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Cat People (1982)
Schrader remake - on fire, with gasoline.
Erotic thriller with Nastassja Kinski starring as a young female who's gone searching for her own, inner self. In many ways a remake of the 1942 original, but also in many ways not a remake - a film that stands its own ground, this has a quality of sexual awakening and excitement that the original didn't have. Fabulous music by Giorgio Moroder (also featured is David Bowie's hit-single "Putting Out the Fire") accompanies many of the bloody and sexually occupied scenes that hammers on like they belonged in a artsy-fartsy porn flick. Kinskis performance at the center is typically her: odd, tactless, awkward, outlandish and sensual - in other words, highly enjoyable. She's fantastically beautiful, and she moves through a New Orleans during the fall, shot by John Bailey. And even though the level of thrills ain't always sky-high, the film has a charm and atmosphere that makes it a interesting, stylish and sexy cult picture.
Den enfaldige mördaren (1982)
Powerful and admirable film by Hans Alfredson.
Den Enfaldige Mördaren deserves to be better known. It's a fabulous film directed by Hans Alfredson and stars Stellan Skarsgård in one of his most memorable performances as the hare-lipped young man Sven, who's considered retarded by his surroundings. He seeks consolation and spiritual strength in his faith and visions as his life becomes difficult and tormenting as a worker for the vicious local factory owner Höglund (played by Alfredson himself).
Superbly played out in a slight retrospective manner, the film beholds a major heart. The emotional aspect is big as we witness Sven throughout the film; his childlike manners and his close relation to his guardian angels, the way he gets involved with the girl-next-door, and getting the opportunity to step up and being treated as an adult, receiving weekly salary and learning how to drive a motorcycle. It's a moving journey of a man who everyone around him seems to misunderstand and neglect. These bright and uplifting moments in the film works as a great counterbalance to the darkness it beholds, especially in the character of Höglund - he's first presented to us lurking into the stable where Sven sleeps among the animals, and he speaks violently and shows no affect for Sven, who's just lost his mother. Höglund treats Sven's sister as meat, shows no affection for his wife and kids, and uses gruesome actions to behold power in the local county.
Den Enfaldige Mördaren is packed with symbolism and ideas, and it flows carelessly in place and time (we sense both the Middle Ages and something futuristic, and everything in between) and tells a tale a multi-layered tale, shuffling so many elements of humor, romance, spirituality, society's mangles, vengeance and adventure. It's a film that makes one enthusiastic about European cinema.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Come cross over into the Twilight Zone.
A Twilight Zone movie divided into four chapters directed separately by John Landis, Joe Dante, Steven Spielberg and George Miller - how awesome sounds that? And yes it is awesome, or at least, occasionally it is. The opening prologue of the film is surely one of the great bits as we see Dan Aykroyd and Albert Brooks driving late at night singing along to CCR's "Midnight Special", what follows is both scary and funny. The quality of the four stories varies, but they all behold entertainment and easy fun. The best story is surely enough the last segment, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet", directed by George Miller, starring a trembling and scared John Litghow. The film excels at certain points, and is a must-see for anyone who loves sci-fi / horror movies.
Psycho II (1983)
An impressive achievement.
Psycho (1960) got its follow-up twenty-three years later, and who could have predicted such a quality film as this. Some major assets in the original was its psychological layers, its atmosphere, and the major performance by Anthony Perkins, and impressively, Psycho II contains all of this. The story evolves well, and the antagonist Norman Bates (Perkins) who we saw in a mental cell with his face blurred as a skeleton skull in the final scene of the original, is here presented as someone who's trying to earn himself a place back in society, and as someone the viewer really feels sympathy for. That's a great twist, and as the first half of the film gels elegantly, the second half ups the game with several surprises and complex plot progressions. The cinematography Dean Cundey is splendid, the performances by Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles and Meg Tilly and the music by Jerry Goldsmith is outstanding. Psycho II is definitely one of the best horror sequels I've seen.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
About young love.
Wes Anderson's melancholic, magical, offbeat and fantastical world has spellbound audiences since his major breakthrough "Rushmore" in 1998. Since then his career has gone both back and forth in quality, not so much in subject matter. Anderson's films are more or less about the same things, and his "auteur" qualities are admirable and rare in American contemporary filmmakers. "Moonrise Kingdom" tells the story about a young boyscout that runs away with a girl during the last days of summer. Families and authorities soon starts looking for them. The performances by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are good, no question about it, but the writing and handling of them makes them come at a distance - they are more alien than sympathetic, more odd than charming. The cast that surrounds these two are played by Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban and Harvey Keitel - a fantastic ensemble cast.
Anderson's highly stylistic approach is turned to eleven and every camera movement, every shot, every bit of dialog and use of clothing is draped in his vision. It's a good thing, but as well known, when style overrides substance and story, one can be left bemused, as I felt.
Still, the film gels well, and though it lacks some drama and emotional involvement throughout, there's much to enjoy - simply the pure ambition Anderson lays in trying to encompass the joys and sorrows of growing up in a world that isn't perfect for everyone or for that matter, anyone at all. The impact is as of a sleeper, as the viewer goes along the fantasia of a cinematic place that one is happy Anderson creates on screen, because it can never be in the real world - for both better and worse.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Why So Serious Nolan?
I don't get the praise director Nolan gets; does he mix eye candy and brain food that well? No. Does he direct action scenes supremely? Surely not. Does he inject vital finesses of irony and charm? No. Does he pace and edit his films well? No. Does he get the best out of his actors? No. Most importantly, does he tell a good story? Not by a mile. Does he treat his audience with intellectual respect? Not a chance. The story of the entire Batman trilogy started out good enough, got mixed up and messy during the second installment, and as it goes in "The Dark Knight Rises" you're lucky if you understand half the things going on: Characters shift motivations in the blink of an eye, there's loads of shallow and unnecessary ideas, the need to use flashbacks in every other scene both over-explains and confuses, every single scene has something "incredibly" important to say as the plot chameleons through different stages and what happened to the word "COMIC" in comic books film? It's all gone. Nolan paints it black and takes us down to the depths of darkness, here we're given muscleman Bane to incarnate this evil and violence - forgive me, but his character snaps peoples' necks in an indifferent way, he talks too much and too articulate, and he's having a tough time outmaneuvering everyone's favorite villain from "The Dark Knight", The Joker (Heath Ledger). And the way Bane's utter importance disappears in the final third of the movie, as Marion Cotillard's (wow, that's a miscast!) character enters as the true villain, is laughable. Everything we've experienced throughout the 165 minutes with Bane as the numero uno bad-guy goes out the window as Cotillard's Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises and a flirting flick that blinks at Bruce Wayne, shows her true colors with a knife and strained explanations. She might be the worst character Nolan's added to the Batman universe. She enters in the final film with so much history, so much pizazz and trickery, and as a viewer I never felt her presence as neither a business executive, a romance interest for Wayne, or as a new, relevant member of the big Gotham family. Now she makes for one half of the film's female ground - the other is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle, also she a miscast. Her character is irritating and too important. She never really fails, she never really gets in any real trouble, she never involves herself especially in anything or anyone, she SUDDENLY becomes flirty with Wayne/Batman and co-operates with him, she has some feigned, badly worded jokes, and she's completely stupid looking in that catsuit. Now, in being too important I mean she takes way too much screen time, she's all too important for Batman to defeat the villains at the end, and she's very self-important though does anyone really mind her presence at all? Talking of too much importance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake. This guy knows everything that's going on and he never makes a mistake, and he has some of the worst scenes in the film - when he explains to Wayne that "he saw it in his eyes", you really don't forgive Nolan and the screenwriters for getting away with murder as bad writing goes. The importance of this character is so overdone, so out of proportions that he almost outshines Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) himself during the finale. Why is it Blake that stands on the bridge at the end watching the explosion and not Gordon? That would have had a significance, an emotional impact - but Blake standing there, no way. Or maybe it was a way to push Blake into becoming Batman's successor, a way of understanding the heritage of the hero - during the end we're revealed that Blake's original name is Robin. I really don't want to see Gordon-Levitt playing Robin in a fourth Gotham film, jumping around in Gotham without Batman.
The music by Hans Zimmer is unrelenting and monotone. The cinematography is fine, all dark, drained and grainy. The acting performances by Christian Bale enhances the movie's quality, he is a great actor and he has some very good scenes, including some dialog with Alfred (also a very good Michael Caine), the scenes in the "Hell on Earth" prison, the scenes in which he's crippled and depressed. Sadly his Bruce Wayne character takes a bad turn where he during the despairing emotions concerning Rachel's death and love for Harvey Dent suddenly takes a swing at Miranda. Sure, he's a lonesome wolf, but that doesn't help as he utterly shows no interest for anything or anyone earlier in the film (when Alfred states during the party that there was a pretty woman, he says he doesn't care. Or when Alfred jokes around that he's returning home alone without female company, we know what Wayne's been up to talking law and order with Selina inside the party). Morgan Freeman's character is downplayed some, luckily we get several good bits with Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, one of the major assets of the entire Batman trilogy.
Much of the atmosphere and spark that was created in "Batman Begins", and that blossomed and spellbound in "The Dark Knight", fades away in "The Dark Knight Rises", and we're left with half the heart, and that half is not very good. Though it still is fairly entertaining and there are several things to mildly enjoy, it doesn't hold a candle against great superhero films as "X2" and "Spider-Man 2". With all this said, the film's biggest failure is it's running time, stretching towards three hours, it becomes an ordeal to sit through towards the end.
Its the end of the world, as he knows it.
Yes. The GAUTE is a short film made by the Walther brothers and it tells a touching story about a young man whose obsession over fish goes over board. The main performance is played out by a young talented Norwegian who clearly adapts the character he's playing with zest and pathos. It is acutely shot in Norwegian landscapes evoking loneliness and sadness. The grey tones in the undercurrents are reliable and sensible, and so one has to trust them to go along for the ride. The musical involvements are small fingerings of piano that makes for an oddity of sensation that starts and stops precisely at the right time. GAUTE gained good critics by its local critics and will remain as one of the signs of promising Norwegian films to come.
Prom Night (2008)
The Killing Prom Night
Straightforward boring remake in the post-Halloween style about a group of friends during their prom night finding themselves on the run from a serial killer. There is no such thing as suspense or 3D characteristics, and it rehashes all of the genre clichés, which makes you feel that you've seen it all a dozen times before. People move around in corridors and rooms, where lights flicker, with the murderer lurking around in the shadows, and so there is suddenly a squeaky sound, and it's a big SOUND OF NOISE supposed to make you jump, but oh (!) it was nothing, but oh, wait, it was something after all, it was... the killer. Sadly the killer is one of the less effective I've seen in a horror film, mostly because you see his face all the time (a handsome face too), and he's a romantic at heart, and he uses a small, jagged knife that would look better on a cheeseboard table, and he wears a cap. When the killer and his chosen one battles throughout the latter parts of the film, they sound more like a married couple arguing. And the prom night dramatics are truly terrible, as we shuffle through kings and queens, slow dances, DJ music, partying and school nostalgia. This is bad American teenage horror.
A Family Terrorized
The minute TRESPASS begins, one can sense that dreadful feeling of a bad movie. It all stumbles along painfully as we're introduced to married couple Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman who will alongside their restless teenage daughter, be held ransom throughout the movie. The pacing is totally offbeat, and so is also the weak script following alongside it. The tension built is mostly by Cage's character whining up and down about something be wrong with the money in his safe, as he also tries in numerous ways to lure the bad-guys , and Nicole Kidman's character keeps an odd secret which she shares with one of the bad-guys. As for the daughter, she's a waste. What does she do except add the third member of the family? She's annoyed by her parents, and has low self esteem. She sneaks out of the house to party a friend's house, where she experiments with drugs. Coming home, she's captured immediately and placed beside her parents. And the three of them scream continuously, and they point guns to each other's heads. Director Joel Schumacher has done some bad movies throughout his career, and this one adds to his bucket. (Heads up! Candidate for 2011's worst poster!)
Cars 2 (2011)
Pixar Studios makes the best animation films out there, and they've been showing over and over again their elaborateness when making them. Sadly I saw that CARS 2 seemed more like a machinery for money, than a movie with an actual heart. The plot is thin and sadly uninspired, and the actions herein revolves around fast-paced dialog and fire and explosions. The original CARS had charm and atmosphere, and although it wasn't the best piece of Pixar, it had an all-and-all good standard. CARS 2 doesn't have it, and I found myself missing all the good contents that has become trademarks of Pixar's films. This may be a new low for the company and crew, so one can only hope that they'll bounce back and show us that they've still got it.