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I had a brief stay in India and now I hang my hat in Paris, France.
The Campaign (2012)
Could have been better directed.
The story is about two candidates for the US Congress, Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) and Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) in the run-up to their district's election.
Brady initially runs unopposed but then his campaign backers, the Motch brothers, thought they needed somebody who's easier to control and recruited Huggins to run opposite him.
This plot has some potential and it deserves a better execution than this film. Some of the roles feel unnecessarily being highlighted, while some others warrant better exposition.
For example the Motch brothers could have been utilized less, as it's difficult to expand these roles anyway.
There is also the reaction of the characters around the leading roles that could have been managed better. There was one instance where Huggins and his wife make up after a crisis in their relationship. They kiss in a very unusual way, yet two of Huggins' staff who are watching react as if it's the most regular thing they've ever seen.
On a positive note, Ferrell and Galifianakis did well in their respective roles. Katherine LaNasa who plays Brady's wife was appropriate as the ambitious wife of a politician.
To close, not one of Jay Roach's strongest directorial work.
Only God Forgives (2013)
If you've seen Drive, you've seen this movie.
Only God Forgives is a movie that is driven inherently by its visuals and not much else. Without giving away too much, Julian (Ryan Gosling) is being coaxed by his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) to avenge the killing of his brother.
Looking from the directing perspective, if you've seen Drive there's no point in seeing this. I felt like Nicolas Refn is testing the limits of the audience because the first 30 minutes felt like a test of restraint on my part. Maybe his style just isn't my thing.
In the acting department, Thomas is very memorable. Her overbearing and somewhat peculiar mother is very effective in providing an anchor for the audience to make up their own minds about the motivations of her sons. Her work is exemplary.
I recommend seeing this if you consider yourself a fan of the movies. However if you're looking for a memorable story you might want to look elsewhere.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
If you've been following Mr. Anderson's relatively short career, you'll find more of the same here: a film that is full of quirkiness, which I find to be parables of the troubles we encounter in life. I came to this film without any expectations, having read nothing about it in the news so I was pleasantly surprised that the main protagonists are a couple of tweens. Any fears of mine finding a sappy or saccharine story were vanquished and replaced with wonderment following the journey of the two main characters. Both actors didn't seem to have formal training but this didn't stop them from serving the story well. It is down to the genius of Mr. Anderson capturing their human performances which are nothing less than beautiful.
I can't recommend this film highly enough!
King Kong (2005)
An interesting adventure movie
Saw this movie with the added expectation that Peter Jackson will deliver. Well, almost.
Jackson is respected by moviegoers in Paris, you can tell by the cheers that erupted when the main title appeared and by the applause when his name showed up first in the closing credits.
On to the movie. The first act builds up on the story of a movie maker, Carl Denham (Jack Black) setting out to seek a mysterious location for his next movie. Denham is accompanied by his assistant Preston (Colin Hanks) and Jack Driscoll (Adrien Brody), a screenwriter who loves theater more than the big screen. Denham brings along his leading lady Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts).
Black was slightly comical and provided some comical relief, but in the serious moments his line deliveries were not very convincing. Watts was very good as the "always sad" actress who wants to make it in the big time. Brody did his part well as the kind-hearted man who is in love but don't quite know what to do with the feeling.
The main problem in the first act was the cast exchange dialogs unconvincingly. The deliveries were just not right and the voice coming out of the actors' mouths felt very unnatural. Granted, the dialogs were re-touched in post-production not unlike other movies these days but the end result just didn't feel right.
However this will not prevent you from enjoying the rest of the movie. When we enter the second and third act things get significantly better. From the moment of our first encounter with the Kong to the very last scene you will know that you would have witnessed a good movie. It was a fun adventure, complete with the highs and lows of it. Reminiscent of the kind of adventure you saw in "Romancing The Stone" and many others.
There was one particular scene of the leading men involving bugs that got me and many others jumped in our seats and cursed. Then I realized that Peter Jackson had hit the right notes. It is precisely the reaction of the viewers that indicated he has done yet another masterstroke of a film.
By the ending credits I felt that I owe Peter Jackson a big thanks for transporting me to an exhilarating ride through a jungle and a city to witness a strange but touching love story between Darrow and the Kong. I felt just like the leading lady, tired, but I was satisfied. This is what movies should be all about.
One would expect more great things to come in the future from Peter Jackson.
Y tu mamá también (2001)
Beautiful and Memorable
The movie is both beautiful and memorable.
It tells a story of two teenagers on a road trip with a woman nine years their senior. The trip revolves around these three exchanging stories and eventually getting involved sexually.
In the background is the lively Mexican countryside, with its dusty roads, virgin beaches, car searches by the police, and local people in their daily lives.
It all ends quite sadly, but beautiful in giving an exposition of the coming of age of two friends in an unforgettable summer.
Maribel Verdù was good as the older woman who is carried away by her personal situation. Without doubt the main stars are Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna as the teenage friends. These guys are the ones to watch for the future.
Match Point (2005)
Bright turn by Johansson
Interesting movie with quite an ending.
The story begins with Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) starting out a career as a tennis instructor after he had enough with the tennis professional circuit. He meets Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) who is a member of the tennis club, and upon knowing Wilton's interest of opera invites him over to the family box at the opera house. There, Wilton gets introduced to the Hewett family and then later with Hewett's fiancée Nola Rice (Scarlett Johansson). Wilton gets very interested in Rice and then things get difficult...
A brilliant turn by Johansson, she really shone in her part. She was radiant in this movie. One would expect good things to come from her in the future. Not much could be said about Rhys-Meyers. He seemed rather wooden.
The supporting cast were rather brilliant. Emily Mortimer, Brian Cox and Penelope Wilton respectively as Tom Hewett's sister and the Hewett parents kept my interest in the story.
The pacing didn't really pick up until just after the middle part of the film but it's still a memorable movie.
My vote is 7 out of 10.
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Good, Atmospheric Sci-fi
This is the sequel to Pitch Black (1999), the movie that launched Vin Diesel's career. Compared to that movie, Chronicles of Riddick is about two notches up.
You would have more of a chance liking this film if you are a sci-fi fan. The story might be a bit cryptic for non sci-fi heads, but it is a commendable movie with regards to its special effects, soundtrack and production design. All of which combine to create an interesting atmosphere.
In terms of acting the movie's adeptly supported by Thandie Newton, Karl Urban (Eomer in LOTR) and Judi Dench. As for Vin Diesel it seems all we could expect of him is to show some biceps, look tough and deliver one sentence at a time. It would be interesting to see him in future features playing more complex characters, something for him to live up to the tag "the next Bruce Willis".
It's a good fun at the movies.
Black Hawk Down (2001)
Riveting action with actors that look the same
By the sound of the title you probably think it's a movie about some Native American tribe fighting the cavalry or something else. But it's about American soldiers unexpectedly fighting endless hordes of armed local people in Somalia.
On October 3, 1993 a group of elite soldiers consisting of the top secret Delta Force, Rangers and the 160th SOAR helicopter squadron conducted their mission of capturing Mohd. Farrah Aidid's important people in Mogadishu, the capital city of (if there is a capital) Somalia. The fighting was supposed to have lasted only an hour, but two choppers (well, in reality four but the other two made it back) were shot down and the escape vehicles they were supposed to use got lost. They had to stay over for the night and got 19 men killed in action.
If you have read Mark Bowden's book of the same title, you probably have a general idea of what the fighting is like and what the city is like. And Ridley Scott managed to visualize it in such manner that the scenes are pretty much exactly like you pictured. Except for the first helicopter crash site, which is very wrong.
The cast is pretty good, especially Tom Sizemore who is always natural in a uniform. But it is the ensemble which stood out. If you look for individual performances, you may be disappointed.
If you haven't read the book you're probably confused with the characters under fire. You can only recognize them by the names on their helmets, but not all of them put their names on it. You'll probably have trouble putting names on faces, but as the story rolls it can be overlooked.
The movie shows a lot about the US Army elite units, the camaraderie within them, the rivalry between them, and their relatively new creed, which is "leave no man behind". I take it this is born after the experiences of Vietnam...
All in all, this is a good movie especially that it is based on a true story. I have been interested in US special units, and after watching this I grew more respect for them. You probably will too. Go see it, it's worth every penny.
7 out 10 stars for matching this readers' visualizations and -3 stars for discrepancies in reality.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
The madness and insanity inside us, on screen
Movie visuals are something of an elusive art. Sometimes you see them sometimes you don't. In this movie, I don't really see much. But I guess when the movie was made (1979) it was on a class of its own.
It is about Lt. Willard's (Sheen) hunt for the mysterious renegade Special Forces officer Col. Kurtz (Brando). The journey that Willard had to trek was an arduous and dangerous one. And very mental too. As the journey to Kurtz got closer, the more we can see what kind of madness reside in him (Kurtz). And it all ends in a very satisfying finale.
This is one of those movies that portrays war in its true colors. Black, that is. The blackest black that creeps every soldiers' footsteps, ready to take them over once they cross their own respective limits. We all have limits, different only in terms of threshold.
I wasn't even born when the Vietnam war was waged. But after seeing this movie, I had some perspective of the mental ordeal that each soldier had to put up to.
Brando's character Kurtz is brilliant, so brilliant that he lost his sanity when witnessing the violence of the Vietcong. Sheen's character Willard was a man that had almost gone insane, but in carrying this mission he learned about what is up over there, over his mental threshold that he almost crossed, and decided not to.
Good performance by both Brando and Sheen. The supporting cast were also terrific. The 'Chef' character was super, 'Lance' and 'Clean' was good too. The Air Cavalry commander superbly played by Duvall was really psycho, waging war and surfing at the same time.
As for the music it adds to the atmosphere, but not by much.
In the end you will have seen a good movie, and if you haven't it's highly recommended that you see it. Two thumbs up!
Scruffy-looking visuals, no music, a highlight movie of 2000!
Traffic, is all about the lives of those involved in the drug wars: families, law enforcement officers, drug dealers, and drug users.
While watching it, you might spend most of the time hoping that the characters of the different lives will finally get together and know each other. Well, they won't. And the director put that in a good way. You might not like the visuals, with all its filtered "viewed-from-Bono's-yellow-sunglasses" glory, which looks scruffy. But it adds to the overall atmosphere (though I couldn't really link the yellow-view to the story).
Anyway, the cast is very very natural and casual in playing their respective characters that you could swear it's like someone that you can meet next door or next to your movie theater seat. Some of them may not be on Hollywood's who's who list, but the ensemble is very good.
You might also be so into the story that you may not notice that the movie uses very little music. As a listener of movie music, I'm a little disappointed. But Soderbergh managed to 'cover' it up with a very engaging story, cast, and atmosphere that manages to take you there to San Diego, Tijuana, and the Ohio area. And that is a good thing.
In this movie, the message is clear. That the war against drugs means nothing, if not started from within our own families. I have a relative who was a crack addict and only recently gained freedom from it. I found out that I was one of the reasons he did it in the first place. That I was NOT LISTENING. Here's to another gem of the movie media!