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La peau douce (1964)
Love is sweet and bitter. Honeymoon becomes Bittermoon.
For starters, this movie wasn't really all that successful when it first came out. Things have changed since but I think that much of the people who see it today probably wouldn't if it wasn't for the prestige the director's name enjoys today. If you wanna know what I think, it's superior to the okay but mildly disappointing 'Jules et Jim'.
This is a movie that I'd recommend to all men who can't be loyal to their girlfriends/wives. I can recommend it for two reasons, depending on each case: to men who are aware of their lack of loyalty but can't stop and yet want to learn something from that ; or to men who simply don't want to get married and have kids or don't care about taking affairs with women seriously.
This movie is well directed, fun, romantic and at the same a harsh and almost sick movie about love. The ending is so harsh and shocking, proving how love can turn to hate and just how sick love can get.
Jean Desailly and Françoise Dorléac are superb in their respective roles and despite their age difference of 20+ years they have a perfect chemistry.
This should definitely be on Top 250.
La femme d'à côté (1981)
There are movies that make you want to fall in love. This isn't one of them.
Although not too extreme, this is a harsh and nearly sick movie about love. Or, to be more precise, the dark side of love. It starts off as a perfectly normal movie: an ordinary man named Bernard Coudray lives with his wife and his innocent son Thomas. This family leads a normal life, plus Bernard doesn't seem to be the kind of guy who looks for problems where they don't exist. That is, until Mathilde (an ex-lover) unexpectedly becomes his neighbor. Seemingly concerned with her presence, Bernard avoids her at first, but it doesn't take much time until their affair begins... a strange and completely crazy love affair, I'll say! Not even these two people understand their love/hate relationship. It's as if they can't be with each other and yet they can't be without each other.
Overall, an okay movie but far from being great. It affects you in some way, however, as most Truffaut's films do somehow. The most affecting part of this one is the tragic ending. The sick side of love in this movie alone is enough to make you fear falling in love but the ending definitely scares you off from that.
A young Gérard Depardieu stars here in one of his best actings and movie roles and, unlike in much later movies, here he is perfectly normal and doesn't overact and isn't annoying. Fanny Ardant is great too. Véronique Silver plays well the interesting character Madame Jouve and Olivier Becquaert is excellent as sweet little Thomas.
Star Trek (1966)
The TV show of the future
Even before the visionary film (and extraordinary) '2001: A Space Odyssey', we had this TV show 'Star Trek' created by the visionary Gene Roddenberry. It's one of those nostalgic TV shows about space adventures and stuff like that. I'm not even from the 60's, but I remember this well from my childhood. It was so popular even in my time that I must say I'm surprised that it wasn't very successful in its early years of existence. I guess that's a cross which many visionary things carry at first, until time is kinder to them.
This was a great show: magical, authentic, futuristic, with a great opening that shows us great images of space, a wonderful opening music and a memorable opening line:
«Space: The final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: To explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.»
Battlestar Galactica (1978)
One of those nostalgic "space mania" TV shows of the late 70's
Who, having grown up at the time, can ever forget the good old days, when TV shows like this were the ultimate scream of fashion?
I wasn't even born in the 70's, but I still remember very well that in the early 90's TV often aired TV series like this, which now looking back were made before my time but as a child I didn't know that fact nor do I cared.
'Battlestar Galactica' was created by Glen A. Larson, who also created 'Knight Rider', another TV series from my childhood.
Now, looking at it through an adult's perspective, it is lesser great than it was in the days of innocence, but still 'Battlestar Gallactica' shines in nostalgia. Although some episodes were better than others and they always had their flaws, the show really gives that feeling of nostalgia. If not perfect, at least it is authentic. It is from a time when things were real, when things had a special magic. The opening, for example, is fantastic, with those spectacular images of space and space wars. The opening music too is absolutely wonderful, and that opening quote is memorable:
«There are those who believe that life here began out there, far across the universe, with tribes of humans who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians, or the Toltecs, or the Mayans. Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man who even now fight to survive somewhere beyond the heavens.»
Like I said, it's by no means a perfect TV show. But the action scenes and their delicious sounds, the special effects, the space backgrounds... ahhh.... it's all so authentic and perfect (as it should be), without any of the excessive action and explosive noise seen these days.
It starred Lorne Greene as Commander Adama, Richard Hatch as Captain Apollo and Dirk Benedict as Lt. Starbuck, all of them great. Most of these episodes also had Noah Hathaway in a minor role as Boxey, Apollo's little son. Boxey is the cute little tyke. Him and his Muffit. This was a few years before he "became" Atreyu. Too bad Boxey doesn't have a bigger role.
Inevitably, this TV series resembles '2001: A Space Odyssey', 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars'. It was even accused of plagiarism when 'Star Wars' itself heavily drank ideas from an early 70's film called 'Silent Running'.
A major achievement in the late 20's
Considering the good reputation this vintage classic enjoys today, it's a little strange to think that in its heyday its popularity was restrict. I don't think it was because people weren't prepared for such a revolutionary movie. As far as I know, even then few were the ones who weren't marveled with the futuristic and highly stylish visuals. I can't say for sure, but I think it was because it combined futuristic scenarios with still primitive cinema techniques (which were what was available at the time). And quite honestly, the ancient cinema techniques is the aspect which this film is most dated. The stunning futuristic visuals haven't aged at all. I'd dare to say that they wouldn't do ugly now. They are still surprisingly fresh even for today's standards: the "avant-garde" mega-city of Metropolis and the fantastic Tower of Babel, all part of the director's vision for the future.
The final cost would probably be far from being overly expensive today, but for 1927 this was a very costly film to make, which you can tell from its advanced ideas.
Some futurisms aside, this movie is not for everyone because it is very old, silent and in black and white. Adding to all that, it is very long and can be quite repetitive. A movie with these characteristics this long can push some to the limits of their patience. One has to have in mind that "nobody" watches movies like this these days.
Aside the greatness of the futuristic stuff, the best thing is the sequence of the overflown reservoirs and inundations caused by it, putting many children in danger who are rescued in time before any disgrace.
The movie has become unexpectedly famous over time. To prove how much its popularity grew over time, let me just say that musical artists like Queen in the videoclip for the song "Radio Ga Ga" and Madonna in the videoclip for the song "Express Yourself" payed some homage to it in slight details of inspiration.
Wasn't much of a movie
My knowledge on Russian cinema is almost non-existent. To be frank, this was the second Russian film I've ever seen - the first one was 'The Mirror' (1975).
When I saw 'The Mirror', I considered it a somewhat frustrating experience as my introduction to Russian cinema, although it wasn't a bad movie. This one, 'The Return' (2003), was something of another disappointment.
Why was this movie rewarded the way it was is a mystery to me. Notice this: I am not saying this is a bad film. It is by no means a bad movie, it just isn't what I expected.
There is a big deal of crude scenario in the movie, but when the cinematography is beautiful, it really is amazing. And adding to the fantastic landscapes, the camera films it all beautifully.
Then, where did the film fail? The story is the Aquiles's heel. The movie starts very well and promising, especially in the opening scene. But soon it turns out to be a somewhat boring story: after a fight between two brothers, their father comes out of nowhere after having been gone for 12 years. He sleeps before the boys even come back, which doesn't sound very correct. When he wakes up, he doesn't even make a proper self-introduction to the boys and just wants to take them on a holiday and during the trip he shows strange ways to make up for the lost time. It's as if he wants them to be men immediately. Apparently he loves his sons but he doesn't know how to show them love and he has strange ways of showing love. He is emotionally distant and cold, authoritarian and sometimes aggressive. Plus, he seems to get bothered by talking of his past because he doesn't give any proper answers on that matter. Despite all of that, the older son accepts him, while the younger son is highly suspicious of him. Although the younger son has a stupid fit about the food, in other things he is right of being suspicious. Like he says, the guy could even be a gangster. After all, they know nothing about him. Another problem with the film is that it doesn't provide any answers. There are so many unanswered questions, like where has the father been all that time. Why was he gone for 12 years. Why didn't he ever visit his kids. Why didn't he even phone them or write them. Why doesn't he like to talk about his past. Why is he so harsh. What is he up to in his holiday with the boys. Only before his accidental death he (apparently) shows some compassion on the boys, but that's only after a highly suspicious attitude of his, which makes me wonder if his reaction just before his death is supposed to be believable or not.
The boys are well portrayed by the actors. Sad about the early passing of the older one in real life, though. The mysterious father is well portrayed by the actor, a José Mourinho look-alike.
Douro, Faina Fluvial (1931)
An honest first effort by Manoel de Oliveira
I believe this is something of an experimental short film/documentary by the director Manoel de Oliveira, but for a first effort the result is satisfying. It basically isn't much more than a portrait of labor and industry around Douro River in the city of Porto, but it stands alone for its innovative filming techniques which attempt to capture as many images and areas of the city as possible - something that could be described as cinematographic liberty.
On paper, the idea of this 'Douro, Faina Fluvial' is simple and even minimalist. Still, it offers things which many so-called more "complete" movies don't, starting with the cinematographic liberty I mentioned.
Le voyage dans la lune (1902)
Probably cinema's first serious achievement
In late 19th century, a french magician stunned the world with his remarkable techniques of magic. In early 20th century, he took his magician talents and put them in a short film, at the same time proving he had talent and vision for cinema.
Although made in a time when cinema was still in its infancy, when it was very ancient, the result was something to be taken seriously. The silence doesn't harm the expressiveness of the plot. The sceneries are terrific for the time, the effects are very advanced for the time, the details are.........
The iconic image of the spaceship hitting the Moon's eye has become its trade mark and is clearly comical, which compensates the fact that it is very old-fashioned and even almost childish. Nevertheless, for something this elderly, it is amusing.
Germania, anno zero (1948)
Sad movie about the post-Holocaust
Saw this film unaware that it is part of a trilogy, let alone that it is the final effort of such trilogy. The story is set in Germany, in the difficult years after the war. The injuries of the war are well visible, with all those buildings in ruins and the general poverty. Other than a portrait of that very dark age, this film tells the story of German child Edmund Kohler and his life in family and not only. Edmund and his family are among the war's survivors.
In many ways, this movie has little to distinguish it from other post-war movies and lacks an effective combination of plot and pacing strength. There are moments when that works, such as when Edmund wanders through the ruins of Berlin, including a church if I'm not mistaken. But otherwise it doesn't really work that well.
The ending is the strongest and harshest part of the movie. It's memorable and well filmed, but so depressing. Edmund poisons his own father as a way to put an end to his suffering. Edmund feels horrible about what he did and can't take anymore, committing suicide by throwing himself from a building.
The cast does what they should for their roles, but Edmund Moeschke is the best of the bunch thanks to his strong portrayal of Edmund Kohler.
Could have been a great movie, but it wasn't to be.
Theorically, this Italian film had the ingredients to be great. An interesting story, a talented cast, beautiful women, gorgeous Italian cinematography and a great musical score. The movie starts well, with a yacht trip, involving events, stunning settings and the Italian "babes" of the time Monica Vitti and Lea Massari. Also, later in the movie there are wonderful settings in Italy and an interesting story of romance.
Unfortunately the movie can't manage to totally captivate. It wastes too much time in a plot with little strength which has little to do with it and don't help to create a truly memorable film. Besides, the pacing is somewhat slow, or maybe it's just the movie that is too long for its pacing and flaws. It's a long movie, but that could be compensated if only it was as good as its runtime is big. Perhaps the way how the narrative structure is made is another problem and the story doesn't appear to be very well solved. Another thing I don't particularly appreciate is its apparent "feminism", as well as the fact that it portrays women as hopelessly complicated - they are, they really are, I know, but...
Opinions on this seem to be divisive. Some see it as one of the finest ever, while others have more reservations (myself included). I can see why in both sides and I understand both sides - after all, opinions are valid.
Gabriele Ferzetti, Monica Vitti and Lea Massari are great as Sandro, Claudia and Anna, respectively.