David Hemmings

David Hemmings

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Camelot Review


OK
The King Arthur story got its most audacious telling in Camelot, the primary theatrical inspiration for Monty Python and the Holy Grail, what with all the tights and the singing. The story sticks closely to the Once and Future King archetype, with Arthur (Richard Harris) facing betrayal from Venessa Redgrave's Guinevere (here often "Jenny") and #1 knight Lancelot (Franco Nero). The film really starts to pick up when the evil Modred (David Hemmings) enters the scene, though we're nearly two hours into the three hour opus by that point, and a lot of patience has been lost to the dim imagery and wandering first half.

Mean Machine Review


Weak
Paramount Classics is eager to inform you that Mean Machine, a remake of Robert Aldrich's 1974 film The Longest Yard, is from the same people who brought you Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Given the expectations this creates, it's no surprise that what's delivered is diverting, fast paced and, of course, violent. In the end Mean Machine is also utterly disposable, but goes down quickly and painlessly. Danny Meehan (Vinnie Jones) is an ex-soccer (football to you Brits) star, who finds himself serving a three-year prison sentence after drunkenly assaulting two policemen. When Meehan arrives at jail, he discovers that the prison governor (David Hemmings) has his mind set on the man taking over coaching duties of the guard soccer team. The plan is undermined by the fact that the guards won't allow a prisoner to be their coach, and several of them explain their feelings to the new celebrity convict in no uncertain terms. A lunchroom scuffle leads Danny to a stay in solitary confinement, where he is presented with an idea by a fellow inmate named Massive (Vas Blackwood): Tell the governor that you are going to build a team of prisoners to square off in a game against the guards. Meehan takes the advice and with the help of Massive and seen-it-all prison veteran Doc (David Kelly), assembles a makeshift squad for the monumental event. But if you thought Meehan's troubles ended there, you are sorely mistaken. He also has to contend in a power struggle with the leader of the inmates, Sykes (John Forgeham), whose authority in the prison outweighs that of the governor. There's also a matter of a notorious incident from Meehan's past when he "threw" an important soccer match in order to pay off a large gambling debt. Meehan braves all of the obstacles and eventually prepares his athletically crude unit, now known as The Mean Machine, a bit too well in the eyes of the governor, who has placed a huge wager (thanks to a tip by the double crossing Sykes) on the team of guards to try and pay off his own debt to a bookie. When the prisoners take a lead in the no-holds-barred match, the governor demands that Meehan revisit his game-throwing tendencies.

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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Deep Red Review


OK
Dario Argento pops out one of his more accessible yet still obtuse thrillers with Deep Red, in which a psychic is murdered (she shoulda seen it coming!) and the ensuing investigation ends up with body after body piling up. The inimitable David Hemmings steals much of the show, but it's Argento's trademark candy-red blood, appearing here in copious volumes, which really turns the stomach.

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Blow-Up Review


Grim
The mid- to late-'60s were a heady time for art cinemas in America. While Hollywood was still saddled with content restrictions that forbade nudity, sex, and other bankable cinematic ingredients, less puritanical cultures like those of France, Italy, and Sweden were turning out highbrow features that played to the id and the intellect at the same time. At the art house, America pondered the role of faith in contemporary society, the bankruptcy of emerging cultural mores, the meaning or meaninglessness of life, and the breasts of European starlets. A new galaxy of superstar directors was introduced to audiences, and among its ranks was Italian Michelangelo Antonioni, who burst on the scene in 1960 with an amazing debut, L'Avventura. With a name like his, the proceedings were bound to be a little arty, and indeed the film was an open-ended, nearly plotless examination of the lives of the idle rich. In the films that followed -- especially La Notte and L'Eclisse -- Antonioni's style emerged as one in which characters wandered about, mankind's deepest emotions were rendered merely fashionable, and the lives on the screen were examined with the blankest imaginable gaze. And there was the frank approach to sex, too, and that helped keep audiences coming.

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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Last Orders Review


Good
It's a shame there are so few films out that realistically portray male bonding, possibly for fear of assuming an underlying current of latent homosexuality. The oft-neglected theme is pleasantly explored in Last Orders, a journey of three old pals who must bury the fourth of their circle. Unfortunately, while admirable in intent, it also follows several predictable plot patterns that are only saved by the talented cast.

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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Slap Shot 2: Breaking the Ice Review


Unbearable
I never saw the original Slap Shot [okay, I finally saw it -CN], but I just don't think the minor 1977 Paul Newman sports classic had hapless hockey players shilling their talents for a phony "entertainment" hockey league (think the Harlem Globetrotters). Complete with a bastard league owner (Gary Busey) and a woman coach (Jessica Steen) and just about every other cliche in the sports movie book, Slap Shot 2 isn't much more than Major League on ice... with all the humor stripped out of it.

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Thirst Review


OK
It's the Soylent Green of the horror genre.

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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All The Way Review


Weak
Dennis Hopper as Frank Sinatra? It's a crazy idea, but not as wild as you might think. From a distance, Hopper bears a striking resemblance to the older, chunkier Frank. And whoever's doing the singing for him reasonably approximates a blend of Hopper's voice with Sinatra's.

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 Review


OK

"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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The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Review


Terrible

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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David Hemmings

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