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From Prada to Nada (2011)
this is the best movie, about people, this year, besides eastwood and damon's movie. it is at-least as good as 'morning glory', which i also loved to tears.
the characters are wonderful. i actually wound up caring about the rich snob girl; this movie achieved the impossible.
the movie was also funny... people in the theatre were cracking up. i admit some of them went over my head. some of them are so subtle, its beautiful. there is a joke about subtitles, blink and you will miss it, but people in the audience loved at my theatre it.
this is what independent films used to be like... creative, funny, touching, sad, brilliant.
don't be fooled by the ratings on IMDb or tomatoes. the people who made this film are incredibly talented and the heart and soul of their effort drips out of this movie.
Inside Job (2010)
a few small flaws
I still believe the best movie on the crisis is 'The Other Guys'. But this is a close second.
There are a few minor flaws though.
The most glaring is the softpedal of Barney Frank, who had pushed Fannie and Freddie to go into subprime, and was mysteriously un-inquisitive of Countrywide during the crisis.
An other issue is the scenes with hedge fund manager Bill Ackman. He has great insight in the film, but his major contribution during the crisis was his outspoken criticism against MBIA, an insurance company that he was also shorting. IE when MBIA faltered (due to CDOs it 'insured'), Ackman made lots of money. This is told by Christine S Richard in the book Confidence Game. As in 'The Big Short' by Michael Lewis, even the 'whistleblowers' themselves had conflicts of interest. None of this is anywhere in the film.
Another problem is that the film never distinguishes between Synthetic CDOs and 'Cash' CDOs. The Synthetics were basically a form of gambling, as they were not made of any real asset, just credit default swaps. It's sort of a weird subject, but it is kind of important, because without the Synthetics, the market (thus the problem) would have been much much smaller.
The laudatory tone towards Europe is a little difficult to understand, since Europe was up to it's ears in CDOs. And one 'wall street' firm up to its armpits in subprime, Deutsche Bank, is not even American. Europe had housing bubbles and banking bailouts and other problems as well coming to roost in 2010.
The positive view of the Chinese banks is also odd, since China was in CDOs and had a bank that almost merged with Bear Stearns. China's financial industry is about as pure and well regulated as their milk or toy paint industry.
Also I laughed at the section about how in the US 'high tech sector' jobs were 'easy' to come by. Considering the place where I work uses software owned by a company in India and the number of underemployed computer people I know.
But the film also has a lot of stuff I haven't seen in the books on the crisis, most importantly the massive conflict of interest and corruption between academia, government, and business. Especially effective was how the interviewees on this subject didn't seem to 'get it'. The book EConned by Yves Smith describes the problems with the modern study of economics, but Mr Ferguson draws us some extremely specific lines between men who worked high in government, the conclusions found in their 'academic' writing, and the industry that pays them for their 'outside consulting'. This is the most devastating part of the film, to me.
And the film does fantastically with the short time it's given. I would give my eye's teeth to see the full interviews. Gillian Tett gets under a minute of screen time but she has written an entire book about how Credit Default Swaps were invented by a handful of traders at JP Morgan and how the idea was 'perverted'. (it's not really mentioned in her interview). The same could be said of many other authors interviewed.
A nice Hollywood ending might have been discussing how the Swedes dealt with their banks, but... its Charles Ferguson, don't expect a Hollywood ending.
Bride Wars (2009)
you will like this movie if
i will tell you what happened at -my- theatre, full of young folks apparently on dates and so forth, packed to the gills, in flyover America.
people laughed. there were some very funny moments in this movie. i did not know there was a 'butter of the month club'. this is a line that could be found in any of the ben stiller, or Judd apatow, or will Ferrel, or Seinfeld or Larry David shows. and here, i find it just as funny.
Kate Hudson does a very good job of playing her role, and this whole 'overeating' thing is a perfect example... in the theatre i was in, it worked, the audience did, in fact, laugh out loud.
Anne Hathaway is a great movie star, because she can play the buddy thing... i mean to say that she is not trying to take over the movie, even though she could, and i loved that.
people will say she is 'wasting' herself playing these types of movies. well, maybe she should go shoot people or blow things up and make big bucks, but maybe she doesn't want to. the parts she is playing are very hard to do well, she brings so much to them. it is hard to play this ordinary life stuff.
the characters around the main are good as well. i especially liked the devious little assistant to Kate Hudson's character, he played that perfectly and it was written well, and got a good number of laughs for his antics. the crazy school colleague had several good lines, talking about "i do so much for you". very funny. and unusual. i liked seeing this type of psychology in a movie role because we all know people who act like that sometimes, but you don't see a lot of it in the movies.
why do people, then, hate this movie so much? well, i personally found the ending rather unsatisfying... it 'shocked' me out of my "suspension of disbelief"... i didn't see how things could be so 'resolved' after 10 years of courtship, to dump it all out in a few minutes. it seemed a little silly to me. I'm not saying it couldn't happen, but the way it was written did not hit home with me, the way the rest of the movie did.
i can only surmise that people who hated it, found the entire thing to be what i found the last minute or two to be... a little bit too trite and neatly wrapped up.
but, i am willing to let all that slide... because at the core of the movie is a good story about relationships... which is what all movies are really, even Star Wars. OK, i don't know about Hostel because i didn't see it. but Im just saying, this movie might look superficial but it is not really.
i know they talk about dress designers and shoes and crap like that, but to some people, that stuff is the equivalent of the Rambo 'strapping on his weapons' scenes, or scenes in other movies where they go on and on about types of weaponry, or guns or techno babble on star trek episodes or whatever. or... sports. you all know the person who plays fantasy football and can go on for hours about it, well thats how these people are with weddings and everything that goes around weddings. but i think that is kind of the point..... the movie is not about weddings, its about the relationships between people.
anyways, if you are into stuff like 27 dresses, or that movie with the t-mobile lady and the dude from 'thank you for smoking', or nanny diaries, or other stuff like that... you will probably dig it, or at least parts of it. i would even go so far as to say fans of "meet the fockers" might find something in this film worthwhile.
now the other problem i had with the movie was envy, i envied these people with all their lifelong friendships and so forth and so on. but eventually it all breaks down and they find themselves just as lost as the rest of us... what can i say. i don't understand why people hate this movie so much, just like i don't understand why people hated the nanny diaries. oh well.
this movie is awesome
this movie has transformed history into a thriller. this in and of itself is somewhat of a work of genius. the camera shots and pacing of Mr singer have all the grip that i felt when watching his x-men....
and i got the same feeling of a human story... Mr singer does not condescend or preach..
the supporting actors are all first rate, absolutely top notch. i have no idea if they are historically accurate.. but the emotions that they chose to portray were entirely and wholly believable to me, as a viewer. namely, the uncertainty about the plot, the doubts, the hesitation, the pondering, and the fear. they were not instant cereal box heroes, many were worried about their own skin, and not pure bred idealists.
tom cruise, will of course be criticized... because of his acting, or because he is a scientologist. but i think his acting here is spot on. he is arrogant, brash, over confident, and a little annoying.. which is exactly what you need to be a coup assassin. let me just ask, who else could have played this role, in this movie, as well as Mr cruise? Mel Gibson? brad Pitt? George clooney? and make no mistake, its a Hollywood movie.. they needed a Hollywood star to make it...
as for Mr cruise' scientology... clearly the man is a professional and did not bring anything to the film set except his dedication to do a good job in this role. i don't like a lot of things the CoS does, then again, i don't like a lot of things that religions do... or atheists for that matter. so give the guy a break. its not like he eats babies (err.. right?)
my only quibble is with the ending. (ok, if it turns out there are horrible historical mistakes, id quibble with that too...but i have to give them as much a break as i would any history based thriller). i wish it would have been a Hollywood ending! yes, the hero dies, we all know its coming. but what about 'saving private Ryan' ending? that was a beautiful ending. what about an ending showing the German resistance memorial, in the modern day? i think it would have been nice to say that dying to stop Hitler, was not such a tragedy... the tragedy would have been if he had not tried to stop Hitler.
and there are some who say 'it was too late in the war... would have made no difference'... but there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, killed in the last 9 months of the European war. and for those who say, these men just wanted power, not to save Europe.... well, this movie clearly shows that angle... as i mentioned above. the actors are brilliant.
i must also praise the set people and photographers, costume and props departments. the scenes of soldiers dashing about various buildings, the plane rides, the wolfs lair... they all add very much to the drama and emotion of the film.. in the best tradition of Hollywood popcorn munching film. yes it might be unnecessary, but it is not unwelcome. i would dare to say, it rather drew me in and helped transport me.
anyways, if you are a neo Nazi, you will probably hate this film.. so go skip it. if you have no interest in politics or history, also skip it. if you want a lot of killing, explosions, and mindless action, skip it. if you are still reading this, after all i have said... then you might like it.
The Planet (2006)
yes yes yes!
i was having a horrid day but this movie grabbed me, and i couldn't put it down until the end... and i had forgotten about my horrid day. and the ending... by the way... where is the sequel!!!
the budget is obviously extremely low... but ... look what they did with it! it reminds me of a play... they are basically working with a tent, a 'escape pod', a few guns, uniforms, camping gear, and a 'scanner' thing. that is it for props. Maybe this is even a good thing, forcing the acting and writing to have to step up and take their rightful place in film, as the centers of the work, instead of as afterthoughts used to have an excuse to make CGI fights (starwars).
The cgi is fine. It is not exactly 'seamless'... but imho it still works. why? because there isn't too much of it, and what there is, is not 'taking over' with an army of effects house people trying to cram everything they can into the shot. it prompts the imagination... it's some relatively simple stuff, with decent composition (especially the heavy freighter shot.. there is one long shot that must be at least ten seconds...that tracks the entire length of the ship... it must be a record for sci fi battle sequence film making in the past 10 years, to have an action sequence that lasts longer than 0.75 seconds), and some relation to the story. it might look old or not 'state of the art', but it doesn't look stupid and it doesn't take away from the story.
The acting is good, except the characters die too fast to get to know them.
Now, as for the plot.... mostly it is good... why? Because it doesn't try to explain itself. It just happens. It's called 'the planet', its a mystery, get it?? Nobody knows why there is a statue, and they don't find out either. The mysterious cult? The weird scientist with the tattoo? What do you expect to find out in less than 90 minutes? This isn't War and Peace. And, thank god, it's not star wars/trek either. No midichlorians, no 5 minutes of expository boring dialog that has no purpose in the story. The characters are stranded, and are only able to figure out a few basic things... it is not a star trek episode where they find out it's leonardo davinci or a child like space wanderer. It is mysterious, and i liked that. I don't know why, maybe I can identify with these guys more , since they don't know whats happening, and i don't either... they don't talk a lot of space gibberish or have magic boxes telling them what is happening.
Anyways. What can I say. This was well worth the dollar I payed at the 'red box' machine at the supermarket. It was also, imho, a better piece of storytelling than starwars parts 1 2 or 3. Like I said, it sucked me in, wanting to know what was happening, and I couldn't stop watching until the end.
Bekushiru: 2077 Nihon sakoku (2007)
a very ironic film
A movie that is protesting the mechanization of human beings... and the destruction of the soul.... is entirely CGI, and is full of mindless and pointless violence and special effects.
The best character is Maria. This character fascinated me... the only character i can remember to speak less, is Clint Eastwood's man with no name from the old Sergio Leone western movies. It is a credit to the animators and artists and voice actor (... did they use motion capture? if so, then the actor as well) to portray this character as she is portrayed.
Actually Saito isn't too bad, there are one or two scenes that hint at his complexity... but it is hard to find them when buildings are exploding airplanes are slamming through windows, explosions pound inside your head, etc.
The kid character is not too bad... not great though. Wanted to know more about him. Sadly, I feel I know more about 'wall-e' the robot in the Disney movie than about this kid who is so eager to go off to battle.
Some other strange things,,, a kid going to battle (whats his relationship with Maria? child?).. the never-explained desecration of the entire island of Japan the lack of curiosity that Vexille displays about this (ie, how about 'where is mt fuji?') Oh yeah. Actually the entire damn plot is strange and makes no sense. I half expected for the movie to stop in some parts and et me play a level of 'starcraft'. That is the level of exposition we are talking about here... just people droning on about missions and '50 years ago the xyz corporation blah blah blah'. The thing with the iron wire makes absolutely no sense, the giant wall is the same... the inability of the 'jags' to jump, when they jump all over the land. Why does the city have gates in the first place? How about a tiny little hole you drive out of? If the security is so tight, why are the top of the walls safe to hang around on? Why attack America? China is much closer and has more 'human guinea pigs' to experiment on. What happened to the presumably 200 million+ people of the island? Did they all die? Where when and why? Did none of these 'survivors' have relatives from the past to talk about? Pile on more and more of this stuff, and you lose your ability to suspend disbelief. . . you just start going 'wtf..' and wondering if this is the level where you get some awesome upgraded ship , again, wondering if you are watching a movie or a cutscene in starcraft.
Miyazaki made a good film, called Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It wasn't good because of the artwork, voices, etc, although all those are great... it was good because of the story... the world created.. it actually kind of made sense... a little bit. . .
Vexille's world has many parts that make almost no sense... but unfortunately the nonsensical parts of it seem to be rather central to the mechanics of the plot.
But , what can I say. It is a much better film than Indiana Jones 4. . . and even I like it better than some of the Star Wars prequels.
If nothing else, it is unique, and if you just see 5 minutes of it for the visual effects of the jag, just do it. Or, if you actually want a story, fast forward to the scenes where Maria 'reacts' to events happening around her.. and see her 'discussion' with Vexille... I found these scenes to be fascinating. If you only care about action, you will not be disappointed.
But if you have to have things polished up, with nice neat plots to tie things together logically... you need to take a leap of faith before you are going to get any enjoyment out of this film.
Bye and thanks for reading.
Art School Confidential (2006)
if you like clowes books
'or the vulgar marketing sobriquet, "graphic novel"' - such as 'ice haven' and 'david boring' - then you will like this movie.
its pretty much the same level of twistedness.
although i really really worry about that one big plot thing , i mean, isn't that horrible? the whole ... amorality of not dealing with it in the movie, makes it extra creepy. id prefer a nice happy ending like in 'david boring'.
the end of this one made me feel, you know, these main characters that i thought i so identified with and everything... yuck! thank god I'm -not- them and i wouldn't do what they do.
at least i hope i wouldn't.
anyways, zwygoff I'm glad you didn't have any young women having sex with 50 year old record collectors in this one. that was totally transparent and lame.
Christmas in the Clouds (2001)
this is a great movie
this movie is great. it has a sense of humor that is not slapstick but kind of country it is not hateful but very hopeful the movie has small problems, it is not polished like a perfect golden globe there are tiny holes that could be filled in with an extra scene or two. however, it is a wonderful work of art. in the tradition of making you laugh, cry, and shout. its telling me i have to put more lines in. alright let me think here. basically the story is a penpal (think you've got mail) mixup leads a to an Indian-owned resort hotel in the West, various odd and humorous and touching characters, most of them lonely and looking for love, fill out the plot, and interact with each other in an extremely well constructed, not contrived, set of circumstances. oh and the love scenes are wonderful; not the typical degrading Hollywood stuff.
Dark Water (2005)
this is a beautiful movie
its not really supernatural, about monsters, demons, exorcism, evil, or water.
what it is about is a woman with mental illness who loves her daughter and is having a hard time in life.
the scenes alone of the daily humiliation of life as less than wealthy in America, in new york city where a dingy grub hole is $900/month.
where hope is a school teacher with a smile like the sunrise and a big hippy shirt.
no the movie, the movie is a beautiful portrait of an American mother.
i must say, though, that near the ending the movie confused me to no end. i felt lost there. it seemed odd and disjointed, in a way that the rest of the movie did not.
but as for the scariness --- the scariness is in living through the feelings of a person who has had a lot of trauma in life and has had a hard time overcoming it, but the beauty is in seeing her do it day in and day out despite the gray prison like life she must lead in the face of being middle class and desperate.
congratulations to the makers of the movie, let it be known that you touched at least one person.
Deal of the Century (1983)
completely misunderstood *spoiler*
there just aren't any movies about the arms trade. let alone satires.
its not supposed to be funny. its supposed to be ironic and make a social statement. but if you cannot see the humor in a bunch of dancing girls throwing hulas around generals at a party/trade-show called "arms for peace '84", then maybe you don't have a sense of humor.
the only way i can figure that someone doesn't see humor in this is that they have never actually been to an air show, visited a defense plant, or studied anything about the weapons / airplane industry, or perhaps they have completely forgotten the Cold War and what it was like.
the idea of selling a bunch of useless weapons off to a third world dictator, while a rich Arabian sells weapons to his enemy, is sick and funny but most of all it's true.
anyone who likes family guy or futurama will have a good chance of appreciating this movie.