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Gran Torino (2008)
Eastwood should not be starring in movies at 79 years old
Gran Torino is a terribly overrated film that should not have done so well. You can tell Eastwood longs for his younger years. A 79-yr. old Dirty Harry is not a good idea, no matter how hard you try. Clint plays a bitter old man who hates everybody but his dog and himself. The movie was so intensely dull up until the end. And that ending.... wow clever Eastwood. Why didn't the old man just point the gun at himself and blow his own brains out? That's what the ending amounts to. What a disappointment. I was expecting Dirty Harry or Man with no Name or something other than this. And for a treat... Eastwood sings! Wow! Now I'm happy he died at the end. Maybe we won't have to hear him sing again. But Eastwood will probably wind up coming up with another disappointment to end his a career a third time. (He said he would after Million dollar Baby and this).You know why critics liked this? Eastwood's (supposed) finale. Period. End of story. In general, do not watch this expecting decent performances, entertainment, or even an climax that entertains. For Eastwood, watch "Good,Bad,Ugly" or "Outlaw Josey Wales". Those didn't have endings where Eastwood copped out.
Overall, *1/2 out of **** (and that 1/2 a star because it made me want to watch his early films again)
Mystery Train (1989)
Yet another original and funny Jarmusch offering
This is a quite an original film and interesting too. What is great is the fact that Jarmusch can balance all three stories and make them all work.
Far From Yokohama- A good segment. I thought that the two Asian newcomers were very appealing and interesting to watch. Contains a lot about Japanese culture and beliefs as well. Main fault: It plods suddenly when they get to the hotel.
A Ghost- The weakest. This could have been better. One thing I did not like was the uninteresting woman played by Roberto Benigni's wife. I think that she is unappealing and should not have been cast. I also think that the Elvis ghost thing was silly. A disappointment.
Lost In Space- The best, by far. This is hilarious and well-written. Joe Strummer is great playing a drunk the entire movie. Rick Aviles is also quite amusing as Will Robinson. Buscemi is the best, though, as the man who keeps whining about how he got himself into the situation of this tale. This is basically what makes the movie worth it.
I think that all three of them were decent. Special kudos to Lee and Screaming Jay as the two constantly arguing hotel receptionists. They are the source of what maybe the funniest moment, which is the plum scene. Also good is the short bit of Lee taking the fly swatter and hitting the fake fly. A completely original film about Elvis's spirit in Memphis. This is quintessential Jarmusch.
***1/2 out of ****
Coffee and Cigarettes (2003)
Unusual series of shorts by favorite filmmaker Jarmusch
This a rather unusual series of shorts. I will review every short individually.
Strange to meet you- A rather strange little segment. Wright's "dream faster" monologue is best part.
Twins- Well-done, although Buscemi's fake Southern accent is awful. It will probably be funnier for those who have seen Mystery Train.
Somewhere in California- Great with appealing Waits and Pop.
Those Things'll Kill ya- Funny, but fairly short.
Renee- Terrible. Almost no dialog, and pointless.
No Problem- Pointless, but De Bankole is always good. Note: Only segment with any dialog in a foreign language (French).
Cousins- Great acting from Blanchett, though overrated skit.
Jack Shows Meg his Tesla coil- Bad. Unfunny and unappealing bro-sis combo.
Cousins?- The best. Very funny, with a comment on modern society and its "rules".
Delirium- Quite good. Wonderful combo of Murray and Wu-tang clan.
Champagne- Silly, but good finale to the film.
Overall, *** out of ****
Dead Man (1995)
A great western
This is yet another success from Jim Jarmusch. This film is completely different from most westerns, because it does not have the typical heroic sheriff getting the bad guys plot. This is different. It does not glamorize the Old West, instead portraying it as how it really was. It also contains an All-Star cast, music that, until the last 1/4th of the film, is effective and some great performances. Gary Farmer shines as the Indian Nobody who helps Depp after a double murder. The last shot though is very good and is memorable. This should be seen by Jarmusch fans and those who are sick of mundane, clichéd John Wayne westerns.
**** out of ****
Bronenosets Potemkin (1925)
Eisenstein's most famous
If you enjoy anything by Eisenstein, you should see this. This is a propaganda piece about the uprising and mutiny on the Battleship Potemkin. This film has been highly regarded and beloved by many critics and people overall around he world. IMO, I do not like the obsessiveness over the propaganda, but this film should probably be seen at least once for the fact that it started the "montage" form of editing and for the fact that it influenced many filmmakers all over the world. It is very overdone, but it is very important for its editing and cinematography. Its main asset is the very well-done and edited Odessa Steps scene that is praised by many people all over the world.
**1/2 out of ****
Night on Earth (1991)
I think that this is Jarmusch's best film. It involves people in taxis. It is split into five segments: LA,NYC,Paris,Rome,and Helsinki.
LA: The worst though still decent. It involves a movie agent (Gena Rowlands) and a rude driver played by Winona Ryder.
NYC: The second-best. Funny and memorable. Involves a black New Yorker (Giancarlo Esposito) and an East German refugee and ex-clown (Armin Mueller-Stahl).
Paris: The middle segment. Well-acted and deep. Involves a blind woman (Beatrice Dalle) and an immigrant from Cote d'Ivoire (Isaach De Bankole).
Rome: The second-worst. Benigni is good, but his monologue is not as good as it could've been. Involves Benigni confessing his sins to a priest (Paolo Bonacelli).
Helsinki: The best. Beautiful, touching, and hard-to-forget. One of the best scenes in any Jarmusch film. Involves a depressed driver (Matti Pellonpaa) and three drunk men (Kari Vaananen, Sakari Kuosmanen, Tomi Salmela) while the driver tells the drunks the saddest tale they've ever heard.
**** out of ****
Det sjunde inseglet (1957)
Considered Bergman's best
This was an OK movie, if you ask me, but it is very overrated. I did not think it was as good as everybody says it is. I thought it was technically good, but the message was overdone. If you like Bergman, you will probably think this is his best. If you are not a major fan of his, then you will think it is dull and overdone. I thought the performances were very good, especially Von Sydow as the knight Antonius and Ekerot as Death. This is very symbolic (there is a family of actors where the husband's name is Joseph, the wife's Mary, but the son's name is Michael, which is strange). The cinematography and camera-work are extremely well done, but if you are a Christian, you will not like the overall message it sends.
**1/2 out of ****
Stranger Than Paradise (1984)
Jarmusch's first success
This film was outstanding. It is Jarmusch's second feature and it stars John Lurie, Richard Edson, and Eszter Balint. This has outstandingly beautiful cinematography and some great set pieces. My favorite was the finale. It was very ironic and interesting. The constant blackouts and long takes may annoy some viewers. You should definitely use this for your introduction to Jarmusch. If you have seen other works of his, but have not seen this, see it. It is a masterpiece of film on all accounts and should be seen by everyone who likes Jarmusch and loves indie films. It is a haunting (and very hard to forget) film that is very well written and well acted. I like this film a lot and I hope you do too.
**** out of ****