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« #15975 : April 18, 2016, 04:58:16 AM »

The Makioka Sisters / Sasame yuki (1983) - 7/10. The trials of a rich merchant family in 30s Osaka. Sumptuous kimonos. Cheesy synthesizer score. The Japanese title means literally "fine snow" but refers to the effect produced when cherry blossoms fall (i.e. the theme of the film is transience). A film worth revisiting now that our cherry trees are in bloom here in Westchester County, NY.



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« #15976 : April 18, 2016, 03:44:46 PM »

we were discussing Bridge of Spies a little while ago; I mentioned that I had  a problem with the script and would elaborate later on when I had the time. That's now:

This post will contain spoilers:

My problem is that in the second half of the movie, nothing seems to happen. (The problem exists cuz this is a true story, and they have to stick to the truth). Hanks is sent to negotiate for the prisoner exchange, and he negotiates it and they make the exchange. Okay, a minor point that he insist on 2 for 1, playing the East Germans off the Russians, but there really are no twists here at all. This is really straightforward: they send him to do the prisoner exchange, he does it, and that's all. Okay, the set design and costumes and cinematography evoke the era nicely, but there really is nothing exciting in the story. I was waiting for some big twist, something, which I'd expect for a spy movie, but there really was none of that.

so, they negotiate the prisoner exchange, they make the prisoner exchange, and everyone (at least the Americans) live happily ever after. Not very interesting.


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« #15977 : April 19, 2016, 08:04:20 AM »

The Night Manager (2016) Episodes 1-3. 10/10. Loki (apparently banished to Earth and with his powers withdrawn by All Father Odin) is working in a Cairo hotel as . . . (you'll never guess) . . . the night manager! He gets involved with an Egyptian woman who is mistress to a man who is part of the family who owns the hotel. One night the woman asks Loki to photocopy a secret document--Loki notices it has to do with an arms deal. She asks him to keep the copy in the hotel safe and turn it over to the British government in the event of her untimely death. Loki instead turns it over to an intelligence man he knows in the embassy the very next day. The papers are forwarded to London. Very soon after that, the woman is murdered . . . So begins the latest le Carre. It's a lot of fun, with Hugh Laurie as the charming villain, and lots of intelligence agency infighting, and great locations like Zematt and Mallorca, and a score that sounds like something in the John Barry vein.



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« #15978 : April 19, 2016, 09:00:48 AM »

Ghost World - 7.5/10 - One of the better alienated teen dramas. Thora Birch is much more appealing than in American Beauty; teenaged Scarlett Johansson plays her gal pal; Steve Buschemi a weird Thora likes. Worth checking out.



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« #15979 : April 19, 2016, 09:59:02 AM »

Ghost World - 7.5/10 - One of the better alienated teen dramas. Thora Birch is much more appealing than in American Beauty; teenaged Scarlett Johansson plays her gal pal; Steve Buschemi a weird Thora likes. Worth checking out.
I like a lot of things about this. For one, the characters are completely believable. Second, the two girls are different enough to develop totally separate character arcs. The Johansson girl is the one who gets a real job and begins accommodating herself to the world in which she finds herself. Thora Birch is the one who refuses to compromise and so, finally, leaves town. They drift apart, and not for any of the usual convenient reasons dramas usually impose. They remain friends, it's just that life gets in the way.

Another point: this is one of the best-looking films to come out of the period in which it was shot. I have it on Blu and its image is a marvel to behold.



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« #15980 : April 19, 2016, 12:55:55 PM »

The Night Manager (2016) Episodes 1-3. 10/10. Loki (apparently banished to Earth and with his powers withdrawn by All Father Odin) is working in a Cairo hotel as . . . (you'll never guess) . . . the night manager! He gets involved with an Egyptian woman who is mistress to a man who is part of the family who owns the hotel. One night the woman asks Loki to photocopy a secret document--Loki notices it has to do with an arms deal. She asks him to keep the copy in the hotel safe and turn it over to the British government in the event of her untimely death. Loki instead turns it over to an intelligence man he knows in the embassy the very next day. The papers are forwarded to London. Very soon after that, the woman is murdered . . . So begins the latest le Carre. It's a lot of fun, with Hugh Laurie as the charming villain, and lots of intelligence agency infighting, and great locations like Zematt and Mallorca, and a score that sounds like something in the John Barry vein.

Interesting.

The novel was underwhelming, one of his weaker thrillers.


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« #15981 : April 19, 2016, 01:01:16 PM »

I like a lot of things about this. For one, the characters are completely believable. Second, the two girls are different enough to develop totally separate character arcs. The Johansson girl is the one who gets a real job and begins accommodating herself to the world in which she finds herself. Thora Birch is the one who refuses to compromise and so, finally, leaves town. They drift apart, and not for any of the usual convenient reasons dramas usually impose. They remain friends, it's just that life gets in the way.

Nailed it. O0 Also that the film doesn't glorify snark and alienation as ends unto themselves, failures common to many similar movies.



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« #15982 : April 19, 2016, 01:31:40 PM »

The novel was underwhelming, one of his weaker thrillers.
Well, I'm only half way through. I'll spin episodes 4-6 tonight and see how it develops.



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« #15983 : April 20, 2016, 05:02:08 AM »

Well, I'm only half way through. I'll spin episodes 4-6 tonight and see how it develops.

The series can be great. It is wiser anyway to film weak novels with potential, as you can improve the stuff.


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« #15984 : April 20, 2016, 05:20:38 AM »

Well, stanton was right. I watched the final 3 episodes last night and, although the storytelling remains strong for parts 4 (which includes a trip to Istanbul) and 5 (highlighted by a live-fire demo that concludes with a burst of napalm), in episode 6 the whole thing runs out of steam long before the end. The biggest problem is that things are too easy for the protagonist. Initially he has to find a way to be taken in by the bad guy and become part of his inner circle. He accomplishes that, by devious means, by the end of episode 3. Then, for reasons the series doesn't make clear, the guy, in episode 4, is made the lead in the baddy's current evil scheme. There's another character in the inner circle who objects, and has his suspicions about the hero, but this character is quickly sidelined and then even killed off. There's one hiccup after that, but other than that it's all smooth sailing for our hero. The villain (Hugh Laurie in charming swine mode) never cottons to the fact that his protégé is setting him up--incredible! I kept waiting for some twist involving the villain leading the hero on, but it never came. I also expected a twist from the hero--maybe an additional agenda that British intelligence doesn't realize. Nope, nothing there either. So the final wind up is pretty much a going-through-the-motions exercise. No twists, no surprises, everything plays out as expected. Rather disappointing. Ultimately I give the series overall a 7/10. The promise of the earlier episodes is not fulfilled.



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« #15985 : April 21, 2016, 11:42:11 PM »

The Twelve Chairs (1970) - 7/10

The Brooks' movie I always kinda avoided: it is somewhat different in style since it has an original story to follow - which works very well for me now,  but didn't when I was a kid. Memorable performances from Moody and Langella don't hurt either. Nice little comedy.


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« #15986 : April 22, 2016, 10:59:07 AM »

The Last American Hero - 8/10 - Jeff Bridges is a moonshiner who becomes a stock car driver. I enjoyed it.



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« #15987 : April 22, 2016, 03:21:44 PM »

Also caught the later part of the new Ken Burns documentary on Jackie Robinson (his reactions to Barry Goldwater, the Black Power movement, his son's decline, etc.). About what you'd expect from Burns.



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« #15988 : April 22, 2016, 08:01:26 PM »

we were discussing Bridge of Spies a little while ago; I mentioned that I had  a problem with the script and would elaborate later on when I had the time. That's now:

This post will contain spoilers:

My problem is that in the second half of the movie, nothing seems to happen. (The problem exists cuz this is a true story, and they have to stick to the truth). Hanks is sent to negotiate for the prisoner exchange, and he negotiates it and they make the exchange. Okay, a minor point that he insist on 2 for 1, playing the East Germans off the Russians, but there really are no twists here at all. This is really straightforward: they send him to do the prisoner exchange, he does it, and that's all. Okay, the set design and costumes and cinematography evoke the era nicely, but there really is nothing exciting in the story. I was waiting for some big twist, something, which I'd expect for a spy movie, but there really was none of that.

so, they negotiate the prisoner exchange, they make the prisoner exchange, and everyone (at least the Americans) live happily ever after. Not very interesting.

It isn't a spy movie. It's a negotiation movie. You have to like it (or not) for what it is.


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« #15989 : April 23, 2016, 10:40:58 AM »

And Then There Were None (1945) 7/10. This Agatha Christie chestnut is presented with a lighter touch than usual. The deaths keep on coming, but also the laughs. The cast includes Walter Huston, Judith Anderson, Roland Young, Barry Fitzgerald, even C. Aubrey Smith. The female talent is supplied by June Duprez, but then, you can't have everything.
And Then There Were None (2015) - 7/10. British TV version, in 3 parts. The cast contains some of my favorites: Charles Dance (as the judge), Sam Neil, Miranda Richardson. There are also a number of young faces who were new to me. According to the filmmakers they went back to Christie's book and closely followed it. Well, yes and no. The action is set in 1939, the basic plot remains intact, including the original bleak ending. However, because they had three hours to tell the story, the filmmakers decided to do a lot of flashbacks, so we don't merely hear about the characters committing their supposed crimes, we actually see them at it. For the most part this is unnecessary padding, but in the case of the main female character it actually provides some added interest. For the other characters we see their flashbacks once each, but her flashback keeps returning, and, Leone-like, supplying us with more details until, at the point of dying, we get the whole story. And that story includes an homage to Leave Her To Heaven! Another bit I enjoyed: because there are three separate parts, there's a separate credit sequence for each. And because characters keep getting killed off, each subsequent list of credits is always shorter than the previous one. Gave me a chuckle.



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