I might well have been more wowed by this if I hadn't seen the Fairbanks version previously, as this one certainly boasts impressive sets, action scenes, and some dazzling Technicolor cinematography. My problem with Powell's version is that it lacks a proper hero, as the single romantic action hero represented by Fairbanks is split into an amorous but inactive prince and an adventurous but non-romantic boy thief. All the money in the production can't compensate for the hole this strange decision creates at its centre. For anyone who can tolerate the conventions of silent film I strongly recommend checking out the 1924 version, which I found much more emotionally engaging.
Though the ending's unnecessarily melodramatic this is another visually beautiful tale of existential angst from a master film maker. Steve Cochran's performance in the lead stands out - he articulates so much despite his lack of facility with words. But that's the Antonioni magic - he communicates so much subliminally there's no need for verbosity.
The opening is excellent, but the film starts to grate as it becomes clear that the main character acts in order to demonstrate a political hypothesis of the director. Too much politics, not enough attention to credible characterization - and as a result the political message fails, too.
Anna May Wong is sensationally good in this film. The Hays Code's racist rules severely restricted her career in America - after 1934 a part like this would have been impossible because of the mixed race relationship depicted, and she largely got stuck in B Movies. Seeing this you understand what a tragic waste that was.
Despite a great opening heist scene most of this simply isn't up to Melville's usual standard, and Deneuve is criminally under-used. While far from a disaster it's easily the weakest Melville film I've seen so far.
The film has a wildly implausible plot and a painfully dated pro-imperialist mindset. If you can get past those two major obstacles it's pretty well-made, with good location footage and action scenes, and Richardson's performance is impressive. Celebrating the British Empire's conquests doesn't really do it for me as entertainment, though.
Better than the other Denis film I've seen (L'Intrus) but I'm still mystified as to why she gets so much critical praise. Yes she knows how to create compelling images, but there's an almost complete absence of drama in her work. Apart from the last 20 minutes this was essentially like watching a very arty documentary about the Foreign Legion.
You really need to be able to give 2 ratings for this film - the quality of the filmmaking is unquestionably five star, and the three hours zipped by. The second half, though, is racist propaganda so extreme, and so thoroughly realised (in plot, intertitles, visuals, everything) that it might make Goebbels blush. Perhaps it should be played in a double bill with Jud Suess to compare and contrast popular American and Nazi racist propaganda? Because what's elswhere usually just hinted at is here on full display. Griffith is not far off saying that race hatred was what put (white) America back together again after the divisive trauma of the Civil War.
I absolutely hated this. Edited to about half-length it might have been tolerable, but the endless long takes of nothing happening drove me nuts. The critics sure love the emperor's new clothes, though.
Criminally underrated in my view - I think only The Godfather and Once Upon a Time In America are superior in the gangster genre, and it's way better than de Palma/Pacino's earlier venture, Scarface. Pacino has never been better, making of Carlito Brigante something more resembling a tragic hero than a typical screen mobster, brought down by fate and his adherence to the honour code. The pacing is excellent and the brilliant closing sequence has a richness and resonance that only the greatest films attain. If you haven't yet seen this film you really owe it to yourself to correct that error.
The Metropolis-style set in the opening scene is impressive, but though there are some good ideas in that opening section it's disappointing that it rapidly falls back on slapstick routines rather than attempting more subtle satire. It's also a bit of a jolt when the futuristic world disappears as soon as Chaplin leaves the factory, and most of the rest is just a series of Tramp sketches that could have been inserted into many of his other films. I'm not a huge Chaplin fan anyway, but here in particular it just feels like every comic idea is extended too long. Maybe I was spoilt by watching Duck Soup recently, but by comparison Modern Times feels rather ponderous.
I liked La Promesse but that had a central drama and a point. This isn't kitchen-sink drama because there's no drama, it's just the kitchen sink. The jerky hand-held camera in constant close-up also really starts to grate after a while. .
This is far too saccharine for my taste. Set in Sicily during the war it's the story of a young adolescent's unrequited love for the town beauty, Malena. Since she's 27 and he's 12 there's never any serious suggestion that something might happen between them, indeed apart from a couple of words right at the end they never even speak. Instead, virtually the entire film consists of the kid spying and eavesdropping on her - he's forever looking through holes in the wall or peeking from behind a tree or pillar, and so - since he never does anything but watch and listen - the film is effectively the story of snippets of Malena's life, told without any direct insight into what's going on since we're always, like the kid, at a distance from her. After a while this format starts to be rather frustrating, and puts severe limits on the extent to which you can identify with the characters, though naturally there's a certain amount of sympathy with Malena, who's the subject of plenty of unwelcome attention from the men and malicious gossip from the town's women. Since the kid doesn't really experience much except fragments of this woman's life it's pretty hard to call it a coming-of-age film either; essentially it's just the portrayal of a young teenager's erotic fantasy, which is rather a flimsy premise for a feature film. It's beautifully shot in Tornatore's glossy Merchant-Ivory style with a romantic Morricone score, but the hole where a protagonist should be isn't something you can cover up, however impressive the production values.
I absolutely love this film. Extremely witty dialogue, great characters ably portrayed by a talented young cast (Eigeman and Beckinsale are particularly good), and a great disco music soundtrack. Seeing this never fails to give me a warm glow, and the closing scene, when Love Train plays and everyone dances, is pitch-perfect.
It amazes me how many critics fawn over Tsai fiilms. Vive L'Amour was ok but The River was dull and this is utter tedium. Two lines of dialogue in the entire film if you don't count the film-within-a-film snippets and enough lllooonnnggg takes of a lame woman walking up stairs and down corridors to last me a lifetime.
I thought the first 2/3 of the film was amazing existential drama but was a bit disappointed by the final third's shift to a debate over what the main character's actions meant for his colleagues. The film's greatest strength was Takashi Shimura and I'd have liked to have followed his perspective through to the end rather than shifting to others talking about him with occasional flashbacks. His existential drama was just intrinsically more powerful and universal than the didactic stuff about bureaucratic sclerosis.
This is stylistically similar to Un Chien Andalou but greatly inferior - the extra length is just a consequence of flabbier editing. The use of sound is also very poor - it was clearly designed as a silent film and it would surely have been better if it had been left that way.