Tuesday, 30 June 2015
A wandering gunfighter plays two rival families against each other in a town torn apart by greed, pride, and revenge.
Not the first, but by far the most influential and best known spaghetti western masterpiece, creating its first international star, cementing its director's reputation as one of cinema's greatest and setting the standards for the genre in attitude, mise en scene, cinematography and sound (score by Ennio Morricone).
Halliwell***: "A film with much to answer for: it began the craze for 'spaghetti Westerns', took its director to Hollywood, and made a TV cowboy into a world star. It turned the Western into a brutal baroque opera, a violent clash between individuals."
Maltin***: "Sagebrush remake of YOJIMBO single-handedly invented the "spaghetti Western", made an international superstar of Eastwood, and boosted the carrerers of Leone and composer Ennio Morricone as well...Amusing, violent, and very stylish."
After she becomes stranded in a small town, a young woman discovers her arrival there was foretold a century earlier by the town's founding preacher and that she is an integral part of his impending - and terrifying - rebirth.
Run-of-the-mill horror thriller slovenly staged and with no surprises to uphold any suspense.
Monday, 29 June 2015
Sunday, 28 June 2015
A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty eternally, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.
Docile adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel with some emphasis on the goth elements; despite good production value and a worthy cast not particularly stirring.
Maltin**: "Glum, often ghastly rendering of Oscar Wilde's novel...Director Parker did well by Wilde in AN IDEAL HUSBAND, but this adaptation removes all the wit from the source material and substitutes gore and gloom."
A detective of the paranormal slowly unravels mysterious events with deadly results.
Trashy horror with all participating lost at sea.
On renewed view: it doesn't get better by watching it again...
Maltin BOMB: "...unintelligible time-waster based on an Atari video game. The opening crwal is dopey and overlong; what follows is mind-numbingly awful. Casting Reid as an anthropologist is like assigning Curly Howard the role of a neurosurgeon."
Saturday, 27 June 2015
A United Nations employee traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.
Unusual variation within the Zombie genre has some good moments and is extremely well produced, but the episodic structure of the story, the unconvincingly construed ending and especially the fact that the movie is made for a PG-13 audience will disappoint diehard fans.
Maltin***: "Intense, involving horror movie has us rooting for Pitt and the good guys he encounters in his globe-trotting race to find a cure without being eaten alive. Lots of scares but no graphic gore, which is quite a novelty."
A group of scientists investigate a deadly new alien virus before it can spread.
Science fiction in the full sense of the word: an instant classic! Its aesthetics, especially the split-screen, may seem a bit dated, but they do fit the topic well.
On renewed view: still enjoy watching this science fiction classic.
Halliwell**: "Solemn and over-detailed but generally suspenseful thriller, with a sense of allegory about man's inhumanity to man."
Maltin**1/2: "Overlong sci-fi thriller..."
Friday, 26 June 2015
A spider escapes from an isolated desert laboratory experimenting in giantism and grows to tremendous size as it wreaks havoc on the local inhabitants.
Classic 50s monster movie is still fun and in so many ways much better than its present-day clones.
On renewed view: I still enjoy this movie, one of the best B pictures ever, and a favourite from my childhood on.
Halliwell (no star): "Moderate monster hokum with the desert setting which became a cliche; the grotesque faces are more horrific than the spider, which seldom seems to touch the ground."
Maltin ***: "One of the best giant-insect films, with fast-pacing, convincing special effects, and interesting subplot detailing formula's effect on humans. That's Clint Eastwood as the jet squadron leader in final sequence."
Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death.
More of the same; if you like to see imaginative death scenes, it'll entertain you.
Maltin**1/2: "More of the same, only slightly different...Director Quale and scriptwriter Eric Heisserer revitalize the 11-year-old series with crafty fake-outs, unsettling surprises, and genuine suspense while setting up the interlocking happenstances that lead to violent demises. In a perfect world, this sequel's ingeniously nasty and darkly ironic payoff would provide suitable closure for the entire franchise."
In 1990s Belfast an active member of the IRA becomes an informant for MI5 in order to protect her son's welfare.
Intense, well made with a good cast, the movie doesn't really add any new insight into the North Ireland conflict.
Maltin**1/2: "Good direction and acting, especially by Riseborough, but slow and studied, with snatches of dry suspense."
Sunday, 21 June 2015
A veteran comes home from the Korean War to the mountains and takes over the family moonshining business.
Offbeat crime thriller, slow-paced, well-played, and with a touch of Noir.
Halliwell*: "Downbeat but actionful crime melodrama with an unusual background and plenty of car chases."
Maltin***:"...cult favorite that even today continues to play in drive-ins; for many this remains the definitive moonshine picture. Jim Mitchum makes screen debut playing Bob's brother; the elder Mitchum got a hit record out of the title tune, which he also wrote!"
Friday, 19 June 2015
A group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.
Unimiaginative and unexciting slasher with a cast of thoroughly disagreeable characters.
Maltin*1/2: "Complete with beautiful half-naked girls, sex, and blood, this typical "scary movie" doesn't make any attempt to be original."
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
A military officer is brought into an alien war against an extraterrestrial enemy who can reset the day and know the future.
The story is not new, there are hardly any surprises otherwise, and the militaristic stance is unappealing; but the result is a professionally made, exciting and entertaining action movie.
Maltin***: "Intriguing premise is punched across in this kinetically entertaining science fiction yarn, sharply directed by Liman."
Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.
Likable lightweight and mildy humorous account of the two protagonists' stories; Meryl Streep is, like ever, marvelous.
Maltin***: "Streep is a marvel to behold as the fabled chef (with Tucci a perfect partner as her loving husband), and Adams is well cast as her modern-day disciple. What might have been a great film goes on too long and doesn't provide a satisfying finale."