Film Reviews by RhysH

Welcome to RhysH's film reviews page. RhysH has written 71 reviews and rated 220 films.

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A Generation

A dark place illuminated.

(Edit) 29/11/2018

A dark film. Dark in its cinematography and dark in its subject matter. It is hard to imagine living under a regime imposed by a foreign army but Wajda had first hand experience, his father was shot by Stalin's agents in the Katyn massacre. This film is set during the Nazi occupation of Poland and explores the politicization of the youth at this time.

Wajda had just finished film school when he made this film, it shows the influence of Italian realism without losing any of its Polish credentials.

Wajda has said that he was not entirely happy with the film arguing that it did not quite capture the sense of desperation he wanted. It, nevertheless, remains a potent film about power and resistance.

Tadeusz Lomnicki, one of the few actors who had appeared in a film before, plays the lead Stach with a mixture of naivety and political awareness. At times his smile almost looks imbecilic but this is the mask of a very aware young man. An excellent performance.

Roman Polanski is in the cast and Wajda's influence on him can be seen in his film "The Pianist".

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Journey to Italy

Journey into understanding.

(Edit) 29/11/2018

The film has been described as the Italian film that kickstarted the French New Wave, a very important film. For me it does not live up to that billing. Yes it has the languid introspection of the new wave where little happens but a lot is understood but often loses its way under the Italian sun in a miasma of frustrated egos.

George Sanders was said to be annoyed at the lack of a definitive script for the film. It shows in his performance which is somewhat stilted, although this could be an excellent performance of an unemotional English businessman. Ingrid Bergman as his wife, gives a more nuanced performance without going too deep into the emotional turmoil of the character.

As always in a period piece, in this case Naples in 1954, the street scenes give a great documentary context.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Kaos

A visual feast

(Edit) 26/10/2018

Another lesson in the art of cinematography from the Taviani brothers.

Four short pieces and an epilogue based on stories by Luigi Pirandello. Fables set in early twentieth century Italy.

The performances are excellent, there is the history of the Italian nation in the faces of the actors.

The landscapes, the buildings, the interiors, take on characters of their own, each shot framed for the gallery wall.

A truly delightful visual feast.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Il Posto

Job centered

(Edit) 17/09/2018

Olmi's first films were documentaries and the documentary feel infuses all his later feature films putting Olmi at the forefront of the Italian neorealist cinema.

The film tells the story of two young people entering the world of work, in this case a large office in Milan. The aptitude tests for the job are quite farcical, the people they work with are on the cusp of absurdity. The relationship between the two is beautifully drawn, they never kiss, hold hands briefly but the attraction between them shines on their faces.

Sandro Panseri who plays the young man Domenico has in some of his reflective moments the deadpan look of Buster Keaton particularly in the embarrassingly awful Christmas party he goes to, hoping to see Antonietta played by Loredana Detto. She gives a delightful, sparkling performance; she never made another film but did marry the director.

A delightful film.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Tree of Wooden Clogs

"The Whisper Of Generations"

(Edit) 17/09/2018

This film is rightly acclaimed as a masterpiece, it has all of Olmi's documentary background without ever being voyeuristic. We are allowed the privilege of observing the life of a rural community, love, loss, despair and hope with no hint of sentimentality, all against the background of the changing seasons.

A caring film.

Olmi who died on the 5th of May 2018 said his films were about what the poet Zanzotto expressed as "the whisper of generations".

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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The Night of Shooting Stars

The landscape of war.

(Edit) 14/08/2018

The Taviani brothers are rightly lauded for their 1977 masterpiece "Padre Padrone". This film while not quite matching "Padre Padrone" is a fine example of the brothers' cinematic art.

War does not have to be depicted in bombed out cities or ravaged grey landscapes it can just as effectively be shown against the beauty of Florence and the sun soaked hills of Tuscany. The film just steers clear of mere whimsy, the characters are engaging, the relationships moving and all acted out against the background of encroaching tragedy.

A beautifully shot poignant film.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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The Rules of the Game

More than a game.

(Edit) 14/08/2018

How can a film so hated by critics at the time become nearly eighty years later praised as one of the great films in the history of cinema? Certainly the depiction of the French upper class and their moral callousness would not have been endearing to the ruling class and indeed the film was banned because of the effect it might have on the morals of the young. Renoir wrote that, "During the shooting of the film I was torn between my desire to make a comedy of it and the wish to tell a tragic story." A year after the film's release the Germans marched into Paris.

The acting is often too studied, the realisation at times farcical but beneath the frivolous surface is, in retrospect, our knowledge that these characters are about to be pawns in the rules of the game of war. Renoir wrote, "it is a war film and yet there is no reference to the war. Beneath its seemingly innocuous appearance the story attacks the very structure of our society."

For me the best performance is by the director himself, Jean Renoir plays Octave with a wonderful mix of comedy and Pathos.

The cinematography is wonderful a true masterclass in effective use of a camera.

Renoir was so concerned about the reception of the film that he "resolved either to give up the cinema or leave France".

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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I Capture the Castle

Perfect casting.

(Edit) 01/05/2018

The casting for this adaptation of Dodie Smith's 1948 novel is wonderful. Romola Garai is perfect as Cassandra, the right mix of naivety and worldly-wisdom. We know Bill Nighy can do charm and humour but here he dishes up angst and anger. To mention just two performances may be a disservice to the rest of this excellent cast.

The quality of the performances and Heidi Thomas's sparkling screenplay steers this film away from being a flimsy costume drama into a drama with bathos and genuine humour.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Paterson

Paterson in Paterson by Paterson with Paterson

(Edit) 01/05/2018

"I've just seen a great film. You ought to see it."

"Good. What's it called?"

"Paterson."

"Is that the name of the main guy?"

"Yes and the name of the town he lives in."

"Oh and what type of guy is Paterson?"

"A bus driver."

"The film's about a bus driver?"

"He gets up at the same time every morning, has the same breakfast, walks the same route to the bus depot and drives his bus about town."

"Sounds riveting."

"Oh and in his spare time he writes poetry."

"Poetry? Is it any good?"

"Rather mundane."

"He's a loner right?"

"No he's married, his wife is a bit eccentric . . ."

"Well that's something."

" . . . but she's lovely. Oh and in the evening he takes the dog for a walk and goes to a bar, same stool, same drink."

"And does anything happen to him?"

"Not really. He meets people. He observes people. He disarms a guy who's waving a toy gun."

"And you recommend this film?"

"Oh and something sad happens to his poetry."

"Oh dear."

"Best film I've seen in a long time."

"You mean that don't you?"

"Yes."

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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La Terra Trema

The earth trembles but nothing changes.

(Edit) 04/04/2018

Visconti films every shot with precision and awful beauty, there is not a frame out of place. This is the real life of the exploited working-class fishermen in Sicily in 1948, The actors, the real people of the village, show their story with genuine sincerity. They speak their language and every word is a cri de couer. Nothing overblown about the storytelling and nothing sanitised about the ending.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Cosmos

A metaphysical mystery.

(Edit) 20/03/2018

The director Andrzej Zulawski referred to "Cosmos" as a "metaphysical noir thriller. It is based on the novel of the same name by Witold Gombrowicz.

A couple of friends escaping Paris, played by Jonathan Genet and Johan Libéreau, stay at a country boarding house and get drawn in to the strange world of the occupants.

Some great performances, particularly Sabine Azéma as Madame Woytis locked into her own angry world and her husband played by Jean-François Balmer living in his own world with its strange speech mannerisms.

The image of Witold (Genet) walking into the sea with his umbrella up shouting, "I'm afraid of the sea" neatly sums up the tenor of this film.

This was Zulawski's last film before his death from cancer.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Celine and Julie Go Boating

Silly surreal

(Edit) 20/03/2018

Celine (Juliet Bero) and Julie (Dominique Labourier) collide rather than just meet and enter into a strange rather childish relationship. They get caught up in a weird domestic melodrama that repeats and repeats throughout the film. So far so surreal, the lead performances are strong, sometimes I imagine improvised but they don't always capture the sense of strange in the piece, the surreal sometimes becomes just silly.

This is a mid-period picture from Jacques Rivette running for three hours and nine minutes dwarfed by a later work "La Belle Noiseuse" (1991) which runs for four hours and falling well short of a piece conceived for TV, twelve hours and forty minutes.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Angel Face

Fall with the angel.

(Edit) 24/01/2018

From the minute you see Diane (Jean Simmons) playing the piano, the white face framed by the black wig, Morticia like, you know she is trouble. Frank (Robert Mitchum) gives her the Mitchum quizzical look and you know there is only one trajectory for this couple and that is downwards and in the final scene backwards.

A good story, neatly told, with fine performances. Barbara O'Neil is great as the wicked stepmother.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Le Doulos

You shoot my back and I'll . . . .

(Edit) 18/01/2018

The title means "hat" and in this context is slang for a police informer. It is another Jean-Pierre Melville's homage to the American gangster movies of the 1930s.

It contains all the ingredients of the classic gangster movie some of them verging on the cliché. The trench coats, the snap-brim hats, the so carefully positioned cigarette dangling from the mouth and the night club scenes. The black musicians, the dancer on the counter, the staring clientele and the barmen who see everything but say nothing. The women in the film are mere decoration, used and abused.

Jean-Paul Belmondo is louche in every muscle, he smiles once but it doesn't suit him.

There is cross and double-cross and not many left standing at the end.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Army of Shadows

Powerful resistance

(Edit) 21/11/2017

Director Jean-Pierre Melville was a great fan of the 1930s Hollywood gangster movies and in "Army of Shadows" the resistance fighters take on the insouciant air of people going about their business even if that involves killing one of their own. Lino Ventura plays the leader of the underground cell with steely determination, even when taking his first parachute jump he has a little glance at the approaching ground, his life being less important than the overall aim of getting rid of the Nazis.

The opening scene of the German army marching past the Arc de Triomphe is as ghostly as it is ghastly. It sets the grey tone for the rest of the film.

Some minor gripes, all the characters looked immaculate, except those that had just been tortured, it was a pretty austere time in French history. The British servicemen in the London nightclub had the carefully groomed hair of the 1960s and, definitely no double yellow lines outside the Park Lane Hotel in 1942.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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