Thursday, 30 June 2016

The Queen of Sheba (1921)

Komodo (1999)

A young boy comes face to face with Komodo dragons while suffering the loss of both his parents.

Mediocre creature feature that hardly offers any frights or suspense.

Halliwell (no star): "Feeble low-budget horror with no scares and little suspense."

Monday, 27 June 2016

Masculin féminin (1996)

A young man, just demobbed from national service in the French Army, and dishillusioned with civilian life, and as his girlfriend builds herself a career as a pop singer, becomes more isolated from his friends and peers and their social and emotional politics.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Marie Provost

Frankenhooker (1990)

A medical student sets out to recreate his decapitated fiancée by building her a new body made of Manhattan street prostitutes.

Exemplary exercise in gross humor and bad taste, fitfully made on a low budget, culminates in a Grand Guignol ending with a wicked twist; not at all for the squeamish.

Halliwell (no star): "Odd mix of uninventive comedy and gore, relying on its tastelessness to amuse."

Maltin*1/2: "Grim, gory, and seldom funny horror comedy...Offensive, cheap, and ugly - even by splatter genre standards."

Hugo (2011)

X: First Class (2011)

In 1962, the United States government enlists the help of Mutants with superhuman abilities to stop a malicious dictator who is determined to start World War III.

Typical modern-day superhero extravaganza: great production value and some good bits, but very slow to get started and the heroes' diverse superpowers seem silly and arbitrary.

Maltin**1/2: "Good story tries to cover too much ground and introduces an abundance of characters...but the appeal of Marvel's X-Men remains intact, especially in the solid perforances of McAvoy and Fassbender. Newcomers Lawrence and Hoult score while Bacon seems miscast. A couple of surprise cameos will please series fans."

Friday, 24 June 2016

Leila Hyams

After Earth (2013)

A crash landing leaves a young boy and his father stranded on Earth, a millennium after events forced humanity's escape, and since the father is injured, the boy must embark on a perilous journey to signal for help.

OK, but unremarkable sci-fi adventure does offer some nice settings, but leaves very much of its future vision unexplained.

Maltin**: "Juvenile adventure yarn...may appeal to younger viewers, but the downright awkward at times. And what's with the oddball dialect?"


Monday, 20 June 2016

The Ancient Mariner (1925)

Prometheus (2012)

Following clues to the origin of mankind a team journey across the universe and find a structure on a distant planet containing a monolithic statue of a humanoid head and stone cylinders of alien blood but they soon find they are not alone.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Norma Shearer

Re-Animator (1985)

A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus.

Gory horror comedy, one of the first of this kind; quite entertaining, if you can take it.

Halliwell (no star): "Gross and grisly horror comic which amused some critics."

Maltin***: "Knockout thriller and black comedy...Debut film director Gordon goes entertainignly over the line, especially in an off-color scene involving heroine Crampton and a lustful severed head. Major defect: Richard Band's music score, which is too reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's classic PSYCHO sound track."

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Teresa Wright

Looking for Eric (2009)

Eric, a football fanatic postman whose life is descending into crisis, receives some life coaching from the famously philosophical Eric Cantona.

Likable and heartwarming social comedy with a lively ensemble.

Maltin***: "Likable, and lighter than most Loach fodder, but not without his usual bleak stamp."

Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)

Lawless (2012)

In Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a trio of bootlegging brothers are threatened by a new special deputy and other authorities angling for a cut of their profits.

Intense, well-staged and well-cast crime drama, has atmosphere, but is somewhat slow-paced.

Maltin**: "Vividly atmospheric period piece, filmed in Georgia, has fine actors, flavor to spare, and spurts of extreme violence, but Nick Cave's screenplay leaves some characters undeveloped (like Oldman, who vanishes after two scenes) and others merely improbable (Chastain, as a wordly Chicago woman who seeks refuge - in rural Virginia). Watchable throughout, but bears no scrutiny whatsoever."

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Steve Buscemi

(ph: Jeff Riedel)

American Beauty (1999)

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Perfectly executed satire on the American Way of Life which appears to say more profound things about existence than it actually does; works best seen as a black comedy.

Halliwell****: "A terrific, biting comedy about a man dealing, in an adolescent way, with a midlife crisis and the aridities of the life he and those around him are living; it manages not only to expose the inanities of a conformist society, but also to suggest an alternative, in the small pleasures that existence affords. There is not a false note in either the acting or the direction."

Maltin***1/2: "Exceptional and original look at the American Dream gone sour...Amusing, bittersweet, and insightful script by Alan Ball is perfectly realized by a superb cast and first-time film director."

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Alfred Hitchcock

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.

Accurate continuation of the sage with great set pieces and effects, but the story drags along without suspense till the predictable finale finally gets started.

On second viewing: still agree with my first impression; though quite entertaining after all. 

Lillian Gish

Texas Killing Fields (2011)

In the Texas bayous, a local homicide detective teams up with a cop from New York City to investigate a series of unsolved murders.

Intense and well-cast crime thriller with emphasis on atmosphere and character than on the (predictable) plot.

Maltin**1/2: "Slick psycological thriller, "inspired by true events", has atmosphere to spare but is hampered by one too many plot inconsistencies and often unintelligible dialogue."

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Yvonne Craig

Qu'est-ce qu'on a fait au Bon Dieu? (2014)

A Catholic French couple sees their life upside down when their four daughters get married to men of different religion and origins.

Slight French comedy, funny and likable with an unpretentious stance for tolerance.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Virna Lisi

Blue Velvet (1986)

The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Luis Buñuel

Pars vite et reviens tard (2007)

A modern-day Parisian town crier gradually learns that someone is using him to give cryptic warnings of a plague outbreak in the city.

Unusual crime mystery with a good cast cast has atmosphere, but some aspects of the plot seem awkward and at times one has the feeling of seeing the continuation of a previous movie.