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The Square (2008)
Coen Brothers Safe
As one of those who saw the premiere of this film at the Sydney Film Festival, I can assure you if I was on the "edgerton" of my seat, it was in disbelief as implausibility piled upon implausibility until the film collapsed under their weight.
The film started well, and for a while I was happy to go along with the well-worn Noir formula of the small crime that goes wrong, and all attempts to cover it up only make things worse for the illicit lovers, and the crimes get bigger and bigger. But they also get stupider and stupider, until you just feel your intelligence is being insulted. If, as bilingizard seems to be suggesting, black humour of the order of the Coen Brothers was being attempted, then I suggest some wit (other than that involving the fate of the dogs) should have been attempted. Nor do I think David Roberts was an acceptable lead. The character was dour and unpleasant from the beginning (making it hard to care what happened to him and his paramour) and the performance added no light or shade or leavenings of humanity.
I agree it looks good, and the direction is stylish. But the plot is not just full of holes, but sinkholes that suddenly open up under the feet of the characters, and the audience.
Beyond Therapy (1987)
I agree with the other posters. I directed the Australian premiere of this play back in 1983, and just LOVED it and all of Christopher Durang's works (I also directed 'Dentity Crisis). So when I saw that one of my favourite directors of all time, Robert Altman, was making the film version, AND it had people like Glenda Jackson, Julie Hagerty, Tom Conti etc in it, I was agog with anticipation. It was probably my biggest disappointment in the cinema.
What is it about Altman that he seems to make a real turkey about once or twice a decade, in between all the wonderful films he makes?
What I can't understand is how Christopher Durang allowed his name to be credited as screenplay writer, when it's a travesty of his play. Especially what was done to the two psychiatrist characters..
And why set such a New York story in Paris/
And why ... and why .... oh forget it.
Cat and Dupli-cat (1967)
Jerry and Sylvester?
Just caught this the other day, and somehow, had not been aware that Chuck Jones, Michael Maltese and Mel Blanc had tried to revive the theatrical Tom and Jerry cartoons in the sixties. While not nearly as good as the cat and mouse's Hanna-Barbara heyday of the 40s and 50s, judging by this cartoon, they certainly put some of the life back in the franchise.
And how do they do it? By applying the Tweety and Sylvester formula that worked so well while they were at Warner Bros. (although, admittedly, I don't think Jones had much to do with those cartoons, leaving them mainly to Friz Freleng.)
Anyway, an amusing enough short, and a great improvement on the ones that were produced between Hanna-Barabara's departure for television, and Chuck Jones' arrival. I give it a 6.
MODERATE SPOILERS Occasionally, you catch a silent film that makes you realise just what a marvellous art form they were, and just how different to talkies. This is one of them.
Early on, you might shudder at the tired old set-up -- basically decent man seduced away from Virtuous Wife by Femme Fatale --while still admiring the photography and art direction etc.
But once the husband and wife reach the city, and rediscover themselves, it becomes one of the most charming films you could ever see, talking, silent, colour, monochrome, whatever.
Janet Gaynor and George O'Brien make an ideal screen couple, and their adventures together in the town are so funny and touching and tender, you will so want them to work out their differences and stay together.
The last section of the film returns to the melodramatic -- almost bathetic tone -- that we tend to stigmatise silent films as wallowing in, but by this time, you identify so strongly with the characters, that you are completely caught up, and prepared to forgive the fact that dramatic tastes were different eighty years ago.
And the film looks like one of the most beautifully lit gems the cinema has ever seen from beginning to end.
This film would have to vie with "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" as the most pretentious science fiction movie ever.
What is it about sf films that make them think that, no matter how puerile or obvious or mundane the "revelations" they make are, just because they're sf they're automatically "deep and meaningful"? But if the same truisms were put forward in any other genre, they'd be laughed off the screen.
Sure, it's technically impressive, and sure, Jodie Foster is (as always)good, but is Robert Zemeckis really the man to try to convince us we're seeing Deep Thoughts? I don't know how convincing Carl Sagan's book is, I suspect print would be a better medium for what he's saying, but the movie? Sorry, we've lost Contact.
Les invasions barbares (2003)
Aaah, a film with wit, humanity, intelligence, characters to care about, philosophy, politics, social commentary and family dramas, all without a special effect in sight.
A film for adults. A film to make you think.
Wonderful script, gorgeous photography.
What's not to like?
Now I must seek out The Decline of the American Empire, which I always thought sounded too intellectual and pretentious for a pleb like me, but now I want to fill in all the back-story on the characters. (But I refuse to call it a "prequel")
You Dirty Rats
One of the most repellent films I've ever seen, and a travesty of the original. I was a Brian de Palma fan up till this film, and to my way of thinking, he's never recovered from it.
It also marks a low point in Al Pacino's career, his most indulgent, excessive performance ever, but at least he bounced back. He not only makes Paul Muni look great in the original, he even makes George Raft look good.
The whole film looks like de Palma, Pacino, and everyone else involved in it, stuck too much of that white powder that figures so prominently up their noses. A metaphor for 80s indulgence.
Q Planes (1939)
Heaps of fun
The young Oliver and Richardson -- especially Richardson -- are obviously having a ball in this mix of spies, high adventure, and tongue in cheek comedy According to Michael Powell, the two stars tore up the script, and devised their own scenes, and the pleasure they have in sending up the material, and in each other's work, shines through. (In fact, once or twice, Oliver seems to be trying not to crack up at Richardson's antics.) Patrick Macnee says he based The Avengers' John Steed on Richardson's character in this film, and that, too, shows. Thrills, spills,secret rays, gags and eccentric British characters, and villains from a country suspiciously reminiscent of Germany, but not named in 1938.
In the Cut (2003)
Obviously Cuts Too Deep for Some
Deary me, some people get upset when a film isn't what they want it to be, don't they? How dare the film be what the film-makers set out to make, instead of what someone's narrow expectations dictate it should b?
Fancy In the Cut being gritty, seamy, sexy and deeply disturbing ... just like all the publicity (and the rating) warned us it would be. What a shock. How did the people expecting another Piano, or Meg Ryan Finds True Love Yet Again ever find themselves in the cinema?
As for those who have said they have walked out completely unmoved ... either they must be aliens or robots, or are fooling themselves, not wanting to acknowledge the truth of what they've seen on the screen. Seldom have I seen a film that so truly examines the dark side of our sexual impulses. I walked out quite shattered, and wandered around in a daze for a while.
Meg Ryan completely miscast? Ridiculous and insulting. How dare you tell an actress she has to be Little Mary Sunshine for the rest of her life. And she pulls it off brilliantly. She and Mark Ruffalo give the most stunning lead performances for a long time. Why? Because they're playing real, multi-layered people. Not goody-goodies or baddy-baddies.
Didn't like any of the characters? Must have a very limited range of acquaintances, or alternatively, don't like the real people you do know.
Thriller plot not thrilling? Admittedly it's not the strongest point in the film, but it has all the required shocks and surprises (and, you'd think enough gore for the modern audience), and while the revelation of the murderer is not the biggest twist ending ever, the final shot takes your breath away.
And anyway, Campion, while handling the thriller genre competently, is using it as a means to explore sexuality. And attraction. And how much of love involves physicality, carnality, trust, the desire to dominate, the desire to be dominated, and above all, the attraction of the DANGEROUS. Yes, adult stuff, not often tackled in mainstream films.
I think it's her best film ever (possibly excepting Sweetie), and I give it 9 out of 10.
The Lady Eve (1941)
A second viewing of this after many years has confirmed it as truly one of the great comedies. I don't think Sturges was ever better (although I haven't seen all his films), and certainly he was never blessed with a better star pairing than Fonda and Stanwyck, plus his usual wonderful array of character comedians in the supporting roles. A double bill of Eve with "Hail the Conquering Hero" reveals that, while both still have their charms, Eve can still have a theatre rocking with laughter, while Hero leaves them a bit cold with its descent into Capra-cornish patriotism and mother love.
The Lady Eve has one of my favourite performances ever from Henry Fonda, showing that his grave sincerity could serve screwball comedy equally as well as Fordian moral uplift. He takes some of the funniest deadpan pratfalls this side of Buster Keaton.
And of course Stanwyck is a delight ... and Charles Coburn ... and Eugene Pallette ... and William Demarest ... and ... and ... ssshhh ... Eric Blore.
If you've never seen it, give yourself a treat