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Million Dollar Baby (2004)
I know perfection is a hard thing to achieve... some may argue that it's impossible... maybe, but this movie is one of the closest things you can get. Eastwood is like a good port wine, or a good scotch whiskey, it get's better as it ages. Far from the cold hard look of it's Dirty Harry or Sergio Leone's westerns, Clint has become a man with a very personal and always emotional view on human relations. From the wonderful Oscar-winning Unforgiven, to the beautiful Bridges of Madison County or the powerful Mystic River, Clint Eastwood always shows us a human story with some unresolved, deep, old wounds from the past that haunt the characters throughout the entire movie. And he is always able to touch the most inner feelings of ourselves. Million Dollar Baby is probably it's most accomplished movie. Great actors, great script and a master's touch make a must see for everyone. You will stand up in cheer and like someone close to me once said "You'll want to shout it's the greatest movie of the last ten years, even if it isn't true".
And it starts!
João César Monteiro was one of the most controversial, exuberant, strange, mad, awarded, blessed, genius, talked about, extraordinary Portuguese movie makers of all time. And maybe one of the best directors in the world. I know it sounds ridiculous at first, but he is a man with an unique view on the world. And even though his late movies can be repetitive ( he was stuck on a character, he was stuck on the image of himself)he has made in his career some inventive and touching films. This is one of those cases. When I was a kid I used to see some movies over and over again. From great classics like Rio Bravo to the blockbusters of the time like Superman. And I saw them time and again, repeating the parts I liked the most. It was so with Silvestre. This is the kind of movie (if you see it with an open mind, it's a theatrical film) that will take you to a wonderful journey of knights and adventures. See it and let the magic carry you.
The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
It was already there...
The Phantom Of The Opera is one of the most popular and long lasting tales of our time. The musical is one of the most perfect work of art of the world stages. But all of that was already there. Now the rest... well the rest is the problem. Emmy Rossum was a fair choice, she can sing and is believable as Christine but the two male leads were a complete miscast. Butler is, for starters, too young, the Phantom is supposed to be about the same age (a bit younger) than Madame Giry, and is obviously not the case. He looks like an 80's playboy and can never fully transmit the scope of emotions the character requires. Patrick Wilson is even worse, having the look and the acting ability of a "Baywatch" star. And Schumacher swings between the good (great opening scene)and the mediocre. Still Leroux's play and Webber's music are always worth watching in spite of everything and always transmit a powerful feeling at the end.
Christmas with the Kranks (2004)
Read the book!
What do you get when you take a brilliant novelist who wrote something different than what he is used to, a boring director turned screenwriter and a producer that sometimes thinks he's a (terrible) director? Nothing worth watching! Tim Allen as never been a great actor, but Jamie Lee Curtis should have known better than this. A good, satirical, intriguing and well written story is turned into a stupid, basic, ordinary, repetitive and predictable succession of situations where the actors make complete fools of themselves and the audience is bored to death. I saw it last night and there were twenty people in the theater, three of which left in the middle of the movie. After 50 minutes I thought I was about to pass out! Still it gets better in the last 20 minutes and the lovely Julie Gonzalo is always a a pleasure to look at...
Tim Burton without... Tim Burton!
If someone had blinded me and took me to a preview of this movie and told me it was a Tim Burton movie I would have believed it. Still, in the end I would have left the theater with a bitter taste in my mouth. I mean the story is good, thanks to Lemony Snicket's (Daniel Handler) books, the sets are great, Jim Carrey is more calm than usual (thank god!)and Meryl Streep is wonderful as always. But still something would still be missing. The first thing I would notice would be the music. Far from Tim Burton's long time collaborator Danny Elfman, Thomas Newman in this case delivers a straightforward score with nothing to be remembered by. And you look at Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, The Nightmare Before Christmas or the incredible Big Fish you start to see the difference. After all Brad Silberling is the same man who gave us the poor Casper and the remake of the Wim Wenders classic Wings of Desire called City of Angels, that was once again a watchable movie but far from Wender's genius. Still it's a good enough movie for the holyday season so... have fun.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
OH MY GOD!!!!
I'm a horror fan. I've watched and enjoyed every horror movie I can get my hands on, from Halloween to Jeepers Creepers. And I'm always looking for the classics. I've seen the oldies (Universal movies), Hitchcock films and everything since. Halloween is a great movie with a unique use of the camera to create suspense. Friday the 13th is a good follow up to the genre with a nice twist at the end. Nightmare on Elm Street has the greatest villain ever created with a completely new notion (you die in your dreams). Hellraiser takes you to an incredible crazy world of gore. The Shinning is touched with the genius of Kubrick. And I could go on and on, quoting classics and discussing the reasons why they became cult movies for hours.
But this? What the hell is this? How can this underdog movie become a classic? How can someone like this stuff? Terrible acting, even worse effects (if you don't have the money to do it right, DON'T DO IT!), the story has more holes than swiss cheese and the ending is just ridiculous! The more I think about it the more I hate it. I never understood the "so bad it's good" concept. This is so bad it's bad! The humour in the film is not intended, it's there because Romero made a laughable attempt at a scary flick. He is the Ed Wood of the seventies. If you want to laugh a bit then watch a TROMA movie!
Zivot je cudo (2004)
There is nothing worse than a talented filmmaker that is trapped inside is own creation. Emir Kusturica is one of those cases. He reinvented the way comedy is done, he showed the world a new approach on making movies. But now... what once was funny, now is stupid, what once was powerful, now is ridiculous, what once was deep, meaningfull but yet entertaining, now is just superficial and cheap laughs. The man that brought us movies like Underground is now reduced to a pale, shallow imitation of himself. Even the music suffers. The brilliance of Goran Bregovic is now replaced with a boring repetitive tune that plays on and on through the entire film. If you're a die hard fan of Kusturica's movies go ahead, but for everyone else, please stick to the good old ones.
Shark Tale (2004)
Hit, hit, hit!
This movie is, as of now, a box-office hit, and seems to be on it's way to become one of the years top hits. And rightly so. It may not be as clever and surprising as Shrek, or as picture-perfect as Finding Nemo, but it's a well written, funny and heart-warming film. The choice of actors is fantastic (Scorsese is amazing), and the whole movie is set in a simple plot, but with some very ironic jokes, making fun of several movie "clichés", specifically the ones in witch the actors have starred in their careers. Kids will find it fun, and adults will love it, having spent an hour and a half filled with good and unexpected laughs (including the sweetest shrimp that ever lived). Be sure to watch it, and bring the entire family with you.
Shrek 2 (2004)
Wonderful solid fun
Ok, I have to admit that the surprise is gone. The original Shrek was irreverent and made fun of all the children stories known to man... The second one is on the same line but by now you expect it. Still it's been a long time since I've seen an entire theater laugh from the start till the end of a movie. Wonderful new characters (you have to love the pussy in boots), superb animation and a all-round well made movie for everyone to enjoy. But please, whatever you do DO NOT read any comments (like this one) before you go see the movie, it can ruin it for you... And watch the credits until the end, there are surprises... Enough said, just enjoy the film, it's guaranteed to make any blues just fade away!
This is NOT a horror movie!
Identity is not a horror flick. This is a mix of several genres, from thriller, to mystery, a who'dunnit with gore. But still a very surprising movie. Normally I don't respond well to movies who lie to the audience, who show a whole story and suddenly, in the end, without warning just say "oh well, after all it was nothing like that at all, the guy was just asleep!". Hitchcock once said you should never lie to an audience, you should never show something that isn't true. It's one thing to tell a lie in a movie, the other is to show it to the audience as if it was the real thing. It's the easiest trick in the book, of course you'll be surprised, anybody will. To understand it better see the difference between "The Usual Suspects" and "Seven". The first shows a story that wasn't there and in the end pulls a rabbit out of the hat(easy!). The other builds up to an explosive and unexpected finale without any cheap shots, it just carries you through. With Identity the movie suddenly pulls a fast one on you and leaves you wondering... But Mangold doesn't gives the twist at the very end, and keeps a tense film until the last frame. It's a worth see, inventive film and with a great cast to back it up.