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The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
A failed attempt to switch up an old story
The acting is fine, the costumes are fine and the dialogue is fine... This is one of those films that's not so bad that it becomes good again, and it's not good enough to be a classic. It's just a middling film from early 1960's Hammer horror.
On one hand, the film was trying to switch things up. Mr. Hyde has so often been depicted as an ugly monster in other films (see the 1920, 1931 and 1941 adaptions for good examples). Instead, this film portrays Hyde as a seemingly suave gentleman with an evil heart; a wolf in sheep's clothing, essentially.
The premise falls short because the film does not truly emphasize how terribly Hyde has behaved. He drinks and carouses, but the vast majority is off screen. When Jekyll laments there is no depth of depravity that will satisfy Jekyll, it's hard to believe because he doesn't seen to have yet pushed the boundaries very far. It's not until late in the movie when Hyde does truly horrible things.
The best moments of the film are when Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde struggle against one another while in the same body, even if Jekyll's facial hair looks painfully fake from the movie's first shot.
A Fascinating Journey into Madness
This documentary is an engrossing story about unconventional talent, young ambition and the perils of big-budget film making. I recommend watching The Island of Doctor Moreau (1996) before viewing this film. It will give things context, but it's also an example of a so-bad-it's-fun movie.
The majority of the documentary is an exercise in sharing war stories from a film set plagued with problems. The strangest events are recalled and people weigh in on how things went so wrong and how the trouble could have been prevented, or at least lessened. There is a good number of interviewees and they range from producers to actors to crew members. Director Richard Stanley, of course, takes center stage.
Although it has flaws, such as failing to mention David Thewlis, this is definitely a good watch for fans of similar documentaries like Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991), Lost in La Mancha (2002) and Jodorowsky's Dune (2013).
Autoluminescent - Interesting, Good, but not Great
Rowland S. Howard is depicted as a bold, passionate, innovative and opinionated guitarist. The film covers quite a bit of his early career in Australia, London and Berlin with The Boys Next Door / The Birthday Party. Nearly the first half of the film is dedicated to this period.
The rest of the film chronicles his career and personal life, skipping over certain projects but giving a general picture of his music's evolution. There is no shortage of interviews, which include Nick Cave, Mick Harvey and Howard, himself. Many more valuable view points come from his siblings, ex-lovers, old friends and fellow musicians.
I would say this film suffers mostly from occasional vagueness, a loose time line and a lack of photos and footage from certain periods in Howard's life. Overall it's an interesting and fairly insightful watch for those familiar with his music and fans of The Birthday Party. However, I can't guarantee that it will entertain the casual viewer.
A Dark, Hopeful, and Beautiful Coming-of-Age Story
This is a film with so much personality. It has a great, mythical quality and contains tonal references to Huckleberry Finn, Noir and Westerns. The main characters deal with love, heartbreak, faith in others, the arbitrary nature of justice and continuing hope for a better future. I also enjoyed it because the story takes place in an area of America with which I'm really unfamiliar - Arkansas.
The movie starts strong, lags a little in the middle, but then finishes wonderfully. Just about everyone is well cast, from the leads to the bad guys to the minor characters; although I was not entirely thrilled with Reese Witherspoon's performance. However, I especially loved the two boys - Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland - who were at the story's heart.
All in all, I highly recommend seeing this one.
My Week with Marilyn (2011)
Good Acting and Soul, but Flawed
I loved the first part of this film because it showed some of the inner workings of the film industry and many things about it haven't changed. As the child of parents who worked on film and TV for years, I laughed out loud at many of the little moments that reminded me of Mom and Dad's stories - things like unions, acting styles and hierarchies within the cast and crew.
The second part of the film was more about the friction and romances between the leads. The acting was wonderful, but the story felt like it lacked a clear climax and the second act dragged. The dialogue is far better written and delivered than the story's structure.
Production values include good period costumes, lovely cinematography and some of England's architecture. The biggest drawback would be the in-movie movie, which is limited to one set. The Prince and the Show Girl took place in multiple locations. I bet this was due to a low budget.
The cast is the saving grace. Kenneth Branagh, Judy Dench and Michelle Williams are particularly wonderful. What makes them so good is that they all, at the very least, vaguely resemble the people they're portraying and whole-heartedly commit to the performances.
The film's not a masterpiece , but I recommend it.
Soylent Green (1973)
Soylent Green has an Expiration Date
Soylent Green may have played more powerfully when released in '73, but it doesn't stand up to other classic sci-fi films now days. Blade Runner (1982), the first Star Wars Trilogy and Metropolis (1927), to name a few, have aged far better than Soylent Green.
This movie is in the same class with Fahrenheit 451 (1966), in which the film too closely resembles the year it was produced and doesn't try hard enough to imagine what may change in everyday society in the coming years. Soylent Green also suffers from having too little story to fill out a 90 minute running time, which causes it to occasionally drag as slowly as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Heston is his normal, tough-as-nail self as he intimidates, fights and loves his way to the mystery's conclusion. Over all, the relationships and personalities of the characters are not deeply explored and that hurts the film further. How can you care about the characters' troubles if you don't care about them at people in the first place?
Soylent Green is famous for its ending, which is still quoted and spoofed in today's entertainment. But that chilling reveal is what has kept the movie in the public mind and the rest of the film just doesn't do the dark concept justice. I recommend reading a one page synopsis or finding a clip of the famous ending scene. To sit through this movie, unless you're a film student, isn't really a good use of time.