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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from The Slumberparty Massacre (1982)

    The Slumberparty Massacre 1982

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Amy Holden Jones. Starring Michelle Michaels, Robin Stille, Michael Villella, and Debra De Liso.

    I went in knowing this had an all-woman creative team, but it was only after watching that I learned feminist activist Rita Mae Brown wrote the script as a slasher parody, but producer-director Amy Holden Jones shot it as a straight exploitation picture. Continue reading...

    Watched on 08 Oct, 2021
  2. A still from The Vast of Night (2019)

    The Vast of Night 2019

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Andrew Patterson. Starring Sierra McCormick, Jake Horowitz, Gail Cronauer, and Bruce Davis.

    The impressive opening raised my expectations. The time is the late 1950s, the height of the Red Scare. The place is a small New Mexico town where no one locks their doors and everyone knows everyone. We learn this via a long Aaron Sorkinesque tracking shot following our leads as they walk and talk amongst the locals gathering for a high school basketball game. Continue reading...

    Watched on 07 Oct, 2021
  3. A still from Dagon (2001)

    Dagon 2001

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Stuart Gordon. Starring Ezra Godden, Francisco Rabal, Raquel Meroño, and Macarena Gómez.

    Stuart Gordon’s take on Lovecraft is becoming my favorite. He delivers the source material’s existential dread and world-building while stirring in a liberal dose of sleaze. While this would have offended the prudish author, it sets the stories outside conventional morality, heightening the sense of an ancient “other” lurking below society’s norms. Continue reading...

    Watched on 06 Oct, 2021
  4. A still from Child's Play (2019)

    Child's Play 2019

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Lars Klevberg. Starring Tim Matheson, Ben Daon, Zahra Anderson, and Serge Jaswal.

    This reimagining of Chucky as a rogue AI feels like a Black Mirror story with slasher tropes grafted on, or a slasher story punched up to be more “relevant”. The idiot plot overshadows some terrific moments—some chilling, some hilarious. Cutting the ridiculous origin prologue would help.

  5. A still from The Magician (1958)

    The Magician 1958

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Max von Sydow, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, and Naima Wifstrand.

    Set in the mid-nineteenth century, Max von Sydow plays Vogler, a traveling mute magician who opens the film arriving in a small town with his assistants. The local elites waylay the party, intent on prosecuting them for their own selfish reasons. But Vogler proves more cunning than they anticipated. Continue reading...

  6. A still from Donnie Darko (2001)

    Donnie Darko 2001

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Richard Kelly. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Mary McDonnell, and Holmes Osborne.

    Writer/director Richard Kelly marries a Lynchian Möbius strip plot to a teen rebel story with terrific results. A few notes fall flat—the Smurfs exchange reeks of post-Tarantino imitation—but Jake Gyllenhaal impresses in a difficult role.

    Watched on 02 Oct, 2021
  7. A still from The Fury (1978)

    The Fury 1978

    D-: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, and Charles Durning.

    Director Brian De Palma’s follow up to Carrie starts well enough. Kirk Douglas plays a former spy battling a shadowy government agency who’ve kidnapped his teen-aged psychic son, Robin. But after a terrific sequence where Douglas flees a flop house from government agents, Douglas drives his getaway car into a river. No explanation. The inanity had me laughing. Continue reading...

  8. A still from Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021)

    Prisoners of the Ghostland 2021

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Sion Sono. Starring Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, and Bill Moseley.

    In a post-apocalyptic near-future, imprisoned bank robber Nick Cage finds himself forced to retrieve corrupt governor Bill Moseley’s granddaughter. Escape from New York segues into Beyond Thunderdome as Cage ends up stranded in a colony of wasteland survivors battling a group of mutated felons. Bonkers, but not as bonkers as you might expect. Cage and Moseley entertain, but the hour-forty running time drags.

    Watched on 30 Sep, 2021
  9. A still from Malignant (2021)

    Malignant 2021

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by James Wan. Starring Annabelle Wallis, Maddie Hasson, George Young, and Michole Briana White.

    Marinates a Frank Henenlotter plot in a slew of genre trappings, then spoils it with some awkward wire-fu action and an unfortunate lack of humor. The bird’s-eye shot of Annabelle Wallis running through her house left me wishing director James Wan would make a straight giallo.

    Watched on 30 Sep, 2021
  10. A still from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

    Beyond the Valley of the Dolls 1970

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Russ Meyer. Starring Dolly Read, Cynthia Myers, Marcia McBroom, and John Lazar.

    Commentary rewatch. Screenwriter Roger Ebert proves entertaining and enlightening.

    My favorite anecdote shed light on how director Russ Meyer achieved the film’s unusual tone. According to Ebert, Meyer convinced the performers they were playing a straight drama. When some expressed concern about the film’s comical nature, Meyer assuaged them with earnest discussions about their character’s motivations in each scene. I love it.

    And Ebert can’t find Pam Grier either, leading me to believe she’s not present in the final cut.

    Watched on 29 Sep, 2021

Pagination

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