Reviews written by registered user
|11 reviews in total|
A Venezuelan documentary about the salt pyramids in a place called Araya and those who made their living there. Trust us, whatever job you're doing right now, it is nothing compared to what these people have to put up with. They toil from day to night, with little payment and in the scorching sun. They were resigned to their fate since childhood and it is the only thing they know. The director chose to shoot like a fly on the wall (in this case, on a salt pyramid) what they actually do in a day. After you watch this, you'll appreciate your job and life like you never did before. It is an affirmation of the human ability to take on what seems impossible and turn it into an amazing possibility. The cinematography in black and white was illuminating too. Take a chance and give this a try. You won't regret it and might even learn a thing or two about human being's indomitable perseverance.
Malaysian director Ho Wi Ding proves his mettle with this exceptional independent feature. Set in Taiwan, Ho's movie is about the lives of Filipinos working as manual labor and domestic help in the country. The story picks up and hits the road with two Filipinos who's friendship is tested by twists of unfortunate fate which seem to latch onto them with no mercy. Funny and blessed with the ability of being able to provide an insightful look into the lives of those who have to sacrifice being away from their homeland in order to earn a decent living, this is not your usual "make do with the pitiful budget and just try to make it look artsy" type of indie. It isn't easy to direct a film in a foreign land using a cast (very natural, capable acting) who speak in an entirely different tongue from yet another country. Ho Wi Ding did just that and hats off to him. Heroes of the indie movement should be celebrated and we're hoping he hears our toast of approval.
It's a good thing that the ban on Tang Wei had been lifted as she is certainly too good an actress to be left withering in the winds, as proved in this small movie. The script of a man and woman who go on a blind date unwillingly but gradually find common ground gave Tang Wei a fertile ground in which her acting shone the brightest compared to the rest of the cast. In fact, after watching this, we dare say you might not remember the story but you sure will not put Tang Wei out of your minds. Hard, soft, real and altogether as beautiful as an enchanting, lone dewdrop on a tulip, hers is a beauty you want to preserve forever in your memory as if it could go away at any fleeting moment. We know we're waxing lyrical about her like adolescent schoolboys but seriously, there's nothing else to say of this film. Oh alright, it was quite charming. Garr... who are we kidding? It was charming because of her! The rating would be completely different without her.
The world of cinema has had a long and fruitful love affair with the underworld. From crudely un-sleek Tony Montana to Kitano's too cool for school gangsters, our fondness for these rebels who live on the outer ring of rules-following society stem from our own yearning to break free of authoritative constraints. In 'Monga', directed by actor/director Doze Niu, a young man named 'Mosquito' falls in with the wrong company and like us, is drawn into a love affair with all things explicitly illegal. Set in the 80's, there's a feeling of gleeful reminiscence when watching this. Violence and back-stabbings occur like bees drawn to honey-pregnant flowers as with all secret societies but it is all done with such a sentimentalized, romanticized gloss that it came across as refreshing as a glass of lemonade on a scorching day. We feel special mention should be given to Ethan Yuan. He plays 'Monk' with such conviction and heartbreaking vulnerability we felt he anchored the whole movie with his presence. Similarly, its impressive cinematography and direction gets a shout-out too.
Continuation of part 1 sees Ip Man moving on to British occupied Hong Kong with his family. Since all he knows is kung fu, Ip Man sets up a 'Wing Chun' dojo to make a living. This then brings him on a head-on collision with the leader of all kung fu academies in HK, a stubborn old master played by Sammo Hung. Donnie Yen is so comfortable in the role here it feels to us like a second skin for him. Humble and with such impeccable manners, it is quite a jolt for the senses when Ip Man is stirred up for a kung fu smash up. This man doesn't need costumes or a cape to be a hero! And like the first part, there are literally no wires used throughout the entire film, making this a raw, bare knuckles experience. Donnie Yen is like a dark horse coming from way behind to snatch the martial arts superstar crown from Jackie Chan and Jet Lee.
Entertaining action-thriller starring two of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Gerard Butler and Jamie "Give me that role, I can make pigs fly" Foxx. With these two playing a cat and mouse game involving the whole city, we're almost guaranteed a good time. Now comes the bad news. Like this review, the movie started out painting a picture we'd be sorry to overlook. Too bad it couldn't sustain its initial momentum of a clever thriller with action which blow your pants off. The middle section and what followed after that was just too over the top. Watch out for an unintentional, laugh out loud scene which wouldn't feel out of place in a Stephen Chow movie. It is still enjoyable though, just don't expect corn to taste like caviar.
Is this 2009 Palme d'Or winner worthy of the honor? What made it something uncommonly out of the loop in lieu of what has come before consists of Haneke's adept hand in capturing a period in time with detailed precision, the wonderful performances of the cast and an extremely memorable story. Every single consideration made in the direction of this unhurried thriller assured it will attain classic status, made to withstand the ages of film-making. Its script centers on a series of malicious, spiteful occurrences perpetuated by culprit(s) who hide in plain sight amongst a settlement of church-fearing Germans. Still waters don't necessarily mean that there are no gators though and the deceptively polite characters in the film hold some dark secrets of their own. We were doubtful whether it deserved its prize when we arrived at the end, but when our minds refused to be rid of Haneke's carefully realized images as if we suddenly had an epiphany, we accept the jury's choice. Humbly and sincerely.
A homeless person to most of us is like an unsightly moth which fly into our field of vision uninvited and unwelcome. How many of us actually ponder how these street dwellers come to be that way? Joe Wright who directed the wonderful 'Atonement' explores this forgotten colony by focusing the tale on one Nathaniel Ayers. A child prodigy of cello, Ayers seemed like a musical miracle waiting to ascend the starlit skies. Accepted to Juilliard and ready to take on the world, he is instead struck down by an imbalanced mind. Steve Lopez, the writer for Los Angeles Times just stumbles on Mr Ayers one fine afternoon and a friendship which empowers both of these opposites of society unfolds. Foxx has shown time and again that his talent in acting is no fluke. This is another film in which he literally embodies the character. Based on a true story.
When giants fall, they go down hard don't they? Our love for cinema had been shaped, molded and preserved eons ago by a few of cinema's illuminating lighthouses. Kurosawa, Coppola, Lumet and Orson Welles were part of our formative influences culminating in our collective tastes in movies now. Thus, as one of the directors whom we look up to, Lumet was untouchable and beyond reproach. Sadly, with this latest offering, Lumet seems to be saying, "My game's up. I've no more tricks up my sleeve. It was a pleasure to enthrall you all but now I must leave the hall." What started out like a smart thriller/whodunit took a very wrong turn instead and ended up disastrously farcical. Come back to us, old friend. We still adore you and the magic you once weaved.
The makers of this film tried very hard to put a distance between their
baby and others that have come before it. This is all well and good.
Except, they tried so many tricks that their movie came out wanting and
In a wrap, what we saw wasn't something which could match 'The Shawshank Redemption', but rather more like 'Prison Break' given a slightly artsy, independent reinvention. We feel that Brian Cox does not have the kind of star quality that maybe an actor like Philip Seymour Hoffman possesses in spades and whom could well save this film from being just a silent splash in the ocean.
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