Tobe Hooper’s debut feature. An interesting but flawed combination of cinéma vérité and near surrealism. The nonsense story concerns two hippy couples living in a secluded commune house. Unbeknownst to them, the basement houses a mysterious entity. A cavalcade of visually arresting shots and sequences interrupted by stretches of pretentious dialogue and navel-gazing, it announces Hooper as a visual craftsman capable of marrying realistic and formal extremes.
Billy Wilder’s directorial debut. Pierre Mingand plays a spendthrift Parisian socialite cut off by his father. Angry and desperate, he falls in with a loveable gang of car thieves, crosses their cutthroat boss, and falls for the group’s decoy, played by Danielle Darrieux. Wilder made the film in France en route to Hollywood after fleeing Germany. While not as polished as his later efforts, it’s well-produced with engaging car chases and night-shots superior to most Hollywood fare.
A convoluted time-travel story that crumbles under the slightest introspection. But I’m hard pressed to care given it retcons Last Stand from existence. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender wring out what little gravitas the material offers.
Abel Ferrara’s debut feature. Despite the lurid title and graphic conclusion, The Driller Killer plays more like a character study than exploitation. Your mileage may vary, but I was onboard for this chronicle of a struggling artist’s descent into madness. Continue reading...
Not about a lawyer. Richard Dix plays an intelligence officer returned home from the war to his playboy lifestyle. But unbeknownst to all, he’s adopted the secret vigilante persona of “The Reckoner.“ Along with his able assistants Doc and The Professor (played by Boris Karloff in the biggest part thus far in his career), The Reckoner works to expose a cabal of corrupt businessmen. The meager budget precludes any big action scenes or stunt sequences, but I love these sort of pulp vigilante stories. Even if—like this one—they’re quite nonsensical.
Slice-of-life drama follows Eva Henning and Birger Malmsten as a young couple trapped in a dysfunctional marriage traveling by train home from Italy. Both convince in their roles, but I couldn’t summon any empathy for their characters. Henning in particular irritated me—a credit to her performance. The film also digresses—via flashbacks and cut-aways—to the couples’ former lovers, who prove just as unengaging. The claustrophobic photography contributes to the sense of entrapment. An accomplished telling of a grating story.
Flawed sequel abandons the first film’s giallo trappings in favor of a Back to the Future Part II style sci-fi comedy. But director Christopher Landon’s script explains too much, then trips over its own rules. Continue reading...
The Killer Nun is trash, but not total trash, and that’s a shame. Continue reading...
Full disclaimer: I haven’t seen the series’ prior two films. Still, I had no trouble picking up the story. The engaging cast almost compensates for the telegraphed plot and overlong runtime.
Set after X-Men: The Last Stand, a bulked-up Wolverine travels to Japan and encounters a shadowy plot involving a dying industrialist. Three movies in one. The best: an engaging story where the titular character confronts his seeming immortality. Less interesting: comic-book antics involving ninjas and giant samurai armor. Shoe-horned-in: ties to the disappointing prior film. Terrific location photography.