Category Archives: Movies

Oh no… Tina Turner (1939-2023)

Just coming in is the very sad news that magnificent singer Tina Turner has passed away at the age of 83.

I recall reading a few years back -not all that long ago- where she said she had been having health issues but felt better and… well, it appears those health issues continued until her passing.

The one song that she seems to be best remembered for is her take on the Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary”, which she very much made her own…

The high energy act she had was second to none…!

She would appear very prominently in the third and last of the Mel Gibson starring Mad Max films, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985) as the movie’s villain… sorta. It was impossible to present her as totally bad, IMHO!

While I felt this film was the least of the Mad Max films, it was through absolutely no fault of Tina Turner’s as she played the hell out of the character of Aunty Entity. Intriguingly, I always felt the most recent Mad Max film, Fury Road, merged elements from The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max 2) and Beyond Thunderdome in its story. Aunty Entity was a prototype of not only the villainous Immortan Joe but also seemed to have elements of that film’s hero, Imperator Furiosa (played, of course, by Charlize Theron).

Ms. Turner also delivered one of her all time best songs (IMHO, of course!) for the film, “We Don’t Need Another Hero”. Here’s the music video made for the song. It features Tina Turner in her full Aunty Entity get up and has lots of clips from Beyond Thunderdome… clips which may make you realize how much of the visuals from this film found their way into Fury Road!

Such a great showman. Such a great singer. She will be missed.

Greyhound (2020) a (mildly) belated review

If you’ve got the Apple TV+ streaming service, you can see Greyhound, a Tom Hanks starring and written (yes, he was the screenwriter!) film, which was never released to theaters. A victim of COVID, no doubt.

Here’s the pretty damn exciting -to me anyway- trailer:

Watching this once again as I’m typing, I remember my initial excitement upon seeing it and the eagerness I had to see the film proper. The subject matter intrigued me and the effects looked pretty damn good.

Alas, I didn’t have the Apple TV+ service and frankly have enough streaming services as it is. I don’t have the free time to watch so much damn TV nor was I interested in spending yet more money on another streaming service.

Besides, the film was bound to make it to other formats before long, no?


Three years passed and it appears Apple is intent on keeping this movie within its streaming umbrella. I don’t believe either a physical or digital copy of the film is available for purchase.

So it appeared I’d have to wait a while to see the film. However, a few months back I upgraded my cell phone and included in the upgrade was the Apple TV+ streaming service for free.

It would take me a few months from when I got it to finally find the free time but I searched the service and finally got around to watching Greyhound.

Was it as impressive as the trailer made it seem? Was it worth the long wait?


Everything that was good about the film is encapsulated in that trailer. There are good effects and some damn good action sequences which revolve around Hank’s Captain Crause leading the Greyhound, a destroyer escort leading a convoy of supply ships across the Atlantic during World War II while facing off against a “wolfpack” of German submarines.

Here’s the problem, though: That’s pretty much all the film is, one action sequence after another with minimal characterization.

The camera almost exclusively follows Tom Hank’s character and everyone else is relegated to the background. For some reason the film opens with Hank’s character meeting up with Elisabeth Shue’s Evelyn, his wife or girlfriend and then leaving her for the command. Ms. Shue is in the film for something like two minutes, if that.

That and the fact that he’s a religious man who prays before meals and (MILD SPOILERS) prays after everything is over are pretty much all we get in terms of depth (no pun intended) of character.

Otherwise the movie’s dialogue consists of variations of “Hard right rudder!” or “Hard to starboard” while other more minor characters echo Hank’s command.

So while we have minimal characterization and technojargon for dialogue (for the most part), the film does admittedly deliver some thrills with the many battles between Greyhound and the nefarious wolfpack, who very improbably actually radio Greyhound and taunt them while attacking.

I would ultimately recommend this film but with the caveat that it is for those who want to see some exciting high sea action sequences but aren’t put off by a film that has near zero actual characterization.

Greyhound is a decent work but compared to something like Das Boot, it could’a been better.

The Car (1977) a (boo!) belated review

On the way to my destination I reviewed Shakedown (1988) (you can read that review here) and on the way back I decided to give The Car a return visit.

As with Shakedown, The Car was a film I saw way, waaaaaaaay back when, likely in/around the time it was originally released -likely a few years later- and not since. I recall enjoying the film but it didn’t necessarily stick with me too much.

Here’s the movie’s trailer but, if you haven’t seen the film and are curious to see it, please REFRAIN FROM SEEING IT. Another of those trailers that, IMHO, give away too much of the story.

The film stars James Brolin who, back then, looks a hell of a lot like his son Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men, The Goonies, The Avengers: Endgame, Deadpool 2, etc. etc.).

The film’s plot is quite simple: In a sleepy desert town somewhere out west, a black sedan suddenly appears and starts killing people in gory ways.

What in tarnation is going on here?

What’s going on is this is a film that falls into that delightful -to me anyway!- movie genre subcategory featuring “homicidal vehicles.” My favorite of them is Steve Spielberg’s first big hit, Duel, but it also includes such films as Killdozer, Maximum Overdrive (Stephen King’s one and only foray into direction), and, if you squint your eyes, Quentin Tarantino’s Deathproof.

The film also, I feel, tries to emulate another Steven Spielberg hit film, the previous year’s release Jaws. In many ways, The Car feels like a land-locked version of Jaws, with the car being the equivalent of the homicidal shark.

As I hadn’t seen the film in so long, several parts of it surprised and delighted me. There are interesting characters littered throughout the film, some nice and others not so nice. You have a character who is fighting alcoholism and, given the events which happen, loses that battle. You have a love interest who’s brave as hell. You also have a climax that truly ratchets up the suspense before giving us a satisfying end.

While I don’t think anyone is going to mistake the artistry of The Car with that present in either Duel or Jaws, The Car nonetheless holds its own as a suspenseful meat-and-potatoes dip into that suspenseful sub-genre.


Shakedown (1988) a (gnarly) belated review

I first saw the Peter Weller (Robocop) and Sam Elliot (The Big Lebowski) way, waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy back when it was likely first released and not since. The details of the film were, naturally, pretty hazy, though I did feel like I enjoyed the film but maybe didn’t feel it was “spectacular”.

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

So being as I was traveling again and needed some entertainment during the flight, I downloaded some films and decided on the way there I’d see Shakedown again. I mean, we’re talking about primo Peter Weller and Sam Elliott. A weird team for an action film, I would grant you, but I was up for it.

…and what a wild ride the film turned out to be!

To begin with, you cannot take this film seriously. Especially during some of the crazy action sequences in it. But the film is filled to the brim with character moments and a plot that tries to be pulpy and “serious” but settles into sleazy (at times) and typical 80’s action fest.

The movie’s director and co-writer, James Glickenhaus had previously worked on The Exterminator and The Soldier. He also produced a number of cult films like Manic Cop, Basket Case 2 and 3, and Frankenhooker…! He would walk away from movies by the mid-1990’s and became a Wall Street fund manager.

What a life!

Anyway, getting back to Shakedown

The movie opens with a drug dealer (a young Richard Brooks) meeting up with a potential buyer. But things go sideways and the buyer is killed while the drug dealer is injured. The dead man, it turns out, was a cop and, naturally, the police feel he was undercover and our drug dealer murdered him when he was about to be arrested.

Roland Dalton (Peter Weller) is assigned as his lawyer and after talking to the drug dealer begins to suspect something is amiss… The dealer insists the cop never identified himself as such and that he genuinely thought he was going to be robbed and murdered and therefore acted in self-defense.

With this information in hand, Dalton meets up with Richie Marks (Sam Elliot), a rough and tumble undercover cop, and asks him about the possibility this case might be more than it seems. Marks has his doubts, but it’s clear he knows there are dirty cops in New York City…

What follows is a mix of courtroom drama and crazy-ass gunplay, of scaffolds falling and car and foot chases, culminating in one of the most bat-shit crazy climaxes I’ve seen in any film. It truly has to be seen to be believed….!

Look, the film isn’t “art”. It isn’t always coherent. But the acting is good enough and the action sequences come regularly enough and you root for the good guys and hiss at the bad guys and I have to be honest… I wish the film had a just-as-crazy a sequel.

Weller and Elliot make for a good team.

Recommended… as long as you accept the film’s cheese!

Still here….!

Ok, been another while since I last posted.

In that time, news came over that Al Jaffee had passed away at the age of 102…

Those familiar with Mad Magazine no doubt are familiar with that name. Mr. Jaffee had a very long career with the magazine and will likely be best remembered for his “Fold-Ins”, often found at the end of the magazine and which involved the reader folding in the final page and creating a new, humorous image. A before and after example:

He was a master of the comic book form and did other very humorous features for Mad Magazine and lived a very long and productive life.

I hope everyone has as long and productive life as he has!


In other, far more depressing news, we seem to be having more and more shootings in this country and… I wonder when this will finally resonate with certain members of the Republican party.

Instead, they seem to be focused on “woke beer”. I wish I was kidding. Below is a couple of pictures taken from a YouTube video posted by illustrious musician Kid Rock wherein he mows down the ghastly beer and… sigh…

See, TikToker and trans activist Dylan Mulvaney became a source of controversy in the right-wing sphere when Bud Light announced she would be their latest spokesperson… or something.

Honestly, until this whole tempest in a teapot, I didn’t know Dylan Mulvaney. Here she is with the beer in question…

Seriously, that’s the reason to get all bent?


Let me also say, for the record, that while I don’t consider myself a prude, I’m not into alcoholic beverages. I’ve tried plenty of different ones over my life but they don’t do much for me. If I’m honest, I don’t like the taste of beer at all, though I have found it can add a pleasant taste to some cooked meals.

Anyway, I suppose for those on the right it’s another reason to get incensed over something that in the long run doesn’t matter all that much at all.

But don’t worry.

Give it a week or so and they’ll find some fresh new hell to get worked up about.


There have been plenty of other things going on, big and small, but I’ll conclude with this: The disastrous box office of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

The sequel to the successful 2019 Shazam! film, there was a feeling this film simply didn’t have all that much demand. Early projections were very low and when the film was eventually released only three weeks ago, those projections proved accurate.

The film, which this week has become available to purchase digitally, likely won’t quite reach $60 million in the domestic box office.

What in the world happened?

The movie’s ratings weren’t terrible. While professional critics to date offer a dead mediocre 50% positive rating on the movie, audiences were much kinder with a 86% positive.

Which made one wonder: With the also lackluster (but better) box office of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, is it possible the whole superhero genre may be running out of gas?

It’s certainly possible, though word of mouth for Ant-Man was far more negative, I thought, than Shazam! The problem with Shazam! appeared to be that no one seemed to really care to see the film. Perhaps this has something to do with audiences feeling little need to see the “old” DC movies and having more anticipation for the new films James Gunn is producing.

I don’t know.

In time I suppose we’ll see.

Oh no…! Raquel Welch (1940-2023)

Nowadays it may be hard for people to know how iconic Raquel Welch, who it was announced today died at the age of 82, was.

There are various articles available regarding her passing, including this one by Patrick Ryan and Edward Segarra and posted on…

Raquel Welch dead: ‘One Million Years B.C.’ sex symbol dies at 82 (

To say she was a “sex symbol” seems wildly reductive yet also is very accurate. In her most famous and productive years on the big and small screen and, frankly, even more recently, Raquel Welch was nothing short of a breathtaking woman.

Here she is in one of her earliest/first successes, the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage

She had already appeared in various TV shows by the time this movie premiered and in the same year, 1966, she would appear in a film that presented an iconic portrait of her, One Million Years B.C.

Those who weren’t in/around that time don’t realize how ever present the iconic image of Ms. Welch in her cavewoman bikini was back then. Seemed you’d find it everywhere and, yes, I even made my own version of the famous pose…

She would appear in many other works, including two with Burt Reynolds: 100 Rifles (1969)…

…and Fuzz (1972).

Apparently, Ms. Welch and Mr. Reynolds didn’t get along all that well and after 100 Rifles and while co-starring together in Fuzz, the film proved notable in that there isn’t a single sequence in it in which they share any screen time together.

Whatever her feelings were at the time regarding Mr. Reynolds, when the actor passed Ms. Welch let bygones be bygones and wrote a very nice tribute to him (portions of which can be found here).

In 1973 Ms. Welch starred in the ensemble film The Last of Shiela, which director/writer Rian Johnson has acknowledged as one of the big influences on his Knives Out movies…

Later on, Ms. Welch would play herself in one of the funnier sequences in Naked Gun: 33 & 1/3

I’ve noted before one of the sad things about aging is that many of the people who you know and admire eventually grow old and pass away.

And so it is we reach that point with Raquel Welch, one of the most iconic -and sexy!- women ever to grace the silver screen.

You will be missed.

Superbowl LVII

Personally, I found it an entertaining game.

There was plenty of drama and, you have to give it to the Kansas City Chiefs, they looked at halftime and after QB Patrick Mahomes reinjured his leg… that they might be done.

But Mahomes wasn’t about to let that happen and further credit where its due, their coach, Andy Reid, made some adjustments and eventually the Chiefs prevailed, 38-35.

There was controversy toward the very end on a holding call that might have been a little weak but that seems to be par for the course nowadays.

The commercials were mostly …ok… I guess, nothing that I found terribly memorable. What was intriguing, at least to me, was that almost all the car commercials (unless I’m misremembering) were focused on electric vehicles. I believe there was one commercial for a SUV (Hyndai?!) that was an ICE vehicle but otherwise the focus seemed to be on electric.

There were movie trailers as well and I must say of all of them, this is the one that most impressed me…

For a film that I wondered if it would ever get made to one whose main actor, Ezra Miller, has had some incredible troubles (to his credit he’s been out of the news for a while now, but I’m sure they will be dealt with either in court or through other means and may well preclude any future Flash projects), I didn’t think I’d have such a positive reaction to the movie’s trailer.

Frankly, it looks like the movie’s makers really went at it. The trailer gives off some seriously fun vibes and visuals to die for.

And Michael Keaton back as Batman?!

Yeah, I’m there.

Of course, it is a trailer and there have been trailers which made a film look far better than what it turned out to be…

I remain, however, cautiously optimistic!

Black Adam (2022) a (mildly) belated review

There’s been more hoopla -it seems- about the behind the scenes stuff regarding Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam than there is about the movie itself.

You’ve had the surprise of Henry Cavill’s cameo as Superman at the movie’s end… something which delighted quite a few fans out there, even those who may not be big fans of Zack Snyder’s DC movies yet feel Cavill makes a great Superman. Then you had the disappointment -to those very same fans- when it turned out new DC Universe showrunner James Gunn stated Cavill would not return to the character after all.

There was the strange review situation, where professional reviews of the film were quite dismal yet the regular audiences were far more forgiving (at this date and on, the movie stands at a really, really low 39% positive among those critics and yet a very high 88% positive among audiences)

Then, when the movie was released, it seemed to do quite well in theaters but petered out relatively quickly. I suspect the film in the end did very well but not well enough for DC to push Mr. Gunn into a potential sequel or force him to use Cavill again. Mr. Johnson entered into that particular fray stating the film’s box office was quite healthy and his statements seemed rather defensive, even if I couldn’t blame him. He’s clearly someone who has pride in what he does and will defend it.

I was interested in seeing the film when it was originally released but, as is often the case for me, it was difficult to find the time to go to a theater to see the film. I also, I have to admit, had my eye on HBOMax and wondered just how long after the movie’s theatrical release I’d have to wait before it was streaming on that service.

In the end, I didn’t see the film in theaters but did catch it a few weeks back on HBOMax. I honestly don’t know if it’s still available to be seen there as of today.

So… what did I think about the film?

Was it as bad as the critics said? Did they miss something that general audiences found?

Avert your eyes, gentle reader, because what I’m about to state may cause some of you to faint…

I felt Black Adam was about as good a superhero film as Dr. Strange In The Multitude of Madness.

Yes, I said it.

Now, don’t get me wrong: Sam Raimi is a director who is in his own class and his direction of the Dr. Strange film was crisp and has his characteristic fun -and wild- elements which you cannot find in the Jaume Collet-Serra (whose previous directed films include The Shallows, Orphan, and Jungle Cruise) Black Adam.

However, I felt Dr. Strange’s story was, despite some really neat elements (particularly the alternate Marvel Universe and its heroes) quite toothless. It felt like the studio imposed the story and had Raimi tone down what could have been a truly fascinating horror/superhero hybrid. It felt to me like Raimi was in a strait jacket, making a good film when he could have made a batshit crazy great one, had he been allowed to do so.

So it was that I felt Black Adam was also one of those types of films. It wasn’t terrible IMHO, but it also felt like it was ticking off the boxes and trying to be all things to all audiences. I suppose, based on those scores, it achieved that much.

But it could -and more importantly should– have been more.

There were all kinds of fascinating elements in it. In Dr. Strange, as I mentioned, the highlight was seeing the alternate universe Marvel heroes. In Black Adam, the equivalent was seeing The Justice Society and, specifically, Hawkman and Dr. Fate, two characters I’ve always loved from the comics and was pleased to see come to life.

Pierce Brosnan was simply a delight as the weary Dr. Fate and seemed to have a blast in the movie. He was easily the movie’s standout.

Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, alas, is presented as far more one note through the film. I get it: Unlike the comic books, where he was for many years an outright villain, here he’s a hero who is supposed to skirt the edge of being one. He kills, and quite a bit, but the movie -again like Dr. Strange– tries to soften the blow of his actions with humor or quick cuts which dampen what should be rougher stuff for audiences to chew on. As with Dr. Strange, I couldn’t help but wonder what a more no-holds-barred R rated version of this film might have been.

So the bottom line for me is that Black Adam is another reasonably successful superhero studio product. There are some really great effects and some of the action presented is quite wild but the film, in the end, feels like you’re having a Big Mac.

Go to any McDonalds in the United States and order a Big Mac and they’ll all taste the same even as they will help you get you past your hunger. Sure, they’re calories and they’re relatively cheap and you get served quick but it’s not necessarily a gourmet -or memorable- meal.

Recommended, with that caveat.

Lance Kerwin (1960-2023)

Time marches on as it inevitably does.

The above name may not mean much to people today, but if you’re of a certain age -like mine- you may remember actor Lance Kerwin for a couple of very good roles he had in the late 1970’s.

Perhaps the role most people will remember him for is that of Mark Petrie in the very creepy TV adaptation Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.

He was also the star of James at 16, a show that ran between 1977-78 and which I recall rather fondly.

Anyway, Mr. Kerwin, it was reported, died yesterday at the age of (gasp) 62. While his subsequent work may not have been quite as memorable as those he was involved in during his youth, the fact that I still remember those roles after all these years later, shows he did something quite special.

My condolences.


Way, waaaaaay back in the 1980’s or thereabouts I found this book and thought it was hilarious…

Written by Harry and Michael Medved (yes, the same Michael Medved who has become a pretty far right wing commentator) and originally released in 1980, the book focused on terrible movies and made fun of them and the ineptitude shown within.

As I said, I found the book hilarious and, over time, making fun of films became something of a sport. Perhaps the most famous example of doing so is the delightful Mystery Science Theater 3000 show, which has existed in various iterations and with various hosts since 1988 and has branched off -with a few of the original cast members of MST3K into RiffTrax in 2006.

Back in 1981, and perhaps as a result of the success of The Golden Turkey Awards (or perhaps not, I don’t know), the Golden Raspberry Awards premiered. Known as the “Razzies”, the so-called awards are meant to be a polar opposite of the Oscars in that they “award” movies and actors whom they feel in that year did particularly bad work.

This year, they nominated actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong, all of 12 years old, for worst acting in the Firestarter film and, after a backlash, decided to remove her from the nomination. (If you’re interested, you can read the entire story, presented on and written by Lisa Respers France, here)

I feel the backlash is appropriate. Ridiculing some misguided or poorly received work by someone who probably should know better is somewhat understandable. But blasting a 12 year old child for doing what was likely the best she could in a (from what I’ve read) poor overall production? Seems harsh.

…and yet…

I can’t help but feel the notion of blasting artists of all/any ages on very public forums for perceived poor works has become distasteful, at least to me.

The market usually dictates hits and misses and there have been times when films were released to great scorn and subsequently were viewed far differently.

The very first Razzies, for example, nominated director Stanley Kubrick and actress Shelley Duvall for their work on The Shining, a film that over the years has come to be viewed by many -including me- as one of the very best horror films ever made.

Further, Shelley Duvall’s nomination as worst actress was voided years later when it was revealed she likely had a very bad working experience (to say the least) on the set of The Shining.

Having said all this, I admit: When I was much younger I found making fun of others’ works and failures was a pretty damn fun game.

But then I became a writer and things changed.

It has been noted that “no one sets out to make a terrible movie” and I would expand that quote into music and writing as well as TV. Everyone who first puts pen to paper or picks up a guitar or sings their first note hopes -and dreams- the work they create will be successful.

At times, it simply isn’t. The Shining, when the movie was first released, wasn’t all that successful. Critically, it had mixed reactions from audiences. Even to this day author Stephen King, whose novel was the basis for the movie, has had a very negative opinion about the work.

Remember way back when a few paragraphs above how I said I consider The Shining one of the all time best horror films ever made?

Welp, I saw it in theaters when it was first released (cough-old-fart-cough) and I didn’t like it.

At all.

Over time I caught bits and pieces of the film on TV when it aired and, over that time, I finally got it. The Shining was not meant to be a film that filled you with horror or slammed you with scary jumps (though it had a couple). The film was meant to seep into your psyche, to make you ill at ease and to descend, along with its small cast, into this pleasant looking -but deadly- hellscape of a Hotel.

I haven’t seen the remake of Firestarter but based on reviews I’ve seen, the film is likely dreadful.

To which I say: So what?

The filmmakers tried and possibly failed to make a good film.

Again: So what?

Many have before and many will again.

My point is: Why waste energy slamming the movie and the creators? Why not move on and find something you like and cherish rather than dwell on something you hate?

I’ve seen plenty of stuff I felt was terrible. I’ve read books that have disappointed me mightily. There are whole categories of music I simply don’t like.

But I’ve realized there’s little point in dwelling on it beyond looking at this as a learning experience.

As a writer, sometimes the stuff that doesn’t work offers lessons to me as to what not to do which, hopefully, helps me make things that are, in the end, better for those lessons.

Anyway, just a random thought (I should trademark that, no?!)