Saturday, 21 October 2017

King Kong (1933)

Allied (2016)

In 1942, a Canadian intelligence officer in North Africa encounters a female French Resistance fighter on a deadly mission behind enemy lines, and when they reunite in London, their relationship is tested by the pressures of war.

Old-fashioned WWII espionage romance drama has a good cast and production value, but doesn't quite convince as it only partially reveals its mystery.

Ladies Should Listen (1934)

La figlia di Frankenstein (1971)

When Dr. Frankenstein is killed by a monster he created, his daughter and his lab assistant Marshall continue his experiments.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Howling (1981)

German poster

New acquisition: Fargo - Season 3

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)

Child 44 (2015)

A disgraced member of the Russian military police investigates a series of child murders during the Stalin-era Soviet Union.

An interesting topic is spoilt by an overladen plot with a cop on the run from the government and at the same time investigating a suppressed serial killer murder series, romance and personal intrigues included.

Norma Shearer

(ph: George Hurrell)

Gods and Monsters (1998)

The last days of the life of famed and disgraced film director James Whale.

Carefully staged period drama with an excellent cast and some lovable details, but a bit lighthearted considering the topic.

Halliwell**: "Enjoyable, if fictional, account of the last days of a director who reinvented himself in America as a middle-class Englishman and a master of horror; if the material is sometimes a little thin, the acting carries it through."

Maltin***1/2: "Exceptional (if entirely fictional) character study of film director James Whale...An exquisite rendering of time and place, with a superb performance by McKellen, matched by Fraser...and Redgrave...A quiet, deliberately paced film; beautifully rendered, with a unique blend of flashback and hallucination."

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Curt Siodmak

A Single Man (2009)

An English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles.

Intense psychological study, the professor's homsexuality just one aspect of his person, has a timeless quality to it (you hardly notice that it is set in the 60s) and offers Colin Firth one of his best roles.

On rewatching: the story appears a bit silly and maybe it's satirical; visually, the movie is a joy to watch.

Maltin***: "Flawlessly detailed visualization of Christopher Isherwood's landmark novel benefits from a superb performance by Firth, but its resolute restraint also keeps it a bit aloof at times. Impressive directorial debut by fashion designer Ford..."

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Barbra Streisand

(ph: Lawrence Schiller)

Pi (1998)

A paranoid mathematician searches for a key number that will unlock the universal patterns found in nature.

Intense low-budget indie debut of director Darren Aronofsky fascinates with its b/w expressionistic cinematography and overheated maniacal story; you do have to ignore the science, though, if you know a bit about math.

Halliwell**: "Gripping, clever theological and psychological thriller, which is less about explanations than observing varieties of monomania in action."

Maltin**1/2: "...this attention-getter is a true original. Well acted by a no-name cast and, we hope, a harbinger of things to come from filmmaker Darren Aronofsky."

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Nancy Kwan

Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (1974)

A master swordsman and former soldier and his hunchbacked assistant hunt vampires.

Above-average, but a bit off-kilter Hammer horror movie that creates some atmosphere, but Herr Janson's performance and his cloak-and-dagger fighting skills are quite meager.

Halliwell*: "Lively horror yarn with amusing asides."

Maltin***: "Unique blend of horror and swashbuckler genres...Artsy, exciting, almost intoxicatingly atmospheric thriller has developed considerable following; one of the best (and least typical) Hammer productions."

Michael Weldon/Psychotronic: "Too bad this fun vampire adventure got lost on a double bill with the inferior Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, because it's really good...The vampire lore is mostly new and the film works as an adventure and a comedy."

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Black Cat (1934)

New acquisition: Polytechnique (2009)

Sin nombre (2009)

A Honduran young girl and a Mexican gangster are united in a journey across the American border. 
Highly realistic movie, both immigration and gangster drama, convinces as social study and thrills with its suspenseful story.
Maltin***: "Vivid, painfully believable drama...Borders on melodrama, with almost Shakespearan overtones yet palpably real every step of the way."

Ben Blue

Los abrazos rotos (2009)

Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches this moment in time when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years back, when he was then still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie.

Although the story is complex, offered in multiple time leaps and film-in-film sequences, it is less original, but more a homage to the director's love of cinema; as usual with Pedro Almodóvar the movie thrills with its exuberant visual quality and the ensemble's interplay.

Maltin***1/2: "Sinuous, mesmerizing story plays out in two time frames; along the way Pedro Almodóvar pays homage to Audrey Hepburn, Roberto Rossellini, and film noir. He also fashioned another perfect vehicle for Cruz's talent and beauty."

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Yvonne Craig**

Metropolis (1927)

The Danish Girl (2015)

A fictitious love story loosely inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener whose marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili's groundbreaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

Heart-wrenching period drama intensely explores the implications of deciding to change one's gender, but at heart the amazing performances of the two leads make this movie a near masterpiece.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

On the set: Michael Rennie

Jane Eyre (2011)

A mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer soon discovers that he's hiding a terrible secret.

Masterful adaptation of  Charlotte Brontë's classic novel is brilliant in all departments and manages to translate the complex relationship to the screen, highlighted by the perfect performances by Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.

Maltin***: "Wasikowska is well cast...Exquisite but restrained interpretation rests largely on its talented leading lady's shoulders. Screenwriter Moira Buffini has juggled the chronology of the novel but retained its dramatic power."

New acquisition: Hellraiser (1987)

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Anna Kendrick

Prisoners (2013)

When two little girls go missing, a father takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts.

An otherwise ordinary crime drama is, although a bit overlong, enhanced by subtle and detailed direction, excellent cinematography and some highly nuanced performances.

Maltin**1/2: "Relentlessly dark and intense, this film depicts every parent's  nightmare but leaves the backstory of its obsessive cop (Gyllenhal) frustratingly incomplete and winds up in strangely perverted territory. Uncompromising American feature debut for director Villeneuve..."

Sight & Sound

Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

A young blade runner's discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years.

Highly successful sequel to a sci-fi classic, visually stunning and with an even more bleak neo-noir vision of the future, assembles an excellent cast for its complex, a bit overwrought - and overlong - story.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Polly Bergen

Taxi (2015)

Jafar Panahi is banned from making movies by the Iranian government, he poses as a taxi driver and makes a movie about social challenges in Iran.
Brilliantly simple, leight-weight and at times humorous semi-documentary displays a lot about everyday life - and censorship - Iran.

Multiple Maniacs (1970)

(ph: Lawrence Irvine)

Youth (2015)

A retired orchestra conductor is on holiday with his daughter and his film director best friend in the Alps when he receives an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II to perform for Prince Philip's birthday.

Carefully crafted and highly artificial comedy-drama merely touches its existential topics without much depth, but assembles a fine cast for the journey.