A Movie A Day #112: The Trial (1993, directed by David Jones)


One morning, in turn of the century Prague, Josef K. (Kyle MacLachlan) wakes up to discover that two detectives are in his room.  They tell him that he is under arrest but they do not tell him the charges.  Josef remains free to go about his everyday life but he must report to the court whenever the court deems to see him.  No matter where Josef turns or who he talks to, he cannot get any answers concerning what he has been charged with.  Even his disinterested attorney (Jason Robards) can not give him a straight answer on why he is being prosecuted.  No matter how much Josef protests that he is innocent of whatever has been accused of, his fate has already been decided.

On paper, this film version of Franz Kafka’s classic novel sound like it should be a masterpiece.  The film was shot on location in Prague, the script was written by Harold Pinter, and Kyle MacLachlan seems like the perfect choice for Josef K.  Unfortunately, director David Jones takes a very straightforward approach to the material and does not exploit the story’s nightmarish qualities.  This is a version of Kafka that could easily play on Masterpiece Theater.  (The perfect choice to direct The Trial would have been MacLachlan’s frequent director, David Lynch.)  MacLachlan does well as Josef K. but he is overshadowed by a steady and distracting stream of cameos from actors like Anthony Hopkins, Alfred Molina, and David Thewlis.

Despite not being totally faithful to its source material, Orson Welles’s 1962 adaptation, which stars Anthony Perkins as Josef K., remains the version to see.

Hell Bent for Vengeance: Randolph Scott in DECISION AT SUNDOWN (Columbia 1957)


cracked rear viewer

I seem to have gained some new channels along with my new DirecTV receiver. I’m not sure why, but I won’t argue…  at least until I see the bill! One of them is Sony Movie Channel, featuring the Columbia Pictures catalog, and I recently viewed DECISION AT SUNDOWN, the third of seven Western collaborations between star Randolph Scott  and director Budd Boetticher. The plot and setting are simple, yet within that framework we get a tense psychological drama about a man consumed by vengeance and hatred.

Scott, still cutting a dashing figure at age 59, plays Bart Allison, who along with his pal Sam, ride into the town of Sundown on the day of Tate Kimbrough’s wedding to Lucy Summerton. Bart’s not there to offer his congratulations though; he announces his intention to kill town boss Tate. The reason: Bart holds Tate responsible for his wife’s suicide three years ago. Bart and Sam then hole up…

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Movie Preview: American Exorcism


First off, let me say, I get a lot of movie screeners. Most just don’t fit my style of reviewing. When I saw this one in my inbox I knew it was right up my ally.

Let’s get the technical out of the way and then we can talk about the movie.

American ExorcismWriter and Director: Tripp Weathers

Cast:

Braxton Davis: (The Bay) as Will

Michael Filipowich  (24) as Damon

Jessica Morris: (Lucifer) (One Life To Live) as Janelle

Distributed by:

Uncork’d Entertainment

Produced by:

Thriller Films in association with Master Key Productions.

Plot:

Damon Richter thought he left the world of possessions, exorcisms, and evil behind until an old friend arrives with frightening information about his estranged daughter knowing that only his otherworldly skills can save her.

Preview:

Early on we meet Damon (Filipowich) A loving and caring father with some serious past. He uses his possession to fight the possessions of others. Caught in a battle between his family and his possession, he has a choice to make between his family or…..

10 years later; Damon is forced with the same choice again…

Review:

Actually, this is a completely different spin on the classic “Exorcism” story that we all know. Yes, it has some of the same elements, however (without giving spoilers) it is different. And, if you are willing to suspend belief, this is actually a fairly good horror movie.

Complaints:

The CGI left a lot to be desired. I get the budget, but still (no pun intended) it could have been a lot better. Although, as I have watched it twice now, it does add a certain nuance to it.

Overall:

If you are into horror and/or supernatural it is definitely worth the watch!

The trailer for American Exorcism can be found here:

 

American Exorcism will be available on VOD May 2nd and on DVD August 1st

A Movie A Day #111: I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990, directed by Tobe Hooper)


Sweet and repressed Amy (Madchen Amick) is a college student who has too much on her plate.  She has to take care of her greedy grandmother (Natalie Schaefer, of Gilligan’s Island fame).  She has to read a book for her study partner (Corey Parker).  She has to sew a dress for her older sister, Gloria (Daisy Hall).  She has to find props for the school play.  It is her search for props that leads to her buying an old chest at an estate sale.  Inside the chest is a red cloak.  Amy turns the red cloak into a dress but what she does not know is that the red cloak was previously won by Aztec priests while they conducted human sacrifices.  As Professor Buchanan (Anthony Perkins) later explains, anyone who wears the dress will be driven to do evil.

Like Hitler’s Daughter and Deadly Game, I’m Dangerous Tonight was a USA original film.  Like those two films, and despite the combined talents of the star of Psycho and the director of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I’m Dangerous Tonight is not very good. Perkins is mostly just used for exposition while Hooper’s direction suggests that his main concern was picking up his paycheck.  I’m Dangerous Tonight will be best appreciated by fans of Madchen Amick.  Amick is not only beautiful here but she also plays a character far different from Twin Peaks’s Shelly Johnson.

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for R. Lee Ermey, playing a tough, cigar-chomping police detective as only he can.

Rat Pack – 3 = FOUR FOR TEXAS (Warner Brothers 1963)


cracked rear viewer

The wait is finally over, my new DirecTV receiver has arrived and is all hooked up! Unfortunately, all my DVR’d movies have vanished. And since it was filled to about 70% capacity, that’s a lot of movies! Needless to say, I’ve got to load up the ol’ DVR again. Thanks to TCM, I re-recorded one of my old favorites the other day, FOUR FOR TEXAS, an action-packed Western comedy I’ve seen about 100 times already (ok, that’s a slight exaggeration). This combines the two leaders of the Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin , with the talents of director Robert Aldrich. The result is an all-star, slam-bang entertainment that is loads of fun for film fans.

The pre-credits sequence looks like we’re about to watch a traditional Western, with a gang of outlaws led by Charles Bronson   riding out to ambush a stagecoach. But wait, that’s Frankie and Dino…

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Movie a Day #110: Femme Fatale (1991, directed by Andre R. Guttfreund)


Joseph Price (Colin Firth) was once a painter but now he is the world’s least likely park ranger.  One day, he meets the beautiful and mysterious Cynthia (Lisa Zane).  Within days, Joe and Cynthia are married but one morning, Joe wakes up to discover that Cynthia is gone and she has only left behind a brief note.  Searching for his wife, Joe goes to Los Angeles and discovers how little he knew about Cynthia.  Joe’s search eventually leads him into the world of porn, drugs, S&M, and performance art.

This month, every entry in Movie A Day has had a least one Twin Peaks connection.  Femme Fatale has two.  Joe’s best friend, a laid back artist who is usually seen painting a topless woman who sometimes wears a brown bag over her head, is played by Billy Zane, who appeared as John Justice Wheeler during the second season of Twin Peaks.  Also, Catherine Coulson (the show’s famous Log Lady) appears as a nun who provides an important clue to Cynthia’s past.

Femme Fatale used to show up on HBO in the 1990s and it is currently on YouTube.  It may not be a great film but it does have a good cast.  Along with Billy Zane and Coulson, Femme Fatale also features Scott Wilson as a shady psychologist, Lisa Blount as an actress who used to work with Cynthia, and Pat Skipper and John Lavachielli as two talkative thugs named Ed and Ted.  Both Carmine Caridi and the great Danny Trejo show up in small roles.  It may seem strange to cast the very British Colin Firth as a park ranger but it works.  As for Lisa Zane, who is Billy’s older sister, Cynthia was probably her best role.

Predictable though the movie may be, Femme Fatale is enjoyably stupid if you are in the right mood.  There should always be a time and place for the old neo noirs of 1990s.

A Movie A Day #109: Where’s Marlowe? (1999, directed by Daniel Pyne)


Two documentarians (Mos Def and John Livingston) decided to make a film about two real-life private detectives, Joe Boone (Miguel Ferrer) and Kevin Murphy (John Slattery).  At first, Boone is skeptical of the two filmmakers.  He watched their last documentary, a three-hour epic about New York’s water supply, and was disappointed by the lack of sex.  However, as the two filmmakers follow him around, he warms up to them and they discover that the tough and sarcastic Boone is actually a soft-hearted idealist who can barely pay the bills.  When Boone discovers that Murphy is sleeping with the wife of one of their clients, their partnership dissolves.  It looks like Boone is going to have to shut down his agency, unless the two filmmakers can help him solve his latest case.

Where’s Marlowe? starts out strong by focusing on Miguel Ferrer’s performance as Joe Boone.  Ferrer did not get to play many leading roles but he was perfectly cast as Joe Boone.  He is completely believable as an old-fashioned private investigator struggling to survive in the modern world.  During the movie’s less interesting second half, the attention shifts to the filmmakers trying to help Boone.  Mos Def and John Livingston are good in their roles but the film’s focus should have stayed on Ferrer.  Unfortunately, the main mystery is never as interesting as Miguel Ferrer’s solid lead performance.

Where’s Marlowe? started out as a pilot and it is easy to see where it would have gone if it had become a television series.  For all of its flaws, it is worth it just to see Miguel Ferrer in a rare leading role.