Wednesday, July 6, 2011

#101 and time for a break

I haven't felt that motivated in writing this lately, so I'll close up shop, at least for my summer holiday. Maybe I'll pick this up later, maybe I won't. I'll likely continue on GetGlue or a similar service, where someone will actually see what happens. :)

Yesterday I watched the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which I had not seen previously (only the Abel Ferrara version) and which I quite liked. There were hardly any special effects at all, something that easily dates a sci-fi film, and the basic concept is as chilling as ever.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Nicolas Cage doing what he does best

That being a very bad lieutenant indeed in The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans. Cage was in splendid psycho mode and was able to rein it in, too, when the role required it. The rest of the cast (including Eva Mendes, Brad Dourif and Xzibit) was fine, the music was cool, the ending a little unexpected... all in all, I enjoyed the film. Extra points for singing iguanas!

I haven't seen the original Bad Lieutenant, but I understand they have little in common besides the basic idea.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another fine 1959 western

They Came to Cordura isn't quite Rio Bravo, but a very good western in its own right and a rather more subdued one. It isn't that well known, despite the casting of Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth and Van Heflin. Robert Rossen (The Hustler) proves he can direct a cavalry action sequence, but most of the film is about slow-burning conflicts and relationships between the seven main characters.

I was a little surprised how hard-edged it was. Heflin was a great bully, a big chance from his heroic western roles in Shane and 3:10 to Yuma. Cooper was a very flawed hero trying to live with his past cowardice. Hayworth's role was not just about looking sexy (which she of course did effortlessly, at 40 years) Everyone looks tired and dirty most of the time - perhaps this is one reason why the film is not better known. Another might be that it's set during the Pancho Villa Expedition of 1916, which was a military failure for the USA.

This seems to be post #99. I wonder what should be the hundredth...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Harder to kill

Die Hard gave us an action hero who can be hurt, who has doubts, and who would be happy to let the authorities handle it if they weren't so incompetent. John McTiernan had already proved with Predator that he could handle the 80s-style muscular action men (and introduce some twists to the formula), and with this movie he introduced a new subgenre of Western action: "Die Hard on a plane/train/ship/etc." Sadly none of the imitators would be as good.

Pretty much a perfect storm of an action movie.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hard to kill

The titular Malone of Give 'em Hell, Malone is kind of a low-level superhero: he himself comments early on that he's hard to kill. He doesn't lie: Malone is shot a few times, stabbed, and beat upon the head with a baseball bat. He bleeds but does not die, and goes to his mother's retirement home so that she can patch him up.

The film has plenty of casual cruelty and needless violence. But somehow I liked it better than, say, Sin City. The latter felt very pretentious and hollow. Malone felt like an honest B-movie with no delusions of grandeur. I'm not sure I liked it as such, but it was all right.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thrice punished

Poor old Frank Castle. His adventures on film have all been pretty bad. I had never seen the first one as a teen (probably the only time it could be somewhat enjoyable) and satisfied my curiosity when it was on TV. The Punisher reminded me that Dolph Lundgren belongs in the Christopher Lambert school of truly wooden acting, Louis Gossett Jr. can exhibit some charisma even in a dreadful film, and Nancy Everhard whom I remember from somewhere (maybe the series Reasonable Doubts?) is a nice-looking lady.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pigeons from hell

No, not the short story, but Hitchcock's The Birds. It feels a little silly these days, but there are some effective moments of suspense when the birds are not attacking. When the main characters board up the house, wait, and try to find news on the radio, it reminded me of zombie films. Maybe Romero was slightly influenced by this?

Another thing I really like is that no explanation is given. Still, overall this is only an average film.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vastly improved

Fast Five is a real shot in the arm for the franchise and the best entry since the original. The concept of bringing a big team together works and Justin Lin has evolved as a director. The action is still more outrageous and removed from the laws of our physical reality, but I don't say this to criticize. It is a dumb movie but gloriously so.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

I can rebuild her. I have the obsession...

I had seen Vertigo once previously. Another viewing probably helped me to appreciate it as one of Hitchcock's best and most disturbing films. James Stewart continues to tear down his All-American nice guy image after doing it in Anthony Mann's westerns. It seems he is the one possessed, not Kim Novak. Bernard Herrmann's score is one of his best and Robert Burks provides great cinematography. The story feels murkier than in any previous Hitchcock and the ending doesn't offer any relief.

Very good, then, but not my favorite Hitch.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


They were pretty much the only thing I remembered from Back to the Future Part II. It was darker than my memories and better too, although not quite as good as the first. The Blu-ray transfer looks amazing.