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Lady in White (1988)
To Kill a Mockingbird meets It's a Wonderful Life
Come back with me to 1962. The setting? Willowpoint Falls, NY. Thus begins Frank LaLoggia's beautiful and atmospheric LADY IN WHITE, a ghost story that is so much more. The story begins with a famous author recanting the early days of his childhood in a small New York village. Frankie Scarlatti, played by Lukas Haas, two years after his impressive turn in Peter Weir's WITNESS, is coping with the death of his mother, being raised by his father Angelo (the late, great Alex Rocco) and his grandparents (they provide some wonderful comic relief). His older brother Geno (Jason Presson) is a pain, but they share a mutual affection. All in all, his childhood is mostly normal. But after fellow students lock him in the school cloakroom, he comes across the ghost of a little girl that will change his life forever.
LaLoggia helmed 1981's FEAR NO EVIL, but that outing is far and away different that this story, which combines the innocence of childhood and the brutality of adulthood. Haas and Rocco are excellent, as are Len Cariou and Katherine Helmond in supporting roles. Classified as a horror movie by many critics, it takes on a traditional ghost story, and turns it into so much more. A subplot about a black janitor and a connection to the story makes you feel as if you were reading Harper Lee's novel in the way it was presented, but it does tie the story into its ultimate conclusion. Rarely has a movie captured childhood and it's turn into adulthood so beautifully. Scary and heartwarming, it's a movie that you won't soon forget.
Kiss Me Goodbye (1982)
Kiss Me Goodbye: Entertaining but not quite memorable
I realize this movie is a remake of the 1978 Brazilian classic 'Dona Flor and Her Husbands' with the stunning Sonia Braga..but some things should be left alone. While I adore Sally Field, she seems majorly miscast as Kay Villano, widow of philandering choreographer Jolly Villano, played by James Caan, who also seems woefully miscast. Jeff Bridges is delightful as Rupert, the befuddled Egyptologist in love with Kay, and a hilarious standout, especially during the scenes in the diner, and at the inn. Claire Trevor is smashing as Kay's mother, an acid tongued woman who still holds her late son in law in high regard. The dialogue seems stilted at times, and some of the humor forced, with a silly subplot about exorcism. There is a basic sweetness about the movie, and the thought of a ghost of a husband wanting his wife to move on irresistible (which 'Ghost' did so much better 8 years later). But Robert Mulligan (who helmed 'Summer of '42 and 'The Man in the Moon'..two classics if you've never seen them) lacks that light touch that would have made this a classic. This is like a fine meal, elegantly prepared, but after you've had a bite..it leaves an unpleasant taste on your palate.
Daddy's Gone A-Hunting (1969)
A gem of a thriller..if you overlook the main character
The premise of the movie is simple enough..Cathy, a young, beautiful girl arrives in America to find work, meets Kenneth, a handsome young photographer, they fall in love, but it turns out the young man isn't all he seems to be, and when she learns she's pregnant, she decides she doesn't want him-or the baby and has an abortion, and he decides to seek revenge.
The setting is San Francisco, and the visuals are well played out in the city, along with a taut, tense script by Lorenzo Semple and Larry Cohen, with sure footed direction by Mark Robson, fresh off of his smash hit 'Valley of the Dolls' two years earlier. The cast includes Mala Powers as a sympathetic coworker of Cathy's who talks her into the abortion, Paul Burke (fresh off of his work as Lyon Burke in 'Valley') as Cathy's new husband, a senator wanna be, and of course, Scott Hylands, who as Kenneth, brings a creepiness to his role, but at the same time, you do feel for him as the spurned lover who wants revenge for the abortion that Cathy decides to get.
The only weak link in this movie is Carol White as Cathy. Beautiful as the young Brit who arrives to seek work and becomes involved in a nightmare, is harsh, childish, and for most of the movie, a total bitch. You never feel how Paul Burke's character fell for her, suddenly they are wedded, and there is very little passion between them in their scenes. She comes across shrill, completely obnoxious, and downright hateful. You wonder if she really wanted to have a baby in the first place with the way she acts. For the most part, this movie is a fine addition to the 'damsel in distress' genre, but having a heroine that is more sympathetic might have worked much better.
Stranger with My Face (2009)
Did Lois Duncan approve this script???
I waited and waited and waited for this movie to get better, and when it did, it was too late. I kept referring back to the book, which was very detailed, and although I understand it is normal to take poetic license with a book, there were a few glaring errors: (WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS)
1. James Stratton doesn't die in the book, and it is Shelley (the mother) who is the painter, NOT Laurie.
2. Helen Tuttle is the one who introduces Laurie to 'astral projection' in the novel..they completely destroyed her character in the movie, making her a somewhat psychic, but unbelieving character, making believe that Laurie suddenly 'discovered' astral projection' on her own.
3. The Native American aspect was totally ignored, as mentioned in the last post. It is the fetish that is supposed to protect Laurie and has a very prominent story point at the end of the novel.
For the most part, it was only during the last part of the movie did the true nature of Lois Duncan's excellent YA novel come through...but for me it was a waste of time. 2 out of 5 stars. I am sure Lois Duncan didn't approve of this. I'd love to hear what she thought.
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
'The Haunting' a turkey!!!???
While you are entitled to your opinion, I cannot believe you think 'The Haunting' is a turkey..it is still one of the most frightening movies EVER released..from the superior acting of Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn, Lois Maxwell (during her Miss Moneypenny period) and Richard Johnson, the visual style of the film, Davis Boulton's cinematography, and the eerie score by Humphrey Searle, it stands as one of the most disturbing and unsettling movies ever released. Most critics hail this movie as a masterpiece, and while you never see the spirits, you feel their presence, and the slow breakdown of Eleanor's psyche only adds to the already crumbling emotions of the players as the horror increases. This movie is what most horror films strive to be, but rarely do...this one truly scares..and while I loved 'The Haunting of Hell House', it was released at the same time as 'The Exorcist', and the moment where Pamela Franklin starts to spout off profanity was a lame attempt at aping Linda Blair's performance...so both have their merits as haunted house films..but give 'The Haunting' another chance..watch it in a dark unlit room..see how far you get..
Away from Her (2006)
'Away From Her'...A shattering experience
One of the most powerful films I have ever seen, 'Away From Her' should be seen, just for the sheer power of Julie Christie's performance. She is not only still breathtakingly beautiful, but she is still capable of delivering an Oscar worthy performance, and this proves what stars are made of. Rounding out the cast is Gordon Pinsent, heartbreaking as her husband, Olympia Dukakis, a surprising choice, but deeply affecting, Michael Murphy, who, even without saying a word, conveys deep emotion and pain, and Wendy Crewson, who may appear to be shrewish, and uncaring, but a layer of years of observing many patients have made her vulnerable to the ravages of the disease. With Sarah Polley's hand at directing, so self assured as an actress, this movie should at least get an Oscar nod. It is definitely worth your time and patience. This is a movie not to be missed.
Georgia Rule (2007)
This movie was a train wreck!
If Lindsey Lohan wanted to destroy her career before her substance abuse problem, this movie would have done it. An embarrassing mishmash, Lindsey elicits NO sympathy, since in the first ten minutes she plays herself up as a slut. By the middle of the movie she is having a 'popsicle party' with Garrett Hedlund's character, trying to seduce Dermot Mulroney (I wanted his character to be Rachel's REAL dad..would have added to the repulsiveness of it all), and trying to convince his girlfriend that nothing happened, all while wearing a peasant blouse that showed off most of her cleavage. Now, Jane Fonda's return to the screen with 'Monster In Law' was funny enough, but she must have been desperate to earn a paycheck. She is unfunny, unsympathetic, and annoying. You prayed she would pull out her costume from 'Barbarella' and team up with Lindsey to sleep with most of Idaho. Felicity Huffman, coming off of her triumph in 'Transamerica', chews the scenery as if she was intoxicated throughout the entire film. Cary Elwes, light years from 'The Princess Bride' is a waste, and one wonders why someone as self centered as his character would try to molest someone like Rachel's character, even though it appears the molestation made her a slut. Garry Marshall should have called it 'Pretty Women: 17 Years Later'...it might have actually made money.