Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain, Le (2001, FRA/GER) C-120m. Scope ***½ D: Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Starring Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Rufus, Yolande Moreau, Artus de Penguern, Urbain Cancelier, Dominique Pinon, voice of Frédéric Mitterrand. Mischievous, lonely – and terminally shy – Amélie Poulain (Tautou) grows up without friends in a Parisian suburb. As an adult the imaginative girl works at a bar in Paris but her introvert character prevents her from making friends, let alone having a boyfriend or lover. All this changes when she finds a secret hiding place in her bathroom, which marks the beginning of her biggest adventure. Wonderful, immensely touching romantic comedy drama by the director of DELICATESSEN and LA CITE DES ENFANTS PERDUES makes perfect use of Tautou’s innocent, immaculately beautiful face and creates a marvelous universe of odd, unique characters and situations. A must. Cowritten by director Jeunet.

Faccia a Faccia (1967, ITA/SPA) C-112m. SCOPE *** D: Sergio Sollima. Starring Tomas Milian, Gian Maria Volonté, William Berger, Jolanda Modio, Gianni Rizzo, Carole André, Angel del Pozo, Aldo Sambrell, Nello Pazzafini, Frank Brana, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Goffredo Unger. A rare spaghetti western with a brain: Professor Volonté must form an uneasy alliance with bandit Milian when he unwittingly gives him a chance to break free and then becomes an outlaw himself. However, the thoughtful man tries to influence the brute positively. Some plot weaknesses are offset by stylish direction and fine Ennio Morricone score. Comes close to the Leone westerns of the time. Written by the director and Sergio Donati. English title: FACE TO FACE.

Face of Eve, The (1968, GBR/SPA/LIE/USA) C-80m. ** D: Jeremy Summers, Robert Lynn. Starring Celeste Yarnal, Robert Walker Jr., Herbert Lom, Christopher Lee, Fred Clark. Walker goes to the Amazon jungle in search of a missing pilot friend and meets mysterious amazon blonde Yarnal, who is like a female Tarzan. It turns out several characters are after a legendary treasure, which scientist Lee might have a map to. Rather cheap adventure is pretty ridiculous (especially in the scenes with the bumbling natives), but plot is not bad, some minor cult may take to this. Uncut version runs longer. Harry Alan Towers scripted and produced. Also known as EVE.

Face/Off (1997, USA) C-138m. Scope ***½ D: John Woo. Starring Nicholas Cage, John Travolta, Joan Allen, Alessandro Nivola, Gina Gershon, Dominique Swain, Nick Cassavetes, CCH Pounder. Woo blurs the boundaries of good and evil in this rip-roaring action thriller, his best U.S. film to date. Conservative cop Sean Archer (cool Travolta) is dying to catch ruthless terrorist Castor Troy (ultra-cool Cage), who has killed his son in an attempt to assassinate the cop. Finally he gets him but Troy falls into a coma. In order to find out about a bomb that’s been planted by Troy’s organisation somewhere in L.A., Archer decides to undergo a facial operation, which will leave him looking exactly like Troy. When Troy awakens from the coma he does the same .... and ‘becomes’ Sean Archer! Rather outrageous idea works thanks to excellent star performances, Woo’s brilliant direction and some really explosive editing. James Bond would be proud of such a dynamite adventure. Alessandro Nivola (who plays Troy’s brother) is even cooler than the stars and steals every scene he’s in.

Face of Fu Manchu, The (1965, GBR) C-89m. Scope **½ D: Don Sharp. Starring Christopher Lee, Nigel Green, Joachim Fuchsberger, Karin Dor, Howard Marion-Crawford, Chin Tsai, Walter Rilla. First of five 60s adaptations of Sax Rohmer’s novels about master criminal Fu Manchu and his continuous attempts to rule (or destroy) the world. His opponents: Scotland Yard inspector Green and biochemist(!) Fuchsberger. Dated, slowly paced, evokes little interest. Still, watchable and quite influential. Lee (as Fu Manchu) sleepwalks through his role. Followed by THE BRIDES OF FU MANCHU (1966).

Faculty, The (1998, USA) C-107m. *½ D: Robert Rodriguez. Starring Elijah Wood, Jordana Brewster, Clea DuVall, Laura Harris, Josh Hartnett, Shawn Hatosy, Famke Janssen, Piper Laurie, Bebe Neuwirth, Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek. A major disappointment from director Robert Rodriguez (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN) and screenwriter Kevin Williamson (SCREAM): Several school kids find out that aliens have taken over the bodies of their teachers, and everyone in the school is also in danger of having his ‘body snatched’. This is no more than a bad remake of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, hardly entertaining and unpleasant to the nth degree. Some scares, but all for naught. Edited by the director.

Fade to Black (1980, USA) C-98m. **½ D: Vernon Zimmerman. Starring Dennis Christopher, Tim Thomerson, Gwynne Gilford, Norman Burton, Linda Kerridge, Mickey Rourke. Interesting take on TAXI DRIVER about nerdish film geek Eric Binford (Christopher), who lives under the thrall of his aunt. When he falls in love with Marilyn Monroe look-alike Kerridge, he finds the courage to stand up for himself and revenge himself (violently) on all those that suppressed him. Interesting thriller has lots of movie references (mostly to 30s and 40s gangster films), but is never really convincing, though Christopher gives his best. Ambitious script by director Zimmerman. Good score by Craig Safan.

Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004, USA) C-122m. **½ D: Michael Moore. Radical, deliberately one-sided documentary which looks at none other than the U.S. president and his role in the crisis following the World Trade Center attacks of 2001 and subsequent Iraq war. Tries to poke fun at the controversial figure of George W. Bush and reveal him as a kind of jack-ass, but often also works against itself, as you wonder why Moore never gives his ‘victim’ the chance to defend himself. If most of what the director accuses him of is true, then one can only shake one’s head at Bush’s re-election in 2004. No matter what your political persuasion is, you will find the pictures of war atrocities in Iraq difficult to stomach. Winner of the Grand Prize in Cannes.

Failure to Launch (2006, USA) C-97m. Scope **½ D: Tom Dey. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Terry Bradshaw, Kathy Bates, Stephen Tobolowsky. Formulaic romantic comedy about 35-year-old man (McConaughey) who still lives with his parents, who hire a woman (Parker) to make him move out. Then they fall in love and predictable complications ensue. Contrivance made enjoyable by Dey’s fast-paced direction, star-chemistry.

Fairy Tale: A True Story (1997, GBR/USA) C-99m. *** D: Charles Sturridge. Starring Florence Hoath, Elizabeth Earl, Paul McGann, Phoebe Nicholls, Bill Nighy, Bob Peck, Peter O’Toole, Harvey Keitel. Warm-hearted, meticulously produced fantasy drama set in 1917, where much fuzz is made about two girls who have allegedly photographed fairies in their garden. Writer Arthur Conan Doyle (O’Toole), and magician/artist Harry Houdini (Keitel) come to investigate! Slightly uneven but magical, especially for kids. Surprising cameo at the end shall not be given away here. Keitel is excellent. Beautiful score by Zbigniew Preisner. From the director of WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD. Also known as ILLUMINATION.

Faites Sauter la Banque (1963, FRA, ITA) 89m. **½ D: Jean Girault. Starring Louis de Funès, Georges Wilson, Cathérine Demongeot, Yvonne Clech, Anne Doat, Jean Lefebvre. A bank manager advises decent shopkeeper de Funès to buy company shares which soon after turn out to be worthless. Being broke himself, the resourceful man decides to rob the bank across the street by digging a tunnel. His whole family is of help to him. Funny comedy is too slowly paced and thus mostly of interest to fans of the French comedian.

Fakiren fra Bilbao (2004, DAN) C-88m. Scope **½ D: Peter Flinth. Starring Sidse Babett Knudsen, Julie Zangenberg, Aksel Leth,  Moritz Bleibtreu, Ole Thestrup, Peter Gantzler, Fares Fares. Danish family entertainment about two twins, both around 12 years old, who move into an old mansion with their mother, and soon find that it harbors a mystery, especially when they meet fakir Bleibtreu, who was trapped inside a ballpen(!) for more than 50 years. Then some escaped cons complicate the proceedings. Okay kids adventure, though misses its target demographic; 12-year-old kids don’t watch innocent stuff like this anymore. English title: THE FAKIR.

Fallen (1998, USA) C-124m. Scope ** D: Gregory Hoblit. Starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz, James Gandolfini, Elias Koteas, Gabriel Casseus, Robert Joy. After a serial killer is executed in the gas chamber a two-thousand year-old demon leaves his body and travels on, having control over every body he inhabits. Cop Washington is puzzled when similar murders are committed despite the killer being dead. Cop thriller with supernatural theme doesn’t work because of overly realistic setting. Overlong film remains watchable thanks to good cast and some suspenseful sequences. The ending is a disappointment. And don’t wait for the demon to show its true face.

Fallen Angels (1995, HGK) C-95m. **½ D: Wong Kar-Wai. Starring Leon Lai, Michelle Reis, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Charlie Yeung, Karen Mok. Post-modernist drama about the alienated youth in Hong Kong, focusing on professional hitman Lai and the woman who assigns him to his jobs. Story is barely there and only serves as a frame for impressive images from the lives of the protagonists, turning out as a showcase for cinematographer Christopher Doyle. Voice-overs prevent the film from falling apart altogether. Well-received in many quarters, but without a clear narrative it's hard to like a film, even though it's interesting and stylishly made. See also CHUNG KING EXPRESS.

Fall of the Roman Empire, The (1964, USA) C-172m. Scope *** D: Anthony Mann. Starring Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, Alec Guiness, James Mason, Christopher Plummer, Anthony Quayle, John Ireland, Omar Sharif, Mel Ferrer, Eric Porter. One of the most intellectual historical epics of the 1950s and 1960s, detailing the fall of Rome, as Caesar (Guiness) is at first trying to make peace with all tribes only to realize that animosities remian hidden below the surface. Top cast, epic handling by director Mann. Shot in Ultra Panavision 70 (2,75:1) that produced a picture wider than any other technique. Also shown at 153m..

Familiari delle Vittime Non Saranno Avvertiti, I (1972, ITA) C-99m. Scope D: Alberto De Martino. Starring Telly Savalas, Antonio Sabato, Paolo Tedesco, Teodoro Corrà, Salvatore Billa. Disappointing, poorly plotted mafia thriller about upstart Sabato, who works his way up the organization to finally avenge his father’s murder. Slow-moving stuff, cowriter-director De Martino has done better. Shot by Joe D’Amato. English titles: CRIME BOSS, NEW MAFIA BOSS, and THE MAFIA TERMINATOR.

Family Jewels, The (1965, USA) C-99m. **½ D: Jerry Lewis. Starring Jerry Lewis, Sebastian Cabot, Neil Hamilton, Jay Adler, Ellen Corby, Milton Frome, Donna Butterworth, Scatman Crothers. Sweet-natured comedy for Jerry Lewis fans. He plays the driver of a super-rich girl, who has lost her father and must now choose a new one in her five uncles (all played by Lewis!). The only really funny routine is in the pool hall, but film is hard to dislike.

Family Man, The (2000, USA) C-125m. Scope **½ D: Brett Ratner. Starring Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Josef Sommer, Harve Presnell, Mary Beth Hurt. Ever-so-smooth Hollywood fantasy about hot-shot investment broker Cage, who abandoned his lover (Leoni) to start a career in New York City. Thirteen years later, he is magically transported into the life he could have had, if he had stayed with his lover. If you buy this premise, you might like this drama. Others may find that it reeks of Hollywoodesque family values. By the director of the RUSH HOUR movies. Score by Danny Elfman. Well-photographed by Dante Spinotti.

Family Plot (1976, USA) C-121m. **½ D: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Karen Black, Bruce Dern, Barbara Harris, William Devane, Ed Lauter, Cathleen Nesbitt. Hitchcock’s last film is medium crime drama with black humor. Dern and Harris rip off elderly ladies with their psychic act, meet seriously villainous couple Black and Devane when investigating their latest victim’s family history. Lightweight, talky drama that would qualify as plot-heavy if it had much plot to speak of. Still, interesting as Hitch’s last project; he died four years later without getting another project off the ground (he had been involved in a spy drama called ‘The Short Night’). Scripted by Ernest Lehmann, based on the novel The Rainbird Pattern by Victor Canning. Score by John Williams.

Family Stone, The (2005, USA) C-103m. *** D: Thomas Bezucha. Starring Claire Danes, Diane Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Dermot Mulroney, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson. Comedy drama set around X-Mas, when the title family have a reunion, and eldest son Mulroney is bringing his fiancée Parker, who everybody seems to dislike. Character-driven drama scores thanks to good performances and just the right amount of melodrama. No classic, but enjoyable. Written by the director.

Fan, The (1981, USA) C-94m. *½ D: Edward Bianchi. Starring Lauren Bacall, James Garner, Maureen Stapleton, Hector Elizondo, Michael Biehn, Anna Maria Horsford, Dwight Schultz, Dana Delaney, Griffin Dunne. Boring, simply bad thriller about Biehn’s obsession with musical star Bacall, which leads to several assaults and murders. A tedious adaptation of the novel by Bob Randall, interesting cast and Pino Donaggio score fail to enliven this.

Fando y Lis (1967, MEX) 96m. **½ D: Alejandro Jodorowsky. Starring Sergio Kleiner, Diana Mariscal, María Teresa Rivas, Tamara Garina, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Valerie Jodorowsky. Earthy art film (cult director Jodorowsky’s first) about the odyssey of Fando and paralyzed Lis, who embark on a journey to the mythical city of Tar. Loosely structured film is held together by powerful images and scenarios, but diverts (or at least appears to divert) too often from its central issue. Fascinating viewing for Jodorowsky devotees, incomprehensible trash for outsiders (film caused a riot at its premiere and was subsequently banned in Mexico). Includes some interesting references to Jodorowsky’s own life. Cowritten by the director and Fernando Arrabal, whose play this film is based on. Also known as TAR BABIES.

Fanny Hill (1964, USA/GER) 96m. **½ D: Russ Meyer. Starring Laetitia Román, Miriam Hopkins, Ulli Lommel, Chris Howland, Helmut Weiss, Alexander D’Arcy, Walter Giller, Albert Zugsmith. Román (Mario Bava’s LA RAGAZZA CHE SAPEVA TROPPO) is well-cast as naive country maid Fanny Hill, who comes to the big city and soon finds herself a protégé of ‘lady’ Hopkins (who owns a brothel). Some amusing bits, brief nudity in this first filmization of the novel by John Cleland. Redundant in the second half, as all the comedy is based on the fact that Fanny is unaware that all the men want to have sex with her. Co-producer Albert Zugsmith is said to have directed parts of this movie. Filmed about 10 times since.

Fantasia Chez les Ploucs (1971, FRA/ITA/EGY) C-81m. Scope *** D: Gérard Pires. Starring Lino Ventura, Mireille Darc, Jean Yanne, Jacques Dufilho, Georges Demestre, Luigi Bonos, Nanni Loy, Rufus, Alain Delon. Crazy farce set and filmed in the United States. Ventura, constantly fooling the sheriff and his bumbling deputies, is running an illegal destillery. Yanne comes to visit his old buddy with his son, and they soon make the acquaintance of super-sexy Darc, who is wearing part of her gangster-lover’s latest loot: A bikini slip made entirely out of diamonds. Free-wheeling satire on the American way of life is the stuff cult movies are made of: Creative direction by Pires (TAXI), loose star performances and its extra-madness make it a joy to watch. Claude Miller (MORTELLE RANDONNEE) coscripted and did some second unit directing. Aldo Lado (MALASTRANA) was assistant director. English title: FANTASIA AMONG THE SQUARES.

Fantasist, The (1986, EIR) C-98m. **½ D: Robin Hardy. Starring Christopher Cazenove, Timothy Bottoms, Moira Harris, John Kavanagh, Mick Lally. Fairly interesting thriller about a young woman (Harris) who moves to Dublin and soon is targeted by a dangerous serial killer. Well-made, at times intriguing, but characters are shallow and their motivations are not always clear. Director Hardy (of THE WICKER MAN fame) adapted the novel Goosefoot by Patrick McGinley.

Fantasma d’Amore (1979, ITA/FRA/GER/MON) C-98m. *** D: Dino Risi. Starring Romy Schneider, Marcello Mastroianni, Eva Maria Meineke, Wolfgang Preiss, Raf Baldassare. Fascinating psycho drama about merchant Mastroianni and his consternation upon seeing a former love (Schneider) on the bus almost irrecognizably withered and his subsequent obsession with her memory. It turns out she may have died some years ago – is he haunted by visions? Stars are completely convincing, haunting score by Riz Ortolani, a film not easily forgotten. Schneider, at forty, remains most ravishing. Photographed by Tonino delli Colli, based on a novel by Mino Milani.

Fantasma dell'Opera, Il (1998, ITA/HUN) C-104m. ** D: Dario Argento. Starring Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano, Nadia Rinaldi, Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni, Zoltán Barabás, István Bubik. Another remake of Gaston Leroux's THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, this time by Italian horror specialist Dario Argento. Meticulous production values, wonderful set design, but film lacks everything that made the story so tragic and irresistible in the first place. Sands is fatally miscast as a phantom without mask, Argento's daughter Asia does her best, but there's just no chemistry between her and the leading man. What's more, Argento's trademark gore scenes seem almost completely out of place, as if they were just used to shock and disgust the audience. Watchable for Argento devotees, but Gérard Brach and Argento's screenplay fails to come up with new ideas, let alone enforce the old ones. Good score by Ennio Morricone.

Fantasma di Sodoma, Il (1988, ITA) C-84m. M D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Claudio Aliotti, Maria Concetta Salieri, Robert Egon, Jessica Moore, Al Cliver. Cheap, dull, obvious horror/exploitation film about six teenagers who stumble into deserted villa and are confronted with the ghosts of evil Nazi soldiers and their whores. Repellent, dumb trash. THE GHOSTS OF SODOM, or SODOM’S GHOSTS are film’s English titles.

Fantastic Four (2005, USA/GER) C-106m. SCOPE **½ D: Tim Story. Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon. Four astronauts become superheroes after being exposed to radiation during a space experiment. Comic book adaptation starts out weak, with a seemingly neverending plot setup, then improves slightly, with some good special effects and fairly entertaining twists. Followed by 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (2007). Extended version runs 125m.

Fantastic Voyage (1966, USA) C-100m. Scope ***½ D: Richard Fleischer. Starring Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch, Edmond O’Brien, Donald Pleasence, Arthur O’Connell, Arthur Kennedy, James Brolin. First-rate science-fiction adventure about a group of scientists, who are minituarized inside a submarine and injected into the body of a dying man. Their mission is to travel to the brain and destroy tumor-like clot. It’s artery travel rather than space travel, but Oscar-winning effects are fascinating and situations are suspenseful. An original adventure classic. Exciting, appropriately bizarre score by Leonard Rosenman, fine photography by Ernest Laszlo. Based on a story by Otto Klement and Jerome Bixby, sort of remade in 1987 as INNERSPACE.

Fantomas (1964, FRA/ITA) C-105m. Scope *** D: André Hunebelle. Starring Jean Marais, Louis de Funès. Jounalist Marais and chief-of-police de Funès are after a super-criminal in this sometimes mediocre but always worthwhile adaptation of a French comic book. The action pushes the comedy in the background, which is too bad because de Funés has some hilarious bits. Still, a remarkable production, with shades of James Bond. Followed by two sequels.

Fantomas Contre Interpol (1965, FRA/ITA) C-99m. Scope **½ D: André Hunebelle. Starring Jean Marais, Louis de Funès. Fantomas returns, abducting two scientists, whose invention he wants to abuse to become ruler of the world. Agreeable sequel is full of costumes and chase sequences, punctuated by mild comedy.

Fantomas Contre Scotland Yard (1966, FRA/ITA) C-101m. Scope **½ D: André Hunebelle. Starring Louis de Funès, Jean Marais. In this last of the Fantomas adventures the formula tires, as the super-criminal blackmails some of the world’s richest men. De Funès is finally given more time to display his comic talent, which makes up for weaknesses of the script. This final part of the trilogy was released in the U.S. as FANTOMAS AGAINST SCOTLAND YARD. 

Fantomes du Chapelier, Les (1982, FRA) C-120m. ***½ D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Michel Serrault, Charles Aznavour, Monique Chaumette, Aurore Clément, Stéphane Audran. Shy Jewish taylor Aznavour suspects cunning hatter Serrault of being the strangler that is roaming the narrow streets of Paris by night. It turns out he keeps the corpse of his wife in his room, pretending that she is still alive. Stunning psycho thriller drama (with shades of Hitchcock’s PSYCHO), superbly directed, brilliantly acted by Serrault, who is chilling as the mad hatter. Only quibble: The adaptation of Georges Simenon’s novel leaves a few questions open, especially its ending will leave you unsatisfied. Nevertheless, a must-see. English title: THE HATTER’S GHOST.

Farfalla Con le Ali Insanguinate, Una (1971, ITA) C-98m. Scope *** D: Duccio Tessari. Starring Helmut Berger, Giancarlo Sbragia, Ida Galli, Silvano Tranquilli, Carol André, Wolfgang Preiss, Duccio Tessari. Unconventionally structured, interesting giallo about the murder of a school girl and the subsequent trial of middle-aged family father Sbragia. During the trial, flashbacks are used to deepen the story and clarify the mystery. Technically good, with some sharp editing and directing, this thriller plays like a semi-documentary at times. Incredibly rich and varied score by Gianni Ferrio. Written by the director and Gianfranco Clerici (NON SI SEVIZIA UN PAPERINO, L’ANTICRISTO). English title: THE BLOODSTAINED BUTTERFLY.

Far From the Madding Crowd (1967, GBR) C-161m. Scope ***½ D: John Schlesinger. Starring Julie Christie, Peter Finch, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates, Fiona Lewis, Prunella Ransome. Elite filmization of Thomas Hardy’s novel about willful woman (Christie) who is caught between three men, all of whom are in love with her. Superb drama is an intelligent examination of how women can affect the lives of men – and vice versa. Top direction and stylish photography (by Nicholas Roeg) make this a must for fans of period-dramas.

Fargo (1996, USA) C-98m. ***½ D: Joel Coen. Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Harve Presnell, Peter Stormare. The Coens’ breakthrough into mainstream is a wonderfully nutty and highly original film about a kidnapping gone wrong. Car salesman Macy hires two bumbling would-be killers who should knock off his wife, so that he can cash in the money from her life insurance. Naturally, everything goes wrong that possibly can. Superb performances (including Oscar-winning McDormand as a pregnant police woman) make this a must for any dedicated movie-goer, even outdoing the Coen’s brilliant stylistics. If not their best it ranks among their most outrageous efforts.

Far Out Man (1990, USA) C-81m. ** D: Tommy Chong. Starring Tommy Chong, C. Thomas Howell, Rae Dawn Chong, Shelby Chong, Paris Chong, Martin Lull, Bobby Taylor, Judd Nelson, Cheech Marin, Michael Winslow, Paul Bartel. Write-director Chong summons a select cast of stars and friends for this rather inept comedy where he plays a left-over hippie, who travels across America in search of his wife who left him. For Chong’s fans, anyone else might be easily offended. Not very funny. Also known as SOUL MAN II, although this is not a sequel.

Fast and the Furious, The (2001, USA) C-106m. Scope **½ D: Rob Cohen. Starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Rick Yune, Ted Levine, Rob Cohen. Undercover cop Walker infiltrates gang of street racers, hoping to bust them for some armed robberies. Hot-shot racer Diesel doesn’t know if to trust the newcomer, but ultimately they become friends. Flashy action movie doesn’t mean much, but succeeds as mindless entertainment, with the final thirty minutes quite exciting. Just don’t look beneath the glossy façade. Success at the box-office prompted a sequel (2 FAST 2 FURIOUS).

Fast Company (1978, CAN) C-93m. ** D: David Cronenberg. Starring William Smith, Claudia Jennings, John Saxon, Nicholas Campbell, Don Franks, Cedric Smith, Judy Foster. Atypical Cronenberg film about aging drag-star racing champion Smith and his ruthless manager Saxon's attempts to "retire" him. Characters are stereotype and story lacks punch, though film is not at all bad. Cronenberg's direction shows talent, and the songs are pretty good. For car fanatics. Cowriter-director Cronenberg would later return to his fascination with cars in the controversial CRASH. Never released theatrically outside Canada.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1966, USA) 86m. *** D: Russ Meyer. Starring Tura Satana, Haji, Lori Williams, Susan Bernard, Stuart Lancaster, Paul Trinka, Dennis Busch, Ray Barlow, Mickey Foxx. Another cult favorite from director Russ Meyer (MUDHONEY): Bizarre adult melodrama about a trio of female ex-cons, who kidnap a young girl after killing her lover and hide out at a farm in the middle of nowhere. The wheelchair-bound owner and his two sons (one of whom is mentally retarded) soon learn that the women are tough, foul-mouthed and not to be played around with. Good melodramatic score, stylish camera perspectives and some incredibly snappy dialogue make this great fun to watch. Acting is not faultless, however. Strangely enough, there’s no frontal nudity, although the women’s sex appeal is sensational. From a story by director Meyer, who also edited the picture and produced it along with his wife Eve.

Fast Food Nation (2006, USA) C-113m. ** D: Richard Linklater. Starring Greg Kinnear, Luis Guzmán, Ashley Johnson, Patricia Arquette, Kris Kristofferson, Bruce Willis, Ethan Hawke, Avril Lavigne. Over-plotted comedy drama about the American fast food industry and its employees and workers. Film focuses on Kinnear, a marketing manager for a big fast food chain, who is ordered to investigate bad test results for meat at one of their factories. Director Linklater also examines the fates of the illegal Mexican workers and the unhappy restaurant employees. Spiced up with pointless, distracting star cameos, film fails to compel, mostly because of script that is poorly paced and doesn’t interweave the stories well. What’s more, we already know about this issue. SUPERSIZE ME (2004) was the better, spunkier approach. Cowritten by director Linklater, based on a book by Eric Schlosser.

Fast Perfekter Seitensprung, Ein (1995, AUT) C-105m. ** D: Reinhard Schwabenitzky. Starring Andreas Vitàsek, Elfi Eschke, Hans Clarin, Heinz Petters. So-called comedy about unhappily married Vitàsek, who meets voluptuous Eschke, who has just fled a marriage. They have an affair, which leads to predictable complications. Made watchable by a likeable cast of popular Austrian and German actors, but result is clichéd and contrived. May not mean much to non-Austrians, which is exactly the problem of the national film ‘industry’: it produces easy-to-take, none-too-clever films which appeal to Austrian audiences only. This film was made in this self-conscious vein. Its (national) success prompted two sequels.

Fast Track (2006, USA) C-90m. ** D: Jesse Peretz. Starring Zach Braff, Amanda Peet, Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin. Mia Farrow, Lucian Maisel, Donal Logue, Josh Charles, Paul Rudd. Romantic comedy with the emphasis on comedy about young parents Braff and Peet, who move to her hometown in Ohio, where he has to start over in a new job with her dad Grodin (in his first screen role since the 1994 IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY ). Too bad he must collaborate with her ex-lover, wheelchair-bound Bateman. And the baby-blues is just kicking in… Braff gets a relentless beating here until the finale, where the film goes completely overboard. Even the outtakes over the 10-minute closing crawl aren’t very funny. Also known as THE EX.

Fatal Frames (1996, ITA) C-131m. ** D: Al Festa. Starring Stefania Stella, Rick Gianasi, David Warbeck, Ugo Pagliani, Leo Daniel, Alida Valli, Geoffrey Copleston, Linnea Quigley, Giorgio Albertazzi, Rossano Brazzi, Ciccio Ingrassia, Donald Pleasence, Angus Scrimm. Incredible horror over-indulgence features Italian singer Stella (née Di Giandomenico) as a pop star (what else?) whose latest music video director Gianasi is haunted by the killing of his wife. In Rome, the same killer seems to be threatening the crew and filming his victims. An unsuccessful attempt to revive the Italian horror film (more or less dead since 1991), ambitious perhaps, but slowly paced and fatally overlong. At least, director Festa (Stella’s spouse) tries to stage this stylishly, with some good lighting and editing. Still, it’s simply too much (noise) and too little (plot), and practically only saved by some cameos of horror legends. Dedicated to Brazzi and Pleasence, whose last film appearance this was. Italian title: FOTOGRAMMI MORTALI.

Fatal Games (1984, USA) C-87m. ** D: Michael Elliot. Starring Sally Kirkland, Lynn Banashek, Sean Masterson, Michael O’Leary, Linnea Quigley, Christopher Mankiewicz. Some athletes who are contenders for the Olympic Games are killed off by a mad javelin thrower. Standard slasher movie, with some stylish photography and lighting, as well as a rather straight plot line (the writers seemed more interested in the hardship of training). An okay view, but tends to be boring. Also known as KILLING TOUCH, OLYMPIC NIGHTMARE.

Fatevi Vivi: La Polizia Non Interverrà (1974, ITA) C-100m. Scope ** D: Giovanni Fago. Starring Henry Silva, Rada Rassimov, Philippe Leroy, Gabriele Ferzetti, Franco Diogene, Lia Tanzi, Calisto Calisti, Paul Muller. Not-bad, little-known police movie about the kidnapping of a rich man’s daughter. Silva is the cop on the case, and he thinks Leroy is behind it all, a man with mafia-relations. Leroy then uses his connections to seek out the real kidnappers. A little unspectacular, but interesting cast makes this an okay view. 

Fatiche di Ercole, Le (1957, ITA) C-107m. Scope **½ D: Pietro Francisci. Starring Steve Reeves, Sylva Koscina, Fabrizio Mioni, Ivo Garrani, Gina Rovere. The granddaddy of all muscleman epics to follow, this one is also one of the best of its kind. Film follows the exploits of Hercules (or Ercole), as he assists Jason in finding a token of power. Plot is much too episodic and disjointed, but film buffs will savor rich production design, a rousing, bizarre score and some impeccable lighting and style effects by none other than Mario Bava (Some consider him to have been the co-director, too.). Later cut to 98m., and even 91m. English title is simply HERCULES. Immediate sequel: ERCOLE E LA REGINA DI LIDIA (1959). Followed by approximately 70 or 80 peplum epics between 1959-1964, after its release in the U.S. (in 1959) proved to be immensely successful.

Faust: Love of the Damned (2001, USA/SPA) C-101m. **½ D : Brian Yuzna. Starring Mark Frost, Isabel Brook, Jennifer Rope, Jeffrey Combs, Mònica Van Campen, Leslie Charles, Andrew Divoff. Surprisingly stylish and effective horror film from Full Moon collaborator Yuzna. Frost plays an artist who strikes a deal with the devil and becomes a razorblade-wielding killer. Plot doesn’t hold up, but direction, score, as well as gore and sex scenes will hold the interest of the devoted. Based on a graphic novel by Tim Vigil and David Quinn.

Fauve est Laché, Le (1958, FRA) 100m. ** D: Maurice Labro. Starring Lino Ventura, Estella Blain, Paul Frankeur, Alfred Adam, François Chaumette. Restaurant owner and family father Ventura is ‘per-suaded’ by the police to spy on an old friend who may have something to do with the disappearance of a formula of a special fuel. Ventura, star of over 60 films, is muscular in a typical role, but film is unexciting and badly paced. Direction is below average. Claude Sautet cowrote the screenplay. This was his first screen credit. Frédéric Dard (LES MAGICIENS) also collaborated.

Fear (1996, USA) C-98m. Scope D: James Foley. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano. Witherspoon’s first boyfriend turns out to be a psychopath who doesn’t like her daddy’s attitude. Painfully derivative and predictable thriller with no twists at all! Poor Foley’s directorial effort can’t save it. This might attract dumb (American?) teenagers.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998, USA) C-117m. M D: Terry Gilliam. Starring Johnny Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Tobey Maguire, Craig Bierko, Katherine Helmond, Mark Harmon, Tim Thomerson, Penn Jillette, Cameron Diaz, Lyle Lovett, Flea, Gary Busey, Christina Ricci, Michael Jeter, Harry Dean Stanton, Ellen Barkin. Painful, almost unbearable adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's book about his drug-induced fantasies and adventures in Las Vegas with his lawyer/buddy. Movie is one long drug trip, filmed accordingly, but utterly unpleasant and pointless. Period flavor is there (especially on the sound-track), as well as some scattered laughs, but otherwise this is bottom-of-the-barrel. Cowritten by Gilliam.

Fear City (1984, USA) C-95m. **½ D: Abel Ferrara. Starring Tom Berenger, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Scalia, Melanie Griffith, Rossano Brazzi, Rae Dawn Chong, Joe Santos, Maria Conchita Alonso. Dark, unrelenting thriller set in the New York underworld of drugs and prostitution. Berenger plays a troubled ex-boxer, whose girlfriend Griffith, a stripper, may be targeted by a psychopath that carves up her colleagues. Not exactly a rewarding experience, but Ferrara cultists may find this a must for their collection. Alternative titles: BORDER, RIPPER.

Fear in the Night (1972, GBR) C-94m. ** D: Jimmy Sangster. Starring Judy Geeson, Joan Collins, Ralph Bates, Peter Cushing. Young woman goes to live with her husband at a boys’ school and is soon stalked by a one-armed maniac. Script (co-written by the director) is not bad but teases the audience too long. Well-edited during the attack scenes. A Hammer Films production.

Fearless Hyena, The (1978, HGK) C-98m. Scope ** D: Jackie Chan. Starring Jackie Chan, Shih Tien, James Tien, Li Kuen, Yen Si-Kuan. Martial arts superstar Jackie Chan made his directorial debut with this eastern, which he also wrote and choreographed. It is about a young fighter living with his grandfather, who is hiding from an old enemy. Plot is lame (worst complaint: the pointless comic scenes), the fight scenes are first rate. Jackie’s fans will rave about their idol (his physique and styles are impressive), whereas others will shake their heads at this nonsense. Produced by Lo Wei’s production firm. Followed by a 1983 sequel.

Fearless Hyena Part II, The (1983, HGK) C-90m. M D: Lo Wei, Chan Chuen. Starring Jackie Chan, Chen Hui Lou, Shek Tien, James Tien. Producer Lo Wei’s attempt at still cashing in on Jackie Chan even after the star had left his company is almost criminal. Plot about two rivalling gangs and Jackie’s involvement is incoherent, confusing. Several scenes were filmed using a body double. Don’t watch this, not even if you are a fan.

Fearless Vampire Killers or: Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, The (1967, GBR) C-107m. Scope **** D: Roman Polanski. Starring Jack MacGowran, Roman Polanski, Sharon Tate, Alfie Bass, Ferdy Maine, Terry Downes, Ronald Lacey. Brilliant, timeless horror comedy about absent-minded professor Abronsius (unforgettable: Jack MacGowran) and his idiotic assistant Alfred (director Polanski himself), who travel to wintry Transsylvania, hoping to find ‘real vampires’. When they hear the tale of a count living in a castle in the mountains they are out to investigate. Extremely funny film’s assets are the beautiful visuals, which plunge the viewer deeply into a ghastly, rural winter and the score, which is eerie and satirical at the same time. Don’t miss it. Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe. Cut to 98m. for U.S. release. The original version, running 118m., has so far not been made available to the public. Polanski later turned the film into a stage musical, which premiered in Vienna in 1997. Alternative title: DANCE OF THE VAMPIRES.

Fear No Evil (1981, USA) C-99m. ** D: Frank LaLoggia. Starring Stefan Arngrim, Frank Birney, Barry Cooper, Daniel Eden. Occasionally stylish but pretty stupid and trashy horror movie about antichrist Arngrim and archangels’ quest to destroy him in modern day high-school setting. Might interest horror buffs, others steer clear! Features music by cult bands Sex Pistols and Talking Heads. Highly interesting for Joel Coen’s involvement in the picture; he is credited as assistant editor. Also known as MARK OF THE BEAST.

Feeling Minnesota (1996, USA) C-99m. Scope M D: Steven Baigelman. Starring Keanu Reeves, Vincent D’Onofrio, Cameron Diaz, Delroy Lindo, Courtney Love, Tuesday Weld, Dan Aykroyd. Ex-con Reeves returns to his family on the day of his brother D’Onofrio’s marriage to prostitute Diaz, who’s been forced to marry by her pimp. Quiet unexpectedly Reeves and Diaz fall in love and take it on the lam. Hopelessly muddled script tries to copy TRUE ROMANCE and PULP FICTION but does not manage to include one single likeable character in the plot. The result is a downbeat mess which goes on and on and on, with forced comic relief. The only interest springs from the cast, but you are better advised to stay away. Danny De Vito coproduced. The title was inspired by a Soundgarden song, if anyone cares.

Felicia’s Journey (1999, CDN/FRA) C-115m. Scope ***½ D : Atom Egoyan. Starring Bob Hoskins, Arsinée Khanjian, Elaine Cassidy, Sheila Reid, Nizwar Karanj, Ali Yassine, Peter McDonald. Director Egoyan’s follow-up to THE SWEET HEREAFTER (1997) is equally brooding, fascinating psycho drama. A young Irish girl (Cassidy) comes to England to search for her lover, who has obviously abandoned her and finds herself courted by a kind, soft-spoken stranger, catering manager Hoskins. He offers to help in her desperate situation and slowly wins the girl’s trust… just as his true nature is revealed to the audience. Meticulously, masterfully directed, richly textured psycho drama puts Egoyan in the league of a Claude Chabrol. Impressive visuals, good acting, and an unsettling score (by Mychael Danna – THE ICE STORM, GIRL, INTERRUPTED) make this a must. Some critics remarked on (underlying) simpleness of story – this is the cinematic way of making a simple story terrific. Egoyan also scripted, from the novel by William Trevor.

Felidae (1994, GER) C-81m. ** D: Michael Schaack. Voices of Ulrich Tukur, Mario Adorf, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Helge Schneider, Uwe Ochsenknecht. Watchable animated feature, based on a novel by Akif Pirinçci. A cat, from whose point of view the story is told, moves into a new house with his owner. He finds out there’s a serial (cat) killer in the neighborhood and decides to unveil his identity. Pretty dark and violent, this animated film is not for children, since it also contains a sex scene(!). Plot is too self-conscious, and the animation is just average. Set in London.

Félins, Les (1963, FRA) 96m. Scope ***½ D: René Clément. Starring Jane Fonda, Alain Delon, Lola Albright, Sorrell Booke, Carl Studer, André Oumansky. Enticing, atmospheric psycho thriller-drama: Delon is fleeing from the wrath of an American businessman, whose wife he had an affair with. On the Riviera he meets two women (Fonda, Albright) who help out in an organisation for the poor, and becomes their driver. At their beautiful estate Delon tries to seduce Albright, while Fonda seems to have the hots for him. The women, however, have other things in mind. Subtle, well-directed, with stylish photography by Henri Decaë and an exceptional score by Lalo Schifrin. Takes some time to get where it’s going, but the ending is well-worth the wait. The two stars were never more ravishing. Fonda is especially enthralling. Based on the novel Joy House by Day Keene. Costa-Gavras is credited as assistant director. Highly recommended to fans of French thriller dramas (like me), others may find this less compelling. English titles: JOY HOUSE, and THE LOVE CAGE.

Felix – Ein Hase auf Weltreise (2005, GER/ITA) C-85m. ** D: Giuseppe Maurizio Laganà. Featuring the voices of Hugo Egon Balder, Uschi Glas. Rather weak animated feature about plush bunny Felix, who gets lost during one vacation and tries to get back to his owner. On his way back he has many adventures, including encounters with the Yeti, Nessy, and Captain Nemo. Episodic, inoffensive script, with animation that was standard in the 1980s. For the smallest viewers. Director Laganà was animator for the Italian animation classic ALLEGRA NON TROPPO (1977).

Felix 2 – Der Hase und die Verflixte Zeitmaschine (2006, GER) C-82m. ** D: Giuseppe Maurizio Laganà. Starring (the voices of) Patrick Flecken, Helmut Markwort, Sunnyi Melles, Christiane Paul, Barbara Rudnik. Sequel to FELIX – EIN HASE AUF WELTREISE (2005) gives you more of the same sub-standard animation, episodic plot. The bunny gets catapulted through time and meets cave dwellers in the Stone Age, Vikings and Egyptians among others. A slight improvement over the first movie, but still nothing to get excited about. Really belongs on TV.

Female Trouble (1975, USA) C-98m. *** D: John Waters. Starring Divine, David Lochary, Mary Vivian Pearce, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, Cookie Mueller, Susan Walsh. Terrific Waters satire about one Dawn Davenport (Divine), who quits school at sixteen and turns to a life of crime. Fast-paced script by Waters with brilliant dialogues makes this film fascinating, when it easily could have been repulsive. Unpretentious, no-holds-barred look at life, with comically bizarre situations, and in the center cult star Divine in a sensational performance. Warning: Film contains enough nudity (male and female), violence (gore) and profanity to be considered offensive by some viewers.

Femme à Coté, La (1981, FRA) C-106m. *** D : Francois Truffaut. Starring Gérard Depardieu, Fanny Ardant, Henri Garcin, Michèle Baumgartner, Veronique Silver. Thoughtful drama detailing the relationship between Depardieu and Ardant (both married) as they resume their affair years after they broke up. Good, well-acted character study, similar to the love dramas by Claude Chabrol. Cowritten by the director. English title: THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR.

Femme de Chambre du Titanic, La (1997, FRA/ITA/GER/SPA) C-100m. Scope ** D: Bigas Luna. Starring Olivier Martinez, Romane Bohringer, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, Didier Bezace, Aldo Maccione. Glossy love drama about French factory worker Martinez, who wins a trip to see the departure of the Titanic and falls in love with chambermaid Sánchez-Gijón on the luxury liner. When he returns he spins wild tales about an affair with that woman before an ever-increasing crowd of listeners, much to the chagrin of his wife Bohringer. Nice to look at, well-produced but lacks any dramatic impact whatsoever (to say nothing about nudity). Not even worth comparing to James Cameron’s TITANIC, which premiered the same year. Based on the novel by Didier Decoin, screenplay cowritten by the director. English title: THE CHAMBERMAID OF THE TITANIC.

Femme Fatale (2002, FRA) C-110m. **½ D: Brian De Palma. Starring Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas, Peter Coyote, Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute, Gregg Henry. Romijn-Stamos plays the title character, a cunning blonde bombshell, who cheats her partners out of a diamond loot (stolen during a premiere at the Cannes film festival). She gets a chance at erasing her traces when she is mistaken for a missing woman and accepts her identity. But that’s just the beginning of a serpentine story. Stylish, typical De Palma thriller recalls his 1976 OBSESSION (among other films), but plot twists are so outrageous at times (and illogical) that the whole film becomes overtly artificial. Romijn-Stamos is hot, make no mistake. This film will produce varying responses – buffs will find it interesting, others will be frustrated early on. Sandrine Bonnaire appears as herself (in the Cannes festival scenes). Written by the director.

Femme Infidèle, La (1968, FRA/ITA) C-98m. ***½ D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Stéphane Audran, Michel Bouquet, Michel Duchaussoy, Maurice Ronet, Henri Attal, Dominique Zardi. Excellent drama by Chabrol, cold and low-key but engrossing and ultimately shattering. Bouquet suspects his wife Audran of being unfaithful and hires a private detective to prove it. Is there a way of mending their broken relationship? Fascinating character study by one of the great French directors, made at the peak of his faculties. Brilliant, bizarre score by Pierre Jansen. Not for all tastes but undeniably powerful. The story unfolds not so much on screen as in the viewer’s head. Written by the director. English title: UNFAITHFUL WIFE.

Femmine Insaziabili (1969, ITA/GER) C-103m. *½ D: Alberto de Martino. Starring Dorothy Malone, Robert Hoffmann, Luciana Paluzzi, Frank Wolff, John Ireland, Roger Fritz, Romina Power, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Rainer Basedow. A murder happens and the dead man’s friend starts to investigate, meddling with a chemicals company and some former lovers of the deceased. A murder mystery set in the United States, and made to look and feel like an American movie, but the realism takes away most of the appeal. It’s poorly paced as well, and the story isn’t compelling. Only the mystery angle loosely connects this to the giallo genre. Notable only for some late 60s psychedelia, especially an orgy sequence commented on by then-17-year-old Romina Power (Tyrone’s daughter), who later appears nude. Bruno Nicolai’s moody score is not enough to make this watchable. English titles: BEVERLY HILLS, and THE INSATIABLES.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992, USA/AUS) C-76m. *** D: Bill Kroyer. Starring (the voices of) Tim Curry, Samantha Mathis, Christian Slater, Jonathan Ward, Robni Williams, Grace Zabriskie, Geoffrey Blake, Robert Pastorelli, Cheech Marin, Thomas Chong. Ecologically-minded animated feature about fairy-like creatures who live in a part of the rainforest, which is about to be destroyed. One of the workers is shrunk to their size and finds out about their cause. Unfortunately, there’s also an evil spirit released from his tree prison, who wants to destroy the fairy folk. If it wasn’t for the slapstick and whimsy, this would get fairly close to the work by Studio Ghibli. Still, an interesting, well-made adventure with an important message. Score by Alan Silvestri. Followed by a 1998 video sequel.

Festen (1998, DAN) C-105m. *** D: Thomas Vinterberg. Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Henning Moritzen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Paprika Steen, Birthe Neumann, Thomas Vinterberg. Harrowing drama about a family gathering which ends disastrously when the eldest son of patriarch Moritzen publically accuses the father of having abused him and his sister sexually when they were kids. Authentic, even painful portrayal of a dysfuctional family which sticks together despite terrible skeletons on the closet. The first of the DOGME films. Aka DOGME # 1 – FESTEN, and THE CELEBRATION.

Fierce Creatures (1997, USA) C-93m. Scope *** D: Fred Schepisi, Robert Young. Starring John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Ronnie Corbett, Carey Lowell, Robert Lindsay. Amusing comedy reunites the A FISH CALLED WANDA cast in a story about seemingly incompetent zoo keeper Cleese and American managers Curtis and Kline, who are supposed to keep an eye on him and the finances. It's not the story that counts but the funny dialogues and spirited performances. Everybody's fine in this (admittedly mild) farce. Filmed in 1995 and 1996 (with Schepisi replacing Young).

Fifth Element, The (1997, FRA) C-127m. Scope *** D: Luc Besson. Starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry, Brion James. Incredibly kitschy but hip and funny science-fiction comedy featuring Bruce Willis as taxi driver who has to save the world after beautiful alien Jovovich drops onto his cab. Story  is pure escapism, not in need of a message. Reminiscent in many ways of BLADE RUNNER, film has nothing of the classic’s dark atmosphere; it should rather be seen as its comic counterpart. Wonderful costumes by Jean-Paul Gaultier add to the fun. ‘LEON’ Jean Reno has a small role.

51st State, The (2001, USA/GBR/CDN) C-92m. **½ D: Ronny Yu. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Carlyle, Emily Mortimer, Meat Loaf, Rhys Ifans, Nick Bartlett, Angus McInnes. Free-wheelin’, rowdy action comedy about chemist Jackson, who has just created a powerful drug and wants to sell the formula for $20 million to a British dealer. Too bad there’s a female assssin after him – hired by the guy he ditched back in the States. Thriller has some furiously directed sequences but runs out of steam (and story) in the second half; watch this for curiosity sake. Jackson and Carlyle have fun in their roles. Aka FORMULA 51.

Fight Club (1999, USA) C-139m. Scope **½ D: David Fincher. Starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf. Ed Norton has a secure job, but he is dying inside. He hasn’t slept for weeks and starts going to evenings organised by the Methodist church for the terminally ill. One day a man (Pitt) enters his life and changes it completely. They become the founders of the Fight Club, a secret organization with its own codex, where men can get rid of their aggressions by fighting one-on-one. Fascinating to a certain degree, technically first-rate, but plot lacks credibility and the twist in the second half of the picture is not as effective as intended. Worth a look for fans of director Fincher (SE7EN, THE GAME), others may be put off by the violent scenes.

Fight for Survival (1977, HGK) C-100m. Scope D: Hour Jeng. Starring Shang Kuan Ling-Fen, Kar-Ling, Wang Tao, Yuen Si Woo, Lee-Lin Lin. Dull, slow eastern about a young girl who wishes to learn the art of Kung Fu. When she is rejected at the Shaolin monastery, she seeks help from an old eremite, who makes her a master. She then goes on to retrieve stolen book of the Shaolin from several villlains. Fights are not exciting, plotting too redundant. Also known as LADY WU TANG.

Figlia di Frankenstein, La (1971, ITA) C-83m. ** D: Mel Welles, Aureliano Luppi. Starring Joseph Cotten, Rosalba Neri, Paul Muller, Paul Whiteman, Herbert Fux, Mickey Hargitay. Cotten plays Dr. Frankenstein, whose daughter Neri – an M.D. herself – takes over his laboratory when the monster kills him. Low-budget horror tries to be atmospheric, and score is not bad, but plot is poorly paced. Watchable for Euro horror fanatics, others may not be so forgiving. Cotten went on to make GLI ORRORI DEL CASTELLO DI NORIMBERGA (BARON BLOOD) with Mario Bava. Sergio Martino was camera operator. Uncut print runs a few minutes longer.  Alternative titles: LADY FRANKENSTEIN, MADAME FRANKENSTEIN, and DAUGHTER OF FRANKENSTEIN.

Final Destination (2000, USA) C-98m. ** D: James Wong. Starring Devon Sawa, Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Seann William Scott, Tony Todd. Teenager Sawa has a frightening premonition of a plane crash and therefore leaves his jet to Paris in panic. When the plane really crashes, he is faced with the disbelief of the police and friends, as well as a dark force that is trying to kill all survivors. Stupid, illogical horror movie that somehow remains watchable due to effective direction and editing.

Final Programme, The (1973, GBR) C-89m. *½ D: Robert Fuest. Starring Jon Finch, Jenny Runacre, Hugh Griffith, Patrick Magee, Sterling Hayden, Harry Andrews. Daredevil, globetrotter, intellectual Jerry Cornelius (Finch) is faced with the possible end of the world and sets out to investigate the so-called Final Programme, which was designed to survive the Apocalypse. Science-fiction, based on the novel by Michael Moorcock, is much too pretentious and confusing to score any high points. A curio nevertheless, and as such it inspired a cult. From the director of the DR. PHIBES movies. Released in the U.S. as THE LAST DAYS OF MAN ON EARTH (at 79/81m.).

Final Terror, The (1983, USA) C-82m. **½ D: Andrew Davis. Starring John Friedrich, Adrian Zmed, Ernest Harden Jr., Lewis Smith, Rachel Ward, Daryl Hannah, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Metcalf. Slasher movie in the vein of FRIDAY THE 13TH is actually better than most of the series’ films. A group of teenagers intend to spend an idyllic weekend in the woods, but unfortunately there’s a mental health clinic nearby. Could their psychopathic driver (Pantoliani) be involved? Direction, screenplay, photography, score, acting are quite good, the story could have been a little more exciting and compelling. Director Davis also photographed the picture (using the pseudonym A. Davidescu). Coproduced by Samuel Z. Arkoff.

Finders Keeper, Lovers Weepers (1968, USA) C-74m. **½ D: Russ Meyer. Starring Anne Chapman, Paul Lockwood, Duncan McLeod, Gordon Wescourt, Robert Rudelson, Lavelle Roby, Jay Sinclair, John Furlong. Sex-and-crime melodrama about night club owner Lockwood, whose wife is enraged by his nightly escapades and becomes a topless dancer herself. And then some crooks decide to rob his bar. Above-average time-killer, with Meyer showing some style in editing, photography and direction.

Finding Nemo (2003, USA) C-100m. *** D: Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich. Starring the voices of Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, Willem Dafoe, Geoffrey Rush, Elizabeth Perkins, Barry Humphries, Eric Bana, Bruce Spence, John Ratzenberger. Huge Disney/Picar hit about a clownfish (voiced by Brooks), whose only son gets caught by a scuba diver. The worried father embarks on an adventure trek across the Pacific to find his son and win back his trust, which he forfeited earlier. Hectic, overly aggressive, and endowed with too many unlikely plot twists, but has first-rate animation and a lot of funny scenes. Not the masterpiece it was labelled, but good fun. Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature.

Finding Neverland (2004, GBR/USA) C-101m. Scope **½ D: Marc Forster. Starring Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Radha Mitchell, Dustin Hoffman. Sort-of biography of the creator of Peter Pan, writer J.M. Barrie (played by Depp). In turn-of-the-century London, the poet lives in a unhappy marriage and finds himself drawn to single mother Winslet, whose four sons ultimately provide the inspiration for Barrie’s best-known work. Good performances, but Barrie’s motivations are superficially dealt with only, and the emotional impact is muted. Based on a play by Allan Knee. Oscar-winner for Best Score.

Fine Madness, A (1966, USA) C-104m. **½ D: Irvin Kershner. Starring Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward, Jean Seberg, Patrick O’Neal, Colleen Dewhurst, Renee Taylor, Werner Peters, Jackie Coogan. Irreverent, radical poet Connery, always in need of money, plagues society with violent outbursts. His wife Woodward thinks only a psychiatrist can help him. So-so filmization of the satirical novel by Elliot Baker. Not funny enough but well-acted and generally not without interest. Screenplay by the author.

Fingers (1978, USA) C-91m. ***½ D: James Toback. Starring Harvey Keitel, Jim Brown, Danny Aiello. Concert pianist Keitel spends his life cashing back money his father has lent. Potent, absorbing drama about a man whose life slowly loses its meaning; he even fails playing the piano at an audition. Superb performances all around.  

Finis Hominis (1971, BRA) B&W-79m. M D: José Mohica Marins. Starring José Mohica Marins, Teresa Sodré, Roque Rodrigues, Rosângela Maldonado, Mario Lima. Writer-director-actor Marins (COFFIN JOE) delivers utter trash with this story about a christ-like persona, who shocks people at first, but then turns out to be kind of a savior. Use of music is almost completely inappropriate, technically it’s a mess, often laughably bad. With this Marins puts himself in a league with Jess Franco, or even Ed Wood! English subtitle: THE END OF MAN.

Fino alla Morte (1987, ITA) C-97m. *** D: Lamberto Bava. Starring Gioia Scola, David Brandon, Marco Vivio, Urbano Barnerini. Interesting variation of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE about Brandon (AQUARIUS) and Scola, who murdered Scola’s husband six years ago and must now contend with her son’s nightmares and the arrival of a stranger (Barberini, OPERA) who might know something about the case. Bava expectedly adds horror elements, although this is one of his more subtle works – and one of his best. Slightly overlong, not consistently good, but a must for fans of obscure movies. Cowritten by the director. Score by Simon Boswell. English title: UNTIL DEATH

Fiocco Nero per Deborah, Un (1974, ITA) C-104m. Scope ** D: Marcello Andrei. Starring Bradford Dillman, Marina Malfatti, Gig Young, Delia Boccardo, Lucretia Love. Deeply troubled twenty-something Malfatti would love to have a baby but she finds her husband Dillman off-putting. Then she starts having premonitions about impending deaths. Interesting psycho horror has nice directorial touches and an incredibly varied score (by Alberto Verrecchia), but pace is leaden, and script – an obvious imitation or rather variation of ROSEMARY’S BABY (1968) – provides no thrills. Buffs should give this one a look, others beware. English titles: BLACK RIBBON FOR DEBORAH, and simply DEBORAH.

Fio do Horizonte, O (1993, POR/SPA/FRA) C-92m. *** D: Fernando Lopes. Starring Claude Brasseur, Andréa Ferréol, Ana Padrao, Antonio Valero, Miguel Guilherme, Nicolau Breyner, Lúis Santos. Intriguing psycho drama about pathologist Brasseur, who who day dissects a male body that somehow looks like him when he was much younger. He finds a photograph among the personal items and starts to become obsessed with finding out the identity of the man, who was shot near the Lisbon harbor. Awfully slow but consistently interesting, with a startling conclusion. Not for all tastes, but photography, score, acting are flawless. Based on a novel by Antonio Tabucchi. French title: LE FIL DE L’HORIZON.

Fiore dai Petali d’Acciaio, Il (1973, ITA/SPA) C-89m. SCOPE *** D: Gianfranco Piccioli. Starring Gianni Garko, Carroll Baker, Ivano Staccioli, Pilar Velázquez, Paolo Senatore, Umberto Raho. Garko plays a surgeon, who accidentally kills his lover Senatore, when he pushes her away from him into the titular steel sculpture. He gets rid of the corpse, unaware that he has been followed. His estranged wife Baker asks police detective Staccioli for help. Complicated plot will have you guessing until the very last scene. Not one of the best examples of the giallo genre, but a must for fans anyway. English titles: THE FLOWER WITH PETALS OF STEEL, and THE FLOWER WITH THE DEADLY STING.

Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte, Il (1974, ITA/FRA) C-131m. **½ D: Pier Paolo Pasolini. Starring Ninetto Davoli, Franco Citti, Tessa Bouché, Margaret Clementi, Ines Pellegrini, Franco Merli. The last part of Pasolini’s Medieval trilogy, following IL DECAMERON and I RACCONTI DI CANTERBURY (all prototypical examples of the cyclical framed narrative, i.e. stories-within-stories). A loosely structured, often fascinating fantasy about a youth who falls in love with a slavegirl and spends the length of the film looking for her. In between, several stories from the Arabian Nights are interspersed. Pasolini doesn’t manage to instill much meaning into his erotic fantasy, but authentic locations and imagery compensate for story-telling flaws. For patient viewers. Includes male and female full frontal nudity. Original version runs 155m. English titles: ARABIAN NIGHTS, FLOWER OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS.

Fire and Ice (1983, USA) C-81m. *** D: Ralph Bakshi. Starring the voices of Susan Tyrrell, Maggie Roswell, Stephen Mendel, Alan Koss, William Ostrander. Quite appealing sword and sorcery epic – made a year after CONAN’s box-office-success, about two warring tribes and a young warrior’s attempt to defeat the Ice Lord. Medium plot is outdone by dynamic animation (by Bakshi and the famed Frank Frazetta), which lets the characters move very realistically. A must for buffs.

Firecracker (2005, USA) C/B&W-106m. SCOPE ** D: Steve Balderson. Starring Karen Black, Mike Patton, Susan Traylor, Kathleen Wilhoite, Jak Kendall, Brooke Balderson, Paul Sizemore. David Lynch wannabe set in a small-town community in the 1960s and based on a true story. Teen Kendall suffers from a dysfunctional family, his mother (Black) is a religious fanatic, his father an alcoholic and his brother a brute. When a circus comes to town, he puts all his hopes in joining them as he is fascinated by their lead performer (also Black). A hope that is ultimately shattered. Tries hard to be stylish, with black-and-white sequences, use of slow-motion and flamboyant characters, but story is slowly-paced and none too interesting. Undermined mostly by Kendall’s ambitious but amateur performance.

First Blood (1982, USA) C-97m. Scope ** D: Ted Kotcheff. Starring Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Brian Dennehy, Bill McKinney, Jack Starrett, Michael Talbott, David Caruso. Stallone plays a vietnam vet returning to his home country, who is hassled by officer Dennehy and the local police force so much that he is transported back into the traumatic time in Vietnam. He escapes from the police station and hides out in the woods, his special training making it almost impossible for the cops to catch him. Incredibly dumb action thriller somehow made it to cult status, probably thanks to Stallone’s tense performance. Watchable, but rather dull. Stallone also coscripted, from the novel by David Morrell. Score by Jerry Goldsmith. Known simply as RAMBO in many other countries. Followed by RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985), RAMBO III (1988) and a TV series in 1986.

First Great Train Robbery, The (1979, GBR) C-111m. Scope *** D: Michael Crichton. Starring Sean Connery, Lesley-Anne Down, Donald Sutherland, Alan Webb, Malcolm Terris, Wayne Sleep, Robert Lang. Title is the plot of this crime comedy about three ‘noble’ criminals who intend to steal gold from a moving train in the mid-1800s. Never terribly rousing but amusing and entertaining. Crichton wrote the screenplay from his own novel, which was based on a true incident. Well-produced by Dino de Laurentiis. U.S. title: THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY.

First Mission (1985, HGK) C-91m. Scope **½ D: Samo Hung. Starring Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, Chan Lung, Dick Wei, James Tien, Phillip Ko, Emily Chu, Wu Ma, Corey Yuen, Melvin Wong. Jackie Chan plays a cop who must look after his retarded brother Hung. Things are complicated when the dumb giant accidentally gets hold of a bag full of jewelry – something the local gangsters want badly. Action-comedy-drama offers a welcome change of pace for a Jackie Chan movie, but plot is uneven and doesn’t really integrate its different elements well. The final fights are excellent – as usual with Hung movies. Worthwhile for Jackie and Samo’s fans. Also known as HEART OF THE DRAGON.

First Snow (2006, USA/GER) C-102m. **½ D: Mark Fergus. Starring Guy Pearce, Piper Perabo, William Fichtner, J.K. Simmons, Shea Whigham, Rick Gonzalez, Jackie Burroughs. Pearce plays an aggressive travelling salesman, who decides to have his palm read while his car is being repaired but doesn’t like the outcome. Obviously the palm reader has seen something not right in his future. Should Pearce believe him, or go his own ways? Soon several coincidences show that the palm reader was right. Existential psycho drama with echoes of MEMENTO (2000) never cuts loose but remains interesting, evocative. Fichtner lends credible support as Pearce’s colleague. Good score by Cliff Martinez.

Fisher King, The (1991, USA) C-137m. ***½ D: Terry Gilliam. Starring Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer, David Hyde Pierce, Adam Bryant, Paul Lombardi, Ted Ross, Lara Harris, Harry Shearer, Michael Jeter, Richard LaGravanese, Mel Bourne, Tom Waits. Wonderful comedy drama about cynical, self-centered radio DJ Bridges, who loses his job when one of his callers goes on a killing spree. Three years later, he meets crazy homeless Williams, who claims to be on a quest to get the Holy Grail – on New York’s Fifth Avenue! Bridges is reluctant to help, but when he learns that he is indirectly responsible for the man’s mental state, he tries to help Williams and thus redeem himself. Brilliantly acted slice-of-life, filled with amazing fantasy touches and a heart-warming central message recounted in film’s titular story-within-a-story. Outstanding. An Oscar went to Ruehl for her incredible performance. Fine score by George Fenton.

Fist of Fury (1972, HGK) C-106m. Scope *** D: Lo Wei. Starring Bruce Lee, Nora Miao, Jun Arimura, Robert Baker, Fu Ching Chen, Tony Liu, Lo Wei. Bruce Lee’s best film transcends its simple revenge formula thanks to the legendary star’s charisma. When Lee finds out that his teacher has been killed, he seeks ultra-violent vengeance on the killers – and takes on an entire martial-arts school! Good production design, slowly paced but not uninteresting plot. Lee went on to make ENTER THE DRAGON, his biggest commercial success. Also known as THE CHINESE CONNECTION.

Fiume del Grande Caimano, Il (1979, ITA) C-87m. M D: Sergio Martino. Starring Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli, Mel Ferrer, Romano Puppo, Richard Johnson. Terrible monster movie about a giant crocodile wreaking havoc in a small Caribbean community. Cast and crew must have been on holiday. This was cowritten by George Eastman! Also known as ALLIGATORS, BIG ALLIGATOR RIVER, BIG CAIMANO RIVER, GREAT ALLIGATOR (RIVER).

Five Corners (1988, USA) C-94m. ***½ D: Tony Bill. Starring Tim Robbins, Todd Graf, Jodie Foster, John Turturro, Elizabeth Berridge, Rose Gregorio, Gregory Rozakis, John Seitz, Eriq La Salle. In 1964, a time of racial turmoil in the States, Five Corners in the Bronx is the scene for dramatic events itself, as Turturro, recently released from prison, tries to attract the attention of young Foster, whom he tried to rape months earlier. She is hoping to get help from friend Robbins, who protected her last time but has sworn to live a life without violence. Well-written period drama flavorfully captures the mood of the 1960s without relying too much on oldies of the time. Superbly scored (by James Newton Howard) and superbly acted (especially by Turturro), film is perhaps too dramatic and unrelenting but a remarkably moving achieve-ment nevertheless. Co-produced by the director. Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley (MOONSTRUCK).

Five Deadly Venoms (1978, HGK) C-97m. Scope ** D: Chang Cheh. Starring Chiang Sheng, Philip Kwok, Lu Feng, Wei Pai, Sun Chien, Lo Meng. Considered by some to be a genre classic, this Chang Cheh eastern starts out interestingly, then becomes talky and confusing. A dying master tells his last student about five of his best students – each endowed with an invincible fighting technique – and instructs him to stop them from stealing money amassed by his clan. Even the fight scenes are average at best. Also known as FIVE VENOMS, and PICK YOUR POISON.

(500) Days of Summer (2009, USA) C-95m. SCOPE **½ D: Marc Webb. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler. Bitter-sweet romantic drama about two twens who meet on the job and start a brief fling. For him, it’s true love, for her it’s not, and film chronicles the 500 days of their relationship. Quite refreshing approach, but ultimately downbeat, Deschanel’s cuteness can’t save it. The tacked-on happy ending doesn’t ring true, although it is kind of funny.

Five Masters of the Shaolin (1975, HGK) C-81m. Scope ** D: Chang Cheh. Starring Alexander Fu-Sheng. Kung Fu film by genre expert Chang features lots of violent action but fails to awake much interest with its plot: Five Shaolin monks are the only ones to survive a Manchu raid and swear to take revenge. Patient viewers will find compensation in the showdown - the best part of the film.

Flatland (2007, USA) C-95m. Scope *** D: Ladd Ehlinger Jr. Starring (the voices of) Chris Carter, Megan Colleen, Ladd Ehlinger Jr., Oscar Gutierrez, Simon Hammond. Highly interesting computer-animated experiment about a two-dimensional world, where society is divided into triangles, squares etc. One day the protagonist, an A square, is kidnapped by a sphere who intends to show him the wonders of 3-D. However, there is an impending war, because the Spacelanders want to wipe out the Flatlanders. Difficult to tune in to unconventional story and concept, with a strange, satirical written commentary, but story takes you in, and voice performances and score are professionally done. Based on an 1885 novel by  mathematician Edwin A. Abbott, which was previously filmed as short movies in 1965 and 1982. Later in 2007, another short film version premiered, this was titled FLATLAND: THE MOVIE.

Flatliners (1990, USA) C-115m. Scope *** D: Joel Schumacher. Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, Hope Davis. A group of ambitious medical students start experimenting with the afterlife by ‘flatlining’ themselves (i.e. stopping their heartbeat for a few minutes). Soon after, however, they start having terrifying visions. Is the afterlife ‘visiting’ them? Intriguing thriller marks a stylish collaboration between director Schumacher (THE LOST BOYS) and cameraman Jan de Bont (SPEED). Plot isn’t always on-target, but some strong scenes make it worthwhile. Contains one riveting reference to Nicholas Roeg’s chiller DON’T LOOK NOW (1973), which starred Sutherland’s father Donald. Coproduced by Michael Douglas.

Flavia, la Monaca Musulmana (1974, ITA/FRA) C-101m. *½ D: Gianfranco Mingozzi. Starring Florinda Bolkan, María Casares, Claudio Cassinelli, Anthony Corlan (=Higgins), Spiros Fócas. Infamous classic of ‘nunsploitation’ is a historical drama about a 15th century nun (Bolkan), who finds herself attracted by the Muslim religion and feels repelled by the sexual activity around her. ‘Plot’ is merely an excuse for graphic torture scenes and nudity, when it’s not boring you to death with endless close-ups of Bolkan’s face. Also known as FLAVIA THE HERETIC, FLAVIA THE REBEL NUN, FLAVIA, PRIESTESS OF VIOLENCE, FLAVIA: HERETIC PREISTESS, and THE MUSLIM NUN.

Fleisch (1979, GER) C-113m. **½ D: Rainer Erler. Starring Jutta Speidel, Wolf Roth, Herbert Herrmann, Charlotte Kerr, Bob Cunningham. Honeymoon turns into Nightmare when Speidel’s husband (Herrmann) is abducted by an ambulance in New Mexico — for no apparent reason. She manages to flee and is picked up by trucker Roth, who helps her find out about the kidnapping. It turns out that someone is trading with human organs. Well-photographed thriller with an intelligent story (years ahead of its time) is dramatically uneven and keeps the viewer in the dark for too long. It also lacks any genuine thrills. Made for German television. Scripted by the director, based on his novel. U.S. title: SPARE PARTS.

Flesh + Blood (1985, USA) C-126m. Scope *** D: Paul Verhoeven. Starring Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson, Jack Thompson, Susan Tyrrell, Brion James, Bruno Kirby. Action spectacle set in medieval times follows the exploits of a horde of outlaws headed by Hauer, who has just kidnapped young princess Leigh. Not very distinguished in terms of plot, but Verhoeven’s rousing direction makes the difference. Lots of sex and gore may turn off conservative viewers.

Flesh and Blood Show, The (1972, GBR) C-93m. *½ D: Pete Walker. Starring Jenny Hanley, Ray Brooks, Luan Peters, Judy Matheson, Robin Askwith, Patrick Barr. Some young actors are invited to a run-down theater in a deserted town and must find out that there’s a mad killer stalking them by night. Poorly directed, not at all as interesting as it sounds, only the denouement shows some brains – too late. Watch THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973) instead. A flashback sequence is in black-and-white. Also known as ASYLUM OF THE INSANE.

Flesh and the Fiends, The (1959, GBR) 91m. Scope **½ D: John Gilling. Starring Peter Cushing, June Laverick, Donald Pleasance, George Rose, Renee Houston, Dermot Walsh. Unusual mixture of horror and crime drama about doctor Cushing, who employs grave robbers to supply him with fresh corpses for his experiments. Will medical student Rose find out? Less sensationalistic than other chillers, this one works itself through to a moral conclusion and cannot really be called a horror film. Atmospheric and well-acted, though pacing and plot are uneven. Judge for yourself. Several versions of this film are in existence: MANIA (running 87/91m.), THE FIENDISH GHOULS (74m.) and PSYCHO KILLERS. Original uncut version runs 97m.

Flesh Eating Mothers (1989, USA) C-89m. M D: James Aviles Martin. Starring Robert Lee Oliver, Donatella Hecht, Neal Rosen. Valorie Hubbard. A virus is infecting all female members of a suburban community and turns them into zombies. Lots of splatter mayhem ensues. Atrocious acting and amateurish direction kill this off before anyone gets killed in the movie. Director Martin’s only effort for the cinema (thank goodness!). Don’t mix this up with the slightly better RABID GRANNIES (see MEMES CANNIBALES).

Flesh for Frankenstein (1974, USA/ITA/FRA) C-89m. Scope ** D: Paul Morrissey, Antonio Margheriti. Starring Joe Dallesandro, Monique van Vooren, Udo Kier, Arno Juerging, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Srdjan Zelenovic, Nicoletta Elmi. Producer Andy Warhol’s take on the Frankenstein myth is ponderous, awfully slow. Baron Kier attempts to create a man and a woman who should produce offspring. If you don’t fall asleep, you might savor the melancholy score (by Claudio Gizzi), and Luigi Kuveiller’s cinematography. Otherwise, this is heavy-handed. Carlo Ponti coproduced, effects by Carlo Rambaldi. Ubaldo Terzano (one of Mario Bava’s regular collaborators) is credited as camera operator. Originally filmed in 3-D. Uncut print runs 95m. Filmed back-to-back with BLOOD FOR DRACULA (1974). Also known as ANDY WARHOL’S FRANKENSTEIN, THE DEVIL AND DR. FRANKENSTEIN, THE FRAKNENSTEIN EXPERIMENT, and simply FRANKENSTEIN.

Flesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders (1990, USA) C-102m. *½ D: Howard T. Ziehm. Starring Vince Murdocco, Robyn Kelly, Tony Travis, Morgan Fox. Pure trash about the title character, some kind of superhero - in bed -, who is abducted by the Cosmic Cheerleaders, whose planet was hit by an imptence beam. Gordon is captured by creator of this beam, who wants to make a penis transplant! Some funny bits, but otherwise unbearably nonsensical. Sequel to the 1974 sex comedy FLESH GORDON. Edited by Joe (Giuseppe) Tornatore (CINEMA PARADISO)!

Fleur du Mal, La (2003, FRA/ITA) C-104m. **½ D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Benoît Magimel, Nathalie Baye, Mélanie Doutey, Suzanne Flon, Bernard Le Coq, Thomas Chabrol, Henri Attal. Typical Chabrol crime drama, though heavy-handed at times: Baye plays a local politician, whose campaign is torpedoed by a letter that discloses some outrageous facts about her family history. Who is behind it, and how will the family deal with it? Typically well-directed, well-acted drama is of medium interest only. Just doesn’t add up to more. English title: THE FLOWER OF EVIL.

Flic, Un (1972, FRA/ITA) C-99m. **½ D: Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring Alain Delon, Richard Crenna, Cathérine Deneuve, Ricardo Cucciolla, Simone Valère, Michael Conrad. Slow crime drama about police detective Delon trying to catch a gang of criminals led by Crenna. Uninvolving and superficial, although the cast is good, and there are some fine directorial touches. Last film of famed director Melville (LE SAMOURAI, LE CERCLE ROUGE). English title: DIRTY MONEY.

Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac (1984, USA) C-94m. D: Robert Michael Lewis. Starring Jeanetta Arnette, Barry Corbin, Stephen Macht, Richard Masur, Donnelly Rhodes, Jamie Rose. The AIRPORT formula gets the TV treatment in this low-grade, boring disaster thriller based on a real incident. The lives of the airplane victims are followed before the airplane crash and their desperate struggle for survival in the icy (styrofoam) Potomac river. Poor in all departments. Also known as FLIGHT NO. 90, FLORIDA FLIGHT 90.

Flipper’s New Adventure (1964, USA) C-95m. **½ D: Leon Benson. Starring Luke Halpin, Pamela Franklin, Helen Cherry, Tom Helmore, Francesca Annis, Brian Kelly. Sequel to FLIPPER (1963), about a boy and his dolphin (also a TV series). When the boy learns they are about to be evicted he runs away from home and ends up on a deserted island. When three escaped convicts hijack a family’s yacht, he is joined by the mother and two daughters, one of whom he becomes friends with. Harmless adventure with nice settings. Best thing: Performance of newcomer Franklin (THE INNOCENTS, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE). Also known as FLIPPER AND THE PIRATES.

Flirt (1995, USA/GER/JAP) C-83m. ** D: Hal Hartley. Starring Bill Sage, Parker Posey, Martin Donovan, Dwight Ewell, Geno Lechner, Peter Fitz, Miho Nikaidoh, Toshizo Fujisawa, Chikako Hara. Filmmaker Hartley tells three similar stories about love and relationships in three different settings, none of which is very compelling. In fact, drama becomes tedious after a while. Not without merit, but too slight.

Fluch, Der (1988, GER) C-92m. D: Ralf Huettner. Starring Dominic Raacke, Barbara May, Romina Nowack, Tobias Moretti. Pretentious mystery about an eight year-old girl with strange visions, who goes to the mountains one day with her parents, where they get lost and find the corpse of a girl that looks exactly like their little daughter. Badly acted film attempts to criticize the nonchalant attitude of tourists towards nature but comes up with a boring and improbable tale instead. Germany obviously can’t do better than this. The film got good reviews there.

Fluke (1995, USA) C-96m. ***½ D: Carlo Carlei. Starring Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Nancy Travis, Jon Polito, Ron Perlman. Stunningly beautiful and touching film (with a distinctly European flavour) about a man who is reincarnated as a dog after a fatal car crash and goes on to join his mourning family. A rich score and eye-popping production design make this a must for kids and adults alike. In its message leagues ahead of BABE. Based on James Herbert’s novel.   

Flushed Away (2006, USA) C-90m. *** D: David Bowers, Simon Fell. Starring (the voices of) Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, Andy Serkis, Shane Richie, David Bowers. Upper-class rat Jackman from London’s Kensington gets flushed down the toilet and ends up in a city in the sewer populated by rats, slugs and the like, and run by psychopathic frog McKellen. He hooks up with tough girlie Winslet, who promises to bring him back to his golden cage if he helps her in return. Starts mildly, then improves in action sequences, ends up as good fun, with many funny characters (love Le Frog) and quite a lot of laughs. First computer-animated feature from Aardman Animation after their clay-animated Wallace and Gromit classics. Contains a few nifty references as well.

Fly, The (1958, USA) C-94m. Scope *** D: Kurt Neumann. Starring Al Hedison, Patricia Owens, Vincent Price, Herbert Marshall, Kathleen Freeman. Harrowing, dramatic horror film about a scientist (Hedison) whose experiments with a disintegration machine partly turn him into a fly. Frame-story has his wife tell all that has happened to a friend (Price). Unfortunately, this means giving away the climax right at the beginning. The audience is then left with the improbability of the going-ons, but earnest acting and fine dramatics overcome these flaws. Screenplay by James Clavell. Followed by RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) and CURSE OF THE FLY (1965). Remade in 1986 by David Cronenberg.

Fly, The (1986, USA) C-95m. *** D: David Cronenberg. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, John Getz, David Cronenberg. Typical Cronenberg horror shocker about brilliant scientist Goldblum, who has devised a way to teleport items and animals. When he tries the machine on himself, a fly sneaks into the telepod causing the computer to mix up the DNAs. Slowly, the scientist finds himself transformed into a hideous insect. Ugly but well-made sci-fi horror film has become a cult item and spawned a sequel in 1989. Oscar-winner for Best Makeup. Actually a remake (with blood and guts) of the 1958 chiller starring Vincent Price.

Fly II, The (1989, USA) C-104m. ** D: Chris Walas. Starring Eric Stoltz, Daphne Zuniga, Lee Richardson, John Getz, Frank C. Turner. Needless – but not bad – sequel to David Cronenberg’s 1986 cult film. Stoltz plays Goldblum’s son, who’s aging so fast that, at 5, he looks like a grown-up. Soon his DNA will slowly transform into that of a monstrous fly creature – just what the scientists in the lab are waiting for. Some disgusting effects, okay for its type. Story by Mick Garris, screenplay co-authored by Frank Darabont.

Fog, The (1980, USA) C-89m. Scope **½ D: John Carpenter. Starring Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers, George ‘Buck’ Flower, Tommy Lee Wallace, John Carpenter. Typical Carpenter horror movie: Good production values, effective in terms of atmosphere and suspense, but also endowed with an addle-brained plot. A small coastal town is terrorized by a mysterious fog that brings back undead sailors who were misled and killed by the populace a hundred years ago. Direction and photography create chills and almost overcome the silly plot – almost. Carpenter cowrote the script with Debra Hill (also producer) and did the music, as usual. This was his first film after his breakthrough movie, HALLOWEEN (1978).

Folie des Grandeurs, La (1971, FRA/SPA/ITA/GER) C-103m. **½ D: Gérard Oury. Starring Louis de Funès, Yves Montand, Alice Sapritch, Karin Schubert, Alberto de Mendoza, Venantino Venantini, Gabriele Tinti, Paul Préboist, Sal Borgese, Leopoldo Trieste, Frank Brana, Alngel Alvarez, Fernando Bilbao. One of French comedian de Funès’ rarest films is a slight disappointment: In this adaptation of a Victor Hugo story he plays a Minister of Finance (later he would be equally greedy as L’AVARE), who gets ousted by his (German) queen in 17th century Spain. He returns with a plan to make his valet Montand (strangely miscast) a count, who the queen should fall in love with. Complicated, not always funny, though de Funès gives a full-blooded performance. Filmed partly on the sets of the Spanish/Italian spaghetti westerns with elements of the western, which makes this costume comedy even stranger. Photographed by Henri Decae. English title: DELUSIONS OF GRANDEUR.

Folies Bourgeoises, Les (1975, FRA/GER) C-107m. ** D: Claude Chabrol. Starring Ann-Margret, Henri Attal, Stéphane Audran, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Sybil Danning, Bruce Dern, Curd Jürgens, Tomas Milian, Sydne Rome, Maria Schell, Dominique Zardi, Claude Chabrol. Interesting Chabrol drama unfortunately lacks depth: The marriage of a rich couple, writer Dern and society lady Audran, deteriorates rapidly as he has a writing blockade and she is paranoid and slowly going insane. Lots of international stars appear in minor roles. Closer in spirit (and surrealism) to Luis Bunuel’s films of the 1970s than any other Chabrol movie. For Chabrol enthusiasts, others may be put off too easily by the unpleasant material. English title: THE TWIST.

Following (1998, GBR) B&W-69m. **½ D: Christopher Nolan. Starring Jeremy Theobald, Alex Haw, Lucy Russell, John Nolan, Dick Bradsell. Debut feature from the maker of MEMENTO (2000) is low-budget, but contains intriguing ideas. An aspiring writer (Theobald) spends his time following people, soon makes the acquaintance of suave burglar Haw, who breaks into the homes of the people he follows. Interesting non-linear narrative, but direction is too self-conscious and the actors not always convincing. Written by director Nolan.

Food of the Gods (1976, USA) C-88m. **½ D: Bert I. Gordon. Starring Marjoe Gortner, Pamela Franklin, Ralph Meeker, Jon Cypher, Ida Lupino. Okay eco-horror film, based on portions of H.G. Wells’ novel. Some tourists vacationing on a Canadian island are attacked by giant wasps. It turns out a mysterious liquid is responsible for the extreme growth of animals, like chicken, worms and especially rats. Occasionally dumb but well-paced with fairly exciting finale (that has overtones of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD). Effects range from unconvincing to pretty nasty. Director Gordon’s second adaptation of the Wells novel, his VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS (1965) was set in a small American community. Followed by a sequel in 1989.

Fools Rush In (1997, USA) C-109m. *** D: Andy Tennant. Starring Matthew Perry, Salma Hayek, Jon Tenney, Carlos Gomez, Tomas Milian, Jill Clayburgh. Pleasant comedy about construction site manager Perry, who has a one-night stand with Mexican photographer Hayek, and is shocked when three months later she pops up again, saying she is pregnant - and wants to keep the baby. However, what follows is a culture clash of different sorts. Amiable, if obvious romance comes to life in the last third, which is very entertaining. The soundtrack is well-compiled.

Forbidden, The (1978, GBR) 36m. n/r D: Clive Barker. Starring Peter Atkins, Clive Barker, Doug Bradley, Phil Rimmer, Lyn Darnell, Julia Blake. Horror novelist Barker’s second short (following SALOME) is an experimental, surreal, visually brooding (and for his fans certainly fascinating) extravaganza, a collage of sometimes powerful images, all presented in a ‘negative’ format. Film includes some full-frontal male nudity and can be interpreted in the context of Barker’s own sexuality. Remained unedited for nearly twenty years. Issued in a double-bill with SALOME in the mid-1990s with an entirely new, atmospheric score. Not related at all to Clive Barker’s short story ‘The Forbidden’, which was filmed as CANDYMAN in 1992.

Forbidden World (1982, USA) C-82m. D: Allan Holzman. Starring Jesse Vint, Dawn Dunlap, June Chadwick, Linden Chiles, Fox Harris. The follow-up to GALAXY OF TERROR is similarly demented ALIEN rip-off, as commander Vint battles mutant monster bred by scientists on a space station. Lots of gore, some nudity to satisfy trash fans. Seems long despite short running time. Also shown at 77m. Coproduced by Roger Corman.

Forced Entry (1975, USA) C-88m. M D: Jim Sotos. Starring Tanya Roberts, Ron Max, Nancy Allen. Sickening horror thriller about retarded car mechanic Max, who thinks each woman is a whore and goes on a killing spree. Unbearable trash. Released in 1981.

Force of the Ninja (1988, USA) C-93m. *½ D: Emmett Alston. Starring Douglas Ivan, Patricia Ball, John Hobson, Douglas Hamanaka. Lame attempt at fashioning an American ninja movie: When the daughter of a Japanese monarch is kidnapped and held for ransom in Arizona, the Asians send a ninja expert to the States to free her and kill the kidnappers. Little action, boring even for ninja fans.

Forces of Nature (1998, USA) C-108m. *½ D: N.N. Starring Ben Affleck, Sandra Bullock, Ronny Cox, Blythe Danner. Affleck travels from New York to Savannah to marry his love N.N., but the plane crashes before take-off and he is forced to share a rental car with whirligig Bullock. Needless to say, they fall in love. Kitschy romance with extremely improbable situations that were obviously meant to bring about 'entertainment'. The stars have no chemistry to speak of, and the digital effects are out of place.

Foreign Affair, A (1948, USA) 116m. *** D: Billy Wilder. Starring Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund, Millard Mitchell, Peter von Zerneck, Stanley Prager. Congresswoman Arthur travels to post-war Berlin to see how the G.I. troops are doing and brings Captain Lund in trouble when she discovers that lascivious German Nazi sympathizer Dietrich has an affair with a U.S. soldier. Meanwhile Arthur develops a particular liking for the Captain. Enjoyable comedy works thanks to a typically fine script (co-authored by Wilder) and a charismatic performance by Dietrich. Her scenes in the Lorelei bar are stunning.

Forest of Death (2007, HGK) C-98m. *½ D: Danny Pang. Starring Shu Qi, Ekin Cheng, Rain Li, Lau Siu-Ming, Suet Lam, Tommy Luen, Lawrence Chou. Awful misfire from one half of the Pang Brothers about a female police officer who investigates the mystrious suicides in a nearby forest. She ultimately teams up with an aspiring scientist, who is experimenting with a plant lie-detector. And there is a strange hermit, whose daughter died in the forest. Far-fetched, completely unbelievable esoteric babble. Some effective editing cannot save it. An utter disappointment. Oxide served as co-producer. Cantonese title: SUM YUEN.

Forest of the Damned (2005, GBR) C-83m. ** D: Johannes Roberts. Starring Tom Savini, Daniel MacIagan, Nicole Petty, Sophie Holland. What can you expect from a low-budget, independent film about roadtripping teenagers who meet nude demons in the woods? Well, it ain’t that bad. Savini gives his best as eremite who the kids also have to contend with. Direction tries for some atmosphere, but it’s all too slowly paced and barely original.

Forgotten Silver (1995, NZL) C-53m. n/r D: Peter Jackson, Costa Botes. Featuring Peter Jackson, Johnny Morris, Costa Botes, Harvey Weinstein, Leonard Maltin, Sam Neill. Director Peter Jackson (LORD OF THE RINGS) presents this straight-from-the-hip mockumentary about (fictional) pioneer of filmmaking Colin McKenzie, a New Zealander, whose work just has been rediscovered by directors and critics. His life is traced from his adolescence to the first attempts to make movies – his innovations always coming before the previous record-setting ones. Concept wears thin early on and never creates sense of wonder needed. This seems like a job director Jackson did because he had the time, not because he wanted to do it. Still, some were intrigued by it. Jackson also scripted with co-director Botes.

For Love of the Game (1999, USA) C-137m. Scope **½ D: Sam Raimi. Starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly, Jena Malone, Brian Cox. Costner shines as aging baseball pro, who looks back on his career and problems in his private life during the preparations for an important ball-game. Slick entertainment, well-filmed by Sam Raimi (of all people), falters due to overlength and a possible lack of interest from audiences who don’t happen to love baseball (which is admittedly rare in North America).

Fortabte Sjaeles ø, De (2007, DAN/SWE/GER) C-100m. SCOPE **½ D: Nikolaj Arcel. Starring Sara Langebaek Gaarmann, Lucas Munk Billing, Lasse Borg, Nicolaj Kopernikus, Lars Mikkelsen. Fantasy horror film for older children about 14-year-old Gaarmann, who moves to the Danish seaside with her mother and brother. She is interested in the occult and starts to investigate when her brother is obviously possessed by the ghost of a 19th century Freemason. It turns out a Necromancer is keeping souls trapped on a nearby island. Fairly well-made, dark and scary, but a bit derivative – especially its LORD OF THE RINGS imitation score. Good for kids. Also known as ISLAND OF LOST SOULS.

Fortress (1993, USA) C-95m. *½ D: Stuart Gordon. Starring Christopher Lambert, Kurtwood Smith, Loryn Locklin, Clifton Collins Jr., Lincoln Kilpatrick, Jeffrey Combs, Vernon Wells, voice of Carolyn Purdy-Gordon. One of director Gordon’s most expensive movies is also actually one of his worst. After Lambert’s wife becomes pregnant illegally in the near future, they are brought into a high-security prison, which no one can escape from. No one?  Violent, quite popular among genre fans, but poorly scripted sci-fi action, followed by a sequel in 1999.

40 Days and 40 Nights (2002, USA/GBR/FRA) C-96m. ** D: Michael Lehmann. Starring Josh Hartnett, Shannyn Sossamon, Paulo Costanzo, Adam Trese, Griffin Dunne. Formulaic teen comedy about every girl’s heartthrob Hartnett, who is screwing every chick he goes out with ever since he was dumped by his girlfriend. When he gets nightmares, he decides to remain chaste for 40 days and nights, not even kissing is allowed. Right then, wouldn’t you know it, he meets Mrs. Right. Low-brow comedy targeted at teens, with a main character who is 25! Not exactly original, but its target audience probably won’t mind (they pay for the sex jokes and Hartnett’s body and face).

40 Year Old Virgin, The (2005, USA) C-133m. ** D: Judd Apatow. Starring Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks. Title tells all in comedy that is not so unwatchable as you might think: Carell plays the title character, whose private life has never gone past the teenage stage. He still fondly collects action figures, cycles to work and has never… well… Not as mean-spirited as it might have been, but still goes on longer, MUCH longer than it should, with some entirely pointless scenes. A huge box-office hit, believe it or not. Originally 116m.

For Whom to Be Murdered (1978, HGK) C-76m. Scope D: Patrick Yuen. Starring Angie Chiu, Raymond Wong, Tony Wong. Poor actioner about two bumbling tourists in Hong Kong, who witness an attempted murder and are then chased by a crime syndicate. Silly comic relief, below-average fight scenes. Low-grade stuff, rightfully forgotten.

For Your Eyes Only (1981, USA) C-127m. Scope **½ D: John Glen. Starring Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Julian Glover, Cassandra Harris, Desmond Llwelyn, Lois Maxwell. Change of pace for 007 sees his return to the minimalism of the 1960s. Modest plot about spying device lying under water just off the Greek coast, punctuated by some nice action sequences with good stunt work.

Foto di Gioia, Le (1987, ITA) C-90m. ** D: Lamberto Bava. Starring Serena Grandi, Daria Nicolodi, Vanni Corbellini, David Brandon, George Eastman, Karl Zinny, Lino Salemme, Sabrina Salerno, Capucine. Barely watchable thriller in the giallo vein about voluptuous Grandi, who has her own publishing house and studio for nude photographs. When somebody starts killing her models, she is terrified and can’t figure out who the madman is. One of Bava’s lesser films, strictly standard in all departments, even Simon Boswell’s score is less compelling this time. Watch it for the women’s great nude physiques. Lamberto’s son Fabrizio was assistant director. English titles: DELIRIUM, PHOTOS OF JOY, PHOTO OF GIOIA, GIOIA’S PHOTOGRAPH.

Foto Proibite di una Signora per Bene, Le (1970, ITA/SPA) C-96m. Scope *** D: Luciano Ercoli. Starring Dagmar Lassander, Pier Paolo Capponi, Susan Scott (=Nieves Navarro), Simón Andreu, Osvaldo Genazzani, Salvador Huguet. A happily married woman (Lassander) falls prey to a blackmailer, who claims that her indebted husband has murdered one of his creditors. Meanwhile, her best friend may be her husband’s lover and part of the intrigue. Sex-and-crime Italian style, slowly paced, but well-directed and ennobled by superb lighting and photography (by Alejandro Ulloa), as well as inimitable early 70s style, right down to the props, costumes and make-up. Good score by Ennio Morricone. Cowritten by Ernesto Gastaldi. Edited by the director. English title: FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION.

Fountain, The (2006, USA) C-97m. **½ D: Darren Aronofsky. Starring Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Mark Margolis, Stephen McHattie, Fernando Hernandez, Cliff Curtis, Sean Patrick Thomas. Richly symbolic drama about research scientist Jackman, whose troubled, sick wife Weisz has just completed a novel about the Mayan culture and Spanish conquistadors. The novel is also related in this film, with Jackman and Weisz taking up key roles. In a third plot strand, a bald Jackman is floating in space, living under a seemingly alive tree in a huge sphere. Visually arresting, beautifully scored drama whose success will depend on how you can relate to it. The overall theme is a bit downbeat and depressing. From the director of PI (1998) and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000).

Four Christmases (2008, USA/GER) C-88m. *** D: Seth Gordon. Starring Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek, Jon Voight, Jon Favreau, Mary Steenburgen, Dwight Yoakam, Colleen Camp, Laura Johnson, Carol Kane. Pretty crazy Christmas comedy about happily not-married couple Vaughn and Witherspoon (deliberately miscast as a couple), who intend to spend Xmas on Fiji. Then all the flights are cancelled, so they have no choice but to visit all four of their divorced parents, with disastrous results. Comedy runs hot and cold but has some truly hilarious scenes, especially at Duvall’s home.

Four Feathers, The (2002, USA/GBR) C-131m. Scope *** D: Shekhar Kapur. Starring Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, Wes Bentley, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Sheen. After leaving the army because of a pending war in Africa, 19th century soldier Ledger loses his honor and fiancée Hudson. He then embarks on a journey to war-torn Sudan to redeem himself. Remake of the 1939 adventure classic (also filmed in  has surprisingly little emotional impact, but is exquisitely filmed, well-directed and well-acted by Ledger. Based on the novel by A.E.W. Mason. Score by James Horner.

4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007, USA/GER) C-92m. SCOPE **½ D: Tim Story. Starring Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Kerry Washington, Stan Lee, voice of Laurence Fishburne. Sequel to FANTASTIC FOUR is equally lifeless fantasy actioner about the four Marvel superheroes: Gruffudd and Alba are about to marry, when an extra-terrestrial force threatens to destroy the Earth, and the Silver Surfer seems to be the vanguard of destruction. Not bad, fairly exciting, but rather soulless.

Four Rooms (1995, USA) C-97m. **½ D: Allison Anders, Alexandre Rockwell, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino. Starring Tim Roth, Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Beals, Paul Calderon, Sammi Davis, Amanda de Cadenet, Valeria Golino, Kathy Griffin, Marc Lawrence, Madonna, David Proval, Ione Skye, Quentin Tarantino, Lili Taylor, Marisa Tomei, Tamlyn Tomita, Alicia Witt, Lana McKissack, Danny Verduzco, Salma Hayek, Lawrence Bender. Like most four-part films, a mixed bag: Tim Roth plays a ‘bell-hop’ at an L.A. hotel, who, on New Year’s Eve, has four incredible encounters at various rooms. ‘The Missing Ingredient’ is the pointless story of several witches (Madonna, Skye, Golino et al.) who need the sperm of a man in order to ressurect another witch. The second one (‘The Wrong Man’) is an improvement and quite funny, about Beals’ troubles with her psychotic husband. The third episode (‘The Misbehavers’), by Rodriguez, about two kids who are left alone by their parents and drive Roth half crazy is the best. It’s remarkably well-edited (by the director) and ends with a hilarious climax. The fourth part (‘The Man from Hollywood’) is only so-so, a vanity product, written, directed by and starring Tarantino as a director who makes a most unusual bet with a friend. Bruce Willis has a cameo in that last episode. Quite obviously this hip production is a matter of taste. Fans of the directors will find it amusing.

Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, The (1959, USA) C-70m. **½ D: Edward L. Cahn. Starring Eduard Franz, Valerie French, Grant Richards, Henry Daniell. Briskly paced, creepy little chiller about title character, who must contend with ancient curse placed on his family two hundred years ago. Not at all bad, but typically self-conscious 50s horror.

1408 (2007, USA) C-104m. SCOPE **½ D: Mikael Hafström. Starring John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub, Len Cariou. Title refers to a supposedly haunted hotel room in NYC that makes perfect final chapter for ghost-house writer Cusack, or so he thinks. The room turns out to be evil indeed and Cusack, a non-believer with a sad history is in for the ride of his lifetime. Well-made and acted, but with a script this predictable, the film only goes so far. Based on a short story by Stephen King, who seems to recycle ideas from many of his previous stories and films here (IT, SHINING, MISERY to name but a few). Unrated version runs 112m.

4th Floor, The (1999, USA) C-90m. **½ D: Josh Klausner. Starring Juliette Lewis, William Hurt, Shelley Duvall, Austin Pendleton, Tobin Bell, Robert Costanzo. Quite good chiller about Lewis, who prefers moving into her late aunt’s apartment to living with her lover Hurt in a comfortable house. Soon the old lady on the 4th floor under her flat starts terrorizing her… Interesting variation of Polanski’s brilliant horror drama THE TENANT, itself a dark, macabre paraphrase of Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW. Too predictable and simply told to really hit bull’s-eye, but densely atmospheric and well-photographed, a good first feature for director Klausner.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994, GBR) C-117m. *** D: Mike Newell. Starring Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas, Simon Callow, Rowan Atkinson, James Fleet, John Hannah. Grant plays a bachelor who suddenly starts doubting his attitude towards life when seemingly everyone of his friends is getting married. Entertaining, sharply observed comedy, an audience-pleaser.

Foxy Brown (1974, USA) C-94m. **½ D: Jack Hill. Starring Pam Grier, Antonio Fargas, Peter Brown, Terry Carter, Katheryn Loder, Harry holcombe, Sid Haig, Juanita Brown. One of Grier’s best 70s films, this blaxploitation classic features her as an avenging angel – again. After her policeman-lover has undergone facial surgery, he is still killed by the mob and Grier sets out to infiltrate drug syndicate headed by Loder. Trivial actioner is violent and well-paced, a guilty pleasure for fans. Written by the director.

Frágiles (2005, SPA) C-97m. SCOPE **½ D: Jaume Balagueró. Starring Calista Flockhart, Richard Roxburgh, Elena Anaya, Gemma Jones, Yasmin Murphy, Colin McFarlane. Chiller from the maker of [REC] (2007) about nurse Flockhart, who comes to work at a hospital that is about to be abandoned. One of the remaining children claims a girl is haunting the place, and she seems to ‘live’ on the already closed upper floor. Slightly contrived and pretentious ghost story, well-filmed, though Flockhart just doesn’t seem right for the role. Those looking for chills won’t be disappointed. Good score. Cowritten by the director. Also known as FRAGILE.

Frankenhooker (1990, USA) C-78m. *½ D: Frank Henenlotter. Starring James Lorinz, Patty Mullen, Charlotte Helmkamp, Shirley Stoler, Louise Lasser. This splatter horror film by director Henelotter (BASKET CASE, BRAIN DAMAGE) is nothing more than a cheap BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR: After his girlfriend dies in a tragic accident with a lawnmower, young ‘bio-electrician’ Lorinz wants to revive her by using body parts of street hookers. Strains for laughs but is terribly unfunny. Uncut print runs 85 or 90m.

Frankenstein (1931, USA) 71m. ***½ D: James Whale. Starring Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan. One of the great early horror films, this hasn’t lost its charm over the decades. Classic story was adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel about mad scientist who creates a deformed human from body parts of the dead. Doesn’t really do the novel justice, but is still beautiful to watch. Excellent work by Clive and Karloff. Also shown in edited versions (the death of the little girl was removed from most prints). Followed by BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935), SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939) and GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942), and an entirely new series by Hammer Films. Spoofed by Mel Brooks in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN (1974) and remade at least seven times.

Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969, GBR) C-100m. ** D: Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Freddie Jones, Simon Ward. Fifth in Hammer’s FRANKENSTEIN series is fairly dramatic account of the ruthless Baron’s attempts to transplant the brain of a colleague. He blackmails a young couple into helping him. Not bad, quite serious, but has very little momentum and plays out its finale much too slowly. Some liked it anyway. Followed by THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970).

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974, GBR) C-99m. **½ D: Terence Fisher. Starring Peter Cushing, Shane Bryant, Madeline Smith, David Prowse, John Stratton, Bernard Lee, Janet Hargreaves, Peter Madden. Sixth and final FRANKENSTEIN movie from Hammer about a young surgeon (Bryant), who idolizes Dr. Frankenstein (Cushing) and meets him in an asylum where he is working on his latest creation. Slowly paced, but not bad, mainly for fans of the series and Cushing.

Frantic (1988, USA/FRA) C-120m. **½ D: Roman Polanski. Starring Harrison Ford, Emmanuelle Seigner, Betty Buckley, John Mahoney, Jimmie Ray Weeks, Yorgo Voyagis, David Huddleston, Gérard Klein. An American doctor (Ford), visiting a congress in Paris, is baffled when suddenly his wife disappears from their hotel room while he is taking a shower. He finds out she has been kidnapped, and all because their suitcase was mixed up with another one at the airport. He sets out alone to find her at any cost, since the police are not of much help. Ford's excellent performance makes this tedious, overlong thriller worth watching, although it's never as exciting or thrilling as it pretends to be. One of Polanski's weaker films, written by himself and Gérard Brach. Hardly auspicious score by Ennio Morricone.

Frati Rossi, I (1988, ITA) C-85m. ** D: Gianni Martucci. Starring Lara Wendel, Gerardo Amato, Chuck Valenti, Malisa Longo. Slow, a bit confusing gothic horror set in the late 1930s. When beautiful Wendel weds wealthy Amato, she moves into his castle-like villa. Soon she starts wondering where he spends his evenings and just what the dungeon below is used for. Some atmosphere but direction is rather poor. Okay for horror fans, though film is not very greusome. Lucio Fulci was somehow involved in the production of this movie, probably as a coproducer. Also known as THE RED MONKS.

Fräulein Doktor (1968, ITA/YUG) C-98m. *** D: Alberto Lattuada. Starring Suzy Kendall, Kenneth More, Capucine, James Booth, Alexander Knox, Nigel Green, Giancarlo Giannini. Very well-produced war film (by Dino de Laurentiis) about the title character, a German spy played by Kendall, who accomplishes several missions against the English during World War One. Well-directed, fine score by Ennio Morricone. Photographed by Luigi Kuveiller. Same story filmed before in the U.S. and France.  

Fräulein Smillas Gespür für Schnee (1997, GER/SWE/DAN) C-121m. Scope **½ D: Bille August. Starring Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Robert Loggia, Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Mario Adorf. Ambitious but unsatisfying adaptation of Peter Høeg’s bestseller about troubled snow expert Ormond, who investigates the death of a 6-year-old boy who fell off a roof - despite suffering from pathological vertigo. Capable cast keeps things bubbling but the film trips over plot holes that undermine the - at times - fine suspense. Still, an interesting and highly original thriller which poses the question whether Høeg’s novel was adaptable in the first place. Titled SMILLA’S SENSE OF SNOW for film’s U.S. release.

Freaky Farley (2008, USA) C-83m. *½ D: Charles Roxburgh. Starring Matt Farley, Kevin McGee, Sharon Scalzo, Steff Deschenes. Independent feature sees itself as a direct descendant of late 70s/early 80s low-budget horror, but the pace and the acting is even worse. The filmmakers reportedly enjoyed the oddball characters of these films most, but the main character (Farley) is so cheesy and unconvincing, you don’t care about his adventures with his new girlfriend, with whom he investigates a local slasher legend. Boring. The most exciting thing about it is that it was shot with a Super 16mm from the early 70s.

Freaky Friday (2003, USA) C-97m. *** D: Mark Waters. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Mark Waters. Remake of the 1976 Jodie Foster body-switch comedy is entertaining: Therapist Curtis and her 15-year-old daughter Lohan cannot get along with each other anymore. A fortune cookie from a Chinese restaurant makes them switch their bodies – at the most inconvenient of times: Curtis is about to re-marry, and Lohan’s rock band has a concert coming up. Can they play each other’s roles – and learn from it? Curtis is great in this enjoyable comedy, based on a novel by Mary Rodgers.

Freeway (1996, USA) C-102m. **½ D: Matthew Bright. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Kiefer Sutherland, Brooke Shields, Wolfgang Bodison, Dan Hedaya, Amanda Plummer, Michael T. Weiss, Brittany Murphy. Teenager Witherspoon, whose parents have just been arrested for prostitution and possession of drugs, cuffs a social worker to the bed post and leaves in her stepfather’s car for her grandmother. Along the way she meets the much-feared ‘freeway killer’ (Sutherland). Witherspoon proves a tough cookie to crack for the psychopath. Interesting (to say the least) but uneven 90s version of Little Red Riding Hood. Witherspoon is up to the difficult role, but film wavers uncomfortably between drama and satire and is not very credible. Co-executive produced by Oliver Stone. Written by the director. Nice score by Danny Elfman.  

Freeze Me (2000, JAP) C-103m. **½ D: Takashi Ishii. Starring Harumi Inoue, Shingo Tsurumi, Kazuki Kitamura, Shunsuke Matsuoka, Naoto Takenaka. Stylish psycho drama from the director of GONIN (1995) about a young woman, who was raped five years ago and whose attackers have just found out where she now lives. The woman finds herself paralyzed by their sudden presence but then proceeds to take her revenge right in her apartment. A Japanese version of DAY OF THE WOMAN / I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), the woman’s motivations aren’t always clear and her actions logical. Still, has some powerful moments and good camerawork. Written and coproduced by the director. Also known as FREEZER.

Freispiel (1996, AUT) C-100m. **½ D: Harald Sicheritz. Starring Alfred Dorfer, Lukas Resetarits, Roland Düringer. Surprisingly watchable comedy drama from the team that brought you MUTTERTAG about teacher (Dorfer) whose life is made hell by pop star Resetarits whom he has grown up with. Too self-conscious to really score a ‘free game’, and Austrian humor may not be to everyone’s taste.  

French Lieutenant’s Woman, The (1981, GBR) C-123m. *** D: Karel Reisz. Starring Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Hiltom McRae, Emily Morgan, Charlotte Mitchell, Lynsey Baxter, Liz Smith, David Warner. Exquisitely acted 19th century drama based on the John Fowles novel about Irons’ infatuation with simple woman Streep, whose love with a married lieutenant has given her a questionable reputation. Nice recreation of the period, though low-key film’s biggest asset are the performances. Beautiful cinematography by Freddie Francis. Scripted by Harold Pinter.

Frenchman’s Farm (1987, AUS) C-95m. ** D: Ron Way. Starring Tracey Tainsh, David Reyne, Norman Kaye, John Meillon, Ray Barrett. Ambitious, perhaps, but mostly amateurish sci-fi thriller set in Australia, where a young woman finds herself transported back to WW2 times. She witnesses a murder and then is warped back into the present. Poorly acted, badly directed, although it does contain some atmospheric scenes. See for yourself. May have taken a few years to complete because all this looks a lot like late 70s/early 80s.

Frenzy (1972, GBR) C-116m. *** D: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Jon Finch, Alec McCowen, Barry Foster, Billie Whitelaw, Anna Massey, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Alfred Hitchcock. Good, not great Hitchcock (his next-to-last film) about a killer on the loose in London and unemployed Finch, who is falsely accused of his murders. Interesting, well-told story with some unusually adult elements for Hitchcock (although still miles from being as potent as those in PSYCHO). Kept from soaring by the distinct lack of an identifiable protagonist and leisurely pace, which Hitch slackens again and again for comic reasons. Script by Anthony Shaffer, based on the novel Goodbye Picadilly, Farewell Leicester Square by Arthur La Bern. Good (if not completely fitting, too boisterous) score by Ron Goodwin.

Frequency (2000, USA) C-119m. Scope **½ D: Gregory Hoblit. Starring Dennis Quaid, James Caviezel, Shawn Doyle, Elizabeth Mitchell, Andre Braugher, Noah Emmerich. Frustrated policeman Caviezel inexplicably makes contact with 1969 and his dead father Quaid, using an old radio transmitter. By giving him information about his premature death he saves the fire fighter’s life – and changes his own present by manipulating the past. He suddenly sees a chance to catch a serial killer, who started his murder spree back in the late 1960s. Exciting sci-fi thriller is eventually let down by too many plot contrivances but remains watchable (and thrilling) throughout. From the director of FALLEN (1998).

Friday Foster (1975, USA) C-90m. *½ D: Arthur Marks. Starring Pam Grier, Yaphet Kotto, Godfrey Cambridge, Thalmus Rasulala, Eartha Kitt, Jim Backus, Scatman Crothers, Carl Weathers. Good cast in poor blaxploitation movie based on a comic strip. Grier plays a photographer who witnesses a shooting and goes on to investigate. Poorly constructed actioner with – ironically – little action. Has a catchy title tune, however.

Friday the 13th (1980, USA) C-95m. ** D: Sean S. Cunningham. Starring Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Jeannine Taylor, Robbi Morgan, Kevin Bacon, Tom Savini. In 1958, a pair of teen lovers was killed by a maniac near Camp Crystal Lake. Twenty years later, the camp is reopened and just then someone starts hacking up innocent vacationers. Is it the same serial killer? Next to John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN (1978), another, if lesser, milestone in the horror genre. Too simplistic to really work, but nevertheless extremely popular and the starting point for a full film series (nine sequels until 2001!). Interesting as one of the very first teen horror movies, although Mario Bava’s ANTEFATTO predates the slasher theme by nine years. The score, albeit being reminiscent of Bernard Hermann’s PSYCHO theme, is quite atmospheric. Watch this movie if you are a horror buff, avoid it, if you aren’t. Special effects by Tom Savini.

Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986, USA) C-87m. ** D: Tom McLoughlin. Starring Thom Mathews, Jennifer Cooke. Standard plot has Jason wreak more havoc around Camp Crystal Lake. Above-average direction and some amusing bits make it watchable. For fans.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989, USA) C-100m. *½ D: Rob Hedden. Starring Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett, Todd Shaffer, Tiffany Paulsen. Stupid sequel about the menacing killer attacking a school class aboard a cruise ship. Only the finale takes place in Manhattan. Poor acting, weak script, the FRIDAY franchise took a break after this film. Full uncut version is as of yet unreleased. Followed in 1993 by JASON GOES TO HELL: THE FINAL FRIDAY.

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991, USA) C-130m. ***½ D: Jon Avnet. Starring Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Mary-Louise Parker, Cicely Tyson, Chris O'Donnell, Stan Shaw, Grace Zabriskie. Wonderful drama, based on Fannie Flagg's novel about frustrated house wife Bates and her encounter with 82 year-old Tandy, who changes her life when she tells her a story about two women and their emanci-pation in a men's world in the 1930s. Typical Southern atmosphere characterizes this drama; well-acted, well-scripted by Flagg herself, this one is simultaneously funny and sad, meandering towards a tear-jerking conclusion. This was Avnet's impressive feature film debut.

Friends With Money (2006, USA) C-88m. Scope ** D: Nicole Holofcener. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, Catherine Keener, Jason Isaacs, Greg Germann. Ambitious, perhaps, but unsuccessful character drama about 30-something Aniston, who makes a living cleaning houses, but has training as a teacher. Her life is contrasted with that of her (more successful) friends. Talky, unsatisfying, peters out without becoming anything it wants to be. Title is one of the worst in recent memory.

Fright (1971, GBR) C-87m. **½ D: Peter Collinson. Starring Susan George, Honor Blackman, Ian Bannen, John Gregson, George Cole, Dennis Waterman, Tara Collinson. Quite good thriller about young babysitter George, who spends the night at Blackman’s villa, unaware that there’s mad husband Bannen on the loose planning to get revenge. Tense, well-acted B-movie, good for a few chills. Aka NIGHT LEGS.

Frighteners, The (1996, NZL/USA) C-110m. Scope *** D: Peter Jackson. Starring Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson, John Astin, Jeffrey Combs, Dee Wallace Stone, Jeff Busey, Chi McBride, Jim Fyfe, Troy Evans, Julianna McCarthy. Effective horror comedy with an emphasis on black humor about ‘psychic investigator’ Fox, who is the only one in the little town of Fairwater who can see and speak with ghosts. He has had this gift ever since his wife died in an accident, where he was involved, too. Now he is facing a heart-crushing serial killer from hell. Inventive, well-produced (by Robert Zemeckis) thrill ride that’s also highly entertaining. It could have used a little more serious horror.

Frightmare (1974, GBR) C-86m. *½ D: Pete Walker. Starring Rupert Davies, Sheila Keith, Deborah Fairfax, Paul Greenwood, Kim Butcher, David McGillivray, voice of Pete Walker. Bleak, off-putting British horror ‘classic’ about a cannibalistic couple (Davies and Keith) who resume their murderous ways after some 15 years in prison. Plot includes uneasy relationship between daughters Fairfax and Butcher. Some tense moments, convincing performances, but if the (relatively few) gore scenes won’t disgust you, Walker’s uninvolving, tired direction will. Truly depressing.

Frightmare (1982, USA) C-86m. ** D: Norman Thaddeus Vane. Starring Ferdy Mayne, Luca Bercovici, Nita Talbot, Leon Askin, Jennifer Starrett, Jeffrey Combs. Eccentric horror actor Mayne promises to return from the grave after his death, and indeed he does, when a couple of his fans steal the body from the crypt. They live to regret it. Poor plot setup, self-conscious humor almost destroy this horror film, which has some eerie, serious bits in the second half. Worth a quick look if you can find it. Lead actor Mayne also played the vampire in Roman Polanski’s classic THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS (1967). Alternative titles: BODY SNATCHERS, THE HORROR STAR.

Fright Night (1985, USA) C-106m. *** D: Tom Holland. Starring Chris Sarandon, William Ragsdale, Amanda Bearse, Roddy McDowall, Stephen Geoffreys, Jonathan Stark, Dorothy Fielding, Art Evans. Effective horror film with a sense of humor. Sarandon witnesses his new neighbor making love to a woman who is dead the following morning. It seems a vampire has bought the house next door! Will old TV actor McDowell help? Nice updating of the old DRACULA story, with a sense of humor and a pair of terrific performances by Sarandon and McDowell. Good fun, with fine effects. Followed by a sequel in 1989.

Frisson des Vampires, Le (1970, FRA) C-95m. M D: Jean Rollin. Starring Sandra Julien, Jean-Marie Durand, Jacques Robiolles, Michel Delahaye, Marie-Pierre Castel. Ultra low-budget outing from French sex director Rollin has even less plot and an even deadlier pace than his previous films, LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE (1967) and LA VAMPIRE NUE (1969). A newly-wed couple travel to a castle to meet the bride’s cousins. It turns out they are vampires with a harem of bloodsuckers. Cheesy, pretentious with lots of nudity and almost no violence at all. Psychedelic rock score is ultra-bad. What you get is an attempt at creating atmosphere (fog, colorful lighting) and Rollin’s trademark before-sunrise coast-finale. Stay away unless you are a die-hard fan. English title: THE SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES (among others).

From Beyond (1986, USA) C-85m. *** D: Stuart Gordon. Starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crompton, Ted Sorel, Ken Foree, Carolyn Purdy-Gordon. Tongue-in-cheek, entertaining splatter horror, the follow-up to RE-ANIMATOR. Combs plays a scientist who with the help of Sorel has developed a machine that will allow them to catch a glimpse of a new dimension – a place full of terror and horror. Stylish, well-made and with a twisted sense of humor, just the thing genre fans are looking for. Not entirely successful due to some flaws in pacing but a sure pick for horror movie aficionados. Good, dramatic score by Richard Band. Director Gordon, Brian Yuzna and Dennis Paioli adapted a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, USA) C-108m. *** D: Robert Rodriguez. Starring Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Tom Savini, Fred Williamson, John Saxon, Kelly Preston, Marc Lawrence, Michael Parks, Ernest Lui, Danny Trejo, Tito Larriva. Outrageous horror action comedy written by costar Quentin Tarantino about two criminal brothers on-the-lam who are heading for Mexico, where they are supposed to meet someone who can help them out of their precarious situation. In a shabby motel they kidnap reverend Keitel and his children. Together they drive off to a bizarre destination, a bar in the middle of nowhere called the ‘Titty Twister’. If you’ve started wondering - this is where the horror comes in. Film abandons logic as soon as the characters cross the Mexican border, but that doesn’t spoil the fun. Casting is brilliant: Clooney in his coolest role ever, special effects whiz Tom Savini as ‘Mr Sex Machine’, B-action movie star Fred Williamson as a tough vietnam vet, and Cheech Marin in three hilarious roles - to name but a few. This movie features the most comic-book-style bloodshed since Peter Jackson’s BRAINDEAD. Stay away if your films have to be logical. Director and editor Rodriguez, Tarantino and Lawrence Bender executive produced the film. Followed by two direct-to-video sequels.

From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999, USA) C-88m. **½ D: Scott Spiegel. Starring Robert Patrick, Bo Hopkins, Duane Whitaker, Muse Watson, Brett Harrelson, Raymond Cruz, Danny Trejo, James Parks, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Bruce Campbell, Scott Spiegel. Surprisingly well-made, effective sequel to the 1996 cult hit retains the action, gore and humor and really only lacks the stars and a tighter script. Patrick summons some crooks to get ready for a bank robbery in Mexico, then they stumble into a vampire motel and get knocked off one by one. Well-directed gorefest by the maker of INTRUDER (1989) should give fans their money’s worth. Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Lawrence Bender were executive producers. Followed by FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3: THE HANGMAN’S DAUGHTER (2000).

From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (2000, USA) C-94m. **½ D: P.J. Pesce. Starring Marco Leonardi, Michael Parks, Temuera Morrison, Rebecca Gayheart, Ara Celi, Sonia Braga, Orlando Jones, Danny Trejo, P.J. Pesce. Conclusion of the trilogy is more like a prequel or remake as a group of turn-of-the-century bandidos are on the run and end up in the vampire hellhole of the first movie. Plot setup takes as long as in the original, with lots of shoot-outs and action, then becomes exciting horror fare with potent effects, quite well directed. Even includes real author Ambrose Bierce (Parks) as a character. From a story by Robert Rodriguez, who also executive produced with his pal Quentin Tarantino.

From Hell (2001, USA/CZE) C-122m. Scope *** D: Albert and Allen Hughes. Starring Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane, Ian Richardson, Jason Flemyng, Katrin Cartlidge, Terence Harvey, Susan Lynch, Paul Rhys. Atmospheric retelling of the Jack the Ripper case, with Depp playing the (historical) police inspector, who must solve the brutal slayings of prostitutes in London’s red-light district Whitechapel. Maybe a bit too predictable and lacking in suspense, but arresting camerawork, flashy direction and plot maintain a rhythm to the very end. Interesting reference is made to David Lynch’s THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980).

From Russia With Love (1963, GBR) C-115m. *** D: Terence Young. Starring Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Pedro Armendáriz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Martine Beswick, Ian Fleming, Terence Young. Worthy sequel to DR. NO (1962) with James Bond (Connery) assigned to steal Russian encryption device, which turns out to be a set-up by arch-enemy SPECTRE. Bianchi plays a Russian spy, who falls for 007. Less pretentious, more serious than other Bond films, but also less entertaining, this is more spy drama than action adventure. Director Young and editor Peter R. Hunt (director of the sixth Bond film) make the fight between Shaw and Connery (aboard the train) the highlight of the picture. Lenya gives her most famous performance. Armendáriz’ last film, Llewelyn’s first film as Q. Good score by John Barry. Followed by GOLDFINGER (1964).

From the Drain (1967, CDN) B&W-13m. n/r D: David Cronenberg. Starring Mort Ritts, Stefan Nosko. The earliest surviving student film from famous David Cronenberg (made when he was 24) is unremarkable short film about two fully dressed men sitting in an empty bathtub discussing philosophical things. Set to atrocious classical guitar music, this won’t appeal even to the most rabid Cronenberg films, as it could have been made by anyone. Not worth seeking out.

Frosch mit der Maske, Der (1959, GER/DAN) 90m. *½ D: Harald Reinl. Starring Siegfried Lowitz, Joachim Fuchsberger, Eddi Arent. First of the long-running Edgar Wallace suspense thrillers is plodding and unexciting as inspector Lowitz and private detective Fuchsberger try to catch notorious criminal, whose syndicate is terrorizing London. Quite violent, with some stylish bits but hardly worth your time. Very successful though when originally released.

Frostbiter: Wrath of the Wendigo (1996, USA) C-87m. *½ D: Tom Chaney. Starring Ron Asheton, Lori Baker, Devlin Burton. Splatter movie comedy in the vein of EVIL DEAD II. Two drunk hunters accidentally (or: idiotically) resurrect a nordic demon, the Wendigo. The monster goes on to kill hunters at a remote cabin in the woods. You won’t like this film, unless you are a gorehound. Poorly made, seems like an amateur movie. Produced by Troma Films (you guessed it).

Frusta e il Corpo, La (1963, ITA/FRA) C-86m. *** D: Mario Bava. Starring Daliah Lavi, Christopher Lee, Tony Kendall, Isli Oberon, Harriet White, Dean Ardow, Alan Collins, Jacques Herlin. ‘It’s wonderful to see things being born, to see them born and to see them die.’ Sadistic count Lee returns to his family’s castle to claim his inheritance, but he is met with contempt by his relatives, who haven’t forgotten that once he drove a servant girl to suicide. Lee, however, knows how to manipulate them, especially beautiful Lavi, until someone gets his revenge... Wonderfully atmospheric gothic horror tale is reminiscent of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations and features fine performances by Lavi and Lee, an appropriately melodramatic score by Carlo Rustichelli, as well as Mario Bava’s typically stylish direction. Bava also cowrote the screenplay. He directed under the pseudonym John M. Old. The English credits are all(!) pseudonyms. Photographed by Ubaldo Terzano. English titles: THE WHIP AND THE FLESH, THE VOICE BEYOND THE GRAVE, and WHAT!

Fucking Amal (1998, SWE/DAN) C-89m. **½ D: Lukas Moodysson. Starring Alexandra Dahlström, Rebecka Liljeberg, Erica Carlson, Mathias Rust, Ralph Carlsson. Acclaimed teenage drama about just-turned-16 Liljeberg and her problems to integrate and find friends. She feels attracted to bored, seemingly experienced party girl Dahlström. Does this romance have a chance in their rural community of Amal? Authentic account of troubled teens by first-time director Moodysson. His script is slightly uneven and not completely convincing. English title: SHOW ME LOVE.

Fukkatsu no Hi (1980, JAP) C-73m. **½ D: Kinji Fukasaku. Starring Chuck Connors, Glenn Ford, Olivia Hussey, George Kennedy, Masao Kusakari, Edward James Olmos, Henry Silva, Bo Svenson, Robert Vaughn, Stephanie Faulkner, Sonny Chiba, Colin Fox. Star-studded production about a virus that wipes out human civilization, apart from several enclaves in Antarctica, where the virus cannot spread due to low temperatures. Basically a Japanese version of disaster movies that Hollywood specialized on in the 1970s. Truncated video version (on which this review is based) features interesting apocalyptic scenes but (obviously) choppy plot. Most stars are wasted. Original uncut print runs 155m., but is said not to be much better. Also shown at 108m. Based on a novel by Sakyo Komatsu. English titles: VIRUS, DAY OF RESURRECTION, THE END.

Full Contact (1992, HGK) C-96m. ** D: Ringo Lam. Starring Chow Yun-Fat, Simon Yam, Ann Bridgewater, Anthony Wong. Confusing, violent action film about Chow’s involvement with crime syndicate in Bangkok. A robbery they have planned goes awry, since bad-guy Yam double-crosses them. Then Chow comes back for revenge. This teaming up of director Lam and star Chow is a huge disappointment. Stylishly filmed, but plot is incomprehensible. Only redeeming feature is the final fight – with extensive use of slow-motion. German version is cut by five minutes.

Full Metal Jacket (1987, GBR/USA) C-116m. *** D: Stanley Kubrick. Starring Matthew Modine, Adam Baldwin, Vincent D’Onofrio, R. Lee Ermey, Dorian Harewood, Kevyn Major Howard, Arliss Howard, Ed O’Ross, John Terry. Seven years after THE SHINING (1980) Kubrick returned to the helm with this anti-war satire about several soldiers who are trained (inhumanely) on Parris Island for the Vietnam War. Once at the front, the war strips them of the bit of humanity they have still left. Based on the novel by Gustav Hasford, Kubrick’s screenplay does not quite gel, the film remains a tad too cold, with Modine’s character not strong enough to keep the two halves (camp, war) together. Still, a powerful film for Kubrick who manages to make this both hilarious and suspenseful. Filmed in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1, matted to 1,85:1 for theatrical release.

Full Monty, The (1997, GBR/USA) C-91m. *** D: Peter Cattaneo. Starring Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, Hugo Speer. You might ask yourself what’s so good about a film about a group of unemployed British men who decide to copy the Chippendales and get rich by stripping in front of local women. The narrative is not always on target and the script works too little drama into the plot, and yet this comedy drama is oddly touching and amusing. Housewives may find it most entertaining, although comments on the bad economic situation in and around Sheffield are spare. Oscar-winner for Best Original Music (Comedy or Musical).

Full Moon High (1981, USA) C-93m. M D: Larry Cohen. Starring Adam Arkin, Roz Kelly, Ed McMahon, Joanne Nail, Alan Arkin, John Blyth Barrymore, Pat Morita. Atrocious, unfunny horror comedy about college student Arkin, who is bitten by a wolf in Transsylvania and turns into a werewolf, freaking out the people at his old high school. There were some really good werewolf movies at the time (WOLFEN, HOWLING), this one deserves to be forgotten. Obnoxious fare from someone who has made interesting B-movies such as IT’S ALIVE or GOD TOLD ME TO.

Fun (1993, USA) C/B&W-103m. *** D: Rafal Zielinski. Starring Alicia Witt, Renee Humphrey, William R. Moses, Leslie Hope, Ania Suli. Two teenage girls (Witt and Humphrey) kill an elderly woman for no apparent reason. In prison a newspaper journalist (Moses) and a psychologist (Hope) try to find access to the girls and explain their motives. Compelling, thought-provoking drama seeks the reasons for the terrible deed in the girls’ upbringing, but also topicalizes the incredibly strong bond between them. Witt gives a sensational performance. Produced by the director. Similar in theme to Peter Jackson’s HEAVENLY CREATURES, which was made in 1994.

Funérale á Los Angeles (1973, FRA) C-104m. **½ D: Jacques Deray. Starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ann-Margret, Roy Scheider, Angie Dickinson, Georgia Engel, Michel Constantin, Umberto Orsini, Ted de Corsia, John Hillerman, Alex Rocco, Talia Shire. Good cast in anemic actioner about French hitman Trintignant's mission to kill businessman and his subsequent chasing by killer Scheider. Poorly paced, but remains an interesting film because it was made by a French director in the U.S. (notice some sidekicks at American culture). Cowritten by Deray (LA PISCINE). Americanized score by Michel Legrand. Alternative title: UN HOMME EST MORT. Released in the U.S. as THE OUTSIDE MAN.

Funhouse, The (1981, USA) C-96m. Scope **½ D : Tobe Hooper. Starring Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Miles Chapin, Largo Woodruff, Sylvia Miles, William Finley, Kevin Conway. Another film propagating director Hooper’s family values. Berridge plays a teenager who visits a carnival with some of her oversexed, pot-smoking friends and meets some immoral (and deformed) characters as they decide to spend the night in the funhouse. Nice lighting effects, some eerie sequences… but not enough plot. Surprisingly tame effort from the director of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE is not bad but could have used a tighter structure. Hooper went on to make POLTERGEIST.

Funky Monkey (2004, USA/GER) C-94m. ** D: Harry Basil. Starring Matthew Modine, Roma Downey, Seth Adkins, Pat Finn, Taylor Negron, Fred Ward, Jeffrey Tambor, Bodhi Elfman. Modine plays a monkey trainer, whose chimp is about to be taken away from his for experiments. He kidnaps the talented primate and finds refuge at youngster Adkins’ place. Exactly what you expect from monkey comedies: Some crude humor, but mostly inoffensive.

Funny Games (1997, AUT) C-108m. M D: Michael Haneke. Starring Ulrich Mühe, Susanne Lothar, Arno Frisch, Frank Giering, Wolfgang Glück. Two polite young men enter the life of a family vacationing somewhere in the countryside and plunge them into a sea of violence, which to them is just a game. Totally pointless, controversial drama tortures its audience with shocking depictions of violence, without being suspenseful, intelligent, or anything else. Haneke’s direction is minimalistic, some scenes go on for minutes without cuts. Reminiscent in many ways of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, which at least commented on the increasing violence in our society. Haneke (BENNY’S VIDEO) just shows the violence per se, not why it is committed and what the characters think about it. One may argue that violence is not rational, but what is the point of making an irrational film based on this premise?

Furious Slaughter (1972, HGK/TIW) C-88m. Scope *** D: Ting Shan-Si. Starring (Jimmy) Wang Yu, Shirley Chan, Sally Chan, Kwok Shao Pao, Lam Kei. Well-produced eastern about a suave stranger (Wang Yu), who singlehandedly embarrasses a crime syndicate and attempts to free two innocent women from one of their brothels. Direction, photography, score all rise above the plot. A film where the parts are greater than the whole; ultra-cool Wang Yu is really something to see. German version cut by 2 minutes. Original title: TIAN WANG QUAN. Alternative English title: ROYAL FIST. Title song is called ‘Super Dragon’, which may also be a one-time title of the film. Followed by a sequel, BLOODY STRUGGLE.

Fury, The (1978, USA) C-118m. **½ D: Brian De Palma. Starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, Amy Irving, Fiona Lewis, Andrew Stevens, Charles Durning, Gordon Jump, Dennis Franz. Douglas is looking for his son (Stevens), who has been abducted by Cassavetes in order to exploit his ESP-powers. A similarly talented young girl (Irving) may be of help to him. Poorly paced script (by John Harris, whose novel this film is based on) makes this film a chore to watch, offset at times by some stylish bits. Quite violent, but nothing special. Film debut of Daryl Hannah.  

Fußgänger, Der (1973, GER/SUI/ISR) C-97m. ***½ D: Maximilian Schell. Starring Gustav Rudolf Sellner, Maximilian Schell, Gila von Weitershausen, Walter Kohut, Christian Kohlund, Peggy Ashcroft, Lil Dagover, Elisabeth Bergner. Remarkably mature drama about wealthy industrialist Sellner, who is about to be uncovered as a Nazi war criminal by tabloid reporters. Film subtly chronicles his feelings, his conscience, painting a credible portrait of a broken man. Excellent, moving script by director Schell himself, who casts himself as Sellner’s recently deceased son. Downbeat but a must-see. Winner of the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film and also nominated for the Oscar. Schell, who coscripted and coproduced, directed DER RICHTER UND SEIN HENKER (1976) next. English title: THE PEDESTRIAN.

Future-Kill (1985, USA) C-89m. M D: Ronald W. Moore. Starring Edwin Neal, Marilyn Burns, Gabriel Folse, Wade Reese, Barton Faulks. Terrible science-fiction wannabe about a few dudes who get mixed up with a band of outlaws led by a mean guy called Splatter. All this supposedly happens in a post-apocalyptic city, but all we get is some make-up and costumes. Dialogue is especially stupid. Avoid at all costs. Also known as SPLATTER, NIGHT OF THE ALIEN.

Future War 198x (1982, JAP) C-120m. ** D: Tomoharu Katsumata, Toshio Masuda. Animated epic about situation leading up to major crisis between U.S.A. and Russia and the ensueing nuclear war that will destroy the Earth. Muddled script revels in battle details without making a point and neglects characterization entirely. Worth a look perhaps – for war fanatics – but effect of this two-hour film is numbing. Animation is only so-so.

Futureworld (1976, USA) C-104m. *** D: Richard T. Heffron. Starring Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Arthur Hill, Yul Brynner, Stuart Margolin. Low-budget but interesting sequel to Michael Crichton’s WESTWORLD (1973) sends reporters Fonda and Danner to holiday resort of the future, where visitors can live a no-holds-barred way of life (including sex and violence). Soon Fonda takes a look behind the scenes and uncovers a sinister conspiracy. Plot is sometimes illogical but story is good, intriguing fare for sci-fi fans, though not as good as its predecessor. Danner gets to be a bit too much at times. Followed by the short-lived TV series ‘Beyond Westworld’.