Reviews written by registered user
|7 reviews in total|
Usually movies are worse than their trailers. This movie was unusual in
that it was better than its trailer.
The movie was well-written, with a good plot and good characters. It is very well edited.
Richard Gere is very good in this, he's better in this than he was in the Cotton Club (which I liked) and other movies he's been in.
In addition to the plot, there's a theme through the movie where you see how the Gere character lives his life, and compare it to how people like the Nate Parker character live their life. There's a small plot twist or two, but this is what really makes the story. That the theme is alluded to but not completely spelled out I like, the audience's intelligence is respected.
The only problem with the film is there were a too many unnecessary characters, particularly among the lawyers and employees who worked for the Gere character. Particularly all the lawyers. There was also too much going on with the details of the various financial shenanigans the Gere character was involved in. Like when Gere's flunky came out to his limousine. That should have been trimmed some, or crafted differently.
I realize a two hour movie has to cut things out that a mini-series
running five hours can leave in. However, it seems the heart of the
mini-series was cut out. In the end, this is a suspense story - who was
the spy (or spies)? In the mini-series, we are early on introduced to
Alleline, Haydon, Bland and Esterhase, particularly in flashbacks when
Smiley approaches them individually, at Control's request. We can also
see motives for spying - Esterhase is a foreigner, and unmotivated by
British patriotism, Haydon is a fop, Bland is working class with a
left-wing background, Alleline has characteristics which would bring to
mind Kim Philby. This is gone in the movie, we're barely introduced to
the suspected spies, and have no ideas what the motives are.
Then at the end of the movie, when it is revealed, we still don't really get an idea what the motivation for spying was, like we get in the mini-series. The entire Cold War context of this is drained. There was a real Cambridge Five in England, five men from the best families who went to the best schools, yet chose loyalty to the Comintern and the USSR over England. Fiction pieces like this are partially an exploration on what the motivations of such men would be, yet this is completely missing in the film. Absent the suspense, and the character motivations, the movie is rather empty. If they had switched around who the spy was in the movie, would it have made any difference? The answer is no, and that's the failing of this movie, ultimately there's about as much suspense as what card might get picked out of a deck - the answer is drained of all meaning.
I think James Woods is a good actor, I liked Oliver Stone's later
movies like Platoon, JFK and Wall Street, and I'm sympathetic towards
the Salvadoran workers, whom my government unfortunately assisted in
doing terrible things to. But this is just not a well made movie. I
suspect a lot of the ratings are due to people agreeing with the
message of the movie. I agree with the message, but the artistry is off
One thing really off is the mood. I think of Costas Gavras's Z or State of Siege or Missing - those movies had a consistent mood throughout that worked well with the material. Then compare them to this.
This film is a look at "the fourth world war", the global resistance of
the working people of the world against the war being made on us by the
owners of the world. It covers the last few years of this resistance,
from the general strike of workers in South Korea, to the resistance to
launching the war against Iraq.
The documentary is made by the same group which made the excellent documentary "This is What Democracy Looks Like", and like that movie the producers say they are indebted to Indymedia and activist groups for their help in making this. Like that film, this one pretty much lets events speak for themselves - as in that movie, you are in the streets with the people struggling, this time not in Seattle, but in Mexico, Palestine, Korea, Argentina, South Africa and so forth.
There is a gut-wrenching scene of doctors in Jenin trying to save a little girl whose body was completely shot up by Israeli soldiers, and then her father crying over her dead body. One thing that occurred to me while watching this is that this is that I would absolutely never see this on the US corporate media. My tax dollars are what paid for the bullets who shot that little girl, as are every US citizen taxpayers, which is why the existence of such things is completely absent from all that you watch on TV. It is wiped from existence, as surely as commissars in the USSR wiped events from existence. Thankfully, people are out there making films like these.
In the American corporate media, Castro is always played up as some
kind of monster. The corporate media (and a host of draconian laws
help) prevent us from hearing what he has to say. This documentary is
excellent if anything but to give us a chance to hear what Castro has
This was geared for an American audience, most of whom are probably ignorant about who Arbenz was, or Allende, and who probably never heard of the MPLA. It's mentioned at some point in the film that all the bad things that American big business and the CIA do around the world is known around the world - known everywhere except by US citizens. This is true, then again, the US is one of the few industrialized countries who for most of the 20th into the 21st century had almost all of it's radio and television channels, as well as newspaper printing presses controlled by corporations. It's unfortunate that Stone thus feels he has to ask about Cubans in Vietnam and this sort of nonsense which takes up time that could have been used asking more about Castro's perspective of what is going on in Latin America.
Whit Stillman is in solid territory when making movies about upper middle
class and wealthy American WASPs. But I think he does an injustice in
movie to Barcelona, one of the most wonderful cities in the world. Naming
the movie "Barcelona" is almost like it's the definitive movie on
But the movie is about two bozos from the US who come to Barcelona and
much of it alien and hostile. This would be fine from their subjective
standpoint, as it might seem that way for fish out of water, but the movie
makes it seem as if people in Barcelona are objectively the way they're
portrayed, which is quite silly. The "Spanish" people in the movie aren't
even Spanish, the blonde girl is English, and Mira Sorvino is American of
If you want to see a Whit Stillman movie that's better, and where he's on more familiar territory, I suggest you see something like "The Last Days of Disco".
From an artistic perspective, this is an awful film. It did not start as
film originally, it started as a commercial, but was expanded into a
The film was commissioned by General Motors, and was never released
commercially. The film production was supervised by the head of GM's film
division, John K. Ford. The film was meant as corporate propaganda for
except the shoddy manner in which it was done makes Soviet propaganda look
like a masterpiece. Basically the plot goes like this: a politician says
something negative about the town's largest company. The company
then comes in and makes a five minute speech about how much the
has done and the glories of capitalism. Then later on a newspaper writer
says something negative about the company. The corporate executive comes
again and makes a ten minute speech about how great their corporation, and
every American corporation for that matter is. And so on and so forth.
of the characters is Alan Hale, better known as the Skipper on Gilligan's
Island. Marilyn Monroe also has a small part, she is onscreen for less
two minutes. In the end of the movie, the politician/journalist's little
sister gets buried in a cave-in. The company springs into action, and
it's latest developed technology to save her. The company president flies
the girl to a hospital and saves her life. The politician/journalist sees
the light and how wonderful the corporation, and all corporations are.
This unreleased GM inhouse movie was on TV as a late night movie recently (probably because it had two minutes of yet-to-be-a-star Marilyn Monroe in it), it was so awful I had to find out who wrote, directed and produced it. As I said, it was produced by GM - the writer and director was Arthur Pierson. Four years later Pierson would direct "Born In Freedom: The Story of Colonel Drake", a 30 minute movie about the beginning of the oil industry. I had read how US corporations produced a lot of these propaganda films (as well as books etc.) in the 1950's and tried to get them out there before they came upon more subtle and persuasive techniques and not this hard, bang-you-over-the-head with Soviet-style shoddy propaganda. If anything, this movie is an artifact of that happening, and perhaps interesting in that respect.