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Another "Heimat" masterpiece from Edgar Reitz
I won't write a long panegyric here: I can just say that if you liked the other "Heimat" installments, you will like this "prequel" as well. And if, like many viewers, you watched the previous films with an almost religious devotion, you will feel the same way about this one (actually, two).
Somehow Reitz has found the secret of putting his viewers deeply into the situation to the point where you really do feel "you are there" -- and he can do this whether the setting is contemporary, early 20th century or, as here, in the 1840's.
The first installment is admittedly a little long, but there is ample payback in the second, which seeing the first is necessary in order to set up the situation.
Halt auf freier Strecke (2011)
Doesn't pull its punches
There have been many films about people dying of cancer (hardy a spoiler, this is made clear in the first five minutes of the film) but almost all of them have been Hollywood-style syrupy tearjerkers ("Love Story", anyone?). At last, here is a film that takes you through the genuine emotional roller-coaster of being, or being close to, someone who learns he is condemned, from the moment of discovery to the inevitable denouement. Avoiding the trap of over-sentimentalizing the subject yet steering away from a documentary "reality show" type approach, adding just enough humor (most of it on the part of the victim himself) to keep the viewer from despair yet never wavering from realism, this is a sober yet gut-wrenching film that will stay on your mind long after you leave the movie theater.
Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959)
Yet another gem
I have little to add to all the other reviews pointing out the surrealistic awfulness of the film, except to say that even the actors clearly knew they were appearing in the turkey to end all turkeys. If you need proof, have another enjoyable look at the scene in which the zombie Inspector Clay (Tor Johnson) is presented to the Ruler and tries to strangle Eros. As Eros escapes from the clutches of the zombie, exclaiming "that was TOO close", the actor playing The Ruler very ostensibly and noticeably rolls his eyes to the camera as if to say "This is the lamest scene in the lamest film that has ever come out of Hollywood!" An absolute masterpiece, ranking alongside the police inspector using his gun to do everything but comb his hair!
Out for a Kill (2003)
Yes, it's as bad as everyone says
Heh. I won't add much to the caustic comments that have already been made, except to say that, while I like mindless action films as much as the next man, I do expect them to make an effort to provide at least the faintest coherence of a plot that actually makes some sense.
This film fails even that test. Whether it's Seagal's Asian work colleague who is murdered at the beginning of the film who is clearly meant to come from a Buddhist religious background (cf the first fight scene with the fake monks and the various scenes with her father spouting pseudo-religious crap)...but buried in a Christian burial service (!), or the bad guys who send a small army of gun-wielding thugs to kill off their Bulgarian rivals but, when countered with Seagal's character who is decimating their top ranks, are content to use single combattants using martial arts (none of these top mobsters appears to have so much as an armed bodyguard!), the film makes no sense whatsoever.
Special credit for total looniness goes to the scenes in Paris -- I live there, and the laughable attempts to situate those scenes in Paris by showing shots of the Eiffel Tower from time to time gave me the only momentary pleasure of watching this film (the stencilled lettering of "blanchisserie Chinoise" on the Chinese laundry was particularly amusing -- the American concept of the "Chinese laundry" does not exist in France, although I have to admit that they at least got the spelling right).
The Godfather: Part III (1990)
A Made-For-TV-like Grade B sequel, redeemed by a sublime ending
Well, I've read a lot of comments reacting to the initial bad reviews, but having watched the film on DVD last night I think I need to turn the tide back again. Right up until the end, the whole film plays out like some awful made-for-TV sequel, or even worse the pilot film for a new TV series "based on the characters in The Godfather". If you look closely you can even tell where the commercials will be! The acting is either wooden (not just Sofia Coppola, who had the unenviable task of filling in for Winona Ryder at the last minute, but even the marvelous Diane Keaton, who makes her single set-piece speech about how she is so frightened of Michael that it clouds her still-surviving love for him, then repeats it about ten times during the film) or alternatively entirely over the top (Andy Garcia), the same point is bludgeoned into the viewer over and over again (the "legitimate" business world is even more ruthless and dishonest than the Mob), and some of the plot lines are simply ludicrous (Andy Garcia, who has grown up in the city, can ride a police horse like a champion, and by the single act of killing a rival mobster and penetrating a rival gang has somehow metamorphosed from a street punk into a successor worthy of inheriting the mantle of Don Corleone).
And yet...and yet...the entire film is almost redeemed by the last five minutes or so and by a single actor. Al Pacino's silent scream on the steps of the opera house, and even more the final single minute of footage of him as a tired old man struggling to put his glasses on as he reminisces over his past life, then crumpling into death as he strokes one of the dogs who are probably his last compassionate companions on Earth : the film suddenly fast-forwards from the utterly ridiculous to the superbly sublime, triggering a groundswell of emotions. Pacino's performance at the end almost, just almost, saves the rest of the film.
The Spirit of '43 (1943)
How would this play today?
This is an excellent wartime morale-builder cartoon that gently and amusingly not only prods the viewer to save rather than spend, but reminds him that paying taxes is a patriotic act, particularly in wartime.
The only jarring note that I found in watching the second half of the cartoon, when the Donald Duck humor gives way to a histrionic, almost bombastic call to pay taxes to finance more and more weapons to destroy the Axis powers, was the chilling realization that if a film like this was made today, it would probably be laughed out of the cinema by our modern, ultra-"cool" and supposedly sophisticated audience.
We should consider ourselves lucky that back in the 1940's, our forefathers were still "gullible" enough to believe cartoons like this and to fight the Nazis.
Das Netz (2003)
Provocative and frightening but inconclusive
The film was shown this weekend (30 April) in Paris in the presence of its director, Lutz Dammbeck, who stayed to take questions from the audience afterword's.
The film's premise is frightening enough -- the internet was originally developed through a sort of unholy alliance between (i) scientists bent on "remodelling" post-WW II man in order to avoid a repeat of war by isolating (through various mind-control experiments) and then removing the genesis of authoritarian personalities, (ii) the American intelligence community bent on winning the Cold War, and (iii) (somewhat improbably) a group of "hippie" non-conformists and artists who shared the vision of the aforementioned scientists. Dammbeck develops the premise by a series of interviews with various members of each group whom he considers as having been the "architechts" of the internet.
Against this alliance stands Dammbeck's unpalatable anti-hero, the Unabomber (whom Dammbeck certainly does not admire, yet has some sympathy with -- Dammbeck reminds us that Kaczynski was one of the students who actually underwent the mind-control experiments in question, which may have triggered the unhinging of his mind).
The problem with the film is that in each of the interviews, after having drawn out his subject into explaining his role in the development of the internet, Dammbeck then asks the interviewee whether such development was not subject to legitimate criticism and then provides as an example...the criticisms made by Kaczynski in his Unabomber manifesto! Of course, this simply triggers an emotional response from each of the interviewees that Kaczynski was either a madman, a dangerous criminal or both, so that the question of whether there is not some truth to the argument that such development was dangerous is never answered. Dammbeck never first alludes in his interviews to other critics of technological positivism who did not feel it necessary to make their criticisms by means of letter bombs.
This "technique" reaches its paroxysm when Dammbeck interviews one of the Unabomber's victims, who lost an eye and a hand to one of the letter bombs, and asks him whether he does not feel that Kaczynski had some worthwhile criticisms to make. Needless to say, the interviewee responds with an entirely understandable emotional response which the audience is somehow supposed to feel constitutes a refusal to consider the merits of the question.
Dammbeck might have been better off asking his of his interviewees a series of less "loaded" questions first before springing on them "So, do you think that this fellow who killed three people and wounded a dozen others (including in one case the actual interviewee!) had something worthwhile to say?" It is too bad that this technique takes the edge off what is a very troubling theory developed in the film. Still, it is a film worth seeing, particularly as it becomes clear by the end of the film that Dammbeck has in fact been keeping up a running correspondence with Kaczynski and has a good idea of what makes him tick.
Bijo to ekitai ningen (1958)
Like many other posters, I saw this film as a young boy and it gave me nightmares for weeks (maybe even months)! Luckily, my older brother finally convinced me that the "liquid creature" would not survive a swim from Japan to the United States and I was able to sleep again.
I suspect that the modern age's Freddies, Jasons and Leatherfaces would not hold a candle to the effect that this film had on an impressionable youth back then. Perhaps the very fact that the monster had no tangible qualities and could theoretically be any puddle of water you came across was what gave it its fright value.
It would certainly be interesting to see how a remake of this would play today.
Killers from Space (1954)
It was bad then...and it is bad now.
The only comment I can add to the near-unanimous panning of the film by other IMDb critics is this. Remember how when you were very young, you saw some sci-fi or horror film that scared the daylights out of you, and then when you saw it again many years later you wondered how you could have possibly found it so scary? Well, this isn't one of those films! As a pre-teenager, I used to stay up Saturday nights to watch "Chiller Theater", a weekly showing of the "best" that the 1950's had to offer by way of Grade Z (or less) sci-fi or horror films, occasionally livened up by humorous commentary by the host, Zacherley. Some of those films were minor gems in their way. But even as a prepubescent fan, I could spot a dog of a film when I saw one, and "Killers from Space" was identified once and for all as a howler even then.
Der Untergang (2004)
A success in France -- and that is saying a lot.
The film opened in France this week (6th January), and in a country which has traditionally been very hostile to even the best of post-war German cinema (the recent "Goodbye Lenin" was a welcome exception), "Der Untergang" has been playing to sold-out houses (I could get a seat only in the first row), which tells you how good it is.
A sober and yet chilling account of how, after first laying waste to large swathes of Western and Eastern Europe and murdering its populations, Hitler was absolutely ready to do exactly the same in Germany itself since he judged its people "unworthy" of his own deranged ideals.
Compelling cinema served by an excellent cast and solid direction.
A Performance of Macbeth (1979)
This is probably "Macbeth" as Shakespeare really saw it produced -- no fancy scenery, no elaborate sets, just stunning actors conveying everything Shakespeare intended to convey by the power of their own speech and actions.
The defining moment for me is the banquet scene, where McKellan manages to go from icily cynical schemer to stark raving maniac on seeing Banquo's ghost, and then back again to schemer and then yet back again to broken, frightened shadow of a man by the end of the scene, without for a moment over-acting and without us, the viewer, even seeing Banquo's ghost.
The only false note I think the production had was Judi Dench -- as others have said here, she is of course a splendid actress and her sleepwalking scene was wonderful. But part of what drives Macbeth in the play is Lady Macbeth's threat to withhold sexual favors and her denigration of his masculinity if Macbeth doesn't act more "like a man" and go through with the murder of Duncan (conveyed in this version by her avoiding Macbeth's attempted kiss in the "milk of human kindness" scene), and frankly in this production Dame Judi lacked the sex appeal that would make this viable.
Still, a bravura performance and certainly the best Macbeth I have seen filmed.