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The Three Musketeers (2011)
Countess D'Winter sword-fighting and spinning on the wire rig
"After failing in a scheme to steal Leonardo Da Vinci's airship blueprints, the Musketeers..."
Seriously, the writer of "Predators" and the director of "Resident Evil" decided that Alexander Dumas masterpiece was not good enough... so they decided to add "Leonardo Da Vinci's airship" and make some other "improvements" on this horrid joke of a movie. I stopped watching when I saw Countess D'Winter sword-fighting and spinning on the wire rig. I wondered how long before the zombies would show up.
As a lover of literature, I can't stand those Hollywood adaptations. Like when someone decided to cast Robert Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes and also ignored that the detective from Baker Street never before touched a firearm and sent the most brilliant detective ever imagined on a shooting spree around London.
Anyway, it isn't hard to understand why this $75,000,000 piece of garbage flopped in the box office. This shows that the public is not as stupid as we may think. Vox populi, vox Dei.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
I think Woody Allen is the greatest American screenwriter and director of this age - That if you can call him a director he admittedly does nothing but let the actors free to do their work, which is probably his greatest quality.
He's been honing his skills for a long time now and at this point in his life has made countless works of art. He was close to perfection with Vicky Christina Barcelona, but perhaps that movie was way too passionate. The Purple Rose of Cairo was a great fantasy, but maybe too sugar coated. I think this time he got the recipe right. The movie is simple, but perfect.
From the opening images you get the feeling he is up to some greatness. Mr. Allen presents us with a very unique and intimate portrait of Paris he shows us the roofs, the cafés, the people walking on the rain. All from very singular perspectives. A Paris I never seen on the postcards Images of the City of Lights that makes you feel you are there.
The movie goes on unpretentious as Owen Wilson's character and adorable as Marion Cotillard's Adriana. A delicate masterpiece that I enjoyed for every second and as some great actors played some of my favorite artists in history, I slowly tasted every single little piece of it like a delicacy, hoping it would never end. This one deserves 10 stars.
Carl Jung once said that there's nothing wrong in not believing in God, but when atheism becomes a religion, often its followers are as fanatic and crazy as the worst fundamentalists. He actually explains that this is the reason why Friedrich Nietzsche spent his last days living in an asylum and thinking he was God Himself.
Well, I am a big fan of Bill Maher's show on HBO, but knowing how cocky he is and where he stands on religious issues, I was not surprised with my disappointment regarding his movie.
I am virtually agnostic, I am pro-choice, in favor of gay marriage, I believe that moralism (I am not talking about morality) is a cancer, and that the one of the worst things that ever happened to this country was to have a president who claimed to hear the voice of God.
I agree that there are the likes of ultra-conservative Patrick Robertson; there are ministers who exploit the faith of naive people, pedophile priests who prey on altar boys, hypocrites such as Ted Haggard, the deranged Muslims that threw planes at the Twin Towers and kids that tie C4 tablets around their bellies to explode buses in Tel Aviv. I despise the evangelicals that bombed abortion clinics in the US, the fanatics who think they have a divine right over a piece of land regardless of the wellbeing of who was living there for nearly 2000 years, Jim Jones, The Inquisition, The Crusades and the witch-hunts. It upsets me deeply when religious people try to micromanage someone's sexual life and I hate the fact that they want to control what I can see, hear and read on the media. Yes, and I am quite angry at the LDS Church for interfering on the voting of prop 8 here in California.
However, it's just fair to say that during the course of my life I had the pleasure to meet and talk with priests, rabbis, ministers and all sort of spiritual leaders or followers who were nothing but intelligent, open-minded and well-informed and I simply cannot deny that there're people such as Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, the priests who fought for human rights in Latin America during the cold war, etc, people who lived their lives for others without asking for something in return and often died for it. Really, nobody can convince me that a nun who spend her life locked in a convent praying for humankind or a monk meditating atop a mountain in Tibet are dangerous to our liberties and I wouldn't like to live in a society without freedom of religion.
At its substance, Maher's movie is a lame attempt to show how clever he is and how he can outsmart some humble folk in a small country church, a store owner or an actor playing Jesus on a theme park. The movie is a display of intolerance and arrogance simply aimed at proving that God does not exist and that we should worship Bill instead. It misses the point and a great opportunity to raise some important questions.
Abuse of Stereotypes
Hollywood movies are indeed full of stereotypes and smart educated people will agree that this one abuses that trait. I think people understand that southerners don't make love with their sisters and that Brazilians don't live in the Stone-Age.
The bus at the beginning is indeed insulting. Interstate bus lines in Brazil can be as comfortable as Greyhound; drivers are clean and well groomed. Tourists usually stay in 5 star hotels or in resorts such as Club Med. Crime rates are really high in big cities as it used to be in some areas of Manhattan back in the 1980's but not in small villages (the one in the movie looks like an inner-city slum rather than a countryside town).
Honestly, I don't think Brazilians are outraged because of all the bad guys displayed in this movie. What upsets them is that you have American tourists in a slum, that the interstate bus is crap (and so is the road) and that virtually every single Brazilian (even the kids) is portrayed either as a criminal or as a dirt-bag who drives as a maniac and cleans the interior of his nose with his fingers.
If you decide to visit Brazil, just follow the guidelines given by the Brazilian consulate when you get your visa and you should be out of trouble. I never heard of a single American or European tourist murdered in Brazil and if you find an article about that I would love to see it (millions go there every year. A few are mugged simply because they don't play safe).
A Hollywood slasher will never show a white Brazilian living in a 3 million dollar apartment in an upper-class area of Sao Paulo or in Ipanema beach in Rio, as that doesn't sell tickets. People crave for the bizarre and the exotic. We like to see foreigners shown as monsters, animals or idiots, because we want to maintain our jingoistic superiority complex. That's why you don't see many American movies shot in Belgium, Denmark or Norway.
The underwater scenes have some good suspense and are the best part of this movie. In spite of the stereotypes I think it is better than the average picture in this genre.
Technically good and well cast, but overall disappointing
The direction and editing on the battle scenes is great, the cast is superb, but in my opinion the screenplay and direction are lame.
It seems as the dialog is there just to frame the action and the movie is detached of any emotion. Even the part where the queen consents on being raped by Theron couldn't make me feel a thing. Lena Headey and Domic West try hard, but apparently there was such a hurry to cut back to the battle action that you don't have the chance to have any feelings about it. The scene where the Queen gives a speech to the council, is betrayed by Theron and finally kills him is saved by the good acting. The coins on the floor where a smart idea, but I wonder if that speech was written by Karl Rove.
As expected from a Hollywood movie, this one is extremely dualistic, with Spartans presented as civilized heroes, in contrast to the fanatic, promiscuous and abominable Persians.
Overall, the battle scenes are believable, the military strategies accurate and the figurine and makeup of the Spartans very truthful. Leonidas and his soldiers seem to have jumped directly from an ancient Greek vase.
However, they missed the target on the characterization of the Persians. Rodrigo Santoro is a good actor and does a nice Xerxes, but men from the Persian upper classes wore long crimped wigs and false beards. The Persians clothes and ornaments are also completely inaccurate. I've seen Persian artifacts in museums and I can say that they don't resemble to anything seen on this flick. With so many piercing and chains (not to mention the promiscuity), the Persians look more like revelers from a S&M party.
In addition, Black Persians are something new to me too. The Persian Empire never went beyond Turkey and the Caucasus was in fact in Persia. I didn't expect them to look like Brad Pitt, but I didn't think I would see so many blacks among them either.
Great cinematography and editing! The battle scenes are very well done. The sepia tone of the movie makes the blood look brown and it never spills as it would as a result of a real artery rupture. It looks more like fragments flying through the air and this makes the scenes a little less graphic and more artistic.
Unfortunately, the special effects are inconsistent and although you can't really notice the CGI on the battle scenes, the Rhino and the Elephants are way too big and unrealistic. Who knows perhaps they looked like that in 480 BC.
I don't discriminate hunchbacks, but that orgy was gross and looks like something you would find along with bestiality, child pornography and incest on a website for perverts. It wouldn't have made the final cut, if this movie had a director or a producer.
Was there a composer on this movie?
Overall, 300 is a pretentious action flick. It is technically well done and well acted and I will give it a 5 for that reason.
The Passion of the Christ (2004)
What a lame movie this is! Zeffirelli made the definitive movie about Christ many years ago. This piece of garbage is not worthy of the attention it received.
Gibson made an entire movie about Christ being tortured. It feels more like a horror movie than a biblical one.
I am not a theologian, but I think the movie has some serious inaccuracies:
1- In real life John was a 17 years old when Christ died, not the grown man depicted in the movie. 2- Barrabas was not a insane murderer the movie shows. He was a Zelot (a revolutionary group that wanted to free Judea from Roman rule). He was revolutionary and that's the reason the Jews choose him against Jesus. In fact, Judas Iscariots was also a Zealot and before being Christ's disciple, he was John the Baptist's. It's said that Judas betrayed Chirst because he thought Jesus came to the world to liberate the Jews. 3- Mary Magdalene and the adulterous woman (that Christ saved from being stoned) are not the same person. As far as I know, Mary was never condemned to be stoned.
Lame movie: 3 out of 10.
Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Thanks to Mr. Moore for making this amazing movie!
Now I know why the Right didn't want me to see this movie.
Mr. Moore does an excellent job deconstructing G.W. Bush presidency. He may make his and there, but I only have to think that people that have called Michael Moore a liar haven't seen the movie.
Sadly, the facts are all there indeed and people that don't believe are in denial and do need to deprogram. Anyone that follows the news is aware of the things that are happening since G.W. Bush took office. The movie just adds two plus two.
Excellent movie, better than Columbine. Michael Moore deserves the Palm D'Or, he deserves all the prizes, including the Oscar.
Thanks to Mr. Moore for making this amazing movie!
Van Helsing (2004)
Two hours of garbage! (Spoiller!)
Great visual effects (best I've seen so far), production design, great trailer, etc. Dumb script, poor plot, terrible direction of actors.
Those images of ghosts in the clouds at the end were soooooooooo cheesy! I would have hated this movie a little less without that pathetic display of amateurism. They could have cut at least 30 minutes of garbage from this movie.
The Mummy is not really good, but this movie... Well, it was indeed a little better than the League of Extraordinay Gentleman, but that's not much to say, is it? It starts well, and then it gets worse and worse... finally, you have that pathetic ending.
Cidade de Deus (2002)
I grew up in Rio and the violence on those projects and slums was common place on the news. As a matter of fact, both violence and misery are toned down on the screen. It strikes me much more than Tarrantino's or Scorcese's because I know it is FOR REAL! I remember well during the 80's when drug dealer Bolado from the Rocinha slum was killed: His murderer was burnt alive with the gasoline from his own motorcycle, later they blown his head away with a shotgun to make him stop yelling.
The fact of the matter is that City of God is not a slum, but a project. As the movie explains, those people were transferred there form former slums in Rio during the military dictatorship in the 60's. Their old slums gave place to upper middle class condos and shopping malls. They were transferred there and totally forgotten!
Anyway... what a fantastic movie and what a combination of talent! A superb cinematography and editing, incredible well tied script, great direction and acting.
El crimen del padre Amaro (2002)
Not As Good As The Book
This movie doesn't make justice to the book "O Crime do Padre Amaro", by Portuguese writer Eca de Queiroz.
This story was written in 1871 (not in 1875 as the described on the movie) and the original narrative takes place in a small village in 19th Century Portugal. It described the story of a young priest, who's assigned as the parishioner of the village and gets obsessed with a beautiful young woman. It lost most of its dept when transported to 21st century (a time when pervert priests seducing little boys is commonplace), and its new elements (drug dealers, etc) and new ending didn't add anything to the story.
On another note: Do over-religious girls wear miniskirts in Mexico, or this was just used to accentuate Amelia's sensuality?