Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Jude Law

Emma (1996)

While matchmaking for friends and neighbors, a young 19th-century Englishwoman nearly misses her own chance at love.

Very competent made-for-TV adaptation of Jane Austen's novel needn't hide behind the cinema production from the same year.

Marion Benda

Death Train (1993)

A German Scientist has aided an ex Soviet general in constructing a nuclear weapon which is now in the possession of an American mercenary heading across Europe in a hijacked goods train.

Despite having a star cast this made-for-TV thriller with a far-fetched, nearly ridiculous story can't spark any tension.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Shutter (2004)

A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident, and they soon learn that you can not escape your past.

Nicely eerie variation of a ghost story, the atmosphere similarly gloomy as in the original Ring/Grudge series, and the emphasis is more on guilt than the mere supernatural.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

La dolce vita (1960)

On the set: Marcello Mastroianni, Anita Ekberg and Federici Fellini

The Face of an Angel (2014)

Both a journalist and a documentary filmmaker chase the story of a murder and its prime suspect.

Unabashedly pretentious exercise that takes a true crime case as an excuse to doodle about fact and fiction, the tagline sums it up perfectly: "Forget the truth, find the story"; the good cast does their best with their invidious roles, though.

Titanic (1997)

The Void (2016)

Shortly after delivering a patient to an understaffed hospital, a police officer experiences strange and violent occurrences seemingly linked to a group of mysterious hooded figures.

An over-the-top gorefest made by cineastes who know what they're going and do it well, and their love for the respective 80s classics is obvious; that the plot is incoherent and nonsensical, won't bother hardcore fans of the genre.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Jill St. John

M (1931)

When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

One of the few true masterpieces in cinema history, meticulously made in all departments, every single take in itself an expressionistic work of art; as a clairvoyant social (and political) melodrama it stills grips even today, and Peter Lorre's performance is arguably one of the greatest of all time.

Halliwell***: "An unmistakable classic whose oddities are hardly worth criticizing, this is part social melodrama and part satire, but entirely unforgettable, with most of its sequences brilliantly staged."

Maltin****: "Harrowing melodrama...Riveting and frighteningly contemporary; cinematically dazzling, especially for an early talkie. Lorre's performance is unforgettable."

Cleopatra Jones (1973)

New acquisition: The Face of an Angel (2014)

Hedy Lamarr

O.J.: Made in America (2016)

A chronicle of the rise and fall of O.J. Simpson, whose high-profile murder trial exposed the extent of American racial tensions, revealing a fractured and divided nation.

Grand-scale documentary doesn't bring up any new facts, but its enormous revelatory power is in putting it all together and into full context not only with its period, but with today's U.S.A. and its unresolved racial and social conflicts as well.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Prince of Wales Theatre, London

The Prince of Wales Theatre, Coventry Street, 1966

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

A rejected military soldier transforms into Captain America after taking a dose of a "Super-Soldier serum", but being Captain America comes at a price as he attempts to take down a war monger and a terrorist organization.

Fairly entertaining comic-book adaptation with some good period detail; thankfully, the original's unflattering patriotism is toned down, and the villain is not the Third Reich itself, but a renegade madman Über-Nazi.

Maltin**1/2: "First half of this period piece is good fun, but story loses its thrust and doesn't even provide an honest ending. Evans is quite good in the title role; visual effects turn him into a puny version of himself for the early scenes."

Poor Devil (1973)

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Following Kick-Ass' heroics, other citizens are inspired to become masked crusaders, but Red Mist leads his own group of evil supervillains to get revenge, kill Kick-Ass and destroy everything he stands for.

Lacklustre sequel comes along as a tired attempt (and miss) to revive the original's charm;  and there's a disagreeable, imbalanced mixture of humour and violence.

Maltin*1/2: "The purpose and momentum of the original film are gone, along with some of its most compelling characters. What's left is a vulgar, violent look at Hit Girl...and a lot of obnoxious posturing by egomaniacal villain Red Mist...Carrey is wasted as a newly introduced vigilante leader and Taylor-Johnson's role is reduced to meaninglessness. Comic-book moviemaking at its worst."

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Eleanor Holm

Mega Cyclone (2012)

Epic storms triggered by a space phenomenon obliterate cities, and the only answer to escaping complete annihilation rests on a small-town teen's extraordinary science project.

Below par TV doomsday flick; so bad, it isn't even risible; in fact, the "scientific" dialogues will make you weep.

Al Pacino

The Killers (1946)

Hit men kill an unresisting victim, and an investigator uncovers his past involvement with beautiful, deadly woman.

Film noir classic with extraordinary b/w photography and excellent performances, Ava Gardner, however, is not quite convincing as femme fatale; the plot is more an imagination about Ernest Hemingways story than an adaptation.

On renewed viewing: Hemingway's famous short story is merely the trigger for an intriguing, complex Noir crime story, arguably one of genre's best; both Lancaster as the 'innocent' cuckold and Gardner as the inscrutable femme fatale set standards with their performances.

Halliwell***: "Elaborate tale of cross and double-cross, stunningly executed."

Maltin****: "Compelling crime drama...Film provides fireworks, early success of Lancaster (in film debut) and Gardner."

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The Elephant Man (1980)

On the set: David Lynch and Anthony Hopkins

Fireflies in the Garden (2008)

A family is devastated by an accident that takes place on the day their matriarch is due to graduate from college -- decades after leaving to raise her children.

Well-made family drama with a large ensemble of characters demands some attention, before one can peice together the stories from different time periods; the cast is splendid, especially Dafoe as the horrifyingly tyrannical father.

Busby Berkeley

Berlin '36 (2009)

In the days leading up to the 1936 Olympics, the fate of high jumper Gretel Bergmann hangs in the balance as it is decided whether or not a Jewish athlete can be a part of the German Olympic team.

Stirring and agitating depiction of an episode exemplifying the Nazi regime's madness and cruelty; cast and period details are excellent.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Patricia Knight

The Beguiled (1971)

While imprisoned in a Confederate girls' boarding school, an injured Union soldier cons his way into each of the lonely women's hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him.

Unusual misanthropic psychodrama, effectively staged in a Southern period setting and with some good performances.

On renewed viewing: Despite the sexual tension and amiguities of the plot the movie is very straightforward in its approach.

Halliwell*: "Eccentric melodrama which does not really work despite its credentials and patient work all round."

Maltin***: "Offbeat, methodically paced story...Unusual Eastwood fare, but for patient viewers. a rich, rewarding film."

Roxy Theater, New York

Wiener-Dog (2016)

A dachshund passes from oddball owner to oddball owner, whose radically dysfunctional lives are all impacted by the pooch.

As to be expected from this director this episodic is downbeat, bleak and tinged with a dark humour, but more subdued, probably due to the shortness of each story; still, we get some great performances and enlightening moments, although the dog himself seems to be merely the unwilling observer of the events told.