Film Review – CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989)

Image result for crimes and misdemeanors blu-rayCrimes and Misdemeanors (1989; USA; DuArt; 104m) ∗∗∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Sven Nykvist; m. Joe Malin (co-ordinator).  Cast: Alan Alda, Woody Allen, Martin Landau, Claire Bloom, Jerry Orbach, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston, Dolores Sutton, Sam Waterston, Joanna Gleason, Stephanie Roth Haberle, Gregg Edelman, Daryl Hannah, Kenny Vance, Joel Fogel. An opthamologist’s mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman. Allen’s examination of the moral dilemma is played out over two intertwining stories – one deadly and darkly serious, the other satirically comic with Allen delivering incisive one-liners. That the cocktail works beautifully is a credit to Allen’s skills as writer and director. Landau and Hustom deliver scintillatingly real performances. Alda is also superb as a pompous TV producer. [15]

Film Review – ICE STATION ZEBRA (1968)

Image result for ice station zebra dvdIce Station Zebra (1968; USA; Metrocolor; 148m) ∗∗∗½  d. John Sturges; w. Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink; ph. Daniel L. Fapp; m. Michel Legrand.  Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill, Lloyd Nolan, Alf Kjellin, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Ted Hartley, Murray Rose, Ron Masak, Sherwood Price, Lee Stanley, Joseph Bernard. A nuclear submarine commander is dispatched to the polar ice region on a rescue mission when an emergency signal is received from a research station. It soon becomes apparent that the mission is more than just a simple rescue operation. Well cast spy drama may be overlong, but retains its interest throughout thanks to a solid script and strong performances from Hudson and McGoohan. Excellent production values and imaginative use of studio sets. Originally shown in theatres with an opening overture, which was restored for the 2005 DVD release. Based on the novel by Alistair MacLean. [U]

Film Review – FRIDAY FOSTER (1975)

Image result for friday foster blu-rayFriday Foster (1975; USA; Colour; 90m) ∗∗½  d. Arthur Marks; w. Orville H. Hampton, Arthur Marks; ph. Harry J. May; m. Luchi De Jesus.  Cast: Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala, Eartha Kitt, Ted Lange, Tierre Turner, Jim Backus, Scatman Crothers, Paul Benjamin, Jason Bernard, Ed Cambridge, Julius Harris, Rosalind Miles, Carl Weathers. Friday Foster (Grier), an ex-model magazine photographer, goes to Los Angeles International airport to photograph the arrival of Blake Tarr (Rasulala), the richest black man in America. Three men attempt to assassinate Tarr. Foster photographs the melee and is plunged into a web of conspiracy involving the murder of her childhood friend, a US senator, and a shadowy plan called “Black Widow”. Tonally inconsistent and lightweight late entry into the Blaxploitation genre benefits from a strong cast including Grier and Kotto, but suffers from weak script and lacklustre direction. Based on the comic strip by Jim Lawrence. [18]

Film Review – DEEPWATER HORIZON (2016)

Image result for deepwater horizon blu-rayDeepwater Horizon (2016; USA; Colour; 108m) ∗∗∗½  d. Peter Berg; w. Matthew Sand, Matthew Carnahan; ph. Enrique Chediak; m. Steve Jablonsky.  Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich, Dylan O’Brien, Gina Rodriguez, Ethan Suplee, Brad Leland, J.D. Evermore, Joe Chrest, Chris Ashworth, Jeremy Sande, Stella Allen, Michael D. Anglin, Ilan Srulovicz, Graham McGinnis, James DuMont, Douglas M. Griffin, David Maldonado. A dramatization of the April 2010 disaster when the offshore drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, exploded and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Efficiently made disaster thriller. Despite occasional Hollywood-isation of events, it produces a thrilling second half. Wahlberg and Russell are excellent as are the effects and authentic production design. [12]

Film Review – ZELIG (1983)

Image result for zelig blu-rayZelig (1983; USA; B&W/DuArt; 79m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis; m. Dick Hyman.  Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Mary Louise Wilson, Sal Lomita, Michael Jeter, John Rothman, Marvin Chatinover, Patrick Horgan, John Buckwalter, Stanley Swerdlow, Paul Nevens, Howard Erskine, George Hamlin, Ralph Bell, Richard Whiting. “Documentary” about a man who can look and act like whoever he’s around, and meets various famous people. Technically brilliant and cleverly scripted this is one of Allen’s most original films. The actors are seamlessly blended into the archive footage through Willis’ superb cinematography. Allen’s absurdist wit shines through in this minor gem. [PG]

Film Review – LOGAN’S RUN (1976)

Image result for logan's run blu-rayLogan’s Run (1976; USA; Metrocolor; 120m) ∗∗∗  d. Michael Anderson; w. David Zelag Goodman; ph. Ernest Laszlo; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: Michael York, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov, Jenny Agutter, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Anderson Jr. An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at 30. Its basic anti-establishment premise is typical of the decade of it source and promises more than it eventually delivers. Its simplistic message and lack of depth are its key weaknesses. There are moments of merit, however, and technical aspects including production design (by Dale Hennessy) are sound. Won Oscar for Visual Effects (L.B. Abbott, Glen Robinson, Matthew Yuricich). Based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Followed by a TV series a year later, which ran for one season. [12]

Film Review – EYE IN THE SKY (2015)

Eye in the Sky (2015; UK; Colour; 102m) ∗∗∗∗  d. Gavin Hood; w. Guy Hibbert; ph. Haris Zambarloukos; m. Paul Hepker, Mark Kilian.  Cast: Helen Mirren, Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman, Barkhad Abdi, Jeremy Northam, Iain Glen, Phoebe Fox, Kim Engelbrecht, Meganne Young. A proposed UK drone strike against Al Shabaab militants is complicated when a young girl enters the kill zone. Efficiently made morality tale about the choices made in the war on terrorism considering the risk of collateral damage and the lives that may be saved through nullifying the threat. Tension is kept high throughout the race against the clock deferment and decision making between the various political and military leaders. [15]

Film Review – CAFE SOCIETY (2016)

Café Society (2016; USA; Colour; 96m) ∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Vittorio Storaro; m. Stewart Lerman (supervisor).  Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Parker Posey, Corey Stoll, Jeannie Berlin, Ken Stott, Anna Camp, Gregg Binkley, Paul Schneider, Sari Lennick, Stephen Kunken, Sheryl Lee. A young man from the Bronx falls in love with his Uncle’s secretary in Hollywood. He then returns to New York and runs a high society night club. Allen revisits familiar themes of happenstance, misguided relationships and regrets in this sumptuous period piece. There are no surprises in Allen’s screenplay, but it does have its humorous and poignant moments and is not lacking in charm. First-rate production design and gorgeous use of colour, to accentuate the glitz of Hollywood, are real standouts. First time that Allen has narrated a film without appearing on screen since RADIO DAYS (1987). [12]

Film Review – A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S SEX COMEDY (1982)

Image result for a midsummer night's sex comedy blu-rayMidsummer Night’s Sex Comedy, A (1982; USA; Technicolor; 88m) ∗∗∗  d. Woody Allen; w. Woody Allen; ph. Gordon Willis.  Cast: Woody Allen, Mia Farrow, Jose Ferrer, Julie Hagerty, Mary Steenburgen, Tony Roberts, Michael Higgins, Timothy Jenkins, Adam Redfield, Moishe Rosenfeld, Sol Frieder, Boris Zoubok, Thomas Barbour, Kate McGregor-Stewart. A wacky inventor and his wife invite two other couples for a weekend party at a romantic summer house in the 1900s countryside. Allen explores themes of lust and love in this contrived and whimsical comedy interspersed with funny one-liners and visual gags. Sumptuously photographed country setting makes it a visual treat helping to overcome the narrative faults. Based on Ingmar Bergman’s SMILES OF A SUMMER NIGHT (1955), which also inspired Stephen Sondheim’s musical “A Little Night Music”. [15]

Film Review – WHITEOUT (2009)

Image result for whiteout 2009 blu-rayWhiteout (2009; Canada/USA/France; Technicolor; 101m) ∗∗∗  d. Dominic Sena; w. Jon Hoeber, Erich Hoeber, Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes; ph. Christopher Soos; m. John Frizzell.  Cast: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O’Loughlin, Shawn Doyle, Joel S. Keller, Jesse Todd, Arthur Holden, Erin Hickock, Bashar Rahal, Julian Cain, Dennis Keiffer, Andrei Runtso, Roman Varshavsky. A U.S. Marshal tracks a killer in Antarctica, as the sun is about to set for six months.  Antarctic setting adds to the atmosphere of this otherwise familiar genre thriller. Beckinsale is good in the lead, although she remains perfectly presented despite the hostile environment. Generates some tension and thrills despite lack of originality. Based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber. [15]