Reviews written by registered user
|19 reviews in total|
Anthony Hopkins does not merely portray Richard Nixon as a cheap
caricature, as Frank Langella did in Ron Howard's pointless
Frost/Nixon. He creates a living, breathing human being that we can all
relate to, while still adopting the notorious president's signature
speech patterns and mannerisms.
Oliver Stone's direction is nothing short of a miracle. As in his 1991 masterpiece, JFK, he has a lot of different characters to bring to life on the screen. He helps his actors fashion their performances with miraculous accuracy. Paul Sorvino is dead-on as Henry Kissinger, as is Joan Allen as Pat Nixon, and Bob Hoskins as the mysterious, mean-spirited J. Edgar Hoover.
The writing is also represents a triumph. Stone and co. are able to synthesize entire pages of historical prose into digestible chunks of dialogue. Aspiring screenwriters should seriously take note.
Although 1995 also saw the likes of Casino, Seven, Heat, and The Usual Suspects, Nixon is the ultimate champion. History on screen has rarely been this exhilarating.
Giant is approximately 201 minutes long, and yet only less than a
quarter of it is watchable. The moments I am referring to are the ones
when James Dean is on screen.
Here he gives his strangest and riskiest performance, playing the Howard Hughes-esquire character, Jett Rink. The sequence where he confronts his former employers while covered in crude oil is spellbinding.
The rest of the movie suffers without his presence. The story is slow and curiously involving.
Still, you should see it for Dean's performance alone.
Rebel Without a Cause contains James Deans' most influential
performance. He plays the deeply tormented teen Jim Stark, who cannot
stand living in a superficial society that refuses to show him any
love. Of course, Jim's social criticisms are as true to life today as
they were when the film was originally released. This is what maintains
the film's elemental power. Writer/director Nicholas Ray shows how
sometimes rebellious teens understand the world better than their
Nicolas Ray's use of color is nothing short of spectacular. Each character is dressed in clothes that express their heartfelt emotions. Jim's immortal red jacket is the perfect symbol of his fragile nerves and restless heart, which spends the entire movie searching for love and acceptance.
As is the case with his other two films, East of Eden and Giant, James Dean is the movie. He posses the rarest of acting gifts - you simply can't take your eyes off of him. How many young actors today can even hope to have the same affect on audiences?
The problem with Valkyrie is that it lacks emotional depth and
character development. Real suspense is generated at times and some of
the action sequences are executed fairly well, but we know hardly
anything about the characters and cannot emotionally invest in them.
This makes the movie feel soulless and empty - a problem common to many
Believe it or not, but Tom Cruise is actually decent as the head Nazi conspirator. Terence Stamp is also quite good, but he does not appear often enough.
The real life story is quite fascinating, but many important details were unfortunately left out.
Although suffering from a muddled plot, ill-defined characters, a
typically uncharismatic performance by Christian Bale, and a lack of
energy, The Dark Knight proved to be on of 2008's greatest commercial
and critical successes.
The fact that this film is in the Top Ten list tells me two things: 1) Most of the people who rated this highly are either 10-year-olds or adults with the attention span of 10-year-olds. I do not mean to offend all 10-year-olds, because there are some rare exceptions. But, you can catch my drift.
2) People who rated this highly have not seen many of the other, better films on this list. They have nothing to compare The Dark Knight to.
Anyway, I just hope this film's current standing sinks down far below the 250 mark.
I'm going to make this really short because I don't think Vantage Point
is worthy of much discussion.
The script is appalling. First, it tries to be Rashomon by telling the same story over and over again from different characters' perspectives but forgets one important detail. If the story isn't interesting, it's going to stay that way no matter how many times you how look at it. In this case, the story is as one-dimensional as they come. A group of terrorists try to assassinate the U.S. President. That's all there is to it - no social commentary, no subplots, and nothing minutely interesting. As for the dialogue, it seems to have been written by a film student receiving a failing grade.
The actors are all big names (Dennis Quaid, Forrest Whittaker, Sigourney Weaver, and William Hurt) but they simply can't overcome the insanity of the script. Everyone overacts, especially Quaid and Whittaker. Quaid looks like he's sucking on a lemon at all times, and Whittaker makes grotesque, unintentionally funny facial expression. Actually, the latter criticism can be applied to the entire cast.
The film only functions as a pretentious unintentional comedy. Seeing as we have more than enough of those, Vantage Point is destined to be forgotten (and it should be).
Like Milk, which competed with it at the Oscars in the same year, The
Wrestler is a character study without any genuine character
Mickey Rourke plays washed-up wrestler Randy, but I don't think he was doing any real acting. He was playing himself. To make matters worse, Rourke fails to attempt anything new. All we get from his "performance" is something we've seen hundreds of times before. A broken man who cannot accept the fact that he's not in the spotlight anymore.
The film, like its main character, is a giant cliché. And it's a boring cliché. Even the subplots carry on in the same sad tradition. One involves Randy's desperate attempt to reconnect with his estranged daughter. Of course, things don't go so well because she thinks he's a "total jerk". Any of this sound familiar? Here's the bottom line. If you're going to make a movie with clichés, at least try to do something different. The Wrestler, I'm sorry to say, does not.
Milk is nothing more than a character study. It focuses exclusively on
the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay politician in the United
States. Unfortunately, Sean Penn portrays Milk as a one-dimensional
caricature akin to a SNL sketch. So, if Milk offers us nothing more
than a character study, and there isn't any character to study, I am
inclined to believe that the film is about nothing.
Sure, there are some social criticisms mentioned. But they are generic and almost literally spelled out for the audience (ex. "Be yourself").
Despite these fatal criticisms of the main performance and script, the Academy honored both with an Oscar.
With boundless, raw energy and an uncompromising vision, Talk Radio
brilliantly explores the public's fondness for reducing strangers'
private problems into entertainment via the radio.
Eric Bogosian is sensational as Barry Champlaine, a rude, in-your-face talk radio host. He's a natural for this kind of role, and fine tunes one of the most impressive, interesting radio personalities I've ever seen on screen. The timing and delivery of his insults to his various callers are strokes of genius.
Alec Baldwin also shines as Barry's boss. He demonstrates the same explosive cynicism that he would later display 1992's Glengarry Glen Ross. But the supporting role that truly stands out is the stoned, seemingly brain-dead teen played by Michael Wincott. You have to see it to believe it.
Oliver Stone and Robert Richardson do a great job with the photography, which is almost entirely confined to a single broadcasting room. The claustrophobic feel of the movie perfectly mirrors its tone. After all, one of the major points of the film is exploiting people's private moments to draw an audience. Stone demonstrates that these moments are often too private for the whole world to experience.
Talk Radio is a film with strong emotional and cerebral impact - the likes of which are seldom seen today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Working with Elia Kazan, one of the greatest directors of 1950s stage
and screen, James Dean was able to fully display his heartbreaking
vulnerability and trademark ambiguity. He adds an element of mystery to
his character, Cal Trask, by carefully choosing which emotions to
reveal to the audience and which ones to keep hidden.
Dean is an extremely physical actor, and some of his most imitated acting flourishes are his mannerisms and movements. Throughout the film, he slouches, fidgets, pulls on his ear, lies down in the dirt with his beans, and throws his head back to highlight his frustration. These attempts at naturalistic acting are among the best ever committed to celluloid.
Dean is the movie. There's no question about that. But, there's some excellent support from Julie Harris, Raymond Massey (as his cold, remote father), and Jo Van Fleet as his long-lost mother. Elia Kazan took advantage of the fact that some of the actors, most notably Massey, did not get along with Dean, and was able to make the bitter exchanges and arguments between the characters all the more believable.
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