Mini-Review: Sid and Nancy (1986)

Starring Gary Oldman, Chloe Webb, David Hayman, Debby Bishop, Andrew Schofield

Directed by Alex Cox

Expectations: Low.


I wasn’t expecting much going into this. I liked the film, but I found it a bit on the boring side. Gary Oldman is fantastic as Sid Vicious, the definite star of the show. That’s also part of the problem I had with the film though, as he outshines nearly every other actor in it. He seems to embody not just Vicious but the punk ethos itself, while the majority of the rest of the cast looks like they’re playing dress-up at punk rock school. I’m probably being a bit biased here, but I couldn’t get past it while watching the film. Chloe Webb is pretty good as Nancy but she does get pretty annoying. I suppose that was part of the point though, so I can’t complain too much.

The film showcases the relationship of Sid and Nancy and seeks to give Sex Pistol fans an insight into their world. I’m just okay with the Pistols (personally I’m much more into The Clash), and I was okay never knowing anything about them. Obviously that doesn’t make me the target audience here, but I still liked it well enough thanks to the wonderful Oldman performance. Many people involved with the Pistols, including Johnny Rotten, have spoken at length about how inaccurate the film is, that no one should watch it, etc. I don’t have a clue what is true or not, but regardless, it tells a believable version of the tale. For me the film was on the borderline of okay and good, I kept jumping back and forth between 2 and 2 1/2 stars, but ultimately I decided that as the days moved on after watching this, the images in my head did not. Watch it if you enjoy Gary Oldman and want to see his breakout performance. It was shot by Roger Deakins too, so it looks pretty nice.

As a side note to all the Oldman fans: I’d also recommend Stephen Frear’s Prick Up Your Ears. It’s a very good film from the same time frame featuring a great Oldman performance and also starring Alfred Molina.

Coincidentally, my colleague Dan the Man has also recently watched this one and has got some thoughts up. Go check out his take on it!

Crazy Heart (2009)

Starring Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Jack Nation

Directed by Scott Cooper

Expectations: High.


Crazy Heart tells the story of Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges), an alcoholic country singer whose career is on the decline. We enter his life as he pulls into the parking lot of his next gig: a bowling alley. The last time I saw Bridges at a bowling alley were the final moments of The Big Lebowski, so this was a nice place to start the film for me. I’m sure it wasn’t lost on a lot of other viewers as well. He eventually meets up with a young reporter (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and strikes up a friendship. The heart of the film lies within this relationship. Maggie Gyllenhaal has never looked more beautiful on-screen than she does here and she displays a deep talent for creating a believable character.

I was shocked to learn that this is the debut feature from Scott Cooper. It is a very well-made film with crisp, beautiful cinematography. The film is set all across the American Southwest and it looks gorgeous. The wide, expansive landscapes made me long for a good road trip and the bar interiors perfectly captured the heartbroken neon feeling that local bars always gives me. I look forward to what he comes out with next, because if it’s as well shot as this was, it’ll be something special.

Continue reading Crazy Heart (2009) →

The Road (2009)

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael K. Williams, Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron

Directed by John Hillcoat

Expectations: Very high.


I’ve been looking forward to this movie for way too long. My mind-hype was allowed to fester and there’s no way that the film could have lived up to that kind of expectation. It was originally slated to release late 2008 but got pushed back a few times, ultimately releasing over a year later in November 2009 to a limited number of screens. Whenever a film is pushed back to this degree, I always get apprehensive about its worth, but in this case it seems that the delay was more for post work and to (unsuccessfully) optimize Oscar potential, so I still expected it to be great.

The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, but as I haven’t read it yet I can’t offer any sort of adaptation notes. The story follows the journey of a man and his boy in a world devastated by an unnamed catastrophe. There isn’t a defined plot other than the standard apocalypse fare of “Let’s get to the coast, I hear it’s OK there.” This works for the film as the point of it all is to examine the father/son relationship during an incredibly tough time where survival and primal instincts are the only constants. The father (Viggo Mortensen) struggles to keep himself and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) alive and away from the other survivors. As the apocalyptic events wiped out most life on Earth, including plants and animals, most people have resorted to cannibalism of those weaker than them. This is established at the opening of the film as Mortensen is forced to kill a man and he later finds his head and entrails under an overturned truck.

Continue reading The Road (2009) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Dragon Lives Again (1977)

The Dragon Lives Again [李三腳威震地獄門] (1977)
AKA Deadly Hands of Kung Fu

Starring Bruce Leong, Shin Il Lung, Eric Tsang, Alexander Grand, Siu Tien Yeung

Directed By Law Kei


Oh man, do you remember that time when Bruce Lee fought Chuck Norris in the Roman Coliseum? Yeah, that was great! How about when he beat that guy with the claw on his hand in that hallway full of mirrors? Classic stuff!  Yes sir, that guy was a true legend. Hey, that reminds me of another one… do you remember that time Bruce Lee went to hell, confessed infidelity, fought James Bond and the Exorcist, made friends with Caine from Kung Fu, and helped Popeye beat a bunch of mummies?

Hi folks. My name is Uncle Jasper and I am a film critic.

Sometime after the death of Christ and before the dawn of the Reagan Empire, some Chinese guys got together and made a movie called The Dragon Lives Again. This remarkable documentary attempts to chronicle the years following Bruce Lee’s death and his adventures in hell during that period. The film goes to great lengths to convey to the viewer the size of Bruce Lee’s gigantic cock, and includes a heartfelt, personal apology to his wife Linda for all the years of banging hundreds of women with said cock.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: The Dragon Lives Again (1977) →

Ghoulies (1985)

Starring Peter Liapis, Lisa Pelikan, Michael Des Barres, Jack Nance, Peter Risch, Tamara de Treaux, Scott Thomson

Directed by Luca Bercovici

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Ghoulies… where do I begin? Uncle Jasper suggested that I continue in the 1980s “Little Monster” horror genre with this and I willingly agreed. I thought I was doomed. How can a movie with a poster of a Ghoulie (would that be Ghouly?) popping up out of a toilet with the tagline of “They’ll get you in the end!” possibly be any good? I am happy to report that the film is as awful as I suspected, but it is equally hilarious. This is by far one of my favorite B-horror comedies. Ghoulies is pure delinquent fun of the highest order.

This is an ’80s movie through and through, and lest you forget, it contains many things only present in films of this decade. Things such as a house party where someone starts breakdancing, dudes wearing sweater vests, and a guy looking over his sunglasses at stuff. It brings me back to my youth when the Big League Chew was plentiful and absolutely no one was cooler or more badass than Mr. T. Anyway, Ghoulies! The title is a bit of a misdirection as the Ghoulies are present, but not the main focus of the film. They aren’t even the main villain, but they are definitely the main source of enjoyment. This works to the film’s advantage because it takes on a different formula than the tired, typical horror movie structure where the Ghoulies might chase people around and kill them one-by-one. Instead, we are treated to a warlock summoning Ghoulies to hang out with him and laugh at the camera. I’m getting ahead of myself again though.

Continue reading Ghoulies (1985) →

A Fork in the Road (2009)

Starring Jaime King, Josh Cooke, Missi Pyle, Daniel Roebuck, Silas Weir Mitchell, Rick Overton, William Russ

Directed by Jim Kouf

Expectations: Low. The trailer looked awful, but I gave it a shot.


I took a chance on this movie. I watched the trailer for it a long time ago, probably a year back, and thought it looked horrible. It was obviously shot on video and from what I remember of the trailer there were a lot of people yelling at each other. I generally would have written this movie off immediately as a Coen Bros. rip-off but when I saw it on Netflix Instant and I was in a forgiving mood, I decided to give it a go and put all of my preconceived notions aside. Surprisingly, I’m not sorry that I did.

A young child hangs out of a car window, playing with a fork. He drops said fork and where does it land? Well, dear readers, it lands in the road. Along comes a police cruiser transporting the convict Will Carson. It hits the fork in the road, flips and Will makes his escape. He hides out in a barn and notices some suspicious behavior at the house across the way. A woman drags a man’s body out of the house and struggles to put him into the trunk of a car. From here, as you can probably guess, hijinks ensue.

Continue reading A Fork in the Road (2009) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Clones of Bruce Lee (1977)

The Clones of Bruce Lee [神威三猛龍] (1977)

Starring Bruce Le, Dragon Lee, Bruce Lai, Bruce Thai, Jon T. Benn, Bolo Yeung-Tze

Directed By Joseph Kong


If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then I guess that answers the age old question of how much flattery it takes to beat the shit out of an army of grass chewing bronze men … Ha! That’s right, three times as much! It’s 1977 now, a year after both of our previously reviewed films, and I guess a year is all it took to suck dry what little integrity there was left to begin with in Bruce Lee exploitation cinema.

Bruce Lee is dead and an urgent call is placed by the SBI (that’s the Special Bureau of Investigations to all you civilians out there). They need the blood of Bruce Lee, and they need it fast… It’s kind of disturbing that the government was lying in the wings, waiting for Bruce Lee to die so they could implement this master plan, but I guess when the world is threatened by the evils of gold trafficking, noble sacrifices must be made. A mysterious man known only as “The Professor” is contracted by the SBI to synthesize three clones from the salvaged blood. The three Bruces all take turns wearing a salad bowl on their heads as the professor prepares them for training. He christens them Bruce Lee 2, Bruce Lee 3, and Bruce Lee 1 (in that order).

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: The Clones of Bruce Lee (1977) →

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