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6 reviews in total 
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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not all the magic has died in Hollywood..., 4 December 2002

Not everything in Hollywood has to be gratuitous sex and violence. At least that's what Monsters Inc. proves to moviegoing audiences of all ages. Animated by the now-legendary Pixar, Monsters Inc. tells the story of the best "scare team", Mike and Sully, in "Monstropolis" the world that exists on the other side of every child's closet door when the lights go out at bedtime. Mike and Sully's job is relatively simple; to make sure that each child visited by them is made to scream in fright, since Monstropolis' power supply is dependant on children's screams of fright to power their homes, heat, cars and so forth.

Monsters Inc. shows kids that the monsters in their closets are just workers like people in this world, and that their being scared is just average, work-a-day employment for an industry for which they provide a raw material. The film does this in a fun way that many kids can relate to, much like seeing mom and dad go to the office every day, with co-workers, time off and a old fashioned, stuffed shirt boss.

Mike and Sully's day to day routine is disrupted, however, by an adorable, chubby cheeked little girl named "Boo"., who thinks that the large, blue haired Sully is an endless source of fun and entertainment, following him through her closet to the scare factory, making the hulking "scarer" tremble, since he has been led to believe that a child's touch is fatal to monsters. He soon learns the truth, and eventually risks all to save little Boo and return her to the human world with the aid of his co-worker, friend and assistant, Mike.

This movie has something for the adults and children who watch it. Numerous "hat tips" to familiar adult icons of the entertainment industry, such as Harry Hausen and even the comedian Gallagher are interjected with tounge in cheek humour, where the kids don't have to understand the references... it's just another locale or funny piece of eye-candy for them. The real value in this movie is in it's replayability for your kids. If you have the DVD or video, you no doubt have a child who has asked you to let them watch it again and again. I know mine has.... the thing is, you *want* them to watch it again. It shows a tenderness and caring between charachters in their situations that, under the surface, transcends any differences. It doesn't matter to Boo that Sully is a great, big fuzzy monster with horns on his head, it';s his actions that she watches and his gallantry on her behalf that binds her to him as they go through their adventure together. And perhaps there's a message in there for all of us, not just the kids...

Brother (2000/I)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Kitano Comes Overseas With Understated Brilliance, 6 September 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Most of the people who will consider seeing this movie will have come in contact with Kateshi Kitano's other excellent works, such as Kikujiro and Hana-Bi. Some people will be puzzled by the "dumbing down" of Kitano's usual lofty intellectualism, insight and subtlety enjoyed in his aforementioned flicks.

What needs to be remembered here, is that this was Kitano's *first*, feet-first foray into the North American movie market, and given the great divides between Asian culture and that of N. American, compromises had to be made so that an audience of people, many who may have never been exposed to the traditionalized violence of the Yakuza culture, can catch on and not be left in the dust.

I'm sorry, but I can't understand the constant harping people in the comments area are making regarding "constant" violence.... Kitano's charachter gives a reaction for each action given to him... he gets ganked about Denny's ruined wine, he reacts, he is kidnappped, he reacts... For all intents and purposes, you will notice that Yamamoto (Kitano) is actually a very quiet charachter, he becomes the pivotal point around which action happens (not necessarilly instigating the action himself) and when he *does* have to act, it is swift, clean and without hesitation... A flurry of activity, before he is still again, very much like his past works in Japan.

One must also stop and notice the little details in Brother... One notices that when Yamamoto first finds his little brother, he is living in sub-modest digs and wearing the street clothes of the day... As the movie progresses, you see a marked scaling up... Armani suits, a new loft office as opposed to the ground level concrete apartment. This, of course, takes time in real life, but in Brother, you are taken along for the whirlwind ride to the top of the gangster food chain and it's lofty heights... It *seems* to happen overnight, and as with all things that seem to happen overnight, things can spiral out of control quickly. This is very evident with the metioric rise of the American Yakuza in Brother, and the watcher feels iand becomes part of it.


Towards the end of the film, Yamamoto's little brother goes back to the office and sees a group of dead bodies therein... If one looks at the bodies as they are laid out, the form the Japanese kanji charachter for "death". This is part of Kitano's finding humour in symbolysim...

Altogether, a great offering form a Japanese film master, who is trying to deliver a complex plot to people who may have no concept of the seedy underside of gangster life, Japanese style. Kitano merely needs to adapt to the North American audience he wishes to win over....

Fireworks (1997)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Breathtaking, simplistic beauty, 2 April 2001

Firstly, all of the Kitano movies I've seen, I've enjoyed immensely. When I saw Hana-bi (Fireworks), I was completely and utterly spellbound. Here was a lead charachter, exuding toughness and machismo, but then there was another side to him; a loving, caring side that gave of himself; for the injured friend and, ultimately, for the woman he loved, he would give everything. The most amazing thing, was that for such a strong charachter, he hardly ever uttered a word, which was utter brilliance. The strength of the charachter was brought to the fore by action and deed, the epitome of the notion that one's strength comes not from words but action. On the emotional side of the film, I can only say that when my wife and I sat down to watch this together, not knowing what to expect, at the end we were holding each other tightly and she had tears coursing down her cheeks. This movie satisfies both action and emotional needs of the viewer and superimposes it's varied themes in a seemless, interlocking fashion that doesn't leave the viewer wanting for either element.

Kikujiro (1999)
The positive side of Kikujiro no natsu, 1 April 2001

After all of the reviews I've read of this movie, I cannot belive the number of people that cannot see the postive side of this see-saw romp. First off, Beat Takeshi totally diverts from his blood and guts yakuza/cop formula to take on something new. Kudos for that alone! Next, did so many people miss the connection between Takeshi's charachter and the young lad who was put in his care? Their life stories were near identical (mothers abandoned them). Add to this the fact that Takeshi's charachter wanted to make everything right for little Masao, realizing that he had no real family of his own, he helps him make one! The bikers, the travelling poet, are all utilized to give little Masao something positive to remember about his youth (not to mention distracting his memory for his birth mother). It's a classic example of someone whose life has been like anothers, so wishes to make the other person's life better. I think one of the aspects of this movie that some N. American people may not get, is those where the ancient, kimonoed kami may appear. I took it a a challenge to find out what the signifigance of these references are, and for me, may hopefully shed some added insight to this film. overall, I found Kikujiro no Natsu to be a warm, humour filled adventure with the most likeable people in the least likely of places. If you wish to discuss it's attributes, please contact me.

23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Grave of the Fireflies, with a Different Flavour, 22 September 2000

Many compare Grave of the Fireflies with Hadashi no Gen/Barefoot Gen. While there are certainly similarities, such as the timeline taking place near the end of the war with Japan, the main difference is that Grave deals mostly with the inhumanity of the Japanese people toward their own kind, while Gen revolves less on this than it does the overall horrors of the after-effects of the nuclear blast at Hiroshima. The hooks used in the respective animes are thus, quite different. While Grave makes one shake their head and wonder about how humanity is sacrificed on the altar of survival and self-centeredness, Gen rests heavily on the outright horror that the dropping of Fat Man unleashed on an entire population.

Animation styles are vastly different also. Grave was made in conjunction with Miyazaki of studio Ghibli (Totoro), and thus was very polished in appearance. Gen, on the other hand, has a mostly "old-fashioned" anime feeling, reminiscent of the "Golden Age of Anime" in the 80's, using devices that are very manga; overblown representations of runny noses and buckets of tears from characters, for example.

In the end, Hadashi no Gen should be on the shelf of every anime collector. When someone says to them that anime is "just for kids", pop this in the VCR and show them just how in-depth, heart wrenching and thought provoking simple pen and ink cells can become. You will have to watch it twice; it's hard to get all the nuances while wiping tears from your eyes.

May contain what some consider spoiler material!, 10 September 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

When you rent a movie by a no-name studio (who's heard of New Look, anyway?) who has only a low-to-no budget to work with, you need to be forgiving. Once you get by the mediocre sets, the lack of (flashy) fashion in the wardrobe and so forth, The Prophecy is a very enjoyable film, giving the viewer a different perspective of the image of what people perceive as sweet, benevolent angels. Look for charachter Thomas Daggat's comments on what an angel really is, and *think*. The crux of this movie (and it's strength), is that it's thought fodder, not eyecandy. If a movie can make even a non-christian think about heavenly states of affairs, it has *some* redeeming quality, yes? Watch it for yourself, as this is one film that some people will rave about and others will shun. It's a matter of perspective...