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The Two Faces of January (2014)
I really wanted to like this seeing it was a Highsmith novel, great cast, beautiful locales and gorgeous photography. But the director and screenwriter wanted to film a suspense movie without any suspense. Every thrill is telegraphed, no tension, no tricky storyline..just a straight forward, boring at times, direct to video b-film. Jeez if they just watched a Hitchcock film they could have aced this.
Unfortunately, it just lumbers along and then....there went that one and a half hour of your life. Worth a watch cause it does "look" good and if you're not paying for it, nevertheless in the end you'll be disappointed.
The Salvation (2014)
To paraphrase the film...
"We've been praying for someone to come along and save us" from bad modern westerns.
No need to saying anything more about this sweet Danish that others haven't said better. Leave it to the Danes to strip down the baggage of the Italian spaghetti western and reinvent it. Fantastic cinematography, expert casting and streamline story telling. The first five minutes are in Danish without subtitles but in a unique way that adds to the growing tension. I would warn viewers that the build up to putting Mads into Eastwood mode in very nasty and, personally, was hard to watch.
Find a way to watch this dark, brutal take on frontier savagery and justice...love to see a sequel..
New Orleans After Dark (1958)
Clasically bad cinema
I recently watched this 1950 pot-boiler when I got it as a trade from another film noir collector. It's truly classic bad cinema - unknown and never going anywhere actors, hard-over-boiled dialog, minimalist acting, cheesy production values, poor film stock and a script that seems to have been put together on the fly. Nevertheless the direction and editing are not bad, on location shots of N.O. are excellent and the sleazy story is worth watching.
Essentially two NOLA cops go under cover to track down a Mafia drug kingpin who has re-entered the country to sell "junk" to the prostitutes and "hopheads" on Bourbon Street. Highlights include a cowboy boot killer, assorted lowlifes, strippers being slap around and murdered by Mr. Big, cop beatings and colorful Negros playing and singing their hearts out.
A train-wreck of a movie - highly recommended for us who love this stuff.
Give It A Name
I recently discovered this film, on a recommendation from a friend, and while it is overwritten, in parts slow, runs a half and hour too long, has unnecessary sub-plots and tries too hard to be slick (dialogue, visuals and character actors), I got to admit it has a way of sticking with you.
I won't defend it to those whose don't get the message (and it does have a message - hint: it's Piece's speech to Jimmy and in the words from the customers at Jimmy's business) but as a fan of 1940 - 50s film noir this movie has the "heart" lacking in most modern noirs. True noir is the realization that no matter what your good intentions, your best efforts, your thinking it through looking for an exit, when fate puts a finger on you....you're going down. Thankfully, the film doesn't cop out (well maybe a little in the "boat drinks" scene at the end) like most modern noir (LA CONFIDENTIAL to name one). In true noir fashion "everybody dies in the end".
Yes, it seems like it's channeling Tarantino (the truth is it was written well before PULP FICTION) nevertheless the soul of the film is the turmoil within Jimmy. Like a cancer patient that's been given the bad news...First there's denial, then anger, and finally acceptance. Everybody's a sucker for a romance (especially with women who look like Gabielle Adwar) and the film works best when it concentrates on their doomed relationship. Jimmy thinks he's different because he thinks he can change his life and his fate, but its not possible, he finally realizes that, closes his accounts and accept it.
There's a good film in there once you weed through the extranious crap, watch it a second time and you might understand it's truth: you got to live each day like it's your last because one day it will be.
The Great War (1964)
AN OPINION FROM ACROSS THE POND
As a great fan of THE WORLD AT WAR series, THE GREAT WAR was not a disappointment. Essential the same layout, THE GREAT WAR is the best series on WWI. Leave it to the Brits to make a fantastic documentary on this subject, vastly superior to later efforts like the the Robert Ryan / CBS series, the 1990's THE GREAT WAR series and film THE GUNS OF AUGUST.
If there is a fault, it's that is it doesn't move at the quick pace of the THE WORLD AT WAR, but hey, WWII is a much more exciting war. Also, if you live in the states only PAL versions are available. I picked mine up on EBAY, the Chinese version with subtitles.
Other than that it makes a must bookend for TWAW.
Mean Spirted, Indian Hating Western
I've seen a lot of westerns but this film is probably the most racist piece of trash ever made. The action sequences are ok but the real problem with it is absolutely everybody is characterized to be pure evil, with the exception of Brian Keith who just appears to be stupid. Every Indian acts like a crazy, murderous savage and the hero (?), Heston (Over acting in the extreme) is the nastiest character in any western film history I've ever seen.
Don't waste your time!
Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Yeah, but now they're smoking!!!!
Finally got to see this film having wanted to for sometime. The film is noteworthy for great performances by Lemmon and Remick, but the real surprise is Klugman (Really a breakout performance).
Depressing story about additive personalities who claim booze as a buddy and don't address their real problem - poor upbringing, loneliness, and self-destruction. Funniest thing is all the people at the AA meeting in the smoke-filled room, puffing away at their new addiction....smoking. Just trading one death vice for another.
When are they going to do a story about the real problem of credit card abuse and living beyond your means?