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Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (again) (review)

This is a geeky rehashing of The Phantom Menace, after a summer of six viewings of the movie and endless debates and discussions with other fans and friends in person and via e-mail, and in response to some of the criticism that has been aimed at the film by various folks online and off.

Star Wars (review)

What can I possibly say about *Star Wars* that hasn’t already been said a hundred times? George Lucas’s modern fairy tale must be one of the most discussed, most analyzed films of the century…

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (review)

Honestly, I’d pay cash money to see either Neeson or Ewan McGregor on his own read from the phone book, and the two of them together is almost too delicious to bear. His Obi-Wan unfortunately doesn’t have an awful lot to do, but McGregor wastes no opportunity to be brilliant, reigning in a young man’s impetuousness with a Jedi-in-training’s emotional control — that these two opposing forces are at war within him is clear throughout the film.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace: The Trailer (review)

Of the original trailer, I wrote, “It’s like coming home to a place I’ve never been.” Just the snippets of the film we’re shown in the new trailer make that feeling all the stronger. The organic reality of Lucas’s imaginary universe appears not to be diminished by the abundant use of CGI — the rolling hills of green grass, the city on the cliffs we see as the trailer opens look as real as the faces of the actors. Their faces already seem like those of old friends.

Hamlet (review)

Olivier’s take on Shakespeare’s story of madness and murder most foul is unmistakably a filmic one — with its monologues recast as internal thoughts heard in hushed voiceovers and use of dizzying camerawork to show Hamlet’s inner turmoil, this could never have worked on stage. The emotional desolation of Elsinore’s inhabitants is conveyed with a roving camera that swoops down on characters plotting or moping in huge, empty halls.

Gone with the Wind (review)

If you love Gone with the Wind, you must see the restored version that’s new to video. The remastered soundtrack is crisp and clear, and Max Steiner’s lavish score sounds wonderful, but it’s the cleaned-up film stock that astounds: Victor Fleming’s 60-year-old movie looks like it was shot this year.

Wings (review)

Anyone who doubts that silent films can be just as engrossing as those newfangled ‘talkies’ needs to see Wings, an early buddies-go-to-war story that still echoes in today’s movies.

Star Wars Trilogy: The Special Editions (review)

A recent episode of Showtime’s Stargate SG-1 featured this delightful line: ‘We’re afraid you’re gonna dark side on us,’ one character says to another who’s under the sway of the enemy. The mythology of Star Wars has presented us with a new verb: ‘to dark side.’ I love it.

Titanic (again) (review)

I’m particularly struck by one key to Titanic’s success: repeat business from teenage girls. Usually it’s the boys making testosterone-soaked action movies big hits, filling the theaters for second, third, and fourth viewings…