Thursday, January 31, 2008

Briemhild's Revenge|Fritz Lang Epic Collection|Disk 2

Runtime: 1 hr 40 mins
In KRIEMHILD'S REVENGE, part two of Fritz Lang's epic based on Nordic mythology, DIE NIBELUNGEN, the plot picks up immediately following the assassination of Siegfried, husband to the king of Burgundy's sister, Kriemhild. Hateful and angry as her family refuses to take action against... [More]
In KRIEMHILD'S REVENGE, part two of Fritz Lang's epic based on Nordic mythology, DIE NIBELUNGEN, the plot picks up immediately following the assassination of Siegfried, husband to the king of Burgundy's sister, Kriemhild. Hateful and angry as her family refuses to take action against Hagen, King Gunther's uncle, who engineered the plot to kill Siegfried, Kriemhild swears to avenge her assassinated husband. Kriemhild flees Burgundy to marry the king of the Huns and begins an intricately planned vendetta. She bears her new Hun husband a child, then invites the other Burgundians to the kingdom of the Huns. Unable to convince anyone to kill Hagen, Kriemhild schemes to get the Huns to start a wild party, and eventually a fight erupts between the two clans, during which the child is murdered. The Huns declare war against the Burgundians. Kriemhild offers to exchange all of the Burgundians for the life of the cursed Hagen, but when this fails, she torches the Hun palace where the Burgundians are barricaded. As the destruction spreads, Kriemhild has a final and fatal encounter with Hagen, as the Niebelungen saga comes to its visually stunning and dramatic close. Using the visual tricks of the expressionist school and his usual psychological tools of love, desire, and melodrama, Lang deftly evokes the far away days of magic, massacres and devastation. [Less]

Kriemhild's Revenge (1924)
It has been a while since I saw this movie, but it really did not make too much of an impression on me. The disk did not have any special features, which reduces the value of the film for myself.

Fritz Lang Epic Collection [5 Discs]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Agronomist (2002)

The fifth in a series of documentaries revolving around Haiti's struggle for democracy, this piece from director Jonathan Demme revolves around the life of Jean Dominique, a Haitian radio personality who spent his life campaigning for reform within the notoriously oppressed nation. The Agronomist begins just after the 1991 overthrow of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, when Dominique and his wife, while at the radio station, came under fire from rebels involved with the coup. Referred to as an agronomist due to his background in agriculture -- which, consequently, brought him into contact with the feudalistic nature of Haiti's farming system -- Dominique's passion for reform landed him in exile. Rather than give up after his release, Dominique initiated a career as a radio communicator, and he allowed Demme access to the station and his personal life during key periods of unrest and political fluctuation. Sadly, the documentary ends with an account of Dominique's assassination in April of 2000. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 91 mins
The Agronomist (2002)

Tonton Macoute
A basic documentary of a man struggling for freedom. Starting out as an "agronomist" and then branched out into radio broadcasting and a promoter of a films. One film he promoted was "Anita". None of the films he mentioned I see from Blockbuster except Night and Fog (1955).

The film has some nudity as some of the Haitians dance in the water and mud topless.

While welcoming the CNG's statement, the Haitian Chamber of Commerce expressed concern today. They are worried that the CNG has overstepped their role by engaging in acts of intimidation that violate human rights. The Chamber of Commerce hopes the rule of law is not jeopardized and is used for very specific goals:
*a society of laws, rights and responsibilities to which we aspire
*providing clear laws, respected by all, obeyed by all, lest our justice system will crumble.[Excerpt from film about the National Council of Government (French: Conseil National de Gouvernement, CNG)]

67% of the Haitian people voted for Aristide and his Lavalas movement.

December 16,1996-Live interview with President Aristide:
Jean Dominique: President, when you came back, you told 10 to 12 of the big, big millionaires in this country what we cal the big oligarchy those big bourgeois you said it's time for Reconciliation! And you began to shower them with gifts. Gifts to the left, gifts to the right. And in return these people have their own people working for the tax offices so they don't have to pay taxes. Their own people are working at the electric company so they don't pay for electricity and so on. Which means they repay your gifts with corruption inside your institutions and often this corruption is accepted by the militants within your Lavalas Party.
Aristide: I agree with some of your points, but not others. One thing I don't agree with--
JD: Reconciliation and gifts?
A: --No gifts--
JD: They were gifts--
A: No, I don't agree with you. Democracy is like a bicycle, One wheel is Reconciliation, the other is Justice. Deprived of one, democracy is not rolling.
JD: The Tevasa contract was a Reconciliation 'gift' but I don't see where the Justice lies!
A: Well now you are--

After that the relationship between JD and A cooled off tremendously.

I am sure that last part is something will never register in liberal minds. Something like a dog whistle to their ears...

For a biographical documentary, this film gave a nice feel for Haiti and Jean without it being a collection of trivial points randomly gathered together. And it did give me another view of Haiti that broadened my understanding of the people and the history.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2006)

It was unfortunate that I did not get to see the original The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) before seeing this one. Right off the bat, I see how some bad mixing of the various layers has distorted some of the actors faces-especially in background shots. Maybe the best part of the movie is the soundtrack. Even my wife had to ask about what some of the sounds were coming from the stereo were.
Bay Area digital effects wizard David Lee Fisher offers an enticing visual remix of the 1920 German expressionist classic with this innovative updating that places contemporary performers against scanned backdrops of the original and offers a detailed new script to create an exciting new vision. As the annual fair descends upon the sleepy burg of Holstenwall, Germany, Francis and his best friend Alan are unwittingly enticed into attending an exhibition by malevolent hypnotist Dr. Caligari that will have a sinister, life-changing effect on the pair. When the dreadful doctor awakens psychic sleepwalker Cesare (Hellboy's Doug Jones) from his profound slumber to predict Alan's future, the resulting prophecy is endlessly more terrifying than the frightened friends could have ever imagined. In the days that follow, the citizens of Holstenwell fall prey to a grisly series of unsolved murders that prompts Francis to launch a thorough investigation. With the killer fast closing in on Francis' unsuspecting fiancée Jane, the brave husband-to-be must uncover the secret of Dr. Caligary's strange powers before his one and only love suffers a particularly grim fate. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 76 mins
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2006)

Cesare-a somnambulist (somnambulism or noctambulism),
(From original film Wiki:)The film tells the story of the deranged Dr. Caligari and his faithful sleepwalking Cesare and their connection to a string of murders in a German mountain village, Holstenwall. Caligari presents one of the earliest examples of a motion picture "frame story" in which the body of the plot is presented as a flashback, as told by Francis.

The narrator, Francis, and his friend Alan visit a carnival in the village where they see Dr. Caligari and Cesare, whom the doctor is displaying as an attraction. Caligari brags that Cesare can answer any question he is asked. When Alan asks Cesare how long he has to live, Cesare tells Alan that he will die tomorrow at dawn — a prophecy which turns out to be fulfilled.

Francis, along with his girlfriend Jane, investigate Caligari and Cesare, which eventually leads to Jane's kidnapping by Cesare. Caligari orders Cesare to kill Jane, but the hypnotized slave relents after her beauty captivates him. He carries Jane out of her house, leading the townsfolk on a lengthy chase. Francis discovers that "Caligari" is actually the head of the local insane asylum, and with the help of his colleagues discovers that he is obsessed with the story of a medieval Dr. Caligari, who used a somnambulist to murder people as a traveling act.

Cesare falls to his death during the pursuit and the townsfolk discover that Caligari had created a dummy of Cesare to distract Francis. After being confronted with the dead Cesare, Caligari breaks down and reveals his mania and is imprisoned in his asylum. The influential twist ending reveals that Francis' flashback is actually his fantasy: The man he claims is Caligari is indeed his asylum doctor, who, after this revelation of the source of his patient's delusion, claims to be able to cure him.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (2005 film)

One unusual segment of the film was when Francis asks Jane to marry him. Not only does he ask to Jane's back, but Jane does not even turn around when she says yes and then leaves the scene without looking at Francis once while Francis continues to mutter to himself. It is almost like a forgone conclusion and they only went through the motions for the proposal and acceptance.

Ultimately, this film was a good idea but the special effects was sorely lacking. Thus rated 3

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rollerball (1975)

It was never meant to be a game...
Jonathan E. meets the ultimate computer, "Zero". While Zero does not control men as in Alphaville but is the holder of all information and the "librarian" rambles on about them losing all the computers that held the information from the 1300s. All books were already transcribed into the computers and only corporate executives could access the information and are the deciders in the society. There were 5 corporations in control in this world. Zero was to indicate the beginning and the end-according to the director. Hal from 2001 was supposedly the inspiration for the computer Zero. Zero is the container of the "water of history".

The governing structure is so unrealistic and comical. I guess it is one big corporation that controls all aspects of life and for propaganda (control of the proletariat) they devised the game Rollerball. But like any propaganda, there is bond to be unexpected consequences or misinterpretation of the signals. Supposedly it was to show the futility of one man and only teamwork will win in the end. But any one watching the "FANS" of a game can see this behavior is more likely to instill a sense of violence than it is to squelch such actions. And we do get to see not only the outward actions of violence but fan on fan violence.

The person that praises the insights from this movie is "War"-ren so it understandable that such glorified violence would be the type of film he would so identify. But another aspect that goes against the "Liberal" mentality is that in this futuristic world everyone is provided for all their needs as in positive rights. This seems to be an Utopian world vision that Libs are always trying to achieve. Thus I have to wonder what this film really means for ren.
In the year 2018 violence has been outlawed and corporations have replaced government as the ruling party following the demise of politics. With the absence of war or conflict, a forcibly passive population's bloodlust is satisfied by a brutal new sport known as Rollerball. A high-octane melding of the outlawed sports of the past, the worldwide phenomenon of Rollerball has resulted in a corporate-backed sensation. The most popular athlete in the world, Jonathan E. (James Caan) has steadily risen through the ranks to become a legendary veteran of the sport. When the corporate backers of Rollerball begin to fear that Jonathan's popularity has instilled him with a potentially dangerous amount of power, a thunderous struggle between man's free will and the oppression of the masses threatens to shatter the fragile strings that the puppet masters use to manipulate mankind. His determination to remain with the sport flying in the face of the very reason Rollerball was conceived, the corporate rulers hatch a plot to abandon the rules in hopes that Jonathan will be killed and their grip of power will remain an unyielding chokehold on an increasingly bloodthirsty populace. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 125 mins
Rollerball (1975)
If the director, writer, and producer were trying to not glorify violence, they failed miserably. Obscene violence attacking violence is a complete excuse for making the film. It was really nothing more than a snuff film with the excuse being that it was controlled by corporations. The whole game could have easily been written as a Great Socialist State as in 1984, or a Fascist State.

The most ridiculous scene for me was the shotting of the trees. While the director thinks it portrays destruction of nature, every scene outside and Jonathan's ranch was a large spread with no environmental degradation. He claims the trees were 125 to 150 years old that the lusty individuals blow up with the gun, but by the rings of branches only shows about 20 years old and the diameter of the trees would indicate less than 30 years old also. Ultimately it was just a few rich people having fun blowing up a few trees, and that from the surrounding area indicates to me that they would quickly be replaced.

Note the commentator and director for the film's special features was Norman Jewison which was recorded in 1997, December.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Angel-A (2005) "Angela"

A desperate man in serious debt attempts to wipe his account clean in the most permanent way imaginable, only to find himself saved from a grim, self-inflicted demise by his selfless attempt to rescue another would-be suicide in director Luc Besson's tenth outing as a director. Andre (Jamel Debbouze) is a debt-ridden twenty-eight year old who has until midnight to pay back 40,000 euros to one of Paris' most ruthless gangsters. When the menacing Franck (Gilbert Melki) has his thugs dangle Andre over the edge of the Eiffel Tower soon thereafter, the debtor who views himself as an American on a technicality seeks the help of the U.S. Embassy to no avail. After failing to convince the local police to lock him up for his own protection, Andre, sensing death is eminent, determines to end his life on his own terms. As Andre steps over the edge of the city's most awe-inspiring bridges and prepares to take that fateful plunge, he suddenly notices a statuesque blonde in a little black dress preparing to meet her maker in a similar fashion. As the woman leaps into the Seine, Andre instinctively jumps in to rescue her. Resting safely on the shore after looking death straight in the eye, the sorrowful pair soon finds their fates inexorably tied. Though Andre initially scolds the ravishing Angela (Rie Rasmussen) for attempting to deprive the world of such stunning beauty, she bitterly assures her one-armed savior that her physical perfection is without question only skin deep. Nevertheless the aggressive blonde betrays her own negative self-image by pledgeing to stick by Andre through thick and thin, and the unlikely duo soon sets out on a mission to solve Andre's formidable list of problems and get his life back in order again. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 91 mins Angel-A (2005)

A nice love story of two completely different people and not the least being height. We did see Jamel Debbouze in another film I recently watched in Days of Glory. Which of course made me curious when in the opening dialogue André states that he is an American. I guess since I was curious how both parts had him where his right arm was either hanging loose or was not used at all-including he became the hand grenade thrower in Days of Glory. From Wiki:
On 17 January 1990, while crossing the tracks at the SNCF station in Trappes, Debbouze was struck by a Paris - Nantes train travelling at 150 km/h. As a result of this accident he lost the use of his right arm. In the same incident another youth named Jean-Paul Admette, who was known to Debbouze, was killed. Debbouze was prosecuted in connection with the death of Admette but was discharged from the charge of "homicide involontaire" due to lack of evidence. The family of Admette have maintained that Debbouze is responsible for his death. In 2004, Debbouze cancelled a tour of Reunion, ostensibly for reasons of health. It later emerged that the Admette family had planned to protest at the shows to draw attention to their position.[2]
Angel: How much are you willing to pay?
Man at Bar: I see. Why should I pay?
A: What you don't pay for has no value.
MaB: Good Point.

But I wonder how anyone, let alone two people, thought jumping off a short bridge (at most 50ft) into a deep river is going to kill themselves.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Misc. Items & James Bond is back in 'Quantum of Solace'

Oh boy! I am looking forward to:James Bond is back in 'Quantum of Solace'

This is some parts of Opus art experimental ruttmann vs alexis milant from List of German films 1919-1933. Just remember Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

King of Hearts (1966)

The French/Italian/British King of Hearts (Le Roi de Coeur) takes place during World War I, but it might as well have been the Vietnamese conflict so far as its youthful "core" audience was concerned. Overacting outrageously, Adolfo Celi plays British colonel Alexander MacBibenbrook, who orders mild-mannered Scotsman Pvt. Charles Plumpick (Alan Bates) to undertake a life-or-death mission in a tiny French village. While evacuating the town, the Germans have left behind a time bomb that will explode at midnight; Plumpick must defuse that bomb. Upon his arrival in town, Plumpick discovers that it is far from deserted. A group of inmates from the local insane asylum, left behind during the evacuation, have claimed the village for their own. Knocked unconscious, Plumpick awakens to learn that he has been crowned "King of Hearts" by the gentle lunatics. None of the inmates pay any heed to Plumpick's warnings about impending doom, and when he attempts to lead them out of town, they are terrified at the prospect and scurry back to the "safety" of the village. Plumpick is finally able to render the bomb useless, whereupon the grateful inmates decide to stage a three-year celebration. When Plumpick tries to leave, he is kidnapped by the loonies at the behest of beautiful inmate Coquelicot (Geneviève Bujold), who has fallen in love with him. Bound and gagged, Plumpick watches helplessly as the Germans and the British troops kill each other off in comic-opera fashion. Finally set free, Plumpick weighs the horrible insanity of war against the more benign brand of lunacy represented by the inmates. The final image -- of a nude Plumpick carrying a birdcage, knocking on the doors of the asylum, and demanding that he be "accepted" -- was reproduced for the print ads of King of Hearts, effectively giving away the ending. An essential "date" film of the 1970s, King of Hearts was often released to campus movie houses in tandem with a pair of cult-favorite short subjects, the animated Bambi Meets Godzilla and Lenny Bruce's Thank You Masked Man. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 102 mins
King of Hearts (1966)
Got so busy with my studies that I did not get around to putting some notes for this movie. It was a funny movie and tried to present the horrors of war and mindlessness of humans killing others just for the sake of who is better. But the acting was little better than a small community play theater. The inmates were nothing more than children that could not identify with the suffering of others. After their child like playing with other people's property they got bored and went back to their gilded cages.

The most beautiful journeys are taken through the window.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Spiders (1919)|Part One: The Golden Sea|Part Two:The Diamond Ship

This film prevented Lang from working on "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari" which was assigned to him by producer Erich Pommer. He also planed on the third in the series being entitled The Secret of the Sphinx and For Asia's Imperial Crown, but unfortunately for the world they never materialized.
A film buff's dream, Spiders is comprised of two episodes from an unfinished silent serial from Fritz Lang. Filled with excitement and adventure, it tells the story of a brave explorer who is questing for the fabulous Incan diamond. To get it though, he must keep ahead of the powerful Spider cult, who want it for their own evil purposes. The episodes were originally titled "The Golden Lake" and "The Diamond Ship." Many of the techniques and production designs Lang experimented with in this aborted series, he later refined in his classic Dr. Mabuse films. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 137 mins
The Spiders (1919)

I am not usually bothered by poor film quality but this one had a distracting knack of changing color (sepia tones) for every scene from green, blue, red and etc. Also the scratches and imperfections on the film was also of the poorest quality I have seen.

For an adventure film much like Raiders of the Lost Ark it tried to create excitement and drama but with little special effects and mostly stationary film shots it lacked luster like more recent films have. It seems that the underlying story line could be redone to take advantage of the better cinematic skills of today. Anyone out there that wants to take on such a challenge?

Sorry Fritz, I only rated this a 3 just as the average Blockbuster person has rated it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Talking Picture (2003)

Elder statesman of Portuguese filmmaking Manoel de Oliveira directs the dialogue-driven drama A Talking Picture. Starting in Lisbon, the film involves a Mediterranean cruise with mother Rosa Maria (Leonor Silveira) and daughter Maria Joana (Filipa de Almedia). From France to Turkey, the tourists travel to various stops as Rosa Maria talks to her daughter about world history. Several international stars show up in cameo roles, including John Malkovich, Irene Papas, Catherine Deneuve, and Stefania Sandrelli -- each speaking in his or her native language. A Talking Picture was shown in competition at the 2003 Venice Film Festival. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 93 mins
A Talking Picture (2003)
At first I really did not understand their moving so slow to present their ideas, but in hindsight they made a nice little film about history. I also wondered how much information the small girl was going to absorb from such talks. A couple of years older may have been better for such an adventure.

Some could consider it propaganda for a positive Christian angle, especially the ending that implied some terrorist act. Yes a sad ending with John Malkovich of a still shot of him with a sad face.

General Idi Amin Dada (1974)

Ugandan dictator Idi Amin Dada was but a distant irritation to everyone but his own countrymen and the British Empire until his perfidy became headline material in the early '70s. The first director to provide an in-depth study of this gregarious madman was director Barbet Schroeder, with his General Idi Amin Dada. In this documentary, Schroeder and his crew travel to Uganda to spend several days with the despot, one-on-one. The uncomfortable truths revealed in the film are all the most amazing when one realizes that Schroeder could not release his documentary without Amin's approval. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 90 mins
General Idi Amin Dada (1974)

General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait

Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait
Also Known As (AKA)
General Amin UK
General Idi Amin Dada USA
General Idi Amin Dada: A Self Portrait USA
No One Can Run Faster Than a Rifle Bullet (undefined)

Cult of Personalism

His Excellence Al-Hajji General Idi Amin Dada on The Middle East Crisis
The Middle East crisis: His Excellency the President Al-Hajji General Idi Amin Dada's contribution to the solution of the Middle East crisis during the third year of the Second Republic of Uganda (Unknown Binding)

Last audio line cut from the film:
After a century of colonialization, let us not forget that it is partially deformed image of ourselves that Idi Amin Dada reflects back at us.
as Dada looks around the room with his face filling the whole screen.

Even though it was meant as a propaganda film by Dada and the film crew did not have access to all areas of Uganda to give the complete picture of this man, it does play an important role in documenting the man of Idi Amin and what type of character he was.

After viewing this film, I have to give another kudo to Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland in his portrayal of Dada...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Siegfried|Fritz Lang Epic Collection|Disk 1

Fritz Lang Epic Collection
Running Time: 727 mins
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: Ger/Eng
Studio: Kino

One of the Savages had a watch on in one scene and Fritz had to stop the shooting.
One of the cut scenes was of a man turning a full size cow on a spit and not being able to turn it all the way around. LOL.

The first film in this collection was of Nibelungen: Siegfried, Die (1924):
Siegfried, son of King Sigmund, hears of the beautiful sister of Gunter, King of Worms, Kriemhild. On his way to Worms, he kills a dragon and finds a treasure, the Hort. He helps Gunther to win Krimhild, a mask that makes him invisible proves to be very useful. But because Brunhild is cursing Kriemhild, she tells her what really happened. Now Brunhild wants Siegfried's head. Is Gunther going to do her that favor? Written by Stephan Eichenberg {}

The magnificent poetic saga of Siegfried is told through seven cantos: Canto 1: How Siegfried Slayed the Dragon: Siegfried, the son of King Siegmund, forges a sharp sword and hears stories from the locals about Princess Kriemhild. He decides to go to Worms to win Kriemhild. Along his journey, he kills a dragon and baths in its blood to become invincible. Canto 2: How Bolker, the Bard, Sang of Siegfried in Front of Kriemhild and How Siegfried Came in Worms: Siegfried fights and defeats the dwarf King of the Realm of the Nibelungen Alberich that was wearing his wonder cap that makes the user unseen or in whatever form he wishes. Alberich asks Siegfried to spare his life and in return he gives the Treasure of the Nibelungen and the Balmung sword. Siegfried makes twelve kings as his vassals, and when he asks the hand of Kriemhild to her weak brother King of Burgundy Gunther, he advises that he would accept is Siegfried helps him to win the strong Queen of Iceland Brunhild. Canto 3: How Siegfried Won Brunhild for Gunther: Siegfried wears the invisible helmet and helps Gunther to win Brunhild in the proofs of throwing stones and spear and jumping. Canto 4: How Brunhild Enters Worms and How the King Celebrate Their Wedding: Brunhild tells Gunther that she is her captive but not his bride. Gunther asks Siegfried to help him again in his wedding night, and Siegfried takes his form and accidentally brings Brunhild's armlet with him. Canto 5: How After Half a Year, Siegfried's Gift to His Bride, The Nibelungen Treasure, Arrives in Worms and How the Two Queens Quarrel With Each Other: When Kriemhild finds Brunhild's armlet, Siegfried tells her how her brother won the queen. While going to the mass, Kriemhild and Brunhild quarrel and the offended Kriemhild discloses the truth to her brother's wife. Canto 6: How Gunther Betrayed Siegfried: Brunhild lies to Gunther and tells him that she lost her virginity with Siegfried. Gunther organizes boar hunting in the Odenwald Forest and asks Hagen Tronje to slain Siegfried. Hagen lures Kriemhild and she tells the vulnerable part of Siegfried's body where the lime leaf has fallen. Brunhild fasts, Gunther betrays Siegfried, and Hagen impales him with a spear. Canto 7: How Kriemhild Swears Revenge to Hagen Tronje: Brumhild tells Gunther that she lied and he killed his only loyal friend. Then she dies of starvation. Kriemhild swears revenge to Hagen. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The womenfolk cause no end of trouble for their beaux in this 'Fritz Lang' masterpiece adapted from the Nibelungenlied. Magic swords, enchanted snoods, and powerful amulets abound at a time when the world is populated by dragons, dwarves, and Teutonic heroes. Siegfried is one tough customer, but he better watch out . . . hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Written by Thomas McWilliams {}
I am actually a little surprised by the special effects on this film. But much of techniques of the glass plates and vignettes were later used and expanded on when he did such other masters as Metropolis.

Although the acting for the dragon fight scene was almost comical in nature and the over-dramatics of the Knight was too much, the dragon was truly a masterpiece of design and engineering. I even almost felt sorry for the dragon since it was not hurting anyone and Siegfried felt it was his duty to go search him out and slap his sword against the dragon a few times before stabbing its eye and then giving it a fatal blow that starts a small stream of liquid out of its neck. This is where Siegfried becomes like Achilles in being invulnerable to all weapons except one spot on his body.

Still it was slow with not a lot of dialog (silent). Seems it would have been a nice 1/2 long TV show.

And ironically the films subtitle was "For the German People". Nibelungen as Nietzchian supermen who hold the Asiatic Huns at bay. tableaux vivants

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Grand Illusion (1937)

Originally entitled "The Escapes of Captain Maréchal".

Although the location of the film is different than the recent film Merry Christmas, it presents a side of the "Great War" that was covered in my history classes but then the horrors of the war was emphasized more as in "All Quiet on the Western Front".

Frequently cited as both one of the greatest films about war and one of the greatest films ever made, Jean Renoir's La Grande Illusion is an often witty, sometimes poignant, frequently moving examination of the futility of war. During World War I, twoFrench airmen are shot down while taking surveillance photographs in German territory: Capt. de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), a wealthy and aristocratic officer; Lt. Maréchal (Jean Gabin), a burly but intelligent working-class mechanic. The three are brought to a P.O.W. camp, where they encounter and befriend Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio), a prosperous Jewish banker, and the commander, Von Rauffenstein (Erich von Stroheim), takes an immediate liking to de Boeldieu.They are members of the same social class and believe that the political and intellectual ideals of the Europe they once knew will soon be a thing of the past with the rise to power of the proletariat. The three Frenchmen discover that their fellow prisoners have been digging an escape tunnel, and all of them agree to help -- Maréchal and Rosenthal with enthusiasm, de Boeldieu out of a sense of duty. As he puts it, when on a golf course, one plays golf, and while in a prison camp, one tries to escape -- it's the accepted thing to do. As Von Rauffenstein and de Boeldieu become friends, and the rank-and-file soldiers banter as much with the German guards as with each other, the characters seem involved less in a war than in some vast, petty game, albeit one with deadly consequences; they often talk about women and food, while never mentioning political ideology. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 114 mins
Grand Illusion (1937)

About the Title (excerpts):
Ideally, Grand Illusion should be The Great Illusion. As critics pointed out at the time of the film's 1937 release, the title was apparently inspired by a famous essay called "The Great Illusion," by British internationalist and economist Norman Angell. First published in 1909 as "Europe's Optical Illusion" and expanded the following year under its more famous title, Angell's book, which argued that the common economic interests of nations made war futile, was translated into 25 languages and sold some two million copies. Its populatrity endured well into the 1930s in France.

Goebbels had condemned it as "Cinematic Public Enemy No. 1."

Again the commentator added much value to the film for explaining the many nuances that I missed on the first time. But I have to say, I still do not completely get the reason for the title. And according to the commentator, the final title was not given until late in the production of the film. Thus only a 3.5 rating for myself.

Paris, je t'aime (2006)

Twenty acclaimed filmmakers from around the world look at love in the City of Lights in this omnibus feature. Paris Je T'aime features eighteen short stories, each set in a different part of Paris and each featuring a different cast and director (two segments were produced by two filmmakers in collaboration). In "Faubourg Saint-Denis," Tom Tykwer directs Natalie Portman as an American actress who is the object of affection for a blind student (Melchior Belson). Christopher Doyle's "Porte de Choisy" follows a salesman (Barbet Schroeder) as he tries to pitch beauty aids in Chinatown. Nick Nolte and Ludivine Sagnier are father and daughter in "Parc Monceau" from Alfonso Cuaron. Animator Sylvain Chomet turns his eye to a pair of living, breathing mimes in "Tour Eiffel." An interracial romance in France is offered by Gurinder Chadha in "Quais de Seine." In "Le Marais" from Gus Van Sant, a man (Gaspard Ulliel) finds himself falling for a handsome gent (Elias McConnell) who works in a print shop. Isabelle Coixet tells the tale of a man (Sergio Castellitto) who is making his final choice between his wife (Miranda Richardson) and his lover (Leonor Watling) in "Bastille." Juliette Binoche plays a grieving mother in Nobuhiro Suwa's "Place des Victoires," in which she's greeted by a spectral cowboy (Willem Dafoe). Richard LaGravanese's "Pigalle" finds a long-married man (Bob Hoskins) turning to a prostitute for advice on pleasing his wife (Fanny Ardant). Gerard Depardieu and Frederic Auburtin direct Gena Rowlands and Ben Gazzara as longtime marrieds meeting for one final pre-divorce encounter in "Quartier Latin." Steve Buscemi learns a lesson about local etiquette in the Paris Metro in "Tuileries" from Joel and Ethan Coen. In "Loin du 16eme" by Walter Salles, a housekeeper (Catalina Sandino Moreno) longs for her own child as she tends to the infant of her wealthy employer. Elijah Wood stars in "Quartier de la Madeleine," a vampire tale from from Vincenzo Natali. Wes Craven presents another fantasy in "Pere-Lachaise," in which an engaged young man (Rufus Sewell) receives romantic advice from the spirit of Oscar Wilde (Alex Payne). A postal worker from Colorado (Margo Martindale) shares her thoughts on her visit to Paris in oddly accented French in Alexander Payne's witty "14th Arrondissement." Other segments include "Place des Fetes" from Olivier Schmitz, Bruno Podalydes's "Montmartre" and "Quartier des Enfants Rouges" by Olivier Assayas, which stars Maggie Gyllenhall. Paris Je T'Aime received its world premiere at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Paris, je t'aime (2006)
I kept expecting that somehow these randomly thrown together short takes were going to add up to something, but I never found the Rosetta Stone of this picture. It was way too cut and paste of actors and scenes. Just when you started to get involved in a story it would switch. So while not my least favorite, I doubt it is worth me ever seeing again. Rating: 1.5 (/5)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Kingdom (2007)

In the aftermath of a deadly attack on American forces in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, diplomats are slow to act, but meanwhile, FBI special agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) assembles a secret team of U.S. counter-terrorism investigators to enter the city and find the criminal behind what has quickly become an international incident. The crew, however, finds their attempt to capture the perpetrators stalled by bureaucracy and their presence unwelcome. Desperate to gain the trust they need to accomplish their mission in just five days, the team enlists the aid of a Saudi Arabian police officer (Ashraf Barhoum), but as the agents infiltrate the dark and complex world of the Saudi crime scene, they find that the perpetrator's next target may be them. Directed by Peter Berg, The Kingdom also stars Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman. ~ Cammila Albertson, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 110 mins
The Kingdom (2007)
Recently, I have heard about a number of films released that are usually called "Anti-Americanism". While I have issues and thoughts on Anti-Americanism as a useful phrase, today I just wanted to note the positive aspects of the FBI and the US citizens that have volunteered for a job to figure out the terrorists attacks as demonstrated in this film.

I do have to question that they created an impossible situation to get out of when the heroes got trapped in a narrow street with machine gunners, rocket launchers and others with hand grenades barraging them from all sides. In real life the US and the Arab Police would have died right then and there. This was sort of like Rambo never getting hit but killing 20 others with machine guns.

The facts are similar to the recent incidents in Pakistan, as in:
1. Musharraf calls in Scotland Yard
2. Analysts: Scotland Yard may find little to do in Pakistan by Marc Carnegie.
But I did love the highway shoot out and the chase afterwards.

I loved watching the deleted scenes and this movie had plenty that would have been nice to have included in the film. I guess on DVDs, a longer film is easier to sit through. The making of the film was also worth it and they had an interesting special feature of having all four person(s) version of the last fight edited just for their own version of the fight.

Lastly since I love to spoil the endings since the quotes are so good. The last scene is called "Kill them All". It cuts back and forth between scenes but this is the text as best I could capture.
Adam Leavitt (yes the one almost left behind): Fleury tell me what you whispered to Jan to get her to stop crying in the meeting. (Paraphrased).

Mother to child: Tell me, what did your grandfather whisper in your ear before he died?

Fleury: I told her we were going to kill them all.

Child to mother: Don't fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all.