Hammerle On… 'Land Ho!' 'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,' 'The Trip to Italy'

September 10, 2014

bob hammerle movie reviews“Land Ho!”

“Land Ho!” is an engaging movie about two men in their late 60s trying to find some adventure in life. It is a movie about old guys for old guys.

Here we find Colin and Mitch renewing a lost friendship. Mitch surprises Colin with two first-class tickets to Iceland where they can confront the unknown. Unfortunately, despite the beautiful landscape of Iceland, the film starts a bit slowly given Mitch’s concentration on idiotic sexual remarks regardless of the company.

On the other hand, you gradually understand that both gentlemen are grappling with profound boredom and lost aspirations, and they seek the spontaneity and gaiety of being young. As an example, how can you go to a Reykjavik nightclub to watch young women dance when you are clearly the oldest guys in the bar?

In watching this little film reach its finest level with its ending, I was reminded of the story where CBS news reporter Quentin Reynolds died of cancer decade


s ago. He was a flamboyant guy, and the stories of his adventures involving booze and beautiful French women while reporting on location in World War II are legendary.

When the great Eric Sevareid visited Reynolds in the hospital shortly before he died, he looked down at his stricken friend, grabbed his hand and said, “Quentin, is there anything I can do?” To which Reynolds smiled and softly said, “Yes, there is Eric, make me young again.”

Not a bad mantra to keep in mind, is it?

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For”

“Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” is an easy film to condemn and a hard movie to love. Co-directors Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez have brought us a brutal black-and-white film with graphic cinematography that Andy Warhol would have loved. Sin City is a nasty place to live, and it reminded me of the title of the old Steve McQueen bounty hunter TV series, “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1958-1961).hammerle-sincity.jpg
In Sin City, the streets are dominated by beautiful, violent prostitutes roaming the roofs of buildings while the inhabitants get loaded in multiple strip bars. Living solely for vengeance, it is truly ironic that Jessica Alba has never been better, here appearing as a stripper toting both a gun and a bottle of vodka.

The film focuses in part on a deranged senator, played in sadistic fashion by Powers Boothe, and his brash protagonist embodied by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt’s Johnny roams the underworld as a smug, egotistical gambler who eventually endures a hideous torture after getting involved in a poker ring run by Sen. Roark.

In case you are interested, Johnny’s knuckles on his right hand are crushed with a pair of pliers by Sen. Roark while his dancer girlfriend (played by Juno Temple) is slowly dismembered. Did I say this wasn’t a family film?

The actual strength of the film centers on a brief appearance by Rosario Dawson, again appearing as the leader of a gang of talented prostitutes be

nt on helping Josh Brolin’s Dwight strike back at a diabolical ex-girlfriend who has left him close to death. Dawson’s Gail is as beautiful as she is dedicated to her girls, and Jamie Chung is stunning as one of her female gang members with an incredible artistic talent with a bow and arrow.

Mickey Rourke appears center stage as Marv, a dark, laconic killer with a comic book square jaw and a physique that insures his survival. However, it is Dwight’s relationship with Eva Green’s Ava that becomes unforgettable.

Green, memorable as the Persian ice queen leading a naval assault on Greece in this year’s “300: Rise of an Empire,” once again embraces the dark side as a female version of a black widow spider. Green is as seductive as she is contemptible, and she dances in the company of the cinematic legends Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Crawford.

Many other recognizable actors make momentary appearances in the film, including Bruce Willis, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven and Christopher Lloyd. However, Dennis Haysbert makes you forget about his continual role as a shill on TV for Allstate Insurance. Here, he plays a hit man completely immune to pain as he protects Ava. Despite a moment when he endures having one of his eyes ripped out by Marv, you know that Ava, like Allstate, is in good hands.

“The Trip to Italy”

Director Michael Winterbottom has brought us a gem of a new film in “The Trip to Italy.” This is a sequel to the film “The Trip.” The cinematography is spectacular, and the scenery where our boys travel in a Mini Cooper from Rome to Naples to the Amalfi Coast will melt your heart.

However, it is the raucous good humor of our two stars, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, that will leave you hysterically laughing. Quick-witted and marvelous mimics, it is hard to name a Hollywood star, living or dead, that they can’t impersonate. In particular, wait until you see the moment where our boys are dueling with Michael Caine impressions while enjoying an exquisite lunch.hammerle-italy.jpg
Equally important, their wit and knowledge of movie history makes this film a movie lover’s dream. You find yourself repeatedly trying to suppress laughter so that you don’t miss the next diabolical exchange.

Further, while eating a delicious squab, watch for their discussion about facing starvation following a plane crash in the Andes. What follows is a challenging debate on the subject of dying while paralyzed from the waist down. The question posed is, “Would you eat my legs to survive?”

On top of that, wait until you see the food served to our boys at various five-star restaurants. The purpose of their trip is to describe these moments, and I would strongly advise all of you to avoid eating popcorn. Please be warned that you are likely to be hunting down an Italian restaurant as you leave the theater.•


Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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