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Boku no ita jikan (2014)
I don't hand out 10/10 very often. The movie or series I reward with such a high score, has to be a masterpiece in almost every single detail. To this drama I can't give anything but a 10.
The visual work wasn't outstanding in any way. There was no amazing costumes, makeup nor special effects. The musical score was very good, but not fantastic. There is no epic, earth shattering plot.
There was just the story of a guy, of a disease and of life. Just that simple. And just that amazing.
Carried by actors with talent, sincerity and emotional depth. Everyone in the cast made a good job,
even though some of the actors were shining just a little bit more than the others.
Tabe Miklako made a beautiful and tranquil portrait of a strong woman and good performances were given also by Asada Miyoko as her mother and Kazama Shunsuke as the likable Mamoru.
I liked Fukikoshi Mitsuru as the neurologist Dr Tanimoto and found Nomura Shuhei as Takuto's younger brother Rikuto, entertaining and endearing in his role as the socially awkward guy - who very clearly has Aspergers syndrome (even if it's never said outright.)
But the monster performance of tremendous impact was of course by Miura Haruma, who shines brighter than a star in the role as Takuto.
I believe there could not have been any better choice of actor for the role,
Miura nails it completely and absolutely CRUSHES any competition from Eddie Redmayne and "The theory of Everything". Stephen Hawking is an inspirational person and that movie was rather good, but how I wish that this series would be the one praised and well known.
Sorry Stephen and Eddie, but Takuto and Miura Haruma kicks your asses big time regarding inspirational impact and acting. I have always liked Miura but now he leapt right up to the #1 spot in my "Best Asian actors"-list.
As for the emotional impact of the drama - wow.
I have personal experience of the disease. My father died of ALS some years back, only 58 years old, about 2,5 years after diagnosis (rather fast) and 3,5 years after onset of symptoms. I worked as caretaker for him and am very familiar with everything related to the disease, it's progress and the care given to the patient. And I am very impressed by how meticulously every little detail was worked out and how Miura acted his role physically - it was very realistic.
And the agony, the emotions... I was completely blown away. I believed his acting every single minute of the series, I never once thought of him as an actor, but only as Takuto. I still can't shake off the belief that Takuto very much exists, that's how good Miura was.
It's sad, very sad. And painful. And agonizing. It WILL make you cry. A lot. And I mean A LOT.
But it's also beautiful, humorous, heartwarming, insightful, thought provoking and inspiring.
But more than anything else - it's hopeful.
I honestly feel that this story changed my life in a way. It made me think. A lot.
About who I am, what I am, why I am like I am, how I want to be, what I wish for. What my goal is.
Like Takuto, I will try to find my goals.
The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)
Crappiest movie ever made
Wow. This movie might very well be the worst one ever made... The utter mess is so bad that it's almost physically painful.
The original Dyatlov Group story is a sad tragedy, which sure is mysterious, but this ridiculous "explanation" is both stupid and IMO almost insulting towards the people who DID loose their lives.
I hardly know where to start bashing this movie - it's such a catastrophe. I like the horror/monster/suspense genre and I can appreciate pretty corny B-flicks, but this movie isn't even that, it's just pure crap. Harlin didn't get ONE single thing right. (Not that I am a fan of his other movies either, but they sure hold a much higher class than THIS.)
However interesting I find the original case, I don't feel it makes a very good movie material, except for a more mellow drama. Not much is known of the actual events, but all the more UFO-loons and conspiracy theorists have spread their doubtful ideas.
Script and storyline are really, really far-fetched and really, really stupid. The story is absurd in so many ways, I can't even start to state all of them... Let's make it simple; if you watch this movie, you will think the following phrases, at least 100 times each;
1; "Why would he/she/they DO that?" 2; "How did he/she/they come to THAT conclusion?" 3; "WHAT?" 4; "SERIOUSLY?" 5; "COME ON, REALLY?..." 6; "How many minutes left until it's over?"
The dialogue is weird and awkward and constantly has to explain all the far-fetched theories and events since pure logic fails to do so for the viewer. And let's not even talk about the horrible acting... :S
All the actors are seriously in over their heads, even appearing in a movie at all - they couldn't even pull off a cereal commercial without f*ing it up...
The absolutely worst one is Holly Goss, the blond chick. About five minutes into the movie, she already makes me want to rip my ears off just to get rid of her unnatural dialogue and over acting.
There are also a lot of small, but annoying flaws - like that they constantly nag about the cold but still have bare hands etc. Ural winter temperatures = one doesn't walk around barehanded.
Seriously - I was ready to press "STOP" after 20-30 minutes... the only reason I didn't, was that I had to watch the whole thing so that I could bash it completely...
I usually try to grade movies carefully, not just handing out 10;s and 1;s. But this really deserves the 1 I give it.
This is definitely one of the worst movies ever made. Period.
A Knight's Tale (2001)
It really can't get much worse than this.
*** Not really a spoiler, just mention a couple of scenes, nothing revealing***
I could go on for hours about everything that is abhorrent in this flick, but to just state the major nauseating things;
* I have seldom seen such bad acting. Heath gives the biggest downer in his career - jeez, talk about evolving, going from this to Brokeback mountain - the peak of his talent. Alan Tudyk makes me want to inflict pain on HIM and Shannyn Sossamon might very well be the worst actress on this Earth. The only thing that made me want to continue watching was Paul Bettany's insanely disrespectful (and hilarious) portrayal of Chaucer, which I truly appreciated and loved. The dialog is silly, at best, and most of the time just awkward and stupid. The script is VEEEEEERY thin and with a too fast pacing, at the same time there is not enough happening, which is weird. The pace races, but nothing is told.
* The mix of medieval and modern does NOT work, and I really can't see how anyone could think it does. Sossamons clothes and hair make me queasy and wreck the whole medieval scenery. The music is annoying the h*ll out of me in combo with the setting, and the dance scene might be one of the most embarrassing things I have ever witnessed on a screen.
I very well understand that this is a movie made for teens - non complicated, flashy, cute guy, cute girl (although the blacksmith-chick is much cuter), yada yada. But it still wouldn't have to turn out THIS bad...
I seldom give grades THIS low, but there really isn't anything good to be said. Bettany saves the flick from landing on the absolute bottom of a grade 1. Yes. It really was that bad. I HAVE seen worse. But not many.
Only the Brave (2006)
Embarrassing faux pas
I really wanted to like this movie, even though seeing the bad reviews and grades, but I'm sorry to say I just couldn't. Already in the first scene,(incense and cultural clichés accompanied by ramblings), I was thinking "Nooo". Cheesy and conceited were adjectives that came to mind...
I'm very interested in military history, especially WWII. I have my roots in Finland, and therefore I have the same relationship to Finnish movies about the Winter war and Continuation war (btw something to take a look at for anyone interested in WWII, to see some of the least discussed but most astonishing military wonders of all times - a tiny Little poorly equipped army in a tiny little country, literally crushing the USSR Bear), as I suppose Asian Americans have to this movie, since it portrays a part of the US Army which seldom have gotten any recognition for their efforts and sacrifice.
(Also see "Days of glory", a rather good movie about the Algerian French soldiers in the French army during WWII - Another "forgotten" Group).
I also have a great interest and fair insight into different Asian cultures due to both personal interest and having several Asian in-laws in the family. Also, some of the areas in WWII history, which I have spent the most time on, are the affairs in Asia and the Pacific. So the genuine interest is there, and also a good insight and knowledge of actual history.
Still, I have to practically force myself through this syrupy mess... The degree of melodrama, over acting and oh-it's-so-sad, is so extensive that it makes me queasy. Everything is shoved in the face of the viewer, in a pathetically naïve way, leaving no room for any thought or reflexion. Nothing is subtle nor actually touching, since the director has drenched it all in banality and cheap clichés.
The acting is horrible and over dramatic overall, and leaves one with an uncomfortable feeling of embarrassment on the behalf of both the actors and the characters. They are all flat and one-dimensional, delivering predictable portraits with no depth. I would even say that the characters, in a way, mock and ridicule Asian Americans, and place the whole group in an old and clichéd POV. Which is both sad and frustrating.
The depiction of battle and warfare is badly acted, but mainly badly planned and executed by the director, giving an air of boys playing war at a paint-ball field, rather than actually being at the western front. Low budget is not an excuse since many movies pull it off anyway.
The script is annoying in it's throws hence and forth, and in it's lack of continuity and a red thread. The scenes don't drive the story forwards, but just seem random and confused. Dialogue is mostly bad.
Overall, this movie is a crappy mess with not much good to be said about. And that's irritating since this forgotten part of WWII-history is a very interesting one, and a movie made by a good director, with a good script and screenplay, with good actors, could have made it a see worthy pearl of a flick, instead of a pathetic puddle of syrup. :( I can't even recommend it to anyone except maybe descendants of the Asian American soldiers from the US troops of WWII. I think they could have some kind of benefit from this Movie, otherwise, it's mostly a waste of time. See something good instead.
Sad to say, because I so much would have wanted to like this.
But Lane Nishikawa kind of fu*ed up. Seriously badly so.
Nanjing! Nanjing! (2009)
A masterpiece, sadly overlooked
** The spoilers contained are not really spoilers, just a very brief mention of a couple of scenes**
As both a history nerd and a war movie freak, I was rather surprised to discover both a part of history, as well as this movie, and realize that I have hardly heard anything about the rape of Nanking, not by a word mentioned in any history lesson nor school literature in Sweden, where I live. I haven't seen many books about it either, during my years of devouring all literature about WWII and wars in conjunction with it. Sad, but it gave me the more reason to learn about the Sino-Japanese wars. This movie, I guess, was the introduction. The mixed reviews were rather confusing but I chose to go with the general trend, that it was see worthy. It was.
Seldom I have been so completely punched down by a Movie, and so utterly engrossed. Everything about this flick just sucks you in, and shakes you up entirely.
The black and white execution can, I guess, be a bit different, for watchers not used to old b&w movies, and definitely pretty unusual nowadays. But as I see it, this is one of the most important features of the movie, giving a raw, documentary, and very authentic feel to it. A very smart move by the director, giving the impression that what you are watching, is a piece of naked at-the-scene history. Still, the visual of the movie never loses it's insanely beautiful and powerful cinematography, with every frame In-Your-Face, smashing you like a fist of master photo.
The actor portraits are strong, convincing and complex, and lets you feel and wonder, rather than just being fed, evolving and revealing more and more as the story unravels. Some critique Nakaizumi Hideo's rendition of Kadokawa, but I don't get it. IMO he does an amazing job, and makes me believe, and feel, him. Often, western viewers, have a hard time getting used to Asian film, which, according to me, has to do with the fact that western and Asian storytelling and dramaturgy traditionally differ a little bit, which of course is completely natural. In many Asian flicks I think the acting and scripts can feel a bit melodramatic for a western viewer. (Not for me though, as a long time fan of Asian film.) In this movie, however, not a trace of that can be detected. The form of this epic piece of film history, is rather the mellow and minimalistic storytelling of old, classic war drama, like for an example, the excellent Finnish "The unknown soldier" (by Edvin Laine, 1955, about another rather unknown part of WWII - the Finnish wars).
The score and sound is also powerful, and adds to the air created, and a couple of scenes are epic, unforgettable, in their perfect harmony of visual, score and emotional strength (the scene with the climb to the top to oversee the field of corpses, and the scene with the ritualistic dance). Scenes that makes one shiver to the core - pure cinematic ecstasy.
The story is simple, yet so dense of emotion and complexity, in it's slow pacing leading to a inevitable climax. Never pointing fingers, never glorifying, never picking sides. Just showing the horror of war, naked and raw, never glutting in blood, misery and atrocity, nonetheless giving a deep impact on the Viewer.
This movie is NOT overrated by the people calling it a genuine masterpiece, because it IS. A powerful, haunting rendition of a horrific piece of history, with believable portrayals of HUMANS rather than sides. Humans affected by, and changed by, war. Beautifully told in it's awfulness.
In a word; fantastic.
Hotel Rwanda (2004)
See "Shooting dogs" instead...
This is a good movie. That can't be denied. But it is also the polished PG-13 version of one of the most horrifying events in modern history. Every little bit of information about the Rwandan genocide, that can find its way to the knowledge of people, is of course precious, and for that I am happy that this movie was made and brought lights to the topic in a way that regrettably not even the actual genocide could do. BUT... (And this is a big BUT.)
This movie, has IMO never been able to fully depict the absolute horror of the genocide in Rwanda. It is not about the amounts of blood on the screen, nor the number of bodies in piles in the frames. It's about how you close up to the subject. And nothing in this movie makes me relive the anguish and emotional trauma which I felt when I was in Rwanda, some 8 yrs after the genocide. I have seen the scarred remains of a country trying to build itself up from the ashes. I've seen the mass graves, the Gacaca courts, the thousands and yet thousands of convicted perpetrators in their pink uniforms, working the fields. I have been to the survivors center and I have seen the thousands of skulls lying in N'tarama Church. What does "Hotel Rwanda" make me feel? Not very much. (As a note - I have also been to "Mille Collines". Which was a rather bizarre feeling, that luxury in the midst of poor Kigali.) This movie is just a little bit too detached from the reality as it was, to get to you in the way that the story of the genocide really does, if told in another way. Sure, I can see that people who have not known much about the Rwandan genocide, can get very emotionally affected by the movie, and I do too, of course. But, I still think that this movie makes a quite a shallow impression compared with other movies on the topic. Of course, I wasn't there when it actually happened, but when you have seen the mayhem after it with your own eyes, it's still different to when you haven't.
AND ALSO - the thing that bugs me the most is the fact that Paul Rusesabagina really isn't quite the hero the world seems to think him to be. Did you know that the man "sold" shelter to the refugees coming to Mille Collines? The ones with money got in, the ones without, didn't. So the people who survived thanks to Rusesabagina were mainly very rich. Of course it's good that they survived, but what about the ones with no money. Rusesabagina did good, yes. But is he a hero? No. The heroes were the families who hid their neighbors, the UN-soldiers who desperately tried to get word out to the the rest of the world and get military task forces in, but were ignored and left to see the slaughter with tied hands. The people who risked their own lives to try to save others. The soldiers of the RPF, who were the ones who stopped this madness. Never believe everything you see in a movie without trying to get the full picture.
No... if you are interested in this horrific but engaging chapter of modern history, and wish to know more about the shameful way in which the UN and the rest of the world handled the whole thing, I strongly recommend you to watch some other stuff. Like the best movie made about the Rwandan genocide: "Shooting dogs", which is much more likely to get you to understand the event in a more broad way, as well as give a much more deep emotional experience. "Shake hands with the devil" is a very well made TV-production about one of the true heroes from Rwanda 1994 - Roméo Dallaire. (On which Nolte's character in "Hotel Rwanda" was loosely based). There is also a very good documentary with the same name - "Shake hands with the devil - the journey of Roméo Dallaire". Also, there are some other movies on the topic - of which "Sometimes in April" is the best. I recently saw "Kinyarwanda", which was very good from some aspects.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
I pity those who can not see
I just wrote a very long piece, trying to point out where the ones throwing dirt at this movie, were wrong. A long and upset monologue, educative, knowitall blabbering. Then it just hit me, a minute ago - they won't get it anyway. They will never get it. They are either homophobes, ignorant, not too bright, or does simply not have the emotional nor connoisseur skills to comprehend a piece of art when they see it. It's not boring, it's not full of padding. The story is not thin nor confusing at all. It's not a gay movie and it's not over hyped. It's even better than the hype says. You just don't see.
So instead I turn to the ones who do see. I can't say much more than you've already said, and I mostly wanted to just add my voice to the unison - this is indeed one of the finest movies ever made. It is perfection in the art of movie-making if I ever seen one. And such a hard story to bring to life, to boot.
Breathtaking acting from all involved but especially of course Gyllenhaal & Ledger who have a chemistry and talent that sends chills down ones spine, artful and beautiful editing, brilliant directing from perfectionist Lee, hauntingly beautiful score and photo, just... wow. A slow paced, detailed peek through a window into the lives of a bunch of miserable people, all tied together (and damned) by the love between Ennis and Jack. Raw and chose free, the story is served, for interpretation of the viewer. Someone not observant will probably miss a lot, because this is a work of precision. The absolute heart and core of this movie is shown not in words, leading scenes nor ready to serve statements, but in the glances between Ennis and Jack, and their subtle but mountain moving role interpretations. I could talk forever, but never mind. Just watch it for yourselves. To date I have seen it sixteen times, and I will probably see it another one hundred and sixteen times. I just can't get enough. As a movie freak this is total cinematographic climax - it just doesn't get any better than this. And also because Ennis and Jack haunt me as well as you. They make me think, they make me heartbroken, but also so incredibly happy. For the cynical misanthrope I am, a bittersweet comfort and reassurance of the possible happiness of life, I guess. I can't even explain what this movie did, and every time does, for me. Many has used the word catharsis. A word as good as any.