Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Audrey Tautou

Sushi Girl (2012)

Upon his release from prison, a criminal is brought to an abandoned restaurant by his old associate to celebrate his newfound freedom, but there's unfinished business to be resolved.

Although this is an all around well-made (but gory) closed-room thriller, it is from front to back a Tarantino clone that (as so often with these attempts) misses out completely on the original's humour.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Modesty Blaise (1966)

(ph: Norman Hargood)

Amour (2012)

An octogenarian couple are cultivated, retired music teachers, but one day, the wife has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.

Intensely realistic, detailed  and gripping study of a relationship confronted with aging and physical deterioration; the lead performances are meticulous and for them alone worth the watch; arguably, one of the director's best achievements.

Maltin***1/2: "With that simple storyline, writer-director Haneke crafts a double portrait with depth, restraint, and deep emotion, not to mention superb acting. Unsentimental, as one would expect from the filmmaker, and difficult to watch for anyone who has lived through this experience."

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Hi, Mom! (1970)

Apollo 13 (1995)

NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy.

Top-notch production (and special effects) and cast guarantee for an entertaining, but not quite original or surprising space adventure.

Halliwell**: "A gripping documentary-style recreation of an averted tragedy, excellently done but one that is an uncritical celebration of the American way and which makes no attempt to put the mission into a wider historical context; it settles for simple patriotism."

Maltin***1/2: "Exhilarating story...A rare instance where special effects actually serve the story and help make it completely credible; perfect 1970s period detail is another asset."

Lee Remick

Texas - Doc Snyder hält die Welt in Atem (1993)

Infamous bandit Doc Snyder returns to his hometown Texas after 30 years to get his other to wash his dirty laundry.

The comedian and musician Helge Schneider has his cult following in Germany, and his absurd and anarchaic humour has a limited appeal; but in his first movie, a Western of some kind, it rarely translates to the screen, and the overabundance of scatological jokes doesn't help (tellingly, the movie's tagline translates to "For a fistful of shit") nor does Schneider's babytalk performance.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Viva Maria! (1965)

The Family (2013)

The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.

Mildly entertaining, but lacklustre Mafia gangster movie spoof; it's not the casts' fault, which is accurate for the occasion; however, the movie only works in bits and not as a whole.

Maltin**1/2: "Farcical situation is well played..., but the lazy and leaves a lot to be desired. Watchable enough because of that cast but gets awfully "cute" when it makes winking references to a famous American mob movie."

Kerry Washington

New acquisition: Birth (2004)

Edgar Bergen

Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)

The unwilling host to an alien bio-armor known as the Guyver is trying to find why the Guyver unit forces him to fight and kill evil.

Maybe enjoyable as camp considering the x-double minus performances, the silly, almost cute monster costumes and the fact that the existence of our galaxy is being rescued from someone's backyard.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Lexi Atkins

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

A research team is sent to the Jurassic Park Site B island to study the dinosaurs there while another team approaches with another agenda.

Great special effects and some humour make this sequel entertaining, but basically this is an old-fashioned monster movie.

Halliwell*: "The special effects are to be wondered at, as is the fact that the script is cloned from the oldest and most familiar elements of monster movies; this is a dinosaur about dinosaurs."

Maltin**1/2: "Completely contrived sequel to JURASSIC PARK benefits from Goldblum's deprecating dialogue and superior special effects. Enough cliffhanger-style action scenes to make up for the lulls."

Marion Bell

Ich seh ich seh (2014)

Twin boys move to a new home with their mother after she has face changing cosmetic surgery, but under her bandages is someone the children don't recognize.

Unusual Austrian shocker successfully creates an atmosphere of isolation and dread, but has some truly nasty scenes and a puzzling ending.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Judy Bamber

Antichrist (2009)

A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage, but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.

Ambiguous black fairy tale, basically a two person drama congenially set and photographed in a dark forest; some scenes may not be suitable for the squeamish.

Maltin**: "Intense, gorgeously designed drama becomes increasingly gruesome, with some scenes so brutally graphic they're nearly impossible to watch. This isn't SAW-type torture porn; it's grimly serious, but also very difficult to decipher, with touches of fantasy thrown in. To say it's not for all tastes is an understatement, but those interested in writer-director von Trier may well find something to their liking."

Scarlett Johansson

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up, but Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.

Half character study, half Bad Seed horror movie, the tale is slowly revealed through a complex patchwork of flashbacks and offers an intense performance by Tilda Swinton.

Maltin**: "Swinton delivers a deeply felt performance...Miller is chilling as the adolescent boy. Knowing where the story is headed makes watching this flashback-laden  film a torturous experience, though it was highly praised by many critics and moviegoers."

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Imitation Game (2014)

Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

A filmmaker decides to memorialize a murdered friend when his friend's ex-girlfriend announces she is expecting his son.

Mesmerizing and heart-wrenching documentary is fast-paced and overabundant with details and is remarkable, as events occurring during the making of the film turn its intentions completely around.

Maltin***1/2: "Riveting, emotionally charged documentary...illustrates how real life often is stranger than fiction."

Lauren Bacall

Tootsie (1982)

An unsuccessful actor, disguises himself as a woman in order to get a role on a trashy hospital soap.

Highly entertaining gender comedy with a great cast (Dustin Hoffman in the title role is spectacular), intelligent direction and an excellent script.

Halliwell****: "As with Genevieve and Whisky Galore, an unlikely comedy subject makes an instant classic. It's all in the handling."

Maltin****: "Smashing comedy...Farcical premise becomes totally credible thanks to razor-sharp script..., fine direction, and superlative performances all around..."

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Tilly Losch

Prometheus (2012)

A team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe.

All the ingredients are there, and certainly this has been made by an intelligent craftsman and a great cast, but the plot doesn't add this all up and has too many open ends.

On renewed viewing: I still agree with my first assessment: the script is muddled, but the movie does deliver some of the goods.

Maltin ***: "Companion piece to Scott's ALIEN offers echos of that film in both good and not-so-good ways: it's thoughtful and intelligent, with two strong female characters, and masterfully crafted, but gives way to icky, gross-out moments...right up to the end. Fassbender is a standout as a sly, watchful robot who's one step ahead of everyone else."

Joanna Shimkus

New acquisition: Skammen (1968)

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Jack Benny

Spaceballs (1987)

Planet Spaceballs' President Skroob sends Lord Dark Helmet to steal planet Druidia's abundant supply of air to replenish their own, and only Lone Starr can stop them.

Hit-and-miss sci-fi spoof is for the most time simply silly, the more successful sequences are the ones directly parodying popular sci-fi movie scenes.

Halliwell (no star): "Flabby spoof of Star Wars, without any funny ideas."

Maltin**1/2: "Likably silly parody of STAR WARS (years after the fact) is basically a collection of jokes, both verbal and visual. Enough of them are funny to make for pleasant, if not hilarious, fun. Surprisingly innocuous for Brooks and Co..."