December 16th, 2010

ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (1974) **

After the death of her asshole husband, Alice (Ellen Burstyn) moves to Tucson with her bratty son (Alfred Lutter).  She tries to get a job as a nightclub singer and eventually winds up working at a greasy spoon.  Alice falls in love with one of the customers (Kris Kristofferson) and tries in vain to put her life back together again.   

 

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore is pretty much a lot of melodramatic piffle punctuated by some decent performances.  Because it’s directed by Martin Scorsese, it at least looks great and features a lot of fancy camerawork.  Basically, it feels like an art house version of a Lifetime Movie.

 

One of my all time favorite TV shows as a kid was Alice.  Man, that Flo was funny.  I especially liked it when she’d tell the customers to “kiss her grits”.  This flick is actually Alice:  Year One because it shows how Alice came to work at Mel’s Diner.  Except instead of Linda Lavin as Alice, we’ve got the mom from The Exorcist and instead of Polly Holliday as Flo, it’s Laura Dern’s mom.  The other big difference is that it’s not very funny and is mostly depressing.

 

Even more depressing is that they got a great director like Martin Scorsese to direct what is essentially Alice Begins.  Why would they waste an amazingly talented director on a movie that’s basically an overlong television pilot?  That’s like getting Francis Ford Coppola to direct Chico and the Man:  The Early Years, or Clint Eastwood to direct The Ropers:  The Quickening.

THE KILLING MACHINE (2010) ** ½

Dolph Lundgren directs and stars as an ex-KGB agent-turned-hitman who tries to balance his family life with his work (READ:  Globetrotting assassinations).  Of course his ex-wife resents him but she quickly changes her tune when Dolph rescues her from some gun-toting hitmen.  Once Dolph figures out who double-crossed him, he sets out to kill the men who attacked his family.

 

The Killing Machine is a better than middle of the road Dolph Direct-to-DVD actioner that benefits from a solid performance by The Lundgrenator.  In addition to kicking plenty of butt; he handles himself quite well during the domestic scenes too.  Lundgren also does a capable enough job behind the camera and delivers a handful of decent action sequences.  I think my favorite part though came when Dolph impaled some dude’s face into a barbell.  (There’s also a pretty cool part where he sticks a bitch with a pitchfork too.)

 

I admire Lundgren for trying to graft a more realistic marital relationship into the usual action mix.  Although the rocky relationship between him and his ex-wife helps to set The Killilng Machine apart from the rest of Dolph’s oeuvre, it kinda gets in the way of the fun and will probably diminish the film’s potential rewatchability factor.  It’s definitely no Detention or The Russian Specialist, but it’s still a worthwhile entry in the man’s continuing domination in the Direct-to-DVD action market.

 

AKA:  Icarus.