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Jez Jerzy (2011)
Exceptional animation, poor plot.
Cartoons for adults have never been big in Poland and I doubt they ever will, as long as people understand "adult" as boobs and swear words only.
Jez Jerzy offers cartoon boobs, cartoon violence and toilet jokes. The style of animation corresponds to the original comic books in which the character appeared and it is absolutely unique, you don't see much of similar stuff in animated pictures at all.
The movie makes an attempt at a social satire. The characters come from the margins and from the public life. We learn a little about how media create heroes, villains, stars and politicians. And that skinheads are in fact very insecure boys. And that an old hooker can have a kind heart. But that's about it.
I believe the weakest point of the movie is the plot or the apparent lack of it. At the beginning we learn that a talking hedgehog has an affair with a married woman and he's apparently good at using a skateboard for self-defense. No more than that as long as you haven't read the comic books or interviews with the voice actors. For one reason or another a crazy scientist wants to use the hedgehog's DNA to create a clone. The entire movie is devoted to various characters intending to catch/hurt/kill/eat/have sex with Jez Jerzy and/or his "evil" clone (in fact both are rude and out of control).
It is a funny visual experience, a colorful caricature of the city (Warsaw). However, if you are looking for a sophisticated film experience with an interesting plot and multi-layered meanings, then it's not the right movie for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for cartoon boobs and farts, it is the right movie.
Die weisse Massai (2005)
A great lesson about relationships
Most viewers see this story as an inter-cultural and inter-racial issue and point out what characters could have done instead of what they did. But I saw that this movie tells a lot about relationships in general and you certainly don't have to like the characters to enjoy the story.
Carola is annoying in her expectation that everything is always going to be the way she wants it. Also the title "White Massai" is misleading, since this woman does close to nothing to become a part of the Massai community. Even travel journalists sometimes put clay in their hair or sit down with the village women, but Carola was to busy creating her own world there.
Lemaian is not only a Samburu warrior, first of all he is a huge male ego walking on two legs. With Carola's stubbornness and impractical ambitions the clash of civilizations was largely the clash of opposite sex and the clash of two egos.
As we observe the development of their relationship we are reminded of some important aspects of sex, such as foreplay, female orgasm and cuddling after, to which some men in many cultures may not pay enough attention. Also, thanks to affection in the relationship Lemaian shows that he can be a caring and clever man, it is a beautiful lesson to be learned. Sadly, there are also certain contradictions in this character, he is a respected warrior and goes to town more often than others, yet he seems very naive and weak when confronting men from his family tribe. It is really annoying.
But as I said, you don't have to like nor understand the characters to enjoy the movie. It is really well shot and the landscapes are stunning. Still it doesn't reveal that much about Africa as it does about abusive men and compulsive women. They failed not only because of the cultural gap, but mainly because of their egos.
The Last Legion (2007)
Imperialistic, naive, inaccurate, cute and therefore insanely funny.
Oh, dear. It's a really bad movie, but still worth watching, even for laughs (or for unshaven Colin Firth).
I swear I was told it is an "epic historical drama". By my sense, it is just a little less historically accurate than "Asterix in Britain". Why didn't they go for a full fantasy picture, but only used style of filming typical for fantasy movies and pretended to be using historical setting? Maybe that's how you could film a legend.
Legends, however, most of all show how certain people today want to define their identity. By this interpretation of the Arthurian legend Britain apparently says: "we, the British, have the true spirit of Roman soldiers, and totally so do Black and Hindu people under our rule." I'm not sure if it's plain imperialism or just political correctness gone wrong and whether I should laugh (well, I did almost every time I saw that fat African-American dude among the Roman legionaries) or just get sick (it's a modern movie, do people really think that way?). I think Firth's many roles as an upper-class English gentleman contribute to this picture.
There are many things that didn't make sense neither historically nor within the plot. It's hard to say whether the creators of the movie were ignorant or rather purposefully wanted to show their beliefs and values regardless of the general knowledge. I'm not going to list every detail, but surely the better you know history, the louder you'll laugh.
Putting the confusing overtones and nonsensical settings aside, it is an enjoyable adventure with some funny moments and moving hugs. The movie is also family-friendly, because there is nothing inappropriate except sword fights. And even though Aishwarya Rai looks gorgeous, there's no chemistry between the male and female protagonists, the romance is implied just because they are the male and female protagonists. The implication is so weak, that I (an imaginative adult) honestly though they lied on the bed together because it was cold.
My guess about the target audience was perfect. Within IMDb demographics the movie is rated the highest by Males under 18 (action-adventure plot with a sophistication of the last decade's PC game) and Females over 45 (sincerly, Colin Firth has never looked so manly in any other movie). Doesn't it speak volumes?
I must have really overrated the movie with 4 stars, but at least I had a good laugh and didn't get bored. Also, there was the moon shown twice in different phases, which is the most rare things in movies (in almost all cases it is only the full moon which is the proper hint that it is night) and that excuses the poorly digitally pasted backgrounds in view scenes and saves a star.
Dear me, I still can't stop laughing. Maybe re-reading some fragments from a history book and re-watching "Mamma Mia!" will help me restore sanity.
And if there is any new movie about Spartans, Vikings and Ninjas coming out, make sure Colin Firth is in it. Unshaven.
The King's Speech (2010)
Empathy, so much empathy
Two things which lured me to the theater were the cast and the genre: the rare case of a biography with the elements of comedy, my top favorite among comedies. Two things that made the movie memorable were the reconstruction of the time period with a rather modern insight and the close bond with the main character, it really felt like being there and then.
This movie is a touching drama with a lovely humor, but can be a really scary catastrophe thriller for anyone who has any kind of speech impediment, stage fright or other problem with public speaking. The emotions you get before an exam or a public presentation will be back on you in the theater. Oh, the horror! Bertie, do you want a hug?
I really appreciate how the main characters were portrayed; it was easy to see their strong and weak points, their fears and ambitions. Helena Bonham Carter was the Dutchess/Queen with class but also with nerve, and the two leading actors created a warm and strong married couple. Geoffrey Rush showed us Lionel Logue as a clever man with the greatest empathy, who was also very much ahead of his era with the approach to the therapy.
It was interesting to see the society in which mass media, public relations and personal life coaches would seem much of a novelty, but apparently it was already coming. I liked the way the movie showed good and bad sides of monarchy, both for the members of the royal family and for the nation (er... Empire).
It was a memorable movie certainly worth watching even if due to the emotional bond with King George it makes you feel like having a cigarette, pronouncing random dirty words and becoming a Colin Firth fan-girl forever more.
Maybe Baby (2000)
Absolutely nothing to laugh at
This movie has definitely left me with mixed feelings. I'm not sure if it is a comedy which failed to be funny or is it a realistic drama which is actually supposed to give us the real feeling of frustration. Let's face it, there's Hugh Laurie and Rowan Atkinson and still no humor, at least for me. It's quite suspicious.
I can't tell how real infertile couples would feel about this movie, yet, sympathetic as I am, I simply don't like the main characters, even though the actors are really sweet. That's also a little surprising. I can't have enough feeling for this leading couple, they don't seem to be a loving family to me. I see them as two rather selfish people who crave each for their own career and conceiving a baby is just one of the goals in their lives and not being able to succeed frustrates them. It's only near the end when it is said how Lucy (Joely Richardson) feels about becoming a mom, but it's not enough for me to get into her shoes.
But maybe that's the whole point, to show the shallowness of relationships in today's world and a complete inability to deal with failure and weakness. I'm not sure whether it's the thing that the characters learned in the end and/or the message that most viewers would get.
An interesting point, however, was that the reason of their infertility was no medical condition. It really does happen to healthy people, maybe stress, lifestyle and paradoxically, too high expectations. The movie indeed tells something true about relationships and society, but maybe not the nicest things we would like to hear.
I give this movie a credit as a comedy for 2 funny moments: Hugh Laurie on the piano singing about sperm tests, and an actor on a rehearsal reciting "why do birds in English have such dirty names like 'cock' or 'tit'", it keeps me laughing since then.
I can't decided if it's a good or bad movie, it's up to you. I can honestly recommend it only to die-hard Hugh Laurie fans for the sake of watching Hugh Laurie riding a motorbike, playing music and taking his pants off. Yup, excuse me.
Hard Rock Zombies (1985)
It's so bad that it's actually... bad.
You can guess it is not a movie to watch with high expectations, but there should be at least something for the actual fans of the genre i.e. extremely low budget zombie movies, rock'n'roll and the 80s as such. Sadly, there isn't. Technically speaking this production it is not even a movie, but a remade 20-minute piece and you can notice the desperation of the filmmakers trying to fill the other 78 minutes with anything at all, which included full songs played by the band on stage, totally random interludes and repeating the same video sequences. The unrelated scenes could disturb the plot and the logical course of events, if there were any, but in fact there wasn't much.
This movie is quite different from other zombie movies, surely it is gory and tasteless at moments, but for the most part it is incredibly boring and the things which make no sense are not even that funny. It can be quite a disappointment for hard rock and heavy metal fans (who are most likely to pick this movie: come on, zombies, Hitler and rock'n'roll) because it doesn't really feature the 80s' music they would listen to. The tracks are not hard rock and not even rock'n'roll. I liked the love ballad "Cassie's Song" though. I think I'll even give the movie an extra star for that (the base rating was 2 for "bad, but I managed to watch it till the end").
I find this movie a little too bad even for people specifically interested in bad movies. Unless things like Nazi zombie midgets really do it for you, then you totally should go for it.
The Devil's Arithmetic (1999)
I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.
Believe or not, after my first visit to Auschwitz museum at the age of 14 I spent some time killing my awful thoughts with a fantasy about how great it would be to travel in time and save at least one person. I was a little more than surprised when I found out that someone actually dared to make a fantasy movie about a death camp with definitely teenage impact and somehow escaped ending up with it being stupid or offensive.
This movie is a good introduction for the young ones into history and more serious movies on the subject. The best thing to do was to give contemporary teenagers (especially the more ignorant ones) a character to identify with - a cute, trendy, careless girl. As Hannah experiences the painful history through an episode from her aunt's life, we understand that it is not so easy to understand what happened unless you have really been there or have enough empathy. Indeed, this movie teaches a lot about empathy, respect and sacrifice. (And that the USA is the Promised Land and the best place to live for all the Jews and other innocent, brave, freedom-loving people. Really, they've seriously overdone that bit).
The incomplete historical background is the major drawback. All that is seen is the life of a happy Jewish rural town and the transport to the death camp executed by an extremely stereotypical almost cartoon-like "bad Nazi". Nothing at all about the reasons and course of war, different nations and the whole variety of people's attitudes, behavior and decisions. I guess it would make the movie too long and complex for short attention span audiences. Wink.
Simplified as it was, this movie had some charming elements. Cute Kirsten Dunst and Brittany Murphy, the references to the Wizard of Oz and even a little humor, which wasn't dark but optimistic (for some reason the dialogue about cheeseburgers totally won my heart).
The whole time-travel plot worked out fine: Hannah had learned her lesson about the painful past of her family and other Jews as well as about the good and strength that was in her, but still aunt Eva didn't believe that her spoiled rebellious niece and the heroic friend from the camp were the same person, which puts our feet back on the ground.
The message is understandable and deep: we cannot change the past, but we can learn from it.
Happy Feet (2006)
Very illogical if not offensive movie which might make me hate penguins.
"Haters will hate!", "Haters are conservative!", "Haters don't see it is a funny movie for kiddos!".
Hello, I'm a hater, nice to meet you! I don't generally hate children's movies and literature. I find most of them great fun for both grown-ups and little ones. But this can be only achieved when the movie offers fun and action with a bit of education to the kids and something to move the adults or make them think. This movie offers nothing but very illogical "teaching" about environment for the children and sex jokes for the adults. Besides, call me whatever names, but I assure you, children to some extent do tell dry-humping from "playing" or "dancing". Even to think such content is all what we expect from a family movie is offensive to the intellect of any age group.
I finally decided to give this picture 2 stars, for I appreciate the way they animated sea and sky and all the work on choreography, but the plot, characters and dialogs deserve minus rating.
If I had this silly habit of talking to myself, I would have whispered "What?", "Why?" and "Excuse me!" quite often.
The major failure is the clash of anthropomorphic animals with actual humans. For me it worked in "Ice Age", scored a weak pass in "Ratatouille" and hit the very bottom here. If there are actual humans in the movie (of one kind), why are there different human ethnicities, cultures and religions mapped on the penguins? It is so illogical that it hurts. And it's also closer to offensive (stereotypes) than liberal (variety). Also, the allusions to religion are very much biased, since the leaders are portrayed as dumb, selfish and forbidding others from having fun and being themselves.
It is unbelievably ironic that this production won an Oscar over "Cars", which had no religious themes (thanks God!), but taught that there is something else in life than our personal goals that it is worth to slow down for and that the old ones have their story to tell and deserve respect and friendship. Ewww, so "conservative"! Now I see clearly the spirit of the filmmakers and critics in general.
As for the "educative" part about saving environment and endangered species on our planet the story was also illogical and didn't lead me to expected conclusions "we should be aware and caring". Instead it filled my head with a bunch of ridiculous thoughts and associations.
If I had just discovered that there exists a colony of penguins with near-human intelligence attempting to communicate with our species I would advocate a long-term research on their abilities and tried to create and artificial language of communication between them and us. That would surely change a lot more in our study of nature than simply giving up fishing.
It's quite sad and unfair to make children believe that politicians or entrepreneurs will change anything because animals can "tell" them something. To push my train of thought yet a bit more off the rail, all animals need the resources we are using (water, food, forest). It is such a serious and heartbreaking issue that it's the high time for us as the human race to commit a mass suicide, so that aliens could carry our souls out of this Earth and we would leave it all to the animals who tap and sing Gospel songs about mating.
Sarcasm over. Review over.
Pan Tadeusz (1999)
Pretty illustration to the book, but can't really function as an independent picture.
I don't blame any non-Polish viewers for being confused or simply bored. Not at all. At the moment I'm even trying to imagine how it feels watching this picture without being able to refer anytime to the knowledge of the book and the cultural background. I guess it makes you feel lost and empty-headed.
First of all, the screen play was created in a very unusual way. The dialogs were not written, but extracted from the poem, some of them being full rhyming lines and some only parts. Of course most of the meaningful and informative pieces were in the narrative section of the poem and somehow didn't make it to the screen. I'm all for "show not tell", but "don't show, don't tell, everybody knows it all from school" is not the top shelf of movie-making to me.
All that is shown is pretty people, pretty costumes, pretty interiors, pretty nature. Definitely pleasant to see for anyone who likes pictures with historical settings and would like to get to know something about the life in a particular time and place.
The movie really works only for people who have read the poem and have been taught about its historical background. After such preparation they can enjoy this multimedia reconstruction of the characters and places from the book, because that's rather what it is to me. Indeed, all the actors are good, music memorable and all the details nicely done, but this production really lacks the cinematic backbone and something that would allow it to be a movie on its own.
Disco ormene (2008)
Predictable yet enjoyable musical family movie
When I saw the first trailer I was rather skeptical about another animated movie made to promote celebrities through giving them voice roles and singing old hits all over again. I was surprised to see that it was actually very well done. The version which I watched was dubbed by Polish soap-opera actors, pop-rock singers and talent-show jurors so every worm got a celebrity matching their character and the arrangements of songs were very well done. My wild guess is that other language versions worked in a similar way.
The animation is fairly nice, with many background details and fantastically designed body language of the worms whose tail-gestures make up for the lack of arms.
The plot is very predictable, so I won't even try to spoil it. The movie reminds us that we should never give up on dreams, follow our heart, be proud of our children whatever they are good at, believe in ourselves and our friends, be able to express ourselves and not be posers. Rather typical stuff, but good to be reminded of from time to time.
A very good point of the movie is that it is suitable for people of all ages. Children will follow the simple plot, teenagers will laugh at the characters and adults will pick up the satire on relations between generations and the dull life of working people.
I recommend it to families with children and suggest some dancing during the final scene and credits.