Reviews written by registered user
fred3f

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58 reviews in total 
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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
A good film that needs to be viewed with Perspective, 30 March 2010
6/10

The film is well made and has excellent cinematic values, however, to read the titles of the reviews here you would think it was THE breakthrough film of cinema and an accurate documentary of the Moscow at the time.

1. Breakthrough film? It is not a breakthrough. The breakthrough film was one called Manhatta made in 1921 in the USA. It was followed by Berlin: Die Sinfonie der Grosstadt 1927, Moskva by Mikhail Kaufman 1927, and Joris Ivens's Rain 1929. Then came "Man with a Movie Camera" 1929. In making Man with a Movie Camera, Vertov used Mikhail Kaufman the director of "Moskva."

Here is a short review of Moskva from a website that offers it.

MOSKVA (1927):

Wonderful, silent documentary, portraying life in Moscow and its suburbs during the 10th year since the 1917 Revolution in the former Czarist Russia. Unlike some of the propaganda films commemorating the anniversary (some of which we have for sale), some of the scenes of daily life shown in this film show aspects of life in Bolshevik Moscow, which would have created a far different, negative effect on some audiences than the director (Mikhail Kaufman) and the censors intended. Unfortunately, no English subtitles and quite a bit of the film is not in the sharpest quality; but for documentary interest and a look at life as it REALLY was in 1920s USSR, you can't beat this film.

2. Documentary?: There is a difference between documentary and propaganda. Documentary attempts to show life as it is. Propaganda attempts to show life as the filmmaker would like it to be seen in an effort to convince others of some (usually political or economic)idea. The Vertov film is propaganda.

3. Social responsibility: The social responsibility of artists is fairly new concept in the history of art criticism, It mainly started with the Nazi's and those who worked with Hitler to glorify his regime. Leni Riefenstahl is someone who did jail time for her association with Hitler. Yet these same standards have not been applied to the Russians who supported the brutal regime of Stalin. Vertov was one of these. 1929 Stalin had consolidated his power in Russia and was about to embark on what is probably the most brutal and bloody regime in the history of the world (worse than Hitler). You could say that Vertov did not really know at that time where the regime would lead, and in my opinion that would probably be true. However, he continued to make films that gave praise to the regime and to Stalin in later years (Kolybelnaya is an example). If Stalin approved of Vertov's films is beside the point. The fact is that the films supported and praised both Stalin and his regime. The effect on audiences is to put this regime and Stalin in a favorable light, thus supporting and possibly prolonging the regime.

I am not so sure how much I want to condemn an artist for working for someone like Stalin or Hitler. I enjoy Leni's films and Vertov's, and I am glad they exist. But it is interesting to look at all the criticism Leni draws and how nothing attaches to Vertov. It's a double standard if there ever was one. So if you are of the mind to hold a strong standard of social responsibility to artists, you should not overlook Vertov.

All in all, the film is well worth watching, but it should be watched with perspective. It one in a line of avant-garde films, that started with the breakthrough film Manhatta. It is a skilled, and at time moving, representative of the genre. It pretends to be a documentary, and it does show an idealized Moscow of the time, but it should be understood that the film had a propaganda purpose as well as an artistic one, and you should not be seduced by its art into thinking that life in Moscow was truly this wonderful.

I will leave it up to you if you want to hold Vertov responsible for the crimes of Stalin by giving his regime support and praise, but I only ask you to be consistent.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Some will like it some will not, 9 March 2010
10/10

This is a not a serious film and as such there are many things that you could find wrong about it. It does not rise to the level of Bergman or Welles or Antonioni. But it is a pleasant film.

It is a fantasy and not likely to happen in real life, but many times we go to the movies to escape reality and what happens in real life. At least one reviewer here seems to feel that this is not good enough and that is certainly his/her right to think so. However if your standards are not quite so strict you may find this a charming and pleasant way to relax and forget the cares of life. We all need such things and if you are willing to go along with this movie, it can take you there.

Distant (2002)
1 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
unloved and pointless, 26 August 2009
2/10

I should live this film, but I don't. It won international awards, it is foreign (I usually like such films) it is slow moving (again something I like) and it has no gratuitous sex or violence. the problem is that it is boring. We have two friends from the same village in Turkey one "successful" the other not. the unsuccessful one comes to Istanbul to stay with the successful in an attempt to get a good job at sea. Both live lives that are unfulfilling, pointless and petty.

Well, it isn't the first time this kind of film has been made. I didn't see anything new being added to this tired theme. There are long takes that are just someone standing and looking at the sea or sitting in a coffee shop or watching TV. I do understand that this kind of thing is there to show the emptiness of their loves, While it does do that I got the idea in the first 15 min. I don't need to be beaten over the head with it for the rest of the two hours.

The symbolism is also a bit heavy handed. the plate of live minnow type fish with one off the plate and flopping around in its death throws. Symbols are best when they are not obvious but are there, in the background, creating a mood just slightly below the viewer's awareness.

The film is so apathetic, that it doesn't even rate a score of 1, so I gave it a 2. To rate a 1 takes a talent at being bad. This film didn't have that much energy.

11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Unusual, different and challenging, 27 April 2009
8/10

From the very first frame, you know you are in for something different. The first thing that strikes you is the composition of the visuals. Each frame is an avant-garde work of art. If you turned off the sound and simply watched the visuals it would be worth the time.

The plot is complex and enigmatic. Intentionally ambiguous, it deals with love, truth, reality and the validity of political action. Although it is enigmatic, it is not boring. Instead it stimulates thought on these subject. The ambiguity of the plot means that there are no easy answers and viewers must make up their own minds on these weighty subjects. It also means that the film can be viewed several times.

This is an "art film". The director was a major figure in the Japanese new wave that started in the 60's and watching this film one is reminded of Alain Resnais, although this is not a copy of his style. The film is part of a trilogy of "sex and politics" films (Eros plus massacre; Heroic Purgatory ; Coup D'Etat).

You will not like this if you are looking for an entertaining film, or a film with action, sex, comedy, great one liners and all those other things that can make a film entertaining. There is nothing wrong with such films but this one one of them. It is a film that will make you think.

Finding a good copy of this or any of this director's other films can be difficult. This particular film can be found if you search the internet but it is usually found with very poor and incomprehensible subtitles. Recently someone has made a new subtitle translation but it is very hard to find. I wouldn't recommend the film without this new translation unless you are a Japanese speaker. Subtitles that begin "This morning I lift the floor There are 3 worms" should be avoided. Those that begin "This morning, there were three cockroaches," are good. But on the other hand just watching the visuals can be worth it.

3 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Potentually compelling but ultimately dull, 7 March 2009
3/10

Certainly we want to like this movie that portrays a real struggle in New Mexico against economic and racial oppression. And certainly if you are in some way connected to that area, then it would be meaningful. However, the script is not well written and instead of bringing inspiration and originality to a subject that certainly deserved such treatment, it falls back on the usual clichés and tired slogans of a union organizing pamphlet. I don't know the history of this film, but it seems that the producers of the film tried to use non-professional actors to five the film more authenticity. However, instead of bringing a sense of reality to the film, their acting is so wooden that you end up feeling embarrassed for the actors, who are obviously well intentioned. While the Italian neo-realists were able to do wonderful things with non-professionals, the director of this film did not seem to be up to the task.

The film is interesting from a historical and a cultural perspective. The fact that it was banned is also compelling. However, the artistic values of the film are so poor that it makes for difficult viewing. A pity - it is a powerful subject - but it was treated badly.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Charming and Entertaining, 19 January 2009
6/10

This is one of many Japanese sword and fantasy films, but in that genre it stands out. This comes as no real surprise since it is directed by Kinji Fukasaku, who is one of the masters of Japanese cinema. But if you are looking for a masterpiece here, you won't find it. There are many flaws. The character development is non-existent and even silly. One character, who had been a bloody killer of women and children, suddenly reforms. His explanation: "I heard a flute and it awoke something inside me." Well, don't let that or any of the many plot holes bother you. It is simply not that kind of movie. And you probably won't notice these flaws anyway, because you will be so wrapped up in the excellent action sequences that you won't care. Fukasaku uses his considerable skills to pull out all the stops on pure entertainment. Aside from the action sequences, the special effects are excellent and the production values are high.

Fukasaku was known for getting the best from his players and this is no exception. Among the actors, Sonny Chiba is up to his usual antics here, but Fukasaku brings out a certain charm that makes him a plausible romantic lead. Hiroko Yakushimaru plays the female lead. In this type of film, her type of character is usually just a pretty face that other, more interesting characters revolve around. But she takes the role beyond this and is not only beautiful, but charming and exciting. She gives the character a kind of positive energy that makes her character interesting and can't help but make you smile. The other characters also represent themselves well.

What really makes the film work is the pace. It is quick and pulls carries you through the story so that you don't notice its flaws. And really, do these flaws matter that much? To a purist perhaps, but a purist would miss the obvious good time of watching this film. So just let the film carry you away into that fantasy land that we all need to go to once in a while. It is fun and refreshing. Enjoy - it is one of the best rides like it that you can find.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Best timed scream in film, 11 January 2009
10/10

Despite the fact that the print is usually not the best (due to the fact that it is in the public domain and so any one who restores it will not get their money back) and despite that fact that there is little if any character development, Hitchcock gets so many things right in this film that it stands out. The terror is palpable. The building of suspense is masterful. The villains are very creepy and very likely to achieve their aim. You can't possibly figure out how this could unravel and as I mentioned, it has, without question, the best timed scream in Cinema. Not to be confused with the lesser 1956 version, also by Hitchcock (which is still worth seeing even if it isn't quite as good), The Man Who Knew Too Much is one of Hitchcock's best and one to see again and again.

24 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
A Contrarian View, 31 October 2008
4/10

As I look at all the 10 star reviews that others have given this film I wonder if I am being foolhardy in daring to say something to the contrary. I am and have been for many years a Bergman fan. I eagerly saw most of his films as they were released. I love nearly all of them - this one being an exception. Certainly the film is worth seeing - any Bergman film is. But this one is often cited as his best, and there I would strongly disagree. It is about an academic and although professor Borg has to face some of his demons, he comes out on top in then end. I understand why this film is so popular. Academics see themselves in professor Borg and academics have a lot of influence on what is considered art and what isn't. Borg ends up looking good at the end of the film, and academics, although they have their faults like anyone else, like to think that they are worthy of the respect that their position commands. In many, many cases they are - and this is not a diatribe against academics. I just think that Bergman let this character off too easily, particularly when you compare the way he treats his other characters in movies like "The Hour of the Wolf", "The Silence", "Shame" and so on. He plumbs the depths of the soul and takes no prisoners. "Wild Strawberries" starts out that way, when the professor flashes back to the key points in his life where he turned away from love, life and reality in favor of academic honor. But ultimately Bergman backs down. The professor, having seen the errors of a lifetime in a few short hours, is shown to be wiser and a better man now as he receives his honorary award. Bergman does not do this in his other films. For me this gives a certain falsity to "Wild Strawberries" that I don't see in "Persona" for example. Well, everyone will probably disagree with me, - this is such an acclaimed film - but sometimes it is valuable to hear a contrarian opinion even when you don't agree with it.

Sacrifice (1986)
8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Difficult but worth it, 28 September 2008
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Minor spoilers. This is not a film for everyone, and probably not a film for most. However, if you like art, it might be a film for you. The director, Andrei Tarkovsky, viewed film as art and his films make few, if any, concessions to commercialization and marketing. If you are looking strictly for entertainment, you may find this film to be slow, boring and depressing. However, if you are looking for art, then you should not ignore this film.

The artistic merits of the film are considerable. The theme is an individual's relationship to God, politics and mankind in general. How can a sensitive and intelligent person come to grips with these huge and sometimes overwhelming parts of life and still keep his own integrity in tact. Just attempting a subject like this is courageous and laudable, but in doing so the director walks dangerous ground. It is so broad that no film can truly encompass it, and wisely Tarkovsky doesn't try. Instead he shows one man's attempt to deal with it - flawed and inadequate as it may be. This is a clever way to approach it, because it stimulates you to start thinking of what your own approach might be.

It begins in color, with Alexander, a very self involved and disconnected man in his later years who is forced by circumstances and a very odd mailman, to confront his relationship to God, and society. This causes Alexander to go through different mental states which are filmed in black and white or muted color. As the day moves forward, Alexander eventually sifts from a passive observer of life to someone who is committed to playing a dramatic but positive and active role in the spiritual and temporal life. With this new reality, the film returns to color. The composition of the sets the framing and the editing of the film all are carefully done to support and emphasize the theme and development of the film. The film takes place on one day, Alexander's birthday (yes, this does have a double meaning).

Throughout the film death is the looming and persistent presence. Near the beginning Alexander rightly observes that fear of death will drive people to do many foolish things. We see some of these foolish things as the characters of the film become unfaithful, hysterical, and even cruel and destructive when threatened by death. Tarkovsky himself was facing death by cancer when he made this film and this was his final film. In the end, however, the film is life affirming, leaving us with a view of hope and even joy.

This is a film I respect but it is not very entertaining. I am glad I watched it, but I wasn't really ready for it when I started. If you are not ready to see a film this serious and deep, then it would be easy to dismiss it as difficult and even painful to watch. But to do so would be a reaction to that same fear of death that seems to be the root of so much evil in the world. Understanding that this is a film about serious topics that effect us all and not a casual bit of entertainment can make the difference between appreciating and valuing this film or not. But even though the film had some difficult and soul searching moments, you will enjoy the end and its message of hope. The final image of the film is a young boy bringing life to a dead tree. It is a truly beautiful image and one that think will stay with me for a long time.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
For what it is - a superior film, 4 September 2008
7/10

This is a mindless soft-core film without a lot of sense and no pretension to anything else. Such films have their virtues: natural pretty girls with few clothes, some humor to keep things light, male leads who are such jerks that it makes you feel superior, soft-core with no real hardcore or violence - so things can be sexy without being too serious, and few distractions such as character development, good acting, plot and deeper meaning. It is relaxing and the sort of thing that many guys like when there is nothing else to do or they are between girlfriends. Taken at its face value, and without trying to compare it to Citizen Kane, the film works quite well. I was particularly taken with the scene in the bathtub that was both sexy and humorous. The girls were all fetching, especially the lovely Mae (Felicia Park). If this is what you are looking for, it is a gem. If you want great art, look somewhere else.


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