This Week’s Films (14/04/14)

Flirting with Disaster

Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)Harry Crumb

John Candy is bigger, better and more bumbling than ever as the hilarious Harry Crumb–a big-hearted, soft-headed private eye and mix-up master of disuise. When Harry, the last of the great sleuthing Crumbs–and the last person in the firm to ever get an assignment–finally gets a shot at a frontpage kidnapping, it’s only because his beady-eyed boss, Eliot Draisen (Jeffrey Jones), doesn’t wantthe case solved. At stake is the gorgeous daughter of multi-millionaire P.J. Downing, a $10 million ransom, and Eliot’s mistress (Annie Potts). Attired in a bizarre array of goofball disguises, from a Hungarian hairdresser to a hefty housewife, Harry is bound, gagged and determined to crack the case and prove that when it comes to crime, he is one Crumb that won’t be swept under the carpet.

Verdict: 5/10

Cocaine UnwrappedCocaine Unwrapped (2011)

This documentary ties the recreational use of cocaine to the global realities of its dirty supply chain. It gives voice to those campaigning to take responsibility for our drug problem and exposes the human cost of one of the most popular drugs.

Verdict: 6/10

The Fish Child (2009)The Fish Child

Celebrated Argentine director Lucia Puenzo (XXY) returns with a gripping tale of forbidden lesbian romance and a crime heist gone awry. Boasting beautiful cinematography and electrifying performances from its two female leads, The Fish Child is a film festival favourite that will take you on a journey you won’t ever forget.Lala, a teenager from the most exclusive suburban neighborhood in Argentina is in love with the Guayi, the 20-year-old Payaguayan maid working at her place. They dream of living together in Paraguay, at the shores of lake Ypoá. Robbing every purse and wallet in the house to fulfill their dream, hiding the money in a shoe box. But when the box is full, it bursts, fueled by desire, jealousy and rage. This is the starting point that spurs the escape through the highway that connects the North of Buenos Aires with Paraguay. While Lala waits to be reunited with her lover in Ypoá by reconstructing her past (the mystery surrounding her pregnancy and the legend of a fish child who guides the drowned to the bottom of the lake), the Guayi is detained in a minors institute in the outskirts of Buenos Aires. She turns out to be hiding a crime from long ago.

Verdict: 7/10

Last Chance HarveyLast Chance Harvey (2008)

Romantic drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson. Harvey Shine (Hoffman) is one of life’s losers. A would-be jazz pianist, he earns his living in a dead-end job writing advertising jingles. When he flies to London for his daughter’s wedding, he is dismayed to learn that his daughter would prefer her stepfather (James Brolin) to walk her down the aisle. While drowning his sorrows, Harvey meets Kate (Thompson), a 40-something employee of the National Office for Statistics whose life has hithero been limited to work, the occasional humiliating blind date and endless phone calls from her smothering mother (Eileen Atkins). Despite numerous setbacks and misunderstandings, a gradual connection forms between Kate and Harvey that will transform both of their lives.

Verdict: 8/10

The Soloist (2009)The Soloist

A Los Angeles journalist befriends a homeless Juilliard-trained musician, while looking for a new article for the paper.

Verdict: 7/10

Mysterious SkinMysterious Skin (2004)

Off-beat indie drama. Brian Lackey (Brady Corbet) went missing for five hours when he was eight-years-old, an event that he remains convinced was the result of alien abduction. In the same small Kansas town, teenage hustler Neil McCormick (Joseph Gordon Levitt) is a confused outsider with a promiscuous mother (Elisabeth Shue) and who was abused as a child by his Little League coach (Bill Sage). Locked into their own obsessions, both young men pursue a self-destructive path that will lead them towards each other, and will result in each of them trying to exorcise the demons of their past. Also starring Michelle Trachtenberg.

Verdict: 9/10

Life 2.0 (2010)Life 2.0

LIFE 2.0 follows a group of people whose lives are dramatically consumed by the virtual world of Second Life. They reside in this new reality, where inhabitants assume alternate personas in the form of avatars – with digital alter egos that can be sculpted and manipulated on a whim. More than an examination of a hot new technology, LIFE 2.0 is an intimate, character-based drama about people who look to a virtual world in search of something they are missing in their real lives. The results are unexpected and often disturbing: reshaping relationships, identities, and ultimately the very notion of reality.

Verdict: 7/10

BroniesBronies (2012)

This unique doc explores the cultural phenomenon of Bronies, the rabid community of adult fans of the children’s cartoon show “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.” The film chronicles Bronies from around the world as they share their stories of ridicule and acceptance and prepare to attend the annual BronyCon convention in Baltimore, Maryland.

Verdict: 6/10

The Phantom of the Opera (1989)Phantom

In this house of music, evil strikes the final chord! Horror legend Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street) assumes the classic role of the Phantom in this shocking, nerve-jangling retelling of Gaston Leroux’s timeless tale of music, madness and murder! An aspiring opera singer finds herself transported back to Victorian-era London – and into the arms of a reclusive, disfigured maestro determined to make her a star. The silver-throated Christine (Jill Schoelen) enjoys success through the arrangements of her new lover (Englund)…until she realizes that he has been committing unspeakably grisly murders in her honor and won’t stop until he’s completed his masterpiece…in blood!

Verdict: 5/10

The Andromeda StrainThe Andromeda Strain (1971)

Directed with clinical precision by Academy Award winner Robert Wise, this compelling account of the earth’s first biological crisis is perhaps the most chillingly realistic science fiction thriller ever made. After an errant satellite crashes to earth near a remote New Mexico village, the recovery team discovers that almost everyone in the town are victims of a horrible death, with the mysterious exception of an infant and an old homeless man. The survivors are brought to a state-of-the-art laboratory descending five stories beneath the ground where the puzzled scientists race against time to determine the nature of the deadly microbe before it wreaks worldwide havoc. A trailblazer in the areas of special effects and inventive sets, The Andromeda Strain is based on Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel that created national paranoia for its topical relevance to the first moon landing.

Verdict: 6/10

Flirting with Disaster (1996)Flirting with Disaster

Written and directed by David O. Russell (Three Kings, Spanking the Monkey), this hysterically original comedy was cheered by critics and audiences nationwide. In a quest to find his biological parents, Mel Coplin (Ben Stiller – Duplex, Meet the Parents) – joined by his wife (Patricia Arquette – Human Nature, Holes) and a sexy adoption counselor (Tea Leoni – People I Know, Hollywood Ending) – embarks on a cross-country search for his “roots”. Yet as he careens from one outrageous situation to another, Mel finds himself tempted by the s eductive counselor – even as his wife starts a flirtation of her own! By the time they meet up with his free-spirited birth parents, the whole situation is spinning hysterically out of control! Also starring Mary Tyler Moore, Alan Alda and Lily Tomlin, this hilarious hit is sure to entertain everyone!

Verdict: 9/10

SalvadorSalvador (1986)

James Woods gives his “fullest, most humane, most emotional performance”(New York Magazine) to date in this “gritty, harrowing and bold thriller”(Gannett Newspapers). It’s 1980. Young men, women and children are being brutally killed in a bloody civil war in El Salvador. It’s a horrific setting…but a perfect one for Richard Boyle, a sleazy war photojournalist whose career needs a jump start. Armed with his camera, Boyle joins the front lines in an attempt to capture atrocious-but-valuable images of pain and horror. But with each picture he takes, he catches a tragic side of humanity that ignites his long-buried compassion. And he unexpectedly discovers something that will change him forever: his soul.

Verdict: 8/10

We are Legion (2012)We Are Legion

An intimate look inside the world of Anonymous, the radical “hacktivist” collective that has redefined civil disobedience for the digital age.

Verdict: 8/10

The LookoutThe Lookout (2007)

Chris “Slapshot” Pratt (Gordon-Levitt), whose once-bright future has been dimmed by a severe head injury, is a night janitor at a bank. Lonely and frustrated, Chris falls prey to a con man’s seductive promise of romance and a better life, and agrees to help rob the bank where he works.

Verdict: 8/10

Bedtime Stories (2008)Bedtime Stories

Story centers on a hotel handyman whose life is turned upside down when the bedtime stories he tells his niece and nephew start to come true.

Verdict: 3/10

Thin Blue LineThe Thin Blue Line (1988)

Academy Award winner Errol Morris broke new ground with the “riveting” (LA Weekly) film that dramatically reenacts the crime scene and investigation of a police officer’s murder in Dallas. So powerful and convincing that it helped free an innocent man from prison, The Thin Blue Line is “one of the finest documentary features ever made” (Boxoffice). On November 28, 1976, when drifter Randall Dale Adams was picked up by teenage runaway David Harris, his fate was sealed. That night, a police officer was shot in cold blood. And though all the facts pointed to Harris, a sociopath with a lengthy rap sheet, Adams was convicted of capital murder. Was Adamsguilty? And if not, can Morris unlock the secrets of this baffling case? *2003: Documentary Feature, The Fog of War (with Michael Williams)

Verdict: 9/10

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane

Some little girls can be murder! Thirteen-year-old Rynn (Foster) is a gifted prodigy who lives in a big old house with her reclusive father…all alone. Or does she? When Rynn’s nosy landlady and a lecherous neighbor (Sheen) begin to susupect that this little girl is hiding a dark and dangerous secret, Rynn is determined to preserve her isolated existence at any cost – and stop those vicious rumors dead in their tracks!

Verdict: 6/10

The VerdictThe Verdict (1982)

Sidney Lumet’s riveting courtroom drama earned five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Paul Newman’s towering performance as a down-and-out alcoholic attorney who stumbles onto one last chance to redeem himself. When attorney Frank Calvin (Newman) is given an open-and-shut medical malpractice case that no one thinks he can win, he courageously decides to refuse a settlement from the hospital. Instead he takes the case, and the entire legal system, to court.

Verdict: 8/10

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)Safety Not Guaranteed

When an unusual classified ad inspires three cynical Seattle magazine employees to look for the story behind it, they discover a mysterious eccentric named Kenneth, a likable but paranoid supermarket clerk, who believes he’s solved the riddle of time travel and intends to depart again soon. Together they embark on a hilarious, smart, and unexpectedly heartfelt journey that reveals how far believing can take you.

Verdict: 6/10

Along Came A SpiderAlong Came a Spider (2001)

Morgan Freeman reprises his Kiss the Girls role as Alex Cross in this spellbinding psychological thriller that is a knockout with a surprise twist. After the harrowing death of his partner detective and best-selling author Alex Cross has retreated to the peace of retirement. But when a brilliant criminal (Michael Wincott) kidnaps a senator’s young daughter Alex is lured back into action. Teamed with the Secret Service agent (Monica Potter) assigned to protect the missing girl Alex follows a serpentine trail of clues that leads him to a stunning discovery – the kidnapper wants more than just ransom…he wants Alex’s help in documenting the crime of the century. With time running out Alex plunges through a tangled web of danger and deceit to stop a madman and save an innocent victim’s life.

Verdict: 7/10

Apartment 1303 (2012)Apartment 1303

Janet leaves her troubled home for a high-rise apartment, despite warnings about the apartments dark and haunted reputation. Soon after moving in, Janet inexplicably dies, falling out the window of her thirteenth story apartment. Her sister Lana (Mischa Barton) moves in to the apartment, determined to reveal the truth behind her siblings bizarre death. What Lana finds is far more frightening and unexplainable than she had thought possible. Before she knows it, Lana gets pulled into a cycle of supernatural horror as she struggles to escape the apartment before she becomes its next victim.

Verdict: 2/10

Wall StreetWall Street (1987)

In this riveting, behind-the-scenes look at big business in the 1980’s, an ambitious young broker (Charlie Sheen) is lured into the illegal, lucrative world of corporate espionage when he is seduced by the power, status and financial wizardry of Wall Street legend Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas). But he soon discovers that the pursuit of overnight riches comes at a price that’s too high to pay.

Verdict: 8/10

Some Like It Hot (1959)Some Like It Hot

When Chicago musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) accidentally witness a gangland shooting, they quickly board a southbound train to Florida, disguised as Josephine and Daphne, the twonewestand homeliestmembers of an all-girl jazz band. Their cover is perfect…until a lovelorn singer (Marilyn Monroe) falls for Josephine, an ancient playboy (Joe E. Brown) falls for Daphne, and a mob boss (George Raft) refuses to fall for their hoax! Nominated* for 6 Academy Awards(r), Some Like It Hot is the quintessential madcap farce and one of the greatest of all film comedies (The Motion Picture Guide). *1959: Director, Actor (Lemmon), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography (B&W), Art Direction (B&W), Costume Design (B&W, winner).

Verdict: 8/10

Gangsters Guns and ZombiesGangsters, Guns and Zombies (2012)

When one man sees the dead rising from the grave, another sees opportunity. Q had a nice, simple plan: drive the robbery getaway van, deliver everyone to the safe house and get paid. Unfortunately, life is never that simple.   Q s accomplices are TONY, a murderous nut case; DANNY, who is bleeding all over the money in the back of the van; and CRAZY STEVE, who lives up to his name. The safe house is surrounded by police, and these zombies just don t quit.   The group takes refuge at a fortified windmill where they team up with the lovely CASSIE and her insane but well-armed GRANDMA. As Tony descends into deeper and deeper psychosis, he forces a last stand against the zombie horde closing in.

Verdict: 3/10

The Crow: City of Angels (1996)The Crow City of Angels

This action-packed sequel to THE CROW explodes on screen with hot new stars Vincent Perez (I DREAMED OF AFRICA) and sexy Mia Kirshner! After a brutal attack by an evil drug cartel, the murder victim (Perez) is brought back to life by a mysterious crow. With the help of a beautiful woman named Sarah (Kirshner), he exacts revenge on his killers one by one … only to realize his enemy, the lethal Judah, has discovered the one weakness that can destroy him forever!

Verdict: 3/10

Saw VSaw V (2008)

Fifth instalment in the Saw horror franchise. Despite the grisly death of Jigsaw in the last film, his legacy continues as the string of gruesome murders shows no sign of abating. When Detective Hoffman (Costas Mandylor) and Agent Strahm (Scott Patterson) are assigned to investigate the case, Strahm follows up on his hunch that his colleague is somehow involved in the new rash of killings. It isn’t long before a new group of strangers wakes up in Jigsaw’s lair to face a series of brutal tests. Can Strahm uncover Hoffman’s dark and deadly secret in time to save their lives, not to mention his own?

Verdict: 4/10

Get Low (2009)Get Low

Academy Award winner Robert Duvall (1983, Best Actor, Tender Mercies) is Felix Bush, the “Hermit of Caleb County,” a man so haunted by his secrets that he has lived in quiet desolation in the Tennessee backwoods for over 40 years. Realizing that he is near his own mortality, Bush decides to have a “living funeral party,” inviting people to tell their stories about him. Enlisting the help of Frank Quinn (Golden Globe winner Bill Murray, 2004, Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, Lost in Translation) and Buddy Robinson (Lucas Black, Legion), Bush goes through a process of self-discovery, allowing him to deal with his past secrets, including ones involving old flame (and new widow) Mattie (Academy Award® winner Sissy Spacek, 1980, Best Actress, Coal Miner’s Daughter).

Verdict: 8/10

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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