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The Mahabharata (1989)
At The End You'll Be Someone Else
As Vyasa (the storyteller) says at the beginning. "If you listen closely, at the end you'll be someone else." Shakespearean layer upon layer of meanings. Gives westerners a glimpse (sometimes shocking) into the different mindset of the East.
All our western ideas of 'good' and 'evil'; 'truth' and 'justice' are flipped on their heads.
And the acting... particularly Krishna,,, is subtle and sublime.
Rather than try to render the 'cast of millions' they strip it down to a minimalist production where only the barest essentials are there. This puts the acting on full display and these people, from around the world, do not disappoint.
Unforgettable. Unique. Incomparable.
Highest Possible Recommendation
Operatic. Shakespearean. Greek Tragedy. Complex. Moving. Unflinching in its depiction of human relationships. (I hesitate to use that phrase as 'human relationships' make me want to run.) But as I just wrote, it is classic dynamics of a distant father and a son. A boy becoming his own man. The harsh expectation of Northern European culture.
Beautifully shot. I tend to think of this as the Dutch 'Godfather' in its look.
Not 'realistic', but as in all great drama it is -true-.
It can also be tough to watch... bad decisions. Occasional mis-guided 'heroism' which can lead to self-destructiveness.
I hate this review... all talk about 'themes' and 'meaning'. More than anything? It is beautiful and tragic.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
As I write this, the Average Rating is 7.2. Which is ridiculous. I can only suggest that this points out the real problems with the rating system... especially for films like this.
In short: if this is your kind of movie? It's a 10. If you don't? You'll wonder not only what kinds of morons watch these things, but also how such movies ever find financing.
My answer is only that there are two kinds of people in the world: People who get Bruce Campbell. And everyone else.
If you get Bruce Campbell? You'll love this. In addition to Bruce, you get a very intelligent script and a really high bang for buck quality of movie. I say that because part of the charm in many of Bruce's movies has been their low budget camp. This movie puts Mr. Campbell in a (slightly) higher bracket and, if anything, he's even better than in the Evil Dead franchise.
I'll leave discussions of 'plot' to others.
But in short, you get Bruce, Elvis, Elvis impersonators, Mummies, Ossie Davis as JFK and a nursing home infested by giant scarab beetles. And if that doesn't sound like comedy gold to you? Well then? You're one of the other types of people. And this ain't for you.
But for Bruce people? A 10.
As Good As Network TV Could Get When Aired
I originally watched this on NBC when it aired. The more 'R' rated is slightly better.
It's sort of a Mexican version of The Sopranos. If you like that sort of thing you'll probably like this as well.
I have to say that for network TV it's as good as it gets. I think it's problem was that it was too far ahead of it's time. It was certainly ahead of anything else at the time on 'network' in terms of complexity and realism. The proof is that the DVD holds up very well and in fact, with the state of things in Mexico, seems even more relevant now.
I cannot for the -life- of me understand why this didn't have a good long run... except that, again, I think the US wasn't ready for it. I think if it had been made today, on HBO, it would do great.
I took it down 1 because you may sense some 'Network TV' flavor, but that's only if you're expecting something as truly gritty as Breaking Bad... which is almost 20 years after.
To this day, the portrayals of Mexicans in various roles hasn't been approached. These are some of the most memorable characters I have ever seen on TV.
I also want to praise the music editor. The music selections were -miles- ahead of the competition. For a lot of people, Kingpin was their introduction to some a wide variety of great artists such as Leila Downes.
Amazing... And Then There's Keanu.
Dracula may be -the- most uneven movie I have ever seen. I would give it a true '10'... and rank it as one of the most interesting movies ever made if they could somehow digitally replace Keanu Reaves. As he did in 'Much Ado About Nothing', his surfer dude persona sticks out like a sore thumb. It's such a huge mis-casting because the rest of the production is just so captivating.
Music, sets, costumes, old school effects (I mean seriously old school---like right out of the 20's and 30's). The acting is also fantastically over the top---again it's like watching something from the 30's or 40's. Some of the side parts are hammy, but frankly, that's kind of the idea.
Oddly enough, the one exception to the over-acting is the lead: Oldman's Dracula is a tour de force. He plays The Count in 5-6 'versions' and in each guise he is a -presence-. (And BTW, his accent is amazing. His renderings only add to his gravitas... no Bela Lugosi jokes here.)
Can't recommend it enough if a) you can get in the spirit of English romances (I always think of Rebecca) and b) you can get past Keanu.