Reviews written by registered user
janqb

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24 reviews in total 
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3 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A Good Comedy Can Be a Physical Workout, 9 November 2006
10/10

"Borat" is hands down the funniest movie I have ever seen. Even though some of the physical comedy may repulse people it can be easily forgiven because "Borat" sets a new standard for the entire comedy film genre.

If you go see this film, you can afford to miss your daily (or weekly) workout at the gym. You'll be laughing so hard for 84 minutes that your abdominal muscles will cramp reflexively, toning and firming your six pack (or two pack, whatever) just as if you were using the ab machine at the gym. If you tend to laugh actively, you may have some scrapes and rug burns on your hands from slapping the arm rest and falling helplessly to the floor in spasms of laughter.

Now you've been warned.

3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Great Story Translates Well Across Cultures, 18 March 2006
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*** CONTAINS SPOILERS *** What a surprise to come across a Korean melodrama that is so heart-warming and a female character that is as endearing and lovable as Kim Sam Soon. Although by no means fat, ugly or plain by American standards (what kinds of insane standards of beauty are Korean women living by?!?), Sam Soon is not particularly striking and sits on the low end of the totem pole in relation to the hordes of pretty, skinny young things that surround her in the drama. Many of Sam Soon's problems are universal ones that women face, such as poor self-image, lack of confidence, unfaithful boyfriends, and a gnawing fear of one's biological clock ticking away. How she triumphs is through determination and a recognition that she can make it on her own, boyfriend or no boyfriend (this is evidenced in her decision to open up her own pastry shop with her sister later in the story).

The script is well-paced and well-written with clever dialogue (some in Korean that unfortunately fly past those of us who don't speak the language) and even more clever scenarios that I promise will have you rolling around laughing. Sam Soon's character is no dainty princess; like a bull in a china shop, she bowls over anyone--man or woman--that stands in her path. She triumphs over prettier and younger women not by wits or a makeover, but by mostly by brute strength.

I can't help feeling uneasy about how Sam Soon and other female characters are too much at the mercy of their men. When Sam Soon's love interest tries to seduce her, conveniently "forgetting" that he is already in a committed relationship, Sam Soon's reason for refusing him is that she wanted to lose 10 - 20 lbs first. Perhaps this was a superficial explanation obscuring the complex undercurrent of meanings that flows through their conversations (ie, the real reason is not her weight but the fact that he is already in a relationship but she doesn't want to confront him about it). However, if Sam Soon's comment was meant literally, then I am frustrated by the writer's decision to present such a flaccid model of womanhood.

Overall, this melodrama is very entertaining, well-acted, has great dialogue, and funny scenes that translate well across cultures. You can watch a grainy, low-res version of the entire series at YouTube.com by typing in "My Name is Kim Sam Soon eps 1".

7 out of 25 people found the following review useful:
Child Pornography Laws, 26 February 2006
1/10

It's astounding that a film like this was made with a very under-aged Brooke Shields. I think it's a terrible tragedy to put a child in a movie like this. I am certain that psychological damage was inflicted on Brooke Shields as a child that had been subject to this kind of abuse. No child male or female should ever be made to undress and perform in a film for adults. Fortunately, laws are in place today forbidding the sexual exploitation of minors. With luck and compassion from the general public, no 13 year old girl will ever be made to perform in this kind of movie again. Though the film was well-made, placing a 13 year old girl in this role pretty much amounts to child pornography.

8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
It Delivers Every Step of the Way, 18 December 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It helps that two handsome young actors are the protagonists in this film. Nonetheless it's a great film with great acting. What can I say that the newspapers and magazines haven't already said a thousand times over? Ledger is a ripe young actor truly flexing his acting muscles for the first time and stunning us with his skill for someone so young. Lee, as usual, teases out genuine emotions and life-like struggles--the fear, longing, and sadness in this tragedy. This is Lee's work at its best. The fine adaptation of Annie Proulx's short story by McMurty and Ossana is highly commendable. They carefully painted a portrait of life in 1960s Signal, Wyoming, setting a very realistic stage for the drama to unfold. All in all, it's impossible for such a formidable group of people not to produce a marvelous work of art. The cast, screen writers, director, and even novelist each rank among the finest in their respective fields. This movie could not have gone wrong and it doesn't; it delivers every step of the way.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
No Growth, 4 November 2005
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Good storytelling but unnecessary and unpleasant gratuitous violence and sexual content. I don't know how the movie made it into the R rated category; it's too explicit at times. Even with a parent or guardian I would never allow my kids to see this movie. The sexual content was especially unpleasant as I found the protagonist and his wife repulsive.

The biggest downer to the film is that in spite of it being so character driven and so reliant on the relationships of the characters with each other and with themselves the characters don't really grow as people. Viggio's character seems to show some growth, but when he states to his brother that he does love having a family and being a father the audience realizes that he has always felt this way from the start of the film. He would not have stayed so long with his wife raising the children if he did not love them and love the simple life of a small town.

Because you become emotionally involved with main characters and hope the best for them, it was such a disappointment that after taking us through so many emotional ups and downs journeying through the life of a former hit-man that we are presented with an inconclusive conclusion and a wordless acceptance of the hit-man-father without justifying why he was accepted once more by his family. The complexities of a tight-knit, small town, blissfully happy family dealing with a tragic, earth-shattering betrayal by the father can't be glossed over with such a cavalier ending! It renders all the gory violence, all the graphic lovemaking, all the intensity of the main characters completely pointless at the end. The director's meanings are left disjointed and we make only the vaguest logical connections between different components of the film. I gave this film only 6 stars because it has the potential to be so much more.

7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Creates an Amazing Sense of Kinship Between You and the Emperor Penguins, 15 July 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie is extraordinary in that there are no human actors, it is a documentary, there are no special effects, and yet it manages to enchant, enthrall, excite, and bring an audience to the brink of tears. Though "March of the Penguins" has a feel-good quality to it, rest assured it is not Disney-fied and will not nauseate you with Hollywood's mawkish sentimentality. The joys of two penguins falling in love (do birds fall in love? I don't know but it sure looks like it) and successfully raising a chick is neither subdued nor overdone. When a penguin couple loves, you can feel it, when a penguin suffers -100° snowstorms for the sake of its egg, you can feel it, when a penguin grieves over the loss of a chick, you grieve as well.

Perhaps a little guilty of anthropomorphizing these creatures, Jacquet nonetheless demonstrates that penguins and humans are a great deal alike. There were moments when I wondered if the birds' behaviors could be interpreted as humanly as Jacquet leads you to believe, but by the end of the film he fully convinces that penguins and people are a lot more alike than we could have imagined.

A film like this can make you start wondering if we are genetically more related to penguins than chimps! "March of the Penguins" creates an amazing sense of kinship between the viewer and these tough, admirable, imperfect, and courageous birds.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wonderfully Talented Cast -- Go See This Film on the Big Screen, 8 May 2005
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm going to try and stay out of discussions about the religion aspects of the movie even though the movie is centered around religion.

My thoughts on Bloom's role as Balian of Ibelin: I think Scott anticipated Bloom's acting inexperience at the outset of the film and decided to cast Liam Neeson and Jeremy Irons in prominent roles up to the middle of the story. This took some pressure off of Bloom's performance and the audience was focused on Godfrey and Tiberias, who carry the plot along. That was a smart move. Once Tiberius departs the spotlight truly focuses on Bloom, who by now has gotten more coaching from the director. Though Bloom's character is not entirely convincing at the start of the film, he is at the end. It was in the scene where Jerusalem comes under attack by Saladin's forces and Balian declares to the men that if they should fail, their wives and children will die that Bloom gives a convincing performance. When the fortress wall crumbles Balian manifests an inspiring conviction urging everyone to fight for what is right. It was at that moment that I realized Scott had casted the perfect actor for the part of Balian of Ibelin.

In other reviews, Balian has been compared to Russell Crowe (Maximus) in Gladiator. I think the reviewers are remiss in making this comparison. Maximus inspires the masses with acts of bravery and daring, but Balian is entrusted with protecting the lives of the people of Jerusalem. Crowe's Maximus is a fighter but Bloom's Balian is a protector. Balian embodies all the ideals of knighthood--integrity, charity, truthfulness, courage but with the added responsibility of safeguarding the people. I don't think Maximus could ever have inspired ordinary people to pick up weapons and sacrifice their lives for a cause but Balian did. And Bloom embodies Balian perfectly. Though the acting was occasionally awkward--yes, the rallying cry of "come on!" was pretty lame--Bloom still delivers a fine performance as a catalyst fueling a cause much bigger than himself.

And to the reviewer who complained about the hypocritical theologizing and lack of morality on Balian's part--there is a difference between rigidly following religious edicts and behaving with simple human compassion. Having sex with another man's wife is different from marrying her, taking over his future kingdom, and seeing him executed, which Balian refused to do. I don't think Scott intended Balian to be some kind of traditionalist who adheres to strict religious guidelines. The way that Balian fought and won the safety of the people of Jerusalem was completely chaotic. Balian is a revolutionary and not someone who follows the rules, he believes in doing what is right but on his own terms. Hence the appeal of this character.

However, the award goes to Edward Norton for his portrayal of King Baldwin who is afflicted with leprosy. I never knew Norton could play such a convincing leprotic king! Overall, Ridley's Scott's film has a wondefully talented cast and in spite of the similarities to the Lord of the Rings movies (Ridley's just milking a money-making trend), I enjoyed myself immensely. Definitely see this film at the theater, don't wait for the DVD.

13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A Surprisingly Good Film, 16 April 2005
8/10

"Tenka Hadou No Ken" or "Sword of World Conquest" (SOWC) may easily be the best Inuyasha movie ever. My guess is that if you're curious about seeing the third Inuyasha film then you are already an Inuyasha fan, so I'll write this for all you "otakus" out there!

In SOWC, the ghost Soyosama, a former counsel of Inuyasha's father, releases the evil demonic sword Sounga from its sheath after containing it for 700 years. Somehow the sword has ended up in the Higurashi family temple in modern-day Tokyo and Inuyasha and Kagome everywhere throughout Japan. The Sounga is connected intimately with Inuyasha's past and we learn more about Inuyasha's family history and the existence of the three great swords, including the Sounga.

Not only is SOWC a genuine movie (and not just a long tiresome episode), it is more surprisingly a GOOD film! SOWC is well-scripted with excellent pacing, rich setting, and an exciting climax. You can tell that the Inuyasha movie production team finally took the time to learn how a film differs from an animated sitcom. For fans, it fills the gap in our understanding of Inuyasha's origins and the history between his demon father and human mother.

I highly recommend this film and hope the Inuyasha 4: Fire on the Mystical Island proves to be as good or even better. Even though it's a nonsequitur I must add that this female otaku thinks Inuyasha's older brother, Sesshyomaru, is a real babe.

"InuYasha" (2000)
34 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Strongly recommended to those who enjoy a rich, entertaining fantasy tale., 16 April 2005

It's a shame that viewers outside of Asia tend to shun anime as "kid's stuff". Though the Inuyasha anime series seems to be directed at a predominantly teen aged audience even in Japan, Rumiko Takahashi is a master storyteller and Inuyasha nonetheless appeals to people of all different ages, genders and backgrounds. Nobody spins a tale like Takahashi and Inuyasha is a brilliant example of her skill. Weaving a complex storyline interspersed with action, fantasy, the innocence of young love, and a cast of endearing though fallible characters, Inuyasha is a rich fantasy tale drawn from Japanese mythology and set in feudal Japan. Names and references to actual Japanese historical and mythological characters interwoven into the story gives this series added texture and richness not readily found in most graphic novels. Takahashi lightens the serious tone at times with uniquely Takahashi humor (often imitated, never duplicated) and creates credible, flawed characters whose shortcomings become endearing over time. If the animation is too childish for you, try reading the original graphic novel series, which is even more outstanding since the anime doesn't do Takahashi's comic timing any justice. Strongly recommended to those who enjoy a rich, entertaining fantasy tale.

Can you believe it? A funny, campy, emotionally stirring film!, 30 October 2004

I haven't been this impressed with the directing and script of a film for ages! A few years back, I read in a magazine article that attendance at the cinemas has decreased over the years because audiences are realizing that they can get the same caliber of entertainment (particularly romantic comedies) from TV. "Shaun of the Dead" puts movies back where they belong--as a respite to the garbage on mainstream American television. SOTD is an old-new kind of movie-making--a reminder of Hollywood's yesteryear where outstanding script and original direction is as it should be the bread and butter of the film industry.

I haven't laughed this hard at the movies or been moved emotionally for a long time. This film has it all. Don't let the title fool you--it's more than just a funny, campy film about zombies. It will touch you in more ways than you can imagine.


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