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220 reviews in total 
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A Miracle of a Movie., 26 September 2016

I don't have the necessary English vocabulary to praise this jewel of a film. But no matter how wide the knowledge of a language can be, one will always fall short when praising this remarkable creation.

Simply amazing: Director (Pietro Germi), actors, camera, script... Perfection, absolute perfection. Every single situation is played with amazing vitality and bubbling gags are practically in every scene in this bittersweet story.

One hopes Sicilians have changed their "morals" from the 1950s to today, because nowadays the conflict depicted here seems unreal and preposterous: A guy (Peppino Califano) refuses to marry the girl (Stefania Sandrelli) (15 going to 16) because, "since she gave in to his sexual advances", now she's considered a "Puttana" and men require to marry virgins, otherwise he'll be the laughing stock in the village (a Cornuto).

The central character of the story is the father of this girl, the "offended" party, and the fireworks displayed by this actor (Saro Urzi) are just out of this world. The beauty of Stefania Sandrelli was also out of this world, as she looks like a Madonna painted by a Rinascimento master.

And she breaks our hearts finding herself in that tremendous conflict that will take her to an inevitable nervous breakdown. Again, women's position in Sicily was very close to total servitude to the dominant male in the family.

Lightweight comedy for a wrenching situation until the very bitter ending. Try watching this impossibly wonderful movie, a gift from the Gods of Cinecittà.

Celos (1946)
Cold, very cold in the Russian Steppes while feverish the mind of a jealous husband., 3 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

León Tolstói was the Russian author chosen by the makers of this excellent movie to be the basis for the film script, with his novel "The Kreutzer Sonata". Being one of the leaders and precursor of the Naturalism in literature, his themes are usually the conflicts between man and woman seen from a somber point of view.

We notice that from the very beginning of the film, with a group of aristocrats discussing in the comfort of the first class train cabin, while traversing the icy Russian steppes and being detained at the time by a huge snowstorm that will last for hours, the mores of their time (the nineteenth century) when this unknown passenger interrupts their discussion shocking them with a personal revelation.

Eventually the mysterious passenger goes to his own cabin, where he relates his private tragedy to the only other passenger there.

Flash back to the start of his unhappy marriage, marred by his terrible jealousy, that will evolve to an unbearable pitch reducing his lovely wife into a nervous wreck, since she has done nothing to deserve such treatment.

Splendid Zully Moreno in one of her best performances, magnificent in period costumes excellently designed and executed by Eduardo Lerchundi, one of the great dress designers of the 1940s.

Zully's waist in those costumes is so small that one must see it to believe it. She was so elegant and photogenic!!

Pedro López Lagar plays the jealous husband in a veritable tour de force. He is fantastic depicting this tormented man.


Man that little by little falls in the deepest abyss of unjustified jealousy and eventual craziness that will resolve in dark and final tragedy at the end.


The sets, the wardrobe, the lighting, the music, the interpretations are top drawer. If one could only find a sharp copy of this film...

La trampa (1949)
Zully Moreno without makeup!!, 2 August 2016

I couldn't believe the first few scenes on this film seeing Zully Moreno without makeup. Practically unthinkable. But it happened! Her character is that of a youngish woman entering middle age before her time. Tailored suits, sensible shoes, tight hairdo with a french chignon and mousy brown hair. She had decided love was out of the question in her case and resigned herself to have a sedated life, going to the movies alone or with her only close female friend (Juana Sujo) and very little else.

But one day her eye is caught by a small newspaper ad (yes, at that time newspapers were printed on PAPER! remember that we are in 1949) and such ad was asking for "a lady with no relatives to meet a well-bred middle aged gentleman", etc.

Of course you know right there that Zully's life (well, her character in the movie) was going to have a drastic change from that moment on.

And drastic is a mild way to put it..., to start with, since she responded to that add, the well-bred gentleman wrote her a letter asking to see her, giving her an address. Without thinking twice she (obviously) decided to have a change of image and walked into a beauty parlor... wow! what came out of it was... Zully Moreno!! dolled up and blond as a Valkyria with a floating shoulder length mass of hair, a tiny waistline and truly yours gorgeous!

Enough about Zully.

The movie is quite mediocre; every scene we have seen a thousand times before and after in so many soap operas, better or worse, depending on personal taste.

A character that is ABSOLUTELY out of place and totally incomprehensible within the mystery plot is the one played by Juana Sujo. Nobody seemed to have had the remotest idea about what to do with her during the filming of this drama (not to mention the puzzled audience), because if somebody from the crew have had just the thinnest idea about her conduct, she could have made (maybe) some sense within the story.

A solution to this intringulis comes to mind: Could it be that being such an old film when they restored it they left out some scenes where miss Sujo finds out something very important that predisposes her to that mad behavior during her visit?

As it was presented, she was incredibly hostile to Zully (her BEST FRIEND??) to Zully's husband and to the audience, because many times she looks into the camera lens in close ups with such hate and hallucination that she seems to be judging negatively my demitasse porcelain cups behind the glass in the dining room, where I was watching the movie.

Don't waste your time with this one. Just watch it briefly to get acquainted with the Tigre, a beautiful delta consisting of many small islands covered with a luxuriant forest just in front of Buenos Aires, few minutes away by boat, where people have summer houses.

A very young Carlos Thompson plays a handsome policeman that works in the delta and we can easily imagine the relation of his being in this movie with the budding of a new romance as a deserved fresh new beginning in life for our beleaguered protagonist.

A bit late to review a 66 year old film..., 5 June 2016

But, what are 66 years in the history of the World??

A wink of the eye.

I saw this movie yesterday. A crazy comedy that I only could compare with "Hellzapoppin'", a Hollywood production, or some Marx Brothers films.

Totally implausible situations, lived by our heroine, Mirtha Legrand, so pretty and unreal that she even plays a window store mannequin, adopting the pose and keeping quiet and... nobody noticing the deceit!!!

But there are much more outrageous situations, like her being wrapped up in a Persian carpet, tied up in it and even kicked by the thieves --they don't know a person is inside the rolled carpet.

Those thieves are behind a necklace valued at one million and a half Pesos (in 1950 the value of a Dollar was 15,20 Pesos --I checked it on the Internet-- and the whole film is a continuous pursue between police and robbers to see who will get first to that necklace.

All sorts of hilarious mishaps will happen during this desperate search by pursuers on both sides of the law.

Mirtha Legrand was an excellent comedy actress, safe when she had to play drunkenness... One cringes and feels the embarrassment she must have felt playing that scene.

The movie must have been planned for twelve year old boys, so, if you are able to go back to that time in you life, it's a very entertaining pastime.

I enjoyed it very much.

As a matter of fact I swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

I will never reveal who got the necklace.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A String of Pearls, 3 August 2015

My Summary phrase came to mind after watching this 2011 Álex de la Iglesia masterwork. It was, as a string of pearls, a string of scenes, so perfect, so smooth in their sequencing, that, with the help of an impeccable photography and admirable soundtrack we got spell bounded from the beginning of this splendid movie to its brilliant ending, a pathetic story almost unbearable to watch.

Unbearable to watch thanks to the forceful interpretation of our protagonist couple, Luisa (Salma Hayek) and Roberto (José Mota) who, all of a sudden, find out how tough and painful life can become in a matter of seconds.

Roberto's desperation to find a job, after months of fruitless interviews is the Gordian knot that plunges him (and us) into what will become a major film. The script construction is peerless, as is the interpretation of every actor involved in the complicated choreography, very difficult to film, of this gem of a movie, all encompassed by the hand of this genius, Alex de la Iglesia.

Only at the end of the projection we get the subliminal message given at the start of the movie, behind the cast names and credits, with takes that seem to be only background texture..., and they tell you the whole story.

Our string of pearls has a gorgeous diamond clasp. It loops the string with a superb finale, showing us how deep is Luisa's love for her husband Roberto. It couldn't have had a better ending.

The Aura (2005)
And Then There Were None., 21 July 2015

As a movie, it's very well done, and yes, maybe unnecessarily a bit too slow, and I don't care how good an actor can be, when you fix a camera on his face, full close-up for whole minutes at a time and hope for the spectator to guess what this silent face is thinking... is asking for too much.

The background music is exceptional.

All the characters in this movie are DREADFUL PEOPLE and I at least am sick and tired of dreadful characters. Why is it more interesting to follow the life of these kind of rats of the underworld when there is a brighter side to it?

The scum of humanity. What else can you call people that take pleasure from shooting vulnerable animals with long distance rifles for the sake of it??

"Life's a pain anyway" said once Greta Garbo to Laurence Olivier. Fine! but then don't make it more painful by making this kind of extremely depressing movies please!

This film ends like Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus"!!! Even if I share Greta's point of view, for X's sake... give me a bit of color to make it through the day!!!

As most other reviewers I appreciate all the good qualities on this production, truly remarkable, especially because compared with a Hollywood production it has been made with peanuts, and that alone takes a lot of credit!!!

An interesting turnabout on the main character is his building up a stronger self with his reaction towards the nastiness commanding the action of bullies but that seems to be the only positive lesson, although he accomplished it with extreme violence.

I found incompatible his "I don't kill animals" with being a taxidermist. Although his action at the end of the movie shows us that maybe, after all, he did mind it killing animals.

Tiempo perdido, 20 July 2015

After seeing "Tiempo de valientes" by this very gifted director, Damian Szifron, and being mesmerized by the high quality of that movie, I searched for another of his few titles, and found "El fondo del mar", which is a previous production, maybe his first movie.

They say that "second parts are never good", well, in this case we have to reverse the saying because the second part ("Tiempo de valientes") is undoubtedly MUCH better than the first film ("El fondo del mar") and I'm sure Mr. Szifron agrees with me.

Here I will plagiarize the phrase another reviewer used as the title for his critic, a jdruni, from Philadelphia, that said "Moods rather than storyline". How accurate, how clear minded to be able to express with a minimum of words the whole purpose of this picture!! (But nobody knows if the movie was made with that intention).

They touch here the jealousy motive, old as the world and a never ending manifestation of the human character as long as people will survive to only three inhabitants on this earth. Paranoid jealousy can be extremely perilous. For the jealous and for his/her victim.

What the jealous person doesn't realize is that when his/her partner gets a lover, THERE IS A REASON for doing so. It's so simple. Most people never think that one may not be totally fulfilling as a lover, a friend, a caring partner, etc. because... NOBODY IS PERFECT!!

We all lack or fail in a determined field and the other person has to look for that missing link on somebody else. Many triangles are the perfect solution for this dilemma. But unfortunately people get extremely aggravated when they are faced with their own weaknesses and there comes out the ugly monster of jealously and the following discussions, beatings, and many times, killings.

It's a pity that this film starts in excellent shape to go downhill scene by scene to a very confusing ending, leaving the audience in a blank state of confusion. For example, the episode of the empty swimming pool was so obscure that I only got its meaning towards the end, when somebody mentions that incident. And many other details get lost without explanation or even motive!! The actors were good and the technical part irreproachable. But the film lets you down.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Riveting. From Beginning to End., 19 July 2015

Impeccable production characterizes this jewel of a film. The photography, as realistic as present technique allows it to be, introduces us in intimate contact to this couple --the policeman and his psychoanalyst-- so cozily that we feel we are there with them, following their casual conversation in the car, few minutes into the movie, while looking at a lovingly photographed Buenos Aires on hand picked locations as if we are just seeing a background on an apparently casual route.

The camera movements are awesome. Its smoothness throughout the whole movie makes of every scene a natural happening helped by a precise use of lighting, either for the day scenes or the night time.

What can we say about the director --Damián Szifron-- and his actors? they are a sheer joy in every scene --not only Diego Peretti and Luis Luque, the above mentioned couple of psychoanalyst and patient --every single actor in this movie is role perfect, delivering their lines with a naturalness that was absolutely unknown in the historical Argentinian films. There are many clever lines, in the comedy scenes and in the dark --very dark-- serious moments, specially with that cameo intervention of Gabriela Iscovich --the psychoanalyst wife-- in a hilarious role.

A superbly entertaining film with a bit of everything, comedy, noir, mystery, violence, all done with that Argentinian flavor unique to this country, like that scene in the policeman car, where the three guys are drinking Mate --the Argentinian familiar drink par excellence-- as if drinking Mate in a police car was a natural, everyday situation.

Excellent film from any point of view.

Anita (2009)
Alejandra Manzo. Incredible., 15 July 2015

Every so often I watch an old Argentinian movie on You tube. For reasons unknown to me, most of those copies are in such rotten condition that most of the time they deflate your desire to watch the movie.

Specially those from the 20s, 30s, 40s and fifties.

What happened, they don't care about the preservation of our historical patrimony? From the 60s to the present there seems to be no problem with audio and visuals.

I mentioned that historical period of Argentinian movie making because the transition from that bland, amateurish, mediocre industry to what became later in the XXth century is something to be seen to believe it - I place the dividing line with "La historia oficial"- "Official Story", 1985, a movie that was a sort of an earthquake (at least for me) a jaw dropping jewel of a movie that defined a new standard of excellency for the Argentinian cinema.

More expert critics with our industry will certainly place that dividing line somewhere else.

And since then, many jewels adorn our cinema. Like this one, "Anita". Wow, what an excellent movie!! Every thing about it is top drawer, from the director down to the last extra. And same thing can be said about the cinematography. Peerless. The girl playing Anita -Alejandra Manzo- fitted the perfect casting like a glove fits a hand, a dream of any director when having to convey Down syndrome with that awesome understanding and delicacy respecting the sensibilities of actors and audiences alike.

Very moving film in most scenes, without being wimpy. Something utterly difficult to hold back in this case, where the director could have gone overboard with emotions creating a tsunami of tears. I assume the girl playing Anita is not, in real life, as incapacitated as the character in the film, otherwise it must have been a miracle to have her saying her lines as she did.

To me, Anita's character is the most pathetic I've seen since "Precious", 2009, with Gabourey Sidibe, and of course Gelsomina, in "La Strada", 1954, that unforgettable Fellini's masterpiece.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Turn the Key Softly, 3 June 2015

I loved this movie! The three women destinies in a large metropolis (London -1950s) after they come out of jail with very different expectations seems to be quite an usual storyline in those years. London itself --as any large city-- looks completely different from the present London, although through this gloriously misty black and white photography it has a nostalgic Memory Lane feeling absolutely unique.

One wishes to have been able to walk those streets and feel that particular atmosphere, completely gone by now.

The film: It's so very well acted and edited that when it comes to the end, it seems to have only lasted for ten or fifteen minutes. The three women stories are quite banal but engaging because they are displayed alternately so we get to know these characters one by one and at the same time, since they run parallel lives and will keep in touch through different daily happenings.

The beauty and sex appeal of a young Joan Collins was something to be seen. She was gorgeous! specially at the beginning, when still in jail and without any noticeable make up, she was stunning. As stunning as Joan, but on a different level was Yvonne Mitchell, a sedated beauty, classy and cool, very elegant and certainly as grand as any titled lady (many titled ladies will kill their grandmothers if they could look like her).

The sequence on top of the building with the intervening police was quite nerve wreaking and superbly filmed and edited. The scenes with the old lady --Kathleen Harrison-- and her beloved dog, Johnny, were the sentimental segment that cemented the different episodes among these three women.

There is a crucial scene where the title "Turn the key softly" makes sense because it was dependent on that, that one of the protagonists could escape a cruel and unjust outcome. Even if nowadays the strings pulled in this movie to keep one interested in the story telling are too obvious, the film doesn't fail in entertaining one from beginning to end.

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