Archive for February, 2009

Hot Fuzz

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), an extremely dedicated police officer in London’s Metropolitan Police Service, performs his duties so well that he makes his colleagues look bad. As a result, his superiors transfer him to the sleepy and seemingly crime-free village of Sandford in rural Gloucestershire.

Once there, he immediately arrests a large group of underage drinkers and a drunk driver, who turns out to be his eventual partner, Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), a well-meaning but ineffective police constable, the son of local police inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent). A serious action film fan, Danny is in awe of his new big city partner, who just might provide him with his chance to experience the life of gunfights and car chases he longs for. Angel struggles to adjust to the slow, uneventful pace of the village. Despite clearing up several otherwise unnoticed crimes in short order, including confiscating a very large stockpile of military equipment, including a sea mine and a number of unlicensed guns, Angel soon finds his most pressing concern to be an escaped swan. His serious manner and strict attention to the letter of the law also makes him the focus of dislike by some of his co-workers. However, Angel and Danny eventually bond over drinks at the local pub and action films.

Soon after Angel’s arrival, a series of murders disguised as accidents rock the village, all committed by a figure in a black hood and cloak. Increasingly convinced that Sandford is not what it seems and that the victims of the ‘accidents’ were murdered, Angel begins to clash with his colleagues. He refuses to drop the investigation and in front of several police officers announces his arrest of Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), the charming but sinister manager of the local Somerfield supermarket, of murdering the victims due to their involvement in a lucrative property deal. Skinner smoothly and confidently provides plausibly innocent explanations for all of Angel’s charges and goes free, the whole incident further damaging Angel’s credibility with his colleagues.

After being ambushed in his hotel room by the cloaked murderer, whom he knocks unconcious and reveals to be Michael Armstrong (Rory McCann), the enormous trolley boy of the Somerfield acting on Skinner’s orders, Angel is led to a nearby castle where he discovers the truth; Inspector Butterman, Skinner and the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA), intent on keeping Sandford’s title of “Village of the Year”, have been murdering anyone who might damage the village’s quaint and charming image. The fact that all of the murders that occurred after Angel arrived could be tied together in a property scheme is actually a coincidence, each victim having in fact been murdered for more trivial reasons. Inspector Butterman reveals that his wife committed suicide after the village lost the title many years ago, motivating him to use extreme methods. Angel discovers the bodies of various “problem” people whom the NWA disposed of before and since his arrival, before being cornered and ‘stabbed’ by Danny, apparently a member of the NWA.

Having tricked the NWA into believing that Angel is dead, Danny instead drives him to the village limits and releases him, insisting that he knew nothing about their true activities. Danny urges Angel to go back to London, reasoning that no one would believe the truth about Sandford. However, while at a motorway service station, Angel sees the action films he and Danny watched on a nearby DVD rack and is inspired to stop the NWA. He drives back to town and arms himself with the guns he confiscated earlier. After Angel meets with Danny in the village, the two begin to dispatch the members of the NWA in an increasingly destructive and frantic series of gun fights. Confronted by their colleagues, who are quickly persuaded of the truth, Angel and Danny take the battle to the supermarket. Skinner and Inspector Butterman flee, and are pursued by Angel and Danny to a nearby miniature park. There both Skinner and Inspector Butterman are apprehended.

Angel’s former superiors arrive from London begging him to return, as their crime rate has risen heavily, but Angel chooses to remain in Sandford. Back at the police station, the officers are ambushed by Tom Weaver (Edward Woodward), the last remaining member of the NWA. He attempts to shoot Angel but Danny jumps in the way and takes the bullets himself. In the resulting chaos, the confiscated sea mine is triggered and the station is destroyed.

One year later, Angel lays flowers on a grave marked ‘Butterman’; it is revealed that Danny has survived and the grave is his mother’s. Angel has been promoted to Inspector as the new head of the Sandford Police Service and Danny to Sergeant, and they go back on the beat together in Sandford.

REVIEW:

British comedy sometimes gets lost on me, but this film was quite entertaining and funny. I’ve come to the realization that I really like satirical parody type films.

The acting in this film is pretty good. Obviously, you shouldn’t go into this expecting some sort of Oscar winning performance. If you do, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

The murder scenes are a bit over the top, but they work for this type of film.

The action scenes are awesome and leave you wanting more.

I wasn’t really expecting to see this film, but now that I have, I’m glad I did. Granted, its far from being the best film in the world, but it is pretty good. I recommend it to you all!

4 out of 5 stars

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set two years after the first film, Reed Richards and Sue Storm are preparing for their wedding. A silver object enters Earth’s atmosphere, radiating cosmic energy that creates massive molecular fluctuations and causes deep craters at locations across the Earth. The government approaches Reed to build a sensor to track the movements of the object.

As the wedding begins, Reed’s systems detect the phenomenon approaching New York City, causing a massive power blackout. The object destroys the sensors while the Fantastic Four protect the crowd. The Human Torch pursues the object, discovering that it is a humanoid, a “Silver Surfer.” He confronts the Surfer, who drags Johnny into the upper atmosphere where the lack of oxygen and low air pressure snuffs his flame out, then drops him back toward Earth. Johnny manages to reactivate his powers and survives the fall. Later, when Sue tries to comfort Johnny, she touches his shoulders and their powers switch – he becomes invisible, and she is set on fire; when they touch again their powers revert back. Reed’s examination of Johnny reveals that exposure to the Surfer has set Johnny’s molecular structure in flux, allowing him to switch powers with his teammates through physical contact. Tracing the cosmic energy of the Surfer, Reed discovers that a series of planets the alien had visited before Earth have all been destroyed.

The Surfer’s movements around the globe bring him past Latveria, where the cosmic energy affects Victor von Doom, freeing him from two years as a metal statue. Doom, able to move again but scarred, traces the Surfer to the Arctic and makes him an offer to join forces. When the Surfer rebuffs him, Doom attacks. The Surfer returns fire, blasting Doom through the ice. The cosmic energy of the Surfer’s blast heals Doom’s body, reversing the changes seen in the first film.

Doom leverages his experience into a deal with the American military, who force the Fantastic Four to work with Doom. Deducing that the Surfer’s board is the source of his power, the group develops a pulse generator that will separate him from it. While setting up the device, Sue is confronted by the Surfer, during which he reveals he is merely a servant to the destroyer of worlds, and regrets the destruction he causes. The military opens fire on the Surfer, which distracts him and allows the four to fire the pulse, separating the Surfer from his board. The military imprisons the Surfer in Siberia and forbids the Fantastic Four from interacting with him, while they torture him for information. Sue uses her powers to sneak into his cell, where she learns more information from the Surfer. He tells her his master was known by the people of his world as Galactus, a massive cloud-like cosmic entity which must feed on life-bearing planets to survive, and that his board is a homing beacon which even now summons him to the planet.

Doom, pursuing the power in the board, steals it from the compound, using a device to gain control of the board and its powers. The Fantastic Four rescue the Surfer, and pursue Doom in the Fantasticar, confronting him in Shanghai. During the battle, Sue is mortally wounded. With the Surfer powerless, Johnny absorbs the combined powers of the entire team in order to battle the cosmic energy-empowered Doom. Johnny succeeds in breaking Doom’s control over the Surfer’s board, while Ben Grimm uses a nearby crane to knock Doom into the harbor where he is last seen sinking; however, Galactus has already arrived. The Surfer regains the control of his board, and his power is restored. He revives Sue and chooses to defend Earth, flying into Galactus and confronting him. The conflict results in a massive blast of energy, apparently destroying Galactus.

The film ends with the marriage of Reed and Sue in Japan, and the team’s creation of their signature “4” in the sky with the Fantasticar. The credits cut back to a shot of the Silver Surfer’s seemingly lifeless body floating through space. Just as he drifts off the edge of the screen his eyes open and his board races towards him.

REVIEW:

More often than not, sequels don’t live up to their predecessor. This film is one of the exceptions as it surpasses the original in just about every possible way.

The Fantastic Four once again are reprised by the same actors that portrayed them in the first film, and it doesn’t appear as if they lost a step. The interaction between the four of them is spot on with the source material and the acting is very well done.

Julian McMahon returns as Dr. Doom. Again, I don’t think the writers did enough research on the character, but at least in this one he’s more Doomlike and not so much Christian Troy.

The Silver Surfer is pretty impressive, though I don’t see what the issue was with getting him on screen. It looks like they could have used the same technology that as used in Terminator 2 for the liquid Terminator, but I may be over-simplifying things.

As I’ve said before, the main issue with this film is Dr. Doom not being…well…Dr. Doom. Also, they turn Thing back human way too often.  believe I said this in my review of Iron Man, when actors take on a role that they know is going to cover up their face, they need to accept it and not do all they can to not be covered up. It really takes away from the experience.

From what I’ve read, the reasoning for Galactus being a cloud is that they are saving him for the Silver Surfer’s film and didn’t want to give things away. What a load of b.s.! If you’re going to go through all the trouble of bringing him in to a Fantastic Four film, then use him right, don’t waste such an awesome character by casting him as a cloud.

The final thing that annoyed me is a minor thing. Jessica Alba in the first film had her normal colored eyes, but for some reason in this one they gave her blue contacts that didn’t even come close to looking natural.

Any fan of the comic will love this film. The Fantastic Four have always been one of those lighter groups, and this film captures the fun from the books. Unlike certain films that would rather be as dark, moody, emo, and brooding as possible, FF gives the viewer a chance to have fun. *GASP* What a concept!

4 out of 5 stars

The Ladykillers

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this adaptation of the original, the setting of the film is moved from London to Saucier, Mississippi, home of a riverboat casino. Actual filming, however, took place in Natchez, due to the real Saucier being situated in Harrison County and not bordering the Mississippi River.

In a quiet, beautiful community lives Mrs. Marva Munson, an elderly, God-fearing widow who answers the door one sunny morning to find the charming Professor Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, a pretentious Southern dandy, darkening her doorstep. He explains who he is and expresses his interest in the room to let, which is Mrs. Munson’s spare bedroom. He also explains that he is a musician and asks if it would be all right for him to use her basement as a place for recitals with his fellow “musicians”. She accepts the terms and agrees. Mr. Dorr’s fellow “musicians” are actually a gang of criminals, consisting of

  • Lump, the incredibly dumb but tough football player
  • The General, a quiet tough-as-nails donut cook with expertise in tunneling and garroting troublesome individuals (it was implied that his expertise and rank were obtained in the Vietcong)
  • Garth Pancake, a mustached animal trainer for TV commercials with expertise in explosives
  • Gawain, their “inside man”, a young janitor who works on the “Bandit Queen”, a riverboat casino.

With all of their talents combined, the group of criminals plan to dig through the crumbling, dried earth that has piled up to form a tunnel in Mrs. Munson’s basement and conclude that they will emerge in the vault of the casino. To avoid Mrs. Munson’s hearing the digging, they play orchestral CDs (most notably a CD of Boccherini’s Minuet (3rd movement) from String Quintet in E, Op. 13 No. 5 ) of as to seem that they are rehearsing, so she will not get suspicious. They dispose of all the unused dirt in Hefty trash bags.

After a series of comical mishaps that threaten to derail their plan, which include Gawain getting fired from the casino and Garth blowing his finger off in an accidental explosion (while demonstrating the ‘safety’ of C4 to the others), they break through the wall of the vault and snatch the loot, a scheme made even easier by Gawain, who has been rehired at the casino and is able to quickly repair the puncture in the wall. Mr. Pancake is able to rig a small explosion that will collapse the tunnel so it will never be discovered. The explosive seemingly turns out to be a dud, so Pancake ventures down the tunnel and, after examining it, inadvertently re-activates its timer. With about ten seconds before the tunnel collapses, Pancake crawls with all haste to escape, but his Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) starts to act up and this slows him down. It suddenly explodes and he is shot out of the collapsing tunnel and smashes into a table which has the money on it. Upon hearing the rumble, Mrs. Munson walks downstairs and finds out what her tenants have done. Outraged, she tells Dorr in a private conversation to either return the money to the casino and go to church to repent their sins, or else she will call the police. Dorr tells her he will consult the group. Not willing to give up the money, the gang decides to murder her and draw straws to do so.

Gawain loses, and must therefore shoot Mrs. Munson. When he goes to shoot her, he has a flashback of himself at ten years old, coming home with a spaniel puppy in his arms and asking his alcoholic, couch potato of a mother if he can keep it. She refuses and slaps him, claiming “you wait till’ your daddy gets home, he gonna lay into you proppa!”. Upon hearing him murmuring “please momma, I love you. He won’t shit in the house, I’ll train ‘im up proppa and wipe his butt an’ everything”, Mrs. Munson (whom Gawain was visualizing as his mother) demands to know what he is doing with her pillow, and snatches it away. After receiving a slapping, Gawain informs his fellow comrades why he can’t shoot her. An outraged Pancake tells him to accept his responsibilities and shoot her or face the prospect of being a coward, to which the group concurs. During an argument and brawl with Pancake, Gawain accidentally shoots himself in the chest and dies.

Lump and the General dangle the trash bag with Gawain’s body over a bridge and drop it when a huge garbage barge heading out to the garbage island passes below them. Meanwhile, Pancake steals the money and attempts to escape with his girlfriend, Mountain Girl. However, Dorr is no fool, and checks to confirm the money is still present. Dorr sends The General chasing after them, who promptly kills them both with his patented strangling wire, and their bodies are then dumped on the barge.

This time, the General pulls the short straw and walks up to Munson’s bedroom with his wire strangler, planning to strangle her in her sleep. He also back-flips his cigarette into his mouth so that the pungent fragrance of tobacco doesn’t wake Mrs. Munson. As he is about to kill her, he is surprised by an alarm clock sounding and accidentally swallows his lit cigarette. He reaches for a glass of water on the nightstand to get a drink, only to realize this is where Mrs. Munson kept her denture. In disgust, he retreats the glass, and still choking, he staggers backwards into the stairwell and trips over the cat, and falls down the stairs, smashing his head against the wall and breaking his neck, killing him on impact.

When Dorr and Lump dispose of the General on the bridge, Lump suggests to Dorr that they give the money back to the casino. Dorr insists that he is stupid and tells him that he has to do the killing. Lump refuses and tries to shoot Dorr instead because he doesn’t “want to harm a nice old lady”. The gun doesn’t fire, so Lump peeks down the barrel while pulling the trigger. It turns out that Dorr deliberately left one chamber empty, and he gets killed himself ,and falls onto the garbage barge passing under the bridge; timed perfectly due to Dorr’s ability to anticipate Lump’s every thought and move.

Dorr, left standing, discovers a raven sitting on a statue of death, which reminds him of Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven”. Being a great admirer of Poe, he pauses to reflect. When the raven flies off, the head of the statue breaks and falls off, hitting Dorr on the head, causing him to fall off of the bridge. His cape catches on the bridge’s underside railings, thus hanging him. His cape soon tears under his weight and he falls onto the barge.

Mrs. Munson wakes up, ignorant of last night’s proceedings. She first inspects the crack in the wall where the General impacted, and then goes down to the basement to find that the gang has seemingly disappeared, leaving all the money behind. The police refuse to believe her story about the robbery, believing her to be lonely and possibly senile. They believe they are just playing along and humoring her, so they tell her to keep the money she found, and agree that she can give it to the “bible school” in the South Carolina, Bob Jones University. In the film’s last moments, Pickles the cat is seen scurrying across the bridge and poking his head over the side with Pancake’s finger in his mouth. He then drops it onto the passing garbage barge, disposing of the last remaining piece of the villains.

REVIEW:

I chose to watch this film this week expecting a film more along the lines of Forest Gump. I was pleasantly surprised and entertained with the direction this film went.

Tom Hanks may have a few Oscars under his belt, but this film shows what we got to know him for initially…comedy. Not to mention, it really gives him a chance to flex his acting chops. The eccentric, exemplary performance he gives as the professor is astounding.

Marlon Wayans has stepped out of the Wayans family shadow and has really established himself as an actor, albeit the comic sidekick. However, I will admit, this film may not have been as enjoyable without him.

The rest of the cast is pretty  good as well. It was nice to see George Wallace on screen as the sheriff.

I’m no fan of remakes, but this one is pretty good. Of course, I haven’t seen the original, so I have no basis for comparison.

I didn’t really like how the film introduced the major characters, except Tom Hanks and Marlon Wayans’ characters. They just seemed to cut to a scenes with them, and then the next thing we know they’re appearing with Tom Hanks discussing the casino heist.

Tom Hanks really got into his role, but there were times when he lost me in the use of all those big words. I hate to say that, but its true.

Mountain Girl seems like she should have had a bigger role, and I wish she would have.

The altercation and back and forth between Pancake and Gawain are some of the best scenes in the film.

This is the kind of film that many people will enjoy. It’s a comedy, but not a sex farce or slapstick one. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you watch it, so go watch.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

After the events of the Toxic Avenger III, when the notorious Diaper Mafia take hostage the Tromaville School for the Very Special, only the Toxic Avenger and his morbidly obese sidekick Lardass can save Tromaville. However, an explosion results in some unforeseeable consequences, creating a dimensional tear between Tromaville and its dimensional mirror image, Amortville. While the Toxic Avenger (Toxie) is trapped in Amortville, Tromaville comes under the control of the superhuman powered hero’s evil doppelgänger, the Noxious Offender (Noxie).

REVIEW:

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten to know the Toxic Avenger and must say that this film is closer to the original than the previous two sequels in term of tone.

There were surprisingly quite a few relatively big names associated with this  film, such as Stan Lee narrating, Ron Jeremy and Cory Feldman is minor roles, and, though his scene was cut, Hugh Hefner. Say what you will, but those are big names compared to everyone else that has acted in the franchise.

I didn’t really care for the new voice of Toxie.  I may just be so used to hearing the previous actor, but for some reason, it just didn’t sound right.

The plot was a little convoluted and slightly confusing, but given the fact that it deal with two dimensions, it was supposed to be. I kinda wished they would have given more of a flashback on Lardass, rather than just a slight summary of where he came from in order to explain who this new guy was.

I’m sure the special needs community was a little outraged by the portrayal of those with disabilities in this film. I know I found it hard at times, but you have to remember this is just a film, and not very rooted in reality.

This was meant to reboot the Toxic Avenger franchise, but didn’t really accomplish that goal. That’s too bad really. As I said before, this is the best in the franchise, second only to the original. Take the time and give it a shot. It’s not the best film in the world, but you will enjoy it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hudson Hawk

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story begins with Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins (Willis), a master burglar and safe-cracker, attempting to celebrate his first day of parole from prison with a cappuccino. Before he can get it, he is blackmailed by various entities, including his own parole officer, a minor Newark Mafia family (headed by Stallone), and the CIA (Coburn along with Caruso and Toussaint and others), into doing several dangerous art heists. Throughout the movie, Hudson attempts to enjoy a cappuccino, but is foiled each time.

The holders of the various players’ puppet strings turn out to be a “psychotic American corporation”, Mayflower Industries, run by a husband-and-wife team (Grant and Bernhard) and their blade-slinging butler. The company, headquartered in the Esposizione Universale Roma (E.U.R.) in Rome, is seeking to take over the world by reconstructing “La Macchina dell’Oro“, a machine purportedly invented by Leonardo da Vinci which converts lead into gold. A special assembly of crystals needed for the machine to function are hidden in a variety of Leonardo’s artworks: the Sforza, the Da Vinci Codex, and a scale model of DaVinci’s helicopter design.

Sister Anna Baragli (MacDowell), initially his tail and later his refuge (and subsequent love interest), is an operative for a secretive Vatican counter-espionage agency, called the Vatican Organization by George Kaplan, which makes an unexplained arrangement with the CIA to assist in the Roman portion of Hudson’s mission, though apparently intending all along to use the connection to foil the robbery at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The movie culminates in a showdown at Leonardo’s castle, between the remaining CIA agents, the Mayflowers, and the team of Hudson, Five-Tone, and Baragli, to stop the Mayflowers from successfully operating the machine.

REVIEW:

I find it ironic that Bruce Willis chose to do this film, especially since it is such a blatant attempt at ripping off Die Hard. I guess it just goes to show you that he can make fun of himself.

I’ve seen Bruce in some roles where he just looks totally miserable, but here he looks like he really enjoyed himself. Something that I can’t recall him doing since the days of Moonlighting.

Danny Aiello is a very talented actor, but he seems to always be in the role of the sidekick or some type of mob boss. I can’t fault him for it, though. You gotta do what works for you and roles such as this one really work for him.

Andie McDowell really lit up the screen, especially in the later parts of the film, with her beauty. She gives a very solid performance as the undercover nun.

The rest of the cast isn’t too shabby either, containing names such as Sandra Bernhard, David Caruso, and James Coburn, just to name a few.

The all-knowing critics (note the sarcasm) panned this film, but I didn’t find it as bad they did. As a matter of fact I enjoyed the humor in it. As I often say in these reviews, everything does not need to be dark and serious, so a film like this that is light hearted and doesn’t take itself too serious is more than welcome.

There were parts that I didn’t care for, though. For instance, the whole flashback sense with Da Vinci made sense in terms of introducing what the object being stolen was, but weren’t really necessary. Neither was the book at the beginning and end of the film.

The action was allright, but I think there could have been more. The climactic scene at the castle really blew me away, though.

This is a really enjoyable film, no matter what some people may think. There are times when one just wants to watch something fun and that’s what the purpose of this movie is. So, if you’re looking for something along those lines, this is for you. If you’re looking for something darker, I suggest you stick to the Die Hard franchise.

3 out of 5 stars

Too Many Girls

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2009 by Mystery Man

TooManyGirls

PLOT:

When East Coast teen Consuelo “Connie” Casey (Lucille Ball) announces her plans to attend the coeducational Pottawatomie College in California, her father agrees — but not before he secretly hires four burly football players to act as her bodyguards. Desi Arnaz, Richard Carlson, Ann Miller, Eddie Bracken and Frances Langford co-star in this rollicking romantic comedy, a frothy musical also notable for being the film on which Ball and Arnaz met.

REVIEW:

Like most people, I mainly know Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy. It rarely comes to mind that she had a career before (or after) her mega-successful sitcom. I was impressed seeing by both her beauty and talent as a “Serious” actress.

This is classified as a musical, though it seemed more like a film with some songs interspersed here and there. It is a film version of the Broadway production, so that may have been how it was originally envisioned.

This is the film where Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz met, though they have very few scenes together on screen.

The music is ok. Seeing as how it was scored by the masters Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, I had high expectations, so that may have been why I was a bit disappointed. The music isn’t bad. I just wanted/expected more. At the end, Desi Arnaz comes out with a conga drum and I thought he was going to start singing “Babalu”, but instead the final number (the name escapes me) is what introduced America to the conga line.

Plotwise, the film has an ok plot, especially for the time, but I wasn’t really impressed with it. Something about it seemed a bit flat to me.

For fans of classic films, this is a must see, but for the average movie watcher, this may not be your cup of tea. It is a pretty good film, though and you should consider watching it.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Amadeus

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film begins in 1823 as Salieri, as an old man, attempts suicide by slitting his throat while loudly begging forgiveness for having killed a long-deceased Mozart. Placed in a lunatic asylum for the act, he is visited by a young priest who seeks to take his confession. Salieri is sullen and uninterested but eventually warms to the priest and launches into a long “confession” about the relationship between himself and Mozart. As the scenes later cut back to this dialog, it seems as if the telling of the story with the listening priest goes on through the night and into the next day.

Salieri reminisces about his youth, particularly about his devotion to God and his love for music and how he pledges to God to remain celibate as a sacrifice if he can somehow devote his life to music. He describes how his father’s plans for him were to go into business, but Salieri suggests that the sudden death of his father, who choked to death during a meal, was “a miracle” that allowed Salieri to pursue a career in music. In his narrative, he is suddenly an adult joining the 18th century cultural elite in Vienna, the “city of musicians.” Salieri begins his career as a devout, God-fearing man who believes his success and talent as a composer are God’s rewards for his piety. He is content as the court composer for Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II.

Mozart arrives in Vienna with his patron, Count Hieronymus von Colloredo, the Archbishop of Salzburg. While Salieri secretly observes Mozart at the Archbishop’s palace, they are not properly introduced. Salieri see that Mozart off-stage is irreverent and lewd. He also first recognizes the immense talent displayed in the adult works of Mozart. In 1781, when Mozart meets the Emperor, Salieri presents Mozart with a little “March of Welcome,” which he had toiled to create. At this meeting, Mozart first displays a childish high-pitched laugh which is heard, at times, throughout the rest of the film. After hearing the march only once, Mozart spontaneously “improves” this piece with minimal effort, transforming Salieri’s “trifle” into the “Non più andrai” march from his opera The Marriage of Figaro.

Salieri reels at the notion of God speaking through the childish, petulant Mozart, whose music he regards as miraculous. Gradually, Salieri’s faith is shaken. He believes God, through Mozart’s genius, is cruelly laughing at his musical mediocrity. Salieri’s struggles with God are intercut with scenes showing Mozart’s own trials and tribulations with life in Vienna: pride at the initial reception of his music, anger and disbelief over his subsequent treatment by the Italians of the Emperor’s court, happiness with his wife Constanze and his son Wolfgang, and grief at the death of his father Leopold. Mozart becomes more desperate as the family’s expenses increase and his commissions decrease. When Salieri learns of Mozart’s financial straits, he finally sees his chance to avenge himself, using “God’s Beloved” as the instrument.

Salieri hatches a complex plot to gain ultimate victory over Mozart and over God. He wears a mask and costume similar to one he had seen Leopold wear and “commissions” the young composer to write a requiem mass, with a down payment and the promise of an enormous sum upon completion. Mozart begins to write perhaps his greatest work, the Requiem Mass in D minor, unaware of the true identity of his mysterious patron and his scheme: to somehow kill him when the work was complete. Glossing over any details of how he might commit the murder, Salieri dwells on the admiration of his peers and the court as they applauded the magnificent Requiem when he claims that he is the author of the piece. Only Salieri and God would know the truth – that Mozart wrote his own requiem mass, and that God could only watch while Salieri finally received the fame and renown he felt he deserved.

Mozart’s financial woes continue and the composing demands of the Requiem and The Magic Flutedrive him to the point of exhaustion as he alternates work between the two pieces. Constanze leaves him and takes their son with her. His health worsens and he collapses during the premiere performance of The Magic Flute. Salieri takes the stricken Mozart home and tricks him into working on the Requiem. Mozart dictates while Salieri transcribes throughout the night. As Constanze returns that morning, she tells Salieri to leave. Constanze locks the manuscript away despite Salieri’s objections, but as she goes to wake her husband, Mozart is dead. The Requiem is left unfinished, and Salieri is left powerless as Mozart’s body is hauled out of Vienna for burial in a mass grave.

The film ends as Salieri finishes recounting his story to the visibly shaken young priest. Salieri concludes that Godkilled Mozart rather than allow Salieri to share in even an ounce of his glory, and that he is consigned to be the “patron saint of mediocrity.” Salieri absolves the priest of his own mediocrity and blesses his fellow patients as he is taken away in his wheelchair. The last sound heard before the credits roll is Mozart’s comical laughter.

REVIEW:

I know that most people these days don’t listen to classical music, and some may not even know who Mozart is. That is quite a sad fact of today’s society. I know this film, with all its historical inaccuracies, is often showed to classes as a way to show them the music of Mozart.

Tom Hulce may best be known as the voice of Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame,but he was nominated for a best actor Oscar in this role. After you watch this film, you’ll see why. He gives a riveting performance as the fun-loving and sometimes conflicted Mozart. It’s a shame we haven’t seen more of him since this film.

F. Murray Abraham does a pretty good job of making Salieri the villain of the film, even though history tells us that he had nothing but the utmost respect for Mozart. Abraham best moments are those when he is the aged Salieri, though. It is no wonder he won the Oscar for best actor.

The biggest issue with this film is the historical inaccuracies. As a student of music history, these irk me, but I still enjoy the film.

The opera scenes are done so well, that I actually wanted to go out and see an opera. If you’re going to make a film about a musician, especially Mozart, you better be sure to do his music justice, and they manage to do just that, even in the abbreviated forms that are used.

This film won the Oscar for best picture in 1985 and is listed as one of the best movies of all time. It’s not very hard to see why. As I’ve said before, I’m not really into “artsy-fartsy” movies, but I am a fan of music and Mozart, so of course I was going to watch and love this film. Although it is based on a play and not the actual story, it is very enjoyable and the 3 hours are gone before you know it. I recommend this fully for anyone.

5 out of 5 stars