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La línea del cielo (1984)
A sad-yet-funny loss of nerve
"Skyline" is the story of Gustavo, a young Spanish photographer who arrives in NYC in the mid-80s planning on being taken on the staff of "Life," "Newsweek," or some other fabulous position. He does have a few friends in NYC, and they sympathize with him, get him invited to parties and to meet agents, and he generally has a pretty decent setup going for him. But, Ah! Love becomes a hassle for a man whose machismo is hammered by his idiot-level English. He does succeed in having a couple of dates, but language remains his stumbling block (not to mention the fact that his photos of NYC are tired, old, clichéd images). As time goes by and nothing seems to be successful for Gustavo, he becomes increasingly depressed and discouraged. But there's hope for Gustavohe just has to pick up the phone.
Force of Evil (1948)
Not much of a noir
All the bad guys sneer. All the good guys agonize. And, true to his status in this cookie cutter movie, John Garfield alternates sneers and agony. Good camera-work and a few well- done pieces (I must give credit to the kidnapping/murder scene) do not a film noir make. In true noir, *everybody* is guilty until proved innocent. In "Force of Evil," the schematic plot gives us a cornball melodrama in place of gritty "realism." I'm not a huge fan of GarfieldI can take him or leave himand here, wearing his angst on his sleeve, I'll leave him. The whole plot turns on brotherly love
huh? The innocent young thing was cute, but she was on display way more than her part deserved. Tearing the cover off the numbers racket, ironic in these days of state-sponsored lotteries, just does not set my pulse racing. I'll give them a few nice shots, but almost any second-line director could have done this film just as well. If this is your idea of noir, you have some (very pleasurable) learning to do.
The Postman (1997)
Just one question
I know this is one of the worst films ever. Boy, do I know that. I also know that by the 87th time you hear the "triumphant theme," you'll be thinking the same thing. So don't do it to yourself. Even if it's only trimming your fingernails, you'll have a lot more fun than watching this crime of a movie. But one question still remains: Why do all the people in "The Postman" cut the fingers off their gloves? Here in Frostbite Falls, I can tell you that is not something I would recommend to anyone. That's what "The Postman" left with me. How on earth did this piece of poop get a 5? What do you have to do to fail on IMDb? Okay, I'd rather see this film than "Battlefield Earth," but give me "Gigli" any day.
A sad fate for a minor masterpiece
After a long search, I found "Toni" on DVD from Shanghai, China. The price was reasonable and so I bought. Unfortunately, the subtitling was also done in Shanghai. This leads to such subtitles as "An unfortunate elephant violates Se perfume w." About three-quarters of the way through, the picture begins to come apart electronically, and becomes practically incomprehensible. Given all the problems with this disc, I am still glad I had the chance to once more see Renoir's simple, beautiful masterpiece. The subtle distinctions in lighting (especially outdoors), the small but telling camera moves, the reserved yet powerful performances all show the hand of a master at work. Visconti may have been inspired from working on this film, but his films were always pedal-to-the-metal, all-out mellers. Renoir takes a story that's as old as the hills and gives it all of his love, respect and considerable talent.
Riri Shushu no subete (2001)
Pretty, ugly pretty ugly
AALCC informs us that 14-year-olds can be pretty obnoxious and vicious. To those who don't know that, the film performs a public service. Otherwise, it's a lot of flashy videography with little or no reason for being. I will allow that the camera-work is sometimes striking, but also that it can be madly self-indulgent at other times. The actors occupy screen space and screen time, but do not compute as compelling human beings. I suppose the e-mail that flashes across the screen throughout means that you have to figure out which character has which moniker, but I simply couldn't tell enough differences to do so, and really didn't care anyway.
Touch of Evil (1958)
Hang onto your laserdisc!
because the laserdisc contains the nasty, wicked Producer's Cut with Henry Mancini's incredible score. The restored version has a few bars of the Mancini score coming out of a car radio in one shot. That's a shame, because the music is simply perfect for the film. I know Welles wanted only ambient sounds for "Touch" and I know he wanted the credits at the end so everyone could sit back and admire his opening crane shot. But his producers knew better, and created a taut, thrilling, fantastic film.
The ideal solution would be a Criterion-like release offering both the Nasty version and the True one. I can tell you which one I would watch.
Repeated viewings haven't diminished this film's touching perfection
After watching a not-too-hot film today, I pulled down "Antonia's Line" and once again fell into the happy trance I always get while watching this film. The other commentators have it right. "Antonia's Line" is a lovely, deeply moving fairy tale of four generations of strong, gentle women. The unusual quality of these women is that while (most of) them like men and sex, they don't become obsessed with either. And fellas, if you can't handle that it's your problem.
The real reason I'm writing is about the "If You Liked This Film" recommendation. "Kill Bill"??? Who picked out that as a companion piece???
Frau im Mond (1929)
There's a nice little film wandering around somewhere
It's about 40 years since the last manned flight left the moon, and 40 years before that "Woman in the Moon" hit the silver screen. So we can admire the prescience of Willy and Werner in their multi-stage rocket and their depiction of zero gravity. But I struggled with the most non-ergometric controls ever engineered, the atmosphere of the moon, the presence of bubbling springs of water, and a divining rod(!?) used to find gold. The film also gets into trouble with its many and varied subplotsthe two-men-in-love-with-the-same-woman subplot, the speculators-cornering-the-gold-market subplot, the evil-spy-network subplot, the cute-kid-stowaway subplot
It makes for a long film (my DVD comes in at 149 minutes) and a not very interesting one. The expressionist acting style wears after a while, and the slow-moving plot doesn't help matters. I loved the rocket launch (done by Oskar Fischenger, whose short animation films you should check out), and am able to put up with a fair amount of hokum in the name of entertainment. But this isn't one of Lang's best efforts.
Don Juan (1926)
Just how DID they record the orchestra?
I enjoyed "Don Juan" as the first feature-length film with a soundtrack, but I just can't see how the sound could have been recorded simultaneously with the film. There's simply too many cuts, and the sound is too closely in sync, for it to be possible that the orchestra could play while filming was going on. It must have been dubbed afterwardand as a lover of early sound film I am wondering just how. Did they set up a projector at Carnegie Hall and record there? I know Warners had a studio in New Yorkwas it big enough for a complete orchestra? I also noticed that, while the synchronization was quite good, they couldn't pull off the sword fight. For the most part the fight shows the two men separately slashing away, and only a few scenes show the fight as it would usually be done, with both actors in frame. An enjoyable film, a tad longer than it needed to be, and the hisssssss of the soundtrack gets on one's nerves after a while.
Yowza! The Image restoration is gangbusters!!
What a hoot! As the other comments have pointed out, this movie has everything and then some. The Image DVD furthers this excitement with the use of an Expressionist typeface for the intertitles and punctuation that includes "-!?", "!!", and even at one point, "-!!!" "Spies" offers an almost perfect print with superb music and sound effects. Newbies to silent film will have to adjust to the wild and sometimes bizarre pantomime style of the acting, but give it half a chance and "Spies" will have you on the edge of your seat, even at the 140- minute length. I love Fritz Lang's American films, like "Rancho Notorious" and "Clash by Night"don't miss these if you have the chancebut Lang's German work shows a young director always at the top of his form, full of brilliant ideas and bursting with energy.
The End of the Affair (1999)
Wonderful script, fine acting, excellent direction but hoo-boy the plot!
Fiennes, Rea and Moore, and all of the lesser cast, are superb. (Forget Britteny, Julianne Moore is the Babe of My Heart.) The direction is great, the camera-work impeccable, and I was really absorbed by the film. Until
Moore goes "kaf kaf kaf" into her handkerchief, and I say to myself, "Oh no, she's not going to die of tuberculosis, is she?" And by golly, she does (and performs a miracle on the way out.). It's the book's fault, but what a trite, clichéd, cornball ending! It is because of the ending that I awarded the film 5 pointsout of resentment that all this talent was wasted on such a mediocre piece of literature. A major disappointment.
Felicia's Journey (1999)
Major Spoiler (but it's on the cover)
Quote. 'The richest, most provocative serial killer movie in cinema history.' Unquote. It's right there on the cover. And this quote really ruined the film for me. The viewer is supposed to gradually figure out the layers of Bob Hoskin's character, but you just can't when the film is set up the way it is. The people who designed this DVD should be shot. From what I could see of the movie, it is another of Atom Egoyan's dark, brooding, inverted films. We get the trademark video-equals-memory shots, the gorgeously complex camera movements, the somewhat muffled performances that appear in all of Egoyan's films. Hoskins is terrific, as always, but he's such a force he tends to drown out the young Elaine Cassidy's performance. So there's an imbalance here, also a problem in many Egoyan movies. 'Felicia's Journey' is a fine film, and I will watch it again, but a curse on the DVD designer.
Bride of the Monster (1955)
Not so bad not so bad at all
I really don't think this deserves the "honor" of being in the Bottom 100 of all times. I've seen much worse films without nearly the notoriety. In "Bride of the Monster," Edward Wood shows himself to be a typically competent director doing a typical low-rent horror film. There are no mistakes in continuity, the lighting is adequate, the performances are pretty good
how "Plan 9" came from the same director is beyond me. I *am* put off by the DVD, though. For a premium price, you get the film, the trailer, and chapter stopsthat's all, folks. If this is supposed to be a camp classic, I could at least hope for some interviews, outtakes, and other amusements. The transfer isn't bad, with few scratches or specks that I noticed and a faithful rendering of the black-and-white movies of that era.
A very good movie, very badly served
I had the good fortune to see 'The Funeral' in a real theater. The ultra-close-ups of the stockinged feet, magnified to 40 feet high, is unforgettable. Sadly, Fox Lorber has released 'The Funeral' on DVD using a scratched, pan-and-scan print. And since this film will never be a big best seller, I guess this is all we'll have. There's the inevitable comparison to 'Tampopo' and 'A Taxing Woman.' For me, 'The Funeral' is the best of the three because its humor is subtle and nuanced (the older brother in the foreground, trying to figure out which way is north, while the action goes on way off in the corner, is a perfect example). I still love 'Tampopo' (although it got the same rough treatment on DVD), but 'The Funeral' leaves me with more to feel, more to think about. I am certainly not Japanese, and I'm sure that much of the film flies by without my comprehending just what's going on. But I get more than enough from 'The Funeral' to make it one of my favorite films.
The Cell (2000)
Okay so I'll be in the minority
I've been reading through the comments here (not all 589, thank you) and see a pattern I disagree with. First off, J-Lo can't act. Well, I think she is completely successful as a spunky, sensitive psychiatric social worker with a gift of empathy with disturbed children. Also, people feel that the film is needlessly gory, or simply needless, as it examines the psychotic mind. Hey, folks, this isn't the first film to go up that alley. The envisioning of the psychotic's mind is brilliantly and stunningly communicated through artful and fantastic visions. The plot's hokey? Okay, I'll give you that one (SPOILER: Just where did he get all that running water in the middle of the desert? And how did he get those huge, heavy panes of glass down that little door?). But I think of this film as a science fiction flick, and logical plotting is not the hallmark of the science-fiction world. I saw this at the theater and recently found the DVD, and I was thoroughly chilled and excited by this strikingly beautiful and haunting work. This isn't 'Gigli,' folks. This is one fine film.
Why we were using so many drugs back then
"Smile" is a slice of slightly rancid American pie that takes place (although you'd never know it) right in the middle of Watergate and temporary President Ford. Ritchie has succeeded in capturing a time that isn't that long ago. The place happens to be California, but anywhere in America would have done just fine. Bruce Dern stars, for once not in one of his psychopathic roles, as "Big Bob", the owner/operator of a mobile home lot. The lovely, ex-Agent 99, Barbara Felden plays the organizer of a young teen's pageant with a pearly smile and complete scorn for her alcoholic husband. The vignettes and stories interweave in a perfect blend of sarcasm, sentiment, and silliness. Sample (minor spoiler)-when the pageant organizer sees a girl being helped out of the auditorium with a sprained foot, he rushes over and asks, "Can I get you anything? a doctor? a Pepsi?" A great script I was surprised Buck Henry *didn't* write. And watch for what happens to that Polaroid (you'll know what I mean). A terrific movie with laughs and giggles galore.
Ônibus 174 (2002)
An awesome, terrifying documentary
The camera flies effortlessly over the city, taking in fabulous skyscrapers and scrappy slums. Then the story begins. A young man, apparently high on something, has hijacked a bus and demands hand grenades and a second pistol. The police, and soon the television cameras, surround the bus. The SWAT team is ready, yet for some reason (perhaps the cameras?) is not brought into play. This is just the start of a harrowing journey painstakingly tracing the path the young man took to this event. Along the way we meet his friends and relatives, and learn about the unholy life of a street kid. I don't think I could ever watch this film again, but I will never forget it.
Warui yatsu hodo yoku nemuru (1960)
Who, disguised as a mild-mannered executive secretary
In 'The Bad Sleep Well', Kurosawa tries to tear the lid off corporate corruption in Japan. Unfortunately, this is a premise that doesn't hold much power as a plot device. If you watch, you get to see Mifune wearing spectacles, and many of the other members of Kurosawa's band of actors as well. They don't have much to do but grit their teeth and scream a lot. I have a feeling that a lot of the plot (and there's lots and lots of plot to go around) gets lost in the minimalist subtitling and maximalist shouting. If you watch and you're not Japanese, you are likely to find a sleepy feeling coming on yourself. If so, are you 'the Bad?' No, you're just bored.
Mrs Dalloway (1997)
A miraculous adaptation
Marleen Gorliss has pulled off a most successful adaptation of one of Woolf's most diaphanous novels. I'm not a fan of voice-over, but here the device is used discretely and to great effect. The magnificent performances of Redgraves and the rest of the cast bring to life this delicate tale. Probably a chick flick in its focus on love and the meaning of things, this film will not appeal to all tastes. But if you liked 'The Hours,' you'll love 'Mrs. Dalloway.
A film Von Stroheim would have loved
That idiot Godard said film was truth 24 times a second. Of course he was wrong (in Europe, it's 25 frames-per-second.). But film is *facts* 24 times a second. Van Sant deals in facts. This is a simple story-two guys drive out into the desert to look at 'the thing', halfway there they decide to skip it, and then they become hopelessly, irretrievably lost. Death can be a slow, agonizing thing. Without so much as a whisper of dialogue about it, the two face death in all its horror. They're just two guys-the watch TV, they play video games. But gradually, subtly, everything is sucked out of them. How do you live when there's nothing to live for? This is the question van Sant asks, and leaves the answers unsaid.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
If you love voiceovers, here's your film
War is supposed to be hours of tedium interrupted by moments of terror. At least Mallick has the first part down. The first half hour of TRL is nothing but voiceovers, and meditative ones at that. And he doesn't let up-the last scene has a soldier reflecting on Life, Fate, etc. The lugubrious music begins with Faure's Requium and descends from there. The battle scenes, such as they are, only deepen the musical mood. There's no helmet discipline, so we can admire Sean Penn's do. Many of the all-star cast (Travolta and Clooney for two) are in the film for one bare scene each. For Oceanic nature lovers, there are lots of shots of leaves, grass, birds, mammals, and running water. For the rest of us, there is just too much pomposity and too little action to make this film worth its nearly three hours of running time. (After this, I pulled out The Steel Helmet and watched it again-now *that's* a war film.)
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
A little of this, a little of that
`Bubba Ho-Tep' is something of a comedy, a little fantasy, and a horror film all rolled into one. The misadventures of a superannuated Elvis in a Texas nursing home are amusing, if not terribly funny. The horror part just doesn't match what we've come to expect from our horror pictures. The monster is funny in his cowboy hat and Texas boots, but not particularly horrifying. Ossie Davis is wonderful as `John F. Kennedy,' his paranoia forming the engine that pulls the plot forward. I got a somewhat pleasant kick out of `Bubba Ho-Tep', but I had been led to expect more than was there. So, an entertainer, but definitely a one-watch flick.
A beautiful film lost in a `beater' print
Film lovers of a certain age will remember the cine-clubs and cinema societies where we cut our teeth on so many of the great classics. And, in this age of digital restoration and director's cuts, they will remember with ghastly fondness the `beater print'-a worn 16mm reel with hard-to-read subtitles, muddy greys, and blown-out whites. Well, here we have it. `Mayerling' is a beautiful film. Boyer (someone I'm not a fan of) is perfect as the impetuous, passionate prince. Darrieux has less to do but is so adorable you don't mind. Litvak's direction is superb, flitting in amongst the Viennese crowds to find the isolated lovers, the courtly grandeur of a 500-year-old empire, and the little touches that turn a good film great. But `Mayerling' is only available from Timeless Video of North Hollywood, CA. And it's an awful video. Half of the subtitles are below the screen, the scenes are mud, and the sound is so distorted you'd think you were watching a 1929 film. What to do? First off, don't buy *anything* from Timeless Video. Then wait for someone to realize a truly beautiful DVD of this great movie. Watching it in its current shape would merely spoil it for you.
Les bas-fonds (1936)
A grandly theatrical exercise by a great master
Now that Criterion has released not one but two 'Lower Depth' features, one by Renoir, the other by Kurosawa, you have a double bill of masterpieces to look forward to. Renoir's contribution to this menage is a surprisingly buoyant one. Gabin and Jouvet dominate the film with their mano-a-mano discussions on life and freedom. Suzy Prim is properly bitchy as the woman scorned, although Junie Astor as her oppressed sister doesn't have it in her to elevate the scenes that she's in. The plot is almost completely different from Gorky's, yet the playwright read and publicly approved of the project. In Renoir's world there is always a way out for those who are kind and strive. There are doomed souls too, but their fates are laid out in a gentle, loving manner. This isn't the best Renoir film, but it reflects his lifelong humanism and warmth (and many depth-of-field shots for those mise-en-scene fanatics). Needless to day, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Let's get this puppy on the "Worst 100" list!
I have an awful pan-and-scan videotape of "Boom!", and I want to see it in all its widescreen glory. So I voted "1" and hope you will too. Together, we can pull this movie down into the pits of cinematic dross, and hope that someone will see an opportunity for BIG MONEY in releasing "Boom!" in its Director's Cut Extended Version. The movie is one of my howling favorites
you just look at the people involved, the director, the actors, the cameraman, and you say to yourself, "Yep, I guess you can fool some of the people for a lot of time." Producers considering the DVD release of "Boom!" should note that, everywhere it's been shown, there have been sellout crowds in the theaters. But it hasn't been up to Frostbite Falls yet.