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Kyle Kersten was a true friend of TCM. One of the first and most active participants of the Message Boards, “Kyle in Hollywood” (aka, hlywdkjk) demonstrated a depth of knowledge and largesse of spirit that made him one of the most popular and respected voices in these forums. This thread is a living memorial to his life and love of movies, which remain with us still.

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From the Last 25 Years


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#821 LawrenceA

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 10:53 PM

Casino Jack - Comedic biopic on disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey), a fast-talking conman who works politicians, Native Americans, and off-shore "floating casinos" for every penny he can before reporters shine a light on his shady operations. Also featuring Barry Pepper, Jon Lovitz, Kelly Preston, Graham Greene, Rachelle Lefevre and Maury Chaykin. Director George Hickenlooper died not long after the film debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. Spacey seems to be having fun with the role, and the movie isn't afraid to name names, depicting various politicians and Washington insiders by name, but the parts don't add up to a satisfying whole. 6/10

 

 

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#822 LawrenceA

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 09:19 PM

Buried - Cinematic stunt that is largely successful. The entire movie is star Ryan Reynolds as a private contractor truck driver in 2006 Iraq who has been kidnapped by insurgents and buried alive in a wooden box. He has a few items with him, including a Zippo lighter and a cell phone, and we spend the film's 90 minutes watching him desperately try to contact anyone to rescue him. The film manages to generate some suspense, and I never grew too irritated with the limited confines of the story/gimmick. Reynolds is also fine in the role, keeping his usual manic motor-mouth persona to the background. 7/10

 

 

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#823 LawrenceA

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Posted 01 February 2017 - 03:38 PM

Born to Raise Hell - Another Steven Seagal action movie set in Eastern Europe. Seagal is part of an international task force after Russian mobsters operating in Bucharest. He shoots a lot of people, slaps even more, and uses profanity like a kid who has just learned his first "dirty words". Seagal is nearly three times the size he was when he started in movies, and coupled with his ridiculous "fuzzy Dracula" hairpiece, he makes for an extremely comical hero. I don't think that was intended, though. 3/10

 

 

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#824 LawrenceA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 10:44 PM

Black Death - Set in mid-14th century England, during the height of the Black Plague, a young initiate at a monastery (Eddie Redmayne) is tasked with leading a band of knights led by Ulrich (Sean Bean) to a village where word has it the residents are free of any signs of the pestilence ravaging the rest of the known world. They encounter the hardships of the era on their journey, but once they reach their destination they don't find what they expected. Also featuring John Lynch, Carice Van Houten and David Warner. This was marketed as a horror movie, and even as a High Fantasy due to Sean Bean's participation, but this is really a gritty period drama with scenes of brutal, bloody violence. History buffs should find enough to make a watch worthwhile, just bring a strong stomach. 6/10

 

 

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#825 LawrenceA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 07:06 PM

A Better Tomorrow -  This is John Woo's 1986 Chinese crime drama classic remade in South Korea. Young-chun and Hyuk escaped from North Korea many years ago, and have become black market arms dealers. News arrives that Hyuk's younger brother Chul has escaped as well, but he resents Hyuk for abandoning him and their mother, who died in a North Korean prison. As Young-chun and Hyuk are sidetracked with various issues related to their criminal enterprises, Chul becomes a police detective, setting the stage for an eventual final confrontation. There is heavy emphasis on character here, and there aren't any action scenes until 30 minutes in. The actors are competent, but something is missing from the original. It may be a question of passage of time diluting the punch of the story. There are still worse ways to spend your time if you're a fan of Asian action films, though. 6/10

 

 

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#826 LawrenceA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 03:18 PM

A Beginner's Guide to Endings - Canadian comedy about 5 brothers who are called back home when their father (Harvey Keitel) dies. During the reading of the will, 3 of the brothers learn that they themselves have not got long to live as they were part of a medical experiment when they were children that has left them with damaged hearts. Each brother then goes about trying to live out the last of their days to the fullest. Starring Scott Caan, Jason Jones, Paulo Costanzo, Wendy Crewson, Tricia Helfer, Stephen McHattie, and JK Simmons. The dysfunctional-family-of-misfits plot has been done to death at this point, but some humorous performances from the excellent cast make this worth a watch. 6/10

 

 

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#827 LawrenceA

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Posted 31 January 2017 - 01:24 PM

Batman: Under the Red Hood - DC Comics animated film rises above many of its contemporaries. The story begins as Jason Todd, the second young man to take the mantle of Robin as Batman's sidekick, is killed by the Joker. Cut to some time later, and Batman is grimly patrolling Gotham City on his own. Word soon starts spreading of a new menace in town, a ruthless, expertly skilled fighter named the Red Hood who is taking over the operations of all of the gangs. It's up to Batman, teamed with the now-grown first Robin, Dick Grayson, who is known as Nightwing, to stop this new mysterious threat before it's too late. The voice cast includes Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Jensen Ackles as Red Hood, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, John DiMaggio as the Joker, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams, Kelly Hu, Dwight Schultz and Gary Cole. The story line is more adult than many of these animated superhero movies without falling into the trap of gratuitous profanity or lowbrow jokes. The animation is still average at best, and I'm not sure about some of the voice cast, especially the gruffer Joker, but this is otherwise well-done, and I have no problem recommending it. 7/10

 

 

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#828 LawrenceA

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Posted 30 January 2017 - 11:02 PM

American Bandits: Frank and Jesse James - Schlock-meister Fred Olen Ray takes a break from his usual chintzy SF and horror efforts to write and direct this terrible western. George Stults and Tim Abell star as the title brothers, post-Civil War outlaws and folk heroes. They are pursued by lawman Marshal Kane (Peter Fonda) who won't rest until the James boys are hanging by a rope. Also featuring Jeffrey Combs. Some pretty scenery is not enough to overcome the dull script and bland performances. 4/10

 

 

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#829 LawrenceA

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Posted 30 January 2017 - 08:33 PM

Almost Invisible - I start my stack of films from 2010 rather inauspiciously with this zero-budget horror misfire. A socially-ostracized goth girl invites her fellow community college classmates to party at her large house while her parents are away. Once the party starts, the usual drinking and messing around begins, only the house is haunted and the party guests become targets. Amateur on nearly every level, with terrible acting, sound, dialogue, cinematography. It's almost a primer on what not to do in a movie. 2/10

 

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#830 LawrenceA

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 11:28 PM

Zombie Women of Satan - I end my stack of 2009 movies, and with the films of the first decade of the 2000's, with this cheesy low-budget British horror comedy. A group of weirdo cabaret sideshow performers travel to a rural farm to do a webcast for publicity sake. However, they stumble upon a mad doctor experimenting with re-animation formulas, and soon enough zombies are loose. It's up to the motley performers to save the day. While it shows a little more style and quality than many American films of the same budget level, it stills flounders in the script department, and most of the acting is barely passable. There is a fair amount of pulchritude on display, and the humor may appeal to others more than it did me. 4/10

 

 

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#831 LawrenceA

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 09:01 PM

Youth in Revolt - Quirky comedy starring Michael Cera as an awkward high schooler who longs to find love. While on vacation he meets a beautiful young woman (Portia Doubleday) with whom he falls madly in love. To be with her, he embarks on a series of misadventures, including creating an alternate personality that acts in a more assertive, aggressive manner. Also featuring Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Ari Graynor, Rooney Mara, M. Emmet Walsh, Mary Kay Place, Justin Long, Fred Willard and Ray Liotta. I know that Cera's persona rubs many people the wrong way, but I find him hilarious, and I thought this was one of his best performances. 7/10

 

 

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#832 LawrenceA

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 07:13 PM

Wonder Woman - Animated movie featuring the origin story of the DC Comics Amazon heroine. Diana lives on the hidden island of the Amazons, where the denizens have enjoyed an idyllic, immortal existence for centuries. But when American fighter pilot Steve Trevor crashes onto the island, and the god of war Ares escapes from his prison back into the world of man, Diana must travel into the human's realm to set things right. Featuring the voice talents of Keri Russell as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Rosario Dawson, Marg Helgenberger, Oliver Platt, David McCallum and Virginia Madsen. This benefits from snappier dialogue than the norm, even if the animation is average at best. 7/10

 

 

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#833 LawrenceA

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 04:35 PM

Walled In - Horror thriller about an engineer (Mischa Barton) who travels to a remote apartment building to prepare it for demolition. She discovers that many of the residents are still living there, and a few aren't happy to see her. She also befriends an odd young man (Cameron Bright) who tells her about the series of murders that took place there in the past, with the bodies being sealed up in the walls. Soon mysterious and deadly occurrences begin, and she must fight to survive. Also with Deborah Kara Unger, Eugene Clark and Noam Jenkins. There are a few moments of interest but not enough to recommend the film to anyone but the most die-hard horror fans. Made in Saskatchewan. 4/10

 

 

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#834 LawrenceA

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 03:05 PM

Wake Wood - Supernatural thriller from the recently revived Hammer Films. A veterinarian (Aiden Gillen) and his pharmacist wife (Eva Birthistle) lose their daughter in a horrific accident. They move to the rural Irish village of Wakewood to try and move forward with their lives, but they learn that the town conducts occult rituals that revive the recently deceased. Against the recommendations of the town elders, they revive their daughter, who may not be quite the same little girl. It's like a mash-up of The Wicker Man, Deathdream and Pet Sematary. Timothy Spall plays the avuncular town mayor. This isn't terrible, although it leans heavily on loud soundtrack stings for jump scares, and as noted, it seems highly derivative of many other films. 6/10

 

 

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#835 LawrenceA

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Posted 29 January 2017 - 12:32 PM

Vs. the Dead - Very low-budget horror comedy about a chemical developed by the US military for use in Afghanistan accidentally falling into the hands of a rural Canadian tattoo artist. He mistakes it for ink and uses it to tattoo a client, which results in said client becoming a bloodthirsty zombie. It's up to some workers at a local pizza joint and the slackers who hang out there to stop the quickly spreading zombie menace. The amateurish quality of the acting and a very hit-or-miss script sabotage the effort, although it shows some occasional panache in the camera department. However, the decision to add layers of effects over the whole movie to make it appear like a degraded "grindhouse" print, complete with scratches and clumsy edits, was a mistake. Made in Caistorville, Ontario. 3/10

 

 

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#836 LawrenceA

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:28 PM

The Twilight Saga: New Moon - Second installment in the hit supernatural teen romance series. Mopey high school girl Bella (Kristen Stewart) is still dating 100-years-old-but-still-in-high-school vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson). Their relationship hits a rough patch when she realizes that she will eventually age into an old woman while he stays young and sparkly, and he realizes that he and his extended vampire "family' have to struggle not to eat her. Bella finds solace in the warm embrace of childhood friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner), a nice Native American boy who has grown into a muscular heartthrob. But Bella sure can pick 'em, since Jacob turns out to be a (nice) werewolf. Thus it becomes a love triangle between sad human Bella, broody vampire Edward, and chiseled werewolf Jacob. What's a girl to do? The first one was a hit, so the budget was bigger this time, but things still look kind of cheap and goofy, and the script is dull when it isn't outright stupid. Also featuring Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick, Christian Serratos, Peter Facinelli, Graham Greene, Ashley Greene, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Daniel Cudmore, Kellan Lutz, Rachele Lefevre, Christopher Heyerdahl, Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen. 4/10

 

 

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#837 LawrenceA

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 06:24 PM

Tetsuo: The Bullet Man - Second sequel to writer/director Shin'ya Tsukamoto's acclaimed 1989 movie Tetsuo: The Iron Man. This adds more of a plot, but it lacks the bravura, bizarre shock of the original. An American living and working in Japan witnesses the death of his son and begins undergoing a strange body metamorphosis into a cyborg-like living weapon. Lots of shaky-cam and LOUD music. 5/10

 

 

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#838 LawrenceA

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 03:31 PM

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies - Poorly-animated superhero cartoon. The plot is a laugh, though. During a time of economic hardship and civil unrest, Lex Luthor runs for US president under a pledge to "make America great again" and to do something about the "aliens". His populist rhetoric leads to a surprise election day victory, and his first order of business is to outlaw any superheroes that won't agree to work directly for the US government. Superman and Batman refuse, and so Luthor manipulates events to make them both fugitives and targets for super-villains acting as bounty hunters. The voice cast includes Tim Daly as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Clancy Brown as Luthor, Xander Berkeley, Allison Mack, John C. McGinley, LeVar Burton and CCH Pounder. While it was fun seeing some of the more obscure characters on screen, the shoddy animation design and the brief running time make this a lesser effort among the recent cartoon superhero films. 6/10

 

 

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#839 LawrenceA

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Posted 28 January 2017 - 02:48 PM

Soul Power - Concert documentary is a sort of companion piece to the 1996 documentary When We Were Kings, which told the tale of the Muhammad Ali-vs-George Foreman boxing match held in Zaire and known at the "Rumble in the Jungle". Along with the boxing match, a 3-day music festival was held featuring many artists from the US and across Africa. This film shows the organization and set-up of that music festival, as well 14 music performances from artists such as the Spinners, B.B. King, Bill Withers, and James Brown. 7/10

 

 

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#840 LawrenceA

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 11:06 PM

Solomon Kane - Adaptation of the Robert E. Howard pulp character. James Purefoy stars as the title 17th century hero, a former pirate and warrior who has renounced violence and embraced Puritanism in an attempt to redeem his lost soul. When a supernatural menace spreads across the land, Kane must once again take up the sword to fight the devil's hordes. Purefoy is good in the role, although he doesn't wear Kane's signature Puritan slouch hat enough. This was well-made (much better than I expected, honestly), and makes for a good old-fashioned hero-vs-monster romp. Also featuring Pete Postlethwaite, Alice Krige, Jason Flemyng and Max Von Sydow. 7/10

 

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