RSS feed for John Frankensteiner
  • Pennies from Heaven

    Pennies from Heaven

    ★★★½

    A beautiful anomaly. Golden Age of Hollywood style musical infused with the '70s bummer sensibility, but starring Steve Martin in the 1980s. Nothing about this anachronistic mutant mishmash should work, but it somehow does. It's like the last dying breath of the New Hollywood '70s, barely surviving the Heaven's Gate fallout, hallucinating this oddity just before dying.

    Allow me to be at least the millionth person to say that Christopher Walken's scene steals the whole goddamned movie. The man tap dances out of his pants, he's a legend the likes that no amount of self parody will ever kill.

  • Breathless

    Breathless

    ★★★½

    The fact that I love the Richard Gere Breathless remake is one of the biggest plot twists of my life. I never saw this coming.

    Jim McBride took the basic premise and ran wild to create his own thing that feels as influential on the next decade's auteur sensibility as Godard. There's Tarantino's entire catalogue in this, Stone's Natural Born Killers, Lynch's Wild at Heart, Boyle's Trainspotting and countless others, really. Gere is completely out of control, the opposite of…

  • T.R. Baskin

    T.R. Baskin

    ★★★★½

    T.R. Baskin instantly charmed me and I knew this would be one of my movies, the type that you hold dear and you're not exactly sure why. It also had me asking why it wasn't higher regarded, but then I remember it's called T.R. Baskin.

    T.R. Baskin is actually the name of Candice Bergen, the titular character, and a wholly unique one. She's sort of a gender swapped archetype of the rebel without a cause, she's run off to Chicago…

  • The Laundromat

    The Laundromat

    ★½

    Let the record show that Bill from Bill and Ted made a much better movie about The Panama Papers than Steven Soderbergh, whose return from retirement is progressively revealing itself as a giant mistake.

    Soderbergh has always used style and gimmicks to state the obvious, but as the execution starts to slip, the gimmicks start to run out, his "Everything as a '60s heist film!" veneer starts to peel to reveal ... Well, whatever the fuck you'd call this; A…

  • Seventeen

    Seventeen

    ★★★★

    Seventeen deals with some serious issues (racism and death) and it handles it well, but its biggest success is in capturing the vibe of the high school hang; Being huddled in a small bedroom with five other people, eating junk food, sneaking in beer, calling a local radio station and being elated when the song comes on. It's like you've been transported to the different smell of a friend's house, trying to figure out whether their parents are cool or…

  • First Graders

    First Graders

    ★★★½

    Every few years our war propheteers try to convince us that America needs to start bombing Iran, for some mostly made up reason, and anybody that falls for that bullshit needs to watch any Kiarostami film dealing with Iranian school children and stop being a psychopath.

  • In Between

    In Between

    ★★½

    Robert Forster plays the Grim Reaper's assistant, putting three people in bardo in a mansion whose owners are on vacation as he tries to figure out (offscreen) where they're supposed to go (heaven, hell, back to Earth?), and the three talk about their lives, their deaths, and a bunch of other shit. It's not good, but there are moments. Needed more Robert Forster, to say the fucking least.

  • Handgun

    Handgun

    ★★★½

    In the midst of a slew of vigilante and/or rape revenge movies in the 1970s and 1980s, only a few of them were actually good. Handgun is one of the good ones.

    Karen Young is a young history teacher transplant in Texas, originally from Massachusetts, and she's having some trouble adjusting to the culture shock of the difference between those two states. A courtship by a local is the first thing to make her start to feel comfortable in her…

  • Seven Women, Seven Sins

    Seven Women, Seven Sins

    ★★★

    Uneven anthology (aren't they all?) about the seven deadly sins made by seven different female filmmakers, so Seven Women, Seven Sins is not just a clever title.

    After a bad story about Gluttony, Bette Gordon bats second with a story of Greed, and it's my second favorite segment, playing like a sort of upscale version of her film Variety. Luis Guzman shows up immediately just in case you were unsure who was directing.

    Maxi Cohen's segment on Anger is spectacular,…

  • Alligator

    Alligator

    ★★★

    We think of great movies made by the auteur under stressful conditions as miracles, but a low budget Jaws ripoff about a giant killer gator in a sewer being any good at all is a true miracle. Elevated by a better-than-it-had-to-be script by a young John Sayles and the steady hand of Lewis Teague, it all somehow works. The glue, the heart, the soul, the ability to kill a giant killer gator, though, is the great Robert Forster. He uses…

  • The Dead Center

    The Dead Center

    ★★★½

    Lo-fi William Blatty shit, exactly the type of horror I miss desperately.

    A suicide victim admitted to the morgue wakes up, walks to the psych ward, and retires to an empty bed for some R&R. Shane Carruth(!) is the doctor there and is tasked with trying to figure out who the fuck this person is. The coroner is also tasked with trying to figure out where a dead body disappeared to turning into a bit of a road trip procedural.…

  • Illusions

    Illusions

    ★★★★½

    With all due respect to Daughters of the Dust, which is great, I think Illusions is the best thing Julie Dash has ever made (that I've seen). It's a pipe bomb aimed at all the themes that seem to matter to Dash, hitting every last target, and doing so among genuinely beautiful moments done with masterful efficiency and craftsmanship. This is a 34 minute film that accomplishes more than most features ever made.

    "There are many stories to be told…