Track the Films You Watch (2007)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Michael Elliott, Dec 26, 2006.

  1. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Well, you say you've read my review, so then you already know my thoughts on this uremarkable movie. Upon thinking about it, I would say that REAR WINDOW is far superior to DISTURBIA.
     
  2. PatW

    PatW Screenwriter

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    Caveman's Valentine (2001) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Samuel L. Jackson put in a great performance of a musical genius suffering from mental illness in this otherwise bland movie. It's his movie to win or lose and he's outstanding here.
     
  3. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    That's why I was asking because you gave a higher rating to DISTURBIA.
     
  4. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Strike that, you gave them both [​IMG][​IMG] This watching the kids stuff is driving me nuts. [​IMG]
     
  5. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    No -- you're probably referring back to when I dropped my half-stars and tried to rate differently. REAR WINDOW is better than "average" to me.
     
  6. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Yes, I didn't consider the system you were on then.

    The point I was making is, if I remember correctly and please tell me if I'm wrong, that you didn't care for the "talk" at the start of REAR and you felt it took up too much time getting to the ending. When I read your review of DISTURBIA, you didn't care for the teen/drama stuff at the start of the picture but your review didn't go any further. I remember you not caring for REAR so that's why I asked since DISTURBIA pretty much followed every build up as the original film.
     
  7. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    It's been a while since I've seen the Hitchcock movie. All I can remember is that there wasn't much going on with Stewart and the novelty of his being able to watch everyone in their apartments got to be rather routine until the finish. But it was still directed way more interestingly than DISTURBIA was, and my problem with the first half of DISTURBIA was that it was a silly teen comedy, and not even like a mystery. I felt like I was watching FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH.

    Although there are some key similarities to REAR WINDOW, I don't at all call it a "remake" in the true sense of that description.
     
  8. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Yes, I'm not sure if you read my review of REAR but I said a lot of people were "bored" (for lack of a better word) by all the talk, character study and so on but I felt it made for a better, more suspenseful ending. I read the reviews at the other place and they all had the same problem with this film in that the murder/mystery doesn't really start until the final half hour. Some felt ripped off by this but I felt it worked the same way it did for REAR. DISTURBIA had all kinds of touches to REAR from the dog digging in the garden, to the set up and even a line of dialogue here and there.

    It's funny but the girlfriend rented that Bullock film you just watched while I got this one. Your review kept me away from watching that one with her. [​IMG]
     
  9. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I generally thrive on character development in my films.
    But that's all I've got to say about REAR WINDOW until I see it again, and I have nothing else to say regarding the mediocre DISTURBIA; that film has already received more attention from me right here than it deserves.
     
  10. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Oh, I agree there. [​IMG] $10 is way too much for the film but a free Redbox/Netflix is good for comparisons.
     
  11. Mario Gauci

    Mario Gauci Cinematographer

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    07/01/07: THE EQUINOX…A JOURNEY INTO THE SUPERNATURAL (Dennis Muren and Marc McGee, 1967) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    07/02/07: EQUINOX (Jack Woods, 1970) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    When this was first announced as a Criterion release, I was only vaguely familiar with it; I purchased the 2-Disc Set recently (as it was on sale) without really knowing what to expect; the result is certainly interesting – especially having two versions of the film to compare…even if it doesn’t quite belong in the “Collection”.

    Originally made in 1967, THE EQUINOX…A JOURNEY INTO THE SUPERNATURAL is basically a 70-minute home movie – amateurish if clearly made by fanatics of the horror genre, talented enough to create their own monsters (which aren’t too bad into the bargain)! When the film was eventually picked up for release by Jack H. Harris, he ordered several reshoots, changed the order of scenes around, tightened some others, replaced a lot of the dialogue, etc. – this didn’t necessarily make for a better film (in fact, I think that the original is still the superior effort) but, at least, it now felt like a proper movie!

    What the theatrical version did, primarily and ultimately to its detriment, was to eliminate a lot of the surprise which the original held – for instance, the figure of the demon towering over the hero at the very start of the 1967 version is missing from the theatrical-release print; similarly, we’re shown the driverless car which mows him down prior to the accident. Also, the revelation that the demon is taking possession of the characters (having already established that this is what caused the Professor and the hero’s blind date to go crazy momentarily in the re-edited version) takes away from the scene in which his best friend is likewise ‘afflicted’; and, again, the impact of the twist ending is lessened when we already know that Susan is capable of evil.

    The teenage leads are likable enough to overcome their essential inexperience; popular horror writer Fritz Leiber appears as the obsessive Professor who unwittingly unleashes the Forces of Darkness in the wilderness; in the 1967 version, we also get to hear the voice of horror/sci-fi authority Forrest J. Ackerman (who, then, appears on the DVD for a special introduction). The one major addition to the cast list for the 1970 version is, ironically, the character played by the re-shoots director himself – a creepy-looking Ranger with the equally strange name of Asmodeus (as it turns out, one of the devil’s various monikers!). While he was, perhaps, intended to beef up the picture’s scare factor (even attempting to rape the two girls), it’s really a pointless role and basically represents a distraction from the central narrative (which deals naively with the eternal struggle between Good and Evil, as shown in an ancient tome kept by a crazy old man living inside a cave – and which involves much religious symbolism and an invisible barrier leading into the netherworld)!

    Finally, we get to the special effects: they’re very primitively done and a couple of the creatures (the squid and the giant native) aren’t very effective but the ape-like monster and the demon are quite marvelously designed and one isn’t overly bothered by the essential lack of refinement in the stop-motion animation involved. Unfortunately, the print utilized for the transfer of the 1967 version is very poor – with a number of shots being several generations removed from the already substandard master and lip-synch problems during a fair chunk of the duration (attributable certainly to its rarity, but which also adds to the inherent charm of its rough-and-ready quality)!


    07/08/07: THE LAST OF SHEILA (Herbert Ross, 1973) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I had always been intrigued by this all-star whodunit with a Hollywood background and a script written by two celebrities (musician Stephen Sondheim and actor Anthony Perkins) who happened to be puzzle aficionados in real life. However, over the years, I kept missing out on Italian TV broadcasts of the film because I wanted to catch it in the original language – and, now, I did!

    While I have to say that I wasn’t that much taken with it at first – due to its unavoidably chic 70s look – once the mind games and the murders began, it became a lot of fun…with multiple plot twists that kept one guessing till the very end! Unfortunately, the audio on the Warners DVD was a bit too low for my tastes – since this is definitely a film where attention must be paid at all times, otherwise a pivotal clue might be missed (in fact, I’m sure a second viewing would lend greater appreciation of the various plot nuances – which come thick and fast, particularly in the denouement). Like I said, the mystery is quite convoluted yet incredibly clever – as the games soon turn deadly, and the yacht’s list of passengers starts getting smaller…

    Anyway, this is basically “And Then There Were None” set on a boat: a group of people (all of them involved in the movie business) are assembled together, ostensibly, for a week of fun in the sun – however, each has something to hide about his or her past, and they’re all somehow under suspicion of being behind the hit-and-run accident which killed the wife of their host (James Coburn)! All the actors are well cast but the best of them, to my mind, are James Mason (who brings his customary wit to the proceedings as a film director), Richard Benjamin (as a frustrated scriptwriter who purports to adopt his creative talents towards solving the mystery) and, from the ladies’ corner, Dyan Cannon. For the record, the rest of the victims…er…cast is made up of Raquel Welch, Ian McShane and Joan Hackett, while Yvonne Romain features very briefly as the titular character.


    07/15/07: JUST BEFORE DAWN (Jeff Lieberman, 1981) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I’d been postponing purchasing this one ever since its DVD release – for one thing, because I’d been somewhat underwhelmed by this director’s two other horror titles (SQUIRM [1976] and BLUE SUNSHINE [1977]), but also the fact that the film itself is said to have been slightly trimmed for gore on the Media Blasters/Shriek Show 2-Disc Set! I now chanced upon it as a rental and am glad I did – because, not only is it superior to the earlier efforts (at least, on this preliminary assessment), but I also found the film to be one of the better imitations of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974). This factor, however, only helped remind me that I’ve yet to check out another such example – Wes Craven’s classic THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1977), whose 2-Disc R1 edition from Anchor Bay I purchased some time ago but, after all, Halloween-time is fast approaching…

    Anyway, the film manages an effortlessly unsettling backwoods atmosphere (it was shot in the forest and mountain regions of Oregon) – with plenty of effective frissons throughout but, thankfully, not too much violence (even if the last of the villains is dispatched in quite an outrageous fashion!). The principal young cast here (one of them played by Jack Lemmon’s son, Chris) isn’t quite as obnoxious as those we usually encounter in this type of genre offering – despite freely indulging in the shenanigans one associates with teen-oriented flicks and which, by and large, persist to this day! George Kennedy appears as a sympathetic Ranger; though he doesn’t have a lot to do, his characterization is decidedly enhanced by making him a lover of plant and animal life. Also notable among the locals is familiar character actor Mike Kellin in a nice role as the drunkard who first comes into contact with the murderous duo of the narrative – his warning to the teenagers, naturally, goes unheeded but he’s later able to lead Kennedy to them.

    The hermetic family the teens come across in the woods, then, is eventually revealed to be hiding a skeleton in their closet. While one of the girls displays genuine curiosity at the intruders’ presence, the rest are openly hostile to them – and, in the case of the burly and uncouth twins, appropriately creepy (one of them is even prone to maniacal laughter during his rampages); at a certain point in the narrative, the Ranger even offers an interesting explanation as to the nature of their aggressive and generally uncivilized behavior.


    08/05/07: FOUR DIMENSIONS OF GRETA (Pete Walker, 1972) [​IMG][​IMG]

    I decided to check out this British sexploitationer due to its director, who would soon forego this type of film entirely for a series of equally commercial horror efforts (which effectively broadened his range and, clearly, served his particular talents a good deal better!).

    This one adds the gimmick of 3-D to the erotic formula: since I rented this, the 3-D glasses which were supplied with the DVD weren’t made available to me – however, I did own a pair of such glasses (which came with New Line’s HAROLD LLOYD COLLECTION of all things!)…but, still, the 3-D effect wasn’t especially effective. Worse, even when watched without glasses, these sequences were given an unpleasant green/red hue which, coupled with the impossibly fuzzy images, would completely negate the intended effect!

    Anyway, the plot is nothing to write home about – a young German journalist searches for a missing female compatriot amid Swinging London settings, willing au pair girls and a gang of would-be tough guys. The fact that the ‘puzzle’ is pieced together via four flashback sequences told by a variety of people (and which comprise the 3-D footage) doesn’t make it any more engaging – though some of the girls do look good in and out of clothes, while the soundtrack features a Huckleberry Fynn(!!) singing the title tune.

    If one wasn’t aware that Walker had made this thing, he’d be hard-pressed to see any connection between it and his work in the horror genre; even the director’s least such efforts that I’ve watched (DIE SCREAMING MARIANNE [1971] and THE COMEBACK [1978]) are far better. Besides, for all their low-brow nature, the contemporaneous Italian films made in this vein (which I remember were constant TV fodder during my childhood and which are still regularly revived late at night) display a lot more vitality than this static, quasi-amateurish and extremely boring outing.


    08/07/07: TOM, DICK AND HARRY (Garson Kanin, 1941) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Ginger Rogers is delightful in one of her top films following the split from musical partner Fred Astaire. I still need to catch a few more of the star’s vintage vehicles – BACHELOR MOTHER (1939; also helmed by Kanin), her Oscar-winning turn in KITTY FOYLE (1940) and ROXIE HART (1942); thankfully, the latter two are available on DVD.

    The male leads here are somewhat undercast – though Burgess Meredith is fine (the others are played by George Murphy and Alan Marshal), and there’s a brief but nice role for Phil Silvers as an “exuberant” ice-cream vendor. It was relaxing to watch this type of unassuming entertainment right after having sat through such demanding fare as Ingmar Bergman’s WILD STRAWBERRIES (1957): that said, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this featured its own surreal (if basically comical) dream sequences!

    The film’s engaging premise – a girl has to choose between three suitors of contrasting temperament and social standing – isn’t particularly original (three year later, Ginger Rogers herself would again be faced with the same task in the stylish musical comedy, LADY IN THE DARK)…but Kanin’s bright treatment and Paul Jarrico’s Oscar-nominated script (deftly mixing mild screwball sophistication with the traditionally homespun qualities of small-town life) make it great fun, even if the version I saw was dubbed in Italian. Perhaps the funniest gag is the casual newspaper announcement of Adolf Hitler’s assassination (despite this film having been released prior to America's involvement in World War II) but, equally inspired, is the amusingly fanciful way by which Rogers’ character is able to solve her boyfriend dilemma. For the record, the film was later musicalized as THE GIRL MOST LIKELY (1957) but, even if it was done under the guidance of a talented director like Mitchell Leisen, the cast was pitifully lackluster!
     
  12. Pete York

    Pete York Supporting Actor

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    The Outlaw (1943) Dir: Howard Hughes

    Howard Hughes’ notorious western is truly awful. Total, radioactive dreck. Among the many crimes committed by this film, perhaps the biggest is making two of the great actors in the history of Hollywood, Walter Huston and Thomas Mitchell, look like complete buffoons. To borrow a phrase, I hated, hated, hated this movie. The actor playing Billy the Kid, Jack Beutel, turned in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen in a big, studio-era ‘A’ picture. To call him wooden would be insulting to 2x4’s. Then there’s the cheesy exploitation of a teenage Jane Russell, which along with some lame ‘taboo’ subtext (homosexuality, bondage), I guess is reason enough for some people to appreciate this as camp. But camp can be bad too, and this stinks on ice. If you want good camp, watch Duel in the Sun. To add insult to grievous injury, this one got worse the further along it went. The last half hour or so felt like a bad Ed Wood movie. A bad one!

    While I hate to go on at this point, I would be remiss in not mentioning the insulting and inappropriate score (with slapstick muted trumpet ‘wah, wah’ cues that would have been more at home in a Looney Tunes short). The proverbial cherry on top of this turd sundae.

    This one’s a solid bomb but I give it a star for the brave work of cinematographer Gregg Toland, who probably thought he was going off to do a western with Howard Hawks and these great actors but ended up with this…mess. If you’re not interested in the photography of a film, there is nothing to see here.

    [​IMG] out of 4
     
  13. PatW

    PatW Screenwriter

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    The Perfect Storm (2000) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    A dramatized movie based on a true story of the last voyage of the Andrea Gale a swordfish boat captained by Billy Tyne played by George Clooney. All the acting is adequate but the real star here is the special effects which are truly awesome at times.
     
  14. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Two for the Seesaw

    This was no doubt viewed as a very serious adult film when it came out. And for 1963, it was pushing the envelope in discussing certain issues frankly, but now it just seems horribly dated. The film is clearly copying both the cinematography and music of The Apartment, and it's no surprise that it got Oscar nominations in those two categories.

    TCM has mislabeled films before, but their classification of this as a comedy is about as far off as they've ever been. It would be more accurate to classify The Wizard of Oz as a horror film.
     
  15. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Follow That Dream (1962) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Modest black comedy with Elvis Presley playing a gullible but likable sort of fellow who is driving through Florida with his old dad and three orphaned siblings when the family car runs out of gas and they become stranded along a public strip of land. Here, the hapless group decides to set up house as "homesteaders" and refuse to move off the spot, which leads to a series of semi-humorous events including neighboring gangsters and a court hearing to have Elvis and his family removed from their nest. This is certainly one very odd situation for a movie, but the real highlight in spite of it all is Presley's spirited performance where he scores another of those promising moments in proving that he could have been a pretty good actor if he had only been given more chances. I've always felt that he had a flair for comedy too, and he plays it beautifully here. His characterization of a naive and dimwitted soul who's short on brain power but strong in heart is completely believable, and we forget we're watching Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll. As always, new songs were to be commissioned for every Elvis picture, and the tunes in FOLLOW THAT DREAM aren't much to rave about with the exception of the pleasant title track.


    Kid Galahad [​IMG][​IMG] (1962)

    Pretty ordinary Elvis vehicle patterned after the 1937 film of the same name. Presley is a drifter just out of the army who takes on a job as a sparring partner working for a gambling louse (Gig Young). Naturally, Elvis becomes a boxing champ when he knocks out his partner and Young spots a chance to settle some outstanding debts by highlighting him as the new champ. Charles Bronson (did this man ever look young?) is on hand as the trainer who's loyal to Elvis. Of course, the King sings too - but there were no outstanding songs for me this time around. Looking forward to seeing the "real" version of GALAHAD with three of my favorite stars -- Edward G. Robinson, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart.
     
  16. Pete York

    Pete York Supporting Actor

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    Wonder Bar (1934) Dir: Lloyd Bacon

    The various fates of a large cast of characters come together, Grand Hotel style, one night in Paris at Al Wonder’s (Al Jolson) Wonder Bar. Directed by Lloyd Bacon with musical numbers by Busby Berkeley, Wonder Bar hardly breaks any new ground and there are many familiar faces, albeit in small supporting roles. Dick Powell plays the bandleader. Guy Kibbee (always great) and Hugh Herbert (usually not) play henpecked husbands who cope by being in a constant state of inebriation. Ricardo Cortez and Dolores Del Rio play Harry and Ynez, the exotic, headlining dance team (he’s a lech, she’s tortured over her unrequited love of him). And Kay Francis, not looking her best, rounds out the headliners as the bored wife of a big shot banker. She’s also pursuing the Cortez character.

    There’s some pre-code naughtiness (adultery, gay jokes, gigolos and “hostesses” in action), which can be amusing to see. The most outlandish thing is a murder and Al’s rather shameless, but ingenious, disposing of the body (he stows it away in the backseat of a car belonging to a man Al knows is planning to commit suicide later that night by driving off a cliff!!). We leave the murderer at the end of the film living scot free, happily ever after!
    Didn’t see that one coming!

    Jolson isn’t the most natural actor, but he’s an exuberant performer, you’ve got to give him that. You do get a chance to see a glimpse of his legendary stage presence and what made him “the world’s greatest entertainer”. Unfortunately when he’s not in a number, he’s doing shtick that likely killed on the vaudeville circuit but was presumably a little ragged by 1934.

    The main draw in any picture that Berkeley worked on is, of course, the musical numbers. There are two big set pieces here, both of interest, but in different ways. The first one, “Don’t Say Good-night”, is rather conventional Berkeley, which means its great fun to watch. There are the typical overhead shots of masses of kaleidoscoping dancers, undulating back and forth, with the concentric circles, the ribbons, and the outsized spectacular sets and props. The second number, “Goin’ to Heaven on a Mule”, has to be seen to be believed. It features Jolson, and the whole number as well, in blackface which some may find problematic. While clearly an offensive image today, I’m not inclined to pass judgment on something as racist with 70 years of hindsight. Insensitive, yes, but ‘racist’ implies malice, which was obviously not the motivation, whether the number was performed by Jolson, Fred Astaire or Mickey and Judy. Context makes all the difference. Anyway, the strength of this number is its narrative and truly stunning visuals. There is a point here, where Jolson’s character dies and ascends to heaven, that’s almost spiritual. It is a transcendent moment, the best thing in the film. But it remains a challenge to reconcile why in this particular number there is a club in this ‘heaven’ named Watermelon Palace or why there are dancers with giant watermelon slices at the end. To say that performing in blackface was a convention of the time is one thing, but to bring out the chicken and watermelon stereotype, as done here, is a little stickier a situation, to say the least. See it for yourself.

    The Warren and Dubin music is largely forgettable, although the title song isn’t bad and neither is “Goin’ to Heaven on a Mule”. All in all a minor entry in this cycle of films, but certainly of interest to the historian or musical fan.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] out of 4
     
  17. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    The Wizard of Oz

    Revisiting the classics, it's why I'm a film buff. Enjoyable as always.
     
  18. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    08/08/07

    One Man's Journey (1933) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Standard drama from RKO about a country doctor (Lionel Barrymore) who could have had anything in life but he gave it all up to help others. This is the same role that Barrymore played in D.W. Griffith's The Country Doctor and he pretty much nails it. I guess there could be debate on whether John or Lionel were better actors but I think I'd give my vote to Lionel for being able to be more calm and deliver performances that aren't just over the top. He's very caring and stern here and the strong supporting cast including May Robson, Dorothy Jordan, Joel McCrea and Frances Dee do fine work as well. The one problem is that it's all very familiar and there aren't any surprises along the way.

    Trapped by Boston Blackie (1948) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Thirteenth film in the Columbia series has Boston (Chester Morris) and the Runt (George E. Stone) accused of stealing some jewels so they must try and clear themselves as well as save another innocent woman. This film starts off pretty slow and routine but once Morris gets going the film takes off, although it's still not one of the better films of the series. Richard Lane is back as the dimwitted Farraday and he and Morris mix it up like old time. The highlight is a scene where the Runt has to dress in drag to get by some police waiting for him at a hotel.

    Disturbia (2007) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    An updated version of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window has a troubled teen (Shia LaBeouf) put on house arrest and with nothing else to do he starts watching his neighbors when he think he sees one (David Morse) kill a woman. I don't think there's anyway to deny that this film was largely influenced by the Hitchcock movie and that includes the movies overall structure. As with the original movie, the director here takes his time building up to the suspense. The murder doesn't happen until the halfway point and the suspense really doesn't start until the final twenty minutes. The first part of the movie lets us get to know the characters and while it does go on a tad bit too long it pays off in the end. The character stuff also tends to be on the dumb teenager side but once the suspense gets going the film is a home run. LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer are good in their roles but it's Morse who really steals the film. I've always felt he was one of the most underrated and underseen character actors out there so it was nice that this film was a hit and allowed people to see him.

    'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945) [​IMG][​IMG]

    Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger film has a middle-class woman (Wendy Hiller) marrying for money and not love but when she gets stuck in a small village she starts to rethink her choices in life. Ho-hum. I'm rather shocked to see how highly respected this film is because I see it as pure hogwash from start to finish. On a technical level the film is quite beautiful with some terrific cinematography but we've seen this story before in countless films. The performances are all good but the story is just too cute for its own good.

    Alibi Ike (1935) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Third in Joe E. Brown's trilogy of baseball films has him playing Frank X. Farrell who gets the nickname of Alibi Ike because he comes up with an alibi no matter what's thrown his way. He joins the Chicago Cubs and becomes a wiz hitter and pitcher but a woman (Olivia de Havilland) falls in love with him and tries to change his ways. I really wasn't expecting too much out of this film but was pleasantly surprised at how many laughs Brown gives off. I'm sure many will find him annoying but the jokes were written very well and Brown carries them without a hitch. de Havilland is nice as the love interest and the supporting cast is nice as well. The highlight is when Brown tells his fielders to sit down behind the pitcher's mound so they can watch him strikeout the side. Many real-life baseball players can be seen on various teams and even Jim Thorpe can be spotted.

    Double Danger (1938) [​IMG]

    Lew Landers (The Raven) directed this mystery about a group of people invited to a police captain's house so that they can lay a trap for a thief. This film runs 61-minutes and I could have sworn it was going on longer than Roots. There's really not a life of energy in this film, which took me by surprise since Landers is usually able to bring something to these low-budget films. Preston Foster, Whitney Bourne, Samuel S. Hinds, Donald Meek and Cecil Kellaway star.

    Man in the Barn, The (1937) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Jacques Tourneur directed this MGM short that takes a look at whether John Wilkes Booth was killed in 1865 or if he lived until 1903. This documentary covers both sides as to when Booth was killed but what really sets this short apart is some terrific atmosphere, a great mood and some terrific camerawork. The story is also very interesting, although who knows where the truth lies.

    08/09/07

    Mississippi Burning (1988) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Alan Parker's film about two FBI agents (Gene Hackman, Willem Dafoe) who travel to Mississippi to try and see what happened to three missing Civil Rights workers. I'm really not sure how to rate this film because on one hand it's an incredibly entertaining police drama that gets your blood boiling at the opening shot and it just gets hotter and hotter as the film moves along. I was having a great time watching this film and then something entered my mind that made me rather nervous. Should I be enjoying a film with this subject matter?

    I'm really not sure if the film is proper entertainment because even though it's based on a true story the director made no secret that events were changed up for entertainment value. The images in this film are rather harrowing and at times incredibly hard to watch but the viewer, or at least I wanted to see the racist killed. In that sense this entertainment is more like a Death Wish film when I'm not sure if should be. The images of blacks being beaten, raped and hung got me angry and my blood boiling but was it because of great filmmaking or because seeing these images would make any human angry? I'm really not sure how great the storytelling was but again, on one hand, it kept me entertained all the way through.

    What does work are the performances by the rather amazing cast. Dafoe has always been an underrated actor and his calm approach in the film is perfectly done and Frances McDormand comes off very good as well. Brad Dourif, R. Lee Ermey, Gailard Sartain, Michael Rooker and Pruitt Taylor Vince play just some of the racist and all of them are bone chilling in their performances. The group of men, on an entertainment level, make for some great movie villains. The real standout here is Hackman who delivers another brilliant performance and really has the toughest job in the film. At one point of the film he's laughing about the racist subject matter and even telling joke but in a blink of an eye Hackman changes his character to show the anger than any human would. The way Hackman juggles his character through so many emotions is a real treat to watch and in my opinion this is one of the best performances from the actor.

    Once again, I'm torn on the entertainment value a film like this should deliver but after thinking about it for a while I guess this is a perfect film. From what I've read, a lot of controversy surrounded this film as many people felt too many facts were changed to make the FBI look good or whatever. As I write this I'm just going to say that it might be entertainment but it doesn't coward away from showing the horrors of the South at the time.

    Private Resort (1985) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Incredibly stupid but funny teenage sex romp has two teens (Rob Morrow, Johnny Depp) staying at a rich Florida resort where there's plenty of beautiful women to try and get in bed. Also on hand is a jewel thief (Hector Elizondo), a muscle bound ladies man (Andrew Dice Clay) and various other nuts. If you want high level comedy of Billy Wilder then you best stay away from this film but if you want juvenile humor mixed in with beautiful women getting naked then this film is just for you. This is clearly a rip of Porky's and all the comedy is incredibly dumb but it's still funny. Elizondo steals the show as the wannabe Mafia guy but Morrow and Depp are also fun to watch. Leslie Easterbrook from the Police Academy[/b films also stars (and yes, she's naked).

    Breakfast for Two (1937) [​IMG][​IMG]

    A tough as nails Texas woman (Barbara Stanwyck) tries to break a playboy (Herbert Marshall) from some of his bad habits. This screwball comedy didn't really work for me mainly because I didn't feel anything between the two main characters. Eric Blore steals the show as the butler and the highlight happens at the start of the film when he goes into the bathroom to drop off some towels and notices it's not his boss in the shower but Stanwyck. There's also a talking dog on hand, which is somewhat more eerie than funny. There's also a subplot dealing with Marshall marrying a woman but I'm pretty sure you know how this romantic comedy will end.

    Lady of Chance, A (1928) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    MGM silent film about a con artist known as "Angel Face" (Norma Shearer) who lures rich, married men to her apartment so that she can blackmail them. After a con goes wrong she flees from the police and meets her next target (Johnny Mack Brown) but after marrying him she lears that he's actually poor, which doesn't sit well with her partners who want cash. This is a pretty typical story of a bad girl falling in love and then trying to go straight. What sets the film apart is the performance from Shearer who is very good as both the good girl and the vamp. There are several pre-code elements ranging from her lifting her skirt up to show off her legs to some other heated moments, which makes the film somewhat better. The biggest flaw is that we've seen this type of film countless times even before this one was released.

    Exit Smiling (1926) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Strange but charming MGM silent about a traveling theatre group with a young woman named Violet (Beatrice Lillie) who dreams of becoming an actor playing vamps. However, she's at the bottom of the pole in the group and doesn't get to act but instead cook food and clean boots. When a wanted man (Jack Pickford) joins the group, he a Violet become friends but his past is about to catch up with him. This film is interesting in many ways and was recently show by TCM as part of their "Gay Images in Hollywood" series. What makes the film really interesting is that MGM didn't use any of their big stars in it. Instead they went with Lillie, in her film debut, and she certainly delivers the goods as the woman whose dreams are a lot bigger than reality. She's isn't a beautiful woman but she's got a quiet charm and looks that are perfect for her role. Pickford, Mary's younger brother, is also very good in his role and brings some great, quiet moments to the film. The "gay stereotype" in the film belongs to Franklin Pangborn who plays a character named Cecil Lovelace. He's very funny in the role even though it's a pretty big stereotype. The film is also interesting in seeing how these theatre groups traveled and what they did while not on stage.

    Main Street After Dark (1945) [​IMG][​IMG]

    Edward L. Cahn directed this drama about a family a pickpockets who prey on sailors at a local bar. Cahn directed several of the "Crime Does Not Pay" entries for MGM and I'm going to guess this 57-minute film was meant to be an extended version of that. Sadly there isn't too much going in this film and comes off rather dull in the end. The storyline never really takes off even though there's an impressive cast including Edward Arnold, Selena Royle, Audrey Totter and Hume Cronyn.
     
  19. PatW

    PatW Screenwriter

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    Haven (2004) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The story meanders along and can be confusing but I thought Orlando Bloom was excellent here and it's well worth watching this movie for his performance.

    The Thin Man (1934) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Very entertaining who-done-it stars William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles as sleuths out to solve a murder.
     
  20. Tarkin The Ewok

    Tarkin The Ewok Supporting Actor

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    8/6: Stargate (1994): Extended Cut [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    It's tough to rate this one. While all of the individual elements are well done, it fails to blend into a cohesive whole that truly impresses. It's worth watching, though, just for Spader, Russell, and the interactions with the Abydonians. Music and sets are also elements that stand out to me.
     

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