The Disaster Artist

December 14, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Comedy Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
disasterartist

(Directed by James Franco) (2017) The story is well known now.  In 2003 a terrible, terrible movie called The Room was released.  Tommy Wiseau, the film’s financier, producer, director, writer and star, asserted that it had cost him $US6 million. In its two week run the drama took less than $US2,000. After release of the book The Disaster Artist, about the making of The Room, the film was re-released under the banner, ‘The Citizen Kane of bad movies’ and became a cult hit. Tommy Wiseau is played by James Franco – and although Franco is much larger, younger and attractive than his character, he does a good line in what seems to…

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Happy Birthday Hector!

December 11, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classical Music, MUSIC, Opera |
Berlioz conducting (by Louis Reybaud)

Berlioz conducting (by Louis Reybaud)

Hector Berlioz (11 December 1803 – 8 March 1869) was treated shamefully by his countrymen.  His works were seminal and influential upon, among others, Wagner himself. He certainly didn’t get the best press in his career, and his somewhat doleful nature made him the butt of those with a skerrick of natural humour: Yet as his great memoir shows, Berlioz knew he had something and you only have to play a few of his recordings to appreciate that: For example,  the Symphonie fantastique. And his Faust. Even Les Troyens, with its Wagnerian length, is worth its salt. And then consider his overtures based…

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The Teacher (dir. Jan Hrebejk)

December 7, 2017 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | Drama Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
the-teacher

(Directed by Jan Hřebejk, written by Petr Jarchovský) (2016) Maria Drazdechova, a middle school teacher in Bratislava, requires each class of new students to tell her what their parents do. Czechoslovakia is under Soviet rule in the early eighties, and Maria has connections. Based on a real schoolteacher in the life of screenwriter Petr Jarchovský (an old school pal of the director), Maria proceeds, without secrecy or scruples, to require her pupils’ parents to do whatever she asks of them – including housework, hairdressing, smuggling and the provision of sexual favours. The children of parents who refuse to comply with her demands are marked down, bullied and excluded from favourite activities – in…

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Murders on the Orient Express

November 30, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | CRIME, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
Ken

By Agatha Christie (1934) Directed by Sidney Lumet (1974) Directed by Kenneth Branagh (2017) The Varnished Culture has been a fan of Agatha Christie novels for yonks – she’s really terrific – but surprisingly for her very theatrical books, they don’t tend to translate to the screen too well.  Whether Poirot is played by Peter Ustinov, David Suchet or Albert Finney, he doesn’t seem to be just right.  And his supporting casts, possibly from snobbishness, act like a bunch of rejects from a provincial repertory company. The scenery-chewing is entirely superfluous in filming a Christie – certainly she deployed ‘types’ as characters, so why slice…

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Morning Departure

November 29, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Classic Film, FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |
MDcrew

(Directed by Roy Ward Baker) (1950) November 2017: the horrid news of a possible explosion and sinking of an Argentinian submarine off Mar del Plata recalls a ghoulishly wonderful English film vividly showing the dangers of life under the sea. Morning Departure was too gritty and sad to be a hit in its day but it is still a highly suspenseful piece, all the more so because it is quintessentially human and so sad. Lieutenant Commander Peter Armstrong (John Mills) is off early for a morning exercise on board his sub. His wife (Helen Cherry) wants him to stop roving and start working at her…

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