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Camping sauvage (2004)
Innocent summer fun
This film fancies itself as being a Canadian's answer to the infamous blockbuster. And, at that, it achieves what it strives for, which is to entertain without having depth, or groundbreaking features to it...
It's a funny hoot of a movie. Mainly laughing at the difference of social classes found in the french speaking province of Quebec. The tale is a simple one; a greedy, compulsively well-spoken, upper-class finance mogul is inadvertently caught up witnessing to a hit-n-run by a known and very dangerous gangster. This man is then relocated to a very kitshy Camping ground. There, he must be as inconspicuous as possible, in order not to arouse any doubts, or attract any suspicious men there.
Although a predictable premise, this movie is well constructed, with rhythmic editing, one that compares to Snatch in its crazy unexpected twists. It also has a series of references which, for the ones like myself who know of them, are interesting to pin-point.
It keeps the average story engaging enough to be enjoyable.
The main aspect making this picture a more than typical summer sweet treat is the very lively acting by all the cast. Their range is not very far and apart, and the characters they display are mostly tiresome clichés, but they are well done nonetheless, showing no pretensions or bore, and they manage cool chuckles, they also stay in character, which is unexpected.
The most fun this movie has to offer, in my opinion, is the perfect soundtrack recorded by Indo-Canadian techno genius Ramachandra Borcar, better known in Quebec as Ramasutra, or D.J. Ram. His soundtrack is, as all of his compositions are, bold, eclectic, reminiscent of older film themes. Here, he uses much more ambiance and lesser harsh tones, as opposed to his own independent work. All music being similar, they wonderfully work the actions on screen, and as I see it, they stand perfectly on their own very strong merit.
A fresh and fun Saturday night movie...
La vie, la vie (2001)
Life in the big city...
This is probably the best television show in contemporary times. It centers around five urban citizens, all of whom are trying desperately to make it in an all too indifferent and valueless world. The tie that binds them together is a profoundly human relationship.
The show is one of the very few ones playing which has a content that isn't presumptuous nor pompous. Indeed, its sincere depiction of young adults living hardships is very far from the obvious fictitious elements of the show which showed its viewers a rather idealistic portrayal of urban life, one view actually so far from truth it is very much starting to become a mockery, i.e. Friends.
The aesthetical look of the french Canadian program is one other aspect this reviewer found especially appealing. The editing, vibrant and lively, is a true pleasure to experience, instead of the stale and rather frigid look of the American sitcoms with only one or two visual perspectives.
The script is yet another refreshing aspect of the show that differentiate it from all others. Its frank and very intelligent dialogue has serious moments, but is also very funny at times. And it doesn't aspire to be deliberately funny either.
The most enjoyable part of this superb show is, unlike practically every show that came before it, and very few that will after it, is that truly brilliant non-chalance to be politically correct.
Thank god for that !
One thing which distinguishes this film and Stanley Kubrick's 1964 masterpiece is the fact that the humor in the latter film was intended.
The painfully awful script, which would've been quite a nice work had it presented the views of the stranded president attempting to get out, whilst presenting the workings of the Vice-President to prevent the Iraqi catastrophe from happening, is so utterly predictable in its development, you'd think you'd watch yet another broadcast of CNN's cheap journalism.
How dumb the fact that the most powerful man in the free world is stuck in a diner is appalling...
You'd think that a man in this position would be aware of weather conditions days before being trapped in such conditions.
The president seems to learn his job, and the implications of it, one step at a time in the set position. The fact he meets his security personnel right then and there is quite laughable and sad...
One more detail with is so rigid and fake is the cinematography. The zoom-ins in times of tension are so forced they in fact do the exact opposite of their intended purpose, make the audience feel it's watching a picture, and not the other way around.
The truly unpleasant elements of the picture are it's all too obvious, and profoundly dangerous depictions of the White House's alleged peaceful and humane means, they are lies which are more frightening than anything else. It gives the young, inexperienced American viewers the impression their government is a safe and peace-loving creation, which unfortunately is all too false.
Granted, this film does have some elements worthy of mention in a positive aspect, mainly and solely Kevin Pollack's integrity in the holding of the character he portrays. Unfortunately, he isn't strong enough to sustain such a bad supporting cast, one which eerily brings to mind that of Beverly Hills 90210 or Melrose's Place. I found interesting the editing and insertion of authentic news coverage, but that too tends to lose its momentum as the film progresses.
The obvious references to Dr. Strangelove are aplenty, the phones, the conversations with Iraqi counterparts, the very fact of nuclear warfare, are rather amusing to spot, if you've seen the latter.
So much so that it makes this viewer want to switch the channel and watch the Kubrick masterwork instead...
11'09''01 - September 11 (2002)
Mind Numbingly perfect !
I expected to be shocked...
I was, but to a point so much more than I expected actually !!!
All these segments, except perhaps on a much lesser scale Sean Penn's more abstract view of how the world was, still is, and will remain, which was a bit out of focus, are sublime and disturbing.
To make such a dramatic collage of all these nations, all these people and all these lives, you truly see, taste and hear how this awful event touched so many lives.
You feel a sense of urgency for the current lack of compassion, love and respect we all miss for each one another.
One will look at this film in fifty years and say:
Man, they REALLY went wrong, or didn't understand anything about anything in those days.
This picture, brilliantly edited, in-your-face honest and at times, overbearing, is perhaps the greatest tribute to our screwed up world as a whole...
I feel that, in respects with another film that attempted to strike a chord with a post 9-11 world and failed along the way (The 25th Hour), this picture is much more complete, far more passionate and intense...
I was shocked to see such animosity in earlier comments to this film, specially since it presents the world wholly and completely honestly without exclusively focusing on the misery of the people within the geographical boundaries of the United States after 9-11.
Maybe now it's time to focus on the world outside north America, and surely, now it's time to get over this awful day, and focus on other more urgent issues once and for all.
War Stories (2003)
I wasn't expecting anything new or spectacular. I wasn' blown away by the tv-film itself, but more so by the potentiality of the program to be a series. I agree with a previous post that with the mind-numbing so-called 'reality tv' horse crap playing, a show like the example here could've been a refreshing change of pace.
Jeff Goldblum's portrayal of Ben, an experienced foreign correspondent thrown into the lawless and chaotic world of war torn countries in search for the truth, was quite fascinating. Although it isn't quite new as far as composition is concerned, for tv it works quite impressively.
I can't really imagine any other actor capable of such restrain from being overtly expressive. His reserve seems very accurate and is reminiscent of Dan Rather and Nic Robertson (CNN).
Had this film been directed by Steven Soderbergh, a probability very slim for tv productions, it would have been very fascinating. I see a very interesting neo-realism treatment to the direction, something à la Traffic.
Unfortunately, this show just isn't what it could've been. I believe, aside from the obvious plot holes, the useless subplot which for the shortness of the film's length seem to leave too many questions unanswered. A doubtful supporting cast, which appear only to count on Jeff to support them in such a way it seems forced, the show aimed at greatness, but fell short.
I believe, a reason for such a miss perhaps was using a theme that is a bit too actual. Utilizing al Qaeda as an actual reference, the 9-11 slaughter and Usamah bin Laden himself appears only a bit too disrespectful for the memory of the very unfortunate victims of terrorism. Specially so soon after the events themselves.
Basically, this feature seems more or less like an extended pilot of a terrific show with great prospects, but falls short as far as a film is concerned.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978)
First of all, Clint, I want my hour and a half back !
I can't believe this film went to production, much less into post-production and completion...
The script looks and sounds like a bad episode of The Dukes of Hazards sponsored by The CMA and Steve Erwin (the Alligator guy)...
The stupid race between the 'Bad guys' and the 'good guys' is so utterly embarrassing I actually wished they both failed. In many respects, they did.
Clint, oh Clint...?! What went wrong...???
I respected this prolific actor since seeing Dirty Harry, but I find myself a bit confused as to his real talent as an actor. It appears that he really needs to be writing and directing in order to provide brilliance. It appears he is limited in this such way as an actor if he cannot deliver.
It's truly frightening when you see that the best supporting performance in this film goes to the monkey. He gives a natural, breath taking performance of how intense he is as a monkey...
Digvijay Singh's tragic observation of life in secluded India is both invigorating, in the sense that life, and its people seem to care only for the simple things that make them happy, and it is above all savagely tragic, in ways that certain rites and traditions are not or should not exist in the first place.
The tragedy is amplified quite masterfully by the approach of the little girl's life. The film centers around her innocent childly activities and her simple (yet perhaps quite harsh) life in a poor under developped area of India. Unfortunately, fate would have it that the child must grow and become aware of certain aspects of life which simply can't be understood nor accepted.
This film is a prime example of how I see tragedy. To fully implement a strong sense of tragic, one needs to build it around simple minded genuine calmness. I found the film perfect in this aspect.
Last Call with Carson Daly (2002)
The True Carson in Action
I used to loathe Carson... Thank goodness I don't have MTV....!!
I had seen his mind-numbingly boring show Total Request Live when on Vacation to the states, and actually felt physically ill...
I watched the first night show he presented, which incidently had Alicia Keys, a truly mesmerizing artist with so much charisma and sexiness....
I was quite surprised at his energy and presence on screen, not over-the-top like that nausiating TRL, not dull to death. The way he and her were hooking up... My opinion changed from then on.
His guest are usually quite interesting. It may happen that he receives some people just for the public's liking and whenever that happens, I go to bed or do something else. Since his show is mainly for hip young kids (something I try not to be), I had doubts. But he grew on me.
I hope people will see that he isn't that babblin' idiot we knew from TRL...!!!
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Ain't war hell ?!??!! Ah hahahahaha...
I won't go into details about the plot, I assume with all other reviews of this film, you got the gist of it...
I will however attempt to go through details which make this film one of the most fearsomely authentic and majestic experiences captured by a single man's uncanny vision.
Using the camera as a window into the human experience, Stanley Kubrick was among the (very) few directors to truly capture the human psyche as a rich and complex whole...
As some of you may know, Kubrick began his extraordinary odyssey as a director by first being a freelance photographer for Look magazine, a path which transpires on this film...
In this feature, he amazingly captured the loss of innocence, as a singular part of men, but also as a much grander totality of society...
I just want to mention one striking scene to justify my phrase, the hair cut sequence.
These men arrive at a barber and get shaven, you clearly see their curiosity, fear and quest for adventure in their faces, unknowing what kind of hell they've embarked upon. It is a very powerful message as to how, as much as a singular part of -these- men, but as well as the Americans in foreign settings, how innocent and inexperienced they truly are... They send men to die in conflicts that don't affect or concern them.
And Kubrick uses a very strong metaphor to imply that idea, the hair itself represents innocence... One becomes comfortable with his hair, it is his identity, a way to differentiate himself from his fellow man.
Kubrick takes that away as a symbolic image in the way the system (militarily speaking) takes off your image, your true self, by shaving off the seemingly only way to truly distinct yourself from others...
From there, the cleansing begins...
In the following time period, a sort of routine sets in. Stanley is able to create a sense of relative normalcy in the first part of the picture, the men are together, at home, in America. As unpleasant and awkward as it seems, they get in a feeling of acceptance that this is what they came for, an adventure.
But something goes wrong in the plan
It is interesting to see the wide depth of knowledge or understanding the film's director had on human beings. As in 2001 and throughout all his career, Kubrick drew a picture to see humans as a mechanical tool of some greater force (A theme completely and brilliantly achieved in the haunting masterpiece, Eyes Wide Shut..)
This film is no exception to the quest. Man is an ultimate machine and is on a continuous journey to the ultimate truth, but as it goes, some flaws occur. As the characters come and go, the one being who appears as the most out of place is perhaps the most honest portrayal of man. With a mind blowing zoom-in on the face of Gomer Pyle, we see the absolute control of the situation, both within the plot and cinematically, and a complete loss of inner power all at once...
And this brings up to the next and somewhat lesser appreciated chapter of this film. The linear effect of the days in training is a way to amplify the chaotic mess that was the Vietnam war fiasco. It seems that few appreciates the second part of the film. To me it shows the true genius of the man who captured it, Stanley.
I would like to paraphrase a quote from a lesser impressive film, but with an interesting phrase nonetheless. From Vanilla Sky; 'without the bitter, the sweet isn't as sweet...'
Notice the stability of Parris, and the stark contrast it has with Vietnam.
Instead of the camera on wheels, he practically always uses a steadicam. In the process, it works as both extreme realism technically speaking, and another brilliant metaphorical aspect. One which clearly displays the instability of the geographical, political, social and more importantly, the psychological setting these young boys are in.
It is a much more impressive part of the film to me, because it shows the truly devastating aspects of war on its combatants at large, the pattern of instability which soon has total control over the men. I can see that the phrase, bitter/sweet, is seen here. I meant to say that one important aspect of the way we see Vietnam in the film is a much broader and lesser defined whole than America. But it is clearly as important in the picture he tried to take of the history.
We made a definable observation in the training, we understand the way things go, much like a prison, it has a tendency. Whereas in Vietnam, or any war theater for that matter, they're is no tendency. And that is ultimately how this film succeeds in showing. The unpredictability and challenges of combat. I worship films such as Apocalypse Now, The Thin Red Line, or The Longest Day for showing a wide range of how one can capture war, but it seems no film comes nearly as close to capturing the factual thing. It was fascinating to see how, in Apocalypse, war is seen with a breathtaking lyrical sense. But not here The Longest day, a masterpiece, showed war with an acute sense of patriotism, which is good for the way it was presented in history, but FMJ makes none of that, quite the opposite in fact...
There is no concessions here, what you see is what you get. The brutal honesty is what blows me apart in this film. No big explosions, no dramatic music at key moments, no heroism, just war.
I love this part more as well for the following, it allows an opportunity to see Kubrick, the photographer, the artist, in action. Granted, the entire film wraps like a documentary, but in the way he captured Vietnam, it is much more so
The bleak light, the austere empty city, the long pauses of dreadful silences, it is an example of how Stanley Kubrick went against the stream of Hollywood as a director, never allowing any chance for relief or entertainment, he presents his view of what went wrong, why did the Americans lose the war, why they're so disliked abroad, the structure of the film goes against conformity. No one in history ever had the guts to do that, and that itself is a huge mark of honor !
The Deer Hunter (1978)
As real as war gets....
Director Micheal Cimino takes the sickness of the Viet Nam war and presents the horrors with images we can't shake away....
In the same nature as Apocalypse Now, we are cordially invited to live out the days of madness of three workers who were sent to Viet Nam and inadvertently brought back together in this horrific turns of events....
Filming the sequences all most in a documentary format, this film, in my humble opinion, exceeds Apocalypse Now, for the realism of the Vietnam war has had on the soldiers. We see a rough and extremely intense first part, but then the movie takes a radical turn, and becomes a sad melodramatic story.... But, well brought of course..
The events right after the war made the characters change their perspectives on life and the world around. And it is in this aspect which gives this movie the excellence Apocalypse doesn't have.
A personal view of post war trauma.......................
One detail was quite annoying, the music kept me really bugged.
As a musician myself, I tend to look for films that have a fabulous soundtrack, this one just really is poorly made and doesn't help the film.......