Aside from the fact it is a blatantly leftist propaganda movie, that is what I tend to dislike most in contemporary cinema, there are too many inconsistencies to make it even mildly palatable. The two main actors are good, but the screenplay and the direction makes a complete waste of their talents. The documentary scenes that crop up especially in the second half of the movie are most annoying. The real-life Duce is quite ridiculous, while the actor impersonating him is quite likeable. Also from an ideological point of view the film is rather nonsensical. The message it claims to convey is how inhumane the dictator is. But the victim is so foolish that it is hard to feel for her. She only hates him because he refuses to recognize her as his wife. In other respects, she would love to be shown off as the country's first lady. So the worst sort of champion for the left-leaning members in the audience.
Rather slow and boring movie, with occasionally interesting scenes, overwhelmed by the mediocre way in which it conveys the feminist propaganda, namely that men are pigs, while women are saints. Only that here the women are not quite saints either. One is a pathetic alcoholic, while the other two are willing adulteresses, who only mind it when the man is cheating on them too, while enjoying his favours when they are cheating his first wife, the poor alcoholic. The actors waste their acting, given the lifeless performance of the director, as well as the annoying way in which the chronology of events is deconstructed, like a knitting that is losing its stitches with no real motivation.
It is yet another unfortunate example of how not to make a movie. A lot of good actors and actresses wasting their talent and our time and patience here. And I'm not referring to Jennifer Lawrence. If, as some people say, this is her best work, then she should definitely change profession. The basic idea is quite promising, but the way it is turned into practice is what the Germans call peinlich. Everything seems to be wrong. The plot, the acting, the atmosphere, the way the talk, the way the act - or rather pretend to - nothing holds together. What a waste!
One of the rare movies / series in which the romantic aspects of the novel get a perhaps superlative treatment as they deserve. Allan Hollinghurst's novel has a special significance to me, but that is beside the point here. The film has a special appeal, a nostalgia, a remembrance of things past to which the music deserves particular praise. There is no other film that I can remember that moves me to such a degree. Yes, I was there, in the London of those years. Yes, I was lonely and yearning for some human touch. Yes, it all comes back. It's hard to describe, for those of you who did not live those times. This is a true gem to be treasured and revisited whenever your daily life seems unbearable. Dan Stevens is the innocent hero of his life. He may have become a better known actor later on, but this is his defining moment and film.
The idea of this film deserved much better. There are so many things that could have been done, but haven't. And it lasts for almost 3 hours. An interesting satire of contemporary professional success at the cost of one's own (un)happiness. That is what it was meant to be. But the message gets diluted, there are very slow paces and redundancies that spoil the enjoyment. Some gratuitous tricks that do not lead anywhere. Moments so embarrassing that one would rather be alone when watching something like this. The father - daughter relationship that somehow barely survives through the meanderings of the film. With a good editing and a more ballsy director, it would probably have been a good movie. As such, on the current trend, it might spoil the chances of much better films of getting this year's Academy Award.
The perfect example of ruining an ideal story (or play). A complete waste of money and talent, the good actors and actresses not least of all. The idea of setting it in the 1920s could have worked, as well as the more naturalistic and sexual elements. But the current TV version lacks the basic element - life. It is still-born. It completely lacks liveliness, panache, you name it! It is flat, boringly slow, and drenched in a kind of smog. It is not only a betrayal of Agatha Christie's defining elements in writing, that can be accused of many things, but not of being slow or boring, nay, it is also an insult to the viewer's intelligence. All the pretentious psychological so-called motivations of the brutal murder remain - cinematographically - utterly and completely unsubstantiated. The screenplaywriter, the editor and the director should seriously look at themselves in the mirror, and consider performing harakiri, rather than go on butchering Agatha Christie's writings. Thanks, but no, thanks. Utter rubbish!
I should start perhaps by mentioning that I'm quite fond of the James Ivory movies, including the one by the same title. And still, I find this much more faithful to the original book. It better reflects the spirit of the writer and the age. It has an aura of authenticity, a natural flow and a je ne sais quoi that have made it quite endearing to me from the very beginning. The names in the cast are perhaps lesser known than those in the other version, and it is precisely the reason why I find them better suited to this television / cinematographic adaptation. They seem to be natural human beings, and not the caricatures thereof, as some of their counterparts in the more famous version. Other reviewers have been rather critical of the final few minutes in the film. I would be inclined to be much more tolerant, as the new ending, although perhaps questionable in itself, is yet so respectful of the spirit of the author in his novel that I tend to welcome it. It is a much more romantic view of the story, and the music by Gabriel Yared significantly contributes to it all.
It is always difficult to judge a movie based upon a book without passing judgment on what it manages to retain and what it (un)intentionally leaves behind. Olivia Manning's books used to be banned in Romania during the communist régime, and that is probably the reason why this TV series has been shot in some locations in Yugoslavia at the time of its production (1986 - 1987). I find the acting excellent, and the atmosphere filled with nostalgia. Nevertheless, given the fact that the producers have included various black-and-white excerpts from WWII documentaries, I find it inexcusable that they haven't also included vintage images of Bucharest in the 1940's, and especially of the Athénée Palace Hotel. Using some lugubrious Ljubliana building as a stand-in is very hard to swallow, especially for someone very well acquainted with the splendours of interbellum Bucharest. The same could have been done about the Royal Palace. And this would have hardly increased the costs. Apart from that, I find this worth watching and re-watching. As one grows older, one sees things differently.
Some good acting in an utterly disappointing movie
Mark Rylance stands out as the best reason to watch this movie. And, I feel tempted to say, the only reason to do so. His lines take the cream of the screenplay. I am quite a fan of spy movies. That is exactly why I find this to be extremely disappointing as a movie. Seeing Steven Spielberg's name come up at the final credits was a sort of cherry on the funeral cake. The direction and the editing are the two most disappointing elements of this production. Then parts of the story. It is all so predictable, so cliché, so déjà-vu. I happened to watch this film in the weeks in which the BBC broadcast a brilliant 5-part series entitled "London Spy". That is everything a spy-film fan can wish for. "Bridge of Spies" is everything but that. Underwhelming at best...
An interesting film made in Israel, verging on the thriller and being erotically charged throughout its duration. A kind of staccato rhythm that slowly but surely takes the hero, as well as the characters around him, and the members of the public towards the climax. A study in human nature, and a very beautiful human nature, quite a painfully so one, as the young man seems to feel the gaze of everyone looking at him as a sort of blade cutting through his thin layers of conformism and indecision. The claustrophobia induced by the ever-present girl-friend and exacerbated by the heat alternates with the memories of brief moments of truth and courage lived in the army. Rather disappointingly, the end is marked by a more or less voluntary choice of turning one's back on courage and returning to the trodden path of cowardice and avoidance of one's inner truth.
This is a movie I happened to watch on MGM TV a few years ago, and then tried to find again, unsuccessfully, for various reasons. Woody Harrelson is simply otherwordly as this high-society gay companion to the ladies. Some scenes are reminiscent of the "American Gigolo" of Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton, but the lines are wittier and bitchier, probably because of, or rather thanks to, the homosexual tinge. The scene where, horror of horrors, he removes his wig is anthological. The sexy guys get older, yet their lines get better and better... (Or badder and badder, of course!) I would say it's almost a prequel avant la lettre of the American remake of "House of Cards". An absolute must!
I know than one is supposed to save the highest mark for a higher being altogether, but I've felt compelled to give it to this movie. And give it gladly, and joyfully, to this simple, honest and unpretentious film. A slice of life, a brief interlude, a weekend among so many others. Living a double life, hating it and at the same time wanting it to come to an end, and yet not having the guts to do whatever it takes. A chance encounter in a sordid place, followed by a few moments of bliss, and then... And then... The two leading actors do a perfectly splendid job, and the director is remarkable in his unobtrusiveness. The camera moves slowly, almost surgically, cutting the next slice, and the next... Until the very last shot! And the final song is beyond compare...
I'm sorry to say that this is a rather disappointing and boring series. There is an outdated air, almost moth-ball-like, it seems to pre-date "Queer As Folk" and is an endless chain of clichés and commonplaces. Maybe as a European I have much higher expectations than a common viewer, but I believe "Sex and the City" did much more for the gay audience in its time than this series could ever dream about. It is regrettable that such a vibrant, witty, bitchy and funny part of contemporary society should get such a bland, tepid and gutless reflection. It seems to have been designed for the all-American straight family, in order to show that gays are nothing to worry about, since they are at least as brainwashed as everybody else. From Episode 4 onwards it seems to find its way, that is to say to promote the idea that gay men always miss the opportunities they have and ruin the relationships they had already seemed to take for granted. The actors seem to struggle hard, but they need a much better script and definitely a better hand at directing them. Russell Tovey is a nice juicy surprise for your mouth (and rest of the body) to water about, and Scott Bakula deserves a special mention as well! So I change my rating from the initial 4 to a temporary 5, waiting for the next series, if there is one...
The most haunting and romantic British television series
I must say I've come across this title accidentally, in David Suchet's book about his experience of playing Hercule Poirot, where he mentions Paul McGann and his part in "The Monocled Mutineer". Whether the television production and / or the book it is based upon observe the historical details seems to me to be rather irrelevant. I have made my judgement based upon the four episodes alone. The actor playing the main part is perfectly cast, and the music signed by George Fenton is an essential element contributing to the overall haunting nature of the film. All the other actors and actresses play their respective parts to perfection, and make the series a serious contender for a much better reputation in the history of BBC productions. The horrors of war and war-mongering, the stupidity of officers and NCOs alike, the pretext offered by continental conflict to an expression of man's basest instincts, including that of resorting to torture - be it psychological or physical - they are as many chances given to the anti-hero to show himself in his true dimension. Awesome, as the Americans say!
Probably the best film based upon this book so far...
In spite of a rather significant departure from the original ending of the book (which I was still able to enjoy in my childhood with the original title, still immune to the so-called political correctness unfortunately so prevalent nowadays!), this turns out to be the best of the film adaptations done so far. The Austrian setting works perfectly, to say nothing of the exquisite (grey) cat. All cats are grey in the dark, as the saying goes... Almost 50 years after its original release, the movie has a fortunate new lease on life, thanks to its availability in DVD format. The actors preserve a certain innocence of the mid-60-s, which gives the movie an added note of freshness and originality.
An enjoyable television series, more or less remotely inspired from G. K. Chesterton's character(s)
An enjoyable television series, more or less remotely inspired from G. K. Chesterton's character(s). To be relished as such, independent of any other literary or cinematographic influences. But also as a pretext to go back to the earlier versions, from the '50s and '70s, respectively. The first movie is in black-and-white, with a vintage 1950s atmosphere, while the 1970s series is the more faithful to the original, in spite of its rather more low-budget air. The new version is quite flamboyant, and yet it might ruffle quite a few feathers of the viewers who are expecting to get more of the original Chesterton stories. A successful entertainment for the more modern-minded nostalgic(s)...