Author Topic: Jon's Random Reviews  (Read 65443 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #195 on: May 03, 2011, 01:21:36 AM »
Good review Jon, I've owned this film for a few years and tried to watch it once, but I lost focus on it. I'll have to give it another go.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #196 on: May 03, 2011, 01:41:49 AM »
I have reviews ready to post for the three films I mentioned and I'd strongly recommend you look up Il Posto and Mamma Roma at least. You might get the same benefit from them as I did before going into 8½ again. You have to get used to Realism's complete lack of plot and those two are very easy watches (Il Posto is gentle, but adorable), while being more experimental than Bicycle Thieves. I adore that film, but these are the best part of 20 years later and the movement had developed considerably.

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #197 on: May 03, 2011, 01:53:35 AM »
This happens to me a lot with certain foreign films, I go into it when I'm really not up for it. The Children of Paradise is a good example. I couldn't get past the first hour when I originally watched it, but the second time, I was ready for it, and now I absolutely love it. I have a feeling Otto e mezzo will be the same.

Najemikon

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Salt **
« Reply #198 on: May 15, 2011, 05:06:46 PM »
Salt **

Year: 2010
Director: Phillip Noyce
Rating: 15
Length: 105 Min.

Angelina Jolie stars as Evelyn Salt,a trusted and loyal CIA operative who is forced to go on the run when a Russian defector convinces her superiors that she's a double agent sent to assassinate the President of the United States. As the intense manhunt heats up, Salt uses all of her skills as a covert operative to elude capture as she fights to uncover a secret so explosive it could change the course of world history.

Salt is rubbish. Let’s get that out of the way first. If all you’re looking for is a basic “should I watch this” review, then be assured, you should not. Don’t waste your time, money or sanity. And in the unlikely event there is a sequel, don’t start thinking you missed something.

It’s worth saying why it is such a disappointment, particularly considering the director is Phillip Noyce. The first hour of the film is actually ok, but Noyce never used to just be ‘ok’. We had watchable fun like Blind Fury, and Dead Calm had some real tension. Neither of them tried to punch above their weight, but he also directed Patriot Games and The Quiet American, both of which were solid, character driven political thrillers, with truly astonishing set-pieces. Salt is clearly a cross between Bourne and Bond with tits, so Noyce’s contribution following Paul Greengrass and Martin Campbell should have been much more interesting. I honestly think the ambush sequence in his second Jack Ryan film (Clear And Present Danger) was a big influence on the action genre and holds up today. Much of its success was probably down to the always reliable Harrison Ford, but that was the point. Noyce keeps his star character front and centre, no matter what the sequence was.

The star of this film, Angelina Jolie, is certainly worth seeing for that first half. Salt was supposed to be a Tom Cruise vehicle (he probably bailed when he saw the full script!), but switching to a female agent is no gimmick at least. Her escape early in the film is great and will pique your interest. Even here though, the action runs like a predictable computer game and then by the halfway point the story is getting too silly to be taken as seriously as the cast seem to. The high-point is a clever twist on an assassination attempt, but it nosedives so quickly! It becomes an absolute joke during the second escape sequence, when Jolie uses a Taser to control the driver of the police truck she’s in. No, really, I’m being serious. It’s almost “one jolt for forward, two for backward”! I defy you to keep a straight face. I know some action films are successfully built on such silliness, like Shoot 'Em Up, but the story here is taken so seriously. From then on the shameless audacity of the writing will keep you laughing so you don’t fall asleep from the dull, lumpy narrative with daft flashbacks.

Clearly writer Kurt Wimmer is the real villain here. His IMDB profile is a list of dull crap, the highlight being Law Abiding Citizen. He also did Street Kings, another film that had a grain of potential swallowed by awful plotting. He’s down for the Total Recall remake, so I’m raising the prediction of that films quality from “Probably Rubbish” to “Shoot Me Now”. Salt feels like a prequel to the game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, it’s that bad.

When I first saw the trailer, I was pretty convinced this was an update of the Kevin Costner thriller, No Way Out, but the premise is really just a device for a straightforward ‘accused and on the run to prove innocence’ plot. The twist being, you can’t be absolutely sure Salt is innocent. That just detracts, whereas films like The Fugitive and French thriller Tell No One have more tension because the viewer knows where they stand from the start.

By the end, where even the worst films can have a glimmer of redemption, all hope is lost. Jolie had been doing her best to keep the thing afloat, with genuinely good help from her two co-stars Liev Schreiber and Chiwetel Ejiofor, but all three of them are undone by an awful plot. It always had an uphill struggle. I thought the Russians were our friends now? Aren’t the Koreans supposed to be the ones we’re all paranoid about? It feels desperate and dated straight out of the box. The DVD/Blu-Ray just compounds how awful it is, with two alternative cuts, one of which has a different ending. I didn’t think it could be worse, but bloody hell it really can! The three cuts just show how messed up and unfocused the production was.

Too much Salt really is bad for you. And trust me, that awful gag was still better than the film!   :-[
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 05:10:23 PM by Jon »

Rogmeister

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #199 on: May 15, 2011, 08:12:11 PM »
Interestingly, "Salt" is one of the movies I gave my brother this past Christmas.  Maybe that's why he hates me now!  :laugh:
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 12:41:52 AM by Rogmeister »

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #200 on: May 15, 2011, 09:40:32 PM »
The movie did take itself too seriously.  It isn't one of my favorites and I haven't been tempted to buy it, but it was entertaining overall.

An alternate ending?  Oh dear.  That's probably bad...I didn't particularly like the ending they used for theatrical, but with the direction they took the story in, I don't know how they could make it better.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #201 on: May 15, 2011, 10:14:38 PM »
On the Blu there were three versions. In the "Director's Cut", the film is more violent apparently and it ends the same way, but for one difference:
(click to show/hide)

The "Extended Cut" has the biggest departure. So big I think it is actually shorter than the other two! So what does "Extended" mean anyway? :laugh: :
(click to show/hide)

Actually, all things considered, the Extended Cut works best of the three. That end scene is actually very good and more in keeping with the tone of the story, plus the epilogue finale has a punch, visually.
(click to show/hide)

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #202 on: May 16, 2011, 12:26:28 AM »
Good grief.  Those are just...weird.  Though it isn't like the movie made the most sense overall anyway.

Offline Achim

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Re: Salt **
« Reply #203 on: May 16, 2011, 06:05:50 AM »
Salt was supposed to be a Tom Cruise vehicle (he probably bailed when he saw the full script!)
Cruise bailed and made Knight and Day instead. So surely you're nort saying that the script quality was a factor for hijm, are you? :tease:


Fun review :thumbup:

Offline goodguy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #204 on: May 16, 2011, 07:31:54 AM »
I normally don't like movies that operate in cheat mode (i.e. keep things from the audience that the main character(s) are well aware of), but in a spy movie it makes a certain sense and I enjoyed the is-she/is-she-not twists here. I also liked the revival of the cold war thriller; it reminded me of a lot of movies I barely remember.  :)

Plot and execution are of course completely ridiculous and the movie is all the better for it, especially as it actually has the guts to follow things through instead of presenting the hero with a medal and a patriotic speech at the end (yes, I'm referring to the bore fest Eagle Eye again).

Still, all of this wouldn't have worked without Angelina Jolie in a performance that reminded me more of McLane than Bond or Bourne. It's easy to think that female action heroes are a dime a dozen these days, but rarely are they done as right as in this case.

Btw, I only watched the Director's Cut and didn't bother with the other versions.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 07:37:00 AM by goodguy »
Matthias

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Sunrise *****
« Reply #205 on: May 22, 2011, 07:43:23 PM »
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans *****

Year:  1927
Director: F. W. Murnau
Rating: U
Length: 94 Min.

This new edition of Sunrise contains two versions of the film (both in 1080p HD): the previously released Movietone version, and an alternate silent version of the film, recently discovered in the Czech Republic, of a higher visual quality than any other known source.

The culmination of one of the greatest careers in film history, F. W. Murnau’s Sunrise blends a story of fable-like simplicity with unparalled visual imagination and technical ingenuity. Invited to Hollywood by William Fox and given total artistic freedom on any project he wished, Murnau’s tale of the idyllic marriage of a peasant couple (George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor) threatened by a vamp-like seductress from the city (Margaret Livingston) created a milestone of film expressionism.

Made in the twilight of the silent era, Sunrise became both a swan song for a vanishing medium and one of the few films to instantly achieve legendary status. Winner of three Oscars® for Best Actress (Gaynor), Cinematography, and a never-repeated award for “Unique and Artistic Picture”, its influence and stature has only grown with each passing year. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the world première of Sunrise on Blu-ray.


There are a few members of this forum who love a good romance. I implore you to seek out this film, it's just wonderful.

It seems to me that whenever a new innovation is introduced, history shows that cinema suffers somewhat as artists scramble to use the new technology. We’re seeing it at the moment with 3D (again) and decades ago, the introduction of sound, the widescreen ratios and even colour. There is possibly no finer example than Sunrise, a silent film and a glorious demonstration of a director working at the height of his powers, yet it possibly lost some momentum being released just days before The Jazz Singer, which is criminal. In any case, F.W. Murnau perfectly balances a variety of visual techniques to tell a story in such a way that the lack of spoken dialogue is actually a benefit. It makes you wonder if it is even possible to tell this story today.

It is the story of a marriage being tested and reborn. A farmer is tempted to leave his wife and sell his farm for the promises of an immoral city girl (a brazen Margaret Livingston). She plants the idea of murder in his mind to get rid of his wife and he almost goes through with it. On a trip to the city, the young couple face up to that awful truth and rediscover what they mean to each other. It sounds simple, but it has an epic sweep that will catch you off guard.

George O’Brien is incredible as the farmer and I was amazed at the humanity and subtlety of his performance, considering that in the first act he is so tormented and largely shuffles around like a Golem under the woman’s control (the double-exposure trick that shows him unable to get her off of his mind was stunning). He blossoms later on and brings such humour to the character. His wife, Janet Gaynor (a more attractive version of Drew Barrymore in some shots!), will break your heart as she has to suffer her husbands near fatal decision and especially later in the café as he rather pathetically tries to make amends to her, a near broken woman at this point. How can a plate of cakes be that emotional? It’s just superb! A fantastic performance and I was convinced by her intentions, while I know some may feel her husband is unforgivable.

The whole journey of the boat (loved the shot of the dog, trying to keep them ashore), the farmers desperate race to land after realising his stupidity and their entry to the city on a tram could be one of my favourite and most memorable sequences of any film. There is much wrapped up in there. As the urban rat race comes into full view, with the tram racing through traffic and cityscapes, they are so caught up in their torment they are oblivious to it and I felt regret that they were missing it, if that doesn’t sound ridiculous! It’s such a thrilling journey, one she was clearly relishing and now it was ruined.

All of that and the café scene culminate in a wedding they stumble upon and they listen to the ceremony. It is as if they are getting married again. He becomes distraught at hearing the vows and it’s as if he makes them again himself. I don’t usually explain so much of the plot, but I felt it was important here, because in many reviews I’ve read, it seems that the following scenes that make up the middle act are considered too silly and so I wanted to stress the importance of that wedding. What follows is essentially a second honeymoon. They wrap themselves up in each other, embrace the city and experience a pure joy. You owe it to yourself to join them as Murnau clearly does. His montages and pans are exhilarating, particularly during the fair, while the comedy of the smaller moments is beautifully timed (drunken pig!). Nothing is wasted as it all adds to the relationship being rebuilt on stronger foundations than ever, right up to the moment the man literally throws his wife back on to the tram! This may be a masterpiece of Expressionism, but it is also a sublime example of Hollywood Romance and proof that it never pays to be too cynical.

I found the storm scene that followed fascinating. If one considers the emotional focus of a narrative, and that we had left the city behind with no individuals to be concerned about, to what end was Murnau thinking when he shows the storm hitting the city first? Why are we interested in what happens there now we are back in the boat? My take on it is that the couple had outran their own metaphorical storm (his frantic rowing to shore), but it had continued to chase them and was now catching up, still needing to be dealt with. The city that they knew was a fantasy. There was no reference to the woman that caused all this and only the briefest nod to their baby, left back at home (whom the man had not been shown with anyway). They were literally drifting back to reality.

The story is reassuringly predictable up until this point. But the storm has potential to wipe the slate clean and I thought that was brilliant. Perhaps we’re supposed to join in with the silliness of the middle act with the same abandon as the couple and not worry about the underlying story yet to be resolved. Murnau would reacquaint us when necessary and that time is now.

This is an incredible piece of work. Murnau proudly directs with a passionate and consummate grasp of his ability to stretch the storytelling right into the animated title-cards, montages, comedy asides and pure Expressionism. I loved every second of it. It’s been a long time since I watched a film and immediately watched it again. This fantastic Blu-Ray release gave me an excuse with the alternative version.

I started this review by implying that cinema suffers, at least temporarily, when new innovations derail artists still exploring the limits of their craft. I wonder how aware F.W. Murnau was of this, especially considering the title. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but maybe we shouldn’t look on Sunrise as a swansong of the silent era, but in fact as a beautiful and defiant promise of what is always possible in cinema, an art form able to reinvent itself with every film. Every generation of movie-goers deserves its Sunrise.

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #206 on: May 22, 2011, 10:08:00 PM »
Extremely good review Jon.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #207 on: May 23, 2011, 12:03:58 AM »
Thank you, and I still missed stuff I wanted to say! But I might as well write a book on it if I don't stop somewhere...  :laugh:

Offline goodguy

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #208 on: May 23, 2011, 02:18:47 AM »
Great review, Jon. I may have to seek this out some day, although I'm afraid I will be a little disappointed again as it was the case for me with the equally praised L'atalante.
Matthias

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Random Reviews
« Reply #209 on: May 23, 2011, 09:03:51 PM »
I've never seen that before either, I need to catch up with Vigo's films. My gut feeling is you would respond well to it, but then I have been wrong before! ;)