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23 reviews in total 
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3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Have yet to read one accurate review of this film.., 30 January 2015

Every review seen by this author has either brutally criticized the film for all the wrong reasons, completely missing more troubling mistakes, or falsely promoted the film as patriotic, pro-war or anti-Muslim, which is also wrong, completely missing Eastwood's point. It is as if the film is only seen through a political lens regardless of being critical or supportive.

The film is artfully produced and saturated with a sense of futility, empty heroism, dread and the soul sucking nature of war. Despite Eastwood's political conservatism his work and particularly stylistic choices have always been great. This author approached his latest film with trepidation but ultimately agreed with Eastwood's statement that it is an antiwar film- one that dramatizes how innocent deaths are just a fact of war, how many of the "insurgents" may be ordinary people trying to survive, assumed guilty at a critical moment, and killed, and how even the most venerated soldiers can come back in a state of spiritual crisis. The film shows nothing but horrible events carried out by all sides and a gravitational downward spiral inside the central character, who meets his fatal end.

The film's popularity with the right wing is reminiscent of the way skinheads showed up in large numbers to "Romper Stomper" a 1980's Australian film that was a scathing indictment of skinheads. Maybe fans are drawn to any dramatization of a certain character and scenario, even if the message is a critical one in order to re-enforce an identity or seek camaraderie (ie a pro-gun or anti-Muslim social phenomenon).

What is wrong with "American Sniper" is far more complex than lionizing pathological bigotry. Whatever Eastwood has done wrongly he has not done that. The screenplay itself is rather good. It is not pro-war. It does *not* elevate religious bigotry, it just depicts it plainly. It does not denigrate Iraqis in any way, it just shows the US military doing it. It shows that plainly and without bias. Anyone with a moral foundation will be repulsed to see it, regardless of how that callousness is perpetrated by the central characters. Part of Eastwood's point is there is no moral compass in war scenarios. You have to find your own way through the events in the movie just as someone might in reality. There are few indicators in reality (except bad ones), and Eastwood offers none to his viewers, yet Kyle's ultimate fate is the telling of the tale.

Eastwood's mistake, possibly inadvertent, was making Kyle seem like a reasonable person. Kyle's own autobiography may indicate he was not.

Eastwood depicts Kyle as an anti-hero, as opposed to a blustering or pathological islamophobe capable of killing at will. He depicts Kyle as someone beginning to wrestle with some form of remorse for his actions or what he had been a part of. This is actually more insidious or propagandistic than showing a plain, ugly truth but every reviewer misses this possibility (even Chris Hedges).

Eastwood may have underestimated Kyle's martyr-like stature to some people. Perhaps in order to make a more meaningful and relevant story, he cleaned up the central character and inadvertently white-washed Kyle, because who would care about the story of a patriotic psycho? Is it possible Eastwood did not know of Kyle's popularity, his subsequent popularity if the film did well, or did Kyle became popular as the film was being released, changing the social context of the film?

Whatever the case, Eastwood claims it's an anti-war film and it clearly is, but on the other hand Eastwood should make a statement about Kyle and why he erased whatever pathological ugliness existed in his biography while retaining his name. That is what he did wrong. On it's own, Eastwood's story is a good, realistic, relevant war fiction but regarding the real Kyle it is probably a dangerous, misleading white-wash. It might have the effect of lionizing the real, controversial Chris Kyle as a hero not based on his life but based on the film. His real biography probably does not support his heroism (or even anti-heroism).

There is the question of Kyle's real actions vs. macho bluster, but his writing has taken on an independent effect at this point. Eastwood needs to explain why he took such a possible license and diversion from Kyle's own biography. The popularity of the film should not translate to popularity for Kyle if it is wildly inaccurate.

Jane Eyre (2011)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Anxious, haunting world of Bronte, 12 April 2011

Jane Eyre illustrates what men don't get about women. The definitive screen adaptation? A most psychologically romantic movie to take a woman to. Stunningly filmed in northern England, dramatically immersed in the desolation of Bronte's settings. Steeped in haunting, subtle imagery punctuated by Bronte's arresting dialog. Her eloquence adeptly slices through both the chasm of years since she penned them, and modern male preconceptions of romance.

The director's diverse heritage lends him a wide range of film and literature to draw on. Perhaps he emphasized surprising similarities to Japanese legends.

28 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
Sacred mysteries of a lost, ancient culture..., 21 December 2004

Unlike most modern films, Color of Pomegranates does not abandon the subtle, pensive quality of silent film; it is actually a stunning evolution of silent film.

Here Parajanov documents an almost mythical culture lost long ago to history. I believe it is ancient Armenia. It is methodically presented as a slow series of visual artifacts. Each artifact is a complete scene composed foremost of an authentic visual setting, to which is added the hypnotic effect of some simple motion and ambient sounds, the source of which are often not even in view. Together these hypnotic scenes slowly mesmerize and transport the viewer to the mood and feel of a lost culture.

Besides scenes of ordinary ancient existence, which are amazing enough to see, compelling rituals are presented and left as purely mysterious, earthy, and spiritual, which the viewer can only struggle to explain.

The film is also a treasure of authentic clothing and costumes you may otherwise never see.

Color of Pomegranates serves as a surprising unspoken testament to this lost, ancient culture.

I rented this as a movie on DVD, which thankfully seems easy to find in the USA. I highly recommend the DVD, as it also offered a commented version by Parajanov himself, and an incredible interview with Parajanov, before he sadly passed away, in which he describes some of his amazing, tragic life and his epic struggles to create and release his work, most of which, including Color of Pomegranates, was banned or censored in the former Soviet Union. His years WASTED in damn Soviet prison are a true black mark on humanity, and one can only wonder what other fantastic work he might have created had he been free. His own story appears to be worthy of one of his many great films, as it is biblically tragic yet unquestioningly triumphant.

Varuh meje (2002)
8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Rituals and Womanhood..., 20 December 2004

"The first female directed Slovene narrative feature film, Guardians of the frontier follows three college girls on a canoe trip through the woods.As they travel down the Kolpa River, which separates the relatively affluent Slovenia from the downtrodden Croatia, they find themselves in the midst of a hallucinatory combination of nationalist and personal passions."

in Slovene with English subtitles

Guardians of the Frontier takes the viewer on the coming of age journey of three young women. The perspective is completely unbiased and neutral. Many aspects and dilemmas of life are presented, and the plot has no singular focus. The characters of the three young women are meticulously and realistically presented. They are very interesting and representative in their differences, which, by the film's end can be seen as archetypical in nature. This is the type of film which is compelling later, when one realizes how succinct and unique it is.

What is doubly striking about this film is that the director is also a woman. It is not a film by a man based on a man's concept of a woman. It is not male nor anti-male, it is operating on a whole different level. The whole film is presented from a distinctly female point of view and the perceptions, issues and context are fundamentally different. A man could just not make this film. The young women, the feel of their characters, their interpretation of the world, and the issues they face are genuinely and distinctly those of women.

The cinematography, like many Slovenian films, is striking, artistic, yet subtle. Clearly it was filmed on emulsion film. Considering it's traditional yet modern cinemagraphic style, a plot accurately representing a women's perspective, and that it is also directed by a woman, Guardians of the Frontier offers a satisfying contrast to Hollywood.

I saw this film at the NSK State in Time/Slovene Avant Garde exhibit in Seattle, November, 2004.

Thank You, Maja, and I look forward to seeing more creative work from you in the future.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Testament to a lost world..., 20 December 2004

An authentic, slice of life type of film which serves as a document of a world which has largely disappeared. It also serves as a testament to known, institutional child abuse which to this day has not been brought to justice; and ordinary people who are corrupted every day in the demeaning, oppressive struggle to survive in the former regime.

A complete and unbiased presentation of the reality of the day. It is at the same time humorous, horrible, inspiring and depressing.

The cinematography, like many Slovenian films, is striking, classical, yet subtle. A soviet or eastern traditional film style with a modern polish that is a very satisfying contrast to Hollywood.

I saw this film at the NSK State in Time/Slovene Avant Garde exhibit in Seattle, November, 2004.

Thank You, Miha.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Stunning surrealist masterpiece.., 23 June 2004

There is a lot that could be said and a lot that will continue to surface about this film, and I have not even seen the others in the series.

The film is simply staggering. I always see movies cold, with little or no knowledge of the sometimes pretentious "concept" behind the film, but for this film Cocteau is a great reference. The cinematography is a worthy tribute to Kubrick's early style. It is clear that there is sophisticated and complex metaphor embedded throughout the film, though it's not as pretentiously baffling as say, Tarkovsky's "Sacrifice". I have to grudgingly recommend that one should see the website for an overview of cremaster 2 to fully appreciate the sequence, if not the brilliant execution, because in cremaster 2, writer/director Matthew Barney shows a gift for making stunning, almost schizophrenic connections among wildly disconnected stories which are each revolutionary even when taken alone. If you can stay with the film, the dawning of their connections is devastating.

I apparently saw Cremaster 1 and then 2 shown together which was actually even better, especially without the benefit of knowing they were separate films. Cremaster 1, which is like Kubrick's best work- beautifully minimalistic, quietly disturbing, seductive and surreal. It's also completely disconnected from the essential sequence of cremaster 2 so it serves to provoke imagination and destroy conceptual barriers before cremaster 2 starts. The sequence starts with the pristine, amorphous canvas of cremaster1, then becomes gradually more coherent in some unknown direction, and finally crystallizes into an almost tangible object. There is not a normal conclusion or an ending. The separate stories form an object. A beautiful, complete and complex object.

The film is truly working at all levels, and I believe it manages to break new ground conceptually. I consider it a genuine modern surrealist masterpiece, somewhat in the vein of Kubrick.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
With this much style, who needs content?, 17 June 2004

This film is a stage for Carradine, and it is so great to see him finally have full reign on a screen. This is one of Carradine's films that really crystallizes his style and attitude.

The plot is about as thin as projector film, but the characters are so grand it seems like a modern tribute to film noir anyway. Violence is often used in movies as a blatant substitute for an intelligent story, and Tarantino may be the poster child for using that device, but memorable characters are his (and his actors') great accomplishment. You can try to interpret the violence as metaphor for internal psychological dilemmas, and in this movie you see love ultimately win out over all the adrenalin addicted characters, but realistically Tarantino works from a gore-fetish basis and that is his most avid audience. That is the underlying vibe, but his films are more than that. Tarantino's films take on meaning simply by virtue of the characters and the interplay.

The film is vaguely reminiscent of Thelma and Louise, and I even see similarities in the methodology of Tarantino's films and Ridley Scott's.

It was great to see funny references to other films, too. There is this female character thrashing wildly on the floor in her death throws, uncannily like the replicant in (coincidentally) Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and it actually did turn out to be Daryl Hannah! I love NOT knowing everything about a film before seeing it. For the whole film I wondered if that could be her, and if Daryl Hannah could really still look that good.

It goes without saying that all the actors did great work, which is typical of Tarantino's films. Uma is a sex siren of the silver screen. Too many others to mention.

Maîtresse (1975)
8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Esoteric surprise 20 years early, 17 June 2004

Maîtresse is a typical story of seduction and obsession. The dialog is in French with subtitles. Without an unusual or groundbreaking plot, and not presented as a grand film, it was filmed in the popular style of French films of the time, many of which enjoy enduring popularity today because of their minimalist execution. It simply presents a story in an unpretentious format. It is not too sexually explicit visually, though the theme definitely is.

The director, Barbet Schroder, has evolved into one of the incredible directors of our time. His life is probably more interesting even than most of his fictional characters, and his other films are a short list of some of my favorites.

There is really only one noteworthy element of the film, and it is quite noteworthy. The central character, Ariane (Bulle Ogier), who is reminiscent of Catherine Deneuve, is quite seductive as a dominatrix who avails herself of a fetishist's dream chamber complete with a wardrobe that most people would not believe could have possibly existed when the film was made in 1973. It is the fantastic surprise of the film, and the character is easily 20 years ahead of her time.

Anyone into edgy fashion today would be well advised to enjoy viewing this film and accept a humbling lesson concerning underground esthetic's that existed some 30 years ago. Indeed, this film alone may have helped to popularize modern fetishist, "sadist" or bondage sensibilities, especially in France.

An interesting and odd film, decidedly kinky, and with an ending that makes a brief but incredible prediction of the work, "Crash" by J.G. Ballard, written soon after the film was released- or perhaps coincidentally.

Das Boot (1981)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Epic modern tragedy. Battle death noir., 20 June 2002

Such a tale of woe on the high seas is only rarely portrayed on film. To me, the film goes beyond the actors and the film making. It seems to have taken on an inexplicable life of it's own- straight to some mechanized Nazi oblivion at the bottom of the north sea.

The tragedy builds to a mythical, nightmarish scale. The film seems to inadvertently portray some accursed modern archetype of war. Perhaps the sea and the boat itself are the true, silent commanders of the crew, who are merely the pathetic pawns of fate. The kapitan, who's life at sea depended entirely on the boat- you could almost see his soul fall away as he watched it finally go down. This film seems to cut right to the seductive myth and horrible reality of war.

The film is long. Relentlessly long. Torpedoes travel in real time. The sets are dark and gritty probably beyond the reality of the day. It's over three hours long. I cannot explain why I had to watch it twice. In the second viewing, you may start to see glimpses of your own face among the crew. The film is so haunting, it leaves me so incredulous and begging for any type of resolution, some kind of explanation, conclusion or the slightest psychological comfort offered to address the merciless, hopeless abyss which is the end...    it is never offered.

23 out of 28 people found the following review useful:
A box of nowhere to go...., 21 February 2002

I have to admit having a soft spot for this film as I have for Apocalypse Now, though perhaps Coppola could never quite carry out a truly inventive directing style. His films mostly seemed somehow constrained to an unchallenging format, and avoided the complexity, surrealism or depth so often used to great ends by film directors. Coppola's films will always seem to this author to be part of that distinct class of "Hollywood Films", though some are arguably "really good" Hollywood films.

As often the case with good films, Rumble Fish featured a fantastic collaboration of other great artists. This talent comes together to create something memorable on film which communicates, as few films have, a certain mood or feeling that is perhaps peculiar to the American midwest, especially during the 1980's. Something about the antipathy of growing up in such a vast, apathetic, culturally blank, comfortably mediocre place and attempting to go beyond it or find something in it, like punching your way out of a cardboard box only to find that things seem just as dark and empty on the outside. It should be made clear that this author also comes from that midwest and identifies with this theme, so there is some bias in this review, but this may apply to other "midwestern refugees" as well.

Fans of S.E. Hinton, on who's book the film was based and who co-wrote the screenplay, will appreciate the film, as well as fans of Tom Waits, Stuart Copeland (of the Police and little known project Klark Kent- which closely resembles the soundtrack), Mickey Rourke, or any of the (then) young, up and coming actors like Matt Dillon, Nicolas Cage and Diane Lane.

Rourke is at one of the peaks of his young career here, a cool rebel without a cause type, vaguely reminiscent of young Peter Fonda or James Dean- a striking character. The film has memorable scenes and lines, one of which is Dillon's character saying to the fatalistic older brother- "Motorcycle Boy" played by Rourke, something like- "People would really follow you anywhere, why don't we do something?", to which Rourke responds- "Yeah, they'd probably follow me right down to the river...and jump in."

Similar scenes and numerous references to time passing away seemed to summarize the hopeless stagnation of growing up nowhere and proceeding to go nowhere. Groping in the dark for everything or anything meaningful in the context of a forgotten, lifeless irontown where even the young seem more like ghosts trying desperately to become tangible in some sense, and the middle aged are already on some other world.

Other films that come to mind- James Dean films; "Reckless", another Hollywood film released a year later, with Aidan Quinn (as "Rourke"- coincidence?), and Daryl Hannah, was semi-successful in making the occasional reference to a similar blighted steeltown theme, though overall it was spotty; "Dogs in Space" with Michael Hutchence of INXS was a punk classic, and had some of that "nowhere with style" appeal with an Australian twist; two other 1980's films the author never saw- "Down by Law" and "Rivers Edge" probably fit somewhere in here as well.

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