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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Cocteau on acid?, 2 December 2007

First of all, I would like to say that without a doubt this is Lynch's worst film effort to date. Having received at best lukewarm reviews in most of the film publications I'd read, I went to see it with a slight sense of trepidation but an open mind - which I guess is the only way you can see a Lynch film, unless you're a die-hard fan. The trepidation was not only justified but actually shocked at this blurred and obfuscating mosaic of incoherence.

Ostensibly a follow-up to 2001's Mulholland Dr., this film evidently has a similar premise in mind as we meet Laura Dern's Nikki who lands the lead role in an exciting new film. However, this thematic construct ("plot" is NOT the right word) is not as pronounced as in Lynch's earlier effort as it is hidden among sequence after sequence of pointlessly minor-key music saturating long, long shots of lampshades with a ridiculous air of foreboding, and a whole bunch of confused and frankly pointless diversions.

What made Mulholland Dr. interesting was that it consisted of a first half that almost made sense, and a second half that then went about mystifying everything we'd seen up to that point, but because the essential players remained mostly consistent and their reactions and mentality changed inexplicably, it at least gave the viewer a sense that this tangled mystery could be solved. What's more, it had wonderful colour, style, and a beautifully satirical sense of Hollywood even as it subverted the very myth of Hollywood.

In Inland Empire, delightful eccentricity plummets into sheer infant-like dementia. The grainy texture and hand-held camera work which can stand up so well in the hands of Mexican filmmakers here lends the whole film an amateurish air, but that's mainly because the film itself is so badly constructed. The over-enthusiastic use of Dutch camera angles, unusual lighting effects and shrill screaming violins makes it look like something that a first-year Cocteau-wannabe film studies student might put together the night before an assignment is due - while on an acid trip. What I'm trying to say here is that what Lynch managed with subtlety, humour and precocious genius in Mulholland Dr. goes much further in this film, and extends far beyond the pretentious lunatic fringe.

I personally don't believe this film, like other confronting and obscure pieces, is love-it-or-hate-it. Your options are to hate it, or not get a single second of it but don't mind. It's interesting that it took 2000 years for the literary world to flush Aristotelian notions of plot construction down the toilet and Lynch has achieved the same thing some 100 years after the advent of film.

However, I don't mean to suggest that this is some post-modern masterpiece. It isn't. In fact I think many critics in writing about this film have been extremely generous, understating its sheer blind absurdity for one of two reasons - either they would like to forgive the director for wasting three hours of their life, or because they are so firmly convinced of Lynch's genius that behind this incomprehensible drivel must lie some prodigious meaning.

But I for one am firmly convinced that there isn't, and that Lynch's undeniable genius has here bypassed any semblance of reason, and the "touch of madness" which to some extent may constitute genius has ballooned into excess. Furthermore, I believe that if Lynch's name were not attached to this movie, it would not find a release in any market. What makes this ironic is that if Lynch were locked up in a mental asylum, he himself would never be released.

That's all this is: the unleashing of a twisted mind on an unsuspecting public.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
"A promising debut", 29 April 2007

There is an inherent danger in looking retroactively at early films from established directors. As with Jarmusch's "Permanent Vacation", Bertolucci's "The Grim Reaper" or even Kubrick's "Killer's Kiss", it can be difficult - after garnering an admiration for a director - to look back at their less refined beginnings.

Such is the case with Wong Kar-Wai's As Tears Go By (Wong gok ka moon). During the film's early stages, it feels somewhat like an unhappy coupling between a flashy Hong Kong martial arts film and those really cheesy Chinese serials where the emperor's daughter accidentally falls pregnant to the chief eunuch warrior (or whatever, I've never watched one with subtitles). Having said that though, it doesn't quite reach the extremes of either: firstly because the action and violence, although the driving force of the film, are not in the least stylised but are in fact quite confronting; and secondly because the cheese of the soap opera elements is really only apparent through the use of dodgy 80's music. But this is simply dated, not inappropriate - after all, the same could be said about Blade Runner, although the montage about halfway through this film set to a Cantonese version of "Take my Breath Away" is just embarrassing.

As Tears go By also happens to get better as it progresses. Perhaps this is because the romance between Ah-Wah (Andy Lau) and Ah-Ngor (Maggie Cheung), which seems ready to overpower the film early on, becomes sidelined to the underground-crime half of the plot, which is certainly the most successful and believable half. Wong craftily creates a hard-boiled atmosphere and there is a lot of emotional resonance in the relationship between Wah and his young protégé, Fly (Jacky Cheung). Unfortunately, the same cannot really be said of the male-female relationship between the two stars. It manages to gain a small amount of credibility purely through the fact that we have seen the quiet girl-bad boy romance explored to greater depths in other films. Put this small amount of believability aside however, and it has a very tacked-on, Michael Bay kind of feel to it.

Although the film is easily criticised, one can nevertheless see Wong's style making its first appearance here, and I can certainly see the justification behind one reviewer's quote on the DVD case: "A promising debut". I would like to particularly single out his clever use of intimate but skewed, 'Dutch' camera angles to highlight the (forgive me for this expression) humanistic dehumanisation which would foreground his more recent and more famous films, "In the Mood for Love" and "2046". He also drives the film at an excellent pace, in spite of the fact that alternations between the subplots give it a slightly episodic, fragmented feel.

Ultimately, my major complaint is simply that while both the romance and the action have a great deal of potential, used together in this way they don't work. Personally I think Wong could either expand on the romance more or eradicate it entirely, and he would have a more complete film.

And while hoping not to contradict myself, I have to say that the above comments, which pervaded my thoughts for 90 minutes of this film, were quite rocked by the superb conclusion - framed within criminal violence but so much 'about' the romance - let me just say, whatever I may have thought about most of this film, it was definitely worth it for the ending. Overall, interesting mainly for being Wong's debut and definitely a taste of things to come.


Dreamgirls (2006)
2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The epitome of an "Overhyped" movie, 7 February 2007

I went to see this movie as part of my annual vow to see as many of the Oscar nominations as possible, and this, more than any previous hiccups, reminded me of just how misguided that vow can be.

Before I begin my rant about everything that's wrong with it, let's just say that I think the Oscar nomination committee scored an absolute bloody home run with this one. Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy are clear standouts here, the former in particular delivering an extremely gutsy performance, and I think she will win - not only because she's very good but also because Oscars so frequently seem to go to actresses who deliver one great performance but are destined never to do anything worthwhile again (That is, of course, an appalling generalisation but I can list quite a few examples from the past). Also, the music is great although I have a couple of misgivings which I will go into later.

But the Best Picture "snub" which is gathering so much publicity was an absolute triumph of seeing through the bull and it's been a long time since I've been so satisfied with such a decision. In essence, Dreamgirls is nothing except a cheap excuse to throw together a sequence of impressive musical numbers with a connecting storyline which is little more than a bunch of glib, trashy soap opera episodes.

But what makes Dreamgirls such a terrible cancer on the bowel of the musical genre is that, unlike other recent films like it (I'm comparing it particularly here with Chicago, Ray, and Walk the Line) it never seems to be going anywhere. Chicago, you've got a murder trial to look forward to; Ray and Walk the Line you've got the guilt of a childhood tragedy and a powerful addiction to overcome. Dreamgirls, by stark comparison, features a mess of characters, none of whom are dealt with in depth, and a similar mess of conflicts, while never making it clear exactly where the conflicts lie, who they're between or exactly why the audience is supposed to care whether they go one way or the other.

The film's biggest weakness is hence its narrative. By the end of the narrative, the conflicts and characters converge, but for the middle hour and a half I felt like it was stumbling blindly from one song to the next, never sure of what it's doing. The fact that it all makes sense and there is resolution at the end does not excuse the clumsy route it takes to get there. Basically, we have a beginning, and we have an ending, while the intervening two hours are just a blur out the window as we speed by (while listening to some great soul music through the car stereo, as it were).

Its other major weakness is that, as hard as it tries, the film can't justify its own mishmash style. Firstly, it thinks it is a story about a rise to stardom and the bumpy road along the way. Therefore, it mingles the action of the film with interspersed live performances of songs that have a particularly relevance to that particular chapter of the performer's life. However, given that the songs featured here don't actually exist outside the film, any poignancy seems a bit ambitious when you compare it with far more successful moments in Walk the Line: the performances of "Ring of Fire" and "Walk the Line" spring to mind. Secondly, Dreamgirls thinks it is a musical and therefore, episodic dialogue can be sung, rather than spoken. I can't speak for anybody else watching the film but the scenes where this happened seemed actually very silly to me. Firstly, given that for the majority of the film, the action is spoken while the songs are performances both within and without this fictional world, it frankly seems unnecessary, particularly given their attempt to use the technique I just mentioned of 'fitting' a song to the narrative. Secondly, unlike the great old musicals of the fifties and sixties, by the time one of these scenes appears, the film has become far too grounded in reality for any suspension of disbelief to occur. Thus it is left wanting one of the crucial elements that made the old musicals work, while the other crucial element - namely, spectacular choreography - is also absent, unless you consider six people walking in time to music around a stage spectacular. It essentially tries to blend the biographical style of Ray and Walk the Line with the twee style of - say - Singin' in the Rain. Ambitious though it is, it certainly doesn't work. It's either realism in musical form or its 'a musical', it shouldn't be both and I think this is a good example of how a film also "can't" be both.

Therefore, having outlined Dreamgirls' major shortcomings, I could almost forgive it, except for one final problem, and that is, it is BORING. At the risk of colouring the rest of my review, I am compelled to say that I haven't been so tempted to walk out on a movie since I was stupid enough to see Scooby-Doo back in 2002. As I've said, the songs are good but they're only good aurally: there's nothing to entertain the eye and certainly nothing to entertain the mind while they're happening. As I've said, this film is nothing more than an excuse to put these songs on the screen. Fortunately, Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson were able to find the opportunity to act herein and save it from being an atrocious waste of effort.

In summary, all I can say is, buy the soundtrack if you're that interested. The extra money is worth the tedium you'll save yourself.


1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Not quite anything, 16 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I really wanted to like this film. From the moment I heard about it, there was a lot I liked about the idea. It was absurd, it was dark, and it was different. What I found, however, was that it tried too hard to be different, and in trying, it failed to become what it could have.

Essentially what we have is a comedy, dark at times, funny at times, but not quite one or the other. It's not a black comedy, because it's too ridiculous; the best black comedies are simply not funny, because they're too grotesquely real. Conversely, it's not quite a straight comedy because it just isn't witty enough; it relies too heavily on stereotypes and hyperbole for its humour. At times it seems to be a biting satire of children's television, but it fails in this respect too, because it doesn't have a firm enough grounding in reality. The best satire (call it "Swiftean", if you will) also shouldn't be funny, because it's too vivid a mirror for reality.

Death to Smoochy is too warped, you could say. It fails to really hit the highs of the peak it attempts to climb, because it takes it one step too far in every respect. Its humour relies on a farcical nature that is just too extreme to work every time. The character of Sheldon is overworked; likewise Rainbow Randolph. I mean, we've seen green-loving hippies before, it's nothing new, and so too have we seen Robin Williams in crazy ranting mode, and it's funnier when he's not such a clichéd 'psycho' character.

The film does, however, have its moments: For example, the zoom-out from the costumed Spinner's dead body to a chalk outline of a giant foam rhinoceros - that made me laugh for a twisted, absurdly poignant minute. That's the chord I feel the entire film was trying to hit, that - to clumsily continue the metaphor - 'diminished' chord. But moments like that that made me laugh - and I wouldn't want to deny that there were a few - were isolated. There wasn't a coherent enough flow to make these amusing moments string together into a funny, witty, truly memorable whole.

And I think it's basically just a lack of coherence that causes its downfall. IT doesn't even know what it's trying to do. Because the really tragic thing is, as I knew before I watched it, that there are so many good elements here. The cast is great, not just on paper but they all attack their roles with gusto (with the possibly notable exception of Jon Stewart, who I think is quite amusing in real life, but he's not a great actor). The concept behind the plot, if not necessarily the plot as it unfolds, is amusing and original. Danny De Vito directs with a stylistic hand, and he clearly enjoys what he's putting together here. All in all, it really could have been something more than it is.

But basically, funny though it is, it doesn't have enough to set it apart from other 'funny' films. It's different, certainly, but not in the way that Bringing Up Baby is different from, say, Cheaper by the Dozen (Not the greatest comparison I've ever devised, but I hope you get the general idea). In the end, I have to join that rather succinct mob who inadvertently inspired me to watch this film, and say "It's just weird".

Stepmom (1998)
6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Sappy, manipulative drivel, 16 July 2006

I usually try to be objective when I watch films, to appreciate their technical merit above all else, but in the case of Stepmom, I fail. It's exactly the sort of puffy, ridiculous Valium that Hollywood shamelessly pumps into growing generations of cynics to brainwash them into the belief that every person in the world is a cuddly, fluffy elf-like creature and conflict only exists because it's been too long since we all sat down for a singalong around the piano.

I know I sound like a terrible cynic for judging this film in this way (I am a terrible cynic, let's not deny it), but it's difficult to swallow this tripe. I come from a - dare I use that devilish phrase - broken home myself and in fact my old man is getting remarried very soon, but I still fail to see any resemblance between Chris Columbus' vision of family harmonics and the interpersonal dynamics that exist here on Earth. And by that I refer both to the grating, fire-and-brimstone conflict at the beginning of the film and the sugary hug fest into which it slowly descends as it progresses.

There is however, nothing inherently wrong with sugary, optimistic scenarios; if they are grounded, well-driven, well-plotted explorations of discovering the light at the end of the tunnel. It's hard for me to put my finger on a perfect example but the most obvious one would have to be the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which has nevertheless received a certain quantity of criticism from yours truly for drawing too distinct a line between "good" and "bad". In spite of that trilogy's shortcomings though, it's a good example of a golden-sunshine-lollipops conclusion that is plodded out solidly over a long arduous journey of storytelling.

Chris Columbus here dispenses with any nuance of hard work, or respect for his audience's intelligence, and dishes up a glib, emotionally manipulative treat for us to wolf down hungrily, starved for happy endings in our cinematic universe of chainsaw massacres and David Lynch.

There really isn't a saving grace to this film, as far as I can see: Its lack of realism obviously renders me incapable of truly appreciating whatever fine qualities it may have, but the dialogue is dull, performances are average and being such a suburban story, there really isn't much room for technical film-making brilliance. On top of this, every single time I think back on it I get "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" stuck interminably in my head, and that, more than anything else, is unforgivable.


2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely fantastic - Best film of the year, 30 October 2005

These days, I think I've developed a more discriminating critical eye when it comes to movies and I'm usually not one for superlatives but I feel I have no choice when it comes to this absolute bloody delight from claymation master Nick Park.

I think going into this film I'd forgotten just how much I enjoyed the other Wallace & Gromit films (the short ones) and so I can't say I was looking forward to this feature-length effort with any great slavering anticipation, but after about twenty minutes I knew I was in for a wonderful treat.

Basically, stripped down to nuts and bolts, this film is not a masterpiece - in fact it's nothing more than a romp. But it is so clever, so beautifully paced, and funny? Oh me oh my - I honestly cannot remember a funnier film. Not since I watched "Bringing Up Baby" many years ago have I laughed out loud so often, it's just done to absolute perfection. The quaint, whimsical story is lots of fun, the humour is directed at young and old alike, there are so many little subtle jokes along the way. I mean, it's great, I can't really add much more.

All there really is to add is that this is a must-see, and I know it's being incredibly flippant, but when it comes round again to Oscars time, I'm boycotting the Academy if this doesn't scoop up a whole heap of trophies. Screw best feature-length animation, Were-Rabbit for Best Picture! Seriously, in a fairly lacklustre year in cinema, this is an absolute gem. I haven't felt this satisfied and respected as an audience member since Million Dollar Baby, THAT is why I declare this clearly to be the best film of the year.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Sadly, a disappointment, 25 September 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a perfect example, for me at least, of a film that is, dare I use the word, 'overhyped'. And for once I'm not going to blame tinsel town and the media for doing this, but rather myself. I let myself look forward to this film so much; the book is one of my all-time favourites from childhood, the first film is also one of my favourite films of all time, and well, I couldn't imagine a better choice of person to direct a remake than Tim Burton.

And as so tragically often happens when you have expectations like this, they just weren't met. Admittedly I wasn't in a great mood going into the film since the morons at the box office neglected to tell me I'd be forced to sit down the front of the cinema due to a function involving a bunch of the rudest and worst-behaved kids (who incidentally can't have been much younger than me) taking up 80% of the seats and jabbering very loudly all the way through the film. But I digress, just needed to vent my spleen briefly.

Burton's take on the film is largely more faithful to the original text than Mel Stuart's film; there is no 'Slugworth' trying to steal everlasting gobstoppers, there IS a Mr. Bucket who screws caps onto toothpaste bottles for a living, and the Oompa-Loompa songs use Roald Dahl's original lyrics. However, the major focus for him is on the character of Willy Wonka, who is played with great gusto by Johnny Depp.

This focus is where Burton loses points for me. His intention seems to be to bring this eccentric genius out of enigma and give him a past; a life. And to do this he introduces a new character in Wonka's father, a strict, obsessively anal dentist who won't let the young Willy enjoy candy of any kind. What this is supposed to do is to explain the motivation behind Wonka's genius, his obsession with candy and, of course, his extremely bizarre behaviour.

In other words, the attempt is to make him less of a cardboard cutout. But while Burton does achieve this, it basically comes at the expense of practically every other character in the film. Part of the joy of the original book is that all the people in it are such delightfully over-the-top caricatures, Wonka included. And so by focussing such a large proportion of the film on only one of these caricatures, the other stereotypes - Gloop, Salt, Beauregard and Teevee - remain just that: stereotypes. Not only this but a substantial part of the story, where all these characters, is cut short to make room for all this extra plot line about Wonka's father, and frankly, the first half an hour feels extremely rushed. It's almost as though Tim Burton (or at least let's not leave out screenwriter John August) is saying to us "Yes yes yes, we all know what happens with the golden tickets, now let's hurry up and get to my stroke of genius about Wilbur Wonka the dentist". Grandpa Joe is also one of the characters who suffers for this, I feel. He doesn't come across quite as charmingly enthusiastic as I expected, largely because he doesn't have the screen time to do so.

Another criticism I had, and I daresay I may be regarded as a little unfair when I say this, but I really, REALLY don't care for Freddie Highmore's acting. He seems to have two modalities in which he can play - smiling cutely, or regurgitating lines as though he's reading them straight from the script. I found this with Finding Neverland and it's reinforced by him here. I mean, kudos to him and everything, he's only 13, but Charlie's presence was one element of the film I didn't mind being minimalised.

Having said these couple of criticisms, there is plenty to enjoy here of course. That was inevitable. Burton's visual flair is used to its maximum potential and you can tell that everybody involved would have had so much fun making this. It's also a good example of a remake simply because technologically it can go places the 1971 film wouldn't have dreamed of. Also, as I said, it does remain more faithful to the book and there are no teeth-gnashingly terrible "Poor Charlie" songs.

But of course the major winner here is Depp. As much as I would have liked more on the other characters, Wonka's character is just beautiful. He's basically just a camped-up weirdo but it's so much fun to watch. The grand opening of the factory doors was hilarious and was one of the highlights of an otherwise pretty ordinary year in cinema so far.

The most ironic thing is that when I first heard that Tim Burton was making a version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I loved absolutely everything about the idea, except for the fact that Depp was attached to play Wonka and I wasn't sure he could pull it off. But as it turned out, Depp's performance carries what could otherwise be pretty standard material.

In a nutshell, then? Disappointing, but certainly not bad. 7 out of 10.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A somewhat disconcerting but curious film, 11 July 2005

Love and Death on Long Island is an interesting, moody film, but it's difficult to decide if I truly felt satisfied having viewed it.

What we are presented with is essentially a fish out of water story about Giles (John Hurt), an ultra-conservative English gent who begins slowly to reform his technophobic, insular lifestyle when he develops an interest in a young American film star (Jason Priestley). The nature of this interest is explored minimalistic ally, although there is obviously more to it than just a belief in the boy's acting talent or potential.

We are then treated to a myriad of culture shock as Giles enters the universe of youth and as we see this very quaint man with his very quaint, idyllic lifestyle interact with very common, happy-go-lucky people, his character becomes increasingly complex. This culminates in a rather impressionistic, elusive finale where his true interest in the film star, Ronnie, is finally explored and brought to light.

The film is at times wryly amusing and at other times cringingly awkward. For all its moments of social faux pas and clumsiness it reminds me a lot of Alexander Payne's films. The difference as I see it though is that Payne knows when to draw away from an embarrassing moment to make us empathise, but not altogether pity, the character. Here, the director Kwietniowski tends to hold our focus on such scenes which makes it notably less comfortable to watch.

Having said that, Kwietniowski does handle a number of the film's elements remarkably well. Firstly, his cast is used to their full potential. In particular, John Hurt's wonderfully expressive face is used to explore a plethora of human emotion throughout the film. Secondly, the interaction between the generations - old age, middle age and youth - is handled with a soft focus that is ever-present but very understated. Even if one feels a lack of rewards from the somewhat alienating story, at least we have the pleasure of hearing John Hurt say in a very charming British accent, "Hey dude, how's it hanging?" And basically, the plot is also downplayed to the point where the film is far more an exploration than an anecdote. Its pace is very deliberate and its threadbare cast of characters is rich and complex for all that they're worth. I would find it hard to truly love this film but it is still a very capable, interesting effort.

***1/2 / *****

73 out of 92 people found the following review useful:
Lord of the Rings fanatics should all watch this movie, 14 January 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Lord of the Rings and I respect people's right to obsess over whatever they wish. Nonetheless, it does often irritate the cynic in me that we're teaching a generation of kids that there is a distinct borderline between 'good' and 'evil', between 'justice' and 'injustice', that there exists such a thing as a 'hero', when in reality there is actually nothing of the sort.

Ladri di Biciclette is a shining example of a film that demonstrates this fact. There is no distinction between the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys'. At times we support one character, or the others. But there is never a line drawn between one side or the other because in reality, the only people we see here are simply human - flawed, corruptible and in this case, all suffering the same tragic fate. Our central character Antonio is obviously the protagonist, and he is obviously portrayed in such a way that our sympathies lie with him, but he is far from being a hero. He is simply used as the representation of the tragic misfortune that can befall mankind. This misfortune, also, is not depicted in any black-and-white sense. Antonio and his family's plight is not the only, or even necessarily the most desperate, in this film. In fact, with the exception of the family in the restaurant scene, practically every single character, major or minor, is portrayed as suffering in some way at the hands of capitalism.

Therefore, as obviously tragic as Antonio's story is, the only real reason we side with him is because his particular tragedy is centrally focused. But, as has been discussed so often previously, he is an Everyman character. The bicycle in the film is simply used as an analogy for the loss, or lack of any essential element of life that leads to poverty and suffering. In very simple terms, the film's message is essentially that at some stage in life, we are all shouting "Give me back my bicycle!"

But I digress. This simplistic and amateurish film is far more real and far more true-to-life than practically anything that Hollywood has churned out in the past fifty years. For that reason, the realist in me believes that all those dreamers, people who believe in a happy ending or ideal status quo, could do with the sort of down-to-earth lesson that this film represents.

Yes, it's a distressing and bleak vision. But nevertheless, an utterly profound one.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A bizarre, surreal film. My (but obviously not everyone's) kind of film., 27 December 2004

I Heart Huckabees. An odd little title to go with an odd little film. When deconstructed, there really isn't a great deal you can see at its heart. Plot? There is some, but it's not very clearly defined. Characters? There are some fascinating characters but by the end they have almost merged to form one and the same. Cinematic style and panache? Well, there's plenty of that. But as with all of the above elements, as well as the central theme of existentialism running through this film, it's basically nothing more than a mishmash of differing and, at times, juxtaposed themes, ideas, in short, everything.

Our central player is Albert (Jason Schwartzman) who hires a pair of 'existential detectives' (Dustin Hoffman and Lily Tomlin) to investigate a strange coincidence he encountered recently whereby he ran into the same African gentleman in three different places. The investigation, and his spiritual/emotional journey in the meantime lead him (and of course, the audience in turn) down many strange turns and many strange pathways, while all the while his everyday life is taking similar turns and takes.

It's the suspension of disparities between everyday life, and how we view that everyday life, that gives this film its major appeal. It's also the principle underlying existentialist philosophy as is my understanding, but we won't go there because we could never stop. Essentially the plot we are given is nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing too deep or complex. But superimposed over that is this attempt to find answers to the meaning of life, or whether there even is a meaning.

For this reason the film works brilliantly as a subtle satire, which is the reading I think I've chosen to give the film. There are countless plot points throughout the film that could be rehashed from basically any old garble to come out of Hollywood, only rewritten as though every character has a conscious or unconscious obsession with seeking out absolute truth in the world. This is, when it comes right down to it, very very funny. And my friend and I found ourselves laughing almost constantly through the film, possibly just at the sheer absurdity of a movie with an ideal such as this even being written. The fact, however, that it seems to be done in such a tongue-in-cheek kind of manner makes it not only extremely entertaining but utterly endearing as well.

On top of this, the satire itself somehow is also used to get across the existential message that the film purports to express. Basically the way in which the characters continually search for meaning and truth while living out uneventful, if not entirely typical lives raises the question about whether or not life actually does have meaning. Or rather, does the film have a meaning, or a purpose, or a message? At times it seems as though it's doing nothing but ridiculing the whole concept, and then there are times when I thought maybe there was a deeper meaning to the whole concept of ridiculing? Well let's get off that tack. The point is it's impossible to say for certain what the meaning, if there even is one, is.

And it's largely through the use of the detectives (who are portrayed brilliantly, incidentally, by both Hoffman and Tomlin) that this underlying message comes about. While a lot of the dialogue takes the form of philosophical debates between the characters, I also found a lot of the time that I'd be for a moment absorbed in the action, and then the camera would pan out to reveal the fact that the detectives had been peering/listening in on the whole conversation, and suddenly I was dragged out of that cosy reality and reminded suddenly that we were in the middle of an existential conundrum.

What am I trying to say with this meaningless drivel? In very simple terms, I loved this film. I loved everything about it. I loved the lightness of plot, the ambiguity of characters, I loved the mishmash of different directing and writing techniques. I just loved the way it used all the elements to create not just a film but a manifestation of one simple premise - what's the meaning of a coincidence? At one point, I wondered how much longer the film would go on for, but not because I was getting bored, rather because I wanted it to last for longer. It's a film like no other, and for that reason I can imagine certain circles hating its guts. But representing myself and my own particular faction, I love it. ****1/2 out of *****

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