Wednesday, January 05, 2011

December Film Highlights

The 50 Word Film Reviews blog has changed domains, and is getting a bit more attention now.

Tron: Legacy (2010) Jeff Bridges, Garret Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Michael Sheen, Bruce Boxleiter. Dir: Joseph Kosinski.

Years after his computer genius father disappeared, a boy is absorbed into an artificial computer reality. Design – superb; effects – dazzling; soundtrack – excellent; plot – predictable; characters – bland; dialogue – terrible. Worth-seeing, actually yes, it’s pretty good fun, despite its obvious faults.


The Killer Shrews (1959) James Best, Ingrid Goude, Ken Curtis, Gordon McLendon. Dir: Ray Kellogg

A group of people are trapped on an island surrounded by genetically engineered giant, poisonous shrews. No amount of exposition is going to make shrews scary, and neither is taping some shaggy carpet to some dogs. Would be hilarious if it didn’t mostly consist of people standing around being boring.


The Shop Around the Corner (1940) Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Felix Bressart. Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

A shop clerk develops a relationship with a pen-pal, little realising it’s his rival, the junior clerk. A cosy Christmas film, with very sweet comedy and a few surprising dark moments. The pacing and dialogue sweeps by so smoothly, and the romance, two romantics living mundane lives, is very enchanting.


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010) Michael Douglas, Shia Lebeouf, Carey Mulligan, Josh Brolin, Frank Langella. Dir: Oliver Stone.

A broker seeks revenge on those who ruined his mentor, by seeking advice from his fiancee’s father, Gordon Gecko. Starts off well, but peters out and reaches an unconvincing conclusion. Focuses on personal relationships without making a clear point about today’s financial world, which is surely why it was made.


Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly, Stephen Collins. Dir: Robert Wise.

Kirk takes control of the Enterprise again as a dangerous unknown entity plots a course for earth. Boldy goes nowhere, very slowly. It wallows in its own budget, attempting to create awe, but merely becoming tedious. Slim characterisation and a thin plot don’t help either. Thankfully, better was to come.


The Old Dark House (1932) Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Charles Laughton, Ernest Thesigner, Raymond Massey, Gloria Stuart. Dir: James Whale.

A group of travellers take refuge in a house of sinister eccentrics and their alcoholic neanderthal butler. Not really a horror, but a dark comedy about a family of insane inbreeds. Karloff is wasted, but Theisigner and the other cast are great and Whale develops a wonderful atmosphere.


My Summer of Love (2004) Natalie Press, Emily Blunt, Paddy Considine. Dir: Pawel Pawlikowski

An aimless young village girl and an empty wealthy middle class girl develop a relationship to escape their loneliness. A tender coming of age drama, but one with an unsettling conclusion. Both Blunt and Press put in endearing natural performances and Constantine scores highly as phony born again Christian.


Forbidden Planet (1956) Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis, Jack Kelly. Dir: Fred M. Wilcox

A space crew track down a missing doctor and his daughter, but are attacked by the monster that killed his colleagues. Slow starting, but still provides a visual treat with superb art direction and colour. It boasts an intelligent and intriguing concept even if the leads are a tad dull.