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Reviews for the week of July 16, 2001.

Monday:
Shadow of the Vampire

Shadow of the Vampire
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John Malkovich and Willem Dafoe star in this spectacular movie about the making of what is considered to be the greatest vampire film of all-time, Nosferatu. John Malkovich plays the director, F.W. Murnau and Willem Dafoe plays Max Schreck, a supposed "character actor" who takes the role a little too seriously. Max plays Count Orlock in Nosferatu, but will show up for filming only in full costume and make-up, and only at night. But there's a deeper story behind it all.... Max Schreck really IS a vampire, or so it seems.

This movie was fantastic, all of the actors were excellent (especially Dafoe) the directing was incredible, and even the scenes that were supposed to be from Nosferatu really looked like they were. The last scene is absolutely perfect (I won't spoil it!), it's so haunting...it rather reminded me of the last scene from the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It leaves you thinking "Who is the real monster?" the blood-thirsty, lonely vampire? Or the crazed director determined to make the film perfect?

Of course it did have it's flaws, such as the unnecessary drug use (Thank you Hollywood!), which was...rather pointless. Of course, this seemingly pointless lead to unnecessary nudity as well. You really get the feeling that those scenes were just because Hollywood thought it would make it more commercial.

Aside from these little blunders, this was a terrific film. John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe and Cary Elwes (Yay!) were all absolutely fitting for their roles, the sets were incredible, everything was top-notch.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Wednesday:
Guys and Dolls

Guys and Dolls
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Guys and Dolls follows the story of four lovable characters in 1930's New York. Frank Sinatra plays Nathan Detroit, the operator of a floating crap-game, who's been engaged to the same girl for fourteen years. Vivian Blaine plays Adelaide, Nathan's fiancée. After fourteen years, Adelaide is ready to settle down, but Nathan thinks differently. While the cops are turning up the heat, it's turning harder for Nathan to find a place to operate his crap-game. And the only way he can get a spot is by paying $1,000 for one night. So he bets a successful gangster, Sky Masterson, played by Marlon Brando, $1,000 that he can't take a certain doll with him to Havana the next day. Masterson accepts, and Nathan selects a stubborn Save-a-Soul Missionary named Sarah, played by Jean Simmons (No, not THAT Jean Simmons!).

Musicals DON'T get better than this. *EVERY* song is fantastic, and the film provides good acting and a lot of laughs. Marlon Brando is perfect for the part - even though his voice isn't up to par with Sinatra. This film is wonderful and remains my favorite musical of all-time. Vivian Blaine is remarkable as the restless Adelaide, and you couldn't get any better since she was the one who played her in the original Broadway musical. All in all, this is regarded by many as being "the only musical worth watching", and it remains a favorite of those who otherwise loathe musicals.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Friday:
Snatch

Snatch
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Snatch is a face-paced action/comedy along the lines of Pulp Fiction and Guy Ritchie's first film, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Actually, it seemed like an attempt to Americanize LS&2B. A lot of the gags, characters and situations are very similar to the first film, only, of course, made to be more accessible to American audiences. Of course, that's what it's all about these days, making films commercially viable, as opposed to just making a good film. The first film swept the U.K. like The Full Monty did in 1997, but unfortunately didn't do as well on the American Market because mainly it was made for British audiences, and the Americans didn't pick up on a lot of it because most of us aren't every educated when it comes to British lifestyle. Which is extremely unfortunate, as the movie is VERY good, being it's both a good action/crime movie and a comedy.

While Snatch is in every way a fun, funny and action-packed movie, but of course, it all seems a little routine. Although it might be considered "just another heist-flick", it's slapstick humor saves it. A little over-the-top at times and overly-slapstick, it still makes for a very enjoyable ride. Although this movie is missing some qualities the first film had, such as, it's a great comedy, but not a great crime movie. Also, the violence in it isn't done as "tastefully" as in the other film, in Snatch the violence is a lot more graphic, even when they're TALKING about violence. So for those of you who are disguisted by this sort of thing, this is NOT the movie to see.

Snatch relies heavily on gags used in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (itself a much better film), from the little inside jokes between the characters (in Snatch: "Ze Germans?", in LS&2B "Fat man/Tubby Tommy"), even some of the actors are the same! (Jason Statham and Jason Flemyng) and even Jason Statham's character Turkish reminded me of is character Bacon in the first film. In the first film, the lads were in danger of getting their fingers chopped off because of an unpaid debt, in Snatch, Freddy Four Fingers got his nickname for that exact reason.

In conclusion, Snatch has a lot of good laughs, a lot of good action and is certainly well-worth seeing....many times! But at the same time, it's rather routine plot and over-used gags make me believe it's only worth 3/4 stars. See Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Then see Snatch.

My Rating = Three Stars

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