Keanu Reeves is back John Wick in another cautionary tale. When you force an assassin known for his focus and strength of will, even among other assassins, to kill your sister, don’t then put a contract on him for killing your sister. This may tend to make him cranky, and when John Wick gets cranky, people die! Seriously, a lot of people. Mostly other assassins trying to collect the bounty on Wick’s head, but a ridiculous amount of henchmen of the guy who put the contract out. He even kills two guys in a bar with a pencil. In a fun bit of uber-violence mixed with with bits of dialog by some really good actors (like Ian McShane and Laurence Fishburne, but not Ruby Rose, who plays a mute assassin). Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.
I Love You Alice B. Toklas
Setting the Wayback Machine to 1968 for this Peter Sellers film. He plays an uptight lawyer, what the kids called a “Square” back then. He manages to get a hippy girlfriend, who whips up some pot laced brownies, a favorite recipe of a close and personal friend of Gertrude Stein. Sellers’ character eats them and decides “drop out” and become a hippy. A definite period piece comedy.
Setting the Wayback Machine to 1983 for this Dan Aykroyd comedy gem. You might recognize Howard Hesseman and Fran Drescher. Drescher plays one of four high end “Ladies of the Evening” run by pimp Howard Hesseman. He gets into trouble for not paying off the local crime boss, Mom. He cons Aykroyd, who plays a young college professor, into taking over his job. He creates the persona of “Doctor Detroit” to save the day. Light fun, with decidedly adult humor.
It’s nearly Halloween, so going with some classics. Starting with Mel Brooks’ classic Young Frankenstein. Followed by the Brendon Frazier version of The Mummy. We’ll end this years picks on a darker note with a tail of vampires in the American Southwest in late 20th century, Near Dark.
Long before the Black Panther movie, there was the Blade Trilogy staring Wesley Snipes. A series based on the Marvel’s Blade character. A half breed Vampire, who can withstand sunlight, thus the nickname, “Day Walker.” Watch the first one, ignore the second, and then enjoy the 2004 trilogy wrap up. The third and final Blade film, and a good B-Movie to boot. Not only is Snipes a cold, hard, bad-ass in this movie (as he is in all the Blade films), the director made some interesting casting choices. Blade is assisted in this film by two other Vampire Hunters, played by Ryan Reynolds, and Jessica Biel. My take on Reynolds character is this could have been a post college Van Wilder who made some really bad life choices. Jessica Biel doesn’t talk much, but seriously, she doesn’t have to. Comninic Purcell is the chief bad guy, but supporting villains played by Parker Posey and John Michael Higgins just add moments of joy for anyone who has seen Best in Show or A Mighty Wind. Parker Posey even has a nice serious dramatic scene. There is even an actress best known for her work in the American Pie movies. I kept waiting for her to talk about double clicking her mouse. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.
There are reasons the Marvel superhero movies make money hand over fist. The built in fan base of nerds is nice, but they are actually producing good actions stories with some serious star power (Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker for example). The conflict within the royal family is sort of stuff that old Billy S. was writing to put paying butts in seats of the Globe Theater. Like DC’s Wonder Woman, this movie was a labor of love and it showed. The set and costume designing were outstanding and the action scenes were top notch. Plus this film took the formula for a good James Bond Movie to heart. The better the villain, the better the movie. Michael B. Jordan, as the unknown member of the royal family coming home to stir up trouble, was fornicating excellent. Right up to his final scene, he just owned the total bad assness of his character.
Going deep into the B-Movie roots of this list with this Drive In Theater worthy entry, Killing Gunther. This documentary style straight to cable flick is about a group of young assassins who want make their mark in the field by killing the top man in their field, i.e. Gunther. Gunther is played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, who doesn’t appear until two thirds into the flick, and promptly steals the movie. The only other people who you probably recognize are Hanna Simone and Cobie Smulders. Simone is mostly known for the New Girl TV series, so this was a fun summer flick for her. Smulders on the other hand is doing action movies with Tom Cruise and racking in the cash for her continuing Maria Hill character in the Marvel movies. The answer to why she was in this turkey is simple, the writer/director/star of the film, Taran Killam, is her husband. You may ask Arnold Schwarzenegger did this as well. Probably because he thought was a goof, and is at the point in his career where he can do what he wants. In all, not a bad B-Movie, for a B-Movie. The acting is deliberately over the top (it’s spoof on documentaries, so that is kinda required), the action is actually not horrible (again, B-Movie here, so don’t expect John Wick level action), and it is laugh out loud funny at times. It was shot as an action comedy, and it delivers on both. Definitely worth the popcorn and rental.
A fast paced action film set at the tail end of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall starts to come down during the movie. Charlize Theron plays a British agent sent into Berlin to collect the McGuffin (in this case, a list of spies, including who is actually working for whom). Add in James McAvoy as the MI6 agent in charge of Berlin, who has not just gone native, he’s gone “bloody feral.” Spectacular fight scenes, and of course, nobody is exactly what they seem. Double agents, double crosses, and of course someone seduces the beautiful French agent.
The Hitman’s Bodyguard
An action comedy buddy story with the inspired pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. This is a funny and deliciously violent film. Reynolds is a high priced bodyguard at the top of his game, until he loses a high profile client (a well known arms dealer). Now down on his luck, he gets a call from his ex-girlfriend (an Interpol agent) who asks him to transport his arch nemesis (Jackson’t hitman character) so he can testify against a war criminal. From there, the fun really starts. Not a family film, unless your kids are old enough for an impressive amount of profanity and violence.
Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets
Luc Besson had a lot of fun bringing one of his favorite childhood comics to the big screen, and it show. This is a fun film. Awesome special effects, visually stunning, and gloriously true to the pulp origins of the original comic. The weak of part of the film is the two lead characters, who gave it a good try, but just didn’t nail the chemistry needed. Still worth the popcorn and rental, especially if you have a nice big screen with a good sound system.