Monday, September 16, 2019
Sunday, September 15, 2019
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Thursday, September 12, 2019
, he soon finds himself in the middle of a political conspiracy that makes him a wanted man by both the police and assassins. Directed by Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE), its far-fetched plot and lapses are easily forgivable when it's so well made. Davis whips up some authentic tension and you'll find yourself glued to the screen. I really liked Joanna Cassidy as Hackman's ex-wife. She's a smart cookie and nothing gets by her when even Hackman's hero makes some dumb mistakes. For a paranoid conspiracy thriller, Hackman's not paranoid enough! I groaned several times thinking, "What the hell is he doing"? It's pulp but its choice pulp. With John Heard, Pam Grier (not enough screen time), Reni Santoni and Dennis Franz.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
, an American book editor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) moves into the home of an old woman (Vanessa Redgrave) and her spinster niece (Joely Richardson) under false pretenses. What he really wants are the letters of the long deceased poet (Jon Kortajarena) who was once the old woman's lover. Based on the 1888 novella by Henry James and directed by Julian Landais. Although it has James Ivory (A ROOM WITH A VIEW) as one of its executive producers, the film was not well received and received only a very limited release in the U.S. early this year. Most of the complaints were aimed toward the movie's methodical pacing which is meticulously slow. I had no problem with the film's pacing. It was the painful performance of the colorless Jonathan Rhys Meyers who recites his lines as if he learned them phonetically. Redgrave steals every scene she's in but if the film belongs to anyone, it belongs to Richardson who brings shading and layers to her spinster. The shimmering cinematography is courtesy of Philippe Guilbert and there's a superb score by Vincent Carlo. With Lois Robbins and Poppy Delevingne.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
, he marries her. But the spirit of his dead wife, possibly in the form of a black cat, refuses to let him go and haunts his very existence as well as that of the new wife. The screenplay by Robert Towne (CHINATOWN) is based on the short story LIGEIA by Edgar Allan Poe and directed by Roger Corman. While not in the league of MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH or FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER, this is one of the better Poe adaptations directed by Corman and starring Vincent Price. Alas, it can't sustain itself and by the film's finale, it seems to have exhausted itself. The subject of necrophilia is tastefully handled (or as tastefully as a subject like that can be dealt with) but perhaps it might have worked better with a younger actor than Price. Once again, black cats are used as instruments of evil. Won't the poor creatures ever get a break? The film is rich in atmosphere thanks to cinematographer Arthur Grant (QUATERMASS AND THE PIT). With John Westbrook and Derek Francis.
, a strong and independent woman (Faye Dunaway) refuses the offers of a major oil conglomerate for her oil well (which has yet to produce any oil). But with only her estranged father (John Mills) and a hired drifter (George C. Scott) to help her, how long can she hold out? Directed by Stanley Kramer (JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG), Marc Norman's weak screenplay and Kramer's colorless direction defeat the film before it even has a chance to get started. Two things in its favor: Dunaway is quite good in one of her least mannered performances and Robert Surtees' (BEN-HUR) wide screen Panavision cinematography which makes even the most commonplace images look wonderful. I'm not a fan of Kramer's "hit you over the head" message films but fortunately, he's does no proselytizing here. There's a dreadful folksy underscore by Henry Mancini that I could have done without. With Jack Palance and Rafael Campos.
Monday, September 9, 2019
, a drunk (Burgess Meredith), an aging surfer (Brian Kerwin) and an ex-drug runner (Thomas Byrd). But tensions rise when the two young bucks fight for the girl's attention and greed starts to poison the venture. Directed by Dick Lowry, this tale of a falling out among thieves when greed and lust sets in is something we've seen countless times before and the cliches are in full force here. We know what's going to happen even before the characters do and if they had any brains at all, they would see it coming too. The cinematographer James Pergola (POLICE ACADEMY 5) doesn't take full advantage of the lush Bahamas location. The camera spends most of its time ogling Brooke Shields in form fitting swimsuits. The droning synthesizer score is by Sylvester Levay.
Sunday, September 8, 2019
, a journalist (Richard Gere) for the Washington Post finds himself mysteriously drawn to a small West Virginia town. It is there that he discovers many of the town's residents have been beset with strange occurrences. In particular, the sighting of a strange moth-like entity. Based on the non fiction book by John Keel and directed by Mark Pellington (ARLINGTON ROAD). The biggest problem I had with the film is that although the film claims that it is based on "true events", what the movie does is attribute supernatural elements to a real life disaster when, in fact, there was nothing supernatural about it. It's like doing a movie about the Titanic and claiming its sinking was due to witchcraft! For a horror film (which is what this is), it's a slow moving affair without any tension or sense of horror. It's flabby and needed some tightening up, something a good editor should have done. Even then, I'm not so sure it could have been saved. Poorly done all around. With Laura Linney, Alan Bates, Will Patton and Lucinda Jenney.
, a "typical" English family adjusts to the horror of war as it slowly encroaches on their turf. Based on the novel by Jan Struther and directed by William Wyler. During WWII, Hollywood did their bit for the war effort by making propaganda films to boost the morale of the country. Most of them took place in actual battle zones but a handful of films like SINCE YOU WENT AWAY and this one focused on the home front. MRS. MINIVER doesn't get much love these days but I think it's a fine film. Of course, this isn't a typical English family at all, just Hollywood's idea of one. But it shows the courage and tenacity of those who lived under the terror of German bombings, often seeing their loved ones killed and their homes destroyed. Never sure of when their turn will come. It's melodramatic and contrived to a point yes but there's still a nobility about it. It's Oscar win for best film is understandable if debatable although I have no problem with Greer Garson's win playing the title character. The nation took the film to its heart and the movie was a huge box hit. With Walter Pidgeon, Richard Ney, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Henry Wilcoxon and Henry Travers.
, a small group of survivors gather and attempt to formulate a plan to survive as killer robots patrol the streets. Directed by Hammer veteran Terence Fisher (BRIDES OF DRACULA), this low budget sci-fi horror seems a retread of the superior TARGET EARTH released ten years earlier. The two (very) mature leads are veterans of supporting and small roles in films of the 50s and 60s, Willard Parker (KISS ME KATE) and Virginia Field (WATERLOO BRIDGE). The best thing about the film is its great title and nothing in the movie lives up to it. The robot's gear is pretty neat though. The film's score is by Elisabeth Lutyens, one of the earliest female composers in film. With Dennis Price, Vanda Godsell and Thorley Walters.
Saturday, September 7, 2019
, a director (John Houseman) and his crew and cast are surprised when six people suddenly emerge. First, on the TV monitor and then "in person" on the set. The six are characters in an unfinished play looking for an author to complete their story. Based on the play by Luigi Pirandello and directed by the actor Stacy Keach. The theatrical setting of Pirandello's play has been updated to a TV studio. While the TV studio setting doesn't quite work, the casting of the stepdaughter (Beverly Todd in the play's best performance) and her two siblings (H.B. Barnum III, Claire Touchstone) with black actors gives the play an interesting dynamic. Like Pirandello's play, the production examines the fine line between Art and reality, how illusion is simply that and how an actor's interpretation of a role or a director's vision can often distort the reality of a character's truth to serve the production. A character's truth is on the page but once taken and put into the service of play's production or filmization, it is no longer theirs. There's no underscore but Jerry Goldsmith composed the title credit to Saul Bass's main title. With Andy Griffith, Julie Adams, James Keach, Laurence Hugo, Timothy Blake and Patricia Hitchcock.
, a Colorado rancher (William Holden) goes to Mexico in pursuit of the man (Warren Vanders) responsible. Since the man is protected by Comanche Indians, he helps a group of convicts to escape and pays them to ride with him. Directed by Daniel Mann (COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA), this is a preposterous and sloppy western. It's a Peckinpah wannabe but without Peckinpah's visionary boldness and artistry. It plays out more like a poor American imitation of a spaghetti western. The film comes alive in its last 12 minutes with a very good battle between the "revengers" and U.S. Cavalry against the attacking Comanches. There's a horrendous anachronistic underscore by Pino Calvi which sounds like pop versions of Ennio Morricone's scores. Some of the acting is pretty bad including Ernest Borgnine at his scenery chewing worst. With Susan Hayward (in her final film role), Woody Strode, Arthur Hunnicutt, Reinhard Kolldehoff, Roger Hanin and Larry Pennell.
Thursday, September 5, 2019
, Dean Jagger, Ben Cooper, Hayden Rorke and Douglas Kennedy.