Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Capsule Reviews Volume III

Angel of the Night
Directed by Shaky Gonzalez, Written by Shaky Gonzalez and Lars Detlefsen, Cast: Maria Stokholm, Mette Louise Holland, Tomas Villum Jensen, Svend Johansen
(1999) feature film (* * *) out of five stars
While slick and gory, I found elements of "The Lost Boys," "Modern Vampires," "From Dawn till Dusk," and every Dracula film of the last forty years here, with a little "The Omen" thrown in for good measure. Nice change of locations to Europe, but this is awfully familiar stuff. I give this a 6.

The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca
Directed by Marcos Zurinaga, Screenplay by Marcos Zurinaga & Juan Antonio Ramos and Neil Cohen based on books by Ian Gibson, Cast: Andy Garcia, Esai Morales, Naim Thomas, Gonzalo Penche
(1997) feature film (* * *) out of five stars
This should have been titled "The Misadventures of a Cute Hispanic Reporter," since the entire film is about Esai Morales trying to find out what happened to the great poet Lorca, who is only shown in flashbacks that cancel each other out. Nothing much is ever learned of the poet, instead we are treated to a very convoluted conclusion and very good performances. This should have been much better. I give this a 5.

Duck, You Sucker
Directed by Sergio Leone, Screenplay by Luciano Vincenzoni & Sergio Donati & Sergio Leone, Story by Sergio Leone & Sergio Donati, Cast: James Coburn, Rod Steiger, Romolo Valli, Maria Monti
(1972) feature film (* *) out of five stars
Sergio Leone was one of the world's greatest directors, but he really stumbled here in this badly paced western. Too many closeups and snail like pacing were not helped by a laughable soundtrack and the fact that James Coburn and Rod Steiger kept forgetting their accents. Some good action, but not enough, I give this a 4.

Directed by Liliana Cavani, Screenplay by Liliana Cavani & Roberta Mazzoni, Story by Liliana Cavani, Cast: Mickey Rourke, Helena Bonham Carter, Andrea Ferreol, Nikolaus Dutsch
(1989) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
I had no problem with Mickey Rourke as St. Francis, he does some of his best work here. This is not your typical religious epic, with special effects and doe eyed saints, this is brutal realism with great supporting performances thrown in. I gave this an 8, since this became a little disjointed toward the end.

Directed by Darren Doane, Written by Darren Doane, Sean Atkins, and Sean Christopher Nelson, Cast: Rick Rodney, Bobby Field, Christi Allen, Stewart Teggart
(1999) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
While the director here showed off a little too much at times, and the redeeming criminal storyline has been played to death, I enjoyed this film very much because of the acting and genuinely surprising ending. The title and video cover art make this look like some kind of horror movie, but the talent here could rank higher than "Pulp Fiction" on ballsy story twists. I give this an 8.

King David
Directed by Bruce Beresford, Screenplay by Andrew Birkin, Story by James Costigan, Cast: Richard Gere, Edward Woodward, Alice Krige, Denis Quilley
(1985) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
Richard Gere is a marvel as David, and he should be most proud of this. However, the last half of the film tries too hard to cram everything into a few minutes, including his relationship with Bathsheba. Edward Woodward is quite good as Saul, but parents might want to beware of the nudity and bloodshed here, this should have been rated R. I give this a 7.

Orgy of the Dead
Directed by Stephen C. Apostolof, Screenplay by Edward D. Wood, Jr. based on his novel, Cast: Criswell, Pat Barrington, Fawn Silver, William Bates
(1965) feature film (*) out of five stars
So many fans find Ed Wood's inept work endearing, I find it hard to believe someone made films this bad intentionally. This is perhaps one of the all time worst films ever made. Wood fans might get a kick out of it, but everyone else beware. I am kind in giving this a 1.

The Quick and the Dead
Directed by Robert Day, Teleplay by James Lee Barrett based on the novel by Louis L'Amour, Cast: Sam Elliott, Tom Conti, Kate Capshaw, Kenny Morrison
(1987) television movie (* * *) out of five stars
I read L'Amour's novel before I saw the film, and both have something in common: they are too short and very simplistic. The novel reads like a bad entry in the Longarm series, with over the top description and bad ending. The film juggles the plot around, making matters worse, and never gives us anything that we have not seen in a hundred other westerns before. Nice direction, but I give this a 6.

Soft Self-Portrait of Salvador Dali
Directed by Jean-Christophe Averty, Cast: Salvador Dali, Orson Welles
(1970) feature film (*) out of five stars
Unless you are really into the surrealist artist this torture session is a waste of an hour. The surrealist touches the director throws in border on stupid, and Salvador Dali's English is so bad you will not understand a word he is saying. Orson Welles does his typical hack narrating job here, you will learn no more about Dali than when you started watching this. I give this a 2.

Summer of Sam
Directed by Spike Lee, Screenplay by Spike Lee and Victor Colicchio and Michael Imperioli, Cast: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito
(1999) feature film (*) out of five stars
Dear Mr. Lee, When did you decide to rip off Oliver Stone by skewing recent American history just to make some money? I know very little about the Son of Sam killings, but I also know you prejudiced my viewing my prejudicing 1970's Italian-Americans. Did everybody act like this? Doubt it. Would your script have been more intelligent if you had even one character in it with a brain? Yes. The killings in the film were brutal, but you decided not to show the consequences on the victims' families. You decided not to show how Berkowitz slowly went insane, or explore the recent charges that there was more than one killer. Instead, you give us a bunch of drugged, sexually deviant Italians reacting to the killings in a way no humans ever would. Good job with your cast, big names. Although, after Patti LuPone's completely needless topless scene, I will never watch "Life Goes On" the same way again. It is sad when the caliber of talent you were given has to resort to such debauchery just to make a critics group happy. Sincerely, Videoredux.

Tell Them Johnny Wadd is Here
Directed by Bob Chinn, Cast: John Holmes, Felecia Sanda, Veronica Taylor, Carlos Tobalina
(1976) feature film (*) out of five stars
This is a really inept film. I got the idea Ed Wood would smile down on this grainy thing. At one point, John C. Holmes is reciting some obviously dubbed in dialogue, while onscreen, he is lighting a cigarette and inhaling. Do not try this at home. This is just more overrated porn by an overrated porn actor. I give this a 1. Oh, how '70's porn was glamorized in "Boogie Nights." Old John Holmes is no Mark Wahlberg, he isn't even Mark Hamill. He looks like a cross between Jim Croce and a chihuahua. Does he look like a drug addict in all his films? Edit out the same old anatomy film looking sex, and this is just a bad movie...even with the sex, this is a bad movie.

Twelfth Night
Directed by Trevor Nunn, Screenplay by Trevor Nunn based on the play by William Shakespeare, Cast: Imogen Stubbs, Ben Kingsley, Mel Smith, Helena Bonham Carter
(1996) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
I was in a recent production of this play, and had no idea what was happening after I read it. I saw the film, and the capable cast cleared it up for me. This is very funny, and I recommend it for those college students who think Shakespeare is boring. Great job.

United States of Poetry
Directed by Mark Pellington, Written by various, Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonard Cohen, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed
(1995) television mini-series (* * * *) out of five stars
This is not just some short, music video-like films about poems, most of the poems are read by the authors as images strengthen their words. I would recommend this too any English teacher working today, as well as frustrated writers out there who say that poetry is dead. This short series is inspiring.

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