William Friedkin’s crime thriller The French Connection is a crackerjack of a movie. It’s the first R-rated flick to win the Oscar for Best Picture and it’s one of the finest films in the genre. Mostly noted for its critical and downright dazzling chase sequence, this outing is actually a layered exercise in moving a […]Read more "The French Connection (1971)"
Re-released as Satan in Skirts, the 1944 picture Guest in the House has some distinctive noir traits but feels mostly like a parlour melodrama with elements of a psychological thriller. Lewis Milestone was the initial director, but he was replaced by John Brahm after a bout of appendicitis. He is a capable director, but it’s […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Guest in the House (1944)"
An amusing and smart-mouthed thriller, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is an amusing and often biting picture by Joseph Sargent. This 1974 movie is based on the 1973 novel of the same name by Morton Freedgood and features a screenplay by Peter Stone. Like other crime films of the era, it paints a […]Read more "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)"
Like most exploitation films, the moral waters of Death Wish are muddy. It’s tempting to view this 1974 vigilante revenge picture as an emboldened NRA fantasy, but there’s a little more to it than that. Directed by Michael Winner, there’s certainly a case to be made for the “good guy with a gun” mentality of […]Read more "Death Wish (1974)"
The fourth entry in the Underworld series is a breezy, hard-edged action horror picture that gets in and gets out in a mere 88 minutes. Underworld: Awakening is the slightest movie in the series. It’s also lean and mean, a striking and almost Nordic example of cinematic efficiency. It perhaps stands to reason that its […]Read more "Underworld: Awakening (2012)"
It probably shouldn’t work, but Underworld: Rise of the Lycans actually manages to be an entertaining if ludicrous prequel to the Underworld series. The 2009 film is directed by Patrick Tatopolous from a screenplay by Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain. The tale deals with the events before the vampire-Lycan war and runs as […]Read more "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)"
A gritty, two-fisted film noir, Kansas City Confidential is said to have at least partially inspired Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. The 1952 flick is directed by Phil Karlson with a screenplay by George Bruce and Harry Essex. Some have charted Kansas City Confidential as the genesis of several other Confidential movies from producer Edward Small.Read more "Film Noir Friday: Kansas City Confidential (1952)"
As the second entry in the series, 2006’s Underworld: Evolution certainly marks a progression from the 2003 original. It takes the compelling backstory, with its meticulous mythology, and opens things up considerably with a more satisfying finished product. This is bloody, sexy B-movie stuff, the exact sort of motion picture required for this kind of […]Read more "Underworld: Evolution (2006)"
There’s a lot of walking and movement in Underworld, the 2003 action horror movie directed by Len Wiseman, and in a lot of ways that’s the best of what this outing brings to the table. Sure, there’s a story about vampires fighting werewolves and there’s a pretty impressive mythology backing the whole thing. But for […]Read more "Underworld (2003)"
There’s a good mix of sour and sweet to be found in Mean Girls, the 2004 comedy from director Mark Waters. This is kind of an SNL film in a number of ways, with Lorne Michaels producing and Tina Fey penning the screenplay. It even features a horde of stars from the show, including Fey, […]Read more "Mean Girls (2004)"
How funny is it to watch someone get hit in the face with a dodgeball? It’s pretty funny, especially because it makes an entertaining sound as the rubber slaps against human flesh. It’s even funnier when the person falls down after getting hit. And perhaps it’s even funnier when that simple act is turned into […]Read more "DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004)"
Directed and co-written by Norman Foster and based on an original story by Sylvia Tate, Woman on the Run has some terrific on-location cinematography in San Francisco even if existing transfers don’t exactly do it justice. The 1950 motion picture has the benefit of a rabbit-quick pace and a fairly straightforward story, even if it […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Woman on the Run (1950)"
Directed by Ben Falcone, Tammy isn’t as bad as its reputation suggests and yet it still has trouble finding any footing. It contains an admirable working class quality in that it doesn’t rely on conventional standards to float its conventional road trip comedy clichés, but there’s still a lot of trouble in terms of cohesion […]Read more "Tammy (2014)"
Directed by Lloyd Bacon and featuring choreography by the great Busby Berkeley, 42nd Street is a scintillating backstage musical that builds to a tremendous set of production numbers for its last 20 minutes or so. Bacon’s picture was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in 1934 and features music by Harry Warren and Al Dubin.Read more "42nd Street (1933)"
Directed by George P. Cosmatos from a screenplay by Kevin Jarre, Tombstone is one of those audacious westerns that shouldn’t be as good as it is but gets by on its sheer nerve. It’s narrated by Robert Mitchum, for one, and features a lot of images of moustachioed men walking to drum-heavy, clanking music. It’s […]Read more "Tombstone (1993)"
Denzel Washington plays hero in Antoine Fuqua’s satisfying 2014 yarn The Equalizer. The film is somewhat based on the TV series from the mid-1980s of the same name and it marks the second collaboration between the director and star, with the first being 2001’s Training Day. This time around, Washington’s character has a different take […]Read more "The Equalizer (2014)"
Joseph H. Lewis’ crackling Gun Crazy is a shining example of how damn good a so-called B-movie can be. Based on a story by novelist MacKinlay Kantor that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, this 1950 movie was the omen to Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde and features a hot couple obsessed with guns, ammunition […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Gun Crazy (1950)"
Dracula Untold is another CGI-soaked film that purports to tell the origin story of a character everyone already knows the origin of. In this case, it’s the titular Dracula. Bram Stoker’s novel is about as far from the mind as possible, with director Gary Shore making his feature film debut by weaving together a story […]Read more "Dracula Untold (2014)"
Angst-filled and silly, Rob Cohen’s The Boy Next Door is an attempted throwback to the erotic thrillers of the 1990s. It certainly has the plot, with an older woman seduced by a younger man only to fall victim to his frightening nature. Like Christian Grey of the unfortunate Fifty Shades of Grey universe, The Boy […]Read more "The Boy Next Door (2015)"
The first sound film to win the Best Picture Oscar is The Broadway Melody. This 1929 musical is directed by Harry Beaumont and was actually one of the first musicals to feature a Technicolor sequence, even though that flash of colour has sadly since been presumed lost.Read more "The Broadway Melody (1929)"