Posts

Prey (2022) ***

Image
Prey (2022) is a solid Predator film that adds a cool angle to the franchise—that of Comanche facing off against the monster. I am all for taking the character and putting new spins on the basic premise (hunter vs. hunted), dropping the beast into different time periods, etc. And Prey does that, mostly quite well. I really like the way that the lead being a woman this go-around was handled and Amber Midthunder is very good. But some of the goodwill is unfortunately squandered by too much reliance on CGI and mediocre superhero-style action. This could have been something truly special but instead it's on par with 2010's Predators . My reviews of the first four films here, here , here , and here . Predator Films Ranked

Nope (2022) ***

Image
Jordan Peele 's latest, Nope (2022), plays in the same willfully obtuse sandbox as David Lynch , only this attempt at an art film wrapped in a blockbuster shell never quite congealed for this viewer. There are lots of ideas thrown onscreen, but the film is overlong, repetitive, there's some wonky camerawork and editing, the characters feel underdeveloped, I wasn’t into a lot of the line delivery, there's too much of the creature, I couldn't get into the creature design, and only a few scenes had palpable tension.  Nope felt like another attempt at blending modern with '80s  Spielberg  magic but the sense of wonder was missing. All that said, I liked the score, Daniel Kaluuya was mostly very good, and casting Keith David as his dad was inspired (although he had far too little screen time). I didn't love Peele's sophomore film  Us  (2019) ( review ) either, but I still think he's an interesting (if overhyped) filmmaker that I hope will make more persona

Bad Dreams (1988) ***

Image
While 1988's Bad Dreams is certainly derivative of  A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors  ( review ) (released the previous year) and shares an actress with that film in Jennifer Rubin , I found it to be a fun little genre exercise. The cult leader angle (a perfectly cast Richard Lynch ; did he ever not portray an ultra creepy bad guy?) distinguishes the film just enough so that it doesn't feel like a complete rip-off and it's actually quite well made—the segues between the flashbacks and present time are particularly well-handled.  Bruce Abbott  ( Re-Animator  (1985); review ) is good here, feeling right at home in another role in a horror film largely set in a hospital and Charles Fleischer (the voice of Roger Rabbit in  Who Framed Roger Rabbit , released the same year; review ), who was in the first A   Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) ( review ) even pops up. Bad Dreams  is nothing to write home about, but it's got some stylish set pieces, decent gore, a

Back To The Beach (1987) ***1/2

Image
Back To The Beach  (1987) is cheesy, corny, silly, but most of all fun, like the best 80s films (plus it has the added bonuses of Fishbone and Pee-wee Herman ). This was my first time viewing of  BTTB  and, while I was certainly aware of it, I don't know why I never saw this film before. I would have loved it when it was released but I can genuinely say that I love it now and it was a worthwhile blind buy.

Kill Them All And Come Back Alone (1968) ***

Image
Kill Them All And Come Back Alone (1968) (what a great title) has to be the most acrobatic western ever made. Dudes are literally leaping through the air, pole-vaulting, backflipping, and swan diving every five minutes. The story is thin and familiar (it's all down to gold, of course), but Enzo G. Castellari could direct the hell out on an action picture and this film is a lot of fun. Recommended for fans of  The Dirty Dozen   (1967), The Magnificent Seven (1960),  The Great Escape   (1963) ( review ), and  The Guns Of Navarone  (1961) ( review ). Enzo G. Castellari Films Ranked

The Proposition (2005) ****1/2

Image
I first saw The Proposition  (2005) when it had limited theatrical screenings in the U.S. in 2006 and it immediately became one of my favorite westerns. I've seen (and bought) it on three home video formats since then (DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K UHD) and the film has lost none of its power. I can confidently say that it's my favorite (what some consider an anti- or revisionist) western of the past 20 years.  The Proposition features a lyrical screenplay by  Nick Cave , an inhospitable atmosphere via the Australian Outback, tasteful yet unflinching direction by  John Hillcoat , poetic performances from an outstanding cast (including Guy Pearce , Ray Winstone , Danny Huston , John Hurt , David Wenham , and Emily Watson ), and a wonderfully experimental score by Cave and Warren Ellis  (which holds its own outside of the film). All these elements (and more) meld together beautifully in this brutal tale of vengeance, family, colonialism, and machismo to make  The Proposition  a truly affe

The Editor (2014) ***1/2

Image
Astron-6 's The Editor  (2014) is the comedy troupe's most accomplished work, a ridiculous parody of gialli  and poliziotteschi that manages to capture trademarks of those genres while still infusing the film with their particular brand of zaniness (including their hilariously homoerotic leanings). They delightfully play up the casual misogyny, gratuitous nudity, and violence present in those 70s Italian productions to intentionally over the top levels.  I'm not always the biggest fan of super obvious callbacks to other films (it can tend to distract by becoming a game of "spot this reference")—in this case the work Lucio Fulci , Dario Argento , Sergio Martino , Brian De Palma , to name a few, plus Nicolas Roeg and David Cronenberg for good measure—but it works in The Editor because of the tone of the piece. Not every joke lands, some scenes drag a touch, and I really wish that Astron had been able to shoot on film to provide a more authentic experience, but up

The Witch (2015) ****

Image
The Witch   (2015)   is one quiet film. There are moments of sudden alarming noise, to be sure. And the tension remains throughout, even in the quietest moments. But it's a textbook definition of a slow burner. The performances are excellent across the board, the cinematography is exceptional (shot with mostly natural light only), the excruciating level of detail of the production to achieve authenticity shows, and the atmosphere is creepy as all get-out. I've seen  The Witch  four times now in three different formats (cinema, Blu-ray, and UHD) and it's been an engaging and enveloping experience each time—it's an excellent horror film but also a really good dark religious family drama. Recommended for fans of  Valhalla Rising   (2009),  A Field In England   (2013) ( review ),   The House Of The Devil   (2009) ( review ),   and  Rosemary's Baby   (1968).

Moving The Needle Podcast: Episode 68 - Cloak & Dagger

Image
Moving The Needle Podcast  likes me enough to keep asking me back and recently both Ryan and I guested on an episode covering  Richard Franklin ’s  Cloak & Dagger  (1984)! Listen to  MTN   Episode 68  to hear  Sean, Henno, Ryan, and I discuss the film. Follow  MTN  to enjoy all of their episodes! Richard Franklin Feature Films Ranked

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) ****

Image
When it was first released I likely would have given  Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) a perfect score. For some reason I want to believe that I've seen the film many times but I think it's only been four or five viewings. I know I saw it in the theater, on DVD (probably at least twice) because I owned it, and then I have two logged watches—on Blu-ray (which I also previously owned) and now on 4K UHD. It feels like so many more. I guess my fragmented and unreliable memory is appropriate, given the nature of this existential sci-fi rom-com, but I also think it's down to the film being an indelible work of art. The last time I watched ES was 10 years ago and already then the cracks had begun to show, much like the ice of the frozen lake in a pivotal scene (and immortalized on the theatrical poster). But in a way that doesn't hurt the film because the characters are messy, confused, complex—basically, human beings. The performances hold up,  Charlie Kaufman &