Überfall, Der (2000, AUT) C-88m. Scope **½ D: Florian Flicker. Starring Roland Düringer, Josef Hader, Joachim Bissmeier. A frustrated 32-year-old car mechanic (Düringer) sees the only solution to his problems in robbing a supermarket. He chickens out at the cashier’s desk and ends up in a tailor’s shop across the street. He takes him and customer Hader hostage – just then the supermarket is really robbed and the police cordon off the scene, making it impossible for Düringer to escape. Grotesque crime drama is quite unpredictable – which makes up the film’s charm – but Düringer is playing for laughs when there are none, only a few chuckles at best. Has more than its share of plotholes and deliberately abandons logic at times. Hader is good as usual. International title: HOLD-UP.

Uccello dalle Piume di Cristallo, L’ (1970, ITA/GER) C-98m. Scope **½ D: Dario Argento. Starring Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi, Werner Peters, Mario Adorf, Umberto Raho, Renato Romano, Reggie Nalder. Dario Argento’s first feature film as a director is a mystery in the giallo-tradition about an American writer (Musante) who starts investigating a murder series in Rome after he witnesses the killer’s attempt to murder the beautiful wife (Renzi) of a gallery owner. Not so much on target and not as unrelentingly sinister as the director’s later films, but well-directed, suspenseful and quite appealing if the unmotivated, second-rate script (by Argento himself) is tolerated. Unusual, very good score by Ennio Morricone. Based on the novel The Screaming Mimi by Fredric Brown. Alternative titles: THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, and PHANTOM OF TERROR. The German version, titled DAS GEHEIMNIS DER SCHWARZEN HANDSCHUHE, is cut by seven minutes.

U-571 (2000, USA) C-116m. Scope **½ D: Jonathan Mostow. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, David Keith, Thomas Kretschmann, Jake Weber. Well-cast thriller set during World War Two, about a secret mission to steal an important encoding device from a damaged German submarine. Film wastes too much time on characterization, but delivers enough suspense in the final thirty minutes. Good effects.

Ugly, The (1997, NZL) C-93m. ** D: Scott Reynolds. Starring Paolo Rotondo, Rebecca Hobbs, Roy Ward, Vanessa Byrnes, Sam Wallace, Paul Glover, Chris Graham, Jennifer Ward-Lealand. Psychoanalyst Hobbs arrives at an asylum for the criminally insane to interview serial killer Rotondo. In flashbacks we are told his story, from a childhood of abuse to his seemingly unmotivated murders. Psychothriller is not as chilling or scary as it wants to be, with avantgarde editing and surreal scenes that don’t work. Still, worth a look, depending on your tolerance for the subject matter. Photography is quite nice. One oddity: The blood spilt in the movie is black until the final frame. Director Reynolds also scripted.

Ugly Truth, The (2009, USA) C-96m. SCOPE ** D: Robert Luketic. Starring Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler, Bree Turner, Eric Winter, Nick Searcy, Judy Greer, Cheryl Hines. Contrived romantic comedy about TV producer Heigl, who must contend with her network’s latest star, the foul-mouthed, misogynistic comedian Butler. After a while they become friends, especially when he helps her get her too-good-to-be-true dream guy. After a few funny rants, this doesn’t ring true anymore and becomes annoyingly contrived. Heigl and Butler have very little chemistry.

Ulisse (1955, ITA/USA) C-100m. *** D: Mario Caimano. Starring Kirk Douglas, Silvana Mangano, Anthony Quinn, Rossana Podestà, Sylvie, Piero Lulli. Underrated adventure classic with Douglas a most convincing Ulysses, who gets washed ashore an amnesiac, until he remembers there’s his wife Penelope (Mangano) waiting for him ever since the end of the Trojan war. In flashbacks, we are told Ulysses’s adventures. Well-produced epic by Dino De Laurentiis and Carlo Ponti, unfortunately not shot in widescreen. Some sources wrongly credit Mario Bava as a co-director; the maestro directed the Polyphemus episode in a 1968 TV version of Homer’s Iliad. English title: ULYSSES.

Ulisse Contro Ercole (1962, ITA/FRA) C-91m. SCOPE *½ D: Mario Caiano. Starring Georges Marchal, Mike Lane, Alessandra Panaro, Dominique Boschero, Gabriele Tinti, Raf Baldassarre. Blah peplum epic about Ulisses, who tries to catch Hercules but soon learns that they must join forces in defeating the evil ruler of an underground tribe. Has some watchable twenty minutes in the first half, the rest is simply boring. English titles: ULYSSES AGAINST HERCULES, and ULYSSES AGAINST THE SON OF HERCULES.

Ultima Senora Anderson, La (1971, SPA/ITA) C-88m. Scope **½ D: Eugenio Martín. Starring Carroll Baker, Michael Craig, Miranda Campa, José Luis López Vásquez, Marina Malfatti. Widower Craig, whose three(!) previous wives have all died in accidents is tried for murder but pronounced not guilty. Inspector Vásquez refuses to believe the man to be innocent. Then beautiful Baker moves into the neighborhood and Craig falls in love again. Will she be the next – or last – Mrs Anderson? Rare giallo that only saw a Greek video release in the mid-1980s isn’t that special, although plot keeps you interested. Not violent at all. Fine score by Piero Umiliani. Also known as DEATH AT THE DEEP END OF THE SWIMMING POOL, THE FOURTH MRS ANDERSON, and THE FOURTH VICTIM.

Ultimate Fights from the Movies (2002, USA) C-53m. n/r D: none credited. DVD-compilation of fight scenes from more or less famous movies like John Woo’s THE KILLER (1989), De Palma’s SCARFACE (1983) or Ridley Scott’s GLADIATOR (2000). Some interesting trivia information is given, but fights never are as exciting as in the movies themselves, where they are placed in proper context. Superfluous.

Ultimate Warrior, The (1975, USA) C-94m. *½ D: Robert Clouse. Starring Yul Brynner, Max von Sydow, Joanna Miles, William Smith, Stephen McHattie, Lane Bradbury. Low-key, unexciting science-fiction outing set in 2012 New York City, which is almost completely abandoned after natural disasters. Von Sydow hires Brynner to bring his pregnant daughter out to safety. A major disappointment, since such an apocalyptic premise is always intriguing. Written by the director.    

Ultime Grida dalla Savana (La Grande Caccia) (1974, ITA) C-89m. **½ D: Antonio Climati, Mario Morra. Narrated by Alberto Moravia. Italian documentary about the humans’ need for and fascination with the hunt, showing countless scenes of humans chasing animals and animals dying. Interestingly, the humans here as portrayed with the same distance as the beasts. Surprisingly well-photographed and effectively edited, this mondo movie is occasionally off-putting, though. Score by Carlo Savina. Co-director Climati was cinematographer for the genre classics MONDO CANE (1962) and AFRICA ADDIO (1966). Original version runs longer. English titles: SAVAGE MAN… SAVAGE BEAST, SAVAGE TEMPTATION, THE GREAT HUNTING, and ZUMBALAH. Followed by SAVANA SANTA (1976) and DOLCE E SELVAGGIO (1983).

Ultimi Giorni di Pompei, Gli (1959, ITA/SPA/GER) C-97m. Scope ** D: Mario Bonnard. Starring Steve Reeves, Christine Kaufmann, Barbara Carroll, Anne Marie Baumann, Mimmo Palmara. Weakly plotted costumer about Roman legionary Reeves, who comes to aid of Christian maid Kaufmann. Talky drama is only interesting for the talents involved in the making of the film: Screenplay by Ennio de Concini, Sergio Leone, Sergio Corbucci and Duccio Tessari. Leone also directed the second unit. Color direction by Jorge Grau. E. Bulwer-Lytton novel filmed before in 1935. English title: THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEI.

Ultimi Zombi, Gli (1979, ITA) C-91m. Scope **½ D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Tisa Farrow, Ian McCulloch, Richard Johnson, Al Cliver, Annetta Gay. First of the Italian Zombie films, made in the wake of George Romero’s DAWN OF THE DEAD. In the Caribbean Sea zombies wreak havoc among the population. Farrow is soon under attack as she comes looking for her father on a tiny island. This is perhaps the best Zombie imitation of them all: direction, score, photography all above average. The make-up and splatter effects are excellent. A must for gorehounds; everyone else will probably be repelled. The splinter-in-the-eye scene is now considered a classic. Director Fulci appears as the chief of police. Alternative titles: ZOMBIES 2, ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS, and ZOMBIE, which was the film’s U.S. release title. Note: The uncut Pal print runs 87 minutes and 30 seconds.

Ultimo dei Vikinghi, L’ (1961, ITA/FRA) C-102m. Scope ** D: Giacomo Gentilomo, Mario Bava. Starring Cameron Mitchell, Edmund Purdom, Isabelle Corey, Hélène Rémy, Aldo Bufi Landi, George Ardisson, Andrea Cecchi, Piero Lulli. Rather tense action film (one of Italy’s answers to Richard Fleischer’s THE VIKINGS) about Viking Prince Mitchell, who swears for revenge when he returns home and finds that Scandinavian king Purdom has wiped out his father’s kingdom. Tedious plotting is occasionally enlivened by invogorating acting and score (by Robero Nicolosi). Mario Bava did some re-shoots for this film. His involvement is evident in some interesting, romantic lighting. English title: THE LAST OF THE VIKINGS.

Ultimo Deseo, L’ (1976, SPA) C-82m. **½ D: Leon Klimovsky. Starring Nadiuska, Albert Mennen (=Alberto de Mendoza), Tony Kendall, Paul Mackey (=Naschy), Maria Pershing (=Perschy), Teresa Gimpera. During a secret ceremony honoring the Marquis de Sade, a sudden fall-out shocks the prominent guests at a remote villa. It seems there has been a nuclear explosion and everyone who was outside is contaminated and now blind. Apocalyptic horror is too cheap and neglects characterization, although the plotting is appropriately vague and the general idea thrilling. Original version runs 94m. English title: THE PEOPLE WHO OWN THE DARK.

Ultimo Treno della Notte, L’ (1975, ITA) C-94m. ** D: Aldo Lado. Starring Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril, Gianfranco de Grassi, Enrico Maria Salerno, Marina Berti, Franco Fabrizi, Irene Miracle, Laura D’Angelo. Infamous exploitation film from Italy obviously copies the tone of Wes Craven’s questionable ‘classic’ LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) as the literal translation means LAST TRAIN OF THE NIGHT. Two sadistic thugs running from the police board a train and terrorize some passengers, among them two girls on their way home for Christmas. Not that bad, but pretty vile, pseudo-critical like the later FUNNY GAMES. Score by Ennio Morricone! English titles: DON’T RIDE ON LATE NIGHT TRAINS, LAST STOP ON THE NIGHT TRAIN, NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS, TORTURE TRAIN, and even XMAS MASSACRE.

Ultimo Uomo della Terra, L’ (1964, ITA/USA) 86m. Scope ** D: Sidney Salkow, Ubaldo Ragona. Starring Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Umberto Rau, Christi Courtland. Adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend stars Vincent Price as the only survivor of a deadly plague which has wiped out human civilization. The only other survivors are zombies who Price kills by driving a stake into their hearts. Price is less hammy than usual, struggling with the second-rate script. Occasional atmosphere and the fact that this was obviously an inspiration for George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) make it interesting for horror buffs. But please don’t watch the poor Diamond DVD, which makes the film look like an early talkie. Photographed in widescreen by Franco delli Colli. Remade with Charlton Heston in THE OMEGA MAN. Most common English title: THE LAST MAN ON EARTH.

Umanoide, L’ (1979, ITA) C-100m. ** D: George B. Lewis (=Aldo Lado). Starring Richard Kiel, Corinne Clery, Leonard Mann, Barbara Bach, Ivan Rassimov, Arthur Kennedy, Massimo Serato, Venantino Venantini. Apart from being a blatant STAR WARS rip-off, this Italian trash movie features Bond-villain Kiel as a TERMINATOR-like humanoid, who is given instructions by mad scientist Kennedy to kill brother of evil Lord Graal, who wants to take over Metropolis (formerly known as Earth). This actually has more plot than STAR WARS but is light-years away from being as entertaining. Some nice sets and location work, as well as a score by Ennio Morricone make it watchable. English title: THE HUMANOID.

Umi Ga Kikoeru (1993, JAP) C-72m. *** D: Tomomi Mochizuki. Starring (the voices of) Nobuo Tobita, Toshihiko Seki, Yoko Sakamoto, Yuri Amano, Kae Araki. Another one of Studio Ghibli’s childhood / teen reminiscences, this one plays like a sequel or remake of OMOHIDE PORO PORO aka ONLY YESTERDAY (1991). On his trip to a high school reunion, Tobita remembers the time he spent with his best friend and a young girl that was transferred to their school and turned quite a couple of heads. He had to learn that she was quite a lost soul. Irresistible romantic drama with a wonderful piano and synthesizer score by Shigeru Nagata, this could have been a knock-out with a more satisfying script, but is a winner nonetheless. Made for television. Based on a novel by Saeko Himuro. English titles: I CAN HEAR THE SEA, and OCEAN WAVES.

Unaccompanied Minors (2006, USA) C-90m. SCOPE ** D: Paul Feig. Starring Lewis Black, Wilmer Valderrama, Tyler James Williams, Dyllan Christopher. Some laughs in comedy about five kids stranded at Hoover International Airport during a blizzard – and it’s Christmas Eve! The general manager hates X-mas and tries to keep the children locked away, but he hasn’t reckoned with their cleverness. Standard fare, kids will find this funny. Also known as GROUNDED.

Una de Zombis (2003, SPA) C-99m. ** D: Miguel Angel Lamata. Starring (Migual Angel) Aijón, Miguel Aparicio, Mayte Navales, Nacho Rubio, Salomé Jiménez. Santiago Segura. Nerd Aijón is thrown out by his parents and he ends up with loser Aparicio. Soon they come up with the idea of making a horror film, but satanists sort of mar the project. Amusing horror comedy entertains for a while, becomes absurd plotwise towards the end. Watch in company, with beer. Also known as UNA DE ZOMBIES.

Una Sull’Altra (1969, ITA/FRA/SPA) C-97m. Scope *** D: Lucio Fulci. Starring Jean Sorel, Marisa Mell, Elsa Martinelli, Alberto de Mendoza, John Ireland, Riccardo Cucciolla, Georges Rigaud, Jean Sobieski, Faith Domergue, Lucio Fulci. Sex & Crime, set in San Francisco: Sorel, a successful doctor who owns a clinic, has troubles with his sick wife. When she dies – apparently murdered – the police think he had her killed. In a night club Sorel meets a stripper, who has a stunning likeness to his wife. Is she her twin sister? Intriguing mystery, with lots of period flavor, good direction and camerawork, as well as a rich, bouncy score by Riz Ortolani. Fulci’s first giallo is especially interesting for his fans, who can compare this to LUCERTOLA CON LA PELLE DI DONNA (1971), though it’s not a rabidly stylish or violent. Also known as PERVERSION STORY, ONE ON TOP OF THE OTHER, and UNA HISTORIA PERVERSA.

Unbearable Lightness of Being, The (1988, USA) C-171m. *** D: Philip Kaufman. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Juliette Binoche, Lena Olin, Derek de Lint, Erland Josephson. Slow-moving but well-made adaptation of Milan Kundera’s bestseller about surgeon (Day-Lewis), who has a very liberal attitude towards love until he meets Binoche, a stubborn woman, who changes his life. Well-acted drama almost seems a misfire (especially to those who haven’t read the book), because it treats the characters with super-ficiality and fails to establish an emotional bond between the audience and the protagonists, because too many thoughts remain unspoken. They seem to be taken for granted. Still worth the time. Set in 1968 Prague, at the time of the revolution. Photographed by Sven Nykvist. Produced by Saul Zaentz.

Unbreakable (2000, USA) C-106m. Scope *** D: M. Night Shyamalan. Starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Penn, Spencer Treat Clark, Charlayne Woodard, Eamonn Walker, M. Night Shyamalan. Director Shyamalan’s follow-up to his hugely successful THE SIXTH SENSE is equally atmospheric and fascinating fantasy drama about family father Willis, who comes to a turning point in his life when he is the only survivor of a train wreck and realizes that he has never ever been sick. Comic book fanatic Jackson may know why… Well-acted chiller builds slowly but surely to the final twist, which is unfortunately not as powerful as the one in THE SIXTH SENSE. Another remarkable feature from the young director, who also produced and wrote the script.

Uncle Silas (1947, GBR) B&W-103m. *** D: Charles Frank. Starring Jean Simmons, Katina Paxinou, Derrick De Marney, Derek Bond, Sophie Stewart, Esmond Knight. First screen-adaptation of the gothic novel classic by Irishman Sheridan Le Fanu (Camilla). Simmons (then 18) plays a girl, whose late father’s will places her in the care of evil title character De Marney, who may be after her inheritance. Creatively directed and well-acted, a fine example of a gothic chiller. Sasme story filmed in Argentina the same year, and Peter O’Toole starred as Uncle Silas in a 1987 made-for-TV remake titled THE DARK ANGEL. Photographed by Robert Krasker. Also known as THE INHERITANCE.

Uncovered (1994, GBR/SPA) C-106m. **½ D: Jim McBride. Starring Kate Beckinsale, Pauge Behan, John Wood, Art Malik, Sinead Cusack, Michael Gough. A young restaurator (Beckinsale) discovers a hidden inscription in a medieval painting by van Huys and tries to find out its meaning, which is linked to a game of chess the characters in the painting are playing. Soon she ‘uncovers’ that the chess figures not only have relevance in the medieval characters’ lives but also in her own, as people she knows well are murdered, each obviously representing one of the figures. Intriguing premise is unspectacularly executed by director McBride, who shows some style but is let down by script that manages to become more and more unexciting towards the end. May hold up if you fail to guess the killer’s identity.

Undead (2003, AUS) C-104m. **½ D: The Spierig Brothers. Starring Felicity Mason, Mungo McKay, Rob Jenkins, Lisa Cunningham, Dirk Hunter, Emma Randall. Well-directed splatter movie should please fans: A sudden attack from the sky (by aliens?) turns people into hungry zombies, and a group of survivors, led by eccentric fisherman McKay must try to escape. Plot never escapes certain strangeness, but zombie scenes work well, and (padded-out) ending gives it a cult touch. Competent score by Cliff Bradley. Written by Michael and Peter Spierig, whose first film this was.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003, USA/ITA) C-113m. **½ D: Audrey Wells. Starring Diane Lane, Sandra Oh, Lindsay Duncan, Raoul Bova, Vincent Riotta, Mario Monicelli. Pleasant drama about Lane, who is shocked by a sudden divorce and takes up the chance to get away from it all on a trip to Tuscany, Italy. The beautiful scenery inspires her to buy a run-down villa, and guess what, life and love seems to return to her. Harmless, clichéd, enhanced by beautiful Italian scenery and architecture.

Underworld (1985, GBR) C-103m. *½ D: George Pavlou. Starring Denholm Elliott, Steven Berkoff, Larry Lamb, Nicola Cowper, Irina Brook, Art Malik, Ingrid Pitt, Miranda Richardson. One of those supposedly stylish, neon-light movies of the mid-1980s: Lamb is assigned to bring back prostitute kidnapped by so-called ‘Underworlders’, disfigured freaks hoping to get a life-saving drug in return. Very strange horror film moves at a disastrous pace. Only notable in so far as it was Clive Barker’s feature debut (as cowriter of the script, from his story). Also known as TRANSMUTATIONS.

Unearthing, The (1994, USA) C-82m. M D: Wrye Martin, Barry Poltermann. Starring Norman Moses, Tina Ona Paukstelis, John Kishline, Flora Coker. Endless splatter movie about pregnant Paukstelis, who sells her unborn child to Moses and his family, unaware that they are harboring a Polynesian demon, which feeds on unborn children. Technically okay, but disturbing and much too slowly paced. For splatter freaks only. Alternative title: ASWANG.

Unfinished Life, An (2005, USA/GER) C-107m. Scope *** D: Lasse Hallström. Starring Robert Redfod, Jennifer Lopez, Morgan Freeman, Josh Lucas, Damian Lewis, Camryn Manheim. Satisfying film about aged cowboy Redford, who can’t deal with sudden appearance of his daughter-in-law Lopez and her child at his farm. Lopez is running from her second husband, who abuses her. Quiet but well-paced, well-made drama benefits from unbeatable Redford performance and nice locations.

Unhook the Stars (1996, FRA/USA) C-105m. *** D: Nick Cassavetes. Starring Gena Rowlands, Marisa Tomei, Gérard Depardieu, Moira Kelly, Jake Lloyd, David Thornton, David Sherrill, Clint Howard. Bittersweet, heartrending drama about elderly woman (Rowlands) whose husband has died and whose children are grown-ups who live their own life independently from her. One day she befriends a troubled neighbor (Tomei), who asks her to look after her little boy. She becomes his nanny, and slowly a close bond grows between them. Sensitive drama, buoyed by Rowland’s wonderful performance. Depardieu also coproduced the film. Director Cassavetes is Rowlands’ and John Cassavetes’ son.

Unman, Wittering and Zigo (1971, GBR) C-102m. *** D: John Mackenzie. Starring David Hemmings, Douglas Wilmer, Anthony Haygarth, Carolyn Seymour, Hamilton Dyce, Barbara Lott, Michael Howe, Colin Barrie. Hemmings plays a school teacher who takes over a job in an English boarding school in mid-term and can’t believe his ears when his students tell him that they killed his predecessor. A psycho battle ensues, where there is more at stake than just Hemmings’ job. Highly interesting, perhaps unique mystery drama examines student rebellion in a similar way to Lindsay Anderson’s IF.... (1968), although it is not as artistically accomplished. Its unavailability for many decades has added to its cult movie reputation. Based on the play by Giles Cooper, filmed before in 1965 (for television). Photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth. Trivia note: Leonard Maltin’s review, which states that the killer’s identity is revealed after the closing credits, is a mystery itself – it’s  not true.

Untitled Star Wars Mockumentary, The (2003, USA) C-42m. n/r D: Damon Packard. Starring Daryl Haney, Damon Packard. Pretty fierce attack against George Lucas, Tony Curtis et al. takes a STAR WARS making of and intercuts scenes with Packard, who thus pretends to be part of the creative team that made the blockbuster ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002). Packard also inserts footage from THE EXORCIST (1973) and other horror movies, which results in at least a few chuckles. The rampant cynicism, however, makes you wonder whether Packard isn’t actually envying Lucas’ success. Give it a try if you hate the STAR WARS franchise.

Untouchables, The  (1987, USA) C-119m. Scope ***½ D : Brian De Palma. Starring Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, Robert De Niro, Richard Bradford, Jack Kehoe, Brad Sullivan, Billy Drago. The story of Eliott Ness and his battle against crime kingpin Al Capone is vividly brought to the screen by director De Palma and writer David Mamet. First-rate cast keeps things bubbling, Connery won his only Oscar as a street-smart cop wo joins forces with Ness. Might have used some more fleshing out of the key characters, but film remains grand enterntainment, one of De Palma’s best. Score by Ennio Morricone.

Uomo dagli Occhi Ghiaccio, L’ (1971, ITA) C-95m. Scope *** D: Alberto De Martino. Starring Antonio Sabato, Barbara Bouchet, Victor Buono, Keenan Wynn, Faith Domergue, Joe Pollini. Pretty good Italian murder mystery, set in New Mexico, about pulp writer Sabato, who will just not believe a Mexican delinquent has killed an American Senator. Is there a conspiracy worth uncovering? What do nightclub dancer Bouchet and a mysterious astrologer/psychic have to do with it? Well-paced giallo seems a bit like Lucio Fulci’s UNA SULL’ALTRA (1969). No classic but well-worth watching, especially for fans. Buono lends credible support. Hip period soundtrack by Peppino De Luca. English title: THE MAN WITH ICY EYES.

Uomo Più Velenoso del Cobra, L’ (1971, ITA/SPA) C-87m. ScopeD: Albert J. Walker (=Bitto Albertini). Starring George Ardisson, Erika Blanc, Alberto de Mendoza. Janine Reynaud, Luciano Pigozzi. Weak crime movie about Ardisson, who goes to New York to find out who killed his brother. Later, his investigations with Blanc also take him to Kenya, Africa. The setting is the only interesting thing about this uneven misfire. For giallo completists, although the first half of this looks more like an actioner, with Stelvio Cipriani’s pulsating score. Cowritten by Ernesto Gastaldi. Also known as COBRAS HUMANAS, HUMAN COBRAS, and TARGET: MURDER.

Up! (1976, USA) C-80m. ** D: Russ Meyer. Starring Edward Schaaf, Robert McLane, Elaine Collins, Janet Wood, Raven De La Croix, Monty Bane, Bob Schott, Kitten Natividad, Russ Meyer. Pretty outrageous, satirical sex-and-crime movie from the genre’s godfather. The murder of an Adolf Hitler-like Nazi coincides with the arrival of busty chick De La Croix. She is hired as a waitress to attract customers. Meanwhile, the only policeman in town is searching for the killer, if he can keep his libido under control. Director, co-writer, DP and editor Meyer even throws in some horror this time, but plot and character setup (from a script cowritten by Roger Ebert!) is a mess. It does boast a Greek chorus, however, in the form of naked Natividad. For the dedicated Russ Meyer fan. Also known as OVER, UNDER and UP!, and UP! SMOKEY.

Up (2009, USA) C-96m. *** D: Pete Docter. Starring (the voices of) Edward Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai, Bob Peterson, Delroy Lindo, John Ratzenberger, Pete Docter. Another Pixar mega-hit, but this time with a bit more soul. An aged pensioner, who is still mourning the death of his beloved wife, decides to live their big dream and takes off with his house (literally!) to South America’s Paradise Falls. Unfortunately, a chubby boy scout is on his front porch the moment his house lifts off, so they embark on the odyssey together. Lovingly animated, bitter-sweet comedy drama with some truly hilarious scenes (love the dog collar!). Plot doesn’t hold up, but a definite improvement over RATATOUILLE (2007) and WALL-E (2008).

Up at the Villa (2000, USA) C-115m. ** D: Philip Haas. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Sean Penn, Anne Bancroft, James Fox, Jeremy Davies, Derek Jacobi. Soapish triviality set in WW2 Italy about English lady Thomas, who choice of Austrian fugitive Davies for a one-night-stand brings about all kinds of complications. Slowly paced, nothing extraordinary here, despite being based on W. Somerset Maugham’s book. Thomas, Penn and Davies have no chemistry at all. 

Up in Smoke (1978, USA) C-86m. Scope *** D: Lou Adler. Starring Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Stacy Keach, Tom Skerritt, Edie Adams, Strother Martin. Legendary first film of the duo Cheech & Chong is a delightfully lame-brained comedy about two dudes looking for Marihuana, which eventually leads them to drive a van made(!) of grass across the border into the U.S. Keach equally hilarious as hysterical chief of the drug squad. Not consistently funny but if you are in the right mood, you'll love this film.

Upside of Anger, The (2005, USA/GBR/GER) C-118m. Scope ** D: Mike Binder. Starring Joan Allen, Kevin Costner, Erika Christensen, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, Evan Rachel Wood, Mike Binder. Allen plays a 40-ish wife and mother of four daughters, whose husband leaves her and his family because of a Swedish mistress. While alcohol becomes her only friend, similarly boozing ex-baseball pro Costner steals himself into her life. Drama sometimes tries to come across as a family saga, and is well-acted (especially by Allen), but final twist negates the entire film. Boost the rating by half a star if you are a woman. Writer-director Binder plays the radio show producer.

Urban Legend (1998, USA) C-100m. Scope D: Jamie Blanks. Starring Jared Leto, Alicia Witt, Rebecca Gayheart, Joshua Jackson, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Loretta Devine, Tara Reid, Robert Englund, Brad Dourif. Stupid horror film set on a university campus, where a mad killer bases his murders on urban legends. Leto teams up with Witt to find him and discover that a 1973 murder spree and professor Englund may have something to do with the killings. Tries to be exciting, but plot is very weak and climax is nothing but ridiculous. For a good horror film on an urban legend watch CANDYMAN.

Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000, USA/CDN) C-98m. Scope M D: John Ottman. Starring Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner, Loretta Devine, Eva Mendes, Joey Lawrence, Rebecca Gayheart, Alicia Witt. Absolutely terrible sequel to the original URBAN LEGEND, which was bad already. Film students are killed by a maniac for a reason specified later. Dreadful, idiotic plot kills this movie. Stay away.

Ursus (1961, ITA/FRA) C-95m. Scope ** D: Carlo Campogalliani. Starring Ed Fury, Moira Orfei, María Luisa Merlo, Cristina Gaioni, Luis Prendes. Standard peplum movie about title hero, who tries to rescue his kidnapped spouse with the help of a blind girl. Doldrums set in midway. Scripted by Giuliano Carnimeo, Giuseppe Mangioni and Sergio Sollima. Coedited by Franco Fraticelli, an Argento regular. First of the URSUS films, followed by six sequels.

Ursus nella Terra di Fuoco (1963, ITA) C-87m. Scope ** D: Giorgio Simonelli. Starring Ed Fury, Claudia Mori, Adriano Micantoni, Luciana Gilli, Tom Felleghy. A tad better than the usual strongman actioner, this costumer has Ursus seemingly killed by evil usurper Micantoni (performing convincingly), who then goes on to kill the king and woo his daughter. However, Ursus returns and enters the arena as a gladiator. Some good scenes, but plot is still a drag. Edited by Franco Fraticelli, competent score by Carlo Savina. English title: SON OF HERCULES IN THE LAND OF FIRE, and URSUS IN THE LAND OF FIRE (meaning volcanoes).

Ursus nella Valle die Leoni (1961, ITA) C-85m. Scope D : Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia. Starring Ed Fury, Moira Orfei, Alberto Lupo, Mary Marlon. Very naive spectacle chronicles strongman Ursus’ ubringing among lions and his subsequent revenge exacted on evil ruler who killed his father. Standard production values, only for the dedicated. Score by Riz Ortolani. English title: URSUS IN THE VALLEY OF LIONS.

U.S. Marshals (1998, USA) C-131m. **½ D: Stuart Baird. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Wesley Snipes, Robert Downey, Jr., Joe Pantoliano, Kate Nelligan, Irène Jacob. Sequel to THE FUGITIVE reworks theme of innocent man on the run with Jones reprising his role from the 1993 film as a U.S. Marshal who chases escaped convict Snipes across the country. Plot is not something to be proud of, but some exciting action scenes and a good cast make this thriller watchable. French actress Jacob is not credible as Snipes’ lover.

U-Turn (1997, USA) C-124m. ** D: Oliver Stone. Starring Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Powers Boothe, Claire Danes, Joaquin Phoenix, Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Voight, Abraham Benrubi, Julie Hagerty, Bo Hopkins, Laurie Metcalfe, Liv Tyler. Bizarre thriller about low-life Penn, who is on his way to Las Vegas (to deliver $13,000 in cash) but has to stop in the small town of Superior when his car breaks down. He soon gets involved with Nolte and his wife Lopez, who would rather see each other dead. And that’s just the beginning. John Ridley’s adaptation of his own book Stray Dogs is episodic, overlong and ultimately pointless. Stone’s typically creative direction almost makes it work. Score by Ennio Morricone.

Uzumaki (2000, JAP) C-95m. ** D: Higuchinsky. Starring Eriko Hatsune, Fhi Fan, Hinako Saeki, Eun-Kyung Shin, Keiko Takahashi. Japanese horror chiller about a teenage girl who witnesses strange occurences in her home town. People seem to be fascinated to the point of obsession by spirals of all kinds. The first deaths are soon to follow. Some interesting distortion of visuals, but film is all style and no substance, and not as creepy as it would like to be. Based on a Manga comic. English titles: SPIRAL, VORTEX.