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The Poseidon Adventure (2005)
No treasure on this sunken ship
A clarification: Another commenter seems concerned that people should not be allowed to comment on how the film compares to the original. Let me make this clear: This telemovie is dreadful on it's own terms. Some might find it regrettable that it associates itself with the earlier '70's movie, but it is poorly executed regardless of that fact. Still there is nothing wrong with drawing legitimate comparisons for the purpose of highlighting some of the many weaknesses in this new version. I also wonder whether those who rated this movie as 10 stars honestly believe that it deserves such a rating, and if so, what kind of rating they would give to a even a reasonably well-regarded film let alone the truly great films.
I saw the original Poseidon Adventure as a 12 year old, so I am conscious of the fact that there may well be young kids out there today who will see this with fresh young eyes and enjoy it, perhaps even as much as I did the original.
Having said that, this TV movie sunk to new depths of "bad", perhaps even plunging to "evil", in some respects.
One of the more amusing goofs in this TV movie is that most of the cast still had their eventual fate clearly written on their foreheads with magic markers ("dies early", "dies mid-way", or "saved") during many of the early scenes! OK, I exaggerated slightly - their fates weren't literally visible, but it's generally easy to see who will live and who must ultimately die to keep the "drama" from flat-lining.
On the positive side, the change of plot to incorporate a terrorist attack as the cause of the disaster is in some ways more plausible than the original "Tsunami at sea", and the CGI special effects are generally obvious but passable, especially considering it's a TV movie.
Major weaknesses involve the dialogue and the none-too-subtle way in which the survivors all turn out to be "good" (or at least clearly repentant) white folk.
There are far too many long-winded, schmaltzy speeches at points where the pace should be frantic from both a logical (within the plot) and a dramatic point of view. A classic example is when the ship is just minutes from sinking, and the survivors are crossing a makeshift bridge, one by one, interspersed by obligatory pep-talks, expressions of love, etc... and the would be rescuers radio in "It's taking too long! What's the hold-up?" (eerily echoing the viewer's thoughts precisely).
Alec Baldwin, the Sea Marshal character, should have replied "there's too much talk, not enough action", but instead, he somehow manages to calculate the load-bearing capacity of this makeshift bridge and says "this looks like it will take two at a time". Not wanting to give too much away, I'll just note that he may have been correct in theory, but perhaps didn't take into account the extra "weight" of the sins being carried by certain people. The "fire of hell" burning below at the time was perhaps a missed hint.
At the end, after the cheers go up at HQ with the news that there are about nine survivors (out of the thousand plus passengers and crew)...the one person with a bit of perspective in the room sums up the entire show with the very last line:
" This isn't a miracle... it's a bloody mess".
17 rue Bleue (2001)
Dark Grey plot outline hides a treasure of a film
I loved this film, after almost choosing not to watch it after reading the summary in the TV guide. It sounds like a fairly bleak story of a family in crisis. And there's no denying the bleak elements. When I looked up 17 Rue Bleue on IMDb, I was a little disappointed, but not really surprised, to see generally moderate ratings from only a handful of viewers -- and no written reviews. Understandably it is not a film that will necessarily appeal to the "masses". It features a gritty realism, and it shuns spectacular events and fantastic, uplifting resolutions. But it contains such great honesty, real warmth, and an enduring sense of hope for the future that I can strongly recommend it to anyone prepared for something that explores the inner core of family bonds and the extremes of reaction to grief and loss. Central to my admiration for this film were the outstanding performances by Lysiane Meis as the mother, and Abdel Halis and Aimen Ben Ahmed as her adolescent sons.
Director Chad Chenouga (portrayed by Abdel Halis in the film) must be congratulated for telling the story of his mother in such a finely balanced way. There is abundant warmth, but no sugar-coating of the hell-hole of his youth. Meis' performance as Adda (his mother) is truly superb -- heartbreaking in it's own right, but also in the sense that it has perhaps gone essentially unseen and unrecognized (if IMDb is any guide) as comparable to the achievements of any great actress in any film in the past five years. That's a big claim for someone who watches as many films as I do from all over the world, but this is a role that takes Lysiane from doting, loving mother to guilt-ridden sibling to drug-induced delusional behaviour to desperation and depression (without giving away the why's and wherefores of the plot)... and she handles it all with great authenticity. Similarly, the rivalry and the fights between the boys is nothing short of brilliant. Credit to the actors and the director for bringing the perspective of young teens literally kicking and screaming into such vivid focus! Perhaps only those of us who had older brothers and mothers dealing with the loss of a partner can fully appreciate the richness of this film, but I hope (and really believe) that the hidden message in the palm of Chad's (the older brother's) hand can be appreciated by a much wider audience. Who knows who reads IMDb reviews of non-mainstream, non-US movies... but I just had to share my thoughts on this gem. Thanks!
Ich Chef, Du Turnschuh (1998)
Reveals some dark truths with a light-hearted, occasionally heavy-handed approach.
Technically, the film has plenty to sneer at, if that's what you like to focus on. But the story, even with it's own weaknesses, is engaging, with various twists and some quite moving and thought-provoking situations.
This wasn't a laugh-out-loud comedy for me, but there were some very funny situations and an overall adventurous spirit to the film that were quite rewarding.
The issues raised in the film are particularly pressing ones today - but as the film itself portrays, there will be some who simply would not be interested in dealing with such issues, or such people. But the film is so accessible, that for everyone else, there are plenty of touching or funny moments. It would be a pity to miss the opportunity of reflecting on the deeper messages and issues by focusing on the superficial imperfections of the film, which in some ways, actually add to the overall atmosphere of the film. They reflect the sense of doing the best with what you can muster.
The end product, I believe, is certainly worth watching. Actually, with the rather abrupt ending, it would be fascinating to see a sequel...
El lado oscuro del corazón 2 (2001)
Better than some of the "top 250" films
I make this claim primarily to register some discussion and interest! Now I understand why the world is in such chaos: Thousands of people apparently see and vote for "pop" movies based on simplistic themes of "good" vs "evil" or "baddies are actually quite likeable once you know the whole sorry saga of the family history" (not mentioning any names). Such movies may well be great in their own way, but it seems a pity that so few people have seen and been moved by such magical films as "El Lado Oscuro del Corazon" (and this sequel), that deal with the real stuff of life in such creative and thought-provoking ways. Of course, IMDb is just about people's opinions, and I have no right to "insist" that this belongs higher up the rankings, etc., etc. True, but I can still pursue the dream that films about the little secrets of living with time, and death, and each other, will gradually touch more and more people.
It was a long time for me between seeing the original and the sequel, but generally I felt that No 2 couldn't really maintain the levels of originality, wit and involvement that "El Lado Oscuro del Corazon" delivered. Ariadna Gil, however, is stunning - in terms of performance as well as presence, which makes the somewhat drawn-out later parts of the film quite bearable and forgivable. I suspect that different people may find the ending not entirely satisfying, but - without wanting to add any spoiler, I think it was a fine resolution.
Why "War on Terror" is an impossible contradiction
A lesson still sadly unlearned by today's great "Empire" - this film builds perfectly to show that war IS terror. In 1915, as today, it is not the ruling elites that ultimately face that terror, but everyday people full of precious dreams and yet-to-be-fulfilled promise. "Gallipoli" follows the adventure of two Australian mates fighting for the British Empire in a badly-managed attack in Turkey during WW1. The deckchairs have been somewhat rearranged these days, but the message is as relevant, as chilling and as powerful as ever. A true classic.
A film for the '80's
Admittedly this film was well timed and placed, and captured an audience hungry for depth, quality and substance in the midst of the "greed is good" 1980's. What it delivered, though, was essentially a story about life (and death) in the "greed is good" 1780's. The shallowness of Mozart's "live fast, die young" story sinks in as the novelty of the historical setting wears off.
Storm Boy (1976)
Perfect exploration of a child connecting to the world
There are so few opportunities these days for children to feel connected to their natural surroundings. The magically natural setting for "Storm Boy" lifts the soul and heightens the emotional responses to the issues of growing up, connecting, letting go. This film is an absolute treasure chest of discovery for children and former children alike.
Singin' in the Rain (1952)
The title song is catchy, and it's doubtless interesting for younger viewers (those under 65) to see why this guy was so happy that he'd get all wet and yet remain in high spirits. The whole thing is so clearly fake that the most impressive thing in that scene (apart from the cunning decision not to use cardboard for the lamp-posts) is the wonderful drainage on the set.
Hmmm... you write a tongue-in-cheek review with a sarcastic title, and now the reviews are of course reviewed... well, fair enough, this is not a "useful" review, as determined by fans of the film that have been willing to trawl through and rate the 200 or so comments... but for the average Joe who will probably never make it through to the last pages of the reviews anyway, feel free to make up your own mind -- if you're planning to direct or star in your own musical, it may be compulsory viewing -- there's no denying it is a classic that captured the hearts of a generation or two.