Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
What a travesty!
Murder is easy is one of my favourite Christie novels. It does features neither Poirot nor Miss Marple, but a retired police officer, Luke Fitwilliam. It does also depict the unfurling of a wonderful grown up love story, between him and Bridget, a Gothic beauty with a past. Why, oh why, dispense with all of this and add Miss Marple to the mixture? And why change practically all the rest, so that nothing but the barest of bones are left of this wonderful, chilly story? To the authors: if you have run out of ideas, why not stick to the original story since Dame Agatha was the genius of the potboiler? Now, let's talk abut the acting. As usual, we have a pantheon of great British actors, but why bother if they are restricted to churning out these horribly stilted dialogues?
Please avoid like the plague if you are Christie fan.
Valmont and Dangerous Liaisons are two very different films....
I have just watched Valmont on DVD, after having seen it several times years ago when it was made. As they say with buses, you wait in vain for hours and then two come along! Strange coincidence having two films come out at the same time based on the same book, albeit two very different films.
I will start with my main "Valmont" gripe: you don't get to understand clearly why M.me De Merteuil is so upset with Valmont and does not want to "honour her bet". It's clear from both the book and the S. Frears' adaptation that Merteuil is told by Valmont that he's so smitten with M.me De Tourvel that he cannot give her up. That's why Merteuil's pride and jealousy are aroused and she "declares war" on her ex-lover, thus causing misery to him, herself and all involved. It is a tragedy, not only the tragedy of lost innocence, but death and suffering for all involved. Milos Forman's film takes the view that it's better to look at things from afar, so that they can be assessed from a safer perspective. Frears goes for close-ups, while Forman goes for the Barry Lindon approach: lots of candle-lit interiors, wonderful scenery and a story that takes its time to develop. So this is what I think about Valmont:
1) Colin Firth is a lovely Valmont and there's real chemistry with Meg Tilly's M.me De Tourvel.He looks the part, but I would have loved to have been given more background to his and Merteuil's story. Also, the film would have benefited from dwelling more on his affair with M.me De Tourvel
2) Annette Bening is great as Merteuil, albeit a tad too sadistic at times.
3) All the mise-en-scene is very impressive and every scene looks like a painting
4) The supporting cast are all very strong, with Fairuza Balk being a very credible Cecile (although if I were Cecile I would not be so distant to the charms of such a young and handsome Colin Firth....).
All in all, a very good film, but it feels slightly disjointed and the ending falls a bit flat. I'll give it an 8, because the production values are so very high and Milos Forman is a great director. If it had not been based on a book I know quite well, I probably would not have felt something was missing...
Brideshead Revisited (1981)
So beautiful it hurts....
I've finished watching the whole series on DVD last night. It is a wonderful and faithful adaptation of the E. Waugh's book and what can I say that's not already been said here? It's just so beautiful and sad that it hurts thinking about it... Jeremy Irons' performance, like a finely tuned instrument, has subtlety and passion in the same degree and Anthony Andrews' Sebastian is a study in charm and self-destruction that enthralls and saddens by its intensity. All the actors, no matter how small their role, were impressive and none of them gave overstated performances. Bravo to all involved in it and I'm pretty sure we'll never see anything like it on the small screen again. I shall treasure it and will re-watch it many, many times, I am sure! P.S. Et in Arcadia ego - Isn't this part of the story the most heart-rending depiction of love, innocence and happiness ever committed to screen?
Hard Candy (2005)
Paedophiles and Lolita
I was very disappointed by this film, especially since the beginning was so promising. Attractive 30 something photographer meets 14 year old girl through chat-room. She turns out to be a kind of avenger for all pedophiles victims and ends up by castrating him and pushing him to hang himself. It's a good idea to have the alleged pedophile played by a young attractive actor but that's about it. Things I found annoying: the girl was so infuriating that I would have liked to see her choke on one of her many wisecracks (like Grace Kelly in Dial M for Murder or Gwyneth Paltrow in just about any film, they are righteous and beautiful, but boy you just wanna squash them like flies). Why do you have to spoil what could be a thought provoking film with irony and smart-ass film references? I do not condone child molestation but I am very very suspicious of teenage girls from Lolita onwards (I am a woman in case you're wondering): violence is always wrong, but is it always violence? What about statutory rape? Isn't this some kind of a legal oxymoron? Ultimately, I would have appreciated a little more exploration of the grey areas that surround the concept of child sexuality and of the boundaries attached to the idea of "self-service" justice. I think a little less petulance and sarcasm and a little more empathy and silence would have helped... And, by the way, the cinematography was excellent, but so what? Any MTV director worth his salt could do the same or better. Conclusion: a missed opportunity.
Match Point (2005)
Match point...less (contains spoilers)
I have always been a bona fide Woody Allen fan, but I'm losing hope... This film is a mixture between "A place in the Sun" and Allen's own much superior "Crime and Misdemeanors", but it's got none of the raw edge and desperation of the first and even less of the humour noir of the second. It is set in London but (and I live in London) it does not at all look like it. The wealthy British family depicted is a gentile white upper class family, yet the son and daughter keep referring to their father as 'papa' which I believe is the norm in Jewish families but certainly out of place in this context. Apart from this, the family is so preposterously unbelievable, that they all seem to come out of some urban fairytale. The acting is appalling, especially Rhys-Meyers' and Johansson's, who seem to be suffering from toothache rather than swept away by passion. The fact that a tennis pro with the looks of Ryhs Meyers would love opera and succeed in the City is laughable and makes the characters played by Rock Hudson in the Sirk movies positively neorealistic! It's a horrible film, badly acted, and worst of all, going absolutely nowhere and with nothing to say that is real, insightful or even ironic. A total miss, Mr Allen.
Awful adaptation, nothing to do with the book
For some reason I can't quite figure out, I've always preferred this book to the admittedly superior "Murder on The Orient Express", maybe it's because it is lighter in tone and with a central love story that is quite moving and unglamorous. Derek Kettering falls for Katharine Grey, a woman of charm and moderate beauty, even though past her prime. The book consists of several interweaving stories all centered around a famous gem once owned by the Tsar's family. Exotic dancers, international thieves, American millionaires, the French Riviera, a reluctant English rose heiress, the book has it all. It's lurid, it's gripping, it's great fun! The film instead is just a muddle. The scriptwriters decided to change a few things about the relationship between the main characters,which were of paramount importance for the story's structure. Derek is now "in love with his wife", Mireille is a black (!!!) dancer with an illicit affair with Mr Van Aldin (!!!!) and Lady Tamplin turns up on the train (!!!!!). Why, oh why? At the end, I couldn't give a damn for any one of the characters... Incredibly bad acting, weird accents, too many plots ending nowhere... Don't bother, unless you are a dye hard fan.
Godawful mockumentary, beautifully shot but...
I watched this last night on Channel 4 and I consider myself very lucky that I do not suffer from diabetes! The amount of saccharine and sanctimonious feelings was hard to bear... I really preferred her when she was all about sex and pop. Now she has married one hit wonder Guy Ritchie (who by the way behaves like a merry macho man with a Peter Pan syndrome - a mixture that I think very unappealing), she has two kids and has embraced Kabbalah. So she's all about finding the meaning of things, taking responsibility, helping others, etc. It's all very well, but the thing is that she wants to bully other people (like those poor brawny/not brainy dancers) into doing and thinking what she does. The best parts of the film were the bits from her Re-invention tour, where we get to see the tension and the playfulness and the flawless organisation of the Madonna machinery. The worse were the feel-good moments: Madonna sings for her father (a catholic conformist if ever there was one - and she's totally in awe of him), Madonna goes to Israel and sings Imagine, Madonna writes a(cringing, cringing) poem for her assistant Angela, Madonna says a crying goodbye to her dancers, yada, yada, yada.... Conclusion: Madonna is a great star, she just shouldn't have shown us what lies behind the curtain of pop stardom.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
I was so prepared to hate it....
....but I was (partly) wrong.
It is certainly not THE perfect adaptation of the great Jane Austen's novel, but is has several redeeming features.
The cinematography, costumes and lighting are stunning and the general feel of earthiness and sensuousness is a real plus.
I was taken by surprise by the director's choice to go for a realistic approach to the life and times of Ms Austen. I think it's refreshing to finally see the difference between the Bingley palace and the Bennet muddy overcrowded household. It was not so apparent in previous versions.
The acting is good too. Kiera Knightley is wonderfully delicate and playful, even though she's nothing like the serene, witty and ultimately sensible Ms Lizzy of the book. And this new Darcy has nothing of the stately arrogance Colin Firth could master so well in the BBC adaptation. It was as if we were watching a kind of 'P&P the early years', as if the characters were portrayed at an even younger age. They are not as mature as we expect them to be. But probably this is because the film had to do a six hour job in just two hours and had to settle for zest instead of irony, for sexiness instead of passion. I thought that Sutherland was much too lovable and kind to be a believable Mr Bennet, but I found his performance heartwarming. The same can be said for Ms Blethyn's Mrs Bennet: she's much too down to earth and careworn for us to really be able to laugh at her, but her performance is topnotch. Normally in P&P the fun comes from Mr Collins, but this time we are sorry for him and pained at his shortcomings. Here, the fun comes from Bingley, a fresh faced, wide eyed, red haired bumbling idiot. The character seems to have traded bonhomie for plain idiocy. However, even though the luminous Jane loves him and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why, even though this passion seems to be born out of absolutely nothing but proximity for a couple of hours, I warmed to Bingley. Lydia and Wickham and the whole militia caboodle could have been dispensed with, as there's not even half the time to start caring about them.
As I said, I was prepared to be severely displeased (as Lady Catherine would say, a stately but ineffectual Judi Dench in Lady Bracknell-mode), but I wasn't. This great book has come to life again, albeit in a surprising new way.
Planet of the Apes (2001)
Awful remake of a classic
This film is so bad and pointless that I still can't understand how Tim Burton could have had anything to do with it. In the original film many issues were addressed, such as Darwinism versus religion, the problem of the environment, the impending menace of nuclear war, the downsides of scientific progress, etc. Here, the main issues seem to be the dichotomies good/evil, power/slavery. Charlton Heston made a wonderful tragic hero and the ending was so shocking that it still gives me the shivers just thinking about it. Mark Walhberg's acting is wooden and the new ending is absurd, although it seems it can be explained... but by such twists and turns of logic and probability that - frankly - why bother?
A total miss 1/10
The Italian Job (1969)
The film is OK, but...................................
Apart from the fact that the whole film is only an excuse for a bout of British jingoism, I wanted to point out 2 things: - in Turin Italians do not speak like Sicilians, neither do they behave like them. Turin is a northern Italian town where people are rather cold and do not shout around like a bunch of monkeys - In Turin the mafia does not exist, at least not in that cartoonish way depicted in the film. The "cosa nostra" going around killing people would be more like something you could find in the south.
Finally, I love Michael Caine and always enjoy watching him and the same goes for Noel Coward.