Saturday, January 29, 2011

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln- 1930, starring  Walter Huston and Una Merkel
He says- Huston is excellent is this sincere but static biography of Lincoln; can't match Griffith's silent masterpieces.  2 and a half stars.

I say- wow, I was so excited today to watch a movie about Abraham Lincoln from 1930!  What better way could I spend this morning?  Oh wait, anything would have been better!  You know you're in for a treat when there's a disclaimer stating "this movie has been restored best it could, and is missing reels and sound in some spots.  Anyway, this movie jumped around A LOT.  Like he leaps from the death of his first sweetheart to all of a sudden becoming a respected politician.  In one scene, the makeup is so bad he looks like a transvestite.  1 star.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Above the Rim

Above the Rim- 1994, starring Tupac Shakur,  Duane Martin, Marlon Wayans, and Bernie Mac
He says-By the numbers tale of a promising high school basketball player and his conflicting relationships with two very different brothers; one a drug dealer and the other a troubled ex-scholastic hoop star employed as a high school security guard.  Despite insightful moments, film wallows in cliches and plot contrivances.  2 and  a half stars.

I say-  Wow, Tupac plays a gang member who has a gun.  Shocker.  And wow, people in the hood playing basketball in 1994?  Color me surprised.  Honestly, all characters fell into racial stereotypes, and although the basketball was shot nicely, the story was so convoluted that I couldn't get into it.  1 and a half stars.

Above the Law

One thing that I don't like about this book:  This book does not contain lesser known movies that are straight to dvd.  Where is Abominable?  Abominable, by the way, is the movie Rear Window with a sasquatch.  So there are some flaws.  Maybe in 2029, when I finish this book, it will be updated with REAL movies.  So anyway, we now have to pass on Above and Beyond and Above Suspicion because Netflix shockingly doesn't have them.

Above the Law-1988, starring Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, and Sharon Stone

He says-  Chicago cop doesn't hesitate to use his martial arts skills as he battles police corruption and drug dealing.  Seagal's film debut reveals the real -life Aikido master to be more of the Chucknorrisian than of the Stanislavskian school of acting.  Seagal also cowrote and coproduced; slick but stupid actioner.  2 stars.

I say- I loathe this movie.  Not for the fact that the movie is bad, which it is, and not for the lack of a plot, which there is none, but because it simply had introduced the world to Steven Seagal.   Steven Seagal is a fantastic actor with all of the range of a piece of wood.  He has won and been nominated for many acting awards, all in the Razzies.  He's not even likable, and I don't understand how in this movie he has a love interest.  The action sucks, and he thinks he's Asian and Native American, which to my knowledge, he is neither.  The only good thing he has done was introduce the Lightning energy drink.  1 star.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

About Schmidt

This was an interesting one, because Jack Nicholson is trying to get to Denver (where I live) to get to a wedding (I'm getting married in May).  Also, this is my 22nd review.  As such, I've decided that this will be my last 22 word review.  I need more space to write, so while it seemed like a good idea at a time, I can't have constraints.  So here goes.

About Schmidt-2002, starring Jack Nichoson and Kathy Bates. 

Leonard says:  Superb human comedy about a newly retired insurance actuary in Nebraska who begins- for the first time- to question the choices he has made in life.  Subtle, deliberately paced, and splendidly acted, with as many sad moments as funny ones.  Nichoson's magnificently quiet, true performance may be the best of his career.  Enhanced by Rolfe Kent's perfectly nuanced score.  Payne and Jim Taylor (loosely) adapted Louis Begley's novel.  3 and a half stars.

I say--Great performance from Jack, but you have to deal with a naked Kathy Bates, which is not a good thing.  Very emotional.  3 stars.

Monday, January 24, 2011

About Mrs. Leslie

About Mrs. Leslie-1954, starring Shirley Booth and Robert Ryan
Maltin says:    Flashbacks reveal romance between chanteuse and mysterious, lonely magnate.  Well acted soaper, forgivable illogical coupling of stars. 3 stars.

I say- Predictable, but entertaining.  Even though the movie is over 50 years old, it does not seem dated.  Several scenes seemed pointless however.  2 stars.

About Last Night...

About Last Night...1986, starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, Jim Belushi, and that blond chick from Weeds.

He says- True to life look at problems faced by a young couple fleeing the singles scene, biggest problem being his inability to make genuine emotional commitment to her.  True to life doesn't make it terribly interesting, however.  Expanded (and diluted) from David Mamet's one act play Sexual Perversity in Chicago.  Coscenarist Tim Kazurinsky appears briefly.  2 stars.

I say- Demi Moore has really weird boobs.  Lots of fighting makes this really uncomfortable to watch.  Well acted, but felt like peeping tom.  2 stars.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

About Adam

About Adam-2001 British/U.S./Irish starring Kate Hudson, Frances O'Connor, and Stuart Townsend. 

He says:  Cute romantic comedy about a duplicitous charmer who woos all three sisters of an eccentric, close knit Dublin family.  Slight but charming fare has a refreshingly hedonistic attitude but never really convinces us why these robust Eves are so smitten by such a cipher of a man.  Good showcase for its trio of leading ladies.
2 and a half stars

I say--I almost turned this off.  The accents are incredibly thick, and I did not like any characters.  Not my cup of tea.  BOMB

Friday, January 21, 2011

About a Boy

So we have to pass on The Abominable Dr. Phibes and we move onto:

About a Boy-2002, starring Hugh Grant and Tobi Collete
He says-Self-absorbed bachelor Grant, who happily lives a hedonistic existence, comes into the life of an isolated, misfit 12-year old boy whose mom is chronically depressed.  Out of this unlikely situation a friendship slowly develops in which the boy and the man fill the voids in each other's lives.  Bright, unpredictable, and refreshingly humanistic comedy-drama doesn't hew to any formula and though it skirts credibility at times it comes up a winner.  Based on the novel by Nick Hornby, coscripted by the directors.  3 stars.

I say-  The kid is what threw me off of this movie.  Hugh Grant was great, but the kid made the movie incredibly awkward.  2 stars.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


So we're now officially out of Abbott and Costello hell, except for the few movies they did without the "Abbot and Costello" prefix.  So anyway, we continue onward!  Netflix, again does not have some movies, so we have to unfortunately pass on Abby, the Abdication, and Abe Lincoln in Illinois. 

Aberdeen-2000 Norweigan/British, starring Stellan Skarsgard and Lena Heady
He says- Raw, extremely well acted road movies in which two addictive personalities -- a fast and loose living coke head and her alcoholic wreck of a father, from whom she has been long estranged--endure each other's company as she escorts him from Norway to Scotland.  Sometimes tough to watch, as the characters wallow in their dysfunction, but they are vividly etched and their multilayered relationship is wholly believable.  3 stars

I say--Felt incestuous at times, lots of nudity (but not good nudity), and a slow pace makes this movie unbearable.  Pass on it.  1 star.

Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy

Well, Netflix doesn't have "meet the invisible man" so we move onto the last of the A&C movies.  I have to say, they're a tremendous waste of time.

Abbott and Costello meet the Mummy- 1955, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello
He says-Amusing adventure with A&C mixed up with villainess Windsor, a valuable tomb, and a mummy that's still alive.  2 and a half stars.

I say- I may have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been watching a million A&C movies in a row.  Glad these are over.  1 and a half stars.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein- 1948, starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Lon Chaney Jr., and Bela Lugosi
Leonard says- Dracula plans to put Lou's brain in Frankenstein's monster; werewolf Larry Talbot has his paws full convincing the boys they're in danger.  All-time great horror-comedy still works beautifully, mainly because the monsters play it straight.  Yes, that is Vincent Price's voice at the end.  3 and a half stars.

I say- the best of the Abbott and Costello movies.  Works well, but still is rather dated.  Bela Lugosi  still remains the true Dracula. 3 stars.

Abbott and Costello meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-1953, starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Boris Karloff
Maltin says-  Disappointing attempt to mix A&C with Jekyll and Hyde with too few funny scenes.  Special effects are film's main asset.  2 stars.

I say- God this one was terribly unfunny.  It drags on and on without much happening.  Least favorite of the Abbott and Costello movies. BOMB

Abbott and Costello Meet the Keystone Kops

So I won't be able to watch them as they meet Captain Kidd (thank you Netflix) so here's some more of their adventures!

Abbott and Costello meet the Keystone Kops-1955, starring Fred Clark, Bud Abbott, and Lou Costello

He says- Low budget comedy could have been better.  Clark is fine as conniving producer in this synthetic period piece of silent slapstick movie days.  2 stars.

I say-  It's watchable.  There's an unfunny moment near the end  revolving around cops entering the building multiple times.  Airplane scene was good though. 2 stars

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Food of the Gods

The Food of the Gods- 1976- starring Marjoe Gortner and Pamela Franklin

He says-  Dreadful adaptation of H.G. Wells' novel.  Strange substance causes giant growth in wasps, worms, chickens, and rats.  Not for the squeamish.  Similar to Village of the Giants, filmed by Gordon 11 years earlier.  BOMB

I say-  It has some relatively interesting moments.  The biggest problem is that there are only 4 giant creatures, variety would have been nice.  2 stars

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion

Abbott and Costello in the Foreign Legion-- 1950, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Maltin says-Unexceptional vehicle pitting A&C against nasty sergeant Slezak.  Best scene involves mirages in the desert.  2 stars.

I say- One of their worst yet.  Just a bunch of cheap foreign jokes.  I can't wait until I finish these movies.  Need variety.  1 star.

Abbott and Costello meet the Killer, Boris Karloff

Abbot and Costello meet the Killer, Boris Karloff-1949, starring Bud Abbot, Lou Costello, and Boris Karloff

He says-  Pleasant blend of comedy and whodunit with bodies hanging in closets perplexing hotel dick Abbott, and phony mystic Karloff trying to do away with klutzy Costello.  2 and a half stars.

I say-  Karloff is only in for 5 minutes!  It was funny in places, but seriously, don't title a movie based on a cameo.  2 stars.

Quest for Camelot

Another out of order one:

Quest for Camelot-1998, voices of Steve Urkel, Cary Elwes, Gary Oldman, Eric Idle, Jane Seymour, Don Rickles, Celine Dion, Steve Perry, and Bronson Pinchot.

Maltin says-  Pretty good Disney-derivative cartoon, about the plucky daughter of a slain knight who wants to follow in her father's footsteps--and does just that when King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, is stolen.  Too dark and violent for very young kids, but agreeable enough.  Familiar story path, with romance, songs, and comic relief.  2 and a half stars.

I say--Liked it better when it was called Mulan.  Same story with cheaper animation.  The singing voices sound nothing like their speaking voices.  1 and a half stars.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh, God!

Oh, God-1977- starring George Burns, John Denver, Terri Garr, Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World

Maltin says- God appears in person of Burns to summon Denver as His messenger, to tell the world that He's alive and well.  Film eschews cheap jokes to build a credible story with warm performances and upbeat message.  Followed by a pair of sequels.  3 stars.

I say-  Holy 1970's Batman!  Very sweet, sentimental movie with George Burns at his very best.  Although I always thought Morgan Freeman was God.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Let the right one in

Another out of order one.

Let The Right One In-2008 (Swedish) starring Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar.

Maltin says- Unique gothic horror tale set against the snowy backdrop of a suburban town outside of Stolkholm.  There, a lonely 12 year old boy who's bullied at school finds an unlikely soul mate in a strange girl who lives in the apartment next door-- and turns out to be a vampire.  Unusual melding of horror and adolescent angst in an utterly ordinary setting; adapted by John Ajvide Lindvist from his novel.  Artfully staged and photographed in widescreen, this doles out its moments of shock in leisurely fashion--which magnifies their impact when they occur.  3 and a half stars.

I say-  Very sweet scenes between the kids sets this apart from every other vampire movie.  They talk like the Swedish Chef from Muppets.  3 stars.

The Apple

So some movies show up in my Netflix instant queue that aren't in order of the book.  However, because this is such a daunting task, I'm going to break order once in a while so I can speed through this in less than 50 years!

The Apple-1980, starring Catherine Mary Stewart and Allan Love.

Leonard says- Futuristic musical  set in 1994, when a young couple's entry in songwriting contest in sabotaged by devilish Mr. Boogalow.  As bad as it sounds---maybe worse---but now celebrated for it's awfulness.  BOMB

I say--Maltin is wrong.  This movie is awesome!  Really campy and great music as well.  Unintentionally funny, and hysterically serious.  Our first disagreement.  3 stars.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Abbott and Costello go to Mars

Abbott and Costello go to Mars-1953, starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

Maltin says-Unimaginative vehicle has Bud and Lou sailing through space with escaped gangsters, landing on Venus, a planet populated by scantily clad women.  Look quickly for Anita Ekberg.  One and a half stars.

I say-  They don't even go to Mars!!!!  How can you title a movie "goes to Mars," without going to Mars? Unfunny paycheck movie.  1 star.

Lost in Alaska

Well, 2 movies came on this disc, so figured might as well break order just so I can get this one out of the way.

Lost in Alaska-1952, starring Bud Abbot and Lou Costello

Maltin says- Unremarkable slapstick set in 1890s, with A&C off to the wilds to help a friend but doing more hindering.  One and a half stars.

I say- Terrible. A&C seem like they they don't even want to be in the movie.  Painfully unfunny.  They're better than this.  This sucks.  BOMB

Abbott and Costello in Hollywood

So we move our way past Abandon Ship because it doesn't exist yet on Netflix, and.......CRAP.  Here's at least 10 Abbott and Costello movies in a row.  I didn't really think that I'd be hitting massive series' like this, but here we go.

Abbot and Costello in Hollywood-1945, starring Bud Abbot and Lou Costello, appearance by Lucille Ball

Maltin says-  Uneven comedy with A&C as barber and porter in Tinseltown.  A few peeks behind the scenes with Rags Ragland, Lucille Ball, Preston Foster, Butch Jenkins, and director Robert Z. Leonard. 

I say- Funny spots with out of place musical numbers makes this a really odd movie.  Some gags work well in a predictable way.  2 stars.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Abandoned (2007)

So Netflix does not have the 1949 movie "The Abandoned", so we move on to this gem of a picture.

The Abandoned-2007, Anastasia Hille

Maltin says-American adoptee gets trapped in an endless labyrinth of horror when, after receiving a mysterious invitation, she returns to Russia to learn more about her roots.  In her dank, oppressively creepy childhood home, she must confront various evil forces, a murderous clone, and the disturbing secrets of her past.  Anybody looking for a coherent narrative will find this throwback to Euro-horror films of the '70s maddening.  Fails to build fear and tension, but Cerda fills the screen with enough gorgeous, chilling imagery to satisfy fans of nonlinear horror fare.  2 and a half stars.

I say- I predicted the whole movie within 30 minutes.  Good gore scenes save this from being a disaster.  In Russia, you haunt ghosts!  2 stars.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Hey look how quick I'm flying through this!  Already through the aa section, and I only had to go through one step.

Abandon-2002, Katie Homes, Benjamin Bratt

Maltin says-Police detective with a checkered past is assigned to investigate the disappearance of a college boy but finds himself attracted to the missing student's girlfriend. Murky whodunit with paranormal ingredients that, annoyingly, don't pay off.  Directing debut for the Oscar winning screenwriter of Traffic. 2 stars

I say-What a mess this film is.  Dull, lifeless movie with Mrs. Scientology.  Maltin sums it up perfectly. Wish I didn't finish it.  One star

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick

Ok, here we go! So the first movie in the book is...."Aaron Loves Angela." *Checks Netflix* Apparently this movie doesn't exist on dvd or streaming yet, so I'll come back to that when it comes out. Not going to download the torrent and possibly catch a virus.

Aaron Slick from Punkin Crick-1952, color
Starring Dinah Shore, Alan Young, and Robert Merrill

Leonard says "Innocuous musical with unmemorable score." 2 stars.

I say:
Dated musical about a farm girl who wants to go to the big city but gets mixed up in crime. Very milquetoast.   1 star.