Archive 534

June 1, 2022

Mini-Review: Maleficent II: Mistress of Evil

Maleficent Angelina Jolie

The tale in Maleficent II: Mistress of Evil is mostly about the relationship between "Mother" (Maleficent played by Angelina Jolie) and "Beasty" (the character is actually named Aurora, is a princess, and is played by Elle Fanning) which is stretched to the breaking point by the extreme Machiavellian machinations of evil Queen Ingrith (played by Michelle Pfeiffer).

The two combatting leads of Jolie and Pfieffer are given a heavy veneer of makeup, are heavily filtered, but so is a great deal of the rest of the film which is bathed deeply in the river of Disney's "more is more" aesthetic...

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A bio-pic of Billy Wilder is comingheyuguys

Christoph Waltz has signed up to play the iconic filmmaker Billy Wilder in the Stephen Frears directed ‘Billy Wilder and Me.... A part coming-of-age story, part true-life portrait of the beloved Billy Wilder (Waltz), the film is set during the summer of 1977, when an innocent young woman begins working for the famed director and his screenwriter Iz Diamond on a Greek island during the filming of Fedora...

Jungle Rules and nostalgia for the past

Review: Divorce - 1945

Divorce with Kay Francis and Helen Mack

"I was just playing the rules as they put them down. Jungle rules, if you know what I mean."

Kay Francis stars in and is the producer for Divorce, a Monogram film from 1945 in which an old flame (Kay as Dianne Carter) returns after four lucrative divorces to her old hometown, where she then proceeds to steal her childhood boyfriend Bob (Bruce Cabot) from his wife Martha (Helen Mack).

When Kay's character is first introduced aboard a train headed to her hometown, the camera focuses directly on her long legs then moves up to show us the whole person. When we last see her in Divorce (in both instances she is talking with the same train porter played by Napoleon Simpson), her legs are covered up by her fur coat aboard a train as she flees the town. Director William Nigh shows us that she is no longer "hunting," and her thoughtful (though troubled) demeanor, as the train porter comments on, tells us that Dianne Carter has been changed.

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Mini-Review: Star Wars Rogue One - 2016

Unexpected! A faster, more enjoyable Star Wars movie than the bombastic The Force Awakens. Director Gareth Edwards keeps the tale pushing forward and has less overhead baggage than the J.J. Abrams film from 2015, though Rogue One is also littered with references to the famous original Lucas films (which makes sense, of course, Rogue One is a true prequel to the 1977 Star Wars).

A technological innovation is a CGI Peter Cushing (as Grand Moff Tarkin) and this is both bizarre and amazing. It's also not completely successful, he's obviously not the real Cushing and isn't a genuine filmed human being. The same goes for the end section where Carrie Fisher is "re-youthed" by CGI, but her eyes sort of float on her face a bit in a way that just isn't real.

CGI complaints aside, once Rogue One sets up its objective, it pounds forward like a World War II commando film, and the main cast (Felicity Jones as Jyn Erso, Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, and Alan Tudyk as the robot K-2SO) are quite likeable and warm, though they're not on screen to build up their characters past a certain point, but rather to accomplish the plot goals that connects Rogue One to the 1977 Star Wars and then to die in a blaze of glory, and they certainly accomplish that. If someone had predicted the ossified Star Wars franchise could produce a fast-moving suicide-mission war film as part of it's offerings, I would've thought that was a bridge too far.

I wish the whole batch of new Star Wars films could all be this slightly shlocky and have this much verve.

Ray Liotta has died

Ray Liotta


Actor Ray Liotta has died in the Dominican RepublicABC News

Critics, fans and colleagues react to Ray Liotta’s death at 67Washington Post

Ray Liotta, star of Goodfellas and Field of Dreams, dies aged 67UK Guardian

Jamie Lee Curtis, Lorraine Bracco, Taron Egerton and More React to Ray Liotta's Death

Ray Liotta dies at age 67UPI at MSN

126 acting credits listed at IMDB

Quick Review: Uncharted – 2022

At times Uncharted is an inventive adventure film charged with tension as an action film should be, showing us a tale about buried treasure (in a watery location) while giving us a shifting story of alliances between our main characters portrayed by Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali and Tati Gabrielle. The plot is fast moving and it is easy to keep up with what's happening despite the rapid movements around the globe as the treasure hunting takes on more complexity. Eventually there are double-crosses and a few characters drop out of the cast due to those double-crosses.

Uncharted's shortcomings are rather straight-forward. The dialogue is too often inadequate to presenting characterization with any depth, or of informing the audience of the urgency that is all around a character, making the film seem unreal because the dialogue suddenly becomes unnatural. The "back story" between characters is also thin but more of it gets squeezed into the ongoing film at a regular drumbeat which helps flesh out the tale, though it never truly establishes everything hinted at.

Stunt work is fantastic, and though clearly a lot of stuff is "green screen" CGI spectaculars, there's also a lot of leaping, jumping (and dropping) that is well done in the way of a classic adventure film that is full of physical activity. Art direction is very good and the various scenes in auction houses, etc., as the characters try to put together all the accumulating mass of clues on the location of their golden-goal, are fascinating. Part of the film is set in a tropical environment that is gorgeous to look at.

Quick Review: I Was A Male War Bride – 1949

Ann Sheridan and Cary Grant are pushed together by circumstances as two members of the military occupation in Europe (she's American and he's French) following World War II, and though they fight, bicker and argue through a great deal of the story (usually in funny ways) they are also eyeing one another so it is no surprise when a romantic association becomes cemented into marriage...

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The Atomic Kid – 1954

The Atomic Kid

Let's look at the record. He was eating a peanut-butter sandwich before the bomb went off. And he did survive, didn't he? So, it must have been the peanut-butter!"

Mickey Rooney and Robert Strauss are a pair of amateur uranium prospectors who wander into an atomic testing ground. Lost, exhausted and starving, they find what they mistake as a "model home" standing alone in a broad and empty plain, filled with furniture and mannequin dummies, not realizing it is a test structure to record the effects of an atomic explosion* that is just minutes from going off. Strauss (as Stan Cooper) departs with a car he "borrows" from outside the house to go to town to try and find the owner of the home, and Rooney (as "Blix") stays, determined to find something to eat and to guard the location from any other prospectors, the two believing there must be a lucrative uranium deposit nearby judging by the readings on their Geiger counter.

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Original Page April 20, 2022