1988 was a great year for films. It was the year of Rain Man, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Big, Coming to America, Die Hard and High Spirits? I bet you are thinking to yourself, “Wow, I don’t think I have seen this.” Now go to the bottom of this article and read the cast line up and then ask yourself this question: “Have I seen this movie?”
High Spirits is one of those 1980s films that dance the line between obscure and “Man, I know I have seen this on TNT.” It has a cast (Daryl Hannah, Peter O’Toole, Steve Guttenberg, a pre-boob job Jennifer Tilly, Beverly D’Angelo, Peter Gallagher, a very skinny Liam Neeson, and more) that makes you wonder whether or not you have actually seen this movie. Ladies and gents, this film rides that fine line so often that the Blockbuster by my house doesn’t even carry it. In fact, I have tried for a while to find it at local stores and finally broke down and ordered it online.
For those of us that don’t ride the “maybe-train” but bought a ticket on the “This-is-awesome-train-o-wacky-ghost-antics”–the answer is yes: it is the one parked next to the Ghostbusters 2-train—you remember how amazingly hilarious and heart warming this Metro Goldwyn Mayer film is. From fake ghosts, to ghosts that want love, sex, and their castle back, High Spirits is one of those films from the 1980s that keeps you coming back for more.
Written by: Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen
Directed by: Pierre Morel
Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Xander Berkeley, Leland Orser
My Advice: Matinee if you’re into it
Bryan Mills (Neeson) is an ex-government badass who became ex because his career of stomping bad guys cost him his family. His wife, Lenny (sorry, it’s Lenore now–played by Janssen), is now with Stuart (Berkeley), a guy who is Perfect. And Kim (Grace), his seventeen-year-old daughter, is a bit of a spoiled brat considering she lives in a mansion and has less rules since Mom’s in charge and step-Dad wants to be the good guy. So that’s why circumstances conspire to get her and a friend off to Paris for a fun teenage vacation, that goes awry when both girls are kidnapped. This, needless to say, pisses Bryan off a bit. And he shrieks into action.
Writing a review about this film is difficult, because it’s so simple. Not simple in a bad way, because sometimes you don’t need a lot of crazy twists and turns. Sometimes you want a film that with its trailer (and even its poster, see above), it gives you exactly what it bills itself as. The trailer and poster tell me that this film is Liam Neeson providing beatdowns to anyone who stands in between him and his kidnapped daughter. And the film is exactly that and no more. The plot will serve to give Neeson people to punch. The characters will either watch Neeson punch or get punched themselves. Paris exists in this film to provide an arena for Neeson to punch things. If you came expecting another film, it’s not the film’s fault you were disappointed.
Written by: Andrew Adamson & Christopher Markus, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Peter Dinklage, Eddie Izzard, Sergio Castellitto
Review: NINJA FAUNS!!!!!!! VIOLENT MICE!!!!!!!!! FULL! AUTO! CATAPULTS!!!!!
Ahem. Sorry. There’s a story and stuff too. The four leads have improved, probably due to some much needed acting lessons. I’m sure the flow would be better if some scenes were kept in that we can assume were left out because they connected the plot points too well and took focus away from FULL AUTO CATAPULTS!!!!! Can I have one?
Time: 22 seconds
Written by Janus Cercone
Directed by Richard Pearce
Starring Steve Martin, Debra Winger, Lolita Davidovich, Liam Neeson, Lukas Haas, Meat Loaf, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Released by: Paramount
My Advice: Eh, rent it if there’s nothing else.
Jonas Nightingale (Martin) is a faith healer and he’s a good one. There’s only little problem. He’s only in it for the money. The only faith he has is for the suckers who fill his tent every night to receive salvation. He travels across the county with his tour bus and tractor trailer rigs full of equipment looking for places to set up his tent and separate people from their money. His team has got this down to a science. The ushers who are seating people are writing down little bits of information that they overhear and pass them along back to Jane (Winger) who is connected to Jonas via a wireless speaker that he wears in his ear during the show. She passes along the information to make it look like Jonas is actually communicating with the Holy Spirit. The local sheriff (Neeson), who also has a thing for Jane, is on to Jonas and vows to shut him down one way or another. All of their lives are changed when a little boy with bad legs (Haas) sets foot on the stage and is really healed.
Written and Directed by Bill Condon
Starring Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Chris O’Donnell, Peter Sarsgaard, Timothy Hutton
- Running audio commentary by writer/director Condon
- Documentary: “The Kinsey Report: Sex on Film”
- Featurette: Sex Ed at the Kinsey Institute
- Deleted Scenes with optional commentary by Condon
- Gag reel
- Interactive Sex Questionnaire
- Theatrical trailer
Released by: Fox Home Entertainment.
My Advice: Rent it.
Written by: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely & Ann Peacock, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Starring: Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, Liam Neeson
Review: Well, the acting of the four leads left much to be desired, but the effects were awesome. Liam Neeson kicks ass even as a CGIed lion. And if you look closely, Aslan even looks like him. But what I really want to know is: why does the dwarf sound like Pearl from Blade?
Time: 9 seconds.
Written by Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely & Ann Peacock, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Starring Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton
My Advice: Matinee. But only if you must.
England, during World War II, is getting the absolute crap bombed out of it. The decision is made to get the children of the cities the hell out of Dodge and out into the countryside where they will be safe(r). Thus the four Pevensie children head for the middle of nowhere, to stay with a professor (Jim Broadbent, in need of better facial hair) and his crotchety housekeeper (Elizabeth Hawthorne). While there, and bored, the youngest, Lucy (Henley) stumbles upon a magical wardrobe that opens onto another world: Narnia. There, she finds a kingdom frozen by the evil White Witch (Swinton), and she and her siblings will soon be caught up in a war between the forces of the witch’s evil and the forces of good, led by the lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson).
Let’s address the question head-on, then. How do you take a straight-up Christian allegory, disguised as a children’s book, and make it into a mainstream movie? Well, this movie is one way, but the allegory portion of it simply clunks. Of course, it clunked in the book itself too, until finally Lewis couldn’t stand it anymore and, not content to merely hint around the bush any longer, threw the facade away in Book Seven, screaming “THE LION IS JESUS!!! GET IT???” and making lots of kids the world over feel betrayed. So the fact that the whole sacrifice portion of the movie is a little heavy handed can’t be blamed on the filmmakers here.
Written by: Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian & Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis, Cameron Diaz, Jim Broadbent, John C. Reilly, Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson
- Featurettes on costume design, set design, and a history of the Five Points area
- Set exploration Utilizing 360 Degree Shots of the Sets
- U2 Music Video: “The Hands That Built America”
- Discovery Channel Special: “Uncovering The Real Gangs of New York”
- The Five Points Study Guide: Luc Sante Introduction and Five Points Vocabulary
- Running audio commentary with director Scorsese
- Theatrical Trailer
Released by: Miramax
My Advice: Own it
Written by: Caroline Alexander & Joseph Dorman, based on the book by Alexander
Directed by: George Butler
Narrated by: Liam Neeson
My Advice: Wait and rent it.
Sir Ernest Shackleton wanted to not just succeed but exceed–and nothing exceeds like excess. So thwarted in his attempts to be the first man to reach the South Pole, he strives ahead anyway for another go. On their way to the Antarctic continent, the expedition’s ship, Endurance, gets snagged in an ice field–that solidifies, trapping them with no way out. What follows is a two year test of limits: the limits that human beings can tolerate before they just fall over and die. The most amazing thing is that Shackleton decided he wouldn’t lose a single man–and he succeeded. That’s right, it ain’t spoilers if it’s in the history books already, people.