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7 reviews in total 
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25 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
A sadly overlooked gem, 3 July 2001

One can only be thankful that Disney did not get hold of Richard Hughes' novel. The saccharine sweetness would have made one gag. The only disappointment that I had with the film was that it did not follow the book. Otherwise, this was a superb film in its own right. Anthony Quinn proved that he could play other characters than Zorba, an often overlooked fact.

The children were so prim and Victorian "proper" that their conflict with the pirates. or privateers, as they preferred to call themselves, was at time hilarious. My favorite scenes were when the children, who were on the ship for months without any means of amusing themselves other than their own devices, spooked the crew with various innocent or mischievous plays, such as pretending to do a burial at sea, and turning around the head of the ships figurehead so that it faced backwards. The superstitious sailors were terrified by what was really childish mischievous fun.

When the ship put into Tampico, where the Captain hoped to leave them behined with the local Madame, played by Lila Kedrova who seemed to have taken acting lessons from Carmen Miranda, the children were spruced up and returned to their clean clothes and with their hair combed. As the crew member doing the grooming explained: "the Captain wants you to look your best for the ladies". "What ladies?" asked the children. Under his breath the seaman muttered "You'll find out." Of course, the local ladies were the ladies of ill repute in a Godforsaken part of the Carribean where anything goes and the law would never set foot.

The beauty of the film is that it rises above the mawkish semtimentally that it could have fallen into. The Captain, Chavez, takes to the young girl, Emily, who is as feisty as they come, and she and the other children take to him. A Victorian version of the Stockholm syndrome where the captives idenity with their captors.

The story is a tragedy, as the pirates who after all, were simply making a living in the only way they knew. It wasn't even a profitable living, just a traditional, but dying, occupation. Suddenly they were stuck with some ill-disciplined little English children travelling to England to be paced in English boarding schools and "civilised", and neither side really understood the other. It was the misunderstanding that caused the problems and led to the final tragedy.

I would recommend this film to people who like to think and ponder over what is right and what is wrong, and from what perspective do we view right and wrong.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Rocky Horror Show at Studio 54, 3 June 2001

Having loved Strictly Ballroom, I was looking forward to seeing this film. I could see what the director was trying to do: The Rocky Horror Show at Studio 54 as performed by Monty Python's Flying Circus, with scenes from "Oh What a Lovely War" and "Peter Pan" thrown in for good measure, but I found it a bit too much. The colors were too vivid, the editing nauseatingly fast, the sound system seemed to have blown a fuse, and the pathetic mewing of the two leads made me nostalgic for the great days of Howard Keel and Katherine Grayson. What ever happened to singing lessons or dubbing? The singing was too week and the songs too brief for me to recognize any of the songs. I kept wondering who had given Baz Luhrman all that money to make this film.

I like both Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, but I did get tired of seeing close ups of ghostly pale Nicole's smudged scarlet lipstick, and listening to her flat Australian twang. OK, I'm picky picky, but with the money she earns she could afford to take elocution and singing lessons.

The file had one truly superb scene for me: the violent Tango/Apache Dance which no low dive in Paris was ever without. It is many years since I saw one and this was excellent. The other dance scenes of the Can Can were far too brief but what little glimpse we had showed it as it likely was rather than the dressed up "tourist version". The choreography, costumes and set design were all that made this movie bearable for me.

49 out of 52 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant performance by one of the theater's greatest luminaries, 18 November 2000

Dame Edith Evans, one of the British theater's greatest actresses of the first half of the twentieth century, gives a brilliant performance as a lonely old lady existing in seedy rented rooms in a grimy industrial town while scraping by on National Assistance. This film should be shown to everyone on their first day of work, before they fill out their tax deferred pension withholdings. If ever there was a good lesson for putting something away for one's old age, it is this film. It is a horror story of "This is what's going to happen to you if you don't start putting something aside for your old age."

Mrs. Ross lives alone in poverty despite a family of sorts, a work-shy husband who deserted her and a son who only comes by to hide stolen loot while pretending to visit. Her rooms are a disorderly clutter of books, old newspapers, glass bottles and anything she doesn't want to throw away. Her endless days are filled with visits to the local library reading room, to keep warm; the local mission church; the police station, to complain about the neighbors; and the social security office, to beg for more public assistance; which is doled out a few shillings at a time.

To escape this grim reality Mrs. Ross builds a fantasy world not unlike Luis in "Kiss of the Spider Woman". She exists in her fantasy of a privileged upbringing as the daughter of a Bishop, living in a palace, and watching the white gloved dancers at a ball. She awaits the settling of her fantasy father's estate and the fortune from the family cattle business. When she finds stolen money hidden by her shiftless son during a quick visit, she believes that her ship has finally come home and her fantasies are reality. It is not long before the vulnerable old lady is "befriended" and robbed by a steely eyed con woman, and dumped in an alley near her home. Although the welfare people do all they can to get her back on her feet and her husband to take care of her, by the film's end she has come full circle and has resumed her daily routine and her fantasy world.

Dame Edith, who was the original "St. Joan" on stage in the 1920's, and for whom Shaw wrote "The Millionairess" is rarely off the screen and gives a faultless performance in what could otherwise be a very depressing film about poverty and loneliness. Where at first you sympathise with the old lady who has come down in the world and is now living in genteel poverty, you come to understand that she never went up in the first place, the only genteel world she ever inhabited was in her mind, and that is where she now resides.

As for an acting tour de force, just watching the way Dame Edith conveys the lowly origins of Mrs. Ross without words, as in the way she eats - out of tins - lifting large slices of bread to her mouth (where they fall apart) rather than cutting the slice to small manageable portions, licking her fingers, reading at the table - all the things considered to be bad manners. The way she conveys old tired poverty, by slipping off her shoes in the library to warm her feet on the hot pipes, is a lesson in technique that all aspiring actors should take note of. You know as you watch her slowly make her way down the cobbled streets carrying her large tote bag that this pathetic old lady is a prime target for a mugging, or a slip and fall. I would recommend this film to anyone who wants to study great acting and to those who are concerned with the plight of the elderly.

Black Robe (1991)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Magnificent!, 20 August 2000

I don't know why it took me so long to see this film, as I had heard of it many times. I think that I was put off by films like "The Last of the Mohicans", which I found dreary. There is no comparison with the oft-mentioned "Dances With Wolves". This film is an outstanding and riveting piece of work. Why others seem to have found it slow or heavy going is beyond me. When I reached the end (far too quickly) I just wanted to sit through it over again.

Having lived in Canada for some years, I could only marvel at the early colonizers who explored and settled Canada, a vast wilderness with a long, hard, bitterly cold winter - and I never went further north than Toronto! Whether or not one agrees with their reasons for going, whether it be trading, grabbing land or the salvation of the native population, the thought of being completely alone in the bitterly cold wilderness does command respect for their courage.

The film is set in 1634, a time when France was a cesspool of venality, corruption, intrigue and religious fanaticism, and when the pilgrims had been in Massachusetts for less than 10 years. The French Revolution was 150 years away. Life was hard for the settlers, who were on their own, without the survival kills evolved over thousands of years by the native population, whose life seemed brutally harsh but was a necessary adaptation to the land in which they lived. Early in the film the Algonquin chief tells his daughter than she cannot marry the Frenchman who she had fallen for, as he was a fool and did not know how to provide for her. That was the key. If a man could not provide for his family he could not take a wife. Anyone who became sick or injured must be left behind to take their chances, otherwise they would endanger the survival of the group. I think that this film makes that very clear. As the little group makes their way through Iriquois territory they are attacked by the Iriquois who plan to torture and sacrifice them, not apparently out of malice or wanton cruelty, but to please their God. (We had already seen the Jesuit priest flagellating himself for having impure thoughts).

The films deals at length with the misunderstanding of each other's religion and way of life, which causes us to question our own - just why do we do that? Why do the Iriquois fight the Algonquin, and the Huron when there is land to spare for all of them? Why did the French and English use the native people to fight their wars? The Indians cannot understand the Jesuit concept of paradise, sitting on a cloud all day with no tobacco, and no sex, but if accepting baptism helps them recover from a sickness , they will compromise. One gets the feeling that if the Jesuits moved out and another sect moved in, the Indians would convert to the new faith if it suited their purpose.

The scenery, as the party begins its long trek to the Huron mission is breathtaking. What they find when they reach the mission is not surprising, but once again, one has a feeling of admiration for the stoicism and faith of the Jesuit priests who knew that they were going to the ends of the earth and would likely never see their families again. To someone who buys all their food at the supermarket, or from the take out window, the thought of the self sufficiency of these people who live entirely on what they can catch or forage is quite mind boggling. Already the Indians are becoming dependent on the white man's goods. The trading post will not be long in coming. The Husdons Bay Company was set up by Royal charter about 30 years later.

I would recommend this film to anyone who likes a beautiful, thought provoking film.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Awful "Bodice Ripper", 6 August 2000

Why is it that any film about Cleopatra, the last phaoroh brings out the worst in movie making? Whatever attraction the woman had for the greatest Roman of them all, Julius Ceasar, and his successor, Mark Anthony, never seems to come across on the screen as other than the antics of over sexed high school seniors. Despite lavish sets and costumes, this movie is as bad as any Italian "sandals and toga" extravaganza of the 50's. Admittedly, this kind of spectacular belongs on the big screen, which is why "Gladiator" went over well, but "Gladiator" did not have all the romance novel sex.

Miss Varela has as little acting talent as Elizabeth Taylor, but Timothy Dalton has talent to spare. Pity some of it didn't wash off on the others.

7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
One sided "Woman as Victim" - made-for-TV style movie, 31 July 2000

This film was extremely one sided and belongs on the Lifetime movie channel which shows all the other "woman as victim" and "disease of the week" films which are usual titled "The XXX story" (Fill in the name). I really would like to have seen more balance. Rather than being an abusive thug, the husband came across to me as a very weak man torn between his allegiance to his country, culture and family and his foreign wife and daughter, and extremely frustrated by the pressures from his family and a whining snivelling wife who made little attempt to fit in. Betty seemed unable to comprehend that the assertive, pushy, go anywhere, independent western woman is very offensive to many cultures, and not just Islamic. Western women can seem very loud and vulgar in the eyes of many. Not only that, but a husband is responsible for his wife's behavior; thus, if Betty was offending people, they would pressure her husband to keep her in line. It is hardly surprising that he walloped her now and again. He seemed to vacillate between his American and his Iranian life, not being able to make his mind up once he was back with his family. The husband seemed to love his wife and not want to let her go, but he was not prepared to return to the US, which regarded him as "the enemy" because of his being Iranian. At time of Dr. Mahmoody's return to Iran there was a great deal of hostility toward Iran.

Unfortunately this film was used to portray Muslims in an unfavorable light. Iran was shown as a dreary poverty stricken nation with nothing working, but with barely a mention of trade embargos and that Iraq seized the chance to go to war against Iran. Although the Iranians are NOT Arabs, the entire film had an Arab bashing slant belonging to the Reagan era. Sally Field and Alfred Molina wasted their talents in this film.

Dark City (1998)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
If Orson Welles had made science fiction, he would have made this., 2 July 2000

If Orson Welles had been into science fiction fantasy he would have made a film like this. The whole look of the film evokes Welles style, as in a Touch of Evil - the shadows, the single spotlight. When I first caught this movie on TV I had a feeling that something was wrong. I quickly turned off the color and watched the film in black and white, which is how it should play. It is a stunning science fiction fantasy/thriller with elements of a 1940's film noir detective story. The dark streets of the city where the sun never shines, the lonely diners, the fedoras, checker cabs!

Even if the film did not have the murder/mystery plot, the stunning special effects alone are worth watching. Anyone who liked Blade Runner will love this movie.