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Citizen Rules...Cinemaesque Chat-n-Review

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Do the Right Thing (1989)
Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Spike Lee
Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Rosie Perez, Spike Lee


Now that's some great urban cinematography in that screen shot! Spike really shot his film well. I liked those three older guys and their commentary on stuff going on in the community. The three older men worked like a Greek chorus in classic Greek theater. By that I mean, they cue us in on the happenings and do so in a semi-omnipresent way. Which worked brilliantly as they then anchor the film for the viewer.

I have to say Spike Lee was brilliant in his film making casting choices. Right at the start we get Rosie Perez dancing to Fight the Power...At first I'm thinking, 'hey, she can really move', but then after my 10 second attention span waned she kept dancing....and dancing and dancing! Her moves and the music was frantic! Just when I thought she was finally done, the scene changes to nighttime and now she's dancing/boxing at the camera and looking quite hostile too! Which set me on edge...AND THAT IS BRILLIANT, because Spike Lee had that all planned out.

And he continues that pressure cooker effect with the ever present heat wave and craziness. He makes us feel the craziness by introducing one character after another and they're all yelling or ranting about something. So by the time we get to the pizza parlor I'm as worked up as the denizens of the street block were. I think Spike Lee did something special here!

You know what the difference between Tarantino and Spike Lee is? Spike can actually act and Tarantino sucks when he's a character in his own films. Spike as the actor was as good as Spike the director, he made for a very interesting character, kind of like a black Woody Allen.

There were a lot of colorful characters in Do the Right Thing, Rosie Perez with her nasal jaw poppin whine and her profanity spewing, drove me bonkers through out the film and so did the stuttering guy...BUT that's exactly what Spike intendeds these characters to do to the audience...make us crazy!

I could wrote a book about the movies examination of racial and social problems in this poor inner city neighborhood. I'm sure the film can be interpreted a 100 different ways. For me I'll sum it up, I think Spike Lee wanted to show how it is, and in my book he succeed.





Do the Right Thing (1989)
Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Spike Lee
Starring: Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Rosie Perez, Spike Lee
Honestly, I never imagined you watching this, but I'm sure you glad you did and you seem to feel about it the same way I do. I've seen a healthy chunk of Spike's movies, but this is his masterpiece.;




Gangs of New York (2002)

Director: Martin Scorsese
Writers: Jay Cocks (story) Steven Zaillian & Kenneth Lonergan (screenplay)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Daniel Day-Lewis
Genre: Fictional Historical Drama
'In 1862, Amsterdam Vallon returns to the Five Points area of New York City seeking revenge against Bill the Butcher, his father's killer.'

I tried to watch this once and got about 45 minutes in before giving up.



Honestly, I never imagined you watching this, but I'm sure you glad you did and you seem to feel about it the same way I do. I've seen a healthy chunk of Spike's movies, but this is his masterpiece.;
I seen it here:
https://www.movieforums.com/communit...08#post2132008




Woman in the Dunes (1964)

Director: Hiroshi Teshigahara
Screenplay: Kōbō Abe
Starring: Eiji Okada,Kyōko Kishida
Genre: Drama Fantasy
Language: Japanese

Woman in the Dunes...It was fascinating to watch and I'm still thinking about it right now. That doesn't mean I think it was perfect and as I write this I haven't worked out my rating for it yet.

One thing for sure, there are so many great cinema-artsy shots in the movie that I had a hard time settling on just one image for this review. Visually this is impressive.

What's also impressive is how the TV show The Twilight Zone obviously influenced this movie...right down to the similar music. I loved this story and it's setting at the bottom of a sand pit. There's so much to think about here...and that's a rarity as most movies for me are forgotten the next day.

I do think there was some missed opportunities and I would've nixed the villagers lined up wanting to watch the man and the woman copulate. With all the closeups of their weird facial garb I was reminded of The Road Warrior and something about that scene and it's pacing seemed out of place in an otherwise contemplative type film.

The end scene (a bit of a spoiler here) with the woman being taking away in pain with a ectopic pregnancy, repeatedly crying out 'no-no', 'no-no'...was haunting and oh so sad. I find myself wondering what happened to her. Did she have her baby and return to live with the man in the dune pit? Or did she die? I hope she returned and they lived a good life, albeit a strange one.




You know what the difference between Tarantino and Spike Lee is? Spike can actually act and Tarantino sucks when he's a character in his own films. Spike as the actor was as good as Spike the director, he made for a very interesting character, kind of like a black Woody Allen.
I don't know if you've seen it yet, but Spike puts in a pretty memorable performance in She's Gotta Have It, as one of the heroine's three suitors. The movie's uneven but a great debut. He also reprised the character in his Air Jordan commercials.



I don't know if you've seen it yet, but Spike puts in a pretty memorable performance in She's Gotta Have It, as one of the heroine's three suitors. The movie's uneven but a great debut. He also reprised the character in his Air Jordan commercials.
I'll have to check that out someday. I haven't seen many of his film, I think only two.




Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica 1948)

A perfect film for me. It's so well made that it flows effortlessly and the pieces, the individual scenes, they all fit seamlessly. I felt like I was right there in the story and that's a feeling I don't get from many films.

Perhaps it was the actors that sold me on the film. The actor who played the father was very much in the moment. Without words he could express his emotions. His angst at having his bicycle stolen which meant losing his job, was palatable. There was no doubt in my mind just how life changing the loss of his bike and job was to him. Then there's his son. Wow, talk about a good kid actor! He doesn't really have many lines, but through the range of emotions that play out on his young face, I could see the desperation of his family in post war Italy. I especially liked the dynamic between the father and the boy and how at times the spacial distance between them grew as tensions rose.

I often love Italian films as they're so full of life, even if the subject matter is depressing or dark, the films themselves are alive with the movement of life.

I think the director did an amazing job making a simple story seem so personal. Of course this isn't just a story of a stolen bicycle, it's an expose on the hardships faced by the Italians immediately following the end of World War II. We see wide spread poverty with the people fighting for jobs and pawning what few positions they own just so they can have a meal. We see how people cope with the collapse of the economy and it ranges from criminal behavior to charlatanism to prostitution and to standing in long lines for some soup and bread.

I'm impressed with Bicycle Thieves.





The 400 Blows (Truffaut 1959)
Director: François Truffaut
Writer: François Truffaut, Marcel Moussy
Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Albert Rémy, Claire Maurier
Language: French

The 400 Blows
part of the French New Wave film movement that transformed the way movie stories were portrayed on the screen.

This is a very balanced film that never preaches or tries to make a case by focusing purely on a one sided issue. I mean in one way the troubled kid has problems which are a result of his dysfunctional family, especially his mother who never wanted him and shipped off to live with the relatives as soon as she could. Then again much of the problems the teen faces comes from his own dumb ass behavior. He does a lot of really stupid stunts and screws up constantly. He's not overly sympathetic, yet he's very real and believable.

Oh, I always thought the 400 Blows referred to some brutal beatings the kid had endured. That's not what the title means, I read that properly translated from French it means 400 pranks...referring to all the dumb stunts the kid ends up pulling.

So what does the film have to say? At the end we see the boy running free towards the ocean, of course he's not really free until he starts shaping up.





Children of Paradise (1945)

Director: Marcel Carné
Writer: Jacques Prévert
Cast: Arletty, Jean-Louis Barrault, Pierre Brasseur, Marcel Herrand, Pierre Renoir
Language: French
Genre: Drama

"The theatrical life of a beautiful courtesan and the four men who love her, in 1830s Paris."

Good choice...at first I thought I wouldn't like this as it starts out with the courtesan in a shop with the 'dandy' thief...I didn't know what they were talking about and I feared the rest of the film would be just as confusing. To make things worse the copy I watched had the subs cut off on the bottom third. I could read them but it took my effort and made it harder to concentrate...but not the film's fault.



As it turned out I did really enjoy this and I respected the director's colossal view of Paris street life. Another director might have got a few dozen extras to be in the opening street fair scene. But Marcel Carné not only packs the scene with people from front to back as far as the eye can see, he even has action taking place up on the balconies, like the can-can dancers. Through out the film I was amazed at how the camera moved fluidly with tracking and dolly shots. Modern films could learn a thing or two about staging from this movie.

I thought the actors were all well cast and fit the personas of their characters. For such a long movie, I never got bored in fact after the first 10 minutes which were bumpy, I was fully into the film and waiting to see what would happen next to the lovely courtesan and her four suitors.





Dune (Villeneuve 2021)

'You get out, what you take in.'

Nope, those aren't Frank Herbert's words, they're mine. By that I mean a viewer's experience watching the new Dune movie will be in part a response to their previous Dune experience, or lack of same. If someone has never read the book and never seen the 1984 Dune version, then their experience going into the new Dune will be quite different than a hard core fan of the Frank Herbert novel and different than someone who loathes David Lynch's Dune...and even different than someone who loves Lynch's Dune. So yeah, reactions will very more so than the usual box office biggie of the week.

With that in mind I won't be reviewing this movie from anything other than my own very subjective experience...which is as follows:

I have read the novel Dune, but it was 37 years ago and only the one time. Even though I consider Herbert's Dune to be one of the greatest sci fi novels ever written, I don't remember it all that well. Thus I'm not one to complain if a movie got something 'wrong' as compared to the book. I have seen David Lynch's Dune (1984) several times and I've always really liked it.


So with that in mind I watched Denis Villeneuve's new Dune movie. I can't say I loved it, but it was interesting. Though I could see someone who has no interest in the Dune world being lost and confused by the movie, and that was also a complaint of the 1984 Dune. With Dune 2021 it's a lot of visuals and not much character exploration. The narrative is brief, I knew what was going on in each scene but I don't think the movie conveyed the majesty and awe of the novel very well. First timers to the Dune world might be left scratching their heads.

I mostly hated the casting choices. People say Timothée Chalamet (Paul Atreides) looked to young, I didn't think that myself and Paul was 15 in the book. But what got me was the lost little boy look the actor has...The Kwisatz Haderach? I'm not buying it, he looks more like the guy who couldn't decide what flavor of frozen yogurt he wanted on a hot Arrakis day.

I guess the actor who played Duke Leto was OK, though I didn't like the actress cast for Lady Jessica, not regal or savvy enough, where was all of her keen perceptions and manipulations that the Bene Gesserit had taught her, I guess some of that was shown but I never felt her hyper awareness coming from her performance. You know I could go through the whole cast but I ain't got the time.



So...the two actors above I though were cast very well and looked the part. They played Chani and Dr Yueh, but jeez not much air time for them.

It's been a couple days since I seen this and nothing in the movie really stood out, no goose bump moments for me...but now I suppose I will be sucked into watching part 2.







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Vivre Sa Vie (Godard 1962)

Director: Jean-Luc Godard
Writers: Marcel Sacotte (novel) Jean-Luc Godard (story)
Cast: Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, André S. Labarthe
Language: French

"Twelve episodic tales in the life of a Parisian woman and her slow descent into prostitution."


Big fan of Anna Karina here! I've only seen her in a few films, but I like what I see. She's perfect for French new wave films as she's able to convey moodiness to exuberance with those expressive eyes of hers. Godard sure knows how to fill the frame with her to the film's best advantage. Vivre Sa Vie (Live Your Life) is a showcase for Anna Karina's talents and works well as a case study of a young woman with no real direction in life.



Vivre Sa Vie is Godard's third feature length film and there's lots of experimental film making techniques employed which added to the films up close and personal feel. I enjoyed the various experimentation with camera and sound as much as I did watching Anna Karina.

The first half of the film was a 5/5 for me. I would've preferred if the story continued to follow Nana (Anna Karina) around Paris as she meandered through her own life. The prostitution story of the second half felt more conventional in story telling and lost me some, as I preferred the free form story of the first half. As much as I liked the film I have to say the very ending was disappointingly cliched. The very last scene was the equivalent of a book that starts out with 'It was a dark and stormy night'.
Overall I'm impressed.



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The Earrings of Madame De... (Max Ophüls 1953)

Director: Max Ophüls
Writers: Marcel Achard, Max Ophüls & Annette Wademan (screenplay) Louise de Vilmorin (novel)
Cast: Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux, Vittorio De Sica
Language: French

"When an aristocratic woman known only as "Madame de . . ." sells a pair of earrings given to her by her husband in order to pay some debts, she sets off a chain reaction of financial and carnal consequences that can end only in despair."

I really enjoyed the grandeur of this period piece melodrama.

At the start of the film, when we're introduced to Madame De...she's in her boudoir choosing what to wear to that night's festivities. When she opens her closet it's full of ornate shelves that go right up to the ceiling. I love that scene because it visually defines in a personal way, the type of luxurious life that Madame De lives.

Much of the film is composed of these wonderfully elaborate sets and costumes...and is coupled with creative tracking shots and selective lighting that gives the film a deep richness. I just have to say wow to all that and especially to the gown she wears to the last ball. I would loved to seen that in color, I bet it was red.

Danielle Darrieux who played Madame De...gave a wonderful portrayal. She reminded me a bit of Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld. She had the perfect combination of frivolousness & self indulgence and driven by the boredom of excessive wealth and status.

And hey, it's the director of my new favorite foreign language film Bicycle Thieves...Vittorio De Sica. And a shout out to Charles Boyer who I've of course seen before.

So good film I liked it, except for the duel at the very end. I would've ended the film on a lighter note by having Charles Boyer getting rid of those pesky earrings once and for all by giving them to someone who would never ever part with them.....the nanny.





The Earrings of Madame De... (Max Ophüls 1953)

Director: Max Ophüls
Writers: Marcel Achard, Max Ophüls & Annette Wademan (screenplay) Louise de Vilmorin (novel)
Cast: Charles Boyer, Danielle Darrieux, Vittorio De Sica
Language: French
I don't know that I ever saw this movie. I'm a fan of Ophuls, chiefly due to two of his noirs: Caught (1949), with Robert Ryan and Barbara Bel Geddes, and The Reckless Moment (1949), with James Mason and Joan Bemnett. Those were so well directed that I'll have to check out this film as well. It's on my list...



I don't know that I ever saw this movie. I'm a fan of Ophuls, chiefly due to two of his noirs: Caught (1949), with Robert Ryan and Barbara Bel Geddes, and The Reckless Moment (1949), with James Mason and Joan Bemnett. Those were so well directed that I'll have to check out this film as well. It's on my list...
I don't know if I seen either of those noirs. But yeah the Earrings of Madame De...is well worth watching.