All the faults of the Ellroy novel (and I’m an Ellroy fan despite his excesses and eccentricities) are magnified in the film.  None of the relationships worked for me here, although the intricate storyline (with definite Chinatown overtones and a Kiss Me Deadly ending) has its moments.  I would have FF’d more, but I love Philip Marlowe-era LA and it was lovingly depicted here.  A gorgeous film and as noir as they come.



For those who don’t know, the title here refers to the original (now iconic) Hollywood hills sign.  (The “LAND” fell over and was never resurrected.)  The story of George Reeves, the original TV Superman so beloved by the early waves of Boomers.  The guy became so identified with the character that he couldn’t get a job after the show folded.  He finally blew his head off.  The film involves a fictional PI hired by Reeves’s mother who thinks he was murdered.  It doesn’t work.  And 50’s LA is not captured anywhere near as well as in Black Dahlia.  But like that film, nothing seems to click.



I know, I know.  What made me rent this (besides Uma Thurman)?  Well, even Uma couldn’t save it.  It’s a dumb, predictable, barely diverting bit of fluff.  It’s FF score is low solely because I don’t FF when Uma’s on screen.



I rented this to compare the two Trumans: Philip Seymour Hoffman (from Capote) and Toby Jones here.  Jones wins by a mile.  He must have channeled Capote.  It was uncanny and a bit unnerving.  This molasses-paced film didn’t hide Capote’s deceitful and manipulative nature, and his utter self-absorption (as when he hopes the killers get a death sentence rather than life, because their deaths will mean he can end his book with “a period.”)



Despite its lapses in logic and incidences of idiocy (that’s where a character has to do something idiotic to keep things going), I had a good time with this. Great visuals. Along the way I felt I’d like to know more about the vampires, but in the end it wasn’t necessary. It engaged me from beginning to end.



Another strange one. A combination monster movie cum family drama with some humor. The humor didn’t work for me, but some of the family stuff did – some nice character arcs. Pretty neat monster. I liked the way things became personal and especially liked the way the film keeps you off balance by killing off sympathetic characters when you least expect. I got impatient with some of the family stuff, so that’s when I FF’d. But I recommend it for a different take on the giant monster genre (almost antipodal from Cloverfield).


Watched this again after many years and enjoyed it even more the second time – perhaps because I was paying extra attention to the excellent dialog (screenplay by David Kelley of “Ally McBeal” and “The Practice”). Great cast but Oliver Platt manages to steal the film despite Betty White upstaging almost everyone else.


Dumb.  Really, really, really dumb.  (Yeah, I know, what did I expect with a video game as the source of the story?)  A secret cult of assassins wandering the globe and hiring out to kill folks.  Okay so far.  But they all wear black suits and have a bar code tattooed onto the occipital scalp of their shaven heads.  Yes!  Shaved!  Leaving the bar code for all to see.  WTF?  Our hitman is being chased, there’s an APB out on him, but he walks through train stations and airports – everywhere – flashing his barcode for all to see.  Wouldn’t you think that someone, somewhere would notice?  But noooooo.  You know what, though?  It was well paced and the Russian settings were eye catching.  Once I suspended my disbelief in the bar code, and stopped trying to make sense of the plot, I was engaged.



I loved this film.  It’s big-budget Hollywood film making at its best – script, cast, direction, production, all top notch.  Put Tom Hanks with Philip Seymour Hoffman and it’s hard to go wrong.  Amy Adams was a standout too, as was the dialogue.  (Well, of course.  Look who wrote it: Aaron Sorkin.) What I didn’t like was the knowledge (Monday-morning quarterbacking, I know) that these embattled mujahideen we were helping would later be part of al Qaeda.