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Risky Business (1983)
Compared to The Graduate in several reviews, Risky Business is an enjoyable teenage fantasy that is ultimately disappointing. It becomes highly and frustratingly improbable with everything working out perfectly in the end like a TV sitcom. Tom Cruise has never been more appealing and the famous scene where he dances in his underwear is still the highlight, but his character becomes exasperating especially when he leaves the hooker in his home twice while he goes out. De Mornay's hooker is annoying and unappealing and she and Cruise have no real chemistry and I wish Joel hadn't rescued her from the pimp. After a while you wonder why he doesn't call the police to get rid of her and her friend and Guido the pimp. And wouldn't the police show up during the wild house party with cars jamming the street and a truck delivering a bed? This in the same affluent Chicago suburb that was the setting of Ordinary People. The film has an unearned reputation as some sort of classic, but even with superior production values for this genre Risky Business is only a better than average teen comedy.
Carnal Knowledge (1971)
Despite it's subject matter, Carnal Knowledge directed by Mike Nichols from a script by cartoonist Jules Feiffer is a dud without a single likable or really interesting character. Nicholson's grating, Bergen lame and simpering, Ann-Margret more tiresome than the role calls for and non-actor Art Garfunkal keeps his head above water more or less. In support, a worn looking Rita Moreno has a good bit as a prostitute, Carol Kane cast for her freakish appearance says nothing and Cynthia O'Neal is repellently smug. Nichols' film is a series of cartoon panels with no sense of any life surrounding the characters. Nichols appears to have been influenced by the films of Bergman and Antonioni though he lacks their brilliance. The result is a dim view of human relationships that is unpleasant and pointless.
Get Out (2017)
Jordan Peele has made a smoothly entertaining and smart thriller out of material familiar from The Stepford Wives, Seconds, Night of the Living Dead and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. The film doesn't have an original bone in its body, but it's lively, funny and discomfiting nonetheless and it provides a few pleasurable jolts while nimble direction and an able cast compensate for the plot's predictability. In Get Out the buildup is ultimately more satisfying and memorable than the payoff and the revelations feel rushed and somewhat murky. And though the finale is done with admirable restraint in the gore department, Get Out cries out for a better, more original and thought-provoking conclusion. A good, but somewhat disappointing film considering all the hype and though it's superior to Don't Breathe and Split, it isn't original or distinctive enough to be a classic, but just good enough to warrant a viewing.
The Boys from Brazil (1978)
The Bores from Brazil
Expensively produced adaptation of Ira Levin's novel is a combination of Marathon Man and The Omen. The Boys from Brazil should have been intense and gripping, but it's weighed down by a convoluted plot spanning the globe with too many characters whose function is to provide exposition. Franklin J. Schaffner who often helmed large scale productions: Patton, Pappilion, The Planet of the Apes, Nicholas and Alexandria is a plodding director and this material needs a visionary. The film is watchable with some effective scenes and performances, and a sweeping score to carry it, but the sluggish pace makes it a long 2 hours. Jeremy Black is amusing as the boys from Brazil, Uta Hagen is memorably intense, and Olivier in role that provided him with his final Oscar nomination is basically repeating his Marathon Man performance. And though I enjoyed Peck playing the bad guy, George C. Scott who was originally cast might have provided a terrifying powerhouse of a villain that would have ignited this film.
4 mosche di velluto grigio (1971)
2 stars for 4 Flies
Four Flies on Grey Velvet like most of Dario Argento's films is striking in its use of music, editing, and cinematography, but otherwise it is confusing, talky, aimless and slow moving. The main character played by a dull Michael Brandon responds to the situation he's got himself into with only mild concern and considerable stupidity. The actions of various supporting characters make little sense as well, and except for a few well-done Hitchcock-inspired scenes, the film is not gripping and you don't really care about the fate of its characters. It's rather unpleasant and pointless like the repeated shot of a beheading that foreshadows the film's arbitrary ending. The film contains a number of Argento's trademarks, but it lacks pace, and the plot lacks shape and cohesiveness. Like DePalma, Argento spends most of his energy on a few set pieces.
The World of Suzie Wrong!
Dated, pointless and dull with one particularly fatal flaw; the leads have no chemistry. Jennifer Jones and William Holden are usually attractive and appealing, but they have no characters to play and their scenes together are dull, awkward and unpersuasive. The romance never ignites despite the ever present title tune. The dialog is too explanatory, the word Eurasian is used as insistently as the theme song and the supporting characters are waxworks. Jones and Holden keep going around and around the issue of their relationship with a great deal of running up to the hilltop and looking across the harbor. Filmed on location, the setting never really shapes or has any real effect on the story itself. Shockingly this banal film was nominated for 8 Oscars including Best Picture with film's score and song both winning. Films like this are made to promote understanding, but Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing is more likely to promote a good night's sleep.
What Ever Happened to Pacing and Suspense?
Despite an interesting premise and some enjoyable black comedy, What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? is a tepid thriller that holds the attention thanks to Page and Gordon whose cat-and-mouse game could be memorable were it not for slack pacing, uninspired writing and a weak, poorly staged finale involving warm milk, a sculpture, and a wheelchair that is more laughable than scary. The supporting cast made up of vaguely familiar faces is flat, and they serve no purpose other than to provide tired exposition. At an hour and 41 minutes the material feels stretched-out and the production values of the film, largely confined to one setting, give it a made-for-TV feel. Page's hammy performance is fun and a rather restrained Gordon is immensely likable. Still, the film disappoints. Not as memorable as Baby Jane, but less tedious than Die! Die! My Darling!
Nothing to be Proud Of
Director J Lee Thompson is a long way from Tiger Bay, The Guns of Navarone and Cape Fear with this cheap looking, lurid, would be thriller that could be described as an ABC Movie of the Week channeling soft core porn. Even the reincarnation theme is redolent of those Movies of the Week as is the flat dialog, lack of atmosphere and perfunctory performances by a bland Jennifer O'Neil, a charmless Michael Sarrazin who looks bad or is badly photographed and Cornelia Sharpe who struggles unsuccessfully to make two consecutive syllables sound persuasive. Unpersuasive too is Margot Kidder's make-up. She plays O'Neil's mother and has a scene masturbating in a bathtub that would be at home in any porn film.
The Chalk Garden (1964)
Disney's The Chalk Garden
The names associated with this production are British, but Enid Bagnold's drama has been given the Hollywood treatment with lavish production values courtesy of producer Ross Hunter. Known for Imitation of Life (1959), Madame X (1966), Airport (1970) and the disastrous musical remake of Lost Horizon (1973), Hunter originally had Sandra Dee in mind for the part of Laurel, and Hayley Mills' comes across as wholesome if slightly more troubled than the mischievous Mary Clancy she played in The Trouble with Angels. The film presents flattened out versions of the various odd and eccentric characters that inhabited the play with the result being closer to Disney than Bagnold. Adequate performances from all with Kerr managing to create an air of mystery and complexity that makes the film watchable.
A House Is Not a Home (1964)
A House is not a film
Despite its source, A House Is Not a Home, based on the life of notorious madam Polly Adler, is devoid of insight, conflict or character. Russell Rouse who directed the camp classic The Oscar is defeated by the script and low budget. The film lacks pace and atmosphere and plays like a TV drama limited to a few sets with hardly any exterior shots. Polly's girls and their clients are the usual assortment of junkies, cops, politicians and gangsters. The film's theme song by Burt Bacharach and Hal David remains a standard while the film itself is strictly sub standard. It's Raquel Welch's film debut, but she, like Edy Williams, is most visible in the stills that accompany the titles. The unsinkable Winters appeared in a variety of films during the 60s including Lolita, Alfie, A Patch of Blue, Wild in the Streets, The Mad Room, The Balcony and The Chapman Report, and though she is unconvincing as young Polly, she gives this lackluster film some energy.