12 Reviews
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Don't Be Fooled
19 January 2002
Despite many reviews attesting to the greatness of this film and many awards and nominations it has and will receive, this movie is shallow, tawdry, Hollywood trash that profiteers off the lives of 19 American soldiers and over a thousand dead Somalians. It is no more an anti-war movie than Gladiator is an anti-Gladiator movie. I will hand it to Ridley Scott (who is English, if that matters) he has found a way to turn violence and death into Hollywood gold. He is an excellent director, and here he steals from Kurosawa's playbook using maps, diagrams, and aerials to keep the troop positions coherent, while at the same time showing the bloody chaos of war. I suspect this film will make a lot of money and will rake in the Oscars, which is sad. Aside from it's direction, it has little value. The writing and acting are poor, the film is riddled with cliches, out of place comic relief, and attempts at subtlety that beat you over the head. The subject matter has been covered much better in other films. I suggest the John Sayles film 'Men With Guns' for a better depiction of the perpetuation of violence in the third world. What bothered me most was the phony sincerity with which the film depicts death and war. Unless you enjoy seeing people get killed there is little entertainment. The film begins with a quote from Plato, which, contains more truth and depth than the entire film that follows it.
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Jackson captures Middle Earth, however, he does not capture the Fellowship of the Ring.
19 December 2001
Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring is not a great movie, nor is it a bad one. Furthermore it cannot be called mediocre. There are scenes of magnificent beauty, where Tolkien's vision comes to life on the screen in full glory. There are also scenes which made me cringe due to their diversion from the source. No movie can be entirely faithful to the book it is based on, which is why it is rare when a great movie is made out of great book.

The virtues of this film almost all come from the adoration of the scenes of Middle Earth. Images of the Shire, Rivendell, the Mines of Moria, Lothlóien must be viewed to be appreciated. If you wanted to describe them you would be just as well using Tolkien's original text. Jackson's camera in these scenes is top notch. It is a joy to watch it sweep across the Misty Mountains and circle the Fellowship on their trek. This was, of course, one of the main reasons I wanted to see this film, and for that reason, the film is worth seeing.

Many of my problems could be nitpicky, uberfan things like the absence of "By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair, you shall you shall have neither the Ring nor me", or replacing Glorfindel with Arwen, or minor "factual" errors, but there were many other, more unforgivable problems. First and probably most importantly, the story is told in a linear fashion. It begins with an explanation of the One Ring as told in the chapter 'The Council of Elrond'. It then cuts between the events of Gandalf, Saruman, the Hobbits, ect. To me this was a grave mistake. The direction in some of the fighting scenes is almost as confused and incomprehensible as the opening to 'Gladiator'. While minor things like the absence of Bill the Pony can slip by other important things, such as where Gandalf was during the Hobbits journey to Rivendell and how Merry and Pippin joined Frodo and Sam on their voyage could not. Under par also was the music, it was completely forgettable, nothing more than intrusive underscoring. The dialogue as well occasionally slips into action movie cliché.

Overall I would give it a 6/10. It is worth seeing if you want the visual thrill of Middle Earth, but if you want the story of Frodo and the Ring, open a book.
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Partner (1968)
Exuberance carries this film half way.
8 October 2001
After that it degenerates into an exercise in employing old art film cliches. Though he bases his movie on the Dostoyevsky story 'The Double', Bertolucci apparently has no message, and no original way to present it. By the end this movie has dragged you through a tedium of stupidity and indulgence. This is the kind of film that gives art movies a bad name. 4/10
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Interesting for it's feel, which is that of American movies of the period.
8 October 2001
Respectful Prostitute looks and feels like most American movies of the late 40's and early 50's. The stark difference being the story. It tells of a prostitute from New York who witnesses the murder of a black man by a Senator's son on a train headed to the South. It was made in France and is very critical of America. It reminded me very much of To Kill A Mockingbird, if you replaced that movies naivety with cold cynicism. At first I thought the ending was out of step with the rest of the film, but looking back I realize how perfectly it works with the feel. It is the American ending, and it sheds a last harsh, ironic light on America. 8/10
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Memento (2000)
Pure Posturing.
4 October 2001
This is a movie I would put in the category with Fight Club and the Usual Suspects. Not great movies, but elevated to that level by the proud-to-be-out-of-the-mainstream crowd. Those people who are in with popular alternative culture. This movie has an interesting gimmick and is pretty amusing, but that is all. It is only good for two viewings. One to be surprised, and a second to review it and say "hmm, that was pretty clever". I don't think this fakes insights into humanity in so much as it has had them thrust upon it by it's rabid fans, who like to justify their worship with some deeper, albeit nonexistent meaning. This film throws out little morsels of meat to that crowd for them to chew on rather than offering a whole meal of an actual moving experience. I was actually a little maddened by the ending, because without it's gimmick, there was no movie. As I said though, it was pretty entertaining. 7/10.
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Fight Club (1999)
Fincher is out of control.
4 October 2001
David Fincher. I think his career might have been a tragedy if he actually made some good early films. He had alot of promise but is now sucked into the world of the fanboy where he reins as their god. This world is made up of angry youth, most of whom like computers, violence, and sex, though they are underexperienced with it in actuality. No more evident is this than in Fight Club. If you need proof read one of the hundred claims that this is the pinnacle of filmmaking.

Since these people are cultish and do not listen to reasonable argument, I will waste so much time as to actually give the entire argument against this film, as I see it.

I think Fincher actually had a message, however he has no control over his own abilities. I think using logic his film is about the value of the individual. This is extremely ironic, since his film has inspired homogenous worshipers. The first third of the film is a damnation of the working environment. The last third is, I'm guessing, supposed to be a damnation of the second third. The second third is the escape from the working class through a violent cult. This is only the most logical explanation, for me anyway. I think many people fail to see the last third as a damnation of the second third because Fincher creates it as such a paradise juxtaposed next to the working week. Fincher is too seduced by his own tricks that he can't convey his own message, and we as viewers are left with the remnants of a very negative film with no purpose for it's violent, destructive nature and no redeeming values at all. So maybe it isn't what the film is about. Most of it's fans would gladly join up with the cult and follow Tyler into chaos. The message of the film is really quite hollow. And the way it is done is just silly. 3/10
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Goodbye Children
4 October 2001
Louis Malle's 'Au Revoir Les Efants' is a semi-autobiographical picture. The world of this school in which the story takes place is the crossroads between the innocent, sheltered world of childhood, and the brutal reality of adult life. The tragic conclusion is also a cross between these worlds. The instinctive glance of a child and the betrayals and hatreds of adults. The kids in this film are thrust into maturity by a brutal confrontation with realities of life. Goodbye Children. 10/10
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Blow-Up (1966)
Undeservingly hated.
4 October 2001
It is hard to find people who will readily defend this movie these days. It is commonly thought of as pretentious, overly artsy, and lacking coherence. If you don't connect with the film that is fine, but to call it trash is a mistake. Many people try to pin this as being a 60's statement. It is not however. Antonioni was a veteran filmmaker who got lumped in with the new wave scene because he was around at the same time. This was initially a hit, though that probably had little to due with it's actual merits as a film.

It is the story of an artist. The photographer Thomas, who has lost all feeling of passion for his work. He hangs around London taking fashion photographs. He is cruel to his models and other women in his life. He seems interested in other's art but cannot be roused to create any of his own. He will soon be releasing a book of photographs, all of which are uninspired photos of the poor, sick and dying. While in the park he takes a series of shots he hopes will be a nice epilogue to his collection. They are of a couple playing in the park. These pictures, however, are not what they seem.

Antonioni makes great use of insinuation. He tantalizes us with the possibility of what could have been. In us he insights the same passion that is in Thomas. In the end, I don't think he disappears so much as he returns. He does not return as the same person, though. He is changed by the passion for his art and the challenge of reality. He is no longer playing the game of catch the murderer, or faking the motions of being a photographer, or posing as a deep artist by taking sad pictures. He is now truly inspired.

Today many people hate Thomas. And with good reason. He is definitely not a nice person, but he is one of my favorite anti-heroes. There is a scene many people may miss. It is short. He is driving in his car, I think after speeding off from some want to be models, he turns on the radio, and starts bobbing his head and making funny faces to the music. This is the scene that redeems his early self to me. When he is alone, we see he still has an innocent streak despite his cruelty.

All that being said, I only recommend this to the more serious moviegoer. 10/10
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Radio Days (1987)
An idealistic look at the past.
2 October 2001
It is not common for Woody to have made such a bright film, especially about childhood. Compare this to the home scenes in Annie Hall. Woody insists that his films are not based on his life, though he admitted in part that these are. I was born in the 80's. This time period is completely foreign to me. It is also very fascinating. I love jazz, I love the movies from this era, all my knowledge of it comes from movies. That is why I would call this my favorite Woody Allen movie, well, my favorite movie of all time really.

For the entire 84 minutes of it's running time I am transported out of my life and set in this wonderfully ideal world of Rockaway. This movie also contains two of what I would call Woody's best shots. One the scene of the street and the ocean as Woody gives his "Forgive me if I tend to romanticize the past...." dialogue. The other is a pan across a dinner table to some beautiful music, I forget what song. This shot is so perfect, and I instantly care about these characters from those few seconds more than I can care about most characters from spending the whole movie with them. 10/10
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Small Change (1976)
Pocket Money
2 October 2001
I have a love for movies with no real plot. Small Change is a perfect example of this. Instead of relying on a story to express his ideas, Truffaut uses small vignettes, sometimes hardly related to the main body of the film at all. What this creates is a portrait of the small town in which these people lives. Truffaut captures the entire spectrum of human emotion. 10/10
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Forget the GD butter.
2 October 2001
It is amazing how hated this movie is. Not only by non-film buffs but by everyone. It would appear that people get hung up on one particular facet of the film that negates any other enjoyment. I think most people are out to get this film from the start. As for the much over-hyped sex scenes, they are emotionally powerful and devastatingly effective at showing Paul's incapability of having a relationship with women. They are not pornographic. Porn is designed to evoke lust, and that is one thing that these do not do. If you will let it be, this film is ranks among the most emotionally powerful films of all time, and while Brando's performance is key to that, there is much more. If you get too hung up on Brando you will miss so much of what the film accomplishes. Ultimately, Bertolucci's film succeeds as an emotional work of art.
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Breathless (1960)
An Attack Of Suffocation
30 September 2001
Every great film is successful due to a misunderstanding by the pubic. Those words, in essence, are Godard's. A huge hit when first released, this movie catapulted the French New Wave and Godard. Upon it's initial release this film was viewed by critics as a realistic depiction of the nihilism of Parisain youth. This however was not the case. A bout de souffle, which translates to 'an attack of suffocation' has been called a filmed piece of film criticism. Godard took worn out American and French clichès and fashioned a new type of film making out of them. The key to understanding and ultimately fully appreciating this movie lies in figuring out how the movie works. This leaves the success of the film for the viewer, on the viewer. 10/10.
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