Reviews written by
pandaeyes42

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11 reviews in total 
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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Hand grenade of a debut film! One of the decade's finest!, 1 May 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It all starts with one of the most exhilarating and allegorical opening sequences is recent film history.A chicken caught between two opposing sides.One of those opening sequences,like Danny Boyle's "Trainspotting" (1996), that simply grabs the viewer by the throat and refuses to let them go until the film is done. One of the signs of a truly great film.

Thankfully, "City Of God" quickly proves itself to be equal substance and style. One of the aspects of this film that I love so much is the way that it is very raw,candid and intimate in the story that it tells. I have read that "City of God" has been compared to Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas"(1990). I can see the comparison in the way that both films basically put you, the viewer,smack bang in the middle of the story they tell.Both films also have that sense of edge in that they are based on true events.

Spanning three decades, the story of "City Of God" covers many aspects of a very negative type of life, that of living in one of the most dangerous slums(favelas) in Brazil. What I found so compelling about the film is the way that it's main character, Rocket, searches for a way out of his supposed predestined fate. Before he discovers photography as a career, his choices are either policeman or criminal, both about as corrupt and venal as each other.

Although confronting and disturbing, "City of God" tells its story with a very down to earth attitude and, at times, a wonderful sense of humour, never more evident when Rocket tells us about his attempt at a life of crime.There is some beautiful writing throughout the film which really makes the viewer give a damn about its characters.

"City of God" is that rare film where the visual style fits the material perfectly. Watch the way that the optimism and innocence of the first part of the film, particularly the depiction of 'the tender trio', is contrasted against events after Lil Dice shows his true colours during the hotel robbery.

The use of a largely non-professional cast also absolutely rammed home this story for me. As a viewer, the worldly wise experience and attitude of a great deal of the cast really shone through. An absolutely gut wrenching moment that illustrates this perfectly would have to be Benny's going away party and its abrupt, shocking ending.To me, Benny was one of the more sympathetic characters in the film.For his life to be taken just as he was finding a way out of the 'ghetto thug life' hits the viewer right between the eyes. It is symbolic of the point of change within the story's framework. In "Goodfellas", Tommy's death was very similarly used.

Like one of my other films that I would say is one of the best of the decade so far, Darren Aronofsky's "Requiem For A Dream" (2000), "City of God" shows how its characters are attracted to something so negative such as gang life and criminal behaviour, while at the same time showing what happens when attraction turns into repulsion; the dream becomes a nightmare.

The clarity with which this is shown in both "Requiem" and "City of God" is something I admired greatly in both films. The ability of both filmmakers concerned to be impartial and non-judgemental in the subject matter at the cores of their respective films impressed me in both "Requiem" and "City of God".The subjects of both films, drug use and gang life respectively, are subjects that,via their films, make filmmakers either glamorize or preach in regards to how they depict their stories.

One of the greatest strengths of this film is its absolute refusal to compromise or sugar coat its depiction of life in the slums.At the same time,I found "City of God" a very positive and hopeful film. The just about prefect final scene shows this. Rocket finally finding a way out of the slums and moving forward with his life, contrasted with the 'runts' planning their death list and how they're going to run the favela. This shows how one can achieve positive things in their life if they choose to do so, or take the easy option and follow what has gone before in their lives, even if it is a very negative thing to do.A very haunting and moving way to end a truly remarkable film.

As someone who loves cinema, I wish more films were this forceful and impassioned. Films like this remind me why I love cinema as much as I do.

Can't wait to see what this director has done in his next film, an adaptation of the John Le Carre novel "The Constant Gardener".Bring it on!

Bloodmoon (1990)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Inane Rubbish.One of the worst films ever made!, 25 April 2005
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What we have with "Bloodmoon" is an extremely poor copy of your standard slasher film. By the late 1980's, everyone and his sister had made a slasher film;this particular type of horror film had been, if you'll pardon the pun,done to death! Awful script, even worse directing, acting, cinematography,music and one of the most pathetic fight scenes ever committed to film in recent memory. After seeing the film, I saw a more convincing fight in the cinema foyer!In Australia, we had the "Fright Break". I got to see two thirds of it for free, and caught the rest of it late night on TV about six months later! The really sad thing about "Bloodmoon" is that it's not even enjoyable bad. it's just BAD!Want to see how truly wretched slasher films got in the late 80's? Check this out!Ever heard the expression 'bottom of the barrel'? Well, this is the barrel!!!

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Apart from "Blood Moon" & "You Got Served",WORST FILM EVER MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 25 April 2005
1/10

This film is so wrong in so many different ways! Where do I begin? A five-year-old could have written better gags! The film's central idea of dubbing over an old kung fu film is funny for about ten seconds. The only problem is that the film goes for 80 minutes!Painfully unfunny execution of the idea.

What truly frightens me is that there is going to be a sequel next year, called "Kung Pow:Tongue of Fury". OH, THE HUMANITY!!! In short, QUITE POSSIBLY THE WORST FILM EVER MADE!!! I do have something to compare this against. I once saw "Swept Away" and "Killing Me Softly" back to back on the same day. "Kung Pow" is even worse than both of the films mentioned above.

What scares me and is making me write this is that there will be a sequel next year!Couln't that money be put to better use somewhere, PLEASE??? Never let Steve Whatshisface direct, write or act in another film ever again. Put him on the same banned for life list that Michael Cimino is on!

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Soulful and beautiful.Outstanding debut film, 23 April 2005
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Garden State" was, for me, one of the biggest surprises of last year. Not being familiar with Zach Braff, I went into this film with no expectations whatsoever. What I got was this haunting, beautiful, soulful and very heartfelt movie experiecnce.

In reviews, I have never been one to rehash plot points. What I loved about this film the most was the writing. I loved those little quirky moments that tell you so much about the characters, such as the scene where the two main characters meet for the first time while waiting to see the doctor.

Another quality I really admired about "Garden State" was that it took its time to tell its story. I very much agree with a previous reviewer that felt this film really spoke to a generation. The scene where the three main characters stare into the abyss, to the sounds of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy In New York", still absolutely floors me, even after repeated viewings.

Unlike Kenneth Branaugh, another writer-director-actor, Zach Braff doesn't seem to be full of himself at the expense of everyone else involved in his film. This is shown by the way that he gives his fellow actors space to shine. This would easily have to be one of Natalie Portman's best performances. Between this and "Closer", she is entering a golden phase of her career.

I don't want to say too much about the film if anyone reading this hasn't seen it. I will say that "Garden State",along with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" are without a doubt my two best films of 2004.

Just see it. A truly outstanding debut film from writer-director-actor Zach Braff. Hopefully the start of a brilliant career.

12 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Fantastic book,awful film, 23 April 2005
2/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I made the point of approaching the film with an open mind considering "The Basketball diaries" was one of my favourite novels when I was a teenager. First of all, good points. Great performance from Di Caprio. The scene with the four boys playing basketball in the rain, set to Jom Carroll's "people Who Died" on the soundtrack, was for me the one scene that truly nailed the spirit and attitude of the book.Hence the two good points.

Bad points. The film reduced its wonderful source material to just another preachy, moralistic, stating the obvious 'kids, say no to drugs' diatribe.It also didn't have the guts to push it main character's decent into the hell of drug addiction further. Example:the scene where he meets his first client in the public toilets. If,according to the film,is that how bad it got for the main character, it rendered the film completely unbelievable and reeking of boo-hoo self pity and Catholic guilt.

In short, the film needed a strong sense of non-compromise if it was to get anywhere near the compelling vision that Jim Carroll depicted in the novel. Simply put, it fell into the trap that a great number of films about drugs and drug abuse fall into. They either glamourise, like "Dogs in Space" or "Less Than Zero, or preach, like this one.

The three best films about drugs and drug abuse for me would have to be "Drugstore Cowboy" and "Trainspotting";"Requiem for A Dream", by Darren Aronofsky, would without a doubt be the finest film about drug abuse ever made,full stop.They neither glamourise of preach. They simply show the damage, both physical and emotional and in a candid and truthful way, that drug use can cause and they never judge. "Requiem for A Dream" especially.See that film instead, ore read the book of "The Basketball Daries".

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The most startling debut film since "Eraserhead"., 4 February 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I mentioned "Eraserhead" in my summary. "Donnie Darko",written and directed by Richard Kelly, shares many similarities if not in style and approach,then definitely in attitude.

It is impossible to categorise this film simply in terms of genre.There is so much going on in "Donnie",whether it be part teen story/horror film/science fiction, that it simply knows no bounds.

To me, the most affecting aspect of "Donnie Darko" is the subtext about who you can trust in the world. In that respect, the Director's Cut added a great deal of depth and shade to its characters.However, I prefer the original cut for its choices of music to underscore certain scenes, like Echo and the Bunnymen's "Killing Moon" playing over the opening sequence.

The less I tell you about "Donnie Darko" before you see it, the better.All I will say is, see this movie with an open mind.In a world where a significant amount of films look and sound the same, "Donnie Darko" stands as something truly unique.This is why I love this film.

Also, talking to friends, I notice that people of 'a certain age' (i.e. late 20's/early 30's) seem to truly appreciate the film. I don't know why, but the late 80's setting of the film seems to really manage to hit a nerve with some viewers.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Looking forward to seeing what Richard Kelly does next in regards to writing and directing.

Suspiria (1977)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Scariest film ever made!!!!Dario Argento-Legend!!!, 27 January 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At his peak, Dario Argento was an absolute master director. He is one of the reasons why I love horror movies."Suspiria" is, in the immortal words I heard years ago,'a candy coated nightmare'.

This is a film where normal rules of filmaking,such as acting and story,don't apply.reading other comments, this is obviously a point that others can't get past.Atmosphere is what "Suspiria" is all about. I love the way that Argento plays with rhythm in the film. As a viewer, you are waiting and expecting something to happen.The beautiful and scariest thing about the film is that when they do, you are completely jolted.

This is a film that will indeed mess with your head if you let it.To me, this film captures perfectly that feeling of being scared, and being completely unable to identify why you are scared and what is scaring you.

Argento achieves this in numerous ways. His masterstroke is the score by Goblin.Very simple, almost like a nursery rhyme, but has the power to set your teeth on edge.Almost as powerful is his use of primary colours throughout the film.Horror movies never look like this.

I feel that Argento has been categorised as merely a director of horror movies. His style and sense of craft go much furthur than that.It's people like Dario Argento that remind me why I love cinema as much as I do.

The highest recommendation of "Suspiria" came from my wife a few years ago.On a Saturday morning, I introduced her to the film. About 40 minutes in, she cuddles up to me and says,"I'm scared!".This from a girl who laughed her way through the original "Exorcist"!Can't get much more of a recommendation than that!!!

Deck Dogz (2005)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Worst film of 2005...so far."DRECK DOGZ" more like it!!!, 18 January 2005
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I hated this film. Incompetent film making.Looks like it was edited with a thresher.I have seen high school media studies students make better films. Acting:I have seen more convincing acting in nativity plays!Overkill visually to the point of nausea!And, to top it all off, a really ugly,misogynist and homophobic attitude running throughout the film for no particularly good reason.The skating footage was good.Why someone of Tony Hwak's stature would want to be associated with this load of dribble is beyond me.There is a decent film to be made about skating and skateboard culture. This definitely isn't it.I think staring a blank cinema screen for an hour and a half might have been more enjoyable than actually watching this film!!!!!

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Eloquent,heartfelt and incredibly moving.One for the ages., 18 January 2005
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Where to begin? There are so many films out there that are so average or awful that they almost want to make you stop watching films altogether.Then, out of the blue,something like "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" comes along and totally restores your faith in cinema.

Everything about this film simply clicks together so beautifully and perfectly.Anchored by career best performances from Jim Carrey and Kate Winslket and a very well chosen supporting cast, "Eternal Sunshine" has the ability to completely disarm the viewer and pierce their soul.

Many films,ranging from this to mainstream soppy fare (usually starring Hugh Grant!) have looked at one of life's big questions:what is love? To me, no other film has looked at that question in such an intelligent or heartfelt way as "Eternal Sunshine" does.

The film possesses a truly jaw dropping visual style.Eschewing CGI, the film has a very natural and organic feel to it.Unlike a lot of music video directors turned filmmakers, the film never has a show-off "look at me" attitude.This is a major leap for Michel Gondry from his debut feature,the interesting but not totally successful "Human Nature".For all the amazing directions that the film takes you in with regards to Joel's mental journey,there is always a very candid and intimate feeling.I absolutely adored the very subtle use of fading background images when Joel's memories were being erased,and the gradual distortion of sound and music, most notably Beck's wonderful version of the old 80's song "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime".

It's not often that I feel hesitant to discuss a film at length. However, "Eternal Sunshine" is an exception. This is one of the rare films that,as a viewer, the less you know before seeing it for the first time, the better.

How good is this film?When I first saw it, due to a power surge, the projector stopped midway during the film.It was back up and running in no time, and we didn't miss any of the film.I was so completely blown away that I went and saw the lateshow immediately after!It is extremely rare for a film to do that to me! In regards to being a wonderful meditation of life, love and what it all means, I would put this next to the Wim Wenders masterpiece "Wings of Desire".That was the last film, apart from "Requiem for a Dream"(for completely different reasons on that one) that has moved me so deeply and managed to stir my soul.That's the power of cinema.

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
IT WAS THE BLUE ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 20 October 2003

This, for me, was one of the biggest surprises of the Melbourne International Film Festival this year. "Mercano"'s beautiful animation style was one of its strongest qualities. However, the real ace up its sleeve was the script. This fiercely funny, gleefully demented and savage attack on globalisation and big business was an absolute treat from start to finish. I can assure you, this is very much a universal concern and not just one relating to Argentina. I very much look forward to more work from the creative/demented minds behind "Mercano the Martian".


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