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|12 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Barquero', released in 1970, is an original, highly entertaining
western that manages to find new elements of an, by then, over-used
genre. The naval aspect of the story seems unique, but the actual core
is basically a re-write of all the classic spaghetti westerns. In fact,
it seem that this is the most Spaghetti-like American western of its
time. But the rip-off isn't too dramatic, it works quite fine. Special
notice should go to the oil-painting opening credits - interesting,
The film's well-cast, led by Lee Van Cleef and Warren Oates as the opposing characters. Van Cleef is always watchable although he seems a little uneasy at playing a character that is neither the classic bad guy he was so good at nor a typical good hero. In the hands of another actor, it may have looked bland, but not with Van Cleef.
The film is daring enough to grant equal screen time to its main villain, played by Warren Oates who gets one of his very first cinematic leading roles here. Oates is the multi-layered Jake Remy, colourful bad guy and arguably better-characterized by the script than the ferryman Van Cleef. Oates delights in his role, in what seems like planned hamminess (good thing, because the role calls for it) coupled with authentic danger and ferocity.
Mariette Hartley is beautiful but unnecessary. The climax hurts the film. There's a good chance at the end to choose from two original endings (both dying, or both getting away) but the screenplay takes the cliché way and lets Van Cleef shoot Oates in a spiritless, thankless two-second duel. Pity.
To sum it up: very entertaining, good western with a great villain performance by Oates and a good-enough lead by Van Cleef.
History has forgotten this film, it's never talked about, almost never
shown. Why? It's certainly not a quality problem. Richardson was of
course trying desperately to get back to the level of success Tom Jones
had a decade before. The fact that he's trying to copy himself gets the
film some minus points.
The story is simple, a little too dependent on coincidences and unrealistic twists. The costumes are great, as are the wonderful settings. You certainly feel like you really are there in the 17th Century.
Firth and Ogle as the young loving couple are attractive but bland. They fail to live up to the comedic demands of Fielding's story. The rest of the cast does a very good job on the other hand. Special mention should go to Michael Hordern and Beryl Reid, two of Britain's finest actors.
Nevertheless the best acting in the film comes not from one of the British theater and character actors but instead from the only American in the cast: Ann-Margret. She was rightfully nominated for a Golden Globe but would have deserved an Oscar non too. It's a brilliant satiric performance full of subtlety and vulgarity at the same time, comic timing that's never off, she dominates the film. Considering the talent that is working alongside her, that's quite a feat. Her accent is perfect too, something that rarely happens and could so easily destroy such a film. In the worst possible scenario she could have been an anachronistic sex kitten from the 60s stuck in a costume drama: Those fears never come true, she's great. The thick make-up (that fits the role perfectly) prevents us from seeing hernatural beauty but she's still quite a sight. Why American producersdidn't see the film and immediately give her a comic lead role in anHollywood A film, seems like a brutal shame.
Overall, a fun little history story of love, romance and adventure.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Viva Las Vegas' is not a good film. It is however a great musical, and
a very entertaining film. This entertainment value should be the only
reason to see this. Granted, there is no other reason to watch any
Elvis movie, with the possible exception of 'King Creole'. Alongside
the magnificent and early-fire film 'Jailhouse Rock' you won't find a
more entertaining film starring the King.
Clearly, that has nothing to do with the screenplay, by Sally Benson, which best line would have to be Ann-Margret's entrance 'My car whistles' and Elvis' reply 'Can't blame it'. If that is the 'wittiest' line of your movie, you've got a problem. There's no originality, no wit, no character development (or even creation, to start with), no story.
THE SONGS: One of the most consistent soundtracks for ELvis films, mostly hits, next to none misses. Highlight is the title song which hasn't lost one ounce of its excitement in the last 40 years. The duet 'The Lady Loves Me' with Ann-Margret isn't far behind. Elvis didn't duet often, and this is his best one. Actually the lyrics of the song seem far more clever and funny than the whole screenplay. Ann-Margret's a good singer, underrated certainly, and her solo numbers 'Appreciation' suffers from bad composing, not from bad singing. Elvis is on high form on the rocker 'C'mom everybody'.
THE DANCING: The University of Nevada bit is the centerpiece here as far as dancing goes and it's a joy to watch. Good choreography and Elvis is seen with the excitement and pleasure he had in the fifties, and seemingly lost. Ann-Margret arguably out-dances and up-stages him here, which shouldn't be seen as disrespectful to him but merely as a compliment to her.
THE ACTING: Without fleshed out characters written, you can't have them acted. Elvis was not a bad actor, and even if he did appear unnatural and stiff in other films, he seems quite energetic and talented here. Ann-Margret's a better actress, natural and talented.
THE DIRECTION: Sidney knows how to film musicals, he was one of the best of the genre, so no complaints here at all. I like the race at the end which may even be called 'exciting' at times.
THE CO-STAR: Without any doubt this is the reason for the film's success, both in entertainment and financially. Ann-Margret in her fourth movie is, quite simply put, great. She can sing, dance, act, and I guess there's no explanation needed on how she looks. In her prime, and she's in it here, she was Hollywood's most attractive actress - face and body-wise, but with enough talent to move way beyond starlet-status. Her costumes are great (take special notice of her black-tights-red-sweater wear in the Nevada university number). There's a typical amount of bad 60s makeup (in the otherwise great 'What'd I say' routine) and hairdo, but that's not too much of a problem.
THE CHEMISTRY: Another point that sets Viva Las Vegas apart from, for example, Speedway with Nancy Sinatra, is the on-screen chemistry between Elvis and Ann-M. Love affair or not, these are simply two attractive people liking each other and making the romance in the film really believable. They both seem like they had one hell of a good time.
THE STORY: What story? Race car driver wants to win both the race and the girl. He succeeds in both. Wow.
TO SUM IT UP: Of all Elvis movies of the 1960s this is the best. The soundtrack is unbeatable, the King himself never again seemed to have so much fun, and in Ann-Margret there's not only his most attractive but also best co-star.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This 1991 film seems to have been completely forgotten, and I've never
even heard it mentioned when people talk about Fonda's filmography. The
fact that it's so unknown shouldn't be understood as lack of quality.
Director Winick presents a vivid, moody, more-dimensional portrait of a lifeless city, with fleshed-out characters played by very talented actors. The film is quiet, and takes a long time before slowly opening up the mystery behind it all. Naturally the story itself isn't new or original (man finds brother dead, returns to hometown, doesn't believe in suicide). While the actual resolution of this story isn't a masterstroke, the characterization of the sadistic police officer seemed original and compelling in comparison.
O'Keefe is more than capable to carry a picture as a lead. Fonda is an even better actress: I could advice you to watch, for example, Cameron Crowe's SINGLES from around this time, and compare the two performances. She's really versatile. Not to mention the fact that Fonda at 27 (and beyond) must have been one of the most beautiful Hollywood actresses of the last twenty years. Imagine that: a famous name, heart-breaker looks and talent.
If it's on: watch it. An interesting nicely filmed thriller with a lot of atmosphere, melancholia and good acting.
Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld's script for this Seinfeld pilot episode
is good, often very funny, although not quite up to what the world
would see in future episodes like "The Pen", "The Bubble Boy" or "The
Outing". What it lacks though is an interesting plot: the storyline of
Laura, the woman from Michigan, is actually quite uninteresting and the
actress playing her is not a big deal either. The other female
character, the waitress, is funny on the other hand and her
conversations with Jerry and George are good. Still, we needed Elaine
to really set things going.
The characters themselves are already established. George is a bit more confident and self-assured than later, but you definitely can see the future George Costanza in him. Kramer, or Kessler, is already funny and Michael Richards's great. It is indeed quite unusual to see him knock on the door before entering, have a dog that miraculously disappeared and have a normal hairstyle. Of course Jerry never really changed at all.
What really carries this, and the early episodes is the dialog. Quite frankly, Seinfeld is the show in television history with the best and funniest dialog. David and Seinfeld are writing on an high level right from the beginning. Prominently featured is Seinfeld's stand-up routine. The opening speech is quite unfunny but he gets much better later on. He really has the time for longer stories in the early episodes, and not just a quick joke like it would be in the future.
It's Seinfeld, it's great, Watch it!
If you judge "It Could Happen to you" by its amount of realistic
situations and characters, you'll probably give it a 4 out of 10. But,
who cares about realism here? It's like a modern fairy tale, Frank
Capra transported into the 90s. There's a wonderful storyline (Cop
gives waitress a 2 million dollar tip), which apparently is even based
on real-life events. Nicolas Cage plays the most honest cop imaginable,
and he proves he can play a romantic lead role just as well as a
dramatic action/thriller one. His character is not exactly 100 percent
realistic, but that's not a problem, this is Hollywood for heaven's
Even better than Cage is his female leading lady: the fascinating Bridget Fonda. Fonda is a wonderful actress who can play both a cute character like her waitress Yvonne here and more challenging roles like the LadyMacBeth-similar one in "A Simple Plan". Unfortunately she never had the career of a Julia Roberts but she is in fact more talented and better looking. Throughout the whole movie she gives a good performance and looks gorgeous. If I had the choice of giving a waitress the lottery money or not and the woman looked like Fonda I might even give it to her. Of course there aren't so many waitresses out there that look (and behave) as charming as her and chances are low I'll ever win two millions in the lottery.
Also notable is the wonderful chemistry between Cage and Fonda. As for the supporting roles special mention has to go to Perez. Although you wonder why Cage married her in the first place, she gives a humorous and entertaining performance. Of course there's kitsch but that's not necessarily bad. Good kitsch can be wonderful and this film, that has an absolutely great happy ending, serves as a perfect example of how a romantic comedy should be filmed. It's better than "Pretty Woman".
I rarely find modern movies so fascinating like this one, that
certainly remains Raimi's best movie. The Minnesota atmosphere, quite
like Fargo, is melancholic and sad but nevertheless endlessly
watchable. In its depiction of the win of money and greed over
friendship and law is flawlessly filmed. The screenplay by the novel's
author Smith is wonderful, with great characterizations and fine dialog
scenes. Every character is in fact interesting, the three men who find
the money and Hanks's wife most of course.
The acting might have been the movie's high point. Billy Bob Thornton has many great scenes and he certainly should have gotten an Oscar for his performance. Bill Paxton is not any less great. Watch his face when he has to use violence for the first time: he's great. And Bridget Fonda, an actress by the way I always thought of being just as talented as all other Fondas, should not be forgotten either. Her performance of a woman with a pure and attractive appearance who shows her real self when the chance for the big money arrives, is equally effective.
The film is depressing but in showing the development of people who only see greed and money is almost as good as Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia. Watch the film, it's one of the best thinking men's thrillers of the last years.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Cleese from Monty Python plays Dr. Simon Finch-Royce in this
episode and his acting performance plus Peter Casey and David Lee's
wonderful script make this one delight to watch, even almost twenty
years after the original broadcast and after repeated viewings.
Finch-Royce is a marriage consultant and as Sam and Diane plan to marry
they want to hear his opinion first. The results differ from what they
Both Ted Danson and Shelley Long are quite simply brilliant in this episode and the script is one of the best in the whole show. In the final scenes Finch-Royce gets very angry about Sam and Diane because they keep disturbing him at his hotel room and don't allow him either peaceful dinner or sleep. Because John Cleese is such a fine actor, the results are endlessly funny. "Sam and Diane are officially the most perfect couple that ever existed on this planet". He was rightfully awarded a best guest star Emmy for his performance and it remains of the best guest performances I've seen in an American sitcom.
Isn't it a pity all those great shows like Cheers or Seinfeld are not on the air any more? Anyway, this is one episode of Cheers you really should see, even if you're not a fan of the show, or simply to see the brilliant John Cleese.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The French don't like talking about what happened in France in the
Second World War when they are blamed of collaborating with the Nazis.
This particular movie does not try to make history seem nicer than it
was. Hats off to the producers, one of them Alain Delon himself, for
bringing this serious topic to the screen.
Apart from the historical background this is also a very suspenseful, well-written thriller with barely any lost minutes or boring scenes. There's no need to go through the content exactly again now, but it sure is an unusual and interesting one. The fight for your own identity. Mr Klein, an antiques seller who profits from sales of Jews who are in danger and want of money, finds out there's someone in Paris who's also called Robert Klein. As this Mr Klein is, as he suspects, a Jew he tries everything to find the one who steals his "safe identity".
The director, Joseph Losey, presents us a very atmospheric picture of Paris 1942. The actors are all good, but the star is of course Alain Delon. Delon gives what is probably among his greatest character roles ever and he completely disappears into the demanding role. The screenplay is consistently fine and never has any missteps, including a dramatic and very touching final. A French film gem from the Seventies, watch it now!
Steve McQueen, who was deservedly called Mister Cool, plays the young
upcoming poker player, already said to be among the best in the
business. But there is one he hasn't played against, The Man, Lancey
Howard, played by the great Edward G. Robinson. With the help of his
friend Shooter they set up the big fight. While having a high suspense
factor in the poker scenes, the non-poker ones might get a bit boring
at times, especially in the love story between the Kid and his
girlfriend Christian. But when it comes to playing this gets almost
perfect. McQueen has the ideal poker face, and so has Robinson, and
they both play their parts realistically and brilliantly. McQueen was
said not to be a real actor, just a poser, they said he didn't act he
only looked, but he proves it wrong here. His facial expressions are
perfect, and he plays the young hotshot player convincingly.
Needless to say the cast is the really stunning cast. Next to the afro-mentioned McQueen and Robinson, there's the always reliable Karl Malden, as Shooter. Malden has the most developed character in the picture, and he does a great job. And the women, oh my god, two stunning young ladies are here in all their glory. Ann-Margret plays the cheater, the femme fatal, the sexy beast, who's married to Shooter but wants the Kid. Surely one of the most attractive actresses of her time, actually all time, Ann is presented here in all her glory and beauty and sex appeal. Her seduction of McQueen early in the film, is incredibly sexy, and played brilliantly. They say Ann learned to act during Carnal Knowledge in '71. but that's not true, she already was a versatile and talented actress here. Watch her face during the cockfight scenes, or her cheating while doing a jigsaw puzzle, she acts naturally, and does a great job. And those tight dresses she wears with lots of cleavage are eye candy in its best form. One of the sexiest performances ever. Definitely shows you can be looking divine, and having acting talent at the same time.
Tuesday Weld plays the good girl, the girl from the country, Christian, and while not as pretty as Ann, she's quite a looker too, and she's also a talented and natural actress. The supporting cast is rounded out by Joane Blondell, Rip Torn, Cab Calloway and Jack Weston, all great actors who all do a fine job. Music score by Lalo Schifrin is good too, and so is the title track sung by legendary Ray Charles.
As for the often-mentioned, often-criticized last hand, it's Hollywood, only Hollywood, not a poker documentary. The film needs a strong climax, and gets it. Norman Jewison is a fine director, and especially the poker scenes and head-shots are well directed. Not much action, not much character development but it's not much of a problem. If only Peckinpah had directed, now that could have been something, Jewison is a great substitute, but I like the thought Peckinpah could have even improved it.
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