Wednesday, 24 February 2016

White Heat - Back In Time Movie Review

A cop goes undercover to bring down the mob.

Starring James Cagney and Virginia Mayo.

Written by Ivan Goff, Ben Roberts and suggested by a story by Virginia Kellogg.

Directed by Raoul Walsh.

This is the third mob movie I've watched in a row and probably my least favourite.

I know it's supposed to be a classic but I don't get it. If I'd have watched it when it first came out I may have appreciated a bit more but for me it was just an okay, fun romp of a movie.

It's got practically the same plot as Donnie Brasco but of course came out many years earlier. I'd go as far as to say it's like Donnie Brasco with action scenes added. The action scenes are pretty good and the film kept my interest all the way even though it's quite a long one. But it is very dated and doesn't really stand the test of time that well. Not for me anyway. The acting is dated and so is the whole production.

I wasn't too impressed with James Cagney's performance. I found him quite wooden and hammy. The scene where he loses it in the prison dining hall just made me giggle it was so bad. I'm sure I'm on my own here because reading some of the reviews on IMDB it's heralded as the the finest mob movie ever made. But that's just the way I feel. It was an okay movie but nothing special. I'd be interested in watching some of Cagney's over stuff though.

And why was it called White Heat? Can anybody tell me?


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Donnie Brasco (1997) - Back In Time Movie Review

            An FBI undercover agent infiltrates the mob.

Starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.

Written by Joseph D Pistone (Book), Richard Woodley (Book) and Paul Attanasio (Screenplay).

Directed by Mike Newell.

This is the second mob movie I've seen in a row and it's basically Goodfellas with a plot.

It perhaps lacks the overall polish and cinematography of Goodfellas but it makes up for it by having more plot and emotion. I didn't get to know each of the characters as much but that's probably because this is a shorter movie and based more on the relationship between the two leads as opposed to the the mob in general.

Al Pacino and Johnny Depp give good lead performances and their dynamic works well. It's my third Al Pacino film and probably my favourite. Likewise I've seen a few Johnny Depp films and this is the best performance I've seen. It's another side to him and it proves what a versatile actor he is as well as having the looks. And that's something you don't always see.

I still don't think Mob movies are really my thing but I'm enjoying catching a few and I have another one lined up. If anything I've learned a few things I didn't know before if the mob ever comes up in a pub quiz!

Just like Goodfellas this gets an 8 out of 10 but for different reasons. On a side note I was surprised to see who the director of this was considering the previous things he has directed. That's a weird one but he has done a good job.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Paper - 100 Word Fiction

When I was seven I lived in a paper house

I'd walk to my paper school every morning and into

my paper classroom

Never underestimate the benefits of a good 

quality paper school teacher

Mrs Grime 

taught me everything 

I knew and nothing that I didn't need to know 

She was the one that told me how to 


when Mum didn't come home 

That was the day I learned that paper cars 

are stupid 

because there's nothing 

to protect you when one paper car hits another paper car

That was the day the paper 


and I stopped breathing

                                                                              (C) Ally Atherton 2016

100 words written for the 100 Word Challenge hosted by Tara Roberts

over at Thin Spiral Notebook.

Pop along and give it a go. it's not as easy as you think!

Captured By The Hawk by Aurora Springer - Book Review

A space romp across the galaxy with a splash of romance.

I read this while I'm still in the middle of reading a much bigger book so that I don't fall behind on this year's 52 book reading challenge. It's quirky, it's fun and it's a decent read. It's a been a while since I've read a Sci Fi book and this didn't disappoint me. The characters are great and the whole thing is just a fun piece of escapism. I see it more as an adventure book than a comedy.

Harmless fun and a cool way to spend a few hours.


Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Lucky Dip - Flash Fiction

'You get a free drink with your burger.'

Ollie put down the money and chose a can of Fanta.


'No problem kid, now you get a free chocolate bar with your drink.'

Was this guy serious?

'Go on choose one. Or I'll have to choose one for you. I won't take no for an answer.'

'This must be my lucky day' said Ollie.

'Just choose one kid.'

He chose a snickers and put it in his pocket. He paid and took his burger.

'Wait a minute, there's one more thing.'

'Really,' said Ollie, 'I think you've given me enough.'

'Not quite,' said the guy behind the counter, 'you get a free death with your Snickers. Come and choose one.'

'No thanks,' he said and went for the door, but it wouldn't open. He pushed harder. It wouldn't move.

'Free death. Pick one. I won't take no for an answer.'

The guy was crazy.

'Just let me out please, the door's jammed.'

'Choose one kid. Accident, natural causes, murder or lucky dip.'

'I really have to go,' said Ollie.

'Come on choose one or I'll choose one for you. I won't take no for an answer.'

'No. How does this thing open?'

'Last chance kid. Accident, natural causes, murder or lucky dip.'

The door flew open and he nearly ended up face down on the pavement. He plucked out his keys and ran to the car. He didn't feel like his burger any more.

He reversed out of the parking lot and saw the guy from the take away stood in the doorway. What a jerk, As he sped away he heard him shouting something and he was pretty sure what he was shouting.

Lucky Dip.

He began to sweat. Maybe it was hot in the car.

His arm began to tingle. Or maybe it was his imagination.


                                                                      (C) Ally Atherton 2016

308 Words

Monday, 15 February 2016

Back In Time Movie Review - The Evil Dead (1981)

A group of friends spend the night in a cabin in the mountains 

                                     and it doesn't go well.

Starring Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor, Betsy Baker and Theresa Tilly.

Written and directed by Sam Raimi.

I think my age has a lot to answer for.

I'm guessing that if I'd watched this as a teenager I would have loved it or at least enjoyed it more than I did now as an old bloke. It definitely had lots of creepy moments and funny moments.

But from an old gits perspective I was actually a little bored watching this. I suppose when it was first released this movie would have been cutting edge and the ultimate horror flick. But I got that bored feeling in my stomach that I get when I'm reading a really boring book that I can't wait to finish so I can start the next one. It was all so repetitive. One demon possessed person attacks and then another and then another and then another. there was nothing new here and it's all been done before.

The acting was okay but a bit hammy and the special effects ( although probably brilliant in 1981) showed their age.

I'm giving it a 6/10 but my teenage self would have given it much more.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Back In Time Movie Review - Vanilla Sky

A wealthy playboy businessman is disfigured in a car accident. But all is not what it seems. 

Starring Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz,

Written by Alejandro Amenabar, Mateo Gil and Cameron Crowe (Screenplay).

Directed by Cameron Crowe.

Weirdly this is one of those films I've always heard of but I always thought it was some kind of action movie involving fighter pilots. In reality it is totally not what I expected it to be.

It's a very bizarre movie that starts off quite normally but then turns into a sci-fi flick. It's full of strange twists and turns and flips itself on it's head quite a lot. For me it's too bizarre and confusing for my liking. I never really got a grasp of what what going on and then the ending was pretty disappointing. It felt like a movie that was trying to be too clever for it's own good and in the end it kind of failed. Don't get me wrong I usually love twisty sci-fi movies but this wasn't my cup of tea.

Tom Cruise was Tom Cruise. For me he's a good looking guy but I'm not convinced about his acting and so his performance was average. In fact there weren't really any fantastic stand out performances in this one. Penelope Cruz was hot. But Cameron Diaz was probably the pick of the bunch if I had to choose one.

Overall a pretty disappointing movie that didn't rock my world.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Back In Time Movie Review - Beaches

A chance meeting on a beach leads to a lifelong friendship.

Starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey.

Written by Iris Rainer ( Novel ) and Mary Agnes Donoghue ( Screenplay ).

Directed by Garry Marshall.

This is one of those movies that is both funny and sad. A great combination when it's done well and this is.

It's a great story that sucks you in from the very beginning and the acting performances by two leads are top class. It pulls at your heartstrings and gives you plenty of giggles along the way. The two children meeting on the beach at the beginning sets up the story well and is a perfect back story that sticks in your memory throughout.

I can't fault this film but if anything I think it could have been a little longer so that the final storyline could have developed at a slower pace but that is just nit-picking.

It's a great movie and I dare you not to shed a tear.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Back In Time Movie Review - Tootsie

Tootsie Poster

A struggling Actor dresses up as a woman in a desperate attempt to get a part.

Starring Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray and Jessica Lange.

Written by Larry Gelbart, Murray Schisgal and Don Mcguire.

Directed by Sydney Pollack.

This is a really funny movie!

There's not a lot to not like at all. The acting is excellent and it's quirky and genuinely funny in all the right places. It's easy to understand why it has earned a reputation as one of the all time classic comedies. Dustin Hoffman plays the main role perfectly and Bill Murray is a suitably witty co star. I never knew he was in this movie and didn't realise he was acting in movies as early as 1982.

On a slightly negative note it does take a bit to get going and the cinematography isn't brilliant. Most of the film is obviously filmed in a studio and it did seem a bit low budget at times.

 But overall this is a belter of a movie!


Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Dreams With Jagged Edges - Flash Fiction

                        I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.

                                                                                 Thomas Jefferson

The hardest part about being a dream catcher is in the breaking and entering.


           I can't walk through walls. I don't have a magic key. I don't have a teleportation device. My amazing power is restricted to pulling out one dream after another without snapping the bastard and if they wake up I'm screwed. I can't tip toe to save my life. There's always a disagreeable floorboard, a squeaky toy or an unholy cat to deal with. And sometimes, no matter how careful I am, they wake up.

           And then I run. I'm terrible at breaking and entering but pretty good at getting the hell out of again if I need to. You've probably seen me out of the corner of your eye at some point and if you haven't I'll probably get around to you at some point. It's not theft. Not in the strictest sense of the word. I'm taking something you can't deal with. Something that needs to come out before it gets stuck, like a gumball or a small piece of ham. And once it's stuck there's no telling what it will get up to or when it will return. Some dreams never come out. Recurring dreams they call them. But they're not. They are stuck. Lots of people are walking around all the time with dreams stuck in their heads. You can usually tell them a mile off. There's that far away look that they get in their eyes for a kick off. Or the way they grind their teeth. Or sometimes there's nothing to really grab hold exactly but you can tell there's something not quite right about them, inside them.

           But most of the time I get in there and out again with the dream fully intact before they can wake up completely and realise that they had a dream in the first place. Some dreams are long and sticky and some are short and stubby. Short and stubby dreams are the one's that don't make any sense. Like you're driving to work and then find yourself being attacked by a plate of spaghetti. The long and sticky dreams are future dreams. Things you want to do but can't or things you don't want to do but are worried you may have to.


           But dreams with jagged edges are the ones I have the most difficulty with. They don't want to come out for the love of money. They kick and scratch and sometimes I have to leave them in. Dreams with jagged edges are the ones that hold our deepest secrets. Things we can never tell to another living person. I've known some dreams with jagged edges that would rather kill me than come out.

They don't want to be carried away by me or anybody else because they are enjoying themselves too much and don't want to come out because it's raining inside and they love the rain and they are the only ones that know how to turn it off.


                                                                       (C) Ally Atherton 2016

500 words written for this week's Light & Shade Challenge. Take a peek and join in if you are feeling creative.

Finding Home by Jason Patrick. My latest book review,

                A woman starts a new life with her son.

This is a pretty decent quick read if you want to fill in a bit of spare time with something that's easy reading.

It's not going to win any awards and it's not the most exciting plot you'll come across but it's a nice gentle read that I enjoyed for what it is. It's a little bit of escapism. A little bit of romance to add a sparkle to your day.


Sunday, 7 February 2016

Back In Time Movie Review - Revolution

             A New York trapper and his son get caught up

                                                  in the American battle of independence.

Starring Al Pacino and Nastassja Kinski.

Written by Robert Dillon.

Directed by Hugh Hudson.

This movie could have been great but instead it was a let down.

On a positive note the cinematography, period costumes and attention to detail was wonderful. And I found it quite educational and interesting from a historical point of view. Although I'm sure many experts would be able to find a few historical errors.

What let this movie down was the quality of acting and the plot which didn't really go anywhere. Al Pacino and the two actors who played his son had bizarre accents which didn't help. I think he was supposed to be Scottish but it came out as rather a weird combination of Irish and some other made up mumble language. In fact I couldn't hear half of what he was saying which kind of ruined the big movie moments! And there were more bizarre accents amongst the many actors in this ensemble. Maybe Al Pacino was a victim of bad casting or bad directing or perhaps his heart wasn't in the movie.

I didn't mind Nastassja Kinski's performance. It was probably the best of a dodgy bunch. And she was pretty good to look at too. But on the whole Revolution was a bit of a borefest. There is a big scene towards the end where the main character and another guy are chased by a pack of dogs. That's exactly how I'd describe the plot of this. Like a pack of dogs chasing something but never quite catching it.