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The Tall Man (2012)
Miners versus Minors
If you like to exit a cinema speechless, confused and with a raised eyebrow, this is the flick for you!
I recommend going into this one with as little information about the plot as possible. I had only read about the premise that children were being abducted in a dying mining town, and the rest unfolded for me perfectly as I watched.
The twists and turns this movie takes left me very pleasantly confused. I like a movie that makes me think. I hate the predictable Hollywood mush where it is clear from the beginning whom to root for and whom to despise. In this one, you can never be sure whether the sympathy for one character or the other will turn around and bite you in the ass.
I'd like to point your attention to one detail I noticed. When the main character played by Jessica Biel goes searching for David, she enters a chapel-like structure with a writing on the wall about Saint Barbara who is actually the Patron Saint of "miners" (people who work in mines)... only, it's (mis-?)spelled "minors" (young people). (I don't think the set decorators got that one wrong. The error is on purpose).
Tiny details like this are the icing on the cake of a perfect little gem of a movie.
I *did* like Martyrs, in a twisted, guilty pleasure kind of way, and I did like "the Tall Man", but for other reasons, namely because it kept me guessing till the end. Can a character in a movie be Angel, Demon, Sinner, Saint, Madperson, Sane ... in swift succession and you still like them? Go find out for yourself.
Interesting for students of language
I haven't read all the reviews here, so I don't know if anyone has picked up on this interesting detail, but I am going to base my review on that anyway. I'm not going to summarize the plot again, I am just going to point out a few details, which might give this movie a little more depth, and makes it deserve a little more credit than your average run-of-the-mill zombie flick.
Somewhere along the movie, we see a semi-wide shot with the protagonists in the background, and the focus being on a book lying inconspicuously on a table in the foreground. The book is of course "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson. For those who haven't read the book, it deals, among other topics, with the notion that drugs, viruses and religions are fundamentally and structurally the same thing, namely "self-replicating parasitic information" (paraphrased from the German Wikipedia entry for Snow Crash). Also, communication is seen as a sort of "virus" enabling the indoctrination of people.
Rings a bell yet ?
There is a short quote by the author William S. Burroughs (the author of the controversial "Naked Lunch" and collaborator on the movie of the same title) that says "Language is a virus from outer space" ... to which Laurie Anderson, US performance artist and collaborator with Burroughs, adds the lyrics "that is why I'd rather hear your name than see your face". The quote is never uttered verbatim in the movie itself, but it kept floating around my head while I was watching it.
Take, for example, any group of followers of some religious belief that are "speaking in tongues" in a group. Don't they have an uncanny resemblance to the "conversionalists" (as they are called in the credits) of this movie? Vacant faces, incoherent babbling, raised arms, repeating words or phrases in a drone -Father thou art in Heaven...- ... minus the blood, of course ...
I'm usually not a big fan of Zombie movies. I just don't see the point in watching putrefying corpse in gray make-up shuffling around in torn clothes and dentally ripping the faces off the barely living with gusto.
I did enjoy 'Zombieland' though, because it gave the genre a little kick in the butt. Maybe, because of the "different approach" also present in Pontypool, and with my background as an language student (although that was a long time ago), I also liked this movie quite a bit.
Of course there are the gory scenes, but probably not enough of them for the real Zombie-Movie-Aficionado to be satisfied, so this explains some of the negative reviews on here. This is not necessarily a "simple" and "rip your guts out" horror flick. Some background knowledge *is* required to fully appreciate it
I'm not trying to sound arrogant or elitist, but I could indeed enjoy the movie intellectually, not only because the acting is quite good from all major characters involved, and the story keeps you on your toes, but also for its (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) subtext that language can be abused to make people *sick*, *dependent*, *submissive*, etc.
Even when you're not a big Zombie fan like myself, but you do like languages and the study of them, you might want to give this little gem a try.
Anrakkî monkî (1998)
Mediocre yakuza flick with excellent beginning
I saw this movie a few days ago, but the memories have already kind of faded. Therefore I guess that it wasn't such a memorable experience as it seemed to be during the time of watching it.
The opening sequence, where a bag of money changes hands several times in an elegantly choreographed series of accidents is probably the best scene of the movie in my eyes.
After that, it wasn't really clear to me whether I was watching a comedy, a yakuza crime flick or a splatter film.
The movie in itself has several parallel storylines that crisscross from time to time, nothing unusual, mixed with the Japanese way of hinting at emotions very blatantly, in itself nothing unusual either, but the constant shifting between comedy, crime, philosophy and gore was a bit too inconsistent for my taste.
However, if you like Japanese movies based around the topics Yakuza, Identity-Loss, Action and Slapstick, you might wanna give it a try.
Peng! Du bist tot! (1987)
nothing to remember
I've seen this movie on TV, and the only memorable thing for me about it is that it features my university linguistics professor Prof. Dr. Willy Elmer as "speaker #2"...besides that, it's another of those abysmal German movies from the 80's which try to be interesting (a little sex, a little crime, a little comedy), but fail miserably.
Ingolf Lueck, who moved from being a video-clip presenter on TV to "actor" to comedian on a TV show can be compared to Thomas Gottschalk: same career, same nose-size, same (non-existing) acting skills. The only funny thing in the movie actually was the speech of my prof, and I'm being polite... :)
I was only drunk...and I did it for justice!
Any Japanese movie involving alcohol, beautiful Yakuza brides and guns will be a funny ride into the Asian subconscious, and this movie is no exception.
It amalgamates plot elements such as drinking Whisky, hands-free peeing, Yakuza bashing, pacemaker bomb defusing, drinking Whisky, lynching street muggers, Devils, Sprites, an obnoxious but finally sympathetic girlfriend, drinking Whisky, Japanese twist dancing, smoke grenades, drinking Whisky, palm reading, fake laughter and moronic TV talk shows into an adventure of the absurd. A ride into the cesspools of one man's private hell. A blatant appeal against alcohol and weapon abuse, or a devilishly clever satire about modern day Japan and its underworld. Oh...and did I mention drinking Whisky?
If you're a fan of Takeshi Kitano's movie, you will like "Monday".
If you are a fan of Bruce Willis and expect a Japanese "Die Hard", you won't find it funny! But if you're open minded, can appreciate satire for what it really is, then you will enjoy this movie thoroughly!
Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Think of me when you shave your legs
Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie in one movie?? Cool I thought, but then, maybe the movie would only be eye-candy. WRONG! Seriously wrong.
What enfolds on screen is a journey into a young woman's troubled mind and world, her struggle to first define normality and then to get back to that definition.
Obviously (as you learn in the credits) a film based on a book by Susanna Kaysen (played by Ryder in the movie), which really makes you remember the time when you were an adolescent, the torn feelings, the anger, the frustration, etc.
Of course, Jolie has won the Oscar for her rendition of Lisa, the drop-out sociopath, but small glitters of acting brilliance shimmer all over the movie, down to the smallest parts. Winona, besides being beautiful as ever, gives credibility to the (existing) Susanna.
A fine movie, I enjoyed it thoroughly.
There was just one annoying scene (but maybe that's just me). Her boyfriend asks Susanna whether she wanted to escape to Canada with him...I couldn't concentrate on the dialogue...my mind screamed "FAKE BEARD! FAKE BEARD! all over the place....) Go see it, you'll get my hint :-)
I give it 9/10
Insolid as a Rocco!
A male porn star in a wannabe feminist treatise about human sexuality and unrequited desire? Get outta here!
I feared the worst when I went to see this movie with some friends (we were 2 men and 3 women). After about 15 minutes (when the first person of the audience ostentatively left the cinema) we looked at each other and braced ourselves to sit through this uninspired, unsexy, unintriguing piece of film-making, and we knew that, yes, we would not be disappointed in our prediction: This in one BAD movie!
Although in some scenes the main actress is doing a fine job, her annoying voice from the off gets on your nerves after the second time you hear it.
The sex scenes, albeit very graphical with frontal, dorsal and every other type of nudity imaginable, are rather more sickening than scintillating. Maybe that's the one point where the film succeeds; to depict sexuality as something frustrating, nauseating from a frustrated, nauseated woman's point of view.
What my female colleagues hated the most about the movie was the tone of generalization. The film suggests that all women are like the main character and experience sex in that way; but, thank God, that's not true!
The best scene of the movie was, strangely enough, dominated by a man (in the most literal sense), as the sadistic school head-master ties up the female main character in a Japanese bondage ceremony, all the while ranting on about how he f***ed "Grace Delly" (sic!) in Monaco some years ago. The monologue there was most likely improvised and, sadly enough, the improvisation is better than the rest of the (scripted) dialogue.
Sorry folks, this film is not worth watching. If you wanna see well-done porn, rent porn. If you wanna see a well-done, psychologically sound movie about the troubles (and joys) of sexuality, watch "Better than chocolate".
This one here qualifies in neither category.
Little Red Riding Lutz
Imagine a fairy-tale of the 90's told by someone with a severe acid flashback from the 70's and you're bang into the mood of this clever little movie.
You get all the elements of the original tale: The little girl on the way to her grandmother, the red basket full of goodies and the bad bad wolf. These elements are woven into a dense plot and you're never quite sure who's the victim and who's the offender.
Troubled teenager Vanessa Lutz (Reese Witherspoon) gets picked up on the Freeway by Bob Wolverton (Kiefer Sutherland) after her car has broken down. We soon find out that the esteemed psychologist Wolverton has some sick problems of his own, as during the drive he performs a brilliantly acted session of "mental sex" on the frightened teenager, pretending this to be a new sort of therapy form. As Vanessa snaps under the mental strain, we get the first reversal of roles, as she brutally strikes back on Bob.
What follows is a story of dark comic horror with exquisite details that made me chuckle, despite the gruesome events. "Kiefer" for example is a German word meaning "jawbone" and, let me tell you, there are some very BAD things happening to Bob Wolverton's jawbone in the course of events. This was most probably unintentional, but I thought that to be funny anyway. The story then depicts the trial of Vanessa, her time in the women's prison and her evasion back onto the road to find her grandmother.
The story cumulates in a trailer park where Girl, Grandmother, Wolf and Hunters meet for the final climax, which is a real heart-stopper.
If you're looking for action, black humor, psychological terror and gore, this is the movie to watch, because it treats you with subtle doses of all of it.
If you ever wanted to know how Brooke Shields' brain looks on white tiling, go get the movie!