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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

"How's retirement, Frank?"

I never thought much of this film prior to viewing it, as many others might not have either, but if you have even the slightest inclination to view this, you must! The story is typical, nothing special about the basic plot synopsis, but the delivery and the interesting plot twists keeps it fresh and interesting. The humour is hilarious, mostly a subtle humour that is apparent throughout the entire film, in nearly every scene.

Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, and Karl Urban all excel, as would be expected. It is refreshing watching Bruce Willis star in another action film, alongside Mary-Louise Parker (the gorgeous mother in Weeds) no less. John Malkovich plays the paranoid role quite astonishingly and Helen Mirren firing large weapons, including a gatling gun, is amazing! Every name above plays an equal part in the film, which is amazing. I never had so many characters in a single movie that I highly enjoyed equally. Remarkably done with talent seeping through the actors and vividly portrayed on the screen.

Don't expect this film to change the history of all films, but expect it to exceed in entertainment. If you give it a chance, you won't be disappointed. It's definitely a Friday night flick, something that is easily enjoyed.


Saturday, 20 November 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

"The boy who lived..."

After having seen HP6, I honestly didn't have great expectations in this one. I guessed it would be darker and scarier, as every HP movie has been darker and scarier than its predecessor. But HP6 was such a patchwork of scenes that didn't give you the feeling of a coherent work - I was afraid the even more complex story line of HP7 would make an even less coherent movie. However, I must say it was definitely a wise decision to split the 7th book into 2 movies. HP7 can take time to explain and introduce all the characters that are necessary to the plot.

I love the way Voldemort and the Death Eaters are portrayed in this movie. They are no longer just anonymous caped figures. You can see them interacting with each other, discussing and well... being human. Well, I'm always a big fan of the blurring of these clearcut good/evil categories in Fantasy.

As the book is split into 2 parts, all of a sudden, there's also time for little embellishments I hadn't realized I had missed in th earlier movies! For example, I loved the scene so much where the feather floated through the air when the fairy tale of the Three Brothers was being told. Also drawing style that was used during the story was really amazing. This HP movie was the first of all that finally gave me the same feeling as Lord of the Rings did: Boy, this is not just some guys slavishly adapting a book into a movie, but they're actually autonomous artists and they have ideas of their own! And I don't mean they changed the whole plot (I wouldn't like that)! But (mostly visually) they did more than just bring across what's in the book.

This also expresses itself in the decision not to include the childish Harry Potter musical theme (at least I didn't hear it, correct me if I'm wrong) from the first movie that sounds like "Wow, everything's so magical here!" That tune was fine for the first movie, but as Harry got older and the movies got darker, it kind of felt like they had to force this theme into every movie several times even though it didn't really fit any more. Now the soundtrack, too, has finally grown up. And I loved it! Last but not least, the acting was brilliant! The tense atmosphere between Harry, Ron and Hermione really came across. Also with all the doppelgänger scenes, you always still saw from their movements and behaviour which character was which though they were in disguise in a different body.

All in all, as the title says, this is a excellent grown-up movie and I can recommend it to everyone - except kids! If you have little kids, please don't take them. This movie has far too many scary scenes and little comic relief! Plus, the plot is quit complex including lots and lots of minor characters. It's really no longer a movie targeted at kids, even though it's still labelled "Harry Potter".

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Morning Glory (2010)

"Refreshingly sweet"

Rachel McAdams leads the way in this surprisingly refreshing flick as the workaholic television show producer, Becky, who lands the job of organizing "the worst morning show ever". She only has a short time to save the show's plummeting ratings, and in doing so must battle with low worker morale, conceited anchors, poor working conditions, as well as her own inadequacy in dealing with guy-problems. Desperate for a change, she recruits the legendary newscaster Mike Pomeroy, played by Harrison Ford, who is less than willing to cover any story he does not consider "worthy of his reputation".

The film brings not just a comic story of working with grumpy people, but the beautiful emotional tale of a girl who realizes her dream of being a television producer and, by pulling everyone together against the odds, creates a family in the process. But where the story is rather run-of-the-mill, the chemistry between the impressive cast is the movie's redeeming quality. Across the board, acting was fantastic. Rachel McAdams should be commended for her frustrated role as Becky, and has proved that she has much more to offer than a just pretty face. Harrison Ford, perhaps the true star of the show, fully embraced the character of Pomeroy did a wonderfully fantastic job being grumpy, conceited, and an all-around "asshole".

Morning Glory is a nice tale that will leave you with a sweet taste in your mouth. Combined with some real solid acting, this is not a movie you'll regret checking out!

Friday, 5 November 2010

127 Hours (2010)

"A must see"

Gripping, intense, and emotional would probably be the three best adjectives to describe Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. I'll admit that when I first heard the news that someone had a literal panic attack during the screening at Telluride, I was super excited to see it, as it could only have meant that the film was truly genuine and amazing. My assumptions were correct, as Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy (who also wrote the Slumdog Millionaire script with the director) put together another great film, this time with the challenge of one actor on screen for the entire movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, 127 Hours tells the story of real life climber Aron Ralston (Franco) and his struggle to survive after his arm gets trapped under a boulder while mountaineering near Moab, Utah.

Going into a film like this, one would wonder how a movie with one actor and essentially one filming location could entertain an audience for about 90 minutes. Well, Danny Boyle did an excellent job of keeping people glued to the screen without taking away from the film and boring audience members. With his funky style of directing, amazing camera shots, as well as his ability to bring so much information and life into a one man show, Boyle tackled this daunting task beautifully. The directors uses of Ralston's fantasies, hallucinations, comedic relief, and the character's will to live all helped keep audience members interested, and wondering how and when this man would survive such an catastrophe.

Now to the leading man of the film, James Franco. I will admit, before this film I had never seen Franco give an awe-inspiring performance in any film really, but 127 Hours was his calling card. People should take notice, because this guy can really hold his own both on screen and off. Franco gave a fantastic performance in this one, and really made the character of Aron Ralston believable to the audience (which is what good actors do). He played the role seriously, but also gave the audience the much needed comedic relief, evening out the intensity of the film with a little bit of good humor. This isn't an easy role to portray for any actor, and it seemed as though Franco tackled it with ease, playing a disgruntled and challenging Ralston, and the different moods and emotions he feels while being trapped.

I would be insane not to give credit to both Simon Beaufoy and Danny Boyle for writing another excellent screenplay. Unlike their previous film, Slumdog Millionaire, which was an excellent screenplay, this one stands out more simply because of the limitations they had when writing it. Essentially, it was a dialogue prepared for one man to speak to himself for about 80 minutes, mostly through his hand-held video camera.

This movie is getting the granny apple A it deserves; the combination of great directing, writing, and an amazing performance by James Franco, truly make this film a remarkable one. The ability to overcome challenges and limitations, like Boyle did in this film, is what I believe separates the great directors from the good ones. Furthermore, the pace, intensity, suspense, and even Boyle's added humor, all add to the amalgamation of this films success. The films funkiness, brilliance, and realism faze out the idea that there is only one actor on screen sitting in the same location for almost the entirety of the film. The real life Aron Ralston summed the film up perfectly during the emotional Q&A session at the end of the film saying "Humans have no idea of their true potential or what the are capable of, given the situation they're in."

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Book of Eli (2010)

"Stay on the path."

Upon first viewing the trailer I was immediately giddy to see a new post-apocalyptic film in the vein of The Road Warrior. Being a fan of the genre, one must get used to the repetitive "lone wanderer" theme so prominently used. I figured this film would go through the same formula, but prepared to enjoy myself.

Yes it did use the lone wanderer as a driving plot device, and yes it did bring the arbitrary twist. Yes all the survivors are short on t-shirts, but live in a wealth of leather and goggles. Yes everything in this film looks like and feels like a typical post-apocalyptia. But the substance of the story is far more powerful then I could ever have expected.

Without giving away too much, yes the film is essentially a Christian metaphor. Eli seems to be protected by some mysterious force, guided by "God" to head west. But it's what the meaning behind this admittedly bizarre plot that makes this film so great. It truly is a film about faith and believing in one's self. Using the dreary post-apocalyptic backdrop, the film is able to contrast this powerful message with the harsh landscape. Even amidst such despair, one can rise and accomplish anything. In a world slowly becoming apocalyptic itself, this message is much welcomed.

The other aspects lending to the power of The Book of Eli are its technical aspects. The cinematography is simply beautiful. Moody slo-mo shots abound with wonderfully toned colors. Everything looks dark and dead, the sun beating down endlessly on the dusty dunes. The soundtrack adds immensely to this feeling, using soft ambient chords and blasting action-scene drums when necessary. Overall The Book of Eli is an excellent film itself and an excellent spin on the post-apocalyptic genre.

Oh yeah, and Denzel Washington actually manages to pull off the part of a wizened, old bad ass.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Amélie (2001)

"These are hard times for dreamers."

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain' finds its charm in the little things. The story about Amélie (Audrey Tautou) is a modern day fairy tale and that is exactly how it looks the entire film.

We have a wonderful story about Amélie who decides to help people around her, making them happy. Not by doing great big things or giving money, but by little things. She helps her father by making him believe that his gnome from the garden is on a trip around the world, she helps a lonely neighbor by just visiting him, she helps a stranger by returning something she found in her home. On the way she falls in love with Nino (Mathieu Kassovitz) who's hobby it is to collect photos from automatic photo booths. Photos that were tossed away because people thought they didn't look good enough. He puts all those photos and pieces of photos in a big book. There is a little mystery in the book as well, of course I will not spoil that for you. The story is not only sweet and charming, it has some great moments of comedy as well.

The movie looks colorful and bright almost constantly. Even the sad parts from Amélie's life, her youth for example, look almost strangely happy. In this world, Paris actually, Audrey Tautou is the perfect inhabitant. She has one of those faces that seem to smile the entire time. She looks like she just pulled a joke and she is waiting for you to find out what it is. In a way her character is really doing that here so it does not feel strange.

In short 'Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain' is charming, funny, romantic bright and full of life. This is the perfect lighthearted movie.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Departed (2006)

" And I thought that I was the liar!"

A remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, Scorsese's 'The Departed' is a haunting film, so effective, that I still have a hang-over of it. Scorsese actually shatters himself by getting into a world of blood, back-stabbing and cruel intelligence. For those who haven't seen this box office smash yet, take time out from other non-sense, and watch this!

This Masterstroke takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, where Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello played by Nicholson plants Colin Sullivan played by Damon as an informant within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover cop Billy Costigan played by DiCaprio to infiltrate Costello's crew. When both sides realize the situation, each man attempts to discover the others true identity before being found out. The original Hong Kong flick was a masterstroke! And this is a true and best remake possible! Scorsese has made so many remarkable films, that I've lost count by now. He's at his fiery best and his executes the subject with tremendous ease. A True Legend! His biggest accomplishment was, that, He was finally respected by the Academy-Awards for his work here! Halleujah! Michael Ballhaus's Cinematography is eye-catching. William Monahan's adapted screenplay is marvelous.

In the acting department, Mark Wahlberg steals the show with a brilliant performance. The rawness and overdose of abusive language help the talented actor steal the show in this multi-starrier. Nicholson, as always, is flawless. Leonardo DiCaprio is superb, he lives his character from start to end. Matt Damon is amazing. Martin Sheen proves yet again he's a talent that we'll never forget. He's exceptional. Alec Baldwin is in command after a long. The veteran scores! Vera Farmiga is perfect. Ray Winstone does full justice to his part. Anthony Anderson leaves a mark as well.

'The Departed' is a winner all the way! The film keeps you at grip from start to end, and will leave you thinking about it for a long, long time

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Social Network (2010)

"Drop the "the". Just "Facebook". It's cleaner."

I went into this film with little or no hope. By the time the movie was over, with the Beatles' "Baby, You're A Rich Man" playing over the end credits, I had a huge smile on my face. I literally cannot wait to watch this again during it's wide release.

The lighting and camera work here is beautiful, every scene and sequence is a joy to watch. If Fincher hasn't already proved himself time and time again with his great films, this one might be the one to seal the deal for him. One sequence in the middle of the film features a boring rowboat race. Fincher sets up the photography so beautifully, that it feels like you're watching a painting come to life.

All the performances are excellent. Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg as a fast-paced, nerdy, kind of jerk-ish attitude, and Andrew Garfield is his best friend, Eduardo, who at the beginning didn't mean much to me, but I found myself rooting for him by the end. Justin Timberlake is easily the weakest one of the three, but he still does a decent job.

And oh, man the soundtrack. Trent Reznor deserves some kind of recognition for this. It is amazing. A lot of people say the movie sounds boring. They cite "The invention of facebook" as an uninteresting topic. I say don't believe that talk, and check out this interesting, funny, thrill ride by Fincher and co.

Monday, 18 October 2010

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

"I wanna live again!"

Honestly, I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like It's A Wonderful Life.

Does it take me back to that place in my heart, that makes me long for everything that once was great and it could be again? Does it remind me of my childhood, Christmas in my home? No. Maybe it's just simply what I always wanted from life and every man I want to be.

Everything about this film is well for lack of better words, perfect. No question to it any longer, the best performance by an actor I have ever seen. It's more than just beautiful, timeless or fair. All of Stewart is revealed. Everything coming together for Capra. Lionel Barrymore at his best, which seems to be his worst.

Sometimes I think there is a reason why somethings happen. And I'm pretty sure there is some magical reason why this film was made. I'm 27 years old and saw it for the first time Christmas Eve of this year. I've watched it 3 times since. The only movie to ever make me cry. I probably wouldn't have all the answers for you, if you asked me why. I'm still trying to figure Stewart out and just how beautiful was Reed.

What can I say? This movie is a life changing experience.

Makes me feel good to be alive. What a wonderful little world it is. And if I waited my entire life, it would not be a waste of time.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

"I am not complete."

Many people say the cried at the end of this movie... Huh! Knowing the plot already, I (a grown up man) can barely hold my tears from the very beginning whenever I watch it. Much more than just a "cute and sad fairy tale", this movie is a true piece of art. This is one of those rarest cases when a bunch of talented and truly, but truly dedicated people set out to create something beautiful, some chemistry occurs and ... a miracle happens. Fortunately for all of us, this miracle immortalized on film.

Throughout the human history, the wisdom of generation was conveyed through fairy tales. This tale is no exception. This story, told in magic simplicity, actually has some deep philosophical meanings. While mercilessly debunking the true nature of human beings, this tragic story really tears your heart, and yet it fills it with hope. That is the true and, perhaps, the only purpose of art, if you ask me.

Why do we need music, painting, theatre, poetry? Is there a real excuse for their existence? To me, the only purpose, the only excuse is to help people go on, to give them hope. And it's well worth it!

To sum up, easily Tim Burton's best, this film is a masterpiece, my favorite American movie, and probably one of the best movies of all times.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Memento (2000)

"Now... where was I?"

Christopher Nolan's "Memento" is truly a rare and exceptional achievement in modern filmmaking in that it manages to be new, fresh, hip, and exciting without ever tiring its audience out - unless you're walking into this film without the desire to participate and actively analyze the mysterious details.

If that's the case, then this is DEFINITELY not a movie you should see. If, on the other hand, you are open-minded, creative, and alert, you'll definitely appreciate and get a kick out of this one. "Memento" is an old-fashioned "film noir"-type mystery thriller with an intriguing, ingenious twist: outfitting the entire film with a style that mirrors the protagonist's own mental condition while giving the poor viewer(s) his own perspective as well. It is masterfully filmed and edited in such a way that it is chronologically presented backwards (with two initially separate, parallel storylines - the main one, shot in colour, is the chronologically-backwards story with scenes that intercut with those of the other story, which is filmed more like a documentary, shot in black & white, and mostly takes place inside a motel room with the main character narrating, talking about the effects of his condition, etc.) While the average viewer may already be put off by such a complicated, confusing format, it is a very original premise that is well worth the struggle to figure out.

Acting is solid across the board, as is the writing, directing, etc., but special kudos must be extended to the very talented editor Dody Dorn, who successfully managed to put all of these fragments together and help them flow in a smooth, healthy manner that is not easy to pull off.

One of the most "memorable" (sorry, couldn't help slipping in the bad joke) films you're likely to ever see, "Memento" is an instant classic due to its groundbreaking narrative style and impressive dramatic undertones. For those jaded moviegoers who seek something to keep them awake, interested, and constantly thinking, there couldn't be a better choice than this film.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The Town (2010)

"Beware the Nuns"

I was wrong about Ben Affleck. I never believed that Affleck was ever a star. I never saw him as a director-type. I do admit I was wrong, though. Ben Affleck was truly incredible as Doug McCray, and I've never seen him work his acting at such a high level. As far as the plot of the film goes, it's very engaging. The trailer doesn't give this film justice as it's very intense and romantic at times.

Jeremy Renner is quite intimidating and Blake Lively is sexy, Ben Affleck is gripping and the supporting cast is incredibly powerful. I think the movie was powerful and not at all predictable. I couldn't wait to see what would happen and if Doug would get away. It's such a greatly crafted movie. From writing to acting this film is wickedly astounding.

I thought that the sex scene was over too quickly, but it was made up with all the action. I thoroughly enjoyed the chase scenes. I thought the action sequences were well-drawn out. I loved the bank robbery scenes of the blue masks and the nun outfits. I especially liked Ben's scenes with the sledge hammer and the scene where he says, "if I think anything might happen to her, I'm gonna kill both of you." It's a clip from the trailer, but it's so much better when it happens in the film.

It's driven as an action film with drama and romance on the side. There's a few chuckles along the way, but pretty much sparse. I thought the romance was done just enough and I felt the drama was perfectly done and drastically added to the plot, as well as the tone of the film.

It's certainly the best heist movie I've ever seen. In comparison, if you called Inception a heist movie, this movie is a better heist movie. I really think this is the Heat of the decade. I truly believe that Affleck is in his peek of his career and this is his greatest performance, directing, writing and acting. I'm overjoyed and excited to see his next piece of work.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Rope (1948)


"Rope" is one of Hitchcock's most unfortunately overlooked films. It doesn't have the depth of some of his other works (such as "Vertigo" or "Psycho"), but its just as engrossing and entertaining. Hitchcock could take such a seemingly simple premise and effectively stretch it out to a feature length and have none of it seem like filler. "Rope" is one of the most innovative film experiments of the decade, and it never feels gimmicky. Hitchcock, the master of suspense, is at the top of his game here. The film may be mostly nothing but dialog, but its always fascinating.

The acting is very good, as usual when working with Hitchcock's skilled direction. John Dall is absolutely spellbinding as one of cinema's scariest villains, an intellectual whose disregard for human emotions and morals verges more on fascism than the sub-Nietschze philosophy he proclaims. James Stewart is also superb as the voice of reason throughout the tension. The rest of the cast is good if occasionally awkward in delivery, but both Dall and Stewart turn in phenomenal performances.

Another interesting aspect of the film is the homoerotic subtext. I'm surprised it made it past the censors of the day, but to modern viewers its obvious there's something more to Dall and Farley Granger's relationship than just roommates. "Rope" is an absolutely fascinating film from the master of suspense, and even if its not his masterpiece, this is probably my personal favorite of Hitchcock's next to "Vertigo".

Monday, 4 October 2010

District 9 (2009)

"Get your fokkin' tentacle out of my face!"

I considered many others. The Hurt Locker. Up. Fantastic Mr. Fox. I haven't seen Avatar yet, but my brother assures me it's worthy of consideration at the very least.

District 9 is an unbelievable achievement. Visually, it is mind-blowing. Blade Runner, Dark Knight, 2001, and Clockwork Orange type mind-blowing. 'The 9' takes a social commentary and spins it into one of the most original and thrilling science fiction adventures of our time.

Neil Blokamp jumps forward in movie-making-plausibility and creates something fresh, something new, something cinema needed, and something that shouldn't have been able to be pulled off - and he does it without missing the mark even once.

Sharlto Copley breaks through in his big-screen debut as an MNU(Multi-National-United) representative sent to inform the aliens of their re-location. The humans seem to have a limited knowledge of their visiting friends - even though their ship has hovered above Johannesburg for nearly 20 years. Every human act is calculated, spun to their advantage, and the aliens are misunderstood,.. mistreated.

Copley's character, Mr. Van De Merwe, will be forced to re-think his position. He will find out more in a matter of days than the rest of us have in years. He will attempt to save himself and an alien species, and he will come under attack from his own kind.

Each scene is fantastic. As the movie goes from scene to scene the plot dives deeper and deeper, until, just like every good sci-fi film, it would take many years to come to it's actual conclusion. Like 2001, and Logan's Run, District 9 needs another 2 hours and 100 million to finish the story - but its almost better that it doesn't. The future, unknown. The story, incomplete. The moment, breathtaking. The message, the importance of understanding and compassion. District 9 is hands down the best film of 2009

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Gran Torino (2008)

"Gran Torino - They don't make them like they used to...."

Mr. Eastwood has a knack for storytelling. Instead of being preachy or having an all to obvious agenda, he lets his viewers make up their own minds. His characters don't have a message, they have a life and make no excuses for who they are. In so many subtle and intelligent ways we are allowed to make our own choices. Like with Kowalski in the movie, you are not confronted with a role model hammering home all those "life's important messages", but rather with a movie saying "Look! This is the way it worked out for me. And I think I know a few tricks that might help you, but in the end it's your own life. However, you have to trust me when I say that there are a some things you don't want to see or experience!". Some people will leave this movie entirely untouched, others will certainly be crying their guts out. Not because some people "get it" and others "don't", but because it is a brilliant piece of entertainment reaching out to every viewer in its own specific way.

Eastwood's acting is top notch again, although the years have not been very kind to his voice. The rest of the cast are fine, but one can certainly spot their more amateurish backgrounds here and there which is the main reason why I could not give this one a 10/10.

Apart from that there is little to criticize. It's not an action movie, not a drama movie and certainly not a comedy (even though you get a few laughs out of this one). It's simply a good story about life.....and death.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Great Dictator (1940)

"Commander Shutz: Strange, and I thought you were an Aryan.
A Jewish barber: No. I'm a vegetarian"

I would say that "The Great Dictator" is Charlie Chaplin's best movie ever. Mainly a spoof of Hitler, but also reminding us about tyranny in any form, the movie was Chaplin's first talkie. Probably the funniest aspect is his mockery of German: dictator Adenoid Hynkel stands up on the podium and rants something that sounds like: "Eh, de Holstein und de Aryan maiden und de strangulation itten. Kapeet! Kapatt! Deutsch Juden...grrr deutsch Juden!" Another great scene is when he's arguing with the Mussolini character about the Ostralich border, and their argument almost turns into a catfight.

Seeing how he pointed the finger at all tyranny, it's easy to see why HUAC used this movie to kick Chaplin out of the country. No matter, Chaplin ended up getting the last laugh; not only did the Oscars eventually give him an honorary Oscar, but the world remembers him as one of the greatest directors in history.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Fight Club (1999)

"Project Mayhem"

The script was tight, the theme fascinating, the acting incredible (especially Edward Norton, as one might expect), the direction inspired, and the cinematography stunning. It is one of the few films of the past five years that deserves to be seen multiple times. In fact, if you have seen it only once, you have missed something. I was seriously hoping the movie would receive Oscar nominations for Best Actor (Norton), Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Picture.

So, how is it that the film received no nominations? Unfortunately, it had a mismatched ad campaign. The ads made it seem like the movie was about street boxing, instead of a intellectual and emotional ride through a man's psyche as he takes a strange path toward rebellion against consumer society. As a result, most who went to see it were disappointed, and those who would recognize its brilliance stayed far away from the movie theaters. This is one of the most underrated movies I know.

I always love movies that keep you entertained and keep you guessing, and this movie scores a 10 in both. Those who enjoyed The Game, Memento, or The Matrix really should check it out.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

"Born to kill"

A gritty, intense, no-holds-barred war film that grabs attention from the very beginning and holds it all the way through. The only detriment to this film is the fact that the first half (Boot Camp) is so much more powerful than the second half (Vietnam).

The film is basically about how war sucks the life out of humans and turns them into 'killing machines'. The greatest performances in this film are of course R. Lee Ermey, the savage drill instructor, and Vincent D'Onofrio, his slow-witted whipping boy. The viewer alternately laughs and cringes at the relentless abuse and degradation inflicted by the former on the latter. And at the famous line, "What is your major malfunction?", the tension reaches an almost unbearable limit and the viewer ceases to move or breathe.

This movie, like many of Kubrick's, is too graphic for many people, but I highly recommend it to those who can withstand its assault on both senses and consciences.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Se7en (1995)

"Oh look, a box!"

Despite clichés, and a very depressing finale, this is one of the best-made films of its era and genre.

The strengths of the film include an odd relationship between the two lead cops, who seem loosely based on the two lead cops of the "Lethal Weapon" series, but who (thankfully) never play for laughs, and never really become "buddies" - the young cop is too arrogant, and the older cop has too much experience, which the young cop refuses to acknowledge. The two characters are also brilliantly acted by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt (probably his best performance).

There's one odd flaw in the film - about half-way through, I found that I had learned to "expect the unexpected" from the film, which meant that the rest of the film was predictable in a bizarre way - simply decide where the expected move would be, and then expect the unexpected move instead. The most obvious instance of this is in the finale itself, which could be guessed at least 5 minutes ahead of time.

Normally, this would be a formula for disaster - but fortunately, the high quality of the film-making twists the film into an edge-of-the-seat suspenseful waiting game as we watch with horror the one cop's encounter with the insanity of pure evil.

I didn't want to admire this film (to be honest, I dislike Brad Pitt something fierce), but I'm afraid I must - very professionally made, it delivers its promised suspense all the way.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Goodfellas (1990)


Scorcese & Pileggi's masterpiece on the life of Henry Hill as a Brooklyn NY mob wise-guy.

As much as the true events of Henry's life have more than likely been dramatised and glamourised to a certain extent, the essence of this film IMO is that it is still a brilliantly damning portrayal of the characters and lifestyle of mobsters.

The sham of the mafiosi is exposed - preaching loyalty, respect & principles - but when it comes down to it they are just two-bit criminals that'll stab each other in the back for money or power over others. Each of them has an inflated sense of self-worth and stature that comes with being a "wiseguy", breeding with it paranoia that others are not giving them the respect they deserve.

An example is De Niro's portrayal of Jimmy Conway. His outward persona is that of a calm and reasonable nature. But really he is a paranoid killer who at the drop of a hat would kill even his closest associates for money. I use associates rather than friends, as their relationships are of tolerance rather than kinship. Distrust, hate and jealousy through the forced smiles.

Interesting that given this, certain people envy their life-style and would have loved to have been a wiseguy. I personally couldn't think of anything worse that being tied for life with having to keep the likes of Tommy company, but whatever rocks your boat. Some people have actually paid to see The Dukes of Hazzard film, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

12 Angry Men (1957)

"The angry men"

This film deserves to be on anyone's list of top films. My problem is that it is so perfect, so seamlessly polished, it is hard to appreciate the individual excellences.

The acting is top notch. I believe that monologue acting is quite a bit simpler than real reactive ensemble acting. Most of what we see today is monologues pretending to be conversations. But in this film, we have utter mastery of throwing emotions. Once the air becomes filled with human essence, it is hard to not get soaked ourselves as the camera moves through the thick atmosphere. Yes, there are slight differences in how each actor projects (Fonda internally, Balsam completely on his skin...) but the ensemble presents one vision to the audience.

The writing is snappy too. You can tell it was worked and worked and worried, going through several generations. It is easy to be mesmerized by this writing and acting, and miss the rare accomplishment of the camera-work. This camera is so fluid, you forget you are in one room. It moves from being a human observer, to being omniscient, to being a target. It is smart enough to seldom center on the element of most importance, so expands the field to all men.

This is very hard. Very hard, to make the camera human. So much easier to do what we see today -- acknowledge the machinery and jigger with it. Do we have a filmmaker today who could do this?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Taxi Driver (1976)

""Scorsese's best."

Not too many hyper-critical reviews of this film have anything near as intelligent to say about what the director and the screenwriter had in mind when they created this American gem.

To those people that have seen it and thought it was "slow" or the pacing was sub par, they don't know what they're talking about; "Taxi Driver" is about the gradual and eventual take-over of insanity, and not about violence, action-shoot-'em-up 'slash' car chase... or whatever they expected from it. The modern audience today is expecting everything--comedy, drama, unbearable suspense, spfx--all rolled-up into one-stop entertainment... and no, I'm not anybody's grandfather, or here to tell you that movies were great in my day, but, viewers, lighten up already.

De Niro, and the rest of the cast, do a serviceable job in this micro-cosmic window into the life of Travis Bickle--a Vietnam vet--who, true, writes mind-numbing entries in his diary, leads a, for the most part, dull existance as a cabbie, and strikes out with a female political campaigner who, after Travis becomes a hero, discovers she is indeed attracted to unstable, sometimes violent chauffeurs.

The rest of this movie's story is for the less initiated viewer; decide whether you've truly become desensitized to sexual and violent content in today's films... Ah, forget it! You have to have lived at least some of which goes on in "Taxi Driver," or you've just been plain lucky in this life so far.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)

"Mad People"

A couple of years ago, I finally managed to get IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD on video. I saw it as a kid and remember enjoying it but watching it again for 40 years later, I still found myself LMAO. This is still the granddaddy of all comedy/adventures directed by Stanley Kramer, who up to this point had only directed serious dramas like THE DEFIANT ONES and JUDGMENT AT NUREMBURG. A dying man (Jimmy Durante) who was thrown from a car that careened over a cliff, tells a group of witnesses to the accident (Sid Ceasar, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett, Milton Berle, Jonathan Winters) that there is $350,000.00 hidden under a big "W" in a nearby town, which sets off one of the wildest, craziest chase comedies made in the history of cinema. A rather tired and haggard looking Spencer Tracy heads the cast as the cop on the trail of these greedy money-mongers and just about every comedian or comic actor alive in 1963 appears in this film, either in a starring role or cameo and despite this impressive gathering of the best comedic talent in the business, towering over all of them in one of her few film performances, is Broadway legend Ethel Merman, who gives the performance of a lifetime as Berle's shrew of a mother-in-law. Her performance alone makes IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD worth seeing. Check out this classic if you've never seen it.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The Blind Side (2009)

"Nice message...mediocre movie"


There's no denying that at it's core "The Blind Side" is a very warm, uplifting film. How can it not be since it's based on a genuinely touching true story. For the most part the movie does satisfy in that area. But it has more than it's share of flaws.

First is the acting. Bullock gives a good performance as does Quinton Aaron as Big Mike. But then you have Tim McGraw. He gives a wooden, robotic performance that is at times laughable. Jae Head as the Tuohy's young son S.J. is either a victim of bad writing or just an abnoxiously horrible young actor. At times he seems to be patterned off of Culkin's "Home Alone" and "Uncle Buck characters.

Another issue I had was that the movie seemed to be more about Leigh Anne Tuohy than about Big Mike. Mike became a small character as the movie progressed and it's unfortunate since his story had alot more to offer in terms of interest.

So "The Blind Side" has it's share of positives and negatives. It's negatives are too numerous to overlook. But it's positive story, and emotional impact doesn't leave the film empty of entertainment value.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Irreversible (2002)


A lot has been said about this movie. Yes, there are a couple of brutal and violent scenes. It's even hard to watch at times, but Irreversible is much more than that. I personally think that the acting is great. There's a natural chemistry between the 3 main characters. Monica Bellucci does a wonderful job as Alex. I give her a lot credit for being involved in such difficult role. I really like the way the story was told. Some people say that it's a rip off of Memento, and that it doesn't work well in this movie, but I have to disagree. The movie "starts" in a dark way, with a lot of graphic images and violence. But at the end there's this kind of peace, a little dose of happiness..."the calm before the storm". It works really well, and that's what make this a really sad story. I really recommend this film. But like I said before, it can be hard to watch. Just watch it with an open mind and give it a try.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The Last Airbender (2010)

"Worst Movie This Year So Far"


I'm going to start out by saying that I personally saw Avatar: The Last Airbender from start to finish. Amazing animated series, but now with a very not-amazing movie. You know something is going wrong when the first few sentences being spoken pronounce the title of the show incorrectly. Then you know its even WORSE when you find they pronounce the HERO's name incorrectly. It's Ang! A+ng! The story itself technically was accurate, but it all was done extremely choppy. And the ethnicity's for 2 of the groups were mixed up; water benders should have been Indian, fire benders should have been Asian. Apart from these details, the acting in my opinion was also lacking, but it didn't help that the script seemed very lacking as well. The ONLY good part about this movie were the visuals. The CG was great.

To those who saw the original series: DON'T see this movie. All you will do throughout the entire movie is just cringe at "AHng" whenever he's called out, and in general point out all of the flaws.

To those who haven't: You still may enjoy it, but be prepared to be a little confused. Things aren't described well enough for those who don't know whats going on.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

"Drag Me to Hell"

Thank You Mr. Sam Raimi! Well done, you just gave faith to American Horror; there might still be hope! For the last ( long ) couple of years only Asian Horror movies deserve my attention, and with time passing by even the medium/poor ones are masterpieces when compared to a long list of US horror movies ( i just had a flashback of house of wax for a while here argh!). I couldn't help myself thinking about the evil dead trilogy with some of the magnificent scenes on this movie (especially the tissue fight!). Mr Sam Reimi you just brought Horror back! Hope this is a new beginning... (and all other directors out there... please make room and stay way...)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Expendables (2010)

"Stallone has a leather face"



What happens when you take almost every action star who has been in at least one bad movie and put them together; you get a bad movie. Stallone directed and help write this film and it was not up to par at all. Now I am not a total hater of this film. I am sure it was interesting seeing Stallone's old skin in slow motion when he was running. But the film could of been better. The cast was fun to see. I loved seeing the newer action stars and the old ones work together. Even the cameos were great. The dialog for the most part was just as pathetic as the story. Pretty much just like the old action films you remember seeing. There were a few funny lines in the film though, so it did get a little of a laugh out of me. Now lets talk about the thing that the movie advertised; the action. Yes it had the action that was promised. All the cool fight scenes, bones breaking and gore. But some old action stars cannot move that fast so what do they do, they shake the camera. This really makes the viewer lose interest. Plus personally, I think there could of been more action. They did have a lot of serious scenes and with that dialog, it was pretty bad. Now, I don't know who was in charge of the CG, but it looked like something with a low budget. An example is a scene with Steve Austin. I would think with a hype like this, they could of made it look more real. All in all I enjoyed the film in bits and pieces. Also even thought I didn't enjoy the film all the way, just like the old action films, the movie did give off the man movie of the year. I don't know if it was Jet Li breaking someones neck or Terry Crews and his gun that kept me smiling at parts; you can see I liked it some. One thing really was on my mind when the movie ended though. I couldn't figure out who was uglier at their old age; Stallone or Rourke.

Home (2009)

If you are a human being living on Earth this documentary is for you... This is just the most beautiful, moving and sensational documentary I have ever seen. Beautiful for its aerial pictures from all over the world. Moving because Yann Arthus-Bertrand is an earthling talking to other earthlings about our home: Earth. We are all brothers living in the same precious place, our beloved planet. And you just can not help being touched by this common point we all share, the link with our land. Sensational because you learn a lot of things about how we, selfish and over consuming people, are tragically destroying such a wonderful place, result of about 4 billions years of evolution, and also how we can change things to build a better future.

Helpful perspective: 
"The concentration of carbon dioxide hasn't been so high for several hundred thousand years. Humanity has never lived in an atmosphere like this."

"Greenland's ice contains 20% of the fresh water of the whole planet. If it melts, sea levels will rise by nearly seven meters."

Monday, 13 September 2010

Superbad (2007)



Another go see!  Judd Apatow, who brought us "Knocked Up" is responsible for this comedy soon to be deemed a classic. I hate most teen-based comedies because they are not accurate or relatable. I found I could relate with "Superbad". Detractors of this film have complained about how the characters are so vulgar, but this is how teenage boys talk. This isn't "Leave it to Beaver"! Just like "Shoot "Em Up", turn off your moral compass and just watch it for what it is. Easily, one of the top ten of 2007.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Dark Knight (2008)

"Dark and fast paced"

Batman, Gordan and Harvey Dent team up to bring down criminals in Gotham. A twisted new criminal named the Joker (Heath Ledger) might be more than they can handle though.

The Dark Knight is..dark and violent and not really action packed. It's more like a well made crime drama. It's always entertaining though due to the excellent performances. It's sad that we'll never see Ledger in the role again because he was amazing and no villain in a 3rd film could possibly out do his Joker. Johny Depp could possibly try to do what Ledger did if he played the Joker. But it would be disrespectful if they recast the role so soon.

The Last Exorcism (2010)

"waste of money."



When I seen the trailer, and the previews.. I was really really excited. My favorite movie is The Exorcism of Emily Rose, so I was very excited to see this. Don't get me wrong, it had it's scary moments. But those were the ones that you seen either on the trailer, or on the previews. This movie was a complete disappointment to me, and the ending completely ruined everything. It was a bit too dramatic, defiantly not something that I would see again, or recommend.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Inception (2010)



Very well thought out and well imagined, it had the deepest plot since The Matrix. It went overboard with special effects, but it didn't matter with the amount of plot. I really had to think while I was watching it, but the fascinating idea of it kept me perplexed for days after the movie. Bottom line is, if you're going to watch this movie, expect to devote your whole day to it. As it gives you a headache from thinking too much while watching it, and it will keep you thinking for a while even after it ends.

The American (2010)



I know - let's take a pointless, boring short story and make it into a full length movie. Having seen "The American" it is safe to say this has been accomplished.

Apart from that the only criticism I have is over the audio which is very difficult to hear over all the snoring.

Machete (2010)

"Blood, gore, nudity, swearing, and more!"

One of the most action-packed movies I've seen in a while, Machete is sure to keep you hanging. I walked into that movie, expecting a bloody action movie. What I found was more than that.

This movie is definately not for kids, as it includes plenty of f-bombs from every character, Danny Trejo using someone's large intestine as a rope for climbing down a building, brutal stabbing, plenty of blood, and Lindsay Lohan topless for a full scene.

But somehow, despite it's harsh nature, Machete is able to be a good protagonist in many ways. He is kind, caring, and a great father figure. He will do anything to avenge his wife and daughter, and he is a wild, can't-be-tamed kind of a guy.

Bottomline, if you like fast-paced hardcore movies with pure action, then Machete is a must see for you.