The upheaval of the 1970s is the backdrop for Sidney Lumet’s brilliant Dog Day Afternoon, a 1975 crime drama that is as much about the personal as it is about the political. The picture features a screenplay by Frank Pierson and is based on P.F. Kluge’s 1972 Life magazine article “The Boys in the Bank,” […]Read more "Dog Day Afternoon (1975)"
It’s tempting to consider The Mask of Dimitrios a relative of The Maltese Falcon. Both feature twisty plots full of deception. Both feature the cinematography of Arthur Edeson. And both feature Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, two spectacular character actors who always pair well together.Read more "Film Noir Friday: The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)"
Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers is at once a scintillating form of entertainment and a dazzling historical document. The 1966 motion picture was shot on location by cinematographer Marcello Gatti and features a somewhat subdued score by Ennio Morricone, with the screenplay by Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas.Read more "The Battle of Algiers (1966)"
Robert Hamer’s Kind Hearts and Coronets is the sort of dry, dark comedy that isn’t made very much anymore. The 1949 picture stands starkly as a sort of exercise in pursed politeness, where lines are uttered with cold intellectualism and character operate in outlandish but utterly “civilized” ways.Read more "Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)"
A mean and brutal piece of work, Sin City introduces a hermetically sealed universe full of rain and blood. This 2005 film is directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller and is based on the graphic novel of the same name, specifically Miller’s The Hard Goodbye, The Big Fat Kill and That Yellow Bastard.Read more "Sin City (2005)"
The popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl goes without saying. The 2003 feature may be based on the Disney theme park attraction of the same name, but Gore Verbinski’s jam-packed blockbuster is full of enough padding to lift a Jolly Roger.Read more "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)"
The mythology of the Ip Man series has been paramount to Wilson Yip, but things are pushed in an exceptionally melodramatic direction with the third entry. 2015’s Ip Man 3 is decidedly sentimental and carries all the inflated wallop of a soap opera, complete with children in peril and enough domestic drama to fill a […]Read more "Ip Man 3 (2015)"
André de Toth directs Dark Waters, a 1944 film noir that traffics in the marshes and endless murk of Louisiana. The picture is based on a Saturday Evening Post serial by Francis and Marian Cockrell and features a screenplay by Marian Cockrell, Joan Harrison and The Suspect scribe Arthur Horman.Read more "Film Noir Friday: Dark Waters (1944)"
Wilson Yip’s Ip Man 2 has many of the same goals as it 2008 predecessor. Its affection for the myth of its titular character is apparent, as it its desire to stand for the dignity of its characters. This 2010 picture is also fashioned as a tight, artistic martial arts epic and a historical stamp […]Read more "Ip Man 2 (2010)"
Wilson Yip’s Ip Man is compelling in that it has many goals. It first wants to cement the mythology of the titular character, Bruce Lee’s teacher and the grandmaster of the Wing Chun martial art. It wants to serve as a reminder of civility and a certain standard of morality. And it wants to unload […]Read more "Ip Man (2008)"
I don’t often break with the admittedly rigid format of this site to offer personal greetings, but 2016 has been a different (and difficult year) for many. I want to extend my holiday wishes to everyone who’s stopped by this humble site, anyone who’s bothered to leave a comment or a like and those of […]Read more "Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays"
Lewis Jackson’s Christmas Evil, originally released as You Better Watch Out, is a bizarre and chilling Christmas horror picture. Jackson’s screenplay is unexpectedly careful in its unwrapping of Christmas mythology, social concerns, psychological problems, and economic matters.Read more "Christmas Evil (1980)"
Given the catastrophic acid bath that has been 2016, it may be hard for some to get into the holiday spirit. 1997’s Jack Frost may be just the ticket, with its derision and weirdness and general disregard for Christmas cheer.Read more "Jack Frost (1997)"
The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause is a tepid and troubling movie that brims with a special kind of banality, even for a Christmas feature. Michael Lembeck is again in the director’s chair, while the screenplay by Ed Decter and John J. Strauss is less busy but less entertaining than what was offered in […]Read more "The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause (2006)"
Tim Allen dons the red and white suit again for The Santa Clause 2, the 2002 sequel to the 1994 original. This outing is directed by Michael Lembeck from a busy by-committee screenplay. It is filled to the brim with stuff and often suffers under the burden of its multiple plots, especially when the movie […]Read more "The Santa Clause 2 (2002)"
John Pasquin directs The Santa Clause, a Christmas movie that from Disney that sits just on the edge of true curiosity. This 1994 film sprouted two sequels and plunked Tim Allen and his Home Improvement trappings in the driver’s seat, but it’s really more interesting to consider from an adult perspective.Read more "The Santa Clause (1994)"
Jonathan Taylor Thomas makes for a grating protagonist in the 1998 Christmas comedy I’ll Be Home for Christmas. The film is directed by Arlene Sanford from a screenplay by Michael Allin, Tom Nursall and Harris Goldberg. It has the usual Walt Disney Pictures trappings of the era, including a wonky sense of what’s cool.Read more "I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998)"
Those with an aversion to schmaltz should steer well clear of Fred Claus, a 2007 Christmas movie so loaded with unstable sweetness it’s nearly unbearable. On the other hand, there’s somewhat of a remarkable quality to the David Dobkin comedy that suggests magic in the David Fogelman and Jessie Nelson screenplay and several surprises from […]Read more "Fred Claus (2007)"
One of the more objectionable modern Christmas movies is the 2008 endeavour Four Christmases. This Yuletide rom-com is directed by Seth Gordon from a screenplay Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas, and Scott Moore. It is a vehicle for the homespun services of stars Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and it has a lot […]Read more "Four Christmases (2008)"
As Christmas movies go, Christmas with the Kranks is almost doggedly awful. This 2004 comedy is based on the 2001 John Grisham novel Skipping Christmas, with a screenplay by Chris Columbus. Joe Roth directs without an ounce of anything artistic, while cinematographer Don Burgess utilizes a conventional style.Read more "Christmas with the Kranks (2004)"