If you have finished watching the film Anatomy of a Murder (1959) and are looking for other movies like it, here is a list of options to consider.
Whenever a crowd pleasing movie hits theaters or streaming, people lament, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Often, these people refer to middle-of-the-road movies from the 80s and 90s, the type of film that would play on cable television in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, something that people watch over and over again, simply because it makes them feel lighter. The Burial, the new courtroom drama from writer/director Maggie Betts, falls firmly into this category. It’s dad-fare, set in 1995 when it also likely would’ve had mainstream success in popular culture. Continue Reading →
Rules of Engagement
Even William Friedkin's most loyal fans would admit the Nineties were not a particularly fertile artistic period for him. That decade saw him putting out the laughable horror film The Guardian (1990), the eventual release of his long-on-the-shelf and heavily recut 1987 death penalty drama Rampage (1992), the tepid sports drama Blue Chips (1994), and the resoundingly unnecessary (save for a nifty car chase) Jade (1995). On the small screen, he helmed two made-for-cable remakes, the Roger Corman production Jailbreakers (1994) with Shannen Doherty, Antonio Sabato Jr., and Adrien Brody, and 12 Angry Men (1997) with a powerhouse cast that included Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott, Ossie Davis, James Gandolfini and, perhaps inevitably, Tony Danza. Continue Reading →
After the aggressively negative critic and audience response to 1980’s Cruising, William Friedkin took a curious “hell with it, I’m going to do whatever I want” approach to projects. None of what he directed over the next decade, save for To Live and Die in L.A., came close to receiving the kind of acclaim his early 70s career did. If anything, it seemed as though he had given up his precise, occasionally unreasonable eye for perfection in favor of churning out the most generic cable-friendly nonsense possible. Continue Reading →
Love at First Sight
As an avid consumer of romance—be it in book, film, or television format—you learn to level expectations when a beloved story is adapted. That’s particularly the case amongst the recent spate of mid-to-low budget adaptations across the gamut of streaming services. Usually, the best-case scenario is they’re mildly enjoyable but ultimately forgettable. For example, there’s Prime Video’s recent adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue. More often than not, they’re absolutely dreadful. The less said about Netflix’s take on Austen’s Persuasion, the better. What is true, though, is that they’re very seldom genuinely good. Continue Reading →
Something Wicked This Way Comes
In the wake of the death of its founder and namesake, the Walt Disney Company found itself in a bit of a tailspin in the late 60s and 70s. They were unwilling to stray too far away from being purveyors of family entertainment but failed to recognize shifting audience tastes. For about a decade after Disney’s passing, the studio’s cinematic output consisted of regular reissues of their animated classics and decidedly juvenile live-action offerings. New animated films were few and far between due to spiraling costs. Their live-action films were lousy with place-kicking mules, hirsute district attorneys, and the further adventures of Herbie the Love Bug. Herbie proved their last significant box-office hit when it (he?) debuted in 1969. Continue Reading →
We Need to Do Something
Sean King O'Grady directs a claustrophobic horror film that has a lot of potential, but just misses the mark.
We Need to Do Something, the debut feature from Sean King O’Grady, is a horror film that can easily be read on two different levels, though your mileage with it will vary depending on which one you choose to follow. As a straightforward horror yarn, albeit with moments of grotesque black humor thrown in from time to time, it contains a few interesting elements but never finds a way to pull them together into a completely satisfying whole. On the other hand, if one regards the whole enterprise on a more overtly symbolic level, it gains a little more in terms of power and effectiveness.
Yet, even then it also tends to lose its way especially once the fairly potent central metaphor gives way to less interesting instances of bloodshed. In either case, it ends on such a clunky and ineffective note that viewers may get the sense that O’Grady and screenwriter Max Booth III have just been screwing with them, a feeling enhanced by the all-too-apt choice for a key musical cue towards the end. Continue Reading →