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Shi yue wei cheng (2009)
I had the pleasure (but discomfort) of watching this on the plane from Taipei to Bangkok and have never been so engrossed in an in-flight movie. It was heartbreaking and exciting and, although perhaps slightly out of place, the action sequences were excellent. The acting was great and this may well be my favorite film so far this year. I am unaware as to how accurate the story is but I would bet it is much closer to reality than most "Based on a True Story"-type films. Another reviewer said they were expecting a Hong Kong "Gangs of New York" and I think it does fall somewhere near this but I would rewatch this film 100 times before watching "Gangs" again... this is mostly due to Cameron Diaz's atrocious performance. I hope this film receives a subtitled release on DVD as I will definitely want to add it to my collection.
Lady in White (1988)
One of the best ghost stories ever!
Some friends and I saw this movie in Yellow Springs, OH the year it was released, the week of Halloween. Try walking out of a dark movie theatre after this movie onto a deserted street in a small midwest town during Halloween and TRY not to be a little creeped out. Atmospheric and eerie without being over-the-top or going for the cheap scare, Lady In White was my favorite ghost story until I saw The Others. Being #2 isn't always bad. I just finished watching the new DVD release and it is a total must-have for a movie fan's collection. (The commentary, while straightforward, is worth a listen. The new print is beautiful as well. And what a great score... and so on.) Highly recommended!
Ring of Darkness (2004)
David DeCoteau strikes again!!
Anyone who has seen Voodoo Academy, The Brotherhood (I, II, III) and Leeches know by now what to expect... all others need not apply. Either you are along for the silly, campy ride or you're not: cute guys in a homo-erotic thriller setting. Nothing more, nothing less. Still not as good as Voodoo Academy or The Brotherhood II (or even Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama when David was doing more str8 T&A) but grab some popcorn, check your IQ and have a good time. (Plus, Adrienne Barbeau is worth watching in anything. And what is the kid from Baywatch doing now? Check out Ring Of Darkness ((awful, awful title)) and find out.
My So-Called Life (1994)
Happily, wishkah must be 7 years old...
or 70 years old... MSCL is still one of the best depictions of high school life ever to grace a major networks line-up... even Joan Of Aracadia has used it as a model. The episodes still hold up on DVD and as a high school teacher, I can say that I still see some of the characters from MSCL in my students... and in my fellow teachers. Some people just like to be negative to get attention. Go watch Degrassi instead... yeah, THAT'S realistic.
Big Fish (2003)
I think this is the biggest disappointment of the year for me. So many of the pieces of this puzzle are exquisite... they just don't all fit together. Burton's weirdness always seems to be at odds with the storyteller that is necessary to pull it off. Finney and Lange (who is almost unbelievably radiant these years... see Titus, see Normal) are excellent as usual. But in the end, the pacing and narrative flaws sabotage what is one of the most beautifully art-directed movies of the year. Sad but true.
The Battle of Shaker Heights (2003)
When I saw Chris Moore as I walked out the the theatre last night, he did not look that confident. But you could tell he cared. And I told him he had nothing to worry about. The audience really liked this movie. They laughed. They were silent in the more dramatic moments (although I still think they could have left in Shia's crying scene at the hospital... but not the group hug). They applauded at the end. I gave the film a 7 but it really could have been an 8 or 9 with a little more footage. You really like this kid (And Shia is truly going to be a superstar if he chooses his roles correctly... we need a new Dustin Hoffman anyway) and BOSH is not the disaster people seem to think it is. I know my show was pretty near capacity. Go see it!
Raising Victor Vargas (2002)
One Of The Best...
One of the best films I have seen in the past five years! The cast is universally spectacular in a tale of young love and bravado on the Lower East Side of New York City with the two leads being superstars in the making. Funny, charming, sad and inspiring, this is a totally refreshing take on urban youth that puts Larry Clark's often-nauseating shtick in the gutter where it belongs... although I have to admit that Bully was a cut above his normal fare. Raising Victor Vargas is one film you will kick yourself for missing... so don't miss it!
Don't expect what you expect
My friend didn't like it as much as I did... but he's wrong. A fun psychological horror movie is always welcome in my book! Especially if John Cusack is involved. Go in with no preconceptions and you will have fun!
The Safety of Objects (2001)
Book is better but...
Although not as powerful as the (actually unrelated) short stories in the book, Rose Troche has adapted A.M Homes admirably to the big screen... which I was positive couldn't be done. The excellent performances of the entire cast are what hold some of the more thin connections together and although I was personally disappointed by some of the changes Troche made, I understand the necessity to a cohesive narrative. Had I not read the book, I think I would have enjoyed the movie more so I highly recommend viewers and readers who crave great stories about dysfunctional suburbia to check out any and all of my favorite female authors work... beginning with The Safety Of Objects and The End Of Alice.
Hable con ella (2002)
Weakest Almodovar Ever!
Despite what everyone else might tell about the depth or beauty of the story (and pathos) presented here, this film was a predictable, slow but well-acted mess! Normally, I am first on board to rave about the latest Almodovar but this almost put me to sleep... there is slow and then there is butt-numbing. Sadly, this is the latter despite great performances from the lead. And the "twists and turns" of the plot could be spotted even in my sleep. Sorry Pedro... bring back the quirky if this is what the serious you has to offer.