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Showing posts from March, 2018

Countdown (1968)

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All great directors start somewhere.  Often, that is the only reason anyone really knows a movie exists.  Duel is an okay made-for-television film, but for all the killer car movies that came after it, it would largely be forgotten today if it was not for Steven Spielberg getting his start with it.  Even Stanley Kubrick started off a pulpy bit of noir called Killer's Kiss, which really isn't on anyone's list of classics.

With Countdown we get to see Robert Altman in his feature film debut.  He had done television and industrial films before, but here he gets to direct a rather staid, and sometimes dull, film about the impending moon landing.  Still, he and his cast do wring some life out of it despite the budget limitations and the fact that not a lot happens until about the last third.

Chiz (Robert Duvall) is set to become the first man on the moon as NASA's Apollo project comes to its fruition.  However, the Soviets manage to do a successful orbit of our satellite a…

Bright (2017)

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While there are many advantages of the platform that Netflix pioneered - from being able to stream shows and movies to not having to worry about running up late fees if you forget to turn the tape or DVD back into the store - one of the things I have missed from the past were direct-to-video films.  As the drive-in and bargain theaters slowly faded away b-movies needed another outlet, and video stores were definitely it.

Honestly, most large studios won't take the chances of putting something with a limited audience in the theater, and many chains won't fill up one of their theaters with something like Bright when it's one more room they can jam a number of people into to see the newest Marvel offering - especially when the movie's director is one of the many responsible for dragging the competing DC universe through the muck.  After practically destroying the franchise with Suicide Squad, trying to convince the usual Hollywood machine to back an overly expensive pulp…

The Lost Continent (1968)

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Saturday mornings as a kid in the 1970s and 1980s was great.  While I did like some cartoons, what I always waited for was a show on KPHO (now a CBS affiliate, but back then an independent station) called The World Beyond.  Opening with the sounds of Jon and Vangelis's "Curious Electric", and featuring a spinning galaxy, it featured everything from old Universal horror films to Godzilla vs. everything.  Sure, there were things to do outside, but they could wait.

That's not to say everything I ever saw on there was of the greatest quality.  They played the Hammer and American International films as well (edited slightly for content, of course), and that even included the lesser efforts, like The Lost Continent.  The last time I could remember seeing it was at my grandparents' cabin in Payson, and this was probably when I was 11 or 12.  I had seen it before, and it wasn't any better that time around.  The only thing that stuck with me over the years was the th…

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

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If there is one thing a Cold War is good for it is spy thrillers.  That is why even the newer James Bond films are left hurting for convincing villains.  Communism, at least the way it was practiced behind the Iron Curtain, was the anathema of everything modern Western civilization stood for.  You didn't need a moustache-twirling Snidely Whiplash when you had at your disposal a hive mind of political fanatics that spit bullets and political dialectic equally.

We now know that things were more than a little different than we thought, but the outrageous fear both sides had for each other (usually based on exaggerated claims themselves or individual bad actors) made for some great stories.  Even to this day, if you want to do a spy story right, setting back in the days of the Cold War (like the television show The Americans).  There is only so much shadowy organizations like SPECTRE or Hydra can do on their own, after all.

This new version of John Le Carre's classic espionage no…