Du rififi à Paname aka The Upper Hand (1966): Denys de La Patellière's crime movie is a sort of retirement home for tired looking old and middle aged actors (Jean Gabin! Gert Fröbe! Nadja Tiller! Claudio Brook! George Raft!), the kind of film that thinks just letting the actors turn their faces in the direction of the camera equals acting performances.
The last few Japanese low budget horror films I watched left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, as well as with a degree of pessimism towards the state of the genre in the country.
A film like The Crone, flawed yet made with obvious dedication and intelligence as it is, can't help but bring me around to optimism again. I'll explain why in my column over at Exploder Button.
Before the SyFy Original movie really came into its own, before Mansquito was a blink in Tibor Takács eye, the icky sounding Turner Broadcasting System aired Charles Robert Carner's Red Water, a film you could sell to me as part of the SyFy cycle any time.
Again, a maniac kidnaps a bunch of people, stuffs them into a decrepit warehouse, and plays games with them. Only this time around, the kidnapper will later turn out to be played by Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, his victims are all successful professional killers with martial arts skills (with Ammara Siripong, Johnny Messner and Tim Man as the central characters), and the only game Gordon likes - apart from gloating - is seeing them fight one-on-one to the death, promising survival to the last one standing.
At some point in time between the World Wars. Kit Walker (Billy Zane) is The Phantom aka The Ghost Who Walks, the newest in a long line of adventuring pulp-style heroes, ruling about some "native tribes" while wearing ugly purple costumes and having something of a skull fetish. When he's not chatting with the ghost of his father (Patrick McGoohan), Kit's in the habit of smiting evil in a semi-competent manner a bit too semi to not leave ghost dad rather exasperated from time to time.
Force of Execution (2013)
Director: Keoni Waxman
Writers: Richard Beattie, Michael Black
The couple of Uday (Raj Kumar Yadav) and Ragini (Kainaz Motivala) are going on a trip to a place owned by a friend of Uday's in the country for a romantic weekend, or really, to get rid of Ragini's pesky virginity. What Ragini doesn't know: Uday doesn't just act like a sleazy prick most of the time, he has also agreed to help a movie producer friend of his to secretly make a sex tape, so the house is full of hidden cameras ready to turn the unknowing Ragini into a very special kind of celebrity. He's a charmer, Uday is.
Policewoman Goldie Ho (Sammi Cheng Sau-Man), excellent at the physical aspects of her work but not much of a detective, hires the blind master detective Johnston (Andy Lau Tak-Wah) to solve a disappearance that has bothered her since her childhood.
Oh, look, it's the third movie in what is now officially the premiere Nazi zombie movie franchise (by sheer virtue of actually being a franchise). Not that the Outpost movies aren't fun enough to watch, but I'll come to that a bit later.
Iron Man 3 (2013): If someone had told me ten years ago that a few years later, some of the best non-stupid blockbuster movies around would be a series of interlocked Marvel superhero movies produced by Disney, I'd laughed him off, but there you have it. Shane Black's Iron Man 3 is a very fine example of its species, hitting all the mandatory Hollywood blockbuster beats with relish and talent, but adding some intelligent twists to certain parts of the formula without trying to completely deconstruct it.
It's 1971. Carolyn Perron (Lily Taylor, putting her considerable talent to dubious yet effective use), her husband Roger (Ron Livingston) and their truckload of children have put all their money - which isn't much - into buying a beautiful house out in the middle nowhere. Unfortunately, as soon as the family has moved into its new dream home, Weird Shit™ begins to happen. Frequent horror movie goers will at once identify their troubles as sure signs of Demonic Infestation™.
A prison for young women has a curiously high lethality thanks to a peculiarly high density of inmates with very weak hearts; nobody seems to care much, though, until young progressive social worker Carol Adams (Charlotte Austin), new to the facility, starts to take an interest. What she doesn't know is that most of the staff consists of the original mad scientists led by a Dr. Murdock (Victor Jory) who learned at the feet of the Count de St. Germaine how to siphon young women's bioelectric energy and become immortal in the process.
Secret - so secret we never even learn what organization he's working for - agent Jacques Kristoff (Jean-Claude Van Damme, obviously) has a very bad day in front of him. Not enough that his people take him off his birthday vacation to help the thief Galina Konstantin (Laura Harring, totally Eastern European) escape from Slovakia carrying some very secret loot she's selling to his people, a thing sure to anger his wife (Susan Gibney) and kids (Jessica Bowman and authentic Van Damme son Kristopher Van Varenberg) who think he's some sort of business person.