Reviews written by registered user

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699 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Mildly Interesting, 17 October 2017

I really like WWII pictures, especially those about resistance to the Nazi's - Underground fighters. So I was somewhat disappointed to find "The Zookeeper's Wife" fall short of expectations. It was based on a true story and there was a lot to work with here, lots of possibilities. But the overall feel of the film I thought was wrong and the whole production lacked an element of verisimilitude, and did not 'suspend the disbelief', as the saying goes. It looked stagey, as though filmed on a backlot - but it was filmed on location, in Prague.

My other misgiving was that the main character, Jessica Chastain, was wrong for the part. It made me think she lacked the charisma to carry a picture - she did not have the necessary star quality. Johan Heldenbergh as her husband was excellent as was Daniel Bruhl, who played the Nazi officer hoping to become the hypotenuse in a would-be love triangle. It is worth a look to confirm suspicions, but there have been so many better resistance movies.

Underrated Antique, 17 October 2017

"Black Sheep" is unheralded, underrated, far-fetched and great fun. Loved every minute of the snappy dialogue and the fast-paced plot. I wished they had made a series of these as it was very entertaining - it's what makes people sing "That's Entertainment" when watching a terrific movie (They do, don't they?)

Good chemistry between Lowe and Trevor, who shows a flair for comedy I didn't know she had. Lowe is suave and debonair - he played too many roles requiring a dour and serious demeanor and here he gets a chance to smile and unwind in this breezy comedy. It is dated and takes place aboard a transatlantic ocean liner with the accompanying obsolete manners and customs, but if you are a fan of the best movies of Hollywood's so-called Golden Age, this one's for you.

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
A-Hunting We Will Go, 6 October 2017

Elmer Fudd sings this song in several cartoons, and he is referenced by the grandfather in this grim story of survival in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness. That may be the only hint of humor to be found, as a father and son track down moose until tragedy strikes. The second half of the picture is as gritty and harrowing as any you will ever see this side of a National Geographic special.

Cal evidently gets custody of his son David every summer, but in the mountain country where he lives it's always winter. David is not happy with the arrangement and finds out right away he can't get a signal on his iphone. He is a city kid and his dad is a hunter; they mix like oil and water. They begin as polar opposites but in the end they are bonded, in as gripping and unexpected a finale as you can find in a slow starting movie.

I disagree with a reviewer who felt the music background was inappropriate. I felt it was just right - unobtrusive and complementary. Never saw either of these actors before but they were effective and had chemistry between them. "Walking Out" is an underrated indie and deserves a bigger market. It starts like a travelogue but is a very affecting film; amazing what the human spirit can do when faced with severe adversity.

N.B. The setting is similar to "Wind River", which has a more intricate plot.

Great Chaney, 13 September 2017

"West Of Zanzibar" is so wildly improbable that it needs some masterful acting to hold it together. That is where Lon Chaney comes in, with another of his patented acting performances. You've no doubt read other reviews on the website and gotten the gist of the story, which might sound like comedy material to some. But Chaney delivers as Phroso/"Dead Legs", cuckolded magician turned Emperor in darkest Africa. His face reflects a spectrum of emotions from anguish to amused contempt and he puts the picture over.

He is not without help, as MGM has surrounded him with a stellar cast; Warner Baxter, Lionel Barrymore and Mary Nolan make up the supporting players. In short, "West Of Zanzibar" is not one of Chaney's minor films, but another example of this splendid actor's marvelous talent, a great actor who died too soon. Although it is technically in the sound era, it is a silent picture - Chaney made only one sound film before his death.

Breezy Bulldog, 12 September 2017

The Bulldog Drummond series of films are enjoyable and easy on the IQ. All you have to do is go with the plot and don't ask questions and it's all great fun. This is the first of a newer series (earlier ones starred Ralph Richardson and Ronald Colman) and it stars Ray Milland as a dashing, youthful Bulldog, though in truth, he's a bit over the top with a hyper demeanor and often with a maniacal grin.

The cast makes this entry interesting with Reginald Denny as Algy and E.E. Clive as his butler/backup and Porter Hall against type as the villain. There are plot holes and non sequiturs galore but these are typical of this type of entertainment in the 30's. The most egregious I found is in the beginning the damsel in distress (Heather Angel) steals Drummond's car and drives to the estate ... where she is being held prisoner. Don't ask, just enjoy some mindless fun from Paramount.

Well Done, 8 September 2017

"The Unknown Girl" is one of the most refreshing and original pictures to come out in several years. It is a character study of a female doctor coming to grips with her conscience as she ignores a frantic after-hours caller who is subsequently killed. She becomes a part- time detective to find out what happened to the girl, becoming obsessed at the expense of her practice and at considerable risk to her own safety.

French actress Adele Haenel gives a thoughtful, understated performance as the doctor/ detective. She is in nearly every scene, wearing a hooded parka out of season and with a determined innocence and disregard for normal investigative procedure, which she improvises as she goes. The film achieves the 'suspension of disbelief' necessary for films to work, and receives great assistance from an almost-perfect mise en scene on the streets of Liege, Belgium. It becomes real, for an hour and 50 minutes. Ignore bad reviews and see if you agree it is as close to perfection as filmdom can get.

B-Feature Fun, 5 September 2017

Lots of laughs and smiles in this second feature from Warners. Billed as a comedy/mystery, it is heavy on the comedy, not so much on the mystery. Wayne Morris is duped into becoming the fourth husband of Alexis Smith, in an attempt to break the "curse", the curse being that the other three husbands died under mysterious circumstances.

It is all harmless fun - and try to avoid making sense of some plot holes. Just go with the show. Willie Best is at his pop-eyed best with lots of the nonsensical replies which became his trademark. Charles Halton is the only one out of place here and was clearly not cut out for comedy. If it shows up in the TV guide one day, you could do a lot worse than "The Smiling Ghost".

Old-Time Chiller, 29 August 2017

"Island of Lost Souls" is a wheezy antique, but so well done I couldn't turn it off (or since I DVD'd it, pause it). Don't know how I missed it since it's been around for ages, but it held my interest from start to finish. It is an example of old Hollywood's reversal of the clichéd 'form over substance', as now movies are overpowered by special effects and digital styling. This one is a fascinating story brought to the screen by professionalism in all phases of production as it existed in the 1930's.

It is a riveting performance by Charles Laughton that gives the picture currency, and he is ably supported by a youthful-looking Richard Arlen and by Kathleen Burke as Lota the Panther woman, "My best creation", according to Laughton. Long story short, it is an interesting and absorbing screen adaptation of a novel as has ever been produced by Hollywood - before or since.

Screen Adaptation Of A Gothic Novel, 22 August 2017

Creepy and atmospheric chiller with an excellent cast and it works almost all the way through. Set in the 19th century this Wilkie Collins-based story tells of a upper class household that is not as wholesome and upstanding as it appears. Seems there is a ghost, or at least an elusive apparition, of a dead ringer for the heroine of the story, both played by Eleanor Parker. There are hushed up discussions and secret meetings all over the estate, presided over by a sinister Sidney Greenstreet, and to the consternation of our hero, Gig Young.

All goes well until about 20 minutes to go in the story, when it seems to fall apart. I often think that filmmakers and screenwriters come up with a great idea for a movie and then can't figure out how to end it. I think that has happened here, although the picture is very entertaining up to that point. I am making special mention of John Abbott, who plays the hypochondriac master of the estate, and is a joy to behold. He gives the film an acceptable rating in my book with a terrifically amusing portrayal, and needed more screen time to ward off the anticlimactic ending.

Cornpone Short, 19 August 2017

Comedy short that would be a filler between features (remember double features?) with some backwoods humor. Summers and Hunt were like a countrified Burns & Allen, he the straight man and she gets all the laughs. They stand before the camera with the backdrop a square dance in a barn, and they trade banter in rural accents. Some jokes are very dated but still funny, with some double entendre added for good measure. They are dressed in old fashioned farm-type costumes to heighten the comical milieu.

"Some Pumpkins" is their only short. The couple were married in 1914 and were a vaudeville team even before their marriage. It is harmless fun and Ms. Hunt adds an odd sing-song high pitched voice to make the skit even funnier. It was borrowed from the UCLA Film Archives and shown at Capitolfest, Rome, NY, 8/17.

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