Best and Worst Films from November 2017

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Best and Worst Films from November 2017

 

 

Best Films from November 2017:

 

3. Flight of the Navigator

I haven’t seen a lot of great films during this month, but this is one of them for sure. Flight of the Navigator blew my expectations off the roof. I did not expect to have such a great time with it. The film is definitely an archetypal 80s flick but a very charming and imaginative one nonetheless with inherent emotion, very good characters and some of the best special effects of any 80s film. It truly is a family classic.

Flight of the Navigator Movie Review

 

2. Lolita

Lolita is one of Kubrick’s most underrated films. It might be too tame for today’s audiences but I personally like that approach much more which is why I ended up loving this film. James Mason delivered a phenomenal performance in a complex role, the film flies by how engaging it is and both the script and the dialogue are top-notch. It is a long, but never at all boring film which is a huge accomplishment.

Lolita Movie Review

 

1. Dark Victory

And Dark Victory easily takes this one! Again this is a hugely underrated film from the best cinematic year ever which is of course 1939. Bette Davis plays a woman who learns she has only a couple of months left to live and she needed to portray relief, anger, sense of betrayal, fear and finally dignity. She did all of those masterfully in a brilliant performance which is one of her career best. Dark Victory is not only so well written and acted, but highly emotional with such a devastating, majestic ending.

Dark Victory Movie Review

 

Worst Films from November 2017:

 

3. Madame Rosa

I haven’t really seen any truly bad film during this particular month and all three of these movies are okay. However, they are not particularly good and thus they deserve their placements on this list. Madame Rosa is a French film which undeservedly won an Oscar and although really well acted, it is so unsubtle in its script and so didactic in its approach that it seems incredibly dated now.

Madame Rosa Movie Review

 

2. Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky is a fun heist flick which should prove perfectly solid for genre fans, but it is a bland, unmotivated effort from a pretty overrated director with a thin script, weak characters and a lack of more depth. I definitely found it entertaining, but undeniably a wasted potential, especially in terms of its ensemble cast which is great but none of the actors gave strong performances and some (Daniel Craig) were underused.

Logan Lucky Movie Review

 

1. Three Colors: White

Three Colors: White takes the top spot on my worst list easily. It isn’t bad and it starts off really well, but it stumbles pretty quickly into some unfortunate dark comedy territory. The director doesn’t do comedy really well and the humor is non-existent here. The characters are not particularly memorable or likable and the entire storyline and approach are messy. It is without a doubt the weakest entry in this trilogy.

Three Colors: White Movie Review

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Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Heaven Can Wait Movie Review

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Heaven Can Wait Movie Review

Heaven Can Wait is a 1978 fantasy comedy film directed by Warren Beatty and starring him opposite Julie Christie. It is a very slight affair.

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The likelihood of one individual being right increases in direct proportion

to the intensity with which others are trying to prove him wrong

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Heaven Can Wait Movie Review

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The problem I’ve had with this film is that it is a remake and thus it felt unnecessary and the kind of throwback that doesn’t really work. Of course it is a throwback to fantasy comedies of the forties but it never even comes close to the power of those films because it is just never as competent or as magical.

The characters are all very forgettable and not particularly interesting. The performances are solid, but not great and certainly not Oscar-worthy. Julie Christie is solid but Warren Beatty somewhat annoyed me and he isn’t particularly likable here. James Mason probably did the best job here with his signature voice.

Heaven Can Wait has a solid premise but up until this point overly familiar and nowhere near as magical or as intriguing as it might have been before. It’s a very typical story, but the execution is even worse as it is so by-the-numbers and never lifting the material properly.

There is no magic here and only a couple of scenes are enchanting or heartwarming with all of the others being disappointing. The beginning and ending are certainly the best parts but the entire middle section is lacking and of course it centers around American football so of course those sports scenes bored me to death and they stopped the movie right in its tracks.

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Heaven Can Wait Movie Review

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It did not deserve any of its nine Academy Award nominations. Yes, ridiculous that it received that many. Maybe the score I can see it getting because it is a pretty good score, but the performances are overrated, the direction is not great and of course the screenplay is the most undeserved of the bunch. I didn’t hate this film as it is perfectly passable for family entertainment, but the kind of old-fashioned filmmaking that is too traditional and too familiar.

Heaven Can Wait has its charming moments with the beginning and the ending being the highlights, but this is still a very overrated film that did not deserve any of its nine Academy Award nominations. The execution of the familiar plot is tired and not great, it fails to enchant properly and the characters are forgettable. A very disappointing film.

My Rating – 3

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The Delivery Boy (1931)

The Delivery Boy ReviewThe Delivery Boy Review

The Delivery Boy is a 1931 Mickey Mouse cartoon. It is such an ordinary entry.

This is once again a song a dance musical short and those are really getting tedious by now and I am hoping that they mix it up a bit soon and I think they most definitely will. This one has that famous old song in it, but the dances are dull and the film is repetitive and typical.

I loved that moment when Minnie throws Mickey into water and a couple of lines of dialogue they exchanged were hilarious. But other than that, the film is very charming, but forgettable when compared to all of the others in the series and not even the two lovebirds could make it great in my opinion.

The Delivery Boy definitely is charming with a couple of wonderful moments, but its musical format is dull and the execution is mostly bland.

My Rating – 3.4

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Doctor Who Season 14 (1976)

Doctor Who Season 14 Review

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Doctor Who Season 14 Review

The fourteenth season of Doctor Who is a pretty solid one and a fine improvement over a couple of previous seasons.

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Predictable as ever, Doctor

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Doctor Who Season 14 Review

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The Masque of Mandragora is a pretty good historical piece which is not as great as needed, but still quite solid with fine dialogue and some memorable characters and a couple of really excellent episodes. I loved the atmosphere in this one and the period is interesting.

The Hand of Fear doesn’t start off particularly good, but improves upon each subsequent episode despite the last one which is rushed and abrupt. I did like the story and Elrad in female form steals the show as such a fascinating character.

The Deadly Assassin is easily the highlight of this entire season, there is no doubt about it. It entirely happens on Gallifrey and it finally gives us the Doctor’s home planet and it examines the High Council and its members and intrigue all so well. It is the most political, most unique and ultimately best story here. It also holds the distinction for being the only Doctor Who story so far where he does not have a single companion which was refreshing to witness.

The Face of Evil does have an awesome twist where the God worshipped on this planet the Doctor arrives is he himself but other than that it is a basic storyline with two alien war tribes put against one another and the Doctor finding himself in all that turmoil.

The Robots of Death is influenced by the stories of Agatha Christie and Isaac Asimov, but unfortunately never quite amounts to much. It has some good moments and characters, but is mostly a missed opportunity for greatness.

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Doctor Who Season 14 Review

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The Talons of Weng-Chiang starts off in an intriguing manner but it ended up being overlong at six episodes and way too racist for its own sake. It is too atmospheric in a way and way too dated. As for Leela, she is a pretty solid replacement for Sarah, not as great for now, but perfectly solid. She is too sexy in look, but still competent and brave enough.

In the end, this season is quite a good one with most of the serials working really well and a couple of them being excellent and even unique as they are different kind of stories. The Doctor himself is also growing on me finally.

 

Worst Serials: The Face of Evil and The Talons of Weng-Chiang.

Best Serials: The Masque of Mandragora and The Deadly Assassin.

 

Worst Episodes: The Hand of Fear Part One, The Hand of Fear Part Two, The Face of Evil Part One and The Face of Evil Part Two.

Best Episodes: The Deadly Assassin Part One, The Deadly Assassin Part Two, The Deadly Assassin Part Three and The Deadly Assassin Part Four.

My Rating – 3.8

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From the Page to the Screen – The Little Prince

The Little Prince Book Review

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From the Page to the Screen – The Little Prince

The Little Prince is a 1943 classic French children’s book written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is one of the best children’s books I’ve read and its classic status is more than deserved as it truly is an inspirational, truly heartwarming and observational novella filled with many insightful lines of dialogue and great themes.

 

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The film was released in 2015 and it received mostly very good reviews from critics. It is a French film but done in English language. I personally liked it quite a bit, but it is still a very flawed film which is good, but never reaching the greatness that it could have reached had they done some things differently.

 

PLOT

The film follows the book well but is also a somewhat different, original adaptation as it introduces a new narrative where the grandpa tells her granddaughter a story of how he meet the Little Prince. That is the framing narrative that tells the story from the book and it honestly really worked so well that it’s a shame that the adapted story never was as fantastical as it needed to have been.

WINNER – BOOK

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The new characters are lovely and the original characters are also really well adapted. The character development in strong in this one with the one exception and that is the prince himself who is rather disappointing here.

WINNER – BOOK

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The Little Prince

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EMOTION

I would say that the film definitely has some very emotional scenes, but it just could never compete with the sheer heartbreaking dialogue and observational descriptions from the novel. I connected with the book so much and it touched me deeply much more so than the movie ever did.

WINNER – BOOK

 

THEMES

This one goes without question. The book explores childhood, truth, different versions of reality etc. It is a smart, highly observational and truthful novella which connected with so many people and it is easy to see why. The film is solid, but never as sophisticated as the novella.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

The author’s writing style is superb and of course I adored those wonderful chapter illustrations which truly accompany the story stupendously. But the film is also pretty terrific in its own right as it is a CGI movie but with the story from the book being told in stop-motion. That was a great choice and it led to a really well crafted, gorgeous looking animated picture.

WINNER – TIE

 

BOOK 5: FILM 1

In the end, the novella easily got this one. The film is actually pretty good and a solid, somewhat modernized adaptation of the story, but it just could never compare to the strong themes, emotion and evident magic of the source material. But still they did a pretty good job and the animation in particular is commendable.

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A-Lad-In Bagdad (1938)

A-Lad-In Bagdad ReviewA-Lad-In Bagdad Review

A-Lad-In Bagdad is a 1938 animated short film from the Merry Melodies series. It is a very disappointing short.

Now this is a very disappointing short as it is basically Aladdin and it revolves in the Middle East but is never a proper adaptation or a parody of it. Egghead is also less memorable here than usual and this surely is one of his weakest offerings out of them all.

The animation is solid and there are some moments here that work, but most of the gags just did not work at all and were either not funny or bland. I definitely liked the character design, but the characters are mostly very forgettable and they did not work as well as they should have. This is a giant missed opportunity on all fronts.

A-Lad-In Bagdad is well animated, but very much a missed opportunity as this famous storyline did not get proper parody treatment or good enough gags.

My Rating – 3.4

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From the Page to the Screen – Frankenstein

Frankenstein Book Review

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From the Page to the Screen – Frankenstein

Frankenstein is an 1818 classic horror novel written by Mary Shelley. It is one of the most influential horror tales of all time and respected to this day and age. It influenced countless movies and here I am going to talk only about the original film. To me the book is more important than truly great as it is difficult to read in this age.

 

 

THE FILM ADAPTATION

The original film was released in 1931 and it received very good reviews and box office. It ended up being one of the most important and famous films from the 1930s and the franchise was born with the 1935 sequel also being a very good film in its own right. But the original remains the best ever film based on the book even if it has very few similarities with it.

 

PLOT

Yes, the film doesn’t really have a lot to do with the source material as the film’s story is more atmospheric, action oriented and eventful. And honestly I liked the film much more because it is much more engaging to watch and timeless in quality which the novel is not.

WINNER – FILM

 

CHARACTERIZATION

The book’s characters are solid, but not great and underutilized. The film, on the other hand, does the best it can with such a short runtime and it gives us a great scientist character and of course a phenomenal creature so well played by Boris Karloff in a career-defining role.

WINNER – FILM

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Frankenstein Movie Review

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EMOTION

The book has a couple of highly moving passages, especially when related to the creature. Some lines of dialogue moved me quite a bit. But the film is also very poignant and tragic in its ending. Both works are very emotional, especially for its genre.

WINNER – TIE

 

THEMES

This one obviously goes to the novel. It covers a plethora of themes from dangerous knowledge to texts to monstrosity and it truly is a sophisticated and influential read whereas the film mostly just relies on pure spectacle.

WINNER – BOOK

 

TECHNICAL ASPECTS

This is also an easy choice for me, but this time around the winner is the film. Mary Shelley should be respected for imagining this story, but her writing is too dense, convoluted and difficult to read for today’s readers and thus very much of its time. The film is quite the opposite as its timeless atmosphere, visuals and particularly effective gothic imagery manage to chill the viewer even today.

WINNER – FILM

 

BOOK 4: FILM 2

Despite the novel’s originality, imagination and a couple of highly moving chapters, the film is obviously much better which is rare but it happened in this instance. It is a timeless horror flick with beautiful imagery, atmosphere and sound. It’s a technically astounding, very entertaining film which trumps the source material in my opinion.

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Wholly Smoke (1938)

Wholly Smoke ReviewWholly Smoke Review

Wholly Smoke is a 1938 animated short film from the Looney Tunes series. It is an amusing, but very dated short.

I liked seeing Porky in a message film as he is very well suited for it. The bully part was excellent and quite memorable, the song is also solid and the animation, the colorized version I’ve watched, is very good and competent.

The film has a great message about the dangers of smoking for children, but it is dated because it only says that children are affected by it when in reality the adults are too but they just did not know that back in the day. The film is obsessed with message a bit too much and thus the humor is lacking this time around.

Wholly Smoke definitely has a great, but non-inclusive message and it is amusing and solid, but lacking in gags and dated.

My Rating – 3.5

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Madame Rosa (1977)

Madame Rosa Movie Review

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Madame Rosa Movie Review

Madame Rosa is a 1977 French drama film starring Simone Signoret. It is a very undeserved Oscar winner.

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In my house, there’s no such thing

as an Arab state and a Jewish state

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Madame Rosa Movie Review

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It follows an elderly Jewish woman and former prostitute in Paris who cares for a number of children, including an adolescent Algerian boy. This story was very strong for its time as it is politically correct and modern. That is why the critics loved it so much.

However, nowadays it doesn’t really hold up as we live in a more tolerant society. The problem here is that the dialogue and the script are as subtle as an earthquake. It is overly didactic and just not professional at all.

Certainly Simone Signoret’s performance is excellent as she plays this great woman so well. Both the character and the actress steal the show, but I disliked the kid and his lines of dialogue quite a bit.

Madame Rosa has its sweet moments, but it’s mostly overly sentimental and not sophisticated at all. I liked that it featured prostitutes and transvestites and that must have been groundbreaking for 1977, but it lost its edge in this day and age.

It is weakly paced and although mostly quite engaging, the story is quite slight and overly predictable, especially in its ending. I knew hot it would end and I wasn’t surprised. The acting is good, but the directing is quite weak.

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Madame Rosa Movie Review

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In my opinion the film won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film mostly for its politics and it was obviously a political move. That is why it did not deserve it at all and is among the more forgettable winners in this category.

Madame Rosa certainly has good intentions and a great performance from Simone Signoret, but it is an underserved, dated Oscar winner with a thin, predictable plot, an overly sentimental approach and a didactic dialogue that is as subtle as an earthquake.

My Rating – 3

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Alice in Wonderland (1903)

Alice in Wonderland ReviewAlice in Wonderland Review

Alice in Wonderland is a 1903 silent short film directed by Cecil Hepworth and starring Mae Clark. It is such a good first adaptation of the novel.

Yes, this is the very first cinematic adaptation of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and it truly is stupendous. It has its technical problems as the restoration is not great and it shows its age plus the score that they added was not good as classical music does not fit the material at all, but other than that the film features groundbreaking, terrific special effects with the shrinking/enlargement being particularly striking for its period.

I disliked that they included the woman with the baby segment as that is my least favorite from the book, but all of the others are excellent from the White Rabbit to the shrinking which is the highlight to the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. I also really liked the Queen of Hearts and that card parade was so well filmed. It lasts for just about 9 minutes, but is actually not rushed and it works pretty well as a short adaptation of the book.

Alice in Wonderland holds up remarkably well with striking special effects and some stupendous scenes.

My Rating – 4

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