Monday, July 16, 2012

Across the Pacific, 1942

Directed by John Huston
Written by Richard Macaulay
Starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet

Second-tier thriller/adventure fare with Bogie, Greenstreet, and Mary Astor all providing reasonable but not stunning performances. It was obviously sold as a kind of Maltese Falcon reunion (with both the cast and with Huston directing), but it's not nearly as good. Still, it's not a bad ride. 

Across the Pacific at IMDB.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Martian Child, 2007

Directed by Menno Meyjes
Written by Seth Bass and Jonathan Tolins (from the novelette by David Gerrold)
Starring John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Bobby Coleman

This one went under the radar, but you can understand why. It's a family story with some laughs that's going for the feel-good tugging-at-the-heartstrings feeling, and it basically succeeds, but you can see a lot of where it's going way too far out. (It may be that movie's predictability probably comes from the Hollywood clean-up of the actual story; no surprise, I suppose.) At the same time, if you know what you came for, you won't be disappointed: complaining about this movie's sentiment is like complaining about a James Bond movie for being all tuxedos, fights, cars, and beautiful women. John Cusack's performance has interesting depth and subtle moments; he demonstrates his acting skills if only because you'd guess he was an actual father from watching him in this movie.

Martian Child on IMDB.
Also, some related thoughts from me at geekiness(Josh Lubarr).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Magnificent Seven, 1960

Directed by John Sturges
Written by William Roberts
Starring Yul BrynnerSteve McQueen, and Horst Buchholz

Really good Western with fine performances all around. Purists may complain that it's watered-down Kurosawa, but it's a total pleasure just the same. I particularly enjoyed Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and Robert Vaughn. Also, see this for the cha-cha version of the music.

The Magnificent Seven on IMDB

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Macao, 1952

Directed by Josef von Sternberg
Written by Bernard C. Schoenfeld and Stanley Rubin
Starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell and William Bendix

It's a middling-to-pretty-good adventure/thriller/romance (with some songs, as well).

Robert Mitchum's in fine form as usual. Jane Russell is fine, though doesn't seem as tough or street smart as she's supposed to be. William Bendix is amusing in the early scenes, where he has more comedy. Brad Dexter's bad guy is a little bland. Apparently, von Sternberg was replaced as director by Nicholas Ray midway through and Ray had Mitchum and perhaps Russell write some of the dialogue; the better scenes are theirs according to them.

Macao on IMDB.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

2012, 2009

Directed by Roland Emmerich
Written by Roland Emmerich and Harald Kloser
Starring John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet

Apparently, Mark Twain said about Wagner's music, "It's not as bad as it sounds." And here's the funny thing about this movie: it's not as bad as it seems. First of all, John Cusack has the lead, and his performances range from good to awesome. He's not at the top of his range here, but he's still just fine. Sorry to say, but everyone else is sort of window dressing compared to the literally apocalyptic special effects -- the moral geologist, the amoral government guy, the ex-wife who never gave up on her first husband, the martyr President, the moral + love-interest first daughter, etc. Regarding those special effects, which are the point, they're just what you came for -- tidal waves that flip cruise ships, mega-tidal waves that flip aircraft carriers directly onto the White House, and the mega-uber-tidal waves that are taller than the Himalayas, etc. It's fine, and it's fun. I've actually seen it twice, which is more than I can say for a lot of movies (which shall remain nameless).

2012 on IMDB.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Kick-Ass, 2010

Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Starring Aaron Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse

This movie is an unusual mix of action, comedy, family drama, and teen coming-of-age story. The action is what you'd expect from something like this, and Chloë Grace Moretz does some pretty great work. The moments of comedy are pretty good, and the family drama and coming-of-age material is also decent. At the same time, there's something that's a little off-putting about the glibness with which the movie mixes the genres. If we are supposed to take these characters seriously, the movie is a bit dismissive of them; if they're just comic book characters (and this is based on a comic book and people are discussing comic books throughout the movie), then, then it's taking itself a little too seriously. I'd rather care about the characters, myself.

All that being said, it's not bad. But be prepared: some of the violence is realistic, both physically and emotionally.

Kick-Ass at IMDB.