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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

    The Curse of Frankenstein 1957

    A: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, and Christopher Lee.

    For Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee’s first film for Hammer, a guest review from the good Baron himself: Continue reading...

  2. A still from Hatchet (2006)

    Hatchet 2006

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Adam Green. Starring Kane Hodder, Joel David Moore, Deon Richmond, and Amara Zaragoza.

    Takes the ’80s slasher formula, adds a liberal dose of humor, and executes with a talented cast and a boatload of heart. Sure, subbing arid southern California for a Louisiana swamp drains the budget and constrains the shot selection, but the practical effects are top-notch, inventive, and gruesome.

    Enjoyed it enough to buy the Blu-Ray for the bonus features (which don’t disappoint).

  3. A still from For the Defense (1930)

    For the Defense 1930

    C: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Cromwell. Starring William Powell, Kay Francis, Scott Kolk, William B. Davidson, Thomas E. Jackson, and Harry Walker.

    Powell plays Bill Foster, a slick defense lawyer so well-respected in the underworld that when his car’s stolen, the crooks return it after getting a look at the registration. Continue reading...

  4. A still from The Dawn Patrol (1930)

    The Dawn Patrol 1930

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Neil Hamilton, and Frank McHugh.

    Howard Hawks’s first sound picture. Barthelmess plays a cynical World War I pilot at odds with commanding officer Hamilton. When orders send Hamilton to a different outfit, Barthelmess assumes Hamilton’s position and struggles under the burden of command.

    Hawks bursts into the sound era with terrific (for the time) dialogue, dynamic aerial photography (love the POV bomb shots), and the burgeoning Hawksian theme of men enduring grim fates as a duty. Remade eight years later with Errol Flynn in Barthelmess’s role.

  5. A still from Men Without Women (1930)

    Men Without Women 1930

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Ford. Starring Kenneth MacKenna, Frank Albertson, J. Farrell MacDonald, and Warren Hymer.

    Perhaps the first of Ford’s early sound pictures that rated his full attention. After an accidental collision, an American submarine drifts toward the ocean floor. MacKenna plays a disgraced British officer serving under an assumed name on the sinking sub. When the sub’s commander succumbs to stress, MacKenna assumes command and reveals his true identity. The lighthearted opening belies the transition to taunt drama. Though the surviving prints are a mix of dialogue and title cards, Ford’s confident execution shines through. John Wayne appears as a radio operator on the surface.

  6. A still from Born Reckless (1930)

    Born Reckless 1930

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Ford. Starring Edmund Lowe, Catherine Dale Owen, William Harrigan, and Marguerite Churchill.

    A botched jewel robbery lands gangster Lowe in court. Up for re-election, the judge seizes the publicity opportunity and sentences Lowe to fight in World War I. In France, he plays baseball, sees some action, and returns a war hero. Back in New York, Lowe opens a nightclub, falls for socialite Owen, and crosses his former gang. The mix of comedy, wartime drama, and gangster film never gels, but Ford’s formal execution—love the final shootout—makes it passable. Look fast for Ward Bond as a drill sergeant.

  7. A still from Trolls 2: World Tour (2020)

    Trolls 2: World Tour 2020

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Walt Dohrn and David P. Smith. Starring Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, and James Corden.

    A great voice-cast and some Dr. Seuss-inspired production design wasted in service of a reductive story about cultural appropriation that ends in a sing-along.

    Watched on 07 Sep, 2020
  8. A still from Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

    Spider-Man: Homecoming 2017

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Jon Watts. Starring Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., and Marisa Tomei.

    Better than I expected thanks to Keaton’s MVP performance and the script’s reducing the origin story to a single sentence.

    Watched on 05 Sep, 2020
  9. A still from Hereditary (2018)

    Hereditary 2018

    A-: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ari Aster. Starring Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, and Alex Wolff.

    Right in my nihilistic, trap-movie-loving wheelhouse. So deft and surprising. More than once, I’d bemoan a plot point as weak writing, only to have it twist, circle back, and punch me in the gut. I bought everything Toni Collette’s all-in performance was selling. And I loved the ending.

    Watched on 04 Sep, 2020
  10. A still from The Big Trail (1930)

    The Big Trail 1930

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Louis R. Loeffler and Raoul Walsh. Starring John Wayne, Marguerite Churchill, El Brendel, and Tully Marshall.

    John Wayne’s first starring role. He’s good but raw—on par with the poverty-row oaters he’d headline for the next nine years. Here he plays a trapper leading a wagon train up the Oregon Trail. The script includes the requisite character drama and romantic interest. Disregard them. The production itself proves the real star. Continue reading...


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