Ian Bannen

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The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965) Review


Excellent
This exciting and underseen film features James Stewart at the top of his late-career game, offering the far-fetched yet strangely compelling tale of a group of air crash survivors who, trapped in the Sahara Desert and with no other options in sight, decide to build a miniature plane out of the giant air hulk they crashed in. Sure, the odds of crashing your plane with a flotilla of tools, jet fuel, pressed dates, and a welding apparatus -- but without a working radio or much water -- isn't exactly believable, but somehow director Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen) makes it work, and work well. Will this bizarre contraption really work? It's two and a half nail-biting hours during which personalities violently crash, schemes are hatched, and a career-making secret is revealed.

Continue reading: The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965) Review

Braveheart Review


Excellent
Mel Gibson deserves a lot more credit than I've been giving him. A few years ago, no one could have conceived that the action star could pull off the lead role in a dazzling, epic, historical adventure-thriller-romance, let alone direct it. But he does, making Braveheart a vastly entertaining and powerful film.

Gibson plays Scottish hero William Wallace, a Scotsman with simple roots who finds himself thrust into a role as leader of the Scottish revolt against England in the late 13th century. After the despicable King Edward the Longshanks (Edward I) decrees that English nobles will have the right to sexual relations with all newly-wed Scottish women, the revolution is set in motion. Wallace takes up the cause, only to find himself facing incredible odds against a superior English army and fighting Scottish nobles who want to negotiate peace instead of fight. In fact, it's the nobles who turn out to be the bigger obstacle.

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Gorky Park Review


OK
America's obsession with all things Soviet gave us this movie, the inevitable mystery set in the snow-shrouded, fur-hatted land of Russia (though actually shot in Helsinki). With William Hurt and Lee Marvin in the lead roles, it's hard to see how this film could go wrong, and yet it does, quite horribly. Joanna Pacula is wooden in her first movie appearance, as a Russkie ingenue who basically knows everything about why there are three bodies in a Moscow park with their faces ripped off, though she isn't talking to the cops (led by Hurt). Ultimately a mystery is revealed, and boy is it a doozy: it involves fur coats! If I ever have to hear the phrase "the sables" again I think I'll shoot myself. Hopelessly dated and morose -- and much is lost from the bestselling novel.

The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965) Review


Excellent
This exciting and underseen film features James Stewart at the top of his late-career game, offering the far-fetched yet strangely compelling tale of a group of air crash survivors who, trapped in the Sahara Desert and with no other options in sight, decide to build a miniature plane out of the giant air hulk they crashed in. Sure, the odds of crashing your plane with a flotilla of tools, jet fuel, pressed dates, and a welding apparatus -- but without a working radio or much water -- isn't exactly believable, but somehow director Robert Aldrich (The Dirty Dozen) makes it work, and work well. Will this bizarre contraption really work? It's two and a half nail-biting hours during which personalities violently crash, schemes are hatched, and a career-making secret is revealed.

Continue reading: The Flight Of The Phoenix (1965) Review

Taliesin Jones Review


Good
Not quite a religious film, not quite a coming-of-age story, not quite a kiddie flick, and not quite a supernatural horror movie, Taliesin Jones's identity crisis nonetheless reveals a sweet examination of one child and his thoughts on God.

A Welsh lad, young Taliesin (John-Paul Macleod) suddenly takes an interest in religion when his doddering neighbor and local kook Billy (Ian Bannen, Waking Ned Devine) miraculously heals a stooped woman's back by laying his hands upon her. A skeptical Taliesin is likewise healed of his ugly warts, thanks to Billy's powers (and, therefore, God's powers) -- or did they just go away on their own?

Continue reading: Taliesin Jones Review

Waking Ned Devine Review


Very Good
With more naked Irishman than any other film this year, Waking Ned Devine is a pleasant and breezy comedy about a tiny Irish village and its one Lotto-winning resident, who dies after the shock of winning. A scheme is cooked up to collect the winnings in his stead. Happy comedy. Light on the finish, though.
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Taliesin Jones Movie Review

Taliesin Jones Movie Review

Not quite a religious film, not quite a coming-of-age story, not quite a kiddie flick,...

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