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King Kong (2005)
Peter Jackson's King Kong is both a triumph and a let down. The work in creating the Gorilla and giving it character and emotion is brilliant. The story surrounding Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody and the Gorilla is wonderful.
However, hour two of the film is totally unnecessary. It is basically a rehash of Jurassic Park, and the digital effects are not as good. It seems like all the money was spent on the Gorilla and the rest of effects are quite poor.
There are several points in the film where a human character will walk through a CGI construct (a leg, or other body part).
Another complaint is Jack Black. He is playing a slightly more narcissistic version of himself. Frankly there is no acting and I found him very tiring - and I liked him in School of Rock.
I have to give kudos on the recreation of New York in the 1930s, it is beautiful and the Empire State Building is wonderful. The film is chock full of wonderful scenic CGI, but frankly the fact that they turned this wonderful heartwarming story into a bad Jurassic Park for an hour really hurt this film for me.
One bad performance lets down otherwise good movie
Kirsten Dunst is not a tennis player. She does not look or play like one, and most important she didn't act like one.
Sports movies ride and fall on the credibility of the sports reenactments. Why? Because most of the people who will see the film are going to be fans of the sport. Its tough, but its true.
Paul Bettany is not a tennis player, but he plays one well on the big screen.
There is one other problem, there is no real chemistry between Dunst and Bettany. It is hard to watch a romantic comedy when the romance is somewhat unbelievable. What is interesting is that the relationship starts as one predicated purely on lust. I believed that.
Bettany saves this film. He is self-deprecating, charming and funny. I believed his character - tired, no self-confidence, war-weary. Sam Neill, great as always - he is Australian, playing an American, in Britain. Odd, but vaguely believable.
What is interesting about this movie is that it reminds that in sports anything is possible - Greece winning the European championships, Boston winning the World Series, Seabiscuit beating War Admiral.
At its heart, this movie succeeds in this tradition admirably. If only they had recast Kirsten Dunst.
Love Actually (2003)
Somehow, no mater how crappy I feel, this movie makes me feel better!
You cannot get more sappy or sentimental than a movie about Love and Christmas.
The movie Family Man tried to be the "It's a Wonderful Life" for the new millennium, and failed because it tried too hard to be value conscious, epic and mystical.
Love Actually is not a sweeping epic about the value of kindness and compassion, it is a movie that just tries to be entertaining, but manages to remind us that no matter how alone we feel; there are people who care about us and that Love, actually is all around us.
There are wonderful performances by Bill Nighy, Hugh Grant and Liam Neesom. And if it is important to you there is some female nudity.
The score is great, it moves at a quick pace, and will give you joy no matter how tired and listless you may feel.
Technically Brilliant, but a morally repugnant and vicious story
Lars Von Trier has attempted to create an new version of Bertolt Brecht's DER GUTE MENSCH VON SEZUAN (Good person/woman of Szechwan) centered on a different moral compass. While Brecht was focused on the corrupting nature of capitalism, von Trier focuses on the corrupting notion of being American.
The is a lot to be honestly critical of in the United States, arrogance, ignorance and indifference among them. Traditionally critical works have focused on the institutions - corporations, criminals, government etc. This movie argues that the American people themselves are fundamentally rotten.
Every character in this movie is a liar, rapist and/or thief. The one pure character learns from her experiences with these people by closing off her humanity and becoming a mafia kingpin.
On all accounts this should be a brilliant movie - technically inspiring, amazing performances from a compelling cast. The writing is excellent. What undermines the film is this disgusting vile story that does not offer constructive criticism or moral parable, but only anger and disgust. This film is a direct attack on the character at the centre of the American society - small town America.
There is no good in von Trier's America. There is no hope. There is no joy. Do not watch this film, there is nothing to be gained.
WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW
Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior had its North American premier last night as a part of the Midnight Madness program of the Toronto International Film Festival. In the 16 year history of the program, no movie ever got a standing ovation... until last night.
This movie is everything a Hollywood critic would detest: action for action's sake. The story is bland, the acting non-existent. But the first shot of the film is 40 men fighting, leaping, flipping throughout a giant tree... this isn't Crouching Tiger - there are no wires.
This film grabs your heart beat from minute one and does not let it drop below 140 beats per minute until it ends. Every time you think you have seen everything these guys can do they shock you again.
There is a chase scene about 1/3 of the way into the film that may be the greatest thing ever captured on film. The real impact in this age of CGI and wire teams is that every move, jump and flip is REAL - done BY THE ACTOR. If the Matrix made you go "Cooool" - this film will make you go "OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD!!!!!!"
You can't not love it.
Alexandra's Project (2003)
You will love this movie or hate - no middle ground
One does not have mild emotions about Rolf De Heer's Alexandra's Project. It is a brutally strong, psychological and in-depth look at the power of a spouse to make you feel weak and helpless.
The film is uncompromising. The performances are brilliant and need to be recognized. The only real knock I can make is that the director chooses a character so that in the end he can have a winner and a loser. It strikes me that in this scenario there can be no one winner.
Only let your wife see this movie if you know that she is totally happy with you!
Mr In-Between (2001)
Best movie I saw in 2001
I saw Mr. In-Between at the Toronto International Film Festival. You would expect that it would be impossible to remember any one movie of the 47 I saw at the film festival. The movie made an immediate impression, and one that stuck throughout the festival.
I rated every movie I saw and wrote a review in my program. I gave this a 10 as soon as I saw it, the only 10 I gave at the film festival. This is an uncompromising movie. It is beautifully shot and takes chances. Most of all it is true. When the ending occurs, one that is totally unexpected as a movie-goer, you have to go YES, that is EXACTLY what this character would do.
It was brilliant. A fantastic character study, with a great story, and it turns the mobster/hitman genre on its ear. Fantastic. I loved. See it! But be prepared to be shocked and challenged.
Director Paul Sarossy worked for years with Atom Egoyan, no surprise. He has learned a lot from Egoyan, encompassed all his strengths and avoided his tendency for oblique minutae. Just the right hit of minimalistic flavour mixed with pulsing colour. You will NEVER be bored.
In the Company of Men (1997)
The most excellent and truly disturbing movie I have seen in a long time.
I have never seen a movie like this before in my life. It takes a truly familiar setting, an office, and uses it like a weapon.
There is not a single cliche in this entire movie, a claim that even Quentin arantino can't make. The performances are truly superb, and the haracteristions are truly believable.
So many films of late give happy endings when you kinda want the bad guy to get away with it. In this case there is no pat Hollywood ending and I almost wished there had been, because the film is so frightening. But the fact that it doesn't fall to that temptation is just a testament to how great this film is.
I love this show
There are two levels on which you can enjoy Traders. The first is very simple and it is the reason Traders can be seen in more than 60 countries - this is a great show. The characters are real and flushed out, the action is intense, and if you like finance (as I do) that aspect is gripping. Anyone can appreciate this show based on that alone.
However there is one extra treat that Canadians have in watching this show. Traders takes great pleasure in being Canadian, and deals with it in a truly wry manner. Only Canadians will understand many of these breif references but they make the show sing like a fine wine.
For example, in one episode Adam is going to meet his girlfriend/political hack. She is talking to a blond haired man. She asks him, "Can we talk you into coming back into the game." He responds, "Absolutely not." he smiles and walks away. She meets and talks with Adam. What made that all wonderful was that the blond haired man was recently defeated Ontario Premier Bob Rae.
There is so much texture to this show that you can't help but be transfixed. Check it out.