Rosetta (1999)

Rosetta Movie Review

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Rosetta Movie Review

Rosetta is a 1999 Belgian drama film directed by the Dardenne brothers. It is a quite good yet deeply flawed movie.

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Your name is Rosetta. My name is Rosetta. You found a job. I found a job.

You’ve got a friend. I’ve got a friend. You have a normal life. I have a normal life.

You won’t fall in a rut. I won’t fall in a rut. Good night. Good night

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Rosetta Movie Review

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As is usual for European movies, this is a very hard-hitting, serious drama and it is one of the worst of its type as its story is just so terrible. You have an adolescent girl who is basically homeless with a prostitute alcoholic mother and she moves from job to job in order to survive. The movie is very primal in its approach as the protagonist displays almost animalistic behavior as she would do anything to survive.

That was great and very unusual to see in a film. The film is thus tragic and should be seen by everyone so that we all realize how really happy and entitled we are. But Rosetta also never really became as truly tragic as it needed to have been as its protagonist is just so unrelatable and such a bad human being.

Yes, Rosetta herself lost me entirely with some of her actions. Ratting on her friend was not cool, but what was even worse is that she almost left him to drown in the river. I do not get why someone would do a thing like that and the movie truly lost me with that very unfortunate choice. I cannot possibly root for a main character like that, now can I?

Another thing that annoyed me is its camera work. It employs that annoying shaky cam in order to tell a story and I know that it thus differentiates itself from the other dramas of that time especially and it was somewhat suitable, but I still thoroughly dislike that approach and I disliked it here as well.

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Rosetta Movie Review

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Rosetta is well acted for sure and Emilie Dequenne did a really good job in such an unfortunate role to play. I liked the movie’s approach with less dialogue and more details and it felt sometimes that we truly were following her quest for survival. The dance scene was also quite nice. It is such a shame how the movie treated Riquet as he was such a nice guy.

Rosetta is an engaging and hard-hitting but deeply flawed drama. It is well directed and acted, it is important to see and the almost animalistic behavior of its protagonist was interesting to see. But the film lost me with Rosetta herself who is such a downright terrible human being and had she been more likable, the movie would have been much more tragic.

My Rating – 3.5

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Earth (1930)

Earth Movie Review

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Earth Movie Review

Earth is a Russian film directed by Alexander Dovzhenko about the process of collectivization.

The plot and theme of the film is interesting but it is unfortunately very poorly executed mostly because it is rather contrived both in its beginning and its ending. It just starts and it just ends. Its running time is incredibly short and it should have been longer but it doesn’t matter because this short movie also managed to be incredibly tedious and not engaging or thought-provoking at all which given its great subject matter is such a shame.

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Earth Movie Review

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The characters are the biggest problem for Earth. They are all underdeveloped and emotionally distant never letting you connect to them or know them on any level. Also the movie has technical aspects which are pretty standard and even mediocre at times. The score is solid as is the acting and the cinematography is really good, but the editing is not remarkable and the directing should have been better. There is some striking imagery here but it is lost in the film’s cold and very weak approach which never lets you connect, it never uses its plot in any meaningful way and it never quite explains what is going on at any moment leaving you to try to figure out for yourself.

This is one of the most overrated and weakest Soviet films of the period, a movie so frustratingly problematic and flawed that it really started to get on my nerves. It has some striking and powerful moments similar to ‘Battleship Potemkin’ but unlike that masterpiece, it never achieves that status because as a whole it is quite poor and failing to reach its potential.

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Earth Movie Review

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With problematic editing, troublesome directing, awfully short running time, tedious and unrealized story, Earth is one of the most overrated as well as the most frustrating Soviet films. It has a solid score, great cinematography and fine acting, but everything else is underused, it fails to make use of its promising subject matter and it is overall an incredibly flawed and boring movie which fails miserably when compared to other Classic Soviet films of the era.

My Rating – 3

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Only Yesterday (1991)

Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

Only Yesterday is a 1991 anime drama film directed by Isao Takahata which is Studio Ghibli’s fifth movie. It is one of their most underrated and very best.

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There is always a tomorrow

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The story is so strong. I am not usually a fan of this framing device where we jump from present to past, but this use of flashbacks is so strong that it complements the movie instead of hurting it. Critics have pointed out the strong adult approach that is present in Only Yesterday and that is definitely the case here. It is intended for women, but could be enjoyed by men as well. But it is mostly for adults as its story is very mature and deep.

We follow a 27-year-old woman as she journeys to the countryside and meanwhile reminisces about her 10-year-old self. This is not just your regular reminiscing, but it is important as she thus grows more as an adult and realizes her past and present mistakes. She is somewhat lost as an adult and she wants to fix that.

What I loved about it the most is its portrayal of childhood. Now there are a lot of movies about this subject matter, but this is easily one of the best of its type because it shows so truthfully how everything seemed better and more magical during childhood, but it also shows us that some of the problems and traumas faced during childhood are never really forgotten and they shape you as a human being. Incredibly powerful stuff.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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And I loved her romance with Toshio, so well done. I rooted for them to end up together and it is implied that they did which was wonderful. Their conversations were just so wonderful and realistic that they were easily the highlights here in terms of the dialogue. Toshio is a great character and Taeka just might be my favorite Ghibli heroine or at least in the top two or three. She is beautifully developed and always grounded in reality as she is never portrayed as too good, especially as a child and I appreciated that.

Other characters aren’t as memorable but they definitely help shape her experiences as an adult and as a child. Toshio’s family does have some great moments with her as they pressure her into dating Toshio which was such a realistically depicted scene. Taeka’s mother is also superbly realized, caring, yet also careless at times towards her. The same goes for her sister. And of course I liked all of her classmates and especially her love interest.

The scene where the two share their first conversation is just beautiful to witness. It wonderfully showcases the power and innocence of childhood love. All of the scenes between Taeka and Toshio were of course the other highlights. I loved the scenes with hitting puberty and the period talk is something you rarely see in animation and is greatly portrayed here. And her math problem led to such a great and relatable scene to me personally.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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But there is no denying the power of the last sequence. I just adored that ending and it is in fact one of my favorite Studio Ghibli scenes ever. There you see the need for the animated medium as this is a drama and not a fantasy but there it employs its flashback approach by bringing the kids on the screen together with her and facing her with her former self. That moment was just poetic and deep that I felt it emotionally. The fact that probably my favorite song ever The Rose was playing during the scene only heightened the emotion for me. It is the truly touching pinnacle of this entire mature and relatable drama.

Only Yesterday is beautifully animated. Now it isn’t on the level of some previous Ghibli classics such as ‘My Neighbor Totoro’, but it is still incredibly strong. The film portrays its characters realistically as they are not overly pretty and perfect. The imagery is gorgeous and the attention to detail is once again overwhelming.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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The film showcases the importance of country life and especially farm producing and I just loved that. This studio has always been the proponent of living in the country, but this movie takes that to the next level as it also shows us the importance of working and how producing plants can be beneficial to not just your health but also emotionally as you help grow a living thing. The relationship between humans and nature is so well emphasized here and it shows us how the two can co-exist peacefully and productively.

The score is again terrific and not just in the ending, but also in its use of Hungarian and Romanian folk music as that somehow transcends and perfectly fits the country scenes. It is so well edited and directed and a further proof why I love Isao Takahata so much as he truly directs his movies stupendously and his Ghibli films are my favorites.

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Only Yesterday Movie Review

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Only Yesterday isn’t perfect as I thought that some scenes weren’t as compelling as the rest and the film needed more humor in my opinion as it was overly serious, but it truly is one of Studio Ghibli’s finest outings and definitely near the top of the list for me. It is an underrated film that should be appreciated by more people and now that it finally came out in the USA, I am glad to see that start to happen. Also, it is easily one of the best that the very weak year of 1991 has to offer.

Only Yesterday is one of the very best that Studio Ghibli has to offer thanks to again gorgeous animation, a truly phenomenal score, excellent character development and a rich story. Its framing device is put to some great use, the film flows so well, it is beautifully directed by always great Isao Takahata and it is so emotional, relatable and ultimately deep in its very mature story. The highlight is the ending which deeply touched me with its song choice, imagery and strong emotion.

My Rating – 4.5

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Mommy (2014)

Mommy Movie Review

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Mommy Movie Review

Directed by Xavier Dolan, Mommy is a 2014 Canadian drama film about a widowed mother raising her extremely problematic son.

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Loving people doesn’t save them

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Mommy Movie Review

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This is the movie which I was very excited about and heard great things, but it let me down unfortunately. The story is where I had the biggest problem. It is very repetitive and the concept is that for a short movie or maybe an hour and a half at best, but they stretched it for more than two hours which is troublesome and quickly wears its welcome. I was also very annoyed with its constant redneck cursing, yelling and overall awful behavior of its characters. And the kiss between them near the end is extremely sick and very unpleasant and totally unnecessary sensational stuff. Plus I never found the mother’s behavior realistic for a second because she had no reason to put up with his behavior for so long. It definitely felt unrealistic.

As for the characters, they are very well developed. You feel like you’ve met them, but that is not necessarily a good thing here as both of them are extremely unpleasant and annoying people that you never wish to see again. But the acting is absolutely amazing and it is probably Mommy’s biggest asset with both actors giving an extraordinary performance in very demanding roles.

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Mommy Movie Review

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The directing from Dolan is very good as is the cinematography with a lot of cool choices. However, the small aspect ratio is awful, I have to be honest. I can understand that it is original, but it is never artistic and it is just frustrating to watch for such a long time such a short screen. Very unappealing. And the editing is of course weak because the movie never needed this long running time leading to a lot of repetitive sequences.

With well developed but annoying and despicable characters, awful and frustrating aspect ratio, extremely bloated running time and bad approach with too much cursing, yelling and some sick scenes, Mommy is a huge disappointment and although it is very well directed and acted with fantastic performances, it is also a bit unbelievable at times, annoying for the most of its long running time and above all a very unpleasant watch.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a 1972 French comedy film directed by Luis Bunuel. It is an overrated, plotless film.

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You’re better suited for making love than for making war

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

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This is such a typical Luis Bunuel work and it is one of his weaker ones in my opinion. It shows all of his excesses and problematic qualities in one frustrating package. I get that it has the theme of hypocrisy but it wasn’t executed well at all.

It seemed that it had no plot at all. It was just an excuse to feature a surreal, farcical adventure with a bunch of friends who want to have dinner together but are always interrupted. It had potential as it deals with interesting themes, but only the first act was interesting and the other ones were either dull or annoying.

Some segments worked but others did not. I liked some of the sexual stuff here, but some was frustrating. As for those surreal dream sequences, they were okay, but far from the director’s best. He shows again with this movie that he was great as a short subject director and not as feature director as ‘An Andalusian Dog’ remains his best effort.

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie Movie Review

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The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is well acted and mostly well made, but overlong and frankly boring in some scenes. Its type of humor is so obviously French in its situational and odd comedy and it mostly did not work great. I didn’t smile, let alone laugh, once and thus this is a failure for me as comedies are supposed to make you smile. It received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and it is not the worst film to get that award, but is one of the weaker ones.

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is your typical Luis Bunuel film which relies too little on plot and makes no sense for the majority of time. Some segments worked, but most did not and the film was even annoying at times. It is your typical French comedy that isn’t really funny and is rather overrated.

My Rating – 3

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Cabiria (1914)

Cabiiria Movie Review

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Cabiria Movie Review

Cabiria is a famous 1914 epic silent film directed by Giovanni Pastrone. It is a very ambitious and fantastically looking film, but a very flawed picture nevertheless.

It follows the Second Punic War and more melodramatic plots. That is the problem to me. It is split into five episodes with five different stories, but it is unfortunate that they rarely connect with each other. They are very dramatic stories and are well  told, but they just did not connect to me and another reason for that is the character development. It is weak and none of the characters are particularly developed which is really troublesome.

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Cabiria Movie Review

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But this is a marvelous film when technical aspects are concerned. The imagery is so iconic and memorable and the cinematography is incredibly good. The direction from Pastrone is absolutely superb and the acting is good. But it is so well filmed and shot that you don’t fail to be amazed. It is very artistic and powerful. The set designs are absolutely gorgeous and probably better than in the works of Griffith. Also the costume design is terrific and all of the costumes and places are wonderfully recreated. The pacing is solid and the running time is appropriate, but the stories should have meshed together better.

When historical films are concerned, this is nowhere near as good as ‘The Birth of a Nation’. But technically it is even more impressive because it preceded that classic Griffith movie. But I am annoyed with these big-budget epic spectacles of the 1910s because they are rarely as emotionally investing as they are well filmed. And the characters are so weak here that they diminish the movie’s impact. And also because it is episodic in nature, there are those stories that are good but there are those that are very forgettable and very boring. I just wish that the stories were better connected and that would have made it a better movie.

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Cabiria Movie Review

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Cabiria is a flawed movie. It has interesting stories, but those stories are weakly connected and that episodic nature just feels wrong. Also the characters are weak and it is not emotional at all, but it is a breathtaking film visually with terrific costumes, excellent set design, great direction and fantastic cinematography. It is a movie undone by its ambition and flat characters, but it is still a powerful and very artistic movie and most especially for its extraordinarily old age.

My Rating – 3.5

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Timbuktu (2014)

Timbuktu Movie Review

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Timbuktu Movie Review

Timbuktu is a French-Mauritanian film directed by Abderrahmane Sissako and released in 2014. It is about the city of Timbuktu which is under the terror and occupation of ISIL. The film was nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

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I’m Abdelkarim’s driver. I have a message from him:

“He can’t do anything to help. It’s over

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Timbuktu Movie Review

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This is the worst movie nominated for 2014 Foreign category at the Academy Awards. It is not bad, but it is not good also mainly because it is another one of those politics movies which only the people interested in politics and this particular subject matter will find interesting. Others like me find it boring and very uninspired from start to finish. Yes, it is very relevant and also hugely important for all the goings-on right now in that region, but the movie fails to bring that necessity and power to the story which means that the execution is poor.

The acting is quite good with each and every performance being quite solid and serving the purpose. But the characters are not well developed and the script is so-so. It is well filmed and made, but the directing should have been way better as well as the editing which is weak. It is technically solid, but again, nothing too remarkable. And the running time is too short, but again, it is dull even though the movie is that short which is really saying a lot.

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Timbuktu Movie Reviw

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Timbuktu way be well filmed, well made and it is important and very relevant, but it fails to bring the power and importance from the script to life with uninspired direction, very poor characters and above all slow and boring approach. It is naturally important and politics fans will most definitely find it appealing, but for others, this is a weak, so-so movie that did not deserve any of its nominations for sure and it is the weakest nominee for Best Foreign Film without a doubt.

My Rating – 2.5

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The Outlaw and His Wife (1918)

The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

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The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

The Outlaw and His Wife is a 1918 Swedish drama film directed by Victor Sjostrom. It is one of the best films from the 1910s I’ve seen so far.

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Their only law was their love

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The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

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It follows an outlaw and his wife who joins him in the escape from authorities. They go from Sweden to Iceland where they live constantly on the run and in the wild. This is in my opinion a precursor to ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, but done better and it also has a touch of ‘Z for Zachariah’ in it. But it came first so it is very original and of course hugely influential for its emphasis on the scenery of wilderness.

Eyvind of the Hills is one very memorable protagonist so well played by Victor Sjostrom. He not only directed this movie beautifully, but also gave a strong performance and that dual presence is felt strongly and he is the biggest reason why the film is so great. Edith Erastoff is also pretty good as Halla and they are great together. Such a wonderful romance develops between the two and the final scene is heartwarming.

The Outlaw and His Wife is a simply gorgeous film that features one of the best technical aspects of any silent film. I am not just talking about the direction, but also about editing which is deft and tight and the film moves quite smoothly. The first half wasn’t as great as the second one was and it did not introduce me to its characters all that well, but the second half fixed that and was a terrific viewing experience.

The cinematography is just stunning. Yes, it is one of the first films to use nature extensively in its narrative, but it is also a character here in and of itself and is very important in the shaping of its main characters.

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The Outlaw and His Wife Movie Review

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But it is just so beautiful to look at. I loved the mountains and this one was majestic and dangerous. That spring was one of the highlights for me, but I loved every scene where we see the mountain imagery and of course the ending with its harsh winter cold is the perfect finale for this story.

I liked its story, I liked how it ended and I admired that it did not involve as much melodrama as was usual for the period. It truly is a remarkable film, refreshing for its time, even artistic and groundbreaking in narrative and in scenery. It’s one of the biggest classics of the first decade for features.

The Outlaw and His Wife is one of the best films of the 1910s thanks to Victor Sjostrom’s great dual role as a director and actor, a strong story and characterization, many memorable and striking scenes and of course fantastic cinematography with gorgeous mountain imagery.

My Rating – 4.5

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Cries and Whispers (1972)

Cries and Whispers Movie Review

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Cries and Whispers Movie Review

Cries and Whispers is a 1972 Swedish drama film directed by Ingmar Bergman and starring Harriet Andersson. It is his most overrated film.

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It is early Monday morning and I am in pain

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Cries and Whispers Movie Review

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This truly is the worst example of everything that is bad and pretentious in Bergman’s films. The story here with the sisters watching their third sister on her deathbed certainly had potential, but it was executed in such a blatantly pretentious manner that any momentum was lost.

Some say it is a horror, but to me it is just a movie that is filled with ridiculous actions by these women, some are silly and others are disgusting, but most are unbelievable. The performances are certainly strong, there is no denying that, but they could not help overcome the mediocrity of these characters.

Everyone talks about how Cries and Whispers is wonderfully shot. I totally disagree. To me the cinematography here is of the worst kind, yes I am serious. By using red in the most expected scenes, Bergman manages to dumb down the entire movie and I don’t know why the critics think this is super smart when in reality it is the most simplistic use of color ever in a film. Even Disney’s use of blue for good and red for bad is more complex than this simplicity.

This is one of those movies that are all about psychology, this time about the female psyche as Bergman was for some reason obsessed with women. But this is a much weaker woman’s picture than an already very overrated ‘Persona’ as the women here are unlikable, unrealistic and the psychology here is thoroughly stupid and the movie is your typical self-proclaimed “artistic and smart masterpiece”.

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Cries and Whispers Movie Review

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It was somehow nominated for five Academy Awards which is a rarity for foreign films. I am baffled at why the Academy choose to honor this movie out of many other truly great foreign films. Almost every of its nominations is awful with Picture and Director being the most undeserved and the cinematography winning is just a horrible choice.

Cries and Whispers is Bergman’s most overrated and worst film that shows all of his worst tendencies such as a pretentious approach and story which is otherwise not at all smart, unbelievable and ridiculous actions by its unlikable characters, bullshit psychology plus the use of color is so simplistic that the Academy’s choice to honor this cinematography is just baffling to me.

My Rating – 2

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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970)

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Movie Review

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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Movie Review

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is a 1970 Italian drama film directed by Vittorio de Sica. It is an overrated film for sure.

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Children are usually prisoners to grownups

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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Movie Review

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Nothing about its plot interested me whatsoever. It is basically a historical piece set in the years leading up to World War II. I’ve seen this type of thing countless times before and its tale of anti-Semitism and friendship never really brought anything new to the table. The movie definitely has its sweet and even charming scenes, but is mostly a harmless, but pretty forgettable and uninspired effort from a great director.

Yes, it is weird that Vittorio de Sica made this film as it doesn’t have the strength of his other works which is probably because this is one of his last films. And that tiredness definitely shows in the finished product. The film is solidly directed and solidly acted, but never great in either of those areas.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is actually very well filmed and the titular garden and most of the imagery and shots were actually pretty good. The film is cozy for sure. But it relied way too heavily on relationships and sex and I just did not care for these people and their convoluted relationships thus did nothing for me.

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The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Movie Review

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It is one of those great examples of how books and films are just too different in style and execution. I almost immediately knew that this was based on a book and of course I was right. There are just too many characters here and none of them are properly developed, there are also way too many plot points and the storyline is not all that exciting and is too convoluted but in an unnecessary manner.

This material may have been great for a book, but it was never fitting for a film and no matter how well de Sica made it, he never managed to overcome that huge hurdle. The film is definitely very overrated as it did not deserve its Oscar at all.

The Garden of the Finzi-Continis is well made and filmed with some charming scenes, but is one of the most forgettable foreign Oscar winners thanks to a plot that was just never a material for a film, quite dull characters and a very boring execution.

My Rating – 3

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