Frank Finlay

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Inspector Clouseau Review


Grim
Few have seen this film, the third movie in the Pink Panther series (four years after A Shot in the Dark), a film which reunited, well, none of the original film's cast and crew. Starring a tragically miscast Alan Arkin and directed by a heavy-handed Bud Yorkin, Inspector Clouseau gives us the title character in another silly mystery (primarily involving bank robbers wearing Clouseau masks), but it's filtered as if through a carnival ride instead of Sellers' impeccible sense of timing. The film suffers without him and is instantly forgettable.

The Pianist Review


Excellent
Roman Polanski is said to have turned down the opportunity to direct Schindler's List because he felt it would be too painful. Himself a survivor of the Holocaust, Polanski's connection to the Krakow ghetto made the story all too personal. But with the release of The Pianist, it seems the director has finally come to terms with his pain.

Set amidst the ruins of another infamous ghetto -- Warsaw's Jewish district -- The Pianist recounts the horrors that Polanski could not face a decade ago. The movie tells the true story of pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman's escape from Nazi persecution and his subsequent struggle to survive. Unlike other mainstream Holocaust movies, though, this one doesn't try to portray heroism and selflessness as much as it does the actual process of surviving. In other words, it is about the constant act of searching -- for food, for water, for a new place to hide, and for a way out.

Continue reading: The Pianist Review

The Three Musketeers (1973) Review


Good
I saw the word "whimsical" used in one product description of this installment of The Three Musketeers, a faithful adaptation of the classic novel, and no word could better describe the film. It's a combination of belly laughs via non-stop sight gags, endless swashbuckling, and only a dab of plot, all of which serve to make this an engaging event movie that takes place in France instead of in space. Packed with classic actors (including Charlton Heston, Christopher Lee, and Raquel Welch), this is a fun, nearly farcical adventure that's definitely worth a look.

The Four Musketeers Review


Good
More of the same from Richard Lester, who made The Three Musketeers a slapstick classic. Extremely cute and nearly as much fun as the original (D'Artagnan, now a musketeer, has to save his girlfriend from the clutches of the evil Rochefort), but this isn't a story that's exactly begging for a sequel.

Dreaming Of Joseph Lees Review


Terrible
So why is Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown) Dreaming of Joseph Lees? Well, because this movie probably put her to sleep, for starters. While Fox's promotional material touts Lees as "sensual," "feverish," and "macabre," the reality is the movie is "boring," "sedate," and "limp." In 1950s England, Morton's Eva finds herself lusting after childhood buddy Lees (Rupert Graves), the devilishly handsome geologist (woo hoo!) with tales of adventure. Too bad she's also got farmer Harry (Lee Ross) trying to win her affections by getting pummeled in the boxing ring. And he's her cousin (okay, that's macabre). How the movie ends is neither surprising nor particularly interesting... nor is how it gets to that point. Fans of overwrought period pieces will likely be taken by the moody wandering of this picture. Saner viewers will not be.

Continue reading: Dreaming Of Joseph Lees Review

The Pianist Review


Good

An emotionally and factually detailed, uniquely personal true story of day-by-day Holocaust survival, "The Pianist" is a labor of passion on the part of director Roman Polanski (who as a child escaped German-occupied Cracow), a monument to those who persevered through the Nazi onslaught and a memorial to those who could not.

It's the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a composer and musician who played -- throughout a German a bombing run -- the last live music heard on the radio in Warsaw as the city was invaded in 1939. It's the story of how he felt hope because Britain and France entered the war, even as his family was one of thousands forced into a small, walled-and-razor-wired ghetto in 1940.

It's the story of how he eluded deportation to concentration camps in 1942 by hiding in the ghetto as it was emptied by German soldiers, how he became a laborer while the Nazi's had use for slaves, and how he escaped and bore witness from a distance to the month-long Warsaw uprising while starving and wracked with guilt in a series of empty apartments where he was concealed by sympathizers throughout the war.

Continue reading: The Pianist Review

Frank Finlay

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