Reviews written by registered user
|68 reviews in total|
Buster Keaton was a genius, and this 1927 film is his greatest work. It also contains one of the most eye-popping special effects ever put on film Even better, it's not a special effect. The scene involves a train, a trestle and a fire. "The General" is an American Civil War story about the theft of a locomotive and its engineer's dogged determination to rescue it. Keaton is perfect.
Jimmy Stewart plays the greenhorn with more backbone than you might expect, and Marlene Dietrich plays Frenchy, the saloon singer with the heart of cayenne pepper. Remember Madeline Kahn in "Blazing Saddles"? Frenchy is the character she was spoofing. This is a classic Western: humor, action, romance, intrigue, loyalty, betrayal, and Jimmy Stewart. What more do you need?
"Fantasia" is an interesting experiment that doesn't work for me. Apparently Walt Disney wanted to use the talents of his animators to "interpret" some pieces of classical music -- to make the experience a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. So we get alligators dancing and hippos hopping and fairies swirling and demons glaring and dinosaurs roaming and what does any of this have to do with enjoying good music? OK, I confess I like Mickey as the Sorcer's Apprentice. That episode is a delight. But the rest? It's a misguided attempt to turn wonderful Disney animation into high art. Only once have I not been bored while this film was playing. It was the time I turned off the TV and listened to the audio output through my stereo. Very nice.
The acting is creaky, perhaps, and the story is slow to develop. But you'll never see a film more magnificently staged and photographed. And, come to think of it, maybe that story is pretty compelling after all. A Russian classic by Sergei Eisenstein with music by Prokofiev. High art. And a good movie. Black & white in Russian with English subtitles.
Hitchcock is in a class by himself. I'll give any of his films multiple viewings. The story and structure of "Young and Innocent" resemble "The 39 Steps," with a young woman helping a young man on the run thwart the police and prove his innocence. This film is a standout, though, not because of the story or acting (both charming), but because of a virtuoso bit of directing by the Master, in which the location of the killer is revealed. As I watched the scene unfold for the first time, I remember thinking, "This is what makes Hitchcock Hitchcock." I wish I had never seen any Hitchcock films so I could watch them all again for the first time. His is a brilliant body of work, and this is an often overlooked example of his mastery of the film art.
Long after most people thought the silent movie had been buried forever, Chaplin brought his "Little Fellow" out of mothballs for one more magnificent motion picture. The Tramp is trapped in a factory, performing mind-numbing repetitive tasks, and finally he goes hilariously berserk. I started laughing the instant I saw the lady in the dress with the buttons. Like "City Lights," this film is a collection of charming vignettes, this time revolving around The Tramp's desire to settle down with gamin Paulette Goddard. From the Tramp's encounter with an assembly-line "feeding machine" to his unsuccessful stints as night watchman and waiter, this movie is packed full of delights. Chaplin never speaks, but he does sing a little. This work of genius can make you smile though your heart is breaking.
This movie defined the romantic comedy genre, and 65 years after it was filmed, its charm has never been surpassed. The lesson in hitchhiking. The walls of Jericho. "The Man on the Flying Trapeze." In addition to being a fine entertainment, this film makes me think of a time machine. Daily life as depicted in this movie is close enough to our time to seem familiar, but far enough removed from us to seem exotic. "It Happened One Night" provides a delightful glimpse into everyday life in the early 1930's, a time and place only the oldest of us can have known as adults. Soon, nobody alive will have known that world. And yet it will continue to sparkle with life through this film.
This adventure film is a 1933 masterpiece with biplanes, and hand cranked documentary cameras, and wonderful lines like, "It was beauty killed the beast," and "Kong: The Eighth Wonder of the World!" OK, the dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park" are more convincing. But somehow, Spielberg's creatures look simply like dangerous animals, while the dinosaurs in "King Kong" look like MONSTERS! That's an important difference. Also, "Jurassic Park" doesn't have a score by Max Steiner. "Kong" was the first blockbuster creature feature, and in my heart it's never been surpassed. (Did you know that the guys in the biplane are the film's producer-directors, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Shoedsack?)
The early Marx Brothers films are reliably delightful. "Monkey Business." "Duck Soup." Doesn't matter. They're all full of amazing anarchy. "Hello, I must be going." "One night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know." The plots and the supporting actors are sometimes creaky and always irrelevant. Just sit back and let the brothers have their way with you. "Hooray for Captain Spaulding!"
I go back and forth on this one. "Gone With the Wind" was reissued when I was just a kid, and all my parents' friends were talking about how they loved this definitive romantic tale of the War Between the States. So my level of anticipation was high when my folks took me downtown to see it at the old Loews State Theater in Memphis. I was not disappointed. It was one of my first *adult* films, and I was swept away by the story and the music and the Technicolor cinematography and the sheer power of the melodrama. (A few days later, when I tried to obtain the book at the library, I actually had to get special permission to check it out with my juvenile library card.) I must have read the book ten times during junior high and high school. After I graduated college the movie was re-reissued, and I took a date to see it. She hated it and so did I. I couldn't believe I'd ever enjoyed such an overwrought potboiler. Then, some years later, Ted Turner restored the print to its original glory and I watched it on television. This time I deemed it a masterpiece. So, "Gone With the Wind" is on my list of films I'll watch again. But frankly, I don't know whether I'll give a damn.
|Page 1 of 7:||      |