Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on August 2nd, 2023
“Man gets shot that’s got a gun, there’s room for reasonable doubt. Man gets shot that hasn’t got a gun, what would you call it? But, you knew that already; otherwise you wouldn’t have set things up the way you did.”
Rio Bravo (1959) stars John Wayne as John T. Chance, a small-town sheriff facing the fight of his life. His town is infected by a gang of 30-40 men, professional bad guys on the payroll of Nathan Burdette (John Russell), whose brother, Joe, Chance has locked up for murder. Burdette is dead-set on freeing Joe, and the only help Chance has got is his former deputy, Dude (Dean Martin), who’s been drunk for two years since he got involved with the wrong kind of woman, and Stumpy (Walter Brennan), an old, trigger-happy cripple. The trio has six days until the U.S. Marshall comes to collect Joe, but that’s a long time to wait when you’re surrounded by the enemy.
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on August 2nd, 2023
“Who’s ready for contact poker?”
The first season of Your Honor was very much a contact sport. The first 20 minutes was some of the most compelling television I’ve ever seen. Bryan Cranston started us off as the titular judge Michael Desiato. He’s known as a tough but fair judge. He’s got a pretty good life until his son makes a fatal mistake and sets the series on its course. Adam has an early morning accident where he runs down another teen and leaves him for dead. Michael’s first reaction is of course for Adam to turn himself in to the police. But at the station he learns the victim was the son of the local mob boss, Jimmy Baxter, played ruthlessly by Michael Stuhlberg. Michael knows that if Jimmy finds out who killed his son, he’ll kill Adam. So the first season covers his elaborate plan to cover up the crime. That meant asking his childhood friend, local politician Charlie Figaro, to help get rid of the car.
Posted in The Reel World by Jeremy Butler on July 28th, 2023
-“This mansion is unhinged. She needs all the help she can get. You wanna be a hero?”
-“Two thousand dollars.”
-“What’s the address?”
I think Disney got it right this time. Or least they did from my perspective. Twenty years ago, they attempted to create a film adaptation from one of their popular attractions: The Haunted Mansion. Recruiting a top-level talent like Eddie Murphy, it appeared that it would be a success. However, the film was considered a critical failure, but a decent box office success. The 2003 adaptation was described as lifeless, as well as neither scary nor funny. Granted, in recent years the film has undergone a reassessment, joining the likes of Clue, The Monster Squad, and Hocus Pocus, similar dark-yet-broadly-comical films that were initially received poorly before finding an appreciative audience.
Posted in The Reel World by Brent Lorentson on July 21st, 2023
“Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
It is hard to ignore the hype around the film Oppenheimer. Any time a Christopher Nolan film has come out, it has become a pretty big deal for cinema fans, whether it was for his The Dark Knight trilogy, Interstellar, Inception, or Tenet, his films carry the same kind of respect alongside the names of Stanley Kubrick and James Cameron, and his films can be just as divisive. But the anticipation for the release of Oppenheimer feels like a different beast entirely. The release coming out the same day as Barbie has created such a stir on the internet that the term Barbenheimer has become a part of the zeitgeist of modern day. Then another aspect is how the film was literally shot on 70mm film, which is unheard of in today’s digital-hungry climate, and the film is being released in certain theaters on 70mm prints that reportedly weigh around 600lbs.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 21st, 2023
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
Charles Laughton is known primarily as an actor. He starred in several classics such as Spartacus, Witness For The Prosecution, and the title role in I, Claudius. He was the titular character in a remake of Lon Chaney, Sr’s The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. He was the cruel Captain Bligh in Mutiny On The Bounty and the evolutionary mad scientist in Island Of Lost Souls with Bela Lugosi which was based on the H.G. Wells novel The island Of Dr. Moreau and happens to be my favorite of his films. He married the Bride of Frankenstein herself, Elsa Lanchester, in one of those rare Hollywood pairings that lasted from 1929 until death did they part in 1962. They were a kind of royal couple for a while, giving some of the era’s most iconic parties. He was quite an accomplished man when he died too soon at 63.
Posted in No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on July 20th, 2023
Not sure if this film will go down in history for any real significant impact. However, there is one important gem to take away from this film: this is the movie where the king of cool found his queen. That’s right, The Experts is the movie in which John Travolta met Kelly Preston, and the rest, I suppose, is history, as the two went on to have a nearly thirty-year marriage until her tragic death in 2020. In the film, it is quite fitting that the two served as each other’s love interests, despite some clear geopolitical differences. I’d say that is putting it mildly given that Preston is a Russian sleeper agent and Travolta is the unwitting American who is teaching her to pass for American.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on July 12th, 2023
“It’s called the Impossible Mission Force for a reason.”
I imagine this is how it happened. It’s January of 2019, and Tom Cruise has just popped into the bathroom to shave. He opens up that can of Barbasol just to make sure there isn’t any dinosaur DNA left in the can, but as he takes off the cap, an authoritative voice begins to speak: “Good morning, Mr. Cruise. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to make a two part film of the Mission Impossible franchise. It won’t be easy. That’s why only the IMF team can be counted on to complete this task. There are agents out to stop you before you even get started. In China there is a virus code-name: Wuhan, and this virus will spread to pandemic levels just as you’re starting to get your production crew together. Elements within our own government will take measures to shut you down. Delays will cost an extra $100 million and necessitate crucial cast changes.
Posted in No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on July 12th, 2023
I was expecting a stereotypical action movie chock full of cheesy one-liners. Not quite what I got. There were one or two cheesy one-liners, such as “cleanup on aisle 3.” However, for the most part, I’d say Stone Cold holds its own in the entertainment category. Serving as the acting debut for former NFL linebacker Brian Bosworth, I’d say the film served as a solid opening to an on-and-off acting career. In this showing, Bosworth stars as a cop with a reputation for excessive force and maverick-like methods for getting the job done. After his latest stunt lands him a three-week suspension, he finds himself at the mercy of the FBI, who want to use him for a undercover operation, which many others would consider a suicide mission. Rounding out the cast are William Forsythe of Sam McMurray, Richard Gant, and Lance Henriksen serving as the film’s big bad. For a 30-year-old movie, I’d say that the film held up well in regards to action and dialog.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on July 8th, 2023
For me it’s crazy to see that The Truman Show is turning 25 years old. I was graduating high school when this had come out, and television was just an entirely different landscape back then. In 1998 when this film came out, the only reality shows were pretty much COPS and then The Real World on MTV, I really don’t believe anyone could have expected just how big reality TV would become. The same year in competition for box office dollars was Ed TV. Oddly enough, Ed TV would be a little closer to the mark on what the reality TV landscape would look like, taking a regular guy and making him a star overnight because he was on TV. The Truman Show I always felt was the superior film in just about every aspect. In many ways it is what I had hoped reality TV could be, but unfortunately it seems what viewers wanted in their reality programming was something more scandalous and absurd, more akin to a Jerry Springer episode than someone living in an idyllic world that was out of an episode of Ozzie and Harriet or Leave It To Beaver.
Posted in No Huddle by Jeremy Butler on July 8th, 2023
“Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!”
That is all that was heard when George Foreman won his first heavyweight championship. He entered that match an underdog despite his superior size and reach, and he shocked the world when he knocked the then-undefeated Frazier down six times on his way to TKO victory. However, that is just where he journey begins. Thanks to Big George Foreman, we get to see his journey in its entirety, in one of the most accurate and faithful biographical adaptations that I’ve ever seen. Key thing to know about me: I am a big boxing fan, so any opportunity I have to enjoy a movie about a boxing legend is a good day. This is no exception, as my knowledge about this hall-of-famer, such as his hard upbringing and the fact that he gave all his sons the same name, was limited; Big George Foreman, at least for me, shone a light on a boxing figure who probably doesn’t get the recognition he deserves.
Posted in No Huddle by Brent Lorentson on July 8th, 2023
In 1986, long before Luc Besson gave us such classics as Taken, The Fifth Element, or Leon: The Professional, he helped co-write and produce the wacky sci-fi/thriller Kamikaze. I’m a fan of Besson, and not only had I never seen this film, I had never heard of it, so I was more than happy to check it out. In my opinion Luc Besson is one of the best action filmmakers out there. Whether he is writing, directing, or producing, he manages to put out an enjoyable product on a more consistent basis than many others. If you are unfamiliar with the guy’s work, go ahead and take a moment to check him out on IMDB, and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a few titles on his resume that you’ve enjoyed. Now in the 80’s you can say he was still cutting his teeth and trying to make a name for himself and had some moderate success. Subway (1985) is a fun little standout, and in 1988 he had The Big Blue. In that time he handed off the script for Kamikaze to Didier Grousset, his Assistant Director from Subway, to direct the film, and as they say, the rest is history.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on June 29th, 2023
“I miss the desert. I miss the sea. I miss waking up every morning wondering what wonderful adventure the new day will bring to us.”
Who said Nazis aren’t a lot of fun? Hogan’s Heroes turned them into comic foils. When it comes to Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, it seems there’s no one we like seeing him beat more than Nazis. Think about it. Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Nazis: Great movie. Temple Of Doom: No Nazis: Not so much a great film. Last Crusade: Nazis: Again great film. Crystal Skull: No Nazis: Total disaster. Can you see a pattern beginning to develop here? Somebody finally took notice and Indiana Jones is back in Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny (terrible title, by the way), and he’s back to fighting Nazis. What could go wrong?
Posted in Disc Reviews by Brent Lorentson on June 29th, 2023
Back in 2013 the remake for Evil Dead came out. I enjoyed the film, but it just didn’t feel right not having Bruce Campbell on the screen fighting off the deadites in that crazy cabin in the middle of the woods. But I could still appreciate the gore, and I felt the filmmakers did a decent job at capturing the tone of the franchise. The film has kind of grown on me over the years. Then fans got hit with the Ash Vs. The Evil Dead series, which was three seasons of bliss that really did a fantastic job honoring the trilogy that Sam Raimi had created. Now in 2023 we have a new film, Evil Dead Rise, a film that ignores pretty much everything fans of the franchise have known and loved for 40 years. It did great at the box office, but where does the film stand on its own and in relation to the legacy before it?
Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 29th, 2023
“All right, men, now here’s the play we’re gonna use. I don’t think the guards know this formation. It’s called ‘incidental punishment after the ball is blown dead.’ Remember, any man you tackle gets an elbow, knee, or kick in the mouth.”
In 1972 Albert S. Ruddy made motion picture history. He went from the writer of a television sit-com to landing a producer job at Paramount with almost no credentials but his nerve. Once there, this inexperienced producer delivered one of the most iconic films in history. That film was The Godfather, and it would shatter records at the Oscars and is considered one of the best films ever made. In my opinion it is the best film ever made. When the film was finished, it was a no-brainer that there would be a sequel. Sequels weren’t quite so common then, but there was a lot of material in the best-selling novel to continue the story. Ruddy was offered the job of producer once again. He turned it down. He had another movie, one in which he wrote the story, that he wanted to do instead.
Posted in No Huddle Reviews by Gino Sassani on June 29th, 2023
“The year: 1187 A.D. The Saracens of Asia swept over Jerusalem and the Holy Land, crushing the Christians to death or slavery.”
The Crusades is the name of a 2023 comedy that was recently released, and it’s a comedy in the Animal House tradition, and it’s what you’ll get if you try to do any quick title searches on that name. But buried beneath all of that beer and vomit, you might discover a more obscure (today) film from 1935 directed by the mythic Cecil B. DeMille. And you won’t find any frat parties or beer kegs anywhere in this historical epic. The time and place are the Christian Crusades to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslim tyrant Saladin, the onetime Sultan of Islam.
Posted in No Huddle by Brent Lorentson on June 28th, 2023
This 1975 Burt Reynolds film is nothing like I expected, and for the most part I’d say that is a good thing. When I first picked up the title, I pretty much expected this to be a fun yet somewhat forgettable action film from the 70s, something in the same vein as Stick or Gator, but instead this is a more complex story that takes many strange twists and has an ending that was pretty unexpected. The film was directed by Robert Aldrich, who was fresh off of directing The Longest Yard and also to his credit directed one of my favorite war films, The Dirty Dozen. Aldrich is one of those directors who I’d put in the same category as Don Siegel who were just fantastic at directing “tough-guy” films that just oozed testosterone in just about every frame. In other words, directors that Hollywood would try to cancel in a heartbeat if they were working today. That being said, this is one of those films that is a product of the time it was made, and it has enough offensive moments that would make a modern audience want to stand up and protest, and, well, it’s what makes me like this film a little more than I should.
Posted in Disc Reviews by Jeremy Butler on June 27th, 2023
“How everyone thinks we can solve any problem with magic. There are limits! This isn’t some bedtime story; this is the real world!”
Well not quite, but still very sound advice. Which is what our heroes find out in this adaptation of the popular tabletop game. I’m becoming convinced that there is no such thing as a truly great cinematic adaptation for a tabletop or role-playing games. Think about it? Warcraft, Battleship, the previous Dungeons and Dragons adaptation. All of them failed to hit the mark. When you think about it, it’s not surprising. These games are incredibly nuisance and detailed, it would be more surprising if their entirely was actually able to be encompassed in a matter of hours. In the case of the latest Dungeons and Dragons adaptation, Honor Amongst Thieves, I think it is a case of good movie/decent adaptation.
Posted in No Huddle by Brent Lorentson on June 27th, 2023
This remake of the 1936 screwball classic My Man Godfrey very much works as a snapshot of the time and how the wealthy as well as the social elite acted. In many ways we can still see this behavior on display when we look at some of the modern celebrities (looking at you, Kardashian family) we can view it as harmless privilege or simply an abuse of wealth. Either way, when watching this film, though it has plenty of charm, there is plenty to cringe about when viewing the behavior of some of these characters. When watching this, it’s best to go into it thinking of it as nothing more than a silly story and just ignore how improbable any of this could actually be. The film opens up with a chase taking place. Irene Bullock (June Allyson) is in hot pursuit of her sister, Cordelia Bullock (Martha Hyer) as they speed through the back streets of New York. Irene is trying to catch up with her sister who has stolen a goat that she intends on using for a scavenger hunt. It’s when the pursuit is taken to a pier where the ladies encounter Godfrey Smith (David Niven) who is posing as a vagrant but in reality has illegally jumped ship when traveling from Austria in search for a new life.
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on June 23rd, 2023
“There is an old saying that blood is thicker than water.”
We’ve had Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Gene Simmons with his Family Jewels, and even Snoop Dog’s Father Hood. It’s become a bit of a trend to follow these celebrity families around and watch the drama of their privileged lives unfold on our television screens. You might think it’s a relatively recent phenomenon, but would you believe they were doing it back in the infant days of television when we followed around a musician named Ozzie and his wife way back in 1952? No, we’re not talking about Ozzie Osbourne and his family. I’m talking about Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. They were television’s darling family before we ever heard about Lucy and Desi.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on June 16th, 2023
Been waiting on this one for some time, ever since we were introduced to the character in the Justice League movie and it was announced that the film would cover the Flashpoint Paradox storyline, which is one of my favorite comic storylines. My enthusiasm was tempered a bit with the film being delayed and the actor’s subsequent troubles (for the purposes of staying on the topic at hand, that will be my only mention of that situation). However, it is finally here, and after viewing it I can say that it was well done and well received. It is also a bit bittersweet, as it signifies the conclusion of the DCEU as we know it. While I have complete confidence that the future of DC is safe in James Gunn’s hands, it is difficult to say farewell to the only thing that we’ve known since Cavill first donned the suit. Back on topic: in my opinion, while this adaptation does have some slight deviations from the source material, I can confidently say that the film does the source material justice (pun intended).
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on June 14th, 2023
“Hello. My name is Robert Montague Renfield. And just like these decent folks, I’m in a destructive relationship. When I met him, I was a real estate lawyer hoping to make a deal that would change my life and my family’s lives forever. Oh, and it certainly did.”
After nearly 90 years, the Universal horror cycle stands as one of the most enduring collection of horror movies today. Their influence on modern horror is unmistakable. There have been literally thousands of incarnations of Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster, but the first image that comes to your mind will always be the nightmare creations of those Universal films. Studio head Carl Laemmle, Jr. was trying to break away from his father’s control and create a studio culture of his own. The results would start in 1931 when an unknown Hungarian actor named Bela Lugosi jumped from the stage to the screen in Dracula, directed by Tod Browning.
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on June 14th, 2023
“This is the territory of Wyoming. The year: 1866. On this soft, solitary day of early summer, men from two different worlds have come together to talk. There is bitterness here, suspicion, and distrust. You remember your friends and loved ones who have been killed. You’ve seen the bleached ribs of their wagons. And still they come, pushing west with a vision, a vision of farms and of towns of land they can call their own. They come by the hundreds to reclaim the wilderness under your protection, the army of the United States.”
George Sherman was one of the most prolific filmmakers in American cinematic history. Between 1938 and 1973, he made over 100 such films, including classics like Big Jake (director) and The Comancheros (as a producer), both with John Wayne
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on June 14th, 2023
“In all the bloody pages of history, no bloody chapter was more bloody than the bloody era of the buccaneers. Over the seven seas the Brethren of the Coast, as these bloodthirsty pirates called themselves, roamed at will. Killing, plundering and looting. Writing their names in blood across the bloody record of time. They were a murderous, bloodthirsty crew who feared neither men nor the Devil. But the bloodiest of all these bloodthirsty buccaneers was the bloody pirate: Bloodthirsty Dave.”
There’s more blood in that prologue than the entire Friday the 13th franchise.
Posted in The Reel World by Gino Sassani on June 9th, 2023
“Of all the threats you’ve faced from your past and future, you’ve never faced anything like this.”
In 2018 the Transformers franchise began something of a … well … transformation. Michael Bay stepped down as the franchise director while maintaining a producer role. The focus also shifted from the continuing story started with the first film and transitioned to the idea of standalone films set within the general continuity established from the beginning. The new focus also allowed the films to go to different times in the mythology. So Bumblebee became more than just a Transformers film. It was a rather charming 1980’s period piece and it was actually a better movie than some of the original run. That tradition is continued with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts. The film is rather loosely based on the Beasts Wars story from the early cartoons and takes us back, but a decade later than Bumblebee. Now we’re in 1994, and a couple of your film favorites have returned for the next chapter in the Transformers legacy.
Posted in No Huddle by Gino Sassani on June 9th, 2023
“Till I run up against you, Nazi was just a word in the newspapers to me. Now it’s another way to spell cockroach. Well, this place needs cleaning up, and for the next two minutes, I’m a one-man Board Of Health.”
Lucky (Ladd) runs a New York crime gang. He’s dealing with two very big problems. His second, Slip Moran (Leonard) is trying to have him killed, so he employs lookalikes and doesn’t let on to Slip that he’s wise to his efforts. Also, his number has come up, but it’s not because of Slip. It’s WWII calling, and he’s trying to dodge the draft. His lawyer tries one scam after another, but nothing is working. He even hires an old lady, Ma (Paige) to pose as his dependent mother but blows the scam when he gives a grand a week as his payments to her. There’s nothing to be done. Lucky is going into the army, and Slip is going to be taking over the mob.