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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle 2004

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Danny Leiner. Starring John Cho, Kal Penn, Ethan Embry, and Rob Tinkler.

    John Cho and Kal Penn play roommates who spend a Friday evening getting high, then set out on a quest for White Castle sliders. This unpretentious stoner-comedy has aged well, with its racially-tinged social satire still resonating. Cho and Penn have great chemistry and the parade of cameos all kill, including an unrecognizable Christopher Meloni as a disfigured tow-truck driver.

    Watched on
    14 Aug 2021
  2. Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan 1989

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Rob Hedden. Starring Jensen Daggett, Kane Hodder, Todd Caldecott, and Tiffany Paulsen.

    I remember when this premiered. I was too young to drive but old enough for my folks to drop me and my friends off at the theater. In a lesser summer, maybe I would have tried to sneak into a screening. But that was the summer of Batman. Besides, word spread fast that Jason didn’t end up in New York until the final twenty minutes. That they should have called it Jason Takes a Cruise. Continue reading...

    Watched on
    13 Aug 2021
  3. Texas Cyclone 1932

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by D. Ross Lederman. Starring Tim McCoy, Shirley Grey, Wheeler Oakman, John Wayne, and Wallace MacDonald.

    Tim McCoy plays Texas Grant, who arrives in the small frontier town of Stampede and finds the locals mistaking him for Jim Rawlings, a lawman believed killed five years prior. After finding Rawlings’s widow struggling to hold on to her ranch, Grant decides to pose as Rawlings and help drive a band of crooks out of town. John Wayne plays a ranch hand who throws in with Grant. Walter Brennan plays the local sheriff.

    McCoy’s fine, but Wayne proves the draw. He exudes charisma and towers over the rest of the cast, but his dialog delivery remains stiff. Still, it’s novel seeing Wayne play a supporting part in a better-produced version of the B-grade oaters he’d star in for the next seven years.

    Watched on
    11 Aug 2021
  4. The Seventh Seal 1957

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ingmar Bergman. Starring Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot, and Nils Poppe.

    The movie where the knight plays chess with Death. Time has rendered the once iconic imagery almost comical. Indeed, throughout much of the first act, I couldn’t shake an unintended sense of amusement as the production’s Gregorian chants, smoke-filled sets, and chain-mail costumes evoked Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But critics hold writer-director Ingmar Bergman’s film in high esteem for good reason. Starting with a scene in a tavern that begins innocent but turns dark at a rapid pace, the film gripped me. Continue reading...

    Watched on
    09 Aug 2021
  5. Five Elements Ninjas 1982

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Cheh Chang. Starring Tien-Chi Cheng, Tien-Hsiang Lung, Meng Lo, and Michael Wai-Man Chan.

    The Shaw Brothers do ninjas. Solid fight choreography early as two rival kung fu clans meet in a martial challenge. The losing clan calls in the mysterious five elements ninjas, a Japanese group that destroys the rival clan using a variety of inventive techniques. A lone warrior survives and seeks ninja training. He later returns and we’re treated to some bonkers fight scenes packed with over-the-top violence and liberal amounts of Hammeresque blood. An entertaining ride but the lower production values and flatter performances pale next to the superior Duel to the Death.

    Watched on
    08 Aug 2021
  6. Better Off Dead... 1985

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Savage Steve Holland. Starring John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers, Kim Darby, and Demian Slade.

    John Cusack plays a Northern California teenager who finds himself lost after his girlfriend dumps him for the captain of the ski team. Between half-hearted suicide attempts, he hatches a plan to win her back. He’ll ski the notorious K-12 slope. Continue reading...

    Watched on
    06 Aug 2021
  7. 24 Hour Party People 2002

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Winterbottom. Starring Steve Coogan, Lennie James, John Thomson, and Nigel Pivaro.

    24 Hour Party People isn’t a documentary. In chronicling the rise and fall of the legendary “Madchester” music scene it chooses legend over fact whenever possible. A badge it wears with pride. Continue reading...

    Watched on
    05 Aug 2021
  8. Obsession 1976

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Brian De Palma. Starring Cliff Robertson, Geneviève Bujold, John Lithgow, and Sylvia Kuumba Williams.

    Cliff Robertson plays a wealthy New Orleans land developer. As the film opens, he and partner John Lithgow have just closed a lucrative deal. We meet Robert’s wife and nine-year-old daughter who soon fall prey to kidnappers. Robertson double-crosses the kidnappers, leading to a car chase and his family’s death. Fast-forward fifteen years and Roberts, on a business trip to Italy, chances upon a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife. Continue reading...

    Watched on
    02 Aug 2021
  9. Business and Pleasure 1932

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by David Butler. Starring Will Rogers, Jetta Goudal, Joel McCrea, and Dorothy Peterson.

    Will Rogers plays a struggling razor blade manufacturer sailing with his family to the Mediterranean to close a deal to acquire Damascus steel. His boisterous manner offends an upper-crust playwright played by Joel McCrea. Onboard ship, Rogers becomes entangled with a vamp played by Jetta Goudal, while McCrea romances Rogers’s daughter.

    Rogers delivers every line as though it was a time-honored folksy saying. He’s got charm, but I liked how the opening paints him as loud and self-absorbed. Your enjoyment will hinge on how much of his shtick you can take. Boris Karloff has an uncredited part as an Arab sheik.

    Watched on
    01 Aug 2021
  10. Freaks 1932

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Tod Browning. Starring Wallace Ford, Leila Hyams, Olga Baclanova, and Roscoe Ates.

    Though shot with actual carnival performers, Freaks features no carnival performances. Instead, the film focuses on the self-contained world behind the scenes. We see performers celebrate a new baby, struggle through a bitter breakup, and find new romance. Director Todd Browning paints these characters as relatable, not idealized saints or sullen outcasts, just folks living their lives. We relate. Then Browning strikes. Continue reading...

    Watched on
    31 Jul 2021


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