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Happy Now (2001)
This movie unjustly suffers mostly from clichés heaped upon it.
It's a Welsh Twin Peaks parody, they say. Too Welsh to be funny - not enough Twin Peaks to work in the end.
In short: This movie is a victim of false expectations.
Yes, there are certain similarities if one spends the whole time comparing, but that does this movie great injustice. The few 'blatant' takes on Welsh culture clichés take NOTHING away from its positive charme - except for nit-picking Welsh viewers, perhaps. To 'foreign' viewers it's a convincing fresco of provincial life, as well as a Chabrol movie seems to non-French viewers. The Twin Peaks connection exists only on a formalistic plane.
Call me stupid, but I feel that this has a far more honest and less pretentious appeal than said cult hyper-soap. Give it a chance. It's more than the sum of your pre-conceptions.
Faa yeung nin wa (2000)
The Gentle Revolution of the Heart Against Restrictions Of Convention
This is a masterpiece. Nothing more - nothing less. Closed minds will call this film boring, slow and... cold.
Forget all such preconceptions. Prepare for a love story of a different kind. This is a lesson in detail, subtlety and refinement. Watch it and forget the Hollywood code of instant gratification.
Learn to flow with another pace and the almost extinct art of gentleness, honest passion and subtlety.
Almost nothing 'happens' in this movie, and all the time everything happens in one's mind. A gesture. A look. A movement. Nothing is without reason. Everything is charged towards the thresholds of pain, relief, regret and still hope.
This is an achingly beautiful movie.
The Flight of the Phoenix (1965)
They Broke The Mould After This One
Let's face it, there are movies which stick, no matter how times change, no matter what's the latest fad in technology to avoid the strain of storytelling, no matter how 'in' or 'out' a genre currently is.
This one's a classic in the only valid sense of the word.
I won't lose many words on the contents. Others have done that admirably, already. Just this: A plane crashes in the desert, and someone devises the outrageous plan to build a new plane from the wreckage. A simple stroke of genius. THE 'disaster movie'. Top notch actors and performances down to the smallest part.
A character play of the solid traditional kind. Don't EVER underestimate the power of good storytelling and acting!
This 'simple' movie easily de-classifies 99% of the current Hollywood output. Flight Of The Phoenix is a gem from the all-time precious handful of real classics, defying every rule from the ivory tower critics.
I bet my life on this: FotP won't disappoint you on whatever level.
Give it a chance and take a ride on the firebird.
* Ulrich Fehlauer
Prince Valiant (1954)
There are only few - VERY few - classic sword & sorcery adventures out there which deserve more than a glance. Yes, this one's pretty ignorant of Hal Foster's original, and I pity that. But as far as 40's/50's first class adventure romps go, this one ranks right beneath the all-time classic 'The Adventures Of Robin Hood', bravely levels with 'Ivanhoe', and easily settles above 'Knights Of The Round Table'.
This is a classic Sunday afternoon couch with a bag of chips movie.
As long as you don't expect something else, this is the movie for you.
9 out of 10 for what it is and always will be.
England, My England (1995)
To Touch The Nerve Of What Is Truly English, Listen To Tony Palmer
An odd thesis, indeed, to put upon a movie about Henry Purcell.
But hear me out, fair Ladies and honourable Sires. This is the opportunity to hear about the greatest artist before the face of Albion to put justice as well as artistic congeniality before the memories of the greatest spirits to fire up our imagination. Oh yes, a spirit and talent to match his subjects. There hasn't been a master of 'portraits' since Hohlbein or Hilliard, who caught the essence of a spirit as close, detailed and true to its core as Tony Palmer. So, what better master to call upon the task of giving the greatest English composer a face to last beyond the brittle pages of an encyclopedia?
I dare the claim that Purcell was and is the eternal master of the achingly, painfully and gloriously beautiful - the indigo and forest green shades of melancholy music to tease the gentlest tears from stone.
Yes, Tony Palmer's piece is a masterful fresco of the Restoration, but still it's but a frame to what Purcell was all about. Palmer NEVER sells his subjects short for hidden agendas.
To give this claim substance, the best of the best for this task provided the music: John Eliot Gardiner & The English Baroque Soloists.
You can't possibly aim higher than this, and this movie achieved even beyond my biased expectations. The cream of the English acting craft: Simon Callow and Robert Stephens to give music to the words of masters John Osborne and Charles Wood.
Bugger me, but is there any claim out there which can come up with a more suitable setup?
Gather, people, Anglophiles and friends of the core to humanity.
Settle into your favourite chair and surrender to the sound-kept peak of aching beauty.
Grand Canyon (1991)
Damned To Stay The Unheard Poem Of Our Lives
This is and will stay Hollywood's most criminally underrated movie about life... and how to live with it. No smart answers. No solutions. But every worth-while question gets its honest reflection.
Sometimes sentimental. Sometimes giving up on the unsolved future. Sometimes kissing the brow of the undeserving. Always scary and beautiful.
I know, not really a logical assessment, but if you saved yourself a fraction of your... well... 'innocense'..., a fraction of your desire for a solid horizon to look at, you will love this movie without a second consideration, and you'll need a LOT more time to explain that to yourself.
A very personal confession: The soundtrack makes me cry over what I've lost and gambled away for the prize of cynical safety. Nothing will come back. I am the child of black jokes. But 'Grand Canyon' reminds me of the ever-lasting loophole into hope.
This is the movie I will never be able to praise sensibly.
'Grand Canyon' will stay my guilty pleasure.
This is a truly beautiful movie. I had almost forgotten in my hard-boiled pride what that word means..., until I watched 'Grand Canyon'..., and had to watch it again... and again...
High Road to China (1983)
Aah... they don't make 'em like that anymore...
Anyone who thinks the headline's a joke, stop reading NOW!
This was one of my first 4 videos I ever bought, and it's also one of those which are likely to be worn down by continuous use rather than neglect. I love old-fashioned movies, and I love good movies. This one is both. The story's utterly predictable, and it's done the traditional way. In fact, I wouldn't've been surprised to see it as a 1947 movie with Cary Grant, Walter Brennan and Maureen O'Hara in the lead. Romance! Thrills! Spills! Adventure! Nothing more. Nothing less.
You know what? The more I get stuffed with multi-million dollar technology, perfect poses, perfect CGI, and ever so cool and nifty action, the more I love movies like 'High Road To China'. Don't expect the world. Don't expect all at once. Expect adventure, subtle humour, slow pace, human stories and and a standard happy ending which somehow doesn't need any justification at all. It's a 'small' movie. No comparison to the Indy Trilogy. This works perfectly on TV and has no place in modern cinema.
And you know what? I don't care. I love this movie. Chic-flic, adventure, small-time romance..., all is true. Go, have a nice Sunday afternoon at home. Cuddle up with your love and relish one of the last good hours the future has to offer. It'll give you more than a hype-stuffed Blockbuster of today. I love The Matrix. I'm glad someone finally managed to get Lord Of The Rings on celluloid. But I'd be crushed to hear that movies like High Road To China are finally a thing of the past.
Hmm... are they by now? Cos one thing's fer sure, overblown stone-cold wrecks like Titanic or Pearl Harbour are no substitute.
Autumn in New York (2000)
Defense Of The Impossible
Most of the previous reviews are right. This is a horribly predictable tear jerker. But most of the previous reviews are also wrong, because it's an HONEST tear-jerker walking on old and over-used stamping grounds. It doesn't matter that we know the ending long before the movie reached its second half hour. It doesn't matter that it's been trying to repeat 'Love Story' before the century dies. It's too sweet, too predictable, too much cut from the drawing board..., and yet... Joan Chen somehow manages to put her finger on what moves us all: To be loved. Bugger the consequences, the wisdom of time, the black knowledge of experience..., silly love is the answer before sense as well as death sets in. And who has the right to contradict that? Logic? Experience with a thousand other movies? I don't know. Nobody has the right to know. We need the pink horizon of last hopes. This movie points at it without an intelligent excuse. I like this movie - even though I know it isn't a 'good' movie by established standards. Both Gere and Ryder are working perfectly within the narrow boundaries of what's required. If we want to hear it is another matter. This never will be a classic. But it's a movie to like for what it's trying to do. Take a leap into the predictable and discover why it can't be killed by even the smartest contradiction.
Even the oldest and tackiest story should be allowed to be told, as long as the storyteller loves the story more than the payment.
The Duellists (1977)
The Casting Of A Perfect Shadow
The Duellists is remarkable in lots of ways. For one, it's a masterpiece debut. It's also one of the very rare films putting a director on the map who keeps delivering what the debut already displayed in abundance. What's more, it is even rarer in so far that this movie hasn't aged a single day, which can't be explained away with the fact that it's a period piece. It stands the test of time as flawlessly as two other legendary debuts, Orson Welles's Citisen Kane and John Huston's Maltese Falcon. The flipside displays a mystery. The Duellists is an almost totally unknown film. To this day it hasn't earned what it had cost to make it in 1977: 900.000$. That, without doubt, makes it the most underrated masterpiece by one of THE directors of his generation.
The basis was simple and commanding: The adaptation of the classic Joseph Conrad story 'The Duel'. The result is a lesson in perfect cinematic storytelling. And it's also a lesson in the forgotten art of low budget moviemaking. Not a single frame suggests that 'more' would've been better. The required economy of every single aspect of production always finds its perfect answer in the execution of the story. What you can't see or hear doesn't need to be there. It's as simple as that. Suffice to say, Ridley Scott being the director he is, The Duellists is visually superb and at the same time devoid of a single frame just being there to look good. His visual style is completely dependent on the substance of the story as well as the acting. That becomes blindingly obvious in his weaker films, where he resorts to 'beautifying' an empty shell. No other great director is as much a slave of the story's quality, before he can become its master. But once a strong moment, a powerful dialogue, a strong character hits his senses, he 'translates' their life into his unique visual language. In that he is almost without comparison. What we sometimes later perceive as only beautiful is always as essential to the story as a note in a symphony is essential to the next one to make 'sense'. The almost hauntingly arcadian, rural opening shot of the movie is a perfect example. The little girl with her geese leads us through innocence and peace across the screen... and bumps with us into the towering Husar blocking the path. No words. Just eyes making the girl lead her geese away from the path, away from what the Husar is guarding against unwanted onlookers. We're already hooked into the story on more than one level, and the cut to the duellists on the open field tells us where paradise ends. That's Ridley Scott in his purest form. The beauty of his style is in fact visual drama, and the power of his language is as visible now as it was in 1977. In 'Gladiator', watch the transition from Maximus's cornfild dream to the tortured earth of the battlefield in Germania and you'll see what I mean. That's why Scott is also an actor's director. He always makes sense to them and the characters with every move of the camera and sets them in the best possible light for what's required. He likes good actors, which isn't as normal as one might think. There isn't a hollow second to be found in each and every performance on The Duellists. That the casting is flawless down to the last extra helped, of course. All this explains much of the ageless quality of the movie. No hollow set pieces to 'jazz it up a bit'. Only authentic locations and no built sets. Costumes, makeup, props... everything totally convincing and fitting to the period. It's virtually impossible to determine the movie's age without knowing the actors. Scott turned an ageless story into an ageless movie. An excellent script and extremely good acting all round helped him do it.
For me The Duellists is the first of 3 consecutive masterpieces (the other two are, of course ALIEN and Blade Runner), unrivalled since John Huston's first 3 films.
10 out of 10 Ulrich Fehlauer
To Catch a Thief (1955)
The Unrepeatable Lightness Of Hitchcock
This movie will always be fated to linger in the shadows of the critics's as well as stern Hitch fan's appreciation. It gets constantly and unfavorably compared to established 50's masterpieces like The Birds, Vertigo and of course Rear Window.
Bad move, if I may say so.
If I remember rightly, it was Noel Coward who once called it 'Hitchcock Champagne', and I still think that's the best possible term to encapsulate it. It simply is of no use at all to compare it with the above mentioned, 'heavier' classics. TCAT is feather light, almost completely devoid of contents, full of style and done with such flick-of-the-wrist ease that it seems almost from another world of moviemaking - a world where the art of intelligent fun, subtle, crisp and perfectly taylored dialogue, a stunningly well performed casualty of the acting craft and a master's touch in holiday mood haven't died out, yet.
Don't get me wrong, I have no wish to push this movie into contention with all the 'superiour' classics. That would spoil the fun, for starters. But it's still THE prototype as well as masterpiece of its kind. It spawned a lot of copies, most notably Stanley Donen's successful attempts like 'Charade' or 'Caprice' or many elements of TV's criminally underrated Remington Steele series.
And it's a testament to how extremely difficult it must be to make it all look ever so easy, because no-one really reached the hights of this lightness after that.
The script is a wonderful exercise in light sophistication and the extinct art of what was known in the first half of the century as a 'well-made play'. (Terence Rattigan and Noel Coward having been the most prominent masters in that genre) So, it's no wonder that Grant and Kelly lap it up like the last water in a desert. The dialogue truly sparkles. And while we get pummeled day by day with always the same promotion interviews for yet another blockbuster from the drawing board, TCAT shows what it really means to watch masters of their craft having a good time on the highest level of skill. Yes, it's old-fashioned, and one shouldn't wish those times back artificially, but I'm ever so glad that each period has its own gems to offer..., gems never to lose their luster.
I'm pretty sure, Pierce Brosnan would be extremely flattered if one would compare some of his moments on screen with Cary Grant's style in TCAT. Some of the new pros haven't lost touch on what makes the old masters timeless.
Where Does The Heart Freeze Sooner? or: A Cybercar Named Desire
There is an interesting parallel between The Matrix and Avalon. The first is heavily based on Manga/Animee style, in visual dynamics much more than in pace as well as storytelling, the latter IS an Animee movie without the animations - in fact, Avalon is a VERY typical Oshii film in every other aspect going.
It's slow. It has to be. It either bores you stiff or chains you to a subtle, incredibly intense way of visual storytelling - takes you back to a time when the attention span as well as the will required to catch a drift - to hold a thought and work on it - lived longer than a few seconds.
On the surface, this movie is what one could call a cyberpunk poem. For that alone it already claims a unique position amongst whatever one might want to compare it to at first glance. A chillingly dark and detailed as well as beautifully crafted ballad of a heroine seeking much more than sense between realities and illusions. She seeks the home we all desperately try to cling to in belief for lack of knowledge.
As always in Oshii's movies, one has to be prepared to be drawn into the unsettling realm between suffocating rules of conduct and complete uncertainty to get at the tiny grain of hope hovering so painfully close to the wheels that try to grind you.
The dialogue doesn't tell us much. In fact, the more wordy the explanations get, the more they deflect us from what we see and feel. That's pretty much what Ash has to cope with as well to find the way to HER reality as well as illusion.
To call the acting understated, slow and painfully introverted would be an understatement in itself. To call it bad for that would be the most idiotic conclusion. Malgorzata Foremniak (Ash) is a true discovery. The intensity and sheer impact she can give to 'silence' alone makes her the ideal Oshii actress. There is no empty move, no hollow gesture, no shallow expression in her entire performance. Quite an accomplishment if one keeps in mind that Ash leads a depressingly empty, hollow as well as shallow life on the surface.
It's an equally depressing fact that this incredible Polish actress will stay in obscurity as far as the billion dollar mainstream movie world is concerned.
The cinematography and lighting by Grzegorz Kedzierski is nothing short of exquisite. So is Barbara Novak's production design. Budget-wise, this is a B-Movie, but they all turned that restriction into a virtue.
One last praise has to go to the composer as well as the musicians. The title track 'Avalon' alone, a grand piece for orchestra, choir and soprano, is nothing short of a masterpiece.
As I said, this movie is a poem. Take a quiet place, wind down from the hassle of your day and let yourself sink into illusions which might even show the occasional glint of YOUR reality.
* 10 out of 10
The Mists of Avalon (2001)
..., for once there was an opportunity to improve on a pretty mediocre novel bearing a wonderful idea, but alas... I had hoped that the TV adaptation would lose some of the insufferably preachy, politically correct and downright patronizing tone of the novel and cut down to the bone of the matter, but that's where the producer's bottle went, I suppose. Constantly one gets hit on the head with the moral mallet. The intriguing message - as well as the female principle of the legend - gets beaten to death by plump and downright clumsily executed direction. The acting is adequate, but surely nothing to write home about. A half-decent Xena episode has more spark to offer for the characters than this embarrassing execution from the drawing board. The visuals are as unimaginative as the incredibly stuffy and pretentious script. Hallmark's 'Merlin' hasn't got the more than just interesting perspective of this one, but it sure knows better how to tell a story. It still pains me, but MoA has absolutely nothing to carry it beyond a second worth of memory. No fire. No life. Just money. Pity.
Henry V (1989)
A Worthy Successor After 5 Decades
Let's get one thing straight: It was Olivier who finally cracked the concrete heads of film producers open and proved that it was possible to put the bard of bards on screen without even an American audience falling asleep after 10 minutes. Sure, after all this time his Henry looks ancient, pretentious and artificial, but so will Blade Runner after 50 years, and still both mark a watershed after which none could be done like anything before. Odd comparisons? Maybe. But fitting.
Branagh's Henry finally set a tone worth to succeed the initial awesome blast unleashed by the most powerful actor for generations, and I'm sure Branagh would be the last to deny Olivier's version the place it deserves in British movie history. Times were ripe for another tone - but times before had needed Olivier as much as the following ages will need Branagh.
I'm an obsessive fan of both versions - both for entirely different reasons - and both merging perfectly what I love most about Shakespeare's eternal works.
Branagh's film is timeless - of this time - without ever being trendy. Olivier's is timeless - as well as of its time - as long as we keep an understanding of its time.
Olivier praised the eternal flame, the eternal smell, of Shakesperean theater, as always reaching far beyond the confinds of its subject - beyond the confinds of the wooden circle of 'The Globe'.
Branagh went right for the jugular, without ever loosing grip on what makes this play a play beyond its subject, and THE play about that subject.
Has anyone considered the vital difference between Branagh's and Olivier's versions? I doubt it. Where Olivier conjured up the intoxicating smell of fresh 15th century glue from the sets rising into the audience's noses, come here straight from the bear fights, whore houses, sermons of zealots and whatever had to flee London's stern moral walls of those times, Branagh cut right to the bone of any hardened 'modern' movie goer.
Behold: Derek Jacoby's prologue is a piece of speech which will forever haunt, enchant and cover me in goosebumps - firing me up to see what comes as well as see what Olivier as well as Branagh had done with the only play ever to merge humanity's lust as well as dread for the subject of war.
Of course, Olivier's version couldn't even dream of matching the intimate intensity of Branagh's. But how could it?
Ok, I won't further dwell on it, but for the last time, consider the father to fully understand the son.
Now, having shed the overpowering shadows of the past, Derek Jacoby steps into the dark of the expecting stage - striking a match...,
"Oh, for the muse of fire..." ... and off we are, lured into the torrent of the bard's unique and eternal magic.
I consider Henry V the best of Branagh's Shakespeare adaptations, even though I wouldn't want to be with any of the others on pain of death. This one's flawless, perfectly cast, perfectly executed and perfectly acted by Branagh himself.
From Burbage to Garrick to Keane to Inving to Olivier to Branagh... it is a glorious lineage to follow in love and admiration for the bard of Bard's ambassadors.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
This is one of the best, and at the same time most underrated Moore Bonds. It's got just about every trademark going for a classic Bond yarn, and they're all ranking in at least the top third of valuations. A top notch villain in Curd Juergens - one of the VERY few able to emanate menace from a comfortable chair. A setting bound to leave indelible images - the Villain's (under-)water station alone makes this movie rank right up there with Blofeld's hollow volcano from YOLT. The introduction of the most memorable piece of 'muscle' during the entire Moore era: Jaws.... and the most evenly well written script since 'Thunderball'. This was Moore's TRUE entry into the world of Bond. As good as Live & Let Die was, TSWLM was the first decent follow-up to Goldfinger. Moore was now firmly settled into his own definition of Bond. It's of no use to compare him to Connery..., or you'll loose half the fun. Welcome to the 70's. This is the movie to carry them off with ease.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
I don't know which demon rode the producers, but they must have by-passed every going opportunity to come up with the best Moore Bond, yet - or even best Bond amongst the worst, which is still pretty good. There's a reason for my reasoning: Christopher Lee. To cast this constantly underrated actor was the ONLY stroke of genius to hit them. Pity that it didn't inspire them for something more worthy than MWAGG. So, in the end, Chistipher Lee had to struggle against the impossible odds of an abysmal script as well as ignorant producers. Until this day he remains the most wasted Bond villain of all time. And NOTHING is his fault. In fact, he is the only redeeming force that made me buy this DVD as well. The rest is just an exercise of going through the motions within the narrow parameters of a planned Bond movie. *sigh*
Live and Let Die (1973)
A Worthy Premiere For Roger Moore
I guess the fights will never stop about wether Roger Moore was a worthy successor to Sean Connery. Funny, though, because the solution is ever so simple: Moore's Bond was extremely different to Connery's. Why not take it as that and rate the Moore Bonds in their own class?
Ok, now that I've stated my position as a fan of both Bonds, we can proceed.
LALD is a truly worthy introduction of the new Bond. It is lighter, more ironic, rather than cynical, and it gives Roger Moore the opportunity to show what he's best at: Playing himself. That's far better than it may sound. Moore is taken like a duck to water. This is 'his' Bond - for better or for worse. I, for one, like him. He's got style, impeccable timing and a real presence - virtues not to be underestimated, if you please. LALD gives us a slick push into the 70's - into the Moore era. I didn't forget Connery's Bond - not even poor George Lazenby's - but I didn't begrudge Roger Moore his excellent introduction nonetheless.
And LALD has its unique merits as well. The 'Voodoo' atmosphere. Wonderful photography fitting the subject. A good script. And one of the best title songs ever, written and performed by Paul McCartney's Wings.
Ah... I admit it... I like the 'new' Bond. I still do..., even though I deem Pierce Brosnan's incarnation as good as the original... the REAL Bond: Sean Connery.
Roger Moore will still keep his place as the definitive 'light' Bond, and anyone thinking that's not much of an accomplishment - think again.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
The Worst Of The Best
DAF will always stick between the views of stern Connery/Bond fans as well as any other Bond fan. But one thing is clear: It's the one where Connery's showing his weakest performance until 1984, when he resurrected as well as updated 'his' Bond not only successfully but also brilliantly. DAF is also the most 'American' Bond movie until Dalton's second outing. It's apparent in every single scene that they didn't quite know where to stick to the original style or shift towards Hollywood images. But this still isn't a bad Bond movie - at least not as 'bad' as movies like 'Man With The Golden Colt' or the other 'American' Bond, License To Kill.
It's also the most cynical and ill-balanced Bond movie, shifting from traditional traits to pretty sick and TOO sexist 'jokes' - even for Bond.
But for fans..., and that's not to be underestimated, it still has its values.
And excellent title song. (No wonder, it's done by Shirly Bassey again) A decent main villain. (Charles Gray, this time on the wrong side of Bond.) Two memorable 'executors'. Who'll ever forget Mr Wint & Mr Kidd walking hand in hand? Two classic deadly weirdos, long before Hannibal Lecter claimed originality.
In a way this movie is my 'guilty Bond pleasure', cos it's still full of little aspects keeping me interested, even though I don't like the general outcome that much. Seen in broad daylight, though, it's the third worst of the lot.
The Lost Half-Bright Gem
It's time to make amends. Time to pay George Lazenbvy his dues. He was a good Bond. Not up there with Connery and Brosnan, but still a good Bond. That's a REAL accomplishment. In Connery's overpowering shadow, he had to come up trumps. From Dressman to actor in a flash. And he did it! That's somethinmg NO other Bond had to manage. Sure, he didn't win any acting prizes. Sure, he didn't wipe out our memories of what Bond was, but he *DID* hold his own against what was and what was to come after him. OHMSS is in fact a very good Bond movie. I'd rate it as a solid stand above Connery's YOLT & DAF, Moore's Golden Colt & Moonraker, as well as both Daltons, even though Dalton's the far better actor. Why? Simple. It's an excellent example for what a real Bond movie should be. I leave further considerations to the reader. Just this to send you on your way: Prepare for an unexpected pleasure.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Wear & Tear
Bond goes on his 5th mission and gets almost drowned by the enthusiasm Japan spills over the whole production. Japan's not to blame, though. Roald Dahl's script is... and Connery's fatigue. Dahl, one of the most formidable and skilled authors in prose, proves that he can't write screenplays, and Connery shows VERY understandable signs of slowly being worn down by the unbelievable Bond cult reaching levels of mass hysteria in Japan. Connery's a professional, so he does his job better than expected under the almost surreal circumstances constantly screaming at him 24/7. But his heart isn't in it anymore..., and it shows. I'm the last to blame him for that, and YOLT is still a must-see for a fan, but I can't help feeling a pinch of melancholy every time I re-watch it.
But there are redeeming factors. Chief amongst them is Donald Pleasance as the first full-view incarnation of Ernest Stavro Blofeld. His on-screen time is painfully short, but I'll always regret that he wasn't allowed to play Blofeld in whatever Bond movie was to follow. Sure, the scar as well as the dialogue was a bit tacky, but Pleasance pulled it off admirably. (no surprise, there, since I deem him one of the most underrated actors of his generation) In fact, he was the only aspect of YOLT even reaching the hights of Goldfinger's quality. Pity, Pleasance wasn't allowed to fully spread his evil wings.
In the end YOLT constitutes the slow descend of Connery's Bond era..., and the worst Bond of the 60's, since the even worse Diamonds Are Forever was released in 71.
Last Of The First
From Dr. No to Goldfinger there has been a steady development in the definition of what makes a good Bond movie as well as in sheer quality. This one's the first not surpassing the one before it, but it's still a deserved classic, sharing second rank with From Russia With Love amongst the original Connerys, but for very different reasons. It's a direct follow-up to Goldfinger in just about every aspect going - only that it's shifted mostly under water. Drawbacks: It hasn't got a similarly impressive main villain as Gert Froebe in Adolpho Celi. A memorable muscle-paladin like Odd-Job as well as a 'tough girl' like Ms Galore are missing completely. The movie's too much in love with its, surely expensive, underwater action and draws it much too long towards a comparatively lack-luster climax.
Merits: The script is well paced, crisp and all-in-all the last of the constantly well written ones during the Connery phase. (only Thunderball's remake Never Say Never constitutes the exception, since it's even better than the original and has to be rated differently.) Thunderball is the last of Connery's 100% Bond performances, before he began to loose interest in the part for about 18 years. Visually it's not only stunning for its time, but it also matches most of what's to come during the 70's. A true blueprint for the future and closest to the Moore Bonds, which doesn't constitute an improvement, but a different style to the more gritty early Connery Bonds. No match for what's to come when Pierce Brosnan took over as 'the other best Bond', though.
This Is The One
I'm almost reluctant to repeat what better suited film critics as well as fans have already stated, but there is no way around it: This is *THE* Bond movie to define and often even surpass whatever was to come during the next 38 years.
Enter one of the best Bond villains EVER - and definitely one of the most original: Gert Froebe (bless his soul) as Goldfinger, a full-blooded stage and movie actor of the highest caliber Europe ever had to offer, and one of the VERY few not minding - even longing - to play a part which was still considered below what a 'serious' actor should accept. In fact, even if you can't stand Bond movies, watch this one all the same - switch on your humour, sit back comfortably and enjoy the Bond villain prototype that never found his match.
Enter the Aston Martin DB4 - THE Bond car.
Enter Odd-Job - One of the most memorable evil paladins ever to support their even more evil master.
Enter Honor Blackman - THE tough female Bond adversary to define decades to come for what resulted in Michelle Yeoh's role in "Tomorrow Never Dies", as well as generations of rare but precious strong female roles on the 'tough' side of male-coded Hollywood. She had the most sexist name in movie history to bear (Pussy Galore), but still set a tone which couldn't be ignored anymore.
GOLDFINGER is the first 'complete' Bond movie. There isn't one to follow which has anything to offer beyond it - apart from technical development or changing moral codes.
The series is full of classics..., but this is THE classic.
From Russia with Love (1963)
From Under-estimation With Love
This is the one to be considered. This is the one squashed between the legendary start and the one considered the best of the best. This is the one between Dr. No & Goldfinger.
Still..., I'd consider FRWL one of the best all-time Bond movies. Some hardened fans might nod with approval now..., some might not, but that's neither here nor there. Filled to the brim with mostly unknown but top notch actors (at least in the US) to support Connery's now much more assured performance, it's a prime example of what's now considered 'normal' - accomplished 'serious' actors having a high quality ball and not just a bigger pay-check. The result: At least 3 new definitive Bond movie characters were invented. Robert Shaw as the first classic 'muscle' to the evil brain..., and one of the all-time best, too. Lotte Lenya as the unexpected but indelible image of the 'sick' & menacing paladin. Daniela Bianchi as the one woman to change sides and get the final snogging scene with Bond.... oh, and the one evil signature hand to stroke the cat... and stay from reach of mundane quibbles.
A less noticed aspect, is that this is one of the most violent Bond movies. The fight on the train with Robert Shaw is still the definitive full contact fight of the whole series. The helicopter chase is still THE blueprint for all fancy chases, since Hitchcock chased Cary Grant with a plane in North By Northwest.
FRWL is raw as well a stylish. It cuts to the chase... and proves the best possible setup for the best classic Bond movie ever: Goldfinger.
Dr. No (1962)
The One To Set The Tone - And Don't You Forget It
Even 40 years of movie-, let alone Bond-, history can't wipe this one out. It's neither the best nor the most complete installment of the series, but it's certainly worth more than a glance for everyone not bored by older movies on ignorant principle. One can EXACTLY pin-point when it's been made, just by looking at a few seconds, but mostly because it was the one that set the style for what we now call the 'typical 60's' action movie. No use to dwell on the contents. Others here have done that admirably already. No use to hit on the most essential trademarks set up here again. (apart from Q's appearance. That happens one movie later.) No use to state again that Connery defined not only THE Bond of all Bonds, but also the blueprint for a whole avalanche of similar characters in the near and far future. But it's of VERY good use to remind us all - no matter which way our tastes did head - that this is the one to really start with if one is in the mood to trail the most famous track towards a unique cultural myth within almost every society with at least one movie theater.
Many here have dwelt on how superiour later installments have been.
Maybe... But none of them would've even come close to their quality if it hadn't been for this one. Relax..., forget 'sensible' considerations... sit back into your favourite chair, and relish the spark that lit at least 4 decades to come. It's fun. It was and still is original.... and it's actually a pretty well done movie on a budget of one million $ and a book with only half-baked ideas of what was to become a whole idea.
Oh..., and another thing. It's leaving one either fed up of the whole idea... or eternally hungry for more Bond... James Bond.
an un-ashamed fan Schogger13
Band of Brothers (2001)
Band Of Allies
Don't be fooled by any false voices from Germany. Most of us WERE Nazis during the war. Most of us DID support the system. 'Band Of Brothers' IS an honest account of what was to be found on the western front. And it was only a weak shadow of what would've been found on the Eastern Front. Never forget. NEVER forget. Don't be fooled. Worse is to come if you do. Watch 'Band Of Brothers'.
reluctantly German Schogger13
The Big One (1992)
This doesn't mean that it's a 'must' for everyone. But it means that it's a rare gem for fans of British comedy.
No masterpiece, surely, but still a little, solid message of comedy from the more subtle sides of mirth. Ian McShane and Sandi Toksvig add shine to a wonderful, but nonetheless fairly routine script. Routine for British TV, that is. There is a certain twist to things which only the Brits can manage. It's nothing to write home about, when you're set on universal values of entertainment, but it's all but bloody genius when you're in love with the 'British Way' of seeing things. Relish the more subtle ways of comedy. Relish 'The Big One'.