell them about his good fortunes, not noticing the dealer coming up behind them with a shotgun. Suddenly, Doc Holliday appears, calling out the dealer, who he knows, then shakes hands with his friend Wyatt and the others. After chasing off the dealer, Wyatt introduces Doc to Behan just as a gunshot is heard at a nearby saloon and they see two associates, Texas Jack Vermillion and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, involved. The two Jack’s say hello to their friends but Fred tells them they have to turn over their guns. When a theater troupe arrives in town, Wyatt finds himself attracted to Josephine Marcus, an actress in the troupe and attends the show that night with the rest of his family as well as Doc and his companion. After the show, Wyatt heads off to work and has an encounter with Curly Bill and his lieutenant Johnny Ringo. Ringo’s attention is focused on Doc, wanting to test his skill against Doc’s but Doc refuses to take the bait and things end up settling down as Curly Bill, Ringo, and the other Cowboys leave. The next day, Wyatt is on his way home when he runs into Josephine and the two end up riding together and talking, where Josephine asks him if he is happy with his life. The next night, Curly Bill gets drunk and ends up shooting his gun around town and when Behan refuses to do anything about it, Fred heads out and tells Curly Bill to turn in his guns but ends up getting shot. Wyatt knocks Curly Bill out and starts taking him to the jail but Ike and Billy Canton, and some of the other Cowboys tell him to let Curly Bill go. Wyatt refuses, saying Curly Bill will stand trial, then holds a gun to Ike’s head while Doc, Morgan, and Virgil back him up. The next day, Curly Bill is let go due to a lack of witnesses to the shooting and the U.S. Marshalls ask Wyatt and his brothers to become the new marshalls but they turn them down at first but later, after rescuing a boy from getting trampled by the Cowboys as they leave town, Virgil becomes the new marshall, and Morgan joins him. Virgil’s first act is to forbid guns from being carried in town, forcing people to check them when they enter. That night, a drunken Ike loses to Doc in a poker game and as he cusses him out, Doc collapses to the ground and Wyatt and Morgan carry him to the hotel. Ike gets his guns from the bartender and drunkenly declares he will kill Wyatt and Doc the next time he sees them but Virgil knocks him out and locks him in a cell. When some Cowboys show up to pick up Ike and get his weapons, they threaten retaliation and Wyatt has Virgil swear him in as a Marshall. Later, 6 Cowboys, including Billy and Ike, ride into town and head over to the O.K. Corral. Doc joins up with the Earps and Wyatt wants to just let them simmer down but Virgil wants to arrest them for carrying weapons as a show that they can’t break the law so Wyatt relents. The four men head over to the corral and are met by Behan, who says that he disarmed the Cowboys but when they continue, he quickly hides inside a nearby building. When they get to the corral, they discover that Behan lied and a gunfight ensues, with Morgan and Virgil getting wounded, Billy and most of the Cowboys getting killed while Ike manages to escape. The next day, a drunken Ringo tries calling out Wyatt and his brothers to fight but they refuse and Curly Bill pulls him away before he starts a fight with Doc, saying that the time isn’t right. A few nights later, Behan tells Josephine, whom he has been seeing, that he knows of the attraction between her and Wyatt but after tonight, he will be the only law in town. Josephine heads over to Virgil’s house to warn Mattie, Allie, and Louisa, then saves them when a Cowboy attempts to kill them. Meanwhile, Wyatt, Morgan, and Virgil are eating dinner and Virgil leaves to go home but is ambushed by the Cowboys and stumbles back into the bar. Wyatt and Morgan carry him to his home and the doctor says he will lose his arm, prompting Morgan to storm off while Allie blames Wyatt for what happened. As Wyatt leaves, he runs into Sherman McMaster, who says he had no part in what happened and is no longer with the Cowboys, throwing his sash on the ground. Sherman is accompanied by the two Jacks, who tell Wyatt that if he needs them to let them know, then the three ride off. Morgan had gone to shoot pool but is shot in the back and ends up dying from the wound. The next day, Wyatt and Doc place Morgan’s coffin in a wagon and ride out of town, with Virgil and the wives following behind them. Wyatt stops to tell Curly Bill that it is over between them but after they leave, Curly Bill sends Ike and Stillwell to follow after them to kill Wyatt. Wyatt has Virgil and the women get on the train but when Stillwell and Ike show up to kill them, Wyatt kills Stillwell, then sends Ike with a message to the other Cowboys, saying that he is coming for anyone wearing a red sash and will kill them. Swearing in Doc, Sherman, and the two Jacks, Wyatt and his posse begin riding out and killing every Cowboy they find. When they come to a river, they get in an ambush set up by Curly Bill but Wyatt walks out into the river, untouched by any of the bullets, and kills Curly Bill, but afterwards Sherman says that Ringo will be coming out for blood. Some time later, Behan has deputized Ringo and the other cowboys to arrest Wyatt and his posse and they come across a stage coach containing Josephine and Mr. Fabian, who was shot by one of the Cowboys while preventing them from robbing them. Josephine chastises Behan for his actions and Behan’s deputy leaves, saying that there has to be some sort of law around there. When Doc’s condition worsens, Wyatt’s posse takes refuge at a farmhouse but a Cowboy appears, dragging Sherman’s body behind him, and tells Wyatt that Ringo is calling him out for a duel. Wyatt agrees and he and the two Jacks ride off, leaving Doc in the care of the rancher. When they get to the meeting place, Wyatt is told where Ringo is and before he leaves, he tells the two Jacks to take off for Mexico if things go south. At the oak tree, Ringo sees a figure approaching but is surprised to find that it is Doc, who had ridden there ahead of Wyatt. Ringo agrees to fight Doc but Doc quickly shoots him in the head then turns as Wyatt approaches and Wyatt says they should finish it. Wyatt and his posse head off to finish killing the Cowboys, with Ike being spared when he removes his sash and leaves the group. Some time later, Doc is placed in the Glenwood Sanatorium where he tells Wyatt to start a new life with Josephine before he ends up dying of his tuberculosis. Wyatt heads to the town that Josephine has moved to and speaks with her after her performance, asking her to go with him and she kisses him and they dance outside in the snow.

Tombstone met with positive results from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, many critics felt it was one of the best Westerns to come out in years but others felt that there were too many characters to try and focus on  plot was unfocused while the plot was unfocused. The gunfight scene in the river is supposedly true, with Wyatt Earp actually walking out into the water unscathed and shooting Curly Bill point blank with a shotgun, then shooting a second person in the stomach. Unlike the movie, Johnny Barnes (the man that was gut shot) did not die right away but managed to escape and make it to a farmhouse, where he reported what happened and how Earp walked up to Curly Bill unscathed before killing him. The movie was a hit at the box office, earning $56.5 million off of a $25 million budget.

This is still a great Western and a highly enjoyable movie, but I will say that it does have it’s faults. The acting was really good, with Kurt Russel doing a really good job as Wyatt Earp, but I think Val Kilmer stole the show as Doc Holiday (in fact it might be his best performance in my opinion). Powers Boothe (Curly Bill), Michael Biehn (Ringo), Sam Eliott (Virgil), and Dana Delany (Josephine) were also very good in their roles as well. The story was pretty good and I liked how they tried to keep it fairly accurate to the events. However, one of my favorite, somewhat underrated scenes, was after Doc killed Ringo and placed his badge on top of him, telling Wyatt that his hypocricy can only go so far. This is because he knew what they were doing had nothing to do with the law or justice, but was simply revenge for the Cowboys killing Morgan, but was going along with it to help out his only friend, Wyatt. The one thing I didn’t like was that they had soo many characters that they introduced, that they couldn’t really do half of them any justice. There were several times a character would show up briefly, then you wouldn’t see him again till the very end but he is given a poignant moment in the movie (like the deputy). The special effects regarding the gun fights were pretty good, though a little flashy at times. A great movie and definitely something that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

crime, drama, movie, movie review, thriller

February 20th, 2018 Movie – The Ticket Of Leave Man

the ticket of a leave man

Ahh, a nice little Tod Slaughter movie is a good way to start the day. This is another movie from the Legends of Horror box set and another one that I have never seen before. I have to admit that the Tod Slaughter movies I have seen in this box set have all been pretty entertaining and I really am interested in seeing some more of his films once I finish all of the ones in this set. But that is a story for another day, so let’s get on with today’s movie, The Ticket Of Leave Man.

The plot: In 1930’s England, Detective Hawkshaw and some other officers arrive at the house of a wealthy family and Hawkshaw tells the patrolman outside the house to keep a look out for anything suspicious, as a thief known as The Tiger is planning to rob the place. Hearing a scream coming from the house, Hawkshaw leads some of his men inside, leaving the patrolman and another detective to keep watch. Meanwhile, The Tiger sneaks out of the house and strangles the patrolman, then clubs the detective over the head several times before running off. Hawkshaw and the other detectives hear the commotion and race outside to find the bodies and Hawkshaw vows to catch The Tiger. The next day, Hawkshaw meets with some of his men at a public garden and, under the guise of having some drinks, discuss the case while keeping an eye on the people there. They especially keep an eye on Melter Moss sitting at a far table, as he is a money lender who also doubles as a fence for stolen merchandise. Meanwhile, The Tiger shows up and sits with Moss, who is nervous about them being seen out in the open together. The Tiger says he is considering getting out of the game, as the pressure has been increasing and Hawkshaw is making things more difficult. After watching an incident where most of the waitstaff complaining to the manager about a coworker being a former convict (referred to as a Ticket of Leave Man), the man begs to be given a chance as he is trying to go straight but the manager fires him, The Tiger and the money lender watch May Edwards start singing and The Tiger becomes infatuated with her. After May finishes her set, The Tiger starts to approach her but stops when he sees her fiance, Robert Brierly, approach her and they sit down to start talking. The Tiger sits back down with the money lender and plans to frame Robert and have him arrested, then seduce May while he is gone. The Tiger has the lender give him some fake bank notes and as Robert is listening to May sing, he starts a conversation with Robert and uses it to slip the fake notes into Robert’s jacket while taking the envelope of real ones out. The former convict notices this as he is leaving and attempts to tell the manager but he refuses to listen and tells the man to leave. The Tiger convinces Robert to buy some cigars, then disappears as Robert is completing the purchase. Meanwhile, the lender is speaking with Hawkshaw and tells him that Robert is passing around counterfeit money and Hawkshaw approaches the cigar shop and asks to see the money Robert paid with. As The Tiger and the lender watch the proceedings, the former convict approaches them and says he saw what they did and wants half of the money, and The Tiger tells him to step into the alcove so they can discuss the matter. Hawkshaw approaches the table and arrests Robert for forgery when they hear someone cry out and, leaving Robert under the care of two officers, he goes to investigate and finds the former convict has been killed. When Hawkshaw says The Tiger has been there, a panic ensues and May ends up fainting, only to be carried out of the garden by The Tiger, to help him escape. Some time later, the money lender is revealed to be the actual forger and The Tiger meets him at his shop and they discuss their next plan. After several years, The Tiger sets himself up as a charitable foundation and has people donate money to him, which he uses to determine their wealth and rob them or kill them if necessary. He also controls the various criminals in the area, forcing those that attempt to go straight into becoming criminals for him by reporting to their bosses that they are Ticket of Leave Men. The Tiger is planning to commit a massive robbery and is trying to find a man to place inside when he is visited by May. The Tiger sends the lender away and greets May and kisses her, which shocks May, and when The Tiger says he wants to proceed further with her, she refuses as she is still in love with Robert and plans to be with him when he gets out of prison. Robert is released from prison and given a 10 pound note as his earnings from the workshop while incarcerated. He heads off to see May, who is living with Mrs. Willoughby and her grandson Sam, who owned the cigar shop Robert had bought the cigars from. May introduces Robert as her brother who had been in the military and Robert learns that the Willoughby’s lost their cigar shop because of the incident that got him arrested. Meanwhile, The Tiger approaches the bank owned by Joshua Gibson and tries to see if there are any openings there, explaining that his foundation tries to find jobs for Ticket of Leave Men to help them get back on their feet but the manager says that they can’t risk it due to the amount of money they keep there. At the Willoughby’s home, Mrs. Willoughby is worried about being able to pay their rent, as she is short on the money, when they find a note on the table with Robert’s money inside, which he secretly left for them saying it was to pay off an old debt. Outside, Robert and May meet Mr. Gibson, who was going there to collect the rent, and Gibson offers Robert a job but warns him that he expects honesty and says that if anyone is caught lying, they will immediately be fired without exception and Robert, reluctantly, continues the charade of being May’s brother. As time passes, Robert proves himself to Gibson, who gives him a promotion at work to being his personal clerk. When a messenger delivers a letter saying that they have lost some money due to forged bills, Gibson tasks Robert into tracking down the man who used the forged bills and getting their money back. Gibson and the other tellers leave as May enters the building and she talks with Robert, who feels bad for continuing to lie to Gibson and wants to come clean. The two share a kiss but unknown to them, The Tiger had stopped by and sees them. After May leaves, The Tiger enters and goes looking for a loan while talking with Robert and Robert recognizes the company name that The Tiger gives as the one that had used the forged bills. The Tiger leaves and returns to his business, where he speaks with Moss about Robert working for Gibson. The Tiger wants to send Robert back to prison so he can seduce May but Moss says they should use him to rob Gibson before that and The Tiger agrees. Robert had contacted Gibson about The Tiger, who contacted Hawkshaw to arrange a sting. When Hawkshaw arrives, Robert is nervous when Hawkshaw appears to recognize him and questions Gibson about him but Gibson assures Hawkshaw that Robert has been a trustworthy employee. Gibson leaves to take a deposit to the bank as The Tiger and Moss approach the building. The Tiger has Moss go inside to see if it is safe before he enters and Moss notices Hawkshaw and tries to leave but he is stopped by Gibson, after Hawkshaw says he could be trouble. The Tiger enters and Moss secretly passes him a note warning him about Hawkshaw just as Hawkshaw approaches and invites The Tiger into Gibson’s office. Inside, The Tiger says he discovered the forged notes had been used and had come there to pay the debts occurred as a result of them, playing off that he is innocent in the matter. Robert returns to the office to find Hawkshaw and Gibson talking and Gibson explains that The Tiger was caught off guard by the forgery and repaid the debt in full. When Robert enters Gibson’s office, he finds The Tiger trying to open the safe with a key and questions him about it but The Tiger, revealing he knows Robert’s real name, tells Robert that he will reveal the truth to Gibson unless Robert keeps quiet. When Gibson enters the room, Robert says he has something to tell him in private after he concludes his business with The Tiger. After Robert leaves, The Tiger tells Gibson the truth about Robert and says he saw Robert making a wax impression of the safe key. Gibson doesn’t believe him at first but when Robert enters and Gibson calls him Brierly, Robert admits that he is Brierly. He tries to explain himself but Gibson accuses him of trying to rob the place and orders him to leave before he calls the police. Later, May goes to see The Tiger, telling him that Robert lost his job and she is worried that he might become a criminal. The Tiger tells her to have Robert meet him at the garden and after she leaves, he has one of his men go fetch some supplies, then proceeds to start trashing his office. Moss sees him and questions what he is doing and The Tiger replies that after he robs Gibson, he will have enough money to do what he wants and no longer has to put up the charade. Moss threatens to tell Hawkshaw if The Tiger double crosses him and The Tiger kills him, then continues to ransack the office as his employee returns. The Tiger then sets the office on fire, then locks his employee inside with Moss’ body to be burned alive. At the garden, Robert is lamenting about being unable to find a job because he is a Ticket of Leave Man and May tells him not to give up before leaving to perform. The Tiger sits at the table and starts talking with Robert and convinces him to help him steal the money from Gibson’s safe and Robert agrees, telling him he will leave a note for May explaining that he is leaving her. He hands the note to the waiter to give to May but the waiter is a disguised Hawkshaw and the note actually tells her to contact Hawkshaw and explain that Gibson’s building is going to be robbed. When Robert and The Tiger enter the building, The Tiger reveals his true identity to Robert, who says he had contacted the police but plans to get his revenge himself. The two fight outside and The Tiger starts to strangle Robert but is interrupted by the arrival of Hawkshaw and the police. The Tiger pulls out a gun and threatens to shoot whoever approaches him but he slips into an open grave and breaks his neck. As Robert comes too, he apologizes to Gibson for lying and had hoped to pay back the kindness he shown him by stopping the robbery.

This was a really good movie, though it could only marginally be considered meeting the criteria for being in the Legends of Horror box set. The acting was really good, with Tod Slaughter putting in his usual over the top brilliant performance as The Tiger. I also liked John Warwick (Robert) and Robert Adir (Hawkshaw) but thought Frank Cochran was great as Moss but Marjorie Taylor (May) was kind of bland. The story was pretty good and I liked the idea of how The Tiger was basically taking advantage of other criminals to further his own greed, forcing them to continue being crooks even if they wanted to go straight. The mood and tone of this movie are pretty good and definitely helped sell the narrative of the story. Definitely something worth watching a credit to Slaughter’s career.

Rating: 4 out of 5


drama, movie, movie review, thriller

January 24th, 2018 Movie – The Teacher (1974)

the teacher (1974)

We go from a classic sci-fi movie to the height of the drive-in exploitation era. Today’s movie touches on a subject that is as much a popular subject of porn movies, as it sadly is a common occurrence in real life. I am curious which came first; was it the actual teachers getting caught fooling around with students that inspired movie makers to make movies on the subjects, or did teachers/students see the movies and decide to try it in real life. Either way, this theme constantly pops up in movies, from big budget films to low budget B-movies and especially porn. Today’s movie is one that probably got a lot of play in drive-ins so let’s see if this is as bad as I expect it to be as I watch today’s movie, The Teacher (1974).

The plot: Ralph Gordon is setting up some items at an abandoned warehouse on the docks before driving off and stopping at a across the street from a nearby high school. When class gets out, he stares at one of the teachers, Diane Marshall, as she talks with some of her students, including Ralph’s younger brother Lou. Ralph gets jealous when most of the students leave and Diane focuses her attention on the one remaining student, Sean Roberts, but Sean eventually leaves with Lou and Diane heads home, with Ralph following her and parking down the street so he can watch her house. When Diane leaves the house, Ralph starts following her again but she notices him and pulls over to try and confront him only to have Ralph continue driving past her. Ralph heads to the warehouse and watches as Diane heads to the harbor and gets in her boat, piloting it out onto the ocean, where she starts sunbathing topless. Suddenly, Ralph hears a motorcycle and curses when he sees Lou and Sean show up so he quickly stashes his binoculars in his chest and grabs a bayonet before hiding. Lou and Sean enter the warehouse and Sean is worried that Ralph might catch them there but Lou says not to worry and heads up to the top floor. Heading to his brother’s chest, he grabs the binoculars and looks out at the water to see Diane still topless, heading out onto the nearby fire escape balcony for a better look. As the two boys pass the binoculars between them and talk about their teacher, Ralph approaches them and yells at them, startling the two boys and causing Lou to fall from a hole in the balcony to the street below. Seeing his brother die, the unstable Ralph blames Sean for Lou’s death and attempts to kill him but Sean manages to get away. Later that night, Sean returns home and gets into an argument with his dad, Joe, before heading to his room to get ready for bed. As he is changing, he hears a noise outside and opens his window to find Ralph standing outside. Ralph tells him that the sheriff is on his way and warns him not to say anything or else he will cut out his tongue. When the sheriff arrives, he starts asking Sean some questions about Lou but Sean sees Ralph watching him from some bushes and he lies about being with Lou that afternoon, saying they had argued and Lou had dropped him off outside of town. A couple of days later, Sean rides his bike over to Diane’s house so he can pass along his mother’s, Alice, invitation to lunch and Diane starts flirting with him and invites him inside but Sean gets flustered and says he has to head back home. When he gets home, Sean starts working on his van when Bonnie and Margaret, two other women that Sean’s mother invited, show up followed shortly by Diane. As the women lounge around the pool, with Bonnie going swimming, Diane and Margaret end up getting into an argument regarding Diane’s husband, who had left her a year ago, and Margaret leaves, taking Bonnie with her. Alice has Sean join her and Diane by the pool and Sean and Diane end up goofing off while Alice fixes some lunch. Afterwards, Sean asks if he can borrow his mom’s car to get some parts for his van and when he says he wants to get some paneling, Diane says she has some in her garage that he can use. Sean and Diane head over to her house and when they get there, they see Ralph pull up and tell Sean that he will be waiting for him at the warehouse. When Diane asks what that was about, Sean says that Ralph is crazy and they head inside her house, where Diane offers Sean a beer. As they are talking, Diane asks Sean to kiss her, which he does but he gets flustered afterwards and heads out to look at the paneling. Diane goes to take a shower and when she is finished, she calls out to Sean and after talking with him for a while, she starts kissing him again and ends up seducing him into having sex. As they are laying there afterwards, Diane invites Sean to go out on her boat with her the next day and Sean eagerly agrees. The next day, Ralph sees them heading out on the boat and he dons a wetsuit and swims out to the boat. On the boat, Sean and Diane have sex and when they finish, they prepare to head onto the deck to eat lunch when they see Ralph there with a harpoon but, when he sees Diane, he quickly dives back into the water and swims away. The next day, Sean is working on his van when he keeps seeing Ralph staring at him then disappearing, freaking Sean out. Alice, who had gone over to Diane’s, calls to invite him to lunch with her and Diane but Sean declines, but Diane gets on the phone and invites Sean to dinner, which he accepts. As Sean and Diane head to dinner, Joe argues with Alice at their house about how it looks for Sean to be going out with a married man and Alice tells him that Diane is divorcing her husband and that Sean is 18 and needs to learn how to do things himself. Back at the restaurant, Sean and Diane get into the car and start kissing but as they go to leave, they see Ralph standing in front of the car. Ralph yells out that he just wants Sean and Sean gets out of the car to confront him but when Ralph pulls out the bayonet to try and stab him, Diane screams, startling Ralph enough to allow Sean to push him down and get back in the car so they can leave. When they get back to Sean’s house, Alice and Joe ask what happened to Sean and Diane tells them that Ralph had attacked him. Joe wants to call the sheriff but Sean says to stop, then comes clean about what happened the day Lou died, apologizing to Diane for spying on her. Joe still wants to call the sheriff but Alice says they should wait a day and talk to her brother, who is a lawyer, before calling the police and Joe reluctantly agrees. The next day, Joe and Alice drive off to see Alice’s brother and as soon as they leave, Diane shows up at Sean’s house and ends up convincing him to come back to her place. They drive their in Sean’s van and head out to the pool but while they are in back, Ralph sneaks into Sean’s van to wait for him. Sean and Diane end up having sex and afterwards, admit they love each other and Sean tries to convince Diane to marry him when he is done with college. Hearing the phone ringing and thinking it is his parents, Sean answers the phone only to discover it is Russ, Diane’s husband. Russ talks with Sean for a few minutes, telling him he is coming home in a few days, before Diane gets on the phone with Russ. Feeling dejected, Sean heads out to his van and prepares to head home but Ralph grabs him and holds the bayonet to his throat, then has him drive out to the warehouse. Diane tells Russ that she is divorcing him and hangs up, then goes looking for Sean but when she heads outside, she notices Ralph’s car down the street and quickly gets in her car and heads to the warehouse, fearing the worst. At the warehouse, Ralph puts a collar on Sean, threatening to choke him if he does anything stupid, but when his attention is turned away, Sean manages to get out of Ralph’s grip and head up to Ralph’s chest and grabs Ralph’s rifle. When Ralph approaches him, Sean tries to shoot him but Ralph says the gun is filled with blanks, then chokes Sean to death when he tries to escape. Diane appears at the warehouse and starts calling out to Sean so Ralph disguises his voice and lures her upstairs. When she gets there, Ralph confronts her and says he killed Sean so they could be together. Diane gets him to drop the bayonet and Ralph tries to have sex with her but Diane is able to grab the bayonet and stab him with it. As Ralph bleeds to death, Diane goes looking for Sean and finds his body on the balcony, where she starts crying over the death of her lover.

Yeh, this is about what I expected it to be. The acting was ok, with Anthony James doing a great job playing the creepy Ralph, who was probably suffering from some sort of PTSD, which nobody really talked about back then. Angel Tompkins was pretty good as Diane but Jay North was honestly a little stiff (no pun intended) as Sean. The story was good, mixing the teacher/student romance with the drama of Ralph’s stalking and blaming Sean for Lou’s death. The drama was pretty good but some of the “love-making” scenes were pretty corny, as were some of the setups leading to them. It’s not the worst movie to show up in a drive-in, but not exactly one worth seeing either.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

drama, movie, movie review, thriller

December 26th, 2017 Movie – Syriana


Well, I find myself finishing up with the letter “S” today. Once again, I find myself with a movie that I never saw in theaters, though I had several friends saying it was really good. So based on their recommendations, I decided to pick up a copy on the cheap when Blockbuster was going out of business. I think I might have to figure out how many of my spur of the moment Blockbuster purchases during that time period were based solely on friends’ recommendations. Anyways, let’s get down to business with today’s movie, Syriana.

The plot: CIA agent Bob Barnes is in Tehran, Iran to participate in an arms deal. After inspecting the two anti-aircraft missile for the sale, Bob notices that one of the missiles is taken into the back of the store while the other is taken outside by the two men that bought the weapons. After getting his money, Bob heads to the back to investigate what is happening with the second missile, only to be held at gunpoint as the second missile is taken away so Bob leaves out the front door, disregarding the two arms dealers as they are killed by the explosive he secretly placed inside their missile case. Meanwhile, Connex Oil is losing control of oil fields in the Middle East just as a smaller company, Killen, won drilling rights in Kazakhstan. The Connex board decides to form a merger with Killen and hire a DC law firm to help smooth the way. Among the people involved is Bennet Holiday, who is there to help smooth things over with the DOJ and help assuage anti-trust fears. Elsewhere, Bryan Woodman, an American energy analyst working in Switzerland, is ordered to attend an emir’s party and offer him the services of their company and when he says he can’t as it is his son’s birthday, his company offers to send them with him. Back in DC, Bob’s superiors are nervous as Bob keeps asking about the missile theft and has written an official memo regarding it. They promote him to a desk job in the hopes it will keep him out of trouble but Bob’s tendency to speak his mind causes problems. Elsewhere, Pakistani workers board a bus to go work at a Connex refinery only to be told they have been laid off due to the Chinese outbidding Connex for the rights to the refinery. As Saleem and his son Wasim walk back to their lodgings, Wasim tries to figure out what to do for a job. In Spain, Bryan and his family arrive at the plaza and Bryan is told the emir can’t meet with him, as he is busy meeting with some Chinese delegates, and so Bryan is forced to give his presentation to some of the emir’s representatives. As the emir and his son, Prince Meshal, show the Chinese how they can keep watch over all of the compound using their remote cameras, not noticing that one of the lights in the pool is broken. As Bryan heads back to rejoin his family, he is attracted to a commotion at the pool and discovers that his oldest son has been electrocuted. In Pakistan, Wasim continues to try and find work and is told to learn Arabic if he wants a job, but as he goes to attend the school, he ends up being beaten. In DC, Holiday attends a meeting at the DOJ, where they tell him that they feel someone in Killen had bribed the Kazakhstan officials in order to get the contracts and are trying to find out who it was in order to prosecute them. Bob is ordered to oversee the assassination of Prince Nasir, the emir’s oldest son, and is told he has been financing terrorists. Bob goes to see his friend, who is a retired agent, and is told to check in with Hezbollah when he gets to Lebanon, so that they know he isn’t working against them. Meanwhile, Bryan attends a meeting with Nasir, who offers his company $75 million in his country’s oil interests as compensation for their part in his son’s death. Bryan is upset at first, insultingly asking what he will offer for his other son, but when he learns that Nasir actually wishes to advance his country’s growth, instead of letting it stagnate like his father has done, he accepts the offer and offers Nasir some advice. Bob arrives in Lebanon but when he gets there, he finds himself grabbed and taken away to a secret meeting with the Hezbollah leader. Back in Pakistan, Wasim and his friend are approached by a man, the same man Bob saw take the missile, who begins speaking with them and tries to convince them to join him. In Lebanon, Bob meets with a mercenary named Mussawi to help him kidnap and kill Nasir. Bob heads to Beirut to oversee the operation but when he reaches his hotel room, he finds himself attacked and kidnapped by Mussawi, who proceeds to torture him and is about to cut off his head but he is stopped by Hezbollah. Back in DC, Bob’s superiors get wind of what happened and Mussawi’s threats to tell people of Bob’s attempt to kill Nasir. Wishing to keep it in the dark that the assassination was US sanctioned, they decide to blackball Bob and make him out to be a rogue agent; revoking his passports, locking him out of his computer, and starting an investigation into him. Elsewhere, Holiday finds proof of payouts from a Killen executive to Kazakhstan and confronts Danny Dalton, the man who authorized the funds. Elsewhere, Nasir learns that his father is passing him over to replace him as emir in favor of his brother, whose views more closely resemble his own as opposed to Nasir’s more progressive views, so Nasir tries to organize a coup to usurp his father’s power. Barnes speaks with his friend to find out who is the one blackballing him and arranges a meeting with Dean Whitting, the head of the law firm backing the Connex/Killen merger and a member of the CLI (Committee to Liberate Iran), and threatens his family until he agrees to arrange for Bob’s investigation to be stopped and his passports reinstated. At the same time, Holiday meets with Jimmy Pope, the head of Killen, and tells him that Dalton will not be enough to stop the DOJ’s investigation and Killen asks if the second body could be someone in his firm, to which Holiday agrees providing the name was big enough. Holiday goes with his mentor Sidney Hewitt to meet with Leeland Janus, the head of Connex, and while there, explains the situation with the DOJ and then informs him that Hewitt had arranged an illegal deal for another pipeline to occur during the sale. Hewitt is turned over to the DOJ as the second body, which stops the investigation into the merger and Leeland is honored as the “Oil Industry Man of the Year”. Meanwhile, Nasir is heading out to lead the coup and Bryan, who has been acting as an advisor, rides with him but when they are stopped by a large herd of goats, Bryan switches cars so that Nasir can ride with his family. Bob arrives in the Middle East and goes to intercept Nasir’s convoy, attempting to warn him of the assassination attempt but he is too late, as a drone strike blows up Nasir’s car, killing him and his family, and Bob as well. Meanwhile, Wasim and his friend have been radicallized and using a bomb fashioned from the anti-aircraft missile, pilot their boat towards a Connex-Killen oil tanker and blow it up. Bryan survives the blast and heads home to his family while funerals are arranged for Nasir, as well as Bob.

Syriana met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 73% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Ambitious, complicated, intellectual, and demanding of its audience, Syriana is both a gripping geopolitical thriller and wake-up call to the complacent.” George Clooney suffered a spinal injury during a stunt and, due to the weight he gained for the role, he was bedridden for a month and suffered migraines, causing him to miss out on doing promotional work for Ocean’s Twelve. The movie was a modest hit at the box office, earning $94 million off of a $50 million budget

This is a good movie but I feel like it was made overly complicated and more confusing than it needed to be. The acting was good, with George Clooney (Bob) and Jeffrey Wright (Holiday) doing great jobs in their roles. Matt Damon (Bryan) was also good, though felt a little mechanical at times, while Alexander Siddig did a much better job portraying Nasir. The story was pretty good but all the different storylines that were going on made it a little confusing to follow, as they were forced to bounce around the different plots and couldn’t really focus on any one point for too long. The special effects and the drama were both effectively used throughout the movie and did help move things along, but the bouncing story line really did hurt it. A good movie but definitely something you will have to focus on in order to understand everything going on.

Rating: 4 out of 5