Saturday, May 18, 2013
Made in 1933, THE MIND READER is one of the last Pre-Code films and although it's extremely tame today's standards it's pretty easy to see how this film could have irked the morality police. The entire mood of the film is dismissive towards the public in general; one of the main ways the psychic makes money is from talking about cheating husbands; a carnival worker discusses the negative part about messing with girls on the road by saying “The minute they get in court, they’re all 16 and under!” and then when one guy is sent to prison he says “It sure must be tough to be going away just when beer’s coming back!”; one girl is upset that the psychics advise ruined her marriage so she opens an elevator shaft door and jumps to her death! Wow.
For those interested in films from this era THE MIND READER is a lot of fun and it still feels kinda modern in a weird way. Strong performances, daring script, the underrated Allen Jenkins, quick pace, Mayo Methot before she married Humphrey Bogart. Recommended.
Coming from the director of STARSHIP TROOPERS and ROBOCOP I was hoping that Verhoeven would have a fresh and unique vision of the invisibility story, but no, HOLLOW MAN is just you're standard stuff and by the end it's pretty much a weak slasher film with Bacon stalking people around the science lab.
Impressive special effects (for the time), Elisabeth Shue with short hair, Twinkies, Bacon listening to horrible music, that one chick from "Nip/Tuck" topless, messy science, silly story that gets sillier as it goes along, average pace. Worth a watch if you're really bored, but overall it's pretty forgettable.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
For being made in 1928 WEST OF ZANZIBAR is pretty grim, especially the revenge on the child aspect. When it was first mentioned I almost thought it was gonna go an OLDBOY way, but it ended up going the MANON OF THE SPRING direction instead. If you are interested in silent cinema then you should definitely check it out. It's not the greatest silent ever (or even in the Top 100), the pace is kinda slow and even though the mood is dark (and this was Pre-Code), really nothing too unacceptable happens onscreen, but it's still an enjoyable film and watching Chaney's sneering while he's dragging his legs around the joint is worth the price of admission alone. The biggest problem I had with the film was believing that Lionel Barrymore could be evil. He's made such a powerful impression in my mind with his performances in films like GRAND HOTEL and YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH YOU that it's really difficult to take him seriously as the bad guy.