Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Fall of the House of Usher


I almost certainly saw this in the ‘60s at a dawn to dusk show at the Don Drive-in in Port Arthur, Texas—where me and a couple other guys would sit through 4 or 5 movies with themes like “Beach Party” or “Edgar Allan Poe”—but I didn’t recall a thing about it. No wonder; it’s pretty forgettable. We watched it Halloween night on a channel that was running a Vincent Price Festival, called ... Read more »

The Fall (Season Three)

(UK, 2016)

I re-read my review of the previous two seasons, and saw that I had really been kind. While Season One was very good, and Season Two was pretty good, it only lasted until the last half hour, when it all went haywire. It concluded with some of the shoddiest police work the world has ever seen since Dallas in 1963. People who had been doing smart things suddenly started doing stupid things. ... Read more »

The Fallen Idol

(UK, 1948)

Here’s a crackerjack little thriller of the understated kind the Brits do so well. Ralph Richardson is Baines, the butler at the London embassy of an un-named French colonial country. He has a terrible wife who he wants to leave, because he is in love with one of the secretaries there. One night there is an argument at the top of the stairs, and she falls to her death.

Also at the ... Read more »



This film moved me profoundly when I first saw it, when it was new. It got me from the first frames, seeing all these kids auditioning, and it kept getting better. I don’t know when it dawned on me that this was not a made-up place, this was a real school. The New York High School of Performing Arts really existed. (And still does, merged with another arts school ... Read more »



The reviews for this were just awful, which can help me like a picture if it turns out to be not quite as awful as everyone is saying. That’s the case here. It starts off with a lot going against it, as it will be compared with the original, and it’s not in the same league with that, not by a long shot. But it’s not a terrible movie. There are some moments of great energy and foot-tapping ... Read more »

The Family


This tries with mixed success to mingle comedy with over-the-top violence. Robert De Niro and wife Michelle Pfeiffer are a mob family with two teenage kids who have been relocated from Brooklyn to a small town in Normandy. This is far from their first move, as Dad has a lot of trouble with getting violent if someone “disrespects” him. For that matter, Mom and the kids are the same way. Mom ... Read more »

Family Plot


It’s too bad Hitchcock couldn’t have gone out on an higher note than this. It’s a good film, but doesn’t show a lot of the Hitchcock trademarks. A lot of it is pretty funny. At one point Bruce Dern is driving a car down out of the mountains when the accelerator gets stuck and the brakes go out. Barbara Harris panics, and is all over the car. I imagine that in 1976 the scene was pretty ... Read more »

The Family Stone


This is one of those down the middle pictures. There are many things to like, and some that don’t make a lot of sense. Mostly, it’s the sort of picture actors love. Everybody is talented, and gets to show off here and there. Sarah Jessica Parker shows up for Christmas as the new girlfriend, almost fiancée, of the oldest boy in a large family. Diane Keaton detests her on sight, ... Read more »

Fanny and Alexander

(Fanny Och Alexander, Sweden, France, West Germany, 1982)

Ingmar Bergman made this to be released in two versions. The first was as a television series running 312 minutes. As it happened, he had to edit it down to 188 minutes for theatrical release, a process he described as “cutting into the nerves and lifeblood of the film.” Luckily, the TV series still happened, and it is that version that is on the Criterion DVD, the version we saw. I don’t ... Read more »



This has to be one of the most amazing films ever made. Almost 70 years later, in this age of CGI, it still has the capacity to astonish. It is even more mind-boggling when you consider the intensive labor and sheer innovation needed to bring some of the effects seen here to the screen. And it was a case of Walt Disney being far ahead of his time, because it was not a financial success ... Read more »