Friday, December 23, 2016

Mr. Klein (1976)

Director: Joseph Losey

Writers: Franco Solinas, Fernando Morandi

Composers: Egisto Macchi, Pierre Porte

Starring: Alain Delon, Jeanne Moreau, Francine Berge, Juliet Berto, Jean Bouise, Suzanne Flon, Massimo Girotti, Michael Lonsdale

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Paris, 1942. Robert Klein cannot find any fault with the state of affairs in German-occupied France. He has a well-furnished flat, a mistress, and business is booming. Jews facing discrimination because of laws edicted by the French government are desperate to sell valuable works of art - and it is easy for him to get them at bargain prices. His cosy life is disrupted when he realizes that there is another Robert Klein in Paris - a Jew with a rather mysterious behaviour. Very soon, this homonymy attracts the close - and menacing - attention of the police on the established art trader.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably.

I knew nothing about this going in except the director and stars.  It's a mysterious picture in that Klein (Delon) knows very little about what's been going on and we're in the same boat as he is.  There were moments when he figured out something and I wasn't sure where his thinking was taking him but it didn't matter as I was invested in the film and was wanting to know desperately what his fate was to be.  There were times when I thought he might be imagining  things and people.  Then there was the very real possibility that he'd been set up, and if so then by whom?  That had me thinking, and that's the best part.  I was intrigued by the film and I was filled with all kinds of possibilities even after the film was over.  Often I'll watch a movie and let it take me where it wants without over-thinking the plot.  This one was tough to give over as it's a mystery until the end but the social commentary doesn't hit home until the final scene which is absolutely brilliant.  It's a wonderful ending.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Navy Comes Through (1942)

Director: A. Edward Sutherland

Writers: Borden Chase, Earl Baldwin, John Twist, Roy Chanslor, Aeneas MacKenzie

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Pat O'Brien, George Murphy, Jane Wyatt, Jackie Cooper, Carl Esmond, Max Baer, Desi Arnaz, Ray Collins

More info: IMDb

Tagline: We've just begun to fight!

Plot: A U.S. Navy crew aboard a merchant marine ship gives the Nazis what fer.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I probably won't understand why Pat O'Brien was a big star.  He's always so laid back and wooden.  He's great when he's a compassionate priest or something of the ilk but when it comes to taking charge and getting into some action business, he's just stiff.  Despite that, this picture is rather entertaining.  It's got a wild story that has our fightin' boys capturing a Nazi sub and using it to blow up other Nazi subs.  It's crazy but it works.  At about 80 minutes, there's enough time to get in and out of it before it overstays its welcome.  O'Brien in the lead doesn't help and it does have what you'd expect from a pure propaganda driven flick but then there are also a few lines that had me in stitches.  They were throwaway lines that felt genuine, the kind of thing you'd see in real life.  Desi Arnaz and Jackie Cooper add to the fun.  I'd recommend it but keep your expectations lower.  It's no wartime classic but it does provide some entertainment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Naked City (1948)

Director: Jules Dassin

Writers: Albert Maltz, Malvin Wald

Composers: Miklos Rozsa, Frank Skinner

Starring: Barry Fitzgerald, Howard Duff, Dorothy Hart, Don Taylor, Frank Conroy, Ted de Corsia, House Jameson, Anne Sargent, Adelaide Klein, Grover Burgess, Tom Pedi, Enid Markey, Mark Hellinger, James Gregory

More info: IMDb


Plot: New York City film noir about two detectives investigating the death of an attractive young woman. The apparent suicide turns out to be murder.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Alright, so this is an OK picture.  I liked the NYC outdoor filming.  It's always neat seeing everyday life from the past.  The story is good.  I particularly liked how they emphasized the mundane but important tasks of sheer legwork and the countless hours of manpower it takes to ask hundreds of people lots of questions in the hope of finding that one clue that furthers the investigation.  Outside of that, there's some hokey acting going on and the narration is borderline silly sometimes.  I've seen lots of these films from the era that did it much better.  Hell, some of these folks are acting like it was an early 30s picture.  I bring this up because this picture has a highly respected reputation which I just don't understand.  The extras on the Criterion DVD would probably enlighten me on the reasons why but I don't have the patience to sit through a commentary among the other extras.  It's just not interesting enough to keep digging into it.  It is neat seeing James Gregory in his first role.  I love that guy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Rogue One (2016)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Writers: Chris Weitz, Tony Gilroy, John Knoll, Gary Whitta

Composer: Michael Giacchino

Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Ben Mendelsohn, Forest Whitaker, Riz Ahmed, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits, Alistair Petrie, Genevieve O'Reilly, Ben Daniels, Paul Kasey, Stephen Stanton, James Earl Jones

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A rebellion built on hope.

Plot:  The Rebel Alliance makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.


In a nutshell, I really liked it and I'm liking it more over the past 24 hours since I saw it.  I can't think of anything that I didn't like which already makes it different than THE FORCE AWAKENS which is loaded with stuff that should've been a lot better but still managed to be a really fun picture.  The pandering to fans in TFA was over the top and embarrassing.  The call backs in RO are more subtle and acceptable.   I'm just going to briefly hit the things that stood out for me that I dig.  Bringing Tarkin back is one of the coolest things about this.  I'm a HUGE fan of Peter Cushing so I'm really studying him whenever he's on.  I could easily tell he was CGI but they still did a great job.  The voice isn't quite there but it's close enough.  It was off enough that when he says, "You may fire when ready.", I'd swear it was directly lifted from the '77 film.   He's a tough sumbitch, though, and I loved it.  Vader is great but you can tell Jones' voice isn't what it was.  I'm surprised they didn't electronically play with it to more closely match what he did nearly 40 years ago.  And speaking of Vader, did you notice that his helmet looks closer to his shoulders or that his shoulders were larger than before?  It felt odd somehow. The bit that had me tearing up, though, was hearing and seeing the two X-Wing/Y-Wing pilots in the final battle.  That was one piece of fan service that really touched me, taking me back to when I was a kid that summer 39 years ago. 

The trailers painted Jyn (Jones) as a cocky badass to the point of making her looking like the typical Hollywood flick where she'd own the joint in an over the top way.  I REALLY hated that line where she said something like, "You want rebels, don't you?  I rebel.".  It's just awful.  Fortunately it's not in the film.  I did leave my seat for 3 minutes to take a squirt during the scene immediately following Vader's entrance, where Jyn is talking to the Alliance council or something.  Maybe she said it there.  But I liked her a lot and the same goes for the rest of the cast.  Cassaian (Luna) is terrific.  He does what's necessary despite what it means to other people.  Shortly after we meet him, he kills a character that's on his side simply because allowing him to live would jeopardize the cause.  It's cold but I loved it and he did it without hesitation.  K-2SO was hilarious and it was a welcome sight to see a prominent droid not be so damn cute or silly.  Krennic (Mendelsohn) is fantastic and I kind of felt sorry for the guy having worked so hard for so long only to have someone else take the credit. 

And the final few minutes with the Death Star plans making their way to the hands of Leia was fucking intense and fun as shit.  I about lost it for the all too brief scene when Vader goes to town on the rebels.  WOW!!!  I really love how they did something different for a change.  It's nice that we're going to get stand alone films because it allows us to take a break from the friggin' force, Jedi and laser swords and shit.  It's nice getting to see something that doesn't involve a Skywalker (but I do loves me some Luke stuff, just to be clear).  Oh, and something else, the Rebel pilots look like normal people and I was pleased as blue milk to see that one of them was a woman in her 50s that looked like she was somebody's mom.  Refreshing.  I'm looking forward to seeing this at least 2 or 3 more times before it leaves the theater which is a lot more than I anticipated before yesterday.