Flashback to… F/X Murder By Illusion

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Reviews
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This week I bring you another 1986 gem.   A sadly very obscure film called F/X: Murder By Illusion.  In this film directed by Robert Mandel, starring Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy we are taken into the world of professional special effects.

Roland ‘Rollie’ Tyler is played by Australian born Bryan Brown (Cocktail, Australia, Gorillas in the Mist) is the best special effects man in the business who gets approached by a government agent and is asked to help them stage the murder of a high profile mob boss who is turning states witness and is being put into witness protection.

Having agreed Rollie sets about preparing everything for his stunt and executes it as asked.  He realizes something went wrong and discovers that the murder of the mob boss is being blamed on him.   He then sets out  to clear his name of the murder by using all his skills as a special effects wizard.  He recruits his friend and partner Andy (Martha Gehman) to help him and eventually joins forces with Lt. Leo McCarthy (Brian Dennehy), the policeman initially tasked with finding the killer of DeFranco, the mob boss.   Soon Rollie and Leo are knee deep in secrets, dirty cops and, like Rollies’ effects, nothing is truly as it seems.

F/X eventually spawned a TV series by the same name in 1996 which chronicled more cases that Leo asks Rollie to help on.  While not quite true to the movies it wasn’t a bad tie in, even though it came ten years after the first movie and 5 after the sequel.

A fun action adventure romp, F/X is well written despite one or two of the plot twists not being too surprising, and while the basic premise is not new the execution is original and entertaining.   All the actors felt well cast and play their roles very well and manage a fine equilibrium between seriousness and occasionally quite funny dry wit.

Rollie (Bryan Brown) with Rosebud (the monster) and Lipton (Cliff De Young) from the Justice department.

If you are looking for a fun movie that is slightly different from the norm then I can strongly recommend F/X Murder By Illusion.

All in all: 4 out of 5


What do Tom Cruise, Walker Texas Ranger1, Heroes2, Batman3, China4 and The Shawshank Redemption5 have in common?

That’s right.  Top Gun.

This 1986 movie follows the hotshot pilot Pete Mitchell, call sign Maverick, and his friend and partner Nick Bradshaw, call sign Goose, as they get to take their shot at the Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN, to be trained and considered as the very best fighter pilots in the navy.

During their time there Mavericks’ showboating and attitude causes a lot of problems between him and several of the other pilots but most notable with Iceman and his partner Slider.   During his time at TOPGUN Maverick also falls in love and begins a relationship with the civilian contractor, Charlotte Blackwood just referred to as Charlie, who is hired as one of their instructors.
Competition for the coveted TOPGUN trophy,  which officially labels you the best, is tight between Iceman and Maverick and during one training mission Mavericks’ plane malfunctions and during their ejection Goose is killed.  Maverick then faces the decision of staying in TOPGUN to graduate or handing in his wings for good.

Directed by Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott (Director for Blade Runner), who cut his directing teeth making advertisements and while the film is by no means bad, it does feel like a 2 hour long ad for the US Navy.

The acting is good and one can see why Tom Cruise became the A-list star he did during that period. The sound track is memorable, having tracks like Highway to the Danger zone, Dock of the bay and Take my Breath Away.
The story is not the most original or surprising and the writing is average but it still belongs into the category of sadly lover looked classics

All in all: 4 out of 5

1 Clarence Gillyard Jnr (Topgun:  Sundown.   Walker Texas Ranger: James Trivette)
2Adrian Passdar (Topgun: Chipper.   Heroes: Nathan Petrelli)
3 Val Kilmer (Topgun: Iceman.   Batman: Batman)
5 Tim Robbins (Topgun: Merlin.   Shawshank: Andy Dufresne)

No String Attached (by Elizabeth Smit)

Posted: August 30, 2011 in Random

This is the 3rd entry into Film Cocaine Idol!

A date? So I can wear make up and act perfect all night?

No Strings Attached was recently released on DVD and, as a Natalie Portman fan, I was intrigued. I warmed up to Ashton Kutcher after this film. I think it is that juvenile face he pulled in Dude Where’s My Car, That 70’s Show, prank TV show Punk’d… heck, everything I’ve ever seen him in, that ruined my view of him as an actor. As the DVD’s cover illustrates, this is one of those movies about a guy and a girl who decide to have no strings attached sex. It looks like their enjoying laughing at each other’s faces too. But how is this different from so many other casual-sex-turns-to-serious-feelings romantic comedies? Well, it isn’t. Sorry, even Natalie Portman can’t change that. In her defense, my friend thinks her character Emma is the perfect woman in her imperfectness. So no, it’s not original, but it is one of the better romcoms. It is drunk Emma hollering at girls that they are pumpkins. It is her roommates confusing the hell out of Adam (that’s Kutcher’s character) when he wakes up from a very inebriated night. And it is that moment in the end, the one after he tells her to wipe the doughnut off her face…try not to get tears in your eyes, I dare you!


I might have been a little too into the romcom genre this weekend, so if you like the kind of film that makes your inside go “No! It’s too far-fetched!” and “Why is it so real?!” at the same time, you will enjoy this gem in a rather bland genre. I’d give it a 7 out of ten.


How to vote:

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So you were expecting a review?  Well today there won’t be one.  I would however like to introduce this column properly and outline some plans for the future.

The aim of Flashback:

When I was asked what I would like to write about for this column my answer was simple.  I wanted Carte Blanche when it came to my subject matter. However my main focus would be on some of the older gems and the classics that aren’t as well known by todays younger or “modern” audiences.   I want to highlight the good films of the past that now due to their age, or rather the age of the current audience, have slipped into obscurity.  Just because I refer to classics don’t think it means stuffy old films no one really cares about.  As my “Blade Runner” review indicates a classic can be a relatively recent* movie.

What I hope to achieve with Flashback:

Very simply, I want to inform, entertain, and educate our readers about films, genres and even actors and directors they may otherwise have passed by.

What can you, the reader, expect to see in this column?

The main focus as I’ve already said is to review the old classics.  Something I’m planning on doing is occasionally dedicating a months’ worth of reviews to a specific genre or director or even actor.

From time to time I may also write background pieces of upcoming movies or retrospectives about classic films as well as posting my own lists.

I also plan on occasionally posing our readers a question about film or starting an opinion poll.  The reason for this being that while we have a large and ever growing number of readers I see very little feedback or interaction on the site comments.  I hope that with these questions or polls I can get our readers more actively involved with all of us at film cocaine and each other.  I also welcome feedback and suggestions from all of our readers.

I hope that you will find this column worthwhile and that I achieve the aforementioned goals.

Thanks for reading,

“The Movie Guy”

*Yes I realise that for some of our readers 1982 is way before they were born but its recent considering the 117 years of film history to date.



Welcome To Our First Columnist!

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Random


Film Cocaine is honoured to introduce our first weekly columnist!

More info on him – https://filmcocaine.wordpress.com/columnists/

Below read his first column which will be published each Monday and will be titled “FLASHBACK” where he will review all the awesome classics which have been forgotten by the general viewing public.

A massive welcome to Clifford The-Movie-Guy Ekron, one of the best film writers I have ever come across.

He sent his first review into Film Cocaine a while ago and it was love at first sight. He understands films and he has a gigantic general knowledge on all things related to both theater, literature and cinema. It is an absolute honour to have him take his place at Film Cocaine.

The winner of Film Cocaine Idol will become the second columnist and their work will be featured on Thursdays.

Thank you to all of the loyal readers for wanting more and more from Film Cocaine. I cannot express the gratitude for each and every comment/email/Facebook message I receive and knowing that the loyal fan base do appreciate everything that is being done.

Film Cocaine is hard work, yes, but it is also one of the most gratifying passions I have ever pursued.

And with that, enjoy Clifford’s introductory column!



Early in the 21st Century, THE TYRELL

CORPORATION advanced Robot evolution

into the NEXUS phase — a being virtually

identical to a human — known as a replicant.

The NEXUS 6 Replicants were superior

in strength and agility, and at least equal

in intelligence, to the genetic engineers

who created them.

Replicants were used Off-world as

slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and

colonization of other planets.

After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6

combat team in an Off-world colony,

Replicants were declared illegal

on earth — under penalty of death.

Special police squads — BLADE RUNNER

UNITS — had orders to shoot to kill, upon

detection, any trespassing Replicants.


This was not called execution.

It was called retirement.


The opening crawl of Ridley Scott’s 1982 Sci-fi/Film Noir masterpiece BLADE RUNNER gives one a very clear feel for what you are about to see for the next 112 minutes of your life.

Inspired by the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? ,by Philip K. Dick, and with a suitably melancholy soundtrack provided by Vangelis, Blade Runner is set in the now not too distant year 2019 and takes us to a gritty dystopian Los Angeles  where we meet Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a burnt out Blade Runner, who gets asked to come back one last time to do what he does best, find and “retire” a group of rogue Replicants.

The Los Angeles skyline sets the dystopian mood for the film.

During the course of his investigation Deckard learns that replicants are implanted with memories and remember entire lives they’ve never lived.  The reason is simple, to prevent them from knowing what they are and to hide the fact that they are built in with a limited lifespan which once reached results in the body shutting down bit by bit. During a meeting with Dr. Tyrell, the man behind the creation of the replicants, this gets explained to Deckard and he is left with the motto “more human than human”. Deckard is then faced with the possibility that not only the woman he falls in love with but he himself may or may be a replicant, a question that never gets answered in the movie, leaving one to make your own decision.

Blade Runner was the first of the classic sci-fi films to play with the idea of reality and perception,  a well-known example being The Matrix. But while Blade Runner focuses on some serious philosophical concepts and questions it is not a film exclusive to those who wish to be mentally stimulated.   Deckard’s wit, delivered in Harrison Ford’s trademark dry manner, as well as the action scenes drive the story as much as the moral and philosophical conundrums that most of the characters face by the end of the film.

Original poster

While you can easily find the “Directors Cut” version in most video shops or DVD stores, I would advise rather looking for the original or the “Final Cut” versions as they still contain Deckard’s voice overs which help to guide the plot (and you as viewer) through Deckard’s own musings, provides several of Deckard’s more memorable and humorous lines, and overall seems to help make the film make slightly more sense when watching it for the first time.

An audio-visual masterpiece.
Plot 5/5
Visuals 5/5
Music 5/5
Varying versions leading to confusion 3/5





This is the second submission into Film Cocaine Idol!

Shock tactics in a title? All right, fair play, I’ll admit that was a tad underhanded. It got your attention, though, and brings us straight to the point. If you are a Tarantino fan, you may want to skip the entire middle of this post. This is between me and Quentin, because he needs to hear this from a suburban nobody living alone in the arse-end of nowhere.

Now to start off with, I don’t think Quentin Tarantino is a bad director, far from it. He manages to break his movies out of chronological sequence to reveal a new story of remarkable power through post-modern deconstruction. At the same time, he pays homage to his child-hood love of B-movies, anime, spaghetti westerns and grindhouse film. Doing the latter might seem like a great way to be less pretentious, but this is where I start to see problems.

Your first Tarantino is often the best. Once you’re exposed to his bag of tricks, it loses its lustre the second or third time round. Then it becomes simply another trope, and if it gets done enough it becomes a cliché. His work is fantastic, and he has powerful vision, but I feel he’s been corrupted under the weight of his own hype. Compare the two Kill Bills, which were to be released as a single film, originally. Each film on its own was masterfully done, but after the set-up of Volume 1, Volume 2 is a borefest and a letdown. We can understand that you’re going in a bold new direction and enjoy fucking with audience expectations, Quentin. We know that you can do whatever you want because it’s your movies. But this borders on sacrificing the quality of your movies to sustain your own ego.


Acting has never been his strong point, but he insists on cameos in his movies. Having said that, I enjoyed him in Rodriguez’s Dusk Till Dawn, and I’m sure he enjoyed Salma Hayek. And, props to him, if I was getting paid lots of money to make movies I love then I’d also star in them. My favourite Tarantino was Natural Born Killers, because not only was it directed by Oliver Stone but it also had no cameo by Tarantino himself. The point I’m trying to make with this rant, is that with another director at the helm Tarantino’s excess was tempered.

You can be great, you can produce true art that’s entertaining and win the hearts of millions of audiences around the world and achieve the perfect balance between cult status and soaring revenues, with a few academy award nominations thrown in to boot. But when you start to sacrifice your art because you think your way of doings things is cool, when you teeter on the brink of excess because no one questions your greatness, that’s when you begin to lose sight of what it’s about.

It’s about making fantastic movies that people love. It’s about being the best you can be at what you are. Whether he has a few hits and misses, he will be remembered as one of the greats. I guess I’d just like him to be remembered as having reverence for the sub-genre of film he’s created.

ZANE MARC GENTIS’ WEBSITE: http://www.thechemicaldream.com/



How to vote:

In the comments below

In an email to rpalland@gmail.com

On the link on Facebook – JUST CLICK LIKE! 

Film Cocaine will also be looking at views for the particular post. Each view from a different IP will count as a vote!

A Change Is Comin’!

Posted: August 24, 2011 in Random

The regular readers of Film Cocaine will know that the entire blog is randomized. The idea behind Film Cocaine began so that both film connoisseurs and the average film watcher will be able to interact and read about movies, theater and the entertainment world.

The problem with a randomized blog is that some topics seem to have bigger hits than others. The lists have been extremely popular and received over 300 hits per day. The loyal readers of Film Cocaine have given feedback and they demand more lists and more niche sub-genres.

Film Cocaine has went from being a passionate blog to becoming a full-time child and due to time constraints and the excessive situation with having a life outside of writing 24 hours a day, I have implemented the columnist competition called Film Cocaine Idol.

I have also decided to go with an extra columnist to write more on the classic cinematic masterpieces. His reviews will feature once a week (for the time being) and he will inform the general readership about all the amazing classic films which no-one knows about anymore! More on this, a bit later.

The winner of Film Cocaine Idol will also be implemented in this manner and will also write once a week for a regular column.

I will still write on a daily basis and be assured readers, Film Cocaine will ALWAYS tell you the truth about cinema! We are the most efficient at being film snobs! Film addicts unite, always!

Much love,