The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

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The Man Who Knew Too Much Movie Review

The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1956 thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring James Stewart and Doris Day. It is one of the director’s weakest films.

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A man… a statesman…

is to be killed… assassinated in London.

Soon… very soon.

Tell them in London…

tell them to try Ambrose Chapel…

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The Man Who Knew Too Much Movie Review

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Yes, I have to be honest and state that this film disappointed me tremendously. It is so well regarded nowadays but is actually rather weak in my opinion. It is along the line of ‘Foreign Correspondent’ when it comes to my ranking of his films – a movie from which I expected much bigger things but it ended up being a major letdown.

The Man Who Knew Too Much is basically a remake of the 1934 eponymous film. And there lies the biggest problem – the film is just never as good as the original is and the original itself is flawed and only solid. But this one takes everything from the original and does it in a much less interesting and, needless to say, much less suspenseful manner making the end product surprisingly stale for Hitchcock’s standards.

James Stewart gave such a strong performance as he usually does being possibly the greatest actor who ever lived. Critics pinpoint his confused character as being different and interesting for Stewart to play and I agree. He really delivered a terrific performance here in the main role.

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The Man Who Knew Too Much Movie Review

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As for Doris Day, she is also quite memorable and immensely likable as she always is. I really enjoyed both her singing and her acting here. So these two deliver for sure as they are almost always reliable actors, but unfortunately the others aren’t as memorable in both acting and characterization with the villains being disappointing.

Let’s talk about the technical aspects and then I’ll touch upon the music.. There is no denying that The Man Who Knew Too Much is more polished and less crude than its predecessor. However, it is way too long and basically just an extended version of a previous film. The problem here is that the story did not need all this extended runtime leading to a very dull, prolonged movie with many overly slow, unnecessary scenes.

Of course I really liked its cinematography and the fact that we got to visit Morocco is great and those scenes are definitely well shot and intriguing, but then again making a film boring and too much lake a travelogue. Hitchcock’s direction is surprisingly weak this time around.

So the film is famous for introducing Que Sera, Sera to the audiences and I have to say that this song is one of my all-time favorites. I consider it to be one of the best songs of all time as it is such a sweet, beautifully written and simply wonderful number which melts my heart every time I hear it.

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The Man Who Knew Too Much Movie Review

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However, in the movie itself the song is rather misplaced. I liked the first rendition of it in the first scene, but then at the end it doesn’t really correspond well to the action on screen. It serves its purpose when it comes to reuniting the kid with his parents, but thematically speaking the song doesn’t belong in that scene at all which was odd and very disappointing to witness.

The Man Who Knew Too Much introduced the world to Que Sera, Sera which is in my opinion one of the best songs of all time. However, the song is pretty much misplaced and doesn’t belong in this film which was odd to witness. The movie is very well shot and competently acted by Doris Day and James Stewart, but a major disappointment nonetheless owing to a prolonged runtime, many slow and unnecessary scenes and a lack of strong tension leading to one of the most overrated and weakest Hitchcock films which is basically an unnecessary remake of a superior 1934 original.

My Rating – 3

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

Sleeping Beauty is a 1959 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 16th feature film and certainly one of their very best. It’s such a classic.

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Now,  father, you’re living in the past.

This is the 14th century!

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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This fairy tale is actually incredibly dark and thus the movie is also pretty dark, but much milder than the original tale and thankfully so. It is an updated, modernized and frankly much better version of the story. Again Disney made the ultimate film from this story and thus made it their own.

It was a risky, somewhat odd fairy tale to film and thus I hugely appreciate the filmmakers for managing to craft it so well and make a coherent feature film out of it. For a film where most of the characters spend sleeping, it is rather involving and intriguing to watch and that sleeping, dreamlike state is beautifully conveyed thanks to an awesome atmosphere, wonderful score and stellar animation but more on those later.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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The film is definitely childlike in its first half, especially with the fairies, but is very dark, atmospheric and mature in its second half and I loved that shift in tone and it was very well handled. Both halves are excellent and both achieved what they set out to do.

As for the characters, many argue that Aurora is a weak character, but as a princess who is only in a movie for just about 18 minutes, I honestly can’t blame her and I think that she is actually pretty well developed for little screen time that she received. She is beautiful, wonderfully animated and, for such a short time she is in the film, you manage to see why everybody would love her so much. I do realize why nowadays feminists criticize her and yes, she did fall in love with a man she did not know. However, she clearly objected to being betrothed and that progressive side of her should not be forgotten.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Aurora is more of a plot device than an actual character and there is nothing wrong with that and that choice paid off and worked really well for the film. But when you really think about it, the fairies are the protagonists of this film. They are the ultimate Disney fairies and some of the best sidekicks of all time.

They transcend the role of the sidekick stupendously as they not only help Aurora, but also Phillip and basically save the whole kingdom. Plus all three are strong, so well developed, unique characters and I loved the emphasis on them as they are so charming. Fauna is so sweet and of course the fight between Merryweather and Flora about the color of Aurora’s dress (pink or blue) is so much fun and I loved it. They share such wonderful dynamic together and all of their scenes are either very endearing and moving or just a lot of goofy, cartoony entertainment. They provide the necessary humor and childlike nature to an otherwise more serious, dark film.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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But the kings are also quite goofy and funny in their own right as well as their drunk, wine-obsessed servant. That scene almost comes off as a detour, but it is so pleasantly cartoony, amusing while also being grounded in reality in its portrayal of 14th century kings that it worked for me. And I loved the father’s argument with his son with that line about the 14th century being hilarious. It’s again a rather progressive, unfairly forgotten element to this film.

Prince Phillip is without a doubt the best of the early princes. Not only is he given most to do, but he also has a distinct, present personality and is much, much better than all the previous princes. He is a strong character in his own right, a true hero and I loved that, but I also loved his look as he is very handsome and well dressed. He’s very likable and his horse Samson is also quite endearing.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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And as for Maleficent, what is there to say that hasn’t yet been said about her. She is menacing, genuinely creepy, so well developed, beautifully animated and wonderfully cast – Eleanor Audley once again gave a standout performance after her terrific performance in ‘Cinderella’ as horrible Lady Tremaine. She is one of the rare villains who never made a mistake, is always menacing and pose definite threat to the protagonists. She is such a memorable and authentic character with unforgettable looks and voice, a standout in this film and easily one of the very best Disney villains of all time. Plus Diablo is an excellent, very helpful henchman.

Sleeping Beauty has beautiful animation. It is absolutely gorgeous to behold with a painting like, artistic quality to it and a style that is truly original and distinguishes itself from their other animations. The character design, the style, the movements – everything is polished, fits the time period and feels like a work of art. I do think that more Disney films should have utilized on this painting style as it worked like a wonder here and helped create its ominous and dreamlike atmosphere so well. It isn’t as stupendously detailed as Disney’s earliest films, but still I liked its style a lot and it is in my opinion one of the studio’s most artistic endeavors. The highlights include the forest, Maleficent’s look, her very creepy and unforgettable castle and the wonderful cottage in the woods which looks so cozy and charming. I do think that the film was obviously cheaper in terms of budget (the still backgrounds are noticeable), but still I loved that painting quality to it and it fits the storyline extremely well.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Sleeping Beauty is definitely a musical. It only has two true songs with a couple of minor ones as well, but it relies so much on the score to tell its story that it definitely is a musical, but a different one than all the previous Disney films. The score from Tchaikovsky is of course beautiful and again complementing the film’s dreamlike feel perfectly. It was a terrific choice to include his compositions and I adored this score to pieces. It is also quite diverse in style – ranging from thrilling and eerie to dreamlike to playful and comedic.

The Skumps Song, One Gift and Hail the Princess Aurora are all very short pieces which could not be called songs, but they all serve their purpose and accompany their scenes very well. I Wonder is of course the weaker of the film’s two musical numbers. Now I like this song and it is quite sweet, very well sung and with solid lyrics, but it is just too short in length and overall a standard princess fare.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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Once Upon a Dream is a masterpiece. This song is just beautiful. The score is brilliant of course, but the added lyrics are so well incorporated and I loved each and every word here. That scene is the standout of the entire film and easily the most romantic scene in all Disney films. I loved the singing of both the prince and the princess and thus it succeeds as an incredible duet, but it is its ethereal, dreamy and timeless chorus that transcends it to the ranks of all-time greatest film songs. It is a perfect ballad, an impeccable waltz and the second best Disney song of all time just after Part of That World from ‘The Little Mermaid’.

The pacing here is sometimes a bit problematic, but mostly better than the troublesome pacing in ‘Snow White’. The voice acting is simply terrific and the direction is superb. Some of the imagery is iconic and visually this is truly a moving work of art. The action near the end is also excellent and thrilling to behold. The tone is diverse and well handled and the humor is not all too great and far from hilarious, but definitely charming and very endearing. I liked the dialogue as well plus the film is emotionally resonant, most especially in its wonderful finale.

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Sleeping Beauty Movie Review

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The finale is awesome, but every scene with Maleficent and her castle stole the show. Of course the forest scene is the highlight for me, but the dragon fight is amazing too. All of the action set pieces are certainly magnificent but the highlight is that very last battle between Phillip and Maleficent. And of course the spinning wheel sequence is so incredible – eerie, otherworldly and impeccable. The film truly is close to perfection even though it is very short in length. It truly belongs among the five best Disney films of all time.

With beautiful, truly artistic painting-influenced animation, brilliant score and an outstanding, simply iconic song in Once Upon a Dream, Sleeping Beauty is one of the best Disney films of all time and a moving work of art. The characters are excellent – the fairies are charming and of course Maleficent is one of Disney’s ultimate villains not only in her looks but also her voice and actions. It is an atmospheric fairy tale with a dreamlike, eerie and almost ethereal quality to it. A lot of the scenes here are unforgettable and the film achieves so much in so little time that it truly is a masterpiece in the world of animation.

My Rating – 5

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The Trouble with Harry (1955)

The Trouble with Harry Movie Review

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The Trouble with Harry Movie Review

The Trouble with Harry is a 1955 romantic comedy mystery film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Edmund Gwenn and Shirley MacLaine. It is a pretty good, original flick.

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He looked exactly the same when he was alive,

only he was vertical

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The Trouble with Harry Movie Review

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Yes, this one is quite probably the most authentic, most atypical Hitchcock outing as he has never really made a film quite like this one. It is at its core a romantic comedy. Yes, not just a comedy but a romantic one as well. And the fact that there exists a Hitchcock romantic comedy just made my day.

So the film is about a hunter in a village who finds a dead body in the forest and then three more people join him in the guessing game of who killed him, but eventually the four people turn into two pairs of romantic couples. So it is not a thriller, but it definitely is a mystery as we do not know at first what really happened. I thought that the film succeeded in both mystery and romantic comedy departments as the mystery is involving and the film is quite charming and funny.

Edmund Gwenn gave such a strong performance in the lead role. He is the most endearing and likable character of the bunch here and I loved him. John Forsythe is the weakest link not only in terms of acting, but also when it comes to the character himself who is just not as interesting as the rest.

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The Trouble with Harry Movie Review

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I loved Shirley MacLaine who here made a terrific screen debut. A great character and a very strong performance. But Mildred Natwick should not be forgotten as she also acted so well here and this old lady character is very funny in her odd behavior and demeanor.

The Trouble with Harry is not a great film. The pacing is definitely very slow and it takes its time to get there owing to a slow start plus some of the scenes in the third act weren’t as interesting as the rest. I thought that the film needed less music and much more dialogue to pull off its character-driven, humorous approach, but it still succeeds as a pretty original film.

To me the highlight is the relationship between Captain Wiles and Miss Gravely. The two are such a charming, odd and ultimately endearing old couple and I loved how they interacted together. That was the most emotionally resonant and best developed part of the film. Some of the lines are quite funny here and the dialogue is truly terrific, not to mention very honest too, surprisingly so for the fifties. Some of the lines are quite brave when you think about them.

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The Trouble with Harry Movie Review

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So the film is definitely not hilarious, but it is quite funny in a couple of scenes and I found its subtle humor really pleasant and very clever. What Hitchcock set out to make is a quirky little comedy and he mostly achieved what he wanted to do.

The film is gorgeously shot, absolutely lovely to look at. The leaves, the forest, the houses and the people – everything is so well shot, depicted and it transports you to its small village so successfully. The country mood is so palpable and I loved its leisurely, elegant approach at filmmaking. I also found its score terrific and frequently highly beautiful.

The Trouble with Harry is somewhat slow in some parts and far from hilarious, but still quite funny in a couple of scenes and its subtle, quirky humor is mostly quite good. Edmund Gwenn is the highlight and Shirley MacLaine is excellent in her film debut. The film is gorgeously shot and evocative in its country mood plus the score is beautiful and elegant. The characters are weird and charming, the story is very interesting and the film succeeds as a very eccentric romantic comedy mystery. It’s by far Hitchcock’s most atypical effort.

My Rating – 4

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The World of Apu (1959)

The World of Apu Movie Review

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The World of Apu Movie Review

The World of Apu is a 1959 Bengali drama film directed by Satyajit Ray. It is a pretty solid conclusion to this trilogy.

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What do you know about love?

You’ve never been within ten yards of a girl!

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The World of Apu Movie Review

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I actually really liked this final entry. It isn’t on par with ‘Pather Panchali’ but it’s definitely much better than ‘Aparajito’. That is because it is much more interesting in its plot. Where previously it was standard, this one is actually quite memorable and not all that cliched.

To me the film lacks focus and that could have easily been fixed with shorter running time and quicker pace. A lot of stuff goes on here and the most inspired and interesting plot points are in the second half with the first half being uninteresting, at least to me.

The film is well directed by Ray, but not greatly directed. Again the pacing is ridiculously slow and the movie is frequently quite boring. The dialogue is solid and the acting is pretty strong, but the character development needed to have been stronger to pull off its more character-driven, simpler and emotional dramatic approach.

The World of Apu actually features a very interesting second half. I loved the exploration of India and those scenes were amazing, but the scenes with Apu’s son are great. I found his eventually successful marriage problematic as it sends a somewhat problematic message for Indians and his wife needed more screen time, but the ending itself is undeniably beautiful in the father-son reunion.

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The World of Apu Movie Review

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The film is actually much more cinematic than both of its predecessors and in that area it trumps them by large and finally becomes big screen worthy. I loved the scenery of India and its various landscapes are gorgeous to watch. The score is good, but the cinematography is strikingly terrific and definitely the artistic height of the entire picture.

The World of Apu is a pretty good conclusion to this trilogy with a flawed, less interesting and slow first half, but pretty memorable, frequently wonderful second half with such a beautiful ending. It is much better than its predecessor thanks to a much more interesting plot plus the film is unexpectedly cinematic with terrific cinematography providing us many gorgeous shots of the country.

My Rating – 4

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To Catch a Thief (1955)

To Catch a Thief Movie Review

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To Catch a Thief Movie Review

To Catch a Thief is a 1955 romantic thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly. It is one of his lesser, but more entertaining and charming flicks.

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So this is where you live?

Oh, Mother will love it up here!

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To Catch a Thief Movie Review

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Its main problem is the story which is a lot of fun but too low-key and lacking in tension and conflict. It lacks in the area of tension mainly because it is about burglars which is a lot less dangerous than murderers and thus the film is devoid of the director’s usual atmospheric and thrilling sequences.

But it does succeed as a romance far more so than a thriller. That is because the relationship between the two characters is very dynamic, fun and memorable. I loved some of their romantic scenes. Kelly and Grant truly shared a great chemistry here that even a long age gap did not hurt the movie too much. They were perfectly cast together and it’s a shame that they did not film more movies.

Grace Kelly is as elegant and as beautiful as she always is and here she is in one of her more glamorous appearances with the various wonderful gowns and dresses. She played this fun and funny girl so well.

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To Catch a Thief Movie Review

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Cary Grant is of course reliably great and believable not only in romance but also in action scenes. He was a great choice for this type of more fun and light-hearted movie. Other characters are unfortunately not as memorable and Danielle is solid and the twist was fine, but obvious and it needed more build up in my opinion.

To Catch a Thief has a lot of great scenes. The highlights include the entire car chase sequence as well as their picnic, the first meet up of the two and the action on the roof was a lot of fun and should have been extended more in my opinion as the film desperately needed more thriller, action elements to go with all the glamour and romance.

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To Catch a Thief Movie Review

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It is well directed by Alfred Hitchcock but this is obviously one of his more casual, laidback films where he didn’t stretch his imagination and skills too much. That is fine and the film is solid, but just not one of his more memorable works. It is well edited and stupendously shot with a great color and a lot of memorable imagery. The score is also really good and the costumes are splendid. It is such a glorious feast for the eyes that its lack of substance can be forgiven.

To Catch a Thief is definitely one of Hitchcock’s lesser works thanks to a lack of substance, more thriller elements and an absence of danger and high stakes, but the film makes up for it due to a highly glamorous feel that it has thanks to beautiful costumes and splendid locations so gorgeously shot in VistaVision. The dynamic and chemistry between Kelly and Grant are superb as well and they add a lot of playful charisma and charm to this very fun, but flawed outing.

My Rating – 3.5

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Aparajito (1956)

Aparajito Movie Review

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Aparajito Movie Review

Aparajito is a 1956 Bengali film directed by Satyajit Ray. It is a weaker film than its much more memorable predecessor.

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Why don’t you answer me… Apu!

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Aparajito Movie Review

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As a sequel, Aparajito succeeds as it follows Apu’s further story and this time around it is about his college years and young life. The only thing I absolutely loved here is his relationship with his mother. She behaves badly toward him and resents him the decision to go to college and that is very believable and sadly real as it is incredibly sad for parents to see their children grow up and leave them. I loved that aspect.

However, everything else is really uninspired and the movie almost feels like a biopic which is obviously because it contains autobiographical elements from the director himself. Now I do realize that this approach must have been new and original back in 1956, but today it is utterly forgettable.

It movies like such an ordinary biopic and at such a once again excruciatingly slow pace that it ends up being another total bore. But whereas ‘Pather Panchali’ had that sense of importance and learning of foreign culture to it, this one applies to every single country and is thus not as urgent.

The acting is pretty good, but the characterization is once again weak. I liked the mother and she is well developed, but Apu is again forgettable and entirely bland. The others serve little purpose to the story so they are not worth mentioning at all.

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Aparajito Movie Review

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Aparajito is technically weaker than the original film. It is well made, do not get me wrong, but it is just far from fantastic and is just passable. The cinematography is okay, but certainly far from great. The acting is good, but the direction should have been better and the pacing is bad. It is so slow, uninvolving and the film did not need two hours for this story. Certainly it has its very interesting moments, but it mostly bored me.

Aparajito is weaker than its predecessor because it doesn’t feel as important. The relationship between mother and son is excellent and some of their scenes are truly touching, but the film is almost too universal in its story and too much like a biopic. It is slow, uninvolving and typical in terms of storytelling.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)

The Quatermass Xperiment Movie Review

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The Quatermass Xperiment Movie Review

The Quatermass Xperiment is a 1955 British science fiction horror film directed by Val Guest and starring Brian Donlevy. It is solid, but disappointing.

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Nobody ever wins a cold war

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The Quatermass Xperiment Movie Review

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The storyline is not all that original. It features an astronaut who comes back on Earth infected with an alien form and he starts killing people and animals too. Now it is a pretty effective, interesting film for its time, but now after ‘Alien’ it is nowhere near as exciting.

This film should be analyzed in two different areas: science fiction and horror. First off, as a horror film it is actually very competent. Not only is its score exceptional and pretty menacing tonally, but it also adds a lot to the overall creepy atmosphere of the film. The film sounds and also looks really well and the filming technique of a documentary worked in its favor quite a bit.

It also contains a couple of really graphic, quite disturbing for its time scenes and thus it is easy to see why it actually killed a 9-year-old boy in 1955 in the theatre. To me the best scene is the zoo one which is quite horrific actually and definitely unexpectedly violent. And I have to say that I really liked the infected man as he reminded me pleasantly of the monster in ‘Frankenstein’. The scene with the girl also draws a similar parallel. The emotional connection is definitely strong here.

However, The Quatermass Xperiment fails as a science fiction film as it is just way too ridiculous in its story and particularly dialogue. I just could not take it seriously as a modern audience member. Some of the lines were silly and the film tried to be serious and realistic, but because the dialogue is so silly, it renders the entire film a blockbuster. And it was just never particularly fascinating in terms of storytelling.

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The Quatermass Xperiment Movie Review

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Brian Donlevy is definitely quite memorable as the main character who is very grumpy and overly harsh and I liked that he was different than most SF protagonists. The inclusion of humor is definitely odd, but some parts did make me chuckle nonetheless. So the film is well made and overall quite solid, just not as good as I expected.

The Quatermass Xperiment is a solid, but very flawed sci-fi horror flick. As a horror film, it succeeds. The atmosphere is creepy, the film is so well shot in interesting documentary-like fashion and the score is particularly menacing. A couple of scenes are quite horrific for its time. But it fails as a science fiction tale as the tone is odd, the story is somewhat standard and the dialogue is frequently quite silly.

My Rating – 3.5

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Pather Panchali (1955)

Pather Panchali Movie Review

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Pather Panchali Movie Review

Pather Panchali is a Bengali drama film directed by Satyajit Ray. It is regularly cited as one of the best films of all time. In my opinion, it is quite good, but far from great.

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Can’t an old woman have wishes too?

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Pather Panchali Movie Review

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The film basically depicts the harsh village life of one Bengali poor family during the 1910s. So the movie is definitely an important viewing for those unfamiliar with Third World suffering. I was familiar, but I certainly needed a reminder and the movie did that job really well. It succeeds as a very strong, moving drama that should prove relatable to anyone living in poor conditions or in a small village.

The characterization is solid, but definitely not great. That is fine as the film relied on storytelling and atmosphere more, but I still wanted more memorable characters. Harihar should have received more screen time, Sarbajaya is memorable as well as Durga but Apu is entirely underutilized and forgettable as the protagonist. Indir as this very old aunt is the highlight as her suffering is the most heartbreaking in the movie.

Pather Panchali is technically effective. Satyajit Ray’s direction is definitely superb, especially for a first-time director. It is confident and he showed evident talent for storytelling and social commentary. The same goes for the acting. These are for the most part amateur actors but you don’t see that as everybody did a really good job in their roles which is commendable. They also seemed like real people.

It is also gorgeously shot and scored. I loved its cinematography and the imagery of their village, the dilapidated houses as well as the forest was excellent and it transported you to its time period and setting remarkably well. The score is also fittingly Indian and classical in its tone with the use of more instruments than one which added some variety to the whole experience.

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Pather Panchali Movie Review

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Pather Panchali is in my opinion overly slow and that is its biggest detractor. Some of the final scenes tended to veer too much into melodrama, but overall the emotional connection was there and the film succeeded in terms of plot and characterization. But it is just too slow, especially in some of its middle parts and those dragged the entire film unfortunately. It needed more drama and momentum.

Pather Panchali is overly slow, especially in its middle parts, and thus it is not fantastic in my opinion. But still it is a moving, important look at Indian poverty with some quite heartbreaking moments, very good acting, confident direction and particularly effective cinematography and score which transport you to its time period and setting remarkably well.

My Rating – 4

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Cinderella (1950)

Cinderella Movie Review

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Cinderella Movie Review

Cinderella is a 1950 animated musical fantasy film which is Disney’s 12th animated feature. It truly is one of the better Disney films of all time.

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They can’t order me to stop dreaming

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Cinderella Movie Review

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After almost a decade of low-quality package films, Disney is back with a classic Cinderella, the film which will prove to be one of the best Disney films and one of their most fondly remembered pictures decades later. It surely has its obvious flaws, but the strengths are abundant that they mostly render those flaws minor.

First, the characters. There is a plethora of characters in this movie – from the innocent protagonist to wonderfully evil villains to the prince and his silly father to the mice, the necessary sidekicks. Cinderella is, like Snow White – kind, pretty, a good singer and great with animals, but unlike the first Disney Princess, she has a bit of a feisty and rebellious attitude making her more believable and modern. She is not too developed, but still a solid early Disney Princess who is actually much more active than people nowadays give her credit for. She actually went to the ball and managed to find her own happiness instead of waiting for it to happen.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Prince Charming is unfortunately a non-entity as the most underdeveloped character in the film. It is a shame, but at least all of the other characters are strongly developed and he would have been more utilized had the film been longer in length, but more on that later on.

Charming’s father is an interesting attempt at comedy proving to be quite an unexpectedly funny creation. He is very desperate in his need for grandchildren which is realistic given the time period portrayed and he is a needed comic relief, influencing the fathers in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in the process.

Now, the mice. They are at times funny, at times sweet and always helpful. Their chases with Lucifer should prove entertaining for children and a pleasant diversion for adults. Those action scenes are definitely cartoony, but still done so well and pleasantly reminded me of classic cartoons such as Tom and Jerry. Bruno is particularly memorable as this fat, food obsessed but also very endearing mouse.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Their voices are awfully squeaky and they more than occasionally feel as if they were the protagonists thus ruining the film’s pacing a bit and greatly contributing to Cinderella’s lesser screen time. But still they are endearing enough that the film did not suffer too much for having them appear too often. Plus I liked that this is the ultimate Disney Princess animal film as here Cinderella not only speaks to animals and helps them, but it is a mutual relationship as they help her too and they do help her a lot. The relationship is wonderful and important in terms of storytelling too.

Lucifer is one of the most villainous animal characters in all of Disney films thanks to his mean personality and negative attitude towards the protagonist. I do think that this film is not for a cat person as they are very much the villains here whereas the dogs are heroes, but still I liked that archetypical approach as here it worked in its favor and fitted the film really well. And he truly is a great animal villain or henchman should I say.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Grand Duke is a funny counteract to the King and I really liked their amusing interactions. Fairy Godmother is of course very endearing and such a wonderful character. She is great both as a necessary story point and as the necessary magical element in the film. Anastasia and Drizella are very funny as these ugly, incompetent and stupid stepsisters.

But the one character who totally stands out is Lady Tremaine. She is mean, cold and just plain evil, coming across as even scary in some noir-influenced scenes. Her attitude along with her voice work and actions make her one of the very best Disney villains, probably better than Maleficent and the Queen because she does not need powers to be scary and evil. She is at the top or near the top of the list of best Disney villains and definitely the most underrated villain as well. A very menacing presence and even more disturbing for being a real, non-magical person.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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This famous fairy tale is very well adapted here as Cinderella is enchanting, magical, endearing and always mesmerizing to watch. The highlights of course include the ball dance, some of the cat and mouse chases, every scene with Lady Tremaine and the dress making scene which is an unforgettable, simply beautiful Disney sequence. The film should have been much longer in length as the mice took too much of the screen time this way and the second half felt somewhat rushed. The first act is prolonged and the third is rushed but despite weaker pacing, the story is great and wonderfully traditional that it in the end works.

While the animation is not on par with the studio’s first couple of films, it is nonetheless far better than the package films thanks to an interesting beginning, colorful style and an artistic ballroom sequence. The character design is excellent and the interiors look great, but to me the highlights here are the exteriors. This is a rare animated film which feels like a concept-art come to life as some scenes (especially the outside ones) are so elegant, artistic and dreamlike in their quality that they almost felt like paintings. I loved that artistic angle here.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Cinderella’s soundtrack grew on me over time. I still think that it is one of the weaker of the Disney Golden Age soundtracks, but still quite solid with some great songs. Cinderella serves its purpose as the opening of the film with that classic book added. The lyrics are too descriptive and spoilery, but the song is quite okay and catchy in a traditional way.

Sing Sweet Nightingale is way too short in length, but again it serves its purpose in terms of storytelling and as a showcase of the contrast between Cinderella and her stepsisters. The Work Song is the weakest song in the film which is accompanied by a wonderful scene where the mice make her a dress, but their squeaky voices ruined an otherwise catchy number. So This is Love is a forgettable Disney ballad again accompanied by a wonderful scene, but the song itself is too short and not memorable, catchy or romantic enough.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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Of course the two best numbers here are Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes. The former is such a wonderful children’s song which is incredibly catchy, fast and irresistible to sing along to while the latter actually grew on me over time as at first I did not care for it, but now I really like it. It is the classic “I Wish” Disney Princess song and the ultimate moment for the main character. The lyrics are great, the song is wonderfully traditional and so well sung with the highlight being the last chorus. I loved its scene too.

Thanks to superb villains and their awful actions, you can’t help but feel sad for the main character, making the film one of the darker films in the canon because of its evident sense of danger and sadistic intentions of Lady Tremaine.

The tearing of the dress scene is unforgettable in its brutal and heartbreaking imagery. Even though Cinderella’s characterization is not particularly strong, you always root for her and you are happy at the end when everything turns out fine. Lady Tremaine, like all of ‘Pinochio’s villains, ends unpunished and she has never made a single mistake making her one of the best villains ever to come from Disney.

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Cinderella Movie Review

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The humor is quite good at times and I loved the film’s diverse tone and also its elegant score. It is abrupt in its ending, but flies by how short and incredibly engaging and wonderful it is. The best part of the film is its emotional aspect. So in the end, the film is not quite on part with some of Disney’s previous classics, but it was still a great, important step in the right direction for the studio and certainly one of their better films out there.

It is certainly way too short in length and somewhat rushed, but Cinderella was nonetheless a phenomenal return to form for Disney with mostly strong character development, evident emotion and sense of danger, engaging story, solid humor and such an elegant, artistic animation style to it. The soundtrack is weaker than most of Disney’s Golden Age soundtracks, but it still features two classics in Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes. The mice take away too much of the screen time, but I still really like the classic cartoon animal chases here. It has its minor flaws, but it is still one of the better Disney films thanks in no small part to Lady Tremaine who truly remains one of the finest and most menacing Disney villains of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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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 actor 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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