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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Dreams (1955)

    Dreams 1955

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Ulf Palme.

    Ingmar Bergman’s slow-build drama focuses on two women. Susanne owns a successful modeling agency but yearns for her former lover, a married man. Younger Doris models for Susanne, has split with her fiancé, and yearns for a more attentive partner. We watch both women realize their dreams in a meandering but uneasy manner. Then Bergman strikes. He punctuates both storylines with profound moments of icy, acerbic cruelty that disabuse both women of their fantasies. The reductive epilogue disappointed, but there’s a through-line here to Neil LaBute’s best work.

  2. A still from Tonight or Never (1931)

    Tonight or Never 1931

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Starring Gloria Swanson, Melvyn Douglas, Alison Skipworth, and Ferdinand Gottschalk.

    A romantic comedy starring Gloria Swanson as a prima donna criticized for her passionless performances because she’s never made time for a man. To remedy this, she falls for convenient handsome stranger Melvyn Douglas, but an idiot plot causes her to believe him a gigolo. Putting aside the plot’s overt sexism, I struggled with Swanson’s petulant, egomaniacal character. Boris Karloff appears in a single scene as a hotel waiter.

  3. A still from Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)

    Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey 1991

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Peter Hewitt. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, William Sadler, and Joss Ackland.

    A disappointing sequel that manifests its bigger budget via more effects and product placement, but lacks the first entry’s amiable tone. The heightened narrative stakes involve a future revolutionary, evil robots, and the afterlife. The abundant night shots point to a rushed production. Only the scenes with William Sadler as the Grim Reaper recapture the first entry’s goofy sense of fun.

    Watched on 01 May, 2021
  4. A still from Sisters (1972)

    Sisters 1972

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, and William Finley.

    Brian De Palma’s first Hitchcockian thriller. I won’t discuss plot and have redacted spoilers. Continue reading...

  5. A still from A Lesson in Love (1954)

    A Lesson in Love 1954

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Eva Dahlbeck, Gunnar Björnstrand, Yvonne Lombard, and Harriet Andersson.

    Add a star if you speak Swedish. Subtitles lose comedic timing. Ingmar Bergman’s acerbic comedy about a gynecologist seeking to reunite with his estranged wife struck me as talky and middle-of-the-road. I bought the performances but struggled to connect with the humor.

  6. A still from East of Shanghai (1931)

    East of Shanghai 1931

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Henry Kendall, Joan Barry, Percy Marmont, and Betty Amann.

    Lesser-known Hitchcock entry sees a sedate married couple gifted an unexpected windfall. They tour the world but find romance with others along the way. It’s a tired trope—give the lower class money and they’ll find misery. Hitchcock seems less interested in the story than in the formal devices he can employ to tell it. The opening plays like a silent film, and the trend continues throughout with title cards and broad performances. Much of the comedy falls flat, save a third act gag involving the couple devouring a much-needed meal before discovering its origins. Chalk this up as a failed experiment best forgotten.

  7. A still from Seed of Chucky (2004)

    Seed of Chucky 2004

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Don Mancini. Starring Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif, John Waters, and Billy Boyd.

    My favorite of the series so far. The prior entries helped me appreciate this one’s unpretentious approach. It opens with a stylish sequence shot from the doll’s point-of-view that embraces the sleaze the franchise had been lacking. This sequence and the follow-up both feature a British cast. Then the film pulls back the curtain to reveal a New Nightmare style movie-within-a-movie. It’s a sleazy, gory, funny bit of nonsense that revels in its B-Movie nature. Jennifer Tilly’s fearless, self-deprecating performance deserves more notice.

  8. A still from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989)

    Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure 1989

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Stephen Herek. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin, and Terry Camilleri.

    Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves play the titular Bill and Ted, a pair of loveable doofuses and would-be rockers gifted a time machine to complete their high-school history project. The script’s valley slang belies its deft construction. It avoids the idiot plot trope and doesn’t derive comedy from Bill and Ted’s idiocy. Rather, it paints their blissful ignorance as a strength. The easiest way to cope with time-travel’s existential horrors is to simply not consider them.

    Watched on 24 Apr, 2021
  9. A still from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988)

    Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood 1988

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Carl Buechler. Starring Terry Kiser, Jennifer Banko, John Otrin, and Susan Blu.

    I came with an open mind. I’d heard rumblings it was bad, but rumblings can be wrong. Continue reading...

  10. A still from Sawdust and Tinsel (1953)

    Sawdust and Tinsel 1953

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Åke Grönberg, Harriet Andersson, Hasse Ekman, and Anders Ek.

    I tend to dislike circus movies, for the same reason I dislike circuses. Too much broad artifice and force-fed spectacle. But director Ingmar Bergman’s picture harbors no romanticized notions of circus life. His story sees a tired ringmaster and his mistress treat each other with shocking cruelty as each struggles to escape their lifestyle. Continue reading...

Pagination

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