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Routine road movie, the movie that inspired it was far better
This film is very, very loosely based on a French film called Spoorloos, done in 1988. In that film the fiancé of a man is abducted from a roadside stop, leading to his frantic 3 year search and public campaign to find out what happened to her. It is a haunting tale of loss and random evil, mixed in with obsessive guilt and fixation. By watching Breakdown and Spoorloos you can see the difference between the European genre of exposing human frailties, without redemption, and the American genre of righteous retribution. The American film is by far the less intriguing.. being no more than a little nuanced potboiler of good over evil, with the usual facile stereotypes you find in Hollywood films, and of course, car chase. Spoorloos delves into the complexities of the human condition Breakdown can only poorly imitate.
Sex & the Other Man (1995)
an ambitious if underachieving look at sensuality
An unusual piece of film work that was better conceived than executed. The narrative storyline belies and ambiguous framework that penetrates the interplay of marriage and subliminal sexual longings. Kari Wuhrur is outstanding and gorgeous in the character of the wife with the heart of gold -- driven by love, lust and the need to compensate for (or complete) her husband's distorted sense of priorities. Don't take the overt story to narrowly and a host of deeper purposes present themselves.
The Hill (1965)
great drama with minimal cinematic distractions
This film quickly disappeared with little notice after its release in 1965, but has a number of memorable of scenes. A theatrical movie, propelled by strong performances by the entire cast, it all takes place in military prison, in the drenching heat of the Libyan desert in WW2. The central icon of the film is a man built punishment hill, which prisoners are required to climb repeatedly with full pack. There is a great deal of ambiguity and irony in the film, a most difficult task for a director appealing to a modern audience. The clearly cut boundaries between good and evil are obscured by the sense of righteousness of all the characters. leading to a collision of irreconcilable intentions. No one is really a hero, and the villainy of the prison guards, even the most sadistic, seems contained by the proper British regard for 'reforming' these wayward people into proper soldiers. But as one of the prisoners states, everybody is serving time in this outpost. The most remarkable moment amongst many in the film comes when the the Regimental Sargeant Major (played by Harry Andrews), by far the most complex of the characters, quells a prison riot by sheer force of personality and graveyard humour. The competing forces of discipline, frustration, compassion, fear makes for compelling drama.
Touch of Evil (1958)
so good- it ended the genre
Film noir of 40's and 50's might have taken the film making to a level of stark realism and nihilism that has never been equaled. The genre reached an apex in this film. You can argue unproductively whether this superceded Citizen Kain as Welles's masterpiece, but it's almost impossible to compare them. It's fair to say that A Touch of Evil is positively corrosive in its evocation of corruption in a squalid border town. When you see that banner of 'In Glorious Black and White' it's never been more appropriate than for this film, where it produces an almost surreal panorama of contrast, shadows, tension, moral ambiguity and desperation. The whole cast is great, but outstanding are the coolly diabolical Welles as the corrupt cop; and the ghostly and ethereal Dietrich as the gypsy. You might well wonder if you'd entered the underworld, crossing the river Styx rather than Rio Grande. It is a superbly detailed exploration into the dark side of human contradictions.
Yeah lot's of problems- but on the Big Screen- Total Entertainment!!
A quite impressive take on the Roman epic, but very Hollywood. By that I mean it uses cliches of celebrity heroes pandering to cheering audiences and slimey bad guys, both without much complexity or shading, and a fairly predictable plot. Ridley hasn't really tested our intelligence since Blade Runner (if you don't include the 1984 Mac Intro Super Bowl Commercial). Still the visuals are stunning, the dialogue at least bordering on eloquence at times. The battle and forum scenes are terrific even with the enervating slo mo's and some apparent computer generated enhancements. It's the type of film that you can see with your father as a kid and remember for the rest of your life, which makes up for whatever it lacks in sophistication. ABSOLUTELY necessary to see this on a large screen, with a 'big' sound system.
Swimming with Sharks (1994)
i'd have changed the ending
I actually had a boss who was worse than Buddy. A psychotic hatchet lady with a big bad grudge against whole scheming male dominated world. The powers that be finally gave her one more reason to take proper vengeance when they unceremoniously sacked her one Friday afternoon. But I know she was hired again, to wreak fear and havoc elsewhere. Anybody who's had a boss from hell, will probably watch this film with some guarded laughter. It's really not much fun at all to be Guy. In fact it becomes the one overriding and homicide inducing element in your miserable life. I relished every little paper cut inflicted on Buddy's sneering face, and I would have taken an all together different route if presented with Guy's murderous decision.
Grand Prix (1966)
a period piece-- but of a great period
It's hard to rate this film. Its got a soap opera plot pasted on to some really fine cinematography, editing, music and racing sequences. The real stars of this film are the cars, the beautiful F1 'cigar' cars of the 60's with their exposed engines and elegant lines. Within a handful of years aerodynamics and advertising would change the look of racing forever. Even the plot hints at the change taking place at the time-- from the gentlemen's league of the 50's to the ravenously commercial and brutally competitive environment that Formula 1 was to become. Frankenheimer followed the tour through a season, to the storied old tracks such as Nurburgring, Spa and Monza (before safety and television considerations changed them to much shorter, less idiosyncratic shadows of their former selves). There are cameos by Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren, Jim Clark and Lorenzo Bandini, names tinged with tragedy in retrospect. Technically this film is quite an achievement. Many of its developments, however, did not really take, such a multiple images, and the splicing of soft music to intense action scenes. The film, then, is not one of great importance in movie history. But there are a lot of racing fans who hold a special, if not top, place for Grand Prix in their lists of favourite films.
pimple cream and purple haze
I saw this movie for the second time and enjoyed it more than the first. It's all about pimples, stress, advertising and hallucinations. At least I think it's about hallucinations. A crisis of conscience has apparently driven poor Richard quite off the old rocker. He's having a contest of wills with a boil which is incarnating into his alter ego-- and the boil is winning. It's an ugly, evil, nasty boil who wants to use Richard's position in advertising to start of revolution of boilheads in England. What's more he's obsessively shagging Richard's wife (the luscious Rachel Ward), as Richard has been reduced to boildom himself and a mere spectator of his nemesis's manipulations. The speech at the end is positively Shakespearean in eloquence, in a twisted kind of way.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Life of a Salesman
The plight of the salesman has been a recurrent theme in American drama (Death of a Salesman, The Iceman Cometh-- ). Suspended in the feeding chain between the insatiable material lusts of the American dream and the voracious appetite for profit of American industry, his predicament as martinet and professional huckster seems custom made to produce exploited and tragically deluded individuals, preyed on and preying on others. They can become constructs out of touch with any grace or meaning in their roles and their lives.
Into this pathos-laden environment David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross places a coterie of superb actors in a brilliant bit of melodrama. The context of the planning of a robbery to get the 'leads', reserved for 'closers', provides a touch of mystery that works to alleviate the atmosphere of exhausted purpose and the claustrophobic entanglement of the characters with a manipulative sales promotion. The sales group is forced into a bitter struggle for survival at the behest of some anonymous corporation whose only face is that of their top salesman, a vicious, sneering, greasy character played with cool malevolence by Alec Baldwin. Juxtaposed against this is the human element of these small fish in this small pond, afflicted with personal aspirations and tragedies.
It is this dialogue between the all too human and the inhuman, among and within all of the players, that gives this movie its force. Jack Lemon and Baldwin are outstanding representing the opposing ideals. Kevin Spacey as the cynical go between sales manager and Al Pacino as the one salesman who seems destined to succeed by rejecting all ethical standards are also great. Ed Harris, Alan Arkin and Jonathan Pryce play their character parts to perfection. I doubt you could have made this film work at this depth and to this effect without this ensemble of some of the finest actors in today's cinema. It's tough to class this as entertainment, but quite easy to categorize it as excellent, gut wrenching and thought-provoking drama.
A great and unique film for this genre
Whit Stillman's movies are dialogue driven, which is not everyone's cup of tea. This is the first of a trilogy, all of which take a slice of life of young people coming of age, but in the cusp of a dying culture, with a new order and new responsibilities baring down on them. Here it's the prep and prom culture of New York's Upper East Side, sometime in the 70's. The participants dutifully go through the rights of Christmas Balls and 'orgy' week, act sophisticated, and generally do things and say things which are expected of them. An outsider, Tom, with radical social and intellectual ideas, enters their midst and becomes a catalyst of change here as a romance develops with Audrey. Tom, idealistic, insensitive and naive is embraced by Audrey, emotionally more mature but more vulnerable, accepting his sometimes preposterous social and literary speculation as a sign of substance in comparison to the increasingly jaded and cynical world of her preppy friends. A friendship develops also between Tom and Nick, the most cynical and pessimistic, but also the most aware and responsible, of the group. The conversations are lively and filled with insights into character and maturity. Nothing much happens in this film, but the intricate interplay of characters, dialogue and ambiance make for a fascinating and penetrating look at these young people's lives. It unfolds like a ballet. This is a fine film which doesn't rely on angst or melodrama-- and maintains a humor, poignancy and charm which makes it a rare achievement for the genre. Stillman's other two films in the trilogy are also highly recommended.