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|379 reviews in total|
When the film is over, you are complimenting Glenn Close. Those of us who
remember the Disney cartoon we will recall the headlights of the vans in the
night creating sharp cones--and here we have Adrian Biddle doing just that
with his camera. The film is what it is because of Biddle and Close. Watch
it again, and you will see Biddle's outstanding angles and output!
This is not just a kiddie movie, it's a move adults could love equally. Close is a delight to watch any day.
Second viewing. Another example of a Berlin Golden Bear Winner,
nominated for 3 major Oscars and not winning a single one. "The Thin
Red Line," won the Golden Bear and was nominated for 7 Oscars. It
suffered the same fate. History proves the big winners of the big three
European film festivals are considered true gems of cinema over time.
Just wondered at the parallels between this film and Kurosawa's "Stray Dog" (1949). The oppressive heat and the eventual rain that affect the characters are the same. Wonder if the screenplay writer had seen the Japanese film made 8 years before the Hollywood classic.
Another debut film that proves to be the best work of a director over time.
Without a doubt "2046" is one of the most impressive Chinese films that
I have seen. It invites the viewer to a world of time (year 2046, when
Hong Kong truly integrates with mainland China; the past, the present,
and the future of the storyteller) and space (the hotel rooms 2046 and
2047). The film urges the viewer to look at the future with nostalgia
for the past (not its achievements, rather its missed opportunities).
On the face of it all, it appears the battleground of the four
dimensions revolve around man-woman relationships. But the director
teases the viewer, is that all that is presented? "2046" probably
eclipses Hollywood's "Matrix" and "Minority Report" in its elliptical
story-telling. "2046" is a heady mix of fine screenplay, alluring
cinematography and clever choice of music. Not having seen the prequel
to this film, I might be at a disadvantage at appreciating several
I saw the film during the recent Dubai Film Festival within 24 hours of two other engaging films: "Kong Kue" (Peacock) a brilliant Chinese film and the Italian film "Consequences of Love" and I cannot but help compare the three. "Kong Kue" leaves you satisfied of having seen a great film, "Consequences of Love" makes you marvel at how Buster Keaton and Tati can be creatively adapted to contemporary tastes (with similar symbolic hotel rooms as in "2046"), and "2046" enthralls the intelligent viewer without satiating his intellect. "2046," unlike the other, two does require more than one viewing.
While all three are major films, one fact is quite evident--the current decade seems to belong to serious Chinese cinema, just as the previous decade belonged to Iranian cinema.
I wonder what feminists feel about this film. I found this work to be a
fascinating look at women by a male director that can compare with two
other cinematic works: Paul Mazursky's "The Unmarried Woman" and
Muzaffar Ali's "Umrao Jaan". Strong women, weak women, lesbians, and
immature girls, are contrasted with cardboard male characters that are
never fully developed and are obviously no match to the array of women
portrayed in the film. The men are painted so negatively that one
begins to wonder if Ford thought Asian men had more brawn than brain--a
strange view that has gained currency in Hollywood cinema.
I applaud Ford's decision to cast Anne Bancroft in this role. This is one of her strong performances. She makes even the most vapid films look elegant with her roles ("Lipstick", "Little Nikita", to name just two). Ford develops her role "7 women" on the lines of a Western gunslinger--only there are no gunfights. The woman has a weapon: sex. That weapon can down all the bad guys faster than it takes to down Mexicans, Red Indians, rustlers, bank-robbers. In this film these bad men are Chinese/Mongolian thugs. Established thespians Dame Flora Robson and Margaret Leighton are totally eclipsed by Bancroft's riveting performance.
What Ford wanted I guess was to stun the viewer with the ending--the twist preceded by the gradual softening of the Bancroft in men's clothes to the Bancroft in women's clothes and the acceptance of male superiority. Most critics have found the end facile but I found the end was powerful as it makes you review and reconsider the strength of the lead character.
The film questions established views on religion; evidently Ford was old enough to have seen enough to choose to make this film in the evening of his life. In his films, Ford's women are as interesting as any other aspect of his cinema and this film provides ample fodder for those interested in studying this element of Ford's work.
However, for a 1966 film, the studio sets for the film look too artificial for the serious cinema the film offers. If anything, the film makes the viewer think!
This is an unusual film of exceptional values--75 minutes long in
color, with hardly any spoken dialogs. I saw this Iranian film in Farsi
without English subtitles at the Early Iranian cinema retrospective
on-going International Film Festival of Kerala, India. That I was
watching a print without subtitles did not make a difference as there
were very few lines of spoken dialogs.
This is a very accessible film for any audience to enjoy--its story and values are not merely Iranian, it's universal.
The film is set in rural Iran that had not tasted petro-dollar prosperity. The setting is on fringes of desert land, where water is scarce, rainfall scanty and hardly any blade of grass is green. Add to it wind and dust that buffets and whips man and animal and you can imagine plight of the people who live on the fringes of society.
The film is moving tale of a young teenager returning to his village with a goat--only to find his family and villagers have moved on to escape natures vagaries and that one old man remains. He gives the goat to him and goes in search of his family. Water is scarce and well water it treated with reverence and never wasted. The boy is infuriated when he sees the water being used to cool the engine of a truck. A toddler is left behind by some family that cannot tend it. The boy takes care of the child but finds it tough going and asks other families to take care. Nobody wants another mouth to feed. A bucket of water left by the boy is more useful for passing families than the child. Finally, the child is picked up by one large family and boy is happy.
He is so caring that he saves two fishes that would have died without water by throwing them in the well. He trudges on surviving on a watermelon left behind by someone.
The boy tries to get some water for a person who was accidentally buried under sand but there is no water in the well. He digs another but there is no water. He is tired and prays for water. He digs again at another site, wishing that the dead fishes that appear in his dream can survive. Metaphorically the earth opens up and a sea of water gushes out to the strains of Beethoven's 5th symphony.
If the Iranian government publicizes such works of artistic merit, Iran would be better appreciated elsewhere. The film won a top award at the Nantes Film Festival.
Sally Field replies to a reporter colleague towards the end of the film
"...That's accurate, not true." This is a dilemma of many media persons, the
distance between accuracy and truth in their profession--I know it because I
Director Sydney Pollack presents several situations which asks the questions of the viewer. It would be "accurate" to state there was no rape or sex in the warehouse sequence--but the truth is a blouse was torn, and the camera captures Field in a bodily posture that indicates something "did happen" in an abstract sense.
The film is bland while discussing "what is truth?". It is strange that Pollack comes so close to discussing serious subjects ("Castle Keep" is a memorable example from Pollack) but shies away after posing questions. I am sure Stanley Kubrick cast Pollack in "Eyes Wide Shut" because of his propensity to deal with such moral issues. Even other films he has chosen to act in, such as "A civil action", encourages the viewer to think, and thus be entertained.
Sequences such as the one with Actor Wilford Brimley as US Asst. Attorney General are tailored to please the larger slice of the viewing public. Pollack was trying to communicate with the audiences who saw the importance of heading "north east" when most people tend to go south or west--in the parting words of the Paul Newman character. If anything, this Pollack film encourages the audiences to think.
John Huston (if we recall works like "Night of Iguana" rather than
"Escape to Victory") is a commendable director. Yet this film makes you
wonder if he deserves the kudos that have been heaped on him, even
though we are told the poor quality ending of this film was not his
work but that of a stand-in selected by the studios while he went off
to fight the war.
Why do I feel this way? The film has a brilliant scene where the camera captures smoke wafting in front while Bogart's character--a pre-Bond spy--is sifting behind the smoke through the private belongings of another. The audience "smells" the smoke before the hero does. And Huston expects the viewer to believe in Bogart's sharp senses, while he is probably congratulating himself for the obvious cleverness of the scene that introduces the smoker's presence. This captures Huston's creativity--capable of brilliance but not being thorough with details as one would expect a great director to be.
There is no doubt that all the actors are wonderful to watch--Greenstreet, Bogart, Astor and all the rest--but a movie is not built on mere acting. The film's screenplay progresses with a flourish in the first half that makes one sit up and await a Hitchcockian film to unspool. But somewhere along the way, Huston loses his momentum and the film seems to anticipate his "Casino Royale", as though Huston has gone soft in his head. Would a director of Huston's stature allow a film with the title including the word Pacific, be allowed to be attributed to him, when there are no scenes relating to that ocean? And the torpedoes, the planes..Is this the great Huston?
What are the charming facets of the film? The lovely dialogues (not the screenplay) and the pidgin English of the "Japanese" are entertaining. The film makes you await Greenstreet's signature laugh. Greenstreet in my view steals the scenes from Bogart when they come together. Astor is believable in her role lending credibility which is a factor the film seems to lose ever so often.
Wonderful original screenplay by Budd Schulzberg and good performances by the leads. Good film that explores the power of the media on the same lines as Billy Wilder's "Ace in the Hole" made 6 years prior to this work. Only difference was the two films dealt with different media.
I saw the movie for a second time, 5 years after the first viewing, and
realized that this is not a movie to view casually on a tired evening.
My initial assessment was that Julie Christie and Nick Nolte were
arresting in a movie with some clever camera-work by Toyomichi Kurita
assisted with some interesting music by Mark Isham. Period.
The second, more-attentive viewing allowed me to savor the intelligent script and unusual direction of Alan Rudolph. The script is remarkably close to Edward Albee's "Who's afraid of Viginia Woolf"-both have two sets of couples, each set a generation apart, the older one ruing the loss of a child.
Rudolph presents a script on sex without sex though peppered with wit that could make Noel Coward pale in comparison. For example: "I'm Jeffrey Byron III. There won't be a IV. We Byrons quit when we get it right." Or "I did notice your wedding ring!" And the response "It's removable!" The wit is not obviousI missed much of it on the first casual viewingunlike the name of the lead character "Lucky Mann," married to an attractive actress who is can be acerbic with her very attractive aging handyman husband as she smirks "How was work today, Lucky? Unclog a few tubes?"
The film is not propped up by the Shawian script alone (interestingly Director Robert Altman is the producer), but Director Rudolph extracts fascinating performance from top four actors who are thoroughly believable. The anguished cry of Julie Christie is the key to the film that transforms Rudolph's script from clever humor to mature tragedy. It is this cry that makes you reevaluate the entire film, why Jeffery (Jonny Lee Miller) balances on roof edges, why Phyllis' (the mesmerizing Julie Christie) "soul needs an overhaul", and why Rudolph allows Kurita to make his camera do a cartwheel at several points in the film. Clever, Mr Rudolph, but how many will have the patience to savor it all.
Finally, Rudolph has successfully brought out the incredible charm of Julie Christie and the potential of Nick Nolte as actors. It is a pity Christie missed a second Academy Award!
Many may not be aware that this film was considered "worthless" in the
Soviet Union after it was made and shelved for years. Director Elem
Klimov made several changes to the 1975 original version and it was
ultimately released in 1981 and shown at the Venice Film Festival 1982
(where it won the FIPRESCI prize) out of competition.
The original name of the film was Agony (Agoniya) and not Rasputin, a name by which the film was marketed for a while. The title Agony was evidently in line with what the director had in mind. If we were to accept that argument, was the director's original film about the spiritual agony of the controversial holy man? Or was it meant to reflect the agony of Czar Nicholas, who could not go against the Czarina's total faith in Rasputin? Was the title meant to depict the agony of a great nation afflicted by the abysmal corruption among the monarchists who were there to make money while the poor starved and the indecisive Czar painted flowers to distract himself from the more pressing political problems (One fine sequence in the film soon after the Duma castigates the Czar shows the silent but mentally tortured Czar, with tear filled eyes looking for comfort in the sympathetic gaze of his loyal butler). Was the title also to depict the agony of the Russian Orthodox Church which was suddenly losing its grip on the worshippers with the rise of the Bolsheviks and "holy men" like Rasputin? We will never know unless we see the original version the director made. My guess is the director wanted to combine all these agonies and that Rasputin, the individual, dominated only a segment of the agonizing events. What we do know is that this film and its many versions that were put out by Soviet and the post-Perestroika Russian authorities were at no point of time expected to depict Rasputin as the sole villain that led to the to the 1916 October Revolution.
The film does offer several insights into the enigmatic character of Rasputin. He did indeed accept bribes from those wanting favors from the Czar, while the film distinctly indicates that it is debatable that he loved money and wealth. He was least concerned about getting rich, because he could get what he desired without pelf. Rasputin had an ability to foresee the future but could totally misread his dreams (The film includes an interesting sequence where he rolls in a pool of stagnant water, as he can foresee his fall from grace at the Czar's palace). He could perform small miracles, could utter saintly statements ("the cowl does not make a monk") and believed like a village bumpkin that you could sin and then start life with a clean slate! No wonder the Russian Orthodox Church saw in him an evil rascal. What happens to him after the Church traps him is totally unclear in the version of the film I saw. Was he castrated? Klimov's Rasputin is unusual--he is an animal waiting to ravish a beautiful woman one moment, and then a religious zealot throwing out the woman for having tried to seduce him the very next moment.
I am convinced that Klimov's film is less about Rasputin than about the people that surrounded him. Take the Czar, for one.
Klimov's cinematic essay shows him scurrying away from a meeting on war preparations in dark passageways behind wall-maps worried equally about his haemophiliac son Alexei, the crown prince who is depicted as a brat. The personal worries of the Czar (in the photography dark room, in his relationship with the Orthodox Church, his empathies for his worried wife doting on her children) have been given importance, unlike Franklin Schaffner's Nicholas and Alexandra that seemed to focus on the Czarina (Janet Suzman) more than the Czar. Interestingly, Klimov's film downplays the Czarina's role focusing more on the Czar.
Klimov's range of agonies does not end here. Even the assassins of Rasputin are agonizingly guilt-ridden. Most Russians are Church-going Orthodox Christians and Klimov understood his audience quite well. The dubious role of the Orthodox Church in those troubled times are pitch forked into prominencethe film shows the burial of Rasputin officiated by the Church in the presence of the Czar.
Finally, Klimov spliced documentary footage to show the agonies of the common man at every given interval to add validity to his essay on the varied agonies he captures on celluloid.
While Klimov's film shows patches of brilliance, one needs to recall that he initially made his mark as filmmaker decades before Agoniya having made remarkable satirical comedies like Adventures of a dentist. (I have yet to see the latter film; however, what both films have in common is that wonderful Russian actress Alisa Frejnlikh, who played the Stalker's wife in Tarkovsky's Stalker.) His last few films Agoniya and Idi o simotri (Go and see/Come and see) proved that he was now looking at life grimly. He was then working closely with his wife, actor and director Larisa Shepitko and was reported to be a devoted husband. Equally enigmatic is the role of Lady Vyrubova played by Alisa Frejnlikh. What was the relationship between Rasputin and Vyrubova? Probably the answers lie in the director's cut of Agoniya, which is possibly lost for ever.
I was privileged to have met Klimov at Hyderabad, India, in 1986 during a Film Festival. It was after his wife's death. I recall that he was withdrawn and less than forthcoming to questions. Was he afraid to talk? Was he a genius who was never allowed to prove it, because of political pressures? This is probably why both Agoniya and Klimov remain enigmatic for me to this day.
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