Reviews written by registered user
|31 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Production on RENARD THE FOX was begun by Ladislas and Irene Starevich in 1930 and the film was completed in 1940. It is the first puppet animated feature film. It is not the first animated feature film (that honor belongs to Lotte Reiniger's ABENTEUER VON PRINZ ACHMED of 1926.)SNOW WHITE remains the first animated feature film with sound. Now that that's done-- Why can't this wonderful feature be released in the USA? Well, Starevich completed it in 1940 in Paris. The Nazis, who had conquered France in 1940, provided funds for its completion. US law forbids any film made by the Nazis from being released in the country. RENARD is actually a very subversive piece of film-making based on a medieval fable. The moral of the story is this: Each man has his price, even the king, and if you can't beat the fox, appoint him as your minister so he's at least on your side! The animation is absolutely stunning and there is nothing in this story that could not be shown today. You may be able to locate copies of the movie in France and it is well worth the effort; RENARD is a milestone in animation. I was blown away by a photograph of Starevich with his "Lion King" puppet--the thing was nearly as tall as the animator! The sequence with the flirty Lion Queen being serenaded by a cat minstrel is marvelous, but then so is nearly everything else in the film. Try and see RENARD if you are interested in animation. It is a delight.
This marvelous film stars one of the funniest women who ever lived, as a theatre slavey who plays both male and female roles in the play to help the love of her life-whom she does NOT ride off with to live Happily Ever After. Perhaps the 'no happy ending' of this particular Cinderella story doomed it to failure at the time of its original release, but it's a delight that should amuse today's comedy fans...please, could we just see it once more? Beatrice Lillie is lovely and extremely funny. I will never forget the sight of her tossing a long fur boa over her shoulder as she 'vamps' the villain...and getting it caught in an electric fan...
Stan Laurel's character in his early solo films was as different as could be
from the dimbulb he played in the Laurel and Hardy team efforts a few years
later. DR. PICKLE is one of the genre parodies he was making in the mid
Twenties with merciless sendups of 'romance' and 'dramatic acting' (if you
can, see MUD AND SAND with his devastating parody of Valentino).
DR. PICKLE AND MR. PRYDE is the Holy Grail of Laurel films; it was lost for decades, then a French print turned up in somewhat unsatisfactory video versions. Now it has been beautifully restored with the original titles, which add a great deal of amusement to Laurel's portrayal of Pickle (a veddy, veddy British scientist). But it is his take on John Barrymore's Mr. Hyde that makes this film a must-have for any comedy buff: Laurel is not only hilarious, he is actually SCARY as he 'menaces' the town while capering around with clawed hands outstretched...
This film is on an excellent new DVD of Laurel's work. I just wish they had also included MUD AND SAND...but this one is worth the price of the double disc set, all by itself.
Buster Keaton walks like an Egyptian and sips spaghetti from a teacup. Fatty Arbuckle shifts from cootch dancer to Salome to Cleopatra...(the snake gets bitten) and performs acrobatics with pancakes and knives, nearly decapitating Buster in the process. Which is to say this is a record of a pretty typical day on the Comique lot, circa 1918. Fatty Arbuckle and Buster Keaton made some of the most violent films ever shot...and it's a wonder that they walked away from some of them in one piece. THE COOK is amusing, and it is a remarkable job of restoration, so if you are a completist for either Keaton or Arbuckle it's worth having. Not their best, but it's good cartoon fun.
DR. PYCKLE is one of the Holy Grails of silent comedy...for years it
was thought lost, until poor quality French prints turned up on video.
Now it has been magnificently restored on DVD by Kino (bravo to them)
and the original titles restored. Stan Laurel's solo comedies featured
genre parodies that were far different from the dim-bulb act he
perfected with Oliver Hardy. Here, Stan is a veddy British scientist
who turns into the horrific Mr. Pryde.
The story follows Stevenson very closely, except for the 'dire deeds' that Pryde does; this is the best part of the picture, with Stan having a wonderful time terrorizing the townsfolk. (He actually succeeds in being funny and scary at the same time.) I'll never look at a Chinese finger trap in quite the same way again...
Why o why are movies today at least one hour too long?
There is nothing in this film that could not have been expressed better with fewer shots of Camden Maine's streetlights, harbor, or mannequins in shop windows. The pacing was absolutely even. Yes, this is like real life. But I don't go to the movies to see real life. I go to see good editing, good directing, good acting. At least the third part works.
The director manages to include just about every art-film cliche there is. What is it with the pretentious Bulgarian singing? Is it because it is as monotonous as the editing?
I was waiting for the slow motion double exposure shot. This predictably appeared late in the film. I was past all caring by then.
The actors play ordinary people and the acting (while technically good) shows its technique at every turn. People stand around and react to each other or show how tormented they are by little gestures. Everything takes much too long and there are precisely three scenes in which something actually HAPPENS.
It could have been much better than it was. As it was, it was physical torture. I have never looked at my watch more often during the course of a film. I didn't care about the characters and just wanted the thing to end. So did the audience.
Boring, boring, boring.
I was horribly disappointed with this movie.
The only reasons to go and see it are the scenery of New Zealand, which is stunning; the performance of Sir Ian McKellen, who brings real charm and warmth to his portrayal of Gandalf; and praise must also be given to Christopher Lee, menacing and convincing as Saruman, and Ian Holm as a very believable Bilbo.
The other actors, including the usually excellent Cate Blanchett, stagger around in a fog as if completely stoned. At one point she is literally reduced to a cheap special effect instead of being allowed to actually act. This must be Magick. I found it Dull.
No one is allowed to underplay anything, unless it is McKellen, when he is not running around on his head. Just because something CAN be done in special effects does not mean it SHOULD be done.
I have seen better editing in a butcher's shop. Why does every single closeup have to have a jump cut that is completely mismatched? Why is there absolutely no suspense in this movie, particularly in the first encounter with the Black Riders?
Too much time is spent on lovingly bloody (and badly edited) battle scenes and too little on character development. The charm and menace of the original books is completely lost. The cheap joke about 'throwing dwarfs' was about as appropriate as a pickle on a Charlotte Russe, and the genuine comedy of Gimli's love for the Lady of the Wood eliminated entirely.
Boromir's death was so comically staged that I kept waiting for Eric Idle to come out yelling "Bring out your dead!" ("I'm not dead! I'm getting better!")
Here's hoping that the next two films do, too.
The most overrated non-film I've seen in a long time.
The point that 'life is a dream' was made more succinctly in ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, in the White King's Dream.
This pretentious exercise has occasionally interesting dialogue, but that's all there is to it. It's not a film, it's static shots enlivened sporadically by applied color and rotoscoping. There are only a few genuinely interesting scenes and the constantly morphing imagery becomes tiresome to watch after a while. The film has one obvious point to make and beats it to death. Repeatedly. I'd have liked it better if it was 15 minutes long, top.
SHREK could have been a nice, simple story about beauty being in the eye of
the beholder. The DreamWorks people are so insistent on putting a finger in
Disney's eye that they persistently undermine what little story there is in
Mike Myers is affecting as the ogre and gives a good performance. Eddie Murphy is allowed to run on at the mouth until you just wish for a pair of earplugs. Generally speaking the latter part of the film is better than the first part; but there is no pacing, the climactic revelation happens TWICE (can't anyone make a film any more?) and the filmmakers telegraph every major story point. If they had slowed down a bit, it would have been a real pleasure to watch the visuals--a decided improvement over the first PDI-Dreamworks film, ANTZ. YOu care about Shrek, which is quite an achievement. Dear DreamWorks, get over this childish one-upmanship with Disney; drop the other shoe and make a real movie, not a collection of parodic shots that date before the film is finished (the CROUCHING TIGER references are going to look very, very dated in a manner of months, as do the RIVERDANCE shots.) The fact is, this fairy tale parody is getting very, very tiresome and there is no need to consistently parody the genre when you are in fact telling the BEAUTY AND THE BEAST story in reverse.
AND GOD SPOKE brilliantly portrays what can go wrong on a movie shoot. Its
one drawback: You have to be working in films to truly appreciate the
dead-on portrayals of clueless workers, egomaniac directors and interfering
producers, and the 'compromises' made to get the film done. All these basic
realities of real film production are hilariously exaggerated here. It's
too close for comfort sometimes.
This is one of the funniest films made in the last decade and it is well worth seeing--particularly if you are in film or are considering it as a career.
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