Film Review – TARZAN ESCAPES (1936)

Image result for tarzan escapesTarzan Escapes (1936; USA; B&W; 89m) ∗∗∗  d. Richard Thorpe; w. Cyril Hume; ph. Leonard Smith; m. William Axt.  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, John Buckler, Benita Hume, William Henry, Herbert Mundin, E.E. Clive, Darby Jones. An expedition seeking to bring Jane back to civilization, and Tarzan into captivity, gets more than it’s bargained for. Re-treads themes explored in the previous two movies with an increased emphasis on comic relief – provided by Rawlins and Cheetah – at the expense of jungle action. Production values are strong – notably in the effective swamp cave segment – and the Weissmuller/O’Sullivan chemistry gives the story its emotional heart. Original director, James C. McKay, who filmed many gruesome scenes was replaced by John Farrow and then Thorpe who practically re-shot the entire film. Re-uses footage shot for TRADER HORN (1931) as well as the first two Weissmuller Tarzan movies. Followed by TARZAN FINDS A SON! (1939). [U]

Film Review – UNKNOWN (2011)

Image result for unknown 2011 blu-rayUnknown (2011; UK/Germany/France/Canada/Japan/USA; Technicolor; 113m) ∗∗½  d. Jaume Collet-Serra; w. Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell; ph. Flavio Martínez Labiano; m. John Ottman, Alexander Rudd.  Cast: Liam Neeson, Diane Kruger, January Jones, Aidan Quinn, Bruno Ganz, Frank Langella, Sebastian Koch, Olivier Schneider, Stipe Erceq, Rainer Bock, Mido Hamada, Clint Dyer, Karl Markovics, Eva Lobau, Helen Wiebensohn. A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one, (not even his wife), believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is. Intriguing idea is let down by a hokey script and routine direction. Neeson does his best and brings some class to the proceedings and Ganz is impressive as a German PI with a past. Those willing to accept some of the absurdities of the screenplay may find elements to enjoy. Based on the novel “Out of My Head” by Didier Van Cauwelaert. [12]

Film Review – TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934)

Image result for tarzan and his mate 1934Tarzan and His Mate (1934; USA; B&W; 104m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Cedric Gibbons; w. James Kevin McGuinness, Leon Gordon, Howard Emmett Rogers; ph. Charles G. Clarke, Clyde De Vinna; m. Herbert Stothart.  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O’Sullivan, Neil Hamilton, Paul Cavanagh, Forrester Harvey, Nathan Curry, Doris Lloyd, Everett Brown, Yola d’Avril, Paul Porcasi, Desmond Roberts, William Stack. The idyllic life of Tarzan and Jane is challenged by men on safari who come seeking ivory, and come seeking Jane as well. Follow-up to TARZAN THE APE MAN is another exciting jungle adventure. The action is fast-paced and often gruesome. Weissmuller and O’Sullivan continue to spark well together, whilst the plot was to become over-familiar as the series progressed. The finale with the safari surrounded by hungry lions is extremely tense. Gibbons was replaced as director by Jack Conway. O’Sullivan does not appear as Jane during the film’s famous nude swimming sequence in the restored 116m version, instead is doubled by Olympic swimmer Josephine McKim. Added to National Film Registry in 2003. Followed by TARZAN ESCAPES (1936). [PG]

Film Review – TARZAN THE APE MAN (1932)

Image result for TARZAN THE APE MAN 1932Tarzan the Ape Man (1932; USA; B&W; 100m) ∗∗∗∗  d. W.S. Van Dyke; w. Cyril Hume, Ivor Novello; ph. Clyde De Vinna, Harold Rosson; m. William Axt (musical director).  Cast: Johnny Weissmuller, Neil Hamilton, Maureen O’Sullivan, C. Aubrey Smith, Doris Lloyd, Forrester Harvey, Ivory Williams. A trader and his daughter set off in search of the fabled graveyard of the elephants in deepest Africa, only to encounter a wild man raised by apes. The first talkie Tarzan movie set the bar for what followed. This is an energetic and exciting production. Weissmuller makes an athletic and savage Tarzan superbly conveying a life spent growing up amongst the apes. O’Sullivan is his Jane and their chemistry makes their scenes together playful. Be aware this splendid production is an adult entertainment due to the levels of violence on screen. Based upon the characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Considerable stock footage used from TRADER HORN (1931). Followed by TARZAN AND HIS MATE (1934). [PG]

Film Review – MONA LISA (1986)

Image result for mona lisa blu-rayMona Lisa (1986; UK; Technicolor; 104m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Neil Jordan; w. Neil Jordan, David Leland; ph. Roger Pratt; m. Michael Kamen.  Cast: Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson, Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane, Clarke Peters, Kate Hardie, Sammi Davis, Rod Bedall, Zoe Nathenson, Joe Brown, Pauline Melville, Hossein Karimbeik, John Darling, Bryan Coleman, Robert Dorning. An ex-con gets a job as a driver for a beautiful high-priced call girl, with whom he forms an at first grudging, and then real affection. Dark film explores the seedy side of the London underworld. Hoskins is perfect as a man out of his time and Tyson equally as good. Caine is imposing as the boss of the operation. The film twists in a way inspired by the pulp fiction it openly emulates. Hard-hitting and shocking finale. All backed by Nat King Cole’s timeless hit. [18]

TV Review – DOCTOR WHO: OXYGEN (2017)

Image result for doctor who oxygenDoctor Who: Oxygen (TV) (2017; UK; Colour; 45m) ∗∗∗∗  pr. Nikki Wilson; d. Charles Palmer; w. Jamie Mathieson; ph. Mark Waters; m. Murray Gold.  Cast: Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas, Kieran Bew, Justin Salinger, Peter Caulfield, Mimi Ndiweni, Katie Brayben. The Doctor, Bill and Nardole answer a distress call in deep space, and find themselves trapped on board space station Chasm Forge. All but four of the crew have been murdered – and the dead are still walking! Tense episode benefits from a strong script and Capaldi at his best. The plot is a thinly diguised allegory for corporate greed with its cast of zombified workers having been exploited by the “suits”. The visual effects are very impressive and there is a cliffhanger ending that adds a twist. [12]

Film Review – THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY (1980)

Long Good Friday, The (1980; UK; Colour; 114m) ∗∗∗∗½  d. John Mackenzie; w. Barrie Keeffe; ph. Phil Meheux; m. Francis Monkman.  Cast: Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Eddie Constantine, Dave King, Bryan Marshall, Derek Thompson, Pierce Brosnan, George Coulouris, Paul Freeman, P.H. Moriarty, Daragh O’Malley, Alan Ford, Leo Dolan, Patti Love, Olivier Pierre. A prosperous English gangster, is about to close a lucrative new deal when bombs start showing up in very inconvenient places. British gangster thriller is powered by a charismatic performance from Hoskins and a classy one from Mirren. The tension builds as Hoskins begins to untangle the plot and the finale has one final twist to offer. Only the now dated electronic score by Monkman jars in this otherwise classic genre thriller. First theatrical film role for Pierce Brosnan. [18]

Film Review – JACK REACHER (2012)

Image result for jack reacher 2012 blu-rayJack Reacher (2012; USA; DeLuxe; 130m) ∗∗∗½  d. Christopher McQuarrie; w. Christopher McQuarrie; ph. Caleb Deschanel; m. Joe Kraemer.  Cast: Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Richard Jenkins, David Oyelowo, Werner Herzog, Jai Courtney, Vladimir Sizov, Joseph Sikora, Michael Raymond-James, Alexia Fast, Josh Helman, Robert Duvall, James Martin Kelly, Dylan Kussman, Denver Milord. A homicide investigator digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who shot five random victims. Cruise delivers an excellent performance, despite being miscast, in this well-crafted crime thriller. The plot is involving and the action scenes well-staged. Pike offers strong support as the lawyer and Duvall shows up late in the day to add some class. Based on the novel “One Shot” by Lee Child. The character from Child’s book series is described as 6’5″ tall and weighing between 210 and 250 pounds (Cruise is 5’7″ tall). Followed by JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK in 2016. [15]

Film Review – FUZZ (1972)

Image result for FUZZ BLU-RAYFuzz (1972; USA; DeLuxe; 92m) ∗∗∗  d. Richard A. Colla; w. Evan Hunter; ph. Jacques R. Marquette; m. Dave Grusin.  Cast: Burt Reynolds, Jack Weston, Tom Skerritt, Yul Brynner, Raquel Welch, James McEachin, Steve Ihnat, Bert Remsen, Peter Bonerz, Dan Frazer, Stewart Moss, H. Benny Markowitz, James Victor, Tom Lawrence, Vince Howard. Police in Boston search for a mad bomber trying to extort money from the city. Well-intentioned attempt to bring Ed McBain’s “87th Precinct” novels to the big screen. Colla struggles to find the right balance between serious crime drama and the humour drawn from the everyday police work, by occasionally lapsing into slapstick. The result is a hodge-podge of good and bad execution. Brynner appears all too late as the charismatic villain, whilst Reynolds adopts his usual persona. The result is entertaining but decidedly uneven. Inhat’s final film. Hunter adapted his own novel written as Ed McBain. [18]

Rebus to return to our TV screens

Being a huge fan of Ian Rankin’s Rebus series of crime novels I was delighted to hear today Rankin’s announcement that Eleventh Hour Films have bought the TV rights. The books will be adapted by fellow Scot Gregory Burke and the adaptations are likely to be longer format, given Rankin’s previous comments, than the previous series starring John Hannah and Ken Stott.

Burke says: “It is an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to work on adapting an iconic character like John Rebus for television. As someone who has grown up and lives in South East Scotland, Ian Rankin’s best-selling books provide the perfect material to make a thrilling series about crime in the modern world.”

Ian Rankin adds: “I’m so thrilled and honoured that Gregory Burke is bringing his outstanding storytelling talent to Rebus. As far as I’m concerned it’s the perfect match, allowing the character of John Rebus to emerge in all his complex three-dimensional glory.”

This is great news to celebrate during the 30th anniversary of Rankin’s debut Rebus novel Knots & Crosses.