2011 a look back – part four

…and so we reach the final quarter, and with the last three months, some gems appeared and a few not so gem-like…. enjoy.

October  – December

October started off with the enjoyable but underwhelming Scream 4 that considering the long gap between that and the last movie, delivered clever ideas, but not much new.  Revisiting the Star Wars saga continued with four of the six movies being viewed and reviewed, which was exhaustive to say the least, but very memorable … and documentary-style sci-fi drama Monsters impressed with great performances and a very convincing atmosphere.

Drive Angry was a fun road-movie come horror actioner, with a great Nicolas Cage and a sexy-as-hell Amber Heard.  Not a bad way to start off November.  Justine Timberlake made for a credible action hero in sci-fi thriller In Time, and Spanish chiller Julia’s Eyes delivered tension, good performances and brilliantly executed scares.  It was great to view The Lion King again, in pin-sharp Blu-ray, and also a second viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds proved it to be a better movie than I had originally realised.  The Strangers however was disappointing and predictable, and really, the premise was done better in French horror Ils (aka Them).

December kicked off with David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet, a creepy and erotic masterpiece.  It was good to see Terry Gilliam back on form with The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, which proved he’s lost none of his bonkers brilliance.  And although I usually avoid remakes, The Thing showed that revisiting a classic and throwing in a few new ideas and a good cast, can make it work.  On Christmas Eve I checked out the much hyped Super 8 which despite aiming for 80s family movie nostalgia, just felt old-fashioned and lacking in its own identity.

So, now you must be asking yourself, with all these movies in mind, what will make the final Top Ten.  Well, you will just have to wait until later today.  Happy New Year!!

Drive Angry

Viewed – 06 November 2011  Blu-ray

As has often been said, Nicolas Cage seems to take any movie role that’s given to him.  The former Oscar-winning actor now seems very happy as a for hire genre actor, more often than not in the kind of movies that would normally go straight to DVD if it wasn’t for his name.  This is one such movie … but not one you should pass by too quickly.

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Season of the Witch

Viewed – 28 August 2011  Blu-ray

Nicholas Cage may well be one of the most prolific actors around, even if these days stand-out roles seem to pass him by, and he’s not really the star he once was.  That being said he always seems to lend a likable and infinitely watchable persona to every role he takes on, so sitting down to this was an easy choice.  He plays a heroic crusader turned deserter who along with his friend, fellow crusader Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Blade 2), they stumble upon the transportation of a suspected witch in a local village where a dying cardinal (an unrecognisable Christopher Lee) wishes her to be taken to a group of Monks so she will be given a trial.  A plague has also gripped the land, and those in charge believe the witch is responsible.  Cage & Perlman on the other  hand would rather give her the benefit of the doubt.

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Bad Lieutenant

Viewed – 09 April 2011  Blu-ray

Port Of Call: New Orleans

With a title like that you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a cheap rushed to DVD sequel to the classic Abel Ferrara movie of the same name, then starring Harvey Keitel as the drug taking, corrupt Cop investigating the rape of a Nun.  This however see’s Nicholas Cage as a similar drug-taking Cop with seriously controversial methods of law enforcement investigating the murder of a family in the slums of New Orleans, six months after Hurricane Katrina. 

Yet this is no cheap cash in, and with a back-on-form Cage making a return to the crazy-method actor genius he showed in the likes of Wild At Heart and Leaving Las Vegas, this is anything but a straight sequel neither.  You could call it a remake, but it doesn’t exactly delve into the dirty grimy territory of its namesake but for a couple of moments, and mostly its a vehicle for Cage to show everyone he’s still got it.  Directed by seasoned veteran Werner Herzog, this accomplished drama also offers up some commendable acting from the likes of Eva Mendes as Cage’s prostitute girlfriend and rapper Xzibit as a wealthy gang boss, as well as a script, that although offering nothing that gripping as far as plot goes, is sprinkled with dark humour, surrealism and great dialogue.   It felt a touch overlong, and I think it would have benefited from some tighter editing, but as it stands and as a Cage fan, I can’t help but give this a high recommendation.

Verdict:  4 /5