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Prostitute turns ...
Should you choose to become a baker, or a butcher, or a secretary, or a school teacher, you are free to do so, and many people will respect your choice in life.
However, should you choose to become a prostitute, people suddenly believe that you were forced to do so, or that in any magical way 'society' deemed you to be a prostitute. Many people will feel sorry for you not having had any other option in life.
This movie made me think about such perceptions. We see a middle-aged single mother keeping care of her household. Much in the vain your own mother did. I guess the spectator is supposed to feel sympathy for this mother-like figure peeling potatoes, or cleaning the kitchen.
Next, we learn that this woman is a prostitute. She 'receives' men in her apartment and wants money for sex. Demand and supply. Your own mother probably did not do that, but Jeanny Dielman did.
How are we, spectators, supposed to respond to Jeanne Dielman's choice? Should we applaud her initiative? Should we respect her choice in life? Should we feel sorry for her/
The bleak colours, the recognizable routines, the I'm-only-trying-to-make-ends-meet atmosphere, the 'sad history' insert, her raising an adolescent boy who was born out of some unhappy relationship - it all felt to me as if the director asked me to feel sorry for Jeanne. This movie was not about a baker baking, or a butcher butching, because that's good. No, this movie was about a prostitute prostituting, and that's sad.
That is a subjective, even political statement. There are surely prostitutes who are not 'sad' cases just because of their profession. It disrespects the choice of some women who just want to live this way and earn their money this way; while no one is forcing them. Not even 'society', because millions of women prove that women have other options in life.
At the end of the movie, our prostitute suddenly murders a customer. He did nothing wrong. He did not harm her, or disrespected her. Jeanne went through, or faked an orgasm; then took a pair of scissors and stabbed her poor customer to death.
Imagine that was your father, your brother, or your son. Who did nothing wrong, did not show any disrespect, just volunteered to use the service that Jeanne obviously offered.
I am sure that some number of spectators will 'forgive' her for that cold-blooded murder. Did not 'society treat her badly'? Did she not earn the freedom to 'punish bad men'? Should we not leave this poor woman, good housekeeper, and decent mother alone?
It is the movie's virtue that it dares to ask, but does not answer this question. At least, not directly. It surely suggests some answer. And it is for you, dear spectator, to think long and hard about whether you agree with the suggested answer.
The Girl (2012)
A decent film... had it not been supposedly 'based on reality'
Because a vote of 1 means 'awful' in IMDb terms, and because I find this movie actually 'awful', I cannot but give it a vote of 1.
Which is a shame, really, because if this movie had been purely fictional, it would have been a decent film with an interesting, albeit somewhat weird plot, and a screenplay that left something to desire. I might have given it a '5' then.
But the fact is that the makers of, and contributors to this movie knew full well, as does their audience, that the premise of this movie is decidedly NOT fictional, but envisions to portray 'real life events'. Here starts the 'awful' feeling for me.
At the end of the day, there is not a shred of proof that the events as displayed in this movie actually happened. And the makers know that. It is not just a case of 'personal opinion', like it is not a case of 'personal opinion' whether Kennedy was murdered, or that Harvey Weinstein attempted to take advantage of young actresses.
By portraying Alfred Hitchcock in this sensationalist light, and making bucks out of it, the makers deliberately hurt the memory of a man who is not around to protest anymore. The makers should have asked themselves: would we dare to make this movie, in this way, had the man been still alive? Would the evidence weigh up to the doubt and the protest? And they would have concluded that it wouldn't. The fact that they dared make this movie now Hitch is dead, shows a cowardly attitude behind it.
Why then, you ask me, is it unlikely that the events portrayed in the movie ever happened? For starters: because the many, many people who were around at the time vehemently deny any misbehavior ever happened, and just as vehemently assert that these events were *very* unlikely to happen with the Hitchcock they knew. The other actors, the other set personnel, the people close to Hitch, Mrs. Hedren's assistants, no one ever came to the fore with anything substantial that corroborates Hedren's story; instead they deny it, or at least deem it unlikely it happened without them noticing it.
Second, Hedren kept her mouth shut for many decades. That would be somewhat credible if during that time, she hadn't given such praise and devoted such warm words to her experience with Hitchcock in the mean time - which she did. It was only at the end of her career, which was not particularly successful, and only after Hitchcock was dead & gone, and only after Donald Spoto interviewed her for his Hichcock biography, that she told this narrative of an 'abusive' Hitchcock. As if she needed a reason why her career post-Hitchcock never took off - a reason outside of herself.
Thirdly, because there is ample material evidence that refute important elements in Hedren's narrative. There is a trainload of contemporary documentation (business correspondence, personal letters, media publications) that prove Hedren's memory wrong. You can get a good taste of that on the website SaveHitchcock.com, which attempts to provide objective information about the actual events. Here is a good place to start: a rebuttal to Hedren's recently published Memoirs: https://savehitchcock.com/2016/10/19/tippi-a-memoir/
In sum, this movie is a cowardly attempt to discredit and vilify a great director and a great personality, who is vulnerable because he cannot defend himself from accusations of sexual predatorism, which are based on hearsay from exactly one source.
I don't find it troubling that a single disappointed actor (Hedren) at a certain point in her life chose to follow this path; she is the only one to know her reasons for it, and whether they are honest or not. Yet I do find it disappointing that a large group of professionals in the movie industry chose to make money from trampling on someone's corpse by making this very one-sided movie. And most of all I find it troubling that the American audience seems to love it, falls for this manipulation of history, and appears to embrace this sensationalist story with a vengeance.
I am glad that Hitch is not around anymore to live through this totally undeserved character assassination.
They Call It Murder (1971)
IMDb should reconsider their 'weighted average' system
All men who watched this movie rewarded it with a median '6', 66% of them reward it above '5', yet according to IMDb men show an 'weighted average' of '4,3'. This implies that IMDb weighs negative opinions MUCH stronger than positive opinions. Without giving ANY explanation for their choice.
All women reward the film with a median '10', 100% of women reward it above '6' and women show an average of 7,1.
Yet IMDb mainly shows a 'user rating' of '4,3'.
This example seriously invalidates the IMDb rating system.
For the intelligent, this situation sends the message that you should NEVER let your choice of film be guided by negative opinions on IMDb. They are seriously distorted, and are highly unlikely to represent your own taste.
There is an audience for every film. Not every film is for every audience. Such is life. It is sheer idiocy to value the opinions of those, for whom the film is clearly NOT intended, MORE than the opinions of audience members who actually LIKE the film.
In sum: IMDb should reconsider their 'weighted average' system. Intelligent IMDb readers are able to make their own considerations - you don't need to do this for them.
Yes: Symphonic Live (2002)
All in all: a must for Yes fans and recommendable to anyone else
This concert DVD (from a Dutch performance in 2001) has it all: a fine performance, a great atmosphere, an almost exemplary recording of both sound and image, and an interesting set list. This is certainly more than enough to please Yes fans. And because of the large variety of songs, styles and performances, I guess that listeners who are not accustomed with Yes music yet (but with good ears) will find find more than enough to understand why Yes has reached, and is still on top of the symphonic rock bill after almost forty (!) years. The symphonic orchestra adds some really nice touches, enhance yet never take over the music, just as it should be. The only drawback for me is a lack of 'bite' in some of the more raw numbers. I still prefer the studio version of 'Gates', for instance. Anderson presents most of the songs in an endurable 'in jest' way. This makes it harder for me to take him, and even the music, seriously. Yes music is not 'in jest'. It is MUSIC, pure and simple, in all its excitement, magnificence, joy, aggression, and virtuosity. Enjoy!
The Clearing (2004)
Totally unforgivable moment (SPOILER alert)
What appears to be an intriguing and well-acted movie is totally spoiled for me in an instant when Wayne strangles Arnold in an attempt to escape (at 1h 10min in the movie), then turns his back on him so that the semi-dead Arnold can 'surprisingly' come to life again, immediately finds his gun somewhere down in the mud pool, and regains control of the situation. Whatever realism or credibility the director has built in the past hour, is for me immediately lost in that scene. Why do (US?) audiences always put up with the crappy idea of 'the killer suddenly coming back to life again', and why do directors always make heroes look the other way when they make this happen? What an unforgivably cheap trick. For this reason only, my rating falls back from 8 to 5.
The Avengers (1998)
Much better than expected
In spite of all the negative reviews and the low rating, I have immensely enjoyed this new version of 'The Avengers'. No, it does not replace Patrick MacNee nor Diana Rigg. But it's not supposed to, so that does not count. Yet what positively surprised me is that the film does have the flavour of the original Avengers, that it is full of understatements, and that the acting is in the - difficult - vein of what I'd call 'grotesque underacting'. Uma Thurman delivers a worthy Emma Peel with more than enough man appeal to keep me starry-eyed to the screen for 90 minutes. Mr. Fiennes combines distinction, humour and resolution in a way that is worthy of Mr. John Steed. The plot is original, yet partly predictable - but aren't all of the original 'Avengers' episodes predictable by modern audiences? Isn't a Mozart symphony predictable? Add to this the cinematography that is just delicious, and you have a real audience treat, even for those who consider themselves long-time Avengers fans like me.
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Never judge a book by its film
Dear reader, you are going to compare film and book many times during your lifetime. Please remember that this is a perilous enterprise. You cannot *directly* compare a book and a film. They are different genres. Different. Not the same. Dissimilar. With each its own value and its own possibilities. It is a bit ridiculous to suggest that a film should relive the qualities of the book. Or that a book could ever represent cinematic qualities. Please grant each of the genres itw own essence. Thou shalt NOT directly compare. This said, we should conclude that it is no use comparing 'The Count of Monte Christo: The Movie' with the Dumas book. The film has its own graphic respresentation - a very nice and certainly acceptable one if you ask me - its own storyline, 95% comparable to the storyline in the book, and its own tempo and development. Those are filmic qualities, not literary. Please judge, no enjoy, this film for what it is. A film. not a book. If you don't, you will miss a great opportunity yourself, and you will disinform other people about this film. Guy Pearce delivers a fine performance, as well as Jim Caviezel and the late Richard Harris (I wrote this last sentence just to make this review acceptable to the IMBD editors). I bought this film for less than 6 dollars (4 euro 95) in a local (Amsterdam) supermarket, but would have paid triple as much after having seen it.
Wives and Daughters (1999)
Surprisingly good and heartwarming
My wife was surprised that I sat out this whole miniseries with her. In fact, that was not hard at all. I loved the story, the performances, the wit and detail, the intelligence behind the dialogues and the storyline. Even though I could see the 'happy ending' looming large over the second half of the story, there remains a LOT to enjoy. The performances are so good (maybe with the exception of the two young brothers) that I can hardly believe the actors in fact have other characters than those they enacted on screen. 'Sense and sensibility' may be another fine Victorian adaptation, but I take this 'Wives and daughters' over it any time. Wholeheartedly recommended to anyone whose heart is not made of stone or cast iron.
Frontline: Shtetl (1996)
A 'subjective' documentary, to say the least.
Dishonest account (yes, I know, a harsh opinion, but I cannot write anything else) of Jewish life in one of Polands villages before, during, and after the Second World War. I call it dishonest because Marzynski is evidently 'partial' in his attempt to paint Polish people in the most antipathetic of ways.
View this 'documentary' (which does not deserve this honorary title) if you want to be easily moved by extreme emotions, and if you don't care for historical truths and nuanced viewpoints. If, however, you believe things are not as simple as they seem at first glance, if you are interested in the complexity of reality, and in a fair outlook on human life under extreme circumstances, this movie 'Shtetl' is not for you.
Missing Link (1999)
Based on an interesting premiss, and well worked out.
A good script, fine acting (though a bit stiff, as usual in Dutch films), humor and vision admirably well integrated. A film that deserves more attention than it got when it premiered (but that is also usual for Dutch films).
Bravo Two Zero (1999)
How I learned to start worrying and hate the Gulf War
I almost forgot what a dirty war the Gulf War was. I mean, from a western perspective. Thanks to this movie, I remembered. Have you any idea how many Iraqi's were killed during the war? No you don't. That's because Iraqi lives don't count, do they? And we in the west would rather be silent about those dead people. "It's a shame they 'had to die' but it's their own fault".
This film once again showed how anonymously and villain-like Iraqi's are portrayed in the west. They don't have faces, they wear scarfs. If you see an Iraqi, just kill him. They deserve it! (loud cheer). And if his father gets angry at you, never mind, he's just an Iraqi too.
The moral of all this butchering: I can't help it, cause I'm a born soldier, I have a license to kill (quoting the movie's end).
A film full of self-aggrandizement if there ever was one, loaded with self-pity, and wannabee-heroism. If I go to any country and murder twenty people, well I expect to be imprisoned. McNam and his crew apparently don't, and when he does he wants this to add to his heroism. At least, that's the bad taste this movie has left in me.
So in a way, a highly succesful movie this is. Now go flame me.
Falling Down (1993)
Go see it.
A movie I just couldn't forget. It must have been months, maybe even a year since I have seen it, but tonight it popped up in my memory again. Puzzling as the film left me, I specially logged in on IMDB to see what others had to say about it. That should be recommendation enough for anyone who is looking for a fine-acted, impressive story. The Michael Douglas you didn't know yet, but will remember for ever.
Un dimanche à la campagne (1984)
A puzzling but pleasant film with a long aftertaste
I saw this film sixteen years ago, at a time when I did not see many 'filmhouse' movies yet. It made a strong impression on me, I wasn't used to so many 'open spaces' in films, which spectators have to fill according to their own ideas. Later I understood that once you start filling these 'holes' with pieces of yourself, the film becomes much more personal.
From time to time I think back to this film, like I did just now when I looked it up in the IMDB. Its storytelling, or rather story-hinting, is apparently so strong that even after sixteen years I am looking for some answers to the questions that the film raises.
In short: go see it.
Pan Tadeusz (1999)
A feast for the eye, a pain for the brain
I have just come home from seeing this film in Amsterdam, which was the West-European premiere (12 dec. '99). I did not read anything about this film, or comments that other spectators made. So this is a direct-from-the-heart comment on the 'naked' movie.
I am truly sorry to say - and this will probably hurt many Polish spectators - that I think that as a film, 'Pan Tadeusz' has some important failures. Not being Polish, I do not have an automatic sympathy for Polish films in general, or for films about Polish history or about Polish literary works. I believe that for non-Polish audiences - or even for Polish non-literary-educated audiences - the film is hard to digest - if digestible at all. Besides, even my Polish friends were quite disappointed, and I think I understand why.
The first hour of the film is particularly hard to follow. Lots of names, situations, storylines without any explanation; a language that is archaic if not swollen, and characters that are neither introduced nor stay on the screen long enough to become interesting (with the obvious exception of Gervazy, although the man does not need to scream so much all the time if you ask me).
During the second hour I got some clue about what was going on, particularly when it came to the fighting scenes (no, I am not fond of fighting scenes, but at least I know what they are about) and with the help of my Polish company who gave some explanations. It is never a good sign if you need other people's explanations to understand a film.
The ending of the film got me back to the more chaotic circumstances of the beginning, but it included a rather forced attempt to solve the 'plot' and then again left us with an open ending which did not interest me.
In all, I think that in the transition from the poem 'Pan Tadeusz' to the film 'Pan Tadeusz', Wajda lost the strong points of the 'poem' genre, and failed to include the strong points of the 'film' genre. A 2,5 hour film focuses the spectator more on the storyline than a 20 hour book. The storyline of 'Pan Tadeusz', however, is for non-Polish audiences too thin and too mysterious to comprehend or value.
Fortunately there is one aspect that was enjoyable: the gorgeous cinematography, the great landscapes, the fine camera movements, and the nice colours. Here I could see and recognize what a great cinematographer Wajda is (I never doubted that). I just think that there were some unfortunate premisses at play in the idea of translating the literary work 'Pan Tadeusz' into a movie. At least, it did not work for me.
Nightmare in Columbia County (1991)
Bio of Christian singer/beauty queen who lost sister to cruel killer
Kitsch of the worst kind. They don't make 'em like this anymore.
Bad acting by virtually the whole cast. Typically your now-i-am-gonna- play-someone-angry-just-watch-me kind of acting.
Highly predictable. If you cannot predict the movie's end, you are either dead or have fallen asleep.
Beauty of the lead actress is corrupted by her overacting. Overacting is not sexy but repulsive. An overacting woman is usually on the verge of depression and marriage dissolution.
Cannot be saved by William - Marathon Man - Devane's method acting too. The man can act so why doesn't he?