Thomas Schuhly

Thomas Schuhly

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Alexander Review


Unbearable
To paraphrase the obnoxious David Spade, I liked Alexander a lot... when it was called Troy.

In fact, Oliver Stone's overblown biopic detailing the global conquests of Alexander the Great (Colin Farrell) would make a nice bookend to Wolfgang Petersen's lopsided sword-and-sandal epic. One day you'll be able to tap Netflix for the two titles and combine them for a battle-worthy double feature. You'll only need an entire weekend to wrap it up.

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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Review


OK
Before he made The Brothers Grimm, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen was arguably Terry Gilliam's least popular film. The story is slow to start, takes too long to finish, and meanders almost irredeemably until finally paying off in the end. The story is adapted from the "tall tale" book of the same name, which gives us a self-proclaimed baron (John Neville in a career-defining role) who regales anyone who'll listen with story after story, each more absurd than the last. The highlight is the film's first major storytelling sequence, a flashback that involves Munchausen and his band of misfits trying to win a bet -- and doing so in amazing style. But so much of the film is so irrelevant that these feel like huge highlights lost in a sea of mediocrity and bad editing.

Veronika Voss Review


Grim
Rosel Zech's Veronika Voss, like Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond, is a washed up and forgotten actress. And only through the actions of an otherwise oblivious outsider does Veronika make it back to the silver screen, with results not much better than Norma's.

Rainer Fassbinder's final film is a black-and-white ode to defeat, its questionably sane star obsessed with her own faded fame and willing to do anything to reclaim it. It doesn't seem terribly self-referential; Fassbinder was at the top of his game before he killed himself shortly after finishing the movie (curious point of trivia: Voss meets her end in an identical same fashion). Perhaps, though, it was frustration with filmmaking that led to Voss's big screen recreation -- or his frustration with life in general. (Of note: Voss is reportedly based on a real German film star, popular during the Nazi era and all but forgotten after its collapse.)

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The Name of the Rose Review


Weak
Franciscan and Benedictine monks are dispatched to a remote monastery to resolve a dispute over doctrine in The Name of the Rose. When William of Baskerville (Sean Connery) and his novice Adso (a very young Christian Slater) arrive, they find the discussions have been stalled by the death of a young, talented scribe. The resident monks are all atwitter, wringing their hands and worrying that the murder is a sign of the apocalypse. Their fervor reaches a fever pitch as more of their brethren begin to turn up dead, describing some choice passages of Revelations. So William fires up his logic, ceaselessly name checks Aristotle and begins to piece together a mystery that involves secret secular knowledge, a labyrinthine library, and a struggle between wild religious superstition and cold reason.

Based on Umberto Eco's dense and demanding bestseller, The Name of the Rose, is basically a love letter to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Unfortunately, the film version never passes up an opportunity to remind us of that fact.

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Thomas Schuhly

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