Tag: movie reviews

GFS Home Movies: The Stranger (1946)

GFS Home Movies: The Stranger (1946)

Movies
The storytelling device of the Nazi hunter in search of German war criminals scattered to the four winds after World War II has been around so long, it's hard to imagine a time when it was really fresh. And so it must have seemed especially visceral for audiences to watch Orson Welles' 1946 film noir classic The Stranger, released just 17 days after the first anniversary of V-E Day. The central plot of The Stranger concerns Mr. Wilson (the ever-brilliant Edward G. Robinson) of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and his hunt for the infamous Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler. Wilson releases a German prisoner and confederate of Kindler, Konrad Meinike (Konstantin Shayne), in the hopes that he will lead him to Kindler. Before long the story shifts to the bucolic New England town o
GFS Home Movies: Dames (1934)

GFS Home Movies: Dames (1934)

Movies
I have made no secret of the fact that I don't care for movie musicals. But I think what I'm discovering over the years is that there's a certain type of musical I don't like. I can't put my finger on it yet, but there has to be some sort of connection between the musicals I do like -- Chicago, Singin' in the Rain, and now Dames. I came across Dames (Warner Bros., 1934) while researching a piece of Popdose on the Flamingos' version of "I Only Have Eyes for You." Turns out that the song -- composed by Harry Warren and Al Dubin -- was introduced in Dames as one of the film's showpiece musical numbers. And man, what a showpiece it is! More on that in a bit. (more…)
GFS Home Movies — Halloween III: Season of the Witch

GFS Home Movies — Halloween III: Season of the Witch

Movies
To understand just how large a failure Halloween III: Season of the Witch was, first consider the premise. An evil scientist/company owner seeks to use a vaguely mystical and ancient pagan technology to kill millions of children wearing Halloween masks. Now say that out loud. Sounds awful, doesn't it? And yet this was the story that John Carpenter and Debra Hill ostensibly signed off on for the third installment in Carpenter's legendary Halloween horror series. Look, bonus points to Carpenter and Hill for boldly moving away from what was already becoming a tired genre -- the slasher film. It's hard to imagine now, but their 1978 original was just that -- original. And the sequel, while not nearly as groundbreaking, was almost as good. But by 1982 it was already clear that Hollywood stud
GFS at the Movies: Argo

GFS at the Movies: Argo

Movies
There was a time when Ben Affleck was an afterthought for me. He was affable enough and had some acting chops, but mainly I viewed him as an attachment to Matt Damon, and not much more. But here I am, several years after Good Will Hunting, Dazed and Confused, and -- Lord help us all -- Gigli, Daredevil, and Jersey Girl, and I might now be a legitimate fan of Ben Affleck. What sealed the deal was watching his latest film, Argo. I've glanced at a lot of articles and reviews of Argo that take issue with the movie's treatment of the real story -- the so-called Canadian Caper -- surrounding the rescue of six American embassy workers from Revolutionary Iran in 1980. They miss the point completely. It should go without saying that this is a movie, not a documentary, but I suppose people ca...
GFS Home Movies: The Naked City

GFS Home Movies: The Naked City

Movies
Completely by chance, I was perusing the March 22, 1948 edition of Life magazine on Google Books -- hey, I never claimed to lead an exciting or glamorous existence -- and stumbled across an article on The Naked City. I had heard of it before, but never really made an effort to seek it out. But the internet being the wonder it is, I was on YouTube and watching it within minutes. And the internet being the pain in the ass it is, the fifth part of the movie was missing. I was already invested in things by then, so after a brief delay I managed to find an alternative source. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more. I'm always wary of watching these old movies. They so rarely hold up well. Something about the acting or directing back then just seems so stuffy now. Not sure why that is, but 9 ...
GFS home movies: The Thing (1982)

GFS home movies: The Thing (1982)

Movies
I spent a lot of time as a kid watching horror movies, but somehow never got around to watching John Carpenter's 1982 classic The Thing. Spurred on by the impending release of the so-called prequel (directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.), I decided to rectify that. Sure enough, it was great. The Thing works as a straight horror movie in that there are plenty of gruesome deaths and disturbing visual effects, but where it really succeeds is as a psychological thriller. Throughout most of the movie I kept recalling the classic Twilight Zone episode, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street." The premise of the two is the same -- a mysterious alien entity has made its presence known and a formerly tight-knit group succumbs to paranoia and the violence it inevitably breeds. The main differenc...
GFS home movies: Gojira (Godzilla)

GFS home movies: Gojira (Godzilla)

Movies
Here's what I remember about Godzilla -- a guy wearing a rubber suit fought another guy wearing a rubber suit, or maybe a fake monster suspended on some wires. There was a lot of really earnest-looking Japanese actors moving their mouths, but instead I heard really melodramatic English voices. In some of the movies, Godzilla was even a good guy of sorts, to the point that little kids were sad to see him go at the end of the film. I knew all about the subtext for Godzilla, which is that he was some kind of symbol for the anxieties of the Japanese over atomic bombs and radiation. But to me, very little separated Godzilla movies from American-written, period movie monster fare like Them! or The Day of the Triffids. I mean, who hasn't had a little fun yelling "Gozirraaaa!" while mimicking b...
GFS home movies: SoulBoy

GFS home movies: SoulBoy

Movies
I don't think it's possible for me to watch a coming-of-age dance movie like SoulBoy without tracing some threads back to the godfather of them all - Saturday Night Fever.  The key story elements are all there.  Working-class boy meets a girl seemingly beyond reach, and sets about to win her through the power of dance.  He is oblivious to the adoration of a more down-to-earth girl.  Along the way he grows up a little, comes to resent his clownish friends, and it all ends with a climactic dance-off for all the glory. The two leading men - Martin Compston's Joe McCain and John Travolta's Tony Manero - seem to be cut from the same cloth.  They're both working class stiffs (Joe is a delivery boy, Tony is a paint store lackey), they both find purpose in dancing, and they both eventually
GFS at the Movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

GFS at the Movies: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Movies
As delighted as Potterphiles were when it was announced that the final entry in J.K. Rowling's seven-part series would be split into two movies, so were non-fans and haters bemused and annoyed.  So I think the first question that needs to be answered about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 is, was it a wise artistic decision or a cynical cash grab? I think it's probably a bit of both, but as a fan I think it was definitely a good move.  There is simply too much story to be crammed into one, three-hour film, a lesson we all learned the hard way with the Half-Blood Prince.  By devoting an entire movie to the first part of the story, Deathly Hallows flows much more smoothly and I didn't feel like I had to have crib notes or keep my head on a swivel. Director David Yates a