Kyri Saphiris, Hadrien Mekki and Leila Reid star in LE FEAR II: LE SEQUEL, directed by Jason Croot.

Le Fear II: Le Sequel (2015, Jason Croot)

I thought the biggest joke in Le Fear II: Le Sequel was, not to rip off Maltin too much, the title. I didn’t realize it was an actual sequel. I thought writer-director Croot was spoofing the idea of making a sequel to a crappy horror movie. But, not. It’s an actual sequel, though there’s no time given to establishing that situation for the viewer.

Croot somewhat successfully employs improvisation style, but without any thoughtfulness as to how the Le Sequel will play for the viewer. He shoots it on video, with occasionally jerky camera motion, but improvisation comedy has gotten so far away from Christopher Guest, I guess the viewer isn’t supposed to assume it’s a pseudo-documentary. Instead, it’s just the film’s rather problematic style. Croot and editors Steve McAleavy and Alexander Trotter-Fernandez don’t do well with transition shots or passage of time (although Croot does establishing shots just fine).

The problems start immediately with protagonist Kyri Saphiris’s unbelievably naive director putting in for a second mortgage on his house to get the film made. Now, if Saphiris’s bonehead director really does have a house worth 500,000 pounds, which is $805,775 (as I write this post), someone should have realized he can’t be a complete fool or at least he’d need to be a rich fool. And then wouldn’t need investors.

Then there’s the “stupid African immigrant con artist” thing. All of the African characters are buffoonish comic relief.

Croot and Saphiris are sincere but so what.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written, produced and directed by Jason Croot; director of photography, Matthew Taylor; edited by Steve McAleavy and Alexander Trotter-Fernandez.

Starring Kyri Saphiris (Carlos), Seye Adelekan (Efi Womonbongo), Denise Moreno (Racquel), Leila Reid (Jessie), Hadrien Mekki (Jacques), Roxy Sternberg (Africa) and Andrew Tiernan (Dirk Heinz).

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Davey Johnson stars in OUR ROBOCOP REMAKE.

Our RoboCop Remake (2014)

It’s hard to imagine how Our RoboCop Remake would play for someone who doesn’t only love the original Robocop, but has seen it quite a few times. A lot of the humor in Remake is broad, but enough of the choices are subtle and incisive (while sometimes still maintaining a wink), one has to be familiar with the source material.

The Remake project is the work of approximately fifty filmmakers who each took a different scene of Robocop and adapted it. Some are more straightforward than others; some use the beginning of the scene as a starting point for comedic interpretation, some just adapt through absurdist humor. Robocop has a lot of great lines–pretty much every actor taking over for Kurtwood Smith and Miguel Ferrer does an amazing job–and a lot of violence to comment on. The scene where Robocop stops a rape in progress becomes frantic ultra-violence in a way Paul Verhoeven never got to show.

And Remake is definitely better towards the beginning; later, once Robocop appears, the filmmakers tend to go for the inherent humor having a guy in a bad costume allows. There are exceptions–the last few scenes (before the finish) are fantastic, with a couple musical numbers and a great action figure-based one.

But the early scenes, with puppets, babies playing adults, interpretive dance… those are fantastic.

There are some good animated sequences too.

Remake is, overall, uneven. But it’s still a great time. Though probably mostly for Robocop aficionados.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Kelsy Abbott, Eric Appel, James Atkinson, Paul Bartunek, Todd Bishop, David Codeglia, Casey Donahue, Fatal Farm, Kate Freund, Matthew Freund, Hank Friedmann, Clint Gage, Ariel Gardner, Paul Isakson, Tom Kauffman, Alex Kavutskiy, Jim Klimek, Jason Makiaris, Timothy Marklevitz, Michael McCafferty, Wendy McColm, Aaron Moles, Nick Mundy, Dan Murrell, John Olsen, Ben Pluimer, Wade Randolph, Kyle Reiter, Ryan Ridley, Dan Riesser, J.D. Ryznar, Joshua Sasson, David Seger, Duncan Skiles, Tyler Spiers, Spencer Strauss, Erni Walker, Jon Watts, Brian Wysol, Scott Yacyshyn, Zach Zdziebko and Mike Manasewitsch; screenplay by Appel, Atkinson, Codeglia, Isakson, Kauffman, McCafferty, Olsen, Ridley, Seger, Spiers, Strauss and Michael Ryan Truly, based on the film written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner; directors of photography, Codeglia, Nate Cornett, Matthew Freund, Brian King and Zdziebko; edited by Appel, Codeglia, Robin Comisar, Friedmann, Makiaris, Manasewitsch, McColm, Murrell, Reiter, Ryznar, Sasson, Seger, Watts and Yacyshyn; music by Andrew Kaiser and Zdziebko; production designers, Josh Simpson and Kristi Uribes; produced by Seger, Brian Dillingham, Ricky Lloyd George, Brent Lydic, Philip Marlatt, Karolyn McKenzie, Andrew Meredith, Eddie Ryan and Spiers.

desert-bus-580

[FYI] JR Ralls has a new project (not movies)

If you haven’t seen Dark Dungeons, which JR Ralls produced, you need to check it out as soon as possible. Ralls primarily funded the film through Kickstarter and now he has another Kickstarter project, only this time he’s doing a movie, he’s putting together a Desert Bus video competition.

If you don’t know anything about Desert Bus, you can read about it below in Ralls’s description of his project, but you can also check it out for iOS in the App Store. It’s a crazy great idea, much like Dark Dungeons was a crazy great idea–and Ralls delivered a crazy great short film with that one so the Desert Bus Grand Championship should be amazing.

Check out the Kickstarter, read more about it below.

desert bus esport

Desert Bus Grand Championship – The World’s Hardest eSport

If you are not familiar, Desert Bus is a game. A real game in which you drive a bus in the desert (hence the name). There are no obstacles, no other cars, no scenery, nothing but you driving a bus for eight hours in a featureless desert at a top speed of 45 mph. In real time. In. Real. Time. It was designed by Penn and Teller in response to charges that video games didn’t teach kids real life skills. It was never officially released, but if it had been, Penn and Teller wanted to hold a Desert Bus competition. Sadly, that never happened but with your help we can change that. We can make the Desert Bus Grand Championship a reality.

The Desert Bus Grand Championship will not be a virtual event. Competitors will have to play Desert Bus, live and in person, at the venue of the match. We will have announcers and entertainers to keep the event as exciting as possible, for the audience that is. The competitors will, of course, have to keep all their attention on the excitement that is Desert Bus. Just as there is no radio or music or other distractions in Desert Bus the game, so there will be no distractions in Desert Bus the competitive eSport.

Once this Kickstarter reaches its funding goal, I will put together the best Darn Desert Bus Championship the world has ever seen. I will find the best venue, organize the event, and host the competition with as many entertainers, announcers, competitors, and sheer showmanship as possible.

Again, the Kickstarter.

Montgomery Clift stars in I CONFESS, directed by Alfred Hitchcock for Warner Bros.

I Confess (1953, Alfred Hitchcock)

I Confess is unwieldy.

Director Hitchcock is extremely precise in his composition, the same goes for Robert Burks' photography (especially the photography) and Rudi Fehr's editing (which changes in harshness based on the story's tone); sure, Dimitri Tiomkin's music is all over the place and intrusive, but it fits the script. George Tabori and William Archibald's ties together three very different stories–Confess is from a play, which explains some of the problems–but the end result is a disservice to the fine production values and some wonderful acting.

Besides the disjointed nature of the narrative, which keeps a big secret from the audience for the first fifteen minutes for a pointless surprise. The film never recovers from it, right up until the last scene.

Hitchock just has too many MacGuffins–is Confess about priest Montgomery Clift's struggle to cope with evil rectory worker O.E. Hasse's confession, is it about Clift's struggle to figure things out with pre-vows love Anne Baxter, is it about Clift trying to evade bulldog (but inept) police inspector Karl Malden's investigation? No, it's about all three and none at all.

Clift is phenomenal in the film, even though he only has a handful of full scenes. Hitchcock seems more comfortable having him silently react to events; Clift's great at such reactions, he's just capable of a lot more.

Instead, Hitchcock gives Baxter some big dialogue scenes and she nails them.

Thanks to the script, I Confess wastes its potential (Clift, Baxter, the gorgeous Canadian locations and everything else).

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock; screenplay by George Tabori and William Archibald, based on a play by Paul Anthelme; director of photography, Robert Burks; edited by Rudi Fehr; music by Dimitri Tiomkin; produced by Sidney Bernstein and Hitchcock; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Montgomery Clift (Father Michael Logan), Anne Baxter (Ruth Grandfort), Karl Malden (Inspector Larrue), Brian Aherne (Willy Robertson), O.E. Hasse (Otto Keller), Roger Dann (Pierre Grandfort), Dolly Haas (Alma Keller) and Charles Andre (Father Millars).


THIS POST IS PART OF THE O CANADA BLOGATHON HOSTED BY RUTH OF SILVER SCREENINGS and KRISTINA OF SPEAKEASY


Griffin Dunne stars in AFTER HOURS, directed by Martin Scorsese for Warner Bros.

After Hours (1985, Martin Scorsese)

After Hours is meticulous. Director Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus work with exacting precision throughout, with the first third of the film serving to prepare the viewer for the rest. The film follows boring, regular guy Griffin Dunne as he impetuously pursues an attractive mystery woman (Rosanna Arquette) in Soho in the middle of the night.

Scorsese, Dunne and writer Joseph Minion never spend any time establishing Dunne beyond his office drone existence–the viewer comes to sympathize with him due to the strangeness of the events unfolding around him. And the events in the first third are strange in a far more reasonable way than later in the film. Dunne has to maintain sympathy even after he reveals himself to be shallow and callous.

Also during the first third of the film, Scorsese uses a lot of obvious, repeated stylizing to force the viewer to pay attention. So many of the later coincidences and occurrences are fast and just in dialogue, the viewer has to be ready to grab them.

Amid all the noise–After Hours moves very fast and often loud–there are quiet moments of startling humanity, both good and bad. It's a concentrated whirlwind.

Fantastic supporting turns from John Heard, Teri Garr and, especially, Linda Fiorentino. As the ostensible love interest, Arquette manages to be a different person multiple times in a scene while still maintaining consistency. She's essential. Dunne's great.

Scorsese's direction is often breathtaking, especially in how he makes Ballhaus's graceful camera movements unsettling.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Martin Scorsese; written by Joseph Minion; director of photography, Michael Ballhaus; edited by Thelma Schoonmaker; music by Howard Shore; production designer, Jeffrey Townsend; produced by Amy Robinson, Griffin Dunne and Robert F. Colesberry; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Griffin Dunne (Paul Hackett), Rosanna Arquette (Marcy), Verna Bloom (June), Tommy Chong (Pepe), Linda Fiorentino (Kiki Bridges), Teri Garr (Julie), John Heard (Tom), Cheech Marin (Neil), Catherine O’Hara (Gail), Dick Miller (Diner Waiter), Will Patton (Horst) and Robert Plunket (Street Pickup).

Boris Karloff and Zita Johann star in THE MUMMY, directed by Karl Freund for Universal Pictures.

The Mummy (1932, Karl Freund)

The Mummy is a strange horror movie. While there’s a definite villain–a monster–in Boris Karloff’s resurrected mummy, he poses a danger specifically to only one cast member–Zita Johann. She’s the reincarnation of his lost love and her exact importance to him isn’t clear until the last act. There’s a somewhat goofy moment where Edward Van Sloan, as Johann’s guardian and the closest thing to Karloff’s nemesis, reveals it all to David Manners (as Johann’s more appropriate suitor). Fortunately Van Sloan experiences the eureka moment just in time but not too early… otherwise the entire last act could have been avoided.

And the last act is the payoff of The Mummy. There are some excellent sequences throughout and Karloff is fantastic, but the last act is where Johann gets to toggle between a reincarnated Egyptian priestess finding herself in the 20th century and her initial character. It’s less than fifteen minutes of the runtime, but it’s awesome stuff. There’s an abrupt ending to the picture, but it has gotten the job done.

Van Sloan is reliable, Manners is likable–he and Johann’s initial flirtation scene is one of the film’s more successful ones between the couple. Arthur Byron is good as another Egyptologist.

John L. Balderston’s script has a lot of fine moments too, especially for Byron, as he comes to terms with meeting a reincarnated mummy.

As for Freund’s direction… it’s always good, but sometimes exceptional. Great editing from Milton Carruth too.

The Mummy is lean and successful. Rather good stuff.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Karl Freund; screenplay by John L. Balderston, based on a story by Nina Wilcox Putnam and Richard Schayer; director of photography, Charles J. Stumar; edited by Milton Carruth; music by James Dietrich; produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Boris Karloff (Imhotep), Zita Johann (Helen Grosvenor), David Manners (Frank Whemple), Arthur Byron (Sir Joseph Whemple), Edward Van Sloan (Docter Muller), Bramwell Fletcher (Ralph Norton), Noble Johnson (The Nubian), Kathryn Byron (Frau Muller), Leonard Mudie (Professor Pearson) and James Crane (The Pharaoh).

Julia Ormond stars in CAPTIVES, directed by Angela Pope for Miramax Films.

Captives (1994, Angela Pope)

Nearly seventy percent of Captives is a fantastic romantic drama. Julia Ormond is a newly divorced dentist who starts working part-time at a minimum security prison, where she begins a liaison with inmate Tim Roth. Frank Deasy's script concentrates primarily on Ormond and her experiences–with occasions scenes for Roth amongst the inmates, but that first seventy minutes of the film is from Ormond's perspective.

Director Pope carefully, meticulously presents Ormond's story, from her experiences with her ex-husband, her friends, her family, herself. The romance with Roth is an otherworldly occurrence, much different from the noise and movement of Ormond's regular life. Most of their initial scenes–he's on a release program so he can attend college (the film establishes him as an okay guy real fast)–are in static environments. It's actually after that seventy minute mark, when Ormond disappears for a week of the present action and Roth becomes the protagonist, where Pope finally brings Roth into Ormond's motion-filled world.

It's a terrible scene too; they're arguing on a busy roadway. The acting's great, but the scene's bad, because after the seventy minute mark, when Captives all of a sudden becomes a thriller and no longer a quiet mediation on class and marriage and other such things, the movie falls apart.

Ormond's work here is indescribably fantastic. Roth's great and everything, but Ormond's performance is singular.

Pope's direction is solid; good supporting turns from Keith Allen and Colin Salmon.

Excellent photography from Remi Adefarasin.

Captives misfires, Ormond and Roth do not.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Angela Pope; written by Frank Deasy; director of photography, Remi Adefarasin; edited by Dave King; music by Colin Towns; production designer, Stuart Walker; produced by David M. Thompson; released by Miramax Films.

Starring Julia Ormond (Rachel Clifford), Tim Roth (Philip Chaney), Keith Allen (Lenny), Siobhan Redmond (Sue), Peter Capaldi (Simon), Richard Hawley (Sexton), Annette Badland (Maggie), Mark Strong (Kenny) and Colin Salmon (Towler).

A scene from UNCLE TOM'S BUNGALOW, directed by Tex Avery for Warner Bros.

Uncle Tom’s Bungalow (1937, Tex Avery)

Uncle Tom's Bungalow manages to be both appallingly racist and a little progressive. Director Avery turning the slave trader into the devil, poking a little fun at the angelic white girl, general mocking of Southern cultural all around….

But Bungalow just isn't a good cartoon. Ben Harrison's script–with Tedd Pierce obnoxiously narrating–doesn't even include a bungalow. It's just for the title. The first two or three minutes is setting up the characters and setting up the characters is the cartoon being both racist (with the black characters) and condescending (of the Southerners). The wrap-up even has the cartoon taking inexplicable pot shots at social security, which make it more significant historically than anything else about it.

The gags are trite and predictable. The slave trader turning into a snake and getting electrocuted felt way too familiar.

I kept expecting it to be worse, but it could never be any better.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Tex Avery; written by Ben Harrison; animated by Virgil Ross and Sidney Sutherland; edited by Treg Brown; music by Carl W. Stalling; produced by Leon Schlesinger; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Tex Avery (Uncle Tom), Mel Blanc (Hound), Billy Bletcher (Simon Simon Legree), Bernice Hansen (Little Eva) and Lillian Randolph (Topsy / Eliza); narrated by Tedd Pierce.

Autumn de Wilde appears in DO YOU LOVE ME LIKE I LOVE YOU, PART 1: FROM HER TO ETERNITY, directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard for Mute Records.

Do You Love Me Like I Love You, Part 1: From Her to Eternity (2009, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard)

From Her to Eternity, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' first album, runs about forty-four minutes. This short film–part of a comprehensive series (Do You Love Me Like I Love You), runs about forty minutes. It consists of band members, fans, journalists–everyone except Nick Cave–sitting in front of black and talking to the camera. Directors Forsyth and Pollard clearly told the interviewees to look directly into the camera. Some do, some don't; either way, the effect is startling.

The film has a little narrative. The end of one band, the start of another. Then it moves through the tracks on the album–Forsyth and Pollard don't just not add in music, as it would distract from the interviewees, they don't identify the interviewees until the end credits. If the viewer isn't familiar with early eighties British and Australian punk… good luck.

It's long, often boring, but the interviewees keep it engaging.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Edited, photographed, directed and produced by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard; released by Mute Records.

Ernest Thesiger and Colin Clive star in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, directed by James Whale for Universal Pictures.

The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)

For The Bride of Frankenstein, director Whale takes a contradictory approach. It's either more is more, or less is less. More music, all the time. Franz Waxman's frequently playful music rarely fits its scenes, unless Whale is going for a melodramatic farce, which he really doesn't seem to be doing. I kept hoping he would be, because it might make the film more compelling.

More Monster–Boris Karloff is nonsensically running around the countryside, finding someone to accidentally kill or not. William Hurlbut's screenplay contrives connections between loose, if memorable, scenes and never pauses to explain why the Monster kills another little girl. Maybe he really liked doing it from the first one.

Of course, the Monster could explain since Karloff now has lines to deliver. But all of his lines are lame.

Poor Colin Clive has almost nothing to do. None of the characters in Bride have arcs running the whole film–not even the Monster–but Clive pops in at the beginning and then at the end. In one of Hurlbut's weaker moments, Clive goes from pro-mad scientist to anti-mad scientist at the snap of the fingers. It's ludicrous.

Ernest Thesiger's good as the villain. Valerie Hobson not as Clive's wife.

Whale doesn't have enough coverage so Ted J. Kent's editing is usually bad. Except the finale, which is wondrous and is so tightly edited, one has to wonder why the rest of the film is so loose. Probably because there has to be a story.

It's a trying seventy-five minutes.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by James Whale; screenplay by William Hurlbut, based on an adaptation by Hurlbut and John L. Balderston and a novel by Mary Shelley; director of photography, John J. Mescall; edited by Ted J. Kent; music by Franz Waxman; produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Boris Karloff (The Monster), Colin Clive (Henry Frankenstein), Valerie Hobson (Elizabeth), Ernest Thesiger (Dr. Pretorius), O.P. Heggie (Hermit), Una O’Connor (Minnie), and Elsa Lanchester (Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley).

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