James has written 6 reviews for films rated ★★★ during 2020.

  • The African Queen

    The African Queen

    ★★★

    Minor Huston for sure. I was excited to see my man Robert Morley again after seeing Beat The Devil so recently, then they kill him off at the very beginning. No matter, I didn't care for his wack-ass Christian missionary character anyway.

    Bogart is def charming and Cardiff's cinematography is competent but not top-tier. Most of the action sequences here are really underwhelming and resolve themselves almost without any real conflict. They float this goddamn steamboat off a roaring waterfall…

  • The Boy Friend

    The Boy Friend

    ★★★

    Museum of Art & Design, 35mm

    Ken is firing on all his maximalist cylinders here in a production that might feel more that it’s about to fly off the tracks than any of his other films I’ve seen, which is saying QUITE a lot. Throwing in everything but the kitchen sink here doesn’t really serve this one particularly well, as it’s such a flight of fancy - indulging every aspect of Russel’s 1920’s fetishism that he can muster - that there’s…

  • Ride a Wild Pony

    Ride a Wild Pony

    ★★★

    Had hoped for a little more from this Cardiff-shot children’s film from the 70’s, but there wasn’t much here that stuck with me. The story plods along a bit too deliberately to hold my attention, so I wonder how it would have played to juvenile me. It’s not bad though - every once in a while a scene is punctuated by classicly Carfiffian lighting that snapped me back to attention, and I suppose this technically also lies in that nexus of early Australian film production that I love. I might like this more on a rewatch.

  • Merrily We Go to Hell

    Merrily We Go to Hell

    ★★★

    Does not quite live up to its irresistible title, but is a serviceable enough 30's romance picture. Disappointing in that it never indulges it's most interesting aspects, particularly when Jerry and Joan try their hand at an open marriage. So interesting how Joan speaks so earnestly about being open to a "modern" arrangement...90 years later most of society would still find their experiment fairly impudent.

    This was my first Azner - nothing groundbreaking, but enough to make me curious about DANCE GIRL, DANCE or CRAIG'S WIFE.

  • The Hard Part Begins

    The Hard Part Begins

    ★★★

    Ostensibly not a good movie, but has enough merits to give it a sort of threadbare charm. Despite flat dialogue and two-bit production value, this losers tale of hopeless country musicians making their way through rural highways and one-horse towns has a sort of ring of legitimacy to it. I say “sort of” because although the parade of shitty town squares and desolate country miles seemed believably southern to this Tennessee boy, the whole thing was shot in Canada.
    Was also amused by the movie’s unseen antagonist - the rising popularity of “rock music” that the characters openly distain as the cause of their woes.

  • Mystery of the Wax Museum