Reviews written by registered user
madcardinal

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55 reviews in total 
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The Furies (1950)
9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Say "No" To Cheesy Traditional Westerns By Saying "Yes" To The Furies, 6 September 2011
9/10

One of the best Westerns ever made. Superior to other films of its time because it possesses more realism and authenticity and shuns the silly, false and simplistic moralizing which was almost a requirement for American films of this period. This is a film about real, complex people involved is realistic, complex events. Film-maker Anthony Mann hailed from Great Britain - perhaps this had something to do with the unusual realism. Positives are: 1 - The beautiful cinematography alone is enough reason to rent. The lighting is superb, there is sumptuous use of darkness, and the twilight and night scenes are ravishingly beautiful. 2 - Strong, resourceful female characters instead of the usual phony, helpless, wilting flowers. These women are people in their own right, not merely appendages of some male character. 3 - The characters are an honest mix of good and bad qualities - not artificial cardboard cut-outs simplistically meant to serve as types. 4 - Minorities are portrayed as real people. The Mexicans are portrayed with sensitivity and understanding, instead of the usual condescending caricatures. 5 - Walter Huston, Barbara Stanwyck & Wendell Corey do an excellent job of bringing their characters to life. The other actors are solidly top drawer. 6 - Excellent story-telling at its finest. With repeated viewing, you see more deeply into the complex and surprisingly subtle motivations of the characters. The only negative is that the sensuality of real life was artificially pre-filtered out of the film; but in full fairness to "The Furies," this is true of all American films of this period, due to the de facto censorship which held sway at the time. In sum, a complex, vivid depiction of love, hate, greed, loyalty, betrayal, devotion, affirmation of life and the inexorability of death, as they course through the lives of real, breathing people. Anthony Mann was far ahead of his time in crafting this truthful gem. What a special achievement!

Pleasingly Sensuous, But Not Sensual, 4 September 2011
7/10

Film-maker Ang Lee scores a win with this film about a widower master chef and his three attractive 20-something daughters. "Eat Drink Man Woman" is a sensitive portrayal of emotional dynamics as the daughters wrestle with leaving the nest, whether physically or psychologically. In this somewhat stiff, formal family, people communicate - or fail to communicate - through food; and the viewer is treated to many sensuous culinary scenes. Yet as the movie progresses, we witness the characters' growing drive to verbalize what they mean and feel. The beauty of the daughters is depicted in a very restrained manner, so if you're looking for Chinese eroticism, best to look elsewhere. Give this fine movie a chance. "Eat Drink Man Woman" will have added appeal for most female viewers.

1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Can't Stand Up To Mel Brooks's Masterpiece, 4 July 2011
6/10

Although funny, "Blazing Saddles" suffers in comparison with "Young Frankenstein," which is one of the greatest films ever made. The humor here tends to be drier and there is less of it. My teenage daughter put it this way, "Westerns are not as good for comedy as horror films." I also found the frequent use of the "N" word to be distracting. I wonder how folks would take it if the situation was reversed: A black film-maker making a comedy in which the "H" word and "K" word were used to refer to a Jewish character. Can't think of any films like that. Can you? I still recommend this film for the moderately effective humor and the incredibly good performance by Madeline Kahn. What an incredible talent she was.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Screenwriter & Film-maker Spoil a Masterpiece With Unnecessary, Clever Complexities, 4 July 2011
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Fingersmith" is divided into two episodes, and it is truly a hit and miss film. While watching the first episode, I thought I was experiencing one of the finest films ever made - it developed like a Dickensian novella courageously and poetically weaving a tale of lesbian love. Until just before the end of the first episode, I was fully expecting to give "Fingersmith" my highest recommendation.

The organic kernel of the movie - as presented in the summary on this web site - is superb and of the highest quality. The movie goes off the tracks, however, at the very end of the first episode and never really gets back on track after that. There are too many plot twists which stretch the viewer's capability for suspension of disbelief past the breaking point. The film becomes much too impressed with its own cleverness and the second episode just feels inauthentic and overly contrived. It's almost an insult to the viewer's intelligence and a betrayal of the time so well invested up to that point. It also robs the film of its crux and primary dilemma, namely, after wrestling with her powerful feelings of love, her past loyalties and moral and ethical considerations, what decision will Sue Trinder make regarding the plan to defraud Maud?

There's no doubt about it, simpler would have been much much better in this case. Nine stars for the first episode. One star for the second episode. Five stars overall. This could have been so much better.

Get Real (1998)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Brits Know the Right Way To Go Gay, 3 July 2011
7/10

A very good movie. First of all, it avoids the ludicrous pitfall of thirty-somethings or twenty-somethings trying to play teenagers a la Olivia Newton John and John Travolta in "Grease". That kind of inauthentic casting has ruined the verisimilitude and integrity of far too many movies about young people. Roger Ebert once said only half jokingly that there should be a law that actors playing young adults or children must be the age of their characters; and judging from some of the untenable performances turned in by older actors in movies of this genre, I'm inclined to agree with him. All the actors playing teenagers in this movie are believable as teenagers, and this authenticity is a decided asset. I found this movie poignant, touching and aptly awkward in places. It reminded me of high school life. The director and actors achieve just the right mix of erotic longing, real-world constraints, uncertainty and the tension of trying to build a self in a complicated world. Not quite as superb as its close cousin, "Beautiful Thing," but very good nonetheless. Highly recommended to anyone fair-minded enough to appreciate a movie featuring gay characters.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The Sultry South, 3 July 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

An excellent movie. Considered very racy at the time of its release, today it is the excellent performances that stand out. Welles, Newman and Woodward are superb. There's one scene where Welles breaks a table (not in the script), and it's fantastic. All the other actors are very good. Plus Lee Remick is a wet dream come true for heterosexual young men.

And how can you go wrong with William Faulkner providing the source material?

Well written; stylish; and clever, simmering dialog. This film deserves its classic status.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Classic That Is Truly Great, 5 May 2011
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Walter Huston, Tim Holt and Humphrey Bogart star in this ideal film about two down-and-out Americans who team up with an old prospector to find gold in the wilds of Mexico. Throw in a cameo by acclaimed director John Huston, and what more can you ask for? Walter Huston turns in one of the best acting performances I've ever seen as the savvy old prospector who gives it one more try. Dreams of gold dazzle the imaginations of the characters played by Holt and Bogart; but as the wealth starts to build up amid the physical hardship, greed laboriously works its way into their hearts like a gila monster clambering into camp. Will The Lord play tricks on those who choose to follow the siren song of riches? Watch this movie and find out.

Mel Brooks & Cast Hit One Out of the Park, 4 May 2011
10/10

An excellent achievement by Mel Brooks and cast. This film is steadily funny throughout with everything from slapstick to subtle innuendo to a musical number to visual and verbal puns. Of course it's all the more enjoyable if you've seen the classic Frankenstein movies previously. In terms of cinematography, this black-and-white film is one of the best executed, most beautiful films imaginable. The mise-en-scene is exquisitely adept with opulent room settings filling the frame to the brim, a cobweb-strewn towering laboratory shot at oblique angles and even the use of a circular convex mirror to reveal action. The contrast range from the whitest white to the darkest black is incredible and the night scenes are breathtaking. All this in a movie that is actually funny! All the actors do a commendable job. Worth noting is Gene Hackman's brief standout performance as the blind man. Needless to say, no spoof/homage to the classic horror film will ever come close to this awesome achievement. This is probably one of the best films ever made and Mel Brooks can rest assured that it will be the vanguard of his legacy for generations to come.

Proves That Slasher Flicks Can Be Very Good, 2 May 2011
8/10

This film is to slasher flicks what "The Changeling" (1980) is to horror flicks: intelligent, somewhat reserved, and representing the cream of the crop for the genre. Can a low-gore slasher flick really work? You bet ya! Much better than most of the bloodbaths earning millions of dollars nowadays. "Black Christmas" is big on atmosphere and fear - but quite reserved regarding dismembered bodies and blood spatter. Also unusual for this genre, the acting is competent, and the potential victims are believable, likable characters - not insufferable morons. On top of all this, the fact that Olivia Hussey is in the cast makes this film a really good choice. Recommended.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Did Peter Brook Miss His Calling?, 1 May 2011
5/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lord of the Flies (1963) has two things going for it: 1) It is actually faithful to the novel it's based on - a rare achievement in cinema. 2) The film features beautiful black-and-white shots with a pleasing dose of chiaroscuro. The cinematography of juxtaposing the human face and body with water, sand, rock formations and night sky is a visual triumph.

Did director Peter Brook miss his calling? Seems to me he would have made a superb photographer. A scene in which a dead boy is slowly, gently turned over by seawater achieves an odd beauty that is almost sacramental. Stills from this scene could legitimately hang in the finest art museums. Also, some of the facial close-ups reminded me of the photography of Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Ultimately, however, motion picture films cannot be judged as if they were photography exhibits. This slow-moving, somewhat ponderous film can be difficult to watch at times. In the dialog, there are often unnaturally long gaps between questions and answers. The boys sometimes seem to be speaking through a mental haze, the sound quality is poor, and the pacing of the action also seems to be poorly thought out at times. Scenes of conflict lack some of the grit and intensity they require.

For those who really want to see a film version of William Golding's classic novel, this black-and-white movie, with all its flaws, is substantially better than the American color remake in all ways except sound quality.


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