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*You might find some of my choices ridiculous - "Why is this Adam Sandler movie in here?!" or "Who wants to read subtitles for two hours?" ;D
Like lovingly being smothered by cuddly unicorns...
Watching this show is like lovingly being smothered by cuddly unicorns. It's about connectedness, overcoming what separates us as human beings - the deeply felt seclusion based on different backgrounds and desires. It's about the radical loneliness of existence itself and how it is magically transformed for the main characters. It's beautifully made, the cast is gorgeous and talented through and through and their individual stories are generally captivating. But the whole thing is just a one-dimensional mess of wish fulfillment: terrible writing (plot convenience and holes...), many plain characters, a main story that never leaves the ground - it's a sweet and sexy fairy tale, often (ironically?) a soap opera, sometimes funny, but seldomly convincing or thrilling. It makes you feel good. Visually and emotionally very pleasing. But at its core it's just hollow kitsch. I liked it a lot for its smooth surface and its numbing effect. Sweet sweet mind- numbing poison!
The Wolverine (2013)
Connect the dots
First off something positive: I love Hugh Jackman, both as an actor in general and especially as the very incarnation of Wolverine! Just look at this hunk of manly manliness who at the same is so in touch with himself that he can convincingly express a variety of fine emotions - what an actor! The movie gets three stars solely for Jackman's marvelous primeval presence which he skilfully balances with some degree of vulnerability, grief, affection and anger.
As for the rest, i.e. the movie itself: It's set in Japan and consists of an exhaustive mash of every single stereotype and platitude there is about this country and its culture. The (far from complete) list in more or less chronological order reads: WW II, harakiri, atom bomb, swords, sword-wielding schoolgirls, industrial tycoon clan, dojo, ronin, patriarchy, face shields, more suicide, yakuza, ninjas, more swords, pachinko, shinkansen, love hotels, racism (gaijin!), more ninjas, samurai stuff and still more swords, ninjas again (even on motorcycles!) and to put the cherry on the cake: a samurai armor suit! The plot is best summarized as a connect-the-dots of these elements and mixed with Logan's grief and lack purpose.
It's not always clear who the villain is supposed to be since the focus changes several times. Shingen the ambitious son, the Yakuza (just henchmen I guess), Viper (who is just some exotic but dispensable prop in this plot), Noburo (Minister of Justice, just your typical corrupt, ambitious and hedonistic politician), Harada (who conveniently turns good guy again after being stabbed in the leg - how cathartic! - and then continues to jump around like a cat), or Yashida, who - unsurprisingly - plotted to gain immortality all along! So take a pick!
The love story isn't too bad if you ignore the obvious erotic calculations of pairing a brutish force of nature (Logan) with a delicate fragile woman (Mariko). It doesn't evolve to much and mainly serves Logan to get over his guilt and anxiety over Jean's death. So this is also optional.
Half the action scenes are good, with three exceptions: The scene on the shinkansen roof goes way over the top with physical plausibility (the part with them accelerating all the time). The scene with the snow plow truck: The grisly humor wasn't totally lost on me, but for my taste way too implausible again. Those inaudible cat-like ninjas, that were doing somersaults just for the heck of it 15 minutes earlier, being surprised by that truck and getting run over? Finally the fight between Wolverine (after regaining his healing abilities) and Shingen (with samurai armor, katana and wakizashi...): I expected a real fight, blade against claw. Instead we have Shingen slashing away at Logan who takes hit after hit, serving as a sword dummy. At this point of the story they should have shifted the focus away from Logan's (in)vulnerability, which was to this point done for 90 minutes, back to him being Wolverine, the guy with the long sharp claws, the fighting machine.
I kinda hated this movie a little but still don't regret seeing it thanks to Hugh Jackman. I'd recommend it to fans of him and the X-Men franchise - otherwise: avoid it!
iPassion or the lack of passion, tension or interest
The movie starts with the Apple® logo fullscreen (this same shot appears a second time 2/3 into the movie) and features it on different products in about half the scenes - Apple® should get acting credits for this! DePalma must be out of his mind: One shot has the camera move over a desk with a blurry background including a computer whose logo (you guessed it!) is unblurred for the second the camera catches it in the center.
The story has some potential but is more or less ruined. We don't care about anyone in this - only one character is worth being called a character (McAdams) and she is despicable (not to "spoil" anything I won't mention why this could be relevant). The plot seems forced at times and let's what little there was of interest plummet during the second half of the movie. Overall it's plainly boring. There isn't even any sexual tension, not between the main characters or anyone else. It's this movie's main selling point and they act it like the robots their characters are (again, this is less true for McAdams' character who get's - I dare not say it - some "depth").
Some of the scenes are so close to being out of a soap opera that they are unintentionally funny (the childhood story being told, Rapace getting Dirk's phone call in the car, the ridiculous scene in the parking garage...). And why is there some music that sounds like a 90s soft-core movie?!
Two stars for the great combination of dutch angles with light and shadow at the peripety (only to be over-used afterwards...).