Thursday, 31 August 2017

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

New acquisition: Versailles - Season 2

Constance Bennett

The Host (2013)

When an unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories, a young woman will risk everything to protect the people she cares most about, proving that love can conquer all in a dangerous new world.

Despite a star cast and good production value this sci-fi drama risks a silly plot (two souls in one body - and their internal conversations!) and loses; an attempt to recreate Gattaca's atmosphere and quality, but rather appears like an artsy Red Dawn.

Maltin**: "...long, dreary adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's novel. Science fiction has rarely been so dull."

Lust for a Vampire (1971)

Aruitemo aruitemo (2008)

A family gathers together for a commemorative ritual whose nature only gradually becomes clear.

Subtle, but intense family drama magnificently explores the complex web of relationships and tensions within a family; very reminiscent of Yasujirô Ozu's works - and equal in quality.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Jean Aylwin

Shin Gojira (2016)

Japan is plunged into chaos upon the appearance of a giant monster.

Likeable resurgence of the original Godzilla monster successfully combines old-fashioned and modern digital effects, but is quite talkative and without much of a focus on a central cast.

Love (1927)

On the set: Greta Garbo and John Gilbert

The Giant Claw (1957)

Global panic ensues when it is revealed that a mysterious UFO is actually a giant bird that flies at supersonic speed and has no regard for life or architecture.

Pretty bad B-picture is watchable for its unbelievably makeshift monster bird, clunky performances and risible science.

Halliwell (no star): "Incompetent horror item: the bird is mostly talons and sound track."

Maltin*1/2: "Lack of decent special effects ruins the running battle between colossal bird and fighter jets. Big bird is laughable."

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Keira Knightley

Ssa-i-bo-geu-ji-man-gwen-chan-a (2006)

A girl who thinks she is a combat cyborg checks into a mental hospital, where she encounters other psychotics and, eventually, she falls for a man who thinks he can steal people's souls.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Blue Velvet (1986)

On the set: Isabella Rossellini

Gattaca (1997)

A genetically inferior man assumes the identity of a superior one in order to pursue his lifelong dream of space travel.
Atmospheric science fiction drama with excellent cast and settings draws a bleak picture of a genetically controlled future.
Halliwell (no star): "Glossy science fiction with a very soft centre under its hard surface."
Maltin**: "Bracingly intelligent, wittily ironic, and very well acted. Given the premise, however, the dull, conformist society depicted seems unconvincing." 

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Frankenstein (1931)

Thunderball (1965)

James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by SPECTRE agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.

The nonchalant and over-sexed super agent's 4th adventure is full of action and sparely clad dames, all nicely produced, but with only hints of a thorough plot.

Halliwell**: "Commercially the most successful Bond, but certainly not the best despite a plethora of action sequences."

Maltin**1/2: "Fourth James Bond film isn't as lively as the others. Plenty of gimmicks, and Oscar winning special effects...but film tends to bog down - especially underwater. Celi makes a formidable Bond villain."

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Nutty Professor (1963)

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.

Tongue-in-cheek homage to 50s Hollywood is especially convincing in its meticulous recreation of film scenes of diverse genres; in fact, the settings are all excellent, but the story with several subplots doesn't quite thrill, and the humour is sparse.

The Man from Planet X (1951)

Rushmore (1998)

A homely 10th-grade scholarship boy at Rushmore, a private school where he fails classes but constantly organizes clubs and plays, befriends a depressed local factory magnate and falls for a recently widowed teacher.

Nerdy and off-kilter, but likable comedy-drama; the plot is patchy, but it's all nicely staged and the performances of the motley cast are enjoyable as well.

Halliwell*: "Quirky comedy of adolescent ambition and adult resignation that has its moments, but loses its way long before the end."

Maltin***1/2: "A genuine original, full of keen observational humor and detail, with characters that always ring true. Remarkable debut by Schwartzman..., and a perfect showcase for Murray."

Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Quiet Man (1952)

On the set: John Ford, the cast & crew, and the local population

The Intruder (1962)

A man in a gleaming white suit comes to a small Southern town on the eve of integration, calls himself a social reformer, but what he does is stir up trouble--trouble he soon finds he can't control.

Quite effective low-budget anti-racism drama must have been audacious at its time; Shatner is very credible in the title role; one of Corman's best.

Halliwell*: "Cheaply-made social melodrama with many effective moments."

Maltin***: "Corman's only "message" film - and one of his few box-office flops - still packs a punch; low budget and location filming aid authenticity."

Psychotronic/Michael weldon: "A well-made, serious look at integration in the South..."

The Born Losers (1967)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

Visually pleasing and action-ridden installment in the X-Men series is unfortunately over-populated with mutants and stuffed with so many sub-plots that it's difficult to comprehend the individual intentions and rivalries.

Maltin***: "Provocative idea is overcome at times by visual bombast, but the ticking-clock structure works well. New mutants in the future segments don't get much to do;..Not quite a bull's-eye, but still highly watchable for devoted fans, who will also cheer a handful of cameos."

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Starcrash (1978)

New acquisition: Paterson (2016)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

On the set: Kim Hunter and Buck Kartalian

North West Frontier (1959)

In British India, a young prince must be taken to safety across rebel-held territory, and an old train is the only way to do it.

Imperialist gung-ho entertains as a Western-style train adventure with some good settings.

Halliwell**: "Thoroughly enjoyable Boys Own Paper adventure with excellent set-pieces and a sot-the-villain mystery."

Maltin***: "Fast-paced actioner..."