Sunday Matinee: At The Earth’s Core

After The Land That Time Forgot’s success, Amicus Studios re-teamed director Kevin Connor with actor Doug McClure for an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Victorian-set novel At the Earth’s Core. To class things up a bit, Peter Cushing was added to the cast as the scientist Dr. Abner Perry. In At The Earth’s Core, Perry, along with David Innes (McClure) test the Iron Mole — a giant drilling machine capable of digging to the centre of the Earth. Little do they suspect they’re about to discover the mysterious underground realm Pellucidar and its strange, often hostile inhabitants.
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Sunday Matinee: Journey To The Center Of The Earth

Jules Verne’s classic 1864 lost world novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth was finally made into a movie in 1959.

The movie was made by 20th Century Fox after the success of two other Jules Verne’s novels. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Around the World in 80 Days (1956). James Mason stars as Professor Lindenbrook.
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Sunday Matinee: The Valley Of Gwangi

So I seem to still be on a Lost World kick and I realize I’ve never written about the entertaining 1969 movie The Valley of Gwangi. Let’s fix that. 

Set in the early 1900s, The Valley of Gwangi follows a travelling cowboy show run by T.J. Breckenridge (Gila Golan) that performs in Mexico. T.J.’s ex-boyfriend, Tuck Kirby (James Franciscus), has come back to buy her out. T.J. refuses—she’s got a new attraction that will be bring in the money: a miniature horse. But when Tuck shows Professor Bromley (Laurence Naismith) the tiny thing, Bromley claims it’s an extinct Eohippus. Whoa. Could there be other prehistoric wonders out there?
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REVIEW: We Go On… For a Manageable 90 Minutes

For a low-budget genre flick, there are several things We Go On does right. It’s a self-contained film that doesn’t chew more than it can eat, features a true to life dialogue, and -above all- invests on a good cast, namely John Glover in a supporting role and the perennially underrated Annette O’Toole as one of the leads.

The plot: Crippled by phobias and fear of dying, Miles (Clark Freeman) comes to the conclusion the only way he can move on with his life is by having certainty there is something beyond the grave. He literally throws money to the problem by offering 30,000 dollars to the first person able to prove we go on (see what I did there?)

Predictably, Miles receives hundreds of answers, but only four capture his attention: An academic, a medium, an adventurer and a mysterious caller. Alongside his concerned mother (O’Toole), Miles goes on a supernatural tryout that may render undesired results.

The heart of the film is the relationship between Miles and his mom. In spite of the context, the two maintain a healthy rapport, which ups the ante. The top half slow-burning leads to a more traditional -if competent- conclusion. The denouement works with recognizable genre troupes, but still manages to provide a surprise or two.

Because We Go On is aware of its limitations, it doesn’t try for the ‘wow’ factor. It could have taken some risks and deliver some jolts, but overall, it’s a tidy endeavor. Two and a half planets.

We Go On is available on Shudder.

Sunday Matinee: The Land That Time Forgot

Edgar Rice Burroughs had dabbled in the lost world genre before he wrote his classic The Land That Time Forgot in 1918. The first film adaptation didn’t occur until 1975 with legendary fantasy writer Michael Moorcock writing the screenplay.

Set during WWI a British boat has been torpedoed by a German u-boat. The survivors manage to get aboard the u-boat and take it over. The Germans manage to sabotage the navigation and the u-boat ends up in the south Atlantic where they come across a lost continent called Caprona.
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REVIEW: A Man Called Ove Is the Hidden Gem of the Oscar Race

In this year’s Best Foreign Language Film’s Oscar race, Toni Erdmann has the critics’ love and The Salesman locks up the controversy factor.

A Man Called Ove is more low-key than its peers, but it’s a better movie that’s worth of your attention.

(Oddly, it also got a second nomination: Best Make Up.)

The Ove in question (Rolf Lassgård, Wallander) is a cantankerous man on the verge of becoming a sexagenarian. Deemed redundant by the factory he has worked at his entire life and without his wife, Ove doesn’t have a good reason to go on.

But just as he’s adjusting the noose around his neck, a noisy Persian-Swedish family moves in next door. If there’s something stronger than Ove’s death wish, it’s the need to tell people off (think of a darker Curb Your Enthusiasm). Soon, the situation becomes a loop and every time Ove is close to meet his maker, we get a flashback that helps us understand the grumpy old man. Let’s just say he has been dealt a number of rotten hands through the years.

Besides lots of black humor, A Man Called Ove is a fun character study that shows the power of community and the benefits of diversity. The film may not be as cutting as the competition, but for sure is timely. Four planets.

A Man Called Ove opens today at the Roxy.

Sunday Matinee: When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s Hammer Studios found success with a steady stream of cavewoman movies. Starting with One Million Years B.C. in 1966 Hammer followed it up with the weaker Prehistoric Women which had a blondes versus brunettes plot. The third film they made was 1970’s When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth.

Directed by Hammer veteran Val Guest (The Quatermass Xperiment) and with the Oscar nominated stop motion effects by the underrated Jim Danforth this is another of Hollywood’s anachronistical movies where dinosaurs and humans live together at the same time.
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Sunday Matinee: Deluge

Today’s Sunday Matinee is a apocalyptic disaster film from 1933 Deluge. The movie was a modest hit when it was released but it after it’s special effects footage was reused in a couple of Republic serials the movie became one of the unfortunate lost films. In 1981 an Italian dubbed version was found and that is how it’s been viewed since until now.

Kino Lorber is releasing a brand new 2K restored print on Blu-ray February 21. This new print was discovered in the archives of the Centre National du Cinéma et de L’Image Animée in France. The print was restored and the movie was given a limited theatrical release (as usual no where near here) and now folks can finally see the movie the way it was originally 84 years ago.
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Sunday Matinee: Heat

Director Michael Mann has only made 11 movies over his forty year career and arguably his best is this 1995 crime heist thriller.

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro were both in The Godfather Part II but they never shared screen time. De Niro played a young version of Pacino’s father Vito in the film so when Heat first appeared in theatres there was lots of hype for their big face off. Director Mann kept that on screen time to a minimum but works.
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REVIEW: War on Everyone Is at Peace with Itself

Alexander Skarsgaard and Michael Peña midst-War.

One of the most competent scriptwriters in the English language, John Michael McDonagh is guaranteed to be at least entertaining: The Guard gets a lot of millage from the contrast between a rowdy Irish cop and an uptight FBI agent; Calvary follows a priest under a death threat who discovers his entire congregation is just the worst. Just imagine a Coen Brothers movie in which the characters are not completely miserable.

War on Everyone brings McDonagh to America (New Mexico, the land of Breaking Bad) and the outcome is not half bad. The compelling, complicated characters are there, same as the crackling dialogue. The overarching plot falls apart half way through and yet remains more amusing than the similarly inclined The Nice Guys. Continue reading “REVIEW: War on Everyone Is at Peace with Itself”