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Great Performances: The Collection (1976)
Season Unknown, Episode Unknown
7/10
Engaging play by Pinter with engaging performances and one lovely unforgettable camera shot
21 September 2018
Interesting play by Harold Pinter. Engaging performances by all four. And Helen Mirren looks so attractive here and so young. Directed by Michael Apted with a delightful imaginative shot of Malcolm McDowell cowering on the floor taken from behind Alan Bates' legs towering over McDowell. Best shot in the film.
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Maborosi (1995)
8/10
Superb cinematography, editing, direction and a lovely performance by the lead actress
8 September 2018
Superb cinematography by Masao Nakabori, a lovely script, creditable editing by the director, an amazing debut by the director Kore-eda and finally an unforgettable performance by the lead actress, the beautiful Makiko Esumi. For me, there were two remarkable sequences--the spare bulb rolling by itself on the table and the funeral procession taken as a long shot (reminding you of "The Seventh Seal" and "8 1/2", all the more striking because of the bare soundtrack). For me, this work of the director is his second best among the seven I have seen so far--the best work being "The Third Murder " One of the key aspects of the film was the effective static long shots of the dwelling entrances in key sequences.
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After Life (1998)
7/10
Lovely, innovative script with well-thought out art direction and set
7 September 2018
The script reminded me of Amenabar's "The Others." Amazing subject. Amazing art direction with windows partly frosted. The end hymn (with the end credits) on the soundtrack reveals Kore-eda's interest in Christianity as is evident in The Third Murder. What stuns me is Kore-eda's variety of original subjects chosen by him to film as writer, editor, and director. It is also a tribute to filmmaking/video making processes.
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I Wish (2011)
7/10
Amazingly disarming children's film for adults as well
22 August 2018
Amazingly disarming children's film for adults as well. The variety of subjects, the choice of his actors, his editing and his original scripts, make Kore-eda one of the most fascinating directors alive and making films in quick succession. Both he and Naomi Kawase are two Japanese directors consistently focusing on family relationships irrespective of the genre and type of film.

One of the best use of child actors in cinema since Carol Reed's "Oliver!"
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Moe no suzaku (1997)
8/10
The most delicate work of Kawase
7 August 2018
Sublime. The most delicate film of Kawase that I have seen. Death/suicide only indirectly shown. No sex, only platonic love. Criticism of money wasted on projects never completed. The English title: The God Suzaku. Wonderful body movements of actors and camera movements. Poetic. Intelligent use of music and sound. Kawase's original script. Very good casting.
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7/10
A film that belongs to novelist/philosopher Mercier and the topnotch ensemble cast
29 July 2018
I like the films of Bille August but this is not his best work. Where the film works is the content of the novel written by Pascal Mercier (a.k.a. Peter Bieri). August needs to be credited with the casting of Charlotte Rampling, Lena Olin, Tom Courtenay, Bruno Ganz, Christopher Lee, Martina Gedeck, Jeremy Irons, and Melanie Laurent (in that order) with a critical flaw--Olin and Laurent don't look the same, especially when Laurent has so many visible moles and Olin doesn't and they are playing the same person, with only age as a difference. Their capabilities as actresses are not in question but they just do not look alike. The chess game at the beginning was again interesting but to what purpose? Even the philosophy of the novel holds your interest at the start but that unfortunately gets diluted as the film progresses. The film will be remembered for the creditable cast ensemble, each attempting to give their best in this film. And many do, indeed!
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7/10
More to the film than meets the eye
29 July 2018
"She left the United States because she don't like the chickens" "It's funny, I had somebody in my family who had exactly the same problem." Quotes from the film. A film about destiny and luck. Two fishes--from 5 loaves and 2 fishes?

Bored destiny of an exile, whose wounds are healed, and now wants to go to Haifa in Israel! Where many exiles have returned.
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7/10
Religion and madness explored in three Acts with the camera elevated to a silent commentator
29 July 2018
A film in three Acts. Well constructed. The real commentary on the story is given by the camera. In each Act, a major character is introduced on screen after other characters are shown speaking to that person. The effect is unusual but good. The end has the camera retreating from the house and its characters. Open ended. Religion and madness in the family come into focus. A cousin blindly falls in love with another cousin. Could have been alternately titled "The Strange Case of Benilde" to be parallel or twinning with de Oliveira's later work "The Strange Case of Angelica"
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7/10
Flawed script with some short evocative segments
29 July 2018
Good actors but the script based on Petronius' writings is ambitious but flawed. Petronius' own writings is partially lost. Fellini tries to connect the surviving tales and loses credibility while trying to connect the surviving fragments. The highlights: the short but evocative performance of Lucia Bose as a slave owner who frees her slaves and commits suicide with her husband who are facing bad days ahead, The others are Capucine and Magali Noel (a Fellini regular) who have a commanding screen presence in their brief roles.
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7/10
When Bunuel respected Christianity..
19 July 2018
A rare Bunuel made in English. It is a film where Bunuel respects Christianity, probably due to deference to Daniel Defoe. Two important facets: the female cat breeds without a male in sight. and Crusoe hears his dead dog, Rex, bark as he departs from the island. Orson Welles was originally cast as Crusoe but Bunuel found him to be too fat. Herlihy was chosen as he had played with Welles in Welles' "Macbeth."
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6/10
Will appeal to those who like cold blooded killers
9 May 2018
Definitely not deserving of the two Cannes awards for acting and screenplay. That ought to have gone to any of these three: "Of body and soul," "The square" or "Loveless." This film must have appealed to jurors Park Chan Wook and Will Smith. Their kind of film.
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8/10
Truffaut was spot on, recognizing its strengths--a film ahead of its time
28 April 2018
Francois Truffaut was dead right. This is a superb film--structurewise and contentwise. Way ahead of its time. And Ava Gardner is stunning. My father's favourite film. Cinderella+che sera, sera is a lovely combination for Director Manckiewicz to use for developing an original screenplay. Jack Cardiff's cinematography is intelligent. One goof: one could not understand how the director and cinematogrpher allowed the funeral scene with Bogart standing bareheaded in the rain without his hair getting wet. The umbrellas were dripping.

Deserved to win the Oscar for best screenplay for which it was nominated.
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The Door (I) (2012)
7/10
A great novel with notable performances and rare cameos
27 April 2018
Not having read the novel, I am not sure whether the film is great or if the film was infused greatness by the novel. The subject is remarkable. The performances of the two leading ladies are remarkable too, with an unforgettable turn by Ms Mirren. A highlight are cameos by Czech director Jiri Menzel as a lung surgeon with director Istvan Szabo standing behind him at the door as his colleague. Evidently Szabo and Menzel were mutual admirers. Szabo's "Budapest Tales" and "Mephisto" are superior to this noteworthy work.
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7/10
Was the music of this film adapted by John Green in Oliver! only to win an Oscar?
26 April 2018
Vic Mizzy's musical notes in this 1964 film sounds exactly the same as the notes of the song "Boy for sale" in the 1968 film "Oliver!" John Green adapted the music and walked away with the Oscar. Nobody seems to have noticed because "The Night Walker" is rarely discussed.

Viewing the film a second time after 50 years, this film is still a good thriller and less of a horror film as most people classify it. Very good performances to boot.

Few realize that the author of the story wrote "Psycho" directed by Hitchcock, and that the director of the film produced "Rosemary's Baby."
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8/10
A very interesting film adaptation of an important play by Adamov
19 April 2018
A very interesting adaptation of Arthur Adamov's play. How did Ruiz change it? Belgian actor Hadelin Trinon plays the real Professor in the initial and end scenes of the film. In between, you have other actors and actresses playing the role of Taranne. The connecting link is Taranne's pair of spectacles, interspersed by shots of a swimming pool. The nudity in Adamov's play is dispensed with--a sober decision from Ruiz. For unitiated, Adamov along with Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco originated the Theater of the Absurd. This is one of Ruiz' important films because of his ability to use cinema to give new perspectives to this important Adamov play. And Hadelin Trinon is a treat to watch. Ruiz was well read and chose to film very interesting works of writers including Proust, R L Stevenson, and the little known 19th centiury novelist Camilo Castelo Branco. Ruiz contribution to cinema is as interesting Tarkovsky's. Few realize and acknowledge this.
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Barabbas (1961)
8/10
An accidental miracle of a film from Hollywood, playing with darkness and light
12 March 2018
Fascinating because it is based on a Nobel Prize winning novel and the film's most popular slice is the gladiator segment, which I am told was never a part of the novel! That's Hollywood. It is also the sequence that presents the arch villain of Hollywood, Jack Palance at his evil best.

I have not read the novel and I have not seen the earlier Swedish film by director Alf Sjoberg--both are great works, I believe.

What is great about Fleischer's "Barabbas"? The casting is accidentally superb--Yul Brynner was to play the Quinn part initially. And this is arguably Quinn's best work. So is the case of Sylvano Mangano, again the most memorable work of hers. Jack Palance, Arthur Kennedy and Ernest Borgnine are fascinating. Ms Mangano's brother plays the cameo of Jesus.

For the religious, the eclipse during the crucifiction of Christ was real, not a studio trick. At the same time one needs to know that director Fleischer had planned it in advance. It was not a "miracle" at all.

Starting from the amazing low-angle opening shot of the film, the film has very creditable photography. The cinematographer is Aldo Tonti who gave us the lovely images in Fellini's classic "Night of Cabiria" (1957).

For me, "Barabbas" is the best Biblical and the best sword-and-sandals work Hollywood and Cinecitta ever made. A miracle by itself, not just the mere work of a great novelist! A great subject to meditate on--darkness versus light, thanks to the author of the Nobel-Prize winning novel.
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Samsara (I) (2011)
6/10
Not a patch on Koyaanisqatsi, where Fricke learnt the craft
7 March 2018
Samsara would dazzle you--if you have not seen Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi made some 35 years ago--where Fricke was the cinematographer and Reggio, a monk-turned-filmmaker, was the director. Reggio was an intellectual--Fricke is a mere craftsman. Fricke's images are eye candy without anything new to offer beyond Koyaanisqatsi.

Fricke's shots of Mecca were outstanding in Samsara. He blatantly copies shots of Arizona that Koyaanisqatsi had done earlier. Skyscraper shots, indigenous folks were part of the Reggio equation that Fricke re-uses without the philosophy behind Reggio's choices.

Further, Fricke's choice of music lacks the class of the Reggio-Philip Glass collaboration. Give me Koyaanisqatsi any day--it is one of my top 100 films ever made, with the same Fricke behind the camera but philosophic Reggio deciding what to do at each stage of filmmaking..
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The Wrong Man (1956)
7/10
Religion and Hitchcock
4 March 2018
Would be interesting to know how Hitchcock viewed religion. Here's a lovely film that shows the the power of prayers--with an obvious Catholic element (rosary, Jesus painting on the wall, etc.) It is also a film that reflects the director's childhood fear of prisons.
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Lifeboat (1944)
7/10
Surprising Steinbeck reaction to negative evaluation by some critics
2 March 2018
Engaging. Interesting Steinbeck story. Even more interesting to note that Steinbeck dissociated himself from the film when critics were negative about a German portrayed as a somewhat positive individual. This Hitchcock film is important because of its tale as much as its filming.
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Queen Margot (1994)
8/10
Alexandre Dumas might not be historically accurate, but the film is one of the best in the genre
10 February 2018
The 2-hour plus version is a pure delight. The end-credit song "Elo Hi" sung by the late Israeli singer Ofra Haza is an odd choice for a French language film--but the effect nevertheless is stunning. The film is based on the novel of Alexandre Dumas. All the actors are remarkable, particularly Ms Lisi, Ms Adjani and Mr Auteuil. Ranks among the best historical films.
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7/10
An interesting film, thanks to the actors and the novelist
9 February 2018
This is a film based on an interesting novel. Burton has lovely lines to deliver and he delivers them with gusto. But this film belongs to Lino Ventura (though his voice is dubbed) and the enigmatic, lovely Lee Remick. The supporting British cast is very good as well.
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7/10
Four of the eight directors were very good
4 February 2018
The four of the eight directors made fascinating contributions to this portmanteau film. Milos Foman's segment concentrating on the Decathlon event was memorable for its use of Bavarian folk music to blend with the visuals. Mai Zetterling's segment on the Strongest dealt with weightlifting and food for the athletes, which focussed on the athletes' obsession with one sport. Zetterling has always been interested with people's obsessions. Penn's segment on the Highest deals with pole vault and the emotions of losing. Lelouch's segment officially dealt with the losers but I felt Penn captured those emotions better. The fourth impressive segment was Schlesinger's on the Marathon. Three years later he would make "The Marathon Man." Technically, the Ichikawa segment on the 100 meters race was rewarding but not much more.
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The Gathering Storm (1974 TV Movie)
7/10
Burton and little else
3 February 2018
Burton carries it off! Good acting alone does not make a good film. Churchill's active interest in painting is little known and thankfully this film underscores it.
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5/10
Poor outcome of good intentions by Kubrick
3 February 2018
Interesting subject. More interesting to know that Kubrick and Mazursky were buddies when both were unknown. The opening and ending shots are the same conforming to Aristotelian aesthetics.
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8/10
The best work of Rosi
1 February 2018
The best work of Francesco Rosi. One of the most thought provoking political thrillers that is even better than Costa-Gavras' "Z." There is a killing sequence (of the von Sydow character) where Rosi has evidently been influenced by Visconti's "Conversation piece" (74) opening credit sequence (death of the Lancaster character).
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