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6 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Chihiro the Brave Hero, 29 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Chihiro, or Sen, is the hero in Spirited Away. Her hard work and bravery is the saving element to her life, and her parents. The film, Spirited Away, is an anime movie that won a 2003 Oscar. The film lived up to its Oscar hype by delivering good framing, pace, and characters. Chihiro is the main character who has to work in the bathhouse to save her life, and her parents. She is portrayed in a good way, although her voice can be a little annoying, but this could be the product of bad translation. She is later given the Shinto name Sen, which means 1000. In addition to Shinto, the nature spirits are used throughout the film. The Anime was phenomenal throughout the movie, helping to add to the already good plot. The pace was surprisingly steady and smooth, which is not normal for Japanese or Chinese films.

The films literary elements were very good. The plot seemed to have a good direction, although the audience should be aware that there is a discontinuous narrative (flashbacks) and a time disjunct. However, the film is very easy to follow along for most ages. The characters of the movie were very clever. Besides Chihiro, there was Haku (who she falls in love with), the polluted river spirit, the witch who ran the bathhouse, and so forth. The polluted river spirit was a way to show that the modern world is being polluted by people's greed. Throughout the film, the director displays problems with modernity, and fixes them with more traditional ideas. The ideas of modernity verse tradition present the underlying conflict in the film. The conflict that most people will see is Chihiro trying to get back her parents. However, there is more to it than just that. It is important to note the tests she must go through in order to be free and save her parents. For example, the stink creature shows the destruction of modernity through his pollution of modern materials.

I recommend this movie to all audiences. The anime was particularly good, and the pace was very pleasant, even to westerners. The plot and characters kept me entertained throughout the film. In addition, the audience should pay particular attention to the modern views that are criticized and corrected by traditional views. Even if you're not educated about the traditional values, modern values, or Shintoism, you can still enjoy the film.

Rashomon (1950)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
It is nothing but a Run-Down, Dilapidated Gate called Rashomon, 30 April 2007

The Rashomon gate is ran down, dilapidated, and the paint is chipped up. This is the scenery used on the films' DVD cover, and where the Buddhist monk, the woodcutter, and the servant tell the story of the murder. The three men hear the story from the servant's point of view, and as he tells it, there are flashbacks to the actual scenes. The whole story is centered on a trial, trying to find the killer. Each suspect and witness tells his or her side to the story to the police. However, whom they are telling their side of the story to, is unknown. It seems as if they are telling their side of the story to the audience.

The film shows different camera views that were brand new to the time. In 1950, no one pointed the camera to the sky, or followed the character. The camera work, to the time, was very good. To the modern audience, it may look bad, but realize that they didn't have computers or enhanced cameras to add special cinematic elements to the film. As in most Eastern films, nature is shown to the extreme. Certain parts of the movie seem to be dragged out by showing too much nature with the woods and the weather. However, nature is common in eastern culture films. In addition, it is a very Shinto idea to show nature as being very large, and the actor being rather small. The actors did a very good job, especially Tajomaru, the bandit, who loved to show off his annoying, and sinister laugh. The movies whole set was taken outside, which was very uncommon in the 1950's. The movie had some bolero and traditional Japanese music to add some flavor.

The plot of the movie was very smart. It showed flashbacks, new to the cinema in the 1950's. The central idea may seem old and overused, but it seems that murder cases never get boring. The ending leaves the audience in shock on who the actual killer is. The social commentary wasn't noticeable due to the English subtitles.

This film is entertaining if the audience will view it from a 1950 perspective and not a 2007 perspective. The camera work is amazing to the time when it was filmed, and the plot was very good. However, the pace seemed a little slow, but once you can get over that it is entertaining. I suggest that you view this film with an open mind, allowing the slow pace to not bother you (or the subtitles), and get a quick background of the movie and director before you watch the film.

Lost, not the TV show, in Iraq, 6 March 2007

The Iranian movie, Marooned in Iraq, is all about a husband who searches out his wife who is in trouble, but he has not seen her in 23 years. Mirza, the husband, was a famous singer that was well known in Iran. He had two sons (also singers), the oldest was Barat and the younger was Audeh. The main plot is to find Mirza's wife, Hanareh. The interesting scenes in the movie surround Iraq refugee camps in Iran, which Mirza and his sons have to search through to find out information about Hanareh.

The pace of the movie is not fast like that of a western film. The movie is very slow to reach the plot, but not too noticeable. The movie surrounds the time during the Iranian- Iraq war and shows barely any war scenes, but in the background are constant sounds of fighter planes. One scene shows the bombing of a city, while Mirza and his sons are traveling from refuge camp to refuge camp. The camera work is somewhat shaky because the camera man rides along the hood of the vehicles, but it's hardly noticeable. The scenery depicts much of Iraq and Iran by showing the snowy mountains and arid plains. The movie has many comic scenes between the constant chatter fighting between the family members.

Marooned in Iraq is a very enjoyable movie, even to a western audience. Although the movie is in English subtitles, it can still be quite enjoyable. The translator doesn't always switch all the words into subtitles, but understanding it isn't hard. The ending leaves the audience guessing what happened. The ending displays many options the audience can think of what has happened. In addition, the audience must keep close attention to the characters and the clues the director gives. This will help understand the ending because it is complicated and will make you wonder what has happened. The director's themes relay to the differences in gender among middle easterners, displays some government corruption (Suddam), shows a lot of tradition (song and dance) and displays political boundaries between Iran and Iraq. This film has educational aspects to it by seeing how the people interact with each other, the scenery, and how the people feel about their government. I recommend this film for its educational purposes, the scenery shown by the director, and it will entertain an audience until the very end with its comedy.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Children of Heaven Film Review, 12 February 2007

Ali and Zahra are two inspiring young actors in an Iranian film called Children of Heaven. Ali and Zahra are the two main characters in the movie. Furthermore, their father has a decent role and their mother is only seen in the house. The film takes place in an urban suburb of the city in Iran and is surrounded around the school and where they reside. Other scenes include a trip to the lavish and beautiful city to the rich neighborhoods. The pace of the movie is relatively slow, especially in the opening scene, but progresses at a decent and almost unnoticeable pace. The framework of the movie is taken straight from the streets of Iran, in an actual schoolyard, house, and city in Iran. In addition, there are no props used in the movie.

The movie is surrounded by his sister's shoe that is lost. It doesn't seem like a great plot, but the true meaning of the shoe makes the movie relatively good. To Americans, it doesn't seem like a big deal about losing a shoe, but Ali's father cannot afford another shoe for his sister. The movies main conflict is Ali's struggle to make it to school because he cannot wear his slippers. In Iranian culture, the girls wear clothes that cover their bodies, or a hijab, and the only thing that differs between them is their shoes'. Ali's goal is to find his sisters shoes, but he must overcome obstacles to get them back. Much of the social commentary is between Ali and Zahra, with a short scene between Ali and his father. This movie can be heard in French or Persian, and can be read in subtitles.

This movie has a hidden image, and if you can determine it, it is a very good meaning. The water being the will of God is a theme in this movie that is shown quite nicely. The movie also displays themes of modernity versus tradition. As in most cases, the youth having the modernity and the elder's keeping their traditions. The movie does not display any religion or any views on government due to it being outlawed by the government. The scenery in the movie is excellent due to the fact it is taken straight from the streets of Iran and the plot, although different from a western film, is good and will keep the audience interested. Once you can get over the subtitles, unless you speak Persian or French, the movie is entertaining and fascinating.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A Must See!, 16 November 2006

The Bushmen, the !Kung people and Xixo are not easily understood. In fact, many civilized Africans do not even understand these people who live in the desert. Furthermore, they can't even speak their language. In The Gods Must be Crazy, the movie depicts the bush people as uncivilized, hunters and gatherers, but as very friendly people. The movie does a very good job of showing the wide differences between the !Kung and the other natives, along with the white settlers. The main character of the !Kung is Xixo, who is able to help the white man to save the school children. In fact, Xixo is a main character in the movie, which is a rarity in African cinema. In addition, he helps Steyn, a white man who works with the testing of the game in the area, to save Ms. Thompson, the schoolteacher. The sole fact that a "hunter and gatherer" is able to be a sub-main character in the movie is quite an achievement to the African cinema. Furthermore, this gives the Africans something to be proud of when watching a movie about them.

One issue in the movie I did not like was how the white man was displayed in "nation geographic" way. For example, how the city scene was showed in the movie. What I mean is that the narrator uses his voice to explain what is going on. Furthermore, the narrator uses his voice to explain what the !Kung people are saying. In addition, it is easy to tell that this movie was made for the white man to view. For example, it is a very stereotypical movie about Africa. However, the movie is not derogative in any way towards the African people. Another thing the director could have done was added subtitles to the African language to help the audience know what they are saying. However, the narrator does a good job in depicting what is said. In sum, this is a very good film, in which I enjoyed. It is not a racist film and most of the main characters are Africans. I believe that everyone should see this movie to see the real Africa in the 1980's!

A mistaken identity, 23 October 2006

There are a plethora of themes described in Absa's film Ca Twiste a Poponguine. For instance, mistaken identity helps describe the African residents of Poponguine. Furthermore, the two groups, the Inseparables and the Kings, were the teenagers of the town who followed the styles of the western society. However, the older residents followed more of the African traditions. In addition, the French and American music symbolized how changing culture in the African society is a factor today. In other words, the older people of Poponguine wore traditional African clothes and the younger kids wore modern clothes that Americans or Europeans would wear. As Mr. Benoit said, a changing culture leads to prosperity. I believe that Absa wanted to portray the American culture in more of a funny way (with music) and portray the European culture as something good. Furthermore, the people in Poponguine were able to speak French and Wolof. In sum, Absa's had many themes that wanted to portray the changing African society due to western influences.

Absa did well directing the movie in some ways. For example, the viewer is able to see the difference between the young and the older people of Africa and their differences. In addition, Absa does a good job of showing how technology is hard to come by in Africa. For instance, when the TV was brought to Poponguine, the In's and the Kings were able to stop feuding; in addition, the French singer, Frank Larry, played in town and stopped the feuding too. In contrast, Absa did not do a good job of portraying the American society. The Kings and In's are addicted to American music and the surrounding affairs of the famous singers. This seems to come to the point that America is surrounded by the gossip of its stars. However, there is more to a music culture that America has.