Reviews

198 ReviewsOrdered By: Date
5/10
A Bore of a misfire from the usually dependable John Boorman!
7 October 2016
I have all the respect in the world for John Boorman--his 'Point Blank' and 'Deliverance' are excellent--but this sequel to one of the greatest horror movies ever made simply falls listless and flat. Of course, the script is extremely talky and lifeless--as if it had been 'exorcised' of all the wonder and shock that William Friedkin's vision of the battle of good vs. evil would entail. Yes, Sir Richard Burton was a great actor--yet when shoehorned with a crappy script and with his more irritating peccadilloes left unrestrained, he can be such a chore and bore to watch. Though I have not seen the two more recent 'prequels' for the 'Exorcist' franchise, I can safely say that while 'Exorcist II' is not the worst horror movie ever made (that, by the way, never seemed its intention), it's certainly the worst of the original trilogy--and by a country mile. This is a work that would probably bore the demons so much, they would decide to get out of Regan MacNeil's body, and perhaps even leave Earth's plane altogether, never even wanting a return ticket.
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8/10
Errol Flynn tries to get out of Germany in Round 1 vs. the Nazis!
7 October 2016
Basically 'Errol Flynn vs. the Nazis, Round 1' Battleground: Germany

This experience was hampered for me by a freak situation in which either my flatscreen TV or my blu player, for the first time, didn't have any audio, so, nonplussed yet equally dauntless, I just said 'what the hell', put on the subtitles and watched the film with no audio. (Later, I discovered that I could have just unplugged both for ten minutes and everything would have been normal. You live, you learn. It taught me to pay more attention to what was happening on the screen, so it wasn't an entirely wasted endeavor.)

Here, the weakness, as always, was Ronald Reagan, who makes Keanu Reeves look like a great actor. Still, he wasn't bad (it was a war film, after all, with a role he was born to play), and he and Flynn were assisted by great supporting players, such as Raymond Massey and Alan Hale, who are always 'cash money' for me IMHO. As well, you have one of the greatest American directors of the period in Raoul Walsh, so it's basically win, win, win--except if you're a Nazi.
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8/10
Errol Flynn wins Round 3 vs. the Nazis, this time in Canada!
7 October 2016
Basically 'Errol Flynn vs. the Nazis, Round 3' Battleground: Canada

Being myself a Canadian, I was thrilled to find in my 'TCM Spotlight: Errol Flynn Adventures' (five films made during WWII in which Errol Flynn battles the Nazis) a film helmed by one of my favourite American directors of the period, in Raoul Walsh, with Flynn starring as a RCMP officer (typically called 'Mountie') making sure the Nazis can't succeed in their quest to sneak into Canada and, there, create another front in their quest to bring hell on Earth. As a child, I loved his rendition of one of my very favourite heroes (Robin Hood), and lately I quite enjoyed seeing the ill-starred (dying at 50--again in Canada--from a heart attack brought on by chronic alcoholism) native Australian who was perhaps the second-most alluring male thespian of all-time, behind the equally ill-fated Rudolph Valentino, in an audacious TCM 4-pack of outstanding adventure movies, such as 'Captain Blood' and 'The Sea Hawk', and an equally intriguing 4-pack of Westerns he made as his star began to wane.

This doesn't disappoint, as Walsh directs, just like he always does, with an appealing eye and a talent for setting up suspense and excitement. Highly recommended to either fans of Flynn, war films or of cinema from the period.
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Dracula (1931)
9/10
An excellent masterpiece of classic Gothic horror and romance that fitfully deserves its legendary status!
28 September 2016
Though not my very favourite movie about the infamous vampire, this is quite beautiful, well-told and gorgeously photographed (I really can't wait to see the blu!) and is most probably Bela Lugosi's finest hour (though I love his work; and it's also right up there with the greatest-ever vampiric depictions on celluloid), and it has genuine scares. Lugosi not only growls and snarls but also delivers the succulent seductive power of both evil itself and immortality--no matter what devastating consequences that immortal life may truly mean.

Essential for both horror fanatics and fans of early (up to and including the 30's) cinema to own on the highest-possible quality, and regular re-watches. It's simply THAT GOOD.

The fact that its American release date was Valentine's Day (its New York City premiere was two days earlier) only further hits home the fact that its immortality is due to the fact that it isn't simply a cornerstone of Gothic horror but with a vibrant love story at its very heart.
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8/10
Contemplative and illuminating behind-the-scenes look at amateur skiing is an early Ritchie milestone!
27 September 2016
If ANY film I have ever seen comes the closest to taking a sophisticated look at what most of the world would consider to be the spoiled-rotten, prima donna, mega-talented amateur athlete (I would add 'American', but I believe they would be like Redford's characterization even if they weren't), Michael Ritchie nails it. Way underrated. And it makes you wonder, especially with the poster pictured here, if the title's a double entendre (and not just slickly-marketed sex-advertising), not merely for various OTHER curves Redford's character wants to/succeeds in navigating, but also the possible crash-and-burn Chappellet may have, if he continues his wild, burn-the-candle-at-both-ends lifestyle while participating in quite a dangerous sport. Sonny Bono-jokes aside, this kind of thing happens.

Simply marvelous work by Redford, Gene Hackman, Ritchie and cinematographer Brian Probyn. Essential purchase and rewatches for sports fans and the work of Redford, Hackman and Ritchie especially. Easily my favourite of Ritchie's work, next to, sentimentally, 'The Bad News Bears' (which is a whole different kettle of fish altogether).
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Down by Law (1986)
9/10
An introspective, quiet, early classic from Jarmusch!
22 September 2016
Jim Jarmusch's work can be either intimidating or off-putting, and in equal measure, to cinephiles because it feels so relaxed--almost as if it was a spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff precursor of reality-TV, an inside-joke with everyone involved slipping a nod and a wink, as if on a drunken dare, a mickey of JD passed back and forth along with a pack of Marlboros. This brought to mind many good memories of one of the oddest residents of The Criterion Collection: 'Fishing with John' (an exemplary and hilarious six-part mini-series in which John Lurie goes on fishing expeditions with five American cinematic greats, his partners-in-crime here, Jarmusch and Tom Waits amongst them; one that I'd love to see both get a blu upgrade as well as more episodes, now 25 years later). Also, clearly Jarmusch had a fine rapport with his actors, for this is by far the best and most restrained work I have ever seen from Roberto Benigni.

One of Jarmusch's more atypical films, 'Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai', is still my personal favourite, but this is right up there alongside. It would also make an intriguing double-bill with Jeff Nichols' stellar, though more serious in tone, recent film, 'Mud'.
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Doubt (I) (2008)
9/10
One of America's great 21st-century films!
22 September 2016
Knee-deep in the throes of my first love, I was quite surprised to hear that my lady's favourite movie was 'Joe Versus the Volcano'. (I still haven't seen the film). It dawned on me, when I wanted to check out an American film which, to my knowledge, had a plethora of fine acting, that this was written and directed by the same guy who made that film much earlier. Being raised Christian and hearing in the press over the past few years about misdeeds, especially involving leaders of the Catholic church (represented in films as diverse as 'The Boys of St. Vincent' (John N. Smith, 1992) and 'In Bruges' (Martin McDonagh, 2008), I was especially intrigued by this, his work of more recent vintage.

The ambiguity at the core of the film (and hence the 'doubt') really acts in the movie's favour. The script and direction are both tense and flawless, and the beautiful New York locations chosen to illustrate The Bronx in 1964 help air the play out, and give it more cinematic scope. It features some of the finest work I have seen from Philip Seymour Hoffman (though my favourites will always be 'Happiness' and 'The Master'), Meryl Streep (my most-esteemed works of hers are 'The Deer Hunter' and 'The Devil Wears Prada') and Amy Adams (this is her finest performance IMHO) as well as a breakthrough role for Viola Davis, who steals every scene she's in. This easily holds up well even with Shanley's Oscar-winning screenplay for 'Moonstruck', and, though dark and depressing, is thoroughly recommended for those who can stomach its subject matter, and peer into that abyss without flinching, as these fine exemplars of 21st-century American cinema so easily do here.

That it didn't win any of its five Oscar nominations is almost as ghastly, to the cinephile, as the misdeeds insinuated here are to the community at large. Must have been a strong year for film, methinks.
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9/10
Another can't-miss Shinoda film from a particularly purple patch of his career!
22 September 2016
Even though I'm Christian and have always been brought up considering the act of suicide a 'taboo' subject, I have always held great respect for both the Japanese way of doing so to save face, and the thoroughly romantic notion, say, from the likes of 'Romeo and Juliet' (with Shakespeare's writings being probably the cornerstone of Western thought)--so from two completely different cultural perspectives--that a life without the one you love is not worth living.

I had previously only seen two of Masahiro Shinoda's other works for The Criterion Collection--the earlier works 'Pale Flower' and 'Samurai Spy', and I don't know if it was on purpose by the company in selecting the titles, but I marveled at the breathtaking variety of his scripts, all from such a short timespan (1964-69). Being a patron of the theatre (in many different modes) and as anthropologically cosmopolitan in my approach to life as is conceivable, I salute Shinoda with a profound respect, and look forward to investigating as many of his other works as possible.
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8/10
The supporting players are the ones to watch!
22 September 2016
I honestly liked the supporting players here--especially the hilarious antics of Martha Raye and Andy Devine--a lot more than the frontman, Bing, here. I get it that he's so immensely talented that everything is effortless and he appears to be coasting. Maybe it's the way he had always put up the front of being nice, and such a great guy, yet was a nightmare to his own children, but he simply comes across as fake and phony, non-genuine. But for a 30's musical comedy coming out of Hollywood, it's pretty good, especially considering its budget.

From my cheapo 5-film 'Screen Legends Collection'--you can get them for a few different actors and actresses from years gone by--pictured in the main page of this IMDb entry.
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10/10
One of the finest noirs, Wilders, and, yes, films ever!
22 September 2016
It's definitely hard to pin down a personal favourite Wilder film, though I tend towards his earlier masterworks such as 'The Lost Weekend', 'Sunset Boulevard'...and THIS. He was one of the finest at getting straight through the bullshit and to the heart of all things noir (as the immortal Jean-Luc Godard stated, 'All I need to make a film is a man, a girl and a gun').

Barbara Stanwyck is one of my favourite actresses of the period, and is a classic 'femme fatale'. I've never been a huge fan of Fred MacMurray, but his 'nice guy' persona is used to sheer advantage by Wilder, and he end up both doing his finest work for Wilder (here and in 'The Apartment') and being the ultimate noir male protagonist. Interestingly, one of my favourite actors, Edward G. Robinson, thought so much of the script that he opted out of his demand of never doing a supporting role. Many people admire Wilder the director, but as a writer (or co-writer) he's just as cinematically important and influential.

Like any other film of his, at least that I've had the pleasure to see, it's worth a purchase and re-watches. The dialogue, especially, is simply fantastic. I'd take just one of his early works over a hundred of the films Hollywood churns out nowadays. They're simply that better and intrinsically satisfying. Immortal cinema.
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