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Structured Movie Reviews

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Attempting to do a few structured movie reviews for English & Foreign Language films. The "structure" involves evaluating the films based on the following parameters: a) Story/Screenplay, b) Acting, c) Cinematography, d) Background score, e) Direction, and f) Uniqueness/Impact. Each parameter is rated out of 10, the scores added to arrive at an overall rating out of 10 where 9 to 10 = Great, 7 to 8 = Good, 5 to 6 = Average, 3 to 4 = Bad, 1 to 2 = Worst. 

 

At this point, the highest rated film based on these factors  is In the Mood for Love at 10/10: 

 

Film: In the Mood for Love (2000)
Director: Wong Kar-wai
Oscars: Not Applicable

 

In the 60s HK, two neighbors discover that their spouses are having an affair with the other's spouse. The story focuses on how the neighbors deal with the issue by not only consoling each other but also trying to understand what could have driven their spouses to infidelity. In the process, they discover that love happens.

 

 

  • Story/Screenplay: The story is mostly focused on the two key characters. Their spouses are hardly ever shown (we do not see their faces) but we are constantly aware that there are 4 characters in the play much like how in Hitchcock's Rebecca, she seems to be present despite not being present. The interest to know what happens next and how the story would end is constantly maintained. (10/10)
  • Acting: Acting here is about subtleties, style, and sophistication. It is about the glance when passing each other, the rumination while smoking, dealing with life's daily rigmarole, and so on. The key actors have been nominated for acting at many events and won a few awards as well. (10/10)
  • Cinematography: The intelligent use of frames within frames and colors creates an engaging visual style for the film. (10/10)
  • Background score: Since many sequences use subtitles such as a glance to convey emotions, the score adds to highlight those emotions. On its own, the score is good to listen to. (10/10)
  • Direction: The director has crafted an intelligent film that reveals its cards at the right moments. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: In the romance-drama genre, this is a film that focuses on perfectly presenting the relatively few elements it showcases - the interactions b/w the two key characters in a selected environment, relying on subtleties, innovative cinematography, and an impactful background score. Can't ask for more. (10/10)

 

Overall score 60/60 = 100% = 10/10 (Great 9-10, Good/Above Average 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad Below Average 3-4, Worst 1-2)

 

Post your structured reviews too based on the above for English and Foreign Language films.  

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Film: Seven Samurai (1954)
Director:Akira Kurosawa
Oscars: Not applicable

 

A village hires Samurai to wage a battle against the bandits terrorizing the village.

 

  • Story/Screenplay: Brilliantly written. The mission is established straight away, the search for the Samurai, the character development, resistance and training of the villagers, the battle and sacrifices. The story takes place in the late 16th century (Sengoku period), therefore, captures the class distinction between the farmers and samurai as well. (10/10)
  • Acting: There are tons of characters ranging from brave samurai, bandits to a mix of shy, simple, and wise villagers. These characters come across nicely on the screen. The main villain could have been more menacing (much like in Sholay, which is based on this film). It is said that actors had to do multiple takes till Kurosawa was satisfied. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: Uses of different lenses, composition, angles, lighting, deep focus, etc., are all superb. Most frames can be great photographs. (10/10)
  • Background score: The title roles with mesmerizing drum beats. "Shichinin no samurai" is memorable. (10/10)
  • Direction: Kurosawa has created a masterpiece. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: This rich and complex film has inspired films such as The Magnificent Seven (1960) and Sholay (1975). The idea of assembling a team for a mission is used in films such as Guns of Navarone (1961) too. A great example of a timeless film. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 59/60 = 98% = 9.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Citizen Kane (1941)
Director: Orson Welles
Oscars: 1

 

The dying words of a tycoon are "Rosebud". What could it mean?

  • Story/Screenplay: The story moves forward non-linearly through interviews and flashbacks. Using different sources and perspectives, a picture or a puzzle of the life of the protagonist is presented. In one segment, the aging of characters and the growing differences b/w them are highlighted over a series of interactions. (10/10)
  • Acting: Orson Welles gives a strong performance, moving through various stages of the life of the character convincingly. The supporting cast consisting of Joseph Cotten plays its parts well. Many of the actors made their debut in this film. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: An effort is made to make almost every frame stand out. The use of lighting, frames within frames technique, deep focus, how actors move on screen (composition), etc., create a powerful visual impact. Much has been written about the film's cinematography. B&W films shot well are a treat to watch. (10/10)
  • Background score: The score does its job well when experiencing the film. Bernard Herrmann in his debut film is said to be given enough freedom to create different musical pieces for different segments of the film (in a period where a generic score for a film was acceptable too). (8/10)
  • Direction: How the package is put together including pushing the actors to give their best and taking creative decisions has made the film stand the test of time. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Frequently cited as among the greatest films of all time. It has been an influence on the film noir genre as well. (10/10)

Overall score: 57/60 = 95% = 9.5/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Black Narcissus (1947)

Director(s):  Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

Oscars: 2

 

This classic is based on the book with the same name by Rumer Godden dealing with the challenges that a group of nuns faces when setting up a convent in the remote Himalayas. The film was released on August 13, 1947 (a couple of days before India's independence) therefore saying goodbye to Mapu may appear to British as saying goodbye to India. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay: Captures the challenges of setting up a convent in a relatively remote location, along with the tension among the nuns. There is a love story angle as well. The most interesting aspect is the changes to the mindset of the nuns brought about presumably by the magical atmosphere of the location. (10/10)
  • Acting: The overall acting level suits the film. Most characters play their roles within their boundaries. There are a few challenging scenes involving Kathleen Byron at the climax. (8/10)
  • Cinematography: This is the highlight of the film. Jack Cardiff is able to weave a magical picture through colors and light. Words would not do it justice. The film won Oscars for both cinematography and art direction (Alfred Junge). (10/10)
  • Background score: The score is appropriate for the film. Much like the acting, it plays within itself. There are a couple of interesting cues when the magical location is first introduced and towards the climax. (8/10)
  • Direction: Powell and Pressburger are able to combine various elements of filmmaking sleekly to create a classic. Their vision for the locations, the pacing of the film, etc., is spot on. It is said that the directors believed this to be their most erotic film where the suggestions are to be read between the lines. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Considering the story which plays out the fantasies of nuns impacted by the magical atmosphere, the remote locations, and breathtaking cinematography, this is a unique film. At the time of its release, the film showcased the color technology at its best. (10/10)

 

"There is nothing in the innocent opening sentences of Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel Black Narcissus to suggest that the subsequent film version would be butchered by censors, banned, and eventually hailed as “one of the first truly erotic films” by one of the world’s great directors" – Martin Scorsese.


Overall score: 56/60 = 93% = 9.3/10 (Great 9-10; Good/Above Average 7-8; Average 5-6; Bad/Below Average 3-4; Worst 1-2)

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Film: Amores Perros (2000)
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Oscars: Not Applicable 

 

The paths of three dog owners cross in unfortunate circumstances in Mexico City.

 

  • Story/Screenplay: Three distinct stories of dog owners connected by an unfortunate incident. The stories have their pros and cons, creating different levels of interest. Love and infidelity angles are explored as well. The plot is not linear but it works for the film. The middle part, though different, is relatively weak. Apart from the dogs, viewers may not be cheering for too many characters. (8/10)
  • Acting: The film sports an ensemble cast. In general, the passion is maintained. The actors playing Octavio and El Chivo (The Goat) captured the spirit and emotional aspects (including lack of) of those characters. Dogs play their parts well too. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: The visuals successfully convey the grittiness of the story. You also get a feeling that the camera is handheld. The bleach bypass process on film is used as well (at least in the version that I saw). (8/10)
  • Background score: The score is energetic. It incorporates songs as well to bring a sense of style to the film. (9/10)
  • Direction: A complex concept is stitched together nicely, creating elements of surprise through the interwoven stories. Acting, cinematography, and score combine to create an energetic environment. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: The concept of interwoven stories of dog owners is unique. The film helped to maintain awareness about the ills of dog-fighting, which is said to be prevalent in Latin America despite a ban. Per the filmmakers, no dogs were harmed during the making of the film. The film is said to have infused oxygen into the flagging Mexican film industry at that time. (10/10)

 

Overall score: 54/90 = 90% = 9.0/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)
Director: Sam Wood
Oscars: 1

 

A language teacher and dynamite expert, volunteering for the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, is tasked to blow up an important bridge. Note this is not a film to learn about the Spanish Civil War.

  • Story/Screenplay: The goal/mission of the film is well defined, along with the motivations of the characters. The power struggle within the group is interesting. A substantial part of the film is devoted to romance as well, which makes the film appear less focused at times. (8/10)
  • Acting: The acting is appropriate for the film. Most of those playing Spanish characters display passion. Katina Paxinou won the Oscar for the best-supporting actress for her portrayal of Pilar. (8/10)
  • Cinematography: The Sierras, serving as Spain, help to make the film visually pleasing. The lighting in the cave is handled well. The colors make the outdoor segments shine. There is a painterly feel to the film in many segments. (9/10)
  • Background score: The score incorporates Spanish music elements, making it a good listen overall. This was the first complete score for an American film to be issued as a record. (9/10)
  • Direction: The film feels relatively modern for an early 40s film, providing a good visual and aural experience. However, it has pacing issues as well. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: If an Indiana Jones film were made in the 40s, it could have been like this one. Gary Cooper's outfit (and he teaches as well) reminds you of Dr. Jones. The last 30 minutes make you recall the Meteora sequence in For Your Eyes Only. As mentioned, the film feels relatively modern for an early 40s film. (7/10)

Overall score: 50/60 = 83% = 8.3/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: The Godfather (1972)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Oscars: 3

 

The fictional story of an Italian mafia family battling various challenges. 

  • Story/Screenplay: Brilliant adaptation of the Mario Puzo book. The characters are memorable. The screenplay with its dialogues is excellent. (10/10)
  • Acting: The film is driven by acting, therefore sports good actors in various roles. Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the Godfather.  (10/10)
  • Cinematography: A very good use of darkness and shadows. Frame within frame technique is utilized well. (8/10)
  • Background score: The Godfather theme lifts the film a few notches. The Italian segments has some nice notes. Though it is a reuse/rework of the Fortunella score. (10/10)
  • Direction: Nothing much to say here - Coppola translated his vision into a great package. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Often cited as one of the greatest films ever made, inspiring tons of movies in the gangster genre across the globe. (10/10)

Overall score: 58/60 = 97% = 9.7/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

 

Edited by zen
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Film: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Oscars: 0

 

A jury of 12 fiercely deliberate on the fate of an 18 year old defendant accused of stabbing his father to death. 

  • Story/Screenplay: One of the most interesting screenplays involving consensus building. Audiences feel a part of the proceedings as well. (10/10)
  • Acting: A talented group of actors manage to carry the film on their shoulders.  (10/10)
  • Cinematography: Mostly relies on camera angles as the scope is limited due to the room environment. (8/10)
  • Background score: Adequate for the film. Does its job. (7/10)
  • Direction: To craft such an interesting film using a naturalistic style and taking place mostly in a room is an achievement. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Unique due to the subject matter and for being shot in a room environment. It is said to have made an impact on many to take up a career in law. (10/10)

Overall score: 55/60 = 92% = 9.2/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Director: David Lean

Oscars: 7

 

A "loose" chronicle of T.W Lawrence's sojourn in Arabia (revisionist history). Based on his book the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

  • Story/Screenplay: Often rated as one of the greatest screenplays. Characters, situations, and dialogues are exceptionally written. (10/10)
  • Acting: A group of talented actors work together to make the story highly engrossing. (9/10)
  • Cinematography: The film created miracles on screen including the mirage. The transition from a light from a match to the rising sun. The capture of an immaculate desert, which serves as a character. (10/10)
  • Background score: Maurice Jarre score is among the most memorable and impactful in cinema's history. (10/10)
  • Direction: David Lean has crafted a masterpiece using a subject like T.W Lawrence in the background of desert. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: The film has been a major influence on directors such as Spielberg. Its cinematography, score, and screenplay are reference. In terms of visual and aural impact, this is a tour de force. (10/10)

Overall score: 59/60 = 98% = 9.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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9 hours ago, zen said:

Film: 12 Angry Men (1957)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Oscars: 0

 

A jury of 12 fiercely deliberate on the fate of an 18 year old defendant accused of stabbing his father to death. 

  • Story/Screenplay: One of the most interesting screenplays involving consensus building. Audiences feel a part of the proceedings as well. (10/10)
  • Acting: A talented group of actors manage to carry the film on their shoulders.  (10/10)
  • Cinematography: Mostly relies on camera angles as the scope is limited due to the room environment. (8/10)
  • Background score: Adequate for the film. Does its job. (7/10)
  • Direction: To craft such an interesting film using a naturalistic style and taking place mostly in a room is an achievement. (10/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Unique due to the subject matter and for being shot in a room environment. It is said to have made an impact on many to take up a career in law. (10/10)

Overall score: 55/60 = 92% = 9.2/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

Outstanding movie. Way better than 99% of so-called Oscar winners. 

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Film: The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976)

Director: Blake Edwards

Oscars: 0

 

Inspector Clouseau has driven former Commissioner Dreyfus literally mad. On the day when Dreyfus is to be evaluated as normal and discharged from the asylum, an unfortunate encounter with Clouseau has him locked up again. An enraged Dreyfus escapes from the asylum, gets hold of a doomsday weapon, and holds the world at ransom. His demand - either the world powers assassinate Clouseau (not an easy task even for the world powers) or face annihilation.

 

  • Story/Screenplay/Concept: The film has madness built-in at every corner. There is one memorable gag after another including the Egyptian being mistaken as Clouseau and the dentist segment. Some parts such as where Clouseau attempts to break into a castle may feel slow/not that hilarious today. (9/10)
  • Acting: Acting, especially by the two key characters, is spot on. Peter Sellers (Clouseau) and Herbert Lom (Dreyfus) are made of each other. A mad Dreyfus is one of the most memorable villains. (10/10)
  • Cinematography: The job gets done. (7/10)
  • Background score: Henry Mancini's Pink Panther and Inspector Clouseau themes are famous. The score is playful. Memorable tracks include the Evil theme, Along Came Omar, Come to Me, and so on. (9/10)
  • Direction: Blake Edwards is remarkable at putting out such an "insane" package. Edwards made 3 Pink Panther films before this one, therefore, probably needed to dial everything up to the max. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Films such as these are rare gems (just thinking about the film can make one laugh). Pink Panther's footprints are on various such films including Johnny English. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 53/60 = 88% = 8.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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Film: The Garden of Allah (1936)
Director: Richard Boleslawski
Oscars: 1 (Honorary award for color photography)

 

A Trappist monk leaves his monastery to seek other experiences of life, arriving at a juncture where he must choose b/w his love for God and his love for his wife. The Garden of Allah refers to the desert, which is where most of the story takes place.

 

  • Story/Screenplay/Concept: It is based on the book by Robert S. Hichens. It is a product of its time. The tension comes from the idea that once a monk takes his vows, he cannot turn back. The story has a poetic feel to it. (8/10)
  • Acting: It is a Marlene Dietrich film, which means it focuses on highlighting her personality and style. The other actors including Charles Boyer and Basil Rathbone also play their parts well. (8/10)
  • Cinematography: It was among a handful of films to be photographed in color at that point in time. The cinematography captures the locations (desert) brilliantly. Also the task of presenting Marlene Dietrich in color for the first time. (9/10)
  • Background score: The score by Max Steiner was nominated for an Oscar. The Arabian themes are interesting. Dietrich is supposed to have sung a song for the film as well but is not included in the film. (8/10)
  • Direction: Overall, this is a nicely done package that has aged well. (8/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: The film served to showcase color technology and received an honorary Oscar for it. The combination of the story of a monk's internal struggle and the location of North Africa (shot in California and Arizona), along with a 1930s Dietrich in color, are not seen too often. (7/10)

 

Overall score: 48/60 = 80% = 8.0/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

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one issue with this rating is that it ignores films that are purely the director's creation. For instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my all-time favs, but it cannot get more than 2-3 out of 10 in acting. in other words, it cannot get more than 52-53/60, which is lower than many films on the list so far. However, I would rate it highly than 80-85% films covered herein so far.

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On 9/4/2021 at 10:55 PM, Vijy said:

one issue with this rating is that it ignores films that are purely the director's creation. For instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of my all-time favs, but it cannot get more than 2-3 out of 10 in acting. in other words, it cannot get more than 52-53/60, which is lower than many films on the list so far. However, I would rate it highly than 80-85% films covered herein so far.

 

The acting would also consider the genre and the focus of the film. In 2001, HAL 9001 acting performance (using voice) for e.g. is not only good but also memorable. Other actors in the film perform appropriately. The film would get 7-8 for acting.

 

2-3 is worst to bad level. To get 2-3 on a parameter, a film would need to be at unacceptable levels on that parameter. Even many of Arnold or Jackie Chan films would get a 5-7 for acting per its genre and focus. 

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Film: Excalibur (1981)
Director: John Boorman 
Oscars: 0

 

 

A version of King Arthur's tale. A sword and fantasy film for the grown ups. 

 

  • Story/Screenplay:  It is based on the book Le Morte d'Arthur, published in the 15th century, by Thomas Malory. The story is adapted well for the screen. Some of the parts can be slow initially but still interesting. Once Morgana (played by Helen Mirren) appears on screen, the film picks up its pace. The last act is brilliant. (9/10)
  • Acting: Actors include Nigel Terry, Nicol Williamson, Nicholas Clay, Helen Mirren, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, and Patrick Stewart. For many of these actors, who also worked in theatre, this was their first major film.  Nicol Williamson's portrayal of Merlin is considered as the best by many. Helen Mirren as Morgana is good too. (8/10)
  • Cinematography: Cinematography helps to create a surreal environment while capturing the beauty of Ireland. The frames within frames technique is widely used. You can find the influence of film's cinematography in Zack Snyder films. (9/10)
  • Background score: A memorable score which utilizes music by Richard Wagner and Carl Orff too. To listen to the score by Carl Orff -> Link (9/10)
  • Direction: Boorman puts up a solid package utilizing many stage actors who would later go on to become known actors. Cinematography and background score help to make the film memorable. (9/10)
  • Uniqueness/Impact: Widely regarded as the best take on the legend of King Arthur. May have spawned a bunch of sword and fantasy films in the 80s. Said to be Zack Snyder's favorite film and one can see the film's influence on his work. Helped to promote Irish film industry. (9/10)

 

Overall score: 53/60 = 88% = 8.8/10 (Great 9-10, Good 7-8, Average 5-6, Bad 3-4, Worst 1-2)

 

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