REVIEW: HOSTILE ADVANCES: THE KERRY ELLISON STORY

CAST

Rena Sofer (Heroes)
Victor Garber (The Flash)
Maria Ricossa (The Strain)
Réal Andrews (The Bay)
Sean McCann (Miracle)
Patricia Gage (Highlander: The Raven)
David Nerman (Blue Murder)
Karen Allen (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
Don Francks (La Femme Nikita)
Karl Pruner (The Recruit)
Sherry Miller (The Virgin Suicides)

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This 1996 film is the story of Kerry Ellison (Rena Sofer), a gifted young woman who shines in the offices of her job in the Internal Revenue Service. That is until work mate Jack Gilcrest (Victor Garber) develops an increasingly sexual, and distributing interest in her. He starts stalking her, and sends her sexually tense notes. After telling him on numerous occasions that she isn’t interested, he continues to harass her. Although her claims to the union are dismissed as her overreacting, she continues with her quest and eventually results to filing a sexual harassment suit against her employers. She becomes unpopular at work, but her strength and determination to have justice, not to mention peace of mind, carries her through. All of this is told via flashbacks, why Kerry, who has now moved away, meets a journalist in a pub, and begins to reveal to her the full story.

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Rena Sofer gives a great performance of a brave woman, and Victor Garber is perfect as the stalker, portraying him as a completely believable human being, and not too over the top, as many stalkers probably are. ‘Hostile Advances’ runs at a nice pace, ensuring that it doesn’t skim over things too quickly, but doesn’t run to slow as to make the viewer become bored and lose interest. It’s a very good film.

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REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Cate Blanchett (Hanna)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Karen allen (Scrooged)
Ray Winstone (The Departed)
John Hurt (Hellboy)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
llia Volok (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Alan Dale (Lost)
Neil Flynn (Scrubs)
Ernie Reyes Jr. (Welcome To The Jungle)

In 1957, nineteen years after The Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and his partner George “Mac” McHale are kidnapped in Nevada by Soviet agents under Colonel Dr. Irina Spalko. The Soviets infiltrate warehouse labeled “Warehouse 51” and force Jones to locate an alien corpse with a crystal skull, recovered ten years earlier. Upon its discovery, Mac reveals he is a double agent working for the Soviets. Jones escapes, unsuccessfully attempts to retrieve the skull, and in a fight with Spalko’s sadistic henchman, Colonel Antonin Dovchenko, they both fall onto a rocket sled, which ignites and speeds them away. Jones staggers away and, still pursued, arrives in a model town at the Nevada Test Site, minutes before an atomic bomb test, and takes shelter in a lead-lined refrigerator. Jones is rescued, decontaminated, and arrested by FBI agents, who suspect him of working for the Soviets; and though freed on the recommendation of General Ross, who vouches for him, he is put on indefinite leave of absence from Marshall College, also at the cost of the dean having to resign to keep Indiana’s job at the college.
Jones is approached by greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf), who tells him that Harold Oxley had found a crystal skull in Peru, suffered a mental breakdown, and was later kidnapped. In return, Jones tells Mutt about the legend of crystal skulls found in Akator. Mutt gives Jones a letter from his mother, who is also held captive, containing a riddle written by Oxley in an ancient Native American language. KGB agents try to take the letter, but Jones and Mutt evade them and reach Peru. At the local psychiatric hospital, Oxley’s scribbles on the walls and floor of his cell lead them to the grave of Francisco de Orellana, a Conquistador searching for Akator. They discover the skull at the grave, with Jones reasoning that Oxley had returned it there.
On leaving the grave site, Jones and Mutt are captured by Mac and the Soviets and taken to their camp in the Amazon jungle, where they find Oxley and Mutt’s mother, Marion Ravenwood, who later reveals that Mutt is Jones’ son, Henry Jones III. Jones berates her for not convincing him to finish school. Mac tells Jones he is really a CIA double-agent to regain Jones’ trust. Spalko believes that the crystal skull belongs to an alien life form and holds great psychic power, and that finding more skulls in Akator will grant the Soviets the advantage of psychic warfare. Spalko uses the skull on Jones to enable him to understand Oxley and identify a route to Akator. Jones and his four allies escape with the skull into the Amazon. They elude giant ants (possibly a relation of Eciton burchellii [1], which Jones refers to as “siafu”), and after Dovchenko loses a fight with Jones, he is devoured by the ants. Jones and his allies survive three waterfalls in a GAZ 46 amphibious vehicle (which gets destroyed after the third drop), as many of the Soviets fall from a cliff while trying to pursue them. Jones and Oxley then identify a rock formation that leads them to Akator, unaware that Mac is still loyal to Spalko and has been dropping transceivers to allow the surviving Soviets to track them.
They escape the city’s guardians, gain access to the temple, and find it filled with artifacts from many ancient civilizations. Indy believes the aliens – in fact, inter-dimensional beings – were “archaeologists” studying the different cultures of Earth, and Mac remarks that there’s not a museum in the world that wouldn’t sell its soul for the collection inside the temple. The five enter a chamber containing the crystal skeletons of thirteen enthroned skeletal crystal beings, one missing its skull. Spalko arrives and presents the skull to this skeleton. It suddenly flies from her hands to the skeleton and rejoins, whereupon the aliens reanimate and telepathically offer a reward in ancient Mayan through Oxley. A portal to their dimension becomes activated, and Spalko demands knowledge equal to the aliens’. The thirteen beings fuse into one, and in the process of receiving the overwhelming knowledge, Spalko is disintegrated and sucked into the portal leaving behind her shoes. Indy, Marion, Henry, and Oxley – now released from the skull – escape, while the Soviets are also drawn into the portal. Mac is caught in the pull while trying to scrounge some of the treasure, and even though Indy offers him the whip to pull him to safety, he replies with a wink of his eye, “Jonesy, I’m gonna be all right,” lets go and is pulled in. The survivors watch as the temple walls crumble, revealing a flying saucer rising from the debris, which vanishes into the “space between spaces” while the hollow in the valley floor left by its departure is flooded by the waters of the Amazon.
The following year, Indy is reinstated at Marshall College and made an associate dean. He and Marion are then married (finally) in a church. As the wedding party leaves the chapel, a gust of wind blows through the doors and Indy’s brown fedora flies off the coat rack and deposits it at Henry’s feet. Henry picks it up and is about to don it before Indy takes it from him and puts it on with a grin.
There are moments in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that are easy to make fun of. However, they amount to nothing but a few shots. When you take in the overall piece, Indy 4 is as fun and exciting as the previous three Indy movies.

 

 

REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

CAST
Harrison Ford (Blade Runner)
Karen Allen (The Perfect Storm)
Paul Freeman (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)
Ronald Lacey (Red Sonja)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Denholm Elliott (Trading Places)
Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2)
Wolf Kahler (Barry Lyndon)
Anthony Higgins (Young Sherlock Holmes)
William Hootkins (Batman)
Pat Roach (Kull The Conqueror)
Kiran Shah (The Hobbit)
In 1936, archaeologist Indiana Jones braves an ancient booby-trapped temple in Peru and retrieves a golden idol. He is confronted by rival archaeologist René Belloq and the indigenous Hovito people. Surrounded and outnumbered, Jones surrenders the idol to Belloq and escapes aboard a waiting floatplane. Jones returns to his teaching position at Marshall College, where he is interviewed by two Army Intelligence agents. They inform him that the Nazis, who are obsessed with the occult, are searching for his old mentor, Abner Ravenwood, under whom Jones studied at the University of Chicago. The Nazis know that Ravenwood is the leading expert on the ancient Egyptian city of Tanis in the Kingdom of Egypt, and that he possesses the headpiece of the Staff of Ra. Jones deduces that the Nazis are searching for the location of the Ark of the Covenant; the Nazis believe that if they acquire the Ark their armies will become invincible. The Staff of Ra is the key to finding the Well of Souls, a secret chamber in which the Ark is buried.
The agents authorize Jones to recover the Ark to prevent the Nazis from obtaining it. He travels to the Kingdom of Nepal and discovers that Abner has died, and the headpiece is in the possession of Ravenwood’s daughter Marion. Jones visits Marion at her tavern, where she reveals her bitter feelings toward him from a previous romantic affair. She physically rebuffs his offer to buy the headpiece, and Jones leaves. Shortly after, a group of thugs arrive with their Nazi commander, Arnold Toht. Toht threatens Marion to get the headpiece, but when Jones returns to the bar to fight the Nazis and save Marion, her bar is accidentally set on fire; during the fight, the headpiece ends up in the fire and Toht severely burns his hand trying to take the hot headpiece, and flees the tavern screaming. Jones and Marion escape with the headpiece, and Marion decides to accompany Jones in his search for the Ark so he can repay his debt to her.
The pair travels to Cairo, where they meet up with Jones’s friend Sallah, a skilled excavator. Sallah informs them that Belloq and the Nazis are digging for the Well of Souls with a replica of the headpiece, created from the scar on Toht’s hand. They quickly realize the Nazi headpiece is incomplete and that the Nazis are digging in the wrong place. The Nazis kidnap Marion and it appears to Jones that she is killed in an exploding truck. After a confrontation with Belloq in a local bar, Jones and Sallah infiltrate the Nazi dig site and use their staff to correctly locate the Ark. Jones, Sallah, and a small group of diggers unearth the Well of Souls and Jones is forced to face his fear of snakes to acquire the Ark. Belloq and Nazi officer Colonel Dietrich arrive, seize the Ark from Jones, throwing Marion into the Well of Souls with him before sealing it back up. Jones and Marion escape to a local airstrip, where Jones has a fistfight with a Nazi mechanic and destroys the flying wing that was to transport the Ark to Berlin. The panicked Nazis remove the Ark in a truck and set off for Cairo, but Jones catches them and retakes it. He makes arrangements to take the Ark to London aboard a tramp steamer.
The next day, a Nazi U-boat appears and intercepts the ship. Belloq and Dietrich seize the Ark and Marion but cannot locate Jones, who stows away aboard the U-boat and travels with them to an island in the Aegean Sea. Once there, Belloq plans to test the power of the Ark before presenting it to Hitler. Jones reveals himself and threatens to destroy the Ark with a panzerfaust, but Belloq calls the bluff and Jones surrenders rather than destroy such an important historical artifact. The Nazis take Jones and Marion to an area where the Ark will be opened and tie them to a post to observe. Belloq performs a ceremonial opening of the Ark, which appears to contain nothing but sand. Suddenly, angelic and beautiful, ghost-like beings emerge from the Ark and float around the assembly. Jones cautions Marion to keep her eyes tightly closed, and not to observe what happens next. Belloq and the others look on in astonishment as the apparitions are suddenly revealed to be angels of death; their beautiful appearance gives way to fangs and rotting flesh. A vortex of flame forms above the opened Ark and, utilizing Belloq as a conductor, shoots bolts of fiery energy into the gathered Nazi soldiers, killing them all. As Belloq, Toht and Dietrich all scream in terror, the Ark turns its fury on them: Dietrich’s head shrivels up, Toht’s face is melted off his skull and Belloq’s head explodes. Flames then engulf the remains of the doomed assembly, save for Jones and Marion, and the pillar of fire rises into the sky. The Ark’s lid is blasted high into the air before dropping back down onto the Ark and sealing it. Jones and Marion find their ropes burned off and embrace.
In Washington, D.C., the Army Intelligence agents inform Jones and Marcus Brody that the Ark is someplace safe and will be studied by “top men”. The Ark is shown being permanently stored in a giant government warehouse among countless similar crates.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was revolutionary cinema, paving way for summer blockbusters that would attempt for the same winning mix of thrills and humor. Only its sequels matched and/or surpassed it, but some have actually come close (The Mummy). If you haven’t seen Raiders yet, put it on the top of your list.

REVIEW: THE PERFECT STORM

CAST
George Clooney (Gravity)
Mark Wahlberg (Ted)
Diane Lane (Man of Steel)
John C. Reilly (Step Brothers)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
John Hawkes (Winters Bone)
Michael Ironside (Highlander 2)
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (The Abyss)
Karen Allen (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Rusty Schwimmer (Highlander 2)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Josh Hopkins (Cold Case)
In October 1991, the commercial fishing boat Andrea Gail returns to port in Gloucester, Massachusetts, with a poor catch. Desperate for money, Captain Billy Tyne (Clooney), convinces the Andrea Gail crew to join him for one more late season fishing expedition. The crew heads out past their usual fishing grounds in the Grand Banks, leaving a developing thunderstorm behind them. Initially unsuccessful, they head to the Flemish Cap, where their luck improves. At the height of their fishing the ice machine breaks; the only way to sell their catch before it spoils is to hurry back to shore. After debating whether to sail through the building storm or to wait it out, the crew decides to risk the storm. However, between the Andrea Gail and Gloucester is a confluence of two powerful weather fronts and a hurricane, which the Andrea Gail crew underestimates.
After repeated warnings from other ships, the Andrea Gail loses her antenna, forcing Captain Linda Greenlaw (Mastrantonio) of sister ship Hannah Boden to call in a Mayday. An Air National Guard rescue helicopter responds, but after failing to perform a midair refuel, the helicopter crew ditch the aircraft before it crashes, and all but one of the crew members are rescued by a Coast Guard vessel, the Tamaroa. The Andrea Gail endures various problems. With 40-foot (12 m) waves crashing on top of the deck, a broken stabilizer ramming the side of the ship, and two men thrown overboard, the crew decide to turn around to avoid further damage by the storm. After doing so, the vessel encounters an enormous rogue wave. Billy tells Bobby (Wahlberg) to apply full power to ride over the wave; it seems that they may make it over, but the wave starts to break and the boat capsizes. Billy elects to go down with his ship, the rest of the crew are trapped inside and only Bobby manages to get out. He surfaces in time to watch the boat go under; however, without a life jacket, he has no chance of surviving. He is last seen all alone among the waves. There are no survivors and the film ends with Linda reading the eulogy at the memorial service, followed by Christina and Bobby’s mother, Ethel, consoling each other on the dock and Billy’s voice soliloquising about what it means to be a swordboat captain.
A powerful and emotional drama epic.