REVIEW: THE MACHINIST

 

CAST

Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises)
Jennfier Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Aitana Sanchez-Gijon (I’m Not Scared)
John Sharian (Chicken Run)
Michael Ironside (Starship troopers)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)

Trevor Reznik is a machinist whose insomnia has led to his becoming emaciated. His appearance and behavior keeps his coworkers away, and they eventually turn against him when he is involved in an accident that causes his coworker, Miller, to lose his left arm. Trevor, who was distracted by an unfamiliar co-worker named Ivan, is blamed for the accident. No one at the factory knows of Ivan and there are no records of him. Trevor seems to find peace only with Stevie, a prostitute with genuine affection for him, and with Marie, a waitress at an airport diner he frequents. He is haunted by brief flashes of recurring imagery, and things such as his car cigarette lighter take on a menacing air. A mysterious series of post-it notes appear on his refrigerator, depicting a game of hangman.

These vague incidents send him further into paranoia, but he nonetheless attempts to establish a relationship with Marie. Meeting her at an amusement park, Trevor goes with her son Nicholas on a fun house ride called “Route 666,” whose flashing lights cause Nicholas to suffer an epileptic seizure. No longer able to think clearly, Trevor suspects that the bizarre events are a concerted effort to drive him insane. These ideas are fed to him in small random clues. One of them is a picture of Ivan fishing with Trevor’s coworker Reynolds, which he discovers in Ivan’s wallet when Ivan leaves it unattended in a pub. Another near-accident at work causes Trevor to lash out in rage at his co-workers; as a result, he is immediately fired. Increasingly distracted and alienated, Trevor forgets to pay his utility bills and his electricity is disconnected. A dark, viscous liquid begins trickling out of the freezer, coating the fridge door with streaks of what appears to be blood.After several attempts to confront Ivan, Trevor tries to trace his license plate. He follows Ivan’s car to read its license plate, but runs out of gas during the pursuit. When a DMV clerk insists that personal information cannot be released unless a crime has been committed, Trevor throws himself in front of a car in order to accuse Ivan of committing a hit and run. He files a police report with Ivan’s plate number on it, only to be baffled when he is told that the car in question is his own; he had reported the vehicle totaled one year ago. He flees from the suspicious policemen and goes to Stevie, who clothes and washes him, but he finds the photo of Ivan and Reynolds framed in her home and accuses her of conspiring against him. Confused, Stevie says the picture is of Reynolds and Trevor, but he refuses to look at it and is thrown out after a verbal conflict. He goes to the airport diner, but is told by an unfamiliar waitress that they’ve never had an employee named Maria. The waitress has served Trevor every day for a year, Trevor saying so little the waitress began to think he was a mute.In the film’s climax, Trevor sees Ivan take Nicholas into Trevor’s apartment and, fearing the worst, sneaks inside. Nicholas is nowhere to be seen and doesn’t respond to Trevor’s calls. He confronts Ivan in the bathroom and kills him after a struggle. He pulls back the shower curtain, only to find the bathtub empty. He goes to the refrigerator and opens it to find rotting fish and other spoiled food tumble out. His mind then flashes back to the fishing photo, which actually shows a healthy Trevor with Reynolds, just as Stevie claimed. Ivan being in the photo was part of Trevor’s delusion. The scene returns to one that occurred during the opening credits, in which he tries to dispose of someone’s corpse – presumably Ivan’s – by rolling it in a rug and casting it into the ocean. When the rug unravels, there is nothing inside. Ivan, alive as ever, appears holding a flashlight and laughs.The scene then cuts to Trevor staring into a mirror at home, repeating the words “I know who you are.” It is revealed that one year ago, Trevor ran over and killed a boy identical to Nicholas after taking his eyes off the road to use the car’s cigarette lighter, which was witnessed by the boy’s mother, identical to Maria. He decided to drive away, and the resulting guilt became the deep-seated cause of his insomnia, emaciation and repressed memory. Ivan was a figment of Trevor’s imagination and a manifestation of himself before the accident. He fills the missing letters of the hangman note to spell “killer.” He briefly considers going to the airport and escaping, but instead drives to police headquarters, signifying his “road to salvation,” a recurring theme in the film. He is accompanied by a silent but encouraging Ivan, who bids him an approving farewell outside the station. At the police station’s front desk, he confesses to the hit and run. Two police officers escort Trevor to a cell, where he states his intention to sleep and does so for the first time in a year.Overall, I would recommend this film, but not to casual movie-goers. This is very much a movie-phile experience for those who appreciate character development and cinematography as much as plot points and a storyline that can be defined and followed from one action to the next. In that way it is closer to films like Magnolia or the Others, where the apex is the characters. If you are looking for a typical popcorn Hollywood thriller, this is not what you are looking for.

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REVIEW: DEAD AWAKE

CAST

Stephen Baldwin (The Young Riders)
Macha Grenon (Familia)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Edward Yankie (Ials)
Janet Kidder (Arrow)
Claudia Ferri (The Killing)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)

egygyilkosagya22An insomniac wanders the streets at night and ends up at a local deli where life’s losers appear to end up, including a nice, although slightly lost young woman and a slightly deranged, apparently homeless man, and a untalkative, dysfunctional cop hangout. On one of the late night forays, the insomniac witnesses a murder. When he tries to report, there is no sign of the murder, but the cops become convinced he is the killer. But wait, that is not the weird part. It seems that the insomniac has a girl friend, who doesn’t have a clue that he gets up at night and wanders the city, and a personal assistant, who knows all about his exploits. But it only gets weirder from there as the cops uncover that the murdered man is connected to the man’s girl friend. getImageI had no expectations for this straight to dvd release starring Stephen Baldwin, but the movie was a pleasant surprise Dead Awake isn’t great, but considering that most straight to video thrillers are dreadful, lifeless and dull you have to appreciate it when you find one that’s pretty entertaining from beginning to end.

REVIEW: SOUTHERN CROSS

CAST

Esai Morales (Caprica)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations)
Valentina Vargas (Hellraiser 4)

2wr34tr34tA mining businessman gets involved in crimes and murderers as he flees from another businessman who plans to dump nuclear waste illegally in abandoned coal mines in southern Chile. y5u56yuSouthern Cross, written and directed by James Becket is a waste of good celluloid and actor’s efforts. A formula film is not necessarily bad if it pays off on it’s promise, which this film does not. It is a tiresome concoction of movie cliches that can be traced to a thousand different films from the past. It is full of random and empty plot twists that add nothing but aimless action, such as a trip by the protagonists to a ghost town where the villains (unexplainedly) follow them. This was obviously concocted as an excuse for a shoot out and escape scene bordering on the preposterous, with people popping in and out of doorways and running past windows while firing pistols at each other. Another very average action flick, worth watching if you like the actors, but if you don’t then don’t bother.

 

 

REVIEW: SPANISH ROSE (AKA POINT OF IMPACT)

CAST

Michael Pare (Streets of Fire)
Barbara Carrera (Never Say Never Again)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Lehua Reid (Solar Crisis)
Ian Yule (Zulu Dawn)

imagesJack David (Pare) is a tough, outspoken cop who finds himself wrongly accused for the death of a fellow agent by the depraved and power hungry chief of Miami Customs, Martin Cullen (Ian Yule). Disgraced and dismissed, Jack swears revenge and goes to work for Roberto Largo (Ironside), a rich, evil Cuban crime boss, as bodyguard for his smoldering wife, Eva (Barbara Carrera). Jack knows Largo is connected to his old boss Cullen and is determined to learn the secret that will bring him down. Trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse, held captive by his passionate affair with Eva, Jack must figure out the significance of the mysterious Spanish Rose to survive. maxresdefaultThis movie just fails to engage. It’s hard to pinpoint anything wrong with it. The actoirs were okay, But you just can’t find yourself caring about any of the characters or what happens to them. Very average action flick.

REVIEW: MINDFIELD

CAST

Michael Ironside (X-Men: First Class)
Lisa Langlois (The Nest)
Christopher Plummer (A Beautiful Mind)
George Sperdakos (Devil’s Advocate)
Eugene Clark (Land of Teh Dead)
Michael Sinelnikoff (The Lost World)
Russell Yuen  (Arrival)

2wr34tr34tAlthough made for an Anglophone straight-to-video market, Quebec science-fiction director Jean Claude Lord’s Mindfield also taps into the audience’s lingering fears about the the Cameron and Duplessis incidents, focusing on a fictional story built around the MKULTRA brainwashing program. Mindfield stars Michael Ironside in a rare “good guy” role as a police detective fighting the mob and his own repressed electroshock memories. Hard-boiled Kellen (Ironside) is hard at work organizing a police strike, but keeps getting distracted by vague flashbacks of the mysterious Dr Satorious (Plummer). At one union meeting he finds himself in a heated debate with Sarah, a civil rights lawyer who is currently trying a case against Dr Satorious. Sarah believes Satorious is using a combination of LSD and electroshock therapy to program people to kill, and then wipe their memories clean. Once Kellen reveals that he has been experiment on, Sarah asks him to testify. Kellen doesn’t like the idea, but during a shared car ride home, they dubiously forget their past arguments and end up falling in love.2On the way, Sarah stops at a pharmacy to get a prescription filled while Kellen waits in the car. As she steps in the store, so does Bob Champlain (played by Harvey Atkin, voice of the Leon’s commercials). Within minutes, four guys in ski masks break in and pull out their guns. When Kellen goes in to buy some cigarettes, he immediately realizes that the place is being robbed, and after another flashback, he pulls out his own gun and starts thinning out their ranks. The remaining crooks grab Bob as a hostage and drag him outside, demanding he tells them where “the key” is. Fearfully, Bob tells them it’s in his safe, and is shot before the remaining thugs take off. Kellen overhears this exchange, and when he gets to police headquarters he tells his Captain the robbery was merely a mob set-up to get Bob’s key. He grabs his partner and they go down to Bob’s office. Cracking his safe they find nothing but a huge stack of porn, but underneath the safe itself they stumble on a safe deposit key with a keychain from Erotim, a local sex shop. They visit the store, where the owner, a police informant, tells them about Bob’s connections to Johnny, an area mobster. After a few more professionals with mob connections are found dead, Kellen decides to take some action. Johnny is resting casually in his hot tub when a disrobed Kellen stealthily slips in beside him. Instead of say, shooting him to death, Johnny decides that a naked cop in his hot tub shows some sort of twisted moxie, and reveals that Rudy, an American hitman unconnected to his operation killed Bob.22Posing as Bob, Kellen visits the bank and gets the contents of the safe deposit box a film of Dr Satorious making brainwashed electroshock patients shoot at targets. But upon watching it, Kellen recognizes himself as one of the subjects! When Rudy kills Kellen’s partner with a car bomb, Kellen begins to see the extent of this government-sponsored conspiracy. After giving the incriminating film to Sarah for safe-keeping, he induces a flashback in himself by dropping acid. Stumbling into Satorious’ lab, Kellen discovers a computer file which lists mind-control subjects/assassins, including Lee Harvey Oswald. Kellen confronts Satorious with this evidence, but is caught off guard when Rudy shows up. Rudy and Satorious strap Kellen into an electroshock machine in an attempt to erase the incriminating data from his memory, but Kellen manages to escape, and hightails it to Olympic Stadium for the Police Union meeting (remember that plotline?). He is the only one who can save Sarah and the film, exposing government mind control programs. But he still doesn’t realize how far the conspiracy reaches.1

One of the final Anglophone feature films Jean-Claude Lord made, Mindfield is ambitious in it’s plotting, but needlessly confusing. Multiple storylines including the mob connections, the police strike, Satorious’ trial and Johnny’s prostitution ring muddy up the main thrust of the story and detract from Kellen’s singular quest for answers and revenge.  Despite their flaws, Canadian genre films like Jean-Claude Lord’s Mindfield are truly Canuxploitation films, tapping into our distinctly fears and reminding us of the dangers of a Government with no value for it’s populace.

 

REVIEW: McBAIN

CAST

Christopher Walken (The Prophecy)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Steve James (American Ninja)
María Conchita Alonso (Predator 2)
Victor Argo (Bad Lieutenant)
Thomas G. Waites (The Warriors)
Jay Patterson (Ted 2)
Luis Guzmán (Runaway Jury)

Santos attempts to lead a people’s revolt in Colombia to overthrow the oppressive El Presidente. When his revolt fails and he is killed, his sister Christina goes to New York to find McBain, a lieutenant Santos rescued during the Vietnam War. McBain agrees to avenge Santos’ death, calls up his old war buddies, raises the necessary funds by killing a few drug dealers and threatening the mafia, then leads an attack to topple the corrupt government. When I first heard about the title, I thought of ‘The Simpsons’, just like so many others, but when I saw the cast, I was completely stunned, that so many great character-actors would actually be in this!  the cast is great, and the action-scenes are very well done, and you’re never bored while watching this movie! Highly recommended to all action-lovers!

 

 

REVIEW: CAPTIVE

CAST

Erika Eleniak (Baywatch)
Michael Ironside (Scanners)
Catherine Colvey (The Woods)
Adrienne Ironside (Soulkeeper)

GGmain-791x430Yes, of course it was your standard B-movie ) format. Beautiful young woman thrown into sinister, corrupt insane asylum (or psychiatric institute, etc.). Her relatives or others are conspiring to keep her there for financial reasons. So is the phony doctor director of the establishment. However there is one twist here. The narrator (with voice-over) at times is the corrupt orderly or attendant who molests patients and creates situations that will be blamed on the heroine to make her seem more insane.  Most of the story is told from the point of view of the heroine. captive004Michael Ironside is always good to watch. The others were professional. You can’t expect too much from these things. It’s bottom of the bill and does not aspire to more than that.