Saturday, 30 July 2016

Chelo Alonso

Playing God (1997)

Stripped of his medical license after performing an operation while high on amphetamines, a famed LA surgeon abandons his former life only to find himself crossing paths with an infamous counterfeiter.

Despite the star cast and routine production this is a quite unoriginal and weary crime thriller.

Halliwell (no star): "A lugubrious central performance sinks this sluggish, predictable thriller."

Maltin*1/2: "Preposterous story...The improvised medical treatment is so completely laughable, it upstages the absurdity of the story line. Why this movie was made is truly a case for The X-Files."

Katherine DeMille

Yesterday's Children (2000) (TV)

A mother's haunting dreams lead her to another place, another time, and a mysterious past.
Nicely produced TV drama which offers some very good period details in the Ireland flashbacks, but is overly sentimental - and speculative concerning the topic of reincarnation. 

Lori Nelson

Ghostbusters (1984)

Three former parapsychology professors set up shop as a unique ghost removal service.

An otherwise silly premise (and plot) is turned into a successful comedy thanks to tongue-in-cheek direction and a valiant, good-humored cast of characters.

Halliwell*: "Crude farce with expensive special effects. It took more money - millions more - than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which must say something about the age we live in."

Maltin***: "The first multimillion-dollar scare comedy...Engagingly offbeat, even subdued at times, with Murray's flippant personality nicely contrasting Richard Edlund's eye-popping special effects. Great fun all the way..."

Louise Brooks

Toast (2010) (TV)

The story of British cook and writer Nigel Slater's childhood.

Above-average TV biopic, well produced and with a great cast, is initially heart-rendering and endearing, but eventually evolves into a story of its protagonist's coming of age.

Maltin**: "Flavorful film is a great showcase for Bonham Carter and Stott."

Friday, 29 July 2016

Scarlett Johansson

Smart Woman (1931)

A woman sets out to regain the affections of her cheating husband Donald Gibson after she returns from a trip to Paris, where she had to look after her sick mother.

Slight comedy, well-made with an adequate cast, quite modern in its depiction of sexual relationships, but it shows that it's an adaptation of a stage play.

Maltin***: "Highly amusing, sophisticated comedy-drama of sexual politics."

Elisha Cook, Jr.

Dangerous Afternoon (1961)

The manager of a halfway house for female ex-cons takes action when a blackmailer threatens to expose her secret.

Likable, easy-going, but otherwise unremarkable little crime story with a good, almost all-female cast.

Halliwell (no star): "An interesting notion - a retirement home for genteel female crooks - becomes mired in an uninteresting story of blackmail an murder."

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

On the set: Model of a B-52 Bomber

The Thing That Couldn't Die (1958)

A psychically gifted young woman discovers a centuries-old crate buried on her aunt's ranch, opening it, her family discovers the living head of Gideon Drew, a 16th century devil worshiper who was beheaded by Sir Francis Drake.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Godfather (1972)

On the set: John Cazale, Marlon Brando, Richard Conte and Francis Ford Coppola

The Brain Eaters (1958)

A huge, seemingly alien structure has been found jutting out of the earth sending parasites from the center of the earth to infiltrate the town, taking control of the authorities and workers.

Hilariously bad Sci-fi shocker with a very limited entertainment value, even as a baddie; notable for offering an early Leonard Nimoy in a small role - and an extra point goes to the great movie poster.

Halliwell (no star): "Low-budget imitation of Invasion of The Body Snatchers, but with little evidence of intelligence in its making."

Maltin**: "Some mildly scary moments."

Portrait of Jennie (1948)

On the set: Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten

The Cars That Ate Paris (1974)

The small town of Paris, Australia deliberately causes car accidents, then sells/salvages all valuables from the wrecks as a means of economy.

Deliberately offkilter satire with some absurdist moments, but otherwise weak on humor and as social comment; interesting alone for the fact that it's Peter Weir's first feature.

Halliwell*: "Another small town with a guilty secret, in this case more suitable to a half-hour than a feature, but with rewarding attention to detail."

Maltin**1/2: "Iffy black comedy has its moments; must viewing for those who've followed Weir's directorial career step-by-step into the big leagues."


Krzysztof Kieślowski

Dishonored Lady (1947)

A fashion editor of a slick Manhattan magazine by day and a lively party girl by night suffers under the pressures of her job, including kowtowing to a hefty advertiser, and her bad luck with men are driving her to a breakdown.

Lively woman's picture with a crime story thrown in for good measure entertains thanks to Hedy lamarr's competent performance and excellent Noir cinematography.

Halliwell (no star): "Melodramatic showpiece designed for herself by a glamorous star; OK for the silly season."

Maltin**: "Adequate drama..."


Friday, 22 July 2016

Diana Dors

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.
Excellent documentary gives unusual insights into the production of a movie and, moreover, on the madness of the making of Apocalypse Now, its prodcution at the time having received more media interest than the finished movie.
Halliwell**: "Fascinating glimpse not only of filmmaking on a troubled location with oversized egos in collision, but also of Hollywood attitudes of the time. It bears out Coppola's summation, 'We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane."
Maltin***1/2: "Top-notch documentary...Expertly mixes footage shot by Eleanor Coppola ...during the film's shooting...and decade-later interviews...Revealing peak into the filmmaking process and a record of events during this particular film's chaotic shoot."

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Knight of Cups (2015)

A writer indulging in all that Los Angeles and Las Vegas has to offer undertakes a search for love and self via a series of adventures with six different women.

No doubt, Terrence Malick is a master with a visionary drive, and again he offers a stellar cast and spectacularly beautiful images; but he's always been on the verge of appearing pretentious, and this time he actually did it; there's no way one can find empathy with a rich, spoilt, bored screenwriter seeking a meaning to his life amidst the privileged world he lives in.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tom Conway

Djúpið (2012)

Based on actual events, a fisherman tries to survive in the freezing ocean after his boat capsizes off the south coast of Iceland.
Captivating true life tale that avoids to explain the unusual survivor, but celebrates the simplicity and raw beauty of the people and the land (and sea) they live on.

Marie Doro

Blood Ties (2013)

Two brothers, on either side of the law, face off over organized crime in Brooklyn during the 1970s.

A thriller with a stellar cast functions as study of a complex brotherly love/hate relationship; manages to keep one's attention, despite a large array of characters and subplots and being slightly too long.

Maltin**: "Convincingly performed all around, especially by Caan as their sickly dad, but the too-familiar setups deliver merely the expected."