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For many, this will be much more watchable and maybe even interesting than much of Brakhage's anthology included in the Criterion Collection. And rather than approaching his canon in a chronological fashion, lay viewers might be better served starting with something like Visions in Meditation #2: Mesa Verde because one is first grounded in a reality, in images that one understands and may even recognize. From there, the experimental nature of Brakhage's work is more understandable and relatable though by no means should this piece be confused with travelogue: it is still jarring and even disturbing though it still allows the viewer great latitude in interpretation.
Talaash: The Hunt Begins... (2003)
the one thing other reviewers forgot...
The choreography was somewhere between bizarre and atrocious. Okay, I didn't go into this expecting Hamlet or Pulp Fiction, but... At least with Bollywood you usually get some catchy songs and interesting dance numbers. Most of the music is blah-synth, a few of the songs are decent though I can't be bothered to point them out - yawn - but the choreography was on par with the rest of the bad acting, horrible editing, dopey dialogue, etc.
One star was earned just because Capetown was in the movie. Nice to see Bollywood go overseas on location.
La damnation de Faust (1999)
And I Thought I Couldn't Like Opera
A few weeks back, I caught the later 3/4 of the Met's presentation of La Damnation de Faust on Public TV and I found myself drawn in, not just by the music (and I do enjoy classical very much) but by a story that seemed to be so much more than the more usual 'love gone wrong song' so many operas seem to be. But I didn't really know why; I just knew I needed to see, listen and plainly know more.
I went through the library catalog and found the CD, but the only way to get a DVD was via Inter Library Loan and being that this non-opera isn't as well known or popular as all those ones even people who have never seen opera know of (and hum an aria from), I wasn't sure if it would be a problem. Of course, it wasn't and within a couple weeks, a university library in a nearby town shared this version (I've also got another version with Solti, Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra performing the same piece in its other, non-operatic, concert format to watch next week - also ILL - our tax dollars at work). Unfortunately, these are the only two versions I've found on DVD at present.
And so, by default, this filmed version from the Salzburg Festival 1999 may be the definitive version for many years to come (the Met hasn't released their version on DVD as far as I could tell), but don't let that scare you away. As a relatively simple work regarding the staging, it's amazing how much there is to this piece. It even seems pretty modern for a work completed before 1850 and it's not just the costumes or set design, all simple, elegant though now some costuming might feel a bit trite. I can't promise it will be for anyone, especially you, kind reader, but then again, I almost did not tune in to the Met broadcast since it was "only opera." That would have been a major mistake.
Echoing another review, I too was brought to tears by the shear beauty of this opera. I never imagined that I could connect with an opera and yet, as the final chorus was sung, tears streamed down my cheeks. I don't know why. Maybe, just maybe, the totality of this work reached a part of my soul I didn't know was there. And frankly, that is why opera is opera.
After the Deluge (2003)
Hard to rate the butchered US version
Given the star power behind this one, I'm more than a bit hopeful we'll get the chance to see the full version in the US eventually. I hate to say I was not terribly impressed with the 103 min US version. Yes, the acting was fine but the story, and especially the ending, didn't feel at all satisfactory.
I find myself wondering if the time is not yet right for IMDb to create separate database entries and therefore separate ratings for different versions of films when say 50% more/less material is available in a different version. But yes, that would confuse things a bit...
I'm just suspicious that after 5,000 Americans see the butchered edition; its rating will suffer in a way that it probably doesn't deserve.
Fresa y chocolate (1993)
What a Wonderful Surprise!
Strawberry and Chocolate -- Wow this was a wonderful surprise and one of the better movies I've seen of late. Set in 90's Havana, this is a very real, believable story of a young homophobes first friendship with a gay man. I found the movie touching and funny and it reminded so much of many men I knew during my years in El Paso.
Diego, played wonderfully by Cuban actor Jorge Perugorria, is very attractive and yet easily the queeniest guy I've seen on film in years. I really enjoyed how comfortable he seemed in the role paying in between the male and female gender roles. This man has a passion for life that he expresses while being outside the mainstream. He does an excellent job of pulling off the crush in a believable way.
He has a horrible crush on David, a young Communist party member who is lured to Diego's apartment with the promise of some photos of Diego took of him while David was acting. No pictures materialized and the two develop a solid, respectful, platonic relationship.
This movie shows that gay and straight men can be friends. It also reminded me of many good times I had by making friends with people I normally wouldn't associate with. Queens are usually not my type...but then again, its a reminder to judge people by the content of their character rather than superficial appearances.
The film also explores Cuban's acceptance of Communism and the country's desire to remain outside the influence of American commercialism. I was very interested to see where Diego's anti-government rhetoric would get him and if the movie would have a moralistic 'gotcha' message at the end.
In reading about this movie it's pleasing to know that the director is a well-known and respected Cuban director (thus making it a bit easier to trust the movie) and the movie was well received in Cuba. Word is it helped to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality in Cuba.
I heartily recommend this film in a way I so rarely do. Easily in the same class as Priscilla for humanity and believability. This one is absolutely worth whatever it takes to find it.
Rating: 9 out of 10.
Pao Da Shuang Deng (1994)
While not for everyone, this is a wonderful movie about how the individual fits into a social hierarchy. The key is these individuals do _not_ fit into the roles they have been assigned. And not only does the viewer get to watch the unfolding story, but one is treated to cinematography from a non-Hollywood point of view. This is one I would love to see on the big screen. One of my most favourite films.