Movie Reviews

Mini-Mini Movie Reviews

mini movie reviews

 

I picked a weird time to stop reviewing films. Apparently when this website stops publishing, a pandemic begins. 

 

Over the last two months of silence, I’ve taken on some new responsibilities that have kept me away from film reviews, mostly a new job that allows me to work from home. And while I’ve been focusing all of my attention on that job, that didn’t stop me from watching the occasional film, including over 20 films I’d never seen before. 

 

And while I don’t quite have the time to write full length reviews on all of them (including some that I watched over two months ago), I do feel like I should give my thoughts on all of them, even if it’s just one sentence on each. So I’m going to try something new by offering you some mini-mini-reviews. I’ll try not to make this a regular thing, but can’t make any promises. 

paprika

 

“Paprika” (2006) – Imagine if “Inception” was animated by Miyazaki and was more of a psychological thriller about making literal dreams into reality, and throw in some anime insanity and you’ve got “Paprika.” Grade: B+

 

“Falling Down” (1993) – All it takes is one really bad day for some people to snap, and “Falling Down” pushes the envelope of how one man going on a rampage against the society could be any of us, pulled together by an off-the-wall performance from Michael Douglas. Grade: B+

 

“Crime Wave” (1954) – “What do you want? Christmas every day?” is one of the greatest and most quotable movie lines that no one talks about. Grade: B-

 

“Red Dragon” (2002) – A much scarier depiction of Hannibal Lecter than “Silence of the Lambs,” while never shying away from what makes him such a likable villain in the first place. Grade: B

 

“Monkey Business” (1931) – Aside from “Duck Soup,” this might be the best Marx Brothers film, with many memorable slapstick moments and gags that play so well with everyone stuck on a cruise ship. Grade: B

 

sanjuro

 

“Sanjuro” (1962) – Not the best Kurosawa film, and certainly a downgrade from its predecessor, “Yojimbo,” but it is serviceable as a lighthearted period piece about rival feudal gangs trying to seize power. Grade: C+

 

“Address Unknown” (1944) – If the Twilight Zone had been made in the 1940s, I could see the plot of this movie being an episode – how, with the right motivation, anyone could have been convinced to see the same views as the Nazis. Doesn’t work as well today, but at least it was killer cinematography. Grade: B

 

“Your Name” (2016) – This one gets confusing, going from a lighthearted comedy about supposedly random body swapping to a convoluted tale about time travel and spirituality. Beautifully animated and the characters are quite likable, just don’t think about it too hard. Grade: B

 

“Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” (1956) – One of the most twist-and-turn filled film noirs I’ve ever seen, this one constantly kept me on my toes, having you love and hate pretty much every single character. Grade: B+

 

“Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance” (1972) – Far more violent than I ever expected it to be and filled with a lot of odd creative choices that had me scratching my head. Grade: C-

 

“Night and the City” (1950) – The main character is one of the most detestable, loathsome people I’ve ever seen in a movie, and yet is somehow quite charming in his passion and enthusiasm, so convinced of himself that you can’t help but love him. One of the strangest but most watchable dynamics of any film noir. Grade: B+

 

collateral

“Collateral” (2004) – One of the more effective thrillers in recent memory, with a brilliant cast, a sharp script that hits every moment perfectly with its atmosphere, and never a dull moment. Grade: A

 

“Exorcist III: Legion” (1990) – The most underrated psychological horror film ever made, “Exorcist III” even surpasses the original “Exorcist” in many ways, with a wonderful crime piece that’ll keep you guessing, pitch perfect atmosphere, scares that are worth it every time and some wonderfully creepy acting from Brad Dourif, who could be the villain in every movie ever and I wouldn’t complain. Grade: A-

 

“Wicked Woman” (1953) – The most memorable part of this film noir is the opening theme song, performed by a guy who sounds like he’s melting. Grade: C+

 

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953) – One of the best performances from Marilyn Monroe and one that perfectly blends music and comedy, only being outclassed by “Singin’ In the Rain” in that category. Grade: A-

 

“The Candidate” (1972) – I feel like this one was building up towards its final moments, where the whole picture becomes clear as a farce about people wanting to be politicians for power and fame and nothing else. Other than that, quite forgettable. Grade: C

 

“Victor/Victoria” (1982) – This one was a lot funnier than I thought it would be, though I should have expected as much when it was made by the same guy who directed “The Great Race.” Lots of great moments for Julie Andrews and Robert Preston. Grade: B

 

“Superfly” (1972) – “I’m Your Pusherman” is a surprisingly addictive song that this movie loved to death. Grade: B-

 

“Fallen Angel” (1945) – It makes for a fascinating companion piece with “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” as both are about Dana Andrews being convicted with a crime they may or may not have committed, while someone else may be pulling the strings of the crime. Grade: B-

 

dark city

 

“Dark City” (1998) – Perfectly blends together film noir and science fiction without ever feeling overwhelming, with some wonderful production design of philosophical questions that were better addressed in this movie than they were in “The Matrix.” Grade: B+

 

“Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx” (1972) – Now this was more like it – still ultraviolent, but puts that violence to good use without ever coming across as grotesque or raunchy. Just a good ol’ samurai facing impossible odds and that’s really all I asked for. Grade: B-

 

“42nd Street” (1933) – Back when musicals were more of a spectacle than a story, “42nd Street” stands out for its elaborate dance numbers, unique cinematography and fun songs. I can see why this is often regarded as the first really great musical. Grade: C

 

“7 Faces of Dr. Lao” (1964) – You know, I could get behind the whole mystery comedy aspect of the movie with a mysterious stranger coming to town and using his powers to make everyone’s lives better, but then they had to make almost half of the film a western about land disputes and fighting the old west with newspapers. You know your movie is strange when the western aspects are weirder than one guy playing seven different roles, including Medusa, Pan and a talking clay-mation snake. Grade: C+

 

crimson kimono
“The Crimson Kimono” (1959) – A surprisingly progressive film for its time, setting the tone for the buddy cop genre that would come 30 years later and discuss the trouble that come with interracial couples a decade before “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” would do the same thing. Still, it’s more of a police procedural than a film noir with some bold editing and camera techniques that makes this stand out from all the other films during this time period. Grade: B-

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