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32 reviews in total 
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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Family Saga Recounts the End of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, 17 January 2007

The film represents the journey of a bourgeois family in the last few years before Austria-Hungary decreed its demise by starting WW I in 1914. I must say first that this movie feels like the typical quality European TV "historical dramas" always playing on the Eurochannel, where I watched it. Eurochannel shows TV films and miniseries produced mostly by Canal Plus and ARTE in the Americas, principally in Argentina, Brazil, Canada and Mexico.

But, as IMDb doesn't show this title as TV, I must be wrong. Nevertheless, my comment above reflects my overall assessment of the film: it's a good and short historical epic, with the requisite family drama thrown in to dramatize events. This family shows us the tremendous gaps between classes in the Empire, as well as the clash of nationalities, which were bound to explode, in WW I or since 1992 with the wars dismantling Yugoslavia, which was the southern part of the Empire, mostly.

The plot goes more or less like this. Ernst (Florian Stetter), son of a respected ophthalmologist who runs his family with a strong hand, expecting his son to become a doctor also. But Ernst's first days as a doctor is far from his father's ideals. He marries the pregnant house maid to preserve family honor only to discover that she lied about his causing the pregnancy.

After suffering this deception, Ernst begins a torrid romance with a noble, married woman. Both risk everything to live out their great love. However, as Ernst's medical career evolves, as a war doctor, his personal life bites the dust.

Ernst ensuing conflicts with his father, his (ex) wife, his lover, and his wish to embrace psychiatry (against his father will) are all influenced and interact with the end of the war, and Austria's new fate. This is a good film for those who enjoy the genre.

Pink Punch (2004)
6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Good crime film in line with the new Mexican cinema, 5 November 2005

This film, currently playing on Latin American Cinemax, for those of you out there in cable TV land, is a good crime film in the general mold of the new Mexican "reality" cinema ("Amores Perros", "Nicotina" & the like).

This one is somewhat different in that it is not located in gritty Mexico City. Its depiction of life in a Mexican jail and its variety of inmates add freshness to what is becoming a somewhat over worked genre. The film's location at a large city just on the other side of the U.S. also allows the film makers to address issues and crimes inherent to border towns, another welcome difference from recent Mexican films exported abroad.

The title refers to one of the main characters who is a boxer "Pink Fists". But don't be fooled, this is not a boxing movie. The part time boxer (also a mortician) becomes involved with the world of crime by accident - being at the wrong place at the wrong time. His consequent involvement with this underworld is what moves the film. Definitely recommendable.

Swindled (2004)
10 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Outstanding Criminal Thriller! Great cast too, 5 November 2005

This is an outstanding criminal thriller, and with a great cast too. Spanish language cinema's best and most popular actors of the past couple of decades, Victoria Abril and Federico Luppi, team up in one of the better Spanish language crime thrillers of 2004-5.

The film begins by focusing on thirty something Ernesto (Ernesto Alterio), an elegant, attractive and slick thief who learned from childhood friend Gitano, and more recently from Manco, an old seasoned swindler. Manco introduces Ernesto to Federico (Federico Luppi), an also elegant, but more astute & experienced methodical thief - the best in his class.

Federico's only known weakness is Pilar (Victoria Abril), his former mistress and partner. She suddenly appears and proposes a fabulous rip-off scheme to her former lover, a crime in grand scale, which will eventually require the help of Ernesto, Manco and Gitano, among others.

The script is full of twists and surprising reversals, particularly towards the end of the film. One criticism about the film I've heard a lot is that there are too many plot twists towards the end, but I disagree. The film captivates the audience so much that all the unexpected events are not too much to follow. In fact, these are what make the film outstanding. I highly recommend it.

17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Gay or not, Hitler's life captivates;the vintage images alone are worthwhile, 27 December 2004

Whether Hitler was gay or not, how sexual (or not) he was,... these points will always be debatable, and stir great controversy.

This documentary is based on a well researched book by a known (not gay) historian, who claims Hitler was gay, after dedicating a good part of his life to researching the claim. He and many other eloquent characters (including Hitler era survivors) are interviewed masterfully in this film, alternating with extraordinary vintage images, rarely seen - even for those who think they've seen it all.

These "lost" images alone make this film a must watch. Additionally, the arguments (pro and con) about Hitler's sexuality are very well told using cinema as a medium, especially when compared to a book as a medium for this debate. The live testimonies in both German and English, from contemporary intellectuals, and from witnesses who were there 60 or 70 years ago, plus uncovered "secret" letters, passionate arguments from the "he was gay" camp and the "he wasn't gay at all" side ALL come together to make for a powerful documentary.

A must watch, and a shame it has been restricted mainly to gay film festivals so far. The film is of great interest to all; proof that even the worst monster is often a mere human, surrounded by all the speculative gossip we all suffer: a complex contradictory paradox, ultimately unable to really decipher after death. But it's sure fascinating to speculate with so many "irrefutable theories" and passionate opinions abound.

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful movie about a rarely shown war, 1 November 2004

While the underlying theme and plots of most war movies are similar, this film at least adds the novelty of this rarely shown, but nevertheless, very critical and crucial world conflict.

I (and the film) refer to the drug traffic/coke labs/Maoist rebels/ Venezuelan/Colombian feud. It's a multi faction civil war that is rarely talked about since, of course, the area is neither in Eurasia or North America. But the coke and crack consumers that keep it going are. So, though dozens of films continue to address Bosnia and the ex-Yugoslavia (close to "Europe" and the Middle East), hardly any have been made about this ongoing war which is even more complicated, and ongoing than any other, and closer to many Europeans and North America drug users than anyone wants to recognize.

This film is a light, comedic way of educating those in the "rest of the world" what those around you may contribute to, if not cause, this war and keep it going, fueled by continued consumption of drugs from South America (virtually all, if not all the coke and derivatives, plus marijuana, with a sideline of Ecstasy production, this last drug not native to the area). It is also an interesting take on Venezuelan/Colombian relations along the long, drug, and guerrilla infected border they share.

The film is not at all a sermon about this subject. I personally make it a point in this comment to highlight why the film is so unique, so worth watching. All this, in addition to its being a wonderful, entertaining film, showing human qualities and frailties which can be appreciated anywhere.

Truly exceptional, this film has been a hit at all the festivals it's hit so far. Here in Brazil, it was a hit in Rio in September, and is on the list of the top ten most-voted films at the S. Paulo Festival in October/early November. Highly recommendable!

11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Original; Among the best South American films of 2000, 13 June 2001

This outstanding Argentine independent film is one of the very best of the year 2000 from all South America, including Argentina, which is producing an astonishing number of quality films since 1999. In 2000 alone, Argentina released many quality films, which broke Argentine B.O. records. A half dozen were internationally acclaimed, like this one, at important world film festivals. After viewing this film, one can see how home grown Argentinian films were able last year to recapture 20% of its national movie market.

Directed by one of Argentina's best directors, Daniel Burman, this film examines effects of globalisation worldwide, but emphasizes its impact on Argentina, and particularly the Jewish community of Buenos Aires. Daniel Hendler is wonderful as the nice Jewish boy, trying to survive and even succeed in today's business climate. Hector Alterio, one of the great actors of Hispanic Cinema worldwide, is perfect as Simon, the Jewish father, as is the rest of the cast, which includes Spanish and Italian stars.

So many current themes in urban Western societies are explored, I don't have enough space to go into detail. Daniel Burman cleverly weaves them into the plot with different characters personifying diverse dilemmas. If this film plays at a festival near you, or on video, don't miss it!

South Pacific (2001) (TV)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An older cast in a new version, 23 May 2001

Maybe, it will take something like MOULIN ROUGE to revive the American musical genre. What we see implied, once again, in this new "South Pacific" is that no youngish actors can either play or want to be in the classic ones anymore. Furthermore, the characterizations have changed, the singing is anything but innovative.

Fifty to fifty-five year old women in roles written for young women in their twenties or thirties; an aging Yugoslav playing a not-so old Frenchmen; Ethnic Chinese replace Polynesian islanders; More "natural" singing replaces the operatic or "pop" voices of old....

All these are typical of the new 2001 Version of 'South Pacific,' last shown on a screen in 1958 starring a young, musical starlet (Mitzi Gaynor), a dashing Italian as the Frenchmen, and a Polynesian looking woman.

OK. A different style. But, I believe "creative casting" is only possible in staged musicals or operas, not in a new "modern" version. Still, the version, new or old, should be historically correct, and avoid rewriting American military history. Though politically correct, unsegregated groups of multi ethnic servicemen, the African American ones singing and dancing in arms with their white counterparts in particular, are just unacceptable, even offensive to previously disadvantaged races, whose past is mocked by being sanitized like this.

The times have certainly changed, and this production's only obvious achievement is the obvious, almost archival comparison that contrast 1958 and 2001 sensitivities, and realities. It is now confirmed that great singing is strictly the reduct of the filmed sung opera; ethnic Chinese and Indians have taken over the South Pacific islands; and mid 50s is the undisputed prime of life, the age to fall in love, an acting "like a schoolboy" or a "schoolgirl."

As for those last lines, maybe they should be rewritten as in "West Side Story" where Maria no longer "feels pretty, and witty and gay," but rather "pretty and witty and bright."

It will be interesting to see if in another 43 years or so, 30 year old navy seals will be in their sixties; a Frenchman will be played by anyone remotely European, and whether there will be any attempt at all at singing the songs as originally written-that is, for singers!

This production is a Geritol-set, rapper-like version of SOUTH PACIFIC, in a rewritten historical context.

Really, as much as I admire them, how much longer can the ageless Glenn Close and Bernadette Peters, both now well into their 50s, remain ageless and the only female musical stars of Anglo-Saxon culture worldwide? The only ones who appear in TV or video musicals. Can the American musical ever come back as something close to the original? Other than as dubbed Disney cartoons, of course.

This SOUTH PACIFIC suggests the art form is forever gone. Well, maybe Madonna, Whitney Houston, and John Travolta are its future, if they ever come out of their eternal adolescence. Or is its future a totally revamped Hollywood musical, like one hitting the screens now in 2001?

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Life as a late middle aged woman, in Catalan, 23 May 2001

"Anita..." deals with the issues of an aging 50-something woman in a Latin European city. It is the latest film by Ventura Pons, the Spanish director well-known for Catalan language dramas. Like his other films "Amic Amat" & "Caricies", this one is also set in Barcelona. And also like another couple of Catalan films, the movie stars Rosa Maria Sarda, one of Spain's best and most veteran actresses, whether in Spanish or in Catalan.

Other than the language issue, the film is not all that unique. But, the film excels through subtle details by Ventura Pons, through Rosa Maria Sarda's poignant (perhaps quite personal) performance, and with the comic-relief provided by the reliable Maria Barranco. I highly recommend it if you enjoy this genre of films, or are curious to see a Catalan film.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
The ultimate fantasy for a 17 year old-winning the contest for a night with Ms Love-THE porno star, 1 May 2001

The film offers a glimpse into the life of a small town teenager: his routine, ideals, friends & family, and his ultimate fantasy. It also presents the striking differences in Argentina between its dominating capital (where about one third the population of this huge country lives & controls everything) and the rest of the country. Additionally, it is an excellent vehicle for Cecilia Roth (ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER), as the much-desired Sabrina Love.

Daniel Montero, a seventeen year old, he enjoys his nocturnal rite: to watch the program of the ultimate porn star. So, when he wins the contest to spend a night with Sabrina, he feels he has struck gold. Sabrina awaits him in her TV studio in Buenos Aires. Daniel starts his journey from the isolated town where he lives with his grandmother since his parents died. His life is boring; he has a disgusting job. In his journey, Daniel discovers the world and finds himself in a hazardous and eventful life, with a gallery of men helping him to grow through wisdom, and mischievous advice & lies, a young woman who seduces him, and of course Sabrina, her producers and her colleagues in the porn industry.

It's a fascinating look at many aspects of a teenager's life, and self-discovery in this new era in South America. Also for Ms. Roth, the international award-winning actress known for very heavy dramatic roles, this film is a complete about face. She proves to be just as adept in comedy as she is in drama.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Basque terrorist faced with the dilemma of killing woman in cold blood, 1 May 2001

A timely movie, dealing with ETA, the infamous Basque terrorists who have again stepped up their campaign in Spain and France. To make a "meaningful" yet entertaining film about this, one does, what else? A moral dilemma drama.

In it, Arian is a young activist, in love with her marionettes and Vivaldi-a veteran ETA member. One day, she is asked to work as an informant for this terrorist group to obtain information about a woman whom they plan to kidnap. Arian remembers her fathers saying, "I've always been willing to die, but not kill for my country." However, she joins the group after all and her life starts heading into a dead-end street.

The film is worth watching not only for its subject matter, but for the excellent ensemble cast, headed by Ingrid Rubio, arguably Spain's best young dramatic actress.

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