Archive for the ‘Movies M-P’ Category

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When raising the dead, just follow the rules: “The Other Side of the Door”

March 3, 2016

 

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Well, it’s Oscar time again, and apparently the movie gods felt the best way to honor this hallowed event was to dump a couple of movies into my local theaters that could only owe their existence to a need to show how great the nominees are by comparison. Or maybe it’s the Universe’s way of saying, Yea, on this weekend as we behold some of the best examples of the art form, know thee that there’s still an awful lot of crap out there, and, hey, let’s face it: they can’t all be Spotlight. So, instead this weekend I took in The Other Side of the Door–which suggests that maybe bringing the dead back to life could be a bad idea.
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Son of a gun, gonna have big fun down at the bayou: “No Mercy”

October 27, 2015

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I think in the 1980s there was some kind of an epidemic of partners being murdered. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure the only reason any homicides were solved at all in the ‘80s was because a cop’s partner was the victim. Like, 90% of the police work being done was in service of avenging a partner. Fortunately, avenging one’s partner allows for some pretty wide latitude (stealing from undercover FBI agents, invading Japan, etc.) In this, 1986’s No Mercy is a pretty straightforward example of the genre, notable only for its leads and the respective trajectories of their careers.
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Arliss Howard also pwns! “Plain Clothes”

October 14, 2015

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This is the latest in my “pwns!” series in which I extol the virtues of under-recognized or under-appreciated actors. Previous installments covered Stephen McHattie and Bob Hoskins.

And now for a different Seattle cop story…

I suppose I’ve been seeing Arliss Howard in stuff for decades, but I never really noticed him until his amazing turn as the ice-blooded former spook Kale Ingram in the late, lamented Rubicon. With his laid-back style and flatter-than-the-topography-of-Illinois Midwestern accent, Howard manages to simultaneously anchor and enliven any scene he’s in. So when I discovered he starred in a little-seen 1987 comedy about a detective that goes undercover in a suburban high school, well, I don’t know what deity I need to make a pagan offering to, but this goat’s sure not gonna sacrifice itself.

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Maybe he should have ridden into that sunset a little earlier: “McQ”

October 14, 2015

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So, here’s an obscure little artifact: a gritty ‘70s urban thriller called McQ starring John Wayne. Never heard of it? Well, don’t fret. You don’t exactly having a gaping chasm in your cinematic knowledge base. I mean, there’s a reason why when you think of John Wayne’s iconic roles, the irascible Seattle PD Lieutenant Lon McQ doesn’t exactly leap to mind. A big part of that is because this movie sunk without a trace from the cultural landscape. And a big part of that is because when I say “irascible” what I mean is “seemingly irritated to be there.”
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They’re here…again: “Poltergeist (2015)”

October 4, 2015

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Back in my 2012 review of the original Poltergeist, I noted that that it was somewhat strange that a movie as popular as that one hadn’t yet been remade, repurposed, or otherwise strip-mined. And then I spun a whole bunch of theories why that’s the case that I mostly pulled out of my butt after a couple of Blue Moons. Well…um…(cough)…yeah, I was wrong about that—as you may have surmised from my use of the modifier “original” in the first sentence. Indeed, Poltergeist is the latest attempt by Hollywood to never create anything original ever again.
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Repost: “Poltergeist”

October 4, 2015

Of all the mysteries that surround Poltergeist—the identity of the actual director, the rash of deaths that’s followed the film series—the most confounding may be how dramatically it fell off the cultural radar. Consider the other movies from that summer alone: Conan, and The Thing got remakes, Escape from New York and Rocky III got sequels, Star Trek II got both sequels and a remake, and E.T. is still considered a landmark in summer films. These are signs of the profound effect they had on the cultural landscape. Yet despite Poltergeist’s massive popularity it never went much farther than a couple of lousy, little-known sequels. And yet, the film was a massive hit that had everyone squeaking “They’re here…” for years afterward. So what happened?
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Mirror, mirror on the wall…why are you trying to kill my family? “Oculus”

October 8, 2014

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Mirrors are horrifying, right? Well, no. No, they’re really not. They’re just sort of there. They reflect us in all our imperfections, and…uh…aw screw it. They’re just mirrors. Making a mirror terrifying is a pretty tough row to hoe—making any inanimate object terrifying is tough; t’s why there are more movies about zombies than, say, haunted power-drills—and yet Oculus probably comes as close as you can get. It’s not enough, but, hey they get an A for effort.
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