Category Archives: Intellectual

schindlers-list

Schindler’s List (1993) 4.81/5 (3)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 93.7
Genre: War, History
Duration: 195 mins
Director: Steven Spielberg
Stars: Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley

Steven Spielberg’s most personal film about the attempt of a German industrialist to save 1,100 Jews from the gas chambers by cajoling, bribing, and manipulating the greedy, preening officers of the SS camp in which they worked. There are few subjects so in need of honourable treatment than the Holocaust of WWII and that might explain why there are precious few cinematic accounts out there. That the most moving came from the master of the big screen adventure is both unlikely and likely. Yes, he is better known for movies aimed at younger audiences that leave little if anything to the imagination (because he succeeds so completely in getting it all up there on screen) but by the early 90’s, Steven Spielberg had already shown us he was capable of crafting touching broad-scale dramas with the likes of The Colour Purple. He had also demonstrated a cultured understanding of moviemaking with masterpieces like Jaws. That said, his experience with the ‘in-your-face’ cinematic techniques of the Hollywood emotional payoff is as much responsible for the effectiveness of this film as his more deft qualities. For the holocaust is a piece of history that requires in-your-face type confrontation. The cruelty and horror of what happened to the Jews needs to be shoved down our throats every now and then so we truly don’t forget. Yes, the artistry of the more subtle scenes elevates this film to the echelons of cinematic greatness and that is edifying for its status as a film, and yes, the more mature examination of the complexities of cruelty, guilt, and mass hatred can culture our understanding of humanity. But it’s the refusal to shy away from the raw horror of what happened that gives this film it’s universal resonance and that is imperative.

The result is a gruelling watch that will turn your face to stone yet in some small way do justice the suffering. Technically, there’s barely a false note played from the set and costume design to the sound production. But standing out is without doubt Janusz Kaminisk’s stunningly lit monochromatic photography. Spielberg’s use of his work here is nothing short of sublime from the moment he introduces his main character to the his final scene. In retrospect it seems now that nobody could inhabit this carefully constructed space better than Liam Neeson. He brings all the gravitas of an A-lister to the film but with the daring of an actor who has had to work for a living. It’s a tightrope of a turn that requires capturing all the ego, manipulation, caring, and bravery of the man. As his right hand man, Itzhak Stern, Ben Kingsley is beyond praise. Ralph Fiennes is to be commended too for giving what could’ve (and may well have been in reality) a mono-dimensionally evil character enough layers to, not excuse his actions (and those of many others like him), but to explain them.

However, whether the conversation be the acting, the editing, or John Williams deeply moving score, one always comes back to the director. It may have been a personal project but that in no way comprises his clarity. Despite the broad scale of both the story and the emotions it evokes, Schindler’s List is as focused a work as anything that has graced the medium and made with a level of skill that at times is breathtaking. The varied manner and innumerable methods that Spielberg uses to lay bare the cruelty and indignity with which the Jews were treated is as chilling as it is ingenious and it’s through these contrasts or critical junctures between the surreal and real that this indictment and essential analysis of one race’s inhumanity to another is enacted. And while one race in particular will be forever under scrutiny for these actions, the film’s greatest achievement is that it rises above the primal tendency to point fingers. That Spielberg chooses a German to be the hero in this tale is of course his essential message – the Jewish Holocaust was and is a human problem not a German one.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015
robocop-trailer-poster-ftrd

RoboCop (2014) 3.64/5 (2)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 74.4
Genre: Science Fiction
Duration: 117 mins
Director: José Padilha
Stars: Joel Kinnaman, Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson

An audacious and laudable remake that takes the opportunity to look at a central concept of the original film from a fresh perspective. In other words, it does exactly what a remake should! Whereas most modern remakes simply use the name recognition of the original as a basis for spewing out a series of CGI action sequences and nothing more, this one takes the most fascinating ideas underlying the original RoboCop and teases them out one by one. And that it does so on a level that would put many academics on the subject to shame is even more impressive. The scenario is only roughly similar to the 1987 movie. An America of the future where OmniCorp (who are restricted to non-domestic military applications like the ED209) are eager to overcome a congressional bill by getting the American public to accept robot law enforcers on their streets. Their villainous CEO (a brilliant Michael Keaton with a performance so utterly untouched by cliche that we spend most of the movie liking him) comes up with the idea of putting a man in a machine. Unfortunately, an immediate conflict between the robotic components and his free will raises financial, political, and philosophical implications that place pressure on the scientists to separate the two when in reality they may share a much more dynamic and inseparable relationship.

In a further gutsy move, the man to play the hero was picked from relative obscurity. Far from an obvious choice, The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman nonetheless cuts a decent Murphy. He doesn’t have the booming presence of Peter Weller but his character is conflicted from the moment he’s awoken and thus less assured as the cyborg law enforcer. In truth, with everything that’s going on, he isn’t as central as Weller’s RoboCop was in the first place and while he, like the plot, could’ve had a little more room to breathe, the “secondary” characters, representing as they do the film’s wider questions, are just as important.

Keaton may not be playing a machine himself but he’s no less electric. There’s a genuine substance to his character’s actions like tiptoeing into his underling’s office out of concern for bring rude. Gary Oldman as the scientific mind behind the robot interface is just as complex and terrifically realised on screen. Of course, much of the credit must go to Joshua Zetumer and Edward Neumeier’s (yes, the same man responsible for the glorious satire of the original film) well nourished script (though much was added by uncredited James Vanderbilt). A less satirical screenplay but even more cynical, in this RoboCop humans are human, whether they be bad or good. Caricatures are few and far between in this remake – and there’s a sentence for you!

But what tips this movie into the net is the movie’s intellectual ambitions. Fascinatingly and indeed admirably informed debates regarding the nature and constituency of human consciousness and self-determination lie at the centre of the story and even the plot so that the film coheres like almost no other modern blockbuster. That it’s cohering around the most complex of subject matters is fairly impressive when practically every other tentpole movie can’t even balance the most trite themes of the human condition. Contrary to movies like Inception which have absolutely no bearing on the reality of human psychology, RoboCop 2014 is framed around cutting edge considerations in the science from the neuropsychological basis of free will to its fundamental interdependence with unconscious action. Similarly sophisticated is its glancing swipe at the role of the right wing media in the politics of fear through reduction, simplistic disingenuousness, childish anger, and naked hypocrisy.

Where the movie undoubtedly runs flat, however, is in its action sequences. Here, Jose Padilha’s direction (which by some accounts was beset with studio interference) needed a little more elegance and much more punch. The set pieces smack of tokenism and an overuse of the Call of Duty PoV attenuates their cinematic quality. That the original scored as high in this department as it did on its satire places it firmly above this remake. But then again, action is not what this remake is about. The ultimate twist here is that RoboCop 2014 isn’t an action sci-fi at all but a cerebral sci-fi with just a little action sprinkled on top.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015
Hidden Gems

SubUrbia (1996) 3.71/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 75.6
Genre: Comedy Drama
Duration: 121 mins
Director: Richard Linklater
Stars: Giovanni Ribisi, Steve Zahn, Nicky Katt

Richard Linklater’s completion of an unofficial trilogy of films looking at the plain nuances of late adolescent life in small town U.S.A. is the most understated and indeed pessimistic movie of the bunch. After the ‘devil may care’ optimism of Slacker and the nostalgic charm of Dazed and Confused, SubUrbia (not to be confused with the famous and not dissimilar punk documentary of the same name) takes an acerbic glance at the disaffection of middle class kids a year out of high-school. Following a group of friends over the course of a night as they hang out on their preferred corner of a convenience store, the film looks at the effect that the return of a former friend, now a successful rock star, has on their night and already touchy self perceptions.

Among the group is Giovanni Ribisi’s “Jeff”, who is as close to a lead as Linklater gets here. The tracks to Jeff’s rut are the most worn and, though his rantings are often wearingly familiar, Ribisi layers them with just enough exasperation and angst to make them both funny and relatable. Ribisi always had a sideways charm (that’s probably held him back on the cusp of proper stardom) and it’s in these indie comedies where it works best. Nicky Katt has a (welcome) larger role than he usually gets and he makes the most of it as the twisted ex-soldier “Tim” whose depression has turned to anger because he thinks he’s seen the world outside his town and it’s not much better. Steve Zahn’s manic “Buff” is the only one of the group who seems content with a life of under-achievement and he is the star of the show. Achieving a joyous balance between verbal and physical comedy, his character is the movie’s safety cord, sling-shotting it back from the depths of post-adolescent panic on numerous occasions. As Jeff’s girlfriend “Sooze”, Amey Carrie has the most difficult role too pull off as she plays the only one of the gang with enough optimism to try to escape their rut but who’s barely hidden insecurities are repeatedly exposed by the cynicism of Jeff and Tim.

Whereas most directors would flounder in the earnestness of teenage angst or end up compromising the entire project with the necessary comic relief, Linklater breathes in one and out the other. Like Slacker, a stream of colourful and often disparate experience replaces plot but, through his skill as a writer and director, it coheres around character profile and some marvelously improvised acting. Drunk and stupid is not an easy thing to pull off without losing the audience at some point but so charming is the dialogue, so tangible is the characters’ inertia, and so impeccable is Linklater’s distance that it all plays to the central musings of the film and, with it, a generation of intelligent but under-stimulated minds. And having Steve Zahn’s improvised mannerisms and his remarkable but less seen genius for physical comedy in there hinders not at all.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014-2015
Taking-aim---1971s-Wake-i-010

Wake in Fright (1971) 5/5 (3)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 88.4
Genre: Drama
Duration: 114 mins
Director: Ted Kotcheff
Stars: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Chips Rafferty

There are films you watch and there are films you experience and this once lost classic of Australian cinema belongs, without any doubt, to the latter category. Once entitled “Outback”, during a dismally unsuccessful international distribution, Ted Kotcheff’s blisteringly pessimistic examination of the human condition – not to mention adaptation of Kenneth Cook’s autobiographical novel (!) – was rediscovered and re-released in 2009 to a very different and much more intrigued public to the one that decried it in 1971. With an opening shot that lands us lost in a desperate slow panning 360 degree scan of the Australian desert, we find our narrative vehicle in the form of a snobby school teacher John Grant, whose prim and polished exterior belies the agonising realisation lying on the horizon of his mind. With the Christmas break upon him, he leaves the one-horse town in which (rather symbolically) he is state bonded to teach for a definite period of time, and heads off for Sydney to ostensibly visit his girlfriend. However, when he lays over in the working man’s outpost town of Bundanyabba (referred to simply as “the Yabba”), his life’s previously creeping trajectory quickly crystallises into an extended five day session of drunken depravity wherein he descends into a nightmare of both physical and existential entrapment and the baser side to humanity.

Thematically, what Kotcheff does here is a stunning triumph of reversalism and paradox. Within Grant’s rapidly closing parameters of existence, pastimes become gateways to excruciatingly endless stretches in time, the vast open territory of the Yabba and its hinterland becomes a sweaty cage, the relentless hospitality of its townsfolk sharpens into a belligerently wielded weapon, a horrifying alcohol-fueled nighttime slaughter of kangaroos morphs into a balletic even hypnotic ritual of hopelessness, while sensibility and sexuality are suddenly and violently reversed. However, that it all wraps up in a surgically precise metaphor for Grant’s life and for that of a generation of young men with no real prospects is even more astounding. His layover in the Yabba becomes a mythical journey as epic as any legend of Ancient Greece and equally poetic too. Donald Pleasence’s white hot presence as a disgraced alcoholic doctor who has shunned society by moving to the Yabba where his indiscretions are as oblivious to the people as they are to them is the wise man of this fable but also its monster incarnate. He sits slightly above the rest of the primal characters and expounds the realities of existence to Grant – comments on civilisation, “a vanity spawned by fear”, being the blunt edge to the film’s political statement. It’s an immense turn and maybe even the finest in the great actor’s distinguished career. Gary Bond’s central performance is the real hero though and with a face perfectly sculpted for a film like this – just as Peter O’Toole’s was for Lawrence of Arabia – it’s difficult to imagine anyone else pulling off what he did here. He gives Grant’s sprawling descent an edged realism that haunts as deeply as what Kotcheff was doing behind the camera.

That said, the last word should be saved for how this masterpiece sounds for Wake in Fright is perhaps one of the most enchantingly sounding films ever made. From John Scott’s minimalist score which always seems to know more than the audience, the heavy accents of the characters, to the everyday sounds of the Yabba and its inhabitants’ activities, it’s a deeply affecting piece of production that meets the grainy visual textures and harsh conceptual qualities of the film head on. Yes, Wake in Fright is indeed an experience and with qualities such as these, it’s a profoundly transfixing one at that. So much so that it shares the same rarefied place in Australian and world cinema as films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Walkabout.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Network (1976) 4.33/5 (3)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 87.8
Genre: Drama, Satire
Duration: 121 mins
Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Faye Dunaway, William Holden, Peter Finch, Robert Duvall

Surely one of the most complete and effective satires, Network is a delicious take on the business of television programming, human relationships, and how both feed and feed off the impartial narratives that so many shows are built around. Peter Finch stars as the disturbed news anchor who upon hearing that he’s been fired launches an attack on his network live on air. So good are the ratings that the executives (an emotionally vacant yet ruthless Faye Dunaway and an equally ambitious Robert Duvall) order head of the news division William Holden to build a show around his deteriorating friend’s rantings. The script is pure gold with some of cinema’s most subtly cutting and scathing commentary threaded throughout. The characters are all in different ways reflections of the greed and selfishness of the modern world and are as good as the actors inhabiting them. The film is genuinely hilarious with Finch’s outbursts being the highlights. Lumet’s delicate touch is all over this and it is he who allows Paddy Chayefsky’s searing script to come to life in as stimulating a fashion as it does. Watch out for Ned Beatty’s thunderous cameo which ultimately more than anything else sets the tone for this cinematic monument.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2015

The Wicker Man (1973) 4/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 87.6
Genre: Horror
Duration: 88 mins
Director: Robin Hardy
Stars: Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Diane Cilento

If one reason why we have been given so few uniquely original films is because derivation is a natural feature of how we think, then film makers such as Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer deserve all the more credit for breaking free of our mental shackles and fashioning this dizzyingly novel and utterly enthralling masterpiece. Edward Woodward plays devout Christian, Sergeant Howie, whose jurisdiction includes some of the outlying islands off the Scottish coast. When he receives word a young girl has gone missing from Summerisle, an isolated island where the inhabitants long ago eschewed their beliefs in Christianity in favour of more ancient pagan ways, Howie heads off to the island in his sea plane. It’s not long before he suspects foul play which he believes is wrapped up in customs that disturb his Christian sensibilities.

The Wicker Man is a nuanced film that cleverly and playfully examines the subject of religion by contrasting the island’s traditions with more conventional ways. The action unfolds to Paul Giovanni’s seminal folk soundtrack that sets the film’s tone perhaps better than any other score has done before or since. Recounting the rites of their religion, the songs are otherworldly, feel incredibly authentic, and wondefylly capture their seeming irreverence for things Christianity holds sacred. Such is the calibre of the music, that at many points it feels like we are watching a musical as the island’s inhabitants belt out one pagan number after another with gusto. Hardy’s direction is solid to the hilt and he brings the island and its people to vibrant life like few other horror film makers would choose to do. He almost unassumingly contrasts Summerisle’s perfectly normal features with the abnormal behaviour of the island folk so as to make the island oddly and quite sinisterly inviting. Shaffer’s script is as clever and mature as they come and there isn’t a word out of place.

The final jewel in crown of The Wicker Man is the acting. Woodward is perfect as the straight-laced and increasingly incredulous sergeant and he is matched every step of the way by Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle. Lee seemed to intuitively understand the world which Shaffer envisaged and it is through his eloquently delivered speeches that the soul of Summerisle is conveyed to us. It all builds up to one of the most memorable and chilling finales that will leave you fittingly unsettled. Masterful.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Rope (1948)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 90.3
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Duration: 80 mins
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: James Stewart, John Dall, Farley Granger

Alfred Hitchcock’s cerebral thriller is strangely compelling given its disturbing subject matter. Loosely based on the real life Leopold and Loeb case, it  begins with the murder of a young man by two killers who proceed to throw a dinner party immediately afterwards to which, amongst others, the victim’s parents and girlfriend have been invited. John Dall and Farley Granger play the two murderers who are eager to put into practice Nietzsche’s ideas that murder is justified when the victim is an intellectual inferior. The action is shot in real time and involves ten long cuts (with a few sneaky ones hidden in between) disguised as one and the major effect the then revolutionary technique had (along with the off-screen/off-mike conversations) was to immerse the audience in the apartment’s atmosphere as the two men’s intelligent former mentor (James Stewart) picks his way through the clues. Dall gives a chilling portrayal of a sociopath with delusions of grandeur as his every word and in particular every gesture reflects his inner cold blooded precision. Granger provides a decent foil to that cold calmness while Stewart is in his typical scene-stealing mood. Rope concludes in a highly satisfying fashion given that the action never leaves the apartment. Moreover, the sense of time passed and internal disquiet you’re left with is testament to the genius of Hitchcock’s unparalleled ability to manipulate our perceptions and generate that darkest of tension.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Patton (1970) 4.71/5 (2)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 85.8
Genre: War
Duration: 172 mins
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Stars: George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Stephen Young

Franklin J. Schaffner’s account of Patton’s effect on the African and European Theatres of operations during World War II is a gripping watch replete with iconic imagery. The great general is played by George C. Scott whose extraordinary performance exudes all the charisma and boundless confidence which has come to define the enigmatic US general. From the opening scene as Patton stands in front of a gigantic stars and stripes dictating his philosophy on the American soldier to his denouement, Scott draws the audience towards him with gravitas and ease. It’s a multi-sided performance too as we get to see the humour, the courage, the intellect, the ambition, as well as the viciousness that defined the man’s reputation since he rose to the media’s attention.

How much of it is true, we’ll probably never know but you couldn’t ask for a better character to build a war movie around. Furthermore, Scott and director Franklin Schaffner seemed the perfect duo to get the most out of it. Schaffner continuously found all sorts of new settings, shots, and scenarios to convey the regal poise of Patton. The scene in which Patton is driven from Morocco to take command of the U.S. II Corps is a particularly impressive example of such and screams to us that, if anything, the director and star are aiming somewhere between the man and the myth.

The battle sequences themselves are hugely impressive and because the audience are rarely brought down into the nitty-gritty of each battle, they play out on a uniquely broad cinematic dimension. This makes them all the more fascinating as the tactics which Patton used can be glimpsed with enough satisfaction to deepen our interest in the man as much as the battles. In a film such as this, support players can become less relevant but Karl Malden’s General Omar Bradley offers a nice counter-point to the eccentric general. Patton has all the epic hallmarks of the great WWII movies but by building the action around such a powerful personality it goes beyond those movies and gives the audience something or someone they can tie in with with no trouble at all.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

Samurai Rebellion (1967) 4.71/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 86.8
Genre: Jidaigeki
Duration: 128 mins
Director: Masaki Kobayashi
Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Yôko Tsukasa, Gô Katô

Masaki Kobayashi’s Samurai Rebellion is a lesser known feature from the jidaigeki genre but one of its most impressive examples. Set in the 1700’s, it tells the story of a dutiful vassal Isaburo (Toshirô Mifune) who has spent his life obeying both his objectionable wife as well as his clan’s elders for the sake of peace and quiet. As the most accomplished swordsman in his lord’s fief, he gets his small pleasures in life from discussing martial arts with his friend and closely matched rival played by the great Tatsuya Nakadai. Things change when his son is ordered to marry one of his lord’s former ladies, Ichi. Although, reluctant at first, things go well as his son and new daughter-in-law develop a proper bond and give him his first grandchild. However, when the lord demands the return of his daughter-in-law, he decides he and his family have taken enough and refuses to send her back. Things inevitably come to a head and a mighty showdown ensues between his clan and the lord’s men.

The story is a remarkable one and even more remarkable is how seldom we have seen it anywhere before or since given its obviously compelling and universal themes. It brings the best out in all the actors and truthfully, this is one of Mifune’s best performances, even if it is less explosive than some of his more famous roles. It’s also a slow burner as the first 90 minutes are spent building the pretext for the action that is to come. However, when it does come, we are not disappointed as Samurai Rebellion offers up some extraordinary action choreography and direction. Equally impressive are the cinematography and lighting which really come to the fore during the dramatic scenes and combat sequences (two scenes in particular to look out for are the moment when Ichi is grilled by the clan’s elders and the final showdown as Isaburo hunts down the musketeers in a breezy meadow).

In many ways, Samurai Rebellion is a spellbinding film. The actors are perfectly in sync with the directors’ immaculate pacing and as good as Mifune and Nakadai are, they are well matched by Gô Katô as Isaburo’s son and Yôko Tsukasa as Ichi. Above all, it is the heart-rendering story of love, family, strength, and courage which we remember best as this is one film that can be appreciated by fans of any genre and by people of any nation.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) 4.86/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 85.3
Genre: Western
Duration: 123 mins
Director: John Ford
Stars: James Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, Lee Marvin

John Ford didn’t do one dimensional westerns and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is certainly no exception. James Stewart plays a senator who returns to the town where he made his reputation by killing a local villain years earlier. The film then jumps back to that time as he beings to recount the tale of how he made his name and of his complicated relationship with the one man who the outlaws were afraid of (John Wayne of course!).

The early scenes are beautifully crafted and set up the sentiments of the back-story in a touching and patient manner. There’s a wonderful sense of familiarity as we’re brought back to the time when the now booming town of Shinbone was ruled by gun law. Stewart is terrific in the lead and Lee Marvin made a mean outlaw but John Wayne is the most memorable as the fearless gunfighter forced to make a sacrifice.

As most of the action takes place in the town, we don’t have the wide sweeping shots that defined Stagecoach and The Searchers. However, this is still a great looking film as Ford gives Shinbone a character of its own through his trademark staging and use of light. All told, this is a more pensive and slow burning Western than we typically see but no less rewarding.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014

The Man From Earth (2007) 3.29/5 (1)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 75.2
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Duration: 87  mins
Director: Richard Shenkman
Stars: David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley

This low budget, low tech science fiction drama is built around an interesting premise: a close friend tells a group of friends, learned academics all, that he has been alive for 14,000 years. The Man From Earth unfolds in real time as the friends quiz him to decide whether he is mad or telling the truth.

The progression of the conversation from bemused inquiry to intense interrogation to angry accusation is fascinating and intuitively realised. The richly drawn and assorted characters behave in believable ways and at all times consistently with their personalities. The actors playing them are accomplished journeymen including the likes of Tony Todd, William Katt, and John Billingsley and all are great to watch in their roles. The character at the centre of it all, John, played wonderfully by David Lee Smith, is of course what the film hinges on and it’s a tour de force of scientific research and intellectual construction. The psychology and sociology as demonstrated and indeed described from the perspective of a man claiming to be 14,000 years old are faultless and insightfully conceived and combined with Smith’s intense performance, they make his story truly compelling. Even the anthropological, religious, and historical references and discussions seem on the mark and as John forensically puts it all together with the help of his friends, the audience is left riveted.

Despite relatively lean production values (e.g., lighting and sound), The Man From Earth reels you in and keeps a hold of you for the best part of 90 mins. Mark Hinton Stewart’s interesting score plays a strong role in this picking up in unpredictable ways during more intense points in the discussion while defaulting back to a more soulful melody during calmer moments. Through a combination of it, the acting, and the crafty dialogue, the film moves steadily towards a strong conclusion.

However, in taking the more difficult route and basing the premise on the trust of friends rather than some climactic demonstration of proof, the writer (Jerome Bixby of Star Trek fame) and director (Richard Shenkman) gave themselves a might task and in truth, it seems like they never quite figured out how to end this fascinating tale. As a result, the film tends to fizzle out in the closing scenes. That said, this is well worth a watch for sci-fi fans with a taste for something different (which should really be all sci-fi fans, right?).

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013

Blue Collar (1978) 3.22/5 (2)

 

Add Your Ratings:

Rating: The Good – 73
Genre: Drama, Crime
Duration: 114  mins
Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto

Paul Schrader’s directorial debut is an entertaining and often tense story of three struggling auto-factory workers (played by Havey Keitel, Richard Pryor, and Yaphet Kotto) who decide to rip off their corrupt local union office in order to keep up with their mounting debts. The three leads are all excellent, the story is fresh and interesting, and Schrader’s direction is for the most part competent. The dialogue can come across a tad wooden at times which is more a fault with the way Schrader captures it as opposed to it being a fault with the script. Furthermore, there are some unnecessary flourishes during the opening credits which are typical of a new director attempting to find his style. That said, Blue Collar is worthy addition to the conspiracy films of 70’s cinema.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014