Reviews written by registered user
ebbets-field

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14 reviews in total 
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Jekyll & Hyde, 21 June 2002
7/10

I usually love Woody Allen's films. When he concentrates on social commentary and satirizing the Hollywood industry, he's brilliant and laugh-out-loud funny. When he fixates on his own imagined babe-attracting persona, even self-deprecatingly, he's boring and self-deluded. In this movie, we get about 40% of the former, and 60% of the latter -- not a good enough ratio for a successful movie.

Please act your age, Woody, and develop a better film persona for yourself, or stay out of acting entirely. Your latest flicks (this one and Curse of the Jade Scorpion) come off as clueless self-satire. At this point in your long career, you have acquired some real skills and film wisdom -- please use then intelligently and stop making yourself the constant gratuitous focus of attention.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A warm and funny Czech slice-of-village-life movie., 1 June 2002
9/10

A classic Czech slice-of-village-life movie, with no less than a dozen well-delineated characters -- the innocent youth, the befuddled would-be philosopher, the village whore, the Michael Jackson wannabe, the salty grandma, the compulsive gambler, the young girl wise beyond her years, the eccentric videographer, etc.

It alternates between Rabelaisian bawdiness and wistful sympathy for people who, for the most part, are fated to narrowed prospects and uneventful lives. The ending and its message should be strong and clear for anyone with their wits about them -- life isn't simple, common sense prevails, and folks learn how to make the best of the hand that fate has dealt them. This warm and funny film about the human condition is a wonderful antidote for the formulaic crap that Hollywood persists in churning out year after year.

9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
World War 2 love story and psychological drama., 9 March 2002
10/10

A love story, wartime thriller, and social commentary set during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Artfully shot in black and white, and undergirded by a strong musical track, it explores the risks of sheltering a Jewish fugitive whose a life might be saved (or might not), but where the lives of many bystanders are thereby put in peril.

Fritz Lang's earlier US-made "Hangmen Also Die" dealt with the same historical event (the assassination of occupation head Gen. Heydrich), but his was a more kinetic and extroverted treatment compared to Weiss' more personal, introspective, and poetic view. In a sense, this is the Anne Frank story moved from Amsterdam to Prague.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A halting first step, 22 September 2001
6/10

This short work about Czech provincial life and amateur music-making foreshadows such great films as Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde and Fireman's Ball and Ivan Passer's Intimate Lighting, that came just a few years later, but it never quite comes together or catches flight.

Because I am fascinated by these two filmmakers, I found it to be of some interest, but it's unlikely that very many other viewers would find much to enjoy. The VHS tape I watched was blurry and lacked the mid-tange tonalities that give B&W films their visual appeal. Everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where Forman and Passer began learning their craft. But if all we had to go on was this minor effort, we would never have suspected the richness of their later work.

For hyper-dedicated Czech film buffs only.

4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Mostly clueless, 13 January 2001
3/10

The uncultured hacks that put this thing together had no feel or respect for the music they appropriated.

The one exception, and best segment, was actually quite good, if unoriginal -- Rhapsody in Blue illustrated in a Harry Hirschfield style.

But most of the pieces are lame, clueless, or even bizarrely inappropriate, such as the one that interprets Respighi's Pines of Rome (which was composed to depict very specific aspects of the city and its history) as a bunch of flying whales cavorting in the Antarctic.

Forget this sorry spectacle and go see or rent the original.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A good one, 3 January 2001
9/10

What a refreshing contrast to Anger's normal output -- this is short, to the point, simple, and under control. No pretentiousness, and competent technical qualities, for a change. It's not about anything of importance, just fetishism for the bodies of cars and of young men, but for once Anger masters his form and puts it to the service of his small idea. A mini-delight.

The City (1939/I)
13 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Classic Thirties Documentary, 3 January 2001
10/10

A classic piece of Depression-era advocacy for a better life through garden city planning. Much of the theory behind it is anti-urban and sentimental, but it's a wonderful period piece nonetheless. Some of the era's major talents were involved in this short. Ironically the most interesting and impressive footage shows the tough gritty urban life that these idealists wanted to do away with (probably shot in Pittsburgh.)

5 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Self-indulgent and undisciplined, 3 January 2001
4/10

I first encountered this work around 1967, in a period when I was seeing many underground films in New York and Los Angeles, some shown in progress by the makers themselves. It was a heady time, and my memory was of a richly textured, opulent work that was surely Anger's magnum opus up to that time.

Last week, more than 3 decades later, I saw it again and was amazed at how inept and self-indulgent it was. The only thing holding it together is the appropriated sound track, Leos Janacek's masterful Glagolitic Mass, a creation that is far older than the film but has retained its genius. The visuals (like all of Anger's work, this is a silent movie with music) are little more than a pretentious thrift-shop costume show aspiring to pageantry, with little detectable underlying meaning or cinematic form.

The notion of camp was not yet formulated in 1954, when IotPD was made, but the film inadvertently exemplifies the concept -- or was Anger really satirizing a self-conscious social circle along with a certain type of dilettantish cluelessness and muddled cinematic thinking when he made this? What a huge disappointment after mistakenly thinking so well of this movie for so many years!

13 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Monumental, 1 January 2001
10/10

A rich epic of the sweeping changes in values and material life brought on by the industrial revolution's rather late arrival in Poland. Praiseworthy in its physical scope, masterful direction, and fine acting. The recreation of a nearly-century-old city is impresive in its scale and thoroughness. On one level, this is socialist propaganda, but on another it has the ring of universal truth.

Deja-vu, 1 January 2001
8/10

The situation and plot of this movie have been lifted wholesale from John Sayles' "The Return of the Secaucus Seven", without credit or acknowledgement -- an interesting state of affairs for a work about the loss of youthful ideals. Sayles' film has the stamp of authenticity, while this one is, in comparison, Hollywoodized. It's not a bad flick, but pales in comparison to the original.


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