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Dead Again

Kenneth Branagh , Emma Thompson , Kenneth Branagh    DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
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Dead Again + Much Ado About Nothing (Widescreen) (Bilingual)
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Product Description

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British thespian and sophomore director Kenneth Branagh follows up his adaptation of Shakespeare's Henry V with this abrupt change of pace, a slick, stylish thriller evocative of Hitchcock, classic film noir, and gothic shockers. Sporting an exaggerated American accent, Branagh stars as L.A. private eye Mike Church, a hard-boiled but softhearted detective who takes on the case of a mysterious amnesiac (Branagh's then-real-life wife, Emma Thompson). With the help of an offbeat furniture dealer and part-time hypnotist (Derek Jacobi), Grace (as Mike has named her) dredges up her hidden memories. Little do they realize that her recollections are of a past life in L.A.'s recent history, and as she recounts the details of a famous marriage that ended with a notorious murder (played out as black-and-white flashbacks starring Branagh and Thompson), events of the present begin to mirror the past, as if fate were pulling the two into fatal replay of history. Branagh's flashy, flourished direction echoes with an array of '40s and '50s classics and near classics (most notably Hitchcock's Rebecca and Spellbound) and drives the story with an edgy urgency, all the better to distract from some of the sillier elements of the plot. But while this film may not make literal sense in the harsh light of day, in the twilit, shadowy world of classic Hollywood this slyly inventive thriller is a bravura bit of old-fashioned entertainment, done up with modern flair. --Sean Axmaker

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Hypnotic Thriller Jan. 13 2004
Format:DVD
The casting for this movie is great. Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson are wonderful as the detective and woman who has no memory. Derek Jacobi is excellent as the hypnotist/antique dealer. Even Robin Williams small part of the Grocer/Ex-Analyst is good. I don't want to give to much away. In a nutshell a lovely lady is being lodged at a church until they can determine her identity. Better that than sending her to a mental institution for her screams of panic and fright that has her propping a chair against her door each night.
When they can no longer take her disruptiveness, the church calls on a detective that will work for gratis. The detective puts out an article in the paper and a two mysterious strangers appear. One to help her recall her identity with hypnosis and another to take advantage of her. When her hypnosis reveals a previous life and a murder, things get very interesting and suspenseful. I have seen this twice on TV and am now planning to buy it. The love story that evolves along with the mystery is very romantic. I think this must be underrated as I am surprised it didn't get more exposure.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hokey Dec 27 2003
Format:DVD
Considering the high caliber of the British cast (Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Derek Jacobi), DEAD AGAIN is notable for being so corny.
Mike Church (Branagh) is a Los Angeles private gumshoe whose specialty is tracing missing persons. As a favor, he agrees to discover the identity of Grace (Thompson), an amnesiac who climbed over a fence to take refuge in a Catholic orphanage and who suffers nightmares that keep everyone awake from her screaming. Put under hypnosis by mesmerist/antique dealer Franklyn Madison (Jacobi), Grace reveals memories of the relationship between composer Roman Strauss (Branagh again) and his wife Margaret Strauss (Thompson again). In the late 1940s, Roman was convicted of fatally stabbing Margaret in the neck with a scissors, a crime for which he was executed in 1949. Franklyn drags out an old issue of "Life" magazine, and, golly, isn't it amazing how much Mike and Grace physically resemble Roman and Margaret. Subsequently, Mike goes under hypnosis also and ... well, you get the idea. And every chance the director (Branagh yet again) gets, he points the camera at a big, pointy scissors lying on Mike's living room table waiting for some mischief to get into.
At times, I wondered whether DEAD AGAIN was being presented as a comedy, drama, or parody. The too loud music soundtrack favored either the first or last. But, I finally decided on drama because the actors seemed to be taking the plot sufficiently seriously. Then, they overplayed their parts just to show the audience that they were having a jolly good time. (There were shots of a terrified Grace that almost had me laughing for their absurdity.) The result - a mess. There are some decent plot twists at the end, which, if the script could have evolved with more subtlety, would have resulted in an infinitely better suspense film and not such a silly melodrama.
Branagh, Thompson and Jacobi - what were they thinking?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Intense! June 19 2003
Format:DVD
Dead Again is a brilliant psychological thriller! It's riveting and breathtakingly suspenseful from start to finish, directed with style by Kenneth Branagh. Many imaginative homages to Hitchock--and this is as good as anything the master has directed. Branagh fashions a fascinating puzzle that contains its share of action, romance, dry wit, and (of course) twists & turns. And, unlike most thrillers, there's a distinct element of unpredictability to the latter.
Dead Again is a tale of parallel stories in different time frames. The first, which transpires in post-World War II Los Angeles and is presented entirely through black-and-white flashbacks, relates the tragic romance of Roman and Margaret Strauss (Branagh and his then-wife, Emma Thompson). Roman, a German expatriate, is a world-famous composer and conductor, and Margaret, a Brit relocated to North America, is an up-and-coming musician. They meet when Roman conducts Margaret's orchestra, and it's love at first sight. They are soon married, but their fairytale existence begins to fray. Margaret is suspicious that Roman's housekeeper, Inga (Hanna Schygulla), and her son, Frankie (Gregor Hesse), may be stealing from Roman. He, in turn, is wary of her relationship with a reporter named Gray Baker (Andy Garcia), who appears to be exceeding the bounds of friendly propriety. This all leads to murder (I'm not giving anything away here, since this is revealed during an opening montage of newspaper clippings). Margaret is stabbed to death using a pair of scissors, an expensive anklet is stolen, and Roman is arrested and convicted. He goes to the electric chair claiming to be innocent.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classy, Noir-ish, Stylish, and Very Memorable Feb. 8 2003
Format:DVD
Although he received tremendous praise for his memorable film production of Shakespeare's HENRY V, DEAD AGAIN was the film that really introduced actor/director Kenneth Branagh to mainstream American film, and for a time he and then-wife Emma Thompson were the most celebrated acting couple since Olivier and Leigh. The marriage did not last, but fortunately this film did--and I say fortunately, for although it is somewhat forgotten today, DEAD AGAIN is an overlooked jewel of a film: classy, noir-ish, stylish, and very memorable indeed.
The story is fanciful. In the late 1940s noted composer Roman Strauss was convicted of mudering his noted pianist wife Margaret, and was sentenced to death. Some forty years later, a young woman suffering from amnesia falls into the hands of a no-nonsense Los Angeles private eye--and under hypnosis she recalls not her immediate past, but the lives of Roman and Margaret. Is this reincarnation? Is she Margaret Strauss? Is the private eye to whom she is attracted but of whom she is also strangely fearful the reincarnation of Roman Strauss, Margaret's killer? Is history repeating itself?
Scott Frank's clever script makes for a fast-paced, twisting, and fascinating plot-driven film--and it is flawlessly played by Branagh and Thompson, who assume dual roles as the 1940s Roman and Margaret Strauss and the 1980s Mike Church and Grace. The supporting cast is also excellent, with memorable performances by Andy Garcia and Derek Jacobi--and a truly exceptional cameo by Robin Williams, who here for the first time demonstrated that his talents went far beyond comedy.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars not at Hitchcock's level.
This movie has a good cast but it is not up to the level like the Hitchcock's movies.I like Emma Thompson and the cast in other movies that were good,but I had a hard time getting... Read more
Published on May 17 2004 by Willie Montgomery
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Noir as only Branagh can do it
This movie captures the world of Hitchcock and Bogart, in dramatic black and white (with color episodes) in a truly great presentation. Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2004 by "byrkit"
3.0 out of 5 stars Neuvo Drama
This movie stands out for a number of reasons. The method of intermixing black and white and color to show when in time we were was done nicely along with some beautiful camera... Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004 by C. A. Luster
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Good
I saw this movie on the Sci-Fi channel several years ago, and was quite surprised by the quality of the film. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2003 by T. Sparks
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Branagh's best
Dead Again was my first exposure to both Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, and it is a film that I am very fond of. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2003 by Sren Thomsen
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Branagh's best
Dead Again was my first exposure to both Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson, and it is a film that I am very fond of. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2003 by Sren Thomsen
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic film noir melodrama
Buy into the high theatricality of Branagh's film noir melodrama and you'll have a ball with this picture. Read more
Published on Dec 31 2002 by Steven Reynolds
4.0 out of 5 stars Twisted Tale of Love and Hate
Suspenseful drama with many twists and turns. Surprise ending pulls it all together. Great acting by Kenneth Branagh. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2002 by Susan D. Browne
4.0 out of 5 stars Open Your Eyes, er...Grace?
DEAD AGAIN is a highly underrated suspense/thriller from 1991 that was also the inspiration for Dream Theater's 1999 masterpiece SCENES FROM A MEMORY. Read more
Published on July 22 2002 by A.F.
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