Drive a Crooked Road (1954, Directed by Richard Quine) English 7

Starring Mickey Rooney, Dianne Foster, Kevin McCarthy, Jack Kelly, Harry Landers, Jerry Paris

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(7-Very Good Film)

Modest. Gripping. Adroit.

Mechanic and aspiring driver, Eddie Shannon (Rooney), seems to those around him a bit odd. Quiet and repressed, while his coworkers discuss different women, Eddie sits in the corner and offers nothing. One day, Eddie has what appears to be a chance encounter with a beautiful woman named Barbara (Foster). Eddie falls for her, but their relationship is actually a part of a plan made by her real boyfriend, Steve (McCarthy), who’s getting ready to rob a bank and needs a getaway driver. Like many excellent noirs, Drive a Crooked Road, with its screenplay by a young Blake Edwards, is a simple story. At its heart is the note-perfect performance by Mickey Rooney. Used to seeing him in big performances in grand Hollywood musicals, his subtle, observant performance here is surprising and moving.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(503)

The Tuxedo (2002, Directed by Kevin Donovan) English 4

Starring Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewett, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster, Peter Stormare, Romany Malco, Bob Balaban

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(4-Bad Film)

Goofy. Misguided. Ill-conceived.

Dwarfing the great Jackie Chan with silly special effects is a horribly misguided idea. Instead of watching real stunts, spectacular choreography, or funny pratt falls, The Tuxedo lets the CGI team take over. Chan stars as Jimmy Tong, a driver who’s hired to be the chauffeur for a mysterious Mr. Devlin (Isaacs). Mr. Devlin turns out to be a spy, and, after an assasssination attempt leaves him incapacitated, Tong assumes his identity to get revenge. As misguided as taking the action out of Chan’s hands, The Tuxedo also makes Jennifer Love Hewett a naggy, sarcastic sidekick. The film as a whole is painless enough, but devoid of any real laughs or good action sequences, and is extremely silly quite frequently.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(502)

 

 

Tangled (2010, Directed by Byron Howard and Nathan Greno) English 8

Voices of Mandy Moore, Donna Murphy, Zachary Levi, Ron Perlman, Richard Kiel, Brad Garrett

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(8-Exceptional Film)

 Elegant. Joyous. Fantastic.

Expanding the fairy tale of Rapunzel, the young princess is kidnapped as a baby by the vain witch Mother Gothel. Raising Rapunzel as her own, Mother Gothel uses the girl’s magical powers to stay forever young and keeps her locked up in a hidden tower. Then one day a thief finds Rapunzel, and the lost princess enlists his help to see the world she’s always been too afraid to explore. Upper-tier Disney animation with excellent characters, exciting adventure, and beautiful imagery. Mother Gothel finds her place in Disney’s sterling canon of female villains.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(501)

The Karate Kid (1984, Directed by John G. Avildsen) English 9

Starring Ralph Macchio, Noriyuki “Pat” Morita, Elisabeth Shue, William Zabka, Martin Kove

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(9-Great Film)

Crowd-pleasing. Rousing. Classic.

A New Jersey boy named Daniel (Macchio) moves to California with his single mother and immediately runs into a gang of bullies. They torment him ceaselessly until the Okinawan maintenance man, Mr. Miyagi (Morita), stands up for him, and offers to teach him karate, in preparation for a massive tournament at the end of the year. Your standard sports film in many ways, The Karate Kid gets over the top by being better than the rest. The relationship and friendship between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi is the heart of the film, and I enjoy the corny ’80s trappings and teen romance.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(500)

The Faculty (1998, Directed by Robert Rodriguez) English 7

Starring Elijah Wood, Josh Hartnett, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Famke Janssen, Shawn Hatosy, Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Jon Stewart, Usher Raymond, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth, Christopher McDonald

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(7-Very Good Film)

Entertaining. Clever. Messy.

What Scream was to slasher films, The Faculty hoped to be to sci-fi horror classics like The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with its cast of teen stars and a surplus of pop culture references. Written by the same scribe, Kevin Williamson, and directed by a young Robert Rodriguez, the result is an often ridiculous, always a blast film, with a fantastic cast and a handful of bad special effects. Elijah Wood stars as a nerdy student at Harrington High, Casey, who first discovers the weird happenings afoot, hiding in a closet next to mean girl, Delilah (Brewster). An alien race is not so slowly taking over the bodies of Harrington High’s faculty and they’re coming for the students next. Of course, no one believes them, except for jock, Stan (Hatosy), outcast, Stokley (DuVall), bad boy, Zeke (Hartnett), and the new girl, Marybeth (Harris). Rodriguez isn’t what I would call a master of suspense, and The Faculty isn’t very scary at all, but he knows how to entertain, and The Faculty is one of his most entertaining films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(499)

Farewell, My Lovely (1975, Directed by Dick Richards) English 7

Starring Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling, Sylvester Stallone, John Ireland, Sylvia Miles, Harry Dean Stanton, Jack O’Halloran

(7-Very Good Film)

Stylish. Slight. Alluring.

Unlike other Raymond Chandler adaptations, Farewell, My lovely sticks closely to the book. While Phillip Marlowe (Mitchum) wisecracks his way through two concurrent cases involving blackmail, murder, and an ex-con’s wife, film noir fans can appreciate the film’s beautiful period detail, hardboiled soundtrack, and witty lines. As the second film based on Chandler’s novel, I give the slight edge to Murder, My Sweet (1944) which isn’t as faithful to the source but offers stronger characterizations. Farewell, My Lovely is more superficial than substantial. Robert Mitchum, however, with all the great interpretations in film history, is my ideal Marlowe. He’s great here.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(498)

The Angry Birds Movie (2016, Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly) English 5

Voices of: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Sean Penn, Bill Hader, Tony Hale, Keegan-Michael Key, Peter Dinklage, Kate McKinnon

(5-Okay Film)

Decent. Colorful. Vibrant.

Hyper-kinetic animated comedy with a decent amount of creativity, based on the Angry Birds video game franchise. The story follows Red (Sudeikis), an angry bird dwelling in an eternally blissful society, who gets sentenced to anger management sessions where he meets fellow angry birds. They uncover a plot led by foreign, green colored pigs to take over their island. It’s moderately funny and one of the better video game adaptations (not saying much), though it’s probably not worth a second viewing.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(497)