Author Topic: Danae's reviews  (Read 10192 times)

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2011, 05:16:06 AM »
Max and Mona
2004, South Africa

Max, bright-eyed and hopeful, leaves his home village for Johannesburg, to attend university and become a doctor.  Things go wrong from the beginning, when he is sent off with the sacred village goat instead of the goat he is supposed to deliver.  Max names the goat Mona, and with her in tow, ends up staying with his uncle Norman, a shady fellow who just happens to be in debt to a local gangster.  Once Norman learns Max is a gifted mourner, he comes up with the perfect plan for getting himself out of debt and making them some money...

This is a bright, funny comedy from South Africa.  Max, correctly referred to throughout the film as a country bumpkin, arrives a naive innocent, wide-eyed at the big city.  He knows nothing of the city or its dangers - or his uncle Norman and his dangers.  This leads Max into increasingly humorous, and increasingly dangerous, situations.  His innate good heart puts him at odds with his shady uncle, who nonetheless he stands by as family and tries to help. 

This is another release that is part of The Global Lens Collection, and like the rest it is obviously a low-budget film.  Like the other South African film I've seen, Bunny Chow (also Global Lens), it demonstrates South Africa's multicultural society both visually and aurally, since the characters speak a combination of English, Afrikaans and Zulu, sometimes switching from one to another and back in mid-sentence.  This was a fun movie, though it had its serious side when Max worries about upsetting his ancestors with what Norman gets him involved in, and ends on an upbeat and hopeful note.

Definitely worth watching, unless you absolutely can't stand subtitles.

Overall:  3/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2011, 01:16:45 PM »
Evil Roy Slade
1972, USA

Orphaned as an infant, Evil Roy Slade grew up alone (save for some vultures) to become the meanest villain in the West.  A notorious outlaw, his robberies have made him a life-long enemy in Nelson Stool, a railroad tycoon.  Yet Evil Roy is perplexed as to what he should do when he falls for a pretty schoolteacher.  She, however, sets out to reform him after declaring her love.

We actually watched this a while ago, I just hadn't written anything yet.  Evil Roy Slade was made for TV, and with the cast you just know it's going to be hilarious (John Astin, Mickey Rooney, Milton Berle, Dom DeLuise).  It's a spoof on the western genre - how often have we seen the story where the no-good outlaw is made right by the love of a beautiful woman?  Yet here Evil Roy gets her involved in his outlaw shenanigans after trying things her way and failing at reforming.  Ultimately Evil Roy stays true to himself.  There are some really great lines in the film; I especially love the one about the dead neighbor and all six apples.  

If you like westerns you should enjoy this, since it's hilarious and you'll get all the jokes.  I think it would be funny even for someone who hadn't seen a lot of westerns, but not being that person I can't be sure.  

Overall:  3/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2011, 06:59:30 PM »
Du levande (You, The Living)
Sweden, 2007

This plotless film is made up of 50 or so vignettes, illustrating moments, dreams, fantasies, nightmares in the lives of a group of people, some named, many not, that appear and reappear in the different sketches.  As the overview states they "illustrate the truth, humor, poetry and drama of human existence."

I got this DVD free (along with two others) for ordering the film 9 Songs on blu-ray from Palisades Tartan.  They all sounded interesting, and it was such a good deal at 3 DVD & 1 blu for $15.  Having now watched the first of the group, I'm pleased to say it was worth it.

Disclaimer first - this is an art film.  Capital A-R-T art film.  This is not for everyone.  In fact, there's no one among my RL friends I could recommend this to.  However, Moira and I enjoyed it a lot.  It's very thematic and has a unique visual style.  Everything is washed-out, pallid and illuminated.  Shadow is something you won't find.  Things are laid bare.  Many of the vignettes are very funny, in a dark comedy vein.  Others illustrate the issues developed through loneliness, a lack of connection with others, and a lack of comfort and compassion.  Yet the ultimate message of the film is that "tomorrow is another day" and life is what you make of it.  Not simply persevering through the bleak moments in your life, but doing something for your own happiness (even if most of the characters don't). 

A great film, if you don't mind getting out of the box that most film is created in.  Absolutely see this if you enjoy art films, and can eliminate any expectation that film should have certain elements (like plot or main characters) and can simply sit back and enjoy it for what it is.

Overall: 4/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2011, 03:57:39 PM »
so, after a long hiatus of not posting (and much not watching, darn this year)...


Schatten: Eine nächtliche Halluzination (Warning Shadows: A Nocturnal Hallucination)
Germany, 1923

A baron and his wife welcome four men into their home for a dinner party.  The four pay their amorous admiration and attention to the flirtatious lady, sparking fierce jealousy in her husband.  A travelling entertainer joins the party later and weaves a shadow drama for them eerily mirroring their own lives...

As if you can't tell by the year, this is a silent film.  In fact, this is an extra-silent silent film, because there are no intertitles.  Arthur Robinson, the director, wanted to make a purely visual film.  I'd say he succeeded.  The plot is both simple enough to follow without dialog yet with enough complexity to hold attention.  The actors are all marvelous at creating their characters and drawing them out as people.  I was especially impressed with Fritz Kortner, the actor who played the baron.  He was incredibly expressive and talented (though he wouldn't make it as a leading man in Hollywood today, for he was not particuarly good looking). 

The real star of the show, however, are the visuals.  The camera work is very inventive and the use of shadows, reflections, silhouettes and lighting are striking and creative. One should expect this, however, as Schatten is part of the German Expressionism movement.  This is the second film in that movement I have seen (the other being Das Kabinett des Doktor Caligari) and I have quickly become a fan.  Both films are dark, moody and very artistic.  Schatten is also tinted in shades of yellow and purple, further adding to its artistic quality.

The release is from Kino on Video, and the film is reconstructed from two surviving prints.  The quality is pretty good for a film of this age, but print is not pristine, and especially at the beginning of the film I noticed the damage in the print.  However my notice of it quickly faded away as I watched the film (whether because there was less damage or I simply didn't notice it anymore I'm not sure).

I would recommend the film if you like art films or silent films.  I would not recommend it for anyone whose film culture is simply modern Hollywood.

Overall: 3.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Najemikon

  • Guest
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2011, 04:52:47 PM »
Good to see you back, Danae! Nice review too. I'll look out for that one.

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2011, 08:01:33 PM »
Good to know someone else thinks they'll enjoy it!
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Najemikon

  • Guest
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2011, 08:24:51 PM »
Absolutely. I'd encourage anyone who thinks they dislike silent cinema to at least give certain ones a try, because much of Hollywood came from the same roots. Watch M, Sunrise or a Chaplin film like City Lights and you've already seen half of the conventions still being used today.

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2011, 06:06:31 AM »
El Orfanato  (The Orphanage)
Spain, 2007

Laura returns to her childhood home, a large orphanage long since abandoned, with her husband Carlos and son Simón. Laura and Carlos plan to turn the old orphanage into a home for disabled children. After they move in, Simón acquires several new friends that only he can see.  After finding out he is adopted and arguing with his mother, Simón disappears one day.  Laura searches endlessly for him, becoming ever more convinced that his disappearance is connected to the supernatural...

I tend to avoid most modern horror, because I'm not into slashers or torture porn.  However, I picked it up for two reasons:  1) it's executive produced by Guillermo Del Toro, whose Pan's Labyrinth I greatly admired, and 2) the reviews were really good and praised it for its lack of cheap thrills.  Those two things made it sound like a film I would enjoy, and I'm glad I picked it up.  It's a wonderful film.

I was very impressed with Belén Rueda, the actress who plays Laura.  She really had to carry most of the heavy load of the film and she doesn't disappoint.  She gives a very powerful and intense performance.  Geraldine Chaplin, who plays the medium, is also very good, and Montserrat Carulla is appropriately creepy in her role.

El Orfanato is all about atmosphere and mood, really making you feel like you're in this huge old house and that something is just outside your vision.  There were several moments that made me jolt sitting on the couch, as far as the scares go.  There's almost no gore, so if that's your cup of tea, avoid.  If you like old-fashioned horror films then you're sure to enjoy this one.

Overall: 4/5
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 04:51:56 PM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2011, 02:34:24 PM »
M
Germany, 1931

Several children have been murdered.  The public is in a state of hysteria.  The police are baffled.  The criminals are searching for the man who makes their business hard.  And the murderer struggles with himself as he tries not to kill again, knowing that he will.

A perfect film.  An absolute gem.  Peter Lorre gives a fabulous performance as the killer, a man struggling with mental illness.  Lang's direction is spot on, with nary a wasted shot and certainly no wasted moments.  Everything is perfectly in place.  Watching the mobsters and the police with their different, yet similar, approaches toward catching the murderer was delightful.  The strongest moments are at the end, as the criminals struggle with what to do with the man, and we also symbolically struggle with it.  Beckert is obviously mentally ill, yet our imperfect system may let him out to kill again, and what is the right answer?  Lang doesn't give it to us, only the arguments, and both sides compel.  He leaves it to the viewer to decide.

Aside from Peter Lorre's powerful performance, one of the finest of his career, the cinematography and lighting are also perfect, as is Lang's usage of visual metaphor (the rolling ball, the rising balloon) that keeps the violence off-screen makes it all the more menacing.  Everything comes together in a single, perfect package.

M is full of suspense and atmosphere, and challenges the viewer to think.  Criterion's blu-ray release is also beautiful and packed with supplements.  I look forward to going back to enjoy those.  Recommended for anyone and everyone who enjoys a good film. 

Overall: 5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #24 on: November 15, 2011, 04:49:46 PM »
The Invisible Man
1933, United States

A brilliant scientist invents a mysterious serum that makes him invisible.  But the chemical forumla also drives him insane.  Can he find the way to come back before madness takes over?

Watching The Invisible Man it's amazing to think it was made in 1933.  The effects are so ingenious and so well done it seems like a much more modern film.  Claude Rains performance is a classic, amazing to listen to what he is able to do and embody the character he creates with his voice.  The film is very dark, but also very funny at a number of points.  Of course that dark comedy is a trademark of director James Whale.  Rains is not the only good actor, the supporting cast are also excellent, though I quickly got annoyed with Gloria Stuart's hysterical and weepy Flora.  However, that's a minor complaint to an otherwise great film.

Not only an influential film, but one that still holds up very well and is very fun to watch.  Recommended for anyone who enjoys classic horror or classic films in general.

Overall: 3.5/5
« Last Edit: November 15, 2011, 04:59:33 PM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2011, 04:22:49 AM »
Spooky Buddies
2011, United States

A mansion haunted with a puppy's ghost, an evil warlock bent on world domination, and a quintet of talking puppies and their kids to stop him ...

Do you really need an overview?  It's a Buddies Halloween film.  It's a light and silly Halloween themed fantasy starring adorable talking puppies!

This is the sixth Buddies film, which of course are spinoffs of the five Air Bud films.  None of them are going to win any sort of award as a great film.  They're silly, cheesy and rather campy.  Have you seen any of the others?  Do you like talking puppies?  Do you want to turn your brain off for 88 minutes and laugh at an incredibly silly villain?  If so, this film is for you. 

Recommended if you have young kids who like dogs, like cute puppies yourself, have any of the other Buddies movies, or enjoyed Beverly Hills Chihuahua.  Skip it if you take yourself too seriously.

Overall: 2.5/5
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #26 on: November 21, 2011, 02:05:16 PM »
Murders in the Rue Morgue
1932, United States

Dr. Mirakle and his ape Erik travel with a sideshow.  Mirakle believes in the kinship between ape and man, and is obsessed with proving it - by mixing ape and human blood, and finding a human bride for Erik.  In Paris they meet medical student Pierre and his fiancee Camille, who may be the perfect choice...

This is a very loose adaptation of the famous Poe story.  Poe focused on the investigation into the murders, director Florey focuses on the reasons behind them.  This makes Murders a horror film rather than a detective story, and (despite a few problems) it's a rather effective horror film.  

The highlight of the film is Bela Lugosi's Dr. Mirakle.  Lugosi owns every scene he's in, drawing the viewer in and commanding attention.  His brilliant and demented scientist is quite believable, cultured, charming and menacing at the same time.  The cinematography by Karl Freund, who also did cinematography for Dracula and Metropolis, is also great.  Light and shadow really work toward creating the horror atmosphere here.

The biggest drawback I had is the choice of what to do with the ape.  Erik is billed by Mirakle as a gorilla, and played by two different actors - for long shots we see a man in a suit, while close-up shots of Erik's face are portrayed by a chimpanzee.  It's painfully obvious it's a chimp and not a gorilla and that really jarred me out of the atmosphere of the movie.  It would have been better to simply have the man in the suit the whole time.  Secondarily, the supporting cast is nowhere near as good as Lugosi.  Sidney Fox's Camille and D'Arcy Corrigan's mortician are pretty good but Leon Waycoff (later Leon Ames) is rather hopeless as the hero Pierre.  The rest fall somewhere between.  

It also reminds one of King Kong when Erik takes Camille across rooftops, immediately making Moira and I comment about Fay Wray - and only to realize later this was made a year before that famous film.

Recommended if you enjoy Bela Lugosi (his performance is marvelous) or classic horror films.  This is pre-code so it's a little more dicey - the scene where Dr. Mirakle kills a prostitute comes to mind - but there's no gore.

Overall: 2.75/5
« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 02:26:48 PM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #27 on: November 24, 2011, 06:56:33 AM »
She Done Him Wrong
1933, United States

Lady Lou enjoys her men and her diamonds, not necessarily in that order.  She enjoys the gifts and protection of saloon keeper Gus Jordan, unaware of the illicit activities (prostitution, counterfeiting) that makes him rich.  Another suitor is busy ratting Jordan out to the police so he can have Lou to himself.  Her ex is in prison, doing time for stealing diamonds for her - and every man in the prison knows her too.  But Lou herself is more interested in the straight-laced man who runs the mission next door...

What a great film!  Sure, it's short on plot but plot isn't what this film is about.  It's a vehicle for Mae West, and as such it works like a charm.  The dialogue is witty and bawdy, and West's delivery oozes sex appeal.  Of course, the sex appeal isn't the only thing about her.  In many ways She Done Him Wrong is a film about female empowerment.  Lou is a strong woman.  She's confident, smart, and in control - a liberated woman who always comes out on top.  The rest of the cast play their parts well, but this is Mae West's film.  

If you're a woman you should watch this one at least once.  If you're male, well, you should enjoy watching Mae West anyway.  

Overall: 3.5/5
« Last Edit: November 24, 2011, 07:01:20 AM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield

Offline Danae Cassandra

  • Heavy Poster
  • *****
  • Posts: 911
  • Country: us
    • View Profile
Re: Danae's reviews
« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2011, 03:11:47 AM »
Megamind
2010, United States

It's a dream come true for super villain Megamind.  He has finally defeated his nemesis, Metro Man, and gained control of Metro City.  Is this his destiny?  And what comes after that?

I was in the mood for something fun, and I knew this would fit the bill nicely.  For a comic geek this is a great spoof of Superman.  Megamind plays a Luthor-esque character, all brains and gadgets and over-the-top nefarious plans.  Think Superfriends or early Bronze Age Luthor, rather than the more modern takes on that character.  I really loved the bit where Megamind is doing the Space Dad part, where his voice kinda sounds like the Godfather, who of course was Marlon Brando, who was also Jor-El in Superman.  Several little gags like that were a lot of fun.

This came out the same summer as Despicable Me, another villain-centered cartoon, so you can't help but compare.  Despicable Me is ultimately the better film, but that doesn't mean Megamind isn't good.  It's great fun, has  a cool soundtrack and really good animation.  A comic book geek will probably appreciate it more, but just about anyone should have a good time watching it.

Overall: 3.25/5
« Last Edit: November 28, 2011, 03:48:39 AM by Danae Cassandra »
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-- Thorin Oakenshield