Reviews written by registered user

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130 reviews in total 
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2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Good suspense, but disturbingly xenophobic, 24 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I certainly enjoyed this film, but it made me very uneasy. Herbert Lom, who is fourth-billed, his name appearing on the second panel of the credits even though he has the biggest part, is a phenomenal screen presence, menacing and charming. All the Anglo characters despise him without any reason. The Anglo male leads, Lyons and Farrar, are jealous, rude and finally homicidal. And you get the impression that the film-makers think that all their maliciousness is justified merely because Lom is foreign and intelligent.

Made in 1943, this film could have easily been made in Germany at the same time with Lom posing as a Jew. I suppose he's supposed to resemble a German, but Lom (who is 5 foot 9 inches) is constantly referred to as "little" and "dirty". Great suspense scenes, well worth seeing, but...

Speed (1959)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
beautiful with wonderfully staged cavalry scenes, 4 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Evidentally this is sort of a "lost" film. The DVD copy is half in color, and half in tinted black and white. No previous comments on IMDb or Netflix. An astounding circumstance for a film of this high quality by a known director.

This an iconic tale of a beautiful horse that has several owners, sort of a mixture of "Black Beauty" and "The Red Shoes". There's an interesting love triangle among the humans, set in early World War II, I think. The white of a bride's dress is paralleled with the horse, but I'm not sure of the precise meaning outside of pure imagery. There is much beauty in the cinematography and the staging, with lovely framing and intriguing tracking shots.

Reminiscent of a Powell/Pressburger film both in its pictorial impact and the cold sentimentality (how's that for an oxymoron?) of its story. Maybe a masterpiece, I'm not sure, and well worth seeing.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
enjoyable, with some great moments, 19 September 2006

This film came out two years before Clifford Antone died. He was an expansive entrepreneur who ran a famous blues club in Austin for many years. He was a die-hard blues fan who treated aging blues musicians better than family. For me it was fabulous to see performance and interview clips with favorite musicians who have passed on, like Luther Tucker and Albert Collins. The center of the film was a throw-away moment with Pinetop Perkins and Clifford sitting at a piano: Pinetop slowly starts playing the soft, sweet chords of "How Long" with such artistry that it brought tears to my eyes as I sat before the TV, and then I noticed that Clifford, on film, was hiding his eyes with his hand because he was crying too. On the minus side were too-short performance excerpts when you wanted to hear so much more, and not enough of the inside of the club and what it was like to be a patron there. But to counter that was an abundance of coverage of older musicians, without excessive gushing over the Stevie Ray Vaughn legend. A must-see for blues fans.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Fun and Jive Mexican Style, 21 January 2006

Relaxing nonsense with pretty girls and German Valdes (same as English name Herman?) who greatly resembles in appearance, dress, musical and acting style Cab Calloway. Quite a few sprightly musical numbers adorn this light tale of a musician on the bum falling into a lets-put-on-a-big-show scenario so familiar to USA audiences of the 40s and 50s.

Interesting take on "the Tramp" theme also used by Cantinflas in other Mexican movies. More comfortable than the usual "rich boy slumming" theme so common in films made above the border.

Rosita Quintana is a knockout, likewise the lady from Cuba who dances and sings half-naked. The lady from Cuba is backed by Black musicians (who are very cool), and there are some mild and amusingly racist but just barely derogatory jokes about where they're going to sleep.

Worth a spin. Very nice production values. I had taped it off TCM a few months ago.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
meandering, enjoyable portrait of a great bluesman, 11 December 2005

I'm not sure seeing this would make you a fan, but it sure didn't detract from my admiration of this idiosyncratic artist. Good concert footage of a set with Charlie Musselwhite, Elvin Bishop and others. Lots of shots of John Lee being chauffeured about San Francisco. You might think that would be annoying, but instead it fits well into the mood of the story of a man's life who moved to his own laconic rhythm. Various interviews with John and his family, some more with Clapton and Peter Wolf. Interesting theory from John Lee about his not being able to read. He says that if he knew how to read he would never have been able to dedicate his life to guitar-playing and the blues. He would have been reading books all the time. As he insists, he's smart, and I had never thought about it before, but he was. Worth seeing if you enjoy his music.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Yet Another Amazing Arbuckle Eye-Opener, 25 September 2005

Yes, this is the one where Fatty throws a piano through the wall! A minor story with major mayhem involved in its conclusion, this short is a farcical version of Country Mouse, City Mouse. The second half is set in a speak-easy, which is shot using an evidentially long-forgotten vaudeville technique (maybe?) of having a dozen actors doing comic characters on the sides and behind the main action, simultaneously upstaging each other and breaking all the rules of "good cinema" (like the prizefighting scene of "The Knock-Out"). Very stage-like, but whatever its origin, the effect is astonishing to a modern viewer. I've watched about a dozen Arbuckle shorts and each one has different aspects of strangeness and hilarity. They're all good and worth seeing. This one has more violence than a dozen episodes of "The Sopranos". How can Fatty be so vicious and lovable at the same time? Fascinating stuff!

53 out of 67 people found the following review useful:
photography by charles lawton is amazing, 18 July 2005

I normally don't comment on movies others have already commented on, but this one's been really bother me because no one really noted just how outstanding the cinematic compositions are. They're eye-poppingly gorgeous and remind me of a western Citizen Kane. In some scenes the Deep Focus technique (lots of hot light so that the background is in sharp focus) is outstanding. The artistry is almost out of place in this exciting but preposterously noirish western. There doesn't seem to be anything else in Lawton's repertoire (maybe parts of Two Rode Together?) as good, but director Daves' respect for good pictorials is evident in most of his efforts. It's a great collaboration, and a pretty good picture that's not as great as the sum of its parts. *** Most of the other comments rightly comment on Glenn Ford's cool acting. Isn't it time for him to get a Lifetime from AFI?

Kabala (2002)
A slice of life from Mali, 29 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a worthwhile but somber look at village life in Mali. It is essentially a soap opera with anti-religious overtones, and a few scenes that seemed quite weird to the eyes of this American viewer. The story involves a young man who experiences discrimination from his fellow villagers because he is illegitimate. He clashes with the local priest over a contaminated well which is the village's sole source of water.

*********Spoilers follow**********

He is also involved in a love triangle which results in both the film's only comic scenes and its final tragedy. There is a strange and affecting scene involving partial nudity and witchcraft.

I hope someone can add a comment here addressing the reality of life in a small town in Mali. It seems very primitive, bleak, and dominated by fantastic (in the true meaning of the word) religious conservatism. Is it really like this?

12 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Sadly cliched and uninteresting, 8 August 2004

There isn't much here more than a great director's swan song. Tab Hunter's acting is pretty good (!?) but not enough to lift the drab GI-in-love-with-a-French-woman theme. Most of the flying scenes don't match the ones from the director's 30s films. If you're interested in the director's career, don't skip this, you'll enjoy the themes and the depiction of air combat. Also Leonard Rosenman's score is a stand-out. But if you're not a Wellman fan you won't remember this a month after you've seen it. Wellman is one of the great American directors; see everything else and watch for the evidence of his skills that are sadly not to be found here.

14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Great Airplane Flying, 17 July 2004

There's more to this movie than John Wayne in a bit part, there are some spectacular flying scenes involving a train, sincere performances by Richard Barthelmess and Sally Eilers, a strange one by Tom Brown. Except for the flying, there's very little sign of Wellman's directorial expertise in cinematic storytelling (unusual for his 30's films), but it's likable and entertaining enough. Interesting crash scenes, and the sexual aspect of the story is somewhat shocking while being quite tastefully depicted.

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