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Goose

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  1. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Charley Varrick (1973) A group rob a bank, not suspecting it's a front for a mafia money laundering scheme. Walter Matthau stars as Charley Varrick, an ex-stunt pilot turned small time bank robber. When he, his wife and two companions hit an establishment, they come away with a lot more money than they expected. When it's reported on the news, and the figure mentioned is much, much lower, Varrick realises they've hit a bank fronted by the mob. Desperate to get their money back, the mob unleash Molly, a no-nonsense hitman played by Joe Don Baker. In the meantime, the robbers have to figure out how to get out of town before the cops - or Molly, get hold of them. Don Siegel directed this gritty thriller that's a real cut above the norm. This was a terrific picture, with some shocking violence and a superb plot that never sat still. I didn't know much about it so when a cop get shot square in the head during the opening five minutes, I was definitely caught off guard. The robbery itself is very well staged, and the action inside the bank cuts perfectly with Varrick's wife's get away driver and the gradual realisation by two cops that something is going on. This is followed by an excellent chase and a couple of quiet moments, before things get really interesting with the discovery of what the bank was. I think the only time I've seen Walter Matthau cooler than this was in the equally brilliant Taking of Pelham 123 - I'd even go as far as to say he was better here. Incredibly confident, cool and thinking four steps ahead. Matching him almost all the way was a formidable Joe Don Baker, a terrifying giant of a man, with no patience for messing around. He's as stone cold as they come, smart and unlikely to ask the same question twice. A superb villain and the perfect foil to Matthau. There's a good supporting cast too, including John Vernon, Andy Robinson and Jacqueline Scott. A great soundtrack, some very clever twists and turns, and just two fantastic performances. I really enjoyed this - I hadn't planned on watching more than ten minutes last night and I ended up watching almost all of it. This is certainly worth tracking down, a very impressive and enthralling picture. A real hidden gem of the early 70s. Thanks to Chosty for the recommendation a few months ago.
  2. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Absence of Malice (1981) A newspaper reporter prints a story, implicating a man in the murder of a union official, that will have far reaching effects for all concerned. Sydney Pollack directs Paul Newman and Sally Field in this drama. Newman's life is turned upside down when Field's reports that he may have been involved in the disappearance of a union official. His father was a loan shark and his uncle is a noted member of the local mafia, so the odds are already stacked against him. Fields is initially unrepentant but the guilt of what she has done starts to weigh heavy on her, which is only confounded when Newman's life long friend becomes involved. While all this is going on, the justice department are trying to build a case, but struggling to make much headway, while the mafia are keeping a close eye to ensure Newman doesn't try and cut a deal. This was excellent, with two great central performances by the leads, as well as sterling work from a strong supporting cast. It poses many big questions that are as relevant now as they were then. As one of the characters explains, once the news story is out there, there isn't any going back. The paper doesn't care if he's innocent, and even if he is, nothing will be done to show the public he was. It's a great moral dilemma and it was fascinating (and sad) to watch things unravel for so many people from one single story with barely anything to back it up. Sally Fields was tough, no nonsense and only focused on the story, never realising what will happen. Paul Newman is upstanding, angry and upset, and this comes to a head in a quite frightening scene. Only an actor of his calibre could pull off such a layered performance, and gain fear, respect and sympathy. The supporting cast were equally well rounded and not just there to spout exposition. Bob Balaban as the head of the investigation was superb, arrogant, scheming but also trying to solve the crime at hand. Two further standouts were Melinda Dillon as Newman's friend, a sad performance from a character who adores and worries for her companion. The other was Wilford Brimley who practically overshadows everyone in a stunning twenty minute scene in which he tries to figure out who is involved and what they were responsible for. It's such a great scene, and Brimley never misses a beat, comfortably proving no one gets the better of him. This is well worth a watch, and while not quite as good as The Verdict, it was still wonderful entertainment, with a plot that resonates.
  3. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Cam (2018) A webcam girl on the verge of success finds herself replaced....by herself. This has been getting some good notices here and elsewhere, and it's a well made, well played mystery thriller. Madeline Brewer stars as Lola, a small time webcam girl with a loyal group of followers. She's desperate to make it into the top fifty webcam girls on the site she uses. After some success she decides to do a show with another girl, after which things start to come apart at the seams. I wasn't quite as impressed with Cam as others have been, but it's still a very good picture with a great performance from Brewer, who by and large has to carry the film for its entire run time. She was a well rounded character, pretty and perhaps a little naive. There's a small supporting cast who come and go, including her beautician mother and younger brother. The use of technology was really well done, and it felt realistic within the world the film set up. Even when things began to get weird, it still kept its foot firmly in reality, for both the good and the bad. Brewer was an easy character to sympathise with and when she tries to explain things that are going on, most people do believe her, but aren't really that bothered by it. It made for a refreshing change and actually added further to the mystery than making it any clearer. The incidental characters also helped in this regard. It had plenty of twists and turns, but I was a little disappointed with the ending, perhaps I missed something. Worth seeing for Brewer's great performance and a mature use of technology, without feeling the need to get silly.
  4. Goose

    Netflix - Releases & Recommendations

    I liked Cam but wasn't quite as sold on it as others have been. This might be partly because I didn't quite understand the ending. MASSIVE SPOILERS
  5. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Pontypool (2008) A morning radio show receives calls about a group of people attacking a doctor's surgery and other bizarre incidents In the Canadian town of Pontypool, a DJ is heading to work when he encounters a woman repeating the same word. When he gets to work he clashes with his show's producer before they start to receive calls about people attacking a surgery. More calls follow and their eye-in-the-sky reporter encounters a crowd of people, including a boy with no hands. More madness follows as the team stuck in the studio try to figure out what's going on - or if it's some kind of elaborate hoax. This is a low budget, one location thriller with dashes of horror and dread. It starts not so much with tension, but more annoyance on all sides. But as things start to happen, the tension ratchets up and every word could be loaded - and deadly. I thought this was a very effective picture with some great performances from the small cast. The sense that something was very wrong crept up slowly, and the use of news reports and phone calls really helped paint a scene in your head. The calls from the eye in the sky were very well done, veering from normal chat to fear to outright chaos. Stephen McHattie was great in the lead role, as a shock jock who now works at a small town radio station. His paranoia that this was some big joke on the new guy added yet another dimension and gave the viewer more to consider. I liked that we saw events unfold as they did, and were pretty much as confused as they were. This wasn't a creature feature and we barely see the enemy, but that didn't make the implication any less frightening. The music seemed very loud, sometimes drowning out the dialogue, and towards the end it lost its way a little. The explanation, or lack thereof, was also refreshing, as was the ending, which looked to be going one way, then switched and went another. There were a few jump scares and a very painful scene to watch (and hear). I liked this a lot, it built up a great sense of foreboding and dread, managing to sustain for most of the remaining runtime. Recommended.
  6. Goose

    Netflix - Releases & Recommendations

    If you like the webtech stuff, Searching is well worth a go. Edit: Only just noticed I posted this in the Netflix thread. Searching is just out on Itunes etc.
  7. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    The Exterminator (1980) After his Vietnam vet colleague is paralysed by street punks, John Eastland takes the law into his own, brutal hands. Some Spoilers A notorious video shop classic, with much talk around the school yard of the meat grinding scene. The film is by and large a retread of Death Wish, changing the attack on a mother and daughter for the violent mugging of an ex-soldier. Robert Ginty stars as John Eastland, an average guy who is still suffering from PTSD after a vicious encounter in Vietnam. When he and his friend stop some guys steeling beer, they seek revenge and leave Eastland's friend for dead. This pushes him over the edge and he tracks down the gang responsible, after which he begins looking for crime on the grimy streets of New York. This was an exploitation filled revenge piece, with some over the top violence, particularly in the first half. The opening in Vietnam features a nasty, slow-motion beheading in a scene in which Eastland is saved by his friend. Switching to some years later, the streets of New York have rarely looked sleazier. Boarded up buildings, abandoned housing, sex clubs and street punks. The film then goes on to ramp up the violence, making the revenge by Eastland (who has dubbed himself The Exterminator) seem even more vicious. The infamous grinding machine sequence wasn't really up to much but did manage a good amount of tension. The implied torture of a prostitute by her client was far nastier than I expected and Eastland's attack on the perpetrators was equally graphic (as was his killing of a dog by electric knife!) While all this is going on, there's a no-nonsense cop investigating, and a minor subplot involving a politician trying to use some CIA contacts to remove The Exterminator before an upcoming election. There's also an odd romance between the cop and a doctor that seems to fit into another film entirely, which results in us switching from a mafia boss being ground into dog meat to a quaint picnic in Central Park. The film runs out of steam long before the end and the last twenty minutes are fairly run of the mill. This was an OK movie, but unlike say Scanners, this is one video shop nasty that really didn't live up to its reputation. While there are plenty of sleazy moments, only a couple really stick out, but the film does its best to prove what scumbags the villains are, while showing Eastland to be an avenging angel (with a flamethrower and the anarchist's cookbook). I won't rush to watch the sequel, though I'm glad I have finally seen this after all these years.
  8. A good run at 87 years old. His books on screenwriting are brilliant, and that’s before we even include The Princess Bride.
  9. Goose

    Sleaziest film ever made

    I’ve got 20 minutes of The Exterminator to go and yes, that’s certainly up there.
  10. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    The Presidio (1988) A murder on a military base sees an ex-soldier turned cop and his old commanding officer clash over who did it. Noticed this while I was looking through Stan tonight. After a murder and a great car chase, we're introduced to Jay Austin and Lieutenant Colonel Alan Caldwell, who instantly clash over old and new situations. They're forced to work together as the crime falls under both of their jurisdiction and neither wants to give ground to the other. To further add to the tension, Caldwell's long absent daughter returns, and falls for Austin, much to her father's dislike. Mark Harmon plays Austin, while Sean Connery is Caldwell, with Meg Ryan as his daughter. It's a likeable cast that's added to by the ever reliable Jack Warden. The opening car chase is fast and violent, and there's another really well shot on foot chase about two thirds of the way through. The story is actually slight and is compensated for by the subplot involving Ryan and Harmon's relationship. In fact at times, the main plot takes a back seat to romance and the family issues, but manages to get back on track for the final shootout, which again, was quite well shot, if over a bit too quickly. Connery chews up the scenery as the constantly annoyed soldier, and his Scottish accent even gets an explanation. Harmon is solid, and keeps the wisecracking to the minimum. He and Connery have a good, prickly chemistry together. Ryan gets to act flirty, ditsy and a little broken, but was as lovely as ever (no bias). Directorial duties were handled by Peter Hyams, who had already worked with Connery on Outland. The action is nicely done and apart from a few blips, it moves at a brisk pace. The main issue is that too much time is given to the subplot, and it really does feel like the case is forgotten for chunks of the film while we deal either with Ryan-Harmon or Ryan-Connery's problems. I also wasn't keen on a late reveal, though the outcome was handled well, and ended up being quite touching. A fairly enjoyable thriller, with good action and a likeable cast.
  11. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Nazi Overlord (2018) Near the end of the second World War, a small team of soldiers are sent into recover a scientist from out of the Nazi's hands. The Asylum take on JJ Abrams' Overlord to see who has the best Nazi experiment movie. To be honest, the first 50 minutes were alright, nothing special but it was half decent entertainment. The group are made of your usual crowd, the seasoned but traumatised captain, the loud mouth, the young kid and a couple of deserters hoping for a second chance. An old, sickly looking Tom Sizemore sends them into Romania to recover a British scientist and find out what happened to the four (!) previous teams who were sent on the same mission. They're ambushed in no time, and end up getting trapped in a cave - but the Nazi's refuse to shoot them. You can guess what happens next. The build up is ok, and the soldiers, while a no-name bunch of actors, do the best they can. Because the film plays it fairly straight to begin with, it's more about the people than the experiments (which don't take place until the last fifteen or so minutes).There's desperation in the cave, relief when they get out, and even a bit of disguise work. The effects are kept to a minimum because in general they are terrible. Similar, almost any enemy is silent, and pretty much walks into the bullets being shot at them. You'll struggle to find a worse bunch of bad shots anywhere else. However, once they do reach the lab and meet Dr Eris (a barely recognisable Dominique Swain), the film goes rapidly down hill. Swain is absolutely terrible, a mess of very bad acting, stupid accent switching and general wackiness. At one point she strips nude to enter the chamber were someone has just been mutilated by her experiment. The creatures themselves are another group of terrible CGI. It had its moments, though only a couple of them. The main cast were about OK, but Sizemore looked on the brink of death, and Swain should never be allowed to act again. Credit to them for sticking with it to the very end, which at least managed to try something a bit different. It's been a rough day and while this barely perked me up, it at least kept me watching to the end. I haven't seen Overlord yet but if you're after Nazi experiment movies, go with Frankenstein's Army. Probably best to avoid this.
  12. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Lovelace (2013) The story behind the life of Linda Lovelace, her family, her marriage and her infamous movie, Deep Throat. Following on from last week's Wonderland, I decided to watch Lovelace. Amanda Seyfried stars as Linda Lovelace, a fairly innocent 21 year old girl who falls for the charming Chuck Traynor, played by Peter Sarsgaard. He soon discovers her talent, and manages to convince a couple of pornographers to let her appear in the film they're making. This ultimately becomes Deep Throat, the most successful adult film ever made. The story seems glamorous, the people friendly and fun, and Linda is on top of the world at a private screening of the movie held by Hugh Hefner for about two hundred of his personal friends. Then the film cuts to six years later as we see Lovelace taking a polygraph test as part of writing her autobiography, to ensure she is telling the truth. The film then essentially restarts, as we see what we pertain to be what really happened. This was an interesting but flawed picture with two good central performances by the leads. Seyfried is both innocent and knowing, and in the first half is charming, mostly happy and full of life. In the second half she's the bruised and battered woman, practically forced into the film at gun point, and much worse, by Traynor. It's quite a startling contrast and Seyfried handles it very well. Sarsgaard is a jealous, violent excuse for a man, constantly at Lovelace, all but punishing her for the success she has bought to him. Similar, in the first half he's charming, with only a slight hint at the violence below the surface. There's also a good support cast which includes Hank Azaria, Bobby Cannavale and Chris Noth. I was particularly impressed with Robert Patrick and an unrecognisable Sharon Stone as Lovelace's mother. However, James Franco playing Hugh Hefner was basically James Franco. I'm not sure the central device of the two opposing versions of the same story worked. When you consider the first 45 minutes are an extremely glossed over version of the truth, you wonder what the point of it was. It robbed the second half of development and makes the real story seem rushed. I can't see what they were trying to achieve because likely if you're watching this movie, you know it wasn't all fun and games with a 70s soundtrack. Interesting and well made as it was, it felt like a waste of time. While the real story is much harsher, i can't imagine they were trying to put a feel good angle on the picture. It's not even as if the film purposely shows Traynor and Lovelace telling their version of events. There's some nudity but not as much as you might expect. Similar, the shots from Deep Throat that are recreated are all very carefully framed. It is well made, evokes the period and has a great soundtrack, but it falls someway short of being really good because of time spent on a story that largely didn't happen. As a back to back with Wonderland it would probably play quite well, but I was left a bit disappointed, despite the solid performances. --- As an aside, I'm not sure why they didn't just cast Amanda Seyfried as Battle Angel Alita - her eyes are easily as big as the CGI ones in that movie.
  13. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    Pieces (1982) A mad man with a chainsaw is cutting up college girls, and everyone is a suspect. Some spoilers This came up in the sleazy thread, and was recommended here by Deerokus. Pieces is bizarre to say the least, with bad acting, crazy music and numerous what the hell moments. It is never less than entertaining though. After a gruesome start, we cut to 42 years later and a college campus. Within moments of this jump, someone has cut up a girl who was studying on the grass. It doesn't take long before the next girl is chopped up, and there's plenty where that came from. Two detectives are called in to investigate, and there are plenty of suspects to go around. Is it the professor? The Dean? Could it be Willard the handyman or even Kendall, who is both a nerd and super stud. At one point the camera turns around in a corridor and all the suspects are standing there, looking suspicious, in a ridiculous shot. I have no idea how this film got made. It's not quite Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, but it's not far off. The dubbing is very poor, and while some of the voices sort of work, most of them don't. I'm not actually sure everyone is dubbed, but you certainly get that impression. The music is all over the place, one minute being creepy, the next it's funk city. There's something akin to a 70s adult movie track at one point, later followed by a big band number - while someone is getting cut in two. The effects are actually alright, and most of the women killed (and there's a few) are dispatched with a chainsaw. I'm not sure how one girl didn't see the killer get into a small elevator with it, but she didn't. The killer himself is only seen in shadows, or by his footsteps. We get a few shots that felt like they wanted the viewer to be the chainsaw. There's a lot of blood and a fair bit of gore too. What I was impressed with was the aftermath scenes, the sets and effects were well made up and very bloody. There's almost no story, and random things happen. At one point, they decide to use an undercover cop to pose as a tennis coach. I couldn't gauge her age but it was somewhere between 20 and 56. And of course, Kendall is interested in her. He also essentially gets roped into helping the investigation, with one of the detectives giving an out of place speech about him being trustworthy, and that he'd put his life on that kid being good. The film is full of such bizarre instances. At one point, the undercover cop is randomly attacked by a Chinese martial artist - for no reason whatsoever. It's like a one minute scene with him fighting her, and then he just passes out. When Kendall shows up, he explains that he's his karate professor, who then wakes up and makes a joke about bad chop suey. He's then never seen again. The ending is just as crazy, but there are one or two really quite good moments featuring one of the characters being drugged. But the actual last couple of minutes top everything that has come before for being so absolutely out there and making no logical sense whatsoever. This is a cult movie in every sense of the word. Not a single good performance, terrible story, music and dialogue, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't find it entertaining. There's some good kills and effects, a Porky's level of nudity and a ridiculous finale. You won't think it's a good movie, but it's certainly an experience. I think I recommend watching it? (I found it on Youtube)
  14. Goose

    A movie watchers blog

    I’ve just found a copy of Pieces on YT. Seen the first 45 minutes and yeah, it’s something! Not sure if it’s a good something but still.
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