Friday, 15 December 2017

Martha Hyer

A Sound of Thunder (2005)

When a scientist sent back to the prehistoric era strays off the path he causes a chain of events that alters history in disastrous ways.

Disappointingly below-average sci-fi yarn has a silly, logic-defying plot, poor performances and risible special effects to match; it does show some imagination with its array of mutant creatures.

Maltin*1/2: "Misguided expansion of Ray Bradbury short story with mediocre effects and a confusing script. It's easy to see why this remained on the shelf so long."

Lo scatenato (1968)

Steve Jobs (2015)

Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

Energetic, breathless tour-de-force character study easily makes one forget that it mostly consists of talking heads; Winslet and Fassbender deliver amazing performances.

Eva Mendes

New acquisition Twin Peaks (2017)

Norma Shearer

(ph: George Hurrell)

Woman Times Seven (1967)

Seven mini-stories of adultery: "Funeral Possession," a wayward widow at her husband's funeral; "Amateur Night," angry wife becomes streetwalker out of revenge; "Two Against One," seemingly prudish girl turns out otherwise; "Super Simone," wife vainly attempts to divert her over-engrossed writer husband; "At the Opera," a battle over a supposedly exclusive dress; "Suicides," a death pact; "Snow," would-be suitor is actually a private detective hired by jealous husband.

Slight and not really that amusing gender comedy without any depth; Shirley MacLaine is the only attraction in this anthology.

Halliwell (no star): "Humourless after-dinner entertainment."

Maltin***: "...some funny moments, some perceptive comments, but with that cast and director, it should have been much better."

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Riso amaro (1949)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Fearing that the actions of Superman are left unchecked, Batman takes on the Man of Steel, while the world wrestles with what kind of a hero it really needs.

Above-average superhero drama delivers the goods (mostly mayhem) and adds tension to the encounter of Batman and Superman plus some badly needed help from Wonder Woman, collateral damage included.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Min-jung Kim

Contagion (2011)

Healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic as the CDC works to find a cure.

Realistic, grand-scale and star-cast catastrophe movie manages to keep multiple stories and locations  seamlessly in line with the major plot; however, the matter-of-fact approach underplays the doom of a pandemic.

Maltin***: "Pulse-pounding account...Scott Z. Burns' screenplay is scary  because it's all so credible. Soderbergh handles the material in utterly straightforward fashion; there's no poetry here."

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)

Lakeview Terrace (2008)

A LAPD officer will stop at nothing to force out the interracial couple who just moved in next door.

Basically a bad neighbor thriller, there's a subtext of racial tension that irritates; Samuel Jackson L. Jackson as the villain easily steals the show.

Maltin**1/2: "Provocative and well-acted, but film's constantly shifting sympathies make it difficult to know what the point is supposed to be."

Alicia Witt

New acquisition: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Taxi Driver (1976)

New acquisition: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Yvonne Monlaur

The Ice Harvest (2005)

A shady lawyer attempts a Christmas Eve crime, hoping to swindle the local mob out of some money, but his partner, a strip club owner, might have different plans for the cash.

Somnambulant - and humorless - heist thriller takes its time till it reveals that it actually does have a plot; good cast is hardly faced with any challenge.

Maltin**: "Mostly unfunny black comedy must have worked better on the pages of Scott Phillip's novel..."

Nicolas Winding Refn

New acquisition: Dr. Cyclops (1940)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Don Camillo e l'onorevole Peppone (1955)

Bewildered, Don Camillo learns that Peppone intends to stand for parliament.

Still entertaining as before, although the plot is broken down into episodes.

On renewed viewing: Always mildly entertaining.

Halliwell *: "Pleasant third collection of encounters with familiar characters."

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Barbarella (1968)

On the set: Jane Fonda

Nightcrawler (2014)

When a con man desperate for work, muscles into the world of L.A. crime journalism, he blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.

The story has been told before (Billy Wilder's Ace in the Hole comes to mind), but Jake Gyllenhaal's portrayal of a soulless reporter adds a whole dimension of frightening demonical possession.

King of Jazz (1930)

Monsters (2010)

Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion, a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the U.S. border.

Refreshingly idiosyncratic sci-fi road movie uses the term aliens in both senses of the word (the USA even has built a large wall on the Mexican border!), but the low budget shows with the monster scenes held mostly in dark, and the human interest in the story is quite limited.

Maltin**1/2: "Unusually conceived, ultra-low-budget is surprisingly intelligent and occasionally suspenseful, though it's overlong, inconclusive, and the acting level varies sharply. Still, an impressive debut..."

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Les lèvres rouges (1971)

It (1990)

In 1960, seven pre-teen outcasts fight an evil demon who poses as a child-killing clown. Thirty years later, they reunite to stop the demon once and for all when it returns to their hometown.
Lacklustre TV adaptation of Stephen King's mammoth novel doesn't spark any fright or thrills and goes too long for its undramatic ending; the children's sequences are superior to the 'present day' story.

Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1920)

Man of Steel (2013)

Clark Kent, one of the last of an extinguished race disguised as an unremarkable human, is forced to reveal his identity when Earth is invaded by an army of survivors who threaten to bring the planet to the brink of destruction.

Good variation of the Superman saga thrills with great production and effects and a nicely assembled cast; alas, the final duel gives the term 'collateral damage' a whole new dimension.

Maltin**1/2: "...never quite soars, despite a promising start...the second half of the movie, a nonstop demolition derby that resembles a loud, raucous TRANSFORMERS movie and leaves its characters on the back burner. A good cast, led by the finely chiseled Cavill, can only do so much with this material."

Beth Beri

New acquisition: Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide