Bloodsport (1988)

No Bruce Lee Bruce Lee invented a genre; Jackie Chan invented a genre; Sly Stallone invented a minigenre, all with various approaches to personal combat. But these guys deeply understood how film works so they could tap the relevant pressure points. Van Damme did not invent a genre here, despite the best efforts of his… Continue reading Bloodsport (1988)

Juwanna Mann (2002)

Tootsie Got Game One of the most disturbing trends in film is how we have started manufacturing “special audience” films. They used to have their own lives, their own autheticity. Here we have a mindless copy: “Tootsie” plays basketball. This goes beyond dumb and stereotypical — both of which are tolerable in movieworld — into… Continue reading Juwanna Mann (2002)

Joan of Arc (1948)

Burned Alive I wonder if there is anyone who can view this film with any sort of fondness today. Everything about it is false, with no element one can point to for relief. Yes it has Ingrid, but as wooden as a pike. Yes it has a powerhouse story, but rendered here lifeless. Even the… Continue reading Joan of Arc (1948)

The Jazz Singer (1980)

No Jazz I like to see remakes, because in many cases you experience two films at once: the film you are watching of course, and the one you recall. Usually that prior one is pretty good. In this case, it IS pretty good, and historically important too. It was the first popular talkie, and not… Continue reading The Jazz Singer (1980)

By Any Means Necessary: The Making of ‘Jason X’ (2002)

Cronenberg Chronicles This little feature was made to promote the movie and is included on the DVD. It shows a real problem in filmmaking. The actual movie was dumb, made for dummies. The dynamics behind how it was designed and to some extent executed is a matter of high sophistication. “Making of” films are intended… Continue reading By Any Means Necessary: The Making of ‘Jason X’ (2002)

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Basement Steps When a film plays with the narrator’s credulity, and if it is essentially cinematic then I am predisposed to like it. This film has the additional benefit of some competent actors. Plus, we all like to dump on government lying during the Nixon era. I think this is a waste of time in… Continue reading Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

Surprised I’m trying to find where film audiences started to accept the mystery as merely a surprise ending. You know that the successful mysteries for many decades were “detective stories” that had very clear rules about how the viewer could outwit the writer and guess, actually determine the reality of what happened. It was something… Continue reading The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

42nd Street (1933)

In and Out I am convinced that you cannot really understand yourself unless you understand (among other influences) the movies out of which you make the movie of your life. And you cannot understand the stuff of movies unless you’ve experienced those that invented the form, many of which were in the early 30’s. This… Continue reading 42nd Street (1933)

Jud Suss (1940)

Slippery Everyone should view a few of the Nazi propaganda films before they die. Nazis were not the ones who committed the atrocities, rather it was the mass of Germans. Whether they were manipulated or what we see as manipulative devices (like this film) is a matter for learned speculation. But there is no denying… Continue reading Jud Suss (1940)

Jubilee (1978)

The Deep, Vacuous Meditations of Angels Feeding Dogs I’m amazed that anyone would think this is similar to “Clockwork Orange.” Kubrick’s world was one of too much sense: strong minds of people and institutions creating realities that compete, even clash with each other. His worlds are reasonable — all of them — and at least… Continue reading Jubilee (1978)