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Absolute Beginners (1986)
The best modern musical
I simply don't know of any better modern musical. Stunningly creative and an absolute starburst of colors and sounds. Amazing sets that are both "real" and fantastical at the same time. Plus, there's a huge number of them, so it must have cost a fortune. Ray Davies' singing in a house built like a dollhouse is a knockout scene--totally creative and unusual and is often the scene which is considered the high point of the film. David Bowie is fabulous, as is Anita Morris, although her role is way too brief. The movie is from 1986 but it seems absolutely fresh today. A totally wonderful romp and a positive message, in addition. Highest recommendation! Please let's have more winners like this one.
Desert Hearts (1985)
Possibly the best lezzie film
This is possibly the best lezzie film made thus far. It has enough production values to be attractive, yet does not have the big Hollywood machinery that grinds everything into pablum. It's also not a sex film, but it is a fine indie effort. Both Shaver and Charbonneau are highly appealing.
Excellent atmosphere of punk-music era
This film has been described as a "punk-music documentary," which is most certainly is not, as clearly explained in the "Making of" featurette contained on the DVD. It is an art house film written by Jarman to take the p*** out of the Queen, who was then very pompously celebrating her 25th jubilee. Since the punks were of the same inclination, he used a punk-scene setting as his way of making his point. There is actually not much live-music performance in the film at all. Toyah Willcox gets to play the lead, but she does not sing. She acts very well, but even though her character is odious. Jenny Runacre, in my mind, makes the best contribution to the film, because she is elegant, beautiful, and shows off her naked form attractively. Apart from Adam Ant, no major punk-music acts have any significant role in the film.
La chiave (1983)
Good film, bad DVD transfer
As usual with Brass, this is a very classy sex film, with Hollywood-class production values. (This, I might add, is a rare exception, not the rule, among other sex-film makers. Radley Metzger is the only other director I can think of offhand whose sex films invariably have great production values.). Stefania Sandrelli is an absolutely stunning woman, with a gorgeously filled-out body, unlike the skinny-jinnies that many other directors are fond of. The film is set in Venice in 1940 and the locales are beautiful, while at the same time focusing on a "native's Venice," rather than the few over-photographed canals and churches one generally sees.
But the people who did the U.S. version DVD are incompetents, unfortunately. This is only the second DVD that I have watched where the brightness/contrast were so badly mangled in making the transfer that the film is unwatchable until one moves his controls way off their ISF-calibrated positions. To be precise, it is the second-worst. The worst has been the total butchering of Antonioni's "La Notte", where even moving the controls to their limit cannot produce a decent picture.
J'ai pas sommeil (1994)
Extended focus on nasty characters
Not a pretty picture. Glamorizes a gay black thug and his white accomplice. Pointless overall, although Yekaterina Golubeva is quite pretty and Line Renaud is a very charming grandmother-type. The few sparks produced these by two are just way outnumbered by the nasty stuff. Denis' fame does not make this into a good movie.
To Be or Not to Be (1942)
So it was hot in 1942, but it's not 1942 anymore
Cheaply made, unconvincing story of assorted characters pretending to be somebody else in wartime Poland. Supposed to be a comedy, but very few chuckles. Weak script does not help. It was Carole Lombard's last film, but she appeared in much more entertaining vehicles. Plus, in this one, her good looks had rather faded.
Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922)
Overrated and insufferably tedious
This is basically a German takeoff on a Sherlock Holmes story. Now, if told in a competent way, Sherlock Holmes-inspired tales can be entertaining, even if of secondary heritage. But this abomination is FOUR HOURS LONG! Every shot and every scene is presented in excruciating slow motion. In addition, all of the themes are telegraphed so ineptly that generally you don't need the scene at all, because you already know exactly what will take place before it starts.
Except for hardcore students of German cinema, who are known to love this film, this is unbearably EXCRUCIATING to all of us that are not in a German film class. I'd rather be at the dentist, especially since my dentist, unlike Dr. Mabuse, is a nice guy.
Yes, the exterior street scenes are often very good German Expressionist set creations, but this turgid piece of molasses is not worth seeing just to see a few artistic sets.
Pickup on 101 (1972)
A simple, but good movie with knockout Lesley
The movie is certainly not deep, but it has charm and has weathered much better than some other films of the hippy era. Lesley Ann Warren is luminous, sexy and a luscious knockout. Definitely one of her more appealing roles.
Mulholland Dr. (2001)
Reference for complete review
The Perfect Vision magazine has (at least, currently) available on its web site a full review of Mulholland Drive. To my knowledge, their reviewer is the only magazine reviewer who appreciated the movie, UNDERSTOOD IT, and explained it in detail. Please read it at: http://www.avguide.com/film_music/film/reviews/david_lynch.jsp
A depressing film about negative, creepy losers
Pathetic losers abound. Even Marianne Faithfull, whom I expected to be classy, gets to play a frumpy character not too different from a bag lady. The males are all notably unattractive, while none of the female characters is developed enough to care about. Kerry Fox is reasonably attractive, though. Lots of sex scenes; totally unerotic, they seem to suggest that people should have sex because they dislike each other or have no use for each other.