Saturday, April 16, 2005
Great Movies on Video
"Great" is a matter of opinion. I think they are great. You might not agree.
Warning: These films do not contain scenes of mindless violence; you will not see cars going over cliffs and bursting into flames; buildings being blown apart, and people being killed at random.
All The Kings Men (1949)
Based on Robert Penn-Warren's Pulitzer Prize winning novel (1946) about the rise and fall of a politician in the Deep South. Broderick Crawford gave an outstanding performance as Willie Stark and won an Oscar. John Ireland made an impression in a secondary role.
Starring: Broderick Crawford, Mercedes McCambridge, John Ireland, John Derek, Joanne Dru
Directed by: Robert Rossen
Produced by: Robert Rossen
Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962)
French - Cleo de 5 a 7 (with sub-titles)
Corrine Marchand as Cleo
A typical Agnes Varda film. Portrait of two hours in the life of pop singer Cleo Victoire (Corrine Marchand) as she restlessly awaits the results of a cancer test. "With a distinctly feminist take on the French New Wave films of the early 1960s, Varda's film examines Cleo's banal yet extraordinary afternoon as she traverses Paris, bouncing back and forth between various men, intercepting and avoiding friends, enemies, superstitions, chance, and eventually love. The camera follows at breakneck speed as Cleo's existential ennui pulls her through Paris. Lively characters populate Cleo's journey, ranging from a tough female cabdriver, Cleo's mothering assistant, her blasé boyfriend, and finally a talkative and intriguing stranger, a young soldier (Antoine Bourseiller) spending his last hours in Paris before shipping off to war. As Cleo's perspectives are completely rearranged by the specter of possible illness, Varda describes a world of life, possibilities, and love."
"Private Confessions" (English Version, 1999)
When Ingmar Bergman stopped directing movies his favorite actress Liv Ullmann took over. They were lovers and lived together for some years. Based on an autobiographical book (about his parents) by Bergman, this is a movie that powerfully depicts a woman's search for love, her battle with her religious convictions, and the weakness of the man who failed to provide the support that she needed to escape a loveless marriage.
The story unfolds over a period of decades and begins in 1925 "as the 36-year-old Anna Bergman (Pernilla August) confesses to an elderly priest (von Sydow), that she is having an affair. He advises her to break it off and tell her husband the truth. Each scene is essentially an encounter: between Anna and her husband, her lover, best friend, or the priest. As the story moves forward in time and then, dramatically, backwards to when Anna was 18, we come to understand the ways in which honesty, love, loyalty, and sexual passion play different roles at each stage of one's life. Bergman seems to be suggesting that "the truth" is not only relative, it is constantly changing. "
Starring: Max Von Sydow, Pernilla August, Samuel Froler
Directed by: Liv Ullmann
Produced by: Ingrid Dahlberg
Anthony LaPaglia and Kerry Armstrong
A gem from Australia.
"Plagued with grief over the murder of her daughter, Valerie Somers (Barbara Hershey) suspects that her husband John (Geoffrey Rush) is being unfaithful to her. When Valerie disappears, Detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia) attempts to solve the mystery of her absence. A complex web of love, sex and deceit emerges-drawing in four related couples whose various partners are distrustful and suspicious about each other's involvement. With its myriad, entangled affairs LANTANA deftly suggests an atmosphere of doubt and deception and shows the ruinous effects these dispositions can have on people and their relationships."
Starring: Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake
Directed by: Ray Lawrence
Produced by: Jan Chapman
Insomnia (Norwegian, with sub-titles, 1999)
The American version (2002) with Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hillary Swank is very good but I give the edge to the Norwegian one.
"Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard (BREAKING THE WAVES, GOOD WILL HUNTING) gives a compelling performance as Jonas Engstrom, an exiled Swedish city detective working in Norway who travels to the small coastal town of Tromso in order to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. When he makes a fatal mistake in the investigation, however, his own conscience, coupled with the insomnia caused by the 24-hour summer sunlight of northernmost Norway, sets Engstrom on the path to insanity. Director Erik Skjoldbjaerg creates palpable tension in this strong, subtle film."
Starring: Stellan Skarsgard, Sverre Anker Ousdal, Maria Bonnevie, Frode Rasmussen, Gisken Armand
Directed by: Erik Skjoldbjaerg
Produced by: Petter J. Borgli, Tomas Backstrom, Tom Remlov