August 28, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

Fifteen minutes into The Girl Who Played With Fire I knew I was in trouble: the plot was obvious, the action moved slowly, and everything was so simplistic - do you really get the location of a villain by mailing to a post office box a you win $100,000 letter to which the villain will respond with their address to collect the money? Is it that easy? An hour into this more than two hour movie I had already opened my phone to check the time twice, and I was screaming (internally) to leave the theatre but, I had history with these characters (having enjoyed the first film) so I stayed until the bitter end none the worse for...ahhh who are we kidding, it sucked.

August 27, 2010

Claudine (1974)

Claudine is still as delightful a romantic comedy as they come. The story of a mother of six (played with subtlety and nuance by Academy Award nominee Diahann Carroll) being romanced by a garbage man (a smoking James Earl Jones showing off his hiney!) has aged amazingly well: the look of the film is not dated, the issues it confronts are relevant, and the script's heart stands front and center. Add an incredible score by Curtis Mayfield with Gladys Knight and the Pips and you get a real classic with heart and soul - can you dig it?

August 19, 2010

Myra Breckinridge (1970)

Raquel Welch (looking breathtaking and showing some real acting chops as a transsexualvestite) and Mae West (hootworthy, singing songs and vamping with Tom Selleck) are the reasons to see Myra Breckinridge. A lot of other names show up as actors (John Huston, Farrah Fawcett, Rex Reed, John Carradine) and icons in black and white film clips (Judy Garland, Laurel & Hardy) and there's male rape, lesbian seduction, dirty medicine and a whole bunch more that, though interesting to see in a historical context, just doesn't add up to a good movie. What made the thing watchable is knowing that no major Hollywod studio would ever make a film like this again; it's a moment in time.

August 18, 2010

Escape from Sobibor (1987)

Escape from Sobibor is a triumphant mini-series that tells the story of the only prisoners (both Jewish and non) to escape from a Nazi death camp during WW2. Alan Arkin and Rutger Hauer are excellent as the conspirators and the film itself, though undoubtedly too pretty to be a real document of a concentration camp, still manages to create a horrific picture of the situation. Even in its violence, the denouement is uplifting and well-documented by this British television production.

August 15, 2010

This Property is Condemned (1966)

Natalie Wood and Robert Redford steam up the screen (as they say) in This Property is Condemned, the story of a small Depression-era town that is losing its sole source of revenue - the railroad. The film is based on a Tennessee Williams one act (and reportedly dissed by him upon its release) but is elevated by the star performances and cinematographer James Wong Howe. Kate Reid, Charles Bronson, Robert Blake and Mary Badham (she of To Kill A Mockingbird/Scout fame) offer excellent support but it's the star romance that makes this one so involving.

August 14, 2010

The Box (2009)

Richard Kelly directed Donnie Darko, a four star piece of esoterica as well as The Box, a little less successful but still an interesting watch. After a shaky start with a weird accent, Cameron Diaz settles in as a woman who, with James Marsden as her husband, pushes a button on Frank Langella's box for one million dollars. It takes some interesting turns and can be a bit confusing but it kept me until the end...twice.

August 13, 2010

All About Steve (2009)

I enjoy watching Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper but I did not enjoy watching their comedy, All About Steve. It wasn't funny or involving, the leads had no chemistry, and the script is ridiculous. The movie poster is better than this movie - and look how horrible the poster is.

August 11, 2010

A Raisin in the Sun (1961)

A Raisin in the Sun is one of the best films of the 60s based on one of the best plays of the 50s that is still as relevant today as it was almost fifty years ago. The emotional resonance in the story of an African-American family that comes into a large sum of money also offers incredible and indelible performances by Sidney Poitier, Claudia MacNeil, Ruby Dee, Diana Sands and Louis Gosset, Jr. (in his film debut). Don't let the black and white cinematography steer you away from this magnificent film that looks and feels as if it was released yesterday.

August 3, 2010

With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)

A surprisingly robust drama is molded to fit the fabric of a Doris Day comedy in With Six You Get Eggroll. Set in the real swinging sixties (with an appearance from The Grass Roots), it tells a relatively honest tale of two people who marry quickly and must then merge their respective families (including a teenaged Barbara Hershey in her film debut). The story moves along despite the circumstances that always stop short of an onscreen shtup between Ms. Day and her co-star, Brian Keith but it's a sweet film that is a fitting cap to Ms. Day's illustrious career (to date, this is her last film).