Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 22, 2018



These are not reviews, per se, but notes on films that I watched or suffered through until I just gave up on them for one reason or another. Sometimes I skipped to different sections just to get a sense of what was going on or to see if the film became more entertaining. Not all of these pictures are necessarily bad, they just didn't hold my attention. If you see one on the list that you think deserves another look, let me know.

The Love Test (1935) is a fairly dull British comedy about romantic hijinks in a chemical firm that I lost interest in pretty quickly in spite of the fact that it starred Louis Hayward and was directed by Michael Powell.

Wintertime (1943). Normally I'd look at Cornel Wilde in anything, but this movie stars Sonja Henie and also features Jack Oakie and S. Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, and that's too much for any man to stand. The centerpiece isn't when Henie is skating, but a protracted, mildly amusing scene when Cesar Romero runs around in his skivvies trying to find some clothes to put on.

The Law (aka La legge or La Loi/1959) certainly has an attractive and capable pair of leads in Gina Lollobrigida and Marcello Mastroianni, but even they weren't enough to keep me watching this strange Italian movie with gangsters, street boys who break out into song, and an opening quarter that just doesn't grip.

Curse of the Yellow Snake (aka Der Fluch der gelben Schlange/1963) deals with a cult in London that worships the title object, and two brothers who are at odds with one another, to say the least. Tedious, and with annoying comedy relief, this is one of the worst of the German Edgar Wallace adaptations.

Puzzle of a Downfall Child (1970) stars Faye Dunaway as a model reviewing her life and career for posterity with a photographer-friend of hers, with numerous flashbacks. Dunaway does not give a bad performance, but I gave up on this very dull movie about thirty minutes into it. It has a very slow and off-putting style to it.

The Incredible Melting Man (1977) is a bad modern version of such films as The Hideous Sun Demon with some grisly Rick Baker make up effects. The whole production is too amateurish on virtually all levels to sustain interest.

Ginger and Fred (1986). Normally I would not give up a quarter of the way through on a film directed by Federico Fellini and starring his wife Giuletta Massina and Marcello Mastroianni, but this was just rather stupid and typically self-indulgent and I got tired of waiting for Mastroianni to appear. The pic probably has its moments but it just didn't work for me.

Alice (1990). Woody Allen can make some good fantasy films, such as The Purple Rose of Cairo, but this one -- in which a bored housewife (Mia Farrow) goes to a strange Chinese doctor (amusingly played by Keye Luke) for herbs and strange experiences -- falls apart very quickly. Gave up on this about halfway through.

The Matador (2005) teamed Pierce Brosnan and Greg Kinnear as a weary hit man and the desperate businessman he meets, but I confess I'm tired of movies with hit men for (anti) heroes. Brosnan's character was originally supposed to be bisexual, which might have added a layer to his relationship with Kinnear, but that aspect of his sexuality was muted out of submission. The film just didn't sustain interest for me.

The Host (2006). This Korean monster movie, in which a strange beast kidnaps a young woman who needs to be rescued, tries to be something different, which I would normally applaud, but this just didn't hold my attention and seemed kind of silly.

Nine Miles Down  (2009) began promisingly with researchers drilling down in the desert deeper than ever before and then disappearing, but it turned into a metaphysical mess that failed to hold my attention.

The Silence (2010) deals with the murder of a child that takes place 23 years after another child was raped and killed in the exact same spot. Beautifully photographed and very well-acted, the deliberate pace and sometimes obtuse style of the film works against it. I skipped to the ending and didn't feel I had missed anything really special.

Good Neighbors (also known as Good Neighbours/2010) deals with a man who makes friends with his neighbors even as a serial killer is terrorizing the community. This has a good script with some interesting twists, and is very well-acted, but the meandering style is too off-putting to make it a contender and two of the three main characters are highly unsympathetic. I skipped to the end to see how it came out.

Magic Mike (2012) looks into the lives of dancers at a male strip club, but it just seems so mindless and surprisingly uninteresting that I gave up after about half an hour. Worse, these guys weren't even all that hot! I think I'll pass on the sequel Magic Mike XXL.

The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears (2013) is a visually arresting but stylistically off-putting supposed homage to Italian giallo films. The style of the film doesn't draw you into the story or characters, but instead pushes you out, so I could abide only about fifteen minutes of this before shutting it off.

Ragnarok (2013) is a Norwegian film in which an archaeologist and others follow a map on an ancient rune stone to find a bottomless lake, inside which a gigantic creature resides. The monster doesn't appear for an hour and there isn't enough of it. The inclusion of the scientist's two young children makes this resemble a Disney feature.

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow/Punisher (2014) is a mediocre animated film meant to cash in on the successful big-screen Avengers franchise. It just didn't work for me.

It (2017) is the second adaptation of Stephen King's long and rather bloated novel. The idea of watching little kids get bullied and bloodied over two hours didn't exactly appeal to me, but I watched much of this until it just seemed too slow and tiresome. The film is certainly well-produced and very well-photographed, with some fine young actors, but ultimately it just didn't hold my attention.

The Snowman (2017). Director: Tomas Alfredson. With a slow, off-putting style, an uninteresting hero (even essayed by Michael Fassbender), and a complete inability to pull the viewer into the story, I lost patience with this adaptation of a Norwegian detective novel pretty quickly.

Because life is too short, I didn't get very far into the Australian comedy-slasher film Severance, Coppola's Twixt with a bloated Val Kilmer, or the animated movie Sing,with its "funny animals,"


angelman66 said...

Have not seen most of these, Bill, but inclined to agree about Magic Mike. Other than Bomer, not that Pinterest page is much more entertaining and skin-filled.

I do like Woody Allen's Alice ore than you do. Hearing and seeing Mia play a neurotic female Woody, spouting Woody Allen aphorisms, is hilarious to me, and I also love the metaphysical angle and all the guest made me want to see this again actually!

William said...

Good, I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I did. Maybve one of these days I'll give it another look -- you're points about Mia being a female Woody are well taken.

Your Pinterest page sounds interesting!

As always, thaks for your comments!