I guess it’s my turn then:
Storyville (1992) - Director: Mark Frost - 7/10 - Apparently the only full-length feature film directed Mark Frost. It’s too bad it’s his only directional effort because the work in question does possess a certain style and character that makes the whole endeavor kind of unusual and distinctive. Partly a whodunit, partly a political thriller, the film embraces multifarious topics and strives to combine ostensively different genres which results in a very quaint marriage of a thriller and a drama and makes for a very interesting watch. Frost doesn’t shy away from venturing into miscellaneous territories, which could potentially yield mixed results and an inchoate piece of work, and his resolute sense of style ensures a superior quality of filmmaking at hand.
Lock Up (1989) - Director: John Flynn - 5/10 - Very disappointing. I expected a gritty style of prison drama, but Flynn does not really go anywhere with the material. Instead of pandering to usual Stallone fans, he should’ve attempted to provide some insight into psychological distress experienced by those affected by the malfunctioning criminal justice system. Regrettably, the movie seems to revel in its bromides, framing them within the context of Stallone’s cult personality as well as infusing the entirety of the plot with a sizable dose of maudlinness probably intended to cloak the inherent vacuousness of the flick’s formula. That is not say that it is not entertaining; the problem lies in Flynn’s direction whose obstinacy and unwillingness to stray from the trodden path of mediocrity steers the pic in a not so interesting cinematic direction; despite being fairly diverting, all of this is still excessively familiar and obvious to constitute something more than a passable watch.
The Mind’s Eye (1990) - Director: Jan Nickman - 9/10 -> 8/10 - A re-watch.
Footprints on the Moon (1975) - Directors: Luigi Bazzoni - 9/10 = 9/10 - A re-watch. Definitely one of the most emotionally resonant as well as visually stunning movies I’ve ever seen. Storaro’s cinematography greatly amplifies the phenomenal atmosphere and varies the emotive intensity of the filmic imagery with extraordinary efficiency and clear artistic purpose embedded within every single frame. Storaro’s aesthetic artistry is even more bewildering within the context of the carefully structured and beautifully narrativized film whose main strength lies with its incredibly sensuous atmosphere and brooding, almost suffocating ambiance. The general aura is singularly dense and I haven’t seen many films which come close in terms of their atmospheric density so to speak, perhaps something like Black Moon (1975) and a couple of others, but that’s about it and other movies of this kind rarely live up to this level of emotional intensity. Piovani’s soundtrack is stunning and wonderfully subtle, perfectly synchronized and correspondent with the sensuous flow of the work. Yes, some aspects of the motion picture still have that slightly rough look and feel to them, nevertheless I can forgive most of its minor faults without a second thought. I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes it all so incredibly compelling every time I watch it, it’s probably the distinct combination of all aforementioned aspects. Apart from being emotively potent, it is likewise kind of disquieting in its own subtle way and it’s more perturbing than most horror films I’ve seen purely by virtue of how bizarre and outlandish it feels. Suffice to say, it’s definitely one of my all-time favs. If anybody knows a movie similar to this one in its tone, structure and aesthetics, please share it, I’m all ears.
Baby Driver (2017) - Director: Edgar Wright - 5/10 - Not sure what to think about this one. Apart from being one fucking cringy iPad commercial, it doesn’t really offer any new unique thematic concepts or any new takes on its main subject matter. While I do not mind more light-hearted efforts of this kind, the supposed originality this effort is purported to be brimming with proves to be more of a repackaging of well-known formulas and cliches rather than some radical reformulation of these ideas. Therewith, the motion picture has some serious issues with its hectic and exceedingly erratic narrative structure which alternately dashes forward or stagnates and ultimately transmogrifies into a frantic, amorphous jumble in the final 30 minutes of the film’s duration. While I do cherish the general idea of taking an assortment of genre truisms and redeveloping them in a slightly different fashion, the film’s lighthearted diegetic attitude is not bolstered by an equally inspired composition or some larger, overarching concept. Most of narrative jocular gimmicks and tongue-in-cheek schticks simply fall flat, being negated by the general lack of narrative cohesion.
Striking Distance (1993) - Director: Rowdy Herrington - 4/10 - A passably entertaining piece of shit actioner starring Bruce Willis. A large chunk of the movie slavishly follows the action genre tropes without injecting too much originality into its routine plot and endowing the formula with a sufficient dose of uniqueness for me to give a shit. The chemistry between Willis and the dudess is tolerable at best and the whole story leads to a rather predictable conclusion hinted at with a number of heavy-handed filmic foreshadowings. It does provide enough fun for a shit flick sitting, but it definitely ain’t no masterpiece.
The Star Chamber (1983) - Director: Peter Hyams - 6/10 - A fairly confused thriller which attempts to do something slightly different within the genre confines, yet fails to do so in a genuinely limpid and compelling fashion. The film’s biggest fault is that it desperately endeavors to make a case for the benevolence and righteousness of rehabilitative justice system and then oddly enough seems to go on to exhibit its very limitations, enduing the whole effort with a warped sense of purpose as well as venturing into some outlandish writing decisions by inadvertently making Douglas look a bit like a fool in the end and thereby, heavily distorting the principal dynamic of the plot itself. It is ruggedly directed, acted, executed and I truly enjoyed for the most part, but the work on the whole looks quite jumbled and some of its script really could’ve used a redraft or two prior to being filmed.
Target (1985) - Director: Arthur Penn - 7/10 - Despite its leisurely pacing, I found it to be extremely prepossessing mostly by virtue of its deftly portrayed father-son relationship enacted by Hackman and Dillon. It’s the family ties and the general character development of its two leads that endows the whole opus with an emotional resonance that fails to be implanted in many a work of this kind. The narrative is admittedly by and large out-of-focus and Penn fails to mold it into something more impressive, but it is definitely a sufficiently engaging piece of filmmaking with two truly strong performances at its core and I can definitely see myself revisiting it some time down the road.
Force 10 from Navarone (1978) - Director: Guy Hamilton - 6/10 - It doesn’t feel substantially different from other Hamilton movies, especially his James Bond endeavors. Some of his regulars make an appearance here and give it a distinctly James Bond vibe. The whole plot is basically a pretext to display some nice kabooms and fights. It is not terribly original, but it is entertaining enough.
The Presidio (1988) - Director: Peter Hyams - 5/10 - While the human element in this one makes for a relatively engaging watch, the rest of the story doesn’t hold up to scrutiny and it’s particularly its stagnant pacing and flaccid grip on the narrative that take a toll on film’s internal balance and after a while, it loses some of its impetus and virtually plunges into pure tedium. Fortunately, strong performances delivered by main actors as well as its adroitly written characters underpin the whole thing and prevent it from devolving into unwatchable mess.
Fourth Story (1991) - Director: Ivan Passer - 5/10 - The only reason why this is so highly valued by some viewers is on account of its romance ingredient that practically serves as the main focus of the story despite the flick technically being a whodunit in one way or another. The chemistry between the main duo is pretty impressive and their interactions do constitute a definite forte, yet the whole component is completely at odds with film’s other narrative forces and its underlying mystery, which is supposed to permeate the work at large, in that it excessively buoys up the general tone of the film. Some portions of the motion picture are so jovial and jubilant that they virtually undo most of putative tension and oppugn the legitimacy the story, working against the fundamental dynamics of the movie itself. The romance part is probably the primary reason why most people cherish it so much, yet it is the very element that undermines the essence of the plot, infusing the scenario with triviality, redundancy, incongruency and calling into question the authenticity of the portrayed action. It is an exceedingly outlandish motion picture in the sense that the very constituent stultifying it also happens to make it engaging and it’s not one of so-bad-it’s-good movies too, so it’s one very odd case indeed.
Death in Venice (1971) - Director: Luchino Visconti - 5/10 - A re-watch - Despite being visually alluring and exceedingly profuse in its copious use of costumes, set pieces and the likes, the entire work is largely stunted by Visconti old-fashioned, extremely heavy-handed narration which fails to evoke the buoyancy of the novel whose ephemeral qualities it strives to elicit so desperately remain beyond its reach. Most of the film’s appeal derives from its sumptuous cinematography as well as its intruiguing ruminations with regard to the nature of beauty and good art, the latter however being nothing but a remnant of its source material. Visconti wretched incapacity to successfully translate Mann’s prose into cinematic yarn results in something remarkably vacuous both in form and substance. The director fails to evoke the theme of evanescence through his visuals most of the time and what emerges usually amounts to the somewhat disturbing sexualization of a prepubescent boy being ogled at by a dirty old fart. Having taken into consideration comments made by the actor who performed the role of Tadzio with regard to the production’s background and the way he was perceived by the rest of the crew, yeah, the whole pic acquires a whole new dimension and not in a good way, pretty creepy to be honest. Anyway, it is hard to deny some of film’s more apparent merits, nevertheless, the motion picture in question is very lackluster for the most part in that it abstains from experimenting with more risky narrative devices, ultimately degenerating into the absurdly vapid exercise in style. Last but not least, the very criticisms which are leveled at Aschenbach’s art by his friend are equally relevant to this motion picture at large: Visconti’s failure stems from his very reluctance to transcend the limits of his own craft, his creative habits and ultimately old modes of filmmaking, refusing to venture into the unknown as embodied by formal experimentation, perhaps even remaining oblivious of its very existence, which results in the stillborn nature of his creation; nothing he does can really salvage his inherently crippled and insipid film.
D.O.A. (1988) - Directors: Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton - 7/10 - I haven’t seen the original, but I must say I’m quite fond of this version. There is a certain amount of wittiness and crispness to the whole package and with the kind of up-to-date, incisive dialogues, energizing montage and its tasteful, vigorous direction, there is not a whole lot not to like about the whole thing. The swift pacing and its deft storytelling keep the story afloat as well as maintain a great sense of flow, perfectly mimicking the perceptive disarray and dread experienced by its protagonist. Some parts of the storyline attest to its antediluvian source material, nevertheless, the motion picture recontextualizes the whole synopsis with remarkable efficiency and that coupled with the said excellent rendition ensures the superb quality of the filmmaking at hand.
RED (2010) - Director: Robert Schwentke - 5/10
RED 2 (2013) - Director: Dean Parisot - 5/10
The Hitcher (1986) - Director: Robert Harmon - 9/10 = 9/10 - A re-watch.
Miracle Mile (1988) - Director: Steve De Jarnatt - 9/10 = 9/10 - A re-watch.
Bloodsport (1988) - Director: Newt Arnold - 4/10 - You can tell there was somewhat more care put into this movie than in case of other Cannon productions purely by virtue of how much more balanced it is in terms of its pacing and storytelling. With that being said, the element that completely obliterates the whole endeavor is its script if you can even call it that. The pic feels almost like a music video at some points which is to say that there is virtually no underlying plot that could weave all consecutive scenes into a coherent whole or a continuous storytelling strand if you will. Fights come and go, juvenile jokes and gimmicks are thrown around, but there is no real character development, no narrative obstacles are ever erected for the protagonist to overcome and there is very little progression to the way the whole plot unravels. The storyline constitutes more of a coarse imitation of a real tale devised as a pretext to embark on a number of slow-mo fights for the braindead entertainment of juvenile audiences taking delight in the fervor of flexing muscles and clashing bodies. Despite its mind-numbing repetitiveness, I still somehow found it watchable purely on account of how decently paced it was vis-a-vis other Cannon treats.
Forbidden (1984) - Director: Anthony Page - 4/10 - Despite having some fairly impressive performers at its disposal, the movie fails to stir my blood purely owing to the fact that there is virtually no order or artistic purpose in the way it’s structured and narrated, being overly reliant on voice-over to clarify more abrupt time transitions as well as shed some light on protagonist’s thoughts and emotions which in turn results in something that feels like reading a book, except that we’re watching a movie. This suffocatingly literary dependence in the storytelling department practically strips the motion picture of its other merits in the sense that it fails to establish its own artistic identity and primarily functions as a cinematic transcription of another work more than anything else and never really stands on its own.
I Saw What You Did (1988) - Director: Fred Walton - 6/10 - A very fine remake of a decent little flick from the 1960s starring John Ireland. This one is considerably more suspense-driven and is primarily aimed at more mature audiences as opposed to the original which was more of a PG-oriented material. This one shares a number of tropes with other TV movies of its era, but it succeeds in creating a genuine sense of dread and tension and really nails the creepy atmosphere in its satisfyingly trashy format. It sure as hell isn’t one of the most prepossessing pics of its kind, but I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit and even if it is not a thriller of your wildest dreams and the middle section of the film feels slightly too stagnant and inert to my liking, it does possess a solid resolution. A very agreeable piece of trash.