Sunday, 30 April 2017

Marjorie Beebe

I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

Congenial visualization of an ambitious and complex literary concept seems true to James Baldwin's intended message and also manages to emphasize its relevance today.

Patricia Avery

(ph: Clarence Sinclair Bull)


Arbitrage (2012)

A troubled hedge fund magnate desperate to complete the sale of his trading empire makes an error that forces him to turn to an unlikely person for help.

Superior drama that manages to tell ist story with hardly any action; the supporting cast is excellent, but it's Richard Gere who gets extra credit for portraying a slippery, and thoroughly objectionable character and giving him some charisma.

Maltin**1/2: "Gere is perfectly cast in this credible, well-crafted debut fiction feature for writer-director Jarecki...But if you don't care what happens to Gere - and we didn't - the whole thing seems a bit empty."

Friday, 28 April 2017

Renée Zellweger

Mirrors 2 (2010)

When a young man, who is recovering from a traumatic accident, takes a job as a nighttime security guard, he begins to see visions of a young mysterious woman in the store's mirror.

More straightforward (and simpler) plot than the first installment effectively sets the supernatural in service of a crime mystery.

Ingrid Bergman and Isabella Rossellini

Mirrors (2008)

An ex-cop and his family are the target of an evil force that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home.

The movie pushes its narrative forward with urgency, but Sutherland's performance is over-the-top, and in the end it's nothing more than another plain old ghost story. 

Maltin**: "Pretty lame attempt at horror bungles what could have been a decent psychological tale of a man in crisis."

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

The Way of War (2009)

A target of his own country due to the volatile knowledge he now possesses, a highly trained government assassin attempts to stay out of the crosshairs long enough to expose the truth and ensure that justice is served.

The movie has some pretensions about saying something about war and does have a slow, brooding atmosphere, but the narrative is full of ellipses and quite incoherent.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Le sang d'un poète (1932)

New acquisition: Frank Zappa A Token of His Extreme

Love & Friendship (2016)

The Learning Tree (1969)

The story, set in Kansas during the 1920s, covers less than a year in the life of a black teenager, and documents the veritable deluge of events which force him into sudden manhood.

Basically a simple and nostalgic coming-of-age story, the movie is expertly staged and photographed and has a sharp eye for the racism in everyday life.

Halliwell*: "Despite its semi-autobiographical nature, the prevailing tone is nostalgic and almost elegiac; the past, despite its racism, is recollected with affection."

Maltin**1/2: "Parks called virtually every shot in brilliantly photographed but surprisingly mild version of his autobiographical novel...Film's appeal lies more in its intentions than in what it actually accomplishes."

Isabelle Adjani

Dementia 13 (1963)

Members of an Irish family are being killed off by one of their own who wishes to inherit the family fortune.

Francis Ford Coppola's mainstream debut is a superior horror B picture and, despite the obvious genre restrictions, shows some artistic aspirations, especially concerning the b/w expressionistic photography and plot development. 

Halliwell*: "Nastily effective macabre piece with interesting credits."

Maltin**: "Gory horror film...filmed for about 29¢ for Roger Corman; may be worth a look for curiosity's sake."

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Agora (2009)

In Roman Egypt, a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity in the hope of pursuing freedom falls in love with his mistress, the famous philosophy and mathematics professor Hypatia of Alexandria.

Despite of all well intentions in production and performance the highly rousing biography of the historic Hypatia is buttered down to a sword and sandal spectacle.

Maltin**: "Potentially interesting tale of science and humanism in conflict with religious intolerance (with obvious to the present day) is too simplistic and melodramatic to make an impression."

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Claudine Auger

Roxy the Movie (2015)

A concert movie showing a performance by the much-loved 1973 incarnation of the Mothers of Invention.

Straightforward concert film offers a great occasion to see Zappa and his top-notch band on stage; the complex music and the virtuoso performance are a treat, not just for die-hard fans.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Sabrina (1954)

A playboy becomes interested in the daughter of his family's chauffeur, but it's his more serious brother who would be the better man for her.

Billy Wilder delivers with his usual expertise, humor and pacing in this entertaining comedy romance, and Audrey Hepburn is perfect in the title role, but the casting of the two much older male leads makes it all seem quite implausible.

Halliwell*: "Superior comedy, rather uneasily cast."

Maltin***1/2: "...good vehicle for Hepburn...Offbeat casting works in this fun film."

Friday, 21 April 2017

Megan Fox

Bear Island (1979)

On the remote Norwegian Bear Island, used as a submarine base by the Germans during WW2, an U.N. scientist sends a distress signal using an emergency NATO frequency and is received by scientific vessel Morning Rose.

Good example how a production with top credentials results into a mediocre product.

Halliwell (no star): "Highly implausible adventure yarn, indifferently presented."

Maltin*1/2: "One of Alistair MacLean's best novels became one of his worst movies...Strong cast, capable director and scenic locations come to naught."

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Film (1965)

An Unfinished Life (2005)

A down on her luck widow, desperate to provide care for her daughter, moves in with her father in-law from whom she is estranged, because he gives her the fault for his son's death.
A deliberately simple tale is well produced and the cast in great form, but the movie is slow-paced and not too exciting.
ON renewed viewing: I still agree with my first assessment, but it is a likable movie.
Maltin***: "Warmhearted, embracing story about family ties and the need for forgiveness. It's a treat to watch Redford and Freeman as two old codgers with an unshakable bond of friendship."

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Elizabeth Taylor

Pieta (2012)

A loan shark is forced to reconsider his violent lifestyle after the arrival of a mysterious woman claiming to be his long-lost mother.

Intense and complex tale of love, guilt and redemption, competently directed with good lead performances.


Robert Redford

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

A frustrated circus magician from Kansas is transported to a magical land called Oz, where he will have to fulfill a prophecy to become the king, and release the land from the Wicked Witches using his great (but fake) powers.

Likable and entertaining fantasy offers some nice moments, but doesn't have the magic one would expect considering all the credentials, and it's a bit too long.

Maltin**1/2: "Elaborate, eye-filling production...can't be compared to the 1939 THE WIZARD OF OZ, aside from some winks in its direction. Fairly entertaining on its own terms but overlong and, frankly unmemorable. Braff provides consistent laughs as a talking monkey."

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Profondo rosso (1975)

After witnessing the murder of a famous psychic, a musician teams up with a feisty reporter to find the killer while evading attempts on their lives by the unseen assailant bent on keeping a dark secret buried.
Creepy horror thriller in classic Argento style: dark atmosphere, bizarre murders and an irritating soundtrack; the original uncut Italian version is - in parts - bit too talkative.
Halliwell**: "Slick, stylish, decadent, suspenseful thriller, with a disquieting atmosphere that continually puts its audience, like its victims, off-balance. Hemmings's character owes much to his role in Antonioni's Blow Up." 

Maltin**1/2: "There's style to burn in senseless horror thriller...Flashy, bizarre murders set to pounding rock soundtrack."

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Elle (2016)

A successful businesswoman gets caught up in a game of cat and mouse as she tracks down the unknown man who raped her.

On the surface a simple rape-revenge story is ingeniously turned into a complex and at times riddling study a woman dealing with the adversities of her life;  and Isabelle Huppert delivers an impeccable performance.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Audrey Hepburn

Empire of the Sun (1987)

A young English boy struggles to survive under Japanese occupation during World War II.

Grandiose epic of a child's coming-of-age amidst the horrors as war, both adventure and affecting drama, full of detail and made with cinematic expertise; and Christian Bale's performance is sensational.

Halliwell***: "Intelligent and thought-provoking movie about the loss of childhood innocence through the horrors of war. Bale, as the boy, gives an extraordinarily believable performance."

Maltin**: "Strawling, ambitious, but emotionally distant and loaded with cinematic crescendos (replete with crane camera shots and overbearing music by John Williams) that simply don't have the emotional content  to warrant all that fuss."