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"All The Lonely People"
My full review can be found on "The Cinematic Conquest", a website.
"The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her" isn't nearly as innovative as it seems to believe it is. When I read the basic plot description, I figured it could either be a masterpiece, or an exercise in pseudo-intellectual cinema. Somewhat to my surprise, "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her", falls into neither category. The film doesn't approach 'masterpiece' status, and for the most part, it never comes across as pretentious. Where director Ned Benson succeeded is in his casting, but where he experienced major fault is through his dialogue and misinterpreting the emotional capacity of what he'd written.
"Would you still love me if I didn't have enough money to pay for dinner?", Conner asks his will-be wife, the ill-named Eleanor Rigby. They soon find themselves running down the sidewalk, escaping the manager. It becomes apparent that we are witnessing a moment in the life of a couple who are genuinely in love. We fast forward several years later, and their relationship is no longer as simple to define. After losing their beloved one-year old child, and a suicide attempt on behalf of Eleanor, they find themselves separated. The film(s) chronicle the perspective of the two characters and the events they experience while apart from each other. In the end, it's a testament of the relationship between a man and a woman.
Jessica Chastain has quickly risen to the top actresses in the past two years. In selecting a wide variety of roles, Chastain is proving her talent, and creating a promising future for herself. "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her" is simply another strong step in proving her talent to audiences. Her neurotic character is easily the strongest part of the film. James McAvoy is also strong in this film, yet his character seems as though he was given a little less to work with. It must have been difficult for McAvoy considering his character is very plain and simple, whereas the character of Eleanor is more of an enigma, that we explore later on in the film. Nonetheless, McAvoy gives a good performance - yet not a great one. The supporting cast was another highlight of the film. "SNL" comedian, Bill Hader gives a chance to prove he's more than a comedy actor, a chance most people in his field aren't given. His character felt very natural, as Conner's best friend. Viola Davis is the female version of Hader's character, as she befriends Rigby. Davis delivers yet another clever performance in this film, yet, she does lack a little bit of gravity which would have transformed her role in "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her" from being 'funny' to being 'funny' and 'moving'. Ciaran Hinds is decent within this film, yet a great deal of his dialogue is overly sappy, that I found it fairly difficult to take him seriously. Although his performance was fine, it was difficult to separate his acting from the character's dialogue, so ultimately, I wasn't too fond of his performance in the film. Isabelle Huppert is an incredibly versatile actress. It's astonishing to compare her utterly frightening role in Haneke's "The Piano Teacher" to her role as the caring mother of Eleanor Rigby in this film. Although her character wasn't the most essential to the film, I think it merited a fair bit within the details. However, in the supporting cast, the greatest performance went without a doubt to William Hurt, who plays the role of Eleanor's father. We only see him in "Her", and for a majority of that, his performance is very subtle, until the end when it becomes vital to the thematic portion of the film, and the ending. He delivers a small scene which shines very brightly, establishing him as a very powerful actor (not that we don't already know this).
During a great deal of "Him" I was struck by how ridiculously melodramatic a lot of the dialogue came across as. The scene between Eleanor and Conner felt highly unnatural, and I was highly disappointed. Luckily, either the dialogue improved - or I subconsciously adjusted (although I highly doubt that). No matter what it was, it certainly interfered with my enjoyment of "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her".
The overall innovation of the plot line, is much slimmer than I'd expected. For one, the plot is stretched out for longer than it needed to be. It should have been one film, with a little cut out. As well, the details separating the two perspective is incredibly subtle - but nonetheless, meaningless. We have sit through sequences we've already watched (although Benson did use separate takes and separate angles - which was not a good choice in my opinion). I could understand using different angles, to capture how the other person would see the situation, but because of the different takes, the lines were occasionally different. As well, the idea behind the 'two perspectives' was used somewhat stupidly during some parts of the films. The repeat scenes were used so some of the lines were reversed from the other version of the scene. For example, if in one scene in "Him" Conner had said "I'm sorry", when we see in "Her", Eleanor might have said "I'm sorry", instead of Conner. Fairly pointless use of what could have a genuinely innovative concept.
Overall, "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her" is a film that should be seen for its great performances, yet all in all, it's not a breath of fresh cinema, as I had hoped.
Not bad... but there is a reason this is far from Kazan's best known film...
THE FILM: Pinky is not a particularly well-know film, and there are very few people who would indeed consider it to as a film that deserves to be well known. Pinky is the kind of film you watch because you are a fan of Elia Kazan. That said, an interesting fact I recently discovered about the film is that John Ford was originally appointed to direct the film, however, producer Darryl F. Zanuck fired Ford since he was unsatisfied on the constant delays he was getting from John Ford. Zanuck decided to call Elia Kazan who was in New York at the time. Kazan was not too fond of the screenplay, but he felt he owed Zanuck a favor as it was Zanuck who commenced Kazan's career in film. Lena Horne was initially hired to play the role of Pinky but the studio decided to go with Jeanne Crain instead as they wanted there to be no way to tell that Pinky was of African American decent. This was never one of Kazan's most popular films. It is currently considered to be his one of his lightest films, even though it is not a comedy and like all his films it is a commentary on American life.
THE PLOT: Pinky is an African-American woman with light skin. After graduating from a North American nursing school she returns to her grandmother who lives in the South. We learn that when Pinky was in the northern part of the U.S. she did not divulge information of her African American decent to any of her colleges. To make matters more difficult, Pinky has fallen in love with an doctor who knows nothing of her African-American nationality. Pinky desires to leave the south immediately to return to the north where she can be treated properly. Her grandmother convinces her to stay so Pinky can nurse a wealthy white woman, Mrs. Em. Pinky agrees in resentment and she slowly begins to believe she is headed down the same road her grandmother went down.
At first, tension is high between Pinky and Mrs. Em, but as time passes and Mrs. Em's state of health deteriorates they are met with a quiet but un-deniable respect and friendship. They soon realize how naive they were. Mrs. Em resented Pinky due to her black heritage and Pinky resented Mrs. Em because of how she treated 'Negroes'. This begins a very surprising and short-lived friendship that draws closure to racial barriers in Mrs. Em's life.
THE CRITICISM: Pinky is a naive melodrama that does very little more than accept the fact that the world we live in is one of racial prejudice. Unlike the 1962 masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, Pinky has a very childish view on racism. The best example of this is a spoiler. This is not a particularly amazing ending or a particularly amazing film for that matter, but should you desire to find watch this film, do not read on. In the end when Pinky abandoned the doctor she loved and turns Mrs. Em's mansion that she inherited into a nursing home for young black woman it presents the impossible situation of racism to be stopped by one person. It seems as if everything is right in the small Southern town after Pinky's action come through. I admire Kazan for trying to comment on a cause that certainly needed commenting on, but I wish he could have done it better. As well, this was among the first films to condemn racism. It is hard to believe that just 34 years before Pinky the film The Birth of a Nation was considered a cinematic masterpiece. The Birth of a Nation promotes the K.K.K.
The following point was not a major issue for me, but I know it was a problem for several people who watched the film. Jeanne Crain is supposed to play an African-American woman. How did that happen? Yes, I understand that she is supposed to be Caucasian but it is still difficult to expand our disbelief. We know Pinky's parents are dead, perhaps they inter-racially bred? I have read reviews by average people who watched Pinky and could not get their head around the fact that Pinky was of African American heritage. Pinky would have worked more should Kazan had made an effort to at least find a resemblance between Pinky and her grandmother.
I might as well add that the acting in Pinky was quite good on behalf of Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore and Ethel Waters. However, I wish they had given us a little more time to witness the way in which the relationship between Pinky and Mrs. Em deepens.
Pinky is not a terrible film. However I wish Kazan could have approached the subject of social and racial justice in a more honest manner instead of being so falsely inspirational. Pinky is a sugarcoated and heartwarming film where it should have been raw, aggressive and truthful to the way the world is.
You had me at "Good Evening"
Hitchcock is not a biopic. Despite what many might assume, Hitchcock never intended to be true to the events involving Psycho. Don't get me wrong, Hitchcock is fairly accurate, but of course several aspects were needed to be added for dramatic flare. For example, Whitfield Cooke, never had anything to do with Alma Reville. Now, that said I believe what people's quibble with Hitchcock is that the film itself is not particularly accurate. However, I believe Hitchock is about the characters as opposed to the events. The book that Hitchcock is based off is called "Alfred Hitchcock and The Making of Psycho". Hitchcock isolate the characters, it's not a film about Psycho as much as it is a film about Hitch and his wife. These relationships are placed in the time when they made Psycho because it's certainly the most interesting, most classic and the best moment to see Hitch and Alma together.
Hitchcock is far from a perfect movie, but director Sacha Gervasi did a great job making a fun film filled with classic references that would give any Hitchcock fan a big smile. As well, Helen Mirren certainly deserves some Oscar respect. There is a sequence in Hitchcock that represents the climax in their relationship in which Helen Mirren delivers a long line flawlessly. Behind me in the theatre a woman yelled "AMAZING!", this was followed by an applause. I would have enjoyed hearing that if it weren't for the fact that I missed the next dialogue.
All in all, Hitchcock is memorable. It's fun. It's just simply a good movie that I suggest you see if you love Alfred Hitchcock.
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Royal Tennenbaums flies even higher than Mordecai!
The Royal Tennenbaums DIRECTED BY WES ANDERSON
It takes a truly superb actor to play Royal Tennenbaum, a man who lies
to his family, ignores them, demands their attention, constantly reminds
his daughter she's adopted, breaks his family up, puts them in dangerous
situations, and still manages to merit our undoubted sympathy.
A quite depressed character, the opposite of his brother. Luke proves to
be an actor with some real talent unlike Owen.
Gwyenth Paltrow has done some performances that didn't require much
acting talent, this however is not one of them. This is a dark character
which adds to the more realistically humorous side to the film.
The Film Itself
There's a great blend of humor in this, subtle humor, slapstick humor,
black humor and witty humor. Each actor contributes to one of those
certain categorizes. Wes Anderson uses great camera-work and cuts to
keep us involved and entertained. The darker and more realistic situations
made the film more memorable than the absurd unrealistic situations. The
sets are greatly detailed, especially the scene in the closet. However the
best part of The Royal Tennenbaums is without a doubt the perfect cast.
He was over the top in his fairly uncomical portrayal of Eli Cash. I felt
Owen Wilson's job in the film was to draw in a more mainstream
audience that would come to see Owen Wilson films.
The character Ben Stiller played was unrealistic, over-dramatic and
stereotypical. He's not a likable character, but neither was Royal
Tennenbaum but if Ben Stiller was half the actor Gene Hackman
was he could've made us sympathize him. He didn't.
The Film Itself
One part of this film that brings it down a little are the unrealistic
situations. There's a fine line between an over-the-top situation that's
funny and an over-the-top situation that's funny because you're still
in a state of confusion. There are a few parts in The Royal
Tennenbaums that are an Olympic-gold-medal-of-a jump over that
fine line. Another problem with this film is the originality of the
concept. A comedy about a large semi-dysfunctional family has been
done many a time. But not necessarily as well as this.
Billy Murray's Beard
What more is there to say?
City Lights (1931)
The Times They Are-A Changin'
I've seen for Chaplin's, I've placed them in this order: 4. The Gold Rush, 3. Modern Times, 2. City Lights and 1. The Great Dictator.
When you think of it, City Lights has everything people look for in a movie - comedy, romance, tragedy, action. The one thing City Lights misses is the true meaning that everyone should hear - The Great Dictator has that.
The plot is about a tramp (Charlie Chaplin) who falls in love with a beautiful young flower girl. Being blind she suspects the tramp to be rich.
There's a great range of humour in the great dictator - ranging from a scene subtle making fun of talkies (City Lights is a silent film) to a blatantly slapstick boxing match. This film could be enjoyed by people of all ages.
When you think of a modern comedy you get slightly disappointing, because they have nothing on City Lights. Well, Bob Dylan had it right, The Times They Are-A Changin'.
I give City Lights 10/10 for being there to cheer me up and doing that job better than most movies.
I Confess (1953)
Watch the twist the unroll in front of you, and watch yourself predict them all first!
There is very little other than the basic premise that can be considered intelligent in I Confess.
Let me start of with the basic plot - Montgomery Clift plays a young priest who here's a confession from a fellow priest - confessing to have murdered a man. Clift, being a priest cannot share his confession, so when the cops start to suspect him, he's in big trouble.
Montgomery Clift isn't very good in this. His performance is dull - one feels as if he's staring at a brick lying on the ground. He plays a priest, not once does he pray, not once does I utter the word 'god'. He's certainly no Father Mulcahy! However Anne Baxter delivers an excellent performance as the woman who Clift is having an affair with, her performance takes the form of a tear instead of a brick.
I Confess is fun for sure, but it's a form of basic entertainment, I'm sure in the 50s in pleased very many mainstream crowds, however now in the 2010s I Confess is one of the more predictable Hitchcock's.
I give I Confess 7/10 for being dated, predictable but having one excellent performance.
The Searchers (1956)
Simple and offensive
I didn't like The Searchers. I found it offensive - not only by how racist the characters are - but how the natives are portrayed. The movie is nothing unique. It's a typical western with typical performances. I'm no John Wayne fan but I didn't think his performance was very good in this movie. He always underacts except for one point. However this movie isn't all bad - it has some redeeming qualities. As much as I detested the characters, I wanted them to succeed. The film is about a man (John Wayne) who goes to visit his brother's family when they're attacked by natives and all of everyone except the man, their adopted son (Jeffery Hunter) and a girl survived. Sadly the girl (Natalie Wood) was taken by the natives. It's up to John Wayne and Jeffrey Hunter to save the girl - not matter how much searing is involved. I give the searchers 6/10 for being a typical, offensive western where you cheer for the good guys.
The Great Dictator (1940)
Truly hilarious, Truly Depressing
The Great Dictator is far from what I thought it would be, I thought it would be stupid people falling over on things and calling it humor. But it's certainly not such things. The Great Dictator has layers, the first layer is the layer of slapstick humor, under there's the layer of humor parodying the Holocaust, then there's no humor. Only sadness and despair, which makes it hard to believe you're watching a Chaplin films. In this excellent film, Charlie Chaplin stares as a Jewish barber who wakes up and little does he know, there's the seconds world war going on around him. Meanwhile The Great Dictator of Tomania Hynkel (who resembles Adolf Hitler a little... hmmm...) searches for his way to conquer the world by starting of with ridding it of it's Jews. Hynkel has also has a strange resemblance to the Jewish barber... very strange... The Great Dictator is hilarious and truly moving. I give it a well deserved 10/10 and a place somewhere in my top 100 movies.
Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)
Very good - one of Woody's best
Crimes and Misdemeanors is genius in the way it subtle connects to very different stories into what seems like one large tapestry. The films is hilarious at some parts (especially when Woody Allen walks into his house and says to his wife 'a strange man defecated on my sister') and it's also very pathetic. All of Woody Allen's characters are pathetic, because they face moral issues in some of the most basic scenarios. Crimes and Misdemeanors has a very excellent cast which includes: Woody Allen, Alan Alda (M*A*S*H), Mia Farrow (Rosemary's Baby) and Claire Bloom (The Haunting). Those are just some of the many stars in this film. The plot is fairly simple, to separate men attempt to make a like changing decision, one tries to decide how he can get a woman to fall in love with him (might I mention this man is married) the other must decided whether or not to have the woman he had an affair with killed.
Crimes and Misdemeanor is excellent fun with great acting. 8/10
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Forced Acting and Cliché plot
This was my first viewing of The Breakfast Cub, I'd heard it was film any teenager can relate to. I absolutely disagree. The Breakfast Club is a film about a bunch of teenager sitting around whining about how much they're lives suck. People's issue may be along the lines of this film but there's no way that anybody truly acts like these characters. I did not consider this film humorous or greatly acted. Emilio Estevez and Molly Ringwald's performance were some of the most forced I've see in a long time. I found in the middle it seemed as if their principle was experiencing a 'mid-life crisis' however that was never referred to again. The Breakfast Club is a mainstream flick for teenagers, and that's about all.