Industrial-Sized Deals TextBTS15 Shop Men's Hightops Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Fidlar $5 Off Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Shop Popular Services hog hog hog  Amazon Echo Starting at $99 Kindle Voyage Nintendo Digital Games Gear Up for Football Deal of the Day
Profile for Anthony Hand > Reviews

Browse

Anthony Hand's Profile

Customer Reviews: 58
Top Reviewer Ranking: 822,471
Helpful Votes: 612


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Anthony Hand RSS Feed (Dublin, Ireland)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
pixel
The Whisperer in Darkness
The Whisperer in Darkness
DVD ~ Matt Foyer
Offered by hplhs
Price: $24.50
4 used & new from $20.44

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You cannot escape us..., February 1, 2013
This review is from: The Whisperer in Darkness (DVD)
H.P. Lovecraft's story from 1930, is brought to life in a fairly faithful manner, involving some of the folks from the HPLHS, who also brought to life (albeit in a silent manner) the authors most famous story, 'The Call of Cthulhu', a few years ago.

'The Whisperer in Darkness' is one of the best of Lovecraft's stories and one of the best known too and this low budget B+W effort remains close to story for the most part, but veers off around the last 3rd, mostly for dramatic purposes, according to the makers. It's a given that Lovecraft is a difficult author to put on the screen faithfully and the vast majority of efforts fail terribly. In fact the only screen efforts that have come close have been this and the aforementioned 'The Call of Cthulhu', both of which have been produced (in part anyway) by folks who "get" the author.

The short story is typical Lovecraft fare. A bookish professor (and skeptic) Albert Wilmarth, from the Miskatonic University, ventures out to the Vermont countryside to meet with a man called Henry Akeley (with whom he has been in contact with), to discuss the strange beings that Akeley says are surrounding his farmhouse. Once at the farmhouse, Wilmarth's skepticism is broken down as he discusses the situation with a sickly Henry Akeley.

For those who are unfamiliar with H.P. Lovecraft, this film will probably not be to their taste, as it's very slow moving and like a lot of Lovecraft's stories, takes a long time to burn. It's also set in the 1920's (as it should be) and that'll no doubt turn a lot of people off too. It's B+W attempt to capture a 1930's movie feel will also be another notch against it, I think.

But for people who are fans of the author, this has a lot to offer, at least for the first 2 thirds of the way. The producers have seen fit to add a 3rd act that chronicles what happens after Lovecraft's original story ends. This has its benefits and its drawbacks. On the one hand, it makes for a slightly better film experience, but on the other it takes the original story off on a tangent that could put Lovecraft readers on a negative footing.

However, considering that every book that's ever been put onto screen, since the dawn of the medium, has been altered, I'm inclined to give the producers of 'The Whisperer in Darkness' a pass. Also, their alterations are of a far less destructive nature than some. The upcoming Brad Pitt vehicle, 'World War Z', being a prime example.

'The Whisperer in Darkness' is certainly not for everyone, it's not even for every Lovecraft fan, but considering the budget that the film makers had to work with, they've produced a very commendable effort here.

3 1/2 stars
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 31, 2015 2:05 PM PDT


They Live (Collector's Edition)  [Blu-ray]
They Live (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Roddy Piper
Price: $18.85
35 used & new from $14.26

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Put on the glasses, January 31, 2013
John Carpenter had his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he came up with his satire on government control and consumerism, even going so far as to cast wrestler (and Frogtown "Hell-bringer"), Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead role as "Nada". Nada is a drifter who finds out, with the aid of a pair of special sunglasses, about a bunch of aliens that are secretly controlling humanity for their own gain. Along the way he enlists the help of the always watchable Keith David, after some knuckle persuasion, and together they try and end the aliens grip on mankind.

While there's an awful lot of Carpenter in the film, 'They Live' is really a mish-mash of a couple of other stories, 'Eight O'Clock in the Morning' by Ray Nelson and a comic book story called 'Nada'. But it was Carpenter's growing hated for rampant 80's consumerism that really fueled the film.

Piper does fine in his role and sort of suits the type of picture that 'They Live' is. His delivery is sometimes off and some of his lines are really silly, but coupled with Keith David, the pair carry off their duties well enough. Also included is Meg Foster and her weird eyes, but there's not much for her to do here and there's some of the usual Carpenter regulars, like Peter Jason ('Prince of Darkness', 'In the Mouth of Madness').

Made on a budget of $3.000.000, the effects are economical and the decision to film the "reality" viewed through Piper's special sunglasses in B+W was probably a wise one as I'd imagine that the aliens make-up wouldn't stand up to too much scrutiny.

I have to admit, for years I disliked 'They Live' intensely, but like all of John Carpenter's film it rewards subsequent viewings. It's as preposterous as it is stupid and the film, as a whole isn't very tight. But over the years, I've come to really like it and now rate it as one of my favorites from that particular director. Although, I really wish that he would get back to the brilliance of 'The Thing'. But I won't be holding my breath on that one.

Even with the negatives though, 'They Live' remains a witty, very enjoyable picture and it doesn't outstay its welcome.

3 1/2 stars


Battle Beyond the Stars (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) (30th Anniversary Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
Battle Beyond the Stars (Roger Corman's Cult Classics) (30th Anniversary Special Edition) [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Richard Thomas
Price: $18.39
23 used & new from $13.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 7 Samurai and Magnificent 7...but in space!!!, January 29, 2013
The people of the planet Akira Kurosawa are under attack from John Saxon of Balamory and his band of smelly scar-faced morons in a hammerhead shaped space ship (try saying that with a few drinks in you). They're going to use their flux capacitor, or whatever, to blast the planet into bits, for no reason, other than the fact that it's there. So, John-boy Walton sets off to find help and defend his homeworld. He enlists Hannibal (from the A-Team), some white guys, a poor chap in an uncomfortable lizard mask, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Sybil Danning's bouncing breasts. Together they battle with Mr Saxon...er...beyond the stars in a fight to the death.

It's difficult to believe that this Roger Corman produced, 'Seven Samurai' / 'Magnificent Seven' rip-off once rivaled 'Star Wars' for my affection as a child. I had such fond memories of John-boy's sassy, talking spaceship and George Peppard's "Space Cowboy" (yes...that's what his character is actually called). Those fond memories were quickly dashed upon viewing 'Battle Beyond the Stars' with adult eyes. Some things really are best consigned to the memory bin, even if they are enjoyable enough.

While it's not entirely wretched, it is a generally "bad" film, with awful editing and terrible pacing. But, it is charming and everyone seems to be having a good laugh. Some of the effects are quite decent for the time and for a budget of just $2.000.000, it's easy to see where the money went. Those said effects and Robert Vaughn / George Peppard's pockets. The model work is actually quite nice too and I understand that some of them were used in other Roger Corman B-Movie extravaganzas later on.

Further honourable mention should go to James Horner, who delivers an pleasant and befitting soundtrack and a little known chap called James Cameron, who's "special effects" career seems to have faded away. Pity, he seemed destined for greatness...

...I wonder whatever happened to him.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2013 12:12 PM PDT


Carnage
Carnage
DVD ~ Kate Winslet
Price: $12.97
41 used & new from $2.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carnage, September 17, 2012
This review is from: Carnage (DVD)
In what I presume to be an excellent adaptation of the play, Roman Polanski's 'Carnage' focuses on the parents of two boys, one of which has attacked another with a stick and caused some facial damage, including knocking out a couple of teeth.

In an effort to remain civil, the parents of the "attacker" visit the home of the "victim" in order to sort out the problem.

From the very beginning, there's a kind of 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' style tension in the room that is always threatening to expand into something much worse, despite the fact that both sets of parents are initially interested in civil discourse. As events unfold, gradually the parents attitudes change and things become more and more uncomfortable.

'Carnage', due to Polanski's excellent handling of the directorial reins, never spills over into farce, even though the story threatens to do so at times. It's kept controlled and simmering, the tension lasts the whole running time and unlike the aforementioned Elizabeth Taylor film (as great as it is), it stays somewhat within the realms of reality.

The film is also helped immensely by excellent performances by the four leads, especially from Jodie Foster who just grabs her part and goes at it with great gusto. She also has the hardest role to play.

A short film that doesn't do anything more than expected of it and well worth a view.


The Cabin In The Woods [Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy]
The Cabin In The Woods [Blu-ray + UltraViolet Digital Copy]
DVD ~ Richard Jenkins
Price: $7.88
86 used & new from $2.88

5 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tumble down shack posing as premium priced property, September 16, 2012
Joss Whedon's sarky, tongue-in-cheek, "post Modern", "meta-horror" is the latest cut-n-paste effort that has Whedonites wetting themselves in the usual frenzied way. Not only that, but it's received generally favorable reviews from other areas too and currently holds around 90% positive on Rotten Tomatoes.

I have to say, I find the former tiresome and no less obvious from the Whedonites, but the fact that other critics are writing glowing words about it, makes the latter part nothing short of astonishing. Astonishing, because 'Cabin in the Woods' is nowhere near as smart as Whedon, or his irritating acolytes, thinks it is.

Although it's directed by Whedon protege, Drew Goddard, Whedon himself has taken his cue from 'Scream' and simply nicked an existing idea, tinkered with it, claimed it as his own, packaged it for his usual audience and marketed it as a revelation in film. A comedy-horror (my most hated genre after the rom-com) that'll have horror fans quivering in their boots and change the face of the genre for years to come.

Unfortunately though, the film fails on both fronts. It isn't that funny and the horror elements are diluted badly by the attempts at comedy. Each angle is neutered by the other. But the worst thing about 'Cabin in the Woods' is that it's all been done before. The film's central reference, in a film whose raison d'etre is to function as a reference game for genre fans, is Sam Raimi's 'The Evil Dead' and that film did everything better and with better comedy (even though I personally think it's vastly overrated too).

The problem with Whedon's approach (to nearly everything he does), is that the nudge-nudge-wink-wink "did you see what I did there?" attitude that he infuses into the picture, becomes tiresome very quickly. The endless references to films, that in the main are vastly superior, just gets old. Everything from 'Friday the 13th', to 'Hellraiser', to 'IT', 'The Strangers', 'The Shining', 'Night of the Living Dead' and a whole host of others are mentioned in brief passing. Many of which will go flying over many peoples heads, I'm sure. The viewer needs to be a fan of horror films in order to get 'Cabin in the Woods', without which the film may come across as yet another silly slasher flick.

It's not all completely bad though. In the film's final third, everything goes haywire and there's some fun to be had trying to spot the different monsters that mangle the screen (and the people), but it's too little, too late and by the time the film is over, it's long since outstayed its welcome.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2012 7:08 PM PDT


Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Widescreen Edition)
Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Mark Hamill
32 used & new from $14.89

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Teddy Bears destroy Empire and almost destroy movie, October 6, 2011
1983's 'Return of the Jedi' is considered by most to be the weakest of the original trilogy. The main reason for this is obvious. It begins with an E and ends in K, with a W and an O in between. Lucas's marketing savvy kicked in early this time and he took out the original woodland creatures, the "Wookies" and replaced them with the teddy-bear-like "Ewoks" and the rest is history. The Ewoks may appeal to some people...notably mothers, very small children and the mentally challenged, but to most 'Star Wars' fans, it remains but a wonder at how much cooler "ROTJ" would have been if the Wookies had been kept in.

The Ewoks aren't the only problem 'Return of the Jedi' has. The story, again, isn't that full (once the characters are banded together, it becomes essentially a re-run of the fist film), the acting isn't terribly good (with Ford, especially, going through the motions) and the direction is a little lackluster (this time handled by Richard Marqand). But, despite these drawbacks, here is actually a lot to enjoy here. The opening "Jabba's Palace / Scarlacc" sequence, again, is fantastic and handled brilliantly. In spite of being marred somewhat by an absolutely awful and completely unnecessary musical number. Rendered even MORE unbearable by the inclusion of an "improved" musical number in the Special Edition. Thankfully, Jabba himself was left untouched and is all the better for it. The giant puppet is a thousand times more lifelike than the pathetic CGI attempt in the 'Star Wars' Special Edition and he's lost none of his disgusting fascination. Likewise, the "Arrival of the Emperor" scene is done very well too, with a thumping "Empire March" music piece from John Williams and Ian McDiarmid standing out as Darth Vader's handler. The brilliant "speeder-bike" chase sequence too is worth of note, although the effects for that are starting to show their age. The epic space battle at the end, though, is still incredible.

However, shortly after the "speeder-bikes" we get to the teddy bears and the film goes rapidly downhill from there. The problem with the Ewoks, is that it's impossible not to be cynical about them. They're a money generator and the focus of cheap emotion, "aww...the teddy's cute", "aww...the teddy's dead". Even as a child, I wanted the Empire to massacre them. Strangely enough, the word "Ewok" isn't mentioned in the entire film, but it became a household name.

In addition, the final defeat of the Empire forces at the hands of the teddy bears is absolutely absurd! It's impossible to believe, in even the realms of a fantasy universe that the Emperor's "crack troops" would succumb to a bunch of koalas. It totally takes the viewer out of the piece. Not only that, but with the Special Edition, Lucas saw fit to take out the "Nub Yub" celebration song at the end of the film and replace it with a montage of victory celebrations across multiple worlds throughout the Galaxy! This destroys the impression that the "Battle of Endor" was a significant, but local victory and turns it into a Galaxy-wide collapse of the Empire! Just because they lost their second unfinished Death Star and the First and Second in command were killed, it hardly makes sense that the whole of the Empire would disintegrate immediately afterwards.

Either way, 'Return of the Jedi' is still a very enjoyable chapter in the original 'Star Wars' trilogy and a fitting entry in its own right. But its shortcomings display, all too clearly, George Lucas's extreme limitations. Lucas may have fantastic ideas, but without a steadying hand (Gary Kurtz?), his unhindered execution of those ideas can be detrimental to the whole project. When viewing 'Return of the Jedi', in which Lucas had more direct control over than the previous two films, it becomes easy to see the oncoming train wreck that the prequels turned out to be. Perhaps the elimination of Gary Kurtz from the production crew, after he voiced his displeasure over some of Lucas's decisions, was the tipping point for George Lucas and the 'Star Wars' saga. Because, as we have seen with the prequels, George Lucas (and his appalling little sycophant Rick McCallum) have well and truly gone over to the "Dark Side".
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 6, 2012 3:19 AM PDT


Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Widescreen Edition)
Star Wars, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Mark Hamill
44 used & new from $10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luke...I am...., October 6, 2011
With no argument from the vast majority of fans, the middle section of the three acts was easily the best of the original 'Star Wars' trilogy and the best of the whole series, as far as I am concerned. 'The Empire Strikes Back' marked a departure from the "first" film, as George Lucas took his hands off of the directorial reigns and handed them over to the late Irvin Kirshner, whose only films of note before 1980 were 'Return of a Man Called Horse' and 'The Eyes of Laura Mars'. But, despite a lack of Sci-Fi / Blockbuster experience, Kirshner managed to trump Lucas's 1977 effort and turn in an absolute gem.

Set three years after the events in 'Star Wars', The 'The Empire Strikes Back' sees the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia, as the Rebels are chased through the Galaxy by Darth Vader. The action in this chapter focuses on Luke's continuing studies into the ways of the "Force", while the other major characters try to evade capture by the Empire. Like it's predecessor, it's a remarkably lightweight story, but it's division into "chapters" and Kirshner's engaging direction maintains the viewers interest until the end. The characters are all expanded too and there are some new ones introduced, like Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams), Jedi master Yoda and the insanely popular bounty hunter Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch). All in all, the acting has improved too and everything has taken a step in the right direction.

The set pieces too have been beefed up as well. The amazing battle sequence on Hoth, the ice planet on which the Rebels have been forced to hide from the Empire, rivals many a war movie for it's intense action. It's easily the best battle scene from any of the films and includes some fantastic (if somewhat unwieldy) hardware, in the form of "Imperial Walkers", whose stop frame animation can still hold its own today against the glut of CGI monstrosities. This battle sequence is worth the viewers time alone and again it's produced with a loving care and feels absolutely real, because everyone takes it seriously.

This set piece is followed later by another excellent action sequence, as we follow Han Solo's attempts to escape the clutches of Darth Vader, in which he ties up the Empire's ships in knots with some impossible manoeuvres through an asteroid field with the "Millennium Falcon".

Along the way, we get some "twists" and even though I won't say what they are here, there cannot be anyone alive with even the remotest interest in cinema that doesn't know what they are. Even so, they were crazy when people first found out in 1980!

Unfortunately, again we only have Lucas's "interfered with" version on offer here for DVD (the awful non-anamorphic transfers of the original release not withstanding) and while the messing about is limited in 'The Empire Strikes Back', it can still be somewhat annoying, simply for the fact that it exists. There are slightly expanded scenes on Hoth and the Cloud City on Bespin, which in fairness don't intrude too much. But, the bottom line is that the film didn't need it.

Unlike the terrible prequels though, we can be thankful that Lucas chose to remain focused on the production side of things and leave the direction and screenwriting to more capable hands. The contrasts are amazing. Lucas, while full of ideas, is an awful writer (especially of dialogue) and not a terribly good director either. Which can be witnessed in Episodes I - III.

Lucas's "Industrial Light and Magic" effects department pull out all the stops and deliver state of the art special effects, which were unbelievable in 1980 and still can hold it's head up high today. Ironically, The muppet version of Yoda (voiced by Miss Piggy's Frank Oz) in 'The Empire Strikes Back' remains far more convincing here than the laughable CGI version of the Prequels. Yoda's puppet creators imbue him with a more meaningful life and personality than any number of computer animators could possibly hope for and again, the world of 'Star Wars' feels more real, because sets and models are used. The actors interact with objects, helping their performance. Although, Mark Hammil bemoaned the fact that he was the only human character on set for months during the filming of the "Yoda" scenes. I wonder what he would have made of the limitations of "Green Screen" acting, that the likes of Ewan McGregor had to endure for the prequels!

Although it ended up costing double the $10 million that 'Star Wars' cost and was initially released to mixed reviews largely because the story was unresolved, 'The Empire Strikes Back' went on to be another huge money-spinner for Lucas and 20th Century Fox and later on became recognised as the best entry in the series.


Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (Widescreen Edition)
Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope (Widescreen Edition)
DVD ~ Mark Hamill
51 used & new from $13.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Long Time Ago..., October 6, 2011
Unfortunately, we still haven't got the original 1977 cinema version on DVD or Blu-Ray yet (except for the insulting non-anamorphic transfers of recent times) so this review is of the "bastardised" 2000's version. Albeit, with an improved (but still pointless) "Jabba" sequence, but it's still a pale viewing experience, when compared with the more streamlined original. Like 'Jaws' from 1975, 'Star Wars' represents the kicking off of the Summer blockbuster that has, unfortunately, diseased Hollywood for decades. However, in 1977, it was a truly spectacular event and such "event" movies were unheard of. 'Star Wars' was so successful, it made bucket-loads of money and knocked 'Jaws' off of it's "top earner" spot. It made a star out of carpenter Harrison Ford, household names out of the three leads, a multi-millionaire out of George Lucas and enabled one of the greatest trilogies ever to grace the screen.

It's funny to think now, but 'Star Wars' was very nearly a non-starter. Nobody was willing to pick it up, until 20th Century Fox took a huge gamble and threw a modest amount of money at Lucas and expected him to turn in a low budget, but respectable sci-fi flick. Little did they know that they were going to get the biggest cinema extravaganza that the movies ever produced. The studio would certainly not have figured that out from reading the script, which was a mish mash of nonsense depicting a princess in distress and a farm-boy who runs off with a wizard and a scoundrel to rescue her. The story was simple enough and rather hokey, but the vision that Lucas (and the many others involved) had, would elaborate on the paltry story and enable the viewer to buy into it. Such care was put into the visuals, that the story became believable within the realms of the world that was created, because the world that was created was filled with objects that looked used. They looked functional and operational. Gone was the sparkly "disco" Sci-Fi of 'Logan's Run' or the semi-future (but recognisably 70's) visions of the likes of 'Soylent Green'. Here we had a brand new world, something from "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." It was just never done before and it carried off a generation of imaginations and made obsessive's out of millions of 70's kids. In fact, so lovingly created was the world of 'Star Wars', it still stands up today, nearly 34 years later and even surpasses the more "modern" prequels, simply because the world was made up of sets, models and other tangible items, rather than...er...nothing.

'Star Wars' is far from perfect though. Often, the acting is weak, the story confusing (to some people) and the editing is so fast paced, that it can leave some people behind. But it never fails to entertain. And, in this form (the director's cut as it were), it has some appallingly bad inserts, including the aforementioned "Jabba sequence". Most of the "improvements" Lucas decided to put into 'Star Wars' helped to some degree. The computer aided clean-up of the picture was a good idea, as was upping the number of spacecraft on the screen in certain scenes. But, having silly edits like "Greedo" firing first and "Jabba" meeting with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) were so inept, it made me realise that the constraints that Lucas had imposed on him, both financially and time-wise, for the original 70's production were a good thing as it forced him to rethink his ideas, instead of simply going with them. The "Greedo" thing is absolutely laughable and has been the subject of many a "Han fired first" internet outrages since it first spoiled our memories in the 90's re-release. It actually nulls Han Solo's personality to a great degree. It takes his edge off and Lucas's explanation for the change was pathetic to say the least. In short, he didn't want to present a hero of his films firing without provocation. Considering Greedo was threatening to blow him away, Solo was well within his right. Not to mention "Greedo" manages to miss Solo from just 2 metres away, the whole scene ends up just looking stupid. Likewise, after Solo whacks Greedo, he meets up with Jabba the Hutt in a sequence that has always bothered Lucas as he simply didn't have the money or time to film the scene in the 70's. What a pity that changed, as the resulting insert ends up being so stupid and inept, that it could nearly ruin the entire film. It's a completely unnecessary inclusion and not only that, much of the dialogue from the Greedo scene several minutes earlier is repeated! Unfortunately, these interferences were not limited to 'Star Wars'. Lucas couldn't resist messing with 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' too. The former got away with light changes, but the latter was destroyed in a similar way to 'Star Wars'.

Hopefully, we will get the original versions released on DVD, complete with cleanups and anamorphic presentations and fans can forget the "Lucas" versions. But, many fans feel that the 'Star Wars' saga has been wrecked, irreparably, by Lucas's misguided decisions to "fix" the original trilogy and produce the absolutely awful prequels, not to mention the glut of subpar cartoons, comics and books that have saturated the once excellent universe that carried away so many kids in the 70's and 80's.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2011 10:37 AM PDT


American Graffiti (Collector's Edition)
American Graffiti (Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Ron Howard
36 used & new from $2.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Graffiti American style, October 6, 2011
George Lucas's harking back to the days of his own youthful years in small town America remains a fascinating look at "cruising" and the American teen "Rock'n'Roll" lifestyles of the late 50's/early 60's. Set in the 1960's, 'American Graffiti' is as much about the end of the 50's as it is about the end of the teenagers school days and their excitement, trepidation and anticipation of the immediate future that awaits them.

Set over the course of a single night, the story focuses on four boys, each of whom was supposed to represent Lucas at different stages in the teen years. Curt (Richard Dreyfuss), Steve (Ron Howard), John (Paul Le Mat) and Terry (Charles Martin Smith) are all friends in the small town of Modesto, California (where Lucas grew up), whose individual stories intertwine throughout the film. Curt is in a dilemma about whether he should or shouldn't head off to college in the morning, Steve is more interested in getting his leg over his girlfriend Laurie (Cindy Williams) before he goes off to college too, John is facing the fact the he his getting a little too old for his "hotrod king" image and spends the night accidentally cruising around town with a 12 year old teenybopper passenger and Terry, "The Toad", who has always been unlucky with girls finds that he is in for a night of changes too.

The story, like all of Lucas's stories, is very simple. But, it's handled with great care and allows the viewer (even those who have never experienced 50's America, like me) to become engrossed in the accounts of the young men and how they deal with the evening's events. Because the story doesn't include silly 50's movies cliches, it becomes easier to believe that these people are real people and not some characters in a cheap 'Rebel without a cause' knockoff. It's also helped by the fact that 50's vehicles and buildings are included in the film too. The Diner where the kids meet was re-opened just for the film (and demolished after it wrapped) and the charming 50's cars on offer make all the difference. Shot in 1972, it must have been odd for the locals of the town where the film was shot (Petaluma) to see all these 50's relics rolling up and down the strip, where some of them had 20 years before.

'American Graffiti' was a sleeper hit in 1973 when it was released, despite the fact that Lucas had incredible trouble trying to get funding for his film from several different studios. Universal actually wanted to release it as a TV move only. This would have proven to have been a huge mistake as the film went on to be one of the highest gross's ever, in terms of cost to profit. At a cost of about $1½ million to make and market, `American Graffiti' went on to make over $200 million, with theatrical and video releases.

Unfortunately, it was also responsible for kick starting the truly awful 'Happy days', which marred television with unfunny comedy for the next 10 years.


The Third Man (The Criterion Collection)
The Third Man (The Criterion Collection)
DVD ~ Orson Welles
11 used & new from $70.89

7 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Third Man, October 6, 2011
Carol Reed's famous and frankly, hideously over-rated, classic from 1949 stars Joseph Cotten as Holly Martins, an American two bit Western novelist, who has gone to war torn Vienna to find his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles) as he has offered him the chance of some work. Unfortunately, Martins finds out that Lime has been killed in a hit and run. Through asking around and the inquires of the British occupying forces' Military Police, Martins finds out more than he wishes to, about his dead friend.

There's much to like about 'The Third Man', but for the life of me, I'm at a loss to understand why it's considered so highly as it is. There's not an awful lot going on in it, to be honest. It's depiction of post-war Vienna is quite well done, but because it was shot in Vienna in 1948, that wouldn't be very hard, would it? The cast is well formed and everyone does their best, but the story isn't that engaging. The "twist" is seen from a mile off, even for contemporary audiences and once that reveal is delivered, the picture sort of drones on.

Speaking of "droning on", the much celebrated music that accompanies the film VERY QUICKLY gets terribly irritating. Produced on a zither only, it has great touches in certain places, but intrudes awfully in others.

On the plus side, it's quite well shot and directed with a realistic touch that sets it aside from a lot of films from that period and although the rumor that Welles had more to do with the direction than Reed did is false, Reed was certainly a "student" of Welles's technique. There is also some great dialogue in the film, including the "cookoo clock" monologue and Trevor Howard has some great "irritated" moments concerning his sir name, "It's Calloway (not Callahan)...I'm English, not Irish."

Often hailed as a "Masterpiece" of cinema, I must confess, I am often left wondering why.
Comment Comments (11) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 12, 2013 4:13 PM PST


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6