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The Search (2014)
Brutal and honest movie
I will not elaborate movie plot in detail, it is a remake of the award winning movie of the same name from 1948, and of course it is a similar story. But I must say that it is a important movie about a forgotten conflict in Chechnya. The reception of the movie was poor in EU and it is clear why. The Director shows the reality of European and Russian politics, the europeans are indifferent to the problems of small oppressed nations in the former SSSR, and reluctant to do anything against the Russian terror. I was surprised to see an European movie which clearly takes sides with the victim and does not try to detach from the conflict, something which has always been popular among the political correct movie-makers, quoting both sides are equally guilty". And we see a surprising accurate depiction of the training in the Russian army, a traditionally brutal thing. All in all, a must see movie. The truth must be told and the crimes must not be forgotten.
Not so great, but fun
Another movie in the genre of Young Adult Fiction. I haven't read a book, because to be honest, most of these books are written around the same idea: rebellion of the youth coming of age against some form of totalitarian society (read: society of the adults). It is clear why these ideas are so appealing to the teenagers, it is in their nature to be rebellious. We also have obligatory love story, and that's it. Divergent did not blow me away with it's story, but it's far away from awful. The premise is interesting. In some unspecified future we see residents of post-apocalyptic Chicago living within five categories (factions) of people (Abnegation the selfless, Amity the peaceful, Candor the honest, Dauntless the brave, and Erudite the intelligent), according to their character traits. But there are also the Divergent, people without faction, who live outside of society like Untouchlable caste in India. Each 16-year-old person must choose his/her faction and remain there for the rest of life. Our heroine chooses military faction (because they are soooo cool - and irritating) and we see her complete her combat training only to face great conspiracy between leaders of Dauntless and Erudite to seize the power for themselves. She manages to foil this plot and escapes with her friends. What happens now, we will see in an obligatory sequels. My main criticism is the portrayal of the Dauntless faction-army and police force of the city. They are shown as crazy, brave, tattooed, sexy youth and no wonder that they are so appealing to our heroine and young audience. They always run, jump, do dangerous stuff and so on. But even though one of the faction commanders says they train soldiers and not rebels, I wonder. They learn how to fight, of course, and most of the time they look like a bunch of brigands. They repeat the mantra faction before blood", and not once in the movie I see their loyalty to the society they are bound to protect (against what, remains to be seen). Honestly, they look as coup d'état-in-waiting, but whatever. All in all, not great, not bad.
The Gatekeepers (2012)
Confession of former SHABAK detainee - Shireen Essawi
In 2010, Shireen was stopped at a checkpoint in Jerusalem and asked for her ID."I gave the Israeli soldier my ID. He said that I couldn't pass and have to take a detour. I asked for directions. He screamed suddenly and told me I was under arrest for three hours.
They put me inside a small room near the checkpoint with large windows. Later a jeep came and they transferred me to a Jabal al-Mukaber police station. Someone identified himself as an officer. He didn't mention his name. No charges were mentioned. Only that I'll be transferred to Talpiot police station.
In Talpiot they interrogated me and accused me of owning a knife, which I didn't. I was under arrest for 24 hours and would be transferred to Maskobiyeh Detention Center. They handcuffed and blindfolded me. Later on, I realised I was in an interrogation room. They removed the blindfold.
An interrogator said: 'Welcome, we've been expecting you for a long time.' They confined me in a cell. Soldiers came later and told me I'm going to court which was comforting. I knew if I meet a judge I will be released. I did nothing wrong. They took me blindfolded through long corridors. I heard Palestinian detainees calling upon me to remain strong. I was confused. What do they mean? Was I not leaving?
I was alone in the cell, which I believe was underground. I had to go down a very long staircase to reach it. It was very small to fit a person. It had a pit-toilet and a sleeping mat. The smell was horrible. The walls were grey and made out of pointed stones. I hurt myself several times trying to support my back or head.
The orange lights were kept lit all day. The AC was mostly on with full power. I felt like I was in a fridge. My whole body turned blue from the excess chill.
The iron door had a small slot they used to talk to me. They switched me between two cells. I knew that because the door location changed. Sometimes they'd get me to a new cell with the lights off. I couldn't even see my own hand there. So, when I approached the door or the pit-toilet, I end up hitting the wall. Only then did I know they switched the cell. They made my meetings with the lawyer difficult. They'd make him wait for hours falsely claiming I'm being interrogated. Other times they claimed I refused to meet him without informing me. They left me alone while the lawyer was waiting elsewhere. They'd intentionally sit very close to me. They almost stick their mouth to my ear and shout loud. One day the interrogator unchained me and approached. His face was almost glued to mine. I asked him to give me my space. But he told me: 'We're the ones who decide here. You have no personal space. Who do you think you are?'
I pushed him away. Other interrogators rushed in and started shouting. They hit me, tied my hands and legs and blindfolded me, repeatedly dragging me on the floor and slamming me against the wall. They chained me with a leash and said: 'I dealt with the likes of you before. You're rubbish. You're worthless.'
During interrogation I asked for a Quran, a book, a pen. Anything to feel alive. I said I'm on strike until I get my demands. When I finally got the chance to buy a pen, I was so happy. I felt like a kid on New Year. I started to write down everything I experienced. I wrote about finally buying a shampoo to use in my cell. I described to my mum the scarce smell of hygiene. Being a girl in the interrogation, they know honour and reputation is something we highly value. So, they use it against us. They threatened to rape me. A colonel once came to me in the later stages and called me nasty names. He gave details on sexual positions, and that he'd bring his dog to do those things to me. As if to say we are worthless, not human. That we're worthy of dogs.
The detention with all its horrors had a positive side. It allowed me to experience things that detainees may hide. If I go back to being a lawyer or working with children, the cases won't be rumours I merely hear about. I lived through it."
Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)
Jodorowskys Dune: The greatest film never made (thank goodness for that!)
I must confess that before watching this documentary, I never heard of Alejandro Jodorowski or his movies, or that he wanted to do a movie based on Frank Herberts sci-fi novel Dune". Being a great fan of Sci-Fi I went to see this documentary and I must confess it is a fascinating movie. It shows Jodorowskys passion about this project, his visions (probably LSD-induced) and the obstacles he faced during the preparation of the movie. He said himself that he wanted to create a mind-changing movie for the entire generation of youth, a movie which induces hallucinations for the viewer without having to take LSD, and in my opinion, that is the core of the entire problem, the cause of his failure. Jodorowsky is a true representative of the avantgarde in the 60's and 70's. It was a generation of people who tried to find some bigger truth and to provoke the establishment, all that with the help of mind-altering drugs, mysticism, lots of sex and horrible fashion, and ultimately they failed. Many movies from this period are violent, disgusting (here I mean sci-fi movies) and bizarre things, which are better left unseen. In this context, Jodorowsky thinks that his movies are deep, challenging and philosophical, but he is wrong. Confusing or strange or sick images are not deep. Bizarre brutality is not challenging of philosophical. It is what it is. The only thing which cannot be disputed is Jodorowsky energy which he uses to convince people that nothing is something. His enthusiasm for his project is great but I cannot perceive his rationale behind his actions, his only criteria for everything is his intuition, which led him to make a bizarre cast for the movie. Enough to begin with Salvador Dali (whose demands were ridiculous) as the Emperor of the Galaxy, then Orson Wells (whose demands were also ridiculous) as baron Harkonnen. These two egos on the stage would have probably never be able to cooperate. He continues with Mick Jagger as Feyd Harkonnen and Dalis muse Amanda Lear as princess Irulan. For the soundtrack he chose Pink Floyd and a group named Magma. From his scenario we can see how he imagined the costumes and it reminds greatly of Flash Gordon" from 1980. Everything looks bizarre, campy and ridiculous. As for the story, he made some big changes in his script, which were unnecessary in my opinion and did not contribute to the movie at all. He was not ready to make any compromises with anyone so he did not want to cooperate with Douglas Trumbull, the special effects expert from that time, only because he didn't like him. The length of the movie was estimated at 12 hours or more, which scared and banished all the movie companies in Hollywood. And of course, anybody in Hollywood who has seen Jodorowskys other movies would be frightened by a prospect of letting him do a movie without any creative control. All in all, a must-see documentary for all science fiction and Dune"-fans, which must be grateful Jodorowsky failed to put his vision on the big screen. It would have probably be overlong, campy, bizarre, brutal, frustrating ordeal with lousy special effects, but however it would have become a cult movie (probably impossible to watch sober), if nothing else then for it's strangeness.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Nice view behind the scenes in the world of business
This movie is known for its many swear words and nudity, but rest assured it is all with a purpose. It is based on an autobiography of Jordan Belfort (played by excellent Di Caprio), stock market manipulator. I will not elaborate much of the story because it is simple, a story of a self made man from his humble beginnings to his downfall, after some criminal activity, of course. The movie gives splendid presentation of how things work in today's economy and stock market exchange. It is a worrisome and at the same time funny business when you see that many people who rule the economy world are primitive, greedy, lying, manipulative, sinful people with short tempers. They apparently try to enjoy everything life has to offer, without limits. They enjoy drugs on regular basis, alcohol and all kinds of sex. In short, they are in all aspects priests of hedonism. Wherever you have success and money, the face under the make-up is ugly. But the most important scene in the movie, which recapitulates the whole thing, is with Di Caprio and Matthew McConaughey at the beginning where things are explained in short. Everything is a game without any meaning. The only goal is to make naive people give your their money and in exchange they receive the illusion that this money exists somewhere multiplied many times. As long they feel rich, they are rich. When they try to cash this money, the moment has arrived to deliver them from their illusion. Go see the movie, it will be informative and you will not regret it.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Excellent and funny movie
I hoped this would be solid movie and I was not wrong. It is based on a Japanese novel which explains fresh approach in the time-travel concept. The premise of the movie is simple: Earth has been invaded by some alien life-form (called Mimics and remind of sentinels form Matrix) and the Humanity is losing. Almost all of Europe has been conquered and the United Defence Forces are preparing one final big offensive, something like landing in Normandy to reclaim European mainland. Our main protagonist, William Cole played by Tom Cruise, is some kind of military journalist/PR expert who is send to be embedded reporter in the front line. Being a complete coward, he tries to avoid being sent into the combat force but he gets arrested and forcefully drafted. The invasion itself is a total disaster and our hero" dies within minutes. But before he dies, he accidentally manages to kill alien alpha soldier, which obviously has some kind of special ability, because he wakes up a day before the invasion and repeats the same day over and over. On the battlefield he meets a Hero of human forces Sgt.Rita Vrataski (played by Emily Blunt), the woman who managed to defeat the aliens in one battle and she recognizes what happened to him. The Mimics have a power to rewind time each time when some alpha soldier is killed, and after a contact with one Cole has acquired this ability. Rita had this power before, but she lost it after her winning battle. She wants to use Coles ability to train him so that they will be able to find Omega-alien, mind which controls the entire invasion. Training is brutal and difficult, because our protagonist is really not a soldier and we see why he doesn't want to go into battle. He dies time and again, many time funnily. He tries to reach that alien over-mind and at the same time to save Vrataski from a certain death, which is as it seems an impossible mission (no pun intended). The chemistry between Cole and Vrataski is superb, and never feels forced. Luckily, the director has chosen not to overdo the romantic relation between our heroes, everything is hinted at. The ending of the movie is somewhat weaker and not logical, but that's OK, it's a time-travel story and it's difficult to avoid paradoxes.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Not an exciting movie
The hardest thing to review is a mediocre movie. Horrible and excellent movies are easy, because the motivation for a review is high. But with modest movies there is nothing special to say about them. It is possible too see them once in a lifetime and forget them immediately. I had some high hopes about this installment of Spiderman and it failed to meet them. The movie itself is in my opinion too long and most of that time was wasted as a filler. There were many new things introduced in the movie but everything seemed rushed and uninspired. We have two new villains, Electro and Green Goblin. The birth of Electro is somewhat funny, because he was bitten by radioactive electric eel (Not radioactive spider, mind you! Eel!). He hates Spiderman, because he used to love him and he got disappointed later. Green Goblin is born when Harry Osborne injects himself with some kind of radioactive spider poison. And we see him on screen for entire five minutes. Spiderman manages to defeat his enemies at the end after a bombastic fight full sound and fury, but at great price. Then we have setting for a new villains in the future, Black Cat and Rhino which seemed ever more rushed then the first two villains (especially Rhino, it's unbelievable how did they introduced him in the end)and we will see what will happen with them in future movies. All in all, a generic uninspired superhero story, more like a prequel for some future blockbusters. Go see it, you will lose only 140 minutes of your life. And you will gain not much.
Suspenseful, brutal and illogical movie
It's an allegory, of course. The movie, I mean. It was meant to be an example of how the mankind behaves, and truth be told, I think the movie-makers did get some things right, all the plot-holes aside. It is in human nature to make an unjust society which recklessly ignores the biotope in which it lives. The history is full of such examples, whether we see the situation among the people in prison or among the people in most technologically advanced society in the world. The principle is always the same, those who have the power, tend to keep it in their hands, and those without it tend to rebel against such a society, and more often such rebellions fail. Those which succeed, turn into the same thing people rebelled against. The poor are being exploited and sacrifices so that the rich minority can live in luxury. But now for the movie. Where to begin? It has so many plot-holes and many of those have been in detail analyzed by other reviewers. I will only try to point out some bigger problems. First of all, why train? They could have make the entire thing happen in some underground bunker and everything would be much more logical. This train is perpetually running through the frozen rail tracks, to what end? Nobody repairs those tracks, the train is an isolated ecosystem, or so we are told so there is no need to be on the move. The could just stop and nothing would change. Next thing is a question, why the need the people from the last carriage? They don't contribute with anything accept they eat cockroach-energy-bars. Of course, their children are being taken away but all the same, the people in the last carriage are not necessary. Then we have those cockroach-bars, but where in the world have they found all those roaches? They need probably thousands each day. Then we have that garden with couple of trees but it is not enough to sustain the entire drugged, partying population of the rich. The same goes for the aquarium. And the ending! The ending. The train is destroyed and only a teenage girl and a little boy survive the crash, and go outside to face uncertain future. Or, better said, certain death. They have nowhere to go, nothing to eat. They even see a polar bear, who will probably attack and eat them. They are the last two surviving human beings in the world, as far as the viewer knows from the movie. Even if they could procreate (they can't, because the generation gap is too big) it is a too small a number to restart the humanity. So. After decades of train ride, the humanity finally goes bye-bye.
P.S.I gave it four stars, because the movie itself was not boring which is something I can't say for a majority of the movies today.
Crappy indie superhero movie
I always loved noir movies and I thought that this movie will be good indie movie but sadly, it fails on many levels to create suspenseful story. I will not go into detail, but anybody who has seen a film noir knows what to expect: broken heroes, femmes fatale, murder, revenge and so on. It is a mixture between The Watchmen and Phillip Marlowe, with a city with masked vigilantes (but not so many as we expect), people with superpowers, mass murderers. The story itself is really not that bad, but executed poorly with much predictable storytelling and dialogues. Stuff already seen before, and much better. The actors are not exactly miscasted but it is no big surprise when we discover that Jake Busey and Clancy Brown play bad guys. Fist-fighting is so crappy in the movie, they could really have done much better, and the costumes! No comment! All in all, no wonder there aren't many reviews for this movie, not many people have seen it. Looks almost like a direct-to-video stuff. Watch it if you will, you will not feel too cheated for your spent time.
Winter's Tale (2014)
Slow, but boring
I went to see this movie without knowing anything about the story. I presumed it will not be bad because of the cast. Of course, I was wrong. It was boring thing that tried to present a big message on screen, based on a book under the same title, but as I have read later, with many changes. I understand what the filmmaker tried to tell, that Destiny works in a mysterious way and that we can never perceive the whole picture. But it was executed very poorly. We hope that our hero will defeat the forces of Hell (literally, we even have Will Smith as the Devil) and be with his love but that is not his destiny. His destiny is to be thrown from a bridge and sent into the future where he will save little girl who is dying. We also have demonic crime lords, flying horse (who is sometimes a dog, don't ask), angels, Indian legends, and a girl dying from consumption (tuberculosis) who is keeping her temperature low by bathing in cold water and walking barefooted on snow (both things are a very unhealthy thing to do, but whatever). And at the end we have a fistfight between our hero and a demon crime lord who is defeated and turned into snow (I don't know why). This all sounds very confusing but I don't have time or will to explain things into detail, to put it short it was a boring mess. You have been warned!