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  • 2010

    2010

    ★★★★

    The idea of anyone making a sequel to 2001, even Kubrick himself, is a no win situation. So Peter Hyams probably did the best thing possible and just made his own movie, one that isn't trying to be a Kubrick film but is just trying to be a realistic space adventure - something that's rare enough in film history of film to warrant appreciation. It's a great example of a mediocre filmmaking vs. great filmmaking, but the only place I…

  • Capricorn One

    Capricorn One

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Another connection between Kubrick and Hyams is the idea that Kubrick helped NASA fake the moon landing, and Hyams made a movie that explores just that (except it's a manned mission to Mars). Capricorn One is a great idea for a movie, but the execution is a mess. It's okay when it's a conspiracy thriller, but it also wants to be a survival film and a comic adventure too, and it strays so far from conspiracy that it just falls…

  • Dark Star

    Dark Star

    ★★★

    This cheapo student film has stood the test of time just by being clever and funny and well... cheap in the wake of 2001. It's spoofing 2001's ambition as much as its story, and stands on its own as an amusing look at what happens when a few people are stuck together in close quarters for too long.

  • The Master of Ballantrae

    The Master of Ballantrae

    ★★★

    Historical drama with Errol Flynn as a 1700s Scottish nobleman who joins the rebellion against King George and ends up hanging out with pirates. It gives you all the action and swordplay you want in an Errol Flynn movie, and it's all handled intelligently with a complex story, but it's nothing more than your routine Hollywood period film. Despite his age and illness, Flynn does a fine job.

  • Berlin Express

    Berlin Express

    ★★★★

    A fascinating Jacques Tourneur film made in the bombed out ruins of Frankfurt after World War II. A ragtag group of allied representatives (one from each nation, of course) go looking for a kidnapped German peacekeeper, and the movie gets into the nitty gritty of life in postwar Germany, with some documentary-styled narration to help explain things. Apparently is was the first Hollywood film to shoot in Germany after the war (including inside the Soviet zone), and the ruins of…

  • Easy Living

    Easy Living

    ★★★★

    Victor Mature plays football for the Kansas City Chiefs, although it's confusing because Kansas City is never mentioned, the helmets have ram's horns on them, and the credits thank the LA Rams. Chiefs logos are everywhere though (are they authentic?) so I can pretend this takes place in Kansas City. It's a good drama where Wilde learns he has a heart condition and has to consider quitting the game, and it doesn't rely on all the sports movie cliches (imagine…

  • Without Love

    Without Love

    ★★★

    This Hepburn/Tracy romantic comedy from a play by Philip Barry (The Philadelphia Story) has some excellent dialogue, but the threadbare story has no momentum. It starts out promising with some brilliant drunken comedy by a young Keenan Wynn, but there's almost no stakes to keep the plot wheels turning. Part of the problem is that Hepburn and Tracy are obviously mad for each other from the moment they meet (through a series of questionable coincidences), and there's nothing to break…

  • The Cassandra Crossing

    The Cassandra Crossing

    ★★★

    A man with a deadly virus boards a train in Switzerland, and it's up to Burt Lancaster to save Richard Harris, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, Martin Sheen, Lionel Stander, Lee Strasberg, and O. J. Simpson. It's a variation on the 70s disaster movie and has all the pros and cons of that genre's era, brutely made by brute director George Cosmatos (there's no way that guy made Tombstone!) It's better than some other disaster films of the 70s, but it's really only worth watching for Martin Sheen, and even that is iffy.

  • Convoy

    Convoy

    ★★★★

    I was surprised at how good this was considering all I was expecting was some 1970s nostalgia and corny trucker comedy, but it's a Peckinpah movie, and it does a great job of weaving in blue collar political themes, anti-authoritarianism, and showing police brutality as real and menacing all while having a laugh at the same time. It's more Sugarland Express than Smokey and the Bandit, and more genuine than both. Kris Kristofferson is perfectly cast as a hunky truck…

  • Quick Change

    Quick Change

    ★★★

    Bill Murray pulls a bank heist dressed as a clown. While the movie doesn't really work, you can tell it's trying, and it definitely has good moments. Many of those moments are in the bank itself, but the film loses lots of steam once it shifts from Clown Day Afternoon into a light-hearted and implausible variation of After Hours, and the chemistry between Murray and Geena Davis never really materializes, but it pulls everything together by the end and is entertaining.

  • Top Secret Affair

    Top Secret Affair

    ★★★★

    Susan Hayward's a big magazine publisher out to write a hit piece on flawless army general Kirk Douglas. A surprisingly enjoyable romantic comedy that only slightly digs at the 1950s fetish for all things military, with Douglas doing a great job at being funny without overplaying it. He even shows off his skill with a bongo board. Hayward makes a suitable sparring partner. It was originally a project for Bogart and Bacall, but Bogart was too sick to do it.

  • Un Flic

    Un Flic

    ★★★

    Melville's final film is a divisive affair, and I'm not really a fan. The story is so routine and the emotions so spare that it feels more like a scrapbook of French noir memoirs. That's not to say there aren't beautiful images (Delon and Deneuve are more models than actors here) but while I've been impressed with Melville's cinematography in the past, here it just looks like they stuck a blue filter on the camera and called it a day.…