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liang79

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8 reviews in total 
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1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Interesting perspective that falls short., 24 April 2003
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(POSSIBLE SPOILERS!!)

At last, a film about the Vietnam war, shot in Vietnam and from the VC's perspective.

The film's story is told in the form of personal accounts from a Vietnamese war veteran, who was a cameraman with the Viet Cong army. It takes on a docu-drama mode from this point, intercutting his archival footage of life among the soldiers and their battles, along with "re-enactments" of the lives of the characters involved.

Political ideologies are almost non-existent in this film, no mention of Communism even among the soldiers. Not one of them seemed to question their loyalty to the army. This could be due to censorship issues in Vietnam. Instead, the soldiers are shown as caring, jovial and loving men, with strong emotional ties to their families. Ordinary men. Not the trap-laying and cunning guerilla forces as depicted in many western films.

However, I feel the film falls prey to its very own devices. Its form and story doesn't seem to work together.

The one quality from this film was its cinematography - alone. Well composed mise-en-scene, poetic long shots of the country's landscape, well-lit, overhead crane shots and even slo-mo. However, these scenes were often accompanied by an overbearing, melodramatic soundtrack, that instead of complementing the shots, work against it. Coupled with average acting and a below average script, you feel like you're watching some soap-opera. As a result, an "artificial" and "glossy" feel permeates the drama scenes and you're always aware of their constructed reality. This awareness is further heightened when the film cuts back to archival footage and the modern-day veteran scenes, which were also shot in a similar fashion.

Though not a combat film, the battle scenes also seem to suffer from a lack of authenticity. I say "seem" because I do not know what it was like to be there then. How can a soldier's uniform and face be clean after days in the jungle? Americans that didn't look like Americans. One American soldier even spoke in a weird accent. Such little mistakes to mise-en-scene just further reduces the film's credibilty.

I felt one of the film's best moments was ruined due to poor editing. Two men, who just 30 years ago were enemies, sit below a tree near a padi field and begin chatting. It was an American war veteran and the narrator of the film, the Viet war cameraman. The American wants to forget the past and reconcile differences. The Vietnamese mentions how he feared the American choppers with their arsenal and the other states that he could possibly be one of the gunners then onboard. The film then cuts this scene with long shots of the padi fields and landscapes, farmers ploughing, very long shots of the duo from afar, distracting us from this poignant conversation. The focus should have been on them. To make things worse, the dialogue for this scene was also outside of sync (maybe it was the theatre I was in?).

Thus, we get a film that's based on true accounts, tries to make us identify with the characters and fails because its drama sequences could not fit into and work with its documentary premise. Its efforts at showing a more humanitarian view of the war just could not be brought across.

I would have loved to see the war cameraman talking through his footage (which we see so little of) though.

8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Interesting perspective that falls short., 24 April 2003
2/10

At last, a film about the Vietnam war, shot in Vietnam and from the VC's perspective.

The film's story is told in the form of personal accounts from a Vietnamese war veteran, who was a cameraman with the Viet Cong army. It takes on a docu-drama mode from this point, intercutting his archival footage of life among the soldiers and their battles, along with "re-enactments" of the lives of the characters involved.

Political ideologies are almost non-existent in this film, no mention of Communism even among the soldiers. Not one of them seemed to question their loyalty to the army. This could be due to censorship issues in Vietnam. Instead, the soldiers are shown as caring, jovial and loving men, with strong emotional ties to their families. Ordinary men. Not the trap-laying and cunning guerilla forces as depicted in many western films.

However, I feel the film falls prey to its very own devices. Its form and story doesn't seem to work together.

The one quality from this film was its cinematography - alone. Well composed mise-en-scene, poetic long shots of the country's landscape, well-lit, overhead crane shots and even slo-mo. However, these scenes were often accompanied by an overbearing, melodramatic soundtrack, that instead of complementing the shots, work against it. Coupled with average acting and a below average script, you feel like you're watching some soap-opera. As a result, an "artificial" and "glossy" feel permeates the drama scenes and you're always aware of their constructed reality. This awareness is further heightened when the film cuts back to archival footage and the modern-day veteran scenes, which were also shot in a similar fashion.

Though not a combat film, the battle scenes also seem to suffer from a lack of authenticity. I say "seem" because I do not know what it was like to be there then. How can a soldier's uniform and face be clean after days in the jungle? Americans that didn't look like Americans. One American soldier even spoke in a weird accent. Such little mistakes to mise-en-scene just further reduces the film's credibilty.

I felt one of the film's best moments was ruined due to poor editing. Two men, who just 30 years ago were enemies, sit below a tree near a padi field and begin chatting. It was an American war veteran and the narrator of the film, the Viet war cameraman. The American wants to forget the past and reconcile differences. The Vietnamese mentions how he feared the American choppers with their arsenal and the other states that he could possibly be one of the gunners then onboard. The film then cuts this scene with long shots of the padi fields and landscapes, farmers ploughing, very long shots of the duo from afar, distracting us from this poignant conversation. The focus should have been on them. To make things worse, the dialogue for this scene was also outside of sync (maybe it was the theatre I was in?).

Thus, we get a film that's based on true accounts, tries to make us identify with the characters and fails because its drama sequences could not fit into and work with its documentary premise. Its efforts at showing a more humanitarian view of the war just could not be brought across.

I would have loved to see the war cameraman talking through his footage (which we see so little of) though.

Cast Away (2000)
Could've been GREAT...but.., 27 January 2001

What a disappointment....and waste.

Tom Hanks aka Modern Man, stuck on an island, with no food, water or communications. Its obvious that he will somehow fend for himself and salvage all the bare necessities required. This film shows just that - and ONLY that. It did not portray the more humane (and psychological)side of the situation, that is: How and what does a man FEEL when alone on an island? Hanks displayed little, if not, no signs of fear, despair or disillusion during the initial stages of his strand. He did not break down and was not torn by internal conflicts of loss, hope and reality. Sadly, the producers had to use a volleyball (Wilson) to elicit such emotions from him. The next thing you know, its 4 years later and Hanks has become an expert spear fisherman.

And after being exiled from society for 4 years, we're supposed to believe he could adapt again in 4 weeks?!?! C'mon! Although the film did try to hint at his ineptness and awkwardness ( more reserved, sleeps on the floor, sense of loss over unfinished food ), it never really does hit the correct emotional note. No oomph.

His re-unification with Helen Hunt was a tad too dry. Little emotions were shown from them, as if both sides were suppressing bottled-up feelings; though Hunt seems more likely to be the culprit.

Overall, a film with some beautiful visuals and a great plane crash scene. There were many chances for the film makers to capitalise on for more powerful scenes, but I guess they just didn't know how. "Survival Skills:101" seems like a more apt title.

Perhaps Wilson's final scene was its only saving grace....

Beautiful in Every Way......, 1 April 2000

I was only 10 yrs old when this film was nominated for an Oscar then in 89'. I remember watching a clip from it being shown during the ceremony and immediately it grabbed my attention....maybe it was the music, or the little boy....whatever it was, i wanted to watch that film.

Years passed and somehow the film eluded me...until one night a few yrs ago, it was shown on TV. However i missed the whole film EXCEPT for the finale ( which i will not disclose )! So I scoured the whole island looking for the video but to no avail. Until one day it was released on DVD........

This film is a simple one. It tells the story of a "father-son" relationship between a boy (Toto) and a cinema projectionist(Alfredo). Much of the story takes place in and around the local theatre:Cinema Paradiso. However, director Tornatore is able to use this backdrop to weave a beautiful tale of coming of age and life. Other than the growing relationship between the 2 leads, the lives of other characters are also brought into play as we follow them through the years; we laugh and cry with them as they watch their movies and also as incidents unfold upon them. Their films change from BnW to colour and genre to genre. Life lessons are learned as Toto grows up, falls in love and eventually leaves the small town in search of greener pastures. Along the way, Alfredo teaches him a thing or two about love and life, and peppers his sayings with quotes from movies. Sadly, the turning point arrives when Alfredo, all old and weary, runs out of quotes n urges Toto to leave "..this cursed place.."

This film has no special effects, violence or sex. Every scene is beautifully lensed and accompanied by a great soundtrack. Filled with unforgettable moments, esp the Finale, it gets better with each viewing. Words would do no justice to such a gem. I highly recommend this film to anyone who watches movies....see it, U WILL NOT FORGET IT. Its Pure Cinema at its very best!

Goodfellas (1990)
Best Mob Film of this Generation!, 4 January 2000

Back in the 70's, Francis Ford Coppola gave us "The Godfather" and infused into film-goers an infatuation with the Mob and their ways of life. Many felt that the 3 GF films 'glamourised' the Mob in many ways as people started to associate not only violence but family ties and loyalty to them. Then came the 90's and we have Martin Scorsese's "GoodFellas", a hard-hitting, no-holds-barred look at the life of a mobster through 3 decades. The traits of the Mob were still there,ie:violence, trust/betrayal, family abuse, loyalty..etc etc, but Scorsese's film brings us deep into the world of his characters. It shows us the perks and 'highs' of being a gangster, then slaps us in the face with its sudden outbursts of violence n dangers, sucks us in as they spiral towards their eventual downfall and leaves us exhausted from the ride. In the end, we see clearly that crime doesn't pay - a message which the Godfather films fail to emphasise properly. Fast-paced and narrated by the main character himself, the film has a voyeuristic feel made even more so by the great camerawork. Excellent soundtrack which seem to blend perfectly with each era and scene. A fresh and unique change from the slow moving grandeur of the GF films. Performances are as good as they get all around, especially from De Niro and Pesci. Definitely the Mob film for and of this generation! Based on a true story.

163 out of 288 people found the following review useful:
A film for all to see....and learn., 4 January 2000

" I....pardon you."

These words spoken by Amon Goethe (Ralph Fiennes) during the film can be aptly used to signify the themes of this film: power and forgiveness.

I am part of the post war generation who has been lucky enough not to experience any major war. And after watching this film, I have deep respect and feelings for those who suffered during these times, be it the Holocaust or the Nam war. This film was just waiting to be made and I'm glad it was the right man who dared to take up the challenge. Any other person would not have done it justice.

The film focuses on how a German named Oskar Schindler saved the lives of thousands of Jews by employing them to work in his factory during WWII. However, I feel the film's primary aim is not to show us Schindler's kindness but the horrors of war. There are some of the most true and graphic scenes here ever captured on celluloid. People being shot for no particular reason, hiding in fear, stripped and gased, abused......so much so that viewers watching it for the 1st time will be deeply affected. We have never got to see this "flip side" of the war in many Hollywood productions which only focuses on action and their unrealistic "gung-ho" heroes. ( Another excellent film would be "Saving Pte Ryan" by Spielberg again ) War and its horrors are finally and faithfully recreated for the audience.

Like the film Raging Bull, its shot beautifully in black and white to reflect the era and tone of the film. Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are excellent, esp the latter for his frightening protrayal of Amon Goethe. The scene where they discuss about power is a classic and the subsequent one where Amon 'pardons' a young jew remains as one of my many favs!

HyPeR-KiNeTiC!, 3 January 2000

Lola has 20min to get $100,000 for Manni or he will be dead. With such a simple premise, this film manages to lift itself into the realms of film/funk/hip states. Aided by brilliant cinematography and a pulsing soundtrack, the viewer is always absorbed and never bored. Some animation is also thrown in for good measure, along with the use of 'split/screens'. A film for all ages and definitely for techno fans. But check out the great scene where the oldie 'What a difference a day makes' is used! The film is rather short however, about 80min, but its enough to leave you satisfied. :)

7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A Film for those who have fallen in love before......, 30 October 1999
9/10

A female director (Chang) decides to make a autobiographical film on her love life and we see it through the use of flashbacks and brilliant intercutting. Leung plays the younger Chang as she goes through a relationship with Kaneshiro which spans 3 decades. Tender and touching, the film is filled with memorable scenes and lines as it follows the couple through the meandering river that is love. An unforgettable film especially for those who have been in love before....the finale will definitely wet many eyes.