Reviews written by registered user
|17 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Truly, one of the greatest mistake the Academy has made is not awarding
this film the Best Picture award. For months, I argued that while "Titanic"
was a nice spectacle with great special effects, the script, the directing
and the acting was all rather mediocre. However, here we have "L.A.
Confidential." Perfection in script. Perfection in directing. Perfection in
cast. Obviously, because Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Kevin Spacey all
gave Oscar worthy performances, the voting was split, and therefore, none
got enough votes for a nomination.
Crowe gave an invigorating performance and Bud White, a man who knows that he is not very smart and has instead relied on pure brawn all his life. But as the film progresses, you watch him yearn to put his strength aside and become self-reliant, instead of being purely muscle for the cause of justice, which has become obscured as he has had to resort to violent and debatably immoral method to preserve peace in Los Angeles. And yet, while he does make us question whether he is going to end up on the side of good or evil by the end of the film uncertain, we do empathize enough with him to hope that he does redeem himself by the end.
Pearce delivers Ed Exley as a man who is wholly set on the purest means of justice. While he follows his father into the same profession, his goals are unique; to uphold the law without having to bend or break it. And yet, his good aspiration are certainly out of place in the corrupt organization of the police of that time. He slowly becomes drawn into the graft. He becomes glory-hungry, pulling whatever strings he has to in order to be promoted or be seen in a good light by the press. And yet, he does begin to find himself giving into exactly the cause he fought against. And so, throughout the film, he struggles to overcome the instinctive nature of man to achieve power and glory. He has to be a better man than that. And so, the audience can quickly see the nobility in that. He is not perfect. But at least he tries to be.
And probably the best performance in the film comes from Spacey. Here we see what Exley might have become in a few years if he wasn't careful. Jack Vincennes has succumb to the call of money and celebrity status. He does not care in the least about duty or about justice. It's all become simply a matter of vanity. And yet, he begins to see through his own fault. Spacey's performance is undoubtable the best, because he is one of those actors who doesn't have to try to communicate his emotions in order to communicate them (or, at least, he is good enough not to show the strings). I had to watch this film several times to really take in the impact of his role, and fully absorb his character. His key moments within the middle of the film are absolutely unforgettable. When he stares into the mirror of the bar after receiving the hundred dollar bill, that scene is a turning point for the character. And he was able to convey the message of that scene without saying a thing. And also, when asked why he became a cop, the delivery of that next line, just that, was Oscar worthy on its own.
Even aside from those three performances, it would have been totally respectable if James Cromwell or Danny DeVito had received a nomination. Truly, this film had one of the greatest ensemble casts ever captured on screen.
This film, better known in the U.S. as "The Professional", is a wonderful and intense film. Jean Reno plays his role as a "cleaner" with incredible subtlety. Leon tries to keep his emotions completely suppressed, yet Matilda (in an extraordinary performance by a young Natalie Portman, who is destined to become a very powerful actress into her adult life) bring out in him a new-found joy for life that accompanies his growing paternal instincts. But, the most dynamic element of this film is undeniably Gary Oldman's performance as a wildly sadistic and crooked DEA agent with his own narcotic-induced demons. His obsessions eventually lead him to the brink of absolute madness in his hunt for the cleaner. Truly, this is Oldman's finest performance to date, worthy of Oscar glory, though sadly forgotten. And so, Luc Besson did indeed top his triumph of "La Femme Nikita" by far with this masterpiece. Though, I cannot exactly praise his most recent effort with the sci-fi misfire, "The Fifth Element."
The promo for this film is absolutely right. This film is depicting a culture. Across the country, blue-collar, dayjob-working, non-college educated workers immediatly associated with this film. Often, "getting by" becomes a parody in itself. Otherwise, that sense of getting nowhere with your life, of utter despair, could be overwhelming. But, as this film shows , even those little oddities and coincidences that happen every day in life can be fulfilling and entertaining if you just know how to view them. And Kevin Smith has done this with piercing precision, with an ear for natural dialogue that matches that of Mamet-esqe perfection. And, for those who find the vulgarity offensive, take a job at a convenience store like that one and you'll see pretty quickly that this is simply incorporating the kind of coarse dialect that is more commonplace in society today than it has been in decades before. As they say, art imitates life. And this is about as true to life as many people have seen on the big screen before.
Proof that westerns can be fun, Tombstone delivers an action-adventure popcorn movie that doesn't have to be campy and one-dimensional to be enjoyable. Here, Wyatt Earp biography is told like a fable. Sure, the facts are often recalculated in this film. But this is not looking to give a straight-on accurate view of Wyatt Earp's life. This is trying to take a man's life as a basis and then add to it to make a cinematic joyride. As opposed to the overlong and plodding "Wyatt Earp," this film decides to have a good time with the story and not get too bogged down in the misery. Kurt Russell is powerful as awful, and no man can deny that Val Kilmer, in his finest performance to date, was fully due for an Oscar nomination, if not an Oscar win. And Michael Biehn also gives a first rate performance as the sadistic Johnny Ringo. This is a thrill ride for anyone who loves westerns, or a good film to try to get others to start watching westerns.
In what has been hailed as the last great Western that will ever be made (though I recommend the recent "Tombstone" as well), Clint Eastwood proved that he is capable of creating a masterpiece. The amazing script, which slowly turns from what looks like any other decent western into an intricate study of morality and mortality and eventually, a message arises of the horrors of violence. Yet, it is Eastwood who truly does take this film up to the next level and then up several levels more. His bold, stylish camera work makes this film pristine and conveys every mood he wants to convey in every scene so that you could watch it with the sound turned off and still feel every emotion intended with every scene. Also, in front of the camera, Eastwood's performance is his greatest to date. He embodies William Munny perfectly. You see that he is a good man, a reformed and repented man. You sense the good that his former wife did him. And at the same time, you can almost feel those demons that used to rule him. The carries with him a brooding presence and you just know that this man has seen evil... he has been a part of it. The greatest struggle in this film, the suppression of carnal instincts, occurs within this man. And you watch that happen throughout the entire film, occurring all within him. Also, stellar performances by Gene Hackman (for which he won an Oscar), Morgan Freeman and Richard Harris maintain this films excellence. Also, Jaimz Woolvett delivers an emotionally dynamic performance as a naive young man, trying to prove his self-worth and maturity by trying to become the kind of killer Munny used to be, though the message is eventually delivered... what William Munny used to be is the opposite of self-worth and maturity. It was an animalistic and berserk nature that everyone harbors, and it is only through determination and courage that they can be overcome.
Quentin Tarantino proved his cinematic genius to the entire film industry with the revolutionary Pulp Fiction. Yet, several years before that, he burst onto the scene with this film, with just as masterful a showcase of solid, colorful ensembles of characters, dramatic empathy for usually unsympathetic archetypes and gory violence subdued and made watchable by mixing a sadistic sense of humor and style into the mix. Michael Madsen delivers one of the most frightening performances ever seen in modern cinema as Mr. Blonde, a devil-may-care sociopath. After watching his most graphic scene, you will never be able to listen to "Stuck in the Middle With You" in the same way again. Also, Havey Kietel and Tim Roth give the film its most touching edge, as Kietel's Mr. White develops a very paternal relationship to the mortally-wounded Mr. Orange, creating a trust and honor to protect him at any cost, which is just what he is challenged with. The cast is rounded out with equally remarkable performance by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Chris Penn and Laurence Tierney as this drama eventually hits a crucial peak, leaving you with a climax that won't soon be forgotten, even when listening to the spookily sedate Harry Nillson song "Coconut" as the credits roll.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This slow-paced journey of a writer being lured into a doomed life in the limbo-esqe state of California (synonymous with misery) takes it time developing and preparing itself for a dynamic execution in the end. John Turturro is brilliantly subdued as the tragic writer. Most of the most powerful emotions he conveys are not done through any words or even give -away facial expression. He finds a way to make all those emotions implied, so that you, the viewer, almost insert your own feelings of anguish and impotence into his role. Michael Lerner earned an Oscar nomination as an enthusiastic director, who is critically self-determined, though constantly shifting on what he is supposed to be determined about. John Mahoney, Judy Davis and Tony Shaloub also turn in solid, dependable performances. But above all the other actors, it is John Goodman who shines in a brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed role. While I will not give away the secret behind his character, this is not a performance that any true film buff will want to miss. It is one of the most dynamic and powerful performance in recent memory. And so, you will not want to miss this, the Coen brothers most moody and tightest film, even beyond their other masterpiece, "Fargo."
Here we have Sidney Lumet at his best. "Network" follows a struggling television network as it goes to drastic and immoral measures to get ratings. And as unreasonable and unrealistic as it seemed at the time... nowadays, it is frighteningly reminiscent of modern television. William Holden gives an incredible performance as a producer who sees to what ludicrous extents the network has gone, but is unable to stop it. Frankly, mainstream society's willingness to swallow the sensationalism the network feeds them is more powerful than anything he can do. And therefore, he must sit back and watch it happen. Peter Finch gives an excitable performance as well as an anchorman who has been driven to a mental breakdown, and then becomes the voice of the masses. Faye Dunaway, usually a terribly stagey and unrealistic actress, actually tags her role for once, for which I give credit most to the screenwriter for fleshing out such a solid female character (not always so available). Robert Duvall is strong in his role as a power-hungry executive. And Ned Beatty, proving that he is capable of magnificent acting, received an Oscar nomination simply upon one perfectly scripted and perfectly delivered monologue. In fact, when you break the script down, you find that for the most part, this film is just a series of precise, fine-tuned monologues. And there is nothing wrong with that. No other movie since has come close to hitting upon the subject of media frenzy, America's obsession of television and mass-market sensationalism quite so well as this film did.
What makes this film so powerful is the message that it made at the time of its release. This film came out at a height of paranoia of the nuclear age and the Cold War, right around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This film depicts a horrible, tragic incident in which a breach in the government and a few diplomatic mistakes result in nuclear holocaust. So, why didn't this film inspire panic? Because of the brilliant way in which Kubrick presents it... as a satire. The scariest thing about this film in retrospect is not how it depicts the impending doom of the Cold War, but how it makes you laugh at it. By presenting it with humor, it conveys just how much of a farce the nuclear arms race was in real life. And I don't think that any other film has captured the absurdity of war nearly as well as this one has. And I am not likely to believe that one ever will. In my opinion, Kubrick has never made a better film since. And kudos to George C. Scott for his astounding performance, as well as Peter Sellers for the most versatile acting I've seen from an actor in one film, and to Sterling Hayden, for performing the most serious, yet the most hilarious role in film with perfect accuracy. Beware of fluoridation!
First off, what is so amazing about this film is that, for the time that
it was made, how modern it looks. David Lean certainly had the eye of any
modern director and managed to direct a visual masterpiece at a time when
many films were still being shot in black and white.
William Holden gives one of his finest performances as a cynic of warfare , citing for us the insanity and absurdity that the combatants often convey. And he hates the war, but he cannot avoid been thrown back into it again and again. We wish he could stay on the beach with his nurse lover, but he is a man destined for a tragic doom for his country, whether he wants to or not.
Alec Guiness also delivers a fine performance as a bold general whose own pride is, at the same time, his most noble quality as well as his greatest fault. He is uncompromising, yet when the Japanese submit to his demands, he begins overseeing the construction of the bridge with great esteem. Eventually, for him, the bridge becomes a manifestation of his belief of the superiority of the British Army, which he follows like a religion. And in putting all his pride into this bridge, he loses sight of even the British's own true agenda. Truly, his sense of overwhelming honor is, at the same time, his downfall in a descent to a loss of morality, and a sense of good and evil.
And yes, by the end of this film, we learn a great lesson of the horrors of war. Not only does it take the lives of many good men, but the utter failure and despair that accompany it make it an unbearable existence. And this message has only recently been re-evaluated with the also-brilliant masterpiece "Saving Private Ryan." But, keep in mind that it took forty years to regain the power that this film inspired so long ago.
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