Reviews written by registered user
|18 reviews in total|
Yes, it is (was) propaganda. But never has there been a more curiously
right and true epitome of the sloppy yet resilient defense of
transcontinental democracy than this. Canada wins because Canada is a
mess; the Nazi neatness and demand for clear-cut lines falters, and in
the end is clobbered with a roundhouse right. So long as I live, I will
love this film; it's P&P at their best, and the Vaughan WIlliams score
is second to none. What else can one say? I wish I were Canadian.
And since the IMDb, to which I contributed long before it became such a commercial concern, insists that I have at least 10 lines of text, I will keep on jabbering for a few more lines, in order to preserve the above comments for posteriority ...
This is one of the best Arctic documentaries of the past ten years -- a vivid, beautifully photographed story, told through both re-enactment and re-tracing, of the ill-fated Lady Franklin Bay expedition led by Adolphus Washington Greely. Rarely have the stark beauties of Ellesmere Island been so strikingly filmed, and yet it is the human drama that holds the center of attention here. Greely, his conflicted first officer, and his resentful but ultimately faithful sergeant, carry the narrative forward with the weight of a Shakespearian tragedy. And, at the same time, Greeley's descendant James Shedd, re-traces his great-grandfather's sledge-tracks in the long, perilous retreat from Fort Conger, whence Greely once set the record for furthest north. The conclusion will bring tears to the eyes of even the most hardened of armchair travelers.
Many have already offered their views on this craggy Redford sailfest
-- so I'm not sure how much what I have to say will sway their judgment
-- but here goes.
What was it that actors did before they could speak? Did they, pace Hamlet, "saw the air too much with their hands"? Yes, but here, with fewer words than any "talkie" since 1927, Redford speaks with hands, eyes, and shoulders, and heart. Was there ever a man who did more with only one word of dialog, and that a word guaranteed to bump up the film's MPAA rating? We have looked upon, and loved Redford's face; now let us look upon his hands and works. Winching himself up the mast, patching a hole with resin and fiberglass, aiming a belated sextant at the sun -- here is a man, a human, in his inmost essence, striving to find his way on our planet of mostly water. There has been no better, no more economical, no more moving performance this year, or any other.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a sad occasion. I should say at the start that Johnny Depp is one
of my favorite actors of all time, and that -- until his last three
films -- Tim Burton was one of my two favorite directors (the other
being Terry Gilliam).
I'm sure Depp will go on to make many more superb films -- but I have no desire to ever see another Tim Burton film again. This film is not only untrue to the book, most monstrously so in its ending (which I can hardly bring myself to describe) but really throughout the film in its cheap, unimaginative, eye-candy.
Depp, apparently channeling a frightening mixture of Pee Wee Herman and Anthony Perkins (thus perhaps the gratuitous "Psycho" reference in the film?), is neither charming nor surprising; he lacks the sly warmth of Gene Wilder, who to my mind will *always* be the real Willy Wonka. His factory, resembling the assembly lines of "Edward Scissorhands," but on steroids, is a vast, impersonal cavern, without a single ring of emotional truth. Sure, all the kids but Charlie are brats -- but here, Willie Wonka is one too, and though Charlie may be a good boy, he gets very few speaking lines, and he and Grandpa Joe have as few occasions for fun as do we, the viewers.
During production, Burton talked about how he disliked the older version, and seemed to promise a darker version truer to Dahl's witty disdain for the the adult world. But here, everyone -- child, adult, and elderly person is insulted with visions whose "darkness" is not a product of melancholy, but of cynicism. There is no goodness here, no meaningful badness either. The first flashback to Wonka's dentist father (Chrisopher Lee, wonderful as ever) is a lovely touch, but the ending of the film, which demands that little Charlie somehow "heal" the wounded psyche of Wonka and re-unite him with his dentist dad, is the worst piece of poisoned treacle ever to leave a factory.
The whole thing ought to be flushed down a garbage chute -- it's a bad nut.
I love Tom Hanks, but the fact that film has enjoyed such popularity
seems to me to be a sign of the endless American thirst for the
milk of amnesia. Anyone who cares about any of the historical
events "depicted" in this film -- especially the war in Vietnam --
ought to be offended. Anyone from the south ought to be offended,
too, at the way Hanks' and others' southern accents are used as
signifiers of imbecility, and that imbecility then romanticized. And
lastly, African-Americans ought to be outraged at the way Mykelti
Williamson -- a very fine actor, by the by -- is used to slip the worst
of stereotypes in under the "comic" door. When we look back fifty
years from now, this will be the "Bedtime for Bonzo" of its
#1 on my list of all-time worst films.
I am an enormous admirer of Powell and Pressburger, but this Technicolor melodrama was a great disappointment to me once I had tracked down, with some effort, a Korean DVD. I think the problem is that the main character is simply not very bright - I miss the intelligent , spirited women of I Know Where I'm Going, Black Narcissus, Contraband, and A Canterbury Tale. Here, the character who ought to be carrying the story is reduced to almost animalistic status, a prey in a world of hunters, well-intentioned and not so well intentioned. Nevertheless, the cinematography is stunning as ever, and the choir, and the harp playing, are divine indeed -- as always with P&P, there are gems even in this murky, overheated yarn of country parson versus country squire.
The plot of this film has nearly nothing whatsoever to do with Daniel Defoe's novel; in place of Defoe's brilliant and compelling heroine it substitutes bushels full of ersatz-18th century drivel, pretentious neo-Irish music, and annoying children. Nunneries in England? An unexplained Afro-British man sent on a mission to read a book to an annoying child across the sea? A charitable organization which adopts adult women only if they are virgins? I am certain that if one made a film of "A Christmas Carol" with no Scrooge, no Tiny Tim, and Bob Cratchit as an alcoholic schoolmaster with an illegitimate one-legged daughter living in Sweden, viewers would complain that the story had gone missing -- why not here? It's a shame, as Morgan Freeman gives a memorable performance even in a role which seems dislocated from history, novelistic and actual.
Since a version of this film was "leaked" - if that's the right term -- to YouTube a few days ago, it's had a second life worthy of the film's own protagonist, liberated from a job yelling at bad drivers in the Holland Tunnel to a bravura performance at Carnegie Hall. There have been many evocative or pastiche films of the classic era -- Woody Allen's Purple Rose of Cairo, Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, or Gary Ross's Pleasantville -- but none has more vividly, sweetly, and yet ironically invoked the magic of the movies as has this film. Don't be distracted by the Dan Ackroyd or Bill Murray cameos (fun as they are): keep your eye on the veterans, who've been in more films than you can count, and who bring their considerable powers to bear here: Sam Jaffe (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Bedknobs and Broomsticks); Paul Rogers (Billy Budd, The Homecoming) and the incomparable Imogene Coca, all part of a secret underground league of New York artists who seek to aid any who will give their all, unreservedly, to the cause of art. This film deserves an immediate DVD/BluRay release -- one can only imagine how richly it will shine -- and shame on MGM, Turner, Warner, and all who have kept this gem in their dark, dim, Gollum-like cavern of oblivion.
This film is a strange, crystalline artifact, part cinema verité and
part unabashed paean to the heavens. The earlier part of the film
is almost a comedy of errors, as the film crew films itself on the
train to Churchill, Manitoba, and ends up stuck in one of the town's
few hotels during a blizzard. For fun, the hotel's owners shoots a
hole in the wall with a high-power rifle, and they watch the
snowflakes blow through the hole. But once the weather clears
and the crew actually gets out to film their announced subject, the
northern lights have never shimmered so brightly, in an ethereal
silence never to be seen on a National Geographic special.
I saw this film at a conference in North Bay, Ontario -- and got the sense that it isn't seen much in the U.S. Too bad! It would be an excellent candidate for a widescreeen DVD release.
After reading some of the early reviews of this film, I was beginning to
worry that Tim Burton had finally become just another cog in the
mind-numbing machinery of the SFX-laden film industry. It was a huge relief
to discover that Burton's *Apes* -- easily the most entertaining film so far
this summer -- is perhaps his most visually and dramatically gripping film
ever. This is despite Mark Wahlberg's woodenly resolute performance, which
displays about as much screen charisma as an orangutan's hairbrush. The
apes, however, in their far more pliant makeup, steal the show.
Paul Giamatti absolutely steals the film as the conniving human-trader "Limbo," and Tim Roth's General Thade is robustly animalistic. The apes' habit of leaping in the air in displays of anger owes something to Jane Goodall and something to Hong Kong action flicks -- but wherever it comes from, it adds an extra zest to the simian world.
While it doesn't reach the darkly sublime heights of Batman or Edward Scissorhands, *Apes* is Burton's best in some time, and easily steals the show from the series of stumbling (and expensive) zombies the studios have vomited forth so far this summer.
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