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WNM Movie Night Liner Notes

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Search Title: Search Director: Year Seen:  


Title: Director [Year]
"Eternal" Wilhelm Leibenberg and Frederico Sanchez [2004]
"The Duellists" Ridley Scott [1997]
"Lord of War" Andrew Niccol [2006]
"Under Suspicion" Stephen Hopkins [2000]
"Wedding Crashers" David Dobkin [2005]
"Crustacés et coquillages" Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau [2005]
"Where the Truth Lies" Atom Egoyan [2005]
"Glory" Edward Zwick [1989]
"March of the Penguins" Luc Jacquet [2005]
"Miami Blues" George Armitage [1990]
"Gaudy Night"* (TV) Michael Simpson [1987]
"Eye of the Needle" Richard Marquand [1981]
"Les Choristes"* Christophe Barratier [2004]
"The Negotiator" F. Gary Gray [1998]
"Marnie" Alfred Hitchcock [1964]
"Marathon Man" John Schlesinger [1976]
"National Treasure" Jon Turteltaub [2004]
"U-Turn" Oliver Stone [1997]
"Beyond the Valley of the Dolls"* Russ Meyer [1970]
"Underground"* Emir Kusturica [1995]
"Pieces of April"* Peter Hedges [2003]
"Something the Lord Made"* (TV) Joseph Sargent [2004]
"The Late Show"* Robert Benton [1977]
"The Man Who Knew Too Much"* Alfred Hitchcock [1956]
"Three Burials of Malqiedas Estrada"* Tommy Lee Jones [2005]
"Ice Harvest"* Harold Ramis [2005]

* Indicates that our staff is still researching the information for the review, Stay Tuned!™

Liner Notes.

© 2006 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."

"Eternal" [Wilhelm Leibenberg and Frederico Sanchez] 2004

"Eternal [2004] is a guilty pleasure film for those who like the vampire genre of horror. It was written and directed by the team of Wilhelm Leibenberg and Frederico Sanchez. This appears to be the only movie either one of the two has made.

"The film takes place in present-day Montreal and stars Caroline Neron as the vampire Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who has used her longevity to build up a considerable fortune as Caroline Kane. She kills the wife of a detective, who eventually tracks her down in Venice.

"There is nothing lower class about the sets, locations and cinematography here. At its heart though, this was created as a hard-R, somewhat perverse, erotic thriller. Kane is both vampiric and a lesbian. As a sex thriller it does not rise nearly to the level of Eyes Wide Shut [1999]."


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"The Duellists" [Ridley Scott] 1997

"The Duellists [1977] was directed by Ridley Scott and is based upon a Joseph Conrad story. Scott is a justly celebrated director. He followed Duellists with the extremely successful Alien [1979] and the great science fiction film Blade Runner [1982].

"The Duellists was Ridley Scott‘s first movie and he chose well. The story is about two French officers in the Napoleonic war. The one played by Harvey Keitel is insanely obsessive. He develops a quick hatred of another officer, played by Keith Carradine, who is more or less just passing through. This hatred is the reason for a series of duels the two men fight over period of time during the war.

"This is a bit thin as story material, but Scott concentrates sufficiently on the characters in the film, that this weakness does not stand out. Scott ensured that this costume drama was full of gritty detail that pulls you in, the realism almost making you an observer. The sets, scenery and camera work raise the level of this film, which looks very good indeed."


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"Lord of War" [Andrew Niccol] 2006

"Lord of War [2006] was written and directed by Andrew Niccol. Niccol is best known for his writing and/or direction of science fiction films such as Gattaca [1997] and The Truman Show [1998], both of which were quite good.

"Lord of War is not a work of science fiction. Here Niccol decided to write about an expatriate gun dealer, Yuri Orlov, played by Nicolas Cage. Such individuals work usually with the de facto approval of certain countries, but not publicly [they can be hung out to dry if the politics dictate it. The association between Gerald Bull and the Reagan administration is an example]. It is in this back-room, internationally supported arena that Orlov operates.

"The Cold War is over. Orlov has moved to the West and has married an attractive socialite who does not know what his business really involves. Orlov has now arranged a deal to sell weapons to a maniacal African strong man. Lurking in the background is an Interpol policeman, well-played by Ethan Hawke, who is trying to obtain evidence and arrest Orlov. This cat and mouse game provides a second thread in the plot.

"This film has several moments of humor that work quite well. For some the film may be seen as a black comedy. The writing is witty and to a degree overshadows what is actually going on. One problem is that although Orlov appears to have no sense of conscience, he hides his business dealings from his wife and child. However, other than this inconsistency, Lord of War is an entertaining film about a disturbing piece of reality."


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"Under Suspicion" [Stephen Hopkins] 2000

"Under Suspicion [2000] was directed by Stephen Hopkins who is generally best recognized for having made The Ghost and the Darkness [1996].

"This film is a remake of the French film Garde e vue [1981], which is a film that few have seen here except critics. The two antagonists in the remake are played by Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, neither of which are short of talent as actors and display that well here. The plot concerns the cat and mouse game played by a local police chief, played by Freeman, against a aging, fat, expatriate financier, played by Hackman. Two young girls have been raped and murdered. Hackman‘s character is suspected. This starts the ball rolling.

"Reviewers of this film generally panned it by comparing it with the original. There are those however, who like what Hopkins has done to separate his version from the original. Tomato or Tomatillo, it is for you to decide. For my part, this is not a fine film, but neither is is as bad as some make it out to be."


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"Wedding Crashers" [David Dobkin] 2005

"Wedding Crashers [2005] is a comedy directed by David Dobkin. Dobkin is a relatively new director who specializes in broad comedy material. This film stars Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughan and Christopher Walken.

"This is a comedy about two 30-something bachelors who have a a great deal of fun crashing wedding receptions. They enjoy creating fictitious stories that justify their presence. Their basic idea is to have one night stands by capitalizing on the romance in the air that seems to affect unmarried women in attendance, making them pushovers.

"At one of these receptions one of the two actually falls for someone he meets. This causes tension between the two bachelors and a chain of amusing events ensues.

"This is a broad comedy. It has amusing moments but covers no new ground really. If broad comedy is your ticket, this is not a bad film. Just don‘t expect intelligent and witty conversation."


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"Crustacés et coquillages" [Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau] 2005

"Crustacés et coquillages [2005] is co-directed by Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau this film stars Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Gilbert Melki.

"This film is a combination of slice-of-life and light sexual farce. The family is on a summer outing and the children are coming of age sexually, while the husband is trying to rekindle his love life with his wife. The situations and personalities are a bit too exaggerated to take seriously, while at the same time not silly enough for the comedy aspect."


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"Where the Truth Lies" [Atom Egoyan] 2005

"Where the Truth Lies [2005] is modern film-noir that is written and directed by Atom Egoyan, based upon the novel by Rupert Holmes.

"This is a complex murder mystery which unfolds as a journalist years later in 1972 tries to uncover the truth about a death of a young woman occurred in 1957. That woman was last seen in the hotel room of a famous stand-up entertainment team. The reason for her death has never been solved and the team broke up soon after her death.

"The journalist is ghost writing a biography of one of the famous entertainers, who needs the $1 million advance to stave off bankruptcy. She tells him that the advance is contingent on his talking about the night the entertainers were with that woman and what happened.

"This as a surprisingly good adult mystery, well-written and demanding of the viewer. Some watch this twice to fully understand it. If you want light entertainment, look elsewhere.

"A good deal of this film takes place in the quintessential example of modern home design, the Stahl House (Case Study #22). If you are interested in modern architecture, this is an added bonus.

" Their huge estate is in deep financial trouble. While in Europe their son marries an older, widowed American race car driver, played by Jessica Biel, just after she won the Grand Prix at Monte Carlo. Marriage to an American is not what the son‘s strong-willed mother expected and she sets about breaking them apart.

"Both Firth and Scott-Thomas give very good performances here. Some critics complain that Biel‘s performance is weak by comparison. I disagree. Biel plays a character who emphatically does not fit into her new role as a member of the landed gentry. Although this character is obviously strong-willed, an American female athlete would be very out of water there today, let alone in the 1920s. After trying to adjust she realizes that she cannot and that she is not wanted. Beil‘s somewhat confused characterization seems appropriate."


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"Glory" [Edward Zwick] 1989

"Glory [1989] is a historical drama about the first all-black volunteer military unit in the Civil War, the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. It was directed by Edward Zwick and stars Matthew Broderick as the white unit commander Col. Shaw. Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman play principal supporting roles.

"As one would expect, prejudice against blacks by the army and how that is handled forms the basis of the plot. The unit‘s behavior in battle and how that makes an obvious lie of the prejudice is the outcome.

"This is a good and entertaining film about historical events. It was nominated for five Oscars and won three, for Denzel Washington as best supporting actor, cinematography and sound. It also served as the springboard for Zwick‘s career as a director.

"This story is told from the point of view of Col. Shaw, its white commander. Some may find this a questionable choice, given that virtually all the regiment was black. However, the message of the film is successfully delivered."


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"March of the Penguins" [Luc Jacquet] 2005

"March of the Penguins [2005] is an extremely popular documentary directed by Luc Jacquet.

"Not much needs to be said about this film. It is starkly beautiful at times, filmed as it was in Antarctica. Its subject is the life on land of the Emperor penguins as they march toward their mating ground in autumn, bear and raise their young in the cold, storms and dark of winter, then return to the sea in spring.

"If you are uninterested in the harsh life-cycle conditions of these penguins, this film is not for you."


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"Miami Blues" [George Armitage] 1990

"Miami Blues [1990] is a crime drama with comic elements written and directed by George Armitage, based on the novel by Charles Willford. It stars Alec Baldwin, Fred Ward and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

"Baldwin plays Fred Frenger, a not very successful con-artist. Jason Leigh plays Susie, a hooker working her way through a community college. Neither Susie nor Frenger are bright.

"Frenger arrives at Miami airfort and is approached by a Krishna cult devotee. Frenger is angered and breaks that man‘s finger, which puts him into shock from which he dies later. Ward, as police sergeant Moseley, is given the task of running down Frenger for that killing.

"This film is entertaining and at times quite amusing. Watched for its comic elements, it is OK. Do not expect it to reach the level of a good crime drama though, that is not what it was intended to be."


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"Eye of the Needle" [Richard Marquand] 1981

"Eye of the Needle [1981] is a thriller directed by Richard Marquand starring Donald Sutherland and Kate Nelligan. It is based on the novel by Ken Follett and was adapted by Stanley Mann.

"This film is a reasonably good adaptation of the book. The plot concerns a spy, played by Sutherland, of uncertain background who is working for the Germans in WWII. He gets shipwrecked on an island off the coast of Britain, while trying to deliver vital intelligence. Sutherland gives a good performance, being both threatening and romantically attractive to the woman, played by Nelligan, in whose house he is staying after he is shipwrecked.

"Richard Marquand is best known for his directing the Star Wars film Return of the Jedi [1983]. It is clear that he was a good action director, but his career as a director was short.

"Eye of the Needle is certainly worth watching. Some might find the story unfolds a bit slowly. However, the pace is adequate and allows time for character development."


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"The Negotiator" [F. Gary Gray] 1998

"The Negotiator [1998] was directed by F. Gary Gray and stars Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey.

"This is a formulaic film that works much better than it should. Two top-notch hostage negotiators face off with one another. The first, played by Jackson, has been framed and decides that the only way he has a chance is to take a hostage and force something to happen. He demands to talk to a negotiator, played by Spacey, that he knows from outside the local police department and so not part of the frame-up.

"The direction by Gray seems to be what tightens this thriller up and makes it not be a crime film retread. Spacey and Jackson give good performances. This is an entertaining film, but not one for the ages."


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"Marnie" [Alfred Hitchcock] 1964

"Marnie [1964] is one of Alfred Hitchcock‘s sophisticated later suspense films. It stars Sean Connery, Tippi Hedren and Diane Baker.

"Some consider this one of Hitchcock‘s lesser films. I do not agree. It is true however, that starting with Psycho [1960], he embarked on more perverse subjects that some consider repulsive.

"Marnie is played by Hedren. She is psychologically scarred to the point of illness. She cannot handle intimacy with men and she is a thief. As in Psycho, it is theft by a secretary that sets the plot in motion.

"Connery plays Mark Rutland, the owner where Marnie last worked and from whom she stole a good deal of money. Rutland catches her and decides to blackmail her into associating with him. He does this because she is both attractive, bright and mysteriously damaged, which intrigues him.

"Once he has caught her, he initially treats her as a possession, punishing her by forcing her to marry him. This leads to a somewhat brutal honeymoon rape that may disturb viewers. However, Rutland slowly develops an affection for her which is gradually returned. It is the tension between them and his desire to cure Marnie that drives the film.

"The conclusion, which explains her neurosis and which cures her was moderately shocking in 1964.

"Marnie is beautifully filmed and a treat to watch. It is a film thematically best appreciated by adults. While some find it slow and the characters unconvincing, I find the odd behavior of Rutland and Marnie intriguing."


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"Marathon Man" [John Schlesinger] 1976

"Marathon Man [1976] was directed by John Schlesinger. It stars Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier and is based on the William Goldman novel and screenplay.

"This is one of several films that presume a major Nazi war criminal exposes himself and is eventually undone. In this case there is a labyrinthine back story that involves diamonds, US intelligence agents, some of whom may be in bed with the Nazi and a love affair.

"Hoffman‘s character as the brother of an intelligence agent is not all believable. Olivier plays the Nazi monster very low-key and effectively. He was nominated for an Oscar for his work here. If you can ignore the preposterous plot, you may enjoy this film for its performances, which are good."


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"National Treasure" [Jon Turteltaub] 2004

"National Treasure [2004] was directed by Jon Turteltaub, who specializes in this type of film. It stars Nicolas Cage.

"This is an improbable adventure along the lines of the Indiana Jones films. Two points in its favor are that it has a good supporting cast and, since it had a big budget, the production values are good. Working against this is the absurdity of the plot and the cliche escapes just in the nick of time. This is a pleasant waste of time if you can check your brain at the door."


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"U-Turn" [Oliver Stone] 1997

"U-Turn [1997] was directed by Oliver Stone and stars Sean Penn, Jennifer Lopez and Billy Bob Thornton.

"This is a modern film noir about a group of low-lifes. It takes place in a hot dusty town in the middle of nowhere Arizona. Virtually nobody in this town is normal and you suspect more than a few of them are on drugs. Stone takes liberty with his material, matching his shooting style to the weirdness of the town and its residents.

"Perhaps Stone was experimenting here, hoping to create a black comedy that is unusual and gripping. It did not work. If your taste runs to the strange, you might find this film enjoyable. Others will likely be turned off."


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Last update on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:15:10.