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Saturday 15 February 2003

Movies I Have Seen Recently

I have had a ‘Movie Review’ category in the hopper since the beginning, but I have not used it. I figure that gassing about what movies I’ve seen recently will help pad out the entries here, in addition to being marginally useful to those who don’t have the sense to get their movie advice somewhere else.

Летят журавли a.k.a The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
Great cinematography and lighting. Worth seeing for the lighing alone. Won the Palme d’Or in 1958, and considered by many to be the beginning of the end of Soviet totalitarianism. That might be carrying things a bit too far, but the film is, broadly, about a girl and her soldier fiancé, and how for the girl the Great Patriotic War is significant mainly in that it separates them.

Soviet films — at least all the Soviet films I’ve ever seen — are solely about Big Ideas. You never get an idea, even an idealized propagandistic idea, of what living in the Soviet Union was like. Daily life in these movies is just the backdrop against which the Big Ideas are unfurled.

Stars Tatyana Samoilova, the Soviet Audrey Hepburn. She’s much better-looking that Audrey Hepburn, though.

Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Burt Lancaster stars as J.J. Hunsecker, a hard-charging New York… gossip columnist. Whenever I see a movie like this, I have to question whether characters like these were ever plausible.

Still, it’s unbelievable enough to be strangely interesting, while not so off-putting as to make you antsy for the end.

Features Susan Harrison (later to be mother of Darva Conger of Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire fame), for added visual interest.

Resident Evil (2002)
I avoided this when it was in the theatres, even though it had a cool trailer and starred Milla Jovovich, because it just seemed like a cheesy movie.

I watched it recently solely because of the recommendation of Perry de Haviland of Samizdata. He said it had a “nearly flawlessly executed story, was artfully directed, skillfully produced and very atmospheric” and “In short, this movie rocks”.

I would certainly then hate to see a film that Mr. de Haviland thinks could be punched up a bit, because Resident Evil was atrocious. It’s a scary movie that doesn’t so much try to scare you as it tries to startle you. All of the characters — all of them — save Jovovich’s Alice, are either cardboard cutouts or are so annoying and repugnant that you don’t particularly mind when they get killed. Perhaps I’m being too tough; de Haviland is comparing the movie to Tomb Raider, after all.

See The Fifth Element instead.

Rated X (2000)
Part of the way through, the DVD for Rated X refused to continue playing. I didn’t even bother to clean it, but just gave up and went to bed; this movie is that bad.

Characters randomly appear and disappear, and the characters that stick around are not believable. Considering that this was based on a true story — it’s about brothers who are porn producers in the 1960s and 70s — that’s particularly unforgiveable.

Posted by tino at 16:30 15.02.03
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