Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Bliss of Mrs. Blossom (1968)


Paramount Pictures
Directed by Joseph McGrath
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

Shirley MacLaine is the bored housewife of bra factory owner Richard Attenborough. When her sewing machine breaks down, he sends repairman James Booth from the factory. She resists his  initial flirtations, but eventually succumbs and they begin a torrid love affair. Instead of leaving the house, she stashes him away in their spacious attic. Weeks, months and years pass and he is still living there, having transformed the attic into a luxury apartment by using do-it-yourself books. Meanwhile, her husband is going crazy from all of the noise, which MacLaine pretends not to hear. Her lover begins to pass stock tips along to her husband, which pay off and makes him a millionaire. When discovered, he not only allows him to keep living there, but gives him the bra factory! British sex comedy is punctuated by colorful psychedelic scenes between MacLaine and Booth in which they live out their fantasies in elaborate costumes. It's all very dated and very British, but can be fun if you are in the right mood.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Me and My Brother (1969)


New Yorker Films
Directed by Robert Frank
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

A poet takes takes care of his schizophrenic brother after getting him released from a mental hospital. They travel with beat poet Alan Ginsberg to Kansas and then hang out in New York City. Free-form independent feature examines the nature of reality via mental illness and poetry. Christopher Walken appears as a director and Roscoe Lee Browne as a photographer. It's all terribly dated and quite precocious, but there are still some moments of insight amid the randomness.

The Midnight Man (1974)


Universal Pictures
Directed by Roland Kibbee and Burt Lancaster
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

Disgraced policeman Burt Lancaster takes a job as a night security guard at a small college while on parole. He becomes the suspect in a murder of a coed (Catherine  Bach in her film debut) and has to investigate to clear himself. His old detective skills from the big city are put to good use, and he is always a step ahead of the local police. Clues eventually lead him to conclude that his friends, both old and new, may not be what they seem. Long, convoluted cop drama, badly dated by dialogue and music, a real curiosity in the Lancaster catalog.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Kiki's Delivery Service (1989)


Toei Company
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(DVD, Walt Disney)

A 13-year-old witch leaves home for a year to complete her training. She flies by broomstick, with her pet/familiar spirit black cat, in search of city she can call her own. She ends up in provincial town where she finds a friendly baker who offers her a job and a place to stay. She makes no attempt to hide her powers, and starts up her own business making deliveries on her broomstick. Meanwhile, she is pursued by a nerdy aviation enthusiast, whom she initially dislikes but gradually warms up to. Her deliveries take her on various adventures, including the cabin of a free-spirited artist. Later, she begins to lose her powers, but the artist tells her to look inside herself. When her aviation suitor is caught up in a disaster involving a dirigible, she must find her powers to save him. Another cute Miyazaki film inexplicably heralded as a masterpiece, I found it episodic, simplistic and completely predictable, even the animation is only so-so.

She Was Like a Wild Chrysanthemum (1955)


Shochiku
Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

An elderly man recalls a teenage romance with a cousin while traveling by boat to the place where it took place. In long flashbacks, the idealistic, naive love affair between the slightly younger boy of 15 with his inexperienced cousin of 17 draws the ire of both families, who try to prevent it. He is sent off to school but can't shake her, returning on a winter break to continue it. Meanwhile, her parents set her up with the son of a wealthy lumber mill owner, which she reluctantly is forced to accept. She gets pregnant but loses the baby, then becomes ill herself. The teenage boy returns just in time for a final goodbye on her deathbed. Naturalistic and sentimental to a fault, Kinoshita decides to utilize an oval white masking device over the frame for the flashbacks (most of the film), which obscures some fine cinematography by Hiroshi Kusuda.

A Name for Evil (1973)


Cinerama Releasing
Directed by Bernard Girard
My rating: BOMB
IMDb Wikipedia

Robert Culp walks out of his architecture job and moves into a dilapidated house on a lake with his wife, Samantha Eggar. They are having marital problems and she tries to talk him out of the venture. He prevails and hires some locals to start fixing up the place. However, he soon starts to hear voices telling him to leave, and worse yet thinks his wife is having an affair, although she denies everything. One night he sees a white horse and rides off into the woods on it, ending up at church/hippie commune. Soon everyone is taking their clothes off and he ends up making love to a pretty young girl. He returns home, not sure it really happened, but goes off the next night and finds the girl again for more naked shenanigans in the woods. His wife confronts him at home, but he freaks out (in slow motion), not sure what is real and what is only in his mind. Dreadful flick in which we see too much (way too much) of Culp and not enough of Eggar.

Newman's Law (1974)


Universal Pictures
Directed by Richard T. Heffron
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

Straight-shooting, middle aged cop George Peppard stumbles upon a major drug ring during a routine bust at a house. He wounds a fleeing suspect in the leg, but he inexplicably dies of a head wound at the hospital. Peppard gets suspended after drugs are planted at his apartment. He decides to clear himself by investigating on his own. The trail leads to the mafia and, much to his surprise, his own police department. Solid 70s cop flick set on the streets of L.A., though it does have that made-for-television feel to it.

7 Women (1966)


MGM
Directed by John Ford
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

A rural missionary in China is run almost entirely by women, who desperately await the arrival of a new doctor. It turns out to be whiskey drinking, cigarette smoking, pants wearing Anne Bancroft, who threatens to disrupt the entire operation with her morally offensive lifestyle! Only the young Sue Lyon manages to befriend her, and she idolizes rather than despises her. Meanwhile, Chinese barbarians are knocking on the door, lead by one Tunga Khan. His hordes bursts through the gates and kills everyone except the white women, whom he locks up in a shed. One of them is pregnant and about to give birth, so Bancroft makes a deal with Tunga Khan for the needed medical supplies. The other women are appalled, but don't complain when they get released. Bancroft is left on her own to plot her escape, or something else! Turgid melodrama brought John Ford's illustrious career to a sad end.

Hauser's Memory (1970)


Universal Pictures
Directed by Boris Sagal
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia

A young scientist injects himself with the RNA of a dead spy who knows government secrets, saving his older mentor from the ordeal. He proceeds to gradually reclaim the memories of the man, and eventually adopts his personality. He turns out to have worked for the Nazis and the Russians, and to have been tortured by both, so sets off to Europe to settle some old scores. Interesting sci-fi angle (if totally implausible) turns into a boring Nazi revenge story somewhere along the way. Good cast, mostly wasted.

Pufnstuf (1970)


Universal Pictures
Directed by Hollingsworth Morse
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(DVD, Universal)

Jack Wild is a bullied kid who finds himself on a boat sailing for Living Island, where everything is alive, including the trees. He takes along his flute, which comes alive and talks on the island, but is desired by the resident evil witch, Wilhemina W. Witchiepoo (played completely over-the-top by an enthusiastic Billie Hayes), who will stop at nothing to get it. An upcoming witches convention to be held at her castle provides extra incentive, and she succeeds in getting the flute. Wild and his Living Island friends including mayor Pufnstuf set out to get it back. Cass Elliot is another witch who sings a few songs but is mostly wasted in the role. Plays like an extended episode of the cult TV kids show, and Pufnstuf is voiced by another actor just different enough to be annoying.