Film Review – LOGAN’S RUN (1976)

Image result for logan's run blu-rayLogan’s Run (1976; USA; Metrocolor; 120m) ∗∗∗  d. Michael Anderson; w. David Zelag Goodman; ph. Ernest Laszlo; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: Michael York, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov, Jenny Agutter, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Anderson Jr. An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at 30. Its basic anti-establishment premise is typical of the decade of it source and promises more than it eventually delivers. Its simplistic message and lack of depth are its key weaknesses. There are moments of merit, however, and technical aspects including production design (by Dale Hennessy) are sound. Won Oscar for Visual Effects (L.B. Abbott, Glen Robinson, Matthew Yuricich). Based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Followed by a TV series a year later, which ran for one season. [12]

Film Review – EYE IN THE SKY (2015)

Eye in the Sky (2015; UK; Colour; 102m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Gavin Hood; w. Guy Hibbert; ph. Haris Zambarloukos; m. Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen, Phoebe Fox, Kim Engelbrecht, Meganne Young. A proposed UK drone strike against Al Shabaab militants is complicated when a young girl enters the kill zone. Efficiently made morality tale about the choices made in the war on terrorism considering the risk of collateral damage and the lives that may be saved through nullifying the threat. Tension is kept high throughout the race against the clock deferment and decision making between the various political and military leaders. [15]

Film Review – CAFE SOCIETY (2016)

Café Society (2016; USA; Colour; 96m) ∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Vittorio Storaro; m. Stewart Lerman (supervisor).  Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Corey Stoll, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Anna Camp, Gregg Binkley, Paul Schneider, Sari Lennick, Stephen Kunken, Sheryl Lee. A young man from the Bronx falls in love with his Uncle’s secretary in Hollywood. He then returns to New York and runs a high society night club. Allen revisits familiar themes of happenstance, misguided relationships and regrets in this sumptuous period piece. There are no surprises in Allen’s screenplay, but it does have its humorous and poignant moments and is not lacking in charm. First-rate production design and gorgeous use of colour, to accentuate the glitz of Hollywood, are real standouts. First time that Allen has narrated a film without appearing on screen since RADIO DAYS (1987). [12]

Book Review – THE DARKEST GOODBYE (2016) by Alex Gray

THE DARKEST GOODBYE by ALEX GRAY (2016, Sphere, 456pp) ∗∗∗½

Blurb: When newly fledged DC Kirsty Wilson is called to the house of an elderly woman, what appears to be a death by natural causes soon takes a sinister turn when it is revealed that the woman had a mysterious visitor in the early hours of that morning – someone dressed as a community nurse, but with much darker intentions. As Kirsty is called to another murder – this one the brutal execution of a well-known Glasgow drug dealer – she finds herself pulled into a complex case involving vulnerable people and a sinister service that offers them and their loved ones a ‘release’. Detective Superintendent William Lorimer is called in to help DC Wilson investigate and as the body count rises, the pair soon realise that this case is about to get more personal than either of them could have imagined . . .

This is the thirteenth book in Alex Gray’s William Lorimer series and is the first that I have read. Although Lorimer is the series’ primary character, this book focuses on newly appointed Detective Constable Kirsty Wilson. Her father is a well-respected DI who is about to retire and Kirsty is initially paired with troubled DS Len Murdoch – who has a gambling addiction and a wife suffering from MS – as her mentor. The mystery surrounds a secret organisation provided assisted death to terminally ill patients for money.  The mystery is well-plotted, but there is little depth to the characters and the lead, Lorimer, is somewhat lacking in charisma. The story, whilst familiar procedural fare, is never dull and is crafted by a writer comfortable in her game.

Director assigned to Shaft reboot

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Tim Story, director of the Shaft reboot..

After over a year of seeming inactivity, there is finally some forward momentum on New Line’s reboot of the Shaft franchise. Tim Story has been assigned as director to the production, which will be based on a script by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow.  Barris is also co-producer with John Davis and Ira Napoliello for Davis Entertainment. As well as directing two Fantastic Four movies, Story has had recent success as a director of comedies including Ride Along 2 and Kevin Hart: What Now? – adding fuel to the fire that this Shaft may be less than faithful to Ernest Tidyman’s creation.

Mike Fleming Jr., writing for Deadline , reports on rumours that the plot may centre on Shaft’s son – thereby taking a similar track to 2000’s Shaft, where Samuel L Jackson played the private detective’s nephew. He says: “I’ve heard the idea is to reinvigorate the franchise with a focus on the son of the cool private eye who always finds himself navigating the gray terrain between the law and organized crime in New York City.”

Film Review – A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S SEX COMEDY (1982)

Image result for a midsummer night's sex comedy blu-rayMidsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A (1982; USA; Technicolor; 88m) ∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis.  Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Julie Hagerty, Mary Steenburgen, Tony Roberts, Michael Higgins, Timothy Jenkins, Adam Redfield, Moishe Rosenfeld, Sol Frieder, Boris Zoubok, Thomas Barbour, Kate McGregor-Stewart. A wacky inventor and his wife invite two other couples for a weekend party at a romantic summer house in the 1900s countryside. Allen explores themes of lust and love in this contrived and whimsical comedy interspersed with funny one-liners and visual gags. Sumptuously photographed country setting makes it a visual treat helping to overcome the narrative faults. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955), which also inspired Stephen Sondheim’s musical “A Little Night Music”. [15]

Film Review – WHITEOUT (2009)

Image result for whiteout 2009 blu-rayWhiteout (2009; Canada/USA/France; Technicolor; 101m) ∗∗∗  d. Dominic Sena; w. Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes; ph. Christopher Soos; m. John Frizzell.  Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Joel S. Keller, Jesse Todd, Arthur Holden, Erin Hickock, Bashar Rahal, Julian Cain, Dennis Keiffer, Andrei Runtso, Roman Varshavsky. A U.S. Marshal tracks a killer in Antarctica, as the sun is about to set for six months.  Antarctic setting adds to the atmosphere of this otherwise familiar genre thriller. Beckinsale is good in the lead, although she remains perfectly presented despite the hostile environment. Generates some tension and thrills despite lack of originality. Based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. [15]

Book Review – THE HIGHWAYMAN (2016) by Craig Johnson

THE HIGHWAYMAN by CRAIG JOHNSON (2016, Viking, 194pp) ∗∗∗½

Blurb: When Wyoming highway patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon, an area the troopers refer to as no-man’s-land because of the lack of radio communication, she starts receiving officer needs assistance calls. The problem? They’re coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago. With an investigation that spans this world and the next, Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear take on a case that pits them against a legend: The Highwayman.

Craig Johnson continues his output of Sheriff Walt Longmire mysteries – which has now stretched to twelve novels, two novellas and a collection of short stories – with this enjoyable novella. The “ghost story” elements give the story an sense of fun and mystery – although the mystery itself is straight-forward and doesn’t really produce any surprises and the scenario is never comedic. This is more about Johnson having fun with his characters with Walt supported by his long-time friend Henry Standing Bear. Their interplay is as witty and affectionate as ever. Whilst the book is never much more than a mild diversion until the next novel, An Obvious Fact published later the same year, it will satisfy fans of Johnson’s writing and characters.

Film Review – HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986)

Hannah and Her Sisters (1986; USA; Technicolor; 103m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Carlo Di Palma; m. Puccini.  Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Michael Caine, Carrie Fisher, Barbara Hershey, Maureen O’Sullivan, Dianne Wiest, Max von Sydow, Lloyd Nolan, Daniel Stern, Julie Kavner, Joanna Gleason, J.T. Walsh, John Turturro, Richard Jenkins. Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah’s husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly. Brilliantly observed portrayal of the lives of three sisters, their relationship with each other and with the men in their lives is amongst Allen’s finest achievements. Sharp and witty script is enhanced by superb performances from the cast. It is a movie that presents its three-dimensional characters in a way that is utterly engaging and believable. Caine, Wiest and Allen (as writer) all won Oscars. [15]