Robert Wm. Gomez's

Deadlier Than the Male [1956] (8/10)

No this isn't about bikini-clad assassins, this female predator is a bit more subdued. This is a French black and white film about a famous chef who is given news of his ex-wife's passing from a young woman claiming to be her daughter. Of course she's not on the up-and-up, but the old man doesn't see it. But her mysterious back-story can wait. The first third of the movie is filled with exciting restaurant action. I'm not kidding. Watching the staff take care of a packed room of odd-ball guests was fascinating to watch.

Pursued (5/10)

This is a relatively action-free western that features Robert Mitchum as a turn of the century cowboy with a predilection for pomade... and his sister. The plot is simple, but is still hindered by the inappropriate flashback framing structure.

Watchmen (7/10)

This is one superhero movie that I actually wanted to see. I read the comic and thought it was okay and the movie seems to track pretty closely to the original story. The version I watched was the director's cut and it definitely could use some editing. There's a bit too much backstory and too many tangents. Still, I thought it all worked well. Fortunately, there isn't too much cliche superhero action but Zack Snyder still manages to inject way too much of his goofy CGI style everywhere.

Split (8/10)

Well, turns out M. Night is still capable of making an entertaining movie. This was a humble thriller about three girls kidnapped by a man with split personalities. While it may spend a bit too much time dishing out exposition as to how split personalities are real and can cause supernatural-like abilities, the main plot gradually builds the tension and doesn't pull punches. And a sorta/kinda twist that's a genuine surprise.

Evidence of Love: A True Story of Passion and Death in the Suburbs by John Bloom & Jim Atkinson (8/10)

Outside of Helter Skelter, I have not read much true crime literature. I picked this one mainly because is was co-written by John Bloom (and it's super cheap on Kindle). It details the story of a brutal axe murder that took place is suburban Dallas in the early eighties. The book is written in a narrative style that makes it feel more like a novel than a journalistic undertaking. That said, this was meticulously researched and based on interviews with most of the primary players (except, of course, the deceased Betty Gore).

The Blackcoat's Daughter (7/10)

A small, slow moving horror movie about boarding school girls and the devil. There's lots of hard to hear dialogue and very little visible "horror" stuff going on, but it builds to a mildly bloody ending.

Bicycle Thieves (7/10)

Apparently this is a very important movie and a touchstone of Italian cinema. All I know it's severely lacking in the Italian knife-wielding maniac department. Still, as far as artsy dramas go, this wasn't half bad. Basically, a guy gets his bike stolen and spends the rest of the movie trying to find it. There's probably some brainy sub-text about life and finding meaning in a cold, uncaring world but I was too stupid to pick up on that.

Black Magic 2 (9/10)

This is a sequel in name only to the excellent Black Magic. It's still about an evil voodoo magician, but in this case he is purely evil and not just doing the bidding of others. So evil in fact that he pounds nails into corpses' heads, drinks breast milk, impregnates women with meat blobs, and raises the bodies of dead go-go dancers. This movie is just non-stop crazy and thoroughly entertaining.

House of Bamboo (7/10)

This is crime thriller from 1955 that is unique in that it was shot on location in post-war Japan and it is filmed in glorious, super-widescreen Cinemascope. Every frame is full of color and wonderfully composed. Every frame is also filled with ugly American style treatment of the locals. Lots of gangsters raising their voices and demanding, "Hey pal, ya speak English!" This is also the movie where Robert Stack does his, "Who the boss? The head man? ..." bit that was parodied in Airplane. Overall this was mediocre yet entertaining plot that's bolstered by stunning visuals.

Turbo Kid (7/10)

In recent years there have been several attempts at making fake 80s shows, games or movies. The best of this would be something like Stranger Things and the worst is Kung FuryTurbo Kid is somewhere in the middle. It isn't fully fueled on nostalgia and has likable characters. But there is a tinge of that weird interpretation of 80s culture that millennials often produce. The ever present neon landscape title grid is there.