Log in

MOVIE BUFFS' Journal [entries|friends|calendar]

[ website | Cult Movie and TV Original Art ]
[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ calendar | livejournal calendar ]

Halloween Movie Challenge 2017 - Movies 1-3 [24 Oct 2016|02:36am]

[ mood | awake ]

I didn't think I was going to do the usual Halloween movie challenge this year. (31 never before seen horror films watched and reviewed in October). I usually get stocked on dvds well before hand. Having missed the boat so far I decided last night that I would jump on and give it a go - this year just grabbing whatever new films I come across on tv. cable and amazon prime. (if I catch anything at the cinema this week I will throw that in too, but I am not expecting it). This also means that I have to catch 31 movies in the next 8 days. At this late stage I do not know if I am going to make the deadline but that just adds some spice!

Here we go with movies 1-3:

An atmospheric movie about exorcism with a great cast. Alfred Molina, Rutger Hauer and Toby Jones have small parts, Colin O Donaghue (a relative newcomer) is a convincing lead but Anthony Hopkins gives a barn storming turn. This starts nicely with an examination of Catholic style exorcism from the eye of someone who doubts the validity of the whole thing - then climaxes with a showdown exorcism with the two main characters going head to head. I very much enjoyed this - it's one of the best exorcism movies I have seen in years.

In short, Groundhog Day meets The Others with just enough originality to keep it interesting throughout. Abigail Breslin takes a nicely understated lead. Her character finds herself in a dull timeloop, stuck at home with her family and only she is aware that they are forced to live the same day over and over and are completely cut off from the outside world. Gradually she starts to notice that small variations in the day can be achieved but these can have unforseen (and terrible) consequences. **SLIGHT SPOILERS FOLLOW ** We learn that she and her family are dead, that they are sharing there hime with multiple families (also mostly dead) and there is something malignant keeping them there and killing others. The trick is to find the variations that will lead to breaking out of the reptitive loop before it is too late. Nice film.

I have to be honest, when I saw a boat movie called 'Triangle' I expected something deeply cheesey about the Bermuda triangle, but this is very much better than that. A group of young friends take a sailing trip get caught unawares by freak waether but are eventually rescued by a large (but seemingly deserted) ocean liner. The friends explore the ship looking for the crew or passengers and find no one - until somebody starts trying to kill them. So far this is pretty much by the numbers - but this is where it gets interesting. *** SLIGHT SPOILERS FOLLOW*** It is quickly revealed that someone from their own group is trying to kill them off. Once they die time kind of resents and the one surviving member sees their friends arriving to be rescued all over again (only for them to start dying again).
A motif is mentioned in the film of Sisyphus - the Greek legend of the man who was punished by the gods and sentenced to endlessly push a boulder up a mountain only for it to restart and begin again. It soon becomes apparent that the same mechanism is somehow at work here. There are several reveals which show that this has already happened dozens if not hundreds of times already. (The lead character seems to take much longer than the audience to realise this). The rule seems to be that when the last of the group dies time resets and the group arrives yet again. The character forms a plan that if she can kill the friends then get to the point of rescue before her friends join the ship she can break the cycle and stop them ever coming on the ship in the first place. Obviously that is easier said than done so there is plenty of tension there but even after this reaches what seems to be the final resolution a wider story is revealed.
This is a film of which I expected little but it actually keeps giving and giving right up until it ends. The few weaknessed I thought the film did possess (like why the central character seems so slow to grasp the obvious) are eventually resolved to my satisfaction. I really enjoyed this.

tear your ticket

Miss Perigrine, Girl & The Train & Jack Reacher [24 Oct 2016|01:56am]

[ mood | awake ]

Catching up with brief cinema reviews:

In my younger days I would have described myself as a huge fan of Tim Burton. Movie followed movie and a certain 'same-ness' set in. I still admired his unique gothic/carnival vision but I found his films less interesting as they started to resemble each other a little too much. I find it interesting that 'Miss Peregrine' has to some extent revived my interest in Burton's films as it has fewer of the Burton trademark touches than any recent film of his that I can think of. There is no Johnny Depp, no Bonham-Carter, no Danny Elfman and while there are some gothic flourishes the visuals are mostly fairly restrained.
The plot of the film could have been read as a prequel for an X-men movie - a headmistress with special powers leads and protects a special school for children with special powers. This could have been the X=men before Professor X - but it wasn't. The tone is more modern fairy tale than super hero movie and I have to say it is pretty well done. It's lovely to look at and remains interesting as it rattles along and quite frankly the image of Eva Green smoking that pipe is alone worth the price of the ticket.

This is the second film I have seen in the past few weeks which is based on a book that is both widely read and generously appreciated. Both films (the other being 'The Girl With All The Gifts') I saw without having read the book but have been impressed enough by the movies to want to seek the books out.
There are no zombies in this one but a mystery that needs to be solved and some compelling characterisations. The nub of this mystery is the chief witness to the events only has a partial understanding of events and is considered (even by herself at times) to be deeply unreliable due to her alcoholism and mental instability.
This was a pleasure to watch unfold but I do wonder how well it will stand up to repeat viewings. I have seen now the twist and turns of the plot and the unexpected revelations. Will this still have the same tension next time round, or the time after? I suspect it might for a while. I think on the next few viewings you will see more clues that you would have missed first time round, more built in suggestions of where the plot is going to go. The tension will be different but there is enough quality here (I think) to keep the entertainment spinning for a while.

There is good advice in this title. Why would you want to (go back)? In a world with both James Bond and Jason Bourne do we really need Jack Reacher? For me he doesn't really bring anything new to the table and much of what he does bring we have already seen done better elsewhere. I'm not saying this is a bad movie, there is some good action but there is too little plot to stretch for the film's run time and as I said it feels like Bourne and Bond have already been here before and done it better. Even Tom Cruise has been here before and done it better with the Mission Imposssible films, so why bother? Never go back is good advice.

tear your ticket

[23 Oct 2016|04:15pm]

Frankenstein (1931)

[Rewatched/Blu-ray] "It's alive!" This Universal Horror classic is the first foray of director James Whale into the horror genre. His style wasn't developed yet, but it begins to emerge here in a ghoulish Gothic inspired by German Expressionism. It's a strong film, but what really elevates it is Boris Karloff's career-defining performance as the Monster. Karloff brings a humanizing pathos to the part, and one can't help but empathize with the Monster's plight throughout the film. Whale, cinematographer Arthur Edeson (whose future work included Casablanca), and art director Charles D. Hall create iconic imagery that remains indelible today. Imagine the Monster in your mind's eye and you see Jack Pierce's makeup design. This film is inescapable. The excellent cast includes Colin Clive as the tortured Dr. Frankenstein, Mae Clarke as his bride-to-be Elizabeth, Dwight Frye as his hunchbacked assistant Fritz (not Igor, as most people think), Frederick Kerr as his father Baron Frankenstein, John Boles as his friend Victor (and implied former romantic rival), and Edward Van Sloan as his former mentor. A 100% no doubt about it classic.

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

[Rewatched/Blu-ray] "To a new world of gods and monsters!" The crown jewel of Universal Horror, and director James Whale's masterpiece, is a wonderful film laced with black humor and ghoulish glee. Strip away the horror elements, and it's about an outcast looking for love and to belong. Karloff is magnificent as the Monster. The humanizing pathos of his performance is polished like a fine gem, touching and even funny at times (though he was opposed to the Monster talking). Ernest Thesiger's arch Dr. Pretorius nearly walks away with the film, though. It's easy to read a gay subtext to the film, and to Pretorius in particular, but it's still debated if it was intended or not by Whale, who was gay. Elsa Lanchester shines as both an impish Mary Shelley and the marvelous Bride. Her screen time is limited, but she makes herself unforgettable. The good cast includes Colin Clive as Dr. Frankenstsin, Valerie Hobson replacing Mae Clarke as his bride-to-be Elizabeth, Dwight Frye as graverobber/murderer Karl, O.P. Heggie as a hermit who befriends the Monster, and the delightful Una O'Connor as a comic relief housekeeper. John J. Mescall's Expressionist-influenced cinematography looks fantastic. The ending is always heartbreaking to me, a rejected Monster crying as he chooses death. It's mandatory Halloween viewing for me. The absolute best by far of all the Universal Horror films.

Son of Frankenstein (1939)

[Rewatched/DVD] "Nothing in nature is terrifying when one understands it." Boris Karloff's final performance as the Monster in a Universal Horror film is also his first without director James Whale, replaced here by the more workmanlike Rowland V. Lee. While it lacks the sheer imagination of Whale's two entries in the series, it's a solid film with some good acting. A generational aspect is added that keeps the story fresh and allows new characters to be brought in. Karloff reminds once again why the Monster was his greatest role (the Monster's reaction to his friend Ygor's death is powerful), and he's joined here by Basil Rathbone as the titular son of the original Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Lorre was the first choice but declined), Bela Lugosi as the Monster's broken-necked friend Ygor, and Lionel Atwill as a police inspector who lost an arm to the Monster as a child. Rathbone shines as he's driven nearly to the point of a breakdown by his father's creation. Lugosi underlines what a good actor he could be in the right role, and was given a lot of leeway to create his character. Not on the same level as the previous two films, but still superior to those that followed. Karloff leaves the role on a good note.

The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)

[Rewatched/DVD] "Better death...than a life like this." With its fourth entry, the Frankenstein series shifted into definite B-movie territory for the first time. It's competently made, but the lower budget is apparent and it's a routine potboiler lacking the imagination of earlier films. Also apparent is the lack of Boris Karloff, replaced by an unmemorable Lon Chaney Jr. as the Monster. Chaney has the physique for the role, but simply doesn't have the expressiveness Karloff consistently brought to it. Bela Lugosi returns as Ygor, and is joined by Cedric Hardwicke as Dr. Ludwig Frankenstein--second son of the original Dr. Henry Frankenstein--and also as Henry's ghost in one scene (thus the title), Evelyn Ankers as Ludwig's daughter Elsa, Ralph Bellamy as the local prosecutor, Lionel Atwill as Ludwig's bitter mentor-turned-assistant, and Janet Ann Gallow as a child the Monster befriends. Not bad, but a noticeable decline from the earlier films.
tear your ticket

[22 Oct 2016|03:15pm]

Near Dark (1987)

This cult classic vampire film with a western sensibility still crackles with a compelling energy, borne by the subversively beautiful direction of Kathryn Bigelow (who became the first woman to win a Best Director Oscar in 2009 for The Hurt Locker), a driving synths & guitar score by Tangerine Dream, and a perfect cast that really sinks their teeth into their roles. It's a B-movie that makes no apologies for being one, but it also takes its subject matter seriously. They don't make them like this anymore. Well-deserving the label of a classic.

Dracula (1931)

I first saw this film on tv in 1979 when I was 9. It's where my love of Universal Horror began. It remains the archetypal vampire film. It's strongest early on in the atmospheric Transylvanian scenes before becoming more stagey (not a surprise considering it's based on a stage adaptation of Bram Stoker's novel) when the action moves to England. Reportedly, director Tod Browning left quite a bit of the directing to cinematographer Karl Freund (Metropolis, I Love Lucy). Bela Lugosi's performance is iconic. His accent, the cruel way he twists his face, and his stilted delivery combine to make his Dracula the most undead of them all. Dwight Frye's Renfield, Edward Van Sloan's Van Helsing, and Helen Chandler's Mina are also memorable. A true classic of the genre.
tear your ticket

Actually, given the sheer amount of planes up there nowadays... [19 Oct 2016|10:29pm]

[ mood | lethargic ]

I've posted a review of No Highway in the Sky over at my journal.

Review: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/149048.html

tear your ticket

"LIFE WITH FATHER" (1947) Photo Gallery [18 Oct 2016|09:26am]


"LIFE WITH FATHER" (1947) Photo Gallery

Here is a GALLERY featuring images from "LIFE WITH FATHER", the 1947 adaptation of Howard Lindsay and Russel Crose's 1939 play, which is an adaptation of Clarence Day's 1935 novel. Directed by Michael Curtiz, the movie starred William Powell and Irene Dunne.
tear your ticket

Action! Suspense! Implausibility! [15 Oct 2016|09:01pm]

[ mood | okay ]

I've posted a review of Executive Decision over at my journal.

Review here: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/148883.html

2 movie buffs| tear your ticket

"FROST/NIXON" (2008) Photo Gallery [14 Oct 2016|09:12pm]


"FROST/NIXON" (2008) Photo Gallery

Here is a GALLERY featuring images from "FROST/NIXON", the 2008 adaptation of Peter Morgan's 2006 stage play. Directed by Ron Howard, the movie starred Frank Langella and Michael Sheen.
tear your ticket

Condorman & One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing [15 Oct 2016|12:57am]

[ mood | awake ]

Two live action Disney movies from back in the day:

I first saw this when I was a small kid but either it hasn't aged well or I haven't. Michael Crawford plays a comic book creator (and 'civilian') who gets drawn into the James Bond style spy business and blunders to success by sheer dunb luck - and eventually some fancy gadgets based on his own comic book creations. I actually still quite like the premise but it's execution is pretty awful. Maybe this film would actually benefit from some kind of remake but as it stands there are more plot holes than plot and the cheap 1970's effects (actually 1981) are worse than laughable - not because they are dated but because they are bad. There is potential here but you would need at least a truck load of cash and a serious re-write to really dig it out.

Douglas Adams once described 'The long dark tea time of the soul' - a state of being many British people would have felt, especially on a Sunday when the sheer tedium of existence begins to sink its claws into you and time seems to stretch longer and longer. I was trying to explain the concept to my friends children recently. I (and their parents) grew up in an age before cable tv, the internet, game consoles, digital entertainment, mobile phones and (for a big chunk of time) even VHS! Of course I sounded to their ears exactly like the old folks that used to tell me about the wartime rationing in their youth. One aspect of the discussion in particular stood out - that not too many years ago there was no serious childrens film industry. Before Toy Story animated movies were usually reserved for prestige Disney projects once every few years and there was very little else and what little there was tended to be pretty poor. Good childens movies were comparatively rare finds and once found were to be treasured.
I say this because (and we talked about this too) certain films that were never that good to begin with tended to be shown on (limited chanel) tv over and over again - especially around Christmas time. One such film was 'One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing'. This seemed to be a permanent fixture in the Christmas tv schedules when I was a kid and it was never that interesting. I recently picked up a copy (mostly to prove the point I was making) and it turns out that it is even worse than I remember it. I could forgive it for it's slow pace and poor writing (which is how I chiefly remember it) but it is also riddled with British actors playing Chinese characters and pandering to the worst racist stereotypes I have seen since Mickey Rooney in 'Breakfast At Tiffanys'. This is a staggeringly dull film puntuated by birsts of awful racism, in short. That may well have been acceptable in the day but I am glad that it isn't now.

tear your ticket

Much Like the Airplane, at Least the Movie's Pretty Fast-Paced. [12 Oct 2016|10:37pm]

[ mood | sleepy ]

I've posted a review of The Concorde; Airport '79 over at my journal.

Review: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/148575.html

tear your ticket

"THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN" (2016) Photo Gallery [12 Oct 2016|08:00pm]


"THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN" (2016) Photo Gallery

Here is a GALLERY featuring images from "THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN", the fifth remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 movie, "SEVEN SAMURAI". Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the movie starred Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.
tear your ticket

[08 Oct 2016|10:10pm]

The Secrets of Emily Blair (2016)

Routine demonic possession film that at times feels like a 1990s tv show due to Adrian Paul, Colm Meaney, and Sherilyn Fenn being among the cast. Director Joseph P. Genier has worked on the tv show Teen Wolf, but here he's saddled with a weak screenplay and at times some dubious acting, and, despite some nice visuals, the film limps to a predictable ending.
tear your ticket

Tarzan & Tangled [08 Oct 2016|11:37pm]

[ mood | awake ]

two Disney animations:

Tarzan is astrange Disney movie for me being neither as strong as their good movies or as poor as their bad ones. There are some things I like (a good performance from Minnie Driver as 'Jane' and the fact that they do not have Tarzan singing - unusual for a title character in a Disney film) and some things I do not like (the extreme sports version of Tarzan and the Phil Collins soundtrack). The rest of the film falls into a blur of mediocrity, not bad exactly, just forgettably bland.

Tangled is Disney's take on the Repunzel fairy tale. I like this movie because you can almost feel Disney modernising itself. Sure it is a return to old school Disney strengths like princesses and classic fairy tales but there is a noticable turn to the modern: This princess is sassy, funny and much less of a drip than many of her predecessors - a trend that would continue through The Princess And The Frog and Frozen. I must admit to a cynical and twisted thought while watching this: right at the movie's climax while dealing with the plot point that if you cut Repunzel's hair it loses it's power I thought to myself, "You're only cutting the hair on her head though..."
Sometimes I disgust even myself.

tear your ticket

I Suppose You Could Watch it as a Double Feature With "The Posideon Adventure"... [08 Oct 2016|02:00pm]

[ mood | lethargic ]

I've posted a review of Airport '77 over at my journal.

Review: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/148318.html

tear your ticket

How Iron Man Ruined “CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR″ For Me [07 Oct 2016|08:46pm]



I wrote this ARTICLE about my feelings regarding the 2016 Marvel Cinematic Universe release, "CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR".
tear your ticket

Kubo & The Two Strings and Harvie Krumpet [06 Oct 2016|10:42pm]

[ mood | awake ]

Two brilliant stop-motion animations.

I don't watch as many animated movies as I did a few years ago (the children in my life grew up) but it seems that a few recent films are raising the bar in terms of quality. Kubo And The Two Strings is one of the best animated films I have ever seen. Practically every frame is beautiful, there is an engaging story, great vocal performances, interesting characters and moments of genuine humour, drama and charm. Kubo also joins another of my recent favourites, 'Song Of The Sea' in finding a different flavour and voice from steeping itself in an alternative (non-traditional Hollywood) world culture - and it reaps dividends. This is one of the films I will rant about endlesslessly for months to come to anyone that will listen - and when it gets a dvd release many of my unsuspecting friends and family will be gifted copies on their birthdays - it's one of those movies that is THAT good.

I picked up a copy of this Oscar Winning Australian animation from the bottom of a bargain bin only to discover that it is a short film rather than full length feature. So much did I enjoy it that I did not feel even slightly cheated. Harvie Krumpet is a stop motion tale of a Polish immigrant to Australia. The short film touches on disability, dementia, mental illness, migration, lonliness, aging and death with a brilliant balance of poignancy and humour. This would easily be another film that I would fling into Christmas stockings with wild abandon but it turns out that the short film is available in its entirety on youtube - so instead I am giddily sharing the link.


2 movie buffs| tear your ticket

Piloting Through Choppy Writing [05 Oct 2016|09:03pm]

[ mood | busy ]

I've posted a review of Airport '75 over at my journal.

Review: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/147990.html

tear your ticket

Flying High...For Now [01 Oct 2016|03:55pm]

[ mood | cranky ]

I've posted a review of Airport over at my journal, as part of a month-long series of airplane disaster movies.

Unfortunately, I can't offer a poster this time, because Livejournal currently seems to be having trouble uploading pictures. Hopefully this problem will be fixed as we go along.

Review: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/147743.html

tear your ticket

Frontier Justice Features More Dynamite Than You'd Expect [28 Sep 2016|08:45pm]

[ mood | tired ]

I've posted a review of the newest version of The Magnificent Seven over at my journal.

Review here: http://allisontooey.livejournal.com/147596.html

2 movie buffs| tear your ticket

Bugsy Malone & Mission To Lars [27 Sep 2016|01:35am]

[ mood | awake ]

Two catch up reviews barely connected by 'Music' and 'random things in my life other than movies'.

Over the Summer holidays I my two teenage goddaughters to see a production of 'Bugsy Malone' at the Lyric theatre in Hammersmith. Its was a brilliant, lively production (better and funnier than I had imagined) and an important one in my life as it was the only theatrical production I had been involved with during my time at High School so I have a strong nostalgic connection to the story. What I didn't realise until later was just how long it had been since I saw the movie - probably since I was in High School, maybe even longer, so I picked up a cheap copy.
By and large the movie holds up pretty well. The concept is still a little bonkers (Children play out adult gangster roles - with added custard pies and its also a musical). The cast are mostly pretty talented and it still shines with originality - there still isn't anything else quite like it. The only place it fell down is in comparison to the live performances I have seen - both at school and recently at the theatre. The kids in the movie do not actually sing or play instruments. Even the kids who were potentially talented enough to sing or play mimed to a soundtrack pre-recorded by adult performers. It is understandable to see why the did this (a guarantee of quality control if nothing else) and it doesn't really spoil the film, but the live performances have been better for it. I suspect that if the casting was correct it might even have improved the film. It was still a fun watch though.

A man with a profound learning disability (which like Autism causes profound social anxiety) has a lifelong wish/fixation on meeting Lars, the drummer from Metallica. His sister is a journalist and they set about documenting the journey they make to try to meet Lars. I really liked this film. The challenge is made somewhat easier because the sister in the movie is a journalist, this and the fact that they were making a funded documentary opens more doors (possibly) than would otherwise have been opened but the journey and the ambition behind it remain inspiring. I work with people with learning disablities and they frequently have ambitions which seem outlandish and impossible, so the fact that someone has said, OK - lets do it and then overcome the many obstacles to really trying is (to me) inspiring and touching beyond belief. I would like to show this film at work as a kind of training video for all staff to learn from. Dreams to have to be realistic to actually happen. That is the centra message of the film and it in no way skips over the many challenges that had to be faced. I liked this a lot.

tear your ticket

[ viewing | most recent entries ]
[ go | earlier ]