movie review Articles
Genre: Biographical Drama
Director: Jane Campion (Bright Star)
Starring: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson, Iris Churn, Kevin J. WilsonIn Brief: A long, fairly leisurely paced biographical drama is drawn from the autobiography of New Zealand writer Janet Frame — a woman whose withdrawn shyness caused her to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and confined in a mental hospital. Told in three parts, the film examines her story with the kind of insight and humanity associated with Campion, and offers rewards for viewers who can tap into the approach and pace.
Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Roy Del Ruth (Blessed Event)
Starring: Bette Davis, Pat O'Brien, Lewis Stone, Allen Jenkins, Hugh Herbert, Glenda Farrell, Ruth DonnellyIn Brief: An overlooked gem from the pre-code era, Bureau of Missing Persons (1933) is a rich "ripped from the headlines" melodrama that's played mostly for comedy by a cast that only Warner Bros. could assemble (while borrowing Lewis Stone from MGM). Pat O'Brien is his usual machine-gun talking self as a Bureau detective who falls for young Bette Davis as a woman who's clearly not on the level and may be a murderess. We also get a variety of other cases — some played for comedy, some for drama — all packed into a breakneck 72 minutes of pure entertainment.
Genre: Comedy Drama
Director: Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale)
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Michael Esper, Adam Driver, Charlotte D'AmboiseThe Story: The life and times of a 27-year-old dancer as she navigates an uncharted course through New York, life and relationships. The Lowdown: A sparkling, sweet, sad, funny film that might restore your faith in indie film — all built around a winning performance from Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the film).
Genre: Science Fiction
Director: J.J. Abrams (Star Trek)
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Benedict Cumberbatch, Karl Urban, Simon PeggThe Story: Kirk and the rest of the Enterprise crew of the are sent on a mission to deal with a terrorist out to destroy Starfleet. The Lowdown: The plotting gets clunky and the action could be handled more effectively, but the characters — improved from the first film — keep this Star Trek entry mostly worth watching.
Genre: Compilation Documentary
Director: Jack Haley, Jr.
Starring: Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Liza Minnelli, Debbie ReynoldsIn Brief: Riding in on the last of the late 1960s/early 1970s nostalgia wave, That's Entertainment positioned itself as a documentary about the Hollywood musical. In truth, it was a two-hour commercial for MGM that presented one seriously skewed version of film history. That's not to say the film doesn't include some pretty impressive (and more than a few clunker) musical numbers — all culled from the MGM library — but it presents a very small fragment of the movie musical genre as if it was the whole story.
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, J.K. Simmons, Marlon Wayans, Tzi Mab>In Brief: The Coen Brothers' much misunderstood reimagining of the 1955 Ealing Studios Comedy of the same name finds Tom Hanks taking on the role originated by Alec Guinness — and making it his own. That's much the same thing the Coens did with the film — adhering to the basics of the story about a group of not-very-adept criminals using the home of an unsuspecting little old lady as their base of operations, while creating something completely fresh and original. It deserves another chance.
Genre: Sci Fi
Director: Motoyoshi Oda
Starring: Hiroshi Koizumi, Setsuko Wakayama, Minoru Chiaki, Takashi ShimuraIn Brief: It's the first Godzilla sequel and, despite the fact that it was rushed to cash in on the original film so that it was in theaters within four months of Godzilla, it's still a reasonably good entry. It's also the last of the series that can be taken seriously — at least sort of seriously. As far as Japanese giant monster pictures are concerned, Godzilla Raids Again is something of an essential.
Genre: Psychological Horror
Director: David Mun
Starring: Rachel Marie Lewis, Christian Oliver, Marietta March, Jordan RhodesIn Brief: This year's feature film winner of the Twin Rivers Media Festival marks the first time a horror movie has taken the prize. But David Mun's House of Good and Evil isn't your typical horror film. Rather, this is psychological horror about a couple trying to get their lives — and marriage — back on track in the wake of a tragedy by moving into an isolated old house in the country. What happens there isn't at all what they expect. Not everything in the films works — it goes on too long and it cheats a bit — but it's a well-acted, good-looking film that plays up atmosphere more than shocks.
Director: Charles Walters (High Society)
Starring: Cary Grant, Samantha Eggar, Jim Hutton, John Standing, Miiko TakaIn Brief: Pack Memorial Library concludes its Cary Grant series with — appropriately enough — Grant's last film, Walk Don't Run. It's an agreeable enough remake of George Stevens' 1943 comedy The More the Merrier — moved from crowded wartime Washington to crowded Tokyo during the 1964 summer Olympics. The problem with it — from a box office standpoint — was that audiences wanted Cary Grant as a leading man, and what they got was Grant as a middle-aged businessman playing matchmaker for Jim Hutton and Samantha Eggar. It just wasn't a popular idea, though it plays better now as a lesser tier Grant picture.
You know it's a pretty dire week when the thing I'm most looking forward to is Fast & Furious 6. (And you can imagine how much it pains me to type those words.) There's not even a single new art title to brighten the weekend (no, last Friday's ActionFest offering, Java Heat, going to a full run doesn't count) — merely three mainstream movies I find it hard to get jazzed about. These are the conditions that prevail.
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