Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Rashomon
(1950)

Director: Akira Kurosawa
Writers: Ryûnosuke Akutagawa(story),Akira Kurosawa(screenplay)
Cast: Toshirô Mifune, Machiko Kyô, Masayuki Mori
Genre: Crime, Drama
Length: 1h 28min
Country: Japan


Synopsis (spoiler free): Three men gather together in the ruins of an old Japanese gate house to escape a rainstorm. A priest and a woodsman tell their versions of the story of a murdered samurai. Both men had been partially witnessed the crime and testified at the trial of the accused bandit who committed the crime. We see three different versions of the truth as told from each viewpoint.

Review: I really liked the set location of the old ruined wooden gate, which to me looked like an old temple. And the rain, lots of rain!...that added to the feel of three weary travelers huddled together, telling their stories. I thought the mystery of a horrible event that the men knew about, but could hardly believe, was intriguing and I couldn't wait to find out what the mystery was. The three actors at the ruins were all well cast to fit their roles and conveyed different personalities quit well. I liked them as actors.

But when the story flashed back to the three characters in the woods, I lost interest. It was a let down once I seen what their versions of the horrible event was. I guess I imaged something more provocative and stirring would ensue.

The woodland characters seemed two dimensional and even the cinematography wasn't great, consisting of mainly close ups. The thief was so over the top in his acting that he was annoying and seemed more comical than anything.

This was made for Japanese audiences in 1950 and the themes of duality and how men put on a different face than what their true nature is, most have resonated well with the Japanese psyche. These themes of the nature of human duality come up often in Japanese culture.

I also bet that the three characters in the woods (the horseman, the thief, the lady) were presented on film like Kabuki actors. So this might have been an awesome film for a 50s Japanese audiences that was familiar with the themes and Kabuki theater. But it didn't resonate with me.





Smiles of a Summer Night (1955)
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Writer: Ingmar Bergman
Cast: Ulla Jacobsson, Eva Dahlbeck, Harriet Andersson
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Length: 1h 48min
Country: Sweden

Synopsis: A fanciful tale about a group of eccentric, well-to-do people in the late nineteenth century Sweden.

Review: Bergman films are often described as physiologically dark, steeped in symbolism, with characters who lament their lives. And that's what I found in Smiles of a Summer Night for the most part.

I'm sure it's a well made film and a classic, but I had little connection to it. I was never 'in the story' but merely an observer. I used that photo above because that scene and the character of the maid was the only part I really connected to.

Most of the characters felt stiff and unreal to me, like two dimensional caricatures. They're there to make a statement about humanity and the condition of love. But the characters themselves seem like empty shells who's main purpose is to deliver the director's philosophical viewpoints. Which I suppose some people love about Bergman, I didn't.

I did sense an attempt by the director to inject light comic moments into the film, like the bed that comes out of the wall. But mostly these moments seemed artificial, it was like I was watching an opera with characters who are being intentionally over done to make a point. Only the maid and her ideas of love seemed real. I liked her.

If this was Bergman light, I shutter to think what a serious Bergman film is like.





Papillon (1973)
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Writers: Dalton Trumbo & Lorenzo Semple Jr. (screenplay)
Cast: Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory
Genre: Biography, Crime, Drama
Length: 2hours 31minutes


Based on the real Papillon, Henri Charrière who served time at the infamous Devil's Island and latter wrote a novel about it, which he heavily embellished.

Steve McQueen is Papillon, a French man who's sentenced to life imprisonment at French Guyana 'Devils Island'. On the long sea voyager over, he befriends a man Louis Dega (Dustin Hoffman). Dege is a forger and carrying a lot of money...and money can be used to buy freedom from corrupt guards.


This has been called the crowning achievement in Steve McQueen's turbulent movie career, it's certainly a tour de force cinema.

Great effort was put into the making of this. Most of the film was shot in the tropics, mainly Jamaica and Venezuela. A huge 800 foot set in Falmouth Jamaica was built, it painstakingly recreated the prison of Devils' Island. Two years was spent on studying the original blue prints of the prison so that it would be authentic. At the end of the film we see the real prison that has long been abandoned to the jungle. The set is near identical to the real thing.


But what rocks, is the stand out performances of two acting legends: Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman. The director choose to shoot the film in chronically order which is rare in film making. This subsumption creates a stronger reality as the actors move through time in sync with the filming. One caveat, this is not a buddy picture, even though their friendship drives the dynamics of their characters. Nor is this an entertainment film in the same vein as The Great Escape.

What Papillon is...a fine example of film making by professionals who care about their craft. It's stunning to look at. The characters are memorable, as is the story. The direction, editing and scoring are all class acts.



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Stage Fright (1950)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Richard Todd
Genre: Thriller Suspense
Length:1h 50min


Synopsis: A young budding actress tries to help her friend prove his innocence after he's accused of murder.

Review: This is an interesting Hitchcock film. It's different and not like his later 1950s thrillers that are so well known. This is more like his earlier British films. This isn't a tension filled thriller, it's more of a lighter study of acting and stage theater, all done with a cleverness to it.

But I never really connected to the film...it starts off with a car chase through the streets of London and then there's a long flash back scene, then back to real time and Jane Wyman is risking jail by helping her love interest, Richard Todd escape. But the film never shows me why she would take such a risk, I needed more back story on her character and relationship with the accused man for me to buy into it.

I'm not much of a fan of twisty-turning who-done-it murder mystery...but if you are, you should like this film as it's cleverly done, and that's all I can say as I don't want to ruin the story.

I really liked Jane Wyman in this, she's an underrated actresses. And Marlene Dietrich is excellent too. In fact the entire cast was excellent, even Hitchcock's own daughter who has a small role as Chubby Bannister was quite good.




I like Rashomon, but I don't think it's quite a masterpiece like some others say. There are other Kurosawa films I greatly prefer, and a load I still have to watch. I really liked Papillon too when I saw it a year or two ago, on of my step-dad's favourites. Probably about a
from me, just a tad overlong.



I liked to see more Kurosawa films. I'm sure more will come up in future Hofs, so I will. Agree with Papillon being a bit long. I was just talking about that earlier today with my wife. IMO, the part that could have been cut out is time spent with the Indian village. Not that the sequences was bad, I liked it, but it seemed to have a different feel than the rest of the film. That part reminded me of Hawaii (1966). The native girls were nice



cricket's Avatar
Registered User
CR, you have to see Seven Samurai if you haven't already. I was going to nominate it but I didn't want to force something so long. May be the greatest film ever made.



Stage Fright (1950)

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Wyman, Richard Todd
Genre: Thriller Suspense
Length:1h 50min


Synopsis: A young budding actress tries to help her friend prove his innocence after he's accused of murder.

Review: This is an interesting Hitchcock film. It's different and not like his later 1950s thrillers that are so well known. This is more like his earlier British films. This isn't a tension filled thriller, it's more of a lighter study of acting and stage theater, all done with a cleverness to it.

But I never really connected to the film...it starts off with a car chase through the streets of London and then there's a long flash back scene, then back to real time and Jane Wyman is risking jail by helping her love interest, Richard Todd escape. But the film never shows me why she would take such a risk, I needed more back story on her character and relationship with the accused man for me to buy into it.


It was so recently that we watched Stage Fright and it's already faded from my memory. Not bad, just bland.

I had the same problems with Stage Fright. I never really connected to it, and I watched it twice recently, but I remember very little about it except that it was an average movie, and not as good as Hitchcock's normal suspense thrillers.



Hey GBG, good to see ya. I watched Stage Fright like maybe 3 years ago and when I rewatched it I had forgotten everything. Still a fun film to watch. And I have a couple more reviews to do of films you watched recently. And when I have the time I just watched Pal Joey.



Hey GBG, good to see ya. I watched Stage Fright like maybe 3 years ago and when I rewatched it I had forgotten everything. Still a fun film to watch. And I have a couple more reviews to do of films you watched recently. And when I have the time I just watched Pal Joey.

Yeah, I've seen Stage Fright a few times, and it seems to be one of those movies that I enjoy watching while I'm watching it, but I never seem to remember anything about it a few days later.

I'm looking forward to reading your reviews.



I liked to see more Kurosawa films. I'm sure more will come up in future Hofs, so I will. Agree with Papillon being a bit long. I was just talking about that earlier today with my wife. IMO, the part that could have been cut out is time spent with the Indian village. Not that the sequences was bad, I liked it, but it seemed to have a different feel than the rest of the film. That part reminded me of Hawaii (1966). The native girls were nice
I'd like to see all the Kurosawa films someday. So far, I've only seen two: Seven Samurai (1954 - as cricket says, it's great, it's a masterpiece, it's long, but really good,) and Red Beard (1965 - which was interesting, kind of a period-piece, Japanese doctor drama similar to those that became popular in western cinema & TV).




Pal Joey (1957)
Director: George Sidney
Cast: Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, Kim Novak
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance
Length: 1h 51min

A rather amusing film, I enjoyed it. Frank's got the pipes and belts out some smooth tunes. He's got the right role for himself here too. Years back Sinatra played the put-upon-man, the skinny lad who was always fidgeting and wasn't a hit with the ladies. But the Frank we all know and love...or at least know...is a wild boy, booze and women, women and booze...and in Pal Joey, Ol' Blue Eyes gets to shine. He's a cad, well what did you expect? The ladies love him and guys want to emulate him. This is the real Sinatra as far as I remember.

But what broke my heart was seeing Rita letting herself go so badly. There's rumors about why she looked so tired in this film, but I'm not going to speak of those. One thing is for sure, some things never change...Rita might be shy in private, but when those lights come up and the cameras role, that woman knows how to shine iridescent. It's been awhile, but she'll always have a soft spot in my heart.

This review wouldn't be complete without notice of one certain young lady, Kim Novak. Miss Novak is a directors dream, she combines a unique beauty with a fragileness that's seldom seen on the screen. But it's her sinuous movements that catch my eye. When she moves, she leads with her head and her shoulders and voluptuous body follows. Miss Novak moves like a gazelle and that throaty sensual, but shy voice....mark my words, she has a bright future.

And what about the film you say? Well it was fine in a Hollywood type of way. Thought if I had my druthers I would have dug the camera into the floor, used a wide angle lens with deep focus when Rita does her big stage number, but that's just me.




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Thanks GBG, I had fun writing that. I waiting a really long time to see that one. Would you call that a musical? IMDB list it as musical but it seemed more like a comedy romance drama with some music. I need to see more of Kim Novak, each time I see her I like more.



I'd like to see all the Kurosawa films someday. So far, I've only seen two: Seven Samurai (1954 - as cricket says, it's great, it's a masterpiece, it's long, but really good,) and Red Beard (1965 - which was interesting, kind of a period-piece, Japanese doctor drama similar to those that became popular in western cinema & TV).
Capt you probably already know this but the American western The Magnificence Seven was inspired by Seven Samurai.