Tag Archives: movie reviews

Running on Empty: “The Place Beyond the Pines” (2013)

    When a film is lauded first and foremost for the intent of its ambition it’s a pretty clear indication that something has gone seriously amiss, as if the director should collect brownie points for what he (or she) hoped … Continue reading

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Memory Ploys: “The Debt” (2011)

    The end of the Cold War has been a terrible burden on filmmakers, removing the historically aggravating catalyst of Hollywood’s paranoid conspirators, the Communists (ignoring the fact that practically a quarter of the world’s population is controlled by Red … Continue reading

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Dead Man’s Hand: “The Ace of Hearts” (1921)

    It is often true that the villain is a far more interesting character than the hero of a film. The more lurid the story, the chances are that the colorful antics of villainy will far outshine the interest generated … Continue reading

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The Big Suck Theory: “Lifeforce” (1985)

    Provocative science fiction presents a huge challenge to commercial cinema in that the conceptual abstractions which are often at the center of the story are a bafflement to filmmakers, who must reconfigure what are often obtuse descriptions expressed in … Continue reading

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Saving Ciphers: “Argo” (2012)

    There has been so much hoopla constructed around Ben Affleck’s “Argo”. most of it concentrated on the meaningless and continuously distasteful circus that is the Hollywood Awards Season- the seemingly year-round orgy of masturbatory, unmerited self-congratulation -with much of … Continue reading

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Corset Interruptus: “The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill” (1966)

    With little relation, save the inclusion of the eponymous heroine’s name, to the famous literary scandalmonger, “The Notorious Daughter of Fanny Hill” introduces Fanny’s offspring Kissy in a colorfully filmed (by later Hollywood heavyweight cinematographer László Kovács) but narratively … Continue reading

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Drive, He Said: “Bullitt” (1968)

     “Bullitt”, the first of what would become producer Philip D’Antoni’s “chase trilogy”, (the others being William Friedkin’s 1971 “The French Connection” and D’Antoni’s own 1973 “The Seven-Ups”) is notable for an exciting, impressively realized chase sequence up and … Continue reading

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Red Blood, Black Heart: “Blood Feast” (1963)

    Never to be considered in the same breath with any discussion of Art, the appalling 1963 full color bloodbath “Blood Feast” is undeniably a movie (it feels inappropriate except if wearing a hazmat suite to use the appellation film) … Continue reading

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Mixed Messages: “Halls of Anger” (1970)

    Paul Bogart’s “Halls of Anger” finds a barely perceptible niche in the often inflammatory tradition of Hollywood films that claim to expose the volatile underbelly of modern urban education, with all appropriate delinquencies bubbling forth in a gladiatorial arena … Continue reading

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Shooting Blanks: “Death Wish” (1974)

    “Death Wish” is a genuine curiosity; a  terrible movie which prompted a great deal of useful, spirited and intelligent sociopolitical discussion. The theme of the film is justice, or rather the lack of it, and the rise of vigilantism … Continue reading

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Sex, Drugs and TV: “The Groove Tube” (1974)

   Ken Shapiro’s “The Groove Tube” is a raggedy collection of skits satirizing television ads and programs, a not especially challenging target that is met with a lack of conceptual focus and a wildly variant acuity of wit. In fact, … Continue reading

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Shoot. Load. Repeat.: “The Enforcer” (1976)

   It begins as a Squeaky Fromme wannabe is picked up by two gas company employees who are swiftly dispatched in rather gruesome fashion by blonde haired, blue-eyed psychopath Bobby Maxwell (DeVeren Bookwalter in full drooling grimace mode). These are … Continue reading

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Shapeless: “The Blob” (1958)

    Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr.’s “The Blob” is a film with an impressive cult legacy, but one that yields few actual rewards upon viewing. This small-town teen versus space monster picture does distinguish itself from many of the grade-B (or … Continue reading

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The Brice isn’t Right: “Funny Girl” (1968)

    Film biographies have always been a tricky business. Subject to less than scrupulous adherence to the factual as opposed to an almost shameless gravitational pull toward the predictable formulaic Hollywood elements of high melodrama and low soap opera, the … Continue reading

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Space Disgrace: “Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster” (1965)

   With “Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster” the Gothic trappings of Mary Shelley’s seminal work of horror literature are abandoned in the service of timely expediency in capitalizing on the then-current frenzied Space Race, with the concept of the eponymous … Continue reading

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The Stuff of Dreams: “Trollhunter” (2010)

    The sub-genre of the “found film” mockumentary hit the financial jackpot with the tiresome “The Blair Witch Project”, a film which benefited from a wealth of carefully manipulated anticipation by way of Internet hype, but emerged without an … Continue reading

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Headcase: “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” (1962)

    With “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die”, no discussion would be complete without a concession to the fertile soil that is exploitation cinema, to which this film is a classical example, especially as filtered through the then popular (but still … Continue reading

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With Extreme Prejudice: “El Condor” (1970)

  John Guillerman’s “El Condor” is a noisy, violent, preposterous western of the variety that became extremely popular with studios in the Sixties (Richard Brooks’ “The Professionals” being the most accomplished example) often blending elements with the fading noir genre … Continue reading

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Windbag: “The Hindenburg” (1975)

    The movies love a mystery, especially one based on historical fact as it affords Hollywood the opportunity to do something which it prides itself on doing better than any omnipotent deity: improving on real life. This unnatural (and … Continue reading

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Divas and Dinosaurs: “One Million Years B.C.” (1966)

     “One Million Years B.C.”, a 1966 Hammer produced remake of the 1940 Victor Mature/Carole Landis prehistoric vehicle “One Million B.C.”, is a film that defies serious criticism. After all, since it’s general knowledge that dinosaurs and cave people did not … Continue reading

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The Big and the Small of It: “Dr. Cyclops” (1940)

   With 1940’s “Dr. Cyclops”, director Ernest B. Schoedsack returns to familiar territory, with a story about a group encountering a menacing leviathan, only instead of the simian origins of “King Kong”, and to a lesser extent “Son of Kong”, the … Continue reading

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Baby Steps: “The Mind of Mr. Soames” (1970)

John Soames is a thirty year old man who has lived in a coma since birth,  until a team of doctors, including an eminent surgeon, believe they have the answer to his perpetual stasis and proceed to awaken him mindful … Continue reading

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Beauty of the Requited Heart: “Elvira Madigan” (1967)

      Bo Widerberg’s “Elvira Madigan” is often recalled as the “most beautiful” film ever made. If one is limiting the observation to it’s visual elements alone, there is much merit to such ethereal claims, as the cinematography of Jörgen Persson … Continue reading

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The Shadow of Her Smile: “La doppia ora” (2009)

   A guest at a hotel leaps from the balcony to her death. A woman attends a speed dating ritual. A pair of budding lovers is accosted during an art heist. A woman begins seeing the phantom images of a … Continue reading

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Russian Roue: “Love and Death” (1975)

   Woody Allen’s first overt dive into the realm of the serious (though not approached seriously) is an interesting amalgam of 19th Century Russian literature, the cinema of Eisenstein and Bergman  all seen through the eyes of his sarcastic horndog … Continue reading

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WHERE DREAMS GO BAD: “WESTWORLD” (1973)

   Novelist Michael Crichton’s directorial debut “Westworld” encompasses his usual cautionary scientific doomsday scenario while satirically taking aim at America’s love affair with diversion; whether through theme park escapism or the movie-going experience itself, and how our dreams and expectations … Continue reading

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