I watched the highly acclaimed George Clooney political movie 'The Ides of March' a few weeks ago and I was certainly left short-changed. Good production values and performances but the story is so predictable and wafer thin. There are no twists and when the film begins to gather some momentum it ends abruptly - for no reason! No ending - not even an open ending! The film becomes completely pointless. A thoughtful twist at the end would have made such a difference! Failure snatched from the claws of victory indeed! A weak episode of 'Dallas' (with the last ten minutes wiped off) is better than this! What a disappointment!
Sunday, 27 November 2011
I watched the 1983 version of 'Scarface' at the cinema when it was released. I remember everybody talking about the theatrical poster back then but showing little concern for the film itself. I hate film reputations created by other criteria rather than the film itself. 'Scarface' is a dreadfully directed picture (Brian De Palma was the weak link in the Hollywood movie brats from the 70s) with banal dialogue (from Oliver Stone)and hammy acting (yes, even from the usually remarkable Al Pacino). I think that the poster is wonderful and I think that it is that which has produced the cult status of the remake because the film itself is quite boring. Buy the poster by all means but avoid this tedious remake! Watch the 1932 version if you want to be entertained.
Saturday, 26 November 2011
'All That Money Can Buy' (aka 'The Devil and Daniel Webster') was released by RKO Pictures in 1941 and I have just managed to watch it on DVD for the first time this evening. It is based on the short story by Stephen Vincent Benét about the New Hampshire farmer in the 1840s who sells his soul to the Devil. This classic film is a fine example of cinematic sophistication courtesy of a remarkable screenplay (Dan Totheroh and Stephen Vincent Benét), astounding photography (Joseph H August), classy direction (William Dieterle), superb music (Bernard Herrmann) and a stellar cast especially Walter Huston as Mr Scratch. This film is still revered by film historians around the world and is easily in the same class as 'Citizen Kane'. Sheer cinematic genius!
I had the pleasure to watch 'Lost Horizon' on DVD last night for the first time since I don’t know when. It is a splendid fantasy film made by Columbia Pictures in 1937, starring Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt and HB Warner. Directed by the legendary Frank Capra and written by Robert Riskin from the book of the same name by James Hilton, the movie typifies the high standard of film making that Hollywood could produce back in the golden age of cinema. The story tells what happens to a group of people whose plane crashes in the Himalaya and finds a hidden place where there the people live in peace and complete happiness, living very long lives. This place is a contrast to the war stricken world they have left. Although the film had been re-cut on various occasions, almost the whole film has been restored to its full length except for six minutes for which stills had to be used for the lost sequences. Frank S. Nugent from 'The New York Times' wrote that 'Lost Horizon' is "a grand adventure film, magnificently staged, beautifully photographed, and capitally played”. It is most certainly brilliant and more enjoyable to watch than anything you can possibly see at the cinema today. RATING *****
Monday, 21 November 2011
The horror film masterpiece 'Frankenstein' was released by Universal Pictures in the United States 80 years ago today. The film starred Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff (who gave quite a memorable performance as the monster). The film has so much to admire including the screenplay (Francis Edward, Garret Fort), the flawless direction (James Whale) and German Expressionist photography (Arthur Edison), not forgetting the iconic make up by the legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce. It is a film that deserves its accolades and is noted to be one of the few films made with an even more impressive sequel: 'Bride of Frankenstein' (1935).
How well will 'The Wolf of Wall Street' do at this weekend at the Oscars? Brilliantly written by Terence Winter ("The Sopranos&...
Watched '12 Years a Slave'. Any film that deals openly with the horrors of the US slave trade has to be important but sadly this is ...
William Goldman's first screenplay is an adaptation of Ross McDonald's novel 'The Moving Target' called Harper . Released ...
Leslie Halliwell Leslie Halliwell (1929 – 1989) was a British film critic and historian. In 1965 Halliwell’s The Filmgoer's Comp...