November 7, 2012

In & Out (1997)

In & Out is the sweet but somewhat unbelievable coming out tale of a forty year old man in a small Midwest town. A genuinely funny script (by Paul Rudnick) and excellent performances (especially Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack and Tom Selleck) brought bemused tears to my eyes as the end credits rolled. It's not Preston Sturges but it's probably as close as we'll get in this decade.

November 3, 2012

Steel Magnolias (2012)

Having now seen this remake of the Steel Magnolias I'd ask executive producer Queen Latifah one question: why? Nothing has been added to the original story by making all the characters black, the acting is hackneyed (excepting Jill Scott) and the movie is SO familiar it could be considered plagiarism. An integrated cast might have made this a more interesting remake but since that was not the road chosen, skip it.

October 31, 2012

Dance Of The Dead (2008)

Had John Hughes (Pretty In Pink, The Breakfast Club) directed Return Of The Living Dead, it might have been similar to Dance Of The Dead, a sometimes over-the-top zomedy about teens kicking some dead ass. The script by Joe Ballarini is fun, the acting (by no one I've ever seen) is uniformly entertaining and it's got some original zombie moments. I'd go to director Gregg Bishop's dances any time.

October 27, 2012

Kisses For My President (1964)

Kisses For My President is racist (all White House staff are black), misogynist (check out the ten minute strip club scene and the ending) and, more to the point, boring. The story of the first female president is actually the story of her poor husband, the first male First Lady, and badly riffs on Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Both Fred MacMurray and Polly Bergen (especially) are wasted as is the celluloid on which this one was developed.

October 24, 2012

The Boy Friend (1971)

Ken Russell's 1971 film version of The Boy Friend is an alternative interpretation, weaving the basic plot of the musical into a more complicated story in which the seaside dramatic company performing the musical is visited by a scouting film producer on the very night that the leading lady (Glenda Jackson) is replaced by her shy understudy Polly Browne (Twiggy). All that said, it is charming and tuneful and buoyant as it pays homage to numerous Busby Berkeley and MGM movie musicals of the 1930s. The National Board of Review voted Russell best director and Twiggy won Golden Globe awards as best newcomer and best actress (musical/comedy), but the film did not make a significant impact monetarily, perhaps because MGM edited it down to 109 minutes from its currently available 136 minutes.


which technically pushes the limits but this exception proves the blog
  • There is a well known continuity error at the end of the film. The closing scene was filmed beside the real stage door of the New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. This is located in a narrow side street marked off with yellow "No Waiting" lines. For the filming, these lines were very badly painted over with black paint leaving easily recognisable marks on the road.

  • MGM/UA Classics' Michael Schlesinger reissued the full version theatrically in 1987. It was also released on laser disc and finally, in 2011, in a remastered edition.

  • Wilson's original score was freely adapted and augmented by Peter Maxwell Davies for the film. Davies subsequently prepared (and recorded) a concert suite based on the music.

October 20, 2012

The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975)

After Elizabeth Montgomery made her career as a cute television witch, she turned her sights to portraying a fancy, historical bitch and drew raves from critics and audiences alike. The Legend of Lizzie Borden purports to solve the centuries old murder of Borden's parents and does it with style and significance. It's criminal (ba dump bump) that this movie has not had a home release; it's well-made and a true crime stunner that's involving and fascinating.

October 17, 2012

Romy and Michelle: In The Beginning (2005)

OMFG, Romy and Michele: In The Beginning puts Katherine Heigl (blech!) and Alex Breckinridge (who?) screen center as younger and paler imitations of the characters from the beloved original who move to Los Angeles (again). This claptrap was written (and directed) by the same author (Robin Schiff) but has none of the intelligence or heart. Paula Abdul shows up for a paycheck as did, it seems, everyone ese.

October 14, 2012

They Live (1988)

They Live is a freaky science fiction flick with a great lead performance by Roddy Piper, an awesome script by the pseudonymous John Carpenter, and careful direction from the real John Carpenter. Piper is a hot hunk (in great jeans, no less) who is able to see underneath people's skins to tell if they are an alien. This effect is done very well and is scary which gives the film, along with its other good qualities, a fascinating authenticity.

October 11, 2012

The China Syndrome (1979)

Despite the polyester and wide lapels, The China Syndrome is still a relevant and troubling film about an accident in a nuclear power plant. The acting is excellent with stars Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas joined by a stellar supporting cast including Peter Donat and Wilford Brimley. In an interesting subplot, the film fictionalizes the 1974 death of Karen Silkwood which was, itself, made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Cher some four years later.

October 5, 2012

Monsters (2010)

Monsters puts unlikeable protagonists on a journey to safety through alien-infected Mexico (no pun intended). Nothing much happens since the relationship between the protagonists - and not the aliens themselves - is the story, and the two people in the relationship are whining brats. There is a smidge of alienity but not enough to counteract having to watch the dregs of humanity.

October 3, 2012

Come September (1961)

Come September has one thing in its favor: Gina Lollobrigida. This Italian bombshell is so tantalizing she can even get a rise (albeit a small one) out of pathetic co-star Rock Hudson. But when real-life newlyweds Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin are thrown in as a couple of doe-eyed teens, I couldn't wait for September to leave.

September 29, 2012

Red (2010)

Mary-Louise Parker lives out the adventurous romance novels she has only read when CIA man Bruce Willis drops by for a visit in RED, an action film that does not condescend. The script has some genuine laughs including putting Dame Helen Mirren (in a somewhat obvious performance) behind a gun. It's nice to see actors of a certain age getting into the rough and tumble

September 28, 2012

Arizona (1940)

With Jean Arthur playing a MILF who knows how to use a gun AND how to bake a pie AND how to get the younger William Holden (in a very early role) as her husband, Arizona might be the first pre-feminist feminist western. The film does an excellent job of conveying the rough and ready 1800s.

April 16, 2012

The Devil Within Her (1975)

Joan Collins is quite effective as the put-upon mom who has The Devil Within Her (titled I Don't Want To Be Born in the UK) in this 1975 stew of The Omen and The Exorcist, sprinkled with a dash of The Bad Seed. The evil dwarf and Sister/sister subplots are a little hard to take but the baby daddy drama is involving. Oh, and if you like cuteness, the possessed baby is very cute.

January 26, 2012

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

A somewhat slow-moving potboiler that has enough blood to give it horror credentials, The Town That Dreaded Sundown is based on the true story of a serial killer that preyed on Texarkana, AK and Texarkana, TX during the late 40s. The movie is a precursor to the 80s slasher films without the jumps. Ben Johnson as the top cop and Dawn Wells in a small yet pivotal role as a victim are fine but it's just a rundown story.