Monday, September 28, 2020
The King and Four Queens (1956)
The Big Show-Off (1945)
Monday, September 21, 2020
The Missing Corpse (1945)
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Her Favourite Patient (1945)
40 45 58
Hedy Fredericks is a doctor going back to her hometown for a few days, making a few new friends along the way. She helps out her uncle at his practice till things are less busier, but she's eager to leave as soon as possible. Things get complicated when a man Hedy kept mistaking for a childhood friend now finds himself determined to keep her here to romance...
Her Favourite Patient (also known as Bedside Manner) is an entertaining rom-com. Hedy is a fun and intelligent lead to follow through these various shenanigans, dramas, and romantic entanglements. She's got spunk, and carries the movie very well! The movie is quite funny, with plenty of amusing dialogue, neat characters, and [amusing] touches, like how she refers to Uncle Doc.
The plot is cheesy, but effective, and never makes any serious missteps. We've got a pretty traditional romance, made up of a duo who can't stand each-other, naturally. We actually get plenty of time for the two lovebirds to get to know each-other before the romance begins, which I partially credit the movie for! Only partially because of how it turns out (more on that below). The climax is inevitable, in the way you look forward to.
If it's guilty of anything, it's trying to do a bit too much, or perhaps just not balancing everything correctly. We've got this doctor back in her hometown, helping her uncle and new friends, recognising old schoolmates, and having a romance to boot! And that's just her character! Not that the others have reams of story or anything, but it all adds up. To the point where the titular engagement, the main thrust of the film, doesn't begin until the 45 minute mark! Morgan doesn't even become Hedy's patient until very nearly the last act!
The movie also feels a little rushed at times, which seems like a symptom of the above problem. With not enough time to have set up a romance, Morgan goes from having spent half the movie cold and hostile towards Hedy to having a sudden infatuation, strong enough for him to race after her at a 100 miles an hour and fake injuries after a car accident in the process!
Her Favourite Patient has quite an extensive cast. First and foremost is Hedy, who's likeable and intelligent! You really beleive she's a doctor, and this is always in play. She even shows medical smarts after Morgan's supposed head injury! Morgan is a fun guy, just trying to get it on with his date and this strange woman keeps messing it up by mistaking him for someone else. Though his behaviour is a little rushed here and there. The three Smith's are a fun addition, and appear more than Morgan does for the first half of the movie! They're not the deepest or richest of characters, but I liked them, and was sad to see them leave/go before the movie was over. I guess the writer new he needed to jettison someone to finally focus on the plot.
Hedy's uncle is a fun presence, always trying some plan or another to get her to stay, and sweep away his tide of patients. It is a little weird and perhaps creepy that he is so obsessed with getting his niece to stay in this dullsvillle town, and by guiding her to bang her patient at that/to boot, but it's never a big deal.
Stella is an amusing dame, sarcastic, but likeable, and her story gets a nice cap-off. Briefly appearing Russian pilot Tanya Punchinskaya is adorable, and I wished she'd got more to do! Lastly, there is Lola and George, who were...people? I was a little unsure who they were. They kinda melted among the sea of names and faces, not helped by everyone looking the same. I'm quite frankly unsure if I even got some of these names right! And I haven't even mentioned all the characters yet!
Something I like about the movie is how it's not only about a female doctor, but it never makes a big thing about it. No-one groans, gives a side eye, or complains about women. We also see a female soldier from Russia, and likewise there are no cracks about ovaries making her a poor pilot or anything. Nor any Russia bashing either! I guess because this was the height of the war, when Russia was a firm ally in the war. It was this same reason that The Drums of Fu Manchu never got a sequel, because Hollywood wanted to keep on China's good side, and worried a serial with a Chinese supervillain might upset them.
I like the touch that Hedy does actually know deep down the diagnosis is barmy, because she wants to, as the movie says. It adds further credence to her intelligence
The actors here all do fine jobs. No bad performances, and while they should've stressed about getting different hairstylists or wardrobes, everyone manages to entertain, with Ruth Hussey, Charles Ruggles, and Claudia Drake being highlights.
Her Favourite Patient is a fun time! A bit cluttered, and it beats around the bus for longer than it should, but it's still more than worth a watch.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Invasion of the Saucer Men (1957)
The Hideous Sun Demon (1958)
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
The Thousand and One Lives of Doctor Mabuse (2020)
Indie studio Hollinsworth has done a few projects in recent years, from short films, to spooky features that look quite interesting! Also a short that resembles the hilarious Family Wolff (still holds up!). One recent bit of news gave me a start though, and like poor haunted Inspector Lohmann, I received] a similar nightmare...There was going to be a third Doctor Mabuse film in their series!
It's been some time since the brave and noble Inspector Lohmann finally killed Doctor Mabuse, the arch-criminal who terrorised the city. But Lohmann still finds himself haunted by the memory of the madman, and worries if he truly died that day, or if this is simply another of his twisted mind-games...
2013's Dr. Mabuse and its sequel Etiopomar were not exactly well received by me. I found them terribly made, directed, acted, sound[ed], scored, edited, lit, and everything else under the sun. They were also very disrespectful to the source material, I felt. They use a lot of superficial elements, but the plots range from = to just plain weird! They're almost unrecognisable as a part of the franchise, and I strongly urge you to steer clear of them if you can help it!
The Thousand and One Lives of Doctor Mabuse (try saying that when you're drunk!) is a pretty pointless affair. The previous film had wrapped up the story completely! The Doctor was dead! Utterly! No body swapping to save him this time. Not only that, but literally every other character was dead too, save for a select few in a baffling epilogue. I was intrigued to learn how this third entry would explain how on earth anything could still happen in this series after that conclusion, and after having seen the film, I can tell you the movie doesn't even bother. It instead moves its focus to something entirely different, going back to Lohmann of the first movie.
On one hand I'm hardly sorry to see all that go, since none of it had a place in a = film, but on the other hand, if the previous movies went to the trouble of setting all that = up, it's a bit weird for it to be ignored, especially when that = ended on a (meaningless) cliffhanger.
a lot of the problems from the previous are still present, not least of which being that everyone still mispronounces Mabuse. -ah! It ends with an -ah! Mabus-ah! Christ, I don't mean to harp, but simply watching one of the old movies tells you immediately how to say it, so not knowing how when you're making your own entry gives away that you've never actually watched them.
The story here is low-key. There's no grand plan or large roster of characters, nor even any =. The focus is entirely on Inspector Lohmann, and his lingering trauma about Mabuse. The majorioty of the film is a two-man play where he's strapped down in a chair speaking to a projection of Mabuse's head. The latter constantly asserts that he's not dead, and that reality is not what you know it, etc, while Lohmann's dialogue is just as predictable.
This structure is somewhat derivative of this team's previous Adam Sera short, but as far as the concept goes, this isn't a bad =. Got more than a few holes and inconsistencies, but not terrible, and if nothing else, it has a proper ending, which I appreciated greatly. We get an alright insight into Lohmann's mind,
Getting to the dialogue, it's not horrible, and some of the exchanges are quite good. But a few too many exchanges boil down to "You're lying" "Am I?", often with those same words (or variations upon) repeated. It started to get on my nerves a bit, and I found Lohmann to be a bit of a weak protagonist for not simply tuning the Doctor out. Close your eyes and think of Boney M, you'll be fine!
I like the psychological take on the characters, though I miss seeing a straightforward stories of Mabuse being a criminal, messing with the stock exchange or topping a bank. Aside from killing people, he hasn't actually committed a single crime in any of these movies! No counterfeit, no drug dealing, and no kidnapping!
acting = Nathan The deceased Linden Chiles gets another chance to act, thanks to some unused footage from what I assume to be an = scene from the first movie. That was quite a surprise, and it fit well.
The direction here is unremarkable, and the largely CGI nature honestly makes it a bit hard to have any opinion of the direction. All we have to judge are a few swirly shots of Lohmann, staggering around a town square, or standing in his apartment.
Visually this is in the same boat as its predecessors, but improved. They're still filming largely in a green screen in =, but things aren't as =. The CGI is pretty cheap, but the black and white scheme alleviates this a little. As for the scenes in reality, modern apartments/houses still look ill-fitting for the tone and world presented here, but for a short like this I'll overlook it. Lastly, the outdoors scenes are pretty effective thanks to the complete absence of anyone else. It gives a good atmosphere.
Perhaps my biggest criticism of this film is that I feel it's a little too short. The idea perhaps could have been given another 15 or 20 minutes to really =, keep us in suspense, and explore interesting ideas about our current world.
The Thousand and One Tales isn't a movie that needed to exist. Its story is =, and as an addition to this series, as well as the greater Doctor Mabuse canon, it's pretty unnecessary. However, it's not entirely horrible, and has got at least a few good qualities, that save it from being on par with its two predecessors. This in no way scratches that fix for a real Mabuse film, but it's definitely the best = would ever make of
Dracula 3D (2012)
Ever since I was a young'in of about 12 or 13, I've been a diehard fan of Dario Argento. This of course means I have never seen anything post-Opera. I mean, what torture would that be! Ever since the 80s wrapped up, the qualities of his movies plummeted! He lost his groove somehow and he just never got it back. Maybe longtime partner and collaborator Daria Nicolodi = and when they split up]]]] Dracula 3D...
In the rural Romanian town of Passo Borgo, terrible things are happening. People are mysteriously dying, and everyone is scared of something. When Johnathan Harker arrives in the town to do business for a Count Dracula, he quickly discovers what, and is set upon by creatures of darkness. His wife Mina soon arrives, looking for her husband, and =...
Dracula 3D is a film that caused quite a stir upon its release, because people just couldn't believe it! It didn't seem real, it had to be a joke, what the heck is going on? The trailer perfectly encapsulates the film, both everything wrong and right with it! This is a bad movie in the conventional sense. The acting is appalling, the effects abominable, and the =. But it is hilarious!
Let's start with the good. The story is satisfactory enough. It doesn't do justice to the novel, but as its own thing, it's not that bad. What causes a genuine problem, and not one that makes you laugh, is the fact that it's almost 2 hours long. While never REALLY boring, it does get a bit drawn out in places. Characters will disappear for long stretches, some scenes feel either too long or wholly unnecessary, and =. = Every problem this film's pacing and story has could be solved if it was shorter!
This has a few touches of authenticity to the book, such as rarely included scenes, and the epistolary style. This ends up being underused and forgotten though, as characters get/become too busy to write anything. We're also missing half the characters! Lucy's undergone a baffling surname change, and we've got no Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, or Quincey Morris. Even Van Helsing doesn't show up until the last half hour.
The tone here is surely meant to be scary, but it's so funny instead! There are many hilariously cheesy moments, like when Van Helsing literally fends of a vampire by holding two sticks together in a cross! or when he kills the big burly henchman in 5 seconds flat! One area is does mostly succeed in is that it does feel like a classical horror film. The effects might be super modern, but this does feel like something from the 70s. Well, except for the nudity, anyway!
The execution in many areas is also lacking. There's an overall amateurish quality to the production. == For example, just about all the villains die extremely easily! It takes like 5 seconds, and they posed zero real threat.
The acting in Dracula 3D comes twofold. The physical actors are rubbish, and the dub actors are terrible! More than that, the dubbing itself sounds really ill-fitting. All of these things come together beautifully, in a perfect storm of = that is hilarious to watch! These people give such amazingly cheesy performances! The greatest is the priest. "He is evil, Van Helsing, do you hear me? EEEEVILLLLLL!!"
Moving onto specific actors. Unax Ugalde seems to me the lead as Johnathan Harker, but quickly falls by the wayside. Marta Gastini is the true lead, and is alright, but unremarkable. I could not tell her and Lucy apart. Asia Argento is tolerable. I barely recognised her honestly, since I was actively looking out for her (and yes, she takes her kit off, in case you were wondering]).
Rutger Hauer is a mediocre Van Helsing. He's a great actor, and I trust him to make a great Van Helsing in a better movie, but this is not it. He also takes forever to show up. I will say though that his American accent isn't too distracting/as distracting s I thought it'd be. Most interesting is that Hauer has himself played Dracula on at least one occasion!
Getting to the Count himself, Thomas Kretschmann is a pretty lousy Dracula. He's not threatening, he's stiff and uninteresting, and never raises his voice beyond a whisper (EXCEPT TO EMOTE REALLY LOUDLY!). He never alters his facial expression, making him look all the more duller. Only in a couple of scenes does he really give more of an effort, to no avail.
Augusto Zucchi!...Ok, I am aware my American readers will have no idea who I'm talking about, so I'll give you a =. He's the grumpy but lovable police chief in Il Commissario Rex, and = So imagine my surprise when he's not only in a Dario Argento film, but is impaled and eaten by a giant grasshopper! Just goes to show you can never know what to expect.
The music here is fun! It's cheesy, yes, but it has a very classical Gothic horror throwback sound to it that I liked. It builds the mood well.
The locations here are mixed. The woods are effectively atmospheric, and Dracula's castle isn't half bad. Some of the locations are practical, while others are achieved by poor digital effects. Those shots are minimal though, and the sets are seen the most.
As for direction, Argento hasn't entirely lost his touch visually. You'd never believe a master cinematographer made this, and it has the feel of a TV movie, but there are a few neat shots, and well framed scenes. As for the 3D aspect though, there's nothing here I could tell was 3D. The rare moments that come close to popping out of the screen aren't even aimed at the camera most of the time.
Now let's come to the greatest moment in the film-The effects! Oh boy, they are the funniest thing you'll see =! We've got fake blood spurts, hilarious decapitations, and CGI wolves and locations that look out of a Playstation game. The film unwisely lingers on these moments too, giving us plenty of time to see how fake they look.
We get an even mix of terrible practical effects, and terrible digital effects, showing that the team on this film didn't discriminate. The best moment by far is the giant grasshopper
Overall, Dracula 3D has some serious problems, but in a way these only elevate it. It may not be good per se, but it's always entertaining, and what more could you want for a fun movie night with friends!...