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Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)
Wonderful imagery. style and atmosphere in the extreme. great acting. Beauty in many forms: you get a lot for your eyes. Also, depending on your taste in music, there is also a lot for your ears.
For your brain, sadly, not as much.
"Only lovers left alive" is filled with a lot of name-dropping, by word, picture and sometimes sound. Whether you find that fascinating or pretentious depends on your taste.
But what this movie really lacks is a story. The characters are throughout and the dialogue may be scarce, but has some dry humour and snappy lines. That doesn't save it from going nowhere. Glaring plot holes may make you cringe at times. And the pacing looks like Jarmush tried to surpass Kaurismäki in terms of slowness. If so, he won.
So perhaps this movie is best tasted in the state its protagonists enter after relishing an excellent glass of blood: dazed, blissful, and somewhat drugged.
The Counselor (2013)
Good everything. Bad script.
Actors and production values are of really good quality, you get to see memorable scenes and some good acting as well - but all in all, this movie is less than bland: it drains.
The script about a drug deal gone wrong, a greedy lawyers ruining his otherwise perfect life - that could've been an excellent thriller. But this movie doesn't thrill. It has extreme graphic violence, intense and intimate sex scenes, car chases, well planned and executed murder, luxurious settings - but it doesn't thrill.
It has good and highly paid actors, an excellent director - but the characters don't come to life, they feel like cardboard cutouts.
There is one big fault this movie has, and that's its script. Wordy monologues (and it has half a dozen) don't make a movie bad or boring, if they fit in well. The monologues here don't. Gangsters with philosophical musings can be funny, entertaining, tragic or sometimes even believable - here, it doesn't fit. (The list goes on, I better stop.)
Now, Cormac McCarthy is know to be an excellent author, at age of 80 still writing stories that win awards. Some of his books have been made into great films - after professional scriptwriters adapted them into movie scripts. This is the first script he wrote himself, and maybe he tries to learn scriptwriting now; but I'm afraid it will be a long way. Todays funny-zombie-movies or run-of-the-mill action flicks have better dramaturgy and dialogue than the script of The Counselor. There are different rules for what makes a book work, and what makes a movie work.
Avoid this movie, and watch "No Country for Old Men" instead. It's based on a Cormac McCarthy novel, the Coen brothers adapted it, and it turned out excellent. "The Counselor" - did not.
PS: The Counselor in this movie receives counsel from about everybody, from inmates to Mexican barkeepers, but himself never gives counsel. Was that intended as a joke? Didn't make me laugh.
Der Kameramörder (2010)
wasted opportunity, wasted time
First off: good production values and acting.
But the script? Everything that made the book memorable, its main plot points, its mental core - is completely missing from the movie. Instead, you get some run-of-the-mill thriller fare. Which is forgettable, a waste of time.
The main point of the book was the interaction of media with murder, that media need and want murder for sensations - and some murderers want media to show their "works", providing them with the incentive to kill in the first place. And some lines of thought starting from that.
Did you find any of this in this movie? Guessed so.
So, 1 for the script, 7 for production and acting, results in 4 overall.
Avoid it, read the book instead.
Det grovmaskiga nätet (2000)
a long insult to the Swedish police
It can be interesting at times to have a negative personality as your protagonist. Ill-tempered, inconsiderate, incompetent, boring: Van Veeteren is the police investigator assigned to a case of murder.
What does he do? No blood tests, no motives asked (nor found), no collecting facts, no time-line building, not checking for people who might have had a motive or hated the victims, no responsibility taken for his actions - Van Veeteren rather kicks another officer between the legs as a "reprimand" than admitting his own fault.
What does he do instead? He accuses and insults without proof, he forces the grieving spouse again and again to recount sexual details (without any use for the investigation, so probably for his own enjoyment), he wanders around with his sick dog, strains an ankle doing sports, passes judgment without anything to go on, gets other people in deep trouble and eventually killed, and doesn't seem to feel much remorse.
Now anti-heroes can be interesting by themselves. Sadly, this one is not - but maybe there is some social tension coming out of it? Nope. His colleagues are painted to be very much like Van Veeteren. Not professional, just incurious prejudiced dullards.
Is the Swedish police really like that, or is this movie intended to be a long, slow, boring insult to them? In either case, I cannot see any reason people would want to watch this. Don't waste your time on it like I did.
I like Swedish landscape, Swedish faces and good actors, and together with some production values these are the redeeming features earning this flick some points. But the story? Terrible.
The Expendables (2010)
A boys movie, with tough men being friends in a tough way, with lots of explosions, fighting, shooting, knife-throwing and more explosions. Yay! Plus seeing those great action heroes of the 80s and 90s again. I love the idea, and I got what I wanted - in fact, I ask for a second helping! Lots of names for additional cast are on my list... Kurt Russel, JCvD, Wesley Snipes, the Mayor are just the first that spring to mind.
Most of the potential was wasted.
Yes, it's about action, not much else - but there is still room for rough sketches of motivations, situations, what is where and why, some basic plot that gives tension to the whole. But if you get just a torrent of action scenes that are blurry quick cuts where it gets hard to determine who is doing what to whom and how, it's not more fun, it's less. And I do want *more*!
The ending scenes and the song over the ending ("the boys are back in town") imply there may be a sequel. I'm looking forward to that, but PLEASE let somebody else do scriptwriting and directing! Stallone as producer and himself, err, Barney Ross - yes please. But to realize the potential, it needs some quality directing and script, which *this* instance did not have.
Even a "mindless action flick" can be well directed. Doesn't John Woo live in the USA now?
style lacking story
The styling is good, the camera reflects the games atmosphere. Many peculiarities of Agent 47 are there, both to be recognized and in their place. In relation to the female protagonist, 47 is still the one we know (phew!). The casting is adequate, and Olyphant is a good Agent 47. Shooting, fighting, blood, explosions, sinister and scheming baddies with armed henchmen - it's all there.
Yet, something is lacking.
The plot is not complex enough to make the twists interesting, and not simple enough to provide the (mindless but fun) entertainment a action/war B-movie does. The action scenes are good, but at the "quite-good-but-not-perfect" level french movies unfortunately often stop at. The last unarmed fight was edited with those extremely short cuts, which usually indicate the actual action was too bad to be shown unedited. Bit of an anticlimax, that.
It is a hard task to make a movie when the mental picture of the game is the measure against which viewers compare the movie. In this task, "Hit-man" succeeds - but fails in other departments.
I recommend this movie for fans of the Hit-man game series, and people who need to kill time ... with a coin and crossed akimbo pistols.
In short: great visuals, good sound, so-so direction, bad script and really bad dialogue. Best actor: Yoda.
In my childhood, Star Wars was great. Episode IV through VI, I loved it. And of course I had to see the other Episodes. What a disappointment. The original Episodes dared and were a bit like child's play, like fairy tales in space. This was their charms. On the prequels, there were too much expectations, and Lucas - despite his power and money - didn't dare to frustrate any of them. But if all you get is expected, it gets more or less boring.
OK, the political aspect is good - how a democracy gets destroyed and replaced by a de-facto dictatorship: by creating an external threat, and then claiming you need more power and reduce citizens rights in order to fight that threat. This has worked since Caesar made himself dictator and his name became a title to his successors, and may work in all galaxies, even those far, far away. But it isn't news. At least it shouldn't be if you are a grown-up citizen of a democracy. Thanks, Mr. Lucas, for teaching the children. Oh, and yes: Hate, jealousy and greed lead to the dark side. They always have. Thanks for telling us again.
That was basically the best of content you get; the rest of the script is the very expected but coarsely explained (and acted) transformation of a jedi adept to a sith lord, some blah blah, and lots of fighting.
About the fighting sequences: technically, they are top. But dramatically, they are boring. Dead boring. Lucas never mastered the art of suspension, and it really shows - the faster the swords go, the larger the battles and the faster the cuts are, the less the viewer gets to participate emotionally. And if you don't really care for any of the characters on screen, it's just eye candy and then its over.
I didn't expect differently, so that's OK. What really annoyed me is Lucas' puritan perspective. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to see Padme and Anakin having sex on screen, thank you very much! But the characters are just puppets, not people. Nobody really eats, drinks, sleeps, bleeds; even the dirt looks polished. The places don't look like people ever have to cook, go to the toilet, or sleep for longer than the next cut. And the "love" story looks like a pre-puberty child imitating love stories it has seen with barbie and ken. Suspension of belief is perfectly OK for SciFi, but its different from "unrealistic".
One more nag: the names are just hilarious. I read in an article somewhere, "Mace Windu sounds like something you spray on colicky babies". Exactly, and there are more cases of bad design. Grievous is not scary, just awkward. I could go on for many more lines. Anyways.
The best acting was Yodas (or Frank Oz'?), probably because he got the best role - Ewan McGregor, Ian McDiarmid, Samuel L. Jackson and Nathalie Portman aren't bad, but the script just didn't give them any chance to show it. At least McGregor managed to get his screen presence and some charm across.
Conclusion: If you are a true SW fan, enjoy it. If you want your movies to have suspension or sense, avoid it. I don't really regret having spent the time and money, but others might.
One of Our Own (1997)
Don't stay awake for this one
Conventional story, but it puts up some speed. A partial cover of "The Presidio (1988)", its a pretty obvious story filmed in a conventional way. The plot points come in rapid succession, it isn't exactly boring - but not original either. A non-thrilling "thriller". It's OK to waste some time before going to bed, but nothing to set your clock for.
Ironside gives a good display of his most annoyed, sleepdeprived and angry faces. If you're into collecting these, this film is for you...
I'm not surprised mine is the first comment, because you have to write at least ten lines, and there is not really much more to say about this movie. The cop buddies have to take a leave in order to continue their investigations, one is grouchy and the other loquacious, and so on. Some parts are surprisingly good, Ironside and Graham know their job, but some of the other cast are, um, not at their best.
Splinter Cell (2002)
worst movement controls I've ever experienced
I can't write much about this game, except that it has the worst movement controls I have ever experienced in any game. Ever. And I've got several hundred boxes on my shelves here.
I was excited about playing another sneaker, after the Thief series was lacking the third part for a long time, so I thought I give splinter cell a try. The training mission was good and interesting, and quickly brought me into the "I want to play this" mood. The movement controls/logic, however, were so extremely bad I didn't play the game further than the second map - it is the second game ever I threw away. Really.
If you plan to spend money on this game, make sure you can test play it a bit before, so you can decide for yourself whether you get along with the movement controls.
For the Cause (2000)
Some good idea and dialogue don't save the script from being too slow-paced for most moviegoers. That's no problem for me - but it lacks depth to make up for its length.
I appreciate the plot and I *really* appreciate something found almost only in B- and C-Movies - main characters getting killed. Permanently, no comeback. A remake with sufficient budget could result in a good mini-series, but I am afraid they wouldn't dare to have expensive actors only in parts of the movie - and then, it couldn't work.
So, in any case, interesting aspects, and potential that was not realized. If anybody tries a remake - really try to get it right, please, and put some more time in background and character development. You can save on the (cheap) atmospheric pictures. And: Don't count on your audience to know the Warhammer(tm) stories.