Monday, August 18, 2014

Huh?nt: "Haunt" (2014)



It's another turn at the age old haunted house story, but "Haunt" does answer a very pressing question- whatever happened to Ione Skye?

The Morello family has seen it's share of tragedy. Three of their children die, and when the husband is finally killed by a strange paranormal being, Janet Morello (Jacki Weaver, looking just like Sally Struthers) leaves her giant isolated mansion. The Asher family moves in (Ione Skye relegated to the Mom role), and 18 year old Evan (Harrison Gilbertson) claims the cavernous attic bedroom once occupied by now dead teen Matthew Morello (Sebastian Barr). Evan and his two sisters begin noticing odd things in the house right away. Evan stumbles upon a beaten Sam (Liana Leberato), who is inexplicably drawn to the house, and the two begin a romantic and sexual relationship right under Evan's overly permissive parents' noses. There is a small room just off Evan's bedroom that seems to be the center of creepy activity, although Evan's younger sister Anita (Ella Harris) also finds time to snag an imaginary friend.

Evan and Sam conveniently discover an Electronic Voice Phenomenon machine in the small room, a machine that the original owner of the house was using when he was killed, and the two try it out. Soon, we discover the source of the paranormal activity in the house, and despite a surprising ending, the film makers leave us with many questions unanswered.

They also leave us with a mediocre horror film that does have some good moments. The cold Utah location is outstanding. However, Andrew Barrer's screenplay is padded with some deathly dull dialogue between Evan and Sam about the hauntings. I don't know if he was trying to recreate what was going through the viewers' minds, but much of it leads nowhere. Director Carter makes good use of the jump scare, and adding little pieces of terror in amongst the big house set. The film is already brief, and I wish more work had been done on the screenplay, though. I can't help but come back to what a mess it is, and wonder why no one questioned the leaps in logic, obvious plot turns, and an ending that makes you start your questions with a "yeah, but...".

"Haunt" is purely average, but with enough atmosphere to slightly recommend it. (* * *) out of five stars. Watch this movie now!: Haunt

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

1916-1939 Films Ranked By Year

1916
AVERAGE
Fantomas: In the Shadow of the Guillotine (6/10) Louis Feuillade

1917
BELOW AVERAGE
The Heart of Texas Ryan (3/10) E.A. Martin

1919
VERY GOOD
Broken Blossoms (8/10) D.W. Griffith

1920
AVERAGE
The Doll (6/10) Ernst Lubitsch
I Don't Want to Be a Man (5/10) Ernst Lubitsch
Headin' Home (5/10) Lawrence C. Windom

1927
VERY GOOD
Metropolis (8/10) Fritz Lang

1928
EXCELLENT
The Circus (10/10) Charles Chaplin

1930
BELOW AVERAGE
Anna Christie (4/10) Clarence Brown

1932
GOOD
Grand Hotel (7/10) Edmund Goulding

1933
EXCELLENT
The Invisible Man (10/10) James Whale

1934
GOOD
The Trail Beyond (7/10) Robert N. Bradbury
AVERAGE
The Star Packer (6/10) Robert N. Bradbury
Treasure Island (5/10) Victor Fleming

1935
EXCELLENT
The Bride of Frankenstein (10/10) James Whale
The 39 Steps (10/10) Alfred Hitchcock

1936
GOOD
The Mandarin Mystery (7/10) Ralph Staub
AVERAGE
General Spanky (5/10) Gordon Douglas, Fred C. Newmeyer
Yellowstone (5/10) Arthur Lubin

1938
BAD
The Terror of Tiny Town (1/10) Sam Newfield

1939
AVERAGE
At the Circus (5/10) Edward Buzzell

1940-1949 Films Ranked By Year


1940
AVERAGE
Chamber of Horrors (6/10) Norman Lee
BELOW AVERAGE
The Ape (3/10) William Nigh


1941
AVERAGE
Gangs, Inc. (5/10) Phil Rosen



1942
AVERAGE
Cat People (6/10) Jacques Tourneur
Lady Gangster (6/10) Robert Florey
Baby Face Morgan (6/10) Arthur Dreifuss
BELOW AVERAGE
The Spoilers (3/10) Ray Enright
The Living Ghost (3/10) William Beaudine


1943
VERY GOOD
The Night Has Eyes (8/10) Leslie Arliss
AVERAGE
The Seventh Victim (5/10) Mark Robson
BELOW AVERAGE
Phantom of the Opera (3/10) Arthur Lubin
BAD
Ghosts on the Loose (1/10) William Beaudine


1944
BAD
Go Down, Death! (2/10) Spencer Williams


1945
VERY GOOD
The Picture of Dorian Gray (8/10) Albert Lewin


1946
EXCELLENT
My Darling Clementine (10/10) John Ford
AVERAGE
Abilene Town (5/10) Edwin L. Marin
BAD
Boom in the Moon (1/10) Jaime Salvador


1948
EXCELLENT
The Search (10/10) Fred Zinnemann
VERY GOOD
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (8/10) Charles Barton
BELOW AVERAGE
The Paleface (4/10) Norman Z. McLeod


1949
VERY GOOD
The Man from Colorado (8/10) Henry Levin

1950-1959 Films Ranked By Year


1950
EXCELLENT
All About Eve (9/10) Joseph L. Mankiewicz
VERY GOOD
The Third Man (8/10) Carol Reed
The Men (8/10) Fred Zinnemann
GOOD
Born Yesterday (7/10) George Cukor
Cinderella (7/10) Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske
AVERAGE
King Solomon's Mines (6/10) Compton Bennett, Andrew Marton
Destination Moon (6/10) Irving Pichel


1951
EXCELLENT
Angels in the Outfield (9/10) Clarence Brown
VERY GOOD
His Kind of Woman (8/10) John Farrow
BAD
Racket Girls (1/10) Robert C. Detrano


1953
VERY GOOD
The Robe (8/10) Henry Koster
GOOD
Hondo (7/10) John Farrow
BELOW AVERAGE
Man in the Attic (4/10) Hugo Fregonese
The Bigamist (3/10) Ida Lupino
BAD
Captain John Smith and Pocahontas (2/10) Lew Landers
Glen or Glenda (1/10) Edward D. Wood, Jr.


1954
EXCELLENT
Animal Farm (9/10) Joy Batchelor, John Halas
The Glenn Miller Story (9/10) Anthony Mann
AVERAGE
Creature from the Black Lagoon (6/10) Jack Arnold
BAD
Jail Bait (1/10) Edward D. Wood, Jr.


1955
BAD
Bride of the Monster (1/10) Edward D. Wood, Jr.


1956
GOOD
The Ladykillers (7/10) Alexander Mackendrick
BELOW AVERAGE
The Bad Seed (3/10) Mervyn LeRoy


1957
VERY GOOD
The Incredible Shrinking Man (8/10) Jack Arnold
AVERAGE
The True Story of Jesse James (5/10) Nicholas Ray
BELOW AVERAGE
Pharaoh's Curse (3/10) Lee Sholem
BAD
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1/10) Gene Fowler, Jr.


1958
AVERAGE
Attack of the Puppet People (6/10) Bert I. Gordon


1959
VERY GOOD
The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (8/10) Charles Guggenheim, John Stix
BELOW AVERAGE
The Angry Red Planet (4/10) Ib Melchior
BAD
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1/10) Edward D. Wood, Jr.

With Friends Like These, Who Needs a Prostitute?: "My Best Friend's Wife" (2001)



I am very nearly the same age as the two main caricatures in the film "My Best Friend's Wife," and I admit to thinking about casual sex in the same way they do. Generation X came of age during the AIDS crisis, which put a damper on all the hippie free-love and swingin' we observed in the 1970's. Best friends ad man Steve (John Stamos) and attorney Eric (Daniel London) resort to the same situation the characters in "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" did, with shallow and predictable results.

Shallow and predictable can describe our "heroes" as well as this film. There is an element of sleaze that permeates every scene, an "eww" quotient that makes you want to shower after every plot turn. Eric constantly jokes about swapping wives with Steve, but the joke is never funny to the characters or the viewer. Eric is married to the stunning Ami (the stunning Meredith Salenger), who wants to start a family. Steve is married to Claire (Tara Westwood), an underwritten character who works with Eric. After losing out on a dream job, Steve decides Eric's dumb idea deserves practice as the men already seem to be in the throes of a midlife crisis while only in their early 30's. The wives act appropriately outraged, but eventually come around based on the flimsiest of reasoning (this was written by two men). After the couples swap, there is naturally fallout despite the best laid plans, and the decades-old friendships begin to suffer.

Of the four main performers, Salenger comes off best because she is the last to cave and the most rounded character. She is given two clicheed overbearing parents in the form of Jessica Walter and Tony Roberts, but finally agreeing to the swap so she can start having babies and show up her parents makes little sense. These characters are supposed to be urbane, and the plot "zany," but bits like Steve doing an ad agency-style pitch to his wife about why they should do this falls flat. Director Finelli's use of fadeouts in some scenes made me think I was watching a dirty network television movie with the commercials edited out. The odd loud musical score is all wrong, and I wished for more scenes with Steve and Eric's college roommate Chuck (Bill Sage), a bachelor who sleeps with younger women based on whether they know who the Fonz is.

"My Best Friend's Wife" is a small film, and a small-minded one. It's characters annoy from the first few scenes, and major marital issues like infidelity are played for awkward laughs. I simply did not like these people. Now if you will excuse me, it's time for that shower. (*) out of five stars. Get this movie now!: My Best Friend's Wife

Thursday, August 7, 2014

1960-1969 Films Ranked By Year


1960
EXCELLENT
The Apartment (9/10) Billy Wilder
GOOD
The Wackiest Ship in the Army (7/10) Richard Murphy
AVERAGE
Cage of Evil (6/10) Edward L. Cahn
BAD
The Amazing Transparent Man (1/10) Edgar G. Ulmer


1961
VERY GOOD
Greyfriars Bobby (8/10) Don Chaffey
Purple Noon (8/10) Rene Clement
AVERAGE
The Head (6/10) Victor Trivas
West Side Story (5/10) Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise


1962
EXCELLENT
Barabbas (10/10) Richard Fleischer
GOOD
Doctor Blood's Coffin (7/10) Sidney J. Furie


1963
EXCELLENT
8 1/2 (10/10) Federico Fellini
Charade (9/10) Stanley Donen
AVERAGE
Knife in the Water (5/10) Roman Polanski
Sword of Lancelot (5/10) Cornel Wilde
BELOW AVERAGE
The Birds (3/10) Alfred Hitchcock
Papa's Delicate Condition (3/10) George Marshall
BAD
The Raven (1/10) Roger Corman


1964
EXCELLENT
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (10/10) Bryan Forbes
A Shot in the Dark (9/10) Blake Edwards
VERY GOOD
Goldfinger (8/10) Guy Hamilton
Harakiri (8/10) Masaki Kobayashi
AVERAGE
The Pink Panther (6/10) Blake Edwards
BELOW AVERAGE
Marnie (4/10) Alfred Hitchcock
BAD
My Tale is Hot (1/10) Peter Perry, Jr.


1965
VERY GOOD
The Leather Boys (8/10) Sidney J. Furie
BELOW AVERAGE
Ecco (4/10) Gianni Proia
BAD
Orgy of the Dead (1/10) Stephen C. Apostolof


1966
EXCELLENT
How to Steal a Million (9/10) William Wyler
VERY GOOD
A Man for All Seasons (8/10) Fred Zinnemann
AVERAGE
The Forbidden (6/10) Benjamin Andrews, Lee Frost
BELOW AVERAGE
The Bible (4/10) John Huston
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (4/10) Terence Fisher


1967
VERY GOOD
The Night of the Generals (8/10) Anatole Litvak
GOOD
You Only Live Twice (7/10) Lewis Gilbert
AVERAGE
Dont Look Back (6/10) D.A. Pennebaker
The Jungle Book (5/10) Wolfgang Reitherman
She-Man (5/10) Bob Clark
BELOW AVERAGE
The Jackals (4/10) Robert D. Webb
BAD
Hot Rods to Hell (1/10) John Brahn


1968
EXCELLENT
Blue (10/10) Silvio Narizzano
GOOD
Funny Girl (7/10) William Wyler
Smoke and Flesh (7/10) Joseph Mangine
AVERAGE
Inga (6/10) Joseph W. Sarno
Daughters of Lesbos (6/10) Peter Woodcock
African Safari (6/10) Ronald E. Shanin
BELOW AVERAGE
The Thomas Crown Affair (4/10) Norman Jewison
Villa Rides (4/10) Buzz Kulik


1969
VERY GOOD
Goto, Island of Love (8/10) Walerian Borowczyk
The Cremator (8/10) Juraj Herz
GOOD
Alice in Acidland (7/10) John Donne
Sweet Charity (7/10) Bob Fosse
AVERAGE
True Grit (6/10) Henry Hathaway
Mackenna's Gold (5/10) J. Lee Thompson
BELOW AVERAGE
The Desperados (4/10) Henry Levin
Alice's Restaurant (4/10) Arthur Penn
99 Women (4/10) Jesus Franco
BAD
The Night of the Following Day (1/10) Hubert Cornfield
Charro! (1/10) Charles Marquis Warren