Saturday, January 9, 2010

Review: White Heat, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Asphalt Jungle, and the Posieden Adventures

The Poseiden Adventure: Wow. That's mostly what I got: wow! Basic Plot: A boat in the middle of the ocean gets hit by a huge tidal wave, which appropriately tips it over. This is the story of the survivors. A stellar cast with so many names in it that I can't really begin. Everyone - the names, the no-names are all wonderful! I can't even begin to imagine how this was shot - and my appreciation goes to every single person in this cast and crew.
Strangely enough, I love disaster films. They all follow a basic plot line (unless based on true events) and most of the time, everything comes out in the end. You've got the mix of people, the tension of disaster, the fight for survival, and of course, danger, adventure, and above all, hope. One thing this film has taught me is that if you are going to survive a disaster film, you have to have sporatic to no use. Think about it as you watch it. Once a person has served their purpose, they are more than likely going to die. It is inevitable. And I don't say that to be mean, it is just how it is. I cried, no I bawled at a couple of the death scenes. It's not so much the actual death as it is the effect the death has on those left behind - now THERE is where most of the drama lies. My only problem with this film is that it ends so abruptly. They're out, the end. Wait! I want to know what happens to them - are they going to be all right? What will come of this event? How (other than the obvious) has it changed their lives?
Stellar movie - 4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars!
The Asphalt Jungle: A pretty good heist film - except that nobody gets away with anything, and I'm pretty sure that is the message it wanted to send. Kind of like if Ocean's Eleven were to happen in real life. It's a pretty gritty world - trust no one and keep your nose clean or you'll regret it. This is a pretty typical look at 1950s crime films. It's entertaining enough. Doesn't blow you away, but it keeps you interested. Acting is pretty fair - including a role for a young Marilyn Monroe playing the girl toy of a "rich" lawyer. Sad, that she usually never leaves that persona. Even typical is the speech at the end - you know, the hard city filled with crime bit by the commissioner - pretty sure this is the epitome of that. Interesting enough, you don't really care for the commissioner or the coppers - you're routing for the criminals - except for those who double cross the team. They don't want to kill anyone, so they're completely sympathetic. One man just wants to support the family, one dreams of returning home, one is an old man looking for funds to "retire" in Mexico, and one is a crooked back man who owns a diner and is always there for his friends. A very likeable lot. It makes you wonder why people make films like this. Why do we like to like criminals??
An average 3 out of 5 stars.

The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit: I should have liked this film. I love Gregory Peck, I love when things work out in the ending, and I love good stories, but I did not like this film. I don't exactly know why. Acting was not brilliant, but it was good. Peck as the father figure (which is what almost all of his roles are - whether he is playing a father or not.) Jones (as his wife) did a good job - and even the children (who were little snots) played their roles well. I will say that the set decorator did a marvelous job on the first house. It was so plain - it perfectly fit a family like theirs, so Cudos!
What I think really drove me away from this picture is the overall depressing feeling it gives. Like I said, it is a story that ends happily, but from the get-go there is a feeling of let-down, of trouble, of inability and marred circumstances. And it pervades the whole picture. You're sympathetic to almost everyone in the picture, but its too much. You never get over feeling sorry for this man. It's a terrible view of the post-war, corporate world. Working business man oppression. Having to watch everything you do so the Big Boss will approve. And materialism. The kids drove me crazy - it wasn't that they were bad so to speak, but they ignored their father. They shut almost everything out - and no one but that darn nanny would disapline them for it. And most everything got worse and worse as the film went on. By the time things were straightened out (somewhat) you were too exhausted with the weariness of it all that you didn't care if it turned out okay.
I'm sorry, but 2 out of 5 stars.
White Heat: "Made it Ma! Top of the World!" James Cagney at his very best. I don't know why this movie isn't more acclaimed than it is - and it is somewhat acclaimed within its own genre.
Basic Plot: Somewhat psychotic gangster (Cagney) who has a mother fascination admits himself into the Illinois State Pen. for a false crime to get away with a bigger crime. While inside the shit hits the fan so to speak, and Cagney goes crazy. To tell you more would be to ruin it, so I will stop.
Cagney is BRILLIANT. He plays his character so well. He really seems insane. The moment he gets some bad news in the prison, he goes crazy. And it's terrible to watch, but its so pawerful! You feel for him, even though he is a cold-blooded character. Not to long after you see him shoot up a guy in the trunk of a car and laugh about it. His performance is so strong, so intense. You know, I take it back, he is not completely cold-blooded because you can see it when he finds out he has been tricked by a guy he trusted. He laughs, but you can hear the disbelief in his voice as well as maybe a tear or two.
Cagney kind of outshines everyone else in the picture, but if nothing else, they hold their own. Mayo as his wife is so perfect - and Hutchinson (as the mother) is pretty great. The man playing Hank is also very well ept to his role (both of them!)
It's a great film noir/gangster picture with an ending that will blow you away!
4 and 1/2 out of 5 stars!

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