Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conan the Destroyer (1984)

In the sequel to the 1982 film, Conan the warrior is called upon by Queen Taramis to accompany her niece, Princess Jehnna on a perilous journey to find a treasure which only she can touch. She tells him that from the day she was born she's been preparing for it and that it is her destiny. The treasure she is to get is a jeweled horn that is guarded in a castle by a wizard. In exchange, the Queen says that she'll bring back Valeria, the woman Conan loves from the dead. So along with the Princess, Conan, Malak, Conan's sidekick, and Bombaata, the Captain of the Guards set out on the journey. Along the way he retrieves Akiro the wizard and save Zula, a woman warrior. What Conan doesn't realize until later on is that once the Princess brings the horn back to the Queen, she is going to sacrifice the virginal Jehnna to summon Dagoth, the dreaming God to rebirth. Although not as good as the first film, Conan the Destroyer is still an entertaining adventure and worth watching. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Grace Jones, Wilt Chamberlain, Mako, Tracey Walter, Sarah Douglas, Olivia d'Abo 7/10

Conan the Barbarian (1982)

When his family is killed in a raid by Thulsa Doom, the evil sorcerer, young Conan is sent with other children to a slave camp. He grows up and is trained to become a powerful warrior, determined to take revenge for his families' slaughter. He sets out on a long journey to solve the riddle of steel and on the way he meets Subotai, an archer, a Chinese wizard and Valeria, a thief whom he falls in love with. Conan learns that Thulsa Doom is the leader of a snake cult which has brainwashed the Princess Yasmina. King Osric, her father asks Conan and his companions to rescue his daughter from the snake cult and they'll be rewarded. So they go get her but when they're escaping, Thulsa Doom shoots an arrow and kills Valeria. Conan, Subotai and the wizard set up booby traps and weapons to prepare for the final battle against Thulsa's warriors. Great fun; an epic tale with a dynamic score. From the books written by Robert E. Howard. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow, Sandahl Bergman, Gerry Lopez, Mako 7/10

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Painted Veil (2006)

Set in the 1920's, Kitty Fane is a pretty, upper-class woman whom wants to marry so she can move out of her parents house, away from her domineering mother. She meets and is courted by the shy, middle class Doctor Walter Fane and they marry soon after, despite her not loving him. When they relocate to Shanghai where he is stationed, she has an affair with Charles Townsend, a married British vice consul. When Walter finds out about it he confronts Kitty and threatens to divorce her on the grounds of adultery. Kitty pleads to be allowed to divorce him quietly and he agrees, if Townsend will leave his wife and marry her. But when she tells this to Charlie, he doesn't accept. So Walter punishes Kitty by forcing her to accompany him to Mei-tan-fu, a small village in China where he has volunteered to treat victims of a deadly cholera epidemic that has been spreading throughout the village. They travel an arduous, two-week-long overland journey and while Walter is treating patients, Kitty who doesn't know what to do with herself, volunteers to help out at the orphanage run by a group of French nuns. During the time they're in the village, Walter and Kitty forget about their unhappiness and slowly their marriage begins to bloom. A visually stunning film and interesting love story; with amazing performances by the two leads, Norton and Watts. Remake of the 1934 Greta Garbo picture. Starring Naomi Watts, Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber, Toby Jones, Diana Rigg 8/10

City of Angels (1998)

Seth is an angel who watches over Los Angeles with his friend Cassiel, who's also an angel. They watch the sun rise and sit on the signs above the highway. One day when looking around at patients in the hospital Seth sees Maggie, a beautiful heart surgeon and instantly falls in love with her. When she meets him for the first time, she becomes curious and intrigued by him. She starts to realize that Seth is not like anyone she's ever met before. And when she finds out he's an angel she doesn't believe it. When Seth meets Messinger, who is one of the patients at the hospital, Messinger can see him because he was once an Angel but gave his power up to become human. So that makes Seth want to be human too so he can love and feel Maggie, but he would have to give up being an angel and fall to Earth. A beautiful and touching story; comical at times but also heartbreaking as well. Starring Nicolas Cage, Meg Ryan, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz, Colm Feore 7/10

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Superman 2 (1980)

In the sequel to the original Superman, this time the Man of Steel saves Lois when terrorists seize the Eiffel Tower and threaten to blow it up with a bomb. But when Superman throws the bomb into outer space, the explosion releases the three prisoners of the Phantom Zone that Jorel convicted in the first film. The three criminals, led by General Zod fly to Earth and take over The White House, forcing the President to kneel before Zod as the new ruler. Meanwhile at the Fortress of Solitude and unaware of what's going on, Superman reveals his true identity to Lois, while she confesses to being in love with him. He gives up his powers to be an ordinary man with Lois. But when he finds out that Zod has taken over, he must find a way to get his powers back to save the world. A terrific sequel; good story and three terrifying villains is a great combination of entertainment. Starring Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, Jack O'Halloran, Valerie Perrine, Susannah York, E.G. Marshall, Marc McClure, Terence Stamp 7/10

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Long, Hot Summer (1958)

After being kicked out of another town for allegedly burning a barn, Ben Quick arrives in Frenchman's Bend, Mississippi looking for work. He hitches a ride and meets Clara and Eula when they pick him up. Will Varner, who owns just about everything in Frenchman's Bend, hires Ben to work in his store. Although Will's own son manages the store, Will thinks he lacks ambition. Jody feels weak and insecure because of his father's disapproval. Jody's wife Eula is the fashionable sex kitten, who often gets hollered at by the young boys in the town, which makes Jody very upset. Will also has a daughter named Clara, an unmarried school teacher whom catches Ben's eye. She is saving herself for Alan Stewart, but is competing for his affection with his overbearing mother. Will wants Clara to marry so he can have a heir to inherit his fortune and carry on his name. But when the Varner's find out about Ben's bad reputation, things get upsetting and the townspeople think they should get rid if him before their town starts to burn. With a tremendous cast and steaming hot dialogue, this film is a great film that can't be missed. Starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Anthony Franciosa, Orson Welles, Lee Remick, Angela Lansbury, Richard Anderson 8/10

Friday, September 24, 2010

Babes in Toyland (1961)

Miss Mary Quite Contrary is about to marry Tom, the Piper's son. But on the night just before they're supposed to marry, evil miser Barnaby hires two bumbling henchmen, Gonzorgo and Roderigo to kidnap Tom and throw him in the sea. But instead they sell him to the gypsies so they'll get paid for him twice. They also steal Bo Peep's sheep, which is Mary and the children's livelihood so Mary has no choice but to marry the rich but mean Barnaby. He hires a band of gypsies to dance and entertain the townspeople, having no idea that they are the same gypsies that Gonzorgo and Roderigo sold Tom to. Tom escapes and disguises himself as an old gypsy who can see the future and sings to Mary and Barnaby. When he reveals his true identity, Mary and the townspeople are overjoyed, but that doesn't stop Barnaby from doing everything in his power to get his way and marry Mary, even if that means having Tom disposed of. When Bo Peep and the children get lost when they go looking for the sheep in the forest, Tom and Mary rescue them. They discover Toyland, which is where The Toymaker makes toys for the children of the world. When the toy machine that the Toymaker's assistant breaks, Bo Peep and the children help The Toymaker make the Christmas deadline. This Disney classic is wonderful fun; the songs are terrific, Annette Funicello is delightful and Ray Bolger is a perfect villain. Starring Ray Bolger, Tommy Sands, Annette Funicello, Ed Wynn, Tommy Kirk, Henry Calvin, Gene Sheldon, Ann Jillian 6/10

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Public Enemies (2009)

Set in 1930's Chicago, the notorious bank robber John Dillinger breaks out of jail. Not long after he and his posse start to rob the banks of the big businesses, but leaves the citizens money alone. Meanwhile, after taking Pretty Boy Floyd out, FBI Agent Melvin Purvis is promoted and assigned by J. Edgar Hoover to hunt Dillinger down. But that proves to be no easy task. Dillinger falls in love with Billie Frechette when he meets her at a restaurant. Melvin and his men take her in so they can try to catch the outlaw, but faithful to John she refuses to tell them anything. Purvis and his men apprehend a fellow bank robber named Carroll and interrogate him to find the rest of the Dillingers' gang's location. Purvis organizes an ambush at a hotel named Little Bohemia where Dillinger is supposedly staying, but is unsuccessful when Dillinger manages to escape. So Purvis threatens one of John's friends with deportation if she is not cooperative in setting up Dillinger. She agrees and Purvis stakes out the theater where she and Dillinger are seeing a film. A thrillingly interesting crime drama; Johnny Depp plays a convincing gangster, and Bale is also extraordinary as Purvis. Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, James Russo, Marion Cotillard, Stephen Dorff, Billy Crudup, Giovanni Ribisi, Channing Tatum, Leelee Sobieski 8/10

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cujo (1983)

Based on Stephen King's novel, Cujo is a friendly Saint Bernard who gets bitten one day when he's out chasing a rabbit. The rabbit runs into a hole where there are bats and the dog is bitten, contracting rabies. A suburban housewife named Donna Trenton drives with her five year old son Tad to take her Pinto to Brett Cambers' (Cujo's owner) father's car shop to get it fixed. But unfortunately the car stalls out. So Donna and Tad are trapped in the broken down car with the rabid Cujo trying to get in. Although it takes a while for the tension to build, this is a very suspenseful and incredibly frightening film. Starring Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Christopher Stone, Ed Lauter, Kaiulani Lee, Billy Jayne, Mills Watson, Sandy Ward, Jerry Hardin, and Arthur Rosenberg 6/10

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

Millie Perkins plays Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl living in Amsterdam when she and her family are forced to go into hiding when the Nazis come to power. They also invite another family, the Van Daans to share their hiding place, a tiny annex that's above an old spice factory. Their friends Miep and Mister Kraler who bring them food and news also ask them to take in a dentist named Dussell, despite the cramped quarters and little food that they already have. During the day when the workers are in the factory they have to stay quiet and not move about, for fear that someone will hear them and they'll be arrested by the Gestapo. An emotionally heartbreaking and poignant story; with amazing performances, especially Shelley Winters as Mrs. Van Daan and Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank. Not taken directly from the actual diary, but from an adaptation of the Broadway play. A must see. Starring Mille Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Richard Beymer, Gusti Huber, Lou Jacobi, Diane Baker, Ed Wynn 10/10

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Thorn Birds (1983)

This epic mini-series covers sixty-years of the lives of the Cleary Family, their trials, loves and tragedies. It mostly centers around the youngest Meggie, the only daughter of the Cleary's in a family of males. When Aunt Mary Carson, a brash, no-nonsense tycoon hires her brother Paddy to be head stock man at Australia's Drogheda, Meggie meets and falls madly in love with Ralph De Bricassart, the handsome and ambitious priest. Even when she grows up into a stunning young woman she's still crazy about him, despite the fact that he's a priest and loves God more than she. He encourages her to go out with men and live her own life and Meggie marries young man named Luke O'Neil only to get away from Drogheda and Ralph even though but she doesn't love him. Meggie's mother Fee only has affections for her son Frank, who was fathered by a different man. The pattern of love for only one child continues through the generations; as Meggie only loves her son Dane, who is Ralph's child. While her daughter Justine who is Luke's feels left out so she chooses to avoid love and concentrate on her acting career to escape reality. One of the best and most poignant mini-series about unrequited love; Henry Mancini's musical score is hauntingly beautiful. Based on Colleen McCollough's best-selling novel. Starring Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Christopher Plummer, Barbara Stanwyck, Jean Simmons, Bryan Brown, Richard Kiley, Piper Laurie, Earl Holliman 8/10

Monday, September 13, 2010

Benny & Joon (1993)

Benny is an auto mechanic living in a small town with his mentally ill schizophrenic sister Joon. His friends want him to go out on dates and have fun, but Benny can't do anything he wants because he has to take care of his sister. He's been taking care of her ever since both their parents died in a car accident when they were kids. One night when Joon plays a poker game with Benny's buddies, she ends up losing the game and as a result has to look after a player's relative named Sam. So Benny and Joon bring Sam to their home and let him stay for a few days. Sam, who acts a lot like the silent movie comedian, Buster Keaton, quickly steals Joon's heart which Benny knows nothing about. After he does, he throws Sam out. Joon argues with him and confesses her love for Sam, but Benny doesn't like the idea one bit. When Joon has a fit when she is riding on a bus with Sam, she is put in a mental hospital and Benny has to consider what is the best way she can be cared for so this doesn't happen again. A sweet and funny movie, Johnny Depp gives a great physical comedy performance. Starring Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn, Julianne Moore, Oliver Platt, Dan Hedaya, William H. Macy 7/10

Friday, September 10, 2010

American History X (1998)

Derek Vinyard served three years in prison for killing some thugs when they try to steal his car one night. After Derek's father is killed in the line of duty, he turns into a skinhead and the leader of a violent white supremacist gang that has been committing racial crimes in Los Angeles. Danny is assigned to write a paper for his teacher about Derek and the affect the events of Derek's incarceration have made on his life, calling it American History X. After Derek gets out of prison, he realizes the mistakes he's made and changes his ways for the sake of his family. His younger brother Danny, who looks up to his older brother begins to follow in his older brother's footsteps. Derek tries to get Danny to understand that there's consequences to his actions, and tells him the reality of what prison is like (which isn't pleasant at all). Although Derek tries his best to turn his life around and prevent his brother from going down the same path as he did, tragedy is the end result. Controversial and violent, but with a powerful moral message. Edward Norton's performance is astounding and incredibly frightening. Starring Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo, Avery Brooks, Jennifer Lien, Ethan Suplee, Stacy Keach, Fairuza Balk, Elliott Gould 9/10

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

In this sequel to the 1984 film, the same terminator that tried to kill Sarah Connor comes back again. But this time in the year 1994 and is assigned to protect her and her son from the T-1000, a more sophisticated terminating machine made of liquid metal. John is now ten years old and in a foster home while Sarah is locked up in Pescadero State Hospital, a mental institution. A juvenile delinquent that has been in trouble more than once, John is shocked when he meets the terminator but remembers his mother telling him about it. When his foster parents are killed, John orders the terminator to help him bust his mother out of Pescadero. Once they do that, they prepare to fight the T-1000, getting weapons ready and transportation. But Sarah has other plans in mind; she takes off on her own mission to kill the man responsible, a computer developer called Miles Dyson so it will prevent the war from happening. However, John wants to stop her so he and the terminator go to his house before she does. They then plan to destroy all of Miles's work at the lab, including the chip that was saved from the previous terminator. A roller-coaster ride; with even more awesome special effects, this is one of the best sci-fi sequels ever made. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, Earl Boen, Joe Morton, S. Epatha Merkerson 9/10

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Terminator (1984)

In the year 2029, a computer called Skynet is fighting against a human resistance, after having destroyed nearly all of humanity in 1997. A cyborg is sent back in time to the year 1984 to kill the mother of John Connor, the Leader of the human resistance. This cyborg doesn't have any remorse or pity or fear and will stop at nothing to kill Sarah Connor before she can have her son. But another person has been sent back in time as well, a soldier named Kyle Reese who is sent to protect her. Reese attempts to get to Sarah before the Terminator does and from there it's a race for survival to stay alive. With unbelievable stunts and special effects; this film is a thrillingly great ride to watch. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Bess Motta, Earl Boen, Bill Paxton 8/10

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Ace Ventura is a hip, eccentric pet detective living in Florida. He is just like a cop but he's hired by people who have missing or stolen pets. Two weeks before the Super Bowl, the Miami Dolphins football mascot, a bottle-nosed dolphin named Snowflake goes missing. Ace is employed by Chief Publicist Melissa Robinson to find him. Not only that but when Dan Marino, the quarterback of the Dolphins is also kidnapped, Ace helps the cops to find him as well. One of my favorite Jim Carrey films; the gags are hysterical, the dialogue is laugh out loud funny and Carrey is wild and zany. Starring Jim Carrey, Courteney Cox, Sean Young, Tone Loc, Dan Marino 7/10

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Lloyd Christmas is a dim-witted limousine driver who falls head over heels for a young woman named Mary Swanson when he picks her up to drive her to the airport. But when he sees her leave her briefcase there, he snatches it up before two thugs arrive to pick it up. Unfortunately he doesn't get to her in time, so he decides to take a trip to Aspen where she said she was heading so he can deliver it to her himself, thinking that she'll be so happy to see it she'll fall madly in love with him. Lloyd's friend Harry Dunne, also a bit slow and stupid, is in the pet grooming business when he loses his job. Lloyd loses his job as well, and both desperate Lloyd tells Harry about his plan to go to Aspen. So they go in Harry's van (that looks like a sheepdog) and take a cross-country road trip to Aspen, Colorado. The criminals follow them because they are after the same briefcase. Hilarious hi-jinks ensue as they take the wrong route and end up in Nebraska, and they accidentally kill one of the thugs by feeding him rat poison. What Harry and Lloyd don't realize until later is that there's ransom money in the briefcase, which Mary had purposely left at the airport terminal in exchange for her husband, who's been kidnapped. A crude but funny comedy; Carrey and Daniels are both very convincing as the two dim-witted pals. Starring Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, Mike Star, Karen Duffy, Teri Garr 7/10

Friday, September 3, 2010

East of Eden (1955)

Set around World War One in the Salinas Valley, Cal Trask is an unhappy young man who feels like he's competing with his brother Aron, for their father's affections. His father Adam never tells Cal he loves him or that he needs him in any way and calls him bad, while Aron is the perfect one who always does the right thing. Cal is also jealous of the relationship between Aron and his girlfriend, Abra. One evening Cal discovers that his mother (whom Adam told them was dead) is still alive and living elsewhere as a madame of a local brothel. When Adam's lettuce business falls through, Cal wants to start his own business of growing beans so he can pay back the money his father lost. So he asks his mother Kate for start-up money and when they get into the war the price of beans rises and he ends up making a small fortune. He decides to give the money as a gift to his father when he has a surprise birthday party for him. But when his father rejects it, he is heartbroken and brings Aron show him their mother. Abra falls in love with Cal while Aron, shocked by this leaves to fight in the war while Adam has a stroke so it's up to Cal to take care of him. A magnificent classic; James Dean is perfect in this film about the Bible retelling of Cain and Abel. Starring James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, Jo Van Fleet, Lois Smith 10/10

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sleeper (1973)

Allen plays Miles Monroe, a clarinet player and health food store owner who lived in Greenwich Village in 1973 and has been cryogenically frozen. Two-hundred years later, scientists thaw him out so they can have him overthrow the government. But when the authorities bust them, it's up to Miles to find out on his own what the "Aires Project" is. To avoid the law, he disguises as a robot butler in socialite Luna Schlosser's house. However when she goes to have his head changed, he reveals his true identity. She freaks out and he kidnaps her so she won't tell the police about him. They fall in love, but eventually he gets caught and is brainwashed to live in society while she joins the Underground Movement and becomes a rebel. Luna goes to get him out, but he forgets everything so she and another rebel named Erno try to jog his memory. Miles and Luna successfully break into the Aires Project; and learn that the Leader was killed and all that survived was his nose. So Miles and Luna pretend to be doctors so they can steal the nose and assassinate the leader. My favorite of Woody Allen's films; with witty one-liners and hilarious monologues, this classic comedy never ceases to make me laugh. Starring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck, Mary Gregory, Don Keefer, Brian Avery 8/10

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)

Times are rough at Rio Rancho Estates. The real estate salesmen are frustrated with the same dead-beat leads they're getting, they want the good leads. But good leads have to be earned. There is no room for losers in this competitive, masculine world. One rainy night a quick-tempered, brash businessman man named Blake is sent by the owners to tell them there's going to be a contest in which only "closers" get the new Glengarry leads; first prize for the winner is a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize a set of steak knives and the third prize is you're fired. So the employees of Rio Rancho go out and attempt to close; the veteran Shelley Levene, the hotshot Ricky Roma, Dave Moss the distraught one and the weak George Aaronow. Unfortunately, things are made all the more difficult when the new leads are stolen and everyone is a suspect. Every actor in this film is astonishing, based on David Mamet's play. Starring Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Ed Harris, Kevin Spacey, Jonathan Pryce, Bruce Altman, Jude Ciccolella 8/10