Reviews written by registered user
|7 reviews in total|
Well, it's different, that's for sure.
I took this movie out on video because I was in the mood for something different, and on that front it certainly fulfilled my expectations. On the other hand, I was also after something entertaining, and on that front it - unfortunately - didn't, except in fragments.
The film starts with Steven Soderbergh blowing a metaphorical rasberry at the audience, standing in front of the movie screen advising (not an exact quote, just a paraphrase) - "This is the most important movie you will ever see. If you do not understand it, the fault is yours, not ours, and you should see it again and again until you do understand it, and at full price too."
It then follows a small cast of characters (some of whom can't act... or maybe that's the point?) in a series of intersecting stories... though if you can articulate the plotlines you're a better person that I! There's some sort of satire on Scientology, though as I know almost nothing about that particular cult/religion the allusions unfortunately pass me by. I guess, though, that John Travolta is unlikely to make a movie with Soderbergh anytime soon.
I did enjoy a few bits, particularly when Soderbergh is playing with the conventions of film making (like deliberately having the boom mike "accidentally" drop into shot). Favourite among these is when he has his characters talking in a kind of meta dialogue, a cinematic shorthand which comes across like the actors are reading off the film's treatment rather than script. Ie, instead of saying things like "Hi Honey, I'm home. How are the kids?" they say something along the lines of "Banal greeting to wife. Obligatory inquiry after offspring."
Unfortunately these moments are too few. This would have made an interesting short subject, but at over an hour and a half it really didn't sustain my interest.
Guess I'm a traditionalist at heart.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A pleasant but overlong diversion, nothing more.
Julia Roberts has been in both better romantic comedies (eg My Best Friend's Wedding) and funnier ones (eg Notting Hill).
The romance between Roberts and Richard Gere develops reasonably naturally UNTIL she blows off (a phrase, BTW which has a totally different meaning in Australia than in the US... I'm using the US meaning in this review!) her then-current fiance and she and Gere decide - in that very scene - to get married instead. The wedding doesn't happen of course which is both silly and predictable. The reason however is the correct one, revealed the obligatory reconciliation 10 minutes later.
The film descends from fluff to ludicrousness when the paparazzi covering the wedding decide to - quote - "leave the poor guy alone" - unquote after being left by the altar.
An interesting adaption of the story. The screenplay writer John Gay has
added about 30 minutes worth of backstory and recounts Valjean's initial
theft of the bread, trial and almost 20 years imprisonment in some detail
before getting to the scene with the Bishop, which is where the 1000+ page
He has included notable scenes and characters from the book - such as Marius' misunderstanding with his grandfather (played by John Gielgud) and Monsieur Madeline's housekeeper who never lies, Sister Simplice. However, he has also cut many others - notably the whole subplot with Thenardier's gang in Paris, practically all of the students' interactions and the character of Eponine. Further, he has chosen to include some scenes which I certainly would never think of as essential or even substantive, such as the convoluted means of getting Valjean back into the convent where he and Cosette spend 10 years.
The effect of these interesting choices is twofold: Firstly, this movie is very much Valjean's story, with many of the other characters given short shrift. (Javert is an exception.) Secondly, the pacing is somewhat uneven - inclusion of short scenes such as those with Marius' grandfather imply a more detailed backdrop to each of the other characters, but ultimately appear tacked on. Some of the "chase" scenes also come across as gratuitous and lack tension.
The fact that this is a made-for-TV movie comes out in a limited budget and the periodic fade outs between scenes.
On the plus side, Anthony Perkins gives a wonderfully controlled performance as Javert (standout scene for me was his confrontation with Sister Simplice), and Richard Jordan is sympathetic, if somewhat babyfaced even as an old man.
Lovers of that great "kids" TV show Press Gang (highly recommended BTW) will get a kick out of spotting a young Dexter Fletcher as Gavroche.
This is an evil movie, if "evil" can be used as a compliment!
Solondz excels at making us squirm, at dragging out the uncomfortable moment to the point where you may find yourself watching this movie peeking through your fingers, or with clenched fist.
There have been some comparisons made with the more recent "American Beauty" and indeed both movies share a particularly twisted view of suburban existence. "Happiness", while less tightly focused than "Beauty" (and overall probably slightly less successful), chooses to be even more audacious.
No more so than in its treatment of the relationship between the father and his son which is at once hysterical (in both senses of the word), subversive, affirming, tragic, moving and confronting. The earnestness of the father/son conversations harks back to the family fare of 50s and 60s television, though the subject matter certainly doesn't.
Also noteworthy is the music which manages to slyly comment on events with its insidious, banal sentimentality.
Certainly not a movie for everyone.
IMO one of the best mini series ever produced (not that I'm an
source mind you), Brides of Christ ranks up there with the British
production Edge of Darkness with a similar high level of the quality and
intelligence in the writing, acting and general execution. (The subject
matter and treatment could not be more different though.)
Each of the six episodes deals with a different aspect of Catholic life in 1960s Australia as viewed through the nuns and students of an Australian convent/school. While the setting and recurring characters remain constant, each episode concentrates on a different character (well, one character gets two episodes). There is also a subtle arc which spans the entire mini series.
The performances are uniformly excellent - to single anyone in the recurring or guest cast out would be to slight the others who haven't been mentioned. As a piece of casting trivia however, fans of the Australian production of the stage musical Les Misérables will be pleased that no less than four members of the original Australian cast appear in Brides of Christ in guest roles. One episode also features an early performance by Russell Crowe.
This series, dealing with issues such as loyalty, integrity, faith and change makes you feel and it makes you think. You don't have to be Catholic to appreciate this series (I'm not and loved it), just a fan of high quality television.
I went and saw this movie at the cinema several years ago knowing -nothing-
about it and was (almost literally) blown away by it.
While it started out to be a fairly standard thriller, it quickly turned into a very original, very intense and ultimately deeply moving character piece intertwined with some grip-the-edge-of-your-seat action sequences, heightened no doubt by the fact that you -cared- about these characters and what happened to them.
Jean Reno in many ways reprises his walk-on part as Victor the "cleaner" from Beson's "La Femme Nikita" (Leon/The Professional could almost be a sequel) and does so wonderfully, but the most enchanting surprise was then-newcomer Natalie Portman's Mathilda. I hadn't (and still haven't) been this impressed by a child's performance since, well, ever. I'm very glad to see that she has further delivered on her acting promise in movies such as Beautiful Girls and found a deserved measure of commercial success in Phantom Menace (Portman was one of the few redeeming features of that particular movie, but that's another review).
The only slight flaw I perceived at the time was Gary Oldman's performance which, while effective, was - I thought - somewhat over-acted. Little did I know the measure of Oldman's restraint in this film until I saw his turn in The Fifth Element.
The first two sequences of this movie set up the two conflicts:
the -thematic- conflict between the soldier Todd and his suppressed
humanity, and the -physical- conflict between Todd and his bio-engineered
replacement. Both sequences are quite gripping in different ways.
Peoples' screenplay falters somewhat by resolving the first of these arcs half-way through the movie, which means the second half is little more than a straightforward action romp.
Nonetheless, kudos to the makers for creating an genre action piece with heart and even a bit of soul and especially to Kurt Russell who conveys much with very little.
Not a great film, but one worth seeing.