Reviews written by registered user
|13 reviews in total|
Memoirs of a Geisha is certainly a gorgeous film to behold, and it
deserves all of the awards it earned for those feats. There were scenes
I found I wanted to freeze and hang on my wall. Unfortunately, the
actual film isn't as rich as its imagery. It's entertaining, to be
sure. But without the rich details the book provided, the whole thing
seems somewhat frivolous. It almost plays like a particularly exotic
I do not fully understand the hubbub over the casting myself. The film certainly does not feel authentically Japanese and in fact, there are many scenes and touches that can almost be considered anachronistic. But I felt that in itself didn't detract from the film. As an American film-goer, I am quite used to people of different races playing people they are clearly not. I have witnessed too many bad accents to count, so I was not distracted by the un-Japanese-ness of it all. I am, however, not Japanese.
That said, I think everyone does a fine job of bringing the characters to life, and I think specific mention should be given to Youki Kudoh in the thankless roll of Pumpkin. What keeps the film from being truly great is a distinct lack of grit and toughness. The film never really gives the impression that being a Geisha was all that bad. Whenever our heroine, Sayuri, runs up against what must be some of the considerable cons of the business, even she seems surprised. "You mean there's a downside to this whole quasi-prostitute thing?" The cleaned up Hollywood ending wants us to believe things are left bittersweet, but it really comes off just sweet. Like Pretty Woman in a kimono. The book had a melancholy grace that the film just lacks. Worth a rent if you've read the book, but if the movie hasn't yet piqued your interest, don't give it a second thought. You're not missing all that much.
I loved this movie as a kid, as did just about every person I know. So
it works for the youngins. As an adult, and an animation fan, I was
surprised to learn that this movie is sort of the Disney studio's
secret shame. I had nothing but fond memories of it, after all. And I
could name at least a dozen Disney films that I would have put ahead of
it on my Most Crappy list. I very recently watched it on television
after many years, and yes, it is definitely flawed. The quality of the
animation is terrible, and the lack of an over arching story makes the
whole thing seem frivolous, like it was made for TV and not for a big
studio release. There are holes in the narrative, scenes that should
exist that don't, and scenes that have no reason to exist that do. And
I think the somewhat random decision to cast the film with animals
lends to the Saturday morning vibe as well.
But there's enough cool things peaking out from under all the half-assery that rescues the film just enough for it to be enjoyable. Peter Ustinov turns in an excellent, excellent performance as Prince John, at turns hysterical and genuinely nasty. Brian Bedford oozes easy going charm as Robin. He's probably turned in the second most likable performance of the character captured on film. He's just unfortunately delivering it through the poorly animated mouth of a cartoon fox. And though the actual quality of the animation is poor, some of the character animation is pretty clever and expressive. And I have to applaud the choice to add Roger Miller to the mix as a folkie, possibly pot-smoking minstrel rooster. His character adds a cool, Earthy vibe to the proceedings and as others have mentioned, his song, Not in Nottingham, actually sort of works as a blues song. Weird.
So Robin Hood is definitely not the epic tale Disney was capable of churning out in its hey days, but I dug it as a kid, and I still dig it today. You know, looking back at all my reviews on this site, it seems I mostly leap to the defense of classically bad films that I like anyway. That's OK, I guess. Someone has to.
I watched this film about a thousand times when I was a kid and upon a nostalgia induced viewing of it on the Disney Channel, it has joined my list as one of the most oddly pleasurable films ever made. First of all, you have to give it credit for its premise alone. Take a standard road trip buddy picture and cast it with talking household appliances. Acid induced? Maybe. But they take this ridiculous premise and roll with it, turning it into something that is honestly funny, sometimes sweet and strangely enough, kind of thought provoking in it's own way. The dialog is almost Toy Story sharp at times, referencing everything from Joan Rivers to Teddy Roosevelt, and just like it's computer animated descendant, throws around some heavy ideas. We watch as cars reminisce about their glory days before being crushed into cubes, look on in horror as appliances are gutted barbarically at a used parts store and root our quaint heroes on as they are confronted with the techno marvels of the modern age. The characters just struggle to get home but the movie is about the struggle to stay relevant when you're constantly being replaced by a faster model. An interesting idea when you think about it, and a fun, cool little movie worth seeing no matter what your age.
In the long, endless, steaming pile of crap that has been the summer of 2001, Jurassic Park 3 manages to share the same niche as The Mummy. It's bad, but not so bad you want to cry. More like, "Ha! That was bad but so humorously bad I can't actually say I was not entertained." What do I mean by that exactly? Well, take Eric the Dino Boy, who somehow by the age of 11 has acquired the survival skills to live 8 WEEKS by himself in the jungle, no problem. Also note that his parents are worried enough about him to kidnap a paleontologist and fly to a dinosaur infested hell hole to search for him with nothing but a megaphone and a flashlight, but not quite worried enough to look for him sooner than say...8 WEEKS! Then there is the touching love story that develops between Dr. Grant and Billy the Intern, and by the time we get to the ringing dinosaur (and the world's most durable phone) you just have to sit back and let the stupidity take control. Is it a good movie? Heck no. Are there worse ways to spend a rainy afternoon and $5.50? Heck yeah. You could see Tomb Raider for example.
The first half of Moulin Rouge is pure genius. I've heard several reviews that say the exact opposite, but I have to humbly disagree. The movie starts out as a dizzying, energetic trip of a movie that somehow manages to be both a parody of musicals and a tribute to them. I have never in my life seen a group of people have more fun on screen than the cast does here. And the music is simply brilliant. It's a celebration of the pop music of the past couple decades. It's an ode to how cheesy it really all is but how much it moves us anyway. `Elephant Love Medley' had my friend and I doubling over in fits of delighted giggling as we recognized each song as it burst onto the scene. `Like a Virgin' rivaled the best of Monty Python's musical numbers and `Roxanne' manages to be funny, sexy and tragic all at the same time. The club itself plays like a megamix of the past century; seamlessly blending disco with Nirvana, Marilyn with Madonna and kitschy 70's rock with Nat King Cole. And then we get to the second half. The songs become less frequent and the obligatory tragic ending begins its downward spiral. The life just gets sucked right out of the film. It suddenly feels unfocused, but not in the frenetic, hyper, joyous way of the first half, but more in the `we have to cram three hour of plot into one hour of movie' way. This is a movie that should have the audience dancing out of the theatre, but instead it's ridiculously down ending had them staring blankly at the screen. Even the most tragic of stage productions has a curtain call. One last blast of music that gets the audience back into the giddy artifice of the Broadway Musical, one last audio rush that inspires the masses to give standing ovations to pieces that may not even really deserve it. This is sorely lacking from Moulin Rouge. The movie is the film equivalent to Pop Rocks. It's a party in your mouth for the first couple seconds, and then your tongue gets all scratchy and you suddenly want a drink of water. In spite of this, I highly recommend this movie. I think pretty much everyone will enjoy at least one half of it, depending on your tastes, but the whole still must be seen to be believed.
I dare anyone to hate this movie. Come on. I triple dog dare you. Sit in front of the TV with a bunch of your friends and just try not to like it. You can't. It's impossible. I was a full fledged turtle fan back in the day (I don't think the fad lasted long enough for us to earn Trekker-type names) and of course at that point, I thought it was the Gone With the Wind of our time. That, obviously, it's not. But there is something just incredibly charming about a bunch of giant turtles acting like typical sit-com kids. One even gets yelled out for sneaking out past curfew to see Critters 2. If it comes on TV, even my dad has to pause to watch at least one fight scene. If someone in a college dorm pops it in, legions of kids will exclaim "Holy sh*t! Is that Ninja Turtles?" and then plop right down in front of the TV to watch. You have to give a lot of credit to the guys who made this film. It was released in the height of the craze so they could have thrown anything on the screen and it would have been a hit. (See Ninja Turtles 2). But instead, they tried to make it the best film they could, despite the subject matter. They came up with an almost relevant, after school special type plot. The jokes and references range from Moonlighting to John Steinbeck, and the fight scenes are done in the spirit of a Jackie Chan flick. Add the fact that there are giant turtles doing the fighting, and you get a funny, imaginative, and just plain likeable movie no matter what your age. Sure, it's about pizza loving ninja turtles. But it is the best movie that could ever be made about pizza loving ninja turtles. That has to count for something.
Or at least maybe saw the subtitled version of this movie. I can't help but think that something was lost in the translation. I've always been a casual anime fan, feeling that as in all things, there are some great examples and some real crummy ones. Visually, this film will knock you on your butt. I actually made little gasping noises at some points because of the sheer beauty and inventiveness of what I was seeing on screen. As for the actual story, I couldn't help but feel that something really important was going on behind all that nonsensical and bland dubbed dialog that I was just missing. I really couldn't tell you a thing that happened in the entire second half of the movie. People were screaming, many things' heads were being chopped off, there was a lot of blood and a half-assed love story while everyone switched sides about nine times and then the confrontation dissolved in some sort of quasi-truce that really seemed to leave everyone right back where they started. Oh. And conserve the Earth everyone! There is a possibility that I am just an idiot. But many of the other reviews indicated that the dubbed version attempted to dumb down Japanese mythology so that we Americans can understand. I think they should have left well enough alone because the current translation is a mess. I am not willing to count out the film just yet. But I think I would recommend viewing the subtitled version to those who haven't seen it yet, if it is even available. Those are usually a little more literal in the translation. Worth a viewing for animation fans no matter what, though. Visually amazing stuff.
I'm sitting here reading all the negative reviews of this movie and I have to laugh. Hey guys...it's a comedy! Is it intellectual humor? No. Is it clever and sharp satire? No. But did I laugh when Bill Murray had his little bit in the prison cell? Yeah. Did I chuckle every time The Creepy Thin Man sniffed his little wad of hair as a throw back to every weirdo evil henchman in every spy movie ever made? Yeah, I did. I even laughed when there were obvious and gratuitous close ups of the girls butts FOR NO REASON. It's funny. It's goofy. Hell, it's The Chad. Not to mention the action scenes, which many criticized for ripping off The Matrix (duh. that was the point), boasted some impressive fight sequences. The sheer fact that one of them was staged to the song Smack My B*tch Up by Prodigy should give you a good idea of the intended tone of this movie. And if that didn't clue you in, the several dance numbers and the most random and nonsensical reference to the moonwalk ever put on film should pretty much confirm that this movie has it's tongue placed firmly in cheek. Relax. Call the girls (or guys) over for some pizza and beer, pop in the tape and enjoy yourself for an hour and a half. Then if you like, you can get into a deep sociological debate on feminism in the new millennium to balance out your intellectual karma.
The one question I seemed to ask myself over and over during the course of this film was "Why?" Why ask why? For example, why did we spend a good 45 minutes on a plot point that went no where (Pazzi)? Why did Verger talk like Larry Flint? Why killer pigs? Why was Ray Liotta's character even in this movie, other than to have an excuse for the infamous "dinner scene?" Why did that scene exist to begin with? The movie didn't seem to flow logically to that point, or to any other point in the film. What was the point of the film? Was there an actual plot somewhere along the line that I just missed? My friend said to me on the way home that the whole thing played like an episode of Tales from the Crypt. She could not have been more correct. Go to the film expecting an over-acted, far out, ridiculous, but hysterically funny in parts, campy gory romp, and you will not be disappointed. And you know what? There is really nothing wrong with a campy gory romp. Unless of course you are expecting a sequel to one of the greatest and most intelligent movie thrillers ever made. Kudos to Ridley Scott for making the movie look beautiful. The man makes blood squirts an art form. As a stand alone piece, Hannibal is stupid, silly fun. As part of the Silence of the Lambs legacy, its a travesty.
...or homoerotic, for that matter. Finally, a director has decided to not only make a movie based on a comic book, but also has decided to take it seriously. Many past directors have always seemed almost embarrassed of the fact that their main character is a man that dresses like a bat or a pretty boy in blue and red spandex. The people and stories are then treated as these campy jokes. It's insulting to anyone who reads the comic, and to people who expect a high-flying action flick and get cheesey one liners. Brian Singer is the first director that doesn't seem embarrassed by his subject, and it helps. I am not a "fanboy" or at least I wasn't before the film, so I had no reason to feel betrayed by the little differences. But even the most hard core comic fans have to admit that no one was shamed in this movie. All the characters were treated with respect. Some were under-used, but that is not the same thing. There were no groaners as far as the dialog goes (with the possible exception of Storm's "do you know what happens to toads that get struck by lighting?" line. what was that?), and the villains didn't dance around screaming "I'm so eeeeeeevil" a la Batman. I think the comic fans should rejoice! Plus, not for nothing, but don't you think it is a bit daunting to include 30 or so years of backstory into one movie without tweaking information or consolidating characters? I think they did a fine job. Just thought I'd give my two cents on a great little movie, simply cause I can. God bless the internet.
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