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Alexis Zorbas (1964)
A Greek Poem Of Love And Frienship
Anthony Quinn's Zorba became a point of reference, in fact I'm writing this review 54 years after its first release. He is everything and more. Alan Bates is outstanding walking that very thin line but totally committed to that duality that makes him so human, so real. Lila Kedrova won an Oscar for her performance, deservedly so. Simone Signoret had been offered the part and she was the one who suggested Lila Kedrova to the director, Michael Cacoyanis. I love that story. Zorba has also the power of Irene Papas who makes her silent calling absolutely riveting and the contagious Mikis Theodorakis's score all together in a beautiful, savage, compelling film that doesn't show any signs of aging
The Men Who Stare at Goats (2009)
Cinema Of The Absurd
Smart and funny, absurd and a bit self-conscious but as soon as I had time to think, I thought. The cast is fun but reeks of pre-sales needs. The names in the cast propels you to expectation that are going to let you down no matter how you put it. George Clooney is great fun but try, just try to imagine a great actor you never heard of in that part. I couldn't separate the character from the actor not for a second. So I saw Clooney being funny and that does something to the film that keeps its real intentions at arms length because the star-actor gets in the way. I have a feeling however that time will be kind to this film. Audiences will be able to see it again in years to come with more objectivity and appreciate it much more.
Brutal, languid and dark
Christian Bale's character is the Army captain who hates Native Americans. He's the one who is put in charge of escorting a Cheyenne chief, played by West Study to their reservation in Montana. Well I bet you already know how is going to end, don't you? Beautiful landscapes when we can see them. The night scenes are irritatingly dark and they are many. The plight of Rosamund Pike's character - who loses her entire family in a harrowing opening scene - kept me going. She is strong and powerful but Christian Bale gives a performance that is just that, a performance. I like him as an actor when he's good. Brilliant in The Fighter, terrific in American Psycho but embarrassing in Exodus: Gods And King as Moses. Here I needed to believe in those flashes of empathy he seems to insinuate but I didn't. I was too aware of him, the actor. I don't know if I can I explain it but if you look at him walk away at the end of the movie, you'll know exactly what I mean. As far as I'm concerned not an ounce of real emotion. Naturally, I would recommend for you to check it out yourself, I'm often quite alone in my opinions.
I, Tonya (2017)
I was going to make a list of people who made extraordinary things during the same period that Tonya Harding monopolized the headlines but then I thought it was a pointless exercise. Charles Manson will always be more famous, much more than Sharon Tate. That's the world we live in or maybe it always was. The sadness verging on horror of of the Tonya Harding story will win, fascination wise, than any kind of kindness from anyone anywhere. Now that out of my system let me say that I Tonya is an entertaining harrowing tale directed by Craig Gillespie and his extraordinary cinematographer Nicholas Karakatsanis with, clearly, Martin Scorsese in their minds and hearts. Margot Robbie is terrific and Sebastian Stan as the husband from hell, superb but it's Allison Janney that creates a character that is impossible to take and irresistible at the same time. She is spectacular. So, that's more than enough to recommend I Tonya but if the Tabloid Times is something you subscribe I will highly recommend Gus Van Sant's To Die For and Michael Ritchie's made for television The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom.
What Ever Happened To Original Ideas?
It's just depressing for a movie lover like me to see a film like Joel Schumacher's 1990 Flatliners remade. Why? Can anyone come out with something we haven't seen before or at least from a fresh new POV. Somebody told me that my reaction is "generational" - I fear that's true. It makes me feel really old. I almost walked out of Mother!, the other day - something I've never done - because I felt treated like a moron. To steal from Robert Polanski to do what, what? Here is even worse. They're stealing from Joel Schumacher without having any of the...what was it that the 1990 had that this one hasn't? Well let's say that the first one wasn't a remake. Where are the mavericks? The new ones. The ones I love are in their 70's or gone. I do apologize I'm just venting my frustration. Thank you for indulging me.
The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
Our Daily Escape
The only Woody Allen that I hadn't seen. I was waiting for the opportunity to see it on a proper screen in a proper movie theater, with other people you know, like in the previous century. At the end I was convinced to see it in a friend's living room but in one of those super duper mega wide TV screens. What a delight! A movie about the love of something not quite real but that it becomes the more real thing in our lives. The transportation that Mia Farrow goes through while sitting in the movie theater brought tears to my eyes - my friend turned to me in disbelief "Are you weeping? He asked. Well yes, I was. I can't explain it. Have you seen the movie? Sometimes I felt I wanted to sit next to Mia Farrow in see the movie she's watching all the way through. Why not, Jeff Daniels, Mia Farrow, John Wood, Zoe Caldwell, Van Johnson, please! It's so much better in here than out here. You can bet I will see this again. Top notch.
Apartment Zero (1988)
Where Have You Been All My Life
I vaunt myself of being a "connoisseur" and people always say I've seen everything. Well I hadn't seen "Apartment Zero" now I've seen it 3 times in less than a week. I need to talk about it but I don't know where to start. Colin Firth, that's a perfect place where to start - He made this film in 1988! but, wow! Some of Jack Nance in "Eraserhead" and some of Roman Polansk himself in "Le Locataire" and at the same time a total original. A performance that is beautiful and courageous. And how is it possible that I hadn't seen this, did it have a theatrical distribution? Yes it did and in the United States it made 1.6 million (according to trade reports) but it also was in dozens of lists as one of the 10 best movies of its year. But since then, nothing. It's never on TV or anywhere else. The DVD contains a rich interview between David Koepp (co-writer) and Steven Soderbergh and a commentary by the director Martin Donovan that is as unique as his movie. A vintage must!
An Ending To Cherish
Superb. The dream, the wish, the thought. Sitting at a table face to face to say, I'm sorry. Thank you to Ryan Murphy and everyone concerned. Jessica Lange gives a performance that will live for ever, so does Susan Sarandon, in the last episode, her Bette Davis is there, totally, absolutely, chillingly there. What a thrill! Jessica Lange has five or six moments that I think will remain as "acting" landmarks. Alfred Molina's Robert Aldrich, devastating, brilliant! And Jack Warner's Stanley Tucci, a repellent delight. Fabulous eight episodes, eight! Enough to keep us wishing for more.
Mommie Dearest (1981)
There is another Joan in town
Wow! Have you seen Feud? Where Jessica Lange plays Joan Crawford and gives her all the humanity in all its infuriating contradictions. It made me see What Ever Happened To Baby Jane - it was like watching it for the first time, after "Feud" - and now "Mommie Dearest" - Oh dear, Oh dear - It's not that Faye Dunaway is not very entertaining, she is, but her Joan is a one note, maybe one note and a half, a caricature trying to be taken seriously. Was that the intention or was it an accident? Faye Dunaway, in a lengthy interview/tribute with Ben Mankiewicz at the TCM Film Festival, didn't mention Mommie Dearest once, nor Mr. Mankiewicz asked her about it. Was it a demand from the star, not to touch the subject? - That sounds so Crawford. Mommie Dearest, the film is like an amateur movie made by professionals. On the other hand I recommend you to check Jessica Lange's Joan Crawford in "Feud"
Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Darling! Moses is on the phone....
What, in God's name, was this? Everything reeks of commercial operation without any real thought behind it. Of all the puzzling elements in this bizarre epic, the most inexplicable is Christian Bale as Moses. Not the choice of Christian Bale - commercial operation, remember - no, that I understand, what's inexplicable is his performance. We know now Christian Bale is a great actor. Great. The Fighter alone puts him right up there with some of the best of his generation so why then he's so bad, but so bad here. His Moses is absent. Not a moment of truth, not a moment of real connection. Was he a hostage, performing against his will? That's what I felt, that he didn't want to be there and that alone made me watch the whole film with disdain. What a disheartening experience. I give it a 2 and not a 1 out of respect for the crew, because their work is real and present on the screen.
Feud or Baby Jane's Next Chapter
I'm so engrossed in the Ryan Murphy's series "Feud" that watching again "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane" was unavoidable. "Feud" works on so many levels and the performances are so spot on that I suspect What Ever Happened To Baby Jane will have another life and in this new reincarnation it will teach us something important about Hollywood, about acting, about fame and about the fragility of the human mind. All this in great part due to "Feud" Jessica Lange's performance as Joan Crawford is already, for me, in a pantheon of its own. There is not a moment in which the illusion falters and this is more true episode after episode. Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis is also superb but her character is the more educated, stronger. A Yankee. So she provokes a very different kind of emotion. To all fans of the actresses and of Baby Jane you can't afford to miss "Feud" and, please, give it a couple of episodes to adjust but once you get to the third episode "Mommie Dearest" you'll be hooked in the greatest possible way. Enjoy.
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Almost French Slice Of Americana
I wasn't surprise to find out that Francois Truffaut and Jean Luc Godard had been seriously considered to helm the tragic tale of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. Fortunately Arthur Penn took over. I say fortunately, not because I think any less of Truffaut or Godard but I'm sure nobody could have made this glorious American classic but Arthur Penn. Somehow there is an air of Frenchness permeating every frame even if Bonnie and Clyde is profoundly American. For a foreigner, like me, America has always been a Country to admire even if puzzling. Guns and Bibles. Violence with a poetic aura that it's as startling as it is disturbing. Warren Beatty is superb as Clyde - the real life character was homosexual but for the film he is impotent - more acceptable? Amazing to think of it now. Faye Dunaway became an icon, deservedly so. Gene Hackman, the extraordinary Estelle Parsons, Michael J Pollard and even Gene Wilder complete the cast of this extraordinary American film.
Allison Janney is a genius
Allison Janney made me do something I had never done before. To be devotedly attached to a sit-com. She has created a character in Mom that it's bloody irresistible. An awful mother that it's impossible not to love. That's only achievable if the actress playing her is a genius. Anna Faris playing her daughter is a total find for me. Wonderful and a perfect foil for Allison Janney who reminds me of some of my favorites from the past, Kay Kendall, Eve Arden, Mary Astor, Joyce Grenfell and at the same time, she's like nobody else. She had only one moment in Primary Colors but she's memorable and has an entrance in The Hours that took my breath away. I want to see her in a movie that showcases her extraordinary talents to the fullest. Is that too much to ask?