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Careless, dumbed-down adaptation.
This film adaptation does not succeed on its own terms as a film. It is hurried, hollow, empty, and devoid of arresting characters. It's a shame, because A.S. Byatt's novel has none of these flaws and instead is a superbly written love story/mystery with fascinating and likable characters. I wanted to post this to urge anyone who was disappointed by the film to read the novel--you may find what you were missing.
Appalling because a student film had won the Academy Award for best live-action short. My fellow film students and I were hopeful when we watched it.
Appalling because it is so bad. As cornball as it gets. It's competently made (you don't question the technical aspects of the film), but it's utterly charmless, bland, and unfunny. It's like watching bad television. It thinks it's a lot better than it is. So, apparently, does the AMPAS.
Maybe I shouldn't be at all surprised that it won an Oscar. Winning one these days seems to be more of an insult than a compliment.
Express: Aisle to Glory (1998)
Yet another one-joke parody
Why is it that young filmmakers think that one single joke can sustain ten minutes of film?
This short does just that, begging us to laugh over and over again at the prospect of supermarket bagging being a sport. I laughed when the joke was first presented to me. The silliness was cute.
Cuteness wear off... ...fast.
Yet, since this project comes from the reputable USC Film School, and it's exposed well, and it looks professionally made, it was shown in Cannes at the Kodak Emerging Filmmakers showcase. It certainly was a proper demonstration on how student's can properly exposed Kodak film stock. If intelligence-insulting commercials are the future for young filmmakers, then this film found its appropriate venue.
Kodak should be proud.
Horses on Mars (2001)
Really skillful animation, but...
...an incomprehensible script (when it shouldn't have been) dependent on a rather flaky voice-over.
The animation, however, show real talent.
Quite visually impressive.
Worst Ending Ever
A not bad film until the last fifteen minutes, which were laughably bad, hurried, contrived, phony, and gut-wrenchingly sappy.
The basic message of this film is that messing with the past will probably screw things up, but if you mess with it just right then everything will come out perfect.
Oh, and one more thing: why do so many movies deal with a killer? How many of you out there deal with killers? This film has an interesting concept, but filters it through yet another detective pursuing murderer story.
Haven't been there, but seen that way too many times. Phony. Juvenile. Yet again.
The Thin Red Line (1998)
New and Different: 2 things which make people squirm.
This film is the very essence of cinema, for it cannot be explained in words. If a film can be explained in a paragraph, perhaps it is not worth making.
The film put me into a trance. From the first opening credit to the last end credit, I was transfixed.
This film is not about World War II. It's not about war. It is a meditation on humanity--a stream of consciousness.
THE THIN RED LINE is something dangerous. People are going to hate it passionately because it's so different and new and unable to be labeled. It's a true piece of film art--an amazing work which is original and daring.
See it. Think about it. See it again. Think.
Good for him.
Everyone's complaining about how a shot-for-shot remake of Psycho is such a horrible idea. Here's one thing everyone must give it: it is new. Never before has this been done, so I say go for it. Why not? Do we revere Psycho that much that we must put it on a pedestal high above everyone else. Van Sant is making this film as much for himself as anyone else. I'm a filmmaker, and I have to say that making this movie sounds like a lot of fun. That's probably one of Van Sant's biggest motivations. This movie is going to be a blast. It's not gonna be a work of art, it's gonna be a cool experiment. At the same time, a younger audience will be exposed to this film. Hitchcock's film IS a classic, but let's face it, if you re-release that print, nobody's gonna pay to see it. I know that this version won't be nearly be as good as the original, but I can't wait to see it, especially since I know the original so well. Here's the best analogy I can give for this remake. It's like doing a play. Shakespeare for example. Should we never do another version of Hamlet? Of course not. It's a great play. What the hell is wrong with doing a great film again? Van Sant's doing this because he can, because of his Good Will Hunting mainstream success. Good for him. Do it. It should be a blast.
A very different film--thus, not for most.
There is one major point where we can say that Eastern & Western art are very different: what tells it best. Film is a perfect example of this. I've noticed a lot of bad comments given to Sonatine. This is a VERY different film, made by a director who does not play by the rules most people are used to. His films are spare, cut & dried, and imply rather than tell. His characters are subtle like real people. Kitano has been called a wooden performer. True, but his characters are wooden like Woody Allen's are neurotic. They rarely speak. But, that's the beauty of his type of filmmaking. It's subtle; you have to look for it. If you find it, it's so much more rewarding than the approach of many American films--ramming the message down your throat. This is a character study. It's not an action film. Violence doesn't mean action & fun. It means pain, suffering, sadness. This film is about a man tired. Tired of all of that--so tired, he can only sit and play. Take a look at the humanity in this film. These characters don't act human, they ARE human. They have fun. They wait. They be people. Kitano doesn't say more than he says. He's there. Look at him.
Nobody's Business (1996)
If you should by some luck happen to come across this film, by all means, watch it. It is a very well done documentary which is never boring, never pretentious, and always entertaining. To uncover his family's history, film maker Alan Berliner questions his family and grapples with his cynical father to feed his own appetite for knowledge of his lineage. Even though this is obviously a personal film for Berliner, one he made for himself, it is quite entertaining and very accessible. Dealing with divorce, paternal love, and questions which we all seem to have, Berliner creates an energetic, fun documentary which is honest in its portrait of families and curiosity about the height of one's family tree.
Jackie Brown (1997)
The most underrated film of 1997.
A lot of people don't realize why Pulp Fiction was such a great movie. It excelled in two areas: characters and story. Both were great. Jackie Brown has fascinating, well-defined characters who scheme and plot and think and act like real people. I could watch them all day. The plot is labyrinthine, twisted, satisfying, and genuine. These are real people using their brains to try to pull something off. Brains are what matter most in this film. Tarantino--for all his hype--is a great director because he writes great, realistic characters and he's a terrific storyteller. This film has all of these elements. It's a great film.