Pencilstorm contributor Rob Braithwaite is watching 366 movies this year, so you don't have to, here is part eleven of his continuing 2016 rundown......
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = I can’t see giving anything that I’ve seen once five stars
★ ★ ★ ★ = get to the theater / move it up in your queue
★ ★ ★ = “three stars is a recommendation” - The Empire [magazine] Podcast
★ ★ = if the remote is too far away, you could do worse
★ = if the remote is too far away, get someone to move it closer then throw it at the TV
Eddie the Eagle (2016) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman
director: Dexter Fletcher
The not-quite true depiction of the true story of Britain’s first Olympic ski jumper.
If there was a cinematic itch my mom had, it was the against-all-odds, adversity-defying, feel-good movie. This movie ticks all those boxes and nails the training montage. It even perfected the soundtrack of the ‘80s ski movie. Horrible to listen to but fits right in.
double feature pairing: Cool Runnings
Shout at the Devil (1976) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Lee Marvin, Roger Moore, Barbara Perkins
director: Peter Hunt
Zanzibar, 1913. A fruitful partnership begins when an American hustler cons a British aristocrat into transporting ivory through German controlled waters. The conflicts with the German governor become more extreme when World War One kicks off.
Descriptions of this movie make it seem it’s all about the true-life bombing of a broken down German ship. That is only about the last half hour or so. The lead in has more in common with The Dukes of Hazzard, The Yank and The Brit butting heads with The Kraut. There are swings in humor’s direction, and some surprising blows of gruesome violence.
Roger Moore’s role should have been cast younger. I forget he’s supposed to be a younger man until a reference is made about it. But, he was James Bond until he was 62, so what do I know.
double feature pairing: The Man Who Would Be King
Hush (2016) ★ ★
stars: Kate Siegel, John Gallagher Jr.
co-writer/director: Mike Flanagan
Here’s the latest attempt at giving the home invasion thriller a new twist. This time the home-alone woman is deaf and mute. She is working on her overdue second novel in her remote home in the woods when a killer darkens her front door…with blood!
There are some suspenseful moments. However, the degree to which the woman is aware of her surroundings varies upon the story's necessity. I was often distracted, trying to figure the logic of some situations. The biggest head scratcher was how she was close enough to another house to gain access to their wi-fi. Not very isolated. As I debated the perceived problems, the run time expired. Now that is how you get movies watched, people! [drops remote]
watch The Strangers instead
[picks up remote]
Night Moves (2013) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, Peter Sarsgaard
co-writer/director: Kelly Reichardt
Three environmentalists make plans to blow up a dam.
Like her previous film Wendy and Lucy, Kelly Reichardt sets a relaxed pace. It’s odd that could lend itself to great tension.
double feature pairing: The East
Sam Whiskey (1969) ★ ★ ★
stars: Burt Reynolds, Ossie Davis, Clint Walker
director: Arnold Laven
A widow hires Sam Whiskey, a legend in the opening credit’s mind, to salvage the gold bars her husband stole then return them to the mint before their absence is detected. Piece of cake.
An enjoyable reverse heist flick that somehow doesn’t feel very thrilling. It ends with a sense of “So, want to get something to eat?”
Sam Whiskey was one of a few remnants from a Burt Reynolds bender I went on last year. I re-watched a few though mostly focused on movies I hadn’t seen from his heyday, movies I remembered seeing trailers for on HBO but had no interest in them because I was a kid and Burt wasn’t crashing cars or hanging out with Jerry Reed.
I took this bender so far as to purchase a VHS copy of Paternity for $10, because it was never released on DVD. Can’t tell why it didn't make the cut. It’s not bad. There is much worse that not only made the jump to DVD but also received a bluray release. Also, I’d forgotten the frustration that accompanied pan and scan. Grrrrr.
The other title on my list that didn’t get the DVD transfer was Rough Cut. VHS copies were going for fifty bucks on eBay. My bender wasn’t that important. Some things were not meant to be.
As a result, here are my top ten Burt Reynolds movies, top to bottom: Smokey and the Bandit, Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Starting Over, Hooper, Breaking In, Semi-Tough, Switching Channels, Paternity, Stroker Ace.
double feature pairing: There Was a Crooked Man
My Man Godfrey (1936) ★ ★
stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady
director: Gregory La Cava
A socialite hires a bum to be her butler after he agrees to belittle himself as her “forgotten man” item from a high society scavenger hunt.
Made me laugh a little. Tried to comment on class issues. Ends in a fairy tale.
watch Trading Places instead
Calvary (2014) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Brendan Gleeson, Kelly Reilly, Chris O’Dowd
writer/director: John Michael McDunagh
Father James, a well respected priest of a small Irish town, is told he will be killed in seven days.
Incredibly, this ends on an upbeat. Brendan Gleeson is amazing.
Holy shit! M. Emmet Walsh is still alive?!
double feature pairing: The Player
Weiner (2016) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin
directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg
An amazing movie to watch for body language.
For an interview with directors, check out the On the Media episode “Trending Topics”
double feature pairing: The Contender
Jack’s Back (1988) ★ ★ ★
stars: James Spader, Cynthia Gibb, Robert Picardo
writer/director: Rowdy Herrington
A copycat recreates the Jack the Ripper murders a hundred years later, to the day.
There were a couple turns I wasn’t expecting because I think I was confusing this with another movie and the description on the DVD case uncharacteristically left something unspoiled. A must see for James Spader fans. A regular see for thriller fans.
double feature pairing: Time After Time
The Headless Woman (2008) ★ ★.5
stars: María Onetto, Claudia Cantero, Inés Efron
writer/director: Lucrecia Martel
A woman hit something she thinks is a dog and drives off, but as the days pass and word of a missing boy reaches her, she suspects she might have hit more.
A classic tale of people of high status working their way out of consequence. The story lallygagged its way to a fork in the road. It could have gotten there a bit sooner.
watch The Machinist instead
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) ★
stars: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
director: Roland Emmerich
Do I have to tell you about this one? One more moment wasted thinking about this will crush my soul.
watch Mars Attacks! instead
The Shallows (2016) ★ ★ ★
stars: Blake Lively, a shark, a seagull
director: Jaume Collet-serra
“Surfboard goes in the water. Girl goes in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark. [singing] Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we've received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.”
Some nice underwater photography. It feels like a live-action Disney movie sometimes when she’s conversing with an injured seagull. Plausibility can be ignored when the performance and action are this engaging.
double feature pairing: A Perfect Getaway
The Fits (2015) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Inayah Rodgers
co-writer, director: Ann Rose Holmer
There isn’t much I should tell you beyond the trailer, except 1) it was filmed in Cincinnati and 2) the scene where she gets the routine down for the first time is one of the happiest scenes I’ve seen in a long time.
double feature pairing: Bring It On
Freebie and the Bean (1974) ★ ★
stars: Alan Arkin, James Caan, Jack Kruschen
director: Richard Rush
A couple cops try to keep a local kingpin alive from an assassin’s bullet while they await a warrant for his arrest.
Pretty good when Freebie and Bean are on the job, bickering with each other. Otherwise, this is pretty bad, especially the sub-plot about Bean’s Wife. That’s how Valerie Harper is credited, by the way, “as Bean’s Wife.” oh, and she and Alan Arkin are supposed to be Mexican. oof.
watch Lethal Weapon 2 instead
The Children’s Hour (1961) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine, James Garner
director: William Wyler
Kids say the darndest things. Manipulative kids say the damnedest things.
People’s lives and a business are destroyed from the whisper of a girl mixing an ounce of truth with a lie that is peppered with words she doesn’t really understand. There are many horror movies with children as harbingers of evil. Like Cujo, this is scary because it could really happen. New kids are being made every day! Stop, before it’s too late!
(but seriously, this movie a gut punch and wonderfully performed, especially the trouble making girl. The daggers from her eyes are sharp.)
double feature pairing: The Hunt
Rough Cut (1980) ★ ★
stars: Burt Reynolds, Lesley-Anne Down, David Niven
director: Don Siegel
Watching Sam Whiskey reminded my to check on the availability of Rough Cut. VHS, still forty to fifty bucks. Laserdisc… Laserdisc?! Eight dollars with free shipping! I know someone who has a player. Does it still work? I’ll worry about that later. BUY.
A British inspector, in the twilight of his career, fixes his sights on the criminal mastermind who has eluded capture.
Burt Reynolds his is best when he is a wise-cracking scrapper. When he moves too far into tough guy territory, like in Sharky’s Machine, I can’t take him as a serious threat. Here, he tries to work in Cary Grant suave mode. That’s not really his thing either.
The movie’s attempts at humor fall flat. The actors move their bodies and speak words. The camera was in focus. The most interesting part was the heist, but that is completely ruined by the ending (one of four filmed). The inspector was in on it the whole time and stole the jewels before they even left London, which means they didn’t have to go through with the heist at all.
Rough Cut had three directors. The writer removed his name from the project. And no one wanted to put this on DVD. Maybe I should have researched this more. eh, I’m glad I saw it.
watch The Great Muppet Caper instead
Marauders (2016) ★
stars: Christopher Meloni, Dave Bautista, Bruce Willis
director: Steven C. Miller
Thieves steal delicate information from safety deposit boxes to expose a [cover-up, conspiracy, whatever, it doesn’t matter; this movie is garbage.]
In a movie with so many clichés, why do you think they decided to turn expectations by replacing a baguette sticking out from a grocery bag with a bag of doughnuts? Was it because a cop was carrying the bag? *sigh* The baguette in a paper grocery bag is one of my favorite clichés.
Also shot in Cincinnati.
watch Inside Man instead
Eye in the Sky (2015) ★ ★ ★ ★
stars: Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman, Aaron Paul
director: Gavin Hood
Clearance for an drone air strike has many levels and debates on what is legal, moral and militarily justified.
Good tension from what is mostly people acting in rooms. Alan Rickman’s final on-screen performance.
double feature pairing: In the Loop
Death Hunt (1981) ★ ★ ★
stars: Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Carl Weathers
director: Peter Hunt
Not much to this adaptation of a real-life manhunt in the 1932 Yukon — Recluse makes an enemy. Enemy misrepresents the conflict. Mounties and posse converge for shootouts and frozen mountain chases. Entertaining nonetheless. It’s odd Angie Dickinson is in it at all. She shows up to collect her dead husband’s effects, sleeps with Lee Marvin, wonders if they could ever be together (no), then leaves. Pointless to the point of why bother.
double feature pairing: First Blood
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made (2015) ★ ★ ★.5
stars: Chris Strompolos, Eric Zala, Jayson Lamb
directors: Jeremy Coon, Tim Skousen
In 1981 a group of kids decide to remake Raiders of the Lost Ark, shot for shot. It takes them seven summers. They get it all except for one scene. Now, thirty years later, they are getting that final scene.
The one-scene-short version made it through the ranks of underground VHS traders to become legend. What these guys don't seem to realize is their project’s true appeal. They were kids, with great ingenuity and no parental supervision, who did a remarkable job recreating a movie they largely made from memory. It isn’t special to raise money to hire a cinematographer, a special effects crew and some guy to build a plane.
double feature pairing: American Movie
The Silent Partner (1978) ★ ★ ★
stars: Elliott Gould, Christopher Plumber, Susannah York
director: Daryl Duke
A bank teller catches wind of a robbery in time to skim money for himself. When the robber learns he’s to have stolen more than he has, he knows who to go after.
Not a bad little crime caper. Didn’t expect it to contain one of the more terrifying murders I’ve seen in a movie.
double feature pairing: A Fish Called Wanda
173/366 movies (15 movies off pace)
24/52 movies directed by women
THE TOP THREE