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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)

    Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping 2016

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. Starring Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, and Sarah Silverman.

    A contemporary This is Spinal Tap. Andy Samberg plays Conner4Real, a pop star riding high on the eve of his much-anticipated sophomore release. The standard fall-from-grace-then-redemption plot follows, but the script’s biting commentary on celebrity culture and Connor’s catchy, hilarious, and often outrageous songs prove entertaining.

    Watched on 03 Jul, 2021
  2. A still from Suspiria (2018)

    Suspiria 2018

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Luca Guadagnino. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Tilda Swinton, Doris Hick, and Malgorzata Bela.

    Ambitious. How else to describe a film that analogizes dancing to spell-casting and a coven of witches to the Red Army Faction. I appreciate that ambition, and the influences director Luca Guadagnino brings to bear. But the result didn’t thrill me. Continue reading...

    Watched on 02 Jul, 2021
  3. A still from Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971)

    Four Flies on Grey Velvet 1971

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Dario Argento. Starring Michael Brandon, Mimsy Farmer, Jean-Pierre Marielle, and Aldo Bufi Landi.

    Writer-director Dario Argento’s third entry in his “Animal Trilogy” behind The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Cat o’ Nine Tails. Michael Brandon plays a drummer in a successful rock band. One night after rehearsal, he confronts a stalker and commits manslaughter. His crime goes undiscovered by police, but another stalker threatens first to expose him, then to kill him. Continue reading...

  4. A still from Phantom of the Paradise (1974)

    Phantom of the Paradise 1974

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper, and Gerrit Graham.

    It’s not a musical. The Andrew Lloyd Webber version is a musical. This Phantom of the Opera adaptation plays as a black comedy, transplanting the classic tale from the world of opera to glam rock with Faustian touches. And it’s terrific. Continue reading...

  5. A still from Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)

    Smiles of a Summer Night 1955

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson, and Margit Carlqvist.

    Entertaining albeit frustrating comedy-drama period-piece from writer-director Ingmar Bergman. Continue reading...

  6. A still from The Sea Bat (1930)

    The Sea Bat 1930

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Lionel Barrymore and Wesley Ruggles. Starring Raquel Torres, Charles Bickford, Nils Asther, and George F. Marion.

    Revisited on Watch TCM. The higher resolution did nothing to improve the film.

  7. A still from Violent Playground (1958)

    Violent Playground 1958

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Basil Dearden. Starring Stanley Baker, Anne Heywood, David McCallum, and Peter Cushing.

    A stacked cast and vivid location photography elevate this story of juvenile delinquency. Stanley Baker makes a strong case for Watchlist inclusion as a Liverpool detective volun-told to take over as Juvenile Liaison Officer. David McCallum plays the requisite troubled youth. Peter Cushing turns up as the local priest. The Liverpool photography puts you on the streets of the Beatles hometown a few years before they broke big. Baker and McCallum ensure you’re never bored. The script avoids soapbox soliloquies and rations the melodramatics. A pleasant surprise.

  8. A still from The Peanut Butter Solution (1985)

    The Peanut Butter Solution 1985

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Rubbo. Starring Mathew Mackay, Siluck Saysanasy, Alison Darcy, and Michael Hogan.

    The bizarre story of a boy who suffers a fright and loses his hair. The ghosts of two winos proffer a formula for hair growth which he botches, leading to hair that won’t stop growing. He goes from bald at breakfast to Cousin Itt by dinner. Soon he’s kidnapped by a maniacal paintbrush manufacturer and doped on yogurt while his never-ending hair serves as raw materials for paintbrush bristles. It’s the sort of dark fantasy I enjoyed as a kid and appreciate as an adult. Not a great movie, but I appreciate its refusal to talk down to its audience and the resulting dissonance. What did I just watch?

    Watched on 26 Jun, 2021
  9. A still from Funny Games (1997)

    Funny Games 1997

    A: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, Arno Frisch, and Frank Giering.

    In the late 90s, everyone was championing Scream’s revival of the horror genre, citing its self-aware script, and upending of the genre tropes. But the genuine evolutionary leap occurred a year later, in Austria, with this film. Besides resuscitating the home-invasion genre, Funny Games proves more self-reflexive and layered. All while packing the nihilistic punch Scream lacked. Continue reading...

  10. A still from Psycho Goreman (2020)

    Psycho Goreman 2020

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Steven Kostanski. Starring Nita-Josee Hanna, Matthew Ninaber, and Steven Vlahos.

    The title threw me. The marketing materials called it PG: Psycho Goreman. I get how writer-director Steven Kostanski was parodying the MPAA rating, but it backfired on me. The “PG” connotation conjured images of watered-down Amblinesque horror, pushing this off my must-see list. Turns out, I was half-right in the best possible way. Continue reading...

    Watched on 24 Jun, 2021


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