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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Podcast: Ross And Phil Hijack – The Education of Josh – Empire Records (1995)

Podcast: Ross And Phil Hijack – The Education of Josh – Empire Records (1995)

Ross and Phil Talk Movies The Podcasts

To celebrate Rex Manning Day, here’s the Empire Records edition of The Education of Josh.

Josh has seen loads of films. Mostly Disney. Phil has seen loads of films that Josh should have seen but hasn’t. Join Phil as he takes Josh through an education in movies – Film by Film.  This episode Phil educates Josh on: Empire Records (1995)

Films Discussed: Empire Records, Everybody Wants Some, The Breakfast Club, Dazed & Confused 

Hosted Phil Hobden (Ross And Phil Talk Movies) and Josh Morris (The Smoking Lamb)

#TheEducationOfJosh #RossAndPhilTalkMovies #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts #TheSmokingLamb

 

 

 

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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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Arlington Road (1999) – A Quick Capsule Review

Arlington Road (1999) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Arlington Road is a more than competent, well directed and acted thriller with a game changing ending that you just don’t see coming and elevated the film from being just pretty good to being great. The film IS more than its twist however and to be fair Robbins, snarling his way through the film, is great value whilst Bridges is excellent at being ‘on edge’.  The films preposterous for sure but if you buy into it (and I really did) it’s superb, cleverly laid out fun.  It’s aged pretty and Arlington Road remains a memorable 90’s thriller that’s well worth revisiting.

Best Bit: THAT ending

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Primal Fear, The Sixth Sense, Blown Away

 


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The Stand (1994) – A Quick Capsule Review

The Stand (1994) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Stephen King’s The Stand is a long book and the 90’s mini series is an equally long show, clocking in at over 6 hours.  And much like a lot of King’s work it’s not immune to filler, feeling at least an hour too long.  That said considering its age and budget, The Stand is still pretty effective even if it has dated poorly at times.  The first 2 parts are the strongest and the ending still feels out of place but overall I really enjoyed revisiting The Stand especially considering the world we are now in!

Best Bit: The initial plague

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Contagion, 28 Days later, The Walking Dead

 


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Under Siege (1992) – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Under Siege (1992) – A Rewatched Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Under Siege was yet another Die Hard clone – this time it’s Die Hard… On A Boat.  With added Gary Busey.  At the height of his success Steven Seagal made what was then his biggest film and, to be fair to him, he’s never looked leaner or more sharp.  The central concept  is barking mad – former & current soldiers lead a hostile take over of a military ship for some reason that mostly you don’t care about.  Ultimately this is about Seagal being Seagal and beating the snot out of a LOT of bad guys. Which is something he does very well indeed.  There’s nothing new here, even for 1992, but years later the film still works well and is never dull.  So not groundbreaking but for sure it’s a whole lot of fun and well worth a rewatch.

Best Bit: Busey is obviously having the time of his life.

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Die Hard, Speed, Toy Soldiers 

 


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Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse (1991) – A Quick Capsule Review

Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse (1991) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse is a fascinating look behind the scenes of the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s groundbreaking Apocalypse Now, with footage shot by his wife Eleanor. It’s tells the story of a production plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems–nearly destroying the life and career of the director and a few of the cast.  It’s essential viewing for anyone with more than just a passing interest in film and the art of filmmaking.

Best Bit: Brando

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Lost In LaMancha, Full Tilt Boogie, American Movie

 


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The Fugitive (1993) – A Quick Capsule Review

The Fugitive (1993) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
The Fugitive and I have a long history.  For no fault of what is obviously a good film I’ve thrice failed to actually watch the film from start to finish.  Long journey’s, late night screenings… whatever the reason I’ve never managed to get to the end credits. Until now.  And I can finally say, without exception, that The Fugitive is a bloody good thriller. Even when you know all about the one armed man.  And the escape. And pretty much all of it. So 25 years after it’s release I can finally cross off The Fugitive from my list of films I should have seen… next up Citizen Kane.  Maybe!

Best Bit: Escape

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: US Marshalls, Air Force One, Patriot Games

 


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Alien 3: The Assembly Cut (2003) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Alien 3: The Assembly Cut (2003) – A Hall of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
I’ve long been an apologist for Alien 3 as a movie.  Yup it’s flaw and yup it had serious production issues but in truth I watched Fincher’s red headed step child as much as I ever did Alien (if not more). The Assembly Cut however, a faux directors cut that pieces together a vision as close to Fincher’s as you will ever get, is a very different beast.  Longer, more detailed and at times slower (in a good way), this version makes some major changes – not least origin or the Alien and cutting that horrible ‘Ripley grabs Alien as it bursts out moment’ – that make sense of the story far more.  It’s still flawed for sure (the CGI is still dated) but it’s a film that feels real and, in this extended cut, that stands aside as a very different beast to Alien and Aliens.  In short: Alien 3: The Assembly Cut deserves to be rewatched by the haters.

Best Bit: The longer opening

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Alien, Aliens, Alien: Resurrection 

Hall-of-Fame

 


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Air Force One (1997) – A Quick Capsule Review

Air Force One (1997) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Rarely does a film hold up twenty years down the line.  Out of time and out of context, films tend to date.  Even rarer is finding one that is maybe better all these years later.  Well Air Force One could well be that film.  Okay so it’s derivative as hell but it’s a joke that everyone seems to share.  The cast know how silly the film is (even usually straight laced Harrison Ford seems to be having fun) , it has a bundle of decent action sequences and, as always, Gary Oldman does a bang up job taking a text book bad guy character and giving him (a few) layers. Wolfgang Petersen directs solidly and you cant help but smile as the tension and silliness ramps up.  All in all it’s cracking fun.

Best Bit: “Get off my plane”

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Con Air, Executive Decision, White House Down 

 


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