Heroes of the East

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    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon May 05, 2014 10:57 am

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:Love Parade (1963: Ching Doe: Hong Kong)
    ... The plot itself is a rather pedestrian romantic comedy where almost every review I have read notes of the similarities between the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films. There is also a too quick reconciliation at the end that just does not work. Lin Dai’s character is rather annoying, though her acting is good, and if they have issues that early in the marriage just imagine what might happen later.
    ...

    After watching Pillow Talk over the weekend I can further comment on some of the similarities (though I do want to watch a few more of the Day/Hudson pairings): the obstetrician scene from Love Parade is taken from Pillow Talk, though Pillow Talk uses it as a running gag. The use of the horrible outfit design is analogous to the horrible apartment design in Pillow Talk. The King Hu third wheel character has some similarities to the Tony Randall character. So Pillow Talk is definitely an influence, though this film you might not consider a remake of because of the use of mistaken identity in PT and the whole marriage plot in LP which give both films a different spin.

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Fri May 23, 2014 9:29 pm

    Where Eagles Dare (1968) B+

    Ludicrous from the word go but undeniably gorgeous to look at and for whatever its absurdities we'll take this level of action-adventure nonsense over most of the wastes-of-space on the marquee over the average summer movie season these days.

    The Conversation (1974) B

    A timely revisit but I've just never connected with this film in the same way so many others have who consider it on par with other Francis Ford Coppola offerings of that era.

    They Were Expendable (1945) A-

    The Trials of Darryl Hunt (2006) A-

    Another great documentary chronicling the personal and judicial trials of a wrongly convicted man a la "The Thin Blue Line," "Paradise Lost," "Murder on a Sunday Morning."

    Society (1989) B-

    Currently out of circulation horror-comedy poking fun at just how truly disgusting the upper class can be.

    Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) B-

    When this poorly edited sequel comes into alignment with its predecessor -- which is just often enough -- it feels almost as satisfying as it did nearly a decade ago.

    In a World... (2013) C+

    The conflict-resolves are frighteningly easy even for a 93 min independent comedy and especially for one critics generally favored. The bright spots, however, include some well-staged dramatic passages, plenty of good performances, and writer/producer/director/star Lake Bell aping the voice of today's 20-something female.

    Baby Doll (1956) A

    Profoundly disturbing, for the times, Tennessee Williams white trash black comedy. Eli Wallach makes his feature film debut and steals the show from his co-star the great Karl Malden.

    Nebraska (2013) A

    Yet another great Alexander Payne comedy-drama set on the road to self-discovery and fulfillment.

    Adventures in Babysitting (1987) B

    One of those Chris Columbus mall movies of the 80's that have for whatever reason remained a blind spot especially for someone who grew-up in the Midwest during the era of its popularity (the adventure takes place first in the suburbs before relocating to Chicago proper). Well, I'm happy to say it holds up!

    The Big Sleep (1946) A

    Not even Raymond Chandler, who wrote the book the film is based upon, could figure out who the killer was in this notoriously confusing whodunit but as everyone from Kael to Ebert has pointed out: It ain't about the killer rather it's about all those moments within the mystery that makes this complex film noir (made even more complicated by having to turn some of the novel's more lurid details into subtexts) a classic.

    X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) B

    While I wish the filmmakers would have stayed with the original idea of having the film set exclusively in the 1970's to better align itself with the social upheavals that are simpatico with the struggles of these Marvel superheroes this one is fun enough and thankfully spends most of its time recalling the days of "X-Men: First Class" (2011) -- the only X-Men film to really get it right. Peter Dinklage co-starring as a self-hater, once again, damn near walks away with the whole show.

    Cockfighter (1974) B-

    Another great performance by the late Warren Oates. If you love this off-color white trash odyssey take solace in the fact that it likely won't be remade or at least any time soon that is.

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Sat Jun 07, 2014 6:57 pm

    Bit overdue for an update from me (can't believe my last "listing" post in this thread was back in February!), but life's been getting in the way an awful lot these past few months. Thankfully, the movies have kept me sane! Smile Probably not hitting the record numbers I was during the winter, but things are tentatively returning to normal now, so hopefully I can attack the stacks with more regularity going forward. Anyway, here's what's occupied my precious few free moments the past few months, starting with the most recent:

    THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012) 7/10

    THE LONE RANGER (2013) 7/10

    MADIGAN'S MILLIONS (1968) 4/10
    This Dustin Hoffman's first picture (shot in '66), exhumed on a Troma DVD picked up cheap at Oldies.com. Got it more out of curiosity than anything. It's a lowbrow Italian comedy so common to the era (or any era over there, really), though Hoffman's definitely got something.

    THE MESSENGERS (2007) 5/10
    Stateside debut of Hong Kong's Pang Brothers. Better than I figured it would be, but like a lot of their movies, there's not much behind the sharp visuals.

    3 DAYS TO KILL (2014) 5/10
    One of Kevin Costner's three largely unsuccessful comeback vehicles from earlier this year. Haven't seen the others, but hopefully they're better than this. Foregrounding the "family" storyline is fine and all, but not when the "espionage" plot that really drives the show is as poorly formed as it is here. There are SO many ways this could've been trimmed to a lean 90 minute thriller.

    VIOLENT SATURDAY (1955) 8/10
    Excellent crime thriller in which a bank robbery has effects on several of the sordid 'Peyton Place'-style lives of several of the town's citizens. Twilight Time's DVD is a non-anamorphic affair, apparently because of issues with the source material available at the time, but they've recently announced a Blu-ray edition that could be well worth picking up.

    THE CHAIRMAN (1969) 6/10
    Gregory Peck is somewhat miscast a spy sent to China to retrieve the formula for a valuable agricultural enzyme, but discovers (surprise, surprise) that Mao doesn't really keep his promises. Ben Maddow's screenplay showcases some thought-provoking East-vs-West discussions between characters (siding with the western view, of course), but my main reason for purchasing this was to see one more movie filmed on the streets of contemporary Hong Kong. In that sense, this one doesn't disappoint. Great shots of Peck wandering around the city on his way to the hotel, with the usual real Hong Kongers crowding into the background of every shot! Smile

    SWAMP WATER (1941) 7/10

    THE CROODS (2013) 7/10

    PREFECT STRANGERS (1984) 5/10
    Lesser Larry Cohen picture about an assassin befriending the mother of a young boy who witnessed his latest kill suffers from a starvation budget and performers probably more noted for their work in New York fringe circles than their actual acting talent. One GREAT scene, though, has lead actress Anne Carlisle (from LIQUID SKY) and the actor playing her ex-husband enacting a snarling argument in the middle of a busy New York sidewalk filled with REAL passers by, while Cohen films from cameras placed a mile away. The rawness of this scene reminds me of so many similar sequences in Hong Kong cinema, where's it always easier to throw your actors into REAL crowds and see what happens.

    THE FALLEN IDOL (1948) 8/10
    Good movie, but I really wanted to kill that kid.

    THE MONUMENTS MEN (2014) 7/10

    ROAD TO UTOPIA (1945) 8/10
    ROAD TO MOROCCO (1942) 8/10
    ROAD TO ZANZIBAR (1941) 8/10
    ROAD TO SINGAPORE (1940) 7/10

    WHORES' GLORY (documentary; 2011) 7/10
    Documentary about the lives of prostitutes in Thailand, Bangladesh and Mexico is a real eye-opener, but troubling in how far director Michael Glawogger seems willing to go to exploit the exploited. At times, it veers close enough to outright drama to call his intentions (a jump to features, perhaps?) and methods into serious question.

    BIG (1988) 7/10

    AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY (2013) 8/10

    CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2 (2013) 6/10

    CLOSED CIRCUIT (2013) 7/10

    THE DISAPPEARANCE (1977) 7/10
    One of the more unique items on the Twilight Time label, a made-and-set-in-Canada thriller that's actually half decent (and with an interesting production history behind it), about a Montreal hitman (Donald Sutherland) who takes on a new assignment shrouded in mystery that may have connections to the disappearance of his wife.

    PHILOMENA (2013) 9/10

    SGT. BILKO (1996) 7/10
    THE BORROWERS (1997) 7/10
    THE WIZARD (1989) 5/10
    CLOAK AND DAGGER (1984)
    Four lesser pictures that long held low placement on my curiosity list. A recently-released 10-film bargain pack of older second-tier Universal properties made it easy to get them off it.

    THE ACT OF KILLING (2012) 9/10
    A monumental jaw-dropper in which some of the men responsible for mass killings during Indonesia's anti-communist purge in the mid-1960's re-enact their horrific crimes—almost entirely free of guilt, irony or persecution—in the styles of the Hollywood classics they worshiped in their youth.

    G-FORCE (2009) 6/10

    HOME ON THE RANGE (2004) 7/10

    Something Weird Double Feature:
    LOST, LONELY AND VICIOUS (1958) 4/10
    JACKTOWN (1962)

    Something Weird Triple Feature:
    JENNIE, WIFE/CHILD (1968) 5/10
    SOD SISTERS (aka MOONSHINE LOVE) (1969) 3/10
    COMMON LAW WIFE (1963)

    EXPERIMENT IN TERROR (1962) 8/10

    TRUCKIN' MAN (1975) 3/10
    THEY CALL ME MACHO WOMAN (1991) 3/10
    A couple of Troma Team pickups that aren't anywhere near as interesting as their sleazy posters. Viewed on their official YouTube channel, which is well stocked with full-length features.

    ANCHORMAN 2 (2013) 6/10

    THE DOMINO PRINCIPLE (1977) 6/10
    THE CASSANDRA CROSSING (1976) 6/10

    THE CROWDED SKY (1960) 5/10

    SATURN 3 (1980) 5/10

    BLACK DEVIL DOLL (2007) 3/10
    Sad blaxploitation riff -- with a puppet harhar -- that substitutes constant profanity for actual wit.

    DAMNATION ALLEY (1977) 6/10

    THE MESSENGER: THE STORY OF JOAN OF ARC (1999) 6/10

    BLACK SHEEP (New Zealand; 2006) 8/10

    CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER (2014) 8/10

    STORM WARNING (2007) 4/10

    THE FUGITIVE KIND (1960) 7/10

    AMERICAN CHINATOWN (1996) 2/10

    MEA MAXIMA CULPA: SILENCE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD (Documentary; 2012) 8/10

    WEST OF MEMPHIS (2012) 8/10

    FRENCH CANCAN (1954) 9/10
    ELENA AND HER MEN (1956) 7/10

    BEAUTY AND THE DEVIL (1950) 8/10

    ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012) 9/10

    GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL (1957) 8/10

    THE BROWNING VERSION (1951) 9/10

    THE SHAGGY DOG (1959) 7/10
    THE SHAGGY D.A. (1976) 6/10
    THE UGLY DACHSHUND (1966) 8/10

    SUMMER WITH MONIKA (1953) 8/10

    STONE OF DESTINY (2008) 7/10

    KON TIKI (Documentary; 1950) 8/10

    SPRING BREAKERS (2012) 6/10

    CELESTE & JESSE FOREVER (2012) 8/10

    SUPERHEROES: A NEVER ENDING BATTLE (Documentary Series; 2013) 7-8/10

    THIS MEANS WAR (2012) 5/10

    BREAKIN' (1984) 6/10
    BREAKIN' 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO (1984) 5/10
    BEAT STREET (1984) 6/10

    THIEF (1981) 8/10

    HOMEFRONT (2013) 7/10

    STAY AWAY, JOE (1968) 3/10
    Possibly the worst of all the Elvis movies, though I still have a few to go to complete the checklist!

    TRANCE (2013) 8/10

    HOTEL TERMINUS (Documentary; 1988) 8/10

    STOKER (2013) 6/10

    MR. GO (Korea; 2013) 6/10

    LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1955) 7/10

    THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES (1961) 6/10

    NAZIS AT THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH (2012) 4/10

    THE GREAT GATSBY (2013) 7/10

    PONYO (2008) 8/10

    CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (1960) 8/10

    ISLAND IN THE SUN (1957)

    MR. RICCO (1975) 6/10

    FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS (Documentary; 2011) 7/10

    MONTEREY POP (Documentary; 1968) 8/10

    22 BULLETS (France; 2010) 7/10

    EMPIRE OF PASSION (Japan; 1978) 7/10

    THE GNOME-MOBILE (1967) 7/10

    PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS (2013) 6/10

    THE PAPERBOY (2012) 7/10

    THE RAVEN (2013) 6/10

    CHARULATA (India; 1964) 9/10

    THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA (Japan; 1983) 8/10

    NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD (Australia; 2008) 8/10

    CLASS OF 1984 (1982) 7/10

    THE COLONY (2013) 6/10

    ARGO (2012) 7/10

    THE BANK DICK (1940) 7/10

    COMEDY OF POWER (France; 2006) 7/10

    LE JOUR DE CORNEILLES aka THE DAY OF THE CROWS (France; Animated; 2012) 7/10

    LAST VEGAS (2013) 7/10

    CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013) 8/10

    NORWEGIAN WOOD (2010) 7/10

    KHARTOUM (1966) 8/10

    ZULU (1964) 9/10

    LES BONNE FEMMES (France; 1960) 8/10

    THE LIFE OF OHARU (Japan; 1952) 9/10

    MR. NOBODY (2009) 9/10

    THE INHERITANCE (Japan; 1962) 9/10

    STRANGER THAN PARADISE (1984) 8/10

    AROUND THE WORLD UNDER THE SEA (1966) 6/10

    PARTY GIRL (1958) 8/10

    SHE (1965) 7/10

    STEP BROTHERS (2008) 7/10

    THE BERMUDA DEPTHS (1978) 7/10

    CITY BENEATH THE SEA (1971) 7/10

    A SEPARATION (2011) 10/10

    FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (2007) 4/10

    PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974) 8/10

    THE MUSIC ROOM (India; 1958) 9/10

    THE UNINVITED (1944) 9/10

    THE END OF SUMMER (Japan; 1961) 9/10

    MADIGAN (1968) 6/10

    NO BLADE OF GRASS (1970) 6/10

    [b]RED HILL
    (Australia; 2010) 7/10

    DEATH SENTENCE (2007) 6/10

    DANTE 01 (France; 2008) 5/10

    BETTER LUCK TOMORROW (2002) 8/10

    AMERICAN GOTHIC (1988) 6/10

    PULSE (1988) 3/10

    THE NUMBERS STATION (2013) 6/10

    CONTRABAND (2012) 7/10

    EDGE OF DARKNESS (2010) 7/10

    EARLY SPRING (Japan; 1956) 9/10

    TOKYO TWILIGHT (Japan; 1957)

    IMDB ratings count: 5,777

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:07 pm

    Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:After watching Pillow Talk over the weekend I can further comment on some of the similarities (though I do want to watch a few more of the Day/Hudson pairings): the obstetrician scene from Love Parade is taken from Pillow Talk, though Pillow Talk uses it as a running gag.  The use of the horrible outfit design is analogous to the horrible apartment design in Pillow Talk. The King Hu third wheel character has some similarities to the Tony Randall character.  So Pillow Talk is definitely an influence, though this film you might not consider a remake of because of the use of mistaken identity in PT and the whole marriage plot in LP which give both films a different spin.

    Bit late to reply on this one, but good to know the connection was legit. I suspect a lot of those bubblegum 60's Hong Kong confections owe a debt or two to Hollywood shows of the era. Your mention of the "marriage plot" in LP versus the mistaken identity plot in PT has me vaguely remembering an article I have (in a book? a magazine?) discussing the prevailing tendency of Hong Kong/Chinese pictures to revolve around maintaining the status quo of marriage/family hierarchy as much if not more than U.S. pictures of the period. Of course, I'm REALLY paraphrasing there, as I know it will be a long while before I need to reference that piece again, but I know I've got it somewhere. Smile

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Jun 10, 2014 10:55 am

    Brian T wrote:...
    Bit late to reply on this one, but good to know the connection was legit. I suspect a lot of those bubblegum 60's Hong Kong confections owe a debt or two to Hollywood shows of the era. Your mention of the "marriage plot" in LP versus the mistaken identity plot in PT has me vaguely remembering an article I have (in a book? a magazine?) discussing the prevailing tendency of Hong Kong/Chinese pictures to revolve around maintaining the status quo of marriage/family hierarchy as much if not more than U.S. pictures of the period. Of course, I'm REALLY paraphrasing there, as I know it will be a long while before I need to reference that piece again, but I know I've got it somewhere. Smile

    Brian in a forum it is never too late Very Happy.

    Some are downright remakes without stating they are remakes like Madam Slender Plum Very Happy. Find that article.

    If you have not read I have a full length review in the Hollywood section of the second Captain America. I also believe I have a newer (well wrote it in April) Shaw Brothers review as well (that you might not have read.)

    Passage to Marseille (1944: Michael Curtiz):

    This movie has a flashback within a flashback within a flashback. An advanced narrative technique especially for Hollywood 1940s. I thought that aspect worked fine (seriously no where near as difficult as say Memento), though I wonder how it played out to audiences in the 1940s.

    James Wong Howe is such a brilliant cameraman. There are several outstanding scenes of not just German Expressionist chiaroscuro, but movement and placement as well. I've just read several reviews on this and they do not mention him making me think he is quite underrated. Every time I see his name as the cinematographer I know the film will at least look good.

    I think the firing on the downed Germans from Bogie's character was kind of a sour point, but you can see several parts of the film that skirt production code especially since this was a propaganda film (one of the Frenchman was an escaped wife killer with an axe nevertheless.) I do wonder if Bogie's war crime was possibly a reason for it not being mentioned much today (though if you know the code you can pretty much guess Bogie character's fate). If more was made of it in the script it would have worked, but it was quickly forgotten leaving a distaste for some brilliant scenes beforehand.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Jul 02, 2014 12:31 pm

    The Housemaid (1960: Kim Ki-young: South Korea)

    This is now the oldest Korean film I have seen. A couple of reels are pretty poor here (this is talked about in the Scorsese extra as well as the essay link below) which might be the reason it did not get a standalone release. This is only the second South Korean release from Criterion with Secret Sunshine (2007) being the first. But I would consider this a more important release that probably should have been standalone, but it is part of a very nice boxset Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project.

    You have a pretty good idea what is going to happen in the crux of this story by years of movie conditioning. An unknown maid is hired in a claustrophobic house with an apparently well-liked middle age man (not sure why all the females are falling for him as his presence is so-so) who has a traditional wife with an extra job sewing and two children with the daughter partially disabled. But sometimes you might wonder why the characters behave as they do except for the social commentary of trying to cling to position, job, social status at the cost of dignity, life and sound mind. You get a feeling of Douglas Sirk mixed with Hiroshi Teshigahara (or even a little of Luis Bunuel like The Exterminating Angel) as the events unfold as the characters seem to have little control (say like firing the maid.) You may wonder why keep rat poison in the household if you are going to stress over it constantly.

    But it is a thoroughly watchable film and an important one in Korean cinema.

    The ending reminds me of Abbas Kiarostami’s Taste of Cherry though more didactic and thoroughly Brechtian (Verfremdungseffekt)* ending. It feels like it comes out of nowhere, but it might have been done to satisfy the censors after all the “horror” that preceded it. A wink-wink and a “be careful” warning of what you might get yourself into if you hire a pretty and crazy maid. Though one might also consider not keeping the rat poison, especially in the kitchen cupboard next to the food and other medicine bottle that look just like it.

    The Housemaid was later remade in 2010 by Im Sang-soo (which I have not seen.) Can anyone compare the two?

    * This term is often overused in film analysis describing any “breaking the fourth wall” scene. I tend to only use it when it combines direct audience content with a didactic intent which I believe is what Brecht originally intended for this idea. Also, there are so many windows used on the set that you accidently get to see the crew in many scenes.

    Martin Scorsese Interview (2:17m): Small little introduction where he talks about the major Korean directors he first saw before getting into earlier ones like Kim Ki-young. I like that he mentions that you can see some of this in later horror films like Whispering Corridors (I have not seen) and A Tale of Two Sisters (I have seen.) A kinship with Whispering Well (?) as well as Poe’s writings. Two reels of original negative was lost and talks about removing subtitles from an English print.

    Bong Joon-ho on the Housemaid (15:03m): Talks about director who had a cult following in the 1990s. He compares him to Shohei Imamura and Luis Bunuel. Film made right before military dictatorship (Park Chung-hee unlike Chun Doo –hwan). With his talk about hair length it reminds me of the lengths (of hair) imposed still on North Korea. Talks about stairs and how it represents upper middle class because of the two-story house. The same goes for the piano. Housekeeper = monster. Single young women from out of Seoul would do maid jobs in big city. Director remade the same film three times. His talk on the ending echoes some of my statements above.

    The Housemaid: Crossing Borders (by Kyung Hyun Kim): “Of the thirty-two feature films Kim made in the course of his career, only twenty-two survive intact. His first picture, Box of Death (1955), miraculously turned up at the Washington National Records Center in Maryland in 2011, without its sound reel, and a twenty-minute portion of Touch-Me-Not (1956) was recently recovered, but eight films still remain missing altogether.”

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:32 pm

    The Longest Day (1962) A-

    Zulu (1964) A-

    Willow Creek (2013) C+

    The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) C+

    Body Double (1984) B

    Devil's Knot (2013) C+

    Lone Survivor (2013) B

    Blue Caprice (2013) B

    Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964) C+

    Spiritual Kung Fu (1978) C-

    Dragnet (1987) C

    Sharknado (2013) F

    The Woman Who Wasn't There (2012) B


    I had originally written down my thoughts on each film but I accidentally hit the back button at a certain point and lost everything -- including an hour and any ambition to begin all over again.

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:27 pm

    Oldboy (2013) C+

    Universally maligned remake of Park Chan-wook's popular off-color manga inspired mystery of the same name from the unlikeliest of directors isn't quite as bad as you might have heard but had its South Korean counterpart never existed Spike Lee's "Oldboy" would hardly stand on its own two feet as a solid thriller; even some of the plot alterations employed to throw off initiated audiences -- surely to have been completely excised had Steven Spielberg and Will Smith gotten their mitts on the rights as they once planned to -- are delivered with a thud in this otherwise watchable but vastly inferior remake.

    Snowpiercer (2013) C+

    A great set-up and strong first half gradually give way to my suspension of disbelief being completely eroded in the great Bong Joon-ho's first [mostly] English language film which has all the hallmarks of a future cult classic.

    Jodorowsky's Dune (2013) B+

    Cult Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who inadvertently gave birth to the midnight movie with "El Topo," looks back at his wet dream of bringing Frank Herbert's Dune to the big screen with enthusiasm, nostalgia, and joy only turning sour when he recalls Hollywood refusing to fund his vision which he intended to be the drug sober audiences would consume to experience an LSD-like euphoria.

    Fatal Vision (1984) B

    Good TV miniseries adaptation of Joe McGinnis's controversial true crime classic about the equally controversial Green Beret and Princeton educated Dr. Jeffery MacDonald who was accused of and later convicted of killing his pregnant wife and two small daughters at their Fort Bragg apartment in February of 1970. MacDonald had hired McGinnis (who previously skewered the Nixon administration) to tell his story and was given full access to his 1979 defense but ultimately concluded MacDonald was in fact guilty. Actor Gary Cole, who studied acting a couple blocks from where I live, stars as MacDonald in his first big role. The late great Karl Malden co-stars as MacDonald's father-in-law who went from the doctor's biggest supporter to a decade-long quest to have him prosecuted for the triple homicide after obtaining case files from the Army's original investigation.

    Dawn of The Planet of the Apes (2014) B

    An anachronistic title, an occasional loss of momentum, and not enough co-star Gary Oldman is really the only shortcomings in this otherwise respectable entry in what has to be the most venerable re-imagining we've seen in a world overpopulated by dim adaptations, unnecessary reboots, disappointing prequels/sequels, and generally awful remakes. Some of the film's dialogue is just as good as its wonderful special effects.

    Life Itself (2014) A-

    Occasionally fluffy but generally even-keeled documentary and otherwise touching portrait of America's film critic Roger Ebert that will leave you feeling a number of different emotions as Ebert's life story (based on his memoir of the same name) is inter-cut with profiling his declining health and his impending death. I was often at odds with Ebert's posturing, reasoning, and ultimate conclusions on film but I never missed his columns -- he was just that good of a writer and when we came into alignment every so often he could be brilliant and "Life Itself" captures this and more.

    The Unknown Known (2014) A-

    "Morris is admirably evenhanded, never demonizing his subject, but giving him enough rope to hang himself. Rumsfeld, cool and bemused, refuses to knot the noose." Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune.

    Mr. Covert has honed in on what makes this documentary great in the face of criticism that Errol Morris failed to duplicate his excellent "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara" (2003).

    Grudge Match (2013) D+

    Secret Iraq (2010) A-

    Great two-part BBC documentary on how The United States and Coalition Forces failed in Iraq a la the equally great "No End in Sight" (2007).

    Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones (1980) B

    Powers Booth becomes cult leader Jim Jones from struggling preacher and outspoken critic of capitalism and racism to the provocateur of the largest mass suicide in U.S. history in this well-made TV miniseries that disturbingly lifts dialogue almost verbatim from Jones final suicide pact speech he audio recorded which was one of the few things that survived the tragedy.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:38 am

    7th Cavalry (1956: Joseph H. Lewis): I am a big Randolph Scott fan so I will pretty much watch anything with him in it.  The movie’s cinematography and is done by a Joseph H. Lewis who is known for film noirs such as The Big Combo and Gun Crazy (I like this film quite a bit.)  I just found out right now that he directed fifty-one episodes of The Rifleman a series I have been watching recently.  If the movie just had a better ending I would have been happier with it.  The plot is solid though with Randolph Scott as Capt. Tom Benson in a typical stoic role who had been on leave to get his fiancé to bring back to the fort.  However, in the meantime General Custer had led his men (and others) to the infamous Little Big Horn (FYI: June 25–26, 1876).  He returns to an empty fort and a battered reputation as he is accused of avoiding combat and his life is seen as an affront to the living wives of the lost soldiers.  In order to gain his reputation back he accepts a mission from the President Grant (though his name was not used) to gather the bodies of the dead mean for proper burial.  However that land has become holy to the Sioux.

    This might make a good double-header with the also historically incorrect They Died With Their Boots On (1941: Raoul Walsh) with Errol Flynn as General Custer.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
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    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:20 pm

    The Women (1939: George Cukor): If I can I like to go into a film with as little information as possible. I prefer watching the trailer after a movie and the same goes for extras (obviously when you study film you are going to go over spoilers Ad Nauseum, but I still try to avoid when I can.) As I was watching this it dawned on me that I did not see any men in the film – at all. An interesting approach as it gave a lot of actresses a chance to shine – even if much of the conversation was about men (I later saw in the trailer the title and parenthesized subtitle: “The Women” (AND IT IS ALL ABOUT MEN.)) Funny, that reminded me of the The Bechdel Test.

    Cukor was recently fired from Gone With the Wind* and this was his next assignment. He was known as a “women’s director” a title he did not like and felt that it hurt him in getting different type of directorial jobs. Not surprisingly you can glean salient information about him in Katharine Hepburn’s autobiography Me. Cukor does an admirable job in this film. I do feel there is too much “men talk” in the film and I can see how some might think of this film as sexist because in some scenes it is as it appears that marriage is the ultimate goal for women – though it is true that some women would think like these characters.

    It is a rather simple plot. Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford) is the conniving man-stealer who is going after Mary’s (Norma Shearer) husband. Joan is good in her role, but it is really Rosalind Russell’s portrayal of Sylvia that steals the show for me. She is a relative of Mary and really is the catalyst for many events in the film. Crystal is honest is what she is trying to accomplish, Sylvia is a nefarious Janus. She has this hatred of Mary that is almost Iago-to-Othello in scope. It is jealousy tinged with an evilness that was impressive. You do not want to have friends and/or relatives like her. But for some reason her group of friends kept hanging around her. Maybe for laughs.

    The end wraps up too neatly for the events that preceded.

    * A rumor was around that it was because Clark Gable did not want to work with a gay director. This is most likely false as it appears that it really was disconnect between producer David O. Selznick and Cukor. Regardless, Cukor’s reputation was not hurt (from this firing/leaving) and he would continue to be highly sought after for quite some time.

    George Cukor TCM Biography
    The Women Trailer

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:21 am

    Another belated update, but I'm still chugging along up here, finally making decent headway through my stacks (and finally tossing a great number of these into the "sell" piles, too):

    MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013) 8/10

    ONG BAK 3 (2010) 5/10
    Worrisome proof that Tony Jaa and the late Panna Ritakrai are/were one-trick ponies. Dedicated, highly skilled ones, but working with a comparatively small bag of tricks, all of which are hauled out and not really updated in this sequel.

    Some famed Aussie horrors from a boxed set I picked up cheap from Oldies.com
    STRANGE BEHAVIOUR (1981) 6/10
    PATRICK (1978) 7/10
    THIRST (1979) 7/10

    ALL IS LOST (2013) 7/10
    I had hoped this would be better, but watching Redford, in a decent but rote performance, make one mistake after another was tiring. Maybe that was the point -- an old guy fulfilling his dream of sailing the world but possessed of something less than the requisite survival skills -- but it beggars belief after a while.

    THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985) 5/10
    Can't say I understand the cult appeal of this one. The outsized grassroots following that crops up around the lead character's silly antics just doesn't make sense. Well, perhaps it did to the hermetically-sealed execs who greenlit the project . . .

    TRAILER PARK BOYS: DON'T LEGALIZE IT (2014) 8/10

    THE QUILLER MEMORANDUM (1966) 7/10
    Respectable spy thriller with a corker of an ending

    JOE (1970) 8/10

    THE YELLOW ROLLS-ROYCE (1964) 6/10

    BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (2013) 9/10

    ENEMY MINE (1985) 6/10

    SMILE (1975) 9/10
    One of the great -- and seemingly nearly-forgotten -- social satires of the 1970's. How does this one not turn up on more lists?

    INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU (1968) 5/10

    THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS (1956) 8/10

    4 FOR TEXAS (1963) 6/10

    ROBIN AND THE 7 HOODS (1964) 7/10

    300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE (2014) 7/10

    ALEX RIDER: STORMBREAKER (2006) 4/10

    THE SECRET OF KELLS (2009) 8/10

    THE HOST (2013) 5/10
    Another YA adaptation indistinguishable in so many ways from all the others.

    PARANORMAL ACTIVITIES: THE MARKED ONES (2014) 6/10

    5 CARD STUD (1968) 7/10
    Pretty decent old-west murder mystery with Dean Martin and Robert Mitchum in fine form.

    GUMSHOE (1971) 7/10

    THE WARRIORS (1979) 8/10

    EXECUTIVE ACTION (1973) 6/10

    2016: OBAMA'S AMERICA (2012) 4/10

    PRISONERS (2013) 7/10

    RIDDICK (2013) 7/10

    SEPARATE TABLES (1958) 8/10

    THE GIFT (2000) 7/10

    SUPER DUPER ALICE COOPER (2014) 7/10
    Nothing new here, and it stops circa 1986, but it's a harmless (perhaps a it toothless) overview of the man's colourful career up to that point.

    PRETTY POISON (1968) 7/10

    CITIZEN X (1995) 9/10

    SALT AND PEPPER (1968) 5/10
    ONE MORE TIME (1970) 5/10
    Vanity vehicles for Rat Packers Sammy Davis and Peter Lawford. The second is probably slightly preferable as it's directed by Jerry Lewis (the only such effort in which he didn't also star) with a better eye for the gags than Richard Donner demonstrated on the first picture. Davis, in particular, is egregious in his overacting.

    MISHIMA: A LIFE IN FOUR CHAPTERS (1985) 9/10

    SABOTAGE (2014) 6/10

    STEP UP (2006) 6/10
    They keep making these, so I had to see what prompted it. Still can't see how this justified such a long-lived franchise, but it guess it has its audience.

    LAMBADA (1990) 3/10
    SALSA: THE MOVIE (1988) 5/10
    Two of the few remaining pictures on my Cannon Pictures curiosity list, particularly with Mark Hartley's ELECTRIC BOOGALOO just around the corner at TIFF. There's no way these two won't rate a mention there along with the RAPPIN' and BREAKIN' films, and frankly Shout Factory would do well to release some sort of Cannon Musicals multi-film set seeing as they very likely have access to them via the MGM/FOX catalog. They're among the most fun dumb movies of the era, even if all of them suck in their own special ways!

    TRUMBO (2007) 7/10

    WHAT A WAY TO GO! (1964) 8/10

    BAD WORDS (2013) 7/10

    THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT (2004) 5/10

    ESCAPE PLAN (2013) 7/10
    Gotta admit, I didn't see the twist coming, so it definitely wins points for that, along with Arnie's amusing performance.

    CAGED WOMEN (1991) 5/10

    DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2014) 5/10

    MALEFICENT (2014) 7/10

    SITTING TARGET (1972) 7/10
    Nihilistic companion piece to a film like GET CARTER.

    NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984) 7/10

    WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (1956) 7/10

    VALENTINE (2001) 3/10

    DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE GIRL BOMBS (1966) 2/10
    Awful, awful, awful vehicle for a couple of excruciatingly unfunny Italian comedians who do nothing but mug shamelessly and horribly throughout as they run up against Vincent Price's character from AIP's vastly superior DR. GOLDFOOT AND THE BIKINI MACHINE. I always wondered why MGM never released this as part of it's Midnight Madness series (where the first film resides). Now I know why. It's just dreadful, and the ever-game Price gives the material so much more than it deserves. Proof, too, that even Mario Bava can direct real shit.

    24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY (2014; Series) 8/10

    ELYSIUM (2013) 6/10
    Not bad, but could've been so much more than the standard us-vs.-the-1% routine, especially as it's "let's hate the capitalists" belief in unearned entitlements for the unwashed masses leaves an unpleasant aftertaste.

    THE PURGE (2013) 4/10
    The politics in this one kinda stink, too, and the central concept in which they're blatantly overstated makes no sense.

    RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH VOLUME 1 (2013) 5/10
    Typical puerile, sophomoric and goofily gory Troma fare, albeit with more accomplished (digital) photography than other recent shows (like POULTRYGEIST) and two lead actresses who not only disrobe and/or make out quite regularly, but can also act.

    THE FAMILY (2013) 5/10
    Labourious, mostly unfunny sitcom spin on American mafia movies from an apparently besotted Luc Besson. When Robert DeNiro's mob-snitch-relocated-to-France is invited by the local film society to discuss a famous old American movie—SOME CAME RUNNING—you just know that film will be replaced at the last minute with something from real-life actor DeNiro and producer Martin Scorcese's own canon. And then it happens. And something inside you dies a little.

    NIGHT WATCH (1973) 7/10
    As far as I know, this is Liz Taylor's only venture into horror territory, playing a wealthy widow who believes she spies a murder through the windows of the decaying gothic mansion that borders her garden, while second hubby Lawrence Harvey and best friend Billie Whitelaw suspect she's losing her mind. Solid Hammer-style whodunnit with a brilliant twist ending.

    BAD GRANDPA (2013) 8/10
    Were this just a straight narrative feature, I probably wouldn't have found it as uproarious as I did, especially considering Sasha Baron Cohen seemingly mined this vein dry in BORAT and BRUNO. Not as politically loaded as those two films, but just as provocative in other ways, never more so than when the protagonists hijack one of those creepy Little Miss Pageants.

    Q: THE WINGED SERPENT (1982) 6/10

    THE CRANES ARE FLYING (1957) 9/10

    SECRETARIAT (2010) 9/10

    GHOST IN THE SHELL: SOLID STATE SOCIETY (2006) 8/10

    ENDER'S GAME (2013) 7/10

    RED 2 (2013) 7/10

    CURSE, DEATH & SPIRIT (Japan; 1992)
    Made-for-TV anthology of horror tales, all fairly tame with bland video production value, but the third story, about three school girls vacationing at a haunted inn, almost directly foreshadows director Hideo Nakata's later phenomenon RING

    ROBOCOP (2014) 8/10
    Much better than I thought it would be, and possessed of an intellect mostly its own rather than just rehashing a superior original. Now if only they'd been able to make it with an R rating.

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME (1991) 7/10

    TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (2014) 5/10

    TURBO (2013) 6/10

    BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR (1967) 2/10

    SCHIZOID (1980) 5/10

    X-RAY (aka HOSPITAL MASSACRE) (1982) 4/10

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Thu Aug 21, 2014 9:37 am

    The Uninvited (1944: Lewis Allen):

    I am happy that this was finally released by Criterion though it took me almost a year to see this. It has been a ghost story film I have heard about, but have not seen. It takes a typical horror plotline (even more typical by today’s standards) of a brother (Ray Milland) and sister (Ruth Hussey) who fall in love with a rustic place on the Cornish coastline of England and are able to buy it seemingly at an undervalued price from the peevish proprietor Commander Beech (Donald Crisp). Though his daughter Stella (Gail Russell) is upset at the transaction. But beautiful bargain priced abodes usually come with an unaccountable price. This one is haunted. Not just one spirit, but two.

    The cinematography by Charles Lang Jr. (who was nominated for an Oscar), especially the chiaroscuro, and direction are hauntingly elegant. There are some effectively chilling scenes. This was Lewis Allen’s first full-length directed film and the second one I have seen from him that was not TV. His TV career is more prolific than his movie one including 42 episodes of Bonanza.

    What I have seen of Gail Russell I have liked including one of my favorite westerns Seven Men From Now. Her life was a tragic one, which you can see in the documentary link below. But she is effective here as the center of all the otherworldly issues. I found it interesting that Crisp was not that fond of having her on the set because of her inexperience though Crisp's acting style to me was often the most wooden among the actors (not the only time I have found him to be too stiff.)

    The homosexual undertone with two of the characters (possibly three) is so obvious that one wonders how it got past the Hays Code (though after previously watching The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944: Preston Sturges) from the same year I think maybe someone was snoozing there.*

    I do think that the reputation of this film will increase in stature now that there is a BD and DVD release of this (if you follow critic best of lists it is not uncommon for a Criterion release to help push a lesser known film into the limelight; I would even guess that the aggregate list They Shoot Pictures Don’t They might include this next year.)

    There should have been more extras on this. I was disappointed with the visual essay by Michael Almereyda which fragments itself with its short running time by going over too many areas too tersely. It also has an unneeded segment on parapsychology that annoys a skeptic like myself. You get too little information on this film, though there is a decent amount of Ray Milland (the author of this is a fan of his, though he does admit to not seeing The Thing with Two Heads – I need to see this as well.) How awesome would it have been to have the sequel The Unseen (1945) included with this? This release also includes a trailer, two radio adaptations, one essay worth reading by Farran Smith Nehme The Uninvited: Spirits by Starlight and a print interview with Lewis Allen and Tom Weaver that is my favorite among the extras.

    I believe this is all of James Agee’s mini-review on the film in The Nation (March 11, 1944 | Agee on Film (pg. 65)):


    The Uninvited, through an adroit counterpointing, syncopating, and cumulation [sic] of the natural and the supernatural, turns a mediocre story and a lot of shabby clichés into an unusually good scare-picture. It seems to me harder to get a fright than a laugh, and I experienced thirty-five first-class jolts, not to mention a well-calculated texture of minor frissons.

    * I am joking. The directors both did a good job of obeying the code, but not staying in the spirit of the code.

    DVD Savant
    The John Wayne Stock Company: Gail Russell documentary

    Cash

    Posts : 63
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    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Cash on Sun Sep 07, 2014 9:46 pm

    THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN (1985) 5/10
    Can't say I understand the cult appeal of this one. The outsized grassroots following that crops up around the lead character's silly antics just doesn't make sense. Well, perhaps it did to the hermetically-sealed execs who greenlit the project . . .

    Oh Lord I had somehow forgotten about this sanctimonious teenybopper epic that I think even in the social activism of the 80's mall movie audiences only half-bought.

    ENEMY MINE (1985) 6/10

    Yeah...even as a kid I was like "alright, I get it!"

    PRISONERS (2013) 7/10

    Jake Gyllenhaal was all wrong for that character but then again I had problems with his character, too. Paul Dano was unusually over-the-top, as well -- he's too brilliant of an actor for that kind of performance but I found some real merit, nonetheless, in one of 2013's most overrated films.

    NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984) 7/10

    I remember happening upon this on HBO as a kid and being horrified.

    VALENTINE (2001) 3/10

    I think you're being a bit generous. I was in college when this came out and in the early stages of a horror junkie (when I wasn't obsessing over Hong Kong cinema) and I remember this being a hideous latter day "Halloween" rip-off.

    And mine...

    The Double (2013) B-

    The Dark Half (1993) C-

    Based off a Stephen King novel which likely promises a far more interesting take on the evil twin narrative than this very 90's adaptation by then [literally] "...Dead" George A. Romero.

    Machete Maidens Unleashed! (2010) B

    Would make a great double bill with "Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!" (2008).

    The Battered Bastards of Baseball (2014) A-

    A nostalgic look back to a different time when actor Bing Russell created a lucrative independent minor league baseball team in Portland, OR that was as much show as it was go.

    Hannibal (2001) B-

    It's not without merit.

    The Cable Guy (1996) C+

    Something of a cult classic now Jim Carrey's performance oscillates between his usual humorous oddball self and a sad, lonely outcast who will stop at nothing to make even a marginal connection to another human being he can then force himself upon in the hopes of making an acquaintance. It's occasionally heart-wrenching. Director Ben Stiller gets some laughs as a marginal character based on the Menendez brothers whose sensational murder trial currently gripping the country circumvents the chaos.

    Detour (1945) A-

    The so-called king of the B noir pictures is a great piece of pulpy storytelling. Roger Ebert, who included the film in his Great Movies column, poses an interesting question: But can you believe the narrator to tell you the truth?

    Once Upon a Time in China V (1994) C-

    About all Tsui Hark does for this installment is he restores the venerable aesthetic from the previous installment's rather drab dressings but the series' fifth installment all but shelves Wong Fei-hung in the name of the redundant comic relief.

    Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013) F

    And somehow I liked this one even less than Brian. Slasher films often feature characters who lack common sense. This reboot doesn't make any sense at all.

    Blue Ruin (2013) A

    Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997) C+

    Too surreal even for the sixth installment in the shaggy dog franchise.

    The Lego Movie (2014) A-

    Cute, thoughtful, full of ingenuity, and funny even when the narrative drags in some spots.

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
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    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:32 am

    Behind that Curtain (1929: Irving Cummings):

    There are always reasons to watch a film. Mine are two-fold: I was finishing off the third set of Charlie Chan films (this is an extra) and my 1929 movie watchings are a bit weak. I was doing a top 10 Hollywood film list for each year from 2013 backwards until I got to 1929 which I just could not come up with ten. There is no way in good conscience I could put this on a top ten list. This is awful. Early sound films can have issues, especially since they are synchronized sound, but sometimes the worst aspect is the vocal performances. Well here it is the performances in general along with a lingering uninteresting melodramatic plot.

    First the good. This is the first sound appearance of Boris Karloff and is the first Fox film with Charlie Chan as a character. This is also a rare appearance of a non-Caucasoid as Charlie Chan (E.L. Park is his only known movie role) and a rare appearance of decent non-stereotypical roles for Chinese characters (though one might wonder about some of the other nationalities portrayed.) There is some decent on location shooting as well.

    But here is the bad. Chan is not even close to a main character in the film. Apparently they took the back plot of the Earl Derr Biggers (the book has the same name) and expanded it to a love triangle, which is not in the book, to the main plot. There is no mystery because it is solved for us early within the film. The relationships are contrived and the acting is just weird. It is not stilted like typical Hollywood fare or even overemphasized like the theater, but I am not sure how to really explain it. The tonal pitch is off which can be typical of early sound films, but this is worse than usual. Now the lead Warner Baxter would improve in sound. His performance is fine in John Ford’s The Prisoner of Shark Island.

    The Warner Oland Chan films are so much better.

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Now watching...

    Post  Brian T on Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:16 am

    Back again!

    Not sure if anyone's checking in here anymore, but despite my lengthy absences in 2014, I did (and do) still read whatever gets posted, and inevitably find movies to add to my list, which has thankfully gotten a bit shorter these past few months. And after a rather insane 2014, I'm hoping 2015 will be a bit more sedate so that I can get caught up even further. Hope things are going good for the rest of you folks who might see this.

    Anyway, thanks to the Toronto Public Library and the usual online sites and sales (plus a few Kijiji traders), here's the latest eye-glazer:


    DORIAN GRAY (2008) 5/10
    Middle-of-the-road adaptation of Oscar Wilde's story jettisons a lot of intelligence in favour of hedonism and boobs that didn't need to be spelled out for modern audiences.

    CLAMBAKE (1967) 6/10
    Another Elvis flick checked off the list. Not one of his best, but still reasonably colourful and tuneful (except for the groan-worthy "Confidence") and following the standard guidelines. Watching Elvis' weight visibly shift up and down throughout is somewhat disconcerting, and in retrospect an omen of things to come.

    PAPER TIGER (1975) 7/10
    Interesting family-oriented show from producer Euan Lloyd, later known for the mercenary adventure movies WILD GEESE and SEA WOLVES. Boring schoolteacher David Niven spins wild, bogus yarns about his military exploits to anyone who'll listen, but when he's kidnapped alongside his latest private student (Ando), the son of a Japanese ambassador (Toshiro Mifune), his courage is truly put to the test. Filmed on a fairly large scale in Malaysia, the show apparently got a bum deal at the box-office when producer Sam Levine backed out of his funding commitment, forcing Lloyd to successfully sue him for his contribution, which came too late to help the picture.

    PLAGUE TOWN (2008) 4/10
    Wannabe cult item about a bickering family set upon by back-country inbreds during a vacation in rural Ireland. Creepy nighttime atmosphere and some inventive ritualistic kills can't compensate for seriously irritating lead characters and an unnecessarily vague backstory for the locals.

    THE BAMBOO SAUCER (1968) 6/10
    Cold war sci-fi thriller sees adversarial American and Russian scientists (and their high-ranking minders) racing to find a UFO that has crash-landed on Chinese soil, then teaming up to understand its secrets. Special effects are impoverished beyond all hope, clearly due to budget limitations, giving the finished product a TV-movie feel, but it's enjoyable as time-capsule viewing.

    HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL (1958) 7/10
    One of the better high school delinquent movies of the era, with Russ Tamblyn in fine form as a newly-transferred troublemaker who sets his sights on taking over the school's flourishing marijuana and heroin rackets. The filmmakers clearly did their research into the drug trade (heheh) to get the specifics just right, but the on-the-nose hipster/beatnik jargon everyone speaks is over-the-top by half. In just one short scene, title known bit player Phillipa Fallon earns her spot in the B-movie hall of fame for her killer beat poet rendition of "High School Drag".


    CRY VENGEANCE (1954) 7/10

    POMPEII 3D (2014) 7/10
    Better than I expected, considering the director, but the reportedly $100 million budget certainly appears to be on screen rather than lining overpaid A-lister pockets

    FRANK (2014) 7/10

    THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (1969) 9/10

    NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL (1955) 7/10

    COME BACK, AFRICA (1959) 8/10

    AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION (2006) 4/10
    Gruesome, eye-catching and largely irrelevant sleeve art probably fooled a few people into seeing this, including me I suppose, but thankfully it was acquired in a trade, so . . .

    RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004) 6/10
    This was the only one I'd missed from the series to date. Filled in a few story gaps for me, though like most entries in this series it was generally unmemorable. Seeing Toronto to thinly disguised as Raccoon City was interesting.

    CARRIE (2013) 5/10
    Another needless remake that promised a fresh new take on Stephen King's classic story, then brought nothing new to the table by essentially re-using the screenplay from Brian DePalma's 1976 adaptation.

    AVALANCHE EXPRESS (1979) 5/10

    RAW FORCE (1982) 5/10

    BIG STAR: NOTHING CAN HURT ME (Documentary; 2012) 8/10

    MEGAFORCE (1982) 3/10
    Barry Bostwick's near-orgasmic jet-cycle flight from the ground to the carrier plane near the end of this picture has got to be some kind of bad movie nirvana!

    WORLD WAR Z 3D (2013) 7/10

    BRAVE 3D (2012) 8/10

    EL TOPO (1970) 8/10

    GOOD OL' FREDA (Documentary; 2013) 7/10

    ADVENTURES OF TINTIN 3D (2011) 8/10

    DEBAUCHED DESIRES: THE MASARU KONUMA COLLECTION (Japan; 1974-78):
    EROTIC DIARY OF AN OFFICE LADY (1977) 7/10
    TATTOOED FLOWER VASE (1976) 7/10
    CLOISTERED NUN: RUNA'S CONFESSION 7/10
    WIFE TO BE SACRIFICED (1974) 7/10
    Difficult to come to terms with these uniquely Japanese softcore dramas. While they apparently filled a gap between slightly erotic mainstream fare and hard core porn, one can't help but wonder what their proliferation--even today--says about the culture at large, or at least the male portion of it. Still, as examples of the form by one of its acknowledged masters, they're quite good, while generally not worthy of a second viewing.
    SADISTIC AND MASOCHISTIC (Documentary; 2000)
    Feature length doc about Masaru Konuma by former assistant Hideo Nakata. An excellent backgrounder on both the filmmaker himself and the industry in which he toiled for so many years, almost reluctantly so it often seems.

    THE POWER AND THE PRIZE (1956) 6/10

    SEX KITTENS GO TO COLLEGE (1960) 4/10
    This would probably have earned stratospheric cult status (beyond that kooky title) if even half of the gags in it were funny. Definitely worth a look, but often painfully unfunny.

    THE HOBBIT: THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES (2014) 8/10
    Solid conclusion to the trilogy, and the battle itself is remarkably well organized and depicted. Would be interesting to see spinoffs of this "universe" now that it officially exists. I'm sure Tolkien would spin in his grave, but frankly a world this believable can easily be extended into additional films, TV shows, books, comics, etc. Not saying it would be right, just that there aren't any laws against exploring a universe beyond its original creator's intent, and Peter Jackson and Co. have created such a richly detailed world it might be a shame not to revisit it on a smaller scale.

    THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS (1946) 8/10
    VERY atmospherically gothic vengeful-severed-hand-stalks-a-creepy-mansion picture with Peter Lorre in top form.

    NIGHTMARE HONEYMOON (1974) 6/10

    UFO DOUBLE FEATURE
    UFOs: IT HAS BEGUN (1979) 5/10
    UFO SYNDROME (1980) 4/10
    I've always had a soft spot for these rather nutty, often regionally-released "documentaries" from the 70's involving alien visitations, big foot or various religious or supernatural bullshit (many of them often produced under the Sunn Classics banner). These two are standard-issue "exposés" involving interviews with abductees--who are almost always rural folk with big imaginations and, undoubtedly, unrealized ambitions in life--and "science experts" whose vocabularies aren't always strong enough to express their concepts. IT HAS BEGUN has a slight advantage in that it's hosted by the then-late Rod Serling with readings by Burgess Meredith and José Ferrer.

    JERSEY BOYS (2014) 7/10
    Interesting contrast to the stage version (which I've seen), as well as to most other adaptations of hit broadway stage shows, which are generally more stagily faithful to their sources. Not sure re-working it as a straight-ahead biopic (where the characters only sing in realistic situations like clubs and recording studios) was a good move, or whether Clint Eastwood was the right choice for the director's chair; the result is passable, but Broadway's flashier trappings helps to better obscure the fact that we're basically watching a bunch of street hoods become millionaires.

    PIRANHA 3DD (2012) 4/10

    BLACKFISH (Documentary; 2013) 9/10

    JODOROWSKI'S DUNE (Documentary; 2013) 9/10
    Given the gargantuan investment that would have been necessary to mount Jodorowski's take on Herbert's sci-fi epic, you can't help but wonder if his entire point wasn't secretly to PREPARE to make a movie that would never be filmed. In other words, the preparation--which came to involve a few major Hollywood names throughout its multi-year process and generate mountains of amazing production artwork--WAS the art, something a multi-hyphenate like Jodorowski could easily undertake in spite of the knowledge that not a single frame of film might ever be exposed. Mind you, if it had, his show would've dwarfed all sci-fi that came before it, and quite a few that would have come afterwards.

    HIT AND RUN (2012) 7/10

    ROSSELLINI-BERGMAN CRITERION SET (Italy; 1950-54)
    JOURNEY TO ITALY (1954) 7/10
    EUROPE '51 (1952) 8/10
    STROMBOLI (1950) 7/10
    These shows seem to be more interesting for what went on behind the scenes--which very much informs their making--than for most of what transpires onscreen. Or maybe that's just me?

    A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 (2014) 3/10
    Hey, it was on the shelf at the library and, well . . .

    DEADFALL (2012) 7/10

    BLOW (2001) 6/10

    BIG HERO 6 (Animated) (2014) 8/10
    FEAST (Animated Short) (2014) 9/10

    MARY AND MAX (Animated) (Australia; 2009) 9/10

    IRONCLAD (U.K.; 2011) 6/10

    NOAH (2014) 8/10

    WOOCHI (South Korea; 2009) 7/10

    SWEET REVENGE (1976) 7/10
    One of many films that tried and failed to make a lead actress out of the uniquely talented Stockard Channing. The montage where she disguises as various characters in order to sell hot cars to a parade of suckers points up her key strengths as a character actress while simultaneously proving that they might be better suited to television; not that she ultimately fared much better as a lead in that medium.

    POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (1986) 6/10
    Still gotta see Part 3, just to be a completist . . .

    WOLF CHILDREN (Animated) (Japan; 2012)
    I suspect only anime filmmakers could keep a show essentially about semi-bestiality from straying too far into creepsville. Well, for the most part, anyway . . .

    BLUE RUIN (2013) 8/10

    MASTER OF THE HOUSE (Denmark; 1925) 8/10

    THE LEGEND OF LYLAH CLARE (1968) 4/10
    Misbegotten career-killer for Kim Novak, who's seriously out her depth playing an aspiring starlet moulded and/or possibly reincarnated into the image of a possibly-murdered Hollywood diva. Director Robert Aldrich still had a few good shows left in him.

    ROCK HUDSON FRANCHISE COLLECTION
    (1952-1965)
    HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL (1952) 7/10
    THE GOLDEN BLADE (1953) 5/10
    THE LAST SUNSET (1961) 7/10
    THE SPIRAL ROAD (1962) 7/10
    A VERY SPECIAL FAVOR (1965) 6/10

    THE ART OF THE STEAL (Documentary; 2009) 8/10

    GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE (2011) 5/10

    ENEMY (Canada; 2013) 8/10

    WILL ROGERS COLLECTION: VOLUME 2 (1931-34)
    AMBASSADOR BILL (1931) 7/10
    TOO BUSY TO WORK (1932) 7/10
    MR. SKITCH (1933) 7/10
    DAVID HARUM (1934) 7/10

    MORRIS ENGEL COLLECTION (1953-1958)
    LITTLE FUGITIVE (1953)
    LOVERS AND LOLLIPOPS (1956)
    WEDDINGS AND BABIES (1958)
    Anyone interested in the origins of the French new wave would be well-served to spend some time watching all three of these, especially the first one. Engel wasn't prolific, but he was hugely influential, even if unintentionally.

    WILL ROGERS COLLECTION: VOLUME 1 (1931-34)
    STEAMBOAT ROUND THE BEND (1935) 7/10
    IN OLD KENTUCKY (1935) 7/10
    LIFE BEGINS AT 40 (1935) 7/10
    DOUBTING THOMAS (1935) 6/10

    ANIMALS (Spain; 2012) 6/10

    THE GUARD (Ireland; 2011) 8/10

    4x AGNES VARDA CRITERION SET (France; 1955-1985)
    LA POINTE COURTE (1955) 7/10
    CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962) 9/10
    LE BONHEUR (1965) 9/10
    VAGABOND (1985) 9/10

    KILLING THEM SOFTLY (2012) 8/10

    INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (2013) 6/10

    LOVING YOU (1957) 7/10

    KILLER JOE (2011) 7/10

    THE HANGOVER PART III (2013) 6/10

    TREASURES OF THE NEW ZEALAND FILM ARCHIVES
    UPSTREAM (1927) 7/10
    ANDY'S STUMP SPEECH (Short; 1924) 7/10
    THE ACTIVE LIFE OF DOLLY OF THE DAILIES (Single Chapter; 1924) 7/10
    MAKING A STETSON (Documentary; 1925) 7/10
    RIDE ON A RUNAWAY TRAIN (1921) 7/10
    WON IN A CLOSET (1914) 6/10

    A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1974) 9/10

    BEFORE MIDNIGHT (2013) 9/10

    BLACK SAMSON (1974) 7/10

    THE DOGS OF WAR (1980) 8/10

    BIG FAN (2009) 8/10

    GREEN ICE (1981) 6/10

    GRIZZLY (1976) 6/10

    THUNDERBIRD 6 (1968) 6/10

    FINDING VIVIAN MAIER (Documentary; 2013) 8/10

    MOVIE 43 (2013) 2/10
    Fully expected this to be as excruciating and awful as everyone everywhere said it was, and was not disappointed. The incriminating videos that must have existed to coerce so many top-shelf stars into such a terribly unfunny project. Well, the Gerard Butler leprechaun skit was KINDA funny, but still . . .

    THE BLACK KUNG-FU EXPERIENCE (Documentary; 2012) 7/10
    Definitely worth watching for Hong Kong cinema fans, in order to see how the city's movies--in particular the Shaw Brothers productions, clips of which are sprinkled in--inspired a lot of otherwise wayward inner city young black men to take up martial arts, several of whom would ultimately find themselves in Asia making kung-fu movies.

    THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE (1976) 8/10 (long version)

    FACES (1968) 9/10

    A CONSTANT FORGE (2000) 8/10
    Documentary about the career of John Cassavettes goes way too easy on its subject, but it nevertheless an interesting look into his creative processes with actors.

    THE CALL (2013) 7/10

    CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (U.K.; 1958) 8/10

    A TOWN LIKE ALICE (U.K.; 1956) 8/10

    FORGET ME NOT (2009) 6/10
    Interesting concept behind this modestly well-made DTV horror show: the ghost of the victim of a grade-school prank returns years later to wreak vengeance on the classmates who caused her death; each one she kills is instantly erased from the memories of the others, except for Final Girl Carly Schroeder, who nearly goes nuts trying to convince everyone that everyone else existed. In the hands of a more accomplished director, this definitely would've scored a theatrical release.

    COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT (1970) 8/10
    Superior sci-fi show about a super-computer that becomes sentient and threatens to launch a world war. Universal's DVD is shamefully panned and scanned, which makes the film an ideal pick-up for a company like Shout Factory. Here's hoping.

    SANTA SANGRE (Mexico; 1989) 8/10

    KON-TIKI (Norway; 2012) 7/10

    AFTER EARTH (2013) 4/10
    No wonder Jaden Smith went insane. What a burden to bear.

    OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL 3D (2013) 7/10

    AFTER DARK HORRORFEST III - 8 Film Collection
    VOICES (South Korea; 2007) 6/10
    DYING BREED (2008) 6/10
    FROM WITHIN (2008) 5/10
    PERKINS' 14 (2009) 6/10
    SLAUGHTER (2009) 5/10
    THE BROKEN (2008) 7/10
    AUTOPSY (2008) 6/10
    THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT 3: REVELATIONS (2009) 7/10

    BLUE UNDERGROUND CRIME TRIPLE FEATURE:
    STREET LAW (Italy; 1974) 8/10
    HEROIN BUSTERS (Italy; 1977) 8/10
    THE BIG RACKET (Italy; 1976) 8/10

    BLUE UNDERGROUND HORROR TRIPLE FEATURE
    A BLADE IN THE DARK (Italy; 1983) 5/10
    MACABRE (Italy; 1980) 5/10
    SHOCK (Italy; 1977) 6/10

    BLUE UNDERGROUND THRILLER TRIPLE FEATURE
    WHO SAW HER DIE? (Italy; 1972) 7/10
    SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS (Italy; 1971) 7/10
    THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW (Italy; 1978) 6/10

    THE SAND PEBBLES (1966) 8/10

    POLLYANNA (1960) 8/10

    HAMMER FILMS ICONS OF HORROR COLLECTION (1960-64)
    THE GORGON (1964) 7/10
    TASTE OF FEAR (1961) 8/10
    CURSE OF THE MUMMY'S TOMB (1964) 6/10
    THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL (1960) 7/10

    METROPOLIS (Animated) (Japan; 2001) 8/10

    HUMORESQUE (1946) 8/10

    THE KREMLIN LETTER (1970) 8/10

    BORN FREE (1966) 8/10

    RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 (1954) 8/10

    THE YOUNG LIONS (1958) 6/10

    THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD (1965) 6/10

    DINER (1982) 7/10

    TWELVE O-CLOCK HIGH (1949) 9/10

    BAD GIRLS BEHIND BARS 5-FILM COLLECTION:
    99 WOMEN (1969) 4/10
    WOMEN BEHIND BARS (1975) 3/10
    BARE BEHIND BARS (1980) 5/10
    SADOMANIA (1981) 4/10
    AMAZON JAIL (1982) 4/10

    WHIRLY GIRL (2006) 7/10

    FRESHMAN ORIENTATION (2004) 6/10

    LIAR'S MOON (1982) 7/10

    GUESS WHAT WE LEARNED IN SCHOOL TODAY (1970) 5/10

    THE YOUNG GRADUATES (1971) 4/10

    VIRGIN QUEEN OF ST. FRANCIS HIGH (1987) 4/10

    SWAMP THING (1982) 7/10

    LA VIE EN ROSE (2007) 7/10

    GO (1999) 6/10

    THE VELOCITY OF GARY (1988) 4/10

    DARK HOUSE (2009) 3/10
    FRAGILE (2005) 7/10
    THE TOMB (2009) 3/10
    ROAD KILL (2010) 3/10
    HUNGER (2009) 6/10

    KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: DIRECTOR'S CUT (2005) 9/10

    BLOODRAYNE: THE THIRD REICH (2011) 3/10

    FLICKA COLLECTION:
    MY FRIEND FLICKA (1943) 7/10
    THUNDERHEAD: SON OF FLICKA (1945) 6/10
    GREEN GRASS OF WYOMING (1948) 7/10

    TABULA RASA (Short; 2012) 7/10
    UNDER THE BRIDGE OF FEAR (Short; 2013) 6/10
    Caught both of these on some late-night satellite channel that seems only to broadcast short films and bizarre stuff and not much else.

    ALONG CAME JONES (1945) 7/10

    LES MISERABLES (1935) 8/10
    LES MISERABLES (1952) 7/10

    JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG (1961) 9/10

    Y TU MAMA TAMBIÉN (2001) 8/10

    NIGHT OF THE DEMON / CURSE OF THE DEMON (1957) 9/10

    HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941) 9/10

    KING OF KINGS (1961) 8/10

    LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955) 8/10

    SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) 10/10

    FRANK AND OLLIE (1995) 7/10

    LILIOM (1934) 8/10
    CAROUSEL (1956) 7/10

    VON RYAN'S EXPRESS (1965) 8/10

    THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961) 9/10

    YESTERDAY GIRL (West Germany; 1966) 8/10

    BOYS TOWN (1938) 8/10
    MEN OF BOYS TOWN (1941) 6/10
    Mickey Rooney - such a ham!

    FLESH + BLOOD (1985) 6/10

    PORTRAIT IN BLACK (1960) 6;10

    NEAR DARK (1987) 7/10

    ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO (2008) 7/10

    RUN SILENT RUN DEEP (1958) 8/10

    ON THE BEACH (1959) 8/10
    Two points entirely deducted off this one for the constant reprising of "Waltzing Matilda" nearly every time the plot requires some background music. Australians must have thought it ridiculous at the time.

    THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (1952) 5/10

    THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939) 9/10

    GOING MY WAY (1944) 9/10

    ASSORTED FOX MARQUEE MUSICAL DVDs:
    WEEK-END IN HAVANA (1941) 8/10
    THAT NIGHT IN RIO (1941) 7/10
    FOUR KILLS IN A JEEP (1944) 6/10
    HELLO FRISCO, HELLO (1943) 7/10
    THE GREAT AMERICAN BROADCAST (1941) 7/10
    HOLLYWOOD CAVALCADE (1939) 7/10
    GREENWICH VILLAGE (1944) 7/10
    DOLL FACE (1945) 7/10
    SOMETHING FOR THE BOYS (1944) 7/10
    THE GANG'S ALL HERE (1943) 8/10

    VARIOUS DISNEY MOVIE REWARD CLUB FREEBIES:
    THIRD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN (1959) 8/10
    ROB ROY: THE HIGHLAND ROGUE (1953) 6/10
    THE STORY OF ROBIN HOOD AND HIS MERRIE MEN (1952) 7/10
    THE HORSE WITHOUT A HEAD (1963) 7/10

    TIFF 2014 SCREENINGS:
    THE EDITOR (Canada; 2014) 6/10
    Often hilarious, faithfully reproduced but sorely overlong pastiche of/tribute to 70's giallo cinema, from Calgary-based comedy troupe Astron 6.
    ALLÉLUIA (Spain; 2014) 6/10
    OVER YOUR DEAD BODY (Japan; 2014) 4/10
    Takashi Miike's latest. So much potential, but dullsville.
    A HARD DAY (South Korea; 2014) 8/10
    CUB (Belgium; 2014) 7/10
    [REC]4: APOCALYPSE (Spain; 2014) 6/10
    BIG GAME (Finland; 2014) 6/10
    ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF CANNON FILMS (Australia/USA; 2014) 8/10
    THE WORLD OF KANAKO (Japan; 2014) 7/10
    KA-TEU (aka CART) (South Korea; 2014) 7/10
    KILL ME THREE TIMES (Australia; 2014) 7/10

    LONE SURVIVOR (2013) 7/10

    GREAT EXPECTATIONS (1946) 9/10

    THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (1953) 7/10

    SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN (2011) 7/10

    BECAUSE YOU'RE MIND (1952) 6/10

    HOLIDAY IN MEXICO (1946) 6/10

    THE SWEENEY (U.K. 2012) 6/10

    THE MAJESTIC (2001) 7/10

    ODD THOMAS (2013) 6/10

    CLOUD ATLAS (2012) 7/10

    STEP UP REVOLUTION (2012) 4/10

    EAT PRAY LOVE (2010) 4/10

    DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2014) 8/10

    COMPULSION (1959) 8/10

    MR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION (1962) 7/10

    YOUNG PEOPLE FUCKING (2007) 6/10

    [b]ROLLERBALL (2002) 3/10

    ROLLERBALL (1975) 6/10

    BLACK DEVIL DOLL (2007) 2/10

    HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO (1944) 8/10

    PINKY (1949) 7/10

    DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939) 8/10

    TRISTRAM SHANDY: A COCK AND BULL STORY (U.K.; 2005) 9/10

    TONY ROME (1967) 8/10
    LADY IN CEMENT (1968) 6/10

    THE BLACK SWAN (1942) 8/10

    MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (1936) 9/10

    MEET ME IN LAS VEGAS (1956) 7/10

    CHILL FACTOR (1999) 3/10

    THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999) 5/10

    SUPER TROOPERS (2001) 7/10

    SHIRTS AHOY! (1952) 6/10

    THE STRANGLER OF BLACKMOOR CASTLE (1963) 7/10

    THE COVENANT (2006) 5/10

    THE RETURN (2006) 4/10

    BLESS THE CHILD (2000) 3/10

    SUMMER CATCH (2001) 4/10

    ALONE IN THE DARK (2005) 2/10

    THE MASTER (2012) 8/10

    THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE (1964) 6/10

    DEATH SPA (1989) 6/10
    [/b]

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