Reviews written by registered user
|7 reviews in total|
there's nothing offensively or expressly bad about this movie, but what exactly was the point of it all? it isn't a sensitive or insightful portrait of madness, nor does it seem to have been intended that way. it isn't dramatically powerful or rewarding or cathartic. and it isn't particularly scary or suspenseful. it does have a few hardcore Polanski-style creepy images, like the dead rabbit, the crumbling walls and the creepy nosy neighbors at the end. the violent parts, like when Catherine Deneuve is slashing away with a straight razor at the face of the nice young man who is courting her, are just extremely unpleasant, not scary. this film is beautifully, immaculately made but, as far as i'm concerned, pointless.
Everyone i've talked to about this film has said to me, "Oh, it's just like the book". No, it is not! True, the gist of many of the scenes in the film resemble scenes in the novel, but only in the most rudimentary way. As cinematic as the book seems, it actually presents a major problem to any adaptor who wants to do anything like justice to it in a screen adaptation: I would say over two-thirds of the entire book is narration, and most of its scenes, as cinematic as they may seem, are embedded in this narration, and while there is also a great deal of dialogue, these scenes are tempered by passages where key things that happen are rendered in print only through vague description in the narration, of the "Oh, and then this happened" sort - meaning that anyone who wanted to turn this book into a movie where there is any kind of successful narrative flow that does justice to the book's sustained vision and creativity would have to do a LOT of creative work filling in these gaps, turning Berger's intermittent vagueness into specific screen action that matches in tone the dialogue and action Berger has already supplied. It's the kind of problem one can only envision being solved satisfactorily by bringing in the author himself to do the adaptation. In this respect, the filmmakers have failed utterly - there is not one second of this film that is anywhere near as inspired or witty as anything in the book. As craftsmanship, the film is mediocre; the film looks like it was shot on a soundstage, and gives the viewer no feeling for nature or the absurd, crazy poetry of American Indian life that is so much a part of what makes the book so successful; Berger's superbly sophisticated and imaginative moral absurdism has been turned into crude, ugly, cheap, cartoonish left-wing caricature that resembles the work of Oliver Stone; and, aside from the one glorious exception of Chief Dan George, in his wonderful turn as Old Lodge Skins, the performances are gross, sloppy and impersonal, with Dustin Hoffman terribly miscast, his innocent, square, adenoidal man-child persona subtly but completely wrong for the sketchiness and semi-amoral pragmatism of Jack Crabb, a man who drifts between two opposed lifestyles, American and Indian, forming no loyalty with either a character which would require a projection, not of guilt or corruption, but of simple adult knowledge, something Hoffman is incapable of.
this is no great shakes as a comedy or as anything else, there are maybe two or three lines in this whole film that will even make you laugh, and even those are pretty dumb. the whole thing is quite inoffensive, though, and agreeably dopey (in a rather knowing way). Married to the Mob is probably Demme's most sheerly beautiful film, physically - it has an exquisite look to it, capturing the mob milieu with an exquisite tackiness rivalled only by Scorsese's Casino. And Demme really knows how to put together a cast - there's not a deadbeat or a lame, Susan Clark-type actor in the bunch, and while they really have very little to work with here, they make the whole dumb enterprise just that much more likable. And Dean Stockwell is great.
okay, this is no masterpiece of any kind, but it's just about perfectly done for what it is (with one exception). literary sensibility is always wonderful when brought to the screen, and this is no exception - even when the work in question is as utterly insignificant as Hilton's "Goodbye, Mr. Chips". I haven't actually read Hilton's novel, but this movie feels pretty unadulterated to me. An insubstantial, pleasingly sentimental little wisp of a story, a bit like "Driving Miss Daisy" in its smallness and tastefulness, but better directed and more emotionally satisfying and fuller. Peter O'Toole gives what is, in my opinion, the best performance of his extraordinary career (along with his - utterly different - turn in "The Stunt Man"). He manages to project Chips' timidity and smallness of spirit beautifully (especially in the scene in the restaurant where he first meets Petula Clark's character, his future wife), while lending him great dignity and carrying the film emotionally. There's no question in my mind that he should have won the Academy Award. Petula Clark is, in the beginning of the film, a bit too old and plump to be convincing as the hot young showgirl she's supposed to be, but she still looks great and, most importantly, has the charm and joie de vivre that the role demands she have, in spades, in order for her to convince us that she could melt the quiet old prune that is O'Toole's Mr. Chips and bring charm and gaiety into his life. The film is, in general, surprisingly well directed and atmospheric, with a very convincing school atmosphere. The extras all seem very convincing and well-directed, and the film is lavish - enjoyably so. So kudos to Herbert Ross in that department. The other superb performance comes from Sian Phillips as Clark's actress friend Ursula Mossbank, a heavenly role invented for the film. Phillips is pure style, an exquisitely charming, campy creature, towering in skimpy silk dresses with the sinuous neck of a leopard. The only flaw in the film is the music, which Pauline Kael aptly described as "a form of instantly disposable muzak....Your brain flushes it out while you're hearing it". That's pretty much the size of it, in fact, one may have fond memories of the film, having completely forgotten that it was a musical, as the music is so uninspired you barely experience it at all. It's just a faint irritation that unnecessarily stretches the film out to its unwieldy length. Oh well. A lovely film, just the same.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Synopsis: Nicol Williamson stars as a middle-aged employee of the
British secret service. His house is in some fancy suburb of London
seemingly near the countryside, and he bicycles(!) to work. He lives
with his much younger wife, who is black. The whole plot turns on the
suspicion of a double agent somewhere in the firm, and finding out who
it is. It is at first suspected to be Williamson's friend, a rather
sweet, guileless man played by Derek Jacobi. The plot thickens from
Sounds like Le Carre, doesn't it? Actually it is very like Le Carre, but its also much less dense and easier to follow than Le Carre's work (which i mostly adore, but am rarely able to finish a novel by him and tell anyone anything about what happened). There are many commendable things about this film, but it is finally too flawed to be at all satisfying. At its best, it has a dreary Antonioniesque nausea to it. However, Graham Greene was, I think, a notch or two below Le Carre, talent-wise, in terms of spy novels and sheer dramatic power, anyway, and what drama there is is further undermined by an increasing reliance on the non-existent acting skills of the model Iman, as Williamson's wife, who unfortunately becomes a focal point of the drama more and more as the film goes on. The film's conclusion would probably be a pretty lame cutting-off point no matter who was playing the role, though. Although the cinematography is far from Preminger's most beautiful (see Bunny Lake is Missing), his camera movement still has that superbly American sense of drama, intelligence and inquisitiveness that was his trademark. Another late-Preminger trademark, from what i gather, was putting older actors in weird sexual situations, and here we get to see Robert Morley at a strip club. It's quite funny to see his patented Robert Morley leer in this context. Morley plays one of Williamson's bosses, a rather evil man, finally, who ruthlessly exterminates at least one person who he thinks is the mole *** SPOILER ALERT SORT OF *** but who later turns out not to be.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
i would describe this as a doldrummy precursor of Last Tango in Paris. its about the disintegrating (sort-of) relationship of a theatre director-actor (jean-pierre kalfon) and his actress-wife (bulle ogier). its not so overwrought and turbulent as Last Tango in Paris, the people are more quietly anguished, and they only play at being crazy, great lovers. the orgy of sex and destruction at the end of the movie is really rather funny and sweet - they don't kill each other, they just go back to their lives. this is the first (and so far only) movie by jacques Rivette that i have seen. his technique as a director is astonishing. he has a beautiful compositional sense, the movie is incredibly fluid, and obviously got exactly what he wanted from the actors. they all are beautifully unselfconscious, and the two main ones have to do some incredibly difficult things. it's as close to a totally emotionally naked experience i've ever had at a movie, the technique is invisible, although paradoxically when this happens in a movie you know what an extraordinarily difficult thing it is to achieve so you gasp. there are some things in the movie that i don't understand and im afraid will turn out to be terribly pretentious. the movie is four and a half hours long and it spends a great deal of time on the production of Andromache that the husband is staging. is the comparison between the Greek tragedy and their marriage meant to be funny, or what? the movie has no particular story, and while i found it extremely enjoyable, it's sort of a cipher of a movie - is the director just showing us the lives of some people, or is there more at stake? the movie seems to be trying to give the impression that it is a documentary, that what you see is what you get, and rivette is clearly skilled enough for the viewer to accept this illusion. but we know its not a documentary (at least, i think it isn't, i don't know the production history behind the film but rivette is a French new wave director and i know that he likes to experiment with actors, improvisation, etc). i don't generally accept it when people in movies are pinned down into scenes that are meant to have some sort of meaning, but rivette's fake-documentary approach is a little perplexing. you wonder why you're watching certain scenes. its very ponderous.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
what a self-indulgent, self-pitying hero for a three-and-a-half-hour movie - Robert de Niro as Noodles grown up goes around, thinking, oh, what has America come to, crime isn't enchanted the way it was when i was a kid. and the movie goes with him - it's a shrine to his feelings and his lost childhood. it's the first two 'Godfather' movies turned into kitsch, or 'The Great Gatsby' without Nick, told from, say, Daisy's point of view. there are lost of questions that a cynical viewer could ask himself and smirk at, like, what has Noodles been doing for 20-odd years? just farting around, thinking about his lost childhood? but you don't ask those questions while your watching, or, you do but your still blown away by it. it's a great movie movie, full of brilliant set-pieces. my favorite is the one where Noodles rapes Deborah (inexplicably, at least to me) in the back of a moving car, and then the driver, disgusted, stops the car and makes Noodles get out and drives away, and Noodles is stranded in a wealthy, wealthy neighbourhood at dawn, and it's deserted and the dew is on the grass. mmmm. there's something about this mixture of kids and the first half of the 20th century and crime and sex and opium and lost friendship and mystery and sadness and failure that really touches my imagination, in the same way that Doctorow's 'Billy Bathgate' did. this movie is the opposite of realistic. Pauline kael used the word 'billowing' to describe it, and that's the perfect word for all Sergio Leone movies - at some level, they're all ridiculous, but they're beautifully made and structured and very distinctive. the Ennio Morricone score is the best movie score i have ever heard, and it fits the movie perfectly. there's one big flaw i think: teeny little jennifer connelly, incredibly beautiful even as a little girl, as young Deborah, doesn't seem like a trained actress, her line readings have a hollow, amateurish sound, but she has such a vivid presence anyway that Elizabeth McGovern as the adult Deborah is really disappointing. you want McGovern to live up to Connelly, not the other way around. they don't match at all. and ps i know i sound like Pauline kael. it's a curse.