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wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 03:50 AM 12-15-2010
The Long Good Friday (1980), directed by John Mackenzie.

Gangster Bob Hoskins is about to pull off his biggest triumph, a titanic real estate development in London which will make his organization more or less legit. Out of nowhere, without warning, he's being hit from every direction by some other mysterious group. They are inside his decision loop, attacking him faster than he can respond. Who are these guys? Can he figure it out in time, meanwhile keeping his American mafia investors on board? Is he even going to survive the weekend?

His dreams of legitimacy go up in smoke; he has to go the other way, becoming increasingly brutal to cope with the attacks. In a famous segment he lectures a group of suspicious characters as they hang upside down in a meat locker.

It starts with an incomprehensible first 10 minutes, and the cheap synthesizer action score made me think "ouch, this was better in memory." But Hoskins and Helen Mirren pull it together and it gets better as it goes. Hoskins is a demonic force and a joy to watch. Mirren is great as the loyal, competent wife, a full partner in her husband's plans.

Memorable last scene.

Pierce Brosnan, age 26, appears in his first film in a non-speaking part.

Available on Blu-ray (no BD-J). Rated R for violence.


rdgrimes's Avatar rdgrimes 08:26 AM 12-15-2010
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

The Long Good Friday (1980), directed by John Mackenzie.

I think that "Good Friday" is a great crime thriller. This was released on BD simultaneously with "Mona Lisa", which is a superb example of Hoskin's range as an actor. Unfortunately, both movies got terrible transfers and no help from Image Entertainment. Mona Lisa is no better than the DVD, Good Friday is somewhat better.
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 08:45 AM 12-15-2010
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

I think that "Good Friday" is a great crime thriller. This was released on BD simultaneously with "Mona Lisa", which is a superb example of Hoskin's range as an actor. Unfortunately, both movies got terrible transfers and no help from Image Entertainment. Mona Lisa is no better than the DVD, Good Friday is somewhat better.

The Blu-rays have the virtue of economy: $5.99 each recently. "Withnail and I" was another.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:14 AM 12-22-2010
Mona Lisa (1986), directed by Neil Jordan.

After seven years in prison, George is out and looking for some compensation from his old gang. Times have changed, loyalty has vanished, and he doesn't fit in anywhere. He still has his Jaguar, so they give him a job chauffeuring Simone, a high-end call girl, around London.

Of course he falls in love with her, but she has other plans, searching for a young woman she used to work with, and this takes them to all the sleazy locations of the sex trade. George has a daughter of about that age he is not allowed to see, and the parallels bother him. The injustice of how the women are treated begins to gnaw at him and he focuses on a particularly vicious pimp. He gets a gun. George is an unlikely hero, but his "tall thin black tart" takes him to some strange places. In the end he can't save them.

George's tragedy is that his love for Simone is not returned, not in the way he wants. His salvation is that his daughter is not lost to him yet.

Great performances from Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, and Michael Caine as the dangerous mob boss. Robbie Coltrane is the best friend and comic relief.

Michael Kamen score, with tunes by Nat King Cole and mid-80s ambience provided by Genesis, "In Too Deep".

Available on Blu-ray (no BD-J). Very low-end. I remember the film looking grungy, but nothing like this.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 08:52 AM 12-26-2010
Educating Rita (1983), directed by Lewis Gilbert.

I missed this one in the theaters and just got around to it. I remember it was a favorite among a circle of women friends who had left their homes and husbands and moved to a university town to change their lives. This movie was their story.

Rita is a brassy, energetic working class woman who wants to "discover meself" thorough literature and begins attending the open university. She doesn't fit in there, or, after a while, with her own people any more. Julie Walters did the role on stage and this was her first film. She's prominent these days as the Weasley mom in the Harry Potter films.

Michael Caine is Frank, her professor, a failed poet who is comfortably burned out. He keeps a bottle of whiskey behind The Lost Weekend on his shelf and is often drunk in his office and in class. Rita is a welcome shock to him: a student with a raw, honest passion for books. He has a crush on her, but as her education continues and she doesn't return his interest, he declines even further. A bittersweet ending.

It's dialogue heavy as is usual with a stage play, but the film opens it up nicely. During the first half Frank's lines seem more like the author's sentiments, counseling and encouraging Rita. At 1h50m it's a bit long for the story, but they use the time for something I didn't expect.

Frank admires Rita because her passion is fresh and untrained, vital in a way that the scholars have lost. It's what he wants for his own poetry but can't achieve. He is reluctant to transform her into a student who works with theory and criticism rather than experiencing the immediate joy of reading. But it's what she wants. In the end she tells him: "I took the exam and answered the way they wanted. But I had the choice."

This is a distinction I don't remember seeing in a film before: the difference between the common reader or film lover, and the academic who picks apart the subject while no longer loving it.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 08:44 AM 01-02-2011
Lady Jane (1986), directed by Trevor Nunn.

A costume history wrapped around a romance about a young woman who was a nine days wonder: she was Queen of England for that amount of time. The history is ok but we have seen it too often: all those centuries of cynical cunning and political jockeying for the throne, with beheadings for the losers. And sometimes for the winners.

The problem with the romance portion is that it is really, really drippy. The young lovers are not only silly for each other, they are stupidly idealistic without any notion of how to change the world. Well, that doesn't last long.

Jane would have been the rightful queen if she had waited her turn after Elizabeth, but that would have been 50 years later. The treason was cutting in line ahead of Mary.

Helena Bonham Carter and Cary Elwes are 20 and 24 here and look younger, almost child-like at times. Innocents ground up in a cruel world.

I've always liked John Wood (War Games, Ladyhawke). He's the master manipulator and it's all his fault.

Patrick Stewart looks just like a starship captain in disguise.

PG-13 with brief nudity. The DVD video encode is a generous 7.5GB but the image is still pretty soft. Black levels are ok but the colors are muted.

Historical postscript. Did Henry VIII kill his six wives? No, only two. Memorize this:

divorced, beheaded, died

divorced, beheaded, survived

He had one child each from his first three wives, all of whom became monarch:
  • Wife #3, Jane Seymour, was the mother of Edward VI, who reigned 6 years and died at age 16.
  • Wife #1, Katherine, was the mother of "Bloody" Mary I, who reigned 5 years and died at age 42.
  • Wife #2, Anne Boleyn, was the mother of Elizabeth I, who reigned 44 years and died at age 70.

Which wife did he love the most? He is buried next to Jane Seymour, who died of infection 12 days after giving birth to Edward.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:37 AM 01-24-2011
Tempest (1982), directed by Paul Mazursky.

A New York architect has his midlife crisis on a Greek island. The plot outline is roughly parallel to Shakespeare's play.

On the good side it is prettier and better photographed than I remember, and we have a strong cast:
  • John Cassavetes, always dangerously intense, with a quirky sense of humor.
  • Susan Sarandon, perky in a wet t-shirt.
  • Raul Julia as a sexually desperate troll. "I got TV in my cave" is his best pickup line.
  • Introducing Molly Ringwald, who was a big deal in the 80s.

The tone and pacing are unusual and remain in the memory.

On the down side: none of the characters are as charming or the situations as wacky as they are supposed to be. Many purposeless scenes, and the New York segments are awful, like Woody Allen-plus, with irritable and hyper-neurotic people squabbling and shrieking at each other. The story sort of fades out in the last half hour.

It's a pity because the actors are watchable and the island quite nice.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 12:04 PM 02-27-2011
Maria's Lovers (1984), directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy.

John Savage has had a hard time in a Japanese prison camp. Dreaming about marrying Nastassja Kinski for years, he returns home to Pennsylvania, does it, but then finds he can't make love to her. He has no problem with other women. What a dilemma. One of her old boyfriends returns. Smooth operator Keith Carradine appears to further confuse things. Much drunken screaming and psychodrama follows.

It's an earnest "coming home with problems" story with a good period look and a good cast, including Robert Mitchum as the dad. The problem is you can tell the makers were theater people. The speeches, ugly war stories, confessions and contrived situations all suggest the stage and are cumbersome on screen.

A small bit of nudity and several passion scenes.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 06:21 AM 03-08-2011
Aliens (1986), directed by James Cameron.

Action/adventure sequel to SF/horror original Alien (1979). I like the original more (there is just no comparison) but there is no point in making the same film over again, so an action sequel is not a bad choice. The last hour is non-stop intensity.

Cameron and the other crew obviously care about the mythology and bring forward a lot of the gear and recapitulate much of the original plot: sleep chambers, motion trackers, flame throwers, robot, crawling through the air ducts (a well-worn SF cliche), and the race against the big explosion. Sleepy time at the end.

The photography has nothing like the fine composition of the original, and the sets and effects are more Cameron/Terminator than Scott/Alien. The characters are more one-dimensional: corporate bigs, their weasel, bone-headed marines. Sigourney Weaver tends to overpower the others.

Introducing the little girl adds cuteness which can be deadly in this sort of film, but it gives us the "motherhood" theme which applies to both sides of the human/alien conflict. A heavy handed message.

Once you've seen aliens splattered by gunfire they are no longer as scary. The biology and life cycle was mysterious in the first film; adding the Queen mother makes it more familiar to us, but less interesting.

By the way, the old giant ant movie Them! (1954) has some striking plot parallels.

James Horner score, with a bit of the original Jerry Goldsmith retained.

The Blu-ray has more blue/orange color grading than Alien, although not quite so much as some contemporary films.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 06:10 AM 03-12-2011
Looker (1981), written and directed by Michael Crichton.

I'd never heard of this until I saw it recommended as an overlooked SF thriller. It's low-intensity and I don't suppose Crichton will ever be listed among the great directors, but it has some historical interest and good people: Albert Finney, Susan Dey, James Coburn.

A Hollywood plastic surgeon finds that several of his patients have died suspiciously. All were actresses doing TV commercials. He latches on to the last one to protect her and they discover a sinister corporation working on commercial and political mind control techniques.

A lot of the material that was futuristic in 1981 is standard technology now: computer graphics, artificial characters in movies, motion capture, ads that are precisely tuned according to test audience response.

I don't think we have the neural zapper gun or hypnotic video images yet.

Much of the plot is actually wry commentary dressed up as a thriller: TV addiction and the perfection of beauty for commercial purposes. I didn't listen to the Crichton commentary track; maybe he discusses some of the hanging plot threads.

Painful synthesizer action score. And the "Looker" theme song.

Brief nudity.

gwsat's Avatar gwsat 08:35 AM 03-13-2011
Thanks for this thread, guys! It gives me a chance to add another comment about Kenneth Branagh's brilliant Henry V. I watched it on EPIX last night and despite its looking like a DVD upconverted to 1080i and its 2.0 audio, I loved it.

Branagh's Henry V was a stunning cinematic achievement and its original score, composed by Patrick Doyle, is one of the most beautiful and evocative I can recall. I was moved deeply by the scene in which a frightened Henry bargains with God on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt, followed the next morning by his confident and rousing "We Few, We Happy Few" speech to his men, and the desperate, wet, bloody battle on the field of Agincourt.

Derek Jacobi as the Chorus was particularly effective in the film. I have always remembered the opening scene, with Jacobi setting the stage for us as he walks through a movie set and says,

Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

This is followed by the huge doors to an antechamber in the king's palace thunderously opening. I have remembered that ever since I saw the film in the theater in 1989.

Henry V is a great film by the standards of any era. All of the reviews of Henry V collected at the Rotten Tomatoes site were overwhelmingly positive. I give it 10 Stars out of 10. Alas, no Blu-ray release has been announced but if any film deserves the BD treatment it is Branagh's Henry V.
dragonbud0's Avatar dragonbud0 07:54 PM 03-18-2011
Au Revoir Les Enfants - 1987 from Louis Malle - Memories of Children.

Probably based on a true story of how a catholic priest trying to hide 3 Jewish children from the Nazis, thru their young eyes, quite moving and sanitized.

A classic indeed.
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 01:51 PM 04-02-2011
The Mission (1986), directed by Roland Joffé.

In South America, a mercenary and slave-taker kills his brother, performs strenuous penance, and joins the Jesuits who are protecting the Indians he previously persecuted. When they are threatened, he (Destry-like) picks up his weapons again and fights for them, but they haven't a chance.

Powerful and deeply-felt filmmaking, great story and photography. The massive waterfalls and difficult cliff ascents remind me of The Lost World stories about the inaccessible plateau that time forgot. (But the slavers didn't).

It's a rare major film that shows clergymen as something other than hypocrites or barking lunatics. Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro are very good as two men strong and brave in their own ways who work together for a while, but who take separate paths at the crisis. The political plot of the second half drags a bit.

Fine Ennio Morricone score. Story and screenplay by Robert Bolt.

Available on Blu-ray. The DVD commentary track by the director is an unstructured, meditative monologue on things he finds interesting in the picture. He speaks well spontaneously and his thoughts are interesting. He doesn't seem to have a big message or overall theory of the movie. I was surprised to find he is a Brit; I thought he was French.

He says one of the great scenes was improvised: where the cardinal delivers bad news to the Indians. Says the chief: "Go tell the King of Portugal to change his mind." Cardinal: "The King of Portugal will not listen to me." Chief: "I'm a king and I'm not listening to you either." Irons had learned enough of the language to do real translation.

gwsat's Avatar gwsat 02:04 PM 04-02-2011
Bill -- I share your enthusiasm for The Mission. It is a wonderfully well told story with an ensemble cast for the ages. You've got things going in your favor if a movie has De Niro, Jeremy Irons, and Liam Neeson in it, and its director got an Oscar nomination. The Mission is not particularly easy going but it's worth the journey, I think.
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:31 AM 04-08-2011
The Company of Wolves (1984), directed by Neil Jordan.

The cover art misrepresents this as a werewolf horror film. There are wolves that turn into men and back again, but no creatures in-between. It's actually an atmospheric dream fantasy. The grisly animatronic transformations seem out of place, although perhaps they add a nightmare dimension. I would have dropped them.

Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson, said to be age 12 -- that can't be right) tosses restlessly in her sleep, her dreams filled with objects from her room. The dreams are symbolically about sex and the transition every adolescent girl has to make: how long does she stay at home with the stuffed animals, and when does she get out of the house, leave the safe forest path and run with the wolves?

She has several stories, all filled with strange dream logic:
  • Her nasty big sister in the haunted wood, attacked and killed by wolves.
  • The main Red Riding Hood plot, a frame for the other stories.
  • Granny's tale of the traveling man who became a wolf on his wedding night.
  • Granny's tale of the Devil in the woods. Rosaleen is his chauffeur, blond now with a uniform and knowing smirk. Terrance Stamp is the Devil, uncredited, and his car a white Rolls Royce.
  • Rosaleen's tale of the pregnant village girl who attends a noble wedding and curses the guests, turning them into wolves.
  • Rosaleen's tale of the wounded wolf-girl. Healed by the village priest, she returns to the underworld.

The limited budget and studio-bound staging give it a rather good dream-like and storybook appearance. The George Fenton score, once you subtract the bizarro magic bits, is wonderful. I still hum the main theme after all these years.

The final scene does not make much sense: she wakes up and real wolves charge into her bedroom. Maybe that means the dangers are in reality and not just in dreams, but of course wolf bedroom invasions don't happen in reality. So the ending is a just a completely different fantasy.

The DVD is 4:3 letterboxed but retains the 1.66:1 original aspect ratio. The UK R2 PAL disc is anamorphic and said to have a director's commentary. A Blu-ray import is available, but comments indicate it is of indifferent quality.

dragonbud0's Avatar dragonbud0 02:02 PM 04-08-2011
The Mission is even better in Blue Ray; the scenery and cinematography were mythical.

It's one of the few films where I really appreciate Robert DeNiro's talents (I can't take the cussing among films/actors, too distracting).

In one of the scenes where he was carrying the cross, sort of reminds me of a later Korean film, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...
thedeskE's Avatar thedeskE 05:23 PM 04-08-2011
Originally Posted by gwsat View Post

Bill -- I share your enthusiasm for The Mission. It is a wonderfully well told story with an ensemble cast for the ages. You've got things going in your favor if a movie has De Niro, Jeremy Irons, and Liam Neeson in it, and its director got an Oscar nomination. The Mission is not particularly easy going but it's worth the journey, I think.

I agree - the film holds well with what we see in current times and perhaps much of the hidden history many are catching up to now.

The cast is makes it easy to revisit the title.

Thanks and best to you Bill
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:53 AM 05-03-2011
Cat People (1982), directed by Paul Schrader.

"Pretend the world is what men think it is."

Orphaned and separated from her brother since childhood, Nastassja Kinski rejoins him in New Orleans and gradually learns that they not exactly human: sex transforms them into black leopards and only killing can change them back again. She's a virgin and hasn't had to face this yet, but brother Malcolm McDowell tells her they can avoid the curse by having sex only with each other. He's entirely happy with that prospect but she's not having it.

Kinksi is ideal for the role: she's innocent like an animal, foreign like a black leopard, and has smoldering erotic reserves, which is what it's all about. She gives it her all: full frontal nudity with bondage. In the pre-DVD years I had a used beta tape version, a rental store copy, and this scene was obviously "often viewed".

McDowell got a lot of these intensely weird roles, and here he has appropriate feline grace, craft and craziness.

The plot is only loosely parallel to the Lewton/Tourneur 1942 original. More sex, blood and gooeyness with brief animatronic effects. They retain the bit where Irene stalks Alice in the darkened swimming pool. Annette O'Toole contributes her own bit of nudity here, for which many thanks.

The good: we still have mysteries looming just out of sight. I think Kinski's last scene achieves something filmmakers want but seldom deliver: the erotic that is emotionally moving apart a sexual, hormonal response.

The bad: the leisurely pacing is all wrong; it doesn't drive the plot forward. The director wanted to avoid "horror film gimmicks", but it's not clear what he wanted instead. The actors, New Orleans and the score all contribute to a good film, but the editing decisions are just not right. Some scenes make no sense: the cat autopsy, for example.

Apart from that: it's always an issue in horror films of how much should be explicit and how much suggested. I can't say the blood, body parts, and stickiness make it a better film, but without that it would be a much softer fantasy/romance. What to do?

This was available on HD DVD but I've not heard of a Blu-ray. The fan base may be small (5.9 at the IMDB), but I'd buy it, despite its problems.

The DVD has a commentary track by the director. He gives details on the technical processes of the pre-digital era and praises the crew. This was not originally meant to be a personal project, but that changed. The conception was for an erotic/horror genre film, but they gradually reduced the horror element. He says he would have gotten beaten up less by critics if a different title had been used; the original is a low budget atmospheric classic and both Lewton and Tourneur are revered by film fans.

Other bits from the commentary:
  • This is the first film he directed that he did not write.
  • Quoting Truffaut: "When I'm writing I'd rather be directing, when I'm directing I'd rather be editing, when I'm editing I'd rather be writing."
  • He became "involved" with Kinski during the film, to the considerable upset of his life.
  • For visual style, he was considerably under the influence of Bertolucci, particularly The Conformist.
  • He gives details on the several large cats used in filming. Some of the animal handling sounds cruel. They had bought a Chinese leopard scheduled to be put down because it was "crazy" (living in a cage will do that to you, I suppose). It was injured in the early scene when the cat crashes into the iron bars at the hotel.
  • He agrees that the cat autopsy scene doesn't work very well.
  • After filming was done and Kinski was breaking up with Schrader, she reconsidered her nude scenes and wanted them removed.

Years ago whenever I thought of the early 1980s I would imagine a musical background: a mysterious but mellow synthesizer with African percussion. Later I realized it was Giorgio Moroder's main theme to Cat People. The closing lyrics are sung by David Bowie, which version Tarantino used again in Inglourious Basterds: Shosanna's music just before the big fire in the theater.


See these tears so blue
An ageless heart
that can never mend
These tears can never dry
A judgment made
can never bend

See these eyes so green
I can stare for a thousand years
Just be still with me
You wouldn't believe what I've been through

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:55 AM 06-06-2011
Bronco Billy (1980), directed by Clint Eastwood.

A minor Eastwood film, but said to be one of his favorites. It's mostly a romantic comedy and a combination of two styles: the plot is pure 1930s screwball comedy (runaway heiress hides out in a moth-eaten Wild West show) but the setting is the hard-luck small town real West. We have the eccentric but warm hearted dirt-kickers (they entertain orphans and mental patients) vs the snotty rich city folk.

It has an unusual moment: a sheriff humiliates Billy but there is no revenge or payback. A cowboy does what he must and moves down the trail. In this case he has to take the abuse to get his man out of jail.

I know a lot of Eastwood fans enjoy hating Sondra Locke, but she's well suited to the role of obnoxiously posh spoiled rich girl with a made up accent. It could have been a specialty.

1Wiracocha1's Avatar 1Wiracocha1 06:19 AM 06-06-2011
That's a nice thread! Thanks for creating! I've got what to read for today! =)
I love 80's movies =)
gwsat's Avatar gwsat 07:51 AM 06-06-2011
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post
Bronco Billy (1980), directed by Clint Eastwood.

A minor Eastwood film, but said to be one of his favorites. It's mostly a romantic comedy and a combination of two styles: the plot is pure 1930s screwball comedy (runaway heiress hides out in a moth-eaten Wild West show) but the setting is the hard-luck small town real West. We have the eccentric but warm hearted dirt-kickers (they entertain orphans and mental patients) vs the snotty rich city folk.

It has an unusual moment: a sheriff humiliates Billy but there is no revenge or payback. A cowboy does what he must and moves down the trail. In this case he has to take the abuse to get his man out of jail.

I know a lot of Eastwood fans enjoy hating Sondra Locke, but she's well suited to the role of obnoxiously posh spoiled rich girl with a made up accent. It could have been a specialty.
As much as I enjoy Eastwood's quirky charm, I disliked Bronco Billy, primarily because Eastwood's costar and main squeeze at the time, Sondra Locke wasn't much of an actress. When she tried to play charming it made me uneasy and when she tried to play sexy I cringed. The only time she was believable was when she played nasty and mean. That was a shame, too, because Eastwood was quite good.
adrift's Avatar adrift 08:52 AM 06-06-2011
Cool thread. Great reviews of some of my favorites: Withnail and I, Ladyhawke, and the always visually stimulating work of Neil Jordan, Company of Wolves. I haven't seen The Mission in years. Need to re-rent that one.
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:44 AM 06-24-2011
The Keep (1983), directed by Michael Mann.

During WW2, German soldiers arrive at a remote Romanian village in the Carpathians. They want to occupy an old fortress, although the locals try to persuade them not to, without explaining why. The soldiers disturb an ancient evil force and begin dying in horrible ways. The SS arrives to clean things up, which doesn't help. A mysterious guardian of the Keep awakes and is on his way to deal with the demon.

This has never been on DVD, although Netflix has it for streaming. My thumbnails are from the laserdisc. You read a lot of speculation as to why it hasn't been on disc since then: some say Mann hates it, others say that's not so and he doesn't have the power to keep it out of print anyway. Music rights are often blamed: could that be the case here?

It has the building blocks of a horror mythology, but doesn't do much with them. We like to see nazis call up something they cannot put down again, but it's executed erratically, with adolescent action and magic combat. Some of the special effects are intriguing (the demon as a walking cloud of smoke) but most are rudimentary. Most disappointing is the final revelation of the demon as a man in a rubber suit.

It has good features: a very dark, ominous old-world tone and a strong cast. Jurgen Prochnow (good German officer), Gabriel Byrne (evil SS officer), Ian McKellen (Jewish scholar), Scott Glenn (magical guardian, a bit too American for the role). That the demon is powered by the evil component of human nature is a good notion, as is the charge that the nazis themselves are living a fairy tale they force others to believe.

The Tangerine Dream score is both good and bad: good because it doesn't match the era and suggests encounters with the inexplicable. It is powerful at times, but 1980s synthesizer tracks sometimes seem light and frivolous in retrospect.

Brief passion and nudity. Filmed in Wales.

adrift's Avatar adrift 06:04 AM 06-24-2011
Wow. The Keep on blu-ray. I've seen a crummy VHS copy of this some time ago, that was very bad quality. I'd love to see this again on blu-ray. The film itself is pretty fun. Its a decent 80s horror movie concept, but the budget is bare bones and suspension of disbelief is often broken. Thanks for the review!
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 06:24 AM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by adrift View Post

Wow. The Keep on blu-ray.

Just to clarify: fans are hoping for a Blu-ray, but the Keep has not (to my knowledge) been on DVD or BR anywhere in the world. I've heard no rumors.

It was on laserdisc, but that's pretty low-end by today's standards. People say the Netflix stream is good, but I haven't seen it.

adrift's Avatar adrift 06:40 AM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by wmcclain View Post

Just to clarify: fans are hoping for a Blu-ray, but the Keep has not (to my knowledge) been on DVD or BR anywhere in the world. I've heard no rumors.

It was on laserdisc, but that's pretty low-end by today's standards. People say the Netflix stream is good, but I haven't seen it.


Oh. My mistake. I wasn't paying attention to which forum I was in. Anyways, cool that you brought up a relatively obscure flick. I'll have to check out the Netflix stream of it. I've seen some rather shoddy Netflix streams (Creepshow, Lemora: A Child's Tale of the Supernatural, etc.) so it'll be interesting to see how this looks.
wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:07 AM 07-05-2011
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), directed by Steven Spielberg.

As an archaeologist, Indiana Jones is a wrecking ball. Did you see what he did to those tombs under Venice?

Spielberg and the other creators are good at the comical side of the mythology: the jokes and retro-adventure fighting chases. Sean Connery is a great addition here, with a real talent for the funny bits.

But the lavish silliness hurts the other, more rare aspects found only in the first film: the glimpses of a harder, more edgy story (as in the bar fight in Nepal) and the sense of awe and spiritual fear in the presence of holy mysteries (as in everything to do with the Ark of the Covenant).

After a disappointing second film, they decided to supersize the first one, repeating a bunch of scenes and even using the same musical cues. Bring back the nazis, call up Denholm Elliott and John Rhys-Davies.

It's fun if you can forget that the magic is gone. Where did it go? That has always puzzled me about series: having done it once, why can't they do it again?

Using Christian relics as magical props seems dumb to me. Immortality in this life? Horrific death for those who choose poorly? That seems confused. I can accept it more easily with the Ark because that is from the blood-and-thunder Old Testament (and I recall the Ark did kill someone), but maybe the whole concept is flawed. The sacred stones of the Hindus: I just don't know.

John Williams score.

wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 06:08 AM 07-23-2011

Extreme Prejudice (1987), directed by Walter Hill.

Essence of 80s action film, terrifically overblown. We have an excess of tough guys: Powers Boothe is a semi-crazed drug lord on the Mexican border. Old pal Nick Nolte is now a Texas Ranger who tells him to retire or else. And then we have a team of super-secret military operatives, robbing banks for national security.

Much gunplay and many explosions. Everyone comes together in a bloody shootout in a Mexican town, the sort of tough guy Valhalla screenwriter John Milius likes so much.

A problem: we really don't care that much about anyone in it. Boothe provides his patented witty but sinister crazy talk. Maria Conchita Alonso is one corner of an undeveloped love triangle. Walter Hill has made better films.

Brief nudity. Jerry Goldsmith score.

The region 1 DVD is cropped to 4:3 and said to be poor anyway. My thumbnails are from the region 2 PAL anamorphic edition.


wmcclain's Avatar wmcclain 04:23 AM 07-26-2011
Outland (1981), written and directed by Peter Hyams.

Sean Connery is the new Marshal of a company mining town on Io. After two weeks his wife takes the kid and leaves, tired of all these frontier factory outposts. He digs in and works harder, investigating some mysterious suicides. The workers have a new amphetamine that drives them crazy. The company secretly promotes it because of improved productivity. Too bad about the increasing body count. The Marshal is not going to look the other way. He has no help apart from the traditionally crusty outpost MD: Frances Sternhagen, pretty funny.


Marshal: Are you Dr. Lazarus?

Lazarus: Yes. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning. That's a doctor joke.

Marshal: I'd like a report of all the incidents in the last six months. I'd like it soon, or I might just kick your nasty ass all over this room. That's a marshal joke.

It's a combination of western and urban drug-crime story in space. The dark industrial design is very fine, showing the overwhelming influence of Alien (1979) during those years. We even have a Jerry Goldsmith score with some familiar musical cues. Great chase scene.

Peter Boyle no longer seems that villainous, no more than any other cog in the machine. He's an employee doing what's expected.

The two hit men just seem to wander around the vast facility without any plan. Note that Io has artificial gravity and zero-G chambers, but the weapons of choice are still shotguns. In SF films space-helmet lighting is arranged so we can see the faces from outside.

Io is the innermost large moon of Jupiter, not the third. I don't think the effects of zero-atmosphere decompression are quite as bloodily spectacular as shown.

The region 1 DVDs get poor reviews. The thumbnails are from an anamorphic region 2 PAL disc. Its quality is only fair: deep space needs deep black levels and we don't have them here.

Elill's Avatar Elill 05:06 AM 07-26-2011
Here was my take on it when I saw it for the first time not that long ago......I know, I know.....

This was James Cameron's entry into the big time, he'd done two smaller things before it, but to basically start off with something as monumental as The Terminator is truly, truly impressive. He wrote it as well!

The Terminator is about a system called skynet, which controls unstoppable cyborgs, in this instance sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, mother of John Connor, the guy who leads the human resistance against the machines in the future. A human called Kyle Reese is also sent back in time by John to protect his mother. Sarah is played by Linda Hamilton and the Terminator sees Arnold Schwarzenegger make it to the big time. In fact, I'd go so far to say that if it wasn't for the Terminator franchise he'd not be Governor of California today.

I'm not going to poke holes in some of the mediocre acting, or Arnies pretty boy floppy hair cut, because it doesn't matter. I really enjoyed the movie from start to finish. I cannot begin to comprehend how massive this must have been when it was released. The CG is outstanding considering what they had at the time and the story is a modern day classic, in the league of say Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. It's totally, totally original, clever and faultless.

The Terminator is the mother of all action, sci-fi, movies. For my mind it is where it all started from, it is truly epic. If you get the time to watch this and haven't seen it before I recommend you watch it. Remember how old it is however and dont expect breathtaking visual effects, it's a bit gritty in this sense, but serves its purpose well enough.

It's not really worthy of a 5 given some of its short comings on the acting front, but its got it where it matters and the lead actors are excellent.

4.5 Stars
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