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All reviews - Movies (53)

Network (1976) review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:48 (A review of Network (1976))

Two decades later, this iconic American New Wave renegade text is even more startling than it once was-was Hollywood ever this cerebral, this caustic, this ethically apocalyptic? That 90 percent of Network's satire has become fulfilled prophecy by now doesn't take the shine off of its broadsword. Reality-show whoredom, death TV, New Globalistic anti-humanism, audience as robotic consumer-it's all here and all still hamburger in the teeth of this movie, written with hissing rage and in huge, thoughtful paragraphs by Paddy Chayefsky and directed with a vivid sense of '70s genuineness by Sidney Lumet.

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:48 (A review of The Shawshank Redemption (1994))

Darabont's adaptation of a Stephen King novella is a throwback to the kind of serious, literate drama Hollywood used to make... Against this weighs the pleasure of discovering a first-time director with evident respect for the intelligence of his audience, brave enough to let character details accumulate without recourse to the fast-forward button. Darabont plays the long game and wins: this is an engrossing, superbly acted yarn, while the Shawshank itself is a truly formidable mausoleum.

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:47 (A review of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975))

A rare screen adaptation of a beloved novel that maintains the emotional and dramatic power of the original while establishing its own distinctive approach to the story, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an underdog masterpiece. "It was a classic story: the story of an individual fighting the system," is how producer Michael Douglas explained his attraction to Ken Kesey's novel about a strong-willed rebel fighting a domineering head nurse in a mental hospital... One of the great stories of defiance in the face of unchecked power, and one of the most powerful character dramas of its time.

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The Godfather: Part II (1974) review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:47 (A review of The Godfather: Part II (1974))

If The Godfather served as a haunting eulogy for the American nuclear family, its sequel charted the death of the American Dream, ironically through those who unquestionably achieved it. Irony and cynicism pervades its narrative and its aesthetic, the golden hues of its tinting a comment not only on our sepia-toned nostalgia but America and its amber waves of grain. The Godfather Part II is a portrait of a tragic hero who is neither tragic (in that he is not deserving of a sliver of pity) nor heroic; though the film bifurcates and splits focus with another character from another time period, it is ultimately about the fall of Michael Corleone.

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Chinatown (1974) review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:46 (A review of Chinatown (1974))

...At the start of this I called Chinatown "the best of the neo-noirs," but I have a hard time thinking of it as such. Neo-noir generally works as a broad homage to classic noir; the best certainly work as their own films, but consider Sin City, Blade Runner and the entire filmography of the Coen brothers. All of them draw clear influences--and most downright reference, movies like The Third Man and Double Indemnity. Chinatown, however, works completely as its own film, and I believe it belongs on the list of the classics.

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The Apartment review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:45 (A review of The Apartment)

The Apartment, is one of Billy Wilder's funniest, most uncompromisingly bleak comedies, his second collaboration with Jack Lemmon, who plays a variation on that recurrent Wilder character, the weak guy who becomes a pimp or a gigolo to advance his career... Alexander Trauner's sets are unforgettable and Shirley MacLaine is deeply moving as the exploited lift attendant Lemmon comes to care for. She has a great final line, nearly as good as the unforgettable payoff in the preceding Wilder movie, Some Like it Hot.

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No Country for Old Men review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:44 (A review of No Country for Old Men)

The bleak and unforgiving borderlands of Texas by the Rio Grande are the setting for this triumphant new movie by Joel and Ethan Coen... The Coens are back with a vengeance, showing their various imitators and detractors what great American film-making looks like, and they have supplied a corrective adjustment to the excesses of goofy-quirky comedy that damaged their recent work. The result is a dark, violent and deeply disquieting drama, leavened with brilliant noirish wisecracks, and boasting three leading male performances with all the spectacular virility of Texan steers. And all of it hard and sharp as a diamond.

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The Rules of the Game review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:44 (A review of The Rules of the Game)

This film's about being someone who experiences life with great passion and sensitivity, with wonderful and horrible insight into others, and therefore both a deeper love and a deeper hurt, a sensitivity which will always necessarily leave you on the outside. Renoir knew more about what it took to truly love others than any other film maker, but at the end even Octave has to walk away from the dense macabre of the manor house. Not sure if I am willing to do the same, but this film captures the passionate reasons why I sometimes want to just run away and become a hermit-while also really not wanting to- more fully than any other work of art.

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There Will Be Blood (2007) review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:43 (A review of There Will Be Blood (2007))

Anderson's epic, no less than his career, is both fearfully grandiose and wonderfully eccentric. A strange and enthralling evocation of frontier capitalism and manifest destiny set at the dawn of the 20th century, There Will Be Blood recounts the tale of a ferociously successful wildcat oil driller with the allegorical handle Daniel Plainview (Day-Lewis). The telling is leisurely and full of process: From the deliberately dark and fragmented prologue to the wildly excessive denouement, this movie continually defamiliarizes what might sound like a Giant-style potboiler... This is truly a work of symphonic aspirations and masterful execution.
Daniel Plainview is surely one of the most magnetic characters in any recent story. The film mirrors him, building up his hatred piece by piece. It's fascinating how he constructs a narrative about himself as an oil man and a family man, violently rejecting anything that gets in the way of that image. This surface hides a pathological need for complete control-his true hatred is reserved for those he can't control, or who try to manipulate or control him. Fittingly, in his ultimate act of revenge on Eli, which finally settles a long-standing score between them, he loses control of himself. This scene is set to celebratory music that is transformed into a cruel, delirious irony. It's also interesting that both of the dominant characters-Plainview and Eli-are entirely unlikeable. What primarily sets them apart is, again, that Plainview is magnetic.

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Apocalypse Now review

Posted : 5 years ago on 17 July 2013 04:42 (A review of Apocalypse Now)

Apocalypse Now is more clearly than ever one of the key films of the century. Most films are lucky to contain a single great sequence. Apocalypse Now strings together one after another, with the river journey as the connecting link...Apocalypse Now is more than the greatest Vietnam film ever made, more than the best war film period; it is a document of a part of man that no amount of conditioning and evolution will ever fully eradicate, and it's a beast that can emerge with only a strong push.
In contrast to Coppola's earlier The Godfather Part II and The Conversation, Apocalypse Now isn't a conspicuously ‘smart' film: literary references aside, there are no intellectual pretensions here. Instead, as befits both its tortuous hand-to-mouth genesis and the devastating conflict it reflects, this is a film of pure sensation, dazzling audiences with light and noise, laying bare the stark horror – and unimaginable thrill – of combat. And therein lies the true heart of darkness: if war is hell and heaven intertwined, where does morality fit in? And, in the final apocalyptic analysis, will any of it matter?

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