Author Archives: Roy

Shadow Conspiracy – Georges P. Cosmatos (1997)

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A typical, yet descent, spy action thriller for its time.

Bobby Bishop (Charlie Sheen) is a rapidly rising star in American politics. Under the tutelary of Jacob Conrad (Donald Sutherland) he became senator and special adviser of the president.

Then suddenly he becomes the subject of a violent hunt. Chased by a contract killer and later all federal forces, Bishop tries to figure out who is behind it all.

Cobra – George P. Cosmatos (1986)

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I do not really remember how this old Stalone ended up on my wishlist. This has never been my genre. Apparently I added two films of the director to the list, since I received another one (“Shadow Conspiracy” 1999). I do not immediately see the reason. Perhaps I mixed up his name with another one?

In a violent and dystopian society a violent gang kills people to prepare society for the future. Stalone is a cop of a violent division and of course he is sent out to fight the gang. In the proces he hooks up with the only witness alive, played by Brigit Nielsen. Yes, 1980’ies abound! There are more familiar faces, David “Sledgehammer” Rasche and Brian Thompson who plays the eerie shape-shifting hunter in the X-Files.
Incidentally Thompson is also a “hunter” in “Cobra”, the hunter in fact from the sample that Karjalan Sissit uses in “Pig Society”.

Anyway, of course you will get a load of violent action, some amusingly over-the-top. Stalone is the pretty bad boy with a small heart and society is almost as dark as in “Mad Max”.

Not bad, but still not really my genre.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Robert Zemeckis (1988)

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December 1988. I just turned 13 as the oldest of four and my mother thought it was a good idea to take the entire family to the movies. I believe it was Sinterklaas night (the Dutch gift-giving holiday early December). There were many more people than expected and the early showing was already fully booked, so we took the late one. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, a unique film in which film and animation were combined.

I do not really know if I ever saw the film a second time, but my guess is I did, because I suppose it has been shown on TV numerous times. On film fora the title often pops up when yet another person asks for “neo-noir” films and a while ago my girlfriend mentioned she would like to see the film again. Heck, why not? I remember it being funny.

Well, it is. It is quite amazing that the combination of cartoon and film still works well most of the time. Also there is an amazing amount of references to Disney cartoons, almost as if every possible character had to have a part in the film.

Roger Rabbit is married to sexy cartoon woman and framed for murdering his boss, but the toon-hating private detective Eddie Valiant sets out to help him of course running from one weird cartoon situation into the next.

Still quite funny!

Willard – Glen Morgan (2003)

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The film starts in a promising way. After the amusing (but rather long) opening credits, the first scenes suggest that this will be a weird and gloomy comedy reminding of the films of Jeunet.

Willard from the title is a nerdy man living with his elderly mother and working for an asshole boss who now runs the company that Willard’s father founded. He grows a friendship with the rats in his basement. A white rat he calls “Socrates” who becomes his only friend. A big, grey rat is (Big) Ben.

The concept soon runs off to silly, even childish scenes with rat training and eventually Willard terrorizing his boss with his rats. Then Ben starts to turn against Willard. In big steps the film runs away from what I like and it turns out to be quite awful. The stars below are mostly for the first 10 minutes.

A Field In England – Ben Wheatley (2013)

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This film has probably been on my wishlist since it came out, but was not too easy to find. It was worth the wait though!

In some British war, an unlikely combination of three men drop out of the fighting and try to make their way to an ale-house one of them saw. Two ruffians and a more nerdy type working for a mysterious master. On their way they run into the person the nerd was after, a dark magician (alchemist) who took off with something that belongs to his master. The magician has other plans with the party.

In a particular field, he hopes to find a treasure and he manipulates the three men into finding the spot and digging it up.

The film looks much older than it is, more like a black-and-white 1950’ies film with rough dialogues and weird characters. The film contains highly amusing dialogues with a lot of black humor. As the film continues there are a couple of very vague hallucinatory scenes. There are some other elements which are not clear if they are meant to be real or imagined.

Indeed, a strange, moody and very enjoyable film.

Let Me Make You A Martyr – Corey Asraf & John Swab (2016)

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A moody drama thriller in which for a reason that eludes me, a man returns to his drug abusing town after six years. He is not exactly welcomed with open arms.

He looks up old friends and foes apparently looking for something, but on his departure he took something himself making him a wanted man too. His foster father even hires the contract killer Pope to get rid of him.

Now Pope is played by Marilyn Manson which is the main reason why this film gets the attention that is gets. It must be said: Manson is casted perfectly and he plays his part convincingly.

The film is a little big vague and weird here and there. Perhaps that is the reason it is only rated 4.8 on IMDb. Personally I found the film quite good. The music is well done and the atmosphere is good. Not every actor is as good as the next, but hey, this is an independent film.

Certainly not bad.

Allied – Robert Zemeckis (2016)

A romantic spy adventure with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard, that bound to be a popular Hollywood production. This fairly descent film is only rated 7.1 on IMDb though.

Pitt and Cotillard are coupled on a mission to kill some Nazis and when they survive the mission against the odds, they leave for London where Max Vatan (Pitt) remains under the employment of the British secret service.

The secret agent professionalism initially looks a bit forced, but as soon as the spark of love enlightens, the two actors seem to be more in their element. The story is perhaps not be too surprising, but well-written. Also the film shows well how life continued during the war, while at other times it did not.

A descent film. Very much a Hollywood production, but not a bad watch.

King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword – Guy Ritchie (2017)

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This way-too-Hollywood spectacle is very loosely based on the legends of King Arthur. The creators made a story in which the “mages” are in war with humans resulting in a CGI-explosion in the opening scenes. This makes a thin bridge towards Arthur who is a commoner raised in a brothel.

The bad guy in the story is Vortigern (a very nice part of Jude Law) who tries to dominate the world. There is an alternative take on how the sword got stuck in the stone and of course Arthur is the one to get it out in order to thwart Vortigern’s plans.

Like I said, way-too-Hollywood with obligatory and unsuccessful drama, tons of over-the-top action, made-up elements and a fairly thin story.

The film may not be boring, but it has little to do with the Arthurian legends and all the extra elements did not really make an interesting story either.

Mr. Nice – Bernard Rose (2010)

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When the dull but clever Howard Marks goes to Oxford University he is introduced to different types of drugs. Soon he becomes a reseller and then a spider in an elaborate trafficking business.

As his empire grows, problems arise, but usually Marks overcomes them with his amusing Welch way of handling things. Getting caught up in Irish independence conflicts, Middle Eastern conflicts he ends up trying to penetrate the biggest market in the world: America.

Naivity, humor and practicality bring Marks a long way, but eventually he is stopped in his endeavors and he finds another, legal, way to use his fame.

“Mr. Nice” is an amusing film about the 1970’ies and 1980’ies drug scene.

Revolver – Guy Ritchie (2005)

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Ah yes there was this period in which all kinds of hip crime comedies were made with difficult stories. Of course Guy Ritchie contributed to the genre with films such as “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch“.

In “Revolver” Ritchie looked up the extremes of the genre. There are the witty dialogues, a film that is monologued by the main character and a story that gets more and more complex. There is not just the continuing question of ‘who is Keyser Söze‘, but Ritchie added a split personality of a man discussing with himself worked out with pretty much over-the-top montage which gets annoying towards the end.

“Over-the-top” is actually a description goes for the film as a whole. It is not a boring watch, but the director overdid himself trying to make a hip and complex crime story.