Saturday, February 28, 2009
Don Andrea Baldasar (Alain Delon), a Spanish duke, is about to marry Phoebe Ann (Rosemary Forsyth). The wedding ceremony is interrupted by Phoebe Ann's former fiancé, a member of US Cavalry, who is soon accidentally killed by Don Andrea. Don Andrea now becomes a hunted man and promises to meet Phoebe Ann in Texas, which has not been a state. On his way, Don Andrea meets Sam Hollis (Dean Martin) and his Indian sidekick Kronk (Joey Bishop) who need a good shooter to accompany them transporting weapons to Moccasin Flat, Texas. Don Andrea later will save Lonetta (Tina Aumont), a squaw, from a medicine man. Together they will tame longhorns. Meanwhile, Sam Hollis falls in love with Phoebe Ann, a cause which makes Don Andrea challenges him to a duel.
I like Yellow Knife, the Comanche chief's useless son. Every time he appears he makes me laugh. Not to mention the facial expression on the Comanches's faces, and Kronk's. Although considered as a spoof, this movie is not as stupid as I thought. The direction, music, and script are good.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Monday, February 23, 2009
Update July 16, 2009
Finally : the whole series!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Tony Arzenta (Alain Delon), a mob hitman, wants to retire. He tells his boss, Nick Gusto (Richard Conte), who seems to understand. Gusto's colleagues, however, think Tony knows too much and must be eliminated. A bomb is planted in his car. Unfortunately it is his wife and son, who celebrated his 8th birthday several days ago, who are killed. Don Mariano, the priest, tells Tony to let God do the revenge; but Tony is now in danger foe his bosses still want him dead, so he kills them one by one. He travels from Milan, to Paris and Copenhagen. Later, Tony is wounded and helped by Luca, who he thinks is a loyal friend. In the end, Gusto offers peace, and with Don Mariano as a intermediary, Tony agrees to attend Gusto's daughter's wedding. He doesn't realize that this is a trap.
This movie is full of violence. I enjoyed the car chases, though. In movies made in those days, the scenes are clearly shown. In recent ones, for example in Quantum of Solace, things are so fast that we cannot clearly see what is going on. Duccio Tessari, the director, is very good. I count that at least 2 scenes showed a shooting where the camera was placed behind the shooter, made it like in a video game [see picture]. To play a hitman, for Alain Delon, was not new. In this one, in the opening scene, he wishes his son a happy birthday, excuses himself because he has a job to do, kills two men and returns home as if he returns from an honest daily job, say as an accountant. Also interesting is the priest's sermon in the wedding, from the Book of Matthew: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Love the Lord and love your neighbour as yourself. ~That is not common in a wedding, in my opinion, and must be chosen by the priest special for Tony and Gusto.
In this movie, the usual elements in Melville movies are available: gangsters, police, an informant, betrayal, detailed plans made before the big robbery, characters dressed in trench-coats and fedoras... except that in the end there is no robbery because Bob wins so much in the casino that he forgets the time. The ending scene, the conversation between Bob and the police, is funny. They are talking about how a good lawyer perhaps can negotiate well, so that Bob can spend less time in jail. "With a better lawyer, you could be acquitted," said the police, to whom Bob replied, "With a really top lawyer, I could sue for damages."
The audience learns about Rose and her family through the eyes of the judge, who is also an outsider. The police inspector says that he knows every one in the village and none of them is capable of murder. Although the barns are not burned, like the title suggests, it could mean that because of the murder, the fire enters into Rose's family and even though it ends well, the family will never be the same again. The movie more focuses on the characters than the murder investigation. Its strength lies on the relationship between the judge and Rose and the beauty of the snowy village. I like the music by Jean-Michel Jarre, too.
During the shooting, there was a big problem between the director/writer Jean Chapot and Delon - Signoret, who thought Chapot wasn't good enough. Chapot had all the idea in his head, but could not actualise it. Delon then directed himself scenes that concerned him. According to the assistant director, in the last scene - one of the best moments in the movie - where Rose and the judge say goodbye, the director was not there.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
This is a beautiful movie, although sometimes I think Bruno is too ignorant. At 8 years old and since Papa is in the army, he should have known better. But again, this movie perhaps wants to explain holocaust to children. The ending is horrible, though. The commandant gets his karma. It reminds me to a movie called 'Monsieur Klein' (1976). Klein, a Frenchman, treats the Jews badly and in the end he gets transported to a concentration camp instead.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The original title is La prima notte di quiete (=The First Night of Tranquility. In the French version, however, Spider doesn't say 'Tranquility' but 'Serenity'.). Valerio Zurlini, the director, was furious when Alain Delon as the main actor and producer cut several minutes of the movie for the French version and changed the title. Delon explained that there were several things in the movie which couldn't be accepted in France.
The story is set in Rimini, a little beach town in Italy, in the early 70's. Daniele Dominici (Delon), a professor of poetry who likes gambling, arrives to replace a sick teacher in a high school for 3 - 4 months. One of his students, the beautiful 19 year-old Vanina Abati (Sonia Petrovna), interests him and although her boyfriend is the richest kid in town, Dominici's tenderness towards her makes her realize that he is different from the rest. Monica (Lea Massari), Dominici's suicidal wife, receives an anynomous letter concerning Vanina's dark secret, but the love between Vanina and Dominici has grown very strong. He only laughs. Later, when the truth is brutally spilled onto his face, he still decides to keep her.
I hope in the future I can get the full version with English subtitles because this movie has a very deep story. With my limited French, I think I have missed several details, especially with the poetry. Why Dominici wants Vanina so much? We know she chooses him because "He talks to me," said Vanina to her boyfriend Gerardo. But why she interests him? Because she chooses another subject when the new teacher asks them to write anything about their life? Does Vanina remind him of his loving cousin Livia, who drown at the age of 16? Or simply because she is the most beautiful student in class? This is a sad movie with a tragic ending. Dominici dies on his 38th birthday. On his gravestone we see he actually comes from a noble and rich family. What has become to him that he abandons all that and go around writing blank checks?
Alain Delon is very good in portraying the tormented professor. He has this melancholic look which clearly shows that he is very unhappy. This is one of his best performances. In the cast there is also young Giancarlo Giannini who plays one of Dominici's gambling friends, Spider. In the circle, he is the smartest and can be trusted. I'd never watched Zurlini's work before, but this is one of the best Italian movies I have seen.
Les aventuriers is a beautiful movie about adventure and friendship. It starts with the arrival of a beautiful girl, Laetitia (Joanna Shimkus), into the life of two best friends: Roland (Lino Ventura), a mechanic who dreams to make the fastest car; and Manu (Alain Delon), an acrobatic pilot. A series of misfortunes come: Manu loses his licence, Roland's racing car is burned, and Laetitia's first exhibition receives fierce criticsm. All three go to Kongo to search for a treasure in a crashed plane. On their way, they meet the pilot of the missing plane, and from there it's not difficult to find the ruin. But can the money make them happier than they are now?
This is one of the most enjoyable movies I've seen. It's also beautiful. Once you've seen it, you can't forget the name of Laetitia (and perhaps will whistle the theme song). The last part of the movie was shot in the famous Fort Boyard. The restoration is very well done. The movie is so clear that it seems it was only made yesterday. The under water scenes were well handled, that I can see what the characters are doing: which one is Roland, which one is Manu, and which one is the pilot. The pilot (Serge Reggiani) asks Manu, how come Laetitia is only a friend? However, the time is perhaps right, or perhaps wrong, and Laetitia is taken from them quickly, that the friendship between Roland and Manu is left intact. Roland is older than his friend, and wiser. He voluntarily shares with Manu the guilt for having taken Laetitia to Congo. Manu tries to forget Laetitia by returning to his old girlfriend, but early in the morning when she wakes up he is gone. Where? To a place where he has seen Laetitia in her glory. In the end, to please Manu, Roland says to him that she said to Roland how she wanted to spend the rest of her life with Manu. Manu knows he is lying, for if she really said so, she would say it to Manu herself- and not to someone else.
The music by François de Roubaix is beautiful. Too bad the DVD doesn't include the Laetitia song sung by Delon. Also too bad that there is no DVD of this movie with English subtitles. This is a great movie and deserves a wider release.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Two American girls, Vicky and Cristina, go to Barcelona for a summer holiday. Vicky has a fiance and they plan to marry in autumn. She is interested in anything Catalan after seeing Gaudi's works. Meanwhile, Cristina doesn't know what to do with her life. They meet Juan Antonio, a painter, who offers them a weekend in Orvieto and bluntly tell them that he wants to sleep with them. Cristina accepts the challenge, while Vicky feels she must come along to save Cristina. In Orvieto, Cristina falls sick and it is Vicky who ends up sleeping with Juan Antonio. However, Vicky and Juan Antonio must let it go because her husband-to-be comes to Barcelona to marry her. Juan Antonio turns to Cristina and they live together until his suicidal ex-wife, Maria Elena, joins them. Apparently she has nowhere else to stay. Juan Antonio and Maria Elena has the-love-and-hate-kind relationship. They love each other, but it doesn't work because something is missing. "Like salt," he explains to Cristina. Cristina proofs to be the salt. These three live together in harmony (Maria Elena even teaches Cristina how to be a better photographer) until Cristina feels it's time to move on. Without the salt, Maria Elena leaves Juan Antonio again. Alone, he contacts Vicky after being told that she is unhappy with her marriage because she cannot forget him.
Monday, February 2, 2009
A man is found crucified in Kronborg Castle in Denmark, and he is only the first of the four. The Interpol must find the killer(s) and why. Meanwhile, an archaeologist and his student are attacked in the Catacombs of Orvieto, Italy, because they have found something very important.
The dialogues are sometimes stupid (too many puns), and I even think I found some mistakes. I heard that Jesus was flogged before the crucifixion because Pilate thought he could save him. They didn't flog a man who would be crucified. That was why Jesus died much sooner than the two thieves beside him. Also, the Jews at that time had this idea that the Messiah would deliver them from the Romans (In Ben Hur, this is very clear.). So we can say that Tiberius's idea of the Messiah was different from the Jews. However, in the end, the writer has created a very good fiction. A reviewer at Amazon said that this book was 'a waste of paper' and I was afraid that I only wasted my money on this. It turned out the book was enjoyable (almost couldn't put it down) and I see perhaps the reviewer said so because there was a twist in the end which would make you feel that you had wasted your time reading this nonsense. Usually, the controversial books, like Da Vinci Code, try to tell you that what you believe all your life, is not always true. The idea of Sign of The Cross is similar to that, but not in the same sense. It's quite funny actually, and I see now why the man is laughing.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Sophie has 2 female friends, so does her mother. Sometimes I see Sophie's future husband, Sky, is also accompanied by 2 friends. So it seems the writer loves the number of three. I like Meryl Streep, but in this comedy, she seems to overact. Her two friends, played by Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, look more natural. These three remind me of a French play (or two) I saw on TV last year, Les Amazones (and Les Amazones 3 ans après), which is about 3 single women. One of the actresses in the play, Chantal Ladesou, was so hilarious that her every gesture and line got laughters from the audience.
I hope producers of future musical films will hire actors who can really sing. I don't understand: Mamma Mia! is a very famous musical and I hear that the theatre is always full. Why they still needed big names? I'm not saying that Meryl Streep can't sing (I am referring to someone else). I think she is great during The Winner Takes It All. However, Mamma Mia! is more of a comedy and it's not her strong suit.