January 30, 2008

...Pan's Labrynth (2006)

Pan's Labrynth is an excellent film with a complex script and outstanding performances - especially those by Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, and Sergi López. Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed this fantastical thriller set physically in wartime Spain (around 1944) and thoughtfully in...um...Pan's labrynth. It's a multi-award winner (including three Oscars for art direction, makeup and cinematography) about a young girl and fascism and one of the best films I've seen in years.

January 19, 2008

The Banger Sisters (2002)

The Banger Sisters boasts winning performances (especially by its leads Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon and Geoffrey Rush), fun circumstances and an amiable, if not award-winning, script. Although parts of the film are too pat, the Turning Point-esque story of two groupies from the sixties coming to terms with their present lives charmed me through and through. Written and directed by Bob Dolman (of SCTV fame), the film poses an important question: what happens to us as we grow up? and answers it with not too much Sturm und Drang.

January 18, 2008

...Goin' To Town (1935)

Goin' To Town might be a knock-off of I'm No Angel (woman cashes in and attempts to move in on high society) but even a tame Mae West (this was made after the Production Code was more strictly enforced) is better than pretty much anything else. She throws off one-liners, sings the blues AND opera, walks that walk and beguiles all the men while pissing off all the gals. Goin' To Town is good enough that if your in to this gal...mmmm...you can't go wrong.

January 16, 2008

...Jeepers Creepers (2001)

At one point in Jeepers Creepers, the female protagonist says to her brother something to the effect of, "You know those parts in scary movies when someone does something stupid and everyone hates him for it - well this is one of those parts." It's true that Jeepers Creepers has any number of those parts but the film works because the monster is scaringly good with an interesting back story. And who wouldn't love a movie that uses the Paul Whiteman and his Swing Wing version of the song Jeepers Creepers in this day and age as opposed to some new version with a male rapper and a female chorine.

January 13, 2008

...Abby (1974)

Abby is the rarely-seen, black cast horror film pulled from release when Warner Brothers, who saw the film as derivative of The Exorcist, filed a lawsuit against the distributor for copyright violation. Similarities notwithstanding, the film, even at 89 minutes, runs long, and the African-based folklore makes no sense. But to those interested in a piece of film history, in comparing it to its far-better forebear, or in ticking off another film in the Juanita Moore cannon, Abby is worth at least one look.

January 12, 2008

...Silent Hill (2006)

Silent Hill is an excellent filmization of the Edgar Allen Poe quote,

All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

Radha Mitchell, Laurie Holden and Alice Krige head a strong cast in this female-centric horror film (the protagonists and the villians as well as some of the monsters are women) that was, surprisingly, based on a video game. Although confusing at times, the denouement does make sense without relying on plot holes, the monsters are horrific, and director Christophe Gans has created, in the burning town of Silent Hill, an excruciating picture of hell that would, at times, seem all to real - if I actually believed in it.

January 4, 2008

...I'm No Angel (1933)

Mae West was a one-of-a-kind jewel and I'm No Angel is her platinum setting - made thankfully before the Production Code was followed to it's full effect. Although at times the Cary Grant romance and its inevitable outcome reminded me of an extended episode of Love, American Style (forty years before the series was aired thank you very much), the film is not dated and the court room scene, with Mae doing her thing as her own lawyer, is hysterical. You'd be hard pressed to find a more unique actress and icon and a more apt film for her to display her...ahem...talents, all of them - she acts, sings, and wrote the screenplay.

January 2, 2008

...S.O.B. (1981)

S.O.B. is a black comedy about politics (sexual and otherwise) in Hollywood that is wickedly insightful and strikingly accurate (from what I've read anyway). Interestingly, the film falters towards the end when it falls into farce - one of the (many) issues that also plagued Darling Lili, the filmmaking experience on which writer/director Blake Edwards based his script. Still, it's a wild ride with a sterling cast that is worth taking; and Julie Andrews's pineapples are breast-taking (sic).

January 1, 2008

...Freedomland (2005)

Freedomland is a drama based on the Richard Price novel with excellent performances from Samuel L. Jackson, Edie Falco, and Ron Eldard. Unfortunately, the usually-capable Julianne Moore seems miscast in her role as the mother of a white boy missing in a primarily black neighborhood project; or perhaps its a role she's done previously and a lot better (perhaps in a film that was also produced by director of this film Joe Roth?) And although the central story sometimes seems affected to bring on the ultimate cops versus residents warfare, the film is stirring and speaks capably to parent/child relationships and race in America.