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deetya

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17 reviews in total 
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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Gorgeous film., 8 January 2016
9/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this movie on a plane, and even on a small, lo-res screen, I was struck by the beauty; Every scene was like a painting, a living painting of sorts.

It was also slow. No, not slow, static. But then, of course it is, it is more like a painting that happens to be alive rather than a clash-bang kung-fu action-filled Saturday night entertainment.

The film deals with Nie Yinniang, an assassin so deadly, she can kill a man riding on a horse in about one second of screen time. However, she displays a troubling tendency of having compassion, not killing a target because the target is cradling his toddler at the time. Shades of Jason Bourne there. To her boss, the nun-Princess Jiaxin, this is unacceptable. If the son was there, so much the better; first kill the son, then kill the target. Problem solved. Duh! So the nun-Princess sends her to the rebellious province of Weibo. Her task is to kill the ruler of the province, Lord Tian Ji'an. Oh, and he also happens to be her cousin. The nun-Princess reasons that in this way, she will lose her compassion and become the perfect assassin again.

In the dying years of the Tang dynasty, the provinces are slowly shaking off the Imperial Court's influence, and Weibo is the most rebellious of all the rebellious provinces.

At the time, the Imperial Court is testing Weibo, persuading Weibo's neighboring province to allow the Court to set up a couple of military bases to "maintain order." Weibo has a choice of inciting a rebellion/ coup in the neighboring province, with the risk of angering the Court and inviting a military invasion, or to stand still and trust that the rulers in the neighboring province will still be reasonable enough to back away from conflict.

One of the Lord's adviser gave the advice to wait things out. Lord Tian sent the adviser away, together with the Provost, supposedly for the adviser's safety; the last one was buried alive by assassins of the Court.

Yinnian comes into the scene as the long-lost princess who was found by the nun-Princess and returned to her home. She toyed with Lord Tian Ji'an, first battling his guards in front of his son and heir, then easily battling him without killing him.

But she also learns of history, the province's and hers.

Years ago, the Emperor of the Imperial Court sent Princess Jiacheng to "secure" the problem of Weibo, but apparently switched sides and sided with the Lord of Weibo and abandoned the Imperial Court. To further solidify Weibo's position, Princess Jiacheng had planned to marry Nie Yinniang, the daughter of the Provost of the Lord of Weibo, to Tian Ji'an, son of the Lord of Weibo and a concubine.

But when the King of Ming ^_^ wanted an alliance with Weibo, Princess Jiacheng changed her plan and married Tian Ji'an off to the King of Ming's daughter, angering Yinniang enough that she stormed the King of Ming's palace.

There's also a power play with Lord Tian's favorite concubine, Huji being pregnant, and the Lord's wife trying to prevent her giving birth even if it means resorting to a mystical priest with black magic powers.

Finally Yinniang decides to follow her aunt's example and sided with Weibo, battling the Court's assassins and saving her own father. She informs Lord Tian of Huji's pregnancy. He was able to find evidence of his wife's attempt to murder Huji but refrains from killing her (his wife) outright.

Afterwards, Yinniang goes and effectively submits her resignation to her boss, to her boss' obvious displeasure.

The film ends with Yinniang escorting her father and a Japanese mirror polisher to the adviser's new posting.

The film is very still, and understandably, viewers expecting a typical Hollywood or Kungfu clang-slash movie would find this film boring.

But this film is more about the internal journey of the assassin, from an efficient emotionless machine to a more-or-less regular human being. The static framing of the scenes reflect Yinniang's state of being. At first the static scenes reflect her inner emotionless super-assassin. Ass she becomes more human and less machine, the scenes show more action and more movement.

Or something like that ^_^ The director seemed to ask the actors to show their internal emotions just with their eyes, with long scenes of actors just sitting there. HHH even seemed to deliberately avoid regular facial expression. In the one scene where Yinniang broke down and cry, she covers her face so we can't see her expression. Blwurbghuh? HHH apparently expects the audience to at least know the story, with how few expositions and information are divulged in the movie. This, unfortunately, adds to an international audience's confusion with the story line.

HHH also chose to shoot in an almost square, Instagram-ish format. I got the feeling that if possible he would've used a vertical video format, like shooting with an iPhone held upright. All the better to frame the trees and the pillars and the walls in his scenes. Something to signify being caged/ boxed in? Yinniang by her mission, her history, her emotions; Lord Tian by politics, the Court's threat of war; the Lord's wife by the threat to her power from the concubine, etc.?

A beautiful movie, a bit difficult to decipher. But beautiful nonetheless.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A good movie with tainted roots., 20 May 2014
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am a fan of Depp and Verbinski, and their films have been very enjoyable, to say the least.

However, I'm unable to enjoy this one fully. The story was good, the special effects decent, Depp's performance sterling as usual. But there was a feeling like a fly in the ointment, a pebble in the shoe, a pea under the mattress, a bug in the chili.

I realized it's the casting a Depp, a Caucasian, in the role of the Native American.

Imagine if Laurence Fishburne donned whiteface when playing Perry White in "Man of Steel." He would talk the stereotypical way a white man talks (at least according to him). When he talks, he would move his body a certain way, point his fingers as certain way, in a way that he says white people move. He walks or shuffles a certain way, and he says that's how white people walks.

Or what if Tyler Perry applied white make up and played Thor. And he would speak the way Chris Hemsworth did, and imitated how Hemsworth moved, as he talked and fought and kissed Natalie Portman.

That's what's wrong with this movie. It's the poison at the root of the tree, so to speak. That's the little thing that made the movie stumbled, the little thing that irritated the audience and prevented them from fully enjoying this movie. Are the filmmakers saying that non-Caucasian actors are so stupid and incompetent that they have to be subbed by a White actor? Because that's what the filmmaker are (maybe inadvertently) saying.

The work-around is actually very simple. instead of a White actor playing a Native American, have the character Tonto be a John Dunbar-(Dances with Wolves) type character. In the past, he met, saved, and trusted two runaway soldiers who seemed to willing to go native too. Unfortunately they returned his trust by killing off Tonto's tribe, thus setting off his quest for revenge.

By having the character be a reformed white person, it offsets the racism inherent in Depp's casting.

I'm not a scriptwriter, a filmmaker, or even in the film industry. And I could think of a work-around while the filmmakers couldn't? Then the filmmakers were either very stupid or very full of White-privilege.

Another problem is that John Reid was an idiot. He was a rigid, dogmatic, bumbling, stumbling idiot. His outright refusal of a gun, without stopping to consider the region and situation, was what helped Butch Cavendish to escape, who in turn killed John Reid's brother. His returning Red's pussycat enabled the mob to catch up to him. During the shootout at the barn, he was useless, even though he had a pistol and Tonto only had a knife.

Yet the film is so very fawning of Reid. He was appointed to be the hero by the Powers That Be of the Hereafter, who sent the white horse specifically for him. Tonto tried to steer the white horse to his capable brother, yet the white horse insisted. Reid hits Tonto with a shovel to stop him from shooting a fellow White man, even if that White man is an evil one. Speaking of hitting with a shovel, Reid hits Tonto with a shovel, yet Tonto still comes back to save him. Why would a Native American character always help a Caucasian character, even when that Caucasian character commits violence against the Native American one? The film could've gone the standard way. After the valley ambush, Tonto was surprised by Reid suddenly coming to, and knocked him out with a rock. The filmmakers could've continued and have Reid be the sole survivor of the ambush who decided to avenge his brother. But then they brought in the white horse which specifically chose Reid to be "resurrected"? Why? To show how special he is? And why is he so special? Because he has no tan to his skin? Reid could have been written as having capabilities similar to his brother, only he chooses to concentrate on law. Instead, in the film he's just a bumbling doofus who got to be a hero due to divine intervention. A special guy, especially appointed by a Higher Power, to be the hero. Not Tonto, who had knowledge and abilities of his own, but this paleface bumbler doofus Americanus Idioticus.

A case of the filmmaker's white privilege spilling over onto the screen? Or perhaps is it a matter of Armie Hammer being a bad actor. The Wikipedia page said Reid is supposed to be a "young Jimmy Steward character." Jimmy Stewart's character(s) had earnestness, Reid was stiff, inflexible, dogmatic. Jimmy Stewart's characters was shucks, golly-gee, Reid was idiotic. Stewart's character(s) had dignity. Reid had none.

Native Americans in the movie also got a lousy deal in this movie. Their role, in the film, is nothing else but to be the victims of slaughter. Tonto's tribe? Slaughtered. Tonto's other tribe? Slaughtered too.

The filmmakers could've ameliorated the destiny of the Native Americans. For example, instead of having the Charge of the Lightly-Armed Indians be a desperate, no-options-left, futile gesture, it could've been a tactical diversion to draw the Cavalry away from the rest of the tribe, to enable the women, children and rear-guard warriors to slip away to safety. Of course, at the end, as the silver crushes Cavendish, the surviving members of the tribe could be shown enjoying Tonto's revenge.

Like I said, I've always enjoyed Depp and Verbinski's works. However, in this case, it may be that their overblown sense of privilege poisoned this movie from the get-go.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Could've been a great movie, but ends up a regular propaganda movie, 6 February 2014
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I like war movies. One of my favorite is "A Bridge Too Far." This movie was intense, well shot, well directed. It could've been somebody! :-) However, like most films "based on real events" it descended into fantasy-land rather than staying close to reality.

The first half of the movie was great. It steadily build tension as we saw the Somali victims, the 'evil' gunmen depriving the refugees of their food, the operation to capture Aidid, up to the battle itself.

Unfortunately, that's when the film became a fairy tale.

The part of film where the Delta team single-handedly took out a technical, garotted people etc, were total fantasy.

The movie without that fairy-tale scene, would actually be more intense, more harrowing, more truthful, and more realistic.

There were also other demeaning touches, like implying that the Pakistani Army was so lazy/ incompetent/ whatever, that it took them so long to prepare their vehicles. Well, duh, they probably were not advised of the operation by the Americans, so of course they were unprepared. And would you let soldiers from another country just borrow your armored vehicles? Puh-leeze.

The filmmakers should've had more confidence in the American people and tell as much of the truth as possible, without needing to embellish the truth with fairy tales and such.

Upside Down (2012/I)
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful setting, lackluster story, 7 November 2013
4/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Somebody, probably Mr. Solanas, thought up of a unique world. Afterwards, he thought up a story that can take place in that world. Unfortunately, the story is simply not good enough in comparison with the setting.

A major misstep, IMHO, is the the amnesia plot. What if, instead of amnesia, the young lovers simply lost touch with each other, encouraged to do so by their respective governments. Then he sees her on TV, and love rekindles in his heart. He meets her, and love is re-sparked in her heart too. The rest of the movie is then the two lovers' attempts to be together.

Sort of "Romeo and Juliet in a topsy-turvy world."

Imagine is she is in group therapy not because of her amnesia, but because she dared to communicate with a down-worlder. That would've shown how terrible the world is, much better then a report of people being hanged.

Great setting. Bad, bad, story.

1 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Castle's father is a coward, 27 September 2013
1/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After watching this episode some months past, the thought just came to me a couple of week ago: Castle's father, Jackson, is actually a coward. Yeah, I'm a quick thinker. LOL

Continuing from the last episode where we are shown that torture is justified as long as the "Good Guys" do it, we get introduced to Jackson who happens to be an "intel asset." Turns out the cause of all this grief is a personal war between Jackson and a Soviet agent, Volkov. Apparently Jackson killed Volkov's family during one of his operations. Slightly miffed that his family became collateral damage, Volkov chased after Jackson. Jackson went 'underground' so to speak. So Volkov kidnapped Alexis to lure her grandfather out in the open. Of course, Castle's father is both more deadly and more cunning and able to kill Volkov and rescue Alexis & Castle.

The thing is, Jackson could've avoided all this kidnapping and bloodshed just by facing Volkov, man to man. If he had done that, then either one of them or both get killed, but at least the issue is settled. Volkov would have had his revenge or joined his family, but the vendetta is done. No more problems.

If Jackson had the bravery and decency to face Volkov and take responsibility for his actions (killing civilians; i.e. Volkov's family) then Alexis wouldn't have to be kidnapped. But he didn't. He went into hiding such that Volkov had to lure him out using his granddaughter.

Another sign of his cowardice is his insistence in avoiding Volkov even up to the end. Instead of facing Volkov, he sent Castle in his stead. Instead of fighting him mano-a-mano, he dispatched Volkov using a bomb. Wow, what a brave guy… not.

He's supposed to be such a bad-ass that he can take down multiple gunmen without them being able to mount any effective retaliation. So why can't he just face down Volkov, deal with him face to face, so Alexis doesn't even have to get kidnapped.

What a wuss.

Yeah, I know, it's the script. but then writers really made him into such a coward. They probably didn't think things through. As it is now, Whatta Wuss

"Defiance" (2013)
48 out of 87 people found the following review useful:
Plot: fell down the cliché tree and hit every branch ^_^, 19 April 2013
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

O'Bannon et al. created a rich, lush world for the backstory of the series, then populated it with 2-dimensional clichéd characters. The rugged loner with the spunky sidekick, the noble mayor who's constantly underestimated, the creepy rich industrialist, the acerbic doctor, etc.,

The plot also raced away from the promise of innovative plot line to embrace the true and tired: defending the city, loner "falling" for the city and deciding to stay, and of course, a truly eeeeevil villains that bonds the characters together.

Puh-leeze.

I hope they can snatch victory from the jaws of boredom and do some good stuff with this. It would be a pity if they went through all the effort of creating the imaginative environment of the series, only to have it stumble due to dreadful unimaginative writing.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
It's not a film about politics, but a regular thriller, 21 November 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It started out as a film about the process of campaigning in America. But in the last minutes it turns into a regular thriller, with a disgruntled character blackmailing the powerful person.

I guess the message is supposed to be that the process is so corrupting that a clean-cut, square-jawed, idealistic person could turn into a troll. However, the way the movie played it out, it was simply a disgruntled employee blackmailing his former employer. That's it!

The idealistic person got tricked by his opponent, which caused him to get fired. In retaliation, he blackmailed his former employer using information he inadvertently received to get the top job.

That's it!

The only politics in the movie is there just to provide flavoring.

It's not a "politics" movie, it's just a regular thriller.

1 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Bad, mad (Black) scientist & good heroic soldier, 29 September 2012
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

So how come the bad guy is actually the civilian, Black scientist? And the heroic person, the one who doesn't follow orders, is a military person.

Jake Gyllenhaal is great, and soulful ^_^. Michelle Monaghan is very cute. It makes sense that the audience/ studio/ whoever demanded that the characters get their happy ending.

Jeffrey Wright was wonderful as the contemptible scientist (was this movie funded by Republicans? All the good guys are military, while the lone scientist is the real bad guy of the movie.) He had all this wonderful little acts that shows the audience just what a contemptible person his character is. The premise of this whole movie is a breakthrough in science, so why make the scientist the bad guy?

Good movie, except for the anti science angle thing.

It's a film about a white man "discovering" himself, 3 September 2012
6/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Walter Whitney, a White executive, got the news that he has a Black son. Being at heart a good person, he decided to adopt him. His wife and father-in-law said no, and fired him, took away his rolls, his credit cards, and even black-listed him so he can't get any job.

The film is the story of his development from a person desperate to fit into White society, to a "free" person. He was so desperate to fit in that he changed his last name to conceal the fact that he was Jewish. Although he was in love with his Black son's mother, he dropped her like a bad habit so he could fit into the top society. As he endured travails and adventures with his son, his innate goodness slowly resurfaced.

George Segal is a great underrated actor, the more so here as he managed to walk that tightrope between funny and insulting in this movie, where no stereotype is left exploited.

In his first major movie role, there's a glimmer of stardom already peeping through Denzel Washington's performance. Susan St. James and Jack Warden did the best with what little they were given.

Perhaps it's just a sign of the movie's time, or perhaps the filmmaker wanted to accentuate the issue of racism, the White characters are so easy and so generous in their racism. From Walter himself; immediately assuming that his Black son would be a great basketball player; to his wife, father-in-law, to his minister, even.

Of course, we get a saccharin-y happy ending.

A good movie to see on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What a depressing movie, 24 August 2012
3/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me get this straight; Dyle was betrayed by Charlie, wounded and left for death; in the process of trying to get his gold back, he accidentally caused the deaths of his loyal compatriots; he's still conscientious enough to surrender his gun, then got poisoned by Charlie's mothers.

He's the only guy with pure motive in the movie! And he got treated so, so, badly by the filmmakers.

How depressing.

Of course, the two stars, Wahlberg and Newton, got all the juicy lines. It is unfortunate that they inevitably get compared to Grant and Hepburn, because Grant and Hepburn's performances are simply heavenly. According to IMDb, Jonathan Demme wanted to get Will Smith. Smith, perhaps, could've sold the part better than Wahlberg. Wahlberg is a good actor, but in this movie he came across more as a thug than a suave, debonair, gentleman- operative.

Tim Robbins, IMHO, is the guy who should be getting all the acting accolades here. His former henchmen, Joong-Hoon Park, LisaGay Hamilton, and Ted Levine, seemed to be enjoying themselves in their role. But Tim Robbins gave a wonderful performance. Of course, that maybe because I think his character was treated shabbily. Or perhaps it's because Robbins gave such a sympathetic performance as Dyle. His character deserves better.


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