Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Victory Theater, New York

The Counselor (2013)

A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Fascinating left-field (and downbeat) thriller plays out its plot like an ancient tragedy about guilt and fate; excellently directed with a stellar cast of characters.

Maltin*1/2: "Grimly fascinating train wreck of a movie. Novelist Cormac McCarthy, in his first screenplay, provides an all-star cast with dialogue so dense it's indecipherable...Opens with a sexy sequence under the bed-sheets with him [Michael Fassbender] and Cruz, but it's downhill from there. Fetishists might check out the scene where cold-blooded Diaz makes love to a Ferrari, but there's nothing else to recommend here, despite a formidable lineup of actors."

[N.B.: I usually force myself to write my 'review' in a single sentence only, but in this case I might need to add some thoughrts. Before watching this movie I was aware that it had got quite a few negative reviews and it was rumored that the plot was impossible to follow. However, I found no problem following the story; maybe I was in advanatge, since I've read all of McCarthy's novels and knew what to expect of him. The script is indeed unusual as it is elliptical, but it is construed to enable you to connect the dots. Similarly, you needn't know the full background of the characters' motivations, since it is based on the one central motive: greed. That said I find this to be an amazing and excellent movie, but slightly inferior to No Country For Old Men, which you can comapre it with.]

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Desire (1936)

Meine Tochter Anne Frank (2015)

The film uses feature scenes and interviews with her contemporaries to tell the story of the short life of Anne Frank.

Tasteful docudrama with an adequate cast has atmosphere and manages to reconstruct moments from Anne Frank's life without  pathos.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Tristana (1970)

Spinning Into Butter (2007)

A hate crime on the campus of a New England college puts the school's dean in a position where she has to examine her own feelings about race and prejudice, while maintaining her administration's politically correct policies.

Well-intended drama dealing with racism is nicely made with a good cast, but has no bite to it and fails to stir a reaction.

Maltin**: "Well-intentioned film means to examine race relations, politics, and bureaucracy within the walls of academia, but the result is flat and deeply flawed."

Orgasmo (1969)

Away We Go (2009)

A couple who is expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family.

Likable, but a bit weary road movie as social satire has a good cast and some memorable scenes.

Maltin***: "Laid-back road movie...won't be everyone's cup of tea, but has a gallery of rich performances, touching moments, and laughs."

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Sophia Loren, Yvonne De Carlo & Gina Lollobridgida

(ph: Henry Koster)

Pompeii (2014)

A slave-turned-gladiator finds himself in a race against time to save his true love, who has been betrothed to a corrupt Roman Senator, and, as Mount Vesuvius erupts, he must fight to save his beloved as Pompeii crumbles around him.

Below-average historical catastrophe drama full of age-old cliches; one is relieved when the volcano finally erupts.

Maltin**1/2: "Special effects are the star attraction in the kind of sword-and-sandal epic that was once a staple in Hollywood. This is pure, hokey fun for the nondiscerning, even if Sutherland's bad-guy performance is a bit monotonous."

Kick In (1931)

New acquisition: Blue Velvet

Tarzan and His Mate (1934)

The Last Days on Mars (2013)

A group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.

Old-fashioned and formulaic sci-fi horror movie is nicely produced, but simply doesn't offer anything new.

Maltin: "Well cast and well made on a low budget, but its debuting director is let down by a script with indifferent dialogue and one of the worst ideas conceivable for an otherwise realistic science-fiction tale: Martian bacteria turn human beings into the murderous walking dead. Oh dear."

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Maria Carmi

Tarzan (2013)

Tarzan and Jane face a mercenary army dispatched by the evil CEO of Greystoke Energies, a man who took over the company from Tarzan's parents, after they died in a plane crash.

Likable, but unremarkable animated movie, clearly intended for a very young audience.

Land of the Pharaohs (1955)

Pitch Black (2000)

A group of marooned space travelers struggle for survival on a seemingly lifeless sun-scorched world.

Above-average sci-fi thriller with some atmospheric visuals.

On renewed viewing: I must admit it's not a masterpiece but a guilty pleasure of mine.

Halliwell (no star): "Essentially a 'B' movie with a few pretensions, this delivers its shocks efficiently enough, but is otherwise in need of a better script and a bigger budget."

Maltin**: "Ambitious, but formulaic sci-fi/horror film...Some exciting scenes and effects, but weighed down by a feeling of deja vu."

Friday, 20 January 2017

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

John Wayne

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012)

A childless couple bury a box in their backyard, containing all of their wishes for an infant, and soon, a child is born, though Timothy Green is not all that he appears.
Sappy fairy-tale-like story is nicely done, but without focus, and the nannying parents are a bit unnerving.

Maltin**: "Well-intentioned fable from the Disney studio is played with conviction by the leading actors, but every time the film shifts focus to a supporting character or subplot it sputters. Too bad."

Kitty (2016)

On the set: Chloë Sevigny

Loulou (1980)

When a middle-class Parisian housewife, married to possessive husband, meets street thug Loulou , her middle-class respectability is thrown out the window and she leaves her husband for Loulou.

This movie offers two brilliant lead performances and works as an in-depth milieu study, but the plot meanders without a clear focus.

Halliwell (no star): "Curious but not particularly interesting character study, watchable mainly for its detail."

Maltin***1/2: "Two leads have terrific sexual rapport in dynamic star vehicle."

Monday, 16 January 2017

Horror Express (1972)

Lovelace (2013)

The story of Linda Lovelace, who is used and abused by the porn industry at the behest of her coercive husband, before taking control of her life.

Despite good production and some excellent performances this attempt of depicting the actual tragedy falls short on offering any depth to the story.

Maltin***: "Absorbing biopic...Evocative performances and first-rate period atmosphere help make this credible - except, perhaps, for a brief, artificial portrayal of Hugh Hefner by Franco."

Felicity Jones

Une femme est une femme (1961)

Avatar (2009)

A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

Spellbinding ecological science fiction with great visuals and a simplistic message.

On renewed viewing: great to warch, but the White Saviour plot is still disconcerting.

Maltin***: "Innovative, futuristic fable, set in a rich computer-generated environment and populated with strikingly designed creatures...Thrilling at times, with a cornucopia of wonders to behold. Cameron's parable about imperialism too often resorts to B-movies cliches and goes on too all long, but the visual experience trumps most of its flaws."