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A journey into the heart of nihilistic darkness
A meticulously crafted film that takes us on a journey into the heart of nihilistic darkness. In an unknown country and unspecified time, two men are led by the Stalker into the forbidden Zone, where a room exists that grants your deepest desires (known or unknown). In plot terms, very little happens. Yet Tarkovsky skillfully builds tension throughout, using some quite startling imagery. The pace is definitely slow, but I found it quite gripping.
Do lok tin si (1995)
Well worth seeing.
Kar-Wai is a master of cinematic style, and this film illustrates the point: the bravura use of the camera, the elliptical narrative structure, the quirky characters, and the driving soundtrack. What marks him out from other directors who are just flashy, is his ability to bring to this style something that has real depth, and a power to move.
This film is populated with the usual city dwellers who are essentially lonely and looking for connection with someone or something real and meaningful. And yet, amongst all the quirky behaviour, and choreographed violence, Kar-Wai takes the time to illicit out sympathy for these people in some surprisingly tender moments.
Well worth seeing.
Marius et Jeannette (1997)
A rather tender and poignant love story
A rather tender and poignant love story, about Jeannette who is an outspoken woman, and looses her job as a cashier because she is apt to speak her mind once too often. She meets up with the taciturn Marius. They both have painful pasts to deal with. Guediguian creates a finely judged low-key film from this story, weaving in some nice touches about the small community of friends from the industrial area where Jeannette lives. Guediguian's strong left-of-centre politics intrude into the narrative rather crudely at times, but not enough to spoil the film.
Beau travail (1999)
An interesting but rather disappointing film
As with Denis' latest UK release - "Trouble Every Day (2001)" - there is much to admire in this film. This study of an ex-Legionnaire looking back on his army life, and the jealousy that leads to his dismissal, powerfully depicts the claustrophobic macho lifestyle amidst the bleak African landscapes. However, as with "Trouble" I was left feeling let down by the end. The drama of the film is so contained and understated, that I thought it seems to peter out into nothing. I found this an interesting but rather disappointing film.
Mon homme (1996)
Inventive, clever, funny... but also misogynistic?
As usual with a Blier film, the narrative is elliptical and challenging. In this study of the relationships between the sexes, Blier employs his considerable directorial skills in a bleakly funny "story" that follows the happy prostitute Marie, who befriends a tramp who later becomes her pimp. The film constantly challenges the male and female stereotypes, though some of the depictions of women in the film do raise the suspicion of misogyny on the director's part. However, a male character's apology to "all women" - made straight to camera at the very last moment of the film - seems to suggest that he is being deliberately provocative. I will need to see the film again to make up my mind.
I will say, though, that this movie is well worth watching. It's inventive, clever, funny, and just great cinema.
Pola X (1999)
A sad disappointment.
I enjoyed Carax's "Les Amants du Pont Neuf" and was therefore expecting this film to be of a similar standard. Well, the first 10 minutes were OK, but then it disintegrates into a rather pretentious journey of a young man looking for the essence of life. A sad disappointment.
Les ripoux (1984)
This film's well worth checking out
I really enjoyed this. It's the old story about the old, experienced cop (Philippe Noiret) being lumbered with an over zealous young inexperienced cop (Thierry Lhermitte). In this case, though, the old cop is also corrupt. Noiret is brilliant as the world-weary father figure, teaching the new recruit that the world is not quite like it's painted in books. This film's well worth checking out.
The Ring Virus (1999)
I was rather disappointed by this film
After all the ecstatic reviews for this film, I was rather disappointed by this film. Supernatural horror films are not usually my sort of thing, but I'm always willing to give something a try. The film was, though, certainly better made than many others of this genre that I've seen, but I still didn't find it very frightening, or, in the end, very convincing.
Perhaps I'm missing something.
Wong Gok ka moon (1988)
An average film with some nice touches
For me, Kar-Wai is one of the great contemporary directors. This is his first feature, and is rather a conventional Hong Kong gangster movie. However, it already has elements of the visual style and technical flourish that are utilised so well in his later more complex films. An average film with some nice touches, but certainly worth watching for Kar-Wai fans.
A beautifully directed low-key study of "Spider", a strange mentally ill man
This is very unlike the usual Cronenberg movie. It's a beautifully directed low-key study of "Spider", a strange mentally ill man trying to understand the world, and in particular his past. Ralph Fiennes plays Spider to absolute perfection. He does not act the part of Spider, he IS Spider. It is a truly magnificent performance. It makes Russell Crowe's performance in Beautiful Mind look like that of a first year acting student.
The film is ambitious in showing us the world from Spider's point of view, fantasies and all. In the end, I felt that the story of Spider's childhood - where the extent of Spider's construction of reality is explored - was a little too simplistic to fully portray Spider's universe.
Nevertheless, an impressive film.