Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Quiet Place (2018)

Director: John Krasinski

Writers: Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski

Composer: Marco Beltrami

Starring: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cade Woodward, Leon Russom, Doris McCarthy, Rhoda Pell

More info: IMDb

Tagline: If they hear you, they hunt you.

Plot: In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


I finally gave in and used my Movie Pass to see this.  I would've preferred to have waited to see this at home where I can control the noise and talking but what the hell.   I don't recommend seeing this in the theater.  Every time I saw the trailer I couldn't help but wonder how fast and loos they're going to play with the rules of not making sound.  Welp, as I suspected, they get a little wobbly with it and stray from it when it serves the script.  It's an interesting concept but Krasinski & co. didn't have the balls to fully commit.  Most of the frights come in the form of jump scares complete with instant loud music in addition to the instant loud sound effects and something jumping on screen.  I fucking hate that shit.  It shows the lack of talent when it comes to filming suspense and horror.  When in doubt, make a loud fucking noise out of nowhere and flash something in front of their eyes.  It's the easiest and most prominent scare tactic in the book and it's cheap.  Then there's bullshit like why would they bring a baby into this environment, you know, one of the loudest things ever?  And how about them having power on that farm out in the middle of nowhere?  Where did that come from?   Can a power plant continue to operate a year and a half without people maintaining it?  These are just a couple of big observations coming off the first viewing.  I'm sure there would be more if I sat down to watch it again which I won't.  This is one of the biggest problems with Hollywood.  They don't spend the time to get most of the scripts ready.  I'm not saying that it has to be perfect but you can't have it both ways where you deliver something that's undercooked and expect the public to eat it up.  Oh, wait, they do that all the time and pictures like this make money which reinforces the studio suits that this is acceptable.  It's been out for 47 days (at the time I wrote this) and it's made over $300M worldwide.  I'm sure there'll be a sequel.  I won't see it.  This is a B-picture that somehow escaped and fooled people into thinking it's an A and that it deserves to be taken seriously. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)

Directors: Ernest B. Schoedsack, Merian C. Cooper

Writers: James Ashmore Creelman, Melville Baker, Ruth Rose

Composer: Roy Webb

Starring: Preston Foster, Alan Hale, Basil Rathbone, John Wood, Louis Calhern, David Holt, Dorothy Wilson, Wyrley Birch, Gloria Shea

More info: IMDb

Plot: In the doomed Roman city, a gentle blacksmith becomes a corrupt gladiator, while his son leans toward Christianity.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

From the team that brought you the amazing KING KONG (1933) left most of their adventurous side behind when they made this picture.  It's melodramatic like you'd expect from '35 but there is some action from time to time to break that up.  I was hoping for more from  Schoedsack & Cooper.  It's an OK picture but you don't get any volcano action until the last few minutes and even then it's a let down.  Halfway through the flick friggin' Jesus shows up so now it's a religious picture.  Yawn.  Talk about a turn off.  Foster does a pretty good job and he would've been even better, I think, if he'd had more action scenes.  He fit nicely in the role of a gladiator.  It's weird seeing Rathbone looking like he does and even he has moments of back of the hand to the forehead overacting but some of that is the fault of the script and the reverence to religion this picture has.  I can't see any reason to seek this one out.  It's not bad but it's not all that good, either. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

50,000 B.C. (Before Clothing) (1963)

AKA: Nude on the Rocks

Director: William Rose

Writers: Arnold Drake, Herbert Lannard, William Rose

Composer: Martin Roman

Starring: Charlie Robinson, Irving Selig, Al Monaco, Dino Tarronova, Toni Monaco, Carl Shelton, Bebe Lent, Morton Taylor, Mila Milo, Gigi Darlene, Sherry Parker, Anita Ventura, Nikki North, Allura, Eddie Carmel, Paul Lavert, Audrey Campbell, Herbert Lannard, Jackie Miller

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The first women on Earth were his playmates

Plot: A man travels back in time and meets prehistoric cave people who are often nude.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

The time-traveling framework this flimsy story is built upon is silly and embarrassingly bad but then it never strove to be anything but.  Ultimately it's just an excuse to show lots and lots and lots of tits, not that you need an excuse, right?

On an artistic note, it's got one of the best opening tittles, I mean titles, ever!

I bet John Williams would've like to see his name on the screen like that.  The comedy is a throwback to what you'd get in a burlesque show.  The only thing different is this picture has a bigger budget (and it's hard to keep a straight face while saying that) to allow for outdoor shooting and instead of interruptions with strippers and sexy dancing you get naked gals in the wild already naked and ready for your viewing pleasure.  There is one dance with a snake but she doesn't strip (the dancer, not the snake).  The humor is base level bawdiness.  I did laugh out loud once, though.  What is nice, and the reason why anyone would ever watch this to begin with, is the frequent bursts of nudity for nudity's sake.  It was good enough then and, as far as I'm concerned, it's good enough now.  Call me a big fan of boobs in their natural habitat...otherwise, the funny falls flat which gives you a few minutes to take a smoke break or something until the real show's back on.

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Black Parachute (1944)

Director: Lew Landers

Writers: Paul Gangelin, Clarence Upson Young

Composer: Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco

Starring: John Carradine, Osa Massen, Larry Parks, Jeanne Bates, Jonathan Hale, Ivan Triesault

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Meet a Two-Fisted Yank Who's No. 1 Man in a Band of Balkan Guerrillas!

Plot: An imprisoned King must be rescued from the Nazi general holding him captive.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I'm guessing due to the film's short running time of 64 minutes that this was made as a lower budget B picture to accompany a higher budget A picture.  I'm OK with that.  They don't often transcend their goal of giving the ticket buyer a little more time at the movies but as long as they're entertaining, I don't care.  This one isn't too bad.  The lousy quality print I watched was distracting especially in the night scenes, but I was still able to enjoy it a bit.  This flick doesn't have grand ambitions but what it does it does fairly well.  There's action sprinkled every once in a while and there's enough going on that the pacing moves fast enough to keep boredom from setting in.  The plot has more going on than you'd think given the film's modest budget and length.  And the last act has a few surprises for those who haven't abandoned it by then.  It's not too bad but it's not a picture that's going to be remembered.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Nesting (1981)

AKA: Massacre Mansion

Director: Armand Weston

Writers: Daria Price, Armand Weston

Composers: Jack Malken, George Kim Scholes

Starring: Robin Groves, Christopher Loomis, Michael David Lally, John Carradine, Bill Rowley, David Tabor, Patrick Farrelly

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There was only one thing more terrifying than leaving the house... staying in it.

Plot: A writer suffering from agoraphobia rents an isolated house so she can concentrate on her writing. She doesn't know that the house is a former brothel, and is inhabited by the ghosts of dead prostitutes.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

There's a good story here but it's in the execution that brings it down.  Ghost whores seeking revenge from the grave?  Are you kidding me?  How did this not work better?  Robin Groves does a great job in the lead as Lauren, the woman tormented by all kinds of things.  She's got a lot to do, acting wise, and she sells it.  She's even better when you consider it's her first feature and second credit.  Some of the other actors are lacking in skill but it's not enough to hurt the flick all that much.  It's a good looking film.   The direction and cinematography are pretty good.  It's the pacing that almost kills it.  It's 103 minutes and it should be much shorter.  There's A LOT of back story told in flashback.  It is necessary to some degree to do it this way because the audience needs to be kept in the dark until the right moment just as Lauren was.  The music often feels cheap.  That could've been a budgetary restraint but the more likely reason is that this is the only score Scholes composed and the last of two that Malken wrote.  So there's that.  There is a little bit of welcome nudity and there's at least one terrific and grisly death.  I guess I'm disappointed this wasn't better than it was. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Writer:  S. Craig Zahler

Composers: Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Marc Blucas, Dion Mucciacito, Geno Segers, Victor Almanzar, Tom Guiry, Willie C. Carpenter, Mustafa Shakir, Fred Melamed

More info: IMDb

Plot: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

OK, so the movie is two hours and twelve minutes long.  It starts off as one of those perfect storms of bad days for Bradley (Vaughn).  He's a tough guy but he has incredible will power and he's able to keep himself calm in the most fucked up situations.  He's not a violent man, per se, but he can dish out the violence at a moment's notice when he needs to.  This film is the textbook definition of liesurely paced.  It's slooooowwww.  Exactly halfway into the picture the plot thickens in a most unexpected way.  I realize that I paid for the whole seat but now I'm only using the edge.  Hahahahahaha.  But seriously, it's the kind of moment when you straighten yourself up and pay more attention.  Now there are periodic moments of violence and fucked up shit going on but the pacing never really picks up that much so it still feels slow.  I thought I knew where this was going but Zahler made sure I didn't and I love him for it.  It's unpredictable in a way that almost always comes from a fresh, new voice in filmmaking.  I really dig the film.  Don't let anyone spoil it for you.  It's the kind of movie that stuck with me for a couple of days and I began liking it more and more.  I think the next time I see it I'll have to juice up my score.  Fans of genre films should dig this but it's not some easily digestible piece of exploitation cinema.  It's roots are there but this is something smarter, classier and more challenging to watch and I'm better for it.  This is Zahler's second film.  His first is BONE TOMAHAWK (2015).  It's been on my watch list since it was released and now I feel ashamed for not having watched it yet.  I'm going to fix that very soon.  His third film could be out this year.  He's working with Vaughn, Carpenter, Johnson and Kier again and it has one of the coolest titles ever...DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE.  What a fucking amazing title.  If that weren't enough, it's also starring Mel Gibson (hopefully in full on hardcore mode) and Michael Jai White.

Friday, May 25, 2018

The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977)

Director: Larry Cohen

Writer: Larry Cohen

Composer: Miklos Rozsa

Starring: Broderick Crawford, James Wainwright, Michael Parks, Jose Ferrer, Celeste Holm, Rip Torn, Dan Dailey, Ronee Blakley, Howard Da Silva, John Marley, Michael Sacks, Lloyd Nolan, Andrew Duggan, Jack Cassidy, George Plimpton, Tanya Roberts

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The files that escaped the shredder have become an incredible motion picture. From the Kennedys to Martin Luther King. From cab drivers to Congressmen. From housewives to hostesses. He had something on 58 million people. It was all in his files. Now you can see how he used it.

Plot:  The story of the late J. Edgar Hoover, who was head of the FBI from 1924-1972. The film follows Hoover from his racket-busting days through his reign under eight U.S. presidents.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Writer/producer/director covers over 50 years in the span of an hour and forty seven minutes.  That's a hell of a challenge but even more so when you're looking at someone as powerful as Hoover.  It can't be done.  OK, it probably can't be done well.  There are some nice bits in this picture but the acting is all over the place from bad (Da Silva as FDR) to fantastic (Parks as Bobby Kennedy) and the picture has problems.  One of the most glaring issues is Cohen presenting chunks of the film as almost like a greatest hits in Hoover's life.  Not all of these are moments that define who Hoover was or presented anything that you'd consider to be a part of a character arc.  I don't think that's necessarily a flaw but it would've been nice to have spent more time with Him and see him develop more.  It's like you're on a rushed vacation and you get five minutes to see the Grand Canyon and split.  Take a deep breath and soak in the fresh air, the majestic beauty, take a picture and load the kids back in the car for the Hoover Dam.  Wow.  That stream of conscious just turned into something remotely clever.  Neat.  Anyway, A lot of ground is covered and you get to see Hoover being the champion of the people and on the flipside, a racist asshole hellbent on destroying people.  It's worth watching for the gazillion character actors alone.  Crawford is good but he's not given much to do with his character.  There's no J. Edgar in a dress if that's what you were hoping to see.  Miklos Rozsa's score is good.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Bad Sister (1931)

Director: Hobart Henley

Writers: Booth Tarkington, Edwin H. Knopf, Tom Reed, Raymond L. Schrock

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Conrad Nagel, Sidney Fox, Charles Winninger, Emma Dunn, Zasu Pitts, Slim Summerville, Bert Roach, David Durand

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The girl who wanted everything!

Plot: Marianne falls in love with a con artist who has a hidden agenda.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Man, was Bette Davis looking young, and in her first picture, too!  It was also Sidney Fox's first but her career was cut short three years later when she died of a pill overdose.  This picture is still in the early days of talkies which means there's NO MUSIC.  That hurts because some scenes fall stale.  And being how this is a drama, it affects the pacing even more.  The story's OK but the real treat is seeing Davis in her first movie and Bogart in his fourth feature.  Bogart's Valentine Corliss is a snake in the grass but he's also a charming smooth talker.  He's good.  A lot of what I've seen of his early work is mostly his sidekick gangster roles where he's pretty stale.  It's nice seeing him in a different light.  The picture runs a little slow at times (mostly because of the lack of music) but it's all over in 68 minutes.  It probably doesn't help that this is a lower budget B-picture made to keep their stable of up and comers working and honing their craft.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Moon 44 (1990)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Writers: Dean Heyde, Oliver Eberle, Roland Emmerich, P.J. Mitchell

Composer: Joel Goldsmith

Starring: Michael Pare, Lisa Eichhorn, Dean Devlin, Brian Thompson, Malcolm McDowell, Stephen Geoffreys, Leon Rippy, Jochen Nickel, Roscoe Lee Browne

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In the Outer Zone... you need a friend.

Plot: In 2038, Earth's mineral resources are drained, there are space fights for the last deposits on other planets and satellites. This is the situation when one of the bigger mining corporations has lost many mineral moons except one and many of their fully automatic mining robots are disappearing on their flight home. Since nobody else wants the job, they send prisoners as a last resort to defend the mining station. Among them, internal affairs agent Felix Stone, assigned to clear the whereabouts of the expensive robots. In an atmosphere of corruption, fear and hatred, Stone gets between the fronts of rivaling groups and locates the person committing sabotage.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

There are times when the direction, pacing, sets and special effects are impressive and even more so when you consider the low budget.  Joel Goldsmith's (son of Jerry) score is very good and is reminiscent of his pop's style to the point where you'd think Jerry did it.  The problem with the film is that it drags a lot in the second half.  Between the training missions and the ship battles, there's a lot of repetition in the shots and none of them are exciting to begin with.  It helps having Malcolm McDowell and  Stephen Geoffreys but it's not enough to sustain 100 minutes.  And that's another problem in that it's too long.  There's enough good in this to satisfy any 30 year old direct to video sci-fi itch you've been having but lower your expectations.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Moon and Sixpence (1942)

Director: Albert Lewin

Writers: W. Somerset Maugham, Albert Lewin

Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin

Starring: George Sanders, Herbert Marshall, Doris Dudley, Eric Blore, Albert Bassermann, Florence Bates, Steven Geray, Elena Verdugo

More info: IMDb

Tagline: "Women are strange little beasts - you can treat them like dogs, beat them till your arms ache and still they love you." says Charles Strickland

Plot: Loosely inspired from Gauguin's life, the story of Charles Strickland, a middle-aged stockbrocker who abandons his middle-classed life, his family, his duties to start painting, what he has always wanted to do. He is from now on a awful human being, wholly devoted to his ideal: beauty.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

George Sanders is the subject of the film and gets the highest billing but he's got little screen time considering.  Are you surprised he plays a cad?  Typecasting?   What makes this performance different is that he's not charming and exudes a coldness without possibility of warmth.  He's emotionless which is interesting to see from him.  In other films where's he's a downright bastard, there's a certain playful charisma that shines through.  Not with the character of Charles Strickland.  The film is largely told in flashback through Geoffrey Wolfe (Marshall) as a novelist who tries to understand the man whose greatness was discovered after his death.  There is A LOT of narration.  It gets tedious after a while and it feels like the 88 minute running time can't finish fast enough.  That is until a turn of events that takes the story down a darker path which finds a small bright spot before it blackens deeper.  It's not pretty but it does make for a more compelling film.  I doubt that we're supposed to like Charles but it's also hard to find anything sympathetic in Sanders' performance.  Maybe that was the point.  He led a tragic life striving to find one truth which he struggled with until almost the end of his life.  It's an odd picture in some regards but simultaneously a curious and periodically compelling one. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Last Glory of Troy (1962)

Original title: La Leggenda di Enea

AKA: The Avenger

Director: Giorgio Venturini

Writers: Publius Vergilius Maro, Albert Band, Ugo Liberatore, Luigi Mangini, Arrigo Montanari, Nino Stresa

Composer: Giovanni Fusco

Starring: Steeve Reeves, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, Carla Marlier, Mario Ferrari, Enzo Fiermonte, Gianni Garko, Liana Orfei

More info: IMDb

Tagline: His mighty sword avenged a nation!

Plot:  Aeneas leads escapees from the Trojan war to new land in Italy, and must deal with new threats to his people.

My rating:  6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.'s OK.  It helps to have a bearded Steve Reeves but his physique isn't on display like in his HERCULES pictures.  I mean, I'm not sayin' he's got to be shirtless and all oiled and muscled up or anything but besides his mug and name on the poster, it's a big plus to have that beefcake.  You get a lot of drama before the big battle action in the last act.  One thing that's cool about the battle is the lack of music.  I was diggin'  it.  When it comes to hundreds of people engaged in hand to hand combat, it's hard not to pick it apart.  If you focus on any two soldiers fighting each other then you'll start laughing at how clumsy and phony the fight choreography is.  You rarely get two people who look like they're really trying to kill each other.  There was one spot where a soldier, fighting with a sword, was able to push his opponent back with each stroke of the sword but he was hoping forward instead of walking forward.  It was hilarious.  I'm probably being a little generous with my score but I really dug the moments where the music held of completely until it was a good time to come in.  More directors/composers would do better by learning that (directors more than composers).  As a musician I value the lack of sound and the importance it can play just as much as the music can if used properly.  It's done well again after the battle when it's just two men (Reeves and some other fella) one on one and the winner takes all.  It's good stuff and it helped build tension. The final fifteen minutes is the best part of the flick.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

Director: Edgar Wright

Writers: Bryan Lee O'Malley, Michael Bacall, Edgar Wright

Composer: Nigel Godrich

Starring: Michael Cera, Alison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ben Lewis, Nelson Franklin

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Get the hot girl. Defeat her evil exes. Hit love where it hurts.

Plot: Scott Pilgrim must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil exes in order to win her heart.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Here's another on that I feel like it took too long to get to but I'm glad I did.  It's hilarious and creative.  I wasn't sure if I was going to dig it but it wasn't but a few minutes in that I was hooked and knew I was in for a good time.  The casting is great.  The humor is all over the place and I found myself laughing out loud.  It's got a quirkiness to it that's not for its own sake but it serves a purpose and with a sense of fun you don't find often enough.  I realize this is Edgar Wright we're talking about and that has a lot to do with it.  Post production must've taken a long time with all of the neat effects.  The pacing is lightning fast and the flick rarely lets up which leads to my only problem with the picture.  It's too long or at least it feels like it because the movie has such a high level of energy and it got to a point where I was getting a little exhausted.  I was loving what I was seeing but it was like playing a fun video game and just when you think you've about reached the end, you find that there are more bosses to beat but it's time to take a break.  I guess there's just too many notes...just cut a few, to paraphrase Emperor Joseph II.

Friday, May 18, 2018

She Done Him Wrong (1933)

Director: Lowell Sherman

Writers: Mae West, Harvey F. Thew, John Bright

Composer: John Leipold

Starring: Mae West, Cary Grant, Owen Moore, Gilbert Roland, Noah Beery, David Landau, Rafaela Ottiano, Dewey Robinson, Rochelle Hudson, Tammany Young, Fuzzy Knight, Grace La Rue, Robert Homans, Louise Beavers

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Mae West gives a HOT TIME to the Nation

Plot: In the Gay Nineties, a seductive nightclub singer contends with several suitors, including a jealous escaped convict and a handsome temperance league member.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

Anything with Mae West is worth your time.  This is the picture that introduced her famous line, "Why don't you come up and see me some time?"  She was among the greats for her sharp and playful wit and she's got it on display in this picture.  It's darn short at only 64 minutes.  Comedy takes up the first two thirds until the last act when it suddenly becomes very serious with the accidental murder of a woman while the fuzz is all over the joint looking for someone.  That was an unexpected turn of events.  West plays Lou (changed from Lil as in her stage show this was based on, Diamond Lil) with such confidence it's no wonder that she hit the screen big and made a huge impact.  For the most part, the funny belongs to her and she naturally gets the best and juiciest lines.  It's worth watching just to see how sex-hungry and naughty she is.  I liked the picture just fine but there are more song numbers in it than need to be and it feels a little disjointed at times.  It's still a good time.  She wrote the play and this was her only film she was in that received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Deadpool 2 (2018)

Director: David Leitch

Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wenick, Ryan Reynolds

Composer: Tyler Bates

Starring: Josh Brolin, Ryan Reynolds, Marena Baccarin, Zazie Beetz, Brianna Hildebrand, Brad Pitt, Bill Skarsgard, T.J. Miller, Terry Crews, Rob Delaney, Alan Tudyk, Julian Dennison, Lewis Tan, Eddie Marsan, Shioli Kutsuna, Leslie Uggams, Stefan Kapicic, Karan Soni

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Prepare for the second coming.

Plot: After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry's hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the Yakuza, and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship, and flavor - finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World's Best Lover.

My rating: 8.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Someone: Who.  Are.  you?
Someone else: I'm Batman!


If you loved the first one, you'll love the second.  It's more of the same but they're not re-hashing old jokes (mostly) and when they do they're doing something different.  There are a lot of surprises and a shitload of laughs.  It does drag a little in the middle, mostly for the lack of funny, but that's my only complaint, if you can even call it that because it was still entertaining.  The new characters are fun and the old ones have some more fun stuff to do than the last time.  I LOVED the James Bond opening credits complete with the Celine Dion ballad.  I LOVE that song and I hope it gets nominated at the Oscars for Best Song.  It's really a well written song but with intentionally lame lyrics and it fits the Bond-style titles to a T.  There were a lot of things that caught me off guard but I was mostly struck when I found myself tearing up from the emotional moment in the last act.  It was really nicely handled.  There's also a BASIC INSTINCT moment complete with composer Tyler Bates providing a score that resembles Goldsmith's from that film.  I LOVED that little touch.  I'll definitely catch this again in the next week.  This was part of a double feature, back to back with the first film and it was nice to revisit it on the big screen.  It also helped reminding me of some of jokes because they continue in the sequel.  HINT:  one of them involves a lot of cocaine and the cure for blindness.  

Godzilla 1985 (1984)

Original title: Gojira

Directors: Koji Hashimoto, R.J. Kizer

Writers: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Tony Randel, Lisa Tomei, Straw Weisman

Composer: Reijiro Koroku

Starring: Raymond Burr, Ken Tanaka, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Yosuke Natsuki, Shin Takuma, Keiju Kobayashi, Eitaro Ozawa, Taketoshi Naito, Kenpachiro Satsuma, Warren J. Kemmerling, James Hess, Travis Swords, Crawford Binion, Justin Gocke

More info: IMDb

Tagline: There goes the neighborhood.

Plot: Thirty years after the original monster's rampage, a new Godzilla emerges and attacks Japan.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I've seen a few Godzilla pictures in my time and I don't remember one that had as much Godzilla action and screen time as this one does.  It takes a good half hour before he shows up but he's not off screen long for a lot of the next hour which is great.  You don't watch these movies for the acting or even the ground-breaking special effects (this one is still, thankfully, a man in suit Godzilla) except maybe for those of us who REALLY appreciate the great model work these films usually deliver.  The familiar Ifukube music is absent as he turned down the opportunity but the score works well enough.  In the final ten minutes when Godzilla is being driven away to his possibly impending doom, the music is heartbreaking.  I couldn't believe it.  After seeing all of the destruction this mofo had wrought over the 50 minutes I'm feeling sorry for the guy and that's all due to the beautifully tragic theme.  That theme changes into something less sad when he gets to the island and that thing happens.  My big complaint is one that unfortunately gets said all too frequently and that's the monster action happens at night.  They do this to hide the flaws in the effects and it pisses me off.  If this were a CGI Godzilla it would've been raining as well at an attempt to disguise the flaws.  But it's still an entertaining movie and a good enough direct sequel to the film that started it all 30 years earlier.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Flat Top (1952)

Director: Lesley Selander

Writer: Steve Fisher

Composer: Marlin Skiles

Starring: Sterling Hayden, Richard Carlson, William Phipps, John Bromfield, Keith Larsen, William Schallert, Todd Karns, Phyllis Coates, Dave Willock, Walter Coy

More info: IDMb

Tagline: Bombshell story of the Navy's Hell-Divers ... scorching the Pacific skies!

Plot:  During the Korean War, aboard the U.S.S. Princeton, Navy Commander Dan Collier reminisces about his first assignment on the same aircraft carrier in the war against Japan.

My rating:  6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

If there's one character type Sterling Hayden excelled at it was the hard-nosed, no nonsense, gettin' shit done kind of guy and that's exactly who he is here.  He's the leader of these flyboys, he's got the 3rd most confirmed kills in the Navy and he expects nothing but the best from his boys even though they find him to be an uncaring S.O.B..  It's that kind of picture.  Fortunately for the audience they get lots of chances to take down the enemy at sea and on a coastal base and I do mean lots.  Usually movies like this give you a couple of action scenes in the air and that's it but not this one.  Once the fighting starts it keeps going every few minutes.  That's a huge plus in addition to seeing Sterling Hayden gnaw on some dialogue.  The color areal combat photography is great, too.  As you'd expect, all of the shots of the pilots flying (from inside and outside of the cockpits) is cheesily done but what are you going to do?  If anyone can point me to some examples of the era when it was done well, please let me know.   I don't know how else it could've been done back then but there must have been a way to cut down on the phony-ness of it.  It's poorly done in this film.  The uncredited list of actors on IMDb lists James Best and Alvy Moore in this but I didn't see them.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Bank Shot (1974)

Director: Gower Champion

Wrtiers: Wendell Mayes, Donald E. Westlake

Composer: John Morris

Starring: George C. Scott, Joanna Cassidy, Sorrell Booke, G. Wood, Clifton James, Bob Balaban, Bibi Osterwald, Frank McRae, Don Calfa, Harvey Evans, Hank Stohl, Liam Dunn, Jack Riley, Pat Zurica, Harvey J. Goldenberg, Jamie Reidy

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Biggest "Withdrawal" In Banking History!

Plot: A bank, temporarily housed in a mobile home while a new building is built, looks like an easy target. On the other hand, why not steal the whole bank and rob it in a safer location?

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

How about that trailer, huh?  I love it!  The movie?  Not as much.  It's definitely got it's feet firmly planted in comedy.  I didn't laugh much but when I did it was loud.  The cast does a wonderful job and Joanna Cassidy takes the cake for MVP in this picture.  She's so much fun and she brings an awful lot of energy to the picture.  It's neat hearing music from John Morris that's not from a Mel Brooks picture but it gets really silly.  I'm sure that's exactly what the director, Champion, wanted.  This was Champions last film as director and only his second feature with a few TV credits prior to this one so maybe he wasn't a great choice although he did a good job.  I mean, just check out this amazing shot.

This neat little sequence lasts for less than a minute but I couldn't take my eyes off it.  There's just something missing that keeps this from being a great comedy.  It's short at only 83 minutes which turns out to be a good thing.  And what a coincidence that I watched two movies back to back with the exact same running time (the other was MR. ACE (1946))?  Maybe it just needed more gags.  Anyway, fans of any of these actors will not go wrong by watching this and it's loaded with familiar faces.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mr. Ace (1946)

Director: Edwin L. Marin

Writer: Fred F. Finklehoffe

Composer: Heinz Roemheld

Starring: George Raft, Sylvia Sidney, Stanley Ridges, Sid Silvers, Jerome Cowan, Sara Haden, Alan Edwards, Roman Bohnen, Joyce Brant

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Where there's smoke there's...RAFT

Plot: A rich society woman uses a gangster to win a congressional election.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Ya know, I want to like George Raft but he's so darn stiff in a lot of pictures, especially the ones where he's not playing a bad guy.  He's just wooden in a romance and not the kind of wood you're looking for, amIright? (cue applause).  Everybody else does a fine job.  The story isn't too shabby if a little far fetched.  In the course of a campaign season Congresswoman Margaret Chase (Sidney) wins the party bid for Governor, gets blackmailed by her husband for a divorce, announces she's no longer running, gets a divorce, then some unknown backers convince her to get back in the race as an independent to fight against the corruption that's rampant in her state's politics.  See?  But still, you go with it.  There's a romance of sorts between her and Mr. Ace (Raft) that has its troubles but, like just about every movie from the 1940s, it ends well for the lovers.  It's a little shorter than usual at 83 minutes which feels like the right amount of time for this picture.  I think having a better actor as the titular role would've been an improvement.  And what's with the title when this is a lot more about Chase than Ace?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Faster (2010)

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Writers: Tony Gayton, Joe Gayton

Composer: Clint Mansell

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton, Carla Guigino, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Maggie Grace, Moon Bloodgood, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Tom Berenger, Mike Epps, Xander Berkeley, Michael Irby, Josh Clark

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Justice is swift. Vengeance is faster.

Plot: An ex-con gets on a series of apparently unrelated killings. He gets tracked by a veteran cop with secrets of his own and an egocentric hit man.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

For the most part this flick is badass.  Driver (Johnson) is a Terminator-style killing machine.  When it comes to exacting revenge he's just like a Terminator in his execution.  NOTHING gets in this guy's way.   Cop (Thornton) has an interesting character arc that I totally dug even if if felt a little too obvious.  Then the third big player in this picture is Killer (Jackson-Cohen), one that got on my nerves a few times, who is a very young hitman for hire tasked at taking out Driver.  He talks too much and spells out everything to his girlfriend, to whom he marries.  His arrogance gets old.  The story is good enough and it has some interesting elements but it doesn't feel as thoroughly thought out as it needed to be.  It's so close to being a very good movie but there's just enough holding it back that I'm not sure if I'll ever want to revisit it and I'm sure I'll be tempted. Oh, and isn't the the same wedding chapel from KILL BILL (2003)?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Wild Card (1992)

Director: Mel Damski

Writers: Ted Thackrey Jr., Scobie Richardson

Composer: W.G. Snuffy Walden

Starring: Powers Boothe, Cindy Pickett, Terry O'Quinn, Rene Auberjonois, M. Emmet Walsh

More info: IDMb

Tagline: Preacher still believes in God.  They're just not speaking right now.

Plot: Thriller about a former preacher, now a professional gambler, who heads down New Mexico way to visit an old buddy, only for him to be killed. It is not long before the Preacher is uncovering a hotbed of corruption and murder in the seemingly peaceful town, aptly named Farewell.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I figured this wasn't going to be all that good but considering I'm a big fan of Powers Boothe, Terry O'Quinn and a HUGE fan of M. Emmet Walsh and the story sounded less boring than adopting kids or something.  It is better and thanks to the cast.  The story moves along pretty well so at no point was I bored but there's no escaping the film's low budget TV movie feel.  Director Damski has worked almost entirely in TV since his first in 1974.  Hold on to your butts because he's currently working on GARAGE SALE MYSTERY: THE MASK MURDER (2018).  No joke.  It's in pre-production so it may be a while before you get to see it.  WILD CARD seems like it's a story you've seen a hundred times and for the most part it is but then you've got the three leads mentioned that elevate it.  The climax brings some welcome twists that also help the picture.  It's an OK movie that's neither very good nor is it even bad.  But there's one thing that was so atrocious I have to share this clip.   Preacher (Boothe) and Dana (Pickett) are walking along and then suddenly a helicopter appears out of nowhere but there is no way possible they wouldn't have seen it nor would they have not heard it a mile away and it literally comes from below and it hovers literally a few feet away from them.  Un-Fucking-Believable!  See for yourself and take a minute to pick your jaw off the floor.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Hillbilly Blitzkrieg (1942)

Director: Roy Mack

Writers: Ray Harris, Carl Harbaugh, Glen Lambert

Composer: Paul Sawtell

Starring: Bud Duncan, Edgar Kennedy, Cliff Nazarro, Lucien Littlefield, Doris Linden, Alan Baldwin, Jimmie Dodd, Frank Austin, Nicolle Andre

More info: IMDb

Tagline: IT'S HOWL-OSSAL!...THRILL-ARIOUS! Enough to make a top sergeant laugh!

Plot: Nazi spies mistake Snuffy Smith's moonshine for a new secret rocket fuel and try to steal the "formula."

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I had no idea they made movies with the beloved comic strip characters Snuffy Smith & Barney Google.  Bud Duncan and Cliff Nazarro were nicely cast as the pair (especially Duncan).  It looks as though Duncan came out of retirement to do PRIVATE SNUFFY SMITH (1942) and this one before retiring from film acting for good.  When he stopped the first time in 1931 he'd made over 200 films, nearly all of them comedy shorts.  In this picture the 4'11" Duncan stars alongside one of the most consistently great character actors, Edgar Kennedy (who stands over six feet).   Kennedy had an impressive nearly 450 credits before he died at the young age of 58.  Here he plays a sergeant to Duncan's private but he's only Snuffy's part time foil.  Snuffy, Barney and Sgt. Gatling have Nazi spies to contend with.  It's harmless fun and for the most part I found it mildly amusing until the end of the picture when Snuffy finds himself airborne after hiding inside the experimental rocket the Nazis were after.  It's right out of DR. STRANGELOVE (1964) that was another 22 years away.

Kubrick just had to have seen this which makes me chuckle just thinking about what that must've been like.  Maybe he saw it as a kid (he would've been 14 at the time of this release).  It's only 62 minutes long so it's an easy investment in your time.  Who would've thought that the Nazis had such a hard on for getting their hands on moonshine-based rocket fuel.  I'm sure this was an effort by the War Department to make sure every American felt threatened by our new enemies and even Hillbillies had a steak in seeing that we pushed those goose-steppin' bastards all the way back to Berlin before they got their hands on our precious party liquor and barefoot women!