THE AMERICAN SIDE

Tell me of a lost, secret, world-changing technology hidden within mystery inside an enigma wrapped in a riddle at the center of a vast, murderous conspiracy and I’m there. Adding the name Tesla is just icing on the cake. Written by and starring Greg Stuhr (I’ve never heard of him either), it involves a sleazy PI and (you guessed it) a beautiful mystery woman who gets him involved in the conspiracy. A poorly crafted screenplay and a poor choice to play the PI who needs more than Stuhr brings to the role to carry the film. Still, it managed to engage me despite the coincidences and improbabilities. (You might not be so lucky.) The script could have cut the foot chases and spent more time tightening the plot.

THE VAST OF NIGHT

I love this kind of film. It’s a microbudget sci-fi period piece (1958 New Mexico) that breaks no new ground but the dialog and acting and camera work are topnotch. Echoes of “Twilight Zone” and Pontypool abound but not to its detriment. Not to everyone’s taste, I’m sure, but I found this a pure pleasure to watch, to sit back and drink it in. On Prime Video. Do not miss.

UNCUT GEMS

A very unpleasant film about some very unpleasant people. Yeah, maybe Adam Sandler was effective playing against type, but I watch the closing credits asking why did I watch this? Psychopath vs psychopath. Which is okay if there’s some sense of style or humor or irony. I like noir – a lot – but I didn’t like this.

NOTORIOUS (1946)

I can’t believe it took me so long to see this. All the rear projection looks hokey to the modern eye, and Ben Hecht’s script is a bit preposterous, but the cast (Grant, Bergman, Rains) carries it off with aplomb and the lighting and camera angles are jaw-dropping. Hitch was really hitting his stride here.

JAMAICA INN (1939)

Hitch’s last film before leaving for the States. This costume thriller takes place on the Cornish coast, with a porcine Charles Laughton, a beautiful Maureen O’Hara, and Robert Newton, the guy who a decade later would totally own Long John Silver in Disney’s Treasure Island. Not a fave, though. Never came together for me.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019)

I rented this because, really, it couldn’t be as bad as they say, right? And if it is, I should see it because I liked the 2000 version and, why not? Well, it’s not good, but it’s better than Cats. The script is credited solely to Elizabeth banks (her first and only) and goes heavy on the wokeness. This is the first time I’ve ever seen Kristen Stewart. I’ve heard terrible things about her acting but I thought she was pretty good. Definitely seemed to be enjoying herself, despite having to mouth horrible dialogue. Side note: She must be amazingly strong because she can’t weight more than 98 pounds, yet she manages to toss these 200+-pound thugs all over the set. Wow.

CATS

I rented this because, really, it couldn’t be as bad as they say, right? And if it is, I should see it because, well, I like bad movies. I remember seeing the play on Broadway when it opened and found it dull and dumb. The film is duller and dumber – way dumber — and kinda creepy. I lasted 10, maybe 15 minutes. Which earns it a very high FF rating.