Starring Mel Gibson, Jason Isaacs, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Chris Cooper, Tom Wilkinson, René Auberjonois
A reluctant patriot, infamous war hero of the French and Indian campaign, and intimidating father figure, Benjamin Martin (Gibson), now a widower, does all he can to protect his family as the Revolutionary War rages on. After a sadistic Redcoat Colonel, Tavington (Isaacs), murders Benjamin’s second son, the old veteran finds that he can standby no more. There’s such a long and equal list of pros and cons for this film that they should cancel out rendering me neutral on its verdict. However, though the cons make equal the pros in quantity, there’s a significant difference in quality. All this to say, I recognize that The Patriot is a flagrant Hollywood fantasy. I recognize some of the absurdities of the action sequences and their contrived nature (Benjamin and Tavington having a one on one in the midst of a battle for example). I wince at some of the treacly moments, and yet The Patriot is a completely satisfying film. It’s 18th century Die Hard, and I’m fine with that. Mel Gibson goes a long way to making the trumped up revenge plot believable, giving an excellent performance, and Jason Isaacs makes a character that is over the top evil seem perfectly natural. The visuals and action sequences too, are first rate.
Starring Letícia Román, John Saxon, Valentina Cortese, Dante DiPaolo, Luigi Bonos
Nora Davis (Román), apparently an American, though played by an Italian actress, arrives in Rome to care for her sick Aunt. She meets her Aunt’s attractive doctor, Marcello (Saxon), an Italian played by an American, and the two are instantly attracted to one another. Later, after a bad episode where her Aunt’s health fails, Nora runs out to the streets and witnesses a murder, or at least she thinks she does. The police believe she had a hallucination brought on by trauma. Slick, incredibly lithe camera movement highlight what was an early example of the Italian giallo genre( horror or thriller). Beautiful visuals and star in hand, the film gets by, but is never truly thrilling or surprising. Still, very entertaining.
Starring Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Bill Hader, Emma Stone, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Seth (Hill) and Evan (Cera), like many teen movie characters before them, vow to have sex before leaving for college, and see their chances after being invited to a party by a pretty, popular girl named Jules (Stone). The problem is that they promised to bring drinks, and in order to get them, they need the help of Fogel (Mintz-Plasse), also known as McLovin, a huge dork with a fake I.D. One thing after another happens until Seth and Evan’s mission to arrive at the party with alcohol becomes as epic and wandering as The Odyssey. Hilarious movie with non-stop head shaking but quotable dialogue, delivered with expert comedic skill by Hill and Cera in particular.
Starring Richard Widmark, Lauren Bacall, Gloria Grahame, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish, Susan Strasberg, John Kerr, Fay Wray
The doctors have just as much problems as the patients it seems in this lurid melodrama set in a psychiatric institution. Dr. McIver (Widmark) truly cares about his patients, but competing egos, an affair with a member of his staff, Meg (Bacall), and a growing distance from his wife, Karen (Grahame), threaten to unravel him. Well acted by all, the trumped up emotions and amplified colors become a style, and it’s a style director, Minnelli does successfully. Not as much happening subtextually in this one as in some of the better examples of ’50s melodramas, but still an entertaining potboiler.
Starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt
Righteous, determined Seargeant Howie (Woodward) comes to Summerisle, an island inhabited by a pagan religious cult, to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. Tempted and repulsed by the people who deny the girl even have existed, Howie finds it increasingly difficult to think straight. Horror icon, Christopher Lee plays Lord Summerisle , King of the heathen island. Thoroughly bizarre and mysterious, The Wicker Man boasts one memorable sequence after another. Edward Woodward, with his theatrical delivery of the lines, is spectacular, and in other circumstances would make a perfect hero. Here though, there seems to be no hope at all, and the end is suitably devastating. Beautifully shot, written, and performed. At times hilarious and shocking, and I loved the outlandish musical numbers. I could see this film influencing David Lynch, especially his series, Twin Peaks.
The short that started it all for animation juggernaut, Pixar, was merely a tease of what was to come. It’s a very simple story about a lamp and that lamp’s son playing with a ball, but it’s a testament to the studio that out of that premise, they were able to make a relatable film. To make the audience empathize with inanimate objects would prove to be their first claim to fame nearly a decade later with Toy Story.
Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, Hal Holbrook
A mysterious, glowing fog has swept in to Californian coastal town, Antonio Bay, on its 100th anniversary, and with it comes vengeful undead figures, killing whoever gets caught in the fog. Several of the town’s characters attempt to get to the bottom of the strange happenings, with Father Malone (Holbrook) discovering his grandfather’s old journal, revealing the truth of the matter. A beautifully crafted, slow burner, not unlike John Carpenter’s next movie, The Thing, which is a horror masterpiece, but The Fog has less of bite than that film. There are a couple of nice jump scares, but the thrill of the luminous fog is significantly less than that of an alien capable of replicating your peers.