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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Smart Money (1931)

    Smart Money 1931

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Alfred E. Green. Starring Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Evalyn Knapp, and Ralf Harolde.

    Little Caesar lite. Robinson plays a small-time gambler (instead of a gangster) who claws his way atop the big city game, only for a woman to prove his undoing. Cagney plays his longtime friend and heavy. I liked the gambling scenes, and Robinson and Cagney’s chemistry, but the lower narrative stakes render this less resonant than the pair’s more iconic films. Boris Karloff makes a forgettable appearance as a pimp in an early dice game.

    Watched on 27 Jan, 2021
  2. A still from The Seventh Continent (1989)

    The Seventh Continent 1989

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Birgit Doll, Dieter Berner, Leni Tanzer, and Udo Samel.

    Michael Haneke’s devastating feature debut. Calm waters of menacing monotony surrender to a crushing tsunami of bleak emotion. As the third act unfolded, I struggled to watch. It’s not what Haneke shows, but what he doesn’t show. We fill the gaps with ourselves. The dread overwhelms. I went in cold, only aware that it concerned a middle-class couple. I suggest you do the same, although I’ve already said too much.

    Watched on 26 Jan, 2021
  3. A still from The Deadly Companions (1961)

    The Deadly Companions 1961

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Sam Peckinpah. Starring Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran, and Chill Wills.

    Sam Peckinpah’s feature debut. Brian Keith plays a former Union soldier escorting dance-hall singer Maureen O’Hara through Apache country. Peckinpah had neither script nor edit control, rendering this a mediocre work-for-hire effort. Not a good film, but passable thanks to Keith and the strong supporting cast.

    Watched on 25 Jan, 2021
  4. A still from Velvet Buzzsaw (2019)

    Velvet Buzzsaw 2019

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Dan Gilroy. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Zawe Ashton, and Tom Sturridge.

    The creatives behind Nightcrawler reunite for an anemic mix of satire and horror set in the contemporary art world. Jake Gyllenhaal plays an influential critic jockeying to exploit a batch of cursed artwork. Continue reading...

    Watched on 24 Jan, 2021
  5. A still from X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

    X-Men: The Last Stand 2006

    F: 1 star (out of 5)

    Directed by Brett Ratner. Starring Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, and Famke Janssen.

    Scientists discover a serum capable of transforming mutants into humans, prompting Magneto to gather a goth mutant army and lay siege to the scientists’ Alcatraz laboratory. Wolverine, Storm, and assorted other under-written X-Men stand in his way. Oh, and Jean Grey’s back as an unstoppable force capable of disintegrating any character with an unfavorable contract. Continue reading...

    Watched on 23 Jan, 2021
  6. A still from The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

    The Bird with the Crystal Plumage 1970

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Dario Argento. Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, and Eva Renzi.

    Dario Argento’s directorial debut. Tony Musante plays Sam, an American writer living in Rome. Walking the streets one night, he glances inside an art gallery and spies a black-clad assailant attacking a woman with a knife. Unable to gain entry, Sam watches the attacker escape as the woman lies bleeding on the floor. The police arrive in time to save the woman, but visions of the incident haunt Sam, driving him to investigate the attack. Soon, the killer’s targeting him and his live-in girlfriend, played by Suzy Kendall. Continue reading...

    Watched on 22 Jan, 2021
  7. A still from Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

    Hellbound: Hellraiser II 1988

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Tony Randel. Starring Doug Bradley, Ashley Laurence, Clare Higgins, and Kenneth Cranham.

    The big-bad dangles from an extradimensional entity’s unending tree-trunk-sized penis. And that’s not the film’s most bonkers aspect. Continue reading...

    Watched on 21 Jan, 2021
  8. A still from Starry Eyes (2014)

    Starry Eyes 2014

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kölsch. Starring Alex Essoe, Amanda Fuller, Noah Segan, and Fabianne Therese.

    Alex Essoe plays Sarah, an aspiring Hollywood starlet. She endures rejection after rejection until an unusual audition lands her a callback for a horror film from a mysterious production company. Continue reading...

    Watched on 20 Jan, 2021
  9. A still from Arizona (1931)

    Arizona 1931

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by George B. Seitz. Starring Laura La Plante, John Wayne, June Clyde, and Forrest Stanley.

    John Wayne’s fourth credited role. The film opens during the big Army-Navy football game. Wayne plays Army’s star senior quarterback, so beloved he’s not expected to end his sentences with “sir” when talking to the brass. He’s also a womanizer. After the game, with graduation and an assignment to Arizona looming. he jilts his longtime girl, played by Laura La Plante. Continue reading...

    Watched on 20 Jan, 2021
  10. A still from M (1931)

    M 1931

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, and Otto Wernicke.

    If I graded on technical merit alone, M would warrant five stars. Director Fritz Lang’s formal mastery belies his experience. This was his first sound picture, yet he’s already innovating, delivering possibly the first instance of cross-cutting dialogue in cinema. Continue reading...

    Watched on 19 Jan, 2021

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