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Alex Udvary (chicago, il United States)

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A Free Soul
A Free Soul
VHS
5 used & new from CDN$ 18.99

0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 So "Free" The Story Almost Flies Away, July 10 2004
This review is from: A Free Soul (VHS Tape)
"A Free Soul" on paper seemed like a knock-out. I simply can't believe the movie doesn't reach the intensity and emotion that could have been.
The movie has Lionel Barrymore playing a lawyer Stephen Ashe who defends a gangster, Ace Wilfong (Clark Gable) over a murder charge. After Ashe gets Wilfong off by some questionable actions Ace sets his eyes on Ashe's daughter Jan (Norma Shearer) and she sets her eyes on him as well, despite being engaged to Dwight (Leslie Howard) because after all Jan is "a free soul" and her life is nobody's business. She does as she pleases.
The story-line may sound typical for a 30s melodrama and at first it hits all the right bases but then the film goes on to long, creates sub-plots that only confuse the movie, and forgets about certain characters for too long, and when concerning one character we led to believe he died only to reappear!!
Now as much as I like Shearer, and I do think she was a talented actress, I wondered how her rival would do in her role, Joan Crawford. Crawford too played these "free" or "lost" soul characters think of "Dancing Lady", "Paid", and "Shining Hour".
Leslie Howard simply isn't used enough so no connection is made with his character. Gable's doesn't seem clearly defined and acts accordingly to how the script wants him to, not perhaps how the character would want him to. And why Barrymore won the Oscar I'm uncertain. The movie was nominated for a total of 3 Oscars.
"A Free Soul" is good for filmbuffs to watch but not anyone else. And I'm surprised I seem to be in the minority view of the movie. Clarence Brown, the film's director, had a much better film in 1931 starring Gable and Crawford called "Possessed". That one I strongly recommend. This one you have to twist my arm a little bit.
Any what about that ending scene? Can you get anything more heavy-handed and preachy and completely unnecessary. My guess is, that last scene is what got Barrymore the Oscar, but geez are they laying it on thick or what?
Bottom-line: Starts off well, but for whatever reason loses track and is not able to balance its characters. Don't get me wrong it has its moments, and I'm a fan of black&white movies but I was expecting more. Worthwhile for filmbuffs.

Medium Cool (Widescreen)
Medium Cool (Widescreen)
DVD ~ Robert Forster
Offered by thebookcommunity_ca
Prix : CDN$ 73.12
9 used & new from CDN$ 20.99

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3.0 étoiles sur 5 "Medium Cool" Doesn't Bring Enough Heat, July 9 2004
This review is from: Medium Cool (Widescreen) (DVD)
I first time I became aware of this movie was when I read Roger Ebert named it one of the ten best films of 1969, though the film was not available on vhs or dvd.
"Medium Cool" is a werid hybrid. It has moments that work and other that don't seem as polished. This may be due to the improvised atmosphere the film creates.
When "Medium Cool" works it captures the feeling and the spirit of the 60s. It belongs in a class of movies such as "Blow-Up" , "Weekend", & "Z". Even if you were not born in those times, and I wasn't, the film manages to lets us know what it was like back then.
The opening moments of the film are my favorite. It has a documentary feeling. It seems intense, and maybe because I'm a journalist major I enjoyed the scene where the journalist talk about the choices they make in what they show on TV.
But ultimately "Medium Cool" is a political movie that has a political and social message. We hear characters speak about the Kennedy assassination, the war, and Dr. Martin Luther King. And while these issues are 40 years old many of the arguments being presented in the film can be argued today. For instance there is a scene with protesters and one shouts out "We have a war we do not want!"
All of this is bein told while the 1968 Democratic Nation Convention is about to come to Chicago. And it works, but the movie at this point loses its focus. Now we have a love story emerging between John (Robert Forster) the star of the movie and Eileen (Verna Bloom). Their story sometimes drags the movie down. Eileen doesn't really do anything for the movie. Maybe if she were part of the protest against the war she would have fit in better or even if she was for the war that could create a another conflict the film could have used. But no this never happens.
The movie also was improvised and this hurts it also. The dialogue is terrible. I've yet to see a movie that has improvised dialogue that I enjoyed. It sounds like very bad 40s "B" picture talk. The kind of dialogue that you laugh at even though you know it's suppose to be taken seriously.
The movie was directed by Haskell Wexler, he also gets writing credit, producer and cinematography credit. And most people probably know him just as a cinematography. He filmmed "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", and "The Thomas Crown Affair (68 version)". Even though I didn't find the directing to be impressive he did receive a Directors Guild nomination for this film.
While the movie does have its problems, bad dialogue, werid hybrid story-line and an ending I personally found unsatisfying, even though I guess you could say the movie ends the way it begins. It is still a movie I'm glad I saw. And I hope many others see it for a first or second viewing. *** 1\2 out of *****
Bottom-line: Entertaining if sometimes disappointing look at life in the 60s. Still works in today's world as many of the problems are still being fought. Worthwhile overall.

King's Row [Import]
King's Row [Import]
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 18.00

2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 "King" Size Entertainment, June 30 2004
This review is from: King's Row [Import] (VHS Tape)
I am not a fan of Ronald Reagan on any level, but the one movie I've always heard talk about when discussing Reagan as an actor has been "Kings Row" the movie filmbuffs reserve as one of Reagan's best films.
I saw this movie mainly for two reasons. The first being, it's one of my grandmother's favorite movies, the other, the death of the former President.
"Kings Row" is quite an accomplised film from director Sam Wood, a man who has directed serval American classics that would take up too much space if I recited them all here, but they include "Goodbye Mr. Chips", "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "The Pride of the Yankees", and two Marx Brothers comedies "A Night at the Opera", and "A Day at the Races".
"Kings Row" directly and indirectly takes on what must have been a lot of taboo subjects. One of the main ones being fornication.
The movie starts off with a shot of a sign that reads; "Kings Row, a great pace to raise your children". From that we are suppose to suspect this is a friendly small town, that to some would seem being. Everybody knows each other and spreads the town's gossip and the people give excited waiting for the local events, but as the film goes on we find out there is much going on behind everyone's back.And the town is not as innocent as it seems.
The film's main characters are Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) and Drake McHugh (Reagan) who have remained friends since childhood. Now that both are older they are soon starting to discover the secrets that lie beneath the town and some of its citizens.
The movie has a terrific cast including Claude Rains as Dr. Tower, a man who is trying to help Parris become a doctor, he also happens to be the father of Cassie (Betty Field), the love of Parris' life. Then there Dr. Henry Gordon (Charles Coburn) who is known to give usual operations and is the father of Louis (Nany Coleman), the girl Drake plans to marry. And there's Ann Sheridan as Randy Monaghan.
Just about everyone in the film does a good job acting wise, but I think it's Cummings' movie all the way, not Reagan. But either way you look at it you have to admit "Kings Row" is an interesting film that holds your interest.
Bottom-line: Well made dramatic suspense film notably known as one of Ronald Reagan's best films, but Robert Cummings gives one of his best performances. Well worth seeing.

Cries & Whispers
Cries & Whispers
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 29.01

1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The Sounds That Haunt Us, June 10 2004
This review is from: Cries & Whispers (VHS Tape)
"Cries and Whispers" was one of the first films from Ingmar Bergman I had seen. I was about 13 years old and was a strongly devoted fan. I had only seen the film that one time, but it stand with me. Only, I didn't think it was that powerful. Maybe my age had something to do with it. Could it be I was too young to appreciate it? I enjoyed the previous films I had seen at that point though such as "Wild Strawberries" and "The Seventh Seal".
Well, whatever the reason I saw this film again. Now I'm 21. And I think "Cries and Whispers" is one of Bergman's very best films. A memorable and powerful film. A sheer work of genius.
I read Roger Ebert's review for the movie. He said he had never seen a film to be so much about pain.
Maybe that is true. I hadn't thought of that the first time I saw this masterpiece, but now I understand.
Bergman paints such a bleak, depressing picture here, that you could call this film typical Bergman. Even though it my be a depressing film, you should still see this.
The story has three sisters, one is dying. She is played by Harriet Andersson, who gives what I feel is the film's best performance. The other sisters include Maria (Liv Ullman) who is almost childlike. She seems so innocent. Then there is Karin (Ingrid Thulin) who is cold-hearted. And even though she is not one of the sisters Anna (Kari Sylwan) who is a mother figure. She is the only one who truly cares for Agnes (Andersson).
Bergman than has these characters reflecting on moments from the past, and thus the "cries and whispers" those moments bring. Some are truly terrible memories these characters live with. A scene involving Karin and her husband comes to mind.
Are these people trying to learn from their mistakes? Do they regret their past choices? Is there hope for them? I can't give you the answers to these questions, it is for you to decide.
"Cries and Whispers" on second viewing is one of Bergman's best films. A work of art.
Bottom-line: One of Ingmar Bergman's best films. It was nominated for "Best Picture" in 1973 and Bergman was nominated for "Best Director" as well. A haunting film dealing with our life choices, who we really are and how these events shape us. It leaves a lasting impression on the viewer. I can't speak highly enough about this film.

Unfaithfully Yours
Unfaithfully Yours
2 used & new from CDN$ 27.49

3.0 étoiles sur 5 "Unfaithfully Yours" Is Remade In Good "Faith", June 10 2004
This review is from: Unfaithfully Yours (VHS Tape)
I'm not exactly sure which version of "Unfaithfully Yours" I've seen first, but the original Preston Sturges verison is my favorite among his films, which is a pretty large order considering this is the same man who directed "The Palm Beach Story" and "The Lady Eve".
Given my feelings towards the original I wasn't sure if I'd like this remake. It has almost become a Hollywood rule remakes are never on par with the originals. Just as sequels are not as good as the original.
Howard Zieff's "Unfaithfully Yours" is a nice exception. I admit I don't think it's quite as good as the Sturges film (that one I would give 4 stars) it is still entertaining and funny at moments. I thought the absence of Preston Sturges would cause a decrease in the comedic possibilities, but, I forgot how good Dudley Moore and Albert Brooks are.
Moore plays Claude Eastman a famous conductor who suspects his much younger wife Daniella (Nastassja Kinski) is cheating on him after the thought is first put into his head when a misunderstanding between Claude and his friend Norman (Albert Brooks) takes place and Norman thought Claude wanted him to hire a detective to watch his wife while Claude was out of town.
Howard Zieff is not exactly what I would call a great director, he was the man behind "The Main Event" and the "My Girl" films, but, he strings things together nicely here. The script, while perhaps not as funny as Sturges' is not completely a dud. Barry Levinson had a hand in the remake, so expects some funny bits.
One of my favorite scenes is at the restaurant when Moore "thinks" Armand Assante is confronting him about having an affair with his wife, and the start a dueling violin contest of Tchaikovsky.
Also I should mention I the film's one advantage. In the scene dealing with Moore's plan to kill his wife it's set-up much funnier.
Bottom-line:Remake of the classic Preston Sturges comedy is not exactly as good as the original but offers its own nice moments. Good performances by Moore and Brooks (who isn't used enough).

Lady in the Lake [Import]
Lady in the Lake [Import]
VHS
4 used & new from CDN$ 19.95

2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 The "Lady" and the Story Seem A little Wet, June 2 2004
The 1954 Alfred Hitchcock film "Rear Window" showed us a murder through the eyes of Jimmy Stewart. Throughout the entire movie we only saw what Stewart saw, this added to the suspense the film tried to create. I personally liked the gimmick, but it seems Robert Montgomery (who does double duty as the film's director) beat him to the punch. Only I'm not sure it was a device that needed to be used.
"The Lady in the Lake" has Robert Montgomery playing Raymond Chandler's famous detective Philip Marlowe, and we go through over all the steps Marlowe has as the story is told in flashback form. First of all I don't think Montgomery was correct for the role, or maybe he was but I dislike his interpretation. I find he did comedy quite well watch Noel Coward's "Private Lives" and "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" though here he seems a little stiff. Not exactly comfortable with the role.
As I said the main problem I have with the film is the gimmick used of us basically playing the character ourselves. It's clever but it doesn't really add anything to the film. It could have been told in a conventional manner and still worked. And who knows, it could have been a better film.
Robert Montgomery directed 6 films, one of them he went uncredited for, and it just so happens that one is probably his most famous film as director, John Ford's "They Were Expendable". I haven't seen any other film he's directed, but I wasn't terribly impressed. What makes this film memorable, if it is memorable, is not the directing, the acting, the script, or anything else, its mainly the camera device used.
"The Lady in the Lake" is an OK film. I don't think it's one of the great detective stories of Hollywood's Golden Age, and I don't think Montgomery made a great Marlowe. This film made me watch to watch Bogart in "The Big Sleep" I film I prefer over this one.
Bottom-line: Decent detective story based on Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe character. The movie's gimmick gets in the way though and prevents it from becoming a better movie. Some of the acting, especially the performances by Audrey Totter and Montgomery seem stiff and in the case of Totter she seems to be over acting at moments. Not one of my favorites.

Chasing Liberty
Chasing Liberty
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 23.93

3.0 étoiles sur 5 Fun, but too bad they didn't "Chase" after a better script, May 29 2004
This review is from: Chasing Liberty (VHS Tape)
I actually think Many Moore is a good actress. In time, many of you may come to agree with me, if you don't already. In the film "A Walk to Remember" I thought she was absolutely wonderful. In her next project "How to Deal", I thought Mandy was good in it, but the movie was one of the worst films of 2003. It was a werid hybrid. I wasn't sure if it wanted to be a drama or a teen comedy. And because of that right there, that makes it a bad movie. Its intentions are not clear.
But "Chasing Liberty" is a nice recovery for Mandy Moore. This is the lighthearted, commerical, mainstream teen comedy we were expecting "How to Deal" to be. Not the depressing "Crossroads" carbon copy it turned out to be.
"Chasing Liberty" mostly works because of its stars. In particular Mandy Moore. She just seems to glow on-screen. She has a very natural presence to her. And there are moments when this "Roman Holiday"-ish movie for the kiddies demonstrates Moore's ability.
The movie has Moore playing Anna Foster, the President's daughter. And she is fed up with the secret service, consisting of Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra, taking away her freedom and not allowing her to lead the life of a "normal" teenager. So Anna decides to somehow break away and have at least one day's worth of shall we say "liberty"?
She soon finds herself in the company of Mathew Goode, a British photographer. And the two go on a "mad cap" adventure.
As I watched the first say hour of the film I enjoyed it. I thought it was light and breezy but after a while I just got a little tired of it. I wonder if the film could have been shorten? If it could avoid some of the cliches.
Even though the movie admittedly has problems, it's still worth being seen by certain audiences. Mostly the younger teen crowd or Mandy Moore fans. It's fun to watch if you can get past its faults. Luckily I did.
Bottom-line: Fun if not predictable teen comedy, but still worth while. Mandy Moore makes a nice recovery after the awful "How to Deal" and displays a large amount of star power.

Smiles of a Summer Night
Smiles of a Summer Night
VHS
3 used & new from CDN$ 32.25

1 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Bergman Gives Us Lots To "Smile" About, May 28 2004
The first time I saw "Smiles of a Summer Night" I thought is was an OK film, nothing more, nothing less. I was use to seeing the powerful, bleak, gritty dramas such as "Shame", "The Seventh Seal", "Wild Strawberries", and "A Passion of Anna". "Smiles" was entertaining, but not memorable. It just didn't have the lasting power those other films had.
I have now seen the film again. And while maybe it is true this movie does not have the lasting power Bergman's other films have, that does not mean you shouldn't see it.
"Smiles of a Summer Night" is actually pretty funny, and I don't just mean by Bergman's standards. It succeeds on its own as a comedy-of-manners.
The only other Bergman comedy I have seen is his vastly underrated "The Devil's Eye". Between the two I prefer "Eye", but "Smiles" still has its own charm.
Fredrik Egerman (Gunnar Bjornstrand) is married to Anne (Ulla Jacobson) and is having an affair with actress and former fling Desiree Armfeldt (Eva Dahlbeck). Too bad for Fredrik, Anne finds out. But Desiree is also seeing another man, Carl Magnus (Jarl Kulle) who is also married to one of Anne's friends, Charlotte (Margit Carlqvist), who also knows about he husband's "past time". Soon all of these people get together to spend a weekend in the country as Desiree throws a party in an attempt to win back Fredrik.
This all sounds very usually for Bergman, but, as I said he is able to pull it off.
Many may find the story-line resembles Woody Allen's "A Midsummer's Night Sex Comedy", and that's because this is what that movie was based on. Though I prefer Bergman's film to Allen's. Did you ever think Ingmar Bergman would make a better comedy than Woody Allen? I know it sounds odd, but wait until you see this film.
Bottom-line: One of director Ingmar Bergman's funniest films. Surpringly filled with quirky moments and likeable performances from some Bergman regulars. "Smiles of a Summer Night" is worth watching.

Elephant (HBO)
Elephant (HBO)
DVD ~ John Robinson
Prix : CDN$ 9.95
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 étoiles sur 5 An "Elephant" Never Forgets. And You May Never Forget This, May 12 2004
This review is from: Elephant (HBO) (DVD)
"Elephant" the Gold Palm winner at last year's Cannes Film Festival is a hard movie to react to. Even though I've seen it straight through I feel as if I missed something and need to see it again. I think after a second viewing I'll be able to fully comprehend the movie.
I'm familiar with both sides of the public's reaction to this movie. And I guess both make good cases. "Elephant" is a bit slow moving. Not exactly involving. There is no personal audience involvement. And I didn't relate to anyone in the film. I saw this with my sister and afterwards I said it was an interesting movie that I "think" I enjoyed. She said it was awful because the movie didn't resolve anything. It didn't tell us why the event happened. It didn't take me very long to respond back "what's the difference WHY it happened it simply DID happen." Do we really need to know why violence happens? I think this is what Gus van Sant was going for. Violence happens and while yes it's a terrible thing we may never be able to get it down to a science and explain why it happens.
"Elephant" despite some of its "flaws" has some interesting aspects. I liked the long unbroken camera shots. I liked the mood the film created, even though it seems many didn't. I enjoyed some of the performances and liked the music, which consist of "Moonlight Sonata". And above all "Elephant" does seem to be about something. It is exploring an issue. Granted many didn't like the way it explored that issue, but you can't deny it tried.
A movie like this is clearly going to divide people and only be enjoyed by a selective few. This is not everyone's "cup of tea". Those who going into the movie with a clear mind and are willing to go at the movie's pace will enjoy it. But the casual movie fan will find problems.
Bottom-line: Interesting film from Gus van Sant I needs to be seen more than once to fully comprehend. It's a difficult movie to watch and may challenge your patience but I think does have its rewarding moments.

Veronika Voss
Veronika Voss
VHS

4.0 étoiles sur 5 One of Fassbinder's Best, May 12 2004
This review is from: Veronika Voss (VHS Tape)
"Veronika Voss" is the noir\melodrama Hollywood never made, or is it the noir\melodrama Hollywood did make but Fassbinder borrowed from it?
I'm not quite yet a strong admirer of Fassbinder's work, though I'm getting there. I've seen a few of his films and they have all pleased me on different levels, but, "Veronika Voss" is one of the best films I've seen from Fassbinder. The other one is "The Merchant of Four Seasons" (easily one of the greatest films I've ever seen).
"Voss" immediately captures your attention with the beautiful black&white cinematography from Xaver Schwarzenberger.
"Voss" though may recall the classic Billy Wilder film "Sunset Boulevard", and maybe that's done on purpose. While it would be foolish to try and compare the two obviously "Veronika Voss" gets away with things Wilder's film could never have.
"Voss" tells the story of a once famous actress who was popular during WW2 and now finds herself a "has been". Whether she just has too much pride or is in denial I'm not sure, but she stands no real chance at a comeback. As it turns out Voss is addicted to morphine. It may even have been one of the reasons for her marriage to end. And just like "Sunset Boulevard" the former star finds herself attracted to a younger man. In this case Robert Krohn (Hilmar Thate). But the film, to me at least, isn't really a satire on the movie industry the way "Boulevard" was. "Voss" takes on the noir\melodrama. And does so in a very effective way.
Rosel Zech who play Voss does a great job. She maintains our interest for the entire lenght of the film and displays a wide range of emotions. And I also enjoyed Cornelia Froboess, who plays Robert's extremely understanding girlfriend. She adds some humor to the film.
If your just starting to get interested in Fassbinder's work "Veronika Voss" should win you over.
Bottom-line: One of the best films I've seen so far from Fassbinder. I loved the black&white cinematography and the performance from Zech. Fassbinder makes the film Hollywood forgot to.

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