REVIEW: BLUE JEAN COP (AKA Shakedown)

CAST

Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness)
Sam Elliott (The Ranch)
Jude Ciccolella (Sin City)
Richard Brooks (The Crow: City of Angels)
Thomas G. Waites (The Thing)
Blanche Baker (Raw Deal)
John C. McGinley (Scrubs)
Patricia Charbonneau (Manhunter)

Roland Dalton (Weller) is a burned-out, mild-mannered Manhattan public defender, and his last case before leaving legal aid is crack dealer Michael Jones (Richard Brooks), accused of shooting to death police officer Patrick O’Leary in Central Park. According to Jones, the shooting was in self-defense and that officer O’Leary was a ‘Blue Jean Cop’ (an opportunistic police officer who robs drug dealers).Being a ‘creature of habit’, Dalton seeks the truth to his mysterious case and looks to Richie Marks (Sam Elliott), a renegade loner NYPD narcotics agent. Dalton realizes the prosecutor in his last case is a former love interest, the smart and sexy Susan Cantrell (Patricia Charbonneau). Throughout the trial Roland rekindles this former affair with Susan unbeknown to his fiancée Gail (Blanche Baker).Roland and Marks eventually learn that O’Leary was working with a large number of dirty cops who purchased blue jeans and an expensive car. The dirty cops were working with drug lord Nicky ‘N.C.’ Carr (Antonio Fargas). Roland at one point breaks into the police station’s evidence locker to locate the cassette tape that Jones had in a boom box radio at the time of his shooting. The tape recorded the entire incident and when Roland attempts to get the tape he is taken hostage by the team of dirty cops. Just before Roland is going to be killed, Marks bursts into the room and shoots the cops, saving Roland.Although Roland makes it to court, with the assistance of an insane cab driver (Tom Mardirosian) the judge refuses to allow the tape into evidence. After making an impassioned closing statement, the jury acquits Jones of the shooting. Marks then shows up in a Porsche purchased by O’Leary and they go to the airport to hunt down Carr and the last of the dirty cops. Richie jumps onto the planes landing gear and after shooting out an engine and tossing a hand grenade into the landing gear compartment, he jumps to safety just as the plane explodes. The movie ends with Roland again working as a public defender, he’s broken up with Gail and is once again dating Susan. The film is notable for its high number of extremely dangerous stunts.This film is worth watching just for the high calibre performances from both Weller and Elliot. The action scenes are worthwhile as well. The only setback though is these action sequences are used a little too sparsely. The lack of a breath-taking pace destroys an almost superior thriller. Otherwise, Blue Jean Cop is an adequate film. This movie would benefit greatly with a faster pace, but the acting from stars Weller and Elliot make Shakedown a film worth a look.

 

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REVIEW: SCREAMERS

CAST

Peter Weller (Robocop)
Roy Dupuis (Hemoglobin)
Jennifer Rubin (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3)
Andrew Lauer (Iron Man 3)
Charles Edwin Powell (Affliction)
Ron White (Defendor)
Liliana Komorowska (The Art of War)
Jason Cavalier (Stonewall)
Leni Parker (Earth: Final Conflict)

In the year 2078, the planet Sirius 6B, once a thriving mining hub, has been reduced to a toxic wasteland by a war between the mining company, known as the New Economic Bloc (NEB), and the Alliance, a group of former mining and science personnel. Five years into the war, Alliance scientists created and deployed Autonomous Mobile Swords (AMS) — artificially intelligent self-replicating machines that hunt down and kill NEB soldiers on their own. They are nicknamed “screamers” because of a high-pitched noise they emit as they attack. Screamers track targets by their heartbeats, so Alliance soldiers wear “tabs” which broadcast a signal canceling out the wearer’s heartbeat and rendering them “invisible” to the machines.A fragile stalemate is in effect between the two exhausted, poorly supplied, and undermanned armies. A message guaranteeing safe passage through NEB territory to discuss a truce is recovered from a dead NEB soldier, killed by screamers as he approached the Alliance compound. When Alliance commanding officer Joe Hendricksson (Weller) reports this development to his Earth-based superiors, he is told that such a meeting will not be necessary; peace negotiations are already underway on Earth. Not true, says Private “Ace” Jefferson (Andrew Lauer), newly arrived from Earth. Hendricksson is not surprised, as he suspects that both sides have simply written off Sirius 6B and abandoned their armies.Hendricksson decides that the only realistic chance of survival for himself and his soldiers is to accept the NEB truce offer. He sets out for a meeting with the NEB commander, accompanied by Jefferson. While traveling through a destroyed city they come upon a war orphan, a young boy named David (Michael Caloz), clutching a teddy bear. Unwilling to abandon a defenseless civilian, they bring the boy along. The following night they are attacked by a reptilian screamer that they have never before encountered. Hendricksson is alarmed that their Alliance tabs did not protect them.As the group nears the NEB compound, two enemy soldiers, Becker (Dupuis) and Ross (Charles Powell), open fire on David, whose chest explodes in a shower of gears, bolts, and wires. They explain to the astonished Alliance men that David was a new “type 3” screamer impersonating a human. Most of the NEB contingent has been wiped out by another “David” screamer that a patrol unwittingly brought into the base; Becker, Ross, and a black marketeer named Jessica (Rubin) are the only survivors. The group heads to the NEB command center but finds only an empty building and large pools of blood. Locating the mainframe computer, Hendricksson learns that the NEB truce offer was just as false as the Alliance message from Earth. The group retreats to the NEB bunker, pursued by “Davids”. The discovery that the screamers have “evolved” new versions on their own that are indistinguishable from humans, and immune to Alliance tabs, leads to paranoia and distrust. Becker becomes convinced that Ross is a screamer and kills him, only to discover that he was human. The four survivors retreat to the Alliance base, only to find that the “Davids” have gained entrance to that compound as well, with equally devastating results. As dozens of “Davids” pour out of the bunker’s entrance, Hendricksson fires a micro-nuclear missile into the bunker. Jefferson rushes to the aid of Becker, who was apparently injured in the blast, but Becker’s cries of distress are a ruse; he is a “type 2” screamer, and he kills Jefferson. After Hendricksson destroys Becker, only he and Jessica remain.Now quite paranoid, Hendricksson worries that Jessica could be a screamer as well. He slashes her hand, and is relieved to see blood dripping from the wound. They locate an emergency escape shuttle, but it can carry only one person. Hendricksson offers the shuttle to Jessica; but a second “Jessica” arrives, confirming that she is a screamer after all, and even more human-like. Hendricksson resigns himself to death; but to his surprise, Jessica shields him, then sacrifices herself in battle with her lookalike. With her last breath, Jessica confesses her love for Hendricksson. Hendricksson departs for Earth on the escape shuttle with a single souvenir, the teddy bear carried by the original “David”. As the screen fades to black, the bear slowly begins to move on its own.Like most sci-fi films, the most interesting part of the movie is the antagonists which in this case is the screamers. They were initially small machines that would burrow underground, that would shoot out of the ground and slice off body parts from people. They have eventually evolved into much more advanced machines, leading to many tense and creepy scenes. There’s no nudity unless you count a woman’s back as nudity, there isn’t much blood and gore which was a surprise considering the screamers all have blades. What the film has is a constant sense of dread, and we’re left as much in the dark as Weller’s character on who can be trusted.

 

REVIEW: A KILLING AFFAIR

CAST

Peter Weller (Odyssey 5)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
John Glover (Smallville)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)

MBDKIAF EC003WWII era West Virginia. In a rural area, there’s a thoroughly despicable character named Pink Gresham (top character actor Bill Smitrovich), a mill foreman who not only screws over his employees, but cheats on his wife Maggie (Kathy Baker) to boot. Shortly into the story, Maggie finds Pink dead, and is then visited by a stranger, Baston Morris (Peter Weller). Maggie finds herself drawn to Baston, even after he informs her that he’s murdered her husband. The balance of “A Killing Affair” shows how their relationship develops, as she struggles between possible feelings for him and an understandable amount of distrust for the man. Is Baston really on the level with her? He hides out on her homestead while the law searches for him.1184327_full

This marked the directing debut for screenwriter David Saperstein (“Cocoon”), who adapted the novel “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday” by Robert Houston. This viewer didn’t mind so much the fact that it is a pretty sordid story (with some interesting revelations along the way), but overall it lacks any truly intriguing features). It’s got some decent period atmosphere, some mild titillationa draggy pace, and no on screen violence, but what it does have is a sympathetic, appealing performance by Ms. Baker. Weller is passable as the earnest, somewhat enigmatic Morris. Smitrovich is perfectly vile in his brief time on screen. And John Glover is solid, if not utilized to his full potential, as Maggies’ brother who is also the local priest. The film does also have a lovely score by ever reliable John Barry.

 

REVIEW: TOP OF THE WORLD

 

CAST

Peter Weller (Robocop)
Dennis Hopper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2)
Tia Carrere (Wayne’s World)
David Alan Grier (Jumanji)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Mortal Kombat)
Peter Coyote (Sphere)
Martin Kove (The Karate Kid)
Ed Lauter (The Artist)

top-of-the-world_01In Las Vegas for a quicky divorce, a just-paroled ex-cop and his wife wander into the Top of the World Casino, run by the shady Charles Atlas. They win big, right as the casino is being robbed. The police believe their big win was a staged diversion, and the two of them become suspects. Over the course of the evening and next morning, the two attempt to escape to surrounded casino, and to prove their innocence, as well as to save their marriage.3a06eb652967c723cced5d8f718Not a terrible movie, but it’s kind of lacking. I would only recommend you watch it if nothing else better is playing on TV.

REVIEW: THE SIN EATER (aka THE ORDER)

CAST

Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Shannyn Sossamon (Sleepy Hollow)
Benno Furmann (In Darkness)
Mark Addy (Game of Thrones)
Peter Weller (Star Trek Into Darkness)

The film’s premise is that there is another way to heaven than adherence to the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. A secular Sin Eater can remove all taint of sin, no matter how foul, from the soul just before death. The purified soul can then ascend into heaven. The Roman Catholic Church, according to the film, considers this heresy.Heath Ledger plays an unhappy and disillusioned priest, Alex Bernier, a member of a fictitious religious order The Carolingians which specializes in fighting demons and other hell spawn. Father Dominic, the head of the Carolingians, has died in Rome under suspicious circumstances and Alex leaves the United States to investigate. In Rome, Alex visits the morgue and sees strange markings on Dominic’s corpse. After some investigation, he comes across a book that explains the markings as being the sign of a Sin Eater’s work. He heads to the Vatican, where an official tells him that Sin Eaters don’t exist and that Dominic may not be buried on sacred ground because he had been excommunicated for his beliefs. Alex, moving ever farther from his vocation, defies his superiors and secretly reads a holy service over the body and buries Dominic in the Carolingian cemetery (the service takes place off screen but is referred to later).Thomas Garrett, another Carolingian (there seem to have only been a total of three including Dominic), arrives in Rome to help investigate Dominic’s death. Early in the film we meet Mara Williams, an artist Alex once exorcised, who has escaped from a mental hospital and come to Alex at his church in the USA because she has a feeling that something terrible is going to happen to him. The police come looking for her, but Alex lies and denies that he’s seen her and through this exchange we learn that Mara was in the hospital because she had tried to kill Alex during the exorcism. Mara goes to Rome with Alex after promising that she won’t try to kill him again.Cardinal Driscoll (Peter Weller), who is introduced at the beginning of the film and who is tipped to be the next Pope, arrives in Rome from the USA and gives Alex a special dagger. According to a fragment of parchment Alex and Thomas find among Dominic’s books, the dagger is to be plunged into the Sin Eater while reciting a text in Aramaic. Alex and Thomas take these instructions to mean that the dagger and incantation will kill the Sin Eater and they begin hunting for the Sin Eater and the remainder of the parchment instructions. Thomas leads Alex to a nightclub where they are taken to the underground base of operations of a masked man called Chirac, the ‘Black Pope.’ The Black Pope owes a favor to Thomas and Alex asks where to find the Sin Eater. The Black Pope then hangs three people and tells Alex to ask his question of the dying men who can see what the living cannot. One of the dying tells Alex a riddle that leads to a rendezvous with the Sin Eater.On the way out of the Black Pope’s headquarters, demons attack and injure Thomas, but Alex saves him and gets him to a hospital. Alex leaves Thomas in the hospital and meets the Sin Eater, William Eden, at St. Peter’s Cathedral who explains that he has been a Sin Eater for centuries, taking over for an earlier Sin Eater (a Carolingian priest) who ate the sins of Eden’s brother. Eden is very charismatic and talks with Alex about the priest’s desires, and Alex admits he wants Mara. He then goes and presumably tells Mara this, and they make love. Afterward, Alex leaves Mara asleep and goes to Eden, who tells Alex that he is tired and ready to die and asks Alex to take his place. Alex has the dagger with him, but is curious and so doesn’t use it to kill Eden. Instead, he assists Eden with a sin eating ritual. But in the end, Alex refuses Eden’s offer because he has decided to leave the priesthood to be with Mara.Later Alex returns to their lodgings and finds Mara near death, an apparent suicide. In actuality, Eden slit her wrists and left her for Alex to find. Mara is beyond medical help and Alex quickly performs the sin eating ritual so that she can go to heaven. After absorbing Mara’s sins, though, Alex sees that there is no sin of suicide on Mara’s conscience and realizes Eden’s deception. Alex goes after Eden to kill him. The rationale that leads Alex to perform the sin eating ritual instead of giving Mara Roman Catholic Last Rites is that Alex has already made the decision to leave the priesthood to be with Mara and he has broken his vows of obedience and of sexual abstinence. He therefore considers himself ineligible to offer Mara Last Rites.Meanwhile, the injured Thomas is out of the hospital and goes to see the Black Pope who reveals himself to be Cardinal Driscoll. Driscoll shows Thomas the second half of the parchment which instead of being instructions on how to kill a Sin Eater is actually instructions on how to become a Sin Eater. The entirety of Alex’s and Mara’s lives have been a plot among Dominic, Eden and Driscoll to entrap Alex. Eden wants to die, Driscoll wants to be Pope and Dominic wanted the financial resources to pursue arcane knowledge. Driscoll prevents Thomas from leaving to warn Alex.  Alex cannot find Eden and returns to the Black Pope to learn where Eden is. The Black Pope (face hidden) tells Alex again to ask the dying. Alex recognizes that Thomas is the man being hanged, and frees him using a pistol. However, Thomas’s throat is too injured by the noose to tell Alex the truth of the parchment. Alex finds Eden and stabs him with the dagger while reciting the incantation. He quickly realizes what is actually happening but it is too late, Eden’s powers are transferred to Alex, and Eden, happy to be free of his burden of the sins of others, dies. In the mean time, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome crumbles around them.Thomas, who arrives at the scene too late to prevent the transfer, vows he will find a way to save Alex, even if it means killing him. Alex informs the church about Driscoll’s activities and Driscoll is ruined. Driscoll then decides to kill himself and calls on the Sin Eater, now Alex, to remove his sins. Driscoll slits his wrists and when he is near death, Alex tells him that he knows that Eden and Driscoll caused Mara’s death. Alex does not eat Driscoll’s sins but forces them down Driscoll’s throat. Driscoll dies a painful death and presumably goes straight to hell. The Sin Eater William Eden used his power to accumulate wealth. The Sin Eater Alex Bernier decides to act as a power for good, saving only those who deserve it and allowing evildoers to die in sin.This film creates a sense of doom and inevitability that constantly grows with its progression. That is what drew me to keep watching. I am not generally a fan of Religious horror. I shall gladly make an exception for The Sin Eater.

REVIEW: SHADOW HOURS

CAST

Balthazar Getty (Alias)
Peter Weller (Robocop)
Rebeca Gayheart (Dead Like Me)
Peter Greene (The Mask)
Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: DS9)

1

The devil feeds from your weaknesses and enstills good in temptation. “Shadow Hours” definitely understands this, and shows an interesting Lucifer who dwells in the seedy underworld of Los Angelos.  To say the least, I wasn’t blown away by the story’s originality, but director Isaac H. Eaton has some brilliant style tricks to keep it fun and intriguing. He is an adroit director working with a mediocre script, and the results are surprisingly good.

4

Balthazaar Ghetty plays Michael Halloway, a recovering alcoholic who tries to support himself as well as his wife Chloe by working at a seedy gas station on graveyard shift. In this environment, he’s bound to see some interesting things. It seems everyone who comes through has exhausted themselves with something…most likely some sort of sin. They are all running on empty as they scurry through the night. There are wonderful sequences where gas meters rise as different things happen, communicating this theme perfectly.  Anyway, he runs into a mugger and a homeless man (who symbolizes his bottom of the barrel outlook), but most importantly, a writer named Stuart Chappell (played by Peter Weller, in easily one of his best performances). Chappell has a strange fixation on Michael, and he takes care of him, clothing him with nice suits, and giving him tons of money to gamble. From the start, it is obvious this guy’s a little shady, however. He neglects the fact that Michael is recovering on AA and influences him to start drinking again. Soon, he plunges Michael into a truly harrowing underworld of fight clubs, gambling, drugs and sex.

3

In one of the most disturbing scenes of recent memory, they go to a bondage club where people get sadomasochistic pleasure from torture. At first, I was angry that Eaton would use this smut to manipulate his audience into feeling shocked (like how Todd Solondz did in his terrible film “Happiness”). Then I realized, Chappell, a satan figure, is indeed masochistic in that he feeds off his victim’s pain. Little did Michael know as he looked at these twisted acts, that he was being used as a partner to Chappell’s atrocity.  When Michael becomes closer with Chappell, he realizes how much of a lie this man really is. But the perks of being with him are too great, and soon Michael goes too deep into the dark side, hurting Chloe and damaging the new life he forged after leaving AA. I didn’t like how the film ends. It takes an easy (and largely taken) way out, keeping itself on a level of simplicity. I believe Eaton is a genius director, but he sells himself short in “Shadow Hours”.

2

I did like a lot of things in this film. I loved the performances by Getty (who also produced), and more so Peter Weller. He plays Stuart as attractive, fun and seemingly caring, but always dark somewhere deep. I liked how the story was paced and told, but it is lacking in overall freshness.

REVIEW: NAKED LUNCH


CAST

Peter Weller (Robocop)
Judy Davis (Barton Fink)
Ian Holm (Alien)
Julian Sands (Gotham)
Roy Scheider (Jaws)
Monique Mercure (The Red Violin)
Nicholas Campbell (Goon)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Julian Richings (Cube)

William Lee is an exterminator who finds that his wife Joan is stealing his insecticide (pyrethrum) to use as a drug to get high. When Lee is arrested by the police, he begins hallucinating because of “bug powder” exposure. He believes he is a secret agent with two handlers in the forms of a talking insectoid typewriter and an alien “Mugwump”. The bug assigns him the mission of killing Joan. She is allegedly an agent of an organization called Interzone Incorporated. Lee dismisses the bug and its instructions and kills it. He returns home to find Joan having sex with Hank, one of his writer friends. Shortly afterwards, he accidentally kills her while attempting to shoot a drinking glass off her head in imitation of William Tell.

Having inadvertently accomplished his mission, Lee flees to Interzone, a city somewhere in North Africa. He spends his time writing reports for his imaginary handler, and it is these documents which, at the insistence of his literary colleagues who later visit him, eventually become the titular book. Whilst Lee is under the influence of assorted mind-altering substances, his replacement typewriter, a Clark Nova, becomes a talking insect which tells him to find Dr. Benway by seducing Joan Frost, who curiously is a doppelgänger of his dead wife. After coming to the conclusion that Dr. Benway is, in fact, the secret mastermind of a narcotics operation for a drug called “black meat” which is supposedly derived from the guts of giant centipedes, Lee completes his report and flees Interzone to Annexia with Joan Frost.
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Stopped by the Annexian border patrol and instructed to prove that he is a writer as he claims, Lee produces a pen. As this is insufficient proof for passage he inexplicably offers a demonstration of his William Tell routine using a glass atop Joan Frost’s head. He again misses badly and thus re-enacts the earlier killing of his wife. The border guard cheerfully bids him welcome to Annexia. Lee is shown shedding a tear at this bittersweet accomplishment.f4qwmbxvfqvgrrqywxadrnq4aq1If you like Burroughs, see this film. If you like Croneberg, see this film. If you want a simple, pleasant film…stay far away. :Naked Lunch” is a pornographically perverted look at the complexities of drug abuse and the difficulties of the writing process. I don’t use the word pornographically lightly. This is as extreme a movie as I’ve ever seen, especially coming from the Hollywood system. It’s icky, it’s gross, it’s disturbing. It’s also a masterpiece.btx65fh8psl51jangdgyh1uz4j