a few dull scriptwriters together for half an afternoon, and even then they run out of ideas. so let's start with a criminal sought by all France...doesn't matter what he has done, we'll think of that later (they don't). some seconds of suspense, but not too much, and nothing unexpected, because that requires Art. half an hour needed to finish off the film; i get it: have them rob a jeweller's, and take a lot of time avoiding alarms etc.; everybody robs jewellers in films just ike this, it's bound to work (it doesn't). no humour, no character (ok, yves montand does get to ham it a weeny bit) and have everyone speak in a quiet deadpan voice that is supposed to make one think of noir, but merely makes the actors sound depressed. if they are silent, it'll make them seem grimmer - but also save us writing their lines. we'd better add something for the stay at home women who are going to watch this stuff, so let's have something to make them empathise with hubby (we forgot to put any women in the film). got it: a son on (gasp) marijuana - oh, and have him attempt suicide for no particular reason (shame? his dad's a mafia boss for crying out loud, but the audience will feel his fatherly care, and if not, sod them). oh, the crooked cop was a classmate of the guy who gets him in the end; wrenching, eh? let's have them all die at the end, or we'll never finish this stuff. is it in the can? right, that's over with then, thank god. who'll we get for director?
epic classical themese here, transported into a milieu (and a country of production) that cannot support them. pleasant for passing time on a long plane journey, for example, or anywhere where time does not matter - perhaps that was the plan.
for once, a very rare once, television skills that were yet to be developed would have done this farce a world of good.
The plot is incomplete, and these short moral films are not in fashion now, to say the least; but well worth seeing, in the context of retrospectives of Sjostrom's excellent work.
ensemble to go away and let us enjoy the quite brilliantly created
scenery. Artists and programmers have done us proud, while a
bunch of writers and actors (surely it can't be all Lucas' fault) share
a few tasteless american beers, take their cash, and entirely fail in
whatever it was they were trying to achieve. Unless it is after all
just a vehicle for those special effects - which, to give the
producers their due, brilliantly succeed.
Gems include confusing Ian McGregor with Harrison Ford (same
wisecracks, different, oh so different delivery); the same actor's
momentary lapse of accent on entering a bar; the evident character
design of Dooku's part with two different scripts . The teenage
performers are better than in #1, but still get their heads in the way
of the scenery, and a few virtual aliens upstage the lot.
clever, ok, clever vehicle, catalogue for his graphic work.
will call her), played by Jeanne Moreau occurs with too much
predictability & haste, and must in the end drag. The film should
have been cast with Burton and Moreau, & the Stanley Baker left in
a more British genre - for though Baker plays with great
intelligence, nicely turning our sympathies away as the character
receives his come-uppance, there is a curious implausibility about
the combination. Two incommensurate worlds, sexes, as a
theme to be sure, but neither can be appreciated from the other,
and so neither is enhanced.
only to older men charmed by, but largely excluded from, the
pretentions of the privileged young. also, of course, to historians of
the lesser directors of the old new wave.
the mannered failure of the principal actress to - well - act is
insupportable, and the annoyance is not decreased by a sense
that the director doesnt particularly care, in fact might prefer it that
way. the looseness of his direction is only pointed by the
conspicuousness of passages in which actual actors rebel, and
in short, a film for the voyeur.
the league of Babette's Feast, on whose coat-tails it should not be
permitted to ride. Depp, for once, is correctly cast; but Binoche is
not, and appears uncomfortable with her lines (from the sound
quality I would guess most speaking roles to have been
The film's predictability and gentle nudge-nudge salacity make it
quite suitable for the airlines - but think, if such as Mikhalkov had
been there to arrange the details, develop characters, symbols,
As WWII ended cinema-goers expected exotic travelogues. At times the director appears to wash his hands of it, and offers that mode. But, really, he shouldnt be working.
Political analysis is quite beside the point, which is indeed the point, if any, of the film. The absurdity of grasping at political meaning (or rather, replacing it with expression) is wonderfully captured in amnesia (and the entire success of the film, by the way, depends on a brilliantly sustained performance in this role).
babble; terrific fun.
The detachment this creates allows one to sit back and savour the dense painterly textures, perspective as palpable as in Wyndham Lewis' Childermass, the film a canvas, the plot a Slade professor's notes.
Watch it, you get your reward.
him direct again. Timing, pacing, editing: all hopelessly wrong.
Three or four decent professionals (next time, guys, walk off the
set) can do nothing to save this film from amateurs like Alice
Evans, and the kind of production standards you'd expect from
teen-produced children's shows on british TV.
Greatest mystery: the music. A score so inept, inappropriate and
ill-matched to the tone of the film that one seriously wonders if it is
a case of sabotage. Add an acoustic that booms apparently
unengineered from a single mike, and a director who only
intermittently remembers to add auditory action offscreen, and we
have what must be on of the greatest ratio of money to result of
written by one: half-begun themes (principle, torture, witchcraft)
sacrificed to cheap special effects (how many heads do we really
have to see roll?). Any stroke of axe or Heath Robinson device
spurts blood precisely into the wielder's face; yet the level of gore
(blood spurting from each nailhole of a victim of the iron Maiden) is
marginally too great to support the only kind interpretation of this
film, that it is supposed to be funny. Lines of development so
poorly handled that characters must stop and catch the audience
up with the plot, as in some detective farce.
And what a romp it might have been: rarely can so many great
actors - for the supporting cast is potentially superb - have stood
around with so little to do. Not including Mr Depp, kept very busy,
who equates acting with swallowing to express fear, etc etc,
unfunny and untrained in pastiche, inadequate to attempting the
themes that first informed this abandoned script.
Kudos to the headless horseman, for twirling his axe in the only
act of real gusto in a long evening. And to the sets, that save this
failure from a bomb. Sympathies for the supporting cast, who
should have been left on their own to fashion a farce, or an
adventure, or even a drama, which this certainly is not.
There is, again from television, an ambiguity of intent: the script writer sees a chance to draw a character of some violence; then glimpses the possibility of pathos. In the end we all suffer from a retreat, in which sitcom is next in line.
An echo of some greater work is here, though, in the classical score.
The genre of soap opera, of artificial drama, leaves plenty of room for emotion; it can if it wishes inherit the grand tradition of melodrama, and tap tragic themes. Not here. Locked in their lonely worlds, scriptwriter, director, and, yes, the spoiled audience whose fantasy lives it inexplicably troubles to portray, all together remind us to be sure to preserve these people harmless where they presently are: anaesthetised, in little plastic capsules of vanity.
It is therefore an occasion for cheering to see Ian Holm at full, serious professional power, extremely well rehearsed for his part. Here his performance has the spontaneity and vigour one expects from the Russians; it is hard to imagine he achived this without a study of the manic, disturbed characters of which his subject is one.
He moves a notch up the ranks; let us hope he is now offered a belated accumualation of serious work.
Teen audience stuff, with simple violence replacing charm and dread alike. Nothing to do with Film; everything to do with television in the United States. So many directors could have made something of this (and so many - compare the second with the first Never Ending Story - something just as artificial and graceless).