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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. 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
  2. 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...

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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
  7. 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...

  8. 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...

  9. A still from Arrowsmith (1931)

    Arrowsmith 1931

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Ford. Starring Ronald Colman, Helen Hayes, Richard Bennett, and A.E. Anson.

    Ronald Colman charms as a promising young doctor who tries small-town medicine but finds himself drawn to research. After landing at a prestigious New York institute, he discovers a cure for bubonic plague. A West Indies outbreak provides an opportunity to test his work but also tests his resolve to maintain a detached, scientific approach. Continue reading...

  10. A still from Frankenstein (1931)

    Frankenstein 1931

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by James Whale. Starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, Boris Karloff, and John Boles.

    Like Dracula, I’ve seen this movie countless times. Boris Karloff still shines as the monster, but this latest viewing gave me a new appreciation for Jack Pierce’s makeup work. Even in the harsh daylight scenes blown up to 4k, it looks seamless. I always forget how those daylight scenes open up the picture. The lack of echo during the mountain chase finale betrays the soundstage artifice, but the genuine outdoor scenes are fantastic. Continue reading...


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