January 2017 in Review
To start the year off on January 1st I decided to check in and see how Harry Potter looks while tackling the Mary Shelley legend.
Victor Frankenstein (2015)
For a story that’s been done to death, this time out Daniel Radcliffe gives us the Frankenstein tale from Igor’s point of view. Had he stuck with the Dwight Frye take on the character, it would be a rather short tale without any of the fiery climax for the viewers. James McAvoy stars as the good doctor giving Radcliffe a place to practice his medicine. You see Igor isn’t the raving lunatic this time out who steals an abnormal brain from the local teacher’s study. Fancy and colorful this may be, I’ll still stick to the Karloff/Cushing flicks.
Cape Fear – Mitchum vs. Peck in this classic thriller.
Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell – This is more like it.
Family Business – Star Power with Connery and Hoffman
Julie – Doris Day gives us a different look as a tormented victim
Too Hot to Handle – Jayne Mansfield is just that while Christopher Lee looks on.
I Saw What You Did – Joan Crawford slumming for work while John Ireland delivers the goods.
The Gambler (2014)
Mark Wahlberg replays the James Caan role in this updating of the seventies flick. He’s in over his head to loan sharks and quite possibly John Goodman who packs a punch here every time he appears on screen. Nice performance from Mark here as a born loser who can’t seem to get out if his dead end future. Jessica Lange play his Mother who continually bails him out and in his last big screen role, Oscar winner George Kennedy has a cameo at the beginning of the film. I liked this one.
Frontier Marshall – Randolph Scott as Wyatt Earp
Blow Out – De Palma puts Travolta front and center in this stylish thriller.
Virtue – Carole Lombard pre-code fun
I, The Jury – Armand Assante rocks the world of Mike Hammer
Science Fiction mixes with crime and secret agents when Ryan Reynolds is killed on the job but his memory banks are inserted into the brain of a certifiable killer played by Kevin Costner. O.K. it’s far fetched but Kevin does a good job as a bad ass who isn’t quite sure who’s in his head and where the memory’s are coming from. Gary Oldman gives us the patented Oldman freak out which alone is always worth the price of admission. Also appearing is Alice Eve and Tommy Lee Jones looking rougher with every film. Different but the cast makes it work.
Battle Beyond the Stars – Silly space opera with a nice cast.
In the Deep Woods – Final role for Anthony Perkins. Surprise! A serial killer flick.
Maureen O’Hara and Jeff Chandler Double Feature
Pearl of the South Sea – Virginia Mayo looking good as usual.
Rear Window – Hitchcock classic with Jimmy and Grace. Shame on those film fans who haven’t seen this.
Dead Man’s Folly and Thirteen at Dinner
Peter Ustinov in a pair of television films as Hercule Poirot. He’s the whole show as these don’t nearly live up to his big screen adaptations and the casting is done on the cheap. The theatrical films are always full of name actors while these two films are much less so. On one hand we get an enthusiastic Jean Stapleton in Folly while the other title gives us Faye Dunway. I genuinely like Ustinov’s take on the role but Death On the Nile and Evil Under the Sun are far better then this pair.
Eve of Destruction – Gregory Hines sci-fi thriller in a Terminator like fashion.
Gladiators 7 – Peplum fun in the fashion of The Magnificent Seven
The Silver Whip – Solid western cast including Robert Wagner and Rory Calhoun
Brad Pitt WW2 flick is more proof that war is hell and men can do nasty things to each other. Not for the squeamish at times and through it all , the performances of Pitt and company are all first rate. Western film buffs should very easily make the connection to Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. Far to many similarities to overlook the connection. I was impressed here with Pitt, LaBeouf and the rest of the tank crew and their day to day struggles of surviving the battles versus the German war machine during the waning days of WW2.
Run Silent, Run Deep – Gable and Lancaster submarine flick = fun.
Experiment Perilous – Hedy Lamarr chiller from Jacques Tourneur
One can never get enough Gene Hackman in their lives. Director David Mamet teams Gene with Danny DeVito and Delroy Lindo in this slick “Sting” like film that gives us plenty of conning and Gene acting tough while delivering the acting goods as usual. The day Hackman retired in 2004 was a black day for the motion picture industry. The actors make this one a delight and worth finding a DVD copy to enjoy.
Black Mass (2015)
Johnny Depp returns to the gangland picture in this true life tale of a born killer. As is his custom, Depp is hidden under plenty of make up to bring his role to life and he’s truly terrifying at times and worthy of the praise I recall being heaped upon him. Hard not to watch these type of films and think of Martin Scorsese behind the camera. Especially when they are this good and that’s not fair to director Scott Cooper who delivers with a top notch cast including Joel Edgerton and Kevin Bacon among others. Violent to be sure but not as gory as I expected which was fine by me. Kept me involved till the end and well told. The fact that it’s a gangland picture with a Boston setting makes me wonder how Ben Affleck never got involved here.