Reviews written by registered user
|6 reviews in total|
It's a pity that Brody's award winning acting in "The Pianist" overshadowed what I think was the best performance of his career so far, as the romantically clueless and vocationally strange Steven in "Dummy". The film is just as captivating as "The Pianist", but in totally different ways. Brody completely inhabits of the body, mind, and soul of Steven -- and his dummy -- surrounded by an amazing cast that seems tailor made for each part. The film also includes some of the most subtle and hilarious comedic situations ever. (If you enjoy Wes Anderson or Coen Brothers style humor, then this will be a treat). Brody's Steven is sweet, disturbing, funny, shy and sometimes brave with amazing skill and believability. You feel yourself rooting for him despite all odds. He's a lovable loser that you want to win the girl at last, and I promise he'll be your favorite ventriloquist by the end of the film. If you have an appetite for a unique, well-made movie to restore your faith in movies (and actors) rent "Dummy" tonight.
I have to say that I think Benny & Joon may be one of my favorite Johnny Depp films, along with Edward Scissorhands and Cry Baby. Unfortunately, you don't hear too many people talk about B&J the way they do Johnny's more high profile films, like Pirates of the Caribbean. This film is wonderful because it manages to tell the story of two mentally ill characters and never make them helpless victims. Instead, at their worst they're merely troubled and interesting characters, and at their best they're absolutely charming and heartwarming. Of course, Depp shines with his spot-on Chaplin impressions, and Masterson and Quinn are in top form as well. The real miracle of this film is that it is able to tell a story laced with realism through a whimsical lens, and it walks the tightrope of making one feel good without blatant reassurance. You believe Benny and Joon love one another without a gratuitous sex scene, (only a beautifully sensual one), and the viewer subsequently falls in love with everyone because this is a fine example of the way characters should be developed. Bravo to all involved!
I was really excited about this movie coming out, and I actually read the book in the week prior to its opening so I could compare the two. I was not disappointed, however some of my favorite moments from the book were left out of the movie. On the other hand, I understand that Minghella had to leave out some things from Frazier's sweeping novel or we would have been in the theater for about six hours! I didn't even really have a problem with the alteration of plot surrounding Sally Swanger's character, since what Minghella seemed to do was basically transcribe the story of another brief character in the book onto her character. The only aspect of the movie that left me somewhat disappointed was the way in which Inman and Ada's romance was portrayed in its early stages. In the movie, they have more encounters prior to Inman's leaving than they do in the book, but many of those meetings seem to be missing the kind of magic present in certain scenes within the novel (i.e. the moment when Ada sits on Inman's lap beside the fire). But, the scene between Inman and Sara, the widow, was left pretty much untouched, (another of my favorite moments) and I thought it was wonderful. Also to Minghella's credit, I must say that I thought the scene where Ada goes to see Inman off to war was extremely well done. All in all, I thought it was a visually and thematically beautiful movie that stayed with me long after I left the theater.
I recently viewed this film on TCM for the second time, and I enjoyed it even more. True, the fact that Chaney is in love with a teenager which he raised from a child is somewhat disturbing, but I think Chaney's portrayal in the film shows that he is aware of the inappropriateness of his love, however, he is unable to stop it. I particularly enjoyed the conflict Chaney experiences between his role as a performer and his needs as a human being. He displays a touching sense of obligation, stoicism, and vulnerability that only a master actor such as himself could manage. The final scene where he has fallen is absolutely heart wrenching, especially when he says, "I am an old man" as if he only realizes it for the first time. Complete with a wonderful new score, I would recommend this film for any fan of silent films, or just great acting in general. Long live Chaney!
I recently purchased this film, having never seen it before, and feeling
somewhat peeved at the fact that it is never shown on TCM. Immediately, I
recognized it as one of the best films ever made. The adaptation from the
very dense and wonderful Steinbeck novel obviously required much of the
relationship between Adam and Charles to be deleted, however I felt the
did not suffer from this at all.
James Dean is a completely different animal than the other actors of his time, and from start to finish in this film, he is spellbinding. The emotional intensity and reality he brings to the film is so convincing it is almost painful to watch at times, especially when he goes to see his mother for the first time and he desperately tries to speak to her as he is being wrenched away. The tone of his voice, his subtle gestures, his utter desperation for love is amazing and completely his own. I once read that Dean did not consider East of Eden to be his best film, but I disagree with him there. I have never seen a film (or an actor) that even came close to matching this one, particularly when viewed from its position in time and the nature of cinema in the 1950s. James Dean put himself 'out there' emotionally in such a raw way that the power of that brave acting yet holds the ability to touch the audience with every viewing. I think the film makes a hugely important statement about the human condition that is still valid a half a century later.
I think this film is one of the few that changed our collective view of
moviemaking in general. Warren Beaty and Faye Dunnaway enter the film
a swagger and make no attempt to convince us that they are really good
down or that their actions are forgiveable. They are criminals who get
on violence, and we as viewers are shocked to find that we cannot take our
eyes away. They are killers who confuse and intrigue us by writing poetry
and dressing meticulously.
Among the many brave moves this film makes, Beaty's portrayal of Clyde as a sexually impotent young man is mind-blowing, especially for the era. This could not have been an ego-boosting part to play, but he does it with such amazing care and subtlety. In short, it is a film with very little makeup on -- violent because this story cannot be told in any other way -- and in the moments when it is over the top, it is only to demonstrate the theatrical pace of the crazy life the characters are leading. It is a lasting, guilty pleasure and an adventure into wonderful storytelling. This film cannot be viewed too many times!