Five Deadly Venoms (1978, Directed by Chang Cheh) Mandarin 9

Starring Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien, Kuo Chui, Lo Mang, Wei Pai, Lu Feng, Ku Feng, Dick Wei

Five Deadly Venoms – We've Got (Back) Issues

(9-Great Film)

Awesome. Efficient. Indelible.

Yang Tieh: Poison Clan Rocks the world!

Some films don’t need to be intellectualized. Five Deadly Venoms is a film that knows its intent and is perfect in its execution. Wasting no time with lengthy exposition, the opening gives us the only explanation we ever receive and lays out what’s to come. The dying master of the powerful Poison Clan expresses his fears to his newest pupil, Yang Tieh. Having taught five pupils before Yang Tieh, each assuming a different style coined after a venomous animal (centipede, scorpion, snake, toad, lizard) the master fears that some, if not all, of his students are using the skills he taught them for evil. His last request is for Yang Tieh to take out any Poison Clan members who’ve been corrupted. The remainder of the movie blends mystery, intrigue, and kung fu in a way I personally haven’t seen before. It’s incredibly entertaining and the five deadly venoms, each with their distinct characteristics are unforgettable. Fantastic flick.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Sleeping Beauty (1959, Directed by Clyde Geronimi) English 5

Voices of Mary Costa, Bill Shirley, Eleanor Audley, Bill Thompson, Verna Felton, Barbara Luddy, Barbara Jo Allen

How Disney's Sleeping Beauty (1959) Solidified Animation as an Art Form

(5-Okay Film)

Bland. Superficial. Humorless.

Princess Aurora: Well, I’m really not supposed to speak to strangers, but we’ve met before.

Sleeping Beauty, the movie and the character, is beautiful and not much else. I’ve maintained for many years now that this is the worst official Disney animated feature. It follows the dark, fantastic tale of Princess Aurora, cursed at birth by a bitter fairy, Maleficent, her parents send her away with a trio of kind fairies to protect and hide her until the day she’s old enough to marry. One day, in the woods, she meets and falls for a handsome stranger, only to learn later that she’s already promised to a prince. Not knowing that the prince and the stranger are one and the same, Princess Aurora is heartbroken and lured to Maleficent. The problem in my eyes with Aurora applies really to all the Disney princesses before their Renaissance. She’s boring. She has very little personality and her driving characteristic is her sweetness and innocence. That was okay with Cinderella and Snow White, because they had an outstanding supporting cast of humorous characters. Snow White had the dwarves and Cinderella had the mice. Sleeping Beauty has an incredible villain in Maleficent (though she has little screen time) and several nice characters in the good fairies and the blustering father figures. There are no charismatic characters, little-to-no humor, and only one song.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,075)

National Velvet (1944, Directed by Clarence Brown) English 8

Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Mickey Rooney, Anne Revere, Angela Lansbury, Donald Crisp, Reginald Owen

National Velvet - Posts | Facebook

(8-Exceptional Film)

Charming. Joyous. Old-fashioned.

Mrs. Brown:  You’re twelve; you think a horse of yours can win the Grand National. Your dream has come early; but remember, Velvet, it will have to last you all the rest of your life.

Velvet Brown, played by a preteen Elizabeth Taylor, is the wonderful heroine of this impossible-not-to-like sports classic. Velvet lives in a small English town with her loving family that includes her patient father (Crisp), wise mother (Revere), two sisters, and a younger brother. When a vagrant young man, Mi Taylor (Rooney), a stranger to the family, but the son of an old friend, shows up one day, he sets in motion a series of events that lead to Velvet and Mi training a wild, local horse for the Grand National’s. National Velvet is likely the most beloved horse movie, which is a niche, sure, but a popular one. It’s also an endearing family film with the Browns ranking with the Marches (Little Women) and the Smiths (Meet Me in St. Louis) as my favorite family from classic Hollywood. It’s a simple story that trusts its distinct characters and setting to hold your attention.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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Presumed Innocent (1990, Directed by Alan J. Pakula) English 7

Starring Harrison Ford, Raul Julia, Brian Dennehy, Gretta Scacchi, Bonnie Bedelia, Paul Winfield, John Spencer, Sab Shimono, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Bradford, Jeffrey Wright

Presumed Innocent (Film) - TV Tropes

(7-Very Good Film)

Alluring. Intriguing. Deceptive.

Rusty Sabich: I’m going to need a lawyer, a very, very good lawyer, an expensive lawyer. It could break us.

Murder novels, like the one this film is based on, aren’t generally considered great literature, though they dominate the bestseller lists, and this attitude carries over to cinema as well. Very rarely will you see anyone receive an Oscar nomination for a murder mystery, because they very rarely offer any amount of depth. They go down easy and they usually satisfy, but how many murder mysteries have you seen or read more than once? Presumed Innocent is a murder mystery in the classic tradition and a courtroom drama with Harrison Ford playing Rusty Sabich, a lawyer investigating the brutal murder of his work colleague and mistress, Carolyn Polhemus (Scacchi). Soon, the evidence stacks up against him and he’s tried for the killing, while his wife, Barbara (Bedelia), who knows of his affair, stands by his side. Whether Presumed Innocent warrants and rewards a second viewing remains to be seen for me, but I’m confident that it’s, at the very least, a superior mystery film. It features a strong lead performance from Ford, a sure, seductive tone, and a rich sense of atmosphere to go along with a slowly surprising story.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,073)

Love and Monsters (2020, Directed by Michael Matthews) English 7

Starring Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Dan Ewing, Ellen Hollman, Bruce Spence, Ariana Greenblatt

Review] Delightful Monster Mash 'Love and Monsters' Embraces the  Comedy-Horror Spirit of 'Zombieland' - Bloody Disgusting

(7-Very Good Film)

Fantastic. Exciting. Fun.

Joel: Don’t settle. You don’t have to. Even at the end of the world.

Toxic chemicals cover the earth and monsters are born. Now, your garden-variety slug could be a giant flesh-eating mutant. Seven years into this new world, the good news for Joel (O’Brien) is that he’s more or less safe within an underground community that takes care of each other. The bad news for Joel is that everyone within the bunker is paired off, except for him. He’s lonely and he misses his girlfriend, Aimee (Henwick), from before the apocalypse, who told him she loved him as they were dragged away from each other. After, finally, finding out her location, Joel sets out on journey across the monsterpocalypse to make it to her, meeting new friends along the way. Love and Monsters is a simple story done surprisingly well. The monsters, in particular, are a major triumph; well-designed and rendered with impressive special effects. Characters usually take a back seat in monster movies, but here, there are at least 2 to 3 humans we care about. The disappointment comes from the love story, which the filmmakers described as a John Hughes style romance. Love and Monsters goes for a bittersweet conclusion and that’s probably less corny and more realistic than what I might have hoped. I still think in a movie featuring massive toads and leeches the size of baseballs, an unrealistic fairy tale romance wouldn’t have seemed too crazy.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,072)

Mortal Kombat (2021, Directed by Simon McQuoid) English 7

Starring Lewis Tan, Joe Taslim, Jessica McNamee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Josh Lawson, Mehcad Brooks, Tadanobu Asano, Chin Han, Ludi Lin

Mortal Kombat (2021) Movie Trailer Song Officially Released

(7-Very Good Film)

Satisfying. Appealing. Bloody.

Sonya Blade: Throughout history, different cultures all over the world reference a great tournament of champions. That dragon marking, I think it’s an invitation to fight for something known as Mortal Kombat.

Mortal Kombat is one of the most popular game franchises in the world and spawned some of the earliest attempts at adapting a video game into a movie back in the ’90s. Those films, like nearly all video game adaptations, were entertaining but low-quality. Happily, it wasn’t but five minutes into this new Mortal Kombat before I knew that it was better than all previous attempts. It begins in medieval Japan, where fan-favorite characters Scorpion and Sub-Zero duke it out against a beautiful landscape and a tragedy. It a fantastic opening. The rest of the film sets up a mythic fighting tournament where heroes from Earth- Cole (Tan), Sonya Blade (McNamee), Jax (Brooks), and co.-will face off against the deadly foes of Outworld. Personally, I wasn’t all that interested in the lore and exposition that’s in this film, but I suppose it’s a small price to pay for a video game adaptation that’s actually enjoyable without a surplus of camp. Mortal Kombat (2021) takes its story and its characters seriously, which is not easy to do considering how outlandish they all are. I also found myself taking it seriously which is an impressive achievement on its part. Most importantly, though, because this is an action flick, the new Mortal Kombat is entertaining and a pleasure to watch with its exciting fights and gruesomely satisfying kills.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,071)

Cars 2 (2011, Directed by John Lasseter) English 6

Voices of Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Emily Mortimer, Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard, Bruce Campbell, Tony Shalhoub, Jason Isaacs, John Ratzenberger, Franco Nero, Vanessa Redgrave, John Turturro, Bonnie Hunt, Joe Mantegna

Cars 2: Film Review | Hollywood Reporter

(6-Good Film)

Silly. Entertaining. Misguided.

Finn McMissile: I never properly introduced myself: Finn McMissile, British Intelligence.

Mater: Tow Mater, average intelligence.

I am a sucker for the “accidental spy” trope in movies, done best by Alfred Hitchcock with such films as North by Northwest or The 39 Steps. It’s to a point that I even really enjoy critically reviled examples like Bill Murray’s The Man Who Knew Too Little or Cars 2, the worst reviewed Pixar offering to this day. Cars 2 shifts focus from the orginal film’s hero, swaggering racecar, Lightning McQueen (Wilson), to his friend, Mater (Larry the Cable Guy), a tow truck with limited intelligence but a heart of gold. Mater stumbles into a spy plot to sabotage organic fuel at the same time that Lightning McQueen battles in the first ever World Grand Prix. I’m not a fan of Larry the Cable Guy’s schtick and that includes his character here. Mater is far from a charming protagonist. For me, however, the remaining aspects of the film are sufficiently entertaining. The animation is still first-rate Pixar even if the story isn’t. Many consider this the worst Pixar film. I disagree. Cars 2 is a fine movie, and much more satisfying than Brave or The Good Dinosaur.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,070)

From Hell (2001, Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes) English 9

Starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Holm, Ian Richardson, Jason Flemyng, Susan Lynch, Joanna Page

From Hell" | Salon.com

(9-Great Film)

Sinister. Gory. Lurid.

Abberline: This ain’t killin’ for profit. This is ritual.

Taking very loose inspiration from Alan Moore’s sensational, dense, intelligent graphic novel, The Hughes Brothers have dumbed down the material significantly. This isn’t a police procedural like the book, nor is it much in the way of character study. It is, instead, a big-budget slasher film with high production values. No wonder Alan Moore, the author, despised it. As for the critics, most of them anyways, who dismissed it, I think they were unfair. Depp plays Scotland Yard Inspector Abberline, as London nears the end of the 19th century, assigned to an unprecedented series of murders orchestrated by “Jack the Ripper.” Along with finding a group of prostitutes to be the killer’s targets, he grows close to one of them, Mary Kelly (Graham), while wading his way through what amounts to an epic conspiracy. The plot and the characters are complex without being especially deep or thoughtful. This is what many might hone in on, but I would call that missing the boat. The setting, atmosphere, performances, and stylish direction make this a superior slasher, a beautiful nightmare.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,069)

Cars (2006, Directed by John Lasseter) English 7

Voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt, Larry the Cable Guy, Cheech Marin, George Carlin, Jenifer Lewis, Michael Keaton, Paul Dooley, Tony Shalhoub, John Ratzenberger, Katherine Helmond, Jeremy Piven, Richard Kind, Edie McClurg

Lightning McQueen (Cars) #ESTP | Cars 2006, Cars movie, Cars 3 lightning  mcqueen

(7-Very Good Film)

Entertaining. Skilled. Derivative.

Lightning McQueen: Float like a Cadillac, sting like a Beemer.

I know that this is an animated picture, but the world of Cars does not hold up in the slightest. It makes no sense. If they need gas to move, how did the first cars (the Adam and Eve, if you will) start moving? Where did they get the gas? These questions bothered me more this time around most likely because this was my first time watching the film as an adult. It’s also my first time watching Cars after seeing the superior Doc Hollywood, which Cars clearly ripped off. All this aside, I still rather enjoy this movie. It follows Lightning McQueen (Wilson), a hot shot race car, on the way to his big race. After an accident, he finds himself stuck in a small town surrounded by local characters. Eventually though, they win him over and teach him that racing and winning isn’t everything. The animation is exciting and the characters are well-drawn, but Pixar really should have given proper credit to Doc Hollywood for this one.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,068)

Eyes Without a Face (1960, Directed by Georges Franju) French 7

Starring Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli, Édith Scob, François Guérin, Juliette Mayniel, Alexandre Rignault,Béatrice Altariba

Amazon.com: Eyes Without A Face (Aka Les Yeux Sans Visage) Edith Scob 1960  Photo Print (28 x 22): Posters & Prints

(7-Very Good Film)

Grotesque. Uncomfortable. Unique.

Christiane Génessier: My face frightens me. My mask frightens me even more.

I entered this film overconfident, certain that this french “horror film” from sixty years ago couldn’t bother me, couldn’t get under my skin. I was wrong. It follows a physician, Dr. Génessier, earnest and fanatical in the grand tradition of mad doctors from horror fiction. His grown up daughter’s face is horribly disfigured and he’s vowed to restore it to its original beauty. To do this, he resorts to kidnapping and stealing unblemished faces off of unsuspecting women. Eyes Without a Face is a beautiful film in shimmering black and white. It’s also a bizarre fairy tale perverted into an effective horror. What shocked me was the surprisingly graphic surgical scenes. Its a fairly unsurprising narrative that hearkens back to Frankenstein and the novels of H.G Wells, but the imagery is unique and unforgettable.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

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