Category: Film

Film & DVD Reviews

Review: Robot & Frank

Robot & FrankCan a movie about grand theft be heartwarming?  I wouldn’t have thought it, but Jake Schreier’s 2012 film Robot & Frank is.  Frank Langella plays Frank, a retired criminal with a knack for figuring out break-ins — who’s also suffering from a memory disorder.  It’s never revealed by name, but it looks like the early stages of Alzheimer’s.  His son buys him a caretaker robot (voiced by Peter Sarsgaard and physically acted by Rachael Ma) to keep his mind active and help ward off the problems he’s been having.  Frank’s not thrilled with the idea of needing a robot to take care of him, until he determines the robot’s use when it shoplifts a small item for him from the store that replaced his beloved restaurant Harry’s. Continue reading

Review: Street Fighter – The Legend of Chun-Li

Cover of "Street Fighter: The Legend of C...
Cover of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li

Back in the 1990s, the arcades were brought back to life thanks to a game called Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. The popularity of the game and its characters told anyone versed in the laws of business that spin-off media was inevitable. And it came in spades. There were several anime adaptations (some better than others), an American Saturday morning cartoon, action figures, comic books, customized game controllers, apparel and just about anything else you could think of. Continue reading

Review: From Straight To Bizarre

From Straight To Bizarre
From Straight To Bizarre

Sometimes with documentaries, length can be a hinderance.  There’s such a thing as too much depth, and they can tip from fascinating to boring.  Other documentaries, like From Straight To Bizarre about the other acts on Frank Zappa’s labels in the late 1960s and early 1970s, keep the interest up all the way through — in this case, through almost three hours.  In fact, when I saw how long it was, I was a little worried — but I needn’t have.  The release from Sexy Intellectual is very highly recommended to any Zappa fans, loaded with original music (and not weirdly lame knockoffs like the otherwise awesome David Bowie: Rare and Unseen) and interviews with the particulars. Continue reading

Review: The Great Dictator

The Criterion Collection edition of The Great Dictator.
The Criterion Collection edition of The Great Dictator.

If you want, you can picture an image of the Pokémon Slowpoke with the words “Hey, The Great Dictator is a great movie!” around him.  After all, the movie came out in 1940, and was a critical and commercial success.  So you know, duh.  But sometimes obvious things need to be said, so… Hey, The Great Dictator is a great movie!  But more than that, it’s a surprisingly brave movie, showing the brutality of Hitler’s reign while  coming out before the United States got involved in World War II.  (It’s Chaplin, so it’s also funny.) Continue reading

Review: Evil Roy Slade

cover of Evil Roy Slade
Evil Roy Slade

It’s interesting to me how sometimes if a film is too good, you can’t say much about it.  For example, this weekend, I watched two films — Fantastic Mr. Fox and Evil Roy Slade.  Of these two movies, Fantastic Mr. Fox is the superior one.  Wes Anderson is a brilliant director, and the film was exquisitely made.  But I can’t really figure out what I’d fill up a review with other than adding about 300 “really”s to “It was really really really good”. Evil Roy Slade, on the other hand, is quite good, but has some pacing issues, and has a couple of casting flaws, but — there’s more for me to say about it. Continue reading

Review: All That Glitters Is A Maresnest

All That Glitters Is A Maresnest

Cardiacs were a wonderful band — pretty much any given lineup of the band is going to be awesome, but the lineup on the All That Glitters Is A Maresnest concert film is probably my favorite lineup.  Or at least one of them, since, well, probably all the various Cardiacs lineups are my favorite.  But this one especially so — I love Sarah Smith’s sax and William D. Drake’s keys and, well, just about everything.

Continue reading

It’s Not As Bad As You Think It Is: The Canyons Is A Brilliant Movie

tumblr_mrg0phZUuj1qm91tto1_1280When I was waiting to get into the Roxie Theater in San Francisco last Friday night, some people got into line behind me and immediately began chatting idiotically about how terrible the movie was going to be. “This is going to be terrible,” one of them said. I detest the mindset of people going to see movies simply because they are ‘bad’. This kind of mindset makes no allowance for the movie to not suck. It’s like the person watching is so invested in the movie being a piece of shit that they take offense if the movie dares to NOT be a piece of shit. I’m all for enjoying a hilariously inept movie, but The Canyons is actually a beautiful and brilliant film. Continue reading

Review: Man of Steel

Superman-Man-of-Steel-poster-new“What’s wrong with me, Mom?”

Superman is an icon of comic books. Superhero comics, and arguably comics in general, are what they are today partly because of him. Had he not come along, comics as we know them would be something altogether different. What they would be exactly and how different they would have been can’t be determined. But they would be different. Superman is significant for that alone. Continue reading

The Best Movie You’re Not Watching: Thunderbolt and Lightfoot

Thunderbolt & LightfootI learned that the movie Thunderbolt and Lightfoot existed in May of 2010. I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico visiting some friends and we had gone to a local video rental store and each of us chose a movie to rent. I was careful to choose a movie that was not available at the time on DVD or Netflix (it now is). I chose a Jeff Bridges movie called Against All Odds (if you don’t know the movie, I know you know the Phil Collins theme song which is called “Against All Odds” but it’s the “Take a look at me now” song). I was looking at Jeff Bridges’ other movies on the IMDB app on my iPhone when the title jumped out at me and I made a note to see if I could find the movie. Continue reading

Review: The Point (Definitive Collector’s Edition DVD)

the_pointThe album version of The Point, Harry Nilsson‘s children’s fable, was an integral part of my childhood. I have many fond memories of listening to that record with my dad, thrilling to the story of Oblio, born pointless in a world where everything is pointed, and his adventures in the Pointless Forest. But I did not see the film version until I was older, and that one time was quite awhile ago. So it was with fresh eyes that I watched the new “Definitive Collector’s Edition” DVD, but I am very happy to report it lived up to all my expectations. Continue reading