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I am a college student who has some free time, and an insatiable, ravenous obsession with film. I have a wide variety of tastes and I try for quality films, and I almost never say Not Interested. I love mind bending films, screwball comedies from the 30's and 40's, romantic comedies, classic and low budget horror, coming of age films, silent slapstick, feel good, and generally 70's cinema. I rate films with a mixture of "What the film is" versus how much I enjoyed it. If you want to read about my opinions on modern film, here's a link to my column in my college newspaper:
Orson Welles was reportedly furious when this film was cut to smithereens by his studio, and his editor, Robert Wise, while he was elsewhere, filming in South America. He believed that this could have been better than "Citizen Kane," his magnum opus. While it's hard to be conclusive in that assessment, I can say that this film is just as big and concrete as his first. This film too looks at the lives of people through many years, and shows their transformations from idle youths to confident adults. The Amberson family members are comprised of a group of fascinating individuals who each want things they apparently can't have. The Industrial Revolution's evolution of technology leads to the family's undoing, as their neighbor's wealth grows and theirs' dwindles. Their matriarch and patriarch fall, the aunt and nephew often struggle against each other on escalating levels of cruelty, and relationships suffer for it. It's a beautiful film that obviously could have been much bigger, much darker in its take on the family. Sadly the original rough cut of the film was destroyed by the studio, probably to keep megalomaniac Welles from putting his film back together. This is an amazing addition to Welles' canon and is beautiful in both scope and story.
Based off of the titular BBC miniseries from several years prior, this American production features Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters in the lead roles. The film features dozens of iconic songs from the thirties and forties, several backgrounds painted from the original thirties musicals, and huge numbers akin to the heyday of MGM. Throughout the film the actors lip sync to the iconic singing of people like Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby, The Boswell Sisters, and Ruby Vallee. Though the actors in this film do not sing, they are very talented performers. Steve Martin learned tap dancing for six months in preparation, Peters is a Broadway mainstay, and Christopher Walken had been trained in tap dancing prior, giving one of the more astounding performances of his career. The story follows Martin as music sheet salesman Arthur as he cheats on his wife, runs from the cops, and tries to find happiness in Depression Era America. The story is pretty grim, making Arthur's fantasies that much more heartbreaking. The juxtaposition illustrates that musical numbers really are fantasies in and of themselves, and the people going to see musicals during the Depression were trying to escape their disparity and poverty. Astaire reportedly hated this film because he believed that this period was innocent, and showing its realities was tawdry. In reality, this film was eye opening, and beautiful in its assessment of true life.
The first thing that everyone goes to, in lambasting this film, is the performance from vacant eyed starlet Lindsay Lohan as Liz Taylor. I would say that this film actually suffers most from compacting forty odd years into a 90 minute film without any exposition. Most of the film's events happen without clarification to when in time they occur, why they're important, or who the surrounding characters are. I would say that most of the people in this film can be identified by those who know the many loves of Elizabeth Taylor, but for anyone coming in blind, none of this film will make much sense. Characters, places, costume changes, are all thrown at you without explanation. There's a time jump of some ten years that's not explained, and then the film just ends. Lohan isn't the perfect Elizabeth Taylor, but then again Lifetime isn't the best venue for this film, in the first place. Lohan has problems with her accent work, but besides that she seems to be really trying throughout. She and Grant Bowler (Burton) have monologues, (possibly from heaven) and there's one in particular where Lohan shows real emotion and bravado in her acting that I haven't seen from her in some time. That scene gave me hope for Lohan's future endeavors, and showed that beneath the bleary eyed stare she still cares about her work. Bowler also gives his all, even with the corny poetry and his weirdly perverted take on seduction. If you like watching train wrecks, this may be the film for you.
This quirky little gem looks at the subject of being an outsider in a world that demands progress, perfection, and its geniuses to be sane. Wannabe musician Jon (Gleeson) joins an alternative musical group headed by Frank, (Fassbender) who wears a large doll head and has an obvious mental disorder. Several other bandmates are also inclined to mental fits, including Don, who sometimes tries to throw himself into the sea. The film itself is very mellow, infusing really strange yet enlivening music into scenes that are often quiet and have bereft, disengaged characters. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a disaffected young woman named Clara who gives Jon and Frank perspective on their choices, and also gives a performance that may be the best of her career. Fassbender is just the right balance between kooky artist and alienated outsider. In the end the message is pretty clear: if you want to be different, that's okay, but sometimes choosing that over reality will hurt more than help you. The middle drags quite a bit, but otherwise I found this entertaining and just the right amount of quirky.