Reviews written by registered user
|15 reviews in total|
I resisted to see "Mommie Dearest" for years but last night I lost a bet and I was forced to sit through it. Surprise. It didn't provoke what I thought it was going to provoke. Nothing personal really. A bad TV movie, cheap in every department, the production design, the hair and make up, the script, oh my God, the script. I never read Christina Crawford's book, maybe it was this amateurishly bad. Anne Bancroft was first going to play Crawford but fortunately she came to her senses. Dunaway has been paying the price ever since. You don't mess around with Crawford, didn't she know that? Other than the outrageous performance by Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid gives her Christina a certain amount of dignity, perhaps more dignity than Christina deserved. The supporting cast seems like a round up of the last resort. Atrocious. So much so that it's not even funny. I bet Joan Crawford is turning in her grave unsure whether to cry or to laugh.
Looking back with a sentimental eye and a generous budget doesn't guarantee a masterpiece and in fact "Baaria" is not a masterpiece, but it manages to be a lot of other things and when I say a lot a mean an awful lot, too much perhaps. The ambition of the enterprise clashes with its clarity, its accomplishment even with its honesty. I've spent 10 critical years of my childhood in Sicily and the Sicily depicted here, beauty an all, felt like the work of a foreigner. This is a Sicily for exportation or, the Sicily of a dreamer with a very acute cinematic eye. Not the Sicily of Visconti's "La Terra Trema" to be sure but perhaps Tornatore's way is a cleverer way to go about it. This is a exemplary crafted "product". It doesn't have the depth of real art nor its purity. It has, however, a great show of confidence in itself. Beautiful images, beautiful protagonists, beautiful score. The toothless smiles of the under proletarians the color coordinated attire of the rich, everything in place just the way we imagine. To say that I was disappointed wouldn't be quite true, in fact, I enjoyed it much more that I thought I would, but now, twenty four hours later, very little of it remains in my mind or in my heart.
We are, yes, we're the ones who look without really seeing and Michael Heneke, the veteran young director knows it. Paranoia and responsibility in a film that is as irritating as it is brilliant. Even the opening credits, small writing while a camera, still, very still, stares at an upper, middle class abode. An intellectual Hitchcockian exercise by a genial director who seems, at times, is playing with himself. He probably is doing it knowing that we're looking and tests our endurance without caring, really, whether we're with him or against him. What he, I believe, wouldn't tolerate is our indifference but, there is no danger of that. Love and hate. Admiration and ridicule. He will inspire all of that, at the same time by some of us, all of us, one way or another. The performances are all wonderful and there is a marvelous moment with the great Annie Girardot.
The premise is not a thousand miles away from William Wyler's "Desperate Hours" but the distances here are measured in a different way. Michael Heneke the "author" of this horror thriller of sorts is at the service of his vision of himself. He's not the first "author" to suffer from the same malady but here it's so bloody obvious that becomes kind of funny. From the opening credits you know that "pretension" will permeate the whole movie and it does but, the funny thing is that it's riveting. I watched the whole nonsense with my mouth open. That's an achievement, isn't it? I haven't seen the original German version (a blow by blow account directed by Heneke himself)but, I must confess, I think I will, I think I want to. Don't ask me why. This is as empty as anything I've ever seen. A public act of obscenity and yet you can't, you just can't look away. Naomi Watts is terrific as the smart middle class wife and mother that will notice for first that Michael Pitt is not that good an actor. She sees through him - who wouldn't? - pretty much from the start. Michael Pitt plays the creep as a creep with good manners. So on the nose that doesn't manage to be frightening. He is shocking because of what he does but not for what he appears to be. He has no sexual presence. Tim Roth, as the weakling husband is disturbingly convincing and the young actor playing their son is truly wonderful. So here I am, talking about a film I kind of detested with unexpected respect. Michael Heneke may be one of those artists who are extraordinary self promoters, but he's an artist none the less and like real artist often do, divide, confront and provoke. So, did I like "Funny Games"? No. Will I see it again? Absolutely.
How long did it take for the Titanic to sink? Hours, it felt like for ever. Why? After all that's the reason Cameron was attracted to this story. All those spectacular visual effects. But what about the people? They were irrelevant. Celine Dion and the bravery of Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio kept this wreck afloat. There is a wannabe thriller abroad, gun fights, robbery... as if the tragedy alone wasn't enough. Remember the Titanic with Barbara Stanwyck? That version didn't make history but if you compared it to this one, the early one was a masterpiece. How angry it made me to think that all the millions invested in this Oscar winner didn't allow for a decent script to emerge. The surreal success of "Titanic" makes me fear the worse. The crowning moment of this puzzling hit is the jewel thrown into the sea. Why? Didn't Gloria Stuart had a niece? Couldn't she have secured a livelihood to her niece with that horrid piece of blue glass? Thoughtlessness, clearly, dominated the enterprise. However, the sinking in itself is an extraordinary show of technical ability.
Not true! Robert Redford didn't take to the pulpit to give us a pet talk. He's far too subtle, honest and compassionate to pull a stunt like that. The film is about questions not about answers and we're all grateful for that. I left the theater with a weight on my chest because I believe in the validity of the questions and the individual responsibility of finding the fair way to the answers. Important to remember, at least it was for me, that this is a film delivered to us by three icons. Robert Redford, a symbol of consistency and independence, Meryl Streep, an actress who defined the last two decades of film acting with characters that went straight to the center of something and Tom Cruise, the box office champion who's become a controversial figure despite of his undeniable humanity. I will take a stand here and advise you to go and see this film. You will come up with new questions and a potential road map for the answers.
I've read reviews and articles from its day dismissing this moving as a waster of two major talents. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, all of those comments appear short sighted if not just inaccurate. True, the film is an "hommage" to David Lean's "Brief Encounter" and I don't think anybody can deny that. The word "hommage" may be arguable but the concept isn't it. Streep is a feast to the eyes and ears. She was then and she is now. She constructs something memorable out something quite ordinary. De Niro falls into place but it's hard to divorce him from his well established film persona. Is this Travis? So clean? I fell into their Brief Encounter situation head on and enjoyed it thoroughly. In particular the first 45 minutes when their lives are starting to connect but before the actual connection. My favorite part? Meryl for the first time waiting for him in the train, looking out of the window to catch a glimpse. The juxtaposition of her thoughts it's dizzying, wonderful and worth the entire film.
With "Pockeful Of Miracles" Frank Capra remakes his own "Lady For A Day" with Capraseque results - that means a mix bag with mostly delightful stuff in it - The major problem here is Glenn Ford, not as an actor but as a producer. There is too much dedicated to Ford's character's businesses, moving away from what really matters - Apple Annie and her predicament. Bette Davis was one of the major supporters of Glenn Ford at the beginning of his career - A Stolen Life, did for his career what "Thelma and Louise" did for Brad Pitt's and one should remember that Davis sort of "imposed" Ford for that role. Now Glenn Ford bills himself above Bette Davis. That should tell you something. The film, however, more than survives the petty egos and comes out as a wonderful swan song for the extraordinary Frank Capra. Bette Davis herself confessed to have found enormous difficulty at being faithful to Apple Annie in those gorgeous gowns post-makeover, but this is, was and always will be a fairy tale and as such it succeeds beautifully. The entrance of Davis after the make-over scored with the Nutcracker suite, it's one of my most cherished movie memories as are Davis's eyes as she witnesses the "miracle" in first person. A collection of wonderful character actors: Thomas Mitchell, Ellen Corby and in particular Edward Everett Horton makes the whole thing a smashing pleasure. Beautiful Hope Lange is terrific and Peter Falk wears a coat that makes his character a shady relative of his future "Colombo". If you're not made of stone and/or your levels of cynicism have not reached inhuman stages, you're going to enjoy this very much. I certainly did.
True, the first half an hour of Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan" is truly mesmerizing but then it degenerates into a soap opera of sorts and all the angst and horror of war evaporates until the truly sentimental finale. "The Longest Day" doesn't depend on special effects but on the minute by minute horror of its moment. It's also, if I'm permitted to say it, a lot of fun to watch. Strangely enough the all star cast is not distracting at all. It was much more in "Saving Private Ryan" with a cast of up and comings headed by Tom Hanks himself. In "The Longest Day" there are real moments, film, cinematic moments that are intimately connected with the profoundest sense of drama: The clicking of the rifle. Richard Burton, Richard Beymer and the boots of the dead German. Red Buttons hanging from the Cathedral. Paul Anka, Fabian, Robert Wagner, the landing in Normandy. This film remains one of the best, from every angle, films of its kind.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Short and to the point. Family relations, death and excrement. A hallucinogenic drug who's effect takes most part of the movie. A dead father "an extraordinary man" with a skeleton in his closet shaped as a dwarf (sorry little person)with blackmail in his mind. A lot of fun to see Jane Asher as the widow, the mother. She was the girl from the swinging sixties,, the Beatles "Deep End" and I believe Michael Caine's "Alfie" Loved to see Rupert Graves in a funny, adult turn. I miss this guy, such a good actor, so much better than others that made it big on the other side of the ocean. All in all a British sit-com dealing and doing what they do best. Toilette humor, and death, in the most straight forward politically incorrect British fashion. Frank Oz treats the whole thing as a drawing room comedy and everything goes so fast that there is no real time for a serious assessment. If you go I guarantee, at least, a couple of hearty laughs.
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