Author Archives: mrholly

Fuzzy on – Bowling for Columbine (2002)


bowling for columbine

If Bowling for Columbine was a combat sport, it would be unlicensed boxing. Brutal as hell, and no-holds barred. Moore certainly takes the gloves off towards the end.

Essentially, a documentary is an expression of opinion from whoever is behind it, and it is important to keep this in mind when approaching any film of this genre. In this case, the documentary in question is the brainchild of Michael Moore, the notorious left-wing American film-maker. In response to the massacre of thirteen students at Columbine High School in 1999, Moore sets out to question the gun laws in certain states of America; namely Michigan (Moore’s birthplace), and Denver (the state in which the massacre took place).

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Mr Holly on – The Fan (1996)


"The Fan" - (1996)

If The Fan was a baseball legend, it would be Barry Bonds. The film has various similarities with his stint at San Francisco, which include record-breaking contracts, shirt number confusion and of course, the Giants themselves.

This Tony Scott picture delivers a sleek first pitch followed by an unexpected knuckleball. Gil Renard (Robert De Niro (Goodfellas, 1990)), A down-on-his-luck knife salesman, goes round the twist whilst stalking his idol, baseball legend Bobby Rayburn (Wesley Snipes (Blade, 1998)).

With a Falling Down (1993)-esque feel, De Niro’s steady decline of realism is well played to the best he can. Snipes fits the bill as the arrogant player and it is probably his best performance alongside Murder at 1600 (1997). De Niro’s character stops at nothing to keep his idol’s credibility in check, to the point of no return following a bizarre jinx over Snipes losing his shirt number.

Unable to perform and hit, Rayburn’s frustration is felt, generating more tension than a fat mans belt buckle. This results in a complete meltdown from Renard. Renard’s patience is tested throughout the course of the flick. As neck-cracking and collar-pulling are not usually associated with De Niro’s persona since the early days, it was refreshing to experience another one of these roles from the acting hall-of-famer. Benicio Del Toro (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)) fits into place nicely, as the irritating ex-centre fielder who steps up to the plate when Rayburn loses his metal.

On the downside, the film tends to drag somewhat. The ending feels slightly rushed and the acting from Patti D’arbanville (nothing else of note, for obvious reasons) is totally dreadful. Apart from that,  Snipes is marginally better than usual and although it is not De Niro’s best work, I enjoyed this film somewhat. With a haunting Hans Zimmer soundtrack and supporting cast of John Leguizamo (Carlito’s Way (1993)), and Ellen Barkin (Ocean’s Thirteen (2007)), to keep you interested, The Fan is a steady thriller. Give it a chance and you may be more suprised than not getting socks at Christmas from Mummy.

Performance of the film – De Niro’s performance pushed me to more lip biting than a nuts/fly encounter on a cold day. He did his best within the role, slightly overshadowing Snipes’ stupid slugger act.

Quote of the film – De Niro’s powerful one liner “Some people are ungrateful…and they should be taught a lesson” lingers in my head.

Fact of the film – This is the second movie where the De Niro/Baseball bat/head cracking  combo is in full swing.

Soundtrack/score – A nice selection of tunes ranging from the Rolling Stones to Terence Trent D’arby. Add that to a polished main suite from Hans Zimmer and you have a better bundle than a top-notch mobile phone package.

Summary:

May be a miss for some but it struck  a chord with me. A decent batting average. 77/100.

(Last watched 6 months ago. Reviewed by Mr. Holly.)

 

Mr Holly on…Love,Honour and Obey (1999)


If Love, Honour and Obey was a shop on the high street, it would be a charity shop: retro CDs, cheap tracksuits and mugs are all on offer here on a shoestring budget .

This BBC-backed, British gangster flick sees Ray Winstone’s (Scum) North London criminal faction pitted against their Southern counterparts, headed by Sean Pertwee (Dog Soldiers). Coincidentally, this is the third Pertwee film we have reviewed, and we’d just like to emphasise the fact that we are in no way attracted to this man. Coming up next week – Equilibrium

Humourous from the offset, this tale of a turf war includes a varied British cast which portrays this cockney rivalry well. With much of the film’s hilarity coming from the crude dialogue between them, this film also incorporates karaoke as an unlikely, yet effective plot device. Although some of the musical scenes do tend to run on a little, the cast obviously had fun in the making of them. Other side plots accompany this gangland mock-up, including a wedding, erectile dysfunction, and a grudge match between Rhys Ifans (Hannibal Rising) and the courier-come-gangster Jonny Lee Miller (Trainspotting).

The film has a decent entertaining feel to it and after making Final Cut (1998) together the previous year, the repeat combination of Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley), Sadie Frost (Dracula) and Winstone make this a superior film to its predecessor. All the themes projected in this movie keep you interested from the start, from the plots to the dated cars,phones and clothes. Considering you would get more cash raiding a public payphone for the budget, Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis have done well here.

The main drawback with this flick would have to be the limited target audience, with regards to international viewers. Whilst the dialogue is entertaining for the cockney-hardened British viewer, it would make as much sense to other nationalities as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity would make to a Peruvian llama farmer. This would inevitably hinder the overseas profit margin; a common oversight within the British film industry. The film has a slightly predictable end result and it veers to become quite dark and serious in the last twenty minutes (the toilet brush-anal cavity combo springs to mind here).

With these faults aside, Love, Honour and Obey is a decent addition to the British film market. It is one of the best gangster tales that we have on offer and although not very well-known, it is generally a good, fun watch and should be checked out. With a bigger budget we can’t help but feel that this would have been able to compete with the likes of Guy Ritchie.

Performance of the film – Despite a talented cast, Ray Winstone is undisputedly the daddy in this one.

Quote of the film – Ray Winstone “You’re fat, and I’ll throw you in the river…”

Fact of the film – Many aspects of this film are true to life. Ray Winstone is a massive fan of karaoke; This is the second Anciano/Burdis collaboration in the space of a two-year period to use the cast’s actual first names; and ex-S.A.S henchman “Bill” was actually a former member of the special forces, having been awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal in the line of duty.

Soundtrack/score – Most tracks from the film are actually performed by the cast, making it a refreshing karaoke mix including Tony Christie’s Avenues and Alleyways.

Summary:

An enjoyable gangster romp, well worth 94 minutes of your time. Watch it you mug. 83/100.

(Last watched 7 days ago. Reviewed by Mr. Holly and Fuzzy).

Mr Holly On…Dog Soldiers (2002)


If Dog Soldiers was a mammal, it would be a vampire bat – scary, hairy, full of blood, and yet you cannot take your eyes off of it. It is arguably one of the most gratuitously violent, and under-certified films on the U.K. market (The Untouchables 1987)) also springs to mind as Both are rated Fifteen). Perhaps the British Board of Film Classification should have granted this film an Eighteen certificate, like their Irish counterparts.

The story begins with a military training exercise set in the wilderness that is the Scottish Highlands (despite actually being filmed in Norway). What seems to be a staged combat scenario between Army Infantry and Special Ops, is disrupted by a furry third party.

After a hair-raising initial contact, Sean Pertwee (Love, Honour and Obey (2000)) leads a team of survivors to take refuge in a seemingly vacant cottage. It is here that the rest of the pieces fall in to place. A midst a hail of gunfire and drool, the characters are well-developed to a degree not usually seen in traditional horror-fests.

The film incorporates a wonderfully written and typically British script, but does include certain slang terms (“claret”, “brew” and “bone”) which could alienate potential viewers across the pond. Between consistent references to folklore and football however, a natural British feel emerges. A montage of well-deployed camera angles and overcast lighting is used throughout, adding to the feeling of tension. The opportunism of the characters during scenes of confrontation is refreshing in films of this type. For instance, the use of boiling water and aerosols as weapons would please even the most critical “if that was me…” viewer.

On the negative side, the werewolves appear more The Littlest Hobo (1979) than Lycanthrope and seem to have more hair than Chewbacca’s hairbrush.  Also, the performances of a couple of the cast seem more wooden than the endless supply of planks used throughout the siege scenario. On a shoestring budget of around £3 million however, this is to be expected.

The film also incorporates a dark comedic backbone throughout, portrayed through one-liners, small talk and petty insults. This black humour, coupled with colloquialisms also add to the sense that this is a film produced for a predominantly British audience. Along with 28 Days Later (2002), The Descent (2005) and Creep (2004), Dog Soldiers proves to be a refreshing addition to the British horror movie industry. All in all, a fun watch.

Performance of the film – This film was never going to win Oscars for acting, despite convincing performances from Pertwee and Mckidd ( Trainspotting (1996)). Pertwee sneaks it by a whisker.

Quote of the film – Despite a plethora of one liners, Emma Cleasby’s “It’s that time of the month” stands out.

Fact of the Film – Alongside his diverse acting career, Kevin Mckidd has provided the voice for ‘Soap MacTavish’ in the hugely popular computer games franchise Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Soundtrack/Score – No real soundtrack, but a catchy score from Mark Thomas had us humming for a while.

Summary:

Some cheesy one-liners, but a very dogged effort. A good horror film – rarer than a steak tartar. 82/100.

(Last watched 6 hours ago. Reviewed by Mr  Holly and Fuzzy.)

Guest Review: Mr Holly on Clue (1985)


 

If Clue was a hot beverage, it would be Bovril. Enjoyed by a certain generation; forgotten about by others. Based on the Hasbro board game, this ninety four-minute murder mystery, set in New England, 1954, centers around the popular family favorite, Cluedo.

Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) plays stereotypical British butler, Wadsworth, tending to a selection of unacquainted guests at a dinner party. Each guest arrives under a pre-allocated pseudonym, corresponding to characters from the game. As the plot unfolds, a mysterious character with more hair grease than an acne-ridden teenager – Mr. Body – is introduced.  True to the game, all the traditional weapons are presented as Body’s plan seemingly unfolds, entwining the characters in a web of blackmail and murder where everyone is a potential suspect.

The picture  unfortunately descends  in to a ‘whogivesas**t” rather than a ‘whodunnit’ movie, with more substandard gags than a ‘Carry On’ box-set that overpower the well-written story. As the body count rose, so too did my eyebrows.  Both sexist and homophobic remarks between characters cause the film to appear as out-of-date as Grandma’s flowery cardigan.

This clever concept is let down by a scatty ending. With more turns than a Peruvian mountain road, it becomes extremely hard to follow late on. On the plus side however – set in the 50’s, some clever touches include a reference to contemporary U.S. domestic policy (Macarthyism/Cold War etc.) and multiple ending options on the DVD release.

Performance of the film – With a young, energetic display that does not compare to the rest of his filmography, this is by phaal a substandard performance by Curry. Nonetheless, it beats the rest.

Quote of the film – “I…am…your singing telegram…”

Fact of the film – Cluedo was created in Birmingham, England by a solicitor’s clerk in 1949. The only discrepancy’s between the film and the game  is that Mr. Green  was actually a reverend in the UK version.  Mrs White was also the cook.

Score/Soundtrack – Some nice songs from the era, such as James Keyes’ Sh-Boom, and C. Calhoun’s Shake, Rattle and Roll. Nothing to write home about.

Summary:

Cluedo or Cluedon’t, take it or leave it. 49/100

(Last watched 7 hours ago. Review by Mr Holly and Fuzzy.)

 

Guest Review: Mr Holly on Carlito’s Way (1993)


 

If Carlito’s Way was an automobile, it would be an Oldsmobile 442. A hardcore, edge-of-your-seat ride which no-one knows about; always in the shadow of its mainstream counterpart (the Mustang and Heat (1995) respectively). Despite being a nose-picking, bum-numbing 138 mins the picture delivers an intelligent, well-delivered portrayal of the Big Apple’s 1970’s underworld.

With more twists than a gimp’s nipple, the film tells the story of Carlito ‘Charlie’ Brigante’s ploy to become clean after a five-year stint behind bars. In debt to the lawyer who saw his sentence reduced, the main  theme focusses on Carlito’s loyalty to his on-edge, on-drugs brief. Staying on a straight but VERY narrow path, Carlito attempts to escape his past life, despite staying true to his old-skool morals.

With more drink consumed than Oliver Reed on a chat show and more drugs than a night out at a hippy festival, this well acted bundle of joy is more in-your-face than an eye-watering egg fart in a packed lift.

While watching this gem I briefly tried to figure out where Carlito  resides, before settling for a hard drink over ice instead. By the end, this film left me with mixed emotions, reaching for the rest of the bottle,  satisfied.

Performance of the film – Al Pacino completely overshadows Penn with a brilliant display of tension-building facial expressions.

Quote of the film – Viggo Mortensen “Go ahead and kill me, you c********r.”

Fact of the film – This is the second epic Brian De Palma shootout in an inner-city train station.

Score/Soundtrack – Contemporary soundtrack perfect for the context of this film. The score emerges strongest during action scenes, peaking late on during the final chase.

Summary:

Carlito’s Way is a hidden classic; watch it.  87/100

(Last watched 2 hours ago. Review by Mr Holly and Fuzzy.)

 

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