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Au revoir les enfants (1987)
A Beautiful Tragedy
I'm writing this review primarily as a means to decompress after just finishing the film. First off, the film was beautiful, probably one of Louis Malle's most beautiful films and has just toppled "Murmur of the Heart" as my favorite Louis Malle film. The film made me weep openly and unabashedly in front of my roommates (perhaps I'd be embarrassed if they weren't also weeping)and I am weeping still as I write this. I'm too emotional to even think of anything else to say other than it is an amazing film and utterly timeless. Whether or not you are Louis Malle fan, I urge you to watch this film, it is important and very much a masterpiece.
The River (1951)
An Overrated Work by a Genius
We can all agree on two things at least: 1) Renoir is a genius and 2) This film has some stunning visuals with excellent uses of color etc. Those two things being said, I think - no I honestly believe - that this film has received so high a rating here on IMDb simply because it is by Renoir, and people fear that if they express distaste in Renoir, they make themselves appear foolish and uncultured. Thus, this film has an unjustly high rating. I only rated it as high as I did because of the stunning visuals, but the fact of the matter is even a master like Renoir can produce a dud. He's not the only one; Hitchcock directed Under Capricorn, Faulkner penned Mosquitoes, and Gary Oldman allows himself to be used in countless terrible movies - as Vonnegut says: "So it goes." The sad fact is that this film falls flat on glorious Technicolor face. The acting is wooden to the point of being nonexistent and the screenplay is horrible to the point of being cacophonous. I do not feel that it deserves the distinction of a Criterion release as a so-called "Important Classic Film" and I recommend, even as a personal fan of Renoir, that you pass on this one.
Queer as Folk (2000)
Charming, Heart-Warming, Sweet, Funny and...OK yeah, Pretty Steamy
Queer as Folk bears distinction for a variety of reasons. The show as a whole is incredibly charming and wonderfully acted with characters that are not to be forgotten. It is emotional, tragic at moments, and centers on one of the few couples I have ever found myself desperately wanting to see persevere and last it out. It's a pretty good depiction of gay life as well, with it's variety of facets represented. One of the characters that deserves the most applause is that of Justin who starts out as and immature child but whom grows into one of the most fantastically developed characters of the series and proves himself ultimately to be a hero and probably television's first out and proud teen role model. It's a damn good show but also it's an important show and in reality, one of a kind. The only problem I had with it is that it made me cry too much, but really that's a good thing too. And yes...it's very hot and that certainly counts for something.
All I Can Say Is That It Was Wonderful
I read the novel in high school and as of now, I am in my freshman year of college. Having loved it when I read the book, I felt some trepidation about the movie but went to see it all the same. The film is incredible; all of the actors did a wonderful job with Ezra Miller as a highlight. Patrick is one of the most believable gay characters ever created and being a gay teenager about his age, it was wonderful for there to finally be a character out there for me to really connect with. Miller nails his performance. Lehrman was also wonderful as Charlie paired with an even better Emma Watson as his damaged heart-throb. The whole movie was wonderful, if not wholly perfect, and I definitely recommend it. There can probably also be something gained by watching it not long after high school. No one really likes high school, but this movie set me to viewing high school memories through rose colored glasses.
Barry Lyndon (1975)
A Grossly Unacknowledged Masterpiece
Having been a great fan of Kubrick's meager but stunning output (it's quality, not quantity) I of course resolved to see all of his films. Barry Lyndon was one that I had not heard of before and from inquiries, found that few people had heard of it either. Not knowing it that was I good or bad thing, I picked up the film and gave it a watch. What I found was one of the few films I have ever given a perfect rank. The film grants sumptuous viewing from start to finish with perfectly framed and elegant shots, stunning costumes and fine acting. Know that this is not like any other Kubrick (which is partly why I believe it's relatively looked over), but that his trademark brilliance is there. His perfectionism permeates the film and of course creates the only possible outcome - something perfect. In spite of none of the characters being necessarily likable (there are anti-heroes and villains abound) they resonate greatly, bringing much emotion to the film. The scenery also is beautiful; even in the film's slowest moments one can not pull one's eyes from the screen. Kubrick has certainly created a work of brilliance in this one and it may perhaps be one of his best films. If you do enjoy Kubrick's body of work, be sure and find yourself a copy. You will not regret it. 10/10.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson's latest delivers a beautiful and sweet depiction of first love. The film, with its whimsical humor conveys the tale of twelve-year- old lovers Sam and Suzy perfectly. The children who deliver great performances as youngsters bumbling through their first romance are surrounded by a fantastic cast which includes Frances McDormand, Bill Murray (whom is always best directed by Anderson), Harvey Keitel, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton as Social Services. I have heard many complaints of the kissing scene which has already had much buzz of discomfort, but in reality the scene is very touching and sweet in its awkward innocence. This film, which admittedly is a tale of puppy love, is beautiful, charming, and simply very sweet. It is most certainly Mr. Anderson's best work to date and it is a must see! My rating 10/10
A Fierce and Searing Media Satire
Perhaps one of the most brilliant works of satire to appear since Voltaire's Candide, this film points a damning finger at the treachery of the television industry. Faye Dunaway stars in her fabulous Oscar- winning performance as Diana, a calculating TV exec who's only concern is ratings, ratings, ratings who, without any consideration, exploits a hapless news anchor suffering from a mental breakdown. The film features a variety of other stunning performances, two of which rightfully received Oscars, as a variety of excellently painted characters. While also managing to be blackly funny, this film also shows the vastly negative effects of television on the human condition, most accurately defined in one the film's many classic lines: "Television is not the truth! Television is a Goddamned amusement park!" But the true brilliance of the film is the fact that in spite of the film being sternly rooted in the 70s era, it is still relevant today - perhaps even more so as corporation conglomerates continue to gobble up all that we know. But the thing to remember is: While yes it is satire and it is far more over-the-top than real life, it carries with it a striking message. It carries with it the message that television is bad, plain and simple, a fact that now more than ever we need to be reminded of. This film very well hits the mark it aims for and while it does suffer at times from being hilariously unbelievable, this too allows it to hit it's mark. In short, this is a fine film - but be careful, it may have you screaming: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!". My rating 8/10
A Cinematic Slug to the Gut
Of the films this reviewer has seen (and that is quite a lot) this film is one of the select few to come as near to cinematic excellence as possible. From the first shot to the infamous final line, you belong to Polanski; in his hands for the whole ride - and those hands, I think it safe to say, are the hands of a master. The film features a phenomenal cast with Jack Nicholson as Jake Gittes, the beautiful Faye Dunaway as femme fatale Evelyn Mulwray and the excellent director John Huston in an acting role as one of the most horrifying villains in the history of cinema: Noah Cross. Now this is one of those films where little of the plot can be revealed because it's all just far too complicated BUT it's also a film you aren't likely to ever forget. Ever. With beautiful cinematography, a heart- pounding story line, fantastic acting and one of the most atrociously heart-rending finales this reviewer has ever seen, this film is an absolute must. My rating 10/10
The Horror of Existentialism
Kaneto Shindo's Onibaba is a rich and subtle horror film well deserving of its praise and its standing within the Criterion Collection. Gore- fest lovers beware however, it IS a film of slow build-up with the terror so subtly hidden that the film's effect does not truly hit it's mark until the film is finished. That being said, the entire film is stunning, the beautiful black and white cinematography works excellently with the stark, rural surrounding - an eerie, windswept marsh. I do not wish to say much of the plot as I feel that to know much of the story at all can only result in ruining the film's impact, but I'll let it be said that this is a film which features almost macabre existentialist themes and the basic karmic occurrence of "just desserts" when a trio of unlikable feudal-age Japanese peasants are pitted against one another in a bitter struggle. The acting is superb and the characters are all so skillfully represented. It does have a few flaws but they are minor and do not at all distract from the film's excellence. It is definitely and unusual and fascinating film and I say it is certainly worth a watch. I rate it 9/10