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Red River (1948)
7/10
The cattle sequences and Montgomery Clift are the highlights
17 August 2019
Wo aspects that make the film tick: the handling of the large number of cattle and Montgomery Clift. Otherwise the film is ordinary putting some history in focus: the Chisholm trail, the railroad, Texas as a beef state, and Abilene.
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7/10
Dietrich, Dietrich and Dietrich
16 August 2019
The film belongs to Marlene Dietrich. And the songs she sings in the film. Otherwise the film is a dud. The film often reminds you of the first major Dietrich vehicle--The Blue Angel. But then, Wilder is no match to von Sternberg.
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Boomerang! (1947)
8/10
A film that deserves more attention than it received
15 August 2019
A notable work from director Elia Kazan based on true events and true personalities. It has an un-credited Karl Malden playing a not-so-insignificant role of a policeman. The film deserves more attention from film goers than it received. Nominated for a screenplay Oscar.
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7/10
Stream of consciousness used well but the surrealism yo-yos in quality
10 August 2019
Stream of consciousness a la Bunuel. Political prisoners being shot, statues coming alive to knock-out a soldier trying to kiss a woman saint's statue, sacrilege in a church, necrophilia, nephew-aunt incest, police who file a "child missing" report when the child is in front of them, a terrorist found guilty of random killing walks out of a court free and is treated as a celebrity, sitting around a table on open washing closets, add to the surrealist nonsense. A great line-up of actors and actresses, including a cameo by Marie-France Pisier and Michel Piccoli and brief roles by Monica Vitti, Jean Claude Brialy, Adolfo Celli, Michel Lonsdale, and a nearly-nude Adriana Asti. Brialy's dream sequence is comical with the birds and a postman entering the bedroom. The film is considerably over-rated.
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7/10
The film belongs to the novelist Camille Laurens and the amazing Binoche
26 July 2019
Good performances by Binoche and Garcia. The film belongs to the author of the novel Camille Laurens and the screenplay writers. Interesting watch but not great cinema. Some of the cinematography is commendable: drone shots of the cliff near the sea and the profile shot of Binoche in black in the open, towards the end
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Piranhas (2019)
6/10
Where are the young boys of Naples headed, without a parent or a career to look forward to?
26 July 2019
The film evidently won the screenplay award at Berlin because it is very true to ground reality of Naples. The title is appropriate. Teenagers who cannot see a future, become small time Godfathers, collecting protection money and selling drugs, working in large groups to get a menacing visibility. My problem with the film: where are the cops? You see them just once during a wedding dinner sequence.

The film apparently uses non-actors. The lead role of Nicola played by Francesco di Napoli is notable, as is the role of his screen mother toiling away to make ends meet. Nicola's dad is never shown or discussed. Francesco could go places as an actor under the right director.

Average film--nothing great
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7/10
Very interesting Western in parts with a fascinating performance of Gary Cooper
4 July 2019
Film critic Jean Luc Godard was right when he liked this film. Though the film has its weak spots, the good bits outweigh those. Gary Cooper is outstanding in the main role--a performance as creditable as his role in High Noon. The character of Beasley (Arthur O'Connel) is interesting to note when his role is only a sidebar plot in the main structure. Lee J Cobb is almost unrecognizable (recognizable by his voice) thanks to the beard and other make-up. Julie London is also notable. The cameo of the Mexican lady and then of her Mexican husband returning to a dead town called Lassoo are, for me, high points. But the concept of the ghost town having a bank with lots of money for the gang leader (Cobb) is a very interesting way to look at the way the Wild West was evolving. What does not add up is Cooper's character at the end. Does he eventually hire Billie (London) as the schoolteacher? Does he get married to her, after stating that he has two kids and a wife? An unusual western indeed.
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9/10
A nugget of a film--Superior to Satyajit Ray's Apu and Goopy gyne films
30 June 2019
This is a nugget of a TV film about a 6-year old, his dreams, his family, fate, past and future. Better than the Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy and his two "Goopy gyne" films. Why? Ray had used novels/stories of other individuals; Ruiz uses his own original tales. Use of magic realism, Chilean politics, a fish named Jeremiah (the Biblical prophet who mourned the fall of Jerusalem--read Chile here). Lovely performances. This is a 3 part TV film and I have only seen the first part (55 min). Hope to see the next two.
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6/10
Even a below-average film of Ruiz entertains you at a different level than most other films
18 June 2019
Lynch meets Luc Besson's "La Femme Nikita", in this rare below average film of Ruiz. Something like Konchalovsky work on Tango and Cash. Ruiz blamed it on the producers and the crew. The camerawork does show the brilliance of a typical Ruiz film. Add to it a painting that keeps changing!
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7/10
The premise of the tale lacks credibility but the film is well made
16 June 2019
The premise of the story is outrageous and unbelievable though the film is well made on the technical front. Singer/actress Constance Towers gives an average performace, compared to her outstanding one in Fuller's Naked Kiss. The Eurypidean quote "Whom the God wish to destroy, he makes them mad" is misplaced to begin and end the film. In the days of Euripides there was no single God--there were several gods. Then what do gods have to do with a man dreaming of a Pulizer prize?
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6/10
Fuller's ability in getting impressive performances from actresses continues
15 June 2019
The film is a remake of the Hollywood film Street with No Name with screenwriter Harry Kleiner. House of Bamboo transposes the tale into post-WWII Japan, using Harry Kleiner again as the scriptwriter with additional dialogue by director Fuller. Fuller is evidently better when the script is his own original work ("China Gate" and "The Naked Kiss').

Once again Fuller proves he is very good at casting actresses and getting memorable performances from them--in the case of House of Bamboo it is the Japanese/Chinese/US actress Shirley Yamaguchi.
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8/10
Very impressive screenplay by Fuller and performance by Constance Towers
15 June 2019
A very impressive screenplay by Fuller, as good as his work on his film China Gate. Memorable lines "You will be everyone's wife-in law, and not their wife." and " You sure have a town that puts up their statues overnight here, don't you?' The film belongs to Fuller and his lead actress/singer Constance Towers. A do-good, feel good film. Fuller does work magic with children, as he accomplished in China Gate. A film that needs wider publicity these days.
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Two Women (1960)
7/10
The film belongs to Sophia Loren. writer Alberto Moravia and screenplaywriter Zavattini
13 June 2019
Sophia Loren deserved her Cannes Best Actress and Oscar awards for her performance. Belmondo also was interesting. But De Sica has directed better films (Bicycle Thieves, The Voyage, etc.) Renato Salvatori has a brief role towards the end of the film--but he always is interesting to watch. If the film belongs to Loren, so does it to the writer Alberto Moravia and screenplay writer Cesare Zavattini.
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China Gate (1957)
8/10
A family film that will be easily mistaken for a war film
13 June 2019
Angie Dickinson is reputed to have said "I was often a lead actress, but never the lead." Even an idiot will see her to be the lead actor and character in China Gate. She has a better role than Gene Barry by a mile.

I can't claim to have seen a lot of Samuel Fuller directed films--but this is the best I have seen of his to date. The shots with the child at the beginning and the end are very well made. The film may not easily be recognized as a family film but it is essentially one. Is it the only role where Dickinson is on screen as a brunette? Probably so.

The power of Fuller's writing is evident is these lines "Everbody doesn't carry their lives in the face" and "You are tough enough to handle explosives but not handle life."

This is the best rounded performance of two actors--Lee Van Cleef and singer Nat "King" Cole, who actually sings the title song.
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7/10
Good casting by Samuel Fuller
29 May 2019
Two endearing actresses who did not make it big: Victoria Shaw and Anna Lee. Good that Samuel Fuller saw them to be worthy for his film! The closing line from Fuller's pen is interesting: I like the pearls created by humans rather than those by an oyster.
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1/10
Surprised that this made Cannes competition grade
25 May 2019
Awful. All women have names of flowers. The lead actor is in brown clothes at the end. He contemplates buying a brown bunny at a pet store but decides not to. Surprised that Cannes chose this for the main competition section!
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Querelle (1982)
8/10
Fassbinder's most complex work is his swansong
17 May 2019
Fassbinder and Jean Genet. Fassbinder's best work, where amazing attention was given to art direction and the screenplay. Dexter's, Fassbinder's and Burkhard Driest's personal lives contributed much to the outcome of the film. As Marcel Carne stated as the Jury Chair of Venice film festival, he would have given it an award if not the top award but the other members opposed him. Carne was a homosexual.

It is a complex film and the strength of Genet's written passages placed at key points add to the strength of this interesting work.

Not a film for a family viewing but for well-read film viewers, especially those familiar with Genet's writings. I hated the film on my first viewing but a subsequent viewing after 3 decades made me appreciate its finer points. Fassbinder was the director who could do justice to the material, not directors Schlesinger, Pekinpah or Schroeter who were offered the script earlier.
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High Noon (1952)
8/10
An runusual western mirroring the drama involving the screenplay-writer in real life
14 May 2019
What an unusual western! A hero, who is disgusted with the townsfolk he protects outside his call of duty, risking his life.

It is unusual because the theme song runs through the film. it is unusual because the film's run time tries to stay true to the action on screen (like "Locke", in recent years). It is unusual because a Mexican actress Katy Jurado gets higher billing than Grace Kelly. It is unusual that the notable Lee Van Cleef, whose visage opens the film even before the credits, never speaks a word in the film and it is his debut appearance in cinema.

It is also a film with interesting cinematography (Floyd Crosby) and a superb screenplay by Carl Foreman, who was blacklisted and hounded out of Hollywood for a while. Subsequently, Foreman and his friend producer Stanley Kramer fell apart, when Kramer did not support him during Senator McCarthy's witchhunt to identify "Communists" in Hollywood. Both were collaborators on this film. The film reflects the off-screen drama, in some ways, which led to Foreman fleeing USA to work in UK. Decades later, Foreman was exonerated of all the charges against him.

In the final perspective. the film belongs to Foreman, Zinneman, Cooper, Floyd Crosby and Katy Jurado, in that order.
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8/10
A film that Cannes festival chose but pulled out after getting cold feet!
13 May 2019
A truncated adaption of an enjoyable novel by Neville Shute. The screenplay still worked! The film was chosen by the Cannes film festival in the competition section and then dropped becuse the festival authorities became afraid of offending the Japanese! Yet it won the Best Actress award at the BAFTAs. Very striking performances from both the lead stars
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Ship of Fools (1965)
8/10
A thought-provoking novel adapted on screen with a talented cast
9 May 2019
A great novel that makes you think. Good performances from a talented array of thespians. A rare US film of substance. A notable winner of the b/w cinematography Oscar. Arguably one of the better films of Stanley Kramer.
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7/10
Uncertainty in the Wild West
6 May 2019
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle meets a movie screenplay! Well deserved award for its screenplay at Venice! Ought to have won the Oscar for the best adapted screenplay (won by BlacKkKlansman). Lots of dark humor throughout.
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Billy Liar (1963)
7/10
A major work of Schlesinger's career
5 May 2019
One of the very good Schlesinger films, if not his best. Courtenay is very good. Julie Christie looks her best here-of course she was young and very, very attractive.

Schlesinger's editor Roger Cherrill shows his class here. Schlesinger used him earlier in his "A Kind of Loving"--and evidently loved his contribution. He was also used by Cornel Wilde in "The Naked Prey" and as a sound editor by Kubrick in "Full Metal Jacket" and Bertolucci in "The Sheltering Sky."

Even the cinematography is notable in "Billy Liar" at times. The cinematographer Denys Coop was used by Schlesinger in "A Kind of Loving" earlier and Lindsay Anderson"s "This Sporting Life."

An important film in many respects but not a masterpiece.
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Secret Agent (1936)
7/10
Somerset Maugham or Hitchcock?
1 May 2019
Those who have read Somerset Maugham's works will not find the tale unusual or fascinating. The Ashenden tales were interesting semi-autobiographical incidents published as novels and shortstories. Hitchcock's film script is built on those Maugham tales.

What then is Hitchcock's contribution? First, the casting of the young John Gielgud and the almost unrecognizable Lili Palmer alongside the scene-stealer Peter Lorre deserve credit. The editing of the chocolate factory sequence is truly remarkable, with touches of Eisenstein's editing skills. The humour of the one-armed spy dropping an empty coffin while trying to lift it was stretching Hitchcockian humour with little purpose.
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7/10
Chaucer adapted with a twinkle in the eye
22 February 2019
The film won the Golden Bear at Berlin film festival. Chaucer adapted by Pasolini with a twinkle in his eye. Chaucer is played by the director. The best performances: Hugh Griffith and Alan Webb. Unlike the earlier, Pasolini work in the trilogy "The Decameron" which used lesser known actors, "The Canterbury Tales" used more well known names as actors. In both films Pasolini acts in significant roles.
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Annihilation (2018)
7/10
Suicide or self-destruction?
6 February 2019
Is it suicide or self-destruction? The novel and the screenplay are not as convincing as the original screenplay of the director Alex Garland in his earlier work "Ex Machina." The strength of the film is limited to its visuals.

"Ex Machina" was superior to this film in many respects, including the choice of the cast. A small feather in the cap was the choice of the song 'Helplessly Hoping' by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
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