Friday, March 2, 2012

Not just Movies, but Films too!

Expensive Women (1931) –* ½. Silent-star Dolores (Drew Barrymore’s grandmother) Costello’s last leading role casts her as a rich socialite. She is fine and quite beautiful and has some real chemistry with co-star Warren William, but this is tossed aside for her romance with wimpy Anthony Bushell who is just awful. 

The Black Swan (2010) - *1/2. Portman won an Oscar for this pretentious ‘thriller’ about a ballerina who wins the role of a lifetime and promptly goes nuts. If the overwrought  dramatics don’t turn you off, the in-your-face camera style of director Androfsky will.

The Valiant (1929) - **. In his film debut, Paul Muni received a best actor nomination for this stagebound relic about a murderer’s mysterious past. For some unexplained reason, he’s allowed to write a newspaper column about his plight which alerts his heart-of-gold mother in small-town Ohio. Pretty unendurable, but finale does carry some emotional weight.

The 10th Victim (1965) - ** ½.  Ultra-cool Marcello Mastroianni  and stunning  Ursula Andress are hunter and victim in this amusing pop-art futuristic comedy that unfortunately runs out of gas near the end.

Men of Chance (1931) - ***. Solid racetrack yarn has Mary Astor (in a nice understated performance) posing as a countess to dupe a gambler (Ricardo Cortez). Film should be better known.

Color Me Kubrick (2005) - ** ½. John Malkovich is fun to watch as  Alan Conway, a real life gay, alcoholic  con-man who somehow convinces half of London that he is reclusive director Stanley Kubrick. Screenplay is by the real Kubrick’s assistant.

Cedar Rapids (2011) - ***. Surprisingly effective comedy about a straight-laced insurance salesman (Ed Helms) cutting loose at a convention. Takes awhile to get going but worth sticking with. Even Anne Heche is likable in this one.

Numbered Men (1930) - *. Early Mervyn LeRoy film is stiff, unrealistic (convicts are rewarded for good behavior with dynamite and firearms) prison film. Pretty rough viewing. Hard to believe LeRoy was only one year away from making Little Caesar and two years from I Was a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. Stars Conrad Nagel.