1978 Ten Best Movies

A year in which an unusual film by the late Eric Rohmer takes the top spot. I have gone on a bit about Rohmer in previous posts, including this personal timeline, but Perceval is a singular offering by a director whose work so frequently consisted of modern people sitting around rooms talking. This one is the tale of a knight (Fabrice Luchini, early in his wonderful career) who rides through visibly artificial sets on a soundstage, and it’s not quite like any other movie you’ve seen.

But there were other movies in 1978, many of which are pretty interesting. To encounter Halloween and Days of Heaven as  a young person when they were first out was to feel the excitement of something happening, although it was possible to feel like something was happening even with less exalted titles, such as The Driver or The Fury. Hell, even Animal House was different. And so it’s easy enough to find the ten best movies of 1978:

1. Perceval le Gallois (Eric Rohmer)

2. The Tree of Wooden Clogs (Ermanno Olmi)

3. Halloween (John Carpenter)

4. Days of Heaven (Terrence Malick)

5. The Green Room (Francois Truffaut)

6. The Deer Hunter (Michael Cimino)

7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman)

8. An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky)

9. The Buddy Holly Story (Steve Rash)

10. Get Out Your Handkerchiefs (Bertrand Blier)

There was also the explosion of Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria…Why?, and the clean humor and cheer of Superman. And not only did Woody Allen do a credible Ingmar Bergman movie (Interiors), but Ingmar Bergman did a credible Ingmar Bergman movie (Autumn Sonata), although neither was top-rank. Kaufman’s Body Snatchers seems underrated today, especially for the way it catches a prevailing mood of the time, and The Buddy Holly Story should be considered more of a rock ‘n roll classic today, especially for Gary Busey’s nervy performance. But maybe 30 years of mischief will dim an actor’s greatest moment on film.

Edge of White Ribbon (Weekly Links)

Movies I reviewed for the Herald this week.

The White Ribbon (link dead; review below)

By Robert Horton

Most movies pose a problem at the beginning that is solved by the final scene. That’s why many films seem like mathematical equations.

“The White Ribbon,” winner of last year’s top prize at the Cannes Film Festival, goes in a different direction. This utterly unnerving film offers a number of problems, but instead of answering them all, it allows us to draw sinister conclusions.

What is “The White Ribbon”? A cerebral horror movie, a film about 20th-century history that takes place entirely in a small village over the course of a couple of years, a mystery with multiple possibilities.

Set in a German village just before World War I, the film introduces us to a wide range of characters and a series of bizarre acts of cruelty that occur. It begins with the town’s doctor being injured when his horse trips over a wire that has been deliberately stretched across a lane.

Other odd mysteries happen: child abuse, accidental death, arson, suicide. And even in ordinary domestic scenes, a sense of cruelty and repression is the dominant mood—including around the children. Especially around the children.

The only exception is the tender courtship of the 31-year-old schoolteacher (Christian Friedel) and a shy lass (Leonie Benesch) from a nearby town. The teacher narrates the film from the vantage of old age, and says he is telling us the story to “clarify things that happened later in our country.”

That suggestion prompts us to  imagine that the children will probably be soldiers in Hitler’s Third Reich when they grow up. But the film doesn’t spell this out, and the vague sense of evil percolating beneath the surface of every incident does not need to be limited to what happened in Germany in the first half of the last century.

Along with those blandly disturbing children, we also come to know the adults, who are a cross-section of society: the baron whose harvest employs one and all, the pastor who rules his children with an iron fist, the doctor whose conversation with his servant/mistress might be the harshest scene between two people since Ingmar Bergman’s last film, and other farmers, laborers, and sundry folk.

This world is conjured up by Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke, a major European filmmaker whose films include “Cache” and “The Music Teacher.” Haneke is a master of detail, an impeccable technician who orchestrates every aspect of the movie—sound, lighting, performance—into an extraordinary finished product.

It’s all the more perverse that with the technical skills of a Spielberg, he consistently leaves out the pieces that would give his audience closure. What is the cause of the strange events of “The White Ribbon”? I don’t know. Repeat viewings might gather clues and stitch it all together.

But that would be beside the point. Haneke is describing a general mood of horror and shared responsibility. It takes a village to foster evil, he might be saying, not just a single warped culprit.

Edge of Darkness (link dead; review below)

By Robert Horton

It’s been a long, twisted road for Mad Max: from stardom to controversy to a long layoff as an actor. But here’s Mel Gibson again, bringing his usual fury to “Edge of Darkness.”

While the commercials for this one promise a “Ransom”-shaped workout with a revenge-minded Mel, the movie itself is more than that. Boiled down from a 1985 British TV miniseries, “Edge” sprawls out from a mystifying murder into a large-scale political coverup.

Gibson plays Tom Craven, a Boston police detective who sees his grown daughter (Bojana Novakovic) shot while standing next to him. While the department begins its investigation, he tries to find out which of his enemies wanted him dead.

Things turn out to be more complicated than that. The trail leads to a quietly menacing energy contractor, whose CEO (Danny Huston) is weirdly slippery when Craven confronts him with questions. Everybody’s slippery, actually: a Massachusetts senator (Damian Young), a corporate fixer (Dennis O’Hare), Craven’s colleague (Jay O. Sanders).

The film begins in a conventional mode, but things perk up the first time Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) eases into the film. Hard to say who he is, exactly—he doesn’t seem to know himself—but he works for some bad people, unless he doesn’t want to work for them anymore.

Jedburgh has a series of philosophical conversations with Craven, which are probably warnings but maybe also a strange kind of kinship. He quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald and speaks Latin and sips expensive wine, and he keeps the movie from ever settling for simple action beats.

“Edge of Darkness” is directed by the same person that made the original TV series, Martin Campbell (who has since become a prized action filmmaker, including the excellent Bond reboot, “Casino Royale”). He keeps this one on its rails, blending the shocks and conversation.

Some of the plot strands beg for more illumination (I think there’s a Blackwater-like organization in the mix somewhere, but I’m not sure), but that’s probably what you get when you reduce a six-hour original into a two-hour form. One of the screenwriters is William Monahan, the Oscar-winner of “The Departed.” Apparently he’s the go-to guy for convoluted Boston drama.

At the center of all this is that conflicted fellow, Mel Gibson, whose face is now creased and waxy—he looks older than his years, as though fighting his demons has taken a lot out of him.

Probably it has. But Gibson still has that unstable ferocity in his being—he can’t even walk across his humble kitchen without looking as though he’s going to punch a hole in the fridge. You have to have a tough dude in this movie to make it work, and Mel Gibson sure looks like a tough dude.

Police, Adjective (dead link; review below)

By Robert Horton

You always hear that a police officer’s reality is much more humdrum than the exciting events of TV cop shows would suggest. A new Romanian film, “Police, Adjective,” pushes this idea: much of it consists of a policeman waiting around for something to happen.

You could think of this undercover cop, whose name is Cristi, as the opposite of Nicolas Cage’s ethically-challenged flatfoot in “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.” He’s laid-back and blends into the scenery, but he has a firm moral objection to the particular case he’s working on.

The young actor Dragos Bucur, who looks a lot like former Seattle Sonics player Vlad Radmanovich, plays Cristi. He spends his days following an otherwise ordinary high-school student who occasionally takes drugs with his friends.

Cristi lodges his misgivings about this case. Given the amount of police work going into it, isn’t this a rather minor offense? Why is he spending his time staking out this small-time user?

And he worries about his own conscience. If he does what he’s ordered to do and arrests the kid, he’ll be sending the teenager into years of incarceration. Cristi knows that would be an overly severe punishment and would wreck the kid’s life. Does he want to live with that?

If this sounds like the basis for an interesting drama, it might be. But director Corneliu Porumboiu, who did the award-winning “12:08 to Bucharest,” is not trying to create drama—he’s part of a generation of European filmmakers who test the boundaries of what you can do in feature film storytelling.

“Police, Adjective” is certainly a test. The very slow scenes of uneventful police stakeouts, and the equally uneventful scenes of Cristi at home with his wife, will drain away any expectations of a “Law & Order”-style procedural.

And yet there’s a lot of procedure, especially in a sequence of Cristi trying to get some action out of his slothful colleagues. The final sequence, when he finally brings the case before his Captain, is an investigation of its own: into language and meaning (it explains the film’s curious title).

Porumboiu doesn’t come out and say it, but Romania’s history of Soviet-style bureaucracy is surely haunting the movie’s layers of frustration and its portrait of the gulf between what’s legal and what’s right. At times the film suggests that the old model has been replaced by a very similar new model. No wonder the film’s world seems so joyless—and no wonder everything takes so long.

When in Rome (dead link; review below)

By Robert Horton

Since “Four Coins and a Poker Chip in the Fountain” doesn’t have much of a ring to it, I suppose “When in Rome” will have to do as a title.

And why not? A lame title for a lame movie.

We are far from the romantic days of “Three Coins in the Fountain,” which was a hit sometime back in the age of Julius Caesar, I believe. This one’s slapstick with just a hint of romance around the edges.

As with most movie heroines, Beth (Kristen Bell) is overworked and single. She’s committed that most unforgivable of errors in film: she’s put her career before her love life.

Her younger sister makes no such mistake, arranging a hasty Italian marriage to a guy she met two weeks earlier. While briefly in Rome, Beth has a nice moment with best man Nick (Josh Duhamel) at the reception. He’s a former football player who got hit by lightning during a big game, which makes as much sense as anything else in this movie.

But then some magic arrives. And I don’t mean magic like “Casablanca” magic, or “Roman Holiday” magic. This isn’t even “The Hangover” magic.

I mean a cheap conjurer’s trick, whereby Beth’s idle gesture of retrieving four coins (and a poker chip) from a Rome fountain causes the men who threw the lucky objects to fall madly in love with her. This murderer’s row includes a sausage mogul (Danny DeVito), a street magician (Jon Heder), an artist (Will Arnett), and a model (Dax Shepard). And, of course, Nick.

The film moves back to New York for the zany results of this gimmick. Which never makes much sense: we don’t learn how the men knew to come to NYC and pursue Beth, nor is there a revelation scene where Beth realizes all these guys were in Rome at the same time.

Weird. But so is the decision to throw in random pratfalls—I guess Nick keeps tripping into manholes and walking into lampposts because someone who got hit by lightning would be unlucky. Unlucky, maybe; funny, not really.

The movie, despite a respectable cast, feels fumbled and oddly spiritless. “When in Rome” is directed by Mark Steven Johnson, whose work includes “Ghost Rider” and Daredevil,” which is not a good track record.

Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”) and Josh Duhamel (“Las Vegas”) are TV-seasoned stars who seem ready to assume bigger things in movies, and they would seem well suited to romantic comedy. But this is not that film.

Even at the basics, “When in Rome” gets it wrong. You can’t photograph the tiny Bell and the tall Duhamel next to each other without using some art, because it will look like he’s using stilts and she’s in a ditch. Which is what this movie looks like. And that is not a good thing.

Movie Diary 1/27/2010

GOP Response (uncredited, 2010). I’m watching this response to the State of the Union speech as I write. Oddly enough – this might be hard to believe – but Fox News is repeating it. The Virginia governor is in the middle of the screen, but the four people artfully arranged behind him are also doing strong work: buzzcut Caucasian military guy in the lower left corner, professional black lady in the upper left, Asian professor type in the upper right, and the young white woman in the lower right, who is troubled about terrorists, sober about big government, and happy about Facebook references. It’s so like totally funny and everything when politicians say Facebook and Twitter! I thought the young white woman was the best at looking delighted and then sometimes real concerned, but it was hard to tell, because everybody was nodding so hard throughout the speech. I almost reached for the telephone to order the amazing product, but then I remembered this was a political speech.

I kid. This is a perversion of political discourse, to the extent that such a thing still exists. Bobby Jindal, all is forgiven.

When in Rome (Mark Steven Johnson, 2010). Four coins in the fountain, and there’s also a poker chip in there. Try putting that into a pop song. (full review 1/29)

District 13: Ultimatum (Patrick Alessandrin, 2009). It can’t be as good as the first one, but the two dudes from that movie are back, and Luc Besson is still throwing off plot ideas like fingernail clippings. (full review 2/5)

Movie Diary 1/26/2010

Edge of Darkness (Martin Campbell, 2010). That fellow with the leathery face and lengthening ears is Mel Gibson, back in his element after an extended layoff. A shrewd comeback vehicle too, and a more ambitious film than the trailers suggest. (full review 1/29)

Saint John of Las Vegas (Hue Rhodes, 2009). Strange little number with Steve Buscemi getting a welcome workout, with Romany Malco and Sarah Silverman underutilized in supporting roles. (Full review 2/12)

Strange Impersonation (Anthony Mann, 1946). A lulu of a plot device that anticipates Face/Off by a mile and a half, this extremely bizarre programmer by a future great director has Brenda Marshall as a brainy researcher tinkering with an experiment but undercut by her horrifying assistant (Hilary Brooke). The loony plot is handled as well as could be expected.

Movie Diary 1/25/2010

Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935). “We are Bates.” Along with great artistry at the top, you gotta have the character actors. Give it up for Horton and Blore.

North Face (Philipp Stolzl, 2008). When you are a physical coward – well, a coward – certain kinds of movies are hard to resist, and the sub-genre of mountain-climbing pictures is one of those kinds for me. (Actually, I don’t mean that about the cowardice, in this case – you don’t have to be brave to climb a mountain, just lunatic.) This example proves that corn can grow at high altitudes, but there are still some appealing elements, most of which – sheer cliffs, avalanche danger, spectacular outdoorsy feel, German precision – go back to the German “mountain films” of the 1920s and 30s, the movement that gave Leni Reifenstahl a foothold in the industry. (full review 2/5)

1958 Ten Best Movies

Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo is frequently referred to as a box-office failure, although it was #21 on the list of highest-grossing films of 1958, which seems like a respectable enough showing. If it was considered a financial disappointment, you can hardly blame audiences for not flocking to it as they did to other Hitchcocks of the era, such as Rear Window or To Catch a Thief. “Fun” is not the way to describe Vertigo, but its story of obsession is one of Hitchcock’s most stunningly realized works, and a somewhat easy choice as best film of the year.

But not entirely easy, because of Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, a brilliant example of directing prowess creating something powerful out of potentially forgettable material. It’s a good year beyond those two, with a number of Hollywood pictures suggesting disenchantment with the era and foreign films suggesting disenchantment with the world. And here is a list of the ten best movies of 1958.

1. Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock)

2. Touch of Evil (Orson Welles)

3. Nazarin (Luis Bunuel)

4. Some Came Running (Vincente Minnelli)

5. Ashes and Diamonds (Andzrej Wajda)

6. The Tarnished Angels (Douglas Sirk)

7. Bitter Victory (Nicholas Ray)

8. Bonjour Tristesse (Otto Preminger)

9. The Music Room (Satyajit Ray)

10. Equinox Flower (Yasujiro Ozu)

Almost gave the tenth slot to a short, Roman Polanski’s Two Men and a Wardrobe, which is superb. And it seems there should be room for Mon Oncle (Tati), The Last Hurrah (Ford), Man of the West (Mann), or Night of the Demon (Tourneur). Buchanan Rides Alone is a good entry (but not the best) in the Budd Boetticher-Randolph Scott cycle of Westerns, and Irving Lerner’s Murder by Contract is a highly original low-budget noir.

Among the scruffier realms of movie-making, I hold a soft spot for The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, a delightful platform for Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion monsters, and The Thing that Couldn’t Die, a Universal cheapie that can’t be justified in any way.

Panic Measures (Weekly Links)

Movies I reviewed for the Herald this week.

A Town Called Panic. (dead link; review below)

By Robert Horton

Perhaps you enjoyed “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a film that used an old-school style of stop-motion animation. Part of the film’s charm was its handmade, imperfect look.

Well, “Mr. Fox” was all right. But when it comes to rough-edged stop-motion animation, make mine “A Town Called Panic,” a daft and frantic comedy involving a group of ill-matched toys.

The first awesome thing about this movie comes when you notice that the two central characters, a toy cowboy and a toy Indian, are actually toys of slighter different scales. Indian is slightly larger than Cowboy. We don’t know why, and nobody ever mentions it; perhaps they were manufactured by different toy companies.

Cowboy and Indian each has his feet rooted to a little green stand, the kind that allows toys to remain upright—just like the little Army men you had as a kid. So when they walk across a field, it’s sort of a weird teeter-totter scuttle.

They live in a house with Horse, a toy horse. It’s Horse’s birthday, so they get on the Internet and order some bricks with which they can build Horse a backyard barbecue.

An unfortunate input error results in 50 million bricks being delivered to their house, instead of the 50 they wanted. From this surreal mistake, the plotline moves like a rocket in a funhouse, dragging in village neighbors and eventually traveling into an underwater world (which is accessible via a village pond).

For 75 minutes, madcap stuff keeps happening, Cowboy and Indian keep doing stupid things, and their perpetually angry next-door neighbor Steven keeps screaming at them. (I am extremely fond of Steven.)

It’s hard to say why this is so funny, but it is. A minute into this movie, it seems like the most normal thing in the world that a horse should be sitting on a couch reading the paper, and Indian should come in and pour three cups of coffee with a tri-spouted coffeepot.

It’s like watching a video made by incredibly talented kids who haven’t been taught that there are certain things you can’t get away with. So they get away with everything.

The “kids,” in this case, are Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, two Belgian animators. They based the movie on characters from their animated TV show, a cult program in Europe; they also do some of the voices, which are high-pitched and frantic.

You’d think the subtitles might be distracting on a movie like this, but the French language is part of what’s funny here—just the sound of it, I mean. And anyway, you could skip the subtitles and still know what the film is about. It’s about craziness, and a certain joy in being silly.

Extraordinary Measures (dead link; review below)

By Robert Horton

Everybody likes stories of the little guy bucking the odds and out-witting the system, but “Extraordinary Measures” works a new wrinkle on this: it proves that as long as you can conjure up a measly 10 million bucks, you might have a chance at conquering a mysterious disease.

The film is based on a true story, albeit with fictional elements. There real person at its center is John Crowley, played by a chunky Brendan Fraser, who set about finding treatment for an incurable disease that afflicted his own children.

Crowley has two children with Pompe disease, and put his entrepreneurial skills at work to found his own pharmaceutical company in order to push the discovery of a useful treatment.

The film creates a composite character, a cranky doctor played by Harrison Ford, as the scientific counterpart to Crowley’s journey. The character, named Robert Stonehill, falls along conventional lines (he’s a Baby Boomer who listens to Seventies album rock while he dreams up his theories) and he has no touch for actual doctoring—his home is the lab.

So we get the contrast between Stonehill’s brusque egomania and Crowley’s dogged Everyman. Unfortunately, this contrast is much less interesting than the filmmakers think.

Similar conflicts are drawn up between Crowley and the corporate types (played by Jared Harris and Patrick Bauchau) who control the purse strings he needs to yank. The purse ends up holding a lot more than $10 million, which puts the viewer in the somewhat peculiar position of rooting for a large pharmaceutical company. But hey, a cure’s a cure.

The doctor is a character part for a leading man, which might explain why Harrison Ford looks somewhat tentative in the role. Ford is also one of the film’s producers, so playing second fiddle to Brendan Fraser’s concerned dad was presumably his choice.

Keri Russell plays Fraser’s wife, but screenwriter Robert Nelson Jacobs hasn’t given her much to work with. Instead, we get some basic personality conflicts, just enough science talk to make it all sound convincingly researched, and a handful of appealing child actors.

In one scene, Crowley brings a group of Pompe-afflicted children to appear before the scientists working on the treatment, a violation of company policy. He wants them to see the human side of the research process.

The film itself is a little like that—a calculated move to gain our sympathy and attention. That might be why it feels less like a living movie than a flat diagram: a series of equations to reach a result, like something drawn up on Dr. Stonehill’s blackboard. The result is as dull as its title.

The Tooth Fairy (dead link; review below)

By Robert Horton

“The Tooth Fairy” can be summarized like this: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stars in a film about a hockey player who becomes a flying, tutu-wearing tooth fairy.

Now that you know that, we can dispense with any pretense about justifying this premise. There is no excuse possible.

Having said that, we can note that a movie that features The Rock as a tooth fairy could have been much, much worse than this one. How’s that for praise?

Dwayne Johnson’s character here is given a few Rock-like moments of arena showboating as the movie opens: Derek Thompson is a past-his-prime iceman who does specialty duty as an enforcer for a minor-league team.

Derek’s nickname, the “Tooth Fairy,” comes from his habit of slamming opponents so hard their incisors are separated from their gums. He has an entire routine built around this, including his habit of strutting on the ice and reeling off one-liners, which are so bad (“The whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth,” etc.) you suspect Arnold Schwarzenegger’s old screenwriters have finally found work.

When Derek thoughtlessly tells his girlfriend’s daughter there is no tooth fairy, he is visited by an otherworldly emissary and whisked away to the place where the tooth fairies come from.

Yes, there’s more than one tooth fairy. An entire army of them, in fact, which makes a lot more sense than the whole “there’s only one Santa Claus” scam.

Anyway. In order to atone for his jerkiness, Derek must be on call to snatch away teeth left under pillows, and leave a dime instead. (It’s still a dime, right?) He has a magical spritzer that will make him six inches tall, which results in a surreal and funny sequence that goes “The Incredible Shrinking Man” one better.

In fact, “The Tooth Fairy” has a few funny moments in the early going. The casting helps: it’s fun to see Stephen Merchant, the British comedian who co-created “The Office” with Ricky Gervais, in a large role as Derek’s magic-wand supervisor.

And the overseer of the fairies is played by Julie Andrews. I mean, the movie gets a half-star just for that. “Everybody’s got British accents around here,” mutters Derek, in understandable confusion.

Throw in an amusing scene with Billy Crystal, and the movie’s kind of all right for a while. Director Michael Lembeck (“Santa Clause 2”) can’t think of anything for Ashley Judd to do as Derek’s girlfriend, and eventually the film turns into just one more kiddie picture, but as kiddie pictures go it definitely does its job.

Dwayne Johnson still telegraphs his lines too much, but the likability he builds up from being a good sport is boundless. “Does this tutu make my butt look big?” he asks when he first gets his tooth fairy outfit. (The answer from Julie Andrews: “Yes.”) Not many macho men would go there.

Movie Diary 1/21/2010

Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942). There are movies you think you will see every couple of years or so and then you realize it’s been 20 years. Probably the movie that most makes me regret the extinction of repertory theaters.

Scotland, PA (Billy Morrisette, 2001). Fond memories of  this movie don’t quite hold up on re-visiting it, but it’s still a kooky and fun take on Macbeth, re-set in a small Pennsylvania town and focusing on a fast-food restaurant. What holds up well is Maura Tierney’s performance as the film’s version of Lady M., an amusing cast in general, and of course the Seventies album cuts.

Movie Diary 1/19/2010

The Tooth Fairy (Michael Lembeck, 2010). It’s one of those days. On the one hand, a kid movie with The Rock as a hockey player forced to serve as a Tooth Fairy, on the other hand, Michael Haneke’s award-winning study of ambiguity and suspicion in a small European town before World War I. This one, the Tooth Fairy one with The Rock, has Stephen Merchant and Julie Andrews, which counts for something. (full review 1/22)

The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke, 2009). Eerie events in the aforesaid village, a horror movie without any elements of genre. As a director Haneke isn’t like Werner Herzog at all, but there are things in here that are somehow reminiscent of early Herzog. I believe I am freaked out. (full review 1/29)

Movie Diary 1/18/2010

I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur, 1943). People rightly talk about how poetic this movie is, but it’s also so intelligent, and all the people in it are intelligent. Excuse for re-watching it is my lecture next week on radical literary adaptations (this one is loosely based on Jane Eyre). I think I need to find an excuse to watch it at least once a year from now on.

Toby Dammit (Federico Fellini, 1968). Also for the adaptation thing. Fellini’s segment in Spirits of the Dead, a movie I watched sometime in adolescence, totally weirded out, though not actually in the good way. The original Poe story, “Never Bet the Devil Your Head,” is really pretty funny. The little Satanic girl seems like the inspiration for all the long-haired demons of the Ring movies and their imitators.

Police, Adjective (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009). Another notch in the belt for the Romanian New Wave. Doesn’t have that taut-string suspension of Mr. Lazarescu or 4 Months etc., but good. (full review 1/29)