Saturday, 22 June 2013

JUNE 22, 2013

116 THE HALFWAY HOUSE (1944) Directed by Basil Dearden **

I find Basil Dearden's career quite fascinating. He was born not far from where I sit writing this and over the years he has consistently made interesting and thoughtful British films. Never showy and, maybe for some (not for me) a bit on the dull side but he was a good story-teller. There were, a few clinkers along the way but more credits than debits overall.  THE HALFWAY HOUSE is not one of this best but despite that it is consistently entertaining and must be seen in its historical perspective. A group of people converge on a Welsh inn - all have problems or important decisions to make in their lives. It soon becomes apparent that their is something mysterious about the innkeeper and his pretty daughter and that time has gone back a year. Being from Ealing Studios it is tempting to see the film as a companion to the same studios DEAD OF NIGHT (to which Dearden also contributed) without that film's more sinister aspects.  The original play on which it is based (unlike the film) reportedly makes no mention of the war and therein is the problem. The films, seen today, is very much a propaganda piece with mentions of supposed cowardice, war profiteering and, rather specifically, Irish neutrality and as a result comes across as rather preachy. Having said that it is very watchable and, interestingly, it seems to have been inspired by a real incident that has never been fully explained (see IMDb). It is good to see Mervyn Johns and real life daughter paired together and  to see the cute Sally Ann Howes long before her signature role in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG. Worth a look.

The Halfway House

Friday, 21 June 2013

JUNE 21, 2013

Sorry for inactivity but I'm working my way through five seasons of THE WIRE...and yes, it really is one of the best TV shows of all time. Great characters, awesome cast, outstanding scripts. *****

Friday, 7 June 2013

JUNE 7, 2013

113 REPTILICUS (1961) Directed by Sidney Pink *

A Danish monster movie that has little to recommend it beyond curiousity value, a certain grainy charm in the monster scenes and a nice poster. For the rest the direction is non-existent, the script risible, the acting laughable and the special effects pathetic...and you get a travelogue of Copenhagen.
A fan on IMDb mounts a spirited defense of the film and its writer Ib Melchoir.

Also Viewed :

114 THE RAINMAKER (1997) Directed by Francis Coppola ***
115 FRANKENWEENIE (2013) Directed by Tim Burton ***

Thursday, 6 June 2013

JUNE 5, 2013

109 INVADERS FROM MARS (1986) Directed by Tobe Hooper *

I alway thought Tobe Hooper was a pretty crap director and this remake of William Cameron Menzies' 1953 film certainly didn't change my opinion. In fact just about everything about this film is bad from the acting, the script, the dialogue, the not-so-special special effects. But, to be fair,  the question as to whether the badness is intentional must be asked. I admit I don't know the answer. What finally dooms the film is that it really can't decide what it wants to be. It seems to start as a straight remake of the 1953 films but subsequently shows signs of being a serious sci-fi film, then a parody/comedy. It retains the "It's all a dream but its beginning again" ending of the first film but plays it more like the over familiar twist in the tail ending of so many 70's and 80's horror movies.The original film of 1953 retains a naive charm and a certain menace even today thanks to Menzies' off-kilter child's eye view perspectives and being content to keep to it rather than flounder all over the place.

Invaders from Mars
 Also Viewed :

110  BENEATH HILL 60 (2007) Directed by John Sims  ***
111  THEY FOUGHT FOR THE MOTHERLAND (1967) Directed by Sergei Bondarchuk ***
112  TOY STORY 3 (2009) Directed by Lee Unkrich ****