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47 reviews in total 
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48 out of 107 people found the following review useful:
85th best movie of all time? Gimme a break..., 7 September 2007

Geez, IMDb has become incredibly unreliable. There used to be a time that a high rating for a movie meant something. Nowadays it's pretty much standard fare for anything that's popular. This movie, while I can see why many would like it, is average at best. Too many people with undiscerning taste coming in here and giving 10s to every movie they watch.

As fort he movie: Predictable, formulaic American/Hollywood approach to animation. Not very funny either (I think I gave a minor chuckle once). I'd give it a 3 or 4, but given all the 10s given by people who probably don't even watch many movies outside the Hollywood establishment, I'll do my small part in trying to bring sanity back to the IMDb rating system.

Oh a cute little rat! He acts like people! He talks! He has emotion! He loves his family! Give that baby a 10! And let's give American accents to all the main characters, so that the movie doesn't feel like it's really set in France.

King Kong (2005)
24 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
About 90 minutes too long, 7 January 2006

I have nothing against long movies. But if you're going to go to 3 hours, you better have 3 hours of material. This movie lacks the emotion of the original. The acting ranges from mediocre to horrible (Kong was the best performance of the bunch). Peter Jackson's obsession with dinosaurs, special effects, and drawn out action scenes leaves him little time (despite 3 hours) to develop the characters, create real emotional bonds where we care about them (did anyone care whether Adrien Brody or "Jimmy" got killed?). What was the point of Jimmy? Either use the story or drop it! The only characters given ample time to develop were Jack Black's (and his over-acting was too comical to be taken seriously) and Naomi Watts (who was unable to move beyond a very mediocre performance - see Fay Wray's original performance for real terror acting).

Every action scene went on far too long. They were all too implausible to be enjoyable. A film like this requires suspension of disbelief, but you want to believe that the characters are really in danger and somehow manage to escape. What Jackson did is have characters enter a situation that they could never survive (for example being stampeded by hundreds of giant dinosaurs) and then when it was all over, they pick themselves off the ground and dust themselves off. What?

The first hour is good, but it's all downhill after that. 4 points for a good buildup, but -2 for taking 2 hours to ruin it.

13 out of 92 people found the following review useful:
worst reality show yet, 12 July 2005

As hard as it is for me to believe, with all of the awful reality shows out there over the past few years, this one has to take over the top spot for worst one yet. I am still wondering if this was actually just a spoof done by the SCTV gang. If Andy Kaufmann were still alive I'd be sure he was behind this. Can a rock band stoop any lower than has INXS to do such a shameful thing as this? The premise is simple and moronic. Audition a bunch of karaoke rejects to become the new lead singer of INXS, to take the place of Michael Hutchence (who committed suicide in 1997). Eight years and no hits later, the band commit the ultimate act of patheticness by subjecting themselves to auditioning a bunch of talentless wannabes to be the new lead singer of a band that is 20 years past its prime. So they trot all of these awful singers (I thought American Idol had its share of doozies) who do atrocious renditions of just about every classic (and predictable) rock song imaginable. And then they cut to the INXS band members who are seriously discussing the merits of each of these candidates. You could see better (and more original) rock performers at just about any night club in any city in the world.

It has all the usual uncreative elements of every other reality show. Lame reality participants, lame interviews, lame host/emcee, lame "judging" of performances, and the lame booting of one participant at the end of each show. Can these shows get any more predictable? It's clearly a publicity stunt on the part of the band; a last gasp of hope at rekindling their lost stardom before they are finally buried into oblivion. Michael Hutchence, if he had any shred of dignity when alive, has to be rolling over in his grave. Not that INXS were ever a great band, but I had no idea they were this pathetic. If INXS are at all representative of what rock and roll has become, this show would be the final proof that rock and roll is once and for all, dead.

Zatoichi (2003)
11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Delightfully perfect, 27 May 2004

What a fantastic return to form for Japanese director and creative renaissance man, Takeshi Kitano. Zatoichi excels because of its break with conventions, mixing humour, dance, slapstick, and theatre with an otherwise tense and violent plot. This film breaks the art-house tradition by going for the jugular with its entertainment value, yet it never stoops to the level of Hollywood triteness. Some may complain about how this Zatoichi isn't consistent with the original Zatoichi, but that was done by design. Kitano set out to create his own story, his own character, and his own version - simply using the legend of Zatoichi as the most basic blueprint from which to start. He deserves credit for creating something new and innovative, even when working with an old story. The dance scene at the end is phenomenal and very directly (and intentionally) reminds movie goers that you are there to be entertained. The best film I've seen this year and among Kitano's best, and that's saying a lot.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's the casting, stupid, 21 November 2002

First let me say that I really enjoyed this film. But...

I know Juliet Taylor is credited with casting Woody Allen movies, but my hunch is that it is the man himself who has the last say. And somebody needs to tell Woody that he is mis-casting his films into mediocrity! In particular, it is his casting of women characters that is abysmal (surprise! surprise!)

It's been said a million times before, but Woody Allen playing the comic, but still romantic lead to actresses as young as Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron, and Elizabeth Berkley just comes off as laughable. Is his ego so fragile that he cannot cast a more believable (and usually better) actress in these roles? It's either that, or cast himself out and put in someone around age 40 in the male lead role (see "Celebrity" to see that this is the lesser of the alternatives).

He did the same thing in his most recent film, "HOllywood Ending", where Tea Leoni plays opposite him in the lead. It's not just the age of these actresses (though that is part of it, he is anywhere from 25 to 45 years older than these women), but also they just don't "look" the part. If you MUST pick a younger actress, must she also be blonde and glamourous looking?

I can't help but think that "Curse of the Jade Scorpion" would have been a much better film (and funnier too!) if he had cast someone like Julie Kavner or Tracy Ullman (still younger than Woody, but less glamourous actresses with infinitely more comic talent - see Small Time Crooks and Don't Drink the Water to see how it can work). Either that or pick someone really close to his age - does he have something against 50+ actresses?? There are plenty of talented and available women out there. They are surely more talented than the ones he is casting now, and they fit the roles infinitely better.

Woody, grow up already, you look silly being told by a beautiful woman of 29 that she'll be your date only if you give her a wedding ring to go with it. A line like that either comes from an aging spinster desperate to get hitched, or made only to a gorgeous sexy and charismatic man.

2 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Giving away the farm right from the start, 19 October 2002

Although Tsui Hark did not direct this film, he did produce it and he wrote the screenplay. And "Era of Vampire" reminded me a lot of Hark's last film, "Time and Tide". The two films had nothing in common in terms of plot, but both movies tried to cover up their weak scripts with frenetic action sequences, cacaphonic noise, and Baz-Luhrmannesque editing.

The film starts off interestingly enough, diving right into an action sequence involving the first of many appearances of the monster, in this case it is a vampire/zombie. Rule #1 broken: in a horror flick, never show the monster, and certainly don't show it in the first 5 minutes of your movie. I guess he might have been able to get away with breaking this rule, had the monster become increasingly frightening over the course of the film. But in fact, the action from the first sequence was not only as thrilling as the rest that followed, but it was also far superior to the anti-climactic final showdown.

Director, Wellson Chin, also does a good job of putting over the human characters after the initial opening battle. In particular, a scene that brings one of the four warriors face-to-face (literally) with his love interest was very cleverly executed.

But after these two initial scenes, the film steadily goes downhill. The story meanders about, providing little fodder for suspense, thrill or engagement. Each action scene seems like a repetition of the ones that preceded it. By the time you get to the final showdown, you've lost alot of interest. And instead of re-engage the audience with a finale that brings in something new, we're treated to just another scene, like all the others. You get the sense that the film is trying to appeal to the West, capitalizing on the success of the flying martial artists in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". But unlike action films from Hollywood, this film's final showdown is a huge, anti-climactic letdown.

Where most films save their best for last, "The Era of Vampire" gave it all away in the first 15 minutes. Unfortunately, they forgot they had another 90 minutes to fill. 3/10

Ten (2002)
39 out of 43 people found the following review useful:
9 times out of 10, it works... not a bad ratio!, 8 October 2002

The front-page review of this film simply doesn't do this marvelous film justice. Renowned Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami takes an innovative approach at giving us a very deep glimpse not only into the life of mother and child, but also into Iran, its society and the situation of women transitioning to a more assertive role in society (however, I don't think one should be confused that the issues women face in Iran are not relevant to women elsewhere in the world, including the West).

The film has two fixed camera angles, one giving us a view of the driver-side and the other a view of the passenger side of an automobile. The driver is a mother who has left her husband and now resides with her new lover (she is the common thread in all ten "episodes"). Each sequence places a different person in the passenger seat, with particular emphasis on her son (who rides in four of the 10 scenes, if I'm not mistaken).

It is this mother-son relationship that is at the crux of the film, and for good reason. The performances of these two characters was nothing short of amazing. The boy in particular, with every eye-twitch, frown, smile, and outburst was able to convey a frighteningly realistic portrayal of a boy who is all at once obstinate, angry, disrespectful, and immature, yet still sweet and somewhat an innocent victim of the situation. He is unforgiving to his mother for walking out on him and "breaking up the family" and is reluctant to accept any explanation his mother offers. They trade barbs and though the love is there, you can see the seeds already planted in the young adolescent of a society that subordinates women to their male partners. Here, it is so profound that even a pre-teen lectures his mother on right and wrong.

The mother bounces back and forth between defending herself to accepting blame, showing the cracks of guilt that clearly lie beneath her composed and beautiful surface. And it's a beauty that her son can't recognize: she's a sexy passionate woman with needs of not just a mother but also as a lover and a liver; but like all children he can only see her as an adult and a mother.

The other key character involves a friend who desperately seeks a life partner, but finds herself unsuccessful at every turn. Most recently, a man she has been seeing tells her that he cannot marry her because he does not love her. She coyly reveals from under her veil that in her grief she has shaved her head completely. This act is astonishing not because it is defiant but because it is terribly charming. She can't offer an explanation as to why she has done it, but no explanation is necessary. Who hasn't at some time when an ego has been made fragile by rejection, sought to change hair, clothing, face, self? And it is with this scene, with veil pulled back, that the woman's beauty is uncovered, not because we see her hair or her bald head, but because of the insight the shaving act gives to her character, and her innocent embarrassment brings a smile to her tear-stained face that lights up the screen.

I give the film a 9 and not a 10 because of one sequence involving a conversation with a prostitute in the passenger seat. Presumably the driver has given a ride to hitch-hiker, leading to an intelligent conversation/debate about the world's oldest profession. But this scene seemed a little out-of-place, contrived, and added little to the more general theme of the rest of the film. This one slip-up notwithstanding, "Ten" is a creative and wonderful experience for film lovers who seek something out of the ordinary. And it has a final scene which punctuates the film perfectly.

5 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
awful, 21 August 2002

What a terrible film. It tries to be funny... it's not. It tries to be touching... it's not. It tries to be an action film.... it fails. This film is all over the place and nothing works. The editing is possibly the worst I've ever seen, and the plot is ludicrous. The acting isn't particularly bad, but basically you have what could be a Korean boy-band trying to pass themselves off as a 4-man professional assassin organization. I sat there dumbfounded as people all around me were laughing at the most inane attempts at humour. Total dud.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
In the tradition of "This is Spinal Tap", 14 April 2002

This is a self-reflexive narrative movie about a filmmaker who wants to make a 'reality' docu-drama about a (relatively) typical family in Japan. He has convinced a former porn actress to volunteer her family to be the subjects, and they half-willingly go along. The film follows the film crew's shooting of the film in which all of the family's dirty past is uncovered through a variety of emotionally charged "half-scripted, half ad-libbed" scenes.

Of course it is all fiction, but the premise of it being filmed as a documentary is actually pretty convincing and entertaining. You almost begin to feel that the characters are in real life really who they are portraying in the film. Although the film centers on the non-pornstar daughter as the main protagonist, it is the characters of the mother and father who really steal the show. You can't help but feel both pity and disgust for the two of them as each of their faults are unabashedly thrown out on the table and exposed for everyone to see. Yet their past mistakes are revealed in a way that also exposes their humanity. As these selfish individuals grow old, it perhaps becomes easier to try to forgive them and hope that the future will be better.

The film probably teeters a little too much on the melodramatic in certain scenes, but even as a fake reality show, it's a lot more entertaining, interesting and realistic than all of those reality shows we are presently being bombarded with. (7/10)

The Score (2001)
Of scores, heists and eleven frat boys, 19 December 2001

In a period of about two weeks I've watched three heist movies, and this one is the best. Not that "The Score" is a great movie; it's a good movie, entertaining with competent direction, enjoyable dialogue and solid acting. Some have commented about the slowness of the film and the lackluster performance of DeNiro. I disagree on both counts. The slow pace was perfectly suited to building up suspense on a psychological level. One of my favorite scenes in the film is of DeNiro hanging upside down for what seems like an eternity, wrapped in his thief garb and sweating profusely. He doesn't say a word, but you can see in his eyes that he is thinking "I need to pull out". (I actually wish he had pulled out - that would be an interesting twist on the genre).

Marlon Brando playing the flamboyant aging backer was effective and the scene of he and DeNiro in Brando's master bathroom was one of the best moments of the film. It was in scenes like these where I really felt that DeNiro, however, proved his mettle as a great actor. He doesn't ever wave his hands or raise his voice. He just has a way of turning out a phrase and making it come out believable. Here he is tempted to back out of the plan, but caves into a desperate plea; again I think the film would have taken a more interesting route had he backed out and the story could have gone on from there.

Ed Norton is a decent but highly over-rated actor. I'm not sure why so many were so captivated by his performance in this film; I'm assuming it was his "retarded" act, but I still don't see what was so wonderful about it. He plays his role well enough, and nothing more to say about it. Angela Bassett's character as the token girlfriend was a complete waste and was almost as lame a female character as Julia Roberts' character in "Ocean's 11". I think we need some smart women to make movies in Hollywood, cause the guys are living in 1950.

I liked the scene at the park... nice tension. I didn't like the computer-geek hacker. He seemed like a character out of "Ocean's 11" and totally out-of-place in this more serious film. If only "Ocean's 11" had one or two good characters like this geek, it might have been a tolerable film.

That brings me to the inevitable comparison with the other "score" films ("Ocean's 11" and "Heist") and why "The Score is much better than both of the others. "Heist", like "the Score" had a core of good veteran actors that keeps your interest. But it also stars two horribly cast young performers that simply cannot keep up with the likes of Gene Hackman. David Mamet's dialogue is so self-consciously trying to be cool, but only comes off as corny 90% of the time. As far as "Ocean's 11" is concerned, there's not much to say about that monstrosity. It is the movie equivalent of a frat party, and like all frat parties, I can't imagine anyone but the members of that frat enjoying it. What a waste and insult. Hard to believe that Steven Soderbergh could make a remake of a bad film that's even worse than the original.

See "The Score" and enjoy the ride, but even though you have good performances from greats like DeNiro and Brando, don't expect this to be a classic film. It follows many conventional formulas of heist movies, it has the requisite twist at the end, and the actual job is full of holes. But it's entertaining in its convention and done well, and with modest expectations, it delivers. (7/10)

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