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*Despite what my alias might suggest, I am not religious.
An intelligent movie with wisdom on romance
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a rare movie with an intelligent script that studies the pain of romantic relationships and breakups. It's quite philosophical and requires thinking. The editing and storytelling styles are unusual which could be challenging to some viewers.
In order to understand some of the philosophical ideas behind the script, one needs to be familiar with existentialist philosophy and the ideas of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who pioneered existentialist philosophy. Nietzsche believed that pain is essential to human experience. People should not numb their pain. Instead people should use their pain to cultivate their character. He likened the pain to the roots of a plant; the deeper they go, stronger the plant will be. In short, pain builds character.
The other concept of Nietszche that stood out to me in the screenplay is the eternal recurrence of events. Nietzsche suggested that events in the universe could be repeating themselves in endless cycle which he called "eternal recurrence". Charlie Kaufman probably named the title of the screenplay after this concept. We all know that he knows about Nietzsche as he is quoted a couple of times in the movie (the lines from "Beyond Good and Evil).
The other existentialist concept is the world is what you make of it. It is how you see it and it matters more how you see it than it being an independent reality. If someone erases you from their memory, that doesn't take anything away from the goodness of memories themselves. If they mean so much to you and still a part of you then that's all it matters. Well enough with the philosophy...
This is the story of romantic couple, Clementine (Kate Winslet) and Joel (Jim Carrey), who go through a breakup. Joel finds out that Clementine had a procedure done to erase all memories of him and their relationship. He decides to go through the same procedure and remove her from his memory. However, during the procedure he comes to a realization. This realization is the wisdom of the movie. It offers a great message inspired by the aforementioned philosophical ideas.
I think Eternal Sunshine is a great movie and a rare cinematic art. If you love literature, philosophy and intelligent film-making, the chances are you will like Eternal Sunshine.
The Invasion (2007)
Delivers some new ideas but still falls short
As you probably know, this is the 3rd (or 4th if you count the TV film) remake of the original movie. I had high expectations but then again, when was I ever pleased with a remake? Actually the 78 version of the same movie is quite good but probably the definitive version of the story. **************The following Review contains MILD SPOILERS************* The Invasion changed some essential, basic elements of the original movie and took the plot to a different direction. For instance, aliens are not copying bodies anymore. Instead, aliens are just virus that take over the body during sleep. This allows the possibility of treating the victims. In the original, once the body is duplicated, the original body is disposed of and gone for good. Once the alien has taken over, there is no turning back. The invasion, on the other hand, allows treatment and this idea brings something fresh to the plot. I kind of like this new perspective. However, I didn't like the way aliens were contaminating the coffee and offering them to people to pass the virus over to them. Those scenes didn't work for me. I thought it was silly, not mention disgusting in some scenes.
I also didn't like the use of CGI to display the victim when taken over by the virus. I think a good makeup would do the job perfectly. But instead, they used CGI to give the effect that virus has taken control of the body showing person's face in a cocoon. Those scenes didn't work for me.
I think Nicole Kidman was the best thing in the movie. Her acting was great as usual. But I didn't like the way the script was written for her kid that he had to say "I love you mom" like 5 times in the first 15 minutes. It seemed as if they couldn't think of any other conversation between them.
Some scenes were nicely done but there is one particular scene that was silly. One of the kids is attacked by a dog; it happens all so fast, in a split second you see a ferocious dog (obviously shot separately), and then kid holds the dog's jaws together, that was a poorly executed and poorly edited scene that ruined the continuity of the moment. To make matters worse, when they take the boy home with blood on his face, they find out that he has not even been bitten, that it is not his blood. So whose blood was it? That was a very silly scene.
One other positive thing I can say that this movie has more light than 78 version. You could see better.
If you really want to see this story in the way it functions as a dark science fiction movie, I recommend The Invasion of The Body Snatchers 78 version.
A Horror Classic
Carrie is a bona fide horror classic. In my opinion, it is one of the best Stephen King's adaptations ever made (if you are a Stephen King fan like myself, you know how hard it is to adapt his books to big screen). Brian De Palma did a terrific job of bringing Carrie to life.
This is a story about a very vulnerable girl with a super power: she can move objects with her mind, known as telekinesis. Her mother kept her sheltered. Piper Laurie portrayed Carrie's mother really well, a religious fanatic who has lost touch with reality. As a result, Carrie is disconnected from society and not living a very normal life. She is constantly bullied at school by other girls.
The score is one of the most important elements of a movie but this is especially true in case of horror movies. Carrie's score is just amazing. You can get chills just by listening to the soundtrack. I especially love the way how the score sets the atmosphere of the scene. I have seen many horror movies but Carrie is special in the way how the score sets the tone so perfectly well. SLIGHT Spoiler ALERT******One of my favorite scenes is right before Carrie is crowned home coming queen; there is a dreamy music playing intervened by ominous music and it switches back and forth creating drama and suspense at the same time.
I think Carrie deserves a minimum rating of 8. They don't make horror movies like Carrie anymore.
A Christopher Nolan Classic - one of the best movies of 2010
Let me start by saying that Inception is not a movie for all audience. If you are familiar with director Christopher Nolan's style and vision, you know what I am talking about. And if you don't know what I am talking about, you should probably stay away from Inception.
Christopher Nolan's movies are quite complex, multi-layered, story- within-story type of movies (remember Memento?). You will probably have to watch it a few times to put it altogether and even then you may not be able to solve everything as some things are still left to viewer's interpretation. If you are looking for a movie which will make total sense, stay away.
You must believe the logic of the movie: there is a device that enables a person to enter the mind of another person while he is dreaming. The purpose of this is basically to intercept the creation process of the mind that occurs during dream state and steal ideas from subconscious. When the mind is in a dream state, it continues to create and at the same time observes what it creates. These two processes happen concurrently, we don't even notice. The movie also introduces the idea of planting an idea in someone's mind, a process called inception.
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) accepts the mission to do an inception in the hopes that he can return to USA to his children, puts together a team of experts and plans the heist. The rest is a lot of action sequences that go deeper and deeper into subconscious.
I think Inception is a very well-crafted movie, action scenes are amazing, especially the upside-down fight scene in the hall. I also like the editing, sound editing and sound mixing. Even though the concept is not totally original, the screenplay and its execution is quite stylish and unique. Most people criticize this movie being too similar to The Matrix but I disagree. Entering another realm which looks like reality and being bound by the rules of that realm are probably the only common trait both movies share. Inception sets itself apart from the Matrix with its unique style, and totally different plot.
The King's Speech (2010)
The Best Movie of 2010 - Contender for Best Picture Oscar
The King's Speech is, in my opinion, the best movie of 2010. It is the story of King VI's struggle with his speech impediment and his therapy sessions with Lionel Logue, a speech therapist with unorthodox methods.
Colin Firth is amazing as King VI. I have never been a huge fan but in this movie he just raises the bar to whole another level. Characters with impediments are quite common (Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man, Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot) but Colin Firth's portrayal is truly unique and stands on its own. Geoffrey Rush is also magnificent and his talent shines with all its glory. He makes it look so effortless and yet the expressions he portrays in the movie are so subtle. I think both Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush deserve an Oscar. They have great chemistry.
Story is very intriguing as it is based upon the true story of King VI who was suffering from speech impediment which prevented him from pursuing the crown or even wanting to pursue the crown. What makes this story different from the other movies with challenged characters is that at the end ****SPOILER***** the character makes a break through and turns into a different person.
Screenplay is very well written and should be nominated for Best Original Screenplay as it is not based on previously released material. Costumes, art direction and the score are equally impressive and well-done. I also liked the cinematography and wide-lens shots. There is one particular scene where King and Lionel are talking and Lionel stops to fall behind and the camera is focused on King where the image of Lionel in the background becomes blurry creating a sense of isolation.
If you like drama movies with historical context, great acting which will inspire you, you will surely enjoy King's Speech.
One of the Few Good Remakes- A Sci-Fi Classic
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the remake of 1956 movie by the same title and considered to be, by many fans, to be the definitive and the best version of the story.
The movie begins with images of plasmas from an alien world floating out into space towards planet earth. Then the rain comes and we see an odd organism growing on plants' leafs. Before too long, people start to act strange, they group and exchange plants, they act indifferent to their surroundings, they are emotionless, almost robotic. A group of characters who are not affected soon find themselves a minority in a world that is changing rapidly.
One of the greatest appeals of this movie is its socio-political resonance. It can be interpreted as a state of minority versus majority, us versus them and individualism versus social conformity. It shows how we try to turn the others into a version of ourselves because we can't tolerate the otherness. And maybe this is a universal common trait of all beings whether alien or human. Even though the commentary is about humans, it is actually alien organism that takes over human bodies (snatches human bodies - hence body snatchers).
The movie also questions how much we should sacrifice to achieve harmony in society. Should we preserve our individuality at risk of conflicting with other members of the society, or should we just join the majority, think like others, walk like others and talk like others do? Like all great science fiction movies, the story is social commentary on the state of the world. This is probably the reason why there are so many versions of this movie. And most recently in 2007, another version was made called "The Invasion" starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
A Sequel that Measures Up to the First Movie
Imagine a sequel that is almost as good as the first original movie, or even better. That's not very easy to do. Most sequels are terrible, made only to bank on the original movie's ideas without introducing anything new.
T2 Judgment Day is not an original movie because of its plot, or its idea but it is actually groundbreaking in terms of special effects. I do not like movies that rely on special effects alone for its appeal. There must be more to a movie than just special effects. And T2 delivers it.
T2 is a special movie: This is, I believe, the first time CGI was used. Prior to T2, you could easily make out the image that was pasted to the film. The graphic image would stick out like a sore thumb, its contour easily traceable by naked eye.
With T2, CGI (computer generated imagery) technique has evolved to such a level that creating any image and adding it to the film became possible. And this is done so well, there is really no way of telling it apart from the original film like you could do in movies prior to T2. Contour lines are no longer visible, they are much smoother and blend with the original film.
As for the story, it is almost the repeat to the original movie and there are many parallel scenes. Again two characters fighting each other for the fate of Sarah O'Connor, wait, this time for John O'Connor (Sarah's son); that is one main difference. So we have a new character added to the story. We have a more sophisticated terminator, T1000, the indestructible liquid man - thanks to CGI effects. We get to see the character who is responsible for building the micro-processor that gave birth to SKYNET, the evil mainframe that declared war on humanity.
One thing I would like to emphasize is the performance of Robert Patrick, the actor who portrays T1000. His acting is simply fascinating and, in my opinion, is the reason why this movie works so well. A lot of the people are impresses by the CGI, rightfully so, and forget to give credit where its due. Robert Patrick brought T1000 alive. Without his impeccable performance, the movie would fall flat, even CGI couldn't save the movie. His brute looks, his robotic but finely-tuned moves, his cunning ways were just what this movie needed.
After T2, there were two more franchise movies, T3-The Rise of the Machines and Terminator Salvation.
The Terminator (1984)
One of the Greatest Modern Science Fiction Movies
It's not easy to write a review about a movie I have seen 27 years ago. This movie is quarter-century old. It's a great combination of action, science-fiction, mystery and romance. Fundementally, it is based upon a futuristic science fiction idea.
The present time story begins with two guys appearing out of of thin air, searching for Sarah O'Connor. One of them is a tough guy, full of muscles, who seems to kill anybody on his way without any hesitation or remorse. The other is a mild character with somewhat more delicate features.
As the story unfolds, you realize each character has his own agenda about Sarah O'Connor. One of them is protective of Sarah while the other is trying to terminate her - hence The Terminator.
Why The Terminator is trying to kill Sarah is the mystery of the movie. It ties to the introduction in the beginning of the movie when we are given a glimpse of the future when mankind are battling with the machines for their survival.
Overall, Terminator is a great motion picture, a combination of familiar sci-fi elements put together in an original script packed with entertaining action sequences. Arnold is perfect for this role. Its almost as if the role has been written for him. Its success has been confirmed by later sequels (T2 Judgment Day, Terminator 3 The Rise of the Machines, and Terminator Salvation).
The Thin Red Line (1998)
One of the Best War Movies ever - true masterpiece of cinema
The Thin Red Line is a true masterpiece of cinema. When I watched it in theaters in 1998 I absolutely fell in love with it. I recently purchased the Criterion Blu ray release and realized that after 13 years, I am still very much in love with this movie.
The Thin Red Line is not a typical war movie. It is not driven by action alone. It explores the duality of nature and draws parallelism between the struggle within nature and the struggle within each man. It achieves this through poetic cinematography, philosophical narration voice-overs, great battle scenes and great casting from the best actors in the business.
The duality of nature is presented from the opening shot. A crocodile leaves the shore and moves into the water. The setting is a beautiful island. There is something about watching the most horrible event in all humanity, war, within a setting so beautiful, it touches your soul. Where the nature lives in harmony, soldiers are fighting a war. This duality continues all throughout the movie and never ceases to amaze. One of my favorite scenes is when the soldiers are walking through the grass, an aboriginal Indian is walking the other way, and when they are in the same frame, soldiers look like the alien element and the Indian seems to perfectly mesh with nature.
The other unique aspect of The Thin Red Line is that it gives us the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters. Often, people put up a facade and keep their feelings inside. This is another duality the film presents through voice-overs. Soldiers do not always think about winning. They are human beings and they often dream about being home, going home, and they fear. In that regard, the movie is very realistic.
The Thin Red Line also explores the morality in times of war, and the difficulty of making the right decision under extra-ordinary circumstances where the given objective (a military order) could compromise the sacredness of human life. This struggle is presented through the conflicts of colonel Tall (Nick Nolte) with captain James Staros (Elias Koteas) and sergeant Welsh (Sean Penn) with private Witt (Jim Caviezel).
One indisputable fact is cinematography of the film is absolutely fantastic. The trees, the water, the hills, birds, all the colors of the island come alive (even more so on the Blu ray). The casting is one of the greatest ones you will witness. Two-times academy winner Sean Penn is here, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, James Caviezel, John Travolta and George Clooney make brief appearances as well (also academy award winner Adrien Brody has brief appearance and John C. Reiley and Jared Leto)
Heat doesn't provide much heat
I saw Heat when it first came out to theaters back in 1995. I also recently saw The Town. Many people claim Heat is the better picture and that Town took its story and basic plot elements from Heat.
Even though there are similarities, I think The Town doesn't deserve most of the criticism and Heat doesn't deserve most of the acclaim. In my opinion Heat is way too long. The director (Michael Mann whom I like) wanted to show too much about the personal love affairs of the characters. I know this was done for the purpose of character development but it was too shallow and didn't develop anything. It was too shallow because the problem of each love affair was the same: character's job (either police or criminal). And the same thing was repeated for all 3 characters, Vincent (Al Pacino), Neil (Robert De Niro) and Chris (Val Kilmer). They all have problems in their relationships. I think the movie is trying to do too much; it should have either focused on the relationships of characters and made it a drama or should have focused on the crime aspect and made it action/suspense. For example, in the beginning we see Al Pacino making love to his wife, taking a shower, all long scenes, and then there are scenes where his step daughter Lauren (Natalie Portman) is arguing with his mother because she is unhappy about her father. I thought these scenes really didn't add anything to the story.
I also think the some scenes in Heat is too much Hollywoodized - it's funny because most people actually make this accusation about the Town. My examples are ******SPOILER ALERT*****: Robert De Niro is supposedly a very disciplined character (so disciplined that he can leave everything behind if he senses the heat around the corner). But then we see him slapping one of his team members in a diner where everyone is watching. Tom Sizemore gives a dirty look to one of the patrons. I thought this scene was totally Hollywoodish to show they are really tough guys. Why would a disciplined criminal would beat up his team member in a diner? That would draw attention and is risky. Later we see them outside the diner trying to finish up the job. They are about to take care of the guy but they lose him, right in front of their eyes. All these scenes made me dislike The Heat. Also at the very end, it is the wrong guy who gets shot. It is the wrong guy because he had major advantage over the other guy who should have been the one to get shot. That scene was poorly designed*******.
There are good things about heat. It is a fine crime/drama. Robert De Niro is great although I find his romantic affair to be unrealistic and lack of feeling. I think Heat probably deserves a rating of 7. I also predict that within a year or so, The Town will surpass Heat's rating.