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Jamaica Inn (2014)
wrong headed approach
It is so very easy to see what has gone wrong with this production. The magnificence of Daphne Du Maurier's work has been taken too lightly, and in some obscure way, it seems to have been deemed old fashioned, and in need of retelling.
The direction is without equal in all the realms below average, and scarcely superior to some of the worst ever set loose on the television or film industry. No attempt has been made to create characters even close to those penned by Daphne Du Maurier, and all seem to have been painted variously good, strong, weak, or evil, with a yard broom, and played to the hilt on that basis.
Daphne Du Maurier was able to write strong female characters without making them creatures that never existed and probably never will, she understood the evil that people do and the reasons behind it, something which seems to have escaped the sensibilities and sensitivities of the people involved in producing, directing, and even acting, in this travesty of Jamaica Inn.
Mister Johnson (1990)
A cinematic misunderstanding of a good novel
Mr Beresford has taken what I consider to be his usual film making approach to this poorly adapted screenplay from an excellent and workable novel. Mr Johnson is NOT a comedy, neither does it rely upon comedic aspects in its story line. Mr Johnson is a drama, sadly robbed of its drivers.
The great problem with this film is the miscasting of two leading men, and the inability of the director to accurately shape the story, and to direct the individual performances. the character of Mr Johnson, is lacking in complexity and dimension, and Mr Brosnan's work is rather like a mimicry of every British colonial character ever sent up by any music hall comic or TV sketch comedy ever produced.
The basic story is heartrendingly powerful, and the false world of Mr Johnson, fueled by his childlike desire to fulfill its requirements, should be the powerhouse of the whole undercurrent of the madhouse of British Imperialism, and the blind faith of those who attempted to live up to the impossible standards of its, so called, civilization.
The novel hits the gong, but this screenplay, the miscasting, the absence of storytelling and of basic theatrical direction, robs Mr Johnson of its magic.
There are usually very good reasons why films like this one do poorly at the box office.
usual reason is the fact that they are not funny, being funny, is a very important prerequisite for a comedy films. The story by Mr Sharp, is funny, very funny, and the characters, as conceived by him, are crafted in the great comedy tradition. So why was the film very unfunny and not successful as a comedy film? Mr Smith and Mr Rhys Jones are tried and proved comedians, who have been very funny in the past, and since. The problem is that like the great Morecambe and Wise before them, they were not comedic actors, they failed to understand that the character in a comedy story has his own reasons for doing what he does, his own motivation and his own personal set of human feelings and desires. the comedic actor, unlike the comedian, does not have to make the character funny, he/she must play them out with love and respect for their foibles, which lead them constantly into scenes of unintentionally comic behaviour.
With Wilt, in the case of Mr Rhys Jones's character, the audience is often left asking itself why, and Mr Smith played the policeman without ever giving credence to how on earth he might have got to such a rank in the first place.
18 Shades of Dust (1999)
gets lost in its own jungle
This is one of a number of films that genuinely upset me. The problem is almost foretold in the title: "18 Shades of Dust." Here is a film of much worth, the acting is very fine from Danny Aiello, and is of a high standard from others. The directing ranges from brilliant to very ordinary, but is mostly good.
The script is wonderful, with moments of true brilliance and generally good to exceptional dialogue. Only the story lets it down, after growing strongly and developing entertainingly, it reaches an early zenith, but with so many peaks and byways, it eventually stalls, and stumbles into a labyrinth of theatrical clichés.
Last Cab to Darwin (2015)
This is the first Australian film in a long time to be built upon a first rate script, beautiful dialogue, absolutely exemplary direction, wonderful cinematography, first class set dressing, and good costuming and casting.
Others have reviewed this film, some have praised it, some have called it good, some, alas have canned it as a failure. Too many have analysed the story as sad, even depressing, others have claimed that it is a drama with comedic moments etc.
Last Cab to Darwin is a drama, no drama can function well, without the essential comic relief, and this is no exception, but let me say that here is a film that takes no account of contrived entertainment, neither does it preach, or dictate moral terms; Last Cab to Darwin simply tells a story, and stories within that story, via fine direction, one of the best scripts, and some of the finest dialogue ever recorded in this country.
The direction is sensitive and well paced, and there is evidence of the actors actually having been directed and shepherded by a director with a real knowledge of the craft and process of acting.
Michael Caton is fine as Rex, and he deserves every accolade that has been thrown his way, but having watched his work for more than 35 years, I know that he can at times show a tendency to overplay, especially when the character is driven by deeply felt or complex intent; yet here he is restrained, almost underplaying at times, but always compelling and moving.
The support cast is largely divine, some critics have accused Mark Coles Smith of overplaying, this is absolute nonsense from critics who know nothing of good acting or screen work, Mr Coles Smith is wonderful, a kind of indigenous James Dean, whose character of Tilly is at various times frightening, amusing, endearing, wise, foolish, enigmatic, and utterly charming.
Ningali Lawford is quite breathtaking, as she drives her character Polly, moving so smoothly from harsh and angry via practical, warm, funny and heartbreaking, to tender, vulnerable and deeply loving.
Emma Hamilton keeps a firm controlling hand on her wonderful characterisation of Julie, the UK backpacker and nurse, who takes charge of Rex in his final phase. With only a couple of exceptions, the lesser supporting roles are fine, and for once, directorial attention has been given to even the smallest of roles (I mention this because it is all too often that Australian directors lavish time and screen time only on the leads, and leave the rest of the cast to their own devices) Last Cab to Darwin is a fine film, better than that, it is a masterpiece of theatrical screen production.
Sparkling cuvée, attempting to imitate champagne
many superlatives have been thrown at this film, many sycophantic accolades. In my opinion, it is an attempt to cut through, a bold, and even adventurous exercise in film story telling. the sad reality is that it is a failure in honest theatrical terms.
Like a sparkling cuvée, it is imbued with effervescent enthusiasm, but its pedigree lacks the finesse of the champagne it attempts to imitate, and, not surprisingly, it conveys very little taste.
The direction is stilted and obvious, even clunky at times; the acting, with one, and occasionally two notable exceptions, rates from bold to over the top, and the dialogue suffers from poor scripting and unrefined delivery. Like many (alas too many) Australian films, it is a work based upon a script devoid of a good story, which is competently shot (although in this case containing some technical errors of judgement) but rather over enthusiastically played out. PQD is like the outpourings of an amateur theatre troupe, hell bent upon having fun, strutting their individual stuff, and playing for laughs.
Emmeline Pankhurst was a courageous and principled woman, who suffered unimaginable indignity and scorn, at the hands of many; great and small, male and female.
She fought tirelessly for "universal suffrage" and the rights of women to be treated as equals in society, and under the law. Mrs Pankhurst understood, in the way that only a true warrior does, when to take up the sword and when to lay it down; the very men for whom she fought bravely, and alas some of the women, treated her appallingly, even to the point of stoning her in the street.
Unfortunately, the film Suffragette, has wasted its opportunity to tribute this magnificent woman from the past, and all who strove to assist with, and eventually realise many of her dreams, and those of the WSPU.
For some reason best known to her, the director has taken a clichéd view of the struggle, through modern "feminist" eyes wearing rose tinted lenses. The period setting and the overall view of society in the time is captured reasonably well, but the heart beat and the soul of the magnificent yet ordinary women of the WSPU has been missed almost entirely.
The movement, and its central players, have been lampooned, degraded and exaggerated for years; Emmeline Pankhurst's wonderful auto biography In My Own Words, was both banned and ridiculed.
Suffragette should have been an opportunity to create a clean and truthful view of Mrs Pankhurst, her husband Richard, her daughters, and all the courageous women who stood by her, marched, fought for, and even died for, the great cause. Sadly, it misses the mark, for the want of a beating heart and a soul, so essential to the historical tapestry.
A curate's egg
The film opens beautifully, but after a promising overture, there follows immediate discordance and a slow tempo that retards into a staggering and halting one. The direction is to blame for most of what ails the film. Hazy focus, sloppy framing, and lame theatricality are all in evidence. A sad tale, cannot generally sustain itself with low key and sad faces throughout, Maggie is no exception.
The tempo did lift as the thin story progressed, but rarely kept its promise of drama, which eventually sank into puppet like manipulation, just before a lovely conclusion too late to redeem the film entirely.
Much has been said already about the work of Arnold Schwarzenegger in this film, his touching and beautifully sustained performance throughout is, I suspect down to his long experience in the business (you can't give the kind of service he has given and not learn a thing or two about acting/directing) rather than anything that may have come from the director.
The script, though good, is lacking in dialogue and in story; characters appear on cue as if they were lined up and waiting in the wings, and the cops are cops, the doctor is a doctor, the neighbour is a neighbour. Characters in a story need to be connected and need to have lives outside the obvious, but the direction here was concentrated upon genre and sadness above all else. The actors were working their socks off to give good performances, which they all did. Abigail Breslin was very fine, too bad she was so devoted to what she was doing, or she might have told the director that her character had cut a finger off in a much earlier scene than the rather long one in which she was clearly seen to have all five.
I enjoyed the film, but my ability to suspend disbelief was seriously challenged by the very person who should have helped me to do it.
All got lost in the sand storm
I can't believe that it wasn't obvious at the first reading that the script was letting it down. Basic idiosyncratic transitions and poor dialogue abounds. Hugo Weaving (something of a fixture in Australian films) manages to make the best of his scenes, and gives a good credible performance throughout. Nicol Kidman works wonders to give the other credible performance. Mr Fiennes is miscast and struggles from his first frame to his last, to even convince us that he belongs there at all.
The rest of the great problem with this film is down to the appalling direction. Basic character relationships are ignored, logic is ignored, some the smaller roles seem to have been left to tag along by themselves, dramatic tension is frequently killed in its infancy by casual happenstance, and there are too many red rock dessert shots, that look for all the world, like stock footage.
It no doubt made great headway as it stood the test of the template during the funding process, as it was labeled a feminist story (it even failed at that) it was to be directed by a woman, it was to be set within a sand storm in country Australiana, and it even featured a smattering of indigenous characters and folk law.
It's a shame that the piece could not have been saved by skillful work shopping during the early stages of production, and good film making throughout.
Refreshing, uplifting, and very funny.
The series is compact, the story lines and the comedy are free free flowing, and the characterisation is sharply focused and consistent.
Those who have found the individual performances poor, in particular one "Cranky Carrot," will be unable to enjoy the total production, which is a great shame, because the performances are actually very even and extremely well controlled by excellent direction and supported by first class script work.
Perhaps it helps to have lived and worked in NZ, but I had no problem associating with the character types and found great delight in the profoundly human elements of the story lines.
Here is a beautifully constructed piece of theatre, where comedy, drama and the truth about social politics meld, to create a satirical and sociological comment that all people should be able to grasp and appreciate, as it lampoons social politics; both the so called incorrect, and the so called correct.
Early Days (1981)
A rare opportunity to experience great theatre on screen
The great Ralph Richardson in the very final phase of his magnificent career.
Early Days is not a movie, it is not strictly a play, but it is a piece of theatre that manages, via fine acting and magical writing (David Storey) talented setting and sensitive direction, to transfer the magic of the theatre onto the screen via video tape.
In Early Days, you have the rarest of treats, waiting for you to fill the role of audience and complete the magic circle of staged Drama.
Ralph Richardson plays Sir Richard Kitchen, a retired politician who was once leader of his party and would surely have been Prime Minister. At the opening, Kitchen is living out the last moments of his life, at the home of his daughter and son in law, where the absence of personal authority and power, the loneliness of seclusion and old age, and his family's inability to accept either his right to self determination or his version of the truth, forces him to reflect upon his early childhood and his lifetime of numerous regrets.
The theatre piece consists of a chain of scenes involving his daughter, his son in law (who he heartily detests) and his granddaughter, with whom he has the most successful and yet the harshest relationship, and Bristol, a seriously flawed and troubled man, who works for his son in law, but who has been engaged temporarily as be the old man's companion.
Kitchen's only respite seems to be with his newly appointed doctor, and his granddaughter's boyfriend, a very pleasant poet and intellectual.
All performances are fine, but Ralph Richardson, at the very end of his actual life and career, and clearly coping with the ravages of old age, plays the dying Kitchen with great, and at times frighteningly powerful forces.
Mad Dog Morgan (1976)
Loose plot, poor direction.
I have no idea what the budget was for this film, but it has low budget written all over it from frame one. The establishing shot is about as good as any of the cinematography gets for the remainder of the film.
As the hero approaches the stage coach and wanders aimlessly away into the gaining foreground, it sets the pattern and the standard for the rambling, disjointed grab bag of scenes to follow.
As usual in Australian historic films, the old cultural cringe sets in early. Any English characters, especially characters in authority, are either moronic animals, or outrageously portrayed elitists and silly arsed over enunciating buffoons.
The real men of heroic heart and courage are either Irish or "Australian" bush men. This is the kind of thinking that allows us to make Ned Kelly, a man who clearly had a problem with authority and the rule of law, who killed policemen, and who almost derailed a train, which almost certainly would have made him the country's first mass murderer, a celebrated folk hero.
This film is a string of seemingly hurriedly invented action, gratuitous violence, bluster and bullshit. That it is what I suggest it is, is a shame. The basis of a good story and the makings of a classic film are clearly within it, but they are lost in clouded plot ideas and confused direction, further hindered by surface acting and cultural cringe.
Piccadilly Jim (2005)
Forgive them for they know not what they do
Actors tend to place their trust in directors, even old stalwarts such as Mr Palmer, Ms Blethyn and Mr Wilkinson. Once the point has been missed by the producers/director, although in this case I don't think the point was ever sighted, the production must run its collision course with disaster, and not even such fine actors as were employed to give it life, could save Piccadilly Jim .
PG Wodehouse was a successful writer who knew the value of the suspension of disbelief, and was able to deliver the theatrical creation of a world which, although highly unlikely, with a cleverly constructed set of plausibilities, would, and did, pass as the truth.
Theatre has many natural enemies. Because it is not the truth, but the appearance of truth, theatre has many tricks and falsehoods in its infrastructure, and these are all susceptible to betrayal in drama, but in comedy they are especially vulnerable. The absolute death sentence on comedy, is to "mug" (pull faces) to attempt to be funny, or to overstate a quirk or characteristic.
In Piccadilly Jim, the director breaks all the rules of good comedy by allowing, not only "mugging," and (keep it in) play funny work, but a whole swatch of clashes to occur. Modern dress, modern language, caricature rather than character, a mysterious failure at irregular intervals to use film language, and the erratic use of tempo, which often stifles its own dialogue.
Many a great opera singer has come unstuck via the technicalities of a so called simple folk song. Perhaps this film came likewise unstuck, by its creators missing the hidden vortex within the supposed simplicity of the original story.
Great Expectations (2012)
A pale reflection in a clouded mirror
Why? This question arises for me every time someone feels inclined to spend a fortune to reinvent the wheel, or to capture a modern feel and inject it, like a youth serum, into a classic tale.
This film says nothing that has not already been said in the story; apples to oranges? Fair enough. Let us compare apples to apples; save modern technology, nothing whatsoever is made to eclipse the 1946 film of David Lean. The casting has been matched in almost every way to the Lean film, even the character of Jaggers has Robbie Coltrane (excellent as he is) walking in the footsteps of Francis L. Sullivan.
The one glaring example of miscasting is Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, a character which at times comes very close to resembling a remnant from a hammer horror of the 1960s.
The film looks good, the feel is right (so it should be, it's more than 65 years since David Lean shot what remains the definitive version) but the story too often misses the beat, as it attempts to force its characterisations upon the audience, rather than allow the brilliance of Dickens and of so many fine artists to weave a tapestry of magic.
War Horse (2011)
This is the absolute love it or hate it movie.
I gave it one star because the most appropriate word was right along side.
A film maker must wring tears out of the audience when appropriate, and yes, the film must make money, or it would soon spell the end of film making as we know it. Therefore tears must be squeezed out of the audience, and money squeezed out of their wallets, or the process would die. Yes, even Mr Spielberg (who by the way need not contend with any theatrical or other production of the book, but rather needs must make a film on its own merits and by his own creative process) needs tears and money to flow as a result of his work, for exactly the same reason.
The film is a dud in my opinion. The story is badly told and the characters are barely believable; the trenches of the great ugly war are sanitised beyond belief and the usual theatrical conventions are dumbed down to kindergarten level at the lowest, and grade school level at their highest. The suspension of disbelief has been compromised as never before and the cinematography looks like the film equivalent of painting by numbers, but with digital enhancement. The ethnicity of the story, as conveyed by the film makers, reads more like a bubble pack mix of Little House on the Prairie and The Muppets, with a sprinkling of 1950 Walt Disney thrown in to further sweeten the mix. The DVD should find a place on the bottom shelf, along with the millions of cartoon versions of Cinderella and Magic Roundabout. The film is truly awful.
The Browning Version (1951)
Asquith's direction of Rattigan's magnificent play and screenplay
Here is a magnificent play and screenplay, beautifully written and conceived. Much has been made of the performances of Michael Redgrave and Jean Kent, both of whom are brilliantly cast in a physical sense. Good as Redgrave and Kent both are, it is to the supporting cast that we must look for the strongest and most credible performances; Nigel Patrick is rock solid as Frank Hunter, the popular science teacher who transforms from thoughtless philanderer to decent human being, and Wilfred Hyde White is at the peak of his game as the headmaster who is self seeking, self satisfied, unfeeling and ultimately rather cruel. Michael Redgrave, for some unknown reason decided to give Crocker-Harris a rather thin dry voice which is obviously "stuck on" he also fails to show any vestige of the human being behind the persona of the school master until it is far too late, his performance is just that, a surface study of a rather frail failure, rather than a man who tries and fails. He is expected to be unpopular, but Redgrave's characterisation is, unfortunately, rather cold. Jean Kent is brilliantly cast in the physical sense, here is woman who could well be the wife of a rather lacklustre school master, but also has the magnificent womanliness, and frankly, sex appeal, to stir any man's biological chemistry. For all this, her performance as Millie Crocker-Harris is patchy, at times so very believable and at others driven by a surface petulance, a false grandeur and an unnecessary viciousness which guilds the lily of the already powerful writing. I have seen Ms Kent's work in other roles, she was well capable of more subtle work than this, which leads me to feel that the direction by Anthony Asquith may have been rather heavy handed or just plain careless in her case. Michael Redgrave has the more difficult role with which to contend, and in my honest opinion, his characterisation, flawed from the start, fails him absolutely at the vital moment of Taplow's gesture, and in spite of an effective gear change in his defiance of the headmaster and a fine delivery of the final speech, the overall performance is under the bar for an actor of Redgrave's standing.
The Smell of Success (2009)
A real stinker
Here is a movie which should have been very funny and should have been one of the most entertainingly funny frolics of the age. instead, it is a stinker from beginning to end. Mr Thornton is incapable of being bad, like any good actor worth his salt, he gives the movie every chance to succeed, he never lets it down and he plays the character to the hilt entirely without fault. unfortunately, the material is not up to it and the direction is of the worst kind of "keep it in" variety. Tea Leoni is also on top of it, but her part is not well written enough to support her sterling work and she appears to be directed in two directions at once, she is supposed to be strong and determined, but she is made to fall over (too many times) and to behave like a half wit from the outset. the two leads seem to be working in different movies as a matter of fact. The jokes are thin and old fashioned and there are way too many sh*t jokes and double entendre are milked until they bleed to death. No care what so ever has been taken with the story or the character backgrounds or the sub-plot and there just isn't enough material on the surface to feed the comedy machine. What a shame and what a waste of celluloid. There are two other brothers, who do this kind of thing so much better in my opinion.
44 Inch Chest (2009)
A brave new approach to an old style.
44 inch chest received mixed reviews but one thing is evident to me. Whenever a reviewer doesn't know what say, or is genuinely afraid to look beyond the obvious, he/she invariably says very little or nothing about the piece and instead, heaps praise upon the only thing they can be sure of getting right and that is the quality of those actors who have already established themselves as leading and substantial performers, in other words, they state the bleeding obvious.
Mr Roby in the telegraph even went so far (after exaggerating the facts regarding the story)as to narrow it down to three brilliant actors, presumably leaving out in the cold those wonderful actors who were not Mr Winstone, Mr Hurt and Mr McShane.
44inch chest is a refreshing break with the standard London gang land film and manages to explore well below the surface of the characters and the world in which such people live and operate. It is a story of people , who happen to be Crims, rather than another tale woven around brutal murder, robbery and guns. Much(too much)has been made of the profanity, for goodness sake, you can hear this level of language in any London pub, in any garage workshop or factory in England, what do people expect from such men and women? they must use this level of profanity to be credible. From the start, where, like an overture, the camera beautifully creates the atmosphere, to the very end, the film is brilliantly constructed with the exception of one scene, a scene which I would have cut out and thrown far away. So as to avoid spoilers, I will identify the scene I hated, as simply "Pink car." The only other change I would have made was to set the white bedroom scene where it belonged, that is in the hell hole and acted out rather than visited and viewed.
The story is a beauty, the characters are to die for, the work from all, I say this again the work from ALL the Actors was first class. I cannot recall a film ever where the performances were all quite so equal as they are in 44 inch chest, there is not a dud moment from any one of them. This is the kind of film that will stand up on its back legs in 30 years time as the granddad of a genre all its own. Here theatre is brought closer to film than at any other time.
Those who have complained that the film lacks drive and contrast and variety are alongside those who have claimed that it is anti climactic. This says much more about the reviewers than it says about the film, which, by the way, never lacks drama or drive and neither does it end without considerable climax. In fact, it is one of those wonderful stories that nags at you for months after you have finished watching it. I would have given it 9 out of ten but for that one scene.
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
A work of theatrical and entertainment genius
A brief comment is all that is required. Inglorious Basterds is a work of genius, it has been crafted by a man who knows film, who knows theatricality and story telling and who has the drive to take a medium to another place, another level, without saying "look at my genius, what a great film maker I am".
Here is a work of fantasy that grabs its audience early and, in a world saturated with images and movies, it manages to hold on to its audience and thoroughly entertain them for nearly three hours.
Every work of greatness has its flaw, its crack in the smooth plaster and in the case of Inglorious Basterds, it is what I consider the miscasting of Mike Myers, who gives his tiny role, the most obviously cod performance imaginable. I can only assume that he has worked under his own direction for too long.
Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
A patchwork quilt
This movie is like a patchwork quilt, a quilt made up of oddly sized squares of material cut at random from a roll of "tear jerker" one of "soap opera" and one of "syndicated romance paperbacks." The direction is corny at best and up to the standard of a moderately priced TV commercial at worst. The driving force of the story depends heavily upon the unlikely, the characters are largely one dimensional, and the few genuinely deep and emotional scenes, are forced and/or predictable.
Diane Lane and Richard Gere battle, not with each other, but with the script (I suspect with the director also) to do all in the considerable power of their individual talent to make this movie work well, but alas even this great effort cannot breath enough life into the work to give it credibility.
There is much to be thankful for in the individual performances of Viola Davis and Scott Glenn, who manage to bring real personalities to the minor characters they have been given, or have won the right, to play.
For a movie this corny and predictable to work, it must be told simply and as quickly as possible, this one was plagued with sub plots and background details, with action seen in flash back and then told again in dialogue straight after; it is never allowed to settle much while telling it's story, but its density forces it to take way too long about it.
In Bruges (2008)
Brilliant writing, a work that comes within an inch of true greatness.
This film walks in its own way, and with the exception of one or two alcoves or nooks and crannies, it walks along new roads and byways.
I wanted so strongly to give this picture 10 out of 10, but it was spoiled by two very silly and deeply regrettable scenes. I say regrettable, because they were so foolishly overlooked, and so easily fixable, that I can never imagine why they were allowed to remain in the finished product. One could have been omitted altogether, the other re shot very simply. The first is the lunatic scene with the so called overweight American tourists, this was like a bad moment in Screwballs or Dumb and Dumber, and should never have happened at all, given that it did happen, it would not have harmed the story in any way to have committed it to the canvas bag or to the cutting room floor. The second regrettable scene was in the restaurant, when, for some reason best known to the director, the direction takes on an amateur theatrical or painting by numbers technique. She exits to go to the ladies room, he blows smoke and an arrogant diner complains, he snaps it and calls the diner by inviting him to repeat his complaint, this leads to an over injection of testosterone on both sides, they stand, punches are thrown, and the hero decks the diner, his date then swings a bottle and he decks her, the table breaks away, as many a card table did in the old westerns, and both decked characters remain decked, she returns from ladies room (right on cue)just in time to clock the situation; to this point, nobody has stopped eating, the waiters are all out the back having a smoke, and the restaurant manager has gone for a Pee, or is taking a shower in the next building, because nobody attempts to stop the fight, or even pay it the slightest attention. In order to avoid any further collapse in the suspension of disbelief, the director cuts to "exterior night two" and the couple out in the street walking away from the restaurant. The time that would have been saved by cutting the Fat Tourist scene, could well have been used to support the utterly unbelievable restaurant scene.
Such a shame, because the film is a beauty, and the combined efforts of all concerned in this production, have provided the world with a work of nearly true greatness.
Charlie Wilson's War (2007)
A fine movie with fine performances from all concerned.
Here is a movie that almost gets it all right, with good performances from everyone, and three strong leading performances from Hanks, Seymour Hoffman, and a fine turn up from Julia Roberts that had me spell bound from the first few seconds, these are performances that lift the production to the stars, and keep it there for the duration.
Apart from one or two very minor factual problems with the script, the only thing that lets this movie down, is the technical direction, there are far too many bad cuts (fudged continuity)and a number of camera "cheats" that simply do not work. This is surprising for a movie of this stature, and is a little annoying to watch, but it does not destroy an otherwise beautifully crafted film.
Screen Two: The Snapper (1993)
We live in a world where words have become overused, "great" is used to describe breakfast and "excellent" describes the feeling of receiving an expected letter on time.
In my honest opinion, "The Snapper" is a classic, in every sense of the old meaning of the word.
Here is a beautifully written piece to begin with, a beautifully crafted piece to expand, and a great achievement in directing and acting out a work that is so much a classic of Dublin life and its wonderful people. This very funny and often heart wrenching film, is a work of art that belongs alongside James Joyce and a host of other great Irish artists. It goes beyond comedy or drama, in its ability to reveal the very heart and soul of human existence, and at the same time, touch ours.
The Snapper is much more than an entertaining and very funny story, which it is by every inch, it is also a great classic of Dublin life, not the life of the Blooms, but of the Curleys.
Tiger in the Smoke (1956)
Interesting film for other reasons
This film is not in any way a gripping story, in fact, it seems as one watches it, to be three films cut and compressed to make one. So, what's wrong with it? The main problem is the fact that it has too many characters, too many mediocre actors (one appallingly bad one) too many angles and not enough of a story, the denouement is positively under whelming and one is left not caring about anyone, except perhaps, the canon played beautifully by that most reliable and welcome of actors, Laurence Naismith.
So why am I bothering to write about it? Because it is one of those worthwhile ventures, one of those film projects that had so much going for it on paper that it deserved to become a huge success. The directing of camera was for the most part brilliant, with many innovative techniques, some of them well ahead of the industry's time. The directing of the actors was uneven and sometimes non existent, which allowed better actors to get disorderly and the poor ones (there were a few) to go off the edge or simply flounder, the actor playing Johnny Havoc, the film's central bad guy, was simply not up to the role, and should have been recast, he indulged in "mad acting" "golden haze" and "falling on furniture" all things no actor should ever be allowed to get away with, and in his one great scene (in the cellar with his gang) he blew every opportunity the script afforded him to shine and to create great drama, as a result, the scene fell like seeds on stony ground.
Having said this, the film was made with some great care and there were moments that broke all barriers for the time. The actor playing the Inspector(against type from the book)was good, and the supporting police force actors were good, Charles Victor(though very near the edge most of the time) provided a welcome uplift, and Laurence Naismith was (as usual) on top of his job.
Donald Sinden had not at this time developed his hard jaw and tight teeth acting and so was quite acceptable as the new man in the life of the love interest (an actress who did so very well with what she was given, which wasn't very much) and he was handsome enough to be taken for Richard Green.
This is a good film if you allow for the obvious flaws, and deserves a place alongside great works, for it's bravery and innovative techniques, as well as some of the character acting, odd bits of which, were brilliant.
Sweet Bird of Youth (1962)
don't be fooled by the negative comments some
All the necessary superlatives have been used and rightly so. I wish to add that this film is a must for all thinking, feeling human beings. Geraldine Page is beyond all reasonable bounds of negative criticism, and almost above the highest extreme of praise. Her performance is from another world and is guided by her profound intellect and talent as an actress; artists rarely approach this level of control and mastery. All comments pertaining to a wooden performance by Paul Newman, must have been made by people who have no idea of the science of acting or of the process of characterisation, Newman has proved many times to be in control of his artistry and to a secure talent in the theatrical arena, in this work, he proves to be at the very edge of brilliance. Shirley Knight has come under attack for being vague and various other unflattering descriptions, watch her carefully here as Heavenly, think about Heavenly's upbringing, the home life the manipulation and the power base and scope of women generally in her generation and geographical placement, and think again! She has the character gripped with steel binding and she plays this sad, torn beautiful young woman with the greatest dignity and truth imaginable. Madeleine Sherwood and Rip Torn showing the world how character playing can be, and is, an art form in its own right when your head rules your ego and you realise that there are no small parts, only small players.
Ed Begley takes character playing to the stars here, with what is essentially a character lead role, where he is able to transcend the limited dimensions of even the wide screen, by not only projecting the threat and power of Finley, but his very breath and body odour, at the same time invoking loathing and even fear from his audience, Begley's playing is a model for all time, of how a real actor can take a worthy character right to the knife edge, even to the grave danger of overplaying, yet keep it in perfect control. Those who complain about the watering down of TW and the differences between the stage production and the movie are either disappointed that the movie could not have been more focused on the original text, or are just unaware or plain stupid. The movies must have mass appeal, or at least the next best thing, they are also subject to much stronger censorship laws than the legitimate theatre and producers and directors must do the best they can, even today; this was the 1960s