The Illusionist (2006)

The Illusionist Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Illusionist Movie Review

The Illusionist is a 2006 historical fantasy romance mystery film directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton. It is a pleasantly old-fashioned film.

………………………………………………….

Everything you have seen here has been an illusion

………………………………………………….

The Illusionist Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Yes, this film is a very unique mix of genres. It is above all else a mystery, a historical mystery set in 1889 Vienna but it also has very strong romantic and fantastical elements as his “illusions” are never properly explained and are thus to me fantasy. It achieves that awesome mix really well while also being stupendously traditional in its approach. They just don’t make mysteries like this anymore and this is one of the rare examples that sometimes these can happen so naturally I liked every second of it.

It follows a romance between a magician and his childhood sweetheart but eventually she disappears after the fight she had with her set to be husband Prince Leopold. The mystery of what happened to her and who killed her is actually very intriguing and I wanted so badly to see it resolved that I found the ending itself not that rewarding.

It was actually a really solid twist and a fine conclusion, but it came off as awfully rushed which was to be expected owing to the film’s oddly established structure. Basically you get the mystery around an hour and ten minute mark and the movie’s runtime is about an hour and forty five minutes. So the first half is way too prolonged and the second half is awfully rushed when that mystery should have been emphasized and elongated much more.

………………………………………………….

The Illusionist Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Edward Norton is quite good in The Illusionist, but not great and another actor maybe would have done a better job. Jessica Biel is solid in her role and Rufus Sewell is not that great as Prince Leopold. I also had a big problem with him acting guilty in the scene with an inspector. It was an obvious method to distract the audience from the actual solution. And in my opinion Paul Giamatti was by far the highlight here in such a great, complex role as an inspector and he gave such a strong, evocative performance in terms of emotion and facial expressions.

My favorite scenes are the ending which was rushed but very interesting and all of the magical scenes were naturally a lot of fun and visually arresting. The scenes with Paul Giamatti, all of them, are magnificent and he is the standout actor and character here. But the very best sequence is the mystery itself which was so gorgeously filmed and in such an intriguing, authentic manner as the viewpoint is that of a neighbor and thus we as the audience look through his eyes at this odd incident. Very clever and offbeat.

………………………………………………….

The Illusionist Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The Illusionist is beautifully shot and gorgeous in both cinematography and costumes as well as the interiors. It looks and sounds good with a pretty good score, but pacing is just all over the place and in my opinion the direction from Neil Burger is very weak and a bigger, better director would have made a difference for sure. But it is still a pleasing, very engaging film that mostly did work.

The Illusionist has problematic pacing, the direction from Neil Burger is quite weak and the structure of the film is very odd as the mystery begins only at the half-mark and thus the first half is prolonged and the second one is awfully rushed. However, this is still such a pleasing, wonderfully old-fashioned mix of genres with the fantastical elements being intriguing and a mystery being very well thought out and fascinating. The movie also looks and sounds good with pretty good performances among which Paul Giamatti stole the show with such a terrific performance in such a great role.

My Rating – 4

Share

The Piano (1993)

The Piano Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Piano Movie Review

The Piano is a 1993 New Zealand historical romance film directed by Jane Campion and starring Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel and Anna Paquin. It is an extremely overrated movie.

………………………………………………….

Undo your dress. I want to see your arms. Play. Two keys

………………………………………………….

The Piano Movie Review

………………………………………………….

It is about a mute piano player who tries to regain her piano after it is sold. She is in a loveless arranged marriage, but meets another man and the two start a passionate romance. I honestly found the story not all that interesting to begin with and, needless to say, not particularly authentic. Its mid-19th century period and the setting of New Zealand make the difference, but other than that, it is a regular story.

My main problem with The Piano is that it is not romantic. At least it wasn’t for me. It relies too much on erotic scenes and those scenes weren’t as erotic or as romantic as the movie thinks they are. Everyone talks about how incredibly romantic and sweet the film is, but I never felt anything whatsoever and to me it the atmosphere was too cold to make me feel anything.

There are some good scenes such as the ending and some of the piano scenes were quite wonderful, but most of it was honestly not great. The cutting of the finger plot point was unnecessary and too gruesome and the film was obvious in its storyline and character relationships from beginning to end and highly predictable.

………………………………………………….

The Piano Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This may be the most controversial thing about my review, but I have to be honest and I have to say that even the acting is overrated. I don’t mean to say that these actors were bad, they were definitely quite good, but to me not as great as the showering praise they received would make you think.

Holly Hunter gave the best performance, but her character is too underdeveloped to lead to an amazing performance. So it wasn’t her fault, but the character’s fault. And that is why I don’t blame the actors as the character development here is quite weak. Harvey Keitel is fine in a different role for him, but not great. Sam Neill is typical and Anna Paquin did a good, but not great job and I just really disliked her character. She betrayed her mother and that was just glossed over which was to me highly problematic.

………………………………………………….

The Piano Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The Piano is definitely well shot, but mostly too dark and its atmosphere is too depressing. The film is well edited and paced, but it was still boring to me in its first half and I found some of the scenes in the second half rushed. It is well scored, but the direction from Campion is quite weak. It got eight Oscar nominations and three wins. The actresses deserved the nominations, but not the wins. And all of the other non-technical nominations were not deserved at all. It is one of the most overrated films from this period.

The Piano is the definition of an overrated movie which is okay, but far from great and I just don’t get the praise that it gets. Almost everything here is just okay and even the acting is not great and Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin did not deserve their Oscars. All of the performances are fine, but not great as the character development is so weak and most of the characters are unlikable. It is a well shot and scored film, but I just never felt anything as it was too cold for me so it utterly fails as a romance. It is a quasi-romantic, quasi-artistic film.

My Rating – 3

Share

Lady and the Tramp (1955)

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

Lady and the Tramp is a 1955 animated romance film which is the 15th Disney animated feature film. It is a classic film which is flawed, but immensely charming.

………………………………………………….

Now, here you are-a, the best-a spaghetti in-a town

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The story here is, like most dog pictures, animated or not, pretty straightforward and simple, but it serves its purpose and is a joy to watch. There is sometimes a lack of goal and the pacing can be slow as it drags at some parts, but the protagonists more than make up for it. They are incredible, both their relationship and their evident chemistry. Their romantic sequences are the highlight of the film.

There is the spaghetti scene which is incredibly romantic and simply charming with a wonderful animation and propelled by an outstanding song. It is inarguably the most famous scene in the whole film and one of the most iconic romantic moments in film history. Everything about that scene from the visuals to the setting to the characters to the music is perfect. The movie just stops there and leaves you overwhelmed with emotion and charm.

But the scene where Tramp shows her the town and the opposing theme of life with humans versus life in the wild is greatly explored here and is such a great look at those very different types of lifestyles. It is a standout scene with charming animation that works both as a plot device and a character study.

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Lady’s interaction with the humans is also very well done. From the moment she arrives, the first night where she does not want to sleep alone up until the changes in her life when the baby arrives, all those things are realistic and done in a great manner. And her intention to save the baby from the rat is very endearing and heartwarming as well as her naming of her owners. The film does dogs really well from the movements to the behavior. It shows why they are so beloved and that is why this film is one of the essential dog pictures for dog owners and why upon more viewings and after having dogs myself, I appreciate it much more than before.

The third act is definitely too bombastic and they did not need to add all that tension when the film’s simplicity was so elegant before. And the rat was ridiculously villainous. But there are some great scenes in there with Jock and Trusty and the finale was beyond sweet.

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The zoo sequence is definitely a detour as it dragged way too much and it has animals that are all dated stereotypes in their representation. The beaver is typical and forgettable and scenes such as this really weigh the movie down in my opinion.

The characters in this movie are mostly well developed, especially the protagonists. Lady is very kind, romantic, caring and of course, as the name suggests, very ladylike and polite which is thanks to her being raised by humans. Tramp is very friendly, cunning and of course mischievous and laid-back, the qualities he earned from living on the streets. Their juxtaposition is typical of romantic comedies but timeless and with the fun twist that they are dogs.

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Jock and Trusty are the sidekicks here and their care for Lady and their friendship is very endearing. They can be repetitive and too old-fashioned, but still highly likable. As for the human characters, they serve their purpose, but the dogs are the focus here. But Tony as this Italian guy who befriends Tramp and gives him food is wonderful and I liked him a lot. As for Aunt Sarah, she’s your typical old lady who hates dogs.

Si and Am are the Siamese cats and they are probably the worst part in this movie thanks to their annoying voice and song and very racist overtones. They are clearly meant to be some sort of villains here because the movie has no real villains and that is perfectly fine because it does not need one (and the addition of these two as well as the rat at the end was obviously unnecessary), but those two are awful, especially nowadays because every Asian and of course cat owner could (and should) easily get offended by them.

The animation in Lady and the Tramp is still nowhere near the quality of that of ‘Pinocchio’ or ‘Snow White’, but it is still one of Disney’s best owing to some incredibly beautiful and artistic sequences including a wonderful stylistic opening. It is colorful, but not garish, with great outdoors cinematography as well as excellent character design.

……………………………………………..…..

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is the kind of hand-drawn animation that is honestly timeless in quality, very artistic and highly effervescent in style which accompanies the mood of the film so well. Bella Notte scene and the night sequences are just gorgeous whereas the winter opening seems to be coming from a beautiful postcard. And the CinemaScope widescreen format definitely led to a different looking, authentic film experience.

The score is overly loud and repetitive for my taste, but the songs are solid. What is a Baby/La La Lu is just a plot device and not much of a song although that scene where Lady is intrigued by the newly arrived baby is definitely one of the film’s most wonderful moments.

Peace on Earth is a solid opening for the film and it has such a charming, old-fashioned Christmas spirit to it. The Siamese Cat Song is very annoying. I already criticized this scene a lot so I am not going to repeat myself, but I will just say that the song itself is also highly annoying in tune and with awful voices.

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

He’s a Tramp is definitely catchy as well as a great plot device. It is a very amusing scene which is pretty risqué for a children’s film and honestly quite funny too. The tune itself is really well sung by Peggy Lee and quite memorable and hilariously seductive with a good use of barking as backup vocals.

Bella Notte is arguably a classic Disney song, beautifully sung and very romantic. It is the standout scene in the movie which I talked about before, but the song itself is gorgeously sung with such a strong voice and I loved the classic opera feel to it. It is the most traditional of all Disney songs and certainly one of the best from this period. A beautiful ballad.

So the soundtrack is solid but more along the lines of the movies from the same decade, notably ‘Peter Pan’, and nowhere near as close to something like ‘Snow White’ or later Renaissance films. But the songs do not matter here as there is no strong emphasis on them which is evident in their small quantity.

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Lady and the Tramp is weakly paced, but well directed with excellent voice acting and with pretty strong dialogue and although the humor is sometimes repetitive and too innocent, it was mostly solid nonetheless with some amusing moments. The film is simplistic, elegant and the charm is off the roof in this one. It is the kind of movie most suited for dog owners and children and its somewhat limited appeal led to it being one of the better, but not the best Disney films.

Lady and the Tramp is a very flawed, but still immensely charming and wonderfully romantic Disney classic. The pacing is problematic, some scenes felt like detours and the third act employed unnecessary tension and conflict. But the animation is one of Disney’s best with many absolutely gorgeous, even artistic sequences and the soundtrack is pretty solid with He’s a Tramp being amusing and Bella Notte being such a beautiful ballad which accompanies one of the most iconic romantic scenes in film history. In the end, this is a film most suited for dog owners as it is a definitive classic for them owing to its very realistic portrayal of dogs’ movements and behavior and a pretty detailed look into their lives.

My Rating – 4

Share

7th Heaven (1927)

7th Heaven Movie Review

…………………………………………………

7th Heaven Movie Review

7th Heaven is a 1927 silent romance film directed by Frank Borzage and starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. It’s a wonderful, classic movie.

………………………………………………….

You mustn’t be afraid. I’m never afraid.

Never look down – Always look up.

I always look up. That’s why I’m a very remarkable fellow!

………………………………………………….

7th Heaven Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I really like this film and it is one of quite a high number of films that prove how extraordinary 1927 film year was. This is one of the better romances that I’ve seen as it is such an enjoyable, immensely romantic tale of the relationship between an abused prostitute and a low-class worker.

The film is set in 1910s Paris and the reason why it is a great, but flawed movie lies almost entirely in its ending. So basically he goes to war (WWI) and that was a typical, not particularly engaging development and afterwards she gets the word that he’s dead, but he eventually comes back and they reunite. Needless to say, this felt unbelievable, overly melodramatic and maudlin to the point of being ridiculous.

But that is the only big flaw in an otherwise stellar picture. The film features such likable, endearing characters and that is why I felt their connection as they are so charming together. This is in no small part due to a great chemistry and interactions between its two stars.

Charles Farrell deserves more respect as nobody talks about him whereas everybody talks about Gaynor. He is very charming and charismatic here owing to his very good performance as well as his good looks. But of course Janet Gaynor steals the show and this was surely an amazing year for her (‘Sunrise’ is also her movie). She is endearing and she played the part so well that I bought the transition in her character. Both of them were great and especially superb when together.

………………………………………………….

7th Heaven Movie Review

………………………………………………….

7th Heaven is a gorgeous movie technically speaking. It features absolutely amazing, accomplished set design and that staircase climb is one of the most visually striking sequences in all of silent cinema. The way the camera moves there to follow the action is breathtaking. Ernest Palmer’s cinematography here is simply stunning.

The direction from Frank Borzage is terrific and he surely did a magnificent job here. The score in the version I’ve watched was also excellent and I have to say that the intertitles were my cup of tea here. Not too sparse or overused, but just the right amount and with pretty good dialogue. Certainly some lines were too cheesy, but some were beautiful. The film is also very well paced, it flows so well and is engaging from the first to the last moment. It is such a charming, old-fashioned romance that anyone can enjoy it.

My favorite scenes apart from the aforementioned staircase scene are the first meeting of the two as it was very well done, the wedding dress scene is wonderful and of course the standout is the entire scene where she arrives and their scenes in the apartment were all phenomenal. I loved the view, I loved the interiors and its set design really contributed to such a romantic atmosphere within the film.

………………………………………………….

7th Heaven Movie Review

………………………………………………….

7th Heaven was the most nominated film at the 1st Academy Awards with five nominations. Gaynor won for Best Actress and that was much deserved as she had an awesome year there. I wouldn’t say that directing and writing wins were deserved, but I don’t mind as the script and direction here truly are excellent. And the nods for Picture and Art Direction were also highly deserved.

7th Heaven is one of the most visually dazzling and accomplished silent movies with superb direction from Frank Borzage and absolutely gorgeous set design as those wonderful sets really contribute a lot to the film’s romantic atmosphere. It has many unforgettable scenes with the staircase climb sequence being the visual highlight. Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell are both wonderful here and this is such a beautiful, immensely romantic movie that not even its overly melodramatic, maudlin ending could hurt it.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Tangled (2010)

Tangled Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Tangled Movie Review

Tangled is a 2010 animated musical fantasy film directed by Byron Howard. It is Disney’s 50th feature film and probably their finest modern effort.

………………………………………………….

Go. Live your dream.

I will.

Your dream stinks. I was talking to her

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This is the story about Rapunzel, but it of course differs from the original fairy tale as is usual for Disney. The storytelling here is excellent, the film felt like a fairy tale, much more so than most modern fairy tale films, and most importantly, it was very charming and incredibly entertaining to watch. It is engaging from the first to the last moment and it just flies by how fun and wonderful it is.

Tangled is the kind of Disney film that I like and I want. This is the movie that Disney would not make anymore as they unfortunately moved to more modern flicks which are not as great as this one because they are not as warm or as timeless. Tangled mixes the old with the new even better than what ‘The Princess and the Frog’ did.

I will later talk about the diverse animation, but in terms of pure storytelling, this is classic Disney 101 and something that we did not get after this movie unfortunately. You have a fantasy and you have modern action set pieces and more modern humor, but you also got a wonderful romance at the center of it and most importantly – magic. It is an enchanting, gorgeous film above anything else.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Let’s talk about each of its great characters and yes, they are excellent and the characterization here is truly phenomenal. First off, Rapunzel. Wow, I adore her! Honestly, she is my favorite Disney Princess after ‘The Little Mermaid’s Ariel and I adore Ariel. What a wonderful character and a textbook example of why this movie is better than overrated ‘Frozen’ or ‘Moana’.

Rapunzel is never a feminist character who doesn’t need a man. She gets her man and she gets her romance, but she remains incredibly strong and a positive role model nonetheless. She is bright and energetic, spunky at times and immensely charismatic and charming. I love her and she is the heart and soul of this film. She represents the greatness of the concept of a Disney Princess.

Flynn Rider isn’t as great, I have to say. He reminded me too much of Aladdin. However, he is still very funny, very charismatic and ultimately a very memorable, competent Disney Prince. His change in heart is typical, but done really well. The romance between the two is honestly probably my favorite Disney romance ever, they are quite possibly the best couple out of them all. They dislike each other at first, but eventually become friends and then partners. This all sounds familiar, but the execution is so good that it doesn’t matter. The interactions between them are top-notch and very modern. Again the mix between modern and old-fashioned is put to great use in their relationship.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

This film doesn’t have that too many characters which is great as those that we do get are so well developed. The entire Snuggly Duckling pub bunch was a lot of fun and they were very endearing. As for Maximus, he is honestly a bit overrated and your typical over-the-top Disney sidekick that was meant to bring in the vast audiences. He is still good and at times quite hilarious with his humor, but he behaved too much and too obviously like a dog. Pascal was honestly the better of the two as this wonderful chameleon pet of Rapunzel’s. His facial expressions were priceless and I like that both of them are mute.

Now, Mother Gothel. Oh, where do I even start with her. She is one incredibly manipulative and extremely intelligent woman. How she tricked Rapunzel was brilliant and every plan she orchestrated fully worked and she never, ever made a single mistake. She is a big presence in the movie and a force to be reckoned with. The exploration of domestic abuse is actually quite strong here and brave to do for Disney. Without any doubt, she is one of the best Disney villains of all time and one of the most underrated ones.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Tangled features such a unique, different and ultimately refreshing type of animation. Yes, this is computer animation and the characters are your typical CGI characters. However, the film also includes hand-drawn animation into its mix and the results are more than stellar. Probably because it is too difficult to do and thus they did not do this again, but this proved how potent the mix of these two mediums could be as they complimented each other so well with both of their strengths. The backgrounds were particularly effective in recreating the fairy tale, historical feel to it with the influence being the wonderful paintings from Jean-Honore Fragonard. The film is rich in detail, fluid in execution and enchanting and unique in its style.

Tangled is a fantasy romance, but also a musical. It has only five songs, but I have to say that this soundtrack is very underrated and actually better than ‘Frozen’s soundtrack as it doesn’t rely on just one musical number. So let me comment upon each of the numbers.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Healing Incantation is short, but enchanting and it works in the context of the story so well. I loved that for once Disney utilized singing actually as a power which was interesting and smartly convenient. I loved all of the hair’s properties and how it looked. I forgot to mention above, but her hair was so difficult to pull off that they employed a new program for it and thus the film became the biggest budgeted animated film in history which is quite interesting.

When Will My Life Begin? is easily the weakest song in this soundtrack, I have to say. It does work as the “I wonder” princess song, but it is still too forgettable, too much like a modern pop song and although the sequence showcases her hobbies and talents extensively, the song itself is bland.

Mother Knows Best is a Broadway number in style, the one that uses that style the most here. It isn’t catchy and it isn’t great, but it works for Mother Gothel and is a very good vehicle for her manipulations and her deceiving character. It is in the end one of the better Disney villain songs.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I’ve Got a Dream is so entertaining! It is the kind of song that we haven’t seen a long time from the studio, the one in which sidekicks sing and it is meant to be one giant, fun, endearing affair. It showcases the heart and quirks of each of its characters and is one of the most purely enjoyable and lovable scenes in the flick. The lyrics are excellent and the song is funny and catchy.

I See the Light is naturally the standout song here. It is too modern, yes. But it does have very good, fitting lyrics for the characters and story. It is beautifully song, it is a grand romantic duet the likes of which we haven’t seen since ‘Aladdin’ and it is both catchy and sweet. It was accompanied by the movie’s most romantic and visually gorgeous sequence which just transfixed me in the state of awe just like some of the company’s best movies have a tendency to do.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Some of the problems of the movie include an overreliance on humor and sometimes a tendency to replicate ‘Shrek’ a bit too much in its style. Actually the humor is frequently excellent and sometimes laugh out loud funny (“Oh look, you’re here too” and “Your Dream stinks. I was talking to her” instantly come to mind), but the movie was the best when it was less funny and less contemporary. And its beginning and ending offered a somewhat annoying voice over narration.

So I stated that the lanterns sequence is one of the best as is the pub one. My other favorites include the cave scene and that action set piece in the canyon. The film has too much action at times, but this one set piece was absolutely magnificent and so well thought out. And of course I loved the ending which was beautifully made and incredibly touching and timeless in its silent approach. Watching her reunite with her parents was heartfelt.

………………………………………………….

Tangled Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The voice acting is very good with both Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi being excellent while Donna Murphy was suitably menacing and dark. The pacing and direction are both pretty good as is the dialogue with a lot of funny lines. All in all, it is the best Disney Revival film for me.

With gorgeous and very unique animation that mixes traditional and computer animation with the style of Jean-Honore Fragonard’s paintings, a very good soundtrack with a couple of terrific songs such as I See the Light and I’ve Got a Dream and many memorable, heartfelt moments, Tangled truly is a modern Disney classic. It is touching, it is also very funny and highly romantic and enchanting. But the reason why it works so well lies in its characters: Rapunzel is so wonderful and one of my favorite Disney Princesses, Flynn Rider is a lot of fun and Mother Gothel is so menacing, manipulative and smart that she’s one of Disney’s finest villains. It is ultimately the best Disney movie of the 21st century so far and so much better than either ‘Zootopia’ or ‘Frozen’.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Whisper of the Heart (1995)

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

Whisper of the Heart is a 1995 romantic drama anime film directed by Yoshifumi Kondo. It is one of the best films that Studio Ghibli has to offer and one of my personal favorites.

………………………………………………….

It’s not easy to live your own way. You can’t blame anyone but yourself

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Let’s first talk about the story. The movie is interesting for being one of the rare Ghibli films with no fantasy elements whatsoever. The Baron fantasy sequences were actually figments of imagination of the main character. They are fantastical, but not real. Still, those were wonderful and they complimented the storyline really well. They are a textbook example of how animation can sometimes suit the genre of drama much better than its live-action counterpart.

This is a wonderful movie which is exceedingly romantic and sweet. I just adored it and watching it was such a beautiful experience for me. The romance between the two is exceptional and it develops at the perfect pace. The entire story with how they meet and how they were reading the same books was just so romantic and wonderful that I ate it up.

But whereas Whisper of the Heart succeeds incredibly as a teen romance, it succeeds even more as a pure drama. And what drama this is! Honestly, this was the deepest and most thought-provoking film I’ve seen in quite a while. I saw this movie around five years ago, but I am more mature now, so I respect it much more upon second viewing.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I am currently at the most unpredictable and dangerous moment in my life. I am trying to find a job online, but it is moving at a slow progression and I am very anxious about finishing faculty so this movie was just perfect for me. I watched it at the most perfect time possible and thus I connected with its characters enormously.

It is a very smart, incredibly sophisticated story about two teenagers who chase their dreams but are yet not ready for a job. The line from Shizuko’s father about high school was pitch-perfect in its honesty and truthfulness – you can follow a different path than the default one given to you by your country and the entire world, but that path is going to be incredibly difficult and it is in the end not worth it. It is a sad, terrible truth that the movie made clear and with that I am struggling in my life right now.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

And another great line is how wanting to do something is not the same as preparing constantly and bettering yourself so that you can manage to get that job and secure your future. Life is difficult and getting a job and growing up is so hard and Whisper of the Heart gets that and is probably the most honest teen movie out of all of them as it teaches us those great messages in a very urgent manner.

Let’s finally talk about these characters, these great characters. Surely the parents are sweet and respectful and Yuko is a great friend to our main heroine, but honestly this movie is mostly just about Shizuko and Seiji and that was great. It’s a phenomenal chamber drama in a way. He is at first a bit too unlikable in a forced way, but he became much more likable and sweet later on and of course their relationship is very strong and heartwarming.

But Shizuko is amazing and I loved her. She is one of Ghibli’s finest heroines as she is so well developed and although a good girl, she isn’t overly kind and she seemed very realistic to me. Her troubles are so well established and her interactions with everyone were top-notch, but it is her love for books that was awesome to witness, her wild imagination was beautiful and her constant struggle with herself and her own dreams led to such a terrific character development and complex dilemmas.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart is gorgeously animated! The character animation and designs are nothing spectacular, but the landscapes are excellent and for once we got a Ghibli movie set in a city. That was refreshing to see and Tokyo is perfectly animated. I loved that final scene which was gorgeous and of course the antique toy shop is the visual highlight as it is superbly detailed and immensely charming. The movie is not fantastical, but it compensates that with an astonishing attention to detail to everyday objects and the city itself.

The movie is superbly voice cast and the acting was excellent. Yoko Honna was just marvelous in a great role. As I said before, the dialogue is phenomenal and the script itself is absolutely spectacular. It favors drama and emotion over spectacle and fun and that was very refreshing. It is in line with ‘Only Yesterday’ as these two are two realistic, contemporary dramas rarely seen in animation and both are some of my favorites from the studio, both honestly quite underrated.

I do realize that the final scene was a bit too sentimental and it surely was overly emotional, but I still liked it, especially for its gorgeous setting and animation. The score is fantastic and Take Me Home, Country Roads is one my favorite songs of all time and seeing how it was a perfect theme for the movie only further strengthened my love for it.

………………………………………………….

Whisper of the Heart Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The fantastical sequences should have been shorter and sometimes the movie struggled with its pacing, but it was mostly top-notch in terms of both technical aspects and story/characters/emotion. I loved the shop and the cat, the grandpa was wonderful and my favorite scenes were the ones in the antique shop and the library. A very charming, atmospheric movie this is.

With superb character development and one of the studio’s finest heroines, wonderful animation fueled by a meticulous attention to detail, a perfect use of one of my favorite songs and a top-notch script, Whisper of the Heart truly is one of the best Ghibli movies and one of my personal favorites as I connected with it on so many levels. Thematically rich and incredibly smart and truthful in dialogue and its statements, the movie speaks to me on a personal level. Gorgeous in its romance and deep in its drama, you just can’t get a better animated teen drama than this one.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Time After Time (1979)

Time After Time Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Time After Time Movie Review

Time After Time is a 1979 science fiction romance film directed by Nicholas Meyer and starring Malcolm McDowell. It is such a good, underrated genre flick.

………………………………………………….

We don’t belong here.

On the contrary, Herbert.

I belong here completely and utterly.

I’m home

………………………………………………….

Time After Time Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I really liked this movie. The plot is so silly, but it works honestly. H. G. Wells, a famous British author, builds a time machine, but unfortunately Jack the Ripper uses it first to enter into the 20th century and now it is up to Wells to stop him. There, he befriends and ultimately beings a romantic relationship with a modern woman.

The thing with this movie is that it is most definitely a romance at its core as much as it is a science fiction film. This is light sci-fi, almost fantasy like, as it is thoroughly unrealistic and simplistic, but I liked it nonetheless as it was so well executed and in such an effervescent, pleasing manner. But the romance sells the movie in my opinion as it is so incredibly strong, stupendously so as it came out of nowhere and really made a splash and difference.

Wells is such a well developed, extremely likable character and this portrayal of this famous author is heroic, yet respectable. Amy Robbins is such a wonderful character. She isn’t extremely strong and independent, but for the seventies, she is very strong and that juxtaposition of these two very different characters is familiar by now, but it works because it is so well developed and their romance truly was touching and wonderful.

………………………………………………….

Time After Time Movie Review

………………………………………………….

There are basically three characters in this movie, the three that matter anyway and I loved that as it led to greater characterization. Jack the Ripper is truly fantastic as he was very creepy at times and ultimately such a superb, effective villain and a great take on this famous killer.

But no matter how terrific these three characters are, I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of their actors. They are not A-listers and it shows. All three of them did a good job admittedly, but none of them stood out as great and sometimes they brought the characters down with them just a bit.

Rotten Tomatoes states that “they are clearly having fun in their roles”, but in my opinion they were enjoying the roles too much and thus the performances are not as serious. Malcolm McDowell did the best he could, but he’s still far from great. Mary Steenburgen was also not great and David Warner sometimes sold his scenes entirely, but at other times he wasn’t as good.

Time After Time also is weakly directed by Nicholas Meyer, but other than the direction, the film is actually very well shot and superbly realized in effects as that time machine looks great for its time and its very early use of computer effects was quite stupendous for 1979.

………………………………………………….

Time After Time Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The dialogue is excellent, snappy and funny at times, elegant and polished at other times. The film really does feel that it has two 19th century Englishmen in it owing to excellent attention to detail both in hairstyles and clothing, but also in dialogue and line delivery. And most importantly the score which is amazing how wonderfully traditional it is.

The film is romantic and sweet, but also really thrilling at times. I did not like its climactic ending all that well, but I liked that the two ended up together, I loved all of the scenes between the two and the beginning is very charming as was the whole film which certainly needs to be seen by more people.

Time After Time has weaker acting and direction plus the ending was not my favorite. However, this is still a very good sci-fi romance film with three superbly developed characters, a lovely romance that worked so well and a really well crafted, hugely entertaining story. It is so charming both in its wonderfully old-fashioned score and in dialogue that I’ve had a great time watching it.

My Rating – 4

Share

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

…………………………………………………

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a 1947 fantasy romance film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison. It is such a beautiful movie.

………………………………………………….

You must make your own life amongst the living and,

whether you meet fair winds or foul,

find your own way to harbor in the end

………………………………………………….

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The story is great and it is something that only could have been made during the forties as they were really into ghost stories during this decade. A young widow comes to a haunted house and there she befriends a ghost seaman. Eventually the two develop feelings for each other and that leads to many obvious problems.

The highlight was that beautiful third act. I rarely love the endings from the forties that portray a passage of time, but this one was done really well and it told us surprisingly quite a lot given that we only get a handful of scenes over a great period of time. Great writing right there. And the finale is indescribably beautiful and perfect, I loved it!

But I also loved the film’s exploration of different genres. It is atmospheric at first, sort of like a horror film, then it delves into comedy for a couple of scenes with some really funny banter between the two and it eventually leads to heartbreaking and at last heartwarming drama. But it is above all a fantasy romance and rarely have the two genres coalesced so perfectly into each other as evidenced here.

………………………………………………….

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

………………………………………………….

Rex Harrison definitely gave a very typical voice here, but still he was very charismatic and highly likable. I really enjoyed him and his performance. George Sanders was typically typecast here and I honestly really disliked his role and his part of the story as it was obvious from the first moment how it would end and it came as sort of a detour to the film, a rushed and unnecessary detour. That is the only thing I disliked in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Mrs. Muir herself is great and such a fine character so wonderfully portrayed by Gene Tierley. This has to be her career finest performance as I have never seen her be this great. She is beautiful and the camera surely does love her, but she is also very competent in the role, very complex and ultimately she gave possibly the year’s best female performance.

The relationship between the two is just wonderful. This is one of the rare romances that honestly gave me the feels. I rooted for the two end up together so strongly which is a rarity for me, but the writing and the dialogue are so good and their relationship is so sweet that I fell in love with both of them almost immediately. It is one of the best love stories from this period without any doubt, it’s both moving and timeless in quality while also being fueled by its fantasy aspect to give it that extra layer of awesomeness. It is a better movie than ‘Ghost’ in my opinion.

………………………………………………….

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir Movie Review

………………………………………………….

As I said above, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is so well written and having some excellent lines of dialogue and great quotes, but above all it is superbly directed by one of my favorite directors Joseph L. Mankiewicz and he excelled here and gave this movie such a polished feel. The cinematography is simply stunning and it led to the only Academy Award nomination for the movie (ridiculous).  I loved the house, the effects and the beach scenes were the best. And the score is so incredibly moving and atmospheric in quality that it fuels the more emotional scenes to even greater heights.

Beautifully scored, gorgeously shot, so well directed and fueled by Gene Tierney’s wonderful, powerhouse performance, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is an underrated, marvelous fantasy romance that I simply adored. It is so well written and it has such a beautiful ending, but its romance is so elegant and lovable that I was fully invested in it. It shifts genres so well and it is such a moving, even poetic film that really needs to be appreciated more.

My Rating – 4.5

Share

Bucking Broadway (1917)

Bucking Broadway Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Bucking Broadway Movie Review

Bucking Broadway is a 1917 western romance film directed by John Ford and starring Harry Carey. It is a solid, but very flawed movie.

………………………………………………….

Helen and I, we’d like to get married

………………………………………………….

Bucking Broadway Movie Review

………………………………………………….

First let’s get the negatives out of the way. A girl leaves the cowboy for a rich city slicker but eventually realizes that she has made a mistake and gets back to him. How many times have we seen this exact scenario played out in the movie? Countless is the answer.

This triangle was boring and the story is beyond slight and melodramatic. I was definitely not a fan of it despite it having some really wonderful romantic scenes that I liked. I wished that it had more of that instead of a cliched melodrama.

Bucking Broadway is apparently restored to full length, but I do not buy that. The film feels ridiculously rushed at times and I do not blame the movie, but I honestly think that some segments are missing. I am most positive of that.

So let’s get to the good stuff. Although the characters are highly typical and regular, the actors are anything but. Harry Carey is very memorable in the main role and quite sympathetic whereas Molly Malone also gave a surprisingly strong, subtle performance. Overacting was not present here which is admirable given that this is 1917 we are talking about.

The film has a wonderful romance and I loved that gift he gives her and the significance of it and the ending was nice, although that fight was getting on my nerves how silly it felt, not to mention overlong.

……………………………….…………………

Bucking Broadway Movie Review

…………………………………………..……..

Bucking Broadway looks beautiful thanks to stunning cinematography. Really, some of the shots here were just amazing to behold and it truly felt like a glorious early western with beautiful desert landscapes. It was all the more great watching it in HD. I also liked its spare use of intertitles and I have to commend John Ford for his abilities. He was only 23 years old during this year and this was one of his first movies and he just knocked it out of the park completely with such a superb, competent direction and this movie truly signaled the arrival of a great director.

Bucking Broadway’s overly familiar and cliched story, a melodramatic approach and typical characters do not take away from how gorgeous its cinematography is and how terrific the direction is. It has its romantic and lovely moments, but mostly this was just a solid film that still brilliantly signaled the arrival of John Ford who really excelled here.

My Rating – 3.5

………………………………………………….

Share

Chocolat (2000)

Chocolat Movie Review

…………………………………………………

Chocolat Movie Review

Chocolat is a 2000 romantic drama film directed by Lasse Halstrom and starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp and Judy Dench. It is a charming flick.

………………………………………………….

Very good… but not my favorite

………………………………………………….

Chocolat Movie Review

………………………………………………….

I did enjoy this film quite a bit despite its many deficiencies. It truly is a charming, wonderfully light-hearted and genuinely endearing film and there is no denying that. Its romance is subtle and fine, but I loved that it wasn’t all that romantic which I expected and the classification into romantic comedy is quite wrong with this one.

It is basically a drama with some comedic and romantic elements, but it is mostly a family drama that is very simplistic and although it deals with a very interesting premise, it is also problematic. In portraying the troublesome relationship between religion and food, the movie succeeded a lot. But they should have explored the opposite side of over-indulging in the food pleasures and the movie is quite irresponsible in that regard. But at least it showed the first side so well.

What is the biggest problem is Chocolat’s over-reliance on clichés. I was really bothered by that. It isn’t too romantic which is great, but it is so predictable from beginning to end that I read almost the whole scenes and even the lines before seeing them. The dialogue truly needed some work in this one.

Juliette Binoche is excellent in the main role. The character herself could be too annoying at times, but she played her so well in one of her most memorable roles. Johnny Depp is also good and surprisingly understated. Judy Dench is, well, as awesome as ever, but Alfred Molina’s performance here isn’t one of his best in my opinion.

………………………………………………….

Chocolat Movie Review

………………………………………………….

The plethora of various, colorful characters provided some solid, though highly rushed and sometimes unbelievable drama. The film works best as a charming period piece and as a food flick as it truly is one of the best movies about food ever. I myself dislike chocolate and even my mouth was watered by this sumptuous, almost erotic chocolate imagery.

The direction is pretty mediocre for me as is the editing, but at least the film sounds good with a very good score and it looks great with excellent cinematography and superb town scenery. Chocolat is in the end a very endearing, but definitely too simplistic film that did not deserve those Oscar nominations apart from the acting nods.

Chocolat is sumptuous and almost erotic in its portrayal of food, but even though it explores one side of this issue, it doesn’t bother with the opposite side which ultimately rendered the movie too simplistic. It features very good performances and is such a charming, endearing flick, but it’s also way too predictable and cliched to be enjoyed more.

My Rating – 3.5

………………………………………………….

Share