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Tasogare Seibei (2002)
More than a great Samurai movie, a great Dad movie.
A lot of well-stated attention has already been paid here-in to the Samurai aspect of this movie. All of that of course is a perfect reason to see "twilight Samurai," but it is also worth your time for Seibei's home-life. He comes alive in the presence of the women in his life -- his senile mother who needs constant reminders that Seibei is her son; his two young daughters; his childhood friend and romantic one-that-got-away Tomoe; even his memories of his dead wife. Seibei is, for my money, the most noble and decent movie-dad since Atticus Finch. Aside from "to Kill A Mockingbird," he also bears some comparison to William Muny in "unforgiven" -- both being men who know how to kill but try to leave that behind to raise their kids without their wives. Seibei's relationship with Tomoe has the quiet longing of the better Merchant-ivory films, "remains of the Day" in particular. Some friends i've recommended this to did not like that there are only 2 sword fights in it, to which i answer that "rocky" only has 2 boxing matches in it. Combine the strength and soul of every movie i just mentioned, add in Samurai, and you begin to get an idea of what a damn near flawless work "twilight Samurai" is.
please pardon my awkward capitalization -- i need a new keyboard.
Last Rites (2006)
neat idea, sad that more wasn't done with it
In a nut shell, Latino and black gangsters hole-up in a warehouse while homeless Zombies rage outside.
Too many gangster clichés, not enough Zombie action. Long, loud and repetitive periods of testosterone posturing coulda been spiced up by a few unique characters. I won't spoil it, but there was one potentially cool twist that came too late and fell flat when it was finally revealed.
This movie could have said something about Los Angeles, said something about about racism, or at least delivered some scares. It missed on all 3 counts. It's too bad, because a few of the performers brought more to their characters than the script gave them to work with.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
I want my 2hrs back...
I've recently heard that the average human life lasts about 650,000 hours. This breaks down to @ 74 years. That being said, when the moment of my death comes, my last thought will be "damn I wish I had back those 2 hours I wasted on CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST."
Granted,CH was made with a modicum skill, but this "masterpiece" talk is excessive. The score sounds like elevator music. Every performance is one-note. Nevermind that the characters are unsympathetic -- that's actually minutely cool -- they are, most of the time, boring. And stupid. You have a sound girl who in the beginning is chiding her boyfriend/director about not being ready to marry her. Days later she screams at him while he participates in a gang-rape ... but wait -- she's not screaming 'cause he and their other 2 pals are raping a woman, she's screaming 'cause the camera is still on!
Good film-making, and good art in general, should be about some attempt at truth. Not fact, but some revelation or expression of a point of view. For all the credit CH is being given in these pages for the "Who are the real savages" debate, moments like the one I just described strip away any of those points --
I do not believe these characters --
I feel like I am being lied to when I am asked to believe that these people would act this way. Therefore the movie is a lie ... and worse. It's a boring lie. Apart from some horrific treatment of animals (which has already been given tons of lip-service here so let me only say that it is tragic that these poor animals died for such a weak movie) the rest of CH is extremely tedious. Ya sit there waiting for the next shock ... and then waiting and waiting s'more and listening to that "beautiful" monotonous score.
Points have been given to CH for being "gritty," like this was some artistic choice. This was not a choice, this was a buncha hacks working so on-the-cheap that they couldn't $pring for anything better than hand-held. The score sounds like elevator music -- I know I awready said that, but I need to reiterate it in response to how many people said it was "beautiful" -- it sucked. Did it make for an unusual juxtaposition on a few occasions? Sure. It still sounds like Ross Geller plunking away on his Casio in Central Perk. Von Trier ending DOGVILLE and MANDERLAY with Bowie's "Young Americans" after 150+ minutes of Handel and Vivaldi -- now THAT'S a friggin' juxtaposition!!
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST is not scary. It is repulsive, but not shocking. Shock would require some element of surprise. CH ploddingly meanders way too often for any suspense to build to the point were a "shock" may happen. The only thing surprising about this movie is how many people seem eager to play Yes-Man and be next in line to kneel down, pucker up and blow glorious praise over a towering mediocrity.
Rockets Redglare! (2003)
a fascinating face in the crowd
Rockets Redglare was one of that legion of faces you recognize from movies without ever knowing his name or anything about him. I first took notice of him after "Talk Radio" -- a name like Rockets Redglare stood out from the credits.
What the film "Rockets Redglare!" reveals about the man Rockets Redglare is that he led a life more traumatic, more sad, and -- amazingly enough -- funnier, than most of the movies he appeared in. He was a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker who grew up in the 50's and 60's among hustlers and thieves. Rockets tells the camera some jaw-dropping stories about that world and how it contributed to his own addictions and compulsions.
His ability to get laughs out of his stories led him to become the black sheep of an extended family of artists and performers in the East Village in the early 80's. Members of that extended family appear here to tell you how they loved Rockets and how they never lost hope that he could "get it together."
"Rockets Redglare!" mixes home movies and photos of Rockets' past, clips from his film career and interviews taken with he and his circle in the last few years of his life. The result is multi-faceted -- a biography of a charismatic and unusual man, a document of a period in New York cultural history, a cautionary tale of excess.
The only possible flaw with this movie was that I wanted more of it. You are left wanting to hear more of his stories. This may not be a flaw, but the highest compliment for a documentary -- in 90 minutes it took me from knowing nothing to wanting to know everything about Rockets and his world.