Friday, August 27, 2010

Quick DVD Reviews

An Education
This simple, yet very effective little film deserved all of the praise it garnered last year. It is completely engaging, and all of the leads are very strong. The movie is not just a coming of age story about a young woman, but about an entire society. By the end, we’ve all lost a bit of our innocence. I could have certainly lived without the voice over in the final scene. That bit of overkill kept it from perfection. Grade: A-

Is this Clint Eastwood’s worst movie of the past decade? Past 20 years? I even found Honkytonk Man to be more entertaining. It came across like a Movie of the Week, and Morgan Freeman seemed to be sleepwalking through the role of a lifetime. The exposition about the tournament was nearly laughable, and I was left wondering why so much time was wasted on the secret service team in the first hour. I am officially shocked that it was nominated for anything during award season. Grade: C-

Odd Man Out
I had very high hopes as a finally sat down to watch this Carol Reed classic. For the most part, it didn’t disappointed as it he was able to create a Belfast just as atmospheric as Vienna in The Third Man. James Mason’s Irish brogue does come an goes, but he does most of his acting with his eyes. My only real complaint is that a good 30 minutes, including the entire artist subplot, could have been trimmed from the film. It would felt taut rather than bloated. A shame, really. Grade: B

While there are certainly come ridiculous conceits in this movie (the car crash flame out comes to mind), it is quite an intelligent vampire film in which the mixture of science and commerce take center stage. Sam Neill is wonderfully loathsome as the main bad guy, and Willem Dafoe is surprisingly subdued as the man with the plan to save humanity. There’s some very good universe building here, but the dumb action set piece in the final ten minutes lays wasted to a lot of the good groundwork. Grade: B-

Rome Armed to the Teeth
After enjoying what I’ve seen of the Giallo genre, I decided to dip my toes into the world of Euro Crime. Rome Armed to the Teeth is a fun and violent joyride through the streets of Rome. Maurizio Merli plays a frustrated cop who is up against a liberal system which seems to be doing its utmost to put criminals back on the street. Thomas Milian shines as the hunchback criminal - so wonderfully over the top during the scene in which he hijacks an ambulance. There are plenty of great car chases, and some nice action sequences. What sets this one apart from the rest I’ve seen is Franco Micalizzi’s relentless score. It is a classic. This one isn’t for everyone, but worth checking out if you are in the mood for something different. Grade: A-

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