Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
ListsAn error has ocurred. Please try again
The Alphabet Murders (1965)
When you start out with an Agatha Christie plot, you have the start of your movie plot. Sure, there could be issues with characters or Poirot could reach the conclusion in implausible ways, but you have the barebones. Luckily, I saw the David Suchet version a number of years ago so I recall this mystery, because after just watching this version, I wouldn't really have been able to tell you what the outcome was. The fact that *spoiler alert* ___ not all murder victims are equal ___ *spoiler alert end* really was kind of thrown in, not a major point.
There were a number of weird decisions taken. First off, murder mysteries shouldn't really be grounds for a comedy. If you're going for farce, great, do it all the way. This one tried to be serious, while still having weird things happen. There were also a number of changes that were made for filmability. They main antagonist was a schizophrenic blonde, whose entire point was to inflame something on Poirot that weren't his little grey cells. They added a diving clown.
It just seems like felt they needed to punch up a murder mystery, because why would someone watch a Poirot movie for a mystery? Just adding to the randomness, Miss Marple also makes an appearance for some pointless reason.
I also need to mention, Tony Randall is not Hercule Poirot. He wasn't even close to playing a fastidious Belgian. I may have nostalgia with the David Suchet version, but Randall wasn't even close Ustinov or Finney.
The movie was flawed from the get go, because it chose a poor direction to go. Film the book. You don't need to make it more than it is. Hercule Poirot is not a comedic player and this movie chose to emphasis comedy over thinking.
La rafle (2010)
The Holocaust in France
Man, the Holocaust was depressing. And this movie faithfully shows real life events of Jews in France in about the most depressing way possible.
The main focus is one family, and their various neighbors, who escaped Poland and came to Paris to avoid the Germans. Through the course of a pretty much hopeless two hours you follow them and a French Protestant Nurse, as they go through the various horrible things that the Germans and with compliance from the French, did to them.
A lot of the other reviews are calling it a French Schindler's List. It isn't. Schindler's List is beautifully directed and acted, this is not. The direction always feels like you're watching a documentary and aren't actually feeling a lot of the things that the characters are supposed to be feeling. Then it cuts to something else completely, like backroom dealings, and you almost feel like some voice over guy says, "Meanwhile in a dark dusty room in Paris." I think the director's main goal was to try to convince you that the French government was no better than the Germans and it didn't matter if that story fit his film or not.
My biggest issue with movie was actually the plot. At this point, pretty much everyone knows that the Holocaust was absolutely terrible. We see small moments of ordinary people being heroic and either hiding Jews or doing little things to help them. But then they're gone and there's no hope. Most of the other Holocaust movies focuses on a denouement of something good happening. Schindler had a list. Life is Beautiful *spoiler* ended the war. Not in this film. In this film, you knew that basically everyone was going to die since it gave the time frame of when it started. Sure a couple individuals survived. But you knew that basically all of the things that were done, would lead to the death of hundreds of characters. It just doesn't make the film that much fun to watch. It's tough to get attached to someone you know is going to die for no good reason.
If you want to see a movie about Jews in occupied France, sure. If you want to be depressed for a couple hours, with almost nothing breaking it up or giving hope, then La Rafle is for you. If you want to watch a movie about the Holocaust or the plight of Jews in that time period, there are some better films that actually give you some amount of hope about the whole situation. This one just didn't focus on that, instead going through the step by step ways that people were lead to their deaths.
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
Shakespeare Ruined by Mickey saved by a Gangster
An early film adaptation of Shakespeare and it's aged pretty well. There are some obvious moments where modern film-making would have improved things, especially the lighting. The long version is really long, with the ethereal fairies moving about in a way that added nothing to the film.
As for the acting, my primary negative takeaway is with Puck. Mickey Rooney played the sprite, and over acted it entirely. At the start, it was mildly charming. With every scene it was made worse with his voice and his laugh. I came to dread every scene in which Puck was in. It wasn't helped by the lovers being uninteresting as well. There wasn't much chemistry between them and Lysander also had an unfortunate laugh.
The film was saved, by two things. One, it's Shakespeare. The plot and dialogue are solid and it was a fine adaptation. The best part of the movie, were the players. Joe E. Brown's comic relief was great. The last scene of the movie featured him and it leaves one with a great feeling of the movie.
The surprising, was James Cagney as Bottom. His part was perfectly played as an over-acted role and he was clearly having fun doing it. He was deserving of an Academy Award nomination, as it really was one of the best of his career. To anyone thinking of him as just a hard nosed gangster, he had some great range.
It was truly a joy to watch Cagney, and I almost wonder how he would have handled the Puck role. It couldn't have made things worse than Mickey Rooney already did. Watch this movie because it's Shakespeare and James Cagney. Just try not to let Mickey Rooney force you to stop before the end.