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Interiors is one of the most divisive films of one of the most love-it-hate-it directors. For me Interiors is not one of Allen's best films(Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Manhatten, Hannah and Her Sisters, Husbands and Wives) with some dialogue monologues that ramble on a bit too much, but when it comes to his most underrated films Interiors is very high on the list. It is very easy to see why people wouldn't like it with how bleak it is and how it's different from much of what Allen has done, but those are hardly reasons to dismiss Interiors because apart from the occasional rambling it is a great film. It is very stylishly shot with good use of locations, probably Allen's second most visually striking 70s film after Manhattan. Like Annie Hall, there's no music score and that's not a bad thing at all, Interiors is a very intimate and intricate film and having no music added to that quality. Much of the dialogue is full of insight and pathos, to me it did have dramatic weight and it is one of Allen's most honest films along with Husbands and Wives. The screenplay is not "funny" as such and is not as quotable as Annie Hall, but it wasn't ever meant to be. The story is paced deliberately but how Interiors was written and performed ensures that it isn't dull, it was very moving(personally it didn't topple into melodrama) and layered storytelling- didn't notice any convolutions- deftly handled. Allen directs assuredly in one of his more restrained directing jobs. The characters are neurotic and not the most likable, but are written and performed with such compelling realism that in the end there is some sympathy felt for them. The cast was a talented one in the first place, and none of them disappoint. Especially good are Geraldine Page, in one of her best performances, in very frightening and heart-breakingly tormented form and Mary Beth Hurt, the centrepiece of the story and is very affecting. Maureen Stapleton is a breath of fresh air as the most lively character- an anti thesis to the rest of the characters but not an out of place one- and E.G. Marshall brings a great deal of quiet dignity. Diane Keaton when it comes to Woody Allen films is better in Annie Hall and Manhattan but plays a purposefully shrill character with gusto. Richard Jordan and Sam Waterson are fine. Kristin Griffith is good too but her part seemed underwritten. All in all, won't be for everybody but a great film from personal perspective and one of Woody Allen's most underrated. 9/10 Bethany Cox
Bing Crosby and Betty Hutton are always watchable and both had wonderful voices. Here Come the Waves showcases their talents very well. Admittedly the story is pretty disposable, being predictable and at times over-complicated. However, Here Come the Waves is well-made, I never found myself bored and the songs are absolutely great. Accentuate the Positive is the one that was nominated for an Oscar, and as fun that song is(yes even with the black-face) I Promise You and There's a Fellow Waiting Poughkeepsie left more of an impression on me. Here Come the Waves has a very witty script full of broad comedy situations and sharp satire that always go along at an energetic pace, never losing its entertainment value. Bing Crosby sings beautifully, particularly in That Old Black Magic and is a charming leading man. Sonny Tufts is an awkward actor somewhat but there is outside of his handsomeness that is pretty endearing to watch. But it's Betty Hutton who steals the show, her voice is as powerful as ever, she brings a huge amount of energy to everything she does here and she does sassy and touching remarkably well in two contrasting roles. Overall, very entertaining and well worth seeing for the songs and Betty Hutton. 8/10 Bethany Cox
Out of Spark Plug Entertainment's output, Cars Life 2 is the best of them. Is that saying much? No, not at all, it's still to me a bad movie. The colours are at least a little more vibrant and while still robotic-looking and at times choppily edited there is slightly less of that badly-slapped quality in the animation than there was in the first Cars Life movie. But just like the first, the characters and writing sink it. The characters are either too creepy(the villain) or incredibly obnoxious(just like the first Speedy, one of the most annoying animated characters of all time). The lead actor is very unlikeable and irresponsible, and never once learns from any mistakes he makes. The voice acting grates very quickly, the voice actor of the father shouts his way throughout and Denise Finelli once again is like cats' claws on a blackboard. The rest are wooden. The writing is not quite as bad as it was in the first Cars Life movie, but like its predecessor there is that sense of the movie not knowing what its target audience is. The "light-hearted" moments verge on crassly juvenile in a way that'd make Video Brinquedo animations seem tame, while some of the more adult content is just as creepy as the characters and is also rather sadistic, think the Gene Deitch Tom and Jerry cartoons but much worse. The story is very thin on the ground, it will bore kids and a lot of it will fly over their heads and Cars Life 2 is one of those rare instances where you can understand completely why an adult would dismiss a family movie as inappropriate. The dialogue is forced and heavy-handed, so to conclude it is not as awful as the first Cars Life but is still a complete mess. 2/10 Bethany Cox
Not the best version of Emily Bronte's masterpiece, on their own terms of the ones personally seen so far the Laurence Olivier and Robert Cavannagh get that honour. None of the adaptations are bad, even my least favourite the 2011 film and while there is a lot wrong this film adaptation isn't a bad one either. The main problem with the film is that it's very rushed which is why the supporting characters(the Lintons in particular, it did affect Simon Shepherd as Edgar too as there is very little sense of meekness which is a huge part of the character) don't get enough time to shine properly with a come and go vibe and why some of the second half felt jumpy narratively. If the film was longer than it was it would have helped. The ending is also far too abrupt and bittersweet and Juliette Binoche did seem too shallow and classy to start with, the giggling was indeed too much. The film is a stunner visually though, the photography is very fluid, the costumes are true to period, most of the make-up and hair is fine though Heathcliff's hair is far too straight and greasy and with the locations you can really feel and smell the atmosphere of the Yorkshire moors. The script is literate and emotional, the famous lines that are included are very well delivered and the story for the first half at least is coherent and respective of Emily Bronte's writing. With it too there is a real sense of broodiness and tragedy. That it included the events after Cathy's death is most laudable. The acting is good enough. Binoche's acting is much improved and she is every bit the self-centred and spiteful Cathy, even without make-up too she is astonishingly pretty. Her chemistry with Fiennes is intense and moving, the scenes on the moors are beautifully done. Janet McTeer stands out in support, Jeremy Northam doesn't have enough screen-time but he plays the tormentor-to-tormented character of Hindley to a tee and Jason Riddington is a charming Hareton. Sinead O'Connor does a lovely job as Bronte herself. The two best assets are the music score and Ralph Fiennes' Heathcliff. The music is hauntingly beautiful with the brooding moments having a shade of melancholy, of all the Wuthering Heights adaptations only the Timothy Dalton version has a better music score. Heathcliff could have been more of a tortured soul here but Fiennes give a truly powerful and often scary- you wouldn't want to mess with or be in the same room as him- performance, but he does bring a humane side too. In conclusion, far from perfect but like the Timothy Dalton version when it's good it is great. 7/10 Bethany Cox
For a low-budget Indie movie, Ghost of the Needle was not bad at all, far from perfect but one of the better ones. The dialogue is rather choppy with a few frothy unnecessary parts. The characters could have been developed more, Jacob gets interesting in the latter parts of the movie but the rest came across as stock clichés. There are moments where the movie does get sluggish and like it's not going anywhere. And there is the odd plot-line that disjoints things and bogs the movie down, they also don't add a whole lot. However, it does look quite good, any effects are used minimally while the settings are appropriately grim while not overly so and the camera work is fluid and atmosphere-enhancing. The music is creepy, while the story has a great deal of suspense and quiet menace, not all of it works but most of it does and very well. What happens isn't scary as such but there is almost always something unsettling, the closing scene is tense and the idea of what Jacob does with the bodies is done harrowingly, an equally harrowing idea to start with. Brian Avenent-Bradley directs reasonably stylishly and with a sense that he knows what he's doing. He's also in the lead role, his performance is not a consistent one, he's somewhat too sullen and uncertain to begin with but when Jacob has more to him later on he does make for a subtly menacing serial killer. The acting isn't award-worthy but it's not too bad, Greg Thompson puts a lot into his performance and it shows, he's very enjoyable to watch. All in all, wasn't expecting much but Ghost of the Needle was an enjoyable and reasonably crafted movie but won't be for all tastes. 6/10 Bethany Cox
Judging from the low rating and some of the comments, as well as some
scepticism of the idea working in an animated film, re-watching Babes
in Toyland for the first time since goodness knows how long was either
going to be better than remembered or be a disappointment. Seeing it, I
was really pleasantly surprised, Babes in Toyland is so much better
than anticipated and was actually a good movie, apart from the poorly
drawn characters of Rodrigo and Gonzargo and the story dragging a tad
in the middle. Of the four Babes in Toyland films, an unpopular opinion
as this may seem this is second only to the wonderful Laurel and Hardy
film, the Disney film was decent but one of the lesser live-action
musicals and the 1986 version was mediocre at best overall with a lot
of bad. The animation on the whole is bright and colourful- the
backgrounds and colours are a treat for the eye. And none of the rest
of the character designs being distractingly bad(Mary, Humpty Dumpty
and Barnaby are fluidly drawn), Toyland just looks so inviting and full
of life, with the goblin scene genuinely creepy-looking(but it is not
that upsetting or traumatising).
Regarding the songs they are just great with meaningful lyrics that say a lot especially the joyous and very catchy Toyland and the sublime duet It's You. March of the Toys was very rousingly orchestrated and served very well with the edge-on-your-seat finale. The only exception for me actually was A Crooked Man, which was rather forgettable and didn't tell or say very much(The Worst is Yet to Come did have its moments though it was slightly at odds with the style of the rest of the songs). Above all the singing is at the very least listenable(though Christopher Plummer basically speak-sings through A Crooked Man, though it probably did fit the song), Cathy Cavadini's amazingly beautiful voice in It's You deserves a big mention and Raphael Sbarge's is strong and sturdy.
They also, unlike something like Quest for Camelot, match the speaking voices(helped by that the voice actors sing their own music), for example Lacey Chabert singing in Dream sounds exactly like Lacey Chabert when she's speaking. Mark Watters' score is dynamic, memorable and lovingly compliments the mood of the whole story, not all the films that he writes for are great but his music is always one of the best assets. The script is never cloying which considering one of the material here was a big trap to fall into but has its fair share of heart-warming moments. The conflict is clear while not being too over-prominent and without making the film uneven, if there were any mean-spirited moments they weren't obvious to this viewer, while the 1986 Drew Barrymore version was full of them. The story, a loose adaptation and with some influences of Mother Goose, structurally is not an exceptional one and is a tad thin on the ground, however the real sense of charm and innocence and the warmth and magic- you actually want to live in Toyland- as well as what the characters go through surprisingly really draws you in. The romance between Mary and Tom is sweet and takes its time to develop, none of the love at first sight stuff.
In fact the characters mostly are very interesting, I found myself identifying every step of the way with Jack and Jill, they are cute but with enough backbone to not sugarcoat things, that they are determined and well-meaning makes them even more likable. Humpty Dumpty serves as a warm-natured narrator-character. Barnaby, looking like Moundshroud's(The Halloween Tree) long lost brother and acting like an even meaner Ebeneezer Scrooge, is a sinister villain but despite his appearance his villainy is far more subtle than in the Barnabys in the Disney and Barrymore versions(which veered to over-the-top, admittedly though in an enjoyable way). The goblins have a real creepiness. How the characters interact are also revelations, Mary and Tom's romance is the highlight though Barnaby is a very believable threat to Jack and Jill(who genuinely care for one another and also for Mary and Tom and the factory). Rodrigo and Gonzargo are the only not-so-interesting characters and that's mainly down to not enough screen-time, there's also the sense that they weren't even needed.
The voice acting is terrific, everybody sounds like they're having a lot of fun, Charles Nelson Reilly and Christopher Plummer(though his voice-work for the Duke in Rock-a-Doodle is better) being the standouts. Raphael Sbarge and Cathy Cavadini are highly emotive as are Joseph Ashton and Lacey Chabert. Bronson Pinchot and Jim Belushi do what they can but deserved better characters. Overall, so much better than was expected and of the four versions of Babes in Toyland this personally was second-best, the Laurel and Hardy one taking the top spot. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
Chuck Jones was a great animation director, one of the best in fact, sadly Good Night Elmer doesn't see him at his best. In most ways Good Night Elmer is one of his worst. Is it completely horrible? No. The animation is good, being lushly coloured and fluidly drawn, the animation of the flame on the candle is quite clever and Elmer doesn't look so shabby either. The music is beautifully orchestrated and is characterful and Mel Blanc does some nice frustrated screams and sounds too, though he doesn't do very much. Unfortunately for Good Night Elmer there's not much else to it. Elmer always has been a fun support character, but while he had potential to carry a lead role he is not given much to show off that ability, much of it is repetitive in fact. And it doesn't even feel like he's the lead character, for much of the cartoon he's literally the reactionary character. What he has also gets tiring(making the same mistakes more than once) and he's even dopier than usual to the point of annoyance. Like undressing when holding a handle or having it balanced on your head, even someone not experienced in Health and Safety would know that it's a dangerous thing to do. The candle with a life of its own is very interestingly animated but is not a very compelling character either, in fact what it does sometimes is so irritating you do feel some sympathy for Elmer at the end. But what hurts Good Night Elmer most is that it's very pedestrian and it's just not funny. The cartoon is very dully paced and gets really predictable with a couple of transitions that add absolutely nothing(the stacking of books one for example) and silly logic lapses even for a cartoon. If you see how the candle behaves you'll get the gist. In the humour department, Good Night Elmer for this viewer was completely humourless, it was a one-joke cartoon in the first place(not a problem if done right), but the jokes/gags have no variety, are very drawn out(as long as 20 seconds for some) and repeat themselves to the extent it's no surprise how they turn out. Seeing Elmer trying unsuccessfully numerous times to battle a candle- even the concept of it is silly even for a cartoon- gets tedious after a while. All in all, as great an animation director that Jones was Good Night Elmer does not show off his talents well at all and is a waste of Elmer as well. 3/10 for the animation and music. Bethany Cox
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hopefully that does make sense. The book is a masterpiece but is almost
unfilmable, so no matter the quality of the final product any attempt
should be given some credit. This Wuthering Heights was a little
disappointing, especially compared to the Laurence Olivier and even the
1998(the most faithful adaptation) versions, but it's not best at all,
it is better than the 2011 film which was too avant-garde and had the
child and adult actors/counterparts looking and acting nothing like one
another. There are things that could have been done better. The main
problem is that the story does jump around a bit too much though not
quite in an incoherent way, I did wish that some scenes were given more
depth and that we got to know the supporting characters more. The
ending was bungled, dramatically it underwhelms in how clumsy it is and
will leave one infuriated rather than moved. And while what was in the
script was good, well-written and brooding some of the famous lines are
either omitted or don't have the impact, if it were the opposite there
may have been more emotional punch and depth.
At its best though, this adaptation of Wuthering Heights is great, especially in five areas. The best thing is definitely Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff, handsome and brooding Dalton has never been more savage or tortured, he never overplays the brutish side of this truly difficult character to pull off and he doesn't underplay the more humane side either. Then there's the music, which is unforgettably melancholic, enough to make you cry often, of all the Wuthering Heights adaptation this gets my personal vote as the one with the best and most effective score. Like the 1998 adaptation, the scenery is enough to take the breath away yet there is a wonderful atmosphere about them too and in an evocative way. The photography is very fluid and allows us to enjoy the atmosphere and scenery, doing this without being too flashy, while the costumes are beautifully realised and true to period, never too over-opulent or drab. And then there is the memorable scene with Heathcliff at Cathy's grave and the luring of Heathcliff by Cathy's ghost, which is incredibly haunting. A shame that what followed didn't work anywhere near as well.
The cast are fine on the whole, though Dalton dominates and the only one perhaps who stays long in the memory. Anna Calder Marshall is a fiery and sensitive Cathy and shows some intense and tender chemistry with Dalton. That is not to say she doesn't have some poor moments, her screaming of "Heathcliff" were even more grating than Sally Field's "Don-kee" in the 2000 adaptation of David Copperfield. Ian Ogilvy is a gentle and very likable Edgar, if at times a little too on the meek side(not his fault, Edgar is not the strongest of characters in the book either). Julian Glover is appropriately menacing as Hindley, though the Hindley in the 1998 adaptation brought some tragedy and torment to the character which made him somewhat more dimensional. Harry Andrews brings warmth to a kindly character and Judy Cornwell is similarly spot-on as Nellie. The storytelling is uneven, but the atmosphere is very well-done and there are some good scenes like the one mentioned above. The script is a little skimmed-over quality but it's not badly written at all and doesn't disgrace Emily Bronte's prose(much more however could have been done with the famous lines). The direction is far from amateurish too.
Overall, far from a bad version but as an adaptation of the book it will be left wanting. It has a lot of good things, some like Dalton, the music and scenery can be classed as great. But a few big areas like the ending, the flow of the story and some parts of skimming-the-surface writing are lacking quite a fair bit. 6.5-7/10 Bethany Cox
Along with Annie Hall, Crimes and Misdemeanours, Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters(probably some rather clichéd choices) Husbands and Wives is one of Woody Allen's best. Allen is not for all tastes but his films have always had some interest value and mostly they are very well written and acted. Husbands and Wives certainly has those. The hand-held camera work may put some people off, especially compared to visual beauties like Hannah and Her Sisters and Manhattan. Not for me it didn't, the use of it was quite clever and while extensive it wasn't overkill or seizure-inducing(and this is coming from somebody with epilepsy). Stylistically also it came across as intentional, to convey the character's thoughts and neuroses. Allen directs with no problem, and his performance in the film too has degrees of bitterness but also one of his most reserved and honest. In fact, apart from Juliette Lewis who is annoying(the only thing about the film that didn't quite work for me, but considering how outstanding everything else was she wasn't enough to completely rock the boat) the acting is superb, particularly from Sydney Pollack and Judy Davis. Mia Farrow gives a heartfelt performance too. Husbands and Wives is a superbly written film, it does have a fair bit of Allen's razor sharp wit and plenty of well- thought out observations conveyed bluntly. But few Allen films are this candid, and the documentary-style that the film adopts allows the candour to come through and resonate in a very rich and vigorous way. The themes and relationships explored in Husbands and Wives are ones that any married couple or pretty much anybody will relate to(the Pollack and Davis storyline is the most poignant and insightful). Some of what is shown is very unpleasant and the characters are not likable ones at all, but to be honest it's absolutely like that in real life, it just goes to show how much the truth can hurt. It really is one of Allen's most relatable films, Hannah and Her Sisters I also related to strongly but in a different way, being warmer in tone and slightly more multi-layered(that's not to knock Husbands and Wives at all in that regard as it certainly is that). Overall, some of what is shown is unpleasant but it is a remarkably candid film with superb writing and acting that a lot of people can relate to. 10/10 Bethany Cox
A Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy classic, and a great sentimental favourite. Whether Babes in Toyland is among their best is up for debate but when it comes to personal favourites of theirs Babes in Toyland is very high up. Of the four films with the title Babes in Toyland, this is by far and away the best and the only great one. The others being the 1961 Disney film, which is decent but one of their lesser live-action musicals, the 1986 Drew Barrymore/Keanu Reeves film which had its moments but most of it was pretty messy and the 1997 animated film which as I recall was only okay but a re-watch is due asap. Laurel and Hardy certainly don't disappoint. Their antics and jokes are a sheer delight, corny at times but in an endearing way, and they look so animated. And thankfully they don't swamp the supporting cast. Henry Brandon is particularly good and sinister as the villain Barnaby, and Charlotte Henry and Felix Knight are charming with wonderful singing voices, thankfully they don't drag things down which is a tendency with star-struck lover roles and subplots. William Burress is winning as the kindly toy-maker too, if not quite as memorable as Ed Wynn in the Disney version. The costume and set design are colourful and brings the inner child within you, like a fantasy world that you don't want to leave. The photography is equally nice and the effects have their acceptable charms, by today's standards they're not all that cheap. Victor Herbert's score and songs are not among his best but they are pleasant and memorable, the incidental scoring has the right amount of whimsy and Toyland and March of the Wooden Soldiers are deservedly the highlights of the songs. The dialogue is tight with plenty of jokes to enjoy, and there is a real sense of joy, fantasy and enchantment in the story that the other Babes in Toyland films don't quite manage, well the Disney film did but the 1986 film didn't. March of the Wooden Soldiers was the highlight and cleverest moment of the Disney film and it is every bit as memorably staged here. The Boogeymen are still frightening now. This version is the best directed by a mile, the film actually goes at a good pace(the Disney film had a few dull stretches while the 1986 film never really came to life as well as being indifferently directed) and is directed by people who clearly knew what they wanted to do and had enthusiasm for it. All in all, timeless for children and for adults. Those who like the operetta will be enchanted and will cherish this as the best version, and even if it is a little different to what Laurel and Hardy usually did even Laurel and Hardy fans can find much to enjoy(some die-hard fans will disagree, just for the record I've always liked Laurel and Hardy a lot). 10/10 Bethany Cox
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