Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners has everything it needs to be a staggering thriller, from some good performances to Roger Deakins’ stunning cinematography. Somehow, however, this 2013 motion picture winds up falling well shy of the excellence it so clearly reaches for. It is bursting at the seams, with its 153-minute runtime packed to the rafters with […]Read more "Prisoners (2013)"
Tommy Lee Jones’ The Homesman is an unflinching western and that’s a damn good thing. This is a movie that explores the ruthlessness of life on the American frontier, about how social conventions can become traps and necessities at the same time. Based on Glendon Swarthout’s 1988 novel of the same name, this 2014 film […]Read more "Western Wednesday: The Homesman (2014)"
Directed by Mike Flanagan, Oculus is that rarest of breeds: a modern horror movie that doesn’t push things too far. The 2013 release isn’t just a springboard for a franchise and it’s not merely filled with jump scares and things that go bump in the night. It contends with a truly psychological matter and deals […]Read more "Oculus (2013)"
It’s tempting to discard Locke as gimmickry and move on, but cinematic cynicism is for the birds. This 2013 motion picture is written and directed by Steven Knight and features Tom Hardy in an absolutely stellar performance. The whole film, for the most part, takes place inside a car as Hardy’s character drives to London.Read more "Locke (2013)"
Director Otto Preminger reunites with Laura stars Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney in his 1950 noir Where the Sidewalk Ends. Cinematographer Joseph LaShelle is also on board, crafting a world that stands in visual contrast to the elegance of the 1944 classic. And the Ben Hecht script, based on the William L. Stuart novel Night […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)"
Helmed by Belgian director Michaël R. Roskam, The Drop is a curious but thrilling crime picture. The 2014 movie features a screenplay by Dennis Lehane and is based on his 2009 short story Animal Rescue. The script, coupled with the careful cinematography of Nicolas Karakatsanis, weaves a convoluted tale of cold and hot moments. The […]Read more "The Drop (2014)"
The first in a line of seven westerns Audie Murphy made with producer Gordon Kay, Hell Bent for Leather is fairly decent stuff. The 1960 film is directed by genre stalwart George Sherman, plus it features the lovely Felicity Farr and B-movie baddie Stephen McNally. It’s based on a book by Ray Hogan and features […]Read more "Western Wednesday: Hell Bent for Leather (1960)"
Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront is a classic of American cinema, a quintessential showcase of tremendous performances and a stunning portrait of the struggles of trying to do the right thing in a world gone wrong. This 1954 picture was a deeply personal project for Kazan and it came to be seen as a partial […]Read more "On the Waterfront (1954)"
Directed by Alfred L. Werker and Anthony Mann, He Walked by Night is an early example of the police procedural. This film noir features the impeccable cinematography of John Alton, whose balancing of dark and light provides the semi-documentary style with a certain beauty. Despite the straightforward punch of He Walked by Night, the night […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: He Walked by Night (1948)"
Directed by Steve Pink, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is the grime at the bottom of the comedy barrel. This 2015 sequel to the 2010 original is an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, with nary a life to be found. It’s also endlessly self-indulgent and nearly drowns every joke in endless riffing. There’s no […]Read more "Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)"
“I feel like I’m a million years old,” says Dana Andrews’ drifter in the underrated noir Fallen Angel. Directed by Otto Preminger, this 1945 motion picture is about obsession and a down-on-his-luck lead who can’t quite figure life out. Andrews, who was in Preminger’s brilliant Laura a year prior, brings a pleasing collage of complications […]Read more "Film Noir Friday: Fallen Angel (1945)"
A relatively useless undertaking, the 2014 bro-cop comedy Let’s Be Cops leans heavily on its mindless formula to get by. This is paint-by-numbers stuff, the sort of hollow filmmaking that blends broad comedy with violence and comes up with an obligatory happy ending. There are no real consequences and the 30-something leads learn their compulsory […]Read more "Let’s Be Cops (2014)"
Before John Wayne became a household name, he played in a string of lesser known motion pictures in the late 1920s and early 1930s. One such outing can be found in D. Ross Lederman’s The Range Feud, a 1931 movie that has the honour of being his first western after his first starring role in […]Read more "Western Wednesday: The Range Feud (1931)"
A twisted and twisting tale of obsession and murder, Otto Preminger’s Laura is film noir dynamite. This 1944 motion picture was nominated for five Oscars, including Best Director and Best Supporting Actor. It eventually scooped the award for Best Cinematography thanks to the scintillating work of Joseph LaShelle.Read more "Film Noir Friday: Laura (1944)"
An infuriating and lazy exercise in mechanical comedy, Hot Pursuit is an awful movie. Directed by Anne Fletcher with a screenplay by John Quaintance and David Feeney, this 2015 flick attempts to brand itself as a female-centric Midnight Run. It purports to be some sort of opposites-attract buddy comedy, with Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon […]Read more "Hot Pursuit (2015)"
Based on the 2009 novel of the same name by James Dashner, The Maze Runner is yet another entry in the dystopic young adult genre carving its way through cinemas. This 2014 picture is directed by Wes Ball with an intended sequel set for release in September of 2015. A final film in the series […]Read more "The Maze Runner (2014)"
Ishirō Honda’s Godzilla is arguably one of the most important Japanese films of all time. While today, representations of the stomping prehistoric monster have been rebooted to become synonymous with fun displays of mass destruction, the 1954 original was part ludicrous monster flick and part catharsis for a shattered country.Read more "Godzilla (1954)"
Mel Brooks reaches into the grab-bag for History of the World, Part I, an uneven but funny anthology comedy that features a slew of comic talent and a range of historical eras. The 1981 motion picture was written, produced and directed by Brooks, but at times it feels like it’s stretched too thin with a […]Read more "History of the World, Part I (1981)"
Blood stains the snow in Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence, a 1968 western that is as bleak as its uncharacteristic locale. It explores the fragile formation of justice in untamed lands, pitting a mute gunslinger against a squad of callous bounty hunters. The action is underscored by Ennio Morricone’s score, which is chillingly forthright.Read more "The Great Silence (1968)"
Ida Lupino directs The Hitch-Hiker, a 1953 film noir based on a screenplay she penned with her husband Collier Young. The script was based on a story by Daniel Mainwaring, but Hollywood blacklisting and other complications kept him from getting screen credit.Read more "Film Noir Friday: The Hitch-Hiker (1953)"