movie film review | chris tookey
harsh reviews
An A to Z of the World's Deadliest Movie Reviews From Affleck
to Zeta Jones
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Michelangelo Antonioni
Writer, Director, L’ Avventura (1960)
The international claque that has been organized on behalf of this amateurish motion picture reminds me of the peole who cried out against the child who said the kind had no clothes. This film is a fraud. The simple truth is that Antonioni had no script, is not fertile at improvisation, and having produced a quantity of meaningless footage, has been so conscienceless as to go along with his producer's efforts to palm it all off as art.
(Ellen Fitzpatrick, Films in Review)
Writer, Director, Blow Up (1966)
Antonioni has always been a cold director. Blow Up is his coldest film to date. There's no one to identify with; nothing to follow through.
(Nina Hibbin, Morning Star)
Atmosphere and a self-indulgent cinematic exploration thereof are still the director's primary concern; plot and character and, above all, human emotion go by the board, and we are left with a heavy-handed dose of symbolism and a rather obvious message. Blow-Up is a cheat.
(Judith Crist, New York Herald Tribune)
Antonioni, like his fashion-photographer hero, is more interested in getting pretty pictures than in what they mean. But for reasons I can't quite fathom, what is taken to be shallow in his hero is taken to be profound in him.
(Pauline Kael, New Yorker)
Miss Redgrave seems a trifle out of her element, like the director.
(Eric Shorter, Daily Telegraph)
Another exercise in petrifying boredom from Italy's Nihilist director Michelangelo Antonioni. Blow-Up could have been an ingenious thriller, but it is ruined by Antonioni's inability to tell a story simply or with compassion and by his refusal to use movies as anything but an intellectual device to relieve his own frustrations. Most of the actors (especially poor David Hemmings, who might be a good actor for all I know, but who seems here more like a rummage-sale Terence Stamp) seem to have been shoved in front of the camera and told to "do something — anything!" The discotheque and pot party crowd scenes (which Antonioni has never been able to do well) are as phony and unconvincing as anything ever staged by Hollywood. Every time Antonioni's fable almost but not quite makes a point, he clutters the screen with silly sex scenes that are supposed to suggest an interjection of man's desire to relieve himself of responsibility, but they only serve to cheapen his statements. Consequently, Blow-Up looks like the work of a man who spends most of his life reading Playboy and never really learning what life is all about. It is spoken in English, but in any language in the world it has the unmistakable sound of a big fat yawn.
(Rex Reed)
Writer, director, Zabriskie Point (1969)
Antonioni is, in my opinion, one of the most pretentious directors in the world today, but because he has so successfully pulled the wool over the eyes of so many people who think a movie's importance should be related directly to its degree of incoherence, Antonioni movies have become causes celebres. I find almost all of them (with the exception of Red Desert and La Notte) beneath the level of intelligent discussion. Zabriskie is hilariously awful. It's as though some foreigner came to this country for the first time, met two student demonstrators at Berkeley and said, "Tell me what America is like!" then went out and made a movie about it.
(Rex Reed)
A small, sad shambles of a film that has obviously been salvaged from a larger shambles. Bad enough to give anti-Americanism a bad name.
(Joseph Morgenstern, Newsweek)
He has tried to make a serious movie and hasn't even achieved a beach party level of insight.
(Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
Writer, Director, Beyond the Clouds (1996)
This is the kind of art-house ordeal where the characters can most kindly be described as “enigmatic” (ie without motivation) and “full of existential angst” (ie they don’t relate to each other in any respect that is recognizable as human). At some point since the Seventies, Antonioni mislaid the Marxism which helped to make his films fashionable. But he is canny enough to know that taking any other kind of moral line might lose him friends and finance, so instead he takes a detached stance towards his characters which, taken in conjunction with his keen interest in female nudity, is indistinguishable from voyeurism. Bereft of life and depth, all that’s left are two hours of tedium, briefly interrupted by glimpses of pubic hair.
(Chris Tookey, Daily Mail)
What is this movie selling? The idea of the film director as a riddle wrapped in an enigma! And unadulterated narcissism.
(Karen Jaehne, Film Scouts Reviews)
It's a Come-Dressed-as-an-Antonioni-Movie Party. What is the point of a mellow sense of alienation? What's solitude, if it has brought along a few old buddies? Just stylistic
skywriting. All that fog and mist seems but a smokescreen for a film-maker who no longer has anything to say, but will defend to the last his desire not to say it.
(Tom Shone, Sunday Times)
Key to Symbols