Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Ann Dvorak

The Iron Lady (2011)

An elderly Margaret Thatcher talks to the imagined presence of her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister, intervene. 

Well-produced, but strangely neutral biopic that merely states that its protagonist was "controversial"; Meryl Streep's amazing performance is part of the problem as it beggars empathy for a person who would have never shown any herself.

Maltin**1/2: "Uneven biopic...We get a CliffsNotes review of her life and career, but nothing personal or professional is explored in a meaningful way except for Thatcher's stubbornness...It's not clear whether this [her later dementia] is meant to humanize or diminish her. Roach does a solid job playing Thatcher as a young woman, but it's Streep's towering and credible performance...that makes the movie worth seeing."

Dany Carrel

The Cooler (2003)

In an old school Las Vegas casino, its top gambling jinx breaks his curse when he falls in love, much to his boss' consternation.

Unusual and quite original story wins through intelligent direction and a perfect cast.

Maltin***: "Clever story is perfectly cast; Baldwin is terrific as the hard-edged casino boss who decries the transformation of Vegas into Disneyland. Everything clicks - until the final scene."

Monday, 26 September 2016

Duck Soup (1933)

L'immortel (2010)

A retired mobster goes on a revenge spree after being left for dead with 22 bullets in his body by his former childhood friend.

Standard star vehicle, a lively thriller with a huge body count, but otherwise not quite memorable.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Target Earth (1954)

Shônen (1969)

A young boy reluctantly aids his swindling father in a threatening scam.

Told as a simple, but harrowing family drama the movie subtly uses a complex structure mingling fantasy and reality and the result can be seen as a sharply carved parable of post war Japanese society.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Karin Mossberg

New acquisitions: Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Deanna Durbin

In the Electric Mist (2009)

A detective in post Katrina New Orleans area has a series of surreal encounters with a troop of friendly Confederate soldiers while investigating serial killings of local prostitutes, a 1965 lynching and corrupt local businessmen.

Interesting as this great French director's first American production, but despite all talent involved, the plot goes in all directions and makes the story diffuse and without focus.

On second viewing: still agree that the story is vague and without focus, but the movie hold's one interst with atmosphere and a good cast.

Maltin **1/2: "Atmospheric and well cast, this police procedural with mystical undertones is highly watchable, although some of the characters and relationships seem a bit sketchy ..."

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Patricia Arquette

Vampyros Lesbos (1971)

A vixen vampiress seduces and kills women to appease her insatiable thirst for female blood.

Undeniably trashy and exploitative, but wildy (and often irritatingly) stylish, tinged in an erotic (mainly lesbian) atmosphere and with a madly off-kilter soundtrack; these qualities make it watchable beyond the tedium and the fact that the cast act as if under hypnosis.

Halliwell (no star): "A dull and inept horror movie made worse by Franco's penchant for meaningless zooms, abrupt transitions and inappropriate soundtravk music; the pace is leaden, the cast act as though they're zombies, and the director resorts to scenes of lesbian lovemaking at frequent intervals."


Michelle Reis

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a procedure to have each other erased from their memories, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

Complex and intriguing love drama playing with our sense of time and memory; well worth watching, but at times a strain putting the parts together. 

Halliwell*: "Another film with a beginning, middle and end, though not necessarily in that order; indeed, the beginning is the end. It is too fussy in its writing and direction to maintain interest in its shifting narrative."

Maltin***: "Ingenious, Oscar-winning screenplay by Charlie Kaufman...is extremely well executed by director Gondry (and cinematographer Ellen Kuras), though the film tends to cleverly dance around the roots of emotional and romantic pain rather than fully engage them. Carrey has never been better; Winslet is (as always) exceptional."

Monday, 19 September 2016

Donald Crisp

Sea Wife (1957)

In 1942, a cargo ship jammed with British evacuees from Singapore is sunk by a Japanese sub, and  a small lifeboat carries a beautiful woman, an army officer, a bigoted administrator, and a black seaman.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Out of the Past (1947)

Night of the Big Heat (1967)

While mainland Britain shivers in deepest winter, the northern island of Fara bakes in the nineties.
Quite tedious sci-fi yarn with a laughable story (and likewise are the aliens); quite a waste for the two stars in the cast.
Halliwell*: "Sloppily made and over-prolonged science fiction with far too much irrelevant talk."
Maltin**1/2: "Good sci-fi, with Lee and Cushing at their best." 

Tab Hunter

Keeping Mum (2005)

A pastor preoccupied with writing the perfect sermon fails to realize that his wife is having an affair and his children are up to no good.

Likable and old-fashioned, but otherwise unremarkable British black comedy; the cast is quite adequate for the occasion.

Maltin***: "Small but delightfully realized fun, sparked by a sterling cast."

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

Barry Lyndon (1975)

On the set: Ryan O'Neal and Stanley Kubrick

Velvet Goldmine (1998)

In 1984, a British journalist investigates the career of 1970s glam superstar Brian Slade, who was heavily influenced in his early years by hard-living and rebellious American singer Curt Wild.

Using a plot modeled after Citizen Kane this movie offers some great period details and music and succeeds in recreating the 70s glam rock scene; the story, however, remains negligible in comparison.

Halliwell**: "A camp account of a camp phenomenon, flamboyantly revelling in the fakery and the androgynous appeal of it all."

Maltin**1/2: "Opulent, glittery paean toearly '70s glam rock (and youth-culture head movies like QUADROPHENIA and PERFORMANCE) is such a triumph of style and excess it's easy to overlook the film's clinky CITIZEN KANE narrative structure and emotionally aloof characters. Rhys Meyers is effectively snotty as a bisexual David Bowie-esque pop star, but Collette is a standout as his negelcted party-girl wife..."

Werner Herzog

Symptoms (1974)

A young woman is invited by her girlfriend, who lives in an English country mansion, to stay there with her; the estate, however, isn't quite what it seems--and neither is the friend who issued the invitation.

Atmospheric and stylish thriller that creates a dreamlike mindscape where all males are annoying intruders and the English woods appear like a jungle; unsual, but the plot itself is not too original.

Halliwell*: "Creepy thriller with lesbian undertones, stylishly directed."


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Body Double (1984)

On the set: Deborah Shelton and Brian De Palma

They Made Me a Criminal (1939)

A boxer flees believing he has comitted a murder while he was drunk.

Effective and quite unsentimental crime drama (and romance); an example for those kind of movies "they don't make anymore".

Halliwell*: "Competent remake of  The Life of Jimmy Dolan, a tribute to the American way."

Maltin**1/2: "Enjoyable, with Rains miscast as a Dick Tracy type."

James Craig

The Flesh Eaters (1964)

A group of young adults are trapped on a desert island only to find the water inhabited by a violent form of flesh-eating organisms.

Unusual sci-fi shocker with some gory scenes; it has an adequate cast and some surprise moments, but the monster is once again absolutely ridiculous.

Maltin*1/2: "Occasionally tense, but gruesome and generally boring."

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

June Duprez

Black Narcissus (1947)

After opening a convent in the Himalayas, five nuns encounter conflict and tension - both with the natives and also within their own group - as they attempt to adapt to their remote, exotic surroundings.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Gorgo (1961)

Destination Moon (1950)

A team composed of an aerospace scientist, an ex-Air Force general and an industrialist conceive an ambitious plan to land Americans on the moon.

Excellently produced sci-fi advaenture with good effects and amazing scientific accuracy in almost all details; interesting, but not quite exciting.

Halliwell*: "Semi-documentary prophecy with impressive gadgetry encased in a tedious and totally unsuprising script."

Maltin**1/2: "One of the pioneer sci-fi films about the first manned mission to the moon, modestly mounted but still effective. Striking lunar paintings by Chelsey Bonestell."