Movie reviews

Comparing Lolitas

 

Both the Stanley Kubrick 1962 and Adrian Lyne 1997 versions of Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel “Lolita” are alike and different in many ways. Both versions were and still are very controversial just like the book, but Kubrick’s is a tad comical at times and Lyne’s is nothing but serious.

Both are about a middle aged college professor named Humbert Humbert that moves to a New England after accepting a teaching job there. He is hesitant to move into the house owned by a middle class widow named Charlotte Haze, until he sees her teenage daughter Dolores and becomes instantly attracted to her. Humbert and Dolores engage in a secret relationship, until Charlotte finds his diary and learns about his affection for  her. She forbids him to see Lo (Dolores) and after she commits suicide, they continue their relationship, he pretending to be her father in public but lover behind closed doors.

Kubrick’s Lolita was a blond haired, grey eyed 14 year Sue Lyon and Lyne’s was a blue eyed, dar red haired 15 year old Dominique Swain. In 1962 Humbert was portrayed by James Mason and 1997 portrayed by Jeremy Irons. Charlotte was acted by Shelley Winters in ‘62 and Melanie Griffith in ‘97. Both films are very well done. The stars are  very good in both as well.

Sue Lyon was a perfect Lolita. She had the young, yet seductive look, was sometimes a seductress and sometimes a spoiled brat. Dominique Swain had the seductiveness and spoiled brat down, but not so much the look in my opinion, she was rather plain looking. Lyne gave her a retainer, that she took out to eat and kiss. Both Lolitas chew a lot of bubble gum, back talk their mother and try to pursue Humbert without anyone else knowing, they are extremely sly just like he is.

James Mason does a fine job as Humbert, but looks almost old-man like. Jeremey Irons is quite better as the same character, making him more believable and less angry and maybe a bit more dirty minded too. Mason’s character gets angry easily, Irons’ is a bit more calm, although he does get angry as well, just not as much as Mason.

Shelley Winters did a great job as Charlotte Haze. Melanie did good herself, even though she’s not in the film much. Melanie should have had a bigger role and not been killed off so soon. The story of the short lived marriage of Charlotte and Humbert is longer in the ‘62 version.

In the ‘97 film, Lo is sent to summer camp to get her away from Humbert. In the ‘62 film, she goes to a school formal dance. But in both, after her mother dies, Humbert tries to cover up the suicide by taking her to a hotel where they sleep together.

Kubrick almost makes light of the relationship at times, adding jokes here and there. Lyne’s film is serious from beginning to end. The car driving scenes are longer in Kubrick’s and Lo and Hum fight more. In Lyne’s, their relationship seems deeper and more real and not quite as sexual.

Acting wise, it’s pretty close, both films are well acted and well written. Both stirred up controversy, for the overall story and age of both Doloreses. The rating PG-13, wasn’t around until 1984, so the original had to either be cut or banned in theaters and it was given an “X” the rating in The U.K. The ‘97 film was shown on Showtime before being theatrically released. The films and the novel have inspired other films like Manhattan and American Beauty. Racy films just like Alfie and The Graduate.

Lolita is a story of love, lust, incest, secrecy and murder. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and some fans prefer Kubrick, others Lyne, or just the book. This story has inspired many other racy stories and films involving incest, huge age gaps, or both. Is Nabakov’s story inappropriate? Of course. But it is truly one of a kind and a masterpiece. The novel, along with the films, may be an acquired taste, but they will still be talked about for generations.

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Movie reviews

25 Most Controversial Child Actor Movie Roles

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  1. Natalie Portman 11, as Mathilda in ‘Leon: The Professional’ 1994
  2. Jodie Foster 12, as Iris in ‘Taxi Driver’ 1976
  3. Dakota Fanning 12, as Lewellen in ‘Hounddog’ 2007
  4. Kirsten Dunst 11, as Claudia in Interview With a Vampire 1994
  5. Brooke Shields 11, as Violet in ‘Pretty Baby’ 1978
  6. Dominique Swain 12, as Lolita in ‘Lolita’ 1992
  7. Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed as Tracy and Evie in ‘Thirteen’ 2003
  8. Thora Birch 17, as Jane Burnham in ‘American Beauty’
  9. Every Kid in ‘Kids’ 1995
  10. Mariel Hemmingway 17, as Tracy in ‘Manhattan’ 1979
  11. Macaulay Culkin 12, as Henry in ‘ The Good Son’ 1993
  12. Claire Danes 16, as Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ 1996
  13. Olivia Hussey 14, as Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ 1968
  14. Brooke Shields 14, as Emmeline in ‘The Blue Lagoon’ 1980
  15.  Tatum O’Neal 9, as Addie in ‘Paper Moon’ 1973
  16. Chloe Grace Moretz 6, as Chelsea in ‘The Amityville Horror’ 2005
  17. Chloe Grace Moretz 11, as Hit Girl in ‘Kick Ass’ 2010
  18. Sue Lyon 14, as Lolita in ‘Lolita’ 1962
  19. Linda Blair 13, as Regan in ‘The Exorcist’ 1973
  20. Christian Bale 13, as Jim in ‘Empire of the Sun’ 1987
  21. Leonardo DiCaprio 19, as Toby in ‘This Boy’s Life’ 1993
  22. Anna Paquin 12, as Flora in ‘The Piano’ 1993
  23. Balthazar Getty 13, as Ralph in ‘Lord of the Flies’ 1980
  24. Drew Barrymore 17, as Ivy in ‘Poison Ivy’ 1992
  25. Jacob Sewell as Bunny Boy in ‘Gummo’ 1997
Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: Funny Girl (1968)

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Funny Girl is a 1968 biographical romantic musical comedy drama film directed by William Wyler and starring Barbra Streisand, Omar Sharif, Kay Medford, Anne Francis, Walter Pigeon and Mae Questel. The film is loosely based on the life and career of Broadway star and comedian Fanny Brice and her rocky relationship with gambler Nicky Arnstein.

The film starts out in New York City, just after World War I, with Ziegfeld Follies star Fanny Brice awaiting for her husband Nicky Arnstein’s return from prison. The film then moves into a long flashback telling the story of their meeting and marriage.

The film is filled with humor, romance, drama and music. “Don’t Rain on My Parade” is one of the film’s most well known songs and has been noted to be one of the greatest film songs of all time. There are some cute moments in this film, as well as heartwarming and heart wrenching. Not for a second did I find any of the songs or performing scenes cheesy.

Having a G rating isn’t completely appropriate, because there are adult themes in this film like, drinking, gambling, smoking, going to prison and sexual innuendos.  This all would have to be explained to younger viewers.

Barbra Streisand portrays Fanny Brice  brilliantly and every song she sings, she sings amazingly. She brings the comedy, cuteness and seriousness out of Fanny with such talent. Not one other person could’ve fit this character more perfectly than Streisand.

Omar Sharif is equally as outstanding as Nicky Arnstein, portraying romantic, loving, money hungry and selfishness. You end up with loving and hating Nicky throughout the film.

The film is never boring or cheesy. It is sad and angry at times though, but that is how the true story of Brice and Arnstein goes. This is definitely one of the best musicals and films I have ever seen and you don’t even have to like musicals or romance to enjoy it. This is truly a masterpiece that will have you wanting to watch it over and over again.

The songs are wonderful in this film as well as the comedy, the romance and the drama. An iconic film that everyone should add to their movie bucket list. There is no movie quite like this one, it is one of a kind. It’ll have you tapping your feet, crying and angry. This truly young Barbra at her best. Don’t let anyone “rain on your parade” and watch this wonderful work of art, you won’t regret it. 8+ 5/5

Movie reviews

‘Love, Gilda’ Director On Meeting Gene Wilder & Why Some Gilda Radner ‘SNL’ Peers Aren’t In The Doc – Tribeca — Deadline

One of the big questions many have coming away from Lisa D’Apolito’s mesmerizing feature documentary Love, Gilda which kicked off Tribeca on Wednesday is why Gilda Radner Saturday Night Live peers Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and even Father Guido Sarducci (aka Don Novello) aren’t interviewed in the movie. Truth be told D’Apolito did in fact reach out to all of Radner’s peers -well over 100 names- however, some never responded. No hard feelings, D’Apolito gets it. “It’s hard…

via ‘Love, Gilda’ Director On Meeting Gene Wilder & Why Some Gilda Radner ‘SNL’ Peers Aren’t In The Doc – Tribeca — Deadline

Movie reviews

The Vanishing of Sidney Hall (2017)

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The Vanishing of Sidney Hall is a 2017 American mystery  drama film directed by Shawn Christensen and starring Logan Lerman, Elle Fanning, Michelle Monaghan, Nathan Lane and Kyle Chandler.

The film I sent about Sidney Hall (Lerman), a young novelist whose life is portrayed in a non linear narrative, through ambiguous flashbacks and flash forwards through several parts of his life.

Logan is fantastic in the role of Sidney Hall. He portrays all three periods of his life in this film perfectly. From reading a story he wrote about masturbation to his senior English clash and being excused and encouraged to continue writing, to meeting Melody, the girl across the street and falling in love, to marrying Melody and having a baby, to becoming an alcoholic at twenty-four, this role was tailor made for Lerman. He made his character realistic in every way.

Elle Fanning is great as Melody Jameson, Sidney’s girlfriend and later wife. She portrays the tomboy meets vintage lover quiet well. I didn’t think Elle was going to be as good as her sister Dakota Fanning, but I was pleasantly surprised at how good she was. Melody starts out shy and putting love letters in Sidney’s mailbox, until they meet, date, fall in love and marry. I believe talent runs in the Fanning Family, because Elle was perfect for this role.

Michelle Monaghan is also great as Sidney’s abusive mother Velouria. The character becomes abusive to both Sidney and his disabled father Gerald, who she is tired of taking care of. She finds a letter from Melody and his diary and is furious after reading them, so she decides to burn them in his fireplace, along with a tape from the bully Brett of his father, that she deems sexually offensive. Monaghan was a superb choice for this role. Everything about this character, she portrayed spot on. She was very believable and you don’t really like her and that is how it was supposed to be.

Nathan Lane does a great job as Sidney’s literary agent Harold, although he’s not a big character. Kyle Chandler does a fine job as The Searcher and writer Francis Bishop, who traces down a homeless thirty year old Sidney and his dog, wishing to write a biography about him. Chandler’s role isn’t a big role either, but I felt he did a finer job than Lane.

This film is filled with literature, violence, tragedy and powerlessness and only a little love. It shows the struggles people a person can go through to achieve success and/or their dreams. No this not a very happy film for the most part. It starts out happy, but goes downhill, but it is depicted so well. A truly tragic story, that might make a viewer depressed, this really needed more happiness. The film felt a bit cold and dark at times. I haven’t seen such a depressing movie like this one in a long time and yes, I did like, not love it.

This gloomy film is in desperate need of sunshine, happiness and more love. Barely a heartwarming film, it made me very depressed after watching it. I felt like the director and main character really needed Prozac and therapy. I love all the actors and actresses in this, but I’ve seen them all in better, happier films. 18+ 3/

Movie reviews

Robert Frank’s classic Beat Generation short, PULL MY DAISY (1959)

A short film that captures the brilliance and madness of writers and their lovers and friends. A film that is equal parts random, crazy and genius. No other film about The Beats, portrayed by them or not, compare to the originality that this does. It brings them back for just a little while, although it feels MUCH longer. Meet The Beats.

Source: Robert Frank’s classic Beat Generation short, PULL MY DAISY (1959)

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

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When Harry Met Sally… is 1989 romantic comedy film written by Nora Ephron and directed by Rob Reiner. It stars Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. The story is about the titles characters meeting, taking a cross  country trip and the 12 years of likelihood meetings in New York City.

This film is definitely of Reiner’s best, if not the best work(s). It is filled with joy, humor and heart wrenching. Never a dull moment in this film. Billy Crystal is outstanding as Harry Burns and Meg Ryan is fabulous as Sally Albright. They are a that’s meant to be together, but they don’t realize it until much further in the film.

The two characters fight, leave, bump into each other and do some fun things together like singing karaoke in a pawn shop. They start as friends in 1977 after graduating from the University of Chicago, they part on unfriendly terms when Sally accuses Harry of making a pass at her after he tells her she’s attractive. They meet again five years later they meet again on the same flight. Sally is dating Harry’s neighbor Joe and Harry is engaged and he suggests they become friends. They run into each other again at a bookstore, Harry’s wife left him and Sally and Joe broke up.

Though I enjoy this film every time I watch it, it does seem to have a bit of a Woody Allen feel. Not that I dislike most of Allen’s work, it just comes off as surprisingly as Rob Reiner film, although most would probably think it’s a Woody film. There is not much I don’t like about this film, except I wish they could have remained friends until they realized that they are in love with each other. There are times in this film when one of the main characters is a bit too harsh to the other. When they fight it’s like a cross between the Odd Couple and a married couple. But thankfully they make up.

Truly a great film that will not only make you laugh, it will make you cry, but warm your heart as well. It captures the dysfunctional-ness between the two, as well as the friendship, then love. This is not a mushy gushy rom-com, like anything from today that’s based off a Nicholas Sparks book. It has the right amount of wrong and right. The film takes you on a journey throughout Harry and Sally’s lives until they come to the conclusion that they should be together.

Most romantic comedies these days are filled with the same Sparks type story, boy and girl meet, a life event tears them apart, then chance brings them back together where they realize they are meant for each other. This film is different because it shows how people can lose each other, come together, lose again, then win each other’s hearts. This is a film both men and women can enjoy, because like I said, it’s not mushy gushy. It has the right amounts of humor, tragedy and love. You will Laugh out loud and maybe get a little angry and then cry. This film that will never cease to be anything but truly wonderful. 18+ 5/5

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: The Big Chill (1983)

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The Big Chill is a 1983 comedy drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Mg Tiller and JoBeth Williams. The story follows a group of friends who attended The University of Michigan that reunite 15 years later after their friend Alex commits suicide. The film features music of the 60’s and 70’s, because two of the main characters that are married and own the house where the film takes place, prefer older music,

The film is rather depressing at times, funny at times and romantic and sweet at other times. It’s not laugh out loud funny, but more of a little chuckling funny at certain moments.

The characters are all very different in ways, each with a different personality, but they have things in common like their friendship, their school spirit and their love they have for Alex and they share their memories, good and bad about him and their college days, their current lives and their personal problems.

The film is filled with lots of drinking, drugs, sex, laughter and love. Every actor and actress in this film does an excellent job as their character, making each one unique. There were times when I did get a bit bored when there was little dialog or much going on certain scenes. Parts of the film where very dark, as in not much lighting or any at all. A big part of the film seemed like it was just early morning for like a week,even though the story took place over a weekend.

The soundtrack was great, although some songs didn’t fit the scene they played in. I prefer the old stuff myself as well, so this was right up my alley.

I’d never seen Jeff Goldblum in a serious and funny role before and he was outstanding, just like everyone else. No two characters are alike making this a truly special film, that I don’t understand why it has ggotten rough reviews. Sure at times, it’s rather slow, but it does pick up. Was I ever bored? Maybe a tiny bit, but not enough to complain and complain about.

This film is about friends coming together in a time of need, after having been apart for a long time and their best friend’s death. It is about celebrating and mourning and sharing differences and alikes. It is also about death, friendship, happiness, sadness, love and life. Not many films today cover all these subjects and this one does it spectacularly. Wonderful! Truly wonderful! 18+ 4.5/5

Movie reviews

Classic of the Week: The Boyfriend (1971)

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The Boyfriend is a 1971 British-American comedy musical film directed by Ken Russell an starring Twiggy, Christopher Gale, Tommy Tune and Max Adrian. It is an adaptation of the Sandy Wilson musical of the same name. In the 1920’s, after the lead star sprains her ankle, the assistant stage manager is forced to become the understudy, but while taking on the leading lady’s role, she becomes a huge star and finds love a long the way.

Twiggy, who was originally a model and fashion icon of the sixties, became a stage, screen and television actress in the early seventies. Maybe she should have just stuck to modeling or done something else altogether. She was not glamorous, by any means, but rather androgynous, thin and sometimes just cute. She was very thin like Audrey Hepburn, but lacked the elegance and grace and often times in this film, she came off as very awkward, a little mean at times and just okay at the singing and dancing.

The film features a lot of silly and cheesy songs and choreography, but some great costumes. It should’ve been shorter, being over two hours long is just plain torture, to have to sit and watch such a tawdry musical that is nowhere as good as more well known musicals. The entire film seemed like one big cheese fest taking place in the roaring twenties, set to song and dance.

I like Twiggy, I always have since a teenager, but she should have shied away from doing musicals, or just movies in general. She should have never been cast as the love interest of Tony Brockhurst, she was not ideal in any way for that kind of role. Christopher Gale did a fine job as Tony. Yes, he had some rather cheesy lines and choreography himself, but he outshined Twiggy (Polly Browne).

Normally, I love musicals, but this one far being anything great, even though it won numerous awards. Twiggy to me, brought the film down, along with the gaudiness of the entire film. The only good thing about this film, is the romanc and the dancing, everything else was like a broadway disaster The singing and dancing was far too much and there needed to more acting. No they didn’t sing everything instead of talk like a Jacques Demy musical, thank goodness, but there was two much “Broadway” and not enough drama and story.

The scenery and romance where by far the best things about this film. Sure it’s fun two watch Twiggy and Tony sing and dance, but this film lacks in drama and and it seems to be one performance after an other, with no real story, except Twiggy and Tony’s romance and she becoming a stage star. Not every musical is all performance after another, most Have drama that explains the story.

A great film for older kids and teenagers and families that like musicals. 8+ 3/5

Movie reviews

Are Art Films an Acquired Taste?

An art film is usually a serious independent film, that is marketed at a specific type, or a niche market, rather than a mass market audience.  It is aimed serious and artistic work. They are often experimental and generally made for artful reasons, rather than appealing to mass media for profit.

Art films are not like mainstream Hollywood films with many different qualities like, the thoughts and expressiveness of the director, social realism, or the dreams and motivation of the character.

Art films are usually presented at special theaters called art house theaters and at film festivals. Because art films are targeted at small niche-market audiences, they rarely obtain the financial circumstances that would allow such big budgets like wide released films. They are almost always produced on a much smaller budget, with usually lesser known actors and actresses and focus on the different ideas and looking for different techniques.

These films go against popular blockbusters, which are aimed more at daily life and pure entertainment. They have small investment costs and only need the appeal of a small percentage of mainstream audiences to be financially feasible.

Is the art film genre dying? Not necessarily thanks to FilmStruck, The Criterion Collection and Turner Classic Movies. But who knows if those platforms will eventually be phased out. While TCM comes with most cable and satellite television services, FilmStruck does not and do you really want to pay up to $10.99 a month or buy expensive Criterion DVDs just watch these films? I don’t, unless I were rich. Sure, you can find some cheap Criterion DVDs used online, but does having that seal on the cover make them even cooler or more collectible? Some come with special features, which is nice if you care about that.

Art films are often obscure, strange and disturbing. Some people get or would be confused with these. Yes, I agree the plot in some can be quite hard to follow, because it either doesn’t explain it in the beginning, goes from scene to scene, or is so bizarre and/or disturbing. There are non film scholars that can follow any movie’s plot and can explain them well.

Art films are getting more recognition these days from critics, festivals, award ceremonies and trailers as well as Pay-Per-View, streaming platforms and Redbox. But the latest Star Wars film will always out rule David Lynch’s latest production. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily, because there will always be an audience for both genres.

Many people when hearing the term “art film,” they shove them away, not giving them a chance. They would rather watch the newest bad Adam Sandler movie, which to each their own. People often want nothing to do these kind of films, but there are those that love the obscure.

Early art film directors have influenced other directors. Woody Allen quoted both Ingmar Bergman and Federico Fellini in his film Manhattan. He also stated his film Stardust Memories was inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2. Although not a director but a singer, Lana Del Rey has stated that Fellini is one of her inspirations.

Avant garde films used to pretty overlooked years ago. It wasn’t until directors like Bergman, Fellini, Jean Luc Godard and Francoise Trouffaut started winning awards, that they really gained an audience. Nowadays we have televised award shows streaming platforms and The Criterion Collection to get more fans. Sure the genre will never be as popular as big blockbuster genres. To me if you want to do anything in the film industry or film related, you have to learn to appreciate all genres (except pornos of course), including art films.

These directors go beyond want is considered “normal” in the film world. They use different types of techniques, music and often times cameras. Director Wes Anderson stated he used to hate art and independent films until he watched Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. You get far in this industry only working with one or two categories of movies. A true movie loves movies of types, such as myself. I learned to love the obscure, the sometimes disturbing and just plain weird. So are art films an acquired taste? I’d say yes and that is okay, because art is art and there will always be fans.