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|156 reviews in total|
As TUDORS episodes go, this one is relatively light-hearted. Anne is
still very much in Henry's favor, and enjoying all the jewels and
rewards that come along with being a king's favorite. Of course it's a
two way street, as Anne thanks the king warmly and also gives him a bit
of hands-on attention in a charmingly naughty private scene!
Later in the episode, the two of them go to France to meet Henry's friend and "Brother," King Francis. It's very romantic to see how thrilled Henry is to show off his future bride, but also interesting how Francis tries to warn Anne of the dangers ahead once she becomes a queen.
The one weakness in this episode is the ridiculously overheated subplot about evil Vatican agents stalking sexy Anne Boleyn. The dark, gloomy, horror-movie shadows create a mood of comedy, not suspense, especially when Anne and Henry are locked in the throes of passion and a monk with a gun is lurking nearby. You almost expect cheeky Anne to look over at him and say, "is that a huge pistol poking out of your robes, Brother? Or are you just happy to see me?"
I refused to see this movie when it came out, because I'm still having
nightmares from seeing the Robert Redford version "in my younger and
more vulnerable years." I also saw MOULIN ROUGE and I could imagine
only too clearly what Baz Luhrmann was going to do -- two hours of
kaleidoscopic madness in day-glo color.
Much to my surprise, this new version of THE GREAT GATSBY, while not great, is far from terrible. Oh, there were a few horrible slips that made me grind my teeth. Like when a cheerful flapper says "Gatsby's cousin to the Kaiser -- you know, the evil German king." Thanks for the history lesson, Hollywood! Or when Klipspringer is changed from a poor, hungry boarder who plays the piano to a glam-rock version of The Phantom Of The Opera. That was horrible! And it was exactly what I was expecting from Baz Luhrmann.
But there was so much that I didn't expect. I never thought Leonardo DiCaprio would nail Gatsby so completely. He didn't get stuck on the handsome war hero stuff, like Robert Redford. He went deeper. He got the nervousness, the restlessness, the sense that this guy knows he's a fake and is scrambling to keep up with a dream that's getting farther away from him by the second. I thought Carey Mulligan was wonderful as Daisy, too. Every time she seems too shallow and silly to be interesting there's this flash of terrible sadness in her beautiful brown eyes that shows us that this Daisy knows she can never have Gatsby. And that she doesn't deserve him. Oh, and when Daisy delivers her famous line about crying over Gatsby's shirts, Carey makes that work too. It's not her fault idiot-boy Baz has Nick rush in to explain that she's sad over "five lost years." Thanks for clearing that one up too, people! I also want to mention that Joel Edgerton was an amazing Tom Buchanan, if anything maybe a little too sympathetic and likable. The fact that he breaks Myrtle's nose is given much too little attention in this version. But Tom's racism is handled with grim frankness and is totally authentic. Newcomer Elizabeth Dabecki is perfect as Jordan Baker -- the moment when she tells Nick "but it wasn't a coincidence at all," is really heartwarming and hopeful, just like in the novel. I wish we'd seen more of this Jordan. It's interesting that Baz changes the ending so that Nick ends up babbling in an asylum like a refugee from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but he can't rustle up a happy ending for Nick and Jordan.
That would have offended me a lot less than having Nick explain what Daisy means by saying "it makes me sad because I've never seen such beautiful shirts." I got what she meant just fine.
Oh, and why does Klipspringer have to play Bach on the organ instead of "Ain't We Got Fun" on the piano? Because it's cooler? Please!
ALGIERS is just like Casablanca -- only slower, sleazier, sadder.
I realize this movie came first, but it's like every single ingredient was copied -- and improved on -- by the team of screenwriters who hammered together CASABLANCA a few years later.
1.) Cynical, Shady Hero. Check. Except that Pepe LeMoko is just a crook. There's no hint of courage or self-sacrifice in his past. Also he sings a love song while polishing his shoes. I wanted to shove him right off the balcony!
2.) Innocent, High-Class Heroine. Check. Except that Gabrielle in ALGIERS isn't really innocent. She's not truly in love with a distinguished freedom fighter, she's marrying a fat, disgusting slob for money. But at least she looks good in diamonds and jewels!
3.) Corrupt, Lovable Police Inspector Who Secretly Admires the Hero. Check. Except Claude Rains in CASABLANCA plays his part like he's having the time of his life -- like it's FUN to be a corrupt cop. And you sense how much he loves Rick, even when Rick is pointing a gun straight at his heart. ("That is my least vulnerable spot.") The guy in ALGIERS is okay, but he looks so sad and depressed all the time. It's almost like he knows how the movie is going to end!
4.) Slutty Bad Girl Who Clings To The Hero. Check. Except in ALGIERS the local girl who's crazy about Pepe is actually tougher, braver, classier, and more loyal than the heroine! And that kind of shoots the main love story right in the foot, don't you think?
5.) A Colorful Supporting Cast Made Up Of The Usual Suspects. Check. Except that Pepe's gang are all wildly miscast (Alan "Little John" Hale as a sleazy Middle Eastern merchant? I bet the Sheriff of Nottingham thought that one up!) And then there's Stanley Fields (still looking for the Island of Dr. Moreau) and a couple of random guys. These people are just, well, creepy. Oh, and watch when they torture the stool pigeon to death for about TEN MINUTES! Great stuff, if you're watching a Cagney movie, but this is a love story. Isn't it? Isn't it?
6.) Bittersweet Tragic Ending Where Our Hero Doesn't Get The Girl. Check. Except that running after an ocean liner just looks stupid. Watching a plane take off is classy. I don't know if anyone even realized just how funny it was when Pepe was bolting down the dock screaming like a banshee -- and then gibbering like an idiot. And what were Pepe's last words? Here's looking at you, kid? We'll always have Paris? No, I think Pepe was saying, let's get it right next time!
I saw this movie on HBO at the age of 18 in 1981. At that time I was a
very immature teen torn up with anger about many things in my quiet,
suburban home. The idea of not having parents, of living on the
streets, of running with other kids and fighting side by side with
them, was incredibly exciting to me.
Looking back, I'd be tempted to say that it's a stupid movie. That I've outgrown it. But really, it's just not true. The WARRIORS is not a cheap movie that sensationalizes violence. It's a quiet, haunting film. From the very first image -- the Ferris Wheel at night -- to the very end -- the last surviving WARRIORS walking along the beach, purified by the waves after a night of combat -- every moment and every action rings true.
A lot of critics will say that the cast of the WARRIORS "can't act." It's more accurate to say that they don't need to act. Everyone reads their lines as if emotions simply don't matter to them one way or another. There's a stoicism, a fatalism, a sense that these WARRIORS have already accepted that every night they walk the streets may be their last night on earth.
This movie shouldn't seem real. It shouldn't feel like a classic. But it does.
THE NIGHT STRANGLER is a better Kolchak movie than the original THE
NIGHT STALKER for the following reasons.
1.) Production values are obviously much higher. The sights of Seattle and the local color are much richer and the cinematography is much better.
2.) Better supporting cast. Wally Cox is unforgettable as Titus Berry, Kolchak's greatest research assistant ever. But Al Lewis as the tramp is also brilliant, and so is Joanne Pflug, much funnier than Carol Lynley and just as sexy as Kolchak's love interest. And the old lady professor is brilliant. And the villain, aka Malcolm Richard, or Richard Malcolm, or Oscar Goldman. And of course Simon Oakland rules as Vincenzo. And don't forget Hollywood legend John Carradine as the feared Crossbinder!
3.) Much better story for the villain. While the vampire in THE NIGHT STALKER is just a one-dimensional hissing baddie, the tragic doctor in this movie has a backstory and a heartbreaking personal history. And his quiet sadness and horror at what he has done makes the horrifying climax even more upsetting. This is no common mad scientist, but a tragic hero on the level of Dr. Faust!
4.) Much more subtlety and dimension to the chilling horror. Watch the scene where Kolchak paints the mustache on the doctor's portrait. It's broad daylight, and a whole crowd of people are laughing, but as you start to see what Kolchak sees -- the man long dead is clearly still alive today -- a chill runs down your spine. Ditto the scenes were Kolchack and Mr. Berry are hunting old newspaper headlines. Couldn't be funnier, yet as the pattern develops it becomes quietly chilling.
5.) Don't mess with Vincenzo. The chemistry between Kolchak and his boss is just as explosive here as in the original. "All right, I'm willing to buy that these two sets of murders might be connected. I'm even willing to buy that they might have been committed by the same man. But a man, Kolchak, a man. Not some sort of a SUPER DEAD MAN!"
Since I gave CATCHING FIRE a bad review, I wanted to come back and say
how much I loved the original movie, THE HUNGER GAMES.
It's so easy to make fun of this movie as if it's just another teen exploitation product, like the TWILIGHT movies. Certainly there are times when it feels that way. A lot of people say it rips off other action epics, everything from RUNNING MAN to ROLLERBALL.
But THE HUNGER GAMES also has elements of much older films, like THE GRAPES OF WRATH (hillbillies coping with poverty in a dignified way) and ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (corrupt government forces young people into pointless war) and even GONE WITH THE WIND (in a time of turbulence, a headstrong, independent, strikingly beautiful young woman must save her family and deal with her feelings for two very different beaus.)
This is not to say that it's a great movie all the way through. It's not always convincing as a study of totalitarian governments. As a drama it's often corny and derivative. The real point is that Jennifer Lawrence can do anything and make it seem fresh and new. She can be honest and stubborn in the face of social injustice (like Henry Fonda as Tom Joad), sensitive and thoughtful in the midst of combat (like Lew Ayres as Paul Baumer in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT) and she can even be innocent and sensual and provocative all at the same time (like Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara.)
Quite a range for a young actress who's still learning her craft!
So disappointing! I was truly blown away by the first HUNGER GAMES
movie, mainly because Jennifer Lawrence was utterly sensational as
Katniss Everdene, the tough, resilient girl from the wrong side of the
There's something stunningly new and fresh about the way Jennifer Lawrence fills up the screen. She's so classically beautiful, and she really owns that beauty in the relaxed, sensual manner of great female icons like Elizabeth Taylor or Grace Kelly. Yet when the action scenes begin, she's as tough and menacing as Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson, without sacrificing any of her natural feminine allure. And when the story turns serious, and she's the spokesperson for an oppressed people in a starving nation, she has the same kind of moral dignity we used to see in male stars like Charlton Heston or Gregory Peck.
Yet with all that, this formulaic sequel can't even approach the impact of the first film. How? How can you make Jennifer Lawrence look bad in a ground-breaking role in a new genre she literally invented? I hate the fact that this movie actually takes Katniss backwards. She's less in control, less courageous, less defiant, less warm-hearted, and less respected than in the first film. It's so horribly obvious that even the characters in the movie joke about it. "See, this is why we don't let you make the plans," says Haymitch, at the very end of the movie, when Katniss is actually asserting herself (for a change.) It's a good joke, but it shows just how badly this franchise has lost its way. Clumsy plot, lousy dialog, stupid special effects and music that just sounds like an endless elevator ride at the mall.
Two stars for Jennifer Lawrence and the way she fills up the screen. And two stars for Jena Malone, whose character comes out of nowhere and actually generates a little humor and energy in the endless, seen-it-all-before action sequences. But other than that, my God it was dull and slow.
Oh, and one special note about Donald Sutherland. He is a very, very old man. He really should hang it up and retire. Back when he was Jennifer Lawrence's age, he was in a grade-Z thriller called DIE, DIE, MY DARLING, supporting a decrepit and decaying Tallulah Bankhead. He played a mentally challenged boy raised by a crazy old woman, and all he had to do was make moronic facial expressions and moan "praise ye the Lord!" while the old woman read the Bible.
But that role was positively dignified compared to this.
I saw this movie on Thanksgiving night after watching CATCHING FIRE at
a holiday matinée. And it's really sad how far down movies have gone in
the last sixty years.
Watch TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH and compare it to modern movies like the HUNGER GAMES franchise. It's shot in black and white, with minimal special effects. (Indeed the combat footage is actual combat footage.) No poisonous fog or CGI baboons all hopped up on goofballs.
This movie starts as a bomber group comes back from a run. They show no blood and guts, but the talk will literally make you sick to your stomach. It's that real, that wrenching. Instead of pretty "tributes" having their faces in the sky they talk about arms and legs being blown off in combat. And your imagination does the rest, if you're old enough to actually form mental pictures based on the tough, honest dialog.
So then, the leader of the group begins to crack up. And it's not funny, it's not some weepy teen tantrum either. It's a grown man admitting that he can't cut it anymore. And then Gregory Peck comes in, determined to get the job done no matter what the cost in human lives. Imagine, a fully grown adult male in a leadership position!
This movie is about war, and moral choices. But it's also about the nature of fatherhood. Gregory Peck seems to have specialized in exploring this theme, in films as strikingly different as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH, and even THE OMEN. In all three films he is the father who has to make the tough choices, torn between protecting his children and forcing them to take on adult responsibilities. 12 O'CLOCK HIGH demonstrates the meaning of "tough love" long before the phrase became cheapened by popular media. Yet 12 O'CLOCK HIGH shows the price of tough love, just as THE OMEN shows what happens when tough love becomes too tough and becomes crazed brutality. (In a sense Damien was a deadbeat just like the boys in the Leper Colony in this film. Sometimes the bad seed cannot be redeemed.)
This movie doesn't glorify war, but it does suggest that without role models, such as father figures who demand respect and insist on discipline, children are likely to remain children forever. It's no accident that in a movie like THE HUNGER GAMES or CATCHING FIRE, the adult authority figures are either villains or clowns. Whether it's the drunken Haymitch or the sinister President Snow or the campy Effie Trinket, only caricatures of adults are permitted in modern films.
TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGH is the kind of movie they just don't make anymore. Because everyone knows that only teenagers are cool and it's only cool to be an adult if you're trying to stay a teenager forever.
The irony of GAME CHANGE is that it reveals more about liberal
hypocrisy and the flaws of the feminist elite than it does about the
rise and fall of Sarah Palin. What comes across most clearly is not
that Sarah Palin was unqualified but that the college-educated women on
her own team resented her for class reasons that had nothing to do with
Late in the picture, when Sarah is being criticized, she says something to the effect of, "well, Hillary Clinton does the same thing and no one objects." And then her own female staffer says, "yes, and you're SO MUCH like Hillary." And we're meant to see that as a brilliant put down? Why? Because Sarah Palin's parents weren't rich enough to send her to Wellesley College? Or because she overcame economic and class-based obstacles Hillary never had to face?
The real message of the film is not that Republican policies are wrong but that working class people have no business aspiring to high political office -- or even taking an active interest in politics. If this is really what liberals think then they really are corrupt and dishonest beyond Sarah Palin's wildest dreams.
But I give GAME CHANGE seven stars because Julianne Moore, Edd Harris, and Woody Harrelson all give superb performances. The real tragedy is that the story didn't focus on John McCain. The writers plainly see him as a tragic hero, a noble man who discovers midway through the election that his own followers are nothing but racist subhuman scum -- and then loses the election on principle. Whether you believe that scenario or not, the fact is that McCain emerges as a much more compelling and sympathetic figure than Sarah Palin. Presumably an Annapolis graduate meets the liberal definition of a "well-born" American eligible for high office.
This movie was fascinating and disgusting at the same time. The people who made it are just as bigoted and ignorant as any of the people they attack. Only they don't know it.
There's so much wrong with this movie version of ANNA KARENINA, beyond
the fact that Keira Knightley has no idea what kind of person Anna is,
or why she does what she does, or what the point of her story might
You see, the real problem is with the men at the top, Tom Stoppard who wrote the screenplay and Joe Wright (aka Joe Blow, aka Joe Mama, aka Clown Boy) who directed from puppet central. They are afraid to offend anyone. So they deliberately cast weak, incompetent actors for the major parts because they don't like or understand Tolstoy's world view.
VRONSKY -- many reviewers have compared this pouffed up, vaguely effeminate, clown-version of Vronsky to Gene Wilder in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. They are correct. The real Vronsky would have been better portrayed by someone like Charles Bronson, or Yul Brynner. But a brutal, threatening, masculine Vronsky would have raised the stakes in a way a "polite" modern audience wouldn't have liked or understood. Making him a metrosexual makes the love story less threatening for a sophisticated audience that can't acknowledge sex as a brutal, lawless enterprise. So bring in the pouffed up pretty boys!
LEVIN -- Why cast a fifteen year old skateboarder with a phony beard to play a tough, virile man of the earth like Levin? Well, an authentic Levin would make the polite modern audience just as uncomfortable as an authentic Vronsky. Levin is an aristocrat who feels genuine shame at his unearned privilege and who works very hard to sweat for his daily bread. The problem is that a modern audience doesn't want to see that sort of thing because it raises the embarrassing fact that the gap between rich and poor in the modern world is even more glaring than it was in Czarist Russia. (The poor still have nothing, but the rich have so much more, like DVD's full of empty glamorous movies like this.) It's easier to picture a goofball Levin scything away just for the fun of it, like he's a hot-dogging skateboarder, without any of that tiresome pain and fear and guilt. So that's how he's portrayed.
ANNA KARENINA -- Some people say Keira Knightly can only play bitches. Other people say she can only play herself. But I don't think it's just personal flaws that make her performance so lifeless. You see, the nub of the problem is that bringing the "real" Anna to life would shock and outrage the sophisticated feminist audience. They don't want to see the woman Tolstoy wrote about -- a woman who is genuinely remorseful, wracked with guilt, and deeply ambivalent about her own bad behavior. The film makers are actually playing it safe, making Anna just another fiery virgin who stands up for herself. The real Anna is neither fiery, nor a virgin. But it's not just that Keira plays what she knows how to play. The film makers present what they know the audience can handle. Ambivalence, self-disgust, tragedy -- those things are too scary to take on. Better to just pretend this is Elizabeth Bennett standing up to Mr. Darcy, and not something infinitely more tragic and adult.
So basically, whenever Anna is arguing with her husband Karenin, (and who would have thought that Jude Law would be the only actor to hold up his own end) she isn't allowed to show remorse, regret, or human feelings of any kind. All she can do is look spoiled and spiteful, like she's a fifteen year old being told she can't stay out till 3 AM. Every time Karenin brings up tiresome stuff like duty and responsibility Keira just goes into her spoiled spitfire eye-rolling frenzy, not because that's all she knows how to do but because that's all she's allowed to.
Because the men at the top are playing it safe.
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