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The Real Rocky (2011)
When your admired hero shows the flaws, you cringe...
And Stallone showed what he truly is made of.
The Rocky Franchise is worth OVER a Billion dollars and Stallone could not throw Mr. Wepner a few crumbs?
I admired Stallone for decades, laughed at his revolving door of broads, escapades, self- promotions, etc., and shook it all off as part of "the life in Tinsletown".
But to make definite statements that Wepner inspired Rocky I, using Wepner's life almost to the exact T, then denying it when facing a legal court-ordered Deposition just turned me off.
Is it me, or could have more good will and faith been brought on by Stallone had he done the right thing when Wepner called? Don't say that you did not know better, Mr. Stallone. Some of us can't be fooled twice by the same person.
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Grand Story about a Grand Hotel in another World...
*** MINIMAL SPOILERS***
It all starts with the story.
Any successful Film, Novel, short story, etc., that is well-regarded and respected by audiences and creators alike all tend to agree that a great work starts with a great story.
Add dashes of dark, black-magical comedy, sprinkled with exquisite European flavor, and plot elements of an episodic caper, the product is a modern masterpiece of the highest Cinematic quality.
Many of the comedic elements are props such as the cactus in the Waiter's rooms, the three daughters of the deceased Madame X, and the valued painting, "Boy with Apples" all lend parts to link the plot to the humorous side of the movie.
Cast was top-notch, superb. Not one actor seemed out-of-place. Cameos by Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and others boosted the Montage sequence of the other Concierges, belonging to the "Cross-keys" club, to a great level of acceptance of believability during M. Gustave's dire hour of true need.
Without mentioning the main plot, let me state here that the "war" happens at close to mid- movie. The War hastens both Protagonists and Antagonists to act quickly to achieve their respective goals.
The portrayal of the War men are next to actual Nazi's. However, Director Wes Anderson chose to change enough details to give the soldiers the appearance of Nazi's, and never naming them via dialogue. Even the flags were changed. Some will feel that Anderson should have just spit right out what and who they were, but after careful consideration after the third viewing, I decided that the former choice from Anderson was by far the wisest, in the name of good taste.
That is not to say that Anderson did not hold back any notion of neutrality regarding the Soldiers; the way he shows how dumb they were is actually part of original writer Stephan Zweig's actual feelings and depictions of the Soldiers. Zweig, as many millions of other people, wanted the Nazi's to fail and did not hold back in telling so.
The main characters, M. Gustave( Ralph Fiennes) and Mr. Moustafa( F. Murray Abraham/younger version by Tony Revolori) were fully developed; they were the story. Most of the other characters, such as Agatha( Saoirse Ronan) were developed enough for the audience to identify with the roles and parts they had in the story. Harvey Keitel's character, a prisoner, did not need much developing because he only serves the story as a prisoner that escapes with M. Gustave. Agatha is developed enough for us to see that she only sees herself as a cook/chef, but also is clever enough to save the day via the Mendl bakery-tool action, and her attempt to retrieve the Hitchcock-esque MacGuffin painting, "Boy with Apple".
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a character in itself; the setting amongst the best background scenery in the world, the baths, the corridors, high ceilings, pastel colors, matching carpeting and walls, outdoor structures, gives you the feeling that you would enjoy your stay there. The Staff, at least in the days of M. Gustave, would have to be the best they could possibly be, and that element serves the story as well.
The character M. Gustave, well-played by Ralph Fiennes. The ultimate Renaissance Man of the world of the 1930's, smooth as silk with the rich old ladies, gives many the impression of the casual wanna-be cad, but further development of M. Gustave shows that he is quite capable of mercy, teaching his portage(s) all of his own secrets of service, and can get tough when he needs to, like in that prison. M. Gustave was capable of loyalty, and restraint when his protégé did not like him flirting with Agatha.
Willem Dafoe plays "Jopling", the "Hit-Man/Enforcer" for the Rich lady's children. Dafoe does a great job here.
Back to original writer Zweig: he writes this beautiful story that has all human elements of emotions, such as greed, murderous plots, the Nazi takeovers of nearby lands in Europe on one hand, but the other has Moustafa meeting Aagatha, M. Gustave and his adventures, and Moustafa's great ability to recall everything as relayed to the young writer( Jude Law). Moustafa has lived a lot of his life in total loneliness, but not bitter. Moustafa hangs on to the treasured times with Agatha, and to some extent, M. Gustave.
Zweig paints the picture of the Nazi's for the barbarians they truly were. In Zweig's world, even the Nazi's could not destroy man's hope, man's capacity to survive and outlast evil, and to flourish fully, as Moustafa surely did with Agatha.
In conclusion, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a great movie. 10 for 10. No questions asked. This little movie takes the audience into another world, in another time, in other circumstances, albeit grim at times. Extremely enjoyable movie. Well paced, sharp dialogue, masterful cinematography.
It all starts with the story...
Avoiding Forever (2012)
Great product from an aspiring Filmmaker. Kept the story simple, about troubled youth's reaction of a perceived nowhere future in the small town.
Video quality is top-notch, sound is great, credits appropriately placed/spaced well. Soundtrack fits the theme of the story.
As for most movie shorts/student films, budgetary limitations play a large factor of what can and cannot be done. This Director used what he had and kept the locations easy, all daylight, and the main prop was the car.
Well done, and look forward to seeing more!
We Were Soldiers (2002)
Attention!!! to detail, that is...
This movie was outstanding, moving, excellent, and it the BEST war movie genre film of all-time. This movie displaces the French "Captaine Conan" as the once-best war movie ever made. Mel Gibson outdid himself here. Based on DOCUMENTED FACTS this movie is as close to the real truth, almost a Documentary feel to it's delivery. The washing out of the blood off the choppers, the cowards back at their "safe" haven barking at those who WERE facing enemy fire on a minute basis, the wives' constant torture worrying about their husbands WHO WERE SOLDIERS...
There really IS a LTC Moore and he was instrumental for Mr's Gibson/Wallace to insert the intricate details, however minute, in this classic. A shame this movie was overlooked by many, and few, if any, substantial awards. Sometimes true class stands alone....
Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Cinematography leads the way for outstanding movie
and the ultimate purpose of creating a movie is: ENTERTAINMENT. And this movie did entertain me, and held my attention from the first exquisite image to the end.
The acting and casting was superb, and way too much was made out of the Chinese Actresses playing Japanese parts; as I am unfamiliar with ANY of the cast here it gave me the true chance of measuring their performances with complete objectivity. Again, outstanding is the word to describe the acting.
The background for the time-lines were depicted accurately, and a lot of hard work had to be put into this movie.
Other things that I relished about this movie:
1) very few special effects; 2) no car crashes/explosions; 3) no graphic sexual activity; 4) no excessive profanity, and hard to recall any at all. May not be any profanity. 5) Story content was something I had not seen before, and done with taste and class. Not the "cookie-cutter" formula the Hollywood machine continues to wring profits out of the "dumbed-down" American audiences.
This great movie only won 3 Oscars and a few other awards. What a shame! What does that tell you about the people who decide on such awards???
Wild at Heart (1990)
David Lynch can tell a story and takes chances - HIS way!
Mr. Lynch is genuine and this is evident by the strange, unorthodox movies he makes. Strong characterizations, vivid imagery makes his films unforgettable. Let's face it - it is the unforgettable ones have a most profound effect on the audiences, thus this filmmaker has done the job - told the story in a way that you are going to remember - for a long, long time! Yes Mr. Lynch has some audience members that do not like his films. Those who don't give Mr. Lynch a fair shake can go back to their secure, Hollywood cookie-cutter cinematic jokes-for-products, and that way they will remain happy in their own world. Mr. Lynch's world, as we can see in this movie Wild at Heart, is much more complex and emphasizes on the bizarre, macabre, and almost the unthinkable. Mr. Lynch takes chances in this Industry, and chance-takers are not really made to be felt welcome; too much controversy scares the Majors into thinking that future ticket sales will slump. Be they right or not, the Studios should not be afraid to hire Directors like Mr. Lynch - for every one who will be "offended" for unsuitable content, there will be someone else who will buy the tickets. Nevertheless, Directors that have an "edge" may find work hard to obtain. The trade-off is that they are their own people and their artistry enables the to hold their heads up high for not "selling out" to the conservative Studios.
I have seen Eraserhead, Elephant Man, and now this one. Because it is Mr. Lynch as Director, I will get Mulholland Drive and the Twin Peaks TV shows on DVD. Mr. Lynch also went to American Film Institute( AFI), not too far from where I live.
Mr. Lynch also did a good job on the Special Features interviews regarding this very different movie. He appears to not have an ego whatsoever - he gave me the impression he truly loves and believes in what he does - tells the story - HIS way - not the Hollywood machine cash-cow-easy-on-the-masses way! Mr. Lynch keep up the good work! You ARE appreciated!
Une belle fille comme moi (1972)
Truffaut covers many themes and the unexpected runs throughout this underrated classic
Humor, action, suspense, romance all rolled into this underrated Truffaut film; circa 1972 and probably was not well received during the titles' release. Starting out as a research project for female criminals, to "saving" an innocent prisoner then onto getting imprisoned yourself( The Professor) and the ultimate betrayals from the ones who are charged to protect people from such evils, the Attorney.
Bernadette Lafont stars as Camille, the imprisoned woman who has had bad luck since childhood( and she does not help her causes along the way at the most inopportune times), shines and carried this movie the entire way. Her beauty and expressions are at the highest levels ever seen on the silver screen.
Yes, many plots and twists, but they are all spaced and placed in order, via flashbacks in the very beginning, and the sequences of subsequent events throughout this film make sense. The audience is not quite sure if Camille deserved her fate in prison and what her true character is like; will she repay the Professor for freeing her as he freed her in kind? Did Camille have what it takes to be faithful to a man or did the continuing bad luck and survival force her into the "easier way out"? The audience cannot possibly expect how this movie turns out, thus achieving the rare quality of total suspense.
Cinematography is excellent for a 1972 film, and getting an Exterminator, Western-style Saloon washed-up whiskey-soaked wanna-be and the other characters were all a credit to good writing, and finally, fantastic directing by Truffaut. Part of the French New Wave of Cinema was the exclusion of Studio sets and backgrounds, and it is evident that Truffaut was a Master of locations as he selected unforgettable places and structures.
Many say Truffaut was an overrated director. I say not so. Truffaut was brilliant and left this world too soon. If you want to see overrated, keep seeing the Hollywood cookie-cutter promoted-to-the-hilt templates that are the cash-cow machine for the industry.
Miss Congeniality (2000)
How could Michael Caine not won anything for his performance as Victor??? He nearly steals the show and seems to have produced the most focused characterization for his role as rarely seen on any film. What a shame and it is no wonder the producers could not get him for the sequel. Mr. Caine provides a superior support role and was overlooked for his efforts. At the end of the movie, someone needed to convince Gracie to some back inside the Hotel for her "farewell" as a surprise, and of course Victor was the one, and the only logically believable character to convince Gracie to come back inside. Victor had a lot of knowledge pertinent to the Pageants, as well as the "inside" politics of the Pageants, and applied every ounce of brilliance to transform Gracie to becoming a "Total Woman" and his own portrayal of a Support Team Member. Victor's character was so vitally important to this story that without him, there would have been no Gracie the contestant, a crucial cog in the wheel of this movie.