Sunday, August 24, 2014

The stars are out tonight


ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

The film that teaches that suicide is never an option, at least not if you're married to Tilda Swintonso, obviously, something we already knew.  Nonetheless, it's rather enjoyable.

2013 (them)/2014 (us)
Written and directed by Jim Jarmusch
With Tilda Swinton (Eve), Tom Hiddleston (Adam), Mia Wasikowska (Ava), and John Hurt (Kit)

Spoiler alert: mild

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Whores, whores, whores, and gambling


SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR

What a beautiful bore.

2014
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller
Written by Frank Miller, in case you couldn't tell
With Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Johnny), Powers Booth (Senator Roarke), Josh Brolin (Dwight), Rosario Dawson (Gail), Mickey Rourke (Marv), Jessica Alba (Nancy), Bruce Willis (Hartigan), and Eva Green (Frank Miller's weltamschauung)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Monday, August 18, 2014

The heists of Jules Dassin, part II: "...then as farce"


TOPKAPI

A completely necessary frolic, Topkapi is both inferior to its predecessor and a most welcome corrective to it.

1964
Directed by Jules Dassin
Written by Monja Danichewsky (based on the novel The Light of Day by Eric Ambler)
With Melina Mercouri (Elizabeth Lipp), Max Schell (Walter Harper), Peter Ustinov (Arthur Simpson), Robert Morley (Cedric Page), Jess Hahn (Hans Fisher), and Gilles Segal (Giulio the Human Fly)

Spoiler alert: moderate

The heists of Jules Dassin, part I: "First as tragedy..."


RIFIFI
(Du rififi chez les hommes)

It's the gold standard for heist filmsbut just like there's a reason we aren't on the gold standard, it's a good thing that they don't make 'em quite like Rififi anymore, too.

1955
Directed by Jules Dassin
Written by Renee Wheeler, August Le Breton, and Jules Dassin (based on the novel Du rififi chez les hommes by August Le Breton)
With Jean Servais (Tony le Stephanois), Carl Moehner (Jo de Suedois), Robert Manuel (Mario Ferrati), Jules Dassin (Cesar de Milanais), Pierre Grasset (Louis Grutter), Magali Noel (Viviane), and Marie Sabouret (Mado)

Spoiler alert: severe

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The responsible man


LOCKE

The best man in England has the worst day of his life: Locke is at once a filmmaking gimmick, a crass manipulation, and one of the absolute finest movies of 2014.

2014
Written and directed by Steven Knight
With Tom Hardy (Ivan Locke), Ruth Wilson (Katrina Locke), Tom Holland (Eddie Locke), Olivia Colman (Bethan), Andrew Scott (Donal), Ben Daniels (Gareth)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blackmail by television


THE GLASS WEB

A weirdly prescient attack on the mediaand the masses that consume itthat cuts right to the bone, but never forgets to provide the chills and thrills that selfsame audience so desperately craves.

1953
Directed by Jack Arnold
Written by Robert Blees and Leonard Lee (based on the novel by Max Ehlrich)
With John Forsythe (Don Newell), Edward G. Robinson (Henry Hayes), Kathleen Hughes (Paula Ranier), and Marcia Henderson (Louise Newell)

Spoiler alert: moderate—however, the opening shot is so great that merely discussing it constitutes a severe spoiler; so if you have any interest in cool movies, watch The Glass Web... for the opening shot must be discussed.

Cardboard Science: Rock, roll


The Cardboard Science series intends to be a catalog of the science fiction of the past, today.  Science errors will be mocked.  20th century mores will be challenged.  Glories will be recorded.  Films will be, as usual, reviewed.

THE MONOLITH MONSTERS

The writers' lack of access to an encyclopedia, and the abysmal stupidity that issues in its absence, subverts this sci-fi thriller severely.  And yet a no-nonsense running time, some surprisingly suspenseful direction, and a truly unique monster elevate it above the madding crowd.

1957
Directed by John Sherwood
Written by Norman Jolley, Jack Arnold, and Robert M. Fresco
Grant Williams (Dr. Dave Miller), Lola Albright (Cathy Barrett), Les Tremayne (Martin Cochrane), Trevor Bardette (Prof. Arthur Flanders), William Flaherty (Chief Dan Corey), and Phil Harvey (Dr. Ben Gilbert)

Spoiler alert: high

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bangbus U.K. is different


UNDER THE SKIN

Mood and visuals attempt to replace imagination and narrative in this piece of throwback science fiction.  ("Throwback" is a double entendre, in case you weren't sure.)

2014
Directed by Jonathan Glazer
Written by Walter Campbell and Jonathan Glazer (based on the novel by Michael Faber)
With Scarlett Johansson (Samantha)

Spoiler alert: moderate, but this is a largely meaningless category

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We've been eating Gamera, part VII: "I am beautiful—and I should rule the seas!"


Gamera isn't the most important, or the most influential, or the most popular Japanese monster.  That just means the Guardian of the Universe may have to content himself with simply being the best.  This series of reviews is dedicated to my very favorite turtle.

GAMERA VS. ZIGRA
(Gamera Tai Shintai Kaiju Jigura)

The Showa Era proper draws to a closeand perhaps none too soon.  Somewhere between a bang and a whimper, there is Gamera vs. Zigra.

1971
Directed by Noriaki Yuasa
Written by Nisan Takahashi
With Umenosuke Izumi (Gamera), Yasushi Sakagami (Ken Ishikawa) (yep), Gloria Zoellner (Helen Wallace), Osamu Saeki (Dr. Ishikawa), Koji Fujiyama (Dr. Wallace) (sure), and Eiko Yanami (Woman X)

Spoiler alert: severe

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Carboard Science: Not what you'd describe as "a righteous hack"


The Cardboard Science series intends to be a catalog of the science fiction of the past, today.  Science errors will be mocked.  20th century mores will be challenged.  Glories will be recorded.  Films will be, as usual, reviewed.

GOG

A bone-dry parade of fake-ass science with neither interest nor a terrible amount of incidentlet alone what the marketing fraudulently claimedbut at least it hates foreigners.

1954
Directed by Herbert L. Strock
Written by Tom Taggart, Ivan Tors, and Richard G. Taylor
With Richard Egan (Dr. David Sheppard), Constance Dowling (Ms. Joanna Merritt), and Hebert Marshall, John Wengraf, Phillip van Zandt, and Valerie Vernon as a largely undifferentiated scientific mass

Spoiler alert: severe

So when the hell do we get to see Santa Claus?


SNOWPIERCER

Offering lovely production design, frankly only adequate action, and radical, vague ideology, I suppose Snowpiercer is worth your time, but maybe not your hard-earned protein bars.

2014
Directed by Bong Joon-ho
Written by Kelly Masterson and Joon-ho Bong (based on the comic by Jaques Lob, Benjamin LeGrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette)
With Chris Evans (Curtis), John Hurt (Gilliam), Song Kang-ho (Namgoong Minoo), Ko Ah-Sung (Yona), Tilda Swinton (Mason), Jamie Bell (Edgar), and a secret super-actor cameo (unfortunately, not Tom Hanks, but we can't have everything)

Spoiler alert: moderate

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tangible and incarnate


ALTERED STATES

The best drug-fueled cosmic horror movie in at least six billion years.

1980
Directed by Ken Russell
Written by Paddy Chayefsky (based on his novel)
With William Hurt (Eddie Jessup), Blair Brown (Emily Jessup), Bob Balaban (Arthur Rosenberg), Charles Haid (Mason Parrish), and Charles White-Eagle (The Brujo)

Spoiler alert: severe
Content warning: William Hurt sidebutt, the crack God put in Blair Brown's ass, and breasts in a medium long-shot from a screencap of a video advertised as "HD" on Youtubeso recognizing that it's even a woman only means that you still get to legally drive