Spencer S. (FrizzDrop)Wisconsin
Spencer's Recent Reviews
This film is about the week before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by the Romans, and the relationship between Jesus and Judas. Also, if the title doesn't tip you off to the epic power of this film, it is also a musical. A rock opera at that, written and scored by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. There isn't a great need for historical accuracy, or Biblical accuracy at that, and many points in the film have come up for dispute in the Christian community. The film actually took pains to sanitize itself in comparison to the original musical so not to offend them, though most of the time there is little difference between both. Though it may not be useful as an educational tool for the dogma of the Christian religion, it does teach about the relationship between the messiah and one of his apostles, and the way Jesus struggled through the end of his life, ending up very human and yet above it all with his sacrifice for the sins of everyone. He is damned, he does go before Pontius Pilate, and he does end his story with his crucifixion. The musical itself is a blatant anachronism of the seventies and the times of Jesus, fusing the savior's concepts of salvation with the free love and ambivalence of the sixties. The music in the first twenty minutes is the best of the entire musical and features the amazing pipes of Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, and Yvonne Elliman. The rest of the music (which is the only way the plot moves since there isn't any dialogue) is fairly rock opera-esque, but it's not until the final song that the music starts becoming huge and rock once more. The rest is slow and bleak as it tells the story of Jesus and how he must take the punishment of the Romans and his sacrifice. His and Judas' relationship in the film is really quite interesting and Carl Anderson's performance as Judas is both complex and understated. Ted Neeley is a bit of a shifty eyed pessimistic throughout, and I do believe his performance does not deserve the accolades it brought, or the forty year career he's had playing the character on Broadway. The film did do something different with the traditional musical when it came to sets, characters, in-jokes, and costumes, and that anachronism and tie to contemporary music made the story more accessible for an entirely new generation. Though the film drags in places it is definitely enjoyable and interesting when it came to the original story of frenemies.
Another in a string of Bette Davis' comeback movies of the sixties, "Dead Ringer" feels and looks recycled, but has all the mystery and charm of a Davis' film. What feels recycled ultimately boils down to the fact that many of the pieces of the plot are the same as other, better films. Davis had played identical twins earlier in the 1946 film "A Stolen Life" and Olivia de Havilland had basically played the same kind of role in a very similar film entitled "The Dark Mirror" from that same year. Murderous twins have always been an interesting thriller concept and noir staple, because of the extremes that siblings can present when they are given the chance to kill. Davis was reemerging in the public sphere after her Oscar nominated turn in "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?". This film and another film of that decade put Davis back into the limelight and with good reason. She was the queen of the film noir as well as acted in dramatic turns in the thirties and forties. This film exploits her popularity to the fullest, as well as her newfound fame, and without her this film would not have had the same impact, and wouldn't have been enjoyable. Another great performance in this film comes from legendary actor Karl Malden. It's his curiosity into the death of his girlfriend and compassion towards her twin sister that really makes a statement about how a person changes when they murder someone, no matter how sweet or innocent they were beforehand. It seems obvious why Edie kills Margaret: because she is in debt, her sister has everything because she married her former beau, and Edie has had a hard, miserable life. Her impersonation of her sister isn't always spot on, and the ensuing story about her living day to day, trying to keep up the mirage she's concocted, doesn't do much except tell us about the social life of Margaret. The film doesn't say much about Edie as a character, or how she feels while deceiving everyone, including her boyfriend, which is especially damning. She is immediately demonized after killing her sister, and is oftentimes shown to be unreliable, calculating, and very bitter. This film only emphasizes Davis, and most of the film is exposition that includes her own musings. The peripheral characters are mostly slags and socialites, and except for Karl Malden, none of them give any insight into the character of Margaret, who remains a mystery except for what little insight Tony gives us, which is only that he exists. Only the ending tells us anything about either twin, gives us any moral, or any damning existential question.
Spencer's Favorite Movies
This is by far my favorite movie of all time. It's not because of a dramatic turn, Oscar nominated to death, or funny enough for a million spit takes. Sometimes a film can just be what reflects your life, and this one is a transcript of mine. There's action, classic dialouge, a hint of romance, and the ever money grubbing Han Solo, original and everlasting. It may just be because I originally saw this at age four and thought it was the coolest thing ever, but it has resided in my favs for almost fifteen years. I'd like to see another film try to do that.
There's just so much love in this movie. Sure, it's Christmas themed, but if you truly want to know what family, respect, self worth, and time eternal means, this is the right choice. There's only so many nice things you can say about something before you're pouring out your heart and become wishy washy. I won't let that happen to this classic, but know that it's priceless.