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This movie is not as far-fetched as it may seem. In fact, the story is entirely plausible. A man develops a relationship with a computer program which has been designed specifically for that purpose. That the computer is a machine and the program a contrivance becomes less important than how the program is successful in helping the man gratify his emotional needs. The program helps him come out of his emotional shell and honestly confront his feelings. This is no different than a person projecting their emotional needs onto a pet or some inanimate object and then believing that they have an actual relationship with that object. A person may say that they love an automobile, or a fish, and mean it, even if cognitively they realize that these objects are not human. Joaquin Phoenix gives a masterful performance as Theodore, the man who engages with the computer program. His performance is strong yet subtle, and he succeeds in carrying this movie.
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This is a very good movie. It is well acted and has excellent continuity. The cinematography captures the sinister and dark mood of the story. The entire cast is excellent with Edmund O'Brien giving an especially strong performance as an insurance investigator who is on to something big and doesn't give up until the case is solved. For the insurance company, solving the case is not a matter of justice, rather it is a matter of recovering money. The police get involved too, but only peripherally. The hero is the insurance investigator. Burt Lancaster plays a boxer turn gambler turn armed robber, and plays the role well. He is quite believable. He also plays a sap for a woman and that weakness proves to be his undoing. Albert Dekker is excellent as the gangster who almost gets away with murder and robbery. Ava Gardner is beautiful and does a great job portraying a sophisticated gang moll who is as cunning as she is beautiful. The movie starts strongly and then changes into a more conventional crime drama while maintaining a high level of suspense. The film noir style suits this story. The characters are troubled, violent and amoral. The use of flashbacks works well, and all the loose ends are tied together at the end of the story.
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This movie is a toned down version of the book. Frank is a drifter and Cora is a whore and their relationship is so twisted that the story itself tests the limits of plausibility. For two people to commit adultery and then conspire to murder someone is within the realm of possibility. These things do happen. But the way the murder is committed and the subsequent miscarriages of justice are a stretch, especially since the district attorney is on to them immediately. That murder took place is so transparently obvious that their beating the rap, so to speak, is ridiculous. This is a case of one plus one equals two, period. Yet, the author reconfigures this equation into making one plus one equals zero. And the only reason why justice finally does prevail is because the two protagonists can't live together. She wants to get married and he wants to drift - this after they meet, cheat, sleep together, steal, defraud and murder. The story's suspense lies not in whether they will beat the rap but how long it will be before the Frank and Cora thing unravels. Now, the part of the story where the lawyer pulls a fast one on the DA regarding the insurance companies is pure hokum. The author is implying that insurance companies will cover up murder to avoid having to pay out on a policy. That's pure literary license. As for the movie, John Garfield and Lana Turner are well casted for the roles of Frank and Cora. It is too bad that the movie does not show the intensity of their relationship, which is the core of the story. Passion got the better of reason, and if the passion cannot be fully shown, then the story itself is weaker. These two young persons are so hot for each other that they lose their self-control, which distorts their thinking. In the book, Frank has a sadistic streak and Cora is a masochist. The book explicitly shows the warped nature of their relationship. That's toned way way down in the movie. Yet, it's a good movie with solid performances which captures the essence, if not the visceral details, of the book.
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This is a very good movie but it is at best a watered-down version of the book. This movie does not even come close to capturing the cynicism that permeates throughout the book. Also, Humphrey Bogart is miscast as Sam Spade. In the book, Spade is six-feet tall, is muscular and has blond hair. He crosses the line separating the client from the detective so many times that it is clear that he has joined the gang that he ostensibly had been hired to investigate. He literally becomes one of the thieves, and they are thieves and murderers. Furthermore, Spade obstructs the police who are trying to investigate the case which is involves multiple murders, is not above shaking down people and beating people up and ultimately violates the rights of his client by gaining her confidence and then using the information derived to turn her in to the police, this after he had slept with, stripped her and humiliated her. True, the lady is a murderer, but with extenuating circumstances. Further, Spade is cold-hearted and brutal. He is not above have an affair with his partner's wife and when she comes by for support, brushes her off, this while she is in mourning no less. Now, the question is: why would anyone want to write a such a story? Of course, the answer to that question is purely speculative, but from judging from the nature of the story, the author has a cynical view of American society and questions the honesty and integrity of those institutions that are supposed to protect society. The depiction of the police as being little more than nuisances is a case in point. Two police detectives are investigating a double-homicide, which is serious business, and Spade is refusing to cooperate in the investigation, which, of course, raises suspicions as to his culpability in the crimes. There us nothing about Sam Spade that is heroic, genuine or worthy of emulation. He listens to lies for money and when he learns that the thieves are chasing down something that may be worth a lot of money, he joins the chase, abusing his client's right to confidentiality to extract information, not to help his client but to help himself. The movie depicts Spade in a different light. Here his is cynical but not as overtly brutal. He is not shown sleeping with the woman nor of stripping her naked. He is also shown as having a certain code of conduct which he follows while in the book the code of conduct is discarded in favor of crass expediency. Mary Astor is wonderful in the movie, but she too is miscast. The young lady, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, is a whore who is running with a rough crowd and then steals something from a group of thieves, from which the story evolves. She came to Spade for protection and Spade took her money, thus becoming her employee, and confederate. Now, the question of love between Spade and Brigid comes up in the story. Spade repeatedly evades that question, yet his actions speak louder than words, thus showing that he cannot be honest with himself. His actions show that he cares for her: he has the key to her apartment, he sleeps with her, he kisses her, her caresses her, and intercedes on her behalf when another man, Cairo, attempts to molest her. She has no shame with him. In short, she loves Spade, and in return, Spade informs on her because he doesn't want to become one of her saps, which he had already become the money he took her money. Now, does this mean the movie should not be watched. Of course not, it is a classic and is entertaining. But don't expect to find it as intense as the book, because it is not.
The movie deserves an A for effort but misses the mark dramatically. The question is: why? The story is evocative and the cast is excellent. Where the movie goes wrong is how it presents the story. The movie attempts to inject a whimsical element in story which is out of context. There was nothing whimsical about the plan to save priceless artwork. Also, the story moves at a slow pace and inspires little if any excitement or drama. The discoveries of the hidden artwork has little dramatic impact, nor do the interpersonal relationships between the characters which in the movie are shallow. Even the attempt at romance comes off as tepid and half-hearted, as well as implausible. The idea of a young, handsome, married American officer, alone in Paris, having dinner in the apartment of an attractive, intelligent, single French woman who made him dinner and not staying for at least another drink is a stretch. True, he is married and his faithfulness is commendable, but still .... The movie does have some strong dramatic moments, but in general the story is bland. Yet despite the movie's drawbacks, it still manages to tell a story about an historical event of great importance and significance, and for that reason alone is worth watching.
This movie presents a bleak picture of the United States today. Old, desolated, decrepit, and sinking fast - these are the images of the middle of the United States depicted in this movie. And not only about the scenery, about the people too. The movie contains scene after scene of emptiness - empty land, empty homes, empty people. Bruce Dern gives a masterful performance as an aged alcoholic who is a metaphor for the United States today - wobbly, cranky, confused, irritable, knew better days. Nobody can help him, he is tottering to nothingness. His wife is a shrill, angry cynic. Relatives are estranged, everyone is bidding their time. Young people are absent. The center of town is a virtual ghost town. Pettiness prevails; everything is going downhill. Filming the movie in black and white adds to the bleakness. The world depicted in this movie is not a bright, colorful world. It is a gray world, with gray people whose usefulness is past. Everything seems pointless. Old people gather at the bars to drink. The director succeeds in telling a story that is relevant, engaging and thoughtful. There are characters, not caricatures. It is reality.
This movie is contrived, hokey, corny, stagy, and dated and would be virtually unwatchable, but is saved by one person, Peter Lorre. His performance as the pervert/murderer is outstanding and allows one to forget the obviously dated contrivances that characterize this movie. The impressionistic character of this movie is unmistakable. Scene after the scene the director attempts to use all kind of wide angled and skewed camera shots to generate certain feelings. Other times he uses close ups. These are all transparent attempts at manipulating the audience through gimmickry instead of through the story itself. If the story is strong, the gimmickry is not necessary. Here, the story is good but alone is not enough to sustain a full-length motion picture. Further, the story is so contrived as to create a need to prop it up with camera work and sound. The idea of a gang of thieves solving a crime is ludicrous. But all this is rendered secondary by Peter Lorre's performance. His performance sets the standard for future depictions of the sociopathic personality. Although playing a most reprehensible character, Lorre succeeds in investing in his character a pathos that preserves his basic humanity. That alone makes this movie worth watching. Rating, entire movie 5, Lorre's performance, 10, 10+5=15/2=7.5 rounded off to next highest number, 8.
Stop beating up on this movie. It does not deserve such shoddy treatment. This is not a bad movie. It's part sci-fi, part horror, with the emphasis on the former. The Frankenstein creation is humanized. There is nothing wrong with that. The movie successfully places the creature in the present. He even has a name. Aaron Eckhart delivers a wonderful performance as the first artificially created humanoid. He gives his character depth. This movie is not a ripoff of the original movie. True, the story is contrived, but it is also entertaining. The forces of good and evil are clearly defined and their struggle for supremacy plausible within the context of the story. The movie asks the audience to accept as a premise that there are metaphysical forces at work that are not readily discernible. For some, that may be a bit of a stretch, but remember: it's a movie. The movie is entertaining, well-acted, has good continuity and a briskly paced story. This movie is worth watching.
If you like fast paced Hollywood musicals from yesteryear, then this movie is for you. The story is dated and hokey, but there is a lot of singing and dancing. Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and the rest of the cast is excellent. Rooney demonstrates his versatility as a song-and-dance man and pairs well with Judy Garland who sings several songs and is quite engaging. The finale includes a several-minutes long minstrel sequence which some may find insensitive as it is performed in black face. That notwithstanding, Garland performs a number in black face and in drag (i.e. dressed as a male), which is remarkable. The cinematography is excellent, capturing the dance sequences in all their glory. If judged by current tastes, the movie's style is a curio, an antique. But what is not dated is the energy, vitality and the music itself which would resonate with today's audience.
What is this movie about? It is about how law enforcement lacks the resources to combat crime and as a result needs to enlist the support of the private citizens who may or may not be willing to help. This movie is also about how people are willing to do thankless jobs and also how a criminal element can cleverly infiltrate itself into the fabric of a community. The movie is also about the extraordinary measures that must be taken to weed out corruption. In this movie Hopalong Cassidy is a private citizen who is asked to engage in highly risky work for the good of his community. The implications are obvious -law enforcement itself cannot deal with the problem which suggests a community that is at risk of being overwhelmed by crime and collapsing. This movie was made in the 1930s when the viability of the economic and political system of the United States was being put to the test. The message of this movie is obvious - the country needs an army of Hopalong Cassidys to save it. The criminal element in this movie - a gang of cattle rustlers - are portrayed as being well organized with a system of informants, led by a man who one would not suspect was the head of a crime syndicate. His resourcefulness is impressive and further reinforces the need for radical action to defeat him and his plans. The actual star of this movie is not Hoppy but the bad guy who is able to organize an entire gang that successfully eludes law enforcement until its leader is tricked, which shows that no criminal is ever so smart that they can evade the law. William Boyd of course plays Hopalong Cassidy with much bravado, and Morris Anktrum plays Cassidy's nemesis. Both actors are excellent. Charlene Wyatt plays the little girl who is a symbol of innocence and reason why the community must be preserved.
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