Ralph Breaks the Internet
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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All Critics (31)
| Top Critics (15)
| Fresh (26)
| Rotten (5)
| DVD (4)
This exacting and sumptuous restoration of Max Ophüls's last film, from 1955, recovers not just the movie's look but also its meaning.
The matters that made the real Lola an extraordinary woman are omitted completely; we are given only the picture of a woman turned to sexual adventuring by her mother's callousness.
Watch Lola Montes and you may never watch a movie the same way again.
Lola Montes is mainly a triumph of vibrancy and metaphor. Nonetheless it's quite an experience.
Seen on a big screen, this is a movie to get drunk on.
Max Ophüls' 1955 masterpiece gets a superb restoration.
"...lingers as a sensational fever dream."
The net result is pure Ophuls, his signature recognizable in nearly every scene and, despite its very poor initial reception, one hell of a movie.
as Lola, Martine Carol should compel our attention, but instead merely toys with it
Ophuls... contrasts the outrageous sensationalism of her reputation... with offstage moments of tender candor and poignant, poetic flashbacks
With all due respect to film critic Andrew Sarris, Max Ophüls' legendary Lola Montès is not 'the greatest film ever made.'
Ophüls' style co-stars, paralleling and reinforcing stage artificiality with tracking and crane and pan shots, fluidly tilting to emphasize romance as opposed to "reality."
The recently restored version as originally intended by Ophüls is a sumptuous chef-d'oeuvre. The production design, costumes, the fluid camerawork, the wonderful script, everything is remarkable from the first shot to the last, a great pleasure for the eyes and the heart.
Too much old-fashioned romance for my tastes, but the sets and use of color are gorgeous. The film's most interesting aspect is not its unremarkable tale of a seductive, Evita Peron-like character who became a notorious scandal in Europe, but the plot's added framework: the presentation of Lola's exploits as an impossibly ornate circus show, with Peter Ustinov as the grandiloquent ringmaster. Watching Lola negotiate her way through the various shifting tableaux is what's truly dazzling.
Otherwise, "Lola Montes" concentrates on frame composition and lavish sets almost to a fault. There are very few tight shots of the characters, and thus an emotional intimacy is missing. We don't connect with the players. It doesn't help that Martine Carol isn't much of an actress.
Little thought is usually given to a movie's framing device, as it is normally just a jumping off place to tell the story.("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" being a particular exception to this rule.) What the mesmerizing "Lola Montes" does is reverse that by staging most of its action in its lavishly decorated present while skipping around in the past. This is still not as unusual as Peter Ustinov speaking French.
Trapped in the present as the main attraction in a circus, Lola Montes(Martine Carol) spends each night reliving the events of her scandalous life, starting with her mother(Lise Delamare) abandoning her after the death of her father, a British colonial officer. Lola ends up making her way from one end of Europe to the other, as an actress and dancer. In the meantime, she romances some of the most renowned men of her time including Franz Liszt(Will Quadflieg).
I thought at first the circus might be in hell but it turns out only in a figurative, not a literal sense, as she answers questions from the paying customers while trying to maintain her dignity. While questioning who is the real freak, the movie says quite a lot about those of us sitting in the peanut gallery who live our lives vicariously through somebody like Lola who lived life to the fullest and had lots of fun. That's not to mention that the sex was probably pretty good, too. While in the present, Lola might not be on top anymore, at least the film's director Max Ophuls went out on top with "Lola Montes," his exemplary final film.
Well, I love Ophuls but the Fox Lorber DVD sucks - maybe Criterion will release this by which time I will have done my due diligence and upgraded my crap 27" screen.
Although it had moments of brilliance -, for the most part I found this flick very stilted and lacking the usual Ophuls' grace and charm. Some high hopes dashed.
Update 2009 - OK I saw the latest restoration on a big screen - and the net gain is one half a star. There is no getting around the fact that this was a troubled, compromised production as well as Ophuls' first foray into color and Cinemascope. Among many flaws - I found the image distortion of the wide-screen format and Ophuls' ever moving camera to be highly imcompatible.
That being said - the circus scenes and Peter Ustinov's performance are wonderful.
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