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Phone Booth (2002)
Strange concept that really works!
Phone Booth has a fantasically strange concept and I was
intrigued by how they were going to pull it off. But director Joel
Schumacher and co. did, they really did.
I felt that Phone Booth was done in a realistic fashion with hardly
any cliches, and it actually made me think what I would do in the
same situation. Indeed, it was one of those rare movies that had
me squirming around in my seat wondering how on earth Stu was
going to get out of the booth alive! There were also humorous
moments every so often to help relieve the tension, and I gratefully
laughed in appreciation of the temporary release before being
drawn straight back into the anticipation of it all. Multiple camera
shots were used to show all the main characters points of view, as
well as some split screen work to show what was happening in
the street and in the booth. I was impressed by the film making
techniques, and I definitely felt the suspense and tension were
there right through until the very end.
Phone Booth is definitely a unique film that conveys originally
entertaining ideas right through until the end. The film was
reportedly shot in just 11 days, which clearly adds to the superb
tension of Colin Farrell's performance. Indeed, I have newfound
respect for Colin after seeing Phone Booth and plan to check out
more of his work. There are solid performances all round, and
Keifer Sutherland's voice as the caller is fantastically creepy.
Phone Booth is definitely one of those movies you have to see to
truly appreciate. It is a truly entertaining ride from beginning to end.
Gangs of New York (2002)
Confronting drama that's definitely worth it!
With Gangs of New York, I believe Scorsese wanted to make a confronting drama with enough realism to shock and hopefully even educate the audience. It is a movie you have to think long and hard about, and so yes, it can be a difficult film to follow. However, if you give the movie your full concentration, it's definitely worth it.
To me, realism was what Gangs of New York was all about. Maybe I'm wrong - maybe Scorsese didn't make a film that was entirely historically accurate. I can't say because I don't know the history of that time. However, from what I've read about his passion for this project, I would like to think the story was set in an accurate historical setting.
The cinematography was amazing, and the set design breath taking. I read that Scorsese insisted that huge sets be built, rather than relying on the ever increasing popularity of digital sets. I admired him for achieving such a realistic setting. In fact, in several scenes, I fully felt like I was right there in New York slumming it on the streets of Five Points. It was a chilling experience, that's for sure! But also a rather exhilerating one, as it helped me get involved with the story and feel more for the characters.
The violence - yes, there was a lot of blood and gore in this film. And it's the violence that seems to have annoyed many people. But again, I think the violence contributed to the realism Scorsese was trying to convey. Back then, New York really was that violent, and the people on the streets were exposed to it every day. I believe that since Scorsese wanted the audience to fully realise what it was like on the streets of New York, then this is what we needed to see. It takes a brave director to shed blood so openly onscreen, and I commend Scorsese for not attempting to make it less gorish than it really was.
The acting was superb - I couldn't fault anyone. Daniel Day Lewis certainly stood out as Bill the Butcher and gave a masterfully chilling performance. I also liked the way Cameron Diaz portrayed her character. It could have been a kitsch role, but Diaz gave Jenny depth and compassion, which made her all the more believeable and likeable. I am glad the character of Jenny was included to show life in New York from a female perspective, and what the women of that time had to go through as men behaved crazily around them.
Finally, I'm happy to say that Leonardo DiCaprio's portrayal of Amsterdam has given me even more faith in his acting ability. After seeing his great performance in Catch Me If You Can, I was expecting a brilliant role in Gangs of New York, and that's exactly what I got. I am now very confident that Leonardo will make a perfect Alexander in Baz Luhrmann's upcoming epic, Alexander the Great.
The Hours (2002)
Absolutely stunning, well worth the effort
The Hours is an absolutely stunning film. It is definitely not your typical Hollywood movie, and I've noticed it's being playing in both mainstream and art house cinemas here in Australia. This is probably deservedly so, as this is a deeply contemplative film that may not be suited to all.
The film takes the viewer on a highly emotional journey as we view the world through the lives of three women in different time frames. In doing so, we are presented with an intimate opportunity to delve into the thoughts and desires of each character. I was stunned at the amount of emotion that the film successfully conveys. I was crying at the situations of all three women, and thought all actor's gave stellar performances.
The Hours is a film that makes us think about our own situation, both socially and mentally. It confronts us with the struggles of the women in each time frame, and makes us realise that certain restrictions imposed on them still exist today.
Nicole Kidman gives a brilliant performance - her facial expressions and body language said it all. Her entire performance is so deep and moving that I really can't understand how anyone could doubt her ability as an actress after seeing this film.
Julianne Moore is equally impressive. She too is a stunning actress who makes her characters so real and emotionally moving. Her character in this film is no exception. I found myself fully sympathising with her character, recognising the confines of her life and relating to her desire for a more fulfilling existance.
I would recommend this movie to anyone who is prepared to watch it with an open mind, concentrate on what the film is truly trying to convey, and not pass judgement before putting yourself in the character's shoes and trying to imagine what they must have felt like in their particular situation. To me, the film as a whole is a very worthwhile experience.
Fortress 2 (2000)
Not as good as the original...
I had no idea that a sequel was even being made to the 1993 movie until a few days ago. I arrived at the cinema complex where I work and was totally shocked to discover that a Fortress 2 had been released! The film was officially released in Australia on 2. March, 2000, but I'm afraid it hasn't been too popular...
We're only screening it in one small cinema and, so far, we've probably had about 200 patrons in four days (and that's being generous). Considering the fact that our largest cinema seats 500 for one session, this is not good popularity odds.
It was released suddenly, without advertisements or even posters. You could tell from the start that this was going to be an unfortunate, B-grade sequel to the enjoyable, well planned original.
Still, I thought I'd give it a go. I loved the first film and Christopher Lambert had returned to reprise his role, so I thought why not?
Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. The script was very lame, with characters suddenly having the "convenient" skills to make an escape possible at just the right time. Not much planning went into set design. There were very little of the fancy, modern gadgets of the first movie, and you can tell they were cutting costs. Much of the film was computer generated to cover the missing pieces. As for the plot - it was far too unbelievable and, dare I say it, actually quite boring.
This time, the prison is in outer space (!), and instead of those little metal tracking devices used in the first Fortress, prisoners are given a "behaviour modifier" than is implanted in their brain. These ones definitely can't be removed.
It is a rehash of the first. Christopher makes some friends inside, and then they help him to escape. None of the characters other than Chris are very likeable, and I found myself not really caring if they survived or not. Chris seemed to just cruise through the film without much effort - what more could he do?