Reviews written by registered user
|13 reviews in total|
A heady mix of sex, violence, murder and police brutality, this film is apparently based on a real-life Brazilian crime case. The film is technically faulty, with fuzzy focus, washed colour, poor sound, and abrupt editing, however this adds to the voyeuristic sensation the viewer feels. The two teenage lovers are vulnerably youthful, and their nude sex scenes uninhibited and at times quite startling, for example when Toninho, shortly after first meeting Sandra, quickly strips naked and proceeds to fondle and force himself upon her. The violence is no less confronting, and parallel with the story of the two ill-fated lovers is the account of a police investigation into a series of murders which Sandra's estranged father, Galvao, is conducting. I don't wish to give any more of the story away, but for those who would enjoy a vivid and authentic look at the sordid underbelly of Rio's demi-monde, it would be hard to go past this disturbing study.
Life in a mountain village is changed forever when the courier who brings
the weekly movie to the local cinema, the centre of the close-knit
community's social life, is killed in a road accident.
The townsfolk, cut off from the wider world by the snows of winter, are unaware of the profound changes that are occurring. Communism is coming to an end in their country, but they are are completely unaware of the upheavals beyond the mountain ranges that encompass their tiny world. The local innkeeper discovers a pile of discarded film scraps in the cellar, and enlists a local teenage boy, who loves the cinema, to assemble "films" out of the disparate pieces. Slowly this boy, Ladu, played by Matej Matejka, who at the beginning of the film seemed just another callow youth among the characters, assumes the role of the main character in the plot, with very special talents that are just starting to become realised. The films that he creates, utilising such disparate elements as "La Grande Illusion", "La Bete Humaine" and the silent classics, "Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", "Die Nibelungen" and "Battleship Potemkin", cause a revolutionary reaction amongst the simple villagers that mirror in a small way the wider revolution that is going on, unbeknown to them, in the wider context. From here the plot elements become unpredictable and fascinating, as Ladu observes the unrest he has created. A fine film, well told, photographed and acted: highly recommended.
Ernst Marischka's film was one of the first Austrian features shot in
colour, and assembles some of the most renowned actors of the time. Last
seen in cinemas in 1957, the feature was presumed lost for almost 40 years,
until a misplaced negative was discovered at the Austrian Film Archives.
After electronic enhancement of the picture quality and soundtrack,
television viewers were able to see Opera Ball in all it's original visual
and musical splendour in 1998.
Opera Ball is a delightful throwback to the gaudy over-embellished European musicals of the era, lavishly costumed and produced, and bursting with favourite musical themes of former times. The story, concerning the supposed infidelities of three couples, is a little corny and old-hat, but the exuberance and attractiveness of the enthusiastic young cast, some funny moments from a handful of old timers, the lavish settings and lilting music, and above all the stunning Agfacolor photography (which puts most modern colour processes to shame) combine to create a most pleasant entertainment.
A film over two hours long set in a remote desert fort, with an all
male cast and no action, may seem a daunting prospect, however THE DESERT
THE TARTARS is a strikingly memorable experience. The characters are full
suppressed emotion and inner turmoil, the strange surrealistic fort a
metaphor of their spiritual imprisonment, and the huge expanse of
surrounding desert a tangent reminder, day by day, and year by year, of
their fears and lost aspirations.
Time passes imperceptibly, and our dashing young lieutenant, played by Jacques Perrin and surrounded by a stellar male cast, ages and weakens as the desert and the constraints of life in the fort strips away his physical strength and inner resolve. He yearns to free himself of the debilitating fort's influence, but finds himself transfixed by the mystical challenges of the landscape, and the perceived danger from the unseen enemy beyond.
The dust of the desert, the artificiality of the military life within the walls of the fort, the rituals and uniforms, the unspoken fears, the friendships and animosities between brother officers, the authority that seldom explains it's decisions, the half-recalled memories of a former life, and the ever present foreboding created by the shadows of the desert, shadows that sometimes give rise to visions of a lurking threat that may, or may not, be hidden in those shadows.
Exemplary colour widescreen photography is aided immeasurably by the haunting themes written by Ennio Moricone, and at the disquieting and ominous conclusion of the film, we are indeed completely mesmerized by an impressionistic, visionary spectacle that will haunt us for a long time after the final credits roll.
It's said that only the very best actors can compete with children and
animals, and to this should be listed bright-eyed, cute-as-a-button young
newcomers like Adrian Lester, who steals every scene he's in as an
idealistic young aide until a larger-than-life Kathy Bates steamrolls her
way onto the crowded scene.
This film, based on Clinton's 1990 campaign for the Democratic
Presidential nomination, is a fictionalized, not factual, view of the man
and his character and ideals, and quite simply one of the best films ever
made about the confusing maze that is American politics.
Just as the American media, spurred on by the Republican witch-hunters, rubbed our noses in the dirt surrounding Clinton's indiscretions, the movie doesn't spare Jack Stanton for his moral weaknesses and poor personal judgements, but makes the point that the dirt grubbing and trivializing media are equally immoral in seeking to denigrate a man's political ideals because of his sexual peccadillos. The media is one Enemy of Truth, but the real Enemy of the People, lurking, malevolent and unseen, in the murky shadows at the edges of this film, is the Republican Party, and it's interesting that it takes a British director to take such a decisive stand, as Hollywood has always been reticent to take sides in the Democrat/Republican debate. The point made here, from the testimony of the battle-scarred "true Believers", from the idealistic young party aides, from the would-be President's wife (an uncanny portrayal of Hillary by a dynamic Emma Thompson) and Stanton himself (although physically unlike Bill Clinton, John Travolta gives a very believable performance), is that the President needs to be a man of the people, to be able to understand the people, and to be able to communicate with the people, despite the lies of his opponents and the mud slinging of the media. If America doesn't always get the President it deserves, it's because these very qualities are often blocked by his political enemies and a sensation-seeking media, particularly the television networks. An uninformed Democracy is no Democracy at all, and it's a mark of the inherent strength of the American people and their political system that it has withstood these obstacles, despite the many mediocre Presidencies we have seen in our times.
TIME OUT's Readers Top One Hundred place The Third Man 15th, and the
filmmakers' Centenary poll only 49th, but for my money this must rank among
the handful of truly great, perfect films of all time.
A memorable script by Graham Greene, director Carol Reed at his best, inspired noir photography from Robert Krasker, and that famously irresistible zither music from Anton Karas added to what must be Orson Welles' most haunting role. Although he doesn't appear in person until fairly late in the film, his character, Harry Lime, pervades practically every scene. Joseph Cotten may appear an unusual choice to play the American Innocent Abroad, but he is ideal as the man from the New World who is completely out of place in the Old. And Alida Valli is also perfectly cast as the world weary refugee, stateless, obsessed and vulnerable. The film grips from the start, but builds up to an exciting and frenetic climax with the justly famous chase through Vienna's sewers. And that ending... Apparently Graham Green had proposed a happier ending, however the famous final long shot, with Cotton waiting at the side of the road, and Anna walking towards him down the cemetery road through its litter of fallen leaves... is an image that has kept with me ever since I first saw this, perhaps most favoured of favourite, film. A footnote: if you enjoyed this film, try to catch the film Reed made immediately prior to it, "The Fallen Idol".
This quirky story of a simple soul from an Alaskan mining town adrift in Chicago starts in a charming humorous way as Rocco finds himself cut off from his travelling companions and undertaking a series of increasingly bizarre and complex events which threaten and finally destroy his childlike friendliness and eternal optimism. He meets a variety of strange people, some sympathetic but mostly unfriendly, and the City itself, depicted as grinding down the lives of its inhabitants, is characterized by the harsh attitude of the policeman who patrols the rundown area that Rocco finds himself in. Marcello Mastroianni, always a reliable performer, interprets one of his best roles as Rocco, and there is a fascinating array of mainly unknowns depicting the varied group of defeated citydwellers he has of necessity thrown his lot in with. The ending is bleak and uncompromising. The transformation of Rocco Papalao is complete.
Screwball romantic comedies? Seen today, forgotten tomorrow... but not this one. Ewan McGregor is wonderful, and endearingly different, as the bumbling kidnapper, and nicely paired with Cameron Diaz. Just to add a touch of the nasties, the two demented angels give the whole thing a kick along whenever it starts to look a little too familiar. This movie is a lot of fun and, believe me, not just another screwball romantic comedy!!
It's difficult to add anything to the excellent lead review by Michael Coy. Some people liked this movie, however it's sad to see Hollywood employ it's resources on such a spurious project. One film critic (Penelope Gilliat) wrote, "A film best handled from a distance and with a pair of tongs", about a film which attempted to explain and support a misconceived American invasion of Vietnam. It turned out to be a tragedy for the American people, and an even greater tragedy for the Vietnamese. I urge viewers to look at this country through the eyes of its talented young film-makers, such as Son Xuan Nguyen's "Fairytale for Seventeen-year-olds" or Dang Nhat Minh's "Nostalgia for Countryland" and "The Return". When John Wayne leads the little Vietnamese orphan off into the sunset saying, "You're what this is all about", he never said a truer word, although perhaps not in the way he intended.
This modernized version remains surprisingly faithful to the basic storyline of Dickens' classic novel, but that's where the comparison ends. See David Lean's superb 1946 version if you want to see the best screen adaptation of any Dickens work, and see this movie for what it is, a beautifully realized and visually arresting film. The secret to approaching this version is contained right at the beginning of the film, where the older Finn, as narrator, informs us that the story is not to be told as it actually happened, but as it's remembered. Hence the unreal, surreal quality of the scenes in the crumbling mansion inhabited by Nora Dinsmoor and her niece Estella. Fortunately, the elaborate set designs of these earlier scenes are carried through to the later New York scenes, where a modern city is made to look a little artificial and unreal, exactly perhaps as a young artist would see it. Don't criticize Ethan Hawke for the somewhat passive performance he gives, as his character is essentially a spectator for most of the narrative, carried along by events largely out of his control. It's at the end of the film that you will notice his emerging confidence and action. The little girl who plays the young Estella makes a strong impression, and this is carried over into Gwyneth Paltrow's interpretation as the older, mysterious and changeable young woman. The only major criticism I would make of the film is the unnecessary and unconvincing "happy" ending that just doesn't ring true, and was mentally rejected by this viewer and probably most others.
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