Relativity Media

Directed by Neil Burger

Produced by Leslie Dixon and Ryan Kavanaugh

Screenplay by Leslie Dixon

Based on the novel “The Dark Fields” by Alan Glynn

LIMITLESS is the latest entry in what I call Genie Movies.  You know how this goes: Our Hero finds a bottle containing a genie.  He opens it up and the genie proceeds to give Our Hero everything he wants.  Women, money, fame, the ability to hit perfect home runs, a mint condition copy of “Fantastic Four” #1.  But then the downside kicks in and Our Hero realizes that the consequences of his wishes get him into trouble.  So he makes more wishes to correct the mistakes of the previous wishes and that gets him into even worse trouble.  And then he gets the bright idea of wishing the genie back into the bottle and then the real horror of his situation punches him dead in his eye: once the genie is let out of his bottle, there’s no way to put him back in.

Our Hero this time around is Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) an alcoholic writer who is on the verge of having to return his book advance because he’s spending more time at the local pub talking about his book rather than writing it.  His girlfriend Lindy (Abby Cornish) leaves him.  Not because she doesn’t love him but because he has no ambition, no direction, no focus.

One day while on his way to the bar, Eddie runs into his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth) and over drinks, Eddie pours out his tale of woe.  Amazingly, Vernon has the proverbial bottle with a genie in it.  In this instance the genie is a small clear pill that is a new drug, NZT-48.  A drug Vernon claims will make Eddie smarter.

Eddie figures he’s got nothing to lose and so pops the pill.   Four days after that he’s finished his book.  Eddie’s more focused than he’s ever been.  He can remember everything he’s ever seen, heard or read in his life.  Google googles him for information.  His increased deductive reasoning abilities make him capable of looking at you and telling what you had for breakfast, lunch and dinner a year ago.  And best of all, he is able to use his newfound intelligence to discern significant patterns in massive amounts of otherwise seemingly unrelated information.  This enables him to amass a tremendous fortune playing The Stock Market.

Such spectacular success brings him to the attention of quite a few folks.  There’s Carl Von Loon (Robert DeNiro) a ruthless businessman involved in a potentially world changing energy deal.  Von Loon quickly makes it clear that if Eddie isn’t working for him, then he ain’t working.  Then there’s a strange guy wearing a tan coat that seems to be everywhere Eddie is.  And there’s Gennady (Andrew Howard) a Russian mobster who gets his hands on a tab of NZT-48 and likes what it’s doing to him.  And wants more of it.  A lot more.

And if that wasn’t enough, his daily ingesting of the drug is apparently having side effects.  He’s losing whole days and there’s the possibility he may have killed someone during one of his blackouts.  By now, not only can he not put the genie back in the bottle, said genie is quite enthusiastically kicking him in his ass.  His NZT-48 enhanced intelligence got him into this but can it get him out?

I knew the basic premise of LIMITLESS going in but I didn’t know it would be so much fun.  It actually starts off like a comedy and gradually shifts gears as the story gets darker and more serious.  And it’s done so smoothly that before you know it you’ve gone from laughing to flinching.  Especially during the really bloody resolution to one of Eddie’s problems.

A large part of what makes this movie so interesting to watch is the very original visual style the director uses to show how the drug is working on Eddie.  Those of you reading this who are writers will probably be just as tickled as I was at the scene where Eddie’s writer’s block is broken and the words start flowing.

Bradley Cooper is really coming along as an actor.  He’s a good-looking guy but he’s not afraid to come off looking really greasy and cruddy looking as he does in the beginning of this movie.  He looks nothing like the Eddie he becomes once he starts taking the drug.  I kinda liked that as it gave the movie a sort of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde vibe to Eddie.  Robert DeNiro is really cool in this movie as he never tries to steal a scene or make a scene of his more than what it’s supposed to be.  If anybody’s a scene stealer in the movie, it’s Andrew Howard.  Watching how NZT-48 works his magic on him is hilarious and bone-chilling at the same time.

So should you see LIMITLESS?  Absolutely.  It’s a thriller that does exactly what a thriller is supposed to do: thrill.  And does it in dynamite style.  Enjoy.

105 minutes


Battle: Los Angeles


Columbia Pictures

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman

Produced by Jeffrey Chernov and Neal H. Moritz

Written by Christopher Bertolini

Much of the creative entertainments we enjoy are done according to formula, agreed?  Why is such practiced, especially in movies?  Because there are certain movie formulas that are guaranteed to work no matter if the movie is made in 1959 or 1977 or in 2011.  Criticizing a Western for having gunfights at high noon, horses and buffalos is kinda silly because when you watch a Western you have certain expectations of what you’re going to see.  After all, isn’t that why you’re watching a Western?  Because you know the formula, you just want to see them played out in a different mix, is all.

Now, as my dear Aunt Lottie would put it; I say that to say this: I’ve read reviews criticizing BATTLE: LOS ANGELES for being a cliché war movie.  Not that the reviews are wrong.  In fact, it is a cliché war movie.  This is exactly the same kind of movie John Wayne and Audie Murphy were making back in the 40’s and 50’s except the enemies were German and Japanese soldiers, not aliens.  In fact, this could have been a war movie set in Afghanistan or Iraq as that’s how it’s played out: as a modern day war movie.  The only exceptional thing about the enemy is that they come from Outer Space and not Over There.

Meteors land in the waters off major coastal cities.  And inside the meteors are spacecraft containing hostile alien soldiers that swiftly spread into the cities, killing every human in sight.  They make no effort at communication and are not interested in taking prisoners for anal probing.  They’re simply and efficiently going about the job of exterminating the human race.

Marine Staff Sergeant Nanze (Aaron Eckhart) is forced to put off his retirement as he has to replace a platoon sergeant for an important mission.  The platoon he’s assigned to has to rescue civilians from an LAPD station within three hours.  That’s when the Air Force is going to carpet bomb the area.  The platoon commander, Lt. Martinez (Ramon Rodriguez) is kinda leery about Nanze.  The Staff Sergeant is a good Marine, no doubt about that.  But a lot of rumors about Nanze’s last mission have been floating around Camp Pendleton that he doesn’t like.  But orders are orders and so the platoon is off on their mission.  One that swiftly goes wrong as they are ambushed time and again by the relentless alien invaders.

All that you can get just from the TV commercials and the trailers.  BATTLE: LOS ANGELES isn’t trying to make you think it’s going to be one thing, then get you in the theater to find out it’s something else.  It’s about a platoon of Marines trying their best to survive against an enemy they never dreamed they’d be facing.  The movie is as brutally uncomplicated as a cast iron skillet upside the head.  Before the invasion, we get brief vignettes of the various platoon members and they each are a proven War Movie Type: The Green Lieutenant Who Has No Combat Experience.  The Virgin.  The Heroic Black Guy.  The Soldier With A Dark Past.  The Soldier Who Choked Under Fire And Fears He’s A Coward.  And as you watch each one of their vignettes, go ahead and play the game of Who Gets Killed And In Which Order.

So what’s right about the movie?  Aaron Eckhart, who I’m convinced is incapable of turning in a bad performance.  He plays his role as if he’s assuming you’ve never seen a War Movie before.  Michelle Rodriguez surprised me in this one.  Usually she plays one of two roles: The Pissed-Off Latina With Bigger Balls Than Any Man or The Really Pissed-Off Latina With Bigger Balls Than Any Man.  But in this movie she dials her usual anger way back and comes off more as a person and less like a stereotype.

I also liked how we never really get to know the aliens or why they’re here.  Oh, there’s some kind of technobabble about them needing our resources but it’s really not necessary.  They’re The Enemy and that’s all we need to know.  The aliens are tough mollyfoggers but they’re not indestructible.  They’re worthy adversaries for the platoon.

What didn’t I like?  That damn shaky-cam.  The use of it renders the firefights a jumble of meaningless images.  The use of shaky-cam in this movie is so bad that in the first two firefights I could swear that the entire platoon was wiped out and I was honestly surprised when everybody regrouped alive and well.  Once the action starts, the Marines are difficult to tell apart.

So should you see BATTLE: LOS ANGELES?  Definitely.  It’s the very essence of a summer popcorn movie.

116 minutes


Blade Runner: The Theatrical Version


Warner Bros.

Directed by Ridley Scott

Produced by Michael Deeley

Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples

Based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick

There’s a good reason why BLADE RUNNER is still hailed as a masterpiece of science fiction/neo-noir/detective pulp filmmaking today.  It’s just that good.  This is the movie; along with “Alien” released two years earlier defined the look and feel of science fiction movies for the next thirty years.  BLADE RUNNER is innovative in a lot of ways but most of all in the way it presented the future.  Of course, for us living in 2011 which isn’t so far away from the 2019 depicted in the movie we can get a chuckle at how far off the movie is in predicting where we would be.

But you look at the movie and what pulls you in is how lived in it looks.  This is no sterile “Logan’s Run” future where everything is clean and shiny.  This is a nasty future with dirt, grim, filth, machines that are made to be functional not pretty.  People wear real clothes with wrinkles that need to be washed.  There are billboards everywhere urging you to buy, buy, buy.  The streets are clogged with pedestrians that walk too fast who cuss at cars that honk at pedestrians who walk too slowly.  All the people don’t look pretty. In fact they look bored, worn down, used up, tired.  Kinda like the people you pass everyday on your way to and home from work, right?

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is enjoying his retirement.  Once an honored member of L.A.’s Blade Runner Squad, he got sick of it and quit.  You see, his job was killing.  Killing Replicants.  Genetically engineered humanoids created by The Tyrell Corporation as slave labor for Earth’s off-world colonies.  The Replicants are stronger, faster and smarter than humans.  In fact, The Tyrell Corporation claims that their new Nexus-6 models are “More Human Than Human”.  And maybe they are.  Six of them prove resourceful enough to make it back to Earth and Los Angeles.  Which is where the Blade Runners comes in.

Deckard is pressed back into service by his old boss Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh) and Bryant’s brown-noser Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to hunt down and retire the Nexus-6 Replicants.  It won’t be easy as they’re the most advanced Replicant models.  And they are determined to get to their creator Tyrell (Joe Turkel) and find a way to extend their four-year life span.  Deckard has to navigate through a minefield of humans and Replicants, all with their own agenda and their own plans to discover the truth of what being human means.  At the end of this tangled road is Rachel (Sean Young) a Replicant who believes is human and puts her trust and love in Deckard.  A man who comes to question his own humanity as the line between Human and Replicant becomes more blurred in his relentless pursuit of his quarry.

I love BLADE RUNNER.  That’s the simplest and best way I can put it.  I saw it during its original theatrical run, loved it then and I still love it now.  Mostly because of the way that it depicts at the future by looking back.

Let me explain: even though BLADE RUNNER is a movie about the future, there are a lot of throwbacks to the past which make the movie look even more futuristic simply because we haven’t seen stuff like this in movies in a long time.  Rachel’s hair styles and clothing, inspired by Joan Crawford’s look of the 1930’s.  Deckard’s clothing and trenchcoat, inspired by private eyes of the 50’s.  The gritty, noir-ish look of the city with its rain-swept streets.   The reto-technology.   The multi-cultural look of the movie which implies that Los Angeles of the future is a Third World culture unto itself.

At the time this movie was made Harrison Ford was #1 at the box office.  And why not?  He was starring in two major movie franchises and he took the BLADE RUNNER job to expand his range.  And I think he pulled it off extremely well.  There’s a real Humphrey Bogart-ish quality to his performance in this one.  The role of Deckard is obviously meant to be a throwback to Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and it works.  Again, the whole success of this movie lies in the setting and technology reaching to the future while the clothing, attitudes and style of filmmaking reaches to the past.  It an extraordinary melding of past and future that many films have tried to copy but only BLADE RUNNER captured and captured exceedingly well.

Sean Young quickly got a reputation in Hollywood as being exceeding difficult to work which hampered her from getting more work which is really a shame.  She’s astoundingly good in this movie and I again point to her Joan Crawford-influenced make-up, wardrobe and style of acting as to why.  Rutger Hauer steals the movie in terms of acting.  As Roy Batty his final speech has gone down in movie history.  And rightly so.  Few movie characters have died in such a memorable fashion as Roy Batty.  Daryl Hannah, Brion James and Joanna Cassidy all turn in strong performances as Replicants as well as William Sanderson as a genetic designer who considers Replicants his children.

So should you see BLADE RUNNER?  Chances are you already have.  At least one of the several versions available.  There’s a Director’s Cut.  A Final Director’s Cut.  An Ultimate Final Director’s Cut.  An Ultimate Platinum Final Director’s Cut and who knows how many others.  Last I heard there were seven versions available.  My recommendation?  Start with the Theatrical Version so you can see it the way we saw it back in 1982 and then go from there.  But any way you see BLADE RUNNER, by all means see it and enjoy it.

116 minutes

Rated: R



Maple Pictures

Directed by Bruce McDonald

Produced by Jeffrey Coghlan and Ambrose Roche

Written by Tony Burgess adapted from his novel Pontypool Changes Everything

Here’s a movie I always recommend for Halloween but is put together so well and is such an original twist on a genre that badly needs a twist that there’s no need for you to wait for Halloween.  Next time you’re looking for a movie that delivers some really thought provoking horror combined with some terrific acting you can’t do much better than PONTYPOOL.

Former shock jock radio personality Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is now the morning announcer working in a radio station located in the remote Canadian town of Pontypool.  Grant’s not exactly thrilled to be working in Pontypool but he’s got no choice since due to past outrages he’s virtually unhireable in the United States.  Despite his efforts to confront, challenge and charm his listeners, his producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) orders him to stay with school closings and road conditions as that’s the stuff Pontypool residents really want to hear.

But on one morning something decidedly different happens.  Bizarre reports are called in of people acting strangely.  They babble nonsense.  They repeat words and phrases over and over.  The people band into horrendously bloodthirsty mobs.  People are killed.  Property is destroyed.  Grant, Lisa and their technician Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly) can only listen as terrified citizens call the radio station to describe what is happening in the town.  A happening that can only be described as a zombie outbreak.

But as Dr. Mendez (Hrant Alianak) explains, these aren’t zombies in the conventional sense.  The people are infected with a virus that lives in certain words of the English language.  The virus is driven to communicate with others in order to spread itself to as many hosts as possible to survive.  Unfortunately the virus also turns its hosts into homicidal maniacs.  Grant, Lisa and Dr. Mendez can’t leave the radio station due to the rampaging mob outside and their situation inside becomes more desperate when Laurel Ann becomes infected…

PONTYPOOL is that rare horror movie; one that totally took me by surprise and one that completely drew me in as I had absolutely no idea where this was going or how it was going to end.  Even though the entire movie takes place inside the radio station we get a good idea of the carnage happening outside through phone calls from panicked citizens to Grant, Lisa and Dr. Mendez who are trying their best to deal with what is going on.  And even after they figure out what’s going on, how do they communicate with the outside world to tell them without spreading the virus since they don’t know which words are infected?

This new twist on the zombie idea is a welcome one and gives this material a freshness that is welcome to see.  Stephen McHattie is terrific as the beleaguered Mazzy.  Looking like Lance Hendrickson’s meaner brother with a whiskey-soaked voice he brings his A-game to the role and delivers in style.  I guarantee that you won’t take your eyes off him while he’s on screen.  Lisa Houle backs him up very well and it’s both inspiring and sad to see the course their relationship takes during the course of this incredible situation.

There’s not a whole bunch of gore or wince inducing violence but that doesn’t mean that PONTYPOOL doesn’t deliver on the horror.  By all means, if you haven’t seen it yet and you want to watch a zombie movie unlike any you’ve seen before, this is the one.  Enjoy.

93 minutes



20th Century Fox/Lightstorm Entertainment

Written and Directed by James Cameron

Produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau

I have to be honest and confess that I’m biased when it comes to James Cameron because he hasn’t yet made a movie I haven’t liked.  Which compared to a lot of other filmmakers isn’t a lot.  I mean, counting AVATAR he’s directed eight movies in thirty years.  We’ve got directors who have made thirty movies in eight years.  But James Cameron’s movies are all ‘event’ movies and he’s such a meticulous director/writer that he’s in no rush to make a movie just to make a movie.  He makes movies that are entire worlds that draw us in and engage us totally and completely into what is happening on the screen.  Twenty minutes into AVATAR I completely forgot I was looking at SFX and CGI characters and digital sets.  That’s how immersed into the story and characters I was.  And I attribute that to the genius of James Cameron.  Unlike directors like Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich he knows how to spend half a billion bucks on a movie that makes me feel like I haven’t wasted my money or more importantly, my time.

The planet Pandora is extraordinarily hostile to human beings.  Even the air is toxic and it seems like every animal on the planet is out to eat every other animal.  Pandora also is rich with the mineral unobtanium which is being mined by a corporation that is never named but I’d be willing to bet my ‘Alien’ DVD it’s Weyland-Yutani. The use of unobtanium made me laugh as that fictional element has a very long history in science fiction.  Since seeing this movie I’ve heard from so-called science fiction fans complaining about how corny the name unobtanium is and that a name that sounded more realistic should have been used.  Which immediately told me that these ‘fans’ weren’t as knowledgeable about sci-fi as they thought they were.   The corporation has recruited an army of mercenaries as security to protect the workers from the many dangerous life-forms. Pandora is also inhabited by the Na’vi.  An azure-skinned, humanoid race, nine feet tall that live in a quasi-symbiotic relationship with the animals and the land.

Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) has helped develop the Avatar Program. Avatars are Na’vi/Human clones bio-engineered to enable humans to interact with the Na’vi.  Humans are linked to their specific Avatars and control them while their human body sleeps.  This is particularly appealing to paraplegic ex-Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington).  Jake is invited to join The Avatar Program due to his twin brother’s untimely death.  Since his DNA is identical to his brother’s, Jake can link with his Avatar.  This doesn’t sit well with Dr. Augustine but it works out just fine for Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) who sees this as an opportunity to get valuable intelligence on the Na’vi.  Quaritch dangles the promise of surgery that will restore the full use of his legs to Jake.  And naturally Jake accepts the deal

Jake’s first time out in the bush in his Avatar ends up with him lost in the jungle which he is woefully unsuited to survive in, despite his Marine training.  Luckily for him he’s rescued by a Na’vi warrior woman, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who takes him back to her clan.  There are a couple of her clansmen who aren’t happy with this.  Her father Eytucan (Wes Studi) the leader of the clan and his heir, the clan’s best warrior Tsu’Tey (Laz Alonso) who’d cheerfully cut Jake’s throat if it wasn’t for the clan’s queen and spiritual leader Mo’at (CCH Pounder) who persuades her husband to let Jake stay and learn their ways while they learn more about him.  Neytiri is charged with teaching the outsider how to be a true Na’vi.  And she does a good job of it.  A really good job.  Maybe too good as it turns out.

Okay, let’s get this out of the way right up front. You’ve probably heard that AVATAR is a big budget remake of “Dances With Wolves” in sci-fi drag and to an extent, it’s correct.  But I’ve seen plenty of other westerns about a white man going ‘native’ and adopting another culture.  There’s elements of “Lord Jim” and “The Last Samurai” and “The Mission” in here as well along with half a dozen other movies.

But AVATAR is told so well and the special effects are so magnificent that all that becomes unimportant.  James Cameron spends a considerable amount of time on the Na’vi way of life as seen through the eyes of Jake and we, along with him soon have a respect and fascination for their world and their relationship.  Sam Worthington really sells the movie, along with Sigourney Weaver; whose Avatar is so realistic and looks so much like her it’s almost creepy.

And any director who can make me like Michelle Rodriguez is okay in my book.  For once she’s not playing the perpetually pissed-off Latina and does some real acting here.  Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang aren’t served as well as the other actors by the screenplay.  Their characters are so one dimensional that right from their first scenes they’re gnashing their teeth, yelling “Crush!  Kill!  Destroy!”and planning to wipe out the Na’vi.  And that’s just about the same note they play through the whole movie.

And AVATAR makes the same mistake “Star Trek: Insurrection” made.  Remember how in that movie Starfleet wanted to remove a relatively small group of natives off their own world in order to exploit the anti-aging properties of the planet?  Now the big flaw in that thinking was this: why couldn’t everybody share the planet?  I mean, it’s a pretty big planet.  Lots of room for all, I should think.   In AVATAR, whenever Giovanni Ribisi started in about there being such a rich deposit of unobtanium under the sacred Hometree I asked myself why couldn’t the corporation find another deposit somewhere on the planet and spare everyone a lot of needless bloodshed and violence.  But James Cameron works so hard at making us hate the corporation and the mercenaries that angle is never explored.  And Cameron pounds the pro-environmental angle into our foreheads at every single opportunity in a not very subtle fashion.

Having said all that is AVATAR worth your time?  Sure it is.  It’s a James Cameron movie and once again he’s presented us a movie full of life, meticulous detail, astounding action sequences and exceptional acting.  Sure the story is pure 50’s science fiction pulp adventure but its 50’s science fiction pulp that makes us care about what we’re watching and that makes all the difference.

162 minutes


Quigley Down Under


Directed by Simon Wincer

Produced by Stanley O’Toole and Alexandra Rose

Written by John Hill

Original Music by Basil Poledouris

I think it’s really a damn shame that Tom Selleck never became as big a movie star as I think he solidly deserved to be. He got jerked out of playing Indiana Jones and despite whatever you may have heard from that friend of yours who knows all about movies or that other friend who claims he knows the “real story” Tom Selleck was the first choice of both George Lucas and Steven Spielberg for Indiana Jones.

Tom Selleck has had a solid movie career, though and he did some really good stuff that I liked a lot. He got to do a couple of 1930’s adventure films such as “Lassiter” with Jane Seymour in which he played a cat burglar operating in London just before WWII and “High Road To China” where he played a boozy barnstorming pilot helping Bess Armstrong find her father who’s been kidnapped by a Chinese warlord. He also did more than his share of westerns and if your cable/satellite provider carries TNT then you know what I’m talking about. During the 90’s it seemed like every other week there was a new western starring Tom Selleck featured on that station. But he did one major feature western that has gone seriously unnoticed: QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER.

Matthew Quigley (Tom Selleck) is a cowboy/sharpshooter from America who travels to Australia with his trusty weapon: a modified 1847 Sharps Buffalo Rifle with which he can hit a man from 1200 yards away. That may not sound impressive but as a way of reference let’s put it this way: the modern football field is 100 yards long. You do the math. Quigley’s been hired by a wealthy and powerful landowner, Elliot Marston (Alan Rickman) for a job. He doesn’t say what the job is but he’ll pay Quigley 50 dollars in gold just to make the three-month trip to his ranch just to hear him out. Quigley finds Marston to be a refined gentleman obsessed with The American West. He even has a matched pair of Navy Colts that he’s become expert at using. Marston is also a sadistic racist who wants Quigley to use his sharpshooting skills to help in cutting down the Outback aborigines. Quigley’s response to this job offer is to kick Marston’s ass.

He would have been much better off just saying no and going on back home. He’s beaten half to death, taken out to the unforgiving Australia desert and dumped along with Crazy Cora (Laura San Giacomo) a woman Quigley has befriended. For some reason Crazy Cora thinks that Quigley is her husband Roy and part of the fun of the movie is that we’re never sure exactly how crazy Crazy Cora really is as even Quigley says to her at one point: “The scary thing is that from time to time you actually make sense.” Quigley and Cora are rescued by aborigines and that sets up the second half of the movie as Quigley goes after Marston and in the process becomes a legend among the aborigines known as ‘The Spirit Warrior’. He also learns the tragic history of Crazy Cora and why she became crazy.

QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER is rarely mentioned when even western fans get together and I don’t know why. It’s got Tom Selleck who is one of the few modern actors who actually looks as if he belongs in The Old West. He’s a worthy successor to Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea, both of who would have slid into this role like you slide into your favorite jeans. He’s tough when he has to be in his scenes with Alan Rickman and tender in his scenes with Laura San Giacomo. Selleck has studied his westerns and he knows that in a role like this less is more. He says only what he has to say and no more. It’s a great old school performance.

Laura San Giacomo is totally terrific. She has to carry the load of being the only comic relief in the movie and she does it by creating a character that has us constantly wondering: “is she really crazy or just playing crazy?” Even covered in dirt she’s mad sexy and she has two really great scenes: one where she softly tells Quigley what happened to make her crazy and the other is where she spends a horrifying night defending an aborigine baby from a pack of dingos.

Alan Rickman is wonderful as Elliot Marston and if you expect to see him playing Hans Gruber In A Western, think again. Rickman’s too damn good for that. Marston’s a separate bad guy and he and Quigley make for wonderfully matched opponents. It helps that Rickman and Selleck look as if they’re having just as much fun going up against each other as Rickman and Willis did.

What else can I mention? Oh, yes…the simply magnificent score by Basil Poledouris. If you don’t know the work of this master then shame on you. And for QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER he composed one the most heroic, rousing scores I’ve ever heard for a movie. The location work is beautiful and really gives you a sense of how big Australia is. There’s a scene where Quigley has been already traveling four days to get to Marston’s and asks one of Marston’s men when will they get to his ranch and the man responds: “You’ve been on it for two days.” The look on Quigley’s face says it all. I would have liked to see more of the aborigine way of life but hey, the small bits we do see where they teach Quigley how to find water in the desert and how he teaches them how to lasso are fun and even charming.

So should you see QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER? I give thee a resounding “YES”. If you’re a fan of Tom Selleck in particular or westerns in general then you really ought to do yourself a favor and see this one. It’s got a solid story, some terrific action sequences and strong acting. QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER is a movie that belongs in the library of every movie fan.

119 minutes

Angel Heart


Carolco Entertainment/TriStar

Directed by Alan Parker

Produced by Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar

Screenplay by Alan Parker

Based on the novel “Falling Angel” by William Hjortsberg

Now here’s a movie that got into my head the very first time I saw it and squirmed around in there for a few days and made a nice little bloody nest where it stayed festering and feeding on my subconscious.  ANGEL HEART remains one of my personal favorites because it is photographed so well, the performances are all outstanding and it combines the private eye and supernatural genres flawlessly. It’s a hell of a movie and given the subject matter, I mean that quite literally.

Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is a private detective operating in 1955 New York. And he’s definitely not Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe. When we first see him he looks like he’s barely recovered from a three-day binge. He’s contacted by a lawyer named Winesap (“Law & Order” regular Dann Florek) who represents a strange foreign gentleman named Louis Cyphre who wants Harry to find out if a moderately famous 1940’s crooner named Johnny Favorite is still alive. When asked why, Cyphre simply states that Johnny Favorite owes him collateral for “certain services”. Harry thinks it stinks like a houseguest who won’t leave, but hey, Cyphre’s $5,000 check is good and Harry takes the case.

Turns out that Johnny Favorite was drafted into the army and returned home from the war with his handsome face all blown to raw hamburger.  After plastic surgery that changed his features completely, he simply upped and disappeared from the hospital. But after Harry does some checking and finds that the doctor who did the plastic surgery on Johnny Favorite falsified the records…well, he starts taking a genuine interest in this case. Maybe he’s at last gotten hold of that one big case every private eye dreams of solving.

He would have been better off sticking to his divorce cases. Very shortly, Harry is up to his unwashed neck in a mystery that he rapidly realizes may cost more than his life to solve. The trail of the singer Johnny Favorite is a blood-soaked one that leads from a really strange church in Harlem to the voodoo haunted bayous of New Orleans.  It soon occurs to Harry as he continues on his quest that the solution to the mystery may be more frightening than the mystery itself. But by that time his curiosity and suspicions about the origins and true identity of the elusive Johnny Favorite has possessed him to the point that he now absolutely has to know the truth, despite the fact that Johnny Favorite himself appears to be gruesomely killing every and any one who shows the least curiosity about finding him…

ANGEL HEART has so much to recommend it; I hardly know where to begin. The performances are absolutely first rate. Mickey Rourke may have given the best performance of his career in this movie and I think his “I know who I am!” scene near the end is one of his finest. Robert DeNiro is not only sinister but also quite humorous in his role. Look closely at him in this movie because there are not only visual clues to his true identity but he also looks quite a lot like Martin Scorsese did at the time this movie was being filmed (which I didn’t notice myself until reading Roger Ebert’s review of this movie) and given what we find out about Louis Cyphre, it may give you a chuckle.

If you recall anything about ANGEL HEART it’s probably because of two scenes Lisa Bonet has in this movie. The first is a voodoo ritual scene and the second is a sex scene with her and Mickey Rourke. I’m not going to spoil either of these scenes for you in describing them save to say that I admire Lisa Bonet for taking such acting risks in scenes that could not have been easy to shoot but they do indeed contribute to the story and are not added for shock. And what makes it even more amazing that Lisa Bonet filmed this movie while on hiatus from “The Cosby Show” where she was playing one of the sweetly wholesome Huxtable kids. I can imagine the discussions that took place on the “Cosby Show” set after ANGEL HEART hit the screens.

There is a lot in ANGEL HEART that is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish. Most people say ‘horror movie’ and they think of the “Friday The 13th” or “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” When I say ‘horror movie’ I’m talking about a movie like ANGEL HEART or “Night Of The Hunter” where the story and characters are presented with an intelligence and internal logic that before you know it, halfway through the movie you’re totally sucked in and forget you’re watching a movie.

The bottom line is this: if you have seen ANGEL HEART then you’re probably nodding your head in agreement while you’re reading this. If you haven’t seen ANGEL HEART then I recommend that you Netflix it at your earliest opportunity.  Get yourself the movie goodies of your choice. Put the DVD in your player and turn off the lights. And then prepare yourself for a really wonderful example of what I mean when I say ‘horror movie’.

113 min.
Rated R
for graphic violence, adult language and graphic sex. The sex scene between Mickey Rourke and Lisa Bonet has become infamous for it’s startling imagery while the voodoo ritual scene may make those of more conservative religious beliefs and practices uncomfortable so don’t say I didn’t you. And folks, please put your kids to bed before you and your sweetheart watch this one, okay? Thank you and enjoy.