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Caligula : The Ultimate Cut - (2023)

Caligula, as first released in 1979, was one of the biggest fiascos in film history. A hodgepodge of shots edited together almost at random, with hard-core pornography spliced in just to add insult to injury. I went through a period where I was fascinated with all aspects of the film's history, and while writing extensively about it I got to know it in detail. That was around about 2010, and my interest hasn't wavered, which means of course a friend and I would rush out and see the local premiere of this astonishing new cut of the film. Supposedly not one shot that was in the original version was used in this (a claim we both felt was a little dubious) - but one thing's for sure : using the original screenplay to put together this version creates a completely different film. Much of what I saw last night I'd never seen before. Whole swathes of the film, previously unseen, add important narrative structure to the whole and as such this truly was a completely different movie. I went suspecting I might just be watching a rejigged version of the same Tinto Brass stinker - but that wasn't the case at all.

It starts with a prologue - first some text, dramatically bringing us up to date with the history of the film itself. How it was mangled by amateurs and producer Bob Guccione, the founder of Penthouse magazine. Then there's an animated prologue - an interesting addition, and very informative, and I liked it in spite of my feeling that films shouldn't be messed with in this manner. The movie itself was exciting from the get-go because of how dramatically different it is. It's like a real movie now - a real epic and not a bizarre curiosity. It kind of fell two ways for me in the end. The good was that this is a pretty darn good movie - I mean, seeing it on the big screen is almost a must. The sets are magnificent, as are the costumes and production design. I've read they aren't at all historically accurate for the most part - but they're still glorious. The performances are really good as well - and all of this tied into a more weighty narrative about an Emperor sickened by his own sycophants makes all the difference. The bad is that now Caligula is just your run of the mill ordinary film. Without the disaster and the messy deformity it created, it doesn't distinguish itself as much from other movies.

I just want to add, for those curious or those who weigh up watching it - there is still tons of nudity and sex. It's not nearly as explicit as it is in the original - that stuff isn't dwelled upon as much - but this being the film it is, you'll still get an eyeful of both sexes. Some parts are also puzzlingly absent. We no longer get to see the death of poor old Proculus, which might actually be a bonus come to think of it. Also, some characters are a much, much bigger part of the narrative and stick out. This is why I said to my friend, "they should have called this the Longinus Cut!" when it finished. Longinus (played by John Steiner) comes out as one of the major characters - and in the original film you hardly notice him at all. The plot to assassinate Caligula is also much more expertly drawn out and not seemingly as impromptu and random. Overall, my friend didn't like it so much, but I thought it's a much better film and loved finally seeing this as it was meant to be. A highlight of the year.

7.5/10
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Latest Review : Red Rock West (1993)



ĎOppenheimerí (2023)


Pros:
Cillian Murphy is excellent. Some tense scenes towards the end.

Cons:
Far too long. Didnít feel connected to it in any way. Some laborious scenes. Many of the cast are putting on dreadful accents. Iím a big fan of Benny Safdie but he sounds Russian in this rather than Hungarian. Tom Conti as Einstein was laughable, and casting Kenneth Brannagh as a Danish physicist just topped it all off. Weak film.

This film is currently listed as 33rd in IMDBís greatest films of all time list. Sigh.






Thor Ragnarok - (2017)

Rewatch, with my son. Better than I remembered, my son also enjoyed it quite a bit. Infinity War next
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The Naked Kiss -


Samuel Fuller is at the top of his game in this neo-noir that's all about dirty little secrets. In a jarring opening scene, we learn Kelly's: she's a now ex-prostitute whose shabby treatment by her johns did major damage to her temper and humanity. She hopes to start all over again in Grantville, a quaint, peaceful, all-American town not far removed from ones in The Twilight Zone, first as a purveyor of fine champagne and later as a nurse at a ward for handicapped children. It's hardly a smooth transition, though: not only does she discover that her final john, Griff, is a police officer there, Grantville is also like The Twilight Zone towns in that it has its own dirty little secrets.

Does Kelly qualify as a femme fatale? Probably, but it's a moot point because Constance Towers makes her so much more than that. With traits like a refusal to let others push her or her friends around, remorse about what her career did to her, etc., she makes Kelly into one of the more fully realized protagonists I've seen in this genre. The same descriptor applies to Grantville, with another one being prescient because when it comes down to it, life in American places like it has not changed that much. Despite its smiling, generous and clean-living populace, vice like booze and what Kelly used to do is tolerated. As for the moments that make the movie a neo-noir, the typical one is not the kind with blood, guts and bullets found in Le Samourai or Blood Simple. While I love such violent fare as much as the next noir lover, credit goes to Fuller, Towers, et al for not needing them to make their tension unbearably thick, whether it's if Kelly will revert to her old ways, her romance with the richest and most eligible bachelor in town will fail or if her comely co-worker is another Kelly in the making. The movie is rough around the edges: nearly every scene transition made me assume I missed something even though I did not. Also, the last act puts quite a few coincidences and conveniences into a small space. That does not take away from it being a classic of its genre, especially for how well it makes you wonder if prosperity in America is impossible without dirty little secrets being involved.



Raven73's Avatar
Boldly going.
This one's an old favorite, a combination of sci-fi, fantasy and film noir. Somehow my first DVD copy stopped working and I had to buy another one just so I would not see that vacant spot on the shelf.
Great cast. And Jennifer Connelly never looked so stunning.

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Dark City
7/10.
Repeat viewing. It's basically the Matrix meets The Truman Show. A physical simulation by aliens instead of humans, or a virtual one made by machines.

I'd say it's more like Metropolis meets noir / fantasy. Good film though.



Manodrome (2023)

I had my misgivings about this due to the blurb. Jesse Eisenberg plays Ralphie, a soon-to-be father that's having trouble with his male identity, what with being an Uber driver taking abuse or his supportive but demanding GF. It just didn't work for me with joining up with the testosterone gang etc There are a few shocking moments (a gym bumming sequence) and the violence is well done enough. The whole thing didn't hang for me though, Jesse Eisenberg plays Jesse Eisenberg like he does in every other film and, on the whole the plot was gimicky and flimsy.






Re-watch of this very good movie. (What a cast.) @AgrippinaX didnít like the scene where the mother sprays her son so he can leave the colony with the women. IIRC this is what she didnít like. I thought it was a necessary pragmatic move & saw nothing wrong with it. Whatever.
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Based on a true story in the Canary Islands of Spain. Not bad, not great.



Another movie from Spain. Rather far-fetched & implausible at times, but I enjoyed this. My worse nightmare would be to be in this womanís predicament.



Well-acted by the two leads, but heavily dependent on HBOís Industry series, but not even close to being that good. Some very strange American accents by some of the Brits. Supposed to be Manhattan, but actually shot in Serbia if all places. I knew right away it wasnít NYC & it made the movie tacky-looking in some places.



Thanks for confirming that Fair Play was not filmed in Manhattan because as I watched it, it just didn't look like Manhattan but I wasn't sure.
Did you like the movie?







Umpteenth Rewatch...This rewatch proved to me that it's Gene Wilder's rich performance in the starring role that keeps this movie watchable. When I was watching this time, I found myself bored silly until Wilder appeared onscreen, which was a good thirty minutes into the film.






1st Rewatch...As I rewatched this movie, I realized that enjoyment of this film is completely dependent on suspension of disbelief and realizing that NOTHING that happens in this movie would ever happen in real life, except possibly the way Elle's fellow students mistreat her upon her initial arrival on campus. I'm sorry, but I just can't get my head wrapped around the fact that someone like Elle Woods would be accepted to Harvard Law School or that before she graduates, she is first chair for a high profile murder case. Despite Reese Witherspoon's absolutely enchanting performance, I just can't buy everything that happens in this movie.







1st Rewatch...In addition to its technical mastery, Christopher Nolan's artistry offers us a multi-character story that deep dives into more than one of the central characters, The tortured Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) finding himself heading off with both Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart, in the performance of his career) and the Joker (the heartbreaking and unhinged Oscar-winning performance by the late Heath Ledger). Ledger's one-man acting class makes this movie appointment viewing all by itself. I love the humanity that Ledger brings to the character...he makes this character a guy who just wants to be loved.







1st Rewatch... It's Jim Carrey's limitless energy, his unparalleled talent with impressions and some first rate visual effects that make this one worth watching.