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1. West Side Story
2. The Apartment
3. Midnight Cowboy
4. La dolce vita
5. Asphalt Jungle, The
6. Eclisse, L'
7. Mulholland Dr.
8. The Last Picture Show
9. Born to Kill
10. Kiss Me Deadly
14. The thin Red Line
15. Nightmare Alley
16. Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The
17. L' Avventura
18. Servant, The
19. Billy Liar
20. Winchester '73
Io la conoscevo bene (1965)
No One Really Knew Her
Ironically titled, beautifully shot and well-acted, this is a real 'sleeper' from late in the Golden Age of Italian cinema. Stefania Sandrelli perfectly embodies the naive girl from the provinces who wants to be a star. We never know what she can do well, apart from be charming and look terrific. But she believes there is a place for her in the firmament of the entertainment industry. Adriana gets to live only on the edge of the life she thinks she wants (nice apartment, clothes, wigs, parties, making money from sexual favors or modeling). From the start, she is taken advantage of by 'agents' or others who claim to be helping her. The numerous men she encounters are mostly ciphers themselves. Their only advantage is that they understand the ruthless nature of their world. Adriana is just their latest victim. One charmer skips out in the early morning from a hotel encounter, leaving Adriana stuck with the bill. Another, after a sexual episode, asks her to call another girl for him. In a brilliantly cringing scene, poor Adriana is humiliated in front of friends, as her long-awaited 'film debut' only serves to use her for comic fodder.
The film uses flashback to fill in Adriana's past: she was a normal, if very pretty, girl whose family has already nearly forgotten her. Like many of her kind, she craves the "love" that stardom should bring. As often with serious Italian film, the outcome is pessimistic.
Director Pietrangeli paces the film well and integrates the brief flashbacks to telling effect. Locations are well-used and often beautifully photographed. The film can occasionally remind a viewer of Robert Bresson's work: much faster paced, and with a higher energy level, but with a similar outlook on youth and the harshness of contemporary life. I'd go as far to say if this film had been directed by Bresson, it would be far better known. The international view of Italian cinema at the time was dominated by Fellini, Antonioni and a few others, while Pietrangeli, Monicelli and many fine film makers remain to be re-discovered. Here is a great place to start that re- discovery.
Fourth Man Out (2015)
A Better, though imperfect gay-themed film
4th Man Out has a lot going for it. Well-written dialog, with a real sense of humor. Good acting from an appealing and attractive cast. An unusual and effective location. It's definitely worth a look for anyone interested in the so-called 'sub genre' of gay-themed movies. And for these reasons, it's far superior to many of its predecessors.
Evan Todd as "Adam", the main character, does a fine job of conveying the anxiety of someone in his position. It's a situation many of us can identify with. And it's treated in way consistent with the time period (current) and location (upstate NY, i.e. not San Francisco, NYC or Boston). Adam and his friends are in their late 20s and all have (or think they have) pretty open-minded views about homosexuality, but when Adam announces he's gay it still creates some ripples in their little network. Because the characters are pretty well drawn -- Adam and best friend Chris (played by Parker Young) in particular-- it's hard to condemn any of them for not immediately and fully embracing their friend's news. It takes them a while. Yes, this is not taking place 30 years ago, so we can think they should have no problems. But they do love Adam as a friend and eventually they call come around. The film balances the awkwardness and initial homophobia pretty well, with no really mean-spirited humor. Adam's parents are also well presented, with expected surprise (or lack of it) and acceptance through love.
The single big drawback in 4th Man Out is a dating montage sequence for Adam. He signs on to a gay dating site, or phone app and is quickly barraged with interested parties (he's very good-looking and charming). The problem with the sequence is that it trades in too many stereotypes. The one likely candidate gets as far as a pretty hot make-out session with Adam, but it's ruined by a crass event that seems out of place and unnecessary. Too bad, but this does not spoil the entire film.
See it for the attractive (yet realistic) cast, genuine humor and an engaging story mostly well-told
The Invaders: Panic (1967)
Tense Chapter of "The Invaders"
Beautiful locations and a score that sometimes resembles music of Bernard Herrmann bring distinction to this tense, exciting episode. Guest star Robert Walker, Jr is an alien with a difference. When mysterious deaths attract his attention to the area, David Vincent arrives to investigate and finds Walker responsible. He manages to take the alien prisoner, but a gullible woman (future Mrs. Thinnes, Lynn Loring) helps him escape while Vincent sleeps. There are a few disturbing scenes and a fair amount of excitement in this episode and the locations, meant to be West Virginia, are often striking.
Besides Walker and Loring, who are very good, we have R.G. Armstrong and a few other TV stalwarts of the period in the cast. Frontiere's score is noteworthy and effective and director Robert Butler generates plenty of action and tense drama. A top notch chapter.
Two Hours in Hell
Calling this film 'two hours in hell' is not meant as a put down. This is an accomplished film in most ways. The actors are good, even excellent at times and the director captures a sure sense of place and knows how to depict situations with great realism.
This is the type of film that pulls the viewer into its world, using a semi-documentary style. Filmed in a frigid, grey Montreal, it's an unpleasant world, with no humor or true pleasure. The inhabitants are desperate drug addicts who continually pay for their next fix by selling their bodies or stealing. The title is ironic: there does not seem to be any love in this world either. There is sex, but it's rough and without tenderness. We only glimpse the possibility of love between Alex and Bruno at the start, when the film looks like it might be going to tell their story as a desperate couple. But the real focus of the film is Alex. We spend a few days with him, watching him waste time with demanding abusive friends, or selling himself, or stealing. The film works because Alex is played by a handsome and charismatic actor, Alexandre Landry. Throughout, we feel that Alex is a good kid who has gone terribly wrong somehow, and has wound up in a treacherous, possibly deadly downward spiral. The film is a series of realistically presented scenes, showing Alex's world. It's a world we are probably very happy not to inhabit ourselves. The film isn't perfect--the final section, with Bruno, is somewhat confusing to follow--but it works because of Mr. Landry and a cinematically effective style.
The Invaders: Quantity: Unknown (1967)
Another Gripping Chapter of The Invaders
The 8th chapter of Season One, "Quantity: Unknown" has some original plot touches and uses a number of eye-catching locations, including a great psychedelic night club and a monumental structure featuring a high waterfall.
The cast includes James Whitmore, Susan Strasberg, Barney Philips, Milton Seltzer and William Talman in his last filmed appearance. All are excellent. And as always, Roy Thinnes is a standout.
This episode might recall the great film noir KISS ME DEADLY, as sinister forces go in search of a mysterious metal cylinder. It's easy to imagine TV audiences of 1967 being gripped by this one. It really never lets up and it has a stronger emotional component than some previous chapters.
A visually arresting and exciting episode.
Excellent, not to be missed
STAND is the kind of film that pulls you in, holds on and hits you hard. It asks a classic, eternal question: when is doing the right thing worth risking everything else? Many in the US know that life for gay people in Russia leaves a lot to be desired. This film goes a long way to make us see the oppressed existence of those who do not conform to the "norms" of society. The only way they get along is by maintaining a low profile and not making waves.
Anton and Vlad are a happy male couple. Both attractive and intelligent, they have a seemingly ideal relationship, as lovers and best friends. But a rift starts between them one night, when they witness the beating of a another gay man. Anton wanted to stop the car and help, but Vlad kept going. Later it is learned that the victim has died. Anton devotes himself to uncovering the killer and Vlad somewhat reluctantly, out of love, agrees to help him. But Anton takes one chance too many in his search and Vlad reacts with anger out of fear for his partner's safety. After a painful confrontation, they go their separate ways ,with Anton pursuing his mission at first alone, then with the help of a handsome friend, Andrey. No real spoiler here; the rest of the story is strong stuff and not easy to forget.
The actors are uniformly excellent, with Renat Shuteev, as Anton, deserving top honors for a very convincing characterization. Director Jonathan Taieb does a fine job of setting the scene and evoking excellent performances. A few scenes seem slightly overlong, even superfluous, but they don't detract from the overall quality of this film. An LGBT film with a strong message and artistic value.
Gunsmoke: The Summons (1962)
An all-around good episode
An all-around good episode of Gunsmoke. Very well acted, some excitement and a dramatically compelling story line.
John Crawford was expert at playing thugs and bad men in the Old West, and he's at the top of his game here, playing amoral Loy Bishop. When Bishop's plan to collect a thousand-dollar reward for "capturing" his former friend, a wanted murderer, does not work out the way he expects, he plans to retaliate on Marshal Dillon. Bishop had shot his friend in the back and delivered the body to Dillon, who saw through his criminal plan. Part of Bishop's new plan, that of revenge, includes the participation of Rose Ellen. She is supposed to seduce and distract Dillon, who's been called to another town as a ruse to get him out of Dodge and into Bishop's clutches. Things look pretty bad for the Marshal until Rose Ellen breaks down and helps him escape. When all is said and done--it's Gunsmoke after all, and Marshal Dillon can't be killed off the show--Rose Ellen expects to be the Marshal's "woman". Again, it's Gunsmoke, and he just isn't interested in romance. So poor naive Rose Ellen is left with nothing but an offer to go to Dodge City and look for a job.
This is a very good example of how a pretty formulaic (though always engaging and well-wrought) series can occasionally touch on deeper human values and feelings. Bethel Leslie, who plays Rose Ellen, does an excellent job of conveying the character's despair and emptiness at the end. It's a convincing, "real" moment in a story that in many ways had to be contrived. Very likely, there were many decent people back in those days who ended up with little to hold onto in their lives.
Not a Great Episode, But Still Worth a Look
Contrary to the previous user reviews here, there is no need to disparage Rod Serling or his great series "The Twilight Zone" when discussing an unrelated "Gunsmoke" episode.
The biggest problem in "Coventry" is with villain Dean Beard remaining in Dodge after certain events in which he is clearly involved. He's really asking for trouble. A seemingly clever trickster like Beard would have skipped town. Joe Maross gives a convincing performance as "rotten to the core" villain Dean Beard. He makes the blatant morality play of "Coventry" work. Another good thing is the visual appeal of the episode's denouement, set in amid a windstorm on a desolate prairie. Certainly not one of the great "Gunsmoke" episodes, but worth an occasional look.
Good Episode until the last act
This is a fine Gunsmoke episode until a turn of events near the end spoils the credibility. Actors Dianne Foster, Jason Evers give excellent performances as featured characters. Foster plays Cornelia, a woman whose husband is killed by Matt Dillon out of necessity. When Matt explains the situation to the widow, she only vows revenge and plans to have him killed in reprisal. After a couple of failed attempts to find a gunman brave enough to go against the Marshall, she is approached by Ben Harden (Jason Evers). His handsome looks and pleasant manner win Cornelia over. A romance begins with Ben and she seems to be having second thoughts about her revenge plot. When Matt sees Ben in the Long Branch, he tells him that he suspects Cornelia has approached him about her plot. In other words, he implies that Cornelia is only romancing Ben so that he will be willing to do her dirty work. However, we don't really know if that is true, since Cornelia does seem very taken with Ben. Logically, Ben goes to Cornelia and asks if what Marshall Dillon implies is true. She answers only that she loves him and they embrace. Then, illogically, Ben announces he will carry out Cornelia's reprisal and kill Matt Dillon. He rushes out of the room and after a moment's reflection, Cornelia tries to catch up with him. In only a few moments, Ben has followed the Marshall 10 miles out of town where he plans to confront him with a gun. Cornelia arrives moments too late and must see Ben lying dead after Matt had to shoot him in self defense.
This is a good plot with a faulty final act. Ben should not have changed his mind so quickly about killing Matt: he could have believed Cornelia had changed her own mind about revenge or simply refused to do the job. In spite of that, it's an engaging episode with good performances by an attractive cast.
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
Lurid, unconvincing and ultimately pointless
Diane Keaton is a charming and attractive performer, but she is not up to this role. She is visibly uncomfortable in the sleaze/sex scenes and often resorts to mannerisms familiar from her Annie Hall character (watch this film and think of Annie Hall. It's obvious she is not immersed in the Theresa character). On the other hand, Keaton does well in the scenes where she is a teacher, and is quite convincing. Despite the all-around histrionics, she is not bad in the family scenes with sister and father. But this film fails for a few reasons. It has a dark, depressive atmosphere that is not justified by its outcome: poor Theresa is damaged emotionally by her physical 'defects' and by a too-strict Catholic upbringing, this is believable. And it's believable that a person lacking self-confidence would seek out acceptance and affirmation from promiscuous sex (a fairly common scenario, actually). But the film really does seem to say that Theresa deserves her fate in the end. She blows off the one man (Atherton) who would have made sense as a partner and feels compelled to continue a descent into debauchery. Doesn't this film seem to say, keep up with this kind of lifestyle and you'll end up miserable and bitter (like Theresa's sister ) or brutally murdered? This film seems to indulge us in its sleazy world, yet it seems to judge Theresa for immersing herself in it in a vain attempt to ease her pain. Note the way director Richard Brooks chooses to end the film, on Theresa's face as the life blinks out of her--there is no requiem, no final coda expressing pity or remorse. We have been shown the brutal murder of a sympathetic character as if it were a scene from a cheap horror movie. Diane Keaton is not solely to blame for the ultimate failure of the film, the writers and director are more responsible. Still, it's hard not to imagine Keaton and Tuesday Weld exchanging roles: Weld has a much wider range as an actress and certainly would have handled the 'secret life' with more conviction.