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Dick-114

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4 reviews in total 
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36 out of 52 people found the following review useful:
Powerful and sustained but at the end, an artistic flaw, 18 October 2006
8/10

I can't quarrel with those who give this film high praise for powerfully representing the complex humanity of both the oppressor and oppressed with first-rate film-making. Essentially it tells how a capable, peaceable bystander is bullied into becoming a "freedom fighter" (or "terrorist" if you will), at cost. BUT given most of the film's present-tense dramatic intensity, I was disappointed by the sudden lapse into voice-over past tense narration at the end, hastily tacked on it would seem to tell us that though the story seems a downer, historically it all turned out well after all. I'd rather have seen another hour -- maybe less -- that continued the tale on its own terms -- the subject is epic enough to deserve it. Or else seen all that end material separated from the film itself, an end flourish upwards amid the end-credits, performing the job but leaving the main story its own integrity. Too bad. An excellent film, strong but in this regard imperfect.

Hard Candy (2005)
7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Precocious teen plays mind games with a man who keeps claiming she's mistaken him for someone else., 2 May 2006

The movie was marvelously, subtly, powerfully, and wickedly scripted and acted, so we believe until close to the end that a great injustice is occurring, though the moral justification for it shifts as we go, and we're whipsawed deciding which of the two characters is committing it, or has done so. When the situation finally clarifies for the audience (because a character behaves apparently out of char5acter, until we grasp its significance), the intense mind faking ends and the plot moves into the merely melodramatically improbable. Then ends on such an improbability, given the character as portrayed, driven by thin pseudo logic that unfortunately strips much of the earlier action of meaning, and leaves lots of loose ends the final shot pretends aren't there.

Too bad. Difficult to watch for 4/5 of it, because so well conceived and made, so tensely convincing. Then difficult to watch at the very end because so merely hokey. A pity.

Alexander (2004)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A towering failure, 18 November 2004

Which is what Anthony Hopkins calls the end result of the ostensible historical Alexander's grand conquests, speaking for me and others in the audience as the movie ceased to string cliché after cliché after cliché together to make up interminable flat dialogue, delivered as if at an office coffee break, only Hopkins's rising out of the mundane into the presumptuously portentous. I waited for something decisive to occur, like maybe the cutting of the Gordian knot, but that wasn't scripted. Instead, I saw rebellions rise and fall like dormitory quarrels, odd leaps forward in time with awkward leaps backward too, and three or five interchangeable battles that consisted of blurred horses' flanks, hack and thrust, and weapons for show not use (pikes, much in evidence, are for foot soldiers to use to stop cavalry charges, the ends braced on the ground, not as seen elongated spears for waving in the air or throwing like javelins, fer goodness sake!). Even Vangelis music couldn't invest the flash-editing with excitement, because who could tell who won, and who cared). There IS one slomo shot of a horse rearing at a rearing elephant that's marvelously picturesque, almost worth half the price of admission, I must confess. But not the other half.

Then too, the film portrays confused sexuality apparently set against presumed Victorian family values -- that's Stone's confusion perhaps, since the actual participants of those days knew precisely the what and why of what they did with each other. A costume Machisti film surpassing "Cleopatra" in banality has at last been made, and without Elizabeth Taylor to help!

21 Grams (2003)
More seriousness and fine filmmaking but less profundity than meets the eye., 2 January 2004
9/10

The final question asked isn't what's lost (21 grams, yeah sure) but what's gained -- presumably by a lifetime of living and muddling through moral issues of guilt, conscience, revenge, self-justification, hatred, evasion, you name it -- given accidents that happen and the inappropriateness of virtually any response to those accidents, instinctive or deliberated, violent or forgiving. "Life goes on" and the characters -- if they survive -- bear up (and the women bear the next generation if they can). If not for the disjunctive time frame this would be a straightforward gimmicky though heavy melodrama (heart recipient seeks to avenge donor's wife's loss and muddles his own moral rectitude all the more), a "fatal and bloody mischancing of events" as Wm. Faulkner put it. I recall Faulkner also used disjunctive time frames to disengage the audience from a sense of fatality, affirming that we each make and endure our own lives as best we can.

I like the hard lighting and grainy texture, an unpretty world filled with unpretty people trying to be better than that and sometimes by grace and luck managing it.