Thursday, October 13, 2016

2016 - THE FINEST HOURS, based on a true story possibly.

Supposedly based on a true story of a Coast Guard rescue of a sinking ship.  This is a sincere attempt at a story about professionals under duress while doing their job in an extreme situation.  This is the kind of story that Howard Hawks could skillfully assemble in his prime.

The acting is fine, the film has a good cast.  Unfortunately something about the story just doesn't ring true.  I can't put my finger on what's missing in the film but it seems to me that the dramatic conflict of the rescue just doesn't ring completely true.  Somehow the little Coast Guard life boat crashing through the gigantic tsunami sized waves to rescue the crew of the sinking ship just doesn't look real.  The computer generated waves make the rescue look kind of fake.

Disney gambled that audiences would want to see this true story.  Unfortunately they didn't. 

117 minutes.

2016 - STAR TREK BEYOND, overblown version of a TV episode of the series

This overblown Star Trek film, the third in the restarted series is just another junky action flick.  Too bad, because the cast was just starting to come together as an ensemble.  Simon Pegg the actor who plays Scottie is a co-writer on the film so there is some attempt to inject some humor into the series this time.  Unfortunately there isn't enough humor in the galaxy to smooth over this contrived plot.

It seems that the USS Enterprise on a mission to rescue another crew trapped on an alien planet is lured in to a trap by some alien megalomaniac who wants some super weapon stored on the Enterprise.

Star Trek Beyond is yet another summer popcorn film which just doesn't know when to quit.  The film is overloaded with action scene after action scene.  There is a prolonged fight towards the end of the film on some improbable space station that just goes on an on and adds nothing to the story other than to make the film longer than it needs to be.

I would rate this Star Trek film about as good as a mediocre episode of the old series.  At least the old series could have knocked this plot out in about 45 minutes without all the over stuffed action scenes.  A real missed opportunity.

122 minutes.

2000 - U 571 it's a World War II movie it's got subs.

U-571 is a very very tall tale of a movie.  The premise,  American sailors on a submarine have to take over a German submarine in the middle of the Atlantic after their submarine is sunk.  This leads to a preposterous mission where the Americans in the German sub have to steal the Enigma coding device, oh whatever.

This is just a real contrived war movie to put it mildly.  The characters are the usual bunch of World War II stereotypes.  You have the old salt crew chief.  The captain who doubts himself but pulls it together in the end to complete the mission.  The green sailor on his first mission, etc.

The film had a big budget so it looks good and the action stuff is decent.  I guess you can classify this film as a typical "time killer."

As ridiculous as this film is, incredibly enough this story is based on a true incident that occurred during World War II.

116 minutes.

THE BURBS - mild comedy/satire.

After a while you begin to appreciate now good actors can be.  Faced with the task of breathing life into some mediocre film screenplay, many films sink or swim on the talents of the cast.  The director John Huston said that 70% of the success of a film was based on the casting.  The Burbs is a good example of this.

Tom Hanks is a homeowner in some generic suburban tract.  He is surrounded by a bunch of neighbors who have some kind of quirk or another.  These neighbors become obsessed with a family in the neighborhood who don't take care of their house or their lawn.  This leads to lots of improbable pieces of comedy shtick which involves everyone in the neighborhood spying on the weirdos across the street .

The director, Joe Dante actually restrains himself for a change.  The film isn't loaded up with a lot of his old film in jokes.  But Dante's actually too restrained this time.  The film could probably have used a more anarchic approach.  If you want to show a bunch of zany people perhaps you should have a more over the top style of storytelling.

The Burbs is mostly enjoyable thanks to actors like Tom Hanks and Bruce Dern among others because they know how to milk most of the mild comedy situations about as well as can be expected.

101 minutes.

1926 - THE STRONG MAN, Frank Capra's first film a real winner.

Frank Capra's first major film is a very good comedy with silent film actor Harry Langdon.  For a time Langdon was considered as important an artist as Chaplin, Keaton or Lloyd. 

The Strong Man is full of  many inventive bits of comedy. You can definitely see that Capra was a young director to watch.

The film expertly combines humor, pathos and a large scale action scene toward the end.  It also knows not to over stay it's welcome and runs just a little over an hour.

A real pleasure to watch and possibly a comedy masterpiece from the silent era.

75 minutes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1969 - HARD CONTRACT, a so called thriller

What a pile of crap.  James Coburn is an assassin employed by the CIA.  While on a job he falls in love with the very good looking Lee Remick.  Thus an existentialist conflict is born. should he be a lover or a killer.  Time wasted on this dilema, almost two hours.

The film has a very decent supporting cast, Lilli Palmer, Burgess Meredith and Sterling Hayden among others.  They all yammer on with a bunch of ridiculous talk about love, relationships and in this case the place of  a hit man in the contemporary world.

This film has one of those ridiculous non ending endings.  Coburn decides he doesn't want to be a hired killer anymore and the film just stops.  The only people that got killed in this film were any audiences that actually payed money to see this thing.

106 minutes.

1972 - WHAT'S UP DOC, a rehash of a 30's screwball comedy.

Bogdanovich's follow up to The Last Picture Show was this slavish recreation of a 1930's screwball comedy particularly a Howard Hawks comedy.  Peter Bogdanovich was entering his boy wonder director genius period of his career.  After this film the critics and the Hollywood studios were so enamored of Bogdanovich that he was labeled the next Orson Welles.

This movie made a ton of money when it was released.  Audiences loved it.  Bogdanovich juggled a pretty good cast of character actors in the usual eccentric character parts that are a staple of this type of film.  The female lead Barbara Streisand did a pretty good job copying Katherine Hepburn from Bringing Up Baby.  Ryan O'Neal seemed very stiff and uncomfortable in the Cary Grant part.

Bogdanovich probably juggled the set pieces about as well as anyone could considering this film was a rehash without one real original idea in it.  Overall the film has a rather curious distancing effect as is Bogdanovich is observing the action from about 2 city blocks away from the action.

What's Up Doc has a big car chase at the end of the film.  Car chases were big stuff in movies in the 1970's they were always a sure fire audience favorite

94 minutes.