Friday, September 30, 2011

After Hours

Netflix currently doesn't have Afterglow, so I move on to:

After Hours- 1985, Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Thomas Chong, Catherine O'Hara, Cheech Marin, Bronson Pinchot

He says- Ordinary guy goes through a series of bizarre experiences during one incredible night in N.Y.C.  How much you enjoy this comic nightmare will depend on how closely you identify with Dunne--the only normal person in the picture!  2 and a half stars

I say-  This was not a very good movie.  Good acting and cast, and Scorsese is a great director, but not this turkey.  Trying too hard to make a Risky Business type movie without being as great.  1 star

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Don Juan DeMarco

Don Juan DeMarco-1995, Directed by Jeremy Leven, Starring Johnny Depp, Marlon Brando, and Faye Dunaway
Leonard says-  Psychotherapist on the verge of retirement becomes entranced with a new patient, a fervent young man who believes he is the world's greatest lover.  Fanciful story (by director Leven) is made compulsively watchable by its stars: Brando, compelling as ever, Depp, hypnotically believable, and Dunaway, a delightful match for Brando, as his wife.  Ill-fated Tejano singer Selena appears in the opening scene.  3 stars

I say-  Absolutely loved this one.  Magical, greatly acted, completely compelling, you need to see this movie.  Johnny Depp is amazing, and it's a surprise that no Oscars were given for any part of this movie.  Wonderful.  4 stars

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Trial and Error

Trial and Error-1997, Directed by Jonathan Lynn, starring Kramer, Jeff Daniels, Charlize Theron, Rip Torn, Alexandra Wentworth, and Stiffler's Mom

Malt says- When button-down lawyer Daniels can't appear in court (because of a bachelor party hangover), his best friend, wannabe actor Richards, tries to help by taking his place...but when the case is ordered to proceed, Richards has to keep up the ruse.  Smart, funny farce with terrific performances by the two leads and laugh-out-loud situations; Theron is adorable as the young woman who catches Daniels' eye- even though he's about to marry the boss' daughter.  3 stars

I say-  This was funnier now than I remembered it being when I was 14.  Totally watchable, not laugh out loud funny to me, but I was smiling.  Good afternoon movie when you don't want anything heavy.  2 and a half stars


Spellbound- 2003, Directed by Jeffrey Blitz

He says-  Terrific documentary that follows eight very different young competitors who participate in the 1999 National Spelling Bee.  An enormously entertaining and often pointed examination of ideas and success and the American dream, with the final spelling duel as riveting as anything found in a fiction film.  3 and a half stars

I say-  This was a good documentary.  Takes a little while to get going, and I only was interested in half the kids (some of them were so annoying I wanted them to leave my screen), but really interesting on how much pressure is on these kids.  3 stars

The Fog of War

The Fog of War-2003, Directed by Errol Morris
He says-  Unique, memorable documentary about the life of Robert S. McNamara, the controversial former secretary of defense who played a pivotal role during the Vietnam War.  Director Morris explores myriad political, social, and moral issues that resonate even more tellingly today, and McNamara--85 when the film was made--remains an outspoken and forceful personality who refuses to provide any easy answers about the history he helped to shape.  An emotional powerhouse for anyone who lived through the era depicted here so vividly.  Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature.  Film carries the subtitle Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara.  3 and a half stars

I say-  This documentary, though well made, provided subject matter that I didn't find interesting in the least.  1 star

Monday, September 26, 2011

After Dark, My Sweet

After Dark, My Sweet-1990, Directed by James Foley, Starring Jason Patric, Rachel Ward, and Bruce Dern
He says-  Piquant modern-day film noir based on a Jim Thompson novel, about a drifter who becomes involved with a beautiful but troubled woman and her criminally scheming friend.  Interesting at first, but eventually you catch on that it's heading nowhere--10 miles per hour, at that.  Both Patric and Dern are excellent.  2 and a half stars

I say-  UGH.  I have no idea how this movie got greenlit.  Such a slow, drawn out, long movie with pretentious acting and really overly artsy shots.  AVOID.  BOMB

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cool As Ice

Cool As Ice- 1991, Directed by David Kellogg, starring Vanilla Ice, Michael Gross, and Naomi Campbell

He says-  The Sealtest man's rap numbers frame seemingly unreleasable "wandering cyclist" yarn about a numbskull who manages to romance the town's SAT standard-bearer.  Oh, did we mention that her father is in the government's witness relocation program?  Ice's parlance ("Drop that zero/get with the hero") in his first starring role does not rekindle fond memories of Ronald Colman.  BOMB

I say-  This movie is awesome for all the wrong reasons.  It's a standard early '90's flick, complete with terrible dancing, lame jokes, and motorcycles that can leap fences without ramps.  The dialogue in this movie is so bad, it's hard to remember that Vanilla is being COMPLETELY SERIOUS.  A great, stupid time movie, and people are going to hate me because I enjoyed this much more that An Affair to Remember, so I'm giving it 3 stars

Female Perversions

Female Perversions- 1997, Directed by Susan Streitfeld, Starring Tilda Swinton

He says-  Story of highly successful lawyer (Swinton), in line for a judgeship, who is consumed by self-doubt.  She swings both ways sexually, and repeatedly puts her reputation at risk.  That her Ph.D. candidate sister is a shoplifter is testimony to their highly dysfunctional upbringing.  Disjointed, pretentious film with a title more titillating than the film itself.  2 stars

I say-  Snooze.  BOMB

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Africa- Texas Style

Africa- Texas Style- 1967, Directed by Andrew Marton, starring Hugh O'Brian, John Mills, and Nigel Green

He says-  Feature (which later spun off a TV series, Cowboy in Africa) doesn't offer much excitement, with O'Brian helping Mills preserve wild game in the dark continent.  Hayley Mills has a cameo.  2 and a half stars

I say-  This was terrible.  Cowboys should not be in Africa.  Really slow, and it feels like a tv show episode.  BOMB

Africa Screams

Africa Screams-  1949, Directed by Charles Barton, Starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Shemp Howard, and Joe Besser
He says-  A&C go on safari in this funny outing full of wheezy but often hilarious gags and routines.  Also shown in computer-colored version.  3 stars

I say--Dear God, I thought I was done with Abbott and Costello!  UGH!  AND HOLY FUCK LOOK AT THE POSTER AND THE INCREDIBLY RACIST TRIBESMAN COOKING ABBOTT AND COSTELLO IN THE POSTER!!!!!!!  That's not cool at all.  But it was a different time, so I guess that's the only excuse they have.  This movie was hard to watch.  Not that it was bad, but the transfer was so awful that it was painful to watch.  A couple funny gags.  Not the worst Abbott and Costello movie.  1 and a half stars

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Your Friends and Neighbors

Your Friends & Neighbors- 1998, Directed by Neil Labute, starring Jason Patric, Ben Stiller, Aaron Eckhart, and Catherine Keener

He says-  Another somewhat smug "let's rip the lid off the hypocrisy of society" tract from writer-director LaBute about two socially and sexually dysfunctional couples and their friends.  Some pungent, provocative dialogue, but as in LaBute's In the Company of Men, it's not clear what the point of it all is.  Patric (who also produced) has an especially potent role as a self-styled stud.  2 stars

I say-  Snoozefest that's without a point.  Bored.  Good acting.  Bland as heck.  If you like artsy films, this might work for you.  For the average person, no way Jose. BOMB

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hard to Hold

Hard to Hold- 1984, Directed by Larry Peerce, Starring Rick Springfield

He says-  Pampered rock star collides (literally) with spirited young woman who doesn't know- or care- who he naturally he falls in love with her.  Tiresome romance designed as star vehicle for teen idol Springfield, and retitled "Hard to Watch" by some wags.  1 and a half stars

I say- This movie is an exercise in what not to do when making a movie.  Terrible in all respects, and Rick Springfield should not act.  EVER,  BOMB

The African Queen

Netflix doesn't currently have "The African Lion", so on to...

The African Queen- 1951, Directed by John Huston, Starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart

He says-  Superb combination of souse Bogart (who won an Oscar) and spinster Hepburn traveling downriver in Africa during WW1, combating the elements and the Germans, and each other.  Script by James Agee and director Huston from C.S. Forester's novel; gorgeously filmed on location in the Belgian Congo by Jack Cardiff.  4 stars

I say-  I had heard of this movie for many years, but figured it was a movie that was more of a critic's favorite than an audience favorite.  I was wrong.  Perfect acting and pacing, feels almost like an Indiana Jones movie, really fun.  I would recommend this movie to anyone.  4 stars

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hannibal Rising

Hannibal Rising-  2007, Directed by Peter Weber, Starring Gong Li, Dominic West, Gaspard Ulliel
He says-  The Secret Origins of Hannibal Lecter: as a child near the end of WW2 he had to watch while Nazi Collaborators ate his younger sister!  As a young adult (Ulliel), inspired by his Japanese aunt, he hunts down the killers and exacts brutal revenge.  Handsome but ponderous, dull and self-important, though never as gory as might be expected.  Scripted by Thomas Harris from his own novel.  Ulliel never recalls Brian Cox, much less Anthony Hopkins.  1 and a half stars

I say-  This is a bastard Hannibal movie.  The movie sucks, the character has no resemblance (acting or looks wise) to Hannibal Lecter, not gory enough, not intelligent enough, and really, really, really dumb.  It's an insult to the other movies.  At least now I'm done with Hannibal Lecter.  BOMB

Friday, September 16, 2011

Afraid of the Dark

Afraid of the Dark-  1991, Directed by Mark Peploe, Starring a ton of unknowns
He says-  Offbeat psychological thriller, loaded with plot twists, about imaginative boy whose father is a cop and whose mother is blind.  The latter is at risk during a killing spree in which the victims are sightless females.  Result is alternately gripping and ponderous.  Feature debut for cowriter Peploe (The Last Emporer).  2 and a half stars

I say-  This was bad.  Boring, predictable, and not suspenseful at all.  Miss it.  BOMB

Afghan Star

Afghan Star-  2009, Directed by Havana Marking

He says- Interesting documentary about an American Idol- like tv show that's a sensation with the people of Afghanistan, although it rankles their fundamentalist rulers.  We follow several finalists and learn the risks the female contestants face by flouting tradition, singing, and dancing in public.  Director Marking provides context by showing the modern culture of Afghanistan before the Taliban came to power in the 1980's.   A thoughtful look at the conflict between a modern-thinking young population and its oppressive government.  3 stars

I say-  Really neat documentary, really shows how much the people of Afghanistan hate the Taliban.  This movie would be a great one to show to someone who says "nuke em all, they're all terrorists."  3 stars

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Affliction- 1998, Directed by Paul Schrader, starring Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn, Willem Dafoe, and Mary Beth Hurt
He says- Portrait of a man whose screwed-up life--and mental imbalance-- can be laid at the feet of his abusive father; the son (Nolte) tries to stay afloat, as traffic cop/jack-of-all-trades (and miserable part-time dad) in a small, wintry New Hampshire town.  Bleak in the extreme, with no light or hope for any of its principal characters, but extremely well acted; Coburn won a Best Supporting Oscar.  Schrader adapted Russell Banks' novel.  2 stars

I say- God, this movie is DARK.  I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.  Great acting, and obvious why there were Oscars thrown their way, but still....1 star

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Funhouse

The Funhouse- 1981, Directed by Tobe Hooper, starring nobody anyone knows
He says-  Intense drama about four teenagers who decide to spend night in funhouse of a sleazy traveling carnival.  Once inside, there is sex, violence, suspense and an increasing tension as they encounter the unknown.  Stylish visuals help create an eerie atmosphere in this not entirely successful chiller.  2 and a half stars

I say-  This was a really ineffective horror movie.  The Frankenstein mask character is lame, all of the characters are stereotypes, and the blood level isn't what it should be.  Pass.  1/2 star

The Babe

The Babe-  1992, Directed by Arthur Hiller, starring John Goodman, Kelly McGillis, and Bruce Boxleitner
He says- Agreeably sentimental, old-fashioned bio of the great Babe Ruth is largely a vehicle for Goodman, who's terrific in the lead.  Though facts are tampered with and often ignored, the essence of this larger-than-life character (and his genuine love of baseball) still comes through.  3 stars

I say-  This was a good movie.  I enjoyed John Goodman, and I thought his portrayal was great.  Really overly sappy in many spots, which got annoying.  Worth a watch if you're a baseball fan.  2 and a half stars

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Mississippi Mermaid

Mississippi Mermaid- 1969, Directed by Francois Truffaut, starring a bunch of French people

He says-  One of the director's few flops, but any film with Belmondo-Deneuve-Truffaut combo is of interest; story concerns tobacco planter whose mail-order bride turns out to be Deneuve.  Always buy brand names.  Based on the Cornell Woolrich novel Waltz Into Darkness.  Originally shown in the U.S. at 110m.  Remade as Original Sin.  3 stars

I say- This was a shit-load better than Original Sin.  Taut thriller delivers on many levels, and the subtitles don't get annoying.  Fashions back in the 60's in France were hysterical.  3 stars

Love Affair

Love Affair- 1994, Directed by Glenn Gordon Caron, Starring Warren Beatty, Annette Benning, Katharine Hepburn, Garry Shandling, Pierce Brosnan, Kate Capshaw, Harold Ramis, Ray Charles, and John Tesh

He says-  Soulless remake of the 1939 weepie (itself remade as An Affair to Remember), with Beatty as an ex-jock-turned-sportscaster and ladies man who chances to meet Benning on an eventful plane ride.  Frustrating film runs hot and cold; high point is the sequence with Hepburn (in her final feature film) as Beatty's feisty aunt.  Intrusive songs on the soundtrack are a debit, Conrad Hall's silky cinematography is a plus, but the biggest letdown is the ending, which stops short of a big, old-fashioned sentimental Hollywood finish--just what the movie really needs.  Beatty produced and cowrote with Robert Towne.  2 and a half stars

I say-  Even though he hated it, I actually liked this version of the movie the most.  I can't believe I've watched the same movie 3 times, but I feel like the most recent one is the most relatable.  Still predictable, and still didn't care for the story, but it was likable.  2 stars

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hot Dog...The Movie

Hot Dog...The Movie-1984, Directed by Peter Markle, Starring nobody, except for a brief appearance of Shannon Tweed

He says-  Hijinks at a ski resort: an updating of '60s Beach Party-type movies, just as dumb, but now much raunchier.  Good ski sequences, but that's about it.  Film is so titled to avoid confusion with Hot Dog...The Opera.  1 and a half stars

I say-  Maltin, are you insane?   There is no Hot Dog...the Opera.  Also, this movie is great.  So great in fact, that it inspired a South Park spoof (the episode Asspen).  Lots of good old fashioned racism and skin in this movie, it's hysterical and dumb and I can't believe it was made.  Simultaneous one of the worst movies and best movies ever made.  4 STARS.  SUCK ON THAT LEONARD

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Original Sin

Original Sin-  2001, Directed by Michael Cristofer, starring Angelina Jolie, Antonio Banderas, and Thomas Jane
He says-  Overdone, laughably bad adaptation of the Cornell Woolrich novel Waltz Into Darkness (previously filmed by Francois Truffaut as Mississippi Mermaid).  Banderas plays a rich Cuban at the beginning of the 20th century who discovers his young bride isn't exactly what he thought.  Of interest only for steamy sex scenes between Jolie and Banderas.  Also available in unrated version.   1 and a half stars

I say-  UGH.  Stop giving me movies I hate Netflix.  At least now I know what Puss In Boots sounds like when he has sex with Laura Croft.  The only redeeming quality as Maltin said, is the sex.  And that's done well but the story sucks.  1 star

Love Affair

Love Affair- 1939, Directed by Leo McCarey, starring Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer

He says-  Superior comedy-drama about shipboard romance whose continuation on-shore is interrupted by unforseen circumstances.  Dunne and Boyer are a marvelous match.  Screenplay by Delmer Daves and Donald Ogden Stewart, from story by Mildred Cram and Leo McCarey.  Remade by McCarey as An Affair to Remember, and a second time (by Warren Beatty).  Beware public-domain copy with entirely new music score.  3 and a half stars

I say-  Better than An Affair to Remember, but I just don't like the story.  Don't know if I got the public domain version or not, but who cares?  Better acting and chemistry, but still....thank god I only have one more version of this movie to go.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Grindhouse- 2007, Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, Planet Terror stars Rose McGowan, Freddy Rodriguez, Josh Brolon, Michael Biehn, Fergie, Quentin Tarantino, and Sayid from LOST.  Death Proof stars Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGowan, Sydney Poitier, Eli Roth, and Quentin Tarantino
He says-  Homage to exploitation double features of yore is long but a lot of fun.  Rodriguez offers an unabashedly gory mutant-zombie yarn with plenty of action and a memorable prosthetic for victim-turned-heroine McGowan.  Tarantino lingers on chick-power chatter before paying it off in his car-chase homage to Vanishing Point, with real-life stunt woman Zoe Bell earning her paycheck.  Faux trailers (by Rodriguez, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, and Edgar Wright) are virtual replicas of '70's sleaze fare- more so than the features themselves.  Bruce Willis appears unbilled; other familiar faces are in the trailers.  Both features were expanded for separate release.  3 stars

I say-  I love this movie.  I own this one as well.  The first movie is awesome (Rodriguez of Sharkboy and Lavagirl fame), the trailers are great, but Tarantino's movie is slow until the very end.  It gets boring after being hit with so much fun.  Fortunately, once Kurt Russell starts chasing the girls the movie ends on a high note.  On a personal note, I would highly recommend getting the Blu-Ray complete version so you get all of the fun trailers.  3 and a half stars

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Rock-A-Doodle- 1992, Directed by Don Bluth, voices of Glen Campbell, Christopher Plummer, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Ellen Greene
He says-  A cocky cock heads for Vegas after suffering a severe blow to his ego, finds success as a nightclub superstar in the Elvis mode.  Kiddie cartoon is missing the essential components to make it more than passable entertainment for six-year-olds.  2 stars

I say-  This movie came out when I was a kid, and I didn't like it then.  Rather mean-spirited for a kid's movie, and as is the case with most Don Bluth films, such as an American Tail and Secret of Nimh, it's very dark in spots.  Not good for adults, and terrifying for kids. Good animation though.  1 star


Manhunter- 1986, Directed by Michael Mann, starring William L Petersen and Brian Cox
He says-  Forceful contemporary cops-and-robbers melodrama told with Miami Vice stylistics (and hard-pounding music) by that show's creator, writer-director Mann.  Petersen plays a troubled former FBI agent who's called back to service to capture a serial killer, which he does by getting himself to think just like the murderer!  Gripping all the way and surprisingly nonexploitive.  Don't examine story too carefully or the holes start to show through.  Jailed killer Hannibal Lecter figures in the story; later he'd become the subject of his own story, The Silence of the Lambs.  Based on Thomas Harris' novel Red Dragon.  Directors cut runs 124m.  Aka Red Dragon, also the name of the 2002 remake.  3 stars

I say-  So 2 of the same movie in the same day.  This one has better writing, but the other has Anthony Hopkins, who is a far superior Hannibal Lecter.  I guess this one is a little better, and I especially enjoyed seeing the boxes of Mr. T cereal.  2 and a half stars

An Affair to Remember

So Netflix doesn't currently have the Affairs of Dobie Gillis so...

An Affair to Remember-  1957, Directed by Leo McCarey, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr

He says-  Well-remembered but middling remake of McCarey's 1939 Love Affair.  Bubbling shipboard comedy in first half is overshadowed by draggy soap-opera cliches and unnecessary musical numbers in NYC finale.  Still, Grant and Kerr make a wonderful couple.  Film is a major reference point in 1993 hit Sleepless in Seattle.  Remade again as Love Affair in 1994.  Vic Damone croons the title song.  2 and a half stars

I say-  I don't understand why this movie is so well loved.  It wasn't great.  Very slow and overly long in places, and you know exactly where the movie is going from the beginning.  Here's to hoping the Love Affair movies are better.  1 star

The Affair of the Necklace

The Affair of the Necklace-  2001, Directed by Charles Shyer, starring Hillary Swank, Jonathan Pryce, Adrien Brody, Brian Cox, Christopher Walken, and Hayden Panettiere
He says-  Handsome but ponderous historical drama- based on real-life events- in which a young woman, seeking to restore her family name and reclaim her home, dares to scheme against Marie Antoinette and the power-hungry Cardinal Louis de Rohan.  Swank's performance lacks fire and charisma, however, and the film itself never ignites.  Narration, by King Louis' house minister (Cox), is heavy-handed and often unnecessary.  2 stars

I say-  Boring!  Great cast, but really convoluted and boring.  Pass please.  BOMB

An Affair of Love

So the "Ae"s were only one movie so now I'm onto the "Af"s!  And of course, per Netflix usual, they don't have the first one, which is Affair in Trinidad, so it takes us to

An Affair of Love- 1999, directed by Frederic Fonteyne, starring a couple of French people

He says- Provocative and interesting film about a woman who places an ad in a magazine to find  a man who will participate in her sexual fantasy.  Soon the couple is meeting on a weekly basis, but she is reluctant to take the next step and get to know him as a person.  French title isUne Liaison Porongraphique (A Pornographic Affair), which refers to Baye's definition of their relationship; the film itself is fairly discreet.  3 stars

I say-  I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would.  I was expecting it to be a boring foreign film, but it was quite the opposite.  Very depressing in places, and they never say what they're meeting for in secret, which adds to the mystery.  Great acting and good script, but a one-time movie.  2 and a half stars

Red Dragon

Continuing on my slow journey of Hannibal Lecter films....
Red Dragon- 2002, Directed by Brett Ratner, starring Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Miles from LOST, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman

He says-  Needless remake of Manhunter, based on Thomas Harris' novel.  FBI agent (Norton) captures Hannibal Lecter, then is forced to consult with the carnivorous inmate as he tries to find a crafty serial killer.  Slick production, with an exceptionally good cast, can't disguise a potboiler script that's all too obvious.  (Gee, do you think the bad guy will go after Norton's family?)  Screenplay by Ted Tally, who also adapted The Silence of the Lambs.  Frank Whaley and Mary Beth Hurt appear unbilled; Ellen Burstyn's voice is uncredited.  2 stars

I say-  This was kind of a weird movie.  Anthony Hopkins was not in the film for much of it, and the script was obvious.  It felt more true to Silence of the Lambs than Hannibal did; however, in the few scenes that Lecter is in, he feels much more cartoony than he did in the other films.  Still some good sequences.  2 stars