Archive for category: Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

30 April, 2015 (05:28) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Science Fiction | By: Robert Horton

The characters in current superhero movies must’ve grown up reading comic books. In Marvel’s run of blockbusters, Iron Man and Thor and the gang (well, maybe not Captain America) are steeped in cultural references; they know all the clichés of pulp fiction, even as they embody them. Aware of the absurdity of wearing tights and […]

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Film Review: ‘Misery Loves Comedy’

30 April, 2015 (05:24) | by Sean Axmaker, Documentary, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

“Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” That’s the question at the center of Kevin Pollak’s documentary, signaling a somewhat different approach to the culture of comedy and comedians. (A veteran stand-up performer himself, Pollak also acts on TV and in films including The Usual Suspects.) With Robin Williams’ startling suicide still a […]

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Videophiled: Jean-Pierre Melville’s ‘Le Silence de la Mer’ on Criterion

29 April, 2015 (15:53) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Le Silence de la Mer (Criterion, Blu-ray, DVD), the debut feature by Jean-Pierre Melville, was both a labor of love based on novella that was considered an almost sacred text by the French Resistance and a maverick, self-financed gamble to break into the film industry as a director. A decade before the nouvelle vague, Melville […]

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A Neglected Western: ‘Colorado Territory’

29 April, 2015 (05:38) | by Peter Hogue, Essays, Film Reviews, Raoul Walsh, Westerns | By: Peter Hogue

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975] Colorado Territory, a remake of the High Sierra plot, is an early masterpiece of the pessimistic Western. It retains the High Sierra story and works variations on most of that film’s characters. But some significant changes are also made and the result, on the whole, is much […]

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‘He’s from back home': Man and Myth in ‘High Sierra’

27 April, 2015 (05:26) | by Rick Hermann, Essays, Film Reviews, Raoul Walsh, Westerns | By: Rick Hermann

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975] One of the most memorable scenes in High Sierra takes place when Roy Earle (Humphrey Bogart) is driving towards Camp Shaw high in the mountains of California after being released from prison. The camera sweeps the Sierra peaks and pans down to Earle’s car as he pauses […]

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Silents Please!: ‘Silent Ozu – Three Crime Dramas’

26 April, 2015 (08:23) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

Silent Ozu – Three Crime Dramas (Eclipse 42) (Criterion, DVD) is an apt companion piece to Criterion’s previous set of silent Yasujiro Ozu films on their Eclipse line. The artist called the most “Japanese” of Japanese directors, famous for the quiet restraint and rigorous simplicity of his sound films, was a voracious film buff more […]

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Silents Please!: ‘The House of Mystery’ from Flicker Alley

25 April, 2015 (08:11) | by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Silent Cinema | By: Sean Axmaker

The House of Mystery (La Maison du Mystère) (Flicker Alley, DVD) – Serials—the adventure cliffhangers what would play out in theaters before the main feature at a chapter a week—are commonly dismissed as kid stuff, glorified B-movies cranked out with little thought for story or character. France, however, produced some serials with high production values […]

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Videophiled: ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’

23 April, 2015 (17:25) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Horror | By: Sean Axmaker

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Kino Lorber, Blu-ray, DVD, Netflix), written and directed by California-based and Iranian-born filmmaker Ana Lily Amirpour, is a genre film with a fresh approach and a distinctive cultural texture: a vampire movie from a female director who stirs American movie references into her stylized Iranian street drama. The […]

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Film Review: ‘Amour Fou’

23 April, 2015 (05:04) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

In November 1811, in accordance with their suicide pact, the great German Romantic writer Heinrich von Kleist shot and killed Henriette Vogel on the shores of the Kleiner Wannsee outside Berlin. Then he shot himself in the head. There are undoubtedly many ways you could tell this story, and some of them would be of […]

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Film Review: ‘The Water Diviner’

23 April, 2015 (04:59) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews | By: Robert Horton

Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) is a dowser, a man who can find water in the Australian desert—a talent he will later employ when he goes searching for the bodies of his three sons, all lost on the same day in the disastrous World War I battle of Gallipoli. This supernatural touch isn’t really necessary to […]

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Film Review: ‘Little Boy’

23 April, 2015 (04:51) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

This home-front family drama of hope, friendship, and faith, shot through the sepia-tinged light and faded hues of nostalgia, is part of a new trend. Faith-based movies are increasingly breaking out of niche theaters and into wide release. Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, prior stewards of The Bible and Son of God, are executive producers […]

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Boys at Work: ‘They Drive by Night’ and ‘Manpower’

20 April, 2015 (05:35) | by Peter Hogue, Essays, Film Reviews, Raoul Walsh | By: Editor

[Originally published in Movietone News 45, November 1975] They Drive by Night and Manpower gave Walsh some contact with another Warners specialty, the workingman picture. Both films tell us something about the conditions under which their respective kinds of work, commercial trucking and powerline repair, are conducted. Walsh, characteristically, puts greater emphasis on comedy than […]

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Videophiled: ‘Day of Anger’ and ‘Massacre Gun’ – Two from Arrow U.S.

18 April, 2015 (08:32) | Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, DVD, Film Reviews, Westerns | By: Sean Axmaker

Day of Anger (Arrow / MVD, Blu-ray, DVD) is another reminder of why Lee Van Cleef became a major spaghetti western star. He doesn’t just dominate Day of Anger (1967), he owns the film as a Frank Talby, a smiling gunman who rides into the thoroughly corrupt town of Clifton, Arizona (which, of course, is […]

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Film Review: ‘Jauja’

16 April, 2015 (05:18) | by Sean Axmaker, Film Reviews | By: Sean Axmaker

Back in 2009, Argentine filmmaker Lisandro Alonso came to Seattle for a retrospective of his still-young career, including his new film Liverpool, which NWFF subsequently distributed in the U.S. Jauja is his first feature since that critical breakout, and his most commercial to date—though still with plenty of space for Alonso-ian mysteries. The title, pronounced […]

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Film Review: ‘Backcountry’

16 April, 2015 (05:13) | by Robert Horton, Film Reviews, Horror | By: Robert Horton

See, this is why I don’t go camping. In its opening half-hour (the film saves its explicit violence, including quite a bit of gore, for its final 30 minutes), Backcountry conjures a series of terrors about being in the middle of nowhere—in this case, a Canadian forest. Is the aggressive stranger with the survivalist knife […]

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