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johnnyclock's reviews view profile

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A tour de force  
on August 24, 2007 - 1:47 AM PDT
  of Orpheus in the Underworld (1997)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

The music may not be high opera (in fact the form is Opéra-Comique, or opéra-bouffe), but the humour is marvelous, the staging is magnificent and hilarious by turns, in this upbeat, modern (although 150 years 'old') send-up interpretation of the Orpheus myth and legend, which manages to parody and satirize all domains of power (governments). As relevant today in its biting wit as it was when it premiered in 1858. The physical comedy is refreshing and excellently done; and these people sing as well! The over-all choreography of all the many things happening on stage is intricate but never confusing, always amusing. Really this is a tour de force. A slight acquaintance with the Orpheus myth and the Olympian Pantheon is probably required, but can be picked up in 30 minutes with Edith Hamilton (Google her).
Poitier rises above silly script  
on July 11, 2007 - 9:47 PM PDT
  of The Wilby Conspiracy (1975)

Sidney Poitier is a terrific actor who is the only one who manages to rise above a foolish story combined with an often inane script. Michael Caine is unable to be convincing in a poorly conceived role. I could not tell if the story were meant to be taken seriously -- as should have been hoped (this is more than a decade before the fall of the apartheid South African government) --, or as a comedy (when it was no time for joking).
Take Note  
on July 10, 2007 - 6:20 PM PDT
  of The Green Mile (Disc 1 of 2) (1999)
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful

I think you should know that the film is on TWO disks, this one and the so-called "bonus" disk. There is a little bonus material on this first disk and a lot on the second, but the film itself is spread out over the two disks (first two hours on disk one, last hour on disk two).
Pictorials not very good, but everything else bravo  
on February 5, 2007 - 10:03 PM PST
  of Rigoletto (1987)

The visual part of this production is not captured well on the DVD -- it often lacks the lighting to show what is happening; but there is no doubt that the singing is marvelous, expressive; the acting is very good, the roles play well with each other, which can be lacking in opera at times. And, perhaps, what supports and drives the cast is a very appreciative audience. All in all, well worth a listen.
Oddly, I could not find this particular production listed on imdb -- which had twenty or so other productions listed -- so I only know what it says on this page at the top, about the production, that is.
Not for the squeamish  
on July 4, 2006 - 2:46 AM PDT
  of Seven (1995)

In fact, not even for the not-squeamish. This is a well-done but disturbing movie, and not just graphically. If you liked Silence of the Lambs then you may like this.
Terrific acting  
on June 27, 2006 - 2:30 PM PDT
  of Anatomy of a Murder (Criterion) (1959)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

This is terrific acting by the principals: Stewart, Remick, Gazzara in an early role, Eve Arden playing her usual worldly-wise sidekick, several others. And the dramatic tension leaves nothing to be desired. The score is wonderful music done by Duke Ellington (who also appears as the piano man in a club scene). And an interesting tidbit: the man who plays the trial judge is not an actor by trade. He was a lawyer who stood up to Joe McCarthy during the infamous McCarthy hearings several years before the making of this film.
That said, I found some difficulties in the continuity: plot ideas that seemed to be raised and then left behind. Also, the general tenure has become -- at the moment at least -- out-of-date. I was disturbed by what the director seemed to be saying about his characters. Which is why I only gave it a 7. All in all, though, still worth watching.
Interesting information, not so interesting cinema  
on June 26, 2006 - 10:14 PM PDT
  of The Odessa File (1974)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

I think what this film has to say is important. Unfortunately it didn't find a very cinematic way of saying it. A lot of the shots -- especially in the first half -- are not well chosen. The acting is unexceptional throughout. Even Maximilian Schell, who can be brilliant [see my review of Man in the Glass Booth] is rather pedestrian here in his very short (less than 10 minutes) time on screen. There is some suspense, finally, in the second half, and one twist for which, however, I do not think we are adequately prepared: probably because all the characters are pretty wooden, so we don't really 'get' their viewpoints; and thus the denouements fall flat.
Greek Tragedy  
on May 17, 2006 - 1:41 PM PDT
  of The Deer Hunter (1978)
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This is a pitiful tale. It is a tale that marches forward with the inevitability and the ominous pace of Greek tragedy. And as in Greek tragedy, the audience knows from the start where we're headed. When this film was made in 1978, we already knew what had happened in Vietnam, and its result, and about the ignoble and ignominious withdrawal in confusion and haste at the end. So when the 'deer hunter' and his friends who are going to 'Nam with him are all gung ho and excited about getting into the 'war,' we can't help hearing the tolling of a fate that will prove larger than the lives of these individual men, no matter how heroic, how American, or how good-willed they may be.
This is a film that gets under the skin; it is a film that torments you long after the viewing; and its impression only grows in you as time passes. I have my little gripes about editing or continuity that I thought could have been clearer, but in a force this monumental these amount to no more than petty grievances, and I have set them aside.
The acting is without exception excellent; and Christopher Walken's character (for which he received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor) will continue to haunt you for as long as you will remember this film.
Just to set the record straight  
on April 4, 2006 - 1:00 PM PDT
  of Three ... Extremes (Disc 1 of 2) (2004)
4 out of 6 members found this review helpful

I don't know what is on Disc 2; I imagine it is the background stuff to each of the three short tales. But the blurb at the top of this page is incorrect: all three of the short films are on Disc 1.
A Primer of the American Justice system at its best  
on December 24, 2005 - 1:09 AM PST
  of 12 Angry Men (Criterion) (1957)
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful

This is a marvelous script with some of the finest character actors in the business. It is amazing how gripping a film can be with such an uncinematic premise: twelve men sitting in a very plain room; a jury room. I would like to believe that Americans are as civic minded today as, in their different ways, most of these twelve prove to be. This is a primer course for the best that ever existed in the American justice system; the outcome of centuries of incremental rethinkings and gains in justice, democracy, responsible citizenship. Whether it still exists today, I do not know.
Nothing much changes, really, in 50 years  
on December 20, 2005 - 6:42 PM PST
  of Wife For A Night (1952)
0 out of 1 members found this review helpful

Not eighteenth century, but around 1880. It is about an aspiring composer who wants a chance to have his Opera heard at Parma. A classic comedy of mistaken identities as two women alternately impersonate each other to two men, one who knows who each really is, and the other man who believes that each is the other. With, of course amusing results. An original score rounds out a script that is fine for this sort of romp.
Excellent comic drama  
on December 17, 2005 - 4:59 PM PST
  of Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
2 out of 3 members found this review helpful

It was Mickey Rooney, actually, in the review below; and whatever be the value of his performance, there is no doubt that the role as filmed is a racist stereotype of a Japanese American.
Despite that, I enjoyed the film. Audrey Hepburn is a swell actress who carries the film; there is strong support from the rest of the cast, but it is really she who shines. The book is by Truman Capote; and the topper is the terrific and haunting 'Moon River' theme song that has since become a classic of its own.
This was a man  
on November 11, 2005 - 9:56 PM PST
  of A Huey P. Newton Story (2001)
2 out of 4 members found this review helpful

Forget about the commercial for the film company at the beginning. This is one hell of a performance! Heart-rending. I knew a little about Huey P. Newton before I saw this, but only a little. I know a little more now and my time was not ill-spent finding out. I am reminded of the words said over Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "His life was gentle, and the elements/ So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up/ And say to all the world 'This was a man!'"
I don't know how people were able to read the subtitles  
on August 17, 2005 - 10:44 PM PDT
  of Hidden Half (2001)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

which were white on white much of the time. Why people cannot use either black-bordered white or white bordered black for subtitles (so that they would almost always be viewable) I do not know. In this instance, entire conversations went by without my catching a single word. I soon gave up. Not for non-native speakers of the language it is made in.
Marvelous music  
on June 5, 2005 - 2:58 AM PDT
  of Farinelli (1994)
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful

Great pains were taken to produce the 'voice' that you hear in this film. See an explanation at
In some ways this reminded me of Farewell My Concubine. The costumes and settings are lush and, I hear, accurate for the time protrayed -- the eighteenth century. The story itself, all based on real characters, is fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to this.
The book was terrific  
on March 30, 2005 - 10:39 AM PST
  of The Andromeda Strain (Special Edition) (1971)
1 out of 6 members found this review helpful

I read the book many years ago -- it was a fast-paced, scientific and intellectual thriller -- I couldn't put it down.

How was it possible to turn such a good read into such a boring film?!
The acting is unconvincing, the plot devices are petty, and the ending in inconclusive.
Brilliant acting, mostly brilliant script  
on March 28, 2005 - 9:36 PM PST
  of The American Film Theatre: The Man in the Glass Booth (1975)
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful

I will be largely abstract to avoid spoilers. Rest assured, then, there are none herein:

The first 69 minutes of this 115-minute script are strong and brilliant. M. Schell's performance is brilliant throughout. But the script, in my opinion, loses its brilliance and focus in the last 46 minutes. At first the script is witty, incisive, relevant, ironic, demanding, shocking and comic at the same time. But in the latter part of the movie, the script becomes pedagogic to its own detriment. It is clear what the author wants to say, but he says it better dramatically -- which is the first part -- and in the second part he says it more directly and didactically, but it becomes less and less good theatre. The scenes in the last 46 minutes are simply not convincing. There are still brilliant speeches by the main character, played by M. Schell, and strong acting, but, for me, a lot of the procedural events in this last section seemed contrived and unrealistic. Had the movie maintained the level of the first 69 minutes I would have unhesitatingly given it a 9. As it is, I must still give it an 8.
I was bored  
on March 15, 2005 - 8:42 PM PST
  of The Parallax View (1974)
0 out of 4 members found this review helpful

I found this to be too slow, too implausible in its details, too vague in its thrust. It is a very dark film, though that is probably a plus, not a minus. Hume Cronyn is good in a small part. There is one clever scene on an airplane (honestly, I found most of the scenes boring or irrelevant). There is, perhaps, an interesting twist at the end.
In the Realm of the Senses Revisited  
on February 14, 2005 - 11:57 PM PST
  of Sada (1998)
1 out of 3 members found this review helpful

This is another telling of the incident that also served as the basis for the 1976 film, "In the Realm of the Senses." Here, the treatment is more stylized, formal. Color and black and white follow each other emphasizing emotions in the story. Also more comic than its predeccesor. Very slow, at first, but I was finally won over by the sweetness of the character and her story. Move moving in the long run than the earlier film. It is staged in a way that is often like a play, with lighting changes and sets that often look like sets rather than like anything more substantial (or is that just the way things looked in Japan in the 1930s -- I don't know). All in all, slow, but worth it.
I have to take exception with the All Movie Guide (above)  
on February 10, 2005 - 7:38 PM PST
  of Quitting (2001)
3 out of 4 members found this review helpful

There is no abuse of patients in the portrayal of a Chinese mental hospital in this film. Whether that is an accurate representation of mental asylum life in China, I have no way of knowing. But there is no comparison with the terrible abuse that goes on in the Massachusetts hospital that the documentary Titicut Follies chronicles. In fact, I kept thinking that for a mental hospital, the one portrayed in Quitting was too good to be true.

That having been said, the film seems a realistic portrayal of the life of this young man and his family. It was interesting to me to see scenes that are in no fundamental respect different from scenes I have seen in American life when that life has run into the same kinds of situations: drug addiction, mental illness, and so forth.

It's a personal drama, a family drama.

Looking for action or suspense? Look elsewhere
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