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Scary Movie (2000)
As has been mentioned in other reviews it's a rather curious idea to make fun of movies that are parodies themselves. All the film makers can do is be more extreme in every way. A couple of laughs here and there but most of the time the movie is just gross and dumb, a bunch of good looking young people running around and doing stupid things, what more is there to say? Even with it's short running time the film outstays it's welcome.
The Lost Continent (1968)
Oddly endearing cinematic mess.
THE LOST CONTINENT is from a novel by Dennis Wheatley, a prolific writer whose books were a compilation of badly written prose, cardboard characters and often inaccurate details. They also happened to be enormous best sellers.
The movie captures his style. We are introduced to characters whose personalities change during the movie for apparent reason and plot threads that start promisingly then go nowhere.
Ben Carruthers is an almost cartoon-like sleazeball and good actors like Eric Porter, Jimmy Hanley and Hildegarde Kneff somehow manage to keep straight faces throughout.
The music is weird; from the opening crooning of a completely inappropriate title song it seems throughout to have been written for a different movie, having no connection with the mood of the scenes.
With it's painted sets and general air of cheapness it should have been a complete disaster but somehow in the end it all becomes strangely likeable.
One for those yahoo evenings with beer and popcorn.
Talent shows through in this weird film
It's difficult to know how to react to oddball films like this.They're not funny enough to be called black comedies and not clever enough to be termed satires. Obviously the director wants us to be shocked and disgusted and just as obviously wants us to keep on watching, in this I think he succeeds in all directions. No matter what the reactions I think very few people will not see it through to the end for the pacing is just right with action scenes coming at just the right moments.
There's a somewhat cheap look to the production, photography is sometimes poor but there are a few nicely composed scenes. The acting is excellent with Vincent Gallo a standout as Sister Gomez.
See it by all means but you have been warned.
Long, technically poor, would be epic.
I know it's useless complaining about inaccuracies in these historical movies, nobody really cares and if the end results are entertaining all is forgiven. Let's just say, as many others have pointed out, in battles Roman legions just did not fight as depicted here.
Technically the movie is poor. Ridley Scott has used his old trick of using muted colors and shooting in murky light to cover the fact that the effects are not very good. It worked in BLADE RUNNER but here it doesn't work at all, and the computerized scenes are very obvious.
As always seems to be the case in these historical films the British and Irish garner the acting honors. Derek Jacobi, Richard Harris and Oliver Reed are fine in their roles but Joaquin Phoenix doesn't register in his at all. Connie Nielsen is attractive but doesn't have too much to do.
I have never been able to understand the appeal of Russell Crowe. I find his acting range very limited and with his squat physique, pudgy face and shifty eyes he hardly suggests an heroic figure. Useless to say any of that to women however they just do their (smiling slightly) routine. It must be his muscles and deep voice.
Some blood and gore in the arena scenes for those that like that sort of thing and no doubt the movie will do a blockbuster rental business but I found it all rather a bore.
Easy Living (1937)
Glossy comedy, typical of the 1930's.
Although EASY LIVING makes no claim to realism it does somehow capture the flavor of New York in the thirties.
Directed by Mitchell Leisen from a screenplay by Preston Sturges it has all the hallmarks of Leisen's style, the gleaming, high style sets, the magnificent cathedral ceilinged apartments and also, unfortunately the tendency to allow scenes to run on just a little too long. The slapstick scene in the automat is a prime example, just a few pratfalls too many. If Sturges directed as well as written the film might not have been as sumptuous looking bit I think it would have been tighter.
Minor details however, the film is a delight, especially Jean Arthur and a very capable supporting cast giving it their professional all.
The Mummy (1999)
Tongue in cheek desert adventure.
If you expect any similarities to the famous Boris Karloff movie of the same name you will be very disappointed, this more is more in line with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" or one of the "Lost Cities" serials of the thirties. There are all the stock characters, two fisted (and multi weaponed) All American hero, "silly ass" Englishman, his beautiful librarian sister and some funny foreigners (in this case Egyptians). There are no spooky moments but lots of action scenes and some spectacular special effects.
It's all good fun with a fast moving, often funny script and a professional cast that milks the situations for all they're worth. Rachel Weisz makes a breathtakingly beautiful heroine and her acting strikes just the right note.
I did get rather lost with some of the supernatural logic but that's a minor quibble. It's all great entertainment.
The Patriot (2000)
Dumb Historical Epic
Criticism of this movie is probably pointless, lots of people will go and see it and no doubt it will make a great deal of money but believe me it is not very good, not as history or as an example of movie making. There is some great Carolina scenery and some effective (and gory) action but there are also some long dull patches and some pretty bad acting. Mel Gibson's facial expressions when emoting are often more comic than dramatic and Heath Ledger seems completely bored by the whole thing although the girls will undoubtedly go for his beach boy good looks. The women in the cast (surprisingly well groomed for rural, colonial housewives) just simper prettily in the background as their men go to war. The British come off best in the acting department even in the small roles, probably because villains are notoriously easier (and more fun) to play than the saintly types.
I have heard some mothers say that they are going to rent the video as a history lesson for their kids. Be careful. The historical inaccuracies have been well documented by now and there's some very bloody moments. All you may be teaching, as you see Mel Gibson training his sons to kill, is that kids can look pretty cool with guns.
I give it three out of ten.
Oscar Wilde (1960)
Cheap sets and great acting.
Whatever money was spent on this movie certainly didn't go on the sets, the furniture looks as though it was assembled by a local handyman and the trial scenes, which make up the largest part of the film, seem to be taking place in a converted church hall or school gymnasium with hastily constructed props. However this happens to be a very good film indeed, the superb acting carries the film and makes it far better than the more lavish Peter Finch version which was released about the same time.
I've always thought of Robert Morley as just a comic character playing himself but here he really becomes Oscar Wilde. You can imagine Wilde talking and behaving as he does in this movie . The verbal exchanges between Morley as Wilde and Ralph Richardson as the prosecutor are magnificent. Wilde enjoying the limelight, plays to the gallery and wins every one of the exchanges until he gets too confident, makes one fatal error and then the prosecutor starts to chip away at his defense.
The minor characters are uniformly well acted with Phyllis Calvert as Wilde's wife, Dennis Price as his loyal friend and Edward Chapman as the boorish Marquis of Queensbury . John Neville is probably a little too old to play Sir Alfred Douglas but his skilful acting makes it work . The final scenes between Wilde and his family are very touching.
Well worth seeing.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)
The key word for this movie is elegance. The cast move through sumptuous sets with the males dressed in immaculately tailored dress suits and the women exquisitely gowned. It seems that all the aristocrats lived in homes the size of Buckingham palace with high ceilinged rooms and magnificent staircases. They exchange Oscar Wilde epigrams in the cultured tones of the British upper classes.
Some great performances. Hurd Hatfield, an extremely handsome actor with a limited range ,gives the best one of his career as does George Sanders as the cynical Lord Henry Wotton, and a young Angela Lansbury is very moving (especially when she sings "The Little Yellow Bird").
One (very small) criticism. The color shots of the Dorian Gray portrait showing his degradation don't match the high standards of the rest of the design, they look more like pages from a horror comic. I think the producer's, with their obviously high budget, could have used a more imaginative artist.
As I say a small criticism. This a great film of psychological horror.
Criss Cross (1949)
Atmospheric but shakily plotted Noir
As usual in a movie directed by Robert Siodmark there are striking compositions and some really tense moments in this sombre tale of cross, double-cross and revenge in a botched armored car robbery.Some convincing location scenes give us an authentic look at 1940's Los Angeles.
Burt Lancaster more or less reprises his role in THE KILLERS as an honest guy led astray by a beautiful woman. Yvonne DeCarlo doesn't quite hack it as the femme fatale but Siodmark makes the most of her looks and there is a well edited sequence of her dancing in a night club. (An un-billed Tony Curtis is her partner).Minor characters, the hoods, bartenders etc are well cast and there are good performances by those two stalwarts of 1940's movies Stephen Mcnally and Dan Duryea.
The story line is rather ragged and there are a few plot loop holes but the action when it comes is well handled.
Doesn't rank with THE KILLERS but it's an interesting look at a heist movie before they became cliches. You can see harbingers of future similar movies like THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE KILLING, RIFIFI etc.