Saturday, April 29, 2017

Movie Review: Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle a.k.a The Eagle
Hurwitz Creative, Marv Films, Saville Productions, Studio Babelsberg, UK, Germany, USA, 2016. 
Eddie the Eagle

Since young boy Eddie Edwards has wanted to by Olympic champion. He is clumsy and not athlete-material but he has will to practice. His father (Keith Allen) just think that he is wasting his time but mom (Jo Hartley) is supportive. As the summer sports are too challenging he finds a realistic real goal: getting to Winter Olympics!
Taron Egerton
Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards
In 1987 Eddie (Taron Egerton) is selected to Winter Olympic downhill ski team only to get the rug pulled from under him by sports moguls who do not think that Eddie is mediasexy enough. He decides to try once more this time as ski jumper. He travels to Germany to train but after many painful attempts he figures out that he needs a coach. Eccentric drunkard former ski jumper Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) reluctantly agrees to help him. Also cougarish but friendly bar keeper Petra (Iris Berben) offers him a job in the bar to earn his living. Getting into the Calgary Winter Olympics becomes Eddie's obsession and despite difficulties he manages to outdo himself.
Iris Berben
Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman
Eddie & Bronson
"Eddie the Eagle" is a feel-good film about an unconventional sports star. Sympathetic underdog story follows the formula of sporting movies with that difference that Eddie never won any major competitions. But he had guts to jump in the Winter Olympics with only amateur level experience and he managed to prove that the British still can have a place in the ski jumping scene. Hero of his own life, Eddie encounters and overcomes all kinds of hurdles that try to prevent him from living his dream. Although he never won any contests and was dubbed 'The Worst Ski Jumper of All Time', he resurrected the British ski jumping and became favourite of audiences. And few have guts to jump from the large hills anyways. What is nice is that although Eddie is a comical figure, he takes his goals seriously and works hart to achieve them.

Like most biography films, much of the events are dramatized. Hugh Jackman's character is inspired by the coaches Eddie had. The ski jumping is close to the Finnish heart, as it is one of the winter sports events that we used to be great at. For a Finnish watcher Eddie's story offers some interesting details. Finnish ski jumper legend & media person Matti Nykänen is played by Swedish actor Edvin Endre, and in the film he Eddie's idol but also snobbish compared to the real colourful person whose later life has often been closer to Bronson Peary's. Well, there is another film "Matti" that shows a bit different side of Matti Nykänen's life. But during the Calgary Winter Olympics when Matti Nykänen was on the top of his career, he was idolized and that is nicely shown in the movie.
Taron Egerton and Edvin Endre
Eddie and Matti
Another thing is that Eddie was and is still quite a cult figure in Finland. He even recorded couple of songs (sung in broken Finnish) written by Finnish protest singer legend Irwin Goodman when he visited Finland.

Great thing in the movie is also the old school sounding synthesizer score of the film.

Rating: Very good

Starring: Tom Costello, Jo Hartley, Keith Allen, Dickon Tolson, Jack Costello, Taron Egerton, Mark Benton, Tim McInnerny, Edvin Endre, Mads Sjøgård Pettersen, Marc Benjamin, Iris Berben, Rune Temte, Hugh Jackman, Carlton Bunce, Joachim Raaf, Sean Jackson, Daniel Ings, Jim Broadbent, Matt Rippy, Graham Fletcher-Cook, Ania Sowinski, Paul Reynolds, Christopher Walken
Director: Dexter Fletcher

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Movie Review: Belle & Sebastian (2013)

Belle & Sebastian (Belle et Sébastien)
Radar Films, Epithète Films, Gaumont, M6 Films, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, Orange Cinéma Séries, W9, Centre National de la Cinématographie, France, 2013. 

The film is based on book and 1965 TV-series by Cécile Aubry. The series is well-known even for those who haven't seen it because of the theme song "L'Oiseau." The movie takes the artistic freedom to place the events during World War II.

Sebastian (Félix Bossuet) and his grandfather César (Tchéky Karyo) live in the French Alps. They are hunting a beast that is killing sheep. It is World War II so the village must beware German soldiers. Village's Doctor Guillaume (Dimitri Storoge) is a resistance fighter who helps Jews escape to Switzerland. Sebastian befriends the big Pyrenean Mountain Dog Belle who is reputed to be the Beast, but is she really? 
Félix Bossuet
Tchéky Karyo
The villagers and the Germans hunt the dog, and Sebastian must protect her. Belle proves to be a heroic dog and together Belle and Sebastian have a great adventure. The main story is the friendship of boy and his dog but there are some other interesting characters that have hidden storylines. Village's baker Angelina (Margaux Chatelier) is also Sebastian's friend who may or may not have a romance with Guillaume. German Officer Peter (Andreas Pietschmann) show that the first impressions can be deceiving. And who were Sebastian's parents? There is a sequel "Belle & Sebastian: The Adventure Continues" that may answer some of questions.
Margaux Chatelier
Dimitri Storoge
Dr. Guillaume
Andreas Pietschmann
Lt. Peter
It is beautifully filmed and a little bit melancholy family film. The Alpine sceneries are gorgeous and It would have worked without the World War II setting, but it works also as it is. The acting is good, young boy Félix Bossuet's Sebastian feels natural and he is even a bit mischievous. Star of numerous French movies Tchéky Karyo has the role of old grumpy grandpa who makes moonshine but takes care of Sebastian. Oddly, although Tchéky Karyo has been prominent actor in French films and he has appeared in big Hollywood films ("Bad Boys", "GoldenEye") and some of the cult action films of the 1990s ("La Femme Nikita", "Dobermann") he seems to have become famous for the great audience outside France only after appearing in TV-series "The Missing" (2014-). Well better late than never. The dog star is adorable and the dog scenes have innocent nostalgia of the classic dog stories. For fans of traditional dog adventure movies (Lassie, Rin Tin Tin) this is great viewing.

Mehdi El Glaoui who played Sebastian in the original series appears as one of the villagers named Andre. He also sung the theme of the original series.

Rating: Good

Starring: Félix Bossuet, Tchéky Karyo, Margaux Chatelier, Dimitri Storoge, Andreas Pietschmann, Urbain Cancelier, Mehdi El Glaoui, Paloma Palma, Karine Adrover, Loïc Varraut, Jan Oliver Schroeder, Tom Sommerlatte, Andrée Damant, Pasquale D'Inca, Eric Soubelet, Michel Pellé, Jean Blanc, Matthieu Warter, Jean-Hubert Vasina, Pascal Bison, Michel Claraz, Daniel Gainetdinoff, Célestin Personnaz, Jean-Michel Personnaz, Pierre Ferréol, Gilbert Suiffet, Yvann Lebedeff, Lonni Charrier, Gaspard Gogué Meunier, Emma Fogarolo
Director: Nicolas Vanier

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Here's Jack Blogathon Special: Man Trouble

Man Trouble
Penta Entertainment, American Filmworks, Budding Grove, Cecchi Gori Pictures, USA, Italy, 1992.
This review is part of Here's Jack Blogathon hosted by Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews to celebrate Jack Nicholson's 80th birthday. "Man Trouble" stars the birthday hero in a romantic comedy that was produced by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio "Bunga Bunga" Berlusconi himself!
Jack Nicholson as Harry Bliss
Harry Bliss (Jack Nicholson) is a slick guard dog trainer. Harry is hiding from his debtors and living under false name. He is a ladies' man so his marriage with Adele 'Iwo Jima' Bliss (Lauren Tom) is in crisis. There is a serial killer roaming around Hollywood and when a stalker starts to stalk opera singer Joan Spruance (Ellen Barkin), she hires Harry for help. Harry starts immediately flirting with the customer and Joan does not mind at all. To make things more complicated there is a sideplot involving Joan's sister Andy (Beverly D'Angelo) and a scandalous manuscript about Andy's gangster ex-husband Red Layls (Harry Dean Stanton).
Ellen Barkin as Joan
Viveka Davis as Harry's secretary
Harry Dean Stanton as Red Layls
Sad to say but "Man Trouble" is a messy flop. Every great actor has some films that can be considered as their unimportant minor works and "Man Trouble" counts as one. The screwball comedy fails as the jokes are not funny enough or miss their mark completely. The main pair's chemistry does not feel right either and the thriller sideplots (the stalker plot and the gangster plot) do not really make sense or matter. The actors can't be blamed but the problem is with the script that never catches the pace and craziness of the comedy classics. Jack Nicholson tries to carry the film for a while but even he can't hold together the shaggy dog story and finally he just seems to give up. And so in 1992 Jack earned two Golden Raspberry nominations as worst actor: for "Hoffa" (undeservingly in my opinion) and "Man Trouble."

Maybe fans of Jack should just pretend that this movie doesn't exist.
Beverly D'Angelo as Joan's sister Andy
Michael McKean as Joan's friend Eddy
Rating: Bad

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Ellen Barkin, Harry Dean Stanton, Beverly D'Angelo, Michael McKean, Saul Rubinek, Viveka Davis, Veronica Cartwright, David Clennon, John Kapelos, Lauren Tom, Paul Mazursky, Gary Graham, Betty Carvalho, Mark J. Goodman, Robin Greer, Sandy Ignon, Rustam Branaman, Lenny Citrano,Christopher Garr, Rob LaBelle, Raymond Cruz, Ed Kerrigan, Daniel J. Goojvin, Thomas Griep, June Christopher, Matt Ingersoll, Rebecca Broussard, Mary-Robin Redd, John D. Russo, Anthony Frederick, Max Delgado, Jeff Record, Mary Pat Gleason, Gordon Reinhart, David St. James, Susan Bugg, Virgil Frye, Ken Thorley, Gerrielani Miyazaki, Jennifer Yang, Suzanne Lodge, Suzanne Q. Burdeau, Ginger LaBrie, Charles A. Tamburro, Michael Tamburro, Jacqueline M. Allen, Marti C. Pia, Stephen W. Anderson, Gloria Grace Prosper, Samela A. Beasom, Ellen Rabiner, Bernice Brightbill, Paula Rasmussen, Martha L. Cowen, Mary Heller Rawcliffe, Michelle A. Fournier, Sally Stevens, Linda Harmon, Susie Stevens-Logan, Ron Hicklin, Diane O. Thomas, Marie T. Hodgson, Maurita L. Thornburgh, Laurel L. James, Kerry E. Walsh, Darlene Koldenhoven, Kari Windingstad, Cathy A. Larsen, Jorga Caye, Alan Doshna
Director: Bob Rafelson

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Movie Review: The Clown: Payday

The Clown: Payday (Der Clown - Tag der Vergeltung)
Action Concept Film- und Stuntproduktion, Germany, 2005. 

Der Clown was a action-packed German TV-series near the turn of the Millennium. The movie continues the story four years after the series ended. 

Max Zander (Sven Martinek) was a cop who became vigilante hero the Clown when criminals killed his friend. He had friends Dobbs (Thomas Anzenhofer) and Claudia (Diana Frank) to help him in the fight against crime. After the series Claudia was murdered and the Clown has gone underground working as a mall guard. 
Sven Martinek
Max Zander
Der Clown
Claudia's reporter sister Leah (Eva Habermann) got a hot tip about armored van robbery. She is taken hostage, so Max must stop glooming (that's enough for the character development) and go back to action with his pilot-friend Dobbs. But it's a trap as supercriminal Zorbek (Götz Otto) wants to eliminate the Clown before making the robbery of the century. Also old nemesis Commissioner Führmann (Andreas Schmidt-Schaller) wants to arrest the Clown for obstructing police work, causing general mayhem and jaywalking.
Eva Habermann
Xenia Seeberg and Götz Otto
Mona (Xenia Seeberg) and Zorbek
Big budget Euro action film uses tricks learnt from Hollywood but maintaining the style of German krimi series. Comic book action is combined with joking remarks, it is all silly but fun check out your brain entertainment. The plot is simple, heroes against the bad guys. This is a B-movie with A-movie budget and the stunts have taken most of the money. A decent amount of vehicles and airplanes are wrecked in award winning stunts with big explosions made with real effects. The Clown's team always sticks together (BFFs!) contrasting Zorbek's team who are always backstabbing their own team-members. Sven Martinek has rugged Teutonic charisma with Thomas Anzenhofer as his trusty sidekick and of the bad guys Xenia Seeberg (Sven's ex-girlfriend) steals the show as deadly vamp.

Synthpop song from the movie: Wolfsheim: Kein Zurück.

Rating: Good

Starring: Sven Martinek, Thomas Anzenhofer, Eva Habermann, Götz Otto, Andreas Schmidt-Schaller, Xaver Hutter, Xenia Seeberg, Dirk Heinrichs, Martin Brambach, Patrice Bouédibéla, Horst Sachtleben, Oscar Ortega Sánchez, Bernhard Hoëcker, Thomas Born, Claudia Mehnert, Stefan Gebelhoff, Frank-Leo Schröder, Crisjan Zöllner, Stefan Richter, André Hartkopf, Stefan Weinert, Karoline Heinrich, Christian Beuter, Diana Frank, Paul Henning Gödderz, Pat Murphy
Directors: Sebastian Vigg, Roland Leyer

Monday, April 17, 2017

Movie Review: Jesus of Nazareth

Jesus of Nazareth
ITC Films, RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana, Italy, UK, 1977.

This year's Easter Special Biblical Epic is 6-hour miniseries made in 1977.

Part 1
Josef (Yorgo Voyagis) and Mary (Olivia Hussey) are betrothed. At night Mary gets God's message to go see her cousin Elizabeth (Marina Berti) who has gotten baby John who will become John the Baptist. Maria is now also pregnant and will get God's child. Joseph hesitates to marry Maria now, as that would be against the law of Israel but God says that everything will be alright.
The Roman Empire orders a census so Joseph and Mary must travel to Bethlehem. Herod (Peter Ustinov) fears that Messiah will take his throne. Jesus is born and the family has to escape Herod's assassins.

Part 2
John the Baptist (Michael York) preaches about coming of Messiah and baptizes Jesus (Robert Powell). Herod Antipas (Christopher Plummer) captures John. Jesus gathers the disciples and starts modernizing the rigid Jewish law system. Salome (Isabel Mestre), manipulated by her mother Herodias (Valentina Cortese), demands to have John the Baptist's head. 
Michael York
John the Baptist
Isabel Mestre
Isabel Mestre as Salome
Part 3
Jesus continues performing miracles. He gets two new followers: Judas Iskariot (Ian McShane) and Mary Magdalene (Anne Bancroft). Political intrigue around Jesus continues as the rebels and the rabbis would like to use him for their own purposes. Jesus goes to Jerusalem and teaches about loving thy neighbours. Jesus curses those who would like to deny Heaven from common people and those who are twisting religion to serve their own purposes.
Robert Powell
Ian McShane
Judas Iskariot
Part 4
The Jewish priests decide fate of Jesus. Despite dissenting opinions they give Jesus to Romans and Jesus is crucified.
Ian Holm as Zerah
The script was written by Anthony Burgess (known for "Clockwork Orange"), which probably gave the political intrigue more spotlight than in usual Jesus films. The political tensions in Jerusalem at that time were increasing and the Roman rulers and Jewish priests wanted to avoid conflict. So the man who preached for peace became a scapecoat for the unrest.

The cast is strong and production values high. Music was composed by composer of epic soundtracks Maurice Jarre. The Biblical epics are always perfect chance for film buffs to play Spot the Star. Hey, it has Ian McShane as Judas Iskariot. Peter Ustinov as Herod the Great, Rod Steiger as Pontius Pilate, Anthony Quinn as Caiaphas and Laurence Olivier as Nicodemus. The Three Magi have Fernando Rey as Caspar, Donald Pleasence as Melchior, James Earl Jones as Balthazar. And many more. Robert Powell's Jesus has dreamer's eyes and solemn charisma. There is almost Ingmar Bergman style mystical humanism.
Ernest Borgnine
Ernest Borgnine as Centurion
James Earl Jones
James Earl Jones as Balthazar
Although artistically it may not be as strong as "Last Temptation of Christ" or "Passion" as a traditional film depiction of Jesus it is one of the best. Although available also in abridged cinematic version, the miniseries version is the version to see. The setback of that version is that it may feel overwhelmingly long (4x91 min), so it is best watched in parts. The beginning is slow but improves after the first part and really shines in the last two parts.

Rating: Very good

Starring: Robert Powell, Anne Bancroft, Ernest Borgnine, James Farentino, Ian McShane, Christopher Plummer, Olivia Hussey, Tony Vogel, John Duttine, Michael York, Jonathan Muller, Claudia Cardinale, Valentina Cortese, Sergio Nicolai, James Mason, Laurence Olivier, Anthony Quinn, Rod Steiger, John Eastham, Ian Holm, Ian Bannen, Keith Skinner, Keith Washington, David Garfield, Robert Rietty, Nikki Van der Zyl, James Earl Jones, Stacy Keach, Tony Lo Bianco, Donald Pleasence, Fernando Rey, Ralph Richardson, Peter Ustinov, Cyril Cusack, Yorgo Voyagis, Marina Berti, Maria Carta, Robert Beatty, Nancy Nevinson, Christopher Reich, Lorenzo Monet, Murray Salem, Steve Gardner, Cyril Shaps, John Tordoff, Isabel Mestres, Renato Montalbano, Bruce Lidington, Mimmo Crao, Oliver Smith, Martin Benson, Regina Bianchi, Robert Brown, Lee Montague, Renato Rascel, Oliver Tobias, Norman Bowler, John Phillips, Ken Jones, Renato Terra, Roy Holder, Jonathan Adams, Michael Cronin, Forbes Collins, Michael Haughey, Derek Godfrey, Robert Davey, George Camiller, Francis De Wolff, Antonello Campodifiori, Tim Pearce, Paul Curran, Mark Eden, Bruno Barnabe, Simon MacCorkindale, Lionel Guyett, Peter Harlowe, Carl Forgione, Donald Sumpter, Pino Colizzi, Norman Eshley, Yorgos Vogiatzis, Darien Angadi, Immad Cohen, Stefan Kalipha, Harold Bennett, Andrew Manson
Director: Franco Zeffirelli

Friday, April 14, 2017

Movie Review: Captain America (1990)

Captain America (1990)
21st Century Film Corporation, Marvel Enterprises, Jadran Film, USA, Yugoslavia, 1990.

It is pre-WWII Italy. Nazi scientists test Super Soldier Serum on abducted Italian boy who becomes supervillain Red Skull (Scott Paulin). Red Skull's past was actually tragic as his family was murdered and then he was turned into a monster. USA needs super soldiers too to win the war. Steve Rogers (Matt Salinger) is crippled but wants to serve his country. He volunteers for the secret program. Defected scientist Dr. Maria Vaselli (Carla Cassola) turns him into Captain America but Nazi spy kills her before he can create other Super Soldiers. Captain avenges this immediately, electrocuted Nazi on the menu!
Matt Salinger
Steve Rogers
Matt Salinger
Captain America
Captain America goes to destroy Nazi missile base but Red Skull is waiting. Captain America is frozen solid for 50 years. After thawing, he has difficulties in adjusting to the modern society. He goes to meet his girlfriend Bernie (Kim Gillingham) who is now old and has a family. Why does it feel so familiar? Because of "Forever Young" made two years later. Damn you J.J. Abrams for ripping off Albert Pyun!
Scott Paulin
Red Skull
New President of the U.S.A. Tom Kimball (Ronny Cox) has a strict environmental policy. Evil group of industrialists and Red Skull kidnap him. But wait, didn't Ronny Cox play an evil industrialist in "Robocop"? Seeing him here as a treehugger is funny. During the years Cap'n Murica was missing Reddie has been responsible for everything evil that has happened in the U.S.A. Reddie sends his daughter Valentina de Santis (Francesca Neri) and her female assassins to kill Captain. Steve and Bernie's daughter Sharon (Kim Gillingham), who conveniently looks like young version of her mother, go to save the President before Red Skull brainwashes him. The President may get a chance to finally meet his childhood's idol, Captain America.
Ronny Cox
The President
Kim Gillingham
Francesca Neri
Valentina de Santis
Fans of B-movies know that Albert Pyun's films are at best cheesy fun ("Sword and the Sorcerer", "Cyborg", "Nemesis") and at worst terrible ("Urban Menace", "Wrecking Crew"). It is futile to compare this to modern superhero epics or even the best superhero adventures of the 1980-90s. As a B-movie it is cheesy but still fairly fun. The beginning has some okay super hero action, then the story gets sillier as it proceeds and before it gets to Italy it really drops the ball. The action scenes in dark warehouses are hard to watch if you can't see anything. At least in Italy (or Eastern Europe that is made to look like Italy) it is sunny and bright and the action gets back on the tracks.

Captain America here has a strange tendency for grand theft auto. Also before being frozen Captain is adorably clumsy and can barely tie his own shoelaces. The film was stuck into production hell and it went direct to video after sitting on the shelf two years unreleased. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus were the producers so the action is similar to their Cannon productions, being surprisingly violent for a superhero film. Budget limits hit the production but somehow Pyun manages to do some watchable superhero action scenes and Captain's shield is a cool weapon. The story has themes that could have been interesting with better production (such as the "Forever Young" arc). It is not a good movie but despite the numerous flaws it is one of Albert Pyun's better movies.

There a grand piano on top of Red Skull's castle so he can play and admire the scenery. Sentimental guy clearly.

Rating: Good (on Pyun scale) orSo bad it is good

Starring: Matt Salinger, Ronny Cox, Ned Beatty, Darren McGavin, Michael Nouri, Scott Paulin, Kim Gillingham, Melinda Dillon, Bill Mumy, Francesca Neri, Carla Cassola, Massimilio Massimi, Wayde Preston, Norbert Weisser, Garette Ratliff Henson, Bernarda Oman, Tonko Lonza, Galiano Pahor, Milan Kristofic, Antun Nalis, Mario Kovac, Zoran Pokupec, Catherine Farrell, Mia Begovic, Matko Raguz, Donald Standen, Dragana Zigic, Judranka Katusa, Raffaele Buranelli, Robert Egon, Igor Serdar, Gary Epper, Sonja Gregus, Rene Medvesek, Demeter Bitenc, Relja Basic, Velimir Chytil, Drago Klobucar, Gordan Piculjan, Frank Papia, Thomas Beatty, Jon Beatty, Ann Bell, Jann Carl, Gerda Shepherd, Beth Ann Bowen, Christopher Whitney, Mustafa Nadarevic, Edita Lipovsek, Ljubica Dujmovic, Aldo Galleazzi, Ljubomir Strgacic, Slavko Sestak, Petar Tomac, Bruno Grdadolnik, Giulio Marini, Fay Finver, Frank Finver, Peter Mulrean, Trek Potter, Sarah Wasson, Scott Del Amo, Robert Reitmeier, John S. Reynolds, Lee Westenhofer, Mike Johnson, Jason Brooks, Robert Hammond, Sven Medvesek
Director: Albert Pyun

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