Joe Sixpack's Film Blog: November, 2003
November, 2003


"Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers" (MGM, 1963)

"The Man On The Train" (2003)

French rocker-cum-actor Johnny Hallyday


"The Queen Of Spades" (MGM, 1963)

"The Scandal Of Paris" (MGM, 1963)

Douglas Sirk


"Odd Man Out" (Rank Organization, 1947)

"Along Came Jones" ()


"The Assassination Bureau" (Paramount, 19xx)

"The Wrong Box" (Columbia)


"Terminator 3" (Warner, 2003)
As a Californian, I didn't exactly feel impelled to rush out and rent this one... After all, it's only two hours longs, but here in the late, great Golden State we can now look forward to several years worth of watching Arnold wasting millions of dollars, flushing our future down the drain, and pretending to save the world.

Where are The Machines when you really need them...??


"The Assassination Bureau" (1969)
The ever-sinister Oliver Reed stars in this broadly-played comedic farce as the suave, deadly head of an international assassination ring, who is hired by a lovely lady... to assassinate himself! It doesn't hurt that his client is none other than Diana Rigg herself (fresh from her role as Miss Emma Peel, on the Avengers TV show...) I had thought that this would be more of an action film, but it's actually more of a romp... Still, it's a nice vehicle for both the main stars. And Diana Rigg was such a babe!!


"The Hulk" (Palm Pictures, 2002)
I grew up reading all of the major (and most of the minor) Marvel comics titles of the 1960s and '70s... In the '80s, I drifted away, at first because the various titles had become so static and shoddy, and then later because the artwork had become so stylized and fetishistic. By the 1990s, Marvel began to radically overhaul all its main titles, and the Hulk was one of the characters that they messed with the most. Because I never liked the hyper-realistic, overly muscular, overly defined artwork that came into vogue around this time, I was driven away from many titles, "The Hulk" in particular, started to have about a zillion rippling muscles that just don't exist outside of a bodybuilder's wet dream. Still, every few months or so I would pick one up and see what was happening, and for a while I was able to keep up... I gather that around this time was when they introduced the goofy psychoanalitic aspects that define the screenplay of this film: all Hulk's problems stem from a bad relationship to his Daddy. (In the comic, the theme of domestic violence was much stronger and heavy-handed than in this film...)

Anyway, as a Marvel loyalist, I've always checked out the various film adaptations, and while Hollywood invariably fouls things up somehow, I have to say, I was more impressed by this film than I thought I would be. The special effects are fabulous -- I actually watched several of the action scenes over before returning the rental, and if I were still nine years old, I probably would have gone to see this movie in the theatres at least a dozen times. Why they have to muck with the original premises of these stories, I really dunno (the Hulk is no longer the product of an atomic bomb, but rather some sort of genetic testing...) but in general, as these things go, this flick was pretty good. Mostly I am cheered by seeing such good, exciting special effects, onscreen action that finally matches the sense of wonder that the old Stan Lee-Jack Kirby comics could instill. My hope is that Hollywood will one day start cranking these things out with almost as much regularity as the comicbook industry itself, and as the making of these fantasy films becomes more commonplace, producers will eventually stop feeling the need to "legitimize" then by making the plots so overly complex and drearily serious. Once they find the easygoing rhythm of the original 'Sixties issues, then the fun will really start!!


"The City Of Ghosts" (MGM, 2003)
An interesting, if ultimately underwhelming, tale about a midlevel conman (Matt Dillon, who also directed) whose boss (James Caan) has split for Southeast Asia, leaving him holding the bag when their insurance scam goes belly-up. Dillon tracks his disappeared boss to Cambodia, and sets about trying to collect his severance pay, only to find out that he himself is kind of a babe in the woods when up against the uniquely violent, corrupt society that is post-Khymer Rouge Cambodia. I thought the film fell flat (though my viewing partners were utterly entranced) -- the glimpse into Cambodian life was fascinating and felt true, but the parade-of-misfits plotline (equal parts Casablanca, Blue Velvet and Anything Goes) felt overly familiar. The music used was fascinating (including a song from the CAMBODIAN ROCKS compilation!) and earned the inclusion of the soundtrack in my Crazy Asian Pop reviews... Interesting effort, though, and engrossing enough to merit a recommendation to adventurous viewers...


"The Mouse On The Moon" (MGM, 1963)

One of my favorite comedies from back when I was a kid (and they used to show old films like this on broadcast TV...) One of those rare instances in which a sequel to a cult film is still fun enough to make it on its own merits, despite losing the original lead actor. This is the followup to the kooky Peter Sellers classic, The Mouse That Roared, returning us to Duchy of Grand Fenwick, an eccentric European backwater that makes Lichtenstein seem like the Ottoman Empire. Sellers is gone, but the farce remains, as the Grand Fenwickians inadvertently enter the Cold War space race, with the US, USSR and UK all falling over themselves to try and either control or subvert the tiny country's absurdly rickety space program. There are fine character bits, with Ron Moody and Margaret Rutherford starring, respectively, as Grand Fenwick's prime minister and queen, but what makes this film an enduring classic is how deftly it satirizes the already-farcical propaganda wars between America and the Soviet Union (that Great Britain really factored in as a "player" in the Kennedy-era Cold War is a quaint, Bond-ian affectation...) A genuinely funny film that stands on its own dramatically, but which is also a priceless snapshot of the times it was made in. Recommended!

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