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Chemical_Dali

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4 reviews in total 
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6 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Scenes from a (certified copy of) marriage, 10 November 2010
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What appears to be just two flirtatious strangers meeting for coffee becomes a fifteen year long stormy marriage. However .....

the author has written a book about artworks and their conversations are about the validity of the copies derived from them. I think the truth is that they are not married but in fact She is just his mistress. She roleplays "the wife" to satisfy her fantasy to be married to the author - her "perfect man". She appeals to the cafe lady that she just wants to live with "her man". The cafe lady contends that happiness for a woman is to learning to live apart at times (as it would be during an affair). This affair is a kind of copy of what the original version should be (a certified marriage), hence the title Certified Copy. It begs the question then what makes this union certified ? For the man its a statement, he is happy with the status quo, for her its a question - how do I make this relationship official ? The last image is of two bells ringing in unison - wedding bells, a glimpse of future possibilities. Will she demand marriage ? Will he run away from commitment or will they become man and wife ?

Recon (1996)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Short on story but long on good visuals, 27 February 2010
7/10

I have to agree with the other commentary writer you mentioned that the leadup to this was great but the ending left a little to be desired. High productions values and attention to detail abound, but the lesson that the good short story or film is only as good as its climax was somehow ignored. It just goes to show how important the script is to proceedings. As a Masters Film it was only average. I expected better from the director of Sahara, a good fun satisfying movie. But it is worth the watch for the visuals and the good sound design (which admittedly at times grated on the senses - less is more).

7/10

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Post Modernist work of art., 4 July 2009
10/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Big Bear like Oscar winner Forest Whittaker plays Ghost Dog, a Black American hit-man who by day studies Eastern philosophy and by night moonlights as a contract killer for hire. He deftly performs both crafts in an unnamed American city fabricated like a new world colonial outpost lost in a huge virgin forest, as evidenced by the recurring motifs of bears, the canvass of night and trees and the thematic blur between "evolved" man and his latent brother the beast (within ?).

Ghost Dog lives by a code that is enriched by the samurai teachings of ancient japan, which serves as his back story as well as an indictment of the mafia bosses who employ him and the decadent society they all live in. He maintains a servant like devotion to his retainer Louie, brilliantly played by John Tormey, a mafia captain who saved his life.

Things become complicated when the mafia kingpin played by the man with the eyes as cold as steele, Henry Silva, orders the murder of one of his wayward associates for sleeping with his daughter. Ghost Dog effortlessly completes the assassination, but Louise, who has evaded her own retainers, witnesses the murder. In order to prevent losing face with his daughter, Vargo decides to end Ghost Dogs life, the one link of proof tracing him to the hit.

However owing to his name, he is part Ghost part Dog, being able to appear and re appear at will, kill with noiseless efficiency and sniff out an ambush like a wily old dog. His traumatic fight for survival is also made more perilous by his deep need to maintain a sense of righteousness and loyalty to Louis, the man who has been ordered to kill him.

If this sounds like a run of the mill action gangster piece, not so. Director Jim Jarmusch manages to elevate this movie to intellectual hieghts and cult status by successfully deconstructing myths about modern man, society, honour and betrayal, while cleverly using and subverting standard conventions of the aforementioned genres. The mafia for example cannot pay their rent; they are unorganized, overweight and undermanned. This is a slap of reality in the face of the romanticized luxury laden gangster shown in films like The Godfather (based on a book written by a man who cannot speak Italian) and by De Niro's turn as Capone in The Untouchables. The godfathers in Ghost Dog are gray haired thugs with flabby muscles, who have lost touch with society as shown by their ludicrously ignorant grasp of pop culture, preferring to stay in low rent dives watching cartoons from the 50s. The city they once patrolled with gold encrusted cars and perfumed women is now a decadent postcard to their former glory. A very strong sense of postmodern decadence abounds much like Tarantino's Pulp Fictian Los Angeles.

Jarmusch, the consummately consistent filmmaker also reveals the samurai world of Ghost Dog to be equally decadent. The ancient samurai were a social and military elite, dressed in beautifully ornamented knightly armor. In Ghost Dog the lonely samurai dress in the tired hungry clothes of the poor and live in alley ways and abandoned rooftop shacks among other of society's outcasts - a flock of pigeons. No longer commanding legions of warriors, todays samurai work for morally and financially bankrupt gangsters who despise their race. This exists as an indictment of not just white on black and yellow racism but of the class struggle between the uneducated rural gentry and the savage middle class. A big part of Ghost Dogs character being so endearing is that despite all this, he continues to maintain the samurai code and his spiritual bond with his retainer Louie. He achieves this by practicing martial arts and by reading daily the Hagakure (the Book of the Samurai), an 18th century book which was a battle cry for Nipponese cultural survival against the greedy and despised machinations of the West.

Quotes from the Hagakure are narrated by Whittaker like chapter headings before every important scene in the film, which helps to define a philosophical yardstick by which to measure Ghost Dog's actions. Unlike western society, Ghost Dog lives in a world where its inhabitants share their passion and sentiment through the exchange of books and ideas and not goods or gold; a self referential pulp fiction necessity, in a world of outlandishly larger than life characters, spirituality bound by the desperate search for the meaning of life and looking to the Hagakure for solace and guidance.

Everyone in the movie is bound by that, certainly Ghost Dog is. The random old man who kung fu chops the would be robber, the park bench rappers who are more concerned with the passion and ideas encased within the lines of their rap, than notice the innocent ten year old girl eating ice cream nearby, while the mafia seem mired in a self muted display of indignant lazy righteousness that pervades all they do and affects the little they achieve.

Much like all of Jarmusch's films there is the climactic devastating clash of the old and the new, east vs west, European and Indigenous; a battleground where only the wise few who unfalteringly hold to a sense of deep spirituality are able to achieve enlightenment.

Fans of rap will also love the soundtrack composed and arranged by RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, who created a fitting tribute both in word, flow and energy to the post modernist work of art that is Ghost Dog.

Blade (1998)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Classic fun Vampire hack and slash, 3 July 2009
8/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I went into this movie with ordinary expectations. From the moment the exciting shower of blood scene (The Matrix attempted to copy its grandeur and failed) to the climactic finale, I was treated to an excellently directed, acted and paced comic book fantasy. Its a pity Stephen Norringtion who, in my opinion, was the best comic book to film adaptation director on the planet until Bryan Singer came along, has seemingly decided to give up directing such movies. Read up on the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen fiasco for insights on that. His decision is a great loss to cinema in general and the Blade Series.

Great director, great movie.