Ha ha!

You just never know what he'll review next!

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Burl reviews Jurassic World! (2015)

Groww, groww, it’s Burl here with a review of the dinosaur picture! Yes, this is the newest one in the dinosaur series we all thought had closed up shop with Jurassic Park III, but this one, they tells us, is called Jurassic World!
Ha ha, and that title raises all sorts of possibilities: have the dinosaurs upended the food chain and somehow reclaimed the world? No, they haven’t: it’s just the same island theme park from the first one! However, it’s now operational, which affords the filmmakers plenty of opportunities to give it a When Time Ran Out-style old-fashioned disaster movie build-up, which they mostly miss, and for chomping scenes, which they largely take! Ha ha, plenty of splattering pasta sauce in this picture!
The plot is a kind of suck-pit of silliness, I’m sorry to say! Ha ha! There’s a parade of highly unlikely “attraction” scenes, such as the one with the giant dino-croc thing, the people kayaking serenely past stegosaurs (after all, hippos, just as herbaceous, drown anyone who tries to swim with them!), and of course the big bird dome made apparently of spun sugar!
Chris Pratt, who was in Guardians of the Galaxy, plays the highly generic Hero In Khaki, and a complete screenplay construction is played by Bryce Dallas Howard! Have I got that name right? Ha ha, and there are a couple of kids, brothers actually, who perform their functions well! The little one especially is good at looking sad and scared! The bad guy is Vincent D’Onofrio from Full Metal Jacket and The First Turn-On, and his badguyness is pretty rote, I have to say, and there’s not much old Vincent can do about it! (I’d like to have seen Vincent Price in the role, frankly! Ha ha!)
I liked some of the trick effects, and also the scene in which the two kids explore the ruins of the main building from the original! That seemed like a comment on the increasing speed of, shall we say, chrono-cultural turnover: today’s kids who are looking at our detritus already qualify as archeologists, or at least feel like they do! Those kids pushing aside the spider webs in the old Jurassic Park complex and dusting off “When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth” banners may just as well be flipping through Dad’s old record collection, wondering what these round black things are and what “Pavement” was! Ha ha!
But this hint of subtext was brief, and then things returned to the general entertainment of dino attacks and so forth, with a few bits of humour aimed at corporate branding, the unreasonable demands of audiences, and so forth! Welcome stuff, but it’s spread pretty thin! The things about it that work do work well enough, but there’s nothing all that memorable about it! Ha ha! I’m going to give Jurassic World one and a half bird feet!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Burl reviews The Slams! (1973)

Ha ha, and clang goes the cell door, it’s Burl! Yes, I have a review of a pokey picture for you today, directed by our old pal Jonathan “White Line Fever” Kaplan! Yes, the movie is called The Slams, and, ha ha, it’s a tough little quillici of a Gene Corman production, with none other than football great Jim “Small Soldiers” Brown in top form as the lead jailbird, Curtis Hook!
The opening of the movie is a bit queasy! Hook and his associates, arrive at a gathering of mind-drug mobsters! They will have precious few seconds to regret their choice of a shipping container as a meeting place when they are locked in and fed cyanide-laced exhaust in place of air! Ha ha! The successful heist is quickly followed by a fatal falling-out between Hook and the others, and a wounded Hook ends up tossing away the smack and hiding the million-and-a-half in ill-gotten gains!
Well, he’s soon checked into the crossbar hotel, an object of interest to all! Brutal goon Ted Cassidy, who of course fought Steve Austin in the terrifying Bigfoot episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, wants to do horrible things involving caustic liquids to him! The high-living capo, played by Frank De Kova of course, wants the money on behalf of the mob! And the round-faced Captain of the Guards, who I thought the whole time was being played by David from Sesame, silly Burl ha ha, also would like the money, and is willing to employ some pretty underhanded methods too!
On the outside, Hook’s ladyfriend, at her man’s direction, gets in touch with a shady character who owes Hook a favor, or is his bosom chum, or some admixture of the two! (Hook’s lovely lady is played by Judy Pace from Frogs, and the buddy is Paul Harris from Kaplan’s later Truck Turner!) An escape plan is cooked up, and many punchings are laid upon one and all!
Critical to the plan is a cab ride with driver Dick Miller, that great actor whom we know from Lies, Gremlins 2, Get Crazy, Moving Violation and all sorts of other movies! Ha ha, as good as most of the other actors are, the movie really felt as though it upped its game during those Miller moments! You forget what a good actor he is unless you really pay attention, ha ha!
I’ll tell you that a cement truck provides a grisly surprise in the penultimate moments of the picture! The very last scene shows Hook and his lady enjoying the spoils of their booty, ha ha, although one thinks with regret of his old mum, whom he appears to have left behind with her believing him dead! Poor goodhearted old lady!
The pokey picture isn’t my favourite genre, I must admit, but this is a pretty entertaining one! It’s fairly nasty and brutal too, but not very realistic! The escape scene is easy enough to buy into, though some of the specifics of the outhouse hiding spot were a little mystifying to me! Ha ha! I’m going to give The Slams two and a half ladles of bleach, with almost a full one of those for the Dick Miller scene alone!

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Burl reviews Creepshow! (1982)

Hi, Burl here to review a movie I’ve always kind of liked but never completely loved! Yes, it’s Creepshow, ha ha, how did you know? Or should I say Bwa-ha-ha?
Anyway, though I may feel it failed to achieve greatness, the picture nonetheless fits very well into that strong year of genre filmmaking, 1982! Whether you were the exact right age that year, as I was, or not, it must be acknowledged as something special for movie viewers! Certainly Creepshow was pushed as itself something special: this triad of terror titans, Romero, King and Savini, conspiring to petrify us in one pulse-pounding portmanteau!
So it couldn’t ever have been anything but an enjoyable if mildly underwhelming bohankie, but I nevertheless had the poster tacked with pride on my teen bedroom wall! It’s a comfort movie I suppose! And though it’s a Halloween picture through and through – it was originally released in the late fall, and of course it has the bookending scenes involving pumpkins and comic books and little badactor Joe King (who I understand has since found his true calling as a writer like his old man) and good old Tom “Halloween III” Atkins as the nasty dad – I think of it more as an early summer movie because of its first story, “Father’s Day!” Ha ha!
Yes, that’s the one with the great Viveca Lindfors, whom we know from Exorcist III and Silent Madness! It’s also got Ed Harris in there of course, and Carrie “Too Scared To Scream” Nye, and Jon Lormer from the boo-boo-Boogens, and an ambling corpse who uses corpse magic to crush Ed with a gravestone!
The next story involves Stephen “Maximum Overdrive” King himself, playing an overalled clod who finds a meteor and turns into a moss! After that is a tale of watery revenge, where we get Leslie “Four Rode Out” Nielsen planting Ted “Body Heat” Danson and Gaylen “Madman” Ross in the beach, then gibbering as they come shambling back for him! Ha ha, I’ve always liked the beach atmosphere in this one!
After that comes probably my fave of the bunch, “The Crate,” where janitor Don “The Car” Keefer finds a box with an ape monster in it, and after he and Fritz “The Big Fix” Weaver open it up, there’s a mild rampage! The janitor, a young brain wizard and the world’s most unpleasant woman, played by Adrienne “The Fog” Barbeau (who in real life is an extremely pleasant woman) are all munched down without delay! Finally we experience a nasty millionaire with a cleanliness fetish, played by E. G. “Christmas Vacation” Marshall, who experiences the worst sort of bug-out! Ha ha!
So there’s a lot going on, and it’s all pretty entertaining, if never very scary! Certainly, however, this is streets ahead of its poor sequel, Creepshow 2; word has it there’s even a third picture in the series, but I feel it might be wise to stay far away from that one! The original, with its funny colours and strange cast of stars, is clearly the way to go! I give Creepshow two and a half glazed hams!

Monday 8 June 2015

Burl reviews Design for Living! (1933)

Hi, Burl here to deliver a bit more of the old Burlitsch Touch! Ha ha, I’m not sure if there really is a Burlitsch Touch, but certainly we all know there’s a Lubitsch Touch, and that came of course from good old Ernst Lubitsch, who brought us pictures like Eternal Love, The Shop Around the Corner, and Heaven Can Wait!
All fine pictures in their way, but my very favourite of them all is Design for Living, the picture I want to write about today! Ha ha, this is a pre-Code picture, based on a play by Noël Coward, and is very contemporary in its themes! (They were still making pictures on these themes in the 1990s, though considerably relieved of the wit with which Design for Living is amply supplied – remember Threesomes for example, or Three of Hearts? Ha ha, you don’t? Well don’t worry about it!)
Of course this movie’s best and most relevant antecedent is Jules et Jim, but Design for Living neglects to include the tragic ending, and more importantly omits the implication of mental disturbance as a necessary prerequisite for enjoying a non-traditional romantic or sexual situation! In fact the movie celebrates the capacity for such relationships! Most unusual for 1933, or for almost any period I can think of! Ha ha!
The story kicks off on a train, where two sleeping fellows, Tom and George, are sketched by their compartment-mate, a commercial illustrator called Gilda! (That’s pronounced “Jilda,” by the way!) Tom and George (which is to say Fredric March and Gary Cooper) are old friends and roommates who share a bohemian atelier in Paris! Tom is a playwright, George a painter, and neither can as yet claim much success! Quickly a romantic triangle forms, and this is supplanted by a “gentleman’s agreement” whereby the happy-go-lucky Gilda, played by the delightful Miriam Hopkins, becomes the pair’s “art mother,” and guides them to success and acclaim!
But of course the gentleman’s agreement falls apart (“I, unfortunately, am no gentleman, ha ha!” Gilda laments), and matters are further complicated by a stuffed-shirt advertiser played by Edward Everett Horton! (He played these roles whenever a snippier version of Ralph Bellamy was required!) “Ha ha, immorality may be fun, but it isn’t fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day!” says Horton several times!
Anyway, the picture is very funny, and the script, which was by all reports, especially screenwriter Ben Hecht’s, vastly overhauled from the original Coward play, is a constant delight! All the performances are good, but I was especially taken with Coop, to tell you the truth! And can you imagine a movie featuring both Edward Everett Horton and Franklin Pangborn? Ha ha, friends, this is it!
Yes, this really is a great picture, and almost certainly my very favourite romantic comedy ever! I mean, When Harry Met Sally is fine and all, but this is the real deal! I give Design for Living four Eaglebauers, which is the highest number of Eaglebauers I have ever awarded a film! Ha ha!

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Burl reviews Ridin' on a Rainbow! (1941)

Yee-ha-ha, it’s Burl! Yes, I’ve got another oater for you, and, like Susanna Pass, it features a singin’ cowboy! Not Roy Rogers this time though, but Gene Autry, starring as himself, or rather as a guy named “Gene Autry,” in a picture called Ridin’ on a Rainbow!
Yes, Gene’s here, a-warblin’ his tunes, and his good pal Frog, played as ever by Smiley Burnette, is right thar by his side! Ha ha! Gene plays a rancher who persuades his ranching buddies to put all their money into the bank, which is then promptly robbed by two badmen and a clown! The clown escapes the bank by mixing in with the crowd, who somehow fail to notice an enormous harlequin in their midst! And of course Gene is left feeling badly for having helped lose all his friends their money!
The clown, played by prolific performer Byron Foulger from The Man They Could Not Hang, is part of a showboat ensemble which happens to be docked in town and conducting a parade! He’s not really a bad guy, just a little misguided, and his doting daughter, also a showboat performer, promises not to tell where he is! The badmen who cold-bloodedly shot down the old bank manager are the real bad guys!
Nevertheless, we have a clown on the run, which is a great scene because so rarely in these dime-book Westerns do we get to see a stagecoach pounding through the sagebrush with a Pierrot at the reins! He’s got the fuzzbuttons, the Elizabethan collar and everything! Ha ha! And this remarkable scene closely follows a mindbending showboat number with a holiday theme, such that, before the act is over, the stage is crowded with a clutch of Pilgrims, a cherub, a goblin, a demented Easter Bunny, and Santa! Ha ha!
Of course Gene and Smiley go undercover as entertainers as part of their campaign to catch the bandits! They seem a lot more interested in performing than in solving the crime, it must be said, but some time is also given to scenes of contrived drama wherein friction is created by having the other characters simply refuse to listen to what Gene is saying! He’s always right of course, and they should have listened to him and believed him!
Ridin’ on a Rainbow has a supporting cast of journeymen, of that there’s no doubt, with recognizable faces like Ferris Taylor from You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man, Anthony Warde from Rear Window, and many others! I even liked the songs, except that holiday one and the title track, which really is a miserable ditty! Ha ha! But I enjoyed watching it, and found the relationship between Gene and Smiley to be the most compelling! Evidently it was spread across dozens of movies, and it would be interesting to watch them all and try putting their interactions into chart form, proving exactly what, I cannot say, but something noteworthy no doubt!
Anyway, Ridin’ on a Rainbow has some tapdancing, which I always love to see, and lots of great entertainment, and the showboat setting is novel for a Western, and the clown stuff is good for a chuckle! Give it a watch, why not! I give Ridin’ on a Rainbow two missing puffbuttons!