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214 reviews in total 
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Valentino (1977)
Character assassination 101, 8 June 2014

Anybody who watches this biopic about the legendary matinée idol, Rudolph Valentino, would think director Ken Russell had a personal vendetta against the guy. Russell is known for his grotesque, often controversial films, and this movie is no exception. The clown-like portrayal of Valentino is as offensive as the image of the white serpent ripping the arm off Jesus on the cross, in "Lair of the White Worm." This film plays like the cheapest gossip rag on the newsstand. It would have the viewer believe that R. Valentino was a flaming, super-feminine homosexual. And there is no way that the real Valentino acted or behaved like this ridiculous portrayal at all. In fact it would have been impossible in the 1920's. We basically witness endless people calling Rudy a raging homosexual, right to his face. We have people mocking him and throwing powder puffs at him! Ken Russell takes an old, unfounded rumor about Rudolph's sexuality, and builds the entire film around that one thing. It's a true character assassination of a screen legend, that should offend every fan that sees it. Of course it was usually Ken Russell's ultimate goal to offend his audience.

Nothing against Nureyev, but i truly hated his interpretation of Valentino. I don't know if the man was just too feminine in real life to hide it, or if he was simply directed to mock Rudy, a man who really hated the doubts cast upon his manhood. It angered him to no end, being of the macho Italian culture. If he could see this movie he would roll over in his grave; he would despise it that much. Attacking the image of someone who has been dead 85 years, is just cowardly and disgraceful. Watching one of Valentino's films it is clear that he was a somewhat sensitive, even shy man. Not the freakshow that you see in this 1977 film. Anyway, Nureyev, although a very handsome guy, bears no resemblance at all to Rudolph, so it is unclear why he was cast at all.

If it wasn't for the movie's great production values, it would be a total waste of time; the sets and 1920's costumes are really amazing, and the film looks beautiful. In fact, technically speaking, this is a well-made film. It's just a shame that the director decided to make it an hysterical farce, and had everyone act like clowns. If not for those poor choices, this could have been great. I wondered why this has never been commercially released on DVD; now i understand.. There is, happily, another film on the life of Valentino, from 1951, that doesn't mock the actor, but takes the subject matter seriously. The actor also bears a haunting resemblance to Rudy as well. But this movie just made me angry and disgusted.

Sexy remake of a classic, 4 June 2014

This 1989 re-telling of the life of Juan Gallardo, famed Matador, is actually the closest thing you will get to the book that it was based on. Of the three movies, this one has the deepest understanding of Spain's culture, and what the art of bullfighting means to the people of this land. It's also an incredibly sexy movie, filled with passion, violence and betrayal. Chris Rydell is perfectly cast as the young bullfighter, determined to make a name for himself in the arena, while following his dream. Things go well for him until Sol comes into his life. Played with typical erotic flair, Sharon Stone is the beautiful woman who enters Juan's life, threatening his marriage, as well as his career, for no other reason than her own personal pleasure. It's a heartbreaking love story as well, as Juan and his innocent wife are such likable characters. for this production, the story is adjusted so that it takes place in modern times. Surprisingly, that decision takes nothing away from the power of this wonderful film. Featuring gorgeous cinematography and a beautiful, capable cast, as well as an intoxicating score, this one should please fans of the 1922 original, starring Rudolph Valentino. Also featured are some impressive and sometimes bloody footage of Matadors and bulls in the arena. Scenes that were surprisingly heavily censored for the Spanish language video release. I'm not sure why this film is virtually unknown in North America, as it deserves attention. Perhaps it is due to the subject matter of bullfighting,, which holds little interest to most of the population, and the sport offends many animal rights activists as well. Still, for those with open minds, looking for an old fashioned tragic romance, "Blood and Sand" is worth tracking down. But be aware; you might need a cold shower afterwards.

Petals on the Wind (2014) (TV)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Hollow adaptation of Cult novel, 1 June 2014

This TV movie version of the beloved cult novel "Petals On the Wind" from Gothic romance author V.C. Andrews, mostly fails for several reasons. Of course it's biggest flaw is the tele-play adaptation. Somebody had the blind arrogance and stupidity to think they could improve on the source material, by making major alterations. Characters and incidents that are imperative to the story are sloppily chopped out of the script. At the same time, newly invented characters are introduced, pointlessly destroying the arc and the rhythm of the story. For instance, Christopher, who was so tortured by his love for his sister in the novel, suddenly finds time to embark on a shallow romance with a twangy speaking Southern airhead named Sara! Their relationship goes as far as the two becoming engaged. Apparently the writers failed to understand that Chris' unswerving devotion to Cathy, was the most tragically romantic aspect of this whole story. The sexy, and dangerous Russian ballet dancer, Julian is suddenly a whiny, un-intimidating Brit. Why? Why castrate one of the most potent and frightening characters in the book like this? I'm guessing the creators of this shallow soap opera were too lazy to do the research, or at least mimic a Russian accent. And remember how evil and terrifying Olivia was in the novel? Not here; now she is a strict, religious fanatic who still has the ability to show sadness and regret for her cruel treatment of the children in the attic. What the hell were they thinking?

Apparently the creators of this film had no idea about the dedicated cult following that these novels have. They are loved and remembered by millions of fans throughout the world. Sadly, the movie could have had the same effect, if they didn't tamper so unforgivably with the storyline. Admittadly I did like the movie a bit more the second time around. By that time my expectations were lowered enough to watch it without getting angry. It isn't a total waste, as the V.C. Andrews story still manages to shine through all the horrible alterations. At it's heart, we still have that sad, and doomed love that exists between Chris and Cathy. The actors for the most part, look as they are described in the novels. Ellen Burstyn is a fine actress, and the movie comes alive the few times she is on screen. But again, I can't figure out why she is playing the Grandmother with a sympathetic edge. And at least the movie does have a very pretty look to it, as well as some effective romantic music.

But it just isn't enough, for something like this. It's very sad, because with the right screen writer, this thing could have been EPIC. I mean, it's supposed to be an 8 hour production when you put all four movies together. I just wonder why they had to gut and slaughter the source material so much. The third book, "If There Be Thorns" is supposed to be realized into a film next...let's hope they don't try and tweak THAT story. to the creators of this series: Get it right next time..there are people out there that actually care, even if you don't...

18 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Surprisingly poor effort, 23 May 2014

From a competent director like Atom Egoyan, one would certainly expect a bit more than this sub par effort, that looks and feels like a cheap, made for TV movie, in every way. Filled with dull court scenes, and a preachy vibe throughout, as though the film was made specifically to prove that the 3 boys were innocent of the charges. It is hard to imagine that a movie dealing with such a fascinating subject matter, could actually be boring; but Egoyan and his cast manage to deliver a completely lackluster product. Even Reese Witherspoon, who usually turns in good performances, is just awful in this. Somehow her Southern accent sounds completely fake...even though the actress IS Southern! It felt like the actors didn't put any feeling into their roles, perhaps because even they realized that the script was so uninspiring. And if the people involved in the project can't find inspiration, how is the audience supposed to feel anything at all? The only bright spot in this film is the appearance of the up and coming actor Dane DeHaan, who is usually the best thing about any production he appears in. Unfortunately DeHaan is on screen for less than a total of 10 minutes.

For those interested in the infamous 'West Memphis Three' murders, the documentary "Paradise Lost" is still the most interesting film on the subject. Later this year, there is yet another movie on this subject, due to be released in November 2014. Hopefully that film will handle the material better than this lackluster effort..

Brutal & Beautiful, 22 May 2014

This might not be for everybody, especially not for the squeamish or animal rights people, but I must say this documentary about David Fandila, or 'El Fandi' as he is lovingly known throughout Spain, is quite possibly the most beautiful and passionate documentaries I have ever seen. The subject is the bloody and romantic sport of bullfighting, as seen through the eyes of a people with an almost religious love for the art. In this film we are introduced to the amazing David Fandila, and his supportive family, as he grows into Spain's most legendary matador. Out there in the ring, dressed in his splendid, Princely Matador costume, covered with blood, some his own and some of his bull nemesis, you will see a passion and intensity that NO other sport in existence can match. Boxers, cage fighters etc have absolutely nothing on these modern day Gods of the Arena. For bullfighting is the only sport left where the outcome is very possibly, death. Watching a bullfight is the closest you will ever come to seeing the Roman Gladiators of the past, sparring to the death, against lions and other beasts. Not a surprising fact, as we learn that bullfighting is an ancient past time, as old as Spanish history itself.

David Fandila is seen as a very shy man in his early 20's, and he reveals that he is actually uncomfortable in social situations; that he only feels truly at home in the ring, staring into the black eyes of the bull. The graceful sparring between man and beast is something to behold, like some primal dance of death, where both partners are aware that this will end in quite possibly a bloody death for one of them. In one amazing scene, El Fandi is savagely gored by an angry bull, mere centimeters from his manhood. He is placed on the operating table as doctors stitch up the hole on the spot. David refuses any anesthesia, and mere minutes later, he returns to the ring to finish off the three remaining bulls! Truly incredible stuff. Who would think that men like this still exist in this century.

It's not all blood battles of course, as we get to meet El Fandi's mother, who is beyond proud of her son. We meet his brother who has amazingly, unselfishly given up his own career to stay by his brother's side and help him realize his dream. We also meet his girlfriend, who is satisfied with seeing her matador only a couple days out of the month, and who fears for his life.

In conclusion, "The Matador" is a must-see documentary for ANY fan of extreme sport, or for anyone interested in Spain's fascinating culture. Is bullfighting politically correct? Hell no; but perhaps it's controversial nature is part of it's lure. See this film, and be amazed..

33 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
A truly faithful adaptation.., 19 January 2014

For those fans worried about the makers of this TV production not being faithful to the source material; this version is really wonderful. Featuring a beautiful, blond cast of talented actors, "Flowers in the Attic" makes the beloved Gothic novel come to life. With nice 1950's period detail, we follow the Dollanganger family to the sprawling Virginia mansion known as Foxworth Hall, a place filled with secrets and cruel deceptions. Four children will be hidden in an upstairs room by a selfish mother, determined to "win back her father's love," and thus inherit the vast Foxworth fortune. But you all know the story; this book series is such a big part of the childhood memories of so many people.

This new adaptation has it all; beautiful sets, top rate actors turning in frighteningly believable performances, and an intelligent script that shows absolute respect to the novel from 1979. It is obvious that everyone involved actually cared about what they were doing, which is rare for television movies, that so often look rushed and sloppily thrown together, just to meet a deadline. In other words, this movie has a heart. Veteran actress Ellen Buryston surprisingly lends the Grandmother a bit of a human side here, which in turn makes Corrine even more of an evil character. Not to say that the Grandmother isn't still terrifying; Buryston just gives her more depth. Heather Graham, usually known more for her beauty than her acting abilities, gives a surprisingly good performance as Corrine Foxworth; sweet, charming, selfish, and cruel; all at the same time. And later in the story, when she shows her true colors, it is quite frightening. She plays a great bitch. Cathy and Chris likewise were perfectly cast by two very talented young people. Cathy especially is multi-layered here, and she allows us to sympathize with her, without her acting too sweet, or innocent; here she is a "real person," a girl that we can relate to.

I can say that every major plot point of the novel was covered in this movie, except for one that I can remember; the passages in the novel where Chris lets Cory drink his blood, after the Grandmother has cut off their food supply, is sadly absent; sad because that is one of the most powerful images from the book, and shows just how much Chris loved his siblings. But every minute of it's short running time was used to maximum effect. At under 2 hours, we still get the feeling that the children are in that upstairs room for 2 years. And I have to say that this production has a gorgeous look to it as well. It must be mentioned too, that the controversial theme of incest is dealt with, and handled very tastefully; it is still shocking, but it never feels exploitative. I'm happy to say that this is a total success all around. If you are a fan of the novels, and haven't seen this movie version, i recommend that you give it a watch; I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with this one.

The Dr. Zhivago of adult films, 17 January 2014

I'm not exaggerating either; "Moscow: Power of Submission" needs to be seen to be believed. This production is so impressive that there is even a documentary about the making of it. Filmed on location in Russia, and featuring some of the most beautiful performers you can imagine, the story follows a group of Russian soldiers as they go about their day. There is something very raw and realistic about this movie. Maybe it's the exotic setting and impressive sets, and the beautiful and authentic Russian uniforms. Maybe it's because there is more than sex going on. The production values are so good that when there is not a sex scene happening, this actually looks like a real, mainstream movie. It isn't easy to make men having sexual relations with other men, look so completely "straight," but it is achieved here, making this a real fantasy. Because the men don't look like models, but rather real military guys. My personal favorite scene shows them hanging around outside in the freezing cold, sharing a bottle of vodka before they go inside for a card game that soon turns into a drunken orgy. Too bad the director, "The Bear" only directed one film. This guy is listed as the cameraman for Kristen Bjorn, but "Moscow: Power of Submission" is better than anything Bjorn ever made.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Sleazy nostalgia, 2 January 2014

No film captures New York's grimy 42nd street of the 1980's quite as effectively as Paul Morrisey's "Forty Deuce." This is basically a hypnotically sleazy tale of New York street hustlers trying to make some cash off of the body of a dead 12 year old kid in a dismal motel room. For anyone who thinks actor Kevin Bacon could only play squeaky clean roles in the 80's would really be shocked by his believable portrayal of a slimy, junkie male prostitute. The main reason to seek this film out is, of course, for the rare footage of a New York that no longer exists. Prostitutes and drug dealers lined up around the Port Authority Bus station, dark, seedy hustler bars, and the great nostalgia factor. I believe this is the first screen appearance of Kevin Bacon, and also a young Esai Morales. This title is very rare and it will take a lot of effort to track it down. It was only released on VHS, and only in France! There has never been any other official release of this one. It's quite fascinating stuff though, this super low budget art-house film must have some cult status.

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Powerful film about Male Prostitution, 20 November 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Before watching this film, "Aleksandr's Price," I was expecting a typical gay themed film with a lot of exploitative sex and nudity, and little else. This is nothing of the kind. Instead we have a brilliant character study, of a Russian immigrant being slowly destroyed by the harsh NYC hustling scene. Having seen many films on the subject of prostitution, i cannot remember any other film that so accurately documents what this lifestyle does to the human soul and sense of self-worth. Aleksandr is a young, and very naive Russian immigrant, who finds himself alone in a big, harsh city, after his mother commits suicide. Aleksandr is an illegal alien, unable to secure a legal means of income. It doesn't help that he has no friends to guide him or help him out. Being very good looking, he soon finds himself in a job as a go-go dancer in an NYC gay bar. When a man takes him home for a night of sex, Aleksandr is both surprised and disgusted when the man hands him an envelope with $500 inside, and promptly kicks him out. This is where the fascinating psychological study comes into play. After being abandoned by his father, and then told by his mother that he is worthless garbage who ruined her life, Aleksandr is desperate for someone..anyone to care about him, or to recognize some worth in him. Sadly, the kind of love or friendship that he searches for is not to be found in the world of prostitution. For Aleksandr meets an unending stream of the most vile, jaded men you can imagine. And with each humiliation, his sanity slips away, along with his sense of self, until he no longer believes that he is worthy of anybody or anything. After a while, he becomes addicted to the sex, and the rejection, until he comes to the point where he becomes sexually aroused by the abuse, and by the idea that he somehow deserves this vile treatment.

This pattern is so accurate; prostitution often leads to self loathing, and self annihilation. The tag line for this film is "Love isn't free," but the truth is, money isn't free either. It comes at a very steep price. I was really amazed that this film touched on all these facts, and it did it without being the least bit exploitative; the sex scenes, of which there are many, are filmed in a way in which the viewer doesn't see anything 'sexy.' Rather than showing naked bodies, the camera focuses on facial expressions, and the least erotic elements of sex. It focuses on the pain and sadness of the act, the psychological aspects of sex for cash. I'm not quite sure who the intended audience for this film is; I can't imagine many gay men liking this film, as there is such a lack of eroticism. not to mention the way the gay scene is portrayed here is very negative; every gay character is the most vile, reprehensible pig imaginable. In fact the gay scene is shown as downright evil. I don't know what to make of that. But at last here is a film with gay themes (it is not really a "gay" film, and Aleksandr's own sexual orientation isn't ever clearly defined) that can be watched by straight guys; the kind of sex in this film is not the kind that would make a straight guy uncomfortable to watch. "Aleksandr's Price" is a low budget film that is every bit as good as "Shame," starring Michael Fassbender, another film that deals with similar issues. I recommend this film highly, for viewers that can deal with dark subject matter; and this one is very dark, and totally devoid of humour or hope. But it's the most "real" film I have seen on the subject of prostitution.

Gorgeous erotic/Gothic film, 19 November 2013

I'm surprised that so few people have mentioned the beautiful cinematography of "Flesh for Frankenstein." Director Paul Morrisey went to great extents to model his film after the works of Luchino Visconti and other prolific Italian directors of the time. Of course to appreciate it, you must see it in it's original widescreen picture ratio. Featuring a lush, dreamlike feel that is helped along by a gorgeous and haunting music score, and top notch costumes. The gore, although extreme, possesses a kind of poetry, and i can imagine such sexually eroticized violence must have caused quite a controversy in the UK, at the time of release. Udo Kier is superb in his maniacal portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein, and the changes and additions to the Mary Shelley novel are for once, very smart and a welcome addition to an already great tale. Aside from the 1933 film "Bride of Frankenstein," this is my absolute favorite screen version of the Frankenstein monster. Excellent film!

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