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Very pale sequel
Sometimes Claude Lelouch makes good films or masterpieces, sometimes not at all.
This sequel of "Un homme et une femme" is useless. It's not a bad movie in itself, because it's well acted, well made and very refined -high quality is a trademark in Lelouch movies. That's why I give 4 stars out of 10...
But it's a useless project. Was it necessary to go back to the story and spoil the original picture? The 1966 film is very simple -it's a masterpiece because of that. There are only Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimée, the chemistry is incredible. The film is really poetic, we don't want to know how their love story goes on.
In the 1986 sequel we find them 20 years later -Lelouch tells us what they have become and how they meet again. There are other characters and facts which intersect with them.
As I said not a really bad movie, but it doesn't stand comparison at all with the original. It would have been better not to produce it.
La vie, l'amour, la mort (1969)
A harrowing document
Claude Lelouch is best known for sentimental movies. Not all are masterpieces, but many are really brilliant -with an excellent camera work (made by Lelouch himself) and long scenes in which facial expressions and movements of the actors replace dialogs, in order to let us imagine their feelings.
This film, made after "Un homme et une femme" (Lelouch's cinematic breakthrough in 1966) and "Vivre pour vivre" (1967) is completely different from the previous two and from the following ones as well. Here the French director quits the sentimental themes for telling a very dramatic story, about a married man who kills three prostitutes and is sentenced to death.
The film is a strong condemnation of death penalty in France -in 1968, when the movie was made, capital punishment was still valid there, it was abolished many years later.
The film shares the same opinion with the US movie "Dead Man Walking" by Tim Robbins (1995): death penalty is useless, no matter which mistake the condemned man has done.
Lelouch films with a lot realism, as if it was a documentary. The story is told in a quite crude way -all the prison scenes are also shot in black and white, whereas the antecedents are in colour.
Death penalty is shown here as a barbarian ritual, a ceremony of the absurd.
I think it still remains a very courageous movie.
Johnny Stecchino (1991)
Oh Santa Cleopatra... funny!
"Johnny Stecchino" (1991) is one of the funniest Benigni movies. Here the actor plays a double role.
A naive and unaware school bus driver, who looks like a Mafioso, is invited to Sicily for a holiday. The plan is exploiting the physical likeness of the two for killing him, so the Mafioso could take advantage of the others believing him dead...
The movie is a slapstick comedy, with a succession of misunderstandings and comical situations. The unaware man never understands he's dealing with Mafia, and reaches to put the organization through a crisis as well! The feature is a refined satire, the film is not vulgar at all. Roberto Benigni is so funny... His presence, the expressions of the face and of the eyes make him a new Charlie Chaplin.
I suggest to see that movie in the original language version -possibly with subtitles for who doesn't understand Italian. With the original voices the film is definitely funnier.
Bande à part (1964)
A great Godard movie
"Bande à part" is one of the main movies of "Novelle Vague", the French cinematic movement between the end of the Fifties and the Sixties.
This films belongs to the best Jean-Luc Godard period, when his movies still had a strong story and were not politicized yet.
Arthur, Franz and Oldile form a band different from the other ones... The title means that, because these people don't follow the stereotype of the gangster -actually they're ordinary people who decide to commit a theft.
The film is very improvisational and made almost like a documentary; Godard doesn't follow some technical cinematic rules like (for example) clean editing, elegant shots, and frames without too much light reflections or contrasts. It's a small film made by a small crew, in real locations.
The sound is also very "dirt": the movie is not dubbed and it's difficult to understand dialogs -although I speak French fluently, I had to watch the film on DVD with the help of subtitles!
"Bande à part" mixes many genres. We have a voice off which accompanies us during the tale; the action is shown in a way similar to the documentary, as I said. At a certain moment the story becomes very tragic, but everything finishes with a happy ending, like a Hollywood movie! All the elements are overthrown.
Many Godard intuitions were used later by different directors like Lars Von Trier and Quentin Tarantino. For us it's interesting, because we see that many things we thought as new were made already 40 years ago.
The Jacket (2005)
A veteran from Gulf War I is wrongfully charged with murder. He's sent to a mental hospital, where he's treated with electrical shock therapy.
He can foresee his future. He falls in love with a girl, whose mother has been killed -the veteran is accused of being her killer, but he's innocent!
He can also travel along his past -and modify a series of things, not only to prove his innocence, but to prevent the crime he's charged with as well!
I summarized the story and tried to simplify it as much as I could, but I assure that it's much more complicated. One hour after having seen the film at the movie theater, I couldn't remember the scenes and the plot any more.
A uselessly obscure film, bad made; that's another product of paranormal (and paranoiac) thriller genre. Awful.
The Interpreter (2005)
Not a bad Pollack effort, with strong actors
Unfortunately Sydney Pollack movies become more and more rare -because the director is more involved in producing films for others and in acting.
"The Interpreter" is not a bad film at all. I say this because the film is not fantastic -some points are not very credible. 30 years after the thriller masterpiece "The three days of the Condor", Pollack tells a story about a UN interpreter (Nicole Kidman) who intercepts a secret conversation about a future killing -apparently there's a plan to kill the president of the African state she's citizen of. A federal detective (Sean Penn), who's been widowed for some weeks, is given the task to investigate and to protect her.
The two actors are really great, and the film works without being boring. It's also interesting the fact that this is the first feature ever to be shot in the United Nations Headquarters -Hitchcock didn't get the permission to do that for "North by Northwest".
To me a well-known liberal director like Sydney Pollack could have been more biting with this film. The terrorist threat of our days is a hardly hinted theme, first.
Is it also credible the scene in which Kidman holds her African president as a hostage? As today there are millions of security rules and guards everywhere (especially during top political meetings), I don't think a UN employee could take easily a very protected man hostage. Policemen and secret agents look for potential assassins inside and outside the UN headquarter in New York, while Kidman is in a room of the same building alone with her prisoner...!
I also think that the personal drama of Sean Penn's character has no connection with the story. Is he kind to her only because he's widowed?
An above-average film, but I expected more from Pollack.
The third Bond flick is the greatest -it also keeps for me the first place in the TOP three Bond movies with Connery, afterward come "Thunderball" and "You only live twice".
"Goldfinger" is between the more realistic Bond thrillers and the more gadgeted era of 007 (the Aston Martin is actually the first gadget of cinematic Bond).
Sean Connery's character is lighter, wittier and glamorous than before -he'll keep the same magical chemistry in "Thunderball", a year later. Here he fights against Auric Golfinger (Gert Froebe), a megalomaniac who wants to robber... Fort Knox! Bond girls are among the best in the series. Honor Blackman -star of the TV series "The Avengers" before Diana Rigg (later another Bond girl!)- is lesbian pilot Pussy Galore. Bond makes her change her mind about sexual taste...
Shirley Eaton is the girl painted of gold -one of the most famous images of movie history.
"Goldfinger" is the blueprint of all the Bond adventures, for the first time we have all the ingredients which form the classic Bond icon (tuxedo, irony, women, sexual but extremely refined innuendos, gadgets, special effects, huge sets).
In the following years these elements will be present as well, but from "Thunderball" on gadgets, stunts and action take a bigger place in the plot, whereas in "Goldfinger" acting and comedy are more important than the rest.
The jewel of Bond series and one of the British TOP movies of all time.
Il bisbetico domato (1980)
Pretty Celentano movie
"Il bisbetico domato" ("The taming of the Scoundrel") contains in the title a reference to Shakespeare's work "The taming of the shrew"... That's all, because the film has no other connection with the English author.
A rich farmer is well known for being very unkind. He's misanthropic, misogynous and cantankerous. Until he meets by chance a gorgeous girl...
The movie is a typical tailored story for Adriano Celentano, one of the biggest Italian music stars -he's hugely popular in German speaking countries and in the Eastern Europe as well. "Il bisbetico domato" is not a musical, and it is directed by the couple Castellano & Pipolo (authors of many Celentano flicks). It stars beautiful diva Ornella Muti.
The film is fine and funny, although not a cinematic monument. It's just a pretty film, with humor and without big inventions. Certainly we laugh, but above all we watch it because of the main actors -the couple works very well. At the time of its release the picture was, as usual, a smash hit in Italy.
I think you can really appreciate these movies, first, if you're a Celentano fan. I also think you should see them in the Italian version only -because the singer/showman has a peculiar voice and a way of telling the lines you'd completely miss with the translation.
Le fantôme de la liberté (1974)
Two years after "The discreet charm of the Bourgeoisie", Luis Buñuel comes back with another surrealistic gem. "Le fantôme de la liberté" (1974) is his penultimate work, also this one is written with screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière.
In the movie there's not a really precise story -it's a collection of surrealistic sketches with many characters... But Buñuel approaches again the typical themes of his filmography -a criticism about bourgeoisie, moral beliefs, social conventions, police...
It's difficult to describe a movie like this one, in which the visual element is very strong. Many scenes and metaphorical situations speak alone -the image is as important as the dialogs, maybe more. This is frequent in Buñuel movies, above all in the last 10 years of his cinematic career -from "Belle de jour" on.
For the visual aspect this legendary Spanish director reminds us of another Spanish surrealist master -painter Salvador Dalì. Actually they were good friends and did together "Un chien andalu"...
Licence to Kill (1989)
A tuxedoed Rambo but not Bond at all
I think "License to kill" is the weakest entry in the series. The first problem is Timothy Dalton. Although he's a good actor, he's definitely not 007. No charisma, no humor. He's too serious, romantic and too sadist. In a certain way he could match the literary Ian Fleming, but he lacks the essential qualities of the cinematic Bond -a witty, cynical, sophisticated super-spy with women and gadgets.
The film itself is NOT a Bond movie. Look at the plot: Bond seeks revenge for a friend of him and the wife, assassinated by drug trafficker Sanchez. British Secret Service doesn't allow him to do that and Bond licence to kill is revoked. Our agent decides to go on all the same...
Usually 007 never works alone: he makes love and kills for the Union Jack only!?! That's what it makes the character funny! With "Licence to kill" 007 makers put an episode from a legendary franchise at the same action level of an ordinary Hollywood picture. The film is also too violent for being a Bond flick.
It's ridiculous seeing Bond searching for revenge and death on his own. Here Bond is a tuxedoed Rambo, but not the myth we knew in all the previous films.
The producers (the Broccolis) made a big mistake with this film, which flopped at the box office (it didn't really flop, but it was the lowest money-grossing film of the 007 franchise). Luckily.