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Black Swan (2010)
..it's only a movie that makes you think..
I truly don't understand why some of the reviewers hate this film so ! You never know if you are going to enjoy a movie - however weird or boring - it is 'til you've seen it. I fully intended to buy this title, to start replacing thousands of titles I gave-away or threw-out....wish I still had them all......
Although the sex-scenes in this film truly shocked me, it wasn't the first time I've been shocked before. As the movie unraveled and we saw how the childish-but-brilliant dancer "The Swan" (Natalie Portman) was maturing (through masturbation) was beginning to survive the fanatic dominance of her mother (Barbara Hershey), it should have prepared us for the not-so-unusual scene with "Lily" (Mila Kunis) - every ballet-themed film I've ever seen has had mucho sex-scenes, of all kinds....except for "The Red Shoes". I respect one's preference in sexual matters, but we DO need to be aware that our own preference isn't the only one. As many have written, there are lots of other strange goings-on in this movie, which make it the interesting film it is. I was not aware that director Darren Aronofsky is especially famous for his unusual plots - also unfamiliar with scriptor Marc Heyman; but, I don't go to see any particular film to see what its creators are presenting. I'm hoping to find a plot that isn't readily foreseeable, and will provide me with a different story.
The only disappointment with the untidy-and-quick method the ballet-company's lead dancer was disposed-of. No doubt, there was much more to this story than was presented in tne finished product.
Not to give-away too much of the plot, I will only say "The Red Shoes" also featured a brilliant ballerina determined to destroy herself than not be able to dance. I shall also let you know ballerina Margot Fonteyne added years to her career with the arrival into the company by a fabulous, Russian male-cancer (many years her junior). The method of self-destruction was different and more understandable than "The Black Swan" used, but any true artist does live for their art, whether they can adjust to catastrophic changes in their careers, or not.
I thoroughly enjoyed "The Black Swan" and got its message immediately. I look forward to many move viewings, because I always find something different in every viewing. Those folk who only like one kind of film certainly narrow-mindedly limit their enjoyment (and life's-knowledge) by not finding the true message of any film, no matter what genre it is. Bravo! for "The Black Swan".....
The Town (2010)
..okay, but not great....
I've been trying to think of what to write here - I wasn't thrilled and I didn't find much drama. FOR Ben Afleckt as director and actor, I guess he was pretty good.
Not being a Boston former resident, nor a huge fan of that city, I will say I didn't know that Charlestown was a city of many criminals. The car-chases were fairly well done, the costumes were appropriate and different, I guess the plot was good (so many people compared it to other movies), and know not one iota about "Charlestown". I DID work right across the street from Fenway Park (behind that big wall with the scoreboard on it(, but have never been in there.
SO, while the movie entertained me, I can't rave about the acting nor the story. Screamed at the "nun"-outfits.....gotta take for granted they were put-on in the autos - if they saw them on the street, ANYONE would know something was up or they were going to a drag-party.
I guess I'd watch it again (saw it on TV). but I don't think I'd pay to see it, nor buy the DVD. Maybe Aflleckt will have learned something from his work ??
The Good Earth (1937)
...one of the best films I've ever seen...
...of course, the problem IS everyone has become a movie-critic...
For those people who thought "The Good Earth" was dull and not entertaining, I have nothing to say. They are entitled to their opinion, but they missed one of life's most important lesson's: Humility and loyalty.
I was fortunate to see this film when it was FIRST released - in 1939. It's wonderful story (Pearl S. Buck) written for film (Talbot Jennings) has stayed with me all through my long life. I saw it in a theater then; I found it in the "garbage bin" in Wal-Mart this year (2011) and bought it immediately....I had it in a huge collection I gave to a library in Los Angeles when I moved to Florida. The copy I have now was made from the original cut - there are black screens between big scenes. I don't remember that after all these years, but accept it was the way the early release looked. It doesn't bother me - it gives me more time to think of what I have just viewed and anxious to see what's next. To me, the story is so engrossing the length of the film doesn't even occur to me - I would have liked the ending to be longer, because "Olan, you are the earth" told the entire reason for the story of true love and devotion, to the extreme.....
I'm not even bothered by the question so many people asked of why Paul Muni ("Wang Lung") and Luise Rainer ("Olan") were cast instead-of Asians - I had never seen Ms. Rainer in any film, and have no idea why her Hollywood career faded. She was considered to be a great beauty. Paul Muni I've seen in other films, but he wasn't one of my favorites. Yes, I have always wondered how "Gone with the Wind" - beat it out of an award: actually, I thought "The Good Earth" was filmed in color. Now, I'm not even concerned about that - the STORY, the ultimate entirety of the film's huge scenes and huge cast dismisses any negative comment I could think of, or read.
Walter Connolly ("Uncle") and Charlie Grapewin ("Old Father") were perfectly cast and played their roles with great skill. All of the cast were consummate in their roles; director Sidney Franklin held a strong grip of the totality of the film and got it all right. As time progressed into a more modern era, the characters became more modern: except, "Olan" stayed the wonderful woman she was.
However - Ms. Rainer stole the entire movie. A good actress does not always need words to say. I feel the story of a peasant-farmer and his ex-slave wife, all of the troubles they encountered (and defeated), the entire cast presented an accurate portrayal of the story in those days - China. It is hard for me to visualize any re-make could be better, and feel any CGIs would be completely unnecessary. It is also hard for me to realize China's last emperor was alive when I went to Hawai'i in 1969......living a peasant-life, just as did "Wang Lung" and "Olan".
Anyone who views "The Good Earth" and doesn't readily understand that life is bigger than any of us, haven't really lived. It gets a 20 from me - I recommend it to every living soul.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
..a real winner...
I'm caught again without knowing anything about this great film. I had no idea what it was about, but pleasantly surprised that it presents a documentary on a topic I knew/and/know very little about: women's boxing league. So many great reviews have been posted here, there is little else to write.
The entire film is done with perfection: the dark lighting of the gym makes the incidents that happens in it believable; it is the reflection of the misery most of the characters bring to it. I don't agree with some reviewers who say the story lagged and was incomplete: the script was gut-wrenching, because it lead one to believe "Maggie" )Hillary Swank) is going to win her life-long dream. "Frank" (Clint Eastwppd) has begun to believe he has won redemption for whatever he has done to cause all those letters to be returned. "Scrap-Iron" is content to live in a place where he began a journey to a lost title, but holds no bitterness against the man who could have done more for him to win his victory. "Maggie" is relentless, and successful, to have "Frank" manage and train her - the other characters are the types of people you'd expect to find in the gym. Bullies taunting a totally inept boy who also dreams of becoming a title-holder; "Scrap-Iron's" defense of him brings him complete peace with the realization he is in the right place. "Billie, the Blue Bear's" resentment (and realization she has met her match) brutally illegal attack on "Maggie" is completely unexpected (but believable), and provides the reason for "Frank" to do "the right thing" and move-on. "Scrap-Iron's" realization that he must keep the gym operating, for "Frank"s return, solved that whole problem, and brought viewers such relief that "Maggie" almost accomplished her dream - and left her misery in a hard-won peace.
Script, directing and casting couldn't have been better. Every actor/actress was brilliant. Although it brought me to a point to think about incidents of pain and happiness in my own life, it wasn't with more pain......that's just what happened. I would recommend this film to everyone, because it has a blueprint of what life is about. I'll watch it again......
....what an emotional film; like today in North Africa ?...
Besides of never hearing of the film "Rendition", neither was I aware that "rendered" was torturing HUMANS to gain information. One cannot come away from viewing this film without trepidation and sadness in his/her heart, and foreboding there is no fixing the relationship between the western world and the Muslim nations
Although we may have HEARD about this kind of cruelty "rendering" causes, to actually view it is another shock....."the worried father" (Nial Yaigar) is the epitome of cruelty while so easily watching this kind of torture. So many of the reviewers adamantly say torture is visciously wrong: who could deny that statement? This film shows it graphically; who wouldn't admit to almost anything, being so horribly whipped and shocked? Who would even think (and admit) The U. S. official would so callously send an American (or anyone) off to the pits ?? Although I was devastated by this film, I loved it because I finally saw - with my own eyes - how we "water-boarded" and electrical-shocked another human being, just to say what the torturors wanted to hear ? I bought this DVD because the plot included Jake Gylenhaal and Myrel Streep, two of my favorite actors. I was not familiar with any of the other characters, but saw the intensity of their roles. I loved it.
So many other reviewers wrote such beautifully poetic pieces, I hesitate to even try to express my own reaction, except to say "this is unacceptable". Those who think torture - in any form - is acceptable are missing a part of what makes us human.
....and then I was reminded that my memory wasn't working well: I recalled all that brutality perpetrated by American troops in Iraq. I had known about the Iraesali "Mossod" for many years, at one time marveling at their bravery (brutality?).....I was reading an article in a doctor's office about the assassination of a "Hamas" official. At that point, I felt a deep depression.
For "Rendition", Gavin Hood directed a masterpiece - it should have won every "Oscar". How did he know so much about these repressive actions ? Maybe from Kelly Sane, who wrote the script ? I think Omar Metgunlay ("Anwar El-Ibrahim") portrayed the young Egyptian, who was whisked-away from his plane into the gruesome hell of pain, to (awful) perfection. I hate to even write it. Meryl Streep ("Corinne Whitman", the "senator's" aide) should have been personally present to witness such cruetly, before saying "put him on the plane". The "worried father" - who ordered and carried-out all the torture - evoked pity for his not knowing where his beloved daughter was, and hatred for his calm "carrying-out his job". I wasn't really certain they were the same person. "Isabella El-Ibrahim" (Reese Witherspoon) should have walked right-up to whomever was president of our country (when this stuff was happening to U. S. citizens being treated so cruelly) and demanded to know where her husband was, not to mention that The U.S. was doing the same thing. Jake Gylenhaal (CIA agent) waited far too long to rescue the victim.
I loved this movie, and pray it isn't a reflection of what's happening in North Africa today (2011). When this country realizes that folk in that part of the world DO NOT LOVE US, and they ARE sovereign nations, it would be much better-off to stay out of their countries, and bring all of our troops home. Each death should be etched on our souls
I recommend this film to all, except very young children, who - today - might not even flinch at its story. Bravo! to every character, no matter how small the role is. Because I own the DVD, you can be certain I'll watch in again - many times.
For Colored Girls (2010)
..I was exhausted...
I was unaware this film's original source was a play, and/or a book. I must admit, I took "Oprah's" advice to see the movie, so I went. Although I thought all of the actresses were stellar in their work, I just couldn't get past all the tears. I know many "colored" ladies, and am at a loss to think that ALL have been through hell. I know MANY "colored" men who are angels. AND - I resent having to say "colored", when I want to write "black". Nothing denigrating with that term.......
Not knowing any of the actresses except Whoppi and Janet Jackson, I can't comment on their performances, as compared-to others. So, I had no idea there was "poetry" being recited in the dialog. I'm aware that some Black women are mistreated; "Precious" depicted it so well, and am amazed that some reviewers reviled it. At least, it had a STORY you could easily follow. I'm all for "art," but I don't want to have to dig to find it. The whole of the film should be that ! I was completely traumatized by the children being thrown out of a window. That has nothing to do with "colored" women, it's just brutality.....that's in every race. Any woman from any race who has been so abused as this film displays should go right to Heaven and become angels, to give condolence to those who are receiving it. I know some violence is necessary to tell a complete tale; I just don't want EVERYONE to be involved in it.
Truly, I was exhausted by the time this film ended. I know nothing of Tyler Perry's work - I've only seen his "drag"-performance in TV commercials. Like other reviewers, I didn't find a great uplifting of his direction. I need to see this film again, apparently - and most likely will buy a DVD, so I can study it. After that has happened (and I find I understand it better and find compassion with its characters) I shall do a re-write of this.......
The Book of Eli (2010)
....don't know exactly how to take this movie....
..."Dick Steel" wrote such an intelligent/unbiased review, it's hard to beat it - look for it.....By now, EVERYONE knows the story of this movie, so I shall only give my opinion (which are usually quite long, but this time quite short) - I really didn't understand this film while I was watching it: I had not heard anything about it, so was watching it by suggestion from another person, and had no idea what it was about. I must admit I coudn't tell one actor from the other....
....from reading a good many of the other reviews, I am convinced most of them were written by males......who else would be so disappointed, almost insulted that such a film had been released? I was rather shocked by the number of people who were insulted by a religious film - one reviewer reminded everyone that the big ones, some years ago (like "Ben Hur") were box-office hits. I think the reason for most of those who truly disliked this film were overly macho and truly know (or care) about any religious teachings....I respect their opinions.......read them to justify the making of this film.
From the first scene, it was apparent to me this was a post-armageaden film - the "coloring" of it was so ghastly. I could not grasp why "Eli" (Denzel Washington) was so violent.....I had no idea his mission in life was to protect ANY object; I, for one, don't mind being educated by other viewers about things in a movie, while I'm watching. I was not aware he was playing a blind character. I didn't realize there was no edible food (nor water) and people were busy eating one another; although it was apparent everyone was quite crazed and violent, I didn't know why. I thought the action-shots were very good, but didn't know the reason for their necessity. So, although I enjoyed the film, I didn't know it's real plot until I read many of these reviews. Unlike many, the twist at the end did not insult me, nor did I care where they found all the paper to print it - I also feel justified in disliking "Carnegie" (Gary Oldman) because he had such a craze to own "The Book", and was delighted he was shocked to discover it was written in braille.....Ha !!! I, too, was surprised that Alcatraz was the chosen place "Eli" had to reach, and didn't understand how he got there with a life-threatenting wound WITHOUT THE BOOK !!! I do believe that God works miracles to protect good people from harm, especially when they are doing His work. Re-publishing The Bible, I feel, would fall in that category. I DID understand the point of placing it between "The Quran" and "The Torah". Good place for it......
Actually, my only reason for writing this review is not to praise nor demean the film, but to assure whoever cares - I do NOT want to live in such a horrid world this film so eloquently displays. Let me be right under "the bomb" or "the hole in the sky" - to exist in such a dreadful world is not for me. However, I could watch it again.......
Primal Fear (1996)
I come late to posting this comment; I thought I already had.
Reading many of the comments already posted, I totally agree that Edward Norton ("Aaron/Roy") was the right actor to cast over so many who auditioned for the role, including the spectacular talent (at that time) of Matt Damon......not the same actor we've become accustomed to seeing in action-films. Norton was tremendous in this role and definitely should have won the award he was nominated for. For more of his skill in doing "stuttering" playing an afflicted character, see "The Score".....another great role.
Director Gregory Hoblit certainly kept his cast centered on the movie he directed. The script by Steven Shagan was without fault, providing good character-building for every role. I saw none of the "holes" some users saw - I thought (and think) the film wasted no time in telling the story. If you've read some of my other comments, you'll know I am "story"-oriented. Whether-or-not Mr. Hoblit directs another film as brilliant as "Primal Fear," I'll have to determine that when I see it.
I also fail to see how some commentors feel that Richard Gere ("Martin Vail") did not deliver what this role called-for: a narcissistic attorney, looking for every opportunity to advance his career. Doesn't everyone? I thought the tension between he and prosecutor "Janet Venable" (Laura Linley) was well developed and kept the tension of unknown twists right on target. Ms. Linley was stellar in this role. Her vulnerability in being dismissed if she didn't deliver a "win" in this case to crooked politician "Shaughnessy" (John Mahoney) also contributed to the intensity of the story. Their romantic relationship provided insight to one another's personality and reactions. Alfre Woodard ("Judge") was excellent, in that it provided an insight that even judges like a little tonic in their glasses. Her cool but strict demeanor in the courtroom was right-on. Frances McDormand ("Dr. Molly Arrington") left nothing to the imagination......she, like "Martin" felt "Aaron" was innocent, but her quick realization that he was about to undergo a total character-change during one of their sessions was a testament she was analyzing his statements with clarity. Anyone who didn't see her move toward the door wasn't paying attention. The scene between "Aaron" and "Martin" during "Roy's" appearance was riveting and revealing to "Martin" perhaps he had the wrong conviction in his belief his client was totally innocent.
All of the plot-twists intensified the story: the scene under the freeway, the murder of the gangster (which caused "Martin's" intention to expose "Shaughgnessy" as the crook he was); all of the "unnecessary" scenes were relevant. I did not find the "sex-scene" distasteful - hey, it happens !, even with Archbishops/Cardinals. The minute I heard "tape"" and "he wanted to get-off", the whole plot came-together for me.
I am at a loss why people find court-dramas not to be entertaining. I could find little to criticize about this film. That NO ONE gave-away the ending twist shows everyone was shocked and felt it would be wrong to deprive future viewers the privilege of experiencing it for themselves.
"Primal Fear" is a distinct lesson for ALL young people to understand there is danger in idolizing religious leaders. Have faith, indeed - comply without question, no. I think this is a film for the whole family to enjoy together. I own it and watch it often. Every film-library should include it - I give it a 20......
The Lion in Winter (1968)
..fabulous film by all concerned in its making..
...I thought I had already commented on "The Lion in Winter," but I don't find it. So, here we go again....
EVERYONE is right when they praise this movie and the fantastic acting by O'Toole, Hepburn, Hopkins, Castle, Terry, Merron; the direction was awesome, the score very riveting (which drew me to the film in the first place); lighting sensational, cinematography perfect, costuming very believable (not one of those movies where everyone parades-around in gorgeous outfits), sets extremely appropriate. I don't know how anyone could find fault with any part of it.
The opening scene, King Henry II watching his youngest son jesting and learning how to become a killer (he is a monster, anyway), explains exactly the kind of man Henry has always been - a lecher: if it moves, he's had sex with it. He tells his mistress (Merron) he has made love to "little boys"; she is his wife's adopted daughter, sister of King Philip of France (Eleanor) was married to their father, as the Queen of France, and raised them both, giving the French king no heirs). Eleanor was the rage of Europe and wherever she traveled, having owned most of France since she was a young woman; she isn't about to give it up to a king (her Engligh husband) who has been so adulterous (not to mention herself, also). If the king is so worried she will de-throne him, no wonder he has her locked-up in a prison/castle. With parents like these, how else can their children be (especially the sons) but wanting to get rid of the king so they can ascend the throne ? Almost every user who has posted a comment here writes eloquently, as the movie is written by James Goldman: Anthony Harley had a masterpiece to direct, as almost every user has written. They are all right: this film should have won every award for that year.
They are also correct that NONE of the plot's back-stabbing has been solved at the end of the movie. Eleanor is happy to get back on her barge and sail back to her prison; she knows that Henry's threat to go to the pope to have their marriage dissolved is a sham - she's already been through that with the King of France. Henry II isn't about to give-up his mistress and all the other miscreants in his sexual life. The sons haven't been given any hope they will ascend the throne, but know that "mummy" is in there plotting to make it "Richard" (Hopkins), because he's her favorite and she KNOWS that he is homosexual and had an affair with "Philip". Some users deny this - it's well-known. So, here's a set-up for the perfect sequel, rather-than making the same film over-and-over again. I suggest:
Eleanor of Aquitane lived well into her 80s - she out-lived Henry II and all their kids, and NEVER gave-up Aquitane. She was an international power, even with the papacy, so why not tell some of the outrageous incidents of her later life? which would give some other great actress (more-so than Hepburn?) the opportunity to complete this phenomenal woman's life-story. Whomever she may be, if they don't copy Hepburn's fire-and-ice performance, they're crazy. Streep could do it very easily.
"The Lion in Winter" is a real blockbuster - it has everything a classic film needs.......plain-ole, high-powered, brilliant acting. Who needs explosions and CGIs? If you are familiar with a little medieval history, that's to your advantage; if you ARE NOT, here's the opportunity to learn. "Lion" shows exactly how nasty, ambitious nobility was/is, and - in those years - didn't live in palaces like Versailles or Buckingham. It's a shame we can't rate it higher......
...good enough for theaters...
"The Judas Chalice" has many plot-twists: to see a detailed (and accurate) synopsis, click on that title on the title-page.
Jonathan Frakes has come-down from whatever trip he was on for "King Solomon's Mines" and directed a good film, scripted by Marco Schnabel. As Wyle produced "King" with these two guys, I guess they're going to be the team for future serials. I thought this movie was very good, but thought it lacked the "nerd" characteristic of the first two films. There is one scene with "Judson" (Bob Newhart) and "Charlene" (Jane Curtain) in which he relapses and jumps up-and-down to protest his being sent on another "trip".....he hasn't had any loving in a long time. He is told to "pretend you are a celibate monk," but "Noah" has taken to "Mom's" (Dukakis) idea of getting all he can. AND, he's horny. Oh, well - I guess Wyle wants to become a movie-star, as he was a star on "ER". In a dream-sequence, he sees a gorgeous lady beckoning him. He doesn't know how important that dream is till much later in the film.
I am from New Orleans (where the plot is set) and watched it mainly for that reason, plus wanting to see just what "the chalice" is all about. As it is widely believed it was made of the thirty pieces of silver given to Judas Iscarot, paid to betray Jesus, I was interested. I'm glad it caught me.....
One of the many scenes in "Chalice" provides the plot: high-echelon Russians are out to revive "Count Dracula", in order to put-together an army of vampires which can't be defeated, to return Russia to its greatness. My opinion is, that would be just a little insulting, causing Russia to dislike us more. The Russians DO find a mysteriously spooky crypt in Romania and transport it to New Orleans, which used to be a French colony. A factual priestess of Voodoo - Marie le Veux - IS buried in The St. Louis Cemetery, whose crypt is regularly worshiped by the occult.
"Flynn" (Noah Wyle) is sent to an auction to obtain (by hook-or-crook) a Ming vessel - which, through unintended dialog, he discovers he has bid a million lbs.....much more than the vessel is worth, EXCEPT it has something inside that is much more valuable. He drops the vessel to destroy it, and walks away with the artifact.
Another scene shows how "Simone" (who is the lady in his dream) has been attacked by Dracula (four hundred years ago) and is now a vampire. "Flynn" finds her in a nightclub which once was a church - the fabled "St. Louis Cathedral". I found that to be distasteful. Another scene shows "Prof. Lazlo" giving a lecture on the occult; he eventually is captured by the Russians. At any rate, all the Russians and Lazlo wind-up in New Orleans, just about the time that "Flynn" and "Simone" have a hot love-scene. Just after this jump in the hay, "Flynn" learns that "Simone" is a vampire, but has come through it without being attacked. She has a fridge full of blood, so she's not really into biting people, although we do see a scene with fangs, etc.
The famous French Quarter is shown supposedly during Mardi-Gras, the uninhibited celebration the day before Lent, but not nearly wild enough. All of the characters wind-up in a run-down house on the outskirts of the city (actually filmed in Louisiana), and it is revealed that "Lazlo" is the REAL Dracula, and gets possession of "the chalice", and wants to destroy everyone. He is not desirous of helping the Russians, because he's already a legend. Much fighting between "Lazlo" and "Simone" to protect "Flynn", who wanders outside of the house, looking for a spike to do-in Dracula. He does - and he and "Simone" are united, "Flynn" asking her to watch a sunrise. Well, you can guess that she sacrifices herself for her love of "Flynn". She melts in a flurry of lights.
I think I've told more of the plot of this movie than any other I've reviewed. I suppose it's because I'm from New Orleans, and have an interest in anything concerning Jesus. All that aside, I DID see (again) the townhouse I once lived-in on the corner of St. Louis and Dauphine Streets....never miss it when The Quarter is shown.
This most recent of "The Librarian" series is very professionally made and perhaps portends that more episodes are in the future. Hope so - it really is a very good movie, with everyone in the cast and crew producing an excellent, entertaining film. Cinematography is great - every scene is very convincing. This may be the last of the "nerd" - but, it's the beginning of a series that TV missed. Bravo !
I just wonder WHERE do they store all those "artifacts" when "the library" is changed ?......