Posts Tagged ‘romance’

Så som i himmelen – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Oktober 18th, 2010


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.

My Own Private Idaho – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, Oktober 13th, 2010


Young male gay prostitutes River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves go on a road trip in this meandering early film by acclaimed director Gus van Sant spanning from Seattle to Portland, Idaho and Rome. Along the way, they learn a lot about themselves and about life, as well as that in the end, you can’t change who you are and that your path is preordained. Or something along those lines. But the plot is not really the focus here, as van Sant experiments with the art form film, often with little success, but with a few truly memorable ideas. Phoenix delivers the best performance in his short career, anchoring a film that otherwise would have been quickly forgotten.

Random Observations:

My Own Private Idaho at the IMDb

Part of the story was inspired by William Shakespeare’s plays Henry IV and Henry V. When the characters go so far as to quote the original dialogue, it becomes a tad annoying.

Also from the experimental department: having the characters appear as cover pictures for gay sex magazines and then let them talk about that for a while. Or telling stories directly to the camera. Or sex scenes consisting of poses for still photograph. Most of these disrupt the flow of the movie even more than the Shakespearean dialogue.

In a world of gay prostitutes and their clients, of course the only truly perverted person is German. Or maybe he isn’t all that perverted and just very, very odd. Also another German trademark.

Say Anything… – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, Oktober 8th, 2010


Lovable loser John Cusack decides to date high school valedictorian Ione Skye. Surprisingly, she actually agrees to this. What follows is a sweet story about first love, combined with some unnecessary dramatic elements and some clever dialogue. Young John Cusack is adorable and his character Lloyd Dobler might be the most sought-after guy in movie history. Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, the film showcases his raw talent for emotionally touching stories, without ever achieving greatness, for it is too mired in mediocrities.

Random Observations:

Say Anything… at the IMDb

Well, will you look at that. This really has been “80s teen comedy week”.

John Cusack’s sister is played by Joan Cusack, his real life sister. Sort of like Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko. Only much earlier.

Crowe already displayed his interest in music here. An interest that earlier and later culminated in Almost Famous, the somewhat biographical film about his experiences of working for Rolling Stone as a teenager.

Sixteen Candles – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Oktober 4th, 2010


A day before her sister’s wedding, Molly Ringwald’s entire family forgets her sixteenth birthday. And that is not the only trouble she has: the boy she likes doesn’t even know her and she has to fend of the advances of perennial geek Anthony Michael Hall. In short, not one of her better days, but things are definitely looking up in this classic teen comedy from classic teen comedy writer-director John Hughes, his début feature. He hasn’t quite gotten the grip on teen angst he later demonstrated with The Breakfast Club and the film is not nearly as outrageously funny as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it’s a solid first effort that is definitely worth seeing if you’ve ever been a teenager and especially if you were a teenager in suburban America in the 1980s.

Random Observations:

Sixteen Candles at the IMDb

Both Hughes regulars were only fifteen when the film was made, actually fitting the age of their characters.

John Cusack has a small role in this film as another geek – not quite the role he’ll be remembered for.

His sister Joan Cusack is also in this film. And a Beth Ringwald – Molly’s older sister. John Hughes definitely made family films…

Dear God, was Long Duk Dong ever offensive. I always thought political correctness had arisen in the early 80s.

Harold and Maude – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, September 24th, 2010


Harold is a young man obsessed with death – he attends funerals for fun and likes to stage fake suicides. His rich single mother naturally despairs. Maude is about to turn 80 and embraces life to the fullest, doing whatever she wants with vigour, fascinating Harold. Hal Ashby’s 1971 film is the first quirky American romantic comedy, pairing two people who couldn’t be more different and yet fit together perfectly, despite or especially because of the huge age difference. The film is funny, touching and bitter-sweet, accompanied by a Cat Stevens soundtrack that fits the tone of the film perfectly. Really, there is no excuse for not having seen this film yet, but if you haven’t and enjoy grotesque humour paired with horribly true life lessons, you’ll love this film.

Random Observations:

Harold and Maude at the IMDb

Bud Cort is perfect in the lead role – I wonder whatever happened to him or rather his career. I don’t think he made a single good film since then.

The faked suicides are highly unrealistic, but very entertaining. How’s that for a sentence I never thought I’d write?

It’s a real shame that the Jaguar hearse did not survive the filming. Now there’s a car I’d love to drive!

Atlantic City – Minute Movie Review

Montag, August 23rd, 2010


Burt Lancaster is an ageing petty criminal with delusions of grandeur. He takes care of his dead friend’s widow, works as a small time bookie and dreams of the golden days when Atlantic City was run by the mob. Susan Sarandon works as a waitress in one of the casinos and dreams of being a blackjack dealer. When her husband and sister, who ran away together, arrive in town hoping to sell some drugs, all their lives will be changed. Louis Malle’s film is a harsh and bitter look at small time life in the once great city. There is no room here for greatness, just for everyday hopes and dreams, most of which are ultimately squashed. The plot or rather some behaviour of the characters is not quite consistent, but it detracts little from the otherwise very good film. Surprisingly sweet and funny, this 1980 film is a forerunner for the crime revival of the 1990s – just without the delusion of grandeur.

Random Observations:

Atlantic City at the IMDb

“I never wear a seatbelt. I don’t believe in gravity.” How’s that for a great line?

In the great tradition of themed weeks at Fabricated Truth, I have deemed this Louis Malle Week.

The film is a French-Canadian co-production, but was shot on location in Atlantic City, USA. (Which, incidentally, is the German title of the film.)

The great Wallace Shawn has one of his earliest roles in the film as a waiter. It’s always interesting to see such “big name actors” in their humble beginnings. And yes, I am aware that only one of regular readers has any idea who Wallace Shawn is.

The Remains of the Day – Minute Movie Review

Mittwoch, August 18th, 2010


Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) is the butler of the well-meaning Lord Darlington (James Fox), who is a strong proponent of appeasement to Nazi Germany. Stevens has dedicated his life to his work and is a perfect example of those old school British butlers. Meanwhile, a new housekeeper (Emma Thompson) arrives, but her love for him is not requited since he does not allow himself any feelings, also turning a blind eye to his master’s folly. The film is essentially a costume drama that is elevated by the strong theme of loyalty, dedication, servitude and their ultimate futility. Great performances elevate the romantic sub plot, which is perfectly underplayed.

Random Observations:

The Remains of the Day at the IMDb

Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, whose When We Were Orphans I always thought was the first novel I ever read in English outside of school. However, since it was only published in 2000 (and I have the paperback, no less), this simply can not be. Further proof that my memory is horrible – how’s that for a completely pointless insight into my life?

Hugh Grant is in this and on the record as stating that this was the best film he ever made.

I never thought much of Anthony Hopkins as an actor, finding him vastly overrated. This film, however, is almost enough to make me change my mind.

Ryan’s Daughter – Minute Movie Review

Donnerstag, August 12th, 2010


In a small Irish town in 1916, resentment over the British occupation is growing. Rose Ryan, meanwhile, is unhappy with how boring life in the town is, wanting something more. She marries the school teacher (Robert Mitchum), a widower who loves her dearly. But still, life isn’t as interesting as it should be, so it’s only natural that she engages in an affair with a British officer – something that surely can’t end well. Director David Lean was criticized for making a terribly expensive film about essentially nothing, but that misses the point. It is actually a beautiful, slowly paced film about love in its many variations, an engaging drama with a plot that keeps you interested despite – or because of – long stretches of nothing much happening. The Irish freedom fight simply serves as the backdrop and catalyst for the story, which is probably how it actually appeared in many of the small towns far removed from the struggle.

Random Observations:

Ryan’s Daughter at the IMDb

The film, or rather it’s negative critical reception, especially by Pauline Kael and the likes, pretty much ended David Lean’s career, prompting him to stop making films for 14 years. It’s a real shame, for if there is one director who knew how to make a truly epic film, it was him.

And yes, this film is not of the same quality as Lawrence of Arabia or The Bridge on the River Kwai, but it’s still very good.

John Mills won an Oscar for his painfully realistic portrayal of a mute, mentally handicapped men who is mistreated by the entire village – and who is one of the five men who love Rose, each in their own way.

This is a film that one really should see on the big screen, preferably the original 70mm print. But since this should be close to impossible, the DVD transfer is actually of decent quality and gives an idea of the beautiful cinematography.

The story is based on or at least very similar to Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, an excellent book that I remember very little of.

Two films (in this review cycle) ago, Mitchum played the adulterer, now he is the loving husband who sticks with his wife despite her adultery. And yes, he manages to convince in both roles.

North by Northwest – Minute Movie Review

Freitag, August 6th, 2010


New York advertising men Cary Grant is mistaken for somebody else and set up to be killed. He barely escapes, but nobody believes his story. As things move along, he gets more and more drawn into the plot, desperately trying to both find out what is going on and simply staying alive. The script was written especially for Alfred Hitchcock to make “the Hitchcock film to end all Hitchcock films” and it largely succeeds. It perfectly showcases Hitchcock’s humorous and fantastic side, while also being an excellent thriller.

Random Observations:

North by Northwest at the IMDb

This is the 21st Alfred Hitchcock film I’ve reviewed for this here publication. It’s also the first Hitchcock film I ever saw, many years before I ever decided to write my opinions on films down.

Saul Bass is probably the most underrated “signature” artist of the 20th century. The moment I saw the opening titles, I knew he had designed them. And this despite the fact that his titles for different films never look the same, he just has a very unique style.

This concludes our four week marathon of American Cinema of the 1950s. And what a high note to go out on!

Brigadoon – Minute Movie Review

Montag, Juli 26th, 2010


Gene Kelly and Van Johnson, two American hunters, come to Brigadoon, a magical town in Scotland that seems stuck in the 17th century. Kelly promptly falls in love with Cyd Charisse, a local girl, everybody sings and dances a bit, before the villain of the story, the only clear thinker in the town, threatens everything, there is some heartache and a happy ending. The story is filled with plot holes, horribly sappy and clichéd. Do not watch!

Random Observations:

Brigadoon at the IMDb

In our ongoing series of comparing two idols of American Cinema of the 1950s, Gene Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock, we have the first really bad film courtesy of Kelly.

Director Vincente Minnelli (yes, he is the father of Liza Minnelli) and Kelly both wanted to film in Scotland, but the studio objected. This is the reason why the town and Scotland look so unnatural – it was filmed entirely on stage.