Thursday, April 23, 2009

Short Cuts 2

Here are some more recent films I've seen that I would avoid, and the reasons why:

The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky, Russia) - Bergmanesque film made in Sweden by Russian director (using Berman's cinematorgrapher) who proves he can be just as boring as the Swede he admires. Painful to watch as we descend into dementia with an aging patriarch. 3* (of 10)

Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, Russia) - this is science fiction based on "Roadside Picnic" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It's worse than slow, you have to watch this 150 minutes of men sleeping and water dripping at high speed or else tear your hair out. Terrible science fiction, yet #125 on the critics 1000 (how?). The high contrast film also hurt my eyes. 2*
[Note: the two Tarkovksy films I'd recommend: Andrei Rublev, his masterpiece, and Ivan's Childhood, a beautifully shot, b&w anti-war WW2 film; in 59, one of the first Russian films to see airing in the U.S.]

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008 remake) - Not great in b&w in the 50's, still not great even with special effects. Good idea, just not much of a story to go with it (this kind of story is routine in early SciFi literature, there's much better out there in books). Mankind is so brutal and destructive that an advanced alien race wants to eradicate us to save the earth. This is sad whether true or not, because we are definitely killing the earth for our short-term profit. Canoe, er Keanu Reeves is even blander in this than normal; he needs to study Gary Cooper if he wants to do a lot with little effort. 4*

Sansho the Bailiff (Kenzi Mizoguchi, Japan) - #88 on the critics top 1000, this b&w 'classic' is a boring and painful look at slavery in ancient Japan. Well filmed, this is still a totally miserable exposé to sit through, and we all know slavery is awful for slaves. Made in 1954, the film looks like early 30's western films, it's that primitive. Watch Seven Samurai again instead, same era, two years later but decades ahead in style. I suppose of all these "short cut" films, this one will still probably interest the most cinephiles, as least as students of film history. 5*


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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