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Being John Malkovich
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Funny Games (1997)
As soon as the credits rolled at the end of Funny Games, I felt as if the Michael Haneke played a joke. It was like "Gotcha!". This is a case when a director has a good idea in mind but completely sabotages it. If this was in the hands of another director, it could have been great. This is how much potential the film had.
The film started off very well. A family is playing a game where they play classical music and the father starts to guess the composer. Suddenly, dark heavy metal music plays off screen as we watch there unexpecting faces go along with the music. The metal song would later be used well and then not so well at the end.
The film has some considerable merits. There is great acting all around. The director definitely knows how to build tense moments. Some parts were pretty well written.
The biggest problem I had with the film was the self reference scenes. I knew before that those type of scenes would be in this but somehow thought the director would pull them off well but he does not. It is painfully obvious in the "rewind" scene. I like the whole idea of the "Show. Don't tell" type of film-making. Self reference complete shatters that purpose. If I wanted someone to spell it out to me, I would read a book. The movie has a real lack of logic (How is there only one phone in the whole house of a very rich family?) The movie is tedious to sit through. It feels like a chore watching. There is a ten minute one take scene which showed some amazing acting but honestly could have been about four or five minutes. The psychos are clichés of the suave, sophisticated, and charming killers in other superior films. The end is probably the most disappointing. It ends on probably one of the worst clichés you can think of.
Very Good Movie with unforgettable images
This is more of a 7.5/10 Lynn Ramsay made a promising debut with this feature. It is the typical first feature. They make an above average movie where they can later improve on their techniques to create a "great" film.
I have minor faults with this film. The score at the beginning is too sentimental for such an unsentimental film but later improves itself greatly with the music. I thought the first scene of the accidental death was not documented enough and it leaves you pretty confused. Some of the characters' problems go in and out of the movie and I just wished there was more insight. A few of Ramsay's techniques got a little tiresome.
Ahhhhhhhh. Great Imagery. I am such a sucker for good cinematography. There are three beautifully poetic scenes in the film you will not forget(the pasture, the trip to the moon, and the wonderfully ambiguous end that reminded me of My Own Private Idaho)The film gets good performances all around. The protagonist James is interesting but very mysterious because Ramsay keeps most of her characters at a distance. The protagonist's father is also a standout. It never let me get bored and was interesting. There are some very well done scenes involving the protagonist's father. In the latter part of the film, the score is used very effectively.
A Complete and Utter Failure
The words uneven and messy can not do this film justice. This has to be by far Herzog's worst film to date. I really went looking for this film and I now regret every minute I wasted trying to find it. Before I go to my real analysis, I have to say I am a pretty big Herzog fan but this film is a humongous disappointment.
I have to say it started out on the right foot in begins with obscure footage of tornadoes and then moves on to a man in the Outback playing his digderidoo while the camera scans over an almost alien landscape. A very Herzogian way to begin the film. The biggest complaint is the acting. This is by far some of the worst acting I have ever, ever seen in a feature film. It is truly terrible. Even the leads were bad. Bruce Spence should probably never work in film again. The dialog is awful and completely insipid. It tries to be thought provoking but falls flat on its' face. The plot really makes absolutely no sense and they never try to explain it. The film tries to be powerful but winds being the classic "oppressed minority versus white majority" story that I could have watched on cable. Although I really cannot say anything bad about the cinematography, I was disappointed in the lack of apparitions that usually appear in Herzog's films. It is not very exciting. There is absolutely no insight to the characters. At the end, the film tries to bring back some of Stroszek's magic but winds looking like a desperate attempt to usher something in worthwhile so the audience will not felt they have been cheated by watching this debacle. The ending with more tornado footage serves as a very regurgitated message of the film. The classical music is also used very out of place.
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
Liked half, Did not like half
I was awaiting to see this movie for a long time but I have to say I was pretty disappointed. I did not hate it. I did not love it except for the end. Some people say Altman is an acquired taste. After seeing this and the average Short Cuts, I fear I know what side of the tracks I'm on.
There was definitely stuff to like. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie were both very good as the title characters especially Julie Christie. It was well written. Although a low body count, the movie did something very revolutionary at the time by making the deaths very poignant and meaningful instead of being a mindless kill fest of a Western. By far the best feature is the ending, it is well thought out, emotionally builds tension, and undeniably brilliant. It definitely goes off on the right note. Also a very good soundtrack by Leonard Cohen.
A lot of the techniques Altman used were very annoying. There was basically no lighting. I can honestly say that about 30 percent of this movie I could not see what was going on. Altman is known for and especially in M*A*S*H for putting dialog over other dialog and then for some odd reason going to the unimportant person's dialog. I know he is trying to be realistic but it is distracting ,completly arbitrary and a waste of time. It has a bunch of pointless scenes. Although some very good cinematography on some outside scenes, most of the inside scenes give off an unnatural yellowish orange color that is honestly not very good on the eyes. My biggest complaint is the title characters relationship. The book is called McCabe and they should have named the movie the same. Julie Christie was very under used. I wanted more of her. I thought their relationship was underdeveloped. There were parts in her character I wanted to go into with more depth i.e. her opium addiction but not to a veil. After the breathtaking ending, you see an image of her and you wish there was more of her. Maybe it did not go off on the right foot.
Herzog's most powerful imagery yet
Werner Herzog's sophomore effort is probably his most bizarre to date. The whole cast is compromised of dwarfs who take over an institution and wreak havoc. This treat for Herzog fans is very entertaining.
The film does have its problems though. The first half hour is hard to sit through but this is the type of film that gets better as it goes on. Also, I was expecting more of an ending. The ending, although funny, seems that it just does not fit and ended too abruptly.
As I said in my title, I think this has Herozg's most powerful images. With the dwarfs wreaking havoc and celebrating with smiles on their while African tribe music is playing, the scenes are very bizarrely beautiful. The movie is very entertaining and very funny. Hombre has probably the best laugh I have ever heard in my life. He definitely brings real evil to the film. The cinematography is great (yeah, what else is new in a Herzog film?). The message of the film is also very profound.
Although this is definitely not Herzog's best, it is one hell of a trip!
Herz aus Glas (1976)
Oh Herzog, you genius, you!
Werner Herzog has to be one of the most amazing directors who has ever lived. His films have the most indiscernible depth I have ever seen on the medium. He crafts some of the best films and Heart of Glass is no exception at all.
Besides from a plodding pace, the movie is virtually perfect. The hypnotism of the whole cast I thought was kind of gimmicky in the beginning overcomes and becomes a grand metaphor for their sleepwalk without realization into an almost apocalyptic ending. Also, the hypnotism gives the film a very surreal feel that I have not ever witnessed. It also gives a great character study of a descent into madness with the character Master Huttzensomething. The beginning and end images are undeniably beautiful. The movie is also filled with the usual Herzogian brilliance on how he carries out his scenes. I loved the ending. It was just so ambiguous. I am still trying to figure it out though. It is still undeniably poetic and moving.
There is nothing more enjoyable than watching a very mean and terrible person getting what he deserves. It helps me get up in the morning that complete jerks like Troy Duffy get what they deserve. He is an egotistical under talented sexist intolerant moronic alcoholic piece of trash that I have no sympathy for. He clearly did it to himself. Although I have to say this film was not well put together and carried on on some subjects too long it was very entertaining. It is amazing to see how much Troy Duffy thinks of himself. He is a jerk to his whole family especially his brother. I really cannot believe he is trying to get back into the industry with Boondock Saints 2. Poof!
Mr. Herzog What Are You Thinking?
Gummo is definitely an interesting film to watch. I watched it really because I wanted to know what side of the Gummo fence I was on. I can honestly say I absolutely loved about 15% of the movie but absolutely hated the rest. Some people think it is vile exploitive trash while others think it is a modern masterpiece. Even though I am on the negative side, I really do not agree with what the anti- Gummo people think.
I really did not think it was exploitive at all. I definitely agree with the director in saying that it is not exploitive if these people know what they are doing and willingly agree to do it. Kind of like pornography and the women who perform in it. I have to say there are about five scenes(out of the dozens of scenes) that I thought were great. One in particular being the final Roy Orbison scene. It is truly a brilliant piece of cinema.
I can go on and on about what is wrong with this film. The script is terrible any attempts at dark comedy flop pathetically. The dialog is extremely wooden and does not seem real. The film casts non actors (which worked well in films like Stroszek and George Washington) but in this backfires. The actors here are painfully bad even the leads. The annoying narrative style which consists of the two main leads killing cats and then going to people's houses and we get our little back story about the homeowners. Scenes go way way way too long. Basically, the whole movie does. You will be amazed on how many pointless scenes there are. I do not know why everybody is so amazed on how the director combined the super 8 and polaroids into the film. To me, it just felt like something to take up time and was ultimately pointless. Even though I hate using this word, but I believe this is the only way to explain the scenes: self indulgent and pretentious. The scenes I am saying are the ones where you get one of the characters giving their little commentaries on their lives.
The thing that upset me the most was the directing style. Although before I said I did not think it was exploitive, there were a lot of things that upset me about it. By casting the people he did, it felt to me like he was saying, " look at me, these are how real people and these people are so low in life." Some parts it felt like he was rubbing salt into a wound. You see people cutting themselves, whipping cats to death, and worshiping Satan while heavy metal music is playing. It really hit me when the final beautiful scene and you heard the music. You will have to see it to believe it. It was just so insincere.
Watch it out of curiosity.
Trois couleurs: Blanc (1994)
I really cannot say much about this film since there was so little to talk about. I just thought it was unbelievably bland. It was just so boring. It is such a shame since there were some very clever ideas but they just did it in the most boring way possible. Many of the plot points were also very unbelievable. I was looking for something more profound. Not even the cinematography that popped out in Blue had much of an effect on me. All in all, this movie and its' characters were just uninteresting. Never the less, I am still going to finish up the three colors trilogy. I think I might have been expecting too much from it but it is then still just average.
Easy Rider (1969)
A Flawed Masterpiece
To me, a flawed masterpiece is a film that is not perfect but by the end achieves something so great it overcomes its' flaws. The two films I can honestly say that about are Lars Von Trier's Dancer In The Dark and Easy Rider. Easy Rider perfectly defines it.
The flaws: Well, the first half although entertaining it pointless. They basically just ride around and pick up hippies and go to a commune. Peter Fonda although he looks the part but for some reason something seemed missing from his character. Also, in the beginning there is a pretty annoying editing technique which they luckily soon abandon.
The film really gets astounding in the second half. The whole film is shot very well by DP Laszlo Kovacs and the music might be one of the best soundtracks ever in film. I might even buy it. The film is filled with genuinely poetic ideas. Jack Nicholson gives a star making performance and Dennis Hopper is once again and forever THE MAN. This film is filled with many biblical metaphors which never came off as pretentious but very powerful. The film is filled with very strong visuals. No wonder Dennis Hopper once wanted to work with Alejandro Jodorwsky. The ending is might be the best part of the movie. It is almost the ultimate "what the f*ck?' moment in history, but for such a chaotic film it fits perfectly. The ending is also powerful. It represented to me the end of a generation.
Well okay. This movie I know will definitely not please everybody but for those who are open minded and into visually driven films, this film will certainly live up to its' title as one of the most influential films in American history.