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Persona (1966)
8/10
Melting the Screen
23 June 2006
"Persona" is art house cinema defined! The loose plot centers on a Scandinavian-Freudian ego/id struggle going on simultaneously in two very complicated and classically beautiful Swedish women. One woman is an actress (played by famous Swedish actress Liv Ullman), in seclusion during a nervous breakdown, the other woman is her nurse (an explosive Bibi Anderson). The women bond into a volatile co-dependent relationship that has (at times very) vague lesbian (is it so controversial to say this?) undertones but is mostly expressed in long slow sequences of dialogue that escalate to volcanic displays of emotion.

What makes this movie such a great classic is the magnificent cinematography, and the innovative screen shots and cinematic effects used throughout the picture. Additionally, the original musical score is used to important effect and the editing and direction are flawless. The total visual effect of "Persona" is one of the best examples of cinema as "art". The clarity and composition of all the camera-work is simply superb. And don't let the plot summary fool you -- this is a hard film to describe -- there are plenty of surprises and it remains very modern to this day!
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8/10
We can be happy – just not together.
23 June 2006
There is an odd sense of appealing disdain that overcomes you watching this movie. The storyline itself is really quite simple and the screenplay nothing special but the direction, by actor Danny DeVito, is excellent as is the entire production led by James L. Brooks. Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas are perfect as the uber-successful couple – Oliver and Barbara Rose – at the pinnacle of Eighties success. He's the hotshot lawyer with political ambitions and she's a sought-after caterer (of course). Together they share a proto McMansion complete with giant walk-in closets, terrazzo floors, and live-in European housekeeper. But it is the house that becomes their undoing.

Bored and stereotypically hormonal, Barbara wants a divorce but Oliver won't give it to her easily because each wants the house. Their kids, grown and living away, resent both of them and only housekeeper Susan (Marianne Sagebrecht) really cares what happens to either of them. Little by little they descend hilariously into madness and ultimately neither of them win their prize.

Turner and Douglas pick up where they left off in "The Jewel and the Nile" and more precisely in "Romancing the Stone" and have an electric chemistry between them that makes even the most mundane line of dialogue funny if not witty. The viewer can't help but feel for both Roses yet find them equally repelling as they sink to their depths in the outrageous domestic warfare.

With plenty of surprises "War of the Roses" proves the old adage that nothing is sacred in love and war.
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9/10
A Reason To Get Up In The Morning
27 May 2006
Incredibly powerful and sobering, "Requiem for a Dream" is one of strongest anti-drug movies ever made. The lives of four people, a mother and her only son, a beautiful artistic young woman, and a charming young man, are destroyed by addiction in a parable of illicit and licit drug use. This extraordinary film by young director (and co-writer) Darren Aronofsky shows how Americans crush their positive energies with chemical crutches be they heroin or little blue pills prescribed by a doctor.

Ellen Burstyn won an Academy Award (2000) for her performance of sad Sara Goldfarb who sinks deeper into delusion about being on her favorite infomercial TV program as she gets hooked on prescribed medications. Her son Harry (Jared Leto), his buddy Tyrone (Marlon Wayans), and girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly) hope to get rich off just one more score but get hooked and watch helplessly as their lives disintegrate.

The direction is slick and arty with interesting visual effects that create a fast and furious pace that mirrors the drug rushes that sequence the film. In little over an hour and a half we witness a complete meltdown. The acting is superb from start to finish and even supporting roles such as Louise Lasser's Ada, Sara's long-suffering friend, add depth and dimension to this tragic tale. A must see but not for the faint-hearted and don't expect a typical Hollywood happy ending.
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1/10
Bombing Shanghai
27 May 2006
Consider the ingredients available for this film: award winning famous actors, the Academy Award Merchant-Ivory team of director, producer, and screenwriter, an exotic and interesting setting – Shanghai on the eve of Japan's 1937 invasion that really started World War II, yet with all this bounty James Ivory cooks up not a feast but a tofu turkey.

Towards the end of this badly paced, plodding, mess of a movie, the audience almost wants the small sampan where the principle characters, a tragic Russian émigré family (played by real-life mother, aunt, and daughter Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave and Natasha Richardson) to get hit by a Japanese bomb. There is so little character development and the cartoonish accents from all (including Ralph Fiennes whose performance is so understated as to be almost unnoticed) are so grating that we never really care what happens to anyone in the course of the movie.

Overall the production is shockingly bad – grainy footage with washed-out color, boring locales (were any scenes actually filmed in Shanghai?), dreadful dialogue, and a nonsensical story line that leaves you confused throughout, make it hard to believe this is the final Merchant-Ivory production. It is said that Ismail Merchant lived long enough to wrap filming for this film. Director James Ivory then finished production. Better to have shelved it or thrown it away. Avoid or be warned.
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Belle de Jour (1967)
9/10
Worms are eating you up...
21 July 2005
The line between illusion and reality is blurred to perfection in all of Luis Bunuel's work but perhaps most seamlessly in "Belle de Jour," his best known (if not his best) movie. Severine Serizy (played by Catherine Deneuve), the wife of a promising doctor, is frigid with her handsome workaholic husband Pierre (Jean Sorel) but she's no good girl. Her sexual coldness masks her affliction with that most Parisian of maladies, sadomasochism.

Severine's need for humiliation drives her to secretly become a prostitute by day. As one of Madame Anais's beauties she opens sexually in a series of misadventures that are often quite amusing but ultimately expose her and wreck her confused but comfortable world. By the end we're never quite sure just what has happened and are left with lingering doubts about the meaning of fidelity, love, and sexuality -- hot topics when the movie premiered in 1967.

Several things stand out and make this movie a real treat. Foremost is Catherine Deneuve's extraordinary beauty. Whether in underwear or the incredibly stylish costumes by Yves Saint Laurent, she is ravishing. But just as enchanting are Genevieve Page as Madame Anais and all the actresses that haunt the picture with their suppressed loveliness. Judicious use of sound effects (there is no soundtrack - a mark of Bunuel) and color (supposedly this was Bunuel's first color film) give sensory clues to the narrative that still inspire debate. And where else could you possibly see Catherine Deneuve splattered in the face with cow dung! It is a masterpiece from the father of surrealism and one not to miss.
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7/10
See the Louvre in 9 minutes 43 seconds!
12 February 2005
Accessible Godard! Between the more famous "Breathless" and "Alphaville.." Godard wrote and directed this gem of French chic. The story is straight out of the tabloids, a love triangle of misfits who band together briefly but end up making a mess of things. But their moments together are oddly fascinating particularly an infectious dance sequence as all three do the Madison. It's worth watching the movie for this scene alone! The leads, including Jean-Luc Godard partner Anna Karina, are young and charming and their quick dialogue keeps things light. Yet the viewer remains detached throughout and ultimately is left with a sense of surrealism. A wonderful example of French "new wave" cinema, "Band a'part" is a delight. Voyez!
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8/10
Changing The Wallpaper
12 February 2005
Absolutely wonderful French musical featuring twenty-year old Catherine Denevue singing every word of dialogue along with a cast of well-known (at the time) French actors. The production is opera as only the French knew how to do it. The tale is from old Europe -- love, betrayal, remorse but cast against the last years of France's Algerian crisis. The music, well it starts to sound like side 2 of a Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 record after awhile, nevertheless it does catch your attention and makes you focus on the story. A truly unique movie-going experience, "Umbrellas" is sure to entertain from its giddy start to its surprisingly poignant end. Find it!
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8/10
Just Lie Down
3 February 2005
Extremely plodding but powerful war flick about the B-17 "flying fortresses" that took World War II back to Germany with constant bombing raids on the Reich heartland. Gregory Peck, earning a fourth Oscar nomination for the role, plays General Savage of the USA Eighth Air Force based in England. Casualties are high as the B-17's must fly during daylight in an era before RADAR and other technologies. After he dismisses a popular but battle fatigued Commander, chief-of-staff pipe-smoking Savage is re-assigned from his cozy office to the front lines. What results is a study in leadership as Savage instills a vigorous camaraderie among his men and flies with them on bombing raids. But ultimately he succumbs like the Commanders before him to nervous breakdown.

"Twelve O'Clock Hight" is at once a gung-ho patriotic reaffirmation of the "good fight," yet also gives an anti-war message about the brutality of a world at war. The all-male cast give superb performances and Dean Jagger (as Major Harvey Stovall) won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. Production all round is first-rate including real footage of dogfights and bombing raids and the the most famous (to that day) action stunt of all time when stunt pilot Paul Mantz crash lands a B-17. And that's just the start of the picture! See this one.
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What do you most look forward to, Mr. Stevens?
5 December 2003
The crowning achievement of the Ismail Merchant/James Ivory partnership and their entire production team who give their absolute best in original music, cinematography, editing, art and set direction, costumes, and, of course, screenplay by Merchant/Ivory regular Ruth Prawler Jhabvala. Add flawless performances from the all-star cast and the result is almost too perfect. But there is just enough humility to this sad tale of unrequited love to make it completely believable.

Anthony Hopkins excels as the impenetrable Mr. Stevens, Butler of a lordly country house in the final days of the British Empire, and Emma Thompson is superb as his foil, Housekeeper Miss Kenton. Both give wonderfully deep, sensitive portrayals of two complex lonely people who don't realize, until it's too late, that they belong together. Swirling around them is fascinating drama of life upstairs and downstairs and there are as many surprises and sub-plots to the story (based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro) as there are secret passages, nooks, and crannies in "Darlington House."

An all-round first-rate cinematic experience, "Remains of the Day" is one of those pictures that lingers in the mind long after the credits pass. A must see. One poignant note: this was the return to the big screen of actor Christopher Reeve, as American millionaire Congressman Lewis, whose life nicely frames the storyline. Two years later Reeve became paralyzed after being thrown from a horse.
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BUtterfield 8 (1960)
Vulgarity Has Its Purposes
24 November 2003
Two beautiful unhappy people from opposite ends of Eisenhower era America are drawn together by an obsessive love that ends in tragic consequences. Elizabeth Taylor won a Best Actress Oscar (after much better performances in earlier pictures such as `Cat On A Hot Tin Roof') for her portrayal of (shock!) call-girl Gloria Wandrous. Laurence Harvey plays the john, Weston Liggett, trapped in a stale marriage with his stoic wife Emily (Dina Merrill, perfect as a blue-blooded blonde heiress).

Complementing the moody performances of Liz and Laurence Harvey are an excellent Eddie Fisher as Gloria's long-suffering best friend and greatest admirer Steve, Mildred Dunnock as poor Mrs. Wandrous, in complete denial of her daughter's easy virtue, Betty Field as nosy neighbor Mrs. Fanny Barber, and many others including Kay Medford as tragicomic motel matron, Happy.

Lurking behind the scenes of `Butterfield 8' are some very grown up issues (particularly for its day) about infidelity, high class prostitution, childhood sexual abuse, and the meaning of true commitment. The dialogue by John Michael Hayes (`Peyton Place,' `To Catch A Thief,' and `Rear Window", among many credits) and Charles Schnee, is punchy and quick, and the movie glows with luscious cinematography from Hollywood veteran Joseph Ruttenberg, who got an Academy Award nomination for his efforts (he had previously won four Oscars dating back to 1938).

Although somewhat dated, it remains a thoughtful film (if you pay attention) and a visual treat for any Liz fan. Worth watching!
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7/10
Stay On The Boat
6 October 2003
Tortuous anti-war epic that ultimately disappoints despite the fantastic cinematography and superb overall production. The performances by Robert Duvall (who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) and Marlon Brando, meant to be highlights, only reduce the picture's gritty realism and lose the viewer's interest with overly dramatized performances and, with Brando, at times unintelligible dialogue.

What saves the film, and makes it great, is the narrated journey of Captain Willard up the Mekong and into the dark reaches of Indo-China. Martin Sheen gives a tremendous performance as the super-serious unofficial operative Willard whose mission is to seek out the mutinous Colonel Kurtz (Brando), creator of a dysfunctional Shangri-La deep in the jungle. Plenty of action and more than one bizarre sojourn (particularly in the less edited Redux version) greet Willard and his riverboat crew of war movie personalities--wonderfully performed by all including a very young Laurence Fishburne as the gunner's mate, "Mr. Clean."

Together they traverse through all the ironies and confusing realities of warfare and keep you on the edge of your seat. Once on land, however, the movie bogs down into a badly scripted climax between Willard and Kurtz.

Definitely worth watching only give yourself enough time to appreciate the pacing and by all means, don't worry if you never see the end!
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Demon Seeds
5 October 2003
Dated but fast-paced George Sanders throw-away in which an English village comes under attack from a force as close to home as it is from the far unknown. Long before "Rosemary's Baby" this campy sci-fi thriller delivers more than one devilish little child! Nice black-and-white cinematography and simple, yet effective, "photographic effects," by Tom Howard (later the Special Photographic Effects Supervisor for "2001: A Space Odyssey") give a sense of spooky realism that help this campy tale of immaculate misconception entertain nicely.
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9/10
War is a 24 hour a day job
5 July 2001
Humphrey Bogart turns in one of his very best performances as the quirky Captain Queeg who takes over command of The Caine, a war-weary armored ship, in the last days of the Second World War. His senior officers, played by Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and Robert Francis, have a hard time accommodating his strict stewardship and begin to question his authority. When The Caine gets active duty, tensions mount, tempers flare, and the crew gets mutinous! In the background there is lots of action, a banal but innocuous love affair, some schmaltzy humor, and a strong unquestioning dose of 1950s feel good American patriotism mixed with some new Hollywood Jung/Freud psycho-babble.

After the mutiny on The Caine, the movie ends with an even bigger bang--a terrific court-martial that pits defender Jose Ferrer against prosecutor E.G. Marshall. Jose Ferrar wins over the officers in the end and his final interrogation of Queeg (Bogart) remains one of the most powerful courtroom scenes in any movie made since. The end of the picture leaves us with a riddle and some judicious comments from Jose Ferrar about social rank and true loyalty.

What makes this film such a classic are the tremendous performances by all the actors, from a very young Lee Marvin as a lowly seaman to all those already mentioned, each is flawless. Stanley Kramer produced and this is his best effort, far better than later movies such as "The Defiant Ones" or "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner."

For any fan of Bogart, good dialogue, or intriguing story lines, this movie will delight. One of the best -- watch it!
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L'Avventura (1960)
Get Away From Me You Filthy Animal
12 June 2001
It is said that when originally shown at the Cannes Film Festival wags in the audience shouted "Cut" throughout this movie. In one sense, famous Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura seems painfully plodding yet the viewer remains strangely fascinated by its rhythms. Every framed shot is a beautiful crisp black and white postcard. The simple story grapples with the usual issues that defined sophisticated Sixties Europe--marriage, infidelity, ego, wealth, culture. Monica Vitti stars as the close friend of a woman whose disappearance is the only real plot device in the film. It was only her second movie and given her amazing beauty and timeless portrayal of alienation, it is a wonder she did not become a bigger star after leaving Antonioni's tutelage (she starred shortly after this film in two other Antonioni pictures).

Integral to this movie's success is the very modern use of sound. Three very talented Italian sound technicians did their first work in this film. Two, Claudio Maielli and Fausto Ancillai, have had long careers since. In L'Avventura the sound of rushing water fades in and out of the soundtrack creating a dreamy auralscape--be it a raging Tiber River in the background of a garret apartment or as the ever-present sound of waves hitting the beach.

This is major art house but worth watching. Hang the type A jacket on the wall, L'Avventura is about 2 and a half hours long!
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Oh Moses, Moses...
12 June 2001
One of the vastest Hollywood blockbusters of all time! You know the story, television was wiping out the old Hollywood movie business. So along came technology with huge screens, "cinemascope", lurid "technicolor" and scratch-your-eyes in disbelief special effects, to save the day! The result was an endless stream of movies that tried to match in breadth of drama or action the grandeur of the new movie experience. Most are long forgotten, but not this epic from the great Hollywood veteran Cecil B. DeMille! What could top this story direct from the Old Testament of the Bible? The political and sociological implications are profound, particularly given the film's release just over 10 years after the end of the Holocaust in Europe.

Despite the extreme seriousness of the topics involved, what makes this movie tick is the bizarre love triangle of Moses, Nefritiri, and Ramses. And all three central characters are played to the hilt with over theatrical staginess by Charlton Heston, Ann Baxter, and Yul Brynner. Ann Baxter is spectacularly campy as the Egyptian Queen who longs for her childhood prince, Moses, despite her betrothal to Pharoah Ramses. Charlton Heston excells as Moses, he lives the part. And Yul Brynner is the perfect oriental despot.

When I first saw this movie, as a child, I thought it ended less than half way through! The direction is tight and dramatic with plenty of little cliffhangers and at least one intermission (!) but remains riveting to the end. One of the best examples of the big last hurrah old Hollywood studio pictures! If you haven't seen it -- watch it now!
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Even with all this food, you can't stop talking
11 May 2001
A sumptuous feast from Zhang Yimou that casts rich sumptuous colors, simmering emotions, and tragedy against the bleak grey background of early republican China. Gong Li is coldly beautiful as the fourth wife a wealthy Chinese man whose adjoining mansions and women hold many passions, secrets, and wild drama. It is a beautiful illustration of how individual expression can exist in a confined and conformist environment. He Caifei and Cao Cuifen excel as previous concubines jockeying for position and the pleasures "du maison". This movie has the pacing of a great epic drama, and just as many surprises, yet remains an isolated vignette. It is a timeless story, and a beautiful film. See this one!
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The Hunger (1983)
Blut ist ein besonderes saft
22 March 2001
Easily one of the most stylish movies of the 1980s, "The Hunger" takes obsessive love to the nth degree. An ancient vampire seductress turns her lovers into vampires but cannot stop them from inexplicably wasting away. As they disintegrate, she grieves (briefly) and then adds them to her collection, tucked away in caskets, their mouths gaping with the inaudible screams of their eternal suffering. But she quickly seduces a replacement (of either gender) with her promise of love and life "forever and ever". But after what may be thousands of years of such cycles, the gorgeous vampiress meets her match!

Two elements of this film make it a must see: the inspired and terrific cast and the sensational art direction. The magnificent Catherine Deneuve stars as the uber vampiress and her performance is at once alluring, touching, and startlingly sadistic. Playing opposite Deneuve are chic and gorgeous David Bowie and Susan Sarandon. Directed by Tony Scott, brother of Ridley Scott, and released one year after the latter's acclaimed "Blade Runner", "The Hunger" shares a similar vision but it is arguably not only a better film but even more visually compelling.

Simmering beneath the surface of the gothic story line are early allusions to AIDS, and the dangers (and excesses) of medical experimentation. It's a heavy mix but never intrudes on the movie's strange beauty. Still popular as a cult favorite, "The Hunger" satisfies and satiates!
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Zardoz (1974)
I will not go to level 2!
22 March 2001
British Director John Boorman produced, directed, and wrote this extremely campy sci-fi drama about a utopian refuge created by the world's elite sometime in the future. Into the oasis of culture and leisure, whose inhabitants never age and are troubled only by the occasional negative aura, bursts Zed (a burly Sean Connery), a brutal from the overpopulated outlands beyond the perfect plastic bubble.

Initially an object of fascination to decadent futurists May (Sarah Kestelman, luminous in her best role), Consuella (a smoldering Charlotte Rampling), and Friend (John Alderton), Zed's raw nature and virility causes the dysfunctional paradise to unravel into fratricidal warfare. Only by breeding with Zed and giving him all the knowledge of the universe via osmosis is the human race able to survive.

This movie is rich in wild vivid imagery, including Sean Connery clad nearly throughout in only a red suede loincloth. Despite its progressively complex and dated story and message, Zardoz remains intriguing and entertaining. Performances, sound, and visual effects all come together to create a fun and memorable movie-watching experience. Look for it!
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Aliens (1986)
Ripley...I'm scared
29 November 2000
Despite the unparalleled success of Titanic, this is the movie that made Jim Cameron and is still arguably his best effort. Released in 1986, two years after his groundbreaking Terminator, Aliens is a celebration of American military might (the movie was made after six years of unprecedented defense spending under President Reagan) and mastery over nature. Although it depends heavily on the original Alien (1979) in art direction and style (and, of course, subject matter), it stands on its own as an equally compelling and suspenseful sci-fi horror movie.

Sigourney Weaver excells at fleshing out the Ripley character into a true screen icon--she's the female Rambo. All secondary characters (Carrie Henn (Newt), Bill Paxton, Lance Henrickson, even Paul Reiser) are well acted and memorable. The pacing is quick, gritty, and if it doesn't get your heart racing you are indeed jaded!

A great fun ride, one of the grand blockbuster films of the 1980s. See it and make sure you're in a dark room!
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Not a good vintage
19 August 2000
Overblown and cartoonish "Secret..." is less a light comedy with earthy characters, as it's usually billed, than it is a loud and long drama for some left-wing theater company. Despite the renown of some of the actors (primarily Anthony Quinn and Anna Magnani) this movie suffers from over-acted cliche Italian characters and a central story line that offensively glosses over German atrocities in Italy during World War II.

The action centers in the idealized Italian min-city state of Santa Vittoria--run by a drunk Mayor and peopled with stoic peasants--and the necessity to hide all the bottles of the local vino from the encroaching Nazis. There is very little substantive plot otherwise and what little there is is not worth waiting throw the over-dramatized pacing and staging. This is a real dud. Miss it or be warned!
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Goin' Nowhere
28 July 2000
The movie that made Faye Dunaway a star. Bonnie & Clyde is the tale of the legendary murderous bank robbing couple that terrorized small towns in rural America during the Great Depression and who captured popular conciousness with their youth and their audacity. This was only Dunaway's second film but her sensitive portrayal of Bonnie Parker, and her exquisite beauty, launched her to fame and help make the movie a love story gone out of control. Warren Beatty plays opposite as Clyde Barrow and also produced the movie (his first effort). Here he is at his best--a great-looking hunk playing second fiddle to a knockout babe. As contrast, Clyde's brother Buck, a terrific if unexceptional Gene Hackman, is paired with his unlikely moll Blanche, Estelle Parsons in her most famous (and best) role. They match every giddy sqeal from Bonnie & Clyde with shrieks and bickers. Along with C.W. Moss (Michael J. Pollard), they rob and steal and shoot and carouse as the law circles ever closer.

This is a true American classic and was made with that sense of realism and extreme attention to detail that characterized many movies of the mid and late 1960s. The direction is tight, the cinematography by veteran Burnett Guffey is as gold and stark as a Southwestern winter, and the editing by Dede Allen is judicious and powerful. The ending, famous in its day, is reminiscent of great 'crime-doesn't-pay' flicks of the era depicted. A great movie and window into an America whose memory is fast fading.
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Tom Jones (1963)
Stand and Deliver!
8 July 2000
A fun and fresh screen adaption of British writer Henry Fielding's 18th Century novel of the same name, made at the threshold of the swinging (19)Sixties. Like the original story's French counterpart (Les Liaisons Dangereuses=Dangerous Liaisons), at its heart is a mannered metropolitan love triangle.

But before we arrive in the heart of London the stage is set amidst the lush green English countryside in Summer. Here we first meet the protagonist, Tom Jones, played by Albert Finney in his most youthful bloom, and his extended family representing every facet of post-Glorious Revolution England.

An incorrigible ne'er-do-well, Tom's genuine love for his neighbor Squire Alworthy's daughter Sophie (a very lovely Susannah York), takes him to the heart of fashionable London society in a series of comedic wrong-turns and misunderstandings. Here he becomes embroiled in the games of the jaded aristocrat Lady Bellaston played by Joan Greenwood. Greenwood steals the show as the original Mrs. Robinson and, through her machinations, Tom is led to the gallows. But at the last minute...

Throughout the movie is paced with a modern sense of realism, made effective by hand-held camera sequences and the quick editing of Antony Gibbs. Old-fashioned film techniques are used effectively with eye-to-the-camera realism, and convey an up-to-date feel. There are moments of beauty as well as comedy in this very satisfying entertainment. The cast is stellar with many familiar names--Hugh Griffith, Rachel Kempson, David Warner (in his first movie), the settings realistic, and the the musical score a perfect fit. A great time overall!

An interesting note, supposedly this is the last movie seen by John F. Kennedy (in a White House screening) before he was assassinated.
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9/10
Sex, Lies, and Silk Screens
6 July 2000
Another exorcism by Chinese master Chen Kaige (who directed "Farewell My Concubine" three years earlier), of China's disastrous meltdown in the early 20th Century. An old landed family sinks into decadence as the Qing dynasty collapses and the chaotic early years of a Chinese republic swirl around their ghostly ancestral hall and mansion gardens.

Into this scene returns an extended-family member, Zhongliang (played by Hong Kong star Leslie Cheung), ostensibly to position himself for his Shanghai gang's takeover of the estates. But Zhongliang's return home awakens old wounds and rips open all new ones in a family reeling from generations of drug use and the collapse of an ancient civilization.

Cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters, then become embroiled in a sick game of love, lust, and revenge. This is a very sobering film yet hauntingly beautiful at times. All performances, from a radiant Gong Li, down to the smallest roles, are superb. The character development is profound, the story compelling, and the production values are stunning. A first rate movie.
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Here come those tired t*ts again
6 July 2000
While the U.S. reeled in the wake of "the Sixties" and its sexual revolution, Britain showed just how quickly it had matured in this thoroughly modern movie directed by John Schlesinger. Wonderfully understated performances from Peter Finch and Glenda Jackson nicely complement the dour grey London winter in this tale of a love triangle between a young modern artist and his male and female lovers. It would be almost twenty years before American movies would deal with homosexuality and bisexuality in such an adult fashion. Although Schlesinger had directed Midnight Cowboy two years earlier, its sexual openness was confined to hustling, dirty book stores, and rape fantasy.

Once past the (now dated) taboo subject matter, it is an interesting tale of people growing older but still wanting passion and the sadness that remains after the passion inevitably wears off. A wonderful example of British cinema verite.
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STRELNIKOV!
6 July 2000
A magnificent epic tale of Russia, Doctor Zhivago is one of the great movies of all time. It is essential that it be viewed on either a large screen (if possible) or "letterbox" version in video format, because of the breadth and scope of every shot and scene. If at all possible, view while snow (heavy preferably) falls outside. This is a beautiful movie on so many levels: the cast--Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Geraldine Chaplin, so many others, caught at the peak of their bloom and talent, the tale--sweeping drama spanning the collapse of the Russian Empire and the early days of the Soviet Union with numerous intertwined relationships in the manner of the great Russian novelists, the locales--well, it was actually filmed in Spain and Scandanavia but, hey, still gorgeous!

The wonderfully complex plot centers around a young (at the film's outset) Russian doctor and his love for two women, his wife, and a woman that represents all the promise and confusion of the new age. From beginning to end, this is a riveting, thoroughly satisfying movie-going experience. Another must see!
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