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Enemy at the Gates (2001)
Not a documentary.
One of my top ten war movies; it shares the experience of Stalingrad without being letter-perfect historically. The depiction is horrifying, the reality was much worse. Yes, Krushchev was there, was handing out rifles, and was a commander/party aparatchik in the city. His likeness on Bob Hoskins blew me away. Tanks rolled out of the factory, unpainted and with no sights and entered the battle only blocks away. The carnage was unmatched in the history of warfare, perhaps exceeded only by Verdun which was actually shorter. Only about 5000 Germans survived from the 6th German Army when they were sent back to Germany in 1955. This was a turning point in the Eastern front, the War and the History of the World.
The Garden (2006)
Seen it before
A variation of 'Shadowbuilder' even including the eclipse. No priests though. A small boy battling Satan himself, even though he has faults/weaknesses. Like being considered psychotic because of his bad dreams and cutting. Daddy is failing alcoholic with tenuous parental bonds to the kid, until Satan compels him to beat the crap out of him with a belt. Satan beats the horse simultaneously, which is apparently evil enough to loose the zombies with lips sewed shut. Then the four horsemen show up but it's Sam who finishes the deal. If you come across Satan, it's prudent to somehow lose the body; otherwise they may charge you with something.
The Buddy System (1984)
Deeper than it seems.
Seemed like a harmless little movie, no exploding cars, morphing robots, no murders. Just a little nerdy (Will W brags on being nerdy, he was just in type) kid with issues, having a single Mom for a parent. She also has issues being enmeshed with Tim (sleeping in each other's beds) and excessively guilt-ridden over his shortcomings. Joe does security at Tim's school, is also trying to write a book, invent a portable dog washer, pay the bills, keep his girlfriend happy (she gets pregnant) and maintain the relationship which Tim is trying to cook up with his mom. Naturally the relationship ebbs and flows, everybody moves, links are broken and reestablished, emotions come and go. All three main actors do a workmanlike job, as their careers are just about to skyrocket.
Allein in vier Wänden (2007)
inside four walls indeed
The very best of storytelling, a documentary without an agenda, unless I'm too obtuse to get it. For background, see "Three rooms of Melancholie' and 'The Italian.' Also see the Tennessee lady that mailed her adoptive Russian 7 yr old back to Russia. After seeing this I understand that Culture Shock hit the kid, and the kid panicked which freaked out the adoptive mom. She had alternatives, but decided to jump ship and will probably do time. This is a high profile screwup. No indication she tried backups, psychiatrists, medication, etc. Probably read some book about psychopaths and figured she would be murdered in her sleep. There were 6-8 kids you got familiar with, only one which really bothered me because his affect was inappropriate to the situation, a hallmark of true disturbance. Several cried. Many were thankful for being locked up because 3 hots and a cot and adult supervision was better than what they were used to. Discipline was unobtrusive but obviously effective. There did not seem to be therapy groups, counseling talk. There was simply a working system which the kids entered and accepted because the alternative (a hard place for older, rougher kids) was always an option. Real, realistic, genuine kids who cried when it was called for; mostly just trying to survive. They were running wild on the streets and thought they'd never lose or get caught. Wrong.
Outstanding ensemble piece, a classic.
Almost a prequel to the M. Night Shamalan formula with a twist. The identified patient in the family turns out to be the only one actually well. And what a family. Martin Balsam as rich daddy, Angela Lansbury as spoiled mommy, Ray Thinnes as jock older brother, Tuesday Weld as cheerleader sister and Don Grady as the Identified weirdo. Don Grady was the middle child in the original 'My Three Sons' behind Tim Considine. An ensemble cast unrivaled since 12 Angry Men or the Dirty Dozen. Tight dialogue, impeccable timing, direction, editing and camera work, ironies and surprises galore, this was an Emmy shoe-in, except not too many people watched it. Pity, as it deserved better. Anyone know where a copy can be found email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
First mention of LSD in media.
A fictionalized account of a lab experiment gone wrong, and the very first mention of LSD as a psychodelic (the word hadn't been coined yet) in the media. This was October 1955 and Timothy Leary was still experimenting with mushrooms. This was very avant-gard in 1955 and was still relatively unknown in 1963 when Leary started shooting off his mouth. Remember, Imipramine was just invented, also Thorazine. Retalin wasn't yet but Dexadrine and Benzedrine was. The main psychotropics were Phenobarbitol and Dexadrine. We were primitive. The whole idea of medication to affect neurotransmitters was still two decades off. This show, like so many others, is a decade before its time.
Very good comments
Allen Rickman decided to become Rasputin. He did a lot of research, introspection and study. I fear for his soul. Historically as accurate as it could be, there are flights from and to events which are poetic license. Rasputin was an original, not a Barnum, nor a John the Baptist. The time in Russia from 1907 to 1917 was a catastrophe of Greek proportions. Masses were shot, murdered. The White Russians rebelled against the Communists and they had a war which rivalled the brutality of the Great War. Finally Lenin died and Stalin took over for thirty years of murder, failed five year plans, and total war against the Germans. Was Czarism really that bad?
If you want to watch explosions, car chases or flying bullets look elsewhere. This is a story about a piano prodigy and his strangely gifted family. Their stories intertwine and they all have hangups. The kid is a brat and mom pushed him a bit too far. Vitus' solutions to his various problems involve the stock market, his doting grandfather's trust, daddy's hearing aides, an airplane, losing his gift and then wrapping the whole thing up with a grand concert (Schumann). The making of the movie is almost as unbelievable as the movie itself; and the actual actor, Teo Gheorgieu is actually better than the script called for. Multi-gifted, he is a Swiss of Romanian descent in a London school for gifted children. He does his own music, as does the 6-yr-old who played a younger Vitus. Gifted is an understatement. This movie I had shipped in from Switzerland to play in my Region 2 player and it is more than worth it; even brushed up on my German. See it and be amazed and amused, show it to your friends.
Grand Prix (1966)
Never before, never again.
Auto racing is basically in the here and now. Next week nobody cares. Last week somebody won so what. In the late 50s and early 60s technology was absolutely hideous, Ferrari, Cooper and Lotus approached the problem from different directions. Ferrari: 'My cars are built to GO, not to stop.' Lotus: 'My cars are designed for lightness; we see how heavy a part has to be to not fail, then cut that 50 per cent.' Cooper: 'We see what everybody else does and sort of copy that.' This movie follows that script, because it is the truth. Yet when someone dies it is undesigned, unscripted, and usually a 'son of a botch' which provides the fatal coup de gra. Nowadays the difference between Michael Schumacher and the last guy on the grid IN THE SAME CAR is infinitesimal. Michael is half engineer and half team manager. He should quit while he still breathes, think Senna. Best ever, killed by a stupid tire bounced off a guardrail after a mechanical fault made him do a right turn at full chat. RIP and that fast. BTW, My favorite driver of all time is Graham Hill; would be the Prime Minister of England Now if it weren't for a lousy landing of his plane. Funniest inside joker in history of mankind. In response to an earlier comment, it looked like James Garner was driving the car because he was driving the car. He was an accomplished racing driver in Can Am and some medium level sportscar events, and made a Baja 1000 or two I believe in a Hurst Olds 442. Phil Hill drove the camera vehicle which I think was an Indy Ford Powered formula car, so he had little trouble keeping up. The F1 circuit had some problems keeping up because most of the cars were painted strange colors. Lotuses are usually BRG, Coopers Blue, Hondas white, Ferrari Red and so forth. In the movie this was all switched around so you really have to know your cars to pick them out.