Reviews written by registered user
|274 reviews in total|
What is the driving force behind this artist who seems to be past
present and future at the same time? How is his physical and mental
health? What kind of an American citizen or a World citizen is Woody
Allen? Has he got "visions" that reach beyond his own persona and his
intimate circle? Does he like dogs? Yes, there is a lot I would like to
learn about this immensely productive and strangely elusive man who
always has a fresh take on actual human events and conditions and seems
virtually ageless. The answers to these questions are more easily found
in Allen's own movies than in this documentary which is an uncritical
tribute to the Mystery Man who appears in it as a friendly and soft
spoken contributer. The style is very conventional (if not outright
promotional) and disappointing - talking heads you already know
(Maltin, Lax etc.) tell things you already know. Why didn't they
interview his dentist, his super or his hairdresser?
And yet I don't regret having watched this documentary. As it also contains valuable insights which I found fascinating. Allen seems to stick to persons he has known for ages (I assume he is basically loyal and expects loyalty in turn). Early in his career he teamed up with people who created Woody Allen as a product. This seems to have been the foundation stone for future developments. Behind the name there is an industry with a hard core of constant trusted collaborators. It is as productive as it is (within clearly set boundaries) innovative. This somewhat unlikely combination seems to be unique. No one except Charlie Chaplin did anything that can be compared with it. I can credit the documentary for highlighting these aspects which serve as a kind of a shield for Woody Allen (the man) against too personal approaches to his persona.
I find this movie absolutely fascinating on all levels: basic idea, story, acting, imagery, set design, colors, music. It all fits together so well and tells a fascinating, rather sad story of beings, their limits and the way they deal with it in a time period of great changes and discoveries. Set entirely on a beautiful Neo Gothic country estate and its grounds, the plot evolves like a dream. The main character looks amazingly like Abraham Lincoln (the story is set during that president's lifetime but presumably in England). He is a man of reason and science - and of no means. He arrives as a kept intellectual and falls for the beautiful daughter of his benefactor. The attraction is exclusively erotic (the movie can be credited for some explicit sex scenes which are for once not gratuitous but as necessary as they are believable) and rather unexpectedly he finds himself adopted into the family and a permanent resident of Dreamland. Always of an alert disposition he observes - and is in turn observed and manipulated. Dreamland finally turns out to be a nightmare, the true nature of things small and not so small are revealed. The Odyssey continues.
Ever since I saw The Adjuster and The Sweet Hereafter I watch every movie by this director I can lay my hands on. This one is visually beautiful, well acted (with a notable exception) and touches important issues of today. And yet it left me rather disappointed. Atom Egoyan is a moralist who demands a lot from his viewers and invites them to check their own instincts. In reverse the viewers have the right to expect clarity and a straight story. Here, the director fails them. The story is too convoluted and contrived. It slows down everything and the whole does not find its proper rhythm. I found Arsinée Khanjian's persona and her performance problematic. It's got a syrupy intensity I found hard to stomach. The rather heavy-handed toying with the exotic is simply annoying. From her first appearance I thought, that person should not be allowed to teach intelligent adolescents. And appearing on somebody's front lawn in full North African (?) garb at Christmas Time? And then being asked to take that character seriously? Well, for me, it was too much. At least it gave me occasion to check my instincts, which is never a bad thing. So the movie may just have served its purpose ...
Please do not read the summary of this movie. There are no depressed women around here but two strong female characters and a bunch of guys who don't know how to deal with it. Lower Level was scripted and directed by women and I think this can be sensed clearly. The main storyline deals with a guard who is smitten with a woman architect and entraps her in "her tower" one night. The guard did a lot of planning - not unlike the Collector Terence Stamp in the eponymous movie directed by William Wyler. But he is doomed and clearly intimidated by the woman who in the end is not only able to liberate herself but also her occasional sexual partner (boyfriend or lover would not be the right word here). This is a fine example of low budget movie making. Very few actors, one location, nighttime only and quite a few good directorial ideas. It is not the greatest movie of all times but really good entertainment and visually very pleasing. Great cameo by Shari Shattuck.
This is a minor classic with reveals an amazing depth, provided you watch the film several times. With each viewing Peter Todd's performance gets better and the state of mind of his character more clear. It's about an Anglia (an ostentatiously modest lower middle class car) and the hope the Todd character puts into the car. It seems to be the last straw for him to become the success in business he wants to be. His wife scolds him for having had so many pipe dreams that have come to nothing and at the same time tells him to let go (of the stolen car). The possession of the car becomes an existential issue, the guy is willing to die in order to get it back. It is all ridiculous in a really sad way. It is also impressive to watch the police officer (played by the always brilliant John Le Mesurier) slowly lose his countenance and hear him tell the main character icily that he does not care the least for his car and that the authorities just want to nail the criminals. The veneer is off on all sides not least off Peter Sellers' character who becomes to realise that a stolen car can leave traces even after an expert paint job. Never Let Go tells a great little story. I can wholeheartedly recommend this film.
This movie hits you like a ton of bricks. Like almost the whole work of
Stanley Kubrick it tells a story about the failure of civilization. I
do not see it as an anti-war movie or a historically accurate depiction
of World Ware One but much more as a comment about large organizations.
Principally, it deals with stalemate. The bosses have run out of ideas.
They don't know what to do. But because their remaining in power
depends on something - well, anything - being done, they risk the lives
of thousands for enterprises that are highly unlikely to succeed. All
the characters seem to be victims of a command: to make the impossible
possible. The risks are unevenly distributed - as befits a vertically
organized institution. The Paths of Glory is a story that is being told
over and over, you can pick the settings yourself, it needn't be the
trenches in Northern France, it could well be Wall Street or, for that
matter, the European Union.
From an artistic point of view, I find Paths of Glory very satisfying, starting with the camera gliding flawlessly along the trenches down to the excellent set design by Ken Adam. The ending is the work of true genius. They way the jeering soldiers turn soft and melancholy is entirely convincing and unforgettable.
I recently watched this movie and then read the comments on IMDb.com
which are without exception very enthusiastic. Did I miss something? Am
I a dork without any real feeling left in me? Others will be the judges
of that. Anyway, I felt this movie tells a very commonplace story of
mediocre minds for which I found it hard to have much compassion.
The conductor is basically an egomaniac, a man of whom all around him think as a genius (by the way: aren't all orchestra conductors fascists at heart??). Not a very pleasant or entertaining fellow to be with, really. The blond damsel is a cute groupie, overwhelmed by the adulation the genius basks in - and the splendid Rolls he commands through the streets of London and the English countryside. The "love" they experience is without motive, without past and certainly without future yes, one may argue, that this is the essence of love, but it makes rather boring viewing if you can't identify with the characters. The affair is concealed from the conductor's wife, which I can only see as a strategic move beyond immediately felt surges of emotions. It may be argued, that nobody wants to hurt anybody, but the act of betrayal lingers on and for me spoils the moments of intimacy between the lovers which are played out as an animated fashion magazine.
Not too long ago I also watched the "Interlude" directed by Douglas Sirk and released in 1957. I found it far more convincing and a truly moving melodrama, although the storyline is almost identical. It is a movie that works much better for me on the emotional level. The reason for that is, I believe, that the need for love can be felt more strongly. And there is an element that should always be present in a true love story: Surprise (at the world, the turn of events - and at oneself).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Strange comedy with a a really weird political slant. The main
character is the owner of a small enterprise in the southwest of
France. An American corporation plans a take over. In order to smoothen
the negotiations they invite the guy to Paris and wine and dine him.
Furthermore he is introduced to the "niece of the PR director" who in
reality is a hooker they rented for the occasion. The guy goes to bed
with her almost at once, falls for the really stale "niece" story and
kinda falls in love with her. Some dingle dangle ensues and in the end
the guy follows the hooker to Milan where she has a "business
appointment", is insulted by the hooker while boarding the plane,
stomps away over the tarmac and is followed by the (pleading?) hooker.
Somehow the movie makes the statement that American corporations are bad because they corrupt honest to god provincial French entrepreneurs. But as a matter of fact this entrepreneur is a stupid BEEP. He lies and cheats to his wive who is not only attractive but supports him actively and loyally in his business dealings. And he tries to ingratiate himself to the workers (who are unruly in any case) in a sickening way, making them feel he is one of them. He is clearly not more likable than the real baddies in their corporate glass tower in Paris. This makes it difficult to feel any fondness for the main character and his predicament, which seems to be required if one ought to take an interest in the story. Therefore the movie fails to carry a message and is only a succession of gags which, I gladly admit, are not all bad.
The cast is much better than the script. Mireille Darc does her usual thing (her part is essentially the same as in The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe). I also watched this because Daniel Ceccaldi is in it (as the PR executive), in my opinion one of the most underrated French character actors of his generation. So watching this was not entirely time wasted.
This is a truly memorable movie. Not for its story which is pretty
pedestrian but for its treatment by the screen writers, the actresses
and actors, its cinematography and its art direction. My first surprise
came with the title credits. Emeric Pressburger participated in the
screen writing. And this seems to be one of the rare cases in which the
screen writing is better than the general plot. There are a great many
interesting characters which are competently and nicely sketched. The
actresses and actors grace the script with very good, heart felt and
often funny performances down to the last bit part (and there are many
of them). They portray ordinary people who just want to be decent - and
ordinary. The movie is set in post war London and the number of sets
and location shots is astounding considering the simplicity of the
whole affair. The apartment of the villain is in a fine town house, and
it looks like it was shot on location, so it must also be a feast for
friends of architecture. Watching this movie is anything but a waste of
Again and again I become enraptured by British films which were made during the period of Austerity (The Archers, Ealing Studio, Carol Reed etc.). I always feel that lack of funds was more than compensated by the love all those who participated felt for their art.
This is a most unusual movie for its time, and it is fascinating to
read the comments on it here on the IMDb. Many viewers are apparently
undecided what to make of Sirocco as it does not fit any of the known
stereotypes. This is neither Algiers (1938) nor Casablanca (1942),
there is no romance, you don't find anything exotic about the place in
question (Damascus, Syria) and no great friendships are about to
develop. It is basically a movie about people who are confronted with a
drab and hopeless situation (messagewise I would compare it with The
Sand Pebbles (1966)). It painfully reminds todays viewers of the
ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq (well, the Jasmine salesman
bolts off before his handgranades go off in the cafe, the suicide
bomber had not been invented yet). Western powers (they have a mandate
from the League of Nations) are pitted against so called "patriots"
(they have no mandate at all) in a bloody battle without a discernible
cause. The Bogart character is an opportunist arms dealer and a coward
to boot. At one time he really hits rock bottom in the Catacombs
underneath the city as he tries to hide in his tattered Bogey-raincoat
- one of the many great visual moments in this beautifully photographed
nightmare of a movie with its superb set design.
The main message of Sirocco is a depressing one: If things turn bad, the efforts of single individuals are of negligible effect. We have a disillusioned French officer (Lee J. Cobb who I have never seen better). He wants to prevent a planned execution of civilians as a retaliatory act after an ambush, not out of idealistic motives or with any hope but just because he is sick of all the killing. Like all the other characters he gets bogged down by the circumstances and in the end departs on a meeting with the "patriots" with the Bogart character's help. Everyone agrees that this action is meant to be a suicide. The officer even gets out of his uniform which heretofore had the function of a corset.
Great sets and scenes abound here. Damascus is a place of eternal night - and we never get out of the place into the open. The Roman Catacombs seem to be inspired by Giovanni Piranesi's "carceri" drawings. There is a great scene in which the Bogart character buys a belly dancer's finger cymbals. Another scene begins with the focus on a visibly tender and juicy steak which the Bogart character starts cutting into. "He brings his own food", the waiter explains to other patrons who would like the same. What a better way to depict a war profiteer?
As the lines above suggest, the storyline of Sirocco is pretty sprawling and the film is more of a situation than a story. That makes it only more realistic and instructive. Our time is right for anti-war movies of this kind. In can recommend it.
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