Tuesday, December 30, 2008

There are ways to judge a book by its cover

One way to judge a book by its cover is to judge the cover on its own merits. As below.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Wild Child

Mild-mannered presentation serves to highlight the nobler aspects of the endeavor to civilize a child who raised himself in the woods of Aveyron. Truffaut wears his 18th c. habiliment with surprising ease as he patiently wrestles with his object of study. Based on a report by a Dr. Itard.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Snow people on the march!

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Curse of the Golden Flower

High-stakes political shenanigans in the royal court lead to unexpected consequences. Sumptuous production is a bit mannered but given the subject, that may be a good thing.

The Next Man

The screenplay is just a hash of headlines from the mid-seventies with a dash of tropes (the gruff detective with a taste for cooking, etc.) but does manage to keep rolling along with judicious palcement of action. Connery is cast as a Saudi which is only a little less ludicrous than being cast as a Berber. (How is it that there was never a Sean Connery Othello?)
The DVD is a terrible pan & scan (if that) of the original widescreen with defective sound to boot. Painful to watch. On the plus side, an early score by Michael Kamen.

Charlton Heston in Peer Gynt

A student project from 1941 that is surprisingly sound. The conceit is that it is a silent (mostly) of Ibsen's play cut to Grieg's music. It works better than you'd think. Some of Chuck's idiosyncratic physical acting is already present in the 17-year-old.
The DVD also includes a TV production of Of Human Bondage which is professional but far less engaging than Peer Gynt.

Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth I

The mis en scene is superior, Mirren is fascinating, the ensemble is energetic but there is still a slightly cramped aspect that I can't put my finger on. It's not the weird exteriors in Lithuania, although they are a distraction. It may simply be the more-or-less accurate set that makes me uneasy: the Privy Council room is barely big enough to hold E's ministers, much less camera crew.

There is historical-grade torture, including an up-close beheading.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Damn the Defiant

Stolid. Way stolid. Dirk Bogarde's cad manages to avoid assassination far longer than you'd think likely, given that every other character wants him dead and they all carry three foot shivs. The best scenes are Guinness's as might be expected, but he is off screen for long stretches.

The Swan Princess

Sometimes indulging in low-jinks such as a 20th century sports farce, this Don Bluth production is not unwatchable. Voice acting is mostly conventional with the big exception of Jack Palance who brings a restrained but clearly psychopathic aspect to his sorcerer. Attractive background paintings but bland character designs.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Short Cuts

Prolix ramble that is more of an editing exercise than a movie. Jack Lemmon slides in and out of one thread with greasy ease. A few moments of quality improv (Bruce Davison's repertoire of squirms is substantial and Lyle Lovett's dead-fish stare is impossible to return) but otherwise mostly awkward and unconvincing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

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