Reviews written by registered user
|33 reviews in total|
"The Red and the White" is not a conventional war movie; it moves at a
continuous ceremonious pace, like the melody of a slow march. It creates an
atmosphere where time seems suspended, and the situation, for all its
violence, changeless; one side gains a victory and captures the other's
position, then they in turn are captured, and then the balance shifts back
again... There is continual motion, also, as the fighters move to and fro
through great spacious natural landscapes, shot in sweeping black-and-white
Cinemascope; the feeling for space is the most impressive feature of the
movie (I'm sorry to say that this effect only comes through well on the
The abstraction is enhanced by a total lack of "ordinary" conversation,
which is usually intended to give the audience a sense of knowing the
characters better, even if those characters are totally stereotyped. Here,
however, there must be only half-a-dozen lines spoken which are not orders.
It's hard to explain why all this should not be highly boring; I guess
either you are fascinated by it, or you aren't.
As to the charge of being nothing but propaganda: certainly the Whites are presented in a much more unfavorable light than the Reds; but I don't think we Americans can plead innocent to the charge of demonizing the enemy in war movies. The scenes of atrocities committed by the Whites don't break the tone of the movie, since they are shot in the same calm manner as the rest, and there is no overacting. Most of all, there are no explicit lessons stated, a sure sign of propaganda. If you think this movie is propaganda, you've seen nothing yet; try one of the many Communist-backed films that really are heavy-handed and preachy, like, for example, the East German "Fünf Patronenhülsen", set during the Spanish Civil War.
The first two-thirds of this film are great; as a young and spectacular Barbara Stanwyck sleeps her way to the top, the film moves along with wit and a zippy pace. But then, alas, it returns to conventionality with a thud.
To a modern viewer, the acting comes off as ridiculously mannered; the sentimentality is cloying, and, when I saw it, the film drew several unintended laughs from the audience by pointing out an anti-Communist moral to the French Revolution! However, it's worth seeing simply for the lavish visual style; many shots are composed as beautifully as paintings.
Basically, the point of this movie is that everyone worships Marianne Sagebrecht, both the director and her fans. She's got enough charisma and personality to carry the movie on her own. Otherwise, all it's got is a thin plot with some very funny scenes; the direction inclines to pointlessly flashy camerawork. But who cares about inessentials?
In this country, Lucky Luciano is one of those 20s legends who have so often been glamorized in movies; we tend to be fascinated by such characters, and although films tend to either explicitly condemn them or show them coming to bad ends, they are among the most infallibly popular Hollywood staples. We also would concentrate on Luciano's years in America, which could be a familiar plot of the rise and fall of a gang boss. But Rosi's film begins with him leaving this country; it relates the long career that he had in Italy, in the drug trade, a time that Americans know little of -- it doesn't form part of the legend. Most of all, Rosi deliberately downplays the glamor. The drug trade is big business, and this middle-aged Luciano is a very solid businessman; the director (and the actor) have undercut the expected charisma. The efforts of police and government against him are portrayed as "factually" as possible (which makes aspects of their discussions rather unintelligible to Americans). Of course, all these things will make the movie seem rather boring to many viewers here! If you're looking for gangster thrills, go elsewhere; this is a movie of ideas, a critique directed at Italy in particular.
After seeing the roles that Georges Clouzot had his wife Vera play here and in "The Wages of Fear", where her downtrodden character is painfully abused and exploited in just about every scene she's in, I have to wonder just what their home relationship was like. I don't know what she played in GC's "Les Espions", but she doesn't seem to have worked with any other director. There is a very real sadism to "Les Diaboliques"; the merciless twisting of the screws is shown head on, without respite, which makes watching it riveting, but also apalling.
I wish people wouldn't keep on praising this movie's effects, because, as anyone who's ever gritted their teeth at the thought of yet another summer sci-fi blockbuster knows, all the spectacular effects in the world add up to nothing without a meaningful story, individualized characters, and some wit -- all of which "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" does have, which will probably ensure that people will still be watching it when new technological advances have made its tricks as obsolete as "King Kong"'s. One of the movie's greatest achievements is its meticulous and loving creation of an alternate world, a dream-L.A. that never existed but in some ways is better than the real thing, an homage to the imagination of old popular culture. It also slips in some criticism of domination by big corporations (an odd thing for a movie coming out of the studio system), by contrasting, in the viewer's mind, the L.A. of the movie world with that of today, which is precisely what Cloverleaf Industries wants to create. Indeed, the corruption associated with the building of the freeways was a real event in the 1940's, so the fantastical elements gain immediacy by not utterly straying from reality, just as the toons seem solid by interacting with humans.
Boy, what a vision of our society Hitchcock had... he never tired of reminding us that "normality" was a lot more twisted than we liked to pretend.
A lightweight, intermittently appealing movie of more than dubious sexual attitudes (are we supposed to think that Martina's prostitution -- for that's what it adds up to -- is charming just because the clients are weird? And their fetishes are not so terribly original.) However, there are some extremely funny moments. The dubbing of the blue movie is not to be missed.
The sequel is slicker, but not noticeably smarter than the original. At
least Cameron found a co-screenwriter who writes slightly less torturing
dialogue than the first one; that's a relief. And I can't deny that the
ending provides an emotional high.
The bizarre mix of sentimentality and brutality is even more evident than in Part 1. The one interesting idea is Hamilton's supposed conversion to non-violence, but this, like every other idea in the movie, is not thought through to its consequences. Indeed, there is a wholehearted enjoyment of explosive, slamming special effects which flatly contradicts this claim of turning away from violence, and makes the insistence that no humans be hurt seem, if not hypocritical, at least delusional. Certainly this movie will not prevent its many fans from gleefully watching other action films where humans are blown apart and chopped to pieces.
Probably the scariest aspect of the whole movie is that Terminator 2 is actually one of the best action blockbusters of the last couple of decades.
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