Friday, 22 September 2017
A drug- and gambling-addled detective in post-Katrina New Orleans investigates the killing of five Senegalese immigrants.
Abel Ferrara's masterpiece is stripped down to a hypnotic, at times surreal crime thriller within a world of lost moral barriers; the movie is mainly successful due to Nicolas Cage's intense performance.
Maltin***: "Wacky police procedural...a long, tawdry, wide-ranging yarn in which the good guys and bad guys are hard to differentiate. Cage is terrific in a no-holds-barred performance. Bear no resemblance to the 1992 film..."
A couple, despite being in a witness protection program, are being chased and confronted by the criminals they outed.
Thoroughly clichéd thriller tries hard to be more than it is, exemplified by Mickey Rourke playing a laughably incompetent hitman as a super-cool wiseguy.
Maltin**: "Routine crime thriller...Quintessential B-movie material is drained of action and suspense via pretentious treatment..., although interesting cast keeps it watchable."
Thursday, 21 September 2017
A psychopathic killer terrorizes a babysitter, then returns seven years later to menace her again.
Above-average thriller with a good cast strangely falls into three parts; the highly effective opening could be a movie in itself and is not surpassed by the rest of the film.
Halliwell (no star): "Middling screamer extended from a short, The Sitter; a passive midsection separates a suspenseful start and finish."
Maltin*1/2: "Unpleasant, improbable melodrama falls apart after OK opening segment."
Michael Weldon/Psychotronic: "The ultimate in baby-sitter horror...Although fairly predictable, it's still suspenseful and is helped by a strong cast..."
A black-ops interrogator and an FBI agent press a suspect terrorist into divulging the location of three nuclear weapons set to detonate in the U.S.
Highly dubious test arrangement about torture is unnerving with its contrived plot, stilted dialogues - and it's feigned message (in the extended version).
Maltin*1/2: "Attempts to make Jackson's character appear normal only succeed in making him seem even more psychotic. Other than Sheen's chameleon-like performance, there is no upside here. In fact, the whole movie is unthinkable."
Tuesday, 19 September 2017
A surly convicted murderer held in permanent isolation redeems himself when he becomes a renowned bird expert.
Affecting prison drama takes its time to tell its story, but gives room for many touching moments; Burt Lancaster delivers a great performance.
Halliwell*: "Overlong and rather weary biopic of Robert Shroud, who spent nearly sixry years in prison and became a cause célèbre. One cannot deny many effective moments, notably of direction, but it's a long haul."
Maltin***: "Pensive study...Film becomes static despite imaginative sidelights to enlarge scope of action."
Sunday, 17 September 2017
On its maiden voyage in April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable RMS Titanic hits an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.
Well-produced Nazi propaganda piece would be standard cinema entertainment of the time, but is marred by its subtle, but obvious political content.
Maltin**1/2: "Creditable disaster film, although the script is no more inspired than later versions of the saga."
[N.B. The film's original director was arrested during production after speaking out against the Nazi regime – he was later found hanged in prison – and the film was completed by Werner Klingler, who was not credited.
Although the film had a brief theatrical run in parts of German-occupied Europe starting in November 1943, it was not shown within Germany by order of Goebbels, who feared that it would weaken the German citizenry's morale instead of improving it. Goebbels later banned the playing of the film entirely, and it did not have a second run. Wikipedia]
A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
Spectacular landscape photography and excellent performances can't disguise the fact that this is essentially an upgraded Western revenge story.
Saturday, 16 September 2017
aka Alice Sweet Alice
After a young girl is brutally murdered during her first communion, her strange and withdrawn older sister becomes the main suspect.
Low-budget thriller comes as close to an Italian giallo as it can: excellently creepy with surreal moments and an unlikely twist.
Halliwell (no star): "Moderate low-budget thriller, mainly of interest for the brief appearances of Brooke Shields in her first film, and of Roth as a pathologist."
Maltin**: "OK murder mystery is noteworthy as Shields' feature debut..."
Michael Weldon/Psychotronic: "...this movie is excellent despite the misleading hype. It's the best-made and most unsettling psycho-shocker in ages. A violently anti-Catholic feature...The murders, although not overly gory, are hard to look at, and the audience is clearly thrown off track. You won't be sure who did it until the end, and you won't believe Mr. Alphonse!"
J. Edgar Hoover, powerful head of the F.B.I. for nearly 50 years, looks back on his professional and personal life.
Despite excellent period detail and good performances this biopic ticks off all aspects of Hoover's character only superficially and thusly doesn't lift itself above any former G-Men pic.
Maltin**: "One-note portrait of J. Edgar Hoover...Long, often boring account.....provides litle insight or understanding. DiCaprio works hard, but is miscast and never embodies the bulldog-like Hoover. Hammer's old-age makeup is so ludicrous it almost torpedoes the entire film."
A lawyer is asked to come to the police station to clear up a few loose ends in his witness report of a foul murder.
Remake of Garde a vue: a murder mystery staged as a closed-room drama with the two male leads playing at their best, but still can't make the ending more believable - the original managed that much better.
On renewed viewing: I still agree with my initial opinion, the performances make it quite watchable.
Halliwell (no star): "Disappointing duel between two fine actors, who are not helped by the hyperkinetic style of the director. The result is much less compelling than the French original The Inquisitor/Garde a vue."
Maltin**1/2: "Hopkins uses some imaginative techniques, and the two leads are excellent, as usual, but overall it's routine and familiar."
Friday, 15 September 2017
An ex-logger comes to the aid of a woman who returns to her hometown in the Pacific Northwest and finds herself harassed and stalked by a former cop turned crime lord.
Well-made adaptation of the Castle Freeman Jr. novel has an excellent cast and beautiful landscape photography, but is told like a slow-paced, but unremarkable modern-day Western abandoning the more complex and ambiguous plot of the book.
A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.
The movie manages to recreate the TV series not-so-serious tone and does entertain in that fashion, but is weighed down by over-the-top (and expensive) pyrotechnics.
Maltin**1/2: "A B movie tricked out with big-budget production values...Neeson establishes the seriocomic tone with self-mocking sass and steely-eyed authority. Overdone, to be sure, but surprisingly entertaining."
Thursday, 14 September 2017
Werner Herzog examines the past, present and future of the Internet and how it affects human interaction and modern society.
Typically for its director this exploration of digital technology is more essay than documentary crisscrossing the topic from seemingly random angles, but nonetheless presenting some astounding insights.