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MMeldola's reviews view profile

Caution: Weak Screenplay Ahead...  
on March 26, 2005 - 11:20 AM PST
  of Code 46 (2003)
1 out of 4 members found this review helpful

Code 46 is not actually a 90 minute commercial of the future, but as I watched, I kept wondering, why do I feel like I am watching a commercial? Are they selling a ticket to the future?

Code 46 has one interesting idea; future biotechnicians develop a virus that increases empathy to the point where the person "exposed" to the virus can read someone's mind. But one idea does not make an intelligent science fiction film. Admittedly, Code 46 is neither a star wars epic, nor a green-skinned alien visitation movie, nor an invasion of earth snatchers flic. Yet it is not, by default, a "thinking (wo)man's" science fiction. The plot, like the soundtrack, is flat.

Tim Robbins and the rest of the cast are up to the challenge of a dynamic script. The cinematographers are top shelf. Perhaps in Code 47 or 48, they might be lucky enough to have a screenplay derived from a true author. To drop some names, how about Lem, Aldiss or Ballard.

This film reaps a bundle.  
on February 21, 2005 - 9:11 PM PST
  of La Commare Secca (Criterion Collection) (1962)
4 out of 5 members found this review helpful

La Commare Secca is indeed grim. Yet, if you shy away from this downbeat tale, you will be missing a fascinating film. The prostitutes of Italy suffer greatly (see also Nights of Cabiria); the "grim reaper" visits a whore working in a park. The film's power comes not so much from the tragedy, but from the pathetic suspects. The interrogation of the suspects reveals a spectrum of human weaknesses.

The surprise of the film is the apprehension of the perpetrator. Even in the fabric of petty relationships that the police uncover, a single man, whose motivations are not entirely clear, chooses to do the "right thing"...this turning point is exhilarating.
When gangsters had class...  
on February 17, 2005 - 11:55 AM PST
  of Touchez Pas au Grisbi (Criterion Collection) (1954)
6 out of 6 members found this review helpful

Touchez pas au Grisbi is not a heist picture. The film is more a character study than a caper; Gabin, Moreau, and Ventura are in a cast of well developed characters. Jean Gabin plays the "seen it all, done it all" gangster to a tee. He does not really have one last heist planned. In fact, he is ready to kick back and enjoy his last score. In his chain of "thieves", a weak link spoils his plans. Gabin's character acts honorably at a high cost.

Touchez Pas au Grisbi is on a par with the great gangster cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville. Both directors were great craftsmen. While it is true that the French gangster movie could evoke nostalgia for the subtleties and style of an era
that seems unreal today, don't let that stop you from seeing this wonderfully entertaining film. The nightclub scenes are a kick and the climax is a white- knuckler. Lastly, the subtitles are very legible, which is not always the case.

Excellent animation for the preadolescent group  
on February 16, 2005 - 10:22 AM PST
  of Blue Remains (2000)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

Blue Remains will be very entertaining to the less critical audience. The computer animation is very rich and inventive with fabulous colors and 3D motion. The underwater vehicles alone are worth checking out. The story is not demanding; the synopsis above is all you need to know. The characters are charming enough for preadolescents. Adults may find the plot and characters shallower than the ocean depths where most of the action occurs; my rating would sink to 5 for an adult audience. This one is mostly for the kids and they will love the drama of bringing earth back to life even if the DNA references are incomprehensible to them. While this film is not on the same plane as Miyazaki's classics, I believe this movie is well worth your time, particularly if you like anime and comic books!

This little soldier is a classic.  
on February 7, 2005 - 1:18 PM PST
  of Le Petit Soldat (1960)
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful

I would argue that Le Petit Soldat IS one of Godard's best films. The screenplay is not as didactic in this movie as later Godard films tended to be. Further, the structure is not as jazzy as "New Wave" enthusiasts might expect. Rather, Le Petit Soldat's strengths lie in the plot's examination of character in the hellish context of a "dirty war". Godard distances the viewer from feeling too compassionate for the characters; their motivations seem murky. The film dramatizes the end of innocence for the French in the same way that the news coverage of the Vietnem War pulled the wool away from our eyes in the US.

If I'm wrong and this is not one of Jean-Luc Godard's best, even an average Godard is better than almost any new release!
Every dog has it's day, but...  
on February 6, 2005 - 9:50 PM PST
  of Sympathy for the Underdog (1971)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

Sympathy for the Underdog is unquestionably a triumph of style. One could argue that Fukasaku and Suzuki have production values that rival Kubrick. Unlike Suzuki, Fukasaku does not push the envelope of the genre. This film is not compelling. You do have some interesting tangents in the plot. When the gangsters of old seem lost in the new way of doing things, they flee to an "old fashioned" turf, namely Okinawa, where the American military enter the turf wars. Aside from the unusual backdrop of Okinawa, the plot of the outdated gangster(s) plods along to a predictable climax. I would not recommend this film unless you are an avid fan of the Japanese B movie gangster film. If you need your eyes popped with gun battle and blood, you will get your fix; I have sympathy for you. Others should check out Fukasaku's Virus, which is a pretty good science fiction film. Good science fiction films are as rare as honest politicians.

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