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Shakespeare Bond

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13 reviews in total 
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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Exciting, professional, artistic. (bad dubbing, though), 3 August 2001

I intend to see the whole Dollar trilogy, but this one bodes well for the series.

First to get the bad out of the way. The dubbing is so bad it's laughable. It's like those old Godzilla flicks! Fortunately, you get used to it after a while and it doesn't take that much away from the movie.

Eastwood is suitably tough in this, one of his signature roles. He's not exactly Shakespearean, but he is all the screenplay calls him to be: tough, handsome, rugged, cynical.

Leone's direction is astonishing. Like the story and the landscape: tough, rugged and unforgiving. There is one breathtaking sequence wherein we see through the eyes of a character that has been shot as he wobbles and falls. Very professional and artistic.

I can't wait to see the rest of this series.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Awful! Just awful!, 31 July 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

[Lots of spoilers in this review! Spoilers as far as the eye can see.]

How could a movie with such a spectacular cast turn out so bad! Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Katharine Hepburn have all done such great work, been part of such great movies, that I must wonder what temporary insanity put them in this film.

Things start out well. There's witty banter, reminding one of such great screwball classics as His Girl Friday (starring Grant). The setup is good, the characters are the stuff of great screwball. Then the witty banter stops. Katharine Hepburn's character is given a lecture about how she's an ice princess by every one (including her philandering father, who has NO BUSINESS lecturing her about anything). There's an awful drunk scene between Hepburn and Stewart. I can't believe that scene is celebrated.

The sexism of this movie, admittedly a product of its times, is still off-putting. The scene of the father blaming his daughter for his affairs is the worst. The movie seems to actually believe he's right!

Finally, the ending is totally arbitrary. Whether Hepburn ends up with Grant or Stewart seems to have been changed at the last moment. The whole movie seems to point in one direction, but in the end it goes the other way. This was the nail in the coffin of a lousy, over-praised movie.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not someone who hates these old comedies. But if you want to see enjoyable, intelligent screwball comedies, see Bringing Up Baby or His Girl Friday or Some Like It Hot. Not this tripe!

The best film of 2000, baby!, 26 December 2000

It is so refreshing to see a film in which the filmmakers actually care about the characters. The movie is about writer/director Crowe's own experiences and it shows in the way he makes so many characters 3-dimensional and sympathetic.

Stylistically, Almost Famous is the polar opposite of my favorite film of last year, Magnolia, which was deliberately over-the-top. This film is never flashy, but rather portrays a world that we can actually believe existed.

Kate Hudson is absolutely radiant as Penny Lane. She has such grace, such ethereal beauty, that I fell in love with her in the same way that William does.

Patrick Fugit is a find. He's an everyman, our door to this world. He's hardly some cute, wide-eyed kid. Watching Fugit, I could feel William being torn between being a journalist and being a fan.

My favorite performance is by Philip Seymour Hoffman, who does a spectacular job of portraying the purist (some would say elitist) rock critic, Lester Bangs. His arrogance is offset by the fact that he clearly likes William and proves not to be the intimidating jerk he first seems to be. After seeing Hoffman in this, Magnolia, and The Talented Mr. Ripley, I've become a big fan of his.

Billy Crudup and Frances McDormond both deserve lots of awards for their portrayal of a charismatic, egotistical rock star and an overprotective, but ulitmately loving mother, respectively. I could see why William is both attracted and repulsed by both these figures and the extremes they represent.

Bottom line, Almost Famous is the best movie of the year 2000 and deserves the Oscar it will never get.

King Lear (1971)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Worth it?, 27 April 2000

It takes a lot for me to not like a Shakespeare production. The Bard is so good that most shortcomings of Shakespearean films fade from view. Not so with this one. It is the second most boring Shakespeare movie I've seen, and I've seen quite a few. (The most boring is the usually competent BBC's version of Richard III). Scofield sounds drugged as he says his lines. I never felt anything for him or any of the characters.

Before I tear this film to shreds, though, I must commend the storm scene. For once, all the attempts at being "artsy" actually work. At first you see a view of Lear from below (Fool's-eye-view?), he towers above the camera, power personified. The next moment, we see a bird's eye view. Lear is just a spec on this huge mountain. Suddenly, we see that, for all his grandeur, Lear is just a human being. He can't influence the world. A truly powerful scene.

If only the rest of the film wasn't so boring... I'd be willing to watch that one scene 20 times, but I don't want to have to go through the whole film to do it. I'll take the Olivier version (for all its overdone melodrama) over this.

Judas Kiss (1998)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Ehh....., 10 March 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Has spoilers.)

This movie veers between pretty darn good and spectacularly bad. Since I like ending on a good note, I'll start with the bad. The bad can be summed up in three words: the sex scenes. From the opening hardcore porn (who actually thought this was softcore) to the embarassing meat locker scene, every sex scene could've been excised or shortened with nothing lost from this otherwise charming film. By themselves, these pointless scenes drag down a fun movie to the point that I almost turned off the VCR after the first 15 minutes.

I'm glad I didn't because it gets better. Every character in this is quite memorable. I'm a diehard Emma Thompson fan, so I'm gonna ignore her hideous accent and concentrate on the fact that she delivers her hard-boiled one liners with ease. She perfectly comes off as a competent, no-nonsense cop. As does Alan Rickman. The flirtation between these two is more sexy than any of the sex scenes ("Well f*** me sideways." "What, here?"). It's too bad that Brits simply can't do southern accents.

The leading lady (whose name escapes me) was also charming when she wasn't having sex. Her character seems so nice, it's hard to believe she committed the opening murder. The other criminals are also distinctive, the types who aren't just stereotypical villains, but memorable creations that stick in you mind for days.

The plot is the best part. Plenty of plot twists without being convoluted. Excellent character interaction. Like I said, charming, but with a few sleazy parts that almost ruin it.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Good Lord! It's absolutely astounding!, 9 March 2000

I'm easily moved by movies, I'll admit. It doesn't take much to make me cry. But the last few scenes of this movie set me absolutely weeping. Harder than I ever have before. And, after it was over, it set me thinking: about how people can be so evil, about how painful compassion can really be, about how compassion can transform a person. This movie is THAT good.

Where to begin? After seeing this, and my all time favorite movie, Saving Private Ryan, I must say that Spielberg is the greatest director of our times. Hyperbole? Maybe, but you find me another film with the power of Schindler's list and SPR.

Liam Neeson is an acting god. Only he could've pulled this transformation off without making it seem hokey. I guess that's what made all the performances in this film so great, from Neeson, Kingsley, and Feinnes down to the slightest extra, was the lack of all the acting flourishes; all the melodramatic conventions that might have gotten an easier emotional payoff, but would have cheapened the movie. Take Feinnes. His character is evil personified, Feinnes is never over the top. The cold, emotionless look in his eyes as he kills people is chilling enough. And when an element of humanity slips into his character, Feinnes makes it believable, not added in. His character isn't a stock villain.

I'm probably running out of room. Let me just say this film pulls no punches. It shocks you, terrifies you, makes you cry in sadness and in joy, and makes you feel that most painful, unpleasant, and glorious of all emotions: compassion.

Magnolia (1999)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I am absolutely in love with this movie!, 5 February 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(There could be spoilers in here. I'm not going to censor myself.) How on Earth could all these bad reviews appear for this movie? And some one will answer that question by saying that it is long, pretentious, and boring. And that someone will be utterly wrong. (Okay, it's long, but it keeps your attention and that's the key.) Magnolia, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways:

1) The directing. Sometimes Anderson delights with kinetic camera work (i.e. the diagrams explaining one of the opening vignettes or the long, sustained shot of the TV studio). Other times he just sets the camera down and concentrates on the actors. Every brilliant performance. A feast for the eyes.

2) The characters. Lost souls desperately seeking some sort of redemption. The characters are portrayed with such compassion that I wanted to reach out and tell them everything will be all right. (Those who say that you wanted to kill the characters because they were annoying, you truly frighten me with your cynicism.) They keep the audience emotionally involved, full-steam. Never a dull moment. Perhaps a little overload.

3) The story. The criss-cross of fate. The thematic similarities. "...the past ain't through with us." Those who don't understand the frogs (there, that's my spoiler), think about what God was supposed to be doing in the book of Exodus. This movie's all about redemption; the frogs (and the other plagues) were for the redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

4) Aimee Mann. What a voice. What moving songs. The movie was written around them, and the songs reflect and magnify the power of the movie.

5) I just have to single out my favorites from this cast. Mind you, there wasn't a bad performance turned in here: First, Jeremy Blackman. This kid was stunning. I don't know how someone that young can turn in such a layered, realistic job. A young boy, loved by all who don't know him, and unable to earn the love of his dad. I know people like that. Only Haley Joel Osment has turned in a better child performance in my lifetime. (I'm 19.) Second, Melora Walters. That babyface and girlish voice perfectly contrast with the brutal, drug-filled reality of her life. So full of fear and self-hatred. She deserves the Oscar. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Having recently seen this guy as a thoroughly unlikeable snob in The Talented Mr Ripley, I was amazed to see him as a likeable, clumsy, compassionate nurse in this one. I want to see more with this man. What else can he do? Tom Cruise's performance was a PARODY, ladies and gentlemen. I'm sure most got that, but a few seem to take him seriously as this foul-mouthed sexist pig. Anybody who's seen Tony Robbins in action knows how close Cruise came to the real, genuine-article scam artist. I don't think he deserves the Oscar (which I would give to The Sixth Sense's Osment), but this is the best role I've seen him in. I don't think I have room for the rest of the cast. Let me just close by saying that this epic is entertaining, heartbreaking, insightful, funny, and fun. Don't miss it.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's amazing. Best romantic film I've ever seen, 7 January 2000

Okay, first I must admit that I'm a romantic at heart and that many a movie has set me crying. But still.......I was absolutely weeping at the end of this one.

When the movie began, I was skeptical. Paul just comes in to use the phone and I'm supposed to believe that Holly immediately starts confessing feelings to him?! And Rooney's dated, stereotypical Japanese man is GRATING! But I let it fly, suspended my disbelief, and was carried away.

And what a ride. This is the best romantic film I've ever seen. Hepburn is absolutely charming. She just creates this aura of grace from the moment you see her. Somehow, even as this movie hints at a darker world of drugs and gangsters, it remains an enchanting fairy tale. I was pulled in by every plot twist, and they are many and unexpected. The ending was sublime! I absolutely melted. Unless you are a cold blooded cynic.....if you have anything romantic in you.......see this movie and be swept away!

The Talented Mr Minghella, 29 December 1999

It's finally happened. 1999 is the year intelligent movies have gone mainstream. They are not all perfect, but we should celebrate that this is the year of such daring fare as The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, Being John Malkovich, and now this.

After reading reviews on this site and elsewhere, I was thoroughly prepared to be disappointed. Instead, I was glued to my seat. This film was much like Hitchcock (I misspelled that, didn't I?). It's not an action flick, it's not a thriller. It's all in the subtext, the tension, the violence simmering just under the surface. So much goes on that is unsaid. That's what makes it great. It's sad that many in the theater with me couldn't appreciate that.

I don't know much about direction, so I usually attribute the whole mood of a piece to the director, in which case Minghella captures it perfectly. As I said, subtexts. Combined with the beauty of Italy. Damon turns in yet another solid performance. He seems manipulative, hungry, sensitive, and monstrous at the same time. Of course that's partly because his role is so well written. Paltrow suffers from an undernourished role, but still captures my attention later on in the film. Both these actors suffer the chronic problem of being so good looking that no one takes them seriously as actors. A tragedy.

I wish I had room to comment on the other performances: Law's arrogant, selfish, charming playboy; Hoffman as his boorish, but not stupid, buddy; Blanchett as a somewhat ditzy expatriate. All perfect.

See this movie. Don't expect to be excited. Expect to be engrossed and, at times, terrified.

12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
What happened to this series?, 13 December 1999

I was a real fan of this show. I first watched it because it came before The X-Files. Gradually, I got caught up in the whole mythology of this show, too. It had all the quirkiness, great characters, and paranoia that made the X-Files great. There were even hints of a crossover episode (as there was, recently, with X-Files and Millennium). Then suddenly, there was a reveal-all episode and the series ended on a sour note. What happened? How could such a fun show not have gotten the needed ratings? Let's have a moment of silence for a creative show that could have been so much more.

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