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8 reviews in total 
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Steven Chow moves to an even higher level, 10 April 2005

Chow's fertile imagination leads to a movie that is truly a 21st Century experience. And I'm just not talking about his use of CGI effects, which allow for both amazing martial arts sequences, but cartoony gags worth of Frank Tashlin and Chuck Jones. While Chow's comedy can be quite broad, he is exceptionally clever -- there's a gag involving a cat walking on a roof behind a kung fu master that is Simpsons-worthy. Much like the Ax Gang dance sequence (which is teased in the trailer), it's an example of the constant flow of ideas (hmmm...something else that is a hallmark of The Simpsons). Chow and his collaborators never stop coming up with new things, making the movie a constant delight.

It would be a shame if the Kung Fu in the title would dissuade potential viewers from seeing one of the best comedies of the past 10 years.

Sin City (2005)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Visually imaginative, disturbing storytelling, 10 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It would be hard to do a better job praising the visual wizardry of this film than many of the posters before me. This movie is simply dazzling, and that held my attention throughout the whole 2 hours.

However, the sadistic violence became numbing. After a while, it became pornographic and fetishized -- it's somewhat disturbing that Frank Miller finds it (SPOILER TIME, YOU'VE BEEN WARNED) compelling to have characters shoot at a man's crotch (and then tops that near the end). This is combined with the constant victimization of women as a plot device. It sometimes seem like more women got hit in this movie than in Million Dollar Baby. This may be the one aspect of literally translating the Sin City comics to the screen -- the hard-boiled, ham-handed plots and dialog that may seem hard hitting on the page, take on an exponentially more visceral impact on screen. Thus, the violence, even at its most stylized, still becomes a bit much.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Director undermines own work, 23 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is a labor of love from Mark Moskowitz and while I gave the movie a score of '5', when this movie is good, it's really really good. The search for Dow Mossman motivates the movie and is also a convenient pretext for a discussion of books and a love of literature.

Whatever Moskowitz's flaws as a detective, most of his interview subjects are interesting. For the most part, any digressions caused by his subjects are forgiven.

What can't be forgiven is the slack film-making. I'm not sure what exactly Moskowitz was trying to achieve with his explanations of where he was in the film-making process while watching him do yardwork or something even less compelling then that. Furthermore, although in some of his interviews he shows keen insight, that does not mean everything that comes out of his mouth is interesting. Yet Moskowitz apparently operates under that mistaken belief.

The second half, for the most part, is better than the first, as he comes closer to achieving his goal. Still, he nearly undermines this with some silly decisions that disrupt the flow. (Spoiler time!) In particular, after he finally corrals Mossman, he cuts to some prior interviews -- in a couple cases, they tie in to a point he's making, though sometimes these bits go on too long. Even worse, he decides to cut to a bit where he has the reels of film, explaining that he's going on vacation but needs to have his film secured while his family is away. This is quite pointless.

Finally, what is particularly frustrating, is that once he starts talking to Mossman, he fails to recognize perhaps an even greater story in his midst. Although the fact that Mossman spent some time in the IL' 'nervous hospital' is mentioned, Moskowitz doesn't dig. Moreover, Mossman later notes how when he wrote, he just kept working on it and working on it, editing and changing and editing and changing, and he couldn't stop. This, combined with some other qualities that show some unusual obsessive behavior, may have made for an even better film (in some respects, in league with Crumb), with the quest for Mossman reduced, and then a study of Mossman taking up the bulk of the feature. Of course, this would require a filmmaker more focused on his subject than how his subject relates to the filmmaker.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Important film, but not a great one, 15 February 2004

I'm a big fan of Errol Morris, but I don't think this is one of his top efforts. While this film is full of interesting and thought provoking material, cinematically the film drags at points. Morris's artier interludes, with the use of simultaneous fast-motion and slow-motion photography and the jets of statistics edited together, fail to add anything to the movie, either in terms of content or style.

Obviously, the access to McNamara and the archived tape recordings of conversations between the subject and Kennedy and Johnson are the bulk of the movie. However, despite the attempt to organize the movie via the 11 'lessons', the movie lacks a certain structure. I suppose it could be argued that this lack of clarity is equivalent to the lack of clarity that those in power had when dealing with Vietnam. But I expect Morris to clarify and remove the fog, so to speak.

If anything, this movie felt like it was part of something that should have been much more comprehensive. Nevertheless, it is still a valuable look from the perspective of a major architect. Perhaps he is self-serving (or rather, it is highly likely that he is), but that is also illuminating.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Making the incredible come to life, 15 February 2004

Even before I read Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, mountain climbing was very high on my things-I-never-want-to-do-in-my-entire-life list. However, because of that book, I was certainly fascinated by the endeavor. Although the contemporary IMAX documentary Everest was fine, it didn't satisfy me. I wanted to confirm that the images Krakauer conjured in my mind were correct.

That is cured by this excellent film. The other comments here do a swell job of encapsulating the story. I think the director here found the best way to tell this story. I think what really makes this work is that it takes you right to the mountain. Yes, the decision to 'recreate' may not please everyone. But you need to see the steep drops, the seemingly bottomless crevasses, and the picks and boots attempting to gain hold on the icy surfaces to fully appreciate the magnitude of what happened. The contrast of the visceral thrill packed recreations and the measured matter-of-fact stories of Joe and Simon provides balance and manages to heighten the drama without becoming histrionic.

A frightfully great movie. Literally.

Monster (2003)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Lifetime movie with extra grit, 18 January 2004

Charlize Theron's fine, albeit slightly overrated, performance, centers the movie. Unfortunately, there's not much surrounding it. Condensing anyone's life story into a two hour package inevitably involves simplifying details. However, in Monster, the movie didn't just simplify the story -- it eliminated any complexity whatsoever. While the movie (smartly) doesn't deify Aileen Wuornos, it doesn't provide much insight other than sketching out a brief history of her troubled background and that she wanted to be loved. Yet the movie seems to fear too many rough edges -- reading reviews of this movie that give it credit for its portrayal of a seedy Florida milieu, I'm struck by the fact that most of these reviewers wouldn't have the slightest clue what that really would have been like. And that was one area where the movie was most unconvincing. For all the talk about Theron's make up job, what about Christina Ricci's? Considering they were broke most of the film, she must have stocked up on the Cover Girl before running away from home.

This isn't just a matter of picking details. Detachment takes the place of authenticity, which only serves to magnify the lack of context that this movie has. It's not quite comfortable coming from the point of view of the mad Wuornos. And Selby is pretty much a blank. As the movie crawled to its inevitable inevitability, I was left wondering what was point the filmmakers were trying to get across other than it really sucked to be Aileen Wuornos.

The best sequence in the movie is when Wuornos goes out to get a real job. Theron does a great job of conveying both the inflated optimism Wuornos develops in the throes of love, and the quick turnaround when the real world treats the way it always had before. This is the one part of the movie that actually said something.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Effective but not always entertaining, 11 January 2003

I think that Payne achieved the effect he wanted to in his character study of this passionless cipher of man. And Jack Nicholson's performance is one of his finest. But portraying the state of the character doesn't make for the most involving cinematic experience. So this is a movie that I can appreciate, but I can't wholly recommend.

I find Payne's relationship to the characters interesting. Unlike some folks, I think that he has a certain affection for the people from his area, even while he's making fun of them.

While parts of the movie dragged for me, the resolution was powerful and was consistent with the rest of the movie. Nicholson's tears are for many things all at once.

Ultimately, I rated the movie a '6'.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Resonating, 18 October 2002

Even with all of the publicity, I was not prepared for the full experience Michael Moore has created. While it still has the earmarks of his quirky documentary style, it shows a great deal of maturation, as he does not feel the need to insert in a laugh with any degree of frequency. At times things are heavy handed, but he has points he has to make. What really impressed me is how he took a central theme and weaved in many other American problems. Rather than shy away from complexity, his documentary shows how there are no easy answers.