Ten Films That Shaped My Cinematic Journey: Part II

Continuing the discussion… last time I talked about how the motley mix of Theater of Blood, Invaders from Mars, Seven Samurai, Nine Queens and Star Wars: A New Hope had a profound impact on my cinematic journey. This time I’ll wrap up the discussion with the other five films on my list of ten: Lawrence of Arabia, Blade Runner, Singing in the Rain, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Psycho. Buckle up, campers! Lawrence of Arabia…Read More

Ten Films That Shaped My Cinematic Journey: Part I

My friend Mary-Frances challenged me on Facebook to post ten films that “had an impact on me” and I decided to go through my long list of favorite films and those that had a significant affect on me – positive or negative – and come up with a list of my own. Good fun, really, and it wasn’t long before I had the urge to add another, or two, or maybe make it 20 movies…Read More

Film Review: Peter Seller’s Directorial Debut “Mr. Topaze” (1961)

In the digital age, it’s hard to imagine a film being lost and there being no prints or copies available. And yet, it turns out that there are thousands of films from throughout cinematic history that are missing in action. In fact The Film Foundation estimates that half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever. That’s why it’s great that Film Movement is involved…Read More

Film Review: Banal Sci-Fi Action Thriller “Lockout” (2012)

This is a republication of a film review I wrote for ScienceFiction.com when this Luc Besson mess was first released. It’s now seeing a resurgence of interest from the Netflix crowd so I thought sharing it here would be helpful for people poised to waste two hours of their lives watching this daft mess of a sci-fi thriller… Let me cut to the chase: I am a Luc Besson fan and love both action movies…Read More

Film Review: Classic Comedy “Whisky Galore!” (1949)

If you’re a true connoisseur of British comedy films, you’ll have a soft spot in your heart for the fabled Ealing Studios. At its heydey in the late 1940’s and 1950’s, this production house churned out sly, witty and hilarious films that remain a delight to watch. Their best are The Man in the White Suit (starring a delightful Alec Guinness and which I reviewed here), Kind Hearts and Coronets, The Lavender Hill Mob, The…Read More

Film Review: Trippy Documentary “Spaceship Earth”

In the movies, small self-contained living spaces tend to be comfortable and easily maintained. The people sharing the space, whether it’s deep under the ocean, floating in space or on another planet, all get along pretty well and there’s never really much tension. Balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide? No problem. Producing enough food to eat well? Not only is that not a problem, but there are magical devices that let you enjoy just about anything…Read More

Film Review: Horror Indie “Ouijageist”

An evil spirit released unwittingly by a single mother who finds and decides to try a Ouija board? Baby in peril? Priest pushed out of the evil house by unseen malevolent spirits? A house that might just be haunted? Ouijageist is a collection of basic horror film tropes but, surprisingly, this modest UK indie horror film isn’t entirely bad. It’s also not entirely good either, so you’ll want to be pretty bored to allocated the…Read More

Film Review: WWII Drama “Lancaster Skies”

It’s easy to become numb to the statistics when reading about war. Hundreds killed from this bombing run, thousands dead on that battlefield, thousands more injured or homeless from the destruction. But large scale events are made up of very individual stories, the stories of the people who have their home destroyed, are shot down during an attack, are killed when their unit is ambushed by the enemy. There are also some wars that capture…Read More

Film Review: The Original Godzilla “Gojira” (1954)

He’s the original monster king, Godzilla, the beast that constantly destroys Tokyo. Indeed, it’s possible that there have been more movies made that feature Godzilla than any other monster in cinematic history, ranging from the increasingly cheesy Toho Studio offerings throughout the late 50’s thru the 70’s to the heavy, dramatic, big-budget recent additions from directors Gareth Edwards (2014’s Godzilla) and Michael Dougherty (2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters). But it all started with a…Read More

Film Review: Creepy Horror “Seance on a Wet Afternoon” (1964)

Myra (Kim Stanley) is a psychic who makes a living holding seances in her front room. Her meek and compliant husband Billy (Richard Attenborough) has learned to stay out of the way even though he’s stuck at home on disability. Seances are Myra’s thing. They had a son together, but he passed away at a young age, leaving a hole in their lives. Myra still talks to him in spirit, however, and he inspires her…Read More

Film Review: Indie Sci-Fi Thriller “Same Boat”

It’s that old story: Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy turns out to be a time travelling assassin and the girl is his target. Now what? As it turns out, Same Boat does a surprisingly good job of finding the balance between a kitsch self-aware low budget comedy and an actually engaging and watchable movie. Yes, that reveals some of my bias towards modern indie comedies! Much of what works on…Read More

Film Review: Disappointing Thriller “Blumhouse’s The Hunt”

The concept behind The Hunt is an ingenious one: what if radical members of one political group kidnapped and then hunted members of the diametrically opposite group? Kind of The Hunger Games, but with Elites versus Rednecks, Liberals versus Deplorables, Red versus Blue, you get the idea. Not The Hunger Games, though, something more akin to the classic Japanese horror thriller Battle Royale (Batoru Rowaiaru); it’s people versus people, not people versus the system. When…Read More

Film Review: Decent Remake “The Invisible Man”

In the classic 1933 horror film The Invisible Man, Dr. Jack Griffin (memorably played by Claude Rains) embodies the mad scientist. He figures out a way to become completely invisible, but, as luck would have it, goes insane along the way. The film is ostensibly about this murderous wack-job of a scientist but it’s just as much a warning on the dangers of science and unfettered research. The latter is, of course, a theme that…Read More

Film Review: Color Out of Space

One of the first horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft created an entire world of dark, twisted tales that featured terrifying beasts and unrelenting nightmare situations. There’s no redemption, no neat endings, just a perverse, cynical view of humanity and the greater world around us. His greatest creation was the beast Cthulhu but through his many novels and short stories, he created an entire Lovecraftian world. Miskatonic University, Dunwich, Arkham, Innsmouth and Kingsport are all familiar to…Read More

Film Review: The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)

1951. WWII is finally over, but the Cold War is just beginning. NATO has been established to balance the Soviet Union threat to Europe and, on the other side of the planet, the Korean War has everyone worrying about communist threats to the West. In the midst of this escalating tension, science fiction writer Harry Bates publishes Farewell to the Master, a hopeful story about an alien who comes to Earth to share a message…Read More

Film Review: Passport to Pimlico (1949)

Over a hundred years of cinematic history, some studios have emerged as leaders of a specific genre. No discussion of horror films would be complete without inclusion of Hammer Films, for example. For classic postwar comedies, UK-based Ealing Studios similarly gained a reputation for its series of popular British comedies. Their top films include Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Ladykillers (1955), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Man in the White Suit (1951),…Read More

Film Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Let’s just start with the TLDR: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a good sci-fi film, but it’s not great. Yes, they manage to wrap up a lot of the storylines left unfinished in the sprawling series that started way back in 1977 with Star Wars: A New Hope, but between trying to offer a neat ending and weaving in endless fan favorite characters, lines and scenes, the overall film ends up a bit…Read More

Film Review: Jumanji: The Next Level

Zathura: A Space Adventure, the 2005 sequel to the original 1995 Jumanji, proved to be a rather weird story, erring on the side of intense and frightening rather than funny and ingenious. The original Jumanji featured the mad antics of Robin Williams, making it tough to remake, but 2017’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a surprise hit for Columbia Pictures, earning a solid 87% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Always charismatic Dwayne Johnson headed a…Read More

Film Review: Little Joe

What if you woke up and your friends, family and neighbors had been replaced by replicas that looked the same, but had a few oddities and some changed behaviors? This question has fueled countless sci-fi stories, from classics like the brilliant and paranoid Invasion of the Body Snatchers (watch the 1956 original, the 1978 remake misses the point of the story) to Blade Runner, where the replicants are “more human than human” (is Deckard a…Read More

Film Review: The Irishman

You may still think of Netflix as a streaming video service, but it’s really become a movie studio with most of its emphasis on episodic storytelling. It’s all about the original content, with a foundation of streaming subscribers to help pay the bills. Last year’s surprise hit Roma suggested this evolution and one of the standout films of 2019 is also from Netflix Studios: The Irishman. Directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring splendid performances from…Read More

Film Review: Midway

The Battle of Midway was a major turning point in World War II. Prior to the December, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the US had a distinctly isolationist stance, merely watching the chaos of Hitler’s Germany invading country after country in Europe and Japan attacking all of its neighbors. One of the first scenes in the new film Midway has Japanese Admiral Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa) warning American Lieutenant Commander Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) that…Read More