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toast-15

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43 reviews in total 
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Amélie (2001)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Everything is perfect, 16 September 2011
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first time I saw Jean-Pierre Jeunet's masterpiece I was swept away by its story, the second time by its music, the third time by its atmosphere, the fourth time by its nuance and style, the fifth time by its whimsy, the sixth time by its justice, the seventh time by its compassion. I've seen this movie more times than I can count and each time I do, I see something new to love. This is the only movie that I was determined to buy both the movie DVD and the soundtrack CD. I must have played and replayed the scene where Amélie (Audrey Tautou) is skipping stones while Yann Tiersen's hauntingly beautiful Comptine D'un Autre Ete: L'apres Midi plays in the background countless times as well. The first time I heard it was the first time that I realized that modern classical composers are just as good or better than those that are only revered in death. Everything about this movie is beautiful. This movie is like a perfect flower, delicate and beautiful but fully apparent only to those that take the time to see its true essence in all of its myriad of miracles that touch the senses.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
very dark but gloriously absurd, 15 September 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Almost from the start, with the closeups of fat faces in very strange expressions, I sensed that I had seen the style elsewhere. Then I realized that this movie reminded me of Amelie. Sure enough, it is the same director although this was made about a decade earlier. Amelie is one of my favorite movies; not just for the story but also for the unique imagery. This movie shares that unique visual style but in a more grotesque fashion. Faces are shown in closeup that border on nightmarish. Colors and atmosphere meld to form a bleak, murky, misty and dreary filmscape. It is at once charming and horrifying. One of my favorite scenes is when Louison (Dominique Pinon) is blowing bubbles in the hallway. The two mischievous boys (or "young rascals" played by Boban Janevski and Mikael Todde) are immediately entranced and Louison is spared from any future harassment from them. Indeed, at one point they save his life with their mischief on others. Another of my favorite scenes is when Louison and Juliet (Marie-Loure Dougnat) are playing a duet, she on the cello, he on the saw(?!). Together with the music it was a magic moment. In fact, whenever Louison is shown clowning around, the music is soft and whimsical. Another wonderful moment is when Louison and the Butcher's lover (Karin Viard) are unintentionally playing a song from squeaky mattress springs. In another scene, she and Louison are dancing in his apartment. It looks well enough until you notice that Louison has 3 legs giving new meaning to having 2 left feet. These delightful moments are a stark contrast to the rest of the film. I guess I should expound on what the movie is about.

Louison is an out of work clown whose partner has been eaten. He tries to get a job as a handyman for a butcher (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) who is also a tenement owner. The butcher sizes him up and is not sure he will do. He thinks Louison is a bit too scrawny. However, Louison's luggage is all over the street so he gets the job just to clear the way. It would have been better had he not because in an earlier scene, you see someone hiding in a trash can and then getting butchered as the screen goes black. That someone was the last handyman. This movie is set in a post apocalyptic future where food is scarce and indeed, grain has become currency. The world has become divided between those that live underground and still use grain as food instead of currency and those that hoard grain and eat... well, anything else they can get their hands on except grain. I don't think I've ever seen a blacker comedy than this but if you enjoyed Amelie, I think you will also like this movie.

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
life and love, 8 September 2011
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The story follows several couples from the 21st of June of one year to the next. They are all gathered, bravely disguising their unhappiness, around a dinner table trying to make small talk. Text messages are surreptitiously viewed or sent under the table like naughty children in class while other messages from the more desperate are lobbed verbally across the table for all to hear. Some find it amusing but one person sees it as a call for help and answers it with a kiss when they find themselves alone later in the evening. A romance ensues even though both are married. A very successful divorce lawyer is wooed into joining another lawyer's firm. Affairs meant to be hidden are exposed. A prayer is answered with an accident. One couple ends up divorced while another stays together. What one person understands as marital bliss another may take as entrapment. Most end happily, but not all.

This film could have been improved had the focus been on one or two characters with the rest of the cast in supporting roles. Instead, with no focus, it did not develop beyond a superficial tone. The characters of Piotr (Dany Boon) and Sarah (Emmanuelle Seigner) were compelling in that they were two creative types with spouses married to their work, but with so little screen time, not enough was made of the potential.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
timeless and classic, 4 September 2011
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I avoided seeing this film for years because I thought it was a grim prison uprising tale from Stephen King. Well, I was one third right, it is set in a prison but it is a very good story about friendship, honesty, forgiveness/redemption, patience and loyalty. I'm going to really try and not give away too much of the film because if you haven't seen it yet, you are missing out on a great story. It's set in a prison in the late 40's. Some of the inmates have been there since the early part of the 20th century and with repeated parole denials and no rehabilitation in sight, many have been institutionalized and have lost hope and even lost sight of their own identity. When one such inmate is released, he walks into a world that he barely recognizes. He tries but in the end, fails to make it in the real world and succumbs to desperation and hopelessness. We see some of the guards greedily taking part in violence that is so vicious that it is difficult to discern the prisoners from the prison staff. But, ultimately it is a tale of redemption and the story unfolds with hardship, humor and grace. This is a film that I will see again and again.

9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
visually striking story of self discovery, 3 September 2011
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the first scene I wanted to physically BE where this film was made. The location shots are absolutely stunning. Hèléne (Sandrine Bonnaire) is a maid who works in a hotel as well as the private home of an expat American, Dr. Kröger (Kevin Kline). While at the hotel, you get the impression that she is harangued and bothered all day long. She is an invisible worker who people only notice when they have something to complain about. However, on this particular day, one of the rooms she enters has a young couple playing chess on the veranda. They are separated from her by nothing more than a loose, sheer panel that sways gently in the breeze but they may as well be miles away. They beckon her to enter the room and she does but she cannot take her eyes off of them while half-heartedly trying to focus on cleaning the room. They each in turn notice her prolonged gaze but they do not mind. She is asked if she plays chess and says no. In that instant, she realizes the great chasm between her life and the two lovers on the veranda. They are carefree, they are in love, they are fulfilled, they are confidant, they are happy, they understand the game. She perceives their status to be out of her reach. She wants to occupy that space but she just doesn't know how nor does she truly believe that she can.

By the end of the movie, we see Hèléne achieving her goal of playing an intellectually stimulating and sensually arousing game of chess with her own secret lover but her version far surpasses the scene she first glimpsed early on in the film that started the whole ball rolling. The last chess scene is a scene that says so much about the characters, their deep understanding of the game, their devotion and love to each other, intellectual equals duking it out with an invisible board and chess pieces all visualized and strategized in their minds. Their moves are whispered quietly, eyes transfixed on each other, as they parry for the win. The scene plays homage to the superficially simple yet complex game of chess and to the deep and abiding friendship and love between Dr. Kröger and Hèléne. She always had the power, she just didn't know it, nor did she understand how to use it. Dr. Kröger filled in the blanks and then some. The last scene between them is probably one of the best love scenes I've ever had the privilege to see on screen. And so I leave you with this: Wow!

P.S. I found it interesting how this film compares and contrasts with the Japanese film, "Shall We Dance".

The Help (2011)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
quiet tome, 2 September 2011
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I wish I could say that all racism is in the past but I think we all know that is not true. However, we can appreciate a film that brings this particular injustice to the forefront. This movie brings everyone to the table in that respect. Many would rather not be there and many more will simply not see this film but perhaps however slowly, we may all eventually come to recognize racism when we see it. Maybe someday we can rise above the amount of melanin in a person's skin, but coming in a year when our (first black) President was forced to prove he is a citizen of the United States by showing his birth certificate in a press conference for the first time ever (even though 3 years prior he had already shown the legal form for his state), and coming in a year when the debt ceiling was held hostage for the first time ever, and coming in a year when the Speaker of the House for the first time ever, publicly rebuffed a sitting president's date request to give a speech to both the House and Senate, it is clear that day is not today.

This film is not perfect but it is necessary even so many years after the civil rights act became law. I can't think of a sadder statement.

Buddy (2003)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
pleasant movie, 1 September 2011
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really liked this film. It reminded me of Four Weddings and a Funeral with the ensemble cast and gentle comedy/drama genre that involves friends and lovers, misunderstandings and miscommunications. The actors are pretty believable in their roles and the characters stay with you even after the film has ended. Kristopher (Nicolai Cleve Broch) keeps a video diary of silly, goofy exploits that he and his friend Geir (Aksel Hennie) perform while tooling around town in between hanging up billboard signs. They are twenty-something and carefree until love and other commitments vie for their attention. Kristopher is well meaning and sometimes finds it difficult to navigate his life. The two friends decide to move in with Stig Inge (Anders Baasmo Christiansen). They barely know Stig but as one of them puts it, the "rent is cheap". They end up becoming very chummy with their new roommate and when Stig offers a room for rent to another new roommate, Henriette (Pia Tjelta) they become chummy with her too. Kristopher is unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend at the beginning of the film. He is very hurt by this but she continually gives him the brush off whenever he tries to reconcile the relationship. During one particular dangerous escapade around town, Kristopher drops some of his video tapes while being chased by a security guard... and then the fun begins.

It was nice to see how people in other countries live. And it was nice to see how other countries look as well. I thought it showed how we are all alike in some ways; probably more alike than not. In the vast expanse of the universe, we all inhabit the same blue planet and we really do have common basic needs like love, life, and laughter. Buddy is a very heart warming movie with good character development. Definitely see it if you can.

Memento (2000)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
ever heard of a journal?, 1 September 2011
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At first, a rather likable but pitiful guy seems to engage the viewer and you want to be interested in his plight but you soon realize that the lead character is not really a protagonist. And about 1/3 of the way in, you start questioning why this mentally handicapped individual doesn't take better notes. Why not a journal or tape recorder, even a camcorder? He leaves himself pictures of people and things with 1 sentence notes that he sometimes describes as "fact" but are little more than here-say or supposition. Now this would be fine for someone who just needs to jog their memory but for someone with no short term memory at all the scenario is ludicrous. For example, instead of simply stating "don't trust so and so", a journal entry or tape recorded message fully stating why not to trust someone would be perfectly understandable but it isn't done. At one point, this person who is completely reliant on pens has no pen or any other writing utensil. In fact, he sees the person he is conversing with hiding all of the pens and he doesn't question that? OK, I need to suspend my disbelief. It does become apparent at the very end, that there is no "wife killer" and he really isn't all that innocent in his wife's current condition. He seems to dispatch anyone who confronts him with truth or reality yet he welcomes those who would use him for their own means. Killing is killing to him I guess; and reasons can be manipulated to achieve the end result as long as the end result is another death. Shoddy notes are just a means to an end. One gets the impression that he might enjoy killing, and manipulating his memory is just as good an excuse as any in his demented mind. In the end, the only one being taken for a ride is the viewer.

6 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
slasher horror flick masquerading as epic fantasy, 18 July 2011
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

**contains spoilers** Have you ever had a miserably bad experience at a restaurant that you previously had thought would be stellar because of all the good reviews? This movie is that restaurant. It's all hype but the king has no clothes, though few would admit it. What it really is is a badly done horror movie hiding behind the facade of a fantasy wrapped in a war movie. What better ploy to show gobs of blood and gore? This movie is a blood fest and the only love the director shows for any of his characters, is the loving embrace by the camera every time blood is in the scene. Someone is stitching his own mouth: Close-up please! Someone is being beaten about the head: Close-up please! Someone is being tortured: Close-up please! Someone needs an amputation: Close-up please! It was so ridiculous that I almost expected to see "Blood" make an appearance in the screen credits. You know you're watching a bad movie when every single major character takes actions that are completely out of character and it doesn't take long to figure out that the reason for such is that you are being rather obviously manipulated because the director has another blood fest to embrace in the next scene. Incidents don't occur to advance the plot, they occur to advance the gore. In one scene the rebels actually start a campfire in midday in clear view of the enemy base camp. At first you think that no rebel army could be so stupid and that it is probably a trap. Well, think again. There is no trap; they actually did start a fire in the middle of the day for no other apparent reason other than, one presumes, to warm their lunch! The rebel army is composed of morons who leave astonishingly stupid clues behind so that key benefactors can later be implicated and/or murdered (in gory close-up, of course). The rebels have a spy at the enemy base camp but do you think the spy would take the opportunity to poison the enemy leader? No, of course not. Instead, the spy uses her plumb position to act as postal carrier! When she actually does have a prime opportunity to kill the enemy leader, she instead squanders it by simply cutting his mouth open. (How else could you have the self-stitching close-ups later on?) She then leaves and walks right past the very people who apprehended her in the first place. Did she honestly think she wouldn't get caught walking in plain view of them? The stupidity of the characters in this movie is mind boggling. This isn't Hitchcockian suspense, it's more like B movie schlock fest alerts; every time someone does something stupid, you know blood will follow. The stupidity isn't what you would expect from characters in a real first rate movie. However, the stupidity is exactly what you would expect in a movie like Freddie vs. Jason or some such teen slasher movie. And that's really all that this is; it's a slasher masquerading as a fantasy wrapped in a war movie. After all, you have to at least pretend to have some semblance of a plot. When someone finally does decide to poison the enemy leader, he occasionally stumbles but otherwise, the lethal dose has little impact; exactly what one would expect from the hard-to-kill "Jason" type character typical of most slasher movies. But what I found most offensive of all was the death scene where the little girl is by herself with the spy a few steps away, not even comforting/hugging her but instead humming a wordless "lullaby" that sounds more like a depressing and wordless funeral dirge. Aberrant and abhorrent.

98 out of 163 people found the following review useful:
dumb and boring, 2 January 2010
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I actually had high hopes for this movie. I went with a big crowd of people and while they planned to see Avatar I was going to see Sherlock Holmes. Unfortunately for them, Avatar was sold out so they all joined me in this train wreck of a movie. To be fair, there are about 10 minutes total that are kind of interesting. But the movie is 2 hours and 15 minutes long so there's the problem. There are so many plot holes that a mack truck could drive through and even with suspension of disbelief, it is truly a hodge podge of dreck with loud noises interspersed amongst the dreck to keep you awake. We are supposed to believe that Irene Adler is so strong as to heave a drugged and out-of-it Holmes from off the floor by the fireplace and onto a bed and then strip and handcuff him to the bed posts. They don't show you any of this because it would be laughably unbelievable. She must be super human to accomplish such a feat. There are other ridiculous stupidities that I thought perhaps were aimed at teens but the teens that were with me actually fell asleep because it was so boring. Every once in a while one of the sleeping teens would nod awake at a loud explosion. One such explosion completely engulfed the major characters yet in the next scene, not a burn mark is to be found. Apparently people in Holmes' day were made of asbestos. Don't waste your money. I like R.D.J. but this was a waste of time and money.


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