Reviews written by registered user
john_ccy

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6 reviews in total 
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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Started Out Strong But Ended on a Whimper, 2 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I actually enjoyed most of the movie except the last 5 minutes, which ruined everything for me. It's a pretty serviceable PG-13 horror film otherwise. There were several effective scares (albeit not of the torture porn kind) mostly just the jump scares kind, but also some real one too (with knives, etc.) This movie is clearly targeted at teenage girls and to get a PG-13 rating, so if you go into it with that mindset the scare level is pretty decent and what you would expect for a PG-13 movie.

Now onto what I hated about the ending: *****MAJOR SPOILERS ALERT (i.e. the entire ending)***** I have to say, the ending was very disappointing and made me feel that I wasted the entire movie worried about her soul getting taken by the devil, since in the last resolution scenes, the way the movie portrays it, it didn't seem so bad for her after all.

She graduates as the valedictorian, ends up with a hot boyfriend, becomes part of the popular crowd, and it's implied that she'll go on to a life a privilege, power, and position. Big deal. It doesn't effectively portray what might potentially happen after that.

It's like if they had ended "Faust" near the middle when he's still enjoying all of the benefits of trading his soul tot he devil rather than following it all the way through to the later horrible consequences of that.

Also, one part that I felt could have been explained better (and seemed to confuse a lot of commenters) is the stabbing at the end, and why the lead devil-worshiper said "Now you're one of us" when she stabs herself rather than her father.

They actually had to get her to do that to seal the deal so her soul would be "damned" forever. (Yeah, I'm a lapsed Catholic, who went through Catholic high school...) According to what I learned in Catholic school, at least, suicide is considered the only sin that can never be absolved and condemns the person to hell forever because not only are they committing the sin of murder but they would never be able to receive last rites before they died. They used to bury people who committed suicide outside of the church graveyard, because being damned forever precluded them from being able to be buried on "hallowed ground." Anyway, they should have explained that better in the movie.

So, in balance, everything except the last 5 minutes is a relatively serviceable PG-13 scare fest, but then everything goes down the drain after that.

4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
It Wasn't THAT Bad, 17 January 2008
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Actually, this movie wasn't as bad as everyone seems to say it is. I mean it's definitely not going to win any Oscars or be remembered as a landmark horror film, but at the same time, it doesn't deserve the 3.0 rating that it's gotten. I thought it was an average yet enjoyable j-horror flick. Like most of them, there were a few jumps, a modern technology that transmitted evil, and a back-story with a twist that the main characters have to try to work out.

I think it really comes down to both a) what scares you and b) how much you want a movie to scare you. Some people are scared more by serial killer/slasher pics while other by supernatural ones. Also, some people want to be really scared and gored out while others just want a few thrills but not be scared so bad that they can't sleep for the next three days.

True, there's not a lot of gore and isn't very explicit, but what do you expect? It's PG-13. I mean you knew that going in, right?

Even though in general, I liked the film, there was one scene, I have to say, that was very unfortunate and cheesy. It's the one with the baby and cell phone in the hospital. It's too bad the director had that in the movie at all, since I don't think it worked out the way he had intended. Other than that go see it if you liked "Grudge" or "Pulse".

The Fog (2005)
1 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Disappointing! Chock Full Of Clichés & Coincidences, 16 October 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was going into this film with high hopes, but was really disappointed with the lazy story writing that was chock full of clichés and coincidences. Worse yet, the way the plot was written, things could only happen the way it happened if everyone acted like an idiot.

Things that I disliked in the movie include:

1. Characters that did stupid things like Elizabeth going outside in the middle of night in her underwear to check on a scary noise AFTER she has already seen the creepy watery footprints on the ceiling and heard the banging on the door.

2. Coincidences that just happen like a Stevie just happening to run into Nick, Elizabeth, and her son, just as the right minute or Elizabeth just happening to find the secret location of the book that explains everything in the boat house. That was really lame.

4. Overused clichés like having a priest around who tells people to get out while they still can, a kid in peril who says in a knowing way some variation of "They're here...", characters who refuse to get out while they still can (like the dude who didn't want to leave so he could get his dogs), a bunch of partying kids (including the requisite slutty girls) who gets killed first, lots of jump scenes where people are tapped from behind only for it to turn out to be their boyfriend, etc.

5. Inconsistencies like the window in the back of the pick-up getting blown out in one scene and then being perfect again later on as if nothing had happened.

6. Story loopholes like the suggestion that Elizabeth's character was a reincarnation or descendant of one of the victims from the boat in the back story, but if that woman drowned to death, how could Elizabeth be descended from her?

On the plus side, the ghosts looked creepy enough and the back story evil enough to warrant some type of karmic retribution, but other things were cheesy and silly like people's bodies getting flung across the room or the ghosts saying things like, "blood for blood".

46 out of 59 people found the following review useful:
Well Shot & Atmospheric Horror Picture, 3 January 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just saw "A Tale of Two Sisters" last night and really enjoyed it. I've been a big fan of Asian horror films recently and think that this is a strong entry from South Korea. There aren't many jump out at you scares as in the usual American horror film, but the director does maintain the off-kilter and foreboding mood very well, especially in the awkward character interactions with each other. Most of the scares are more conceptual and plays on everyone's "there's something under the bed" fears from when they were a child, but in this case, it's the closet and the sink. I also liked how the director was able to capture just how dysfunctional this household is through scenes such as the first dinner that the characters have together. He's also good at revealing people's inner life and fragility through simple scenes such as the stepmother wiping off her make-up in the mirror or her sitting in front of the flickering TV. I think this film is mainly an exploration of guilt and the consequences of living with that guilt hanging over you.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD (DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE TWISTS OF THE MOVIE REVEALED) I was following the story pretty well, but did start getting confused during the bag dragging part. However, I think the flashback at the end definitely tied everything together. The film is very much like "The Machinist" in the way two of the character's joint guilt eventually leads to mental breakdowns and delusions.

Here's my interpretation of the film. The Su-Yeon that we see after the girls supposed return to the house is either the delusion of Su-Mi or the actual ghost of Su-Yeon that only Su-Mi can see and interact with. The initial stepmother that we see is, in my opinion a delusion of Su-Mi. There is a real stepmother, however, and she first appears in the film when she's wearing the gray pantsuit. I believe it's the real stepmother that the father is talking to on the phone throughout the first part of the movie and she doesn't appear until he pick her up and brings her to the house. The stepmother before that point is imagined by Su-Mi (perhaps part of her split personality?) That explains the bizarre dinner party sequence when the stepmother's brother looks at her like she's crazy and doesn't remember anything that she recounts. I think it was Su-Mi acting out her stepmother part of her split personality. The film shows this later in the bag dragging scene and scenes such as the stepmother wiping her make-up in the mirror, which is revealed later to actually be Su-Mi wiping her make-up in the mirror.

I think the ghosts in the house aren't entirely imagined by Su-Mi, and are either of Su-Yeon or the mother or both. In the final flashback, it is revealed the Su-Yeon was wearing the green dress and had the hairpin in her hair when she died. This is the green dress that they showed before on the ghost sitting at the dining room table while the stepmother was looking under the sink. Also, it's the hairpin that Su-Yeon was wearing in the flashback that appears on the floor when the stepmother is looking under the sink.

The real stepmother, in the end, gets punished by the ghost of Su-Yeon who comes for in a scene a little bit like The Ring. After that, the flashback scene ties it all together in terms of how both the stepmother was mainly responsible for her death, while Su-Mi unintentionally played a supporting role.

I wonder if the "mother" that Su-Yeon sees when she goes up to her room to cry, in the flashback, is a ghost already. Perhaps by that point the mother had already killed herself in the closet. That's left ambiguous.

Other things that are suggested, but not clearly explained in the film is that it seems like the stepmother, at some point, was a nurse, perhaps taking care of the mother and somehow may have contributed to her death too. It's not clear when her relationship with the father began and whether it caused the mother to kill herself. It's also suggested that the mother had mental issues too, requiring a nurse. The stepmother alludes to this when she tells Su-Mi, you're beginning to take after your mother. I don't think she meant just physically.

Also, if we accept that the initial stepmother that we see is actually Su-Mi, then there's the suggestion of incest too, since the father sleeps with her. Is that why Su-Mi freaks out and shouts, "Don't touch me" each time the father reaches for her in a later scenes? Is that the "filthy things that you've done" that she alludes to in a later conversation with the father? This film is interesting in it's capacity for different interpretations. A few of the scenes, however, were kind of derivative, such as the woman in the black crawling around scene, which reminded me of the herky-jerky movements of Kayako in the Ju-On/The Grudge films. Also, the final scene where the stepmother finally gets her just desserts is reminiscent of The Ring. Furthermore, just the idea that some characters may be ghosts is taken from "The Sixth Sense" or "The Others".

Overall, I enjoyed it, however, and it will be interesting to see how the Hollywood remake (that's already in production) turns out. I have to be honest, I liked both "The Ring" and "The Grudge", so I'm not one of those snooty types who insist that remakes can't be good too. One remake that I'm really excited about is "Dark Water" coming out this summer. I haven't seen the original Japanese version yet, but both films are definitely on my to-see list.

12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
One of the Best MGM Musicals from the 1940's, 11 April 2004
9/10

I just saw "Easter Parade" on the big screen for the first time, earlier this evening, and have to say that it's definitely one of the best musicals ever produced by the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM, especially out of the ones from the 1940's.

I really enjoyed the movie even though I've already seen it several times on video. It features all of the halmarks of a Freed production including an amazing cast with Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller, lush technicolor photography, incredible dancing, and a great score that features over 16 songs by Irving Berlin. It actually had a pretty good story too, rather just a bunch of songs with a plot that basically exists to get from one song to the next, like in some lesser musicals.

The story is about a famous dancer, played by Fred Astaire, who tries to build a new act with an inexperienced chorus girl whom he discovers (Garland), after his former partner (Miller) leaves him to pursue a solo career. Of course, the requisite romantic complications and personal and professional jealousies also figure into the mix.

Since all three principles play performers, there are plenty of opportunities for each of them to show off their singing and dancing in almost iconic numbers like "Steppin' Out with My Baby", "Shakin' the Blues Away", and "A Couple of Swells", which have all come to be heavily identified with Astaire, Miller, and Garland respectively throughout their careers.

I definitely enjoyed this film and think it's a must-see for anyone who enjoys musicals or are fans of Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller. (Peter Lawford's in this one too, but I'm not a huge fan of his.) Too bad there's no DVD version.

Gigi (1958)
42 out of 56 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely Charming, 26 June 2001
9/10

Having seen this film several times, I definitely have to rate Gigi as one of the most charming musicals ever made. The delightful score, by Lerner & Loewe, includes songs such as "I Remember it Well," "The Night They Invented Champagne," "Thank Heaven For Little Girls," as well as the title track, "Gigi," sung with surprising candor and earnestness by Louis Jourdan. Although reminiscent of their work on My Fair Lady, this score not only stands beautifully on its own but also grows in depth with each viewing.

The three principals, Leslie Caron, Louis Jourdan, and Maurice Chevalier, along with the Paris locales helps maintain a distinctively French flavor, especially in the way the characters relate and interact.

For everyone who has commented on the political incorrectness of the story, a closer look will actually reveal the true feminist perspective of Colette's work which was groundbreaking for its time: 1) the story is a commentary and observation of the limited social and economic options for women outside of marriage during the turn of the century Paris, 2) Although Gigi (Caron) never fully masters her lessons and grooming, she is able to capture Gaston's (Jourdan) heart precisely because of her imperfections, and 3) most importantly, it is Gaston rather than Gigi who is forced to truly transform himself and defy the social conventions of the time to bring the story to its resolution.

Compare this to My Fair Lady, which offers similar social commentary but resolves itself in a more standard way: For example 1) Eliza Dolittle only becomes noticeable and lovable after transforming her outward appearance and speech patterns 2) Although Professor Higgins finally realizes his love for Eliza at the end, it is Eliza who is forced to submit her will by effecting a reconciliation that does nothing to resolve any of the issues raised in the scenes leading up to that point.

Definitely see Gigi and judge for yourself. (By the way, the widescreen version is sooooo much better. This is especially apparent in numbers such as "I Remember It Well" where entire characters are forced to be cut out of the screen.)