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Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007)
Cate Blanchett is the definitive Elizabeth, and she proved it in the first film
"Elizabeth," the first film, was about a young woman coming to the throne in a period of great turmoil, and how she dealt with that It was love in the context of power, betrayal, and survival
In "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," we're dealing with the most famous aspects of her regime, the Spanish Armada, the Babington Plot, which was a major plot against her, and Walter Raleigh bringing back the very early understanding of the New World, and the horizons beyond Britain It is the exploration of unrestricted power
Elizabeth, as cultured and as intelligent and eloquent as she was, had never left the shores of England And into her court, strides an explorer who has literally been where the maps end The gallant Raleigh (Clive Owen) was a free spirit who thrills the queen with his tales and discoveries at sea The classic 16th-century adventurer who doesn't play by any official rules, and he does bring into the world of the court something very alluring, enigmatic and charismatic, which has a big impact on the queen
The relationship between Raleigh and Elizabeth was very complicated There were things holding Elizabeth back "We mortals have many weaknesses; we feel too much, hurt too much or too soon we die, but we do have the chance of love." These words were spoken by Sir Walter Raleigh to the Virgin Quenn It's very rare that the Queen takes interest in a man, and she does
At this special point, England was very weak militarily Elizabeth had discharged the navy And once again it was the old problem of religious instability, which harasses the human race frequently
Anybody that's interested in this period of history will find it fascinating just how capable Elizabeth was in regards to how she dealt with the captive Queen of Scots
Mary Stuart (Samantha Morton) had great respect for the Protestant Elizabeth, and was remarkably intrigued by her, and desperate to meet her, and fascinated For several years Elizabeth suffered about her execution because she really believed two things She believed that any queen was divine She accepted as true that her Catholic cousin was there by the will of God, and therefore, Mary was there by the will of God And in executing Mary, she would disintegrate her one belief that she herself was divine
Mary found it in death Elizabeth had to find it in life So if you look at the Armada, Elizabeth finally does become divine, and that's why we had to admire how the scene of the Armada is shot, by Shekhar Kapur, in that way It's not actually a fiery sea battle between two countries It's a 'Holy War' with Spain Therefore, the defining moments of the Armada is when Elizabeth walks up across the verdant cliffs in flowing white nightgown She's no longer the Avenging Queen She's instead a supernatural being, a disembodied soul defeating the enemy, dominating the fearless of the waves, the force of the storm, and the strength of fire
Dripping with intrigues, plots, battles, mysteries, and strong emotions, the film captured the ecclesiastical spaces of the cathedrals to look more like a palace environment
It also captured the feel of the16th century architecture, linking and matching it to the proper locations
Los olvidados (1950)
An extremely cruel response to the sentimental social comment of Neo-realism
Atheist, Marxist, Freudian, Surrealist, anarchist, fetishist, satirist, or Spaniard, Luis Buñuel was all these or more One of the greatest of all filmmakers, Buñuel expressed an extraordinary personal vision of the world through an exceptional self-effacing special taste, creating a body of work unequaled in its abundance of meaning and its power by any other
In 1946, Buñuel moved to Mexico where, between more conventional assignments, he summed up his creativity with a vengeance His first masterpiece of this prolific period, "The Young and the Damned" was a masterpiece of social surrealism and the founding work of third world barrio repulsion
Portraying the distress of delinquents in MexicoCity's streets, he admitted the effects of shockingly cruel environment but declined to glamorize his victim-heroes: the gang torments a blind beggar who is himself a skillful paedophile, while a Freudian dream the most 'innocent' boy fights a friend for his mother' s sexual favors
The film is powerful enough to make a one firm man weep or encourage a true-believer to lose hope
Once seen, its disturbing images can never be forgotten
Once Upon a Time in America (1984)
De Niro and Woods deliver the best performances in a remarkable cast
Leone's most ambitious epic moves across three separate time periods: the twenties, the thirties and the late sixties
It starts in 1933, with the murder of a woman after merciless gangsters have briefly interrogate her (while Noodles hides out in an opium den), then returns to the disastrous night of the bloody betrayal, then jumps to Noodles' return to New York in 1968, then shifts back to the early 1920s to their adolescence This display in a series of flashbacks and flash-forwards is used throughout the film, until the climax where all the dissociated parts of the story fall into place
"Once Upon a Time in America" tells the story of five precocious teenagers born in Brooklyn and the Bronx, Noodles (Robert DeNiro), Max (James Woods), Patsy (James Hayden), Cockeye (William Forsythe), and Dominic (Noah Moazezi), the youngest
As kids in 1921 Prohibition New York, they take only superficial interest in minor street crime, spoiling things or stealing from drunks, until they start running their own rackets
Noodles is sexually attracted to Deborah (Jennifer Connelly/Elizabeth McGovern), the mesmerizing ballet dancer, sister of their loyal friend Fat Moe (Larry Rapp), the son of a saloon-keeper But the gang's rivalry with Bugsy (James Russo), another street hoodlum, leads to Dominic being fatally wounded and Noodles going to jail for years for taking a bloody revenge in a blind rage
When Noodles is released from prison a decade later, Max was there with a car and a hooker Noodles joins his three pals, who have become prosperous by continuing in the crime world including entwining with unions and the strikers, led by their leader Jimmy Conway (Treat Williams).
The four best friends accept to assault a jeweler in Detroit, for a major mafioso Frankie Minoldi (Joe Pesci), and his sidekick Joe (Burt Young) And at the end of Prohibition in 1933, the top mob criminals find themselves having gathered $1 million
In their vacation in Miami, Noodles was highly worried that Max's next plan is a step too dangerous to take and too risky
The most tragic and moving part of the film is probably the romantic obsessions of Noodles Noodles and Deborah have deep and strong affinity for one another Noodles feels he has the right to Deborah's feelings, but she closed herself to him years ago when he responded Max's call over her own Noodles seem unaware of her decision... Their meeting in 1968 only communicates what could have been
In one memorable scene, young Patsy (Brian Bloom) is awaiting for a young hooker Her price is a fancy frosted cake While awaiting, Patsy attentively observes the cake and recognizes he can scoop some of the white cream without damaging it Tempted by the good taste of the cream, he devours entirely the cake on the staircase and forgets the girl Here we felt the kid's innocence and hesitancy between pastry over sex
Friendship, innocence, trust, passion, honor, betrayal, and guilt are the most important basis on which Leone's encircles his masterpiece
The Duchess (2008)
Saul Dibb presents "The Duchess" as an incredibly emotional woman, somebody who has a lust for life
What rather wonderful about this story is that Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley) discovers a way to exult in victory over things and to get back some kind of power in a time where, really, women had very little Being someone of great vitality and liveliness, she was very much a dreamer and an idealist, a woman who loved being the center of attention, who loved the fact at some point that her picture was in the paper, that the clothes were always talked of, that her every move was commented on
We are immediately impressed by her presence, by her personality She wasn't behaving quite in accordance with the way in which other 18th century women were expected to behave
But there was something incredibly sad about this self-conscious lady She was a victim of herself A victim of her own innocence A victim of people using her for their own profit Even though she seemed to have everything, we realize that it was not that simple And with all of her privilege came a lot of moral obligation and things were never what they really appeared to be
The Duke (Ralph Fiennes) was a misanthropic man, rather cold, unemotional and quite cruel He seems to like better his hunting dogs to his young wife Of course with certain values, that he believes were absolutely right and that he strictly held to
This sumptuous period piece also presents the Duchess of Devonshire as a political hostess
Saul Dibb's film shows us her dinner parties, her evening events, her fame and its extraordinary effect on her
It made her both desperate to please, terrified of doing anything wrong and shocked at her own celebrity and unable to figure out in her own mind why she was quite so famous
And we see the crippling effect it has on her sense of self
A fascinating Western about two lifelong friends
There are two tough partners in justice Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) that have been riding together for more than one decade and they understand each other just fine So they're not initially supposed to talk about their easy, warm, intuitive solidarity We intuitively catch there's something between them, that special bond, that profound respect, and obviously that sense of esteem, of attention and sympathy and most of all each other's needs
Ed is particularly fine It may not be a romantic conception, but he gives his role great vitality He's melancholy, laconic and assured as the cool, nerveless professional hired gun who becomes the town's peace keeper... His justice is rapid and simple Follow his law or get locked up; if you deny, you're going to be shot He's also very faithful, and you see this in his friendship with Everett Hitch
Virgil trusts Everett completely because Everett is very sincere and truthful with him
With his formidable shotgun, Everett is a kind of Virgil's straight man, his worshiping right hand and conscience Mortensen is a sharpshooter He's never seen on foot, in any scene, without his huge weapon His heavy rifle has become almost another character in the film It doesn't matter where, either in his hands or right next to him And that's in the bar, in the restaurant, in the office, and even in the bedroom
Renee Zellweger plays the role of Allison French, a mysterious woman who seduces everyone After Cole and Hitch meet her in a restaurant, they knew that she is a refined widow, that she arrives to the brutal New Mexico town with one dollar in her purse, that she plays piano and likes to be called Allie
Cole takes a liking to her, and makes a very tough decision to stick with her Zellweger plays the malicious new-gal with a great sense of sweetness and gaiety She brings liveliness and refinement to her role
Another strong character in "Appaloosa" is the miscreant cold-hearted rancher Randall Bragg The film starts with the killing of the town's last Marshall and his deputies at the hands of the nefarious Bragg played by Jeremy Irons Bragg is a wealthy man whose ranch henchmen run menacingly and aggressively over the town
"Appaloosa" is a Western of real depth and sophistication
Every punch seen in the film is like a word of dialog moving the story forward, creating tension and drama
Gordon Douglas' film was the epitome of the big-bug films
The marauding ants in "Naked Jungle," advancing across a desert, are matched by the monsters in "Them!" coming out through mists of the white sands of New Mexico after an atomic blast has increased them to giants
Slowly people start to go missing and the news filters though to the nearest towns that the arid plateau can present a real threat as strange creepy whistles are coming out from that deep desert
Rather than an atomic movie, the film is about the struggle between humans and species revolt which invade their cities and show their remarkable energy, tenacity and vulnerability
Just as the Gill Man can only be driven back when he has isolated far from his natural element, the monster ants are all powerful in their own territory and none too easy to destroy outside it
"Them!" is well acted, frightening, and engaging from start to finish The cast is pretty damn good, especially James Whitmore as the pretty intelligent cop who found a five year old girl, aimlessly walking through the terrain of the desert miles from her family's wrecked travel trailerunresponsive by some catastrophe...
"Them!" is a well-made monster movie, an instant classic nominated for an Oscar for its effects
Pearl Harbor (2001)
"If I had one more night to live, I'd want to spend it with you."
The film opens in 1923 and shows farm boys Rafe and Danny as close friends in Tennessee, who share a passion for flying... They join the United States Army Air Corps in 1941 and both show an ability at being daring pilots while training under the command of Jimmy Doolittle, in Long Island...
Their life is changed when they encounter a beautiful dedicated nurse called Evelyn Johnson...
Rafe falls for Evelyn and volunteers for service in the Battle of Britain He continues his love affair by letters with Evelyn who ends up with Danny in Hawaii - Pearl Harbor, where the US Pacific fleet is gathered at rest...
News comes back that he was shot down over the English Channel, and assumed dead Keenly distressed, Evelyn eventually finds relief in the arms of Danny... They go too far, too soon, leading to exactly what you would expect...
By the time that Rafe reappears, Evelyn is in love with Danny
Kate Beckinsale brings warmth and intelligent sweetness to her character... She is quietly at a loss, holding back her tears, when she finds out she must choose between the two charming fighters she loves...
The film honors those who underwent Pearl Harbor The great shots plunge viewers into mass destruction, chaos and incompetence... We see hundreds of Japanese planes approaching towards their unsuspecting targets Sailors sauntering along the decks of their moored vessels when the torpedo planes, armed with special shallow-running devices, headed for the battleships, their prime targets
Bay's cameras move sometimes fast, and sometimes in slow motion to show the savage blow Scenes, out of focus, evoke the sense of disorientation and fear, also of bravery in the midst of confusion in the island's base hospital...
'Pearl Harbor' is a fight between love and glory against a backdrop of America's entry into World War II... The film has some moments of excitement and grandeur
Schwartzman gets some extremely nice-looking scenes of the Hawaiian twilight... His shots of Katesitting atop a rock, reading Rafe's love-letters, totally unaware to the striking Hawaiian surf that threatens to pull her out to seaare incredibly beautiful
A fascinating psychological suspense masterpiece which worked on the audience on several levels...
Scottie Ferguson is a retired detective with a paralyzing fear of heights He had quit detective work after he sees a colleague falling to his death, and nearly he looses his own life at the same time while chasing a crook across some San Francisco rooftops
An old college friend gives him the job of following his blonde wife Madeleine who had some kind of mental problem or might even be possessed from beyond the grave by a figure from the past whose portrait she stares at in a museum
Scottie follows Madeleine around San Francisco and when she tries to drown herself in San Francisco Bay, he rescues her and falls promptly in love with her But Scottie' s vertigo made him powerless to save her when she climbed to the top of the bell tower at the mission at San Juan Batista, and jumped from the tower to her fatal end
Scottie must spend the second part of the movie regaining from the trauma His loyal ex-fiancée Midge helps him overcome his psychological torment
One year later, completely recovered from his nervous breakdown, he meets a red-haired woman who seems the living image of Madeleine...
Stewart gives a terrific performance of a man recognizing his own limits, suffering by his acrophobia... When he is given the chance to pursue this enigmatic woman, his boring life takes on new meaning... He is drawn into her romantic obsession with the past Madeline makes him feel important in her life This is something totally new to his world: a lovely straight-forward woman who takes him into a haunting dream... When he fails to keep her alive, his real world was suddenly shattered
Stewart delivers an accurate portrait of an annoyed human being searching for the unattainable He is a pragmatic man dealing with events in the light of his intuition
Kim Novak is so delicate as Madeleine Her performance is skilled and highly refined She is a pretty woman, very sensitive, not sensual, yet conscious of her charm and magic
This fascinating suspense masterpiece reveals something new with each viewing
Note: Hitchcock appears after eleven minutes of the beginning of the film, walking past a Shipbuilding Co.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
A masterpiece that dares to be excessive!
'Bonnie and Clyde' is not a film about two real people famous for so many bank robberies and murders across the big country... It shows a new kind of fury in which people could be harm by weapons... The film, however, manages to carry the impression that these two youngsters took great pleasure in robbing banks and stores... It also suggests that it was very easy for them to fool the lawas certainly occurred in real life... Though merited punishment caught up with them, audiences laughed at their remarkable deeds and wanted them to get away...
In 'Bonnie and Clyde,' Penn created an emotional state, an image of the 1930s filtered through his 1960s sensibility... The sense of this period reflects Penn's vision of how the 1930s Depression-era truly was, and for all the crazy style and banjo score, this vision is greatly private...
What is also personal about 'Bonnie and Clyde' and constitutes its incomparable quality, is its unusual mixture of humor and fear, its poetry of violation of the law as something that is gaiety and playfulness...
'Bonnie and Clyde' is both true and abstract... It is a gangster movie and a comedy-romance... It is an amusing film that turns bloody, a love affair that ends with tragedy...
A modification between pleasure and catastrophic events is important to the essential aim of the film... In their second bank robbery, a daring and joyful action goes morosely embittered when Clyde is forced to kill an executive in the bank, and real blood pours out from his body...
Bonnie and Clyde take self-gratification posing for photographs with their prisoners But when surrounded by detectives in a motel, they turn into vindictive bandits struggling for their lives... C. W. Moss, specially, brings to mind Baby Face Nelson, when he murders policemen with a blazing machine gun...
One of the stimulating moments in the film happens when Clyde chases Bonnie through a yellow corn field, while a cloud transverses the sun and slowly shadows the landscape... Here the characteristic quality of the Texas countryside and the vague aspect of the story are beautifully communicated......
Penn's masterpiece nominated for ten Academy Awards, including Best Picture, won two Oscars, one for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and another for Best Cinematography...
The Caine Mutiny (1954)
"There's the right way, the wrong way, the Navy way, and my wayand if you do things my way, we'll get along!"
Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) was simply a man who had seen too much of war With the excitable tendency of rolling a pair of steel balls in his hand, he censures the error of incorrectness on everything but himself falling as an easy victim to the intrigues of self-serving officers who felt that their panicked captain is mentally not suitable to command the ship
A subplot, seeming to lack common sense, between two young lovers (Robert Francis and May Wynn) only served to lessen the concentration and distract our attention from the real story Also, at the court-martial, a long trial sequence, was clearly anticlimactic, though it included the film's most tense and unforgettable scene, that of Queeg disintegrating as he pronounced his statement
But we had noticed it all before, after all, aboard the Navy destroyer, the U.S.S. Caine We had seen Queeg as a strict disciplinarian and a compulsive, unstable commander, earning, in his limited imagination, the total disregard of both officers and crew So we knew what would occur when he got on the witness stand
"The Caine Mutiny" is a splendid character study, a tale of bravery and cowardice at odds with one another
The film received seven Academy Award nominations included one to Humphrey Bogart who delivered a terrific performance