The Road Warrior Review
Review # 163
Director – George Miller
Cast – Mel Gibson, Bruce Spence, Emil Minty, Michael Preston
Filmed in Australia, The Road Warrior is a dirty, rough and tumble, bizarre gem of a movie, perfectly utilizing the Australian Outback’s harsh landscape. Mel Gibson returns to his star making role as “Max”, in what we know in North America as The Road Warrior, known everywhere else as Mad Max 2. The movie follows Max, a loner badass who wanders the desolate dystopian landscape searching for precious gasoline, which has become the only thing of value in this desperate world.
Being a sequel to a movie no one in America saw, we are brought up to speed in a brief prologue, summing up, if not the events, then the tone of the previous movie. Shrunk down to the center of the screen and shown in black and white, it offers the perfect contrast when we smash cut to a close up shot of Max’s wide, intimidating grill. From that moment on the movie kicks into high gear and floors it, right until the final shot.
And what a trip! What a bizarre, adrenaline pumping trip! I originally had no interest in this movie; the stupid looking punk outfits and hairdo’s made the whole thing look like B-level trash. But George Miller knew what to do with the material; he built a consistent world, shot it classy, and keep everything moving. Nothing is treated as if it’s crazy; which just goes to make the crazy stuff digestible.
It has a strangely touching sense of honour and pride about it too. The characters (except for our lead, at the beginning anyway) believe in things, we can sense it. There is a ragtag group who Max falls in with, and we can see that he longs for their family warmth. He deserts them initially, but then comes back. Whether or not he stays is truly at the heart of the character. Well, calling Max a character may be a bit of an overstatement. He’s The Man With No Name, down under. Clint Eastwood, but fallible.
The Road Warrior is fun, fast, and has production values it shouldn’t have gotten in a logical world. It’s no wonder that this series launched Mel Gibson to international stardom. George Miller made a unique movie here. Recommended to action fans, sci-fi fans, and fans of a good time.
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Agree? Disagree? Feel free to leave your comments below!
The Exorcist: Extended Director’s Cut Review
Review # 141
Director – William Friedkin
Cast – Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Millers, Max von Sydow, Lee J. Cobb, William O’Malley
– followed by Excorcist II: The Heretic
I am not a horror movie fan in general, and don’t expect to become one any time soon. I have a sneaking suspicion this is the result of all the torture porn out there, which isn’t true horror, in my opinion anyway. I just don’t like horror movies that rely on gore and/or jump moments for their effect. The horror movies I do like tend to inspire not so much horror per se, but a slow and rising feeling of dread. Movies where the tension just builds up and builds up, not to be released in a “jump” moment, but in an inevitable series of events, the climax that the movie has been building too.
The Exorcist is a movie like that. It hasn’t aged well in some ways, as in todays desensitized culture the shock elements are perhaps not as shocking as they once were. But The Exorcist is still unnerving, chilling, and even moving. This is good, as those are the more important elements of the movie anyway. The story is really at the forefront here, and that’s how you make a good horror movie, or any movie for that matter, regardless of genre.
We follow actress Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn), whose young daughter Regan (Linda Blair) is starting to behave oddly. After countless doctors fail to come to a diagnosis, and as Regan is acting worse and worse, she feels she has no choice but to turn to a priest for an exorcism. She finds Father Karras (Jason Miller), a priest who privately feels himself to be losing his faith in God. He manages to convince the church that an exorcism is required, at which point Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) is brought in to lead it.
This movie of course has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in its time, mainly of course for the disturbing and hideous transformation of sweet 12-year-old Regan into a possessed blasphemer and, well… cross fetishist, but the scenes detailing her experiences with the medical community are almost as bad. Perhaps it is because this torture seems to come from a more real and concrete world. It is to the movie’s credit that by the end of the movie we fully believe that the demons and exorcism are just as real. The director apparently had a lot of experience with making documentaries. Perhaps the sense of realism that is palpable throughout the movie stems from that. Strange though it may seem, the most important thing in horror movie is that sense of realism. Without it, no strange and gruesome events would ever be really scary.
The Exorcist is a drama with scary bits, and works beautifully that way. It puts story above scares. While the shock factor may not work quite as well to a modern viewer, it makes up for it with an engaging story and excellent acting. Highly recommended (to those who can stomach this kinda thing).
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The Man with the Golden Arm REVIEW
Director – Otto Preminger
Cast – Frank Sinatra, Eleanor Parker, Kim Novak, Arnold Stang, Darren McGavin
The Man with the Golden Arm stars Frank Sinatra as “Frankie Machine” (is it just me who hates it when a character played by a huge star has the same first name?) in a story about drug abuse that was controversial and even revolutionary in its time. The Motion Picture Association of America wouldn’t even certify the film, which would generally signify certain death to a film. It was released however, and found an overwhelming success, both critically and in terms of box office receipts.
The plot is one of the ultimate under-dog stories. Frankie Machine is a recently recovered drug addict. He is not a poor man, but he is certainly not well off. He is a bit down on his luck, but we get the impression when we first see him that he is a changed man. Throughout the film we see him slip more and more towards that original man, but we never see him go back across it.
Upon his release from the detox center we see that Frankie’s invalid wife has since lost her trust in him. She pretends to be still wheelchair-bound despite having recovered during his stint in rehab, worrying that Frankie will leave her if he no longer feels he must support her. His old employer, for whom Frankie dealt illegal card games, tries to rope him back in, and his old drug dealer tries to bring him back into the fold as well. He resists these temptations very well at first. He has an oppurtunity to play drums for a big band, and looks forward with great anticipation to the moment where he can lift himself out of his old life. His dealer, of course, has other plans…
So, while the movie perhaps fail to directly use the phrase “drug addiction”, we then come to realize that it certainly will not fail to address the actual issue in a brutal and bracing way. We see Frankie go from the “high” of being released from the detox center to the lows of re-addiction. Heroin’s grip on him increases, until he, with the help of a “close-friend” (his mistress) he decides to quit cold-turkey. In the movie’s most famous scene he is locked in a room for three days, til he no longer feels the addiction. We see Frankie rolling around on the floor and the bed in agony, as the camera passively watches. It is a powerful scene, and one that cinched Sinatra’s Oscar nomination.
In some ways it is hard to see how the film could have caused such an uproar, and in other ways not. It is certainly an intense film that follows its character through quite painful lows, but there isn’t even one use of the word “drug” or “heroin” or “addiction” once in the whole thing. Any actual mention of the issue is danced around so much… but I guess that is an indication of the social mores of the time, rather than an artistic decision. While this may throw off some of today’s viewers, if taken in stride and seen as an example of the times in which the film is made then it isn’t too much to worry about.
When talking about the performances it is of course necessary to give Sinatra all praise possible not only for his wonderful acting (through which he never trivializes the role of “drug slave”), but for his pure bravery in taking on such a controversial film, and thus giving it an audience it never would have had otherwise. However Kim Novak (as Frankie’s mistress) is definitely worth a mention as well. Here, three years away from her famous role in Vertigo, she delivers a performance that is much better than her turn in that film. She looks, speaks, and moves much more naturally than most other female actors of the time. For example her co-star here, Eleanor Parker, acts very much in the style of the melodramatic female stars of the earlier film era. Novak is convincing and subdued, which works perfectly well against Sinatra.
This movie can ultimately be said to be about forgiveness, and whether or not people should have a second chance. The answer given un seems to be “No, they should not have a second chance until they have been proven worthy of it, or changed themselves of their own volition.” One may need a dear friend to get through it, but it must in the end come from within. Frankie is a good man, one who is led astray, true, but he is a good man at heart. While it is a movie about a bleak subject, it ends on a note of ultimate optimism. The movie asserts that good people will triumph in the end. Frankie certainly does, and we are right along with him.
I find it hard to give The Man with the Golden Arm the praise which I feel it deserves, both as a remarkably gripping film and as one that was ahead of its time in its outlook. The acting is impeccable, and the tone is presented perfectly. Most of all, I think it is written very well, and that is, in the end, where such believable characters come from. Kudos to all involved for doing so well with the material, and also for taking on material that was so controversial (for its time). Recommended to all.
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In Bruges REVIEW
Director – Martin McDonagh
Cast – Brendan Gleeson, Colin Farell, Ralph Fiennes, Clémence Poésy, Jordan Prentice, Thekla Reuten
In Bruges features Brendan Gleeson (Ken) and Colin Farell (Ray) as hitmen who have been ordered by their boss Harry, played by Ralph Fiennes, to “hide out” in the Belgian town of Bruges after Ray botched a kill. Botched as in “killed a little kid as well as the target”.
The town of Bruges, in Belgium, is a quaint little town. Some may find it boring. Ray certainly does. Ken on the other hand relishes the medieval atmosphere and the sights which can be seen. He pulls Ray around with him, walking through the winding streets or going on little boat tours of the idyllic canals. The only time we see Ray get excited is when he sees a film crew filming a dream sequence at night. “Look, they’re filming midgets!” Ray is not too bright. Thankfully, Ken is. Yin and yang.
Apparently the idea for this film came from writer/first time director Martin McDonagh’s trip to Bruges. He found himself intrigued by both the wonder and boredom he found himself feeling. This is key to the movie’s tone. It is a comedy, but a pitch black one, even to the point of melancholy. It has the feel of a dying man finding something hilarious. Farell and Gleeson play their two sides of this particular coin very well. Farell in particular reveals comic talents I never knew he had. These are fully dimensional characters, but sketched very minimally, fleshed out perfectly by the actors. By the end we find ourselves believing utterly in every move these two make.
I should also mention that the actions the characters take and the directions in which the movie goes are almost totally devoid of cliché and routine. It truly is difficult, even impossible, to guess where the movie will go. The plot is a result of the characters actions, not visa versa. This is so refreshing to see.
Unfortunately, many will find In Bruges’ weird mix of serious comedy and dramatic lunacy to be a turn off. It’s too different, too unpredictable. It is of course for this very reason that I am commending this movie. It was certainly not made for too mainstream an audience, and for that I am eternally grateful.
In Bruges is weird, wacky, and wonderful. It is quick-witted, unique without labouring the point, and full of strong characters. This is truly the result of a director with a unique vision who managed to dodge all the studios usual meddling. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to see a different kind of movie.
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The Adventures of Robin Hood REVIEW
Director – Michael Curtiz, William Keighley
Cast – Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patrick Knowles, Allan Hale, Melville Cooper, Eugene Pallette, Ian Hunter, Herbert Mundin, Una O’Connor
There have been many interpretations of the traditional Robin Hood legend, from Douglas Fairbanks’ stunt-athon in 1922, to Disney’s anthropomorphic tale, to Kevin Costner’s attempt at a more realistic version with Prince of Thieves. Frankly there hasn’t been a genre not attempted with the Robin Hood tale. Even Mel Brooks had a stab at it with Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and we have a gritty, blockbuster version coming up soon directed by Ridley Scott and featuring Russel Crowe, Robin Hood.
Regardless of who tries or in what genre the movie is set, all versions of the Robin Hood legend since the 40’s have been compared to this version, and rightly so. The Adventures of Robin Hood is fast and fun, without a single scene wasted. Using the fairly new Technicolor system, this movie has a brilliant palette and bright, simple, yet energetic costumes. Errol Flynn brings out every image we could possibly have of a capable, slightly cocky, yet down to earth hero. The rest of the actors are perfectly cast, from Claude Rains as the scheming Prince John, Basil Rathbone (later to gain fame, and eventual type-casting, as Sherlock Holmes) as the villainous Sir Guy, to Patrick Knowles as Will Scarlett, and Alan Hale as Little John.
The greatest virtue of the movie is its lightning quick pace. In a risky move we are given no background on virtually any of the characters, and are just shoved into the plot. No line or scene is wasted, with the speed of the movie gathering as it continues. We all know who Robin Hood is, and what the basic story will be like, so we as an audience want something that will feel fresh even though it uses the stock characters from the legends. Speed and wit are important to achieve that, and this movie has that in spades. This would not have worked, however, without such excellent characterization.
A word on the musical score as well. It was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, a noted German composer who had worked on a few other Warner Bros. films, most notably A Midsummer’s Night Dream and Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood. He was in Austria when offered the job of composing the score for The Adventures of Robin Hood, and moved to America to compose it. Shortly afterwards Hitler cracked down on Jews in any Nazi-occupied territory, and Korngold then said that this score saved his life. It is a wonderful score, and rightly one of Korngold’s most famous. It is light and sprightly where it needs to be, and dark and imposing when that is called for. Most of all, it is full of energy and life, much like the hero himself.
The Adventures of Robin Hood is one of the benchmarks in action movie history. The cast is all excellent, and Errol Flynn is still the definitive Robin Hood (in the light action mode). Heck, he is one of the definitive action stars of all time, and this is probably his best role (even though he claims to have been bored with it). Well this is one film no audience will be bored with. Recommended to anyone who likes the classics or movies in general.
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2001: A Space Odyssey REVIEW
Director – Stanley Kubrick
Cast – Keir Dullea, Gary Rockwood, William Sylvester, Douglas Rain
– followed by 2010: The Year We Make Contact
2001: A Space Odyssey is often hailed as one of the best science fiction films ever made, and even one of the best films period. I can’t say I disagree. The themes of the film, the ground breaking special effects (which still hold up today), and the pure vision are all excellent reasons to consider this film as one of the Greats. The “antagonist” of the movie (if there is one) is the infamous HAL-9000 computer, who has become one of the most iconic film characters of all time, and the song The Blue Danube has become forever linked with graceful space travel.
In short, this movie has been lauded, praised, and generally worshipped so much that is pointless for me to continue too much. It is a masterpiece, and it is unique, but it is not perfect.
Heaven forbid that such a thing be said. However, it is important to always see a film in context, and with an unbiased eye; especially one as revered as this one.
The quibble I have (and rest assured it is only a quibble, and a comparatively minor one) is in the length of some shots. The film in and of itself is well-paced. It is deliberate, slow, and precise. But off and on there will be a sequence where the shot length is unjustified, in my opinion. The two main points where I noticed this were as follows: when Dr. Poole goes outside the spaceship to fix the infamous AE-35 unit, we are shown his spaceship move all the way around the ship to get tot he offending antennae. It is a very long scene, one that really has no purpose, and kills any tension already established. The second is the famous “Entry into Jupiter” scene. This is essentially one long sequence of dazzling pyrotechnic displays of light,and is absolutely psychedelic and mesmerizing. I don’t know why Kubrick decided to make it 10 minutes long. However, it is almost indefensible in my opinion.
This movie is, at heart, an art film, and Kubrick was definitely experimenting all throughout the film. Thus, that such little quibbles should be raised is inevitable. The power of the movie, the vision, the uniqueness of its storytelling methods, and yes, its “flaws”, all come together to create a truly unique experience, and one that is downright moving. It is rare that such a big budget is allowed for such a personal project, but it was, and because of that we have one of the best films of all time. if I may glow, it even transcends the time period that the film was made. There are very few clues as to when the film was made (except for a few of the actors; some are stereotypical Leave-it-to-Beaver types, all white, straight-laced “Mad Men“), and as I said earlier, the special effects are top-notch. Any film lover who has any resemblance of an open mind should watch this, and then watch it again.
2001: A Space Odyssey is a classic in all the good senses of the word. It is one of the most highly original movies I have seen, if not the most. It’s sense of awe, majesty, and power will leave you amazed. It is marvelous.
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Director – Alfred Hitchcock
Cast – James Stewart, Kim Novak, Barbara Del Geddes, Tom Helmore
Vertigo was directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on the book D’entre les morts (The Living and the Dead) by Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud. Despite a rather lukewarm reception upon its initial release, it is today frequently called Hitchcock’s masterpiece.
The story features a retired detective (is there any other kind?) called “Scotty”, who is played by Jimmy Stewart. He suffers from a condition which gives him vertigo, or the fear of heights. He is lured back into one more case by a friend, who fears his wife’s body is being taken over by a dead ancestor. However, with all apologies to Shakespeare for the butchering, the twists the thing, wherein to catch the attention of the audience. Without the mid point twists, where the movie shifts gears dramatically, the movie would have been a hopelessly derivative one, but thankfully the plot I just described is only the springboard Hitchcock uses to get to the second act,where the real themes of deception, obsession, and loss come through.
The movie treats these themes maturely and honestly. We are shown Scotty losing a loved one and then obsessing over her, even meeting a stranger on the street who resembles her and harassing her until she goes to dinner with him. Scotty is never excused for his actions, and due to scenes showing his illness after her death (and the fact that he is played by Jimmy frickin’ Stewart) we always sympathize with him. This is rather chilling, as we realize we are being made to sympathize with a man who becomes nothing less than a stalker, who brutishly forces another woman to become his lost love. This is most likely, I think, the reason why critics and audiences weren’t as kind to this film as to other of Hitchcock’s films. It is in fact, rather off putting at first. However, Hitchcock sticks to his guns, and never excuses Scotty, which was a brave move and, in the end, a great one.
In 1996 Vertigo‘s actual physical film negative underwent a complete restoration. It was extensively cleaned and polished, as it had degraded considerably. It became known as a rather controversial restoration, as the color mix was alleged to not be exactly the same shades as was originally intended, and the sound mix was also redone from scratch. The original actors voices were, of course, kept, but all sound effects were totally redone.
My point is, this movie has become so loved (even obsessed over, which is interesting as obsession is a main theme of the film) that people are upset when even the sound effects are replaced with (apparently identical sounding) replacements. I find this dangerous, and is the type of devotion usually reserved for the “Greedo shot first and Lucas changed three shots in the new release of A New Hope and so I want the Original right now” variety of movie goers. It is important when reviewing any movie (ESPECIALLY a revered classic) to keep an open mind, and, not to put too fine a point on it, to see and recognize where things go wrong. And while Vertigo is really a wonderful movie (and one of my favorites) there are some things wrong with it. Small things of course, but they are there nonetheless.
The main thing wrong is the ending of the movie. Without giving any details away, the editing is awful. If one cut (of about half a second) had been made to a single shot, the movie would have ended on a much more convincing note. If you have seen it, you most likely know of what I am speaking. If not though, please don’t let it bother you. If that is all a movie has wrong with it, it must be a good one indeed.
The only other major problem is a character called Midge, or rather, how she is used. She is Scotty’s ex-fiance, but the two are on wonderfully good terms. She is played beautifully by Barbara del Geddes. Rarely will you find a more caring, strong , and even complex woman character on film. She is a strong supporting character throughout the film, yet she is abandoned with still a large part of the movie to go. I wanted some resolution for her character, yet none is given. Now in the DVD I have of the movie they include a “European Ending” to the film, which Hitchcock was mandated to make for the European market. Part of it shows Jimmy going to Midge’s home after the events of the film are over. He says nothing, and she says nothing, and they stand silhouetted by the window, with drinks in their hands. It is a simple shot, but it says so much, and it is inferred that the two stay friends, with Midge helping Scotty through his hard times. If only this ending was used!!
(The “European Ending” also has Midge listening to the radio, and the announcer describes how the “bad guy” of the film is caught. This was a requirement of the time, but Hitchcock was so angry to be forced to change the film that he added a bit to the newscast. The announcer goes on to read (after the announcement of the villain’s capture) a report of high school students mounting a cow and riding her up the steps of the Town Hall. This totally ruins the seriousness of the scene, and was Hitchcock’s middle finger to the censors who made him change his film. With this taken out however, I much prefer the European Ending.)
There is not much else to say, as this film has been reviewed to death. All I can do is recommend you watch this (of course, with an open mind as always.) Hitchcock is on the top of his game here, as are the major performers. Bernard Hermann’s score is nothing less than iconic, and the film altogether is one of the moodiest and atmospheric meditations on human behavior you will ever see. Enjoy!
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The Wrestler REVIEW
Director – Darren Aronofsky
Cast – Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood
Mickey Rourke is a great actor.
Many people never thought we would hear that statement again, after all of Mickey Rourke’s critically panned movies in the late 1980’s, his move to a boxing career, and his bit-part roles afterwards. However he fought his way back and started getting some roles in films like Man On Fire, Domino, and Sin City. Then fate called in the form of Darren Arnofsky, director of The Wrestler, who offered him the lead role of Randy “The Ram” Robinson.
This movie is the most gripping movie I have seen in a while. It is quite low-key, yet builds up a feeling of hopelessness and longing that will not be matched for a while. It is hard to imagine Nicholas Cage in the role (as was originally planned). Mickey Rourke brings an intimate and natural feel to his performance, most likely attributable in part to his brief boxing career.
The camera is handled in a documentary manner; half the movie is shots of Mickey Rourke’s back as he walks into the ring, or down the hallway at the grocery store where he works. This method works wonderfully towards the tone of the movie; when we see the wrestlers slamming themselves around in the ring or staple-gunning each other and themselves (!) we really feel it. Some moments in the movie are seemingly as gruesome as anything in Saw. I literally had to turn my head away a couple times, it is that realistic.
Such scenes could come across as gratuitous, except that everything presented in the ring is based on fact. This movie doesn’t condone or condemn these acts committed in the name of entertainment; it merely shows us what happens, and Randy’s love for it. It does, perhaps, question why he loves it, but such a question is only natural given what we are shown.
It was mentioned by a reader that The Wrestler has a very generic story line, that of a washed up athlete and a hooker with a heart of gold. I recognize that at its base that story is there, but here the execution and style of the movie raise the story far above its roots. There is a cliche or two, but the movie’s so good you barely notice them, if at all.
The movie is ultimately about underdogs, and what happens to the ones who can’t rise to the top, the ones who just do what they love and damned be the consequences. Mickey Rourke owns this movie, but all the supporting actors are excellent, Marise Tomei in particular. She plays the “hooker with the heart of gold”, but with grace, dignity, and pride. It is an excellent and difficult role, but she pulls it off.
The Wrestler is a tough, grimy, sad movie, much like its title character. Parts are a bit tough to watch, but in context fit the movies story perfectly. All the actors are excellent, but this is really Mickey Rourke’s movie; and a great movie it is too. Highly recommended.
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A Christmas Story REVIEW
Director – Bob Clark
Cast – Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz
I’d always heard of A Christmas Story. My fiance grew up with movie, as did many others, and has been nagging me to watch it for ages. I gave in today, and I couldn’t be gladder that I did. This movie is touching and frikin hilarious; but most of all its so true! I think most people watching this movie will see some close to home moments here (played as humour of course). The voiceover by actor Darren McGiver (playing the older main character) is calming and reassuring, and again, hilarious. He portrays perfectly the sense of weight and importance which every kid sees his world.
The cast is all around great; Peter Billingsley as the lead, (Ralph Parker) is exceptionally good. Ralph is a young boy whose only wish for Christmas is a BB gun. He tries hinting every way he can think of to get his wish across to his parents. Will he get the gift of his dreams? Gee, I don’t know. You’ll just have to watch this absolute gem of a movie to find out.
The themes touched on in this movie are dead on, and as I said, will bring back memories of childhood to most viewers. We see bullying in the character of uber bully Scut Farkus; there is a great scene where Ralph beats up the bully and then fears punishment from his father; and another classic scene where Ralph meets Santa; and a scene where Ralph discovers the true meaning of Chritmas: Advertising Dollars. It is billed as a “family movie” to be sure (because, I suspect, it is about a family and they didn’t know how else to market it), but this is truly a movie to be seen as an adult, looking back on your younger days. A Christmas Story is set around 1940, yes, but it is about everybody’s Christmas. The years may change, but some things don’t. This movie is timeless.
Though for a movie billed as a family film, there sure is alot of swearing…
This movie is a timeless classic. Its crazy energy, touching humour, and nostalga make it irresistable. There is alot of swearing in it, so I personally wouldn’t let anyone too young watch it. But otherwise, this is a movie not to be missed.
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Amadeus: The Director’s Cut REVIEW
Director – Milos Forman
Cast – Tom Hulce, F. Murray Abraham, Elizabeth Durridge, Jeffrey Jones
I’ve more or less grown up with the movie Amadeus, a movie centered around Mozart. In fact, I’ve grown up with Mozart’s music as well. I’ve always loved it when I have a chance to introduce the movie to someone else. We watched it in music class in high school, and I recently persuaded my girlfriend to watch it. She was very reluctant to, but eventually I put it in the player, and she loved it. It felt good to watch someone appreciate it as much as I had. This movie really is one in a million, the pacing is just right, the feel of it is perfect, and the music… well, it’s Mozart. The story is one of the best in any movie.
The only possible problem I have with the movie is Tom Hulce’s (Mozart) acting. Don’t get me wrong, I love his take on the character, gigling, impulsive and annoying as heck. However, he just is not a great actor. However, he isn’t that bad, it’s just that he’s with some great talent here. F. Murray Abraham deserves all the credit he can get for his portrayal of Salieri, Mozart’s vengeful rival. He is subtle, angry, creepy, and a blast to watch. He deserved every accolade he could get for that role.
Milos Forman directed this movie; the only other movie of his I have seen is One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but I don’t remember it well enough to compare them. He also directed Hair and Man on the Moon.
Also of note in this movie is an appearance of a young Cynthia Nixon, who would go on to star in “Sex and the City” (as the red headed one, Miranda). She plays a young maid who is either scared or intimidated for 90 percent of the film; she plays frightened very well I might add.
Jeffrey Jones is another fine character actor who appears; here he plays Emperor Joseph II, Mozart’s employer and ruler. He is perfectly cast in this role, his little “catch-phrase” of sorts which he has (based on something the Emperor actually said frequently) is hilarious, and Jones uses perfect comic timing with each delivery.
This movie can definitely be enjoyed by anyone and everyone, regardless of whether they like classical music. Although, by the end of this movie, I think they will enjoy classical music, and good for them, too. A funny, dramatic, inspiring, and tragic story, recommended to all.
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