Arabesque (1966 USA)

After the success of his Hitchcock homage “Charade”, director Stanley Donen made this very similar comedy-thriller with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren in the lead roles. While Peck and Loren are not quite as suited to this kind of thing as Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, they still make an attractive couple. If you thought “Charade” was complex, you’ll find “Arabesque” resembles a hundred shoelaces tangled into an impenetrable knot. The plot is not really meant to be followed – it merely exists as an excuse to stage one dazzling set piece after another. But it’s Arabesque’s wildly inventive cinematography which sets it apart from virtually every other action film. Its beautiful to behold. Quite a feast for the eyes. [Read more…]

The Train (1964 France/USA)

The concept of an ‘action’ film is the most curious, as many examples of the genre seem very static – even today where it seems that anything can be shown. A fight, car crash, explosion, etc is rehearsed, staged, simultaneously photographed and edited in a certain way that brings out and sometimes enhances the action. But, as the event is meticulously planned, rigorously controlled, sometimes or always re-shot, spontaneity cannot be part of the action, or plays a small part. The action may be impressive, but still seems unreal, too chaotic, the sense that the action is not integrated into the story and maybe even more importantly, the attitude and motivation of the characters. Most action films are far from achieving all this. [Read more…]

The Gauntlet (1977 USA)

This motion picture gets a bad rap for it’s implausible story line and outrageous shoot outs, but if you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, it’s a hard one to top. For the sixth time Clint Eastwood does his civic duty as the film’s director and leading man, here sharing the screen with live-in companion Sondra Locke. (This was before a real life drama where he changed the locks on the house they shared when she was away–years after this) The pasty Locke always struck me as a good looking woman, but only if you caught her at just the right angle. [Read more…]

Black Rain (1989 USA)

black-rain-3Made for 30 million bucks back when that sum would get you a seat at the top table. A place where the big machers compare the size of their mother’s mikvahs. This urban noir, photographed by Jan De Bont (director of “Speed”) makes Osaka look like the futuristic city in Ridley Scott’s other film, “Blade Runner.”  Same traffic and congestion of heavily populated streets, steam and people. Through De Bont’s lens the city is dark even during the day. Michael Douglas even dresses like another actor did in “Blade Runner.” [Read more…]

War Of The Worlds (1953 USA)

the-war-of-the-worlds-1953-film-images-27b04727-755e-41e3-af8d-736bf4e1264H.G.Wells’ The War Of The Worlds remains a terrifying novel, and 2 adaptations of it have justifiably passed into popular culture, the Orson Welles 1938 radio show which convinced many Americans that creatures from Mars actually were invading Earth & Jeff Wayne’s 1978 musical album, which still holds up today. Then there’s this 1950s cinematic version which blows away Spielberg’s waste- of- time- and- money 2005 version. *Spoilers ahead* [Read more…]

The Killing (1956 USA)

killingThis film is not only Stanley Kubrick’s first acclaimed picture, but it is also credited with inventing the concept of non-linear story telling for the film industry. More recent flicks that have used this technique are Pulp Fiction and The Usual Suspects. A lot of noirs from the 50’s can be extremely slow and, to be frank, boring. But this didn’t bore me for a second. In Kubrick’s later films he tends to pad out the narrative, but here he keeps it economical. [Read more…]

The Outfit (1973 USA)

FeelKhkJohn Flynn’s The Outfit starts with a weary, somewhat disgruntled guy getting let out of prison. Do these sorts of films start anywhere else? We like to see progression; the rather perverse notion of observing someone climb their way, immorally at that, through life by way of hijinks. I think that notion of bad vs. bad, or immoral vs. immoral is what draws us to these films. In this case, the subject matter is Donald Westlake’s 1963 novel; while the lead character on the verge of undertaking a dangerous journey is Robert Duvall’s Earl Macklin. [Read more…]

The Getaway (1972 USA)

getaway72sm-cl1b-jktSick and tired of new releases I can’t get through 45 minutes of, I went back to this classic. What a breath of fresh air this heist/chase film turned out to be. At two hours and three minutes, it’s remarkably well paced and tension filled – it never falters. One of the many things that gives 1972’s The Getaway the edge over its now almost-forgotten 1994 remake is that, unlike Alec Baldwin, Steve McQueen doesn’t act like a movie star – he is a movie star. From the days when cool was what you were, not what you wore or owned. [Read more…]

Deep Blue Sea (1999 USA)

saffron burrows“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil. For thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Because I carry a big stick and I’m the meanest m****r f****r in the valley! Two sharks down, Lord! One demon fish to go! Can I get an Amen?” Thus spake L.L. Cool J. With so many shark films out there, there needs to be something that sets a flick apart from the rest. For as many good points that Deep Blue Sea achieves, its mediocrities end up sinking a lot of good will. Director Renny Harlin knew that audiences wanted several things: 1) good-looking sharks 2) creative shark attacks 3) good-looking actors… [Read more…]

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972 USA)

conquest2No, this is not an Isis recruitment video although it looks like one with the brightly coloured boiler suits on display. In 1961, writer Rod Sterling was asked “what he’d most like to write about next?” He responded: “I’d like to do a definitive study of segregation, from the Negro’s point of view.” Several years later Sterling would write the screenplay for “Planet of the Apes”, soon turned into a 1968 groundbreaking movie. A “what if the shoe were on the other foot?” parable, the film finds a chauvinistic American astronaut stranded on a planet ruled by apes. Here he’s forced to experience racial discrimination of a type once reserved for blacks. [Read more…]

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