The problem with "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" is the same as the problem with "Attack of the Clones". Writer/director George Lucas spends to much time trying to connect all of the Star Wars dots. He shouldn't have bothered. He should have made the prequels to please movie audiences and not worry abourt all of the Stars Wars fans that read the books. They are two different audiences. "Revenge of the Sith" has quite a few moments of movie greatness. The battle scenes, the look, the imagination involved are all terrific. The scenes with General Grievous are my favorites. He's a great villain. The major problem with this movie is same as "Episode II". The story of Padme and Anakin is dull and uninteresting. Hayden Christensen is a pretty face that's not up for the task and Natalie Portman mails it in. With each passing viewing I find Portman more and more annoying. I saw "Revenge of the Sith" for the first time in the theater. I've seen it quite a few times since. It's a wildly uneven experience but it's a movie I watch every year.
I never saw the original but I wanted to see "Daddy's Home 2" after I saw the trailer. I saw in the theater (AMC Westbury, NY). I've seen it several more times now and I really dig it. It's a very funny, warm movie. The cast is very good and they all do a terrific job. The movie looks great and it has a solid soundtrack. "Daddy's Home 2" strikes all the right chords with me. I may get around to seeing the original someday but it doesn't seem necessary. "Daddy's Home 2" has joined the ranks of my Christmas favorites. Honorable mention: Mel Gibson.
For the most part, "Sleepaway Camp" is a watchable movie. It's not very good but for some reason I sat it out until the end. The cast is fine for a bunch of young actors dealing with pretty weak material. For an early '80s horror movie there is very little blood or nudity. Maybe the budget wouldn't allow it. I think "Sleepaway" camp is a decent horror movie for a teenage girl slumber party. For everyone else, skip it. Honorable mention: Felissa Rose.
As I watched "Starsky & Hutch" I kept wondering who the intended audience was. It couldn't be fans of the show because they're aren't very many of those. And if there were, would those fans want to see a comedy version of the show? I doubt it. Was the movie aimed at younger viewers ? Would a young audience enjoy a thousand '70s jokes and a million references to a show they never even heard of? I doubt it. "Starsky & Hutch" is a miss for me.
I saw "Cops and Robbers" in the theater (Glen Oaks, NY). I've seen it many times since. It's a terrific movie. It strikes the perfect balance between humor and thrills. The cast is great. The script is very clever. The location photography is also very good. The music stays in my heads for weeks after watching this movie. There no downside to "Cops and Robbers". It's been one of my favorites for decades. Honorable mention: a dreamy Ellen Holly.
Director Douglas Hickox did a great job with "Brannigan". He had a very clever script and a top-notch cast. He was also helped by some really good music and great location photography. Hickox had all the right ingredients and he took advantage of the opportunity. "Brannigan" is a very exciting thriller. It has a lot of laughs and quite a few really cool moments. John Wayne delivers another very good performance. The rest of the cast is right there with him. I saw "Brannigan" in the theater. I've seen it many times since. It never fails to hit the spot.
If I was ten years old when "The Karate Kid" came out, it would be one of the greatest movies ever made. However, I was twenty years old when it was released. I have seen "The Karate Kid" several times over the years and I've always enjoyed it. As I watched it today I found it a little long but still enjoyable. It has a bunch of good characters played very well by a strong cast. The cast, all of them, are perfect in this movie, especially Pat Morita. Morita hits the ball out of the park in this movie. He should have won the Oscar.
Although "Ocean's 8" isn't a very good movie, I wouldn't say that it's a bad one. It's just a bland movie. It has a pretty good (for the most part) cast but none of them bring anything special to the movie. Even though we're supposed to be having a great time watching "Ocean's 8", the movie just lays there. It feeds off our goodwill for the cast and gives us nothing in return. "Ocean's 8" falls into the one-and-done category for me.
"Fargo" is one of those movies that if I happen to come across it on TV I put the remote down and I settle in for a great piece of filmmaking. "Fargo" hits on all cylinders. The dialogue, acting, music and photography are all top-notch. Although "Fargo" has a lot of laughs, it annoys me when people call it a comedy. People laugh when the wife is running around in the shower curtain. I'm sorry but that scene is scary not funny. I think people laugh at that scene because they're uncomfortable watching what's going on. Other than a few moments like that, "Fargo" is a practically flawless movie. It'a a true classic. Honorable mention: a terrifying Peter Stormare.
I didn't see "The Blair Witch Project" in the theater. It's one of my movie regrets. I can only imagine how scary it must have been in the theater with an audience on the edge on their seats. It's scary enough in the living room. Somehow, with no budget to speak of, writers/directors/editors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez and company created a horror masterpiece. I don't want to sound like a movie snob but I do think that the more you know about filmmaking the more you appreciate what was accomplished with in this movie. No matter how many times I see this movie it still takes me a couple of days to shake off the last ten minutes. "The Blair Witch Project" is a horror classic. (I remember one of my brothers complaining that he never got to see the witch. I told me that he just didn't get it and he should go watch the first three quarters of "Jaws" and learn something.)
I saw "Air Force One" for the first time in the theater, actually I saw it at the drive-in (Westbury, NY). I've seen it quite a few times after that but for some reason it fell out of my rotation. Until last night that is. Wow, "Air Force One" hit the spot. It's a very exciting movie. Both the cast and the action are top-notch. The movie moves fast and doesn't overstay its welcome. I plan on watching this again very soon.
I know a lot of people enjoy "Spaceballs" but I don't. Sure it has a few laughs here and there but its overall laughs/clunker ratio is bad. It often plays like a weak "Airplane!" ripoff. Every time I watch "Spaceballs" (and I've seen it a bunch of times) I see a good comedy cast having a great time. You can tell they were such fans of Mel Brooks that they were under the impression that every joke was comedy gold. They were wrong. About 80% of the jokes are lame and corny. I still watch "Spaceballs" every once in a while. More out of disbelief than anything else.
I've seen my fair share of female prison movies. "The Big Doll House" is an okay example of the genre. It checks off all of the boxes but it ends up being an unsatisfying watch. Pam Grier is as dreamy as ever and Sid Haig is always welcome. It's just that "The Big Doll House" starts feeling pretty long after a while. There a couple of highlights but the overall package is not so hot. Honorable mention: the mud wrestling scene.
"Hollywood High" has a great ingredient for a solid movie: a bunch of dreamy girls in various stages of undress. Unfortunately, the rest of the ingredients are terrible. This kind of movie doesn't need a strong plot but it needs some plot. The jokes don't all have to be funny but some of them should be. As far as the male cast members go, you need a couple of them to be mildly interesting. "Hollywood High" is a not so hot "one and done" watch. Honorable mention: a dreamy Rae Sperling.
"Junior Bonner" is not a very good movie. Director Sam Peckinpah (one of my favorites, by the way) gets the lion share of the blame. He took a very good cast and an okay script and made a dull, uninteresting movie. I actually think that Peckinpah was in over his head with movie. It's material isn't in his wheelhouse. He didn't know how to handle a family drama. None of the "Peckinpah" slow-motion stuff worked at all. Those scenes were a distraction. I watch "Junior Bonner" every once in a while because I'm a big fan of Peckinpah's films. Repeated viewings don't improve or lesser "Junior Bonner". After all these years it still just kind of lays there. Honorable mention: a dreamy Barbara Leigh.
I saw "The Road Warrior" in the theater (Sunrise Multiplex, Valley Stream, NY) when it first came out. I've seen it dozens of times since. It never ceases to amaze. It is a visually stunning movie to watch. The action, costumes and acting are all top notch. Director/writer George Miller and company have created a world the likes of which we've never seen before. All these years later, "The Road Warrior" never fails to excite. It's one of the Top 20 movies of All Time.
I'm a big fan of Charles Bronson. His batting average isn't one of the greatest but when Bronson put the bat on the ball, he got big hit. "Mr Majestyk" is one of Bronson's best movies. It is a wildly satisfying watch. Director Richard Fleischer did a great job with a terrific Elmore Leonard script. Not only did Fleischer direct a tight thriller with solid action scenes, he also got rock solid performances from his cast. They all do a great job, especially Charles Bronson and Al Lettieri. Bronson and Lettieri have never been better. Their scenes together in jail/bus/bar are automatic rewind moments. Lettieri screaming for the keys on the bus is great stuff. "Mr Majestyk" a great looking, funny, exciting movie that's always a welcome visit. Honorable mention: a dreamy Lee Purcell. (I saw "Mr Majestyk" for the first time in the theater (Bellerose, NY).
"Dirty O'Neil" is something else. It starts with a violent robbery then it becomes a okay T&A movie before wrapping that forgotten robbery stuff up. It plays like an edited soft-core movie. By that I mean it never reaches the sex level of that genre but there is a bunch of welcome nudity. If this movie went for the PG crowd it would have been truly awful. But because it proudly went for the R crowd, it's actually watchable. Pretty stupid but watchable.
I saw "Who'll Stop the Rain" for the first time in the theater when I was fourteen years old. I've seen it a bunch of times since, including last night. It a terrific movie. Its storytelling is top-notch. It looks great with a great soundtrack. Best of all are the performances of a perfect cast. Every cast members delivers the goods with standout work by Tuesdays Weld, Nick Nolte, Richard Masur and Ray Sharkey. "Who'll Stop the Rain" is an edge of your seat thriller that builds to knockout conclusion. This movie never fails to hit the spot.
"Taste of Killing" is an almost okay spaghetti western. It looks really good but that's about it. The cast is fine, I guess, but the storytelling is not up to par. The movie drags at times and isn't always clear in what's going on. I don't want to bash "Taste of Killer". It was an almost okay time killer.
I'm a big fan of the films of Burt Reynolds. I haven't seen them all but the ones that I have seen I've seen a bunch of times. There a few a haven't seen yet. I caught up to "Sam Whiskey" last night. It wasn't very good. It was actually pretty bad. The first ten minutes or so started out great but then it fades fast. Angie Dickinson was very dreamy in her opening scene but later becomes kind of annoying. Her giant 1960s style hair didn't help. I've never understood how Clint Walker was famous. With the exception of his great work in "The Dirty Dozen", his performances have always left me flat. Burt Reynolds and Ossie Davis are both very likable actors but they aren't given anything that interesting to do. "Sam Whiskey" is a western/comedy/heist movie. The heist part of the movie seems to go on forever. Unfortunately, "Sam Whiskey" drops Burt's batting average down a little bit.
I saw "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" for the first in the theater (Bellerose, NY). There are moments of this movie that have never left my consciousness. There are pieces of dialogue that pop into my head every once in a while. I've seen it many times but for some reason it dropped out of my rotation. Last night was the first time I watched in a long time. It was great. The costumes, set design, dialogue and action are all terrific. The movie takes a little dip about half way through but it rights itself in a major way. "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" is a very exciting installment in a very exciting franchise. Honorable mention: Ironbar.
I've seen more Woody Allen movies in the theater than I care to admit, including "Hannah and Her Sisters" (Sunrise Multiplex, Valley Stream, NY). I've seen this movie quite a few times since. Like a few of Woody's movies, it hasn't aged well. It does have some funny moments. Woody has a few good lines. The rest of the cast gets to shine here and there, except Mia Farrow. Farrow seems to be mailing this one in. "Hannah and Her Sisters" suffers from a creepiness factor that many of Woody's films have. His well publicized family life adds a taint to this movie. Maybe Farrow isn't that hot in this movie because the script was hitting too close to home? I don't know. (In the movie Hannah (Farrow) gets upset over a script that hits too close to home. Hmm.). Having some of Farrow's real life children pop-up also caused me little discomfort. "Hannah and His Sisters" falls into the category of over-praised Woody Allen. It's worth seeing but not as often as many of his other films. (I still regret seeing this movie with a group of friends. We were all in our early 20s and I'm sure most of them wanted to see some horror movie or something. Oh well.)
My mother was a fan of this movie. I'm guessing she had a crush on James Garner. Garner is the only reason to watch "They Only Kill Their Masters". He isn't even that great in it. This movie plays like a tv-movie of that era. They threw some PG style language and some "racy" material but it's still a tv-movie. The script is the problem. The mystery isn't that different than 1970s tv fare. They throw some "funny" local characters that aren't very funny. I'll stop there because really nothing in the script is very good. Garner's supporting cast is pretty good but their material isn't. I stuck it through "They Only Kill Their Masters" because my mother used to talk about it when I was a kid. I don't think I'll be revisiting it again anytime soon.
After three movies of playing variations of Jason Bourne, Bruce Wayne and Kevin McCallister, Daniel Craig finally gets a chance to really play James Bond and he hits the ball out of the park. He's terrific in "Spectre". The supporting cast is also very good. Even the always annoying Christopher Waltz isn't that annoying in this movie. The story is kind of silly but the action is excellent. It is well staged and very exciting. There are so many great moments in "Spectre" that it's hard to list them. The movie also looks great. There are a bunch of winks and nods to previous Bond movies but it's not so inside that a 007 newbie might feel left out. "Spectre" is not only Craig's best Bond film but it's also one of the best in the series. Honorable mention: a dreamy Lea Seydoux. (I saw "Spectre" for the first time in the theater (Regal Cinemas, Westbury, NY).