A return to form of sorts. Though still a modest week of films, after last week’s 2 film performance, this was a little more what I’m used to. Finally made it to the theater to see Wind River (an excellent neo-western).

Sweet Smell of Success   98% on Rotten Tomatoes                              10  (DVD)

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Starring Burt Lancaster, Tony Curtis, Susan Harrison, Martin Milner

Plot Summary-J.J Hunsecker (Lancaster) is a powerful newspaper columnist in New York City. For reasons hardly mentioned and best left to be inferred, he has his most persistent flunky and press agent, Sidney Falco (Curtis),  kill his sister’s engagement to an up and coming Jazz musician. Sidney will do anything for some spotlight.

My Take-“You’re dead son. Get yourself buried.” I love the way the characters (mainly Sidney and Hunsecker) talk to each other. Sidney’s mile a minute verbal style perfectly fits his grimy desperation, and Hunsecker’s deadpan demonstrate a man who doesn’t have to yell. The performances are perfect. The dialogue is first-rate. Stellar noir.

-Directed by Alexander Mackendrick, 1957

Jackie Brown         87% on Rotten Tomatoes                                9 (Netflix)

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Starring Pam Grier, Robert De Niro, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert Forster, Chris Tucker

Plot Summary-An L.A arms dealer has a flight attendant transporting money for him. When two law enforcers get a hold of her, she decides to strike out on her own, stealing the money, and keeping the two agents off her back. She enlists the help of a smitten bail bondsman.

My Take-Funny, typically sparkling dialogue by Tarantino. Expertly plotted. Clever use of nonlinear storytelling. Memorable characters. All-time great soundtrack.

-Directed by Quentin Tarantino, 1997

The Love Witch          96% on Rotten Tomatoes                            6 (DVD)

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Starring Samantha Robinson

Plot Summary-Elaine, a beautiful witch, is forever searching for the perfect man. Her husband left her, and her newest conquests grow too clingy. All the men in her life end up dead. This leads a handsome detective to come knocking, and she feels, at last, here is the man for her.

My Take-Is it entertaining? Eh, at times. The ’60s horror look that permeates the film is novel and a big part of the Love Witch’s draw. The acting isn’t good in the strictest sense of the word, but ’60s horror film acting wasn’t good, and the filmmaker is clearly drawing on those old pictures to offer a new point of view.

-Directed by Anna Biller, 2016

Dirty Dancing     72% on Rotten Tomatoes                6   (VHS)

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Starring Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach

Plot Summary-Frances “Baby” Houseman takes a trip with her wealthy family to a New York State resort in the early 1960s. Though meant to mingle with the affluent kids at the resort, Baby falls in with the help, who have a late night culture of “dirty dancing” to rock and roll tunes, and falls in love with Johnny, from the wrong side of the tracks.

My Take-Cliche in a lot of ways, but its all pretty well done. The dancing, the nostalgic soundtrack, the acting from Grey. The maudlin drama is a bit much at times, but overall, it’s a fine feel good flick.

-Directed by Emile Ardolino, 1987

My Cousin Rachel          75% on Rotten Tomatoes              7   (Redbox)

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Starring Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin,  Iain Glen, Holliday Grainger

Plot Summary-Certain that she is responsible for the death of his beloved cousin, Philip invites his cousin’s widowed wife, Rachel, to his estate with plans of revenge. When she arrives, however, he can’t help falling under her spell.

My Take-It’s hard to have a clear takeaway on the film and its story with just one viewing, mainly because it plays so much off of point of view. Philip is a jealous, naive, inexperienced man, and it’s his perspective we get for most of the film’s action. Rachel, played beautifully by Weisz, is harder to read. The filming is stately and straightforward, so it doesn’t get any points for style, but in terms of confident, strong storytelling, it’s a good film.

-Directed by Roger Michell, 2017

-Walter Howard-

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