Author: Peter M. Hargrove

AMELIA

AMELIA crashes and burns long before Earhart does. Hilary Swank tries to do Meryl Streep, and fails. Richard Gere, as usual, falls back on his aging boyish charm to get Swank to swoon.

NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION!

They came from a land Down Under, demented filmmakers determined to overthrow repressive censorship, which made the Brits look like libertines, and tell the true story of mates, Sheilas, muscle cars and the desolate Outback inhabited by crazed biker gangs, rabid koalas and possessed kangaroos — and that was on a good day. After taking over the Australian box office and overshadowing the Australian New Wave of MY BRILLIANT CAREER, BREAKER MORANT and PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK, among others, (all great films deserving a theatrical re-issue), the plethora of future exploitation classicdom set its’ sights on conquering the overseas drive-ins and grindhouses. In New York it was the infamous Forty-Deuce (where I enjoyably wasted my youth), Boston had its’ Combat Zone, San Francisco the Tenderloin and beyond to cities like Toronto where Yonge Street was never the same after the Ozzie invasion — which in itself contributed to Canada’s burgeoning New Wave. The Hong Kong action films of the ’80s/’90s by the likes of Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam also pay homage to the Antipodean genre masters.

LAVOE aka THE KING HECTOR LAVOE

Makes EL CANTANTE look like an Academy-Award caliber film. Hector Lavoe was a complicated brilliant artist who deserves better than films like this and the Marc Antony-Jennifer Lopez fiasco EL CANTANTE. The current poster for the film is titled THE KING OF SALSA: THE UNTOLD STORY OF HECTOR LAVOE and implies that the film is a documentary which alas it is not.

2009 SUMMER FANCY FOOD SHOW ROUNDUP

After three full days of sampling some of the best foods in the world, and some mediocre wannabes, we have come up with our completely subjective list of the Top 10 New Food Discoveries. Agree with us, or not, the following food items will whet your appetite and encourage you to pester your local supermarket to expand their product selection.

FADOS

Fado, the flamenco of Portugal is on full display here in Carlos Saura’s latest musical tribute FADOS. As with his earlier films, FLAMENCO (1995) and TANGO (1998), Saura tells the story of a lower class music genre without dialogue, just musical set pieces. Dating to the 1820s slums of Portugal and most likely earlier, fado (“destiny”) is composed of melancholic vocal and instrumental ballads of a sentimental nostalgic nature.

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2008

For the second year in a row I have seen less than 400 films (usually it’s way over 1,000).  The films are getting worse, or else I’ve finally decided it’s better to live life than sit in a darkened room watching navel gazing films that should have had their negatives (or hard drives for you newbies) burnt before being foisted upon the masses — or better yet, had the laptops taken away from their pretentious wannabe “writers” and mini-DV cams wrenched from the hands of their “auteurs” and run over with a steamroller.

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2007

Shocking as it may seem, 2007 was the first year I’ve seen less than 500 films in theatres/screening rooms (I remember when that number neared 2000…)  Could it be all those atrocious films released that I for once decided not to waste two hours of my life on?

IN THE FACE OF EVIL: REAGAN’S WAR IN WORD & DEED

Disappointing biopic. Whatever your personal thoughts are about the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan was a key participant in the dramatic shift of the geopolitic at the end of the 20th Century. This film is a mess, self-serving to the Religious Right who feel Reagan could do no wrong and should receive sainthood. As a Lincoln Republican and son of a Goldwater Democrat I was expecting a warts and all serious, balanced documentary about Reagan’s rise from affable Hollywood “B” actor to concerned citizen to “Leader of the Free World”.

LADDER 49

The film pushes all the emotional buttons to tell an almost crackerjack tale of a young man’s journey from eager beaver new guy to seasoned veteran who has seen his best friend die on the job, his wife give birth to two children and become the typical fireman’s wife while holding back her fears about her husband’s dangerous career, and the time when mortality rears its ugly head and you are forced to decide how you plan to live out the rest of your life. When you’re a member of the Brotherhood of the Bravest, there is only one decision you make.

CONTROL ROOM

The TV station the George W. Bush regime loves to hate (“Osama Bin-Laden’s mouthpiece” – Colin Powell) gets its close-up in this controversial new film by director Jehane Noujaim “StartUp.com”.