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alavita

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8 reviews in total 
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14 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Stop leaving in dreams and do something, 25 January 2010
8/10

This is a quiet movie. It's a simple story about a writer who cannot write his story coming back to his home town to get started but instead he gets involved in a friendship with a weird older man whose life externally represents perhaps the internal state of the writer - it's a museum of unfinished ideas, outdated equipment and "useless" people.

There are no extraordinary circumstances or any big movements in the plot. It's a movie about internal changes. Being stuck in their lives which are not developing much, the principal personages get to help each other to transform, stop leaving in dreams and achieve something or at least get a change and give their lives the desired and long-awaited new direction.

On the film-making side I can think of only one weakness which could also be considered as a feature - we do not get much of characters description or inner world insights. It's very narrative on the side of thoughts and events and we have to guess about their true feelings which are rather hidden but still you can see them, and this is what makes your own mind work, trying to figure them out, to understand the impressions made by those people, and it's not empty underneath - the actors definitely hold well some inner states proper to their characters. It's close to the real life where you mostly never know someone well enough to understand them completely, and this turns us around and puts in front of our own feelings and choices.

What's most important for me is that this simple almost flat story leaves you pondering afterwards, about your own life, about your own dreams and achievements, are there any or are we caught up in the routine and pleasures, leaving at 100% or only dreaming about it, could we do more and move somewhere we'd rather like to be than just leaving feed ourselves and others the tales like "I'll do this one day"- not moving one finger to make this actually happen, or "I'm fine where I am" because it's easier to go by the habits than to actually make a change? At least that's the impression it left me with and it was very timely for me, which adds to my appreciation of this far-from-famous movie. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes the movies meant for the heart but those who need events and actions should stay away.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Great inspiration to all practicing and good mood to everyone else, 25 February 2006
10/10

Well, this movie looks like low-budget and also quite old, so I had some trouble to resolve the puzzle with names (against 1993 movie with Jet Li aka "Twin Warriors") but Yuen Wu Ping is also there among directors and this movie is a must for anyone practicing Tai Chi or other martial arts. There's a light comic and lyrical storyline telling us about the founder of the famous Yang Tai Chi style Yang Lu Chan - how he got into Cheng family and took Tai Chi out of ancestral family protection to the wide world. What is real great in this movie is the amount and quality of fight scenes, it's 2 hours of superb martial arts work. I bet fight choreographers put in this film more job than anyone else in the movie. And the level of performers is also very high. Besides group scenes with general plans we have a number of one-on-one fights where much of moves are shown in slowed details. It's a very good inspiration for all practicing people. I watched it twice in two weeks since I have it at home and already 4 in two month, and it doesn't get me tired, only gives taste for more practice. Not to speak about the wonderful character of Yang Lu Chan, whom everybody calls "kid" and his ever-smiling eager or serene face shining with purity of heart, along with charismatic Cheng Chang Xing teacher and other bright characters like master Tan Han Ching (bagua master) and lots of others (kinda hard to remember all their names) should be able to make this movie enjoyable not only for fight scene reasons and bring good cheerful mood to everyone!

Excellent and unusual piece of art, 25 May 2005
8/10

A strange film. I caught it on TV not from the beginning. The way it's put on stage draws attention at once. Lots of silence, close-ups (even just parts of faces). Some internal tension. Different plot lines are interlaced in sound and pictures... I even thought that must be some famous director, but I don't know him (although it proves nothing, I'm not an all-knowing movie geek).

To honestly say, the story itself didn't catch me too much, since its essence can be very roughly put out as two mules set against each other on a narrow bridge over the abyss. The tension appearing accidentally between formerly unfamiliar to each other lawyer (Affleck) and businessman (Jackson), each of whom has guts and power, grows into vengeance rage of the kind when you try to kill a fly with a sledge-hummer. At the same time both of them have their own moral and principles, which undergo a transformation in the finale of the story (actually a kind of stories I appreciate). Well, emotionally it's not my elements, but the way the film is set, directed, filmed is truly gripping. Those are two (at least) equal righted stories of life, deep, extended, very psychological.

Each character impresses with the depth of his personality, internal tension, a whole life can be sensed very brightly behind every sentence even of second plan characters and all is performed very well - a rare thing for Hollywood with its little demand for psychological acting!... I was particularly impressed by lawyer's wife, Michel, by her woman internal beauty, softness, tenderness, depths of feelings and understanding... all that while she advised her husband to compromise with his consciousness for which he never went. It is in general impossible to judge any characters right or wrong. The story is told from either side. A beauty of each personality and a truth of their beliefs can be seen very well in the same time as the unresolvable conflict between all of them. Well, I know the idea is not new to me, but the main is that it is brilliantly fulfilled! The most funny thing is that from the first moments of the movie I caught, I recognized Affleck from behind! While he's not among my favourites and I haven't seen many movies with him (well, if you count Dogma 15 times, may be I'm understating :) ) This mad me understand he must have some very specific gesturing manners, a kind of clearly recognizable bodywrite...

Well, the essence of the final transformations of main heroes escaped me - I lost what and how exactly turned their beliefs upside-down (may be I was distracted by something or should have watched from the very beginning). But anyway I took immense pleasure in seeing this beautiful unusual piece of movie are. A very interesting movie!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Poor Celts, poor history, poor legend!, 24 April 2005
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

One of the rare movies I rated really bad, because expectations promised by the title itself to a fan of Celtic culture ended up by bitter disappointment. The whole movie was to me like inconsistency upon inconsistency from A to Z in everything a movie is made of.

Legend:

The Arthurian legend is one of the most popular in the world history. The authors explicitly decide to tell us their version. But who would think it will have so little in common with the legend! Not a single word about Grail, Camelot, Morgane, Avalon. Merlin is a Pict! A dirty shaggy ragged wise man of a primitive tribe, yes. Guinevere is a Pict too, and quite a good warrior! Arthur Castus... he's a Roman captain, that's all! At least before he decides to stay at his mother's homeland. His "knights" are just... Sarmathian cavalry – men serving their 15 years military duty to Rome! Nothing more. All we have left is Excalibur taken from father's grave (but looks like it was a deed for a kid he was to simply lift it) and the empty Round table biggest from all movies (I bet it's able to host more than a double dozen!), looking really mistakenly with only 6 companions (all who's left alive after battles for Roman rule in England!). Difficult to castrate the legend more.

History:

May be the authors decided to discard all mystical elements and take an historical approach? We have a handful of Roman soldiers, Arthur with his cavalrymen and a Bishop in the fortress. Not much faces in the city, no peasants around. The only peasants we see are those serving the Roman nobleman living behind the wall between England and Scotland (!!!) built especially for defence against aggressive tribes. But I doubt local peasants would be so obedient to a stranger, if he would survive at all up there. All we see as truly local population are Picts truthfully described as a primitive tribe... But where is the rest of British population??? Did they wipe them all out "to control the land"? Devastation. Empty Britain save for those poor Picts before Saxes came. Hey, where are the Celts??? Even in 4th century they were already occupying all the South and their descendants are still living in Whales. And they could tell you the names of those knights Gawain and Galahad retained from the legend are 100% Celtic. Not Sarmathian, I can assure you living on latter's historical motherland! Were Celts considered also a mystical part of the legend?! Shame on makers of an historical movie! (if this is one at all).

Story:

Looks more like a sketch of the story. The story lines are raced through. Some episodes are depicted in slow details and then big parts are simply cut out. There is too much milk and water (soldiers' jokes, tribesmen matters) comparing to content essential for the story. Many episodes finally serve to nothing and some banal ideas are repeated too many times. The driving motive judging by accents is "soldiers wanna go home", at least this warrior part is most emotionally filled. Other relationships and love line look like very long entanglement suddenly passing into abrupt denouement, completely unelaborated. Even the psychological culmination of Arthur's ideological disappointment in Rome and turning to local heritage have much time divergence filled with nothing substantial. So we have no good story either comparative to "First Knight" as much unfaithful to the legend but at least offering a fascinating story in itself.

Characters:

Basically flat and banal (brave captain, crafty Bishop, etc). There is an obvious lack of individuality, psychological evolution and motivation. Our heroic knights dream about simple domestic joys. Guinevere though tribeswoman looks quite decent until she suddenly jumps into Arthur's bed. Arthur has a specific strain of deep thoughts and high responsibility on his face, too forced IMHO. There is a hint on his special abilities in the beginning but it does not take any shape. He doesn't make the presence of a powerful hero. It is not rigid seriousness which makes beloved leaders, and it is not stupid braveness which makes heroes, and it is not plain honour which makes kings. Nobody to look at all in all.

Artwork:

Picts' blue faces painted with spiral red lines the same as on their tomahawks are beautiful. The rest of "original" details is not really original. The wonderful firework of flaming arrows we had in "First Knight". The sexy war costume of Guinevere is a leather copy of Lulu's medical stripes in "Fifth Element".

Location:

I don't know why they had to shoot the movie on location (in Ireland though) with all other relativities (hills and forests must be not hard to find). I guess they took some real castle, but we don't really see much of it, except the long wall. And I have strong impression that the same wall is used for the frontier wall. The gate in it was huge and at first I was pleasantly surprised seeing it opened with 2 horses, but in the end one heavily wounded soldier opens them with only his own weight, so it didn't keep consistent for long either. I guess all of it could be easily replaced with decorations. As well as a very small one but obviously real ring of stones in which the wedding takes place. It is naturally deprived of upper beams which should probably be intact in 4th century, not speaking of the fact that those stone rings were not for weddings like in Christian world and "coronation" looked also quite exotic for modern views.

One word – it's one of poorest speculations on Arthurian legend I've seen. Sadly I was caught on the bait of the title, but happily didn't spend anything on it save from my time.

Hidalgo (2004)
0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful picture and nice entertainment... for kids!, 23 March 2005
7/10

The first thing to jump into eyes at first frames is that picture work is done with lots of taste and artistry, and it doesn't disappoint us through the whole movie – from the first scene of a melting ice on the water, through the gorgeous sunrises and swiftly moving clouds in the desert (a ready set for gorgeous PC wallpapers, hey!), stitched with awesome lighting on main character's face at crucial moments and till the final series of not so obvious but so subtle foreground-background self-speaking plans unleashing on us the powerful drive of wild nature and a human feeling and understanding it.

Another pleasant thing about the movie is Viggo Mortensen's play of the main character. And I am very happy for Viggo! You know, after being used for years to see his face on second plans as some evil guy, I was surprised when they took him for one of the main good guys in the Lord Of The Rings, but he did a perfect Aragorn, he was above praise, above expectations. It was a discovery, I guess for many spectators. It is only to be happy for actors who come to it at last, not being probably so perfect in their looks nor extravagant as persons to make their way right to the Milky Way (much more sad for me was the discovery of Leonardo di Caprio, when I saw that as teenager he had shown himself as an ingenious actor while later they made rather a baby-doll from him). The above mentioned success had put Mortensen into the limelight, and here we see him starring again, and the actor himself now advertises for the movie, well like it happens to stars. Not to mention that after watching the documentary about horses for LOTR I guess Viggo was an obvious choice for this role if not the inspiration for the idea! :-) And he does not disappoint! He was wonderful. As strange as it can seem, although I don't feel too much sympathy for the character, I totally admire Viggo's work. How can I say it again in different words? He was fascinating! And other characters in majority were also very very well done, they were very bright and picturesque.

But what of the story? It seems absolutely unreal through the whole movie. The characters are so conventional and so typical, the main hero charisma is so much a cliché that I didn't stop to ask myself what were they thinking of when making this movie? To remake an old western? I mean, "Nobody touches my horse" thing was at its top when I was a kid 25 years ago... And the conflict is too typical: our guy ain't bad, he wished bad to anyone, but everyone wishes his death and he stubbornly is going to make it however! And in the end all bad guys are either dead or turn out to be not so bad if not even good and his friends. Some moves in the plot were so exemplary, that they were beyond my expectations – so simple, so banal, so noble... A fairytale, what to say. But in the end I discovered that it was actually based if not on a true story then on a true person's life... Amazing! There is one more inconsistency with my expectations that I discovered right at the beginning of the movie: the movie title is not about the man on the poster – it's his horse's name! I just wasn't aware of that and it became a surprise. And this finally gave me the clue (the day after it) – I remembered our favourite movies when we were kids, about all those wonderful animals – and I think that's it: I was probably prey to commercialization mistake, and the film didn't seem all right as a normal movie if you compare with how they make it now (heroes with more cultural or intellectual depth, complex characters without obvious good/bad absolutisation). I think it will be a great new movie for kids like we haven't seen for a long time – for them everything is in place: no ambiguity, not much psychology, kindness to Indians, central relationship man-animal, beautiful pictures, generous adversaries... And I guess for anyone who loves horses it will be a great movie too! A song of a horse and a rider's journey of will for victory...

24 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Nice entertainment, good cast, weak realization, 12 March 2005
7/10

Probably it could've been a better work, but still I got lots of fun. In first place it reminded me greatly "A Knight's Tale" - the same historical/fantasy action comedy. Quite interesting actors/characters interleaving: Purefoy starring as George here played a tiny but plot-significant role of Prince Edward in "Knight's Tale" and this character could be the future of George; and vice-versa for another comic fantasy "Willow", also close by the mood to this one, where we had Kilmer starring, and his tiny but plot-important role of El Cameo #1 in "George..." could be the bad future of his thief character in "Willow", would he not have a chance to show himself as a true hero.

We also have a charming princess, which reminds me the one out of "Shrek", with strong character and extraordinary view on the world, a sweet smile for friends and a hard hand for foes, quite a charismatic character as well as George himself, and James Purefoy makes a very charismatic presence in the film, becoming my personal actor discovery, so if you love Purefoy, that's definitely a title to enjoy.

I haven't seen Patrick Swayze on screen for a long while and he was my reason to buy this movie, but that's definitely not his best appearance, I had an impression that he wasn't giving himself a lot into playing that knight. I heard he did want to plain villains, but he still looks best as romantic hero by his manners, and thus he fits well for this role since his character is quite ambiguous: not romantic, not sensitive, eager for power and fame, but he does show the qualities of a strong chief and he's also drawing sympathies as a deft and humorous warrior. Almost until the end I was hoping they would still end up friends with George, as they started out being naturally attracted to one another as two of a kind, but the end roughly outlines the core difference between them – purity of the heart, even still showing their similarities.

Well, the bottom line – that's not a piece of art, but a very good entertainment, perfect for kids. Simple nice and romantic plot, a classical fairy-tale story, with right moral accents. Very good set of actors, the characters are almost all hilarious: what of the Father Bernard played by Jean-Pierre Castaldi or George's best friend out of Crusades - Tarik the Moor played by Michael Clarke Duncan! None of "good guys" in the film actually is too good - they're not "white and noble" but they are good at heart! And thus we have a moral too: to judge people by their hearts and actions, not just their manners. And the plot is not without a knot - quite a nice & kind "upside down" view of a famous Christian legend of George the Dragon slayer!

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
The only kiss is worth more than the rest of the film, 7 August 2002
7/10

I do not consider this film even as a re-telling of the Arthurian story, so conventional are the characters and their relationship to each other in time and space comparing to the little we know about it. But well, American versions are always known for their originality! ;-) It seemed to me that it was only a legendary surrounding for a very romantical love story, which provides the appropriate complications for the growing of tension of retained passions. And even this story is only a pale frame around the bright explosion of their only one, achieved through so much suffering ;-) KISS! This should be written only this way and is the 5 seconds moment for which the whole film wins my bravo! :-) (Except the actors constellation, of course).

Wonderful addition to the book, 4 May 2002
9/10

THE IDEA: I am the one who read the famous book at the appropriate age and still believe it's one of the best books. It was some time since I last read it when I saw the movie in cinema, at the end of 2001. My first impression: not close enough to the book, but the feeling it leaves is the same, just a bit fainter - it does leave the noble longing to stand on the light side, whatever evil we must face, and first of all the evil that acts from within us. For those who treat it as childish fantasy, have too little imagination to see that it is all about real things we face everyday, and our time is also a difficult time of changes and many dangers to the world, in which we live. It is true however that it is much more evident in the book. But it is hardly wise to expect a movie based on a masterpiece to be one too. And the only courage of the director who dared to put it into a film is to admire.

THE PLOT: Lately, I read the book again and to my surprise I found that the film is much closer to the book, than I first thought. As to the omitted things, they are many, but some of them are impossible to put into a movie, and also, the film is long enough like this. Nothing of most important things is omitted and there are good inventions to put an image to some of important things which cannot be rendered the same way as in the book. There ARE few commercialized moments like Gimly being slightly a clown and Pippin and Merry - two fools, Tolkien is gentler to those youngsters. But we have to not forget that the whole affair IS commercial, whether we want it or not, making movies cost money which have to be repaid and repaid double for someone to put money at all in the thing.

CHARACTERS: Reading the book again after seeing the film has done magic - it put faces to the characters and almost all of them fit so well! The best is Gandalf and the worst - Galadriel, the actress had a wonderful voice, but her appearance can hardly put in awe everyone despite the wonderful light-from-within effects. Elves could be more elvish and hobbits also less alike to men - in our time of special effects! What's done good is height difference between heroes and Legolas shooting arrows. Elrond is disappointing too by appearance although he's not purely Elf, neither is his daughter Arwen - that is so far the most betraying point of the film to the book. And I was happy to read that Viggo Mortnsen replaced another actor as Aragorn - the other's face isn't half so noble.

--------------- After reading the book I've seen the movie over again and my opinion of it improved much.

VISUAL RANGE: The landscapes are wonderful and outlandish, I guess the place was very good chosen. The work of sculptors and builders and animators for the craft-made places of dwelling is also above all praise.

AUDIO RANGE: At first I scarcely noticed the music, but after seeing the movie over and over again, I cannot help but praise it apart - it is a light magic woven into the film and it renders so very well the particularity, the powers and the moods of Middle-Earth created by Tolkien. It is not the least part in creating the special atmosphere of a world that binds into it so many people who have read the famous work

Everyone keep talking about the book and I'm not the last, but we must not forget that this whole world with its history and races was created by Tolkien over long years, a world almost real, especially now, thanks to the courage of the film-makers.

RESUME: The film does not replace the book. It might be very good for children to see, and later in age they might read the book and discover its depth. And the film COMPLETES the book by video-audio ranges.

Do not even try to see it or to comment on it, if the child within you is dead and you laugh at romantic, courageous and noble hearts, even if a bit naïve - you do not understand the message, that's all. But if your heart beats more soundly on reading about great deeds and evil defeat even in fantastic worlds, then among the fantasy-films, this is the best so far, as John Ronald Ruel Tolkien's book is among the fantasy-books.

Namàrië!