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mpouk

Marty always has been more comfortable creating moods than following a plot and this, one of his lesser works, is no exception. It captures well the depression period, making the film look far above the typical Roger Corman schlock , nevertheless none of its main characters is particularly compelling (Travis Bickle et al. are yet to come) and, Barbara Hersey's sensuality notwithstanding, the romantic aspects seem at times forced and overall unconvincing.
7 years 5 months ago
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mpouk

The film's simplistic understanding of vigilantism, presented here crudely as a crime reducer, and its absence of psychological dimension make "Dirty Harry" seem like a paragon of complexity. A leftover from the 70s, this hideously made cartoon (cf. its lurid portrayal of the muggers) deserves to be forgotten.
7 years 5 months ago
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mpouk

It is rather painful watching a movie that gradually becomes as ridiculously bad as the situations it purports to satirise. You simply cannot knock off the narcissistic self-importance of TV talk shows with a TV-influenced film-making logic.
7 years 5 months ago
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mpouk

A potentially very interesting and controversial topic is given a cursory treatment replete with mediocre performances, plot contrivances and a by the numbers directions. Very disappointing, it fails both as a techno-thriller and as a study on sexual politics.
8 years 1 month ago
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mpouk

Although overall faithful to the plot of the book, it greatly fails to dramatize its ideas in a cinematic way. Unevenly paced, it verges towards episodic incoherence and ultimately, unlike, Hesse's masterwork fails to engage neither on an emotional nor on an intellectual level. Max von Sydow was certainly a good choice for the main character but most of the supporting actors are shrill and inadequate. A failure.
9 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

One of the zaniest screwball comedies ever made, a perfect example of the subversive genius of Preston Sturges. Sturges ridicules almost all the American small town values of the time in an expertly paced, relentless satire that shoots at the right targets while keeping its emotional core at the right place. The fact that it went past the Motion Picture Production Code is indeed a true miracle!
10 years 6 months ago
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mpouk

Closer in style to smaller scale and more esoteric films in the Coen's canon like "The man who wasn't there", "Barton Fink", and "A serious man", than their more widely received films, it is nevertheless one of their best films in their exceptional 30 year career. Few films have portrayed artistic failure in a way to make it seem inseparable from success and even fewer have had such an unforgiving take on their main character who is consistently arrogant, obnoxious, selfish yet not entirely unsympathetic. The Coen's sardonically demystify the fringe art milieu together with a hellish rendering of an "On the road" inspired journey. Subtle, brilliantly acted and observed, certainly one of the best movies of 2013.
10 years 6 months ago
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mpouk

DePalma offers a synthesis of two of his constant themes, voyeurism and the double, while at the same time weaves in the form of the film the interplay between dream and reality (there is enough basis that the whole story can be construed as a self-empowering dream of the main character in order to overcome his inhibiting claustrophobia). Stylistically it is very accomplished as the silent 20min surveillance sequence shows and the idea of the porno industry mirroring the Hollywood industry is ingenious. Unlike his previous thrillers (Blow Up, Dressed to Kill), the psychology of its characters is rather neglected to foreground its themes and this somehow reduces its resonance. Nevertheless, it may not be top drawer DePalma, but is still one of his most accomplished films and certainly one not for the literal-minded who will find it preposterous.
10 years 6 months ago
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mpouk

In this uncompromising work, Kechiche, having as a starting point a real story, makes a harrowing comment on the degrading impact of showbiz. Venus is promised fame and riches by exhibiting herself and soon she gets trapped in a vicious circle of increasingly degrading acts to please an increasingly spectacle hungry audience. Although the film is set at the beginning of the 19th century, the codes and nature of the show business are quite similar and Kechiche brilliantly resorts to a devastating real story of the past in order to make a pertinent comment about the exploitative forces in the spectacle society of today. First rate film-making.
10 years 6 months ago
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mpouk

Powerful political thriller set in the divided west bank where loyalties, emotional commitments and political activism are entangled. The film skillfully uses the genre tropes in order to narrate its story tensely and forcefully present its point of view on the current Palestinian-Israeli situation. A must see.
10 years 6 months ago
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mpouk

The fact that "Escape Plan" plays more like a b-movie than a mega-budget Hollywood extravaganza is certainly commendable, however the film is hobbled down by a cliched script with several stock characters, predictable situations and increasingly preposterous story turns. Further to the impression that the patchy script was put together by a committee, the director seems uncertain whether he is making a gritty prison drama or a parody of it. At more competent directorial hands it could have been lifted out of mediocrity since both Sly and Arnie are in good form, however Mikael Håfström does simply a hack job and the whole endeavour seems like a wasted opportunity for a revival of the career of its two emblematic leads.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Two stellar performances lift this behind the scenes take on celebrated pianist-entertainer Liberace above the average standard of a Hollywood biopic. Effortlessly put together by workaholic Steven Soderbergh, the film focuses mainly on the relationship of its duo and its inevitable decline. The characterisation is sharp, the vainglorious world that Liberace inhabits is aptly exposed. It needed, however, a critical insight and a more committed view of the world it depicts in order to elevate it to something more memorable than a character study in a glitzy backdrop.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Cormac McCarthy's bleak vision of a dog bites dog world is perfectly captured in the Counsellor, his first original film script. The intractable forces of evil that come to play once a border has been crossed or trespassed are portrayed essentially as the flip side of normality with each main character in the film having to take a stand. Dialogue driven (with brilliantly written repartees) not unlike the best film noirs, memorable characters and performances, tightly structured and abetted by a lean, controlled and efficient direction by Ridley Scott who has arisen from his, years on, directorial slumber in order to serve brilliantly Cormac McCarthy's morality tale.

The relentlessly dark vision of the movie will understandably put most people off since it makes very few concessions to the mainstream sensibilities (identifiable, likeable characters, literal explanations, emotional catharsis), but Cormac McCarthy prose was never suitable for all. This film is destined to become a cult classic with time and one of Ridley Scott's primary accomplishments in his long and patchy career.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

A brilliantly acted social satire, replete with Joseph L. Mankiewicz's wit and elegance. The film depicts a cross section of the society in a small American town focusing on the emotional preoccupations of three wives from different social origins. Mankiewicz develops vivid characters and incisively examines the social mores of the time. He maintains a fine balancy between sympathy and satire, while his facility with witty dialogue keeps all the potential soap opera elements at bay. A delightfully subtle comedy filmed with a tangible grace that is missing from similar offerings nowadays.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Carefully paced and avoiding cheap thrills with some tightly controlled and atmospheric scenes, the movie works both as a mystery thriller and as a horror movie. The twists start appearing halfway and aim to make the viewer reconsider his perspective and attitude towards the preceding events, a narrative strategy that paves the way for the social subtext of the film. Overall, an unabashed intelligent film with a commanding central performance by Jessica Biel that avoids gore filled clichés in order to focus on ethical (or not) choices and dilemmas.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

An interesting character driven crime drama. The two leads are superb in their roles, creating fleshed out characters of conflicting societal roles and family bonds. Director Guillaume Canet has an eye for a character detail and a good sense of location (70's Brooklyn is very convincing). Less successful are some perfunctory secondary characters (the character of Marion Cottillard hardly makes much sense apart from causing the final confrontation), while by halfway the film falls prey to the plot contrivances which pile up heavily during the end.
Overall although the film fails to mix social realism with family melodrama in the way Sidney Lumet's fillms did in the 70s, it remains a solid, excellently acted and intelligent crime drama that should not be ignored.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

The sardonic wit of Preston Sturges is omnipresent in this superb screwball comedy. It vividly recreates a madcap world where sanity is the exception and where the central couple strives to reach a balance by redefining their relationship. Sturges cleverly de-constructs the genre conventions and undermines viewer's expectations, while at the same time creates brilliantly timed sequences like the one at the end where the moving ballad sung by one suitor leads to the unlikely reconciliation.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Basic acting with the exception of Lokki, overloaded plot full of random events, repetitive and misplaced comic relief moments make this seem like a poor relative of other, more distinctive, superhero films.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Technically superb and it captures the atmosphere in outer space but the story is slight and the human interest marginal . At times it seems more like a Discover Channel documentary with superior production values than a feature film, though I must commend some expertly choreographed scenes and the conspicuous absence of the ubiquitous rapid fire editing that plagues modern action movies.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Jean-Pierre Jeunet's first 3D film is as visually inventive as we would expect from him. Jeunet recreates vividly the isolated world of rural Montana and its contrast with the big city. The film bears his characteristic playfulness, more than a handful of quirky characters and some nicely timed comic touches. However, as it is essentially a tale of loss, it fails to resonate emotionally, possibly because the characters are too weird to be dramatically convincing. Consequently the hero's journey lacks dramatic impact as the sense of danger is mostly absent, while the satyric asides towards the child-genius celebrity culture are rather obvious and not really sharp. The film is less than the sum of its parts, yet it is certainly worth seeing especially if you appreciate the visual genius of its director, who gives here one of the best examples of 3D so far.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Progress versus tradition, rugged individualism versus common good, idealism versus pragmatism all interweave in Elia Kazan's marvellous movie set in depression ridden south during the 30s. Beautiful textured with remarkable location shooting, the film does not provide us with a simple comforting answer to the issues it examines, it rather observes their inherent contradictions. These contradictions are embodied in Montgomery Clift's character who vacillates between reason an emotion, while his indecisiveness is strongly contrasted with the strong-mindedness of the local people. The improbable romance supports these contrasts and Kazan, though clearly a progressive, captures the sense of loss when a certain way of life has to be left behind.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Entertaining during its running time, forgettable afterwards, this action-comedy benefits mainly from the chemistry of the two leads and some fitting location shooting. Although it's definitely a good idea having CIA, DEA, Navy Seals and the drug barons fighting against each other for other people's money, the script has bitten more that it can chew and each plot turn becomes more improbable than the preceding one. The film never takes itself too seriously but its tone is more farcical than satirical, diminishing its critique and lasting impact.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

Several films have tried to depict the emotions arousing from the first love but few have managed to do as intensely and forensically as this film. Kechiche shoots the film almost exclusively using close-ups that capture almost every emotional undulation like an invisible oscilloscope of the soul. He richly depicts the emotional landscape of his heroine, Adèle, how her sensibilities grow and get attuned until the ruthless intrusion of reality.

Kechiche, always an astute social observer, does not harbour any illusions regarding the importance of social and cultural determinants in a relationship and clearly shows that love cannot overcome indefinitely the social barriers unlike the cinematic barriers that this magnificent film has succeeded so well in exploring and at times transcending. The work of a master.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

The subject matter is quite topical and with good potential as it deals with how allegiances got shifted or redefined in the aftermath of 9/11. Unfortunately Mira Nair is not the suitable director to handle convincingly a multi-layered narrative and at the same time create a gripping thriller. The tension is throughout lacking, several supporting characters exist simply to check some plot boxes like the perfunctory romance with Kate Hudson, while, most fatally, Nair imposes a quick cut editing so overused today that disorientates the viewer by destroying the sense of continuity within the individual sequences. Quickly forgettable despite the plot's intrinsic interest.
10 years 7 months ago
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mpouk

A partial return to form for Neil Jordan after the shipwreck of "Ondine" ," Byzantium" has sumptuous visuals and provides an original take on the vampire myth and its origins. While the mystery is continuously engaging and it unravels with narrative aplomb in two time frames, the characters, with the exception of that of Saoirse Ronan, fail to be particularly distinctive and appear sometimes to act simply in order to advance the plot. Nevertheless, the undercurrent feminist parable of centuries of sexploitation is interesting and original while Jordan's visual talent is evident in some scenes making the film certainly worth seeing.
10 years 8 months ago

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