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Picture - Legendary actor Henry Silva walking... West Hollywood, California, Monday 2nd June 2008

Henry Silva Monday 2nd June 2008 Legendary actor Henry Silva walking down Robertson Boulevard West Hollywood, California

Henry Silva

The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Review


Extraordinary
Possibly John Frankenheimer's finest film, The Manchurian Candidate speaks to the Red Scare, the horrors of war, paranoid fears of brainwashing -- all tied in with the game of Solitaire. Frankenheimer owes a lot to George Axelrod's script and Richard Condon's gripping novel, which tells the story of a perfectly brainwashed soldier (during the Korean War), played by Laurence Harvey, who becomes a no-remorse assassin after capture and brianwashing by the enemy. His target and handler are both kept as mysteries until the end, but it's Frank Sinatra as an old war buddy who's suffering terrible nightmares that brings it all to light.

The film, as compelling as it is, is almost undone by Sinatra's performance, which is capable but unequal to his co-stars. Sinatra, of course, had so much power during the making of the film, that he's never really pushed for a good take. As a result, weaker scenes have been left in, presumably due to Sinatra's notorious unwillingness to do retakes. Too bad, because they're needed here badly. It's little matter, though: The Manchurian Candidate's classic structure and breakneck pacing are a perfect match for the movie's incredible story punch to the gut. George Axelrod's script turns Richard Condon's novel into classic cinema. Its suspense is gripping, and its biting political statement (lambasting McCarthyism deeply) is unparalleled in cinema this side of a Michael Moore movie.

Continue reading: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Review

Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review


OK
Implausible yet wholly unforgettable, Ocean's Eleven is as much fun as it is a misogynistic relic of a bygone era. Essentially, the Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Peter Lawford are playing themselves as ex-military playboy buddies who decide to pull off a daring heist on New Year's Eve, robbing five Las Vegas casinos in one fell swoop. As it turns out, the heist itself is kind of a forgettable letdown, as is the aftermath involving an investigation into the matter by Lawford's character's future stepfather (Cesar Romero). Even the setup takes close to an hour, as Billy Ocean (Sinatra) woos his lady and slowly gathers his crew -- all while Martin and Davis provide musical accompaniment. The end result is more than two hours of heist work that would make David Mamet cringe.

So why watch Sinatra and his 10 (not 11) ex-military buddies romp through their kinda town? Ocean's Eleven is the kind of movie you turn on and just hang out to, just like the Rat Pack would have done, as you enjoy a scotch and soda on a Saturday afternoon while Dean Martin croons "Ain't that a kick in the head..." in the background. Then you'd go bowling in an orange sweater to talk about the job. When it's over, you won't feel like you've bettered yourself in any way, but you might feel just an inch of kinship with a bygone era when Vegas was black tie-only and when a woman's place was in a distant, supporting role. (Just kidding, dames.)

Continue reading: Ocean's Eleven (1960) Review

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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Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai Review


Excellent
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai embodies a variety of genres from Mobster to Urban to Martial Arts. Jarmusch, critically acclaimed for Mystery Train (1989) and Stranger Than Paradise (1984), stays true to his uniquely languid and methodical style in telling the fascinating story of Ghost Dog (Forest Whitaker - The Crying Game, Phenomenon), a contract killer who has isolated himself from society by taking refuge in a shack atop an inner city rooftop that he shares with a flock of pigeons.

Ghost Dog studies the early eighteenth century Japanese warrior code from the book, Hagakure: The Way of the Samurai, and the story is told as a sequence of verses from the ancient text. Each morning he bows to the altar he has constructed and practices the ancient disciplines of the samurai training. In the spirit of the ancient warriors, he has pledged his loyalty to a single master, a small-time mobster named Louie (John Tormey - Kiss Me Guido, Jungle 2 Jungle), who saved Ghost Dog's life when he was young. As an assassin, Ghost Dog communicates only via carrier pigeon and moves through the night like a phantom, killing with the skill and speed of a true Samurai.

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Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai Review


Good

Mixing ancient Eastern philosophy with hip-hop street smarts and a Scorsese undercard gangland atmosphere, fiercely independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch paints a strangely serene portrait of a surgical, stealthy and enigmatic hit man in the understated and penetrating "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai."

Deeply immersed in the title role is the stoic Forest Whitaker as an assassin with unshakable focus. A high-tech thief, a loner from a ghetto background, a taciturn savant and a proselyte of 18th Century Japanese warrior code, he performs hits for a mobster (John Tormey, "Safe Men") who once saved his life. But after his most recent job -- killing a mafia turncoat in front of the mob boss' daughter -- he has a price on his head and is forced to eliminate his enemies before they eliminate him.

Jarmusch and Whitaker have conspired to lend a mesmerizing calm to this uncommon story of a violent but internally peaceful life. The simultaneous union and juxtaposition of oil-and-water elements -- the deeply reflective samurai mentality, ghetto life, the mafia honor, a surprisingly light comedic vein and a hardcore rap score by the RZA -- left imagery and axioms tripping around in my head for days after seeing the film.

Continue reading: Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai Review

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