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: Li'l Duce's Reviews Palace  ( 126647 )
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« #780 : April 09, 2019, 11:36:37 AM »

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935) Cagney, Rooney and Powell (Dick) doing Shakespeare? Well, this play is not Hamlet, so the operation was not so incredible, even conceding the far from correct american english spoken by some.  I first saw the play eons ago, in italian, in a public open air place: bored to death. I saw it again in english in the BBC version with no better results. This one, though at first saw the same results coming, it gets better and better as the story proceeds. Rooney is impressive because, although he was 14-15 when he shot the movie, and already with an incredible filmography behind him, here he looks no older than 10. So one not knowing who he is, can't but be flabbergasted by his professionalism, actually his overacting. Cagney, well, he plays Cagney, as usual: take it or leave it. Still the Reinhardt-Dieterle combination is above, I presume, any possible theatrical rendition of the play and, I admit, made me understand what the all stuff was about. I rate the movie above the play: 8/10

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« #781 : April 12, 2019, 08:03:04 PM »

Theatre of Blood (1973) Apparently this is the only filmed performance of Price as a shakespearean actor available on the tube. The movie in itself is worth little. 5/10

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« #782 : April 16, 2019, 02:22:38 AM »

As You Like It (1936) This is considered by most critics (and audiences) a masterpiece. I can't see why, apart from the famous "world is a theatre" speech. This version though has got the advantage of being around 100', dispensing with most useless speeches, so if one has never seen this play, it makes for a good starting (and probably ending) point. They have a poor man's Garbo for the role of Rosalind, and kinda teutsch at that! Olivier thinks he is Douglas Fairbanks but does the little his part requires impeccably. 6/10


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« #783 : April 29, 2019, 12:03:23 AM »

Wattstax (1973)

Can't be missed by Stax fans, though these are the last fires of what was the most important label of soul music. The free concert held in L.A. by Stax musicians is alternated by unfunny monologues of Richard Pryor and mumbled musings by a variety of black people, probably most of them earning their life as pimps, hustlers or pushers. Musically, as to be expected, the highlights are provided by Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Staples Singers and Albert King. 6/10

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_P6ZWUJIa0


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« #784 : April 29, 2019, 11:57:32 AM »

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) I remember as a child being intrigued by the title and wondering what it could be about. Then much later I understood the word play but still didn't manage to watch the movie because I wasn't persuaded by the snippets I caught on tv. I've finally managed to watch it and found it sucks, as I had thought all along. The usual incredible, nevrotic characters and the little inventive plot. The players were all nominated to Oscars: Taylor won it (not much competition that year), Dennis earned it, Segal is miscast as can be, I find that Burton speaks his theatrical diction, as phony as can be. 4/10


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« #785 : May 13, 2019, 09:04:17 PM »

Doctor Faustus (1967) Cheap production (the Burtons apart) and it shows. Marlowe's play might have offered many chances to set up a delirious images festival, but no idea whatsoever, directionwise, comes to the fore. (See, for a term of comparison, Bene's Salomè). The more I see Burton reciting in his original voice, the less I like him. Taylor's mature beauty was exalted in the Zeffirelli's Shrew, here just shows her age. 4/10


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« #786 : May 13, 2019, 11:12:28 PM »

L'avare (1980) I can't judge De Funés performance as Harpagon, having no terms of comparsison so far. Surely, this is probably the only Molière's character he could have played. But though his marionette's acting is effective in the more farcical scenes, I have doubts about the rest. Galabru, Menez and Gensac are very good, as to be expected, the juveniles do their task efficiently but not memorably. 7/10. 


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« #787 : May 19, 2019, 03:09:58 PM »

The Pelican Brief (1993) Until a few days ago I read the novel, I was sure I had seen the movie. It was not so (probably I had persuaded myself I had seen it because I didn't want to see a Julia Roberts movie. Roberts and Kidman are the two actress I like less, second only to Joan Crawford). But the novel is a good contender for best Grisham novel. And the movie was put in the hands of Pakula who put style in the narration. It is not up to Condor (from which the novel was inspoired, as admitted by the author himself who names that movie in the novel) and it is not up to All The President's Men, but it is a solid political thriller which could have been made in the 70's. 8/10 for both novel and movie.


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« #788 : May 23, 2019, 07:54:22 AM »

The Chamber (1996) Grisham took informations on the Death Row procedures and stuck a story on it. So you read the novel if you're interested on what is like to be a guest in that area and bound to be terminated in a gas chamber. The movie has consequently little to go on and the casting is one of the worst I remember among recent Hollywood stuff. Hackman just doesn't fit as the racist southern klukker and O'Donnell is unremarkable. Only Dunaway is perfect and still good looking  at 55 but hers is a minor part. As it is usual for this contrived kind of plot, they do not manage to persuade you that State murder is so terribly wrong. 6/10


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« #789 : May 23, 2019, 08:03:37 AM »

Christmas with the Kranks (2004) This is interesting because the book got me amazed for the first half at how the author managed to show how the consumer society works cruelly on individuals and I expected (though I should have known better, Grisham being a good storyteller, but not a good writer) the story to proceed mercilessly in this critic approach to the end. Instead, Grisham goes for the Life Is Wonderful option and the result (even more visibly so in the movie) is the usual, nice and forgettable Hollywood comedy. 7/10


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« #790 : May 27, 2019, 04:09:42 AM »

Zorba the Greek (1964) I watched this in a cinema, it must have been june 1965. I was a kid and didn't understand what the movie was about. Actually the plot is weak. The scene of the spoil, Kedrova's performance (and Oscar awarded: but hers a "supporting role"? ) and Teodorakis tune are worth saving. Papas wasted in a minor role, Bates looking like a dark-haired Peppard (and just as inexpressive. A great piece of miscasting) and finally Quinn overacting an over the top character: spot on, but I prefer him in more shaded parts. 6/10 


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« #791 : June 05, 2019, 07:22:20 AM »

La cena delle beffe (1942) This is famous for the scene where Clara Calamai shows her breast. I was curious to watch Valenti but his acting is so over the top as to be embarrassing. Nazzari (in his life's performance) fares much better, with a bevy of famous italian minor characters to be found in the movies after the war. But the reason to sit through this crappy melodrama  are nowadays only to see the beautiful Calamai (especially in the first scenes) and the pretty Ferida, thinking about the sad end  waiting for her and Valenti at the end of the war. Valentina Cortese, though prettyish, will be much more attractive a few years later. 3/10


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« #792 : June 13, 2019, 11:08:20 AM »

La fine è nota (1993) This italian movie was based on a mystery novel published in 1949 by Geoffrey Holiday Hall, The End Is Known, who some (among whom, most notably, Leonardo Sciascia) consider a classic. The action is moved from NYC and Montana to Rome, Sardinia and Paris. The plot is slightly adapted to the locations and times, but basically it hinges on the hard to digest premise of the novel: i.e. that the police doesn't do its elementary homework on whom should actually be the prime suspect and lead to the solution at once. Still the writer was primarily interested in depicting some characters, especially Crazy Jessie and also some wartime scenes are well worth reading. In the movie, apart from the atrocious performances by the male "actors" (including the overpraised Cecchi) the direction and script are unable to make you interested in the characters, in spite of the good choice of locations. Valeria Moriconi (too pretty for the part of Crazy Jessie) and kaprisky give good performances, the rest of the females, even my beloved Melato, are so-so. 5/10 to the movie and 7/10 to the novel.


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« #793 : June 14, 2019, 09:13:55 PM »

Assolto per aver commesso il fatto (1993) A weak late Sordi. Inspired by the career of bogus financier Parretti, who managed to purchase MGM without money of his own. The movie lacks zest, in spite of Sordi's presence and his character and the other ones are no more than lines of dialogue. It shows how the italian comedy had lost the great writers of 20-30 years before. 4/10


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« #794 : June 18, 2019, 01:57:50 PM »

Minority Report (2002) I remebered little of it, only Cruise opening up screens with the hands. Solid timewaster with good action scenes and plot turns. I don't like the photography, though. 8/10


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