Saturday, May 14, 2011

Movie Update 6

I saw some more movies. They were all pretty good. Some won awards!


Much like Milos Forman's earlier One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, this won a ton of Oscars including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, this time for F. Murray Abraham as a Vienna court composer who had an equal amount of hate and admiration for Wolfgang Mozart. This was kind of an odd movie, with Mozart being shown as both a master of music and kind of a clownish person, and some of the performances felt a little off. It managed to stay interesting for three hours though, and I loved the way it depicted the writing and reading of music. Lots of interesting classical music throughout, even if some of the opera segments seemed to drag on a bit. Abraham really is good too, especially in the scenes when he's older.

Cinema Paradiso

I definitely feel conflicted about this one. I thought it was too long, at almost three hours, especially since the version to actually receive accolades was almost an hour shorter. On the other hand, the shorter version cuts a subplot that I felt added a lot of actual meaning to the story, which makes me wonder which version I actually would have preferred. It's a story about many things; the love of film, a romance that ended too soon, and a man's friendship with a mentor, whose death kicks off the flashback-heavy plot. The first thing came through the best, especially in the final scene of the movie, which is remarkably touching. And Ennio Morricone's scoring can make any movie better. Not great, but there's a lot of heart in it.


For all of the terrible things that happen in this movie, about the final days of Nazi Germany's role in World War II, it didn't seem quite as sad as it maybe should have been. There's something just a bit clinical about all of the failure and suicides that add up over time, preventing it from becoming soul crushing but also from being a truly great film. Bruno Ganz is terrific as Hitler though, not really making him sympathetic (who would want that?), but making him seem like a person instead of an inscrutable monster. It overcomes the dozens of videos that put silly subtitles over one of the film's most dramatic moments, which is certainly worth noting.

Red Beard

Akira Kurosawa's final black and white film, and his final collaboration with Toshiro Mifune, is another solid creation from a director that I respect more than I enjoy. If it was just the story of a young, talented doctor coming to work for a gruff but singularly brilliant aging medical talent, I might have liked it more, but too much time was dedicated to the sob stories of many of their patients, which never seemed worth the time they tacked onto yet another three hour marathon of a film. No single scene is bad, and almost all of them are pretty remarkable from a pure film making perspective. I just wasn't interested in watching a lot of them. It makes the story seem choppy and missing some sort of focus. Mifune is again amazing though, impossibly awesome and captivating regardless of the age of whatever character he happens to be playing. That only fifteen years passed between Rashomon and this speaks to his talent. Which is what makes it mystifying that they never worked together again after this, though I'm sure there were plenty of factors.

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