Part Five of ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’

And now for the moment you’ve all been begging waiting for! The big finish of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die! 🙂

Posted in B-Movies, Horror, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Science Fiction, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘Croupier’ (1999)

This is the kind of movie that should be seen twice to fully appreciate it. It’s also the kind of film that’s hard to review without revealing …

Spoilers! 🙂

The lady you see above is in it, which is giving nothing away. But I’m getting ahead of myself …

Visa Disc Dish

The movie starts with the title character, Jack Manfred (played in super-suave manner by Clive Owen), manning the roulette wheel and talking in voiceover.

From there, we flash back to his days as an aspiring author (with blond hair).

Via You’ve Missed a Lot

Jack has daddy issues and a bad case of ennui when it comes to dealing with the publishing industry. Plus he seems to suffer from writers block.

At his father’s urging, he takes a job at a London casino. It’s here that he meets Matt, a young and reckless fellow croupier, who ostensibly becomes the basis for the protagonist in his novel. A protagonist named Jake. Pretty subtle, huh?

Via Living in Cinema

It’s also at the casino that Jack meets the luscious Jani de Villiers (played by the awesome Alex Kingston). They strike up a friendship, despite the house rules against croupiers consorting with punters. Turns out they’re both originally from South Africa. What are the odds?

Via Awesome B-Movies

Jack’s voiceover narration throughout the story not only adds a neo-noir touch to the film, but underscores his detached view of himself vis-à-vis other people. As he narrates, we hear the book about Jake being written in Jack’s voice. Nice touch.

Naturally, something is bound to go amiss in this scenario, but to say more would spoil everything. I will say that the movie has much more subtlety in its visual subtext, as well as the dialogue, then I have suggested up to now. The plot also comes full circle back to the beginning and winds up with a twist that’s thought-provoking and ironic.

This film should be seen at least twice to fully appreciate all its merits. In fact, if you read the screenplay (click here to download), you may notice things you didn’t when viewing it.

This one’s a gem. Highly recommended!

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Part Four of ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’

And now the film that asks the proverbial question, can one get ahead in the world without a body? Get it? 🙂

On that perverse happy note, here’s Part Four of The Brain That Wouldn’t Die!

PS: Try out my film noir review collection for only $0.99! 🙂

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My Review of ‘Polly’ (2017)

This short movie, the directorial debut of Cassiah Joski-Jethi, is a unique combination of psychological thriller and dystopian coming-of-age story.

The title character and her peers undergo a daily ritual of wearing the proper attire which mimics the dolls they carry. Polly’s appearance is monitored and cultivated under her mother’s watchful eye.

She attends an all-girls school of students in pink and white uniforms, where the curriculum seems to focus on how to maintain a household and prepare for marriage and imposing the values they’ve learned upon their own daughters.

Annabel Pemberton as Miss Marton

It’s tempting to see the film as a cross between The Stepford Wives and Rebel Without a Cause (with a female rebel wielding scissors).

Polly chafes at the restraints, a feeling shown in the smallest ways, at first. However, Polly eventually lashes out in a manner that raises the stakes and heightens the suspense.

All this within a 13-minute film that has the bare minimum of dialogue. Polly is a study in how great imagery can make a movie. It’s also an intriguing film that pairs feminism with adolescent angst and raises many questions about how far women have really come.

It’s worth noting that the movie had an all-female cast and crew and has received accolades at several film festivals.

Check out the film’s website and trailer! 🙂

Trailer for POLLY – a short film by Cassiah Joski-Jethi from Cassiah Joski-Jethi on Vimeo.

I found the ambiguous ending thought-provoking, but it may not be for everyone. Even so, the visual spendor more than makes up for it!

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Part Three of ‘The Brain That Wouldn’t Die’

Just when you thought the worst movie ever was done it was safe to come back here, I’m back with Part Three of The Movie That Wouldn’t Die!

Kidding! 🙂 I mean The Brain That Wouldn’t Die!

And, in a special appearance for the very first time, here’s a cat doing Hamlet! 🙂

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My Review of ‘The Breaking Point’ (1950)


This film is notable for being the second (and, arguably, better) adaptation of “Papa” Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not. Certainly, this version is more faithful to the source material than the romanticized Bogey and Bacall movie (which, itself, is notable for bringing that couple to the silver screen, at the expense of the original story).

Just so I’m clear, it’s not that I don’t like the Bogey-Bacall film. It’s fine and all that, but it never prompted me to read the novel. This more faithful adaptation of the novel was so good that I now feel compelled to read the book, too.

Via DVD Savant

John Garfield does an especially masterful job of playing the lead character, Harry Morgan, a down on his luck, sport-fishing boat captain. He has a loving wife, Lucy (played by Phyllis Thaxter), whom he adores. They have two daughters, who cause the usual friction in the marriage that kids do. And, even though Lucy begs Harry to sell the boat (which hasn’t exactly produced a windfall) and take a job with her father on his lettuce farm in Salinas, California, so he can earn steady and sure money, Harry don’t want to do it. Imagine!

Via Rough Cut

Unfortunately, in his zeal to make a go of his sport-fishing business, Harry takes a few wrong turns that lead him toward shady dealings with the criminal element. He does this despite warnings from his partner, Wesley (played as a capable fellow boater in this film by Juano Hernandez, rather than a doddering old fool like Walter Brennan in that other movie).

Via Le Noir Auteur

To give credit to the movie, the original material apparently was quite non-PC in its use of the N-word. As a way of making up for this (perhaps), Wesley’s role was cast with an Afro-Puerto Rican actor.

But, to return to Harry’s troubles, he ends up throwing his lot in with a crooked lawyer, primarily because (despite his years (?) of experience in the business) he still hasn’t learned it’s best to have the client pay a large percentage of the fee up front.

Hello, Sailor! 🙂 (Via Toronto Film Society)

As a result, he nearly gets stranded in Mexico with the client’s … how can I say this nicely? … the client’s tart girlfriend (played by Patricia Neal) who practically throws herself at Harry. He doesn’t respond. Much. At first. But they do end up sharing enough chemistry to make you wonder what will happen.

Among the strongest aspects of the film are its depiction of a marriage that’s truly loving, despite the couple’s financial difficulties. And despite any attempts on the tarty girlfriend’s part to intervene, so to speak.

Via The Cinema Museum

I was also deeply impressed by John Garfield’s performance, which he reportedly was most proud of. I think it may be his best performance in any film I’ve seen him in.

Of the end, I’ll only say that it bears an interesting similarity to that of the first movie adaptation. However, the differences are also quite significant.

If you’re a John Garfield or Patricia Neal fan, don’t miss this one. This was sadly the second to the last movie role Garfield played before his untimely death at age 39.

Garfield is an interesting person about whom I could write a whole book. Except somebody’s probably beaten me to it.

An excellent movie, directed by the awesome Michael Curtiz. Highly recommended!

PS: If you’d like to read more of my film noir reviews, check out my ebook collection!

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The Writer Who Would be a Filmmaker

This Saturday Matinee post is a break from the usual. Instead of the standard B-grade movie with subtitles, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Weekend Challenge videos of 2017. This passes as my attempt at minor-league filmmaking! 🙂 Unscripted, no less.

First, Meet Debbi Mack!

Meet Debbi Mack from Debbi Mack on Vimeo.

And, The Shining – A Cat’s Eye View!

The Shining – A Cat’s Eye View from Debbi Mack on Vimeo.

And finally, A Word Nerd’s Review of 2017! 🙂 (A video created with unused clips recorded in 2017.)

A Word Nerd’s Review of 2017 from Debbi Mack on Vimeo.

Here’s to an exciting and happy new year! 🙂

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