Thursday, 24 November 2011

Pentuple Bill Mini Musings: November 2011...

The Exterminator:
This 1980s exploitation action flick got somewhat caught up in the 'video nasties' era here in the UK, but save for a few violent moments (such as a tremendous decapitation in the action-packed, explosions-galore opening five minutes) there's not an awful lot here to get your knickers in a twist about.

A Vietnam veteran takes to the meanstreets of New York City to sweep away the scum - the gang members, the pimps, the abusers, and so forth - in revenge for the terrible fate that befalls his good friend. After an impressively realised and explosive Nam-set opener, the movie quickly falters - the pace is all over the shop, the plot has an inconsistent focus, and the side characters are loosely considered. There are numerous great ideas littered throughout this revenge flick, including a vaguely explored governmental conspiracy, that could have (and should have) added up to a much tighter and more entertaining action picture - but alas it's not to be, especially with an underwhelming denouement that fails to provide a knock-out punch (let alone utilise the impressive arsenal that two main characters are seen packing).

Great ideas and great moments are lost in a disappointing murk. If you're into this kind of movie it's worth a watch, but unless it specifically hooks you, it'll mostly fade into the ether of your memory.

Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House:
As a kid I was a big fan of the Tom Hanks comedy The Money Pit (and I still am to this day) - and it was this Cary Grant-starring comedy that provided the foundations for it. Grant plays an Ad Executive in 1948 New York who dreams of a family home in rural Conneticut and, like an episode of Grand Designs, his dream project soon takes on a life of its own. The budget spirals, problems galore arise during the build, and it all becomes a bit of a stress. Naturally I prefer The Money Pit - as it's been a part of film-viewing life for as long as I can remember - but it was good to see this. The pace might be a bit sedate, and the comedy a touch on the soft-delivery side of things, but it was good fun nonetheless.

Island of Death:
One of the lesser known (yet still notorious) 'Video Nasties', Island of Death is a Biblically immoral tale of an incestuous couple spreading their wrath throughout the Greek island of Mykonos. Goats, amorous Frenchmen, homosexuals, randy old spinsters, the most pointless policeman on the planet, and anyone else going feel the wrath of this pair of misfits whose motives are - at best - foggy. The love-it-or-hate-it soundtrack works jarringly against-the-grain of the on-screen sadism, and it lacks any real sense of propulsion or purpose, but if you're fascinated by the era of the video nasty, then it's worth a look ... mind you, I'm quite glad I saw it on the Horror Channel instead of spending any money on it. To me at least, it's a one-watch-pony.

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou:
As I've said before, over the last year I've suddenly gotten into Wes Anderson's brand of quirky ensemble comedies. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore, The Royal Tennenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and now this - a similarly inimitable telling of Bill Murry's titular sea explorer who discovers he has an adult son just as he's about to set off on a voyage to track down the apparent Jaguar Shark that ate his best friend and collegue. It's exactly what I'd expect from a Wes Anderson film, although out of the aforementioned movies of his that I have seen, this would be at the bottom of the list for me personally - but that said, the bottom of this list is still quite high up in general.

A cast full of names - including John Cusack (so as I continue to maintain, it's already worth watching simply for that fact) - populate this very effective, and incredibly fast paced mystery thriller. A series of people find themselves all trapped at a Motel in the midst of a torrential storm, and they're getting picked off one-by-one by an unseen killer. The reveal becomes apparent before its time and should have been hidden better for longer, but regardless, it's a stylish, efficient and very worthwhile thriller delivered by a talented cast and crew. It's one of those flicks I meant to see when it first came out in 2003, but for whatever reason I never got around to it - well I'm glad I finally did, because it's damn well worth a watch.

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