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Sex and the City (2008)
It's not THAT bad!
Goodness! I came away from the movie feeling like love can conquer all, even after 40 - which for the growing number of single women in their 30s and 40s is a pleasant feeling! And why is it so bad these women wanted/didn't want a man in their lives? None of these women sacrificed being the 'strong' women they were in the series, they were still just as happy being successful in their chosen life path as before they found their men.
I admit, the premise for the 'gut wrenching' twist in the movie was very weak, but then, they always are in Hollywood. However, without whining about the other plot weaknesses, I'd still say I came away entertained and satisfied with the money spent. The moments where it felt like one big advert - well - they were trying to cram 13 episodes of fashion into 5 in a sense....
And as to the ending, I don't think anyone would have wanted it any other way - they would have felt more betrayed than the ending that did happen! Any other ending couldn't have happened without several hours of plot development, which 2.5 hours does not allow.
Just enjoy this movie for the frivilous fun it is! Sex in the City was never a deep metaphor for our lives today and neither is this film.
North Country (2005)
To close to the bone
This movie was set in 1989. I am a woman who started working in the mining industry in 1987 - half a world away in Australia. I don't know how much was 'embellished' for this movie, but it is frighteningly true of what the mining world was like then. In fact, they say at the start that the ratio if men to women in 1989 in the mining industry was 30:1. I swear, that ratio still hasn't changed much (but has changed for the better). Fortunately the attitudes of men have changed dramatically in that time - partly because of cultural changes, and partly because of someone like Josie, the lead character in this film.
This movie is about 1989, a time when the big mining companies - one of which is depicted in this movie - where largely vehemently against women. This movie is the result of a male culture and environment that thinks women can't drive a truck, get dirty, blow up rocks - that was all a man's job. Men in the mining industry in the 1980's really did maliciously plot against women - try to keep them out. When women started to take on these jobs, many men did not react well. Fortunately the number of men unused to working alongside women is on the wane. But back in 1989, this movie really tells you what it was like to be a female (or male) miner.
So this movie is about one woman who chose not to take the abuse anymore from her fellow male workers. It was horrifying to watch - because it happened to me! Not everything that happened to her, and I am at least able to say, for all their macho reputation, the Australian men never ever openly sexually harassed me the way the character was in this film (unless some ignorant engineer students counts). But the discrimination was real, very real. In this film, it was portrayed as sexual harassment - and I don't deny the character of the film was sexually harassed, but a lot of abuse stems from blatant, utter sexual discrimination. And nowhere is that more evident than the still-to-this day male-dominated mining industry.
Maybe it takes being a female in the industry to tell the difference between sexual harassment and sexual discrimination - but rest assured, it is still black and white clear in my mind to this day. If you are unsure - then you will be sure at the end of this film.
So for me, it was very raw watching the abuse Josie suffered because of course, I could empathize completely with the character. The reactions of those surrounding was also very real. It ripped open healed wounds in me to see the women not support her case - their case. That was as true then as it is now. Like her, the women feared for their jobs, the men didn't want to believe or support any 'problems' in the ranks.
I was much younger than the character in the film. I chose to leave the company and Australia - and ironically, fled to the mining industry in the US where Josie had, unbeknownst to me, paved the way for much fairer treatment of women in the workforce (or might have still been paving it since it was so close to that time...).
However, I do have to say I wonder how much was embellished for Hollywood because I never suffered quite the harassment she got. There were always gentlemen in the industry who would... well, I don't want to say stick up for you if you had decided to take on the company, but were certainly a 'safety haven' if it all got to much. Most men seemed to deal with the entry of women by adopting a 'just one of the blokes' attitude - and I admire them for it, because they were trying to deal with a change they weren't comfortable with, but in the end, we all got along.
So I want to say that this movie is raw, it cuts to the bone of what the industry was like then - how awful humanity can be in a so-called 'civilised' society. It should shame any man watching it. And I dearly hope it makes so many of the women who take their freedom today for granted realize it wasn't all that long ago, they didn't have the freedom. I think her father sums it up very well towards the end of the film.
And those women made a difference - they really did, and I and the many other women who followed, directly benefited from their action. Thank you.
It's a shame Douglas Adams didn't survive to see this film - in as far as film can do justice to the seemingly complex and random, yet deeply connected book, this film accomplishes it!
Critics who rubbished this film before its release, saying it was just a psychedelic swirl of mish mash clearly (a) didn't even bother paying average attention to the film and (b) hadn't read the book! I found the plot advanced at a perfectly acceptable speed, there were few totally screwball cuts from one scene to another - and any were in tune with the book and film plot anyway! This is not a film going to leave you coming out with a headache because you had to do something Hollywood makes you do like, 'focus' on the film. It was a fine comedy in itself!
MY only gripes would be with the cast. They were fine. Not perfect, just fine. Arthur Dent (Arthur Freeman) could have looked a bit more like he'd been ripped out of bed (the bathrobe looked to new), Ford Prefect (Mod Def) was probably the best portrayed, Trillian (Zooey Deschanel) looked like she was trying to be vapid, but failed (Kathryb Hahn from Crossing Jordan would have had that part nailed) and Sam Rockwell... It came as a surprise to me to read that Sam Rockwell was inspired to imitate the President of the US for his character was a bit interesting - the whole time I was watching him, I thought he was imitating Owen Wilson!
But, despite the minor character flaws of the actors, they were all working with a good script, good fx and the entire ensemble, both on screen and off, did a superb job of bringing Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy to the big screen! Certainly recommended for anyone who wants a comedy with a bit of difference!
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Poor editing (or lack of it) ruins documentary
I admit it - I walked out on this film. Not because I'm a raving Bush supporter - I'm not! I walked out because after a very strong start, this film just degenerated into what I guess was supposed to be meaningful footage which I guess was to get us thinking. But it dribbled on endless and was so poorly edited that after about an hour, I didn't know where the documentary was going anymore, didn't know why I was watching it and how it could possibly end. It should have ended with the Corporal saying he would rather go to jail then go back to Iraq - and then he gave his reasons. And the film hung there for a precious second - I thought this is it... Let it go right here and AGH! No, Moore went on. After what felt like 15 minutes or more, I left. This was going no where.
I felt (unlike many reviews I've read) that the film was much stronger in its portrayal of Bush and his family's connections and hopefully, opens the eyes of Americans to what many have seen overseas. Our press didn't stay as biased as long as it did in the US and it was soooooooo obvious what Bush and his administration were doing (except to politicians). I'm glad a lot of that came out (although how come the more 'powerful' countries like Australia and the UK weren't mentioned in his list of the "coalition of the willing???" I mean Mr Moore, we already know your film is biased, but you don't leave out vital facts like that!). I just hope Moore's message wasn't lost in the endlessly dribbling over Iraq. Maybe the other reviews were trying to be tacftul and say "if the Iraq bit had been edited as well as the first half, this one have been on scorching documentary that would have hit a home run with voters..." But if I was an American, I don't know if it would change my vote or not. Because I had to leave because Moore missed the right point to end his documentary.
Lucía y el sexo (2001)
Ok... Maybe I enjoyed this film because I clearly went to see it with a bunch of misconceptions... I thought (a) it was an Italian film (its Spanish), (b) I blanked on the ending of Lucia and for some reason thought it was about a guy... (and of course, Lucia is a girl...) (c) I thought it was about said 'guy' having a romping good time shooting through 3 girls. Clearly the movie review I heard was also a little confused!
Instead, I was really pleasantly surprised to find out that this was actually a really good, if somewhat unacategoriseable film! I mean there was humour, there was drama, there was defintely some plot twists, obviously some sex scenes and it was thoroughly engaging all the way through! I had to laugh though, although many complain about the gratuitous female nudity, this film did slip with the editing of the male nudity, making that seem gratuitous - but in an era where all the Hollywood actress spend half a movie naked and having sex with fully clothed men, it was nice just to see some male nudity (when was the last time you saw a post-80s Hollywood movie with as much male bare chest as in Ben Hur?!)!
Its very hard to write about this movie in depth - the plot does twist a lot - clearly evident by some of the reviews indicating the reviewer was defintely confused. I suspect this is because the premise of the film was to write a story where if you didn't like the ending, there was an escape hatch to return to the middle - which it did. However, the actors in this movie are so good, and the character development is excellent so that its hard not to get swept up in the gorgeous filming and unfolding plot. I really enjoyed this film, but if you like your adult films to be mindless fluff, this film isn't for you. But if you want to be entertained for 2 solid hours - this film is defintely right up your alley!
The play of "The Importance of being Ernest" is witty, bright, sparkling, bubbly and flows along at an enjoyable pace. The film is practically the same script as the play, but somehow, is completely lacking in life. I'd like to blame the Hollywood improbability of men in their 30s trying to seduce woman nearly half their age (with nearly everyone older by a number of years on their characters age), but... Or maybe I could blame the idiotic 2 girls who sat behind me snuffling and snorting and gasping at the twists throughout the movie, or the darling 8 yo who insisted on sitting next to me in an empty theatre - and have her mother endlessly explain the plot all the way through.
When push comes to shove though, I think it was Rupert Everett and Colin First who made this film so flat. Everett plays Everett doing what he always seems to do - playing 'frothy rapscallions' but its getting tiring, and Firth, fantastic as he is in playing the 'tall silent types' his not at his best when required to smile and do comedy. Like HP, it would appear new subtle elements need to be added to make a the original written word in a film, and going word for word from the original screenplay by Oscar Wilde while making a great stage play, does not necessarily carry as well to the big screen. After all, "An Ideal Husband" does indicate that Wilde can be brought to the big screen successfully!
Men in Black II (2002)
More laughs than plot
Despite have a much flimsier plot and no fantastic baddie alien (well, I thought the metamorphosis of the cockroach thing in the first film was hilarious...), its still a pretty decent film. Lots more laughs, and Tommy Lee Jones is if anything, even more perfect for his roll as the deadpan Men in Black agent than before... But, lots of laughs in this film - an enjoyable romp.
Minority Report (2002)
Inevitably, it will be compared to Blade Runner
Minority Report was one tight movie which will be loved by SF fans the world over, but listening to people exiting, I couldn't help but wonder if this movie won't get the credit it deserves...
The plot of Minority Report is brilliant. I haven't read the original Philip K. Dick story it was based on, but movie adaptations of Dick's stories are usually better on the big screen than reading his depressing tales. Minority Report is no exception - it loops and weaves, mainly in the realms of predictability, but then the element of 'choice' steps in and the final 20 minutes are completely unpredictable.
That fact that most of the movie is predictable doesn't really detract from the strong story - it just leaves you more time to focus on little details that make up this film - like the product placement... Although most of the products probably will be around in 2054, some raised an eyebrow or two! I'd like the watch though! The technology being envisioned for 2054 is also really slick - we'll probably be 90% there or have completely blown past some of the technology on offer. Can't see the huge magnetic roads coming into play though - too much capital would have to be found...
It was a pleasant change to see Tom Cruise in a movie where it wasn't "Tom Cruise playing someone with a different name" I'm not leaping up here and saying he can act, but this would be the first Tom Cruise movie I've seen in a long time where I was able to forget that I was watching Tom Cruise and actually believe in Jon Anderton instead. A refreshing change!
The thing that really urked me the most in the film was Spielberg's decision to run the film through the computer and strip it of colour to create that 'moody' atmosphere. We don't live in a blue and yellow world and I doubt we will be in 2054 either! It took a film that could have easily sat on the pedastal next to Blade Runner and made it into a weaker second cousin. Honestly, the sooner film makers stop running film through computers and fiddling with colour, the better! Ridley Scott made Blade Runner in full technicolor without stripping it of any colour, and it is the darkest, moodiest, most atmospheric film every produced - and that was made 20 years ago!
I'd recommend Minority Report to anyone, but if its anything like Blade Runner, I'll end up in the cinema by myself seeing it again until its re-released in 10 years time (and it would be nice if Spielberg added back the colour for that version...) when it will have found a cult fan base and respect in the industry for the decent movie that it is!
Epic story telling at its best
J.R.R. Tolkeins books were the first fantasy books I read as a young teenager. At that time, it was a slog to get through the books, and it put me off fantasy for about 5 years. However, I wasn't going to deny myself the film version 20 years later, and this film is a masterpiece!
Throughout the entire film, I didn't want it to end, even when I was begining to fidget (thank goodness for stadium seating being the norm nowadays!). When it did end, the film still haunted my mind and thoughts a week later, so I went and saw it again - a first for 3 hour films and me! Although the special effects seemed to leach the colour from our star actors from the moment their quest began (the only thing that irritated me...), the story is a powerful one and I found it impossible to not be sucked into the whole story. The actors were marvelous, but Ian McKellen as Gandalf deserves to be singled out for praise - his best performance yet! I was also glad that Elijah Wood got the role of Frodo - he is very good in it.
Nowadays it is rare that Hollywood produces a movie with a real story instead of some marketing approved concept - but thank goodness approval was given for this attempt for Peter Jackson to go ahead with his version. I would suspect this will not be surpassed until 3-D/interactive movies are made in the future...
An absolute must see for its sheer ability to sweep you into the story. How, I ask you, can we wait for the two sequel films?!
The Search for John Gissing (2001)
Blake Edwards meets Woody Allen
The Search for John Gissing is a fast paced film which would probably have been more suited to an audience in the 1970s than the modern day. The first 20 minutes or so were for this watcher, quite mortifying with Mike Binder doing what to all intent purposes seemed to be a representation of Woody Allen. That is fine if you like Woody Allen, but I don't...
However, after the opening sequence, the film picked up considerably with the best comedic scenes being reserved (seperately) for Alan Rickman and Janeane Garofalo. In fact, it was a shame they had so few scenes together as it would probably have made the film a lot funnier. Alan Rickman seems to be enjoying the migration from much-loved villain and period actor to contemporary comedian and he successfully adds a lot of warmth and humour to this film. Janeane Garofalo was under-utlised in this film, seeming to only play an exasperated straightman to the angst of Mike Binder's character. The rest of the supporting cast were great - although I would love to meet a London taxi driver which will take someone all over London for 35 pounds...
All in all, this is a warm and funny movie which will probably not get the recognition it deserves. However, this is a must see for Alan Rickman fans as he really is very good in this comedic role!