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The Prophet's Game (2000)
WHAT A WASTE.......
O.K. Here is what happened. I went to the VIDEO STORE to rent THE TAO of STEVE and did not look carefully at the DVD case and ended up renting this stinker of a flick instead. Now don't get me wrong, this film had potential. Dennis Hopper is always at least tolerable or better, and is not bad here. The problem was the poorly explained plot, the numerous bad performances, and the director's insistence on using every police cliche going. The film uses the venetian blind shadows in just about every scene. I really cannot express the multitude of reasons no one should see this. Seems to me it went straight to video for a reason.
Where the Money Is (2000)
Enjoyable Flick with funny moments!
OK so this is not the greatest film EVER made. But it is funny, nicely paced with adequate to excellent performances. Newman shines as does Fiorentino. I don't think she has been better since the LAST SEDUCTION. She exudes fun-sexiness and her and Newman have great chemistry. I am a little biased as I love heist films, but this would be a good night out when you want to clear your head.
This is one of the worst shows to ever be on TV beyond a season.Shows this bad and unfunny should never get made. The saddest thing is the film that this was based on was really great in so many ways. I wouldn't label it Scorcese's best, but it had some great performances and dealt with the struggle single moms face. The show as I have said is a real stinker, and they should burn the masters so future generations won't have the potential to get tortured on Nick at Nite!
Every Parent's Dream, Every Parent's Nightmare
Max Fisher is a combination of every parent's dreams and nightmares. In fact, despite this characters obvious social gifts, we see his teen angst rage against convention. In one sense he comes off almost as we would imagine a Holden Caufield in Catcher In The Rye. Is that a "people shooting cap"? Max is more complicated than an angry teen, and has more adult skills than many adults (particularly those portrayed in the film). He is proof that charm can carry a person through life almost exclusively, becoming a necessity as you rely more and more upon it. This brings us to Herman Blume, his life-battered mentor who has an obvious kinship with Max by way of his dislike of social convention. Early on in Rushmore, we learn there is no place in his heart for elitist philosophy: he tells the less fortunate among the prep school boys he is addressing to take aim at the rich boys, to bring them down. Ironically enough, both fall for the same woman, Rosemary Cross, a product of the most elite American institution, Harvard. Max even claims this to be his back up for college, behind Oxford and the Sorbonne. There are obvious parallels in this film to The Graduate. It is puntuated by music perfectly, and not with tired pop tunes (as are most movies these days with music incorporated). Max at times almost seems as though he were Benjamin, stalking Elaine at Berkeley. Jason Schwartzman excels as Max, as does Murray as Blume. Director Anderson does not avoid awkward moments, rather tackling them as subject in new ways. Some of this is done through great camera work, and some is accomplished by silence. Simply, he has made a daring, original film by letting us read the characters for ourselves.
Snuck in to see The Fonz
I remember seeing this movie when I was 10 with my younger brother-without my parents permission. We would wait until the movie started, go to the back door of the theater and knock until someone answered. If it was the usher we would run, but usually it was somebody near the front who got sick of hearing us knock. Anyhow, we thought any movie with the Fonz had to be cool. I remember being disappointed, but slightly interested in the story. I saw it again years later, and felt that it did capture the angst and disillusionment many Vets felt. I grew up on or near Navy bases and saw many of the Marines who had served in Vietnam at the gym on passes from the military psychiatric hospital. It was sad to see these young guys so confused and messed up. I heard about many more strange plans than starting a worm farm. Good flick though.
Guimba, un tyran une époque (1995)
At Brown University this evening I saw this film with a friend. We both liked aspects of it, but I enjoyed it more. The visuals were great, the village depicted was pretty, as were the brightly colored cloths. I like the way the film starts as a folk story by a narrator. The production values are not "western", and there are times when too little light is used. It is good though to see a raw film now and then. I like the way the camera was stationary at times and others very rough movements. The story is a combination of fantasy and folklore (a tinge of Greek Tragedy too), with a good base of reality. I think the viewer was not meant to understand everything that occurs. If you like to try new things, this film is for you.
A Midnight Clear (1992)
Where was I when this film came out? Head buried in books, studying, or writing a paper? Nonetheless, I "discovered" it on television the other night. It captured my attention immediately with it's strange, nearly surreal images. The barrenness of winter often forces artists to choose compositions that ordinary situations do not. Most of the film felt as though it were a dream, especially the night scenes. Compelling images alone do not a film make however, and the other elements of this film are outstanding as well. The performances of the actors was top notch. The score was light and appropriately eerie. The treks through the forests where we see the Germans, almost dreamlike in quality, remain tense. The scenes of the enemies sharing Christmas are touching because they never get too sentimental. The most sentimental of all the scenes is their shared memory of the girl that lost her boyfriend in the war. The act of giving her body absolves the guilt of going on without her partner. At the same time it allows the men what they deserve and may never get again: shared intimacy with another person that goes beyond what friendship affords. Sinise stands out in the cast. Mother's breakdown is palpable without being over-the-top. The most touching aspect of any war film is it's power to make people think about it as an experience and not a history lesson. The violence of war is here, but mostly the worst part of violence in general is portrayed: it's after-effects.
The Third Man (1949)
This evening I have finally watched a film that I have always wanted to see- The Third Man. To me it lived up to my expectations. The first thing I loved about this film was the composition of shadow/light and the actors. They dared to show things not in their most pretty way, but in their most desperate form. It allows us to really feel the tension of "the pre-coldwar" in Vienna. I think Joseph Cotton is such a natural actor; he never forces his lines or attempts to overact. All of his lines are said with clarity and conviction of character. He is as likable an actor as Jimmy Stewart. By far however, my favorite part of the film is the ferris wheel ride. Orson Welles could provide such a menacing presence. Here the subtlety of his acting (as in The Stranger) added to the tension. Was he going to throw his friend out of the ride? His eyes revealed his character so delicately. The subtle glances and narrowed eyes conveyed his potential for evil. It is amazing to me too, with cameras having been so bulky, that they were able to shoot the subterranian world of the sewer. Film also tended to be slow back then as well, and the use of light there is amazing. I agree with AFI, this is one of our treasures.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
When I think of D-Day, a picture comes to mind. In Life magazine, Robert Capa the famous war photographer, had a picture he took at D-Day. He landed with the men at Normandy on June 6, 1944 and was nearly killed. "The water was very cold, and the beach still more than 100 yards away. The bullets tore holes in the water around me, and I made for the nearest steal obstacle...it was still very early and very gray for good pictures, but the gray water and gray sky made the little men, dodging under the surrealistic designs of Hitler's anti-invasion braintrust, very effective.", he said later of the day. The photograph is very grainy. You can see the steal barricades and a soldier, blurry in the foreground gritting his teeth, swimming towards his destiny. Clearly Capa was afraid while taking the picture. Speilberg has filled in Capa's grainy, blurry photo for me. I can see Speilberg's Capt. Miller scared, crawling towards his destiny; the destiny of many. I always thought that these men were brave, but it seems more real knowing the specific horrors the endured. It is no longer a blurred and grainy Life Magazine photo.
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Will stand the test of time.........
When a film evokes an era as well as L.A. Confidential does, people take notice. It could be argued that it is easier to replicate the recent past than the distant on film, and in a sense this is true. Costumes, language, and the necessary absence of the modern in "period pieces" make them expensive and difficult to film. But couldn't it be argued that it is just as difficult to make a film about more recent periods? I have no knowledge of how a Victorian era table was set, or what a knight really spoke like; we are subject to the directors view of reality. But what if a good deal of your audience lived through the time you are portraying, as in the case of the 1950's? I can even envision my grandfather coming back from WW2 to a booming economy, and living in the world Curtis Hanson created.
The real genus of this film is that it creates not only a physical world, but one with all the politics, corruption, racism and inequity of the time. As a result we feel the characters motivations and understand their faults all the better; Bud White, Ed Exley, Lynn Bracken and Lana Turner all live here.
This film, like others that make us believe we are there for two hours (and $7.50), will endure. I was thinking a perfect double feature would be with Chinatown, another film that will stand the test of time.