Saturday, November 28, 2015

Turkish Mad Max!

Turkish Mad Max (Olume Son Adim) (1983)

Runtime: 77 minutes

Directed by: Cetin Inanc

Starring: Cuneyt Arkin, Emel Turner, Yildirim Gencer, Nazan Ayas

From: Anit Film

Here's a different sort of review from me. I explain it all below in what I wrote about it for Letterboxd, but it is a Turkish film called Death's Last Step (which is pretty awesome) and somehow it became known as Turkish Mad Max even though it has nothing in common with Mad Max. My review is below:

Here is something quite unusual from me, a review of a super-obscure foreign film which is not dubbed or subtitled yet I had to see it anyhow; in this case, it's something that's been called TURKISH MAD MAX, so how could I not watch it? I did in fact find out about this movie from Letterboxd.

The title is pretty inaccurate, BTW; I don't even know what to compare it to, so I'll say it's more a case where three random people go looking for a kidnapped professor, who is said to have found a cure for leukemia (!), but boy is there a lot of lunacy involved. It shouldn't be a surprise considering it's from the director (Cetin Inanc) and star (the alpha male known as Cuneyt Arkin) of... TURKISH STAR WARS. Yes, I've seen that and one day I will again so I can give it a proper review here but note that it's not quite as deranged as that... what is, though?

I looked at a few reviews of it to get a general idea of what it's about but otherwise I winged it, trying to figure out what's going on without knowing a word of Turkish. Note that yes this indeed is hilariously inept on a frequent basis. It also looks at least a decade older than its 1983 release date. Let me mention some of the highlights:

* Arkin forces a bad guy to eat a packet of heroin, which suspiciously looks like the power from powdered donuts.

* Arkin is such an alpha, he plays cards while waiting for a gaggle of bad guys to show up, which he dispatches by throwing knives at them. Of course he often does his version of kung fu.

* The second hero (Yildirim Gencer, sort of a Turkish Lee Van Cleef, or maybe it's a mix of Van Cleef and Robert Loggia) shows up, and boy does he ever. You see him make out with a young woman (he's a middle-aged man) in a blue bikini as a disco song plays in the background. I knew right away which one the filmmakers stole. It's Have a Cigar by Rosebud. Yes, it actually is a remake of the Pink Floyd song and it is as strange as you'd expect it to be. Arkin shows up, says a few words... and it's implied that they both “hang out” with the bikinied babe.

* The third hero is a lady (Emel Tumer) and I don't think I've ever seen a motion picture gratuitously show off the main women in its cast (her and another lady we meet later on; the two heroes come off as tremendous horndogs). Sure, the women we see are attractive ladies and all but it becomes downright absurd how often it happens and how closely they zoom in on certain bodyparts. Anyhow, her intro was a ripoff of Marion's intro from Raiders of the Lost Ark, except that she and a guy with a giant mustache downs glasses of beer. He tries to-ahem-motorboat her, and a giant brawl breaks out.

* Things happen, such as Arkin flipping a coin more often than Harvey Dent and Tumer ending up in a wet t-shirt with no bra on. Yes.

* A form of the gearing up montage happens. Arkin wears a leather jacket and a bandolero, Gencer dresses up like Han Solo, and Tumer's outfit includes wearing short-shorts where her butt is hanging out. Oh, and the heroes are the ones who do a version of waterboarding.

* Is this like a proto version of The Expendables?

* Once they start the rescue mission, the movie is full of shootings, exploding bullets (yes, exploding; also, the few times the filmmakers try to show muzzle flash, it's animated and wow does it look daffy), Turkish Kung Fu, and other goofiness.

I am not quite sure how to rate this so I'll go with 3 stars, as while it's a gas throughout the first act is stronger-or at least more hilarious to me-than the other two acts, where all the action tends to blend together. If you've ever seen any of these off-the-wall Turkish movies, it is worth seeing this one.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The 'Burbs

The 'Burbs (1989)

Runtime: 101 minutes

Directed by: Joe Dante

Starring: Tom Hanks, Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, Wendy Schaal, Carrie Fisher

From: Universal/Imagine Entertainment

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I watched this movie last night; I had seen it before but that was a long time ago. It'll be gone from Netflix in a few days, so that's why I saw it at that time. I talk about it in my Letterboxd review below:

At the end of the month several films I have in my Netflix Instant queue will leave the service; I won't have the time to watch them all but I still wanted to see more than one of them. This movie is one of those that will soon be gone, maybe forever. I have watched this before but that was many years ago.

I presume many are familiar with the plot... if not, it's a dark comic look at typical suburban life. It's entirely set in a small neighborhood; the opening of the movie shows on a globe that it takes place in the American Midwest, Iowa to be more specific; it was mainly filmed on a studio lot. It appears to be an average neighborhood but you see that its denizens are all colorful characters. Ray (Tom Hanks) wishes to enjoy a week of vacation at home, but his new next door neighbors-the Klopek family-don't take care of the exterior and they are never seen. His paranoid pal Art (the late Rick Ducommun) and the ex-military Lieutenant Mark (Bruce Dern, who never not wears incredible clothing throughout; there's plenty of both camouflage and Hawaiian shirts) are convinced that something is very wrong with the Klopeks, and his friends really rile up poor Ray.

The movie is definitely uneven and I can't say it's great; yet, I still think it's fine and entertaining. Like I said it's full of colorful characters, from the leads to the strange neighbors, and there's even Corey Feldman, who plays the exact sort of character you'd expect Corey Feldman to play from about '85 to '90, meaning “a real smartass”. There are still plenty of laughs as typical suburban life is lampooned as really, who knows what your neighbors are like behind closed doors. This is like a wacky version of Rear Window, really.

There are other films from Joe Dante which I would rate higher (I just haven't watched any of them in the time I have been a member of this site), such as the Gremlins movies or The Howling but I still enjoy this entry in his filmography, as it is something different from the norm and it was nicely directed by him. There's also a great angry soliloquy from Hanks back in the day when he did these sorts of comedies rather than the “serious” movies he's done in the past 20 years plus.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Internship

The Internship (2013)

34% on Rotten Tomatoes (out of 158 reviews)

Runtime: 119 minutes

Directed by: Shawn Levy

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Josh Brenner, Dylan O'Brien, Max Minghella

From: 20th Century Fox/Regency Enterprises

I apologize for being gone for so long with no word; I was preoccupied with other things, including going to a gaming event in Orlando on both Friday and Saturday. I'll try to get back in the swing of things but I may be sporadic for the rest of the year. As for this movie, it was not my choice to see this, and I'll leave it at that. The Letterboxd review is below: 

The past few days I have been preoccupied with other things so I have not had the time to watch any films. Those things aren't anything bad, and I'll leave it at that. I was not expecting this movie to be the one I saw last night for a review, but without going into details on why, I was somewhere else and I had no voice in the matter so I had to see this, despite not having any desire to ever do so. I saw the PG-13 version and not the unrated version, although I highly doubt that would change my rating at all. Turns out, this was pretty bad, and the common complaint of “This is just a 2 hour commercial for a company that does not need such a plug” isn't even my biggest gripe with it.

I presume most are familiar with the plot so I won't spend much time describing how two dopey man-children in Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson lose their crappy jobs so they decide to apply for a Google internship and of course they act like dopes at first so there's a clash with the “youths” they have to work with but of course things change and they get along and yawn...

What constitutes modern humor just doesn't interest me. As the lack of modern superhero movie reviews I've done reflects how much I care about such things, me not watching most of the comedies that have come out in recent years speaks volumes. Considering that much of the “humor” was “a bunch of incessant babbling that sometimes included 80's references”, it doesn't cut the mustard for me. I only chuckled a few times and that includes a lewd gag. Then, there's the fact that this is a commercial for Google to show off how cool their headquarters is, yet the place doesn't look appealing to work at, as not only is it filled with D-bag interns, but the guy who leads that internship is a gigantic A-hole; what a great plug for Google!

The movie tries to have some poignant moments and I guess that was OK but overall this was just not good; it's filled with eye-rolling cliches, gross characters and like I said, I did not get many laughs at all out of this. The fact that there aren't too many films that I've seen in my life (whether or not I have them listed here) that have had either Mr. Vaughn or Mr. Wilson, that again speaks volumes.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

We all know the details, so I won't bother typing them out; just know that I saw the original version and not “the walkie-talkie” version.

This is a movie that I saw as a kid (as almost everyone else did in America who's around my age) but the last viewing was when I was a kid. So I was happy to finally see it again. Read my glowing take in my Letterboxd review below:

I am in my mid 30's, so it likely should be no surprise that I have seen this movie a few times before in my life. Yet, I have not seen it as an adult so my last viewing was many years ago. I figured it was about time I saw this beloved movie again and thankfully, I can still rate it highly and it's not due to nostalgia.

Everyone knows the story of that interesting-looking alien (which is a tremendous puppet effect and you believe it's real; if this was in modern times and it was a CGI creation, there's a good chance you wouldn't buy the effect) who gets left behind and you see it hang out with three young siblings, so I'll just say that I am glad the performances were effective all around-especially from the kids-as the viewer spends a lot of time around them. It's all charming and so entertaining. As others have said, it embodies the wonderment of childhood.

Another nice aspect is that the characters aren't flat or two dimensional. Even “the government” aren't that bad and the guy only known as Keys (Peter Coyote) has wanted to see an alien for years. Elliott as the lead is a typical 10 year old boy who wishes he could hang out with his older brother Michael and Michael's friends and wishes for pals and is affected by the recent separation of his parents; an alien friend is perfect for him and you really like Elliott. All three siblings are normal kids and thankfully aren't painted as annoying or dumb. They are typical suburbanites in a northern California neighborhood. It's a great script from Melissa Mathison, someone who recently passed away. It also reminds me what a great composer John Williams is, as the score from this film is note-perfect.

I was amused by some of the content in this family film and how you wouldn't see such material in a family film of today. You likely wouldn't see an alien get drunk after drinking a few cans of Coors and you definitely wouldn't hear a 10 year old boy refer to someone else as PENIS BREATH. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you. Also, I saw this via Amazon Instant Video and it was the original cut and not the “20th Anniversary Edition”, which of course I've never seen as I mentioned at the beginning this was the first time watching this movie as an adult. I do know that 2002 version is the one where “the guns that government agents carry in one scene were replaced by walkie-talkies” and everyone got upset by that change. At least unlike one of Spielberg's contemporaries, the original version of a classic film is still THE cut that can easily be viewed...

Anyway, this is great family entertainment made by an all-time-great director firing on all cylinders and I am sure can still captivate young children (such as the twin nephews I have, who will turn 3 in a month's time) today and I hope that one day they can watch the film and love it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kiss Of Death

Runtime: 98 minutes

Directed by: Henry Hathaway

Starring: Victor Mature, Richard Widmark, Coleen Gray, Brian Donlevy, Taylor Holmes

From: 20th Century Fox

Here is a film noir I watched at almost the literal last minute last night, and that was a wise decision. Read why below in my Letterboxd review: 

It had been a few months since a noir has been watched by me. Someone on a messageboard reminding me that this film was on TCM last night and as I had never seen it before... it was the most appropriate thing for me to see. One day I'll watch the 1995 remake where you see someone bench press a girl but I will presume that is not as good as this motion picture.

I don't want to give away too much about the plot but it's centered around Nick Bianco (Victor Mature), a crook who gets caught during a failed robbery and gets sent to the slammer because he won't rat out his friends. Things change and he changes his mind. Things end up complicated for him and he ends up dealing with a psychopath with the great name of Tommy Udo (Richard Widmark). An innocent dame (Coleen Gray, who just passed away a few months ago) is involved, as are the typical trappings of a film noir.

I now know why many people rate this highly. It's a quality noir for sure. You end up liking Bianco even though at first he acts like a punk. You find out that he has a family-including two young daughters-and he clearly loves them very much. There are entertaining tough guys throughout and the plot was always interesting to me. However, to be the true highlight was Widmark. This was actually his film debut and he hit a home run with his performance. Udo is quite crazed and he does a tremendous job bringing that to life with such thing as his maniacal laughter. I know that people have drawn parallels between that performance and Heath Ledger as The Joker and it is an understandable comparison. Widmark was actually a fan of The Joker in the Batman comics of the 40's. Anyway, Udo does a thing or two that made me go WOW as I was not expecting to see such things in a film of the time. I'll just say there are some incredibly harsh moments.

This movie is well-done and to list but an example of that, at times there are long stretches of silence (such as during the opening robbery, and it's used during other tension-filled scenes) and it's quite effective. I know that it won't be so long before I see another film noir.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Sound Of Thunder

A Sound of Thunder (2005)

Runtime: 101 minutes

Directed by: Peter Hyams

Starring: Edward Burns, Catherine McCormack, Ben Kingsley, Jemima Rooper, David Oyelowo

From: Franchise Pictures

I have actually seen this terrible movie before, a long while ago. I explain why in my Letterboxd review below why I did so on Friday night:

Due to all the chaos that happened on Friday, I figured that evening I shouldn't watch anything serious and instead my viewing should be of something that I know will provide laughs, as I had seen it before. Of course with this film it's unintentional humor but it still did the job. Although, the movie is still agonizing to watch so maybe I should have seen a traditional comedy instead.

This is based on the short story by Ray Bradbury; a free version of it can easily be found via a Google search. It's an entertaining story and all, but due to its length it had to be greatly expanded upon for a feature length film and somehow this lunacy is what we got. It shows that stepping on just one butterfly 65 million years ago can drastically change things... I am not sure how it works considering that the area immediately gets wiped out by a volcano but what do I know? The tale is set in the future of 2055 and time travel allows for people to hunt dinosaurs in an area right before it would have died anyhow. Things go wrong, a butterfly (actually a giant moth; yes, they couldn't get that right) gets stepped on, and the concept of “time waves” are brought in; I am sure that concept is poppycock... there's more glaring scientific problems than that with this story, believe me.

The story has plenty of unintentional humor. The biggest force that this group of asstagonists (sad to say, the people we're supposed to root for are all unlikable A-holes, who act incredibly rude for no real good reason; the villain-played by Ben Kingsley wearing a goofy white wig that makes him look like Malcolm McDowell-comes off as more enjoyable because he's such a sleazy SOB) have to face is monkey-dinosaurs! Then, there's such things as the dinosaur being hunted not having lived in that time period by “only” 80 million years, all the time travel logic problems (some of which were in the short story but they didn't even try to fix those), the hilariously wrong statement that “humans were the last to evolve” or the mistaken belief that no organism is still evolving today, not understanding what the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is, etc. It's incredible.

The most incredible thing, though, is the CGI. You can't even really blame the filmmakers. It's unfortunate for them that their production company (Franchise Pictures) went bankrupt during filming so their budget got slashed by more than half and thus they had to use computer graphics that are even worse than what you see in SyFy Channel original movies. I mean, they look so terrible and that's an issue when the movie is full of CGI. At least it brought me much mirth and merriment.

Yet, I only recommend this movie to the masochists despite all the ha ha moments, as like I said the characters are so loathsome. What a mess this movie is; because of the bankruptcy this took a few years to come off, and maybe it should have stayed on the shelf. He wasn't the first choice for director but this has to be Peter Hyams' worst movie, and he's done things like End of Days and that terrible wire-fu version of the Three Musketeers.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Relic

The Relic (1997)

Runtime: 110 minutes

Directed by: Peter Hyams

Starring: Penelope Ann Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, James Whitmore, Clayton Rohner

From: Paramount, Universal, and several other companies

Here's a film I saw on the big screen w/ a parent back in January of '97. I may not have seen it in full again until I checked it out Wednesday night on Instant. It's based on the book Relic and needless to say, the literary version is preferable to this. Read why below in my Letterboxd review: 

The book was better.

I know that is a common refrain when talking about movies based on books, but it's almost always true and this is a rare film where I did read the novel beforehand. I first read it in like '96, shortly before a parent took me to see this on the big screen in January 1997. I may not have watched it in full again until last night on Instant. Those that saw the movie without reading the book from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child will likely think that this is fine; me, I'll always compare it to the book and yeah, it was better.

The plot (the novel was set in New York City, the movie is in Chicago, perhaps because that's where they could film) revolves around the Field Museum of Natural History-I grew up in Illinois and yes I have been there before-and how a series of gruesome murders take place there; I mean, brains being ripped out and the hypothalamus being gone. The book had plenty of characters but as they needed the story to be told in a little less than 2 hours, things were pared-down. The two we focus on are superstitious cop-something the movie reminds us of often-D'Agosta (Tom Sizemore) and museum employee Margo Green (Penelope Ann Miller), who is an evolutionary biologist and needless to say that does come into play with the big bad monster, which is related to an old Brazilian tribe and the science is preposterous but at least the plot tried to explain it. An exhibit about-of course-superstitions is about to open with a red carpet gala, which is when the creature designs to raise the most hell.

At least I can rate the movie as average. I can't complain with the main cast (Linda Hunt also has a key role), it at least is a hard R movie with a lot of gore and violence, and the direction from Peter Hyams is good; I'll review more of his movies in the future. I have seen some of work and while there are stinkers like A Sound of Thunder, there are a good number of films I've enjoyed from him... from Sudden Death to 2010. A lot of the movie is shot in the dark so it's not the most aesthetically pleasing, though.

I re-read the book in '04 (and also read its sequel, Reliquary, which I did not really care for, as too many stupid and unbelievable things happened) so my remembrance of the whole plot isn't exact but the movie seems to dumb things down and fill it with cliché. Also, the biggest character missing is one that happened to appear in a number of novels after this one, FBI agent Pendergast. The character is kind of ridiculous in someone that you could believe actually exist in this world, but he was still memorable and I know he has many fans and I wish he could have been in the movie also.

Like I said, this may work better for those that haven't read the original novel Relic; if you like reading such books that have plots like this one, I definitely recommend checking it out.