Tuesday, 29 August 2017

The Movies Of Bridget Moynahan

All movies starring Bridget Moynahan and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

Coyote Ugly (2000)

Serendipity (2001)

The Sum Of All Fears (2002)

Lord Of War (2005)

Battle: Los Angeles (2011)

John Wick (2014)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Movies Of Barbara Hershey

All movies starring Barbara Hershey and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

The Right Stuff (1983)

The Natural (1984)

Hannah And Her Sisters (1986)

Falling Down (1993)

A Dangerous Woman (1993)

Black Swan (2010)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The Movies Of Joe Pesci

All movies starring Joe Pesci and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

Raging Bull (1980)

Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Betsy's Wedding (1990)

Goodfellas (1990)

JFK (1991)

Casino (1995)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Movies Of Ally Sheedy

All movies starring Ally Sheedy and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

Bad Boys (1983)

War Games (1983)

The Breakfast Club (1985)

St. Elmo's Fire (1985)

Short Circuit (1986)

Betsy's Wedding (1990)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Movie Review: Ladies In Love (1936)

A romantic comedy drama, Ladies In Love features an overpowered cast struggling with an underpowered script.

Three women move into a Budapest apartment as roommates. all looking for a better life. The poor but bright Martha (Janet Gaynor) is trying to get the attention of scientist Rudi (Don Ameche), but he is too preoccupied with his rabbit experiments to notice. Martha turns her attention to worldly magician Sandor (Alan Mowbray). Chorus girl Susie (Loretta Young) is seeking independence but falls under the spell of handsome nobleman Karl (Tyrone Power).

Yoli (Constance Bennett), who is less of a believer in love and is more about seeking riches, is carrying on an apparently loveless affair with John (Paul Lukas), and old but wealthy man. Their relationship gets complicated with the arrival of perky temptress Marie (Simone Simon) to distract John. The women experience ups and downs as they navigate the choppy waters of uncertain relationships.

Twentieth Century Fox threw almost all their stars into one film, and while the talent occasionally sparkles, they are hamstrung by a lacklustre script. Endlessly talky, limited to one theme and eventually tiresome, Ladies In Love explores women's romantic ambitions but fails to find a genuine spark.

The film does deserve credit for demonstrating courage as it conjures up a bittersweet ending. Not all the romances have fairytale endings, and indeed Susie's story takes her to a dark and near-tragic place. But otherwise Ladies In Love is very much stuck in its era. The women have no life outside of their obsession with men. Every scene features the women either trying to snare a man or endlessly talking about the imperative or consequences of succeeding or failing in landing a partner.

The limp screenplay claims to be an adaptation of a play by a Ladislaus Bus-Fekete, one of many pseudonyms for screenwriter Leslie Bush-Fekete. If there ever was a play, it appears to have never been produced. Director Edward H. Griffith adds nothing to the film, and keeps the action largely stage bound. The presumed Budapest setting provides a context for the assembly of exotic target men, but is otherwise wasted.

The talent-rich cast members do their best to pull the film towards respectability, and ensure that although the words are uninspired, they are delivered with conviction. Janet Gaynor in particular shines as the spirited Martha. Loretta Young and Constance Bennett quickly provide clear differentiation in the women's personalities. Tyrone Power, Don Ameche and Alan Mowbray are prominent among the men, and provide distinct shades of male behaviour, ranging from suave to possessive.

Lacking laughs and liveliness, Ladies In Love is largely listless.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Movies Of Cynthia Nixon

All movies starring Cynthia Nixon and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

Amadeus (1984)

The Pelican Brief (1993)

Marvin's Room (1996)

Sex And The City (2008)

Rampart (2011)

5 Flights Up (2014)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Movies Of Anne Heche

All movies starring Anne Heche and reviewed on the Ace Black Blog are linked below:

The Juror (1996)

Donnie Brasco (1997)

Volcano (1997)

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Rampart (2011)

Arthur Newman (2012)

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.
The Index of Movie Stars is here.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Movie Review: Hancock (2008)

A superhero comedy with a difference, Hancock deserves credit for conjuring up an original perspective on all-powerful heroes, but then clumsily bifurcates into a discordant narrative.

In Los Angeles, Hancock (Will Smith) is an indestructible superhero with a bad attitude. He can fly, stop trains and bullets, and throw any object to a great distance, but he is also surly, destructive, frequently drunk and generally disliked, despite stopping criminals in their tracks. Meanwhile, Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman) is a public relations consultant struggling to get his career on track. Married to Mary (Charlize Theron), Ray is finding no takers for his concept of branding corporate charity initiatives.

After Hancock intervenes to save Ray's life at a rail crossing, Ray takes it upon himself to try and improve Hancock's image. The superhero reluctantly agrees and surrenders himself to a stint behind bars as punishment for the carnage he has caused. Hancock is slow to participate in rehabilitation programs, but gradually opens up about his past and the source of his simmering anger. Revealing information about Hancock's background suddenly comes to light from an unexpected source.

At approximately the halfway point of Hancock, the big twist is revealed, and the film heads off in a whole new direction. Which is a pity. The abrupt change of trajectory launches the narrative towards a convoluted origins story where new facts come fast and furious, and none of them are given sufficient air to breathe. A lot is revealed about Hancock and his relationship with another character, but it's a rushed blur of history and science-fiction-made-up-on-the-fly.

It is too much to ask a 92 minute film to adequately tackle two different weighty themes, and Hancock's first part is by far the better. With some excellent laughs and a caustic attitude, director Peter Berg explores the emotional malaise of a reluctant superhero. Hancock is much more comfortable passed out cradling a bottle than rescuing anyone, but rescue he does, often leaving a trail of expensive mayhem in his wake. What causes a superhero to descend into a funk, and possible pathways for him to recover, make for a fun initial ride.

Will Smith and Jason Bateman bounce off each other with contrasting energy levels, Bateman's Ray fully invested in his own can-do pseudo management babble, Smith nailing Hancock's spare-me standoffishness. Charlize Theron gets to do a lot more in the second part of the film, but by then all the emotional momentum of the film's set-up is lost.

Elsewhere Berg mixes in the usual tired CGI effects at regular intervals to satisfy genre fans who just want to see ridiculous pixel-generated action.

Hancock soars when it sets its sights on the future, and stumbles on its own myth when it tries to explain the past.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Movie Review: Raintree County (1957)

A misguided attempt to create another Gone With The Wind, Raintree County sometimes looks gorgeous but sets a new benchmark for boredom.

Indiana, 1859. John Wickliff Shawnessey (Montgomery Clift) is a recently graduated young man in love with his sweetheart Nell (Eva Marie Saint). John is also enthralled by his teacher Professor Stiles (Nigel Patrick), and inspired by Stiles' words John goes into the swamplands on a fruitless quest to look for the mythical Raintree that gives the county its name. But John is soon hopelessly distracted by the arrival of the beautiful Susanna Drake (Elizabeth Taylor), a southern belle on a visit. After a brief tryst Susanna announces that she is pregnant, and John does the honourable thing and marries her. But the pregnancy story was a ruse and she was never carrying his child.

Further tension is added when John, a firm pro-Lincoln abolitionist, learns that Susanna supports slavery. On a trip south to her hometown of New Orleans John learns of Susanna's troubled family history, including a tragic house fire that killed her parents and a beloved Negro housekeeper. With Susanna starting to exhibit signs of mental illness, they move back north and start a family. The eruption of the Civil War adds more stress and John eventually has to fulfil his military duty and save his family.

An adaptation of a book by Ross Lockridge, Jr., Raintree County has the ingredients that could have created a rousing epic: a civil war setting, a mismatched romance, a clash of ideas between progressive idealism and prevailing pragmatism, academic discourse, and plenty of melodramatic personal tragedies. The settings are gorgeous and the costumes are lavish.

Somehow, in the hands of director Edward Dmytryk and screenwriter Millard Kaufman, the film never comes close to igniting. With horrid pacing, stiff dialogue and through-the-motions acting, Raintree County is three hours of tortuous boredom.

Whether before or after the car accident that scarred his face and shut down production for months, Montgomery Clift is bland and boring, a black hole sucking energy at the heart of the film. Elizabeth Taylor is poorly served by harsh characterization that destroys all empathy early: Susanna is a woman who lies about a pregnancy and goes to bed with an army of dolls, including a grotesque half-burned figurine. Subtle, coy or clever she is not, and between Susanna's unhinged personality and John's emptiness the film has nothing to latch onto.

Very late in the film John joins the war effort, and in the company of colourful rogue Orville 'Flash' Perkins (an over-animated Lee Marvin) Dmytryk finally finds a faint pulse, but even the battle scenes carry a cheap whiff.

As Clift and Taylor dominate scene after scene, the secondary cast is confined to the far background. Eva Marie Saint is, well, saintly as the long-suffering true love. Rod Taylor drifts in and out of the film on a single note as a politician-in-waiting. Agnes Moorehead and Walter Abel appear lost as John's parents.

A laborious exercise in endurance despite some pretty visuals, Raintree County is a painful slog through waist-high swamp waters.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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