Reviews written by registered user
|16 reviews in total|
I'm compelled to add my praise for this charming, touching, funny film. There's no teen or former teen who can't relate to the emotions this movie so brilliantly captures: feeling uncool, bullied, mad at your parents, wanting to break out, grateful for a loyal friend, achingly in love, wondering if you'll ever be kissed. Leo's blindness is a stand-in for any quality that, at that age, makes you feel like an outsider. The direction is deceptively simple, never calling attention to itself. Daniel Ribeiro found a gold mine in his lead actor, Ghilherme Lobo. His emotionally transparent performance is the heart and soul of the film. Tess Amorim also does fine work as Leo's best friend, making Giovanna's transitions from fondness to anger and back to loving friend completely believable. A marvelous film I'm sure I'll see again. I was pleased that the showing I saw tonight was sold out!
This is a must-see for any fan of 70s movies, or anyone who, like me, grew up in 70s and saw Cazale's films when they first opened. The walk down memory lane provided by the footage of the Godfather films, The Conversation, Dog Day Afternoon and Deer Hunter alone make it worthwhile. But the real treasure, of course, is the chance to revisit Cazale's performances. It sounds clichéd, but there really is no actor like him. It's also marvelous to see the host of the mega-talented actors and directors, including every luminary he worked with, participate & pay tribute to this singular talent. It's a shame there isn't more footage of him, and that he apparently never did a recorded interview. We only see Cazale through the lens of his characters - we never get to see him as just himself.
Altman's kaleidoscopic storytelling can yield a masterpiece like
Nashville, or the brilliantly raucous M*A*S*H. But what in those films
was inspired chaos is, in Gosford Park, just chaos. And all the King's
horses and all the King's men (to say nothing of the knights, ladies
and other A-list British actors who mostly comprise the sterling cast)
couldn't put Gosford together again.
The idea of creating one movie from several familiar English story lines no doubt seemed tasty to Altman and his collaborators Bob Balaban and Julian Fellowes. They set out to present a scathing examination of the upper class in that time-honored settinga shooting partyusing an Upstairs/Downstairs-style format, and encase it all in an Agatha Christie-esquire drawing room murder plot, with a John Cleese-y bumbling inspector thrown in for good measure. If this sounds like too much, it is. The movie is pulled in so many directions, it never gets anywhere. While some of the class satire is wickedly well done, the murder story is given perfunctory treatment. The subplots explaining why several none-too-suspicious suspects want the victim dead are so forgettable, and carelessly presented, you get the idea that Altman himself doesn't really care. The revelation of the real killer seems more an afterthought than a climax. And Stephen Fry's incongruous, idiotic investigator seems mistakenly edited in from another movie.
Trying to tell too many stories at once isn't the only problem afflicting Gosford Park. It also suffers from too many characters. While the many roles in Nashville were as deftly and distinctly drawn as Hirschfeld caricatures, Gosford is confusing in its superfluity of indistinguishable minor parts.
The frustrations noted are lightened by the many fine performances. Clive Owen, Eileen Atkins, Maggie Smith and Helen Mirren earn top honors, with honorable mentions to Kristen Scott Thomas, Jeremy Northram, Michael Gambon, Ryan Phillippe, Emily Watkins and Richard E. Grant. Alan Bates and Derek Jacobi are also on hand to ensure that Gosford Park offers the most spectacular cast assembled since Murder on the Orient Express.
All in all, not unenjoyable, but a very mixed bag.
Oklahoma was never my favorite musical. By the time I was aware of it,
Oklahoma & all of the Rodgers & Hammerstein canon seemed dated,
superseded by the darker, more modern Sondheim musicals.
But Trevor Nunn's re-imagining of this American classic makes it so fresh & vibrant, it could've opened yesterday. What seemed sappy in the 50s film version now seems innocent, charming, believable-thanks to Nunn's keener dramatic vision & an exceptional cast.
Hugh Jackman reinvents the swaggering male musical lead with an irresistible magnetism and ability to infuse a song with emotional realness. When he sings O What a Beautiful Morning, it seems totally spontaneous-a young man singing from the depth of his soul his love of life & everything in it-and we feel this song we've heard for decades is being sung for the first time.
The decision to play Laurey (Josefina Gabrielle) as a shy tomboy in overalls, in contrast to the assertive, gingham-clad lasses we've seen in the past, is a wonderfully right one. The attraction between the lovely, thoughtful young girl and the radiantly confident Curly is palpable, and their different temperaments make the parries & shifts of their courtship utterly believable.
Gabrielle is an impressive triple threat-a trained ballerina who is also a good actress and a fine singer. Nunn no doubt wanted an accomplished all-round performer to play Laurey so that the Act I ballet could be danced by the same performers who act and sing the parts-not, as is usually done, by dancing alter egos. That alone makes this famously integrated show that much more integrated, and dramatically satisfying.
As Aunt Eller, Maureen Lipman is tough, wry, funny, touching, wise -hers is the most captivating performance of Eller one can imagine. She is perfect.
Like Laurey, the portrayal of Jud has been rethought. He is still brutal, but you feel the wretchedness, the yearning for acceptance, behind the brutality. Shuler Hensley realizes this brilliantly.
He is one of only 2 Americans contributing to this quintessentially American musical (though all American accents are impeccable, and it's refreshing that the script's phony country pronunciations have been pared down to an unnoticeable level). The other is the choreographer Susan Strohman, whose work here is joyous, spectacularly inventive, and (as in the case of the Act II opener The Farmer & The Cowman) electrifying. The dancing, & there's lots of it, conveys the galvanic energy of these very physical frontier folk. It's thrilling to watch the cast's highly skilled dancers doing numbers that build and build to an explosive rapture that makes you wish you could only be up there with them.
Strohman, with Nunn and their talented, almost exclusively English team, offer us what must be the finest production of Oklahoma ever staged. How fortunate our cousins across the Atlantic have cast a different light on this national treasure, and revealed new splendors it contains!
To give that piece of obscenity the distinction of being the first post
we all see shows either a serious lack of judgment by the site
administrators or a revolting tolerance for homophobia. Would they have
done the same if the poster said that dead jews deserved what they got
because they don't read the new testament? That blacks 'are completely
dedicated to evil deeds'? Then why is it alright to post these messages
about gays? DO YOU 'ADMINISTRATORS' READ THESE POSTS? WHY ARE YOU
PUBLISHING HATE MAIL?
The poster's hatred is only outweighed by his ignorance. He says Hanks' character 'should've been ostracized' because AIDS 'is very contagious.' Sure-it the poster enjoys having unprotected sex or sharing needles with AIDS victims.
If promoting hatred & cruelty is what he gets from the Bible, who's the one dedicated to evil deeds?
This film, amazingly, lacks the extraordinary drama of the people &
period it deals with. A fair amount of the fault lies in the script.
We're meant to sympathize with Nicholas & Alexandra as a devoted couple
and parents. But they were also intractable tyrants whose blindness &
ineptitude played a large part in their terrible fate. The screenplay
doesn't bother to go into that more complex, truthful aspect.
It's hard to understand why screenwriter James Goldman chose to fabricate parts of the story, such as inventing a suicide attempt by Alexis and presenting Rasputin's murder as a "homosexual thrill killing" (the insulting phrase used to describe the Leopold-Loeb case) perpetrated by giggling decadent aristocrats. Isn't the true story dramatic enough as it is?
But the bulk of the film's failure rests with the uninspired performances of the stars. They are showcases of the worst tradition of British acting: 'demonstrating' passions that plainly aren't felt. Their emotions aren't believable. There's no psychological delving into characters that, for more talented actors, would be a feast.
The fact that a couple of English acting greats (Olivier & Redgrave) swan briefly through this film as they were wont to do in so many 60s & 70s period epics doesn't help. Only Tom Baker & Irene Worth give notable performances in supporting roles.
All in all, N&A is a wasted opportunity. The story is as close to Greek tragedy as anything in modern history. A better written & better cast film would've been unforgettable.
It's refreshing to see a new take on a familiar work. But when the original
is a legend, the new interpretation often seems wanting. So it is with this
`Lion in Winter.' You want it to succeed, but
you hear the actors speak
their lines, & ache for the brilliant readings of the earlier film. You
respect capable actors like Close & Stewart, but yearn for the inspired
pyrotechnics of Hepburn and O'Toole. All actors admirably give performances
quite distinct from those of the '68 film-but only Jonathan Rhys-Meyers
gives one at least as impressive as his earlier counterpart. His spoiled,
manipulative, bisexual man-boy is a fascinating Philip.
This `Lion in Winter' is enjoyable, but pales in inevitable comparison to the first version. If nothing else, it will make you treasure its superb predecessor all the more.
Many ooze about Brando, but Vivien Leigh's performance, in a much more
difficult role, is extraordinary. It is, without hyperbole, one of the
finest on film. Pauline Kael hailed Leigh's Blanch as one of the few
performances that actually does evoke pity and terror.
It's sad and ironic that this inspired work should come from an actress now routinely dismissed as lovely but second-rate. She frequently appeared on stage in the great classical roles with Olivier, against whom she no doubt suffered by comparison. Pans of her performances in the same reviews that raved about her husband were frequent and contributed to her mental illness. Also, her circle of friends, the royalty of the British stage, looked down on Hollywood -- one arena where she was revered -- as vulgar and trivial, again undercutting her confidence.
Unfortunately, when you look at the full scope of her work, she was not in fact of the caliber of the Oliviers, Gielguds and Richardsons with whom she often acted. However, nothing can take away from her spectacular achievement as Blanch. It is transcendent.
I suppose all gay men must have a reaction to BITB one way or another.
It must be respected for being incredibly daring when it came out: the
first play to focus exclusively on gay characters and show us as
average men with basically normal lives. (As late as the 60s few plays,
& far fewer films, even acknowledged gays existed; those that did used
gays as symbols of abasement or decadence. 'Different from the
Others'-1919 and 'Victim'-1961 were isolated exceptions.) The sexually
frank dialog was also a groundbreaker. A gay friend who saw the
original stage production remembers being astonished by Harold's line,
'Your lips are turning blue. You look like you've been rimming a
snowman!' Crowley wins laurels for being the first playwright to
present our community without apology.
That said, I admit I found the film dated when I first saw it in the 80s, when I was in my 20s. Watching it now, I have a different reaction. For one thing, I adore the brilliant dialog. What an inspiration to write a comedy of manners set in the archly mannered world of New York gays! There hasn't been a screenplay with this many epigrams per inch since 'All About Eve.'
The first act is funny and marvelous. The second act teeters into melodrama, stealing the device of all-night boozing and humiliating party games to 'strip characters bare' from 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' Michael, the host and game emcee, is such a bitch that we can't feel sympathy when Harold confronts and effectively destroys him. Kenneth Nelson's performance as Michael doesn't help: it's like an acting class exercise, all shrieking and hysterics.
While the ensemble as a whole is strong, Leonard Frey's brilliant, definitive Harold enables him to walk off with the film. The straight Cliff Gorman does fine work as the flaming, ultimately touching Emory; Keith Prentice is very good as the one well-adjusted party goer, the happy sensualist Larry; and Reuben Greene and Frederick Combs make the best of underwritten characters (Combs get lots of chances to show his rear end to great advantage, including a gratuitous nude shot).
Besides good acting, the film has other points to recommend it. The film's 'opening up' of the play is never intrusive or contrived. Friedkin's camera never seems trapped, though almost the entire picture is shot in one apartment, and he keeps the story moving swiftly along. And Crowley shows courage in leaving the question of Alan's sexuality somewhat ambiguous, despite his affirming his wife as the person he truly loves, thereby rejecting Michael as a gay man and precipitating his collapse.
The themes of love, truth, self-loathing, friendship and relationships speak to audiences gay & straight. They are dealt with in a well made film and a script crafted with wit and humor. While the 'if we could just not hate ourselves so much' viewpoint does date the movie, it has more skill and substance than 75% of the films on the market-and (I agree with other posters) 99% of the 'gay' films out there now.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The performances by Marcia Gay Harden & Laura Linney were incredible. I've always found Harden to be an intense and intelligent actress, but cold. She never touched my heart. But she reached me in this movie, powerfully. I felt every moment of Celeste's confusion, dread & guilt. Her desperate search in the parade audience at the end, and the tortured look she gives the smug Linney, standing there smiling with her children & the husband who destroyed Celeste's life, were as moving and appalling as anything in the film.
Linney is equally fine. She has a fraction of the on-screen time as Harden, but she makes the last ten minutes of the film astonishing. In that brief time, she becomes an archetype, the Gorgon Guarding Her Home. Her speech to the troubled Jimmy, assuring him that his murder of the innocent Dave was a noble act, is remarkable. She is worse than the evildoer, who feels guilt for his crime: she makes his evil acceptable, in fact honorable. She soothes and convinces him in primal fashion, through sex and his belief in himself as a man. And when, at the end, Celeste looks at her in anguish, her responding look says, `Yes, my husband did destroy your family, to do what he had to do as a man & father. Yes, I know the agony this has caused you. And I have no sympathy.' She is amorality incarnate.
Linney's speech, & the look she & Harden exchange, are key to the conclusion of the story. Evil hatches more evil. There is no justice, only suffering. In conveying this message, the plotline for the women is as significant as that for the men. And we're fortunate to see it so effectively served by such superior actresses.
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