Reviews written by registered user
vanrosss

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19 reviews in total 
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Fakers (2004)
12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
The whole very large audience was laughing frequently., 4 April 2004
8/10

With multiple twists and a skewed comedic narrative, this art forgery crime caper keeps itself interesting even though we have seen the genre. The crime boss may steal the show, but a lot of work goes into setting everything up. The main characters have their own quirks and history which makes them more believable as movie characters although not with enough individual development to make us really sympathize with them. The third level characters continue the pattern of individual variation which makes for some more comedy and uncertainty as to the next event. The whole very large audience of over one thousand people was laughing loudly and frequently. Definitely worth checking out if you get the chance.

Otomo (1999)
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Well filmed and acted even though the story is a bit forced, 9 June 2002
3/10

An illegal immigrant resists the social support system causing dire consequences for many. Well filmed and acted even though the story is a bit forced, yet the slow pacing really sets off the conclusion. The feeling of being lost in the big city is effectively conveyed. The little person lost in the big society is something to which we can all relate, but I cannot endorse going out of your way to see this movie.

5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
An important but rare find, 13 May 2002
8/10

A couple years after the Korean war, Seoul has only begun to be rebuilt. The first parts of the city reconstructed are for the few wealthy while the majority of the people make do in their squatter huts. The hardships and anxieties of the social and economic devastation are played out by a few people trying to better themselves and those just trying to get by. Hopelessness and chronic unemployment lead to alternative attempts at income and normalcy which trigger a downward spiral.

Review: It was banned in Korea because it was so realistically stark in it's post war depiction. It was similar to and inspired by Italy's "The Bicycle Thief," but not as good. The film was pretty dark so the titles showed up even better. You could see that the locations were real because of the adaptations people had made in their shanties were so numerous & functional. The disparity between the barely haves & have nots was a source of conflict shown by the rubble which also representative of the human spirit. The cinematographic efforts were clearly present, but it was obvious there wasn't much experience with the tools of the trade on hand. The individual character development was complete in that the many problems exemplified by the individuals seemed to be a basic part of their make up, and it was the subtext to their every action. The pacing felt a bit slow at times, and the direction seemed to be trying to copy the film's predecessor rather than break wholly new ground. This film was certainly ground breaking in Korea; that is of course why it was banned. The many actors became their characters and successfully showed their struggles as individuals with their own ways of coping.

Unfortunately, this is not on video, and is a very rare find in the States even though it is such an important work.

The Debut (2000)
decent & worth watching for a first effort, 12 May 2002
6/10

A young Filipino American man is the families touted trophy child as they believe him to be going to college for pre-med. His sister & some of his friends know that he wants to be a student of art. The sister is making her formal debut/birthday party where all the family and friends gather to celebrate. The conflicts with in the younger generation, with in the older generation raised in Filipino culture, and the conflicts of expectations of both generations erupt at the Debut.

Wry humor through out keeps a light mood even though there are some darker and more intense moments. Although this is the director's first work and there are some problems, the over all effect is good. The framework of Ben's life is developed enough for the audience to understand his motivations. The parents are well acted, and their development is mostly left to the pretense of the audiences own experiences in a successful manner. The appreciation of their parents culture is subtly developed by some characters while others are too self involved to see the world around them.

Many famous Filipino actors are featured in this work, and it marks the first time that all four Basco brothers have appeared together. The very diverse music put to use in this film was primarily from Filipino musicians, and it is well suited to the story. This film is playing in very few locations which are listed at the official site. It may or may not make it to video.

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
Twisted violent comedy mocks self involved entertainment culture., 18 April 2002
8/10

This was the US Premiere that I saw in Madison Wisconsin at the Orpheum - Stage Door Theater. This twisted violent comedy has continuous laughter as the story progresses further and further over the top. When there's a slow down in the contract killing business, a famed assassin teams up with a studied assistant director of film to improve business. They begin to market contract killing as a fashionable consumer experience. They include for the customer, a high quality production video of the hit. Consumerism takes over with advertising gimmicks. "The more you kill, the more you save!" The high society women compete with each other to see who can order the best assassination. Competition heats up as a very big hit comes up with very picky parameters. Events get out of hand when priorities are brushed aside. "It's not fixing, it's post production!" Tat-ming as the video director is really the foundation of this movie. His acting is strong in this role, and as he warps, so do we. Be aware that a lot of murders occur in this solid comedy with a multicultural comedic score, but see it if you can.

5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Mockumentary about both unemployment and destructive corporate greed., 18 April 2002
6/10

Film maker Philippe Falardeau mixes mockumentary about unemployment with a political statement about the destructive corporate greed of capitalistic politics. He filmed this in 1999, but it does not represent a specific year. The audience enjoyed this tale of foibles encountered in his roommates quest to end unemployment with the 'right' job. The absurd pickiness of Engineering job ads was good for laughs, but it's truth was rather revolting. This story was inspired by the director's real former roommate, and was his statement of complaint of about how "when you loose your job, you loose your social identity," and the systemic destruction that goes with that loss in modern globalized society. This French language film was made in Quebec and will be released in France... with French subtitles. The acting is very natural, and the locations fit the story well. This is well filmed, a good story, and worth seeing.

Falardeau said that the story was obviously made up by the end because nobody's life could be that bad. Of course until then, he hadn't met me.

Manic (2001)
31 out of 34 people found the following review useful:
An open examination of teenagers with destructive mental illness., 18 April 2002
9/10

An open examination of teenagers with destructive mental illness, societies need to create and control them, and their own quest for control in their lives. The pace is consistent, and the direction is strong and steady as the audience is made to feel like they are directly observing the story unfold. Teenagers who are real patients for the same kind of mental illness helped out in the coaching of the actors which made the improvised work that much more stark. Digital film making heightens the sense of reality since it is used in a documentary style within a good set.

The casting was excellent as each member of the ensemble portrayed their character with depth and individual motivation, and they all interacted believably.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Lyle Jensen sets himself apart from all his previous roles. His portrayal of a disconnected youth full of vague rage and a low threshold for violence gave him many subtle challenges to which he arose. His subconscious search for meaning is the pavement upon which our journey is taken. Don Cheadle is one of the best yet most under appreciated actors there are. His conflicted Dr. Monroe keeps the balance as he tries to manipulate these kids to self control as he precariously avoids the demons of his own past. Michael Bacall plays Lyle's institutional friend Chad. He is great as the basically nice guy with the realistically subtle bipolar disorder who has his own conflicted agenda. Zooey Deschanel's Tracy is a depressed teen with crushingly low self esteem. Her beauty and kindness are in contrast to the others as we struggle to understand her cause for being committed. Sara Rivas maintains balance well as she plays the wannabe hardass Sara who is recovering from severe drug addiction. Sara is destructive to herself, but she does act somewhat as the nurturer for the other patients, especially the meek Tracy. Cody Lightning is compelling as the quiet and messed up Kenny who is also the youngest patient in the wing because he is so messed up. Elden Henson is successful in making the audience completely hate his character Mike. He has problems similar to Lyle plus he behaves ghetto to compensate for his self identity. The Lyle versus Mike conflict is the driving point of the story because they can't escape that what they hate about each other is that within the other they see themselves.

This film describes mental illness for youths in a raw upfront manner that Hollywood could never handle, yet it is to be seen.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A hilarious psychological comedy that is worth finding., 18 April 2002
8/10

A hilarious psychological comedy where 4 Calgary coworkers bet on who can go the longest without going outside. The exaggerated personality degradation and hallucinations are funny and successful at drawing the audience into their warped world. There is a glass ant farm that is shown often as an allegory to the people living in the channeled tubes of sky walks & high-rises, and it serves a narration at a couple points. The actors did convey a sense of disorientation from having been indoors for 24 days, but it seemed from their behavior that they were indoors somewhat longer. The story takes place in one fateful day when several big events occur that they can't fully handle because of the bet induced stress, but a critical enlightenment is also realized. In this 18 day low budget shoot, the location and background information are left fuzzy intentionally as are the costume changes that occur randomly. This was shot in DV which made the post production effects much easier on a budget, so they are used with good results throughout the story. Film maker Gary Burns feels that the sky walk system "ruined down town Calgary," and even the title is part of his film statement of "modernization gone terribly wrong." This movie is worth going to see if you can find it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
even worse than I had expected :(, 22 December 2001
2/10

The problems with this flick pretty much doom it despite a few good performances. I saw it in a theater of about 90% college women, they hardly laughed at all, and they didn't like it either. The same audience liked "Bridget Jones's Diary" better, and at least that was more entertaining. The director needs to reevaluate their career, and so does the writer. The whole time travel element was done well and appropriately for a romantic comedy. Leopold's disaffection for the status quo in 1876 makes headway, but is unable to save this mess from 'death by chick flick.' I felt embarrassment for those involved with this attempt. The heavy pre release advertising only confirms that the studio knows they are not going to be getting any positive word of mouth.

Meg Ryan plays Meg Ryan with all the skill and diversity of Freddie Prinz Jr. It was painful to watch her scenes. Hugh Jackman does well playing the stock character of Leopold, but it was too predictable and flat of a story for any real performing. Breckin Meyer as Charlie the brother of Kate, was the one supporting character that saved it from being a total bomb. His scenes, and those of Roebling's mighty erection are about the only worth while parts of the flick. Natasha Lyonne did well as Kate's lackey assistant Darci, and almost seemed as desperate to prop up this flick as to prop up her boss.

Do not waste your time or money on this!

*It is very unusual to alter a movie AFTER it has been publicly viewed. They are taking out the ancestor connection between Stuart and Leopold, so that Stuart didn't date his great great grandmother for 4 years. They will also remove the scene with the films producer 'or' director where he argues with Kate about the results of a focus group of a film in the movie. That scene was the best scene in the movie, and critical for Kate's later action.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Overdone to evoke the harsh concept of disconnectedness., 11 May 2001
7/10

The situations are conspicuously overdone to drive the underlying story, but the side walk interviews do succeed in neutralizing this potentially myopic trap. Writer/Director Burns illustrates the concept of friendship separated form love which is separated from sex.

He shows how everything is incomplete and even hollow if those three critical elements of a relationship are way out of balance. A sufficient background is developed for the characters to understand their motivations and what led their lives to this point, but there is a reliance on the audience's own knowledge to complete the concept which may make this movie suit the 25 and over crowd.

The web of deceit is spun into a fable where the guilty learn their lessons as they cause the innocent fall from grace. The movie is nearly two hours long, and does feel a little slow, but Burns put in what needs to be there to make his view of neo-post-love sexual relations work.

Stanley Tucci had the busiest role as the two timing dentist with his affair on the side. Even his affair is knocked aside when it is inconvenient. Heather Graham finally gets to display her ability to act. She effectively takes her character through the biggest transformation in the story which could be an allegory for modern society's excuse for love. This will feel slow, but the purpose of that will become more apparent in the end.


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