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66 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Just an additional thought, 29 August 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There isn't too terribly much that I could add that hasn't already been said.However, to add on something for one of Profesor Lisistwitz's observations-yes the heroines in both stories were prostitutes but, given the state of the censorship codes at that time, their true profession(by the way, the world's oldest) wouldn't have been acceptable. In addition, most of the other critics have quite perceptively noticed and mentioned that the screenplay is based on two of Guy De Mauppassant' short stories, which have been quite cleverly put together.And this IS the genius of the scriptwriters.The humiliated girl in "Ball of Fat" come back to retaliate against the villain who humiliated her in the beginning.Well done!

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Agreement with Trevor Aclea, 22 December 2009

I find myself agreeing with this English reviewer's assessment.( December 24,2006)

It really should have had Errol Flynn as Sir Kenneth.

He must have been unavailable for any one of a variety of reasons,and Harvey the closest substitute available.

LH was capable of some things,and doing them quite well(although, for the life of me, I can't place my finger on a single one of them right at this particular moment.)

But, warm, dashing, romantic, swashbuckling,he really was not.And why didn't they find Richard Todd, or Richard Greene, or any one of a number of up and coming young actors in the "bull pen" to perform the role of Sir Kenneth.

Dragon Storm (2004) (TV)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
"John Strikes Out!", 16 November 2008

It seems as though we're all pretty well agreed that this film was a real dud.Listless,a poor script,and boring.

Someone asked as to how a fine actor like John Rhys--Davies got mixed up with this.Well,how did Basil Rathbone get into "The Magic Sword?"How did Ben Kingsley end up in "BloodRayne?"(His foray in "Oliver Twist"is a real mess,too.)How did Sidney Poitier get into "The Long Ships?"

We all have some messes in our careers,and this was one for him.Either he owed somebody a favor;he had some obligations for a particular director and/or producer;he needed the cash-we all have that happening once in a while-;or he had a blank spot in his calendar,and wanted to keep his hand in.As the man said"You can't win them all."

An Addition to the First Review, 13 November 2007

The previous review has given an insightful and succinct summary of the plot.It's nice to see the great Schwartz develop his character.A hard,although not monstrous man,starts to show his softer,better and gentler nature.And,he becomes hurt,and behave reasonably.He's not just a stereotype and/or caricature of a capitalist who exploits his workers.This shows that the scriptwriter was interested in showing something true to life,and not just a piece of propaganda.

Also interesting to see the role played by Svee Scooler.I'm so used to seeing him portray venerable characters in his later films,that I forgot that he,too,was once young.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
An Observation on Some of the Dubbing, 19 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I find myself in agreement with Ed's review and critique of this particular film.

In particular, found the dubbing of Feodor Godunov's voice with a female(mezzo-soprano)discordant and jarring.This is obviously a male who IS pubescent and male,and has a high pitched woman's voice issuing from his lips.

The role is written for a mezzo-soprano,and traditionally is sung by a female(one of the operatic "trouser roles."This was from a period when the very young males were performed by females-many pages in Verdi and Meyerbeer for example.Also Cherubino,from "Marriage of Figaro."

It appears,that only from the late 60s and early 70s that very young male singers,whose voices were unchanged,started assuming these sorts of roles.For example at the Met,it was only with the current production(debuted 12/16/74) that a boy did the part.

They should either have had a very young boy play the part,or used a counter tenor sing the role.

Titus Andronicus (1985) (TV)
1 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The Definitive Version, 10 April 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As stated elsewhere,"Titus" is arguably the worst play in the Canon.The bard might have intended this as:the Elizabethan version of a slasher film;an attempt to out do Marlowe;or as a sick joke where the audience/reader would laugh along with him.It's impossible to determine his intentions.The plot is derived from an earlier ballad. Shakespeare developed and embellished various details and aspects of character.

nonetheless,any production intended for the uninitiated really ought to follow the script closely and downplay the grosser aspects.Traymor's over the top production is a stylistic mishmash.Anyone unfamiliar with the story will find it impossible to follow along.Consequently,the novice should study this version prior to witnessing the 1999 mess

Apparently intended as a stylized Elizabethan stage production of a Roman play and props,THIS is the version for the beginner.While Peacock and Atkins lack the stellar stature of Hopkins and Lange,their performances show restraint and are more believable as the text allows.(The latter,while fun,as campy,self-indulgent,and hammy.)Hardwicke and Protheroe are far superior to their counterparts in the film.

I prefer Quarshie to Lennix for the following reasons:Aaron,in the film,is a grinning,one-dimensional pantomime devil or medieval vice.He's far too obviously a villain,and wouldn't be able to deceive anybody with the intelligence of a grapefruit.He's lacking virility,and not at all attractive.Quarshie,on the other hand,is much better-looking,manly,charming,and convincing a speaker and manipulator.Ask anybody who's ever dealt with a psychopath,and they'll tell you that the way these characters achieve their power is to be able to win and inspire confidence initially,before they develop their evils ploys.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The Definitive Version, 24 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It really wouldn't be logical or fair to attempt to compare a 1950s Soviet production with one of the same era from MGM or Warner brothers.My guess is that the Soviet film industry was nowhere near as advanced technically or sophisticated as those in the West.So,we find ourselves having to deal with a less advanced group,still doing a good job of carrying off this film.And they do a good job.

A film can really open up what was originally a story designed for the stage-changes in location,scenes can incorporate greater vistas,and the action can be larger or more intimate,as the director decides.And,of course,with dubbing,we can have fine actors without operatic voices carrying off the show.Bravo,to each and every one of them!

There were some things going on with regard to the synopsis of the story,and the dialog,as seen in the titles,that might be somewhat puzzling.The Old Believers,a fundamentalist sect of the Russian Orthodox Church, are reduced to a group of migrants wandering around doing good deeds.Not quite what the composer and librettist intended.

The director,for the most part,remains faithful to the libretto,but there were some changes I found puzzling.The sinister Boyar Shaklovity's aria is given to an anonymous,although dramatically noticeable peasant.This reduces the Boyar to merely a schemer and malign personage.While certainly nobody's idea of a protagonist,and a sneak,spy,and underhanded intriguer,his aria also reveals him as one who loves Russia in his own way.As an agent of Tsar Peter the great,his role is to discover,stymie,block and eventually destroy those reactionary elements who seek to keep Russia in feudalism.And the aria shows him to be more complex than a mere villain and assassin.So,giving it to someone else changes the focus of this character.

However,in this production,they DO get the assassination right.Shaklovity appears at Prince Ivan's house,accompanied by 2 retainers who wait in the vestibule.The wily Boyar flatters and dupes the brutish Khovansky into attending the Council meeting.The Prince dons his ceremonial robes and paraphernalia,and strides to the door.Shaklovity then signals to his waiting henchmen,who then fall upon the Prince with their daggers,killing him.Well done!

Khovanshchina (1979) (TV)
I've Got a Little Problem, 23 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of the two best videos of a stage performance of this work.(The other one being the 1991 performance by the Kirov Opera,which essentially uses the same staging,sets,and costumes,while changing the performers.)The singers are all stellar. Nesterenko as Dosifei is much more striking than his counterpart in the later production.(This is not intended at all to reflect badly on that gentleman,whose name escapes me at the moment.It's just that Nesterenko is every so much more legendary.)And Vedvernikov,as Prince Ivan Khovansky,IS much more memorable than his counterpart in the Kirov showing.

Some of the cuts DO,however,bother me.They cut out the peasants's chorus in this showing.And Kirov DID handle the immolation of the Old Believers at the end ever so much better.

What really irks me is the way they(and Kirov as well) muff the assassination of Prince Ivan.The stage directions specifically state that the evil Boyar Shaklovity,after flattering and duping the boorish Prince Ivan into preparing to leave for the Council meeting,draws his dagger,and plunges it into Ivan's back.The current Metropolitan Opera production does it even better.As Ivan strides to the door,Shaklovity signals one of Ivan's OWN servants,who draws a pistol and shoots him.This gives a picture of not only a lurid conspiracy,but also of a police state,with spies everywhere.They're even in our own household.

So what happens here?Ivan strides to the door,and some anonymous gremlin(not literally)pops out of nowhere,and stabs him.GIVE ME A BREAK!

The guy is a popular,(albeit boorish and also feared military) leader,living in his own house,with servants and undoubtedly soldiers all around him.How would this goblin manage to get past the sentries are just the right moment?Not at all well done!

Khovanshchina (1989) (TV)
I Have A Few Problems with this Production, 6 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was quite well done from a musical point of view,and some of the uses of the modern stage solve some of the staging difficulties. Particularly,they have a good use of the revolving stage.However,I have to ask,why the modernistic,impressionistic,post-nuclear-holocaust settings.It looks as though it were set in a "Mad Max"world.

The self induced immolation of the Old Believers" had the end is a total puzzle.If one wasn't aware of the plot,one would get the impression that this were a group of idiots climbing a post in a playground.Same way with the peasants prayer in the first act.A soulful hymn for future peace in Russia looks more like a group of Neanderthals trudging in the mist.And Doseifi,leader of the Old Believers,is clean shaved.Who ever heard of a Russian religious leader,let alone one of a fundamentalist sect of Orthodoxy,without a beard?

Finally,the assassination of Prince Ivan Khovansky is totally mishandled.The stage instructions call for the evil Boyar Shaklovity to stab or shoot Ivan as he heads for the door.Even better,the current Met production has Shaklovity give a swift signal to one of the servants,who then shoots Ivan.This really enhances the lurid implications of conspiracy,and a police state that has spies in every household.Instead,in this production,a gremlin pops out from under the dining room table-how would he have gotten in there in the first place,past the guards?-and stabs Ivan.Not well handled!

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An Interesting and Sincere Production, 28 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's my opinion that most people are in agreement that "Tius" is ,at best,a rather crude and sensational work in the opus.Many are convinced that the Bard was basing this as a reworking of an older play,while others think that he was trying to outdo Marlow with a horror story.Reports indicate that this WAS a highly popular work with those of rather crude tastes(pun intended),and indulged those with the Elizabethan preferences for what would today be termed "slasher"films.I've read,rather recently,that some believe that the Bard was writing this play as a sort of a sick joke,and asked everybody(indirectly)to laugh alone with him.Who knows?

This particular production,listed as a cult classic(although I don't know by who) does appear to have it's own virtues.Done on an apparently limited budget, the players seem to be a number of fairly talented and industrious amateurs.They know their lines and cues,delivering them with respect and an appreciation for the verse.The use of the "blue screen",for background changes and scene changes is reasonably well done.The costumes are appropriate,and remind me of the work of a college and/or community theater approach.(I could have done without all of the exposed flesh from folks NOT in the best of physical shape and the hairy chests.)In addition,the view of the "son pie"at the end,with the eye showing up in the sauce,was rather silly.

The text has been rather extensively,yet tastefully cut(pun definitely intended here).Still,I think that this is a better adaptation,all around,than Traymor's.

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