Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Luchino Visconti

Stalag 17 (1953)

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer is suspected of being an informer.

A typical Billy Wilder mixture of humor and drama, an ensemble piece,  highly entertaining, but politically a bit dubious, if not dated.

Halliwell**: "High jinks, violence and mystery in a sharply calculated mixture; an atmosphere quite different from the understated British films on the subject."

Maltin****: "The pinnacle of all WW2 POW films...Wilder brilliantly blends drama with comedy to show monotonous, anxiety-ridden life of POWs."

When the Earth Cracked Open

A Hammer Horror movie that never was realized, cover girl seems to be Caroline Munro.

Blow Out (1981)

A movie sound recordist accidentally records the evidence that proves that a car accident was actually murder and consequently finds himself in danger.

Classic Brian De Palma thriller with an abundance of cinematic allusions, top-notch in all departments, but, this time around, not quite as suspenseful.

Halliwell (no star): "Showily unpleasant thriller concocted of equal parts of The Conversation, Blow Up, and Kennedy at Chappaquiddik; the work of a copycat talent operating below par."

Maltin**1/2: "Intriguing variation on Antonioni's BLOWUP...Absorbing most of the way, but weakened by show-off camerawork and logic loop-holes."

Meiko Kaji

Cliffhanger (1993)

A botched mid-air heist results in suitcases full of cash being searched for by various groups throughout the Rocky Mountains.

Over-the-top actioner with some spectacular, but very unlikely mountaineering stunts; quite entertaining, if you don't take it too seriously.

Halliwell*: "Enjoyably silly action adventure, with some spectacular, edgy stunts, although it never touches reality at any point and has one of the more ludicrous lip-smacking villains this side of melodrama."

Maltin***: "Eye-popping photography.., white-knuckle stunts, a swift pace, and entertaining characters add up to what a well-made action film should be: tons of fun. Story is thin, though."

Roman Polanski

Gone (2012)

A woman is convinced her kidnapper has returned when her sister goes missing.
Despite a not so very original plot this movie successfully manages to push the right buttons and is highly suspenseful.

Maltin**1/2: "Although this is genre-thriller material, Seyfried's strong portrayal of a woman trying to unlock the truth and move on from her past keeps it going. A couple of nice twists and an exciting finale this a satisfying, if forgettable, kidnap drama."

Nat King Cole

New acquisitions: Symptoms (1974)

The official British Palme d’Or entry at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, Symptoms is a sophisticated modern gothic horror film exploring the themes of sexual repression and psychosis.
Larraz’s dark and stylish film tells of a young woman (Lorna Heilbron) who is invited by her girlfriend (Angela Pleasence) to stay at her remote English country mansion. Events take a disturbing turn when a menacing groundkeeper (Peter Vaughan) interrupts their time together, and a woman’s body is found in the mansion’s lake.
Other than a limited theatrical release and a late-night screening on British television in the early 80s, Larraz’s film has slipped into obscurity, and the original negative was long thought lost, assuring it a place in the BFI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. Following the rediscovery of the original negatives in 2014, the dark delights of Symptoms can finally be experienced again in this new restoration, undertaken by the Belgian Cinematek.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Lili Damita

Progeny (1998)

An unsuspecting woman is impregnated by aliens who are experimenting on the human population.

By far not what one would expect from the synopsis and the director this repetitive semi-psychological  horror movie will disappoint the casual viwer as well as the gernre aficionados.

Halliwell (no star): "Slow-paced psychological horror with some gruesome moments; after a long, dull opening, it becomes more interesting and suspenseful."

Claire Danes

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

The true story of a disillusioned military contractor employee and his drug pusher childhood friend who became walk-in spies for the Soviet Union.

An otherwise interesting story is treated mysteriously indifferent. It's not ever clear what the point's supposed to be.

On renewed viewing: Good performances, well-made, but one still wonders about the protagonists' (and the director's) motivations.

Halliwell (no star): "A true case is made to seem not merely impossible but uninteresting by flaccid cinematic treatment."

Maltin**1/2: "Much food for thought, but we never get to share Hutton's feelings, and that keeps this well-made film somewhat aloof. Standout: Penn's performance as a desperate, amoral, drugged-out kid."

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Julie Newmar

New acquisition: Fargo. Season 2

A gift from my pal Ralf.

Anna May Wong



Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified advertisement seeking a companion for time travel.

Idiosyncratic light comedy with a touch of science fiction and some romance works due to the great cast and a modest approach to the story.

Maltin***: "Science fiction gets a light-hearted twist in this offbeat, well-observed comedy..."

Audrey Hepburn

Tobor the Great (1954)

A young boy-genius befriends his grandfather's robot, designed as a test pilot for space travel and coveted by foreign spies.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

George M. Cohan

Kristy (2014)

When a college girl who is alone on campus over the Thanksgiving break is targeted by a group of outcasts, she must conquer her deepest fears to outwit them and fight back.

Well-made, if not particularly original horror movie that does have some moments of chilling atmosphere and suspense, but for the main part offers the usual cat-and-mouse chase.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

James Coburn

La fabuleuse aventure de Marco Polo (1965)

Young Marco Polo travels to China to help Kublai Khan fight against rebels, headed by his own son, with a new invention: gunpowder.

Entertaining and colorful, but wildy unhistorical Hollywood adevnture tale.

Halliwell (no star): "Curious mixture of melodrama and pantomime, with a star cast half playing for laughs."

Maltin**1/2: "Laighable mini-epic, extremely choppy, with episodic sequences pretending to recount events in life of medieval adventurer."

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Virginia Dale

Hero Wanted (2008)

After he awakens in a hospital, a man tracks down and murders the man that left him and a bank teller for dead during a robbery, only to end up having the slain thief's associates come after him in retaliation.

Great cast and good production guarantee for some thriller quality, but the implausible plot and the 'hero's ' psychological conflict are quite dubious.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Audrey Hepburn

(ph: Cecil Beaton)

Cat People (1982)

A young woman's sexual awakening brings horror when she discovers her urges transform her into a monstrous black leopard.

I remember how excited I was when this one was released in 1982, a remake of the classic Cat People by Paul Schrader and Nastassja Kinski in it! The movie itself was a complete disappointment, such a mess, it doesn't even come near the subtleties of Tourneur's original.

Seing it again after such a long time hasn't helped, it' still not a better movie. Of course a genre pic needn't be plausible, but here the storyline is as if ridiculing the premise. Kinski is worth the watch, though.

On renewed viewing: it still has a silly plot, but some atmospheric scenes and  - Nastassja Kinski.

Halliwell (no star): "One presumes that among the eroticism and bloodlust a statement is being made, but it is never evident."

Maltin**: "Sexy, bloody, technically well crafted, but uneven and ultimately unsatisfying; Schrader seems more concerned with camera angles and nudity than coherent storyline."

Ewa Aulin

Eve's Bayou (1997)

Over the course of a long, hot Louisiana summer, a 10-year-old black girl discovers that her family's affluent existence is merely a facade.

Grand and fascinating Southern family drama that successfully studies the opalescent layers of truth and guilt behind situations; the wonderful cast gives the complex story credibilty and the excellent cinematography creates a realism steeped in a Southern Gothic atmosphere.

Halliwell**: "A family saga seen through the distacing eyes of a child; it is an itriguing story of shifting memories and blame, as the truth of situations change."

Maltin***: "Absorbing tale...Exeptional cast, led by young Smollett, give credence to the often fanciful story, which is drenched in Southern gothic atmosphere. Impressive writing and directing debut for Lemmons." 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Louise Brooks

Beyoncé: Lemonade (2016)

A view of a woman's journey through life.

Powerful and intensefeminist audio-visual poem (or call it musical, if you like) aesthetically reminiscent of Terence Malick's recent work; a treat for eyes and ears.