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Rating History

Amadeus (1984)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Such passion, such hatred, such pain. Those are the feelings that haunt Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), the protagonist and tortured hero of Amadeus. The film begins with a man (Salieri) screaming, he is begging for forgiveness for killing Mozart. When his servants enter the room they see him attempting to commit suicide by cutting his throat. Next you see Father Volger (Richard Frank) walking into a mental hospital and he meets Salieri in his room, at first Salieri wants nothing to do with the Father, but he quickly opens up and tells him his confession. He was just a man with one dream: To be able to dedicate his life to and make great music. As a child Salieri is plagued by his strict father who wants his to get into business. His father chokes and dies during a meal, an event that Salieri calls a "miracle", with his father dead he is taken to Vienna and able to fully dedicate himself to music. Next the films jumps to him being an adult, also he is a court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joeseph II (Jeffrey Jones) which he is content with being. Next is the arrival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), a praised young composer who Salieri is a major admirer of. But when Salieri finds Mozart to immature and "vile" for his taste the loathing begins.

How does a three-hour film (180 minutes precisely) about a virtually unknown composer who has a violent jealousy of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart work? After I finished this film I took a little time to myself and thought that question over. What thrived most for me in this film is two different things: 1. The magnificent job Abraham and Hulce did at portraying their fascinating characters. That was a people simple reason. 2. The music!! Oh, the music!! Never has music taken over a film so much. Amadeus features more music than a musical with the music being from one of the greatest composers ever. That mix itself could create greatness, but Milos Forman wouldn't make the music work all alone. Milos Forman's masterpiece is widely considered One Flew Over The Cuckoos' Nest (1975). The film won 5 Oscars and is considered one of the great classics of films. I must respectfully disagree, One Flew Over The Cuckoos' Nest is a very, very good film but what keeps it from being a classic is the constant comparison it will get with the book of the same name by Ken Kesey. If it wasn't a book the film would easily be a classic, but since it is a book and you must always compare a film with the book and the book is so much greater. Ken Kesey's classic novel allows much more insight that the film, his book is able to have much deeper meanings that the film just didn't have the abilty to reveal.

Milos Forman's beautiful direction is perhaps and even stronger part of the film than Abraham and Hulce's performances. Forman is able to work with a time period thats beauty has a mind of its own. The outfits are outrageous, the women are gorgeous, and most of all the music was at a level that has never been matched. Fans of plays and musicals with be at home with Amadeus, Forman doesn't leave out any of Mozart's great work, he risked the film being too long so that he could rightfully direct the at times lengthy operas and that decision is one of his greatest. Amadeus features actual opera stars who are featured in the musical numbers, and how great those numbers are. Never have I ever had much interest in attending operas, maybe plays, but not operas. Now thanks to the great direction of Forman and the revolutionary music of Mozart I have finally been shown the truth about how wonderful operas can be when they feature such great music.

Mozart is one of the most known and praised composers of all time, his music is loved with such intensity worldwide. Never has his music left the world, its featured in movies, plays, and adapted into the ever changing music of today, but what most people know nothing of is Mozart's appearance or personality. His appearance and personality are nothing to remember, it is music that took him to immortality. As Amadeus rightfully shows us Mozart was a small man, thin and pale with a high-pitched obnoxious laugh. It is Mozart's laugh that truly haunts Salieri the most, it would haunt me also if I had to hear it continuously. My point is that unlike so many other films, plays etc. Amadeus doesn't portray Mozart as this handsome ravishing man who had no flaws, but instead shows how he appearance and personality had many flaws. Never has Mozart's music been used so wonderfully, Forman uses care and his love for the music to create a film that does nothing but good for his subject's music. The world can thank Milos Forman for helping bring Mozart and his music back into the spotlight, adding to his never fading popularity.

Tom Hulce as Mozart is a match made in film greatness. Yes, it is F. Murray Abraham as Salieri that gets all the attention (Abraham won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance). It is Tom Hulce that had the challenge of portraying Mozart, the man, the myth, the legend. What Hulce does with his character is remarkable, he makes him outrageous, but without being goofy or awkward feeling. Most of all he shows Mozart's passion and dedication us a the viewer are able to see what Salieri never is able to throughout the film. We see his endless working and love for the music he makes. Hulce also received an Oscar nomination for his performance, but it just wasn't meant to be. Although, just like the film his performance has aged very well, everyone that I know that has seen the film-- with is just about everybody-- absolutely loves the performance. The easiness and joy in his performance works very well with the dark, tortured performance by Abraham.

Now on to the performance that remains one of the most respected even 27 years later. F. Murray Abraham is Antonio Salieri, a man who is tortured by his mediocrity compared to the greatness of Mozart. Throughout most of the film we see Mozart from Salieri's point of view, his hatred for both the success and lifestyle of the young genius. Salieri is a passionate believer in God and God's ways. Us a viewers can relate to Salieri, because most of us are constantly trying to understand His ways, when wonderful things happen in our lives it is almost second nature for us to thing that God, in some way, made it happen. Maybe I am just thinking that my mind is like every one elses, but that is how I see most people's minds working. Abraham shows us Salieri's painful obsession with such sympathy that it i hard not to sympathize with him. Films run on being able to evoke strong emotions about their characters, ironically what makes Abraham's portrayal of Salieri is the lack of strong emotions. Salieri's plots against Mozart and his obsessions would usually make a viewer frustrated or maybe just make them consider him an insane man. If that happened viewers would not look into his character anymore and with his character being the heart of the film that would have hurt Amadeus tremendously. We know that none of that happened, Abraham does a wonderful job showing Salieri's obsessions while also showing him as a person, as a man who is a good person tortured by evil thoughts.

I know I have done some terrible rambling on the two star performances, but that is for very good cause. Both performances deserve endless praise, but I will take some time to talk about a couple smaller roles that had such a great effect on this film. Not much is known about Constanze, the beautiful, dedicated wife of Mozart. She was with him through all the ups and downs of his life and career. She is portrayed with care by Elizabeth Berridge. Her character loves Mozart to no end, none of his vast amounts of flaws ever strain her love for him. Constanze is the one character who has gotten a look at the true Salieri, she knows about his very hidden darkness. Jeffrey Jones as Emperor Joseph II is a minor role that has such an importance for the film. He is the authority figure over both Mozart and Salieri. He is the cause for both joy and anger on both of their parts. Jones' performance as the Emperor is both agressive and understanding. Lastly their is a performance that went unnoticed, but to me had a major impact on the flow of the film. That performance is Richard Frank as Father Volger. He has very few speaking lines and is only on screen for a few minutes total, but it is his facial reactions to the confession of the older Salieri that are a very powerful part of the film. Those reactions of a young religious figure hearing a story that would shock the world. That mere performance shows us how the smallest of roles can have such a powerful impact on a film. Acting in Amadeus is so wonderful that I am tempted to call it perfect, but I won't because I tend to get ahead of myself. When or if you finally see this film every part will touch a little something inside you, but the acting is what allows you to truly feel and understand those vast feelings.

If you are intimidated by the 180 minute run-time don't be. With two fascinating characters, great direction, and entrancing operas the time quickly drifts away. This is more of an opinion, but of the two main characters of the film it is Mozart--portrayed by Tom Hulce--that fascinated me the most. Unlike everyone else who just adored Abraham's role, don't get me wrong his performance is wonderful, very much worthy of the Oscar. But Amadeus is one of those rare films where both there lead actors deserved an Oscar, it got all the awards it deserved but the one that should have gone to Tom Hulce. Maybe that's why his performance took over me so much more, he didn't win the Oscar and is much overshadowed by Abraham. Ironically it's the complete opposite in the film. Milos Forman has some God given talent to be able to show such great beauty in such dark themes. Amadeus should be required viewing for film makers, there is not one flaw in the entire film. Milos is able to show each emotion from each character in its whole not just in limited points of views, but in ways where you can truly know the characters feelings. Amadeus stars like it will just be solely in the view of Salieri, but instead you see both Salieri and Mozart in ways where you get to truly understand and connect with them. Very loosely based on the lives of Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, historical accuracy is not of any real imortance. No Salieri did not murder Mozart, the risks this film took are miraculous, Milos Forman shows why he is a legend to the industry. Each scene in the film is acted to perfection, not a scene is put in without purpose. This si the film that has solidified Forman has a directing great. He had had some rough times since One Flew Over The Cuckoos' Nest, but now he has two films that are among the most celebrated in film history. F. Murray Abraham and Tom Hulce have great unforgettable performances, while Milos Forman's direction is considerate to the characters and passionate.

Brokeback Mountain
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

A heartbreaking story of truly forbidden love. Enis del Mar and Jack Twist fall in love, but a ignorant world makes them fear and hide their love. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give two of the greatest performances in the last twenty years. Brokeback Mountain is about two gay cowboys, that statement alone will turn many heads and cause many offensive comments. But Brokeback Mountain is much more than a film about gay cowboys. It is a film about a struggle, the struggle two gay men are faced with. The love between Jack and Enis is pure. Their love is so true and so powerful, but because they are gay they must hide in the shadows. Ang Lee's direction is emotionally haunting. Viewers that are able to see this movie for what it truly is will understand how wonderful this film is. Brokeback Mountain is an film filled with A-list actors like, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams. Each one of the young stars in this film have performances that will forever be remembered.

Brokeback Mountain is a fearless look into the 20 year love affair/struggle of two gay men spanning from the early 60s to the early 80s. The film is set mostly in Wyoming, an area that has always been a very anti-gay area. The film references the shockingly violent reactions to homosexuality in the area, and how it affects Jack and Enis' relationship. People spend their whole lives, and many ultimately fail at finding true love. Jack and Enis find true love but because it is with each other, it is forbidden, and their lives turn into a constant battle with their emotions.

Ang Lee gained worldwide acclaim for his sensational directing in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Brokeback Mountain is a complete 180 degree turn from those days, but is also a whole new achievement. One of the most beautifully shot films in the last 20 years. But a film cannot run completely of emotionally powerful direction, for a film to be great it needs strong acting. Highly emotional viewers please beware Brokeback Mounting is a emotional freight train. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall as the leads become household names. Both Ledger and Gyllenhaal gain recognition from very memorable, and entertaining performances. Ledger rose to fame as a result of his rebellious performance in 10 Things I Hate About You. Gyllenhaal gained international fame from his lead performance in the dark Sci-Fi thriller Donnie Darko. Ledger and Gyllenhaal have grown a lot since then, and in Brokeback Mountain their performances are two of the greatest ever.

Potential Spoilers
Enis del Mar (Heath Ledger) is a ranch hand, and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a rodeo cowboy. They are hired by Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to herd his cattle on Brokeback Mountain. Both Enis and Jack develop a very emotional relationship during their time on Brokeback Mountain. Their trip is cut short. Ennis marries his long-time fiancee Alma Beers (Michelle Williams) and fathers two children. Jack marries and starts a family with rodeo rider Laureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway). When the two meet again two years later they realize that they still have very strong feelings for each other. The decide to not keep a secret relationship. As the years go on their love becomes more and more of a struggle.

While its plot was controversial that did not keep people from flocking to see Brokeback Mountain when it came out. The film was a box office success making over 150 million worldwide. With Brokeback Mountain drawing in that many viewers, that definitely showed some significant maturing on our part. But controversy kept the film banned in many theaters across the U.S. and in various parts of the world. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. Unfortunately it was upset by the also controversial film Crash, that referenced modern day racism. Brokeback Mountain did win three Oscars, including Best Director for Ang Lee.

A wonderful adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story by the same name. Brokeback Mountain was nominated for over 70 awards winning over 50. It gained worldwide acclaim, and there is no denying the shear emotional power in this film. Emotion is needed in any great film, and many have suffered because of its lack. Each and every person involved in this film went out of their comfort zone and had to go to emotional extremes to play their parts. Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway were both known for their smaller and more comedic roles before this film. With Brokeback Mountain, they both were able to show off they acting talents, showing the world they have endless talents and range. I could ramble and gawke over the acting power and direction, but the experience is what will truly let the viewer understand the significance. Ang Lee's direction captures the emotion, but it is Ledger and Gyllenhaal that made Brokeback Mountain one of the most unforgetable emotional experiences.

Observe and Report
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

An anonymous flasher exposes himself to shoppers in the Forest Ridge Mall parking lot. The head of mall security, Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen), makes it his mission to catch the flasher. He is helped by Charles (Jesse Plemons), Dennis (Michael Pena), and the Yuen twins (John Yuan and Matthew Yuan). Ronnie's dream girl, Brandi (Anna Faris) is frashed the next day, and she becomes hysterical. Detective Harrison (Ray Liotta) comes and takes over the situation, this makes Ronnie very angry. Ronnie decides to take the case into his own hands.

A incredibly disgusting film where Seth Rogen is at his funniest, but a great performance by Rogen cannot save this crewd film. Observe and Report is a very dark and unpleasant experience. A cliche thing to say, but I found myself looking at the clock waiting for this film to end. Besides for Rogen Observe and Report has very few laughs. The perfect example of why you can't base and entire films laughs on dirty humor. Some of the most unfortunate, and unwanted nudity I have even had to sit through. Jody Hill tries to shock and awe viewers will dark humor, and a unique storyline, but instead creates and unfortunate film. The most suprising thing about this film is that even while the film is very tough to sit through, Rogen's performance still almost carries the film.

Jody Hill is the co-creator and executive producer of the HBO series Eastbound and Down. Eastbount and Down has dark humor and a very outrageous plot as like Observe and Report, but Observe and Report is not able to link together as well. Hill's first film The Foot Fist Way was seen by Adam McKay and Will Ferrell who bought the distribution rights. And also developed a cult following. Hill was allowed on the set of Knocked Up, and he fell in love with Seth Rogen's acting style. He became even more of a Rogen fan after the release of Superbad. Hill both directed and wrote the script for Observe and Report. Unfortunately it just didn't have as great of an effect as his previous work. Observe and Report's script is very poorly made. Hill's direction is well done, but the film is an absolute mess.

Seth Rogen's performance is one of the best and hilarious performances from a comedy since probably Steve Carell's in 40 Year Old Virgin. Besides for Rogen there are no other performances worth mentioning. Anna Faris as Brandi is a very untalented performance. Ray Liotta as Detective Harrison is nothing special, no lines or scenes worth mentioning. One performance does not keep a film in motion. Each time Rogen is off the screen this film just crashes and burns.

Observe and Report only grossed about 25 million in the box office, one of the lowest grossing films that Rogen has stared in. This film had plenty of hype. Rogen as the lead, the co-creator of Eastbound and Down as the director, and also starring Ray Liotta. But like soo many comedy films, it dissapointed. It seems like each year there are more and more gross-out comedies that are released. Hopefully this film will help people realize that these films very rarely work, but probably not. The amount of awful nudity in this film will make you have to check and make sure you are not at a Jackass film. Observe and Report is a film you need to brace yourself to sit through. A film Rogen fans will want to pass on, and if you are a Jody Hill fan you too will be disappointed.

Suspiria (1977)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Stylization at its finest, Suspiria is a horror film with all the right stuff to live on forever. But will it? Well as a recent viewer watching this film thirty-four years later I can say that it doesn't feel like the classic is was formerly considered as, but Suspiria hasn't lost very much of its flair or effect. Witches in film is not something that tends to receive much success or popularity, and for all the right reasons. Films about witches tend to be films that try to use the mythology of them to mess with the viewers mind rather than have any real substance or scares rightfully achieved. My love for film fills my heart when I am able to see a film that isn't afraid to attack the stereotypes that are given to specific genres of films and shed a new, wonderful light and change the thinking of us all. Suspiria does that. A witch has never seemed more terrifying, not riddled with the cliche maniacal laughing or the broomstick, and not even the casting of spells. Instead witches as portrayed as purely evil women who commit acts of violence to maintain a negative energy. Who in their right mind could tell me that Suspiria's view of witches isn't incredibly more chilling than the shameful portrayals in just about every other film with even the slightest hint of them. Roman Polanski's thriller Rosemary's Baby (1968) is one of the few exceptions, like this film Rosemary's Baby keeps much of the story a mystery until a shocking ending makes everything come together wonderfully. What makes this film in ways better than Rosemary's Baby though is that Argento uses his directing wizardry to create intense scares rather than mind burning inner thoughts.

An American ballet student, Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives in Munich, Germany in the midst of a major storm. She heads to a prestigious academy of dance in Friedburg, but is unable to gain access. While trying to get inside she sees a panic stricken student, Pat Hingle (Eva Axen). She is saying something, but the storm drowns out her words. Later that night Pat is brutally murdered by a mysterious man. The next day Suzy is able to get into the academy, and is introduced to Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) and Miss Tanner (Alida Valli). As she gets settled into the academy there are some very mysterious events that occur, and she slowly begins to realize that there is something horribly wrong going on.

Horror films are usually received with the harshest criticism and when a great one comes along they tend to be the quickest to drift away. So it is usually up to us a viewers and fans of film to keep they popularity a spirit alive. The Oscars and all of the major film festivals don't usually even consider horror films worthy of being mentioned, I guess that's why there have been numerous festivals dedicated solely to the horror genre. It pains me to admit this, but the cliched and sickening excuses for horror films that have come out, mainly in the last ten or so years have not done any good for the worldwide feelings about the genre. The pointless and continuous use of certain story lines and the over use of gore and nudity have made it to where even the greatest horror films seem painfully aged. But alas, Suspiria is one of the films that has been able to survive the onslaught that the genre has faced and to many it still remains a classic.

To end the saddening talk about horror cliches I will touch the subject of bad acting. Now we have reached something that not even this film was able to escape. Acting in Suspiria is not very good at all, actually the acting is very tolerable compared to most films of the same type. Too much emotion that is distracting, and dialogue that tries to be more clever than it needs to. That is what plagues this film, little things that are barely noticed thanks to the powering music that charges the suspense to levels out of this world. Italian rock band Goblin composed most of the musical scores for the film. A use of music to drown out much of the pointless stammering is one of the great successes for the film. I have never had any desire to hear non-stop screaming or begging for mercy; it works best in intervals. If given the choice to hear loud music with violent mumbling and terrifying chanting or the crying and screaming of an actress trying too hard, I would chose the the former every single time. Dario Magento co-wrote the script with Daria Nicolodi, the script keeps the premise very engrossing, but does not allow the actresses/actors (very few actors) to make anything of their performances. The best performance by far is by lead actress Jessica Harper. Now don't expect any memorable lines or deep charecterization, but her success comes from her use of emotion. Not false emotion like most young actresses trying to make a name for themself, but real emotion that viewers will be able to feel.

Italian director Dario Argento made a name for himself by showing his talents of making films in Giallo genre-- thriller and mystery. His popular successes came from the films, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1972). He then took a bit of a break and went into Italian TV for awhile. But when he returned, he returned with his best, Deep Red (1975). Deep Red by many is considered Argento's best film and it received instant acclaim. His use of mysterious direction that keeps the most fascinating secrets from the viewer all the way up to the end of the film. Also he is known as one of the few thriller directors who works just as hard on his scripts as on the scares in the film. Each of Argento;s film feauture true film making care and passion that shows itself on the screen, that's just the reason why he is one of the most respected thriller directors of all time with major cult followings.

Suspiria's concept is derived from the popular work of literature Suspiria de Profundis. In a section from Suspiria de Profundis entitled "Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow", which references that there are three Fates, Graces, and three Sorrows. Much of the work is somehow or another added into the film. Ballet academies will for now on always bring a hint of fear into me. Argento uses vivid colors and constant moving direction to both enhance the scares and keep the attention of the viewer contiuously. Althogh, excluding Jessica Harper as the lead. Suspiria tends to get its best performances from the actors with the least lines (a blind man and a mute are the two of mention). Argento's script is weaker than his previous films, but his direction hits an all time high level. Gore fans will leave satisfied, the number of scenes are few, but the build up and effect work so well together that waiting will not feel like a task. Acting coaches will have a field day on Suspiria, but Argento's mastery is overwhelming.