Harsh Texture

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    • action
    • comedy
    | Feb. 3, 2018, 6:58 p.m.
    What a strange film this is! Beverly Hills Cop began its life as a Sylvester Stallone actioner. Stallone didn’t last long in the project (eventually he’d make Cobra as the film he wanted this to be) but the film still feels constructed for him in the opening sequences. Eddie Murphy is surrounded by a cast that doesn’t click at all. When Mikey (James Russo) embraces Axel Foley and professes a brotherly love, the acting is fine, but the two actors share no rapport. Paul Reiser’s tack on role never makes any sense within the context of a police station.
    • action
    • comedy
    • low budget
    • martial arts
    | Nov. 24, 2016, 4:16 p.m.
    Hollywood, as life, is never quite fair. The sure fire winners don’t always win. The talent that’s supposed to become huge stars don’t always graduate to their deserved level even if their work becomes appreciated in due time. If there’s a positive to be found, it’s in films like Blind Fury. Rutger Hauer’s performances in his early European output through American features like Blade Runner and Nighthawks proved he had the chops and the presence of a major Hollywood star, but none of these films panned out in their initial release. By the late eighties Hauer was relegated
    • comedy
    • crime
    • thriller
    | Aug. 26, 2017, 12:04 p.m.
    The white picket fences and horse ranches beckoned Sterling Hayden in the Asphalt Jungle. Salvation from the cruel grime of city life. Those picket fences and horse farms make a brief appearance in Blue Ruin. Although they show up in the middle of the feature, and instead of offering a glimpse of the promised land it’s only a brief peak at sanity. Dwight (Macon Blair) has a fresh corpse in the trunk, the second Cleland boy he’s killed since returning to his hometown to avenge the murder of his parents. The first was Wade Cleland. News of
    • comedy
    • drama
    | Dec. 10, 2016, 12:32 p.m.
    I first learned of Chef from a breathless article that claimed it got current technology right. After the moderate disappoint of “Her” in that regard, I was more than willing for a film to address tech even if its aims were much more modest. Don’t fall for the opening shot where a disemboweled pig is reduced to cuts of meat. The real key sequence involves an early conversation between Chef Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) and his moppet son, Percy. Casper learns the ages-old dodge of “go ask your mother” as a means for fathers to shirk parental responsibility doesn’t
    • comedy
    • crime
    | July 18, 2016, 10:33 p.m.
    The eighties were the last gasp for the Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries in the popular psyche. The airwaves were ruled by Murder She Wrote, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Matlock, and the frequent Perry Mason made-for-tv films. In 90 minutes or less, you got a victim, a murderer, and the omniscient sleuth deducing the whole sordid plot with time for a snarky closing line. What better time to torpedo the whole genre? Clue strikes at the achilles heel of Murder Mysteries: it really doesn’t matter who the killer was. Writers often confess to picking out the murderer and
    • comedy
    • musical
    | April 2, 2017, 2:01 p.m.
    George Lucas is credited with kicking off the 50’s nostalgia movement with his American Graffiti. It was a vision of the last days of a golden era. Pristine, gorgeous cars, cruising round and round city centers packed with teens. Even if this was a setup for the gut-punch end title cards, in American Graffiti the good times were truly good. Hairspray arrived late to the party, four years after the American Graffiti derivative “Happy Days” mercifully ended, and when the nostalgia circuit was becoming a bit more cynical and jaundiced. Hairspray may smile just as wide as
    • comedy
    • screwball comedy
    | July 9, 2016, 1:22 a.m.
    Beginning with the wonderful credit sequence that introduces the cast and crew on neon lights over art deco buildings, My Man Godfrey never makes a false move, never casts the wrong actor for their character. There’s not a set that doesn’t intimidate the viewer, either with the horror of slum life, or the shallowness of high society trappings. Director Gregory La Cava even finds room for a few technically accomplished shots, like Godfrey’s initial ascent up those staircases to the rooms of the Bullock women, each resembling an ornate cage for an ornery tropical bird. Well off
    • comedy
    • crime
    • drama
    • pre code
    | Aug. 12, 2017, 4:09 p.m.
    The synopsis for Night Nurse hangs over it like a dense fog. Certainly it reads like a candidate for the bleakest film of any era: an unproven nurse is pitted against a thug chauffeur who sees a ways to riches through starving a couple of children to death and claiming their inheritance. The thug chauffeur? None other than Clark Gable looking more like Boris Karloff’s evil twin than Rhett Butler. But Night Nurse is an incredibly balanced film, indeed duality is a major theme throughout. Even if after years of “realistic” and “gritty” features, Hollywood still hews to morals
    • comedy
    • horror
    • low budget
    • Science Fiction
    | Sept. 30, 2017, 6:16 p.m.
    After losing his minimum wage job, Otto (Emilio Estevez) is conned into helping Bud (Harry Dean Stanton) repossess a car. After getting the taste of the repo man life, Otto finds himself drawn to the profession. Meanwhile, a renegade scientist (Fox Harris) slips into town in a Chevy Malibu. In the trunk lies destructive evidence of extraterrestrial life. Repo Man’s most interesting comparison is probably Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Whereas the former was more a vehicle for Spielberg to test out big budget filmmaking and hone his voice, the latter runneth over with ideas
    • comedy
    • drama
    • fantasy
    • musical
    | July 4, 2017, 3:42 p.m.
    The runaway success of the Jazz Singer forces the latest Don Lockwood/Lina Lamont romance picture to switch to being a talkie in mid production. No one seems to know how to film sound, and the final product is laughed out of the preview screenings. Lockwood is convinced he can save the picture by turning it into a musical, but his biggest obstacle is his co-star’s weedy voice. Maybe Singin’ in the Rain is not the greatest film ever released, but it typifies the best of the studio system. It may not be filet, but its still steak,
    • comedy
    • crime
    • drama
    • southern
    | May 20, 2017, 5:15 p.m.
    The James Garner con man is an archetype unto itself. Affable, flintly, always working a scheme while working just as hard to avoid physical confrontation. Garner mostly plied his trade in Westerns and Film Noirs (or their stylistic descendants), self contained worlds with little bearing on our reality. The consequences of the gunfights, car chases, duels, and card games didn’t even carry over into subsequent episodes. Maverick and Jim Rockford made a point of avoiding minefields like American race relations. Not for bad reason, either. Race and slavery remain an enormously complicated topic even in the modern
    • comedy
    • western
    | July 16, 2017, 1:29 p.m.
    By 1971 the American Western was in a pathetic state. The genre’s chokehold on television was lessening, Gunsmoke and Bonanza had just a few years left in prime time. Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah exploded the whole traditional notion of a Western. The former opening the floodgates to knock-off Spaghetti flicks, and the latter introducing a gore and a moral hardness that seemed contrary to the whole attitude of the classic cowboy film. John Wayne, and Joel McCrea were pumping out formulaic Westerns, paeans to a bygone era that felt hopelessly out of touch with their time. The young
    • comedy
    | May 27, 2018, 12:33 p.m.
    In perhaps the purest distillation of a Miramax picture, a group of C-List actors will themselves into bigger careers in a film that highlights the mid 90's neo lounge culture.
    • comedy
    • drama
    • fantasy
    | July 15, 2017, 7:47 p.m.
    Here’s a setup for a redemption arc: Jack (Jeff Bridges), a repugnant shock jock spews bile onto his faithful audience, berating them, harassing them. For his efforts he lives in a huge penthouse overlooking Manhattan and enjoys the company of an attractive model girlfriend. Soon though he gives the wrong advice to the wong caller, who uses their conversation as the pretext to take a shotgun into a restaurant and murder seven innocent people. The film skips ahead three years, Jack sulks in a video store. He’s technically an employee, but really is just leeching off the store
    • comedy
    | April 30, 2017, 2:45 p.m.
    Laurel and Hardy have hundreds of shared screen credits, and such was the level of their quality that almost all are guaranteed to provide entertainment. Alas, being a fan of Laurel and Hardy is a game of slim pickings. Only a fraction of their work are available on DVD and streaming services. TCM will occasionally air some of the better known pictures, and even tack on some of their shorts on occasion. The Flying Deuces is available due to a 2014 restoration project. The plot finds the duo on a soundstage representing Paris, in the final days
    • comedy
    • drama
    | Feb. 18, 2017, 5:32 p.m.
    None of the characters within struck me as acting as a direct surrogate for Wes Anderson, but its clear he shares a kinship with the staff of the Grand Budapest Hotel. The story is buried in four layers of flashbacks. A girl sits in a cemetery to read the masterpiece of an author beside his gravestone. It’s covered in keys. We then jump back into the mid-eighties where the elderly author recounts writing the novel. Almost immediately we go further back in time to the author’s mid-life in the mid twentieth century. He’s checked himself into the Grand