Reviews written by registered user
|17 reviews in total|
Right up there with Barry Lyndon. I wonder if Kubrick saw this movie, which predates Barry Lyndon by a good 12 years. It is sumptuous and luxurious to look at but there is enough plot and dialogue to digest, as well. Ever class conscious, Visconti here decides to show us how the other half lives, even if it takes place 150 years ago. Interesting for history buffs like myself to get an insider's view of the Italian war of independence and how the lines between Royalists and Garibaldi's men were sometimes blurred. Oh, did I mention how regal Burt Lancaster looks here. He plays the part to perfection. The young Claudia Cardinale looks great, too, opposite the magnetic Alain Delon. They only add to the sybaritic nature of the film.
Although this movie came out in 1975, I didn't get around to it until
about 2003, when I acquired the Stanley Kubrick box set. That's what
happens when you listen to critics. The so-called "experts" panned this
movie when it came out, probably because it was not 2001 or A Clockwork
Orange or Dr. Strangelove. So the story isn't groundbreaking, so what.
Its a great story, set in a great period and it is lovingly told by
Kubrick. What was and is groundbreaking about Barry Lyndon was the
cinematography. The whole movie was shot in natural light-a monumental
achievement when you think about it. All of the nighttime scenes were
shot by candlelight and it puts you right there in the 1760's. I can
think of no other period piece movie that conveys the pre-electricity
age so accurately-just one of the many reasons why this movie won so
many awards, including the Oscar, for Cinematography. Filming at
picturesque locales in Ireland, England and Germany didn't hurt,
either. You just can't stop watching this movie.
Kubrick continued his fabulous use of Classical music to enhance the action on screen in Barry Lyndon. No synthesizers here-only music faithful to the era performed on instruments that were in use at the time. Gorgeous cinematography...gorgeous music. The result is sublime. They don't make 'em like this anymore.
Really, who's idea was this? A retreat back to the bad old days of Hollywood when Caucasians played Chinese, Indians and every race under the sun because how can we entrust these roles to "inferior" races. Brian Dennehy as Kublai Khan is as laughable in the 21st century as Bruce Cabot was as Maqua in the Last Of The Mohicans in 1936. And then, in a stunning reversal of typecasting, Achmed, a Muslim Saracen, is played by a Chinese. You can't write this stuff. Or, maybe you can. Somebody did here. God, what a mess. Let's not forget the casual glossing over of the trip to the East, which took almost 4 years and zips by here in a few minutes. Do yourself a favor and seek out the 1982 mini-series which was a labor of love with an all star cast, location filming and fabulous music from the master, Ennio Morriconne. Will someone finally release that on DVD so we won't have to be subjected to these awful remakes!!
The best part of this movie was how much Randolph Scott looked like Errol Flynn. The rest? Well, let's cut them some slack. After all, it was only 1936, the beginning of time as far as film making is concerned. The book is only a rough guideline for the movie. I won't get into spoilers, but if you've read the book, the plot line here will have you scratching your head saying, "What gives?!" This is typical Hollywood sentiment. The main thrust here is romance, not the strength of character of the novel's protagonists. Little, if any attention is paid to the ways of the Indian. While Cooper went to great lengths to describe their customs and living conditions, the movie just ignores that in favor of a couple of dreamed up romances. Typical of the times, there are no real Indians, either. While the same prejudice was shown in Charlie Chan movies, at least Warner Oland and Sidney Toler were enjoyable to watch. The ersatz Indians here just bring the proceedings down. I'm gonna watch the 1992 version next and I sure hope its a more authentic account of the time of the French & Indian War.
Its hard to imagine a country that has been through more heartache and
tragedy than Vietnam over the last 100 years. Occupied by the French,
then the Americans, then the Russians....the mere fact of their
survival points to a strong, national character and the movies coming
out of this country over the last 15 years or so all have a strong
moral compass and a soul rarely seen in Western films these days.
Continuing in the fine tradition of films like The Scent Of Green Papaya, Cyclo, Three Seasons, etc., Owl and the Sparrow is an absolute jewel. Its hard not to be touched by the gritty, 3rd World reality forced upon children who have no time to be kids. The suffering of the Vietnamese people over the last 100 years has imbued them with a dogged determination to overcome at all odds and the little 10 year old girl, Thuy, who is the main focus of the movie, shows that grit and determination while still retaining the adorable charm of a child. And I don't like kids!!!!!
Enough people have commented on the plot line and the technical aspects before. Suffice to say this is a feel-good movie of the first order. If you are not emotionally all in by the end of this movie, better check your pulse.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm sorry, but Henry VIII will always be Richard Burton in my mind. Eric Bana just doesn't cut it. He's good in other movies...ie:Troy, but he just doesn't have the volcanic effect that Burton brought to the screen in Anne of The Thousand Days. Not that either of these women are going to make me forget Genevieve Bujold, either. They do a passable job and Natalie Portman finally kicks it into gear just before they chop her head off. The only place where this movie has the edge is that it gives an overview of the lives and intrigues of the Tudor court but you better be up on your English history to keep up with all the wives. No timelines are given and many prolonged dramas are Reader's Digest condensed into a few minutes so that anyone not familiar with the actual events might wonder how we got from A to B. The costumes and the castles are exceptionally well done and make this worth viewing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As someone who has traveled the length of this beautiful country 8
times, I am constantly reminded of the outstanding character of its
people. So many times, I have been the recipient of kindnesses from
those whose situation in life could not be any more different than my
own. It doesn't matter to the Vietnamese. Even in Hanoi, as an
American, I was expecting a bitter reception only to be humbled by the
warmth and sincerity of my welcome. Why am I going on about the
Vietnamese people without a mention of the movie? Because the movie is
but one more shining example of how these people have fought through
tragedy after tragedy and refused to buckle. Their resolve is second to
none-as evidenced by their defeats of the French, Americans and Chinese
in a span of 25 years.
The movie picks up the story of a young couple in a northern village in 1954, the year Ho Chi Minh finally defeated the French. The couple sees this as a good time to escape the grinding poverty of their serf-like existence and head south. They settle in Hoi An and raise a family. This isn't the Hoi An of tourist shops, restaurants and 500 tailors that has somehow become a hot destination in the last ten years. This is the Hoi An of pre-UNESCO fame; just another village full of people trying to get by. They never escape the poverty that seems to weigh on them from the beginning, but, despite it all, they have the love of a tight knit family in spades. And, there is the achingly beautiful countryside around Hoi An. Even in poverty, these people's lives are not without many of Nature's rewards.
With our knowledge of history, we can pretty well guess that there is more tragedy in store and it really is heartbreaking. The anguish and suffering that are such a large part of Vietnamese history does not leave this wonderful family untouched and it won't leave you untouched, either.
I was such a fan of Sergio Leone's Western trilogy with Clint Eastwood that when I saw he did a western with a big name Hollywood cast and Hollywood budget, I said, "Aw, that's it for Leone. Cross him off the list. Its all just cash-in time, now." And for almost 40 years, I never saw Once Upon A Time In The West. Oh sure, there were those late night TV airings where I saw the first excruciatingly exquisite scene and dug the music and the mood and then fell asleep. But, a couple of Ennio Morricone CDs always kept the theme music to Once Upon A Time in my immediate memory. I vowed to sit through the whole thing the next time it came on late night TV. Last night was the night I came to realize what a fool I'd been all those years. Wow, what a film. Every scene is a delight to behold, especially now that I have a 46" LCD to enjoy it all the more. The shots of Monument Valley (reminiscent of How The West Was Won-another personal fave) are incredible as are all the trademark Leone close-ups. Everything in the movie is just perfect. Fonda is the ultimate villain (WHO KNEW!), Robards is excellent, as usual, even Claudia Cardinale provides more than the de rigeur eye candy. Bronson....well, Bronson book-ends the Sixties Western if you think about it. He had a fine role in the 1960 classic, The Magnificent 7 and ends the decade with another classic western. Nicely done.
The music is superb. The movie is so-so. The period sets are perfect
and its just like being back in KC during the infamous Pendergast era.
Altman made this movie as a paean to his hometown and the music that
came out of it. One cannot divorce the music from the movie. Either you
are a jazz fan or you're not. If you're not, you won't like this movie.
Its that simple. If you are, you are really in for a treat. The film
features all of the "new" stars in jazz from the mid-90's (James Carter
and Craig Handy on saxes, Mark Whitfield on guitar, Geri Allen and
Cyrus Chestnut on piano....the list goes on and on. They all play the
legends of jazz that came out of Kansas City-people like Count Basie,
Joe Williams, Lester Young and Coleman Hawkins. A veritable treat for
the in-the-know jazz fan but probably a bore for anyone else. Altman
stays on the music longer than most directors would because this is a
film about the music as much as it is about the plot.
And here's the real irony. Movie buffs will say they wished Altman wouldn't have devoted so much time to the music and jazz buffs will say they wished Altman would have done away with the ridiculous, annoying plot and grating performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh and focused entirely on the music. How to please everyone? The end result is uneven but there's enough here to keep all parties interested.
If any actor should be singled out, it should be Harry Belafonte. His turn as the underworld kingpin, Seldom Seen, is fantastic. He speaks in a low, gruff rasp but his dialogue is truly worth the effort to understand. When he goes off on the Marcus Garvey speech, its worth the price of admission. Of course, it helps to know who Marcus Garvey was. Jazz fans (and reggae fans, too) will get it. After all, this is a movie for them/us.
In the theatrical version, when the warden breaks into the bathroom and shoves the weasel train dispatcher's head in the toilet, he then said, "Now, wipe that pss off your face." This was edited for the cable release to, "Wipe your face". Give me a break. Like that's such gross dialog in this age of a million f***s a picture. Sure ruined it for me seeing it again after all these years. That's one of the most memorable lines ever. What a riveting, over-the-top performance by Jon Voight at his peak. This earned him a well deserved Oscar nomination for best actor. Great cinematography as well, filmed on location in Alaska. Eric Roberts seemed primed for super-stardom around this time (Star 80, Pope Of Greenwich Village) but he never climbed to the top rung.
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