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I have attended The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and RADA in the mid/late eighties.
I have always had a very keen interest in the Classics and in History and this fact alone, helped me immensely to make my career on the stage.
Having been raised in a cosmopolitan family, I fluently speak four languages, hence my capacity to play roles in those languages.
I have worked in France, England and the United States, but Germany and Italy would also do, if had a chance.
I am very interested in Movies and my orientations go to the great and maybe obvious choices of Kubrick, Eizenstein, Tarkowsky, Herzog, Wicki and more recently also Ridley Scott and Brian De Palma.
At the moment I am free of engagements, due to various factors, first of which is that I need to reassemble my thoughts and plan my next career move carefully.
Among the latest roles I have played, are Cyrano, Richard III, Becket, Henry II, Petruchio and Dr. Dysart in "Equus".
I have directed "Richard III", "The Odd Couple - Female Version", "The Lion in Winter", "Much Ado About Nothing", "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "The Night of the Iguana" among others.
Anyone willing to launch me a challenge may expect to have to come to grips with a highly committed professional, who lives and breaths the stage.
I am athletic and energetic enough to yield a Medieval broadsword if necessary, but I am more into brains, than brawns.
In my earlier days I also used to sing and was almost set up for an operatic career as a bass-barytone.
Alas, the spoken word of Shakespeare, seduced me more than his Italian operatic translations.
I only state this to warn anybody willing to hire me, that I have a very commanding and developed voice.
But above all, and this does not come from me, but rather from many different and authoritative sources, I have a very powerful stage presence.
I may only add - both as an actor and as a director -.
I am at present working on a screenplay dealing with the history of tank aces in World War II, in view of a large-scale mini-series a la "Band of Brothers".
The only difference being, that it handles history from all points of view and is not judgmental in content, but rather shows the crude and harsh reality of an average tank ace in those days, whether German, American, British or Russian.
It is a project I had at heart for many years, but only now emerges as a concreet living subject.
At the same time, I am concentrating in bringing to life the historic figure of Ludwig van Beethoven, by writing a play, based on his political and social views of the Napoleonic period.
This too, may come together as a screenplay one day.
But first things first.
Please feel free to get in touch with me at any time, as long as it is for a serious and well-conceived project.
Tales of an Ancient Empire (2010)
The worst sequel ever made... and this is a compliment...
First of all: bad acting, bad acting, bad acting.
Need I say more?
OK then... let's see.
A movie that lasts barely 90 minutes which has a 10 minutes title opening.
Got the picture?
Nothing mind shattering is happening during the opening. Just a lot of bla-bla delivered as badly as these actors (and actresses) ever could.
The director must have had "Dune" in mind, since this picture opens with a female narrator and goes on and on about a story that those ho ever watched the original one well remember.
It was probably done for those affected by Alzheimer's disease (poor sods...).
The rest is not even close to a sequel. Just a lot of "macho" acting, some stupid giggling around for no reason and a story line (if one can call it that) that is as confused as the rest of this movie.
I believe the writers of this homunculus of a movie must have sniffed too much cocaine, or meth, and have just read comics, instead of true literature.
I am aware that there are some around here and elsewhere, who have praised the sequel as "solid". I don't know where they were while watching this, or what kind of other distraction may have confused their minds, but they apparently never really watched a truly well made movie, and I do not mean a blockbuster movie - just a well directed and acted one - there are some low budget movies that have astonished me in my own lifetime, but not this one.
This is simply trash, despite the presence of Kevin Sorbo and Lee Horsley (who also starred in the original one).
Sorry to disappoint you all with my own view, but if I had had the money, I would certainly have produced a much better and more inventive movie than this one.
So, in short, if you want to watch it go on and do it. If you like it, the better for you.
My copy landed in the trash bin and into oblivion as it should have been when produced...
Approaching the Unknown (2016)
The New "Dark" age of movie making
I would have wished to give this title a "1" for "awful", but my sense of fairness, and considering that someone must have worked very hard on this nonsense of a movie, has convinced me to give it 3/10.
It's the most boring movie I've ever watched, especially for a Science Fiction genre.
Considering that people defined "2001: A Space Odyssey" by Stanley Kubrick, when it opened, as incomprehensible and boring, I would say that this was an insult to a masterpiece in story telling.
It is evident that the film makers wanted somehow to emulate Kubrick's effort, and maybe, just maybe, pay tribute to him. Well, they did not. Quite the contrary. They achieved to insult the Master.
Besides, this movie aims to mimic, at least in visual effects, the above mentioned masterpiece, but without any true reference to a possible reality.
It could have been written by a psycho-analyst, a la Freud, but has it achieved a result? None whatsoever, as in true psychiatry, in which it is the individual who has ultimately, to cure himself.
It is just a waste of time.
In 1964 there was a movie called "Robinson Crusoe on Mars", and that specific one, was much more interesting and visually enticing, than this mumbo-jumbo of self-pity, introspection, and as someone else has said, a zen-like attitude, forgetting that we are not all oriented toward Oriental spiritual values and therefore don't have that time, or money to waste for utterly boring and useless considerations.
Movies should be entertainment first, art second and commercial third.
I leave psychoanalysis where it belongs, in a study or a clinic. It has no place in movie theaters.
Concerning the performance of the solitary astronaut, well, he did his job, nothing more, nothing less (in other words, what one might come to expect from the star of a movie), but all his wining, all the time went slowly on my nerves and I simply could not show empathy with a guy who is supposed to be on a mission for Mankind, but instead lands up brooding on the meaning of life.
If you want to brood on the meaning of life go and watch Monty Python's version of it. It's by far more elucidating than here...
Moreover, this film is an insult to our intelligence. We all know that NASA would never, ever send a solitary mission to Mars, and therefore, already there, you have a false assumption to start with.
NASA trains his astronauts through the entire process and many of them come from a well "steeled" military career. Some are test pilots. An elite among aviators and flight aces in their own right. Others are scientists and researchers and therefore have an above average IQ that makes them impervious to self-doubt and brooding as shown here.
Then there is to consider that even given that this had been a factual mission, those in authority would have chosen a very strong and steadfast man for it, and not one who could crack up at the seems when the first glitch appears.
So, in conclusion, what did the writer/director want to achieve with this little effort of his? I wouldn't know since I am not in his mind, but he must be pretty insecure about himself if he writes scripts like these.
Frankly, this is also why I never liked Woody Allen, Ingmar Bergman or Roman Polanski's movies, except perhaps, for those few exceptions we all came to know in time.
All these attempts at psycho analysis on themselves and make you pay for it, just go against my grain.
When I go for a movie, especially a Science Fiction one, I want to discover the marvels of space, have some nasty surprises perhaps, enjoy the adventurous ride and have an intelligent ending to finish it all.
This one, it's just a static nonsense, reflecting just how humanity these days has no sense of grandeur, nor has any hope in the future and instead is being filled with plenty of unnecessary doubts, which in reality, amount to just negative views and nothing else.
Great cinema should do the opposite. It can be critical, and can even be aggressive and accusing at times, but in the end it has to offer some hope and yes, as I have already said, some glimpse for a hopeful future.
Perhaps it is just me, but I am so very tired with all these false "prophets of gloom" and pseudo-intellectuals who would like to see a La-La Land of inert people, either always happy and in love, or always in despair and suicidal.
Just for a change, wouldn't it be refreshing to have a straight out movie with normal people on board?
If wishes were horses...
Bermuda Tentacles (2014)
Terminator Mama goes berserk as an Admiral
In one word? Awful. In more words? Terrible, horrible, stupid, dumb, stale, cheese... I could go on forever, but for crying out loud, what were the movie makers thinking? Special effects (CGI) of yesteryear and action scenes that were just ridiculous. Even the "tentacles" were better in "20,000 Leagues under the Sea". This movie takes every cliché' of other filmed material and mashes them together to come up with a completely ridiculous "Navy & Marines" would be action caper. Linda Hamilton must have aged badly, if she has to appear in such a bad "C" class movie. Even John Savage, of all people, appears as the President of the U.S. of A. and despite making an effort to go through the footsteps of other better fit actors in a long line of emulators, falls short and looking out of place here. The rest of the Cast? Well, personally I have seen better acting in the first year acting classes at Strasberg than here. I wonder if these were even actors. They all looked as if they had been dragged in by force, given a hasty script to memorize and then sent out in the frail of battle. This is not even Science Fiction, since Science Fiction, if well made by people who actually understand the meaning of the definition, should be at least based on some scientific sound fact. "Bermuda Tentacles" is nothing of the sort. It is more a mixture of Fantasy and Horror movie knit together, but a very long shot from movies like "Alien" or even "Predator". There's a scene in which our heroes have to rescue the President aboard a super speedy submarine. In order to return to the surface, they go so very fast, that in a real world these people would have imploded, but nothing happens. At the end of the movie a crew takes off with a Huey chopper to destroy the Alien ship that surfaces from the Ocean Bed. After they have done the deed, if someone did notice, the chopper miraculously changes into a Sea Hawk Helicopter, and then again into a Huey... Oo-rah indeed! If I were either a Navy or Marine member, I would be ashamed to be depicted in such a shabby and stupid movie. Those Corps should be honored in a different way.
The Blacklist (2013)
Finally, something worth watching...
Every now and then, amazingly, television can dish up something really worthwhile to watch.
For many years I thought that the best TV productions were those of the past (see "The Twilight Zone", "Star Trek", "Attack", "Bonanza", "Kojak", "Ironside", "M*A*S*H", just to name a few).
Yet, there are, to this day, some shows that really stand out from your usual ones. "The Blacklist" is one of them.
I don't know if it is for the massive presence of James Spader in the leading role (who never ceases to surprise me for his versatility as an actor, ever since he starred in "Stargate", to the more recent effort with William Shatner and Candice Bergen in "Boston Legal"), that impresses me in this latest product, but fact is, that the entire series so far (13 episodes) has started like a rocket and so far maintains its "true grit".
An original premise, interesting stories and a very natural acting makes this very commendable and highly worth watching.
It cannot compare to other shows of this kind, such as, for instance "N.C.I.S." or indeed "The X-Files" and "Fringe" (which are, at least for the last two, more Sci-Fi ventures, rather than being pure Investigative shows).
"The Blacklist" can, if ever, be compared to movies such as "The Bourne Identity", only that instead of the CIA, we have the FBI as the center of attention.
But make no mistake. This is not just a pure Action/Adventure series, although there are some components of this. It is a more subtle treatment, and facts are served in due time, with a dosage worth the best of meals being served in the more refined of restaurants.
In fact, every episode leaves you with a wish for more, like a second or third serving. And the more you "bite" into it, the more you are demanding. The series never disappoint on this point. Every single time it hits a nerve, a different theme and a different threat.
It is like having an Italian meal one day, Chinese the next, and perhaps Mexican the next.
It is very palatable.
According to what IMDb lists on its pages, "The Blacklist" will have another nine episodes to end Season One, followed by a full Second Season.
I really hope so. It is a delight to watch, and not just for James Spader, but also for the rest of the cast that keeps in step with him and works very well as a team.
If the writers keep up the good work, and the Networks will support it to the fullest, I am certain it will develop into something very special.
La proie (2011)
A Thriller worth its name
I am not, as many movie-goers, a fan of all French movies, especially not these days, when every French movie-maker tends to "ape" the Hollywood stream.
Yet, said that, occasionally, there are some tiny gems that stand out from the rest, and this is just the case with "La Proie" (English - The Prey).
It starts very slowly and at first it seems your common jailbird caper. A prison, two convicts and confined rooms pervaded by harsh conditions, but soon things start to happen which turn everything upside-down.
The question then is, who is the Prey and who the Hunted.
In a very tightly knit thriller, action upon action, cut upon cut, the story unfolds in front of our eyes and keeps us biting our nails to see what happens next.
Suddenly, nothing and nobody is or stays what he or she once was. The innocent is guilty and the guilty is the innocent, but who and when and how they turn to be like that is just a matter of turns in the storyline.
The end of it all is also a surprise. Not your usual Happy Ending a la Hollywood, but rather a "staccato" ending, in which one tends to say, "well, it's a French movie and therefore it has to end tragically", ah... but wait, there is a surprise, an Easter Egg if you want and you leave with a sense of satisfaction after an intense ride on the edge of a razor blade.
Granted, some scenes could remind us to a certain pace in the famed James Bond movies, in which certain characters jump from bridges and land unharmed on a platform, yank themselves out of a window on the third floor only to land unscathed on a minivan's rooftop, but this is just a movie and we can easily forgive such heroics, even if a bit unreal (everyone else would brake a bone, strain a muscle or rip a tendon).
Still harm comes to everyone and no one is really a super-hero here. It is probably the Adrenalin pumping that keeps our characters doing what they do.
Yet, unlike so many other action capers these days, there is even space for some solid good acting by everyone involved. The direction is competent and skillful, but the real secret as always, lies in the excellent editing of this movie.
One suggestion though. If you want to really enjoy the movie, try to watch it in its original French language with perhaps, English subtitles to help you out, because the dialogue is important to fully understand the mind-frame of the characters. A competent dubbing could also do the trick, but alas, in my experience, dubbing depends on the translation and the translator, and one can seldom rely on a faithful transliteration of the original text.
Therefore, since this is one of those rare cases of movie enjoyment, with a solid and interesting story, expert acting and directing and a considerable amount of thrills I have added it to my list of films that have to be seen and perhaps even collected.
For you to judge whether the effort was worthwhile or not, but I can guarantee you that you won't be disappointed. But then again, taste is taste and we all have different parameters for this.
Oh, and by the way, the German title has been changed from "On the Run" to "Traue Niemandem" (Trust No One). In fact there are so many movies called "On the Run" that one could get easily confused. But in view to the fact that the Main character states many times that he doesn't trust anyone, this seems indeed to be the appropriate Title for the movie.
Fixed Bayonets! (1951)
Samuel Fuller. The name says it all...
Of all the war movies I have ever seen (some very good, some good, some less good and others, simply awful and preachy), this one, together with all his other "companions" (see "The Big Red One") is simply what one might expect, or better, should expect from a "war" movie. I put quotes around "war" because in reality, Fuller's movies of this genre are all but war movies. If you look deeper, you will see that they are actually anti-war movies at their best and absolutely not pontifying a message of peace, but rather depicting war and the men involved in it, as a total chaos, a slaughterhouse and a total misery for those who live it. Fuller's movies do not glorify war, but rather show the grittiness, the dirt, the shadows and the deepest darkness that surrounds and envelopes people who are in its midst. There are just a few others in his league, such as Peckinpah and John Irvin who managed to send the message home. Yet, sadly, there are still people "glorifying" war as a noble expression of human endeavor. Such people never understood a thing about war, or simply never served on active duty, in order to judge with their own eyes what war is really all about. Usually, such people sit comfortably behind a desk in a wonderfully padded armchair, or simply on a luscious couch, following Baseball or Football events and allow others to do their dirty work for them. "Fixed Bayonets!" is a crude, raw and unforgiving depiction of what common men are put through in a war situation. The Korean War might be just the excuse to do so, since every war, past, present and yes, even future, brings inexorably pain and death to those who fight it, as well as to those who wait back home, for a husband and father (today also a wife and mother), or for a brother, sister, son or daughter... Samuel Fuller's intention was always to bring reality into the game, but evidently, his message never got through to some, especially not to those hyper-thyroideal muscle men who believe that brawns alone will win you a war... In my book, this movie, together with all other Sam Fuller's work of this kind should a must see in schools everywhere. This would finally teach children what war is really like. But, said this, I just remember another movie, called "All quiet on the Western Front", in its two incarnations, one in 1930, and the other more recent, in 1979, which already dealt with the very same argument and what did those movies affect? Nothing. War is still among us. And so is the misery of our human condition. When will humanity listen to people like Fuller, Peckinpah, Irvin, Remarque and many others who lived through war and survived it? Oh sure, they are honored now... now that they are dead and cannot do too much harm to the war and death industry, but will there ever be someone who will actually manage to put the word "The End" to war? I seriously doubt it. In my view, this movie is simply a must for those who are seriously interested in studying war as a phenomenon, not just as a past time.
How little do we know,... and really understand...
Assuming just for a moment, and I repeat, just assuming that this is based on solid documentation of facts (which this work of... what? Art? Fiction? Dumbness? Shallowness? For you to judge...), which indeed is by far denied by various very competent and serious critics of the works of Shakespeare throughout the ages (and mind you,... there were many contemporaries who already tackled with this "plagiarism" problem), then it would simply represent a sort of dramatization a la "Amadeus",...
But alas, this work, if one can call it that, just because it was put together by someone with a Name, such as Roland Emmerich, is flawed and boring at best. Those who have deepened the subject already know about these misguided views, and some may even concede that some Sonnets, not the plays, may have "borrowed" bits and pieces from elsewhere. Then the question is: so what? Do these exposed facts make this movie into something special? In my humble view, not really, nor is the highly praised acting in it anything but conventional in my tired eyes.
This movie can only be considered a good movie, by those who know absolutely nothing, or just fragmentary pieces of the actual biography of William Shakespeare.
Besides, drunkenness was the favorite past time of the Brits since Roman times... And while we are at it, Ben Jonson, and even Christopher Marlowe, could beat Will Shakespeare in that past time by a far length... So therefore, in that instance at least, there is really nothing new or scandalous about it.
So now, what really memorable is there to be watched in this movie that catches the eye? Except costumes and settings? Not much. And this should receive praises? I wonder...
Methinks that movie makers these days pass away their time in deconstructing history and the biography of others, considered by many as giants (whether wrong or right, is a matter for others to judge), just to make themselves feel better somehow... Is it a form of psychotherapy they are practicing for themselves? I don't know and I cannot judge this, since I am not a Psychoanalyst, but there must be such a component beneath these efforts of theirs, to drag everything that is of some value (or at least has been until now) through the mud of their contorted and sick minds.
I don't know what these people are smoking or snorting up their noses, but this, always in my own and very personal view, has absolutely nothing to do with true creativity, nor taste.
It just shows us how jaded and ignorant some people, especially high placed people these days, can be, and how pretentious they can become when they reach the top.
A nice dose of humbleness and a bit more wisdom would suit them best, but alas, they keep on coming with these preposterous and ill-fated (apparently not by a vast majority of viewers, naturally) subjects, stating facts that are not grounded in any serious publication, and which may probably be more suited in trash papers like The Sun or other gossip Newspaper of sad present fate...
But then again, my opinion may not count much these days, since everyone is out for a shock-treatment, rather than using their own brains for something useful and truly constructive.
How easy it is these days, to destroy the work of a lifetime of people who really did sweat their daily bread and butter, and how sad it is to see how other less talented (at least in my view) people, struggle to become the "talk of the town", for their own personal satisfaction.
Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward would probably know this phenomenon better than I, and would probably have much more to say in this regard, certainly with a lot more style than I could ever muster, and even be able to add some very poignant notes to what I just described.
Alas, such sublime authors do not exist anymore, and all we are left with are some comic strips and cheap literature that entices just the occasional reader to open a real book. What a loss for us all. How sad...
Snow Cake (2006)
The science of forgiveness... and understanding.
Let me say, just up front, that when I watched this on television I was almost compelled to switch channels.
I simply don't like romantic or sentimental (tear-jerking) movies.
But it was a slow night, nothing else to watch, except the same-o, same-o cop drama here and there,... so I braced myself for a boring and well-planned travel through sentimental-land, with all the buttons pushed at the right time, to force you to squeeze your tear ducts in your eyes.
Mind you, I like everything that has Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver or Carrie-Anne Moss, in it, but I was wondering why these three would congregate to make a "romantic drama".
At first, at the opening of the movie (a bit slow-paced for my taste), nothing new on the western horizon. Nice landscape, a diner and two odd characters meeting (one of them being Alan Rickman). Location? Canada. Season? Well, you may have guessed by the title, that it might be winter. Snow? Yes.
A brief conversation, or better said, monologue of the two characters ensues. So far, so good.
One might think at this point that that's it. Older man meets much younger woman and a pathetic story gets told once again. Wrong!
What happens next, within the ten minute rule of movie-land (if nothing happens within a ten minute span, you can leave the theater or the room and switch off the TV). Well, as I was about to do so, lo and behold, Bang! Big Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang!
A car crash! In a movie like this? Yes. A huge truck rams the man's car and this is the actual beginning of the picture.
The rest unfolds while we accompany the man's ordeal through it all.
Let me just say that if you think to have known Sigourney Weaver as an actress before, well, think again... If you haven't seen her work in this movie, you simply cannot appreciate the great professional talent she has and the true gamut she can span when allowed to do so.
Of course, she already revealed herself as a very skillful comedian in "Galaxy Quest" (also co-starring with Alan Rickman), but here she hits the high note of her entire career, blasting all the crystals in the house.
She portrays and reproduces an autistic woman in every detail. So much so, that at times it becomes disturbing. It must have been the most difficult role she ever played. I am thinking about the research she had to undertake in order to slip in her role. I was astonished and very pleasantly surprised by her.
Carrie-Anne Moss, is the romantic interest of Alan Rickman in this movie and one may believe that this is it... Again wrong! The woman can sparkle with just a few nuances, without ever stealing the show, but just because of this, she becomes an important and integral figure to the plot, without whom the outcome would be difficult to foresee. Her harsh traits, so well known in the "Matrix" movies, can reveal an astonishing feminine beauty, as well as a smile and a laughter that can carry you away to seventh heaven.
Alan Rickman, the face of stone, or is it? I love him in everything he does. His wry, slashing, straight-face humor is simply unique and can be admired in so many movies. In "Snow Cake" he pushes the envelope further, always with very subtle touches, just like a few twitches of the eyes, a dismissing raising of an eyebrow, a touch of disappointment with the corner of the mouth. One has to closely watch the mechanics of his face to understand what a refined actor this man is.
What can I say of Emily Hampshire, except maybe that she will make a terrific career for herself along the years? It is not easy to be the center of a movie without being in it throughout the story. Yet, this is exactly what she manages to do. Her looks, the way she played her role, the entire aura that she manages to broadly paint before our own eyes of who she is and what she does, cannot so simply be forgotten. In fact, her ghost image keeps on coming back in our own minds every time someone mentions her. It's just like saying: "Don't think Elephant!" and keeping seeing the elephant in our minds.
I titled my review "The science of forgiveness... and understanding." and indeed that's the juice of this movie. It is much less a love story, than a human story, a story of human destinies clashing, bumping, crashing, landing, walking and ultimately explaining themselves through the art, or if you will, science of forgiveness and understanding. A lesson and a story we can all identify ourselves with.
OK. Now that I have spent my time spending my Summa Cum Laude to these gifted actors and actresses, as well to all the off-screen personnel, I can only tell you one thing, if you think you know a movie by the title, or because you have read about it, well, think again. One must watch them before being able to judge them. Some may even reveal themselves as gems of movie making.
"Snow Cake" can certainly be considered one of them.
The story of a German hard-headed woman through history...
At first I thought it would be another one of those "j'accuse" format movies about the German split between East and West, but while watching it more closely, I finally shifted gears and sat back and decided to be surprised.
Well, surprised I was. And what a surprise! This two-part movie revealed more than I thought.
It is the story of Western German woman traveling back to the GDR (German Democratic Republic), just after the fall of the Berlin wall (mark you, the movie was made in 1990 and tells the story of something that happened just a year earlier - hence the immediacy of the theme), in order to visit her dying mother.
While she does so, and through various stops along the way, memories and remembrances seem to pop up in her mind (which are represented by interpolated Black & White scenes at first, and in period Color later), resuming her entire life, from a "war child" - as the title calls her, Marleneken (from a children poem) -, to a restless adolescent, then to a self-conscious grown woman.
This is at least how the first part of the movie behaves.
The second part begins with her final arrival of the woman at her mother's house and the reunion with her sister and the rest of the family, only to be confronted with a handicapped mother, who seems to have recovered somewhat from a stroke, but whose dementia makes her completely estranged from the actual facts surrounding her.
The memories of "Marleneken" keep on popping up while she's visiting there and show us how much different her adventurous life in the Western part of Germany was, compared to the presumptions and suspicions of her own family, who assume she's just another wealthy "Westerner".
It is a fabulous pictorial of an entire life and despite its length, never boring or tedious. What is also wonderful in this picture, is that it is very human, showing us the inter-dependencies among people, both in the East and in the Western zone of Germany.
It is also a very touching story of an entire family thrown apart by historical events and how they learn to cope with them.
The director, Karin Brandauer, knows how to direct a very complex story and weave in a masterful blend of drama and humor side-by-side, just in the right doses as not to make it an obvious choice, but knows how to grow the interest in the life of the center character in such a way as not to make it either boring or tedious for the beholder.
The entire Cast is worth of Oscar performances and manages to convince us of their individual realities in such a way as to completely forget that we are dealing with actors.
The entire movie is involving and smooth in its development.
Personally, I think this is very well worth a second or even a third watching, but above all, it should royally be treated by being transferred in digital format onto either a set of 2 DVDs or on a Blu-Ray Disc.
Alas, nothing like this is available and I must wonder at the intelligence of some distributors who cannot see such a shiny gem lying around just under their feet.
So far (and we are in 2012), only a few TV stations have shown it. Is it because it was not produced by a major Studio? Your guess is as good as mine.
Fact is, that unless this comes burned onto a DVD or BD, no one will ever be able to really enjoy it around the world. With all the crap that gets a prompt digital commercialization these days, I wonder if there is not a tiny space for true works of creative art like this one? I hope in somebody reading this, being the "right" person for the task and able to appropriately act upon it.
Until then, watch out, the title of this gem is "Marleneken" and it was produced in 1990. Browse your local TV guide and see if someone is intelligent enough as to broadcast it in its entirety.
Good luck,... and good night!
Downton Abbey (2010)
Outstanding series, leaves you to want for more...
I remember the '70s and another Series which was cut more or less in the same parameters as this one, and that was "Usptairs, Downstairs".
This too was a masterpiece of a social study, of the times at the turn between the 19th and early 20th Century.
The only difference was that it was set in a City based household, while "Downton Abbey" is set in the very elegant English countryside.
Both series display the best of British Theatre and Cinema, in terms of production teams, actors, technicians and general staff.
It is absolutely to be considered high quality movie-making, even though meant for the home screen.
Everyone, but everyone, in this series, knows his business and does portray his own character with honesty and truth.
There is no dull moment, due to a skillful editing of scenes that are almost put together like in an elegant dance sequence.
It is a very intelligent show that explores every facet of Society as it was structured (so far, in season 1 and 2), before, during and right after World War I, and as people behaved and felt back on the Homefront, being so detached, yet totally involved with the destinies of those men sent abroad to fight.
It is no melodrama in the classic sense of the word. It is an honest depiction of what people "downstairs and upstairs" went through during those years. The conventions, the rigid rules, the traditions, all changing just in a ten year period and being uprooted and twisted by the new winds of war.
There is something for everybody here. You want a thrilling story? Check! You've got it. You want love and romance? Check! You've got it. You want a social drama? Check! You've got it. You want a war drama? Check! You've got it too.
It's a very human story of all characters on board of this static ship that is "Downton Abbey". As firm as the Rock of Gibraltar one might say. And yet, not so static after all... Lots is happening here, and this, day by day.
Just think of the nightmare to have a sudden dinner invitation. The kitchen is in uproar, serving hands are missing, the masters are nervous, and everything seems to be doomed from the beginning, but then, somehow, everything comes together beautifully, like by magic... Magic? Let's say blood and a lot of sweat...
I started this saying that it was addictive, and indeed it is. AFter an episode is over you immediately want to jump back in and watch the next to see how it goes on.
I only have Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD and I am already asking for the 3rd Season to appear, just to know what happens next.
I simply can't wait... I hope it pops up soon.
Tarzan the Ape Man (1981)
The most stupid Tarzan you'll ever experience...
There have been so-so Tarzans, then there have been dull Tarzans, and again, there were some very good ones, but this beats them all in being the worst transposition ever.
No wonder that the Rice Burroughs Foundations sued the Production.
Mind you, I always found that Tarzan was somewhat of a cartoon character out of a mediocre literature piece to start with, just like Superman and Batman of yesteryear.
There has only been one good movie about the subject and it was not a Hollywood production, but rather a French one by Francois Truffaut in "The Wild Child" (1970), which connects to Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book" and as here, with the Tarzan saga (in some aspects).
The rest is the fruit of their times and the mentalities of people living in those days. As such, they are all dated and show their age.
The only interesting factor in such movies are the locations (although in many cases just stock footage), which document a world gone by, if not animals that are almost extinct by now.
In John Derek's attempt at making an erotic art movie, all you get to see is bad acting (even by seasoned actors such as Richard Harris who really seems bored with the entire subject), if not truly amateurish romancing by Bo Derek which seems more lost than present throughout the movie.
The beau, the mighty Tarzan himself, in the person of Miles O'Keeffe, is just a bad excuse of the male sex symbol and thus reduced to the animal he seems to be.
It is a simplistic and very primitive view of the world he lives in. It is escapism in the purest form. But this does not excuse the stupidity that pervades the entire movie.
If Caligula has been turned in a soft porn movie by Bob Guccione, disappointing all the cast members that were hired in it, this Tarzan is not even that. It is just a feeble attempt to show off John Derek's wife attributes.
Pure exhibitionism, nothing else.
If a lesson can be learned, it is how not to make movies like these, ever.
It seems that John Derek never learned anything from masters like John Ford, Cecil B. DeMille or Orson Welles. Nor did he even consider going to school with John Gullermin or other directors of the Tarzan Series. He would probably have benefited of their experiences and decided to actually do a good movie.
Vanity was all he was interested in. How empty, how sad and how desperate a man must be to come to such a conclusion.
In my opinion, this in one of the most forgettable movies ever made and even if its traces were lost, it wouldn't be a terrible loss for humanity. Actually, it would be nice if it would disappear completely...
We already have enough good movies to care about, and this is certainly not one of them.
He likes me,... He likes me not...
I like it, but I don't like it...
Funny, but true. As a modern action movie it stands at par with other similar stuff that even Hollywood manages to produce (see "300").
Not so much for special visual effects, of which there are virtually none, except for the occasional battle scene, but rather for the silliness in language and story development.
It is a simple fun movie. One for popcorn chewing moviegoers.
Unpretentious and yet captivating in its silliness.
At times, while watching it, I was reminded of movies of yesteryear, such as Errol Flynn's escapades in "The Black Hawk" or more recently Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow's shenanigans in "Pirates of the Caribbean".
Costumes and settings are gorgeous though, and even the music is pleasant and appropriate for a movie of this type. But let's face it, it's just another cape and dagger movie, not really Russian history as it pretends to be.
Sure, there are hints to that (and many, but then again distributed freely throughout, without an actual chronology). All we get to know is that after Czar Boris Godunov's demise and that of his entire family (but one surviving Princess), there is a period of anarchy in Russia.
Add to this the ever-lasting "bad" Polish invader, riding in with very fanciful armor which sports applied feather wings (actually an accurate depiction, but just reserved for the Royal Polish Guards of that time and only worn during parades, never in battle - for obvious reasons).
True to history is the fact that after the fall of Czar Boris, Russia had been literally invaded by opportunistic tradesmen from everywhere in Europe. This has been simplified and centered around a central Hispanic figure, represented by a mercenary, and apparently, former Conquistador. The reality though, was different, and the so-called invasion was far less pervasive and intrusive. Europe simply needed new trade routes through Russia and did indeed send out emissaries for this purpose.
Yet then the entire story goes through a mystic development, even involving unicorns and a mysterious Hermit chained on a pole in the midst of a forest. It may be significant for Russians but for a foreign audience who may not know all the symbolic significances of this, it still remains a puzzle to the end of the movie.
As said, as an entertainment movie, not too bad, but as a pretense in historic fact it really leaks all over.
The actors, probably all unknown to the Western world are all competent, especially in secondary roles and do their job quite convincingly. The action scenes (battles, swordplay, fights, etc.) are all very well choreographed and at times, even spectacular.
But does this mishmash stand for something?
Not even as other reviewers have stated, as a propaganda movie for the Medvevev / Putin duo.
If it is true that this movie was pushed by the Kremlin itself, then the taste of this entity has considerably diminished since Stalin's times. It has become so very simplistic and populist (mind you, not popular) that I question whether they are still able to read Pushkin, Dostoevsky or even just Tolstoy, or whether they too have slumped into just reading pulp fiction if not bad cartoon strips.
Not wanting the invasion of Western culture in their Country, in that sense at least, is utterly wasted effort, since this movie proves without a doubt that they have already been "contaminated" by this bad taste kind of trendy movie.
What next? Japanese "Animes" to entertain the masses in Russia too?
At least Stalin had Eisenstein to propagate his views, and those movies have become true Classics.
But "1612"? Forgettable at best.
Being of Russian descent myself, I regret this popularization in Russian history. Why can't we have true historic, if not epic movies about the true history of Russia?
The theme alone, Boris Godunov, already made famous by a well-known Opera, should entice any film-maker deserving this definition, to make an extra effort and develop a true biopic around this figure. But not just limited to this period.
All we have are just excerpts from Russian history. We never get the whole picture. What about the first Viking invasion of Russia, when it was still unknown under that name? In fact Russia takes the name from the first Conquerors of the land, which the native population named "Rus" after their reddish scalps and beards.
What ever happened between Boris and Peter the Great. Who were the various successors, what did they do, what have they achieved, how long did they all rule? These are all still unanswered questions that no one ever bothered to tackle with in any serious form.
My simple question is: why?
Russians of today want to be respected from Westerners and be considered as equals. Well, then help us understand your history in its fullness and allow us to penetrate your culture more thoroughly. Not just through literature, or through music, but also producing movies that open a window upon a respectable (or even not so respectable) span of time and allow us to penetrate this world of the past, to better understand your recent past and even the present.
"1612" is not it. It deserves only 5 stars out of ten just (and I have decided to be particularly generous) for the effort of all those involved, who nevertheless did their job. But none of these stars are referred to the story, nor the quality of the picture, which in my own opinion, is below the average level of movie-making, which I know to be otherwise excellent.
Go back to film school and watch some true classics and you will see what I mean...
Sergei Eisenstein honored...
What can I say but that Eisenstein would be honored to see what this movie represents.
In fact, and in my own personal view, if Eisenstein were alive these days, he would probably have filmed this movie the same way.
The light and shadow play, evident homage to Sergei Eisenstein, the tenuous colors, always kept at very low intensity, not to make it to vivid or bright, but clearly reminiscent of the only color palette included in the Ballroom scene in "Ivan the Terrible", add all the glory and respect to the lineage of its two predecessors.
I would even go further. This can be considered the third chapter, or the third installment to "The Boyar's Plot" and "Ivan the Terrible" by Eisenstein, concluding thus the intended trilogy.
The actors are all excellent, particularly the two principal figures, Pyotr Mamonov as Ivan (whose looks strikingly resemble his predecessor, Nikolai Cherkasov), and as Philipp, the Orthodox Metropolitanate, Oleg Yankovskiy. One can guess that most of the cast comes from a true and solid theatrical background, but their theatrical skills are well put into use in this masterpiece of a movie.
The director, Pavel Semyonovich Lungin, is a worthy follower in the enormous footsteps of his legendary predecessor, Sergei Eisentein. His style and his technique are immaculate and show a sense of artistry uncommon these days.
I can only say a loud Bravo, to everyone involved with this movie, since they have given us the ideal ending to "Ivan the Terrible" and in such a way, as not to disrupt the continuity of the trilogy.
In the words of Pavel Lungin, it is a warning to the ever changing world we know today, not to relapse into the same mistakes of absolutism of the past, but work toward a more tolerant future.
I salute you, Pavel Semyonovich, and hope you will direct some more movies like these.
A brilliant version, far closer to Agatha Christie's novel...
I must disagree with the esteemed preceding reviewer.
This in my view, is the definitive "Murder on the Orient Express" (at least for a while).
Compared to the Sidney Lumet movie of 1974, it seems a little movie, perhaps lusterless, but in reality it is a masterpiece of its own.
Forget the Hollywood glamor and the glitz. Forget the famous names like Richard Widmark, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, Michael York and so on and so forth.
Conjecture for a moment the facts included in the novel. Would high profiled people, confined in a train for various days and nights really have behaved and dressed as in Lumet's version? Not really.
Think, if you please, what they had been there for. Once you understand the real purpose of this journey that these people had all the time (at least in the back of their minds), one would have behaved and acted exactly as depicted in this new Suchet/Poirot version.
Moreover, if one thoroughly understands the meaning of Agatha Christie's Novel, one can find more than one journey included in it.
It is not another one of her investigations, but rather a journey within people's innermost beliefs, including Poirot's and from within their souls come the solutions and resolutions.
It is more a psychological drama, a la Hitchcock, rather than your usual mystery thriller.
Granted, Poirot must investigate, but all he wanted at the beginning, was to return home to England, having already lived through other tragic events.
A question. What would you do, if you were enjoying a nice trip somewhere, and you were suddenly stuck among people who commit a terrible murder, not knowing them at all, and literally stranded with them somewhere, where there is no escape or exit possible?
Add to this, what indeed would have happened back then (in the thirties) on a massive train like this one, without electricity, nor heat and no water, and you will have this version of the movie.
The ending is a bit slow and I grant you that, but this is done on purpose, in order to show the deep conflict that is happening aboard such an otherwise glamorous train among all parties involved.
It is finally refreshing to see a truly mature approach to a subject so complex and difficult as finding true justice in this life.
In my personal view it is very well done. The cast, although not stellar, except maybe for Barbara Hershey (Boxcar Bertha, A World Apart, Shy People, The Natural), are all very competent and do their jobs with dignity and prowess. No fake emotions, no over-the-top acting. They just are.
David Suchet is far superior to Albert Finney (my apologies to him) in finding all the subtleties that make Poirot's inner self and in expressing them with a vast palette of colors in every part of his body, but particularly through his facial expressions (see the ending and tell me if I am right or wrong).
They are minute, very minute and one has really to make an effort to detect them, but once you are one with the character he plays, you cannot help but feel sadness for this great little funny man that is Poirot.
I can only recommend it. In the end, it is in the eye of the beholder. But those of you who love true drama, well-acted drama, might find that I am right after all.
Poirot: Three Act Tragedy (2010)
It's not Ustinov's version...
If you think you are dealing with the Peter Ustinov/Tony Curtis version, then you are completely wrong.
This is a much, much more mature approach to the Novel and a far more "tragic" one at that (pardon the pun).
In this one the part that Tony Curtis played, is covered by Martin Shaw (ITV "The Professionals", Roman Polanski's "Macbeth", and "Inspector George Gently"), an aging actor who wants to shine once more.
Yet, despite all the glamor and glitz in the theatrical society in which he dwells, a murder has been committed.
Enter his close friend Hercule Poirot, who abhors mystery plays, since he always knows their endings before time.
Despite being a bit more lighthearted than the other episodes in Season 12, there is a vague cloud of tragedy looming throughout.
I think you all know how the story ends, but differently from its Ustinov's predecessor, there is no tapping on Poirot's back and a "Jolly good show, old chap!" feeling, but rather a doubt, a terrible doubt. Could Poirot have been among the victims this time? A very valid question that leaves you pondering about how easy it is to be next on the list of a desperate murderer...
Gloomy, truly gloomy. But the performances given in this one are all truly excellent, charged with sincere emotionality and natural concern.
Poirot: Hallowe'en Party (2010)
Lady Macbeth at Halloween...
This is again an 89 minute episode (at least on the UK edition of the 12th Season).
Less thrilling than "The Clocks", it still holds up the pace.
It is simply a Halloween Story. In more ways than one. It opens during a small gathering of children on Halloween playing in a house chaperoned by practically all the adults involved in the story, except one.
During this Party someone dies, having just revealed to have seen a murder happen, that at first did not seem one. No one believes the story, except the murderer himself, hence the first victim.
Poirot gets summoned by his close friend and writer Ariadne Oliver (well played by Zoe Wanamaker) to find out who hides behind this murder.
While doing so, Poirot experiences other mysterious deaths on the grounds where he is investigating.
What really happened that night? Why had someone to die, that no one believed anyway? Why must others die as well?
As Poirot points out: "In my Country we don't make a mockery out of the dead, but light candles to them". This would seem the destiny of many characters in this story, but Poirot's gray cells, once again prove infallible and manage to solve a tragic chain of events...
Another rather dark episode, without a true happy ending, but life seldom has happy endings in store, when murders are committed...
Still a very entertaining and gripping Agatha Christie's adaptation, and David Suchet to crown it all.
A brief journey through the history of the Orient Express... and Poirot...
This documentary can be found on the "Murder on the Orient Express" DVD, part of Season 12 of the series, just released in the UK as Collection 8 (4 DVD set).
It is an amusing and very entertaining visit of, and journey with the legendary "Orient Express" seen through the eyes of David Suchet himself.
He enjoys this immensely and it shows. When invited to conduct one of the locomotives, he seems to genuinely turn into a child filled with dreams.
We are shown the train, introduced to a couple of guests and the train staff, all chaperoned by Suchet himself.
We are also reminded of the historic importance that it had throughout a Century, but most importantly, we are referred to Agatha Christie's journey to Istanbul, and how she came to be inspired to write her famous novel.
We have already had a documentary about the "Orient Express", but this one is a very special look at this train, befitting the talents of an actor such as David Suchet.
My compliments Mr. Suchet and thank you for the ride...
Poirot: The Clocks (2009)
Two mysteries crammed into one...
I own the British ITV Collection 8 (which is nothing else than the collection of episodes of Season 12 divided onto 4 DVDs and lasting 89 minutes each).
In "The Clocks", which has been excellently directed by Charles Palmer, we are being served with a double mystery, but this is only revealed toward the very end of the episode.
It is so well concocted that we are led to think that this is a normal Poirot's "whodunnit" with your usual murder, but wait... Not that easy this time.
The episode starts in 1938 at Dover Castle, in a Secret Base set up for MI6. It all starts there. At first one is convinced to be watching a normal Spy Thriller, but then something happens, that changes the facts completely and here come "The Clocks" to the foreground as the main subject of the Mystery.
I stop here, since it would really be a crime to reveal the plot. Suffice it to say that all the cast plays their relative roles at their best and seem very natural in this setting.
David Suchet cannot be judged anymore. Every time he slips into Poirot, he simply is Poirot.
It is a very dark tale, not as funny as many other previous ones, but because of this, it gains in suspense and grittiness. The pace is adequate for such a Mystery/Thriller, but make no mistake, you will have to keep your eyes and ears well open, because nothing is what it seems to be in this one.
Aces High (1976)
Based on "Journey's End", lacks its intensity and drama...
Funny that I find myself forced to review this movie, but here I am.
I am reviewing it, because just recently, I have had the chance to witness the revival of R.C. Sheriff's play "Journey's End" on stage in New York, at the Belasco Theatre, starring Hugh Darcy, Boyd Gaines, Jefferson Mays and others, as well as being masterfully directed by David Grindley.
I left the theater shattered. I am not exaggerating, I was flabbergasted. After almost two and a half hours of a recreated and very claustrophobic depiction of soldier's life in the trenches of the Somme (I speculate), during World War One, brought to life vividly, by everyone involved, I came out of the theater with the shakes.
Mind you, I am not easily shocked, nor am I too sensitive. I am a stage actor and a director myself, so I know the buttons being pressed to achieve certain effects, both emotionally, as well as psychologically.
But what I had just witnessed, came so much to life, that I had chills in my spine as I left.
None of these emotions came to life, while watching "Aces High", the movie based on this play and even adapted for the screen, in cooperation with R.C. Sheriff himself, shortly before he died.
The screen adaptation takes place in the skies over France. So, gone is the claustrophobic ambiance to start with.
The only plus of the movie, are the aerial battle scenes, which look dated in their special effects, compared to today's standards, but still very valid in the flying tactics adopted on screen.
Granted there had been a couple of screen adaptations of "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque, which takes place in trenches, and not in the sky, but that was the "German" vision on things, if one would like to be picky on such things.
"Journey's End" is just the other side of the medal, and would have made it into a great movie, if they had left it alone and intact.
The transfer on DVD is poor, even though in Widescreen and adapted for 16:9 TV screens, the quality of the film itself is that of a movie theater. Nothing more, nothing less. It sports various defects, such as minor scratches and dots, although the copy, for the rest, is clean.
If you want another WWI movie in your collection, especially for those who love and enjoy to see aerial battles among old-timers, then this is a picture for you. But I rather would suggest "Von Richthofen and Brown" as an alternative, although that too, is a movie filled with inaccuracies.
For the rest of you, who love good acting and drama, I would leave this one out. Buy the play. Go watch the play, if you have the chance to get a decent revival of it near you, but keep off this would-be adaptation.
It is an anti-war movie, granted, but the weakest I have ever seen in my lifetime ever.
The presence of actors such as Trevor Howard, Ray Milland, Richard Johnson and John Gielgud, is just a bluff, since they are just seen in very weak and very brief cameo roles throughout the movie.
McDowell, the very talented Christopher Plummer, Simon Ward and Peter Firth, all deliver very weak performances, not due to their lack of skills, but rather due to lack of true and solid direction.
There are too many gaps in it, and as said before, it drags itself to the dubious end. Dubious because in the original play, none of the men we come to know and sympathize with, stay alive. They are all killed in a fatal and futile mission. In the movie they all die, except Malcolm McDowell, who manages somehow to stay alive another day, being the wing commander of the unlucky bunch, just to receive another three pilots to fly and die for another lost cause.
The end of the play leaves a bare stage in total darkness. You just hear the cannons roar, the machine guns rattle, and grenade impacts throughout the theater. Then, suddenly, total peace and silence. The curtain comes up. Lights. And here they all are. Lined up, standing straight and rigid. Obedient corpses...
Far more interesting and far more shocking than "Aces High" finale, which is also dragged by the hair.
It is up to you to judge.
For me, if I had the money and the contacts to do so, I would take the play and develop it, the way it was meant. Adding here and there some action scene in the field, just to visualize the "outer" horror and slaughter going on in the "vasty fields of France", around the men involved, but then, just strictly concentrating on what is going on, in that tiny "shack" at the edge of sanity and the world...
Want such a movie?
Then ask for it.
This is not it.
Space or Hyperspace? This is the Answer...
Also known as "Space", this is a masterpiece of a documentary. It is for all ages and explains in simple terms, the origins of our universe and our future in space, passing through every kind of known and unknown phenomenon, here on Earth or elsewhere.
Sam Neill ("Event Horizon", "Jurassic Park", "Merlin") takes you by the hand and through a holographic projector "launches" you into an adventure that spans various billions of years.
BBC has outdone itself in this documentary.
"Cosmos", hosted by Carl Sagan, was a unique milestone in explaining the Universe. It also was a masterpiece in its genre. "Hyperspace" is nothing else than its natural successor.
I loved every minute of it and I kept it running and running in my DVD player until I almost memorized the data.
The 3D recreations of galaxies, stars, planets and stellar phenomena are hauntingly realistic and offer a firework of the highest CGI design I have ever witnessed in a documentary of this sort.
Sam Neill is a fascinating, talented and multi-faceted actor and could manage to convince you to walk on water. With his suave and debonnaire way, he manages to explain science in such a way, that even the most unaware person would accept and understand.
All in all, if you are a documentary collector, or simply somebody who loves astronomy and space travel, you will have to own it.
But careful! If you watch it once, you may wish to watch it again. It is highly addictive. Consult a doctor for any counter-indication.
Madame Sousatzka (1988)
A wonderful movie from the heart.
John Schlesinger became famous as a polemic and very socially oriented director, but this is his Masterpiece of all times. It is not a monumental movie and it is not a box-office smashing hit.
No. This is a far superior work of artistry, worked and reworked from the guts and above all, from the heart.
The story is very skillfully developed and has plot twists and turns as the classical masterpieces interpreted in this movie.
Yes, because it is a tale of two cultures: the Western and the Eastern. The western side is taken by a (Russian?) piano teacher, living in London (masterfully played by a magnificent Shirley MacLaine) and the Eastern is represented by a would-be and reticent Hindi piano student.
Not only does Schlesinger tell us the story of the two and their passions and strives in life, but also gives us a whole palette of undertones in quite different social worlds.
Despite its length (slightly over two hours) the movie has never a dull moment or a static conversation. Emotions are fully and honestly expressed by all involved and never for a moment, one can feel he is watching a movie here.
Quite the contrary. All the characters play their parts so much to the hilt, that it "sucks" us in and doesn't let loose until the end credits roll.
I am not an emotional person generally, and many "tearjerkers" only make me crack up, so academic they are, but when I watched this movie for the first time in New York City at the Carnegie Odeon Movie Theater, I must admit I came out in tears and had to make an effort not to be noticed for that.
Not that it is particularly sad, quite the contrary. Despite some very dramatic moments, it is truly a wonderful comedy. No the sadness comes out from the realism contained in the lives of the characters, in which we all could find similarities.
The dreams, the passions, the disappointments, the crime and punishment and finally, the absolute redemption are all very important factors in this excellent movie.
The music world is only a mask to show us a much deeper view on society as such. But the film is conducted by Schlesinger (the old fox) as an orchestra conductor, directing a symphony by Beethoven.
His baton is light but never loses out on a note. His conducting is comparable to the mastery of Herbert von Karajan. The only difference is that he waltzes with a camera.
If you want to discover a different movie from the same-o, same-o, then this is an absolute must see.
I personally laughed, cried, got concerned and was worried, was uncomfortable, then immediately relieved by pleasant surprises throughout the entire movie, but above all, it made me think about the similarities with my own world and this is probably why I learned to love this tiny masterpiece.
I just own the VHS version, but would like to plea the producers of the movie (Universal was the distributor, but the movie was a Cineplex/Odeon production) and all those who are involved in DVD production to finally decide to release a pristine copy, with a decent digital sound and a crisp image.
Of all the movies around, this one surely would merit an extra effort to digitalize it and therefore preserve it for posterity.
I can only recommend it. This movie is for all, although some scenes may be a bit difficult to understand by younger audiences, without an adult presence. But in reality, this is a naive suggestion, since it has to be watched by the entire family on a quiet movie evening around the living room.
You need some concentration though, to watch it. It is not a popcorn and beer movie. This is a movie for those who love to think.
The masterpiece trilogy ends here...
Of all Star Trek movies, "The Wrath of Khan", must be the most successful of them all, forgetting perhaps that this movie has an open ending, leading to "The Search for Spock" and ending the epic tale with the third act, which is the present one, "The Voyage Home". You simply cannot extrapolate the one from the other, unless you want an incomplete story.
"The Voyage Home" is different from the two preceding ones, which were charged with drama and pathos. This is comedic in scope and shows the crew of the USS Enterprise (aboard a Klingon vessel), traveling back in time to San Francisco in 1986, in order to capture two humpback whales and therefore save the Federation from an imminent threat of annihilation by an alien probe.
How would you feel as a far advanced human being, living in the 23rd Century, if you had to face the social chaos of the mid-1980s? This is how Cpt. Kirk, Spock, "Bones" and all the rest of the gang, landing on Earth, feel.
Like the preceding versions, including "The Motion Picture - Director's Cut" DVD, this too is crammed with tons of extras.
What I do not understand is, why these newer versions, which all come in a two-disc package cost less then the single disc versions.
If you want a sound advice and if you love the movie series, wait until Paramount dishes them all up in a Special Edition or Director's Cut version. It's well worth it. You pay less. Receive more for the money, including a better picture and sound remix, and will always have your favorite characters at home with you, telling you why and how they decided to appear in the movie you are watching.
Paramount certainly hit the target.
"The Voyage Home" is great fun for the entire family and is also the most "ecologically"-oriented one of them all. I can only recommend it, but don't forget the other two preceding ones, they are an integral complement to this one...
The Right Stuff (1983)
far out in space, for the first time...
I always loved anything connected to science fact and science fiction and this movie is no exception.
I already owned the Laserdisc version of it, but the DVD is even better.
I love this movie, but I must consider the interest of the public and I honestly cannot say that this is one for the vast public.
The theme alone is a difficult one and deals with the history of the Space Age, as it began from an American perspective, and by telling the story of the astronauts involved in the Mercury project.
Being very long, it might not fit the modern view of a quick-fix movie. This one has to be watched as if your were watching "JFK" or "Gettysburg", therefore with the outmost attention.
It has spectacular recreations of the actual launches, combined with more private moments, involving the astronauts, their loved ones and those who trained them.
This is not Science Fiction and it is not an Adventure movie, this is truly a history lesson about how the Space Race got started, how, with whom and why.
It is a very thoroughly researched movie, although it is not to be confused with a documentary. It is an intelligent movie, with good dialogues, good character recreations, with humor and moments of sadness and tragedy. The heroism of the first astronauts is not represented by their fabulous deeds, but rather by the sacrifices they had to make, in order to be successful.
If you can bare to sit in front of your TV for 3 hours and 15 minutes without unnecessary interruptions, then this documentation may make it clear why men and women risk so much in going "where no one has gone before".
But, as I stated before, this is not an easy going movie and is reserved for all those who want to enjoy a good movie in peace.
I would recommend its showing in every school of the United States, and why not, also throughout the world. Many children would then really appreciate what the conquest of space is all about.
Damnation Alley (1977)
"On the Beach" on firm ground...
Perhaps not many of you have noticed that this movie is a "land-based" version of a previous film, starring Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner, called "On the Beach" (1959). There too, we have a post-nuclear theme, in which all life on Earth has been wiped off the face of the planet, only to leave a few "desperados" alive, both on board of a U.S. submarine and on the shores, somewhere near Australia (the last bastion of life... but for how long?). There too, we have a signal emitted from somewhere, in the northern hemisphere... Yet, despite all similarities, this movie is a kind of updated version, with fine actors at the helm (although not of the caliber of said actors above) and a very interesting story development.
The difference is that this is less a drama-oriented movie and more an action-adventure-thriller oriented working of the subject.
If one remembers the period in which this movie was made (late seventies), baring in mind that this was a time of overblown "super-spectacular" apocalyptic, "end-of-the-world"-like flicks, such as "Earthquake", "The Towering Inferno" and "The Swarm" (probably the last and worst of such movies), one can say that this one differs considerably in both quality and story-development.
I personally like this little "what if" effort. No big special effects, except for some stock footage of nuclear explosions, some pyrotechnics and varied color flavors in the sky (supposed to represent the variations in the Earth's atmosphere).
Sometimes, for a movie to be good, you simply don't need millions, just simply a solid story and fine acting. This is certainly a film that makes you think and entertains at the same time.
My only regret is that no one has yet thought of transferring it on DVD and offer it to us in a more decent and widescreen version. The Pan and Scan one loses out on many "strange" environments recreated for this movie. Actually, I wouldn't even call it Pan and Scan, since in many scenes, one just watches nose to nose conversations.
My only hope is that someone at 20th Century-Fox, or at Anchor Bay reads this and may come to the decision to restore it in its original format and deliver a more accurate and complete vision of apocalyptic terror on screen...
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Codename: Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!, the best recreation ever...
Some of you younger movie-goers, may only know of "Pearl Harbor".
If you want to have the actual story of what "really" happened on December 1941, then you have to go back to this movie made in 1970.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a vision from both sides of the coin, not just the American one.
"Pearl Harbor" is more a love story in its context and has only one vision, the unilateral and unnecessary patriotic American one. This is not history as it should be told.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" was the codename given by the Japanese fleet to its carrier pilots to start the attack on Pearl Harbor.
This is far less a shooting war movie, than an actual historic recreation of facts happening on a certain month, week, day and moment in 1941.
Everything is told, from the bureaucracy involved (slow at that, as usual), to the actual military decisions on both sides and on the ground.
The attack, when it comes, is a majestic recreation that, once watched side by side with the actual documentary footage available, makes you realize that were it in black & white, one could not distinguish its differences. That's how accurate it is!
Expenses were not spared at all in doing this recreation. The aircraft used are all faithful reconstructions (a rarity!).
All the actors involved (American and Japanese) have played their roles with outmost accuracy and sense of drama.
The watcher is taken in and left wondering "what next", even if he already knows the story. Not a moment passes in boredom.
This is another fine movie I would recommend for schools and war museums.
It is a movie for thinkers, not warmungers, and it is certainly not one for those who always love to wave flags around.
In other words, this is history, told at its best.