Author Topic: Antares' Short Summations  (Read 120476 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #135 on: November 03, 2011, 11:41:39 PM »
Road House (1948) 3.5/5 - Ahhhh, Ida Lupino... if I could have just one woman from the Golden Age of Hollywood, it would be her. No one could play the bad girl types like she did. She had that waifish look, a melodic, warbling voice and the smoking sensuality that made good guys go bad. In Road House, she plays a chanteuse at a lounge owned by Richard Widmark. Widmark's character is completely smitten with her, but when she falls for his good looking friend and manager of the lounge (Cornel Wilde), his jealousy overcomes him and he frames him for embezzlement. He has the judge parole him into his custody, just so he can drive a wedge between the two lovers as he makes his life a living Hell. But this only bonds the two closer, and when the trio go on a trip together, Wilde and Lupino make a break for it, with Widmark in psychotic pursuit.

Not a great film, but it delivers the goods. Once again, Richard Widmark plays the lecherous type to perfection. As I've written before, Mitchum was the God of noir, but Widmark is the Beelzebub.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #136 on: November 14, 2011, 07:07:20 AM »
Avatar (2009) 2/5 - In my youth, my favorite band was Yes. Not only did I love their music, but I was completely enthralled with their album covers, which were created by graphic artist Roger Dean. I used to think that it would be so great to have a film based on his atmospheric and fantasy landscapes. Well, 35 years later, James Cameron did it. If I were to rate this film on the technological achievements alone, I would probably rate it 4/5. While it is amazingly beautiful, at times I also found it a bit too much. Kind of like turning a kid loose in a candy store, and eating himself sick. I think that if Cameron could have, for once, set his enormous ego aside, and let someone who knows how to write a good screenplay, take over that part of the film, then this could have been a masterpiece. I can't tell you how many times I cringed listening to the cliched dialog in this worn out story. I can understand the hype, but when all is said and done, it's all just eye candy, that in about another five years, will be forgettable when the next level of graphic CGI emerges. That's the double edge of the special effects sword...eventually, it will look as antiquated as King Kong does today.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #137 on: December 07, 2011, 06:43:04 PM »
The Nazis: A Warning from History (1997) 4.5/5 - I've pretty much seen almost every documentary on Adolph Hitler and the Nazis and figured that this one wasn't going to shed too much light on that devastating moment in history. Boy, was I wrong! This has to be one of the best treatments on this subject that I've ever watched. What separates this documentary from the countless, by the numbers types that are repeated ad nauseum on the History Channel is this... There is very little time spent on battles and more time is spent showing how they came to power. Instead of chronicling the events of The Final Solution, and Himmler and Heydrich's role in it,  they feature lesser, but still prominent Nazis such as Arthur Greiser and Dr. Josef Bühler. These are men that you hardly ever hear mentioned in Nazi documentaries. The best part of this series, is that they don't portray the Nazi hierarchy as efficient, ruthless monsters, but as incompetent, petty boors who happen to be in the right place at the right time to seize power on a stunned and demoralized post-Versailles Germany. If you are interested in watching this excellent series, it is posted, in its entirety on YouTube.

I've set them up in a playlist...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPYoEGrFEkA&list=PLF63C7414151EF571&feature=mh_lolz

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #138 on: December 10, 2011, 10:14:08 PM »
Scrooge (1935) 3.5/5 - Seymour Hicks played Ebenezer Scrooge probably more times than all the other actors who have portrayed the greedy miser combined. He started in 1901 as a young man, and by 1935, had the character down cold. I used to think that Alastair Sim was the quintessential Ebenezer Scrooge, but after watching Hicks, I'm starting to change my mind. His Scrooge is more crotchety, and mean spirited in the beginning, while his transformation to a humble philanthropist is on par with Sim. The film itself, stays pretty true to the narrative of Dicken's short story, and the supporting cast handle their roles admirably. I wish that some DVD company would spend just a little on remastering the print of this film, because having another excellent version of this story alongside the Sim version, is gravy for the goose...pun intended.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #139 on: December 21, 2011, 04:37:54 PM »
Wings of Desire (1987) 3.5/5 - I actually watched this film about a month ago and forgot to write a review on it. Now that four weeks have passed by, I am at a loss to think of anything in this film that was truly memorable. As I was watching it, it held my curiosity and there were some truly beautiful scenes, but as a whole, I will probably never watch it again. Bruno Ganz was great as can be expected, and I loved looking at Solveig Dommartin. It's a shame she died so young. Sorry if there's not much written here, but the film just didn't grab me. I liked it, but barely.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2014, 11:05:42 PM by Antares »

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #140 on: January 07, 2012, 09:01:00 PM »
Watergate (1994) 4.5/5 - You have to hand it to the BBC. They really know how flesh out the details of a story in their documentaries. I stumbled upon this five part documentary on YouTube, and I must say that it is the best program I've ever watched concerning this egregious moment in American politics. While every other documentary focuses mainly on the events post arrest of the burglars, this sets the stage with interviews with the participants, detailing what was originally planned, and how screwed up it all became. My first observation is that the whole operation was doomed from the start because of the fact that G. Gordon Liddy was involved. Listening to not only him, but the others talk about some of the hair-brained schemes he wanted to implement, one feels a sense that if they made a modern day film about Watergate, then Jim Carrey should play Liddy, he's that crazy a character.

It's a shame that by the time this documentary was made, both John and Martha Mitchell were already deceased. It would have been interesting to hear the former Attorney General's take on the event and its aftermath, and it definitely would have been entertaining to listen to Martha run her mouth off again. If I can find one fault in this series, it would be that the BBC paid very little attention to the efforts of the many reporters who tore away at the layers of security involved in the cover up. Also, very little is mentioned in regards to Hugh Sloan, the man at the Committee for Re-Election of the President, who eventually was the whistle blower.

If you've ever wanted to really delve into this infamous event, then this would be the best place to start.

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #141 on: January 07, 2012, 10:24:54 PM »
Have you ever seen David Frost's interviews with Nixon? I haven't seen the film that was done recently, but I mean the actual footage of the original broadcast. I recently saw an new, extended interview with David Frost where he talked at length about the preparation and what led up to a virtual confession from the ex-President. It's a fascinating insight into old fashioned journalism.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #142 on: January 08, 2012, 12:19:36 AM »
I watched it when it originally aired. The thing is, Nixon came off not only as criminal and lecherous, but also sympathetic too. After that interview, he was kind of reborn as an elder statesman. Americans just love to forgive someone who comes clean.

It's a shame he stooped to the covert crap, because his presidency would have been considered one of the best of the 20th century had Watergate never happened. He brought an end to the Vietnam War, signed a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia and opened up diplomatic relations with communist China. Not to mention that the economy was running on all cylinders during his terms as President.

Unfortunately, Nixon was the Captain Queeg of U.S. Presidents, a paranoid personality who saw plots behind every door.

Have you ever seen this documentary?

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #143 on: January 08, 2012, 01:17:30 AM »
No, but I think I remember hearing about it. I'll have to try and keep an eye out for it. BBC4 specialises in showing both new and old documentaries.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #144 on: January 09, 2012, 01:02:39 AM »
Twelve Monkeys (1995) 4/5 - I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen too many of Terry Gilliam's films, even though I'm a huge Monty Python fan. I think my problem lies with the fact that I know I'm going to have to invest myself completely with the storyline because of Gilliam's cerebral screenplays and his attention to detail. Last night there was nothing on television and I couldn't think of a DVD in my collection that piqued my interest, so I started surfing the channels and fell upon this film. I started to get that uneasy feeling that I usually get when I'm undecided about sinking my teeth into a complex film, as I felt I wasn't in the right frame of mind, but after about 15 minutes, I was hooked. Usually films about time travel don't sit well with me because you can usually find holes in the screenplay to make the time travel aspect inconceivable as written. But Gilliam's storyline is completely plausible and has enough twists to keep it compelling throughout. Bruce Willis and Madeleine Stowe are both excellent in their roles, but Brad Pitt steals the show every time he's on screen. I read on IMDB that Gilliam took away Pitt's cigarettes to get a more manic delivery from him, and this obviously worked to a tee. I think now that I'm finally going to seek out Gilliam's other films, if they're half as good as this was, I'll be happy.

samuelrichardscott

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #145 on: January 09, 2012, 01:07:22 AM »
Please check out the documentary Lost in La Mancha if you're interested in Gilliam. You'll love it.

KinkyCyborg

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #146 on: January 09, 2012, 02:12:12 AM »
Twelve Monkeys (1995) 4/5

I think now that I'm finally going to seek out Gilliam's other films, if they're half as good as this was, I'll be happy.

Give Tideland a try. It is controversial, offbeat, shocking, will leave you feeling squeamish and Gilliam is completely unapologetic about it. 12 Monkeys is good too and I must admit that I am as shocked that you liked it as you were! I didn't think you were a big fan of sci-fi films let alone ones about time travel.

Offline Achim

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #147 on: January 09, 2012, 05:16:56 AM »
I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen too many of Terry Gilliam's films, even though I'm a huge Monty Python fan.
Gilliam's films are (almost) nothing like Monty Python (except Jabberwocky maybe).

My favorites are The Fisher King and above all Brazil (his version of 1984). Time Bandits is great fun (and still fairly close to Python) but Munchhausen can be skipped, I guess. I did like Twelve Monkeys and fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (the memory of the latter is rather vague though). I have not seen Brothers Grimm and Tideland and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #148 on: January 10, 2012, 06:40:47 PM »
The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) 4/5 - My favorite genre in films is Film Noir, but running neck and neck with it is jidai-geki chanbara films from Japan. A few years ago I started catching a lot of these films on IFC on Saturday mornings. Unfortunately, they would start at 9AM and being in the hospitality industry, I'm usually still sleeping at that time. So I've caught most of these films in midstream. One of my favorites of these genre of films are the Zatoichi films. Now that Criterion is streaming free films on Hulu, I've gotten to see the first two films in their entirety. A lot of the character traits of the blind masseur are still to be worked out in the following installments, but the basis of the character is intact. He's a master swordsman who likes to gamble. He calls himself a yakuza, but the moniker doesn't fit. In this first film, we get a Yojimbo style screenplay with Zatoichi in the middle of two rival yakuza clans. It takes a while for Zatoichi to draw his sword, but when he does the action is fast and furious. Subsequent films would get to the action much quicker, as fans wanted to see the prowess of this master swordsman and less of the character development that this film had. What also sets this film apart from it's successors is that Zatoichi is a bit more cynical in this one. Later on, he would come across as comical, and that's why I think the first few outings are the best.

The Tale of Zatoichi Continues (1962) 3/5 - With the success of the previous film, Daiei Studios knew that they had a profitable alternative to Toho's Yojimbo character and they quickly shot this film to capitalize on it. The hurried nature is well evident in the patchwork screenplay. The story itself is good, but there really isn't anything to sink your teeth into. The fight scenes are frequent and relatively good. But as sequels go, this pales in comparison to Kurosawa's Tsubaki Sanjûrô. Even though this entry is rather light, I'm looking forward to the next four films in the series, as they are also freely available on Hulu.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #149 on: January 12, 2012, 07:20:45 PM »
New Tale of Zatoichi (1963) 3.5/5 - The third film in the franchise is an odd duck. A deeply somber turn for the blind masseur as Zatoichi returns to his home village where he learned his masterful sword skills. He meets up with the sensei who trained him and the sensei's younger sister. Her name is Yayoi and the sensei has arranged a marriage to a wealthy samurai family for her, but she doesn't want to marry out of necessity. She has fallen in love with Zatoichi and after an emotional confrontation in which both he and she express there feelings for each other, Zatoichi renounces his lifestyle and promises the girl to lead an exemplary life from then on. When his former master learns of their intentions to marry, he berates Zatoichi and expels him from his house. Up until this point, the film kind of slowly meanders through a couple of divergent subplots involving a yakuza who was related to the outlaw leader that Zatoichi killed at the end of the second film, and the sensei’s involvement in a kidnapping plot against one of his students. It moves so slowly, that I started to feel that this film was going to turn out to be a dud in the series. But after Zatoichi’s expulsion, the film shifts into high gear with lots of swordplay and the inevitable scene with Zatoichi leaving the village after breaking his promise to Yayoi and massacring a small army of yakuza thugs.

While not as sharp as the first film, this entry had me enthralled after the romance was exposed and Zatoichi was forced to engage the yakuza gang. It was the first time in the series that I felt pity for Zatoichi and his handicap. Maybe this was a ploy to get female viewers more involved in the character, and if it was, then I think it works. Not a great film, but a solid entry in this long franchise.