Friday, October 28, 2016

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

2016, US, directed by Jake Szymanski

Just awful: even being trapped on a plane for seven hours was a poor excuse for a viewing choice like this.

Trouble with the Curve

2012, US, directed by Robert Lorenz

A counterpoint to Moneyball, valorizing the scout above the number, though its unsubtle in the extreme in both storytelling and characterization, and doesn't do much with a solid cast -- though the actors are professional enough to deliver right down the middle.


1988, US, directed by Penny Marshall

As charming as it was on release, with Hanks' sweet, wonderfully physical performance the absolute center of the film. Also very much of its era, with eye-popping shoulder pads and New York a haven of crime -- though some things, notably the depiction of grasping business types, never go out of style.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Nice Guys

2016, US, directed by Shane Black

Very much enjoyed this, for the performances by the principals and also for the sense that Shane Black finally managed to get down on film what he'd been trying to capture since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Crowe and Gosling make for a remarkably well-matched pair, and Gosling's comic timing is very fine at times.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dark Passage

1947, US, directed by Delmer Daves

The only Bogart-Bacall I hadn't seen, though it's less notable for that pairing for my money, lacking most of the crackle of their other appearances together. It's a good deal more interesting for the noir elements, and the sense of a deepening nightmare as the bodies pile up. Overall, though, I found it less satisfying than its parts: several sequences to be treasured, and a number of wonderful character turns, but somehow the final product lacked that ineffable magic. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Big Combo

1955, US, directed by Joseph H. Lewis

I haven't seen much of Joseph H. Lewis's output beyond Gun Crazy, but this was terrific -- gritty, and again perhaps a touch ahead of its time in terms of the depiction of morally compromised characters, though it's also very much a product of the noir era, and those characters feel very familiar from popular literature of the period. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Hitch-Hiker

1953, US, directed by Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino's terrifically sweaty, creative little thriller -- with the kind of tension of which Clouzot might have been proud, or indeed to which the French director owes a debt. The unusual setting in dusty Mexican backwaters adds a striking layer of authenticity, and the positive portrayal of Mexico and Mexican policemen is unusual, especially for the time period. The finale on the docks also provided a fine counterpoint to the car-bound earlier going.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Murder By Contract

1958, US, directed by Irving Lerner

A compelling picture with which I was completely unfamiliar to this point: an existential hit man makes a name for himself and then hesitates when his next, highly lucrative target turns out to be someone quite different to what he imagined -- though before that occurs, there's an extended, often comic, sequence that comes across as a kind of Waiting for Godot-in-LA. The photography, by Lucien Ballard, is terrific, and it feels like a film a good decade or more ahead of its time in terms of the approach to the material (while also functioning very effectively as a thriller). 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Seven Men From Now

1956, US, directed by Budd Boetticher

A well-crafted Western from Boetticher, like all those I've seen from the director -- generally lean, packing a great deal in, and raising some interesting moral questions. Randolph Scott is a good deal more interesting here than in most of his more generic fare, and the interplay between Scott and Lee Marvin is especially good. There's plenty of work for the bad guy supporting character crew too; they get to glower and growl more than usual. 

Thursday, October 06, 2016

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery

1939, UK, directed by Thorold Dickinson

An interesting pre-war British entry, wherein the central murder is vaguely amusing, very much in keeping with the Golden Age novels of the period. The football backdrop, rare for the time, adds an element of intrigue, particularly since the actual footage came from Arsenal's last pre-war match. Leslie Banks is very good as both lead detective and comic relief, and as a procedural it's rather effective and, in that sense, a little before its time -- the details of forensic practice seem to be taken quite seriously, for instance, years and an ocean away from something like He Walked By Night

La Balance

1982, France, directed by Bob Swaim

A solid French policier, pretty good as a depiction of the gangster milieu of Belleville in the early 1980s but most notable for the strong performances by Nathalie Baye, Philippe Léotard, and Richard Berry, all of them playing compromised characters in one way or another (there's an interesting back story, too, in that Baye and Léotard had just ended a long relationship). However, I didn't find the direction to be inspired: Swaim films in pretty flat fashion at times, and his sense of rhythm that comes and goes, but the climactic gun battle is staged with a good deal of panache. 


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States