Reviews written by registered user
|14 reviews in total|
This movie shows us the painful scenes of a loveless marriage of ten years finally coming apart. The husband and wife are played by Isabelle Huppert and Pascal Greggory, two of the best and ideally cast. But ten minutes into the movie the unsure dialog, really awful music track and the obvious manipulation by the director take over and spoil everything. The pace is jerky, too many abrupt changes of mood...nothing resonates. There are surreal scenes....guests fill the room, a lady sings a modern classical song...the couple continue their pathological exploration of what went wrong in loud voice...the guests and vocalist ignore them. All of this reeks of it's derivation from Ingmar Bergman, but Bergman did it so much better. Stick with Scenes From a Marriage and Saraband if you want to see how as failed marriage should be screened.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This could have been a good movie, the story was there but it failed. Scene after scene that was just not realistic or believable. I was shocked at how sloppy Pontecorvo was in allowing so many careless takes. The women, who were supposed to be starving, diseased etc. etc. looked exactly like what they were...extras dressed in clean uniforms and fresh from a satisfying lunch at the commissary. When a German machine-gunner guns down thirty or forty people, what should the scene look like? Some motionless dead people, but mostly people in all stages of being wounded, crawling, screaming, some limping away etc.. Pontecorvo gave us forty motionless supposedly dead bodies, almost all face down, then the hero rises up unscathed and walks away. The subplot of the gal's relationship with the blond German officer was not only unbelievable but didn't go anywhere. Susan Strasberg, a virgin young girl goes into the bedroom to give herself to a German officer to gain better treatment, comes back out of the bedroom perfectly made up and looking exactly the way she did when she went in...come on! Sorry, just can't recommend this one.
This movie tells of the turning point in the lives of three main characters, played by better than competent actors, against a background of gambling in Las Vegas. Sounds OK, right? But the three characters are all without any morality or redeeming qualities, the most I can say for them is none of them do drugs as far as we know. The language is unrelentingly obscene. None of the three hesitate to commit crimes whenever the occasion demands, and we're not talking about lifting a six-pack, we're talking felonies. The guy and the gal are just plain stupid, not retarded in a way to invite sympathy. I cannot imagine why Gwyneth Paltrow's agent would let her do this movie, she's a fine actress and doesn't belong in an outhouse like this. The movie begins with a plot line for the guy, which is never referred to again after the first few minutes. It proceeds on to a totally false method of screwing a casino. Then we meet the Gwyneth Paltrow gal, whom we are led to believe is a fallen angel who deserves better, but she turns out to deserve worse.I honestly believe they changed the name from Sydney to Hard Eight or vice versa, don't care which, in hope that the bad word of mouth from the earlier showings could be ducked with a new name. My advice is to run, not walk away from this one.
I was disappointed in this movie from one of my favorite genres. The story was there, the performances were good (with one exception) and the dialog sharp. But there was just too much fast-paced action, too many clipped cell-phone calls, too many cars skidding to a stop with tires squealing. It seemed like the director was double parked. It's hard to tell a coherent story with short action-filled scenes, quick cuts to truncated cell-phone calls and surveillance views, especially when the plot is so convoluted with twists, lies, double-crosses and surprises every few minutes..and I knew the basic story from having read the book. I felt that the nurse character was played too lightly, almost an airhead. A good movie if you are the kind of person who is always in a hurry, if you like martial arts and Lethal Weapon movies. Not so good if you liked Breach, Ken Follett or Tom Clancy movies.
Sjoberg takes a Strindberg play and converts in into a superb movie.
The dramatic conflicts faced by the characters is intense and plausible
and almost painful to watch.
The theme is the repression of women and sexual expression, and the rigid class system, in Sweden around the turn of the century, many years before the liberating effects of the victory by the Social Democrats in the election of 1932. It is exemplified by the disastrous attempt by Julie, the daughter of a count, to find love with a man who is well-educated, strongly respectful of his place, very handsome and personable, but of the servant class. The cast gives fine performances all up and down the line. Sjoberg directs with the hand of a master, some scenes expressionistic, some impressionistic, close-ups as needed, long shots perfectly fitted in.
If you are not familiar with Sjoberg, note that a big part of Bergman's startup came from his collaboration with the older Sjoberg on the movie Torment, in which Sjoberg directed and Bergman wrote the script and served as assistant director.
I rate this movie as being only a step above an Our Gang comedy. It's a
1932 silent with scene after scene of kids going to school, kids coming
home from school, kids eating lunch, kids eating at home, kids fighting
or poking each other, kids staring at each other ready to fight. These
scenes alternate with scenes of the father going to work, coming home
from work, changing clothes, going into his boss's office, and all
characters putting on their shoes as they come out of their house.
The movie has a serious plot, with plenty of heart, but it is just too boring to have to watch all these non-scenes to get at the plot. I think the material could have been made into a pretty good short, but there's just not enough there for ninety minutes.
I had a strange introduction to this movie. I added it to my queue on
Netflix, and they marked it as available for instant play, meaning that
I could just click on the button and view the movie on my monitor
rather than receive the DVD by mail. The Netflix jacket blurb said
something about the lives of four disparate characters finding common
paths, and I assumed I was going to see a movie like Crash or 21 Grams,
in which fate crosses the threads of the characters' lives. But what
came up was a series of people talking, or family album-like photos,
mixed in with some scenes of weird push-puppets. The audio failed so I
had no idea what what was going on. I sent a message to Netflix that
the link from instant play to the movie Protagonist was screwed up, and
ordered the DVD to be shipped. I was amazed to find that what I had
seen on instant play was in fact Protagonist. I've taken this space to
explain all this so you will understand me when I say this is not like
any other "movie" you have ever seen.
Protagonist is certainly one of the most creative productions ever. The producer manages to tie together themes from Euripides, push puppetry, and the drastic human experience, the story arcs, of four greatly disparate living men.
If you have seen TV pieces on great events like D-day or the Holocaust, in which the camera cuts back and forth between a group of narrators, this movie has a lot in common with those. The difference is that in those productions the forces that drive the characters to extremes are external to the characters, where in Protagonist the forces that drive the characters are all internal...their struggles are with their own minds.
The addition of the puppetry was a stroke of genius...the puppet scenes are masterfully creative and expressive, true art in a new form.
The synthesis of the humans telling their stories with the puppets acting out the Euripidean themes, made Protagonist seem more like fiction than documentary.
Not for everyone, but if you are bold in wanting to see something different and more creative than garden-variety fiction movies, try Protagonist. I loved it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was based on a true story, and if the makers had stuck
closer to the true story it could have been a much better movie. But
no, they had to Hollywoodize it and dumb it down so that anyone with
the least knowledge of the game of blackjack and how casinos operate
will be saying "No way" to themselves all through the movie. It
actually ends up with a chase scene and characters running through the
kitchen, for God's sake.
In real life the team's success was 90% in being careful to not attract the attention of the casinos detectors and only 10% in their scheme, which was based on the well-known technique of card-counting to get an edge. In the movie, the team's actions were childishly crude even to the point of continually returning to the same casino...so the movie makers could develop the characters of the casino bad guys. In real life the team was careful to not win much at any one table or at any one casino, not more than $1,000 a session, which would be well within the amount any lucky player might win without counting. In the movie they hit the same table for tens of thousands of dollars, which would have set off alarms all over Nevada. Even the hand signals the team used in the movie were childishly obvious. All this by the supposedly brilliant MIT students and professor. No way.
The movie actually had the bad casino guys torturing card counters when they caught them. No way. In real life a casino has the right, tested in court, to kick anyone out and ban them from ever playing again...they do not have to prove cheating or card-counting, they do it under the laws of trespassing on their private property and this is what they do. Remember, card-counters are only making what amounts to an hourly wage, so they are not a serious threat to a casino.
Another example of the Hollywood treatment was that after showing how brilliant Ben was at counting cards when they were recruiting him, he was not used as the card counter, he was used as the big bettor and one of the female team members did the counting.
an entertaining movie for someone not knowledgeable or much interested in real life casino gambling, but dumb and dumber for those who are.
This movie is rated a classic on sentiment not on any quality of
movie-making. It moves from the unlikely to the unbelievable, from the
unrealistic to the ludicrous.
The unbelievable plot revolves around an attempt by two British soldiers and a Hindu gofer to rescue a third soldier who has been captured by insurgent Indians. In the later scene we see a full regiment with drum and bagpipes marching into an ambush. In the British army, a sergeant does not order up a rescue attempt, and if you get past that, he does not attempt it with only one other soldier and an Indian servant when there is a full regiment on hand. The Indian insurgents are so incredibly inept it is laughable...there are hundreds of them but they can't hold their prisoner or kill the two rescuers, of course not. At one point we see the British soldiers throwing blocks of stone down from the battlements at the insurgents, who are scattered around the mountainside in ambush...one would have to have an eggplant for a brain to think this would do any damage. After Cary Grant as the rescued prisoner is shot, he lies on the floor looking around at the water boy...hardly the actions of someone who has been shot in the back. The water boy bravely blows a bugle (which comes from nowhere) to sound the alarm...this he does by standing up high on a wall so he can be seen and shot by the bad guys, and we shed a tear as he keeps trying to sound more notes as he is repeatedly shot and the bugle call breaks up into feeble squawks...instead of blowing the bugle while hiding behind cover as anybody with half a brain would do. This scene has deservedly been parodied in comedy sketches. If they wanted to make a Buster Keaton comedy, they should have hired Keaton and done it better.
Considering the cast and the fine Faulkner story, I was expecting
wonderful things from this movie, maybe another Splendor in the Grass,
but I felt badly let down.
The script was, in a word, wretched. There were unmotivated strong emotions, stilted dialog, not helped by poorly faked Southern accents from players who are not not native Southerners, loaded with plot holes and murky relationships that seemed to go up and down like the stock market.
The cast that looked so good on paper didn't cut it. Anthony Franciosa looked like high school senior play. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who went on to Academy Award performances later, were just over the top and struggling with bad dialog in this one. I thought Orson Welles and Angela Lansbury were was excellent playing off each other, but their relationship in a subplot was undefined and didn't advance the story at all.
My family, with different generations, watched the movie at home on DVD with me and their reaction was similar to mine: a sympathetic disappointment in the work of some of our favorite players.
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