Author Topic: Antares' Short Summations  (Read 133135 times)

Offline Antares

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Antares' Short Summations
« on: December 29, 2010, 10:36:35 PM »
Just a thread where I can post the one paragraph summations on films I've watched, as opposed to my full reviews.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 12:59:56 AM by Antares »

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2010, 11:40:23 PM »
Targets (1968) 3.5/5 - Bogdanovich's first film is a tautly paced thriller using the Charles Whitman saga as the basis for its narrative. You can see the seeds of a crafted director being sown in the framing and pacing of the film. For a first film, Bogdanovich also shows restraint and good editing technique to keep the film moving forward without any hiccups. The cast, including Boris Karloff, do a good job with the material supplied, and I was surprised after the film was over and I looked up a few of them at IMDB, that none went on to successful careers. Pity, there were some good performances in this.

Daisy Miller (1974) 1.5/5 - I remember many years ago reading about how the film Irreconcilable Differences was loosely based on Peter Bogdanovich and Polly Platt's working and personal relationship in the late 60's and early 70's. After watching Daisy Miller, the correlation between Bogdanovich and Brodsky is a little more than loose. In Irreconcilable Differences, Brodsky becomes so romantically blinded by an actress he makes into an international star with her first film, that he slates her to appear in a musical version of Gone With the Wind. Needless to say, it's a disaster from the get go, and his burgeoning career is ruined. Likewise in Daisy Miller, Bogdanovich, who made Cybill Shepard a star with The Last Picture Show, plants her in a period piece which needs the depth of a well-crafted actress. Unfortunately for the viewer, Shepard is just a pretty face who grates and annoys with her shrill renderings of the dialog. But I must give credit where credit is due. I can understand Bogdanovich's fascination with Shepards looks, for she radiates in this film. Every shot, every angle, just seems to extol the natural beauty of a girl who should have remained a glamour model. More times than not, I too found myself, hypnotized by her beauty in this film. But the rest of the film is trash.

Some Like It Hot (1959) 3.5/5 - I know this is considered to be one of the funniest films in the history of cinema, but it has never gelled for me. It basically is a one joke theme stretched out like a pad of butter on a long piece of French bread. It's cute at times and there is the occasional laugh, but I feel it is one of Billy Wilder's weaker films from his most creative period. I think it's most likely Jack Lemmon's performance that probably tips the scales towards mediocrity for me. At times, he's over the top and at other times he's just outright annoying. I was surprised how good Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis were together, and the chemistry between the two was believable. Joe E. Brown is probably the best part of this film. All in all, The Apartment is a better gauge of Wilder's comedic talents.

Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) 4/5 - This was one hell of a depressing film, and I can understand why it fared poorly back in 1937. While Frank Capra's films of the time, were filled with hope for the future, McCarey's story is like a slap across the face to many of the families, struggling to co-exist in the middle of the Great Depression. I found my self squirming in my seat at times at the harshness of the children and the grandchild in this story. The only redeeming part for me, was when the father basically tells his daughter to fuck off on the phone. It's a very good film, but you will come away either feeling disturbed or guilty about you and your parent's relationship.

Remember the Night (1940) 4/5 - It is for films such as this that I thank God for Turner Classic Movies. It is probably a film which will never see the light of day on DVD, and that's a shame, because Preston Sturges' witty screenplay and the chemistry between Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray is first rate. The more films I see with the electrifying Stanwyck, the more I begin to feel that Bette Davis was overrated. No matter what the genre or the role, Stanwyck incorporates the right amount of tenderness, offset with a sensuality that her contemporaries such as Davis, Joan Crawford and Katharine Hepburn could only dream of. If you get a chance to view this, you will not be disappointed.

The Admirable Crichton (1957) 3.5/5 - Harmless little comedy starring Kenneth More as a butler named Crichton in post-Victorian England who is shipwrecked on a south seas island with his lord and his family. The tables are turned on the family when their pampered lifestyle and upbringing are completely unsuited for their surroundings, and they turn towards Crichton for the help they need to survive. After living happily on the island for two years as equals, they are rescued by a passing English ship. Now their status in English society reverts to the norm, and Crichton bids the family farewell, in hopes that the secret of their little society on the island will not be unearthed. I now know where Sherwood Schwartz got some of his ideas for Gilligan's Island.

Pickup on South Street (1953) 4/5 - I used to think that Robert Mitchum was the poster boy for definitive Noir tough guy/villain, but after watching Night and the City, Kiss of Death, Roadhouse, and Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street, I've had to re-assess my decision. Widmark, although not as cool and collected as Mitchum, just oozes sleaze out of his pores, yet can also appear like a lost little boy about to be devoured by the evil that surrounds him. In Pickup on South Street, he plays a pickpocket who lifts a wallet from Jean Peters' pocketbook on a Manhattan subway. Unbeknownst to him and Peters, the wallet contains microfilm that Peters was unknowingly delivering to a Communist spy. His theft is witnessed by an undercover agent of the FBI, who has been tailing Peters for some time, in hopes of catching the spy at the end of the delivery. The film plays out as the Feds try to get Widmark to help them catch the spy, all the while Peters tries to get the film back from him using her sexuality in the beginning, but then falling in love with him at the end. Very good Noir.

Body Heat (1981) 4/5 - Lawrence Kasdan has never been a favorite of mine, but Body Heat is most definitely his best film. Two parts Double Indemnity to one part The Postman Always Rings Twice make for a sultry and seductive nod to the great Film Noirs of the past. Kathleen Turner, in one of her first starring roles, blazes as hot as the setting in Kasdan's tale. She plays Matty, a young trophy wife of Richard Crenna, a middle-aged entrepreneur who only comes home on the weekends. Matty loves her opulent lifestyle, but longs to get away from the stifling nature of her marriage. To that end, she seduces a small town lawyer named Ned Racine (William Hurt) and convinces him to help her murder her husband and runaway together with Crenna's estate. But a big double cross awaits Racine and in the end, he gets what every Noir protagonist gets at the hands of a wily and sexy femme fatale, the big shaft.

Chloé in the Afternoon (1972) 4/5 - I really enjoyed this film and it has now piqued my interest in exploring more films by Rohmer. The dialog, pacing, emotions and framing were fantastic. At first I thought, why would this guy be interested in such a girl as Chloé, when he has such a beautiful, caring wife in Hélène at home. Chloé is cold and a little bit too masculine in her demeanor. She treats men just as any testosterone surging male would, but then Rohmer shows her softer and vulnerable side, and as the story progressed, I too felt an attraction to Chloé and I wanted to see them get together to consummate the relationship. Such is the way that Rohmer lays the story out, that when that moment is about to take place, I felt the same feelings that Frédéric feels, trepidation and a want to escape from making this most egregious of mistakes. When Frédéric returns home to his wife, whom he now realizes how much he truly loves her,
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First rate film making from a director I'm looking forward to exploring.

Five Savage Men (1970) 1.5/5 - I remember having a schoolboy crush on Michele Carey when I first saw Howard Hawk's remake of Rio Bravo, El Dorado. The sight of Michele in the tightest leather pants and that purring, sexy voice just blew me away. She never really went on to everlasting success and pretty much disappeared by the mid-70's. Now I know why. Five Savage Men has to be the worst western I've ever seen. It starts out strong, with Keenan Wynn as a ruthless outlaw who murders everyone but Carey, on a stagecoach he robs. He and his compatriots abduct the pretty schoolmarm and after stripping, tying her to stakes and raping her, they leave her for dead. She's rescued by an Apache (Henry Silva) who nurses her back to health and then helps her exact her revenge on all five outlaws.

The direction in this film is beyond terrible, the screenplay has more holes than a Confederate uniform in 1865 and the soundtrack has to be the single most annoying, and at times, silly score ever written for the screen. The only redeeming feature of this film, is that for a few brief moments, Carey is shown tied down on the ground, fully naked. Unfortunately, this is only for a scant few minutes and you are then burdened with having to watch the rest of the film. Avoid this film at all costs.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) 3/5 - I think that it's time for Woody Allen to retire. He's reached the point in his career where he feels he needs to prove he's still viable and hip to younger audiences. I found a lot of the dialog in VCB extremely forced and sadly reminiscent of better dialog from his earlier films. There's a scene in which Vicky accompanies a fellow student from her language class on a walk around town. They go into a market and the guy makes an innocent move on the recently married Vicky. As she nervously recoils, she explains why she can't accept his advances and the scene denigrates into a weak facsimile of the Michael Caine and Barbara Hershey encounter in the street during Hannah and her Sisters. All of the other dialog in the film suffers from what has always been a weakness in latter day Allen films, you can't help but feel that each character is a derivative of Allen's own personality.

Cape Fear (1962) 4/5 - What was Martin Scorcese thinking? It's been too many years for me to admit, but I should have seen this film much, much earlier. Robert Mitchum is even better in this than he was in Night of the Hunter. What doesn't work in Scorcese's version, works magnificently in this film. The atmosphere, acting and suspense are all top-knotch. What makes Max Cady menacing in this film is that Mitchum makes him believable, unlike the zealously religious caricature that DeNiro portrays in the remake.

The Ice Storm (1997) 3/5 - Ang Lee creates a beautifully moody set piece about two dysfunctional families in upper middle class New Canaan Connecticut. Unfortunately, there is no soul in the screenplay. I couldn't find one character who I either liked or cared for. Also, Lee spins the screenplay into divergent streams that are never resolved in the end. What was the point of the Katie Holmes character, what happened to Elena after they catch her shoplifting, and why don't we see Janey's reaction to the accident at the end of the film? It just felt to me that the story just meandered aimlessly for its two hour duration, and in the end, came across as an unnecessary waste of my time. Sure it was true to life, but if I don't care about the people involved, then why should it interest me.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) 3/5 - Being a huge fan of Film Noir, having not seen what I have been told is one of the hallmarks of the genre, was a glaring omission. But I must say, as Noirs go, this dog don't hunt. While it had every Noir motif imaginable, it just failed to rise above the tawdry, amateur nature of the story it was based upon. Mickey Spillane has never been my cup of tea. He's always been Hammett or Chandler lite to me. His dialog, while fast and furious on the lips, is hollow to the point of opacity.

While the pacing of the film was excellent and the framing and cinematography are top-notch, the overall feel of the narrative tends to have an oft kilter motion at times that belies a bad editing job. A few frames snipped here and there would have probably helped a lot, but being made by a poverty row company like Parklane Pictures, the funding probably wasn't available for a first class editor. Another part of the film that appeared amateurish was the musical score. At times it was right on cue when emphasizing action taking place, but at other times, it became intrusive and too bold. After finishing the film, I looked up the film's composer, Frank DeVol. After looking at his canon of film scores, I understood why the music was inappropriate at times, his greatest claim to fame were Doris Day films of the late 50's & early 60's.

If you're interested in what a Noir should look like, then check this film out. But if you want to see what a great Noir should be, then bypass this and seek out Double Indemnity, The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing or Out of the Past.

Ondine (2009) 4/5 - I was recommended this film by Matthias and once again, he has picked a winner. I loved the atmosphere of the film and the fairy tale aspect of the story. Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda show the kind of chemistry that portends their relationship in real life and Alison Barry as the daughter is first rate. It definitely reminded me of The Secret of Roan Inish by John Sayles, another film about Selkes and Irish folklore. The only downside has to be the abrupt change of pace at the end when director Neil Jordan
(click to show/hide)
. I felt that this destroyed the hauntingly beautiful nature of the screenplay. But, even with the twist at the end, I'd definitely recommend this film to anyone who likes a good story and doesn't need explosions or car chases to be entertained.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 05:43:13 AM by Antares »

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2010, 12:12:01 AM »
I adore Some Like It Hot! Especially Lemmon's performance. Yes, The Apartment is arguably a better film, but surley Wilder was aiming to have more fun with this? The Apartment has a serious and substantial core which Some Like It Hot doesn't need.

I know I'm about to feed your incessant, irrational frothing hatred of Spielberg, :tease: but considering past comments I thought this titbit of trivia would interest you. While Spielberg prepared Schindler's List for several years, he had no intention of directing it and offered it to a variety of directors, including Roman Polanski, who refused on the grounds it would be too personal for him -and then ironically made his own ::). Eventually Spielberg offered List to Martin Scorcese. Meanwhile he was developing Cape Fear for himself to direct, but he finally he decided that he wanted to see Schindler's List through as it had come to mean something more to him and his family, so he gave Scorcese Cape Fear instead, highlighting the commercial power the story had to bring him to a wider audience.

Thing is, I reckon Scorcese dropped the ball. I swear, before I knew anything of the above, I felt like he was trying to ape Spielberg's style. It feels more awkward compared to the previous years Goodfella's. I found that an odd choice on Scorcese's part and one that meant the film couldn't quite work.

I'd have been fascinated by Spielberg's version, but a Scorcese Schindler's List? No way!

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2010, 12:29:32 AM »
I adore Some Like It Hot! Especially Lemmon's performance. Yes, The Apartment is arguably a better film, but surley Wilder was aiming to have more fun with this? The Apartment has a serious and substantial core which Some Like It Hot doesn't need.

Don't get me wrong, it's a cute film, but it does not deserve the gargantuan glowing praise that has been poured upon it over the years.

I know I'm about to feed your incessant, irrational frothing hatred of Spielberg, :tease:

I DON"T hate Spielberg, I just see him for what he is, a modern day P.T. Barnum. There are a few films by him that I like...Amistad, Empire of the Sun, Catch Me If You Can and The Sugarland Express.

I felt like he was trying to ape Spielberg's style.

If that were the case, it would have had elements to it that were overdone. Subtlety is not Spielberg's strongest suit.

I'd have been fascinated by Spielberg's version, but a Scorcese Schindler's List? No way!

Why not, it would have been interesting to see Joe Pesce as Amon Goeth. You Jews think I'm funny! BANG!  :laugh:

And just think of all the creative camera angles that Scorcese would have used when a German shot one of the Jews.

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2010, 12:33:00 AM »
I adore Some Like It Hot! Especially Lemmon's performance. Yes, The Apartment is arguably a better film, but surley Wilder was aiming to have more fun with this? The Apartment has a serious and substantial core which Some Like It Hot doesn't need.

Don't get me wrong, it's a cute film, but it does not deserve the gargantuan glowing praise that has been poured upon it over the years.

I know I'm about to feed your incessant, irrational frothing hatred of Spielberg, :tease:

I DON"T hate Spielberg, I just see him for what he is, a modern day P.T. Barnum. There are a few films by him that I like...Amistad, Empire of the Sun, Catch Me If You Can and The Sugarland Express.

I felt like he was trying to ape Spielberg's style.

If that were the case, it would have had elements to it that were overdone. Subtlety is not Spielberg's strongest suit.

I'd have been fascinated by Spielberg's version, but a Scorcese Schindler's List? No way!

Why not, it would have been interesting to see Joe Pesce as Amon Goeth. You Jews think I'm funny! BANG!  :laugh:

And just think of all the creative camera angles that Scorcese would have used when a German shot one of the Jews.

Could you image a Scorsese Schindler's List? All the Nazis would be played by Italian Americans.  :laugh:

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2010, 12:40:53 AM »
Under Siege

Great action movie from the 90's, that's very well made. Tommy Lee Jones is great as a psychotic villain.
Steven Seagal's performance is decent and is well suited to his role. And last but not least Gary Busey. I really like him in this movie because he is playing himself, an asshole.   

4/5

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2010, 12:51:53 AM »
Could you image a Scorsese Schindler's List? All the Nazis would be played by Italian Americans.  :laugh:

And you'd get the obligatory scene of Scorcese's mother feeding all the SS officers at the train station.  :laugh:

Offline Achim

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2010, 05:58:24 AM »
I felt like he was trying to ape Spielberg's style.

If that were the case, it would have had elements to it that were overdone. Subtlety is not Spielberg's strongest suit.
I thought that Scorcese's Cape Fear was particularly subtle... The material suits Scorcese much better though that it would have Spielberg (I do like the PT Barnum comparison...).

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2010, 11:51:00 PM »
Zodiac (2007) 4/5 - From its beginning to its end, I was gripped by this story and how well Fincher weaved the narrative. The murders which are shown, primarily in the first 1/3 of the film, are done with a harsh realism that unnerves, but doesn't come across as gratuitous. This is something that a few directors out there today, could take a lesson from, most notably a certain director named Tarantino. In the end, you have to believe that Graysmith, Toschi and Armstrong were all correct in their belief that Arthur Leigh Allen was the Zodiac killer. How much of this story is embellishment on either Fincher or Graysmith's part, is cause for debate, but when all is said and done, this is a first class film making effort.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2010, 11:52:48 PM by Antares »

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2011, 12:39:30 AM »
Why the jab at Tarantino? :shrug: I have to watch this again, because while I did really, really like it, I couldn't quite shake a contrived feeling. Especially the confrontation towards the end. Also, I saw this about the same time as Gone Baby Gone and it emphasised how much Zodiac lacks a feeling of time and place; some shots looked over-digital and false, whereas Affleck made Boston feel like a character in his film. In terms of stories about San Francisco -a place I have never been- Zodiac pales against Dirty Harry, Bullitt or Vertigo. Maybe Fincher wasn't aiming for that, but the Zodiac story is so engrained in the city. Plus even Se7en, with an anonymous city, really pushed the idea of linking the crimes with the place, with society.

Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2011, 01:26:30 AM »
Why the jab at Tarantino? :shrug:

Because QT could have never created the sense of fear and horror that Fincher does with the two murder scenes shown in the beginning. They would have been bloody massacres, and nothing else. He's the poster child for childish, over the top bloodlettings. When Zodiac attacks the couple at the lake, I was completely unnerved by the way it was shot. It didn't need copious amounts of blood to put across the severity of the situation.

I have to watch this again, because while I did really, really like it, I couldn't quite shake a contrived feeling. Especially the confrontation towards the end.

This is why I stated in my summation why I wasn't certain how much was embellished by either Fincher or Graysmith. If it did happen, then the scene works. If it's embellishment, then you're right.

some shots looked over-digital and false, whereas Affleck made Boston feel like a character in his film.

But I read somewhere that the city of San Francisco wouldn't let Fincher shoot scenes in certain places where the actual crimes took place. This could be the reason for the use of digital.

In terms of stories about San Francisco -a place I have never been- Zodiac pales against Dirty Harry, Bullitt or Vertigo. Maybe Fincher wasn't aiming for that, but the Zodiac story is so engrained in the city

It may be engrained in San Francisco, but only one murder took place there. The bulk of his murders take place outside of the city. So even though the fear in the city is important to the story, it's not crucial.

Najemikon

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2011, 01:59:35 AM »
Why the jab at Tarantino? :shrug:

Because QT could have never created the sense of fear and horror that Fincher does with the two murder scenes shown in the beginning. They would have been bloody massacres, and nothing else. He's the poster child for childish, over the top bloodlettings. When Zodiac attacks the couple at the lake, I was completely unnerved by the way it was shot. It didn't need copious amounts of blood to put across the severity of the situation.

Whatever he would or wouldn't do is irrelevant. He is absolutely no such poster child of OTT blood-letting (you really should pay closer attention to Reservoir Dogs), but he has never shown an interest in this sort of thriller anyway, while Fincher has. You might as well pick names out of a hat. Saying Fincher did a better job than George Lucas or Terence Malick would is just the same sort of broad statement. I just don't see why you needed QT as a touchstone in an otherwise great review.

But I read somewhere that the city of San Francisco wouldn't let Fincher shoot scenes in certain places where the actual crimes took place. This could be the reason for the use of digital.

That's what back-lots are for. ;) You're right though, that it might not have been the focus of the story, though that does spoil one of my favourite parts -Ruffalo striding out of screening of Dirty Harry, muttering "due process"- because by linking with Dirty Harry it inferred to me that the Detective was very much part of the city like Callaghan was. In fact, I'm sure I remember reading now that McQueen based Bullitt on that very Detective. After following it with Gone Baby Gone, I felt I was looking for something similar that in retrospect wasn't as necessary.

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2011, 06:19:10 AM »
Sex and the City 2 (2010) 2/5
Very ordinary stuff. I get what many of the critics mean when they talk these four woman flaunting themselves around Abu Dhabi with little to no regard for the Muslim culture.
There were some funny moments. But it's realling getting old now, I think we've seen enough of these woman. Liza Minnelli's little musical number was terrifying and tragic. But I will say this about her, she's her mother's daughter alright.

Offline Blair

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2011, 07:39:57 AM »
[Insert Movie]

Watched it. Liked it.

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Offline Antares

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Re: Short Summations
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2011, 05:38:42 PM »
Ruffalo striding out of screening of Dirty Harry, muttering "due process"- because by linking with Dirty Harry it inferred to me that the Detective was very much part of the city like Callaghan was.

Here's where you're misinterpreting a scene...It's not that Fincher is linking Toschi with Harry Callahan, or Callahan's association with San Francisco, he's making a sarcastic quip about Callahan's rogue nature. And how Toschi wishes he could impart a little rogue justice upon Arthur Leigh Allen, but his hands are tied by a justice system that makes you cross every T and dot every I, before you arrest someone. That's what I took from that scene.