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One Six Right (2005)
There is a documentary out there about the romance and thrill of flying, but this one isn't it.
I give it three points for the cinematography. The steady-cam from the camera's airplane was outstanding as it captured the other planes in flight.
But really, it's just an infomercial for Van Nuys Airport. Think about it. You're paying money and taking your time to watch a long infomercial. Van Nuys = suburb of Los Angeles. Do you really care?
I'm much more interested in the romance and thrill of flying, and much less interested in Van Nuys Airport.
T-Bird Gang (1959)
Flaw in the plot
The acting's middling, the direction poor, and the sets look cheap. Then there's the cinematography. They must have used really low-budget camera and film, because the DVD shows little detail, and in some scenes the white levels are so high, details are lost. Now, I love old black-and-white films that have high production values (Casablanca and Citizen Cane come to mind) but this film isn't in their class.
Now for the flaw in the plot. The gang's leader drives his white T-Bird to every crime they commit. Then why would the cops go to the trouble and risk of putting a stool pigeon in a gang, when it be easy for the cops to tail the T-Bird and catch the crooks in the middle of their burglary?
Touchez pas au grisbi (1954)
Odd foreign relic
You will probably like Grisbi if you remember Paris in the fifties, or love Paris, or are French, or a Francophile, or a movie historian, or a movie critic. The rest of us will see Grisbi as an odd foreign relic of ages past.
By the fifties, Hollywood had established Bogart as the star of crime movies, and the Godfather movies were still in the future. This film, as others have pointed out, ignores Hollywood and sets out in its own direction. Unfortunately, that direction is unfamiliar and a bit boring. All the suave style and maneuvering and arrogance and face slapping get a bit tedious as we sit waiting for something interesting to happen.
Broken Flowers (2005)
This is the kind of movie critics love, film majors swoon over, and the rest of us can't get too excited about.
I see it as an exercise in minimalism. Given a talented star and supporting cast, a known director, cool soundtrack music, and a green light from the studio, can you make a successful movie with a minimalist script? A script that doesn't contain much? That gives the star precious few lines and instructs him to show as little emotion as possible? That gives the next-door neighbor a much more interesting character?
After seeing it, I'm thinking, well, it's different, it's OK, but I don't consider it a great movie, or a successful movie, or even one I'll want to see again. I don't recommend that you go out and pay $9.00 to see it.
Some history behind the story
The movie opened in 1935 and appears to be set in the 1930s. The original Arthur Conan Doyle serial, from which the screenplay was written, was published in 1914-15, and was set in the 1880s.
The movie's flashback to the U.S.A. introduces the Scowlers, a secret society of thugs. The fictional Scowlers appears to be based on the Molly Maguires, an actual secret society of immigrant Irish coal miners in eastern Pennsylvania, USA, in the 1860s and 1870s. They were set up as a secret network of local committees, and they did not brand their members, since they wished to remain anonymous.
Conditions in the mines were abominable, as this was long before child labor laws, a minimum wage, suitable standards on working conditions, or any organized form of labor union. The Mollies fought back with threats, beatings, riots, and murder against abusive mine owners, supervisors, police, and anyone who spoke out against them.
The powerful owner of many coal mines hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to infiltrate the society, and one of their detectives managed to join the Mollies and stay under cover for nearly five years. When his investigation was finished, trials in were held, twenty convicted society members were hanged, and the Mollie Maguires were history.
So the film's use of a local committee of thugs, and the triumph of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, are quite realistic, based on Pennsylvania history.
East Is East (1999)
Save your money
Save your money. The movie isn't worth the price of the ticket. Billed as a comedy, it turns out to be a long, relentlessly uninteresting story of an abusive old Pakistani patriarch in Manchester, England, thirty years ago. Are we interested? No. Do we care? No.
Saragasso Manuscript is an utterly useless antique that deserves to be stored in a museum somewhere, in case film historians ever wish to see what was being made in Poland in the 1960s. It need never be shown publicly again. It is dull and tiring. Its unflinchingly stark black-and-white cinematography wears thin after the first hour. It is neither funny nor brilliant nor entertaining nor thought-provoking. I left halfway through, shaking my head at having paid money to see this film. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you NOT see it.
Zero Effect (1998)
Are you a nerd? Do you know any nerds? Then you're in for a treat in Zero Effect, because Darryl Zero is about as nerdy as they come.
A lot of the humor about Darryl's nerdiness isn't blatant; you have to look for it to spot it. Check out his workstation, what he eats, his ignorance (he doesn't know the difference between a W-2 and WWII).
In his investigations he prides his ability to remain emotionally detached, the better to analyze available information and intuit a solution. But watch what happens when Mr. Logical Person meets a certain woman: He discovers his feelings and hormones, while his detachment crumbles!
This is one of the worst films I've ever seen. Billed as a comedy, I can assure you that I was not laughing, nor was anyone else in the theater. Dull, drab lives of completely uninteresting people. No plot. Scarcely any action. Going to see this movie is a complete waste of time and money.