Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Affair (1949)***
Enjoyable, if predictable, rom-com that happens to take place during the Christmas holidays. Snappy dialogue and fine work from the leads (even the kid) and a nifty final sequence aboard a train.
Bill Murray, Star of ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’ -
"Q. There seems to be so much serendipity in your life. Are you actively cultivating these moments or just hoping that they come to you?

"A. Well, you have to hope that they happen to you. That’s Pandora’s box, right? She opens up the box, and all the nightmares fly out. And slams the lid shut, like, 'Oops,' and opens it one more time, and hope pops out of the box. That’s the only thing we really, surely have, is hope. You hope that you can be alive, that things will happen to you that you’ll actually witness, that you’ll participate in. Rather than life just rolling over you, and you wake up and it’s Thursday, and what happened to Monday? Whatever the best part of my life has been, has been as a result of that remembering."


Monday, November 26, 2012

Fight Club (1999)****
Exceptional rant against corporatism and much of modernity, lead by excellent lead performances, design and direction.
Animal House (1978)***
One of the first "R" comedies to hit it big. Still enjoyable, but unfortunately it's success meant that we end up with dreck like this.
Three lost trying to save family dog - SFGate
"When a state park ranger arrived on the scene, he had to park a half mile away and travel on foot because of the steep terrain around the beach, Jones said. The ranger saw the mother and pulled her out of the water, and he and a bystander began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The ranger then pulled out the father. Both parents were pronounced dead at the scene. The dog survived and the teen remains missing."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Trial (1962)***
Orson Welles said in an interview that he felt this film was the best he had ever made. While I wouldn't go that far, it's certainly one of his best and I think why he felt that way was because it looks like he got everything he wanted to do with the film done. It's an impressive intellectual achievement but ultimately fails to engage, which I feel is a consequence of the kind of tale it is. Still, there are many impressive sequences and the acting is top notch, especially Anthony Perkins in the lead. Always interesting.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bernie (2011)***
Director Richard Linklater almost achieves an Alexander Payne-esque tone to this film, but the casting of Jack Black as the lead does him in. Black is fine, but he is unable to overcome his persona which has us waiting for the inevitable winking at the camera and that creates a bit more distance than the film needs.
FBI's abuse of the surveillance state is the real scandal needing investigation | Glenn Greenwald |
"So all based on a handful of rather unremarkable emails sent to a woman fortunate enough to have a friend at the FBI, the FBI traced all of Broadwell's physical locations, learned of all the accounts she uses, ended up reading all of her emails, investigated the identity of her anonymous lover (who turned out to be Petraeus), and then possibly read his emails as well. They dug around in all of this without any evidence of any real crime - at most, they had a case of "cyber-harassment" more benign than what regularly appears in my email inbox and that of countless of other people - and, in large part, without the need for any warrant from a court."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Cat in Paris (2010)**
So-so animated flick about a cat who helps a cat burglar save a young girl who gets into some trouble.
Skyfall (2012)**
Spectacular opening sequence can't rescue the latest overlong Bond flick that tries way too hard to explain everything and thinks the use of extreme facial closeups is the way to do that. Watchable to the end thanks mainly to Naomie Harris and some nifty pyrotechnics.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Grey Owl (1999)**
Interesting, standard issue biopic of a real Canadian fur trapper turned conservationist in the 1930's, hampered by the casting of a non-actor as the female lead.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Black Sabbath (1963)**
Rich in creepy atmosphere and vibrant, with a terrific opening tale of terror. Things go downhill from there to a hard-to-believe second act and end up with a too long third story. Karloff is solid as usual. Impressive production on a limited budget.
It Happened Tomorrow (1944)**
Desperately needs a stronger cast as the script is very weak and the direction stays too laid back, too droll when more screwball is needed.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Rope of Sand (1949)**
Burt Lancaster, as well as Peter Lorre and Claude Rains are wasted in this strange flick that wants to be Casablanca but is far too crude and rude and just plain non-sensical at times. Weak female lead doesn't help.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)****
Highly entertaining send-up/homage of '50's horror/sci-fi flicks mashed with '70's punk rock put together with care and wit. Tim Curry is tremendous in his film debut and the rest of the cast is top notch as well. Great tunes and well directed.
Madhouse (1974)**
Fun to see Vincent Price and Peter Cushing together in a film, even a poorly directed and even more poorly written one as this.