buy Flomax no prescription Synthroid without prescription buy buspar buy Singulair online buy Prednisone online Amitriptyline lasix without prescription buy buspar online buy super Levitra online Prednisone without prescription buy trazodone without prescription Zithromax No Prescription Propecia Amoxicillin

Flick Clique: June 26 – July 2

Burnt Offerings (1976). Next time somebody asks me “What’s the worst Bette Davis movie you’ve ever seen?,” I will answer confidently with this sad, sorry haunted house flick. Davis actually has a supporting role in this, as the crotchety aunt of Oliver Reed. It’s Reed and his flighty wife Karen Black who agree to take care of a remote, crumbling mansion for a summer along with his auntie (Davis) and the couple’s shrill son (Lee Montgomery). Didn’t they notice something was up with the home’s creepy sibling caretakers, played by Burgess Mereditch and Eileen Heckart? Or that they’d have trouble with the unseen old lady who lives in the attic? Yet another film that breezes by on the stupidity of its leading characters. The home has a lot to offer, including a pantry well-stocked with Ding Dongs, but things turn weird when unexplained forces seem to drive Reed and Black into a demented state. Karen Black and Oliver Reed are supposed to be the embodiment of normal, well-adjusted parents, but the actors themselves are somewhat strange anyhow — which makes their casting doubly baffling. Poor Bette Davis has little to do but look increasingly wretched as she realizes the ever-possessed Black is keeping her hostage. I actually remember seeing the ending of this film somewhere else, a hysterical bit in which (spoiler ahead!!) Reed becomes a blood-soaked hood ornament and Montgomery is flattened by a revenge-minded chimney.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). After seeing Alfred Hitchcock’s tense 1956 edition of The Man Who Knew Too Much way back in September 2009, I decided to put the 1934 original on my rental queue to refresh my memory. Although the ’34 version is an okay addition to Hitch’s early British period, the film has enough flaws to make me understand why he’d want to revisit/improve the story. First off, the film covers too much territory in 75 minutes to adequately tell this tale of intrigue and espionage and how it affects a normal British family on holiday. The editing is choppy, and performances range from very good (Peter Lorre, Nova Pilbeam as the daughter) to so-so. The concert hall scene is an exciting set piece in both films, with Hitchcock stylishly conveying an escalating tension through the fretful expressions on his leading ladies’ faces (Edna Best in ’34, Doris Day in ’56). Personally, I prefer the remake over this oft times half-baked, rushed production.
Patrik, Age 1.5 (2008). Feel-good Swedish comedy about an ordinary gay couple who make ripples when they move into a traditional suburb. Göran and Sven desperately want to adopt a child and are overjoyed when they receive notice that they will care for one “Patrik, age 1.5.” When the child arrives, however, he turns out to be a troubled and homophobic 15 year-old who nonetheless finds a way to ingratiate himself within both the family and the surrounding neighborhood. Such a sweet film, driven by the natural performance of actor Gustaf SkarsgÃ¥rd as Göran. I’ve never seen SkarsgÃ¥rd in anything else, but his totally unaffected, level-headed and non-stereotypical portrayal really grounded the film. I also liked Torkel Petersson as his lover, Sven, and Thomas Eriksson does a good job as Patrik despite his character’s abrupt change in attitude. The only debit I could think of is the neighborhood’s surrreal, Edward Scissorhands-like production design.
The Ruins (2008). A recent horror film in which a group of pretty college students journey to an ancient Mayan ruin so remote and forbidding that it has even the locals spooked. Fairly decent scare flick with good special effects and the kind of goofy, out-there hook (it’s the plants — ooh!) that has served many a campfest well. The best moments are in the trailer, of course. The film suffers from the old “idiot characters doing idiotic things” syndrome (see Burnt Offerings, above), however.
The Sign of the Cross (1932). Cecil B. DeMille’s pre-Code recounting of early Christians’ persecution under the crumbling Roman empire follows The King of Kings (1929) in his stoic, somewhat campy line of religious epics. The history is suspect, as usual, with the lion’s share of the story devoted to a blossoming romance between Roman prefect Fredric March and an ethereal Christian woman played by Elissa Landi. The strange thing about DeMille’s movies is that, despite being about morally upright causes like Christianity, he seems to revel in the scenes that depict the hedonistic, anti-Christian life. In fact, this film has the odd distinction of making the Christians look downright boring! March seems to be having a ball as the happy-go-lucky Marcus Superbus (what a name!); his enthusiasm is matched by Claudette Colbert as a slinky Roman empress who schemes to restrain March from Landi’s pious influences. Colbert’s moment in which she takes a luxe bath in donkey’s milk is an unforgettable pre-Code moment, one of several audacious scenes that makes one wonder just how Christian DeMille really was. I also loved the campy, over the top gladiator battles, one of which pits Amazon-sized women against pygmy men. Stuff like that almost makes up for the many dreary scenes with Landi and her dour, Jesus worshiping comrades. Historically accurate? No. Hella fun? Yes!
Waikiki Wedding (1937). When you think of the most popular film in any given year, would a pleasant musical like the Bing Crosby/Martha Raye romp Waikiki Wedding come to mind? I wouldn’t think so, but this breezy bit of tropical escapism was indeed the highest grossing flick of 1937. I can see why, however. Bing Crosby is quite charismatic here (guess the smugness didn’t settle in until the ’40s), but the truly amazing thing is how Paramount was able to simulate a stunningly photographed, lush Hawaii populated with dozens of native extras on a Hollywood soundstage. The story is a big bowl of overly sweetened pineapple whip, with bland Shirley Ross as a beauty contest winner who is assigned to write a glowing account of her trip for the newspaper back home. Only the lady is having a miserable time — she and wacky, man-hungry pal Raye are ready to ship back home until charming Crosby is employed to change her impression of the islands and make her stay. There’s a subplot about a valuable, mystical pearl in there, too, but all that exposition takes a back seat to the evocative songs and atmosphere. The opening number in particular is a knockout. Something of a trifle, but amusing all the same. I’m glad I picked this DVD up at Big Lots, as part of a five-film Crosby Screen Legend set.

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation