Anatomy of a Murder (1959)

  
Young soldier Lt. Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara) stands accused of first degree murder, after he shot the man who raped his wife Laura Manion (Lee Remick). Seeking the help of attorney Paul Biegler (James Stewart), Lt. Manion looks to prove that a moment of insanity made him commit the murder. Will he win his case?

  
Well you’ll have to watch and find out. I’m a sucker for a good courtroom drama, and for the most part Otto Perminger’s ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ delivers. It’s got a great cast too, with supporting acts like George C. Scott, who was nominated for an Oscar. The story is gripping to begin with, and you kind of get an idea of what happened, but since Otto Perminger disliked the use of flashbacks, there are no images to go along with Mrs. Manion’s or the Lieutenant’s account of what happened the night of the rape and murder. As Biegler goes around questioning witnesses of the night Laura Manion was raped, you get the idea that he’s fleshing out his case for the defence of Lt. Manion, but you get no real sense of urgency. A better way of telling the story would be if Lt. Manion had already been convicted and was due to be executed. That way you could build the suspense and really create an interesting drama. 

  
It’s not that ‘Anatomy of a Murder’ is a bad movie, far from it. The problem is at a running time of 2hrs 40mins you feel that a lot of what happens is filler. Often this movie is cited as a masterpiece, but I would be inclined to disagree. I’ve seen other courtroom movies that are a lot more engaging and suspenseful than this. James Stewart is always worth a watch, and he brings that sort of naive, everyman charm to the role of Paul Biegler that he does in most movies I’ve watched him in. Lee Remick is stunning as Laura Manion, and it was interesting to see a young Ben Gazzara as I only really remember him from The Big Lebowski and also as the big bad in Roadhouse.

  

If you’re into courtroom movies then there is a lot to like here. However I felt that the 3rd act was lacking and undid some of the good groundwork laid earlier. Interestingly enough James Stewart’s father was so offended by this movie that he took out an advert in a local newspaper telling people not to go and see it. Reason for his offence was that this was one of the first movies to have words like panties, slut, rape and sperm used in a script. The film was also banned in Chicago upon its release. Worth a watch, but there are better legal themed movies out there. 

3/5

JM

  

Advertisements

Run (1991)

  
Charlie Farrow (Patrick Dempsey) is a cocksure law student in Boston, who works part time as a mechanic. When his boss tasks him with driving a Porsche to Atlantic City and get paid $200 for the trouble, he can’t see a downside. On the way however the car breaks down and Charlie is forced to stop off to get it repaired. 

  
Whilst visiting a gambling den, Charlie gets into a disagreement with a fellow gambler, who falls, hits his head and dies in the ensuing struggle. However this ‘gambler’ was the son of a local mob boss. Now Charlie must run for his life from mob enforcers, crooked cops and anyone else looking to claim the bounty on his head. 

  
I have to say I did really enjoy this. Once Charlie has to run, the movie doesn’t let up. Patrick Dempsey plays the part of the cocky Charlie well. Someone who’s mouth seems to get him into more trouble than out of it. Not a great start for a law student one would imagine. Kelly Preston is passable as the gambling den waitress that Charlie must turn to for help. I’ve never really cared much for Kelly Preston and find that she’s a very poor actress, but luckily she doesn’t have much to do here, so it doesn’t really cause too much of an issue. 

  
This is the sort of movie that you would catch on TV late at night. It doesn’t require much thought or investment and sets out to entertain, which to me is what movies are all about. There’s a lot to like in this movie, and it’s easy to see why Dempsey has become a star as he exudes a lot of likeablity here. Recommended. 

4/5

JM

  

I’m Gonna Git You Sucka! (1988)

  
After his brother dies from ‘over golding’ (death from wearing too much gold), Jack Spade (Keenan Ivory Wayans) returns home from the army and moves back to his old neighbourhood. He finds out that Mr. Big (John Vernon) has taken over the city and controls it all. Jack decides to get a crew of aging black heroes from the 70’s to help clean the city up. 

  
Joining Jack’s crew are John Slade (Bernie Casey), Slammer (Jim Brown), Hammer (Isaac Hayes), Kung Fu Joe (Steve James) and Flyguy (Antonio Fargas). Together they work on breaking down Mr. Big’s control on the city. This film spoofs many of the blaxploitation movies from the 1970’s. It’s hilarious and the jokes come thick and fast. The highlight for me was when Flyguy reminisces about the time he won ‘Pimp of the Year’. Seriously funny. 

  
There are lots of cameos from faces many will recognise, even a young Chris Rock shows up in a hilarious scene at a restaurant. Keenan Ivory Wayans wrote and directed the movie as well as starring in it. His younger siblings Damon and Kim also star in minor roles. 

  
Watching the movie it’s plain to see that everyone involved is having fun, and there are some great action scenes spliced with all the comedy. 101 Films have done a good job on the transfer and the film looks the best I’ve ever seen it. I would like to thank the fine folks at 101 Films for providing this to review. You can order it now via the following link: https://101-films-store.myshopify.com/products/im-gonna-get-you-sucka-blu-ray-preorder-28th-sept-2015

4/5
JM
 

Hollywood, Je T’Aime (2009)

  
Jérôme Beaunez (Eric Debets) returns home to find his partner having sex with another man. Initially shocked and saddened, he pokes fun at the fact that his boyfriend is now “bottoming”, to which his boyfriend replies “well I never had the chance to bottom with you.” Jérôme leaves, but not being able to face a winter alone in Paris, he books a trip to Los Angeles with dreams of being an actor. 

  
Once stateside Jérôme meets and makes friends with a colourful bunch of folks who make him feel welcome. It’s then that he meets Ross (Chad Allen) and the two fall for each other, but deep down Jérôme misses his hometown and you feel it will have an effect on his holiday romance. 

  
There are some very funny moments during the movie, but not enough to shake the amateurish feel that permeates throughout. I understand that it was made on a low budget, but it felt at times that I was watching a student movie, which hampered my enjoyment. The chemistry between Jérôme and Ross is believable however and reminded me a lot of the chemistry between Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, which is still one of my favourite movies. You can believe in the romance blossoming between Jérôme and Ross, and would understand that it would transcend mere infatuation. 

  
The supporting cast are humorous, such as Jérôme’s cheating partner, but I felt that they trod the line between reality and stereotype once too often for my liking. Probably not something I’d revisit again, as it just doesn’t hold up to recent gay cinema outings. Be sure to stop by http://www.out.tv and check out what’s on offer. 

2/5

JM 
  

Albert Pyun – Moviemaker 

 Those of you out there that love trashy movies, movies with cyborgs or movies set in post apocalyptic wastelands, then chances are you’ve seen Albert Pyun’s work at least once. My first foray into the work of Albert Pyun was the Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie ‘Cyborg’ back in 1992. I had already been a Van Damme fan at this point, but I loved the whole post apocalyptic setting and after watching it, I set out to find more of Pyun’s work.
  
My next stop was Dollman starring Tim Thomerson, and also an early role for Jackie Earle Haley. This was a crazy movie, with Thomerson as an intergalactic space cop who crash lands on earth. However whereas he is normal size on his home planet, he is only doll size on Earth. After befriending a woman and her son, Dollman must protect them from an angry gang and other enemies that seek to cause them harm. It was great fun with some good effects. Although I must say the effects have aged badly now that we are in the realms of high end CGI. 
  
After Dollman I found out that Pyun had directed a Captain America movie, which I was very eager to see. At the time I remember really enjoying it, but again now that we have CGI and Chris Evans as Cap, it just doesn’t hold up well to repeated viewings. Albert Pyun does well with limited funds, and this is something that is true with all of his movies. He’s a man who’s creativity seeps forth from every frame, and who’s passion for movies is so infectious, that you can’t help but admire the man. He is inspiring because he adapts to whatever restrictions may be placed on him, which is usually in the form of limited budgets. 
  
Brain Smasher: A Love Story was the next film I stumbled across. Andrew Dice Clay stars as a bouncer who has to protect Teri Hatcher from Shaolin Monks. There’s a bit more to it, but that’s the basic gist of the story. It’s not the best film I’ve ever seen, and to be fair probably not something I would watch again anytime soon. That said it was cheap to buy so I can’t complain too much. Only recently have I stumbled across the Nemesis series. So far I’ve only watched the first one, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Oliver Gruner stars as a cyborg cop who is tasked by his boss to find and subdue some cyborg terrorists. It’s pretty basic stuff story wise, but the action and stunts are top shelf and I must say that this is my second favourite Pyun movie, just behind Cyborg with Van Damme. 
  
Another Albert Pyun movie I have recently watched is Mean Guns starring Ice T and Christopher Lambert. It’s about a group of villains gathered together in a prison, forced to fight to the death for $10million dollars. It’s got good action, but the dialogue feels very forced, and Ice T isn’t the best actor in the world. He pretty much seems to play the same character in every movie I’ve seen him in. 
  
I’m happy to say that Albert Pyun is still making movies, but health issues have required him to slow his output down just a tad. I do hope we get to see many more of his movies for a long while yet. He really does dig deep and deliver his best effort, even if the end result isn’t always something you’d watch again in a hurry. It’s that kind of willingness to entertain that I find very admirable, and is why he is a director I have a lot of time for. There are still plenty more of Albert Pyun’s movies out there for me to discover, for that I am both thankful and excited. 
  
I’d like to thank 101 Films for the Nemesis boxset and Mean Guns. They are both available to purchase now via https://101-films-store.myshopify.com/

 
JM