Tag: kirk douglas

MOVIE REVIEW | Tough Guys (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s an outright hilarious, and not always deliberately so, take on 50s and 80s stereotypes. ”

Tough 1
“We’ll steal the whole Goddamn train and ride it to Mexico.”

The best thing about modern entertainment technology is, we have absolutely everything at out fingertips.  Pretty much any movie I have ever heard of is a few mouse clicks away, or streaming right into my telly when I want to watch it.  The worst part is, we have absolutely everything at out fingertips.  When there are things out there you know you’ll love, there’s no need to ever take a risk on something you know little about.  But when I was a kid, having only four TV channels meant often having to settle for whatever was on.  That meant sitting through some real shit bombs, but it also mean stumbling across movies that I love to this day.  Movies like Tough Guys.

30 years before the movie starts, Archie (Kirk Douglas) and Harry (Burt Lancaster) became legends as America’s last train robbers.  Caught and convicted, they spent three decades in the clink and are finally released.  Fish out of water in a world that moved on, their legend has faded and almost disappeared, and they’re no longer the young, good time gangsters of the 50s.  They’re old men in a new, 80s world.  A world where Harry is forced into mandatory retirement and Archie has to take a minimum wage job pouring frozen yoghurt for spoilt kids.  All the while, veteran cop Deke (Charles Durning) is convinced they’ll reoffend, and is determined to be there when they do.  Also on their tail is a vengeful, shotgun wielding half blind man (Eli Wallach) with a score to settle. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Final Countdown (1980)

Countdown 1
“I have a suspicion history will be a little more difficult to beat, than you imagine Mr. Lasky.”

Sometimes, a movie needs nothing more than bat shit crazy, one line description, and I know I have to see it as soon as possible. “Nazis on the moon” made me see Iron Sky. And even though it was a bit shit, it’s a premise so crazy and cool sounding that if they made a sequel, I’d be in the audience. “A modern aircraft carrier is sent back in time to stop the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor”. Not quite as pithy as “Nazis on the moon”, but still more than enough to make me track down a copy of The Final Countdown as soon as I learned of its existence.

40 years after the Second World War, the state of the art and loaded to the hilt US aircraft carrier the USS Nimitz is making its way through the Pacific with a fleet of other American naval ships. Captained by Matthew Yelland (Kirk Douglas), and with a civilian observer (Martin Sheen as Warren Lasky) onboard, they encounter a strange storm. When the storm passes, the Nimitz is alone, with the rest of the fleet nowhere to be seen. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AUSSIE WEEK 2*** The Man From Snowy River (1982)

Snowy RIver

“It changes so suddenly. One moment it’s paradise, the next it’s trying to kill you.”

Sometimes a movie is so iconic, I just assume I’ve seen it before.  When I was a kid, The Man From Snowy River seemed like the biggest Aussie movie in history.  It had spawned a sequel, a TV show and the image of a dude riding a horse down a really steep hill is one of the most recognisable images in Australian movie history.  But the thing is, I recently realised that I’d never actually seen the movie.  I’m not sure how it passed me by, because I think watching it was compulsory in the 80s, but I somehow got away with it, until now.

It’s latish in the 19th century, and Jim (Tom Bulrinson) and his dad Henry (Terence Donavan) have a farm in the mountains somewhere in the Australian bush.   One night, they see a band of wild horses lead by a black stallion.  Henry wants to shoot the leader, but Jim convinces him that they should catch the horses, break them and sell them.  The next day, they give it a bash, and Henry is killed in the process. While mourning his father, Jim is told by some locals that while he may have inherited his father’s land, he hasn’t earned the right to it yet.  For some reason, Jim takes that to heart and heads to the low country for a bit of the ol’ coming of age. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Out of the Past (1947)

Out of the Past

“All women are wonders, because they reduce all men to the obvious.”

The 40s was an awesome time for the hard boiled, no shit taking leading man.  A time when Humphrey Bogart was at his peak, making classics like Casablanca, The Big Sleep and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  Movie’s built around men who’d been hardened by betrayal and heartbreak, but were still susceptible to a specific kind femme fatale who they knew was bad news, but got caught up with them anyway.  When I found out there was a movie in that vein, with its hard boiled, no shit taking leading man played by Robert Mitchum, I knew I had to see Out of the Past.

Jeff (Mitchum) owns a service station in a small, podunk California town in the middle of nowhere, living the quiet life with his best girl, Ann (Virginia Huston).  A quiet life that is disrupted when Joe (Paul Valentine) happens to drive through town.  You see, Joe knows Jeff from the old days, when he was a ‘Detective’ for crime boss Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas).  Through a confession to Ann, we get a flashback to Jeff’s past. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #81. Spartacus (1960)

 “The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
“Don’t give them the pleasure of a contest. Lower your guard, I’ll kill you on the first rush.”

I’m not a big Stanley Kubrick fan (get used to reading that as I make my way through this this AFI list).  I know movie nerds aren’t supposed to think that, but I just can’t see what all the fuss is about.  I love Dr Strangelove and really like Full Metal Jacket.  But I think A Clockwork Orange is way too impressed with itself, I think The Shining is low rent horror dressed up to look like something more important, and I think 2001: A Space Odyssey is a boring mess.  But for some reason, I had always assumed I’d like Spartacus.  I just needed this AFI countdown  to finally make me watch it.

According to the opening narration, “In the last century before the birth of the new faith called Christianity, which was destined to overthrow the pagan tyranny of Rome and bring about a new society, the Roman Republic stood at the very center of the civilized world.” Working on a salt mine (goin’ down, down), Spartacus (Kirk Douglas) attacks a guard and is put in chains. But it’s that kind of spirit that captures the attention of Batiatus (Peter Ustinov), a slave trader who trains and sells gladiators. Soon, Spartacus is at Batiatus’ academy where he quickly proves himself to be a promising warrior.

As a reward one night, Spartacus is treated to a night with one of Batiatus’ female slaves, Jean Simmons as Varinia. And, of course, they fall in love. When Roman senator Marcus Licinus Crassus (Laurence Olivier) arrives, he demands some gladiatorial entertainment and decides to also buy Varinia. After being forced to fight men who have become his friends, Spartacus vows to escape. Soon, he has the support of his fellow enslaved gladiators (including Tony Curtis as Antonius) and is destined to lead an army much bigger.

I thought I’d like Spartacus, and I was right.  I think, from a Kubrick angle, I like it because it’s pretty straight forward and simple film making.  Obviously it’s big and elaborate in its epic scope, but it’s told in a very normal way.  No tricks, cheap gimmicks, or pseudo intellectual wankery, which are the things that turn me off movies like A Clockwork Orange and 2001.

It also doesn’t hurt that Kirk Douglas is one of Hollywood’s greatest badasses.  Like Burt Lancaster and Robert Mitchum, Douglas comes from a time when manliness and masculinity meant something different than they do today.  Sure, those bygone definitions included a little too much sexism and misogyny, but it’s a kind of masculinity that you need to pull off in a movie like Spartacus.  There’s no forced emotional motivation like killing Rusty Crowe’s family in the monumentally shit Gladiator.  The only motivation Spartacus needs is his pride.  He’s a man, and he’s not gonna eat Roman shit anymore.  Simple.

The story goes that Kubrick clashed a lot with Dalton Trumbo, the screenwriter of Spartacus.  Because of that unpleasantness, Kubrick demanded complete control on every movie he made after this.  All that says to me is, Kubrick worked best when he was under at least some restraint.  If Stanley Kubrick left completely to his own devices means Barry Lyndon, or Eyes Wide Shut, I’ll take the hamstrung Kubrick of Spartacus any day.  Which means I also have to assume that Dr Strangelove and Full Metal Jacket were just lucky flukes.

Directed By – Stanley Kubrick
Written By – Dalton Trumbo

Academy Awards
Best Supporting Actor – Ustinov
Best Art Direction
Best Cinematography
Best Costume Design