The Cinema Cafe

Serving Cinema's Tastiest Treasures

21st Century Treasure Quest #7

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 10 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)


The Ratings

1 chest: Definitely worth missing
2 chests: Okay to kill some time
3 chests: Not a complete success, but rewarding
4 chests: Well-crafted, creative and memorable
5 chests: A real treasure, deep, profound and original



Batman: The Killing Joke (2016—Director: Sam Liu)

Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprise their signature voice roles from Batman: The Animated Series as the Joker and Batman, respectively, in this faithful adaptation, and special theatrical release, of the acclaimed 1988 DC Comics one-shot graphic novel. Even with the television-grade animation, the last 45 minutes of the film faithfully recreate and enliven the comic, originally written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Holland, almost panel-by-panel. This admirably meticulous adaptation is, however, preceded by a half-hour prelude in which the sexualized portrayal of Batgirl (voiced by Tara Strong) is disturbingly out of place and thus crudely connects with the film's story proper. 



Ghostbusters (2016—Director: Paul Feig)


All gender and remake controversies aside, this female-led reboot of the classic 1984 supernatural comedy falls short in nearly every way the original film delivered. Despite competent and updated special effects, the humor feels forced, never organic. Furthermore, the quartet lacks chemistry: The subordinate team members, played by Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, outshine their dull leads, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy. Neil Casey’s "in name only" antagonist sadly amounts to a non-presence, while Chris Hemsworth—playing against type as the quartet’s dim-witted assistant—seems ill at ease, despite eliciting an occasional chuckle. 



The Infiltrator (2016—Director: Brad Furman)


Instead of painting a stirring portrait of a humble, real-life undercover U.S. customs agent who dared to take on a criminal money-laundering empire, Brad Furman’s film executes derivative storytelling in a fashion less polished and realistic than David O. Russell’s American Hustle from 2013. Despite their talents, the performances of Bryan Cranston and the rest of the cast are wasted on their wafer-thin roles in what ultimately amounts to actors playing dress-up in an uninspiring game of “Feds vs. Drug Dealers”.



Jason Bourne (2016—Director: Paul Greengrass)

The return of star Matt Damon and writer-director Paul Greengrass should have been a belated continuation of the well-received trilogy from the previous decade. Instead, this latest entry in the Bourne franchise—loosely adapted from Robert Ludlum’s spy thriller fiction novels—is more akin to the 2012 Jeremy Renner-starring misfire: The Bourne Legacy. Like 'Legacy', this story barely furthers the character growth of the tormented and amnesic former black ops agent. Characters played by franchise newcomers Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, Riz Ahmed, and Vincent Cassel contribute little value or are underutilized, while director Greengrass vigorously shakes his signature “shaky camera” to an even dizzier degree of visual chaos.



Lights Out (2016—Director: David F. Sandberg)

Teresa Palmer as the resourceful lead character and Maria Bello as the drug-addicted mother inject some dimension to their otherwise underwritten parts and the minor but effective use of genuine scares is welcome in an age saturated with CGI effects. These few strengths aside, this feature-length adaptation of David F. Sandberg’s 2013 (better-off) short film of the same name is as dull, generic, and predictable as most contemporary horror fare making it hardly worth the bother. 



Matt and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016—Director: Jake Szymanski)


This bewildering "slice of life" enactment is also an obnoxious, vulgar, and pre-juvenile attempted comedy. Adam Devine revels in his routine man-child schtick, while Aubrey Plaza continues to be typecast as a moody, sarcastic cliche. Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick, on the other hand, could probably make some use of their talents and move on to better careers by obliterating this film from their resumes and if they could, its entire exsistence. 

1 & Half Chests.png



The Purge: Election Year (2016—Director: James DeMonaco)

Capitalizing on the upcoming U.S. presidential election, this underachieving third installment in what may be the only sustainable dystopian-horror franchise of its kind, nevertheless contributes with intermittent thrills and relevant themes. These few dramatic high points are, however, peppered throughout a feeble script, nondescript action-grade acting, and far too close-to-the-action camerawork. 



The Secret Life of Pets (2016—Director: Chris Renaud)

This latest animated offering from Illumination Entertainment would have been more effective if it had pared down its story to the two main dogs—Max (voiced by Louis C.K. on autopilot) and Duke (voiced more enthusiastically by Eric Stonestreet)—making their way back home after getting stranded in New York City. Apparently, the filmmakers have succumbed to the perceived demands of contemporary family audiences and overwhelmed their otherwise charmingly simple tale with hit-or-mostly-miss narrative fluff and too many supporting characters. Amidst the excess, Kevin Hart’s turn as Snowball the white rabbit provides some refreshing laughs—his adorable design cleverly skewered by his crazed and ruthless attitude. 



The Shallows (2016—Director: Jaume Collet-Serra)

B-movie storylines offer fertile soil for gripping films with modest budgets, especially in an era where high-budget tentpole blockbusters fuel—or, in the case of 2016’s summer season, handicap—the industry. Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s latest work offers just that, tackling a Jaws-like storyline, featuring a lively Blake Lively as a sea-stranded surfer, stalked by a bloodthirsty shark. This proficient and tension-sustaining film will, without a doubt, become one of 2016’s most memorable hidden gems. 



Star Trek Beyond (2016—Director: Justin Lin)

An overdue narrative twist is one of this film's few noteworthy traits. The third entry in the updated Star Trek franchise stops short of energy and passion, much less going "beyond" anything meaningful, handcuffing the franchise to formulaic plotting... so much for going “where no man has gone before.” Still, the film deserves some credit for taking The Empire Strikes Back-inspired path of splintering the main ensemble on an uncharted planet and providing a fairly engrossing and tragic prelude. In the end, the familiarity of a formulaic approach is preferable to the sparse, random diversion offered by 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness.


"Now Listen to Me..."


Just some thoughts on current happenings:


There are 11 recommended films to watch on Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. this month:


Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Baby

Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Baby

For an uproarious and thoroughly engaging movie-watching experience, it's hard to beat Bringing Up Baby previously recommended here. The antics will begin on TCM Sunday, October 9 at 3pm PST. 









A memory-suppressed traumatic occurrence in Nancy's childhood is responsible for her aberrational, criminal and possibly murderous adult behaviour in a film whose Freudian-like theme is symbolised by its title: The Locket.

Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum

Laraine Day, Robert Mitchum

A year earlier Alfred Hitchcock utilised a similar plot device in 1945's Spellbound and subsequently Psycho and Marnie. Unlike the Hitchcock films, however, the referential incident portrayed in John Brahm's psychological melodrama is far less blatant, not as dramatically embellished and therefore more enigmatically connected to our heroine's personality. Even after the link between the past and present circumstances is revealed, mystery abounds in this dream-like film noir due to its elliptical storytelling style, complex characters, and their actors' subdued but highly effective performances. Notorious for its flashback within a flashback within a flashback structure, The Locket's cyclic finale, beautifully photographed by one of noir's favourites Nicholas Musuraca, also boasts of equal stylistic proficiency, importance, and dramatic impact. In fact, the filmmakers present their story as an imaginatively interpreted past, creating an illusory effect almost as if the characters were floating on fate to their predetermined destinies. The Locket will unlock Thursday, October 13 at 9am PST.






Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Later Thursday evening is another tale about an individual told through the different perspectives of those who knew him, Citizen Kane, one of the Top Ten World Cinema Treasures and a previous TCM recommendation here. His story will unfold October 13 at 10:30pm PST.








Is this next TCM offering a ghost story detailing the frightening possession of two children at an English countryside estate? Or is it a psychological study of simmering madness, resulting in the imaginary projections from their newly appointed sexually-repressed Governess? Or perhaps both? One thing is for certain: Films of either persuasion don't get any better. Even by The Innocents' devastatingly shocking conclusion, one cannot be sure.

Martin Stephens, Deborah Kerr

Martin Stephens, Deborah Kerr

This is primarily due to the highly sophisticated and cleverly adapted screenplay of Henry James' classic novella The Turn of the Screw by William Archibald, Truman Capote, and John Mortimer, where the writers perform their own subtle "turn" on the source material to create an unsettling atmosphere of illusionary dread and danger's uncertain source, heightening the portrayed events to terrifying proportions.


Deborah Kerr

Deborah Kerr

Britain's Jack Clayton, who previously helmed Room at the Top, was the perfect choice to direct. He utilised a respectful, straightforward literary approach and masterfully procured natural but substantive performances from his cast, especially Deborah Kerr as Miss Gibbons, the newly hired, progressively unhinged Governess. In fact, Kerr's performance is one of cinema's most highly emotive yet realistic and organically derived displays of thespianism ever portrayed. Clayton has been substantially supported by Freddie Francis' highly evocative cinematography and George Auric's precise, atmospheric score.


Peter Wyngarde (at left), Martin Stephens

Peter Wyngarde (at left), Martin Stephens

The Innocents proves that the horror genre need not include gory effects and that terror can be just as effectively instilled with ominous ambiguity as by direct association. Although the film's title refers to the two children depicted therein, it most certainly won't apply to those who have given themselves over to this wholly immersive and disquieting film-going experience. Horror's finest representation will appear Saturday, October 15 at 5pm PST.    







From the same director who brought us Citizen Kane comes another kind of cinematic hero (of sorts). Michael O'Hara, like the deeply flawed Kane, is flawlessly played by his creator Orson Welles. Unlike Citizen Kane however, this film fell under its producer Harry Cohn's butchery with considerable footage lost and destroyed forever. Nevertheless what survives is vastly entertaining and not to be missed. The Lady from Shanghai was also previously recommended here and will reappear on TCM Monday, October 17 at 8:30am PST.







Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy

The more psychologically disturbing, (than monstrously horrifying) 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has Spencer Tracy in the title role. This was previously analysed here. The Dr. will begin his transformation Friday, October 21 at 5pm PST.








Immediately following Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes France's finest entry in the horror genre, Georges Franju's Les yeux sans visage aka Eyes Without a Face.

This film is also a previous TCM recommendation here. Although the subject matter is as gruesomely shocking as can be imagined, it rises far above your common slasher flick. Gore is kept to a minimum. The tragedy surrounding its main characters' motives along with their feelings are the focus, the presentation of the events depicted is mature, elegant and refined. The resulting contrast between the horrific choices and their resulting victimised subjects with the shadowy atmospheric surroundings including the resigned sadness of our title character create a most unsettling and lasting impression. One can see with one's own eyes this artistic masterwork Friday, October 21 at 7pm PST.  





Rarely does an atmosphere of such overpowering dread subsume a cinematic story so completely as it does in 1943's The Seventh Victim.

Jean Brooks

Jean Brooks

A young woman (portrayed as a fetching innocent by Kim Hunter) goes searching for her missing sister (enigmatically played by Jean Brooks) in New York City's Greenwich Village and stumbles upon a satanic cult of devil worshipers putting both of their lives at risk. Mark Robson, who directed a number of these Val Lewton produced gems is himself at the peak of his considerable creative powers. This devilishly striking combination of horror and film noir was a previous TCM recommendation and reviewed here. The fate of both sisters will be determined Saturday, October 22 at 6:15am PST. 

Here's a short clip: Eerily reminiscent of and pre-dating Hitchcock's Psycho






Roy Scheider

Roy Scheider

Also on Saturday is a well-known adventure-thriller I'm not as strongly thrilled about recommending for reasons explained here. In the end, it does have enough spirit and technical bravado to sustain one's engagement and deserves to be seen at least once. Steven Spielberg's Jaws will open wide at 5pm PST. 



TCM's current monthly schedule can be confirmed by clicking on any of the above images. For those who live in parts of the U.S. other than the western region, the time zone can be adjusted in the upper right-hand corner of TCM's programme.


(To Be Continued)     A.G.

Sterling Silver Dialog #20

Sterling Silver Dialogue From The Movies: 

Do you know where they're from? Answers coming soon.

Special Film Noir Edition








"Art is one of the remaining ecstasies that is neither immoral nor illegal.."



“We didn’t exactly believe your story, Miss O’Shaughnessy. We believed your two hundred dollars. I mean, you paid us more than if you’d been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.” 


"I won't because all of me wants to regardless of consequences... and because you've counted on it.”



"I've got a pretty good bottle of rye in my pocket and I'd rather get wet in here.”


"You know what he’ll do when he comes back? Beat my teeth out, then kick me in the stomach for mumbling.”



“I hate you so much I think I’m going to die from it.”


"Doesn’t it bother you at all that you’re married?"

(response) "What I want to know is, does it bother you?”



(at a roulette wheel) "That’s not the way to win."

(response) "Is there a way to win?"

(reply) "There’s a way to lose more slowly.”



"Maybe I’ll live so long that I’ll forget her. Maybe I’ll die trying.” 



"Maybe you shouldn’t dress like that."

(response) "This is a blouse and skirt. I don’t know what you’re talking about."

(reply) "You shouldn’t wear that body.” 



 “I wouldn’t give you the skin off a grape.” 



"Look, you’re a nice girl, but in case you’re thinking of mothering me, forget it. I’m no stray dog you can pick up, and I like my neck without a collar.” 



"What did I tell you about playing with that radio? If them batteries is dead, it's gonna have company."



“A woman doesn’t care how a guy makes a living, just how he makes love.”



"Okay Marlowe," I said to myself, ‘You’re a tough guy. You’ve been sapped twice, choked, beaten silly with a gun, shot in the arm until you’re crazy as a couple of waltzing mice. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like putting your pants on.”



“Kiss me, Mike. I want you to kiss me. The liar’s kiss that says I love you and means something else.” 

Top Ten: Cinema's Most Treasured Images Part 9 (#81 - 90)

I'll continue with some of cinema's most treasured images. For those familiar with the scenes represented they're bound to invoke a strong emotional response. Like the previous selections, these will be listed in order of greatest impression with #81 as the most iconic. The narratives' indelible moments are the primary reason these captures were selected. 

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21st Century Treasure Quest #6

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 11 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

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End Credits #48: Cinema's 2016 Lost Treasures

Gloria DeHaven (July 23, 1925 - July 30, 2016) the supremely gifted actress has died at age 91. She was also a dearly loved mom to 4 children and a grandma to 3. My deepest condolences to her family for their loss. May her captivating illumination forever shine on cinema lovers everywhere. 

Guest contributor Bob DiMucci has provided this tribute to many of her motion picture accomplishments:

The Films of Gloria DeHaven


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21st Century Treasure Quest #5

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 11 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

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21st Century Treasure Quest #4

Our contributor Renard N. Bansale has completed 10 more contemporary film reviews for your consideration. The rating system he'll use is devised primarily to give those who are trying to decide which films to see, a fun and easy way of (hopefully) choosing a more pleasurable movie-going experience. For a more thorough introduction to this series please see 21st Century Treasure Quest #1. (A.G.)

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Capturing a Golden Moment #15

In this series, I'd like to present some exceptional scenes inspired by cinema's most gifted artists of yesteryear.


Guys and Dolls (1955)


Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz


Scene: "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat"


Stubby Kaye as Nicely-Nicely Johnson sings this showstopping song fabulously, perhaps as a result of perfecting the role and number on Broadway during the show's 1200 performances. Guys and Dolls won the 1951 Tony Award for the Best Musical. With such lively and exuberant characters and songs like the one seen here, it's easy to see why.   



Guys and Dolls  is available on Blu-Ray here:

Guys and Dolls [Blu-ray]
Starring Various


It is also available for U.S. download here: