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24 November 2006 @ 03:49 am
Topper Returns (1941)

Directed by: Roy Del Ruth

Screenplay by: Gordon Douglas, Jonathan Latimer

Starring: Joan Blondell, Roland Young, Carol Landis, Eddie Anderson, Billie Burke

Genre: Black Comedy/Mystery

Rating: Unrated (G)

Synopsis: Topper Returns is the third in a trilogy of mysteries that find unwilling detective Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) at the whim of playful female ghosts trying to solve their murders.

This round, the ghost is Gail (Joan Blondell), who manages to put Topper's wife (Billie Burke) in a tizzy as she drags him along to find her body and killer. Hilarity ensues in this ensemble comedy, ending in the stereotypical locked room of suspects, only this time there's a ghost to mix up the works.

Review: The film, though often predictable, is fun, and perky Blondell, straight-man Young, and the rest of the cast give great performances, especially Eddie Anderson as Eddie, the Toppers' bumbling chauffeur.

Comments: Also featured is a young Patsy Kelly, who bears an eerie resemblance to Maggie Gyllenhaal.

12 June 2006 @ 07:42 pm
Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Directed by: Mervyn LeRoy
Written by: David Boehm, Erwin S. Gelsey, Avery Hopwood, Ben Markson, James Seymour
Music by: Harry Warren
Starring: Joan Blondell, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Warren William
Genre: Musical, Romantic Comedy
Rating: Unrated (PG)

Synopsis: The Depression makes life hard for everyone on the Great White Way. Luckily for a group of showgirls and their producer, a rich young composer, 'Brad,' (Dick Powell) is about to make their dreams come true by financing a new musical. But when he falls in love with the leading lady Polly (Ruby Keeler), his wealthy family is less than pleased, and Polly's friends are forced to concoct an elaborate scheme to teach Brad's blue-blooded brother (Warren William) a lesson about gold digging showgirls.

Review: Gold Diggers of 1933 is a near carbon-copy of 42nd Street, also 1933, but blows the feel-good Broadway romp out of the water.The depression-era film is not only remarkable for its incredible dance sequences, but also the entertaining and captivating characters who manage to hold equal footing with Busby Berkeley's excellent and innovative choreography. The story is a humorous, well-acted piece depicting class struggle, depression, and romance in a screwball comedy reminiscent of Noises Off (1992) or Jean Renoir's underappreciated masterpiece, La Règle du Jeu (1939).

Gold Diggers is an unmatchable showpiece of finely-crafter dance numbers that can be decribed as nothing less than breathtaking. The opening sequence, Ginger Rogers singing "We're in the Money," is a true showstopper, but is quickly surpassed by the later number "Pettin' in the Park," on of Berkeley's larger-than-life dance extravaganza. The most famous number in the film in undoubtedly the finale, "My Forgotten Man," which showcases hard life in the depression, and includes the famous images of dozens of marching soldiers marching in silhoutte across three stories of stage as Joan Blondell sings.

However even this stunning display is topped by the film's third big number, the "Shadow Waltz," which features a swarm of double-hooped skirts playing violins. As with many musicals of the era, much of this number is filmed from above the stage, offering a maginificent overheard view of the fractal-esque dance.

The choreography is taken to an unimaginable high when, as the lights on stage are extinguished, we see that the violins and bows are lined with neon tubes, creating an eerie orchestra of white instruments against the dark stage. The girls proceed to form many an innovative pattern from the lights, culminating in a giant violin, formed by the neon-outlines of two dozen actual violins. The effect is jawdropping at the least.

08 June 2006 @ 05:44 pm

We love you, Tony, and hope you will be in the movie
The following was announced between 9 PM and 10 PM.

According to Variety, FOX has come to an agreement with the producers of TV's serialized heroin, 24, to bring Jack Bauer to the big screen. It's unknown as of yet what the plot will be now that Mission Impossible 3: Rise of the Scientologists stole the plot of Season 5, but rumors have it that the story will take place in 24 hours--not in realtime--and might include America's home-grown hero paying a visit to 007's turf.

But for now we can only wait ... and wonder. Wonder how. Wonder when.
07 June 2006 @ 04:05 pm
And I don't mean that horrible MST'd cricket flick from 1957. I'm talking about the recent news that Ziyi Zhang will be starring in a remake of the 1954 film ... the Seven Samurai.

Oh no, they didn't!
01 June 2006 @ 04:14 pm
(from Variety)

Bryan Singer may not direct the remake of "Logan's Run" after all.

Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver want to start lensing the sci-fi pic this fall, which would mean Singer might end up shooting two tentpoles -- "Logan's" and a "Superman Returns" sequel -- back-to-back.

No one begrudges Singer for seeking a break from big-budget projects, although the filmmaker probably won't make an official decision either way about "Logan's Run" until "Superman Returns" bows in July.

Assuming Singer's take on the Caped Crusader is a crowd-pleaser, Warners plans to start shooting the sequel in the later part of 2007, with Singer again at the helmhelm.

Even if he doesn't direct "Logan's Run," Singer is still likely to play some sort of role and perhaps take a producer's credit. Silver has been developing the project for some time now, with input from Singer.

There's been buzz that "V for Vendetta" director James McTeigue might step in and helm "Logan's Run," but at this point it's just rumor.
17 March 2004 @ 03:29 pm

Clueless (1995)

Directed by: Amy Heckerling
Score by: Various
Starring: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Rating: PG-13

Synopsis: In this modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, Cher Horowitz (Silverstone) plays matchmaker with her friends, and only seems to start trouble. Meanwhile, she is unconciously developing a crush on her non-related step-brother (Rudd), and she must make a match for herself.

Review: Clueless is the embodiement of the cute movie, and possibly the only romantic comedy that is guaranteed not to elicit a groan. Amy Heckerling's usually formulaic plot is perfected in Clueless -- everything is clichéd in a perfect parody of itself. Young Silverstone and Murphy are excellent and adept at creating sincere characters from ridiculous stereotypes, and manage to turn their Valley Girl dialogue into meaningful conversation. Proof that Clueless is a finely-crafted film, and not just a fluke teen movie: the frequent use of David Bowie, Radiohead, and the Cranberries. A.
16 March 2004 @ 07:45 pm

Fargo (1996)

Directed by: Ethan and Joel Coen
Score by: Carter Burwell
Starring: William H Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi
Genre: Drama/Crime/Comedy
Rating: R

Synopsis: Fargo is the true story of a 1987 botched kidnap attempt. Jerry Lundegaard (Macy) has his rich wife kidnapped by a man (Buscemi) and his friend, in order to receive the ransom money from his father-in-law, but the plan goes awry, and three people are murdered. Officer Marge Gunderson (McDormand) must track down the killers.

Review: Fargo is a great movie. Somehow the Coen brothers turned what should have been a grisly murder story into a rather cute film. The inhabitants of Fargo, North Dakota, and various towns in Minnesota, as represented by the film, are a wonderful break from the traditional city dwelling or drawling rural population of most major films. The simple backgrounds of the major characters make them incredibly endearing. The lack of chaotic and overdone scenes lend to the "believability" of both the characters and the overall story.

There are some gimmicks, however, that do take away from the film. The Minnesota/North Dakotan accents are amusing, but when they interfere with the audience receiving of key lines, that is a problem. Also, despite the Coen brothers’ claim that the plot holes were "intentional," they do subtract from the flow of the film. Some scenes are added completely for comic relief, and have little or no relevance to the plot. A-.

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16 March 2004 @ 06:57 pm

Blade Runner (1982)

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Score by: Vangelis
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah
Genre: Action/Sci-Fi/Drama
Rating: R

Synopsis: In the year 2019, Replicants—genetically engineered humans—are illegal on earth. A small band of them, however, led by the ruthless Roy Batty (Hauer) make their way to earth in search of information, and ex- Blade Runner (detective) Rick Deckard (Ford) must stop them. The situation becomes complicated, however, when Deckard develops a relationship with another Replicant, Rachael (Young).

Review: Blade Runner has caused quite a rift between movie fans: either they hate it, finding it slow, boring, and dark, or the love it, "understanding" the sub-plots and subtlety of the story. Many films categorized as similar to Blade Runner seem to be "trying too hard" to create "meaning" that does not exist. Luckily, Blade Runner does not fit into this group. Unfortunately promoted as a Science-Fiction/Action film, Blade Runner is more concerned with social justice, human emotions, and moral values. While the futuristic aspect of Blade Runner would seem at first to detract from the believability of the story, from the very first frame it is clear that the dismal portrayal adds yet another layer of sentiment to this intricately designed film. Despite squabbles and vendettas on set, the acting is superb; the ensemble cast creates a host of characters that add new and different facets to an already complicated story. Even the cold-blooded villains are at all times sympathetic. A+.

Although it is assumed that Blade Runner, a science fiction film released on the heels of the Star Wars Trilogy, would use a multitude of special effects, that assumption is false. Although there are a few scale models for vehicles and buildings, the majority of what seem to be "special effects" are the work of talented set designers and elaborate matte paintings.
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15 March 2004 @ 03:57 pm

The Shining (1980)

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Score by: Wendy Carlos
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelly Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Rating: R

Synopsis: When Jack Torrence (Nicholson) agrees to act as custodian of the Overlook Hotel during the off-season, his family will never be the same again. Jack and his wife (Duvall) find it harder and harder to cope with each other in the isolated hotel, while their son, Danny (Lloyd) is developing a strange gift called The Shining.

Review: The Shining is probably director Kubrick's most mainstream and well known film. His centered directing stle is more noticeable here than in previous and later works. Color and sound play important roles in the overall atmosphere of the film, and Nicholson's Torrence is geniunely frightening. The use of repetitive imagery and lines ("All work," "Red Rum," the cascading blood) drive the horror into the unconcious. A.

There seems to be a lot of red, white, and blue imagery. Throughout almost the entire movie, Danny and Wendy are dressed entirely in rwb, and Jack isn't. And when Jack dresses in rwb at the end, they aren't anymore. Also there's a lot of red paint, white clothes, blue lighting, scene effects; the same sorts of tricks that Oliver Stone used in his movies.
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15 March 2004 @ 02:47 pm
Review: Die Hard is a stereotypical action film, filled with surprise-endings and clichéd twists and turns. Yet McTiernan is able to use this mold to create an incredibly enjoyable and comic film. Although the plot is trite, the film is given new energy by the fresh, memorable characters and consistantly sharp dialogue. Even the character actors are superb; Willis and Rickman are at their best [I hated Bruce Willis before I saw this film]. The direction and editing are wonderful: very simple and clean, with no slow or unnecessary scenes. Kamen's intermingling of Beethoven's Ninth with a traditional action score positively added to the atmospere of the film. A+.

Die Hard (1988)

Directed by: John McTiernan
Score by: Michael Kamen
Starring: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson
Genre: Action/Thriller
Rating: R

Synopsis: John McLaine (Willis), a New York City police officer visits his seperated wife (Bedelia) at a Christmas party in Los Angeles, and must save the guests from a terrorist group led by Hans Gruber (Rickman).