Green Zone – 6.5/10
This film doesn’t quite work, but there’s a lot of good things I like about: Peter Weller; the quirky dialogue; the camp; Ellen Barkin (with that sexy crooked smile of hers). Not sure why it doesn’t work completely (some of the side characters aren’t that great (Clancy Brown as a “good guy” doesn’t work); the story, particularly the ending is not very good or exciting. I wish it did work because the film has a unique sensibility.
The Secrets (2007)
Dir: Avi Nesher
SCR: Hadar Galron Avi Nesher
The Secrets was my second Nesher film – the first was Turn Left at the End of the World
His style takes some getting used to – the cuts and one has to jump over some implausibility. Both films involve young women coming of age and the poetry hits the heart with the right amount force not to be mawkish. There is the requisite water, smoking, and girl-on-girl sex, which isn’t so much gratuitous or explicit.
Radio On – Christopher Petit 1980 – 8/10
I normally dislike pop tunes soundtracks but this one works very well setting mood and place. It benefits from being diagetic.
Some Antonioni and Wenders here (Martin Schaefer was lead cinematographer) and it points forward to “Regular Lovers”.
The high point is the cinematography which continues Wenders’ beautiful bleak cityscapes.
A look at Thatcherism and its alienation that deserves some attention. Solid film.
“The Chess Player” (1927) 8/10.
After “Wooden Crosses” and “Les Miserables”, my third go-around with director Raymond Bernard again makes me wonder how he can be so ‘lost’ in the fog of film history.
This one is silent, a heady mix of fact and fiction, set during the Russian dominanace of Poland in 1776.
As the Polish resistance grows, baron von Kempelen, a genius with mechanical things, has built an ‘automaton’, a robotic figure in the appearance of a Turk sitting at a chess-table. The machine has a human operator inside, but the illusion is that the machine itself beats its chess opponents.
When a Polish revolutionary is wounded and sought by the Russians, Kempelen attempts to smuggle him out of the country inside the Turk. There is also a love story. Of course nothing goes as planned….
Bernard shows great visual sense and a deft touch with the actors, resulting in a film that plays more ‘modern’ than you might expect. Edith Jehane does overdo the fluttering eyes and heavenward glances a bit, but in general the cast is very good and subtle.
This is a big-budget, stylish production, with fine battle scenes and lush sets. Bernard’s hand-held camera is in evidence again. The Fritz Lang-like sequence where von Kempelen’s automated “security system” springs into action is quite unforgettable.
Von Kempelen was real, and so was his “Turk” chess machine. This adds to the fun of yet another beautiful work by this terrific French director.
“A Colt Is My Passport”
Jo Shisheido is super.
Wonderful Jap B movie
better than “Youth Of The Beast”
Werckmeister Harmóniák (Béla Tarr, 2000)
perfect intercourse of sound and picture.
A Foreign Affair (Wilder – 1948) 7/10The Ruling Class (Peter Medak – 1972) 7.5/10Kiss Me Deadly (Robert Aldrich – 1955) 7.5/10Vem (Cvitkovic – 2008) 7/10Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana (Kaurismaki – 1994) 7.5/10The Goodbye Girl (Ross – 1977) 7.5/10California Split (Altman – 1974) 8.5/10Le Franc (Mambéty – 1994) 7.5/10The Long Goodbye (Altman – 1973) 7.5/10Cheaper By The Dozen (Lang – 1950) 5/10Do Not Disturb (Levy – 1965) 5/10My Darling Clementine (Ford – 1946) 8/10Last Holiday (Wang – 2006) 5/10Along Came A Spider (Tamahori – 2001) 4/10Tony Manero (Larrain – 2008) 8.5/10The Scarlet & The Black (London – 1983) 6.5/10
Whoa, easy up on the cinematic burn throttle there, Rump. :)
The Last Waltz
I wasn’t very familiar with The Band’s music, but the music was enjoyable enough. (I didn’t think the interviews were very interesting or entertaining). I did like the way the music didn’t have any boundaries—at least with the various American “folk” musics.
wow jazz I think scorsese has never outdone The Last Waltz
You mean, you think it’s his best film? I’m curious to hear why.
all the movements of camera compliment the songs
and the concert is amazing as are the interviews.
He did similar great work with No Direction Home and Shine a Light
Closely Watched Trains (1966) Jiri Menzel. 4/5
Gorgeous black and white cinematography and wonderful, irreverent Czech humour, it’s a winner!
SOME LIKE IT HOT (Wilder, 1959)
Priceless American sex farce. Farce on film just doesn’t get any better than this. Monstrously good in every way.
Johnny Guitar (Ray, 1954) – 7/10
“Heaven’s Gate” (1980) 3.5/10.
Seen by few, but panned by many, Michael Cimino’s budget-buster is certainly one of the most expensive missed opportunities in Hollywood history. At 219 mins, the film is not too long; the script is too short.
The “Johnson county war” between cattlemen and new (foreign) settlers has good story elements: Manifest Destiny-style expansion of the West, the battle between “The Law” coming from Washington versus the rough justice of the territories, and the racist dislike of the Eastern European newcomers who are seen as ‘intruding’ on the lands used by cattle barons.
The love triangle between Isabelle Huppert/Kris Kristofferson/Chris Walken is the emotional driver of all this, and it is woefully poorly written, and ,thus, executed on film.
Moments come where you as a viewer start getting caught up in the story, only to be let down by the badly paced and underdeveloped arc of the three protagonists.
In addition, the love story and the ‘big story’ (the land conflict) are not integrated well, giving film scenes a tableau-like quality that greatly undermines any emotional involvement one might develop.
Individual scenes and lines have good stingers in them, but you feel some of the heavy lifting going on to make the footage compensate for the writing. A nice anti-establishment tone pops up now and again but is wasted within the greater shortcomings.
It’s all the sadder, for the film is a visual feast, courtesy of Vilmos Szigmond: the Harvard graduation, glorious landscapes, toiling peasants, sun-burnished, dust-filled streets and the titular dance hall where the roller-skating dance takes place. At that moment, the film takes off joyfully and you go with it, wishing it would stay up there. David Mansfield’s acoustic music is one of the genuine pleasures of the film.
What one is left with is a big, beautiful mood piece of the West, done with fanatical care and at great expense, and purely on that level, the film does deliver. As a dramatic film, it is a great teaching tool for what happens when a script fails in its storytelling, despite all the money and efforts in the world.
My rating is for Szigmond’s visuals, the production design, Mansfield’s music, and Cimino’s misguided sincerity in doing this.
Apologies to Vilmos Zsigmond; name corrected.
scorsese has never outdone The Last Waltz
Agree with Den, although No Direction Home is also one of the best biopics by any director outside of Watkins
DIR Jean-Luc Godard
SCR Jean-Luc Godard
Death, sex, money – what more can be said for the bourgeoisie
A Godardian knot – farcical, theatrical, hysterical, political
DIR Atom Egoyan
SCR Atom Egoyan
DP Norayr Kasper
Passive-aggressive character study makes 74 minutes seen like an eternity.
Film has an eye, but no ear. You 5/5 people need to explain how the elements of this film come together to produce a gestalt.
Les Enfants du Paradis (Marcel Carné, 1945)
9/10 – 10/10?
three, perfect, hours.
une des plus belles histoires d’amour jamais vues au cinéma (L)
“Paris, Texas” (1984) 9/10.
Wim Wenders’ intimate, deceptively simple study of love, loss and redemption is masterful filmmaking on all levels.
Harry Dean Stanton and Dean Stockwell are perfect as brothers reunited after 4 years, Stanton having been rendered mute and seemingly mad by some event in his past.
The journey that follows is quiet and very powerful, as Stanton’s character tries to come to grips with his failed life.
The ending delivers an emotional wallop that rings very true.
Robby Muller’s cinematography is alternately dusty and brown and hyped with hot colors as the trip progresses and Ry Cooder’s slide guitar wails in perfect harmony with the images.
Sad, hopeful and occationally gently funny, this is a film that stays with you.
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (Ford, 1949) – 8.5/10
The Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski)-8.5/10
“Paris, Texas is one of my top 5 movies (and my first Criterion purchase, since discovering them) If it was your first time I envy you, love to have that feeling again!
If we hadn’t had Lenny Bruce we wouldn’t have had Bill Hicks (so looking forward to the BIll Hicks story).
Dustin Hoffman plays him brilliantly, Iove Bob Fose’s direction. I’m a sucker for for American 70’s movies.
I saw the film in the theatre when it first came out, and I was not ready for it; I remember being bored and not getting it.
It is a masterpiece. Its simplicity and universality of feelings will make it last.
“Red Road” (2006) 7.5/10
Buttoned-up, lonely woman works as a monitor for the Glasgow police surveillance department. Day after day she sits at the screens as life goes by in the ghettos of the city, watching the camera feeds with detached amusement.
One gets the idea something has just about burned her out.
When she spots a man she knows has been in jail, the story starts to tense up as she begins to follow him and then meet with him. Things progress from there to a hard but necessary ending.
Director Andrea Arnold makes the most out of the situation of being able to play god in the monitoring center, and Kate Dickie is a powerful and sexy presence as the woman.
Arnold has a way of dropping major plot elements into the story in an offhand way that keeps you on your toes as you watch. The film also contains one of the hottest sex scenes in quite a while in a semi-mainstream film.
Unfortunately, as the plot gathers steam, we get away from the CCTV center and that takes out the powerful, voyeuristic angle that drives the first part of the story. However, Dickie is a great female version of ‘the loner’ and as intended, we scratch our heads as the film goes along, until all becomes clear.
The last scenes would feel too ‘easy’ if it weren’t for the sneaking suspicion that the character will never be completely normal again.
This is part of an offshoot of the Dogme movement, and there will apparently be two more films with the same cast and different stories and directors.
Letter from an Unknown Woman (Ophuls, 1948) – 10/10
S., I thought you said you NEVER give a film 10 after your first time seeing it. ;)
Or was it THAT good!? :D
Zachary: Actually I saw it on YouTube before. ;)