Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window Movie Review

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Rear Window Movie Review

Rear Window is a 1954 mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. It is one of the best films ever made.

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We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms.

What people ought to do is get outside

their own house and look in for a change

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Rear Window Movie Review

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It follows a professional photographer who injured his leg and is bound to a chair until it heals. He spends the majority of his type spying on various neighbors from his apartment until he comes to suspect that one of them is a murderer.

So the film is very much a mystery but also a strong suspense thriller in its third act. As a mystery, it fully works because I was intrigued from the beginning and I wanted to know what happened and is this man truly a murderer. It features an abundant amount of detail and I loved how we got to solve the mystery along with Jeff. Very well realized.

But it is maybe even stronger as a suspense flick because that third act is downright thrilling to behold. Of course the ending is great, but to me the highlight was following Lisa go into the murderer’s apartment. That was inventively shot, unforgettable and simply riveting to watch. The tension there was so palpable that I even got goosebumps.

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Rear Window Movie Review

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But where Rear Window truly succeeds and is remembered the most is in its themes. It is the ultimate picture about voyeurism as it explores it to the fullest degree. It never goes too far, but just right. It portrayed the loneliness and boredom of people so truthfully while giving us a wonderful glimpse at a 1950s neighborhood.

And as many have pointed out, the film is very feminist which was not expected from Hitchcock who honestly did not portray women all that well usually. But here the women are actually active in solving the case, even going so far as to go into the murderer’s apartment to look for clues. So the man stays bound to his chair, while the women investigate and go into action. That was fantastic to witness in a 50s movie.

So let’s talk about these women. The film really has only four characters and thus all four are superbly developed and highly memorable. It is a wonderful indoors, confined chamber flick and probably the best example of such a film.

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Rear Window Movie Review

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Stella is very funny and is the comic relief in the film which is usually very serious and dark, but she provides the much needed humor and some of her morbid lines were so funny. Thelma Ritter did a phenomenal job in this role and she ought to have gotten a seventh nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Lisa is simply fantastic. She at first seemed like a typical younger love interest, but eventually proved to be anything but. She is very strong, capable and brave while still remaining elegant and ladylike. Grace Kelly probably gave her finest performance here and she simply shines in all of her scenes.

Raymond Burr is memorable and creepy as Lars Thorwald who is not too much in the film, but is always a very intense presence. And Jeff is awesome and a very complex main character who is never portrayed as too heroic which was a nice change in pace. James Stewart here gave one of his best performances and that really says a lot for a man of his caliber. His performance is brilliant and extremely powerful and nuanced.

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Rear Window Movie Review

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Rear Window is a glorious achievement technically speaking as well. The dialogue is playful, smart and outstanding with a couple of funny as well as observant lines. Hitchcock’s direction is amazing and this is his very best film in my opinion which says a lot as he’s the best director who ever lived. Here he not only showed that he is the master of suspense, but he also showed his deft hand at structure and inventive storytelling. The scene where we follow each neighbor and we witness a woman preparing dinner for an imaginary guest is one of the best sequences of all time and an incredibly moving, powerful piece of filmmaking.

The film is the most inventive thriller of all time. The cinematography here is of the best in film history as each shot is beautiful, elaborate and immaculately conceived. The camera moves elegantly to capture every single moment that matters and the camera can be said to be the character in itself here. We become Jeff as we follow the action through his binoculars and thus this is the ultimate ‘put in the protagonist’s shoes’ movie.

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Rear Window Movie Review

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The score is nice as well and the film looks and sounds great throughout its whole runtime. It lasts for just about the right time and is consistently riveting from the very first to the very last moment. Nothing is wasted or rushed here and every single scene matters. It truly is a masterpiece and an almost flawless film which currently sits at number seven on my all-time list.

With not a single wasted or rushed scene, immaculate camera work, highly inventive storytelling and many brilliantly conceived, highly suspenseful sequences, Rear Window is also thematically observant and very sophisticated with phenomenal dialogue and a couple of highly memorable lines. Grace Kelly probably gave her finest performance here and this is also one of James Stewart’s best works which says a lot for the man of his caliber. The film is also admirably feminist, especially for its time. Palpably intense, brilliantly authentic and almost flawless, Rear Window is in my opinion one of the ten greatest films of all time.

My Rating – 5

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Cinderella Meets Fella (1938)

Cinderella Meets Fella ReviewCinderella Meets Fella Review

Cinderella Meets Fella is a 1938 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a hilarious short.

Having in mind that this short is directed by Tex Avery, it was bound to be great as it is. It has his great signature humor and I loved its parody. It parodies Cinderella and it does that really well with a couple of hilarious moments. The film is still sweet and moving, but with a couple of decidedly adult gags which I appreciated. It isn’t perfect as the second half never quite is comparable to the first one and Cindy is portrayed as too young, but other than that, it’s awesome.

I really liked the animation and of course the characterization is excellent. Cindy is young but fun and memorable and of course Egghead is as amusing as he usually is. The funniest gags were the cuckoo trying to stop the clock, the various radio cuts as they were modern and put into an older period and of course the highlight is the Fairy Godmother who is here portrayed as a drunk lady who visits booze pubs regularly. The gag in which she pulls vodka instead of a magic wand from her purse was so funny.

Cinderella Meets Fella is one of the best Merry Melodies so far owing to it being such a great parody with excellent characterization and many hilarious mature gags.

My Rating – 4.3

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From the Page to the Screen – Prince Caspian

C. S. Lewis: Prince Caspian Book Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Prince Caspian

Prince Caspian is a classic 1951 fantasy novel written by C. S. Lewis. It is far from my favorite entry in this series, but it is still such a good second installment that gave us a very interesting Narnia story where animals do not rule for once, but the humans do. It is a very fascinating and also pretty dark read.

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The film was released in 2008 and it received much weaker reviews and box office numbers than the previous entry. It still did fairly well, but not nearly as great as the original and that was to be expected given how it ended up being annoyingly action oriented and loosely adapted.

PLOT

The plot in the film is pretty solid and most of the plot points were adapted. However, some were not and they were shortchanged for all that extensive action spectacle which I did not appreciate at all.

WINNER – BOOK

CHARACTERIZATION

I did not find Caspian to be a particularly strong character in the book, but in the movie he is even worse and his relationship with Susan came out of nowhere and was highly unnecessary. Others were fine, but I was not a fan of that particular development.

WINNER – BOOK

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EMOTION

Again the film is quite moving in its third act and very emotionally rewarding. And of course the novel has its fair share of heartfelt moments. As was the case with the previous comparison, I am going to give the two a tie in this category.

WINNER – TIE

THEMES

This goes without saying. The novel examines the principles, the warfare and particularly the memory of the past, but the film discards all of that for giant action sequences that took too much of the runtime.

WINNER – BOOK

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Although the action is ridiculously extended, it was admittedly fun for a while because it was very well executed overall. And again we got terrific  world building, cinematography, score and of course special effects. The book is very well written discounting the action which this author does not know how to write.

WINNER – FILM

BOOK 4: FILM 2

Despite the film’s heart and expectedly terrific action sequences, it is infinitely inferior both to the novel and to the original film. The action is overwhelming and that ruined the momentum of the story for me. It is a solid film, but this time around you are much better off with the original source material.

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From the Page to the Screen – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Book Review

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From the Page to the Screen – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a classic 1950 fantasy novel written by C. S. Lewis. It is considered to be one of the best fantasy novels ever written and belonging to one of the best fantasy series of books. That is all for many great reasons as it truly stood the test of time and is still a magical, wonderful read. It is definitely one of the best entries in the series.

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The film was released in 2005 to pretty good critical reception and excellent box-office. It was well received and justifiably so as it truly is an epic, cinematic and truly great counterpart to the novel and the only truly great entry in this movie franchise as the rest were much inferior in quality.

 

PLOT

Now the film follows the book quite faithfully and is actually as magical or as endearing as the novel itself. But no matter how wonderfully it adapted the story, the book is still the original one and Lewis’s imagination is responsible for this entire world.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The film’s character development is actually pretty strong. Admittedly the child actors were not great and their performances are quite weak overall, but most of the characters are as great as they were in the book with Aslan, Edmund and the Witch being the highlights. Plus Peter and Susan are actually better developed here than they were in the original.

WINNER – TIE

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EMOTION

The entire third act in the film is very moving emotionally speaking and highly endearing. The entire magical trip was worth it as that ending is very rewarding and I loved it. It was as weighty as it was in the written form.

WINNER – TIE

 

THEMES

The film is very much action and spectacle oriented whereas the book touches upon many themes ranging from good versus evil to man’s relationship with nature to spirituality and most importantly to betrayal and forgiveness.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

I love Lewis’s writing and he is the one responsible for this whole world as his imagination and world building are incredible. But the film does everything a movie adaptation should do – it gives us epic scope, arresting scenery, beautiful score and simply fantastic special effects that are some of the best of its decade.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 4: FILM 3

This was a pretty close race but in the end the novel takes the win. Certainly the film is undoubtedly the best of its franchise, very faithful, magical and incredible to look at, but the novel is the original one with a fantastic story and with more themes incorporated into it. But still the fact that we got such a phenomenal film from this classic fantasy work should be respected more as this flick is unfortunately quite underrated.

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Ranking 1980s Animated Short Oscar Winners

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Ranking 1980s Animated Short Oscar Winners

The eighties actually proved to be one of the better decades when it comes to the category of Best Animated Short Film at the Academy. Certainly some films here are weak, but most were admittedly very good and a couple are phenomenal and very authentic. So here is my ranking of all ten of these 80s shorts.

 

10. Sundae in New York

This one deserves the dead last spot for sure. Its song is catchy and that is basically all I can say that is positive when it comes to this overly short, overly patriotic and downright pointless and weakly animated love ode to the city of New York.

Sundae in New York Review

9. Charade

Charade is better than the aforementioned entry, but not by much. It is again weakly animated and overly short in length. It isn’t bad, but it is another basic and rehashed entry with the game of charade not being fully explored with no humor be to found here whatsoever.

Charade Review

 

8. A Greek Tragedy

I liked the animation in A Greek Tragedy and the score is also very nice. However, this film is anything but its epic title as the story is non-existent and we just follow these three women who try to hold the stones of the building. The humor is weak and I missed the point of the movie entirely. If there is any…

A Greek Tragedy Review

 

7. Tin Toy

Tin Toy is a very dated film. Certainly the plot is great and it influenced countless animated features in its wake and the action and humor are solid. But even though the CGI was groundbreaking for its time, it now looks awfully dated and especially in that ugly design of the baby. The lack of score also troubled me leading to an undeserved Oscar winner as there are so many better Pixar shorts out there.

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6. Tango

Tango is the first truly good film on this list. Yes, the use of live-action figurines in an animated film bothered me as I do not like that approach at all personally. But there is no denying that it is thematically a deep film which is very authentic in its execution and the exploration of the passage of time.

Tango Review

 

5. Anna & Bella

This charmer is overly weird and odd in some of its imagery, but I really liked it mostly for the strong sisterhood at the center of it. It is a moving, very endearing film which benefits from a particularly strong structure and wonderful animation.

Anna & Bella Review

 

4. The Man Who Planted Trees

This movie is very long as it lasts for thirty minutes. It is not particularly engaging and the narration is excessively used. But the animation is beyond beautiful and even artistic in quality, the emotion is evident and some scenes are downright magical. It features a great environmental message that anyone could get behind with.

The Man Who Planted Trees Review

 

3. Balance

I do get what Balance is all about, but only after I read about it after watching it. That is because the plot is way too vague. But even though it is vague and the sound editing is mediocre, watching these figures try to balance themselves on a platform was a pretty strange and interesting experience. The film is otherworldly in its atmosphere and definitely highly original.

Image result for balance 1989

 

2. The Fly

The Fly is way too short, there is no denying that. But you can also not deny how strong its subdued animation is and how amazing its fittingly hectic cinematography is. It is a short which puts you in the shoes of a house fly with remarkably detailed, realistic and downright authentic and admirable effect.

The Fly Review

 

1. Crac

Crac follows the story of one rocking chair from its conception to its place in the art museum where it eventually winds up. Its watercolor animation is simply beautiful and the film is dreamlike in its effect and not to mention incredibly original and also highly moving. Most of the movies on this list are very authentic in premise and execution, but this is the best of them all thanks to its high emotion, a wonderful score and artistic visuals.

Crac Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Murder on the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express is a 1934 mystery novel written by Agatha Christie. It is a classic novel which remains one of the author’s best as well as one of the genre’s quintessential works. Its themes and twist remain powerful to this day which is why it has been adapted to the big screen twice by now so let’s compare these two versions of the source material.

 

THE 1974 VERSION

The 1974 film is the more respected of the two versions which is baffling to me. It was a pretty huge deal back in 1974 as it received a bunch of Oscar nominations and even a win for Ingrid Bergman in the supporting role. But even though it is respected, I find this adaptation to be solid, but very flawed and overrated.

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PLOT

Admittedly the story is the best thing about the film. That’s because it adapted the novel so well and thankfully in a very faithful manner for the most part. I also really liked the somewhat changed ending. But unfortunately the plot here was just never as riveting as it was in the original.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

Most of the characters are very good here and the casting was for the most part superb, especially that of Anthony Perkins and Ingrid Bergman who steals the show in a deservedly Oscar-winning powerhouse turn. But the main character Poirot played by Albert Finney ruins the whole movie. He does not act or sound like his book counterpart at all.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

I have to give this one to the movie. The novel was rarely truly emotional, but in the film we get that great scene with Ingrid Bergman and it was so moving to witness and the emotion was felt in such a short, but powerful scene.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

The film never really goes in-depth with its themes as much as the novel does. The ending is very good, but somewhat rushed and thus the complexities of the crime were not really explored too much.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

Agatha Christie’s writing is sharp, vivid and full of great period and object detail. The film, on the other hand, has excellent costumes and is competently made, but never cinematic enough to justify its trip to the big screen.

WINNER – BOOK

 

BOOK 4: FILM 1

It is pretty evident that the book trumps the first movie adaptation by large. Certainly the film is more emotional and overall solid, but it is just never comparable to the excellent characterization, details and themes of the novel.

 

 

THE 2017 VERSION

The newest adaptation of this story came in 2017 and unfortunately received mixed reactions from both critics and fans which is a shame as it is easily the better of the two. This is one of the examples of how the critics can prove to be biased and incompetent in certain judgments as they gave a pass to the first movie too much whereas they criticized this obviously better crafted and more cinematic version.

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Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

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PLOT

The movie definitely has a competent adapted screenplay which is very faithful to the source material and it is consistently involving to watch. However, they added too much action for the modern audience which I did not appreciate.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

There is no denying the power of this ensemble cast of whom Daisy Ridley and Michelle Pfeiffer stole the show. But of course Kenneth Branagh is the standout one as he gave us a different, unique and worthy new Poirot and one of the year’s finest performances. Most of the actors were well cast and most got a solid amount of screen time but some were seriously shortchanged and the examinations were rushed in my opinion.

WINNER – BOOK

 

EMOTION

This is where the film is the clear winner. The book is pretty cold if I am to be honest, but this film is anything but. The entire third act is gloriously epic in terms of scale and emotion and watching Pfeiffer break down in tears was devastating as was watching Poirot struggle with his decision. They are all broken people and that was so well brought to the screen.

WINNER – FILM

 

THEMES

The film is thus also very smart and sophisticated in its third act as it explores the nature of what is right and what is wrong and that sometimes maybe the law is not right and that you have to take action into your own hands. But that was first conceived in the book leading to one big draw here.

WINNER – TIE

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

And another clear victory goes to the movie and this time it belongs in the technical aspects. The book is superbly written, but the film does everything a big screen, feature book adaptation should do – it ups the action, the emotion, the spectacle and the visuals to a very high level leading to a respectably cinematic adaptation fueled with great costumes, beautiful score and terrific cinematography.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 3: FILM 3

We have a tie here. The film is cinematic and much more emotional and a much bigger spectacle. The book, on the other hand, has a much better story and also characterization. And because those two aspects are much more important, I give a slight edge to the novel but it was very close which was unexpected and ultimately hugely commendable. Kenneth Branagh should be respected much more for what he achieved here.

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Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Flight of the Navigator Movie Review

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Flight of the Navigator Movie Review

Flight of the Navigator is a 1986 family science fiction film starring Joey Cramer. It surely is one of the better family sci-fi films out there.

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Correction, I need the SUPERIOR information

in your INFERIOR brain to fly this thing

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Flight of the Navigator Movie Review

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It follows a 12-year-old boy who gets abducted by aliens and ends up on Earth 8 years later. It is a very interesting, somewhat original tale which was very involving to watch and, thanks to its short runtime, quite entertaining and consistently well paced and even riveting.

It has some typical 80s trappings such as some goofy moments and humor, but it manages to be better than most of its family counterparts thanks in large part to the inclusion of science fiction elements. Sci-fi family films are rare and this one manages to be a pretty strong SF film in its own right and a particularly strong, wonderful film for children.

It only has a handful of memorable characters as it mostly relies just on David the protagonist. His family is sweet and I especially liked his brother and their relationship was strong and very realistic. Sarah Jessica Parker was just around 20 when filming this movie and it was very interesting seeing her so young in a role and she did a really nice job as charming Carolyn.

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Flight of the Navigator Movie Review

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David Freeman is a charming, likable kid. He should have been a bit better developed, but he is so endearing that I ended up caring and rooting for him. Joey Cramer’s performance is frequently weak, but he is definitely charismatic and likable in the role that he managed to overcome his lack of strong acting abilities.

Max is problematic and the only problem in the film. Now I admittedly really liked him at first, but I ended up being annoyed at the choice to have him upload David’s memories and thus he got some speech patterns and voices of humans. Those were way too goofy, overloud and annoying. Because the new voices were childish, their relationship, at first strong and moving, was later somewhat robbed of its impact. They are still a great duo, but I just wished that he retained that old robotic voice personally.

Flight of the Navigator has a bunch of memorable sequences such as every flight sequence which were all wondrous in quality and the ending is very sweet of course. I loved the aliens’ scene and they mostly looked really well. I could see that they were puppets, but the one he took to take care of was the highlight in terms of the design. The film is somewhat slower in first half and more dramatic with the latter half becoming full-on science fiction. I liked that quite a bit and that structure and pacing were excellent here.

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Flight of the Navigator Movie Review

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This charmer undoubtedly features some of the best special effects of any 80s film. Wow, does it look great. The creatures looked fine and cute, but the robot looks great and especially that spaceship looked amazing and how it flew and moved around was very realistic. This is early CGI and having in mind that it holds up so well even today definitely is remarkable. But it does open itself for future remakes which they are making as I am typing this. The score is incredibly beautiful as well and the film’s strong technical aspects really propel it to a classic status.

Flight of the Navigator is at times a bit too goofy, but mostly a remarkable family science fiction tale. Max and David are memorable characters, the flight sequences are wondrous in their quality and the ending is very sweet. Thanks to its imaginative plot, beautiful score and simply outstanding CGI (certainly some of the best of the 80s), this flick remains endearing and moving today just as it was back then.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Castaway (1931)

Image result for the castaway 1931 gifThe Castaway Review

The Castaway is a 1931 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such a weak entry.

It follows Mickey who is here ashore on an island. A piano also washes ashore and he plays on it with other animals in order to reduce boredom. Now the short has okay animation and I liked the animals here, but it is one of those typical musical shorts that relies entirely on song and dance numbers and thus feels like a 1929 entry much more so than a 1931 film.

And the plot just makes no sense whatsoever. The prospects of a piano washing ashore just when Mickey arrives on this island are slim to none and it wouldn’t work anyway. That was silly and the overall animal routines were also too cartoony. This is a short that should not have been a musical and it was forced to become one.

The Castaway is one of the weakest Mickey Mouse shorts so far with a senseless and forced musical storyline.

My Rating – 3.1

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The Man Who Planted Trees (1987)

The Man Who Planted Trees ReviewThe Man Who Planted Trees Review

The Man Who Planted Trees is a 1987 Canadian Oscar winning animated short film that is strong, but not great.

I like this film. I do not love it, but I like it. It has a moving story with a great environmental message. It is very emotionally resonant and highly beautiful in score and in animation. I absolutely adored its animation which is quite artistic in style and competent in execution. The biggest reason to see it lies in its wonderful style and of course in the beauty of nature and its message.

However, it is not a great movie because it is just way too long clocking in at thirty minutes and thus it can get tiresome and it is rarely truly involving despite its many strengths. And I also disliked the narration. The narrators did a good job, but I do not like the narration style overall and having in mind that it is a long movie and it was wholly narrated, that bothered me quite a bit.

The Man Who Planted Trees is artistic in its animation and moving in message and story, but overall overrated as it’s pretty boring and overlong with too much narration.

My Rating – 4

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Tol’able David (1921)

Tol'able David Movie Review

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Tol’able David Movie Review

Tol’able David is a 1921 silent drama film directed by Henry King and starring Richard Barthelmess. It is at times strong, but ultimately not great film.

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I’m tol’able…

Just tol’able

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Tol'able David Review

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It is a tale about a boy who is sick and tired of being called a boy and wants to prove himself as a man and he eventually does do that through revenge. Now let’s first state the positives and then I am going to go through the negatives. First off, the first half. It is excellent and certainly the highlight of the film.

It was just a very cozy, atmospheric and moody film at those points and I almost felt that I visited the countryside during the twenties. That is how atmospheric and full of detail the film is. It felt almost poetic in its quality.

That is mostly due to the technical aspects which are superb across the board. Richard Barthelmess did a good job in the main role and the others are memorable as well. The direction is also solid. But it is the cinematography that is the highlight and some scenes are highly memorable both in action and in scenery.

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Tol'able David Movie Review

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However, the second half ruined all of that for me. That is when the movie suddenly went into overly dark crime territory that did not suite this film particularly well. It just wasn’t executed in the most interesting or dramatic manner and I lost my interest especially in that third act.

The overall story is admittedly good for its time, but is now rather typical and archetypal, especially in the main character’s goal. It has its western and crime elements, but both were underutilized and it remains strongest as a period drama. So I did like it and I did find it to be charming, but quite flawed and disappointing in the end.

Tol’able David is especially strong in its first half as quite a charming, detailed and atmospheric countryside drama with excellent cinematography and some very memorable scenes, but the second half employed a typical crime angle and to me it was much less interesting overall.

My Rating – 3.5

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