julian_west

IMDb member since February 2005
    Lifetime Total
    5+
    IMDb Member
    16 years

Reviews

Pinocchio
(2002)

A great film * IF * you have the right expectations
I'm an Italian-born longtime US resident, so I think I'm well-positioned to explain this film to the US public :) First and foremost, this isn't just "a film" -- it's a "Roberto Benigni" film. By that, I mean something analogous to a "Woody Allen" film, i.e. a film where the actor/director's imprint is so POWERFUL that you can't separate the two.

Imagine considering a "Woody Allen" film without taking into account the "Woody Allen" part! Well, Roberto Benigni is essentially an Italian Woody Allen -- though, IMHO, less neurotic. LOL My advice: watch other Benigni films BEFORE "Pinocchio". I highly recommend the much acclaimed "Life is Beautiful", and the much-lighter "The Monster." If you love his other films -- as I do -- you'll do just fine with "Pinocchio." Also try to understand the "Pinocchio" story before watching this movie. I grew up with it -- its popularity in Italy is like that of "The Wizard of Oz" in the US… "Pinocchio" is a very old-fashioned story, with quaint charm in its heavy-handed moralistic approach. In short, a boy (or a puppet wishing to be a boy) who disregards adult advice will get into all sorts of dire situations. Skip school and get transformed into a jackass! The real charmer is the lively personality of the puppet, and the other endearing characters, both human and magical.

Benigni is PERFECT for the role of the boy-puppet. It doesn't matter one iota how old he is; it's not just an "actor" -- it's Benigni.

Once again, Benigni is THE film in a Benigni film, just like Woody is THE film in his films.

Playing a rambunctious puppet is second nature to Benigni!! He's a total natural for that.

Foolishly, I was discouraged from watching this fine film by the negative reviews. Don't do my same mistake! BTW, rent the "Italian version": it gives you A CHOICE between Italian, English and French spoken languages. I speak all 3, and listened to all 3! I recommend the original, unless you really hate subtitles.

The Odyssey
(1997)

LACKLUSTER, relatively low-budget. WATCH "TROY" INSTEAD!
I knew trouble lay ahead, the moment I noticed the PG-13 rating. How can a powerful classical story full of brutality and seduction be squeezed into a PG-13?? The answer: by watering it down. Just to mention one example, the film goes to EXTRAORDINARY lengths not to show any nudity, even when the crew members take their baths.

Hello?!? Anybody home? These were Ancient Greeks, who used to compete in the Olympic Games in the nude! Modern Anglo body shame grafted onto the Ancients: so ridiculous! But that's only the beginning of the films' problems. I will not comment on the story's faithfulness to the book, because I personally feel that films are new interpretations that don't have to simply be a retelling of the book.

However, accurate or not, this film is a LACKLUSTER version of the classical story.

It touches, in an "expository" way, on the salient points, but it fails to really shine or be outstanding in any way.

Looks somewhat low-budget. Especially after having watched "Troy" (2004, directed by Wolfgang Petersen.)

"The Odyssey" was originally a TV MINISERIES -- and that really shows!!! You'll be better off with "Troy", or even "Jason and the Argonauts" (2000, directed by Nick Willing.)

Belle Epoque
(1992)

Charming, sexy, oddball and funny romantic comedy, with dark backdrop
Charming, sexy, oddball and funny romantic comedy, though with a dark backdrop.

In pre-Franco Spain, a sweet young man, a carefree pacifistic, deserts the army. Wandering about the countryside, he's welcomed into the home of the well-off older gentleman, who's eager for a friend.

Everything changes when the old man's 4 beautiful daughters arrive! What follows is a charming summer romance for the deserter, who sits smilingly on the sidelines as the four girls literally fight for his attentions.

Minor characters, like the nerdy suitor of one of the girls, or the older man's opera-singing wife, add a mostly charming, wacky quality.

Gulliver's Travels
(1996)

A superb film (biting social commentary and adventure)
Excellent story-telling and cinematography. Poignant, biting social commentary.

Superb effects. Well-filmed and acted.

However, the parallel action between the present and the travel adventures (though very well done) at times drags on a little too much (about 3 hrs), and over-interrupts the flow of the story.

I first read the book as a child, and enjoyed the parts about the giants and the tiny people -- but the book lost me when it got to the floating island and the land of the "yahoos"! Well, although the adventure plot may sound like a children's story, it's in fact a very adult story, full of symbolism about the moral decay in England at the time of Jonathan Swift, the author of the novel that the film is based upon.

Alexander the Great
(1956)

Mediocre. Watch "Troy" instead!
Perhaps epic in its day, this DVD re-issue comes across as dated and very lame.

The action sequences are run-of-the-mill, the special effects a joke, and the actors' performances leaden (like they all have jalapeño peppers up their butts!)

The film sports the very annoying, heavy-handed, over-melodramatic acting of old Hollywood movies.

The soundtrack is pompous and sucks! The camera-work is run-of-the-mill.

For a far-better film of a similar nature, watch "Troy" (2004) instead!!

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