Category: Celebs

“Reptile” (2023) starring Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Eric Bogosian, Alicia Silverstone & Domenick Lombardozzi / Z-View

Reptile (2023)

Director: Grant Singer

Screenplay: Grant Singer, Benjamin Brewer, Benicio del Toro from a story by Grant Singer, Benjamin Brewer

Stars: Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Eric Bogosian, Alicia Silverstone, Domenick Lombardozzi, Frances Fisher, Ato Essandoh, Mike Pniewski, Catherine Dyer, Michael Beasley, James Devoti and Matilda Lutz.

Tagline: Shed the Lies

The Plot…

When real estate agent Summer Elswick (Lutz) is brutally murdered, Detective Tom Nichols (del Toro) and his partner, Detective Dan Cleary (Essandoh) get the case.  As they dig into the murder several suspects begin to appear.  There’s Summer’s boyfriend, Will Grady (Timberlake), co-owner of the real estate company she worked for.  The murder victim’s ex-husband also looks good for it.  Then there’s the guy who thinks Grady was responsible for his father’s death.  Maybe he did it to get revenge.

The twisted truth is there.  Nichols will just have to dig through the lies and alibies.  He won’t like what he discovers.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Reptile features an excellent cast.

  • Benicio del Toro always brings his “A” game.
  • Justin Timberlake surprised me.  He plays the boyfriend of the murder victim.  The guy’s just drained due to her death… or is he?
  • Alicia Silverstone is great as del Toro’s sexy wife.  She appears to be devoted and in love.  But is she?
  • I love when Domenick Lombardozzi shows up in a movie/series.  I first took notice of him in Tulsa King.  Then I went, “Yeah, that’s the guy from…”  Lombardozzi is always solid.
  • Eric Bogosian,  Frances Fisher and Mike Pniewski are in smaller, but important roles.  They are welcome additions to the cast.

Hats off to director and co-writer Grant Singer for creating a murder mystery populated by characters that all feel real.  Singer handles the action and quiet moments well.  I look forward to his next project.

Reptile (2023) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“No One Will Save You” (2023) written & directed by Brian Duffield, starring Kaitlyn Dever / Z-View

No One Will Save You (2023)

Director: Brian Duffield

Screenplay: Brian Duffield

Stars: Kaitlyn Dever, Zack Duhame, Geraldine Singer, Dane Rhodes.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Brynn (Dever) is a young woman living on the outskirts of a small town.  A tragic event turned many of those in town against Brynn. Now she suffers from anxiety and is a bit of a recluse.  When Brynn wakes one night to discover that aliens are invading, she realizes that to survive, she will have to save herself.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Hats off to Brian Duffield who wrote and directed No One Will Save You.  The film is engaging from the start.  Duffield knows how to tell a story.  He chooses interesting camera angles and shots.  Duffield’s scares don’t rely on jump takes and he knows how to create tension.

No One Will Save You is basically a one woman show.  Thankfully, Kaitlyn “Justified” Dever is up to the task.  She was excellent.  Dever’s performance is even more impressive taking into account there are less than ten words spoken in the entire movie.

Stephen King said this about “NO ONE WILL SAVE YOU: Brilliant, daring, involving, scary. You have to go back over 60 years, to a TWILIGHT ZONE episode called ‘The Invaders’ to find anything remotely like it. Truly unique.”

I agree with everything Stephen King wrote.  If you feel a “but” coming, you’re right.  No One Will Save You is all that Mr. King said…

…BUT, movies are sometimes like trips.  It’s not about the destination, but the journey.  Where No One Will Save You fell short is the ending. I didn’t hate how the film concluded, but for me, it was a step below everything that came before.  The ending provides plenty to think about and discuss.  I loved everything up to the end.  I hope that doesn’t put potential viewers off watching No One Will Save You, because the journey is worth the trip.

No One Will Save You (2023) rates 3 of 5 stars.

“The Most Dangerous Game” (1932) starring Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks & Robert Armstrong / Z-View

The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack, Irving Pichel

Screenplay: James Ashmore Creelman based on “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell

Stars: Joel McCrea, Fay Wray, Leslie Banks, Robert Armstrong, Noble Johnson, Steve Clemente and James Flavin.

Tagline: Arresting, strange and terrible in the story of the polished Russian sportsman who lured ships to their doom…then drove the male survivors into his inland jungle, to be hunted down like animals!

The Plot…

Bob Rainsford (McCrea) is a well known big game hunter on a ship traveling near an uncharted island.  The ship hits something that causes it to quickly begin sinking and explode.  Bob swims to the island only to discover he is the sole survivor.

Bob is surprised to find a huge house owned by Count Zaroff (Banks).  Zaroff welcomes Bob into his home. The Count introduces Bob to Eve (Wray) and her brother Martin (Armstrong). Eve and Martin survived an earlier ship wreck and made it to the island.

Count Zaroff is pleased to have the pleasure of hosting Bob Rainsford, the famous big game hunter.  Zaroff explains that he is also a hunter. Zaroff claims to have hunted every kind of animal and was getting bored until he discovered “the most dangerous” game.

When Bob and Eve are alone, she says that two sailors who survived their shipwreck have gone missing. Bob shares his belief that the ships were sunk on purpose.  As Eve and Bob go through Zaroff’s mansion they stumble onto his trophy room.  To their horror, they discover that Count Zaroff hunts humans.  They will soon be his prey.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

The Most Dangerous Game and King Kong share a lot in common.  Both films were produced by Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack.  Ernest B. Schoedsack co-directed both movies. Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, James Flavin and Noble Johnson appeared in both films.  Both movies used the same sets!

“The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell has been adapted and used as inspiration for countless movies.

A preview of “The Most Dangerous Game” contained a more detailed look at Count Zaroff’s trophy room.  It featured mounted human heads, heads in bottles and stuffed full figures of men Zaroff had murdered.  When several in the preview audience walked out, the scene was shortened.

Beware of bad copies. The Most Dangerous Game (1932).  Iy fell into public domain and there are some shoddy prints out there.

The Most Dangerous Game (1932) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“Argylle” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Deal me in!

Don’t let the cat out of the bag. #ArgylleMovie, in theaters February 2, 2024.

Argylle Only In Theaters February 2

— The greater the spy, the bigger the lie.

From the twisted mind of Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman franchise, Kick-Ass) comes Argylle, a razor-witted, reality-bending, globe-encircling spy thriller.

Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World franchise) is Elly Conway, the reclusive author of a series of best-selling espionage novels, whose idea of bliss is a night at home with her computer and her cat, Alfie. But when the plots of Elly’s fictional books—which center on secret agent Argylle and his mission to unravel a global spy syndicate—begin to mirror the covert actions of a real-life spy organization, quiet evenings at home become a thing of the past.

Accompanied by Aiden (Oscar® winner Sam Rockwell), a cat-allergic spy, Elly (carrying Alfie in her backpack) races across the world to stay one step ahead of the killers as the line between Elly’s fictional world and her real one begins to blur.

The top-flight ensemble cast features Henry Cavill (The Witcher), John Cena (Fast X), Oscar® winner Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Grammy winning pop superstar Dua Lipa (Barbie), Emmy winner and Oscar® nominee Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Emmy winner and comedy icon Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek), Sofia Boutella (Kingsman: The Secret Service), and the legendary Samuel L. Jackson. Alfie is played by Chip, the real-life cat of supermodel Claudia Vaughn (née Schiffer).

Argylle is directed and produced by Matthew Vaughn, from a screenplay by Jason Fuchs (Wonder Woman). The film is produced by Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling (Kingsman franchise), Jason Fuchs, and David Reid (Kingsman franchise). The executive producers are Adam Fishbach, Zygi Kamasa, Carlos Peres and Claudia Vaughn.

Apple Original Films presents, in association with MARV, a Cloudy production. Argylle is distributed by Universal Pictures.

“Memory” starring Liam Neeson & Guy Pearce / Z-View

Memory (2022)

Director: Martin Campbell

Screenplay: Dario Scardapane based on De Zaak Alzheimer by Jef Geeraerts, Carl Joos, Erik Van Looy

Stars: Liam Neeson, Guy Pearce, Taj Atwal, Monica Bellucci and Ray Stevenson.

Tagline:  His mind is fading. His conscience is clear.

The Plot…

Alex Lewis (Neeson) is a hitman.  Lewis has early stage Alzheimer’s.  Lewis has been forgetting things. His memory is getting worse.  Vincent Serra (Pearce) is an FBI agent on the Child Exploitation Task Force.  While Lewis and Serra should be at odds, they find themselves working together to bring down a protected child trafficker.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

I was expecting a lot more from Memory.  Martin Campbell directed Casino, one of my favorite James Bond movies.  Campbell’s two lead actors, Liam Neeson and Guy Pearce elevate any production they’re in.  Taj Atwal, who I hadn’t seen before, was also a welcome addition.  With that said, Memory wasn’t the action-thriller I was hoping for.  It was what you’d get if you were expecting a by the numbers hitman/cop movie.  Memory won’t leave most of the viewing audience with many good ones.

Memory (2022) rates 2 of 5 stars.

“Runaway Train” (1985) directed by Andrey Konchalovskiy, starring Jon Voight, Eric Roberts & Rebecca DeMornay / Z-View

Runaway Train (1985)

Director: Andrey Konchalovskiy

Screenplay: Djordje Milicevic, Paul Zindel, Edward Bunker based on a story by Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni (uncredited),Ryūzō Kikushima

Stars: Jon Voight, Eric Roberts, Rebecca De Mornay, Kyle T. Heffner, John P. Ryan, T.K. Carter, Kenneth McMillan, Edward Bunker, Reid Cruickshanks, John Bloom, Danny Trejo, Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister, Dennis Franz and Hank Worden.

Tagline: Once it starts, nothing can stop it!

The Plot…

Stonehaven Maximum Security Prison is located in the remote Alaskan wilderness.  “Manny” Manheim (Voight) is a hardened convict. For the last three years Manny has lived in solitary confinement at the order of  Warden Ranken (Ryan).  Rankin hates Manny because he is a hero to the other inmates, is an escape risk (two attempts so far) and he cannot be broken.  When a court order forces Rankin to release Manny from solitary, Rankin’s hatred for Manny grows.

Soon Manny has a plan for escape.  Manny and a young convict named Buck (Roberts) make it out.  In a rail yard, they see a train of four cars slowly pulling away.  Once on board, Manny and Buck think they’re home free.  When the engineer has a heart attack, the train continues to pick up speed, burning off the brakes in the process.  Now Manny, Buck and one other person yet to be discovered are on a runaway train.  There’s no way to stop it,  Jumping from the train would be suicide.

Let the action begin!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Runaway Train was nominated for three Academy Awards:

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: Jon Voight
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Eric Roberts
  • Best Film Editing: Henry Richardson

Akira Kurosawa originally planned to make Runaway Train in the 1960s!  His intended stars were Lee Marvin and Henry Fonda.  The script was dusted off in 1982 and Cannon Films backed the revised movie.

Runaway Train features the film debuts of Danny Trejo and Tim “Tiny” Lester.  Dennis Franz also appears uncredited as a cop.

Danny Trejo got the job thanks to Eddie Bunker.  Bunker recognized Trejo who was on set visiting a production assistant.  Both Trejo and Bunker (who co-wrote and appears in the film) served time together at San Quentin. Bunker got Trejo a job as an extra and boxing coach to Eric Roberts.  Trejo said that the $320 a day salary was more than he ever made from any of his robberies.

Runaway Train features my favorite performances by Jon Voight, Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay.  John P. Ryan is great as the sadistic warden.  Kudos also to Andrey Konchalovskiy for his amazing job in helming a dramatic action-thriller with heart.

Runaway Train (1985) rates 5 of 5 stars.

RIP: David McCallum

David McCallum died yesterday at the age of 90.

David McCallum’s parents were professional musicians. For a while it appeared that David might follow in their footsteps.  He studied music for a short time.  After serving in the British Army’s 3rd Battalion (he was born in Glasgow, Scotland), Mr. McCallum attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.

David McCallum had been getting roles in both television and feature films when his breakout role came. He was cast as Russian agent Illya Kuryakin in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Although the show was conceived as a showcase for Robert Vaughn to play a James Bond-like spy, the audience loved the chemistry between Vaughn and McCallum.  David McCallum was elevated from occasional guest to the show’s co-star.  Critics also loved Mr. McCallum in this role.  He was nominated for two Emmy awards during the series four year run.  The Man from U.N.C.L.E remained so popular that in 1983, David McCallum returned to the role for a television movie titled, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E..

David McCallum’s popularity was such that he released four record albums during the run of The Man from U.N.C.L.E..  Unlike many stars of the era, Mr. McCallum did not sing on his records.  Instead he wrote some of the compositions, conducted their arrangements and played various instruments as well.

After The Man from U.N.C.L.E ended Mr. McCallum continued to act on television and in feature films.  In 2003, he earned the role of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard on the popular series NCIS.  He was a cast member until his death.

Some of David McCallum’s television appearances include: The Rose and the Ring (3 episodes); Our Mutual Friend (10 episodes); The Eustace Diamonds (6 episodes); Emma (5 episodes); Armchair Theater (2 episodes); The Travels of Jamie McPheeters; Perry Mason; The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (105 episodes); The Outer Limits (2 episodes); Please Don’t Eat the Daises; Night Gallery; Marcus Welby; The Six Million Dollar Man; Frankenstein: The True Story; Colditz (26 episodes); The Invisible Man (13 episodes); Kidnapped (13 episodes); Sapphire & Steel (34 episodes); Hart to Hart; The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.; As the World Turns; The A-Team; Matlock; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; The Return of Sam McCloud; Murder, She Wrote (2 episodes); Masterpiece Mysteries (3 episodes); Cluedo (6 episodes); Trainer (23 episodes); Law & Order; The Outer Limits; Sex and the City; The Education of Max Bickford (9 episodes); JAG (2 episodes); The Replacements (67 episodes); NCIS: New Orleans (2 episodes) and NCIS (457 episodes).

Some of David McCallum’s feature film appearances include: Hell Drivers; A Night to Remember; Billy Budd; The Great Escape; The Greatest Story Ever Told; The Spy with My Face; The Spy in the Green Hat and The Watcher in the Woods.

My favorite David McCallum role is on The Man from U.N.C.L.E..  Like all the kids my age, we thought he was the coolest.  The fact that Mr. McCallum was so popular playing a Russian spy at the height of the cold war is amazing.  I am also in awe of the fact that David McCallum was able to stay a working actor for decades. That is a testament to his acting ability.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to David McCallum’s family, friends and fans.

“The Out-Laws” (2023) starring Adam Devine, Nina Dobrev, Pierce Brosnan & Ellen Barkin / Z-View

The Out-Laws (2023)

Director: Tyler Spindel

Screenplay: Evan Turner, Ben Zazove

Stars: Adam Devine, Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin, Nina Dobrev, Michael Rooker, Richard Kind, Julie Hagerty, Lauren Lapkus, Lil Rel Howery, Dean Winters and Mo Gallini.

Tagline: None

The Plot…

Owen Browning (Devine) is about to marry the love of his life, Parker McDermott (Dobrev).  The plans are set when Owen and Parker learn that Parker’s estranged parents are going to be able to attend after all.  While there can be difficulty when two families come together, the greater the differences, the more likely the problems.  Owen’s parents are straightlace, a bit out of touch and like Owen, a bit nerdy.  Parker’s parents are hip, cool and thrillseekers.

Things are complicated when Owen’s bank (he’s the manager) is robbed by the famous Ghost Bandits duo.  Unfortunately for Owen he begins to believe his future in-laws are out-laws.  And he ain’t wrong!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

The Out-Laws is a high concept film.  Think Meet the Parents meets Bonnie and Clyde.  It has an excellent cast with Adam Devine, Pierce Brosnan, Ellen Barkin, Nina Dobrev, Michael Rooker, Richard Kind and Julie Hagerty. And they help make The Out-Laws an okay way to spend an hour and a half.  The truth is the cast deserved better… as did the audience.

The Out-Laws (2023) rates 2 of 5 stars.