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Archive for November, 2011

THE ARTIST – Ludovic Bource

November 29, 2011 3 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Each year, around this time, an unexpected art house film emerges as a critical darling with Academy Awards potential. It happened to Life is Beautiful in 1998, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2000, Brokeback Mountain in 2005, Juno in 2007, Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, Precious in 2009… the list goes on and on. In 2011, that film could be The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius’s story about a silent movie matinee idol in 1920s Hollywood whose career is threatened by the advent of sound in motion pictures. The difference here, unlike those other films, is that The Artist is a silent film itself, shot in black and white and in such a way that the style and tone of the piece mirrors the very films in which Hazanavicius’s protagonist appears. The movie stars Jean Dujardin, Berenice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Missi Pyle and Penelope Ann Miller, and has already opened to great critical acclaim in the United States. Read more…

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55 DAYS AT PEKING – Dimitri Tiomkin

November 24, 2011 4 comments

MOVIE MUSIC UK CLASSICS

Original Review by Craig Lysy

55 Days at Peking is an epic film which joined politics and a love story as it explored European imperialism at the dawn of the 20th century. Set in Peking (now Beijing) we see the capital city occupied and under the financial domination of eleven European countries and Japan. They exploit the populace, are immune from Chinese laws and compete for economic control. A populist peasant rebellion called the Boxers rises up with fury and covert support from the Dowager Empress to expel the foreigners and restore Chinese honor and sovereignty. Producer Samuel Bronston assembled a stellar cast that included Charlton Heston as U.S. Major Matt Lewis, Ava Gardner as Russian Baroness, Natalie Ivanoff with whom he falls in love and David Niven as Sir Arthur Robinson, head of the British delegation. Regretfully despite the grandeur of its sets, its splendor and pageantry, the film’s narrative was uninspired, its script weak, and it suffered massive production challenges; implacable hostility between Heston and Gardner (she quit the film and they were forced to kill off her character!), went through four directors and ended up being both a commercial and critical failure. Read more…

IMMORTALS – Trevor Morris

November 22, 2011 1 comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Considering what a rich and vivid palette they have, and how much potential there is for great storytelling, there haven’t been many great films made about Greek gods. In the past couple of years Hollywood has tried to work its way into that world, with films like Percy Jackson and the Olympians and the remake of Clash of the Titans, but found limited success. Unfortunately, Immortals continues the trend by being a film with a great deal of promise, but which is severely lacking in dramatic content. The film is directed by Tarsem Singh, and stars Henry Cavill as Theseus, a simple mortal man who is chosen by Zeus (Luke Evans), the king of the Gods, to put an end to the reign of Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a ruthless tyrant who is searching for the mythical Epirus Bow, a weapon of such enormous power that it has the capability to release the Titans – vicious warriors who were enslaved by the Gods centuries ago – and with which he intends to wage war on the Gods themselves. The film, which also stars Stephen Dorff, Frieda Pinto and John Hurt, looks fantastic, as is always the case with Tarsem’s films, but suffers from terrible pacing, especially in the film’s first half, confusing interchangeable characters which make empathy difficult, and a curious lack of connection with the audience, which left me unexpectedly uninvolved and – at times – rather bored. Style over substance, it seems. Read more…

THE RUM DIARY – Christopher Young

November 2, 2011 2 comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Rum Diary doesn’t quite know what kind of film it wants to be. On the one hand it’s another wry look at life through the alcohol-soaked and frequently hilarious lens of the late Gonzo author Hunter S. Thompson, on whose novel this film is based, and on whom the lead character Paul Kemp is clearly modeled. On the other hand, it’s a comparatively serious examination of the American suppression of native culture of Puerto Rico in the 1950s, specifically the way in which rich industrialists manipulate the system and steal from the local landowners in order to line their pockets. Then again, it’s a romance, in which the Kemp character falls in lust with the beautiful young wife of a shady entrepreneur. But, most of all, it’s a love letter to Puerto Rico itself – the unspoiled beaches, the sunny climes, the generous people, and the seemingly unlimited supply of alcohol that keep the wheels of the island greased. Read more…