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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Truth or Dare? (1986)

    Truth or Dare? 1986

    D+: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Tim Ritter and Yale Wilson. Starring John Brace, Mary Fanaro, Bruce Gold, and A.J. McLean.

    A man returns home to find his wife in bed with his friend. He snaps, embarking on a self-mutilation spree fueled by childhood memories of playing “Truth or Dare.” He’s committed to a local institution, but soon he’s free again, sporting a blank copper mask, stalking his ex-wife, and killing anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path. Shot-on-video but sporting a budget large enough to feature fire stunts, a catchy theme song, and solid practical effects. The result lands in the uncanny valley between talented amateur and apathetic professional. Not good, but entertaining, especially when you realize it’s set in Florida.

    Watched on 19 Aug, 2021
  2. A still from The Suicide Squad (2021)

    The Suicide Squad 2021

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by James Gunn. Starring Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, and Joel Kinnaman.

    Aims for Guardians of the Galaxy with Deadpool’s sense of humor. Lacks either film’s heart, but the profane antics elicited multiple belly laughs.

    Watched on 19 Aug, 2021
  3. A still from Phffft (1954)

    Phffft 1954

    C+: 3 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Mark Robson. Starring Judy Holliday, Jack Lemmon, Jack Carson, and Kim Novak.

    Jack Lemmon’s second feature re-teams him with Judy Holliday. They play a couple who divorce after eight years of marriage then can’t help crossing paths. It’s lighthearted and predictable, but fun. Seeing a mustachioed Lemmon dance the mambo with comedic gusto while Holliday matches him in vigor proved a highlight. Kim Novak plays a Monroesque ditzy blonde who takes a liking to Lemmon. Bonus points for the script treating Holliday’s position as a successful woman as matter-of-fact rather than an anomaly.

  4. A still from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)

    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
  5. A still from Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)

    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...

  6. A still from Texas Cyclone (1932)

    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.

  7. A still from The Seventh Seal (1957)

    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...

  8. A still from Five Elements Ninjas (1982)

    Five Elements Ninjas 1982

    B-: 4 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
  9. A still from Better Off Dead... (1985)

    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
  10. A still from 24 Hour Party People (2002)

    24 Hour Party People 2002

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Winterbottom. Starring Steve Coogan, Lennie James, John Thomson, and Paul Popplewell.

    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

Pagination

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