August 30, 2009

The Stork Club (1945)

Betty Hutton and Barry Fitzgerald are pure charm in this quaint tale of a hat check girl at The Stork Club and the millionaire whose life she saves. Hutton sings a few songs that became hits [including Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief and I'm Just a Square (In a Social Circle)] and lights up the screen comically. The love angle between Hutton and Don DeFore (yes, Hazel's boss) is a throwaway but Fitzgerald's waltz with Mary Young more than makes up for it.

See this movie for free online.

August 29, 2009

...Sweet Charity (1969)

There's something about this film version of the musical Sweet Charity that is just oft-putting although I'm not sure if it is the overproduction, Charity's overdesperation, or the film's overlength. Shirley MacLaine as the titular dance hall hostess is only middling and tends to grate as the film reaches it's denouement. The classic soundtrack (including Big Spender, If My Friends Could See Me Now, There's Gotta Be Something Better Than This, et. al.) is incredible but, like the movie poster pictured, the movie itself is just wonderful musical segments (directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse, no less) stitched together by an unsatisfying, confusing and outdated story.

August 27, 2009

...They (2002)

They is presented by Wes Craven as a horror film but with no real thrills where's the horror? The story, about children and their adult selves with night terrors, apes the much better Darkness Falls and becomes more annoying as it wears on. The PG-13 rating doesn't help because with no story and no blood and guts I ask again, where's the horror?

August 26, 2009

...Back to School (1986)

Rodney Dangerfield hits one out of the park in this classic comedy about a rich man who goes Back to School with his college freshman son. It is pure Dangerfield as the self-deprecating one-liners come so fast and furious that if you laugh, you might miss one. Sally Kellerman, a young Robert Downey, Jr. and Oingo Boingo add romance, quirk and music respectively but I'm telling you, don't laugh.

August 22, 2009

...The Rocker (2008)

Beginning with a wafer-thin premise, The Rocker does bring some genuine laughs after YouTube enters the mix. Rainn Wilson is Jack Black, Christina Applegate a 21st century Jean Arthur, and the high schoolers that make up Wilson's band A.D.D. are suitably nerdy (Josh Gad), emo (Teddy Geiger) and angry (Emma Stone) in this (almost) Capra-esque take on a wronged rock drummer who gets a second chance at success. It plays a little to close to This is Spinal Tap at times but emotions do swell (a little) when things are righted - which is not a spoiler in this type of movie.

August 20, 2009

...Island of the Dead (2000)

Island of the Dead is a direct to DVD release with a fascinating concept and not much execution. Despite the title there are no zombies - only flies (a la The Swarm) that protect the dead on New York's Hart Island, a real island east of the Bronx which is a cemetery for the unknown corpses that pile up in the Big Apple. The movie plods along rather slowly but I did finish it and am now dying to go to Hart Island although this was not filmed there and the general public is not allowed.

August 18, 2009

Mirrors (2008)

Alejandre Aja is a master storyteller and filmmaker, and Mirrors, a horror film about mirrors that kill, is intriguing despite some blatant plot holes and an inconsistent ending. Mostly the concept, ripped off from a Korean film called Into The Mirror, drew me in and kept me guessing. After Haute Tension and the remake of The Hills Have Eyes, this Keifer Sutherland picture keeps me on the Aja train.

August 15, 2009

...The Most Dangerous Game (1932)

With scenes of (Leslie Banks as) a hunter preying on human game, it's easy to see how The Most Dangerous Game was a shocking and controversial film in its day. Although it still contains some great camera work and effects (the film makers went on to create King Kong in 1933), in today's era of torture porn, the punch given the last half of the film seems more silly than horrific. Joel McCrea and Fay Wray fight and scream (respectively) well enough but not enough to capture today's most dangerous game...the 21st century audience.

August 14, 2009

...Night of the Living Dead 3D (2006)

Night of the Living Dead 3D is a badly lit Russian nesting doll reimagining that adds a reason for the zombie attacks as well as Sid Haig (the lead psycho from Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses) in the type of creeper role at which he excels. Most of the other actors are terrible (excepting Brianna Brown as Barb) and the filmmakers cop out on the flesh eating scenes although they try hard to make it an homage by interspersing clips from the hallowed original in to the mix. But, unless they made ka-jillions of dollars (which would be hard to imagine much less reimagine), I can't understand why this was made; it certainly was not in three dimensions when I saw it.

August 12, 2009

...The Swarm (1978)

OMG, it's took me nine months to get through Irwin Allen's all star bee fest The Swarm. The movie veers from interesting to camp as illustrated by a genuinely touching scene in which Slim Pickens' (in his only appearance) and Henry Fonda give first rate performances coupled with the groan-worthy groan of Golden Girl Olivia De Havilland at the school window as she watches the children get stung to death. At almost three hours, The Swarm is just too dull for its length; even stars like Michael Caine, Katherine Ross, Richard Widmark, Patty Duke, and Lee Grant (and some good explosions if you disregard the denouement) made it barely watchable over the gestation period I gave it.

August 10, 2009

...The Virgin Spring (1960)

Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (known in Swedish as Jungfrukällan) is the fastest slow-moving movie I have ever seen. Not as visceral as the über remake The Last House On The Left (1973 version) or its distant cousin I Spit On Your Grave, it still packs a punch and has some exquisite black and white cinematography. Unfortunately the characters and costumes have been parodied so often that they almost look parodic, and it bogs down in religious symbolism (to affirm despite the rape, murder and revenge story) which many might say is its raison d'etre but I found annoying.

August 9, 2009

[REC] (2007)

Although it ends up a decent virus that turns people into people-eating people movie in the horror filmed with a video camera cannon, [REC] also falls into the people in horror movies are so stupid genre. There are many places where the people in horror movies are so stupid action outweighs the horror filmed with a video camera aspect but the ending, although not the must lucid, is certainly interesting with its 90º turn into The Exorcist territory. There are also some good jump out of your seat scenes and Manuela Velasco as the television reporter is excellent but mostly I think it all works because, not counting the credits, the movie is only 70 minutes long.