Planet of the Apes (1968)

In the year 1972, four astronauts are deep in space, on a mission of discovery. They awake from suspended animation to find that one of their crew is dead and their ship has landed on an unfamiliar planet, and is rapidly sinking into a body of water. After making a quick escape with as much equipment as they can carry, the three survivors must find a way to survive, something made much more difficult by the planet’s native population.

Recently we recorded an episode of the Lambcast all about the original Planet of the Apes movies, from 1968’s Planet through to 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes. I’d never seen any of the films before, so I was especially looking forward to the show, as I’ve now seen them all. They vary from the excellent (this one) to the dismal (Battle), the thought-provoking (Escape from the Planet of the Apes) to bat-shit insane (Beneath the Planet of the Apes), and you can listen to the discussion we had about them all here. As it happens, Planet of the Apes is also on the 1001 Movies list, and is widely regarded as a classic, so I’m selecting it as my Blind Spot pick for this month. Continue reading

Top 10… Movie Cab Drivers

This week’s Lambcast is another Movie of the Month, and this month the topic of conversation was Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. As such, here’s a rundown of my Top 10 Movie Taxi Drivers:      VVa3lael6qrninjqCHYu8rP9o1_1280

Honourable mention: John McClane & Zeus Carver (Bruce Willis & Samuel L. Jackson), Die Hard With A Vengeance?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

OK, technically neither John nor Zeus (who does not look Puerto Rican to me) are taxi drivers, but at various points throughout this New York-set sequel they do drive a taxi, so technically they are taxi drivers, and therefore eligible for this list. I’ve loved Die Hard with a Vengeance since many years before I even saw Die Hard, and I think it’s the bickering relationship between the two that drew me to it. Specifically, I love the scene in which the two must make it across town in a very short amount of time, during rush hour traffic. The solution? drive straight through Central Park, ploughing through cyclists and pedestrians alike. This scene gives way to my favourite line in the film, when Zeus asks if McClane is aiming for the people, he replies “No, well, maybe that mime.” Other great taxi drivers I could have used are the pain in the ass sports fan who Cuba Gooding Jr. is lumbered with in Rat Race, Darwin (Edi Gathegi) the underused evolving mutant in X-Men: First Class, who we first meet driving a cab, Beauregarde from The Great Muppet Caper, Alan Ford in An American Werewolf in London, J B Smoove in Date Night and the terrifying, snarling, grotesgue “Ain’t much better in here, kid” guy from Home Alone 2. Continue reading

Taxi Driver

Travis Bickle can’t sleep. He lives in New York and is up all night, so why not become a cab driver? Well, for starters, he hates pretty much everyone on the streets after dark, plus, he’s a potentially psychotic madman, with aspirations of saving, destroying or integrating himself into society, depending on the day. He spends his days pining for a campaign worker for a local presidential candidate, but when that relationship turns sour Bickle’s attentions turn to a young prostitute, whom Travis believes is in need of a saviour.
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Top 10 Movie Apes

Today is a momentous day, that shall be noted and celebrated in the history books for years to come. For today, you see, marks the return of my oh-so-popular Top 10 lists, which I intend to churn out on a weekly basis, and tie in to the most recent Lambcast’s topic, for as long as I am able to.

This week, to coincide with the podcast devoted to the original Planet of the Apes franchise (which can be listened to here), I’m counting down my Top 10 Movie Apes:

Honourable mention: Limbo, Planet of the Apes (2001)Chilled

Apes and monkeys are a familiar feature in movies. This is most likely due to their close resemblance in both size and appearance to humans – apparently we’re somewhat closely related – meaning that in the days before CGI they were relatively easy to depict, by simply sticking a guy in a gorilla costume. Also, real life ones are more really trained than most other animals so when a man-in-a-monkey-suit didn’t do it for you, in many instances a primate could be taught or trained to do the tasks available. For my honourable mention there are a lot of possibilities, from 28 Days Later‘s Rage-infected disease spreaders to the Jackie Chan voiced martial artist in Kung Fu Panda, but instead I’ve opted for Limbo, potentially the only good element of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake.Limbo I re-watched the film for the podcast, which is something I never intend to do again, because frankly it’s not a very good film. The plot jumps around all over the place, interesting characters are sidelined or killed off, there’s a bizarre and frankly implausible love triangle and an ending that defies logic and reason, but two things it has going for it are tremendous prosthetics and phenomenal acting performances beneath them. In my memory, Tim Roth’s General Thade was the stand-out, but now my memory has been stirred I can see he over-acts every second he is on screen, permanently glowering and furious at everything, including one scene in which he’s supposed to be seductive! The always dependable Giamatti however offers some much needed comic relief as the cowardly orang-utan slave owner Limbo. Continue reading

International Character Actor Draft – Vote For Me!

Over on the Lambcast we recently held an International Character Actors Draft, during which myself – along with Dylan Fields, DJ Valentine, Daniel Lackey and Dan Heaton – competed to select a team of some of our favourite character actors from outside of North America. You can head over here to see the teams, but really, all you actually need to do is vote for mine. Especially when you consider my roster:
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Irreversible

Marcus (Vincent Cassel) is desperately trying to find someone, a man who has wronged him in some way. Pierre (Albert Dupontel) follows Marcus warily, clearly uncomfortable with the violent and aggressive manner in which Marcus is carrying out his mission. Who are they after? What did he do? And what will happen if they find him? All these questions are revealed as we weave our way backwards through the story.
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Boogie Nights

At the tail end of the 70s, times were a-changin’ for many folks, including those involved in the production of adult films. Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) is bussing tables in a nightclub, regularly frequented by porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds), his cast and crew. Adams, who later will become known as Dirk Diggler, is somewhat gifted in a manner that would be beneficial in adult cinema, so he soon finds himself working in Jack’s pictures. This film chronicles the highs and lows of working in such an industry, not just for Dirk, but Jack, his leading lady Amber Waves (Julianne Moore), other cast members Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly), Buck Swope (Don Cheadle), Becky Barnett (Nicole Ari Parker) and Rollergirl (Heather Graham) and their crew, including Little Bill (William H. Macy) and Scotty J. (Philip Seymour Hoffman).Boogie 04 Continue reading

Shame

On the surface, Brandon has it all. He’s got a great job with colleagues he gets on with, a modern apartment in New York and a level of confidence and self-assurance that makes him a hit with the ladies. Plus, the dude looks like Michael Fassbender, which has to help a little bit. However, Brandon has a problem – several in fact. Firstly his work computer has just been taken away to repair a virus from all the porn he’s been downloading. Secondly, his messed up sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) is about to fall back into his life. And thirdly, Brandon seems completely incapable of maintaining a relationship with anyone who doesn’t charge by the hour.Shame 01 Continue reading

The Back to the Future Trilogy

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a young slacker who dreams of rock and roll stardom but lacks the courage to showcase his talents, finds himself in something of a unique situation when, during a late night experiment with his friend Dr. Emmet ‘Doc’ Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Marty is transported back in time 30 years to 1955. His only way back is to contact the 1955 Doc Brown to help fix the time machine, but in doing so he must also ensure that his own parents (Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover) – now the same age as Marty – get together, which is made all the more complicated by the fact that his own mother has taken a shine to him.
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The Wild Bunch

In the old west, a gang of outlaws led by Pike Bishop (William Holden) attempt to pull one last job and rob a bank. However, things do not go according to plan (when do they ever?) and a bloody shootout ensues, during which some of Pike’s men are injured or killed, and the loot they obtain is found to be worthless. The guys set out to make another big score, but find themselves hampered by one of their former members, Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan) being forced to chase them down. Continue reading