Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Gene Barry

Free Birds (2013)

Two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history - and get turkey off the holiday menu for good.

Likable and entertaining animated movie centered on the Thanksgiving feast; one wonders: do they really want to make our kids vegetarians?

Maltin**1/2: "Well-made, watchable if offbeat animated sci-fi comedy may actually turn kids away from eating turkey during the holidays..."

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Brats (1930)

New Acquisition: American Horror Story

Maxine Cantway

Stoker (2013)

A young woman's world comes crashing down when her father dies in a car accident, and adding to the girl's emotional turmoil is the sudden arrival of an uncle whom she never knew existed.

The plot, strongly reminiscent of Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, doesn't spell out in full, but it has atmosphere and the director has a fine artistic eye for details and it does have a wicked twist ending.

Maltin**: "Director Park, in his English-language debut, uses his formidable skill creating a moody atmosphere to bring a sense of foreboding to this sick and pointless story...which, inevitably, is punctuated by extreme violence." 

Anita Ekberg

New acquisition: Predestination (2014)

Special Agent (1935)

On the set: Bette Davis

Unstoppable (2010)

With an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train barreling toward a city, a veteran engineer and a young conductor race against the clock to prevent a catastrophe.

Straightforward thriller made in good and simple taste and effectively so, and never intends to be more than just that.

Maltin***1/2: "Sensationally exciting thriller...recalls DIE HARD in its focus on working-class heros in the wrong place at the right time...White-knuckle action sequences and stripped-to-essentials storytelling enhance the full-throttle impact."

Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953)

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers (2007)

In the wake of his wife's death, an old man leaves his native China to visit his estranged daughter in the United States.

Subtle, sensitive and intense study of generational and cultural gaps, very reminiscent in style to the work of  Yasujirô Ozu.

Maltin***: "Quiet but revealing film...The two lead performers are perfect."

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Vamp (1986)

New acquisition: Immortals (2011)

A gift from my pal Ralf.

The Little Foxes (1941)

(ph: George Hurrell)

Le gamin au vélo (2011)

Abandoned by his father, a young boy is left in a state-run youth farm, and in a random act of kindness, the town hair-dresser agrees to foster him on week-ends.

Very realistically staged bleak drama, both insightful and touching, with an excellent cast.

Maltin***1/2: "Another moving slice of life from the Dardenne brothers that unfolds almost like a documentary, without commenting on the action. It's up to us to respond as we choose, and the results are emotionally devastating."

Viva Las Vegas (1964)

New acquisition: Delicatessen (1991)

A gift from my pal Ralf.

Bedazzled (1967)

Disturbia (2007)

A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer.

Well-made, fairly effective thriller is aimed at an adolescent audience and doesn't offer anything new to the genre.

Maltin**1/2: "Well-made film invites comparisons to REAR WINDOW but plays its cards right and builds considerable suspense, until it becomes obvious (and tedious) by the finale. Casting Morse as the neighbor also sends a transparent signal of what's to come."

Friday, 25 November 2016

The Wrong Man (1956)

Hot Spell (1958)

A housewife is doing her best to keep her family together as it's slowly falling apart, a fact she's trying to ignore.
White-knuckled family drama and tragedy almost overdoes it, but is saved thanks to the brilliant cast. 

Halliwell*: "Overwrought domestic drama slipping perilously close to farce at times, but a good theatrical vehicle for its stars."

Maltin**: "Well-acted but dated drama...MacLaine shines as their daughter."

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Caged (1950)

Bend of the River (1952)

When a town boss confiscates homesteader's supplies after gold is discovered nearby, a tough cowboy risks his life to try and get it to them.

A standard Western adventure in near perfection: despite the hopscotch plot you get a great cast, lots of conflict and action, wonderful settings and landscapes, and the hero is redeemed in the end. 

Halliwell*: "Good standard Western with pace and period feeling but not much plot sense."

Maltin***: "Compelling Western..."

Sherry Jackson

Class (1983)

A young boy in private school spends one crazy night out, but soon realizes the woman he hooked up with is not who he expected.

Unashamed rip-off of The Graduate which only shows the pretensions but never delivers; the end result is just a misogynist and outdated campus comedy for male adolescents.

Halliwell (no star): "Ghastly travesty of The Graduate, which aspires to every kind of sophistication it can think of but ends nowhere."

Maltin**: "Slick but uneven mix of romance, comedy, and drama with one-dimensional characters and a lack of credibility. Some good moments lost in the shuffle."

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Fritz Lang

Deux jours à tuer (2008)

A man has everything he needs to be happy: a beautiful wife, two adorable children, friends he can count on, a pretty house in the Yvelines and money; but one day he decides to ruin everything in one weekend.

Intriguing personal drama, at first quite reminiscent of Chabrol's Que la bête meure, but soon the ending becomes quite predictable and replaces the initial gutsy impact with sentimentality.

Princess of the Nile (1954)

La femme du Vème (2011)

A college lecturer flees to Paris after a scandal costs him his job, and in the City of Light he meets a widow who might be involved in a series of murders.

Messy psychological thriller with an otherwise good cast wobbles between reality and fantasy, but hardly uses the imbalance effectively.

Maltin***: "...this moody, dreamlike psychological thriller (which may or may not entirely in the protagonist's head) is often confusing and indecipherable but is very well acted and beautifully made."

Joan Crawford

New acquisition: Stoker (2013)