REVIEW: STALKING LAURA

I Can Make You Love Me (1993)

CAST

Richard Thomas (IT)
Brooke Shields (Pretty Baby)
Viveka Davis (Cast Away)
William Allen Young (District 9)
Richard Yniguez (B-Girl)
Scott Bryce (Popular)

hqdefaultLaura Black has got it all. She has got her master’s in computer science and she has got that great job in Silicon Valley. Time to say ‘bye bye’ to mom and dad and to leave Virginia. Everything seems to be fine with one exception. That guy Richard Farley at her new job. If he would stop his attempts to date her. For weeks his psycho terror has been going on now. Laura decides not to let him win. She does not want to be his ‘victim’. May be an official complaint about Farley would solve her problem?ti103624_largeThis type of film could seem over-the-top, but thanks to a believable performance by Richard Thomas, and a surprisingly decent performance by Brooke Shields, the viewer is interested in the story, and not distracted by personalities. As this is based on a true story, we see Richard Thomas gradually unraveling as he stalks Laura (Shields), he seems initially harmless, then obsessed. The breaking point occurs when he is fired. He has, he says to his friends, nothing to lose, and starts asking if the office is protected with bullet-proof glass. His co-workers laugh, thinking this is a joke. An intense thriller that is worthy of  a watch.

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REVIEW: SAMPLE PEOPLE

Sample People (2000)

CAST

Kylie Minogue (San Andreas)
Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One)
Simon Lyndon (Chopper)
David Field (The Secret Daughter)
Paula Arundell (Gods of Egypt)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Nathalie Roy (Strange Planet)
Nathan Page (Hiding)

image-w384Sample People is an upbeat dramatic thriller that follows four groups of Sydney-siders as they seek escape routes over one sweltering weekend. ‘Len the dreamer’ who stutters shyly just wants the gorgeous DJ Lush Puppy. Sem is a funky musician who has a premonition warning him that his girlfriend, Cleo, is in danger. He just wants to get them both out of their inner-city world. Andy is the charismatic drifter who’s conned his way through life and stolen money from his boss, TT. He just wants to head up the coast with TT’s girlfriend, Jess, but seems to be falling deeper into a love triangle of drugs and delusion. Finally, there’s Joey, a TV affected homeboy, who reveals to his best friend Gus that he’s got a gun and will use it sooner or later. The inevitable moment will arrive whin his violent gangster fantisies become reality. As the lives of our heroes become dramatically entwined, the consequences of their actions ricochet off each other.dennis-christopherThe critics have been less than kind to ‘Sample People’ – so I had expectations that the film will be somewhat of a dud when I saw it. Many of the criticisms of the film are correct; it’s a little derivative and quite a messy film – but that’s part of it’s charm. It’s quite brave for an Australian film – it’s noisy, colourful and never boring. It contains strong performances from Nathan Page, Ben Mendelsohn, Kylie Minogue and David Field; and a brilliant soundtrack of Australian artists covering classic Australian songs. The film’s production design is excellent – it looks like a Gregg Araki film, and the editing and cinematography are relentlessly brash. It’s imperative that people go and support films such as this – a low budget Aussie indie pic, because lack of support from critics and lack of distribution and publicity will mean that it remains unseen by the young adult demographic it is intended for. ‘Sample People’ (brilliant title) is as good as any film I have seen.

 

REVIEW: L.A. CONFIDENTIAL

CAST

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards)
Russell Crowe (Robin Hood)
Guy Pearce (Iron Man 3)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Kim Bassinger (Pret-A-Porter)
Danny DeVito (Batman Returns)
David Strathairn (Eight Men Out)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Paul Guilfoyle (CSI)
Simon Baker (The Mentalist)

In early 1950s Los Angeles, Sergeant Edmund “Ed” Exley, son of the legendary LAPD detective Preston Exley, is determined to live up to his father’s reputation. His intelligence, insistence on following regulations, and cold demeanor contribute to his isolation from other officers. He exacerbates this resentment by volunteering to testify in the Bloody Christmas case in exchange for a promotion to Detective Lieutenant. This goes against the advice of Captain Dudley Smith, who states that a detective should be willing to shoot a guilty man in the back for the greater good. Exley’s ambition is fueled by the murder of his father, killed by an unknown assailant, whom Exley nicknames “Rollo Tomasi”.Officer Wendell “Bud” White, whom Exley considers a “mindless thug”, is a plainclothes officer obsessed with violently punishing woman-beaters. One such incident leads him to confront a former cop named Leland “Buzz” Meeks, a driver for Pierce Patchett. White comes to dislike Exley after White’s partner, Dick Stensland, is fired due to Exley’s testimony in the Bloody Christmas scandal. White is sought out by Smith for a job in which they harass and beat up out-of-town criminals trying to fill the void left in Los Angeles following the imprisonment of gangster Mickey Cohen for tax evasion. The Nite Owl case, a multiple homicide at a coffee shop, becomes personal after Stensland is found to be one of the victims.Sergeant Jack Vincennes is a narcotics detective who moonlights as a technical advisor on Badge of Honor, a popular TV police drama series. He is providing Sid Hudgens, publisher of the Hush-Hush tabloid magazine, with tips about celebrity arrests that will attract more readers to Hudgens’ magazine. When he becomes involved in Hudgens’ scheme to set up actor Matt Reynolds in a homosexual tryst with L.A. district attorney Ellis Loew, and Reynolds is killed as a result, Vincennes becomes determined to find the killer.

Three African Americans are initially charged with the Nite Owl murders, and later killed in a shootout. Although the Nite Owl crime initially looks like a botched robbery, Exley and White individually investigate it to discover indications of corruption all around them. White recognizes Nite Owl victim Susan Lefferts as one of Meeks’ escorts which leads him back to Pierce Patchett, operator of Fleur-de-Lis, a call girl service that runs prostitutes altered by plastic surgery to resemble film stars. He begins a relationship with Lynn Bracken, a Veronica Lake look-alike prostitute. The body count rises when White searches a storage room under Lefferts’ mother’s house, and finds the decomposed corpse of Meeks.When Vincennes approaches Smith with the evidence he has found with Exley, Smith realizes his scheme to take over Mickey Cohen’s heroin empire is threatened. Smith shoots Vincennes, who utters “Rollo Tomasi” before dying, the origin of which Exley told Vincennes in confidence. Exley’s suspicions are aroused when Smith asks him who Rollo Tomasi is. During an interrogation of Hudgens, Smith arranges for White to see photos of Bracken sleeping with Exley, which sends White into a rage. Confident that White has gone after Exley to kill him, Smith kills Hudgens. Exley investigates and discovers Meeks and Stensland used to work closely with Smith. White drives to the police station and begins to fight Exley, but Exley is able to convince White that Smith is corrupt and has set them both up. The two decide to team together to take down Smith. They are able to obtain evidence against Smith by threatening Loew, and later find Patchett murdered. Exley and White realize that Smith himself has been taking over after Cohen, and the killings have been Smith tying up loose ends.Exley and White are set up with a trap against Smith and his hitmen. After a gunfight that kills all the hitmen, Smith shoots White in the face, but then is forced to surrender to Exley. As police arrive, Exley shoots Smith in the back, killing him. The LAPD cover up Smith’s crimes and say he died a hero in the shootout to protect the department’s image, and in exchange Exley bargains to also be hailed a hero and receives a medal for his bravery. Upon leaving City Hall, Exley sees Bracken, who tells him she is returning home to Arizona with White, revealing White survived the shooting. Exley and White shake hands and Bracken drives off into the sunset.5616cde899678This was easily the best Hollywood movie of 1997, this just may be one the smartest movies you haven’t seen. With great performances from an ensemble all-star cast and a clever script, the dramatic tension of this modern film-noir classic is an absolute must-see! Told through a variation on the theme of “good cop, bad cop” with an overarching corruption angle, this film cleverly deals with issues of racism, social justice and ethics in a non-discriminatory manner. Character development is well-done and the dramatic tension is superb. If you are a fan of crime-drama and detective stories, you won’t be disappointed

REVIEW: CRAZY MOON

CAST

Kiefer Sutherland (24)
Vanessa Vaughan (Away From Her)
Peter Spence (Home Fires)
Ken Pogue (The Hitman)
Terri Hawkes (Sirens)

2576-2This is a classic love story with a strange setting. Kiefer Sutherland plays a boy with some big social and affective problems, who falls in love with a deaf girl that is trying to find her place in the world. The way this is played out makes the story kind of hard to watch, but at the same time tremendously endearing.MSDCRMO EC004Both actors do a great job, especially the girl, Vanessa Vaughan. I’ve read she’s actually deaf, so I guess she had that as an advantage. Communication plays an important role in this movie, as both characters teach each other to beat their fears. And Vanessa’s smile is nothing short of spectacular.

 

REVIEW: THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE

CAST

Rebecca De Mornay (Jessica Jones)
Annabella Sciorra (Jungle Fever)
Matt McCoy (Snapdragon)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Madeline Zima (Heroes)
John de Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)

Claire Bartel is happily married and pregnant with her second child. At a routine check-up, she is sexually molested by her new obstetrician, Dr. Victor Mott. Traumatized, she tells her husband Michael, who encourages her to report him to the state medical board. Her initial accusation prompts four more women to come forward with similar accusations, and multiple charges are prepared against Dr. Mott by the district attorney’s office. Upon seeing a news report about the charges, Dr. Mott commits suicide to avoid being arrested and tried. Later, Dr. Mott’s pregnant widow is told by her lawyers that her husband’s assets have been frozen because of the lawsuits and that she will lose her luxurious home. Mrs. Mott goes into early labor after fainting from the stressful news her lawyer gives her, causing her to lose her baby and, after hemorrhaging, is given an emergency hysterectomy. While recovering in the hospital, she sees a news story featuring Claire as the woman who went to the state medical board, leading Mrs. Mott to swear vengeance.Claire eventually gives birth to a boy named Joey, and, looking for a nanny, hires Mrs. Mott under the alias “Peyton Flanders”. Mrs. Mott begins waging a campaign to undermine Claire. She begins frequently breastfeeding Joey in secret, effectively brainwashing him to believe that Mott is his mother (which causes him to reject Claire, as he no longer take Claire’s milk) and encourages her daughter Emma to keep secrets from her mother and tries to turn her against Claire. She also secretly destroys Michael’s office proposal. Knowing that Claire’s close friend Marlene had been Michael’s ex-girlfriend before he married Claire, Mrs. Mott also suggests to Michael that he arrange a surprise party for Claire, leading Marlene and Michael to meet in secret. Claire accuses Michael of having an affair with Marlene, only to find the party-goers waiting in the next room.Solomon, an intellectually disabled handyman who has been assisting the Bartels, discovers Mrs. Mott breastfeeding Joey. Mrs. Mott then plants a pair of Emma’s panties in Solomon’s toolbox, leading Claire to fire him. Emma tells Claire that Solomon never did anything to her, but Claire refuses to believe Emma, causing her to turn against her mother as Mrs. Mott had planned. Unknown to the family, except for Emma, Solomon begins to keep a watchful eye over them. Claire begins to doubt “Peyton” and tells Michael so. Mrs. Mott overhears, then sets a trap for Claire in the greenhouse. Meanwhile, Marlene finds out Mrs. Mott’s identity; Marlene plans to warn Claire, but Mrs. Mott tricks her into going into the greenhouse, where she is killed by the falling glass. Mrs. Mott, who knows that Claire suffers from asthma, empties all of her inhalers. When Claire finds Marlene’s body, she has an asthma attack and is briefly hospitalized. As Michael is distraught over Marlene’s death and his wife’s condition, Mrs. Mott, wearing a sheer white nightgown, attempts to seduce him; he rejects her advances.Claire eventually uncovers the truth about Mrs. Mott, confronts her, and reveals the truth about “Peyton” to Michael as Mrs. Mott claims that she and Michael are having an affair. Michael denies this claim and kicks Mrs. Mott out. Claire then tells Michael to call the police as she realizes that Mrs. Mott rigged the greenhouse to kill her and not Marlene. Michael tells Claire to get Emma and Joey so that they can head to a hotel to be safe.Later, Mrs. Mott breaks into the house and lures Michael down to the basement where she knocks him down the stairs and breaks his legs with a shovel. Mrs. Mott then attempts to take Emma and Joey, but after seeing Mrs. Mott assault her mother, Emma locks Mrs. Mott in the nursery. Mrs. Mott escapes, and hears Joey in the attic. She enters and sees Solomon aiding the children’s escape. Claire enters and Mrs. Mott attempts to kill her, but stops after Claire appears to be having another asthma attack, allowing Mrs. Mott to mock her. As Mrs. Mott tries to take Joey, Claire gets back up, having faked her asthma attack, and pushes Mrs. Mott out of the window, impaling her on the picket fence and killing her. Touched at how Solomon risked his life to protect her family, Claire welcomes him back into their lives as they leave the attic while the police and paramedics arrive at the house.maxresdefaultThis is an involving film. Once you are into it, you’re hooked and the 100-plus minutes go by pretty fast. DeMornay is so effective in her role you just can’t wait to see her exposed for who she is and justice done to her. I did think Sciorra’s character would have needed more to go on to come to the right conclusion near the end, but, usually every film has some question marks regarding credibility. The violent, ending scene is very suspenseful and well- done.

REVIEW: BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE

CAST

John Travolta (The Punisher)
Glynnis O’Connor (As The World Turns)
Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch)
Diana Hyland (Hercules and The Princess of Troy)
Ralph Bellamy (The Awful Truth)
P. J. Soles (Carrie)
Vernee Watson-Johnson (The Big Bang Theory)

John and Mickey Lubitch conceive a child. After multiple previous miscarriages, Mickey fears the likelihood that something gravely wrong could happen to their child. The pregnancy results in the birth of a live baby boy, whom they name Tod. Tod’s immune system does not function properly, meaning that contact with unfiltered air may kill him, so he must live out his life in incubator-like conditions. He lives with his parents, in Houston, Texas. He is restricted to staying in his room all his life, where he eats, learns, reads, and exercises, while being protected from the outside world by various coverings.As Tod grows, he wishes to see more of the outside world and meet regular people his age. He is enrolled at the local school after being equipped with suitable protective clothing, similar in style to a space suit. He falls in love with his next door neighbor, Gina Biggs, and he must decide between following his heart and facing near-certain death, or remaining in his protective bubble forever. In the end, after having a discussion with his doctor who tells him he has built up some immunities which may possibly be enough to survive the real world, he steps outside his house, unprotected, and he and Gina ride off on her horse.I thought this movie was very good. You must consider that it was made in 1976 and also made for TV. Therefore it is not going to look like the movies we are used to seeing. I feel that it told the story very well. The movie is based on a true story. I feel that it did a good job conveying the emotions that Todd had. The camera positions in some shots really helped the viewer understand Todd’s life and struggle. I would recommend this movie to all especially those who like movies based on true stories.

REVIEW: CHOPPER

CAST

Eric Bana (Hulk)
Vince Colosimo (Lantana)
Simon Lyndon (Sample People)
David Field (Exile)
Kate Beahan (The Wicker man)
Daniel Wyllie (Romper Stomper)
Fletcher Humphrys (All Saints)

In and out of jail since he was 16, Melbourne standover man Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read (Eric Bana) is serving a 16-year sentence for kidnapping a supreme court judge to get his childhood friend, Jimmy Loughnan (Simon Lyndon), out of the notorious H Division of maximum security Pentridge Prison. To become leader of the division, he ignites a power struggle which gains him more enemies than admirers. Eventually, even his gang turn their backs on him and Loughnan stabs him several times in a failed assassination attempt. Chopper voluntarily has his ears cut off by a fellow inmate in order to be transferred out of the H Division; this also gains him recognition in and out of the prison.He is released in 1986, revisiting enemies and friends whom he cannot differentiate anymore. He reunites with his former girlfriend Tanya (Kate Beahan), but suspects that she is involved with one of his old victims, Neville Bartos (Vince Colosimo). He tracks Bartos down, shoots him and takes him to the hospital, unabashedly claiming that he has a “green light” courtesy of the Police “to exterminate scum”. When Chopper learns that he is now the target of a death-contract, he goes after his old friend Jimmy, only to find him worn out and poverty stricken by drugs with a daughter and a junkie fiancée who is pregnant with another child. He kills a criminal known as Siam “Sammy the Turk” Ozerkam at a bar, but gets away with it by claiming it was self-defence. He eventually ends up back in prison where he writes a book about his experiences in the Melbourne underworld. The book becomes a best-seller and Chopper becomes a criminal legend.The film ends with Chopper in his prison cell in 1992, watching himself being interviewed on television. He is proud of the interview among those watching with him, but when they leave he goes quiet and the film ends with him sitting in his cell alone.

Darkly humorous, brutal, yet not without pathos the film rightly focuses on its central character and lives up to the unlikely hero’s motto: never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn. “Chopper” is a fascinating film filled several amazing performances even in smaller roles. Not for everyone, but those who get this sort of thing will be richly rewarded.