Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Pain & Gain

Movie Review #734

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Directed by Michael Bay. Screenplay by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. (Based on the magazine articles by Pete Collins.) Produced by Michael Bay, Ian Bryce, and Donald De Line for De Line Pictures, presented by Paramount Pictures. Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Michael Rispoli, Keili Lefkovitz, Emily Rutherfurd, Vivi Pineda, Yolanthe Cabau, Brian Stepanek, Persi Caputo, and Bill Kelly. Credited cameos: Nicholas X. Parsons, Trudie Petersen, Mike Tremont, Sabrina Mayfield, Chaz Mena, William Erfurth, Rey Hernandez, and Jerry Lantigua. Premiered in Miami, Florida on April 11, 2013. Distributed by Paramount Pictures in wide release on April 26, 2013. Rated R: bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use. Runs 129 minutes.

Cinemaniac Reviews two stars

I’ll give the story in simplest terms. This movie is about a trio of bodybuilders. Not just any bodybuilders, but the kind that believes bodybuilding is patriotic. And they get involved with kidnapping, murder, and extortion. With its outrageous story and characters, “Pain & Gain” could have been colossally entertaining. With its inspiration from several crime comedies, it could’ve been a hysterical black comedy. Without an actual director, however, the results are only mildly entertaining, and everything feels stupid and derivative. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have made one terrible mistake here, and that was in selling their script to the wrong producers. The wrongest of whom is Michael Bay, the so-called director of this movie.

Bay retains all the substance in “Pain & Gain”, and it’s a huge relief that he does at least that, because he takes a mighty hard dump on the style. It’s pretty sad when the coolest thing we see in the film is slow motion. Especially when a song as awesome as Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” is on the soundtrack…yeah, talk about misusing great rock music. “Pain & Gain” should be an outrageous, daring, and tasteful crime movie. The director himself called it a cross between “Pulp Fiction” and “Fargo”. Those being two of very few films that I have cited as my very favorite film (and I still cite the former). “Pulp Fiction” paid an (almost) humorous homage in “Pain & Gain”, in a specific scene that includes a) an accidental murder, b) the cleanup of that accidental murder, and c) a loony woman in a drug-induced coma.

That’s not all the comparisons to great crime flicks of the ’90s, though. Cited on the Blu-ray jacket is Kyle Smith (critic for New York Post), who refers to the movie as “‘Goodfellas’ on steroids.” Well, yeah, but let’s face it, Martin Scorsese is the only man on this planet who could’ve (and did) make a masterpiece out of “Goodfellas”. It’s no wonder “Pain & Gain” is a copycat bore. See, there’s the script, which is excellent, and then there’s the complete movie, which just isn’t. Wherever the aforementioned masterpieces are wild and audacious, “Pain & Gain” feels like a juvenile, ludicrous bloodbath. The results amount to barely a thing more than a loud, contrived movie, with a cast of characters who bask in the glory of working out, dropping F-bombs, snorting coke, and killing people.

Postscript: Apparently, “Pain & Gain” is based on a true story. I doubt it’s as convoluted as they’ve made it seem.

PAIN & GAIN IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.

Veronica Mars

Movie Review #729

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Directed by Rob Thomas. Screenplay by Rob Thomas & Diane Ruggiero. (Story: Rob Thomas. Characters: Rob Thomas.) Produced by Dan Etheridge, Danielle Stokdyk, and Rob Thomas, for Spondoolie Productions and Rob Thomas Productions, presented by Warner Bros. Digital. Starring Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring, Chris Lowell, Percy Daggs III, Tina Majorino, Krysten Ritter, Enrico Colantoni, Andrea Estella, Ken Marino, Francis Capra, Ryan Hansen, Daran Norris, Max Greenfield, Jerry O’Connell, Duane Daniels, Amanda Noret, Christine Lakin, and Lisa Thornhill. Credited cameo: Jamie Lee Curtis. Uncredited cameo: James Franco. Premiered at South by Southwest Film Festival on March 8, 2014. Special screenings in Mexico City, Stockholm, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney on March 13 and 14, 2014. Distributed by Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. Digital Distribution in wide release on March 14, 2014. Rated PG-13: sexuality including references, drug content, violence and some strong language. Runs 107 minutes.

Cinemaniac Reviews two and a half stars

Veronica Mars lives in the fictional town of Neptune, California.  She claims it’s not just a place where movie stars go and hang out, but then again, her colleagues exchange stories about Brad Pitt, and she can contact James Franco pretty easily.  Anyway, she’s retired from her life as a sleuth for a whole nine years.  This matches the seven years that separate the third season of the neo-noir TV series Veronica Mars from the film adaptation/followup of the same name.

All I really know of the story is what Kristen Bell and company presented in this year’s version.  I know that the three seasons of TV’s Veronica Mars (2004-2007) featured the titular heroine as a teenage sleuth, and I know that Veronica’s father became a private investigator after he lost his job as the sheriff in the beginning of the series.  I also know that Veronica herself is a private eye, and that she began by helping out her father on his private investigations.  But I don’t really “get it.”  I don’t understand half of the back story in the movie, because the script chooses to give brief, shallow explanations of what happened throughout the course of the TV series. “Veronica Mars” is for fans of the character, and maybe only those fans. Those who hold little familiarity with the series will find the setup rather confusing.

Though the characters are rather interesting, and interesting enough to make me curious about the original series. The story, as well, possesses quite some intrigue. This is a neo-noir, but it’s an unusual one with a genuinely quirky screenplay. The search for the man or woman who murdered a certain celebrity (who Veronica knows from high school) is told with style and charisma from director Rob Thomas, who also co-writes, produces, and created the TV series. Editing and cinematography are worth their mention, too; they’re just about top-notch.

If only that story was told more pointedly, this would be a much more gripping movie. “Veronica Mars” suffers from movie ADHD, and eventually, it’s created enough subplots that it’s not longer a movie; it’s just a reincarnated season of the TV show, minimized to two hours. I’m getting the sense that the TV series was a cult phenomenon in its time, and that this movie version is the final execution of a plan held since its cancellation: to bring back Veronica’s character. Apparently that was basically all they wanted in this movie. Even with great performances from Kristen Bell and Krysten Ritter, plus everything else I’ve commended the film for, the newfangled, 2014 “Veronica Mars” feels like less than enough.

VERONICA MARS IS IN THEATERS. IT IS ALSO AVAILABLE THROUGH VIDEO ON DEMAND SERVICES.

Need for Speed

Movie Review #726

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Directed by Scott Waugh. Screenplay by George Gatins. (Story: George Gatins & John Gatins.) Produced by John Gatins, Patrick O’Brien, and Mark Sourian for Electronic Arts and Bandito Brothers, presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment. Starring Aaron Paul, Dominic Cooper, and Imogen Poots. Uncredited cameo: Mary Ellen Itson. Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures and Touchstone Pictures in wide release on March 14, 2014. Rated PG-13: sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language. Runs 130 minutes.

Cinemaniac Reviews one star

Apparently Aaron Paul isn’t quite done breaking bad. He’s done with the hit AMC series, and now he’s broken bad as the starring actor in “Need for Speed”. What I mean by this is “Need for Speed” is bad. It’s downright and outrageously bad. It’s awful. Terrible. Insultingly, childishly written, and I bet you all a million–no, make that a billion dollars that a nine-year-old wrote the screenplay. Even if you discount the eye-roller scenes where a co-racer strips nude in his office building just to ensure he’s lost his job for good, or when Paul and his girlfriend-to-be are pretty much fighting to the death over whose eyes are bluer, the movie is juvenile, formulaic, and excruciating to watch.

“Need for Speed” is one of those movies that has two purposes: to show off those cars and to show off them women. It’s rather jaw-dropping that it actually fails in both these aspects. I mean, come on, failing under that sort of ambition is akin to a couch potato aiming to take a walk halfway down the street and back, and consequentially not being able to get off the couch. The “Are you kidding me?” reaction is pretty much the same here. The cars, first and foremost, are CGI. C. G. I. Computer generated imagery. Yeah, um, okay…see, I kind of thought I was going to the movies and watch some street racing, you know, as in actual, realistic-looking motor vehicles, in competition to see which one can go fastest. It’s even worse that when these guys are going 234 mph, it hardly looks like 117. When they’re going 53, it looks suspiciously like 106. And all this is muddled by dizzying camerawork, which is so bad that I almost doubt it was meant to excite.

Then there’s the women. Or, woman. There’s only one woman in the whole movie that had a speaking role, anyway, which is entirely sexist. She’s the leading woman, thank god, but she can’t act at all. Clearly, though, it’s more about beauty than talent for director Scott Waugh. Which makes me wonder, why didn’t he just cast a model?

Speaking of the dying female race that exists in the movie, how is it that this woman has absolutely no idea what the hell Paul could mean by “900 horsepower,” but she can identify the engine in automobile jargon that I completely fail to understand? That’s pretty sad character development, but you know, there isn’t a single character in “Need for Speed” who is remotely compelling. Therefore it’s a pretty boring more-than-two hours, and dear mother of god, do I feel sorry for Aaron Paul, who gives the one half-decent performance in sight.

I’d say that only the feat of a genius could explain why I didn’t totally tune this movie out, but then again, writer George Gatins and Scott Waugh are not geniuses. As their abominable execution of “Need for Speed” has made clear, they’re idiots. (And I intend no offense unto them.) The best of what this schlock offers is questions for the viewer to answer, and I do have several questions about the movie. First of all, how can a movie with such awesome sound mixing be awful, to the point at which we don’t really care how good the sound mixing is? Why does this screenwriter feel the need…the need for stupid, stupid, stupid claps of dialogue (i.e. “I’m here to make peace…and money”)? Why do they think they can remake “Bullitt” and take a video game as source material? Have they even seen “Bullitt”, let alone heard of it? I mean, they are making a car movie. The least they could do is watch a great movie with the greatest car chase ever produced. And who performed those covers of “Back in the Saddle” and “All Along the Watchtower”? ‘Cause whoever they are, they suck. Do we really need product placement in a movie this loathsome? Does a bear [BLEEP] in the woods? Why do movies insist on wasting valuable 3-D technology on showing us trash bags flying way the hell up in the air toward the camera, rather than giving us some impressive shots of, I don’t know, that Ford Mustang? Why was this aspect so obvious when I watched “Need for Speed” in 2-D?

And why did I watch it in 2-D? Why did I put myself through “Need for Speed” at all? The movie has very little to offer in terms of, well, a movie. It’s a video game, except the controller, much alike our interest, is disconnected.

Tomorrow’s Review

TBD

NEED FOR SPEED IS IN THEATERS.

GoldenEye

PREFACE

You may or may not have noticed, but I have been doing a Reverse Bondathon. I’ve done this before, yes, but what can I say? It brings the family together. And the first Bondathon ended a matter of days before the creation of my beautiful blog, plus it wasn’t in reverse order, just randomized. Anyway, my goal is to watch and review every single Bond movie (EON-produced, though I’ll probably watch the two unofficial releases, “Never Say Never Again” and 1967’s “Casino Royale” just for the halibut). I started with “Skyfall”, and although I’d considered it, I didn’t bother reviewing it again, since I’d already reviewed its theatrical release. I’ve also skipped over “Tomorrow Never Dies”, unfortunately. I underestimated how tired I was the night I watched that one, and I ultimately fell asleep about forty-five minutes through. I did fill about half a page of notes, but I never thought to save them. If you were looking forward to my review of that film, as I assume you do for my reviews on any film, all I can say is that my notes were mixed-to-positive, so I might’ve recommended it, had I finished the movie.

Movie Review No. 719

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Made by Eon Productions

United Artists

Distributor: MGM/UA Distribution Company – United Artists – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Country: UK – USA
Spoken Languages: English – Russian – Spanish

Directed by Martin Campbell. Produced by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Characters by Ian Fleming. Story by Michael France. Screenplay by Jeffrey Caine and Bruce Feirstein.

Rated PG-13 by the MPAA – frequent violence; infrequent sexual material. Runs 2 hours, 10 minutes. Premiered in New York City, New York on November 13, 1995. Wide release in the USA on November 17, 1995; and in the UK on November 24, 1995.

Featuring Pierce Brosnan as James Bond (007), Sean Bean as Alec Trevelyan (Bond villain), and Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp (Bond girl). Starring Izabella Scorupco, Joe Don Baker, Judi Dench, Robbie Coltrane, Gottfried John, Alan Cumming, Tcheky Karyo, Desmond Llewelyn, and Samantha Bond. Also starring Michael Kitchen, Serena Gordon, Billy J. Mitchell, Minnie Driver, and Michelle Arthur. Featuring credited cameo appearances by Simon Kunz, Pavel Douglas, Cmdt. Olivier Lajous, Constantine Gregory, Ravil Isyanov, Vladimir Milanovich, Trevor Byfield, and Peter Majer; and uncredited cameo appearances by Martin Campbell, Bhasker Patel, Michael G. Wilson, Simon Crane, Derek Lyons, Paul Bannon, Terrance Denville, Max Faulkner, Juliet Forester, Jo Anna Lee, Wayne Michaels, and Paul Sacks.

Cinemaniac Reviews three stars

Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. The sounds of “GoldenEye” setting up, progressing, peaking, and signing off. And there’s so much energy exerted in doing so that it can’t spare a moment to reload at the very end. Everything is a step further into excitement. Aerial shots bookmark the opening scenes. Loud, fun action throughout the rest. It’s almost incredible, but then again, it’s not.

This addition into the Bondology is directed by Martin Campbell. Obviously the director that should be doing all the directing in this series, after “GoldenEye” and “Casino Royale”. But this isn’t “Casino Royale”. That was a good movie made even better by his command. “GoldenEye” is a movie that could have greatly suffered without the right director. Yes, it’s fun, but that’s Mr. Campbell’s invisible appearance. Where it falters heavily is in the script, especially after the midway point. We could really do without Alan Cumming cheering, “I am invincible!”, especially when it loses any comic relief it might’ve had initially. And are we supposed to use this line to explain the fact that he survived a catastrophic event, at one point in the movie, that everybody thought he died in? That’s not irony. That’s cheating.

By the time we reach the last fifteen minutes of utter repetition, the only thing to give this movie solidity is the action. Yes, Mr. Chris Corbould, Mr. Derek Meddings, and Mr. Brian Smithies, you may stand and take a bow for your work on the special effects. And you too, Mr. Campbell, though I guess it’s too late to suggest cutting out and adding in for the sake of living up to potential.

Tomorrow’s Review

Nebraska

GOLDENEYE IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY, DVD, VHS, AND LASERDISC.

Prisoners

Movie Review #717

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8:38 Productions
Madhouse Entertainment

Presentation: Alcon Entertainment
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Country: USA
Spoken Languages: English

Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Produced by Kira Davis, Broderick Johnson, Adam Kolbrenner, and Andrew A. Kosove. Written by Aaron Guzikowski.

Rated R by the MPAA – frequent profanity; disturbing content; infrequent, graphic violence. Runs 2 hours, 33 minutes. Premiered at Belgrade on September 18, 2013. Wide relase in the USA on September 20, 2013.

Starring Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano, Dylan Minnette, and Erin Gerasimovich. With a credited cameo appearance by Michelle Keller.

Cinemaniac Reviews three and a half stars

Time to make a pretty personal confession, if only to make this review a bit easier to write. I can sit through movies about the most depraved people. I often say I’m “immune” to movies, because you can make a movie about a guy who commits this and that crime time and again. I’ll willingly watch it. I might even enjoy the movie. But involve that character in child molestation, child murder, child abduction, and that’s when I’m done for. I still wonder why it’s only this topic that gets me, but anything that specifically involves putting children’s lives in danger is, by its own nature, just too disturbing for me.

Ergo two things. One, I face great trouble in saying that I “enjoyed” “Prisoners”. But I won’t deny that it’s a good movie. Two, the movie is, in my book, effective without having to do more than show up; it could be the most offensively awful movie ever made, and I’d still find it effective for the subject matter.

But “Prisoners” is a good movie, and there’s better ways of saying that. Several. If TV crime procedurals actually worried about more than name-dropping, being sponsored, making money, etc., they’d have a script with drama. I’d say that even the best of those scripts could only be half as good as “Prisoners”. Most of this is due to strong character development. Its way of identifying its ensemble cast is clever and well conceived: we’re not concerned with the happenings between characters during one crime, because once one crime has led to a few more (all involving prisoners, not so surprisingly), the whole thing’s about what Character X is hiding from Character Y. And how to slap a label on Character Z–the encompassing “whodunit.”

Now and then, the plot actually thins a little. Now and then. As in, not that often, but it’s easy to tell just why this movie is an inspired one. In the very first scene, a man shoots a deer. Not sure why, but that’s the most common opening scene I’ve noticed. Later on, “Psycho” and “The Silence of the Lambs” are paid homage. Not that you have to look for it, so long as you can automatically recall the Buffalo Bill manhunt when you see an identical basement.

On the plus side, the movie is impressively faithful to classical film-noir. Jake Gyllenhaal looks, sounds, acts like a 1950′s flick detective, but it’s really (drum roll) the camera that so definitively establishes style here. The camerawork practices the inventive effect that has been on the “wanted” list since John Carpenter’s “Halloween”. The cinematography (from that very first shot of the deer, moving back toward the gun) is incredible. Maybe I’m not the voice of reason, but I’d wager that it’s haunting all on its own, complemented by the use of simplistic music. The sound mixing, I might additionally note, adds to the intensity of this thriller.

“Prisoners” is a David Fincher movie from a director who doesn’t answer to that name. I say this having Fincher in my top ten: very little could he have added to the outcome. And if anything, he’s already done it, maybe even on a lesser level. “Prisoners” is much of the same mosaic full of red herrings that was “Zodiac” in 2007. Except “Zodiac” isn’t set in a neighborhood, and it doesn’t deliver its narrative so personally.

Tomorrow’s Review…

La Strada

PRISONERS IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.

Hello all! Today, I introduce a new feature entitled Short Film Smorgasbord. Each time one of these posts goes up, it’s three short film reviews for three short films.

The entire smorgasbord will count as one (1) review, and this time, they also happen to be (especially important) silents.

Oh and I’ll have a witty title for each smorgasbord (thanks a bunch to Committed to Celluloid for that inspiration).

Enjoy!

Sherlock Holmes, Baffled that the Kelly Gang Made It into the Sealed Room

Movie Review #712

“Sherlock Holmes, Baffled”

American Mutoscope & Biograph. Distributor: American Mutoscope & Biograph. Country: USA. Directed by Arthur Marvin. Character by Arthur Conan Doyle. Runs 1 minute. Wide release in the USA in May 1900. Starring Anonymous as Sherlock Holmes.

“Sherlock Holmes Baffled” is a simple but clever little short. The premise: Sherlock walks into a room to find a burglar. There seems to be a fantasy element to this movie—a humorous surprise that I dare not spoil—and as far as special effects, this 1900 motion picture is waaay ahead of its time. An effort that cracked a smile on my face, a reaction many modern comedies can only wish for. For the first movie to actually feature Holmes, this is quite a nice effort.

“The Sealed Room”

Biograph Company. Distributor: Biograph Company – Reel Media International – American Mutoscope & Biograph. Country: USA. Languages: English intertitles. Directed by D.W. Griffith. Writer: Frank E. Woods. Based on the novel “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe and the story “La Grande Breteche” by Honoré de Balzac. Runs 11 minutes. Wide release in the USA on September 2, 1909. Starring Arthur V. Johnson as the Count, Marion Leonard as the Countess, and Henry B. Walthall as the Minstrel. Also starring Linda Arvidson, William J. Butler, Verner Clarges, Owen Moore, George Nichols, Anthony O’Sullivan, Mary Pickford, Gertrude, Mack Sennett, and George Siegmann.

It’s interesting to think that while epics of the last half-century emphasize hope in their respective stories, the epic film actually began with overwhelming tragedy. At eleven minutes, “The Sealed Room” isn’t long enough to stand as a part of this genre, but elongate it and it most certainly is. This isn’t as good as D.W. Griffith can get, but it feels like a considerable (and adequately gripping) precursor to his two best-known epics: “The Birth of a Nation” (1915) and “Intolerance” (1916).

“The Story of the Kelly Gang”

J. & N. Tait. Johnson and Gibson. Country: Australia. Directed by Charles Tait. Produced by W.A. Gibson, Millard Johnson, John Tait, and Nevin Tait. Writer: Charles Tait. Runs 70 minutes (remaining footage runs 21 minutes). Wide release in Australia on December 26, 1906. Starring Elizabeth Tait and John Tait. Also starring Frank Mills, Norman Campbell, Will Coyne, Sam Crewes, Jack Ennis, John Forde, Mr. Marshall, Mr. McKenzie, Bella Cola, Vera Linden, and Ollie Wilson. With uncredited cameo appearances from E.J. Tait and Frank Tait.

Fun fact: 70% of all silent footage that was ever produced, has been lost. Technically, “The Story of the Kelly Gang” was the first feature film. Reports vacillate between time lengths of 60 and 70 minutes; the established minimum for a feature film is 40 minutes. 21 minutes of the movie remain, and not a bit of story can be discerned from it. It’s just violence, violence, and more violence. None of it’s graphic, morbid, or off-putting in anyway other than that it’s pointless. If I had to guess, I’d say this is a “Bonnie and Clyde” precursor, but what good does guessing do? What good is it when the movie forces you to guess? Perhaps there was an actual plot when this film (which ironically has “Story” in its title) was issued at feature length. But if I were to watch any random 21 minutes of a decent movie, I’m sure I would be able to make out at least half the plot.

Tomorrow’s Review

The English Patient

ALL TITLES AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.

Movie Review #709

238047.1020.A

Les Films Impéria
Les Productions Georges de Beauregard
Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie

Distributor: Films Around the World (subtitled 1961 release) – The Criterion Collection (2007 & 2014) – Rialto Pictures (2010 re-release) – Janus Films
Country: France
Spoken Languages: French – English

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard. Produced by Georges de Beauregard. Screenplay: Jean-Luc Godard (uncredited). Story: François Truffaut.

Released unrated by the MPAA. Runs 1 hour, 30 minutes. Wide release in France on March 16, 1960; and in the USA on February 7, 1961. Re-release in the USA on April 21, 2000. Restored version premiered at TCM Classic Film Festival on April 23, 2010. Same version earned limited release on May 28, 2010. Same version earned wide release in France on June 23, 2010.

Starring Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. Also starring Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin, Van Doude, Claude Mansard, Liliane David, Michel Fabre, Jean-Pierre Melville, Richard Balducci, André S. Labarthe, François Moreuil, and Liliane Robin. Also featuring a cameo appearance by Jean-Luc Godard as the Snitch.

Cinemaniac Reviews three and a half stars

“À bout de souffle” is all we need to know that director Jean-Luc Godard is nothing less than an artist. His movie is spectacular. Extraordinary. You truly can’t find another ‘60s movie with such style. Inventive cinematography, jump cuts galore. Music cues—one of several irresistible elements. Hither and thither, it’s hard to tell what’s going on. The film is much like a David Lynch film, if that’s your cup of tea. The acting is here and there, but their efforts, as well, make for an offbeat delight. An excellent movie…with an unforgettable finale.

Tomorrow’s Review

City Lights

À BOUT DE SOUFFLE IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM THE CRITERION COLLECTION.  OTHER FORMATS INCLUDE VHS AND LASERDISC.

À bout de souffle

Movie Review #709

238047.1020.A

Les Films Impéria
Les Productions Georges de Beauregard
Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie

Distributeur: Films Around the World (1961 distribution avec des sous-titres) – The Criterion Collection (2007 et 2014) – Rialto Pictures (2010 distribution encore) – Janus Films
Pays d’origine: France
Langues: français – anglais

Réalisé par Jean-Luc Godard. Produit par Georges de Beauregard. Scénario: Jean-Luc Godard (non crédité). Histoire: François Truffaut.

Distribué non raté par l’MPAA. Court 1 heure, 30 minutes. Grande distribution au France le 16 mars 1960; et aux États-Unis le 7 février 1961. Distribution encore aux États-Unis le 21 avril 2000. Distribution très limitée de la version revisité à TCM Classic Film Festival le 23 avril 2010. Même version en distribution limitée aux États-Unis le 28 mai 2010. Même version en grande distribution au France le 23 juin 2010.

Avec le casting Jean-Paul Belmondo et Jean Seberg. Aussi avec le casting Daniel Boulanger, Henri-Jacques Huet, Roger Hanin, Van Doude, Claude Mansard, Liliane David, Michel Fabre, Jean-Pierre Melville, Richard Balducci, André S. Labarthe, François Moreuil, et Liliane Robin. Aussi avec un performance bref de Jean-Luc Godard en rôle du Snitch.

Cinemaniac Reviews three and a half stars

«À bout de souffle» est tout que on a besoin de savoir que de réalisateur Jean-Luc Godard est simplement une artiste. Ce film est spectaculaire. Extraordinaire. On vraiment ne peut pas trouver un autre film avec tels façons en 1960s. De la cinématographie inventive, beaucoup des coupes sèches. Des signals de la musique—un de beaucoup des éléments irrésistibles. De temps en temps, c’est difficile décider ce qui se passe. C’est comme beaucoup un film de David Lynch, si ça c’est ta tasse de thé. Les performances des acteurs sont ici et là-bas, mais leurs efforts, aussi, construit un délice décalé. Un très bon film…avec une scène finale inoubliable.

Coming Reviews

À bout de souffle [English-language review]
The Armstrong Lie
The Bourne Identity
City Lights
The English Patient
Short Film Smorgasbord Vol. 1

À BOUT DE SOUFFLE IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD FROM THE CRITERION COLLECTION.  OTHER FORMATS INCLUDE VHS AND LASERDISC.

Match Point

Movie Review #707

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BBC Films & Thema Production SA present…

…in association with Kudo Films Limited…

…a Jada Production…

Distributor: DreamWorks Distribution
Country: UK – Luxembourg
Spoken Languages: English

Directed by Woody Allen. Produced by Letty Aronson, Lucy Darwin, and Gareth Wiley. Written by Woody Allen.

Rated R by the MPAA – infrequent sexual material. Runs 2 hours 4 minutes (Turkish TV version runs 9 minutes shorter; Finnish theatrical version runs 2 minutes longer). Premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2005; at San Sebastián Film Festival on September 24, 2005; at Vienna International Film Festival on October 14, 2005; at Savannah Film and Video Festival on November 2, 2005; at DaKino International Film Festival on November 22, 2005; and at Film by the Sea Film Festival on December 13, 2005. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on December 28, 2005; and in San Francisco, California on January 4, 2006. Wide release in the UK on January 6, 2006; and in the USA on January 20, 2006.

Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox, Penelope Wilton, Emily Mortimer, and Scarlett Johansson. Also starring Mary Hegarty, Miranda Raison, Margaret Tyzack, Ewen Bremner, and James Nesbitt. Featuring uncredited cameo appearances by Alex Argenti, Morne Botes, Michelle Lima, Dawn Murphy, and Leonard Silver.

Cinemaniac Reviews four stars

I’ve seen quite a lot of Woody Allen. Almost every year for the past forty-eight years, he’s made a movie. To keep it simple, I’ll just say I’ve seen his 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th films; his 9th through 16th films; his 18th, 20th, 36th, 37th, 39th, and every film from his 41st through his 44th (his most recent). I’ve always considered Mr. Allen to be a comedian. Sure, I’ve seen him lean away from the wry humor, but the results seemed to be lacking the pleasant they would have had with humor. That was “Another Woman”, his 18th. Double that number. Now we’re at his 36th: “Match Point”, which is where I have to think again. Of course, I still consider him a comedian, especially when what makes a drama even this serious a winner is the wry humor peppered throughout dialogue. But just that would make “Match Point” a plainly unusual Woody Allen movie. It’s unusual, and, let’s not forget, surprising.

“Match Point” is a grave, dark drama. The plot could be seen is soapy, if it were only dealt with that way. The tone is easily more noirish, making for a more cinematic, flavorful and artful approach to the tale than any other addition to the director’s soapology. In ways that “Hannah and Her Sisters” was similar to “Crimes and Misdemeanors”, and “Midnight in Paris” to “To Rome with Love”, “Match Point” feels like a companion piece to Woody’s next project, “Scoop”. Especially being that “Scoop” was one of the worst I’ve seen from the director, and “Match Point” one of the best, this one beats its followup sixty, love.

“Match Point” is a dark movie. An extremely gripping, but nonetheless dark one. Woody Allen has claimed this his favorite of any film he’s made, and it’s understandable. Of any semi-autobiographical account, this one’s the most honest. Allen’s reliance on character development connects us with the characters, if not always in the best of ways. The protagonist is a brutal hate target from the very beginning; we just don’t know it until he grows to a macroscopic size, until he has an ongoing affair, until that affair becomes impossible to balance with his marriage.

Scarlett Johansson plays the femme fatale in this urban moral conquest. I don’t want to go with this being her role of a lifetime until I see more of her, but she’s cast perfectly. Her conversations with Jonathan Rhys Meyers echoes those of Mariel Hemingway and Woody Allen in “Manhattan”. Again, that movie just wasn’t such a dramatic height. “Match Point” is quite a tense drama. This is suspenseful and mysterious. Not quite the expectations of the director, especially while he’s still keeping his love for the arts omnipresent. What more can I say? It’s thoroughly and dynamically unpredictable.

Tomorrow’s Review

Alice

MATCH POINT IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.

Anatomy of a Psycho

Movie Review #706

anatomy_of_a_psycho_cropped

UNITEL

Distributor: Unitel – Reel Media International
Country: USA
Spoken Languages: English

Directed by Brooke L. Peters. Produced by Brooke L. Peters. Original story: Jane Mann. Screenplay: Jane Mann & Don Devlin.

No MPAA rating information. Runs 1 hour, 15 minutes. Limited release in Los Angeles, California on June 14, 1961.

Starring Ronnie Burns, Pamela Lincoln, Darrell Howe, Judy Howard, Michael Grainger, Frank Killmond, Russell Bender, Don Devlin, and William Salzwedel. Also starring Robert Stabler and John B. Lee. Featuring an uncredited cameo appearance by Pat McMahon as Arthur.

Cinemaniac Reviews two and a half stars

This one really is…bad. The dialogue, for starters, is terrible. Just awful. If anybody talks this way to each other, in real life, there’s probably some sort of Martian Mafia starin’ down from way up high, laughin’ their asses off. (That’s me thinking along the Ed Wood wavelength.) Cinematography? What a load of bollocks. Back to the written aspect of it, though. It’s so poorly acted. Wait that’s not a written aspect. Oops. Anyway…

“Anatomy of a Psycho” delivers a halfway interesting plot that manages to go itself in all different crazy directions. Really bizarre directions, and I’ll have you know that there’s quite a confusing shift toward romance less than halfway through. Let me reiterate: this is called “Anatomy of a Psycho”, not Anatomy of Marlon Brando. Not so sure why there’s a love story in a movie that constantly wants to express that at the most random times, this guy can go nuts.

And really, “Anatomy of a Psycho” (with emphasis on “anatomy”)? You just don’t knock of the title of a Jimmy Stewart classic like that. Especially when there’s nothing to do with “anatomy” in this movie. Except for whenever the main guy gets bloodied up. We get to see a minor piece of anatomy from a long shot of his body, through which his open veins are muddily visible, but that’s about it.

Maybe the one good thing in this classified Z-movie is that the protagonist could twin Anthony Perkins. It’s almost a corny joke. (‘Cause this is “Anatomy of a Psycho”, and Perkins was in “Psycho” a year earlier–get it?) This movie is pretty much one of those “so bad, it’s good” movies, except it’s just too bad. It has been reported that on top of the usage of the music from “Plan 9 from Outer Space”, Ed Wood contributed to the screenplay using the pseudonym “Larry Lee.” As far as I’m concerned, he did the whole shebang, and to say that Wood was writing whatever words just happened to pop into his mind, as random as they might be, is a deplorable understatement for the development of this script. I enjoyed the movie for the obviously self-unaware execution, but if this deceptively long strand of 75 minutes doesn’t offer the most infernal pacing I’ve ever sat through, I’m not sure what is.

Tomorrow’s Review

Match Point

ANATOMY OF A PSYCHO IS AVAILABLE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.




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