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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from The Criminal Code (1930)

    The Criminal Code 1930

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring Walter Huston, Phillips Holmes, Constance Cummings, and Boris Karloff.

    Howard Hawks’s second sound picture. A competent prison-reform drama that nevertheless feels like a work-for-hire job. Walter Huston’s electric as a former district attorney turned prison warden, and Boris Karloff maximizes his role as a grudge-bearing convict. But Phillips Holmes doesn’t register as the hard-luck protagonist. Ditto Constance Cummings as his love interest.

    Watched on 18 Nov, 2020
  2. A still from Avengers: Endgame (2019)

    Avengers: Endgame 2019

    A: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Hemsworth.

    A satisfying conclusion to 11-years of Marvel films. The “time heist” plot proves secondary to a series of images and moments recreating the pre-adolescent awe I experienced reading the source comics. Not as resonant as Infinity War, but just as entertaining.

    Watched on 14 Nov, 2020
  3. A still from Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

    Friday the 13th Part 2 1981

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Steve Miner. Starring Betsy Palmer, Amy Steel, John Furey, and Adrienne King.

    Still no hockey mask, but we have Jason (sporting a burlap sack over his face) stalking a group of camp counselors.

    This entry has grown on me. I originally preferred the first film’s dingy atmosphere and documentary style, but I’ve come around to this sequel’s superior execution. The supporting cast proves more memorable, and the script provides the final-girl with real agency.

    Watched on 13 Nov, 2020
  4. A still from Friday the 13th (1980)

    Friday the 13th 1980

    C-: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Sean S. Cunningham. Starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, and Robbi Morgan.

    There’s no hockey mask and no Jason. Yes, an unknown killer picks off young people working to re-open a New Jersey summer camp, but the plot hews closer to a giallo than a modern slasher. Continue reading...

    Watched on 13 Nov, 2020
  5. A still from The Camp on Blood Island (1958)

    The Camp on Blood Island 1958

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Val Guest. Starring André Morell, Carl Möhner, Walter Fitzgerald, and Edward Underdown.

    André Morell plays a stiff sergeant leading a group of POWs in a Japanese prison camp ruled by cartoonishly sadistic jailers. There’s a great twist that pits Morell against a ticking clock and propels the film along. This isn’t high drama ala The Bridge on the River Kwai, just well-executed exploitation that delivers the goods thanks to a commanding turn by Morell and director Val Guest’s formal economy.

    Watched on 10 Nov, 2020
  6. A still from L'Age d'Or (1930)

    L'Age d'Or 1930

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Luis Buñuel. Starring Gaston Modot, Lya Lys, Caridad de Laberdesque, and Max Ernst.

    How does one review this movie? A surrealist tale presented as a series of vignettes, the film offers no story. The lone through-line concerns two lovers struggling to consummate their relationship. Continue reading...

    Watched on 09 Nov, 2020
  7. A still from Captain Marvel (2019)

    Captain Marvel 2019

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn, and Jude Law.

    Brie Larson deserves better. She’s a rare performer whose innate charisma can smooth over a film’s rough edges. Captain Marvel has many. Consider the film’s first quarter. An exposition-laden opening meanders to a surprisingly cheap-looking set piece on an alien world. The script proffers a mystery around Larson’s character’s identity, but it doesn’t engage. Larson does. Continue reading...

    Watched on 08 Nov, 2020
  8. A still from Up the River (1930)

    Up the River 1930

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Ford. Starring Spencer Tracy, Claire Luce, Warren Hymer, and Humphrey Bogart.

    Debut feature for both Spencer Tracy and Humphrey Bogart. Tracy plays the beloved ace pitcher for a prison baseball team. He’s the sort of inmate who, after returning to prison following a failed escape, assures the warden he’ll give notice before his next attempt. Continue reading...

    Watched on 06 Nov, 2020
  9. A still from Quatermass 2 (1957)

    Quatermass 2 1957

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Val Guest. Starring Brian Donlevy, John Longden, Sidney James, and Bryan Forbes.

    Disappointing sequel to The Quatermass Xperiment sees Brian Donlevy returning in the titular role, but the character has changed. A bulldog in the first film, this script affords Quatermass little agency. Continue reading...

    Watched on 05 Nov, 2020
  10. A still from Hellraiser (1987)

    Hellraiser 1987

    A: 5 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Clive Barker. Starring Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence, and Sean Chapman.

    Clive Barker’s debut feature. Frustrated with her effete husband and sedate lifestyle, a woman schemes to aide a former lover on the run from sadomasochistic creatures from another dimension summoned by a magical puzzle box. As one such creature says, “We have such sights to show you!” Continue reading...

    Watched on 04 Nov, 2020


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