Reviews written by registered user
|512 reviews in total|
Considering the lack of attention given to this film by both MGM and Cinerama, I was glad to find an Italian DVD release. Both my computer and DVD player are zone-free, so I had no reason not to buy it for living outside of Europe, the more so since until today (July 10, 2015) there has been no release of a restored version. To my surprise the Italian release had an acceptable image quality. One has to admit though, that beyond the complaint for the division lines of the Cinerama projection, the full experience of inventor Fred Waller's system (opposed to Abel Gance's Polyvision) could only be achieved in a cinema with curved screen. On a flat screen, no matter if the motion picture has been "smileboxed" or not, the image is always slightly distorted. So if you had never seen it, be warned of the distortion, the lines dividing the three panels and the lack of restoration. For me, it was as good as in 1962 and I enjoyed it again very much. I did not know there are many persons who think this is a better film than "How the West Was Won", it is probably right: there is no propaganda here, no patriotic hymns and the script is tighter: instead of the story of three generations in "HTWWW" (Karl Malden's, Debbie Reynolds' and George Peppard's), in "TWWOTBG" you only have the story of the two Grimm brothers with three of their fairy tales inserted along the biography. If you expect CGIs instead of George Pal's animation, see another movie, and if not, enjoy his puppets and dragon. The cast, on the other hand, includes various cult players, as Beulah Bondi, Terry-Thomas, Martita Hunt, Ian Wolfe and Oscar Homolka; popular comedians as Jim Backus, Buddy Hackett and Arnold Stang; young stars of the 60s as Yvette Mimieux, Robert Crawford Jr. and Russ Tamblyn, and good lead players: Laurence Harvey, Karlheinz Böhm, Claire Bloom, Barbara Eden and Walter Slezak. Enjoy it again or discover it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's been quite a time since I saw "Boyhood" and I didn't even feel like saying boo. But today I am convinced that its main achievement as cinema, is having been shot in 12 years, obviously without heavy pressure or anguish, for Richard Linklater had time enough to make a 21-minute short, two features with Jack Black (!), to sequels to "Before Sunrise", a remake of "The Bad News Bears", a feature-length sports documentary, a pilot for a TV series, six episodes for another TV series, and two more features. He was very busy, so I can't help joking a bit and say that it seems he was only waiting for Ellar Coltrane to grow an inch or for Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette getting new grey hair to recruit a crew and add a few more minutes to "Boyhood". For me there was nothing novel or passionate in this story of a dysfunctional family: what impressed me the most was the section dedicated to the alcoholic husband played by Marco Perella, but his case is dismissed with indifference, just as the next husband, a policeman. However I found quite revealing that Linklater does not allude to any of the various political, social or economic crisis that United States went through (in its territory and abroad) for 12 years, since the shooting started, after September 11, 2001. I can understand that the characters live apart from what happens in their country or in the world, since the whole planet seems to live with the back turned on what's going on anywhere. But in the end, the story seems somehow anodyne, for what Linklater (as the master mind) ended up doing was an enclosed film about a self-absorbed society, and not any society, but the one that is our current empire. And I am a bit fed up of watching imperial and Caucasian portraits of broken families, abusive husbands, graduations, first loves, family reunions, etcetera. Maybe something happens and I did not notice it, or maybe this film is for Cinderella fans who can read between the lines the subliminal messages, that, come on, could have been hidden in an 80-minute product that would also show how Ellar Coltrane grew up. The 182 awards and the 160 nominations registered by IMDb prove nothing. Remember what happened to Galileo or poor Robert Altman. It is worth mentioning that, starting with the documentary "Seven Up!" (1964), in which several 7-year-old British kids were interviewed about different topics, director Michael Apted has been revisiting them and shooting every seven years, resulting in the films "7 Plus Seven" (1970), "21 Up" (1977), "28 Up" (1984), "35 Up" (1991), "42 Up" (1998), "49 Up" (2005) and "56 Up" (2012); and that Michael Winterbottom shot "Everyday" (2012) for five years, to record the sentence of his main character in jail, and how it affected the man's physique.
I have just finished watching Marco Berger's "Ausente", and in spite of the Teddy award it won at the Berlin International Film Festival as Best Film with LGBT topic, I confess that all the enthusiasm that I felt when I saw "Plan B" vanished. All the freshness and sensuality of Berger's first motion picture, with actors who seemed to be improvising scenes and lines (or maybe they were really doing it) to give us a sincere reflection on how to reach honest acceptance of our homo-erotic feelings, was here replaced by a flow of contrived, too coldly calculated movements, to create a melodrama (not in the best tango tradition, but more in a soapy middle class mold) which is often more corny than moving. The story of a professor's harassment by his adolescent student, who is trying to seduce his teacher with lies, is slowly displaced by a subplot that pays too much attention to public opinion, prejudice, fear and slander, that is probably more in the mind of the instructor, who in the end is not as transparent as he had thought. Although Berger still favors setting up his camera at the level of men's crotches in underwear while lying in bed, this time those shots seem tamed as he was too much assimilated (perhaps far too much) by the discreet charm of the Argentinean film industry and its frequent pomp (careful, I do not mean the other Argentinean cinema, so independent and liberating and without Ricardo Darín in the leading role, of course!), with sugary music that even includes a little female voice doing "Aaahhh's " Both Carlos Echevarría as the professor and Javier de Pietro as the student are good, given the material they had to work with.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The original poster of this film read in big characters: "Behind the blindfold is the greatest security trap ever devised!" These formulaic promotional campaigns can kill a movie, as in this case, an above average comedy drama that today is almost forgotten. Better than one could expect, considering that Philip Dunne as a filmmaker was not among the best visual stylists from New York, "Blindfold" benefits from his talent for words and structure. He was a very good scriptwriter and for this comedy he wrote a fine script with clever dialogue (with the collaboration of theater instructor and writer W.H. Menger) for an above average mystery thriller based on a novel by Lucille Fletcher, the author of the famous radio plays "Sorry, Wrong Number" and "The Hitch Hiker". Rock Hudson might not have been as solid an actor as others who in the early 60s were in similar films (as Cary Grant in "Charade" or Gregory Peck in "Arabesque" and "Mirage"), but he excelled in romantic comedies and there's a good amount of elements from this sub-genre in "Blindfold", sharing screen time and space with Claudia Cardinale, who also knew how to be very funny. As a matter of fact I prefer Hudson paired with beautiful brunette leading ladies of European origin (Gina Lollobrigida, Paula Prentiss, Leslie Caron, Elizabeth Taylor, Jean Simmons and Claudia) than with Doris Day or Julie Andrews. Recommended.
Not worst than any other biographical motion picture produced by commercial American cinema, and certainly not up to the highest achievements in biographical movies made by this industry. But it is done not only with affection but with respect, even to that "moral majority" that causes so much despair and sadness all over the world, with its stern point of view that changes whenever the wind blows. And above it all the film is graced with very good performances by Kevin Kline as Errol Flynn, Dakota Fanning as Beverly Aadland and especially Susan Sarandon, splendidly restrained as Florence Aadland, a role that Shelley Winters would have turned into a thunderous bitch. I liked it and enjoyed it very much maybe because I like every now and then a bit of television, or maybe because I have always liked Errol Flynn, an actor that was so incredulous of his own talent, when as a matter of fact he was a wonderful performer of action and gallantry expressions.
Danish filmmaker Ib Melchior is a good example of a man's determination to entertain audiences with stories that played with his vision of things to come (in the early 1960s), but the quality of his work only moderately justifies the effort. He was a counter-intelligence volunteer for the Americans during II World War, relocated to the United States, and at the peak of his career wrote for television series and science-fiction films (including a couple of contributions to the "red menace" trend, and "Death Race 2000", "Reptilicus" and "Robinson Crusoe on Mars") and directed two features. Considering the poor results of "The Angry Red Planet" that he made in 1959, "The Time Travelers" is his greatest achievement: the film has a lot of admirers, but it is quite telling of his capacity as director. Compare it with Edgar G. Ulmer's "Beyond the Time Barrier", a drama with a similar plot, made four years before with half the budget of "Travelers", and one can perceive the difference between an inspired filmmaker as Ulmer and a less gifted director as Melchior. More akin to "Queen of the Outer Space" (1958) without the campiness, "The Time Travelers" is also visually strident (cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond was still years away from the mastery he demonstrated in a long list of classics, including "McCabe & Mrs. Miller", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "Deliverance"), the rhythm is pompous and slow, and leading man Philip Carey is as good an actor as Zsa Zsa Gabor. His character of a scientist (or the way he plays it, I really cannot tell) is too much of a ruffian, and he does not have much support from Steve Franken's comic relief interventions, Delores Wells' "Playmate of the Month" attitude, or Dennis Patrick's expressions to convey a dogmatic soldier. Merry Anders and Preston Foster are wasted, and only John Hoyt and Joan Woodbury maintain the impassivity and good judgment that their parts as regents demand. The script is one of those that give too many explanations while telling something far from original and, although it has occasional "intelligent" sparkles here and there (as the ending) to please the science-fiction audience, it does not prevent the film from being an average product.
Not as bad as I have read. It always surprises me how Ulmer managed to come up with different camera set-ups considering his budgets and time tables, allowing the editors to add some rhythm to the films he directed. The main problem with "The Amazing Transparent Man", in my opinion, is not Ulmer's direction. He was always resourceful even in the worst conditions, and signed quite a few good movies, as "People on Sunday", "The Strange Woman", "Strange Illusion", "The Black Cat", "The Naked Dawn", "Detour", "Ruthless" and my favorite, "Bluebeard". The problem is Jack Lewis' unfocused script, a too verbose tale about power madness, materialism, lust, raw evil and the danger of atomic experimentation. Everybody here can't stop talking, even when the running time is so short. Surely the script should have had 30 pages full of dialogues and more dialogues. Thankfully it is over fast.
An original title may be the only saving grace of "Reptilicus", but somehow it works subliminally on one's head... I can't forget the beast's expressions, there are at least two shots when it shows a strange sad grimace, although the origin of this creature is so weird that one can hardly develop sympathy or any other kind of emotion for it, as it often happens with film monsters. The character of the American general is not a very pleasant fellow, but the filmmakers put the weight of 70% of their movie on his shoulder, since the engineer does not do much and the professor is not only too old but also a cardiac patient... Then there is a bit of comic relief, two daughters that add nothing to the plot, a little travelogue of Copenhagen, a musical number, two different scores, and beautiful Miss Germany 1958 playing the leading lady in the American version. No more choices. Strange bad film, but somehow unforgettable. Maybe it has to do with poor Reptilicus. When I see things like this, that needed more than its two-cent budget I wonder why they made it.
Homophobia has always been the first obstacle for many persons to enter the world of "gay icon" Peter Berlin, and now it has the same effect on common viewers to watch -not to mention appreciate- the documentary "That Man: Peter Berlin". Second, the perception of what Polish-born baron Armin von Hoyningen-Huene did to himself in the 1970s (that is, creating a character called Peter Berlin, becoming a fixed figure in the streets of San Francisco and taking himself many erotic photographs, among other things) as the sole effect of narcissism or exhibitionism, can also dissuade many to watch this motion picture. Surprisingly, Berlin emerges as all that and as someone more interesting, a richer personality and a complex character. I belong to a generation after his, but I had the opportunity to live the moment when Peter Berlin became a sensation among homosexuals (mostly in the Occident and in the North hemisphere), a historic moment when the fight for the civil rights of all of us who had sexual orientations different from the "official behavior" became more radical, and helped us to define what fronts of our existences needed strategies of defense. In that context Berlin made himself an object of conceptual art, if you will, a performing artist of the notion of sexual desire as an act of observation rather than interaction in "events" (although he had his share of those activities through his pornographic films, and his encounters through his intense social life). Today he declares that he became a sort of abstemious sensual machine that rarely had sex with anyone, and preferred to have permanent relationships. For someone who was not only extremely handsome when free from the demands of his Berlin character, but also successful, travelled and sought after by Richards, Warhol, Mapplethorpe and other avant-garde artists, it is quite moving to hear him talk about the painful aspects of his life, about his difficult journey, from the loss of his father in II World War to the struggles in post-war Europe, the abuse of substances of all kinds, and the disappearance of many friends, including two partners. Although this may seem a bit frivolous on my part, I need to comment that I found strange and rare that most of the times director Jim Tushinski deliberately abstained from exposing Peter Berlin's bare penis, which was copiously displayed in his photographs and --apart from his brainwas the actor's most prominent "source of inspiration" in his work. Otherwise, "That Man: Peter Berlin" is a fine work, a testament of one exhilarating time in the evolution of sexual mores and of one of its more prominent figures.
Hammer Film returned to India (at Elstree Studios) with this production, but this time the project lacked the punch "The Stranglers of Bombay" (1959) had. It is a moral tale about ethnic pride, patriotism, military honor and love, but surprisingly it lacks passion. While John Gilling handled the story with vivid action scenes, as he did in previous adventure films he made for Hammer, his rather literate script proved too ambitious to be fully developed in 78 minutes. The previous Hammer attempt to describe India under British rule was a darker story by American scriptwriter David Zelag Goodman, dealing with evil followers of goddess Khali, but in this occasion Gilling directly entered the political field and added an adultery subplot with passable results. On the acting side, while Ronald Lewis is at his usual adequate efficiency level as hero, Oliver Reed is bland and noisy in the role of a ruthless rebel chief, easily overshadowed by Yvonne Romain as his wicked sister. (As she had left for Hollywood to work with Samuel Fuller, beautiful "Stranglers" actress Marie Devereux is sorely missed here). Gilling would turn out his best works for Hammer a year later, when the remarkable "The Plague of the Zombies" and "The Reptile" were released.
|Page 11 of 52:||               |