Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1948 - FOUR FACES WEST, a good little western

A good little western with nice guy actor Joel McCrea as a bank robber who is chased by the legendary lawman Pat Garrett.  The story involves McCrea on the run from the law who for robbing a bank.  As McCrea attempts to escape he ends up at the ranch of a sick family.  McCrea has to decide if he will help the family or continue to make his way to Mexico to escape the law.

This film is a simple morality tale with a good cast that helps put the story over.  There is a love interest in the person of Francis Dee who was married to McCrea in real life.  Theirs was one of the more successful Hollywood marriages as they were together for over 57 years.

This film has nice scenery and a pleasant manner to it.  The film only runs about and hour and a half and tells its story efficiently.

90 minutes.

2013 - NOW YOU SEE ME, seen it.

Since I saw Now You See Me 2 ,  before I saw this film I can report these two films are the exact same picture.

115 minutes.

1996 - MOTHER, another Albert Brooks observational comedy.

This quiet laid back comedy from satirist Albert Brooks is probably a little too laid back for its own good.  The story involves a writer who is attempting to come to grips with his relationship with his mother.  His decision is to move back home and live with his mother while he gets his head on straight.

Brooks and Debbie Reynolds are good as the son and the mother and the rest of what cast there is does their best to wring some laughs out of the situation.

The film is somewhat of a change of pace for Albert Brooks who usually has the knives out with this usual con artist character.  Here he tries for something a little more normal with his comic characterization. 

A not bad picture it has some quiet laughs.

123 minutes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

1982 -THE THING - on Blu Ray

For once a remake of a film classic that doesn't disgrace the original film.   John Carpenter an admitted fan of Howard Hawks takes the old Hawks film and rethinks it completely.

Carpenter and his writer Bill Lancaster go back to the original short story and update it with 80's state of the art special effects.

The monsters in this thing are really something to see, the special effects wizard Rob Bottin and his team really outdid themselves in the practical effects department.  When I saw this film on first release this was when I realized that they could now put anything into a motion picture when it came to special effects.

The film probably suffered from being a little too graphic for the general public.  It wasn't the box office success it should have been.  Going agains E.T at the time probably didn't help it's commercial possibilities.

109 minutes.

1971 - VANISHING POINT, on Blu Ray

Put a guy in a car and have him chased by the police for about and hour and a half for no particular reason and you have the film Vanishing Point.

This film is a real 70's counter culture antique.  The driver Kowalski, played by Barry Newman for some reason decides to piss off the police and the race is on.  We never learn what ultimately pops Kowalski's cork.  However one thing seems to be for sure, Kowalski is rebelling against any type of authority.

The film is loaded with hippies, naked girls on motorcycles and a barely talkative leading man.  It all means something but what?

The film is a major influence on many filmmakers.  Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino are big fans of Vanishing Point.  Nice photography of the western United States by the way.

98 minutes

1975 - THE HINDENBURG - on bluray format.

The director Robert Wise attempts to class up the 1970's disaster movie cycle with this meticulous film on the airship Hindenburg disaster.  If good direction, special effects and production design could make a good film this would have been a very fine film.  However the script leaves quite a lot too be desired which ultimately lets the overall film down.

As always with films like this where the primary characters are all supposed to be German the choice was made to let the American actors speak without accents.  This has always been an issue where a film is set in a foreign country and the cast is primarily made up of actors not native to that country. It frequently affects the film's verisimilitude. 

The special effects are old school with model work and matte paintings extremely well done.  At times it seems like they actually built an airship and flew the damn thing to New York.  The photography and production design are well executed.  Robert Wise was always a director who put a lot of care into his films.

The film is somewhat of a disappointment but nowhere near the failure that the critics labeled it when it was released.

125 minutes.

125 minutes.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

1934 - CRIME WITHOUT PASSION, a real weirdo of a film.

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur are chiefly remembered as the authors of The Front Page. However they were top writers in Hollywood and on Broadway.  For a while they co-directed and wrote a series of offbeat films.  Crime Without Passion was their first film and apparently they weren't that well versed in film making technique.  To the rescue came their cinematographer Lee Garmes who not only photographed the film but is listed as "associate director" in the credits

The film is full of wild editing and montage effects as well as some pretty over the top dialog. The story has velvet voiced Claude Rains as a sleezy attorney involved with two women.  Rains wants to get rid of one of his mistresses so he can take off to Europe with the other one.  This snowballs into a whole lot of craziness.

I guess as a mainstream commerical film, this film doesn't really come off but it is so off beat and original it's a lot of fun to watch.  Hecht and MacArthur apparently had enough sense not to push their story too much the film is a brisk 70 minutes.

70 minutes.