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4/10
Over-hyped
11 July 2012
Another over-hyped film that started off alright, but simply left me feeling bored, and I dig martial arts and action films. I think in 1 hour and 40 minutes of total runtime there was about 15 minutes of dialogue. While this may be an action fan's dream film, it gets old and boring pretty fast. Even the entire dialogue itself is so boring and unexciting that they may as well have made it an all out action and not even bother with telling a story that in the end didn't even make sense. All the time it's basically, rinse and repeat. There were some cool set ups (liked especially when the kids pass on the "police" message) and some decent choreography but all of it really is ruined by constant shaky cam. Yeah, I get it, you're trying to evoke a feeling of confusion and transcend the feeling of action but holy crap. All you saying it is better than what Dredd looks like. Pfft. Dredd looks better and more interesting than this entire film was.
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9/10
Solid
9 April 2012
I won't get into the politics the previous reviewer brought up about Cameron, since one man's opinions and ideas and thoughts are their own - though you can't deny that Cameron does have a point towards the last conclusion. Instead I'll just quickly talk about my impressions of the documentary. It is very well put together. You have, first and foremost a panel of various professionals and researchers and throughout it there are interviews with them which provide a more emotional side to the documentary aside from the analytical talk with the scenes of the "roundtable" of researchers. Cameron provides various animations from beginning to the end based on factual data they've all come up with throughout the years and it's really fascinating to watch all of it. I especially loved the bits when Cameron's pre-vis artist demonstrated an animation of real-time sinking of the ship post break-up. Quite a sight. You have various other animations based on data that was eye-opening as well. You also have bits and pieces where Cameron and the team discuss the new information and relate it to his film - what he got right and what he got wrong. The overall production quality is solid, even down to the set they're in, very good music plays throughout it as well, sort of above standard type of pieces you'd normally see in these made for TV documentaries. Filled with more emotion that fits the interviews or the scenes. If you're an avid Titanic fan like me, who's been fascinated with the ship and its fate since 10 years old - you are no doubt going to enjoy it. That isn't to say people who don't know much or don't care wouldn't - it would actually be more informative for them. However all in all, it's a solid piece regardless. Well put together.
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Pusher (1996)
9/10
A film with true grit
25 March 2012
So in essence, this is a film with true grit. Possibly the grittiest I've seen, literally. Come to think of it, it reminds me of Harlan County, USA documentary, it's dirty, grungy, and perfect for a film with a subject matter this film possesses. Truly, it's as if Nicolas Wending Refn assembled a small crew and started following a real pusher, who gave you an inside look into a week of his life, took you to the seedy, dirty, nasty, harsh (and whatever other synonyms you can throw its way) underworld of the street life so everyone could get an idea of what's it all about and why you probably shouldn't ever get involved. Certainly not a new concept an average man now understands, but it's the way it's all presented that really made me love this film. As I mentioned earlier, the documentary feel of this makes me think Refn had it in his mind when he set out to make this film. The vibe and mood of the film is top notch for the film of this caliber, but really it's the character of Frankie who was fleshed out the most and in the end made me really dig the guy despite essentially who he was, and his profession - though he makes a point later in the film which gives food for thought. What makes it memorable for me is that it isn't devoid of depth, and you get a quick look - which was enough - into each character's life by ways of genuine conversations they're having between each other, which felt like they were ad-libbed, but that's what made it genuine for me.
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9/10
Immensely haunting
5 February 2012
Finally, I have seen it. I've been dying to see this since the moment I first heard about it last year during Cannes film festival. This film left me in a stupor at the end. I think I was bound to love this film. It is unlike anything I've seen before. The subject matter of nature vs. nurture is something I've always been interested in and Lynne Ramsey dissects it in such a sublime way. The entire structure of the film and how it shifts between the past and present is done with beautiful precision, leaving little room for laggy scenes that drag on for too long. It is almost as if the shifts are fragments of Eva's memories as she walks through her present life trying to piece together just what went wrong. I was glued to the screen the entire time, never has the flow felt like an issue for me. If anything, I felt that John C. Reilly was miscast, but that is where my minor quibbles start and end. It is immensely thought provoking which is why I just sat there when the credits started to roll. It hit me hard, and mostly I have to attribute it to Ramsey's solid direction of the subject matter and Tilda Swanton's complete immersion into a deeply wrecked and troubled mother, in both the present and past sections of the film. Ezra Miller has also done an outstanding job, especially during the very last scene when his simple physical acting, and visually dark tone worked harmoniously in what I think isn't any less effective than Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter in any of the scenes from Silence of the Lambs. This film is truly haunting, cold, and massively effective. It definitely left a mark
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9/10
philosophy and quarter-life crisis
2 January 2012
I've always thought that a lot of films that were made in the Soviet Union got overshadowed by Eisenstein and Tarkovsky, not to mention by European films from France, Italy, by Bergman, by Kurosawa and many others from Japan. I feel sad when I think about that, because there are so many great films that were made there that the general film loving public did not and does not get to see. The only two films that may have broken out of this "embargo", so to speak were The Cranes are Flying and Ballad of a Soldier. Criterion has been doing some good deed and releasing a few of such great films I speak of in the Eclipse Series and I only hope they keep releasing them because there are just too many to list that others must see.

I Am Twenty is one of those films. It was made during the de-Stalinization period, otherwise known as the Krushchev thaw where people had a short period of freedom of speech, which Hutsiev, the film's director utilized in making of this film, where the story centers on three friends in their 20's going through a sort of a quarter-life crisis in the Soviet Union, worrying about such things as where to live, means of getting money, and exactly what to do with their lives - which at the time was unheard of - one of the reasons for which Krushchev condemned this film during the end of the thaw (when it was being released) and most certainly which contributed to this film's censorship.

This undoubtedly is the kind of film that speaks the universal language, which I hope would be an intriguing watch for people who can track this film down and watch it (there are English subtitles for it, I checked)

Shot beautifully, flows poetically, and definitely leaves a mark.

I loved it [07-22-2011, 08:23 PM]
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9/10
visual poetry
2 January 2012
The most anticipated film of mine for this year. Undoubtedly gorgeous, hypnotic, and surreal, no question about it. Personally, I delved deep into this film as I have with The Thin Red Line and The New World. Malick, to me, is the type of a filmmaker that knows exactly how to appeal to a certain type of crowd. It is probably no surprise that he divides the audiences in such a radical manner. People either love him, or hate him, with what I believe to be little chance of a middle ground, although I do not dismiss its' existence. I find that Malick makes films for a certain type of personality, the kind that he himself possesses. Quiet, meditative, observant, highly sentimental. And he knows, knows how to get all the right emotions out of people who watch his films. Like a master psychologist, he pushes all the right buttons with the way he blends imagery with sound, and music.

I personally do not feel the need to dissect or even talk about this film, as it is completely useless. Those who have seen the trailer, or know his past work need not to read others' thoughts on his films in order to go see them. If one feels repulsed or feels Malick is pretentious, you already know what to do. Just not watch it.

[06-23-2011, 11:58 AM]
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The Twilight Zone: Eye of the Beholder (1960)
Season 2, Episode 6
10/10
Twilight Zone at its finest
1 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Since first time seeing it, in the summer of 2010, I have re-watched this episode no less than 5 times. I have just watched it again, courtesy of SyFy's Twilight Zone marathon, and it absolutely never fails to give me goosebumps at the back of my neck when that climax ensues. Besides the shocking climax you cannot deny its moral lesson. This would especially be useful in our modern day when due to media, we've become over-saturated with images of utmost perfection and a sort of intolerance for the smallest of 'blemishes'. But it goes further than that, in retrospect it is about the self-image we possess and how truly amazing our brain is at becoming brainwashed. When you see or hear something for the longest time you begin believing it. It is important to notice this early and realize what is true and what isn't - to not buy into what people tell you, and think for yourself.
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The Twilight Zone: Where Is Everybody? (1959)
Season 1, Episode 1
10/10
The most relevant lesson to our time
7 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Since beginning the Twilight Zone back in May, I've watched the pilot episode "Where is Everybody?" total of three times. While I could have been +3 episodes more into the series, I just keep coming back to this one. Putting aside the somewhat campy 50's acting - this episode, especially the latter half of it is some of the most invigorating piece of content I have yet seen on the topic it deals with and the psychological breakdown of man. I just can't help but feel an overbearing sense of emotion towards the very end of the episode when the soldier just loses it.

It is absolutely amazing to me the subject of the mind. The theme of the BASIC NEED for human companionship is extremely well represented here. Serling was a master "psychologist" if you will, in that he understood the human condition very well - at least this is the evidence I got out of the majority of the episodes he has written. If you think about this episode on a grand scale, you'll notice just how many of us can GET and DO get depressed because of the lack of human interaction. We are social animals in our nature, and that "basic human need" of companionship is of vital importance.

I think that this was Serling's hour. This is one of the best, hard hitting, and most importantly; most relevant "moral lessons" that came out of the Twilight Zone.
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The Twilight Zone: The Howling Man (1960)
Season 2, Episode 5
10/10
A moral about human's weakness
13 July 2010
This was an episode I saw on TV a few years ago and the one that I remembered the most due to the very memorable ending. As I started watching The Twilight Zone from the first season just about a month ago, I kept wondering which one of the next episodes I'm going to watch is going to be "The Howling Man" as I did not know the title of it when I first saw it. Well I just finished watching it in its' entirety and was compelled to write at least some of my impressions while they remain fresh.

This is without a doubt one of the best of the Twilight Zone. I can say this without having seen them all, although I will eventually as I am on my quest. However, it does not take one to see the entire series run to see which episode reeks of quality. It has just about everything that made classic black and white horror/science fiction cinema great.

The music, the classic cinematography, mystery, all enveloped in trademark horror atmosphere.

One of the best things I've always loved about The Twilight Zone, and in fact what piqued my interested in the series; is that they always have something to say about society, or man in general. This episode touches upon a few various character traits, but the most obvious one is left for the finale. One which I will not reveal for the sake of not spoiling the experience.

A memorable entry, one that I'm sure will be appreciated by newer viewers.
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8/10
True depictions
13 July 2008
A neat little long-short film (45mins) by Lasse Hallstrom is an experiment first and foremost by the filmmaker working with actors, who, improvised. Secondly, this is a fascinating and quite entertaining film about picking up girls at bars and what comes of it. Some work, some don't. This is done through three friends who each succeed in meeting a girl who agrees to "go to a place" what ensues is a very true (if of course you've experienced it yourself) depiction of what might happen; philosophy talk while your partner is bored to tears and wants to just "get it on", complete strangers "clicking" just right, and silence, shyness and uneasiness. Very entertaining. You can find this on the criterion release of Hallstrom's My Life as a Dog.
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7/10
Funny spoof of every war film ever made
12 July 2008
Saw this at the Washington, DC screening on the 10th.

And Got Some I did. A comedy that is not Apatow's is refreshing nowadays. A relentless hard R comedy that fuses elements of practically every famous war film ever made. Beginning with trailers a la Grindhouse for every major character was already a sign of a hilarious film. While most of the humor was "funny-but-i'm-not-laughing" the same amount of laugh out loud humor and gags was provided as well, courtesy of mostly Stiller and Downey Jr. Who I wholeheartedly feel - stole the show. I can't say I've ever seen any character like his in a film of this genre, which already I feel will enter the classics. What's refreshing about Thunder is that it's actually original in certain aspects of the storyline; such as when they decide to shoot the film guerilla style in the jungle only to have the director of the film....- I'll leave this at that. A spoof of war films that isn't tireless or idiotic like the recent Epic/Date films... which do not even deserve to be called "spoofs". And be prepared for Cruise, who plays the most radical role of his entire career.
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9/10
Visually appealing
9 July 2008
A modern take (but I hear unfaithful) on Charles Dickens' novel of the same name is a film that held me until the end. Through its breathtakingly beautiful cinematography and the constant, almost poetic use of green in practically every scene; I was glued. There's no denying the appearance of the film is of sheer, carefully mastered artistry by the respectfully talented cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Alfonso Cuaron gets the props for creating a dream-like environment in the earlier moments of the film which I thought were the most potent and my favorite, whereas the latter half dealt with adulthood it was understandable for the environment to change as well yet maintaining the same touch in a different manner. Cuaron's directing especially got to me when he demonstrated the lives of the higher class snobs and Hawke's character who served as a polar opposite. Cuaron also does this with the color of green and other opposite colors throughout the film. Beyond the fascades, there is a thematic and touching film, if you can connect to it on a personal level. It's not just a film about love, it's also a film about the loss of innocence and values, a celebration of youth and memories.
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8/10
Surprising
8 July 2008
Color me very surprised! McG is indeed a capable director. This film lifted off a load off my shoulders concerning the horribly titled upcoming Terminator Salvation but that's small stuff. We've seen this story a dozen times before, while it is of course a true story, the subject matter does have its' "sports movie" clichés. That aside however, because the direction, acting, and cinematography combined pack an emotive punch resulting in a very well made drama ala Friday Night Lights, which I think is a bit better myself. I felt McG really demonstrated his potential in this film as a serious director and not a style over substance he seemed to be with Charlie's Angels films. Aside from a relatively strong story he did bring in the visuals, which added a nice look making the film style WITH substance.
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Heat (1995)
10/10
A crime masterpiece
5 July 2008
This film will never cease to keeping me, or anyone else who loves well written, character-driven, and all around effective films - so involved and astonished. Michael Mann creates (actually, it's really all there already) a whole world through his attentive eye to details, distinctive characters, and just astonishing cinematography. He knows the meaning of balance, and knows just when to show certain characters in order to move everything to a certain point. Never throughout the film I felt something lagged. Each scene is brought in, and is dealt with in a way that always moves the story forward. That's perfect film-making. A definite masterpiece of the crime genre, and it's no wonder why Nolan is tipping his hat to this grandiose piece of work in The Dark Knight.
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Batman: Gotham Knight (2008 Video)
9/10
A Viewing Imperative
1 July 2008
Before I get on expressing myself I want to say that seeing Batman: Gotham Knight is simply an imperative. A simple fact that it bridges the gap that occurs between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight alone is why this needs to be viewed as a prelude to The Dark Knight, but it isn't wholly the reason why this must be viewed. Yes, the concept itself is taken from Animatrix which served the same purpose, but that also isn't the sole reason. It's because this is easily a fine piece of work on all grounds. I have never been a fan of anime, but that's merely due to me not being genuinely interested in the medium. What a fine example of execution this truly is. Consisting of six vignettes written by six different writers, such as David S. Goyer and Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and directed by different talents in different styles this has exactly the balance that is required to be fully entertained, mentally stimulated, and visually inspired. I cannot add anything more to it that could not be summarized in those exact three adjectives. This one's a keeper, and should not go amiss.
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Superman/Doomsday (2007 Video)
4/10
flat
1 July 2008
When the word concerns comic book heroes - I'm a Batmaniac, though I dig anyone. Watching the old Batman Animated Series was exciting just as it was watching Spiderman, X-Men and Superman. They all tend to work very well in their 25 minute time span. Mask of the Phantasm was the only Batman animated film that I saw, and care to remember and what worked about it was a compelling storyline and strong writing - for a cartoon. You could literally take that script and make a live feature film. It was that good. This, on the other hand, isn't. Taking a real comic book story and adapting it into a feature length film of any medium should be taken seriously. This didn't feel serious. The magic the Animated Series had is completely lost here. You can argue that it was made for kids, but I ask you, did the adults themselves not watch the series in the 90's? There should be a balance, just as there was with Mask of the Phantasm. A compelling story, execution, writing. This felt worse than any of the 25 minute episodes.
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10/10
Mind-bogglingly beautiful
27 June 2008
This film has honestly left me speechless. Just the fact that it is a one-take 90 minute steadicam shot alone is mind-boggling, but the grandiosity and imagery of it is utterly, and simply beautiful. There's no knowing if the film's content and story will speak to all, but it most certainly did to me. Simply put, this is Sokurov's love letter to Russia. And how he achieves it is just so unique. You now do not become the viewer, you're an involver. I have to tell you, when the little girls started running down the hall, I couldn't take it and had to shed tears. The way Sokurov fuses this calm, and mellow classical music with imagery reaches deep down to your soul and shows you that you're still alive. Ebert narrowed it down extremely well, "Russian Ark spins a daydream made of centuries."
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High and Low (1963)
9/10
Rich with depth
27 June 2008
As usual with Kurosawa, strong acting, tight direction, stylized visuals, and lots and lots of depth for the viewer to absorb from every single aspect.

The ending scene is quite possibly one best one-on-one conversations ever written and directed. As if throughout the film Kurosawa hasn't delved deep into the human condition with Gondo's character (Mifune) and his moral dilemma, here he goes much, much deeper. A pivotal scene that serves as the focal point of the film, and its' title.

The film's beautiful imagery and deep, thought-provoking material is what drives this film forward.
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7/10
Entertaining, but lacks the depth of the first.
20 June 2008
I think this version gets it easier than Ang Lee's Hulk because most already saw the origin story in Lee's attempt and see Leterrier's as a continuation of the series. There's slightest attempt here at an explanation or background, just small flashes and fragments in the opening credit sequence. And to my understanding this was just a "re-imagining" ? so where's all that? Seems like they're exploiting Lee's HULK in that department. All that aside, this version does provide what the original was lacking; the showdown between two big monsters. And we are supplied with a lot more action than in the first, if my memory serves me right. Pace is clearly faster, because they don't have to worry about building up any kind of background story (Hey, I can't just let it go if this is being labeled as a "re-imagining") so the emphasis is on other things.

I think this version has what the first lacked, but it lacks what the first had. You could probably combine the two films in a great manner which would result in the ultimate Hulk film. I smell a fan-edit.
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The Happening (2008)
6/10
Unintentional
14 June 2008
James Newton Howard's score is the best thing about this film. That isn't to say this film totally blows as the majority seems to say. No, this isn't worse than 10,000 B.C. it's tightly directed, and Shyamalan keeps the pace quick and snappy. The progression of events is fast, we get treated to bits of information every so often, music is brooding and fitting for this type of film. So what's wrong? Unintentional or intentional "comedy", I can't tell which for sure, but the fact that the stupidity outweighs 'intentional' and Mark Wahlberg pulling Nic Cage in "The Wicker Man" tells me this film suffers from bad writing and bad acting, making my conclusion to be - unintentional.

Wahlberg is a capable actor, but he's a parody here and he isn't alone. Maybe this is Shyamalan's fault, allowing this from his actors, or his overall direction of actors.

The "shocking" moments, are not all that shocking either. However, Shyamalan's utilization of the landscape is effective, and in my mind the 'greatest' suspense occurred during the very end of the film, which felt less comical and more hard-hitting.

All comedy aside, thinking back on this film, there is certainly a deeper layer that underlies the film. The closest comparison I could think of is The Mist.
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Wake of Death (2004)
7/10
slightly above average
9 June 2008
Slightly above average from the recent of Van Damme's films. Well shot and at times even well acted by the man himself, who seemed to draw some inspiration from Denzel in Man on Fire during a tragic scene. Yeah, Van Damme's still got it folks. On a grittiness level there's a Running Scared inspired scene with shotguns and ski masks, and a Hostel/Scorsese crossover of a scene with French mobsters. Seriously this film is unintentionally funny during many of the serious moments. It suffers from a few stupid directorial choices that involve action which could have easily been avoided or perfected. A bit darker than the usual Van Damme release as well.

"Do you know what we do with pieces of sh*t like you in Marseille?" Hard to take the French mob seriously especially when you think of a city like Marseille
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Two Evil Eyes (1990)
7/10
not a bad two hours to kill
9 June 2008
Romero's half is actually not bad. Seems to work with the expertise of his genre and Poe's story. Builds the suspense gradually and has a creepy tone to it. And then Tom Atkins shows up as a detective, puffin' a cigar while holding a gun. That's worth a watch alone.

7/10

Argento's half ain't bad either. Nudity and visual trademarks are present. Thought Keitel's character wearing a beret alone was dumb, but at least that was something to laugh at. It had an unnecessary scene involving medieval times which added nothing. The third act turned into a parody of some kind, not to mention the kid that comes in for a session with the trimmed sleeves "he's lying, lying!" Retarded ending, but funny.

6/10
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Vantage Point (2008)
4/10
Original idea, poor execution.
31 May 2008
Original idea, with a blend of Groundhog Day..but an absolute zero for brains. Full of cliché characters and easily predictable. No, I'm not saying this because I "guessed" as each new "vantage point" played itself out, I'm talking by second vantage point it's pretty much an easy guess at who's in on it. Good idea, but would have worked much better had there been some deep development both in the storyline and in a few of the "vantage point" characters. This is disappointing. It's the kind of film that you would get tired of no matter how "fast paced" it is. Indeed, there's virtually zero scenes that slow it down, but nor is there anything of great substance that gives it real depth.
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10/10
Touching and deep.
31 May 2008
This is Nicholson's utmost finest performance, period. So many emotions have been aroused in me during the viewing of this film. It is an achievement that stands the test of time. It's not a secret why Milos Forman is highly regarded as true craftsman. He sets a perfect balance of comedy and drama. It can be uplifting in one moment, then turn downright depressing the next. There's nothing I could add but echo what's been said before. I think this film should not be missed. It took me a second rewatch a few years later to realize the importance of this film. Essentially, this is a film about freedom. Spiritual and physicial and how absolutely necessary it is for humans to "break free" from the chains that hold us down. The institution is a perfect metaphor for these chains.
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9/10
A refreshing thriller
28 May 2008
An unpredictable thriller which I can't believe I've never seen or heard of until recently. Very refreshing, builds up the tension gradually becoming more engaging within each new scene. I could never guess where this film was going. Bridges and Robbins own their roles, and Bridges is by far the strongest. I had a problem with Hope Davis - her character is either mentally retarded, or very very stupid. Maybe both. Direction and writing are tight, working harmoniously to serve us the goods - and we do get them, specifically in the last act. I would go as far as adding the "twist" to the greatest lists, which include Se7en in that slot.
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