Reviews written by registered user
Balthazar-5

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119 reviews in total 
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Spider-Man (2002)
Superior hokum, 27 May 2002
8/10

I was attracted to Spider-Man, not by the hype - or even the names of Sam Raimi and the brilliant Tobey Maguire - but the most brilliant trailer since Titanic. How did it measure up???

Let's get one thing out of the way... there is little if any philosophical depth to the movie. But on a stylistic level, Raimi and his collaborators have done a very good job both of establishing a couple of fine central characters and reproducing on film the zip-zap highly accelerated narrative structure of the original comics.(And doubtless Stan Lee must and should take come considerable credit for that).

There are some lovely scene transitions that bring thematic echoes along with narrative economy, and the scene in which Parker realises the nature of his new-found powers is a model of emotional gear-change in modern cinema.

Finally (leave the best to last), Maguire is magnificent - arguably his best role since the glorious Ice Storm.

No cinephile should feel embarrassed to see this film - but keep your eye on the style and don't expect too much in the content.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It looks so modern..., 11 March 2002
9/10

It is almost unbelievable that this film is nearly 60 years old. The sophistication of style and structure makes it seem almost contemporary. The film flits from frenzied the mind of Neff, to the machinations of femme fatale Dietrichson to the corkscrew mind of Robinson's character.

A triumph!

2 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A messy film..., 11 March 2002
5/10

If anyone asks me to name a dirty movie, I always think of Blade Runner first. The plot is fine, the acting given that touch of class guaranteed by Ford, but the sheer messiness of the filmed environment just gets in the way of whatever we are meant to make of the theme.

So why do so many people think it's great???

0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Depardieu is great, but I still prefer Roxanne..., 11 March 2002
7/10

Anthony Burgess' rhyming couplets following Rostand's play have their own charm, but as subtitles, they appear forced... I wonder if non-English speakers feel the same about translations of Shakespeare... The other problem, for me, is that Rappeneau doesn't get close enough to his characters (particularly Cyrano) to make them count, emotionally. Looks great. Doubtless the best 'echt' Cyrano, but an opportunity missed.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A magnificent masterpiece, 11 March 2002
9/10

Where would the cinema be without David Lynch? Mulholland Drive is just the latest in what must be the most ambitious directorial career in mainstream (well, fully funded) American cinema. Lynch is the only filmmaker who seems willing to actually use what is one of the cinema's most unique features - namely the freedom to represent actions in non-cohesive space-time frames. In this case, (trying not to spoil) the film has a very unusual relationship to the mind of one of the characters. So what we are watching is not so much what happens (or doesn't happen) as the response of one of the characters to it.

Yes, Keaton has done it. Yes Bunuel (sorry about the tilde) has done it. Yes Resnais has done it... but Lynch makes it part of his universe.

Champagne (1928)
11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Source of hidden gold..., 12 February 2002
9/10

Although the film shows plenty of evidence of being made by the Master, most viewers will probably find it light compared to the 'more substantial' 'serious' films. But Hitchcock's metier is cinema, not suspense, and Champagne contains some choice examples of how Hitch thought cinematically in a way that no other director has done. A case in point is the magnificent visual joke towards the end of the film, when our heroes are aboard an ocean liner. From time to time they are bothered by a drunk who staggers into them and other passengers. However, before long, the ship hits a storm and sways around like a cork, causing everyone to stagger from wall to wall... except the drunk... On a more profound thematic level, this is one of the earliest Hitchcockian essays on the necessity of lying in one's bed if one has made it (cf The Birds). Incidentally, it's just occurred to me how much the Betty Balfour character in this prefaces those of Grace Kelly in Rear Window and Melanie Daniels in The Birds.

9 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Tedious and inept, 31 January 2002
4/10

The nature of dogma (phonetic origin of Dogme) is that of irrational belief. The film demonstrates this in spades. Turgid sociology is piled upon inappropriate camera positioning and inexpressive lighting. Anyone who can't guess the 'unmentionable secret' after ten agonising minutes should take a course in elementary psychology.

The nature of art is that is is a) well-structured and b) timeless. This abomination is neither.

How has it fooled so many people????

One of Altman's better movies, 31 January 2002
8/10

One of a number of fine *homages* to Renoir's transcendental La Regle du Jeu, Gosford Park enables Robert Altman to do what he does best - juggle several stories and numerous characters. Other examples of this genre are Last Summer in the Hamptons and the much misunderstood Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills.

Sensational casting makes the production gel like solid aspic - Kristin Scott Thomas and Alan Bates are particularly brilliant, but Maggie Smith also raises the acting to some starry heights. Downs are rare - Stephen Fry seeming to be inspired by Jacques Tati is bad characterisation rather than bad acting.

Overall, however, the main heavy-handedness is in the over-emphasis on the callous disregard of the masters for their servants. Yes, this is one of the main themes of the film, no, it is not necessary to underscore it at every turn.

After the clumsiness of Dr T and the Women, this would be a good time for Altman to retire on a high...

Alphaville (1965)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A stepping stone of a movie, 15 June 2001
9/10

Alphaville was probably the most-awaited film of its year for cinephiles. After Une Femme Marieé and Le Mépris, Godard aesthetically was the hottest property in the cinema at that time. And Alphaville delivered in spades. It is difficult to explain to today's audience just how stylistically radical the film was, as so much of Godard's innovation has become an integral part of film grammar.

It is also part of the on-going love affair between Godard and Anna Karina who, as Natascha von Braun, gives one of the most alluring performances in 60s cinema.

But above all it is a film about light and darkness, both literal and metaphorical, and the first of three completely sensational films that Godard made about Paris (the other two being Masculin Feminin and Deux ou Trois Choses que je sais d'elle). And even if Alphaville is the least of these, it still knocks spots of any other equivalent film of its era.

14 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Why don't more people like this film?, 21 November 2000
10/10

Browsing the record for Kenneth Anger I was staggered to see that this masterpiece and Scorpio Rising were languishing in the 6.somethings ratings while the much less impressive Lucifer Rising was in the upper 7s... I can still recall the thrill I had in seeing this film at an 'underground' (literally!) screening in 1968. The colours seared from out of Anger's blackness and the characters have haunted my subconscious ever since. This is the most Crowley-like of Anger's films and all the better for it. There is true magic in his style and imagery.


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