Showing posts from January, 2010

Christmas with Walt Disney - Movie Review

By Jonathan W. Wind Christmas with Walt Disney Christmas with Walt Disney is the latest effort to humanize an icon, but somehow there is a lack of warmth even in this one hour special feature. Narrated by Diane Disney Miller, Walt's daughter, now in her mid 70's, the movie shows the Disney family over the years on foreign vacations and the Christmases spent at Disneyland, at his studio and at home, for his family and of course the fans. Diane and her adopted sister Sharon are shown enjoying all the perks of the rich and famous, a big house, a 40 foot Xmas tree in the living room and a Xmas gift playhouse complete with running water and electricity, their excitement caught on film. Most exceptional of these perks was their access to film and photo equipment. How many near octogenarians have home movies of themselves splashing in the family pool at age 2, or vacationing in France as toddlers. Walt Disney was married to Lillian, she appears ethereally here and th

Uncertainty - Movie Review

By Jonathan W. Wind Uncertainty begins in an uncertain way. It's July 4th and young lovers Bobbie and Kate are walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. Plainly in love they need to make a crucial decision. So they flip a coin at the center of the bridge. Suddenly he takes off toward Manhattan and she sprints off toward Brooklyn. On the Manhattan side he hails a yellow cab, jumps in and seems unsurprised to find Kate, they speed off for dinner in Chinatown. On the Brooklyn side Kate steps into a green sedan driven by no other than Bobbie. So begins this cinema of alternate realities played out on the same day in different boroughs by the same couple. Along with scene-matching color coordinated wardrobes, the words yellow for the cab, and green for the sedan, are prominently displayed on screen as a reminder of how to keep track, because it only gets stranger from there. In Manhattan Bobbie and Kate's plans turn nightmarish as Bobbie's attempt to return a lost

Bitch Slap - A Movie Review

By Moira Sullivan To tell you the truth I didn’t know what I was getting into when I saw Bitch Slap at the Stockholm Film Festival in November. The three actors in the film came on stage to introduce the screening and were quite sporting about the questions that they received from the audience, and as I later understood, obviously hadn’t seen the film. Julia Voth, Erin Cummins, and America Olivo play Trixie, Hel and Camero in this retro female exploitation film directed by Rick Jacobson . I didn’t know that he had directed installments of Hercules and Xena:Warrior Princess before hand (as well as played the part of Poseidon in "Xena") so I was surprised to see Kevin Sorbo, showing up as a tough guy, and Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor as nuns and in the spirit of the female exploitation genre. Cameos, all the same but a lot of fun to meet up with these super heroes. The name of the film Bitch Slap is a slang expression which basically means, that if you are

Top Five Films of 2009 - Special Report

By Moira Sullivan I've traveled the earth to bring you the very best top five films of 2009: no they are not the films that mainstream critics trot out with the usual list of suspects. They may not be nominated for Oscars or Golden Globes , or People's Choice awards. They don't get promoted and promoted over and over again in the same venues. They are my favourite films from festivals in France, Italy and San Francisco and although they may not be coming to a theater near us, they did, they will, they are out on DVD and they are positively and absolutely accessible. Here goes: First up is Rick Jacobson's Bitch Slap and it will be coming to San Francisco next month. Why? Because how often do you get to see three women beating the crap out of each other AND the bad guys, including the guy that tries to rescue one of them. How cool is it to see Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor as stunned nuns in a convent while one of the heroines gets its on with a novice. The stunt

Chéri - Movie Report

Why did Stephen Frear's Chéri go straight to video in the USA? Why was it given limited theatrical release after its debut at the Berlin Film Festival this year? The film based on a novel by Colette stars Michelle Pfeiffer in probably one of her best all time roles, as Lea de Lonval , a mature high class courtesan who befriends Chéri played by Rupert Friend to teach him the ways of the world. Maybe we are not used to seeing Pfeiffer in such a role, but her performance makes one understand how her acting has ripened beyond the point of excellence. Colette doesn't really do Lea justice and Frears only at the very end shows how she erroneously thinks, that maturity can be no match in the long run for youth. You will recall Pfeiffer, Frears and screenwriter Christoper Hampton from Dangerous Liaisons in 1988 and its lavish costumes. Chéri is raised by loose women his entire life, and his mother Madame Peloux played by Kathy Bates encourages Lea to take on Chéri as an ap

Telstar - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan Before it was a movie, “Telstar” was a stage play. We are used to seeing a room and a room and a room and yet another room when we go to see legitimate theatre. Right or wrong, we demand that movies take us places, that they move. The character study that is “Telstar” doesn’t quite do that. Once you understand that independent movie producer Joe Meek created all those amazing 1960’s songs in an ordinary flat, not a state of the art recording studio, you are left to stare at the man himself. Con O’Neill must have been something to see on stage and he still is on film. Sadly, it’s the screenplay, adapted by Director Nick Manan with playwright James Hicks, that is nothing much to hear. It is especially groanworthy when Meeks disparages the commercial prospects of The Beatles and the Kinks while he fuss budgets his way to drug fueled madness. His business partner Major Banks, is played by Kevin Spacey, who is as believable as a stuffy British businessman as he was as Bob

The Missing Person - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan The makers of “The Missing Person” have a lot of nerve calling it a neo-noir mystery. Movie buffs like me will seek out ANY film in ANY genre that’s even remotely noir. Noah Buschel’s latest film is filled with schticks and in-jokes so riveting that I fell asleep the first time I tried to watch “The Missing Movie-I mean Person.” One of the schticks is that John Rosow, the private eye, played by Michael Shannon wants to smoke cigarettes and other people (like cabdrivers) won’t let him do it. Meanwhile, he follows a man from Chicago to California. At one point, he suspects that the man is a pedophile. His suspicions are incorrect. The guy’s wife just wants him to come home to Manhattan, a place he abandoned after 9/11/01. Is it ethical for Rosow to accept a chunk of change to drag this guy back to his wife? If you care about the answer, “The Missing Person” is your movie. It isn’t mine because it’s S-L-O-W, great actors like Margaret Colin, John Ventimiglia and Liza We

Frenzy - Movie Review

By Monica Sullivan After "Psycho," Alfred Hitchcock made "The Birds" & "Marnie" with Tippi Hedren, a beautiful former model with serious limitations as an actress, then "Torn Curtain," with the miscast and mismatched Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, then "Topaz," which is so boring that it hardly seems like a Hitchcock movie at all. When "Frenzy", his first British film since 1950s "Stage Fright", was released in June 1972, the advance word was that it was VINTAGE Hitchcock. That it was, and then some. "Frenzy" is murder most explicit AND murder most subtle. Jon Finch, not a star and therefore not someone in whom the audience has any emotional investment, is bartender Richard Blaney. After he gets fired from his job, only fruit stand owner Bob Rusk (Barry Foster) and cocktail waitress Babs Milligan (Anna Massey) seem to like him, so when his former wife Brenda (Barbara Leigh-Hunt) is strangled, he's t

Lauren Holly - Special Report

By Monica Sullivan When Elizabeth Montgomery died in 1995, we gave her a “Movie Magazine” tribute. When we recorded the segment, a male listener wanted to know why we were honoring someone who was not a “real” movie star. I was stunned. Anyone who saw Montgomery’s Emmy-nominated work on “The Untouchables”’ “Rusty Heller Story” or who watched her in the riveting “Legend Of Lizzie Borden” couldn’t possible dismiss her talents so lightly. Nearly 15 years later, there are so many wonderful actresses who do their primary work in television. The roles the small screen gives them are often superior to the lightly sketched roles offered to most wide screen actresses. Even so, they rarely get the respect of the gals who can open a mediocre theatrical feature. A current case in point is Lauren Holly, who is absolutely terrific when she’s offered a decent script and sensitive direction. Although she’s been in dozens of films since the mid-eighties, she has accepted more than her fair share of und