Jim Sotos directs Bo Hopkins, Dana Kimmell and Aleisa Shirley in this slasher horror where the mysterious new hottie in a small town keeps ending up meeting boys just before they are murdered.
No great shakes as a horror but the murder mystery aspect is as well developed as a Columbo or a Murder She Wrote. I enjoyed Dana Kimmell as the over enthusiastic final girl. The Sheriff’s sleuthing daughter who has graduated from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie is a neat protagonist in a town heaving with suspects. We guessed the killer the moment they appeared but that didn’t dampen the low level pleasures this has to offer.
Luc Besson directs Jean-Marc Barr, Rosanna Arquette and Jean Reno in this existential sports drama where two deep sea divers compete to see who can stay under the under ocean deepest and longest without oxygen.
The first two hours of this epic are a seductive blend of once in a lifetime visuals and competitive yearning. Only James Cameron seems to share Besson’s obsession with aquatic exploration, macho extremes and love at first sight romance. Reno completely energises the narrative as the rival diver / best friend. Quirky, consumed and chaotic his strutting peacock is less antagonist and more confidant. Yet at three hours this does strain the patience… magical realism and shrill emotion can’t be sustained for that bum numbing length. Jean-Marc Barr is too blank a hero to care for, and his creepy dolphin obsession borders on taboo. Arquette is as alluring as ever as the outsider let into this tribal subset but by the last hour is reduced to a screeching nag. Messy but still way too spectacular to overlook.
Rob Reiner directs Meg Ryan, Billy Crystal and Carrie Fisher in this romantic comedy that asks ‘Can men and women be friends or does sex always get in the way?’
Magical cinema. Crystal and Ryan bounce wonderfully off and into each other as two odd jigsaw puzzle pieces that fit perfectly together. Nora Ephron’s script is the Holy Grail of wit, maturity and insight. Reiner and cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld make Manhattan look like the most romantic place on Earth… and do you know what? Thanks to this unimpeachable classic, eternal rewatchable, it is!
Ida Lupino directs Joan Fontaine, herself and Edmond O’Brien in this drama where a salesman finds himself leading a double life when he marries the lonely woman he falls for when his first wife becomes obsessed with work.
Framed and told like mystery noir, yet all the characters are given complexity, sympathy and humanity. O’Brien is a bit of a back on his heel lug in this. It is hard to see what either of his wonderful secret wives see in him. Nice feminist message about the limited opportunities afforded to women in work and relationships even when we witness both are far more capable sellers than the shared man of their houses. Great stuff.
Curtis Hanson directs James Spader, Rob Lowe and Lisa Zane in this erotic thriller where a yuppie falls in with a seductive conman who destroys his life.
More Highsmith than Hitchcock. Spader and Lowe… no wonder my wife ordered in this blast from the past. The sexual tension is palpable between our tanned leads though they never go the full Ripley and pink sword fight. Much to Natalie’s chagrin. Humping their frustrations into a series of glamorous surrogate ladies instead. The mystery aspects are better and creepier than I remember from when I rented this as a teen. It has matured well, especially Lowe’s against type reptilian bully. He build a pretty tight trap around Spader’s willing sap.
Gore Verbinski directs Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in this pirate adventure romp where a quirky captain chases the supernatural crew who mutinied on his ship.
The above plot encapsulation is useless. There’s way too much story, backstory and hearsay here. At least a lot of the bramblish exposition is told in salty sea dog slang by grizzled, rum soaked lags. It gets in the way of all the daft swashbuckling and spooky effects that busy the romp. Not that this film needs all that pomp and dazzle. Depp is what makes it. Quirky, camp, untrustworthy – Jack Sparrow is his signature role. Whenever he’s on screen the film ignites with anarchy and cool. For years Hollywood struggled to capitalise on his fame, beauty and otherworldliness. Finally the blockbuster came along where the planets briefly aligned and he mega hit. Like the lazier sequels, bloat does creep into the final act though. The shapes of things to come for this unexpectedly popular franchise. But the first one is a colourful treat even now. And that striving shanty score by Klaus Badelt is a true rebel rouser.
Joe Johnston directs Bill Campbell, Jennifer Connelly and Timothy Dalton in this period comic book movie where a 1930s test pilot evades gangsters and nazi-spy movie stars when he finds a prototype jet pack.
Pretty sure I saw this at a caravan park as a kid’s club movie. They’d rollout a portable CRT and play a Benji movie or Tucker: The Man and His Dream just as it was a PG and would occupy a morning. This has low level jeopardy and the affectionate glaze of a by-gone age. Pre-war Hollywood is wonderfully realised with old faces and styles resurrected convincingly to add patina to the gentle romp. Dalton in particular relishes his cartoon take on an alt-Errol Flynn swashbuckling saboteur. Yet it often is very much the formulaic, toothless Disney film. Busy in its moments but forgettable a few hours later. Bill Campbell’s lead is a bland substitute for Billy Zane or Bruce Campbell. Alan Arkin gives a very spaced out non-committal turn as the ‘Doc Brown’ figure to our Brylcreem’d ‘Marty McFly’. Really a film where a zeppelin explodes over the Griffith Park Observatory should have a little more impact than this.
Ida Lupino directs William Talman, Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy in this noir thriller where two fishing buddies are held hostage by a psycho on the run who makes no bones about his intentions for them.
A solid little thriller where two men fall apart and are emasculated by the killer with the gun. The sense of foreboding and helplessness are substantial. You do get a little bored of the continued uselessness of the leads and the anti-climatic way the overpowering Talman is finally caught ends things on an underwhelming note.
Crystal Moselle directs the Angulo family in this documentary that follows the housebound set of siblings as they leave their New York apartment unsupervised for the first time after a childhood of movies, seclusion, movies, strict hippy ideology and movies.
Do you know what? At first glance these kids’ childhoods are the dream! They watch violent DVDs obsessively, draw posters, annotate screenplays, recreate convincing costumes and props out of yoga mats and cereal boxes, and develop a symbiotic sense of play between themselves. Their Halloween ritual is pretty fucking awesome. But decades being locked away from real life and education and socialisation is not going to help them once the dream is over and that is what the film hints at. The tyrannical abusive father is peeked at but never candidly explored. And there is the persistent niggle that some of this unique found footage might be faked or forced.