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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Pacific Banana

Pacific Banana (Original Release Date: 5 February 1981)

This week marks the first instance of me reviewing a movie discovered as a direct result of writing this column.  I anticipate future cases where I will find newly discovered movies so disagreeable I will be made to wish I had never lighted on the idea of reviewing these suckers, but this isn’t one of those cases.  Pacific Banana is a treat.  It flies thick through a fog of continuity errors, the casts’ collective stab at acting is lamentable, the plot contrivances begin stacking tall from the outset, and the plot is threadbare, but its charm and good-naturedness make it hard not to developsome affection for it.

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Retro Review 1981: The Incredible Shrinking Woman

The Incredible Shrinking Woman (Original Release Date: 30 January 1981)

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Scanners

Scanners (Original Release Date: 14 January 1981)

If you bring up David Cronenberg when talking movies with a casual moviegoer, chances are the moviegoer will at some point say to you, “Isn't he the guy who directed the movie with that scene where _____?” Some Cronenberg movies offer multiple moments -- most of them grotesque -- to fill in the blank. With The Fly, you get multiples. There's the meatymass that used to be an ape. There's the arm-wrestling match. There's the final transformation into Brundlefly. (Maybe next week I'll finally write a review that doesn't mention Brundlefly. We'll see.)

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Retro Review 1981: Hangar 18

The mid-to-late 1970s saw a number of movie fads: disaster flicks (The Towering Inferno, Airport), killer animal flicks inspired by the success of Steven Spielberg's Jaws (like the mutant bear movie Prophecy, the killer bee movies, etc.) and pseudo-documentaries about real life monsters and unexplained phenomena like UFOs. Notable among the latter portion of this wave of cheapo productions were the films made by Sunn Classic Pictures.

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Retro Review 1981: Inseminoid

Welcome to the first in what I'm planning will be a year-long series of weekly reviews for movies that were released in 1981. Before I begin with my review, I should note that while it is my intention to review each movie as close to the thirtieth anniversary of its release as possible, finding a reliable release date can be problematic. It can also be difficult to track down specific movies. From time to time I'll be a little off, but I'll do my best to make a note of it. Sometimes this will be accidental, and sometimes it will be by design. There will be occasions where two of the movies released one weekend are more interesting to me than anything released the next weekend. In cases such as those, I'll go with what looks the most interesting to me. I'll also be looking to the boards for the occasional suggestion.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Black Swan

The St. Louis International Film Festival (referred to by St.Louisans as SLIFF, because St. Louisans never met an acronym they didn't like) blew through town last week, and all Mal Shot First, atrejub, and I have to show for it are torn ticket stubs for Black Swan.  I won't speak for them, but I, personally, didn't care much for the movie.  I'm going to spend the rest of the review telling you why, so if you're looking for a review to tell you how Aronofsky continues to bat a thousand (my stats put him closer to, but not quite at, two-hundred), go to Rotten Tomatoes, sort by "Fresh," and knock yourself out.  If you're looking for a review to assure you that Natalie Portman has finally turned in a decent post-Leon performance, go to Rotten Tomatoes, sort by "Fresh," and knock yourself out.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Review: The Art of Hammer

If you're knowledgeable about your film history, a fan of classic horror movies or grew up a generation ago in the British Isles then you are familiar with the name of Hammer Films. While the company's origins lie in the 1930s, Hammer's film legacy truly began with its run of modestly budgeted gothic horror movies in the 1950s. Over the spread of the next three decades, the name of Hammer Films became synonymous with several actors like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee who made their mark playing the doomed scientist or the prince of darkness, Count Dracula, respectively.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue

As someone who falls outside of the target demographic for this title, I took it upon myself to ask my six-year-old daughter if she would like to help with this review. She's a big fan of all things princess and Tinker Bell, and it's been with baited breath that she's awaited another of these releases, having watched the first two. But will her interest wain in Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue? After all, the last one Disney released, Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure, seemed to be better received than the first.

For myself, I was hoping for less fairy dust and more action.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

I never read Bryan Lee O'Malley's six Scott Pilgrim graphic novels about a twentysomething slacker/hipster. Wasn't my scene, didn't care for it. So, going in to see Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World movie I was fresh -- and feeling a little too old and outside of the target demographic. I knew a little about it but considering that the majority of my online peers seem to be on the first name basis with the director, travelled to the set and had been gushing about what they saw for months, I was one of the few people that I feel was left in the dark about what kind of movie Scott Pilgrim would be.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: Despicable Me

In a time where every studio is developing their own number of 3D animated movies, Despicable Me turns out to be one of the better ones. It walks to a different beat from the Pixar and DreamWorks Animation films but doesn't reach into truly great territory like Toy Story 3 does. But, as a summertime family movie, it's good entertainment for little kids and grown adults.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Toy Story 3

Woody and Buzz are back, and so are most of their formed plastic friends in Pixar's Toy Story 3. If this is to be the end of their adventures together (and no one said that it is, I'm just thinking that waiting a decade between sequel instalments isn't helping anyone think of Toy Story 4) then it's a brilliant way to end the series and ride off into the CG sunset.

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Review: Jonah Hex

Where did the trouble begin for the Jonah Hex movie? Was it the long, meandering road it took through development hell? Was it the rush to get the movie greenlighted after Josh Brolin agreed to headline it? Was it when Warner Bros. decided that it needed a summer comic book movie in its summer 2010 slot? Or maybe it began when director Jimmy Hayward realized that he was in over his head?

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: Iron Man 2

One of the best things about the Iron Man movie universe is that its hero, the flamboyant billionaire tech genius Tony Stark, is out about being a superhero. When the majority of do-gooders that dress up to fight crime conceal their true identity behind a mask, Tony's out there cashing in on his identity as Iron Man to the benefit of his company's stock price, attendance to his newly relaunched Stark Expo and to the enthusiastic public who have turned him into something like a rock star. With that kind of hubris on display, it's easy to see why director Jon Favreau and actor-turned-screenwriter Justin Theroux decide to crash Tony's ego back down to earth in Iron Man 2.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review: Oceans

The second film from Disneynature, Oceans explores the realm that covers and touches three-quarters of our planet. Visually entertaining and made to showcase many of the different creatures that call the aquatic realm their home, it’s a film that never manages to truly ascend to a greater height than any similar program you might watch on a cable learning channel and that makes it a slight disappointment.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Review: How to Train Your Dragon

For all of their careful planning and expense the animated movies released by major studios often still rely on the safe road to tell their stories. How to Train Your Dragon won't be remembered for stepping off that path and venturing too deep into the dark woods that line the storytelling road but it does manage to take a few steps closer to the edge. What you are getting is an entertaining retelling of the outsider hero character facing adversity and overcoming the obstacles placed in front of him -- but with great animation, good character voices and some emotional moments that will entertain younger and older audience members.

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