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Morgan! (1966)
5/10
Ms Redgrave gave a great performance for director Reisz in "Isadora" 2 years later, not here
3 August 2020
Did Vanessa Redgrave deserve the Best actress award at Cannes for this film? She was just beautiful, eye candy..Her work in "Isadora" with the same director Karel Reisz was an example of good acting; not here. The film was mediocre except for the interesting cuts with Johnny Weismuller in the Hollywood Tarzan films. An interesting comic performance was of the London cop played by Bernard Bresslaw.
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7/10
A notable sci-fi film rather than a Hammer horror film from Joseph Losey.
1 August 2020
A notable sci-fi film more than a horror film. In fact. it should not be classified as a horror film. Needs more attention from cineastes. Actress Viveca Lindfors is the most interesting actor in the film. Oliver Reed is less menacing than usual in one of his very early roles--but still a bad guy! An interesting Losey film with subdued references to class differences.
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The film belongs to Berger, Jackson, Gerry Fisher and Tom Stoppard
1 August 2020
Losey works again on the rich vs poor theme, Helmut Berger plays a drug runner/gigolo/confidence trickster passing off as a poet. Top notch performances from Berger and Jackson. Kate Nelligan plays a minor role. Caine is is his usual self but he has played more demanding roles than the one he plays in this film. Top marks go to cinematographer Gerry Fischer and screenplay-writer/playwright Tom Stoppard (especially for the sequences between. Caine and Berger and those between Caine and Nathalie Delon).
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Requiem (2006)
7/10
Sandra Huller deserved the Silver Bear win for Best Actress
26 July 2020
Top notch performance by Sandra Huller, who thoroughly deserved the Silver Bear for the best actress in this film at the Berlin Film Festival. A very good film on epilepsy and mental illness, not possession by the evil spirits. Ms Huller has been consistently performing well in the films,such as "In the Aisles" and "Toni Erdmann."
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The Report (1977)
7/10
Life in Iran before the Islamic revolution as seen by director Abbas Kiarostami
25 July 2020
Not one of Abbas Kiarostami's best works among his 18 feature films. This was his fourth film made before the Islamic revolution. Therefore, you see women with uncovered heir, men wearing neckties, and men drinking beer and vodka in small pubs in Iran.

The film can be split into two halves. The first deals with corruption in collection of property taxes in the Shah ruled Iran's Ministry of Finance with the junior administrators demanding bribes from the public, drinking tea rather than doing productive work, with suggestions of immoral night life activity of the clerks, along with gambling dens/casinos. Was it director Dariush Mehrjui playing a slot machine at a casino smoking a cigarette without saying a word with the "The Report's" lead actor Kurosh Afsharpanah requesting a light from him? The sequence is not very short, it seemed to have been added with some reason by the director. Was Kiarostami trying to say something?

The second half of the film deals with the breaking family life of the corrupt young clerk in the Ministry of Finance. The wife is played by the beautiful and talented Shohreh Agdashloo. who left Iran to work and live in USA. She was rewarded with an Oscar nomination for her role In "The House of Sand and Fog." In many ways, the actress is the highlight of the film, representing the intelligent, morally upright and domestically abused women in many parts of the Muslim world. She plays a character opposite of what her husband represents, abusive, corrupt and irresponsible individuals who want to get easy money without working hard and adopting high and mighty attitudes towards their superiors who are just. This second half allows Kiarostami's original screenplay to discuss the problems of the elderly folks in Iranian families (during a car conversation) , The rising cost of imported cars from Europe in Iran are discussed. Also stated is the importance of being honest and being respected for money earned honestly.

A film with an open ending. But the title of the Film "The Report" is incongruous with tale of the film.
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Music Box (1989)
7/10
An amazing tormented screenplay and creditable performances make it worthy of the Golden Bear win
24 July 2020
The film won the Golden Bear for the Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival.

The film rests on the original screenplay by Joe Eszterhas, the commendable performances of Jessica Lange (Oscar nominated performance), the enigmatic Armin-Mueller Stahl, and the wonderful Hungarian actress Mari Torocsik (best known for her lead role in Karoly Makk's 1971 film "Love") playing a brief but important role in this film, and of course the typical Costa-Gavras direction that relies on editing and music to a subtle perfection.

The importance of the script of this film will not be obvious to many because the importance came to the fore long after the film won the Golden Bear. Mr Eszterhas' own real life father was a Hungarian who migrated to the US and was found to be a Nazi collaborator just as the film's story presents its lead character. The scriptwriter arguably knew or suspected this when he wrote the script. Many of the original scripts of Eszterhas,("Basic Instinct", "Sliver," "Betrayed," "Jade," etc.) deal with a hidden personality in people that we trust/love. He has been conferred with several Razzie awards but his work needs to be appreciated as important works of a tormented mind that provided entertainment for us without the viewers realizing this.
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7/10
A very decent western, if you discount hilarious studio details
23 July 2020
A very decent western, if you discount hilarious details like patent leather indoor furniture for a film set decades before the technology came into being.. The art direction department was inept and possibly thought no viewer would notice such details.

Small time actor John Davis Chandler makes a notable appearance as a baddie named Sundance. Robert Taylor is more convincing here than in most other films--an exception being a little known crime film directed by William Castle called "The Night Walker' made 3 years before this western.
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Gabriela (1983)
6/10
Sonia Braga is wonderful always
22 July 2020
Second film of Sonia Braga for director.Bruno Baretto, after the hit "Dona Flora and Her Two Husbands" Ms Braga carries the film, not Marcelo Mastroanni. A film that openly discusses corruption in Brazil.
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7/10
The histrionics of Youssef, with regained sight, makes the otherwise lovely film flounder
22 July 2020
Begins well. Ends well. The histrionics of the lead character Youssef in the mid-section make the film flounder. The actress Roya Temourian (playing the loyal wife Roya) is beautiful and a delight to watch on screen in this film, though unrecognizable in her recent photographs.

Youssef's sudden interest in Pari and a beautiful woman in a train is both understandable and Quixotic.

The pact with his Creator for regaining sight is interestingly discussed and captured.
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Staircase (1969)
7/10
Creditable performances in a film based on a hilarious play/screenplay
16 July 2020
Creditable and believable performances by the main actors. Hilarious play and screenplay by Charles Dyer. Burton's two movies as a gay lead "Staircase" and "Villain" show his true acting capabilities. The music is composed by actor (not in acting in the film) Sir Dudley Moore. A rare film with a theme song sung on screen before the credits.
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6/10
Worth your time but nothing exceptional
14 July 2020
Anita Ekberg is eye candy in a strange British thriller about a diamond heist. Jack Palance from USA, Ekberg from Sweden, Donald Pleasence from UK, Anthony Newly from UK playing a Spaniard make up the some of the cast. Sequences of quality is jewel thief Nigel Patrick playing magic tricks for kids in Lisbon and the train only to be outsmarted by them . The character Ekberg plays is intriguing..
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7/10
Notable cinematography
13 July 2020
Notable cinematography from a cinematographer turned director. Lovely atmospherics. A "feminist" film from a male Muslim. Interesting but not outstanding.
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The Silence (1998)
8/10
The best work of Mohsen Makhmalbaf
12 July 2020
Hearing music with a camera. The best Mohsen Makhmalbaf film yet for me. He is a director who can create magic with sound for a film. We glimpsed this in "Gabbeh", made 2 years earlier. Forget the narrative, it is the magical skill of combining music with innocently beautiful visuals here. A young blind tuner of musical instruments turns composer. The film is a tribute to Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony."

The attempt to bring in animal sounds into the music was accomplished well. The mural behind the kids at the bus stop is clearly indicative of the fact that the film was shot in Tajikistan and not in Iran
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7/10
A low budget war film with a good screenplay.
11 July 2020
A low budget war film with a a good screenplay. A steel helmet is penetrated by a bullet (off-screen) but dies not kill the soldier Sgt. Zack (Gene Evans). It enters and gets deflected, just scarring the head. Zack is taken prisoner and bound by shoe laces but survives while al the rest of the prisoners are killed. He is saved by a South Korea boy, a fervent Buddhist, who speaks English. Luck continues with Zack. A black American soldier and a Japanese American soldier join them. A North Korean major (also speaking English) gets captured who mocks the American and the Japanese American from the view point of Communists. The young boy gets killed leading up a comment from the POW Major. In a rage of anger Zack kills the Major. A Lieutenant who wanted to switch helmets with Zack is killed in action. Zack switches his lucky helmet placed on the reversed rifle on the Lieutenant's grave.

The real strength of the film is in the screenplay and Fuller's choice of Gene Evans, a decorated soldier in real life for the main role. The shots of the helmet, the fulcrum of the tale, at the start and end of the film are notable and a testament to Fuller's ability as a director and original screenplaywriter.
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6/10
More than an obvious family film
11 July 2020
More than a family film--this fits well into various subjects chosen by Losey to make a film. Here the tale is an allegory of people being different from the majority and the importance of being accepted as such. Hair color, skin color, political affiliations, a virus carrier during the Covid pandemic,... society has to realize all are humans and equal. Howard Hughes, the RKO studio boss, tried his best to interfere with Losey's project and tweak the screenplay by threatening the child actor Dean Stockwell to change his spoken lines. History has it that young Stock-well was convinced of the lines he was speaking and refused to heed the angry Hughes!
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Mahler (1974)
8/10
Visually captivating, lovely screenplay and good performances make it superior to "Amadeus" a biopic of a composer."
10 July 2020
Way superior to Milos Foreman's "Amadeus" as a biopic of a music composer. Superb visuals and an imaginative screenplay with an aside at Visconti's "Death in Venice." Weak points: the surreal visuals indicating the influence influence of Cosima Wagner on Mahler, causing him to become a Christian, possibly for pecuniary considerations. He was born a Jew, In the film, Mahler states his religion is music/composing music. The strong points: the surreal segments of Mahler's death and the imagined reaction of his wife to the event (depicted by Mahler peering out from his coffin, before cremation. The death of Mahler's daughter is another well depicted sequence. The lead players (Robert Powell, Georgina Hale) and Ronald Pickup as Nick provide creditable performances.
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6/10
Neo-realism yes, the Berlin win debatable
9 July 2020
Documentary feel. Neo-realism, maybe (the Sundance award). The Berlin win is debatable because I have not seen the other contenders at Berlin 2020 so far..
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Lucia's Grace (2018)
7/10
Stunning opening sequence with amazing colors
5 July 2020
Superb colors, camerawork and performance of Ms Rohrbacher. What a stunning opening sequence! Ms Hadas Yaron as the Madonna is striking in her role in this film and as Sarah in the recent Australian film "Mary Magdalene."
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Close-Up (1990)
7/10
Interesting work but not his best
27 June 2020
A film about effect of cinema on viewers more than a film on social disparity in Iran. In many ways, this film anticipates Kiarostami's "Shirin," a more abstract film on the same subject.

Kairostami's most intellectually stimulating work for me remains "Certified Copy."
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L'Age d'Or (1930)
8/10
A bizarre, brilliant cocktail of images and sound that would make sense for those familiar with art
25 June 2020
Surrealism, sadism, sexual fetishes, dislike for the family values, class differences, scoffing at religion (for no reason)--yet the cocktail (sorry for the intended pun) has a touch of brilliance.

Surrealism: An adult cow complete with a cow bell, sleeps on a well-appointed bed, obediently wakes up when called by the mistress and clambers out of the bed chamber. Did Bunuel get the idea of the sheep and bear, for his later film The Exterminating Angel, also living in a well appointed mansion, from this film???

De Sade's written work "100 days of Sodom" is visually referred to in the final sequence.

Sexual fetishes, fascination with toes and fingers, occupy considerable screen time including a a bizarre shot of a hand without fingers, after it has been kissed by a lover!

Bunuel's hatred for religious figures surfaces in the film time and again: a group of praying bishops transform into skeletons wearing bishop's robes on a desolate sea shore. a religious ceremony is disturbed by a couple making love nearby. A bishop is thrown out of a mansion window.

A woman scoffs at her caring rich parents.

The music of beaten drums in this film are possibly the antecedent for the drum beats used in the final scene of Bunuel's Nazarin, with the good priest being led away to his impending death. The slitting of the eye in Un Chien Andalou, is followed up in this film with image of a man with one eye freshly gouged out. Painter Max Ernst is an actor here. Dali's influence is unmistakable-- with children shot like foxes with shotguns, and officials shot dead, not to fall down on the floor but lie up on the ceiling!!!

The rich party on, despite fires in the kitchen, children being shot,and a horse driven carriage with drunken villagers passing through their living rooms. So many messages from Bunuel, Dali, and Ernst, for lovers of art, literature and music to pick up and savor.
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7/10
Remarkable special effects of an earthquake and resulting flood
23 June 2020
A quaint film. shot in Pakistan about events in India. Ranchipur is a fictional kingdom of undivided India, Richard Burton plays a brown skinned South Asian. He does a fairly good job except when he speaks Urdu/Hindi to the native patients and servants.

The main actors played the roles in Hollywood not in Pakistan. The earthquake and street scenes are very realistic for a 1955 film. It certainly deserved the Special Effects Oscar nomination it bagged.. There was an earlier 1930 version of the film scripted by Philip Dunne, where the Lana Turner character dies. That decision to remove the death from the script of the later Negulesco version definitely weakened it as it reiterates the Lana Turner character Edwina as woman who had affairs and dropped them in due course. Had that change not been made the film would have been remarkable. Even the cobra in the film is a real one, not a prop.

As an Indian, I admired the performance of Eugenie Leontovich as the Maharani as she spoke like an Indian maharani would despite her awful wig.

This is one of the rare films of the Fifties showing inter-racial relationships.
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Susana (1951)
5/10
A rare Bunuel film where the pious Christian prevails over others
21 June 2020
This Bunuel film is based on a story written by a certain Manuel Reachi (who incidentally, like the director Bunuel, was born in Spain and died in Mexico). The film indirectly (and in some ways directly) glorifies the pious Christian faithful--here personified by the lady of the house and her chief maid who can spot "the devil" before the others do and is ready to drive it out as Jesus did in the Bible. This is a definite departure for Bunuel, who has never really shown a true Christian point of view in his films (except in Nazarin) but only chose to ridicule often than respect it.

The film is also a major departure for actor Fernando Soler playing the role of the rich landowner who gives a tepid performance compared to the one he gave in the other Bunuel film "The Great Madcap" (1949) made 2 years before this film.
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7/10
A well-made feel-good comedy from Bunuel.
10 June 2020
A gem among comedies. Based on a play by Alfredo Torrado. Again an example of collaboration between Bunuel and scriptwriter/director/novelist Alcoriza and Alcoriza's wife Janet. The female touch is evident in the father-daughter relationship.

The film belongs to the lead actor Fernando Soler. Bunuel's touch in this film is not in the last shot as is often the case--here it is the opening sequence of Ramiro (actor Soler) in the jail sleeping with other poorer members of Mexican society as equals.

A well-made feel-good comedy from Bunuel.
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8/10
Top notch Bunuel work with compatriot Alcoriza
8 June 2020
Definitely one of top three works of Bunuel for me. The collaboration of Bunuel with scriptwriter/novelist/film-director Luis Alcoriza de la Vega resulted in many other Bunuel films--"One great Madcap," "The Brute," "Los Olvidados or the Young and the Damned," "El," "Illusion travels by Streetcar," "Death in the Garden," "Republic of Sin," etc. May be more. But "The Exterminating Angel' is top notch. Alcoriza like Bunuel opted for self exile to work in Mexico. Two great individuals.

Social disparities, economic disparities, lack of empathy in most people irrespective of class. the film is superb.

What nagged me were two unanswered questions--what or who tipped off the servants to leave and what happens to the survivors of the first "lockdown" as they become a part of the next one? Why did the mistress of the house provide for the sheep and the bear in advance of the lockdown? even without those essential answers the film is fantastic, surrealistic or otherwise. To view it during the COVID 19 lock-down was ironic indeed.
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El bruto (1953)
7/10
The tragedy of a simple, poor brute in an unjust world where the rich rule
6 June 2020
A simple melodramatic film by Bunuel's standards. Ironic. Socialistic. The bad guys and bad girls are the rich ones. Very little religion at play here, except that marriage is sacred for the good woman, Meche. The losers and the stupid ones in this film are the poor sections of the society.. The bad men who are born rich have secretly exploited the poor women in society.

The film is remarkable for Katy Jurado,who plays the "bad,' rich, sexually deprived woman Paloma, who is infuriated when scorned by her secret lover. i consider her a great actress, rarely discussed.

The last ironical shot is of a silent black hen looking at the widowed loser played by Ms Jurado.
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