Posts Tagged ‘80s’

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-

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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

Review: Star 80, seen on March 1st

March 11, 2009

Star 80 (Bob Fosse, 1983) – based on the true story of tragic fated Playboy’s Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten, played by Woody Allen girl (REALLY a girl, anyone who’s seen Allen’s Manhattan would agree =/) Mariel Hemingway. It follows the story of how Stratten came to meet her murderer: her husband Paul Snider, played by Julia’s big brother, Eric Roberts. Directed by Bob Fosse, the film starts by showing us the decay and the progress of Snider’s anger, as he one day meets Dorothy and starts seeing her as an opportunity for success. What Fosse achieved in the fantastics Cabaret and All That Jazz so effortlessly was that the flow of those films seemed invisible: they’re both rather lengthy, they’re both kind of raunchy, yet the energy in which he brings into his actors and into his direction make it all look so breezy. Unfortunately, this is not the case for this film. Often we see the story fractured by interviews of people who knew Dorothy or Paul (or rather, actors who play them), trying to tell us things we’re kind of already seeing in the film by these small character’s reactions. By this Fosse seems willing to capture a documentary feel into the film, but it just seems unrealistic, not to mention some of the dialogues of these faux-interviews just come out so unnatural, and the saddest of all, it breaks the rhythm of the film considerably, which like I’ve already said seems to be Fosse’s forte. Another glaring flaw in the picture seems to be some sort of unintentional sadism in the way the story’s being told: rushedly shot only 3 years after the incident, the decision of filming the tragic climax in the same department where the real Dorothy Stratten was murdered, are often very obvious aspects the film never tries to hide even though it should, and the result just seems exploitative, and for the audience, downright unpleasant.

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But if the film does excel in some departments, it’s in the acting: Mariel Hemingway rises above the script’s lazy decision of never showing why Dorothy cares so much about the schlub, and with limited subtle stares and soft voice makes us understand that perhaps despite the uneasiness Paul provokes on her, there’s an understanding and sympathetic feelings that make her try to handle the situation as long as humanly possible. On the other hand, and with an entirely different style of acting, there’s Eric Roberts, who despite the screenplay’s attempts to show the guy’s situation in a sympathetic manner, never gives in into clichés and just shows Paul Snider’s inner demons with such a pathos and in such a convincing way that he achieves a coldly truthful, honest, yet effortlessly transparent portrayal of this pathetic, sleazy man. All in all, a rushed, lazy and unpleasant project about a story that should have never been told, but that works as an acting showcase for both its stars just perfectly, they’re the reason to at least give the film a try. Rating: C