Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Across the Tracks

Across the Tracks-1991, starring Rick Schroeder and Brad Pitt
Maltin says- Reasonably compelling teen sports drama with Schroeder returning from reform school stint to compete on high school track team and outperforming straight-A track star brother (Pitt).  Realistic portrayal of teen problems and aspirations make this best suited for young people, although the R rating (for normal raunchy high school language) may make this film inaccessible to its key audience.  2 and a half stars.

I say- This has to be the most unintentionally hysterical movie ever.  First off, this movie does not deal with realistic high school problems.  The drug dealer looks like Stifler from American Pie.  The dialogue is absurd, Brad Pitt is billed second, and the clothes are horrendous.  Random windsurfers enter shots.  Lines such as "Let's do it to it," and "stomp out that fire," are said in COMPLETE seriousness.  Watch this drunk, as it's the worst movie ever made and the best movie ever made.  3 and a half stars.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Alphabet Killer

The Alphabet Killer-2008, starring Eliza Dushku, Cary Elwes, Timothy Hutton, and Michael Ironside

He says- A young girl is raped and strangled, and Rochester, N.Y., police detective Dushku, who has all sorts of psychological issues, becomes obsessed with solving the case.  By-the-letters thriller poses one burning question: Who let this woman on the police force?  Loosely based on a series of murders that took place in Rochester in the 1970s.  Scripted by Malloy, who plays officer Stephen Harper.  2 stars.

I say- I thought the same thing that Maltin thought!  Eliza is constantly hallucinating, which would make me, if I was police chief, let her go immediately!  Dear God!  Man, this thing looks like it was shot on a cheap camera and Cary Elwes belongs in better movies.  A half of a star.

Acros the Pacific

Across the Pacific-1942, starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet

Malty says-Three Maltese Falcon leads reteamed for enjoyable WW2 adventure.  Bogart trails spies to Panama, has running battle of wits with Greenstreet, white romancing enticing Astor.  Despite title, the movie never gets to the pacific, much less across it.  Also shown in computer-colored version.  2 and a half stars.

I say- Who wants to watch a racist movie???  The comments made toward the Japanese really show the age of this movie.  Anyway, I was bored with this one.  I've yet to see the Maltese Falcon, but I have heard of it.  I feel that maybe they were trying to strike gold twice and the producers (and actors) failed miserably.  BOMB

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


After.Life-2010, starring Liam Neeson, Christina Ricci, Christina Ricci's breasts, and Justin Long
Maltin says- In this dreary psychological horror tale, a young woman seems to be hovering between life and death as she carries on conversations with a sinister undertaker who may have other plans for her.  Or not.  What Neeson is doing in this low-rent mumbo jumbo is a bigger mystery than anything in the script.  Nothing here makes any sense, with a premise that wouldn't hold up as a half-hour Twilight Zone episode, much less an overlong, indulgent feature film that's as pretentious as its.title.  One and a half stars.

I say- I actually was entertained by this one.  Liam Neeson did creepy really well.  And Christina Ricci  is naked for most of the movie, so I'm sure somebody out there would be happy with that.  The movie has you guessing until the end, and then even a little after.  I recommend this as a late night rental if you're in the mood for something different.  2 and a half stars.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Haunting in Connecticut

The Haunting in Connecticut-2009, starring Virginia Madsen and Amanda Crew

He says-  Creaky horror picture show, purportedly based on fact, about a family that learns the hard way why they got such a great deal on a rental property with "a bit of history."  Long on spooky atmosphere, short on drama.  There's nothing here you haven't seen done better, and scarier, in other haunted house dramas.  1 and a half stars.

I say- Did this really need to be made?  Apparently it was based on a Discovery Channel special.  They then decided to add effects, add professional actors, and make it seem as though this was entirely true.  That said, I have not seen the Discovery Channel special on this house.  I felt that I had seen this movie a million times, and that the number one scare tactic in this movie was the use of loud trumpets.  BOMB

Across the Bridge

Across the Bridge-1957 British, starring Rod Steiger

He says-Smug German business magnate flees his home base in England when Scotland Yard investigates his corrupt dealings.  His only hope is to get to Mexico through the U.S., but en route he switches identities with a fellow train passenger.  Engrossing yarn based on a Graham Greene novella.  Shot mostly in Spain.  Later remade as Double Take.  3 stars.

I say-  Meh.  Rod Steiger was good, and the pacing was nice, but I wasn't really intrigued by the movie as a whole.  Might not be a bad insomnia cure.  1 star.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

Just waiting for the next one to come in...

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams-1990, a bunch of Japanese actors and a little bit of Martin Scorsese.

He says- Eight vignettes- increasingly apocalyptic--as "dreamt" by an 80-year-old widely regarded as the greatest living filmmaker of the era.  Results vary in quality, though any three viewers are likely to rate the episodes in a widely shuffled order.  At least one-mountain climbers caught in an all-consuming blizzard- is vintage "K."  Scorsese portrays Van Gogh in one segment.  (Do you detect any Burt Lancaster in his speech patterns?)  3 stars.

I say- Stunningly visual film to look at, extremely boring plot.  Not really so much of a plot, but more of a collection of short stories talking about humanity's relationship with the environment.  If you're in the mood to look at a living painting, watch this one, however, if you want a movie, look elsewhere.  2 stars.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Date with an Angel

Going back to a random movie:

Date With an Angel-1987, starring Michael E. Knight, Emmanuelle Beart, and Phoebe Cates

He says- Aspiring musician Knight, about to be swallowed up by marriage and his future father-in-law's firm, finds salvation with the broken-winged angel who crashes into his pool on the night of his bachelor party.  Unbearable comic fantasy despite Beart's appropriately ethereal beauty.  BOMB

I say- Jesus.  Who says soap opera actors shouldn't do feature films?  Oh wait, this movie does.  Tad from All My Children is constantly using soap opera acting throughout the whole movie, with awkward pauses and overly dramatic scenes.  And the angel....not attractive at all.  Did not understand, she was incredibly annoying.  BOMB.

Across 110th Street

Across 110th Street-1972, starring Anthony Quinn and Anthony Franciosa

Malty says-N.Y.C. police race the mobs to catch three blacks who, disguised as cops, stole $300,000 from a Mafia-controlled bank; mutual distrust of both black and Italian hoods is mirrored by differences between cops Quinn and Kotto.  Exciting, well paced, and extremely violent, with fine use of Harlem locations.  Quinn was also executive producer.  3 stars.

I say: At least the theme song rocked.  Albeit, having never seen this movie prior, I immediately thought of Jackie Brown.  So the action was good, but once again, this movie feels recycled, and mainly because at the time, it was probably an original idea but since we're now 40 years later, I've seen it before.  one star.

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls

Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls-1995, starring Jim Carrey and Tommy Davidson
He says: Sloppy assemblage of gags (with most of the good ones near the beginning) ostensibly about Ace's anti-p.c. hijinks with battling African tribes while trying to locate a rare white bat.  Clever opening spoof of Cliffhanger and a funny sight gag involving asparagus; otherwise, more of the same.  2 stars.

I say: I'm really conflicted by this one.  I preferred this one to the original when I was younger, but watching it again, I have to say the first is better.  The gags are much funnier in this one, however, the plot is really basic, and the mystery is very quickly solved for the viewer.  Ace also seems much more amplified in this one, but it's still enjoyable.  2 and a half stars.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Night of the Grizzly

Bored today!

Night of the Grizzly- Starring Clint Walker and a bear.
He says-Acceptable Western of rancher Walker overcoming all obstacles, even a persistent, vicious bear, to Western life.  2 and a half stars.

I say-Well, this is Maltin's shortest review yet.  Pretty boring for a movie called Night of the Grizzly.  In fact, very little actual grizzly excitement.  More like, "night and day of the slow moving boring rancher."  If you want a good grizzly attack movie, simply watch Grizzly Rage.  BOMB


Another random one:

Gor: 1988, starring Oliver Reed, Arnold Vosloo, and a little bit of Jack Palance

Leonard Maltin says- Ordinary sword-and-sorcery adventure in which meek American professor is magically whisked off to "counter-Earth" Gor, where he becomes a hero and battles chuckling, tyranical Reed.  Based on the first in "John Norman's" series of Edgar Rice Burroughs-inspired adventure fantasies.  Palance's role is just a cameo setting up the sequel, Outlaw of Gor.  1 and a half stars.

I say- Quite possibly the worst fantasy movie I've ever seen.  And I've seen "The Barbarians," which I'm pretty sure isn't available on dvd yet.  The acting sucks, the "effects" are not effective, and I can't believe this spawned a sequel.  BOMB

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective-1994, starring Jim Carrey,  Courtney Cox, and Tone Loc.
He says-  Miami-based "pet detective" is hired to find the kidnapped mascot of the Dolphins football team.  No-brainer comedy/whodunit was the breakout role for Carrey, who mugs nonstop (and we mean nonstop).  Some good gags, but runs out of steam--which Carrey never does.  Real-life members of the Miami Dolphins appear.  A minute of new footage added for video.  Followed by a sequel, an animated TV series, and a dvd sequel.  2 stars.

I say-  I haven't seen this movie in 10-13 years easily.  I enjoyed it still, but not as much as I did when I was younger.  The problem with the film is two-fold: A) if Ace was a real person that I knew, I would be greatly annoyed by him (funny in a movie, terrible in real life), and B) the solution to the crime is unsolvable because the answer comes so far out of left field that Sherlock Holmes would be confused.  But still entertaining.  3 stars.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Three O'Clock High

Obviously out of order!

Three O'Clock High-1987, starring nobody anybody cares about
He says-High school journalist is assigned to do a welcome-wagon profile on the new psycho in class, finds himself challenged by this behemoth to duke it out in the parking lot after school.  Steven Spielberg protege Joanou is to the camera what James Brown is to shoes, but it's a lot of energy expended over nothing.  Siemaszko is underwhelming in the lead.  1 and a half stars.

I say- Oi.  Once in a while I watch a random movie on Netflix.  This came up and I figured I would watch it and knock it off the list.  The problem with this movie involves me going into spoilers, so here goes:  SPOILER ALERT!  This whole movie makes zero sense.  The movie builds up to a fight at 3, and in the fight, the bully assaults not only the poor sap, but also knocks out the principal and the security guard.  The cops come, and they leave the innocent kid alone who is party to the fight, and the very next day, the bully shows up at school.  So basically, I can assault multiple people, and be allowed to come back unscathed the very next day.  Wonderful lessons learned from this one.  1 star.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Aces: Iron Eagle 3

Aces: Iron Eagle 3-1992, starring Louis Gossett, Jr. and Sonny Chiba

Maltin says- This time, maverick pilot Gossett and a group of WW2 veteran pilots stage an air raid on a Peruvian cocaine factory (having run out of targets in the Middle East).  Unsatisfying melange of flyboy machismo, unintentional slapstick, and inane action--with novelty of female bodybuilder McLish in cast. One and a half stars.

Grant says-  Well, this is the first time I've hit a sequel before the original.  Not like I needed to see the originals.  This was bad.  Really really bad.  Like lets capture Osama Bin Laden and make him watch this bad.  Louis Gossett Jr. should consider removing this from his resume.  BOMB

Aces High

Aces High-1976, British, starring Christopher Plummer and Malcolm McDowell
He says-Strong antiwar statement focusing on indoctrination of WW1 pilot Firth and his disillusioned squadron leader.  Solid cast (with cameos by John Gielgud, Ray Milland, Trevor Howard, and Richard Johnson) and exciting aerial dogfights highlight this remake of R.C. Sheriff's Journey's End.  3 stars.

I say- God, enough with the foreign films lately!  And yes, I do consider British to be foreign, because the accents are soooo thick!!!!  Anyway, this movie was borderline watchable, I guess.  Didn't care for the story, but some of the flight scenes were good.  1 and a half stars.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole- 1951, starring Kirk Douglas
He says-  An embittered New Mexico reporter looking for the elusive brass ring finds it when he stumbles onto a story of a man trapped in an ancient Indian ruin.  Unrelentingly cynical (yet mostly believable) tale of how the reporter exploits the "human interest story" for his own benefit- and how the potential tragedy turns into a three-ring circus- has a peculiarly contemporary ring to it.  Biting and extremely well acted.  Originally titled The Big Carnival.  Inspired by the actual 1925 Floyd Collins case; the real reporter won a Pulitzer Prize.  3 stars.

I say-Great acting!  Really shows how sensational the media can be, especially when paralleled with news stories today of miners trapped in mines.  Dated, but watchable.  2 stars.

Ace High

I'm unable to watch Ace Eli and Rodger of the Skies so I move to

Ace High-1969, Italian. starring Terrence Hall and Bud Spencer
Malty says-Awkwardly dubbed spaghetti Western tries to imitate Clint Eastwood-Sergio Leone epics, but director Colizzi lacks Leone's style.  Hill plays a character named Cat Stevens, but there are no rock songs here.  2 stars.

I say- "Awkwardly dubbed" is putting it mildly.  This was BIZARRE.  This thing was dubbed worse than early Jackie Chan movies.  Oddly placed voices and talking when mouths are closed really detract from the whole movie.  Needless to say, I hated this one.  BOMB

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Accused

So Netflix doesn't have "The Accompanist," or "The Accused," from 1948.  So we move onto:

The Accused: 1988, starring Kelly McGillis and Jodie Foster

Maltin says: Public prosecutor McGillis deals with a gang-rape case in cut-and-dried fashion, until the victim demands full retribution for what she has suffered.  Compelling drama inspired by a notorious real-life case and propelled by Foster's powerhouse, Oscar-winning performance as the provocative, foul-mouthed woman who gets her day in court.  Only quibble: was the climactic reenactment really necessary?  3 stars.

I say- I can see why Jodie Foster won an Academy award for this movie!  She was awesome.  My biggest problem with this movie though, is the fact that my fiancee watches Law and Order SVU, and I've seen this story told more times than I can remember.  I get that this was done first, but the fact that I knew every line before it was said detracted from the experience.  2 stars.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Accidental Tourist

The Accidental Tourist-1988, starring William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Geena Davis, Bill Pullman, and Ed Begley Jr.

He says-  Hurt gives an exquisite performance as a man shattered by the death of his son, who comes out of his shell when he meets a kooky, aggressive young woman (Oscar winner Davis) who couldn't be less his type.  Finely wrought, extremely faithful adaptation of Anne Tyler's novel dares to take its time; may be too slow and quiet for some viewers, but often many rewards.  3 stars.

I say- This was nominated for best picture?  Really?  And Geena Davis won an academy award for this?  It wasn't terrible, but it was INCREDIBLY slow, and I felt like the movie got lost in itself midway through.  I felt like William Hurt was so unlikable, I wanted everyone else around him to die as well so he could feel the misery I was going through watching this movie.  One star.