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Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
You had me going...
Really a great film up until the last reel. For spoilers' sake, I won't go into that yet.
First off, Dafoe and Izzard should get nominations if there is justice in Hollywood. But since we know there isn't any, we'll just all have to appreciate their performances here on our own.
The movie as a whole really gets you interested in Schreck, his method, and the art of German Expressionist filmmaking, but it's that ending again that really takes off some of that magic.
Simply, this didn't happen. It's like U-571 saying that Americans broke the German codes. Seeing the "deaths" of major players in the making of this film, not the least of which being Max Schreck, kind of ruins what started out as a quasi-documentary. This is especially frustrating to somebody with access to the IMDb. You can easily see that these people did NOT die on the set. Schreck did 15 or so more films after this, and Cary Elwes' character did something like 115 films after Nosferatu. That kind of "alternative history" for the sake of storytelling is my big complaint for this film.
Despite the abovementioned flaws, "Shadow" really was a great film. Great mood, and great work by Dafoe (who didn't like him in this one?) and Eddie Izzard (please, just a nomination, it's all I ask!). Technically interesting because of the intercutting with actual "nosferatu" footage, and a compelling cast and story up until that last scene. 9/10
The Last Broadcast (1998)
Oh NO, you DIDN'T!!!
***Because my gripe is with the ending, this review may be seen as just a big spoiler. Be warned.***
NO! NO! NO! I can't believe anyone would just tank a film like that. This film really had me going with a decent-enough story despite obvious and intentional poor acting (for those who knock the acting, people really usually are that dull on camera). They built suspense with the reconstruction of the video and just KILLED IT by switching, all of a sudden, to some omniscient viewpoint. What? Are you kidding me? The reason a 1st person documentary style works is because the audience goes with the idea that it's the only footage. "Pulling back" to a letterboxed omniscient view that hasn't been used yet in the film kills all that these guys worked for. It's all ruined. The ending could have been saved any number of ways, many of which are explored in other reviews here, my favorite being the discovery of the video of the reconstructionist's murder and the narrator being incriminated in his own documentary. But stay with the style you chose! You'd think that would be obvious. Really, I liked this film until the letterboxing cop-out. It gave the feeling of seeing an old girlfriend making out with your dad or something.
pretty good 2 a.m. fare
I first saw this in the middle of the night on some "insomniac theatre" UHF station. It was an obvious hoax, but just unsettling enough to keep me interested. About halfway through, my sister came out from her room and asked if I was watching it. During a commercial break we decided it was a fake, but pretty well done. I went back to bed and watched the rest. That little girl annoyed me with how calm and implausibly in control she was, and the filmmakers even added an "expert" pointing that out.
Good creepy stuff, up through the ending. The aliens, while they did look a little too "alien," looking into the camera was unsettling there at 2 or 3 in the morning and made those bumps in the night a little more noticeable.
Now, the inevitable "Blair Witch" comparison: Yes, this is how "Blair Witch" should have ended - showing the witch or whatever at the end, not just obliquely hinting at it. I have to keep in mind that I saw this a year or two before "Blair Witch" came out, so I can't consider it a copy.
In the end, a good idea marred by some poorly, probably hastily, chosen actors and slight technical holes which are discussed in other reviews here. As for the credits revealing the actors' names, I had turned off the TV because I thought they were just the "documentary"'s credits, so I was spared that disappointment. (Can I say that about an obvious fake?)
Most compelling western EVER
This has to be the greatest Western ever made. The plot is classic, with all the appropriate twists; the (American) actors are excellent, particularly Eli Wallach as Tuco. He gives depth to what could otherwise be a stock bandit character. Lee Van Cleef gives probably his best performance as Angel Eyes, simply the most chilling villain to ever appear on film.
Even the music is top-notch, especially the score heard as Tuco searches the graveyard and at the final shootout. Director Sergio Leone is at his best here, with his trademark extreme closeups intercut with sweeping panoramic landscapes. Don't miss the huge Civil War battle or the three-way(!) shootout.
The action is great, the dialogue is great, and there are some really memorable quotes to be found here ("Whoever double-crosses me and leaves me alive, he understands nothing about Tuco"). This is a five-out-of-five winner that every fan of film must see again and again.
Warrior of the Lost World (1983)
Mad Max? *Sad* Max!
Somebody please explain this movie to me. What exactly was the plot again? What was "the Warrior" saying during the whole thing? What was that battle royal all about? If "the Warrior had just waited four seconds to pick up Persis Khambatta in the helicopter, would there have been a point in finishing the movie? Where did they find a black Nazi? What was the point of Megaweapon, which really seemed pretty weak (Oooh! A flamethrower!)?
Save yourself. Run from this movie and don't look back. The only way to survive this horror is the MST3K version, but it still hurts.