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P. I. Johnson RSS Feed (Cape Town, South Africa)

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The Fog (Widescreen Unrated Edition)
The Fog (Widescreen Unrated Edition)
DVD ~ Tom Welling
Price: $4.80
337 used & new from $0.01

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A moronic, pointless remake - one of the worst ever, July 7, 2006
What a stinker! This movie is a complete insult to horror fans. In the world according to Cooper Layne (the writer of this dross) and Rupert Wainwright ("director") all we want are pitiful rehashes of better horror scenes we already know - and dumb babes showing gratuitous flesh. (What's with every girl wearing a bikini or underwear - even when the guys are dressed for winter? Never thought it would, but it really begins to grate! And check out the totally gratuitous thigh shot of Selma Blair when talking to her son in bed.) Newsflash - these alone do not a good horror movie make! And what about the totally pointless love scene slowing down Act 1? Huh? In the original, this works because it tells you about the instant attraction between Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins (who've just met for the first time). In this rubbish - given that the two characters have a prior relationship - it serves no purpose at all. As for scares, good luck finding one! Simply showing gore, ghostly footprints and spectres - normally all good things in a horror movie - doesn't do much if the context is poorly set-up. This is amateurish horror-by-numbers. It assumes that horror fans (and teenagers) are morons.You actually begin to feel sorry for how desperately they want to scare you - and how miserably they fail. And it's arrogant to change the original's brilliant story and characters if all you ca come up with is at the level of a daytime soap. If you can't do it better, why bother? Oh right, to get the cash of those teens who apparently can't bother to watch the original. This is totally unscary, poorly written rubbish. Don't waste your money. Get the far scarier original.

Man on Fire
Man on Fire
DVD ~ Denzel Washington
Price: $4.99
371 used & new from $0.01

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Will someone please keep Mr Scott out of post-production?, August 23, 2004
This review is from: Man on Fire (DVD)
This movie ought to be offered up at film schools as a textbook example of how great actors, a solid premise and a potentially riveting story can be wrecked by a director too far up his own gazoo. It's rather pointless elaborating on Man on Fire's strengths given how fatally the film is debilitated by Tony Scott's empty post-MTV visual sensibilities, his camera stuttering and jerking its way through distracting fast cuts on its way to telling a conventional revenge story that could ultimately probably have been better served by a less pretentious journeyman director (where were you Andrew Davis?). Scott's of course already demonstrated his uniquely incompetent knack for being unable to tell a story sensibly (in the De Niro / Snipes suspenser The Fan - in which he discovered the apparently novel technique of flashily cutting to something distracting whenever things threatened to become suspenseful!) If anything, the evidence here indicates he is even further beyond the control of anyone able to restrain him from his own egoistic creative excesses. And, not being a Polanski or a Coppola, his misjudgements don't even rise to the level of the interesting or ambitious. Instead, like Cherry Coke, the consumption experience - and the creative impulse driving it - is distasteful and crass (not much unlike, interestingly enough, the equally-stylised emptiness of brother Ridley's vacuous fascist jerk-off, Black Hawk Down). For a more interesting, disturbing and riveting depiction of the ravages of corruption and organised crime in Mexico - also filtered through the style of a revenge film (...)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 31, 2015 12:05 PM PDT

The Amityville Horror (Widescreen/Full Screen)
The Amityville Horror (Widescreen/Full Screen)
DVD ~ James Brolin
Offered by Serenity-Now
Price: $16.99
126 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Scary, efficient and effective horror flick, April 6, 2004
Based on the controversial real-life claims of the Lutz family in the 1970s (in the book of the same name), The Amityville Horror soon gives up any horror "faction" pretentions (that so strongly benefited superior stablemates like The Haunting) in favour of visceral, post-Exorcist sensationalism. The result has predictably polarised horror fans, with some viewing it as unnecessarily schlocky and exploitative (coming from Samuel Z. Arkoff's AIP stable pretty much nails this down from the outset!) and others as a neglected frightfest that suffered too harshly at the hands of mainstream critics hostile to the genre anyway. The truth is probably somewhere in-between. The Amityville Horror is neither a horror masterpiece or entirely as rotten as you may have heard. Certainly, retro-comparison with Tobe Hooper's mainstream-pleasing, Spielbergian, pyrotech-heavy Poltergeist only renders Amityville's unashamed lack of pretention somewhat refreshing. An effective, scary little horror film with enough Z-grade under your skin ideas (blood seeping through your walls anyone?) to prevent you from watching this alone at midnight. What else would you necessarily want from a horror movie?

DVD ~ Jon Voight
Offered by MightySilver
Price: $24.99
210 used & new from $0.01

72 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't make 'em like they used to..., April 6, 2004
This review is from: Deliverance (DVD)
Director John Boorman's exciting, brutal, brooding, explosive and violent masterpiece remains one of Hollywood's most intelligent takes on the complex, contradictory cultures of American manhood, otherwise the more familiar preserve of directors like Sam Peckinpah and Walter Hill. Based on James Dickey's novel, Deliverance roots itself assuredly in fascinating and provocative dualities: liberal modernity and backwoods barbarism; beauty and violence; kindness and cuelty; morality and pragmatism and, atmospherically, the existential and the visceral - situating it a distinct cut above the average Hollywood action adventure output. Four suburban friends - career-best performances from Reynolds, Voight, Beatty and Cox - take one last alpha-male shot at canoeing the mighty Cahulawassee river - just as it is set to be flooded - literally and figuratively - by the needs, culture and infastructure of the New South as it rolls unforgivingly through what's left of the countryside.Just as their own middle class tensions, arrogances and irritations begin to surface, they run - courtesy of the hostile local population - into a world much smaller(...). What starts out as an egoistic attempt to reclaim some element of American frontier manhood amidst the privileged, cosseted reality of an otherwise safely suburban life becomes a gripping struggle to survive the ravages of nature and (distinctly warped) nurture. Features what is probably the silver screen's most notorious male rape scene, an episode that slides so quickly and unsuspectingly from cautious negotiation to gruelling and humiliating cruelty that it still retains the power to shock and unsettle. Possibly did more than any other movie to forever demonise the poor-white population of the Appalachians, spawning a slew of inferior copycats as well as the opportunistic "hillbilly horror" sub-genre that persisted into the early 80s with such exploitation nonsense as Hillbilly Holocaust and Trapped. Walter Hill's differently brlliant Southern Comfort, Jonathan Mostow's efficient suspenser Breakdown and Curtis Hanson's The River Wild can be argued to be among Deliverance's more palatable latter-day spawn. (In the latter, Meryl Streep shows that otherwise meek women - pushed to the limit - can be just as primal given a reason and a river!) Deliverance is a superior film that harks back to the days when a thoughtful Hollywood film and a crowd-pleasing box office smash were - more often than not - one and the same thing.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 6, 2015 12:58 AM PST

I Spit on Your Grave (Millennium Edition)
I Spit on Your Grave (Millennium Edition)
DVD ~ Camille Keaton
24 used & new from $3.96

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch it for what it is, not what defenders want it to be..., April 6, 2004
Trashy, violent exploitation thriller that continues to enjoy cult support as an underground cause celebre following its intermittent bannings - and tag as a "video nasty" - in the 1980s. Camille Keaton - reputedly a descendent of the late, great Buster (who, if so, would undoubtedly be spinning in his grave!) - plays a beautiful out-of-town novelist (...). Still traumatised by her ordeal, she proceeds to exact brutal vengeance on her attackers, through a crowd-pleasing (or revolting, depending on the limits of your tolerance) succession of violence(...). One of the first dubious classics for the home video generation. Forget the disingenuous quasi-feminist justifications of the film's following - this plays like the [illegitimate] child of Wes Craven's Last House on the Left and Abel Ferrara's Ms 45. If you're going to like it, at least like it for what it is: a no-holds barred piece of violent exploitation that earns its second star only due to is barrier-breaking filmographic place in horror exploitation cinema. Also known as Day of the Woman.

The Legend of Hell House
The Legend of Hell House
DVD ~ Roddy McDowall
21 used & new from $3.92

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected gem for horror fans to rediscover, April 6, 2004
This review is from: The Legend of Hell House (DVD)
Unfairly neglected by audiences in the wake of that same year's cultural juggernaut that was The Exorcist, The Legend of Hell House has since recovered a deserved place as one of the best entries in horror's "haunted house" sub-genre. Squarely in the tradition of The Haunting (which first proposed a pseudo-anthropological approach to the supernatural) scientist Clive Revill leads an investigation team into the dreaded Belasco mansion to establish whether life after death really exists or not. As things start to go bump in the night, the group slowly falls apart under the weight of its own tensions before finally uncovering the dreaded evil inside the heart of "Hell House". An effective old school horror entry at a time when horror was just about to pursue interesting new detours into violence, depravity and extremity courtesy of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist and Black Christmas (the unacknowledged progenitor of Halloween). Featuring an effectively pompous turn by Revill as the cocksure project leader and a characteristically eccentric one by Roddy McDowell. Based on the novel by horror legend Richard Matheson.

Intolerable Cruelty (Widescreen Edition)
Intolerable Cruelty (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ George Clooney
Price: $6.59
486 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sparkling rom-com with aristocratic Hollywood lineage, April 6, 2004
The Coen brothers prove they can turn in a crowd-pleasing genre movie that's not a film noir (though it gently hints and pushes just enough in those - and many other - directions to remind you how much darker they could have twisted given another mood). Still retaining enough trademark wicked humour at the expense of its unknowing characters (specifically the marital losers played by Ed Begley Jr, Geoffrey Rush and a very game Billy Bob Thornton) to keep you reminded of their sibling brand, the flm nevertheless also proves thoroughly irresistable by most (low) mainstream expeectations. As rom-coms go, this is deliberately Cary Grant territory, with the Coens deliberately ignoring the Nora Ephron and Richard Curtis sensibilities that have predominantly twin-streamed through romantic comedies since When Harry Met Sally and Four Weddings and a Funeral. Rather, whilst directly enticing this mainstream used to the tiring Ephron menu, the always appealing Curtis fare and the increasingly less sharp Woody Allen outputs, the Coens bravely dare to offer us a taste of something a little rarer, a little more exotic and a little more mischievous - a high-end sophisticated rom-com driven alernatively by challenging combinations of high and low wit, sparkling dialogue and outright venom. The result is an aristocratic Hollywood concoction, with Clooney particularly on top form - once again proving his particular brand of guy charisma irresistably infectious. Intolerable Cruelty is to the mostly forgotten Golden Age of Hollywood rom-coms what Kill Bill is to the action movies of the 70s - stirring happy hints and reminders less of specific movies you can name than broad cinematic moods and pleasures you once treasured. An all-round class act - and spritely antidote to the dour, sluggish Man Who Wasn' t There.

Runaway Jury (Widescreen Edition)
Runaway Jury (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ John Cusack
Price: $5.40
393 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Gun politics only hides something more basic: a rotten movie, April 6, 2004
Tepid half-baked legal mish-mash that's all dressed up with nowhere useful to go. John Grisham's source novel about jury manipulation in a tobacco industry litigation has been adapted to move the action to the issue of gun control (though the film makers needn't have bothered - there was never any danger of this ever being confused with Michael Mann's superior The Insider). Confronted with the gun death of her husband in an incident of work rage, a widow is persuaded to institute civil action against the gun industry - which has never lost a lawsuit of this type. That established, she then promptly disappears for the rest of the film as the viewer is asked to believe in the determinism of jury consutants (thank OJ for that!) and the worthiness of corrupt jurors. It's all totally forgettable nonsense - a courtroom movie for the hysterical tabloid set that distinguishes itself for having the most underwritten, unmoving courtroom summation ever put to screen (although everyone involved clearly thought this was a rousing moment). Many of the American reviewers on this page have taken issue with the film's soapbox politics on the issue of gun violence. Providing it with so much credit only distracts from a far more basic reflection - how incredibly bad this movie is. Director Gary Fleder (Don't Say a Word) is fast becoming synonymous with over-produced below average thrillers, an association he proudly continues with this latest sub-par outing. Unlike the best Grisham adaptations (The Firm; The Rainmaker) Fleder eschews character-driven tension and conflict for show-offy gadgetry and overly-dramatic presentation of fairly undramatic things. Grisham, as usual, has share of the blame for the incredulous proceedings - having frankly benefited over the years by the quality overcompensation that film-makers have brought to his work. Fleder however is no Sydney Pollack - and he's certainly no Francis Coppola (and, on this latest evidence, never will be). What we lose in quality mediation, we gain in stupidity - as the lawyers pale into caricatures of idiocy and irrelevance, the jury room rehashes and exploits your memory of infinitely better movies; the American legal system looks even more of a joke than it actually is and the lead characters behave in ways so dumb that you wonder how they could get their heads around the schemes you're asked to believe they're engaged in. John Cusack and Rachel Weiz give workmanlike performances, whilst Gene Hackman tries his characteristic best to deliver a nastier version of the Gene persona we know and love - only just about overcoming his own infectious charisma enough for us to dislike his character. The real acting news however is yet another nail in the coffin of the Dustin Hoffman legend. If ever there was any doubt about the steady decline (dating back to his overrated performance in Rain Man) of this once truly great master, Runaway Jury will dispose of it. Hoffman's performance is as hammy as it is portentous, with a Southern accent by way of Brooklyn amateur dramatics. Al Pacino has become louder and show-offy as he's aged - but still delivers the goods. Hoffman seems only to have become more self-involved, self conciously ticcing and twitching his way to delivering "a performance" worthy of the acting legend he uncontrovertably is - and (perhaps problematically) knows he is. (To be frank, the evidence of this tendency can be found early on in his peformance in his own directorial debut, Straight Time). Come back Benjamin, all is forgiven. Runaway Jury stutters and splutters along in underwelming execution from one clumsy plot point to the next, reaching its preposterous "twist" ending by way of sheer assault on your IQ. In the end, the only twelve angry men in this tortuous deal are in the audience - demanding a refund on their ticket money.

The Matrix Revolutions (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
The Matrix Revolutions (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Keanu Reeves
Offered by megahitrecords
Price: $6.99
718 used & new from $0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This rocks - what more could you want?, April 6, 2004
The third instalment of the Wachowski brothers' cyberpunk trilogy pretty much delivers as much as fans of the series could expect from a final chapter. Picking up directly from the end of Matrix Reloaded, Revolutions wastes no time drawing you compellingly back into the dystopic netherworld of Neo, Morpheus, Trinity and the omnescient Agent Smith. Fans of the original who were turned off by the 2nd instalment may definitely find more to savor here - Revolutions shamelessly rips off enough popular sequences from the original Matrix to recover some ground amongst the action set left cold by the deliberate pacing and mythologising of pt 2. And - although the Wachowskis deserved greater recognition of their distinctly un-Hollywood attempt to do something different with their 2nd instalment - it has to be said the return to familiar action conventions is rather more satisfying. There's still enough mock-philosophical mumbo jumbo to keep the anorak set engaged - but Matrix Revolutions is more sure-footed than its immediate predecessor about what it fundamentally best is - a crowd-pleasing bubblegum action blockbuster. So put your brain on hold; suspend your disbelief and throw away any expectation of a logical conclusion. That done, strap yourself in and get ready for one hell of a ride!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Two-Disc Widescreen Theatrical Edition)
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Two-Disc Widescreen Theatrical Edition)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Price: $4.99
319 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Begone Attack of the Clones! Jackson's in the house..., April 6, 2004
Director Peter Jackson's absolutely rousing film version of JRR Tolkien's epic fantasy novel - once thought unfilmable by Hollywood producers - is a crowd-pleasing labour of love by an unmistakeable Tolkien fan who (fortunately) also happens to be an accomplished film-maker at the top of his game. The result is a satisfying distillation of the essential spirit and tone of Tolkien's story that amounts to the most definitive film version fans could hope for. The story of the rediscovery of "the one ring - the Ring of Power" and the conflicted efforts of the races of Middle Earth to destroy it before the final resurrection of its evil master, the Dark Lord Sauron, is engrossingly and excitingly told. With liberal dollops of action, adventure, humour and sentiment, Jackson unfolds a tale of unlikely courage, loyalty and friendship that is every bit an instant movie classic. So powerful and influential is his directorial hand that the Lord of the Rings story will in the popular public mind be as indelibly linked to Jackson's brilliant trilogy as it is to Tolkien's source novels. Benefits from repeat viewing - particularly in light of its two sequels (The Two Towers; Return of the King) which shed new light on references, events and characters in this first instalment (thus underlining the intricate detail and advanced planning Jackson must've invested to be able to tell the epic equitably across three instalments). Particularly well-judged performances by Viggo Mortenson and Sean Astin - and a confident, attention-grabbing turn by newcomer Bloom as the lethal bow-wielding elf Legolas.

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