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Waterloo Bridge (1931)
This takes place during WW1. Soldier Roy (Kent Douglass) meets and falls in love with Myra (Mae Clarke). She tells him she's a chorus girl but she's actually a prostitute. She falls in love with him too but is racked with guilt over lying to him. It all leads to a predictable (but moving) tragic ending.
Excellent drama based on a play. It was remade in 1940 but that version was toned down to appease the Production Code. This version is uncut and (for its time) pretty raw. It was made with top production values and beautifully directed by James Whale. Douglass is very good as Roy (if a little overly naive) but Clarke is excellent as Myra. Her pain and agony comes through in every scene. More surprising is that some members of Roy's family figures out what she does--and could care less. The ending is somewhat predictable but damned if it didn't have me crying. Also is has a young Bette Davis in a supporting role! Recommended.
Thriller: Rose's Last Summer (1960)
Poor Astor reduced to this!
Mary Astor plays a faded alcoholic Hollywood star. She does find work as a sort of housekeeper--but she's very secretive about it. Then she'd discovered dead. Her ex-doctor (Lin McCathy) and one of her ex-husbands (Jack Livesey) thinks there's something peculiar about her death...they just don't know what it is (!!!). What follows is a VERY boring tale of murder.
Poor Astor. Was she really THIS desperate to work? She's wonderful in this but the story itself is so stupid, boring and full of plot holes that it's beyond belief. I tried watching this three times and each time fell asleep! Each time I woke up at the end and was able to easily figure out what I had missed. We're supposed to believe that the killers murdered someone and leave the body inside their backyard instantly pointing suspicion on them. And why exactly are the doctor and ex-husband so sure there was anything suspicious going on? They have absolutely nothing to go on. I could go on and on about this but it's hardly worth it. A very poor episode of the Thriller TV series.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)
I like it but the novelty is gone
When "Sin City" came out in 2005 it was a big hit and astounded people with its dark tone and mixture of b&w and color photography. Why they waited NINE YEARS to do a prequel/sequel (its both) I'll never know but the novelty is gone. This consists of three stories. Two of them are pretty short and bookend the movie. One has Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Johnny who has a score to settle with evil and powerful Senator Roark (Powers Boothe). The other has stripper Nancy (Jessica Alba) who ALSO has a score to settle with Roark. The main story has Dwight (Josh Brolin) getting involved with a beautiful and very deadly femme fatale (Eva Green).
The good: the photography is great--there's some truly stunning scenes here; Brolin, Green, Mickey Rourke are Rosario Dawson are great in their roles; there's plenty of action (and violence); it moves QUICKLY and the sex sequence between Green and Brolin is HOT. The bad: Alba is just downright horrendous in her role; Boothe REALLY overplays his evil; there's tons of gratuitous female nudity (all done by Green) and the nonstop viciousness and violence wears one down. Still I'm not sorry I saw the film. It's just too little too late.
Quick and great noir thriller
A man (beautifully played by Edmond O'Brien) finds out he's been given a slow acting poison and has only a few days to live. He has to find out who did it...and why.
VERY quick (83 minutes) but great noir thriller. It's beautifully directed (nice use of outdoor locations) and has many twists and turns. O'Brien was a great character actor and he's given a rare lead role here. He's just great as a man who knows he's dying but doesn't know why. The rest of the acting is all pretty good. It's not a perfect movie. There's some terrible love scenes between him and his girlfriend and it gets TOO complicated. There are so many characters and incidents going at such a quick pace it sometimes gets confusing. I don't think the ultimate resolution makes much sense either. Still I loved it while watching it and I recommend it.
Road Trip (2000)
Crude, stupid and unfunny
High school sweethearts Josh (Breckin Meyer) and Tiffany (Rachel Blanchard) are separated when they attend different colleges. She's in Texas, he's in New York. One night a girl seduces Josh and tapes the whole thing. Through ridiculous circumstances he mistakenly sends that tape to Tiffany. When he realizes what he did he decides to drive from NY to TX to get there before the tape (guess he couldn't afford a plane). He naturally brings along three friends (played by Seann William Scott, Paulo Costanzo and DJ Qualls) and "hilarious" complications ensure.
I have no problem with gross out humor (which this film has plenty of) but I just ask that it be funny. Unfortunately this film fails in that. The humor is gross but not funny at all. Joke after joke falls flat. I don't think I even smiled once let alone laugh. Even worse we have the endlessly annoying Tom Green serving as a narrator. If you're watching this for female nudity dream on. There's some but VERY little and it just seems to be done in an obligatory manner. Worst of all they start throwing in little moral messages at the end! There's nothing worse than a gross-out film that tries to pretend that it's a nice film! And Amy Smart is on hand giving a dreadful performance.
The only thing that made this bearable were two good performances by the very likable Meyer and Scott (playing down his goofiness). But, all in all, I was either bored or disgusted. You can safely skip this one.
Boring and not scary
Cathy is a sweet little girl who moves into his father's boyhood home with him and her mom. Twenty years earlier a little girl had also lived there but had died in a car accident. Cathy gets her room and (for no good reason) becomes possessed by the spirit of the dead little girl through a rag doll. She begins acting nasty, swearing, speaking in a man's voice, disappearing at will (???), causing things to move about and killing two people and a dog.
Slow, dull "Exorcist" clone with a pointless story, terrible script, VERY bad acting, clumsy "special" effects, laughable gore and it just isn't scary or even remotely interesting. There is no rhyme or reason to her seemingly limitless powers and her anger at everything makes absolutely no sense. Also the R rating is not warranted. The gore is limited to one scene and there's no nudity, sex or swearing. If you have to see EVERY "Exorcist" clone ever made than this is for you. Otherwise stay away.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Very good comic book movie
Movie follows Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and a band of various characters--green-skinned vicious Gamora (Zoe Saldana), muscle-bound angry Drax (Dave Bautista), Groot a talking tree (voice of Vin Diesel)and an angry raccoon named Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper). They're trying to keep an orb out of the hands of a bad guy determined to rule and destroy the universe with it.
OK--I liked this but I didn't love it. It moves quickly, the special effects are incredible (especially in 3-D), there's plenty of action and fights and Rocket is LOTS of fun. However there are gaps in plot and story (I'm assuming they're saving them for the sequel), it gets way too sentimental at times (they keep cramming the message that friends are good down your throat) and I didn't think Pratt was all that good. He's all handsome and muscular but I thought his acting was pretty bad. I didn't find him endearing or that interesting. Actually none of the acting was that impressive. Rocket comes across as the most engaging character in the film (seriously--how often do you get to see a raccoon with an attitude?). Also I didn't find it that funny. There were plenty of amusing lines but that's all they were--amusing. I didn't laugh once. Still it was a fun summer movie. Worth catching.
Thriller: The Mark of the Hand (1960)
Boring and far-fetched
A man is shot to death right at the beginning. A little 8 year old is believed the be guilty of his murder (she's holding the gun that shot him). But, for no good reason, the kid refuses to speak to anybody at all about anything. Did she do it or was it someone else? You'll probably figure it out long before the end.
This is from the first season on the "Thriller" TV series. I heard that the show was mostly supposed to be horror but I'm finding out it started out with mostly suspense dramas. That's unfortunately true and they aren't that good. This is, so far, the worst one I've seen from season one (I'm watching them in order). The script is pretty stupid with too many characters and lots of implausible elements--the kid not speaking doesn't even scratch the surface. To make it worse is there's some terrible overacting AND underacting (quite a feat that). A pretty dull 45 minutes. You can safely skip this one.
L'inconnu du lac (2013)
Has it moments but not enough
The lake in the title is a place where men go to skinny dip or wander off into the woods to have gay sex. Cute young Franck meets tall hunky Michel there and falls for him. Then he sees Michel drown another man. He wants to tell the police but he's in love with Michel and starts having sex with him. Can he ever turn Michel in?
This got a lot of controversy when it was released in the US. It has quite a bit of full frontal (and back)male nudity, hardcore gay sex and a lengthy simulated sex scene between the two leads. It was never rated (it would have gotten an NC-17 easily) but no one under 17 was admitted to the cinema. It got raves over here and did fairly good in the art house circuit. It also won Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival. I can't see why. It IS well-directed but Best Director??? Hardly. The film has plenty of male nudity (there's no females in the film at all) and sex but it also moves at a snails pace. I dozed off twice! Even worse the film has no ending. If just sort of stops with no resolution to the conflict. I'm giving if 5 stars for the beautiful cinematography and the two main leads. They're handsome, can act and have great bodies. Also some of the nudity and sex was hot. Still I was more bored than anything else.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
One of the most truthful movies on teenagers
Jim Stark (James Dean) is a teenage boy who is always getting into trouble. His parents give him lots of things but never listen to him. Judy (Natalie Wood) has an understanding mother but a father who hates her. Plato (Sal Mineo) has a father who never sees him and a mother who's never around and has no friends and is gay (implied heavily). He falls in love with Jim and Jim becomes attracted to Judy...but it all leads to tragedy and death.
Rightfully classic movie. It caught EXACTLY how it feels to be a teenager and treated its characters with sympathy. It spoke to a whole generation of kids and was a huge hit. Also it defined James Dean forever. He was already dead when this came out but that didn't stop him from becoming an idol to thousands of teenage boys who wanted to be just like him. Also it dared to have a gay character. Plato is (obviously) in love with Jim. It's never made explicit that he's gay (the Production Code wouldn't allow that in a movie back then) but it's pretty obvious through the looks Plato is constantly giving Jim. The acting is excellent across the board but Dean, Wood and Mineo are superb--especially Dean. When Dean yells out, "You're tearing me apart!" in one scene his anger and pain comes leaping off the screen. Also it's kind of fun to see Dennis Hopper so young. It is dated in terms of some dialogue and situations but I think any teenager can relate to the characters and their feelings. A must-see movie.