Went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, sort of on a fluke, but I have to admit I really enjoyed it. Definitely the best one in the franchise since the original, and despite a relatively long run time, it’s nothing like the horribly bloated World’s End.
Salazar is easily as good a villain, if not better, than Dave Jones. And the supporting cast, especially Barbosa, kill it.
Oddly, though, the movie retcons a lot of the Jack Sparrow lore established in outings 2 and 3, but it’s mostly for the better.
If you were on the fence, get off and go. You’ll have a lot of fun.
Feast (2006), a well reviewed alum of Project Greenlight, is another previously unseen movie on my list this year. Although I was never really a big fan of Project Greenlight, the promise of a funny, gorefest staring Henry Rollins was too intriguing not to eventually see. Feast is a quasi parody of the “stranded in a cabin” horror genre, perfected by Evil Dead, and last improved upon by the seldom seen gem, Deep Blue Sea (1999). (Side note, Deep Blue Sea, that features Samuel L. Jackson and Ice Cube, among others, was widely panned upon release, but I think critics misunderstood the movie. It has genuine humor, suspense and action, and introduced new elements to the “stranded in a cabin” genre that Feast would eventually ape.)
Great performances, over the top gore, and monster on human corpse rape sequences all contribute toward a fun time (if you’re into that kind of thing.) The sometimes tongue in cheek, sometimes straight, approach the film makers take to the subject matter, however, makes it hard to enjoy as a comedy (as it’s billed) and makes it fall a little flat as a horror movie, in large part because the plot is so straight forward and predictable. But that said, there are some straight up fantastic moments in the movie, both laugh inspiring and delighted cringe inducing, that make it a fun October movie.
Brides of Dracula (1960) is one of Britain’s Hammer Studios’ several contributions to the vampire genre, and until now, the only one I hadn’t seen. I’m a Hammer fan though, so I was quite looking forward to it
Unfortunately, it’s also not their best contribution. Peter Cushing as Von Helsing and the stunning Yvonne Monlaur as the bride to be, are quite good in their roles, but the story is quite predictable even by 60s standards. Although the Dracula of this tale does have some unique tastes (his mom, yuck!), the film lacks even Hammer’s usual salaciousness, despite the name.
In the end, it was well made, well acted, but just hasn’t aged well as a Dracula movie.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of Gene Wilder movies over the years, and like a lot of people, when he died I decided to pay tribute with a mini movie marathon. But rather than revisit the beloved classics, I decided to dig a little deeper into his repertoire and watch some lesser known movies. The ones I chose were “Rhinoceros,” “The Worlds’s Greatest Lover,” and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother.”
“World’s Greatest Lover” was both written, and directed, by Gene Wilder. I’d never actually heard of this movie before digging into his IMDb, and probably for a reason. WGL is a deeply flawed film, although it does have some truly funny moments. It co-stars a very young Carol Kane as the wife of Wilder’s neurotic and fame obsessed character. The two travel to Hollywood so that he can participate in a search to find “The World’s Greatest Lover,” who will star in a new film from a studio trying to compete with Rudolph Valentino ’s reign as the king of romance. The movie studio head is played by a typically manic Dom Deloise, who has a few good moments, but is basically just playing himself. The movie comes across as more farce than comedy, although that’s clearly not the plan. If you’re a huge Wilder fan you might enjoy it, just for being able to see Wilder doing his thing, but I have a hard time recommending the movie.
The next film on my list is “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother,” that co-stars a young Madeline Khan as the femme fatale to Wilder’s quirky detective, and Marty Feldman as his whacky assistant. Unlike WGL, this movie knows exactly what it is trying to be and is downright hilarious, thanks to Wilder doing his best slapstick, bar none, impromptu song and dance numbers, and a comically fraught sexual tension between Wilder and a pathologically lying Khan that delivers laughs scene after scene. This is an incredibly fun film that should really have a bigger part in Wilder’s legacy.
The final film in my mini-marathon is “Rhinocerous,” an adaptation of a play by absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco. Wilder plays an alcoholic accountant, caught in an epidemic that is transforming people into, yes, rhinoceroses. It co-stars Wilder’s “The Producers” co-star Zero Mostel and Karen Black. The film feels very much like a play, complete with monologues and dialog heavy scenes. But the absurdist humor that made the play so much fun is delivered flawlessly by Wilder and Mostel. In fact, watching the two play off of each other makes me wish we had seen more of the two of them on screen together. The movie has a terrible, horrible, musical score, but is otherwise a delightful, fun, film that gives Wilder a fantastic forum for playing both frenetic and mellow in the same role. It’s no “Young Frankenstein,” or even a “Holmes’ Smarter Brother,” but for the Wilder fan, a great movie you probably haven’t seen.
1975 was a great year for movies. Jaws. Three Days of the Condor. Deep Red. But there are a lot of lesser known gems to come out of the era, including this largely forgotten Charles Bronson masterpiece, Breakout.
Chuck plays a slick talking dude willing to do “anything for money.” When Robert Duvall’s character is framed for murder and thrown in a Mexican jail by his uncle, his wife (real life Bronson wife Jill Ireland) hires Bronson to break him out.
It’s not the most original plot, but the plot is almost incidental to giving Bronson a chance to really live up his character. He’s a good hearted guy who plays tough and can talk anyone into going along with his schemes. Including his hapless partner (a very young Randy Quaid) and his ex-girl friend’s cop husband.
The movie is pretty deeply mired in the 70s, but in a great way. A well done soundtrack, unique characters, and Bronson’s mustache are all fun to watch, and the dialog is something you could never get away with in a modern film. But perhaps best of all, the movie follows none of the formulas so ubiquitous in films today, so while you could probably figure out the end if you want to, you can’t really be quite sure how it will play out.
A lot of 70s films just don’t hold up well – Breakout isn’t one of them. It’s a delightful, funny, quirky movie you should watch if you get a chance.
As part of their coverage of the new Tomb Raider movie, Entertainment Weekly did a history of the franchise and documented all of Lara Croft’s many achievements. They even remembered to include my own contribution to the franchise, Re/Visioned: Tomb Raider, an animated series that brought together a lot of creative talent to give their spin on the iconic character.
Some of the talent included Jim Lee, Cully Hamner, Gail Simone and Brian Pulido, among many others.