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New York Stories (1989)
Scorsese's episode is hypnotic cinema.
New York Stories has three episodes, three little movies in it. One of them belongs to the masterpieces of the 80's. The film is called "Life Lessons", and it's directed by Martin Scorsese. I suggest you watch New York Stories because of Scorsese's fine achievement. The episode of Woody Allen represents that regular Woody we all know, and the piece of Francis Coppola is just plain boring and stupid. Scorseses picture is about a famous painter -played brilliantly by Nick Nolte-, and his source of inspiration -a beautiful woman. Life Lessons is an electric, sharp and funny film, you might call it art.
Dementia 13 (1963)
A sympathetic camp piece by young Coppola.
In the early 60's, Francis Coppola worked with the legendary exploitation producer Roger Corman. Dementia 13 is the first Coppola picture that was notified back then. It's a black & white horror movie shot Ireland. No synopsis is needed to tell about the scenario: an axe flashing in the night, a huge house with dark past, and a terrifying swamp where you can hear the dead whispering. A sympathetic try to make a magnificent horror movie with a couple of dollars. Dementia 13 imitates Hitchcock's Psycho, and is a funny camp film made by a twenty-year-old film freak. If you are a movie fan your self, you will probably enjoy this. Just don't take it too seriously.
A stiff classic.
It's interesting to analyze what the legendary reputation of Metropolis is based on. Just look at it. What we have here, is a stiff, unintentionally comic and naive picture. The ridiculous gestures of the actors and the stupid texts written by Thea von Harbou would make Metropolis -released in 1927- the camp classic of the century if it weren't visually so damn magnificent. Director Fritz Lang definitely knew the secret of creating unforgettable images. The events of the film take place in the future, somewhere around the year we are living now. Lang tells a story of huge town called Metropolis. The designers of the town live in beautiful skyscrapers, have money and amusements. The "hands" of the town live in the heat underground, each man working ten hours a day. Metropolis is as must see, "because its has inspired directors like Ridley Scott and James Cameron, and films like Blade Runner, The Terminator..." Just don't expect this silent Lang picture to be something overwhelming -like Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (1925).
L.A. Without a Map (1998)
Just like looking at a huge white wall.
As a director, Mika Kaurismäki is definitely not as talented as his brother Aki, the drawer of great films like La vie de bohéme and Drfiting Clouds. L.A. Without a Map has nothing in it, and proves with "Condition Red" and "Last Border" that Mika Kaurismäki has lost his touch of directing. With "L.A." M. Kaurismäki tries to make a some sort of a satire of Hollywood, and connects it to a love story of a british undertaker and a lovely waitress from Hollywood. David Tennant and Vinessa Shaw play the main characters with out any kind of charisma. When Tennant's undertaker wants to be a writer and Shaw's waitress wants to be an actress in any cost, their relationship in Hollywood seems to be an impossible thing to work out.
Vincent Gallo and Julie Delpy make a charming couple in the film, but their chracters are very poorly sketched. Johnny Depp and Jerzy Skolimowski make funny cameos.
L.A. Without a Map won't make you laugh when it's supposed to, trust me. But it's not as bad you might expect, it's not a pathetic picture. Kaurismäki has only made a film that will easily erase from memory. And because of that, you can safely watch it. But that's not much.
History Is Made at Night (1999)
What a shame.
History is made at night has to be one of the worst films the Finnish film makers have touched in years. What a shame that director Ilkka Järvilaturi -who also made the terrible "Darkness in Tallinn"- has failed with a cast and crew like this: Irene Jacob and Kati Outinen, Kari Väänänen and Bill Pullman, Vesa-Matti Loiri and Bruno Kirby for example. Good performers' talents are wasted in a junk like this! Do your self a favor and don't watch this awful finnish try to make a romantic thriller that moves in time after cold war. This is not even unintentionally funny.
Porn star Henry Saari has role in this. He plays a man in a porn video. Even this video is nicer to watch than the rest of this stupid, ridiculous...
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
The master work of a great humanist director.
When it comes to drama, The Sweet Hereafter represents the finest cinema of the decade. The film lifts the director Atom Egoyan to the highest place of Canadian directors -right next to David Cronenberg. With extraordinary intelligence, Egoyan -the maker of "Exotica"- creates labyrinths of relationships. Brilliantly using flashbacks the director reveals the emotions of the characters to the viewers -a powerful way to make the audience feel anxiety.
The Sweet Hereafter is based on a novel by Russell Banks. This doesn't mean that Egoyan hasn't created a film that looks like his own creation. Very beautifully, even with a sense of poetry, the camera moves in a canadian small-town, a scenery full of snow. The nicely unusual music of Mychael Danna creates the mood when a lawyer played by Ian Holm arrives to the town. A School bus lies under ice, and the lawyer is invited to sue someone for the loss of several children.
A very important slice of the scenario belongs to a school girl (Sarah Polley), who realizes that the grief of loss can't be eased by judging the cause of it. Also the other people of the town play a remarkable role in the script.
Egoyan speaks clearly, but with a sound of personality, about the need of love, the pain of loneliness and the crossing of emotional obstacles. Fortunately someone knows how to direct interesting movies with elements of drama in them. The Sweet Hereafter possesses a brilliant structure where the visual telling breaths in the spirit of symbolism. I'm a very demanding viewer, a true cynic who always tries to find the worst sides of the film, but in this case I can't say anything negative.