James Coburn

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Looker Review


Weak
You gotta love technology. Without technology and the naturally amoral things it does, we'd have no villains in the movies. I mean what's more frightening than extreme rationality? Clones? Oh my! Circuit boards and vacuum tubes? Yikes! According to Michael Crichton's early flick Looker, technology -- in particular, television -- holds us fast in its undeniable sway and there is very little we can do to escape its cold grasp. I guess that's the point in Looker, though it's still a bit unclear.

Albert Finney is a popular plastic surgeon and business is great. Thing is, some of his models start turning up dead and, naturally, there's a conspiracy afoot. One that involves digitized people, high-tech guns (the Lookers of the title or Light Ocular Oriented Kinetic Energetic Responsers), and big business. Susan Dey play Cindy (and doffs every stitch of clothing), a model who wants perfection to get a modeling contract with the ominous sounding Digital Matrix. James Coburn plays the tycoon behind Digital Matrix and like all tycoons he's thoroughly bad.

Continue reading: Looker Review

American Gun (2002) Review


OK
James Coburn's final film went straight to video, and alas it's nothing special. American Gun tells the story of Martin Tillman, whose daughter (Virginia Madsen) is suddenly shot and killed. (On Christmas, no less.) He then does possibly the least sensible thing on earth: He goes on a nationwide journey to find out where the gun that killed her came from, and whose hands it passed through on the way to his neck of the woods. This leads him from the gun factory to the dealer to various thugs until he gets all the way back home. Putting aside the fact that it would be next to impossible to follow such a chain of ownership, we immediately wonder how a geriatric like Coburn is going to handle all this travel -- and it ain't exactly to the most scenic parts of the country.

Never mind all that, this is a journey of self-discovery, as Martin has some demons he's obviously trying to exorcise. He's got a granddaughter to atone with, a wife who's a bit distant, and a dead daughter, of course. By the end we've got a whopper of a secret in store, but still it's a little hard to swallow this Twenty Bucks-style road trip.

Continue reading: American Gun (2002) Review

The Loved One Review


Extraordinary
Decades before Six Feet Under, The Loved One skewered the paradox of the funeral business in appearance-obsessed L.A. Wildly and unpredictably funny, The Loved One careens from scene to scene so quickly you may not be able to keep up with the jokes.

And what jokes they are! The very American Robert Morse stars as a British visitor to L.A., a wannabe poet who gets caught up in the machinations of a cemetary owner (Jonathan Winters) and his top mortician (Rod Steiger in the role of a lifetime). It's more cult than cemetary, and Morse soon becomes enchanted with one the cemetary's guide/beautician/chanteuse (a dippy Anajette Comer). The film haphazardly careens from subplot to subplot, eventually settling into a set piece about a kid obsessed with rockets, which Winters sees as the solution to the problem of running out of space for "loved ones" in the cemetary (aka corpses).

Continue reading: The Loved One Review

The Last Of Shiela Review


Excellent
The odd pair of Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim wrote this underseen thriller, a whodunit that puts widower James Coburn on a boat with his old friends, one of whom may have accidentally run over his wife a year ago in an unsolved hit-and-run. Is Coburn's live-action mystery game a clever way to ferret out the killer? Or is something more mysterious at work here? The body count will nearly fill a hand before a few days on the yacht are up, but it's the impressive cast and twisty script that will keep you watching to see who gets it next... and who gets away with it all.

Hudson Hawk Review


OK
The good thing about comedies, as a general rule, is that they're too bland to have really bad plots. The search for laughs seldom strays too far off the beaten path established by the social mores of the target market, be that old ladies, stoners, or teenagers out on dates. There are comedies with solid plots, just rarely comedies with complicated plots.

What they generally aren't is full of capers designed by crackheads in search of comic relief, or a dominatrix dying to destroy the gold market with a Da Vinci alchemy machine only a cat burglar from Hoboken could steal.

Continue reading: Hudson Hawk Review

Payback Review


Excellent
"Nobody likes a monkey on their back. I had three. I was going to have to lighten the load"

Its dialogue like that that makes Payback the first great film of 1999. Everybody likes to watch jerks on screen. They walk around with a cockiness and lack of respect for anything and everyone that you can't help but love to watch them. In this movie, I think everybody falls into this category.

Continue reading: Payback Review

American Gun Review


OK
James Coburn's final film went straight to video, and alas it's nothing special. American Gun tells the story of Martin Tillman, whose daughter (Virginia Madsen) is suddenly shot and killed. (On Christmas, no less.) He then does possibly the least sensible thing on earth: He goes on a nationwide journey to find out where the gun that killed her came from, and whose hands it passed through on the way to his neck of the woods. This leads him from the gun factory to the dealer to various thugs until he gets all the way back home. Putting aside the fact that it would be next to impossible to follow such a chain of ownership, we immediately wonder how a geriatric like Coburn is going to handle all this travel -- and it ain't exactly to the most scenic parts of the country.

Never mind all that, this is a journey of self-discovery, as Martin has some demons he's obviously trying to exorcise. He's got a granddaughter to atone with, a wife who's a bit distant, and a dead daughter, of course. By the end we've got a whopper of a secret in store, but still it's a little hard to swallow this Twenty Bucks-style road trip.

Continue reading: American Gun Review

Eraser Review


OK
Is it just me, or is Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent getting worse? I think it is, as is his acting ability, as well as his choice of films to star in. This time it's Eraser, a big-budget, small-plot, fair-to-middling feature that continues the testosterone-infused series that Arnie's been working on since Pumping Iron.

It's the cheeseball role to end all cheeseball roles: John Kruger (Arnie) works for the Witness Relocation Program as an "identity eraser," and he answers to no one (sorta). His charge is Lee Cullen (Vanessa Williams), an executive with "Cyrez," who discovers that her company is selling next generation weapons to Russkie terrorists. The FBI uses her just to get the goods on Cyrez, and it's up to Arnie to save her hide from the bad guys, which includes turncoat fellow eraser Robert Deguerin (James Caan).

Continue reading: Eraser Review

The Great Escape Review


Excellent
Coming on the heels of John Sturges' The Magnificent Seven three years earlier, 1963's The Great Escape shows how quickly the ambitious epic can turn into a rote, readymade piece of filmmaking - a Hollywood masterpiece by design. There's a formal, somewhat stilted feel to its three-hour story about a group of imprisoned World War II officers and their struggle to break out of a Nazi P.O.W. camp, and anybody who thinks that Michael Bay is a bullying thug of a filmmaker who likes pushing people's emotions around can come here to see where he got it from. But for all its flaws, Escape has some of the most memorable moments in any war film, and some excellent performances from its ensemble cast.

Based on a true story, The Great Escape is set during the tail end of World War II, when a variety of officers from different countries were sent to Stalag Luft III, a prison camp designed to handle the most diligent escape attempts. Both fearless and duty-bound, the men spend no time with long prologues or chit-chat about what to do; they, along with the movie, immediately set to work, using the skills they know best. There's Anthony Hendley, the "scrounger" skilled at digging up needed provisions; James Garner, at his best when he's being charmingly unctuous to his Nazi captors; Charles Bronson, as the "tunnel king" Danny Velinski, offering a nice combination of two-fisted bravado and sensitive-guy neurosis; and Donald Pleasance, the British document forger, who brings a steely, proud stoicism to his role that sets the movie's emotional feel. His is the most convincing performance, which makes sense given that really did time in a German P.O.W. camp.

Continue reading: The Great Escape Review

Monsters, Inc. Review


Excellent
The Pixar boys are at again with Monsters, Inc. taking their computer-animation talents from toys and insects to the magical world of monsters.

Magical indeed -- the way it works is that all those monsters that hide in the closet and scare little kids only do so because they have to -- they use the screams as energy to power Monstropolis, which exists just on the other side of every kid's bedroom closet door in the world.

Continue reading: Monsters, Inc. Review

James Coburn

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James Coburn Movies

Payback Movie Review

Payback Movie Review

"Nobody likes a monkey on their back. I had three. I was going...

The Man from Elysian Fields Movie Review

The Man from Elysian Fields Movie Review

James Coburn is just great in The Man from Elysian Fields, one of his final...

The President's Analyst Movie Review

The President's Analyst Movie Review

It's hard to envision a comedy that reeks more of the '60s than The President's...

Snow Dogs Movie Review

Snow Dogs Movie Review

When I first saw the trailer for Snow Dogs in front of Monsters, Inc., I...

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