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Movie Tab II


Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
Utvandrarna [The Emigrants] (1971) -

Nybyggarna [The New Land] (1972) -

Well, these here are two movies, both more than 3 hours long, that are both epic and cameral. The story revolves around a Swede family (Ullmann, von Sydow) that decides to move to the US in 19th century. Being based on a book, it's heavily plot-driven, but the cinematography is striking, at times Malick-like (or should I say Malick movies have Troell-like cinematography?). Well, there's no voiceover, if you're wondering. I was really wondering who was the DP in the first movie as I missed it in beginning titles and after I gave up shooting names like Nykvist, I, upon the beginning of New Land, found out the director himself was also the cinematographer!

Some scenes in this are incredibly gut-wrenching or depressive when you think about them. However, Troell usually presents them with surprising calm, but not without proper respect. That results in a very sober look at the lives of peasants, their hardships, problems, struggle on the ship, and upon getting to America, all the things connected with colonization etc. Demythologization of American Mythos, or reinvention and search for faith are only some of the topics tackled here.

I was watching both these films highly absorbed and at times saddened, but it is their big culmination that made me cry. It's big in its littleness, in its modesty, as far from showiness and bombast as possible. As touching by its sincerity and unaffected poignancy as possible. It is real people I saw in these films. Real people.

At first I rated the first one four stars and the second one four and a half, but after some time I increased the first rating, since I found it best to rate them as one movie, because they work best only if you watch one after another as they compliment themselves very well and naturally the latter continues the story of the former. I did the same thing with Human Condition trilogy some time ago and think of it as a very good approach.

Stalag 17 (1953) -

At the beginning of the movie I had a hard time accepting its convention. I've understood it's POW camp for sergeants and officers and not a death camp, but it doesn't take a historian to figure out that historically this is one big bull. Not only this, but the things these prisoners were doing were simply impossible, because they would've been shot on spot immediately (like droppen sie dead) if the film had anything to do with reality. Thankfully, it didn't take me long to understand this movie can't be taken seriously just like nobody takes movies like To Be or Not to Be seriously. I can't say this kind of abstractness is really my style, but after I've accepted it, I opened my mind for some good entertainment. Some jokes were very funny (like the one about throwing stones at low-flying German planes), some incredibly stupid, like the one with white paint, but generally it was ok. The mystery was nice and I couldn't guess who the informer was (I thought it's the slow guy), but eventually I can't grant this film any higher rating than 3.5. Sadly, it's the worst Wilder movie I've seen so far, but still a pretty good one, nevertheless, which only means that Billy was a really good director!

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993) -

The weakest of the trilogy, but still a fair amount of entertainment. This time we have some black magic at work and Robert Davi that is maybe even more badass and oozing with cool than in Part Two. Sexy Mrs. Doctor and great ending chase to boost and you got yourself a decent movie.

Hud (1963) -

I was getting into it ready to love it and, well, unsurprisingly, I loved it. Not only does this have the always amazing Newman in sort of a bad guy role (though it's more like a mix of enfant terrible and false paragon), but also Patricia Neal that although a little bit older than in other films I saw her in, is still incredibly sultry. Plus this guy James Wong Howe surely is a great cinematographer firstly creating great cinematography in Sweet Smell of Success and this, to finish up with the ultimate masterpiece Seconds is. PS: That Newman song in Cool Hand Luke... I can't stop singing it!

P°Ýpad pro zaŔÝnajÝcÝho kata [A Case for a Young Hangman] (1969) -

Czechoslovak New Wave attacks again as furious as ever bringing yet another surrealistic movie only two years after Prague Spring. Obviously, a pˇ│kownik*, figures out to be a great film, but not quite on the level of the best Czech offerings (far below Daisies, Diamonds of the Night, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, Marketa Lazarova...). The first 15 minutes have some of the most striking visual imaginary Czech cinema of the era has to offer. Sadly, it goes a little bit downhill from there visuals-wise as the movie picks up its pace and delivers much more content-wise. Mostly implied anti-Communist messages and crazy surreal pseudo-nonsense. ** It's still superbly playful at this, which makes for a great seance.

* Pˇ│kownik is basically a movie that was stopped by censorship and was put on a shelf (pˇ│ka = shelf in Polish) for a couple of years. Can't find an English equivalent.
** Seemingly nonsensical, weird things made it easier to go past censorship, but sadly this film didn't make it
Look, I'm not judging you - after all, I'm posting here myself, but maybe, just maybe, if you spent less time here and more time watching films, maybe, and I stress, maybe your taste would be of some value. Just a thought, ya know.

I saw two films of his, but I never knew how he looks. Didn't know that was he. Thanks for telling me!
Seen two too (Laura and River of No Return, I'll watch Anatomy of a Murder soon as it's bound to appear on 50s list), but yeah, actually quite a big/serious part, I was surprised when I noticed his name on credits afterwards. Just checked and he didn't seem to do much else acting. No problem, I figured it was the type of thing you normally mention in your write-ups

Watch Where the Sidewalk Ends. One of the blackest noirs.
I love Shel Silverstein!

Sophie's Choice
(Alan J. Pakula, 1982)

Boring and lifeless for most the part, in terms of direction its just so standard, straightforward... uninspired. People talking for a few hours. Meryl Streep is fantastic and her performance is the only thing worth watching it for.

On Dangerous Ground
(Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino, 1951)

I thought that some parts of the script were weak and the pace seemed a bit odd, it should have been much longer, but there is just so much to love here. Great performances (including mesmerising scenes with Ida Lupino) and fantastic direction, Ray knows how to light every frame perfectly to capture all he can. Like all his films I have seen so far, its very unconventional for its genre, the snow... the blind woman... the way it treats violence. Like I said, could be longer, maybe I'm being half a popcorn too generous but this feels like its half an hour away from being a masterpiece.

Intolerance (D.W. Griffith, 1916)

The final film I had to see from the AFI Top 100 American films list, I had left it so long because of its length. I had seen a Griffith short film before, but that was ages ago and I barely remembered much. I had heard a lot about this film, and its predecessor The Birth of a Nation, beforehand, especially in terms of its storytelling elements including its editing, so I was curious to just how great it was, and what made it so special. I actually struggled a bit in the first hour, I was watching a poor copy of it, and I found it hard to keep up with the different stories and characters. But then I switched to a better, HD, restored version and had no such problems keeping up with the story. The film is an absolute marvel. Magnificent. Such an ambitious undertaking, amazing sets (the Babylon set is insane), so many actors, costumes, multiple stories, the forever rocking cradle, this is exactly what an epic film should be. I was absolutely blown away, especially by the second/last act as everything starts to come together faster and faster, that's when you beginning to notice the genius in the storytelling and the power of the cross-cutting editing. I can't wait to see more of Griffith's feature films in the future.

A Corner in Wheat
(D.W. Griffith, 1909)

No where near as ambitious as the above film, but it was still great to watch, and surely a very important film. You can see its influence on Soviet montage, I've heard its one of the first films about a social cause. Fantastic use of combining visual imagery and editing once again to juxtapose images and enforce a message, the last shot is beautiful.

Bigger Than Life (Nicholas Ray, 1956)

Decided to continue watching Ray's films and figured that as this appeared on the Fifties list it would be a good idea for my next film. It has some of the greatest cinematography I have ever seen, once again colours play such a significant in conveying the emotional state of the characters (like Johnny Guitar), but it's not just colours, its the control Ray seems to have in every scene and how the camera is always perfectly placed to capture the mood of the characters. The mirror scenes, or when James Mason is standing over his soon trying to teach him, with his giant shadow standing in the background (above). Mason is terrific, and really horrifying. The whole thing is quite scary actually, like a weird combination of a melodrama and a horror film.

Rebel Without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955)

Probably Ray's most famous film, largely down to James Dean, I didn't realise that I had actually seen the racing scene before. There's lot to admire here, once again Ray makes great use of CinemaScope and the colours are beautiful, who can forget Dean's white t-shirt, red jacket combination? The story just didn't seem to compel me on an emotional level like his other works so far.

Nights of Cabiria (Federico Fellini, 1957)

After this showed up on the countdown it soon appeared that certain MoFos really love this film and think it should be regarded as one of Fellini's greatest works. I think and La Dolce Vita are great, but although I find it good, I'm not a huge fan of La Strada, so I was unsure how I would find this. I thought that the first half was great, the wandering around, finding Alberto Lazzari, all that stuff I really enjoyed. But I don't know, it started to wane on me in the second half, and I didn't really care much for the main character. Maybe it's because the ending was obvious all along, but I just didn't really emotionally care for her or get upset at the end much. Like Marty it felt like something I should have loved and been really emotionally invested in, but just didn't turn out that way despite some good moments, and like that film, the direction was okay, solid, but nothing to really write much about, sorry.

Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
Intolerance was a big hit. When it came to Moscow in 1919, Soviets would study it frame after frame (!!!) and build their own cinematic ideology based on it. They figured that movie is a perfect tool for propaganda and to move masses and therefore build the Soviet movie school in 1919, the oldest film school in the world.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)

Brilliantly-directed film concerning the misadventures of Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman), an upper-class college graduate who returns to his posh L.A. family home with little thought of what to do with his future. In fact, his first day home, his parents throw him a welcome-home party populated by all the parents' friends, but Benjamin feels like a fish out of water, although he fatefully decides to drive home Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), and thus the virginal Benjamin begins a sensual trip down the rabbit hole with the unhappy, alcoholic older woman. Things really come to a head when Benjamin realizes that he prefers the company of Mrs. Robinson's college-aged daughter Elaine (Katharine Ross), but Mommy will stop at nothing to keep the "kids" apart.

Although The Graduate is wonderfully-acted and is based on a sparklingly-witty script by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, it's really Mike Nichols' fastidiously-entertaining direction, in conjunction with DP Robert Surtees and song score team Simon & Garfunkel which helps keep the film miles ahead of the competition to this very day. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the direction and cinematography of this film are among the finest ever seen in cinema history. Right from the opening shot of Benjamin arriving at and leaving LAX, he's framed in the corner of the image as an outsider, while "The Sound of Silence" plays over the credits. After Ben arrives home, most of the scenes are done in long takes with incredibly-beautiful-and-deeply-thematic photography utilized to draw you into Ben's "world of silence". He just doesn't relate to life back at home, and as each scene plays out in its own excitingly-creative style, even the casual viewer can see the importance of pre-planning the visual complexity of all the scenes for maximum emotional impact. To me, The Graduate is a comedy, first and foremost, a satire of the rich, complacent California lifestyle second, and a powerful human drama third. The script and Dustin Hoffman really make it pay off as a comedy, but it's the rest of the cast which adds to its satiric weight, not the least of whom is Murray Hamilton (Mayor Vaughn in Jaws) as Mr. Robinson. Let's not forget that other Jaws connection, Richard Dreyfuss! But weighing the whole thing to the Earth and making it much more poignant is the complex way that Nichols and Surtees shoot the film, and then the way that Nichols utilizes Sam O'Steen's editing, along with the songs, to assemble a film which far outdoes the French New Wave at their own game.

Mike Nichols blew my mind with his first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Coming from a theatrical background, Nichols did show off his cinematic skill subtly in that film, but he reigned himself in to make what was ostensibly a play-shot-on-film (although it was far more intense than both most plays and most films). The Graduate could not be more highly-cinematic. The musical montage of Ben and Mrs. Robinson sharing their silent hotel bed, intercut with Ben at home in his own bedroom and floating in his swimming pool, still retains the pristine power which exemplifies why film lovers love film. It truly can do things which no other art form can do to both engage your senses and your soul. Well, music can too, but music helps push this film over the top in its cinematic grandeur.

Before I sound too much like a Mike Nichols sycophant (OOPS! Too late!), I'll admit that The Graduate cannot maintain its intensity all the way through the film. When it transfers to Berkeley in the second half, some of the air is let out of the balloon. Even so, compared to most films, this latter section of The Graduate is excellent, but some of the musical and editing repetiton becomes apparent. Luckily, The Graduate does contain one of the more intense final 15 minutes in film, involving a sequence where Benjamin drives back-and-forth, totalling over 1200 miles in less than 18 hours, to try to make things right with his true love, all the while dodging the cops and the Robinsons' attempts to marry off Elaine. It all climaxes in one of the better endings of all time.
It's what you learn after you know it all that counts. - John Wooden
My IMDb page

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
The Two of Us (Claude Berri, 1967)

1967 was a seminal year in film, and more than a few MoFos have even mentioned it as somehow being significant (although I find that date completely arbitrary). However, who has seen this wonderfully-moving film from 1967, or even more directly, who has even heard of it? Claude Berri was almost nine-years-old when the things which this film delineates happened to him during WWII. Most people recognize Berri as the director of Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring and the producer of Polanski's Tess, but this first feature film of his remains my favorite, and sometimes I have to wonder why I like it so much. Of course, Berri had to embroider his film a bit, and I realize now that it's the "embroidery" which I probably enjoy even more than the reality. Berri was a Jew living in Paris and going to school while his parents basically hid in a kind woman's attic. Well, Claude would constantly get into trouble and draw attention to himself by acting out, so his parents decided it would be better for all concerned to send him off to the country to keep him away from prying Nazi and Vichy eyes.

Claude goes to live with the kind woman's mom and dad ("Pepe") (the wonderfully-irascible Godfather of French actors, Michel Simon), and here he learns from the old man that many groups of individuals are bad for the country, including Jews. The boy also learns about unconditional love from the same source, so when the whip-smart Claude begins to question Pepe about his seemingly-racist views, he's able to win a few concessions from the old man, who has no idea the Kid is a Jew, even though Pepe assures everyone that he can "smell them out". This beautiful comedy-drama actually reminded me a bit of Gran Torino, at least thematically, but I'll concede that this film is surely more transcendent. The strength of this film lies in the details. You begin watching it, and you understand all the characters and their situations, but you aren't really sure what you think of them. Then, about halfway through the film, everything becomes almost magical, and the lovely score by George Delerue becomes more prominent, and you (I) basically spend the entire last 45 minutes laughing through something resembling tears of joy. I could be completely "off my rocker", but everyone has some films they love and almost feel a mystical affinity for, and The Two Of Us, literally translated as The Old Man and the Boy, is one of such films for me.

While Sarah and I watched The Two of Us Saturday night, she asked me if Claude Berri was still alive, and I mistakenly told her yes. I had forgotten that I'd read that he died last month at 74. I remember, who was it? Rice? mentioning that she saw an R-rated French flick in school with a castration. That was Berri's Germinal. Berri made many significant films, several with Gerard Depardieu. But I will probably always remember him as a humanistic alchemist who turned simple life stories into cinematic gold, and none of them were ever more valuable to me than The Two of Us.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954)

Fellini's first international hit is a simple, powerful, neorealstic parable which shows him stretching his neorealist roots further than I Vitteloni. He focuses on three characters, each who seems to represent a different side of humanity, in a road trip movie where often the simplest action or reaction draws a direct connection with the audience. Gelsomina (Fellini's wife Giulietta Masina) is the plain, simple, innocent sister of a woman who left with the brutish traveling strongman Zampan˛ (Anthony Quinn) years before. Now that the sister has died (under unexplained circumstances), Zampan˛ returns to pay the poor mother 10,000 lira to use Gelsomina as his new assistant. Thus, Gelsomina becomes a possession for the strongman to use in whatever way he sees fit, including sexually.

The thing is that the strongman only takes and never gives. He basically thinks about making money, eating, drinking, and "lovemaking", so if that means that he finds another woman he's attracted to, he'll just dump Gelsomina on the street and take off with the other woman for the rest of the night on his outsized motorcycle which includes something akin to a small truck bed behind it. Eventually, an antagonist of Zampan˛'s, "The Fool" (Richard Basehart), turns up. He's dexterous, both in the body and the brain, but he's also a fatalist who's learned to love life while he can, but he loves it in the opposite way of Zampan˛. Instead of doing the same tired act over and over, like the Strongman, The Fool is unpredictable, in not only the way he performs his high wire act, but also in the way he treats most people charitably, except for the Strongman. The Fool never misses a chance to bust Zampan˛'s balls.

While there's certainly more to discuss, I don't feel the need at this time to delve further into the plot, disect the characters, analyze the visuals, etc. The one thing I will mention is that Nino Rota's score, with its multiple themes, is an inviting entryway into the film's realistic, yet still magical, world.

Bright light. Bright light. Uh oh.
íAlambrista! (Robert M. Young, 1977)

This is a little-seen American neorealist film, with most of the dialogue in Spanish, showing how a young man named Roberto (Domingo Ambriz) leaves his family in Michoacan just after he witnesses the birth of his daughter. His family is dirt-poor, but he has dreams of making it "rich" in the U.S. as an illegal migrant worker and being able to provide a better life for his family. However, things don't turn out the way he expects. The flick begins with a strong sense of purpose, with the scenes flowing together and the new characters all having a reason for being. Eventually, the film becomes more of a road flick (just like La Strada since that's Italian for "The Road"), but it also becomes less purposeful and more random. Eventually, Roberto takes up with a young American waitress (Linda Gillen) who also has a female newborn. Later on, he gets caught by Immigration, but before he can get deported, he's diverted by a shady American character (Ned Beatty) to a melon farm in Colorado. It is there that Roberto and his family's fate come full circle under some ironic circumstances.

Although it does hold one's interest, I found the film a little too uneven. I watched the Director's Cut, which is actually 15 minutes shorter than the original release version. Several interesting actors show up in little more than cameos or walk-ons; among them, Edward James Olmos, Julius Harris, Trinidad Silva, and Jerry Hardin. It does delineate a story which has been happening for centuries, even before there was a "border" between the United States and Mexico (or more literally, before there was even a United States and a Mexico). Native peoples (and later, Mestizos) have been migrating north and south for hundreds of years now because their families had settled on both sides of the border even before there were any Europeans present in the Western Hemisphere. It might not make U.S. citizens of European ancestry happy, and it might be a hassle for National Security and "Government handouts", but it's still something to consider when trying to solve an incredibly complex subject. Does the U.S. seem to have a monopoly on "complex problems", or do all you citizens from around the world have to deal with the exact same things?

Sorry if I'm rude but I'm right
All About Eve (1950) -

"Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!"

Wonderful dialogues in this one! Bette Davies is very good here, but it's Anne Baxter's transformation (actually she was like that from the very beginning, but tried to hide it at the beginning, I guess) that's the most powerful. The ending, although too simplistic in its morale form, was still quite powerful with that new girl, this statue and all these mirrors. Also, I laughed when I saw Marilyn Monroe in this. Very nice screenplay (Citizen Kane- inspired?), too with all these commentaries from different people and that cool beginning. All in all, I feel like some jokes, innuendos and dialogue brilliancy flew over my head (or maybe none did) due to the amount of speaking in this and my lack of fluency, but it's still not as hardcore as these screwball comedies of the 30's that I couldn't keep up with unless I put the English subtitles on.

Theatre of Blood (1973) -

"Naughty, naughty! Don't touch, Butch knows best. They're something new from Gay Paree."

Oh man, wasn't Vincent Price a great actor and this is TOP 5, or maybe even TOP 3, of my favourite movies with him. I usually don't like black comedies as I don't get them and sometimes cry instead of laughing, but this one was along my way and even though it portrayed some bloody murders I was laughing at them! Especially funny was the surgery part and its result when that maid entered the room. Some of these murder ideas were pretty imaginative yet all taken from (or slightly altered) from Shakespeare, since Price plays a theatrical actor here. Generally, I agree with Price and I was rooting for him. F*CK THE CRITICS. Wait a second, ain't I a critic in a way right now? Maybe Ebert didn't die of cancer but was killed by some director whose movie he bashed in one of his reviews?! <conspiracy theory mode on>

殭屍家族 [Mr. Vampire II] (1986) -

"- Give your qualifications!
- I'm Lam Ching-Ying. In 1980 I was in Spooky Encounters and one year ago in Mr. Vampire."

Not as great as Part One, but still very funny and enjoyable flick! Some of these fights with zombies/vampires were incredibly giggle-worthy and as low as the humour gets, it's still making me laugh, so I guess it's not a biggie. Sadly, there were no atmospheric lady ghost encounters and the whole turning into a vampire thing was a very minor part of it - the thing I really enjoyed in the first one. The parts with that little vampire boy and this girl were pretty cool, too. As cheesy as possible, but still very good. I heard Mr. Vampire III is even better than this and the first one, so I can't wait to see it!

An Affair to Remember -

"The Empire State Building is the closest thing to heaven in this city."

Some frames are beautiful and the movie generally has that tranquil feel to it like some Ozu movies have (pillow shots etc.), but sadly in this case this tranquility also means boredom. It's incredible how wonderful auteur directors were so inspired by these 50's melodramas. Fassbinder by Douglas Sirk and Ozu by Leo McCarrey. The problem is they both outgrew their respective masters. At the beginning An Affair to Remember even reminded me of In the Mood for Love, you know two married people spending time together, but then it became more corporal. :P Generally, it's a harlequinesque story that feels like taken from that 1$ magazine for housewives. Just look at this and All That Heaven Allows. SPOILER Two lovers that can't be together (either the society or respective fiance/wife are the problem), then they finally decide f*ck everything we will be together anyways, then one of them has an accident (Hudson or Kerr) etc. END OF SPOILER No wonder that Google bot was fed on harlequines when they wanted to teach him, because all these stories are the same! Annoying children made me decrease the rating even more.

Odd Man Out (1947) -

"I remember. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I understood as a child. But when I became a man, I put way childish things. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become a sounding brass or a inkling cymbal. Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and though I have all faiths so that I could remove mountains and have not charity... I am nothing."

Now, I couldn't think of a better pick-me-up after that chore and disappointed the previous movie was, could I? Rain turns into a downpour and the downpour turns into snow. The filth of the city is tangible. The dead walks among the living to seek redemption.

I surely feel like rewatching The Third Man now.

Forty Guns (1957) -

"- I never kissed a gunsmith before.
- Any recoil?"

This one is a true western noir and one helluva film at that. It's very short, but there's a lot of things happening. Top notch western (I like it more than Rio Bravo and as much as High Noon). May be a 4.5 star film. Dunno yet.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955) -

"Kiss me, Mike. I want you to kiss me. Kiss me. The liar's kiss that says I love you, and means something else."

The ultimate pulp noir experience! Godard and Tarantino must've masturbated to this movie so long they became bedroom dicks. Ralph Meeker is as badass as Bogart in Maltese Falcon or Key Largo and the dames here as incredibly hot and dangerous. So is u... the box. Va-va-voom? Va-va-voom!

the samoan lawyer's Avatar
Unregistered User
^^^Despite it being set just up the road from me, I still haven't seen Odd Man Out. After your rating I'm going to bump it up the watch list.
Too weird to live, and too rare to die.

Odd Man Out is a great movie, but James Mason's performance is weak. The longer you look at his acting the worse it gets. Carol didn't think he was good enough either. Mason drove him crazy because he didn't have range.