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American Psycho (2000)
Did He Really Do It Or Was It All In His Head? (Massive Spoilerage)
At first the movie sets things up to make Patrick out to be a cold, calculating murderer who does his grisly deeds by night and mingles in his upperclass yuppy society by day. (By the way..."Norman", "Bateman"...these two names ring a bell?)
But then the clues start clashing. People claim to have seen Paul Allen, Patrick's first victim. The population of New York begins to thin out until only Patrick and his targets remain. Women begin to act like the clueless screamer's they're portrayed as in the horror movies that Patrick watches.
And then Patrick's world falls apart entirely. He goes through an eerily empty city, shooting everyone he sees, and walks away without a scratch. The next morning, the detective on his trail has mysteriously vanished, Paul is safely alive in London, and not even Patrick's lawyer is willing to buy that Bateman is a murdering lunatic.
Is this a movie about one man's decent into self-gratification and vicarious thrills through some really disturbing fantasy? Or a morality play about the lengths people can be driven to when they stop caring?
I dunno. I'd probably have to watch it twice. I'd recommend it to those who can stomach the violence, and definitely for anyone who can appreciate a multi-layered tale. I'd say it's worth watching for Christian Bale's scary, scary performance alone.
The Passions of Joan of Arc + flesh-dissolving alien (spoilers)
No, really. I saw _La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc_ with my roommate. Nearly all of the camera angles involving Ripley were copied from that movie, including:
1. The head shaving scene
2. Lots and lots of closeups of Joan's/Ripley's face
3. Being surrounded by bald, angry men
4. Death by fire
And notice that Ripley first wakes up in a place that could easily be the cell of a monastery (what in the world are stained glass windows doing in a prison colony anyway?) and the abundance of crossed-shaped objects.
As for the AIDS thing, I didn't quite see that, but my roommate commented that the entire Aliens series seemed to be playing on the fear of pregnancy. (There's something _living_ inside my abdominal area! Aah!)
Romeo Must Die (2000)
Yummy eye candy
Don't go into this movie expecting anything more than a good fix for your probably already short attention span. The plot was a bit shallow and entirely predictable (I guessed with relative good accuracy who would die and in what order), the character development could have gone further (I didn't care as much whether "Romeo" and "Juliet" kissed, but their relationship never really got off the ground), but the action sequences were engrossing and exciting. Not to mention there's plenty of funny scenes. Jet Li, who speaks almost no English, got mercifully few lines in which he deadpans the near-perfect reaction to the situation that he's in. The subtitles were a bit off in some places, but forgivable given the difficulties in translating Chinese to English.
The film editing for the fight scenes were a bit too much like _The Matrix_ for my comfort, though...but it was probably intentional. The on-screen violence is actually astoundingly mild given the premise of the movie, and is handled pretty tastefully.
All in all, a pretty good movie to watch if you want to be entertained.
Worth watching for the music alone
I don't get emotionally affected by movies often, but every time I watch -Ben Hur- I get a lump in my throat. The musical score for this movie is one of the best and most appropriate that I've ever heard. That, combined with genuine acting, fleshed-out, believable characters, and a great script, results in a movie adaptation which many believe to be superior to the original work. Those 4 hours go by a lot quicker than I thought because I was so absorbed by the movie.
Really should have been a mini-series
This movie not only suffered from excessive length but brutal cuts which left a lot of very important characterization on the editing room floor. Especially Marc Antony, who we only see as the drunken sod Richard Burton was in real life, when it would have been much more profound watch the shrewd schemer he once was become the wreck he turned into at the end. Only shadows of Antony's greatness existed in the movie, most notably during Caesar's funeral and after the battle of Phillipi. The first half of the movie easily outshines the second, with notable stage actor Rex Harrison as a commanding yet vulnerable Caesar. Perhaps, having seen him before in My Fair Lady, I am a bit biased in his favor, but his portrayal of Caesar steals the show. Harrison's Caesar is a mix of caustic wit, crafty calculation, and ruthless ambition, but at the same time an aging man who is all too aware of his mortality. He brought the best out of Elizabeth Taylor, not only by contrasting his age to her youthful beauty, but by being the perfect "opponent" for her political games. In the second half, though, neither Burton nor Taylor nor the two together could carry the movie. Burton in particular seemed to be only half awake in most of his scenes--in fact, he was known to miss shooting days because he was so hung over. The real life love between Burton and Taylor occasionally translates onto the screen, but the majority of the time the passion between them was overdone and melodramatic. Roddy McDowall was a stiff, slightly geekish Octavian, but all in all his characterization did not deviate too far from historical truth. Visually, the movie was captivating but occasionally too gaudy, Cleopatra's wardrobe being the strangest combination of opulence and extreme fashion designs I've ever seen. The cities of Rome and Alexandria, though, were beautiful and very well designed. The movie was almost worth watching for Cleopatra's entrance into Rome alone, even if the arch of Constantine exists three centuries too early. (Pay special attention to the assassination scene: It was choreographed exactly the same way in the 1957 version of _Julius Caesar_, which had the same director.)
Tenchi Muyô! Manatsu no Eve (1998)
Yet Another Tenchi Girl...with a twist.
The girl in question is Tenchi's self-proclaimed daughter, which of course sets all of the other females in a tizzy. A sweet, touching story about the power of love, and also contains quite a bit of character interaction that you might miss if you don't pay attention. Both versions are pretty decent, but purists would definitely want to go for the sub.
A great series unfortunately plagued by sub-par filler episodes
I've read most of the manga series before I saw the anime, so I was a bit disappointed by it. Since the anime came out at the same time as Watsuki was drawing the manga, there were many occasions in which filler episodes were drawn because the show had to continue. Not only were these fillers not in the original manga continuity, many of them were totally lame and poorly written. There are a few gems among these fillers, but for the most part the anime was at its best when it was totally true to the original work.
The voice actress (yes, actress) does a very good job as Kenshin when he's being serious, but in "rurouni" mode it becomes painfully obvious that she is a woman trying to sound like a man. However, many others are of the opinion that this is exactly what makes her the perfect role for Kenshin: she portrays the two sides that Kenshin embodies--the rurouni who has given up the killing sword, and the hitokiri still thirsting for blood--very well. If this gets released in the United States, I highly urge you to get the subtitled version, and I definitely recommend that you read the manga as well.
Kodomo no omocha (1996)
Shoujo Romantic Comedy On Crack (but I mean it in a good way)
Meet Kurata Sana, age 11, the lovely and talented star of "Kodomo no Omocha", a live television improv series. However, she is not exempt from attending school, and just so happens to share a class with Hayama Akito, any teacher's worst nightmare. Her "war" with him quickly blossoms into grudging respect, and finally to a deep, caring friendship as she draws him out of his shell.
So where does the "on crack" part come in?
Well, Sana contributes to a lot of it, talking at something like 200 words per minute and moving at speeds only attainable by consuming IMMENSE amounts of sugar. She also raps--rather badly--at some point in each episode. There's also Sana's mother, who is a bit...strange; her assortment of hats attests to that. There's Rei, Sana's "pimp" (or at least that's how the subtitles translated it) and agent. There's also Babbit, a strange but cute creature who pops up every once in a while to give explanations or commentary.
So far only available in Japanese, but I don't think any dubbing effort could do this series justice.
Nonstop laugh riot
To paraphrase the introduction on the video box: "In ancient times, stories abounded of brave warriors performing heroic deeds...this is not one of them." :)
Slayers makes fun of not only RPG/D&D anime, but everything else--including the kitchen sink. Jokes, gags, and rampant violence aside, though, this story also has quite a bit of drama and character development.
Personally, I felt that the subbed version was much better--Megumi Hayashibara is perfect as the cute but slightly underdeveloped (but don't say that to her face :) Lina Inverse.
Definitely a series worth watching.
Bishôjo senshi Sêrâ Mûn S (1994)
Best of all Sailor Moon seasons
This is surprisingly mature and deep considering this is a shoujou anime geared towards junior high girls. Themes include friendship, sacrifice, and, of course, the triumph of love over all. New characters introduced include Sailors Neptune and Uranus, who unlike the "Inner" Senshi do not hesitate to do what it takes to prevent the "Great Silence" of prophecy. Caught in the middle is a frail, young girl named Tomoe Hotaru who does not understand (nor wishes to understand) her pivotal role. Chibi-Usa also plays a much bigger role, especially in befriending Hotaru and awakening the truth within her. If you can, take the chance to read the manga, too. Naoko Takeuchi puts a slightly different twist into this series, and her artwork is much softer and flowing than in the anime.