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19 reviews in total 
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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Historical Portrait of dark period, 24 February 2012

Oss is a city with a violent past, a city which has seen numerous changes both on industrial, criminal and civilized levels. These changes were seen all over the Netherlands, but for that period of time no example was so striking or extreme like it was in Oss.

André van Duren is a case of good Dutch film-maker which has lots of quality and not too much work. He has proved his skill with historical portraits in the past and De Bende van Oss is one of the few successful attempt to portray the region of Oss in that period. Cleverly shot in Ravenstein, Herpen, Keent and Oss itself, with the exception of some studio work, all feels quite authentic.

The cast is mostly put together from Brabanders (the province in which Oss lies) and this works well enough. Of course, they cannot speak with the right dialect for the film should be understood all over the Netherlands, but that doesn't bother much. The acting balanced between realistic and over the top.

This is the case with the entire film. It's brought with realism but there are many grotesque elements present. Somehow the film manages to find a delicate balance between those two. The soundtrack by Paleis van Boem works nice and gives it a special touch.

There are some problems with the film, like the gangleader is the least scary and convincing of the entire gang and he is more clown than Capone at times (not in a good way) but the rest of the cast carries him well enough so you won't really be bothered by it.

This film did cost about 3,5 mil euros which is a large budget for the Netherlands. If you think they transformed and built a convincing world with that money on par with 50+ mil Hollywood productions I can't help to wonder how we in our humble country manage to do it sometimes.

A good film, sometimes a little unsolid and at times plain great with many human touches, this is a film of which the Dutch people can be proud and will largely entertain themselves with.

Mariken (2000)
Funny movie for both children and adults, 22 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Mariken is a nice film/TV series. It is quite a rich production, sharply shot and with a very thorough art department. The main aiming is towards children, but for an adult the experience of watching it might be entirely different.

There are many layers in this film. At a certain point (minor spoiler) Mariken is forced to choose between two women as their mothers. Except for the joy she experiences when the good mother candidate appears and she shows no doubt, we stay with the lesser mother candidate and see how her heart breaks. No character is pure evil, quite uncommon for children's tales, and even the good ones balance on a thin line.

But this realistic world is seen through the eyes of a child. Some things one might see as logical are a matter of question for her and some horrific incidents are just deeds of dire need for Mariken.

A nice movie with much depth for adult and enjoyment and cheering for children. But in truth, you do not need children to watch this film.

Excellent!, 20 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The day before yesterday I saw A Pistol For Ringo. I disliked it for many reasons and I wondered why that movie is such a miss. Luckily, the crew must have thought the same thing when they began with this movie and came to the same conclusions as I did.

The Return of Ringo is not really a sequel. It are the same actors and the scar is the same on Ringo's face, but that is about it.

The difference is huge. The crew is identical, but both the cinematographer and the editor now delivered a great job! The are great shots, at many angles. There are lots of symbols in this movie, great use of reflections and yes, great use of colors. This movie shares most of the bleak Almeria landscape that we know, but flowers are completely acceptable in this movie as a way to give the look color. The closeups are great and camera movements go beyond the Totals that pan a little we know from the first Ringo movie. The editing is razor sharp, obviously cut to the music.

The acting might be almost the same to the first movie, which is good enough, only now we can actually see them act, instead of watching it from a distance. The cast is almost the same, with some characters playing roles that are very similar.

The sets are great, and now finally there seems to be time or budget for decent light for the indoor scenes. The costumes are a lot better; what the people wear seems to be more fitting for their parts and the heroes of this movie aren't to clean. Gemma no longer walks around in costumes that looks like they come from a comedy, and not only because the story requires it.

In every Morricone scored movie, you just cannot say "the music seems fitting", since the maestro always adds something special to a movie. In this film, he hits the mark. Although the score tends to sound more like a Tiomkin/Steiner Hollywood western than something from the Dollar trilogy, it is a pure Morricone. Quite unusual on some scenes (they even used a piece that is believed to be originally composed for John Huston's 'Bible, in the Beginning' in a great scene where the protagonist meets his daughter), but effective nonetheless.

Not all scenes are perfect, but that is compensated. Like a (minor spoiler) great scene with a wedding between coffins, or the scene with the daughter mentioned above...these give this western something that makes it stand out among others.

And cheers for the director, since he is the man that was most involved of all.

I had my doubts before watching this movie, purely based on the first Ringo film, but don't let one Ringo title bring down the other!

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
weak spaghetti western that could have been one of the better, 20 May 2010

Based on the dubbed Koch media version.

If we would take one genre and analyze it, the western is the most obvious. Themes appear and come back because they work. Style means everything, the story comes in second. Acting is not really required; (most characters are sociopaths anyway) as long as the stars of the film have the right face. Spaghetti westerns have style.

The greatest weakness of this movie is exposed in the opening shot; the lack of style. Sure, there is a form of style, but its not the style a western need. The spaghetti western is a pretty vulnerable subgenre since the lack of budget requires for real talent. Choices must be made and especially in Italian westerns, these choices push the film towards greatness or towards weakness. The first shot says a lot. The camera work is completely uninspired. We see all characters from a strange distance most of the time (I saw the widescreen version), almost like a stageplay filmed from the audience! Most scenes are played out in one shot, leading to an enormous lack of intensity in almost every scene! The characters seem to be dressed by the wardrobe department of a western TV series for children (clean shaven, way too much color, clothes in excellent condition and stupid looking hats).

A western seems to profit from being unrealistic, creating a myth of some sorts, but this movie does none of the above. That not every director is Sergio Leone or John Ford for that matter, seems obvious, but some link is needed to feel for the story. The story itself is good. In the hands of a more skilled director, it might even be a real classic! It doesn't matter it's over the top sometimes, but it does matter if the things that ARE over the top are not filmed that way. Someone being smashes through a wall seems very silly if filmed like a dialog without any notable emotions. It's just the action we see, nothing more.

The locations are good. The exteriors are superb, the interiors are weaker. Not that the locations are not good, but the light is completely uninspired! The interiors look like the are filmed under the light of TL light. It looks like a modern office! The cast itself is good; they do what they should. Only two of the main characters (Ringo and the Sheriff) seem schoolboys playing cowboy. Fernando Sancho as Sancho is a great villain, but the camera doesn't seem to appreciate him. Only beauty Nieves Navarro seems to be aprreciated by the camera. Maybe the director or the DOP fell in love with her and only concentrated on the shots with her in the center. The sound quality of the English track is a bit muddy sometimes, but understandable.

The music is good. I say good, while it could have been great. Morricone composed yet another great score. The tracks itself are good. Some honky tonky music is present, but the real western themes are great. From a main theme that sometimes seems to be bordering lounge music, to a soaring trumpet theme; Maestro Morricone is really the absolute best in his line of work! It's a shame that the editing is never really done to the pace of the music. The music works, but could have carried the movie if only it was not used as ambient.

There is many more to tell about this movie, but it comes down to one thing. There is a lot to see in this one, but when it's simply not filmed or filmed incorrectly, there is not much left to admire. Maybe it's due to lack of budget, but if they somehow could make this movie really work, it might become a classic.

6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
strong TV production, 14 September 2009

in recent years, the story of Italian magistrate Giovanni Falcone has been told and retold many times. Some of those productions are loosely based on the truth, others come very close to a documentary.

Solidly directed by the brothers Andrea Frazzi and Antonio Frazzi (Andrea died before this production was released), 'Giovanni Falcone, l'uomo che sfidò Cosa Nostra' is more than just a recording of the happenings in Italy between 1980 and 1992. It has become an emotional statement, and admiration of Giovanni Falcone and the people surrounding him.

Where 'Giovanni Falcone, l'uomo che sfidò Cosa Nostra' differs from other productions, is that the mafia is completely faceless. Some mafioso appear, but they are only instruments, and only the names of the politicians are named. That none of the top-people are portrayed on the side of the mafia, makes their presence only scarier.

Constantly in focus are Massimo Dapporto as Falcone and Elena Sofia Ricci as Francesca Morvillo, the love of his life. 99% of the viewers already know how the story will end, and instead of taking each step of the life of both, we take their relationship and the strength that came from it. I must admit that I found this very romantic. I don't know both actors, but they preformed very well.

The rest of the cast shows many regulars. If you saw "Il capo dei capi" like I did, you'll recognize many faces. This happens with many Italian production of crime related series; especially if you've seen La Piovra.

The camera-work is very adept; it's not really dramatic and it has a bleak look, so it's closer to La Piovra and La Scorta than most modern productions that tend to over-use a yellow sepia for Sicily. The editing is text-book perfect; there is nothing special here, but it matches the pacing of the series perfectly.

I would like to mention Morricone's soundtrack. It's a little bit the regular work the man has done for 40 years, but that doesn't make it less excellent. There only seems to be written one dramatic piece, and it appears and re-appears lots of times, but never bothers. Morricone scored this series a bit on the safe side, but still moved me. Doesn't happen much that you can mention both 'usual' and 'excellent', but with Morricone, this applies again and again.

Not all aspects of the life of Giovanni Falcone are told here. In some films, some things are done better, others things seems weaker. If you don't know which version you'd like to watch; this series is a sure bet. If you already saw Giovanni Falcone, Faclone(Excellent Cadavers), Il Capo dei Capi, La Scorta and even Il Divo and aren't really hungry for more depth in the same subject, you might want to give this one a pass. If you want another take of the same story, just enjoy this one.

A strong production that has it's own quality, but might suffer from all the competition out there.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Flawed but enjoyable!, 17 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a strange movie. It's flawed and messy, but I enjoyed it.

The story jumps from 1970 to 1968 to 1939 and back and forth for a couple of times, but this never annoyed me. The problem is that there happens just too much; like the movie doesn't know where to focus on (the music, the romance, brotherhood, mystery?). The beginning is perfect, but it descends into chaos.

The acting is very diverse. Hans Matheson plays the main character. I think he must be about 18 years old most of the time, but he giggles and jumps around like an 8 year old girl. And so do all is friends, who seem to overact in every scene. Other actors, like Mélanie Thierry, Gabriel Byrne, Ricky Tognazzi and Peter Vaughn act just great. (SPOILER)But it seems very strange that many of them are portrayals of each other in different stages of the lives, they don't look like each other at all!(/SPOILER).

The music must be mentioned. The music carries the movie. I do have the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone (and pieces by Bach, Pagiani, Dvorak and a Debussy) and it's excellent. The music, when preformed in the movie, literary brought me to tears. The Canone Inverso is a very moving piece, the concerto too (don't remember the exact name). A faintly distorted Clair De Lune is very beautiful, but is used a little too much (the piece on the CD only appears once and runs about 2 minutes, but appears maybe 10 times in the movie). Without doubt, the music is the best thing about this movie. It's the heart of the movie, and if music plays such a role, which composer is a better choice than Italian maestro Morricone? The production itself is very good. The sets look great and it seems that the put most of the budget for sets to good use. Most of the movie revolves around Prague and seems to be filmed there. It all feels very real, but don't expect Doctor Zhivago.

This movie by Ricky Tognazzi is flawed. But a flawed gem can be great too. It's very romantic and the film breathes romance most of the time. When it doesn't do this, it feels strange and a little weak. Overall: 7/10. Could have been better, but still enjoyable!

9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
The world of Dostoevsky, 2 January 2009

Before viewing this one, I was a little sceptical about it all, but after viewing it (till the last credits faded out) I know that this is a very good movie.

When reading Dostoevsky, you get a very strong impression of the mood and people that live in the world he has written down. I must admit that I don't know much about his life, so I cannot say this film is accurate. But that doesn't really matter, for I Demoni di San Pietroburgo is more of a story where a writer is confronted with his own world. But I cannot say much about this, for the story is not about actions that shape events and how the world reacts, but people that grow and face themselves.

Montaldo is the right man to direct this movie. Not only has his earlier films touched subjects that are akin to the works of Dostoevsky, but he has shown experience in making a historical world believable (Marco Polo).

I don't know any of the actors in this (except for Roberto Herlitzka) but they are all very good. I will find something more with Miki Manojlovic in it to see, for his portrayal was interesting. The people in 'lesser' roles were all very good.

The cinematography by Arnaldo Catinari is just excellent. Every shot is well done, but still in service of the movie. It's almost always cold and pale. When there is light, it's lanterns that cast long shadows that serve the dark world very well.

The production is very good. Completely believable. I have no idea where it is filmed, but if it isn't St. certainly feels like it. There are numerous extras and they all look like they belong there. The one special effect I could detect wasn't that great, but it was still good enough.

The editing was good. Few surprises, but it isn't a movie for strange montage.

And the music, at last. Ennio Morricone has composed for 40 years for Montaldo now. I can be brief around; he is not the best because he creates music that you expect, but because it's just what the movie needs. The score is sometimes very oldschool suspense-like, with fitting emotional moments. The music itself might not be very easy to listen too for some people, but it gives the film just what it needs at the right moment.

I own an Italian DVD with English subtitles.

Without doubt one of those European films that are just rock-solid, but tend to disappear between the blockbusters that just get more attention. Still, Montaldo proves it again; he is one of the best!

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Tempo Di Uccidere, 7 September 2008

Tempo Di Uccidere (Time To Kill) by Guiliano Montaldo is a bit of a strange film, but it's good in it's own way.

I won't bother with a summary of the plot. Most that I've read gives the wrong impression and makes me believe that most people who wrote those didn't really understand the film. And you need to understand it to some level, even if you cannot describe for yourself what it's actually about. This film is strange in a "Once Upon a Time in America" way- only shorter.

Many 'Hollywood' stars (whatever that may mean...) have played in lesser known Italian productions. It's known that many actors who are past their prime or slowly rising to it do this. Cage was not yet a real star when this was made. I'm not a fan of him. He's very good in some roles (Raising Arizona, Bringing out the Dead) and weak when he plays the hero. I don't really know what to think of him in this one, but he sure doesn't portray the typical hero main character. This film could have done without him, but the fact that he starred may be the only reason this one ever made it to DVD.

The supporting cast is good. Not one of them looks fake and they act as if they are really there. Solid support.

I have seen 3 films by Montaldo (Marco Polo, Sacco&Vanzetti and this one) and I think he is one of the greater directors of this time. Unfortunately, nobody knows him. This movie was his last in a long time (a break of 19 years). I think that this movie might have failed at the office, but from the way it is done I think that for Montaldo it was a personal project that he really liked.

The production is great. It's always enough. The dusty army camps, the claustophobic cities and the magnificent landscape all play a great part. It all feels very real. In some scenes you can almost feel the heat. The sound itself is nothing special, but the music by Ennio Morricone is very good. It's not a piece that you will whistle when in the shower, but it sure works great.

So this movie looks, feels and sounds just right. It doesn't serve the lessons learned from it on a golden platter, but that may be the biggest difference between Hollywood and euro-cinema all around. It might sound strange to give it an 8 and not recommend it to people, but that is what I do. If you are looking for action; avoid this one! If you are looking for a well made Apocalypse Now in a different time and setting, but with a bit of similar journey into a 'state of mind'(sorry if this sound corny but I don't know what else to call it) you just might enjoy this one a lot.

La moglie piu' bella, 10 August 2008

Most other comments are right on the spot.

Excellent movie, good acting and marvellous music.

There are a few things i'd like to add. Sometimes, this film slows down a bit, but never long enough to It's not a genre movie at all, but if you would want to tag it, I'd give it a thriller label.

The main trouble with films like this is that it so hard to 'like' them. Not that this one is pure depressing, but you'll get to see a desperate world on the bottom of the mafia and the place where it has its roots. And it isn't like the godfather.

My final verdict is an 8 out of 10. There is nothing wrong with this movie, but it hasn't the 100% perfection for a higher score. Still, very gripping and plain good.

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Not perfection, but excellence on many levels, 20 July 2008

The Big Man is not a true genre movie. It isn't a boxing movie, not a crime movie and not a family drama, but elements from all those genres meet somewhere in this film.

The setting is great. The director managed to choose a location that is barren, almost colourless and is obviously a skeleton of what it once was; a mining town. The coal mine has been shut down long ago and that is the beginning of the story. But I'm not going to give too much away of the hows and what's, for the film itself is good enough to tell it's own story without any problems.

The acting is good. I can't tell if the people could pass as those that they portray, but they make it believable for those who have never been in Scotland. It's very easy to admire Neeson; main reason is that there are many villages with someone like him, only here it goes a little to the extreme.

Even if there are fighters, gangsters and blood, this is still a drama. So it's rather slow. Don't watch this for the boxing or the gangsterism alone. All those elements make it a very rich movie, sometimes even towards the exotic. Downside to this is that it's not always easy to adapt 'all' facets of life. The movie focuses only once on a happening, and that is the fight it's all about. The rest is a little out of focus, but in the end it comes together to one important lesson.

As some people in other comments already noticed; music is by Ennio Morricone. It's strange at first to hear an Italian soundtrack (with this I mean music in the style for Italian thrillers) when viewing Scotland, but is sure works. The music during the fight is a great build-up piece that goes from suspenseful to epic.

I don't know what score to give this. I wanted to give it a 7, maybe because I didn't enjoy everything in it, but I'll give and 8 after all; I find this movie too sympathetic to give a 7 and there are many elements that I enjoy.

Saw it on a Dutch 6 euro DVD with excellent quality and lots of subtitles. Maybe best purchase this month.

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