Author Archives: Brian

Hitchcock*

Hitchcock

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Release Date: December 14, 2012
Runtime: 98 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Cast: Anthony Hopkins; Helen Mirren; Danny Huston; Scarlett Johansson; Jessica Biel

A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho,” set against the backdrop of Hitch’s relationship with wife Alma…..and therein lays the problem.

This movie, I proffer, wants to be a study of a relationship between a high-profile movie director and his collaborator-wife, who mainly stays in the background.  The problem is the execution is backwards. Continue reading

Mama

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Mama

 

 

Release Date: January 18, 2013
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Universal
Director: Andres Muschietti
Cast: Jessica Chastain; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau; Megan Charpentier; Isabelle Nelisse; Daniel Kash

This is a creepy little movie.

Mama tells the tale of two little girls who are brought to a cabin in the woods by their suicidal father.  The father intends on killing the girls (very uplifting), but something gets to him first.  The girls are discovered years later, living in said cabin in a feral and animal state.  They are brought to a psychiatric clinic where Dr. Dreyfuss (Daniel Kash) intends to study their assimilation back into society.  Coming to the girl’s rescue is their uncle, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and his rock-chic girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain), who will assume parental roles for the girls, much to the chagrin of their maternal aunt (Jane Moffat).  The older of the two girls, Victoria (Megan Charpentier), has retained some language skills, while the younger, Lilly (Isabelle Nelisse), was barely a toddler when her father died.  After the uncle falls down a flight of stairs and lands in a coma, it is left to Annabel to become a surrogate, single mom and care for the girls, who keep mentioning a seemingly imaginary friend named Mama.

Who or what is Mama?  What happened to Victoria and Lilly in that cabin?  Who or what killed their father?  All questions are answered in due time. Continue reading

The Others

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Release Date: August 10, 2001
Runtime: 101 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Dimension Films (Miramax)
Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Cast: Nicole Kidman; Christopher Eccleston; Fionnula Flanagan; Alakina Mann; James Bentley

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

“The Others” reminds me of how much fun going to the movies can be!  If you’re looking for a scary date movie, look no further.  This one will have couples clinging to each other in fright and delight throughout! Continue reading

Streets of Fire

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Release Date: June 1, 1984
Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Pare; Diane Lane; Willem Dafoe; Rick Moranis; Deborah Van Valkenburgh; Amy Madigan

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS]

Although this film is pure 80’s in the music, it’s a throwback to 1950’s ‘good-guys vs. bad-guys movies’ in plot, dialogue and costumes.  Adopting the tone and visual style of an old-time comic book, “Streets of Fire” clues us in to the fantasy motif right up front, by indicating that the film takes place in ‘Another time, another place.’ Continue reading

Xanadu

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Release Date: August 8, 1980
Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: PG
Studio: Universal Pictures
Director: Robert Greenwald
Cast: Olivia Newton-John; Gene Kelly; Michael Beck

Something about this movie draws me to it.  I don’t know if it’s the fact that it was so viciously derided upon its initial release, whether it’s the tack, tack, TACKY sets and costumes, whether it’s the actually pretty likable music and “Solid Gold”-ish style dancing, or my strange obsession with the former Pan-Pacific Auditorium. Whatever the reason, I will always watch “Xanadu” with a smile…not because it’s good, but because it has a sincerity that is endearing in its naivety. Continue reading

Hudson Hawk

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Hudson-Hawk

 

Release Date: May 24, 1991
Runtime: Interminable
Rating: R
Studio: TriStar Pictures (Sony)
Director: Michael Lehmann
Cast: Bruce Willis; Danny Aiello; Andie MacDowell; Richard E. Grant; Sandra Bernhard

This movie has, in the 20-plus years since its release, become kind-of a punch line for jokes about Hollywood awful-ness….and deservedly so.  Ostensibly a crime caper, there are elements of musical, comedy, adventure…but none of the various genres this movie tries to employ ever coalesce into a satisfying and cohesive product.

Continue reading

Soapdish

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Release Date: May 31, 1991
Runtime: 97 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Michael Hoffman
Cast: Sally Field; Kevin Kline; Cathy Moriarty; Robert Downey, Jr; Elisabeth Shue; Whoopi Goldberg; Teri Hatcher

A riotous farce set in the world of glamorous daytime soap operas, “Soapdish” is hilarious!  Admittedly, you have to have a taste for films with screaming, hysterical dialogue, over-the-top acting, and melodramatic plot twists.  But if you do, you’re in for one hell of a treat. Continue reading

Darkness

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Darkness

 

Release Date: December 25, 2004
Runtime: 102 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Dimension Films (Miramax)
Director: Jaume Balaguero
Cast: Anna Paquin; Lena Olin; Iain Glen; Giancarlo Giannini

[SPOILER ALERT!]

Oh boy, is this ever a mess of a movie.  Basically, the story of a young girl and her family who move into a creepy old house in the Spanish countryside.  Weird things start happening.

Continue reading

Inserts

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Release Date: February 13, 1976
Runtime: 117 minutes
Rating: NC-17
Studio: United Artists (MGM)
Director: John Byrum
Cast: Richard Dreyfuss; Bob Hoskins; Veronica Cartwright; Jessica Harper; Stephen Davies

This early Richard Dreyfuss starrer is essentially a chamber piece centered on an alcoholic former film director in the 1930’s, now reduced to making quickie silent-movie porn. A feel-good movie, to be sure, yet not without its pleasures, namely the sublime performances from all five actors.

Dreyfuss is a former great movie director, now an alcoholic recluse in his Hollywood home. Once known as the Boy Wonder, he is in the midst of production on his latest quickie skin flick, starring the drug-addicted Harlene (Veronica Cartwright – she’s the one who puked cherries in “The Witches of Eastwick”) and Rex, the Wonder Dog (Stephen Davies), a dim bulb wannabe heartthrob. Showing up to check on his investment is the film’s financial backer Big Mac (Bob Hoskins), who totes his trophy girlfriend, Cathy Cake (Jessica Harper), along with him. Before dusk sets on this fateful day, the porno will be finished, but dreams will be shattered and one person will end up dead. Continue reading

Thief of Hearts

Thief-of-Hearts

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Release Date: October 19, 1984
Runtime: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Douglas Day Stewart
Cast: Steven Bauer; Barbara Williams; John Getz; David Caruso; George Wendt

The first thing I have to say about this movie is that it’s almost impossible to review this from a 2013 frame of mind, as it is oh-so-dated. I will, however, give it my best shot. Continue reading