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Commentaires écrits par
Robert Badgley (St Thomas,Ontario,Canada)

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3.0 étoiles sur 5 A film that could have been better than it was., March 29 2015
This review is from: Collateral (DVD)
Collateral(released Aug/04)stars,among others,Tom Cruise,Jamie Foxx,Jada Pinkett Smith, Mark Ruffalo,Peter Berg and Bruce McGill.I just didn't know what to think of this film when it ended.It was a bit on the long side and it seemed the sum of its parts just didn't quite gel with its whole.
The story opens as Cruise is at LAX;a Cruise with slightly unkempt pepper coloured hair and beard,wearing a rather bland looking grey suit.He bumps into none other than Jason Statham(in an uncredited cameo),and both simultaneously drop their respective leather bags they carry.Cruise picks up Statham's,and visa versa,and they part.
Enter Foxx,an L.A. cab driver.He has driven for about a dozen years with a personal self dangling carrot;a dream of running a limo service.He picks up Smith who is an attorney working on an important case,and drops her off at her destination.The two strike a chord with each other and she leaves her card with him.At this juncture,in walks Cruise into Foxx's life,and cab.Cruise tells Foxx he has multiple places to go and folks to see and wants to retain his services for an entire evening.Foxx balks at first,but the $700 he will make changes his mind.
As Foxx sits in his cab at the first stop waiting for Cruise's return, a body comes crashing down upon his cab.Cruise appears soon after and both put the body in the cab trunk.Foxx wants out, but Cruise won't let him go.It soon is obvious Cruise is a hitman of sorts and bit by bit his story is slowly revealed to Foxx as the night wears on.The next stop is a crooked attorney who Cruise takes out.The next is the owner of a jazz club,who is iced as the three sit and talk at a table.
Foxx's mother is hospitalized and after repeated calls to his boss,Foxx is forced to make a trip to see her.Cruise tags along and he and Foxx's mother get along quite well.As Cruise is talking Foxx grabs his valice and runs with it.After a chase to a walkway over the highway Foxx tosses the case onto the highway below destroying Cruise's itinerary,computer and money.This forces Cruise to force Foxx into entering a nightclub owned by the very folks who have hired Cruise(having Foxx pretend he is Cruise),in order to re-obtain Cruise's list of hits.There are some pretty tense moments with a p'od crime boss,but Foxx gets the list on a flash drive and returns to the cab.
During all this action the L.A.police have slowly but surely become involved,with all the dead bodies piling up at the morgue.Ruffalo,one of the cops,meets up with an FBI sting operation going down at the last club Cruise and Foxx were at.They I.D. the cab and Foxx,and are now tailing them.At the next point of call Foxx is forced to join Cruise in a nightclub while the hit goes down.However the police/FBI are there also and an all out firefight ensues,with the mark taken care of but Ruffalo also going down in a hail of bullets.
Foxx is despondent over the dead cop, and while taking Cruise to the next point of call he becomes unglued.He deliberately crashes his cab.Cruise manages to escape the scene just as a cop shows up to assist.However the cop discovers the dead body in the trunk and places Foxx under arrest.As he is about to be cuffed Foxx gleans from the rear seat that Cruise's next victim is none other than Smith.Foxx immediately overpowers the cop,steals his gun and grabs a cell phone from a pedestrian.Cruise has already reached the office building Smith is in and Foxx is eventually able to get through and warn her.However Cruise kills all building power and phone lines,and hunts Smith down.Just as he is about to shoot her in walks Foxx,who temporarily disables Cruise.The two escape on to a subway car,with Cruise in pursuit.For a time they are able to keep their distance, but eventually Cruise has them cornered in the last car.Mustering all his courage Foxx,with his gun,steps out into the aisle and starts shooting through the car door at Cruise,who is shooting back.When the smoke clears Foxx is miraculously still standing while Cruise is hit,and hit badly.He slowly takes a seat as Foxx and Smith re enter the car and sit across from him.Cruise asks if anyone will notice a dead man on the subway(a reference to an earlier convo Foxx and Cruise had in the cab).As the subway reaches the next stop,Foxx and Smith get off and walk away,leaving Cruise in the car,dead.Fade to black.
It is about a two hour trip from beginning to end,the film that is,and as I said before,it does not travel quickly.There are a lot of details the director wants to impart such as the "relationship" between the hitman and his driver,the police side of the story, which includes not only local cops but the FBI,and little things thrown in such as Foxx's hospitalized mother.I think what made me indecisive about this film one way or another,were exactly that,all the details.I'm a less is more kind of guy,and I think a bit of judicious editing in the script wouldn't have done any harm at all.
Technically speaking the film is in a 2:35:1 w/s a/r and is clear and crisp.This is a TWO disc set.the first disc is the film,of course.The second has all the extras,which includes commentary,featurettes on the making of the film, night,a deleted scene and much more.
All in all the film has a good and solid cast,but the film wanders as much as Foxx's cab and I believe it diluted the impact of the film too much.With more editing in the film and script,this could have been one heck of a picture...,i.e. BETTER.3-3 1/2 stars.

Horrible Bosses / Méchants patrons (Bilingual)
Horrible Bosses / Méchants patrons (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Jason Bateman
Prix : CDN$ 4.88
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2.0 étoiles sur 5 Are you kidding?....No you aren't,are you?, March 28 2015
Horrible Bosses(released June/11)stars,among others,Jason Bateman,Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell,Kevin Spacey,Donald Sutherland and Jamie Foxx.This is a juvenile film chock full of the type of low gutter humour/aka "the easy laugh", that Hollywood churns out these days.It's an inspired cast in a film that goes no where.
The story is simple.On the one hand we have the "good guys": Bateman,Day and Sudeikas VS "the bad guys",the titled Horrible Bosses: Aniston,Farrell and Spacey.Bateman's nightmare is Spacey who makes him work long hours for nothing,denying him a promotion that he deserves.Day is up against Aniston who wants to bed Day at every turn and is sexually harassing him constantly.Finally we have Sudeikas whose late bosse's son Farrell has unfortunately taken over a company that he has no business running.Over a nightcap at a local bar the trio's discussion turns to getting rid of their bosses.It eventually pans into an actual plan,of sorts.Day first arranges a meeting with a "wet professional",which he believes is just a code name for hitman.No.As it turns out, the guy that arrives at a hotel room the three rent out, pees on his clients for a living.Ooops.Next they secure the services of Foxx who plays one Dean "MF"Jones(I am not allowed to tell you what MF stands for,you'll have to guess...and it won't be that hard!).He takes $5,000 of their hard earned dollars for simple advice on how to carry out their plan.Out of all the suggestions Jones comes up with,the one that has each guy knocking off their friends bosses,appeals to them the most.
They start reconnoitering their respective bosses homes,getting clues and ideas as to their vulnerabilities.While checking out Spacey's home one of them drops a cell phone belonging to Farrell that they took earlier.Spacey later finds it and storms to Farrell's home and shoots him dead.Bateman, who just happens to have been there anyways, witnesses it and the three later confront Spacey at his home during a surprise birthday party.Spacey is not the least bit intimidated and in fact threatens their lives.Sudeikis who had a recorder on him and was supposed to be present when Spacey actually confessed, is no where around(he is busy making out with Spacey's wife).They all leave and Spacey pursues them.He finally corners them and just before the cops arrive he shoots himself to make it look like it was they who shot him and confessed to the murder of Farrell.The cops arrive and it looks like Spacey's scheme will work until an on board security program(the equivalent of On-Star) in Sudeikas's car alerts them all to the actual conversation that took place,nailing Spacey.
The film comes to an end as Bateman finally gets his promotion,Sudeikas retains his job but with a newer and nicer boss and Day finally gets Aniston.He has a friend come in as a patient and gets Foxx to record the whole thing on film from outside.
If you want to see Aniston like you have never seen her before and Farrell as a hopped up druggie,all wrapped up in a blanket of swearing and sexually explicit language which gives a bad name to the words "humour" and "innuendo",then this baby is for you.Fortunately, there are those still with some semblance of taste and to those I strongly recommend you avoid this film like the Bubonic plague.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:77:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include only deleted scenes.
All in all a BIG disappointment.With a cast like this I was expecting better,funnier and with better taste.Ahh,Hollywood,you have to love their choices.Although,as of this writing there is a sequel to this film out there in theatres.So,hey,what do I know?

Unholy Three [Import]
Unholy Three [Import]
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Should it have really been called The Unholy Four?, March 22 2015
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This review is from: Unholy Three [Import] (DVD)
The Unholy Three(released Aug/25)stars,among others,Lon Chaney,Mae Busch,Matt Moore,Victor McLaglen,and Harry Earles.This is a remarkable film with a coterie of actors that really gelled on the screen,all in the hands of legendary director Todd Browning.It's a real potboiler and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the last frame.
The story finds us at a circus.Chaney is a ventriloquist,and he has three other "pals":McLaglen who is the circus strong man,Earles who is the midget and Busch who plays Chaney's girl.These four have been in the circus for some time and Busch and Chaney have had a side racket going wherein while the patrons stand looking at him entertain,she is busy pickpocketing them.One day Chaney hatches a more profitable scheme on McLaglen and Earles that he says can't miss.McLaglen comes up with the name of The Unholy Three.Chaney explains he will run a pet store and will dress up as an old lady,McLaglen will be an assistant,Earles will be a baby and Busch will come in as his grand daughter.They will use it as a front in order to rob the homes of those who buy product from their store.And this is exactly what they do.To assist in sales they hire Moore to help.
Moore and Busch get along like a house on fire,and in fact Busch slowly but surely falls for Moore big time,and visa versa.One Christmas Eve as the three are ready to roll out and rob a home they recently cased,Moore and Busch come in with a Christmas tree and presents.With no other choice Chaney is forced to assume his character while his impatient colleagues cannot wait and go do the job themselves.The next morning the newspapers are awash with the news of the murder of a local citizen,while his three year old remains in critical condition.While McLaglen and Earles gloat over their deed,Chaney is beside himself.This is not what he had in mind when he came up with the idea in the first place.He also emphasizes that that is why he never armed any of them.
In short order the police come calling and start asking questions.Just by luck the cops are a little suspicious about Moore because of his lapse of memory concerning the person that delivered the deceased's parrot(it was him!).Chaney tries to think of a way out of the mess.The other two come up with a plan to put some of their stash in Moore's room and get him blamed.Chaney temporarily nixes that.To complicate things Busch's feelings towards Moore come to the fore and she and Chaney argue.Moore has finally professed his love for her outright and she has reciprocated hers for him.The next day the police search Moore's room and find the stolen loot and take him away.When Busch finds out she returns to Chaney and tells him that she is going to come clean about the whole affair to get Moore sprung.Chaney will have none of it,grabs Busch and just as the cops return to the store, the four of them are stealing away out the back door.Chaney also brings along a large ape from the store,for insurance purposes.
They escape to a cabin in the woods where Busch implores Chaney to come clean in exchange for her staying with him.It becomes heated and Chaney strikes her on the face.Busch says she will even endure that to get Moore released.This gets to Chaney's heart of hearts.He offs to the city to attend the trial.Meanwhile McLaglen and Earle have become suspicious of Chaney and his motives.The two have already brought up splitting the goods and taking off.Now McLaglen has his own idea when he propositions Busch to come away with him and split the good with him.Earle overhearing this,releases the ape on McLaglen and runs into an adjoining room and locks the door.McLaglen slams the door open and reinforces it with the bed.He strangles Earle to death but the ape enters and kills him.Busch escapes and flags down a passing car.
In the courtroom Chaney is listening to the evidence and Moore is better than dead.He finally cannot take it any more and just as the jury is being dismissed he stands up and asks the judge if he may confess.It is allowed and the bottom line is both Moore AND Chaney go free.
As the film winds down Chaney is back at his ventriloquist job at the circus and Busch comes up from behind.The two exchange pleasantries as Busch says"Well,I'm here".Chaney now resigned to the fact that she will never be truly happy unless she is with Moore,releases her from her word to stay with him.Busch tearfully says her goodbyes and returns to Moore.A crowd gathers around Chaney and a barker sidles up to him on the stand.It's back to work and his second chance at a better life.
This is a powerful Chaney performance and his co stars support him all the way.Chaney's make up changes blend seamlessly into the story, while in other pictures sometimes the make up took more center stage.For those that only know Mae Busch from her countless appearances in Laurel and Hardy movies, you will be surprised at what a good actress she was.This film could really have been called the Unholy Four because she becomes as much a part of the gang as the original three.There are many unforgettable scenes but one of the strongest has to be the one where Busch and Chaney stand talking in a glen away from the cabin and he strikes her.We see Chaney's hand quickly swipe,then a cut to Busch's marked left cheek.Her teared stained eyes melt Chaney's anger and we see it turn Chaney's heart completely around,though he keeps his feelings to himself.
Technically speaking the film is full screen and is generally quite clear.However,the print shows a lot of wear and defects throughout, but is no worse than many others I have seen of this time period.Warners of course with all of these DVD-R releases of late does nothing at all to improve the quality of the print.While those of you in the U.S.are getting this DVD at a pretty good price,we in Canada are paying twice the amount as you.Is it worth it? Definitely no.But for those who MUST have it,you are forewarned.There are,as usual for these releases,no extras.
All in all one of the best Chaney's ever filmed.And considering his output that is some feat.It is a grand story and one that will have you on the edge of your seats throughout.It grabs you right off the bat and never lets go.I give the film a five star rating but would only give Warner's the raspberry for releasing this and other classics as is.

Penalty [Import]
Penalty [Import]
DVD ~ Charles Clary
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5.0 étoiles sur 5 Get your Chaney on!, March 21 2015
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This review is from: Penalty [Import] (DVD)
The Penalty(released Aug/20) stars,among others,Lon Chaney,Charles Clary,Doris Pawn, and James Mason.While the film is well rooted in its 1920s time period and some of its dialogue/prose a little over the top,by our standards,the film is still powerful and it is mainly due to Chaney's great performance.The Penalty put Chaney on the map and deservedly so.
The story finds Chaney's younger self/character in bed.He has been in a terrible accident on the street and he has a contusion on the back of his head and a young inexperienced doctor has just amputated his legs just above the knee.A consulting doctor also on the scene tells the young doctor he operated in haste and should not have removed the boys legs.When the boys grieving parents arrive the doctors circle the wagons,to coin a phrase,to protect the mistake.However the young Chaney has overheard the doctors talking and tries through his grief to tell his parents the truth.The doctors assuage the parents by telling them he is just delusional because of the operation he has just undergone.
Fade out and fast forward.Chaney is now grown up and on his own in San Fransisco.His father kicked him out when he was 15 because of his deformity and now he has risen to become the kingpin of the SF underworld.However revenge has always been in his heart of hearts.When the daughter of the now older surgeon(who amputated his legs) puts an ad in the paper for a model to pose for a sculpture,Chaney leaps at the chance.
Alongside this story runs a parallel one and it has to do with the cops.They have put an undercover policewoman inside Chaney's close circle.They want to know exactly what Chaney is up to.While Chaney goes for poses at the artist's apartment,she snoops around.One day she discovers that the fireplace in Chaney's lodgings hides an entrance to an underground lair.Among the many things it has is an arsenal of guns and an operating room.Any information she gets she relays to a cop outside the room window, who takes it back to the station.One day the cop who is returning the note gets killed by one of Chaney's henchmen, who notifies Chaney of what has happened and hands over the note,upon his return.
Chaney summons the policewoman to his parlour where he sits down to play the piano,with her assistance at the pedals below.He intends to kill her but can't because of the wonderful music both create together.The next day Chaney summons a friend of his who deals with illegal aliens.Chaney reveals that he plans to arm each and every one of his friend's immigrants and create a widespread ruse to lure all the military and cops to the outside of the city.While it is left unguarded,Chaney and his men will ransack and loot the inner city of its treasures.His friend calls him crazy and leaves.
Meanwhile the undercover police woman is outed by Chaney.But she has fallen hard for Chaney and actually is relieved the plan to take him down has been revealed.Chaney's plot to ingratiate himself with the daughter of the hated surgeon has worked almost flawlessly.That is until Chaney proclaims his love for her.She is taken aback and he has to beat a hasty retreat,psychologically.He leaves,cursing his luck.Back home he puts the start of his plan into action.He lures the doctors assistant( and boyfriend of the daughter) to his place under false pretenses.Once there he won't let the man go,for he wants his legs.He then calls daughter's father and does the same to him.By now the doctor knows who Chaney is and Chaney insist the doctor operate.He wants the assistant's legs grafted onto his.After a string of objections, the doctor eventually relents to the surgery.We know the doctor has a plan up his sleeve,and it is soon revealed.We see a groggy Chaney waking up after the operation,but his legs remain the same.Remember that contusion? The doctor has operated on that and corrected any damage it has done.This has been what has caused Chaney's personality change over the years and what drew him into his life of darkness.Chaney is now a new man as the undercover cop sits by his bed.Chaney and the doctor vow to help each other into a bright new future.
Chaney's old cronies and underlings however are having a hard time with the new man they used to call their boss.They gather together and vow to take him down.As Chaney and his new bride(the cop) sit together at the piano two shots ring out, and Chaney is fatally struck by both.He dies in his loved one's arms,never to get a chance at redemption.
The film is chock full of pre-code scenes like nudity,drug use and prostitution.It is at times a raw look at the underworld crime scene and it isn't pretty.The title cards at times are a little too flourid for modern tastes at times,but Chaney's performance is what really makes this film.There are no camera tricks and any kind of S/FX were extremely limited in those days anyways.No,Chaney plays it straight as he walks,climbs and claws his way along the floor and up wall sides.It is an utterly astonishing, but at the same time, marvellous thing to watch.His obvious character/make up aside,Chaney was one heck of an actor,which comes through brilliantly here.This would be Chaney's breakthrough performance and it is a doozy.
Technically speaking the film is in full screen mode and is clear and crisp.Also along for the ride,KINO has added a host of extras.It has Chaney's July/14 one reeler The Sun's Rays,the only surviving footage of The Miracle Man,a small featurette by Chaney author Michael Blake on his make up kit and costumes,a small essay on the film,photo gallery and much more.
All in all a must have for all Chaney/silent film fans.While very much a /20s film it is also intelligently done and well acted.Chaney is the star and in his breakout role he steals every scene,and is mesmerizing as Blizzard the underworld king pin,with stumps for legs.

Waller;Fats This Joint Is Jump
Waller;Fats This Joint Is Jump
DVD ~ Fats Waller
Prix : CDN$ 22.99
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Fast-lite!, March 4 2015
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This DVD documentary about the jazz pianist with no peer,Thomas "Fats"Waller,I would say you could call "Fats-Lite".One is LONG overdue,but if you are expecting an in depth look at the man,his music,his career,his influences,you won't find it here.It's a nice refresher course for those Waller vets,but on the whole this one is better geared for those just learning about the man.There are more than a few folks interviewed but even though they post their names, one doesn't have a clue as to what relation they are to Fats,let alone who they are.The clarity of the DVD oft times leaves a LOT to be desired.It looks like it was copied from a so-so VHS tape.There are also no chapter selections at all.
What it DOES offer are some nice little seen movie/soundie clips of Fats doing his ever lovin' thing.Interviewed in the main is Maurice,Fat's son.It's amazing how much he looks like his dad.The documentary does have a slight linear flow to it,but not enough for me.52 minutes flies by,and just as you really get into it,Maurice is talking about his dad passing away on a train.The documentary then fades out/credits roll with a live recording of Fats singing.
The DVD is a region free disc so it will play on any player worldwide.The playing surface is blue tinged,such as those you get with VOD's(video on demand).
In conclusion this DVD is a great "Fats-101 "course for those just learning about him.The Waller vets will find it a bit on the light side.But since there is little to none out there regarding this great musician(and I do not use"great" lightly),any Fats fan will want to pick this up for their collection.

An Affair to Remember: 50th Anniversary Edition (Bilingual) [Import]
An Affair to Remember: 50th Anniversary Edition (Bilingual) [Import]
DVD ~ Cary Grant
Prix : CDN$ 25.15
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 A wonderful romantic film!, March 1 2015
An Affair to Remember(July/57)stars,among others,Cary Grant,Deborah Kerr and Richard Denning.This film is a wonderful,bitter sweet one,full of romance and the charm only Cary Grant could project.
The story involves Grant as a high flying playboy.He is on an ocean voyage headed for France.On the ship also is Kerr who is engaged.The two strike up an innocent conversation.Kerr knows Cary's rep but is having nothing to do with it.Eventually however his charm and charisma start to break through her wall.She becomes intrigued enough at one point to tag along with him when they reach France.Cary tells her it is to go ashore and visit his grandmother.She doesn't believe a word.Well it turns out to be true and Kerr spends what she terms is the best day of her life,with she and the grandmother hitting it off remarkably well.
The two return to the boat and by this time Kerr's defenses are down to almost nothing.However, they have a tete a' tete,and Kerr decides they must try and remain aloof at least for the passengers sake,even though both are now head over heels in love.Before they're half way home a ships photographer has snapped a few "compromising" pictures of them and has started selling them to other passengers.After this they leave their cares behind them and act normally.What have they got to lose?
Once back in New York the two vow to meet in six months atop the Empire State Building,on July 1.Cary vows,in that time,to get honest work and start making a real living.To this end,being an ex-painter,he decides to start his craft up again.Meanwhile Kerr has broken the news to her boyfriend about she and Cary,and while taking it hard,remains friends and supportive of her.She continues her life and Cary's painting start to sell slowly but surely.
The magical date both have been waiting for comes and Cary is atop the building awaiting his love's arrival.Kerr takes a cab but gets stuck in traffic.Impatient she jumps out of the cab and runs towards her destination.However she gets struck down by a car and is paralyzed from the waist down.Cary waits until late at night for his love who will never arrive.Dejected he finally leaves during a thunderstorm.
Kerr ends up in the hospital for weeks and when finally released gets a position at a local parish helping teach the local youngsters in singing.Wheelchair bound,she doesn't want Cary to know anything about her accident until she can walk again and meet him on a "normal"level.
Months go by and inevitably the two meet at a ballet as Cary is leaving;the first time since they last parted.She is seated so he won't know of her condition.The two say their polite hello's and part.Kerr's ex boyfriend has accompanied her and he wants to tell Cary on her behalf but she won't have it.
More time passes and it is Christmas.Who should knock on her apartment door but Cary.He has stumbled upon her address and phone number by accident.Cary you can tell is hurt, but he couches his words in subtle sarcasm,making like HE is the one who should apologize because HE didn't show up on the date they said they would.Kerr quickly gets his drift and she becomes very guarded in what she says.As he about to depart he tells her of a painting that he recently gave away( a portrait of her)to someone who couldn't afford it and in....his words drift off.He was going to say wheelchair, but the wheels in his mind are turning and he goes into the next room and there is the painting.It instantly becomes clear to Cary what has gone on.He returns to her and asks all the whys he needs to before they embrace,never to part.fade to black.
I found myself literally yelling at the screen at Cary near the end telling him to not leave,and to Kerr telling her to come clean about her illness.Such is the power of this film to draw you in.Leo McCarey(Laurel and Hardy's old director)is in fine form in this film and deftly directs the two through this romantic affair.It is nice how Kerr is at first wise to Cary's advances and how she rebuffs him,but eventually the circumstances overwhelm her and she can't fight what she feels any longer.Cary of course is always the gentleman,backing off at just the right time and coming back only at Kerr's behest.Also the scenes with Cary's grandmother in France were done especially well.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras abound in this 50th anniversary edition including commentary,the trailer,news footage of the premiere,and several featurettes and interviews.This is a two disc set.
All in all a fabulous film,full of romance and tears.As soon as the ship is sailing you are hooked.Kerr and Grant do a fabulous turn together and both are totally believable in their parts.4 1/2 stars.

Birdman (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
Birdman (Bilingual) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Michael Keaton
Prix : CDN$ 24.99
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2.0 étoiles sur 5 How does a poor film like this rate an Academy nod?, Feb. 28 2015
Birdman(Aug/14)stars,among others,Michael Keaton,Zach Galifianakis,Edward Norton,Emma Stone and Naomi Watts.This movie is a real hodge podge of events and emotions,where small things are elevated beyond their worth into something of...little meaning at all.If you understood that,then you might get this movie.
Keaton is a film actor who had a huge film franchise going years before in Hollywood.The films were called "Birdman", which became his bread and butter and claim to fame.The offers dried up and Keaton has now decided to make a comeback on the New York stage.But throughout the film his past haunts him in the form of the voice of his former character.He is so full of insecurities and self loathing,that one never knows when and if the play he is putting on will ever get through rehearsals, let alone be performed in front of an actual audience.Zach plays his long time manager who mollycoddles Keaton through his ever-below-the-surface tensions and flare ups.To add to the dysfunctionality of the proceedings are Stone,his daughter,who has just gotten out of rehab.We also have Norton who plays a self righteous stage-only actor who thinks he's too good for the show and Keaton one minute,to eventually fooling around with Keaton's daughter and trying it on,on stage,with his lady co star,Watts.
Throughout we see Keaton seemingly with the power of psycho-kinesis and later the actual ability to fly.But other scenes make us realize it must be his imagination,just part of his delusional self loathing and doubt.Well,the play finally gets through rehearsals and on the preview night Norton throws a tantrum on stage and the show closes early.Later at a bar Norton and Keaton meet up with a local newspaper critic.She says she is going to demolish/close the play in her review even though she will never see it because she hates shallow Hollywood actors who know nothing about REAL acting.
The show hits its opening night and lo and behold all Keaton's worry and insecurities have been for naught.The play is an actual bona fide hit.Keaton's "delusions" however have become more real to him as we see him actually conversing with his old character and even "fliying".His character tells him he should be back in Hollywood making films that the public crave.He should come back in a new Birdman film.The next night Keaton is ultra calm between acts.He goes out on stage for the final scene but is in a less than normal state.The finale calls for Keaton to shoot himself.This night he carries out his gun as usual but we suspect it is real.He reads his lines,raises the gun,it goes off as per usual,and he goes down.The crowd stands on its collective feet.
We are now at the hospital.It seems our suspicions were correct about the gun.It was real and Keaton,while alive,shot his nose off.His manager drops by to give him the"our future's so bright,we're going to need shades" spiel.Eventually Keaton is alone,as he removes his head wrapping.A bruised and bloated faced Keaton stands by the window in his room looking out.He then opens the window and steps out onto the ledge.When his daughter comes in shortly after, Keaton is nowhere to to be seen.She runs to the open window and looks down,seeing nothing.She slowly looks up,smiles and slightly laughs in astonishment.Fade to black.
In the end the director pulls the rug out from under us all as if to say"fooled you".Give yourself a cookie Iñárritu.
The film is full of critical references to the shallowness of Hollywood and its making fast bucks off of expensive shoot em' up and destroy films,with direct reference to the Spiderman and Transformers franchises.It also looks at the age old snobbery of "legitimate"actors of the stage,compared to those of lesser credibility eking out a living behind in the flickers.On top of this there is a look at"critics" and their place in amongst the mix of the entertainment world.
This is one of those films,and there have been plenty of others over the years,that make me scratch my head and wonder who Iñárritu had to pay off to get an Academy nomination for this dud,let alone ANY award.It is mind boggling how pedestrian a film as this one is gets such buzz.No performance or production value in this film came within 50 light years of an Academy Award worthy performance.NONE.It's as if Hollywood collectively said "Yeah,we've got big shoulders.We can take this kind of criticism.Just to show you how big we are,here,take this Academy Award".And it seems even the actors involved got into their own hype,with Keaton seen pocketing the acceptance speech he would never give for best actor.That's Hollywood all the way folks.
Technically the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1.There is commentary and some short featurettes.
All in all while not a complete waste of film,it does show that Keaton is still around after being absent in anything of worth for quite some time.His acting sure hasn't improved all that much as he deservedly lost in his bid for best actor this year at the Academy Awards.The rest of the cast did a good job,and yes I got the "clever" innuendos and critical jabs at the entertainment business in general.However,overall this is a lame duck of a film as far as this reviewer is concerned.

John Wick (Bilingual)
John Wick (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Keanu Reeves
Prix : CDN$ 19.99
5 used & new from CDN$ 12.99

4.0 étoiles sur 5 A nice action film,bound to please., Feb. 28 2015
This review is from: John Wick (Bilingual) (DVD)
John Wick(released Oct/14)stars,among others,Keanu Reeves,Michael Nyqvist,Alfie Allen,Ian McShane,John Leguizamo and Willem Dafoe.This is a hard action romp starring Reeves,which is actually reminiscent of Jean Claude Van Damme's Wake of Death in intensity.In fact at times I could see JCVD in Keanu's place.However h(Reeves)e handles himself well here and the tension is nicely built throughout, until the final climactic moments.
The story starts out with Reeves severely injured,exiting his SUV and laying bleeding on the ground with a phone video playing of his wife.Time reverses as we now begin to discover the events leading up to this moment.Reeve's had a deep and loving relationship with his wife until tragically she was struck with a terminal condition which led to her being on life support.We are there to witness Reeves giving the ok to the doctor to pull the plug on his bedridden wife.After the funeral and at home he receives a package and in it is a cute little female Beagle pup in a cage.It is a gift from his departed wife.The two bond instantly.
At a gas station Reeves is filling up his /69 Mustang when he is approached by a Russian thug who wants to buy his car.Reeves refuses (in their language-something we will find out more about later),and drives away.Later that night Reeves home is burglarized by the very same group who now beat Reeves,kill his pup and steal his car.The Russian's take the car to a garage but the owner refuses to deal with it.It seems the thug who wanted/stole the car is the son of the head of the Russian mob in NYC.His father after contacting the garage owner to find out the why and wherefores, summons his son for a meeting.The father puts a beating on his son and tells him that he has stolen from a man he should never have.One who will stop at nothing to get revenge after what he has done.
True to the Russian's fears Reeves IS on a mission of revenge.Reeves was involved in a seedy underworld before he was married.Now he returns to this world in order to act out his plans of revenge,knowing that the Russians will try and stop him.They first storm his home but he dispatches each man(about a dozen) with rapidity.Reeves decides to check into a "hotel" which discreetly handles Reeves and his ilk.He now uses this as his home base from which to work.He goes after the Russians where they hang out in a nearby hotel,going after the son who is thickly guarded.By some stroke of luck the son manages to escape his clutches.After this his father puts him into a safe house for his own protection.
Reeves has a contract put out on him but an assassin sent to kill him fails.However another one who has been watching him and has had plenty of opportunity to do him in(an old friend and fellow assassin) is now warning him with missed shots from his scoped rifle.Reeves again takes the offensive and attends a church which is just a front that the Russians use to funnel all their assets through.Reeves burns their"assets".He waits outside for the Russians to come and they do.But Reeves gets captured and almost killed.After escaping(with his friends help once more) he confronts the mob father,who he spares for information on the location of his son.Reeves goes to that location and finally gets his man.
The Russian however now has Reeves friend (the one who has saved Reeves all along) and kills him.Reeves gets a call from the owner of the hotel he was staying in.Reeves learns that he not only dispatched the assassin who unsuccessfully tried to take him out(no "business" is ever allowed to be conducted on the hotel premises),but tells Reeves of the Russian father who is trying to flee the city in a helicopter .Reeves rushes to the area and catches up to two SUVS in transit to the helipad.He takes out one by pushing it over a wall with a fatal drop,and then slowly takes on each man from the second one until all that is left is the Russian father.The two fight hand to hand and Reeves is severely injured,but the mobster is worse off.Reeves leaves the scene and the story now comes full circle.Reeves slowly gets up and finds refuge in a nearby vet clinic.As he "repairs"himself he spots a caged pitbull.He opens the door and takes him out.The film ends as we see Reeves and his new companion walking back home.
The film's opening moments move along well,as the makers build us the foundation upon which the rest of the film will sit;Reeves injury,the death of his wife,the killing of Reeves' only living expression of his wife's devotion,his Beagle pup, and as a result,his forced return to his old life.From here the tension builds constantly throughout.I have heard some criticism and/or "funny" remarks/jabs about the point of Reeves seeking revenge for just a dog.Well this is totally unfounded nonsense.It is what the pup represented and stood for, that the Russians rip away from him for a lousy car jacking.It is totally believable and within reason.There are always those who are quick to tear things down to their lowest common denominator,aren't there?.The main body of the film deals with Reeves revenge and his immersion in his old "world"in order to exact it.The fight scenes are well choreographed and help us tremendously in the believability of the situations Reeves faces.The entire cast does a great job.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.There are no extras.
All in all a wonderful action film,full of the latter with a good supporting cast.Reeves does well in his brooding and dark character.A solid 4 stars,maybe even a bit below 4 1/2.

For Multi-titled Dvd
For Multi-titled Dvd
DVD ~ George O'Brien
Offered by Warehouse105
Prix : CDN$ 19.05
21 used & new from CDN$ 15.40

4.0 étoiles sur 5 Two underrated Ford's., Feb. 14 2015
This review is from: For Multi-titled Dvd (DVD)
This double sided DVD contains two of John Ford's silent films,Hangman's House(released May/28) and Three Bad Men(released Aug/26).Both are melodrama/potboilers,the former set between Algiers and Ireland,and while the latter in the old west.Ford deftly directs both and it shows Ford's penchant early on for having strong leading characters.
Hangman's House stars,among others,Victor McLaglen,June Collyer,Larry Kent and Earle Fox.It concerns McLaglen who is an officer in the Foreign Legion.He receives a letter that compels him to take a temporary leave of absence to go back home to Ireland.He arrives but is disguised as a wandering monk.He is a wanted man there.Next we in turn delve in to the private life of a hanging judge whose life is nearing an untimely end.Before he goes he wants his daughter Collyer to marry a man other than the one she currently sees and is in love with(Kent),a guy played by Fox.Fox is a low down skunk of a stool pigeon.Putting her own feelings aside for her father's sake Collyer marries him,but it is a loveless affair.Kent,is not impressed,but does the gentlemanly thing and steps aside.
After her father passes away Collyer decides to run the family thoroughbred in an upcoming race.The horse is well known throughout the county and most all bet what they have on her.However Fox,desperate for money, not only bets all against the horse but has the jockey kidnapped to boot.Kent steps in to ride the nag.Just before the race Fox spots McLaglen and has him arrested by the British Army. Despite all the pre-race drama,Collyers horse wins the race,much to everyone's delight,except for Fox.As everyone is gathered around the horse in a cheerful mood the despondent Fox comes out and shoots the horse dead.The crowd immediately swirls around him and without the army's help he would have been killed also.
Fox goes into seclusion at the daughters home(Hangman's House).Meanwhile McLaglen has been freed from jail by friends and is now hiding out.Collyer and Kent meet with him to find out that the letter he received in Algiers was from his sister who passed away in anguish over the husband that left her.The husband was none other than Fox.Kent meets with Fox and gives him money to leave the country and never come back.That night when Collyer returns home Fox beats her and she is forced out and over to Kent's place to stay with his mother.This is the last straw for Kent.He heads for Collyers home.
Meanwhile ,and free, McLaglen is just about to board a ship to return to Algiers when he gets word that Fox is at Hangman's House.McLaglen heads for the house and actually beats Kent there.They both confront Fox who manages,after a scuffle, to flee to the upstairs.However he knocks over burning candles on the way,which starts a deadly conflagration.Kent and McLaglen get out just in time, but Fox is trapped and ends up dying when he falls to his death.The film ends as Collyer and Kent are now together and a satisfied McLaglen wishes them well as he heads for port to return home.
Melodramatic yes but in a good way.Ford manages to bring the two stories,McLaglens and Collyer/Kent's nicely together.The tension builds throughout as Fox who is desperate for money,loses all,shoots the horse and loses any respect whatsoever, and now remains in hiding with no where to go, and then the two men who eventually track him down.Watch for a cameo of John Wayne in the horse race.3 1/2-4 stars.
Three Bad Men stars,among others,George O'Brien,Olive Borden,Lou Tellegen,Tom Santschi,J. Farrell MacDonald,Frank Campeau and Priscilla Bonner.This is again a melodrama set in the old west,around 1874 when the Dakota's were opened up for settlers seeking a new life and above all,gold.Ford weaves a nice tale of desperate men,with desperate lives seeking gold ,some in a good way,others bad.
The film opens as a wagon train travels across the open plain.One covered wagon in particular breaks down with a pretty girl on board(Borden) and her father.O'Brien comes to their rescue and is immediately smitten with the tough brunette.He gets them going again and they part, not to meet until both reach their destination of Custer,N.D.
Also watching this endless procession desert trains are three desperadoes,Santschi,Campeau and MacDonald wanted in the States and Mexico for a variety of offenses.They are a motley trio.Suddenly they spy a prospect to rob,a lone covered wagon pulling horses.Before they can even start another band of thieves beat them to the punch.The trio rides in and shoos the bandits away.The girl sobs in Santschi's(the leader's)arms.We see it is Borden,who has now lost her father during the shooting from the other bandits.All alone she asks Santschi and the two others to ride with her,and the gruff old buzzards,their hearts melted, agree.
They finally arrive in Custer a day or two ahead of what will be the great land rush; to allow folks to freely prospect and claim land for themselves.The town is run by a crooked sheriff,Tellegen.He has made a cottage industry of taking advantage of unsuspecting women and families,getting his underlings to rob and extort them,then splitting it all.It is here also that the trio of bandits decide that Borden needs a husband to protect her.The other two go search for a hubby,while Santschi hires O'Brien.After a few close calls O'Brien and Borden finally meet up and renew their acquaintance;falling in love much to the trio's delight.
The night before the great land rush foul things are afoot.A preacher has set up a church and the women and their children are all there praying for a good day ahead.The preacher has been vocal about his stance against the sheriff and the lawlessness that exists there.The Sheriff sends his men to the Church to burn it down.They light the Church and up it goes.At one point the preacher comes out begging for the men to stop as there are women and children trapped inside.Just as he is to be shot a woman steps in front of him asking him to come inside.She is instead shot and falls to the ground.The men flee.The smoke and flames hasn't gone unnoticed and O'Brien,the bandit trio and others arrive to help save the frightened congregation.The lady who inadvertently saved the preacher lies dying, and in her delirium screams out for her brother.Santschi hears this and runs to her.It is his sister.He had recently received a letter from her saying she had fled west with her new love.It turns out her"love" was the sheriff,who had just tricked her and has now nothing to do with her.As he holds his sister the sheriff peaks in and Santschi gives chase, but he cannot get him.He returns to find his sister dead,and with revenge now in his heart.
The next day dawns and all who have reached Custer are now gathered in a vast line awaiting the canon shot from the army to allow them to ride west.The signal comes and it is a race of monumental proportions.Every kind of vehicle imaginable is in it,riding as fast as their rigs will allow.The sheriff has been way passed the starting line in hiding( illegally),waiting for his chance to get the trio,O'Brien and Borden.The latter know the location of a gold mine and the sheriff wants it for himself.When they pass he and his men follow.The trio all know they are being followed so they tell O'Brien and Borden to keep on going,and that they will hold them off.Before the posse can reach them the trio decides to hold them off by a delaying action,one by one.The first gets a few down but is soon overpowered and killed.The next one hides in a shack of gun powder and when they burst in on the wounded man he blows them all up.The last one,Santschi finally has his moment with the crooked sheriff.The film ends as we see a happily married O'Brien and Borden calling out the names of their old three friends.As the camera pans around we see a baby lying on the floor;named in honour of the men who died so they could have a happy life together.
In the end we find the title is a reversal of the truth.In fact the "bad"men are three of the best men.They obviously had done some "bad"things to be wanted in the States and Mexico.But it is the girl's innocence and vulnerability at their first encounter which changes them all for the better.Ford works his magic by interweaving the bad men's story with the girl meets boy story ,and the side plot of Santschi's sister and his ultimate revenge thereof.The shot of the start line just before the land rush is about to begin is phenomenal.It seems to stretch for miles.And the fact it was taken from real events makes it that more compelling to watch. Watch for the sheriff who goes against type,by wearing a white hat! 3 1/2-4 star.
Technically speaking the films are in full screen mode and both look excellent considering their age.There are no extras.The accompanying music was excellently done and compliment the films as they should.
All in all two wonderful "silent" films by legendary director John Ford.Both are melodramas with nicely woven plots that should keep you interested throughout.

The Astaires: Fred and Adele
The Astaires: Fred and Adele
by Kathleen Riley
Edition: Hardcover
Prix : CDN$ 27.95
26 used & new from CDN$ 2.78

2.0 étoiles sur 5 Not an easy read, but a much needed book on its subject matter, Feb. 13 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"The Astaires" is a book about two super talented folks;one who by her own volition bowed out of the limelight at the peak of her career on stage for marriage,and the other,her brother,who would go on to further fame and fortune off stage in films and become, who many consider,the greatest dancer in that medium ever.
Much has been written about Fred Astaire in films,so there is little of mystery about the man and his career from that period onward.His pre-film career,along with his sister Adele however has remained,except for sporadic testimony of friends,newspaper clippings,etc., somewhat of an enigma to modern audiences.This book seeks to correct that discrepancy by digging deeper into playbooks,little known newspaper articles,memoirs of those who worked with and/or hired the Astaires along their joint career paths,and much more.The big question of "who was the bigger talent, Fred or Adele?", may never be answered to any one's satisfaction,as both siblings ever claimed it was the other.This book doesn't answer it either,although it does give us all fodder to think about it one way or another.
There are a few things that perturbed,me about this volume.I find the author while knowing her facts will often got out of sync with her timeline,jumping ahead suddenly by a few years then going back without warning.Then there is her vocabulary.She has a tendency to use a bit too many fancy $2.00 words,when the cheaper 50 cent-ers will do just fine.Furthermore I found her writing style overall to be a bit too heavy handed, and as a result,it dragged the narrative terribly.To top this she had a bad habit of over killing her points.For example on Page 72 and 73 she describes one George Nathan and his relationship with Adele.That she took more than half a page for a preamble leading up to Nathan and Adele's relationship,is baffling....and most irritating.She first describes who Nathan was(a co editor with H.L.Mencken of the Smart Set periodical),his philosophical leanings,the big wigs of the literary set who wrote for the publication, a 17 line paragraph.She also describes his founding of the American Mercury with Alfred Knoff.Ok we now understand who he was....ok? No this is not good enough.The author then expends another 18 line paragraph describing Nathan once more from the perspective of his co-editor Mencken.Enough already.....? Not a chance.After another eight line description which fleetingly mentions the real subject matter at hand,Adele,she goes into yet another piece of Nathan character build up by giving us two book inscriptions dedicated to him from a friend.It is only after all this that we finally get to the meat and potatoes of Nathan and Adele's relationship.WAY too much chaff with the wheat.
Let's look at another example.On page 89 about 3/4 the way down she starts an over extended look at the Astaires' impact and what it"represented" to English society as a whole(?).You know you are in trouble when she starts really getting into her point with this:"Their dancing and comedy encapsulated an innocence England had irrevocably lost on foreign fields,which is beautifully elegized at the close of the first act of Alan Bennett's Forty Years On."She then goes on to quote at length from that play/act.Then she links a reference to a nightingale in the play to actual live recordings made of a cellist and nightingales in 1924 and onwards.Then she say:"Like the nightingales,the Astaires were the sweet voice of life and hope....".We are now on page 91.From here she compares them to Noel Coward and HIS rise on the entertainment scene of the early 20s.By page 92 now she says the Astaires provided a kind of"....redemption,an anecdote to cynicism in a land of lost content".With all that out of the way she FINALLY gets back to the real Astaire story,their interaction with royalty and their current play.Phew!!This kind of verbial diarrhea serves only one purpose:to show everyone how clever and well read the author is.It does NOTHING for the narrative flow and in fact has exactly the opposite effect.It seems to be the old axiom"B.S. baffles brains".Except that this reader has enough brains to know when he is getting B.S-ed.
In conclusion,I am of the view that less is more.In this case more editing on the part of the author and/or publishers wouldn't have been amiss with the two examples cited above and others in the book.As a result this book,while a welcome look at a neglected piece of entertainment history,is one SLOW read.If only the author had not wanted to show off her personal writing prose/skills to the detriment of the historical facts,this would have been a great book.Instead it's an intolerably slow going tome.Be prepared.

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