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The Sea Hawk (1940)
7/10
Engaging action movie about one Sea Hawk ship...
29 January 2017
1st watched 1/22/2017,(Dir-Michael Curtiz): Engaging action movie about one Sea Hawk ship, named Albatross, from a fleet working for the English, but not truly commissioned by them. Yes, they are good Pirates!! Errol Flynn plays the captain of the Albatross, who independently trolls the English sea's protecting the country from invaders and those against the Queen. The Spanish are the enemies in this movie as they attempt to take over the world and feel like England is in the way. The Albatross's first capture is of a Spanish ship in the English channel that had English prisoners in the galley manually rowing the huge vessel. A good deed in their eyes, but because one of the passengers was a Spanish ambassador on the way to visit with the Queen -- they were not happy. This is the premise setting up a swashbuckler adventure scanning from England to Panama and back again eventually. The crew of the Albatross, including Alan Hale(The Skipper from Gilligan's Island's dad), are captured and eventually are sent to the galleys as well, but the Captain will not let things stay this way. This movie was much more in-depth than I expected it to be -- with more of an epic feel, and the romance was downplayed letting the action take center stage. An unexpected gem for this early action film with the usually good Michael Curtiz taking the helm, and the appealing Error Flynn holding the fort.
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7/10
Well put together rock documentary...
19 April 2015
1st watched 4/12/2015 – 7 out of 10(Dir-Charley Randazzo): Well put together rock documentary about the rise of the band Kansas. The movie goes quickly and gives out a lot of information about the band's beginnings all the way up to their popularity "peak", which was the "Point of Know Return" album. As un-pretentious as the band is --- that is how the documentary is, you get what you get – nothing more, nothing less. Although there is a little self-promoting at the end – otherwise they use other folk like Brian May of Queen and Garth Brooks to promote the band instead of themselves. The movie is no more than a bunch of people talking about the progression of the band(including all the original members), but the director makes the conversations flow easily from one to the next, and there is no wasted film-time. Some music is played, but only enough to make you want to listen to the recordings – the documentaries primary focus is the evolution from small house band to sold-out major stadium rock legends. After 40 years since the band's beginning the original members are brought back for this filming(which is a small miracle in itself). The "Miracles out of Nowhere" title refer to them being from rural Kansas and hitting the big time. The story isn't a whole lot different than other bands except for the previous fact. Their breaks came as other band's breaks come – from a record executive giving them a chance – which in this case is Don Kirshner. He patiently waits during the release of the first 4 albums – promoting them and the providing the money, until their big breakthrough album "Leftoverture." A must for fans of the band, and for those who are interested in how this group came about. Concise – to the point – filmmaking excels in the case of this story.
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5/10
Action-filled just miss movie...
7 March 2015
1st watched 2/14/2015 – 5 out of 10(Dir-The Wachowski's): Action-filled just miss movie from the famed Wachowski's. This story is about a young earth girl, played by Mila Kunis, who lives a plain life cleaning houses, but is destined for bigger things in the universe at large. A queen on another planet dies who happens to be Jupiter's(Mila's character) mom – and they know about her legitimacy to the kingdom so one group wants her dead while another is trying to protect her so she can gain her right to the throne. These two sides are led by brother's(one bad and one good). The good side hires a hunter to rescue her and this hunter initially is focused on the task in an un-emotional way, but Mila's character is obviously attracted to him. The bad side sends creatures who are trying to kill her. There are a couple funny scenes where Jupiter attempts to break thru unsuccessfully with the hunter, but it's a movie so you can expect what eventually will happen. The sets and the graphic designs are the real stars in the movie, and --- in my opinion – is why the movie doesn't quite make the mark. The hunter eventually successfully brings Jupiter back to her planet where she is to be crowned and in a sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek scene she goes thru planetary red tape mimicking our government(this is the best scene of the movie). The rest of the movie infuses very little humor, and a lot of mind-blowing action where the hunter rescues Jupiter over and over again. It all works towards an "awe" moment occurring in the last 15 minutes, but by this point the viewer doesn't really care. The ending almost pushes the movie over, but not enough when you realize how you got to this point, unfortunately. Nice attempt at a different type of movie, but there is not quite enough character building and too much video-game type action. Not a bad movie to watch, but not one you'll want to view more than once.
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3/10
Boring and lame teenage zombie movie...
1 March 2015
1st watched 9/1/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Jerry Warren):70 minute version Boring and lame teenage zombie movie with some really wacky performances from some of the teens and very stoic performances from the adults. The movie starts as some kids from a local malt shop set out to do some water-skiing, and have a picnic at a nearby small island. As they investigate the area -- they come upon a strange group of men appearing "doped or dead" according to one of the kids. Their boat is stolen so they go to a lone house on the island to question the inhabitants about the disappearance and come across a stoic woman, played by Katherine Victor, who denied knowing about this, and then all the kids get captured to be used as experiments for her zombie-inducing gas that eventually will be used on all Americans. The pacing of this movie is what makes it boring with a soundtrack that doesn't match the movie's pace. The sound effects are very canned especially when the boat is searching for the kids(same sound no matter what the boat is doing---very funny stuff). This movie was obviously trying to capture on a trend(monsters with teens), but fails miserably, and there really is only one real monster, if you can call him one, Ivan -- the helper zombie and possibly a late appearance by a man in a gorilla suit. There is a sub-theme of foreigners(who don't sound foreign) trying to "control" all Americans with this gas(which was probably shocking at the time), but it's done so badly that it doesn't get noticed much. Pretty much this is a movie to avoid -- so do so.
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2/10
Pretty bad teen exploitation movie...
10 February 2015
1st watched 1/31/2015, 2 out of 10(Dir-Pat Townsend): Pretty bad teen exploitation movie about a group of girls who are given a beach house to use while an uncle is away – so, of course, the parties start and never really cease. The niece, who actually is given the place, is the tamest of the group, but her friends are the party animals who kind of take over by bringing in the booze, marijuana, and – of course, the boys. There a couple of subplots that try to bring in humor but neither of them do a very good job of it. The first involves a bumbling gardener who finds himself hurting himself over and over again as he peeks in on the festivities. The other story involves a pirate-like ship holding bags of weed, and being chased by a coast guard group who are far from perfect. Then we have your typical will boy get girl scenario between Debra Blee's tamer character and James Daughton's semi-nice guy. Will they ever hook up ?? Do we care ?? There is plenty of nudity, boob and ass shaking – but very little plot that we care about. The only thing that kept me from giving this the lowest of the scale is the quality of some of the girls especially Jeana Tomasina – who can be seen on some of the rock videos from the decade and is a knockout. It's kind of lame when this is the only redeeming quality to a movie, but this is the case. I'm pretty sure Crown International made some money from these low-budget teen teasers because there are plenty of them. Most of them have very little to give to the movie world though, and this is no exception. Avoid this unless you want to see Miss Tomasina in all her glory.
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The Dead of Night (2010 Video)
3/10
Strangely edited together movie...
23 January 2015
1st watched 1/17/2015 – 3 out of 10(Edited by Mike Stanley): Strangely edited together movie splicing pieces of "The Night of the Living Dead" from George Romero and "Carnival of Souls" by Herk Harvey. It's really not even fun for fans of the original films because the stories really don't go together very well. It starts with the warning of radiation bringing corpses back from the dead and then we switch to the heroine from "Carnival" coming out of the water. The movie jumps back and forth between scenes of the two movies not keeping anything in the same chronological order. For example – we are not told until the very end that shooting a ghoul(those risen from the dead) in the head kills them for good, but right before this the hero from "Night" is seen killing a couple of the recently dead by doing this very thing. There are more of these badly ordered scenarios which make me wonder what the editor, Mike Stanley, was trying to do here. There appear to be a couple of different zombies in the "Night" sequences which may have been the folk from Showcase films trying to get into a movie, but I don't know this for sure and if they did it -- it's well done and doesn't deter from the scenes. So, all in all, we primarily have a badly put together mixing of the two films with nothing making really any sense, and to add insult they change the ending. It is very difficult to write a review of this type of endeavor when you are a person who enjoyed each of the original films. This makes me biased towards re-working either of them therefore my review is tinted with this. This movie is a novelty at best, and I suppose may be interesting to figure out what the actual intent was in this new splicing, but unfortunately the results are not satisfactory, in my opinion.
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6/10
Effective horror-comedy with an abrupt ending...
11 January 2015
1st watched 1/4/2015 -- 6 out of 10(Dir-John Landis): Effective horror-comedy with an abrupt ending that leaves the viewer wondering why the Director, John Landis, closed out the story the way he did. The movie is about a couple of American friends vacationing in England who are attacked by an animal, killing one and wounding the other. The locals know something strange is going on in their area, but don't do what's necessary to keep them out of trouble. They do however get there soon enough to save David, played by David Naughton. If this was a werewolf that attacked them -- the legend is that if you survive you will turn into one at the next full moon, and this is David's fear. The doctor and nurse that initially take care of him get involved in a couple of different ways. The nurse, played by Jenny Agutter, takes him in and starts a romance. The doctor eventually tries to find out what actually happened as the authorities say they were attacked by a human lunatic not an animal. The movie is scary and funny(with most of the humor coming from Griffin Dunne, who plays David's dead friend who keeps showing up in a degrading state trying to get him to kill himself before he kills others and to send him to his final resting place). Rick Baker's makeup takes center stage especially during the initial transformation scene where David turns into a werewolf. The gruesomeness is a little overused and is a slight negative to the movie, in my opinion, but the movie keeps your interest until the final 15 minutes where it finishes way too quickly. The movie is unique in it's ability to fuse many genre's into one movie somewhat successfully. Landis appeared to either run out of money, or just didn't have a more dramatic ending prepared(to it's fault) but still the movie was worthwhile.
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Spartacus (1960)
5/10
Sprawling inconsistent epic movie...
20 December 2014
1st watched 12/6/2014 -- 5 out of 10(Dir-Stanley Kubrick): Sprawling inconsistent epic movie directed by Stanley Kubrick with a very good performance by executive producer Kirk Douglas as Spartacus and good cinematography, but a story that has it's good parts and bad parts but not enough of the good to carry it over the top. The story is about a slave in Italy who starts an uprising that eventually rises up to fight against Rome itself. Douglas portrays the main character with passion and a performance where the camera just placed on his face tells his character's story. Jean Simmons portrays another slave that tweaks his romantic interests at a gladiator training facility, which he is transferred to after being bought by Peter Ustinov's character, that trains slaves and treats them like Gods until they are transferred to another facility where they have to fight to their death's for entertainment purposes for Roman citizens. Laurence Olivier's character, who is a wealthy influential person, visits the facility and forces the caretaker to prematurely do a couple of fights to the death including Spartacus. He survives, of course, but then starts the uprising upon hearing that Simmon's character is being sent to another location. This is where the film doesn't do a good job, in my opinion, because it makes it look like it all started over a lover's spat when obviously Spartacus had a bigger idea in mind. Douglas and Simmons carry on a very powerful screen romance but this overpowers the bigger story. He then commands the slave army to try and accomplish the task of freeing all the slaves in the whole of Italy. The political complexities in Rome and the conflict between the Roman characters actually slows down the movie. Olivier's character's motivations are never explored so the conflict between him and Spartacus is not a watchable piece of entertainment. There are some wonderful moments of cinematography especially the initial fight between the Romans and the slaves but these small moments don't sustain a full 3 hours plus. Not a worthless piece of entertainment, but not good enough to keep your full interest throughout the whole length of this long epic.
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The Dead One (2007)
4/10
Slow starting comic book adaptation...
30 November 2014
1st watched 11/26/2014 – 4 out of 10(Dir-Brian Cox): Slow starting comic book adaptation stars Wilmer Valderrama(from TV's "That 70's Show") as a young man chosen to bring back an old Aztec religion and ends up turning into a healing superhero-like deceased man after his vehicle collides with a tree bringing his demise and bringing his spirit into the current world 1 year later. Valderrama's character is promising by the end of the movie, but unfortunately it takes that long to see the potential and then the movie is over. The film starts with an elderly man dying and presenting to the young version of the main character the fact that he expects him to be the one to bring back the old time religion. There is a lot of hokeyness to this premise explaining that the Aztecs were killed off and will supposedly return to prominence in the future after three days of rain while the sun is shining. During Valderrama's ghostlike return to the world he begins hearing weird voices in his head and starts healing others despite the negative voices wanting him to kill those who might stop the inevitable from happening(the current priests). So what we have is kind of a spirit-world bad vs. evil going on. Valderrama is fine in this character but the timidness early on kind of makes the movie boring. The evil spirit then starts killing the priests initially thru Valderrama's character and then takes over an elderly woman and a confrontation occurs late in the movie. The confrontation is interesting which makes you think there could be an interesting follow-up movie but I don't think this is going to happen. The movie is un-eventful although not horrible, but isn't well made enough for anyone to take notice. I liked seeing Valderrama breaking out of his comedic sissy-like character to tackle a fuller character and he did well considering the lack of depth he was given. This fair at best movie will probably not give him too many other opportunities, unfortunately.
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My Tutor (1983)
2/10
Boring, titillating teen perversion movie...
15 November 2014
1st watched 11/8/2014 -- 2 out of 10(Dir-George Bowers): Boring, titillating teen perversion movie about a young highschool student , played by Matt Luttanzi, who can't pass French class and is hired a tutor to retake an exam so he can go to Yale. The tutor, played by Caren Kaye, is well known as one of the best in the field, and the father -- played by Kevin McCarthy -- will have nothing but success, so hired her for the task. The student watches the teacher during her nightly nude swims and, of course, starts getting different ideas about her. The teacher is having troubles in her love life and eventually pulls the younger student into a relationship(which happens very quickly after a few of the swims). It's hard calling this film, a teen sex comedy, because there are very few laughs and very few attempted laughs. The student friends including a very young Cristin Glover invoke a couple of these with their antics early on trying to get laid, but nothing much else humorwise occurs besides this. The movie then must rely on the relationship between the tutor and student, which is mostly about a teenage libido and a middle-aged forgotten woman getting plenty of attention(including sex). The student actually learns somehow gain some cohona's, and fights against his father's wishes as he wants to goto UCLA for Astronomy not Yale. At this point we really don't care much about the real lives of these people --- and this makes the movie a failure. The movie really didn't try to do much and it succeeded in that, I guess, and it probably made some money for the filmmakers --- so bravo to them, but the movie is pretty much a waste of the viewer's 1 and 1/2 hours.
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Descendant (2003)
2/10
Confusing, amateurish production...
7 November 2014
1st watched 11/1/2014 – 2 out of 10(Dir-Kermit Christman & Del Tenney): Confusing, amateurish production revolves around a late descendant of Edgar Allen Poe, played by Katherine Heigl, meeting another supposed descendant who is also a writer, played by Jeremy London. These two folk get involved with each other then all goes haywire. The plot actually is a lot more complicated than this so I'll try to break it down. This writer sees visions of "Edgar Allen" as he tries to write a novel and break away from his roots. His agent has the last name of "Usher", which is the family that had it against the Poe's as shown in the first scene where an Usher kills a Poe. If you are confused now it gets worse as the movie goes forward. Some murders start happening in the local area as we are introduced to a variety of characters who either have the "hots" for Heigl's character or there is some other reason that they could possibly be the murderer. And then, of course, we have the writer – Ethan Poe – who is also a suspect because of his past and his eccentricity. So – do we care about the Poe vs. distant cousin romance or the murder mystery or neither – I take neither. I don't know if the fault of the movie is the original story or the adaptation or the director's, but it doesn't come across like anyone really had a handle on what they wanted to do with the material. London, unfortunately is handed a role that is inconsistent from scene to scene and he hams it up pretty good. Heigl seems extremely unsure of herself early in the movie, but gets better as it progresses. The story starts as a mystery/romance but changes to a psycho horror movie before the end. It would be interesting to know the progression and history of this film's production because it has two directors, two actors that are involved in the writing of the movie, and comes across like a TV movie at times with fadeouts like it's going to a commercial. The bottom line is the confusion turns the viewer away from the film pretty early on so pass this one up unless you just have to see Heigl in an early film.
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Jocks (1986)
2/10
Lame tennis movie...
25 October 2014
1st watched 10/19/2014 -- 2 out of 10(Dir-Steve Carver): Lame tennis movie where a ragtag band of college student try to be fun-loving, win at tennis, and stop the authorities from closing down the program at Los Angeles University. From the beginning --- this movie shows it's weaknesses in storytelling and consistent character flow right away after the first couple of scenes. A president, played by Christopher Lee, wants a winning championship sports program at the college because of a long drought and convinces the sports director to use the tennis team to get to this end. In the very next scene, the director is trying to fire the tennis coach, played by Richard Roundtree, but gives his group one more chance to win it all. The best player, named the Kid, first has to be re-instated after a boatload of offenses. The complete team consists of a dumb muscle man, a pleasing youngun, the Kid, a Mexican, a Prince-like impersonator who likes to go drag on the court, and a Texas betting wiz named "Tex", of course. This group is going to win a Championship?? In my highschool days of playing on a team I never saw any athletes that played tennis like this bunch. So anyway, the Kid -- actually turns out to be the most normal one of the group?? and eventually becomes attracted to a girl, played by Marsika Hargitay of "Law and Order" in a very early role. The group attend a couple of risqué things like wet t-shirt contests and then play a whole 2 team matches in Las Vegas for a small college championship competition. This movie is pretty much a waste of time, even though for some reason -- you are routing for the group in the matches before the end of the movie. The lack of character consistency and the story are the real losers in the movie including you -- if you watch this movie.
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Amélie (2001)
7/10
Quaint little piece about a sheltered French girl...
11 October 2014
1st watched 10/11/2014 – 7 out of 10(Dir=Jean-Pierre Jeunet): Quaint little piece about a sheltered French girl named Amelie, played by Audrey Toutou, who attempts to turn her dreamlike life into reality through following a path of doing good deeds after finding a young boy's memory box behind a wall in her room. Her good deeds start happening after she delivers the memory box to the grown-up person --- who then pursues his ignored daughter and grandson. The complexity of this story and it's characters are actually too much to discuss in this short review – but I'll do my best. Her adventures start as a young child who loses her mother and is left with a father who does not relate to people, and therefore keeps her locked up as well until she is able to move away. She then tries to pursue life and love despite her faults and this movie portrays this journey. She works as a waitress in a local bar and is helped in this journey by an elderly painter who lives in her building. A mishmash of characters are introduced telling us their likes and dislikes showing us the director has a backstory for everyone of them. The one that Amelie eventually pursues is a man who has supposedly had the opposite experience in life by having too many people in it. He keeps a scrapbook of folks who take pictures in airport picture kiosk's and is obsessed with this. Her positive approach to branching out also benefits her in a personal way as she changes herself also -- before the end of the movie. This is more of a light comedy than a deep serious piece, but there is definitely meaning behind it the film. The dreamlike approach taken by the filmmaker makes it so you never know what's going to happen next and this is part of the joy in the film. This is a definite gem that should be treasured by moviegoer's throughout the world and hopefully opens the world up to this kind of cinema.
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Left Behind (I) (2014)
6/10
Effective biblical end of the world action/drama...
11 October 2014
1st watched 10/10/2014 – 6 out of 10(Dir-Vic Armstrong): Effective biblical end of the world action/drama does a good job of showing us why the book that this is based on was so well received. The story starts in an airport where a daughter is returning home to visit a father, who is having a birthday, but has to work an only gets a brief exchange instead. Nicolas Cage plays the father -- who is a pilot and clearly has alterior motives for taking this flight as he intends to hookup with a young stewardess at their destination. The daughter then meets the other main character whom she takes a liking to, and then also boards Cage's characters' plane. Once in the air – a strange occurrence happens where some of the people disappear including the co-pilot leaving only their clothes behind them. We find out later that this same occurrence is happening throughout the world and is the cause of expected chaos in the air and on the ground. The acting and the representation of this event is believable and this is where the movie pulls off what could be a very silly plot. Cage's character later determines that believer's of Christ are those that are disappearing based on information he received from his wife --- who is a believer and has disappeared. For the most part this movie accomplishes it's task of being a thriller and an attempt at spiritual awakening. Cage is very good as he tries to put the pieces together to figure out what is going on. This 2nd version of the book does a much better job than the first although the ending seems unlikely and done for dramatic benefits. The movie completes itself, but also voices that this is "just a beginning" which could lead to sequels if it does well…the authors have provided many stories if they want to do this, but we will see.
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Cavegirl (1985)
3/10
Goofy back in time teen sex comedy attempt...
5 October 2014
1st watched 9/13/2014 – 3 out of 10 (Dir-David Oliver): *review based on 85 minute VHS version* Goofy back in time teen sex comedy attempt about a high school student, played by Daniel Roebuck, who is fond of the prehistoric times but looked at as a geek to the girls. The class takes a field trip to a mine and the combination of a glowing crystal and a mistaken government missile test hitting the cave amazingly transports the student – Rex – to the cave people times. A sexy young cave girl, played by Cindy Ann Thompson, wakes him up the next morning and he spends the next half hour of the movie trying to have sex with her while they teach each other their languages. There are a couple of slightly funny scenes – one particular one where the cave men try to destroy a flashlight, and a slight chuckle occurs when Rex asks the cavegirl to sit on his face - juvenile humor, of course, but brought an unexpected response from me. We get to see plenty of Cindy Ann's gorgeous body, but besides this there isn't much else worthwhile to get from this movie. It is a blatant attempt by Crown Pictures to pander to the teen audience even though the movie is Rated "R" with the theatrical trailer showing all of the nude scenes!! This is typical of the 80's where the titillation takes center stage and the movie falls flat on it's face…skip this one unless you're interested in Cindy Ann.
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2/10
Idiotic plot holes and storyline...
4 October 2014
1st watched 9/28/2014 -- 2 out of 10(Dir-Edward Cahn): Idiotic plot holes and storyline make this one of the worst zombie movies I've seen -- especially since it was put out by a major studio. Basically the movie put's Hollywood hotties with a paranoid old woman in the hunt for treasure in Africa that happens to be guarded by the living dead. The living dead in this movie are composed of the original treasure hunters that died in their quest and now are forever in the position to make sure no "live" people get to it. The old woman -- played by Gene Roth -- knows this fact and is the wife of one of the original. She stays in this locale while her dead husband roams --- hoping that the loot is found and destroyed --- reversing the curse and bringing the zombies to their final resting place. The movie is predictable, slow-moving and is hard to get thru even at it's measly 69 minutes!! The acting is fine but the screenplay makes the players do too many idiotic things, and the finale doesn't even make any sense. Gregg Palmer and Autumn Russell play the main couple stars destined for each other if they don't get killed by the zombies. Allison Hayes is the buxom typical adversary that all of these type of movies have to have. This movie is a waste of money by the studio apparently trying to capitalize on the zombie fad. Clearly made studio sets make up where the zombie's lie that's supposed to be a cave (this is hilarious). The print I watched is very clean so Columbia studios must have used their money to keep this film alive -- for some reason. I see very little merit in this movie -- maybe it was the studio's very early attempt at the genre so they restored it for historical reasons. More money wasted on an extreme mess -- skip this one.
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War and Peace (1956)
6/10
Despite it's faults -- this adaptation of the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy leaves the viewer thinking....
27 September 2014
1st watched 9/21/2014 --- 6 out of 10(Dir-King Vidor): Despite it's faults -- this adaptation of the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy leaves the viewer thinking about "war and peace" and the advantages and disadvantages of both. Henry Fonda is wonderful as the outside observer and main character in the story that see's love, hate, war and peace -- gobbles it all up and fights his way thru it. Audrey Hepburn is the young vivacious love interest for a few of the characters, who also has to live thru the ups and downs from the female side. Mel Ferrer plays a military man who initially joins up to get away from his current wife, and then eventually makes it his "primary" focus in life despite the allure from female characters including Natasha, Hepburn's character. The middle section of the movie -- where the love triangle takes center stage -- seemed unnecessary and was hard to get thru, making the movie longer than it needed to be. The other fault is some editing issues where the movie seems to move forward too quickly in time especially in a very early scene after Fonda's character wins an inheritance. The ending also seems to have been given a Hollywood treatment that is expected in this era of filmmaking. Fonda's characters' dilemma seems to eventually get back to center stage where he questions, "why war", "what is the necessity of it" as he observes first-hand a battle and eventually becomes a prisoner. His perceptions change throughout the movie as a real person's would experiencing what he did. King Vidor attempts to recreate this enormous novel of importance and fails in some ways, but succeeds in others. I now would like to read the novel to see the differences and I think this is a positive thing -- as far as the movie sparking this interest. A worthy movie despite not being perfect, so view this forgotten film if you get the chance.
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She Beast (1966)
3/10
So so horror movie...
30 August 2014
1st watched 8/28/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Mike Reeves): So so horror movie about a resurrected witch causing problems in modern day Transylvania kind of bores the viewer and creates a lot of improbable occurrences in the course of the movie. The movie starts with a count recalling an incident from a long time ago where a pre-determined witch is placed on a piece of equipment called "The Chair" where she is impaled and dipped multiple times in a local lake before expiring(one of the most elaborate & gruesome penalties portrayed on film for sure). Of course, the She Beast, is rather gruesome also in this foreign production and obviously portrayed by a man(late in the film you get a look at the legs and you can tell). We are then presented with a young couple newlywedding in Transylvania(of all places), who eventually are driven off the road into the lake putting to rest the female(apparently). The male then hooks up with the count -- who we find out is the famous killer of Dracula, Van Helsing, and attempts to exercise the witch out of the newly deceased bride before she kills everyone in town. Mel Welles -- from a "Little Shop of Horrors" fame -- plays a drunkard, bumbling, extremely moral-less hotel manager who gets in the midst of everything. Initially, the husband, gets rather annoyed when Helsing suggests that what's happened is this exorcism, but eventually believes it. Barbara Steele & John Karlson play the husband and wife team that are just a pawn for this inevitable semi-shockfest. The movie was supposedly an Italian/Yugoslavian production but it was obviously intended for English-speaking audiences and is somewhat light really compared to the stuff that comes out nowadays, but was probably pretty rough back then. Despite this -- the movie just doesn't pull you in, and is pretty slow midway thru so the shock doesn't really do anything. A definite miss in this genre, bypass it.
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All That Jazz (1979)
7/10
Dark comedic musical...
25 August 2014
1st watched 8/23/2014 -- 7 out of 10(Dir-Bob Fosse): Dark comedic musical about the downfall of a Broadway musical director written and directed by Bob Fosse is very well done for the most part. Roy Scheider plays the overworked, overmedicated, playboy director who just refuses to give less of himself to his work and his body can't deal with it. This is advertised as a musical, but it's more a portrayal of a man who really has no direction to go but down because of his refusal to change his way of life. He admits to his faults but just doesn't deal with it. He cheated on his ex-wife, doesn't give enough time to his daughter, cheats on his current girlfriend, and is majorly obsessed to giving everything to his work to these faults. This movie does exactly what it wants to do almost perfectly. The only flaw, in my opinion, is an overlong slightly corny ending number. Fosse choreographs the dancing numbers -- which there are plenty of -- but they complement the story rather than just being an addition. The beautiful Jessica Lange portrays death and is used throughout to help show what's going on inside Scheider's character and introduces the inevitable very early on. The movie could be considered depressing but it's all done tongue-in-cheek(almost laughing at itself because of the choice of the subject matter). The two hours fly by because of the way the director presents the main character and gets your interest in his life. Pieces are revealed as the story moves forward and by the end you get a complete picture of the man's life. This movie is so much more than a musical even though these parts aren't bad either --- it should be held in acclaim as one of the better of it's kind -- don't miss this one.
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3/10
Mixed up whodunit comedy starring the Tin Man himself...
13 August 2014
1st watched 8/10/2014 -- 3 out of 10 (Dir-Frank McDonald): Mixed up whodunit comedy starring the Tin Man himself, Jack Haley -- with Bela Lugosi playing a butler who keeps trying to serve coffee laced with rat poisoning throughout the movie and no-one accepts. This isn't what the movie's about, but does bring a little snicker to an otherwise standard movie where we trap all the possible inheritants into a house overnight waiting to see what happens. The deceased wants to be buried in a to-be constructed glass coffin under the stars, and wants his heirs to squabble until it's done when the final will is revealed. If he's buried underground or anyone leaves the premises-- the will is going to be handled in reverse order making for an interesting situation since no one really knows who's getting what. Tuttle, Haley's character, gets involved when he comes by the place to sell insurance and gets dragged into staying by a comely young woman. This movie tries to be a comedy in the vein of an Abbott and Costello comedy with horror -- but Haley doesn't pull off what could have been funny scenes. Also -- the confusion in the plot just makes the viewer stop caring. There are a couple interesting gags with Tuttle buried alive under water in a pond full of goldfish, and the much-used good conscience vs. bad conscience scenes are different. I guess the main appeal for me was seeing an adult-comedy with Lugosi and Haley, but beyond that there wasn't much. So as a piece of historia it's interesting but as a movie it has very little appeal really.
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Storm War (2011)
7/10
Exciting and well-written movie...
6 August 2014
Storm War (2011) DVD I watched titled "Weather Wars" 1st watched 8/3/2014 – 7 out of 10(Dir-Todor Chapkanov): Exciting and well-written movie about a scientist who's funding is cutoff by the government on a project where the intent was to use weather as an asset channeling it into a weapon for the country. The senator who dropped the funding becomes a target to the elderly scientist years later as he's perfected his research and is using it as revenge. The main evil character is played by Stacy Keach – his two sons and a former assistant try to help the government track him down before he kills a lot of people. Keach's character poses initially as a bum to plant a tracking device on the Senator and then let's lose the energy sources that create the weather anomalies. Keach does a great job in this role and the rest of the cast carry the load well despite the somewhat inconceivable plot. The director, Todor Chapkanov, keeps the story moving with the only flaw being an attempt at throwing in some romance, which in my opinion, was un-necessary. Otherwise the story flows well and keeps your interest to the very end. The Senator's character is sometimes too hardlined and formulaic as far as being the no-holds barred rough guy, but the other characters are believable. The sons are two totally different personalities – one following in his father's footsteps and the other going the other direction – which makes for an interesting collaboration. As the father continues bringing down his haters the group work well together to try and bring him down and stop the ultimate destruction of the city of Washington D.C. This, in my opinion, was an un-expected gem where this genre is usually too over-the-top for anyone to pay attention --- but they make the possibility seem believable making the movie work.
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The Vikings (1958)
3/10
Hollywood glorification of a vikings tale...
3 August 2014
1st watched 8/2/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Richard Fleischer): Hollywood glorification of a vikings tale with lots of star billing, but little else. The story starts by showing us an English king losing his thrown to an heir that is not worthy with the queen knowing that there is a young viking lad out there somewhere that is her child and deserves the position instead. We are then presented with the boisterous party-like drinking vikings initially led by a character played by Ernest Borgnine with his son played by Kirk Douglas. He admires his son way too much primarily because of his boldness(which maybe he lacks) and thus the admiration. The daughter to the throne, Morganna played by Janet Leigh -- is sought after for ransom -- but of course --- Kirk's character wants her for himself for other purposes. Tony Curtis plays the bastard viking son who is an heir but doesn't know it --- and of course, all he wants as well is Morganna. This movie tries to be a romantic triangle within a Viking war-driven oden worshipping culture, but it fails because we never really care for any of the characters. Curtis is fine as a slaved-Viking, but the rest are womanizers who just want glory and victories. We really don't know why they want to conquer England they just do. The preparation to the battles are boring -- the battles are boring -- the ending has no connection to the beginning of the movie -- so overall this is just a mess. This was a very expensive movie that was popular at the box office for some reason, and I'm sure a lot of people got paid well -- but as a movie it flops big time. Boo to Hollywood for producing this quickie money-maker.
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The Sadist (1963)
3/10
Unwielding sadistic thriller for it's time...
31 July 2014
1st watched 7/26/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-James Landis): Unwielding sadistic thriller for it's time -- even though that's really all it has going for it. The story is about three teachers who have car trouble on the way to a baseball game and pull into a car parts and repair shop on a Sunday hoping to get some assistance. They soon find out there is no-one around except two crazy young kids who threaten them at gunpoint to fix their car and let them use it. The male counterpart is a slick looking weird sounding crazy person, played by Arch Hall Jr., who we find out later has some experience in murdering other folk, and the couple is on the run for those murders. The movie could have been better if they explored a little deeper the evil character's reasoning for what they were doing but this never really happens. They start tinkering a little bit with a "survival of the fittest" mentality when the first teacher is killed and the other two are given a chance to take his place but do not offer. If these ideas were explored it would have made for a twilight-zone like experience. Instead the goofy aspects of the main evil character become centerstage and the movie relentlessly keeps going longer than movies in the early 60's usually take us. It's also kind of un-nerving to view the victims plodding through their thinking process about how to escape when you'd think that their survival instincts would just kick in. This is an interesting attempt at a genre that is overused nowadays -- but this was new for it's time -- but it just doesn't quite hit the mark.
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Bloodlust! (1961)
3/10
Unimpressive horror movie...
24 July 2014
1st watched 7/11/2014 – 3 out of 10(Dir-Ralph Brooke): Unimpressive horror movie about another mad doctor on a mostly un-inhabited island who makes a game out of chasing down and hunting all different kids of mammals and animals. This isn't the worst early 60's cheaply made horror film(this isn't saying much), but it could have been much better. The father from "Brady Bunch" – a young Robert Reed – plays one of the young adults who are taking a fun boat ride when they encounter an unknown island, and direct the drunk captain to put them ashore so they can see what's there(they are thinking treasure??). Instead they find there are folk that have put up camp there already and want them to stay the night. Wilton Graff plays the host and he seems kind, but it's obvious things are not kosher pretty early on. He introduces himself as a hunter, but we find out later that it's not just animals that he keeps as trophies. This very short movie(68 minutes) – does a good job of keeping the pace going and is interesting as a story, but there are too many un-intentionally comical scenes where the viewer just shakes his head about the responses of the characters to the situation. There are a lot of scenes put there so we can here the women scream from fright(woo hoo!!). The igor-type helpers of the doctor are another area that is unclear(how did they get there?? why do they follow his every command??). Some of the parts of the movie and the theme is pretty shocking for the early 60's and in some ways ahead of it's time in this area, but overall this is just a mediocre movie that is not a bad viewing, but there is nothing to make it that worthwhile.
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Aliens (1986)
8/10
Very good sci-fi action movie...
6 July 2014
1st watched 7/3/2014 -- 8 out of 10(Dir-James Cameron): Very good sci-fi action movie in this second film starring the perfect alien life form created in the original 1979 movie. This movie doesn't try to imitate the original but just makes a good fast moving scary film that gives us more information about the creatures and introduces us to the big mama who is making all the eggs. It starts with Ripley, played again by Sigourney Weaver, and her cat being picked up by a salvage team after flying around for 56 years in space. When she shares her encounter about the Alien species it's initially dismissed, but when they are unable to contact a group of residents living on the planet where the alien ship was first found -- she's asked to join a bunch of marines on a trip to the planet. There are some homages to the original including the initial title screen, and the scene where the crew wakes up from their longtime slumber, but Cameron definitely has his own way of doing things. He doesn't take too long to turn the movie into action fare, but does also a good job of establishing Ripley's motherly instincts that helps us understand her motivation to kick ass later. Newt, a small child lone survivor, becomes kind of Ripley's adopted child since her real child is already deceased. There are a couple of silly dialogued scenes and some unintentional humor brought out from Bill Paxton's character because he is so caricatured, but other than this the movie is well done. Some of the broadly drawn typecast characters are a negative, but Michael Biehn's characters provides a combat person with a heart which is nice to see. Paul Reiser, plays the nice guys who turns bad and we wish it wouldn't happen, but it does. As an action alien movie it would be hard to get much better than this one...so dismiss the character imperfections --- enjoy this, and wait for the next one!!
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