Monday, 31 July 2017

Dracula (1931)

On the set: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, and Tod Browning

Divergent (2014)

In a post-apocalyptic closed-in Chicago divided by factions based on virtues, a young teenager learns she's Divergent and won't fit in.

Fairly well made sci-fi thriller for teens thrills only in parts and the paramilitary brouhaha is disturbing; Shailene Woodley does her job well, though, in the lead role.

Maltin**1/2: "Enfrossing-enough adaptation..., although these youth-empowerment stories set in a dystopian future, like THE HUNGER GAMES, are starting to blur."

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Agnès Varda & Martin Scorsese

Winchester '73 (1950)

The journey of a prized rifle from one ill-fated owner to another parallels a cowboy's search for a murderous fugitive.

Despite an episodic structure this expertly staged and cast Western tells a quite coherent tale that always holds your attention; Stewart is excellent as ever, and so is the cinematography.

Halliwell**: "Entertaining,popular, hard-riding, hard-shooting Western of the school."

Maltin***1/2: "Exceptional Western story...First-rate in every way, this landmark film was largely responsible for renewed popularity of Westerns in the 1950s."

Elizabeth Debicki

Persona (1966)

A nurse is put in charge of a mute actress and finds that their personas are melding together.

A seemingly reduced two-person drama electrifies as an intense study with an innovative cinematic style; a true masterpiece that obviously has heavily influenced the art of cinema ever since.

Halliwell***: "Intense clinical study presented in a very complex cinematic manner which tends to obscure the main theme while providing endless fascination for cineastes."

Maltin***1/2: "Haunting, poetic, for discerning viewers..."

Friday, 28 July 2017

Il fiore delle mille e una notte (1974)

On the set: Pier Paolo Pasolini

Fifty Dead Men Walking (2008)

A young lad from west Belfast in the late 1980s who is recruited by the British Police to spy on the IRA.

Fast-paced and well-made Northern Ireland thriller that does manage to avoid political bias, but is not so careful considering facts (the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998 and not in 2007 as mentioned in the epilogue).

Maltin**: "Taut, fact-based account...Both a well-made thriller and a character study of McGartland and the impact his informing has on his life."

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Lon Chaney Jr.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee uses its greater intelligence to lead other apes to freedom.

Fresh and new entry to the series, standard entertainment worth a view.

On renewed viewing: More enjoyable than I remember, has wonderful effects and makes you root for the apes.

Maltin**1/2: "Reinvention of the PLANET OF THE APES starts out so well it seems a shame it winds up like a cheesy monster movie of the 50s, with 21st-century visual effects. Everything we see seems absolutely real, including Caesar, played in performance-capture by Serkis. Screenplay is rife with references to the 1968 movie and its sequels."

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Kristen Stewart

New acquisition: Honogurai mizu no soko kara (2002)

Angie Dickinson

Ju-on (2002)

A mysterious and vengeful spirit marks and pursues anybody who dares enter the house in which it resides.

A succession of effectively set horror scenes without any main characters (except the ghosts) is not enough to make this a coherent cinematic experience.

Maltin***: "Not a story as such, but a series of eerie images, some quietly creepy, others outright terrifying, made in the same unnerving style as RINGU."

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Jacqueline Lovell

Noroi (2006)

A documentary filmmaker explores seemingly unrelated paranormal incidents connected by the legend of an ancient demon called the "kagutaba."
Unusual found-footage horror movie presents itself as documentary with divers sources, but artfully weaves together a coherent tale about a demonic supernatural entity; it does create an atmosphere of dread for those susceptible to its premise.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Olivia Munn

Half Light (2006)

A successful novelist moves to a small Scottish village to move on with her life after the death of her son, and strange things start to happen when she is haunted by ghosts and real life terror.

Slight mystery with a touch of the supernatural; not very original, but does offer some grand Welsh landscape photography.

Linda Darnell

A solider goes “weak at the knees” after Linda Darnell asks him to dance at the Hollywood Canteen, 1940s


The Boat That Rocked (2009)

A band of rogue DJs that captivated Britain, playing the music that defined a generation and standing up to a government that wanted classical music, and nothing else, on the airwaves.

Likeable dramedy with not much of a story, but with its lively, offbeat cast and the music does make it a feelgood watch.

Maltin**: "It's staffed by a colorful bunch of oddballs...Unfortunately, once the film sets its premise it goes nowhere. Good cast and a soundtrack full of oldies can only help so much."

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Godfather (1972)

On the set: Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola

The Babadook (2014)

A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her.

What at first appears to be a conventional horror thriller with a ghost slyly turns our expectations in different directions and surprises with an unusual ending.

The Deer Hunter (1978)

On the set: Christopher Walken, Robert De Niro, Chuck Aspegren, John Savage and John Cazale

Adieu l'ami (1968)

After an overseas deployment, two former French Foreign Legion members plan to break into the vault of a French corporation.
Unusual French thriller contains some scenes of surrealist quality; however, the misogynist tenor of the plot is quite disagreeable.
Maltin**: "Ordinary and overlong." 

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.