12/29/2014

Big Eyes (2014) ***

I can see why Tim Burton would be attracted to this project, having started as an animator for Disney and being unfulfilled. The irony is that this film about art is terribly by-the-book. The double irony is that it completely and utterly lacks any kind of Burton stamp. This is like Burton's THE STRAIGHT STORY but without the gravitas. The writing duo of ED WOOD fail to capture the same magic here (and frankly some of the script is just flat out bad) and Danny Elfman's score is vanilla and forgettable. Amy Adams gives an expressive performance (particularly with her eyes, because duh), but I found Christoph Waltz too OTT at times and Danny Huston is wasted here (much like he was in HITCHCOCK - give the man another role like the one in THE PROPOSITION!). All that said, it's an entertaining film, but one probably not worth revisiting.

Kingpin - R-rated Version (1996) ***1/2

12/28/2014

Point Blank (1967) ****1/2

Damn, the 60s really was one the best decades ever for film. Lee Marvin as Walker is easily one of the most badass characters in any film ever. The dreamy psychedelic sequences, the jazzy Schifrin-like score by Johnny Mandel, the great supporting roles (Keenan Wynn, Carroll O'Connor, Michael Strong, John Vernon), the style, the time shifts/jump cuts, the economy of Boorman's filmmaking - there is so much to savor here. POINT BLANK was a huge influence on Soderbergh's THE LIMEY (another favorite film) and was remade, as a lesser but still great film called PAYBACK, both based on Donald E. Westlake's (writing as Richard Stark) novel 'The Hunter'.

The Blues Brothers (1980) ***

Babes In Toyland (1961) ***1/2

12/07/2014

Un 32 août sur terre (August 32nd On Earth) (1998) ***1/2

I've now seen all the solo credited feature-length films by director Denis Villeneuve and I can safely say that he is one of my current favorites. This was his feature debut and it's the most humorous of his films (a bit reminiscent of BOTTLE ROCKET at times). All his films are completely different from each other in tone and scope and in that way he reminds me a bit of Steven Soderbergh but their styles are nothing alike. I can't wait for his next film SICARIO!

12/05/2014

Santa Claus (1959) (RiffTrax) ***

I wasn't sure if I should post and rate this one on the blog because I'd never seen it before and this was a RiffTrax screening (my first). So I suppose my rating is more based on the total experience, which was a blast. If I were to rate the experience alone, based on laughter, it'd be more of a ***1/2 and the film itself would be a ** or **1/2. Anyway, it's bonkers.

12/04/2014

Maelström (2000) ***1/2

By far the strangest of Villeneuve's films that I've seen. The DVD is pretty abysmal quality; I would love to see a proper Blu-ray. This one was like a cross between Zulawski and Jeunet
As far as I can see there is only one other feature film of his that I have yet to see and it doesn't appear to be easy to find. I can't wait to see what else the future holds in store for this filmmaker.


Lolita (1997) ****

What a beautiful and sad film. I love the book and I highly enjoy the Kubrick film (he's my favorite director), but I think I may just like this film version better. I think Jeremy Irons makes a better Humbert than James Mason and Dominique Swain is perfect as Dolores. Which isn't to say that Sue Lyon wasn't a great choice in the 1962 film, but it's my opinion that Carrol Baker rivaled her in a similar role in the film BABY DOLL. I will say that Shelley Winters was a better Charlotte though. Morricone's score is gorgeous as well and reminds me most of his ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA score.