Posts Tagged ‘movies’

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)


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.



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.




How to vote:

In the comments below

In an email to

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!

Film Cocaine’s first entry into Film Cocaine Idol was chosen due to the excellent command of the English language and the exciting insight into a classic film. Andre Ballot’s post was written in a presentable, fun and lively way. 

Film Cocaine received over 80 entries and only the best were chosen. A massive congratulations to Andre Ballot for becoming the first guest submission into Film Cocaine Idol.

This is Andre’s shot into the final round of submissions, if you like it, vote for it! (More on how to vote, read below)

Greetings filmlovers!

Today’s review is about my all-time favourite film and what I consider to be the last film in the Indiana Jones trilogy, before Indy turned old, Nazis turned Russian and stumbled upon the real Area 51 in “Kingdom of the Crystal-Meth”.

Many people seem to have fond childhood memories of “Last Crusade”, but I hardly ever see it in anyone’s dvd collection. I always feel that when a film is well directed with decent acting and especially set in something like the 30’s requiring little to no special effects, it ages remarkably well. We get that feeling with “Last Crusade” as the script is also jam-packed with witty one-liners and memorable dialog that you’ll no doubt want to quote to and annoy your friends constantly after watching the film twenty times.

In terms of the film itself: it feels like a clear improvement to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Temple of Doom”. Firstly, we have an objectively more important artifact to chase down for Indy: The Holy Grail. Yes, you can dominate the world with the Ark of the Covenant, but you won’t be around for long to enjoy that power. Throw in a cup that grants those who drink from it eternal life and you have a killer plot and veritable Nazi-magnet (and luckily for us also archaeologists with Batman-like fighting skills).

It also feels like Indy has matured as a character, as the starting scene in the film depicts him as a teenager in the boy scouts and reveals at long last how he came to be such a formidable badass for a college professor. His interaction with his polar opposite of a father, played by Sean Connery: the man with a voice that could turn straight men gay, who makes a first appearance in the third film, also reveals another daddy-issues dimension to Indy as they resolve demons of the past.

Besides the great acting line-up, classic dialog and cool premise, the film has a swift and natural flow to it and there is a respectable amount of both unpredictable and often funny action scenes to keep everyone happy and to top it all off, we’re constantly smirking from the disgruntled looks on the faces of the members of the Third Reich.

If you haven’t seen this timeless classic in a while, I suggest picking up a hat, whip and a cheap dvd somewhere.

ALL IN ALL: 4 out of 5

How to vote:

In the comments below

In an email to

On the link on Facebook – JUST CLICK LIKE!

On Andre’s link – 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!



The film dips its’ toes into a crass and predictable plot which jack knifes around stocky characterization. There is no real flesh to this film and Ivan Reitman’s (Ghostbusters) heavy directing led to scenes which were a bit too slow on the uptake.

The Plot: Adam meets Emma. They become sex friends. There is not anything more spectacular or worthy about the rest of the plot.

The Review: No Strings Attached treads a very, very thin line between chauvinistic characterization and a watered down feminist backlash. There is no real balance in the film as Natalie Portman’s character, Emma, is a hold-him-under-my-thumb  type of feminist and Ashton Kutcher’s character, Adam, lacks a sense of power and oomph which is required in order to make the plot work. It is nonsensical and blatantly treats the viewer to an appetizing trip down cliche lane.

Emma (Natalie Portman) is a bit rough around the edges and the characterization completely overpowers the plot devices which use both sexuality and awkwardness in order to obtain the sensation of pretty rom-com. The crass dialogue leaves the viewer hanging, waiting for a stronger delivery and a larger punch. No Strings Attached delved into real life dramatics and stuck its’ toe into a large pool of soppy, sloppy and sleepy cliched plot shenanigans.

It wasn’t all bad and even though No Strings Attached suffered from more faults than San Andreas, Ashton Kutcher strangely saved the day.  His performance was surprisingly less goofy and he is (extremely slowly) maturing into a dramatic actor.

The film was coincidentally released close to the hype of Black Swan where Natalie won the Academy Award for Best Actress. The film does absolutely no justice to Natalie’s career.

The only truly enjoyable feature of No Strings Attached was the wonderful and hysterical Kevin Kline as Adam’s (Ashton Kutcher) father. GREAT SCOTT!

If you’re looking for a cute rom-com, No Strings is right down your alley. Don’t expect too much and be sure to prepare yourself for the crass humour and slightly offbeat sexual plot devices.



Guest Writer Submissions!

Posted: August 21, 2011 in Random
Tags: , ,

A quick reminder, if you wish to enter your work as a guest writer, please do so before Wednesday!

Film Cocaine has received an overwhelming amount of applications and the first posts will be going up from Wednesday. Film Cocaine will also be closing the first round of applications on this day.

There will be three rounds for the first three weeks.

If you have a blog which you wish to advertise on your musings as a guest writer, you’re welcome to send the link along! I will gladly add your link to the bottom of the page, but I do ask that you do the same for Film Cocaine.

This a competition people, so please write a great post! I will not be accepting work with lazy grammar and/or syntax!

See your submissions soon!