REVIEW: WALL STREET

 

CAST

Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Michael Douglas (Ant-Man)
John C. McGinley (Highlander 2)
Hal Holbrook (Lincoln)
James Karen (Hercules In New York)
Tamara Tunie (Flight)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Terence Stamp (Superman 2)
Daryl Hannah (Kill BIll)
Saul Rubinek (Memory Run)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Sean Young (Blade Runner)
James Spader (Stargate)

Michael Douglas in Wall Street (1987)In 1985, Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is working as a junior stockbroker in New York City at Jackson Steinem & Co. He wants to work with his hero, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), a legendary Wall Street player. After calling Gekko’s office 59 days in a row trying to land an appointment, Bud visits Gekko on his birthday with a box of Gekko’s favorite, contraband Cuban cigars. Impressed at his sheer boldness, Gekko grants Bud an interview. Bud pitches him stocks, but Gekko is unimpressed. Desperate, Bud provides him some inside information about Bluestar Airlines, which he has learned in a casual conversation from his father, Carl (Martin Sheen), the union leader for the company’s maintenance workers. Intrigued, Gekko tells Bud he will think about it, but also that he “[looks] at a hundred deals a day,” but “[chooses] one.” A dejected Bud returns to his office. However, Gekko places an order for Bluestar stock and becomes one of Bud’s clients. Gekko gives Bud some capital to manage, but the other stocks Bud selects lose money.Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen in Wall Street (1987)Gekko offers Bud another chance, and tells him to spy on British CEO Sir Lawrence Wildman (Terence Stamp) and discern Wildman’s next move. Bud learns that Wildman is making a bid for a steel company. Through Bud’s spying, Gekko makes big money, and Wildman is forced to buy Gekko’s shares off him to complete his takeover. Bud becomes wealthy, enjoying Gekko’s promised perks, including a penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and a trophy girlfriend, interior decorator Darien (Daryl Hannah). Bud is promoted to a senior stockbroker as a result of the large commission fees he is bringing in from Gekko’s trading, and is given a corner office with a view. He continues to maximize inside information and use friends as straw buyers to provide more income for him and Gekko. Unknown to Bud, several of his trades attract the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission.Charlie Sheen and Martin Sheen in Wall Street (1987)Bud pitches a new idea to Gekko: buy Bluestar Airlines and expand the company, with Bud as president, using savings achieved by union concessions and the overfunded pension. Even though Bud is unable to persuade his father to support him and Gekko, he is able to get the unions to push for the deal. Soon afterward, Bud learns that Gekko plans to dissolve the company and sell off Bluestar’s assets in order to access cash in the company’s pension plan, leaving Carl and the entire Bluestar staff unemployed. Although this would leave Bud a very rich man, he is angered by Gekko’s deceit and racked with the guilt of being an accessory to Bluestar’s impending destruction, especially after his father suffers a heart attack. Bud resolves to disrupt Gekko’s plans, and breaks up with Darien when she refuses to go against Gekko, her former lover.Charlie Sheen and Daryl Hannah in Wall Street (1987)Bud devises a plan to drive up Bluestar’s stock before manipulating it back down. He and the other union presidents then secretly meet with Wildman and arrange for him to buy controlling interest in Bluestar at a significant discount. Gekko, realizing that his stock is plummeting, dumps his remaining interest in the company on Bud’s advice. However, when Gekko learns on the evening news that Wildman is buying Bluestar, he realizes that Bud has engineered the entire scheme. Bud triumphantly goes back to work at Jackson Steinem the following day, only to be arrested for insider trading.Sometime later, Bud confronts Gekko in Central Park. Gekko physically assaults Bud as he berates him for his role with Bluestar and accuses him of ingratitude for several of their illicit trades. Following the confrontation, it is revealed that Bud has turned state’s evidence and was wearing a wire to record his encounter with Gekko. He turns the wire tapes over to the authorities, who suggest that he may get a lighter sentence in exchange for helping them make a case against Gekko. Later on, Bud’s parents drive him down FDR Drive towards the New York State Supreme Court Building downtown to answer for the crimes he committed under Gekko’s influence. Carl tells him he did right in saving the airline. The film ends with Bud going up the steps of the courthouse, knowing that while he is likely going to prison and his career is ruined, he now has a clear conscience.Charlie Sheen in Wall Street (1987)This is a great movie, and well captured by Stone, who himself had a father who was in the business and wanted to make a “business movie”, to look at the bad guys of the system, and how people’s simple needs often outweigh what they feel is right.

 

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REVIEW: SHADOW OF FEAR

CAST

Matthew Davis (The Vampire Diaries)
James Spader (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Aidan Quinn (Practical Magic)
Peter Coyote (Sphere)
Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact)
Robin Tunney (The Craft)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)

Super_Ninja_Steel_PosterShadow of Fear draws upon the elements of suspense from the famous genre of film noir. It also shares similarities to films from earlier decades in “The Brotherhood of the Bell” (1970) and “The Star Chamber” (1983). All three films focus on a secret male society that goes outside the law to protect the interests and advance the agendas of its members. I admired director Rich Cowan’s camera angles and stylish cinematography in “Shadow of Fear.” There was also good suspense sustained in the mysteries activities of the secret club.hqdefaultAt the heart of the action is the character of Harrison French, admirably played by Matthew Davis. Harrison is caught in a web of intrigue after an unfortunate incident of manslaughter while driving in a blinding rain. He is subsequently manipulated by the ringleader of the secret brotherhood, performed with great relish by James Spader. The cast is rounded out with veteran actors Peter Coyote and Aidan Quinn, along with good support from Robin Tunney, Alice Krige, and Lacey Chabert.juliet-landau-as-shelly-in-direct-hit-1994Beyond the effective and suspenseful plot, I was especially intrigued by the consistently morose and clinically depressed cast of characters. Despite the great affluence portrayed in the film, the main characters all suffered from guilt for their past conduct and by the obsession of keeping their skeletons in the closet, through assistance of Spader’s oily attorney, William Ashbury. It is especially revealing when throughout the film, the protagonist Harrison is chomping on prescription antidepressant medication in order to cope with even the slightest setback. In “The Brotherhood of the Bell” and “The Star Chamber,” the secret society went outside the lines of society’s ethics in the pursuit of such concepts as “truth” and “justice.” By contrast, in “Shadow of Fear,” there were no redeeming ideals as the members of the society sought only to cover up one another’s past transgressions. Literally, no one seemed happy in this film. Not even the powerful attorney Ashbury could remedy their sorry state of depression.

REVIEW: THE STICKUP

CAST

James Spader (Stargate)
Leslie Stefanson (As Good As it Gets)
David Keith (U-571)
Ron Livingston (The Conjuring)
Robert Miano (Fast & Furious)
Mark Holden (Supergirl)
Alvin Sanders (Cats & Dogs)

2550942,tMDhy7tO2jq_I_bQJ7QR5sQ6R+5UYxwNfDwq09y3RcqUKqa3ojuuW9XLRGCbVh6L0826fU64K9flKo9BfiVfOw==An apparently disturbed/depressed loner is on the run after a daring bank heist. He meets a woman who sympathizes with his vulnerability and they begin a relationship which becomes jeopardized when she comes to suspect that he is the murderous stickup man. To say more could jeopardize your enjoyment of this movie.2628467,VwhFldAt9VSesTlQO1wAKSzAvqPs01Lbqbf5kCRIWjxM1xxB7m5A6C93P67YzOOjlZaKygcQDjJaG9r5Npl0GQ==I had sadly resigned myself, before viewing this flick, to the fact that the the chances of finding a good mystery or thriller any more are close to nil. Writing tends to be dreadful, story lines implausible and hackneyed, and the obligatory twists and “surprises” either predictable or preposterous. But here we have a nicely written and very cleverly constructed thriller-mystery whose twist is unexpected and ingeniously constructed. The technique of ongoing narrative flashbacks is most often clumsy and confusing. But in this movie the same technique is very meticulously realized and is essential to the bend in the story line that the film depends on for its punch as an exceptionally engaging thriller.2913871,yp+T7PMY5lKvdiJRNP2232rRcIxVh8A_S7N9IsWuz4QEwaEPZZrjpU+rJbihmueTTpJCTKIusJ0qmDEDRKo4WA==And don’t be put off by the somewhat deliberate pace of the first third of the film. It’s crucial to what this movie is about.The-Stickup-2002

 

REVIEW: CRASH (1996)

CAST

James Spader (Stargate)
Holly Hunter(Batman V Superman)
Elias Koteas (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Deborah Kara Unger (Highlander III)
Rosanna Arquette (Pukp Fiction)
Peter MacNeill (Regression)
David Cronenberg (The Fly)

Film producer James Ballard (James Spader) and his wife, Catherine (Deborah Kara Unger), are in an open marriage. The couple engage in various infidelities but, between them, have unenthusiastic sex. Their arousal is heightened by discussing the intimate details of their extramarital sex. While driving home from work late one night, Ballard’s car collides head-on with another, killing its male passenger. While trapped in the fused wreckage, the driver, Dr. Helen Remington (Holly Hunter), wife of the dead passenger, exposes a breast to Ballard when she pulls off the shoulder harness of her seat belt.While recovering, Ballard meets Remington again, as well as a man named Vaughan (Elias Koteas), who takes a keen interest in the brace holding Ballard’s shattered leg together and photographs it. While leaving the hospital, Remington and Ballard begin an affair, one primarily fueled by their shared experience of the car crash (not only do all of their sexual assignations take place in cars, all of Remington’s off-screen sexual encounters take place in cars as well). In an attempt to make some sense of why they are so aroused by their car wreck, they go to see one of Vaughan’s cult meetings/performance pieces, a re-creation of the car crash that killed James Dean with authentic cars and stunt drivers. When Transport Ministry officials break up the event, Ballard flees with Remington and Vaughan.Ballard becomes one of Vaughan’s followers who fetishize car crashes, obsessively watching car safety test videos and photographing traffic collisions. Ballard drives Vaughan’s Lincoln convertible around the city while Vaughan picks up and uses street prostitutes and, later, Ballard’s wife. In turn, Ballard has a dalliance with one of the other group members, Gabrielle (Rosanna Arquette), a beautiful woman whose legs are clad in restrictive steel braces and who has a vulva-like scar on the back of one of her thighs, which is used as a substitute for a vagina by Ballard. The film’s sexual couplings in (or involving) cars are not restricted to heterosexual experiences. While watching videos of car crashes, Remington becomes extremely aroused and gropes the crotches of both Ballard and Gabrielle, suggesting an imminent ménage à trois. Instead, Vaughan and Ballard eventually turn towards each other and have sex while, later, Gabrielle and Remington have sex with each other.Though Vaughan claims at first that he is interested in the “reshaping of the human body by modern technology,” in fact his project is to live out the philosophy that the car crash is a “fertilizing rather than a destructive event, mediating the sexuality of those who have died with an intensity that’s impossible in any other form.”The film’s climax begins with Vaughan’s death and ends with Ballard being involved in another semi-deliberate car crash, this one involving his wife. Their fetish for car crashes has, ironically enough, had an unusual bonding effect on the Ballards’ marriage. As he caresses her bruised body on the grass median near the crash, Ballard and his wife display affection for each other, ending with Ballard saying, “Maybe the next one,” possibly implying that the logical end result of their extreme fetish is death.

Throughout everything, Cronenberg’s film manages to become a mesmeric masterpiece of unexpected profoundness and dramatic brilliance.

REVIEW: SUPERNOVA

CAST

James Spader (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Robert Forster (Heroes)
Lou Diamond Phillips (Young Guns)
Peter Facinelli (Supergirl TV)
Robin Tunney (Hollywoodland)
Vanessa Marshall (Star Wars: Rebels)

Supernova chronicles the search and rescue patrol of a medical ship in deep space in the early 22nd century and its six-member crew, which includes captain and pilot A.J. Marley (Robert Forster), co-pilot Nick Vanzant (James Spader), medical officer Kaela Evers (Angela Bassett), medical technician Yerzy Penalosa (Lou Diamond Phillips), search and rescue paramedic Danika Lund (Robin Tunney) and computer technician Benjamin Sotomejor (Wilson Cruz). Aboard their vessel, the Nightingale 229, they receive an emergency distress signal coming from an ice mining operation on the moon Titan 37, more than 3,000 light years away.

The crew answers the call and dimension jumps — during which Captain Marley suffers fatal injuries due to a malfunction of the ship’s equipment — arriving in the path of Titan 37’s debris cloud, some of which damages the ship and causes the loss of 82 percent of its maneuvering fuel. Worse still, Titan 37 orbits a blue giant, and its high gravity field will pull the ship to the point where it will be incinerated in 17 hours, 12 minutes — which happens to be almost the same amount of time that the Nightingale 229 will need to recharge its jump drive, their only possible hope for escape. With only an 11-minute window for escape, the surviving crew soon find themselves in danger from the disturbing young man (Peter Facinelli) they rescue, and the mysterious alien artifact he has smuggled aboard. This artifact is analyzed by the ship’s computer and is said to contain nine-dimensional matter.

It is ultimately discovered that the young man who called for rescue is actually Karl Larson, an old former lover of Kaela (it is implied they had an abusive relationship). Karl came into contact with the nine-dimensional matter after recovering the artifact. It somehow enabled him to acquire super strength and supernatural healing abilities, and made him younger (such that Kaela did not recognize him). Karl murders most of the crew except Kaela and strands Nick on the mining platform. Karl unsuccessfully attempts to romantically reconcile with Kaela. Nick finds his way back to the medical ship through a rescue pod left on the mining platform, and a battle ensues between Nick and Karl. Karl is ultimately killed by Kaela using explosives placed near the alien artifact which Karl was obsessed with retrieving. The explosion ejects the artifact into space, hurtling it towards the blue giant.

With moments left before the dimension jump activates, Kaela and Nick place themselves into the only remaining dimensional stabilization chamber (Karl had destroyed all but one), which is the only thing that enables human beings to survive the ship’s dimensional jump drive. The pods are meant to hold only one person, however — two subjects might be genetically mixed during the dimensional jump. Before Nick and Kaela enter the only remaining pod, the computer warns them that the nine-dimensional matter is reacting with the gravity of the blue giant sun and will cause a nine-dimensional reaction that will spread in all directions, such that the reaction’s resulting supernova will reach Earth within 51 years. The computer hypothesizes that the reaction will either destroy life on Earth or “enable humankind to achieve a new level of existence.” Just before the blue giant supernovas, the ship engages in a dimensional jump which brings Nick and Kaela back to Earth. As a result of their being in the same pod, the two of them each have one eye of the other person’s original eye color. The ship’s computer also reveals that Kaela is pregnant, which may be the result of them being in the pod together during the jump, or the result of their copulation hours earlier.

This is a fantastic little sci-fi movie from 2000, still looking good after all these years. The special effects are top notch and still look great, if you love a good sci-fi its really worth digging back up as its thoroughly entertaining!

REVIEW: SECRETARY

CAST
James Spader (Stargate)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Lesley Ann Warren (Teaching Mrs. Tingle)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Patrick Bauchau (Panic Room)
Jessica Tuck (Super 8)
Oz Perkins (Not Another Teen Movie)
Amy Locane (Airheads)
Lacey Kohl (Two Guys and a Girl)
Lee Holloway (Maggie Gyllenhaal), the socially awkward and emotionally sensitive youngest daughter of a dysfunctional family, adjusts to normal life after having been hospitalized following an incident of dangerous self-harm. She learns to type, and begins to work as a secretary for an eccentric attorney, E. Edward Grey (James Spader), who hires her despite her stilted social skills, unprofessional appearance and scoring higher than anyone he’s ever interviewed, therefore being overqualified. Edward explains that it’s dull work and they don’t use computers; however, Lee remarks that she is okay with these conditions.
Though at first Edward appears highly irritated by Lee’s typos and other innocuous mistakes, it soon becomes apparent that he is sexually aroused by her obedient behavior. After he confronts her about her propensity for self-injury and commands that she never hurt herself again, the two embark on a BDSM relationship. Lee experiences a sexual and personal awakening, and she falls deeply in love. Edward, however, displays insecurity concerning his feelings for Lee, and he shows shame and disgust over his sexual habits. During this period of exploration with Edward, Lee has also been attempting to have a more conventional boyfriend in Peter (Jeremy Davies), even engaging in lukewarm sex with him. After a sexual encounter in Edward’s office, he fires Lee.
After Lee is fired from her job, Peter proposes to Lee, who reluctantly agrees to marry him. However, while trying on her wedding gown, she leaves and runs to Edward’s office where she declares her love for him. Edward, still uncertain about their relationship, tests Lee by commanding her to sit in his chair without moving her hands or feet until he returns. Lee willingly complies. Hours pass, as several family members and acquaintances individually visit Lee to alternately attempt to dissuade or encourage her while Edward watches from afar, completely taken by Lee’s compliance. Because of Lee’s refusal to leave the office, she has gained news coverage from the media, which they believe to be a hunger strike. After three days, Edward returns to the office and takes Lee to a room upstairs where he bathes and nurtures her. The pair marry and happily continue their dominant-submissive relationship.
For the themes supplied here you’d probably expect a lot of raunchiness – well there are sexual moments, of course, but there is nothing gratuitous, which is in itself an achievement and well handled. Overall it’s quirky, off-beat, and a little bit differentF 

REVIEW: STARGATE (1994)

CAST

Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
James Spader (Crash)
Jaye Davidson (The Crying Game)
Alexis Cruz (Dark Wolf)
Mili Avital (Mossad)
Erick Avari (Heroes)
Viveca Lindfors (The Exorcist III)
Leon Rippy (The Patriot)
John Diehl (Crimson Tide)
French Stewart (Mom)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Djimon Honsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Carlos Lauchu (The Silencers)
Derek Webster (Godzilla)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)

A massive metal ring with engraved cover stones is discovered in the sands of Giza, Egypt in 1928, by an archaeologist named Langford and his young daughter, Catherine. Many years later, the elderly Catherine Langford offers Egyptologist and linguist Daniel Jackson the chance to translate the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the cover stones. Jackson accepts and travels to a US Air Force installation where he examines the stones. Special Operations Colonel Jack O’Neil arrives to take command of the project and he declares it “classified” before Jackson can begin his research.Jackson deduces from the hieroglyphs the existence of a “stargate”, a device used to travel to distant worlds. He discovers that the accompanying non-hieroglyphic symbols are star constellations used in a three-dimensional coordinate system. When selected in sequence on the metal ring, they create a stable wormhole to some other place in the galaxy. O’Neil leads a team with Jackson through the Stargate, and they find themselves inside a pyramid in the middle of a desert. The team cannot return home because the necessary coordinates are missing. Jackson, O’Neil, and the others explore the surrounding area and discover a mining operation run by humans. The miners assume that they are emissaries of their god Ra.Jackson attempts communication with the locals using pantomime, and later realizes that they speak a modern dialect derived from Ancient Egyptian. The soldiers develop a friendship with local teenager Skaara and his friends, and Jackson is given the chieftain Kasuf’s daughter Sha’uri as a gift. He initially rebuffs her, unaware that she is meant to be his wife, but they develop a friendship that blossoms into romance. Jackson guesses that Sha’uri may know the location of the cartouche containing the return coordinates for the Stargate. Jackson learns that the Egyptian god Ra was an alien lifeform who came to Earth seeking a cure for his impending death. Ra discovered that he could maintain a simpler Human body indefinitely, and he “possessed” the body of a human youth, enslaved the youth’s people and transported some of them to another planet to mine the mineral on which all of his technology is based. The enslaved Humans on Earth eventually rebelled and expelled Ra, and buried the Stargate. Fearful of a similar rebellion on this planet, Ra outlawed reading and writing so the people would forget their origins. Jackson discovers six symbols of the return coordinates but the seventh symbol is missing.At night, a pyramid shaped spacecraft descends over the pyramid. Returning to it the following morning, O’Neil and Jackson are captured and taken to Ra, still alive in the form of an androgynous human youth with glowing eyes. O’Neil tries to disarm the guards and kill Ra, but Jackson is killed and O’Neil and his team are imprisoned. Jackson is regenerated in a sarcophagus-like device and meets with Ra. Ra reveals his intention to return to Earth an atomic bomb brought by O’Neil, its destructive power now enhanced 100-fold with the addition of the mined mineral. Ra states that he will kill Jackson and everyone who has seen him unless Jackson kills the rest of the team to remind Kasuf’s people that Ra is their true god.Once Ra has the local people gathered before the pyramid, Skaara and his friends create a distraction while Jackson turns one of the guards’ weapons on Ra. In the confusion, Jackson and O’Neil’s team escape and take shelter in a cave with Skaara and the others. The next morning, Skaara draws a picture of the victory against Ra, and Jackson realizes that Skaara has drawn the seventh symbol needed to reactivate the Stargate.O’Neil and Skaara’s group attack and overpower the overseers of the mine and convince the people that their “gods” are human. With their help, O’Neil’s team return to the Stargate to deactivate the bomb. Faced with open rebellion, Ra prepares his ship to leave and launches fighters to counter-attack. Sha’uri is killed in the battle, but Jackson takes her into the ship and resurrects her in Ra’s sarcophagus device. Ra orders the augmented bomb be sent to Earth immediately. Ra’s guard captain discovers O’Neil, and they fight. Jackson and Sha’uri are captured by Ra, but O’Neil overpowers the guard and activates a teleportation device. The beam decapitates the guard captain and sends the head to Ra, while retrieving Jackson and Sha’uri. As Ra’s craft escapes the planet, O’Neil and Jackson teleport the bomb to Ra’s ship. The bomb detonates, killing Ra and destroying the ship. Skaara’s people celebrate their freedom and Jackson decides to remain on the planet with Sha’uri. O’Neil and the survivors of his team return to Earth.Loved Stargate when it originally came out and watched every episode of all 4 shows. I’m glad the directors cut came out on Blu-Ray. The special edition which added a little more to the movie. This will always be a film classic.