The incredible plot to Knock Off, has something to do with planting mini bombs in pairs of blue jeans which in turn can be used to terrorize the United States by threatening to detonate their pants or something like that.
The film stars the you asked for it action team of Jean Claude Van Damme and Rob Schneider. Van Damme is supposedly playing a fashion designer and Schneider is supposedly an undercover CIA agent, no credibility stretching here.
The real star of the film is Tsui Hark. Once again Hark uses his super charged film technique to take a series of action scenes and stage and film them in the most kinetic way possible. Hark's technique completely overwhelms the film as it escalates into a series of elaborate action pieces ending with a see it to believe it scene on a ship involving cargo containers rolling around the deck attempting to crush Van Damme.
Tsui Hark traffic manages another action scene.
Clearly the concept was to make an action/comedy film. However someone should have spoken with Hark before the filming because he is definitely marching to his own drummer on this film.
A personal favorite when it came out 25 years ago, I'm not so sure Big Trouble in Little China completely works as a fantasy/comedic/action film. John Carpenter is good at the action scenes and knows how to build suspense scenes, but he seems to struggle finding the right tone for the film.
Big Trouble in Little China requires a director who can walk the line between the campy dialog, fantasy scenes and explaining all the oriental mysticism that make up the film. Carpenter also had to contend with the fact that at the time the film came out, these over the top fantasy films from Hong Kong are pretty tough for an audience to swallow.
At the time I saw the film, I thought Kurt Russell was sending up a typical John Wayne performance with all of his macho posturing. Russell now seems a little more on the hammy side than he probably needs to be. He doesn't seem to be entirely buying into the premise of the film.
Still, the film does have a lot to recommend it. It's a one of a kind film, with lots of crazy optical and practical effects, plenty of martial arts action and John Carpenter's very smooth film technique.
I saw this film at a 25th anniversary revival. The studio struck a new 35 mm print for it and the print looked very good. The trouble was that the projectionist had such little skill running the film, that he tended to miss the film cues and started the reel changes with the white film leader being shown.
Digital projection is taking its toll on the old fashioned way of showing films, apparently projectionists don't know how to run a film with actual celluloid in in.
A monster is loose on a spaceship and it's gonna kill each of the crew one at a time for the next couple of hours.
Alien was showing at a second run theater in the neighborhood as part of a summer movies series. The print was less than satisfactory, showing lots of wear and tear and color fade. In spite of all this, the film played very well and kept the audience interest even at the late starting hour of 12:00 AM.
The outstanding feature of the film is the impressive production design. The spaceships, planet and the alien still look very cool. The film is photographed very well and at the time Alien was released the monster set a new standard for slimy stuff oozing out of it and a particularly nasty set of double dentures to chew up the cast.
Wrapping up this post, one has to gratuitously conclude with a picture of Sigourney Weaver running around in her underwear towards the end of the film with the monster chasing her.
Women in their underwear being chased by monsters has been a film convention in Hollywood for years.
Hitchcock revisits some of the same plot situations and themes from his British classic The 39 Steps.
Hitchcock was unhappy with Saboteur. He felt that he didn't work out the story and the film turned into a bunch of set pieces. Hitchcock was also disappointed with the main leads of the films, Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane, two actors who he thought weren't sufficiently charismatic enough to carry his film.
60 years later Saboteur looks pretty damn good as a film. This is an extremely well made and acted film and has lots of Hitchcock's humor and his very clever way setting up a suspense sequence.
If the film lacks a strong story line and is mostly a lot of elaborate set pieces, these set pieces are excellent pieces of filmmaking, combining Hithcock's skill directing them, along with the technical ability and expertise that Hollywood crews could bring to a production.
I would certainly not rate this as a lesser effort on Hitchcock's part, it's a much better film than Rebecca, Spellbound or Suspicion.
This is the old Enoch Arden plotline, which was the basis for the Cary Grant film, My Favorite Wife, the unfinished Marilynn Monroe film Somethings Got To Give and the finished Doris Day film Move Over Darling.
The basic plot line has the wife who is presumed dead and her husband about to remarry when the wife shows up and creates all sorts of comedic complications. Hello Again just adds the twist that the wife played by Shelly Long, is brought back from the dead by her weird sister who happens to be a witch.
The director was Frank Perry who once upon a time made some interesting films like David and Lisa, Rancho Deluxe and The Swimmer. His career ended with nutty films like Mommie Dearest and the you have to see it to believe it Monsignor. Hello Again unfortunately can't even rate as a camp classic the film is the blandest of the bland.
The film is a show piece for the "comedic" talents of Shelly Long. Shelly does hilarious things like bumping into furniture, knocking things over, eating dog snacks that she thinks are triscuits, and mugging shamelessly towards the end of the film. Since this is a film aimed at women she is completely sexless and none threatening there is not an ounce of sensuality about her.
The entire cast is mostly made up of TV actors. The Touchstone Studio way was to keep the costs down, no super big name expense stars in their films.
The film is another attempt to sell a mediocre film to the public with the hops of making a quick buck.
Two couples hang out on a Sunday in Berlin. This was filmed on location with non professional actors and a very small crew. The film is noted for the participation of the behind the camera talent. Billy Wilder wrote the screenplay, Robert Siodmak directed, Edgar G, Ulmer and Fred Zinneman also worked on the film.
Probably the most important collaborator was the famous cinematographer
Eugene Schuffian who had worked with notable directors such as Fritz
Lang, Max Ophuls, Robert Rossen and Georges Franju to name a few.
People On Sunday looks very good.
The film is a fascinating look at Berlin right before Hitler came to power. Much of it has a strong documentary feel to it. The film also has some interesting observations about male and female relationships probably due to the writer Billy Wilder.
People On Sunday has a lot of charm and holds up very well probably thanks to the talented group of people working behind the camera who wanted to make something a little more interesting than just another drama.
Truffaut's film about school children in a provincial French town, is very good but probably not a masterpiece.
The film is essentially a series of episodic stories about the children, first love, parents being mean to kids, etc. This is what is called a "gentle comedy." Small Change gets serious towards the end when it is discovered that one of the kids is being abused by his parents. Truffaut had a very troubled childhood so it's not surprising the film would advocate for children's rights.
This is a good film, however I would not call it a masterpiece like The Wild Child. Truffaut was like John Ford, he liked to work. He was always developing film projects. In reality not every film can be a masterpiece even for a great director like Truffaut.
The problem with Small Change is the lack of a strong central story for the audience to get involved in. The abused child episode is only a minor part of the film.
Still, Small Change is made with a lot of skill. Truffaut was a very good director of children, and in this film he had a lot of kids to deal with which I suspect at times must have been like herding cats.
Just a whole lot of covers of soul music and lots of indecipherable Irish babble in this comedy/drama which is essentially plot less.
The film is considered one of the top Irish films of all time, apparently no one has seen The Quiet Man. The film is well made and the band created for the film perform the various soul songs very well but this is ultimately a pointless film. What we have here is an old MGM musical where Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland get the gang together to put on a show. The Commitments just dresses up the same premise with lots of swearing and a downbeat ending. A cliche is still a cliche.
The Commitments was directed by Alan Parker who was the go to guy for film musicals that were considered kind of edgy, stuff like Evita, Bugsy Malone, Fame and Pink Floyd The Wall. These films were all kind of interesting but hardly memorable.
Unsurprisingly, the film was responsible for 2 soundtrack albums. There is just lots and lots and lots of music to pad out the complete lack of story. Watching the film is kind of a weary experience after a while.
Filmed on location in postwar Berlin Roberto Rossellini captured the environment of a city defeated and occupied as it attempts to recover from the war.
Apparently Rossellini was in Berlin about a year or so after the war ended to do research and prep his film. It certainly pays, off the film has a very realistic feeling to it which is not surprising considering Rossellini was one of the founders of the Italian realistic movement in the late 1940's.
The film focuses on a young boy caught up in the black market and living in conditions of near poverty. He is exploited by his teacher who is still very much a fascist even with the defeat of the Nazis.
The film is unsurprisingly extremely depressing to watch. However a subject like this really doesn't lend itself to being filmed with a positive spin. An important if difficult film to watch.
Donnie Darko is a film about an alienated teenager being visited by a giant rabbit with a metal head. The rabbit tells him the world will end in about a month, this is the sort of sci-fi fantasy element to the film. However Donnie Darko may actually be a psychotic teenager who is imagining all of this.
The writer/director is Richard Kelly and he appears to have some talent. The film is very well made and edited. However the problem that Kelly gets into is that he seems intent on making a cult film with all the weird stuff he sticks into it. If you remove all the giant rabbit scenes and and the time travel crap, the film is just another alienated teenager story.
The film is pretty well cast with some old 70's and 80's actors like Patrick Swayze and Katherine Ross showing up in small but important parts. Drew Barrymore also isn't too bad as a teacher out of step with the school administration. However the title character of the film played by Jake Gyllenhaal is the usual repressed teenager full of anger and angst which is probably a cliche best abandoned.
Apparently Richard Kelly has a website that further expands the characters and the plot of the film. But if you have to work this hard to explain your film, maybe your approach to telling this story had a few problems in it to begin with.
Kristy McNichol is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, you know this because she smokes cigarettes in front of her mom. Tatum O'Neal is a girl from a very rich family whose father drives her around in a Rolls Royce. Little Darlings is sort of an Odd Couple for teenage girls at summer camp.
Kristy and Tatum make a bet at camp to see who can lose their virginity first. They pick out Matt Dillon and a very young Armand Assante as their intended virginity losing targets. Matt and Armand have long flowing hair and lush eyelashes. The guys are prettier than the girls.
Tatum can't get to first base with Armand but Kristy does the dirty deed with Matt and lives to regret it. Many lessons about life are learned at summer camp. The big lesson is that sex just isn't much fun.