Thursday, April 5, 2007

April 5th Log

2006, Robert De Niro, United States

1st Viewing, DVD

The Good Shepherd begins right in the thick of the story instantly taking us into its underground world of the CIA before taking us back to its earlier developments. The two stories are parallel each other in non-linear timeframe, but are essentially the same narrative centered around Edward Wilson, a Yale student who gets recruited by the CIA during World War 2. While the film settles in as it goes much of this left me occasionally confused to its full details. Perhaps that is the intentions as a reflection of the CIA being viewed from the outside as complicated and difficult. What results is an intelligent film that is well made but distanced and hallow of emotion. The dramatic elements are the film (such as the conflict of loyalty to his country and his family) come across less inspiring and the film begins to feel overlong at nearly 3 hours. Matt Damon gives a strong and understated performance under the direction of Robert De Niro (who is making his second feature film as director).

1954, Vincente Minnelli, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

It's the hardest thing in the world to give everything. Though it's usually the only way to get everything." I admit it… Cyd Charisse has a spell on me!! It's truly captivating and irresistible. Even though Brigadoon may not rate among the greatest musicals, or even among the very greatest films of it's filmmaker and actors, it remains a wonderfully magical film. It's a film of enchantment and fairy-tale beauty and romance. Adapted from a Broadway hit, much of Brigadoon is theatrical, but in the hands of the brilliant Vincente Minnelli it manages to becomes an exciting and lively film of style and grace. Minnelli mastered the musicals, and though he's not in top form, there are some fabulous sequences. Minnelli was also a brilliant master of using colors and visual detail. Even though much of the film is theatrical and held within a sound stage, Minnelli gives the film an additional style and manages to add a cinematic depth (particularly within the films brilliant ending). Charisse's beauty and charm is indeed a presence to behold and of course her dancing abilities are pure elegance in motion. Gene Kelly is not at his best here, but his dancing and chemistry works well with Charisse. Also, Van Johnson gives an amusing performance of one-liners in the comedic role. Brigadoon may not be in the class of the Minnelli-Charisse masterpiece The Band Wagon, but it does have an enchanting escapism quality which make musicals so fascinating.


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