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  • Ghost Story 1981

    ★★★ Rewatched 14 Jul, 2014

    Once the relatively amusing novelty wears off, of seeing a bunch of legendary old people either suffer from night sweats and scream "NOOOOOO!" in the middle of the night; or die some kind of rather hilarious grisly death... What you're left with is the movie itself.

    As far as old school campfire tales go, this one is not too bad. John Irvin is famous for directing a bunch of testosterone-fueled, brawny, violent and not particularly stylish action movies of the…

  • The Call 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 14 Jul, 2014

    And here's a neat, nerve-jangling little thriller... It's high concept, sure, but manages to function very effectively despite gimmicky trappings.

    That's mainly because the central premise is credible enough and the leads are extremely likable.

    Halle Berry doesn't make particularly good movies very often. So when one comes along, you kind of sit up and notice. And she does some good acting here...pitched at just the right level of anxiety to keep you bolted to the edge of your seat.…

  • When Time Ran Out... 1980

    Rewatched 14 Jul, 2014

    Irwin Allen's final theatrical production is this excruciating all-star idiocy in which Paul Newman tries to lure Jacqueline Bissett, William Holden and a bunch of other people away from the destruction of a volcano.

    Released in 1980... But the silly Lalo Schiffrin musical score, the TV visuals and pretty unimpressive special effects make it seem like it was made in the early seventies.

    Allen's films are famous for the formulaic consistency. But at least some of those other films offered…

  • The Morning After 1986

    ★★★ Rewatched 13 Jul, 2014

    It's always interesting to see filmmakers working outside of their wheelhouse. In this case, Sidney Lumet abandons his customary street level grit for the tacky glamour of Los Angeles in this intriguing curio that is so of its time, I'm sure it was made a part of those "I love the 80s!" bargain bin DVD "collections" you see at supermarket impulse buy areas.

    The eightiesness of it is evident right from the start... The very first scene, which shows Jane…

  • Dark Night of the Scarecrow 1981

    ★★★★ Rewatched 10 Jul, 2014

    And here's a classic gem you really should see if you haven't already.

    I guess not everyone has the childhood memory of experiencing this on a Sunday night TV airing on CBS. That special under the covers with a flashlight feeling associated with so many of our pleasures growing up... That tingly feeling one is sure to experience - even as coming to it years later, as an adult...and maybe even more so for that reason.

    For someone coming in…

  • Touch and Go 1986

    ★★★ Rewatched 10 Jul, 2014

    In the annals of forgotten 80s movies, this is probably the most forgotten of the bunch.

    And maybe it shouldn't be.

    For one thing, it's an early Michael Keaton vehicle that showed him flexing some serious leading man charisma and solid dramatic chops, even though the film was sold as a romantic comedy.

    But the comedy is light. And what we have instead is a standard melodrama about a shallow jock who slowly and predictably develops a change of heart…

  • Against All Odds 1984

    ★★★ Watched 09 Jul, 2014

    Part noir thriller, part romantic melodrama... And the two halves mix into one overwrought, histrionic whole that epitomizes the slick, soulless era in which the film was made.

    Nowadays, the movie is probably remembered mainly for the Phil Collins hit that bears its name. I mean, it's hard to forget that video - which begins with Collins' mouth superimposed over a Mayan mask. You watch that and go: "Huh?" ... Well, it relates to the movie because of an extended…

  • The Maddening 1996

    Watched 08 Jul, 2014

    And this one is aptly named. I mean... I'm not entirely sure why it's called The Maddening based on its plot - other than that it's about insane people behaving insanely - bit it's apparently based on a novel called Playmates... And I suppose the title was changed so that people wouldn't assume this was a Skinemax romp starring Shannon Tweed.

    And so... It is a horror film. And it is definitely a maddening experience to sit through it.


  • What About Bob? 1991

    ★★★★ Rewatched 02 Jul, 2014

    And here's a classic comedy that harkens back to a time when comedies like this were actually made. Back in the 80s and 90s, studios would put money and effort towards this... Casting adult men in their 40s to headline a goofy movie about mental illness. Why, just the year before, the high concept Crazy People had come out, starring the 54-year-old Dudley Moore. And, while that movie was far from being a hit, this one was.

    Well... I've gone…

  • Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014

    ★★ Watched 26 Jun, 2014

    There are things to like, I suppose, in this interminable summer blockbuster from the Michael Bay dream factory. But it's a little like the bit of inspirational twaddle that Mark Wahlberg spouts at one point to defend the human race. He says something to the effect of: "You have to sift through the junk to find the treasures" or whatever he says.

    In any case, it's a stupid line. And this is a stupid movie.

    You sort of realize that…

  • Despicable Me 2010

    ★★★ Watched 15 Jun, 2014

    This is not quite at the level of Pixar... In the annals of recent animated fare, it's somewhere between, say, Shrek and Wreck it Ralph.

    What it has going for it is an eagerness to please, and some reasonably engaged vocal performances from Steve Carrell, Russell Brand and others. As well as unique character designs and an infectious vibe.

    But there's a general cynicism and bite suggested by the premise and early scenes that the film never quite gets to...settling…

  • Maleficent 2014

    ★★★ Watched 05 Jun, 2014

    I suppose this movie's entire reason for being is someone, somewhere looked at a picture of Angelina Jolie and said something along the lines of: "Holy Shit! ... She looks just like..." And there you have it.

    And then, of course, it follows that this concept lines up with Disney and their plan to transform their classic animated fare into big budget, live action "gritty" reimaginings.

    For something so apparently contrived into existence, this movie gets by on more than…