The Greencine Five, Part VIII: The Tunnel, Henry V, LA Confidential, American Splendor, Dolls

Another Communist Underground

Loosely inspired by real events, Der Tunnel is the story of escapes from East Germany trying to get their family out. Tunnel‘s story is solid, but fake events added for dramatic effect drag the movie out a longer than is needed. The German view of victimization can be tiring, as real events of Statsi blackmail are compared to entirely imaginary accounts of the duplicity of Hollywood producers. The central romance never happened. 7 out of 10 stars.

The Greatest Battle in English History

Mind-bogglingly stylish, this combination of 300’s impossible battle and American Splendor’s (reviewed below) narrative-with-in-a-narrative is one of the greatest films of all time. Stylistically inspired by the Book of Hours, this color, 1944 adaption of Shakespeare’s play transitions the viewer from “what a cute old movie” to “this movie, if made now, would be groundbreaking.” The play is meant to follow Henry IV, and as such an otherwise pointless death scene doubtless makes more sense in the broader context. The romance with Catharine appears to be tacked on. Henrvy V gets 9 out of 10 stars.

Reflections of guilt and innocence

Run, don’t walk, from L.A. Confidential, a rip-off of Chinatownfeaturing a heavily telegraphed “twist” and the corniest role of Russel Crowe’s career. Take everything that made Chinatown good, give it a lobotomy, and you end up with this film. L.A. Confidential stumbles away with 7 out of 10 stars, only because the film it apes was so good.

The movie about the life behind the cartoon

A feature film by documentaries, American Splendor probably stays closer to fact than the other based-on movies reviewed in this batch (The Tunnel and Henry V). Proving that naturally cranky people can occupy lives worthy of being cranky about, Spendlor is the story of a comic book writer who daylights as a file clerk for a VA Hospital. Cleverly, those events actually happening with the real people are highyl stylized, while the cinematic renditions look the most realistic. An uperlifting though not saccharine film, American Splendor is not recommended.

Memories of Lost Love

To me, Takeshi Kitano will always be the bureaucratic mass-murderer in an unhappy marriage who falls in live with a middle school student. (I’ll also remember him for his role in Battle Royale.) In Dolls, the actor takes his hand at directing, writing a multi-dimensional story of lost love focusing reflecting a performance of the lost art of Japanese puppet opera. A predictable film with weak characterization, Dolls concentrates on style and nostalgia. An artistically weaker but easier to watch reflection of Dreams, Dolls earns 8 out of 10 stars.

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