Archive for April, 2009

Reviews: The War Zone, The Letter, The Last Metro, The Towering Inferno. Seen on: I’d be damned if I remember when

April 13, 2009

Sorry for not writing in… what, a month? Damn. =/ I’m sure you understand (you don’t, and that’s okay), all three of you people who read my blog, and I promise I shan’t abandon it for no reason any more. =)

The War Zone (Tim Roth, 1999) directed by Tim Roth, I’ll admit that the only reason I got this was because I was intrigued about Lara Belmont’s performance. It’s quite raved, 1999 is always bitched for being a weak year for actresses, and even though I’ve never agreed with that statement, I wanted to see what the fuss was about. And that’s probably the only thing I would recommend from this film. No, this isn’t a bad film by any means, just an incredibly unpleasant one. I had no idea what it was about when I started watching, or what touchy subjects would be approached, so even if I don’t know how well known the matter is to people who haven’t seen it, I’m not sure if I should bring it up. Anyway, it’s uniformly well acted: Ray Winstone impossibly unaffected, (as in the good way), Tilda Swinton at her least Tilda-esque (again, it’s a good thing), and the boy playing the brother very natural, and Lara Belmont pulling difficult, strong material like a pro. The film as I’ve already implied is very hard to watch, but it’s mostly due to the fact that I don’t have a stomach for that sort of thing, it’s nothing I would watch again, but it’s undeniably well made and the acting is definitely the highlight. Rating: B.

The Letter, (William Wyler, 1940) BETTE DAVIS! Isn’t she always great? Well, as far as I’m aware she IS, so shut up! :@ This William Wyler collaboration of hers isn’t very good, but if you’re looking for another great Bette Davis performance, you’re looking on the right place: here she plays yet another treacherous spoiled little cunt who thinks can get away with anything cause she’s so “good” inside, but actually she isn’t. Sam old tired formula, I love Wyler’s films but he doesn’t do anything here to try to spice things up or make it seem worthwhile: same melodrama, same dated unintentionally funny racial gaps, same dumb male characters, same not so dumb male characters, same “mysterious” supporting lady, same predictable twists, and so on. Anyway, I lost track my main point, which is Bette: here she is wonderful, the first second we see her walking into the film pointing a gun, shooting the living shit out of some man, we already know everything about the character with just the look on her face and the way she keeps following him. The way she keeps defending herself, delivering her melodramatic lines and subsequently defending her actions and trying to cover everything up is all too familiar, yet at the same time, all so very fresh: it’s the same inflictions, it’s the same type of character she’s used to playing yet it’s so different the way she delivers it: vivid, honest, aware, transparent, never trying for the audience to fall for the character with cheap tricks. Thank you, Bette. Rating: C

The Last Metro (François Truffaut, 1980) Truffaut! He’s great, isn’t he? This movie always sounded like Frenchiness personified. Denueve + Depardieu AND Truffaut? = I’m in! The story is about Catherine Denueve, a stage actress in charge not only of running the theatre his Jewish husband (to my disappointment, NOT Depardieu, but some other actor) used to run, but also of keeping him well hidden in the same theatre’s basement from the Nazis and other nosy unpatriotic Frenchies. Very well acted (Denueve playing this character as if she was born to play it, Depardieu delivering his usual charms), as with most Truffaut pictures the story just flows by, even when it’s kind of intended to drag, the tension is always there, gorgeously produced, every turn the story takes seems effortless thanks to Truffaut’s direction (well, that whole love triangle thing seemed forced at first, but that’s probably what I get for not seeing it coming) and it gets its message across beautifully. Essential Truffaut right here. Rating: A-


The Towering Inferno (John Guilermin & Irwin Allen, 1974) I don’t know what it is that I have about disaster movies, but I think it’s that I’m always expecting too much even though I just KNOW I shouldn’t. For no apparent reason, I often used to forget Faye Dunaway and Paul Newman (two of my favorites) starred in a big movie together. That and the fame of the film were enough for me to give it a try. Problem is, it’s not that entertaining. Naturally, with such a huge cast, it’s obvious that there will be underwritten characters, endless useless subplots, and great actors all around stuck with nothing to do, but, because I’m a bitch, I find it to be a huge stumble. The dynamics between the characters are not that believable, and once we have some action going on it’s very hard to care for anyone, and the film just goes on for too long for its own good. The use of miniatures for the visual effects is admirable, and must’ve been quite impressive for the time but predictably, they’re quite dated for nowadays, and frankly, once you don’t have much tension going on inside the building thanks to a sloppy script, and nothing that striking going on outside, it’s just very hard to care at all for what goes on. Overall: flawed, overlong and quite messy, even if admirable from a technical, dated point of view. Rating: C