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233 reviews in total 
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138 out of 173 people found the following review useful:
Not nearly as good as the original., 21 August 2010

The Experiment is a 2010 American thriller film directed by Paul Scheuring and starring Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker,Cam Gigandet and Maggie Grace.The film is also a remake of the 2001 German film Das Experiment, which was directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The experiment begins when 26 men are chosen to participate in the roles of guards and prisoners in a psychological study that ultimately spirals out of control. $14,000 for two weeks, it is easy-earned money. The study examines aggressive behavior in an artificial prison setting. At first the tenants are divided randomly into prisoners and guards, but soon a spiral of violence begins.

I had some hope for this film because I remember seeing the original Das Experiment more then a year ago and enjoying it. Although brutal the film was brilliant in the way it explored human nature, human instincts, and one's moral compass. It's actually quite surprising that it took such a long time (9 years) for Hollywood to assassinate, pardon me, remake this very interesting story which is actually based on the Stanford prison experiment that took place in 1971 and was highly criticized afterwords. The problem with this remake is that, as in most things Hollywood, it's all about big name actors and big fights and nice camera angles. What's most important, the characterization and the character development which are the things that make this story, were completely thrown aside. One of the consequences of doing so is that the film felt extremely rushed and therefor the payoff wasn't that great. I didn't think there was real tension, and the film lacked that gritty look of the original, instead it looks sharp and polished.

Also, it's one thing to put your own spin into a story but this remake eliminated an entire dimension of the original film. I'm talking about the people behind the cameras, the scientists watching and conducting the experiment. They played a big part in the original and in this remake they are nowhere to be seen and it truly diminished the story. Regarding the acting, I thought Adrien Brody did a pretty good job and Cam Gigandet was delightfully nasty as he usually is. On the other hand, Forest Whitaker was absolutely awful. In almost every film that see him in, he acts like he has a speech impediment and to be honest, it adds nothing to his performance. Overall, The Experiment it's somewhat enjoyable but not nearly as good as the original.


Salt (2010)
8 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Tour-de-force by Jolie makes Salt watchable, 20 August 2010

CIA agent Evelyn Salt interrogates a Russian defector, Orlov, who tells her about "Day X", an operation organized by a powerful Russian since the Cold War, which will lead to the destruction of the United States. Orlov mentions that at the funeral of the late Vice President in New York City, the visiting Russian President will be killed by Russian spy Evelyn Salt. Salt, shaken at the accusation, attempts to contact her husband Mike, a German arachnologist, fearing for his safety. Meanwhile, Orlov escapes, prompting Salt to escape — causing the CIA to think she is a spy but is she? And if so what are her motifs ?

I was looking forward to watching Salt, I really like the spy genre even tough it's hard to find a great film in that category and, when I saw the trailer, I was instantly reminded of Jennifer Garner in the amazing TV show Alias. It seemed right up my alley. Something about sexy girls kicking ass, maybe? Unfortunately, Salt disappointed me. Not that it's a terrible film but it's average at best. The premise is great and holds a lot of potential but it evolves into something completely ridiculous and over the top. The plot is so flimsy, so far-fetched that, if you're going into this film expecting a smart, well-constructed story, then you're going to be just as disappointed as me. I'm not even going to talk about that final scene. See it and judge for yourself.

I have to say that regarding the action, the film delivers in spades. There's plenty of chases, stunts, fighting sequences and so forth. And for the most part it was all very nicely choreographed; there's a bit of cgi in the mix and the usual cuts but still, it looks great. And so does Jolie. Not only does she look gorgeous but she did a terrific job considering all the physical stuff she had to do, and overall, she delivered a strong performance. Granted, it's not enough to make this into a great film but Jolie may very well be the reason why Salt is watchable.


Hunger (2008)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Visually stunning and has a powerful message but the pace is almost unberable, 12 August 2010

Maze Prison in Northern Ireland, 1981. The infamous H-Blocks is where Irish republican prisoners are on the Blanket and No-Wash protest. It is a living hell for both prisoner and prison officer as the H-Block leader, Bobby Sands, pursues various tactics to help his fellow republicans re-establish their political status. In order to create real change, Bobby leads a Hunger Strike to protest for special category status for republican prisoner.

I won't deny that Hunger is masterfully shot. Despite all the horrific incidents and situations depicted, visually, this film is beautiful. There's no question about that. It has a sleek and polished minimalistic look that I love. Also, the message of the film is very powerful and the story (which I wasn't familiar with) deserves to be told, at least so that people are aware of it and therefor there's less of a chance of such a tragedy happening again. Plus, the acting is absolutely superb. Regardless of all these positive aspects, the film is very uneventful and the pace is almost unbearable and that, completely diminished my experience watching this film. I was constantly reminded of Gus Van Sant and his painfully long shots.

Clearly, I'm part of the minority because Hunger was critically acclaimed. But that doesn't surprise me, shock is a very effective tool. And while sometimes shock is absolutely necessary to make a point or convey a specific message, in this case, I think there should have been perhaps a little more focus on the plot itself because in the end, Hunger feels more like a disturbing sensory experience then a story per se.


27 out of 40 people found the following review useful:
Not that funny and a bit amateurish but still, quite entertaining., 28 July 2010

Somewhere beneath Washington, D.C., an intense rivalry is heating up between two opposing teams of government assassins. The hired killers in the organizations take their names from Tarot cards. The Fool (Joe Anderson) is the latest recruit. Reporting for his first day on the job, The Fool is shocked to find that his boss is dead, and the office is on lockdown. To make matters worse, the building has been rigged with explosives, and it's going to blow soon. Now, in order to get out alive, The Fool will have to root out the killer in his midst, and make a quick escape before his co-workers catch him in their crosshairs.

Operation Endgame, a satirical workplace comedy with a slick action twist is not without it's flaws. The plot is convoluted, most of the dialog is incredibly silly and the whole thing isn't that funny. Having said that, the film is damn entertaining. The cast is composed, among others, by Zach Galifianakis, Emilie de Ravin, Maggie Q, Rob Corddry, Ellen Barkin,Bob Odenkirk, Ving Rhames. There's plenty of star power here but, while some of the actors were delightful, others were completely underused. Being a battle royale of sorts, the deaths kept piling up and therefor some brilliant actors like Bob Odenkirk (who has been phenomenal in the TV show Breaking Bad) had very little screen time.

In the end, it's all about what you're expecting. Operation Endgame is no Oscar contender. This is mindless fun with a bit of action and gore in the middle and the film clearly doesn't take itself too serious and in my opinion it succeeded in what it intended to do which is, to entertain.


3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Has an amazing atmosphere but grows tiresome quickly, 27 July 2010

When a successful British ghostwriter agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, his agent assures him it is the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start—not least because his predecessor on the project, Lang's long-term aide, died in an accident. The ghostwriter flies out to work on the project, in the middle of winter, to an oceanfront house on an island off the U.S. Eastern seaboard. But the day he arrives, a former British cabinet minister accuses Lang of authorizing the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA—a war crime. Lang faces prosecution by the International Criminal Court, unless he stays in the U.S. or goes to another country that does not recognize that court.The controversy brings reporters and protesters swarming to the island mansion where Lang is staying with his wife, Ruth, and his personal assistant (and mistress), Amelia. As the ghostwriter works, he uncovers clues suggesting his predecessor may have stumbled on a dark secret linking Lang to the CIA and that somehow this information is hidden in the manuscript he left behind.

The Ghost Writer is, for the most part, a very nicely executed political thriller. It has an incredible atmosphere and there's enormous tension throughout the entire film. In the midst of all the mystery, there's a real sense of danger and that's what makes the film so appealing. The direction is extremely stylish which is something I very much appreciate. The beautiful shots of the beach (the one in the study was actually computer-generated) and the modern minimalistic sets really made this film a visual feast. The musical score was superb as well and matched the ambiance really well. The plot however, as interesting and relevant as it is, grows tiresome quickly, probably due to the constant change of pace. What really kept me going was undeniably the atmosphere and the visual aspect of the film.

At one point, the main character connects the dots and finds some clues simply by scrolling through pages of Google search results. I mean, we're talking about connections between a Prime-Minister and the C.I.A. Not exactly the type of thing you'll find on the internet. That scene was laughable and although it may have served to quickly move the plot forward, it's a good example of how flimsy some of the plot is and why the story is mediocre. The cast was somewhat uneven. Ewan Mcgregor was great as the "ghost" and Olivia Williams was convincing as the Prime-Minister's wife. Pierce Brosnan and Kim Cattrall on the other hand were pretty awful, especially Cattrall who kept over-acting. The Ghost Writer is not a bad film by any means, in fact, most of the production values are expectational. The plot however is very unbalanced and in that regard the film doesn't deliver.


After.Life (2009)
31 out of 45 people found the following review useful:
Definitely not great but, quite clever and entertaining, 25 July 2010

After a horrific car accident, Anna (Christina Ricci) wakes up to find the local funeral director Eliot Deacon (Liam Neeson) preparing her body for her funeral. Confused, terrified and feeling still very much alive, Anna doesn't believe she's dead, despite the funeral director's reassurances that she is merely in transition to the afterlife. Eliot convinces her he has the ability to communicate with the dead and is the only one who can help her. Trapped inside the funeral home, with nobody to turn to except Eliot, Anna is forced to face her deepest fears and accept her own death. But Anna's grief-stricken boyfriend Paul (Justin Long) still can't shake the nagging suspicion that Eliot isn't what he appears to be. Paul desperately tries to convince the local Police Chief (Josh Charles) that Anna's alive. But the more he investigates her death, the more they question his sanity. As the funeral nears, Paul gets closer to unlocking the disturbing truth, but it could be too late; Anna may have already begun to cross over the other side.

After Life is a clever psychological thriller with a very creepy and mysterious atmosphere. The concept behind the story is very cool but the execution is definitely what made the film. Is Anna alive or is she dead? That is the big question of After Life and the film goes back and forth delivering several clues, some subtle, some not so much. And even though the film tries to be ambiguous, by the end, it's pretty clear what happened. Still, it will drive you crazy, in a good way of course. The film also poses some interesting questions regarding the nature of life forcing the viewer to reflect on his own existence.

Liam Neeson did a good job and Christina Ricci was exceptional in her role. Justin Long however, was largely disappointing. Overall, it's nothing outstanding but definitely a very entertaining flick and the director was able to put a different spin on a often used concept.


Repo Men (2010)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Interesting premise but uninspiring direction, 11 July 2010

In the future humans have extended and improved our lives through highly sophisticated and expensive mechanical organs created by a company called "The Union". The dark side of these medical breakthroughs is that if you don't pay your bill, "The Union" sends its highly skilled repo men to take back its property... with no concern for your comfort or survival. Former soldier Remy is one of the best organ repo men in the business. But when he suffers a cardiac failure on the job, he awakens to find himself fitted with the company's top-of-the-line heart-replacement... as well as a hefty debt. But a side effect of the procedure is that his heart's no longer in the job. When he can't make the payments, The Union sends its toughest enforcer, Remy's former partner Jake, to track him down.

Despite a great premise and a visually attractive futurist setting, Repo Man never really got it going. It has some great ideas and a lot of potential but the execution isn't the best. The direction was very uninspired to say the least. Regarding the cast, I think they did an OK job. Jude Law is one of my favorite actors and undeniably a talented one but the material is so poor that his performance suffered from it. No one, has such a change of heart, after a literal change of heart. No one changes that much from day to night, he just doesn't happen. Forest Whitaker's character is completely unlikable and I thought the actor's mannerisms were extremely annoying. The gorgeous Alice Braga was OK as the female interest who's body is more mechanic then human, but again, she didn't have much to work with.

Any moral debate or philosophical discussions were sadly pushed to the side in favor of sleek and shiny sets (when the film should have a mysterious and decadent, almost noir feel to it) and flashy slow-motion action sequences with a bit of gore and lots of blood. I enjoy action sequences as much as the next guy, specially when well executed but, this story should be all about morals and humanity and what makes us human, where do we draw the line and so on, all things that were never addressed. In the second half of the film, things start to move a bit faster and with more vigor and there's a very interesting scene near the end when Remy and Beth have to open themselves up and register their organs so that they can be free; which I thought was very well done and probably the best scene of the entire film, however, I have to judge the film as a whole. The huge twist in the end is clever and unexpected but not exactly satisfying, plus many have been saying that it's a rip off of the film Brazil (1985) which I haven't seen. To me, it actually reminds me a lot of the final twist in Vanilla sky. Overall, Repo Man, suffered from a uninspiring direction and a very poor script which is a shame because it had the potential to be a tremendous sci-fi film.


Date Night (2010)
2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Very cheap and silly, 5 July 2010

Phil and Claire Foster (Steve Carell and Tina Fey) are a married couple from New Jersey with two children whose domestic life has become routine. Phil is a tax lawyer while Claire is a realstor. They have a weekly "date night" at a local steakhouse followed by a movie, but it is just as routine as everything else in their marriage. They learn that their best friends, Brad (Mark Ruffalo) and Haley (Kristen Wiig), are getting a divorce because they have been experiencing the same problems as Phil and Claire. In an effort to reignite romance, Phil takes Claire to a trendy Manhattan restaurant, but they can't get a table. Phil decides to take a reservation from a no-show couple, the Tripplehorns, despite Claire's misgivings. Halfway through their meal, they are approached by two men named Collins (Common) and Armstrong (Jimmi Simpson), who question them about a flash drive they believe Phil and Claire stole from mobster boss Joe Miletto (Ray Liotta). From that point on, Phil and Claire's night turns into a wild ride as they get in between the cops, the district attorney and a mobster.

I was pretty sure I was going to skip this one. Why even waste my time ? Every summer there's a handful of really hyped up comedies with well known actors as the leads and usually they all turn out to be really lame and extremely silly. I mean, this is entertainment for the brain-dead masses. Date Night is no exception. The film relies solely and exclusively on its leads, Steve Carrel and Tina Fey, who's popularity has increased immensely in the last couple of years. That's the big attraction of Date Night in terms of marketing, that it features these 2 actors. The truth is, the plot is very poor, the comedy is almost non-existent and the all thing is just so silly and cliché that the film becomes borderline unbearable.

And yes, I laughed a few times but overall, the jokes were incredibly loud, simple and childish. Obviously there were some nice moments like James Franco and Mila Kunis cameos (probably the funniest bit of the film) and it's always nice to see William Fichtner (DA Frank Crenshaw), his material was pretty flimsy but, he's such an amazing and charismatic actor that will do a great job no matter what. Other then this appearances, the film doesn't have much going for it. By the one hour mark, I was already praying to the movie gods for the film to end.


Greenberg (2010)
13 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
A nice slice of life and an unexpected performance, 30 June 2010

Roger Greenberg (Ben Stiller) is single, forty-ish and at a crossroads in his life, finds himself in Los Angeles, house-sitting for six weeks for his more successful/married-with-children brother. In search of a place to restart his life, Greenberg tries to reconnect with old friends including his former band mate Ivan (Rhys Ifans). But old friends aren't necessarily still best friends, and Greenberg soon finds himself spending more and more time with his brother's personal assistant Florence (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring singer and also something of a lost soul. Despite his best attempts not to be drawn in, Greenberg and Florence manage to forge a connection, and Greenberg realizes he may at last have found a reason to be happy.

I'm not Stiller's biggest fan. He usually does this very lame and silly comedies which aren't really my thing and that's what I was expecting from this film. Instead, Greenberg turned out to be something completely different and Stiller's performance was amazing. I hadn't been so surprised by a film in a while. And even thought you will laugh several times, this funny and moving tale is far from being a comedy. In fact, there's a sad and melancholic tone throughout the entire film and it doesn't really light up as many viewers were perhaps hoping for, which for me, made the all experience much better, because, let's face it, life isn't always great and happy endings are rare.

The script is incredibly refreshing, the dialog is brilliant and the direction was absolutely impeccable, really some of the best I've seen lately. The opening shot, for instance is a good example of what I'm talking about and it kinda set the tone for the rest of the film. There's also a lot of conceptual scenes, like Greenbelt trying to swim in the pool, which I love. Granted, the plot could have a little more direction but each scene as random as it may seem is so delightful and rich in subtext that you find yourself not really caring about that. Even the somewhat abrupt ending, which at first disappointed me but now seems completely fitting, shows how this film refuses to follow any conventional formulas.

As I've mentioned before, Stiller was great as the lead character but so was Greta Gerwig as Florence. Much like Greenberg, Florence is this sort of offish, social out-casted girl and Gerwig plays the weird and awkward "vibe" so well it's astonishing. The supporting cast did a good job too with Rhys Ifans standing out. In conclusion, Greenberg is nice little slice of life and one of the best films I've seen this year. And yes, the fact that I related to some of the lead character's anger helped a bit. Definitely worth seeing.


Interview (2007/I)
Despite a simplistic plot, Interview is a very nice example of good film-making, 29 June 2010

A political journalist (Buscemi) is sent on a clearly beneath-him assignment to meet an attractive B-list soap star celebrity (Sienna Miller). He makes a mess of the interview, but winds up at her Manhattan loft apartment following an unfortunate car accident. Thus begins an intriguing two-character plot arc in which the mismatched couple argue, drink, snort cocaine, argue some more, and ultimately find some common ground as they both loosen up and reveal some secrets.

This is the second time I have watched this film. I remember seeing it almost two years ago and enjoying it quite a bit. Same thing happened on this second viewing. Interview is, essentially, a lengthy conversation piece and therefor depends almost entirely on its acting. And both actors were splendid. Steve Bushemi who also directed the film delivered a great performance; he's a very talented actor and a household name and I wouldn't expect anything less from him. The stunningly beautiful Sienna Miller demonstrated, once again, that she's not only a pretty face but can act as well. Just like her character, Miller gets a lot of bad press but I've seen most of her work and she's actually quite talented.

The direction was impeccable and kudos to Buscemi for making this film such an entertaining, engaging and wild ride and also for not trying to extend the running time. Clocking at 84 minutes and despite a simplistic plot and setting, Interview is a very nice example of good film-making. Definitely recommended.


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