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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)

    Bill & Ted Face the Music 2020

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Dean Parisot. Starring Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, and Samara Weaving.

    Disappointing sequel sees perennial doofuses Bill and Ted still struggling to fulfill their destiny while facing crumbling marriages and their college-age children’s expectations. I wanted to like this more. The script strives to recapture the first entry’s sense of whimsy by recreating the original film while telling a new story, but the result feels too self-conscious. The cast commits but can’t overcome the material. Ted wearing a button-up and slacks proves you can’t go home again.

    Watched on 15 May, 2021
  2. A still from Hell's House (1932)

    Hell's House 1932

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Howard Higgin. Starring Bette Davis, Pat O'Brien, Junior Durkin, and Frank Coghlan Jr..

    A reform school drama buoyed by early charismatic performances from Pat O’Brien and Bette Davis. Junior Durkin plays Jimmy, a fourteen-year-old who travels to the big city to live with his aunt and uncle. He soon becomes enraptured by their smooth-talking boarder, played by O’Brien, who takes a shine to Jimmy and hires him to watch his office and take messages. Continue reading...

    Watched on 14 May, 2021
  3. A still from The Greasy Strangler (2016)

    The Greasy Strangler 2016

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Jim Hosking. Starring Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, and Gil Gex.

    How to describe The Greasy Strangler? It’s part father-son relationship drama, part schlock monster movie, and part 70s sleaze, all staged with the precision of a Wes Anderson film, and seeped in British-style absurdist humor. You will either love it or hate it. I can’t imagine a middle ground. Continue reading...

    Watched on 13 May, 2021
  4. A still from Mortal Kombat (2021)

    Mortal Kombat 2021

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Simon McQuoid. Starring Lewis Tan, Jessica McNamee, Josh Lawson, and Joe Taslim.

    Lewis Tan plays Cole Young, a once-promising mixed martial artist reduced to last-minute bouts staged in sweaty auditoriums. An attack from a mysterious assailant with supernatural powers thrusts him into a centuries old conflict between worlds. Continue reading...

    Watched on 13 May, 2021
  5. A still from High Pressure (1932)

    High Pressure 1932

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Starring William Powell, Evelyn Brent, George Sidney, and John Wray.

    William Powell plays New York City’s best “promoter.” If you’ve got an idea for a business, he’ll mastermind drumming up investment dollars. His one catch: the deal must be legit. As he says, anyone can put over a swindle, but promoting a real deal takes skill. George Sidney brings him a proposition involving synthetic rubber and soon Powell has an army of salesmen pressing the hard sell on scores of potential investors. Think a tamer Wolf of Wall Street. Things take a turn when the Attorney General demands they prove their ability to produce rubber. Not a standout, but I enjoyed it. Powell’s charming as ever and director Mervyn LeRoy keeps his foot on the gas. Only the romantic angle between Powell and Evelyn Brent underwhelmed. Frank McHugh turns up early as Powell’s right-hand man.

    Watched on 12 May, 2021
  6. A still from The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

    The Man in the Iron Mask 1939

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by James Whale. Starring Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, Warren William, and Joseph Schildkraut.

    Peter Cushing’s debut. Fitting it should come in a film directed by James Whale, who had—eight years prior—directed Frankenstein. This loose adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’s novel boasts a winning double-role from Louis Hayward. The lavish sets scream for Technicolor, but the optical effects involved in Hayward playing opposite himself may have prevented it. I’d have preferred more swashbuckling and less melodrama, but it’s still an entertaining ride. The climactic chase reminded me of a western. Our heroes on horseback pursing the villain across the California landscape as he shoots back at them. It also drove home that we weren’t in France. Cushing has one scene as the vice-goon of a band of soldiers sent to arrest d’Artagnan.

    Watched on 10 May, 2021
  7. 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.

    Watched on 04 May, 2021
  8. 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.

    Watched on 03 May, 2021
  9. 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
  10. 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...

    Watched on 29 Apr, 2021


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