What NOT to Watch:  A Corana Movie Survival Guide By Grosse Point Geek

What NOT to Watch: A Corana Movie Survival Guide By Grosse Point Geek

A Blog Other Cr*p Quick Review

In these rather strange and troubling times we are living in at the moment it is of course very easy to get depressed and down in the dumps.  Many of us are naturally struggling to fill the time in the absence of being able to do normal things – like visit family and friends, go to the pubs, restaurants, theatres or cinemas. So what to do to stave off the COVID19 blues? Some people are playing board games, some are listening to music, others are on their play stations or Xboxes.

However if you are like me (a notoriously obsessed film geek) you may be raiding your dvd/blu ray collection or trawling though Netflix and Amazon Prime in search of some thing to watch. So to help you all out I have compiled a few lists of films and box sets to see you though the coming weeks.

Next Up: Films to avoid like the plague (no pun intended)

 

  • Armageddon

 

  • Deep Impact

 

  • Contagion

 

  • Outbreak

 

  • Mad Max 1 2 3 and 4

 

  • Threads

 

  • Night Of The Living Dead

 

  • Dawn Of The Dead

 

  • Day Of The Dead

 

  • Land Of The Dead

 

  • Seven

 

  • War Of The Worlds

 

  • The Swarm

 

  • When Worlds Collide

 

  • Schindlers List

 

  • Doomsday

 

  • The Day After Tomorrow

 

  • Independence Day

 

  • 2012

 

  • The Plague Dogs

 

  • Day Of The Triffids

 

  • Old Yella

 

  • Tarka The Otter

 

  • Steel Dawn

 

  • Bambi

 

  • Dumbo

 

  • Eraserhead

 

  • The Elephant Man

 

  • Anything directed by Ingmar Bergman and Lars Von Trier

 

I’ll be back with more lists to help get you through the current Film and new release shortage!

Contagion (2011) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Contagion (2011) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Contagion is a superbly tense, gritty look at how the world falls part when pushed to its limits by a highly contagious virus.  Matt Damon especially delivers in a very untypical role and the star studied support cast are all on top form. Okay so maybe Outbreak is more fun but Contagion is far more scary.  Excellent if chilling.

Best Bit: Day 1

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Outbreak, The Invasion, I Am Legend 

 


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The Three Musketeers (1993)- A Quick Capsule Review

The Three Musketeers (1993)- A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Teaming bankable box office gold and real life rogues Sheen and Sutherland together alongside newcomer O’Donnell must have seemed like a master stroke at the time.  Add in a few other mainstays of early 90’s cinema, some hot up and comers like Anwar and Delpy and an historical vibe and you should have had a classic.  Sadly it didn’t quite end that well but revisiting this film some 28+ years later it’s amazing just how enjoyable it actually is.  Okay yes it’s deeply flawed and the 90’s action feels pretty cheap but it’s almost worth watching for Tim Curry alone who gives a masterful performance of scenery chewing.  Honestly the 90’s Three Musketeers is MUCH better than you remember and thanks to Disney Plus you can relive it in it’s full 1080p glory.  What more could you ask for?

Best Bit: Curry.

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Young Guns, The Rocketeer, The Man in the Iron Mask, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves 

 


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Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Rex Manning Day: Empire Records (1995) – A (Not So) Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s (Not So) Quick Capsule Review:  Empire Records was a massive bomb on it’s original release.  Critically and commercially.  Roger Ebert hated it (that said he hated The Usual Suspects…), Variety labelled it as “Soundtrack in search for a movie”  and it grossed under £300k on it’s theatrical release.   Yet as the years go on so the cult around Empire Records continues to grow and grow.  From regular midnight screenings to the annual Rex Manning Day celebrations (8th April) more and more people have come around to the fact that Empire Records is, actually, pretty damn good.

The story, as such, is about an independent record store on the brink of a take over by a nasty big multi national chain called Music Town stuck with a eclectic team of broken teens and an ego manic musician reluctantly there to plug his new album.  In reality it’s coming of age story that kind of ends up being a 90’s Breakfast Club set in a Record Store rather than a detention.  But, like many a cult hit, this film is less about the story and more about the feels & the characters.  And that is something this film has in spades.

Backtrack.  I discovered Empire Records in a video shop in my home town of Lewes (Lewes Videos take a much deserved bow) thanks mostly to it’s excellent owner who had an ability to find little heard of classics and fill his shelves with them.  From 80’s actioners Action Jackson, Never To Young To Die and my love of Jackie Chan – without that shop I’d probably not be writing this review here.   See before the internet, before Facebook and Instagram a cult hit became a cult hit often from a knowledgeable video clerk pointing you in the direction of something a little special.  Yes the Tarantino stories of video shop life weren’t all exaggerations!  Sadly those days have now passed but I do wonder if this film came out now and had similar reception if it’s fandom would grow as much as it has or would it’s 30 score on Metacritic or sub 30% on Rotten Tomatoes consign it to some little seen Sky Movies channel at 4am in the morning?  

It was a film that initially felt ahead of it times whilst being a launch pad for the careers of at least 3 big stars (Zellweger, Tyler and Tunney).  And this is the key Empire Records continued success.  The cast are brilliant.   Be it Liv Tyler’s innocent but broken Harvard student Corey or Rene Zellweger’s s–ty Gina, Maxwell Caulfield egotist singer Rex Manning or Anthony LaPaglia heart of gold store manager Joe… Empire’s characters resonate hard. For sure it’s not the best acted or directed film of the 90’s. But it’s cast gave it heart and soul, making it relatable.

Oh and the soundtrack.  I’ve seen empire Records well over twenty times. But the soundtrack I’ve listened to hundreds.  And much like the films cast it’s full of oddballs, strangeness, 2nd tier hits and one hit wonders it’s soundtrack delivers an eclectic mix from Coyote Shivers to Edwin Collins.  Look beyond the official soundtrack album to Spotify playlists that have been created with music that didn’t make it to the CD and you’ll find even more quirky tracks covering Gwar, Dire Straights and many more.

I have to admit part of the original appeal for me was Liv Tyler.  Empire was Tyler’s third film (after the very good Heavy and the little seen Silent Fall) but I’m pretty sure I caught it after seeing her in Stealing beauty (a wonderful film in itself). I had a major crush so anything with Tyler in was a draw for me.  She still remains a very underrated actress, with film appearances fleeting after the early successes.

No commentary for this film could pass without reference to the wonderful creation that is Rex Manning.  Part Hoff part every one hit wonder clinging to his heyday singer that’s ever been, former teen star Maxwell Caulfield who himself has something of a high and low filled career (see the critically hated Grease 2) delivers a note perfect slimeball performance backed up by the so bad it’s brilliant ‘Say No More Mon Amour’ track.

Don’t get me wrong the film has flaws.  It’s random to the point of being totally undisciplined, certain characters (Mark) seem like they are in a different film and it’s no surprise that few of the male cast broke big down the line.  BUT no work of art, no movie is perfect and it’s flaws just make it that bit more real.

Even thought Empire Records flopped on it’s release, in the 20 plus years that have followed it’s cult has grown enough for it to get some much needed love back from the rights holders. A ‘Fan Edit’ a few years back was released  (I’m not a massive fan as it kills the pacing and makes certain sections drag longer than they should) and a US Region A BluRay Release.  Outside the official stuff, there’s Etsy shops galore with pins, name badges and posters and Rex Manning Day has become a thing.  No really.

Empire Records was of it’s time.  And like many films I hold dear from my formative years, it’s one that stuck with me.  I’ve never shown it to anyone that didn’t love it.  I embrace it’s flaws.  I love it’s quirkiness and like Warren I too deep down just wanted Joe to give me a job.

Damn the man, Save The Empire! 

 


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Charlie’s Angels (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Charlie’s Angels (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
I for one quite enjoyed McG’s original Charlie’s Angels film, flawed as it was.  The sequel less so but still.  And now 19 years later a new Angels film arrives and, much like 2015’s Ghostbusters reboot, the hate was a flying.  Unlike 2015’s Ghostbusters reboot this one’s actually often enjoyable, mostly thanks to the chemistry on display from the three main leads.   Star, writer and director Banks does an okay job but the major flaw here is that the action across the board is really flat and televisual.  With Barrymore, Diaz and Liu you actually believed they could be kick arse says and, for all his many faults, McG can produce slick action.  Here none of the three leads really convinces in the action stakes and, when your film is built round that, it becomes somewhat of a fatal floor. A great support cast helps (Stewart hams it up perfectly) but you can’t help but feel with a stronger action director this film could have been far, far better.

Best Bit: The cast have great chemistry

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Charlie’s Angels (2000), Charlie’s Angels Full Throttle (2003), Knight and Day

 


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The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

The Standoff at Sparrow Creek (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek throws in elements of Reservoir Dogs & City On Fire in a simple but tense story that expertly holds you from start to finish. An independent film directed by newcomer Henry Dunham, it certainly doesn’t do anything new (it’s twists and turns have been seen numerous times before)  but what it does it does REALLY well and is super tense even when the story spirals out of control a touch.  In short: well worth a watch.

Best Bit: The Ending

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: The Usual Suspects, Reservoir Dogs, City On Fire 

 


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Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Once Upon a Time In Hollywood (2019) – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The 9th film (don’t get me started!) by Quentin Tarantino was also the one that I was looking forward to the least.  Great cast… check.  Old Hollywood theme… check.  But another rambling near 3 hour Tarantino film after the disappointments of Hateful Eight, Django and almost all his films since Jackie Brown… Check. But Once Upon a Time In Hollywood won me over.  It’s not perfect for sure (it’s far too long and has a middle section that adds nothing to the film) BUT the central cast are quite simply phenomenal and this is Tarantino both at his most and least Tarantino… a balance that oddly works.  Okay so the last act feels oddly tacked on and his once again history meddling feels strange but on balance this was a well directed, expertly acted romp that has more positives than negatives.

Best Bit: The old ranch

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, True Romance 

 


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Bloodline (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Bloodline (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Bloodline feels so much like a movie version of TV show Dexter (well the good seasons at least) that it should throw the iconic TV show an ‘Inspired by’ credit. Look Bloodline isn’t bad.  It’s just totally forgettable other than one fact… it’s full on gory and nudity that reminds me of the video nasties back in the 80’s.   And in an age of 12 rated horror films it felt pretty fresh and unique.  Other than that not much to recommend here…

Best Bit: The film is 80’s level gory

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Dexter (TV), Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Seven 

 


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Game Night (2018) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Game Night (2018) – A Revisited Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Game Night is a fantastic film, highly original, funny and real treat.  The story of a group of friends who meet regularly for game nights find themselves entangled in a real-life mystery, Game Night runs with it’s concept brilliantly throwing in a few twists and turns along the way with some smart humour and winning performances from the talented cast.  What sets this film aside is that it’s directed and shot with real flair.  Simply put Game Night is well worth a watch and could ned up being on my top 10 list for 2018.

Best Bit: The Egg

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: The Game, Horrible Bosses, Manhattan Murder Mystery

 


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Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken (2019) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Filmmaker Morgan Spurlock opens  fast food chicken shop. Yup the guy who ate nothing but McDonalds for a month goes after the fast food industry again to dispute their claims that it is now healthier, more natural and organic. Holy Chicken may lack the humour and originality of the original Super Size Me but it doesn’t lack any of the bite as Spurlock goes after everything from the marketing to distribution to Big Chicken, breaking down just how flawed and fake the industry really is.  In short Super Size Me 2 is super entertaining but we’ve seen this before which ultimately takes away a degree of the films bite.

Best Bit: The grand opening

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Super Size Me, McLibel, Food Inc

 


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