Monday, 12 November 2018

1980 Page Added

Movie-Viewing Experiences  21/10/18 - 12/11/18     
A+ = Adored Masterwork   A = Excellent   A- = Very Good   B+ = Good   B = Nice Try   B- = Passable  
C = Significantly Flawed   D = Pretty Bad   E = Truly Dreadful: Looking Into the Void   F = Vile & Repugnant: The Void

d: Clive Brook
CAST: Clive Brook; Beatrice Lillie; Googie Withers; Roland Culver
> very naughty and very funny British comedy that deserves to be far better known; in fact, this has been called the best British comedy ever made...while I hesitate to go quite that far, it's certainly up there with the Ealing classics; taken from a 1926 stage play, this has a premise (two couples stay together for a month in an isolated old mansion to "try each other out" before marriage... shocking, huh?) and loaded dialogue (the best lines are the zingers which snarl with sarcasm) that both Oscar & Noel would envy; the delivery by the 4 players is superlative, with a cheer for Clive who starred, directed, produced and adapted it; a must-see for fans of wit
Award-Worthy Performance
Clive Brook & Beatrice Lillie & Googie Withers & Roland Culver

d: Joel Edgerton
CAST: Lucas Hedges; Nicole Kidman; Russell Crowe; Joel Edgerton; Troye Sivan
> a story about a cinematically long-neglected subject: Gay Conversion Therapy; Lucas is the teenager + Russell is Baptist pastor Dad + Nicole is Christian Mum + Joel runs a Boot Camp/AA style "clinic" based on Homosexuality=Satan; it would have been so easy to portray all the Christians as villains, but this has been largely avoided...while the "cure" brims with disturbing procedures (actual Bible bashing!), only one of the supervisors is filled with Right-Wing Hate... the rest sincerely believe they are acting in right-minded Love; confronting in a few scenes & just plain sad in most others, the unspoken line is "I'd prefer you dead than gay"...chilling 
Award-Worthy Performance
Russell Crowe

d: James Whale
CAST: Diana Wynyard; Frank Lawton; Colin Clive; Jane Wyatt; Mrs Patrick Campbell; C. Aubrey Smith; Reginald Denny; Henry Stephenson; Lionel Atwill; Alan Mowbray; E.E. Clive
> based on a John Galsworthy novel (he of Forsyte Saga fame), this look at British mores is a surprisingly toughish social indictment of its time (domestic violence + rape in marriage are clearly implied...and assumed to be a man's "right"...gawd); Diana is the abused wife (she suffers immaculately), Colin is her vile husband and Frank is her wannabe all ends up being dragged through the muck in court, much to upper class titillation; while Diana & Frank are a rather dreary couple (how proper can you get?), the rest of the cast is fleshed out with an array of golden-era character actors who are always a joy (although you'd think that Director James could have found a role for Una O'Connor); this is melodrama with a backbone

d: Felix Van Groeningen
CAST: Steve Carell; Timothee Chalamet; Maura Tierney; Amy Ryan; Jack Dylan Grazer
> the story of a man who loses his son; another Junkie Hell movie, this follows the standard trek to the bottom via rehab & relapse, hitting all the potholes along the way...this film varies the descent by focussing on what the father goes through...which is no less harrowing (can you do 2 hours of harrowing?)...but it means that the impossible question is dodged...why this beloved, intelligent, decent kid? Just, why?; the performances are wonderful, with Steve excelling as a loving, everyman parent, and Timothee shaping up to be a future cinematic force; the only thing more heartwrenching than a sobbed "Please help me Dad" is the reply "I can't"
Award-Worthy Performance
Steve Carell & Timothee Chalamet

d: Samuel Fuller
CAST: Lee Marvin; Robert Carradine; Mark Hamill; Bobby Di Cicco; Kelly Ward
> a WWII story about a unit of 4 soldiers and their sergeant, fighting in various campaigns of the War in Europe over four years; I kept recalling the old Combat! TV series (a favourite watch when I was in my early teens)...similar blend of the usual fighting scenes mixed in with the unexpected (in this film, the liberation of an insane asylum + dead Germans who aren't really); while you get to know Lee (tough & experienced & weary) and Mark (scared of being scared), the rest of them are a fairly anonymous bunch...the other men in their squad pass through with the barest of convivial chatting; quite striking in parts, same old same old in others
Award-Worthy Performance
Lee Marvin

d: Paul Dano
CAST: Ed Oxenbould; Carey Mulligan; Jake Gyllenhaal; Bill Camp
> a family breakdown story; set in 1960, Mum & Dad & 14YO Son have moved to a small US town...another of many moves...Dad loses his job, Mum has had enough, Son wants to help but can't, Dad gets a dangerous job fighting a wildfire, Mum has really had enough, Son doesn't understand who these people are anymore; indisputably well-acted (and Ed is growing into an interesting actor), I still struggled with the characters anyway: there's no flow to their behaviours...they just suddenly do stupid things which jar with what we have already surmised about them; and the Son must be the most controlled, dormant teenager ever invented
Award-Worthy Performance
Ed Oxenbould & Carey Mulligan & Jake Gyllenhaal

d: W.S. Van Dyke
CAST: Robert Young; Margaret O'Brien; William Severn; Fay Bainter; Laraine Day; Nigel Bruce
> Self-Confession Time: I have given this movie a false is, in fact, an undisguised slab of WWII propaganda with sickeningly-sweet scenes mixed in with patriotic calls for rage 'n' revenge; Director Woody Van Dyke's final film (he has The Thin Man franchise in his lengthy oeuvre), this is only tolerable to cynical 2018 eyes if you can consider it an historical curio, like a Model T or a mangle...and look at it through museum-glass; mostly set in 1940 Blitzed London, it tells how American correspondent Robert reluctantly visits a war orphanage for a human-interest story...and adopts two of the cutest kids ever instead (no, don't panic...he has a wife); 5YO Margaret became a star via this, and even when she whines and blubs, she's everybody's daughter; a movie made with the very best of intentions...gotta give it credit 

d: Nathan Hertz (aka Nathan Juran)
CAST: Allison Hayes; William Hudson; Yvette Vickers; George Douglas
> another one of those 50's sci-fi monster movies, but this one isn't too bad (well, it's certainly a bit more fun anyway...closer in spirit to Attack of the Giant Leeches than Night of the Blood Beast); rich heiress with mental and marital problems comes across an alien in the desert...the creature somehow grows the woman into a giant...and now, quite cross at her husband (louse) and his mistress (slut), the big lady vents her spleen; the SFX are variable (the superimposed full-body walks are too transparent...but the close-ups on the giant hand are pretty good) and the acting isn't overly wooden; best feature is the humour, both intentional (the deputy sheriff is a goof) and unintentional (my favourite line is "She's loose!"); this movie is sure to have been interpreted by some earnest film student as a feminist, check out the poster...

d: The Spierig Brothers
CAST: Ethan Hawke; Willem Dafoe; Claudia Karvan; Sam Neill; Michael Dorman
> a vampire movie that's got zombie in its heart; intriguing premise: the future world has turned into Bloody Hell, where vampires have become the dominant species and the surviving humans are rounded up and milked for blood...but as the human race edges closer to extinction, the food supply is dwindling...and the vampires are getting mighty hungry; lots of clever little touches in this film jazz up the standard vampiric traits (flame-on in sunlight + golden, glowing eyes + reversion back to bat-form if not fed + one bite and you join them) and it sure looks wonderful BUT it comes across as more sheen than substance: some of the action scenes don't thrill and some of the horror scenes don't shock; too one-note to be fun (you'd think there'd be room for a couple of jokes), this movie impresses but doesn't overly engage

d: Bradley Cooper
CAST: Lady Gaga; Bradley Cooper; Sam Elliott; Andrew Dice Clay; Dave Chappelle
> what...AGAIN??; this is Version #5* and you must know the drill by now: a star goes up as another star goes down, down, down and out; nicely-bearded Bradley plays a Steve Earle-ish rockstar with the obligatory drink'n'drugs problem, while Gaga belts out song after song which are destined to become fleeting stadium fodder...then reborn in Audi commercials; while both actors (and Sam, who has a couple of nice moments) effectively stir up the angst, neither will blow you away like Judy Garland and James Mason did in the eternal 1954 version: no music scene here is as revelatory as Judy singing "The Man That Got Away" while James sits in awe; irritatingly, the only adjective anyone here seems to know when expressing emotion is "fucken"; this is the prime contender for 2018 Oscar glory?! gotta be kiddin' me
* I count 1932's What Price Hollywood as the first version. Watch'll see why.

d: Freddie Francis
CAST: Burgess Meredith; Jack Palance; Michael Bryant; Peter Cushing; Beverly Adams
> one of those Horror Compendium films (e.g. 1945's Dead of Night or 1982's Creepshow) which collects 4 short stories and threads through a linking narrative; the difficulty, of course, is maintaining the quality control of all pieces (even Dead of Night had one crappy story)...and in this film it ranges from Bland to Zany; #1=evil spirit in the form of a cat needs to be fed killings + #2=starlet has to go through one helluva makeover to achieve fame + #3=a grand piano is violently jealous of its son's girlfriend (er, you may want to read that line again) + #4=Poe stages a comeback for his two biggest fans; the acting is equally unstable (only Peter is entirely in his element...which is hardly surprising) and the sideshow bookends are pretty dumb (and the final scene is very dumb); saved from complete direness by the visit to Cuckooland of #3

d: John H. Auer
CAST: Erich von Stroheim; Dwight Frye; Harriet Russell; John Bohn; Paul Guilfoyle
> based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, this so-called horror film is an example of good material being treated badly...the direction is static and the lack of soundtrack music only emphasises the movie's emptiness (everybody seems to be waiting for an echo that never comes); terrific premise though: a surgeon is jilted by his girlfriend...he gets revenge on his rival by injecting the poor sap with a chemical which puts the guy in a coma for 24 hours...dead but still alive...and then the body is buried...; used-to-be-a-great-director Erich must have baulked at how ineptly this potentially-sinister story was being handled; at least he tries to act, which is more than can be said of the supporting cast; things are made worse by inane romantic interludes used as time filler; an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, poorly dressed

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