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Went to school....got bored
Got married.......got unmarried
Went to work......got underpaid
Went swimming ....got sunburned
Went home.........got into bed
The Others (2001)
I liked it...even though
I haven't yet seen "The Sixth Sense". Which I probably won't now after reading the reviews here, I think the twist (which, along with the chills, is really what we watch films in this genre` for) is pretty well blown for me.
But all I really want to say is that the acting by "The Others" cast is first-rate all round. And I must make particular mention of veteran comedian Eric Sykes, who I thought had died years and years ago....(gulp)..and....what.....if he did?!!!!! * cue chilling music *
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Pretty darn good
Having seen most of the Coen Brothers previous films I expected something different and slighty off centre. OBWAT is certainly those things, but it also has a heart as big as..well..as big as Mississippi. It is one of the most plainly enjoyable movies to have come out in recent times, intelligent, well-crafted, clever and superbly acted.
Characters are delivered in their myriad shades by a group of marvellous actors. George Clooney winning me over completely with his Clark Gable-ish looks and character. Having only ever seen him in Three Kings and his Thin Red Line cameo, I am now a fan. More comedy please George.
John Tuturro and Tim Blake Nelson ably assist, especially Nelson. If ever "The Simpsons" is made into a movie then he must be a natural to play Cletus the slack-jawed yokel. I don't think there is a performance that falls short of excellent from the entire cast. My special favorite is Stephen Root as the blind Radio Station Man.
Great old-timey music, a jiggy type dance by Clooney that I am trying to learn, and a feel of depression era southern US enhanced by sepia-like photography make this the best movie I've see so far this century. The only drawback to the film is that it has almost sent me broke buying the soundtrack, the DVD and a DVD player to play it on....it's THAT good!
Vice Academy 4 (1995)
No, no, no....something is wrong.
If this garbage can presently score 6.5 on the IMDb scale then there is something dreadfully wrong. It would be lucky to get nought! It stinks!!! There is not one sole redeeming factor to this pile of space wasting dross. Despicably bad acting is the least of it's worries. What few potentially humorous lines are lightly strewn throughout this mess are butchered by a mixture of the player's complete lack of comedic timing along with amateurish editing. Several years ago I wrote an IMDb review for another film which I claimed was the worst ever made. I was wrong, This Is! It would be immeasurably improved only by the addition of the absent pornography that inhabits the 70's flicks with which it shares it's qualitative style. No, I sell them short, some of them were better, and funnier. Films such as this can be and sometimes are little gems. This is and should be abhorrent to the sensitivities of any right-thinking person. If Rick Sloane attempts to make yet another sequel in this series, I suggest we concerned citizens hunt the monster down and destroy him.
On the Beach (2000)
One can't help but compare this to the 1959 version and it stands up pretty well. At least there are Aussies portraying Aussies. Heck, there's even Aussies portraying Americans, some sort of indication of how advanced the Australian film industry has come since those far off days of the original.
I found this tv-movie more watchable than I first suspected it would be. Being Australian and made for tv I knew that there would be a very high romance factor to secure the female half of the viewing audience. And I was not disappointed in this presumption. Love interest was there in spades. True love in the form of the Holmes family, new love between Moira and Captain Towers the US sub commander, lost love between Moira and Professor Osborn (real-life married couple Rachel Ward and Brian Brown), and a more masculine love between Towers and his crew.
The expedition to Alaska to investigate the mysterious message was handled well, as was each aspect in general. From the breakdown of society, to the pathos of seeing the portrayal of the end of humanity. All assisted by clear camera-work, excellent sets, competent acting (in the case of Armand Assante as Towers bordering on the very good) and a competent presentation of the "message" of nuclear doom.
I note in some of the other comments here a technical question about nuclear warheads on the submarine. The most obvious goof I noticed in the movie was that there should have been no need for people to have resorted to horse and pedal power so soon. Australia being self-sufficient in crude oil and possessing refineries. This was probably not the case when Neville Shute wrote the novel in the '50's. That is just one of my own little observations.
All in all a very watchable made for tv movie, even tho it be one that put a downer on the rest of my evening.
The Frisco Kid (1979)
Not the best movie ever made, but my favorite.
When the "Frisco Kid" first came on tv two decades ago I recorded it and watched it over and over, my wife and friends and I quoting parts of it at each other at appropriate moments in our lives.
I read the (some) lukewarm comments here on the Database and the more positive ones and let them ride, just keeping this small pearl tucked away as my favorite movie. Then last night I came home, turned on the tv and caught Gene Wilder as the rabbi Avram Belinksi trying NOT to look at the woman on the train's wondrous cleavage as he was making his way to 1850 San Francisco, so I and sat down and watched the movie through again. It is still as funny, quaint, realistic, well acted and kind as it has ever been.
Gene Wilder demonstrates the best acting he has ever done. He IS Avram Belinski. Complex, human, childlike and oh so (what I imagine) European Jewish. A stranger in a doubly strange land. Strange by being an urban Pole in the "wild west" and strange by being a Jew in that world. I learnt a lot about "Jewishness" from this movie, and at the same time a lot about Americanism too. Being neither myself I can still appreciate the humour. Humanist, long suffering, realistic and proud.
Whatever it is inside me that makes me feel good and part of humanity is touched by "The Frisco Kid". That is why I regard it as my "favorite" movie, not the best movie ever made. That title I reserve for another totally different obscure B/W movie called "King and Country" whose demonstrated injustice is counter-balanced by Avram's integrity.
Star Command (1996)
Not as bad as all that
I suspect that "Star Command"gained it's genesis from "Starship Troopers", the success of which probably prompted it's inception. However it is a very different type of sci-fi film to "Troopers", which I saw as a good old fashioned shoot 'em up war movie. And a good one at that.
Rather, "Star Command" reminded me very much of the recent and excellent British "Hornblower" TV series, where the protagonist/s use initiative and daring to outwit the enemy rather than guts and straight out firepower.
I'd not class this as even a very good movie, the acting, by a very pretty cast, is only just adequate, the characterisation stereotypical and some of the lines embarrassingly bad.
However the story itself is interest holding and the special effects/sets quite good. Not a deep film by any means but not excreable either.
2½ *'s out of 4
Dadah Is Death (1988)
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** I don't know if anyone will ever see this telemovie again. Who knows where it has disappeared to. But just in case there are *SPOILERS* ahead.
I remember the events behind this film very well. I recall looking at my watch waiting for my bus at the exact time that the two convicted drug smugglers were due to be falling thru the gallows trap door....7am Sydney time. It is the dramatised true story of two Australian men caught, tried and convicted for heroin smuggling in Malaysia in the mid '80's. One is entitled to think that they got their just deserts, as many did.
However the film shows them to be real people and despite their crimes, it demonstrates that once you start to get to know someone's character it becomes difficult to conveniently pigeon hole them under "Criminal", "dreg of society" or whatever. Also demonstrated is how the Malaysian Government were determined to use the case as a show trial, to prove to the West that they were indeed independent and not afraid to execute westerners. All appeals for clemency fall on politically astute but humanely deaf ears.
The acting is very good, Hugo Weaving who has gone from strength to strength since this is the more urbane, professional drug smuggler Chambers inadvertently caught by police because his accomplice, Barlow, gives himself away at airport security by being nervously suspect. John Polson as Kevin Barlow makes him believable,a likable, harmless rascal. Barlow was in reality a drug addicted semi down and out.
The movie belongs to Julie Christie portraying his working class English born mother, fighting like a tigress for her son. I remember seeing the real Mrs Barlow on television and Ms Christie does her justice, which is the best accolade I can give for an extraordinary display of acting. She IS Mrs Barlow, a most memorable woman. Victor Banerjee is also good as the men's defence lawyer Karpal Singh. But I expected him to be expert having seen him directed by David Lean who knew talent when he saw it. And yes, that is Sarah Jessicah Parker playing an American romantic pen pal to Kevin Barlow.
The movie uses flashbacks and follows the meanderings of the case to it's conclusion and then contrives to leave on an upbeat note. One that does not go astray in a story that shows that some countries still use people's barbaric deaths for their own political ends rather than simple justice.
Red Monarch (1983)
A minor gem.
My local video store has a shelf put aside titled "World's Worst". This I like to think is more an indictment of the staff's age rather than their critical ability. I have scored from this shelf some of the most enjoyable movies I've ever seen.
"Red Monarch" was the first film I took home from the shelf and what a fine, black, intelligent, scathing film it is. Revolving around Stalin, possibly the world's most evil man ever, it almost but never quite becomes "Carry on up the Kremlin". The hard edge under the buffoonery is applied just enough at appropriate times to remind us that the Stalinist regime was frighteningly thuggish, effective and above all real.
A cast of very British character actors make the humour satirical more than comic, Colin Blakely and David Suchet sharing the kudos for making their characters believable. Not all the scenes seemed to work though, whether due to the director not transferring the basic story's meaning well enough or not I can only guess. Mao's visit and Carroll Baker's over the top Yankee ingenue being two that don't quite gel. Others however are chilling in what I imagine is their veracity. And these scenes are in abundance, all based around Stalin's demented pitilessness and his cronies' cowardice.
Cynicism reigns supreme, not just in the film's slant on it's characters but in the behaviour of the characters themselves. A grim believable portrayal of what was and is wrong with totalitarian regimes. Bitter might even be a better word.
I'm not saying that "Red Monarch" should be put on the "World's Best" shelf, but it certainly did not belong on the one on which I found it. Btw, the movie next to it was "The Trojan Women" which is pretty good too.
The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965)
I remember this film for one thing
That was, although only 10 years old when I saw this film, the portrayal of the Temptor/Satan by Donald Pleasance stayed in my memory. It was the first example of good acting that I ever noticed. I knew the character was supposed to be the devil, but as Pleasance played him, oily, unsure of his own power, timid almost, such a non-stereotypical portrayal that I have used it as a sort of yard stick by which to judge character actors ever since. He was quite the opposite to what I expected, hence becoming the Great Deceiver indeed.
Apart from this scene I remember almost nothing else from the film except perhaps the sight and sound of Roman soldiers marching over a hill.....or was that another "Christ Film?
Ask not what this movie does for you, rather, what you would have done with this movie
Yes, this film is bad and it has no excuse for being so given the budget, the talent and the story. The reason I find it such a stinker is that I wish Guccione had bankrolled me to make it. this is what I would have done.
Firstly I would have inserted some "subtlety" into it. The British pride themselves on it, yet the gathering of fine and actual "great" British actors must have been overcome by the Mediterranean heat and forgotten how to add nuances to their performances. I would ask them to infer some erotic aspects rather than simply filming them only to have them later excised. This could have prevented the film from being simultaneously titillating and boring, a difficult thing to achieve.
I would make the characters actually interesting. Cassius Chaerea for instance, could be the catalyst of the film. A true martial hero who knew and protected Caligula as a child and now humiliated, insulted and driven to treasonous murder. Let's see it. We get one quick glimpse of his underlying passionate hatred at the "boat scene" then little else. Wasted.
Or bring some of the dark evil al a Hitler's bunker, where a grotesque monster is surrounded by timorous "yes people" or creatures equally as vile as the leader himself. No, instead we get a rich working class American publisher's view of how he thinks everyone would behave if sex in all it's aspects was acceptable. This makes Caligula a small minded big movie.
Or add any perspective taken from a character's point of view wherein we at least think that what is being portrayed as deviant behaviour actually is. Instead the blurb asks us "What would you have done?" meaning wouldn't we all have just jumped onto this carnal bandwagon and joined in. Perhaps we would, perhaps we wouldn't.
In short I, or any director worth his salt would inject some GUTZ into this film, the addition of which could have made a forgettable film unforgettable.
Caligula could have been so much better and there is no excuse, excepting perhaps the small one that the guy with all the money was calling the shots.