Posts Tagged ‘music film’

Så som i himmelen – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Oktober 18th, 2010

Review:

The Swedish Film As in Heaven follows extremely successful conductor/musician Michael Nygvist after he has a near fatal heart attack and returns to the village of his youth to recuperate. Once there, the film uses every cliché of the usual underdog sports team drama, except that it’s about a choir and slightly more realistic than those films. But even the realism doesn’t change the fact that this is essentially the Swedish version of a Disney movie, what with the sappy uplifting and everything. If you go in for church choir movies, this is probably the best you can find. If you don’t, there are many better Swedish films to explore your love for Scandinavian cinema.

Random Observations:

Så som i himmelen at the IMDb

I really have nothing more to say here.

Unfaithfully Yours – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 8th, 2010

Review:

Rex Harrison plays a brilliant, but arrogant and egocentric conductor in this Preston Sturges comedy. When he suspects his wife of infidelity – brought about by his brother-in-law hiring a detective, much to his chagrin – he devises various plans to take care of the situation while brilliantly conducting. But reality, naturally, is not quite as simple as fantasy, and so thankfully we get a happy ending. The film has razor-sharp and witty dialogue and some decent performances from actors otherwise not known for their comedic prowess (like Harrison), but when the main character is so entirely unlikeable, one is hard-pressed to truly enjoy the film. Thankfully, the slapstick ending makes you forget all about that.

Random Observations:

Unfaithfully Yours at the IMDb

“A thousand poets dreamed a thousand years, then you were born, my love.” Quite possibly the sappiest last line in film history.

Much better: “Have you ever heard of Russian Roulette?” “Why, certainly. I used to play it with my father all the time.”

“Nobody handles Händel like you handle Händel.”

The film is set to the music of Rossini, Wagner and Tchaikovsky, which at times is brilliant, but at other moments is more distracting than anything else.

That’s Entertainment – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, August 4th, 2010

Review:

In this documentary made to celebrate MGM’s 50th anniversary in 1974, a bunch of their musical stars from the 1930s to 1950s take a look back at what made the studio great and successful: it’s all talking, all singing, all dancing musicals. It features clips from many of them, showing somewhat haphazardly the evolution of the studio and the art form. While the film actually explains very little, it’s at least an interesting look back at some of the biggest films and stars of the time, a good introduction into a film genre nobody really wants to see many examples off.

Random Observations:

That’s Entertainment! at the IMDb

Take a good look at the footage of MGM’s 25th anniversary celebratory luncheon and you will see that their claim “More Stars Than There Are In Heaven” was more than a slogan.

While not strictly speaking a film of the 1950s, this is nevertheless an interesting look at the American Cinema of that time. It also perfectly demonstrates while Gene Kelly’s (mostly) inferior films were more commercially and critically successful than Alfred Hitchcock’s: they were what people wanted, a distraction from their humdrum existence. Sure, they are cheesy, corny and a bunch of other things starting with “c”, but they are also light-hearted and simple fun.

This is the last film ever shot on the famous MGM backlot, with many of the sets already crumbling. They were torn down shortly afterwards, erasing the biggest reminder of Hollywood’s golden past for ever.

It’s interesting to note with how much regard Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire talk about each other. It’s unusual to see two so uniquely talented people appreciating the other one instead of seeing him as a rival or competitor.

I knew that pretty much everyone in Hollywood was reeled into musicals back in the day, but I never realized that this included such A-list talent as Cary Grant, Clark Gable and James Stewart. But at least they were forced by the studio, an excuse that Johnny Depp does not have…

Josie and the Pussycats – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Juni 14th, 2010

Review:

Reviled by critics and ignored by audiences, this adaptation of characters from the Archie comics is actually a clever satire of pop music and teenage culture. It’s hilariously over-the-top in almost every way, features surprisingly good (and delightfully silly) music and the most unpaid product placement in film history, all in order to parody the world we used to live in back in the good old days 0f 2001 – not that much has changed. After boy group Du Jour catch onto the fact that their music features subliminal messages to get teenage fans to part with their allowance, the “Chevy is taken to the levy” and svengali Alan Cumming quickly has to find a new band, finding aspiring rock musicians Rachael Leigh Cook, Rosario Dawson and Tara Reid (in the best performance of her lifetime, even if she wasn’t in on the joke) who jump at the chance to become superstars. The film deteriorates a bit in the second half when the satire has to make way for some silly plot, but overall it’s a vastly underrated and clever film.

Random Observations:

Josie and the Pussycats at the IMDb

The first scenes with Du Jour, starring Breckin Meyer and Seth Green, are amongst the funniest in the film, perfectly setting the tone for what is to come. Their hit song “Backdoor Lover” is also quite hilarious. And yes, it’s about exactly what you think it is about.

I don’t really know, but I’m fairly certain that apart from character names, the film has nothing to do with it’s comic book origins.

I think the problem many critics had with the film was that they could not spot that in order to satire certain things, the film actually had to do them. On the other hand, I would like to believe that professional film critics are smart enough to realize that having the logos of 73 companies featured prominently throughout the film (including the McDonalds logo on a shower wall) is not product placement, but satire thereof.

Cabaret – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, April 11th, 2010

Review:

In early 1930s Berlin, an American night club singer and a British philosopher/English teacher, fall in love while surrounded by the onset of national socialism. Naturally, there are not only political but also romantic problems, all set to the performances in the Cabaret. Loosely based on the stage musical which in turn is based on short stories by Christopher Isherwood (or something in that order), the film keeps the musical numbers to a minimum, thereby eradicating most iconic songs, instead focusing on the faux realism, even going so far as to shoot (in 1971) exclusively in Germany and even West Berlin. Nevertheless, the film hardly manages to deliver the atmosphere of the time, the love story is stereotypical and the well-choreographed stage numbers are simply not enough to redeem the film.

Random Observations:

Cabaret at the IMDb

Anybody in Germany curious to see the film should beware of the Eurovideo DVD. Not only is the film cropped to 1.33:1 (from 1.85:1), a cardinal sin in my and any film lover’s book, the sound mixing is also so terrible that large part of the dialogue are barely audible. To top it all off, there are not subtitles whatsoever. Despite the fact that the DVD was re-issued in 2009, this is worse than most early DVDs from over a decade ago.

This technical problems might also be the main reason for disliking the film. I feel kind of bad about judging the film without ever having seen it properly.

The film won an astonishing eight Oscars, including Best Actress for lead Liza Minnelli (who is decidedly too talented a singer to portray someone stuck in such a third-rate establishement) and Best Supporting Actor for Joel Grey, whose Master of Ceremonies is easily the best thing about the film.

Crazy Heart – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, März 4th, 2010

Review:

An alcoholic former Country star, now reduced to living in squalor and playing in bowling alleys, reconsiders his life when he meets a young journalist and falls for her. The story of the film is fairly trite and unoriginal, and the direction by débutante Scott Cooper is lacking in many ways, but the film is nevertheless made bearable by decent actors who take their caricatured characters to a better place than they belong, and some truly great Country music.

Random Observations:

Crazy Heart at the IMDb

The film is nominated for three Oscars. Best Actor for Jeff Bridges (okay, par for the course for him), Best Supporting Actress for Maggie Gyllenhaal (not okay, she is far below her usual standards here) and Best Original Song, The Weary Kind, which is all kinds of awesome.

This concludes my pre-Oscar Oscar-nominated film-watching. I have now seen 20 of 58 nominated films or 18 of 38 if you don’t count the shorts and documentaries, which nobody does any way. Tomorrow: my big Oscar piece with winner predictions, including the ever popular “Who should win” aspect, and Sunday the Awards show.

I actually really like Colin Farrell’s performance as the young pretty-boy country music superstar.

In sharp contrast to the cast of Nine, the actors in this film can actually sing.

Amadeus – Minute Movie Review

Sonntag, Januar 3rd, 2010

Review:

The composer Salieri, now confined to an insane asylum, tells a priest the story of how he did everything in his power to take down Mozart, the musical prodigy who he envied all his life and for whose death he ultimately feels responsible. The film, even though filled with historical figures like the two composers, doesn’t bother with historical accuracy, instead telling a fairly interesting story accompanied by some great music. It’s a well made film despite the liberties it takes or more precisely because of it, but with three hours run time (in the director’s cut) it runs too long to hold any interest and while the sardonic portrayal of Salieri by F. Murray Abraham is quite good, depicting Mozart as a bubbling fool is just silly and adds nothing to the story.

Random Observations:

Amadeus at the IMDb

This film isn’t the only source for Salieri envying Mozart, but that doesn’t really excuse it from depicting a talented composer as mediocre and an at least decent human being as pure evil.

Of course, having the two main characters just be colleagues, not bitter rivals, wouldn’t make for a very interesting story.

Incidentally, if you have never heard any Salieri, it is well worth your time. The same, naturally, goes for Mozart even more so, but I am just going to assume that you have heard some of his wonderful compositions.

The film’s title, taken straight from the stage play of the same name, is one of the best titles ever used, for Amadeus is not only Mozart’s middle name, but also means “loved by god”, which has great bearing on the plot of the film.

The Blues Brothers – Minute Movie Revie

Freitag, Oktober 2nd, 2009

Review:

What started out as a sketch on Saturday Night Live became the best musical comedy of all time, when Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi took their band of famous blues musicians on a mission from god to earn the money the orphanage they grew up in needs to pay its taxes. On the way, there is plenty of laughter and even more good music that makes the film a joy to watch.

Random Observations:

The Blues Brothers at the IMDb

I was nearly completely unaware of the whole story surround The Blues Brothers, including the fact  that they actually toured quite successfully.

Ray Charles looks nothing like Jamie Foxx.

Carrie Fisher was at the height of her Star Wars fame when she appeared in this film before slowly fading back from superstardom. Only Mark Hamill managed to disappear even more effectively.

I know that last point had nothing to do with the film, but it’s something I thought about while watching it, so it fits this category.

Ex Drummer – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, September 2nd, 2009

Review:

Three handicapped punk rockers living on the outskirts of humanity ask famous writer Dries to be the drummer in their band. Arrogantly, he descends to their level and begins toying with them, further ruining their already broken lives without barely noticing, just hunting for a new story. The film is extremely controversial for its portrayal of the edges of society. It’s brutal, misogynistic, homophobic, brutal (it bears repeating) and far from a pleasurable viewing experience. But it is also fascinating – it is actually interesting to follow the lives of a women-hating skinhead or a drug-abusing father of a young child. The film is sick and sickening to watch, but sometimes that is what takes to create something truly unique.

Random Observations:

Ex Drummer at the IMDb

A Belgian film based on the novel of controversial Belgian author Herman Brusselmans. It is very hard for me to imagine what the book is like, since the story practically screams for pictures and sound.

The film has been described as the “Trainspotting of the new century”. I still haven’t seen Trainspotting, but I doubt that it is quite as intense.

The beginning of the film is actually quite funny, if you enjoy dark humour. Of course, the laughs soon get stuck in your throat as you encounter the reality the characters face.

The film is extremely well acted, well made and has a great soundtrack. This is what makes the ordeal bearable.

Minute Movie Review – Les triplettes de Belleville

Samstag, April 25th, 2009

Review:

“The Triplets of Belleville” is a very strange film. It’s the animated story of a grandmother who would do anything for her melancholic grandson and trains with him to race in the Tour de France. But once there, he is abducted by gangster and she follows him across the ocean to Belleville to rescue him, enlisting the help of the aged vaudevillian triplets of Belleville. The animation is very unusual, often grotesque, and a throw-back to the style of the 1930s. The humour is dark and the film is packed with references to music and culture long gone as well as the consumerism of modern times. Almost dialogue free, the film relies on its pictures to tell the story. It’s not for everyone, but a film with a devoid cult following.

Random Observations:

Les triplettes de Belleville at imdb.com