Friday, February 26, 2010

White Lightning (1973)

Gator McKlusky is released from prison to track down a moonshine ring and avenge his brother. This is a real taste of the south. Hot and sweaty, with dusty car chases through small towns and muddy country roads. Burt Reynolds' best work in this movie. Don't expect Burt to monkey around and try to get his costars in a laughing fit. This isn't the movie for that. Bo Hopkins is likeable as his moonshining partner, and Ned Beatty makes the perfect redneck sheriff.

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La Femme Nikita (1990)

An attractive, nihilistic rebel is recruited from jail to be trained as a top assassin. This movie is stunning. If you don't know the cast -- Anne Parillaud, Tcheky Karyo, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jean Reno, you certainly will after this. A high-energy movie that will keep your nose glued to the flatscreen. Solidly handled by the mighty Luc Besson. Don't miss this one. Look for screen legend Jeanne Moreau's magical performance.

This movie has been remade, copied, fondled and mutilated in every form. So,
Make sure to watch the 1990 Luc Besson original please.

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The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973)

An aging small-time hood facing jail time works both sides of the street. One of Robert Mitchum's best. Excellent cast. Watch for Steven Keats as the arms dealer and Peter Boyle as Mitchum's slippery friend. This movie puts you right smack in there with these guys A smart script, real dialogue and characters make for a fine movie.

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Silver Streak (1976)

A mild-mannered book editor gets mixed up with criminals on a cross-country train trip.
Gene Wilder's sensible reactions to adversity, criminal activity and shenanigans around him are hilarious. Jill Clayburgh is quite the little kitten, and performances by Patrick McGoohan, Ned Beatty and Ray Walston are slightly overdone to perfection. Wilder's scenes with Richard Pryor are epically funny. The perfect blend of comic and suspense. This movie is always fun to watch and screams popcorn.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

A madman vows to kill bumbling Chief Inspector Clouseau (Peter Sellers). The funniest of all the Pink Panther movies by far, so don't bother with the rest. Blake Edwards might have pushed the gags a bit, but we don't care because Sellers' comic genius fuels this movie. The ending is among the most perfect I have ever seen. This romp is most excellent for parents and kiddies, as it plays out very much like a cartoon. The room will laugh. Memorable gags for all.

"What kind of bomb was it?"
"The exploding kind"

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The Last American Hero (1973)

A fearless young Carolina whiskey runner starts winning in the world of stock car racing.
This is the story of Nascar legend Junior Johnson. Jeff Bridges smirks and grins his way to the checkered flag. Lots of racing action, but also a surprisingly solid story, and complex characters. Valerie Perrine shakes it well as the Georgia peach pit-slut with a heart of gold. This is a classic American movie. Have a couple of cold ones ready and get ready to yee-haw.

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Bad Boys (1983)

Sean Penn is targeted in a juvenile prison after accidentally killing a rival's kid brother. No Officer Krupke here. This is a gritty, disturbing, seething tale of teenage misery, hate and revenge. Which is why we love it. Esai Morales stands out in this one, as does Clancy Brown (yes, you remember him as another prison villain in Shawshank Redemption). Penn is fresh from his Spiccoli role here, and believe me, it's a genuine 180.
Not to be confused with the Michael Bay 1995 movie. These are waaay different movies.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Vanishing Point (1971)

Kowalski and his 70 Dodge Challenger barrel through a dusty American landscape, running from the cops and egged on by a blind Soul DJ. If you like freedom of the road, this is the movie for you. It's a slow and beautifully filmed piece. I don't think there's one person alive who at one point didn't want to jump in a car like Kowalskis' and just take off down the road. Tarantino gushingly paid homage to this awesome cult classic in Deathproof.

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The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

Fashion photographer starts seeing murders through the eyes of a serial killer. Very creepy and entertaining thriller. Faye Dunaway looks lovely in every single scene. Young Tommy Lee Jones shows us why he's a star in this one. The bright spot of this movie however is Brad Dourif. You remember him as Billy Bibbit in Cuckoos Nest and Doc Cochrane in Deadwood. Find a copy in the corner of your video store and dust it off, it's well worth it.

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Sleeper (1973)

Woody Allen is a preserved schmendrick who wakes up unexpectedly in the distant future. This is his best slapstick comedy and it rocks with just one gag after the next. He went all out for laughs on this one. Diane Keaton is nutty as his sidekick. Watching him try to pass for a robot...awesome. How can you not laugh when you see a man spastically beat down a pudding? Pure Fun.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Violent City (1970)

Hitman Jeff is double-crossed and blackmailed. One of Charles Bronson's best (and least known). Hits the ground running. Telly Savalas is so very greasy as a mob boss. A staple for any 70's Bronson fan. Also, a perfect ending. My only minor complaint is naming a hitman Jeff. Doesn't sound mean enough. It's like hitman Tim. Just doesn't inspire fear. But Bronson is deadly in this one, and there's plenty of gritty action for all. Good stuff.

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Valley Girl (1983)

Punk falls for Valley Girl--warning---vintage 1980's. Ok, ok. I know. However, This is actually kind of a sweet movie. Romeo and Juliet in 80's California. Nicholas Cage basically plays a potato, but pulls it off well. Deborah Foreman is, like, sooo bitchin' as his girlfriend, and as a treat, we get Frederic Forrest as her dad. Don't count on any life lessons from this one, but it's a cute movie and let's leave it at that.

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Rush (1991)

2 undercover narcotics officers get too caught up in their job. A solid film, it locks you right in. Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh make a believable pair. Icing on cake is Gregg Allman as the villain, how great is that? Kinda dark, but we like that sometimes, right? Well worth a viewing, it'll stay with you.

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The Getaway (1972)

Ex-con and wife on the run. Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw in this Sam Peckinpah classic. More action than talking. One of Al Lettieri's best snarly performances too, as he plays baby games with Sally Struthers. Refreshing cameo by Slim Pickens too. Ok, not so under the radar really, but if you haven't seen it, get busy.

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Tank Girl (1995)

Tank Girl and her rebels fight the evil Water & Power corporation in the future. It's all Lori Petty in this one. Hard to describe her role; sort of like Cindy Lauper meets Bugs Bunny. Gotta like her after seeing this flick. Tons of gags, action and one-liners to keep you chuckling (and a few guffahs). Because it's based on a comic book, there's no holding back, and that's what makes it so great.

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Lifeguard (1976)

Sam Elliot is the man in this breezy, 1970's Southern California tale of a lifeguard in his early thirties looking down the road. Amazingly catchy and cheesy 70's soundtrack. This film just rolls on by, but has some weight too. Elliot is way cool, looks incredible, and NOT a cowboy in this one. Keep an eye peeled for a yearning young Kathleen Quinlan. Underrated little gem. Don't miss it.

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Boiler Room (2000)

Giovanni Ribisi plays Seth, a young man trying to impress his father, who finds himself working in a questionable white collar job. Gotta love Ron Rifkin as the perfect uptight dad. Nice to see Vin Diesel in a non-meathead role too. Fine acting all around and a riveting story. If this movie was a meal, every food group would be represented on this plate.

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Inside Moves (1980)

A man crippled from a suicide attempt finds a crew of ragtag friends at a local bar. Great story about loneliness, depression and the power of friends. John Savage rules this movie.

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Interesting note: One of his bar cronies is Harold Russell. The actor is a double amputee that won an Oscar in the 1947 for his portrayal of a returning soldier in "The Best Years of Our Lives".

Butterflies Are Free (1972)

Carefree girl's relationship with a blind musician in swinging 70's Haight-Ashbury. Goldie Hawn is shiny and mesmerizing and rocks it hard in this one. Eileen Heckart is unbelievably perfect as the overprotective mother. This role won Eileen the '72 Oscar.

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3 Oclock High (1987)

Jerry Mitchell must fight the dangerous high-school bully at 3:00 who is dead set on beating him to a pulp. You'll squirm along with Jerry all day watching and trying to avoid the fight. This one doesn't follow the path of your typical high school movie. Way funny, quirky, and a hoot to watch. Don't miss it.

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Thunderbirds Are Go (1966)

The International Rescue team comes to the aid of a sabotaged space launch.
Gerry Andersen's awesome puppets fly all kinds of groovy rockets and land vehicles.
Meticulously crafted sets, vehicles, characters and animation make this a classic. Check out the "swingin" 60s nightclub scene. The puppets have an eerie quality and damn, you know someone who looks just like one of them. Much fun.

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Liquid Sky (1982)

An alien spaceship lands on the balcony of a NYC punk fashion model. Unforgettable soundtrack, imagery and characters. Takes you for a ride. You're either gonna love this one or hate it. Paula E. Sheppard steals it as Margaret's vicious little girlfriend.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Mysterious strangers hover around an attractive widow in the old west.
This is the ever-loving mother of all Westerns. Charles Bronson and Jason Robards are so cool you could rip your hair out. Henry Fonda is precise and nasty. Massive epic of a movie. Has the greatest showdown scene ever in any western. Get all your texting out of the way beforehand, cause it's long, unfolds slow, and is intense every second along the way.

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The Driver (1978)

An expert getaway driver plays cat-and-mouse with a detective. Hell, the leads don't even have names in this movie. Ryan O'Neal plays the driver and Bruce Dern plays the prick detective. Very little talking. Lots of car chases. Much attitude.

Written and Directed by Walter Hill. What's not to like?

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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)

Jackie Chan is a master of drunken boxing who must ingest massive amounts of booze in order to fight well. Mind-blowing fight scenes. Some comedy thrown in. Considered to be Chan's best work. A good solid kung fu film with unbelievable action.

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The Warriors (1979)

The Warriors have to make it back to their Coney Island home turf from the Bronx, while being hunted down by all the other NY gangs. A ton of great action, and some really creepy gangs. Pure fun.

Directed by Walter Hill, which is reason enough to watch it.

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The Baseball Furies

Millennium (1989)

Kris Kristofferson is an investigator trying to figure out why folks are disappearing from airline crashes. Not true science fiction in the purest sense, but totally fun anyway, and Cheryl Ladd too.

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Run Lola Run (1989)

Red-haired German, Lola has 20 minutes to save her boyfriend's life. The film explores 3 different possible endings, depending on the fate of a split-second decision. High action, very entertaining.

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Jacknife (1989)

Crazy Megs pounces back into his Vietnam War buddy's life. Based on an excellent and moving play by Stephen Metcalfe. Robert Deniro, Ed Harris, and Kathy Baker give up some top quality acting. Makes you want to give Ed Harris a big hug and a milkshake. Story is handled deftly and emotionally true by director David Hugh Jones.

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Rollerball (1975)

In the future, corporations rule the world and sponsor a single deadly sport. Jonathan E (James Caan) is the champ. Chilling, with amazing battle scenes. This is your chance to see Sonny Corleone on roller skates. John Houseman as the corporate heavy makes this film. Not just action, this is true science fiction, with a great premise. Norman Jewison rocked it on this one.

Not to be confused with the lousy 2002 remake of this film. Watch the 1975 original.

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Mr. Majestyk (1974)

A melon farmer is harassed by a vicious mobster. One of the top Charles Bronson films. Very nicely paced with great action and solid characters. You absolutely cannot miss out on Al Lettieri's snarling and mean-as-piss performance. His best role ever.

You may remember Al Lettieri as Sollozzo in The Godfather.

Quote: "I want that Melon Picker!"

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The Straight Story (1999)

An aging man decides to ride his lawnmower hundreds of miles on a personal quest. This is such a beautiful and delicately crafted story that just the sight of a wheat combine will trigger the weepy-weepums. A true story. Richard Farnsworth is stellar.

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Downhill Racer (1969)

Robert Redford plays an arrogant pro downhill ski racer. Gene Hackman plays his coach. Brutally great and scary 1st-person downhill ski action. Possibly the best competitive skiing flick out there, and a really good character study. Like many late 60's, early 70's flicks, this one takes its time and shows rather than tells.

"How fast must a man go to get from where he's at"

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Withnail and I (1987)

Awesome and hysterical comedy about 2 unemployed actors in London in 1969. Weary of a bleak lifestyle of squalor, excess substances and lack of work, they decide to take a trip to the country to rejuvenate. 2 great reasons to watch this? Richard E Grant and Ralph Brown as Danny the drug dealer. Also you'll enjoy Richard Griffiths as deliciously creepy Uncle Monty.

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Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru) 2000

A bunch of Japanese 9th grade classmates are put on an island and have to kill each other to be the sole survivor. Most awesome movie.

If you're a US filmgoer, you might remember Chiaki Kuriyama, she's that nasty little schoolgirl from Kill Bill.

Handled just right by director Kinji Fukasaku.
This was one of Quentin Tarantino's top 20 faves from 1992 on.

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