Reviews written by registered user
|16 reviews in total|
I have not seen much of director Dino Risi's work but this film is
clearly not one of his best efforts. The script doesn't seem very
original either, based on a novel by Mino Milani which mixes romance
and mystery with a bit of horror and gore. We have seen it all before:
a man meets by chance an old lover and the relationship is rekindled.
The hitch is that the woman could be dead and he is having an affair
with a ghost. Is she or isn't she? The whole movie runs on that premise
except for a subplot in which another woman is brutally murdered and
her runaway nephew is the main suspect. This adds the possibility of a
diabolical revenge to our reunited love birds.
The atmospheric color cinematography by veteran Tonino Delli Colli is adequate and there's some great music in the proceedings but if it were not for the magnificent Romy Schneider and the equally great Marcello Mastroianni all the mayhem would have been unbearable.
By the way, this review is based on a DVD released in Spain which lists length as 85 minutes approx.
"La Mies es Mucha" gets its title from the gospels. "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few." Naturally this is a Catholic film that could only have been done during the Franco years in Spain. Overly sentimental it focuses on a Spanish priest, Father Santiago, who arrives in India to evangelize the natives. Excited about his mission, the good priest soon finds that things are more complicated than he expected. For starters, there is a Protestant pastor competing for conversions with better resources to offer the famished locals. The priest also encounters the intrigues of the pagan religious leaders who incite the populace against his mission. There is also an abusive mine owner who exploits the workers by lending them money at high interest rates, making the pay back impossible. In exchange he works them to death at the mine. Father Santiago intervenes by offering to pay the workers' debt but that places him in a compromising situation since he doesn't have that kind of money either. Things get tougher and tougher for the priest, including a plague breakout, but he faces all challenges with saintly patience and daring heroics. In spite of the heavy Catholic propaganda and a dull black and white cinematography, director Saenz De Heredia manages to keep things moving. That and some fine acting by all, especially Fernando Fernán Gómez as the priest, makes the film viewable. A very young Sarita Montiel wrapped in a sari, shows up a couple of times in a minor role in spite of being credited as one of starring players. Over all I do not recommend this drab film unless you are interested on the subject matter.
Doubtless, one of the greatest tragedies ever inflicted upon mankind
was the rise and spread of communism in the 20th century. For the
ideology to control the masses, millions were killed and large segments
of the population were imprisoned or sent to labor camps. Several
countries were destroyed and the hatred among classes became the basis
of the "International movement" for world domination.
A big mess like that should never be forgotten and that's why I encourage everybody, especially young people, to be well informed on all matters pertaining to the communist horrors. Now for the film review I must start mentioning that "The Assassination of Trosky" is not an anti-communist film, nor is it anti-Soviet or anti-Stalin or anti-anything. I can't even vouch for its historical accuracy but I still recommend it for the importance of the subject matter. In short for those who totally ignore who Trosky was and his place on the Soviet debacle this could be a good place to start.
The 1972 film boasts a prestigious cast of actors and an intelligent director but somehow those ingredients don't add up to a good movie. I can't place my finger on it but it could be the sometimes vague script, the slow moving start or even some of the performances. I may get grief for saying this but I found Richard Burton totally miscast as the Russian revolutionary and you can tell he's wearing a fake goatee a mile away. As the movie progresses there are some moments in which he shines but overall he comes through too Shakespearean to be credible.
Meanwhile the character of the assassin, as played by the great Alain Delon, is never given the opportunity to be for real. Mr. Delon plays it full of nervous ticks like he doesn't understand what motivated Mercader, the real killer, to embark in such a gruesome mission. Maybe there was no research that could inform him that his character was the son of Caridad, a Cuban lady who has gone down in history as the ultimate mother from hell. The lady, who after her marriage to a Spanish rich guy, showed signs of mental instability, raised all her sons to be servants of the communist international movement. (For an excellent presentation of the Mercader character and the whole Trosky affair try to see the 1996 award winning documentary "Storm The Skies", a real gem.)
As much as I love Romy Schneiner, I have to guess that her character is a total fabrication in order to pair her again with real life ex-amour Delon and to show them again loving and fighting. The producers must have thought that including her would give the film an extra boost at the box office and maybe it did. Although she gets briefs chances to display her histrionics as Delon's lover and Burton's secretary she seems to belong in a different movie. Of the actors only Valentina Cortese seems credible as the devoted Trosky wife.
In short I recommend this film with reservations. Some of you might even like the scene where Trosky gets killed and the premonition at the bull ring with all its cinematic gore but I really hope that it will turn you on into a deeper understanding of Soviet cruelty and the horrible things that happened not to long ago. It could happen again, you know?
Maybe I was expecting more from director Sanz and from star Pantoja.
Maybe I was not in the "right mood" when I saw it the first time AROUND
and went ahead a second and third time. The fact is that I tried really
hard to like this film and ended up detesting it. You see, I'm a big
fan of flamenco and "coplas" and it kills me when I see the genre
manipulated and misrepresented.
Producer Luis Sanz was the inspiring force behind "Las Cosas del Querer" (1989) and did a hell of a good job with director Jaime Chaverri turning the pseudo biopic of singer Miguel De Molina into a moving tribute to the "copla" genre and its most famous authors. And they did it in spite of the limited vocal range of its stars Angela Molina and Manuel Bandera by highlighting the singers personal charms, their excellent on camera chemistry, their authentic bravado singing "coplas" and a down-to-earth approach. In "Yo Soy Esa" (1990) Sanz takes over the direction and tries to revive his previous hit film using this time popular "copla"/pop singer Isabel Pantoja. Unfortunately, although she has a powerful voice and a dramatic style, she uses them here as...how can I best describe it? ...as bulls running the streets of Pamplona during the San Fermin fiestas. Quite overwhelming to say the least. I found myself praying: Oh great Concha Piquer who art in heaven... Forgive this bitch because she doesn't know what she's doing...
The only good thing I can say about Miss Pantoja is that she is indeed a good looking woman and has the contagious grace of her Seville countrymen. I can't write anything about her acting and the acting of her handsome leading man Jose Coronado because they are non-existent which becomes more painfully obvious by the performances of a great supporting cast which includes Maria Asquerino, Juan Luis Galiardo, Carmen Bernardos and Loles Leon. The script of a film within a film is confusing and predictable at the same time and the only redeeming quality for this atrocious excuse for a movie is the crisp color photography.
Sorry but the writers of previous commentaries in this section seem to
be confusing "El Último Cuplé" with another movie or movies. One of
them writes that this film "bears a resemblance to Dama de las
Camelias. " The writer is probably confusing "El Último Cuplé" with
another Sara Montiel vehicle titled "La Bella Lola" (1962) which is
based on "Camille" the classic novel by Alexander Dumas Jr.
Another writer states that the film includes "nearly every major facet of Spanish culture" and names as examples, "main regional costumes and dances, bullfighting rituals, the devotion to the Virgin Mary and local popular Saints, women's tragic position in life dedicated to their men, etc." Except for the fact that one of the characters in "El Último Cuplé" is a bullfighter all the other claims in that commentary are simply false. "Cuplé" is not about regional costumes or dances, the Virgin Mary or saints do not show up anywhere, and the plot has nothing to do with "women's tragic position in life." If there is one thing clear in this film is that the main character, as played by Sarita Montiel, is a sexually-charged liberated woman so I have no idea where the commentator got that outrageous information.
It is tragic that some confused or irresponsible people write comments and provide misleading false data in these pages and nobody checks its accuracy. Of course, to check everything would be an impossible task for IMDb but there should be a warning to every writer that before they post anything they must be absolutely sure about the assertions being made. Maybe a proper warning should read: "do not comment on any film you have not seen in more than ten years." Regarding "El Ultimo Cuplé" my opinion is that director Juan de Orduña and the screenwriters hit the jackpot by choosing the right cuplés (songs) in order to support the film's story line. By doing this, the not so brilliant script becomes credible and moving, impacting the viewers and making this low budget production an unforgettable experience. Photographer José Aguayo should also be commended for his use of Eastmancolor and making the film look like a much more expensive production while composer Juan Solano deserves praise for writing the soundtrack music and arranging all the songs. But, lets face it: Sara Montiel's beauty and talent as both an actor and a singer makes the whole package irresistible.
"El Ultimo Cuplé" was recently digitally restored and released in DVD by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, unfortunately in Spain only. A non-restored version was issued in the United States on a cheap double-feature DVD by SlingShot Entertainment in Burbank, California and has been sold at Wal-Mart, Amazon.com and other on-line stores. Pity! "El Ultimo Cuplé" deserves a deluxe edition, restored, with surround sound and extras including English subtitles.
I guess Mr. Polanco must have seen "Sextette," that 1978 embarrassment that brought back Mae West at age 80+ as a sex siren in full swing. He probably thought "if they can get away with it in the U.S. I can do the same here" so he fetched retired film star Isabel Sarli, Argentina's most outstanding contribution to the Grade Z sexexplotation genre and built a movie around her. The fact that the lady is past 60 years old doesn't seem to bother him so he dresses her up in what he hopes is an elegant and sexy wardrobe, makes her stand in ridiculously designed sets, surrounded by exotic motifs and eye-catching props and proceeds to photograph her under diffused lighting through camera lenses that contain several layers of filters. So much for the director's creativity. Miss Sarli seems quite embarrassed by all the gimmicks and it gets to the point when one feels sorry for her and decides to give the film a chance. Then you realize that the screenplay is also a disaster, that the proceedings are too slow to sustain life and that the whole thing is just one big messy waste of time. The saddest thing is that Polanco, with a little imagination and a team of good comedy writers could have done a nice, entertaining take-off of the awful films Miss Sarli did in her youth under the direction of her husband Armando Bo. It could have redeemed her by highlighting her sense of humor instead of her boobs, but not such a luck. Mr. Polanco seems too fascinated by the fact that he lured the retired star back from oblivion without really knowing what to do with her. Pity!
Beautiful María Félix was the ultimate "femme fatal" of Mexican cinema
and it was unavoidable that she'd play Marguerite Gautier at some point
in her career. The idea is not far-fetched except that director Roberto
Gavaldón wanted a totally different "Camille" and he commissioned a
script that would be both original and faithful to the original "Lady
of the Camellias" by Alexandre Dumas, Jr. Of course, you would need a
very creative writer, or group of writers, to achieve such a task so
Mr. Gavaldón and producer Gregorio Wallestein decided to do it
themselves. To keep within commercial parameters they also hired writer
Edmundo Báez, famous for hallucinating all those scripts for Libertad
Lamarque tearjerkers. The results are so confusing that it's hard to
tell if you are watching a serious film or somebody is playing a joke
on you. Let me give you the improbable basic plot.
Camellia (María Félix ) is a celebrated stage actress achieving great success playing the central character in "The Lady of the Camellias" at a local theater. However her private life mirrors the part she is playing on stage, a lost woman who sells her love in order to maintain her lifestyle. In the play, she drinks like a sailor while in "real life" Camelia is a drug addict. In "Lady of the Camellias" Marguerite falls for Armand, a socialite who could be her salvation. Backstage, Camelia falls for Rafael (Jorge Mistral), a famous bullfighter that wants to take her out of the vicious circle she is in and make her happy. Both Marguerite and Camelia know they are doomed.
Confusing? You bet! Especially when sometimes Camelia, playing Marguerite, utters dialog on stage that leaves you wondering if it's the real thing or the script. The only relevant thing in this debacle is the reference to drug addiction, namely heroin, very rare in Mexican films of the 1950s. Also a couple of love scenes between gorgeous Maria and strikingly handsome Mistral have a certain value from an erotic perspective. Everything else can be painlessly trashed out and forgotten for everybody' sake. If you like the subject, stick with the Garbo-Cukor 1936 version "Camille"
This little film by Arturo Infante throws a bittersweet dart at Cuba's
much tooted free for all educational system. In three short vignettes
it shows the results obtained by Communist dictatorship after almost
fifty years of manipulating education and culture. It is almost uncanny
how Infante can say so much in such a short time. It is also strange
that he gets away with it all considering the tight censorship that
reigns inside the ICAIC, Cuba's Institute of Film. But the deed is done
and we should be all grateful for it although distribution of this
little gem is at best erratic.
Vignette #1 takes us to an empty classroom where a teacher is coaching his best student, a girl in her teens, in the reading of a classic work of literature which the girl must deliver at some upcoming school function. It becomes obvious that this girl can not pronounce the highly polished Spanish of the piece and can only communicate in the trashy slang she has learned in her barrio. Utter frustration from the suffering and well-meaning educator.
Vignette #2 takes place at a dilapidated patio where four Cubans gather for a friendly game of dominoes. They talk in their Cuban lingo and the conversation turns to music and to baroque-style constructions. It's very hard to follow what they are saying but soon there's an argument that turns unreasonably violent. The only thing clear is that these guys, shining examples of Cuba's revolutionary men, are quick-tempered and experts at foul language and bad manners. Wild, uneducated beasts in the country of free education.
Vignette #3 has also a slum setting where a manicurist is providing her services to a woman while another waits impatiently for her turn. The conversation here turns to opera and each lady gives her opinion of who is the best soprano. Soon they are at each others hair and high opera has become an excuse for these women to unleash their trashy natures, vent their anger and shout the foulest obscenities in Cuban lingo. One of them underlines her point by gesturing to her crotch as if her ovaries were the ultimate source of knowledge. Totally incompatible with the world of opera.
The film reminds me of a conversation I had once with a journalist that had recently visited Cuba. He described it as "the empire of trashiness."(El imperio de la chusmeria) I protested: How can that be when people receive free education. The journalist replied: No real education there... just teaching. (No hay educación... solo enseñanza.) At that time I did not fully understand his words. Now I do.
"Salsa Rosa" is just one of many television talk shows produced in Spain in which celebrities are paid handsomely for an on-air interview to discuss their private lives. Miss Montiel, as Spain's biggest movie star ever, and one of the most controversial, appears on these "gossip shows" quite frequently. However, TV interviews should not be listed on a filmography. I ask fans and IMDb contributors to stop at once adding these TV interventions and to delete the ones that are already there. They only serve to clutter the actor's filmography and to mislead researchers. Let's hope that IMDb might see the light and create a new category for TV appearances. If that happens you will be able to list the never-ending Montiel interviews on "trash-TV" shows such as "Salsa Rosa".
A superficial viewing of this film might lead you to believe that this
is just another Mexican over-the-top melodrama. But when you set your
mind to it and realize what's going on, you are in for surprises.
For starters, the saga of a female physician (Marga Lopez) accused of murdering her own son, is set in the context of a television show where a panel of "experts" discusses the facts in front of studio audience. Supposedly, everyone in the nation is following the broadcast including the accused woman and others involved. It seems like the outcome (the guilt or innocence of the lady doctor) will be decided right on television and for the viewer's convenience there'll be no commercials. They don't explain why nobody bothered to take the case to court for a judge and jury to decide ... so, there! This is "Reality TV" at work way before its time and without commercials! But that is not all.
The script written by Julio Alejandro manages to address some subjects considered taboo in 1960 Mexico: euthanasia and Catholic values versus atheist humanism. Isn't that daring? Libertad Lamarque would have never touch such a film.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |