It Came from the ’50s: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues

American International Pictures specialized in crap, but even for AIP, this is a bad one. The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues is among the most tedious, least interesting films I’ve ever seen. It’s a monster flick that has more dialogue than a Merchant Ivory costume drama, and all of it is inane. There’s even a spy angle that does little more than stretch out the running time and subject us to more talking. And the monster? It’s a rubber suit, but it could just as well have been a statue for all the trouble Norma Hanson, who was in the suit, had moving around. Phantom is a direct challenge to a viewer’s attention span. If there is a smartphone within reach, I defy any viewer to watch this flick without picking it up. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues”

Empty Balcony: Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde is an aggressive title for a movie. By that, I mean it’s the type of title that can make a viewer immediately prejudge a film. I’m guilty of that. My expectations going into this film were that, at best, it would be a mildly entertaining, yet brainless, action flick. I was hoping for a shitty film, but was prepared for a just a plain old bad one. But, just as one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the same applies to film titles. Continue readingEmpty Balcony: Atomic Blonde”

Shitty Movie Sundays: xXx

Finally, a film for the energy drink generation.

What a putrid mess. In truth, the only reason I watched xXx at all is because I noticed that there were no films under ‘X’ in the Empty Balcony database. Every other letter in the English alphabet is represented, but in the many years I’ve been pounding out these reviews I’ve never once reviewed a film whose title began with the letter X. Now that I’ve seen xXx, I never have to watch it again. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: xXx”

Schwarzenegger Month: True Lies

A quick sampling of the directorial career of James Cameron is in order. In 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. In 1994, True Lies was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. In 1997, Titanic was released. It was the most expensive film ever made at that time. Two other films he directed, The Abyss and Avatar, were both wildly expensive, massive productions for their times. I’m sensing a pattern here. Put simply, James Cameron spares no expense. Continue readingSchwarzenegger Month: True Lies”

The Empty Balcony: Burn After Reading

Watching a Coen Brothers movie is sometimes like attending a blind tasting. There won’t be any swill waved under one’s nose, but just what is in the glass could be surprising, or disappointing.

Burn After Reading, the Coen brothers followup to their best picture winner, No Country for Old Men, has a very serious plot. A former CIA analyst named Osbourne Cox, played by John Malkovich, is writing a memoir of his days with the company. His wife, Katie (Tilda Swinton), is secretly pursuing a divorce, and makes a copy onto disc of files from his computer, including the memoir and some classified materials. A secretary at her lawyer’s firm loses the disc at a gym, where it is found and comes into the possession of Chad (Brad Pitt), a personal trainer. Chad enlists his colleague, Linda (Frances McDormand), in a scheme to extort money from Osbourne in exchange for the disc. Meanwhile, Katie is having an affair with Harry (George Clooney), a Treasury agent who, coincidentally, meets Linda through an online dating service. It’s complicated, and only gets more so when plans crisscross and things inevitably go awry. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Burn After Reading”