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The President of what?

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The President of what?

#41

Post by Local Hero -- aka MestnyiGeroi » April 22nd, 2012, 9:38 pm

brokenface on Apr 20 2012, 08:30:31 AM wrote:Quills (Kaufman, 2000) 7/10

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This is a showcase for Geoffrey Rush who seems to have a lot of fun playing the flamboyant and relentlessly perverse Marquis de Sade. The central conflict concerns the battle of wills between Sade and both Joaquin Phoenix, the repressed Abbe who runs the asylum in which he luxuriously lives, and Michael Caine, a witchfinder-general-lite type of doctor who is appointed by Napoleon to cure Sade from his habit of writing blasphemous and obscene books. Moving between them is Kate Winslet, a laundress who helps Sade smuggle his writing out, and who the Abbe loves.

Now apparently it is all complete bunkum in historical terms, extreme liberties taken with the story, but such things do not concern me greatly. It makes for an entertaining film, though it does have a tendency to go overboard - sometimes hard to take seriously. I've mentioned elsewhere I'm not a big fan of Michael Caine and I can not quite see him as sinister as he is supposed to be here, but that's probably my own problem. I'm sure he's good enough..
The opening shots of this film are cleverly arranged, but eventually I realized that the entire rest of the film was going to be absolutely nothing but spoon-feeding the audience in a juvenile manner the same message already clearly implied in the opening 30 seconds. The praise I sometimes see this film given always makes me shrug.

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#42

Post by brokenface » April 22nd, 2012, 11:42 pm

Le Amiche (Antonioni, 1955) 7/10

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A film about a group of women, with their own problems and with problems that intersect. They are sometimes friends, sometimes rivals, but this being Antonioni, they are all ultimately alone.

With 5 prominent and not entirely dissimilar-looking female characters, I have to say I did struggle at times to place who was who and probably missed some subtleties along the way. Also, it's a very dialogue-heavy film, which makes me wonder how much is lost in subtitles for a non-speaker.

Still, it's probably my favourite of his 50s films that I've seen, though I'm not exactly sure why. Just went well with a nice bottle of Portuguese wine ^_^
Last edited by brokenface on April 22nd, 2012, 11:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#43

Post by brokenface » April 22nd, 2012, 11:43 pm

ignore - double post
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#44

Post by brokenface » April 23rd, 2012, 2:25 pm

L'amour existe (Pialat, 1962) 8/10

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Fascinating and nostalgic early essay-documentary short by Pialat. Not about love, but about architecture and the built environment in post-war France, and its effect on people. A reflective and (presumably) personal take on living in the outskirts of Paris.

50 years old, but still relevant in some ways, only if it was made today, it'd be impossible to talk about these parts of Paris without talking about immigration & race.

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#45

Post by brokenface » April 23rd, 2012, 8:36 pm

Kapurush/The Bad Man/The Coward (Satyajit Ray, 1965) 7/10

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This is a simple tale about a man who unexpectedly runs into a past love and tries to undo the mistake that caused their relationship to end.

The two met when studying, and the relationship ended due to an act of cowardice on his part (hence title). Years have past, he is now a successful screenwriter, while she is married and living in some rural backwater which he happens to be passing through as part of research for a film.

There is a bittersweet feeling to the film - first love, the possibility of a second chance and all the 'what could have beens'. Nothing too new or unusual here, but it's nicely done with a strong female lead.

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#46

Post by brokenface » April 23rd, 2012, 9:11 pm

Topaz (Hitchcock, 1969) 6/10

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I can see why this is no-one's favourite Hitchcock. It's an earnest and apparently fairly faithful to an amalgam of real events in the buildup to the Cuban missile crisis. Cold war shenanigans of defecting Russians and people working for the other side and so forth.

Problems, though: it just seems there's too many characters, who are not really developed enough to care about who they are or what happens to them. So all you have to care about are the stakes, which are high, of course - this could have been the trigger point for all-out atomic warfare - but you never quite get the sense of this backdrop with the fairly mundane briefcases-and-microfilms type of spy-work going on.

On the one hand, we should perhaps praise Hitchcock for moving a bit out of his comfort zone and attempting to present this world more as it is in reality - not Cary Grant being chased by cropdusters, but an array of bland characters with focus on methodical progression of information. But this doesn't make for the most satisfying viewing experience - it fails to engage as well as the various John Le Carre adaptations, which manage to demonstrate these type of downbeat spy games far more successfully. And it's a good half-hour too long.

It's another one which we could put as precursor to those 70s conspiracy films, even if not great example in its own right. Visually, the most arresting moment is the one pictured above, otherwise camerawork is good but not particularly memorable.

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#47

Post by bal3x » April 23rd, 2012, 11:07 pm

6/10 is what I rated Topaz, indeed one of the weaker later efforts from Hitch.
Good call also on the conspiracy angle, turns out I had already added it to the paranoia list :)

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#48

Post by brokenface » April 24th, 2012, 3:59 pm

The Silence (Bergman, 1962) 6/10

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Some Bergman films click for me, others just don't, at least not on first watch - unfortunately this one falls in the latter category. Can't fault the photography or the acting, and the hotel setting is effective for evoking the claustrophobia. When the little boy was running round the corridors I half expected him to bump into a pair of twins who want to play with him for ever and ever and ever. Instead there's just a doddery old porter and gang of dwarfs. More bizarre than creepy!

While the film shares similarities with things like Cries & Whispers and Persona, this is more restrained and I just never felt too close to understanding the two main characters. Probably need another watch, but not sure when I'll feel like going back..

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#49

Post by brokenface » April 24th, 2012, 4:10 pm

Mods/anyone: I wanted to include a link to this thread as my signature. When I tried, it doesn't seem to let me add a link using the usual [ url ]... [ /url ] format

Is that not allowed or am I missing a trick with signatures?

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#50

Post by mightysparks » April 24th, 2012, 4:14 pm

This is the code for mine if you want to just copy and paste the linky bits.

Code: Select all

"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

[center][size=1][url=http://www.icheckmovies.com/profile/mightysparks/]iCM Profile[/url][/size] | [size=1][url=http://www.last.fm/user/MightySparks]LastFM[/url][/size][/center]
[center][url=http://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/icm+boards+1001+favourite+movies+2012+edition/mightysparks/]iCM Board's 1001 Favourite Movies[/url][/center]
"I do not always know what I want, but I do know what I don't want." - Stanley Kubrick

iCM | IMDb | LastFM | TSZDT

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#51

Post by brokenface » April 24th, 2012, 4:17 pm

Ta. I think I was just being stupid and had missed out the http:// on my link..

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#52

Post by brokenface » April 26th, 2012, 3:57 pm

Lord of the Flies (Brook, 1963) 6/10

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A faithful adaptation severely hampered by the acting. Sorry, they are kids so I should cut some slack, but the delivery of lines is just so unconvincing. They constantly sound like they are reading the script for the first time. Not so bad when someone is doing more of a monologue but when they are interacting it sounds horribly unnatural.

That said, it's a classic story - I studied it at school, so knew it well (maybe I saw this adaptation then as well, I'm not sure) - and the descent into brutality is quite well portrayed. I think overall though, you'd be much better off reading this.

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#53

Post by bal3x » April 26th, 2012, 4:12 pm

brokenface on Apr 26 2012, 09:57:03 AM wrote:Lord of the Flies (Brook, 1963) 6/10

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A faithful adaptation severely hampered by the acting. Sorry, they are kids so I should cut some slack, but the delivery of lines is just so unconvincing. They constantly sound like they are reading the script for the first time. Not so bad when someone is doing more of a monologue but when they are interacting it sounds horribly unnatural.

That said, it's a classic story - I studied it at school, so knew it well (maybe I saw this adaptation then as well, I'm not sure) - and the descent into brutality is quite well portrayed. I think overall though, you'd be much better off reading this.
Interesting take, I think this is definitely the best adaptation of the book (have you seen the 1990 version?) and I never thought the acting was poor here. Anyways, certainly the book is great (I also studied it at school, hehe), it is in fact one of my all time favorite books - it's sort of a simple story about kids on an island, but at the same time it's a complex look at the human nature, really makes you think.

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#54

Post by brokenface » April 26th, 2012, 4:20 pm

Haven't seen the other version, to my memory. Would be surprised if I didn't watch one when I was studying but I just cannot remember..

I think its one of those books schools love to teach :lol: It is great though, so can't fault them for that. Certainly preferred it to Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare!

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#55

Post by bal3x » April 26th, 2012, 4:21 pm

brokenface on Apr 26 2012, 10:20:12 AM wrote:Haven't seen the other version, to my memory. Would be surprised if I didn't watch one when I was studying but I just cannot remember..

I think its one of those books schools love to teach :lol: It is great though, so can't fault them for that. Certainly preferred it to Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare!
Or Fielding's Tom Jones :lol:

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#56

Post by brokenface » April 26th, 2012, 8:11 pm

Mahapurush/The Holy Man (Satyajit Ray, 1965) 7/10

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A tale of religious fakery. Our fat false prophet suckers in a wealthy lawyer, but a man who desires his daughter seeks to prove his fraudulence. A simple story, well told. DVD case pitched it as a comedy and while it didn't exactly make me laugh, there were moments of mildly amusing absurdity (the prophet's assistant dancing around wearing ganesh arms). Possibly some is also lost in translation.

I think its far from essential S.Ray, but a good little movie in its own right.
Last edited by brokenface on April 26th, 2012, 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#57

Post by Lilarcor » April 26th, 2012, 8:26 pm

Great thread!

Just one thing I want to mention... I think the yellow text such as in the title for the latest movie is hard to read on this forum for some reason, all other colours are okay though. Anyone else struggling with this? Might just be me.

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#58

Post by brokenface » April 26th, 2012, 8:29 pm

Yeah, I see what you mean with the yellow. I'll avoid that in future!

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#59

Post by brokenface » April 26th, 2012, 9:44 pm

El Mariachi (Rodriguez, 1992) 7/10

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Desperado is one of my guilty pleasure movies, so it's pretty shambolic that I've never until now gotten round to seeing the original. I've even seen the messy sequel Once Upon a Time Mexico before this one.

Now this is notoriously low-budget - which sometimes shows, but what it sometimes lacks in sets and so forth it makes up for with inventive camera work and a sense of humour (the one-man mariachi band!).

It's pretty limited plotwise - could probably have been done in an hour - but it keeps you entertained. Have to retain a heathen viewpoint that the American remake is superior, partly 'cause I saw it first and partly 'cause it does genuinely benefit from bigger budget in terms of what it can do (adding Steve Buscemi, Danny Trejo, etc). Carlos Gallardo is likeable as El Mariachi here, but Banderas was just cooler B)

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#60

Post by brokenface » April 27th, 2012, 2:16 pm

Joi Baba Felunath/The Elephant God (Satyajit Ray, 1978) 8/10

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A good alternative title would be The Hunt for the Missing Ganesh as this plays out like a great 40s mystery yarn. An invaluable family heirloom is stolen and a detective is brought onto the case along with his two sidekicks, with their investigations leading them to an array of colourful characters. One cannot help but think of films like The Maltese Falcon, but the setting of the holy city of Benares is rather different from LA!

It plays out at leisurely pace with various side turns into religious fakery, bodybuilding, knife-throwing and adventure stories. The more I watch of S.Ray, the more impressed I am with his versatility. This is undoubtedly one of his lighter films - in Graham Greene terms it would be 'an entertainment' rather than one of his literary novels, but like Greene, his entertainments are still intelligently made and worthwhile.

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#61

Post by Kowry » April 27th, 2012, 9:49 pm

Moco in El Mariachi is a pretty hilarious villain :D

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#62

Post by brokenface » April 28th, 2012, 12:14 pm

My Name is Julia Ross (Joseph H. Lewis, 1945) 7/10

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Nice little Hitchcockian film from one of the best b-movie directors of the 40s. Nina Foch plays a woman who gets a job with an employment agency which turns out to be something completely different.

Barely scrapes over an hour, has some implausibilities but nothing too terrible, makes for a good mystery. I'm sure Hitchcock with a bigger budget would've got a bit more psychological torment from the scenario, but it works well enough & has a solid noir look. Dame May Whitty is good as the seemingly genial old lady. Bonus points for the utterly inappropriate closing scene kiss (the guy is driving and happily just takes his hands off the wheel to lose himself in the moment when she plants herself on his face :lol: ).
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#63

Post by brokenface » April 28th, 2012, 5:37 pm

I bambini ci guardano/The Children are Watching Us (De Sica, 1944) 7/10

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This one was much more in the realm of melodrama than De Sica's later neorealist films, and it seemed a bit heavy-handed. It's about a sad little boy whose mother is having an affair, and the effect that has on him and his father. Can't fault the look of the film or the acting, but the sentimentality was one notch too high for me to really like it, and the plot was that bit too contrived. The ending was effective, mind.
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#64

Post by bal3x » April 28th, 2012, 6:01 pm

I fully agree with your assessment about it being overly sentimental, that was indeed the reason that I could not rate it higher than 8/10 and it does not reach the level of De Sica's other masterpieces.
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#65

Post by brokenface » April 29th, 2012, 6:46 pm

The Furies (Anthony Mann, 1950) 7/10

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The star of the show here is Walter Huston, and it's interesting to note it was his final film. Quite an poignant ending for a great Hollywood character actor. Barbara Stanwyck almost matches him - here she plays one tough broad.

The film was pretty bleak in outlook. None of the characters are particularly likeable - they're all happy to screw each other over for money & pride. Film was a bit unevenly paced, but it looked good - naturally, being Anthony Mann - and the central conflicts played out well. Probably a little longer than necessary, but still a fine Western. Another 7/10 - I give too many 7s but so be it. It's my default rating for like and respect, but didn't love.

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#66

Post by brokenface » April 29th, 2012, 11:15 pm

Hodejegerne/Headhunters (Tyldum, 2011) 8/10

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I kinda want to rip this film to shreds. In some ways, it really was awful. Yet I can't deny it was damn entertaining. If it's a deliberately ridiculous take on the twisty thriller genre, it's possibly ingenious. If we're supposed to actually buy into any aspect of the plot, well, let's just say that I didn't!

It starts slick. All I knew about the film going into the cinema was that it was a thriller about an art thief, and I thought we were in typical heist territory. Main character is a corporate headhunter by day, art thief by night. A very smooth operator. I roll my eyes at all the copious product placement and the general fetishism for corporate lifestyle that overwhelms the first part of the film.

But then it takes a turn. I guess I'd better spoiler the rest
Spoiler: click to toggleShow
- gone is the art heist movie, enter an old school chase film. Possibly the most ludicrous chase film I can remember seeing. Every single aspect of the plot from this point on is absurd. Every character is nonsensical. The villain is a cartoon character, the hero has regenerative qualities exceeding even Jack Bauer, the women characters are all paper-thin eye-candy.

But the chase is fun! The pace from this point is relentless, there's some nice action sequences in the John Woo show-offy kinda way, and our main character gradually transmogrifies in looks from slick businessmen to Peter Lorre at the end of M. Just when you think it's reached a peak of brain-melting craziness, it throws in another twist or another car crash.
I was gonna rate it 6 but there's so many bits I giggled at, and my admiration for the sheer chutzpah to make such a ridiculous film that I give it 8! When the inevitable Hollywood remake comes along, I'm only going to see it if it's directed by Werner Herzog and stars Nicolas Cage.
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#67

Post by Lilarcor » April 29th, 2012, 11:48 pm

I wasn't really interested in seeing that film but now I am.

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#68

Post by brokenface » April 30th, 2012, 12:04 am

Remember to switch your brain off before you start watching :P

(I'm just laughing at some of the IMDB reviews which seem to think it's an intelligent non-Hollywood-style thriller. I guess they have just programmed themselves to say this about any non-English film. This is Hollywood-style slick and mindless entertainment!)

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#69

Post by brokenface » May 1st, 2012, 12:18 am

Szindbád (Huszárik, 1971) 8/10

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This was a film to sit back and absorb yourself in. It looks beautiful, it sounds beautiful. The settings are lush and decadent. Mmm, ice-skating. Ahhh autumn leaves. Oooh, super close-up of cauliflower being prepared. There is much food here.

There's no real story, it's fragments of memories - a hedonistic man, Sindbad (the sailor?) going back over past love affairs, meeting up again with women he hasn't seen for years. You soon lose track of who the women are, and whenabouts we are in his life (or is he dead already?). They talk in a vague, melancholy manner. It's all very Art Film, likely to appeal to people who like Malick and so forth. If it didn't irrationally bug me, I'd probably be using the word 'poetic' in my review ;) Sometimes these kind of films don't work for me, but this one really did. Lovely stuff.

Another great release from Second Run, who I like to plug, as I credit them with introducing me to a number of favourites. They are great at putting out English friendly DVDs of overlooked classics, particularly from Eastern Europe (this one is Hungarian). A list has been put on ICM by timec:
http://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/second+run/timec/
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#70

Post by brokenface » May 1st, 2012, 11:54 am

Vodka Lemon (Saleem, 2003) 7/10

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Set in the snowy mountainous region of Kurdish Amenia, this is rather bleak (unsurprisingly this is an area of poverty) but is also something of an absurd tragi-comedy in a slightly Roy Andersson way. The central story is about the meeting of a widower who is having to sell all his furniture just to survive and a widow who works at Vodka Lemon, a roadside shack which might just be the saddest looking bar in the world ('why is it called Vodka Lemon when it tastes like almonds?' 'that's Armenia').

The film looks lovely - snow can't help but be beautiful even in the most uninspiring of places - even if there is slight overuse of shots with isolated characters against big white backdrop.

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#71

Post by brokenface » May 1st, 2012, 9:56 pm

Dogville (von Trier, 2003) 5/10

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Interesting as an experiment in style & staging, but I can't say I enjoyed it a great deal. Another of Lars' let's-make-a-woman-really-suffer films - this time taking Winesburg, Ohio (a great book) and making it a much darker place.

I got the sense it's dragged out an hour longer than needed to give all the many thesps a chance to have a few scenes. Couldn't get free of the idea it was an actor's workshop, which always stopped me really believing in the film.

Did like John Hurt's narration, sorta reminiscent of Barry Lyndon, and it's a lot better than the horrible Dancer in the Dark but I don't think I'll be visiting Dogville again any time soon.

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#72

Post by bal3x » May 2nd, 2012, 12:34 pm

Yeah, that's another movie 178 min too long :D

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#73

Post by brokenface » May 2nd, 2012, 3:57 pm

In This Our Life (Huston, 1942) 6/10

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Call Northside 777 (Hathaway, 1947) 7/10


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A pair of 40s films. First a Bette Davis/Olivia de Havilland melodrama. Bette and Olivia are two sisters named Stanley and Roy (!). Olivia is good and dull, Bette is bad and fun, as you'd expect. Decent enough, but not much to make it stand out from other Bette pictures of the time.

Second is a Jimmy Stewart crime/legal drama. Has a somewhat noirish look (and co-stars perennial noir man Richard Conte), but it's not really a noir plot. A bit of slow-burner but quite effective, and Jimmy is always an engaging lead.
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#74

Post by brokenface » May 3rd, 2012, 1:13 am

I Wake Up Screaming (Humberstone, 1941) 7/10

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Early noir. The plot was nothing spectacular, but featured some utterly lovely B+W and shadows. Main thing I can talk about here is one of my favourite forgotten Hollywood actors: Laird Cregar. A large man, he died tragically young a few years after this when he lost too much weight too fast in his attempt to become a leading man rather than a great character actor. He is pure charisma on screen. Here he is like an early version of Hank Quinlan.

Also features the great Elisha Cook Jr. Victor Mature is supposed to be the star, but he can't really stand up to this level of supporting actor.

Excellent title. I either missed where it came from, or it was totally unrelated to anything in the film :lol:

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#75

Post by brokenface » May 5th, 2012, 10:45 am

The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers (Milestone, 1946) 7/10

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Melodramatic noir. Rather slow and clunky in the first half, but built up very effectively, with Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Kirk Douglas making a fine central trio. There's also Lizabeth Scott, but her character gets too much time without ever being too interesting.

Visuals are nothing special, the usual shadows. The ending
Spoiler: click to toggleShow
is somehow too positive for noir. I like my noirs to end utterly bleak. Van Heflin had tragic, pointless death written all over him, but he gets to drive off with the girl. Better would have been for evil Babs to kill Kirk & Van and get away with it. End with pathetic Lizabeth getting the bus out of town, alone.
Half an hour too long, but pretty good thanks mainly to Stanwyck & Heflin.

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#76

Post by brokenface » May 5th, 2012, 9:56 pm

Kokoro (Ichikawa, 1955) 7/10

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Strong drama, based on classic Japanese novel (which I haven't read!). Set in late 19th and early 20th century, it's a sort of existential crisis film - the central character has gradually declined into depression and inactivity since the death of his close friend while they were both students. The film goes back and forth between 'present', where his wife is concerned with his state of mind and their deteriorating relationship, and back to his student days to develop his repressed history with his friend.

I couldn't say it's an easy watch, it's a character study with a lot left to your own interpretation, but it's very well acted (Masayuki Mori in the lead) and it looks great, as you might expect from Ichikawa. Seems like it's very overlooked amongst Ichikawa's films, I was only the 13th person to check it on ICM.

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#77

Post by brokenface » May 6th, 2012, 12:06 am

Love Happy (Miller, 1949) 5/10

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Needed something light after heavy-going Kokoro. This was the last official Marx Brothers film, though it's mainly a Harpo film, with Chico in supporting role and Groucho just doing occasional narration for much of the movie, only briefly entering into the main plot late on.

There's the odd good gag, and not a bad villainess, but the whole thing feels so slow compared to prime Marx bros (they always had lulls for plot/music, but here even the gag sections seem slow). Never captures the same mayhem and it badly misses interaction between Groucho and the other two - even Harpo and Chico aren't on-screen together much, though they do manage a pretty good Harpo-mimes-an-important-message scene. There's various mediocre musical numbers - only Harpo's harp scene stood out, because it was quite sweet - and Marilyn Monroe (well, mainly Marilyn Monroe's cleavage) has a very small early role.

I can't hate it because I'm a confirmed Marxist, but it's certainly one that is only worth watching for completists.

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#78

Post by brokenface » May 7th, 2012, 6:54 pm

Irma la Douce (Wilder, 1963) 5/10

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Maybe risque for its time but just seemed too ridiculous to be either funny or engaging as a story. I'm not a big fan of The Apartment so reuniting of Lemmon & MacLaine didn't really excite me. Biggest problem was the length. Nearly 2 and a half hours with nowhere near the plot to fill it - it started alright, but the whole thing with Lemmon pretending to be an English lord was so tiresome and dragged out.

Certainly not Billy Wilder's finest hour. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's the worst I've seen from him, even if there was a few good lines which stopped it from being outright bad.
Last edited by brokenface on May 7th, 2012, 6:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#79

Post by brokenface » May 8th, 2012, 7:25 pm

The Blue Gardenia (Lang, 1953) 6/10

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Not a bad noir - has the atmosphere and look, but let down by the plotting. Too many convenient and unbelievable aspects, which just had me rolling my eyes.

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#80

Post by brokenface » May 8th, 2012, 9:47 pm

Les valseuses/Going Places (Blier, 1974) 8/10

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Hard one to rate. Have a feeling that if I saw it again, I'd like it even more. Took me a while to get onto the film's wavelength, but enjoyed it more as it went on.

Depardieu and Dewaere make a funny pairing, utterly without morals or compunctions. Feel like suckling on a stranger's breast? Why the hell not :lol:

There's something delightfully pointless about the whole film. A nice hangout movie, for sure. I give it 8 for the audacity.
Last edited by brokenface on May 8th, 2012, 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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