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40 reviews in total 
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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
This movie is better if you're drinking, 23 November 2001

Normally, I write reviews of movies I see on my website. However, for this movie I cannot do that because I wasn't really watching it for the last half-hour or so. An explanation and warning to all follows.

I saw this movie with some friends; otherwise, I would never have seen it, since the reviews have not been kind. The movie, indeed, is every bit as inane and touchy-feely as you think it is. There is very little to recommend in it; the only thing I can think of is that it isn't downright unpleasant. The birthday boy, one of my friends, brought along a bottle of whiskey, and, after draining enough of it, handed it to the chick on my right. She drank as much as he did, but, being much less corpulent, got drunk right there in the theater. The stupid things she said and her lack of physical coordination were much funnier than the movie itself. I finished off the bottle, and the movie was much more tolerable while buzzed. So, I can't recommend going to see this movie unless you just feel like getting drunk in the movie theater; not normally a practice I condone, but in this case almost a necessity.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Unusually sadistic but hilarious, 12 August 2001

This is one of those shorts where Sylvester chases Tweety and Hector the bulldog chases Sylvester. Unlike most of those films, where Sylvester gets beaten up by Hector in the end, this time their chase leads them into traffic, and from there to a recuperative stay in the animal hospital. But even in heavy casts, cat and dog are determined to whack the crap out of each other and cause incredible amounts of pain. Rarely in a WB cartoon has so much pain not been glossed over; there are no fade-outs here, and the pain accumulates for the character rather than just fading away. Because of this, an unusually hilarious and terrific short.

17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
The most unrigid religious movie ever, 26 June 2001

Most religious films are somber affairs, made by religious men. So Francesco, giullare di Dio is an odd religious movie. It lacks any readings from scripture, or even any quotation. It's made by Rossellini, and the title means "Francis, Jester Of God." It's a long long way from here to Diary Of A Country Priest.

We've had St. Francis movies, of course. Most (in)famous is Zeffirelli's Brother Sun, Sister Moon: St. Francis as hippie. But this was the best. It was shot more or less on location, in the Italian countryside. It stars non-professionals (of course; Rossellini was a neo-realist). Fortunately, it stars a bunch of monks as...a bunch of monks following St. Francis.

In a brisk 75 minutes, Rossellini sketches a bunch of events: St. Francis meeting a leper, a cook learning why actions win souls, not words, etc. There's little music, and, oddly, not really much time spent with St. Francis himself. He's a side character; the thing of real interest is the daily lives and lessons of the monks.

At the end, Francis sends the monks off on their own to preach. They spin in circles, fall down, and wherever their head points, that's where they go. Religion is a journey, not an urgent reason to convert others. This supremely generous and uninsistent film is surely one of the best religious films ever made, full of nature and joy.

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
It's just one joke, 21 June 2001

Like the title says. Like snickering fourth-graders, the movie makes jokes about the family's name. The wife's name is Mrs. Hellen Dam, etc. They pose for us behind a platform with their name written on it. Notable as a surviving early silent rather than for any cinematic value.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Crime Does NOT PAY!, 11 June 2001

In this early example of an instructional film, we open on the stirring close-up of a police badge. Then, we hear the blare of sirens, and then we see a solemn expert who speaks to us about the dangers of drunk driving - and offers photographs to back up his word. Just as we prepare to swear off drinking for the rest of our lives, he offers this dramatic reconstruction, and it's flash-back time.

John Jones is a nice guy who works for a refrigerator firm. This is our first tip-off that he's not too bright. He's just landed a $20,000 contract, and the boss is sending him off to the east coast, to train for his upcoming management post. Elated by this news of his promotion, Jones rushes with his buddy to the bar, and drinks 3 straight bourbons. Then, wisely, he drives home, stopping only to hit the bumper of a woman when he runs a stop sign. (When he gives her his card and says insurance will pay for the damage, she says "Oh no you don't! All these people on the sidewalk saw what happened! We'll settle this right here!")

Arriving home to his elated wife and her mother, they decide to go to dinner at a place called "The Plantation," which is some miles away. He drinks one martini in celebration with his wife and mom, and drains another two in secret. (This after paying a $25 fine for the first accident.) He keeps speeding and speeding and HE'S GOING TOO FAST AND THEN...BOOOOOOOOOM!

Naturally, his wife her the baby in the truck he God knows who else. It's all too much. He cracks up, crying hysterically (and quite annoyingly). Dissolve back to stern-faced expert, who delivers lecture. And then it's all over.

OK, I've had my fun. What do you really expect from an educational movie? Entertaining as an artifact, and also as one of the first works of David Miller, who later directed Kirk Douglas in Lonely Are The Brave. This movie plays under the label "One-Reel Wonder" on TCM.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A good bonus on "The Bridge on the River Kwai", 22 May 2001

This is an hour-long documentary about what the title says the movie is about. It's made by Laurent Bouzereau, the current king of "making of" documentaries made in retrospect. It's a pretty standard affair: he interviews surviving crew, retells stories well-known to those who've read the reprinted program notes in the DVD, and shows conceptual drawings. If that's your king of thing (and I enjoyed watching it), fine. Just don't expect a deeper look at this movie (a la the great book about the making of Lawrence of Arabia) or its restoration.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Slice of life, uninterpreted, 18 April 2001

Director Jean Eustache was born in Pessac, France. He returned there in 1968 to film the annual ceremony in which the town's most virtuous girl is elected. First, we see the town meeting, where nominees are named, votes are taken, and the decision is made. The committee then walks to the girl's house, and informs her. Then we see the march in to the church, the church sermon, the mayor's speech, and the commemorative dinner.

This movie (incredibly hard to get to see) is perfect for those who want to see ordinary daily life unfiltered and without commentary. Eustache simply films the events described above. It's a very amiable film and a very enjoyable one. It's the way France was, circa 1968. However, to understand this film completely, you then have to watch the 1979 version...

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Now that you've read/seen the first Rosiere..., 18 April 2001

You'll understand the importance of Eustache coming back to film the same thing 11 years later. We must remember that this was after the financial failure of Mes Petites Amoureuses had sent Eustache back to making shorts and documentaries (or just short documentaries). It was time, it seems, to come back to Pessac and film the ceremony again. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the other Rosiere De Pessac on Eustache's filmography, where I described it.

That movie was in black-in-white. This one's in color. But don't worry, this one's better. For one thing, Eustache is considerably more bitter and disappointed with things in general. Last time he was content to merely show. This time, he wants to show you some things. Like the fact that the people in Pessac are now dwarfed by two gigantic, horrendously ugly apartment buildings. Or how the ceremony has now become a politicized event covered by TV news crews. Or how long the gap is between the choosing of the virgin and the actual ceremony. Or the interminable number of times the virgin must be kissed by an interminable number of people.

This is a considerably more cynical film. Eustache does make some stabs at filming this film the same way as the last one (a shot going from the mayor's head to a bust above it, for example; the direction of the camera's movement is reversed), but seems to be less interested now than he was in 1968 than simply "showing truth." But the joy does return in the final scene, where we see the outdoor celebration dinner, where the rowdy residents goodnaturedly bang on their tables and cry out for more champagne. Eustache's camera slowly retreats into the distance as the credits roll, a magnificent closing shot. Together, these two movies provide an interesting study in contrasts. Things have changed indeed.

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Awesome obscure short; catch this on TCM, 5 April 2001

Trying to find a translation to the screen of Edgar Allen Poe's work that doesn't involve Roger Corman? Try this short film, made by Jules Dassin, a director who was highly regarded in his time, and is nowadays mainly remembered for Rififi. It's pretty simple: 30-year old apprentice Joseph Schildkraut kills his cruel master. But the heartbeat of the dying body will be his downfall when the police come over. What's that rhythmic ticking sound: the clock? Dripping water? Or is it...(bum bum bum) the HEARTBEAT OF A DEAD MAN?

It's a pretty slim story. The 20 minutes are just right; Dassin concentrates on atmosphere; every shot contributes to the story and mood. It's totally absorbing and gripping, depending greatly on shots from a subjective POV. Schildkraut is hypnotic as the nervous killer; it's really his movie. It might sound corny, but, as done, it's a grippingly serious short; it can be seen in between features on TCM sometimes. That, at least, is how I saw it.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Spellbinding monologue the first time, but pretensions get tedious, 4 April 2001

In this short film from Jean Eustache, unavailable in the US on video (I saw it at a Eustache retrospective), a group of friends sit down and, with little prelude, listen to their friend (Michel Lonsdale) recite a story about when, as a young man, he discovered a peephole in the ladies toilet at a small cafe. He describes the etiquette surrounding this peephole for the resident perverts in the cafe, and relates how viewing female vaginas soon became his sole obsession, and, finally, how he overcame this obsession. His friends listen, discuss, and the movie ends.

At least, the scripted portion does. Then we see the same story, with nearly identical dialogue, related by Jean Noel-Picq, for real. This second monologue is actually a documentary filming: the first monologue was actually filmed second, with professional actors this time. Naturally, hearing the exact same story twice in a row takes much of the edge off. At first, it's a hilarious, oddly compelling story. The second time, we are subjected to it because, according to the introduction to the screening, Eustache wants to show that there's no such thing as objective truth. Fine...but that's not exactly a new idea. By the end of this little experiment, we feel as if we have seen an overly obvious point beaten into our heads. And a bit dazed from it all. A curious short, nonetheless (please, PLEASE attend a Eustache retrospective if you're lucky enough to get one in your town).

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