Silver Emulsion

Film Reviews

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)

Starring Steve Martin, John Candy, Laila Robins, Dylan Baker, Olivia Burnette, Larry Hankin, Richard Herd, Matthew Lawrence, Edie McClurg, Ben Stein, Michael McKean, Kevin Bacon

Directed by John Hughes

Expectations: One of my favorite films. I relish the chance to watch it again.


John Candy is Del Griffith. Traveling shower curtain ring salesman.

Steve Martin is Neal Page. Uptight advertising executive.

Two guys who never would have given a passing thought to each other are thrown together by chance amidst the holiday rush to get home for Thanksgiving. Without a doubt, Planes, Trains and Automobiles is one of my favorite comedies of all time. It hits all the right notes and even in adulthood it remains funny and solid throughout, perhaps even moreso. It has been my go-to Thanksgiving movie for a number of years and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. What makes it so endearing and memorable, in addition to its clever situations and jokes, are the rewarding, heartfelt characters played by two wonderful actors.

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November 24, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

End of the World (1977)

End of the World (1977)

Starring Christopher Lee, Sue Lyon, Kirk Scott, Dean Jagger, Lew Ayres, Macdonald Carey, Liz Ross

Directed by John Hayes

Expectations: Low, but it has Christopher Lee so that’s something.


Plainly put, End of the World is awful. Just wanted to get that out-of-the-way. It’s awful in one of the worst ways a movie can be awful too. It’s excruciatingly boring. So boring that the entire film is summed up within the Netflix summary paragraph, leaving out only minor occurrences. Next to nothing happens in this one, but surprisingly the movie ends on such a high note that I can’t help but think back fondly on the experience. This is the other 1977 film about first contact with alien lifeforms, and actually was released a few months before the more famous film.

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November 23, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1/2 Star, Science Fiction, Trash | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mini-Review: Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Starring Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jon Favreau

Directed by Jon Favreau

Expectations: Low.


 

I’ve tried to write something about Iron Man 2 for the past week or so and every time I get a couple of paragraphs in I lose interest. This is an adequate analogy for the film as it’s fun while you’re watching it, but there’s absolutely no substance backing it up. It’s a blockbuster, so I don’t necessarily need substance but Iron Man 2 fails to make it up with the killer action sequences and mind-numbing explosions that you expect. It has its share to be sure, but none of them are all that great. Probably my favorite moment of the film was watching Robert Downey Jr. work with his holographic hand-controlled computer interface, which was a fun advancement on the tech seen in Minority Report.

Overall, I liked the cotton candy of Iron Man 2 though. Mickey Rourke, despite a poor accent, is a great addition to the cast. It’s unfortunate that his part in the film is rather minor, as he has to share the villain limelight with Stark’s failing heart. As much as I love Don Cheadle, he is a step down from Terence Howard for this role. Cheadle seems much too soft, but does come into his own by the end of the film, when both Downey and him are suited up and ready to go. Scarlet Johansson is another wasted person, completely superfluous to the film and the story. It’s nice to lay the seeds of The Avengers movie within this film, but for me the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff was pretty forced. Fuck it though, Sam Jackson as Nick Fury was fairly fulfilling and promises good things to come.

If you liked Iron Man, give this one a go with your brain set to mild indifference. If you go in riding high, you will only be disappointed with this sequel. It fulfills the childhood dreams of watching dudes in robot suits shoot lasers and shit, but not much else. The character relationships are incredibly shallow here and seem to marginally move past what was laid out in the first film. It’s fun and I enjoyed it quite a bit, but it definitely leaves you wanting.

November 19, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Action, Mini-Reviews, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

The Girl Who Played With Fire [Flickan som lekte med elden] (2009)

Starring Michael Nyqvist, Noomi Rapace, Tehilla Blad, Lena Endre, Peter Andersson, Per Oscarsson, Sofia Ledarp, Yasmine Garbi, Georgi Staykov, Annika Hallin

Directed by Daniel Alfredson

Expectations: Low. I didn’t really like the first one that much, but just enough to give this a shot.


 

I wasn’t shy about my indifference to the first film in this series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but despite that I had an urge to see the follow-up. The character of Lisbeth Salander is an intriguing one and I hoped that with a different story surrounding her, I might connect more with the film. This is essentially exactly what happened with The Girl Who Played With Fire and I’m glad I took the plunge.

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November 17, 2010 Posted by | 2000s, Action, Drama, Foreign, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 & 1/2 Stars, Thriller | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hideous! (1997)

Hideous! (1997)

Starring Michael Citriniti, Rhonda Griffin, Mel Johnson Jr., Jacqueline Lovell, Tracie May, Jerry O’Donnell, Andrew Johnston, Mircea Constantinescu, Alexandru Agarici

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: High, the trailer on Video Zone was pretty awesome looking.


 

Hideous! falls into that strange category of films that succeed in being entertaining, despite an overwhelming amount of stupid moves that would otherwise equal a film abomination. I suppose one could argue that Charles Band is a master of such feats. Apparently, it didn’t do as well as they would have liked though, as there was never a sequel when it’s obvious they could have gone on a tirade of these kinds of movies if the market supported it. It’s kind of a shame because I’d love to see what other types of fucked up, half-grown human fetuses the team at Full moon could have conjured up.

The plot of Hideous! is played completely for laughs. Right from the get-go the light tone is established with three hard-working dudes working at a sewage treatment plant, fishing out random things from the sludge. With all this talk of sewage I almost thought I was watching a Troma movie for a second! The guys pull out a grotesque blob of flesh and one of the men recognizes it as something special. He quickly whisks it away and puts it in the hands of Belinda Yost (Tracie May), a dealer in all things deformed. This begins a struggle between two of the biggest collectors of rare mutations that eventually lands everyone involved stuck inside a castle, hunted down by the little nasties. Yeah, pretty much the Full Moon go-to plot, but the film is designed strictly to entertain and it does just that, as long as you have your expectations set properly.

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November 16, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Comedy, Good Trash, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Starring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, J. Patrick McNamara, Warren J. Kemmerling, Roberts Blossom, Philip Dodds, Cary Guffey

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Expectations: Love it. Haven’t seen it in a while.


 

Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a masterful film, bursting at the seams with a wealth of beautifully composed shots, wonderful John Williams music and a great sense of wonder. This is the kind of film only a budding filmmaker could have made, a true love letter to the dreamer fueled on passion and heart. This is made all the more interesting by the fact that in this case, the dream itself is implanted into our hero’s mind by the extraterrestrials. Much in the same way, Spielberg has inserted his own vision of first contact into millions of minds, forever changing the way we look at aliens.

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November 13, 2010 Posted by | 1970s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 4 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Uninvited (1988)

Uninvited (1988)

Starring Toni Hudson, Eric Larson, Alex Cord, George Kennedy, Clu Gulager, Clare Carey, Rob Estes, Shari Shattuck

Directed by Greydon Clark

Expectations: Low. I don’t know anything about this except it has a killer mutated cat.


 

Well, I gotta give this movie credit. I’ve never seen a horror movie about an escaped lab cat that has a mutated version of itself living inside it that crawls out of its mouth to kill those that do it wrong. That’s about where the imagination ends in Uninvited, but with such a killer setup, it would be a shame if they wasted it. Thankfully they don’t, and the killer cat mutation stuff is fantastic, it’s just everything else surrounding it that’s kind of lame. As a low-budget horror film from the late 80s though, it should be expected that “the other stuff” is gonna be fairly sub-par.

Uninvited is yet another entry into the “stuck in a location being hunted down by an unseen killer” subgenre of horror that I mentioned in my Crash and Burn review yesterday. The subgenre is brilliant in its simplicity and absolute flexibility. It’s like Madlibs for the movies, where if you can think up a good location for the people to be stuck in, along with a creative type of killer, you’ve pretty much got yourself a winner. Films within the subgenre become instantly recognizable by these two traits alone, and simply by mentioning them you should be able to jog your friend’s memory to recall what film you’re talking about. Horror fans will forever remember Uninvited as “the one where the mutated cat kills people on a yacht.”

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November 10, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crash and Burn (1990)

Crash and Burn (1990)

Starring Paul Ganus, Megan Ward, Ralph Waite, Bill Moseley, Eva La Rue, Jack McGee, Elizabeth Maclellan, Katherine Armstrong

Directed by Charles Band

Expectations: Moderate. I don’t expect the movie to be good, but at least it has giant robots.


 

Oh Crash and Burn, why did you go and pull the bait and switch on me? Why do you promise another big robot spectacle ala Robot Jox, only to provide a sub-standard Blade Runner / Terminator / Alien mashup? I should know better than to go in with distinct expectations, but they really got me this time. The clever ruse of putting a giant robot on the box art and titling the film Robot Jox 2: Crash and Burn in some markets should have clued me in, but I was coming off the high of watching Robot Jox and what can I say? I was pumped.

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November 9, 2010 Posted by | 1990s, Horror, Movie Reviews, Rating: 1 & 1/2 Stars, Science Fiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Falkenau, the Impossible (1988)

Falkenau, the Impossible [Falkenau, Vision de L’Impossible] (1988)

Starring Samuel Fuller

Directed by Emil Weiss

Expectations: High. I have been eagerly anticipating watching this since I reviewed The Big Red One a couple months back.


 

After moving to France following all the NAACP hoopla surrounding his last American film White Dog, Sam Fuller seemed to finally get the adoration and credit he always deserved at the hands of many European filmmakers and fans. One way they showed this gratitude was by making documentary films about the man, starring and narrated by Fuller himself. This is the first of these that I will be reviewing for the site and it is an apt place to start after recently looking at Fuller’s epic WWII film, The Big Red One. That film ends with the liberation of the Falkenau concentration camp, and it is this event that is the main subject of this documentary.

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November 5, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Documentary, Movie Reviews, Rating: 3 & 1/2 Stars, Short, War | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Ghost Writer (2010)

The Ghost Writer (2010)

Starring Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Olivia Williams, Kim Cattrall, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Hutton, James Belushi, Eli Wallach

Directed by Roman Polanski

Expectations: Low. As much as Polanski is a great, this looks like it will be so-so.


 

The Ghost Writer, the new film from Roman Polanski, is a thinly veiled tale about Tony Blair Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), a British ex-Prime Minister who is being accused of war crimes, specifically of turning terrorists over to the CIA so that they could be tortured. One of the terrorists died and now while the shit hits the fan, ghost writer Ewan McGregor must come in and help Lang finish his memoir. Lang’s previous ghost writer was found washed up on the beach, a belly full of booze and the cause of death questionable. McGregor gets down to business and over the course of the film uncovers some information his unfortunate predecessor was investigating when he died.

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November 3, 2010 Posted by | 2010s, Drama, Movie Reviews, Rating: 2 Stars, Thriller | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments