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The Road Ahead (2000)
awesome road trip documentary
"The Road Ahead", together with "De Poolreizigers" is truely one of the best pieces of television I have ever seen. It is a documentary about and made by two life-long friends who hitchhike the world (in "De Poolreizigers" they travel from the South to the North Pole) with each a minimum of money and a digital camera. These two lads are REAL friends and have had a bit of experience already what hitchhiking concerns, but nonetheless these travels are struggles from the moment they wake up (if they are lucky a bed, if they're not lucky... somewhere.....you don't want to be). BUT these guys sure have had an experience like WOA!!! I also like the fact that these dudes are NOT doing this for the money. Awesome road trip documentary. (I seriously laugh my *** off every time I see this series!)
Belgium goes Argento
Verheyen, the director of this much discussed thriller, is an avid fan of B-horror/thrillers films. If you're not down with that and you haven't seen for example Italian cults like the Argento films, I understand that this film is pretty strangely build up. Also in ALIAS nothing really exciting seems to happen at first sight. It's the last part of the film where Verheyen suddenly changes course and shows us some really sick characters and bloody situations and then you realize (or you should realize) that all the small situations the personalities have encountered led to a finale so in-your-face for a Dutch public. ALIAS has a strong Argento touch in the psychology and story telling (e.g. Terror at the Opera). I liked it.
Sealed Cargo (1951)
one-sided, but has its moments
This is a low budget espionage action-thriller about a fisher boat that gets involved with the smuggling of bombs by the Nazis. The movie feels as if it comes straight from the RKL assembly line, but has indeed a bit of of flair due to the tension and action that kept me glued to my seat. The story is a bit one-sided since there's not much more than the action and espionage intrigue. Little time has been made free for romance for example. So, a B-movie that is not too corny and with a bit of flair. * 1/2 out of ****.
The Destructors (1968)
THE DESTRUCTORS is like a comic book. And a really bad comic book at that too. It all looks like a spoof from a James Bond movie (all-American hero gets all the girls and must get his hands on a weapon of mass destruction), but it's not meant to be funny . The acting is dull and the point of the story got lost in trivial situations filmed by amateurs. Only the music is pretty good and doesn't seem on it's place in a movie like this. 60ties detective stories: it's not just boy's fun...
way below standards
There was more potential in this thriller, but we're left behind with the results of bad acting, no creative twists or story layers and weak dialogues. The musical score does lift some scenes up though and the overall look from MILO has a certain flaw to it due to the independent character (a "US" independent character). I've seen worse, but it's not worth your time unless you're a real fan of teenage slashers and the likes.
Early European drama by a master.
NANA is a dramatic love story by Renoir, one of the few directors that understood all aspects of cinematography. For me, these early mutes are the reason why cinematography is also an art form. Much more then the money driven "products" that came out the last years (spending millions on 1 film, but not including a story?). NANA only strengthened that opinion. It's certainly not the best film from the thirties I've seen. I find some scenes too long for that, but it's still very good. The sets are inside the hotel and house are amazing, the plot is strong. The actor that played Muffat is the best I've seen from that generation of films. I'm not really a fan of films that have a dramatic love story as a starting-point, I find it quickly too slow, but that's just really un-PC from me. ;) 6.5/10
WINDTALKERS can not match up with the others.
Woo is one of the biggest trend setters in the action genre, but after seeing WINDTALKERS I can only say he's far from the quality Mallick or Spielberg can deliver. WINDTALKERS wasn't that good. It wasn't about war. WINDTALKERS is a fairy tale wrapped up in a WW 2 jacket. It includes too much mellowness and predictable situations that only work in Woo's THE KILLER and HARD-BOILED. Also the Japanese enemy soldiers fall like flies (1 bullet for 7 enemies?) just as in the early Woo films. When American soldiers are hit it ... goes in slow-motion. Seems to me not much thought went into the characters and even some scenes seem to be cut and pasted together in a quick way. John Woo is one of those directors that shouldn't have gotten into Hollywood. I expected more from this and if you know what war movies came out before WINDTALKERS you will be slightly disappointed too.
Let me tell you a little story...
..., once there was a stunt coordinator who did pretty well in his job. Stand-ins for some of Hollywood's finest and helping them with fight scenes. Then, one day, he becomes an insider and realizes that he has some good connections with the right people. If he handles it carefully, he can make his OWN MOVIE!! Why not? He has been on enough sets to know how it goes! Making a movie? Piece of cake, dude. So, what do you need? A story. Or no. No story. Van Damme is at an all time low, but he still has the name that can be placed "above the film title". And every action fan knows Universal Soldier, so there we go! Let's name this horrid waste of time Universal Soldier: the return! Can't believe I almost sat this one through! 1/10 (can't we go below zero?)
Huo shao hong lian si (1994)
Finally my HK expectations are met!
I have always been keen on watching Hong Kong movies, but all of them failed to meet my expectations...until now! BURNING PARADISE doesn't contain the flat humor most HK movies have, nor a second rate story line that has been dragged into the film. The story is not complex, but there are never scenes that are just there to fill some "intelligent" space (the only truely intelligent martial arts film I have seen is CROUCHING TIGER, but since Hollywood is involved it is no true HK movie for me). There are some incredible fight scenes in this movie, from the first one(which is one of the coolest I have ever seen, yet so short) to the last main scenes! But mind, there's also a lot of blood that flows (people cut in half, decapitated, etc). The production is pretty good and the special effects show that the fantasy of the writer can be fulfilled even though some shots must be pretty technical (notice: the sheet of paper that he throws and got pinned into a wall!). Yep, it's not Tsui Hark or John Woo that made my favorite Hong Kong film, it's Ringo Lam! And I'm sure as hell going to check out more from this director! Ace.
Reign of Fire (2002)
ashes to ashes
REIGN OF FIRE is an average to good apocalyptic drama with an original plot: twenty years after a dragon-attack (awakened after some million years of sleep when they made the dinosaurs extinct) survivors have trouble to hold their ground. Due to time and production limits the full potential of the story couldn't be reached. That doesn't mean that REIGN OF FIRE looks crappy. Not at all! The special effects are very nice and not overdone, but I've got the feeling this could have become a great epic adventure with a profound list of characters and storylines if they had 2 hours more. But time is money and director/producer Bowman did a fine job all in all.
I like the way REIGN OF FIRE has a certain realism and there are moments when the setting (moisty and foggy UK) gives the film an independent look. Everything isn't as shiny and polished as most Hollywood special FX apocalyptic crap. This film is serious and doesn't overdo the use of dragons and special effects to raise the action. Not every dragon attack is as impressive as the other, but the psychology between the main characters can save some moments. REIGN OF FIRE deserves a 6/10.
On a personal note, I think it's a pitty that Christian Bale plays the main role, because I have troubles watching that man play after I've seen the terrible movie that is American Psycho.