Body Snatchers (1993) Abel Ferrara
Warner Archive Blu-ray (1:27)
I think I was out cold for most of the 90s since I do not at all remember Body Snatchers, the third film version of Jack Finney’s novel The Body Snatchers (which eventually became known as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, filmed first in 1956 and again in 1978). Ferrara’s film certainly feels familiar but never comes across as a re-tread. Instead it’s a fresh look at the tale which adds a new element of foreboding by having the story take place at a military base. Definitely worth picking up.
Zero Hour! (1957) Hall Bartlett
Warner Archive DVD (1:21)
Let’s face it: having seen Airplane! (1980), it’s impossible to see Zero Hour! as anything other than Airplane!’s source material. (They even borrowed the exclamation point!) Yet in 1957, Zero Hour! was considered an exciting, suspenseful disaster movie that proved successful on its own merits. Much of the plot and dialogue was lifted verbatim for Airplane!, so it’s next to impossible to watch Zero Hour! as anything other than a straight comedy. In fact Zero Hour! is the only film I know of that you can watch as a serious, suspenseful drama before seeing Airplane!, and a full-fledged comedy after seeing Airplane!
The Sleeping City (1950) George Sherman
This semi-documentary style film noir, set and filmed at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, exposes corruption among the hospital staff, including narcotics racketeers. The film stars one of my noir favorites, Richard Conte as well as the lovely Coleen Gray.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) Gordon Hessler
Indicator Series Blu-ray (UK – region-free) (1:46)
Sinbad’s adventures continue (this time with John Philip Law in the title role) as he faces an evil magician (Tom Baker) seeking to reach the Fountain of Destiny on the lost land of Lemuria. Once again, Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion special effects alone are more than worth the price of the Sinbad box set. The first film, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is probably the better film of the two, but I think I enjoyed The Golden Voyage of Sinbad just a bit more. See what you think.
The Machinist (2004) Brad Anderson
DVD – interlibrary loan (1:42)
Previously discussed here
The Beast with Five Fingers (1947) Robert Florey
Warner Archive DVD (1:28)
Peter Lorre plays Hilary Cummins, a man working as a personal assistant to an invalid, former pianist Francis Ingram (Victor Francen). When a local con man (Robert Alda) comes to Ingram’s villa, he falls for Ingram’s nurse (Andrea King), which leads to all kinds of bizarre goings-on. The look and atmosphere of the film are all good, but it’s just too goofy for me. Lorre frequently gets praised for his performance in the film, but I think it’s average at best. I know a lot of people love this film; I wish I shared their enthusiasm.
Dunkirk (2017) Christopher Nolan
Regal Waugh Chapel Stadium12 & IMAX (1:46)
It’s not often a film lives up to the hype surrounding it. If this one doesn’t, it comes very, very close. See it while it’s in theaters.
The French Connection (1971) William Friedkin
So many people remember The French Connection only for its chase scene (as they should), forgetting that the rest of the film is a gritty, gripping, suspenseful police procedural, perhaps one of the finest ever filmed. Roger Ebert is correct in pointing out that you could think of the entire film as one long chase scene – sometimes slow, some times fast, but there’s always a chase going on. I could – and plan to – say much more about this amazing film – and its DVD/Blu-ray controversy – in a future post.
Remember (2015) Atom Egoyan
Amazon streaming (1:34)
Christopher Plummer (left, at age 85 at the time) plays Zev, a dementia patient sent on an assignment by his fellow nursing home friend Max (Martin Landau, right, 87 at the time). Both men are also survivors of Auschwitz. Max, confined to a wheelchair and on oxygen, urges Zev to avenge both their families by tracking down and killing a Nazi named Rudy Kurlander, the man responsible for murdering both their families. As much as I love the performances of Christopher Plummer, the late Martin Landau, and Jürgen Prochnow, Remember suffers from too many coincidences and suspension-of-disbelief moments to be as effective as it wants to be. But I really love watching these guys act… Wow…
Let me know if you have seen or plan to see any of these films. And let me know what you watched in July.
Photos: Critics Roundup, 2020 Movie Reviews, This Distracted Globe, Variety, NY Daily News, Rotten Tomatoes