Reviews written by registered user
|57 reviews in total|
Superb collection of vignettes in the daily life of the people of Naples, lensed by a master director. Six separate stories, all with wonderful characters, including one starring De Sica himself as a frustrated Count, ready to wager the family silver and country estates in a desperate attempt to win an ongoing card game against an unbeatable street urchin. The movie begins with the tale of a downtrodden family man who rebels against his low-level, mob-boss bully of a lodger, setting his family free -- but at what cost? Funny, but also disturbing. One of the stories a touching, virtually wordless tale of a heartbroken mother accompanying her child's coffin to the cemetery, together with a crowd of children, unaware of the real tragedy, only interested in candy. The most dramatic piece starring Silvana Mangano as a prostitute tricked into a loveless marriage by a wealthy man atoning for the suicide of his true love. The stand-out story, a delightful tale of an adulterous pizza maker, Sophia Loren, desperately in search of an emerald ring, supposedly baked into a pizza, but in reality left on her lover's nightstand. This film is worth watching for one scene alone, watching Loren stride down the street in the rain, followed by her cuckolded husband. If ever one scene in a movie made a star then this is it. Obviously not wearing a bra, Loren's breasts fill the screen and De Sica, full of mischief, follows her every move, both from front and behind in a gorgeous, gorgeous display of Loren's twenty year old sensuality. One of those knockout scenes that belongs to film history. The last vignette, an arrogant landlord, bully to all his tenants, humiliated by them when they all in unison blow a Bronx cheer as he passes by. A trifle, but brilliantly set up and performed with cheeky perfection. What this movie also offers is the sense of reality, a total lack of artifice and lack of studio sets, all in the style of the Bicycle Thief, another of De Sica's masterpieces, filmed on the streets. One's heart aches for the passing of such a talented actor and director. This is a movie that demands to be released in a full version, not the shortened American one, in a decent and respectable DVD. Can't Criterion get hold of this somehow? MovIe lovers deserve to be able to enjoy every minute of this delight. Hats off to De Sica and all involved!
The Broken Tower is the type of movie one generally sees at minor film
festivals and thence disappears into the darkness, never to be seen
again. Having said that, one should never dismiss such honorable
efforts simply because there is no vast audience for a film that has no
special effects, extra terrestrials, car chases or gunplay (which would
exclude most European movies.) Oh and yes, it's in black and white and
concerns Hart Crane, a gay poet in the 1920's who killed himself at
James Franco wrote and directed this movie, which comes across as an experimental film from a student still with much to learn. (Not knocking it, merely an observation, which is open to argument.) What the movie lacks most of all is an introduction to the many people whom Crane came into contact with during his life (from literary and social critic Waldo Frank - HUGE in his observations on American Society, to writer Malcolm Cowley and his painter-wife Peggy (Crane's only heterosexual love affair), painter Georgia O'Keefe and her husband Alfred Stieglitz, introducing Crane to Literary New York in the shape of Eugene O'Neill.) And other major influences in his life, Caresse and Harry Crosby (publishers of the Black Sun Press in Paris, who first brought recognition to William Burroughs, James Joyce etc, whose works were considered too obscene to be published in America.) WHERE is the scene where Harry Crosby (nephew of J.P. Morgan) considered the model for the Great Gatsby and the acknowledged epitome of drug-fueled extravagance and irresponsible behaviour in the 1920's, murders his mistress and kills himself while Hart is obliviously having dinner with Caresse? And what about Emil Opffer, Crane's one great love, for whom he wrote the suite of poems VOYAGES, which drop into the movie with flat readings, completely unbolstered by imaginative visuals? Nothing about Opffer's background, his family's flight from assassination in Denmark or Opffer's own experiences during World War 1. And what about Crane's mother's mental instability, her rejection of him for his homosexuality and threats to expose his sexual preferences to his father? And the meeting between Crane and Federico Garcia Lorca in 1929? Two doomed poets, both homosexual, totally unalike but both critical of American Society in the 1920's, although Crane's love for his country was absolute and eternal.
The Broken Tower does illustrate the difficulties of Crane's poetry, which in his own words is described as "A jazz roof garden method, evolved from a pseudo-symphonic construction, of an abstract beauty that has not been done before in the English language. A kind of metaphysical quotidian combination". (Wow!) At the time Crane's poetry was more appreciated outside of the United States than within. (The London Times: "Mr Crane reveals a profound originality in lines of arresting and luminous quality", whereas in the New York Saturday Review, "Mr. Crane rapes language under the impression he is paying it the highest compliment".) Poet Marianne Moore, who printed some of Crane's earliest poems, found them so impenetrable that she rewrote them without Crane's permission, an act of betrayal that devastated him.
What Crane was aiming for with his poetry was an Elizabethan accent on the American scene, drawn from the example of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, but rejecting Eliot's whole-hearted pessimism. Crane believed in America as the bridge to the future through mechanisation and he tried to infuse this in his poetry. What he ended up with was a mass of images that were so dense in their construction that the uninitiated reader would find them impossible to navigate. Crane believed in starting the journey for the reader, but forcing them to complete it on their own, which inevitably led to a great deal of frustration.
The Broken Tower is divided into various "Voyages", supposedly designed to illustrate the major events in Crane's life, drawing ever closer to his suicide. These are introduced by cue cards. For example "Hart Crane goes to Cuba" -- and we see him taking a long, long walk down a street somewhere. Or "Hart Crane goes to Mexico" -- and we see him singing in a bar with a Mexican guitarist. The pivotal moments in his life simply fail to materialize. While his alcoholism and poverty are well documented, and figure in the movie, so many other incidents are missing. The fact that he left America when the Great Depression hit, the fact that he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship that enabled him to live in Mexico during this period, but was threatened with withdrawal due to his erratic behaviour and public intoxication, is nowhere to be seen.
Another screenplay, entitled HART CRANE, written in 2008, can be found on www.simplyscripts.com and covers all the main incidents in Crane's life. Unfortunately, while it might be of interest to anyone seeking a fuller and more coherent version of Crane's life, it is unlikely ever to see the light of day due to the release of The Broken Tower.
Summing up, James Franco deserves kudos for having tackled such a difficult and uncommercial subject. Certainly an original interpretation of a problematical character, the chasms that exist between each "Voyage" and the lack of depth in the main character (due to the absence of any interaction with the main movers and shakers in his life) make it highly unlikely that this movie will have any lasting effect or figure in any revival. However, if this movie interests anyone enough to seek out Crane's poetry, then that is everything one can wish for -- and grateful thanks to James Franco for that.
As a fan of Antonio Resines, I wanted to like this movie. A talented actor in both comedy and drama, he has to work hard in this one. The most one can say is that the movie is a confused mess that simply cannot make up its mind just what it wants to be. Is it a buddy movie? A comedy? A crime caper? The story is all over the place and is hard to follow. So many disparate elements that fail to come together. Yes, there are a few laughs here and there but the violent aspects quickly demolish these. The story appeared to be thrown together as the film-makers actually made the movie. Nothing is believable and the story quickly wears out its welcome. An unfortunate misfire. Give it a miss.
Boy, what a fantastic charmer of a movie! Beautifully written with dialog that is so deceptively easy. Absolutely deadpan comedy that is hysterical to watch. The story of Joaquin, his family and friends and the girl he falls in love with. The entire plot revolves around a piano that must be sequestered in Joaquin's grandparents house in order not to be seized by the courts in payment for the collapse of Joaquin's father's business. Everything that can go wrong. does go wrong and the piano is progressively destroyed throughout the movie. Fantastic performances from the talented young cast, terrific star power at work here. Funny, funny, funny scenes with voice overs contradicting the actual dialog being spoken. Beautifully directed, unexpected twists and turns in a nonlinear storyline that is charmingly flaky. Wonderfully original. If you want something that is completely different to the usual dreck of adolescent screw-ups seen in American cinema then get your hands on this one. An absolute delight!
Always a pleasure to see anything new coming out of Latin America, Argentina is one of the most talented countries when it comes to film production. Una Noche Con Sabrina Love has two of the Spanish speaking world's greatest actresses in Cecilia Roth and Norma Aleandro. Alas, the latter is woefully under-used in a role as a photographer that she fleshes out way beyond its worthiness. Aleandro glows off the screen with sheer star power but essentially has very little to do. Cecilia Roth sinks her teeth into the role of porn star Sabrina Love who gives one night of passion to the virginal seventeen year old Daniel, who writes to her from his small village in the country and wins one night in her arms. With a series of picaresque adventures before he arrives in Buenos Aires, Daniel reconnects with the secretly gay brother he has not seen for three years. Without having read the source material of the book on which this movie is based, one has an expectation that the picaresque adventures will continue. Alas, the story gets bogged down in heavy-handed philosophical discussion that should have been tossed out of the window. This is one very obvious instance in which the screenwriter should have stepped away from the source material. There is a lot of very good acting talent at work here, specifically from the two lead actresses, but as the character of Daniel (ably interpreted by Tomas Fonzi) is the focus of the story, there should have been more opportunity for his character to experience a wider range of emotions. One wonders how Fellini might have handled a coming of age story like this. Not a complete failure, but when the movie has the title One Night With Sabrina Love, one could be forgiven for wanting to see how the encounter between the porn star and the inexperienced young guy would affect her as much as him. It would certainly have given Cecilia Roth a greater opportunity, which she unquestionably would have soared with. An interesting movie with a few disappointing longeurs along the way. Could have been better with a more skilfully written script. Just because the book is good doesn't mean to say that the script should stay faithful.
Mel Gibson waited seven years before stepping back in front of the camera. He should have waited for better material. Edge of Darkness is utterly grim and humorless and plods along with threats of danger that never seem to materialize. What action there is rears its head at the most absurd and inappropriate moments, action for the sake of action, without rhyme or reason. Scenes clunk along with endless explanations, threats of this and that that leave one scratching one's head with bewilderment. Mel has been around too long to ever be boring as an actor but the material given him here had the audience I was sitting with giggling at the phony ridiculousness of it all. If you ever saw the classic SILKWOOD, which was ten times more absorbing than this outing, then you pretty much have the whole story in a nutshell. When Mel discovers a Geiger counter in his daughter's apartment and finds a lock of her hair is radioactive, then you might as well get up out of your seat and leave the theater as everything that follows is utterly predictable. Ray Winstone, as a government operative muttering threats against Mel's investigation into his daughter's death, is virtually incomprehensible in his scenes. The ultimate disclosure behind Mel's daughter's murder is so unconvincing, one wonders if the screenwriter's maiden aunt suggested it when he was stuck for an idea. If there is one word to be used in describing this movie then it is "predictable". Two words: "phony and predictable". Mel, you're a great guy to spend time with but give us something better next time.
The overload of sugar in this movie would kill a truckload of diabetics. Dreadful, dreadful dialog that would make the regular viewer cringe with embarrassment. Watching the hugely talented Peter O'Toole in this movie makes one hope that he never has to watch this or ever again have to descend to this level to make a living. For this particular viewer, the only thought that went through my mind was, please somebody hand me a fork so I can stick it in my eyes. This is a movie made for old ladies who live alone with a houseful of cats. If Thomas Kinkade has a story to tell, then he needs a much more gifted writer to bring it to fruition. This is a movie that would reduce even the most sympathetic of souls to batter their head on the coffee table in utter despair. Watching Peter O'Toole, who does everything but wear a sandwich board saying, "My character is going to die very soon", one prays that he will just peg out so that one will no longer have to observe the depths to which he has sunk in acting in this tripe. A definite miss.
Give me back the hour and forty minutes I wasted on this tripe! You won't sleep after watching it? Well, guess what, this viewer almost fell asleep during the endless longuers of waiting for the sound of footsteps (again and again) or yet ANOTHER bump in the night that went nowhere. Ohmygod, a swinging chandelier??? Okay, so where's the monkey that set it in motion? Gee, must have been somebody with a long stick. The two lead actors do have good abilities but they're wasted in a non-story that really needed ramping up on the action and suspense. I don't care if the movie only cost fifteen grand to make, when I pay my money and sacrifice my time I want some degree of emotional involvement and this just didn't cut it. Major, major question: who on earth sleeps with their bedroom door open every night??? Nobody but these dopes. Doors creak (hinges need oiling), door slams (somebody yanked the dental floss), lights go on (who's out of sight flicking the switch?). Bits and pieces of so many other horror movies, snippets of conversation referring to the supernatural, the devil ad infinitum. Kudos to the studio execs who ran with this movie and put one over on the American movie-going public. Yes, a sucker is born every minute and this movie is proof of that. (Just how dumb was the initial viewing audience shown in the trailer and why don't they get out more?) I'm giving this a four for successfully putting one over on the masses. Great job, guys!
Saw this movie when it first came out in the 1970's and hated, hated, hated it! Easily the most booooring movie I have ever seen in my life. Don't know where Leigh got his inspiration but this is one of those movies where you want to shake the characters to get them to open their mouths and communicate. The title says it all because there are no saving moments in this movie, just long, long silences with people unable to articulate what they are (presumably) feeling. If you want to watch something that will drive you to drink then this is the one for you. If you have nothing better to do for two hours then stick a fork in a toaster: the experience will be infinitely more pleasurable than anything you will get from this! Yes, Leigh came up with a lot of really worthwhile stuff much later in his career but give this one a miss.
Wow! Incredible performances from Meryl Streep and Philip Seymore Hoffman. Mesmerizing intensity from Streep as the nun seeking to find Hoffman guilty of a sin he may or may not have committed. Amy Adams gives a sincere performance as the nun who sets the ball rolling with her suspicions that Hoffman may have molested a black student. The scenes between Streep and Hoffman crackle with intelligence and frightening intensity. Streep, as the unrelenting figure of justice, determined at any cost to destroy Hoffman, is terrifying and unrelenting. Hoffman gives a performance less restrained and mannered than the one he gave in Capote (and won the Oscar for) and boy, does he ever deserve to have won a second one for this outing. An absolute knockout, nuanced and convincing in every way. What a masterful performance! John Patrick Shanley's script is riveting from start to finish. If anyone has any doubts about watching this movie due to the theme then put those doubts aside as the writing and acting are without doubt amongst the finest ever committed to film. A superb piece of work.
|Page 1 of 6:||     |