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Dein unbekannter Bruder (1982)
Some style; little substance
I wouldn't pan this quite as much as gunnarvl, but he's right about the plot, which is insubstantial to a ridiculous degree. There's a bit of suspense, and occasional connections from one scene to another, but mostly it's scenes ,dialog, and characters that never develop much individually or collectively.
The only things that kept me watching to the end were the anticipation of some improvement in the plot (didn't happen), and the realistic settings. I wondered where they were able to film what seemed to be 1930's era buildings and streets; I see now it was made in East Germany before 1982. Probably wasn't hard to find places that hadn't changed much since the 30s.
I usually like movies that are subtle or ambiguous, or both, but this one carried those characteristics so far I was longing for a chase, a shootout, some sex, anything.
Hitchcock or somebody said films are life without the boring bits. This movie was life without the exciting bits.
Visionary movie-making. I will not write any spoiler, so I can't describe the brilliant way Cox expresses his story with some mind-bending visual and verbal devices. Some might dismiss it as trickery, but I think of it as magical realism.
William Walker was a real person and his "liberation" of Nicaragua did take place, roughly as shown in this movie. Cox and Wurlitzer took some major liberties with historic details- perhaps for narrative pace, budget reasons, or whatever. I read quite a lot about Walker and Nicaragua after seeing this movie and there's no distortion for ideological reasons.
If you value originality, subtlety, honesty and an occasional slap in the face, see this movie. I envy first-time viewers.
I'd rate this below Young Frankenstein, but above any other Gene Wilder comedy.
The cast is terrific, especially GW, Madeline Kahn, Dom DeLuise and Leo McKern. Also, Marty Wilder has many good bits, and Roy Kinnear and John LeMeseuier add a lot.
The costumes, settings and musical styles are all done quite well.
But the main thing is laughs. Ther are plenty: the quick little quip, or malaprop, the long build-up joke, the unexpected twist gag, sight gags, satire. Some don't work too well but the overall percentage is very high.
Don't miss it if you can!
Sons of the Desert (1933)
I'd give it an 11
Almost perfect! The finish isn't up to the rest of the movie, but the absolutely hilarious beginning and middle make it one of the funniest movies ever.
Here are Stan and Ollie at their peak. Many of their trademark gags and takes appear, easily woven into the story, perfectly timed and crafted with comic panache.
The plot- henpecked husbands sneaking off for revelry- is now rather obsolete, but that doesn't diminish the clever narrative movement. Putting Charley Chase into a small role enhanced it, and the wives were very well played.
I don't rate many movies a 10, but one that gives pleasure over and over and over deserves it.
Uneven, but still a winner.
One could find fault with elements of this movie, particularly pacing and continuity; but the laughs and the ambiguous, fascinating characters make it great fun.
Until the very end, we're never sure if anybody is who they seem to be. The quest for loot is fascinating, because it's not for a fortune, just a nice chunk of change that when split probably wouldn't amount to a year's wages at an average job. So the interest focuses on the people, their semi-silly adventure, and their uncertain relationships.
One reviewer didn't like it because it wasn't tightly plotted, and he's right-- it's more realistic/absurd than that. Same reviewer also didn't find it funny, which is dead wrong. Some of the comic bits are a little shaggy dog, or sometimes crude, but most people should get a lot of laughs from it.
Great cast, great acting, good enough dialog and "plot" add up to an under-appreciated (and, I suppose,under-seen) little gem.
Soldaat van Oranje (1977)
Noble and exciting
I have enjoyed seeing this movie more than twice because:
It's true. It includes humor and absurdity along with fighting the good fight. It doesn't flinch from the ugly. Great music. Fine acting. Well crafted in creating the historic atmosphere. Dense with character. Entertaining pace.
The first time I saw it I was a little bothered by the way it seemed to just "walk along" -then he did this then they did that then this happened- like a diary. But I later came to like that style, maybe because war, like life, is "just one damned thing after another".
I'd love to read the memoir it's based on, but the last time I looked it hadn't been translated into English.
I wonder if Verhoeven ever looks back and wishes he could have/would have made more like this instead of Showgirls, Robocop, and such.
Les diaboliques (1955)
It does what a horror movie should do
Scare the crap out of you!
I don't hand out many 10s. Some movies don't really require much thought or analysis. In the end all that matters is what happened to you when you first saw it.
I remember when I first saw this. Nothing scary at first, but the nastiness of the place and the people is effortlessly shown. And then the bad stuff starts to happen.
I remember, though it must have been forty years ago, the climactic scenes with my neck hairs standing up, sweat on my face, clutching the theater armrests like I was in danger of falling, and finally realizing I was weeping- not tears of sadness, tears of helpless terror.
I envy anyone seeing this for the first time.
The Shining (1980)
Good movie/bad script
Can't imagine why Kubrick picked Diane Johnson to write this. She butchered one of King's nastiest tales. I understand that Kubrick always collaborates on scripts, so I can only guess who gets blamed for what.
Spoilers: The scariest scene in the book is when Jack goes to the "forbidden" room where Danny may have been attacked. He sees a few drops of water in the tub, smells something like body powder, feels uncomfortable, but concludes there's nothing amiss in the room. On the way out, passing the bathroom door he sees the shower curtain closed; he thought he left it open. Is there a shadow behind the curtain? No Jack, don't let your imagination carry you away. He turns to leave-- and hears the sound of shower curtain rings sliding on the rod. Eeeeeyi!
In the movie, a distorted version that substitutes explicit gruesomeness for the excruciating auditory shock.
Another classic scene in the book is the menacing of Danny by the topiary animals near a playground. Totally left out of the movie. (A made for TV version of The Shining was pretty poor but this scene was included and was very scary).
Another great scene from the book that was left out involved Jack trying to get a Snow Cat running to go for help when Wendy and he realize that real danger exists in the hotel (this is when he's still somewhat sane). It was all interior monologue, so hard to script and film, but an actor of Nicholson's caliber could have done it. In the book, it poignantly expressed the conflicts in Jack that destroyed him and almost destroyed his wife and child.
There quite a few other things about the script that I thought were wrong, while allowing for the necessary compression of a long book into a movie
Kubrick never made a bad movie; his craftsmanship partly compensated for the lousy script, but this could have been so much better.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
From a great writer and a great filmmaker comes a tale incredible sobering and fascinating.
It may not have been the first sci-fi movie without ray guns monsters or dauntless heroes, but it's combination of meticulous realism, stunning beauty, and cold cosmic viewpoint (with just enough human sympathy at the end) make it as historically significant as Birth of a Nation or Citizen Kane.
The brutal vastness of pre-human earth; the brilliant selection of music; the rigorous depiction of astronautics as bureaucratic and astronauts as smart drones; the range of emotions flickering on Keir Dullea's stony face; the death of (a) man and the birth of the star-child.
Could HAL stand for GOD, the not completely intelligent designer?
Beat the Devil (1953)
There are faults in this movie, but it's well worth watching just for the fine cast and often great dialogue. The villains are hilarious and also scary. Jennifer Jones and her husband are priceless.
The penultimate scene when the motley group is being interrogated and appraised by a petty official in Africa have great ensemble acting.
I haven't read the novel, but I suspect Houston and Capote used it as a point of departure and maybe never quite got on the same page, resulting in a somewhat awkward pace.
But the save is in the characters and their voices. My favorite: Peter Lorre, in a defensive tone of voice when someone questions his identity--" There's lots of Germans from Chile named O'Hara"