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On Top Down Under (2002)
An Erotic Tale Which Is Actually Erotic
The problem with most short movies that come out under the title "Erotic Tale" is that they aren't really erotic with the thought is that some flesh and a sex scene makes it erotic. This one is an exception.
The tale tells of two lovers separated by nearly the whole globe (she a lighthouse keeper in remote Iceland, he a worker in outback Australia) who remember back to a time when they made love in a hot spring in Iceland.
The contrasting stories of what their memory of that day drives them to is as contrasting as the locations they are now in. The hot vs the cold, the day vs the night, light vs dark, but both bound by a desire for that day in the hot spring.
This tale is not only well filmed, and well scripted (the lack of dialogue helps the story), but provides sensuality and desire, a potent combination with regards to eroticism.
This story is truly deserving of the title "Erotic Tale".
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
Half Decent Plot - Awful Execution
Have you ever seen a movie that you thought "if they put this plot in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, it would be a pretty good movie"? This is one of those movies.
The basic premise, a family in a remote town happening upon a house which is run by a maniac, is fodder for heaps of horror movies through the ages. In the hands of a better writer, better director, better producer, better editors and better actors, this might have been a 5-7/10.
However, the actors not knowing that the camera was on them at the start of a shot, the poorly written dialogue, the extremely sloppy editing make this move unwatchable. The acting is terrible, overly hammy.
Avoid watching this movie, it will be 90 minutes of your life that won't be wasted.
Red State (2011)
Long in parts, but well worth a watch
First off, I have to say that if I didn't know beforehand who had written/directed the movie, I would have easily chalked it up to the Coen Brothers. The fact that Kevin Smith, the king of slacker comedies, did this shows that maybe there's a lot more to Kevin Smith than we realised.
Early in the movie, a language arts teacher pretty much sets it up. When talking about a Westboro Baptist Church style mob, she mentions that they use their first amendment rights (the right to free speech) but hopes they don't start using their second amendment rights ( the right to bare arms).
What we get from here is some great acting, especially from Michael Parks, who plays a Fred Phelps style character, Melissa Leo and John Goodman.
The only criticism I have is that it felt a bit too long in some parts in the first half of the film.
All in all, it is a scary look into religious fanaticism and government cover ups, and well worth a look.
The Break-Up (2006)
This is one of those movies that have been pigeon holed in the wrong slot. The makers are trying to sell it as a romantic comedy (which it definitely isn't) whereas it is a very good dramedy.
Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston work great here as a couple who after one big fight call it quits. There remains two problems. First is that they still have feelings for each other. The second, both having gone shares in their condo, do not want to move out and let the other have it to themselves.
Some of the comedy is painful, in a similar way to UK's The Office, in that it seems too real. There's no Hollywood overacting, and tips a hat to the 90's movie "War of the Roses".
Judy Davis played a great comedic relief here, along with Jason Bateman. Good support from best friends of the couple Jon Faverau and Joey Lauren Adams.
A good solid movie, keeping it real, without too much spectacular.
The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Good movie making
Ron Howard is one of the best directors in Hollywood at the moment. In this movie, he took one of the most popular modern books, and turned it into a faithful adaptation. Unfortunately for Ron, the book turned out to be not that good.
I biggest thing I have noticed with Dan Brown's work is that he tends to use a lot of false tension and false climaxes, something that does not transfer well into movies, unless the director uses the same cheap style. Ron Howard did not sink to those levels.
After all the bad mouthing about Tom Hanks, he did do a good job of portraying Robert Langdon. He transformed himself well into the role. The standouts in the cast, though, were Ian McKellan (Teabing) and Paul Bettany (Silas). McKellan stole the scene every time, and played up Teabing's eccentric side, while Bettany showed the pain that Silas has.
Kudos to the makers for keeping the foreign languages in, as too many American movies simplify so that everyone speaks English. Good work from Audrey Tautou and Jean Reno.
I still remember the discussion in Project Greenlight Australia, when discussing which script to pick. You can't make a good movie with a bad story. I think that sums up The Da Vinci Code.
The Island (2005)
Good Entertainment, but could have been better
The Island is one of those movies you see that has a good premise, a good cast but just doesn't delve to the depths such a story deserves.
For the first half hour of the movie, it builds up the story of how survivors from a "contamination" of Earth, are kept in a large facility, with everyone's dream being selected in the lottery to go to a Utopian "The Island", the last uncontaminated place on Earth.
We follow Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGreggor) as he discovers that all is not as it seems with "The Island", after his close friend Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) is chosen to go The Island.
This premise told for could have been a great movie, but instead of going for a deep movie about the ethics of the situation, director Michael Bay just blew some stuff up.
Good acting by Ewan McGreggor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou and Sean Bean, and enough action to make it entertaining, but they shied away from making a thought provoking movie.
Shrek 2 (2004)
Everyone says it's good, I just don't get that!!
After hearing all the hype that this was as good, if not better that the original, I thought it might be a good watch.
Instead of this, I saw a movie that had been stripped of the spontenaneous funny moments of the first, and replaced with mushy boring moments. It lacked that special part that was the trademark of the first movie. The voices even sound dis-interested in the movie. It was nowhere near as good as the first.
When you get a movie that comes in with the hype, and you feel like turning it off half way through, then you know you have a lemon.