Posted on 12/09/13 11:07 AM
Fully utilizing the blue/orange color scheme, Scorsese has created the only well-made film, that I know of, with an anachronistic steampunk backdrop. This conjures a dreamlike childhood nostalgia which is compared to the timeless magic of early cinema.
"Hugo" starts off very whimsically with the story of Hugo Cabret, a precocious orphan who occupies the walls of a train station. We are treated to the character's story as well as some very enjoyable acting from the ensemble cast, the most notable being Sacha Baron Cohen's refreshing and layered performance in contrast to his more notorious personas. The film later transitions to a story of film itself by orbiting around the work of Georges Melies, a filmmaker Scorsese obviously has much admiration for.
The two stories, that of the plot revolving around the character Hugo and the plot revolving around Melies, feel rather discrete. Obviously they are interconnected but one feels like Scorsese trying to tell a Truffautesque story of nostalgic innocence while the other is like a rushed yet unmitigated love letter to the magic of early cinema, with Hugo and Tabard as Scorsese's doppelgangers, respectively.
As a whole, "Hugo" is quite an airy, ethereal experience, expected as it is made from the hands of such a creative and skilled filmmaker. Its complementarity, where it feels like two completely different movies with one being vastly superior, is just a bit too potent for my taste.
Posted on 12/09/13 01:15 AM
Visually, "The Shining" is one of the most gorgeous, inspiring, and atmospheric films ever made. Never has another film so emanated and exemplified Kubrick's virtuosity with the camera, most notably his captivating dolly shots, symmetrical dolly-zooms, wide-angle lens, and steadicam. They're all done so beautifully to portray the vast emptiness and hollow luxuriousness of the massive and labyrinth Overlook Hotel.
The hotel is simultaneously animated, with its bright lights, wooden furniture, and carpets featuring menacing patterns, into a claustrophobic and unnerving prison. There's just something about the way the seats are placed and the rooms constructed that makes the setting so wonderfully creepy. The minimalist ambient soundtrack, reverb of certain lines spoken in big rooms, and outstanding cinematography (Mr. DP is Garrett Brown, the inventor of the steadicam himself) are also unforgettable.
However, I exhibited a great deal of cynicism towards the convoluted intricacies of the story. On the note of what the film was actually about, there's literally no novel insight I can write right now that hasn't already been mentioned on any analysis of this film somewhere on the web. In a nutshell, the key to "understanding" or "cracking" this film lies in the themes of mirror duality, children's cartoons and innocence gone bad, mazes, symbolism that may include the act of strangling, paternal vs. sexual love, and the fact that many people, perhaps even the Overlook Hotel, possesses the ability to "shine."
From this perspective, my own analysis of this film resulted in *I guess this is a spoiler but with this film being a cultural icon, a classic, and 32 years old, it's your own fault for not seeing it and then reading a review on it, lol* most of the horrors being projected by Danny's psyche because of his suppressed abuse by his father being summoned by the Overlook via the shine (how else would you explain the terrific naked-woman-turned-rotting-fairy scene where there are numerous cuts to Danny drooling and oscillating in a trance-like state?) We've now excavated "The Shining"s hidden subplot about a father who has brutally ignored his duties, embraced his vices, and is now facing his comeuppance by his son; and that's only a start. But, in a psychoanalytic perspective this film seems to work on many other levels, and the themes of mirrors in this film (it turns out that Kubrick's famous symmetrical shots may have a deeper meaning) also take on an important role which harkens back to the Jungian-inspired work of Fellini, which is always welcomed. An example may include the shots of the hotel gradually becoming darker and more maze-like as it approaches the end of the film, eventually becoming a menacing reflection (or reveal) of itself.
Anyway, even though the plot itself does make sense in a cohesive way, I'm just here to question if this sort of requirement of rigorous analysis is a necessity for enjoying the film. In other words, where is the pay-off? Even as I watch the film over and over again, only the original analysis was actually fun; the scenes and frames may take on a new meaning but, suddenly, in another viewing, they're still the same as always. Even then I feel the film itself possesses a duality, in terms of either enjoying it aesthetically or in the sterile environments of a lab. I couldn't even appreciate Kubrick's amazing crane shot of the miniature model of the maze; I only thought "note to myself that 'x' is 'x.'" Are encrypted puzzle-pieces in film really something that make them great? Or, is the superficial appeal of a film, which here would be the amazing Kubrickesque style, only an invitation to solve it? For reference I never cared for "Donnie Darko" simply because I was not very impressed by its nostalgic indie sci-fi romance appeal and didn't think its deeper puzzle, which doesn't even come close to the intricacy as "The Shining"s, brought too many layers of enjoyment to change my thinking of it. I'm OK with complex films, such as many of the more convoluted film noirs, since they still have a direction. Some puzzles, on the other hand, seem to be a reward in themselves completely independent of my enjoyment of what film can offer. Then again, it's still a valid use of the medim.
So, even though an analysis of a story that requires one is fun, it seems to be a different type of enjoyment. It does not budge my opinion that it is Kubrick's impeccable direction and technique, as well as his talent for creating resonating, memorable, and haunting images, which elevate "The Shining" into the reputed horror/suspense masterpiece that it is so lauded for today. Treat it as a puzzle-piece if you will, but that's only an added bonus yet a free one at that. So you might as well solve it!
Posted on 12/09/13 01:04 AM
Now this is what I'm talking about! Imaginative and involving film-making that completely encapsulates you; "Chronicle" is a genre-bending, beautifully told "descent"-themed story which triumphs as a fantasy film.
My main pleasure is in how "Chronicle" succeeds where "The Matrix" and "Wanted" fails as high-concept sci-fi/action films: both films launch themselves with such stimulating, promising premises (which, in the case of "The Matrix" is deeply philosophical) yet degrade into shoot-em-up video game action. "Chronicle," on the other hand, while staying true to its fascinating premise, pivots around a grounded story of a high school senior's deadly angst and the way it unfolds.
Admittedly, the premise of this film may not be as revolutionary or grand as the ones introduced in "Matrix" or "Wanted;" however, "Chronicle" takes a wholly unique route that stays true to sci-fi by utilizing a "what-if?" premise, one which we have all thought about and perhaps even fantasized about (and in that respect the premise is simply better on a personal, human level,) as an immensely powerful plot-driver.
This movie is heart-breaking! Anybody who's been through high school will relate to Andrew in some way! The characterization isn't lofty, but it's strong enough to tell the story this film wants to tell; besides, the playful screenwriting already creates a world inhabited by characters we are already familiar with.
Thrilling, well-made, and exceptionally acted are among various adjectives that can describe this movie, but even then this movie may appear to be slow in its pace; it has to be in order for its darker turns to be all the more stunning... so don't watch this film if you're, like, stupid. But, if you're somebody who can immerse him/herself and go with the flow of a film while sporting a taste for human joy, plight, vengeance, friendships, a sci-fi backstory, hormonal high-school melodrama, etc, then "Chronicle" has to be a film to check out.
Posted on 12/08/13 11:40 PM
I think the snot part did it in for me.
Posted on 8/14/13 01:42 AM
"Eyes Wide Shut" is yet another severely misunderstood film by Kubrick, whose attention to detail and ability to enrich the content of his films should be taken into consideration whenever watching his work. I haven't read the book that this film is based on, but, truth be told, any Kubrick fan would know by now that his films evidently deviate greatly from their literary source; one of Kubrick's greatest strengths is taking a simply framework of a story and making it into his own, and usually, if not always, into a work of magnificence and bravura.
The film works on various levels that makes it such a unique and incredible experience. Aesthetically, the nightmarish noir-like lighting and beautiful nighttime cinematography of Kubrick's version of the deranged underbelly of a city are top-of-the-line eye candy, not to mention the beautiful ethereal soundtrack featuring Shostakovich. As an intense suspense thriller, 'Eyes Wide Shut' almost reaches the same terrifying horror as 'The Shining,' with the main scenes of Cruise's character encountering a cult being genuinely scary and the sprawling ambiguous danger looming in the aftermath always keeping us on the edge of our seats. And, for intellectual stimulation, Kubrick uses his film as an exceptional study of the human libido, jealousy, paranoia, obsession, and, perhaps, even affection.
All these elements come together in the oneiric world of 'Eyes Wide Shut,' one that operates almost on dream logic. And, like all Kubrick films, the real fun and blissful cinematic enjoyment comes through when the viewer takes the extra step in digging underneath the superficial events that simply occur to discover the various layers and dimensions which the film operates. The aforementioned nightmarish lighting and cinematography potently add to the dream-like setting, with various juxtapositions between shots of the dark cult underbelly of human society and with Cruise's vastly different family life or the classy patrician function in the beginning suggesting a discrete world that operates on corrupting memories.
The aftermath of the cult scene, which goes all the way to the film's ending, is so shrouded in ambiguity, paranoia, and a contorted whodunit story brilliantly synthesized with a shaky verisimilitude that it further adds to the oneiric quality of the plot; we don't know who objectively killed whom, if people we don't hear of again are even alive, how the cult operates or what they even truly are, etc. Kubrick makes our experience just as disorienting, bizarre, and nebulous as Cruise's in the film. Nothing is irrevocably concrete. In fact, I personally think Cruise's character imagined the one bit with him bumping into a gang of rude chauvinistic late-night chavs raunchily teasing his sexuality, a manifestation of his lecherous thoughts of adultery formed after the fallout of an undesirable conversation with his wife regarding her libido as well. The fact that the bit took place with only Cruise as the witness, I believe, supports this interpretation. Who knows, it's speculative and uncongealed, which only adds to the fun. Take notes, David Lynch.
On this fascinating note, I'm surprised comparisons between this film and "The Master" have not been made yet, or at least ones that I've yet to hear of, for the latter film also utilizes a plot about the dynamics of a cult to explore some rather determined themes of sexuality, the human libido, and what we'd do for affection and security.
Alternatively, on a more awkward note, but one that must be confronted, I'm also writing this review from the motivation of my noticing that, were I to not write a review in a given amount of time, apparently RT will automatically bump my older reviews without my consent? Please stop that. It's fairly annoying and inane. I would rather not have my page always be composed of the same handful of reviews that have been occupying my page literally for months. When I take the time to finally write a new review because I want to, since I personally think this is an excellent site for film discourse, that's the review which I want to be featured on my reviews page, one that should work by chronological logic. Not to just have it bumped down with my older reviews, ones I still obviously care for but me simply exhibiting a very common behavior of moving on with my life, taking the spotlight for eternity; it's as if I shouldn't have even bothered to write any new reviews. If I wanted them bumped back up, I would do it myself. Please fix this...
Posted on 5/09/13 02:17 PM
Movies don't get better than this. This film combines the alluring drama of a classic Hollywood system with the bravura intellect and outspoken passion of a young Kubrick. It's an intense war film shot and containing the screenplay of a man flipping off the hypocrisy and jaded heartlessness that human beings are capable of- Kirk Douglas's line of his being ashamed of "the human race" could never be more justified from the events he had to endure. But, like A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick demonstrates that the Kafkaesque events of our lives, the ones consistently tormenting us and our inability to do anything about it, is caused by our fellow man. Note the tracking shots of the trench utilizing linear perspective to look like walls trapping us. Now pay attention to the firing squad shots, also linear perspective, where the walls are replaced by soldiers and eventually aimed rifles. Ha.
Also fascinating is the lieutenant's drunkenness and how the events of his nightly skirmish unfolded. Kubrick uses this to show us this small slice of how humanity can blunder. It's a fundamental point he wants to place in our head. Roget is clearly not fit for his authoritative position and hides his own weaknesses with the red tape his position grants him. The horrific act he commits is, in the end, just an accident of cowardice. The difference is he lets this get to him and Kubrick shows that even an expressed personality of cowardice is preferable to no genuine personality or feeling at all. That lieutenant's pathetic yet heartfelt apology to Paris is worth infinitely more than all the deceptive and self-centered blabber of the Generals.
He's more human than the stoic Generals and courts that so believe in their innocence, ability, and values that they earnestly believe in their disgusting blamelessness. Couple this with a complete inability to feel compassion for human beings, where the court scene exposes how the accused's entire worths as people, known to be capable of bravery and love, are judged solely on a single action clearly out of their control, and you've got a hell of a conspiracy being cooked by men not even realizing that they are.
I'll end here since nearly every scene is so strongly written, directed, and acted to fuel the film's impossibly potent punch. But, the ending needs to be noted. There's always something about it that grabs me emotionally like no other work I've ever seen. The first time we actually see ANY of the "enemy", it's a somber song being sung by what's essentially a trapped bird in a different language no less, devoid of the needlessly complex and deceptive red tape formed by our native tongues. No wonder the men in that tavern could relate, especially after the entire film demonstrating what they all essentially had to endure.
One of my favorite shots of this film is when the three accused are being strapped onto their posts before being executed. It's a very wide shot that shows the unfeeling yet beautiful skies and trees. To escape and reconnect with such nature is so close yet impossibly far away. The ending scene speaks to us all because it gives us that ability to connect and escape into such organic beauty sung from an angel who is trapped herself. Like all of Kubrick's films, he contrasts his restrained and geometrical visual style with moments of staggering human meaning and juxtaposes both the evils and goods that are in us. Even if the courses of our lives are futile, as Kubrick implies many times in this and in all his films, he adamantly refuses to give up hope.
Posted on 2/18/13 06:08 PM
The only Marx Brothers film I have seen up to date is "Duck Soup," a very witty and sprawlingly messy film where a viewer immediately gets the appeal of the humor of the Marx Brothers, where it's more or less a barrage of absurd yet witty jokes constantly bombarding you in the hopes that, hey, some of them'll hit!
But, I never expected the second film of theirs I would see, "A Night at the Opera," to not only be a funny ride but a thrilling and emotionally involving one as well. It's like an excellent Buster Keaton flick; in fact, the last movie I've seen with so much charm, thrill, wit, timing, action, and romance was Keaton's "The General" or "Steamboat Bill Jr."
Even though the film has the Marx trademark of ridiculous witty jokes constantly thrown at you (I try to say that in the best light possible,) they somehow managed to work in a romance that's touching enough for the ending to be emotionally satisfying, even if said romance felt a bit forced at first. In addition, the extremely blunt and crude editing gives the film an unintentional gritty realism that makes the array of stunts in the film's climax surprisingly heart-pounding, where you simultaneously want to laugh yet, as was with my reaction, are legitimately concerned for the well-being of the actors. Throw in two or three skits that are genuinely extremely funny and by the end of the film your throat will be sore from the laughter and excitement. There's even a very sincere and slowed down musical instrument scene on a boat, involving Chico and Harpo, that's so solemn and tender that you can't help but be surprised at realizing the amount of heart this film has (surely an influential moment as well, even having homage paid to it by greats like Fellini in "E la nave va.")
All in all, "A Night of the Opera" is a thoroughly entertaining film, and an impressively layered one as well, that's much better than your average comedy flick.
Posted on 2/18/13 06:07 PM
Sergio Leone has pretty much defined the perception of Westerns in today's culture with his idiosyncratic take on it. For the longest time I've refused to accept Spaghetti Westerns as true Westerns, seeing them only as bastardized, bloated, sensationalized parodies of the beloved American genre. Which, in a sense, they were. However, Leone's Dollars trilogy is still composed of three mindblowingly kick-ass films. So, I've compromised and decided that even though Spaghetti Westerns clearly differentiate from the traditional Western as much as they are derivatives, that doesn't mean they haven't earned their place to be equals, or even superiors, in every way.
"The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" is the final film of the Dollars trilogy, which started with a pale imitation of "Yojimbo" (Fistful,) improved vastly with the impeccable "For a Few Dollars More," and finally peaked with Leone's personalized, auteuristic, bravura masterpiece. This slippery slope to greatness features a filmmaker who is constantly evolving and improving on his craft. Eastwood's "man with no name," opportunist-vigilante-with-a-heart-of-gold archetype started as a gunslinging mimicry of Mifune's ronin and, perhaps, even Alan Ladd's Shane; "Fistful" was more or less Eastwood being badass for an hour and a half. By the time of "More," he's involved in a much more layered story, finally emerging as a manifestation of a conscience or an angel, dishing out tough love with his colt and, presumably, his massive girth.
In "Good," Eastwood's character is even treated to a character arch when he witnesses the inane slaughter of confederate and union soldiers by their mutually bellicose hands. He transforms from the opportunist bounty hunter to an opportunist bounty hunter who has at least realized his place in a larger, humanist context. The two prior main conflicts in the trilogy, offered by megalomaniac, cutthroat gangs and an antagonist also possessing great skill at his craft, manifest into Van Cleef's character, the "Bad." Nothing too complex here; however, Leone perfectly presents a villain pristine for a great story. We're introduced to Van Cleef's character, see him do something awful which infringes our sense of justice, and, for the rest of the film, we hate him and hope that our heroes stop him. No mitigation or meandering that a good amount of modern films would do in ruining a perfectly good bad guy.
The jewel of the crown would be the mediator, in a sense, of the two, Wallach's character Tuco, the "Ugly." In "More," Leone breaks new ground by actually having an internal conflict in a character's backstory (Van Cleef's broken heart and vengeful drive to find inner peace by killing his nemesis in addition to being a ruthless yet wise bounty hunter.) In "GBU," Tuco is a character who not only exhibits uncanny mastery of the firearm, keeping true to the trilogy's spirit of showcasing superhuman abilities, but who has also been written a superb backstory with depth. Carrying a swashbuckling attitude, a selfish greed which flirts too much with the itch to betray, and having no sense of altruism whatsoever, Tuco seemed like a character to be vilified until we learn of his past concerning his family issues. Pretty refreshing stuff for a film featuring people shooting at each other for three hours. Add a remarkable relationship between Tuco and Eastwood's character, one which grew out of a previous one of deceit, ambiguity, torture, and profit, as well as a MacGuffin treasure box which brings these three characters together, and we now have a story that is rich in addition to being thrillingly entertaining.
Clearly the film is very character driven and it's the turmoils and complex reciprocation among these characters which make this film such a wild treat. But, just as laudable are Leone's talent at milking any sequence dry for its suspenseful tension and his ability of aiding that with his incredible montage techniques, which, in my opinion, are so sophisticated and brilliant in their simplicity and bluntness that they harken back to Eisenstein's mastery. Themes from traditional Westerns such as camaraderie or the individual pitted against society are turned inside out to emphasize awesome shootouts. Toss Ennio Morricone, who more or less composed our current musical imagery of the West, usurping the folk music of Ford's films, into the mix and cinematic magic is born in a film which easily lives up to its impossibly high hype.
Posted on 2/18/13 06:06 PM
"Inglourious Basterds" is so damned entertaining yet I can't help but constructively criticize it as well as Tarantino. He has reached a sort of sacrosanct position among contemporary cinephiles and this film clearly shows why. The dialogue is impeccable; it's both digressive yet gripping while being crucial to the storytelling, all the while carrying a John Watersesque attitude. Various camera angles are exhausted to their full potential to create suspense and all the players feel like they're having a great time, most notably with Waltz and Pitt. And, the pop culture references. Oh the references!
Alas, I can't help but feel QT, at least in this film and some of his more recent ones, is a technical wizard who, in the end, can't manufacture any humanity or soul. Never have I seen a more smoothly constructive film that at its very core is so problematic and offputting. Every scene feels like they're in competition to be more memorable than the next; the need for shock value and surprises are permeated so much that everything becomes decontextualized. There is no moral attitude simply because we're watching a filmmaker too distracted by his own having a good time being exploitative and fetishistic to consider one.
In the bar scene, we're introduced to various characters with immediate backstories introduced via rather garrulous and lengthy dialogue, making them all relatively memorable. Tension is cued between Fassbender and Diehl, which erupts in just about everybody getting killed with breakneck montage editing.
You know what this feels like? I picture Tarantino on his computer feeling rather raunchy as he edits the frames of his film, building characters he knows we would have some degree of attraction towards so he can later pick them off. It's like a child building a jenga, clay, or lego building, something intricate and organized, just to indulge in destroying it in psychoanalytically Freudian behavior with the guise of historical revisionism giving Tarantino the exploitative leeway to do anything that appeases him. The Nazi, or really World War 2 in its entirety, gimmick in this context especially feels like a creepy infatuation; that goes without saying.
In this respect I see Tarantino as extremely indulgent, even more than Fellini after he made countless masterpieces to finally make "Satyricon." Gone is the restrained irony, novelty, pacing, labyrinth structure, and the usage of violence as a means rather than an end of "Pulp Fiction" in QT's more recent hits, for he has instead invested in stylistic abuse that teeters between auteristic stamp and self-parody.
QT tries to pluck the heartstrings of the audience like Hitchcock and he succeeds, being able to conjure any emotion he wants at the touch of a button. Melodramatic devastation? Let's kill off Shoshanna and the soldier who has a crush on her by having them shoot each other with romantic music being blasted. Now cut! Go back to the Basterds for a cool action scene. Now comic relief! Have Pitt and Waltz say funny things to each other! Now climactic moment with the theater being burned! Lighting and dialogue to give Shoshanna's martyr boyfriend a noble death! Now let's have more scenes in foreign languages to so titillate the monolingual ears of an American audience or to indulge in a moment of multicultural pretense!
You're just endlessly distracted to a point where you can't take a moment to think about what's happening; it never ends. Then, when you make the attempt of giving the film a meaning, you witness Tarantino making a film displaying neurotic Jews, from the heart of the U.S., and Allies doing most of the brutal killing, with an ending featuring an insane evil genius getting his forehead carved in by a Jewish-American country boy. Standout moments include the recently fathered German soldier's orating about tough times and war not given the courtesy of sympathy-inducing subtitles. But never mind that; it's not like he's a human being anyway.
Ah, an attempt to pull the witty satirical touch of Verhoeven. Surely securing this film a higher position among those who enjoy satire, patronizing the average moviegoer who simply views this film as a WW2 comedy/fantasy championing a preferred rewrite of history. The schism is vastly too potent between the black satire, which is admirably great, and the shallow surface of the film which is the violent fairy tale most people would view the movie for; progressive understanding/esoteric comprehension comes vis-a-vis with a histrionic joyride, the former taking a backseat to the latter (remember when "Inception" was supposed to give us a deeper grasp of philosophy and existence? Yea I don't either.) The point being that if QT really had something to say, which is overwhelmingly evident, he utterly undermines his own pseudonoble cause, cowardly laying out his statement as he beguiles his audiences into thinking they're watching what the film is promoted as (or just wanting to have it both ways with his frenzied playtime and a worthlessly presented intellectual statement time perhaps just so he can claim to others in the future that it was made.) That's sort of a promotion of elitist condescension, no?
This point is demonstrated hilariously by none other than QT himself. In an interview with Eli Roth, Roth states of how, for the longest time, he has fantasized of murdering Nazi soldiers as a result of his own heritage. His fantasy meets fulfillment as he plays the "Bear Jew" who bashes a Nazi officer's head (a patriotic character who probably had an unrelated role to the Holocaust atrocity) in with a basement bat then, in an adrenaline rush, allegorically pretends he's in a baseball game. In fabricating this satire, did Tarantino just clandestinely backstab his own friend, aggressively mocking Roth's values? Did he really surreptitiously subjugate his friend's views while elevating himself on a higher loft? (The answer is yes.)
On the other hand, the more comforting route would probably be the film simply having no deeper meaning and just intending to be a revenge fantasy trying to be as brutal as possible. But on some strange mutant third hand, I really don't care about the melodramatic and sterile world of QT's commercialized bloodlust. As for the score, 10% for what the film means to me and an added 50% for the objective score of the movie's technical aspects and the ways it has touched and provided much joy to many other people (just unfortunately not me.)
Posted on 2/18/13 01:20 AM
Lillian Gish gives an inspiring and masterful performance in "Broken Blossoms," Griffith's film about an interracial romance during a time when phobia against Asians was at plague-like levels. Though many films of today depend on camera techniques and modern editing to create tension in scenes, Gish's acting just about singularly creates the necessary tensions and tones that are carried scene after scene. Her character, along with Barthelmass's pitiful and, ironically, ignorantly named "Yellow Man" character (well, small steps...) serve as glimmers of innocence in the dark and glum Limehouse area the film is set in (it's even said that the dark and gritty environment of Battling's shack, though primitive and stale, is a precursor to noir.)
The themes are at a minimum but still conspicuous enough to be amusing. Cheng the "Yellow Man" precociously, and naively, aspired to spread Buddha's message of peace to the West while a western missionary intended to spread the message of Christ to the East with packets on the subject of hell. Subtle social commentary on the peaceful methods of the East, abstractly seen as innocence embodied by Cheng, being stifled by the intimidation methods of the West (the recurring motif of bells is also a welcomed feature.) Battling, the antagonist, and his brute, xenophobic conduct serves as a great opposite to Cheng's timid, oppressed nature.
The iris shots, tinting, and general nebulous look of many silent films, meshed with a tranquil score, lend a visually and rhythmically dreamy quality that is very present in "Broken Blossoms;" this was really a joy to watch and just a delightful piece of oneiric escapism. But, what really makes this film is, again, Lillian Gish. Her cradling a baby doll in an allusion to the Madonna or hysterically sobbing before being beaten by her draconian, amoral father makes this film sensational. The way she plays with her eyes, her facial features, and her body language is all fantastic, especially during a time when flat, stationary camera angles and prolonged, uncut shots demanded innovative and immaculate performances from actors and actresses.