Author Topic: Antares' Short Summations  (Read 280188 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #480 on: July 11, 2020, 07:17:30 PM »
Vera Cruz (1954) 57/100 - I usually love a film directed by Robert Aldrich, but this was a slog from the get go.
Cooper seems to be uninterested, Lancaster is so over the top, it gives credence to Frank Gorshin's pitch perfect impersonation of him.



Smiling isn't acting Burt! Lots of soon to be big names in supporting roles, but they are mostly played for comedy relief or bullet fodder.
Denise Darcel is horrible, leaving Sara Montiel as the only bright performance in this mess of a film. If you're a Gary Cooper or Burt Lancaster completest, then you might like it, but I'd skip it.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #481 on: July 11, 2020, 07:19:15 PM »
Day of the Outlaw (1959)) 80/100 - Last week I watched Sergio Corbucci’s famous spaghetti western The Great Silence, a film heralded for its unique setting of a desolate snow covered landscape. But Corbucci just uses it as a backdrop to the main story line. Here, it's part of the screenplay and because of this, this is a forgotten gem of a western and leaps and bounds better than Corbucci's effort. You feel the wind chill, you agonize alongside the men who trudge through the deep snowdrifts. A few minor changes and this would have been considered a top 10 western of all time. The first change would have been to lengthen both the beginning and the end portions of the film at the cost of the middle. Not enough time is given to building up the tensions between Blaise Starrett (Robert Ryan) and the homesteaders of the town. Leaving De Toth with only the middling middle portion of the film, when the outlaws arrive. Burl Ives is great again as the leader of the outlaws, who stops in the town to have a bullet removed from his chest. While he recovers, he forbids his men from whiskey and the wives of the homesteaders. Unfortunately, the supporting cast who play his band are pretty bad, and the subsequent scenes appear cartoonish, with the exception of David Nelson. A few years ago we had a discussion during a past March western marathon as to the depth and ability of Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo. Ricky got the musical talent, his brother had better acting talent. His role is pretty standard fare, so you can't look upon it as eye opening, but he does hold his own, and shines far brighter than his fellow character actors. Another change I would have made would have scrapped the romantic entanglement between Ryan and Tina Louise, it serves no purpose and Louise's delivery of her lines with Ryan are pretty uninspiring or believable. Lastly, and this is the best part of the film, I would have added a few twists to the final portion of the film when Ryan is leading the outlaws through what he has convinced them is, a secret way out of the mountains and away from the town and the pursuing cavalry. There's an integral moment when Ryan is leading them through the deep snow, the men and horses enveloped in clouds of heated breath and Ives says to Ryan, "I'm feeling better. I'm beginning to hope we're going to make it". To which Ryan responds "None of us are going to make it".
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My ending would have been much better. With only the two greedy outlaws left, Ryan gets them through the treeline and comes upon what appears to be a snow covered expanse of land. Their horses by now are tired from trudging through extremely deep snow, carrying the bulk of the gold and Ryan tells them they need to dismount and lead the horses to save their strength. As the trio is one third of the way across the supposed field, Ryan hears the slight sound of ice cracking behind him. He realizes they're crossing a hidden mountain lake and with many hot springs being located in Wyoming, they could be crossing a warm feeder stream into the lake. He mounts his horse, unburdened by bags of heavy gold, and tries to escape. The outlaw who was behind him, grabs his rifle and just as he's raising it, both he and the other outlaw, along with the weight laden horses fall through the ice and slowly freeze to death in the brutally cold water. A much bleaker ending than the ridiculously happy one tacked on by De Toth, which has
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If you like a good suspenseful story and some amazing cinematography, give this a chance. You'll see the faults I've mentioned, but it doesn't distract from the over all drama. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

Offline Antares

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #482 on: July 11, 2020, 07:20:27 PM »
Valdez Is Coming (1971)) 68/100 – This had the potential to be a really good western, but it is let down by poor direction from Edwin Sherin. The pacing is a bit slow at times and a few of the scenes should have been given a few more takes to get the scene right. Also, in the beginning, it takes you a while to accept Burt Lancaster as a Mexican, but by the end, once he’s on his quest for revenge he’s believable. I really think this film could have benefited from a Morricone type music score. There are long stretches where there is no background music at all and the film falters because of it. This was Richard Jordan’s first film and it shows. He plays a wannabe gunman who really cannot muster the strength and courage for that kind of profession, unfortunately, his bugged eyed, frenetic way of saying his lines comes across as bombastic and cartoonish. The main antagonist Tanner is played by Jon Cypher, whom you’d recognize as one of those actors who always played arrogant types, and his performance really makes the story stumble at times. The real standout performance is by veteran character actor Barton Heyman as El Segundo, the leader of Tanner's hired gunmen. At first you think he's going to be the maniacal sadist, but in the end, he's philosophical and respectful of Valdez' plight. And this leads to an unfinished ending, slightly ambiguous but truthful. While it will never be considered a classic, it would be an interesting or entertaining diversion if you like revenge films.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #483 on: July 11, 2020, 07:21:29 PM »
The Great Sioux Uprising (1953) 54/100 – It’s a mystery to me that this film never found its way onto the short list for films to be skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I generally don’t mind when a western is hokey, or cliché ridden as long as it entertains me. Usually Lloyd Bacon is a serviceable director, but given the scope of the screenplay, his hands were definitely tied. Jeff Chandler is good, but Faith Domergue is awful. At least you get to watch Lyle Bettger honing the slick villain skill he would employ throughout his entire career in westerns.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #484 on: July 11, 2020, 07:22:39 PM »
Meek's Cutoff (2010) 80/100 - I remember ten years ago when this was getting all the buzz in the cinema world. It was a film I really wanted to see, but just never got around to watching. Sadly, I forgot about it, even though there were times when I went looking for it, but I couldn't for the life of me, remember its title. Yesterday I found it on Tubi while scanning through the "Critic's picks." This could have been a sagebrush masterpiece, but for two glaring problems. First, this is the West, it's beautiful, even when it's barren, it's beautiful. Why would you want to shoot the film in 1.33/1 Academy aspect ratio? It's not like modern day theaters can't project widescreen. Was Kelly Reichardt trying to give the film a feeling for old time westerns? If she was, it didn't work. I have to believe it was budget related, and if so, then I can forgive it. The second problem arises when the film just ends abruptly. There's no resolution to the narrative. It felt like they got to a point and ran out of money, so they decided to call it a day and go with what they had filmed. This time if it was about money, I can't forgive it. Don't release the film if it's not complete.

Believe me, I was really enjoying the movie, it was showing the true hardships of pioneers on the Oregon Trail. Now I know it would have been cost prohibitive to tell the real story of the wagon train that did follow Stephen Meek, but just looking at this Wikipedia page, I know I could have come up with a much better screenplay than the one penned by screenwriter Jonathan Raymond. It feels like Raymond skimmed this article and lifted a few lines to base his sparse screenplay around. Too bad, if it had more of the story, and the right aspect ratio, I could have seen myself rating it at least 15 points higher.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #485 on: July 11, 2020, 07:23:53 PM »
The Great Silence (1968) 62/100 - After I finished watching this film, I went online to see what others thought of it. I was perplexed as to why praise is heaped upon this film. Sure, the setting is unique, but all I kept thinking was how much different and better it would have been if Sergio Leone had been at the helm. I did like the bleakness that purveys the screenplay, but some of the camera work is pretty shoddy. And I can't believe I'm about to write this, but Morricone's score is pretty banal. I really think I'm done with Spaghetti westerns, it's all downhill after Leone.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #486 on: July 11, 2020, 07:24:58 PM »
The Big Trees (1952) 60/100 - Kirk Douglas' last film under his Warner Brothers contract is a dialed in affair just to get him away from the big studio. While it never lags, the story is pretty well saturated in hokey tropes that the genre became known for.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #487 on: July 11, 2020, 07:25:54 PM »
The Hellbenders (1967) 69/100 - Only my second Sergio Corbucci Spaghetti Western and definitely a leg up on the first, Django. Django started off and ended great, but it really slogged along during the middle. This film starts off kind of sloppy and frenetic, but once it settled down, the plot twists finally pulled me in. I do think that Joseph Cotten was horribly miscast in the lead role. The dubbing is pretty bad in spots, but it doesn't detract from the viewing experience. Corbucci was known for his scenes of violence and here he ramps it up to red line status. The twist at the end was good and I didn't see it coming. A lukewarm recommendation at best from me.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #488 on: July 11, 2020, 07:27:15 PM »
David Bowie: Finding Fame (2019) 50/100 - Surprisingly disappointing documentary on the early career of one of the most iconic performers in Rock & Roll. In fact, if Bowie were still alive, he'd probably have quashed the efforts to bring it to light. My takeaway from this was that Bowie was godawful during his formative musical years. Between 1962 and 1969 Bowie had been in or fronted at least 8 different bands, none of which had even a smattering of success. And it's easy to see why, the songs have no melodic hooks, the lyrics seem to meander without much meaning and his voice isn't really that engaging or captivating. What struck me as amazing was the fact that anyone kept giving him the opportunities to record more stuff. There's a moment in the doc when the director is showing Bowie in 1968 as part of a trio with his then girlfriend Hermione Farthingale and suddenly he jumps ahead two years to 1970 and he plays snippets of Bowie's first hit Space Oddity. It was as if the director wanted to keep his viewers happy by throwing them at least a bit of the talented Bowie, because after those snippets, he goes back to the bad stuff. Unless you are a Bowie completest, I can't recommend this documentary, it's not flattering to his legacy at all.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #489 on: July 11, 2020, 07:28:50 PM »
Best of Enemies (2015) 65/100 - Interesting, yet somewhat incomplete look at the decades long war of words and ideals between William F. Buckley Jr. & Gore Vidal. The main focus of the film should have been on the debates these two political intellectuals and for the most part, demagogues had during both the Republican and Democratic conventions on ABC in 1968. Instead, the debates take second stage to the idiosyncratic nature of the two protagonists. The debates themselves, except for the big blustering moment when Buckley completely blows it, are only doled out in small snippets. Thus, you don't really get a sense of why this was such a ratings winner for ABC News at the time. And, how this one moment changed political news coverage forever. A bit too much editing of their previous debates leaves you wondering why Vidal got under Buckley's skin so easily with just a simple little phrase. The moment happens, it's shocking, and then it's over with Vidal sitting there gleefully. But the build up is insufficient to make it really hit home. If you are unfamiliar with this one great moment in television journalism, it's worth a watch. But mind you, it won't stay with you for too long afterwards.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #490 on: July 11, 2020, 07:30:28 PM »
Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (2011) 60/100 - How does one go into a remake of one of their top ten films? With trepidation, I assure you. I don't think there's ever been a better samurai film than Kobayashi's original Seppuku, and this is coming from a film fan who worships at the altar of Akira Kurosawa. At first I wondered what direction Miike would take. Would he make it more flashy, with a lot more swordplay or would he play it safe and follow the original frame by frame. For the most part, he chose the latter. And though it does reflect some of the feeling of the original, Miike stays with the parts of the screenplay that show case the misery the family endures after their clan has fallen from the grace of the Shogun. By dwelling a bit too long on this aspect, the film feels much lengthier than the 2 hour and 8 minute running time. Kobayashi's film clocked in at 2 hours, 14 minutes, but for me, it breezed by. Finally, a couple of choices made in the last act were misfires.
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Would I recommend it, lukewarmly if it's a person's first foray into samurai cinema. But if you've seen a few, then I say skip it.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #491 on: July 11, 2020, 07:31:33 PM »
Sid & Judy (2019) 85/100 - As I started the documentary I figured there wasn't going to be much added to the history of Judy Garland's career. But I have to admit, this was a pretty interesting look at the last two decades of her troubled life. I'll also admit that I have a newfound level of respect for her, she was really a human dynamo. It saddened me to see the self destructive path that the men in her life prodded her along. To die so young and to leave so many songs unsung is a tragedy.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #492 on: July 11, 2020, 07:32:24 PM »
Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) 58/100 -  This was quite a chore to get through. I don't know if it was supposed to be a loving tribute or character assassination of Debbie Reynolds. Everyone knows what a train wreck Carrie Fisher was and this documentary is a warts and all treatment of her life, mainly warts. I can understand that it must be hard to grow up in the shadow of a famous parent, but her self-loathing and her desire to wallow constantly in the pain of her past is for the most part pathetic and incredibly tedious to watch. But you do get a sense of where all that material came from in Postcards From the Edge.


Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is
« Last Edit: July 23, 2020, 12:30:42 AM by Antares »

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #493 on: July 13, 2020, 02:20:52 AM »
Deliver Us from Evil (2006) 85/100 - When this documentary was over, I felt like I needed a shower, the content had been so sickeningly vile. Director Amy Berg was actually able to find a priest, who sexually abused countless children, including a 9 month old infant girl, to appear on camera and tell his story. At the beginning of the film, he appears contrite, sorrowful and ashamed for what he had done. But as more allegations are presented and the heinous nature of his actions are recounted by his victims, his demeanor seems to drift towards a "detached from reality" form of lecherous depravity. A couple of times I wanted to reach through the screen and just beat the living shit out of him when he would laugh or smirk when talking about certain events.

I've never understood why the courts can't use Federal RICO statutes against the Catholic Church. They are running, what is essentially a conspiratorial cover up of continuing criminal activities by the clergy. I've known two priests who have been accused of inappropriate behavior with minors. One was a priest in our parish when I was a child, the other, a classmate who went on to become a priest in adulthood. And both of them fit the pattern of mild mannered, yet seductively predatory. It makes one wonder how anyone can still have faith in the Roman Catholic church. I did come away with one bit of information that I did not know before watching the film. Celibacy in regards to Catholic priests, was instituted in the 4th century AD. It wasn't preached by Jesus, nor was it begun by Peter, the first Pope. According to Father Thomas Doyle, a rebel priest who fights on behalf of victims, it was started to keep a priest's wealth in the church after they died. And when you really get down to it, that is what the Catholic Church has always been about... money.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is

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Re: Antares' Short Summations
« Reply #494 on: July 13, 2020, 10:51:06 PM »
The Young Mr. Pitt (1942) 72/100 - Entertaining bit of British wartime propaganda from 1942. Robert Donat gives another great performance as William Pitt the younger, Great Britain's youngest Prime Minister ever. Many scenes echo the events and sentiments of that time, modern, besieged Britain, at war with the Nazis. Substitute Hitler for Napoleon, the "We are alone now" ideology and somewhat, Pitt as an amalgamation of both Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain, and you have a film which pushes all the right propaganda buttons, but has no great climactic moments. It kind of ends with a whimper, but I was entertained.

Teal = Masterpiece
Dark Green = Classic or someday will be
Lime Green = A good, entertaining film
Orange = Average
Red = Cinemuck
Brown = The color of crap, which this film is