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A Little Romance (1979)
A feel-good movie that isn't overly sappy.
This is definitely a movie that leaves you with a good feeling (interesting that every person who wrote a review here has liked it). Two kids meet in France, the boy a citizen of the country and a young American girl who's living there temperarily. Both kids are very likable and wise beyond their years without being arrogant or snobbish. They meet a shady but nice old man played very well by Laurence Olivier and set out on a trip from France to Venice Italy.
The film deals with the relationship between the boy and girl who are at that age when the hormones are just starting to kick in. The movie is well acted with good performances by all the leads, great scenery and has a great musical score by George Delerue.
Be interesting if they made a sequel to this with the kids (now adults) meeting again at 40.
Patriotism and Heroism or ignorance and peer pressure.
I've always felt that "Gallipoli" was an extremely underrated film. Despite being early in Mel Gibson's career I felt it was his best movie still to date (also Peter Weir's).
The film starts with two talented sprinters who almost instantly become friends. One of them, Archy Hamilton (Mark Lee) is almost eighteen and dying to get out of the remote outback of Australia and see the world, go on adventures etc. He cuts out dramatic newspaper clippings from WWI which is at it's peak at the time. He sees enlisting into the cavalry (Australian lighthorse) as his ticket out of his boredom. Ironically despite wanting to join the army, the film shows that he has absolutely no idea how exactly the war even started. When asked by a drifter how it began he claims "I'm not sure, but it was the German's fault". He's simply a naive kid who has no idea what he's about to get himself into and who believes he's indestructable. He's after some vauge adventure that he has in his head (a reason that many young people enlist to go to war.)
The Mel Gibson character (Frank Dunne) is the smarter of the two. He believes the war is a British conflict that has nothing to do with Australia. Much of the social animosity that exists between Australia and Britain is expressed through his character. However after his friends all decide to enlist along with his new friend Archie, he finally succumbs to the peer-pressure and enlists himself (which is another reason why many young people end up in wars). However he enlists reluctantly and is more realistic about what lays ahead for him.
(Spoilers)...The friendship between the two young men is very touching and is the centerpiece of the whole movie. When the two are inevitably sent to the trenches, the reality really begins to sink in for the Frank character. Finally at the very end, Archie's dreams of glory are dashed when he realizes that he's basically about to be used as nothing but cannon fodder for a very incompetently planned offensive.
This film doesn't have the gore that "Saving Private Ryan" or "Black Hawk Down" has, but the scenes of warfare are extremely disturbing and emotional nonetheless. The feeling of waste as wave after wave of troops are gunned down is gripping. Easily my favorite war film.
All the President's Men (1976)
An event that changed Journalism forever.
This is a very well made film. Many people have spoke against it for being too left wing, which I really don't see. There really is no debate or discussion in the film on the Nixon administration. I think people assume that since Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman are well known hollywood lefties, that this is a anti-Republican film.
The film realistically details the corruption that exists within politics and campaigning. I really don't believe that Woodward and Bernstien were exceptionally bright journalists (despite being aggressive) it seemed more like the people in question who were at the heart of this scandal (Liddy, Hunt, Halderman, Mitchell) just got very arrogant and sloppy and thought they were untouchable.
The film shows how aggresive these reporters have to be (almost crossing the line at being sleazy). It details the early stages of the Watergate scandel and the preliminary press releases and investigations that eventually brought down the entire Nixon administration. The film does this masterfullly...I loved the long sequence when Woodward is talking to Kenneth Dahlberg on the phone and trying to get him to reluctantly tell the truth and the verrrry slow closeup on Redford while the dialogue goes on. Jason Robards delivers a memorable performance as Post editor Ben Bradley.
It was the event of Watergate that changed all of the press from simple onlookers to dirt digging investigative reporters.
G.I. Jane (1997)
An ordeal to sit through.
This was the only Ridley Scott movie that I hadn't seen. I'd seen parts of it on TV but finally decided to watch it uncut. It's definately his worst film by far. The main character states "I don't wish to be a symbol for women's rights". However that's exactly what this movie is from beginning to end. While Scott's previous film "Thelma & Louise" dealt with the feminist cause in a more comedic and intelligent way, this film wears that message on it's sleeve in every frame.
Every scene with Demi Moore reminded me of that Frosted Flakes commercial..."Go show them you're a tiger, show them what you can do"...etc etc. You would think that Demi Moore, after doing so well in the early 90's then starring in the dud "Disclosure" then the embarrassment of "The Scarlett Letter" then the MAJOR embarassment of "Striptease" she would've picked something better than this. She was miscast anyway, as everyone knows from the beginning that Demi Moore is probably in much better shape than all her male co-stars (not good when you're trying to play an underdog).
Viggo Mortensen looks embarrassed in every scene that he's in. I don't know if they thought that having a grunt/drill sergeant quote lines from D.H. Lawrence was swift or something....it comes off as silly. James Caviezel in his small role is obnoxiously bad (where's Pontius Pilate when you need him). And what happened to Anne Bancroft's career, she's good in her role, but she's too good for this movie. The film is predictable from beginning to end. I felt sorry for Demi's boyfriend in the film...he seems far more rational and nicer than she is. And the whole ending seems like it was not only tacked on, but it was so lackluster and filmed so badly that you really didn't know who was shooting at who.
Anyway, there are some good shots of Demi Moore working out..but hardly worth enduring this movie.
Blade Runner (1982)
My Favorite Film.
This has been my favorite movie for as far back as I can remember. The production design is absolutley incredible (all done with models as this was before CGI). The special effects by Douglas Trumbull (2001, Close Encounters) still holds up well by todays standards. It has one of the greatest musical scores ever written by Vangelis. It represents Ridley Scott in his directorial prime. It's Harrison Ford's best film (Though he supposedly hates it because of the grueling stories behind it's production).
The film bombed during it's theatrical release as I think everyone expected a Harrison Ford action picture...there is some action, but it's mostly a more subtle film. There is a great running theme about who the Character of Deckard really is, and what is the real relationship between Roy (Rutger Haeur) and Deckard as well as various other undertones throughout the film. I hope they will give this movie a real DVD release (at least two discs) like it deserves.
3 Women (1977)
Great movie, finally out on DVD.
I remember first seeing this film on the A&E channel in the late 1980's. It grabbed my attention from the beginning and I ended up watching the whole thing.
Even though much of the film is deliberately meant to be ambiguous, I found it to be fascinating. I always interpreted it as a film about insecurity and the desire for the characters to be different people than what they really are. The Shelly Duvall character (Millie) is a nice person but she is not the social butterfly that she desperately wants to be. Despite Millies' delusions about herself, the Sissy Spacek character wants to be just like Millie because she seems to have no personality of her own. The Edgar character wants to be a tough guy/cowboy, but in reality is a burned-out drunk. I'm still somewhat confused as to how the Janice Rule character fits into the whole scheme.
This is one of the few films where you feel like you're watching real people and not just actors portraying people. It's amazing how a movie like "Charlie's Angels" which has three gorgeous females in it and a ton of action can be so boring, yet a movie like "3 Women" with three average looking females and almost no action can be so interesting.
Despite the bizarre ending (which I still don't fully understand). This is an excellent film.
My Favorite from the series (so far).
Why do people think that Episode V is better than this?? I know people don't like the Ewoks but despite that this installment had EVERYTHING. The original cast + Yoda + The Emperor + Jabba + Old Annakin. The ending is outstanding, it is ten times better than the ending of ESB (simply for the amount of things that take place). The special effects are better, the creatures are better, Princess Leia is less annoying. This is not only a great finale for this film by itself, but it's a great finale to the entire series.
I remember when I first saw this in the theater, it completely exceeded my expectations. Unlike the prequels that have been dissapointing both times. If I had to rank the films from best to worst it would be VI, IV, V, II, I.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
Tough to rate...even tougher to watch.
I'm not a religious person in general. I've never accepted Christ as my savior but at the same time I am not one who has any animosity towards Christianity. "The Passion" seemed like an important historical film as was "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan" and the controversy intrigued me. I arrived at the theater a little early...just in time to see the audience members from the previous screening filing out...over 100 people, all looking like they just had root canal work done....some with red eyes.
I watched this in the spirit of a believer. Jesus was the son of God and had the power of God. Even though he was being brutally tortured, he could have with a single thought, destroyed all the Roman soldiers, healed his body and walked away. Yet he had so much love for man, he took on the burden to save mankind from their sins.
Despite trying to watch this with a good attitude the film still felt somewhat flat (I won't get into the anti-semitic/Pilate arguments). There are some very moving scenes to be sure, but Mel Gibson seems so relentless in trying to show every scourging, nailing and beating in such close detail (often using slow motion) that he comes off as almost a ghoul. I know he was trying to be realistic as much as possible, but I couldn't help but feel that there was some exaggerating going on at the same time...however slight.
It may sound silly to expect character development in a movie like this but the audience is barely given the chance to get comfortable with the Gibson/Caveizel version of Christ before the long torture scenes begin. There are some flashback sequences but they seemed to be dwarfed by the torture scenes. I think it may have been better had Gibson cut the violent scenes down by 50% and substituted them with more of the teachings of Christ prior to his arrest.
The positives of the film are.... a realistic feel for the time period (not that I would know) with the Armaic and Latin languages. Gibson was wise to use unknown actors for the most part (not repeating the mistakes in films like "The Greatest Story Ever Told" where we get John Wayne playing a Roman Centurian). There are some moving moments between Jesus and Mary.
When this was over I really didn't feel I had gained anything from the experience as I had hoped. But at the same time I wouldn't tell someone not to go and see this. I guess I left with the feeling that I had just watched a slasher film instead of a religious, historical film, yet there were powerful moments that are memorable. I think the success of this movie will start a new trend of very bloody and realistic history movies (for better or worse).
*** out of ****
Has problems, but very intense atmosphere.
I've read many of the negative reviews here and I have to agree with many of the criticisms (it doesn't make any sense, some of the scenes seem incomprehensible, it's implausable, the dubbing is bad, etc.)
However despite that, I have to say this is a good horror film..simply for the fact that there are some very eerie sequences in it (which right away puts it above any horror film made today). In fact can anyone even name a recent horror movie that they were even remotely scared by??
The main strengths of the film are it's production design (after "The Shining" this is the best looking horror film I've ever seen). The lighting it very well done with the bathing of scenes in red, green and orange. Goblin's score is outstanding with the synthesizer and the wierd chanting. This would actually be the perfect movie for a Halloween party, people can laugh at it and be disturbed by it at the same time.
*** out of ****
Barry Lyndon (1975)
For me this film was always neck and neck with 2001: A Space Odessey. After viewing it again though this is now my favorite Kubrick film. The story is relatively simple. A young man goes out into the world and through some difficult experiences ends up turning into a cynical, self-centered ego-maniac, which also inevitably becomes his downfall.
Everything about this movie is outstanding. The narration is very well written (mostly taken directly from Thackery's novel). The dialouge is well written, it's well acted and the production design, costumes and especially music are first rate.
By the end of this film you actually start to hate the main character while sympathizing with him at the same time. Should have won best picture in 1975.
**** out of ****