Basti H

IMDb member since March 2001
    Lifetime Total
    10+
    IMDb Member
    18 years

Reviews

What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?
(1969)

Boy, did they butcher the book!
Few weeks ago I got hold to a copy of Ursula Curtiss' novel "The forbidden garden". Although not without its' flaws, it was a very enjoyable read - the plot premise was interesting, and how Curtiss plays with different narrative points of view was fascinating: Part of the novel is told through the eyes of a ruthless murderer, part is told through the eyes of a more or less uninvolved observer. The role of a third protagonist is unclear to both of them, and both draw very different conclusions. While reading, I thought that the book would make an interesting movie, though hard to make. Then I found out that they did make a movie out of it - WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE?, from Robert Aldrich's studio. Apart from the campy title, which is a not-very-subtle reference to Aldrich's WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, I thought the movie must be great with all the acting talent involved (Geraldine Page, Ruth Gordon, a young Rosemary Forsyth). But boy, was I wrong! Boy, did they butcher the book! And what a waste of talent it was... but let's start at the beginning. As I told before, the main protagonist of the book is a ruthless murderer - I'm not spoiling anything here, because it's told on the very first page of the book and during the first 5 minutes of the film: The serial killer actually is a seemingly frail, elderly lady of about 70 who nobody would ever suspect of such things. That's actually one of the main points that make the plot interesting. She hires a housekeeper-companion, a 50something, practical woman who is not what she seems to be. Let's switch to the movie: Geraldine Page, 45 when the movie was made and made to look only very slightly older, plays the murderer - she's very healthy-looking throughout the movie and not at all frail. The housekeeper, on the other hand, is played by petite, frail 70ish Ruth Gordon. Damn, what were they thinking???? Does that make any sense at all? It turns the interesting plot line upside down and makes it uninspired instead of fascinating. Both actresses give tour de force performances, but they are so blatantly miscast that they can't save the film. If they simply had switched roles, maybe the whole thing would look different. But no, it's just very bad, trashy "old lady's horror", a cheap copy of BABY JANE. Rosemary Forsyth has a very thankless role as the girl next door, the observer in the book, who is for no obvious reason given a tragic past (her husband died recently) and who gets a very dull romantic subplot of her own (which was there in the book, but covered no more than 3 pages) with wooden Robert Fuller, whose minor role in the book is in turn expanded. What was interesting in the book (the different perspective of the girl next door) was left out completely in the film. Then there's her nephew, who is portrayed as a difficult child and plays a key role in the novel - here, he is given minimized screen time and the usual "annoying brat" treatment. The only characters that seem to come right from the book are the old lady's nephew and his wife, especially Joan Huntington is genius as a bitchy socialite. But that's cold comfort. The film manages to make a decent showdown, but the ending is less than satisfactory - again, for no logical reason changed, since in the book the punchline was the appearance of a most unusual angel of vengeance, while the film gives us a very conventional solution with an uninspired, run-of-the-mill ironical turn. Adding to the underwhelming experience are the overall cheap look and a grating, fingernails-on-the-blackboard musical score. And what's that with all the senseless name changing? (Not very comprehensible is, for example, why young Harriet Crewe gets to keep her rather old-fashioned first name, but her last name is changed to Vaughn???)

Ghost
(1990)

Wonderful, except...
Well, I actually liked that movie. Wonderful tearjerker in one moment, brillant comedy (especially by Whoopi Goldberg) in the next. Good actors, interesting story and so on - I don't need to recommend that further as a lot of people did it before me.But there's one thing, well, I didn't like at all, and that the others didn't mention: Well, of course, the characterization of heaven and hell and especially the hell's scum where quite clichéd and Hollywood typical,too pathetic the heaven, ridiculous hell... but it's a movie,that wasn't exactly the point I disliked, but: Why do the bad guys have to die? I mean - is it really a good solution to revenge murder with murder? Do they necessarily have to be KILLED, just, that it happens to them what they did to Sam? Well, he's dead and wishes them (from the beginning!) dead, too! And just because he's dead, well, does that set the movie apart from other "self justice" movies? That's what the makers must have thought. But self justice is never a solution. Sometimes it's understandable (still not right),there are some movies who handle that difficult topic quite well. But it definitely shouldn't be propagated completely uncritical by a movie - and that's what this one does!!! It's a pity, because the rest, as I said before, is a good, if not very good, movie!

Toughguy
(1995)

Good little thriller...
When I saw this, I felt like looking a little independent movie with potential for a little cult movie... Heather Graham gives a grippy performance... yes, the camera angles and cuts are really kinda culty, the costumes are very stylish (both a bit 60ies-like) and the story is , not although, but because it is confusing, quite exciting and suspense, with several surprising and unexpected turns...yeah, but the storyline doesn't count that much, it's how it is put in action... As far as the style is concerned, it reminds me a bit of a mix of "Carnival Of Souls" and "Blow Up"...

Man's Favorite Sport?
(1964)

Funny,entertaining, with a very good trio of headliners
This movie combines elements of Hawks' screwball comedies of the 30ies and the Doris Day "sex comedies" of the 60ies... turned out to be very funny! The idea of an author of books about fishing with no idea of fishing is good for many funny situations - for he eventually has to learn it,observed by two energetic young ladies. Rock Hudson makes a good figure,but Paula Prentiss and Maria Perschy are even better - they both give incredibly funny,magnificent performances! I liked this movie...

Bathing Beauty
(1944)

A Classic!
Of course,the story was not very interesting - or,in other words,forgettable. Also,many of the gags weren't really funny. But all that doesn't count for it is Esther Williams' first starring feature - and she is so lovely and wonderful in the aquatic scenes,where she shows all her talents! The aquatic scenes are also well choreographed,the music for them is well chosen,the side-scene as colorful and kitschy as fabulous and the show furious and excellent! I also liked the appearances of the music stars... all in all,a typical Hollywood musical classic!

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
(1989)

Dumb,stupid...far away from being 'excellent'
I watched this movie on TV - and I waited 'till the end for something funny to happen.I thought:This cannot be that bad at all...but it was! It isn't funny at all! The idea was good,but the realization was really as dumb as the so-called heros of this so-called excellent adventure are. The gags are just childish and infantile - at the most,children under the age of ten could laugh about it. The language that Bill & Ted use got so on my nerves I often thought of destroying my TV... unbelievable that this Z-movie was a success!!!

Arabela se vrací
(1993)

Exciting,amusing - but far away from the charme of the original
Sequel of the 1979-classic "Arabela" ... 10 years later. Arabela,the fairy princess,and Petr from the human world are married and happy - especially when they get the good message that Arabela is pregnant with twins!But Arabela's old enemy,the bad wizard,wants to destroy their luck and still become king of fairy-tale-land... After he heard a prophecy from the first witch,who lives in the human world as Miss Schwarz,which tells him that he could become king of the fairy-tale-land and also king of the human world,he does everything to make it come true.At first,he steals an apple from the isle of Pultanella (known from the "Gulliver"-Tales).Arabela eats it - and the children she gets are no children but - old men! At this time,Rumburak wants to become king of fairy-tale-land as husband of Xenia,Arabela's sister,and transforms her husband Willibald into a wind... A new fight against Rumburak starts,this time principally led by Arabela's grand-father babies,Xenia's son Freddy,Natalia,the daughter of toy-fabricant Papp,and Honza and Marenka,Petr's younger brother and his friend,now undergraduates. Still,there are the magic things which play an important role! A lot of new ideas,figures,stories - quite well-made! The series plays not only with elements from fairy tales,but also from adventure,fantasy,romance and even science fiction (Fantomas' suitcase). It's a pleasure to see the well-known figures like King and Queen,Xenia,the two witches,Mrs. Majer and Mrs. Blekot,the former Miss Müller - and what they are like ten years older! It's a pity that Vladimír Mensík,the actor of Mr.Majer,died and so Mr. Majer doesn't appear anymore. Miroslava Sáfránková is a good re-cast for Jana Nagyová. The new faces like the grandfather-babies,Papp,Natalia,Freddy,Roxana or uncle Pompo are also very nice... I liked this series,an excellent sequel - but,nothing in comparison with the original! There are also some points which I didn't like - mainly that Arabela and Petr (and also Mrs.Majer) don't play such an important role anymore...the two romantic leads from the original now just play supporting roles as an ordinary next-door couple.Petr has even become a bit unlikable (the way he treats the grandpa-babies!),and Arabela has nothing of a fairy princess anymore (she even wonders about when unusual things happen).The two don't even travel into the fairy-tale-land,all the series they are just in the human world!Arabela doesn't meet her parents (just at the end,her father travels into the human world and tells,he and the Queen will visit Arabela soon),doesn't even meet Xenia,although she is often in the human world! Only very few fairy-tale-figures travel into the human world... All this is a bit disappointing - but,nevertheless,a good,charming series.

Arabela
(1979)

Charming,bewitching and really fairy-fictious!
The story begins when Mr. Majer,an actor who reads fairytales on a children's tv show,finds a little bell.He rings it,and Rumburak appears,a wizard from the land of fairytales,who takes him to this wonderland - where he by mistake shoots the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood!When he's back in the human world,Rumburak is for punishment transformed into a wolf - order of the king and queen of the fairy-tale land!But Rumburak gets help from two witches (one is from Hansel and Gretel!)...and he cries for vengeance!He wants to conquer the fairy-tale land and become king...as husband of the beautiful princess Arabela!This smart girl flees into the human world,where she meets the undergraduate Petr,the son of Mr. Majer,and falls in love with him... But Rumburak doesn't give up that easy! Not only many famous figures from the fairy tales,but also Mr.Majer and his family have to fight against the bad wizard...magic rings,cloaks and a suitcase play important roles in this wonderful series,people get transformed,the fairy tale-people don't know our world and get in strange situations,our world can't accept or understand that there's something that we CAN'T understand,that's not logic,just magic... It's a pleasure to watch this famous czech TV series, which is for a long time a classic and an evergreen! An intelligent,delightful plot between fairy and reality,great actors,pretty costumes,funny gags,but also moments of melancholy make this series to one of my favorites!

Schwarzwaldmädel
(1950)

Sweet,sweeter,the sweetest
This was the first "Heimatfilm" ever to be produced..."Grün ist die Heide" and many,many others followed,and they were more than just popular in the 50ies in Germany:It was the time short after World War II,and everyone just wanted to forget what happened - and so they didn't like movies that showed real problems of the world,but they loved "Heimatfilme",for they were pure "Kitsch" and showed a sweet,idyllic world far from reality...a simple love story around a pretty young man and a pretty young woman,either some comic or melodramatic elements,and beautiful shootings of the nature,undestroyed and wonderful-that's the ingredients for a good Heimatfilm,and that receipe always worked! Sonja Ziemann and Rudolf Prack (although he was more than 20 years older than her) were the dream-pair of the German Heimatfilm since this movie.She plays a girl from the black forest,who falls in love with a painter,and after some entanglement they find together at a national festival where everybody is happy,sings songs and wears historical black forest costumes. Today,Heimatfilme are just scorned. But it wasn't that bad at all...you have to accept your movie-past.Those movies were simple,but they spoke to the hearts of the people:the producers knew what the people wanted! It is also a part of movie history,and also a part of culture: That were the 50ies!!!

Hannibal
(2001)

Ridiculous...and boring
I Enjoyed "Manhunter",and I loved "The Silence Of The Lambs",and I hoped this picture would be similar to them...but it isn't,absolutely not!It's one of the worst movies I've ever seen.Hannibal kills and kills - how it seems just for his pleasure and without any real motive...what he never would have done in my opinion.The plot hasn't got a right sense and is very uninspired - you get something like that better in every Third-Class-TV-Thriller.There are a few scenes I really laughed about.That one scene with the brain,that should be SOOOOOO shocking - it is ridiculous!This is the funniest scene of the movie,but there are some others that are quite similiar---but they aren't enough to save the whole film,and all in all:It is not meant ironically!Most of the time the movie is just BORING...extremely boring! No suspense,no psychology,no tension.Even Anthony Hopkins is bad in that movie - he totally exaggerates his acting,overplays the character and just looks "diabolique" all the time.The only highlight of "Hannibal" is Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling,who is as good as Jodie Foster was in "The Silence Of The Lambs"...but she can't save the movie at all,it's just too bad! Jodie Foster must have known why she did'nt want to play in this RUBBISH!

The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown
(1957)

You'll Like This Movie...
A popular movie star is kidnapped,and everyone thinks,it's a publicity gag for her new picture "The Kidnapped Bride" - it isn't,but nobody cares,because everybody thinks it is! The diva falls in love with one of her kidnappers - that was clear from the beginning,of course,but that doesn't matter. A nice idea,transpositioned in a delightful,amusing comedy full of funny and also sarcastic gags and dialogues,with terrific actors(Jane Russell - who wears a blonde wig in the first part - is nearly as good as in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes",if not better)and a good story...it is a pity that this movie is almost forgotten today!I wouldn't say it's a masterpiece-but I liked it very much!

I Was a Male War Bride
(1949)

Terrific!
One of the most undervalued screwball comedies... I think this picture is equal to classics like "It Happened One Night","Bringing Up Baby" or "My Man Godfrey".In this movie Ann Sheridan has the rare opportunity to show that she's not just a great dramatic actress but also has a impressive comedian talent - neither Katharine Hepburn nor Carole Lombard would have made it better.Cary Grant acts also quite good,but he has no chance against Ann with her sharp-tongued,dry commentaries...The dialogues and the action are very funny,I even laugh about it when I see that feature the 10th time...part of the plot is nonsense,of course,but there are also some sarcastic digs on the bureaucratic system. If you like screwball comedies,this movie is a MUST!!!

Kora Terry
(1940)

Marika Rökk shows all her talents as actress,singer and,of course,as a dancer and variety artist
I did like this film very much,not only because the Hungarian volcano Marika Rökk in a double role and the highly reputed stage actor Will Quadflieg. There is the story of the two twin sisters,one good,one bad. Kora,the dark character,and Mara both are variety artists and act together on stage as a couple.But Kora knows what ways to go to make career and becomes famous-and she doesn't care about what happens with her sister.As Mara fells in love with the violin player Varany,but Kora grabs him,they have an altercation,and Mara,in a moment of affection, shoots her sister. From now on,although unwilling,she has to play the role of Kora.But Kora was involved in dark affairs with a ring of spies,and it especially gets hard for Mara,when she meets Varany again... The story is not new,but told in a quite exciting and amusing way. The film doesn't have a special meaning or message,and ,of course,as many of the German films of these times,it doesn't give a political statement - it's just pure entertainment. A quite enjoyable musical and the try of a German spy and action drama. The best scenes in the film are the music-scenes, where wonderful Marika can show what she has learned during her time as a circus artist.

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