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Track the Films You Watch (2010)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Michael Elliott, Dec 29, 2009.

  1. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I finished the Sony Sam Fuller boxset tonight. Great stuff, I'm pleased with the blind buy.
    Underworld U.S.A (1961) 3.5/5 - Another tight crime film by Sam Fuller. This one differed in that in stead of using the format to pass a message about social injustice, it's instead about the obsessive drive to stop the ones who cause it. Robertson seems doomed from the start, and the whole thing plays out in a clever way to keep you interested.
     
  2. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle (1976) * 1/2The actual merit of any Emmanuelle film could be debated but it seems the sleazier they got the more of a cult following they gathered. We had official entries in the series, rips, countless sequels and at times films that had nothing to do with the sexy lady but a film still got her name in the credits. That's the case with this film, also known as BLACK VELVET, which features some lovely ladies acting in various sexual acts but none are named Emmanuelle. No white Emmanuelle and no black Emmanuelle. Not only is there no Emmanuelle but there's not much plot either. In the film Laura Gemser plays a beautiful model who is constantly being abused by her photographer boyfriend (Gabriele Tinti). The two find themselves in Egypt where they encounter various strange folks including the daughter (Annie Belle) of a sexually frustrated woman and another pervert (Al Cliver) who tries to come off like a Jesus-type figure. Again, there's really not too much going on here in terms of an actual story and in the end it pretty much hurts the film but to be honest, Emmanuelle films, no matter what country they were coming from, dealt with stories too well. This film has a few good things going for it but just not enough to make it worth sitting through the 94-minute running time. There are a few campy moments including one early on where the abusive boyfriend makes Gemser pose next to a rotting dog. What this had to do with anything or the reason for it is beyond me but seeing the beautiful Gemser next to a dead dog was kind of weird to say the least. Fans of Gemser will certainly want to check this film out as she's naked plenty of times and I'm sure this is the main reason to turn into any of her films. Belle comes off pretty good as well as she fits her role perfectly and her scenes with Gemser are quite erotic. Cliver, best known for his role in Fulci's ZOMBIE, is also fun if you're a fan of his. There's quite a bit of nudity but the sex scenes are all rather tame except for the one between Gemser and Belle. The films pacing is all over the place and it's really too slow to make the film work. The cinematography is above average for this type of flick and the editing by the one and only Bruno Mattei isn't that bad either. Stiill, there's just not enough here to make the film work and in the end it's certainly for Gemser fans only.
    Originally Posted by Martin Teller (1983)
     
  3. Holer

    Holer Stunt Coordinator

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    Carbine Johnson - James Stewart is a moonshiner who may or may not have killed a federal man and ends up in prison, doing hard time on a road gang and being an obstinant cuss. While spending a month in 'the box', Jimmy has a zen epiphany and learns to think about other things to keep his mind off his troubles. In his case it's guns guns guns. Eventually, the warden lets him start fiddling with gun prototypes in the machine shop and he is on his way to rehabilitation and redemption. A solid B picture from Stewart and Warners.
    Captain Nemo and the Underwater City - Not nearly as good as I had hoped it would be. Robert Ryan as Captain Nemo should have been a home run, but the performance I wanted happened in another movie altogether (Billy Budd). This is a silly fantasy about Nemo building an underwater city and having interlopers come and nearly destroy the whole shooting match. Chuck Connors plays the silver tongued politician who gums up the works so that he can return topside and complete his urgent civil war mission. Nemo's city actually looks pretty cool, despite occasional visits from a giant mutated monster, and by the end, I was inclined to agree that, if I could spend the rest of my life playing on the water slide with nubile nymphets and drinking free ale, the rest of the planet could go to hell.
    Crime School - The second film I've seen where Humphrey Bogart squares off against the Dead End kids. The other was, well, 'Dead End'. This one is a blow by blow remake of Cagney's 'City on Fire' and kind of shows how adept Warners was at cranking out B pictures. Bogie is fairly unspectacular as the do-right element here, believing there are no bad boys. It's a lot of fun watching the Dead End boys interact with all their slang and mannerisms. Apparently, in the early days, Leo Gorcey could always be trusted to snitch everybody out. How he ever got to be leader is a real mystery. The guy who plays the old fat sadistic martinet warden who whips misbehaving boys with a cat o' nine tails really steals the show. By the way, this is a Warners archive release and the print is in absolutely terrible shape!
    Charge of the Light Brigade - Usually the combo of Errol Flynn and Michael Curtiz is a no-brainer but the decision to cast this epic tale through the prism of a tragic love triangle turns it all into a bit of a snooze fest, even if it does give the lovely Olivia de Haviland something to heave her equally lovely breast about. The final third of the movie gets around to the epic adventure at hand and it's all love and honor for king and country. Not a bad movie but there are a few other Flynn/Curtiz movies I would choose before it. Nigel Bruce wins the day as a British officer hiding his copious consumption of alcohol from his nagging chatter box wife.
    A Colt is My Passport - Everyone's favorite chipmunk-cheeked Yakuza, Shishido Joe is back as a no-nonsense hit man who falls afoul of rival gangs who make him a scapegoat when they decide to make nice. The bulk of the story is a bit of cat and mouse at a water-front hotel, run by the inevitable love interest, a girl who has a past and can't seem to escape her unsavory surroundings. Ultimately, though, it's about honor and brotherhood and tackling your problems head on, all of which leads to a stunning, and stunningly improbable climax, straight out of a Spaghetti Western, which explains the Spaghetti Western theme music, which...oh never mind. You either just GO with these movies or you are quickly left behind. Me, I can't get enough and I hope Criterion is kind enough to bless us with a second helping of Nikkatsu Noir real soon.
     
  4. RafaelB

    RafaelB Second Unit

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    Theatrical Films Watched in 2010:
    January
    1/1- Up In The Air (second time) ****
    1/2- Avatar (3-D) ***1/2
    1/17- It's Complicated***
    1/28- A Single Man**1/2
    1/30- Sherlock Holmes **

    February
    2/8- The Lovely Bones**1/2
    2/13- Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ½*
    2/15- Dear John**1/2
    2/13-When In Rome 1/2*
    2/27-Avatar (3-D, second time, BPS)***1/2
    2/27-A Serious Man (BPS)***
    2/27-Precious (BPS)**

    March
    3/6-An Education (BPS, second time) ***
    3/6-Alice In Wonderland (2010) ***
    3/6-Up In The Air (BPS, third time) ****
    3/6-The Blind Side (BPS) ***
    3/13-2010 Academy Award-nominated Animated Shorts ****
    3/13-Shutter Island ***1/2
    3/28-How To Train Your Dragon (3-D) ***1/2

    April
    4/23- Date Night **1/2
    4/25- Hot Tub Time Machine ***
    4/29- The Ghost Writer ****

    May
    5/13- Iron Man 2 ***
    5/16- Robin Hood (2010) *** 1/2
    5/29- Sex and the City 2 ***

    June
    6/13- Sex and the City 2 (second time) ***
    6/18- Toy Story 3 (3D) *****
    6/19- Shrek Forever After ***
    6/26- Toy Story 3 (second time) *****
    6/30- Twilight: Eclipse ** 1/2

    July
    7/5- Knight & Day ***
    7/11- Despicable Me (3D) *** 1/2
    7/12- Toy Story 3 (3D, third time) *****
    7/18- Toy Story 3 (fourth time) *****
    7/20- Inception ***1/2
    7/25- The Kids Are All Right ***
    7/27- Step Up 3D **
    7/31- Despicable Me (3D, second time) *** 1/2

    August
    8/12- Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World ****
    8/22- The Switch ** 1/2

    September
    9/4- Going The Distance *** 1/2

    October
    10/2- Easy A ****
    10/6- The Social Network **** 1/2
    10/12- Let Me In ****
    10/25- Back To The Future (25th Anniversary Re-Release) **** 1/2

    November
    11/5- The Town ****
    11/7- Paranormal Activity 2 ***
    11/22- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 ****
    11/27- Tangled (Digital 3D) ***1/2

    December
    12/13- Black Swan ****
    12/18- Love & Other Drugs ***
    12/19- Megamind **
    12/25- Tron: Legacy **
     
  5. Martin Teller

    Martin Teller Cinematographer

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    I like it too. It's far from perfect, but it's gotten a lot of unfair backlash over the years. Still creepy for the final scene if nothing else.
     
  6. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    Yeah, that shot of the guy taking a leak in the corner is really heart-stopping.
     
  7. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    Yeah, that last shot is burned on to my brain. (Unlike Bob, I'm not being sarcastic.
     
  8. Martin Teller

    Martin Teller Cinematographer

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    You can take anything out of context and reduce it to something banal.
    The Shining: Yeah, that shot of two little girls in frilly clothes is really heart-stopping.
     
  9. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I'm a sucker for any ghost stories so that's probably why I get sucked into "creepy" movies like THE SHINING, BLAIR WITCH or PA. It's funny but that type of stuff is something I can find "scary". I think it just has something to do with not being able to see something is a lot scarier than any monster, shark or stalker. I know a lot of people say THE EXORCIST is terrifying but it's never bothered me a bit.

    Of course, after STROKER ACE I'm not sure anything will ever scare me again.
     
  10. PatW

    PatW Screenwriter

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    Race to Witch Mountain (2009) /img/vbsmilies/htf/star.gif">[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    Another fair movie that somehow played better the first time I saw it. The modern dialogue was quite noticable and terrible at times and some of the acting was bad, Elizabeth Berridge in particular but F. Murray Abraham was magnificent as Salieri. The story itself was good and that music.... So all my stars go to F. Murray and that glorious music.
    I Am Legend (2007) [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
    I sometimes don't get the dislike for this one though I do prefer the two previous renditions of Matheson's story slightly better. If you compare this movie to Matheson's book than it fails in it's execution but taken on it's own and pretending the book doesn't exist makes the movie more digestable. Not a bad post apocalyptic story with Will Smith this time as the lone man on earth. If I had a real problem with anything in this story it was the unrealistic looking CGI creatures and the ending of this movie.
     
  11. Pete York

    Pete York Supporting Actor
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    An Historical Mystery: The Man on the Rock (1938) (short) Dir: Edward Cahn Production: MGM Another one of Carey Wilson’s crazy, entertaining conspiracy theories. History tells us that Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile on the island of St. Helena, May 5, 1821. But what if he didn’t? Napoleon was known for using a double--a modest, unassuming farmer named Francois Robeaud, who would attend to routine state matters leaving Napoleon to spend time with his beloved son. What if, following Napoleon’s defeat and imprisonment, the members of his inner circle conspired to somehow exchange their emperor with his double? And succeeded. The ‘evidence’: Robeaud, who had gone back to his home in Baleycourt after Napoleon was defeated, suddenly disappears--forever as it would turn out; his sister becomes unaccountably wealthy; the wife of a Bonaparte conspirator sends a letter to a relation in Russia describing their triumph in freeing Napoleon from St. Helena; a man with an uncanny resemblance to Napoleon opens a shop in Verona, the locals jokingly call him “Bonaparte”, etc. And most curiously, who was the stranger shot and killed trying to enter the residence of the young Duke of Reichstadt (who was once known as the son of Napoleon before the Hapsburg’s took custody of him), a man whose last words were “son”? There’s an odd, admiring sympathy toward Napoleon throughout the short, especially in regards to the mean, old Hapsburgs who were desperately trying to quell any budding notions in Napoleon’s son of him being an heir to his father’s ambitions, but the tale is well told, a bit wacky, fun to consider.

    /img/vbsmilies/htf/star.gif"> out of 4
     
  12. Tarkin The Ewok

    Tarkin The Ewok Supporting Actor

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    King Kong (1933): 4/5

    On this rewatch, I was amazed at just how much stop-motion action Kong was involved in. It's a thrilling movie and a great achievement.
     
  13. Martin Teller

    Martin Teller Cinematographer

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    Ikiru (rewatch) - It's a shame, really, that this film is so strongly associated with just one scene. Perhaps it's even a shame that Criterion uses it for the DVD cover, although one can hardly blame them for going with such an iconic image. There are so many great scenes to behold: the "passing the buck" montage, Watanabe's meeting with the doctor, the jazz hall, the confrontation with the yakuza... the list goes on. The film also seems to be rarely remembered for its cinematography, which is quite phenomenal, even show-offy, at points. Take just about any scene involving stairs as an example. Or the penultimate scene: Kimura takes a bold stand against the bureaucratic complacency, and defeated, literally sinks under a pile of paperwork. Great, great stuff. I don't care for the unnecessary narration, but there's so little of it that it's easy to forgive. But one thing that does bug me, and I'm sure this will be heresy to many, is Takashi Shimura's performance. "Overacting" is a different animal when it comes to Japanese cinema, but Shimura really overplays it. The slouching, the hangdog "pity me" expression, the constantly watery eyes, the weak raspy voice. It gets to be a little too much, I would have liked to see it toned down a notch. It's a Noh performance in a film that's otherwise not Noh-influenced. I also find the film doesn't move me as much as it seems to do for others, but this is my third or fourth time seeing it. Nonetheless, I do think it's some masterful filmmaking. Also interesting to note how the third act somewhat resembles Rashomon, where the truth must be pieced together from several different accounts. In this case, of course, the accounts don't conflict quite so much. Rating: 9
    The Super-Inframan - I vaguely remember watching "Ultraman" as a kid, but this is not that. Oh, the kaiju staples are all here: guys in rubber suits, absurd science (yes, there are gauges for "cyan", "magneta" and "yellow"... professor, these color combinations are dangerously unstylish!), cheap effects, children and loved ones in peril. But this is the Chinese knockoff... China, protected by a squad of kung fu experts/lab scientists wearing identical Elvis jumpsuits. I don't really get into either monster movies or martial arts these days, and "so bad it's good" doesn't usually do much for me, so I didn't get a lot out of this. It was silly enough to be mildly entertaining, but the endless kung fu throwdowns at the climax got really boring. I did find it interesting that instead of aliens and mutants (with the exception of "Mutant Drill"), the monsters were all characterized as skeletons, witches, demons and devils. The head baddie was even called "Princess Elzebub". I suppose this is because China has deeper spiritual roots (and less fear of radiation and outsiders) than Japan. Other than that, it was just the occasional ridiculous image, such as a skeleton steering a demonic speedboat, that kept me amused... but not amused enough. Rating: 5
    Hatari! - You can tell this is a Howard Hawks film because it feels like a cross between Only Angels Have Wings and Bringing Up Baby... and maybe a Disney movie or a nature documentary. It's about a multi-cultural (although, notably, it's the two American white guys who end up with the girls) ragtag team of a big game hunters in the African wilderness. There isn't much of a plot, it's more a series of anecdotes. Some exciting, some funny, some cute. Some of the hunting scenes are marvelously done, and there's some of that terrific Hawks banter. But a lot of it just feels goofy, and the Henry Mancini score doesn't help (at least now I know where "Baby Elephant Walk" comes from). All it takes are a few lame sight gags or slapstick segments to ruin it, and there's more than a few. But I do love how Hawks handles the John Wayne persona and always makes him much more likeable and fallible. Overall it just didn't strike the right tone with me, too cutesy and flippant and dare I say wholesome, but there are some nice moments. Rating: 6
    A Colt Is My Passport - Joe Shishido, he of the unmistakable surgically-altered cheeks, stars in a film similar to his work in Branded to Kill, from the same year. Both movies are excellent, but for different reasons. Branded to Kill is surreal spin on the yakuza flick, with an anything-goes, who-gives-a-fuck attitude. Colt takes the yakuza flick and blends it with equal parts noir and spaghetti western, resulting in a beautifully crafted, tightly plotted cat-and-mouse game. Shishido is as slick and cunning as James Bond and there's a lot of clever ruses and tense scenarios. Director Takashi Nomura manages to keep just about every shot interesting, culminating in a superb climax that could have come straight out of a Leone film. Very enjoyable. Rating: 9
     
  14. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Slaughter (1972)

    Jack Starrett

    Ex Green Beret Slaughter (Jim Brown) seeks vengeance against the Mob who killed his father and soon teams up with some Feds to track down the gang and take them out one by one including the head guy (Rip Torn). This AIP blaxploitation flick has a lot going for it but I found the direction to be all over the place and there were a few too many slow spots to be a complete winner, which is a shame because there's a terrific cast on display here. The screenplay is your typical revenge tale but I think the film could have benefited from a small re-write because what we have here isn't all that interesting because the script really lets us down in terms of the bad guys. We have a couple different bad guys but neither of them are very interesting and I think the film would have benefited by touching them up a tad bit more especially since you have an actor like Torn eating up the scenery and turning in a fine performance. Brown, not the greatest actor out there, but he still manages to be quite cool in the role and he's got some funny comic timing as well. The sequence where he crashes into a party and the servant asks if he has an invitation and Brown slowly pulls out his gun and says "yep" is certainly one of the highlights of the film. We also get Cameron Mitchell in a couple brief scenes and it's always fun seeing him. Even though all the guys do a good job it's the beautiful Stella Stevens who steals the film. It's not her acting that steals the movie but her chest, which is constantly coming out of no matter what type of outfit she's wearing.

    Slaughter's Big Rip-Off (1973)

    Gordon Douglas

    Violent sequel sees a mob boss (Ed McMahon) taking a hit out on Slaughter (Jim Brown) who of course has to seek vengeance when a couple of his friends are killed instead. This sequel to the 1972 hit comes as a major letdown because we've got a pretty good cast here but sadly they're given very little to do and this film runs out of gas before we even hit the thirty-minute mark. Not only do we have Brown and McMahon but we also have a brief appearance by Scatman Crothers and Don Stroud as well as Brock Peters who most will remember from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The biggest problem with this film is that the entire set up is just boring and never really gets us interested in what's going on. As soon as the movie starts we witness this hit and we have no reason why it's happening or who the people are that are getting killed. We're thrown right into this story but it's so slim that you can't help but feel you're just watching this movie because the first one made money and the studio is trying to milk some more cash. I know that just about every blaxploitation flick used this revenge storyline but they still could have came up with something better here. What we do get are a few fun performances with Brown once again delivering the good lines and kicking enough heads in for some slight entertainment. It was very funny seeing McMahon playing the womanizing gangster and Peters turns in a good performance as a cop helping Slaughter. Veteran director Gordon, whose credits go as far back as campy stuff like ZOMBIES ON BROADWAY, handles the material fairly well but he's just not given enough to save the movie.
    Secrets of Sweet Sixteen (1973)

    Ernst Hofbauer

    Another entry in Germany's long running "report" series, which director Hofbauer was an expert at since he was behind the camera on this as well as countless others in the SCHOOLGIRL REPORT series. I'm really not sure why this one here wasn't in the SCHOOLGIRL REPORT series as this here contains the basic premise. Here we get several "stories" about teens and the troubles they can get into. One deals with a daughter learning of her mother's lover and going to meet him for herself. We have a nerdy boy afraid to have sex so his friend hooks him up with a beautiful girl (Christina Lindberg). Next up is a strange one where a post master believes his delivery man wants his daughter. The final story deals with a group of Satan worshipers needing a virgin for their sect but not being able to find one. If you're a fan of these German sex comedies then I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. It's not quite as good as the entries in the SCHOOLGIRL REPORT series that I've seen but it's certainly better than many others out there. I think the best story is probably the first one as it contains some pretty goofy sequence including constant flashbacks to a women's club where they are trying to lose weight and taking mud baths to stay young. Whatever this had to do with the actual story is beyond me but it does give us a few laughs. The weakest story is probably the one dealing with the dorky guy because there are so many opportunities for laughs but the film never really goes for them. Fans of Lindberg, myself included, will still enjoy the episode just for her. The film gets off to a pretty tasteless start as a pedophile lures a kid away from a school only to be "hypnotized" by a couple girls who hold him until the police arrive. I'm really not sure why this was put in the film but it probably should have been cut (even though this production comedy and director would make a film called 14 AND UNDER).
    In the Year 2889 (1967)

    Larry Buchanan

    In the late 1960s AIP began remaking their films for television and this production by the one and only Buchanan is a reworking of Roger Corman's THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED. As in the previous film, an atomic bomb goes off and leaves only a few survivors in a small town. The people are sitting around worried about acid rain but the real threat is an ugly monster walking around (and not really doing anything). The title actually has nothing to do with the film but I've read AIP had a copyright on it so they decided to just throw it on this film, which pretty much tells you all you need to know about this sucker. I'm not the biggest fan of the original Corman movie but it's certainly a lot better than this thing but at the same time this is certainly better than your typical Buchanan movie. That's not really saying much considering he's made some really horrible stuff but the biggest disappointment here is the confusion of not using the monster. The monster looks incredibly silly and it's clear he's just an actor wearing a mask but the only time we see him he's just walking around in the woods or watching a couple of the women swim. There really aren't any attacks, any suspense or anything else that you'd expect in a horror film. The monster is so rarely seen up until the end you'll really be scratching your head trying to figure out what they were thinking. The film is very dialogue heavy and none of it is overly good, although the majority of it is just carried over from the Corman flick. Performances are pretty bad as you'd expect but you've gotta love the father who is constantly preaching to everyone and then tries to pimp off his daughter and in another scene he wants to kill people yet he always goes back to talking about how good he is. Director Buchanan has gained a pretty big following over the years by bad movie lovers so I'm sure those folks will want to check this out but others should avoid at all costs.

    Beauties and the Beast, The (1974)

    Ray Nadeau

    What's better than nudity and a Yeti? This soft core romp has plenty of both as a lonely Yeti stalks the woods kidnapping beautiful women and taking them back to his cage. He's in luck as some hippies and a couple other ladies (one played by Swedish bombshell Uschi Digard) come to stay for the weekend so he has plenty to pick from. I love Yeti movies but this here is one of the wackiest out there even though it contains absolutely no plot. I'm still not quite sure why the Yeti here was taking the women to begin with as he never does anything with them except throw them in his cave and we never find out what happens to any of them. The main reason this film was made was to show off countless nude women and especially the 44-26-35 Digard who many will remember from Russ Meyer's CHERRY, HARRY & RACHEL!. As far as soft core flicks go this one here is pretty good but at only 66-minutes there's not too much going on and that includes everything with our hairy friend Mr. Yeti. I'm still not sure what the point of throwing him in here was for because we really don't get enough of him and when we do see him he's usually just carrying the women around. The idea of a horny Yeti wasn't started here as BIGFOOT beat this one by a few years and it had the added bonus of John Carradine. The main reason to watch this film is just for the nudity and some really bad sex scenes including one of the most hilarious "make out" sessions I've seen from any movie. This here takes place inside a car and you certainly won't forget it due to how stupid it is.

    Alice in Wonderland (2010) ** 1/2
    Updated version of the Disney classic has teenager Alice () about to be forced into a lifeless marriage when she takes off running, falls into a hole and into Wonderland. There the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) has a mission for her and that's to bring the evil queen (Helena Bohnam Carter) down and free (Anne Hathaway). I really wasn't sure what to expect from this film and when the end credits started I walked out of the theater with a take-it or leave-it feeling. This certainly doesn't match the animated film but at the same time I'm sure kids watching the story for the first time are really going to love what they see. For me the film just seemed to by the numbers as if Burton really didn't know where he wanted to go with the material. Everything is very beautiful on the eyes but a lot of the emotion seemed to be missing and the film really lacked any heart or soul. Out of all the Depp-Burton films I must admit that this was the first time I was disappointed with Depp. He certainly gives a good performance here but for the life of me I couldn't help but feel he got robbed by the screenplay that really didn't leave him much to do. In some ways I felt that Depp was a bit too good for this part and that the character was underwritten. I was also bored with Carter and her performance. Perhaps she's just been in too many of Burton's films but I didn't find any part of her character or performance to be entertaining. Even Hathaway's character is rather weak but the actress at least gives it her all. ALICE is the real reason this movie works as well as it does. I really couldn't take my eyes off of her and she did a marvelous job as Alice. I thought she gave an incredibly strong performance and I believed her every step of the way. She was cute, charming and fun which is exactly what the movie needed. Horror legend Christopher Lee lends his voice at the end of the film as well. The visuals here are very easy on the eyes but, again, without the heart of soul there's really not enough here to make it a winner.

    Ghost Writer, The (2010) *** 1/2
    Extremely well-made thriller has Ewan McGregor playing a ghost writer who is asked to help clean up a former Prime Minster's (Pierce Brosnan) autobiography. He is replacing the previous ghost writer who committed sucide but as he starts to dig into the Prime Minister's past he starts to uncover some secrets that might have led to the murder of the previous writer. This is pretty much the Polanski that so many people love because we have a complicated story but with many classic touches that comes in the best work from the director. The story being told here is a very interesting one because for the first hour the movie really doesn't contain any dramam because it's used to get to know all the characters. We get to learn about the ghost writer, the Prime Minister and his current charges of being involved in war crimes and we also get to know about his wife (). The three characters get time to develop in front of our eyes and this much knowledge will probably have mainstream viewers walking out but those wanting intelligence will be rewarded. The final hour is when Polanski puts his foot down and really delivers some tense drama and edge-of-your-seat thrills. The drama works itself up slowly and then it really takes off. Then, in classic Polanski fashion, we get the rug pulled out from us and then we get stabbed in the back with something you certainly won't expect to happen. There are at least three different twists in the final ten-minutes and they work marveously well. Polanski works this screenplay like a painter would do his masterpiece and that's by making small touches that add up to greatness and he makes sure not to rush anything. The film takes its sweet time letting all the pieces fall into place before we get to go on the final ride. Polanski doesn't miss a beat but this is helped by the terrific cast. McGregor is perfect as the ghost writer because we can believe that he's smart enough to uncover all of this stuff but also because the actor's laid back humor also comes off as being realistic. Whenever you're dealing with one of these interlectual movies it's alway snice when you can believe that the lead really isn't smart enough to be doing the things we're seeing him do. Brosnan also turns in one of the strongest performances of his career as he really sinks his teeth into this character. Brosnan gets to display some of his usual charm but he also gets to play the character's dark side with a couple emotional and angry outburst and he handles these extremely well. WIFE is terrific in the role of the wife as she, like McGregor, really makes us believe who the character is. She comes off incredibly smart here but she's also got some sexyness to her that also helps the story in key spots. Supporting players JHHHHHHHHHHH also do great work. There are a few minor problems here and there but there's no denying that Polanski is at the top of his game and working in a genre that fans of his will love. This movie will remind a lot of people of the political thrillers of the 70s as it relies more on brains instead of muscle. This movie isn't going to be for everyone but those who like great directing and acting will certainly have to check it out.
     
  15. Holer

    Holer Stunt Coordinator

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    Erik the Conqueror – Two Viking brothers are separated as boys when their father’s kingdom is destroyed by an army of treacherous Britons. Cameron Mitchell plays the grown Erin, the Viking king determined to avenge his father, unaware that his brother is alive and living la vida Briton. The brothers do battle on an extremely crowded Viking ship where it’s hard to tell who is who and then things get really confusing when they both fall in love with a pair of ravishing twin virgins. By the time they discover they’re brothers, the spit is naturally hitting the fan, and Cameron gets a grandstanding death scene that may be the longest (and silliest) in cinema history. Still, as with any Mario Bava movie, there are some great action set pieces, with plenty of blood and beautiful women to spare. Mitchell and Bava went on to make several other movies together, and yet remain unacknowledged as one of the great cinema partnerships. Hmm. Must’ve been that death scene...
    Escape from Fort Bravo – What a great premise for a western! An ever dwindling Union Army platoon must guard an equal number of scheming, disgruntled Confederate prisoners in a remote outpost surrounded by hostile Indians. Into this snake pit rides a Derringer slinging blonde with shifting alliances determined to stir the testosterone pot. Master Storyteller John Sturges turns a potential potboiler into a veritable treatise on conflict at every level: Man versus his environment, men versus other men, Man versus woman and ultimately, himself. One of them allegorical westerns, I reckon! Solid acting by a great cast (William Demarest alert!) and a killer finale make this character driven oater an absolute keeper.
    Down Argentina Way – Don Ameche is a horse breeder who comes to New York and wants to sell his champion jumper to Betty Grable but he can’t because her father did his father some injustice many years ago. Betty doesn’t do rejection so she follows Don back to Argentina, where everyone just goes to nightclubs every night to watch Carmen Miranda and the Nicholas Brothers do their thing. Oh if only life were just that grand. Anyway, Don and Betty fall in love, there is a lot more confusion about horses who jump versus horses who race, someone sings the title song every five minutes and, naturally, everything works out in the end. For me, this one is all about Carmen Miranda, but it’s one of her lesser musicals, with just two very brief numbers and the Nicholas Brothers end up with the better showing. It also gets me how heavy this film is with racist depictions of lazy, lothario Latins, but it was a more innocent time and I guess nobody cares if you insult a few Argentineans.
     
  16. Mario Gauci

    Mario Gauci Cinematographer

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    01/09/10: DOUCE (Claude Autant-Lara, 1943) /img/vbsmilies/htf/star.gif/img/vbsmilies/htf/star.gif/img/vbsmilies/htf/star.gif/img/vbsmilies/htf/half.gif
     
  17. Tarkin The Ewok

    Tarkin The Ewok Supporting Actor

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    Ghostbusters (1984): 3/5
    I bolded this one because I only remember the Slimer parts, the refrigerator, and Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from seeing it in early childhood. This time around, I had a few laughs, and I enjoyed seeing the origins of some of the staples of the animated series. I find Ghostbusters to be a great concept, but I don't understand how this became the phenomenon it did. Perhaps I don't appreciate Bill Murray's style of humor as much as the mass audience does.
     
  18. Jeff Reis

    Jeff Reis Stunt Coordinator

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    Late to the party and hopefully I will do better than last year
    Ratings out of 5, first time viewings in bold
    January
    Elevator to the Gallows (1958) /img/vbsmilies/htf/star.gif">1/2 [SIZE= smaller](DVD, my collection)[/SIZE]
     
  19. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)

    Chris Columbus

    When his wife (Sally Field) divorces him and the courts take his children away except for one day a week, an actor/father (Robin Williams) decides to dress us as the elderly Mrs. Doubtfire so that he can be the family maid and spend more time with the children. I remember seeing this hit a couple times when it was originally released in theaters but it's been quite a while between viewings but I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the film held up. There are still many, many problems in the film but the main goal here was to be a showcase for Williams and it's certainly that. The highlights are certainly Williams going all out and delivering a marvelous performance not only as Mrs. Doubtfire but also as the father. I thought Williams did a very good job at handling the role of the struggling father even if the screenplay lets the film down with a few of these dramatic moments that I'll talk about later. Williams handles every situation wonderfully well but there's no doubt the real genius comes in the role of Doubtfire. The way he plays this character isn't simply him in a fat suit and make up but instead he really delivers a true performance and makes this character feel real and not just some put on. I think Williams perfectly nails this character so well that one could pass it off as a real English woman. He perfectly handles all the comedy scenes and that includes two sequences that rank as some of the best screwball moments of the decade. There are two sequences where he must go back and forth between the father role and that of Doubtfire and these scenes get the biggest laughs of the movie. This is especially true towards the end of the film when he has to spend time with the family as Doubtfire as well as impress a hopeful boss as the father. Field and Pierce Brosnan turn in fine supporting work but there's no question that the film belongs to Williams. I think there are a few major flaws with the film, which includes the biggest and that's the final twenty-minutes of the film when we enter some rather very dark moments including a very distasteful courtroom scene where Williams' character's mental issues are questioned. This was just way too dark for all the laughs that preceded it. The actual ending is one you'd expect but even it doesn't work out overly well. With that said, this is still one of the better, mainstream comedies of the 90s and Williams performance makes it a must see.
    Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The (1939)

    Alfred L. Werker

    The second and final film in Fox's original Sherlock Holmes series once again sees Basil Rathbone playing the master detective and Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. This time out they're trying to determine the murderer of a woman's (Ida Lupino) brother but Holmes' number one enemy, Professor Moriarty (George Zucco) might be planning his next crime at the same time. I read a lot of reviews calling this the best film in Rathbone's stint as Holmes but I must say that I found it to be a lot less entertaining than THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES and several of the future Universal entries. That's not to say this is a bad movie because it's not but at the same time I found there to be way too much plot and not enough of it interesting enough to keep the film moving. With all this plot and not much moving, I found the film drags in spots and that's certainly not something this series did often. With that said, I found the performances to once again be the best thing for the film with Rathbone taking the lead and really delivering in the role of Holmes, which is of course what you'd expect. I always find a lot of actors struggle when they're playing brilliant minds because the actor can never quite act "smart enough" to make the role believable but that's never been a problem with Rathbone in this series or various other films he's done. Bruce, as always, is good in his role of Dr. Watson and Zucco really delivers in what limited screen time he's given. I really wish his character had been padded a little. Lupino and the rest of the supporting cast are decent if not overly spectacular.
    Case of the Hillside Stranglers, The (1989)

    Steve Gethers

    Extremely well-acted and dramatic made-for-TV flick about the cousins (Dennis Farina, Billy Zane) who stalked Northern L.A. back in 1978-79 and ended up murdering a total of ten people. Richard Crenna plays Sgt. ob Grogan, the man put on the case who slowly finds everything slipping away when a lack of evidence causes the D.A. to worry about going forward with charges. I remember watching this movie when it first showed up on television but I really couldn't remember too much about it nearly twenty years later. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the film held up over time and it actually managed to be quite dramatic from start to finish. Anyone who knows anything about the real case will say this movie portrayals everything fairly accurately and this helps the drama because it's also unbelievable how this case eventually turned out. I think the film's strongest aspect is that it pretty much gives equal time to everything involved here. We get to spend time with the killers, spend time with the police trying to crack the case but we also get to peak in at Grogan's personal life and the effect this case had on it. I thought the film managed to play all sides and for the most part we get a pretty full knowledge of everything that happened and I think we also get to know the killers quite well. The movie manages to be quite intense not only as the police try to crack down but also with the killers stalking their victims. The direction by Gethers is extremely good as he manages to keep everything moving very quickly but he also fills the film with some great atmosphere and really manages to put you right in the middle of everything going on. Crenna gives a very good performance in the role of the cop as his energy is right on target and you can believe everything he does. Zane and Farina are extremely good as the killers and you can't help but see and feel the cold blood running through their veins. Both actors really dig deep into the role and comes off quite chilling.

    Stagecoach (1986)

    Ted Post

    Made-for-TV remake of John Ford's classic 1939 film is pretty lifeless from start to finish but fans of country music (or at least the actors here) will find some mild entertainment to be had. Willie Nelson (Doc Holliday), Kris Kristopherson (Ringo Kid), Johnny Cash (Marshal Curly Wilcox) and Waylon Jennings (Hatfield) lead the stagecoach into Apache territory where Geronimo is wanting some scalps. I'm somewhat shocked that they even bothered calling this STAGECOACH as it owes very little to the John Ford film. Sure, the entire set up is the same but it seems this film was more interesting in dialogue than any sort of action or drama. I think a lot of people will hate this movie with a passion or turn it off at the half way point unless they're fans of the cast and if that's the case they'll probably be able to make it through simply on their charm. I've always found Cash to be a fairly good actor (see THE GUNFIGHT with Kirk Douglas) and he clearly steals the film with his down to earth qualities that really come off quite charming. I think he fit the role perfectly well and there's not a second where you see Johnny Cash but instead you see the character. Kristopherson also comes off pretty well as he should since he's the most credited member of the cast. Nelson, as Doc Holliday, isn't going to go down as one of the greatest to ever play the role but he's not too bad and he does manage to get a few laughs with that dry sense of humor. Jennings doesn't get as good of a role but he's not too bad either. Fans of the Ford film really shouldn't compare the two movies as they're clearly both trying to do something different. This film here just wants to be fun and the cast delivers that but I think the screenplay is still full of holes and I have to wonder why they waited until the very end of a 100-minute movie to throw in some action. I think the film would have been better had some been sprinkled in towards the start of the film. With that said, country music fans will certainly want to see these legends acting together in one film and we even get the title song sung by Nelson. Look fast for other country folks including June Carter Cash and David Allan Coe.
    Nut Guilty (1936)

    Lloyd French

    MGM short has Edgar Bergen and his dummy Charlie McCarthy given the right to be judges for a day where they must look over three cases. One involving a girl driving without a license plate, the next a sexy woman doing naughty things and the third dealing with a violent criminal. Needless to say, this short was made to get laughs and it actually delivers in a few spots. Your tolerance level of Bergen and McCarthy will certainly play into things but they've always been hit and miss with me. This short here is probably one of the more entertaining I've seen from the duo because it's a lot more adult in nature and I was surprised to see that this was released after the Pre-Code era because there are a few scenes where the sexual innuendo is quite obviously and in your face as McCarthy goes after a couple sexy women. None of the three "cases" are that interesting but they each manage a few small laughs.

    Rainbow Pass, The (1937)

    Jacques Tourneur

    Carey Wilson narrates this mildly interesting but extremely flawed short that was put into theaters shortly before MGM's THE GOOD EARTH. In the film we are told that all groups of people in China enjoy the theatre and we go inside one of these places to see a performance of "The Rainbow Pass", the story of a woman who challenges the man who killed her husband to a battle. There's quite a bit to enjoy in this short but for the most part I don't think it really succeeds at what it's trying to do. There's no doubt that it's trying to throw some attention to the Paul Muni flick even though the film isn't ever said directly there are several moments where "the good earth" is said, often times aimed at the Chinese people. For the most part Tourneur's direction is top-notch as he's able to build a pretty good atmosphere with the production of the play given a lot of great details and it's certainly more interesting that the side plot of the Chinese people and their love for the theater. Just about all of this side plot is overlooked and in the end what's here is pretty useless as we're just never given enough details to find it interesting.
    Hollywood Hobbies (1939)

    George Sidney

    Pretty good "let's show off our stars" short from MGM is cheaply made but we at least get to see countless A-list stars. The film centers on a couple tourists who take a trip across Hollywood where they get to see a few famous faces like Clark Gable and Reginald Denny. The two then go to a charity baseball game where more stars appear including James Stewart, Spencer Tracy, Buster Keaton, Joe E. Brown, Virginia Bruce, Joan Davis, Buddy Ebsen, Mary Pickford, Tyrone Power, Dick Powell, the Ritz Brothers, Cesar Romero and many more. The actual "plot" of this short is pretty silly but that's to be expected as the main goal is to just show as many Hollywood stars as possible and this film certainly does that. A lot of the footage is just edited in from previous films but we do get quite a bit of actual footage including a funny bit with the ladies wanting Stewart's autograph and not realizing that he's sitting in front of them.
    Just Suppose (1948)

    Dave O'Brien

    Just suppose who came home to greet your wife the way detectives do in a film noir. Just suppose men selected their hats the same way women their dresses. Just suppose men were the ones who had babies. And just suppose the roles of parents were switched with their kids. Those four supposes are the comedy stories in this Pete Smith short that once again features Dave O'Brien as the bumbling fool who is constantly getting himself in trouble. The best of the four stories is without question the first one with the husband coming home acting tough and cool but he has a rude awakening coming. The one with the parents and kids roles reversed was also quite funny with O'Brien really shining here. The one I didn't care too much for what the hat as I felt this one went on way too long and never really had any good laughs. As usual we have Smith delivering very funny narration but a lot of credit has to go to O'Brien and his comic timing as an actor.

    Seesaw and the Shoes, The (1945)

    Douglas Foster

    Another nice entry in MGM's Passing Parade series with this one taking a look at two simple items that led to major discoveries. The first deals with a doctor who sees two kids playing on a seesaw and this leads to him discovering the stethoscope. The second deals with shoes and how a man finally discovered the way to make rubber after many failed attempts and even a turn in jail. To be honest with you I don't think either story is the greatest out there and that's probably why they were turned into just one film instead of being made into two. That's not to say these are weak stories but I don't think either one carried enough drama to warrant their own movie. With that said, their still interesting enough to warrant four-minutes each and as usual the filmmakers do a nice job at telling the story and John Nesbitt's narration is wonderful as usual. I think the best of the two stories has to belong to the seesaw as it does contain a nice little twist as to how the discovery was made.
     
  20. Tarkin The Ewok

    Tarkin The Ewok Supporting Actor

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    The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): 4/5

    This science fiction classic holds up today because of its marvelous acting, script, and music. The special effects hold up pretty well, especially the animation. The themes are unfortunately still as relevant today as ever.

    Probably the only thing that strikes me as false in the film is the security. Escape from the hospital and Klaatu's trip back to the spaceship are surprisingly easy, yet an all-points bulletin corners him for the climax. Such a major event would not calm down so fast within the first week and then pick back up like it did on a tip from an insurance salesman. These logistical concerns are very minor, though, and addressing them would likely detract from the powerful, lean narrative.
     

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