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33 reviews in total 
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3 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Long-Dead Play Ought To Stay That Way, 7 May 2002

Firstly, I love classical theatre. Really! I do! Shakeaspeare, Marlowe, Shaw, Wilde, Molière. No problem! This, though.

The lighting is un-even and there are shadows galore. The sound is dodgy at best (alternately muddy and tinny), and you can tell where the microphones are from the sound levels for the performers.

The costumes are great, as are the sets.

The direction, though, leaves us with performances that are intence, but incomprehensible. Because of the sound, we often cannot hear hte words, but more frustrating is the fact that the meaning is not understood. We know that 'great things are afoot', but the 'why' and 'how' is far more important to the existance of the story than the 'what'.

Well played, this is a play that can provoke great debate & put questions of moral and socialogical structures - as well as entertain. This enactment leaves me wondering why I devoted over two hours to this film. Well, 60 minutes of viewing and 60 minutes of dozing off while my wife kept nudging me.

There has to be a better version that has yet to be made.

2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A must-see for all lovers of dramatic films, 20 May 2000

Why did it take so long for me to get around to seeing this film? I was remiss in this regard. This film is brilliant - from the acting, to the direction, to the cinemetography, to even the hair & make-up, this film sings a morbid song of moral turpitude & psychological torture that can never be re-created or duplicated (at least not with this script). The performances are stunning - Taylor is ugly both inward & outward, Burton is intellectual & therefore more dangerous, Segal is youthful and strong but more easily used because of it, and Dennis is sweet and naive with a great pain inside her that represents the lost dreams and hopes of all of them. The direction is wonderful, even if the re-setting of half of the film is not true to the original play. In a way, it does add to the manicness of the story when the battle leaves the parlour to go to the lawn or the roadhouse and then returns painfully to the house, but we almost suffer too much when we re-enter that confining space & that is true to the text so I can't kvetch about that. The choice of shooting the backs of heads during some scenes is wonderful & real, giving it a cinema verite quality that I was surprised to see. And the editing is so good that I would almost believe that there were four or five cameras rolling simultaneously, the actors did the whole thing through top to bottom, and the editor had to just switch back & forth as the film went on. This speaks to the actors' talents, but the editor can make it jerky & disjointed so that you notice his work - it takes a master to hide his talent. The entire production team was making the same movie every step of the way. You owe it to yourself to see this, if only to learn how a drama can be done to great success. A good story (albeit sad) well told (even though it may leave you feeling tired).

Fail Safe (2000) (TV)
20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Worthy of a re-broadcast, or a 2nd look if you taped it, 9 May 2000

This was something I was fascinated to see since I had first heard about it: a live broadcast in real time of an already produced story (twice, if you count _Dr. Strangelove..._) in Black & White, on National TV, using old-style equipment & lighting restrictions, with an absolute stellar cast. Woah! And it works. I was, in a way, looking for mistakes or wrong steps from the actors and crew who are used to being able to go back & do it a second time, but there were so few that it makes no point in listing them. Generally everyone gives what is needed to the effort, and the dedication of the cast to the text is obvious to even the untrained observer in the audience. The story is paramount, and the only thing that suffers in this adaptation is the lack of tension and complexity of some of the characters' sub-plots -- but I may be remembering the original novel which includes all the back-stories for everyone, and the original movie has more tension because that was done in the time of the Cold War Insanity so it is infused with the immediacy of disaster being constantly present, and that's not something you can put into two hours of TV done in the year 2000. Darn fine camera work, direction, acting, and lighting. All of it gives the feel of a Playhouse 90, or Hallmark Hall of Fame, or any of the other 'great TV Drama' shows of the late 50's and early 60's. The only thing that could make it more evocative would be to put that weird hi-contrast halo around the image, but that would get in the way of the great camera work, and wouldn't fit with the wide-screen letterbox of the frame. Even if it hadn't have been done live, it would have been an amazing piece of work, but as it is, it's even more stunning to realize that all of those fine actors were truly 'in the moment' at the same time, and everyone made the same movie for the same two intense hours. This really needs to be re-broadcast, and win Emmies, and be hailed as a return to Acting and Quality on television. MOW's *can* be quality, if you put this kind of effort into them. Watch this to see how.

To Live (1994)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful, and correctly recommended, 8 May 2000

A friend recommended this to us, and we're glad he did, as the story and characters are as engaging as one could wish. While the 'action' and 'story' is slow-paced, it allows you to really feel the struggle of the family to re-orient themselves in a constantly changing world. The scenes are longer than the conventional length of a North American Film's scenes, and that also allows us to experience the reality of the characters' moment. Wonderful cinematography, great art direction (especially the chillingly ironic use of Mao icons), superb direction, and strong acting. See this film to learn about how life is simple: you have a few problems, people die, you find away to carry on -- you find a way "to live".

Cappuccino (1989)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Innocuous, but funny and adequate., 30 April 2000

A nice little film that has much potential, some of which is realized. I wouldn't run to see it again, but it's perfect for an evening after a long week.

The best part of the whole thing are the two incompetent goofs who pursue the hero for the tape. You'll also see the mother from Murial's Wedding playing an actress who constantly knee-caps herself when faced with a career opportunity. It's not her bets work in this film, but she's convincingly neurotic, even if you want to slap her up-side the head every once in a while.

A nice view into the theatre/ acting world with a bit of intrigue thrown in as well as some nice plot and directorial twists.

Watch this fine film with a few too many extraneous characters., 1 March 2000

Damn fine film, showing the irrationality of an abusive father. Difficult to watch at times, this film makes one want to smack the protaganist but then realize that that's what he wants so one must 'resist the dark side' and fight with logic, and that won't work. The solution is long in coming, but beautiful in simplicity. DeNiro is a different guy than we've seen before. Not a tough, Italian mobster, but more of a WASP nebbish with a Pacific Northwest accent (eg: "Worshington State"). DiCaprio does well and is believable as a bratty kid who is being emotionally crushed. Barkin does fine as the mother who is just trying to make a life as best as she can for her son - hers is not a simple role as there is much layering and resistance within it. The rest of the cast is under-used, and the story's verisimilitude would suffer if they were not included, but the story would benefit from the cutting of Skipper (who only gets to cheese off his father a couple of times before he dissappears - Ansley deserves better), and about half of the various kids in the town. Jack's 'intelligent' friend needs to stay, but the story is about Dwight, Mom, and Jack. The other characters give us an idea of things to come from Dwight, but they are a little in the way once things get going. None the less, a very fine film. Do not watch it too close to Father's Day.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Watch it for the story & the acting - but not to be inspired., 27 February 2000

A fairly decent film, but not one to inspire mass demonstrations for continued change to society. Whoopi Goldberg is regal as the grieving Widow Edgers. Baldwin is competant but a tad boring as the Ass't D.A. And Woods is heavily made-up, but does a fine job of making you squirm, even if he only gets to do it in a few scenes. Somehow, you just don't get too riled up at what's going on for these people, except when "Delay" gets up on his White Supremisist Horse. You should get scared for Baldwin's family what with all the threats, but you don't. You should feel the tension in his parent's dissaproval of his following of the case, but you don't. Odd. This film's most surprizing facet is Rob Reiner's direction - if you thought all he could do was comedy, then see this movie and realize his capabilities. Even though there are many things that you don't care about - which I mentioned in the paragraph above - I was still impressed by Reiner's strong sense of story and character. He just needed to either tighten up the editing, or get the actors to raise the intensity of what is at stake for them in the movie. All in all, a good story, good direction, some good performances, but it's not inspirational.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
NOW with 35% LESS CHEESE than previous movies!, 22 February 2000

Goodness, what we do for the love of our spouses. Jennifer comes home after a long hard day at work with a bottle of wine and a video under her arm. Chick flick? Sure, if you consider a Turtle attacking a pre-historic bird a 'chick-flick'. And you know, it's not all that bad, considering. The reason we watch these movies is the cheesy special effects, the bad acting, and almost invisible plot line or a plot line that is so far-fetched that you roll on the floor laughing in a silly, drunken stupor. This hits most of the 'hot-spots' with its bad acting, and the plot that is both thin and silly at the same time. The special effects for this are pretty damn good! I mean, it's no Return of the Jedi, but it's some kind of impressive if you're expecting a bunch of guys in rubber suits stomping all over a bunch of balsa-wood cubes that are supposed to be skyscrapers. Sure, there are some guys dressed up as Turtles and Birds, but you can spot them and they fit right in with the digital effects. I'm not sure how to put this, but the silly effects are not so silly that you are disappointed. Granted, the desire to see a really cheesy monster movie will not be sated by this - for one thing, it's in colour - but it's a worthwhile way to get an introduction to the Japanese Monster movie genre.

6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
What are we supposed to care about?, 15 February 2000

Once hailed as being an amazing piece of art cinema, this film left us dissapointed. The story is told sparingly, which is fine, but hasn't enough of an arc for the characters to become ones we care about. The trials of the family that employs our young heroine do not fill us with dread, or trepidation. the action is almost non-existent. The camera work reveals what is obviously an artificial set - one that is well-made, but artificial none the less. The Direction is very light handed, and we are not allowed enough detail to select what is important. We only see one story/ set of details/ whatever you want to call it, and it is not explained in any way what is important or what the story is about. While I am not wanting to have a tale handed to me on a platter, I would like something to care about. This film is not it.

Titus (1999)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Bloody good, in both senses., 14 February 2000

This is the film that made Sir Anthony claim he would never make another film again. After seeing it, you'll beg him to keep working (he's since changed his mind, thankfully). But its not just his work that makes this film work, its everybody's - direction, cinematography, costumes, art direction, make-up... you name it. This version of Shakespeare's bloodiest play is as close to perfect as one could imagine. I will grant that my experience with the play was previously limited to enumerations of the physical manglings of the characters within it, but those alone made me wonder how the story could fitted into the evening with so many choppings and bleedings and raping. Yet, Titus himself comes off as being one of the most noble and suffering of the Bard's heros, as hero he is. Titus Andronicus has to deal with revenge upon him from the Gothic Warrior Queen, who is embittered by the death of her first born son by Titus' order. Meanwhile, there is a political struggle for the position of Caesar, with two brothers battling it out with the Senate. Titus chooses one, therebye beginning the destruction of his world, at least in one way. The brothers are battling for the control of much, and at one point this includes the hand of a girl. This ends in tears, brought about by the sudden involvement of the remaining Gothic sons (their mother is now favoured at court, so they are as well). To be honest, any more detail is going to ruin it, but suffice it to say that Titus is put through so much that you wonder if Old Bill S. modelled the guy on Job of the Bible. Everybody seems to be out to get him in some way or other, even if it's just to mock him or make him go insane. The acting in this is inspired. The villians (and there are no shortage of them) are deliciously evil, with the possible exception of Saturnia who is directed to run around and yell a lot (this may be true to the character's text, but for Heaven's sake, it gets boring after awhile, Ms. Taymore!). The sets are both sensual and evocative of a modern interpretation of ancient Rome - as if you combined Pre-Depression Berlin, Modern-day Elegance, and Sci-fi Future brushed metal. The make-up for the villians is suitably worn, as though it's been slept in after an all-night orgy. For the rest, the make-up is typically invisible. The only problem I have with it is the occasional intrusive use of multi-media visions, a la Peter Greenaway. While they're neat and evocative, somehow they don't fit the rest of the whole. It would have been better to either do something tamer (more traditional "vision" stuff with a bit of fog) and let the viewer decide of it was real or a dream. All in all, this is a GREAT film, even with the few problems. You must have a strong stomach, as this is not a film that pulls its punches in the visuals department (there's a lot of blood everywhere), and its shock value is pretty high at times, but if you don't have a problem with any of that; run, do not walk, to your local theatre.

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