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Frank's Movie Log

My life at the movies.

  1. A still from Obsession (1976)

    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...

  2. A still from Business and Pleasure (1932)

    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.

  3. A still from Freaks (1932)

    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...

  4. A still from Race with the Devil (1975)

    Race with the Devil 1975

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Jack Starrett. Starring Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, and Lara Parker.

    Peter Fonda and Warren Oates play two buddies setting out from San Antonio with their wives in an RV. They’re headed for a much-needed ski vacation in Aspen. They pull off the highway to a secluded riverbed to camp. The bucolic central Texas landscape features as the guys ride their dirt bikes while the wives chat. Fonda and Oates display the familiarity, banter, and semi-sibling rivalry that speaks silent volumes to their character’s long-standing friendship. Then later that night, they chance upon a gathering across the ravine they shouldn’t have seen. Continue reading...

  5. A still from Possessor (2020)

    Possessor 2020

    B: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Brandon Cronenberg. Starring Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Rossif Sutherland.

    In an alternate 2008, a mysterious company performs contract killings by having their agents possess the bodies of unwilling third parties. Continue reading...

    Watched on 22 Jul, 2021
  6. A still from The Man Who Played God (1932)

    The Man Who Played God 1932

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John G. Adolfi. Starring George Arliss, Bette Davis, Violet Heming, and André Luguet.

    George Arliss plays a renowned concert pianist who loses his hearing, learns to read lips, and discovers renewed purpose by playing anonymous benefactor to strangers he sights in Central Park. The sixty-four-year-old Arliss doesn’t convince as a fifty-year-old. The thick foundation and dark lipstick combined with his long features conjured visions of the Joker. Bette Davis has a supporting role as an admirer of Arliss. She charms, and I appreciated the script’s giving her character relatable dignity, but the material didn’t engage. When one of Arliss’s beneficiaries started hacking the melodramatic cough of cancer, I laughed.

  7. A still from Code Unknown (2000)

    Code Unknown 2000

    B+: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Juliette Binoche, Thierry Neuvic, Josef Bierbichler, and Alexandre Hamidi.

    A fascinating entry from writer/director Michael Haneke. Like his prior film, 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, it follows several disparate characters united by a single incident. But while that film built toward its climax, Code Unknown opens with its converging incident then follows the rippling impacts through its character’s lives. Continue reading...

  8. A still from Troop Beverly Hills (1989)

    Troop Beverly Hills 1989

    D: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Jeff Kanew. Starring Shelley Long, Craig T. Nelson, Betty Thomas, and Mary Gross.

    Shelley Long plays a flakey Beverly Hills housewife who volunteers to lead a Girl Scout-like troop. Predictable hijinks ensue. The child actors don’t grate and I liked the Los Angeles locations and the Ted McGinley cameo. But the deleted throat-choke scene proved funnier than anything left in the film.

    Watched on 17 Jul, 2021
  9. A still from Scalpel (1977)

    Scalpel 1977

    B-: 4 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by John Grissmer. Starring Robert Lansing, Judith Chapman, Arlen Dean Snyder, and David Scarroll.

    Blood Rage director John Grissmer’s directorial debut. Robert Lansing plays a plastic surgeon who reconstructs a stripper’s face to pose as his runaway daughter. Continue reading...

    Watched on 16 Jul, 2021
  10. A still from Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)

    Murders in the Rue Morgue 1932

    D-: 2 stars (out of 5)

    Directed by Robert Florey. Starring Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames, and Bert Roach.

    Bela Lugosi plays a mad scientist injecting blood from his sideshow ape into abducted women. I appreciated the stylish cinematography and cooky mid-nineteenth-century Paris production design. But the talky script (with dialog punch-ups by John Huston!) and lame ape-suit effects proved too much. The scariest thing about this movie was Lugosi’s unibrow.

Pagination

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