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Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)

I enjoyed this more than the original film mainly because of Elsa Lanchester as the Monster's Mate. She is hands down the coolest and creepiest thing in these first two Frankenstein movies.
I agree. And both thumbs way up for the inimitable Elsa Lanchester! I loved her in Witness for the Prosecution (1957). But she was a natural for comedy.





House of Games, 1987

A psychiatrist named Margaret (Lindsay Crouse) is celebrating the release of her first book when she becomes concerned about a patient who owes a serious debt to a group of gamblers led by the charismatic Mike (Joe Mantegna). But the gamblers actually turn out to be a crew of con men, and Margaret--under the guise of "research" for a new book--allows herself to be pulled into their scams, big and small.

This is definitely a David Mamet film--and maybe the most Mamet of any of his films I've see--for better or for worse.

For me, the strength here is definitely the cohesion between the actors and the writing. The way that Crouse and Mantegna give their own pace to the dialogue is just fantastic. They feel like they're operating on different planes of existence, with Crouse's laconic delivery contrasting with Mantegna's assured patter. The supporting cast is likewise a great fit for the material. Ricky Jay as one of Mike's conmen collaborators is solid as ever, and on the other end of the spectrum Lilia Skala as Margaret's kindhearted mentor with no idea what her prized pupil is up to.

The way that the film is shot is also effective, with many scenes taking place in spaces that feel just a bit too small, a bit too cramped. The sequences with the conmen almost exclusively take place in dimly lit environments, so that the sense of Margaret descending into something seedy works on a visual level.

The downside to me was just a bit too much predictability. It was really hard for me to tell if certain plot points were meant to be surprises, or if they were things that we as the audience were meant to have sussed out right from the beginning. The story still works, to a degree, but I wish that there had been a few more unexpected moments. And I'm not talking specifically about "plot twists", but just overall: the plot, the character trajectories, etc.

I liked this film, but was a bit surprised that liking it was as far as I went.





Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)

I enjoyed this more than the original film mainly because of Elsa Lanchester as the Monster's Mate. She is hands down the coolest and creepiest thing in these first two Frankenstein movies.
FWIW, I used to keep a list of what I felt were the 31 essential October/Halloween films and I updated it every year on the forum I was on back then (starting 15 years ago). Obviously if I added a movie, something else had to go.
But Bride Of Frankenstein was on every list.
And you're right, it's as much because of Lanchester as Karloff or Clive or anything else, if not more so.





Oklahoma, 1955

In this classic musical, Laurey (Shirley Jones) is wooed by the all-American Curly (Gordon MacRae) and by the creepy farmhand Jud (Rod Steiger). As the men compete for her affection and attention, other locals go through romantic quibbles, including the outgoing Ado Annie (Gloria Grahame).

This was a film that really exemplified the way that a movie can wow you on one front and totally underwhelm you on another.

On the positive side, the musical elements of the film are almost all spot on. The choreography is really fun and transitions between more "stage" numbers and pieces that incorporate more of the "real" surroundings. There is an extended sequence in the film that is a dream that Laurey has about the feud between Curly and Jud that really stunned me. The lighting, the dancing, and the other-worldliness of it was just super cool. I found the songs to be perfectly serviceable (no new favorites, but nothing that felt like a slog, either).

For the most part, I enjoyed the performances. Steiger's performance in particular is interesting for the genuine note of menace and danger that he injects into the proceedings. Most of the film feels like it follows "stage rules"--where punches and even guns don't mean all that much. But Steiger's Jud is like a dark cloud floating in the musical's otherwise blue sky. Increasingly, things that "don't" happen in this kind of musical--assault, sexual assault, murder--start to seem more possible than they have any right to. It's a weird dynamic, having a character who feels like he teleported in from some alternate universe, but I liked it.

On the downside, um, these people all were the worst and it was hard spending time with them when they weren't singing or dancing. Obviously I'm not saying that characters shouldn't have flaws, but yeesh. Everyone was dumb, manipulative, annoying, or some other trait that made it hard to want to root for them. My dislike for the characters was largely tempered by the actors' skills as singers and dancers and the excellent staging of many sequences, but it was challenging to go through so many minutes of a film in which I wasn't cheering anyone on.

I'd like to say that my favorite character was the unabashedly promiscuous Ado Annie, but despite enjoying the writing of the character the most, Grahame's performance was the only one I had really mixed feelings about. There was something . . . . uncomfortable about her portrayal of the character. As if she'd crossed a line between portraying someone who is ditzy and portraying someone who has active brain damage. I just could not handle some of the facial expressions, especially during her first number. I've never felt so uneasy watching a musical performance.

I'm really on the fence about how to rate this one, and I think I'm going with my lower inclination. While I appreciated the technical aspects of the film, the story itself and most of the characters really didn't do much for me. I will say that I think it's super cool that the cast and crew filmed this whole movie TWICE, because they were filming it in two different formats. It's a film that I can respect for many reasons, but you'd have to pay me to watch it again.






Oklahoma, 1955

It's a film that I can respect for many reasons, but you'd have to pay me to watch it again.

It's funny, I grew up, because of my mother, watching all the classic musicals as if they were just a thing that everybody saw and knew, and so I came to love musicals and still do to this day... but the one I could never really gel with, despite its reputation, was Oklahoma.



It's funny, I grew up, because of my mother, watching all the classic musicals as if they were just a thing that everybody saw and knew, and so I came to love musicals and still do to this day... but the one I could never really gel with, despite its reputation, was Oklahoma.
I thought that the dream sequence was pretty great and everything else was pretty blah (albeit technically proficient blah). It just has no fizz, apart from the threatening suspense of its wannabe rapist/murderer.



I thought that the dream sequence was pretty great and everything else was pretty blah (albeit technically proficient blah). It just has no fizz, apart from the threatening suspense of its wannabe rapist/murderer.
Yeah, that sounds pretty much exactly how I remember it.




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Dear Frankie - (2004)

Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) is on the move again, with her 9 year-old son Frankie and her elderly mother - escaping Frankie's exceptionally abusive father. Despite this, Lizzie pretends that Frankie's father is off working on a ship, sailing around the world, and she writes to him pretending to be his hero-worshipped Dad. When Frankie discovers his father's supposed ship is coming in to port in a weeks time, she has to hire someone (Gerard Butler - who is quite good in this) to pretend to be his dad to save the poor boy's feelings. Is she doing the right thing? Something about this film - the performances, script, rhythm all swept up together - really works perfectly, and even if you've got a cold, dead heart you'll warm up to it. It doesn't needlessly toy with your emotions or try to wring the pathos out of every situation. It's a much more balanced, and sincere, film than most others of its kind. Easy to watch and get involved in.

8/10


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Promising Young Woman - (2020)

I was perpetually unsure where this was going to go, - a revenge flick being nominated for a Best Picture Oscar is such an unusual thing, and I can admit that this one went in a few surprising directions. Carey Mulligan oozes threat throughout it's entire running time, and you just know from her body language and facial expressions that she's capable of anything. That's what keeps us on the edge of our seat during most of the film. Having seen Nomadland and Minari I'm thinking that the nominations in 2021 were the most eclectic in the Academy's history. Bright and bold - Promising Young Woman has the feel of a low-budget film at times, and also holds out the possibility of turning into an outright horror film at certain moments. It's ending was certainly imaginative and satisfying, while at the same time being bold. Something a studio would never accept.

Oh, and Alfred Molina showed up again. That's the third time in a Best Picture-nominated film for me in around a week or so. Just one of those things that happens when I watch a lot of films - certain actors or combinations of actors just show up coincidentally again and again and then disappear. This time it was Molina in Best Picture-nominated films. If Vice was in my line-up I'd have a four-for.

8/10


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The Bourne Ultimatum - (2007)

Hey, the Bourne films were really great right up to the third installment. In fact, they seem to get better as they go along. If I were to nitpick at the story and characters, I'd just say that our villains are getting a little too outrageous in their methods. David Strathairn's Noah Vosen has a solution to every problem - and it always involves assassinating somebody. This includes his colleagues. But what the hell - it helped me hate him, and this is a movie, so I can easily let it go. The action and editing is once again top-notch, and fits in perfectly with the previous two installments. I'm certainly interested in their performance in the upcoming 2000s countdown.

8/10
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Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.

The Grand Duke of Corsica (Daniel Graham, 2021)
5.5/10
Adventures of a Mathematician (Thor Klein, 2020)
+ 5/10
Hypnotic (Matt Angel & Suzanne Coote, 2021)
6/10
Return from the Ashes (J. Lee Thompson, 1965)
+ 6.5/10

Chess wiz Maximilian Schell and his wife, Holocaust survivor Ingrid Thulin, engage in a twisty thriller which is very suspenseful if not completely believable.
One Way Ticket to Love (Masahiro Shinoda, 1960)
6.5/10
The Houses October Built (Bobby Roe, 2014)
5/10
Two Guys from Texas (David Butler, 1948)
6/10
The Insect Woman (Shohei Imamura, 1964)
6.5/10

Bizarre relationships abound when characters evolve through two world wars and gleefully expose all their violent, promiscuous and generally degenerate activities in Tokyo.
This Marriage Business (Christy Cabanne, 1938)
5.5/10
Wolves at the Door (John R. Leonetti, 2016)
5/10
Friendzone (Charles Van Tieghem, 2021)
5.5/10
Hitchcock/Truffaut (Kent Jones, 2015)
- 7/10

Francois Truffaut interviews Alfred Hitchcock for a book the former is writing which will be an in-depth look at all of his films. This and their resulting friendship is discussed by a group of international filmmakers.
Fauci (John Hoffman & Janet Tobias, 2021)
6.5/10
Sexton Blake and the Hooded Terror (George King, 1937)
5.5/10
Hidden (Jafar Panahi, 2020)
- 6.5/10
Personal Affair (Anthony Pelissier, 1953)
+ 6/10

When high schooler Glynis Johns falls in love with teacher Leo Genn and goes missing, the whole town thinks the worst, including his wife Gene Tierney.
Dark Waters (Mariano Baino, 1983)
6/10
Berserker (Jefferson Richard, 1987)
5/10
High Flyers (Edward F. Cline, 1937)
6/10
Lamb (Valdimar Jóhannsson, 2021)
6.5/10

An Icelandic family raises a lamb as their own daughter, but her birth family may have other ideas. Her adoptive mother (Noomi Rapace) is especially protective of her.
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By The poster art can or could be obtained from the distributor., Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1586157

Dear Frankie - (2004)

Lizzie (Emily Mortimer) is on the move again, with her 9 year-old son Frankie and her elderly mother - escaping Frankie's exceptionally abusive father. Despite this, Lizzie pretends that Frankie's father is off working on a ship, sailing around the world, and she writes to him pretending to be his hero-worshipped Dad. When Frankie discovers his father's supposed ship is coming in to port in a weeks time, she has to hire someone (Gerard Butler - who is quite good in this) to pretend to be his dad to save the poor boy's feelings. Is she doing the right thing? Something about this film - the performances, script, rhythm all swept up together - really works perfectly, and even if you've got a cold, dead heart you'll warm up to it. It doesn't needlessly toy with your emotions or try to wring the pathos out of every situation. It's a much more balanced, and sincere, film than most others of its kind. Easy to watch and get involved in.

8/10
I really liked this movie. It's heartwarming without being cloying. Probably my favorite Butler performance.



Free Guy 8/10



The Deep House (2021)

A mediocre horror mixing normal movie and found footage (sort of, but I use that for lack of a better term). It's quite a standard haunted house film, but the underwater environment makes it stand out a little. Not very innovative, but it does an OK job with the cliches.
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I watched a version on youtube so I don't know if it had the original score or not but holy cow the score for this version was really good. Some good camera work too. Very stylish and the music combined with the cinematography created a very eerie mood. I liked it





I watched a version on youtube so I don't know if it had the original score or not but holy cow the score for this version was really good. Some good camera work too. Very stylish and the music combined with the cinematography created a very eerie mood. I liked it
What year is this one?
Could you link to the one you watched, I wanna hear this score now.



Promising Young Woman (2020)



Thought this was good with a few tenuous linky points. Also, we don't really see what Cassie get's up to with her "captures"....shame them? Humiliate them? Even kill them? Bar it moving into exploitation territory I thought that could have been cleared up as it diluted what the audience thought she was really capable of and therefore the outcome.



I really liked this movie. It's heartwarming without being cloying. Probably my favorite Butler performance.
I'd go along with that and the review, a film with real heart.





Kinda meh. Sickening to see a real circus elephant. Baby elephants are brutalized to get them to the point where their spirit has been beaten out of them.
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