Executive Producer Guy Ritchie's influence is more than slightly evident in first time feature director Barry Skolnick's style. You get the requisite mini music videos, a camera which refuses to sit still, shots that don't appear on screen for more than a few seconds (what ever became of the art of composition?), and an abundance of stylized violence tossed in for good measure. Many of Ritchie's regular actors are along for the ride too, such as Jones (who's actually asked to do more than just wear his patented steely glare), Blackwood, Jason Flemyng, and most notably Jason Statham, as martial arts savvy psychopath Monk.
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Blow-Up, released in America in 1966, marked a departure. It was filmed in English and in color, and, it aspired to something like a plot: a photographer in swinging London (David Hemmings) uncovers evidence of a possible murder in the background of a series of pictures he's taken of a couple in a park. (De Palma's 1981 Blow Out is an obvious homage: A sound man records evidence of a murder on tape while recording ambient sounds.) Initially he's intrigued, since this event carries so much more gravity than the activities of his daily life, such as photographing models, driving around in a sports car, and off-handedly buying expensive antiques. But as the clues dry up, his interest does too. And having lost interest (after most of the prints are stolen), he simply throws the last print away.
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Jack (Michael Caine) has recently died, leaving in his wake a widow, two children, and three close friends. His last wish is that lifelong companions Vic (Tom Courtenay), Lenny (David Hemmings), and Ray (Bob Hoskins) throw him out to sea at the honeymoon spot he shared with wife Amy (Helen Mirren). His son, Vince (Ray Winstone), joins them.
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Crazed scientists are farming humans as "blood cows" in an attempt to give eternal life to their elderly, semi-vampiric patrons. The story focuses on captive Kate (Chantal Contouri), who is brought into the farm in order to marry the leader of the cult and fulfill some destiny or another.
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Of course, there's a plot you need to suffer through to marvel at the stunt casting, and it involves a presumably true story about Sinatra being wooed to visit Australia in 1974 by a two-bit promoter. Getting him Down Under is only half the fun. Once he arrives, Frank -- in his inimitable way -- insults a reporter (Portia de Rossi) by calling her a whore. Aussie's native sons rise to defend her, and over 100 unions go on strike to ensure Frank won't be able to eat, drink, travel, or take a shower -- much less perform on stage. Hilarity ensues as our promoter friend (Joel Edgerton) tries to patch things back together, dealing with his own love life along the way.
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"Last Orders" is a humorous and human, intelligent and emotional movie about the ups and downs of lifelong friendship and about living long-term with decisions, mistakes and regrets of youth. It's exactly the kind of movie adults are wishing for when they complain nobody makes movies for adults anymore -- and it's a simple but wonderful example of how good grown-up movies can be.
Based on a Booker Prize-winning novel by Graham Swift, half the film stars Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay and David Hemmings as three old pub pals on an afternoon's road trip to take a fourth buddy's ashes to the sea at a low-end English resort. The other half takes place in flashbacks that establish the history of this foursome who saw each other through 50 years of workaday trials, including war, love, parenthood, financial woes, marital woes and more.
Michael Caine takes center stage in these flashbacks as the fourth friend who passed away before the film began -- a butcher named Jack who always tried to remain jolly in the face of life's petty and not-so-petty adversities. Married too young due to a pregnancy (in an even further-back flashback) -- but to a girl he absolutely loved (played in her graying years by the wonderful Helen Mirren) -- Jack always kept his chin up, even as his butcher shop struggled and his son Vince grew resentful over family secrets that made him feel like an outsider.
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Adapted from a comic book chock full of literary allusions but summer-movie-ized for the Cliff's Notes set, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" is predictably packed with flash and completely devoid of life.
A turn-of-the-20th-century action flick that tries to evoke an antediluvian "Batman"-ish atmosphere with dark, overzealous production design, this convoluted dud stars Sean Connery as famous fictional British explorer-adventurer Allan Quartermain, who is persuaded to recruit a cadre of period legends to help bring down a terrorist organization bent on starting a world war.
The team consists of Jules Verne's submariner Captain Nemo (Naseeruddin Shah), H.G. Wells' Invisible Man (Tony Curran), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Jason Flemyng), "Dracula" vampiress Mina Harker (Peta Wilson), Oscar Wilde's portrait-dependent immortal Dorian Gray (Stuart Townsend) and a yee-haw Secret Service agent named Tom Sawyer (Shane West) -- yes, that Tom Sawyer -- who was shoe-horned into the script to Americanize the story for U.S. audiences.
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