• Screamers

    Screamers

    I wanted to like this but despite a strong atmosphere, a handful of effective scenes and generally reliable source material (Philip K. Dick), the entire thing didn't come together very well. The narrative and exposition was clunkily handled in particular, leading to a sense of not really giving a shit what is happening on screen even when it looks kind of cool. There was also some horrendously placed musical choices to the point where it was distracting, and I stand by a lot of this mid-level budget fare of the period not benefitting at all from hi-def.

  • American Beauty

    American Beauty

    ★★★★

    This is one of those movies that I remember moments of quite well after so long, but hadn't returned to due to a vague sense of it having unsettled me as a tween. Re-watching it now I am struck by how it is the sort of pitch black yet earnest satire that Hollywood doesn't seem to want to make any more, and that's before even touching on the retroactively eerie Kevin Spacey performance considering the direction his legacy went. It…

  • Child's Play

    Child's Play

    ★★★½

    Heard surprisingly good things about this one and it delivered! Between Suspiria, the Invisible Man and this one the quality of horror reboots and sequels has massively stepped up in recent years. I think the standard for mainstream horror has been raised by everything from Jordan Peele to some of the 'prestige' TV anthologies so the filmmakers actually to put the effort in now to not get laughed at. That being said I had a good laugh at the very…

  • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

    The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

    I've enjoyed the more recent Woody joints that I've seen such as Blue Jasmine and Vicky Christina Barcelona, but I've been told the majority of them are pretty awful so I have been working through the later-day catalog gingerly. This one was maybe slightly below average and I'd only recommend it to completists. It has a sort of cool old-timey tone and predictably strong performances, but the screenplay was only fitfully funny and Allen's attempt to hearken back to the zanier comic era of Sleepers and whatnot seemed forced as a result.

  • The Presidio

    The Presidio

    Decent thriller somewhere between an above average 80s buddy cop yarn and a more subdued procedural. The requisite love story, predictable squabbling between law enforcement egos and a couple of brief dull stretches weren't great, but the acting and a couple of strong chase scenes elevated it. I think I just really enjoy Hollywood thrillers from this era in spite of their weaknesses unless they are truly unwatchable.

  • Public Enemies

    Public Enemies

    I may be a Coppola apologist, but I've always been touch and go on Michael Mann. His debut Thief and Manhunter a few years later showed a lot of promise with stylish visuals, inventive use of music and a knack for impactful yet nonexploitative violence, but much of his generally acclaimed work like Last of the Mohicans and Heat does very little for me despite seemingly checking all the boxes. A strikingly effective period depiction and brisk sense of momentum…

  • The Godfather: Part III

    The Godfather: Part III

    ★★★½

    Speaking of late-period Coppola, I've never had as much of a hate-on as many do for the Godfather Part III, but it's undeniably dwarfed by the first two films in the series and suffered especially from questionable editing and structural choices. Clearly he saw the error of his ways and dropped this surprise redux of a film that fans weren't really asking for but will certainly make them rethink its position in his filmography. Most of the changes are subtle…

  • Dracula

    Dracula

    ★★★★

    Always been my favourite Dracula adaptation though Herzog's is probably the better film objectively. What this one lacks in narrative lucidity it more than makes up for with a barrage of sumptuous visuals and scenery chewing. Keanu got a lot of flak for his admittedly half-assed accent but I always thought he was a good choice to capture the downright comic naivety of Jonathan Harker, and needless to say Oldman, Hopkins and all are no slouches. Probably the last film Coppola made that carried through the brilliance of his earlier career.

  • Outbreak

    Outbreak

    Hadn't seen this since the VHS days and it felt on the whole appropriate to bust out now. Didn't realize Wolfgang Petersen directed it back then but in retrospect his steady and tightly wound approach to pacing adds a lot to what could have been a pretty disposable disaster thriller. The highly implausible plot is easy to overlook when at any given moment some of the better actors of their era are onscreen, with Kevin Spacey and Donald Sutherland supporting…

  • Leviathan

    Leviathan

    Slightly above average Alien knock-off that benefits greatly from Stan Winston's creature designs and less embarrassing performances than usual for this sort of thing. Aspects of the plot remind me of the Abyss which actually came out after it, but Cameron's treatment had been kicking around in Hollywood for a few years at that point and I wouldn't be surprised if some exec decided to throw this together as competition. All that aside, if you're in the mood you could do a lot worse (Deep Star Six, Xtro, etc.)

  • Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

    Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

    Great opening and expertly photographed throughout, but the plot loses steam in the second act and the potential chemistry of the leads never fully gels. The seething sleaziness of the original was the spark that kept the material from getting too dull, and this proves that Oliver Stone doesn't flourish in the PG-13 demographic. Not terrible but could have been a lot better.

  • Wall Street

    Wall Street

    ★★★★

    It's a testament to Oliver Stone's talent as a screenwriter that he managed to make an engaging thriller out of watching all these assholes in suits screw each other fiscally which feels more like an action movie than it has any right to. I suppose the performances help sell it too, but it's striking how almost all of the leads actors' careers mirrored the characters in a gradual but steady decline over the following decade or so.