Doctor Who Season 1 (1963)

Doctor Who Season 1 Review

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Doctor Who Season 1 Review

Doctor Who is a British science fiction show which is the longest running genre series in history. The first of the classic seasons is pretty good, but far from great.

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It all started out as a mild curiosity in the junkyard,

and now it’s turned out to be quite a great spirited adventure

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Doctor Who Season 1 Review

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So this first season came out in 1963 and it consists of 42 episodes, but only 33 can be watched as nine are unfortunately missing. The series works like this – it changes doctors and each doctor gets a couple of seasons and in those seasons you get serials. One serial contains one full story and consists of basically around four or six episodes mostly.

Let’s talk about the first serial – An Unearthly Child. Now this is one of the weakest serials here. The first episode itself is truly terrific and probably the season’s finest episode as it gives us the intrigue superbly and it introduces us to all four of its characters really well. It has a great mystery to it and is all around wonderfully effective. But unfortunately the rest of this season is spent in Stone Age and there you get a lot of wooden acting, ridiculous lines delivered and an all around unintentionally campy approach.

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Doctor Who Season 1 Review

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The Daleks is a serial that introduces us to the series’ most famous adversaries. I don’t know what to think about them. They are memorable and villainous, but overly robotic and annoying in that robot voice. I guess I have to forgive the show for some really weakly executed action and those voices because this is 1963 we’re talking about. Overall, this serial is solid. I liked its atmosphere and as the first truly sci-fi serial, it works pretty well.

The Edge of Destruction finds Ian and Susan having a slight case of amnesia and soon everybody starts behaving strangely. There are only two episodes in this serial and in my opinion they are flawed. The premise was excellent and the story is intriguing and pleasantly mysterious, but because the mystery is never properly decoded, it remains a missed opportunity.

Marco Polo is an unfortunate serial as all of its seven episodes are lost. The Keys of Marinus has a very interesting video game structure to it along with an incredibly well explored, fascinating planet. It has excellent imagery for sure. Definitely this show is theatrical in quality, but once you realize and forgive them for that given the time, you can actually really enjoy its stage-like sci-fi imagery. This story is interesting, but ultimately suffers for its too many detours and components that do not mash well into a satisfactory whole.

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Doctor Who Season 1 Review

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The Aztecs is a textbook example of an over-reliance of First Doctor’s stories on history which is done for better and for worse. Certainly the plot with human sacrifice and false goddess is overly familiar by now and the serial is too historical with no SF whatsoever, but it is actually a pretty good costume drama and period piece in its own right with well crafted drama, a great message and it is the best role yet for Barbara.

The Sensorites is the most sci-fi this season has to offer. Ultimately the second half was weaker and disappointing, but still those aliens are very memorable and interesting in their looks and although the action is silly here, the story is mostly well crafted and these creatures are interesting not just in looks but in grey area morals as well.

The Reign of Terror finds the foursome visiting 18th century France during the French Revolution and two episodes here are missing. Although the first episode was truly excellent and very intriguing, the rest of it was somewhat silly and ultimately boring in its overly repetitive structure of capture, escape and so on.

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Doctor Who Season 1 Review

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Let’s talk about the characters. Susan is very annoying and easily the worst member of the team. Actually, she is the only one I dislike here as she is entirely disposable and just a weak female character overall. Barbara is much better, much more complex and much more admirable of a female character.

Ian himself is overly heroic and stoic at times and he can be really annoying with his macho behavior, but he can also be really likable and his relationship with the Doctor is particularly strong and amusing. As for the First Doctor, he is pretty good. Interesting for not being a hero and overall well developed, but not the greatest or most memorable Doctor for sure. Carole Ann Ford is a weak actress; Jacqueline Hill and William Russell are pretty good, but not great and only William Hartnell excelled in the most important role.

In the end, this first season of Doctor Who is a pretty good one, but inherently flawed too. It has too many slow episodes, sometimes silly stories and a reliance on repetitive storytelling at times, but most of the episodes are pretty good, most of the serials are memorable and the best stories here have excellent atmosphere and imagery.

 

Best Serials: The Aztecs and The Sensorites.

Worst Serials: An Unearthly Child and The Reign of Terror.

Best Episodes: An Unearthly Child, Strangers in Space, The Unwilling Warriors and A Land of Fear.

Worst Episodes: The Forest of Fear, Firemaker, A Change of Identity and Prisoners of Conciergerie.

My Rating – 3.8

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Day for Night (1973)

Day for Night Review

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Day for Night Movie Review

Day for Night is a 1973 French drama film directed by Francois Truffaut. It is another overrated French movie.

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An actress who won’t appear in a bathing suit is ludicrous!

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Day for Night Movie Review

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Jesus, how many more French movies are over-praised up to this point. I am just baffled at the majority of the input from this country and why Hollywood loves it so much. I honestly have no idea and it annoys me.

Here we have another dull and ultimately pretty shallow movie which tries to give us the entire filmmaking process as it follows the making of the movie and everything that goes with it, but it is so concerned with the love affairs and relationships between its characters that it becomes a tired, boring telenovela that rarely has anything to do with the film business itself.

The actors did an okay job, but nobody really stands out. The same goes for its characters. There are too many of them and not enough stay in your mind. I do think that some stories here and some scenes were interesting and even had great conversations and interesting points to state, but most of them were not like that and I was ultimately bored.

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Day for Night Movie Review

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Day for Night is well filmed and overall well made, but overlong and another one of those French movies that are obsessed with too many details and not enough heart or genuine story at its core. Francois Truffaut made much better movies than this one and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film win was just thoroughly undeserved in this scenario.

Day for Night has a couple of interesting scenes, but most of the film was one giant, boring telenovela with too many forgettable characters and an over-reliance on soapy elements and not enough story. It is a very overrated film that did not deserve its Oscar at all.

My Rating – 3

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The Coo-Coo Nut Grove (1936)

The Coo-Coo Nut Grove ReviewThe Coo-Coo Nut Grove Review

The Coo-Coo Nut Grove is a 1936 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is such a fun celebrity parody.

Yes, this isn’t on par with Disney’s parodies such as ‘Who Killed Cock Robin?’ and ‘Mother Goose Goes Hollywood’, but it is still pretty good and it is quite funny and brutal at times. It isn’t hilarious and it relied too much on physical humor, but some gags are great and the animation and score are both pretty good with the character designs being particularly strong.

The highlights are of course Clarke Gable and Katharine Hepburn. His ears are made fun of and Hepburn is basically portrayed as a horse here owing to her accent I guess. Both are especially harsh and brutal, but still very funny and the gags did work. The movie is a lot of fun, very brisk, but not too fast and always exceptionally entertaining.

The Coo-Coo Nut Grove is not great, but it is a good celebrity parody flick with some great gags and nice animation.

My Rating – 4

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Baby Face (1933)

Baby Face Movie Review

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Baby Face Movie Review

Baby Face is a 1933 Pre-Code drama film starring Barbara Stanwyck. It is undoubtedly one of the finest and boldest Pre-Code movies.

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That’s what I’m telling you! Exploit yourself!

Go to some big city where you will find opportunities.

Use men! Be strong! Defiant! Use men! To get the things you want

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Baby Face Movie Review

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The film is about an attractive young blonde who uses sex to advance in life, most importantly financially. This is a very interesting movie with a fascinating subject matter. It strongly relies on Nietzsche’s saying that basically if you want to survive, you need to use other people before they get to use you. That was an interesting, if harsh message and I think that still applies to this very day which is why the film was surprisingly honest, especially for its time.

So the movie definitely ended up being incredibly feminist in portraying this powerful, cold-hearted woman who gets everything she wants and literally destroys every man she got in contact with. Now a fatal woman was a very typical concept for this period, not only in the forties with the femme fatale craze, but also in the early thirties with all the sex movies. But this one was different because it took that concept to the extreme ending in the movie that probably was the most responsible for bringing the Hays Code to Hollywood. That alone makes this one a curiosity and a historically important picture.

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Baby Face Movie Review

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But the word curiosity is a bad word for classic movies as it usually means that the film was interesting for its time, but not really powerful today and I do not deem this movie to be anything like that. Quite the contrary – the film was incredibly entertaining and very powerful to me and I honestly was surprised by its quality.

Lily Powers is as great and unforgettable of a heroine as you could possibly have in the early thirties, certainly one of the best. Barbara Stanwyck killed it in this role which is quite possibly her most complex out of all and probably her finest performance too. She plays a very interesting, complex character and I liked how she became cold and manipulative because of the circumstances of the time. That made that happy ending where she turned to the better a bit more palatable, even if it still somewhat came out of nowhere and the movie maybe would have been better with a darker finale.

Other actors did a good job, but they were basically just pray for her which is fine as the movie should have and did rely on her character alone for the most part and it worked tremendously in its favor. But I have to mention Chico who is a black female character and the movie handled her really well, the best they could during the period and I was glad for that. A really progressive film for sure.

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Baby Face Movie Review

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Baby Face has its problems. One is that ending, as I said above. But a bigger problem is its runtime. Again, the movie was typical for the early 30s in lasting for just about 75 minutes and thus it felt rushed at times and way too short. Honestly, that led to an extremely entertaining movie that flew by how fun and sweet it was, but still the pacing was too brisk.

But otherwise it is very well directed and also scored as that score was used sparingly, but correctly at just the right times and it was quite a lot of fun. The film features very good dialogue, some quotable lines and its sexual scenes were highly memorable, if tame for today’s audiences. But for me, they were just right.

Baby Face is too short, but thus incredibly entertaining and it flies by how immensely fun it is. This is a highly curious movie that probably was the one film most responsible for the bringing of the Hays Code to Hollywood owing to its very sexual and bold story, but it is a movie that is still powerful and engaging to this day with a very interesting story and message, a lot of highly memorable scenes and such a complex, fascinating female protagonist beautifully played by Barbara Stanwyck who probably gave her career best performance here.

My Rating – 4.5

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Little Beau Porky (1936)

Little Beau Porky ReviewLittle Beau Porky Review

Little Beau Porky is a 1936 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is a fun short.

Porky is again in the legion, this time in a fortress awaiting the arrival of Ali Mode. The entire cartoon is brisk in pace and definitely a lot of fun. I liked the camel scene quite a bit, Porky is definitely very good here and the third act with Ali and him fighting was the standout one. The voice acting is great, but the humor is also solid and I just loved that nod to ‘Three Little Pigs’ from Ali.

As for the animation, it is solid but honestly far from great as the character design of Ali is off-puttingly odd. Now Porky and the camel looked great, but others not so much. The score is also fitting in style to the film, but far from being actually memorable. But the flick is so entertaining that those technical aspects do not take away much from it.

Little Beau Porky is fun in story and characters, but weaker in animation and score.

My Rating – 3.7

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Pom Poko (1994)

Pom Poko Movie Review

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Pom Poko Movie Review

Pom Poko is a 1994 fantasy drama anime film from Studio Ghibli and directed by Isao Takahata. It is one of the weaker, but still underrated Ghibli films.

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They used their balls as weapons in a brave kamikaze attack

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Pom Poko Movie Review

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So this is basically another nature tale where environmentalism is the prevailing message. This time around we follow raccoon dogs who have the power to transform into anything and are forced to transform into humans and live in their society as their forests are getting destroyed. So they do try to hammer this message a bit too much and for some that would be a deal-breaker, but I didn’t mind it too much as it is a very important message and people and children should be aware of this problem.

This is a very interesting film in that it very much seemed like a live-action film. Let me explain. Its running time is two hours and the film is sprawling, ambitious and rich in themes and characters which are all rarely seen in animation. That was a two-edged sword however. It was admirable in ambition, but it was also probably too long and some scenes in its middle section felt either repetitive or even unnecessary. There were too many details and plot points in my opinion.

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Pom Poko Movie Review

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But the story in Pom Poko still worked and these raccoon dogs were very interesting as they have the power to transform and all those transformations were beautiful and interesting to watch. I loved how the humans were realistically portrayed in all their actions and yes – the ending killed me. It  affected me emotionally as it truly is a beautiful, poignant scene. Watching them live as humans and miss their forest home was devastating, but still that final scene where Shoukichi gathers with his companions was so touching and the fourth wall breaking finale was also devastating.

So Shoukichi is a memorable, likable protagonist, Oroku is a lot of fun and old Seizaemon is great. Now most of these characters are underutilized as you got too many of them, but still they all felt like a big family thanks to a lot of emotional connection, excellent interactions between them and fun humor. I loved their relationship with humans too. The voice acting is also pretty good per usual.

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Pom Poko Movie Review

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So let’s talk about the animation. Firstly, the character design. Let’s first address the elephant in the room – those giant balls. Yes, these animals have giant balls that in the movie they use to fight the humans in the end even. So yes, it felt weird, but if you are used to anime, you would not mind it like I did not. In fact, it was quite funny to me and it is the most memorable thing about the movie for better and for worse. Love it or hate it, it is bold and the overall character design is actually excellent as they have three forms and they shift from realistic to anthropomorphic to transformed so smoothly and all the forms are beautiful.

The overall animation is very competent and actually great. I loved the natural landscapes, but the city imagery was also very memorable. That scene where you witness the destruction of the hill for the placement of the city was truly heartbreaking. The animation here is so polished and so beautiful as a whole that it honestly doesn’t stay too much behind their more well known, earlier efforts. The parade sequence is particularly dazzling to witness.

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Pom Poko Movie Review

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Pom Poko also has a very strong score which accompanies those emotional scenes so well and I really liked it personally. The pacing is problematic, but the direction from Isao Takahata is very strong per usual as he is one of my favorite anime directors for sure. But I have to say that I really did not like the narration here.

The dialogue overall is excellent here and the movie is smart, but that narration kidified the movie a bit too much and it was just so unnecessary and extremely overwhelming as it took up a lot of the movie. But the humor is honestly quite solid and the film is charming and poignant enough that it overcame those many flaws and it is in my opinion quite underrated and possibly better than overrated ‘Porco Rosso’.

Pom Poko is a flawed, but solid and ultimately even underrated Ghibli film. Its narration truly is overwhelming, the film may be too weird for some in regards to the character design and it was too long and the middle section dragged a bit, but still this is a very moving, rich tale with a strong environmental message, likable characters, accomplished animation and such a poignant, truly touching third act.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Barnyard Battle (1929)

The Barnyard Battle ReviewThe Barnyard Battle Review

The Barnyard Battle is a 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is a memorable, but flawed entry.

First, I will talk about the negative aspects this time around. The film is somewhat less memorable in its second half and Pete should have been used better. I thought that the animation was solid as was the score, but the film was not really funny in its second half and in my opinion it did not utilize on the military premise all that well. The silent approach was also weird. You hear the sound, but still the film felt like a silent picture and 1929 was so obviously a transitional period for this series as well.

But let’s get to the good stuff. I liked the animation as I said and the score is a lot of fun and catchy. Mickey himself is very good here and you root for him as he gets to go through some really disturbing crap here. I am of course talking about that medical examination. LOL, it was absolutely hilarious while also being very edgy, especially for its time. It was a perfect mix of cartoony and violent and I really liked it.

The medical examination stole the show in The Barnyard Battle, a film which is otherwise not as memorable as a whole.

My Rating – 3.6

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Predator (1987)

Predator Movie Review

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Predator Movie Review

Predator is a 1987 science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is such a good, memorable action flick.

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You’re one ugly motherfucker!

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Predator Movie Review

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I loved that the film revolved around an Central American jungle as that was a very good, interesting setting for an action film. The plot is simple, but good. The men get taken down one by one by an extraterrestrial creature. Now the main reason why I really enjoyed the film lies in its structure. So it basically follows an action video game structure where you have a lot of the stealth elements, many fights and even with the full-on boss fight at the end. A very interesting choice that paid off significantly.

So let’s talk about the characters. They are the weakest part of Predator, I have to say. Very weak, underdeveloped and basically disposable. The protagonist is your typical Arnold Schwarzenegger macho guy and he is so underutilized and we do not learn anything about him. I liked how smart he is along with being physically strong, but still he was shallow even for the genre standards and I continue not being a fan of Arnold’s acting.

Carl Weathers is much better, but even his character is boring. Anna is memorable, but typical. I also liked Billy Sole and the film is interesting for being very diverse as it has two African Americans and even one Native American in its cast. Mac is the best of the bunch as a relatably scared member of the team and he got some really moving moments.

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Predator Movie Review

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But this is all about the Predator and he is the most unforgettable part of the film. I love this creature. Now the Xenomorph from ‘Alien’ is still much more original and even more formidable an opponent in my opinion, but Predator is interesting for being an extraterrestrial human and not an animal while also strongly relying on technology. His gadgets are a lot of fun and so well utilized, I liked his “ugly motherfucker” face and of course his vision is so great. All of the thermal sensor scenes were my favorites as they so effectively built up suspense.

Now Predator does have a less memorable first act, but the second and third ones are great. There is too much action here and not enough calmer moments, but still this is as great of an action film as they come as the action is exhilarating in quality and so perfectly executed almost in every scene.

The highlight is definitely the ending. It was a prolonged fight, but very well choreographed and very well thought out as the two tried to best each other with incredibly entertaining results. I loved how smart the protagonist’s tactics were, but still not too smart and the film ended really well. The action was also realistic as one Predator couldn’t have possibly killed all of these people and he did get hurt and eventually killed.

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Predator Movie Review

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The film is so well filmed and its jungle setting is a lot of fun and perfectly used for bigger suspense. I also thought that the film was mostly very lean and deft in direction and pacing. The score is also excellent, very effective and memorable. So I liked this movie much more upon my second viewing and it truly was a great start for the franchise and it gave us an unforgettable alien creature.

Predator has very weak and underutilized characters, but apart from that, it is actually as great of an action film as you can possibly get. The jungle setting is used to great effect, the score is memorable and the action sequences are so well thought out and all are a lot of fun and exhilarating in quality. Its action video game structure is interesting and the standout is of course the creature himself who is unforgettable and so well imagined with his look and his many gadgets and weapons.

My Rating – 4

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Don’t Look Now (1936)

Don't Look Now ReviewDon’t Look Now Review

Don’t Look Now is a 1936 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a solid flick.

So here Satan wants to ruin Valentine’s Day for romantic couples and it is up to Cupid to stop him. Now this is a solid premise. Familiar, but solid and it always leads to entertaining stories. This one is very well animated, but weakly scored. I liked the character designs of these two as they looked really good.

Now the film is fun, but not as fun as it should have been given the amusing premise. The voice acting is actually pretty good and there are some nice gags here, but not nearly enough and the film is ultimately forgettable which is a shame as it had all of the good ingredients to make it a classic.

Don’t Look Now has fun characters and premise, but an unfortunately weaker execution.

My Rating – 3.4

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Don’t Look Now (1973)

Don't Look Now Movie Review

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Don’t Look Now Movie Review

Don’t Look Now is a 1973 British horror film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie. It is such a strong, effective movie.

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This one who’s blind. She’s the one that can see

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Don't Look Now Movie Review

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It is about a grief-stricken couple who lose their child and go to Venice where the man begins to have visions of her and of his future. Having recently been to Venice, this movie was a really rewarding experience for me as it utilizes on the Venetian setting magnificently. Venice here is unlike any portrayal in any other film as it is creepy and filled with danger and ominous presence.

The movie features very strong drama about grief and it is an effective horror film. I disagree with the notion that it is a thriller because it has supernatural stuff, quick editing and a creepy twist that all belong to the horror genre. It could have been even scarier, but still the film features excellent atmosphere and a respectable final twist which is simply unforgettable. That entire final chase is so well filmed and it stole the show here.

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Don't Look Now Movie Review

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Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland are both superb in their roles. They gave excellent performances and in my opinion the relationship between the characters seemed honest and real and the troubles they go through are so well explored. I liked their conversations and the evident care for each other and I even did not mind their infamous sex scene. It may have been controversial in filming, but in the movie itself it is actually rather mild, at least in my opinion, and it serves its purpose at reestablishing the strength of their relationship.

Those two older women also serve the plot so well and are basically a plot device, but a strong one nonetheless with a couple of standout sequences. Of course the dwarf is unforgettable and very creepy and I really liked all of the supernatural scenes in the movie. The twist worked so well, it was well explained and in particular the scene where he sees his wife on the boat is the most unsettling and brilliantly crafted.

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Don't Look Now Movie Review

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So Don’t Look Now is excellent in its mystery and the ending explains it so well with a great use of quick editing. Sometimes the editing was too on-the-nose and there was too much cutting in the movie, but for the most part it did work well and the film did have that more urgent feel to it owing to that technique.

The use of the color red is familiar by this point and that point, but it was surprisingly effective and solidly used nonetheless. The cinematography is truly excellent and, as I said, Venice looks splendid. I loved seeing its different streets and canals explored here and they are put to great horror effect, especially the churches, the water and those smaller streets. Nicolas Roeg directed this movie magnificently and he is the man responsible for the overall competence of the film which is a further proof of how amazing 1973 was for horror with the likes of ‘The Wicker Man’ and ‘Leptirica’ as well.

Don’t Look Now utilizes its Venetian setting to amazing horror effect with wonderfully shot and superbly explored narrow streets and canals while also benefiting from an interesting editing technique and great ominous atmosphere. The performances from Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are excellent, the film is so well crafted across the board and its mystery is beautifully crafted and ending on a high note with such an effective, creepy twist.

My Rating – 4.5

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