Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Michael Caine Blogathon Special: The Italian Job (1969)

The Italian Job (1969)
Oakhurst Productions, UK, 1969.
Participating The Marvellous Michael Caine Blogathon event arranged by Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews to celebrate his 85th birthday!
Heist man Charlie Croker (Michael Caine) has just been released from prison. Meanwhile the Italian Mafia has killed his friend who bequeathed an ultimate heist plan to Charlie. The plan is to travel to Turin and rob an armored van using a self-caused traffic jam as a ruse. The funding comes from jailed crime king and patriot Mr. Bridger (Noël Coward) whose love for Queen and Country turns him into a supporter of the plan. After all the heist is a chance to get back at those pesky Italians who have just made an important industrial contract making the British automotive industry suffer!
Michael Caine
Charlie Croker
Noël Coward
Mr. Bridger
The plan requires a participation of different specialists, one of the most memorable being computer specialist Professor Peach who chases big women (appropriately performed by Benny Hill). The plan culminates into the heist and escape with three Mini Coopers speeding through shopping malls, down the stairs and on the roof of a stadium.
Benny Hill
Professor Peach
The Mini Cooper chase is iconic
The Cockney character Michael Caine performs here is a lovable rogue. He's stylish, cool and popular with women. Charlie's girlfriend Lorna (Margaret Blye) is quite liberal in the Swinging Sixties way and even arranges coming out party for Charlie with semi-clad girls. It is hard not to think about showing the character even more virile than James Bond (Caine had turned down the role two years earlier). Charlie even drives Aston Martin that looks similar to Bond's favourite vehicle, being only an older model.
Margaret Blye
Planning the heist
This is a classic heist movie with British tongue-in-cheek style fit in the style of 1960s. Before the iconic final chase the movie is carried by Michael Caine's charm and the comical hijinks of his teammates. The cinematography with Italian cities and mountain roads looks beautiful and there is eye candy for fans of vintage cars. The story is light and comical and even campy, making it never too serious although the Mafia offers a serious threat. Of the actors the most memorable are Caine, Coward and Hill. However many minor characters are left quite underdeveloped and some of the plotlines are never resolved, leaving the story literally hanging in the air. Sequel was planned but it was was never made.

Rating: Very good

Starring: Michael Caine, Noël Coward, Benny Hill, Raf Vallone, Tony Beckley, Rossano Brazzi, Margaret Blye, Irene Handl, John Le Mesurier, Fred Emney, John Clive, Graham Payn, Michael Standing, Stanley Caine, Barry Cox, Harry Baird, George Innes, John Forgeham, Robert Powell, Derek Ware, Frank Jarvis, David Salamone, Richard Essome, Mario Valgoi, Renato Romano, Franco Novelli, Robert Rietty, Timothy Bateson, David Kelly, Arnold Diamond, Simon Dee, Alastair Hunter, Lana Gatto, John Morris, John Louis Mansi
Director: Peter Collinson 

Monday, December 25, 2017

Movie Review: Ernest Saves Christmas

Ernest Saves Christmas
Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners III, Emshell Producers, USA, 1988.
Ernest Saves Christmas
Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) is thinking about retirement and is searching for a successor. Children's TV show host Joseph Carruthers (Oliver Clark) is the candidate. Goofy taxi-driver Ernest P. Worrell (Jim Varney) gives Santa a ride, but Santa's bag is left in the taxi. Meanwhile Santa's reindeer gets stuck in the customs, much bedazzling storage workers Chuck (Gailard Sartain) and Bobby (Bill Byrge). Ernest and runaway teen girl Harmony (Noelle Parker) decide to return the sack to the rightful owner.
Jim Varney
Douglas Seale
Noelle Parker
Joe's agent Marty (Robert Lesser) gets Joseph a role in a movie, and arranges Santa's arrest. However the role is in a horror movie that is not something Joe is comfortable with. If Joe doesn't become the next Santa, it could be the last Christmas ever! And can Ernest get the Santa's sleigh from the custom warehouse in time?
Christmas fish
Gailard Sartain and Bill Byrge
Chuck and Bobby
Ernest-comedies are nowadays quite rare but the folks who were kids in 1980s-90s remember these. Before Jim Carrey took the career as America's rubber face, it was Jim Varney whose slapstick hijinks's entertained the audiences and annoyed the critics. So Ernest-movies were stupid but benevolent, and so Ernest's Christmas adventure is a feel-good Season movie with good laughs utilizing Jim Varney's skills. Ernest masquerades himself as a slick bureaucrat, old granny and hillbilly. Ernest visits his never seen onscreen pal Vern, and for some reason starts ripping electric lines from the walls. "Miracle on the 34th Street" variation has Santa bringing Christmas spirit to unbelievers, and returning runaway shoplifter Melody to the right path. Recommended as a bit different family cult Christmas comedy.

Starring: Jim Varney, Douglas Seale, Oliver Clark, Noelle Parker, Gailard Sartain, Billie Bird, Bill Byrge, Robert Lesser, Key Howard, Jack Swanson, Buddy Douglas, Patty Maloney, Beecher Martin, Barry Brazell, George Kaplan, Bill Welter, Joe Candelora, Danny Dillon, Lindsey Alley, Phran Gauci, Bill Cordell, Larry Francer, Jackie Welch, Daniel Butler, Antonio Fabrizio, Bob Norris, Carmen J. Alexander, Miriam P. Saunders, Cyndi Vicino, Tom Nowicki, Michael O. Smith, Jesse Stone, Angelique Walker, Zachary Bowden, Donna Phillip Miller, Paul Darby, Cynthia Ergenbright, Bob Barnes, Mike Hutchinson, Douglas Brush, D. Christian Gottshall, Ray Russell, Brett Cipes, Jon Freda, Cindy Haroutunian, Rosa Nevin, Jennifer Peña
Director: John R. Cherry III

Friday, December 15, 2017

Movie Review: Zootopia

Zootopia a.k.a Zootropolis
Walt Disney Pictures, USA, 2016.
In a distant future evolution has allowed herbivores and carnivores to live peacefully together although prejudices still exists. Bunny named Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) has a dream. She wants do leave country-life behind to become a big city cop. However small animals are discriminated against in the police force. Chief Bogo (Idris Elba) thinks that small animals can't be real cops so Judy finds herself writing parking tickets.
Chief Bogo
But there is a mystery to solve. Several animals have gone missing, and Judy decides to solve the case even without official support. Only Assistant Mayor Bellwether's (Jenny Slate) support helps Judy to continue the investigations. Judy teams up with a small-time con-artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) who knows the streets. Like Judy, Nick has a misunderstood but he has chosen to be a rascal. The unlikely duo finds a common cause as behind the missings there is a sinister conspiracy that threatens the balance of the whole city.
Piggy has a crime to report
Nick, Bellwether and Judy
Judy's and Nick's adventures are fun to watch, it is a buddy cop comedy with trendy neo-noir and caper film tones. The moral of the story is that the first appearences may be deceiving, and the person behind may be totally different from the expectations. The world is detailed with funny visual jokes, and some references to pop culture and the city is divided to different habitats, with suburbs for actic animals or small rodents. The duo meets also some shady characters from the criminal underworld so there are funny "Godfather" and "Breaking Bad" references.

As a funny joke, there is a scoundrel selling bootleg Disney movies. I would watch Pig Hero 6.

Rating: Very good

Voice actors: Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, Shakira, Raymond S. Persi, Della Saba, Maurice LaMarche, Phil Johnston, Fuschia!, John DiMaggio, Katie Lowes, Gita Reddy, Jesse Corti, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister, Josh Dallas, Leah Latham, Rich Moore, Kath Soucie, Peter Mansbridge, Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Mark Rhino Smith, Josie Trinidad, John Lavelle, Kristen Bell, Evelyn Wilson Bresee, Hewitt Bush, Jill Cordes, Madeleine Curry, Terri Douglas, Melissa Goodwin Shepherd, Zach King, Dave Kohut, Jeremy Milton, Pace Paulsen, Fabienne Rawley, Brad Simonsen, Claire K. Smith, Jackson Stein, David A. Thibodeau, John Wheeler, Hannah G. Williams, Vassos Alexander, Ricardo Boechat, David Campbell, Koura Kazumasa, Nicholas Guest
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Recommendations by Engageya