No real big title for us this week so up first is Cosmoball. This Russian sci-fi flick is kind of fun, but also relies heavily on CGI which I’m not a big fan of. It takes place after an intergalactic battle destroys Earth’s moon and causes worldwide devastation, leaving the human race desolate and clinging to survival. A game, Cosmoball, is played by 3 humans against aliens and the humans have never won. They find a 4th player, a young man who can teleport like them, but has even more untapped potential. As he adjusts to playing he is tricked by the bad alien’s daughter to destroy the Cosmoball arena and ultimately there is a big fight at the end as the truth of Cosmoball, the captured alien and the alien running Cosmoball comes out. The effects are fine and the movie is something I’ve never seen before but there is so much CGI why even have real actors in it? The Cosmoball scenes are total CGI with the humans flying and facing aliens. It’s a Russian film so I’m not familiar with anyone involved, but the lead is watchable enough
Ever watch a movie and wonder why it got made? Not that it’s bad or anything, but it feels like every other similar movie? That’s Days of the Bagnold Summer. There’s nothing wrong with the movie, we’ve just seen it a million times before. An outcast son and his divorced mom don’t see eye to eye. He was supposed to visit his father in America, but the father and his new wife are having a child so he can’t come. The boy is bummed out, clashes with his mom, only wears black and listens to metal. The mom goes on a date, but ultimately stays single. It ends and you kind of forget all about it. The actors are fine it just felt way too familiar to me.
The Interrogation is based on the Autobiography of Notorious Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Hoss and recreates the interrogation that ultimately lead to his execution. Hoss was hiding out and caught based on information from his wife and was interrogated by Albert Piotrowski who spoke German. Hoss would eventually tell his horrible story to Piotrowski. It’s a quick film which makes it more impactful. If they drew it out it would feel too long and the quick run time gets you right into it. I knew nothing about the book or this particular story so it was all new to me. It’s pretty much just two actors talking with some other stuff going on, but the two actors really put you in the scene and historical context.
The next batch of films come from Kino Lorber. First is Shoot Out starring Gregory Peck. Peck plays a gunslinger who did 7 years in jail after his partner double crossed him when robbing a bank. Now the aging thief is out for revenge, but a young girl who may or may not be his daughter throws a curveball into his plans. Peck is great in the role and really was a man’s man even when this film came out. There are gunfights and horses and everything you want in a western. It’s a solid movie I had never seen before, but quite liked especially Peck.
Sticking with westerns, Showdown starring Rock Hudson and Dean Martin is also getting a Blu-ray this week. It opens with a hysterical train robbery with Martin pretending to be the law, but robs the passengers instead. Hudson is an old friend who must track down Martin now that he’s the local sheriff. It’s also full of what you want out of a western, but I always laugh at Martin in them. He never not looks like a Vegas lounge act to me. It’s a good movie and I liked Hudson a lot, but Martin always feels out of place despite making many of them. You know they will eventually team up with Hudson trying to be the lawman and Martin really not wanting to hurt his friend. I can see this one having a big following.
The Kaiser of California is a 1936 film about John Sutter, a German who moved to the US and became successful. Leaving his family behind, he ends up in the Western US before it’s all been settled. He amasses a good fortune being a hard worker and seeing how to handle the land and developing it. Historically it’s a movie that feels very American looking like an early Western with beautiful backdrops and characters/costumes that would eventually become the norm of that genre. It’s been restored for this Blu-ray release and I can see film historians (re)discovering it.
Crossed Swords is a 1970s swashbuckling take on The Prince and the Pauper. When a young thief meets the Prince of Wales, the prince decides to switch clothing so he can dress as a pauper for a costume ball. When they change clothes, the real prince is kicked out mistaken as a pauper. The pauper is believed to be the prince and takes to the lifestyle at first. The prince meets up with a swordsman who helps him get back to claim the throne. Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Ernest Borgnine, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison and Charlton Heston star. I think I might have seen it as a kid because it felt familiar, but I certainly hadn’t seen it in decades. This Blu-ray is a 4K remastering and comes with commentary and interviews.
Last we have Corleone: Mafia ad Blood a 2 episode look at Cosa Nostra specifically the Godfather of all Godfathers, Toto Riina. He was arrested in 1993 and over the 2 episodes it discusses his rise in power and ultimately his fall. I enjoy stories about the mob so I liked this quite a bit. It gets into his brutal reign and how he took over in Italy and interviews those involved with him and guys who did hits and other criminal activity. If you like mobster stories I definitely recommend this one with all its stories, interviews and coverage of the trial.