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Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
Death of a thousand cuts
There should be an award for the Todd Ramsey School of film editing. Remember him? If you do not, venture back before the original "good" BladeRunner to the cold winter of 1979 when all SciFi fans trotted into theatres to see STAR TREK: THE MOTION(less) PICTURE. Remember the editing? What there was of it. Well, just lasted an hour and 40 into this thing, an emotionless creature of a film. Did not even get to see Harrison Ford. Other reviewers have said " slow " and that would be a good thing. THIS film is not slow, it died ages ago and is trying to be an alive thing. Scenes are soooooooooo long and drawn out they starve the mind for creativity. Frank Capra once said the cardinal sin of making a movie is to be BORING and the old master was spot on. BORING and I walked out so consider this a partial review. If you can stand it to see Harrison Ford - my blessings unto you.
Acting? The ONLY interesting performance that I saw was Robin Wright and that just because I am a Claire Underwood fan.
Story? If you see plot points of significance 30 minutes BEFORE they happen, then you have a bad story. And the editing, see above.
Music? Only occasionally a hint of the old, wonderful 1982 score. Mostly the music is noise. Other reviews here have said they have mastered the sudden LOUD sound to wake the viewer up. WHY WOULD HAVE TO DO THAT if the film was not so freaking SLOW!!!!! I loved the film noir effect of the first film and it's variations over the years till Ridley Scott got the 2007 version he liked. I love films in general and even find good stuff in the 1979 Star Trek of a kind.
There is no joy in this film, no emotion, no urgency, no nothing. Warner Bros. blew $185 million (!!!) on a memory from 1982 and it is far from that. Do not wait for it on DVD either - why waste 2 Hour 44 Min of a nice evening. Find a good restaurant for a good dinner instead.
They did not even have fireballs exploding over the Los Angeles of the future!!! Can I report something good? No. Honestly, cannot do so. At least they did not kill a dog.
The Cheap Detective (1978)
A wonderful send-up of THREE Bogart films, not two!!!
Most reviews and the summary here list two films - but THE BIG SLEEP also gets a turn-over in this one. So add that fact to your list. I like this one, far better than the previous MURDER BY DEATH which Peter Sellers hated BTW. The HUGE cast is flawless and they play it all straight. Plus as a cinema buff, watch the photography. THE MALTESE FALCON scenes are cut straight, to the point, quickly and sometimes do not match. The CASABLANCA scenes (like the movie) are smooth flowing, the camera moving around the club. This is a film made by people who love old movies. Falk was at home in this role too. Some jokes by Simon are writ-large and others just subtle - such as when Falk just takes a Martini out of his desk drawer (it was there all the time for a rainy day) and gives it to Alma Chalmers, Denise Manderly, NO-CARMEN MONTENEGRO. Not a great comedy but one to curl up with and smile and remember too that there are not waters in CASABLANCA. ("I was misinformed"). Oh, and take the Martini out of the cupboard - chill it and enjoy.
Virtual Experience of war, chaos, horror and hope
From a different viewpoint as this author walked down 101 floors of the South Tower on September 11. Worked for Aon and came away with not PTSD or dust-health problems (I was far uptown when the towers came down). So as I sat watching Dunkirk, the cummulative effect was to virtually relive aspects of THAT day for me. It's impossible to describe horror, fear and what it was like to BE there, or BE at Dunkirk. Many films and books (fondly MRS. MINIVER was the first). Or the heroic dogfights of BATTLE OF Britain. This one - far different. I came out of the theater feeling that I had just been through not only Dunkirk but 9-11 as well. It is THAT effective. The lack of dialogue for a good part of the film draws the viewer INTO the story as a real participant. YOU'RE THERE. Spielberg did it a few times such as the 20 minute Omaha Beach segment of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN but even that film became just a more intense version of the standard war film.
Be prepared to have your life changed by this one. It's that damn good.
Respectful, a bit slow, but peaceful viewing of history
Zanuck - his name is all over this bio-pic of Wilson, and he was heavily invested in both the war waging at that time and a peaceful future, as advocated by Wilkie's book ONE WORLD. The budget was lavish for the film and Knox was perfect, as was the rest of the cast. Many reviews are more negative and I tend to agree. Certainly Wilson has his bad aspects to the story, most of which were not known in 1944 and, besides, 2 hours is an indecent limit of time to pose on a biography of anybody. It can't be done, but some do it better than others. Zanuck tried to get it right and succeeded on some levels as above. He violated, though, Capra's singular rule of film-making: boredom. The film has zero visual movement, takes run long and dynamic it is not. Zanuck was too close to his subject to see this flaw. It is worth the view to see the performances and learn about an interesting President, one for the shelf and to be watched when the interest is up.
The Wizard of Lies (2017)
Portrait of a Sociopath
Richard Dreyfuss claims first portrayal of this monster, but he made Bernard out to be somewhat approachable, as he talked through the fourth wall and joked about the art of selling a scam. He was good but too likable. DeNiro is one of our great acting treasures and his take is nothing nice at all. In fact, it is impossible to like this man. He is evil here, and while one can have some sympathy for Ruth and her sons, the entire tragedy, almost out of Shakespeare, is well done. It bounces around a bit to the past and present, but easy to follow and under the direction of Barry Levinson, moves smartly. But don't watch this if you want a positive evening - hard film indeed. Shot of whiskey portrayal of a monster.
$23 I will never get back again
I once rented a DVD of a horror film called NOAH a few years ago, a horror film because it was really Noah meets Transformers. Today I spent some money, gone, on a CGI waste of time too. I am sorry, but Arthurian legends do not BEGIN WITH HUGE ELEPHANTS. What about Merlin, Round Table, Morgana, Mordred in the proper order. To my mind, the 1981 Excalibur was the best truncation of the many odd and difficult to comprehend legends. Even John Steinbeck took a crack at it as he found the old story so messy. And forget, here, that once there was a shining spot, not to be forgot ...... dreadful. Now, I walked out after 30 min and cannot speak for the rest of it but even the coming attractions were CGI AFTER CGI AFTER CGI AFTER .... OK, Wonder Woman is a must see. But what about story? Knowing who a character IS??? I thought the opening King in the thing was Arthur - no, Uther and if it began in Camelot? Crazy chaos.
Don't bother with this one. Curl up with the 1968 Musical or the HBO version of CAMELOT, find Excalibur or even THE SWORD IN THE STONE.
Wuthering Heights (1939)
The Norma Desmond School of Acting
I have never seen WHeights until last night as my wife is a mega Olivier fan and always loved the film. So we sat down for a total glorious piece of soap opera trash acting. Like all the Bronte tales (I think of Jane Eyre), the mood is dark and longing. The sets, here, were mostly good for the time but some process shots were so obvious as to be painful.
Cathy and Heathcliff - how could he possibly LOVE a woman who changes her mind LIKE THAT on who she likes and wants to marry? I found zero sympathy for Merle Oberon in this role - she is a woman to stay far away from. (Hey, if the only place you can kiss a girlfriend is standing on one cliff, something is wrong). And every time old Olivier gets offended as a character, BAM off he goes on his horse.
Everybody else is perfectly fine having little to do but stand and comment on this train wreck of a relationship. Niven, as fine as he is, is just THERE to be the nice chap who gets taken for a fool by Kathy who really loves Heathcliff when she is not saying nasty things about him and BAM off he goes again.
If there are spoilers here, the book and film have been around for ages so who cares. It is also a plot one can see coming for miles.
But it is glorious fun trash and the ACTING? OMG - Kathy's deathbed scene makes Love Story look like Hamlet. Wide eyes, smiles, pain, wide eyes, clawed hands, wide eye..... oh, painful. I could just see her coming down the stairs with Heathcliff at the bottom 'These are the stairs of the heights.....' like Max in SBoulevard. Olivier was almost as bad here.
This is a wonderful piece of high trash, enjoy it, laugh a lot and remember that films often do not make much sense at all either in watching or by those who make them.
In the end, Kathy should have told Heathcliff "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn".
A Man Called Peter (1955)
Thoughtful Film that stays with you a long time
I reserve 10 ratings for the level of Citizen Kane, of which there are perhaps 20 films of that category. But this is close. It is not a DYNAMIC film, camera movement is pretty calm and the shots are quite long. It is Todd's PERFORMANCE that captures the mind. That said too, my wife and I are Jewish and this is very much a Christian film - no bones about that and very much a 1955 period TwenCenFox film too. But the sermons as delivered by Todd and (presume)taken from Marshall are just outstanding. Todd also covers them in long, single takes which is hard for any actor to do. The words are what matter!!! When we were done, it just sticks with you in a profound way and without a spoiler, the end is very touching. As I wrote in FBook, have a cup of hot Tea, sit back and be prepared to think ... and I'll see you in the morning.
LOGAN did not do it for me
This was a disappointment for me and my wife and I walked out of it half way through, worse when you WANT to like a film as the entire X-Men franchise and the other half, owned by Marvel, as they all comprise good, solid entertainment. Funniest thing was the first five min and then downhill from there. This is a mean, nasty film, not one character is likable and just something far from taking mind away from problems on a weekend. I know many here think this is the CITIZEN KANE of action - X - superhero films and I suppose I could see ..... nope, cannot see that viewpoint. The X-Men series dies a bad death for me. Hell, the Fox logo in the beginning did not even highlight the X for a moment or two.
Wasted my money totally. Going to a bar for a solid drink.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Perfect Entertainment - Enjoy something strange.
The fabled MCU world is an interesting creation for cinema, and I think the only thing we have it compare to are the Bond films for consistency. Star Trek and Wars are so fragmented now that once around the curve from one series or film to the next, the roads tends to fade away. Marvel, wisely, connects at least this part of the universe together quite well, binding all the titles into one plot. (Fox owns the X-Men of course and the two studios have never been able to craft a co-agreement. They should, that film would be epic, probably 3 hours plus too). So here we have a new entry that opens up new worlds, literally, of reality and being. No specifics here and acting kudos go to one and all. The film is tight and constantly entertaining, action here and humor there. Some of the finest jokes are the smallest of them. It is amazing the laugh you can get out of a collar. Visuals are, of course, the world of computers year again, but so well executed that one is amazed at the complexity of the software behind these fellows burning the midnight oil. There should be a credit for gallons of coffee consumed. This is a beautiful film. Some shots are paintings and more are Escher prints. Small stuff - the new Marvel logo is very impressive, two scenes at the end are keepers and as one reviewer noted, the quiet conversion in the snow at night is memorable. Have a fine evening at the movies my friends. Dr. Strange will return. (Oh, was that Bond?)