REVIEW: SHARK TALE

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Robert De Niro (Joy)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Angelina Jolie (Salt)
Michael Imperioli (Goodfellas)
Vincent Pastore (Revolver)
Peter Falk (The Princess Bride)

In Reef City, an underachieving bluestreak cleaner wrasse named Oscar fantasizes about being rich and famous while making his way to work as a tongue scrubber at the local Whale Wash, a job in which he is following in his father’s footsteps. Soon after arriving he is called to the office of his boss, a pufferfish named Sykes, to discuss the fact that he owes “five thousand clams” and has to pay it back by the next day. After explaining this to his angelfish best friend Angie, she offers him a chance to pay back the money by pawning a pink pearl that was a gift from her grandmother. Oscar brings the money to the race track to meet Sykes, but becomes distracted by his dreams of grandeur. Upon hearing that the race is rigged, he places it all on a long-shot bet by the name of “Lucky Day”. Such a million dollar bet is noticed nearby by a beautiful lionfish named Lola, who flagrantly seduces an excited Oscar, but Oscar is disappointed when she leaves upon learning that he is a whale washer. Sykes is furious that Oscar bet the money but nonetheless agrees to see how the race turns out. Moments before their betted “horse” crosses the finish line, he trips and falls on the line.Meanwhile, on another side of the ocean in the wreck of the R.M.S Titanic, a family of criminally-inclined great white sharks has a problem with one of their sons, Lenny, who is a vegetarian and refuses to act the part of a killer, wishing not to have to live up to those expectations. His crime lord father, Don Edward Lino, orders Lenny’s more savage older brother Frankie to tutor Lenny in the family business. After the two sharks depart their father, Frankie sees Oscar being electrocuted by Sykes’ two jellyfish enforcers Ernie and Bernie and sends Lenny off to attack. The jellyfish spot Lenny and flee, leaving Oscar alone with him. Instead of attacking Oscar, Lenny frees him, upsetting Frankie who becomes annoyed and charges at Oscar. However, Frankie is killed when an anchor falls on him. Lenny flees, overcome with grief and guilt. As no other witnesses were present and Oscar was seen near the body, everyone comes to believe that he killed Frankie, an opportunity that Oscar decides to exploit for fame.Oscar returns to the city with a new title of the Sharkslayer. Sykes becomes his manager, Lola becomes his girlfriend, and Oscar moves to the “top of the reef” to live in luxury. At the same time, after Frankie’s funeral, Don Lino has everyone out looking for Lenny. When several sharks get close to Oscar’s neighborhood, Oscar’s neighbors expect him to drive them away so he goes and runs into Lenny. Since he does not wish to return home, Lenny forces Oscar to let him stay with him since he is aware of Oscar’s lie. Soon, Angie finds out about the lie as well and threatens to tell everyone. Oscar and Lenny convince her to keep quiet, though she is heartbroken by Oscar’s dishonesty. Oscar’s situation is not helped by the shallowed Lola, who indicates to him that her interest in him extends only as far as he remains famous. With Don Lino planning revenge, Oscar and Lenny stage an event in which Lenny pretends to terrorize the town and Oscar must defeat him throwing him into the depths of the ocean. Though this further cements Oscar as the Sharkslayer, it greatly angers Don Lino. Oscar leaves Lola for Angie after Angie reveals that she had feelings for Oscar even before he became famous, but this leaves the rebuffed Lola determined to get revengeOscar buys some Valentine’s Day gifts for Angie, but before he can present them to her, he finds that Don Lino has kidnapped Angie to force a sit-down. Lenny comes along now disguised as a dolphin named Sebastian. They arrive at the meeting to find Lola next to Don Lino, while Angie is tied up and gagged and presented to Don Lino on a plate who prepares to eat her if Oscar does not comply. Lenny grabs Angie into his mouth, but later regurgitates her. When Don Lino realizes that “Sebastian” is really Lenny, he chases Oscar through the reef. Oscar heads for the Whale Wash and ends up trapping both sharks. He is given an ovation by the other fish, but Oscar confesses that he is not a “Sharkslayer” and reveals the truth behind Frankie’s death. He then tells Don Lino that everyone likes Lenny for who he is and strongly urges him not to prejudge people before he knows them properly and make the mistakes he made in prejudging his wealth. Realizing that Oscar is right, Don Lino apologizes to Lenny and reconciles with him while making peace with Oscar, stating that he and his gang bear him no ill will. Oscar forsakes all the wealth he has acquired, makes peace with the sharks, becomes co-manager of the Whale Wash (now frequented by sharks, killer whales, and swordfish), and starts dating Angie and enjoys a happy, honest life. During the credits, Lola tries to find Oscar to make amends, but all she finds is a hermit crab named Crazy Joe, one of Oscar’s friends.Although this is a cartoon movie, it suggests it is for children, however, it is most definatly for all ages. I really enjoyed the humour of this film. Will Smith & Robert De Niro as the main characters was an excellent choice for voice overs for their respective characters. Great Film.

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REVIEW: COLD MOUNTAIN

 

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Bewitched)
Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Jude Law (Spy)
Natalie Portman (Thor)
Eileen Atkins (Robin Hood)
Brendan Gleeson (Troy)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Donald Sutherland (The Italian Job)
Ray Winstone (Snow White and The Huntsman)
Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands)
James Gammon (The Iron Giant)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Charlie Hunnam (Pacific Rim)
Jena Malone (Sucker Punch)
Lucas Black (Fast & Furious 7)
Taryn Manning (The Breed)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins)
Richard Brake (Hannibal Rising)

Cold Mountain Screen

When North Carolina secedes from the Union on May 20, 1861, the young men of a rural, provincial, North Carolina backwater known only as Cold Mountain hurry to enlist in the Confederate military. Among them is W.P. Inman (Jude Law), a carpenter who has fallen in love with Ada (Nicole Kidman), a minister´s daughter, and finds their whirlwind courtship interrupted by the American Civil War.

Cold Mountain 550
Three years later, Inman finds himself in the trenches of Petersburg, Virginia, during the Battle of the Crater. Union soldiers tunneling beneath Confederate fortifications detonate over 300 kegs of gunpowder, in a futile attempt to undermine the position prior to their assault. As the ill-fated attack begins, Oakley (Lucas Black) an old acquaintance of Inman’s from Cold Mountain, is impaled on a bayonet and mortally wounded. Inman rescues him from the fighting and takes him to a field hospital. Later that day Oakley dies in the hospital, with Inman and Stobrod Thewes (Brendan Gleeson) beside him. The next night, Inman, along with his Cherokee friend Swimmer (Jay Tavare), are sent to flush out surviving Union troops trapped behind their lines. During the raid, a burst of friendly fire kills Swimmer and seriously injures Inman. As Inman lies in the hospital near death, he has a letter from Ada read to him in which she pleads with him to stop fighting, stop marching, and come back to her. Inman recovers, and—with the war drawing ever closer to an inevitable Confederate defeat—decides to go home to Cold Mountain.

On his journey he meets the corrupt preacher Reverend Veasey (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who is about to drown his pregnant slave lover. Inman stops Veasey, and leaves him tied up to face the town’s justice. Exiled from his parish, Veasey later rejoins Inman on his journey. They help a young man named Junior (Giovanni Ribisi) butcher his cow, and join him and his family for dinner. Junior leaves the house after the feast, the women in Junior’s family seduce Veasey, and Junior’s wife, Lila, tries to seduce Inman. Junior returns home with the Confederate Home Guard, and both Inman and Veasey are arrested and led away with other deserters. During a subsequent skirmish with Union cavalry, Veasey is killed and Inman left for dead. An elderly hermit living in the woods (Eileen Atkins) finds him and nurses him back to health.
Cold Mountain
Inman later meets a grieving young widow named Sara (Natalie Portman), who is raising her infant child Ethan alone; he stays the night at her cabin. The next morning, a party of Union foragers arrive demanding food. Sara orders Inman away for his protection, but he hides only a few feet away from the house. The leader, Nym (Richard Brake), and his lieutenant harass Sara, steal her livestock, and leave Ethan in the cold, though the third soldier (Cillian Murphy) attempts to keep the baby warm. Nym tries to rape Sara but both he and the lieutenant are killed by Inman. Inman forces the kind forager to surrender and lets him go, but as the latter flees, an enraged Sara fatally shoots him. In parallel with Inman’s adventures, the film follows Ada’s wartime experiences. Ada is a city gentlewoman who only recently moved to the rural farm named Black Cove. She met Inman on her first day at Cold Mountain and had a brief, chaste romance with him the night before he left for the army. Shortly after Inman leaves, Ada’s father (Donald Sutherland) dies, leaving her alone on the farm with no money, food, or livelihood, and with little prospect for help, as the young, able-bodied men are off at war.
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Ada is completely inept at working the farm, having been raised as a southern lady. She manages to survive thanks to the kindness of her neighbors, one of whom eventually sends Ruby Thewes (Renée Zellweger) to her. Ruby is a young woman who has lived a hard-scrabble life and is very adept at the tasks needed to run the farm. Ruby lives at the farm with Ada, and together they take the farm from a state of disaster to working order. Meanwhile, Ada writes constant letters to Inman in hopes of meeting him again and renewing their romance. The two women form a close friendship and become each other’s confidantes. They also are friends with the Swangers (James Gammon and Kathy Baker), who live down the road from Ada’s farm Black Cove. It is at the Swangers’ well that Ada “sees” a vision of Inman coming back to her in the snow, surrounded by crows.

During the war, Ada and Ruby, and other members of their community, have several tense encounters with men of the Home Guard. This branch of the Home Guard is led by Captain Teague (Ray Winstone), whose grandfather once owned much of Cold Mountain. He and his deputies hunt deserters, partially with the goal of Teague’s seizing their land. Teague also lusts after Ada. Although the purpose of the Home Guard was to protect the South and its citizen population from the North, they have become violent vigilantes who hunt and often kill deserters from the Confederate Army, and terrorize citizens who they believe are housing or helping the deserters. This includes the Swangers’ sons, who, by torturing their mother, they coax out of hiding and kill. Esco Swanger—the family patriarch—is also killed protecting his sons.

Ruby’s estranged father Stobrod, a Confederate deserter and a violin player, arrives, reconciles with her, and convinces her to make a coat for his intellectually challenged banjo player Pangle (Ethan Suplee). Ruby finds herself drawn to mandolin player Georgia (Jack White). While camping, Stobrod, Pangle, and Georgia are cornered by the Home Guardsmen led by Teague. Pangle unintentionally reveals the band as the deserters Teague is seeking. Georgia is hidden a few feet away and witnesses the shooting of Pangle and Stobrod. He escapes to Black Cove Farm and informs Ruby and Ada, who rush to the campsite to find Pangle dead and Stobrod badly injured. Ada helps Ruby remove a bullet from Strobrod’s back, and they decide to take shelter in some cabins in the woods to avoid Teague and his men.

At this point the two story lines come together. Inman, half-dead from starvation, finally reaches Cold Mountain and is almost killed by Ada before she recognizes him. They later consummate their love and spend the night together.  The Home Guardsmen, however, soon find them, having captured and tortured Georgia to learn that the women are harboring deserters. In the ensuing gunfight Inman ambushes and kills Teague and most of his band, but Teague’s violent young lieutenant Bosie (Charlie Hunnam), escapes up the mountain. Cornering him near the top, Inman urges him to surrender peacefully, but Bosie draws, forcing him to fire; both men are mortally wounded. Ada goes after Inman, and finds him just as she saw him in her vision at the well… coming back to her in the snow surrounded by crows. He dies in her arms. The film ends several years later with Ada, Ruby and their families celebrating Easter. Ruby has married Georgia, and the two have a young daughter and an infant child. It is also revealed that Ada’s night with Inman has produced a child, Grace Inman.

 

A very intense and sometimes moving movie experience with a brutal battle sequence, and indeed many further violent incidents both at Cold Mountain itself and indeed on ‘Inman’s’ journey. The film harbours many fine performances from it’s star-studded cast-list. Well worth a re-visit or indeed a first viewing.

REVIEW: JERRY MAGUIRE

 

CAST

Tom Cruise (Top Gun)
Cuba Gooding Jr. (Boat Trip)
Renee Zellweger (Cinderella Man)
Kelly Preston (Twins)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Jay Mohr (Small Soldiers)
Bonnie Hunt (Cars)
Regina King (The Big Bang Theory)
Jonathan Lipnicki (Stuart Little)
Hynden Walch (The Batman)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Drake Bell (Superhero Movie)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
Reagan Gomez-Preston (The Cleveland Show)
Lucy Liu (Charlies Angels)
Justian Vail (Kiss The Girls)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla Sky)
Emily Procter (CSI: Miami)
Beau Bridges (Stargate: Atlantis)

The title character is played by Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible), a sports agent in a high-powered firm who continues to support and advocate for his client, sometimes at all physical costs to the athlete. In a moment of revelation, he thinks that the firm can do better, be more human, as it were, and one night writes and publishes a manifesto of sorts that illustrates how to do this. Of course, the firm’s main motivation is to be profitable and not nice, so he is unceremoniously dumped, and he is unable to retain his clients either, except for one, a middle-of-the-pack football player named Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr., A Few Good Men).

He also has Dorothy (Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain), a secretary who read Jerry’s memo, enjoyed it and leaves the firm with him. From there, each of the male characters seem to have separate revelations from their work; Rod’s willingness to take a hit or two quietly elevates his status within the NFL, and Jerry’s personal adaptation into a relationship, where he had previously feared commitment, but was almost addicted to companionship that was far from serious.Jerry Maguire is still watchable after so many years, along with the charm and wit that Crowe has been known for delivering for over two decades now.

REVIEW: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 1,2, 3 & 4

CAST

Marilyn Burns (The Big Rip-Off)
Allen Danziger (Eggshells)
Paul A. Partain (Race With The Devil)
William Vail (Too Young To Die?)
Teri McMinn (Butcher Boys)
Edwin Neal (JFK)
Gunnar Hansen (Mosquito)
Jim Siedow (The Windsplitter)

The movie has a  functional storyline, one that has since became the staple for slasher movies; a group of teenagers get lost, stumble across evil and get stalked and killed. But Chain Saw isn’t about storyline and plot; it’s about creating an experience, a sensory overload. The cast and crew work tirelessly to create scenes and images that are raw and powerful and ultimately, against all expectations, beautiful. Leatherface’s travesty of motherly domesticity as he prepares dinner, his child-like dance in the dawn light, the open door at the gas station, the van making it’s slow turn off the road towards the derelict and ivy clad Hardesty residence are all images that burn themselves into your consciousness after just a single viewing.

The cinematography is exceptional. Watching the Special Edition, you’d never know that this was shot on 16mm in poor light. The picture quality is outstanding, the colors rich and vibrant, the blacks inky and menacing. The brilliant azure skies, the jade green of the grass, the bright red generator, the searing sunlight and stifling shadows.

Though not always likable, the actors are always believable. Performances are universally startling, but special mention has to go to Marilyn Burns. Though she has little more to work with than the clichéd screaming heroine, she works it with remarkable conviction. It was a traumatic shoot, and it shows. Few actresses have so effectively conveyed mind-numbing terror.

The soundtrack is exceptional and deserves more recognition. It is a great testimony to the experimentation and risk taking attitude of the era that all melody is destroyed under an industrial ambient soundscape of metallic clangs, scrapes and screams, evoking the atmosphere of the local slaughterhouse and the Family’s state of mind. Terrifying.

Despite the complete lack of gore or extreme physical violence, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre continues to horrify and holds up the countless, shot-on-video, slasher clones of subsequent years for the puerile crap that they truly are. Whether by accident or design, this one is a classic.

CAST

Dennis Hopper (Speed)
Caroline Williams (Halloween II)
Jim Siedow (The Windsplitter)
Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness)
Bill Johnson (The Caretakers)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is one of the most misunderstood movies of all time. Even many horror fans, of the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre or slashers in general, hated it and dismissed it. Now after a decade or so after its release, TCM 2 is now a cult movie.

There are so many things to point out why TCM 2 is a stand-out. The first and most important thing to point out is that back in the 1980s, horror films were reduced to simple slashers. TCM 2 is totally different than the plethora of slashers that many horror fans expected to see, which is one reason why many horror fans didn’t get it. The body count is extremely low in TCM 2 compared to the Friday the 13th or Elm Street flicks. But that doesn’t mean it’s not violent. No, it’s VERY violent. But the violence in TCM 2 is more engrossing, shocking and even at times funny, and in turn less acceptable than the unreal violence found in many slasher films. Because of the amount of violence and violent imagery, films critics trashed TCM 2, pointing out how the first film didn’t rely on gore and violence to scare the audience.

I love Texas Chainsaw Massacre as much as I love TCM 2. I understand what the critics were saying. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the point of the violence in TCM 2. While TCM is a sweat inducing TERRIFYING horror film in the first order, TCM 2 is a “GRAND GUIGNOL HORROR” horror film in the first order. In TCM 2, Hooper creates a vast canvas of baroque imagery, where we watch the insane and gory story unfold before our incredulous eyes. I’m amazed that critics missed the whole difference between TCM and TCM 2. It’s odd that critics will rave about Peter Greenaway’s “THE COOK, THE THIEF, HIS WIFE & HER LOVER” which is a twisted drama in the the Grand Guignol style, but didn’t see TCM 2 in the same way. It’s probably due to the fact that TCM 2 is a sequel to a quasi-legendary horror film and everyone expected the sequel to be the same as the first movie.

I give credit to everyone involved with TCM 2. They actually TRIED to do something different: different from the equally great TCM, different from the increasingly boring horror films of the 80s. And in my eye, they’ve succeeded. There are so many memorable scenes in TCM 2, some of which are the most amazing horror moments ever put on screen (when Leatherface tries to put the scalped face on Stretch, the scene when Stretch finds her friend sans face, etc). And there are so many quotable lines too. It’s a shame few people “got” TCM 2 back then.  For anyone who’s game, watch TCM 2. You’ll be squealing in horror and laughing at the insanity of it all in equal amounts.

CAST

Kate Hodge (She-Wolf of London)
Ken Foree (Dawn of The Dead)
R.A. Mihailoff (Hatchet II)
William Butler (Gingerdead Man 2 & 3)
Viggo Mortensen (Lord of The Rings)
Tom Everett (Air Force One

It should be noted that the 3rd film ignores the second one. The opening narration says it all. It recovers how poor Sally Hardesty went into catatonia after her encounter with Leatherface and died shortly thereafter. The police then arrested a man, D.E. Sawyer, who used the Leatherface M.O., he died in the gas chamber in 1981, though I thought in Texas, executions were carried out by lethal injection. Hopefully, “Leatherface” is no more, but if he is, he’s still at large and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre was only the beginning…

Two people, Michelle and Scott, from Los Angeles on their way to Florida, were passing through Texas. They pass by an operation involving paramedics digging up bodies buried all over an area. The bodies were mangled and just looked, well, awful! They drive on and stop at a filling station, run by a crazy man, Alfredo. He scares Michelle, snaps a photograph of her reaction and charges $5.00 for the picture. He even peeps on her taking a whizz. Luckily, a young man, Tex, comes to her rescue. Alfredo didn’t like this so he grabbed his shotgun. Before they go, Tex showed Michelle and Scott a better road to take, because it wasn’t a good idea wandering around back roads in an unfamiliar area. They pulled out just as Alfredo returned with his gun.

Naturally, they soon had a blow out. In the dark, Scott struggled to change the tire. Right then, Leatherface, or Junior, popped up, caulked his chain saw to life and tried to get them! But they get away. They don’t get too far because a bounty hunter, Benny, is driving on the wrong side of the road and the two go off a cliff. Michelle and Scott survive, luckily. Benny doesn’t believe their story about a man with a chain saw. Before long, Michelle and Scott are kidnapped by the bad guys and are taken to their house. Tex was part of the family. There was also Mama, Grandpa, Papa a little girl Michelle saw upstairs, and Leatherface! The family was planning on having Michelle and Scott for dinner. They actually intended to eat them!

Papa presents Leatherface with a gift: a new chain saw. A big one! “The Saw is Family” was engraved on the blade and when you gunned the engine, it sounded like the world was coming to an end! Pretty soon, it was Benny to the rescue! He took out Mama, battled Papa and Tex.  Leatherface is defeated. Benny and Michelle escape. But is Leatherface really dead? It isn’t as scary as the first or as violent as the second. Horror fans must see Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III.

CAST

Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire)
Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar)
Robert Jacks (Slacker)
Tonie Perensky (Varsity Blues)
Joe Stevens (True Grit)

When two couples leave the prom early and get lost in the woods, then into a car accident, they soon find themselves mixed up with the deadly Sawyer family, still crazy after all these years. The story soon focuses on Jenny (Renee Zellweger), who I guess is the smartest of the troubled teens, as she is tormented and tortured by the psychotic Vilmer (Matthew McConaughey, who sports an electronic leg brace here), his masochist girlfriend, dim-witted W.E., and the legendary Leatherface, who is all dolled-up for this one. Much of it plays the same old “stumbled into a house of crazies” game that has lost some of its scare power over the years, and losing the cannibal aspect doesn’t help, but a new conspiracy twist adds a certain something that, in my opinion, makes it interesting.

The first thing one notices about this film is that it stars Renee Zellweger and Matthew McConaughey, and if you’re fans of theirs, that’s definitely reason enough to check this out. Made in 1994, this is one of their earlier films (it’s also known as “Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). In general, the acting isn’t that impressive (some is pretty awful). I’m not a McConaughey fan, but I do have to give him credit. He gives this role his all, unless he’s just playing himself… Zellweger has good and bad moments, but she clearly stands out among the group of kids who get lost in the woods with her.

In fact, you’re practically cheering for the other three to get killed, which is one of the problems with this flick. Like with a lot of horror films now, it’s hard to really get scared when you don’t feel for the victims. They’re either unlikable and you start rooting for the villain, or they’re too good looking or recognizable, so you can’t forget you’re watching a movie. In addition, there’s the lack of the cannibal thing,  the whole thing is just a tad campy when compared to the gritty realism of the original.  This disturbed little flick is a fun ride of a horror film. Okay, it’s not as scary as the others, but it’s decent entertainment.