Happy Death Day 2U (2019, Directed by Christopher Landon) English 6

Starring Jessica Rothe, Israel Broussard, Ruby Modine, Suraj Sharma, Phi Vu, Rachel Matthews

Image result for happy death day 2u

(6-Good Film)

Convoluted. Fun. Free-wheeling.

Early on, there’s a scene where the three returning protagonists-Tree (Rothe), Carter (Broussard), Ryan (Vu)-go to a science lab to search for a demented serial killer. Carter leads the way with a baseball bat. The other two go empty-handed. Looking for a killer is one thing, but going empty-handed is too much. I’m resisting the urge to scream, “Grab a weapon!” at the screen. Then, almost a slasher film miracle. Ryan grabs a mop handle, and I think, ” this might be a superior slasher film with characters that make decent decisions.” Sadly, no. Another scene, not long after, Ryan, in the middle of a crowd of people, runs from his masked pursuer to hide in an empty room with no witnesses and no one to help him should the killer find him. Thankfully, Happy Death Day 2U is barely a slasher film. A sequel, this film continues with the time loop conceit (borrowed from Groundhog Day) but takes it to some fun, surprising, adventurous places. Still silly, still tame, and the whodunnit element proves fairly uninteresting, Happy Death Day 2U works more as a young adult adventure flick.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(361)

The Godfather (1972, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola) English 10

Starring Al Pacino, Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, Abe Vigoda, John Cazale, Richard Conte, Talia Shire

Image result for the godfather

(10-Masterpiece)

Iconic. Peerless. Timeless.

A familial epic about the Corleone crime family led by its patriarch Vito (Brando), and his four, very different sons: the volatile Sonny (Caan), adopted son Tom (Duvall), slow Fredo (Cazale), and war hero Michael (Pacino) who stays out of the family business. Their individual lives, and the outsider entanglements that come with a life of crime spark this masterful saga that would continue for another two films. Used by many cinephiles as a model of perfection in filmmaking. Every aspect of it is flawless.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(360)

The Godfather Part II (1974, Directed by Francis Ford Coppola) English/Italian 10

Starring Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Talia Shire, John Cazale, Robert De Niro, Bruno Kirby, Michael V. Gazzo, Lee Strasburg

Image result for the godfather 2

(10-Masterpiece)

Stunning. Powerful. Epic.

The Corleone saga continues, this time interweaving the rise of young Vito Corleone (immortalized by Marlon Brando in the first part, here portrayed by De Niro) in turn of the century New York with the continued exploits of a, now, powerful and influential Michael Corleone (Pacino). After Michael’s home gets shot up, he makes maneuver after maneuver to ferret out the traitor who set it up. Longer, more intricate, deeper than the first part, part II manages to be even greater than one of the greatest films of all-time in its predecessor. Pacino in his prime was a force of nature, bottled up in the all-too calculating character of Michael, which makes him a threat to implode at any moment. The slow-developing familial betrayals are devastating, and there are at least a dozen unforgettable characters.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(359)

Rings (2017, Directed by F. Javier Guti√©rrez) English 4

Starring Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Bonnie Morgan, Aimee Teegarden

Image result for rings 2017

(4-Bad Film)

Dull. Incoherent. Unscary.

Watching a certain videotape prompts some strange entity to call your closest phone, and give you seven days to live. That is unless you get someone else to watch the tape. Unwilling to ensnare anyone else, Julia (Lutz) and her boyfriend, Holt (Roe), investigate, hoping to break the cycle once the mystery has been unraveled. The Ring movies never held up to questions of logic, but they moved past that with creative visuals, strong acting, and genuine horror. The original Japanese version never even bothered with explanations, making it scarier. This newest entry, with none of the cast or crew from the first two American remakes, wants to explain everything. That was a horrible idea. This film is so boring, which is remarkable for a “horror” film. Even the hack-jump scares aren’t exciting since they’re hollow. I know that this is a PG-13 film, and the two main characters aren’t going to die. That takes the thrill out of all of the “danger.” The acting is fine, given that the actors have nothing to work with. I hope D’Onofrio made a lot of money to justify him being in this. To be fair, his scenes in the movie are the only ones even slightly interesting (though still not good).

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(358)

Grand Prix (1966, Directed John Frankenheimer) English 7

Starring James Garner, Eva Marie Saint, Yves Montand, Francoise Hardy, Brian Bedford, Jessica Walter, Toshiro Mifune

Image result for grand prix 1966

(7-Very Good Film)

Stylish. Exciting. Flat.

Follows the lives of four Formula One drivers through the 1966 racing season as they compete to be world champions. There’s Pete Aron (Garner). A stoic, but somewhat reckless American driver who’s blamed for his teammate’s wreck. Sarti (Montand), a Frenchman. The best in the sport, but starting to grow weary of it. He starts an affair with an American journalist (Saint). Scott Stoddard (Bedford), an Englishman recovering from a major wreck and his wife leaving him. And Barlini (Sabato), an arrogant and carefree Italian racer. The women, though certainly beautiful, are completely short-changed in this picture. As a result, the surrounding drama around the stunning race sequences does not measure up. Yves Montand’s character is the only one with any real depth. That being said, the racing scenes truly are special. John Frankenheimer is an amazing craftsman, and the film’s nearly three-hour running time fly by thanks to his vision.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(357)

The Mask of Zorro (1998, Directed by Martin Campbell) English 9

Starring Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson

Image result for the mask of zorro 1998

(9-Great Film)

Thrilling. Fun. Adept.

Don Diego (Hopkins), the once proud vigilante for the people known as Zorro, has been imprisoned for twenty years. His wife murdered. His daughter raised by his mortal enemy. Diego sees his opportunity for revenge in the younger Alejandro (Banderas), himself eager for revenge on the man who killed his brother, and so the two train and plot together, behind the mask. Top-notch swashbuckler. Anthony Hopkins, though doing little to mask his Britishness, is charm personified, and Banderas and Jones are en fuego together. No CGI, just outstanding stunt work and choreography to bolster an excellent revenge story.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(356)

Toy Story 2 (1999, Directed by John Lasseter) English 9

Voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Jim Varney, Joan Cusack, Kelsey Grammar, Wayne Knight, Laurie Metcalf, Wallace Shawn

Image result for toy story 2

(9-Great Film)

Exciting. Endearing. Moving.

Woody (Hanks) and Buzz (Allen) return, along with the rest of the terrific cast of characters, this time adding Jesse the Cowgirl (Cusack), Stinky Pete (Grammar), and Bullseye. After Woody gets kidnapped, Buzz and the gang form a rescue party to bring him back to Andy. Only listening to new friends and fellow captives, Jesse and Stinky Pete, Woody starts to doubt whether or not he wants to go back. New memorable characters. A tear-inducing song by Randy Newman, “When She Loved Me” sung by Sarah McLachlan. Plenty of humor. Excellent sequel.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(355)