Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

V For Vendetta

(2005)

The best thing I can say about this movie—and I’m not really damning with faint praise—is that it’s head and shoulders above any other adaptation of a graphic novel I’ve ever seen. I have nothing to say about its faithfulness to the source material (the author has disowned the movie) as I have not seen it … indeed, I’ve never managed to finish Read more »

Vacancy

(2007)

Taken on its own B-movie terms, this is a nice little thriller. A man and a women with car trouble check into a motel late at night. They pop in a tape that’s lying on the video deck and see a violent scene, people apparently being killed. They soon realize the murders are happening in the very room they are in. Whoa! Sounds pretty familiar, right? Well, sure. It’s a scary movie about ... Read more »

Valentín

(2002)

This is a little story that you should avoid like the plague if your favorite directors are Ingmar Bergman, Todd Solondz, or Lars Von Trier. If you are like me and Lee, though, and enjoy a quiet little fable about a cross-eyed 8-year-old boy with Coke-bottle glasses who wants to be an astronaut, from a broken family with a terrible father and an abused mother, living with his not-so-nice ... Read more »

Valkyrie

(2008)

This movie faces the same problem that was handled so brilliantly in The Day of the Jackal (the original, not the putrid Bruce Willis re-make): How do you build tension in an assassination attempt that you know, going into the theater, is going to fail? Jackal did it by the meticulous, step-by-step planning, creating, and execution of the Jackal’s ingenious plan. ... Read more »

The Valley of Decision

(1945)

Gregory Peck and Greer Garson in a severely shortened version of what sounds like an epic book. The novel spanned four generations, with Garson figuring in about 75 years of service to the Scott family, steel mill operators in Pittsburgh. She falls in love with the oldest son, Peck, but for a variety of reasons they are unable to consummate their love. This is the story the movie tells, ... Read more »

Valley of Gwangi

(1969)

Ray Harryhausen (who died only a few months ago at age 93) did the stop-motion for this handsomely produced but fairly dumb movie about cowboys battling dinosaurs in a forgotten valley in Mexico. It takes a while to get going, but when the action starts it’s watchable. I guess I should give them points for giving a starring role to eohippus, the proto-horse that was about the size of a ... Read more »

Valley of the Dragons

(1961)

Here is a movie notable mainly for its unabashed stealing of special effects monsters from other movies. The thefts were from such masterpieces as Cat Women of the Moon, One Million B.C., and a Japanese movie I saw in my youth: Rodan. What surprised me was how good some of the monsters were. I mean, though they were obviously ... Read more »

Van Helsing

(2004)

If ever there was an object lesson proving that eye-popping special effects are not enough to make a movie, this is it. Gorgeous to look at, and hollow at the core. Stupid. Pointless. And long.

The Vanishing

(1993)

What an odd story there is here. The director, George Sluizer, made a film in Dutch and French in 1988 called Spoorloos. It was odd, and intriguing, and I liked it. Then in 1993 he re-made it, in English, with Jeff Bridges … and it’s a piece of shit. He turned it into a routine thriller … actually, dumber than usual. The ending is stupid, everything ... Read more »

Vanishing Point

(1971)

After seeing The Driver for the first time, I just had to check this one out again. I saw it for the first and last time when it was only a few years old, in the Embassy Theater on Market Street in San Francisco, where you could see three second-run feature films for not very much money and get a Depression-era spinning-wheel game called Ten-O-Win into the ... Read more »