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Not Your Time (2010)
Innovative short film with lots of style...
I saw "Not Your Time" at the Boston International Film Festival where it won "BEST PICTURE (short film) and was quite surprised to find so polished a presentation in this category. These days, it seems they're all being shot on cellphone. This one, obviously cost quite a few dollars to produce. Jason Alexander and a cast of mostly Broadway favorites is always entertaining and the quirky editing and fine musical score often brought, "All that Jazz", to mind. I don't know who the filmmaker, Jay Kamen, is but he certainly knows his way around this project. I was also curious about the many cameos featuring a a host of film industry insiders. I'd have to image that Mr. Kamen knows these studio heads, Hollywood producers, and agents. This probably contributed to his being able to achieve such a slick visual look here. I found it quite different and delightful.
Kings of the Sun (1963)
Great if you saw it as a kid...but then you grow-up...
It hasn't improved with time. In fact, when I saw it again on the Japanese DVD, I cringed. It's easily J. Lee Thompson's worst picture. Even "Taras Bulba" stands above this. Bernstein's score is a mess. He obviously didn't care much about the project after spotting it for music. The script is awful, the dialog unspeakable, and the performances uniformly bad. The costumes are corny and the actors look and obviously feel ridiculous in them. Watch Brad Dexter's walk throughout. It's as if he's trying to balance that over-sized helmet on his head! I've heard Walter Mirisch is embarrassed by it and keeps it out of release. The Mirisch Corporation's 85 or so other pictures generate enough income without this turkey. I believe it's the only epic of the pre-Columbian Americas ever filmed. So it's a real shame that about $3,000,000. was wasted on this story. A few more months in scripting and it might have been worth the expenditure. You get the feeling this one was written on AeroMexico on the way down.
Land of the Pharaohs (1955)
There's something about this film that stays in the mind...
It's hard to say just what it is because on the surface "Land of the Pharaohs" doesn't appear to add up to much. It's director disowned it but like the pharaoh of his film, Hawks may have "built better than he knew". The film expresses a mindset that feels sincere in its belief that the afterlife is more important than the present. This is not a biblical story but it manages to represent religion in a more tangible form that almost all the film epics of the Judeo-Christian epoch did. There is a haunting heart of reality in Hawk's made up world. The colors, the cinematography, and the incredible score, all make you feel as if you are there in a way, say "The Ten Commandments", never achieves. I've read that none less than Marty Scorcese rates this as his all-time cinematic guilty pleasure. There's something about the Catholic boy's appreciation of ritual and religious mystery which must come to play in this. I've heard he's seen it thousands of times and that he often lets it play without the sound like a motion painting hung in the background. He's actually called it "a pillow", something you can roll over and rest on. I don't know what exactly it is that creates it but there is a sense of mysticism in this film. It may be melodramatic on the surface but there is something very captivating just underneath.
No one grasped the potential of CinemaScope until John Sturges filled the new frame with a vast nothingness in "Bad Day at Black Rock" and it wasn't until "Land of the Pharaohs" that the cinema actually saw just how impressive filling all that new space could be. It's placement on many lists of the greatest cult film doesn't surprise me.