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Wu ji (2005)
Complete failed spectacle
Cool calculus - this was my first feeling when I saw this very disappointing Chinese film. Chen Kaige was years ago a good director, but now he wanted to beat the attractions of Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and Zhang Yimous "Hero". No chance at all... One of the wonders happens in this picture en-route all five minutes could be need by this complete failed spectacle itself. This noticed seemingly the owner of the US-rights and cut 25 minutes out of this movie. So it takes more speed, but this act of castration makes this poor martial-arts-entertainment not better. Don't waste your time, there is no suspense, no atmosphere, no dramatic and no convincing action at all. I give ** out of ten stars.
The Alamo (2004)
This film tells the truth
As a child of ten years I have seen John Wayne's "The Alamo" for the first time. I was deeply impressed by the heroic story, and till this day as a man in the fifties, I still love this movie. Okay, I know now much more today about the real story when Texas fought for independence. For sure, the Duke's interpretation of Davy Crockett is sometimes more Cardinal Spellman as one of the king of the wild frontier. And sometimes the pathos of some scenes is intolerable. But the battle scenes are great, Richard Widmark did a fine job as Jim Bowie and the music composed by my favorite composer Dimitri Tiomkin is surpassing. In contrast to Wayne's epic John Lee Hancocks dark and melancholy picture don't want to narrate a fairy-tale for American patriots. This films tells the truth about the "13 days of glory", the historical background and the the motives and characters of the volunteers who fought in Alamo and at San Jacinto. I'm not a historian, but what I ever have read about Santa Anna, Sam Houston and all the circumstances down in Texas, from all films this one is very close to the authentic story. We see not heroes at all - what we see is an interesting, exciting, good casted, sensational photographed and well directed film about the things happened when the Lone Star State was born. I cannot understand the comments saying "The Alamo" is too long or boring or there are too much dialogs and too little action in it. Look for the admirable performance of Dennis Quaid and the outstanding Davy-Crockett-characterization of Billy Bob Thornton. "The Alamo" 1960) is a picture of the childhood, "The Alamo" (2004) one for the adulthood. Great movie, I give 8 out of 10 stars.
The Kentuckian (1955)
Not a masterpiece, but special moments
This picture shows Burt Lancaster was a much better actor than a director. After "The Kentuckian" he never tried directing again - a decision good for him and much better for the audience. The direction is lazy and slow-going, the script disappointing (I wonder that A.B. Guthrie, the writer of brilliant old-west-novels, didn't make a better job). The photography is good, the landscapes are great and few actors are fine, for example Walter Matthau as slimy bad guy. There are two special moments in the picture you surely will not forget: The bull-whip-fight between Matthau and Lancaster is exciting and the showdown, when Burt is running fast across the river while his enemy tries to load his rifle, is very different to other western-shootouts. This scenes will compensate viewers for foregoing boredom. I give five out of ten stars.
Speer und er (2005)
Grand delusion of his life
Who was this man Albert Speer? What did Speer, minister of Armour, know about the cruel and brutal crimes of the Nazis? For which decisions he bearded charge of responsibility? In usual - and usual perfect and brilliant - method of film collage director Heinrich Breloer take a look behind the masks usually the human being Speer every times tried to vanish. In the middle of the plot of these three thrilling, historical very correct episodes (Third Reich, the Nuremberg judgment, the prison in Spandau) Breloer take the (nearly)amicable relationship between Speer and Adolf Hitler, who admires the giant, megalomaniac architectural projects very much. A terrific transformed, careful directed, wonderful acted (especially Sebastian Koch as Speer, Tobias Moretti as Hitler and Dagmar Manzel as Mrs. Speer) historical view, which shows Speer at first not as notary's manipulator but rather as a smart director of the grand delusion of his life. Try to see it, you will not be disappointed. German television of it's best: I give 8 out of 10 stars.
One of the best series in German TV - no: The Best
These days I see this exciting, extraordinary serial for the fourth or fifth time. I nearly can speak the dialogs with the actors. But "Löwengrube" again and again is not boring a second. For me the serial, directed very well by Rainer Wolffhardt and written by a master of film-scripts Willy Purucker, is really the best serial-work I have seen in German television. "Die Wiesingers" is good, "Ein Mann will nach oben" is very good, but this Bavarian family-saga is outstanding in every aspect. You see what's happened to three generations of the family Grandauer, ordinary people, which are strong and weak, brave and cowardly, dumb and clever, egoistic and social, sophisticated and simple... just like me and you. Great dialogs, especially in the era when Hitler grows up and police-officer Karl Grandauer in his office must take care for every word he says. Excellent actors, and Jörg Hube as Karl Grandauer must have an "Oscar" for his impressing job. Try to see it! Very big entertainment! Ten out of ten stars.
The Wild Angels (1966)
The Wild Ones
The begin is awesome: The little child and then in front of the camera the wheel of Peter Fonda's cycle. Uuaah, it was great for me when I saw this picture first in the age of sixteen or seventeen. This moment I wished to be a biker for the next twenty years. Later Corman's way of film-making didn't work so brilliant for this young shy boy in Bayreuth, Germany. Lot of the rest of this movie is cheesy trivial, and so I remembered today this wonderful scene of terror and an actor in his best form. I don't speak from Peter Fonda (he is only solid like Nancy Sinatra too), the guy is Bruce Dern, one of the most underrated actors of US-cinema. My rating is six of out ten stars, because this picture was with Dern and also created the new genre of motorcycle-films. Marlon Brando as the leading actor in "The Wild One" didn't have the influence for cinema, nor for the fifties or for the sixties like this - sorry - in the sum very, very average picture.
Mensch Mutter (2003)
Contract between generations
This picture is made for German television. Similar to the societal reality the contract between generations doesn't work good in the case of corrector Vreni. She isn't enthusiastic to worry about her mother after whose apoplexy. Off course the conflicts accumulate in this familiar auxiliary-community, because dominant mothers can't stop even sickness. The plot reminds me a little bit of "One True Thing" with Meryl Streep. Director and co-writer Florian Gärtner managed an authentic, coherent and melancholic drama which goes under viewers skin especially in the end. Last but not least it is the merit of two brilliant actors that this picture works: Suzanne von Borsody as Vreni and Rosemarie Fendel as the mother. Please notice, that in real life this awesome couple is also daughter and mother (it's their third picture together). I give seven out of ten stars.
Das Superweib (1996)
One of the lousiest movies I have ever seen
What we have here? A very good cast ( Schweiger, Müller and off course Veronica Ferres, which made very good performances in nearly every other picture she was in), a talented director ("Der bewegte Mann", "Das Wunder von Bern") and for a German production a big budget. But the consequence of this conclusion of talent isn't a entertaining, admirable movie about a strong woman on her way to independence. Believe me, if you see this boring, stupid example of a very bad comedy you will agree with me: This is one of the lousiest movies ever. No gags, no charm, no laughing - except the funny moments the director not have intended that they have to be laughable. Very, very bad film-making. Don't waste your time - I give one out of ten stars!
The Ballad of Josie (1967)
It's a man's world
Today I have seen again this kind of a western comedy after several years. Now, after watching much more bad movies like this, I found this star-vehicle not funny. Sooner embarrassing, for example the scene when Miss Day is disturbing a meeting of the cattlemen. She comes in and drinks two brandy to demonstrate that she is hardboiled like George Kennedy. Or Peter Graves, off course. Oh boy, after five minutes she is completely drunken, just by two glasses of liquor. So we see, and Doris too: It's a man's world, and women have to respect men's opinion, shut up, wear skirts and kiss at last a big strong, guy like Peter Graves. Long winded, unfunny, boring, without any surprising scenes or comical dialogues: director Andrew V. McLaglen put on better movies, for example "McLintock!" or the great and outstanding pacifistic civil-war-western "Shenandoah". Don't waste your time!
The Scalphunters (1968)
The acting is brilliant, the picture is fast, thrilling and very comical. But this western, one of the best in the sixties, is not only fun stuff. "The Scalphunters" is a very morally movie, taking a stand against racism and white men's arrogance. Also we have a well constructed and sophisticated story about the fact that circumstances of dominance can change very quickly. So I guess Sydney Pollack and writer William Norton have read the plays of Bertolt Brecht very accurately and have understood the political message of it. See it and you will like it.
I gave ******** out of 10 stars.
Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
No heroes on both sides
This underrated Western (in Germany Hills picture disappears after one week from the cinema) convinces with an excellent script (I realize again, John Milius is much better in writing as directing), a stunning photography and outstanding performances of the lead characters. Studi is great, a wonderful study of pride and his understanding that he never can win his war against white men. Especially this poetic and realistic movie is by comparison with other Indian sagas not a fairy tale from far west. Hill tells the truth and so we see only desperate people and no heroes - on both sides. Great - a must see for fans. I give 8 out of 10 stars.
Yellowstone Kelly (1959)
An underrated western
Sure, Gordon Douglas directed some pictures they are not worth watching - like all of (star)directors including Ford, Hawks, Lang or Hitchcock too. For me is Douglas one of the most underrated US-filmmakers of the fifties and sixties, because he did great jobs in very different genres. "Formicula" for example is a thrilling horror- stuff, "The Detective" a fine police-movie with Frank Sinatra. His best pictures did Douglas in the western-genre, and I think, "Rio Conchos", "Barquero" and "Fort Dobbs" should have a place in the hall of fame of western. His best picture at all for me is "Yellowstone Kelly" from Warner Bros., an also underrated western, which tells the story of mountain man Luther Kelly, who has a romance with a young Sioux maid on dangerous ground. A long time he don't accept the voice of his heart, and so his young sidekick, a greenhorn impressive portrayed by Edward Byrnes, must die. Big Clint Walker, also appears in "Fort Dobbs", is wonderful in the role of Kelly, and in the supporting cast you may find excellent actors like Claude Akins, Ray Danton and Warren Oates at the beginning of their career. The action scenes are well-made, the Technicolor-photographed landscape is so beautiful like Max Steiners score. If you like western, this picture for sure will become one of your all-time-favorites.
Few terrible shocks
I was a boy of 8 or 9 years when I see this movie the only time. They played it in a small cinema in Bayreuth, Germany, in a Saturday afternoon feature for kids - usually the program shows "Fuzzy"-western or "Zorro"-adventures and not horror-stuff. Some scenes of this picture I remember very well more than 40 years later, because I guess this was the first horror-movie I've seen. And, off course, some scenes were shocking and terrific a lot... especially when some of the sea-monsters attack a patrolman without warning. So I think, this movie isn't very good at all, but Arnold Laven did an enjoyable job producing fear and pure thrill on the screen. Simple but effective. I regret that I've never see it again in all these years.
Rio Bravo (1959)
One of my favorites
I'm a fan of Western since I was a child. Meanwhile, in the age of 50, I've changed positive thinking about of some of my favorites when I was young. But - beside John Fords monument "The Searchers" - Howard Hawks "Rio Bravo" is still of the pictures I love and admire more every year. This Western for me is one of the best films ever made. It found every involved artist in a top form: The actors, off course a giant performance of the Duke, impressive acting of Ricky Nelson and Angie Dickinson, Dean Martin at it's best as the drunken deputy and a wonderful Walter Brennan as the grumbling and slandering old sidekick Stumpy; Hawks intelligent and calm directing; the perfect dramatic and humorous script from Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett; Russell Harlans indoor-photography; and at least the powerful music score from Dimitri Tiomkin, who did his best job since "High Noon", the Western which made Hawks so angry that he filmed "Rio Bravo". I love this picture, and I know some people who don't like this genre but love this outstanding great movie too!