The Circus (1928)

The Circus Movie Review………………………………………………………………

The Circus Movie Review

The Circus is a 1928 silent comedy film directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin. It is isn’t one of his best works, but it is still quite a good, expectedly endearing flick.

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Where’s the funny, man?

Bring on the funny, man

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The Circus Movie Review………………………………………………………………

The ringmaster of an impoverished circus hires Chaplin’s Tramp as a clown, but discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose. That is the plot here along with the romantic subplot in which Tramp falls in love with a girl who eventually chooses another man. Now the plot is minimal here and that is why the film is much weaker than Chaplin’s greatest works. There isn’t anything sophisticated here, not a message nor an abundance of themes. It is just a solid plot which is fine and actually quite charming at times, but I still expected more from it.

The characters are pretty good and the Tramp is as great and as lovable as usual. I loved the romantic subplot which was quite endearing and so well done. And I of course respect Chaplin’s talents as he not only directed and acted in this movie, but he produced it, wrote it and even composed it, adding afterwards an opening song in the beginning. He truly was one very hard working and talented individual and it is great that the movie ended up being good in the end despite its by now famous problems during production such as the studio fire and him being sued by his former wife for sexual harassment.

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The Circus Movie Review

 

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The Big Parade (1925)

The Big Parade Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

The Big Parade Movie Review

The Big Parade is a 1925 World War I film directed by King Vidor and starring John Gilbert. It is a very good, respectable silent film.

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I don’t understand a word you say…

but I know what you mean.

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The Big Parade Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

The film is about an idle rich boy who joins the US Army’s Rainbow Division and is sent to France to fight in World War I. He becomes a friend of two working class men, experiences the horrors of trench warfare and falls in love with a French girl despite the two not speaking the same language. The plot is quite strong and I of course always respect a war film that is strongly anti-war in its sensibilities and message.

I loved its romantic as well as comedic elements, but I have to say that the film felt weakly structured and too much different in styles and tones. It starts off comedic then goes romantic than dramatic and then action-oriented with war elements. The action sequences are stellar, but not as involving as these other elements are.

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The Big Parade Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

The highlight is the romance. The character development could have been stronger, but the acting is quite strong with John Gilbert being superb and Renee Adoree being quite endearing. The two are so charming together, so wonderful that they perfectly lift those scenes to even greater heights as they were already beautifully conceived. The scene in which they sit together and laugh warmed my heart and I loved it so much.

The Big Parade is of course well directed by King Vidor and he is naturally such a great director, but I found the film to be a bit too long and not as engaging as it needed to have been. It wasn’t boring, but just not as involving as I hoped. The editing is fine, but I would have cut off some scenes as they weren’t necessary to the overall picture.

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The Big Parade Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

I just loved the visuals in the film. It was beautifully shot with terrific camera movements and absolutely gorgeous scenery at times. I loved the imagery of war and of course parades and various large groups of soldiers. Those were terrific. But once again, those more intimate, rustic sequences were the standout ones, so charming, wonderful and heartwarming and so well shot and constructed. The use of intertitles is also very strong and they use just the right amount of dialogue. The score in the version I’ve seen was great, but again the visuals were the highlights, so polished and crisp. It made the experience much more enjoyable. The film is overall flawed, yet very good with a timeless quality to it as it aged remarkably well. It needs to be seen by everyone being one of the better films about the much less popular of the two World Wars.

The Big Parade is overlong, not entirely involving and sometimes not as well constructed, but it is a very good anti-war film with excellent action sequences, beautiful cinematography with some wonderful imagery and excellent direction and acting. But the highlights were those romantic scenes which were heartwarming, funny and immensely charming.

My Rating – 4

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Häxan (1922)

Häxan Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Häxan Movie Review

Häxan is a 1922 Swedish/Danish documentary horror silent film directed by Benjamin Christensen. It is a pretty good, intriguing experiment.

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Poor little hysterical witch!

In the middle ages you were in conflict with the church.

Now it is with the law

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Häxan Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

It is  a study of how superstition and the misunderstanding of diseases and mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. Because I have always been interested in this particular subject matter, I found this movie to be quite fascinating at times. That is not to say that it is without its problems and there are many on which I will elaborate later, but the film is mostly a successful and definitely admirable experiment as rarely have I seen a film quite like this one.

It is a mix of documentary and horror which is, needless to say, quite authentic and interesting. I loved its distinctive visual style and how well thought out it is. It explains you almost everything you need to know about witch-hunts and the second half in particular is quite engaging.

But the problem with Häxan lies in its first half. Yes, the documentary approach here isn’t the greatest. And even though the mix of fiction and documentary is interesting, it definitely felt odd at times and tonally weird. Those passages where they explain this subject were overlong and filled with too many intertitles and not enough images. Some of the imagery was quite striking, but I still would have preferred to have seen real footage or fictionalized footage that is.

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Häxan Movie Review……………………………………………………………….

Häxan is exceptionally well made and crafted. The problem is that it is just never as entertaining as I hoped it would have been given its fascinating subject matter and it disappointed me a little overall, but the direction from Benjamin Christensen is excellent and some scenes are just so memorable. And the special effects are simply outstanding and so revolutionary for its time period. In the end, even though it isn’t the best that foreign cinema of the twenties has to offer, it is still so intriguing and different that I admired it a lot.

Häxan definitely is tonally odd, it isn’t as engaging as it could have been and the mix of documentary and horror is weird, but that mix is still authentic and very interesting, some of the imagery here is quite striking, it deals with its interesting subject matter really well and it is mostly exceptionally well made and visually magnificent. It has its flaws, but it is certainly one of the most unique silent films.

My Rating – 4

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Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Metropolis Movie Review

Metropolis is a 1927 classic science fiction film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Brigitte Helm and Gustav Frohlich. It is one of the finest silent movies.

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The mediator between head and hands must be the heart

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

It is set in a futuristic urban dystopia and it follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a poor worker, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. To me the storytelling is one of the strongest points of an all around excellent film. The plot is, needless to say, so influential and incredibly original, very impressive. But the film is so well crafted and executed, that story is thankfully utilized properly and its themes of clash between classes, artificial intelligence and the reliance on machines are all really well explored.

The characters are pretty good. Freder is a classic main character done mostly right, Maria is very likable and the robot is of course so memorable and iconic by now. Joh Fredersen is fantastic as Freder’s father and I found him to be the most moving and interesting person here. The mad scientist Rotwang is typical for this genre, but again highly memorable and the film is great for basically inventing all of these sci-fi archetypes in the first place, almost all of which staples today. Grot is funny and sympathetic, Josaphat of course is so tragic and you root for him and as for the Thin Man, he wasn’t particularly well utilized or present actually, but he was still memorable in his menacing appearance.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

The acting in Metropolis is very interesting. On the one hand, you’ve got some actors that are typically overacting, but on the other hand, you have Alfred Abel who is so natural and subtle in the role of Joh Fredersen that he alone contributed a lot to my sympathy for this particular character. Rudolf Klein-Rogge is very over-the-top in his role, but this is a mad scientist role which demands such an approach and that is why it isn’t annoying, but rather fitting. The same goes for Brigitte Helm who actually did a rather admirable job in the dual role of both Maria and the robot. She is the highlight in the latter role as her overly emphasized manners and menacing looks made the character unforgettable. The only weak link is definitely Gustav Frohlich who is so over-the-top in his acting that is was too much even for its time period and it is also not fitting for the role which should have been more subtle.

Metropolis is a visual feast. I will now touch upon some of the great technical aspects presented here and there are quite a lot. Actually, this movie is so groundbreaking in its style and effects that it might even be underrated in that respect. The effects are breathtaking. This is without a doubt the best looking silent film of all time. The highlights are of course the robot who looks so real and so revolutionary and the city. Those panorama sequences were to me the most astonishing scenes of the movie as rarely have I seen anything of that caliber. The various vehicles looked so futuristic and intriguing, the buildings are marvelous and the entire city with all of its machines is beautifully brought to life and it leads to such an unforgettable viewing experience.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Metropolis has to be the quintessential German expression picture as its cinematography is top-notch and its imagery is so atmospheric. The entire movie has that very great atmosphere, sometimes scientific, sometimes even creepy (the scene with Maria fleeing from Rotwang is just such a spectacular horror sequence perfectly executed and shot). But those striking looking buildings led to such an artistic feel to the film and I truly would call the movie art. The camera movements are exceptional as sometimes you get that great wide view at the city, but at other times you get effective close-ups and even some very intriguing first-person action shots.

So the writing is top-notch, the characterization is very good, the performances are memorable and the technical aspects are all gorgeous. Then why do I not give it a perfect rating even upon my second viewing? Well, the answer lies in the only flaw that Metropolis possesses, but it’s a very big flaw, and that is its third act. This film is one of the most entertaining films I have ever seen as the entire first half is riveting to behold. However, it could get a bit dull in its conclusion as the action is just overwhelming.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Metropolis is a blockbuster for better and for worse. You get the spectacle, you get the epic nature of it all and you get great entertainment. But you also get the bad side of the formula meaning the action. The entire third act lasts for about half an hour and it should have definitely been trimmed to around fifteen minutes. The flood is initially fascinating, but quickly becomes wearisome as it is so prolonged. Those chases lasted for too long and I know that people usually love the spectacle and action the most, but I’ve always liked that less in favor of the story. As for the romance, it isn’t as problematic as I thought of it at first, but it did feel a bit rushed and conventional nonetheless.

The pacing is, not counting the conclusion, excellent and the film is so involving to watch. It is easily the most entertaining silent film I’ve seen. But it isn’t the best silent film and its status is a bit overrated in that point. It is a great movie, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t a perfect movie and I can think of at least seven other silent films that are better than this one.

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Metropolis Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

But the film is mostly admirable and what Fritz Lang did here is beyond impressive. The score in the version I’ve seen was excellent and it fitted the action on screen beautifully, the intertitles are sometimes too rarely used, but are mostly well utilized and very artistic in style. The best scenes are the beginning with that very memorable garden, the very ending was sweet, the creation sequence is stunning and the horror chase scene is marvelous and so atmospheric. It is a glorious achievement and one of the best silent as well as science fiction as well as German films ever made.

Metropolis is a blockbuster for better and for worse meaning that it is grand and epic in scope and visually marvelous, but it has overwhelming action near the end and that is the only flaw the movie has. It is otherwise a spectacular achievement with groundbreaking special effects, some marvelous camera movements and great shots, gorgeous and highly imaginative and memorable imagery, very original and influential storyline, likable characters and mostly good performances. It is a quintessential German expressionist picture and one of the finest silent as well as science fiction films of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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He Who Gets Slapped (1924)

He Who Gets Slapped Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

He Who Gets Slapped Movie Review

He Who Gets Slapped is a 1924 silent drama film starring Lon Chaney, Norma Shearer and John Gilbert and directed by Victor Sjostrom. It is a somewhat disappointing film.

It is about a man who gets tricked by his friends who take credit for his scientific breakthrough leaving him to go and become a clown. The reason why I found the film very disappointing is its use of romance. It is not only fairly typical and way too melodramatic (even for its age), but also mostly unnecessary and it definitely ruined what could have been a great drama film instead.

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What is it in human nature that makes people quick to laugh

when someone else gets slapped – whether the slap be spiritual,

mental or physical?

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He Who Gets Slapped Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

But those other elements I really liked. I loved the beginning, it was brutal and highly tragic. And the ending is exactly like that too. I loved when the film focused on the main character and although its themes were a bit too on the nose, I still really liked them. It wonderfully showcases the humans’ tendency to be amused and laugh at other people’s misfortune. That was a very hard-hitting and brutal, yet real and important point to be made. It is a problem that remains to this day.

As for its characters, I found both Bezano and Consuelo to be rather dull and whenever the movie revolved around these two, it definitely suffered. The protagonist, on the other hand, is phenomenal and he is the best thing about this movie. John Gilbert and Norma Shearer are superb actors of course, but they aren’t particularly memorable here whereas Lon Chaney is as great as ever and watching him suffer was heartbreaking, but also great as it showcased his enormous acting talent. He is the best at playing emotion, especially fragility and heartbreak, and here in the most brutal sequences you can easily see how amazing he was.

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He Who Gets Slapped Movie Review…………………………………………………………………..

He Who Gets Slapped was directed by Victor Sjostrom and it is nowhere near the quality of his greatest works, but it still gives us his signature creepy atmosphere and truly some moments here were quite menacing, especially creepy for a drama film. The pacing is also mostly good, but the film unfortunately just wasn’t that involving to me. The first and third act were engaging, but the second one was way too meandering in its structure and storytelling. The tone is fittingly serious and mature and the cinematography is quite good. The emotion is evident and well conveyed, but the dialogue was too simplistic and on the nose. It is in the end a film that disappointed me quite a bit.

He Who Gets Slapped is disappointing in its supporting characters and a meandering second act, but the protagonist is excellent and so well played by terrific Lon Chaney, the dialogue is too on the nose, but the themes are important and interesting and some scenes are quite moving and heartbreaking.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Unknown (1927)

The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

The Unknown Movie Review

The Unknown is a 1927 horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Lon Chaney and Joan Crawford. It is such a great, truly a one of a kind movie.

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 You are a riddle, Nanon. You shrink from me…
yet you kiss my flowers when I am gone
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The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
It is about a serial killer who pretends to have no arms, but eventually decides to actually amputate them in order to be with a girl who is afraid of men’s hands. But the girl falls in love with another man and gets over her fear and you have that giant irony at the end. Yes, it is just unbelievable when you read this premise and realize that there is a movie with this exact plot, made during the silent era no less. And I just want to take a moment here and say how awesome the sheer existence of this movie is. And the fact that the movie stays away from those gruesome moments and never shows them on screen is even more commendable.
 The Unknown is fifty minutes long and although that is certainly very short, it still meant that it was consistently involving and truly it is one of the most purely entertaining silent films I’ve seen. The beginning is a bit rushed, but the pacing throughout is mostly deft and this is one of the examples of how a very short movie can be extremely satisfying and that not all stories need a regular running time.
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The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..

 Alonzo is such a memorable, very effective character. What I liked about his characterization is the fact that he is never made fully a villain and although despicable, you feel sympathy for him in the end as he was going through some extreme, awful situations. As for Malabar and Nanon, they aren’t the most memorable characters, but their relationship is well developed. As for the acting, both Norman Kerry and Joan Crawford are very good in their roles, but it is Lon Chaney who steals the show with probably his finest performance. He is so believable and gave the performance with just the right amount of theatricality and heart. His emotional scene where he breaks in laughter is easily the most powerful sequence in the film and a perfect showcase of his enormous acting talent.

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The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
 The Unknown is so well edited and superbly directed by Tod Browning and this film is definitely one of his finest. It is also well filmed and I really liked how they filmed Chaney without hands as well as the whole circus setting that is greatly utilized. The use of intertitles is also fantastic and never excessive or too short.
 
The Unknown also has a solid dialogue and a great irony in it. It is without a doubt one of the most original films of its era and even of all time as there really isn’t anything quite like it. My jaw dropped more than a couple of times at the sheer craziness of the script and although it may sound too convenient and crazy, the execution is so good that it never felt excessive in its madness. The emotion is there and some scenes are heartbreaking. The meticulous detail went into this production not only in technical aspects, but also in terms of storytelling as the plot is so well crafted, extremely memorable and consistently rewarding.

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The Unknown Movie Review………………………………………………………………..
It succeeds as a horror movie because it is just so unnerving, but it also succeeds as a drama film because it has good characterization, acting and evident emotion. It is melodramatic, but satisfyingly so and never too sappy. Some of the highlights in terms of the scenes are the laughing scene which is just so perfectly constructed from beginning to end and powerfully acted by Lon Chaney, the end scene is also phenomenal and so intense, the murder sequence is so memorable as is the hospital one and every scene with Chaney/Alonzo is great as the character and actor steal this movie entirely. It isn’t a perfect movie as it is a bit too short, sometimes rushed and Nanon’s fear of men’s hands isn’t best explained, but overall, it is one of the best films of an extraordinary year and one of the most unforgettable pictures of the twenties.

 The Unknown is a bit too short and rushed, but ultimately rewarding in its crazy, authentic and jaw-dropping story and so well acted with Lon Chaney giving a truly powerful performance. It is a film that is consistently entertaining, but also truly unnerving at times, moving in its irony and so well constructed from beginning to end. It is one of the most original films ever created and one of the most purely entertaining films of the period.

My Rating – 4.5

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Applause (1929)

Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Applause Movie Review

Applause is a 1929 musical talkie film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Helen Morgan and Joan Peers. It is such an interesting, really well crafted movie.

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I’m not goin’ to get married unless I’m gonna be the boss

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The plot itself is a pretty standard fare and quite familiar. You have a woman who is a burlesque star, but had sent her daughter to live in the convent many years ago. Now, the girl comes to the city and you get the conflict in that she doesn’t want to work with her mother and wants to go live with her newly acquainted boyfriend. Yes, that all seems to melodramatic and too typical. However, I still really liked the plot in Applause because it is very well told and at times so moving and dramatic. It is also really heartbreaking in the end, but more on that later.

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Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

The characters are mostly archetypes here, but those archetypes usually work when done right and this is no exception. The character development is truly good here with Kitty Darling being such a likable, tragic figure for whom you really feel sorry. Her devotion and care for her daughter is evident and so heartwarming. As for April, she annoyed me in some scenes, but she is mostly a realistic and likable character as well. The same goes for Tony who is a typical, impossibly perfect male love interest, but he is so good-natured and so sweet that you can’t help but love him. The relationship between the two is absolutely fantastic and the movie is so romantic. As for Hitch, I have to say that he is my least favorite character in this picture. He is just such a typical mean character who never has anything that distinguishes him from others of his type.

Applause is a very weird movie, mostly due to its ending. It ends on such a tragic note that seemed too harsh to me. Yes, this is a melodrama, but that incredibly brutal conclusion still seemed too unhappy. But I still give kudos to the filmmakers for being brave enough to end it on such a brutal note and the ending is overall really well executed and it wraps up the film wonderfully.

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Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

The film is the finest when being a romance because its romantic scenes are just so lovable and just beautiful to behold. I loved how they were shot, but also acted and the lines of the dialogue, though typical, are moving and they brought a smile to my face. I absolutely loved those sequences and I enjoyed them the most here.

Yes, Applause is such a weird mix of romance, melodrama and musical. And it does succeed as it uses all of those elements in a great fashion and to its fullest advantage. The songs here are okay, but nothing spectacular and the film should have had more dance and musical scenes in it. But those that were present are good and well utilized. The melodramatic elements are also pretty good and despite being too brutal at times, the film manages to be not only dramatic, but also really emotional at times. And as I said before, its romantic elements are the finest as the film is so charming in tone.

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Applause Movie Review………………………………………………………………………

Applause succeeds as an early sound film for various reasons. It is one of the rare early talkies that is actually well executed and not amateurish in its realization. The directing from Rouben Mamoulian is really fantastic and the acting is also pretty good with Helen Morgan being particularly good in her role. The cinematography and its camera movements are in my opinion still not as good as they would become later on, but for the time being, they are excellent and the movie is truly groundbreaking because of that. There were many scenes here where the camera moves freely and it gives us some really intriguing shots that I really admired its ambition. And the sound quality is phenomenal and so revolutionary.  The film is also original in its execution, if familiar in its substance. It is also really well paced and always involving to watch, but the running time is arguably too short and the first third drags a bit. But it is such a memorable film that I will remember with fondness for sure, it has a big heart and it has many great sequences with the romantic ones being the highlights.

Applause is familiar in its plot and characters and its ending is admittedly ridiculously harsh, but this is still such a good early sound film with some excellent, really groundbreaking camera movements and sound quality at display here and it is an excellent mix of musical, melodrama and romance with many dramatic and heartbreaking scenes, but also having many truly wonderful, romantic sequences that are so charming. It is a weird, but memorable early talkie.

My Rating – 4

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Faust (1926)

Faust Movie Review

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Faust Movie Review

Faust is a 1926 German fantasy film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Gosta Ekman and Emil Jannings. It is an uneven, but strong silent film with its fair share of powerful scenes.

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All things in heaven and on earth are wonderful!

But the greatest miracle of all is man’s freedom to choose between good and evil!

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This is a classic story and I really enjoyed it here. I loved how entertaining and mostly very involving the film is, but I also loved its strong dramatic side. It starts and ends on such a strong note and there were many really spectacular fantasy sequences to be had here including demons, hell, flying scenes and so many more. However, Faust is incredibly uneven. Its beginning is great, but definitely a bit rushed and its entire second half is very different tonally than the first one. Also, there were a couple of sequences that seemed repetitive to me. The film is mostly strong, but it still felt too uneven.

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Faust Movie Review

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I liked the characters a lot. Mephisto is such a memorable creation and Faust is of course such a well developed main character. Gretchen is also good, but unfortunately most of the others are pretty forgettable when compared to the main characters. In terms of acting, Faust is quite good with Gosta Ekman being solid and Emil Jannings being well cast for the role. But once again I have to admit that I am not a fan of Jannings’ acting because he is too theatrical for my taste. Here that fitted the character, but he was still too goofy in some sequences.

The technical aspects are the strongest in Faust, a movie that is just spectacular in terms of the visuals. F. W. Murnau directed it wonderfully as he is such a fantastic director, but the cinematography is just terrific with some of the imagery here being amazing. I loved the action sequences and I absolutely loved the flying scene as well as every fantasy scene here as the costumes are certainly phenomenal and the effects are magnificent. This movie has some of the best special effects of the silent era and it is just admirable how they managed to create this world almost a century ago.

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Faust Movie Review

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The world building is so strong, but the problem here is that the second half becomes too enamored with its love/infatuation themes and relationships between the characters instead of focusing on the fantasy elements as the first one did. That really disappointed me as it was truly epic in scope before, but suddenly became much smaller and much less ambitious. But that ending is still fantastic and such a strong and memorable way to finish the movie.

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Faust Movie Review

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The dialogue is quite good and I found the use of intertitles to be great as they were never too much in the way of the story, but still explained everything properly. The romance scenes aren’t as good as the action ones, but the fantasy ones are the finest which is why Faust succeeds in spades as a fantasy flick. The score in the version that I’ve seen was very good and very fitting to the action on screen. The pacing is okay, but could have been better nonetheless. And in terms of originality, this is one of the most unique and different films of the period and of any period actually as it truly is a one of a kind experience. Faust isn’t great, but it is still such a good, memorable early fantasy movie.

Faust is very uneven with an inferior second half, not that great acting and forgettable supporting characters, but it is still such a strong, memorable and very unique silent fantasy film filled with amazing imagery, great direction from Murnau, some very dramatic and powerful sequences, an involving plot and some of the best special effects of the period.

My Rating – 4

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Blackmail (1929)

Blackmail Movie Review

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Blackmail Movie Review

Blackmail is a 1929 thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Anny Ondra , John Longden and Cyril Ritchard. It is a solid, but very troublesome movie.

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Detectives in glass houses shouldn’t wave clues

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It follows a London woman who is blackmailed after killing a man who tries to rape her. The plot itself is quite good for the most part, but at times very problematic as well. The entire first half is really good. The murder should have happened a bit before, but the build up was well realized and it was a very well crafted half. But the second one was disappointing. I really liked the introduction of Tracy and that blackmailing part was really intense and interesting, but the third act is so ridiculous. It just ended in such a rushed and very unsatisfying manner with Alice not confessing the crime in the end. Very disappointing.

The characters are also problematic. I liked Tracy quite a bit as he was such a great presence and his mannerisms were fun. Frank is also quite good. But Alice is not as she is such an idiotic woman. She murdered in self defense and instead of confessing that to the police, she chose to hide. Also, she still ended up not confessing it at the end. And her role in the scenes with Tracy is so passive as Frank is literally the only one who handled the situation. She is such a stupid, ridiculous woman.

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Blackmail Movie Review

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Blackmail succeeds as a thriller because it does have its intense moments. I absolutely loved the murder itself as it was well realized and those later action sequences were also quite thrilling and visually pleasing. Hitchcock directed this movie wonderfully and this is another strong proof of how great a director he is when even his first films had that masterful style to them.

Blackmail was filmed in a transitioning period for film and therefore it has two versions – silent and sound. I watched the sound one and I have to say that I wasn’t a big fan of it. The sound is quite poor and the choice to film only some scenes in sound did not pay off for me, apart from that silent beginning which is awesome and which features such a fan cameo from the director. But the biggest offender here is Anny Ondra. She was deemed unsuitable for the role because of her thick accent so all of her dialogue was dubbed by another actress leading to such an awkward performance that bothered me a lot. But at least Cyril Ritchard and John Longden gave respectable performances themselves.

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Blackmail Movie Review………………………………………………………………………………….

Blackmail is visually such a strong movie. I loved some of the choices in its camera movements and I found its cinematography to be really good. The film looks splendid as is always the case for Hitchcock films. The tone is also good, pleasantly serious and mildly intense. And despite some of those really unfortunate choices in its second half, the script is still solid and it led to some very intriguing moments. The highlights for me were the entire attempted rape/murder sequence and all of the scenes with Tracy as he is such a memorable, really charismatic presence. The film is very well paced and lasts for just the right amount of running time. It is very entertaining to watch and its score is quite solid and accompanies its atmosphere wonderfully. Overall, Blackmail is a very flawed movie which is unfortunate as it could have been great, but it is still a solid and respectable early Hitchcock movie. And even though ‘The Lodger‘ is a much better movie, this one is still worth a watch.

Blackmail is a solid, but incredibly flawed movie. The cinematography is splendid as is its score, the movie looks really good and is quite atmospheric, its first half is really well crafted and some scenes are so memorable, but the second half is disappointing with a very problematic ending, the dubbing of Anny Ondra’s voice led to an awkward performance and her character is a very idiotic one. It is an entertaining and solid film, but unfortunately plagued by those annoying problems.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Last Laugh (1924)

The Last Laugh Movie Review

The Last Laugh Movie Review

The Last Laugh is a 1924 German drama film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Emil Jannings. The movie is critically acclaimed, but is to me quite disappointing.

It is about a doorman who gets demoted to washroom attendant and hides that from everyone until they find out and ridicule him. Now, the plot itself is good and of course important and emotional. But what is problematic here is the execution of said plot which is very weak. The film is awfully simplistic in that it consists of just that storyline and barely anything else in it. And just that plot wasn’t enough, even for its short running time of less than an hour and a half. What happened is that the movie is awfully prolonged (with the beginning in particular being so drawn out) that it becomes boring instead of engaging,

The main character is well realized and I liked him quite a bit. But Emil Jannings was to me not as great as everyone says he is. He has some great moments here and there, but he also overacted way too much in certain scenes and I was frustrated with that. He is solid, but far from great.

The directing from F. W. Murnau is naturally terrific and The Last Laugh compensates its plot shortcomings with such fantastic technical aspects to it. The film is beautiful to behold with the cinematography of course being the major standout. The film is so well shot with some excellent camera choices and some really inventive movements that it really does look amazing. There are some truly groundbreaking camera movements in here and the cinematography helps create the tension a lot.

The score is solid as is the tone, but the pacing is too slow and the film has such an abrupt, cop-out happy ending that is just stupid to witness. This is the kind of story that should have ended sadly, but they chose to abruptly end it on a positive note, thus ruining the end product. But it still is very emotional with some scenes being quite poignant and the film deals with an important subject matter for its time.

The choice of the lack of intertitles in The Last Laugh is done for better and for worse. On the one hand, it is professional and it makes you observe more the facial expressions and all the subtleties, but it is still problematic as there should have been some of it to improve the storyline and more importantly, to strengthen the character development. I get what the director was going for here and I can understand that, but I still think that the film would have benefited from some dialogue intertitles and not just a couple of letters etc.

As for its set design, it is great and the film is visually incredibly appealing as are all of the German classics from the 1920s. I respect this film, but I just wish that it was more impactful and better crafter storywise. Its technicalities are just awesome, but the characters and the story around it should have been much better and the film would have been great. But like this, it ended up being just solid and a major disappointment to me as I expected a lot more from it.

The Last Laugh is a disappointing movie. On the technical side, the film is gorgeous with just fantastic cinematography with some great camera movements and with a visually appealing look to it, but the film lacks in character work and plotwise with a very abrupt cop-out happy ending and I do think that the use of more intertitles would have strengthened both of those aspects. It is in the end a solid film, but far from what I expected from it.

My Rating – 3.5

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