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Kikujirô no natsu (1999)
A nice, Japanese road movie
I thought this film was very nice and a total turn around from what I expected from those involved. Beat Takeshi was great as the male figure in the boy's life at this time. It was very nice to see how far they would go to make Maseo happy. I would compare this film to Central Station or any other road movie where the main characters are traveling to find something or someone. The pacing was not as slow as most Japanese films but the way it was shot makes it look like it was shot for the big screen. It will not play that well on a television screen. There is also influence from Godard here with the various chapters of the film. All in all, I enjoyed it.
Krótki film o milosci (1988)
A Surprisingly Moving, Powerful Film
I was not sure what to expect from this film as it is the only the second Polish film of Kieslowski's I have seen. Now it is one of my favorite foreign films and probably my second favorite Kieslowski film, under Red. I was so glued to the television while watching this because I was truly interested in the characters. I saw the 85 minute version and I can say it went very fast because I was completely wrapped up in the story. The passion that these two characters showed is something rarely seen in film. The fact that it was such a simple film with simple characters is quite important as well because it added to the feel of the film. I recommend anyone who can find this film see it.
Interesting look at the other side of the theatre.
Probably Kieslowski's oldest film available in the United States with subtitles, Personel is an interesting look at the people who do things behind the scenes for plays. The main character is outspoken after having just been hired to work with the costume making and is noticed by the higher ups when he suggests the workers start their own cabaret. There is a good contrast shown between the actors and those behind the scenes as far as attitudes toward each other. There are many closeups in the film and it is clear it was probably shot on lower quality 16mm with bad lighting. Nonetheless, it is an interesting view of a different aspect of the theatre as we are normally shown things only about the actors. Films such as Truffaut's The Last Metro and Osten's The Mozart Brothers are two examples of films about theatre actors.
The Beach (2000)
What movie was the trailer promoting?
Interesting, this movie is nothing like the trailer. I didn't dislike it but I didn't think it was all that good, either. It is under two hours, which is a nice change and it's rated R so it is not meant for a young audience. The film itself shows a beautiful beach and many strange people living on it. Unfortunately, the second half made me feel like I was watching a different movie. Many movies have that effect these days. It got really way out there. I may as well have watched Apocalypse Now. I think most of the hype on destroying the island is just to promote the movie as I have not seen any real proof anything was destroyed. I'm sure this movie will make lots of money its first few weeks then fall. Leo wasn't bad really and it wasn't two hours of him without his shirt like some feared.
Shocking, yet beautiful
The thing that led me to this movie was the fact that it has been released Unrated in the United States. I had to see what the big deal was. I was very pleased with what I saw. I think it is a very interesting film due to its explicit content. Nothing is in bad taste in this film. The lead character, Marie, was awesome and I think a very strong woman, which was a nice change. Her boyfriend is a jerk but this is common. It was how he acted toward her that made his character fascinating. If you are not afraid of subtitles or uptight about sexuality on screen, as many Americans are, go see this movie. It is not for the squeamish.
Music of the Heart (1999)
Feel good movie of the year...with a touch of quality.
There are many films made about teachers helping students but many of them become cliched. This film is different. It has a higher quality to it that I cannot explain. Perhaps it is great direction by Wes Craven (love the long take, Wes!). Meryl Streep is exceptional and so are the kids. Gloria Esteffan is great in her first role and it is great that she is not overused. Angela Basset is always good so there is not much to say about her because it is implied. I would suggest people see this film because it is so clean and it tells a great story. It is not only about Meryl Streep's teaching but also problems she has in her own life. The two hours went by fast for a change and the music is great for anyone who appreciates it.
Hideous Kinky (1998)
Makes one want to stay far away from Morocco.
I found this film to be nearly unwatchable. Thank goodness for the ability to put the dvd on 4x speed. The story did not interest me and though I am infatuated with Kate, nothing could have saved this film for me. I would not suggest people pass it up. It is important to support such small films. It could have been that I was not in the mood for such a drama. I doubt this. I was so sick of everyone in the film in the 45 minutes I gave it. I rarely turn a film off or hit fast forward but this required it. The dvd looks great, though.
A great look back at early 80s films
I thought this was a very nice film. It was nice to see three people acting well together (Cher, Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell). This type of story is very intersting to me. We see radiation treated so comically on The Simpsons but it is a very serious thing. Also, I thought it was great to have a film that had such simple locations and sets. No special fx were necessary and the result was a nice film with a good story. I would recommend Silkwood to anyone who likes these actors and anyone who is interested in true stories or films about organized labor.
Eve's Bayou (1997)
My favorite film of 1997
As I put Titanic in a category of its own, Eve's Bayou was undoubtedly my favorite film of its year. There was something about it that just hit me. I thought the acting was superb by everyone, especially Debbi Morgan. This film was robbed of Oscar nominations and should not be forgotten. The cinematography is beautiful and so is the directing by Kasi Lemmons. Check out the DVD for Lemmons' great commentary and short film that inspired this film.
Bian Lian (1996)
What a Sweet film!
It is so nice to see Chinese films. I have not yet been let down by one. They are so beautiful and always have a nice story. Though this one did not have my favorite actress, Gong Li, it was a great story that touches one's heart. As I watched this film I saw what I have seen in other Chinese films and that is a great use of color. The costumes were great as well. Though the little girl was great, she gave me that Ponette feeling in that I wanted to slap her a few times. In the end I was not as annoyed by her as I was Ponette (in the French film Ponette). The grandfather character was very good and very convincing. He gave off a great "I'm in pain" look. Though I got no sense of time in this film, it did not matter. It is a story that could happen at any time. So I would suggest this film to anyone who enjoys foreign language films because it is not one that you will forget. I give it 3.5 stars
Fight Club (1999)
Bring back the 90 minute movie
Normally my attention span is extremely long. Unfortunately, Fight Club has added to the recent shortage of it. After seeing that For Love of the Game could have had at least a half hour trimmed off of it, I realized so could Fight Club. This movie peaked about an hour and a half into it then for me it went downhill. I loved the first part so much and I did like the movie as a whole but it had that Falling Down effect on me where it just got too way out. Fincher is awesome and the darkness is great just like SE7EN and The Game. The last 45 minutes just didn't do it for me, though.
Who gives the greenlight to this stuff?
As a longtime fan of SNL, I will go see anything having to do with the show. I have enjoyed many of the skits that have been turned into films. Superstar may have been worse than Coneheads, though. I found myself sometimes laughing at it instead of with it. I love Molly Shannon and I think she should not rely on this character. She should just be herself like she was in Night at the Roxbury, which is much more watchable. This is a definite wait for video type of film. Maybe even wait until it is on the 2 for a dollar for a week shelf. If it is this easy to get a film made then perhaps I should consider writing many stupid scripts and become a superstar myself.
Black Circle Boys (1997)
What was this movie?
This looked interesting by the cover I saw. Being in the mood for a B-movie, I figured I'd get what I wanted out of this. Instead, I found it to be nearly unwatchable. Sure, the acting was fine but the storyline was not. I was bored and I thought it took too long to get where it was going. The occult was thrown in there but was not really elaborated on. Who was "the father?" They were always talking about the father, I never understood what cult they were trying to be. The acting, however, is quite good in my opinion, but it does not make up for lack of story. This film appears to be a small Canadian film as the Alliance logo was at the front of it. If you are looking for a cool Canadian film, try The Boys Club. The story is a bit more interesting.
Dance Me to My Song (1998)
Someone Please Distribute This Film in the US!
What an excellent film. I had the opportunity to see it at Roger Ebert's overlooked film festival in Champaign, Illinois on April 22, 1999. It at this time does not have a distributor in the United States. This is unfortunate because the film is so much better than much of the crap we make here in the US. Heather Rose's performance is heartwarming and I fortunately was able to see her as a guest on the panel after the film was shown. She helped write and direct this movie and is only able to speak through a computer voice machine. The film is about the character she plays and how she is dependent on someone to care for her constantly because she is unable to do anything for herself. She unfortunately is abused by her caretaker. This is something that happens in the US (the film takes place in Australia) too often and this is a reason why this film should be shown in as many theatres as possible to raise awareness of this problem. I'm fortunate to have seen it and not wanting to give much of it away I will only say that I think it is something many people would get a lot out of.