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The Onion Field (1979)
Good first half, poor second half
Most people have commented here about the film being let down by a rather slow, poor and melodramatic second half. I agree but won't dwell on it since it's already discussed by better reviewers.
So let's discuss the acting. James Woods is very good as Powell, the main villain so to speak. Danson is very good as one of the detectives. Unfortunately, Savage (who plays the other detective) is a mediocre actor, and Seales (the other criminal) is awful and seems to have walked out of a 1930s theater with his hamming (there's no other word for it).
The direction is tight in the first half but pretty much loses it in the second. I give it points for honesty and not going for gimmicks etc, but it doesn't do the truthful storytelling very well. The director should have known his limitations and tried to go for a more entertaining angle. It'd have been nice to see more of the early Powell and his attempts at crime, and a longer set up of the post crime events and how the two come to be caught. This could have been a much better movie.
Maybe the worst one of the series
I am a fan of the series but this one falls way short. Firstly, Havers's character in this is completely wrong. She is too diffident, too easily ruffled, too quickly taken to task (by Lynley as well as Barlow). And just how are we supposed to believe she is interested in someone who talks derogatorily of English women? It does not make any sense. Further, without giving any spoilers, there are unnecessary changes made to the narrative structure which not only violate "if it ain't broken don't fix it" but also stretch the viewer's credulity. In a similar vein, the action sequence at the end does not belong at all in the series. Even the directorial touch is wrong with the constant closeups of faces. It's as if they thought let's do one about the Pakistani community and the hell with everything else. Despite the pretty decent plot, this episode just does not belong in the Lynley canon.
Andrey Rublyov (1966)
One of the greatest movies of all time
You cannot see this movie without being prepared. You want to see it preferably alone with no disturbances. And you need patience and the right mood - contemplative, philosophical.
This movie is an experience. I have seen nothing like it and doubt I ever will. I am a cynic by nature yet this movie completely affected me, even though I cannot put a finger on why. I broke down and wept at the end of the bell making scene. It was a spiritual experience.
Andrei Rublev was my first Tarkovsky which helped (he does get repetitive across movies), but it's still easily his best work. In my opinion, that's because this movie proves that art and hard work are not mutually exclusive, but in fact good art *requires* hard work. Just notice how much vision and effort has gone into the last bell making scene. Also the raid scene, the orgy scene, the violence, all these are impossible to be art without the effort.
I feel like I'm overselling but this movie is a masterpiece. Watch it.
One of the best
The Goren stories were quite disappointing in season 7. When you find yourself looking forward to Noth, you know something is amiss. Season 8 replaced Noth by Goldblum, whom I *cannot* stand at the best of times. That was an inexplicable move, I mean what were the producers thinking? Who next? David Caruso? The team from CHIPS? So I was at a point where you just go thru the series because that's what fans do.
Well, this episode came as a shot across the bow for me. HS, that was a great episode. The story, the acting, the direction, everything was top notch. I almost teared up at the powerful last scene. And Goren is finally back - I cannot stand it when the episode focuses on personal stories rather than the real stuff, so this was very welcome. The director, Michael Smith, seems to have done some stellar work on TV, I hope he makes it big in movies as well. Can CI be back at Season 8 episode 3?
Palkon Ki Chhaon Mein (1977)
Terrible film, zero continuity
If you want to see Rajesh Khanna's hair change from his older short style to his newer "sufi" style and back every five minutes, see this movie. At one time he gives a letter to Hema Malini and has short hair and is cleanshaven. In the next scene he has crossed the street to give a letter to Farida Jalal and here he has long hair and a two week beard. Just an awful movie. Couldn't bear to watch more than half an hour. I want to know what the other reviewers here were smoking when they saw this movie. The kindest thing I can say is that perhaps the director (Meraj) signed Rajesh Khanna by mistake, and lacked the budget to work through the superstar's eccentricities.
Not much here to offset the pretension
Tarkovsky being pretentious is like Lucas using CGI; but he is undoubtedly a genius - because of his other films. In Andrei Rublev, you can see his sheer hard work: events unfold before your eyes - the balloon, the clown, the orgy, the raid, the awesome bell - all these scenes are masterpieces. Solaris has the mood and sets done just right, which causes an overwhelming uneasiness in the viewer.
Nostalghia has nothing of the sort. I actually didn't mind the last couple of scenes - the immolation and the candle. It was the rest of the movie that was - how shall I put it - duller. Tarkovsky is just being lazy here. Not only has he given up any attempt at hard work, he repeats and re-repeats himself - from his own other movies and then within this movie itself.
The scenes of things under water - done in Andrei Rublev. The family life scenes (including ending) - same as Solaris. Rain inside house - cf snow inside church in Rublev. Philosophical conversations about the same old topics - done better in Rublev. Fog - done in Solaris. Unblinking closeup of painting - you get the idea. Even the immolation reminds of the cow being set on fire in Rublev. There is little that's original here - the baths, the candle scene. That's about it.
If this is your first Tarkovsky you might like it better. But this is a pretentious, unoriginal, tired work with few redeeming qualities.
Extremely overrated movie
Shwaas may have a good story, but the director is utterly devoid of talent. He does not know when to stop. When the story calls for people to act confused, there are ten minute scenes of people miming the act of confusion. When the story calls for a little background history, there are ten minute scenes of Konkan's greenery. When the story calls for a kid throwing tantrums... you get the idea.
Not to mention the extreme closeups so that you can count people's nose hair. There are movies that should be seen on a big screen, this movie should be seen on a 13" TV. Also Amruta Subhash who plays Asavari is the worst actress I've seen in quite a long time. A normal human being would need to practise overacting for years to achieve what she does so effortlessly.
I give it 4/10 solely because the subject matter is different, and the story is not bad. The fact that a movie like Shwaas gets to be India's entry to the Oscars tells volumes not about the state of Indian cinema but the state of Indian judging committees. A movie is not good just because its subject matter is arty.
The Edwardian Country House (2002)
Interesting, informative, superbly made
Reality TV is not for me or so I used to think after not being able to endure more than five minutes of American Idol or Bachelor or Survivor. Until I chanced upon "Manor House" on PBS while channel surfing Sunday afternoon -- the first episode was just beginning -- and was hooked for six hours as they showed the entire series.
This is brilliant television, I've never seen anything like it. Not only was it extremely interesting and informative, it was great fun. The characters were so genuine. Most played their parts perfectly. Loved Sir John, the born aristocrat, who one week into the thing talks about the "clarity of the system... the poor will always be with us... Jesus said so, he couldn't be wrong". This is genuine, matchless stuff! The Lady talking about the undergarments of the time, shyly, a little naughtily, and wasn't her use of euphemisms just perfect? Also the butler, another genuine chap.
That said, I would have loved to see: (1) Less of the reality-TV-like romance (2) More of the cook in general, and more of his argument with Sir John (3) Less and more of the tutor - most scenes he was in were boring, but OTOH his homosexuality which would be obvious even in 1900 was not addressed or even mentioned (4) More information about the actors' real lives.
In any case despite its flaws, it's really light years better than your average reality TV. Forget Survivor, this is the real thing.
Seducing Maarya (2000)
Watching this movie was pure and unadulterated torture. It is a movie so appallingly bad that it cannot even be watched for poking fun at, like Plan 9 or Dolemite. Unlike Wood or Rudy Moore, this director has absolutely no endearing quality and comes across as a snob full of it. This movie is akin to ultra modern art, where a broken toilet or a piece of dog excrement is supposed have great artistic merit. I can count on fingers of one hand movies I've seen that are worse than Seducing Maarya.
I shouldnt even talk about the story... let's just say it is terrible. Every scene is more awful than the previous. People laugh for no reason. And loudly too, and for minutes, and for the same (no) joke, till it drives you mad. Nandana Sen looks and acts horrid. The usually dependable Mohan Agashe is wasted and looks it. The less said about the direction and technical aspects the better. Please avoid this awful, awful mess.
Se ying diu sau (1978)
One of the best of the pure Kung-fu movies
This along with Drunken Master I (not Drunken Master II which was released in the US as Legend of Drunken Master, which is good but not great) have to be the best of the pure Kung-fu genre. This is just one great fight scene after another. The choreography is breathtaking, especially for two scenes: one where Jackie slides rags under the school master's feet, and the other where the old man doesnt allow Jackie to take his bowl. This is the original Kill Bill, just pure thrilling action. The story is so not a factor that I wont even mention it.
Jackie's Hong Kong movies are a class apart. Hollywood spoiled the martial arts genre. The new Jackie Chan movies and Jet Li etc are insufferable because of Hollywood overdoing things. I dont think there will be action as exhilarating as Hong Kong kung-fu ever again... sadly, technology takes away beautiful things. I'll end with a paraphrase of Roger Ebert's on talent: When you see anyone doing something difficult and making it look easy and *a joy*, you feel enhanced. It is a victory for the human side over the enemies of laziness and timidity.