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Død snø (2009)
Definitely maniacal, sometimes funny
'Død snø (Dead Snow)' is a Norwegian horror movie about group of students on Easter vacation in mountains, only to find that they're not alone. Zombies are here, but not regular zombies, Nazi-zombies! Yes, pretty crazy.
Now the good parts of this movie are most of the killings, they're done in convincing and sometimes crazy-cool way (like probably the best scene in the movie when Martin and Roy confront the Nazi-zombies). And Wirkola keeps the tempo of his movie right until the end; there is no stopping of action or slashing once that Nazi-zombies reveal themselves. As you probably guess these are all the good parts. The bad ones include illogical story about zombies; I know it doesn't matter in this type of movie but how did they actually become zombies? How much soldiers are there (cause it seems like there are hundreds of them and that doesn't work with the part where they tell us that villagers killed some of the soldiers and some escaped in the mountains)? To put these questions aside, 'Dead Snow' deals with typical slasher movie problem, where there is no room left to work on character development and so we end up not being sympathetic towards the characters, but it seems like that was the intention of the director (slash first, talk-questions second).
Nazi-zombies are well made, they act like tougher versions of Barbossa & his crew in first 'Pirates' movie where their curse needs to be broken with pieces of gold - here zombies search for the same thing. In all this slashing and killing there is time for some funny moments which I particularly liked and presumably slasher lovers won't be disappointed with this title, because it is better then most new American slash movies, but 'Dead Snow' doesn't add anything new to the genre but it does make a fun, maniacal 90 minutes of your life.
Niciji sin (2008)
I had to see absolute winner of Pula Film Festival (best director,actor,music...) so I had high expectations about this one and I must say that I'm not disappointed at all. Since I also saw play "Niciji sin" from Vinko Brean in theater in Rijeka, I was familiar with the script.
In short description, this movie is about Ivan, ex-singer and war veteran who lost both legs in war. Ivan also has to face with his broken marriage and son that he doesn't see. Ivan has no future, just like lot of his colleagues from war (who either kill themselves or end up in institution). His father, Izidor is political candidate and he wants to win on elections desperately. His campaign is disturbed when Serbian refugee Simo comes to his house and starts to blackmail him. Soon, all secrets will come out.
This movie is very interesting to people from this areas, who are familiar to events that happened in Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia during the war and after it. Foreigners who are not familiar with situation here in the war can easily learn something about it because the whole point of the story is about ex-soldiers who have obvious problems from war, and no one can help them. They are left to die alone and misunderstood (same story with American soldiers in Iraq - greatly told in "In the Valley of Elah"). Also I have to say that Ostojic movie is better then Bresan play because it's deeper in characterization (ironical parts are strong in both play and movie). Events are told retrospectively and the whole movie is carried by Alen Liveric in the main role. Liveric is brilliant and this is definitely the best acted role in Croatian movie for 2008. Liveric has support from legendary Mustafa Nadarevic and actors like Biserka Ipsa, Zdenko Jelcic, Goran Grgic and others. Everyone is great in their roles and I think this is the best Croatian movie in 2008. "Niciji sin" is Croatia's 2009 Academy Awards official submission to Foreign-Language Film category and it fully deserved that because it's a story about a family that is condemned to doom cause of stupid war. Recommended, especially for audience who likes festival types of movies rather then blockbusters with no brains.
Let Liam Neeson take you into "Taken"!
"Taken" is not another stupid action thriller of B production with bad actors and low budget; "Taken" is what modern action thriller should look like, written by Luc Besson, directed by Pierre Morel and brilliantly acted by one and only Liam Neeson. Neeson brings completely new approach to his character and proves that you don't need to have tons of muscles to be an action star (he's 56 remember!!); he has the height, style, approach, in one word: he's cool! Above everything he is a great actor and he proves that once again. I could go on and on talking about Neeson but I want to say a few things about this movie. Following path of revenge Besson takes us on a ride that is full of action and the whole story is told in beautiful simplicity. It doesn't present nothing new, but the way the whole movie was filmed, with amazing action scenes (some of them brutal like electricity torture) and great actor in main role, you gotta' be satisfied with final outcome. And yes, you know that he's going to save everyone but then again Seagal also saves everyone but 95% of his movies are stupid. That is the magic of this movie cause Besson didn't present anything new. You just need to have passable script, good, young director, be European and have good actor in main role. All I can say, just let Liam Neeson take you into "Taken"!
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks & Gene Wilder presents...
In times where good comedies are hard to find, and especially parodies, we can all turn to past and genius work of Mel Brooks. Few days ago I watched his "Blazing Saddles" and today I caught "Young Frankenstein" on TV. I must say that "Young Frankenstein" is my favorite and I don't remember when was the last time I laughed as hard as today to a comedy. I'm not going to re-tell the scenes cause words can't describe that but I am going to mention brilliant acting crew lead by great Gene Wilder. Peter Boyle is also great as The Monster, just like Marty Feldman as Igor. Three ladies, Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn & Cloris Leachman are brilliant and there is small role of Gene Hackman that I didn't notice, to tell you the truth, wile I watched the movie. There is no Mel Brooks as actor in this one but his presence as director and writer (with Wilder) can be easily recognized. That's his style and "Young Frankenstein" is movie made by group of comedy geniuses. It's not overrated nor overacted but it is bright and funny. So if you want to laugh...
Låt den rätte komma in (2008)
European cinematography at its best
It's very hard to describe what I feel about this movie but I'm going to try. I've never read the book nor I've ever heard of it's writer:John Ajvide Lindqvist. I read that this is his first book and after watching this movie I must read it. I'm guessing the book is good and I can certainly say that the movie is brilliant. One of the best European and world movies of 2008. (at least an Oscar nominee for 'Best foreign film'...)
Plot is about 12-year old boy Oscar, who is very fragile and weak individual. He is bullied by his classmates and he takes all that quietly, without fighting back. Beside that his parents are separated and he lives with his mother. Oscar visits his father who obviously has drinking problems and the absence of father figure and friend makes Oscar so fragile and unable to stand for himself. Finally Oscar finds friend in his new neighbor, Eli. Eli is same age like Oscar with only one problem. She is a vampire...
In all other cases this would be a life drama but here one of the main characters is vampire so we've got a touch of supernatural (if you aren't fan of vampires don't let this plot alienate you from this movie). While Oscar parents are separated, Eli has a father who would do anything for her. What Eli needs is blood, to survive, so her dad kills people. But he is not a killer and he just couldn't go on killing people so he tries to kill himself with acid and later on, there is a great scene in the hospital where Eli's dad says goodbye to his daughter and then sacrifices himself for her. He really loved his daughter and he did all he could. The opposite is Oscar father, but I talked about that before. The relationship between Oscar and Eli is elaborated to perfection. They're both kids and maybe we cannot use word love but then again the actions they make shows us what love is all about. They need each other to survive and like it's said in the movie;they are the same. The ending shows what two kids feel for each other and it makes us think what will their future be like. I feel that from the beginning to end, somewhere on the way, Eli & Oscar have grown up and now they'll try to manage on their own (just my opinion).
All scenes are carefully directed so everything looks perfect, with minimum of computer staff, which makes it even better. Director Tomas Alfredson uses different angles, slow movements of the camera so the scenes like the hospital one or at the swimming pool are memorable and they will stick with you long after watching this movie. The actors are amazing. I mean we're talking about two kids, who never acted before and here they shine. Both Kåre Hedebrant and Lina Leandersson are great but really there is no one bad in the entire acting crew.
My opinion is that movies like this one, "El laberinto del fauno", "Oldboy" or any other non American masterpieces shouldn't be remade by the Americans just because someone is to lazy to read the subtitles. Please Hollywood, don't ruin something that you cannot do better. For all lovers of serious movies (cause this is much, much more then vampire tale), specially European ones, watch this Swedish movie. And if you do not see the brilliance of this movie then go back to your "Transformers" or whatever brainless fun you like. Cause this, and movies like this, can inspire someone to become director, actor or something that includes movies. Highly recommended!!!
The Skeleton Key (2005)
Great surprise and brilliant Gena Rowlands
In the lack of good horror movies I turned to "The Skeleton Key" because of mostly good reviews on IMDb and very good grade for horror movie. For the first time, in a while, I didn't regret it. "The Skeleton Key" is very good movie with plot and twist at the end that will keep you awake and satisfied. Although the ending does not present anything revolutionary or something new, it's good, and the whole movie is packed up with capable direction of Iain Softley and good acting. It's a prof that still good horror movies can be made but only if you have good script. Kate Hudson is great surprise in this sort of movie and she's solid in her role. Peter Sarsgaard could be better and legendary John Hurt had nothing to act. Definitely Gena Rowlands steals the show. She's great actress and a bit forgotten star so watch this movie because of her and cause of good, round up movie.
The Hunting Party (2007)
Perhaps if the International Community opened a summerstock theatre...
After solid 'The Matador'(brilliant Brosnan), Richard Shepard decided to direct a movie that is about catching war criminal in Bosnia. I must say that this is a very brave project and I salute Mr.Shepard on demanding to shoot the entire movie on places were its plot happens (alright there is no Serbia but it's clear why) and not in Czech Republic (it would be much much cheaper). What is great about this one is obvious critic to USA (advertise in papers and phone number that you can call but only from America...), UN (they're actually not doing anything;great scene when our main characters talk with Indian guy with donuts), NATO, EU, The Hague, secret services and everyone who are pretending that they're catching war criminals. Three journalists found out where is 'The Fox'(actually character of Radovan Karadjic who is caught few months ago) hiding and all secret services couldn't do that in 5 years (they obviously didn't want to). What I also liked is the end when Simon, Duck and Benjamin surrender 'The Fox' to people of town he bombarded and destroyed. In real life those people were hunted, killed and raped and no one couldn't do anything about it, nor great America, United Nations, no one. That is greatly described in movies like "No Man's Land" but "The Hunting Party" is American movie so I'm a bit surprised by the level of truth there is in this movie. Because of that I'm willing to pass over some minuses like thin script or very fast ending. Also the direction of Shepard is very good just like the acting. Gere & Howard are great together and those humor parts aren't faked so there is chemistry between them. I must say that Terrence Howard is better then Richard Gere in here but Gere always gets away on a charming card. 5 minutes of Diane Kruger as Mirjana are great just like the role of my country-men Ljubomir Kerekes as 'The Fox'. So if you want to watch a movie that presents only the facts then you have to watch this movie and maybe learn something about the war on these areas. War is now behind us and I think that this crew enjoyed themselves on beautiful locations like Sarajevo, Zagreb or at the Adriatic sea.
Tons of mistakes; when will Americans learn something that's actually correct about Europe??!!
Being European myself, I find this movie stupid. Yes, there are few funny scenes like Italian guy from the train, nudist beach, Absinthe (poor Americans don't know what they're missing:D) or Amsterdam scenes but the whole movie losses good grade when our group arrives in Italy. I'm not a believer, but scenes in Vatican City are idiotic. Two stupid Americans jumping all around the Pope's residence (in real life they wouldn't come near the Pope) or sex in confessional. It's really idiotic. But what hurts me the most is that the makers of this movie didn't even try to learn about Europe, or at least about towns where their plot is taking place. For example Bratislava; anyone who ever visited that city knows that scenes from this movie are ridiculous; I mean here Bratislava looks like the army passed few minutes ago (or our main characters staying in great hotel with 2 dollars; yeah right!!). In the middle of London Scott and Cooper are drinking with supporters of Manchester United. The name of the club is Manchester Utd. and that means they are from town of Manchester. Cause near Big Ben they would probably be beaten by supporters of Arsenal, Fulham, Chelsea, West Ham, Tottenham or 10 other minor league teams who's master town is London. At last most of the movie was filmed in Czech Republic!!! So Americans proved that they don't know anything about the world, except probably their own street where they live in but that's something that we all knew before this movie. Maybe group of people, not over 20, will like this movie but other then that I don't know who else would like to watch movie full of mistakes with 4 typical Americans visiting Europe and thinking that Paris is in suburb of Berlin (I know it's supposed to be funny but lots of Americans even don't know where are most of European towns in this movie and that's really sad)!
Iza stakla (2008)
Trapped in a love triangle that had to break in a tragic way
"Iza stakla" is a movie from well-known Croatian director Vinko Bresan and it tells us a story of unhappy life that our three main characters are leading. Marriage between Nikola and Maja Jeren is falling apart because of lack of love and infidelity from Nikola side. Nikola is working as an architect and he's cheating his wife with his associate Ana. Here we've got love triangle that had to break at end, cause everyone wanted something. Maja wants her husband and father for their daughter back but she couldn't forgive him infidelity (although her mother and sister had the same problem), which makes her the strongest character in the movie. Nikola on the other hand is a weak individual and he cannot end his marriage even tough there is no love from his side; at the same time he cannot run away with the women he loves but he keeps on living in lie for over 6 years (Ana). Ana is between two fires, cause she loves Nikola but deep inside knows that he cannot be her man. That's why we've got tragic end (like "Babel" beginning, what happened to Pitt's wife), in which Nikola loses everything and there is no need to pity him because you can't go on pretending that everything is all right when it's not.
What makes this movie believable is a script and the characters that can be fund in every day life. Performances of Lucev, Djokic (bravo!!) and Lorenci are great and in supporting roles we can see all well known Croatian actors. Vinko Bresan's direction is very good and maybe this is the best movie he ever made and maybe it's the best Croatian movie of the year (must see 'Niciji sin' to make final judgment). A little minus is only length of this movie (only 80 minutes); I would add couple of scenes at the end. But I'm meticulous here; this is a great movie that I recommend for every fan of drama and serious movies. Good job done for everyone involved!
Silly Washy And Trashy (S.W.A.T.)
S.W.A.T. stands for Silly Washy And Trashy as far as we're talking about this movie. 'S.W.A.T.' fails to deliver on all levels so during the movie you keep asking yourself why? Why is this movie made and for what audience? I mean 12-15 will have a good time, but any one who is a bit serious will easily see that there is no script worth reading, no acting and directing worth looking. Script is stupid (why in the world would French criminal Alex Montel, wanted all over the world, enter in the U.S.A. and all alone??...), impossible (plane landing on bridge...) and predictable (we all knew that Josh Charles ((T.J. McCabe)) would be a traitor cause he always plays same type of characters...). But I'll put aside stupid and unrealistic plot that gives all the actors nothing to act and mention the fact that this movie is so slow. There is no action adrenaline or any action scene worth remembering so this really became just another missed action flick (Silly) with few known actors, cliché scenes (Washy) and idiotic plot (Trashy) = S.W.A.T. But I've seen worse so my grade is 3.