Thursday, 30 March 2017

Rex Bell

New acquisition: Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (2016)

Luis Buñuel

How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

Three women set out to find eligible millionaires to marry, but find true love in the process.
Likable and entertaining, but harmless and old-fashioned romantic comedy - with a highly predictable plot.

Halliwell**: "Cinemascope's first attempt at modern comedy was not quite as disastrous as might have been expected, largely because of the expensiveness of everything and the several stars still brightly twinkling, but the handling of this variation on the old Golddiggers theme, while entirely amiable, is dramatically very slack."

Maltin***: "Terrific ensemble work in dandy comedy..."

What's New Pussycat (1965)

The Eagle (2011)

In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavors to honor his father's memory by finding his lost legion's golden emblem.

Basically well-made historic action-adventure, but not particularly original; not suitable for educational purposes about history.

Maltin***: "Old-fashioned sword-and-sandal adventure...Characters are well developed, and the battles are nicely staged, against gorgeous Scottish scenery. Bell shines and Tatum at least looks the part. Director McDonald certainly understands the genre but injects a classic western bravado that gives the enterprise an air of freshness."

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Wonderwall (1968)

Pawn Sacrifice (2014)

Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.

Supported by a good cast the movie is successful receating the Cold War period and the tension it created for this particular historic figure and event, but doesn't spark any enthusiasm for chess.

Paths of Glory (1957)

On the set: Stanley Kubrick

New acquisition: Arrival (2016)

Louise Beavers

Death Race 2000 (1975)

Halliwell*: "Cheaply made macabre satire,quite well enough made to please addicts of the blackest of black comedy"

Blatantly exploitative satire with over-the-top black humour; quite entertaining for fans of the genre.

Maltin**1/2: "Outrageous tongue-in-cheek action film...Fast-paced fun, marred by unnecessary gore."

Michael eldon/Psychotronic: "This cartoonish fantasy-comedy remains a popular favorite while its serious and expensive model, Rollerball, is forgotten."

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Carole Lombard

Bambi II (2006)

The story of Bambi growing up in the care of his father, The Great Prince of the Forest.

More harmless, but quite entertaining midquel, especially successful in recreating the beloved  characters from the original and adding more humor.

Steve McQueen

Bambi (1942)

The story of a young deer growing up in the forest.

One of the true masterpieces of animated cinema with wonderfully detailed and endearing characters, telling a story of essential (if a bit dubious) facts about life and nature and with one of the most traumatizing sequences ever presented in a kids' movie.

Bambi****: "Anthropomorphic cartoon feature, one of Disney's most memorable and brilliant achievements, with a great comic character in Thumper the rabbit and a climactic forest fire sequence which is genuinely thrilling. A triumph of the animator's art."

Maltin****: "Walt Disney's moving an exquisitely detailed animated feature...An extraordinary achievement, with the memorably endearing character of Thumper stealing every scene he's in."

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Harry Belafonte

(ph: Carl Van Vechten)

Le tout nouveau testament (2015)

God lives in human form as a cynical writer with his young opinionated daughter in present-day Brussels, Belgium, but she concludes that her dad is doing a terrible job and decides to rewrite the world, which leaves God angry, powerless and adamant to get his power back.

Idiosyncratic and superficially blasphemous satire presents a fantastical parable which works on several levels and manages to entertain and endear at the same time.

Elizabeth Taylor

Out of Time (2003)

A Florida police chief must solve a vicious double homicide before he himself falls under suspicion.

Suspenseful crime thriller with an impossibly construed plot that it's only credulity by Denzel Washington's performance of a corrupt cop we're supposed to like.

Halliwell (no star): "Unoriginal thriller, given a classier treatment than it merits."

Maltin**: "This film noir wannabe would have been made effortlessly in the 1940 and '50s but seems heavy-handed and overly contrived here. Lathan is a fine femme fatale but Washington is the last person you's cast as a patsy."

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Lana Turner

Pot o' Gold (1941)

The owner of a failed music shop, goes to work with his uncle, the owner of a food factory, and as he gets there, he befriends an Irish family who happens to be his uncle's worst enemy because of their love for music and in-house band who constantly practices.

Likeable lively, but rather simple-minded comedy romance entertains, but is marred by - too much music!

Halliwell (no star): "Thin Capraesque comedy which needed more determined handling."

Maltin**: "Very minor item...Stewart called this his worst movie!"

Brigid Bazlen

RoboCop (2014)

In 2028 Detroit, when a man - a loving husband, father and good cop - is critically injured in the line of duty, the multinational conglomerate OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer.

Not bad as a well-made sci-fi actioner, but lacking any of the original's biting satire and humor.

Maltin**: "Slick but hollow remake...Brazilian director Padilha's U.S. debut confirms that he can stage action scenes, but someone should have improved the superficial and humorless screenplay."

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Douglas Fairbanks Jr.

Chappie (2015)

In the near future, crime is patrolled by a mechanized police force, but one police droid, Chappie, is stolen and given new programming, he becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

Although quite violent and rude at times, this sci-fi movie is more like a fairy-tale in disguise and does show some heart and emotion.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Alexis Smith

Mighty Joe Young (1949)

A young woman who has raised a giant gorilla from an infant brings him to Hollywood years later seeking her fortune in order to save her family's ranch.
Charming rip-off of King Kong clearly aimed at a younger audience (despite a lot of violent mayhem there seem to be no fatalities) with the same great special effects and a fast-paced, lively plot with a happy ending.
Halliwell*: "Rather tired comic-sentimental follow-up to King Kong, with a tedious plot and variable animation but a few endearing highlights."
Maltin***: "Updating of KING KONG theme has comparable (and Oscar-winning) stop-motion special effects by Willis O'Brien and Ray Harryhausen, but no matching storyline, and Moore is no Fay Wray. Mr. Young is good, though."

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Natalie Wood

Robots (2005)

In a robot world, a young idealistic inventor travels to the big city to join his inspiration's company, only to find himself opposing its sinister new management.

Set in a quite imaginative future this is fun to watch, if sometimes a bit too fast-paced.

On renewed viewing: I still agree with my first assessment.

Maltin**1/2: "Inventive CG-animated film has dazzling production design...; the script is less magical, with an alarming number of  derriere jokes, but still entertaining, with a lively voice cast, including various celebrity cameos."

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Madeline Smith

The Factory (2012)

An obsessed cop is on the trail of a serial killer prowling the streets of Buffalo, N.Y. but when his teenage daughter disappears, he drops any professional restraint to get the killer.

Cliche-ridden crime thriller with an unsatisfying twist ending; John Cusack's over-the-top performance as the obsessed cop doesn't help, either.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Great Escape (1963)

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.

Although the plot is not quiteinventive, the movie does make the best to turn this closed room drama into a psychological thriller; the cast helps, and John Goodman is  a treat.