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Tenth Avenue Angel (1948)
Another good movie for Margaret O'Brien
OK, so it seems a bit cheesy and sentimental and all. So what. I like every movie that Margaret O'Brien is in. The viewer can see things through a little girl's eyes in New York during the Depression. She roller skates around and thinks that Tenth Street is her territory.
She idolizes the adults in her life, including her mother and aunt, and a potential fiancée of her aunt, Steve. As the movie progresses, Flavia discovers more and more little white lies that those she loves have told her. She has to deal with it.
I loved to see her interaction with her mother, played so well by Phyllis Thaxter, and all of the adults, including the blind man who sells papers and magazines. Of course Margaret O'Brien had to do at least one crying scene, one of her many specialties. She also can deliver a monologue with the best of them, in this case reciting a patriotic speech. She is just mesmerizing in that scene.
I teared up a few times and felt good when the movie was over. I don't see this movie as dated. Children have to grow up and move on from fantasies and stories that they have grown up with. That is timeless. I also appreciated the underlying moral to the story of getting answers to prayer and the importance of closeness in families.
Great lead actress and cinematography
In great movies or literature, the audience or reader can readily identify with at least one of the characters in the story, more often than not the lead actor. In this case, I found it unavoidable to identify with Tess as played by Nastassja Kinski. What an inspiring performance. Even though I am of the other gender, I could identify so well with her character, and Ms. Kinski was just phenomenal in her portrayal of the character. Especially in considering she was only 17 years old during filming. Credit Roman Polanski for getting her training and for such expert directing.
Not only is the acting by Nastassja impressive, but she is visually stunning. Truly beautiful women don't need to constantly wear a smile to look so good. Of course she has all of the great attractive features of a European born actress with the expressive eyes and nice hair, but for me it is those wonderful pouty lips, along with a truly divine voice.
I haven't yet read the novel, but those who have say that this is a very good representation of it. It is such an engrossing story. I could not even let my eyes or ears wander from it. I suppose that those who are from the part of England where this is set in can appreciate some of the cultural aspects better than me. But the movie does communicate various aspects of the local culture very effectively.
Not to try and spoil the story, but one of the unforgettable scenes is when Tess is sitting on the ground outside, and utters the words "All is vanity." It seems as though the author Thomas Hardy is telling a story with undertones straight out of the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes.
The cinematography is fantastic and there are many other good acting performances as well. It certainly is not a particularly happy film or story, but a compelling one nonetheless. Highly recommended, with more than one viewing needed to pick up so many subtleties. Make sure to listen closely to every word spoken. It may be a slow moving movie for some, but it fits the mood of the story perfectly.
Lady of the Tropics (1939)
Great part for the beauty Hedy Lamarr
I thought Robert Taylor was very good in Waterloo Bridge. Here, however, he just doesn't produce the chemistry the part should have. He isn't really bad, just in this case rather average.
On the other hand, the rapturously beautiful Hedy Lamarr is so perfectly cast in this role. She handles the language accents so well. This film provides an example that those who say yes she was beautiful but couldn't act, that that just doesn't hold water. Her acting here is really quite perfect for the part. The inner conflict of somehow knowing her fate yet dreaming that things could be different comes out in her subtle facial expressions. And of course she looks perfect in the nice dresses and hats. I could see why Bill was trying everything to stay with her and take her away from there. Oh how it is when an American man falls in love with a foreign beauty. See "Act of Love" starring Kirk Douglas if you can.
The other actors did a fine job in this movie as well. And of course the cinematography won a well-deserved award. How I prefer the black and white movies.
This is really an underrated movie with an underrated actress in the lead. I enjoyed it at least as much as her more famous movies. Sure wish Hedy, parts turned down aside, would have played in more top movies.
If there is one downer about this movie, it is rather sad. But the wonderful Hedy Lamarr singlehandedly makes up for it.
L'histoire d'Adèle H. (1975)
beautiful but tormented
I don't know how historically accurate this film is. However, it is a very powerful performance by Isabelle Adjani. In this movie she is simply one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen.
She plays the tormented daughter of Victor Hugo. She follows her love to Newfoundland, as he has been transferred there by his country's military authorities. He has broken off the engagement. However she pursues him relentlessly.
Very few films can match this one in the portrayal of obsessive love. The scenery is very beautiful and the acting performances very convincing.
I've heard this has been deemed a kind of cult film, for a certain following. I would think it would have broader appeal. It speaks to the hearts of millions of people who have become obsessive in their love for another person who does not return the feeling. A kind of ultimate unrequited love.
I could watch this movie anytime, over and over.
Un acte d'amour (1953)
Realistic and Bittersweet
A movie director and producer can take a direction either toward realism or toward some type of fantasy or horror. Many times movie watchers want a fantasy, something to take you away from your life and entertain. This movie has elements of fantasy. Who wouldn't want a quickly developing romance with such a beautiful French girl? But then reality sets in. Maybe some viewers would be sorry that reality ruined the fantasy. However, we have all watched our variations of the classic Greek tragedy. Act of Love is like a 20th century Greek tragedy. Maybe they didn't all live happily after, but we still could relate to the characters and their story. Maybe this is another movie where "We'll always have Paris."
Of course Kirk Douglas has probably never made a bad movie. His nuanced performance here might be under-appreciated by some. I thought it was just right for the part. We could feel what he was feeling. But then there is the French beauty Dany Robin. I don't care what the media voted her, I thought she was wonderful in this movie. Her eyes especially, so beautiful whether she was in extreme sadness or in a moment of sheer joy. So spunky yet so vulnerable. I only wish I could see her in more movies. Barbara Laage was also special in the early parts of the movie.
The many other bit parts are all played well. I also get the impression that while it is not a war movie in the classic sense, that the story and its setting played true. Liberated Paris just before the end of WWII was probably just about like that.
All in all, a movie well worth watching.
The Pumpkin Eater (1964)
A sad but well-acted movie
Yes, indeed Anne Bancroft does one fine job of acting in this movie. Many nuances that will take many viewings to catch on to. Also, so many flashbacks and such that it is hard to follow sometimes just what chronological time you are watching during some scenes.
That being said, what struck me the most was such an accurate portrayal of a depressed person. Not only depressed but feeling trapped. The men parts were for the most part despicable characters, and there were plenty of awful women in there, too. So why should someone watch this movie? For one thing it is very interesting. And of course Anne Bancroft in some scenes was absolutely stunningly beautiful. Then other times her depressed states would make her look unkempt. Her ability to display so many emotions without uttering a word in many scenes was uncanny.
The abortion part of the movie upset me very much, but that is a part of some people's lives, part of real life. Certainly something that you can't take back once it is done.
So maybe we could just say this is a modern day Greek tragedy. With 60's clothes and decor. Maybe I should have watched it five more times before reviewing. But after once I was left with a lot of impressions.
With so many movies now made for young people to watch, it is good to be able to watch a movie for adults. One that engages the viewer with many emotions and how people make bad decisions then have to live not only with the negative results on themselves, but the negative results on others, especially loved ones.
The Invisible Circus (2001)
Never took my eyes off of the screen
If I look hard enough, flaws can be found in this film, primarily with the script. I found the character of Wolf not totally convincing. However, those were my only "complaints." Because when this movie started on Cable, I was just going to record it and watch it later. However, from the beginning, with the eerie music and Cameron Diaz doing her spaced out 60's dance, I was riveted. I never got up until the movie was over. It seemed like I never even blinked.
The acting of Cameron Diaz and Jordana Brewster was excellent. The scenes were beautiful, the girls were beautiful, and the music was haunting and very touching. The story was quite unique and at times had a surreal quality. The viewer would tend to like the picture more if they had a good understanding of the state of mind of young people in the 60's and 70's, especially in America. Many of the scenes basically succeeded in showing something of that era that is hard to pin down. It was a bit more complicated than the simplistic statement that they wanted to change the world and ended up disillusioned, although that may be the most obvious aspect. Phoebe learns more and more about this as the movie progresses.
One aspect that didn't seem to be covered by the other reviewers that might bear mentioning, is the way the two daughters seem to drift through life after the death of their father. They both had adored him, and his presence had been a stabilizing factor in their lives and obviously he had loved them dearly. We read so much today about boys who lose their fathers too soon, only to lose their way themselves. This film covers the ripple effect of the loss of the father on the daughters left behind, first on the older sister Faith, then on to her younger sister. Their mother feels inadequate to try to be both parents. This type of dynamic is not covered in hardly any other movies, especially in so many different layers of plot and subplot. Phoebe's inner struggles of reality versus perceptions are gradually peeled away like layers of an onion.
Speaking of plot, this movie should rate higher than it has here. I kept waiting for some great conspiracy to be found out concerning the death of Faith. How it did resolve itself surprised me, even if others may have guessed much sooner.
Maybe not for everybody, but I could watch this movie many, many times.
The Notebook (2004)
Most romantic movie ever seen
I have a macho friend who wouldn't be caught dead sitting through a chick flick such as "Message in a Bottle." However, this friend of mine told me that "The Notebook" was a movie he watched without any great expectations, yet when it was over he said it was the best movie he had seen in years.
My reaction was a little more typical. I cried more than once, but the most at the end. Lucky I was watching it on cable, so I wouldn't have to cry so much in public. But it wasn't such a bad cry. It was just having been blown away by this movie. I am not sure I can articulate clearly just how good this movie is. Yes, someone can always find flaws in movies if they want to get picky enough. But in the end, did the movie touch your heart? This one did for me in a way none other ever has.
This movie sets the standard on what romantic love is all about. Is it extremely difficult, with many arguments, separations, misunderstandings, and problems? Of course it is. And that is played out realistically here. Yet in the end, the good outweighs the bad by a landslide. Spontaneous fun, kisses and hugs, lying in each other's embrace, gazing into each other's eyes, slow dancing to no music, being in a boat or by the water, allowed to be yourself yet being together as one, never giving up, never stopping the flow of unconditional love, overcoming all obstacles. That kind of love is a miracle.
If you are reading through reviews of this movie, and have never seen the movie or read the book, just stop reading reviews, and see the movie. Forget the spoilers, the movie is better watched just fresh. Then, if you are not emotionally moved by this movie, you are either brain dead or something is really wrong with you.
Not trying to repeat too much of what others have said, but Rachel McAdams is not only cute and ravenously beautiful, but the whole movie is beautiful. Why it did not win the Oscar for best Cinematography is beyond me. But then I don't understand why it didn't result in several Oscar nominations and winners. Starting with Rachel McAdams, who to me made this movie as great as it is. However, that is not to undermine the other three main actors who were so perfectly cast in their roles. This is the love story for the ages. I didn't feel like I was watching actors. It felt like I was there, like I was any one of the four main characters. I was riveted to the screen.
I am a fan of old movies. Casablanca and the like. Which is a great romantic movie. However, The Notebook outdoes even that great classic in its portrayal of romantic love. I had become jaded over the years to believe that great movies were in the past. How refreshing to come across a masterpiece, and one made so recently! One last compliment. My hat is off to you, Nick Cassavetes, as no masterpiece of a movie becomes so without a fine director. Now I'll have to go and read the book.
Just Like Heaven (2005)
I was entertained
Why is a movie starring the wonderful Reese Witherspoon labeled a chick flick? Seems to me any male would want to see it. The viewer cannot help but love her character in this movie. Motherhood and marriage must agree with her, as she has never looked better.
Of course the storyline is quite fantastic and not very realistic. But who cares? I get up in the morning to face reality every day. I don't need to see too much of it at the movies.
Mark Rufalo did a fine job of acting, but to me it was Reese's movie all the way. I wonder why our movie critics and voters for Oscars and such don't give much weight to comedic actors and actresses? It takes just as much talent, and actually there are in my estimation less who really pull off comedic roles well. Reese Witherspoon has done it many times, and doesn't disappoint here. Most modern so-called comedies to me are simply not funny. However, this movie did make me laugh. The guy who works in the psychic bookstore was hilarious.
But this movie isn't all about comedy. It does touch at the heartstrings of any member of the human race who feels left out, feels like they are missing it. Usually a movie has one person who the viewer can really relate to. In this case, both leads played people who I could relate to.
If constant special effects, extreme violence, streams of foul language, or total realism are for you, then perhaps you should skip this movie. For the rest of us who can enjoy a romantic comedy, I can't imagine not being entertained by this movie. I left it feeling great.
Lost in Translation (2003)
sad but oh so true
I was up late but could not stop watching this movie. The acting was very good. Scarlett Johannson as Charlotte in this movie is the girl I would want to spend time with. I truly hated Charlotte's husband.
In regards to the time Charlotte and Bob spend together, I was reminded of the Art Garfunkel song, "A Perfect Moment". "For a moment you were mine." Charlotte and Bob share such special moments together, often times without saying a word. When they do talk they connect with each other on a very deep level. Other than "What About Bob" this is in my opinion Bill Murray's best movie. He is such a real character that the viewer can relate to.
If you want fast moving violent action, this is not the movie for you. But for true feelings and the universal search for meaning and happiness in our lives, and how we need to be able to connect with someone on a deep and loving level, and just have fun with them without any expectations, it really tugs at the heart.
I had to wonder when watching this movie if it really portrays what it is like for an American visiting in Japan. I would hope it would not be so disconcerting.
I could watch this movie over and over just to watch Scarlett Johannson. She doesn't wear much makeup and certainly doesn't need it. And silly me, I'm a guy but I just love her hair. Aside from my typical guy response, honestly it is a very touching movie. Maybe a kind of "chick flick" that a guy can relate to.