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Limbo (1999)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Robert Altman With Fish (that's not a good thing), 11 January 2003

This movie is has so many problems I really don't know where to start.

Limbo is the 'story' of a small fishing village and three of it's inhabitants going of on a fishing trip only to find that the trip has been set up as a cover-up for a drug deal.

Its director, John Sayles is apparently the most important independent director working in America today (did somebody forget to mention Errol Morris or Henry Bromell), well if that is a true assessment then what a sorry state American cinema has come to. One of the amazing things about this film is that it was made in a period 1998-2001 when American independent and mainstream cinema was at a peak it had not reached since the early seventies Scorsese-Coppola era. It was churning out brilliant films such as American Beauty (1999), Being John Malkovich (1999), Memento (2000), American History X (1998) and Panic (2000) but despite this Sayles manages to produces this piece of festering rot.

One of the many annoying aspects of the film is that Sayles cannot write. I'll admit he's not a terrible director (there are some scenes where he uses Alaska's natural beauty wonderfully) but when it gets to writing this guy stinks, anyone who witnessed his poor attempt at witty dialogue in Passion Fish (1992) can testify to that. The lines are as stale as the whole story and worse of all HIS CHARACTERS ARE ALL STEREOTYPES!!! Tell me how many times you've heard these ones - the guilt-ridden fisherman who lost men at sea years ago and now can't go back on a boat, the single mother/singer (she ruins Tom Waits' (Looking For) The Heart of Saturday Night by the way) who's had more bad relations than hot dinners and her daughter the deeply-depressed high-school outcast who cuts herself from time to time. Yes this film (as with most of Sayles' others) is drowning in stereotypical characters, something a hate with a passion. But I can understand the use for stereotypes in a complex story with a dense plot, if you have stereotypes as your characters the audience know these characters places and can get on with the story. The problem with Limbo is that it has neither a complex story nor a dense plot, it's a goddamn character development film! So why has he used characters we've seen in 101 films before in a genre which is all about developing interesting new characters? Because he doesn't know he's writing stereotypes, because he's a bad script writer.

So all of a sudden after an hour and fifteen minutes of stale dialogue and poor character developing a story appears, and you'll never guess what kids, wait for it...It's actually quite an interesting story. Stereotype fisherman (now over his fear of boats), stereotype Mother and stereotype daughter decide on a nice boat trip with fisherman's stereotype shady half-brother. And guess what stereotype shady half-brother has a drug deal on the side, he gets shot and the other three have to bail ship for fear of the drug-dealers (probably Columbians called Carlos and Juan who have gold chains round their necks and have toothpicks in their mouths). They swim to the nearest island and for the last forty minutes it becomes a mildly interesting survival film. But it is too late for the audience's mind has already started to wonder after the poor start. And then Sayles commits celluloid suicide and doesn't end the movie, he leaves it on a cliff hanger (but this isn't Dynasty Mr. Sayles) and leaves the audience frustrated and annoyed. After sitting through two hours of sheer rubbish, giving our all to the film, wasting our own personal time watching it he screws us over, leaving us unsatisfied. I'm sure some people will say `Oh but doesn't he leave no ending so he leaves his audience in Limbo?' and the tagline to the movie `Limbo - a condition of unknowable outcome' does suggest that this may be his idea, but it really wouldn't surprise me if he came up with the name and tagline after he shot the film or wrote the script as a ruse to trick us into thinking that the movie is cleverer than it really is, when really what has happened is a writer has the start of a story (but still takes him over an hour to get to it) but not the end. This is the most fatal flaw Sayles makes.

This is just basically a terrible version of Short Cuts set in a fishing village. So it gets 2 out of 10, because Alaska looks beautiful.

Scratch (2001)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Scratcher's Delight, 29 October 2002

Scratch is the story of scratch music's evolution from its birth in the late seventies/ early eighties to its ever growing musical status in modern day culture. Scratch tells the story of the music with the help of some of the most important scratch pioneers of the last 20 years, such as Babu (of Dilated Peoples and Beat Junkies), DJ Q-Bert and Afrika Bambaataa amongst others. These interviews give us an incite about how the music was born and its growth. We also get helpful tips on the art of scratching from Q-Bert and Mix Master Mike (from The Beastie Boys).

I am interested in a lot of genres of music, jazz, rock, indie etc. but I have never invested much interest in scratching, sure I have all the classic rap albums, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem etc. and I have recently got into new hip-hop (a musical genre that uses DJs a lot) such as Dilated Peoples (who's performance in the film made my day), Blackalicious and Jurassic 5 (also featured), but I still had no idea of the art of scratching (or turntablism as it's referred to here), so I went into this movie no sure what to expect.

This movie is very similar to a lot of the documentaries that have been appearing in the last few years from America, such as Baadasssss Cinema (the story of blacksploitation films), The Backyard and Beyond the Mat (both about the growing popularity of wrestling). But the documentary it seemed to have the most in common with was American Pimp (the story of surprise, surprise American pimps). It was almost the same documentary, sharp editing, grainy camera work, loud soundtrack, sharp dialogue and the DJ's taking over the part of the flamboyant, over the top and eccentric pimps and matching them for madness on every level. And I was justified in my beliefs when I read in the credits that the film was produced by the two directors of American Pimp, Allen and Albert Hughes (who also directed Dead Presidents and From Hell) and later found out that the director of Scratch, Doug Pray was also the editor of American Pimp (he also edited Scratch).

It's not surprising that it is edited by the director as the editing is an important part of the movie and helps the music get noticed a lot more. He almost makes the footage like the music, rewinding it slowing it down, speeding it up and all sorts of other techniques, which although brilliant do give you a bit of a headache after an hour or so.

But apart from the moderate headache this is a very good movie that I thing will really change your opinion on scratching if you aren't a fan. And if you are a fan then this is a must see. Good direction, superb editing and an interesting subject matter, go and see it if you get the chance.

7 out of 10

King Lear (1987)
9 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Damn Those Infernal SEAGULLS!!!!, 2 October 2002

I don't know where to begin.

I cannot contain my contempt for this film (if I dare call it a film). In my opinion this is the worst Shakespeare adaptation committed to any art form anywhere in history. And one of the most egotistical pieces of rubbish in the annals of film.

It has NO USE. You couldn't even use this if you were doing a thesis of King Lear at college because this is faeces. Not to mention that it has hardly anything to do with the play King Lear. It has no plot, no interesting characters or character study and hardly anything in the way of decent direction.

And it is not just the fact that it lacks so much, it is the fact that what it does have is so goddamn terrible. Quotes and sayings repeated endlessly, terrible seagull sound effects that 1) happen in scenes where there are no seagulls and even scenes when we are indoors 2) happen in scenes when there is other dialogue going on and 3) are so loud that your ears begin to bleed (well, nearly).

I went to see this film because 1) I had only seen one other Godard movie Bande à Part (1964) and 2) I am a great Woody Allen fan. Now I mentioned earlier that this was egotistical and I will go further and say that this is sheer celluloid masturbation! Godard (in my opinion the most over rated director in cinema history) has almost become drunk with power, power gained from years of critics kissing his ass, and now believes he can do no wrong as long as he entertain and excites himself (i.e. masturbation). Another celluloid masturbator (for want of a better word) is Woody Allen, this shared hobby probably bringing the two together. But the one difference between these two is this, Woody Allen still has the gift to entertain and excited others as well as himself, whereas Godard lost this gift along long time before King Lear.

Now I have wasted enough time talking about this catastrophe.

I give it 0 out of 10.

P.S. If you want a really good Shakespeare adaptation try Throne of Blood (1957).