Film Review – THE WILD GEESE (1978)

Image result for the wild geese 1978Wild Geese, The (1978; UK/Switzerland; Eastmancolor; 134m) ∗∗∗  d. Andrew V. McLaglen; w. Reginald Rose; ph. Jack Hildyard; m. Roy Budd.  Cast: Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Roger Moore, Hardy Kruger, Stewart Granger, Jack Watson, Frank Finlay, Jeff Corey, Winston Ntshona, John Kani, Jack Watson, Kenneth Griffith, Barry Foster, Ronald Fraser, Ian Yule. A British multinational seeks to overthrow a vicious dictator in central Africa. It hires a band of (largely aged) mercenaries in London and sends them in to save the virtuous but imprisoned opposition leader who is also critically ill and due for execution. Whilst this action thriller may be littered with cliches and weighed down by a by-the-numbers script, there is still much to enjoy. The lead performances are strong and the action sequences well directed. Some clumsy and dated handling of the racial politics aside this makes for diverting viewing. Based on the novel by Daniel Carney. Followed by WILD GEESE II (1985). [15]

TV Review – KOJAK: THE CHINATOWN MURDERS (1974)

Image result for kojak season twoKojak: The Chinatown Murders (TV) (1974; USA; Technicolor; 95m) ∗∗∗  d. Jeannot Szwarc; w. Jack Laird; ph. Vilis Lapenieks, Sol Negrin; m. John Cacavas.  Cast: Telly Savalas, Michael Constantine, Sheree North, Tige Andrews, Roger Robinson, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson, George Savalas, Leonardo Cimino, Milton Selzer, Robert Ito, Victor Argo, Vincent Baggetta, Patrick Adiarte, Val Bisoglio. A series of gang-member murders in Chinatown starts a war. Kojak finds out that those murders were blamed on rival gangs in order to take over the territory from old families by a new gang. This feature-length episode opened Kojak’s second season. Despite attempts to inject some scope through its plot, the story is really nothing more than standard TV fare, albeit heightened by Savalas’ charismatic performance and a lean script. [PG]

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]