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Moonlight Sonata (1937)
A Must-See for Musical and Piano Fans Alike
I must say, this film is marvelous. I wasn't expecting very much from it (it was incredibly cheap and paired with films of much lower quality on a compilation DVD) but it pleasantly surprised me.
The only reason I didn't give it a 9 is because the piano concert at the beginning is literally 20 minutes long and I felt it detracted from the overall interest of the film. I feel like one piece by the amazing Paderewski would have been sufficient. His "Moonlight Sonata" literally gave me goosebumps.
Marie Tempest's portrayal of the baroness is superb. She has impeccable timing and brings a lot of spunk to a dully-written character.
I must say that fans of old musicals as well as appreciators of fine piano playing would enjoy this film immensely. It is amazing how much can be said with a gorgeous Beethoven piece and no dialogue at all.
The Birth of a Nation (1915)
That's a negative
I bought this movie because it was a deal. $4.99 for a DVD? What's to lose, right? Wrong. That is $4.99 that I'll never get back. I sat down hoping to watch the whole movie, only slight deterred at the fact that it was three hours long. To my dismay, I was physically unable to sit through the whole thing and had to take breaks here and there in order to make it through the plot, which was stretched beyond breaking point. (That is to say that some of the scenes were extended too long, resulting in extreme boredom and the occasional nap.)
Many of the scenes included in this movie were irrelevant to the rest of the plot. Although I understand that making silent movies is an art that is less than understood by today's standards, I have seen several others ("The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," for example) that have far surpassed my expectations. This film, on the other hand, was disappointing in every way from the confusing family tree to the ending that was so racist I almost retched.
While I am glad that I watched "The Birth of a Nation," to get an idea of our country's early history, and to see the first full-length feature film, I must say that I wouldn't recommend to anyone who is looking for an early cinematic masterpiece. You wouldn't be satisfied.
Below par, but worthwhile
What a film; I think I may actually be the only person alive who has a copy of this movie on DVD. Although the camera techniques and angles were a bit too 50's-esque for my tastes, the plot was original for the time (although one may relate it to the similar "Radio" starring Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Gibson did a better-than-expected job. Even through the script, which was decidedly weak at moments.
The other actors and actresses were mostly sub-par, in my opinion. Mary (played by Piper Laurie) was the only other main character who deserves much recognition as a true actress. She did a wonderful job at portraying her character, especially considering the cast she was surrounded by. Deborah Kennedy, who plays Dawnie, Tim's sister, was ill-fitted for the role and mediocre at best.
However, I would still recommend this film, especially to anyone who wants to get a taste of Mel Gibson's earlier (earliest?) work. It's touching, albeit a bit predictable, and satisfying.