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The Tempest (2010)
a terrible film
I saw The Tempest (2010 ) at the Berlin International Film Festival. It was a terrible film.
Julie Taymor is not a very proficient film director, of course she has talent to make a few segments stunningly beautiful, as if in a play or a theatrical performance, but the severity of William Shakespeare's play is lost in a muddled and fabricated palette of inconsistently stupid and vapid CGI. William Shakespeare does not need elaborate and idiotic fake graphics to tell his stories. His words are as powerful as when they were written.
Sstick with the superb Ran (1985) by Akira Kurosawa. It sill holds up after all these years.
Watching this was a chore. It is, for the entire length of the film, nothing but anti-German Propaganda. The Teutonic Knights are played by steel eyed doofuses. The battle scenes are terrible; repetitive editing, horse riders jumping off horses for no reason, and no one is ever hit by a weapon it seems. Plus, there's not enough extras to fill in the gaps for the battle so it looks like a small fight between inept idiots.
The Polish are played by good natured nobles and there's an annoying quote to "god" about every 20 seconds. I can't recommend this since it's so tepid and dull.
Zaman, l'homme des roseaux (2003)
Zaman The Man
Zaman The Man from the Reeds starts off as a sort of 70's French documentary that almost looks like some dystopian sci-fi, indeed, it almost does foreshadow that the Reed people will be eradicated from Iraqi.
Later it ventures into pure naturalism. It involves a very simple man, Zaman, who lives his life as his ancestors have done for centuries. He has adopted a young boy whose parents were killed. Zaman prays each day, accepting his fate without critique. He learns that his wife is very sick and he must get her some medicine. In order to do so, he rows up the river in a simple canoe towards bigger cities. He finds new places and adventures, finally he must go to Baghdad. Baghdad seems like a very chaotic place, as the cars make a mess of everything and pollute the air, nearly run over people and make drivers hostile. Zaman gets around as best as he can. He finds a hospital but corrupt bureaucratic management prevents him from getting the medicine. A kind woman helps him.
Zaman The Man from the Reeds actually proved to be an enjoyable film. Not only is the setting very beautiful but the humanism of simple people can be powerful. If anything, the religious overtones aren't too strong or rigid. The acting is natural and the oncoming war of conquest by USA can be hinted at.
Born of Fire (1987)
Born of Fire
Born of Fire (1983) is pushed as being an "Islamic horror movie" but it has nothing to do with horror. Far from it, it's more of an opaque, religious/surrealist art film. What it is, is a metaphorical journey that examines the duality of good and evil in man.
A Flautist (Peter Firth) is having dreams of the end of the earth, he meets up with a bewildering astronomer (Suzan Crowley) who predicts the eruption of fire that will destroy the earth.
The locations in Turkey resemble some far away planet, complete with odd caves and strange mountains formed by wind and water. There's not much dialog, which helps tremendously in the amorphous and obscure details.
The Master Musician fills in as a tempter or crudely, a "devil", who lives in a fire cave underground. Nabil Shaban as The Silent One is an interesting character, as he is deformed but kind at heart.
The scenes have a strange artistic merit, especially to note is a skull transposed over a bleak moon. The film is along the lines of Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Holy Mountain (1973), El topo (1970)), Andrzej Zulawski (Na srebrnym globie (1988) On the Silver Globe (USA)) and Federico Fellini (Satyricon (1969)).
I didn't like the quotes from the Koran towards the end, as they diminish the enigmatical nature and reduce the ending to religious determinism. Other than that this is a unique and beautiful film.
Incense for the Damned (1970)
was pleasantly surprised
Incense for the Damned (1970) or Blood Suckers (USA), is one of those odd English horror films you find at some rare store. Judging from the extremely bad reviews, I wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised.
After a dreadful acid orgy with unpleasant "Zoom ins", I began to think that this film was not going to be typical. It's truly not very good but I found it unique in some ways and it rises above average barely. There were some really wonderful topless women complete with beautiful aureoles, including the main seductress, Imogen Hassall as Chriseis, who is pretty hot. The acting is passable, but the editing and fight scenes are hilarious since they are the old type, 4 on 1 guys who never get pounded or killed off. Patrick Macnee as Derek Longbow adds some class along with Peter Cushing, Edward Woodward.
Basically the lack of information regarding the vague seductress makes the film interesting and ambiguous. We are never sure as to what is going on. There's plenty of anti-establishment sentiments that make it seem like the elite academia (led by Peter Cushing as Dr. Walter Goodrich) are actually the "Blood Suckers".
La isla de los hombres solos (1974)
Island of Lost Souls Lost
Island of Lost Souls (1974) is a Mexican Exploitation film following, not very successfully I might add, in the footsteps of the superb, Papillon (1973). Basically it is a poor man's version of an island convict escape attempt but there's really no big escape to set the piece up.
It's composed of vignettes and forced labor scenes and a beginning story that is blatantly absurd.
René Cardona Sr, who was an in-house Mexican Director, along with his son, did the film. Together they produced, directed and distributed numerous low-budget Exploitation films that weren't very good but are noted for having burnt out Hollywood actors and exotic themes (Guyana: Crime of the Century (1979), Carlos the Terrorist (1979), Cyclone (1978), The Bermuda Triangle (1978), ¡Tintorera! Tiger Shark (1977)).
It's padded by mundane scenes, that are most of the time, boring and don't add any drama. A hilarious escape scene includes a convict trying to make a swim for it against the wave current with a dead Pelican hat in full view of the guards. He's blown to bits by a fused dynamite (how it stayed lit in water we never know).
What's lacking is any concern for the main character, who is an annoying 40 year old "young man" who was wronged by a lascivious land owner. He disappears for most of the film and it takes a turn for the bizarre when the General goes mad and declares the prison a "free republic" but threatens to cut off the gonads of anyone attempting an escape. He faces a modern 1960's ship (notice radar) with an 1865 cannon in another unintentional comic scene. Guess who wins?
It's based on a novel, the author, whom I surmise was stuck on "Devil's Island" -- Islas Marías Federal Prison (Built in 1905), Islas Marías (an archipelago of four islands that belong to Mexico).
In all, there's not much here but see it if you have to at least for the laughable scenes and tinted color of the film stock.
Bab el hadid (1958)
Central Central Station
Youssef Chahine's Cairo: Central Station is a refreshing blend of hidden sexual tension, film-noir and neo-realism from the 1950's. Sexual motifs pop up regularly, including the playful jest of soda bottles and steaming train whistles. Surprisingly, it is free of censorship and restraint for its day, being an Egyptian film. There's even a hint of breasts seen through the wet blouse of a leading lady.
I truly enjoyed the mixture of labor politics and existential crisis for the cripple newspaper vendor (played by the director himself), who craves a beautiful soda selling con-girl, who is an exact mixture of Brigitte Bardot (French actress) and Maria Schneider (Last Tango in Paris). The acting is superb considering most of the people are street performers.
Highly recommended if you can see it at a film festival.
interesting Tibetan film
Milarepa (2006) is an interesting Tibetan film chronicling segments from the life of a Tibetan yogi, Thopaga / Milarepa, who lived in the 11th century in western Tibet, who was born into a wealthy family but on the death of his father, was robbed of his inheritance by his father's greedy family. His mother complains about suffering throughout the film but to the viewer, she really doesn't have it that bad, it seems like she only longs for more wealth. Hence the universal themes of vengeance and yearning dictate her motives and disposition. She influences her son Thopaga / Milarepa to study sorcery to inflict revenge on his father's greedy family, leaving his female companion, who is quite beautiful.
The first half of the film is quite good and simple in nature, familiar conflicts play a vital theme. The landscape is absolutely stunning and the low key, natural realism of the actors is very momentous.
The film loses some of its impetus when it delves into silly Computer-generated imagery during the sorcery scenes. These could have been left out altogether, and insinuations, inferences, and basic camera tricks would have sufficed much better to keep it resembling an elementary human drama. The silly Computer-generated imagery knocks the sorcery scenes down to a "sword and sorcery" Hollywood look-alike.
I enjoyed it though and it was capable if you are intrigued by foreign films. In all, it is an above average film that imparts a universal common, human leitmotif, that is of human meaning and human predicaments.
Labyrinth is an animation film which boasts wonderful collage illustrations. It is about a man with wings flying through modern cities from the early 1900's, avant-garde surrealism is evident in the cutout pictures. Strange faces and creatures pop up and disappear. It is interesting from both a historical and artistic standpoint.
It is rich with metaphor and critical of the totalitarian state. The images are an odd assortment, mainly emerging from what seems like old ads from the 1890's so it makes it quite unique.
As a time capsule it encompasses what is lacking in American animation, namely the tie to surrealism.
Il nido del ragno (1988)
surprisingly refreshing Supernatural horror film
I picked this up at the rare video store on VHS since it seems it's not very well known or even on DVD.
It's a surprisingly refreshing Supernatural horror film with elements of the 'Giallo' mixed in. Well directed, even creepy at times it is very interesting.
The plot deals with a professor who uncovers a sinister plot. Filled with good camera-work, colorful elaborate lighting and scenes in old city centers of Europe, it is enticing for the horror fan.
If you liked this, I'd recommend: Zeder (1983)(aka "Zeder - Voices from Beyond" or "Revenge of the Dead"), The House of the Laughing Windows (1976), Suspiria (1977) and One Dark Night (1983).