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300: Rise of an Empire (2014)
Falcon Studios does "real" movies now?
I didn't know Falcon Studios wants to "get real" now - and brings all their actors along, too ;o)! Forget about history. Forget about silly details like wearing armour when you want to show off with all your great, hairless (!) bodies. Forget about the historical background, anyway, when you can fill the movie with great fights at sea including men wearing strange masks (were they Gangsta Rappers?).
Oh, yes, and forget about scriptwriting, too. Porno actors aren't used to talking, probably this is why the main actor (Demostecles?) sounds like an angry plumber all the time - he looks like that, too. His strategic analysis was fascinating: "The Persians are coming from the North and the South!" *That* surely means trouble, and those Persians must be really clever to accomplish that! But as Eva Green says: "The battle skills of the Athenians are creative!" Her character must feel very creative, too, sitting on her throne as if she was wearing a fake penis secretly.
*But* Eva Green not only is unusual and strikingly beautiful, she seemed to be the only professional actor in the movie, obviously having the time of her life skillfully overacting to be the b*tchiest b*tch of the Wild Sea. And her eyes are haunting. Her "King", though, was quite handsome as a human, but as a "God" he looked (and acted) like a transvestite high on a mix of steroids and crack. (Crack smoking probably ruined his voice, too.) Demostecles had this very hot guy around all the time, with long black hair and beard, but the character didn't do much than stand around like posing for erotic fotos and looking at his surroundings as if he was in deep pain - maybe he was the philosopher of the crowd. I actually think the only thing the "director" did was to tell his actors how to stand there to look sexy and how to look into the camera to look good. Well, as a porno director, I guess this is your daily business. He just didn't get it right with the "good" Queen, boy, was she ugly, and the actress performed like a salesgirl frustrated with her life. But that character had the strange line (near the beginning of the movie):"You've come a long way to stroke your cock watching your soldiers train" (or something like that). That was completely out of place and didn't make any sense, but I guess the Falcon executives wanted to have it in the movie. Actually none of the good guys seemed to have a sex life (they are probably to young for that?), since also the sex scene with Eva Green looked like a weird soft porno on fast forward. (I actually expected *her* to d*ggy Demistocles.) They never really got their clothes of, anyway. Probably made for teenagers, as was the whole movie, I guess.
Forget about it. The typical case of a sequel gone BAD.
Plan 9 from Outer Space?
To start with, I think "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is a highly underrated movie. But watching this movie I really couldn't help thinking of watching the worst movie of all time.
First of all, the direction. Peter Jackson's cheap and uninspired made-for-TV style hasn't improved at all since the first part of LOTR. Nor has his poor script writing. Time and time again the actors have to dramatically mumble silly one-liners like "The war is coming!" and stare into the camera as if they were in pain. They probably were, since all the actors generally seemed to be decent. The script also is just a loosely connected series of fights and battles time and time again containing pseudo-dramatic situations of the kind "all is lost", but since it's all so overdone, you know it will be all right and of course the story has to go on, too.
Particularly the queeny elves with their perfect hairstyles annoyed me, their king is more of a queen, anyway. At least that leader of the dwarfes, the guy with the black long hair and the beard, was super hot.
It all ended with lenghty conversations with a dragon high on coke, I hoped he would kill them all, especially since the Hobbit looks like a German trash comedian (Bully Herbig) whom I detest. The dragon flew away in the end, my buddy, who knows the book, said this actually more or less is the end of the book, the next part probably will be filled with more battles and with more silly dialogue.
It's actually very sad that a great work of literature is reduced to such silly and trashy film making and script writing. If they had just made a fantasy movie based on their own script where you know it will be a superficial action fantasy movie with perfect hairstyles flowing around that would have all been well and good. But now Mr. Tolkien will have a very uneasy rest, shame on Peter Jackson! Ed Wood would have done a better job with all the money Peter Jackson had available!
The Perfect Son (2000)
Depressing, revolting and superficial
I would like to sue the German DVD company that sold me this movie as some kind of men's drama about father-son and brother-to-brother relationships. In fact it's only a movie telling me how nasty homosexual men are. Nothing much is happening in the movie, the jerk brother is slowly dying of AIDS, miraculously looking quite healthy in the process, the good brother stays with him, but they don't do much serious talking. We get to know nothing about their family story, their relationship, their relationship with their father, only in some small hints here and there.
The heterosexual brother is a good, if not to say perfect man. He's ruggedly masculine but sensitive, very good looking and thoughtful, he pulls his life together now that he's out of rehab, gets a job and plans to start a family with the absolutely nice girl he has always loved. He's also the only male in the whole movie who looks good and actually dresses attractively (fashion in the 1990s must have been hilarious). The homosexual brother is an ugly, bitchy, whiny queen who is proud of being a sex addict ("I've slept with over hundred men!"/"I'm not a relationship kind of guy.") and who, although he's HIV positive, regularly has prostitutes coming round and visits seedy sex clubs. He obviously played the perfect son for his father, who's dead now, and never came round to fully accept his sexuality, never told his parents about it, and therefore indulges in this self-defeating, self-hating behaviour. Once he's honest, I think, and shouts "I hated myself so much!", but as usual in this movie it isn't explored further.
The thing is, every gay man in the movie is like that. It's revolting. They look and act all the same - weird, queeny -, talk trash ("I'm the fairy godmother!") and cruise around. The gay sex club the bad brother visits looks like a vampire's den where young men looking and staring at the good brother as if they would like to drink his blood just do nothing although the bad brother nearly had a heart attack or something.
The bad brother does nothing but sit at home and whine around ("Do I still look OK?"), he never reflects on his life, his mistakes, his relationships etc. The good brother is like a saint and puts up with him, writes poetry and politely ignores how the jerk friends of the bad brother try to cruise him.
In the end, the good brother just gets rid of the bad brother with an overdose of heroine and cleans the sheets. Now he can get on with his good, decent heterosexual life, the bad and nasty homo brother is dead and nobody is going to miss him.
Do *not* watch this movie! It's a relict from a seemingly horrible, homophobic time, the 1990s. And/or it's the director getting even with a brother he hated, I strongly suspect that. But do I as a viewer need to get abused by the wounded ego of a producer/director? I think not.
charming movie, annoying gay stereotypes
Basically this is a really charming fantasy tale, well acted and directed and with a handsome cast. What annoyed me were Robert De Niro's scenes. Actually a friend recommended this movie to me because there is a gay pirate in it, so I was really curious about this character, and I wonder, why does a family audience - which is I guess what this movie is intended for - need to get the same tired old gay stereotypes hammered into their brains? Of course De Niro's scenes were funny, and it was funny to see De Niro acting such a part, but still I think the writers wasted such splendid opportunity to create something off-beat and intelligent, because *of course* the gay pirate captain has to be queeny and likes to cross-dress. The writers should just have left it at the nice hints that something is going on between the captain and the Skinny Pirate. But what was the allusion at the end that something is going on between the captain and snotty Humphrey about? This was really bizarre. The writers obviously couldn't handle this topic.
I'm Not There. (2007)
Magnificent Legacy - Go and See It!
I must admit that I just wanted to watch the movie because of Heath Ledger. Maybe his tragedy makes this movie more well known - at least I hope so, because it is a masterpiece! Six (?) struggling artists are portrayed in interwoven episodes, which makes the first minutes of the movie utterly confusing. They are tied together by the fact that they are all inspired by Bob Dylan's life, and by the movie's wonderful conclusion, which I'm not going to spoil for you. Photography and direction are wonderful, the powerful images in sublime colors are so much what contemporary movies with 'stylish' subdued photography lack. At one point I was beginning to think that this movie could just go on forever, again and again switching from one character to another and showing small but meaningful incidents in their life. Acting is wonderful overall, and I especially liked the actor playing James Baldwin - yes, it was a silent extra part that isn't even credited here, but the actor still was performing - marvelous. The character of Michelle Williams seems to be a mix-up of Nico and Edie Sedgewick, which was great, since the song "I'll Keep It With Mine", which Bob Dylan wrote for Nico, could be heard in the movie, too.
The episode starring Richard Gere is the most fantastic and also features surreal masquerade, but I liked the episode starring Heath Ledger best, because the real man and artist began so much to shine through in his performance and it all had a somewhat foreboding and farewell-saying character. Anyway, it's so fitting that this off-beat piece of great art is one of Mr. Ledger's last movies, even if it's also very sad, of course ...
The Time Machine (2002)
tawdry patriotism and a bad script - what more to ask for?
Stay far away from this movie. Except of some basic ideas it has nothing to do with the classic novel by H. G. Wells. Acting is so-so, although to be fair the actors don't have much of a chance because of the silly script. Well's critical novel is made into a cheap quasi Sci-Fi movie that is also stupidly patriotic. Of course the big good American guy can save those helpless little bush people of the bad bad guys and restore peace and order and all that on his own, of course. Yeah right. Jeremy Iron's appearance marks the most complex dialogue sequence of the movie (he is a bad bad guy that tells the good guy why everything happened that way) and his performance is probably the best of the movie next to the Hologram guy, whose second appearance is allowedly a clever plot twist. The only good direction takes place in the last scene of the movie when the future and the past are cleverly faded into each other. But don't waste your time or money on this movie.
The Prestige (2006)
A masterpiece - and Morgan Shepard is in it, too!
This movie was a big surprise for me. I expected some kind of mystery thriller, but this movie was for more sophisticated as I thought it would be.
First of all is the complex way it is narrated, with a narrator at the beginning and the end, but mostly a visual presentation of a diary that also takes into account another diary read by the owner of the first diary - and the owner of the second diary reads the first diary in jail! That's not the usual sweet and simple Hollywood brain candy, and it's obvious at this point that the movie must be based on a clever novel. That's probably also were the script's meditations on the nature of show magic come from. The ending will be a big, big revelation, but all the loose strands come together in a very ironic climax.
Photography is good, if somewhat gloomy, fitting the plot, of course. But it's a wonderful break from the artificial and computer game like looking photography often found in Hollywood movies today.
Acting is great overall, that's all there is to say. David Bowie is wonderful as the somewhat sinister, faustian inventor Tesla. And, of course, I was so surprised when I saw Morgan Shepard in his small but wonderful part! He's a magnificent and distinguished actor who mostly gets small parts, which is quite a shame. He was also in Ridley Scott's Duellists or the Seaquest TV serial.
Anyway, the worst part of the movie is the score: while this bland and repetitive piece of music works OK in the movie (you don't hear much of it), it doesn't survive the light of day on a CD. That's no big surprise, though, when a score is "produced" by Hans Zimmer, that overrated wannabe score composer.
Some irony would have helped
Well, another German comedy ... This time, it's even a Bavarian comedy, obviously a high budget production (the photography is surprisingly good) ... But it falls in the same trap of the mindset some Bavarians really seem to like: Speaking strong Bavarian accent is so great and so big fun, especially if it is combined with simple-mindedness and and ruthless manners. Therefore we have in this movie silly sex jokes ("Can I sleep with you?" asks the little boy his female teacher), lurid depictions of butchered pigs and killed rabbits and stupid dialogues like the father's use of the phrase "Get lost" as a loving greeting for his son, or the little boy's naive question "Können Sie Leviten lesen?" (sorry, this one can't be translated). Of course, life in small Bavarian villages is here shown to be oh so great and oh so happy ... Yeah, right, because it is so wonderfully simple-minded ... If the script would have treated this kind of life with irony, this could have been a great movie, but being what it is it is just yet another simple-minded German comedy. Besides, the nude scene of the leading Austrian actor was hilariously bad. But still, some jokes are nice and there is a funny cameo by Konstantin Wecker, therefore the three points.
Hable con ella (2002)
Great, original, thought-provoking
Yet another great movie by Pedro Almodovar, that's all I've got to say. It's interesting to see here how he wants to open up traditional gender roles without making his male characters sissies or drag queens (or his female characters butch cliché lesbians). There is some effort to erase gay stereotypes, too, interestingly without using a gay character. The dance scenes are wonderful and give the movie an air of vibrant, sophisticated artistry. Of course, what Benigno does seems wrong, but its interesting that the movie doesn't judge him and seriously considers his arguments, and in the end it is he who can awaken the girl.
Acting is great overall, I especially liked Geraldine Chaplin because she is such an interesting person and actress. She actually looks Spanish, too! The silent movie made some people gasp in the audience, and I was baffled by it, too. But, it isn't obscene or pornographic, so if American audiences are shocked by it (which I guess they are), I think that's rather due to their ambiguous and troubled relationship with sexual things.
Witchfinder General (1968)
Unusual and original
I remember seeing this movie some years ago and being very disappointed. I expected to see a proper British horror movie starring Vincent Price, but this movie is something completely different, and now I liked it very much.
"Witchfinder General" largely works like a western, with the Good Guy riding after the Bad Guy to get his revenge and protect/rescue his love interest. The movie is also interested in portraying the cynic and disgusting practices of the witchcraft "trials" back then. The ending will surprise, baffle, or at least disappoint most viewers, I guess. But that's what original movies often do. Here we suddenly have a proper British horror movie ending, with an air of shock and tragedy, and the screaming girl put in a freeze frame - although the western movie scheme is followed to the point of rescue and revenge. But the evil and sinister doings of Matthew Hopinks have created a vicious circle of violence the protagonists can't escape. In this respect "Witchfinder General" is a surprisingly modern and reflective movie.
It seems the director had problems directing his actors, but Vincent Price is great as usual, giving his character an even more sinister and diabolical air by his magnificent underplay. There are people who say that this is Price's best performance, and that he wasn't a good actor. Both assumptions are untrue. This is just yet another great performance by Price. Most other actors do great jobs, too, and I really wonder why Hilary Dwyer wasn't able to get a career going, she seems to have been be such a talented actress. Photography is lush and makes the best of the magnificent British landscapes and landmarks seen in the movie, and Ferris' score is wonderful in its warm romanticism and folk-like simplicity.