The Fly (1986, Directed by David Cronenberg) English 9

Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, Leslie Carlson, Joy Boushel, George Chuvalo, David Cronenberg

The Fly's Deleted “Monkey-Cat” Scene Was Too Brutal

(9-Great Film)

Mesmerizing. Grotesque. Effective.

Ronnie: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Seth Brundle (Goldblum) is quite possibly a genius. When the beautiful journalist, Ronnie (Davis), goes out with him one night, she stumbles upon his plan to create human teleportation. The two fall in love, and all seems well, but, in that grand H.G Wells tradition, Brundle’s experiment goes wrong and the result is his body’s slow decay and transformation into some kind of human-fly. Hard to watch at times, but harder to stop watching, The Fly is so beautifully disgusting. Goldblum and Davis have excellent chemistry and much of the first half plays out like a charming romantic-comedy. The second half, though, is pure horror mixed with tragedy. Whether you see Brundle’s downfall as symbolic of a cancer or another example of a brilliant scientist going too far and paying the price, The Fly is infinitely, grotesquely entertaining.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Wicker Man (1973, Directed by Robin Hardy) English 9

Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Lindsat Kemp

The Wicker Man (1973) | BFI

(9-Great Film)

Odd. Striking. Brilliant.

Sergeant Howie: Oh, what is all this? I mean, you’ve got fake biology, fake religion… Sir, have these children never heard of Jesus?

Nearing fifty years old, The Wicker Man, nevertheless, strikes me as a modern film, and, as such, its steadfast and impossibly earnest protagonist, Sergeant Howie (Woodward), seems misplaced. You won’t find many movies post-Hollywood’s studio era with a hero as moral and upright as Sergeant Howie. He’s more like a hero out of an old western. This, of course, is the point. Sergeant Howie is sent to the Island of Summerisle to investigate the disappearance of a young school-age girl. Once there, the devoutly Christian Sergeant finds himself in the center of a sex-obsessed pagan cult led by Lord Summerisle (Lee). Tempted at every turn, The Wicker Man is, on one hand, Sergeant Howie’s horrific, nightmarish descent. More conspicuously, however, this is one of the strangest films ever made; fish-out-of-water humor, Christopher Lee wigs, a catchy and perverse soundtrack. At its center though, is Sergeant Howie and the towering performance by Edward Woodward.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Stalag 17 (1953, Directed by Billy Wilder) English 8

Starring William Holden, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck, Don Taylor, Sig Ruman, Peter Graves, Neville Brand

Stalag 17 (1953) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

(8-Exceptional Film)

Irreverent. Masculine. Engrossing.

Sefton: There are two people in this barracks who know I didn’t do it. Me and the guy that did do it.

Sgt. J.J Sefton (Holden) isn’t your typical hero. Even as an antihero, he stands far from the pack. For the majority of Stalag 17, he wants no part of anything heroic, and seems fairly content to have given up. He’s a prisoner of war held in a camp famed for letting no one escape. He’s selfish, apathetic, and ruthless, but when two fellow prisoners of war are foiled and killed in their escape attempt, and Sefton is beaten by the other prisoners who suspect him of being a traitor (one that tips off the Nazis for small benefits), Sefton’s determined to get back at the real traitor just as soon as he figures out who it is. I’m amazed with every Billy Wilder film that I see with how he balances tones. Stalag 17 is another layered work and further evidence of his brilliance. Broad and bawdy in its comedy, the film as a whole, somehow manages to be as gripping and eventually rousing as any straight dramatic classic. Holden won his only Oscar for this performance and he’s convincing at every stage of Sefton’s arc. Sefton’s not even necessarily the main character for much of the film, as it’s a true ensemble piece, but slowly, reluctantly, he becomes a memorable hero.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Hubie Halloween (2020, Directed by Steven Brill) English 5

Starring Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Chiklis, June Squibb, Ray Liotta, Rob Schneider, Colin Quinn, Blake Clark, Kym Whitley, George Wallace

Adam Sandler's Hubie Halloween Debuts at #1 on Netflix's Top 10 Trending  Chart

(5-Okay Film)

Goofy. Modest. Nice.

Hubie’s Mother: True bravery’s being kind, even to those who are being cruel to you.

Comedy and horror mash-up well together, and this film looked to have its roots in classics like the old Abbott and Costello monster flicks or Bob Hope’s The Ghost Breakers. That was enough to lure me in, despite an extensive recent record of mediocrity from Happy Madison’s productions. Hubie Halloween is middle-of-the-road Sandler. Not nearly as miserable an experience as Jack and Jill but not as funny as his best comedies like Happy Gilmore for instance. He plays the town dolt, a local punching-bag in the historic town of Salem, Massachusetts. Obsessed with Halloween, his purpose in life is to protect those around him, despite their disdain for him. One person who’s always been nice to him, though, is Violet Valentine (Bowen), his childhood crush. This Halloween, he finally gets a chance to face off with something sinister and to profess his feelings to Violet.

A couple of positives first: Sandler’s movies are often underlined by what feels like genuine sweetness and he makes a point of capping every story with a positive message. It’s easy to be cynical (and more artistic) but he’s made a career out of mixing his humor with saccharine sweetness. I also enjoyed the frequent nods to several of Happy Madison’s earlier films. Ultimately, however, Hubie Halloween could have been funnier, it could have been scarier, and I could have done without the annoying voice Sandler goes with here.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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There’s Something About Mary (1998, Directed by Peter and Bobby Farrelly) English 9

Starring Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, Chris Elliot, Jeffrey Tambor, Lin Shaye, Keith David, Sarah Silverman, Richard Jenkins, Harland Williams, W. Earl Brown

There's Something About Mary' Turns 20 Today - LADbible

(9-Great Film)

Crude. Endearing. Influential.

Ted: You said she was a real sparkplug.

Pat Healy: No, I said buttplug. She’s heinous.

Crude and charming would seem an unlikely pair, but the Farrelly brothers, early on in their careers, made a trio of such films: Dumb and Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary. These comedies were inspired, fresh, and, most importantly, funny, with There’s Something About Mary being the best of the bunch. Ben Stiller plays sweet and mostly innocent dork, Ted, still pining after his high school crush, Mary (Diaz), over a decade later. One can see why. She’s beautiful, fun, easy-going, and loves football; the dream-girl, in other words. Unfortunately, she’s like a magnet for deadbeats, including the private eye Ted hires to help him, Pat Healy (Dillon), who instead uses his intel to shoot his own shot with her. Several memorably funny scenes stand out, but the Farrelly’s demonstrate a talent for lightness in between the big laughs that give the film its heart and make it more than just an absurd laugh riot. The singing narrator, for instance, modeled after Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye from Cat Ballou, was a nice touch.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Game (1997, Directed by David Fincher) English 6

Starring Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Carroll Baker, Peter Donat, Armin Mueller-Stahl

Tim Robey recommends... The Game (1997)

(6-Good Film)

Intriguing. Adept. Preposterous.

Daniel Schorr: Discovering the object of the game *is* the object of the game.

The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton (Douglas), a big-time businessman that seems to value money over the people in his life. He’s approaching his 48th birthday (his father’s age when he killed himself) and his ne’er-do-well brother, Conrad (Penn), shows up with a surprise gift; an elaborate and mysterious set of experiences known simply as “The Game.” It doesn’t take long for it to get out of hand. David Fincher, in his own assessment, lamented this film’s final act. They never did figure it out and it doesn’t really work. What does work is The Game’s first 2 acts; suspenseful, gripping, atmospheric, handsome, and well-acted. Douglas made a long, successful career largely built on roles like this one; the ice-cold, intelligent man in power. Fincher proves to be a modern master of suspense. Both men are in their element.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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The Thin Man Goes Home (1944, Directed by Richard Thorpe) English 7

Starring William Powell, Myrna Loy, Lucile Watson, Gloria DeHaven, Leon Ames, Anne Revere, Harry Davenport, Edward Brophy

the thin man goes home | Tumblr

(7-Very Good Film)

Charming. Fun. Endearing.

Mrs. Charles: Well, all I can say is if you’re looking for crime in Sycamore Springs, you’ll have to commit it yourself.

Nora Charles: I wonder? Nicky always says that there’s a skeleton in nearly every closet and if you rattle it hard enough something always happens.

I’d watch Nick and Nora, fabulously witty married couple and part-time sleuths, go anywhere. In The Thin Man Goes Home, their fifth outing, the Charles’ visit Nick’s parents in some small New England town, where Nora meets his disapproving father (Davenport). Nora desperately wants her father-in-law to be impressed with Nick, who’s pretty much given up on that idea, but something of a dark, sinister miracle occurs when a dead body turns up at their front door, and Nick gets the opportunity to show how brilliant he is as a detective. After the first two truly surprising and original outings, the Thin Man series follows a fairly clear formula. You’ll get no complaints from me as I love these films and these characters, including Nick’s loyal brigade of small-time crooks.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Pensées #15: Hoping for Mulan’s Failure

Before I get to my point, I should make clear, I don’t live in America. So I’ve already seen Disney’s newest remake, Mulan, and I saw it in my local theater (the way it was intended to be seen). Unlike previous remakes, Mulan attempts to tell an almost completely original story, or, better put, one that’s independent from its animated predecessor. That means no Mushu, no musical numbers, new bad guys, and, ultimately, no fun. I respect the attempt, but after seeing the finished film (which feels very much unfinished and in need of a few rewrites), I can say that the new Mulan is rather stale and greatly disappointing. It also comes with a wide range of controversies, which I won’t list here because, if you care, you already know about them. Besides, controversy doesn’t affect my opinion of a film and none of this is why I’m hoping it fails to earn Disney money this season. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the impracticality of movie theaters right now, Disney was forced to get creative. Their plan B was to offer it on their relatively new streaming service (Disney Plus) for a whopping $30. I understand that if you compare it to a family spending an evening at the movie theater, $30 is probably much less than they’d expect to spend. I don’t care. This is a horrible solution threatening to further alienate the movie theater business which is in danger of becoming obsolete. I’m afraid people are getting used to life without movie theaters. I could never. I love the cinema and I don’t want to see this $30 a movie to become the norm. I think studios still rely heavily on box office returns and they don’t necessarily want this either, but that’s simply because movies make more money in theaters. If studios somehow figured out how to make a huge profit through streaming, they would in a heartbeat. Mulan is Disney dipping their toes in the water. I don’t want to give them an ounce of encouragement.

Mulan' Release Date Changes Again - Variety

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

Day of the Outlaw (1959, Directed by André De Toth) English 8

Starring Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise, Alan Marshal, Venetia Stevenson, Jack Lambert, David Nelson, Elisha Cook Jr.

Day of the Outlaw | Trailers From Hell

(8-Exceptional Film)

Bleak. Brutal. Beautiful.

Doc Langer: Well, I gave him a big shot of morphine. It deadens pain, makes the patient feel fine, but as soon as this dose wears off, he’s going to start coughing. Each cough’s going to rip the lungs a little bit more. A few hours after he starts coughing, he’s going to die.

The snow falls. The wind rages. A dying horse can be see almost crawling, slowly, on its knees. Set in 19th century Wyoming, this is a brutal environment, and Day of the Outlaw has a story to match it. Robert Ryan plays Blaise Starrett, a hard man and a steamroller. He’s in the middle of a land dispute with Hal Crane, and, perhaps more to the point, he’s having an affair with Crane’s wife, Helen (Louise). The two seem destined for a showdown that’s been a long time coming, but when it finally does come, their confrontation is interrupted by the arrival of a gang of outlaws, led by Jack Bruhn (Ives). Now all the townsfolk, even Blaise and Hal, have to work together to save their homes. Beautifully shot in black and white, perfectly capturing the relentlessly harsh setting, Day of the Outlaw is an outstanding, unique western. Like Rawhide years earlier, it blends the western genre with elements of a home-invasion thriller.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Scream (1996, Directed by Wes Craven) English 10

Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Skeet Ulrich, Rose McGowan, Matthew Lillard, Jamie Kennedy, W. Earl Brown, Liev Schreiber, Drew Barrymore

Scream 5' Behind-the-Scenes Photos Reveal Sidney Prescott and the New Logo

(10-Masterpiece)

Thrilling. Clever. Virtuoso.

Ghostface: What’s your favorite scary movie?

I have a few favorites, but Scream and its immediate sequel are definitely in my top ten. Kevin Williamson wrote a tremendous script and Wes Craven perfectly captures the comic tone even when the film is at its most tense. The plot is simple and could describe dozens of other slasher flicks. A group of high schoolers, led by Sidney Prescott (Campbell), are terrorized in their small town in California by a masked killer (Ghostface). What made Scream fresh nearly 25 years ago, and what makes it so much fun to this day is that the characters have seen their share of horror movies. They know all the clichés. In turn, every element of Scream is better than its peers. The dialogue is better than your typical slasher. The actors are better, and Craven, who made his fame in the horror genre, creates his best film. The opening sequence, specifically, known by most film buffs, is a tour de force. The way Craven uses constant movement, space, and that house with its over-large windows is unbearably suspenseful.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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