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Rating History

Casino Royale
Casino Royale (1967)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

"Sad that the word secret agent has become synonymous with the word sex maniac," laments David Niven in the movie Casino Royale. Not to be confused with the 2006 reboot, this Casino Royale was actually a comedy sendup of the James Bond series, released during Sean Connery's tenure as the infamous spy. But sadly, this movie turned out less comedic and more over bloated with spectacle that it takes less time to acknowledge that the script is in such a mess.

The premise of the film is that David Niven is the original James Bond, a pure, sophisticated spy from the first World War. His name and number was actually passed down to the suave, ladykiller we all know. Bond is forced out of retirement because the enemy is killing off all international spies, an evil scheme that only a child could make up. Bond takes over MI5 and decides that all of their spies will now go under the name James Bond 007, in order to confuse the enemy. But what the movie does best is confusing the audience, such as myself.

The movie is in such disarray, that it can't focus on one singular story. We go all over the place; from an insufferable unfunny scene in the Highlands of Scotland to an intriguing Berlin scene which features some interesting use of German Expressionism. This was possibly due to the fact that it was directed not by one, but by six people. Each section each person directed does not essentially contribute to other sections of the story.

One great example is the story of Evelyn Tremble, expert baccarat player, played by Peter Sellers. He is recruited by Vesper Lynd (Ursula Andress aka Honey Rider from Dr. No) to face Le Chiffre, a SMERSH agent, at a game of baccarat at Casino Royale. This section is the only section of the whole entire movie that actually somewhat resembles the novel that this movies is supposedly based on. But, when you watch the scene, once it finishes, you realize that that whole section of having Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) loses the game leaving him in debt to SMERSH, who will thusly have him killed contributes absolutely nothing to the rest of the movie or the has anything to do with the sinister Dr. Noah.

The movie does tend to waste scenes by going nowhere. It also wastes its talent. Terence Cooper plays an agent called "Coop" who is trained to resist women. Cooper is really the actor in this movie who could really play a good Bond if he wanted to, or if the movie gave him more than five minutes of screen time. And then we have Jean-Paul Belmondo and George Raft, who are top billed even though they appear in the film's destroy-all climactic ending.

Though the movie isn't extremely funny, it does have great, genuine moments of comedy. I would think that the scenes with Woody Allen are the funniest. He plays James Bond's nephew Jimmy Bond, a neurotic man who can't even talk to his uncle due to an inferiority complex, so he can only talk to him thru pantomime. He also gives off many great lines. While at the end of a firing squad, he tries to convince them not to shot him. "My doctor says that I can't have bullets entering my body at any time. What if I said I was pregnant?" Not only is he neurotic, but he is also a sex maniac, and will do anything in order to help conquer his inferiority.

The movie, instead of focusing on continuity, instead focuses on the lavish, and boy did they go non stop on their set design. From the before mentioned Berlin spy house, to India and down below Casino Royale at Dr. Noah psychedelic lair. In fact, movie does do very well in most aspects. Its music by Burt Bacharach is, though it may not fit well into certain scenes and ruins its serious, is so enjoyable. The best thing about this movie is the song "Look of Love" which is sung by the lovely Dusty Springfield. The song is so seductive and smooth which Springfield accomplished with such grace.

While this movies does have its problems, it important to look at the production of the film and how it faced so many problems, such as Peter Sellers leaving the project before his scenes were finished because he wanted to play a more serious Bond and because of the feud he had with Orson Welles, probably the biggest in Hollywood history.

"Casino Royale is too much for one James Bond," and it's too much for itself. But while this movie does have its problems storywise, it is about up by being a gorgeous thing to look at and, at some moments entertaining. It's a time capsule of the late 60s psychedelia and big budget extravaganza. Not one of the best Bonds, that's a fact, but it is certainly an amusing part of Bond history.

Disaster Movie
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Disaster Movie is, as they say on the internet, exactly what it says on the tin. The film is a massive collage of movies put together to try to create something funny; putting recognizable characters on screen and saying, "Look, there's [this character]. He/She has had a recent film which is relevant to today's youth and pop culture." The result fails.

Disaster Movie begins with the dream of the main character, Will, played by Matt "The Clone Wars" Lanter. In his dream, it is told that the world will end on August 29th, 2008 (ironically, the film's release date).

During Will's Sweet Sixteen party, a bulletin comes out that it is indeed the end of the world. Now Will and his friend's Calvin, Juney (Juno), Lisa (played by Razzie nominated Kim Kardashian) and the Enchanted Princess (from Enchanted) have to fight their way through reference after reference to save Will's cheating ex-girlfriend Amy and possible save the world. Why he still cares for her is beyond me.

The characters are way beyond dull, there are absolutely unmemorable. I can barely remember their names. The one characters who stands out would be the Enchanted Princess, who alternates between quirky, annoying, sometimes funny, badass and just plain weird.

The script doesn't seem to care about the films its referencing. Not parodying, referencing. The storyline is only made in order to show these second-hand copies of popular movie characters. In fact, some of the films mentioned in the movie themselves aren't good or memorable. How can this film stand the test of time when it makes references that are outdated even six years later? The answer is it doesn't.

The film also takes an almost mean-spirited ribbing of the movies and even celebrities. In other parody films, for example Young Frankenstein, the work being looked at and parodied is given the utmost respect upon the transfer to the screen. In films like this and even Airplane!, the comedy is almost all original and comes from witty dialog, background jokes and outlandish scenes. This film does none of that. Instead, it says, "Here's Batman. He's not acting like Batman. He has a pratfall. Laugh."

With all that said, this unfunny mess of the movie mash-up gets my vote for one of the worst movies of all time. All I can say is that the film makers of this film, who also released other films such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans and Vampires Suck, need to take a lesson out of the book of Mel Brooks.

And for those out there who have just watched this, go watch Spaceballs. Not the greatest but you'll enjoy it a whole lot better.

1/2 out of ****

(I should also note that the Princess does have the best line of the movie; "You know, they say that the first kill is supposed to be difficult. But I find it easy. In fact, rather fun." This line, to me, may be the only worth watching thing in the movie.)

Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane (1941)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Kane. What can I say about Kane that hasn't already been said? It is a movie the chronicles the basic American dream, the rise of the main protagonist and his eventual fall from grace such in the way of Icarus. It has been proclaimed as the greatest film of all time, having held 1st place on the influential Sight & Sound critics poll for 50 years and 1st on the American Film Institute's list of greatest American movies.

Kane starts off where most films would usually end, with the death of the main character, Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), a famous newspaper tycoon modeled after the real-life yellow journalist William Randolph Hearst. Kane's last words are the most talked about. "Rosebud." But what is Rosebud?

We follow a young journalist, Thompson, as he interviews "anyone who ever loved him." The rest of the story is told in flashback as we see a poor young boy whose luck soon changes when his family inherits money. He grows into a young man and because well-known through his newspaper and through his political attempts. We see his ego grow and become more megalomaniac-like. He is unable to find real love, something he has never truly obtained.

This motion picture is the magnum opus of boy wunderkind Orson Welles, fresh off of the plane from New York, where he did Mercury Theatre on the Air (an the infamous War of the Worlds broadcast). The movie itself is not about Rosebud. That's not the point of the picture. The point of the film is to portray a man, a giant among men. The movie deals with such things as wealth, being idealistic and ambition. All this being filmed fantastically by Gregg Tolland. If the script by Herman Mankiewicz and Welles is the structure and the heart of the film, the Tolland's cinematography are the liver and gallbladder.

Has it also been mentioned how this film uses special effects. In his commentary of the film, the late Roger Ebert said that the film makes use of matte paintings and in-camera tricks and double printing. In the commentary, Ebert claims that Kane has about as much special effects as Star Wars. A nice but bold claim. These special effects add to the magnificent magnitude of the life of Kane.

So, why do I think that this film is justly deserved for the term "greatest movie of all time?" Well, I guess it depends on your definition of greatest movie. To me, the greatest movie is one that influence other filmmakers. It's one that stands the test of time. It's one that entertains. It's one that makes you think, not just about what is happening in the story, but what is happening under the surface of the story. And I believe that Kane may fit these characteristic, influencing many generations of filmmakers and possibly many to come.

**** out of ****

Sherlock Jr.
Sherlock Jr. (1924)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Buster Keaton is one of the kings of silent comedy, on the same level as other comedians such as Charlie Chaplin. But while Chaplin successfully combined pathos with comedy, Buster has mastered the art of the straight face and stunt work. Keaton has had lots a great work (e.g. The General) but I believe that his greatest accomplishment would be his short comedy Sherlock Jr.

Sherlock does not feature the famous Doyle detective to which the name derives. The movie is instead about a film projectionist (Buster Keaton) who dreams of becoming a detective. He tries to woo the woman of his dreams with material object, though he is so down on his luck.
But then he is framed by a fellow suitor for the crime of stealing and pawning the watch of the girl's father. Depressed, the projectionist retreats to a movie fantasy world, where he is Sherlock Jr., the greatest detective in the world, who investigates a "simple" case of the theft of a necklace, with the help of his sidekick Gillette ("a gem of a character ever ready in a scrape").

The movie features impossible-looking effects, stunts and magic tricks, entertain the viewer from start to finish. Its gags are bar none. For example, when Buster decides to "closely" shadow his suspect, or when Sherlock Jr. rides a bike driverless all the way to the criminal's location, passing by tons of obstacles on the way, a hilarious road scene that would not be equaled until W.C. Fields' gaspingly funny film The Bank Dick and its climactic chase scene.

Sherlock's inventiveness has the viewer guess how did they did this way back in 1924, especially the scene where Buster literally jumps into the film. So far, I believe it is one of most inventive technical silent comedy I have ever seen. Kudos, Keaton.

**** out of ****

Battleship Potemkin
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Battleship Potemkin is certainly a movie that stands the test of time. The movie is an exciting step into film editing and other such technology. The movie is simple in story, but rich in cultural history. We begin on the Potemkin, in which the sailor revolt due to poor conditions, such as their food; rotten with maggots.

After the brave Bolshevik Vakulinchuk dies after the soldiers take over the battleship, his body then becomes a symbol of public outcry. This then leads to the infamous staircase scene, where Tsarist soldiers massacre the citizens of Odessa.
The movie uses the technique of montage, relatively new at the time. The use of it in the movie is brilliant, helping give off the emotions the film is trying to portrait. If I were to nitpick, I would say the characters of the film are too simple and not fleshed out enough and are treated more like symbols, but this movie, in reality, is a propaganda film, and the characterization were intentional.

The editing is quick and skilled, giving a heart-pounding experience in a relatively short film (the Kino restoration is about 70 minutes long). If one were to view a film in which its editing could impact the masses, this would be the movie to see. It is noted that the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels said that the film was, "a marvelous film without equal in the cinema ... anyone who had no firm political conviction could become a Bolshevik after seeing the film." This showcases the amazing power the film has to have you root to the cause it presents.

**** out of ****