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blang84

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Simultaneously narcissistic & self-critical, pretentious & profound, 15 June 2014
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Woody Allen's vainly revealing, yet mostly unflattering self-portrait-film succeeds by remaining increasingly challenging, surprising and offensive throughout its 1.5 hour runtime. With a large all-star cast of A-listers entertaining in supporting roles, Allen deftly blurs the lines between his real-life self and his on-screen character, between reality and fiction, between confabulation and recollection. His charming artistic talents and disturbing character flaws are on full display with equal transparency, finished off with a touch of his trademark cynicism. Allen's concluding self- assessment is both poignant and relevant for those of us privileged enough to live in the developed world.

Not to be overlooked is the sometimes shocking black and blue comedy: a mixture of tasteless sight gags, crude language and hyperbole that culminates in a perfectly outlandish final sequence that may or may not take place outside of our universe. The original and disoriented editing reinforces the dream-like quality of the picture and also charges viewers to confront the ways in which we voluntarily distort our own perceptions of reality. It is this insight that separates Deconstructing Harry from Allen's other pictures, which are generally shallow (albeit entertaining), self-serving examinations of love, lust and the "meaning of life." Those who say that this film is mainly recycled material or that this is just an unapologetic attempt by Allen to repair his image have sadly missed the point.

A celebration of Humanity and our quest for knowledge, 7 May 2014
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Stanley Kubrick's landmark science fiction film has withstood the test of time with its spectacular visual presentation, beloved classical music, striking realism and thought-provoking (though deliberately vague) plot. Critics and film fans agree that few, if any, science fiction films that have been released before or after measure up to the sheer majesty and filmmaking brilliance of "2001".

One of the best elements of the film, perhaps often overlooked by critics, is the way in which it celebrates humanity and its exploratory aspirations as a wonderfully natural, ever-evolving, manifestation of the universe, a universe which appears devoid of any divine intervention. In the film's beginning, we observe early hominids, highly social yet primal cave-dwellers, as they gradually come to the realization that something as trifle as a bone can be used as a tool, or a weapon. This discovery, no doubt a monumental event in our evolutionary history, is marked by the presence of a black monolith, which suddenly and mysteriously appears beside their cave. The film then jumps ahead several million years and we observe technologically-advanced humans now shuttling freely through space, as they seek to learn more about an identical black monolith that has been found on the lunar surface. As the film progresses, we learn little of the origins of the monolith, except that it appears to be a product of extraterrestrial intelligence, and that it is sending a radio signal in the direction of the planet Jupiter. The next appearance of the monolith, now in orbit around Jupiter, segues in to a truly befuddling and psychedelic visual and auditory experience that culminates with the rebirth of one of the major characters, dubbed "star-child," in orbit around Earth at the film's conclusion.

There has been much speculation regarding the significance of the monolith, whether it represents something tangible or if it is merely used as a McGuffin to provide some semblance of a narrative in an otherwise plot-less movie. Attempting to overanalyze this and the film's final sequence does a disservice to the film and to the viewing experience. Instead, the film as a whole can be seen as a portrayal of the quest for discovery and the human thirst for knowledge, rather than being about the actual discoveries themselves. We observe humans at different stages of history learning, exploring, questioning and deciphering. We see numerous applications of science and reasoning along the way. That the quest spans millions of years, and with an absence of a clear resolution in the film, implies that this pursuit is forever a part of who we are. The answers to questions regarding the monolith and "star-child" are not explicitly revealed, because in this context they are not important. It is the questioning that is, and an understanding that the quest for discovery is who we are and what we do.

It is important to embrace this film because it embodies everything we are and everything we humans stand for. We are uncompromisingly curious and intelligent beings, with an emerging universal consciousness. We constantly seek answers, even if we know that they may not be what we want or what we can comprehend. As the film depicts, the quest for knowledge and discovery has taken us on a path from primitive hunter-gatherer to space faring beings, exploring places we once only dreamed of as we surge on deeper into the universe from which we originated. The final question raised by the film: how much farther can we go in the next few million years? Ultimately, that is up to us and the direction our species decides to take.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Startlingly realistic, honest and raw..., 12 March 2014
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

And I'm not referring to the love scenes.

This film immerses the viewer immediately with it's realistic characters, settings and raw emotions. First and foremost the performances. Adèle Exarchopoulos pops off the screen with her gritty, layered and wholly sympathetic performance as Adele. It's a game changing performance and one of the best I've ever seen from any actor, male or female. She breathes life into Adele's vulnerability, insecurity, naivety and passion as illustrated by the introverted, cute yet mysterious teenager we see on screen. Gradually we watch Adele mature, even as she retains her many of her teenage insecurities, as the film sweeps along several years. Kechiche confidently keeps the entire focus on her, with both the script and cinematography. That we only see things from her perspective helps us connect even more with her emotions, especially when her feelings are conflicted. When Adele is lonely, we feel lonely. When she is confused, we are confused. We get how much she needs her lover, Emma, and how unhappy she is without her.

The story stays real and avoids the romantic movie clichés of mainstream cinema. Léa Seydoux, as Emma, is equally complex as Adele albeit with greater social and artistic ambitions. Emma evolves throughout the course of the movie, obvious symbolic proof when she ditches the blue hairdo about 2/3 of the way through. We see them grow apart because their interests and dreams are not perfectly aligned, unlike the intense physical attraction they have for one another. Adele is content with her life with Emma, while Emma increasingly feels unfulfilled. Adele is an outsider in (what she considers) Emma's intellectual social circle, and begins to suspect Emma may be cheating on her with a mysteriously pregnant lady. But we're never sure what Emma's thinking or doing because Adele is never sure. This heightens the tension in their scenes together and ultimately makes the picture heartbreaking.

Not often do we get films that are completely enchanting AND uncompromisingly honest. "Blue Is the Warmest Color" gets my highest recommendation.

745 out of 1274 people found the following review useful:
People are too easy to please, 9 May 2012
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Consider: I am not a comic book reader.

Therefore my opinion probably means little to most of you. I just do not understand the love for this movie. The Avengers has every standard comic movie cliché that any movie goer has seen in the last decade. A typical, tired story arc involving a bland, evil, power-hungry, villain who seeks to make the inhabitants of earth submit to his authority. The only comic villain (or character for that matter) who has really challenged the audience in this age of comic movies was Heath Ledger's Joker. Loki, our villain, has been given nothing interesting to do.

Our heroes are then summoned to meet this threat. Instead of one hero coming to the rescue, The Avengers gives us a coalition of Marvel favorites such as Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, and the only intriguing member of the bunch, Iron Man. The rest of our heroes provide little humor nor have anything captivating to say. To top it off, we get a routine showdown in the end involving our heroes against an endless barrage of CGI bad guys summoned by the villain in... guess where? Manhattan, how original.

This humble reviewers opinion is obviously not the norm. Hollywood knows just what people and the box office receipts and IMDb rating indicate just that.

If you are looking for something fresh, smart, and innovate, skip The Avengers.